Can I Sue For Unpaid Wages In California?

A Quick Guide To Unpaid Wages In California


When you work for someone, you're entitled to fair wages. By nature of businesses, employers want to have as little outgoing expenses as possible. However, if that affects their capacity or willingness to pay your wages, then you should hire a Labor Lawyer in California to forward a wage claim.


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Your Labor Should Be Paid

Your "labor" refers to the services you provide to an employer and should be paid accordingly.

Employees are compensated in varied ways and depending on the type of work they do. Some people are paid hourly, while others are paid a set wage. Some personnel, such as salespeople, are compensated on a commission basis, while others who work on a contract basis are compensated per project.


Other perks employees receive as part of their wage packages include:

  1. Sick leave

  2. Vacation pay

  3. Room and board (accommodations)

  4. Health insurance

All of these qualify as part of your "wage." So if your employer refuses or fails to pay them, then you might have grounds for a Wage Claim in California.


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What Wages Are You Paid?


Every worker in California, regardless of immigration status, is entitled to receive fair pay. Employees may be paid according to the terms of a contract or according to the California Labor Code.

1. When Under Contract

Many workers in California agree to work for a pay promised to them in a contract. Thus, the employer and the employee have made a legally binding agreement.


The promise to pay salaries is usually expressed in the form of a formal written contract. When it comes to earned pay, though, an oral agreement is also enforceable.


2. Employee Classification

Under the Labor Code, employees in California have the right to earn compensation, including minimum wage and overtime pay. However, it's vital to note that independent contractors are compensated for work completed under a contract instead of employees who are paid a salary.

Compensation for independent contractors doesn't qualify as "wage" in California law. So when an employee is mistakenly designated (misclassified) as an independent contractor, they would be robbed of benefits they have the right to.

If you've been misclassified and lost wages as a result, contact a California Employment Law Attorney to help you sort your case.

When Do Wages Have To Be Paid?

California law also establishes guidelines for when employees must be paid. The most basic rules are as follows:

  1. Employers must pay employees in California at least twice a month.

  2. Employers must schedule regular paydays for their employees and inform them of when they will be paid.

  3. Wages earned between the 1st and 15th must be paid between the 16th and 26th within the same month.

  4. Wages received from the 16th to the last day must be paid between the 1st and 10th of the following month.

  5. Wages for overtime earned during the work period must be paid no later than the regular payday for the following work period, according to California overtime legislation.

  6. Exempt employees (i.e., administrative or supervisory positions) may be paid on a different schedule, such as once a month.

That said, if there's been an uncharacteristic delay in your wages, you can contact your employer or HR and see if there's been a mistake or an oversight.

However, if you regularly haven't been getting your pay within the specified time periods stated above, and your employer refuses to listen and change their payment methods and schedule, then you should contact and California Labor Lawyer to sort out your claim.

How About Your Last Paycheck? (After Leaving Your Job)


Whether or not an employee receives a final paycheck is determined by whether or not they were fired or they quit on their own:

  1. An employee must be paid all wages earned up to and including the date of termination on the day of termination if he or she is fired.

  2. When an employee resigns with at least 72 hours' notice, they must be paid on the last day of their employment.

  3. Employees who leave without giving notice must get their final pay within 72 hours after their last day of work.

  4. The employee's unused vacation time must also be included in the final payout.

California law imposes a waiting time penalty on employers who willfully fail to pay final wages in whole or on schedule:

  1. For each day that pay is delayed, the waiting time penalty is equal to a full day's salary.

  2. It can continue to accrue for up to 30 days after an employee has left.

  3. The penalty is determined by multiplying the employee's daily wage rate by the number of days the payment is late, up to 30 days.

  4. When a paycheck bounces or is denied, a penalty of one day's additional earnings is applied for each day the check is not cashed, up to 30 days.

So if you were recently fired from a job and are struggling to get your final paycheck, as stated by Employment Law, you should contact a California Wage Claims Attorney to help you get them.

What Evidence Do You Need For A Wage Claim?

Having supporting documents to back up your claim is incredibly beneficial. You could use the following:

  1. Time logs

  2. Bounced checks

  3. Paychecks

  4. Pay stubs

  5. Employment documents (i.e., employee records)

  6. Unpaid commissions, vacation, and reimbursement of company expenditures are also examples of unpaid salaries.

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It's a good idea to speak with a California Employment Law Attorney before filing a wage claim. Your lawyer can supply you with a complete list of the documentation you must submit to the Labor Commissioner's Office.

Your lawyer can also defend you and handle your claim, ensuring that no errors are made and that your rights and interests are safeguarded at all times.

Find A California Employment Law Attorney Near Me

Gency.org can help you find a Contingency Lawyer for your Employment Cases in California. No win, no fees! You can complete our submission form for a free case review.

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