Williams v. Superior Court is a significant decision for aggrieved employees pursuing wage and hour claims in representative PAGA actions. On July 13th, 2017 the California Supreme Court held that it does not present an undue burden on employers to produce contact information of all other employees who would be subject to unlawful company policies.
Williams filed a representative PAGA action against his employer, retailer Marshalls, for not providing employees with proper meal and rest breaks, and failing to provide timely wage payments and accurate wage statements. In early discovery, Williams requested contact information for 16,500 Marshall’s employees who would be subject to these violations. Marshalls objected, arguing that such discovery is overbroad, unduly burdensome, and invasive to the right to privacy. The trial court limited the production of contact information to employees at the store where Williams worked. The court of Appeal agreed.
But the California Supreme Court disagreed. It rejected Marshall’s argument and held that “a civil litigant’s right to discovery is broad”. Specifically, the Court noted, “The disclosure of the names and addresses of potential witnesses is a routine and essential part of pretrial discovery. Indeed our discovery system is founded on the understanding that parties use discovery to obtain names and contact information for possible witnesses as the starting point for further investigations … ” Slip op. at 10 (quoting Puerto v. Super. Ct., 158 Cal. App. 4th 1242, 1249-50 (2008)) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted)