Private Attorney General Act of 2004: Definition & Significance

Instructor: Julie Wickersham

Julie studied English and Spanish for her Bachelor degree and also has a Master's degree in Human Resources.

In this lesson, we will discuss the Private Attorney General Act of 2004 and how employers need to ensure they are up-to-date with the most current labor laws. If not up to standards, employers could be faced with an expensive lawsuit with their employees.

Imagine being rewarded for filing a class action lawsuit against your employer because they were in violation of the government's labor code. In other words, an employee makes a profit if their employer does not follow the strict guidelines of the state's labor laws.

About the Private Attorney Act of 2004

The Private Attorney General Act of 2004 is a labor law that was passed by Governor Davis that grants every employee of any employer in California the ability to file class action lawsuits should their employer have any violation of the California Labor Code. Under this law, an employee can actually be rewarded for filing lawsuits. No matter how small of an infraction it may be, an employee who files a lawsuit against their employer for being in violation to code, he or she could be rewarded a percentage of the lawsuit winnings. With this in mind, it is important that employers located in the state of California take preventative measures to ensure they are not in violation.

Any employee in the state of California has the ability to sue their employer as long as he or she can show that his or her rights were violated. With this in mind, the employee could receive up to 25% of the penalties, and those who are working on behalf of the Workforce Development Agency for violations of the Labor Code take are rewarded the remaining 75%.

An example would consist of an employer not paying you overtime. This allows the employee to begin the process to file a lawsuit against the employer. Another example consists of employee literacy assistance within the California labor laws. Under the state's laws, it states that an employer should assist any employee who demonstrates a need for literacy assistance or specifically requires assistance. Finally, in terms of language translation requirements, any employee is entitled to have language translation assistance to fully understand a type of service or benefit. Should the employer not comply with these codes or any other listed within the documentation, this would be automatic grounds for a lawsuit to be filed because the employer is not abiding California's Private Attorney General Act of 2004 by labor codes.

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