Arias v. Superior Court, 2009 WL 1838973 (Cal. S. Ct. 2009)

Jose Arias sued his former employer, Angelo Dairy, for a number of alleged violations of the California Labor Code, including five claims that he asserted on behalf of himself as well as other current and former employees under the Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”). The trial court granted the employer’s motion to strike all five claims that Arias purported to assert on behalf of himself and others on the ground that he had failed to comply with the pleading requirements of a class action (Code Civ. Proc. § 382). The Court of Appeal held that all causes of action brought in a representative capacity alleging violations of the UCL (with the exception of the claim asserting a violation of the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (“PAGA”)) were subject to the class action pleading requirements. The California Supreme Court affirmed, holding that although Proposition 64 (passed by the voters in 2004) requires that a private party asserting a UCL claim in a representative capacity satisfy the class action requirements, an aggrieved employee need not satisfy those requirements in order to assert a representative action under PAGA. Cf. Amalgamated Transit Union v. Superior Court¸ 2009 WL 1838972 (Cal. S. Ct. 2009) (labor union could not bring a representative action under PAGA either as an assignee or association whose members had suffered actual injury); In re Tobacco II Cases, 46 Cal. 4th 298 (2009) (class action standing requirements for UCL claim need only be satisfied by class representatives and not unnamed class members); Sanders Constr. Co. v. Cerda, 2009 WL 1844280 (Cal. Ct. App. 2009) (employees of unlicensed subcontractor may assert wage claims against general contractor pursuant to Labor Code § 2750.5).