How do I file a claim for unpaid wages?
California law allows employees to recover money owed for unpaid wages, including denied overtime and meal periods. One way to recover unpaid wages from an employer is by filing a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), also known as the Labor Commissioner’s Office.
At a pre-hearing conference, a DLSE official will decide whether to allow the case to proceed if the employee and employer fail to reach a settlement. If the case proceeds, there will be a hearing where the employee must prove every aspect of their claim. For example, an employee filing a claim for overtime might have to present evidence that he or she was not exempt.
The employee must bring documents such as pay stubs, employment agreements, performance reviews and more as evidence. They can also present witness testimony. The hearing officer will then make a decision on the case soon after the hearing.
Although wage claims can be filed with the DLSE, the process can be confusing and complicated for those not familiar with California wage and hour law. Employees may find it challenging to figure out what evidence to bring, what witnesses to call and how to present their arguments at the hearing. Having an employment lawyer represent you can make the process easier.
In addition, the DLSE may not be able to obtain as many damages as possible in a lawsuit. The office does not represent employees in wage claims nor does it investigate claims in the same way an attorney would.
As a result, employees who file their own wage claims may end up receiving far fewer damages than the amount to which they are entitled. They may not be aware of other potential claims they may have. For example an employee may file an overtime wage claim without realizing they also have a meal period claim. An experienced attorney will make sure you claim all the amounts you may be owed.
If you are owed wages, suspect you are wrongly classified as exempt, or any other overtime, minimum wage or other wage error by your employer, McCormack & Erlich has an extensive background helping individuals with wage claims to recover their damages.
Other Unpaid Wage, Overtime and Commissions FAQs
- Are computer programmers and other high-tech workers exempt from overtime?
- Can my employer fire me for filing a wage claim?
- How do I file a claim for unpaid wages?
- How do I know if I am entitled to overtime pay?
- If I receive a salary instead of hourly pay, does that mean I am exempt?
- Is my employer allowed to withhold my final wages after firing me?
- What is an exempt and non-exempt employee?
- What is the minimum wage in California?