72 Percent of California Voters Support Reforming California’s Lawsuit-First PAGA System

Democrats, Republicans and Independents All Strongly Support Reforms to Empower State Regulators to Enforce Employee Labor Claims vs PAGAs Current Lawsuit-First System

Contact: Kathy Fairbanks, (916) 813-1010

Sacramento, CA – A new survey released today by the Fix PAGA coalition reveals that 72 percent of California voters support the state legislature reforming the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) to provide state regulators with increased authority to enforce employee labor complaints, while still allowing workers to bring claims through litigation if regulators cannot resolve satisfactorily.

What’s more, after a simulated campaign with voters hearing equal support and opposition arguments, 64 percent of voters continue to support the proposal.

A summary memo of the survey can be found here. The poll was conducted by Democratic research firm EMC Research between May 21-30.

Voters were initially asked if they would support legislation modeled after the provisions of the PAGA ballot initiative, which is currently eligible for the November 2024 ballot.

The proposal is supported by 72% of voters, including:

  • 84% of Democrats
  • 64% of independent voters
  • 56% of Republicans

Additionally, voters reacted strongly in favor of a series of statements supporting PAGA reforms, especially statements demonstrating that lawyers, not workers, benefit from the current lawsuit-first approach.

Message % Convincing
Too often the workers who bring labor claims are left with pennies on the dollar while lawyers walk away with millions. In a recent settlement, attorneys made $9 million while the impacted employees only received $20 each. This proposal will protect workers by ensuring they receive 100% of all penalties. 76%
State data shows that when independent state regulators handle workers’ claims, workers get three times as much money and their claims are resolved almost a full year faster compared to when workers hire an attorney and file a lawsuit. This proposal will ensure workers receive more money, resolve claims faster, and punish businesses who break the law. 71%
Right now, small businesses, non-profits and other California businesses are under constant threat of shakedown lawsuits by trial lawyers over small labor code technicalities. This proposal will protect small businesses from frivolous lawsuits while also making sure employees continue to have strong labor protections. 68%
This proposal is a win-win for workers and businesses. Companies wanting to do the right thing will have more resources and the chance to fix mistakes, and employees will get their claims resolved faster and receive more money without needing a high-priced attorney. 67%
The current system for resolving employee labor claims is failing workers. For the last 20 years, state law has given trial lawyers the primary power to enforce California’s employment laws, which has resulted in thousands of frivolous lawsuits against small businesses, and the majority of the $10 billion in settlements has gone to trial lawyers and not the workers. This proposal will restore enforcement authority to independent state regulators, resolve worker claims faster, ensure money for violations goes to workers, and stop abusive lawsuits that hurt small businesses. 67%

Arguments in opposition to the proposal weren’t as effective, with the top opposition message reaching 62% convincing (see arguments in memo). 

After both supporter and opponent messaging, 64% of voters continue to support the PAGA reform proposal, including:

  • 71% of Democrats
  • 59% of independent voters
  • 55% of Republicans