If you work for a living, why do you kill yourself working? It’s a famous line from the film, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” and it speaks volumes about the bad and the ugly of negative work situations. Having a job where you don’t feel valued or properly compensated can certainly be a bad thing. It can get ugly, however, when you’re actually not paid in accordance with the terms in your employment contract and/or state law. This doesn’t just relate to unpaid hours, but unpaid overtime, vacation, and sick time. Whatever compensation you are promised by your employment agreement and the laws of your state your employer is required to pay without exception. If you are not paid in accordance with either of those, you may not only be due compensation to the dollar amount due, but any damages that may have been caused from not being paid in a timely manner. There are some considerations worth making as well if you are the employer in the situation which will also be discussed.
It is your right as an employee to be compensated fairly in accordance with your employment agreement and state law without the threat of losing your job or being treated poorly in your workplace for filing a dispute. Particularly for cases where compensation owed is in excess of several thousand dollars, an attorney is crucial to having the best chance of securing a favorable outcome in your case.
Wage Claim Adjudication
Wage claims may be adjudicated on behalf of affected workers for nonpayment of wages, overtime, or vacation pay (including sick leave if applicable), pursuant to California Labor Code sections 96 and 98. Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) deputies hold informal conferences between employers and employees to resolve wage disputes. If a matter cannot be resolved at that time, an administrative hearing is held to make a final determination on the matter.
For lower value wage disputes, an employee may work with the DLSE exclusively to secure their compensation. However, for much greater amounts, particularly those in excess of $15,000 or more, securing an attorney for these discussions is a great idea. There are many reasons for this. While the DLSE is meant to act in the best interest of both parties, often times an employer will try to intimidate an employee into believing they will be unable to prove the amount they claim is owed to them. The employee may be coerced into accepting a much lower settlement than what is actually owed, or dropping the matter entirely in fear of losing their job or taking a reputation hit when seeking other employment. Having an attorney can level the playing field and help you to be prepared for all necessary discussions and hearings on the matter. Additionally, if not being compensated in a timely manner caused you other damages, such as losing an apartment due to nonpayment or overdrawing your bank account, you can negotiate for a higher payout.
Alternatively, if you are an employer who has received a claim for an employee initiated by the DLSE or another attorney, having an attorney on your side can be a great insurance policy. Knowing the law, you may be able to avoid paying out wages to an employee who abused sick leave or vacation policy, for example. If the employee is trying to string together additional frivolous damages, having an attorney can prevent your company taking a heavy loss. It’s not unheard of for an unprepared company to have to pay out damages for claims that were frivolous simply because they were not prepared. Don’t make that mistake!
Class Action Lawsuits for Large Corporations
Are you one of several employees that have been taken advantage of by a large corporation refusing to pay out multiple employees just compensation for wages, including unpaid hours, vacation, sick leave, or otherwise? You may have grounds for filing a class action lawsuit. Class action lawsuits have the greatest potential to make a huge difference in companies that are notorious for breaking California law involving employment wage and hour disputes. It all starts with one person standing up and speaking out against the behavior, but when more come aboard, it can result in a huge settlement for you and your current or former coworkers. Exactly as has been explained before, particularly if the violations resulted in additional damages, the lawsuit can result in massive compensation to all affected parties.
Getting a strong attorney in matters involving class action lawsuits or general wage and hour disputes can also reduce the amount of time needed to be compensated. In many cases, individuals affected simply do not have the time to wait for their compensation. Often times, when threatened with a class action lawsuit or simply a wage dispute initiated by a professional attorney, the company at fault will look to settle quickly for a reasonable amount to avoid the financial and reputational damage from going to court.
Need an Attorney for an Employment Wage and/or Hour Dispute?
WB Law Group is a reputable business litigation firm with experience in matters involving California law, such as employment wage and/or hour disputes, particularly those valued at $15,000 or more. If you feel you need legal representation, we are happy to review your case and provide consultation.
For questions, or to schedule a consultation, contact us today at 559.431.4888 (Fresno) or 619.399.7700 (San Diego).