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How Much Is an Unpaid Wages Claim Worth in California?

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Back Pay and More

Employees often file claims against their employers as a way of recouping withheld and improperly calculated wages. While many workers are able to recover their back pay, they may not realize that California labor laws entitle them to receive much more—especially if employers have not been following proper wage and hour practices.


California Employers May Be Liable for Unpaid Wage Penalties

Employers have a duty to provide fair, timely, and accurate payments to employees, and they also have a duty to report wages and hours worked on an employee’s pay stubs. Under California law, workers can collect penalties from employers in addition to the actual wages they are owed, including:

Not getting paid for all time worked:

Time and again when we get your pay records (we get an authoization from you to get your pay records from the company - which they have to provide within 30 days); we find the company has not paid for all hours worked. It can be 10 minutes here, 30 minutes there. But what you are going to find is it all really adds up.  This is partly tied to my testimony last year before the California State Senate. I was the only class action lawyer asked to testify at the California State Senate hearing for that new Labor Code Section.

Meal period penalties:

Your are owed one hour of pay for each day that the company denied you a meal break during work hours. This is where the California Supreme Court case - Brinker v. Superior Court comes in.  The 2012 Supreme Court case is a  HUGE case for California workers. We use it all the time to win cases.  Thing is, very few companies know the in't and out's of the case and the company's violate the Brinker case all the time. I know the Brinker Supreme Court case real well - I represented the workers in the Brinker case.

Rest break penalties:

 You may collect one hour of pay for each day that you were denied at least one rest break on your shift. This is also tied to the Brinker Supreme Court case. A GREAT case for California workers. Some say the biggest case for California workers in the last 10 years.

Minimum wage penalties:

If your employer failed to pay you the state minimum wage, you can receive a lump sum payment of liquidated damages in the amount of your unpaid wages. (Read: get twice the amount owed.

Reporting penalties:

If an employer did not provide required information on your paystub, you will be owed $50 for the first reporting violation and $100 for additional violations up to a maximum of $4,000.

Waiting time penalties:

When you leave employment, your employer is required to pay you your final wages within a certain amount of time. For each day that your wages are withheld, you can collect a full day’s pay (for up to 30 days). This can be $7,000 - $8,000 ticket itme for many workers.

Sick pay penalties:

If your employer does not provide you with paid sick leave, you are eligible to collect either three times the value of the withheld sick leave or $250, whichever is greater. If failure to provide paid sick leave caused financial losses, you could receive an additional $50 per day, up to a total of $4,000.


The best way to calculate how much your unpaid wage claim is worth is to speak to a California wage and hour attorney. If you win your claim, you may also be able to ask the court to make your employer pay your attorneys’ fees in addition to your damages. For more information on how much you could be owed, please browse through our wage and hour library articles.


It All Really Adds Up Fast

Don't think we are talking chump change here.  All of can really, really add up. And fast.  Make sure you have a really good, honest California wage lawyer do a wage audit for you.  You would be surprised how often workers have no idea that the company is ripping them off!

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.

William Turley
“When I seek out professional advice, I don’t want B.S., I want it straight up. I figure you do also.”
I just would like to give a huge thumbs up for the great info you have here on this post. I got great some useful information..
Posted by donpotterlaw on March 14, 2018 at 06:22 AM

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