Representative Wage Claims

We have represented both employers and (primarily) employees, in representative wage claims including class actions and Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) claims. Representing both sides has given us greater perspective and effectiveness, than just representing one side.

Aside from the fact that class actions and PAGA claims are both representative claims which require court approval of any settlements, they are different in virtually every other way. Class actions involve a waivable right to be compensated for various labor code violations. PAGA claims involve penalties intended to punish offenders and remediate illegal pay practices. PAGA claims are often mistakenly confused and compared with class actions.

It has been our general practice to choose individual wage claims in lieu of class actions, coupled with PAGA claims when appropriate because our clients often recover far more in an individual wage claim with PAGA when compared to a class action representative or class member. It has been our experience that class representatives and class members recover a small fraction of what employees can recover in an individual wage claim. For example, we recovered $4 million in a PAGA case against a chain restaurant for meal and rest period violations as compared to a class action lawsuit for numerous other claims including overtime, wage statement violations, waiting time penalties, etc., during the same time period for the same employees, which more than twice the amount recovered in the class action lawsuit. Also see the Horton trial results below which illustrate the same disparities.

We have gone to trial four times in cases involving PAGA claims, as follows:

2024

Trial Results Pending in Phase II (Bench/Court)

Barragan v. LNG Logistics, Inc. and Luis Gomez, SDSC Case No. 37 – 2017 – 00023393-CL-OE-CTL. Phase II (PAGA claims) was tried at the end of January 2024 with closing briefs due in March. Results are currently pending.

2022

Trial Victory in Phase I (Jury)

Barragan v. LNG Logistics, Inc. and Luis Gomez, SDSC Case No. 37 – 2017 – 00023393-CL-OE-CTL. We received a jury verdict in favor of our client for unpaid wages, and other Labor Code violations. The verdict was rendered in April 2022 which provided standing to pursue the PAGA penalties on behalf of other aggrieved employees in a Phase II (Bench trial), as noted above.

2019/2020

$4.25 Million Dollar Recovery, After Four Week Trial

Horton v. Trident Society, Inc., Neptune Society, Inc. Neptune Management Corp., SCI Direct, Inc., and Guy Allen, SDSC Case No. 37-2016-00039356-CU-OE-CTL. Preliminary decision issued on April 19, 2019, in favor of our client for sexual harassment (for which court awarded $250,000 (everything we asked for), $70,402.90 for individual wage claims, PAGA (Private Attorney General Act) claims on behalf of over 30 outside salespeople and costs/fees award as the prevailing party bringing the total judgment to just under $2.5 million. This was followed by recovery of an additional $1.78 million for 16 additional individual worker misclassification/wage claims. This brought the total recovery to ~$3.8 million. Three other individual claims referred out yielded an additional $455,000, bringing the total payout to ~$ 4.3 million. Notably, all employees we represented who opted out of a class action lawsuit filed by other attorneys, recovered significantly more than those who did not opt out of the class action. For example Ms. Horton recovered 24 times the amount she would have recovered in the class.

2019

Mid Trial Confidential Recovery For Pet Store Employees

Cubias, et. al. v. Protein For Pets, LLC, et. al., SDSC Case No. 37-2016-00045232-CU-OE-CTL . We recovered ~20 times more than what defendant offered pre-trial, after the defendant business owner was cross-examined by Thom Diachenko in this wage and hour/PAGA case, he decided it was time to pay what was needed to adequately compensate our clients.

2018

Appellate Victory Affirming Judgment ($958,834 Post Appeal)

Atempa v. Pedrazzani (2018) 27 Cal.App.5th 809. The published Atempa decision is well recognized and frequently cited by attorneys experienced in this practice area. The Atempa case throughout the state as legal authority for its holding that individual business owners can be held personally liable for the PAGA penalties, as well as the costs and attorney fees required to recover them through trial, post judgment and appeal.

2015

Post Trial Judgment of $958,834, Representing Two Restaurant Workers With PAGA Claims For Other Aggrieved Employees

Marco Atempa and Keilyn Reyes v. PAMA Inc., and Paolo Pedrazzani, SDSC Case No. 37-2013-00058208-CU-OE-CTL. After a bench trial, Thom Diachenko secured a plaintiffs’ judgment for $958,834. The verdict included $197,434 awarded pursuant to the California Private Attorney General Act (PAGA), which, at the time, was one of only a handful of PAGA plaintiff’s verdicts in the state.