$9M Settlement Approved to Resolve Target’s PAGA Seating Suits

by Norman B. Blumenthal on August 17, 2018

blumenthal nordrehaug bhowmik de blouw llp, california employment law, california employment law attorneys, california paga suit, California paga lawsuit, paga violationsThe end of July 2018 marked a significant move towards resolution of seating suits for Target when a California judge said he would approve the Target Corp. $9 million settlement. The settlement would resolve several seating suits alleging that the retailer violated California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) when they failed to provide seating for over 90,000 cashiers. The judge referred to the settlement as a “model deal” yet also made his discomfort clear regarding the 40% attorneys’ fee included in the deal.

Alameda Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman did approve the settlement in spite of being uncomfortable with the $3.9 million in fees and $200,000 in costs because the lodestar was reasonable. The settlement resolves Valeria Enombang’s lawsuit against Target, the retail giant. She filed the suit in March 2017 in California state court along with PAGA claims in two federal suits. The two federal suits have been pending in California federal courts since 2009. Enombang claims in the suits that Target did not provide cashiers with seats during their shifts and that failing to do so was in violation of PAGA.

PAGA allows workers to sue in order to recover civil penalties on their own behalf and on behalf of other employees and California when there are alleged labor code violations in the workplace.

Federal lawsuits were stayed in 2012 pending the outcome of other similar suits over seating that listing other major retailers as Defendants: Wal-Mart, CVS Pharmacies, and JPMorgan & Chase. All were headed to the Ninth Circuit. The cases were kicked to the Supreme Court in January 2014 for clarification of the state labor statute’s seating provisions. After the Supreme Court’s ruling, litigation resumed on the federal suits and Enombang filed, citing PAGA violations. The parties quickly reached an agreement through mediation.

According to the settlement, the named plaintiffs in the lawsuits will receive $20,000 each. 75% of the remaining funds after administrative costs will go to California’s Labor Workforce Development Agency. The remaining 25% will go to the cashiers. The giant retailer also agreed to implement a two-year pilot-program that would offer cashiers seats as part of the settlement agreement.

When the judge noted that the incentive payments were high, the plaintiffs’ legal counsel argued that they were necessary to encourage low-wage workers to pursue litigation in spite of the risk.

The deal is the second-largest settlement in a PAGA lawsuit over seating, just behind Bank of America’s $15 million settlement deal in 2016.

If you have questions or concerns about PAGA violations in the workplace, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

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