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Studies show that as many as 4 out of 5 employees are the victims of wage theft.

If you are an employee, your employer is required by law to give you:

Rest Breaks

  • - a 10-minute paid rest break if you work more than 3.5 hours in a day
  • - a second 10-minute paid rest break if you work more than 6 hours in a day

Meal Breaks

  • - a 30-minute meal break if you work more than 5 hours in a day
  • - a second 30-minute meal break if you work more than 10 hours in a day


  • - time and a half if you work


    • a) more than 8 hours in a day,
    • b) more than 40 hours in a week, or
    • c) seven days in a row in a work week


  • - double time if you work


    • a) more than 12 hours in a day, or
    • b) more than 8 hours on the seventh day in a row in a work week

Last Paycheck

If you have been terminated or laid off, you are entitled to receive your final wages upon termination or on your last day of work.

If you resign, you are entitled to receive your final paycheck within 72 hours after your last day of work.

You final wages must include any unpaid vacation pay (but not sick leave pay).


A manager or supervisor (even if part-time) is not legally allowed to take from your tips or the tip pool. The law treats this as tip theft.

Driving Mileage Reimbursements

If you are required to drive from your employer's office to a job site, your employer is required to pay you a mileage reimbursement at the IRS standard mileage rate. As of January 1, 2015, that rate is 57.5 cents per mile. If your employer has failed to do this, your claim could be large - thousands of dollars.


Your employer is not permitted to take deductions out of your paycheck unless you have agreed to it in writing. Even if your employer has loaned you money, he cannot make any deductions without your written consent. If this is occurring, you are entitled to recover not only the moneys that were deducted, but any attorney fees you have incurred.


If you complain to your employer or the Labor Board about any of the above wage violations, the law prohibits retaliation against you. Retaliation could include a reduction of your work hours, demotion, pay cuts, suspension, termination, etc. If you are the victim of retaliation, you are entitled to file a retaliation complaint with the California Labor Board.



Filing a wage complaint with the California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (otherwise known as the Labor Board or DLSE), can take as little as 30 minutes on the phone.

Even if you believe you are owed as little as a few hundred dollars, the penalties that apply under the California Labor Code can be thousands of dollars. Penalties include waiting time penalties, liquidated damages penalties, bounced check penalties, etc.

What You Need to File a Complaint

If you have any of the following documents, please have them ready when you call:

How Long the Complaint Process Takes

Resolving your wage complaint can take as little as a few weeks to as many as a few years. There are many factors involved, including how complicated your complaint is, how backlogged the commissioner and labor board office assigned to your case is, how willing your employer is to settle, whether your employer decides to appeal, etc.

The Steps in the Complaint Process

The first step is to fill out a Form 1 labor board complaint. You will typically need to also fill out a Form 55 attachment that sets out each amount you are owed for each pay period you worked for the employer. If you have a retaliation claim, you will also need to fill out a Form RCI-1.

If you need help with these forms, call us at (213) 992-3299 as the forms can be more complicated than they appear. Incorrect complaints are typically rejected by the labor board and need to be corrected before they can be re-filed. The re-filing process can take weeks or months. We can prepare the forms correctly for you in as little as a few hours.

Next, you need to file your complaint with the correct DLSE office. There are 19 regional DLSE offices assigned to the various cities in California. Which DLSE office you must apply to depends on which city you worked in. Again, this can be trickier than it first seems, as the office that is closest to the city where you worked isn't always the correct DLSE office to file in. Also DLSE office city assignments are subject to change. Filing with the wrong DLSE office can cause months of delay and often requires that you simply re-file your complaint with the correct DLSE office.

If you need help with this, give us a call at (213) 992-3299. We can ensure your complaints are filed with the correct DLSE office.

After your complaint is filed, you will receive a notice of conference from the labor board, typically in 1 to 2 months. At the conference, which you, your employer, and/or your attorneys are required to attend, the commissioner will ask questions, confirm information, and finalize your labor board complaint, which you will then sign.

After that, the final hearing (trial) takes place, in as little as a few months to as long as 1 year after the conference. You will typically have to request subpoenas from the labor board and have them personally served on your employer and any witnesses to ensure you have the evidence you need to win your trial. At trial, you must present to the hearing officer a copy of all documents and provide all witnesses required to support your claim.

The hearing officer will issue an ODA (order, decision or adjudication) within 15 days after the trial. The parties will then have 10 to 15 days to appeal. If there is an appeal, the whole process starts completely over, except this time, your complaint is transferred from the labor board to a judge in civil court.

If you have won your trial and/or any appeal, you will then be issued a judgment. Then you must begin your collection efforts. The labor board may or may not assist you with collection, depending on your claim and your employer.

If you need assistance with any of the above, give us a call anytime at (213) 992-3299 and talk to an expert now.


DLSE Offices


1515 Clay Street,
Room 401

Oakland, CA 94612

250 Hemsted Drive,
2nd Floor, Suite A

Redding, CA 96002

Santa Ana
605 West Santa Ana Blvd., Bldg. 28,
Room 625

Santa Ana, CA 92701

7718 Meany Ave
Bakersfield, CA 93308

2031 Howe Avenue,
Suite 100

Sacramento, CA 95825

Santa Barbara
411 E. Canon Perdido,
Room 3

Santa Barbara, CA 93101

El Centro
1550 W. Main St.
El Centro, CA 92243

1870 N. Main St.,
Suite 150

Salinas, CA 93906

Santa Rosa
50 "D" Street,
Suite 360

Santa Rosa, CA 95404

770 E. Shaw Avenue,
Ste. 222

Fresno, CA 93710

San Bernardino
464 W. Fourth Street,
Room 348

San Bernardino, CA 92401

31 E. Channel Street,
Room 317

Stockton, CA 95202

Long Beach
300 Oceangate,
Suite 302

Long Beach, CA 90802

San Diego
7575 Metropolitan Dr.,
Room 210

San Diego, CA 92108

Van Nuys
6150 Van Nuys Blvd.,
Room 206

Van Nuys, CA 91401

Los Angeles
320 W. Fourth Street,
Suite 450

Los Angeles, CA 90013

San Francisco
455 Golden Gate Ave.,
10th Floor

San Francisco, CA 94102


1515 Clay Street,
Suite 801

Oakland, CA 94612

San Jose
100 Paseo de San Antonio,
Room 120

San Jose, CA 95113


  1. Monse on June 19, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    Hi i work at a fast food restaurant and we don’t have an ac system for the employees. Whwre we take orders and cook the food it is beyond hot. It is like 108 degrees back there and we, the employees, have talked to the manager and shes “talked” to the owner of the restaurant but the owner doesn’t want to put a new ac system but we are dying in here. Is there anyway or anything we can do so the owner has to put an ac system so it won’t be burning hot!

    • Eugene Lee on June 20, 2017 at 9:18 am

      you should consider making a worker safety complaint to OSHA.

  2. Javier Torres on June 6, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    I need this problem resolved. Thank you.

  3. Javier Torres on June 6, 2017 at 10:34 pm

    Please contact me so that I can explain my complaint. Thank you.

  4. Syed fakhir ali shah on October 8, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    I worked at a liquor store for almost 11 months. I was new to this country and didn’t know a lot of things regarding the labour law. I was getting paid under the table (cash) since November last year. My employer started giving me a cheque from June 2016. I was getting just $1000 cheque and he was paying me rest of the cash. I was working 7 days a week and 10 hours everyday. He was paying me $9/hr which is illegal in itself because the minimum wage In California is $10/hr. No meal break , no rest, no vacations, no health coverage no nothing. Now I have decided to file a complaint against the business. The owner/manager of the business is holding my $1000 cheque and not giving it to me. He is also putting false allegations on me and accusing me of stealing from the store. I’m really in trouble and need assistance.

  5. Ferdinand Alexander on September 30, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    I worked for a small graphic design firm for over a decade. 98% of my income came
    from this one client and I was paid an hourly wage. Before I realized it I was working
    predominantly on his premises and using his equipment everyday. Sometimes overtime
    in necessary and on occasion weekends. The other little clients I had I did at night or
    on the weekends from my home office. I told him on multiple occasions that I was paying for both sides of the equation in regards to taxes. In addition, I received no vacation pay, no overtime pay, no health care assistance, no holiday pay, etc. We became very close and many times I would end up doing personal things for him and his wife. I was the main designer as there were no other people working there doing what I do which is graphic and web design. He didn’t know how to use the software programs so he had input but most of the time he had little to do with executing the projects on the computer. He controlled the
    clients, how much was charged, what projects I worked on, etc. Eventually, his business slowed down and he was always sidetracked with personal projects, mostly centered on his house. He didn’t need the business as he gets most of his money from an inheritance. So, he decided to close the business and when it was all over he offered me nothing and basically said good luck. I’m 59 years old and obviously not in the same position I was over 10 years ago in terms of starting over. Is there anything I can do to recoup some of what I feel I deserve after more than a decade of hard work and loyalty.? I thought I was an independent contractor and considering his promises and the relationship we had I never expected to be just kicked to the curb with nothing. After further investigation I have learned that I was an employee in regards to my relationship with him. With my other small client
    I did the work out of my home office using my equipment, so now I fully understand that I was an independent in relationship to them. I have some health issues, can’t collect unemployment and I have drained my resources to the point where I may lose my home.
    Do I have any options or recourse or is this yet another example of how certain kinds
    of people get away with things in this society?

    Please advise.

    • aee77 on October 13, 2016 at 8:02 am

      If you were an employee, but he didn’t pay the employers share of the taxes I would look into this with a lawyer. In addition, if he had other employees that he treated differently at any time there may be a good case for discrimination of some sort.
      If you are concerned about putting out the initial expense of simply trying to find out if you have a case, try . It is inexpensive and I’ve used it to get information on my divorce, a bogus infringement case, and a few other issues. I was able to handle two pretty big problems without even having to hire a lawyer or go to court. I was able to get enough information from the lawyers at rocket law to handle it myself. I think it might be worth checking out. I’m not an affiliate or anything like that, I just really like the option to get the information I want quickly. Another possibility is NOLO . The site is a wealth on legal knowledge and has an enormous amount of information, very easy to navigate in my opinion.

      In any case, I wish you luck.

  6. Thammy on September 15, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    I’m working for this company closely 10 years already, this October is going to be my 10th year. Every year I take 3 or 2 weeks vacation at the time, I have 3 weeks vacaion, this year I asked for 3 weeks vacation and my territory manager told me that the company policy gives out 1 week at a time, so he didn’t let me take 3 weeks off, that’s a lie. I read a handbook and the company policy, It doesn’t say anything about taking vacation 1 week at a time. So I asked for 11 days instead of three weeks, he said, “I’ll give you 2 weeks but I’ll pay you 1 week.” I said ok, I’ll take it. The day before I went on vacation he came and said he didn’t give me two weeks off so I had to come back to work in a week. I told him that I couldn’t because I traveled far . So he said he written me up if I didn’t come back in a week. I had no words to say to him so I just walked out the office, I went on my vacation I came back about five weeks already, he still doesn’t pay me for 1 week. I just gave him two weeks notice, do I still file a complaint, how is it gonna work?

  7. Dunny on September 13, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    Please consider this situation: Ownership changed at my employer about 3 months ago and prior to the change in ownership I had 34 hours of sick time accrued which is reflected on my check stub. After the change in ownership my pay stub indicates that I have zero hours accrued. After bringing this to the attention of HR personnel my employer has not yet adjusted my sick time accrual to reflect the 34 hours I had before the change of ownership. Nor have they paid me for the 34 hours. Nor have they communicated to me that they will take any action. Radio silence on the subject. What can I do?

  8. Chris on September 9, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    I have to travel with a company truck everyweek to jobsites sometimes 600 miles away. I stay in a hotel all week and work 12 hours a days doing construction. We only get a half hour lunch and no breaks. The drive time we get doesn’t count as overtime after 8 hours in a day or after 40 hours in a week and we don’t get payed for an hour each way. I worked 44 hours last week, four 10 hour days and 4 hours drive time. My paystub shows 44 hours no overtime. Any idea what I can do or if it’s even worth it?

    • Eugene Lee on September 10, 2016 at 6:07 pm

      Did you a drive a truck with a gross vehicle weight rating of over 26,000 lbs? Were you crossing state lines or just staying within the State of California? Those answers will determine if you were exempt from overtime (it sounds like you are).

      Even if you are exempt from overtime, you are still entitled to rest and meal breaks. You are also entitled to be paid for all time worked (unless you are being paid per mile or per load, but even there, you have to be paid at least minimum wage for all hours worked, including hours spent on non-drive tasks). Another thing we see a lot of is illegal deductions by the employer for truck lease payments, insurance, fuel, tires, etc.

      You should definitely talk to someone before deciding just to give up. Most lawyers offer a free and confidential initial consultation. Even if you don’t feel what you are owed is not that much, you shouldn’t forget about the penalties, which can often be much larger than the wages owed.

      • Chris on September 11, 2016 at 12:53 pm

        The truck is just a ford 350 crew cab. And yes I work in all of California Arizona and Nevada. I get payed hourly and my boss told me I don’t get overtime after working 8 hours in a day and that legally he doesn’t have to pay me drive paystub will show 50 straight hours no overtime

        • Eugene Lee on September 11, 2016 at 9:14 pm

          You should consider filing a complaint as it sounds like you were not overtime-exempt.

  9. unknown_lila on November 3, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Is there anything i can do about this situatuion?? Ive been working with this company for over a year now and we get paid Bi-weekly on Thursdays. When we get our check from one of the staff member they ask us to cash the check on a friday because there isnt any funds in the account, the check is dated for that thursday. Two weeks ago i got my check and yes they asked me to cash it friday, I was going to have a busy friday and deposited my check on thursday afternoon. I always deposit my check on thursday and my funds are available the follwing day, apparently the funds were available that same day and the check got returned for insuficient funds, I called my bank right away and they said yes it was returned and that they hold it and try to withdraw the funds from my employers account within two weeks so they did it again about one week and 2 days and still there was no funds so my check was returned agian. Now that my account was of course negative from the transactions I’ve made durning that day and the check being returned , my account is now in jeopardy of closing. When i found out that they had tried for the second time and it was returned i told my boss immediately and she wrote me a check, I went to cash it and try to deposit the cash into my account and they would’nt allow me to. My account closed because of the checks being returned.

  10. Mad husband! on November 1, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Where my wife works they are not allowed breaks. If they work overtime and it was not approved there time sheets are changed. She also had to work 7 hours before she got a lunch today. This kind of thing is happening to her and all of the other hourly employees at her work. If someone could please let me know if there is a better number to call I would appreciate it. I called the number on the site and left a message.

  11. CA on October 25, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    I and many other employees at the company I started at a little under two months ago have been wrongly classified as independent contractors. I spoke with HR about it and was told that no change will take place for the time being. How should I go about filing with the Labor Board?

  12. GA on August 19, 2014 at 9:35 am

    I started working full time at my current job as the office manager over a year ago. My employer originally stated that he would place me on payroll after a few months. Again it has been over one year and he has not said anything further about doing so. The other seven employees who work in the warehouse are on payroll with workers comp and EDD benefits. I recently found out that in the seven years the company has be open I am the seventh office manager and that scared me a bit as far as job security. All of there other employees have been hear the entire seven years a few of which are undocumented. The owner also pays at least 60-70 hours per month under the table overtime which he sometimes has me pay them and I do not feel comfortable doing this. Its seems that me not being on payroll has benefits for the owner but non at all for myself. Is there anything I should or can do? Thanks.

  13. catlin hayes on August 9, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    I put in 2 weeks notice. They cut me after week was over. Its a week later and they haven’t sent my check. They want me to jump through hoops. Things were heated to begin with and I want to avoid contact/conflict. Would also like to know how they were able to get away without lunch breaks and benefits since everyone working is there over 40 hours a week.

  14. Daniel on August 8, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    I work at a restaurant part-time with 7-hour shifts and an occasional 8-hour shift broken into 4 hours of work, 3 non-paid hours and then another 4 hours right after. We are only allowed one meal break for the 7 hour shift which is around 15-20 mins and it is un-paid. We are given no breaks on the 8-hour shift I mentioned above. Do I have the right to file a complaint even as a part-time worker? (The employer has been telling me the rights only apply to full-time employees).

  15. RC on August 5, 2014 at 9:23 am

    My husband started a new job about 2 months ago. His employers told him that they will add him to the payroll and get him t-shirts soon after he started. None of that has happened and now he hasn’t paid him for 3 1/2 weeks. My husband is still working everyday for him. The problem is he was never added to the payroll, what should we do?

  16. J. Abeldt on July 25, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    My boss wrote me up for not showing up on a day when I was scheduled to be off. When I asked to see the posted schedule they informed me that they throw away the schedules at the end of each week. Aren’t they required by law to retain the posted schedules for a period of time?

    • Eugene Lee on July 31, 2014 at 8:12 pm

      I’m not aware of any such law. Unless the schedules are considered part of your payroll records. If you have a union, check your collective bargaining agreement, or if you have company policies or an employment contract with your employer, check there as there might be something about retaining work schedules (a long shot).

  17. Jim Moki Macanas on July 22, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    I get paid with a 1099 working for a used car dealer. Is this legal. My tax preparer says no!!!

    • Eugene Lee on July 22, 2014 at 11:09 pm

      It sounds like you are being misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee. That would be a major violation of the labor laws.

  18. yahoo on July 22, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    I work for a used car dealer and they insist on paying me with a 1099. My tax preparer claims this illegal!!!!

    • Eugene Lee on July 31, 2014 at 8:14 pm

      That depends on what you do job-wise. But if you are a non-exempt hourly worker, then the fact that you are receiving a 1099 means you have probably been misclassified as an independent contractor. If so, then your employer is breaking the law and the penalties you can collect will probably be in the thousands of dollars.

      — ugh — I see that this is a double post and I already responded earlier . . .

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