Explaining that relief under the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act “is designed primarily to benefit the general public, not the party bringing the action,” the Supreme Court in Kim v. Reins International California, Inc. today holds that employees don’t lose standing to pursue civil penalties on the state’s behalf under PAGA if they settle and dismiss their individual claims.

The court’s unanimous opinion by Justice Carol Corrigan says that a “PAGA claim is legally and conceptually different from an employee’s own suit for damages and statutory penalties” because a “PAGA claim is ‘a dispute between an employer and the state.’ ”  And it “construe[s] PAGA’s provisions broadly” because the legislation was “meant to protect employees.”

The court reverses the Second District, Division Four, Court of Appeal.