EXCLUSIVE: The Real Business Owners Burned by PAGA—the Private Attorneys General Act

EXCLUSIVE: The Real Business Owners Burned by PAGA—the Private Attorneys General Act
Blaine Eascott and Maria Schaeffer at the CABIA Scotus Rally on March 30. (Screenshot credit: Jennifer Oliver O'Connell)

Tim Brickley. Blaine Eastcott. Bob “BJ” McCoy. Bruce Wick. Gwen Gordon. This handful of business owners left their businesses to come to Washington, D.C. to make it plain: The Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) needs to be reformed.

RedState reported on the March 30 California Business and Industrial Alliance (CABIA) Rally on the Supreme Court steps of which these business owners took part. Blaine Eastcott, owner of Rockreation Climbing Gyms, and Maria Schaeffer, director of administration for Brickley Environmental have had to deal with a PAGA lawsuit at their companies, and spoke directly from the perspective of employer and employee.

Even though a PAGA lawsuit may seem like it doesn’t affect employees, it does.

“Well, it’s the boss’s issue, but it takes away from the employees so there is no more latitude, Schaeffer said.

“They have no flexibility now. You can’t just give someone time off. You can’t just say, come in when you can, or when you need to leave, don’t worry about it, make up your time.”

Eastcott, who has two locations of his company explains why the employees, and the community of customers, ultimately get shafted.

“I have to borrow money to pay it [the PAGA lawsuit] off, Eastcott said.

“Which means if I am paying a pocket lawsuit, I’m not paying my employees a better wage. I’m not paying the bonuses when, you know Christmas rolls around, or when the company does better. [I cannot do this] because I’m burdened by these loans. I’m not buying amenities, or pouring back into the community of people that use the facilities. Lastly, I’m not reaping the benefits as an owner and putting money away for my kid’s college and things like that.”

Schaeffer also highlighted the administrative and financial restrictions that affect employees after a PAGA lawsuit is filed.

“You can’t just hand them a bonus ’cause they’ve done a great job. There’s no rewards. If you recognize one, you have to recognize all. So, it’s very burdensome.”

Along with CABIA, other organizations such as Western Growers Association, which represents agricultural concerns in the state, and the California Chamber of Commerce are also pushing for PAGA reform. Both Schaeffer and Eastcott hope that a favorable Supreme Court decision in Viking River Cruises Inc. v. Moriana, along with the success of the California Fair Pay and Employer Accountability Act (CFPEAA) ballot initiative will do much to enact reform, and even the repeal of PAGA.

“Hopefully there’s some reforms,” Schaeffer said.

“It needs to be. It’s going to push companies out of California for sure.”

Eastcott affirms this, and in terms of his company, he may already be there. If Eastcott does choose to expand his business past two locations, his next location will be in a more business-friendly state, like Arizona or Nevada.

“I’m hoping that the Supreme Court recognizes that this law has been twisted and that they will start the conversation that can educate the public,” he said.

“I’m hoping in June it gets overturned, so that [the law] actually gets reformed where it protects employees, isn’t so costly to businesses, and doesn’t enrich trial attorneys.”

Here is Blaine Eastcott’s story and Rally speech:


Maria Schaeffer’s Rally speech is here:

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