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Limited Exemption to PAGA for Some Janitorial Employees

On September 27, 2021, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 646 (SB 646), which limits janitorial employees represented by a labor organization and covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in effect before July 1, 2028, from filing suit under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (California Labor Code § 2689, et seq.)(PAGA).

Under SB 646, janitorial employees are no longer authorized to bring a civil action under PAGA if the applicable CBA provides for wages, hours worked (including overtime), and working conditions and fulfills other specified criteria.  “Janitorial employee” means an employee whose primary duties are “to clean and keep in an orderly condition commercial working areas and washrooms, or the premises of an office, multiunit residential facility, industrial facility, health care facility, amusement park, convention center, stadium, racetrack, arena, or retail establishment.”

The exemption does not cover the following:

  • Workers who specialize in window washing

  • Housekeeping staff who make beds and change linens as a primary responsibility

  • Workers working at airport facilities or cabin cleaning

  • Workers at hotels, card clubs, restaurants, or other foodservice operations

  • Grocery store employees and drug retail employees.

This PAGA exemption expires on the date the CBA expires or July 1, 2028, whichever is earlier.

This bill becomes effective January 1, 2022, and does not preclude a janitorial employee from pursuing any other civil action against their employer.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2023National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 271

About this Author

Lisa Barnett Sween, Labor, Litigation, harassment, discrimination, Jackson Lewis Law Firm
Principal and Office Litigation Manager San Francisco

Lisa Barnett Sween is a Principal and Litigation Manager of the San Francisco, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She represents employers in all aspects of employment law and litigation, including state and federal employment harassment and discrimination litigation, wrongful discharge litigation, FMLA, CFRA, ADA, and wage and hour litigation.

In addition to her litigation expertise, Ms. Sween regularly counsels employers on preventative employment policies and practices involving all areas of federal, state and local employment law, including recruiting...

Hardev S. Chhokar Employment Attorney Jackson Lewis

Hardev S. Chhokar is an Associate in the San Francisco, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C.  He represents clients in all areas of employment law litigation. 

Mr. Chhokar defends employers in state and federal court and has experience in class action and single plaintiff matters involving claims for wage and hour violations, breach of contract, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, and unfair competition.

Prior to joining Jackson Lewis, Mr. Chhokar developed...