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Rosales v. Uber Technologies, Inc. (CA2/8 B305546 4/30/21) Arbitration/PAGA 

By April 30, 2021Uncategorized

Defendant Uber Technologies, Inc. moved to compel arbitration in a case where the plaintiff, Damaris Rosales, alleged a single cause of action for wage violations under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA, Lab. Code, § 2698 et seq.).  Plaintiff was an Uber driver under a written agreement stating she was an independent contractor and all disputes would be resolved by arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA, 9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq.).  The agreement delegated to the arbitrator decisions on the enforceability or validity of the arbitration provision.  The trial court denied defendant’s motion to compel arbitration.

Defendant contends plaintiff cannot bring a PAGA claim in court unless or until an arbitrator first decides whether she has standing to bring a PAGA claim—that is, whether she is an employee who can seek penalties under PAGA on behalf of the state, or an independent contractor who cannot.  We conclude, as has every other California court presented with this or similar issues, that the threshold question whether plaintiff is an employee or an independent contractor cannot be delegated to an arbitrator.  Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s order.