As an employee in California, you are entitled to all of your earned compensation as laid out by the California Department of Industrial Relations. Your compensation includes more than just your hourly or salary wages. It also includes unused vacation owed to you upon employment termination, commissions, bonuses, overtime work, and certain off-the-clock work.
California employers must pay you on days designated as regular paydays, at least twice during a calendar month. Has your employer not calculated your wages correctly? Have you been denied all of the wages you rightly deserve? It is important to realize you have a right to see your payroll records upon making a reasonable request to your employer.
When an employer fails to provide you access to your records, that employer can be fined and subject to civil action. Do you need help collecting unpaid wages from your California employer? If so, contact a proven attorney at Kingsley and Kingsley Employment Lawyers to get help recovering your rightful compensation. We have 40 years of experience that has resulted in $300 million awarded to our clients in employment law settlements and court verdicts.
Unpaid Wages in California
Unpaid wages can occur in various ways. These include:
- Failure to pay all wages owed subsequent to termination.
- Failure to pay overtime.
- Failure to pay off-the-clock wages.
- Failure to pay for earned sick time, vacation time, or paid time off.
- Failure to pay fully-earned tips, bonuses, or commissions.
Payment of Wages Subsequent to Termination
As an employee that has been discharged, your employer must pay you all of your wages immediately at the time of termination. Did you know the payment to you includes accrued vacation days not taken while you were employed? You may not realize that, if you are paid by direct deposit, those deposits are terminated immediately after you are fired or quit your job. Therefore, some other method of receiving your last paycheck must be determined based on whether you were fired or quit, as well as the amount of time you were given with the notice. Penalties exist for an employer who willfully fails to pay wages owed to a terminated employee within a designated time frame.
Overtime Wages & Off-the-Clock Wages
You must get paid for your overtime work no later than the pay period following the one in which the overtime was earned. Did you know that an employer that does not pay you your full wages, including overtime, may be liable for more than what you are owed for wages?
Did your employer require you to do off-the-clock work before or after the start of your shift, including running errands or picking up coffee or office supplies? It is important to understand that you are entitled to compensation for all the job-related work you performed for your employer, whether it was during your predetermined work hours or not.
Recovery of Unpaid Wages
Were you denied overtime pay or did your employer require you to work off the clock without pay? If so, you may be entitled to recover not only owed pay but also the penalties and costs of pursuing your employment legal claim. That includes attorney's fees and the cost of going to court.
You may think your issue is a small claim. However, if other employees at your workplace are being treated in a similar fashion, our team at Kingsley & Kingsley may be able to combine these cases into a class action lawsuit. By doing so, we may be able to recover unpaid wages for you and your co-workers.
What Is It Called When Employer Doesn't Pay?
When employers fail to pay employees for work done, that is known as "unpaid wages" or wage theft. This situation may occur when an employer fails to pay overtime wages; meet the minimum wage requirement; misclassifies employees in order to pay them less wages or to not provide benefits such as paid leave; fails to give employees proper rest breaks and meal breaks; or does not properly reimburse employees for business-related expenses. These are only some examples of when wages are unpaid.
If you suspect that you did not receive the wages that you were supposed to receive, the first step is to bring it to your employer's attention. If it occurred because of a mistake or oversight, this will give them the opportunity to remedy the situation. However, if you discover that you are the victim of wage theft or unpaid wages, it is important to understand that you have legal rights. It is crucial that you contact an experienced Los Angeles unpaid wage attorney to discuss next steps.
Does My Employer Owe Me Money For Unpaid Wages?
Wage theft occurs when employers force employees to work off the clock, refuse to pay them overtime, fail to pay them a minimum wage or make unlawful deductions from their paychecks. There are also a number of other situations where unpaid wages can become an issue. While wage theft is often obvious, sometimes, it can slip under the radar. Here are a few questions to ask in order to determine if your employer owes you money for unpaid wages:
- Are you working more than eight hours a day or over 40 hours a week, but not getting overtime pay?
- Is your employer encroaching into your lunch break or requiring you to work during your rest break, but not paying you for that time?
- Are you being misclassified as an independent contractor when you are doing the job of an employee who should be on the payroll and receive benefits?
- Are you not getting earned tips?
- Are there deductions on your paycheck that don't seem right?
- Is your employer paying you the state's minimum wage when the minimum wage in your city is a higher amount? (In such cases employers should pay the higher amount).
If you think you may be owed unpaid wages, contact an experienced Los Angeles wage and hour attorney right away to explore your legal rights and options.
What Can You Do If Your Employer Doesn't Pay You In California?
If you believe that your employer or former employer owes you unpaid wages, here are some of the steps you can take:
Talk to your employer. If you suspect that your employer owes you unpaid wages, the first step is to talk to your employer directly about the issue. However, if talking to your employer doesn't yield a positive result and you have still not been paid the wages you are owed, the next step is to consider your options to recover the wages you have rightfully earned.
Collect as much evidence as possible. It is important that you collect as much evidence as possible to show that your employer did not pay you the wages you are owed. Important pieces of evidence may include timecards, pay stubs, copy of an employment letter or contract, and record of any communications you may have had with human resources or your supervisor regarding the unpaid wages.
Quick action is critical. If you wish to file a civil claim, it is important to understand that there are statutes of limitations for back wage claims. Speaking with a California unpaid wage lawyer can help determine next steps in a timely fashion. Employment attorneys with significant experience handling wage theft cases can provide good advice regarding how to proceed.
File a claim. Retaining the services of an unpaid wage attorney can give you the best possible pathway to filing a civil claim. Wage theft claims in California are filed with California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). Your attorney can also guide you with regard to filing an individual or class action lawsuit to help you get back wages and other monetary damages.
What Is The Penalty For Unpaid Wages In California?
If your employer failed to pay you for all of the hours you worked, a court could award you back pay, which totals your unpaid hours times your hourly wage. For example, if your hourly wage is $20 and you worked 20 hours overtime for which you were not paid, your back pay would be $400.
If you receive a late paycheck, employers must pay a penalty of $100 for an initial violation, under California Labor Code 210. For subsequent offenses, the penalty is $200 plus 25% of the amount your employer unlawfully took or withheld.
Need Help Recovering What You Are Owed?
No matter what type of compensation you are owed by an employer who has violated California wage and hour laws or other employment laws, you have legal recourse. At Kingsley & Kingsley Lawyers, we bring extensive experience and skills to your case. Once you contact us, we can help you quickly determine whether or not you have a valid claim and can move forward in pursuit of the compensation you are owed.