Wage Theft and Hour Complaint in CA

If your employer hasn’t paid you for all your work hours, you may be experiencing wage theft.

The California Labor Commissioner’s Office, also called the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), enforces the state’s wage and hour laws.

When you report a labor law violation, DLSE will review your complaint and determine if your employer violated the law. 

While it’s not required to have attorney representation during a wage adjudication, it is your right. An experienced employment lawyer can help you through the claims process.

The attorneys at the Workplace Rights Law Group have nearly 100 years of employment law experience and a record of winning compensation for our clients.

When you contact our firm, we’ll listen to your situation and explain your right to recover after a wage and hour violation.

This page will cover the basics of how to report wage theft by filing a California labor board claim. However, your employer must also follow the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

If you feel that your employer has violated the FLSA, you may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor field office nearest you. The remainder of this page will focus on California labor laws and the DLSE.

1. File a Wage Claim with DLSE

If you’ve experienced wage theft, your first step should be to talk to your supervisor and request payment. If they refuse, you should file a wage claim with DLSE.

You may do so online or by mail. For most wage violations, you have three years from the date of the violation to file a report.

You should file within one year if your check bounces or your employer refuses to give you access to pay records. 

After receiving your complaint, DLSE will assign your complaint to a Deputy Labor Commissioner.

The Deputy has 30 days to review your complaint and decide whether to dismiss your claim, refer it to a settlement conference, or schedule a hearing.

If the case is complex and involves numerous employees and records, DLSE may send your claim to the Bureau of Field Enforcement (BOFE) for investigation. 

2. What Is a Settlement Conference?

The Deputy may refer your claim to a settlement conference. The Deputy will facilitate discussions between you and your employer during the conference to help you agree on a settlement.

It is an informal meeting where you can provide evidence to support your claim. If you do not attend the conference, the Deputy may dismiss your case.

After the conference, if you and your employer fail to reach a settlement, the Deputy will schedule a hearing or dismiss the case.

3. What Is a Berman Hearing and ODA?

The law requires the Deputy to schedule a hearing (known as a Berman hearing) within 90 days of the decision that your claim should have a hearing.

Before the hearing, you have the opportunity to file a complaint with details of your claim. Your employer may file an answer to your complaint.

You may request for the DLSE to subpoena witnesses, such as your co-workers or supervisor, to testify at the hearing. You can also present documentation to support your case.

Within fifteen (15) days after the hearing, the Commissioner will enter an Order, Decision, or Award (ODA) with their determination of responsibility and the amount your employer must pay, if any.

4. Appeal

If you disagree with the Commissioner’s decision, you may appeal to the civil court within 10 days of the ODA. The ODA will be final if you do not file an appeal within 10 days. In addition to filing with the court, you must notify the Commissioner and your employer.

On appeal, a judge will review your case de novo. The judge will hear the evidence and testimony again. If your employer files an appeal, they must deposit a bond for the amount in the ODA to reserve the judgment. 

How Can the Workplace Rights Law Group Help?

We understand that reporting a wage violation can be scary and overwhelming. Fortunately, the experienced wage theft attorneys at the Workplace Rights Law Group can help you with every step of your wage theft claim.

We have a firm grasp of the law meant to protect employees from predatory employment practices. We have recovered millions of dollars for wage and labor violations, and we are waiting to fight for you.

Contact us for a free consultation in Southern California today.


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