Rocha v. U-Haul Co. of Cal., 88 Cal. App. 5th 65 (2023)

Thomas and Jimmy Rocha alleged FEHA and Labor Code violations against their employer U-Haul. The brothers’ individual PAGA claims were compelled to arbitration where they subsequently lost on all causes of action. The Rochas then moved to vacate the arbitrator’s award, but the trial court confirmed the award and imposed sanctions. The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that issue preclusion applied because the Rochas were not “aggrieved employees” as required for standing under PAGA. Therefore, the arbitrator’s finding that the brothers did not suffer any Labor Code violations precluded them from acting as aggrieved employees. The opinion criticized Gavriiloglou v. Prime Healthcare Mgmt., Inc., 83 Cal. App. 5th 595 (2022), which held that issue preclusion did not apply to the subsequent PAGA action because the plaintiff was not operating in the same capacity. The Rocha court noted that there is no “same capacity” requirement for issue preclusion.