How To Win A Wage Claim In California

Updated: Nov 28, 2020

Learn how to put together a strong wage claim to increase your chances of winning


If your company refuses to pay you the salaries or benefits you are owed, you have the right to file a wage lawsuit as an employee in California. The method of receiving these unpaid salaries or benefits begins with a salary claim. California's labor rules protect all employees regardless of their immigration status. You should immediately request a FREE case analysis by contacting a California Bar Certified Lawyer Referral Service.



File Your Unpaid Salary Claim


The Labor Commissioner's Office reviews the dispute to decide whether any salaries or benefits are due when a salary dispute is submitted. A settlement session between the employee and the employer is arranged to address the conflicts in most situations. A trial is held if the problems are not settled at the meeting so that a hearing officer can review the facts and decide on the allegations.


There is no authority for the Labor Commissioner's Office over independent contractors. Simple labor rights are not granted to those workers who are misclassified as independent contractors. File a salary lawsuit if you think your employer is misclassifying you as an independent contractor. A hearing can be held by the Labor Commissioner's Office to decide whether a worker has been misclassified as an independent contractor.


If you believe you have been misclassified, you must consult with a California employment lawyer ASAP, you can request a case review here 24 hours a day and get an answer within 15 minutes.


Statute Of Limitations For Unpaid Wages in California


  • Penalties for a bounced check are due within one year or failure to provide access to or copy payroll or personnel documents.

  • For an oral commitment, penalties are due within two years to pay more than the minimum wage.

  • For minimum wage breaches, overtime, unpaid rest and meal breaks, sick days, unauthorized pay deductions, or due reimbursements within three years,

  • For a written contract, penalties are due within four years.


Collect All The Facts For Your Unpaid Wages Lawsuit


A. Your Employer's Details

To assist you with your petition, the Labor Commissioner's Office will need the address and name of the organization or person you work for. The company name should be listed on pay-stubs, mailing labels, documentation, or you might write down their vehicle license plate number for the individual who pays you if you can't find any contact information. You will need to write down each of their names and vehicle license plate numbers if you have more than one person paying you.


B. All Parties Liable

In addition to the employer, any person acting as a supervisor or manager who violates employees' labor rights may sometimes be held liable.


C. Track all worked hours.

When you take meal and rest breaks, write down the time you start and finish working every day, and the total hours you do.


You can always earn at least the minimum wage for every hour worked, whether you pay by contract or partial rate. Keep track of the working hours you spend on each contract to equate your overall compensation with the work you have completed, ensure that you have been paid for the work you have done and that your salary before deductions is at least the minimum hourly wage.


D. Holding on to all your pay stubs

Your supervisor must provide you with a pay-stub (piece-rate pay stub) or comprehensive wage declaration-time you are paid. The following details must be included in this itemized salary statement: your name, wages earned, pay period times, the name, address, and telephone number of your employer, and all deductions (taxes, etc.) and hours of paid sick leave received.


All the above details and documentation will help you decide whether you are fairly paying, and will assist in defending your case when making a wage claim.


Please note: Your employer is mandated by law to maintain reliable records of real working time. -- time you are paid, the employer is also responsible for sending you an itemized pay statement. It is also highly recommended that always you keep track of your time and pay. If you have them available, the Labor Commissioner demands these records because they could help the Office of the Labor Commissioner better understand your argument.



How to File A The Wage Claim


The next step in the unpaid wage case is to claim after you have compiled the data about your employer and records if you have them available. This time is a good idea to seek the advice of a California employment lawyer so he or she can design a strategy by putting together a strong case and filing all the appropriate paperwork with the Labor Commissioner.


Late Paycheck Penalty in California


Penalties unpaid wages vary depending on several different factors. In most cases, a mediation conference is a next step in the wage claim process. Your employment lawyer and your employer will be advised of the conference date and time by mail.

  • Your argument will be rejected if you fail to attend the meeting unless you can prove a reasonable cause for your absence.

  • Your grievance will go to a trial if your employer fails to attend the meeting.

A deputy labor commissioner will consult with you and your employer during this meeting to negotiate a mediation agreement to address the pay argument. At some point during the negotiation session, you have the opportunity to meet in private with the deputy labor commissioner.


Reaching An Agreement During Mediation


A legal arrangement to resolve the wage allegation is a settlement. The employer offers to pay a certain amount, and if you accept the offer, the claim will be settled. At any point during the wage claim process, your employer can agree to settle with you.


Please note: the Labor Commissioner's office will enforce agreements that are signed on official forms so it's highly recommended that you consult with an employment lawyer to protect the integrity of your case.


A significant decision in approving or refusing a settlement bid. Before you make your decision, remember the following points:

  • Why consider an offer of settlement? The advantage of taking a settlement agreement is that the claim is quickly settled, and your company agrees to pay you the agreed amount. There is a risk that your company will file for bankruptcy or close before you collect any compensation if you do not settle your lawsuit.

  • Why refuse an offer for a settlement? You could be given less than the owed salaries and fines. You can negotiate for a more reasonable settlement sum if you obtain a settlement offer that you feel is too low.

  • What happens when a settlement does not exist? Your lawsuit will be scheduled for a hearing if no settlement agreement is reached.

How To Find California Employment Lawyers For A Unpaid Wage Dispute


If you need a lawyer referral in California, you may submit your wage claim details by clicking here or by calling our 24 employee rights and lawyer referral hotline at 1-661-310-7999.


You will get an answer within 15 minutes of submitting your wage dispute claim. There are no up front fees and legal consultations are FREE.


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