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4 steps to completing a wage claim in California

If you've been questioning whether your employer is paying you appropriately, you need to look into your options. Wage claims are a way for you to file a claim about missing or stolen wages, so that you can obtain the right amount of payment from your employer. To make a claim, California law requires you to file a complaint through the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, also known as the DLSE.

Before you can do this, you'll need to collect some evidence. There is a process you need to complete to show that you are entitled to the payment you're seeking. Here are a few things to do.

Making your wage claim

1. Gather your documentation

The first thing you should do is start collecting documentation for your claim. Get your contract, pay stub, a printout of the hours worked and other information that shows how often you work and the pay you receive. If there is a discrepancy, you should highlight this for your attorney and the court. Some documents to include are:

  • Dishonored paychecks
  • Documents describing payments for employees
  • Pay stubs
  • Time records (from the employer and your own)

2. Begin your claim

Now, you can begin the claim. Your attorney will take any documentation you have and help you file a claim through the local DLSE office. The form needs to be filed in the correct office location. If you do not, the claim may take longer to process.

3. Await the screening

After you file a wage claim, the DLSE begins to investigate. The Labor Commissioner looks into your case to see if it has merit. If so, then a formal complaint is filed. If not, you may need to provide further evidence of your wage concerns.

4. Wait for the Deputy Labor Commissioner's determination

Once the Deputy Labor Commissioner is done investigating, he or she will either refer the parties to a conference, hearing or dismiss the claim. It's also possible to informally resolve the case without having to go through any of the above.

A conference is less formal than a hearing, and it involves the parties, their attorneys and the deputy. If this does not resolve the case, then it moves onto a hearing, where a judge or hearing officer has the right to make a decision on the wage case.

These are the steps you should know about in your wage claim. If you have a dispute, this is a good way to resolve it.

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