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Unpaid Wages and Overtime Lawyer in California

If you are an employee facing recovering unpaid wages and protecting your employee rights, an experienced lawyer can assist you. Wage theft and overtime violations differ, so it is imperative to have an attorney who understands the role of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and who can fight to collect your hard-earned wages on your behalf.

Know Your Rights

California Unpaid Wages Law

Empowering yourself with the knowledge of your rights as a California employee is vital in safeguarding against wage and overtime disputes. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that forms the backbone of wage and overtime regulations nationwide. This pivotal legislation dictates standards for minimum wage, overtime compensation, recordkeeping requirements and rules for employing minors. It’s the benchmark that all employers, including those in California, must adhere to in their wage practices.

Every worker in the state is entitled to at least the minimum hourly wage

Any hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek should attract overtime pay

Regular and punctual payment on scheduled paydays is a non-negotiable right

Employees have a right to rest breaks, varied by the length of their shift

If any of these rights are breached, employers may be held accountable and be required to pay fines. If your rights were violated, you may be able to recover your unpaid wages, legal fees, and associated penalties with the help of an attorney. You must seek legal advice and explore your options for filing a claim.

What Constitutes an Unpaid Wage Claim in California?

Understanding what constitutes an unpaid wage claim in California: it is crucial to learn what triggers such a claim. Simply put, an unpaid wage claim can occur when your employer neglects their legal obligation to pay you the wages you have rightfully earned. This isn’t limited to just your regular hourly wages. It can be a maze of different scenarios, each one unique, but all leading back to the same point—non-payment of what’s owed to you.

For example, you’ve worked your full work week and overtime, but your paycheck doesn’t reflect the extra hours. Perhaps you’ve sealed a deal and earned a commission, but your employer seems to have conveniently overlooked it. Or maybe you’ve hit your targets and earned a bonus, but find it missing from your paycheck. 

It’s not just about the dollars and cents. It’s about fairness and the law, being compensated for your hard work and upholding your rights as an employee. 

It is in these situations that the labyrinth of labor law comes into play, offering you the opportunity to seek justice and retrieve what’s rightfully yours with the help of a lawyer.

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The Legal Framework of Unpaid Overtime In California

Delving into the realm of overtime, it’s essential to recognize the critical roles both the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and California Labor Code play in protecting workers’ rights. The FLSA acts as a nationwide safety net. It sets the stage for fundamental employment standards, including minimum wage, recordkeeping, and crucially, overtime pay.

Now, what about overtime specifically? FLSA mandates that all non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times their usual rate for any time worked beyond the 40-hour workweek. That means if you’re clocking in more than your standard eight hours a day, five days a week, your employer has a legal obligation to compensate you accordingly.

But where does the California Labor Code fit into all this? Consider it as an additional layer of protection, specifically tailored for the Golden State’s workforce. California’s laws often go above and beyond federal regulations, providing even stronger safeguards for its workforce. Combined with the FLSA, the California Labor Code works as a formidable team to ensure that workers in California are treated fairly and paid rightly for the time they invest in their jobs. These two crucial regulations work hand in hand to protect workers from overtime exploitation and wage theft.

It is essential to note that when state laws, such as those in California, offer more substantial benefits like a higher minimum wage, these local regulations supersede the federal mandate under FLSA.

Understanding the FLSA and its interaction with California employment law is crucial to comprehend your rights and entitlements as an employee in the state. A knowledgeable lawyer will be your greatest asset in such a case.

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Identifying Wage Theft and Overtime Violations

Wage theft is when an employer intentionally deprives an employee of their rightfully earned pay. This can occur in various forms, such as: not accounting for all hours worked, failure to pay the minimum wage, or unlawful deductions from the employee’s wages.

Overtime issues are a different matter. They arise when an employee clocks more than the contracted work hours in a week but is not compensated accordingly as required by law. 

While both actions are illegal, they represent different forms of non-compliance. Both unpaid wages and overtime violations constitute a breach of labor law in California. Employers who engage in these activities may face steep penalties. 

The subtle nuances between wage theft and overtime violations can be confusing, understanding the difference and your rights is vital. This is where Colby Law Firm can help.

How to Recognize if Your Employer is Committing Wage Theft

Wage theft can occur in many forms, with some being obvious while others are harder to identify. It is important to be educated about your employer’s actions concerning wages. Some examples of wage theft are:

  • Altering employee time cards
  • Not providing break times
  • Withholding sick leave wages
  • Denying vacation time wages
  • Being asked to do tasks after you’ve clocked out or “off the clock”
  • Misclassifying your work status
  • Not receiving your final paycheck

This list is not exhaustive. A California labor lawyer can help you identify if you have been a victim of wage theft. Colby Law Firm is experienced in helping employees fight for their rights and recovering earned commissions.

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Signs That You Are Denied Overtime Unjustly

Overtime violations occur when employers skirt around the law by not paying the legally mandated overtime rate. This rate is typically 1.5 times the regular pay rate, meant for hours exceeding the normal workweek limit. However, being denied overtime unjustly doesn’t just take the form of not getting paid time-and-a-half. Here are some other examples of denied overtime:

  • Misclassifying employees as exempt
  • Requesting you work off the clock
  • Trading regular work hours off in exchange for overtime hours worked
  • Refusing to pay overtime that wasn’t approved in advance
  • Combining work weeks
  • Allowing employees to “waive” their right to overtime pay

There are some exceptions to overtime pay in California, such as exempt employees or employees that are considered “outside salespersons”. However, often employers will purposely misclassify an employee to avoid paying overtime. If you are unsure whether your overtime denial was unjust or not, reach out to Colby Law Firm.

Filing an Unpaid Wage Claim:
The Procedure

Initiating the process to recover your unpaid wages in California involves lodging a comprehensive complaint with the Labor Commissioner’s Office. Your complaint should meticulously detail all unpaid wages, your work, and any relevant data about your employer. Once you’ve submitted your complaint, an investigation will take place, which may lead to a hearing if deemed necessary. 

Throughout this process, a lawyer’s expertise is indispensable. They can ensure the precision of your paperwork, guide you through the complexity of the process, and represent your best interests during the proceedings. 

Navigating wage claims doesn’t have to be overwhelming – with an unpaid wages attorney, you can confidently advocate for your rights.

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Steps to File an Unpaid Wage Claim

To file an unpaid wage claim you must first gather and prepare all the documentation pertinent to your claim. Once you’ve gathered your documents showing that you’ve  attempted to collect the unpaid wages with your employer directly. In some cases, it may be a simple matter of confusion, miscommunication, or an error. 

If you are unable to retrieve your unpaid wages by communicating with your employer, reach out to Colby Law Firm to file a wage claim with the California Labor Commissioner’s Office. An attorney can help guide you through the claim process and provide representation should the case proceed to court. 

In California, violations of minimum wage, overtime, or unlawful deductions from your pay must be filed within three years. Additionally, claims regarding a verbal agreement to pay more than minimum wage must be filed within two years, while claims regarding a written contract must be filed within four years.

Documentation Required For Filing an Unpaid Wage Case

Before filing an unpaid wage case you must gather all the necessary information pertinent to your claim. This may include pay stubs, proof of hours worked, employment contracts, and details about your employer, workplace, and position. Once you have your documentation together, an attorney can help you submit an affidavit which will go to your employer along with all your documentation.

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Possible Legal Outcomes

Compensation, Penalties, and Court Judgement

There are a variety of legal outcomes that may occur from an unpaid wage claim. If the ruling goes in favor of the employee, the employer will be required to pay back wages owed, plus interest. They may also be required to pay penalties if it is found that their violation of the law was willful. Colby Law Firm often achieves favorable judgments for employees.


What Kind of Compensation Can You Expect?

If the judgment goes in your favor the lawsuit will conclude with compensation to you. The wages recovered may be back pay, front pay, and in some cases will also include punitive damages.


Penalties Your Employer Could Face

The state of California imposes wage theft penalties on employers that violate the California Labor Code. This may include fines, license revocation, and in some cases even imprisonment.


Navigating Court Proceedings For Unpaid Wages and Overtime

Once you and your attorney have filed your claim your case will be reviewed by the court. You may be asked questions about your claim or asked to provide additional documentation. Once both the employee and the employer have had a chance to state their cases and the discovery phase is complete, a final judgment will be made. Colby Law Firm will be by your side every step of the way until the final judgment is made.

Types of Unpaid Wages Cases Handled by Colby Law Firm

Colby Law Firm handles a variety of unpaid wage cases such as minimum wage violations, unpaid overtime, wage theft, off-the-clock wages, and earned commissions due. Colby Law Firm specializes in overtime wages and wage theft.

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Why Choose Colby Law Firm For Your Unpaid Wage and Overtime Cases

Should you find yourself having trouble collecting unpaid wages or overtime compensation, enlisting the help of Colby Law Firm is a great place to start. A legal professional can decode your rights and navigate the complicated legal proceedings, standing as a strong advocate if your case escalates to arbitration or court.

Colby Law Firm specializes in handling unpaid wages and overtime cases, getting favorable judgments for employees who have been denied due wages. We offer affordable legal services, including a free case evaluation to discuss and assess your individual situation.

Free Case Evaluation by Colby Law Firm’s Lawyers

If you have an unpaid wage claim, contact Colby Law Firm today for a free case evaluation. These case evaluations will allow one of our attorneys to gather the details of your case, and may offer preliminary advice.

For the best results at receiving the wages you earned, don’t take on your employer alone. Lean on our experienced and knowledgeable staff at Colby Law Firm for the best possible outcome for your case. Contact us today to recover what you are owed.


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Why Choose

Colby Law Firm

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Aaron Colby is a California employment lawyer who knows how to resolve disputes. After 15 years representing companies, he started Colby Law Firm to represent employees. Aaron’s perspective and experience from being “on the other side” gives him an edge. Aaron brings his practical, focused, and relentless approach to helping employees protect their rights.

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Aaron Colby
Lead Attorney and Founder Colby Law