In some circumstances, employers can be dishonest and refuse to abide by laws that demand workers be paid fairly. Employers might take unauthorized deductions from paychecks, issue checks with insufficient funds or refuse to pay overtime. Fortunately, wage theft is illegal and workers have options to hold employers accountable.
Collect evidence: Gathering evidence is a crucial first step for fighting against wage theft. Emails, journal entries, timecards, witnesses, online data and other evidence can help prove wage theft.
Wage claims: After gathering evidence, workers can file wage claims. Depending on the circumstances of employment, California workers can file wage claims through the Labor Commissioner’s Office (LCO). After investigating a claim, the LCO may offer a dismissal, conference or hearing. A dismissal means the claim does not have enough merit to warrant further action. Hearings and conferences are more serious and present an opportunity for all parties involved to share evidence.
Do I Need an Attorney to File a Wage Claim?
Hiring an attorney is not a necessary requirement to file a wage claim, but it is recommended. During the confusing process of collecting evidence for a wage claim, it is easy to make errors or even accidently break the law.
For example, workers might mistakenly believe they can record their employers over the phone to “catch them” admitting to wage theft. This would be illegal under California law. In other cases, claims will be granted a hearing and companies will hire their own attorneys to find ways to shed accountability for paying out wages.
Experienced employment law attorneys know how to fight back against lawyers hired by companies to escape accountability. Employment law attorneys also know of the best ways to collect evidence of wage theft. Wage theft is unacceptable and should always be fought against, but it can also require the skilled expertise of an experienced attorney.