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WAGE CLAIMS (2018)

Studies show that as many as 4 out of 5 employees are the victims of wage theft. If your employer owes you money, you have the right to immediately file a labor board complaint against your employer and have your case heard by a California Labor Commissioner-appointed judge. The judge is authorized to issue a judgment against your employer awarding you unpaid wages, penalties, attorney fees and interest. The labor board does not charge any filing fees or other costs. California Labor Commissioner Julie Su has stated that she is committed to protecting the wage rights of undocumented or illegal immigrants. It is against the law for an employer to threaten employees based on their immigration status.

Under California labor laws and associated wage orders, employers are required to give non-exempt employees who work or reside in the State of California the following wage rights:

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

Overtime

  • - 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).

Tips

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, 2018, that rate is 54.5 cents per mile. If your employer has failed to do this, your claim could be large - thousands of dollars.

Deductions

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.

Retaliation

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 YOUR LABOR BOARD COMPLAINT (2018)

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.

Incorrectly filled out complaint

Same complaint after correction

In the above example, the claimant had submitted a complaint to the labor board that alleged only $1,274.97 in unpaid straight time and that lacked the required Form 55 calculation exhibit. After correction, an amended complaint was re-submitted that alleged $20,512.34 in unpaid straight time, overtime, meal and rest break premiums, liquidated damages, records penalties and waiting time penalties. In addition, required supporting calculation exhibits, including Form 55, were attached. The amended complaint package was accepted by the labor board.

Next, you need to file your complaint with the correct DLSE office. There are 18 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 2 to 4 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 (although in reality, the wait can be months). 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 California State superior court.

If you have won your trial and/or any appeal, you will be issued a judgment. Then you must begin your collection efforts. The labor board typically does not assist you with collection, although it depends 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

Bakersfield
7718 Meany Ave
Bakersfield, CA 93308
(661) 587-3060

[email protected]

San Diego
7575 Metropolitan Dr.,
Room 210

San Diego, CA 92108
(619) 220-5451
[email protected]

El Centro
1550 W. Main St.
El Centro, CA 92243
(760) 353-0607

San Francisco
455 Golden Gate Ave.,
10th Floor

San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 703-5300
[email protected]

Fresno
770 E. Shaw Avenue,
Ste. 222

Fresno, CA 93710
(559) 244-5340

[email protected]

San Jose
100 Paseo de San Antonio,
Room 120

San Jose, CA 95113
(408) 277-1266
[email protected]

Long Beach
300 Oceangate,
Suite 302

Long Beach, CA 90802
(562) 590-5048
[email protected]

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

Santa Ana, CA 92701
(714) 558-4910
[email protected]

Los Angeles
320 W. Fourth Street,
Suite 450

Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 620-6330
[email protected]

Santa Barbara
411 E. Canon Perdido,
Room 3

Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 568-1222
PID 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM,
2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
[email protected]

Oakland
1515 Clay Street,
Suite 801

Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 622-3273
[email protected]

Santa Rosa
50 "D" Street,
Suite 360

Santa Rosa, CA 95404
(707) 576-2362
PID 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM,
2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
[email protected]

Redding
250 Hemsted Drive,
2nd Floor, Suite A

Redding, CA 96002
(530) 225-2655
PID 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM,
2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
[email protected]

Stockton
31 E. Channel Street,
Room 317

Stockton, CA 95202
(209) 948-7771
PID Hours effective 5/1/18
9:00 AM – 1:00 PM,
2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
[email protected]

Sacramento
2031 Howe Avenue,
Suite 100

Sacramento, CA 95825
(916) 263-1811
[email protected]

Van Nuys
6150 Van Nuys Blvd.,
Room 206

Van Nuys, CA 91401
(818) 901-5315
[email protected]

Salinas
950 E. Blanco Rd.,
Suite 204

Salinas, CA 93901
(831) 443-3041
PID 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM,
2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
[email protected]

Van Nuys - Entertainment Work Permits
6150 Van Nuys Blvd.,
Room 100

Van Nuys, CA 91401
(818) 901-5484
Walk In Service Available At This Location:
9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. - Monday and Friday
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. - Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday

San Bernardino
464 W. Fourth Street,
Room 348

San Bernardino, CA 92401
(909) 383-4334
[email protected]

123 Comments

  1. Jordan jones on June 18, 2018 at 5:36 am

    Please help us

  2. Rilriia on June 12, 2018 at 9:58 am

    For those whose employers failed to pay them (at all, or proper paychecks, etc.), it would be nice to find the complaint form easier, please. I found the discrimination complaint form readily enough, but am having a hard time finding the one for wages.

    I was also wondering if an employer fails to tender a paycheck at all and the employee quits, does that change the status of the situation? I have been waiting five calendar days for my paycheck, but quit this past Sunday. Should that mean it becomes the same as my final paycheck because it was not paid at the time I quit?

    Thank you so much for your time and consideration! And definitely for all the things you guys do.

  3. Natasha on May 30, 2018 at 6:28 pm

    I was recently released from a job. Employment time one year. During the entire year, I worked 8 hours a day and did not receive a morning or afternoon break for ANY of the days I worked. With regard to lunch breaks, half of my total work days I spent sitting at my desk eating my lunch while working.There were days that I had no lunch at all and left 15-30 minutes early, only to later be disciplined that I didn’t finish my work day. I believe I have a claim and want to clarify. Should I file a claim for an hour compensation for each day I worked without rest breaks? And an hour for each day I did not have a lunch break or worked through it? Thank you for your response.

  4. Norma on May 30, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    I no longer work with this employer. I have time slips showing I worked through lunch many times and long hours on said dates. Do I have a claim?

  5. Sheldon K on May 27, 2018 at 8:39 pm

    I am a law enforcement park ranger. I work part time and occasionally I work up to 16 hours in a day. There have been numerous weeks that I have worked more than 40 hours and numerous pay periods (2 weeks) that I worked more than 80 hours. Although my employer cites the US DoL WHD fact sheets 7 and 8 I believe I do not fall into that category because the manual states ALL employees who work more than 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week SHALL BE PAID OVERTIME at a rate of time and a half. I have inquired numerous times but have never been shown, in writing anything other that I am employed under the 172 hour rule.

  6. Jim H on May 21, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    My previous employer subtracted taxes from my expense reimbursement. In doing so, I am short payment. I have since been terminated. Does the 30-day waiting penalty apply in this case if there are missing wages?

    • Eugene Lee on May 23, 2018 at 11:19 pm

      That is a very interesting question. A 2017 California Court of Appeal held that expense reimbursement DOES constitute “wages”. Therefore it is logical to assume that if an employer is late on reimbursing expenses, that would trigger the 30-day waiting time penalty.

      An excerpt from that decision:

      “The term “wages” includes not only an employee’s periodic monetary earnings but also other benefits to which the employee is entitled as part of compensation. (In re Work Uniform Cases (2005) 133 Cal.App.4th 328, 337-338 [34 Cal.Rptr.3d 635] (Uniform Cases).) In Uniform Cases, the plaintiffs sought reimbursement under section 2802 for the cost of work uniforms. (Uniform Cases, at p. 332.) The Uniform Cases court concluded that “payment to employees for work uniforms is a part of the employees’ compensation and should be considered like any other payment of wages, compensation or benefits.” (Id. at p. 338.)”
      LILIANA ESPEJO v. THE COPLEY PRESS, INC. (2017) 13 Cal.App.5th 329, 367

  7. Liza Munzner on May 16, 2018 at 4:06 pm

    I reached out to HR and I have not received a response. I also didn’t get a packet of the cobra or benefits package.

    • Eugene Lee on May 17, 2018 at 7:12 pm

      Liza, I don’t quite follow. What did you ask HR for?

  8. Nancy Macias on May 8, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    I signed a contract on 5/4/2018 that we would be paid for 5/7/2017 of the strike. Company HSH changed the contract without consent and copied and pasted my signature to their new contract that did not have original agreement nor the original pay. They lowered the pay without consent or knowledge.

    • Eugene Lee on May 15, 2018 at 8:51 pm

      That sounds like outright fraud. If you are owed pay, you should consider filing a labor board claim.

  9. Alex Ubillos on May 8, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    Hope you are helpful

  10. Anthony Martinez on April 27, 2018 at 7:24 am

    I was short hours on my check and short wages on my previous payroll vheck

    • Eugene Lee on April 29, 2018 at 7:05 pm

      The proper course of action for you depends on whether you are still employed. If not, you are entitled to last check penalties and should file a labor board complaint.

  11. maureen r o'haley on April 25, 2018 at 11:19 am

    well to begin with i was fired over the phone , the reason was that i was eating on the closed side of the resturant which everyone does . When i started working there i was never told not eat over there , they fired the old manager and the owner took over . She also accused me of not paying for my food , i did inform her that i have proof ,my bank statements state that i paid for all of my food , and customer complains , l never saw a customer complain or there was no for worrying do i have a case . i really feel that they used this stuff because i have seizures and that was the real reason

  12. Mike Archambault on April 19, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    My pay periods are every 2 weeks. I work 80 hours plus overtime. The company pays me to change into a uniform and ppe equipment. M pay stubs show 77 hours and 3 hours on the uniform line. I thought it was against the law to manipulate my time card . Thanks for your time

    • Eugene Lee on April 20, 2018 at 4:02 am

      I’m not sure I understand, but if your employer is changing your time cards to take away your overtime, then that is definitely illegal. You should consider filing a labor board claim.

  13. Markian Senyk on April 18, 2018 at 8:35 am

    I worked as a contractor in Ukraine for a California registered company. The CEO/owner of the company has refused to pay me anything at all. What are my next steps to get paid?

    • Eugene Lee on April 18, 2018 at 8:28 pm

      If you worked in Ukraine, you could still file a labor board complaint with the California labor board IF you are a resident of the State of California. However, the ultimate answer is very fact-dependent as your question involves the intersection of a lot of different types of laws. You would probably be best off contacting a lawyer

      • Markian Senyk on April 20, 2018 at 8:41 am

        Thank you Eugene. I’m not a CA resident. So I’ll look for a lawyer.

  14. Angela hughes on March 30, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    Not claiming he has employees , lieing saying he has no employees , not paying payroll taxes and not having employees claim their tips and pay taxes on them

    • Eugene Lee on April 11, 2018 at 2:37 pm

      Sounds like you have multiple grounds to file a labor board complaint. You should also consider calling the IRS tax fraud hotline to report tax fraud due to the employer’s failure to pay payroll taxes and report taxes properly.

  15. Christopher Nilsen on March 22, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    I have no idea what my legal rights are to this unlawful termination

  16. Margot on March 18, 2018 at 6:47 pm

    I worked 12.25 hours for a dental office and was suppose to be paid and it’s been over 3 weeks and still have not been paid. They were notified 2 weeks ago and said they would send a check that day however , they have not!!

    • Eugene Lee on April 11, 2018 at 2:40 pm

      Without question, you should file a labor board complaint and get that going right away. The employer has to provide you your last check on the your last day worked if you were terminated or quit with notice, or 72 hours later if you quit without notice. There is a penalty that accrues up to 30 days of wages for each day the last check is late.

  17. HARRY JHUN EDQUID on March 16, 2018 at 2:53 am

    I was hired and work in the company last Jan.16,2017 Enersys Union City….with 3 Romanian Nationality from Manager,Supervisor and co-technician son of the manager.And then last Aug. 01 I called and sick bcoz my right metatarsal joint was swollen and painful.I went in the doctor to have a checked up and he send me to get X-ray and MRI of my foot.And then when the doctor got the result he recommend for a surgery.I informed my work admin I wasn’t able to go back to work bcoz I have a surgery on Aug.25 for implant fission of my metatarsal joint.That time I have 28hrs left on my vacation and I’m not qualified to take FMLA bcoz I need to work in the company in one year.And then they told me a Short Term Disability….I apply and they approved my STD from Aug.01,207 to Jan.29,2018.I informed HR about my returning to work and I was cleared by the doctor.The doctor gave them also a note that im going back to work on Jan.30 with restriction not to lift more than 10lbs in one month from the date of my first day in the job bcoz I have implant plate in my right metatarsal joint.After that HR answer my email and she said she talk my manager and supervisor and we won’t let you to go back to work for now bcoz I have restriction.On your job description as field service technician is you need to lift up to 50lbs on daily basis.After that HR send me a letter and I received it Feb.02,2018 HR said after the time frame of your unpaid vacation from Aug.01 to Jan.29 you supposed to go back to work Jan.30.Your doctor approved you restriction for one month and the company are not giving you a accommodation in your restriction or give you a additional leave.As a result the company ending your employment effective Feb.01,2018.

    May I know if it is legal to terminated me for my one month restriction given by my doctor? It’s that legal to talk on their own language and laugh at me.They called me DAMN ASS….YOU DONT KNOW SHIT…..in front of the customer? Then I’m using the company tools the son of the manager told me if break that tools “I WILL KILL YOU”.I report that in the supervisor but he didn’t make a report bcoz they are the same nationality.I suffered a lot of things to those people it’s really hard to forget they treat me like shit

  18. Aaron egger on March 5, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    Left a long comment earlier

    • Eugene Lee on April 18, 2018 at 8:29 pm

      Aaron, I don’t see your comment, sorry. Can you re-post?

  19. Aaron egger on March 5, 2018 at 11:26 pm

    I sent one earlier

  20. William on February 5, 2018 at 11:57 pm

    Can I do anything about a employer and employees dispute with out any proper papers basically under the table situation my last week differs from his $100.00 and some tools of mine in this situation or is it a waste of time and resources over holiday/pay wages

    • Eugene Lee on April 11, 2018 at 2:42 pm

      Yes, you can still file a labor board claim even if you worked “under the table”. Even if you are an illegal immigrant, you still have legal standing to file a labor board complaint and have the protections of the labor code. The labor board has expressly stated that they intend to protect illegal immigrants and others from labor code violations. In my experience, filing a claim is not a waste of time/resources.

  21. Tejel Lawson on January 25, 2018 at 9:08 am

    I have earrings my employer refuses to pay. This is two pay periods in a row. Obviously I no longer work for them. The system is set up so that you can only communicate with and house staff by a male there is no phone contact of any kind with any personnel from the organization. They lie and stone wall the employees NEVER talking responsibility or action to fix the problem.

    • Eugene Lee on April 11, 2018 at 2:43 pm

      Two words of advice:
      1. make sure to communicate with the employer in writing (text, email, fax, letter). That way you have a paper trail of evidence to prove you are owed money.
      2. file a labor board complaint right away. The complaint process can sometimes take a while, so the sooner you get it going, the better.

  22. Kara J on January 24, 2018 at 8:05 pm

    My previous employer had recently set up an office in California with the headquarters in Virginia. They were clearly unaware of California laws. I resigned from my position with 2 weeks notice. I was told that the company would not pay out for accrued PTO days, however, they eventually agreed to pay it once I disputed and made it clear to them what the California laws are. However, that wasn’t the only law they weren’t aware of. I did not receive my final pay check until the following payroll (2 weeks later). The direct deposit I received was also missing 8 hours that were due. When I brought up this issue with HR, she agreed to pay out the remainder of my final wages 2 more additional weeks later at the next payroll. Because they probably aren’t aware of the final paycheck laws in California, I reached out to HR to explain the waiting time penalties due. Unfortunately, I am not getting a response. Can I file a wage claim for this? Am I entitled to 28 days of waiting time fees?

    • Eugene Lee on April 11, 2018 at 2:44 pm

      Yes and, assuming you’ve calculated correctly, yes. You might consider talking to an attorney, as attorneys can usually spot more violations that laypeople aren’t aware of, e.g., missing information on paystubs, etc.

  23. Kara J on January 24, 2018 at 8:03 pm

    My previous employer had recently set up an office in California with the headquarters in Virginia. They were clearly unaware of California laws. I resigned from my position with 2 weeks notice. I was told that the company would not pay out for accrued PTO days, however, they eventually agreed to pay it once I disputed and made it clear to them what the California laws are. However, that wasn’t the only law they weren’t aware of. I did not receive my final pay check until the following payroll (2 weeks later). The direct deposit I received was also missing 8 hours that were due. When I brought up this issue with HR, she agreed to pay out the remainder of my final wages 2 more additional weeks later at the next payroll. Because they probably aren’t aware of the final paycheck laws in California, I reached out to HR to explain the waiting time penalties due. Unfortunately, I am not getting a response. Can I file a wage claim for this? Am I entitled to 28 days of waiting time fees?

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