Filing A Wage Fraud Claim In California: Which Is The Best Option To Recover Money?

By: JML Law | June 13, 2018.
Filing A Wage Fraud Claim In California: Which Is The Best Option To Recover Money?

If you are reading this, chances are you can no longer put up with your employer’s empty promises to pay you or in any other way stop violating wage and hour laws. Luckily, you have multiple options to recover your hard-earned money and ensure that violations like these will never repeat again.

A rule of thumb is that if an employer is unwilling to pay the money that is owed after you raised the issue informally, it is time to act formally. If you do not do this, your employer will feed you with groundless promises for weeks, months, or even years to come.

Some employers just cannot meet their legal obligations even though California employment law imposes strict penalties for employers who violate wage and hour laws in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the state.

Three options to file a wage fraud claim in California

Our Los Angeles wage fraud attorney from the JML Law has outlined three options to recover unpaid or underpaid wages and hold the employer liable for wage and hour violations at work:

  1. File a civil lawsuit in court.
  2. File a wage fraud claim with a federal agency.
  3. File a wage fraud claim with California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE).

Let’s find out which is the best option to file a wage fraud claim and recover money for violations of wage and hour laws.

Lawsuit vs federal claim vs DLSE claim: the benefits of each

Filing a civil lawsuit in court is the best option for employees who are being owed a large sum of money. Since litigation can be rather costly and time-consuming, involve countless conferences and hearings, it does not make much sense to file a lawsuit for claims that involve an insignificant amount of money.

Submitting a wage claim with a federal agency, on the other hand, is the least recommended option if you want to take legal action against an employer in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Riverside, or elsewhere in California. This is because wage fraud claims that are filed on the federal level follow federal laws, which usually offer far less protections and benefits to employees compared to California’s Labor Code. For example, California has adopted a higher minimum wage than is required by federal law.

This brings us to file a wage fraud claim with the DLSE, which, according to our experienced wage fraud attorney in Los Angeles, is the most optimal option if you are dealing with any of the following issues:

  1. Owed unpaid wages.
  2. Wage fraud.
  3. The time and manner in which your employer pays wages.
  4. Minimum wage requirements in California.
  5. Overtime pay.

Similar to filing a civil lawsuit, the DLSE will hold a hearing to review all the complaints and evidence available as well as to investigate the claims. However, it is a much cheaper option to pursue a claim through the DLSE compared to a civil lawsuit.

The benefits of filing a wage claim with the DLSE

Our best wage fraud lawyers in California say that filing a wage claim with the DLSE is the most optimal way to report wage and hour violations in the workplace for several reasons:

  1. It is cheaper, less complex, less risky, and faster than filing a civil lawsuit.
  2. The DLSE has the power to require employers to adhere to the law and pay penalties.
  3. Employees have a legal right to be represented by a wage fraud attorney at DLSE hearings.
  4. The DLSE issues subpoenas to listen to witness testimony at hearings.

There is one downside to filing a wage fraud claim with the DLSE, says our Los Angeles wage fraud attorney from the JML Law. If you file a claim with the state agency, you will most likely not be able to recover attorney fees as part of your settlement. However, attorney fees may still be recoverable through a DLSE claim if you are represented by a skilled lawyer.

Determining what the best option to file a wage fraud claim depends on your specific circumstances. Schedule a free consultation by calling the JML Law at 818-610-8800 or fill out this contact form.

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