California Labor Code 2802.
(a) An employer shall indemnify his or her employee for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties, or of his or her obedience to the directions of the employer, even though unlawful, unless the employee, at the time of obeying the directions, believed them to be unlawful.
(b) All awards made by a court or by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement for reimbursement of necessary expenditures under this section shall carry interest at the same rate as judgments in civil actions. Interest shall accrue from the date on which the employee incurred the necessary expenditure or loss.
(c) For purposes of this section, the term “necessary expenditures or losses” shall include all reasonable costs, including, but not limited to, attorney’s fees incurred by the employee enforcing the rights granted by this section.
(d) In addition to recovery of penalties under this section in a court action or proceedings pursuant to Section 98, the commissioner may issue a citation against an employer or other person acting on behalf of the employer who violates reimbursement obligations for an amount determined to be due to an employee under this section. The procedures for issuing, contesting, and enforcing judgments for citations or civil penalties issued by the commissioner shall be the same as those set forth in Section 1197.1. Amounts recovered pursuant to this section shall be paid to the affected employee.
PAGA – California Labor Code sections 2698-2699.6.
The California Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) is found in Sections 2698 through 2699.6 of the California Labor Code. PAGA “authorizes aggrieved employees to file lawsuits to recover civil penalties on behalf of themselves, other employees, and the State of California for Labor Code violations.” It essentially enables California employees to become bounty hunters to enforce state employment laws. The employee suing an employer under PAGA acts as the agent of California’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) to enforce Labor Code violations and collect penalties. If the employee succeeds, PAGA permits the employee to keep to keep 25 percent of any civil penalties collected, with 75 percent going to the state (Cal. Lab. Code § 2699(f)).
The civil penalties threatened in PAGA actions can be extreme. PAGA provides default civil penalties of $100 for every employee for every pay period for the first violation, and $200 for every violation thereafter.