How to Report Wage Theft in California

Wage theft comes in several forms and costs workers billions of dollars a year. It means wages haven’t been paid for hours worked.

This could be a failure to pay the minimum wage, which currently stands at $12 in California, failing to pay for overtime, which is time spent working over 40 hours, failing to pay for time a worker spends preparing his/her work space or failing to pay vacation pay. 

All California’s workers have the right to file a wage theft claim when their employers fail to pay them the wages or benefits they are owed. California’s labor laws protect all the different types of workers.

How to File a Wage Claim

When you file a wage claim, the Labor Commissioner’s Office will investigate your claim to determine if you are owed any wages or benefits.

The first step is arranging a settlement conference between you and your employer to resolve the wage theft issue. If the settlement conference fails to reach a resolution, a hearing will be scheduled which allows a hearing officer to review the evidence and arrive at a decision about the claim.

The Labor Commissioner cannot handle complaints from independent contractors. However in order to commit wage theft an employer sometimes misclassifies an employee as an independent contractor.

If you believe this has happened to you file a wage theft claim which will be considered by The Labor Commissioner’s Office and a hearing may be held to decide if an employee has been misclassified as an independent contractor.

You have 3 years to file an unpaid wages claim for the following violations:

  • unpaid rest and meal breaks,
  • sick leave,
  • overtime ,
  • minimum wage
  • illegal deductions from pay or unpaid reimbursements.

You have one year to claim for a bounced check and two years for an oral promise to pay more than minimum wage.

Evidence Required for your Unpaid Wages Claim

When you file an unpaid wage claim with the Labor Commissioner’s Office, you will need to provide your employer’s name which should be found on your paystubs, mailing labels or product labels.

If you cannot find this information, provide your employer’s vehicle license plate number plate.

You should ensure you have a complete record of your hours worked. This includes your start and finish times, the times you take rest or meal breaks and the total number of hours worked.

Make sure you have all your pay stubs. On each pay stub should be found the following:

  • your name;
  • the wages you have earned;
  • the exact pay period dates;
  • your employer’s name, address and phone number;
  • all deductions such as taxes;
  • hours of accumulated paid sick leave.

All of this information helps the Labor Commissioner establish the amount of your unpaid wages claim. Once you have gathered all the information required to support your wage theft claim the next step is to actually file a claim.

You need to go to the Labor Commissioner’s website download a claim form, complete it and print it.

You can attach documents like pay stubs to your application form and mail or email it to the Labor Commissioner’s Office.

Once the wage theft claim is filed, the Labor Commissioner’s Office will assign an officer to investigate the claim who will determine if you are owed any wages.

Typically, a settlement conference is arranged between you and your employer to resolve the wage theft issue. If, at the conference, no resolution takes place, a hearing is timetabled which allows a hearing officer to review the evidence and come a determination.

Fill Out a Free Evaluation form

If you think you have been subject to wage theft by your employer, you should fill out the free evaluation form available below.

Additional Resources