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Assemblymember Kalra Announces PAGA Legislation to Strengthen Worker Protection

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – Today, Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San José), introduced language in AB 2288 to amend the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). AB 2288 builds upon PAGA’s success as a vital tool to enforce workers’ rights and will strengthen worker protection by allowing injunctive relief.


“As corporations pour millions of dollars into breaking down PAGA and whittling away the few resources Californians have to find recourse, I am proud to author AB 2288 to strengthen PAGA by adding injunctive relief to the court’s toolbox. This will ensure there is meaningful change in the workplace by allowing the courts to order employers to remedy when they break the law, whether they’re committing wage theft, misclassifying employees, or putting workers’ health and safety at risk,” said Assemblymember Kalra. “As Chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, I look forward to partnering with a strong coalition of support and our co-sponsors, California Labor Federation and the Consumer Attorneys of California, to protect PAGA and ensure workers can hold accountable those employers who willfully violate their labor rights.”  


Injunctive relief in PAGA claims will allow courts to order employers to quickly correct and remediate violations that have occurred in the workplace in a manner that benefits all employees. For example, if an employer fails to provide workers with paid sick days, the court could order injunctive relief that would require the employer to establish a lawful paid sick days policy.


“Real PAGA reform means making the law more effective in ending wage theft and misclassification. AB 2288 does that by adding injunctive relief to stop corporations from continuing to violate labor laws,” said Lorena Gonzalez, principal officer of the California Labor Federation, a co-sponsor of AB 2288. “This bill will help ensure that companies who break the law can't simply treat penalties as a cost of doing business. PAGA provides one of the only tools for workers to hold abusive employers accountable and we're committed to making it better.”


“California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) is the cornerstone in a network of laws designed to protect workers from exploitation. Without it, workers would have virtually no access to justice in wage theft cases; and big corporations are working overtime to undermine workers’ rights by weakening PAGA,” said Kathryn Stebner, President, Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC). “CAOC is proud to support Asm. Kalra’s AB 2288, which empowers workers to hold employers accountable through court-ordered injunctions – legally prohibiting bad actors from stealing their employees’ wages.”


A recent court ruling in a case involving San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu against Qwick, a hospitality worker-employer, highlights the impact of allowing injunctive relief as a tool for enforcement. The City sued Qwick for misclassification of its workers and under the proposed Final Judgment and Injunction announced last week, Qwick agreed to pay its California workers $1.5 million in restitution and provide workers that stay on as employees a bank of accrued sick leave hours. The Qwick injunction will require the company to convert all of its misclassified California workers to employees, ensuring they are eligible for the full range of employee benefits and protections. This decision is possible because injunctive relief was included in AB 5, the misclassification law that the Qwick case was based on, providing workers with a meaningful tool for enforcement of that statute. AB 2288 simply seeks to save all parties time and money by applying similar injunctive relief authority to PAGA cases.


“A recent bombshell report from UCLA revealed that workers are at a massive disadvantage to fight wage theft: only 2% of the $2 billion workers lose to wage theft each year is actually recovered. We know California workers need more avenues to hold abusive employers accountable,” said Mariko Yoshihara, Legislative Counsel and Policy Director for the California Employment Lawyers Association. “That’s why Asm. Kalra’s leadership with AB 2288 is so important – giving workers the ability to seek injunctive relief under PAGA means courts can compel employers to change their bad behavior, stopping wage theft and making workers whole.”

“Workers’ rights are under attack in California, where powerful corporations are spending big money threatening to weaken the Private Attorneys General Act – one of the only tools workers have to hold their employers accountable for abuse,” said Amber Parrish, Executive Director with UFCW Western States Council. “AB 2288 is a powerful response from Asm. Kalra, which strengthens PAGA through injunctive relief – giving courts the power to order abusive employers to treat their workers with the dignity and respect they deserve.”




Assemblymember Ash Kalra represents California’s 25th Assembly District, which encompasses the majority of San José, including downtown and open space areas in southeast Santa Clara County. He was first elected in 2016, becoming the first Indian American to serve in the California Legislature in state history, and was re-elected to his fourth term in 2022. Assemblymember Kalra is the Chair of the Committee on Judiciary and also serves as a member on the Housing and Community Development, Local Government, and Natural Resources committees.