In addition, justices said unions cannot bring representative actions under the state's five-year-old Private Attorneys General
Act because they are not "aggrieved employees.
needs private attorneys general
to assist in protecting victims'
Schwarzenegger helped revise the California Private Attorneys General
Act of 2004, which created new penalty risks for employers and formed the cornerstone of hundreds of class-action lawsuits alleging Labor Code violations ranging from overtime pay practices to workplace poster font size infractions.
Private attorneys general
provide a "backup" remedy when government bureaucracies fail to protect the public adequately.
The decision would "impede access to court for the less well-heeled, and shrink the incentive Congress created for the enforcement of federal law by private attorneys general
," Justice Ginsburg said.
The workers' lawyers are also asking the State of California to appoint them as private attorneys general
so they may prosecute penalty claims on behalf of the State.
We are considered private attorneys general
in these types of civil rights cases, under both the statutory bulwark and in the public's eye," Gende emphasized.
The rationale for the bill is that in this time of budget difficulties, state resources for inspection and enforcement are being cut so, "It is therefore in the public interest to provide that civil penalties for violations of the Labor Code may also be assessed and collected by aggrieved employees acting as private attorneys general
Congress intended these fee awards to serve as a remedy so that citizens acting as private attorneys general
would have a "meaningful opportunity" to enforce the law and effectuate congressional policy.
The revised law, officially known as the Labor Code Private Attorneys General
Act of 2004, eases some of the provisions of the original, but does not eliminate litigation risks for California employers and out-of-state companies doing business in California.
And private attorneys general
who are seeking constructive trusts and corrective advertising are trusts plaintiff.
The Court recognized that under all of the federal "citizen protection" statutes authorizing consumers to act as private attorneys general
in the public interest, the award of attorneys' fees in meritorious cases is "essential to enforcement" of the laws, stating: