Recently I have seen an increase in the number of current or former employees filing wage claims against their employers here in California. There often is a good reason for the filing. In my experience, employees typically do not spend time and effort on filing wage claims unless they have some basis for concluding they have been underpaid, such as:
- Unpaid wages, including commissions or bonuses.
- Accrued but unused vacation time not paid at the time of termination.
- Unauthorized deductions from paychecks.
Procedures for wage claims can be nasty from the employer’s perspective. The employee, who need not be represented by counsel, can have the Labor Commissioner issue subpoenas for documents, records or witnesses. (The employee needs to pay associated out-of-pocket expenses.) Few employers want to be subjected to Labor Commissioner subpoenas, much less the hearing at which the subpoenaed evidence will be presented.
The bottom line for employers: Pay employees what they are owed throughout their employment and upon termination. Complying with law usually is more cost-effective than defending one or more wage claims.
Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law +1 510 547-0545 dana [at] danashultz [dot] com
This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer directly.