SHRM Quotes Gary McLaughlin on PAGA Decision Permitting Broad Discovery

Akin Gump labor and employment partner Gary McLaughlin has been quoted in the Society for Human Resource Management article “California Supreme Court’s PAGA Decision Permits Broad Discovery,” which reports on the California Supreme Court case Williams v. Superior Court, in which a former Marshalls employee sought contact information for all the retailer’s workers in California. With the court ruling that the plaintiff could seek the information without first providing an evidentiary showing that they were aggrieved employees, the article reports that the decision will allow broad, statewide discovery in Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) cases.

The article notes that, under PAGA, aggrieved employees can recover civil penalties over alleged labor code violations and can sue on behalf of themselves, other workers and the state.

According to McLaughlin, the Williams case puts PAGA actions on equal footing as class actions regarding discovery of employee contact information. The ruling will likely make PAGA actions even more appealing for plaintiffs, he said, citing two previous decisions in which the state Supreme Court ruled that plaintiffs in PAGA actions do not need to meet class action certification requirements, and employers cannot force employees to arbitrate PAGA claims.

In the Williams case, the employer attempted to “push back against the rising tide of PAGA actions and decisions that [have] made it easier and easier to litigate PAGA claims,” McLaughlin said.