On April 12, 2016, Bill was invited to speak at the California Senate hearing regarding workers rights and wage theft.
Here is a transcript:
"My name’s Bill Turley. I’m with the Consumer Attorneys of California, I’m a trial lawyer, I’m a class action lawyer. I represent hundreds of thousands of California workers; I’m privileged to do so.
I really thank Mr. Gladstone, the administration and labor federation for agreeing to meet with us and discuss these important issues that we all know affect Californian workers today.
This is where I come from, my Dad drove a bread truck. I see, I’ve seen firsthand how an employer steal wages, how it affects families how they cant put food on the table; how they cant’ buy Christmas presents for their kids. Wage theft is one of the biggest problems in California today. And Ms. Vega’s right, what happened was is, with some bad court rulings by our U.S., United States Supreme Court, with forced arbitration now, so many workers in California, their only remedy for wage theft now is a PAGA because the forced arbitration, they don’t have any other remedy. There’s no other way to deter wage theft, other than a PAGA action. So it’s that backdrop that we look at this and it’s such an important to workers in California today. And so we thank the administration for working with us on this but we still have some concerns with what’s on the table.
First of all let’s talk about the notice requirements. The heightened notice requirements are problematic; let me give you an example: I have a case now where we have thirty to forty locations across California. We filed a PAGA action and when we filed a notice there was no way for us to know how many employers, past or current employees rather, were affected. So to include that in the notice requirements is unrealistic. The ninth circuit recently in Alcantara vs Hobart case upheld the dismissal of a PAGA action because not enough specificity, not enough information was provided in the notice. If you increase the notice requirements, you’re taking away these workers’ rights to bring a PAGA action cause the courts later on are gonna say “hey you didn’t put that in there when the legislature requires you to do so.”
The second problem we see is extending the PAGA deadlines for the investigation. These families that are having their wages stolen live paycheck to paycheck in so many instances. Extending the time limit out for them to get their recovery, is devastating to some of these families. We think that’s a big problem.
Finally, allowing the DIR to object the settlements is problematic, and this is one of the things we’ve been talking about with the administration. We think its problematic as one, it extends the deadlines, extends the recovery time, but secondly is, we think the biggest problem with PAGA today is the penalties are discretionary. No-one is in better position than the judge to approve these settlements, and that’s what our feeling is on that issue.
Now the final thing is this: we are in serious discussions with the administration and with labor. We hope to come back with something we can all agree on. Thank you so much.
Excuse me Mr. Chairman, can I add? The consumer attorneys of California also agree that it would be a benefit of a legislative policy analysis with these important issues. Thank you."