Today the Retail Litigation Center (RLC) and the California Retailers Association (CRA) jointly filed an amicus brief with the California Supreme Court seeking clarification of the law concerning the scope of discovery under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA). PAGA grants an employee a right of action against an employer and on behalf of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) for violations of the state labor code.
The brief relates to the case of Michael Williams v. Marshalls of Ca., LLC, in which Williams, an employee of Marshalls, alleged the company committed labor violations. During discovery, Williams sought the contact information for employees state-wide, but the trial court only ordered the information of employees from his store. Williams appealed that decision, but the Court of Appeal upheld the trial court’s original discovery order, citing privacy concerns of non-litigant employees.
Subsequently, and according to the amicus brief filed, retailers want to ensure that in future PAGA litigation, “the trial court’s role in determining the appropriate scope and sequence of PAGA discovery” is clearly defined. Specifically, that in cases where massive discovery is unnecessary or without factual support, that the trial court use their discretion to appropriately manage, sequence, or limit the discovery.
“The discovery demands within PAGA litigation can be intrusive, costly, and burdensome for employers and employees alike, particularly when one considers the number of store locations, employees, and positions each company represents within the state of California alone,” said Deborah White, president of the RLC. “With clarification by the Court, discovery disputes can be more easily resolved and the privacy of employees can be protected.”
According to the brief:
“The trial court’s order sequencing discovery is consistent with and logically flows … because it would be unduly burdensome, expensive, and intrusive to require Marshalls (and also the trial court) to expend significant time and resources on representative discovery related to thousands of other employees if Williams is unable to show that the Labor Code violations he alleges he suffered have at least some factual merit.”
The Retail Litigation Center is a public policy organization that identifies and engages in legal proceedings which affect the retail industry. The RLC, whose members include some of the country's largest retailers, was formed to provide courts with retail industry perspectives on significant legal issues, and highlight the potential industry-wide consequences of legal principles that may be determined in pending cases.