It isn’t every day that a state court overturns a decision by the United States Supreme Court. But it isn’t unheard of either. And that is exactly what happened on Monday, July 17 when the California Supreme Court issued its decision in Adolph v. Uber Technologies, Inc.
The Adolph decision comes as a direct response to a decision issued by the United States Supreme Court in Viking River v. Moriana last year. In Viking River, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a plaintiff loses standing under California’s Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) to pursue representative, class-like relief in court when that plaintiff’s individual PAGA claims have been sent to arbitration.
The California Supreme Court overturned this ruling on the grounds that standing under PAGA is determined by California state statute and that the United States Supreme Court misinterpreted California law. Adding insult to injury, the California Supreme Court went on to say that the United States Supreme Court’s ruling to the contrary was wholly untethered to any legal authority in California.
Practically, yesterday’s ruling means that a plaintiff whose individual PAGA claims have been sent to arbitration may continue to assert PAGA claims on a representative basis in court. While yesterday’s decision is not entirely surprising, the decision is the latest in a long line of (mainly) anti-employer decisions issued by the justices sitting on the Golden State’s highest court.
But all hope is not lost—at least not technically. For the California Supreme Court held that a plaintiff could lose standing to maintain a representative PAGA claims in court if—and this is a big if—he or she entirely loses on the merits in arbitration. A tall order, but not necessarily an impossible one.
For more information on the case and how it can impact your business, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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