By: Phillip J. Ebsworth

Seyfarth Synopsis: The Second District, following Adolph and not Viking River, confirms that a PAGA plaintiff does not lose standing to pursue a PAGA claim if they “did not file an individual cause of action seeking individual relief.”

In Balderas, the employee alleged that she was “not suing in her individual capacity” but “solely under the PAGA, on behalf of the State of California for all aggrieved employees.” The trial court, on its own motion, struck the complaint because the employee “had not filed an individual action seeking PAGA relief for herself” and therefore lacked standing to pursue the representative PAGA claim. The Second District reversed the trial court’s order holding that the trial court improperly relied on the U.S. Supreme Court’s “observations about PAGA standing that conflicted with what the California legislature intended” which had since been corrected by the California Supreme Court in Adolph v. Uber Technologies, Inc.

The Second District’s opinion focused only on PAGA’s standing requirement and did not address the fact that a PAGA claim must be brought on behalf of the individual and other current or former employees.” An argument, that was implicitly endorsed by the Supreme Court in Adolph when it stated that having the individual PAGA claim in arbitration and the representative claim in state court satisfied this requirement. Accordingly, Balderas should not be read to mean that a plaintiff is not required to seek recovery of civil penalties under PAGA for alleged Labor Code violations they individually suffered. Rather, that the plaintiff’s allegations sufficiently alleged both the individual and non-individual portions of a PAGA claim.