3 Things To Consider When Settling Unpaid Wages

Unpaid wages can take a serious toll on your finances, leaving you financially strained and without the money you rightfully deserve. Whether it’s due to an incorrect paycheck calculation, an employer forgetting to pay overtime, or just not paying for hours worked, unpaid wages are unfortunately all too common – but don’t worry; there are steps you can take to recover what is owed to you. Let’s break down three things that every employee should consider when dealing with unpaid wages so that they can settle their disputes in a timely and fair manner.

Employees are entitled to wages for the hours they worked. California unemployment law provides a process for collecting unpaid wages; The process begins when you file your claim which is assigned to a Deputy Labor Commissioner. The commissioner decides if your claim should be assigned to a settlement conference, dismissed, or scheduled for a hearing. You will receive notice of the action that is taken as well as the next steps. Claims that are referred to a hearing or settlement conference will receive notice within 40 days of filing.

As you enter into the process, there are three key things that you need to know to get the best possible outcome.

Those who are owed unpaid wages may also be able to file a civil lawsuit against the employer and that employer may be subject to civil penalties that include:

  • Statutory Damages
  • Attorney Fees
  • Court Costs

Whether you choose to file a claim with the labor commissioner or a civil lawsuit, it’s important to speak with an employment attorney so you can get the expertise needed to ensure the best outcome. 

When to Settle for Unpaid Wages

To increase the likelihood of settling your claim for unpaid wages it’s best to act fast . California has strict deadlines for unpaid wage claims, based on certain circumstances:

  • 1 Year
    • Bounced checks
    • Failure to provide a copy of employee payroll records
    • Failure to provide access to employee payroll records
  • 2 Years
    • Verbal promise to pay wages when wages exceed the minimum wage
  • 3 Years
    • Minimum wage
    • Overtime pay
    • Sick leave
    • Meal and rest breaks
    • Unpaid reimbursement for business expenses
    • Illegal deductions from paychecks
  • 4 Years
    • A written contract for work

If you don’t file your claim within the timeline that is appropriate for your circumstances, it could bar you permanently from having any right to recover those unpaid wages that your employer owes you.

What You are Owed

When you file your claim you need to know what you are owed for unpaid wages including unpaid overtime in California. To help prove your claim you should be prepared to present  documentation of the unpaid wages. The circumstances for the unpaid wages will determine the type of documentation that you need. Documents may include:

  • Timesheets, timecards, logs, or other documentation of the working hours of an employee
  • Paychecks that were returned as NSF
  • Pay stubs and paychecks
  • Notice of employment information
  • Text messages or phone application information showing hours worked

An attorney can also help you obtain this vital information. If your employer or former employer is not forthcoming with the documents, your attorney can get them via discovery which makes the employer legally responsible for providing the information.

How a California Employment Lawyer Can Help

An employment attorney understands California employment law and how the system works. They can help you through the process, ensuring that your claim is complete and that you have all the documentation that you need.. If you have a problem obtaining any required documentation, your attorney can help you get it.

Sometimes even the cases that look the easiest can quickly go south. If that happens to you, you want a lawyer on your side who can help you rebound from any setbacks, whether it’s a denial of your claim or an employer who digs in her heels and won’t cooperate. Lawyers for Employee and Consumer Rights will fight for you and help you get the compensation that you deserve.

If an employer owes you unpaid wages or unpaid overtime, don’t wait to see if they will eventually come around – by then it may be too late. You need an unpaid wages lawyer in Los Angeles and at Lawyers For Employee Rights, you can count on us. Call today.

Start your FREE case review now!


Learn how much your case may be worth. Time may be limited to recover any money.

Fill in the form below. One of our case evaluators will contact you.


Call Us Now!

Before You Leave

Get A Free Case Review

No obligation.

No upfront cost.

We only get paid when you do!