File a Wage and Hour Complaint in the State of California
In California, an employee can enforce his or her wage and hour rights by filing a complaint through the California Superior Court, Federal District Court, or directly with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement depending on various circumstances including the type of claims being asserted and whether there is an employment arbitration agreement.
The wage and hours of an employee in California are protected under state and federal laws. Unbeknownst to many, these laws are not typically self-enforced and when a labor law has been violated, the worker will need to take action by filing a claim. Types of claims can vary between claims for damages versus penalties under the California Labor Code and/or applicable Industrial Wage Order (IWC) including claims for failure to provide adequate breaks and rest periods, misclassification claims, and PAGA claims and representative actions under PAGA, and class action claims.
This guide will explain the course of initiating a dispute through the state court, federal court or the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. If you have a wage and hour complaint and have questions about your specific case, seek the legal advice of an experienced attorney who can provide you with legal assistance. Wage and hour complaint regulations are complex and subject to change; the legal assistance of a proficient attorney is imperative for most cases. Equally important is the rights of the employer or business owner. Fraudulent and false claims can cost the business more than the claim amount. Having an experienced employment law and business attorney fighting for your rights is just as important.
An employee who wants to recover for the violation of wage and hour laws has different legal options. In most cases, the employee will attempt to raise the issue with his or her employer to resolve the matter without the need to take legal action. Unfortunately, some employers will refuse to meet their legal duties.
When an employer has failed to pay the employee in full and/or on time, the employee will have three options:
- Pursue a civil lawsuit,
- File a claim with a federal government agency, or
- File a personal claim and/or PAGA claim through California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement
Filing a Civil Lawsuit
An employee who has been unlawfully underpaid generally has the legal right to pursue a lawsuit to seek the payment they are owed, except in circumstances where they have waived such right by agreeing to arbitrate such claims as a condition of employment. Filing a lawsuit for being illegally underpaid, not being paid in a timely manner, and/or not receiving adequate break and rest periods can have benefits to employees dealing with complex or multiple legal issues. It can also be beneficial to those who are owed a substantial amount of money damages. Due to the complexity of these types of issues, it is recommended that the employee seek the legal support of skilled attorney who can represent them in a court of law. On the other hand, employers who have employees who file false or inflated claims should seek legal advice to know what their rights are in fighting these claims.
Pursuing a Federal Wage Claim
The Fair and Labor Standards Act regulates workplace conditions on a national level. Rules and regulations set by the act sets a standard that employers must abide by. This includes the federal minimum wage standards. Although employees can file a claim under the Fair and Labor Standards Act, the majority of claimants will find that state laws offer a broader sense of protection to employees. In these situations, business owners and employers may also benefit from representation of a local and qualified business law attorney who works to protect their rights.
Filing a Wage Claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement
Employees in California are protected by federal regulations as well as by California’s Labor Code and applicable Industrial Wage Orders (IWC). These rules and regulations can cover matters such as:
- Time and form of wage payment,
- Minimum payment requirements,
- State regulated mandatory overtime payment,
- Meal and Rest Break Periods
- Accurate Itemized Wage Statements
Obtain the Legal Support of an Experienced Attorney
Fighting and defending against a wage and hour complaint is a complex matter that requires the expertise of a skilled and experienced attorney. When fighting against a claim, an experienced lawyer will recognize important documents and the information needed for a successful outcome.