Your paycheck is the single most important thing about working for your employer. After all, if you didn’t get paid to work then you’d be on a beach somewhere sipping fruity drinks or, more realistically, out there looking for a job that pays in money. So when something goes wrong with your paycheck, naturally you’re going to be a little bothered.

But before you go storming into your boss’ office to demand the money for your missing hours, it’s important to consider the best possible way to approach this problem. To maintain a good relationship with your employer, you’ll want to go about checking and correcting this paycheck discrepancy with care and decorum. 

Today, we’re here to offer a step-by-step guide to correcting your paycheck problems for the best possible result.

Assume It’s an Accident

First, don’t assume that your employer is trying to cheat you. This is often our first gut reaction to being underpaid. Your employer has effectively stolen your time, but most of the time paycheck problems are an accident. Maybe hours weren’t recorded right, maybe someone forgot to punch your latest raise into the system. Maybe the admin doing payroll this week is new and just made a mistake.

Give your employer the benefit of the doubt and assume that they will be eager to fix the mistake once you point it out. This will help you maintain a positive attitude and be polite to everyone who might be able to help you fix the problem.

Double-Check Your Most Recent Employment Contract and Employee Handbook

Next, check what you have in writing. Check your most recent employment contract to see how it defines your wages, hours, and compensation. If you are salaried and/or exempt, check the rate at which you should be paid weekly and monthly. If you are an hourly employee, confirm the amount you should be paid per hour.

Then check the employee handbook. This may also have pay protocols written down and may define incremental raises.

If you have been given a verbal raise without paperwork and that raise has not appeared on your paycheck, you may need to get that raise in writing before you can legally insist on it.

Check California Law

Reference your recorded pay agreement with California law. Remember that it is required for your employer to pay you time and a half for overtime and they can’t give you comp-time instead. Remember that employers must legally pay you for all time they demand of you, including on-call time where you cannot schedule that time for your own uses.

Do The Math for Yourself

Now do your own math. Compare the hours you’ve worked, been on-call, and worked over-time with the rate of pay that you can confirm in written records. Write it out in a clear math problem so that there’s no confusion. Then compare it to your paycheck to confirm that the amount is light for the defined pay period. Remember to check the dates on the pay period in case you’re thinking of the most recent week when the paycheck is for the week before.

Check With Your Manager if You’re Reasonably Certain

If your math shows that the paycheck is light, and you’re close to 100% certain you remember your hours correctly, take the problem politely to your manager. Show them your math and the pay stub and the difference between and ask if you could correct the mistake. Remember not to be angry or accusatory. Chances are that your manager isn’t even in charge of payroll and this was a problem above their head or even made by a computer.

If your manager is understanding, they will send your question up the chain and have your paycheck checked or corrected if there is clearly a mistake. However, if your manager is resistant or hostile or says there’s nothing they can do, you’ll need to take the next steps into your own hands.

Track Your Hours Closely

In the next pay period, track your hours closely for your own records, no matter what hours-tracking system your work has. Keep a journal and we suggest you snap cellphone pictures of your clock-in and clock-out times so there’s proof of your records.

Schedule a Polite Meeting with HR

Take it up the chain to HR. Schedule a meeting and, again, be polite with the assumption that the person you’re talking to is not responsible but they can help you. Ideally, your HR rep or department will be eager to help you sort out the problem and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Contact an Employment Lawyer and Start Looking for a More Reliable Employer

 Finally, if all else fails (or you find yourself facing hostility), it’s time to contact an employment rights lawyer who can help you force your employer to pay you for time worked and services rendered. In addition, you likely want to start looking for a new job with an employer who can handle the basic functions of hour tracking and compensatory pay.

Aiman Smith and Marcy is dedicated to defending the rights of employees from unfair treatment. For more information about how to get your rightful pay and stand up for your employment rights, contact us today!

Leave a Reply

Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986