Go to navigation Go to content
Toll-Free: 866-705-4617
Phone: 619-234-2833
The Turley & Mara Law Firm, APLC

How Long Do I Have to File a Wage and Hour Dispute in California?

“I’ll tell you what the public likes more then anything. It’s the rarest commodity in the world-honesty.” -Merle Haggard                              

What are the time limits to file a wage claim in California?

I don't have to tell you that having your wages stolen is a bummer.  In this article I tell you how much time you have to file a claim in order to recover your stolen wages.  Although there are time limits (the law calls "statute of limitations" you should generally not wait to start investigating and pursing your stolen wages claim.

If you are having a dispute with your employer about your pay, there are both state and federal laws that will protect your rights. You can sue your employer or company if you have not been paid for all of your hours, have been paid less than minimum wage, if you haven't been provided legally compliant meal breaks and rest breaks,  you have not been paid the correct amount of overtime, and/or you haven't been paid timely wages at time of termination.  While these laws prevent employers from taking advantage of workers, there is only a limited amount of time (known as the statute of limitations) to recover your unpaid wages.

Time limits based upon California State law or Federal law

Depending on the specifics of your case, you are eligible to file a California wage claim within the following time frames:

  • 2 Years (Federal Law). A federal law called the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) allows workers to file claims against employers up to two years from the date that the wage violation occurred. If you are still working for the employer, the FLSA allows you to recover unpaid wages for the two years prior to filing your claim. These claims are filed through the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division, and if successful, can prevent an employee from having to go to court. If the claim cannot be resolved through the DOL, you can file a lawsuit to seek compensation.
  • 3 Years(Federal Law). The DOL will extend the statute of limitations for wage claims for an additional year if your employer willfully violated the terms of the FLSA. Willful violations are cases where an employer intended to deprive an employee of fair wages, had a history of wage theft, or knowingly disregarded the protections of the FLSA.
  • 3 Years (California State Law). Employees in California have even more protection than that offered under U.S. law. California workers have three years from the date of a violation to file a wage claim and can collect overtime pay for work performed up to three years before the claim was filed.
  • 4 Years (State Law). California extends the statute of limitations up to four years if workers file wage and hour lawsuits in court. This is based upon what are called 17200 claims or unfair competition law claims.
  • 1 YEAR (State Law) Private Attorney General Act (Called "PAGA" claims) have a one year statute of limitations. This can be a little tricky because you also have to file a PAGA Notice with the State of California LWDA and also serve a copy on the employer. You have to wait 65 days from the date that you file the PAGA notice with the State before you file a PAGA lawsuit.

An Attorney Can Help You Determine How Much You Are Owed

It is always best to speak to an honest wage and hour attorney before pursuing a claim against your employer. Not only can an attorney calculate your losses (including interest and other wage violation penalties), he or she can also give you a legal perspective on your case and advise you of all of your options.


When it comes to your rights as a California worker, nothing is more important in your Wage and Hour Class Action lawsuit then telling the truth. If you are not honest with the judge, then your case will be dismissed.

Count on it. I have seen it many times in court.

The best thing you can do for your case is always tell the truth. Always.


Also, do your research. Order my free book, California Truck and Delivery Driver Wage Theft: The Ultimate Straight Talk Guide To Getting Your Hard Earned Wages Back.

It is full of helpful and useful information. Don't just take my word for it, check out the 5 Star Amazon Reviews before you do.


Disclaimer: Please understand these discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. This testimonial, endorsement and/or discussion does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, your particular case/ situation and/or this particular case/ situation. Thanks, Bill Turley

William Turley
“When I seek out professional advice, I don’t want B.S., I want it straight up. I figure you do also.”

Live Chat