Unpaid wages are one of the most common reasons why employees in California complain about their jobs, but it does not always end in getting paid what they are owed.
In many cases, employees get fired for complaining about unpaid wages, which, under California wrongful termination laws, can be categorized as retaliation. Terminating an employee in retaliation for complaining about wage or hour violations is punishable by law.
But what should you do if you have been fired after complaining about unpaid wages? This is the question we asked our Los Angeles wrongful termination attorney at the JML Law.
First and foremost, you should know that you have a legal right to complain about wages not being paid by your employer either through filing a complaint with California’s Labor Commissioner or by going directly to the employer.
In many cases, if you have been underpaid and you complain about it, firing you would not be a legal way to deal with you. California laws offer a plethora of protections for workers who complain about being underpaid, which is why it is not illegal to fire employees who complain about unpaid wages.
Our best wrongful termination attorneys in Los Angeles and all across California explain that California laws prohibit employers from firing, discharging, demoting, reducing pay, harassing, or taking any other adverse employment action against or in any other way retaliating against employees who complain about unpaid wages.
If you are being owed unpaid wages, you have a legal right to complain directly to your employer. Even if there is no formal complaint filed on the matter, and you express your complaint verbally or in any other form, it is against the law to fire you for complaining about unpaid wages.
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) enforces very specific rules for all employers in Los Angeles, California, and all across the United States. These rules include but are not limited to minimum wage requirements and overtime pay. If you are underpaid, you have a right to file a complaint alleging FLSA violations.
Both formal and informal complaints count as exercising your rights under the FLSA. In case your employer takes any adverse employment action against you after complaining or testifying about wage violations, you may be entitled to sue the employer for his or her illegal conduct.
“What is an adverse employment action?” you may wonder. It means any action that negatively affects you or your job. Proving retaliation on the part of your employer can be a little tricky especially if you are not represented by an experienced wrongful termination attorney in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California.
In order to establish a link between your termination and the complaint about unpaid wages or any other wages or hours violations at work, evidence will not always be readily available. More often than not, timing will be the key to establishing a connection between retaliation and firing. In other words, the less time has passed between the date you filed the complaint and the date of your firing, the stronger your legal case.