There are several actions that you can take in California if you feel that you are not paid properly for your work. This is based on your agreement or contract with your employer that stipulates how much along with when you are to be paid. This includes the conditions of your work, and the hours required for you to do your job. Know that $13 per hour is the minimum wage in California, although more in many counties throughout the state.
In many cases, you may be hired by the human resources department and given written information regarding your employment. You will fill out a tax withholding (W-4) form. You may also agree to participate in shared health insurance. All of this information must be written out and given to you. Keep your copy of all signed agreements. Yes, actual printed paperwork is still important even in this age of computers and other mobile devices.
You may have a time sheet or clock check-in if you are an hourly wage earner. Keep a copy of all hours worked including overtime. If you are exempt and work on a salary, keep a copy of your work agreement and any other paperwork that shows how many hours you worked. Commission sales people must keep records of all sales that lead to commissions and overrides. Employees who have business expense accounts should keep copies of all receipts submitted for reimbursement. You may have to print out this information if you work on computers or mobile devices.
Remedies for Paycheck Shortages
Most employers now make direct deposits into your bank account. They are still required to provide a written voucher showing all deductions along with hours worked in California. Salaried personnel exempt from clock check-in are usually still paid on the basis of a 40-hour work week. Check your pay stub or voucher to make sure you were paid for all regular hours and any overtime work. Make sure no illegal deductions were taken from your pay. Keep all of your pay stubs if you think you were underpaid.
You must also be approved for overtime in many jobs. You are paid one and one-half of your hourly wage for overtime. Keep the name of the person who authorized your overtime. Documentation will always be necessary for solving payroll disputes.
Contact the human resources department first if applicable. Payments are often made using computer programs and honest mistakes can occur. Explain that you feel that you did not receive complete payment for your work. This includes time spent commuting to a work site, putting on a uniform at work, loading or unloading supplies, and other activities that are required on the job. Fill out any forms that HR may have regarding payroll disputes.
Talk to your boss or team manager if you feel that you are not compensated for all the time you worked and other benefits that include commissions and expense reimbursements. Explain why you feel that you were not fully compensated. Your manager is often the first person you contact regarding a pay dispute.
Consult other employees who may also feel that they are not compensated properly. This may be a common situation with your employer.
Filing a Claim
If you cannot get the pay you feel you deserve, you can file a Wage Claim with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, a division of the state’s Department of Industrial Relations. Forms are available in English, Spanish and other languages.
You must have documentation and agree to a hearing and/or settlement conference if necessary. California’s laws protect all workers regardless of immigration status. This is important since some employers take advantage of undocumented workers who don’t speak English well and are afraid to complain.
Hire a Legal Firm
Wage and exempt salary employees may need legal services if they have worked for unethical employers. The state’s labor laws do not always protect independent contractors and some commissioned sales people who can be helped by attorneys.
Groups of employees who feel they are underpaid and not receiving their benefits often file class action lawsuits with legal representation. Many class-action lawsuits have been filed against major corporations who have taken advantage of employees.
Aiman-Smith & Marcy specializes in employment law and class action lawsuits along with consumer fraud. We represent clients that are the victims of unethical business practices. Contact us for more information on recovering funds owed to you by your current or former employer.