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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.

Happy clients with their settlement checks from a California unpaid wages case.
It feels really good when you get your check for unpaid wages owed to you!​

The California Labor CodeCalifornia Wage Orders and/or California's PAGA laws are very powerful. You may be entitled to A LOT of money in unpaid wages and/or penalties.... 

In this article, I answer these questions and/or address the following issues regarding unpaid wages:

California Employers May Be Liable for Unpaid Wage Penalties

Not getting paid for all time worked:

Meal period penalties

Rest break penalties

Minimum wage penalties

Reporting penalties

Waiting time penalties

Sick pay penalties

It All Really Adds Up Fast

Making the Law: Bill Turley Help draft the recent changes to PAGA laws

The go-to lawyer on PAGA

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 authorization 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 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:

You 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's and out's of the case and the companies 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 time 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 this 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!

Making the Law: Bill Turley Help draft the recent changes to PAGA laws

Bill Turley testifying before the California Senate regarding California wage laws

The Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) is a law that allows for a case where aggrieved employees are, in effect, deputized to recover civil penalties on behalf of themselves, other employees, and the State of California for Labor Code violations. The PAGA laws were enacted because the State of California has inadequate resources to enforce California wage laws. 

Bill helped draft recent changes to the PAGA laws. Bill was the wage and hour lawyer that sat and met with the Governor’s office to help write the new PAGA amendments. 

The go-to lawyer on PAGA 

Recently when proposed Initiatives were filed that would have effectively ended PAGA in California, Bill was one of the lawyers that met with the California Secretary of State on the potential fiscal impact of the PAGA Initiatives. Bill also met with the California Attorney General’s office on the proposed Ballot language for the PAGA Initiatives. Due in part to Bill’s efforts, the PAGA initiatives were withdrawn.

We are not suggesting that Bill works for the California Secretary of State or the California Attorney General. But the fact that Bill was one of the few lawyers that was chosen to meet with them regarding the PAGA Initiatives is telling.  

It’s our take that Bill was chosen to meet with them because Bill is seen as one of the leading attorneys in California that handles PAGA actions and Bill is known for being a straight-shooter.

Have Questions?

Call us at 619-304-1000  - If you call after regular business hours, when you leave a message, be sure to repeat your name and telephone number twice, so we get it correctly. And be sure to indicate whether it's okay if we respond by text.

Text us at 858-281-8008 - Be sure and put "new wage case" in your text. 

 Or leave us a message on this web page

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
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“When I seek out professional advice, I don’t want B.S., I want it straight up. I figure you do also.”
I was a live in caregiver for 5 years for someone who was an acquaintance of 18 years. In August 2018 my client passed away.. I started to receive wages after 3 years. During that time I received 3 raises with my final wage bieng $ 200.00 Per week. When I complained about the low wages my client told me not to worry because I would be "taken care of in his will". Unfortunately he died without a will. I obtained an Estate Attorney. On contingency and filed a creditors claim against the estate. I hadn't heard much from this Attorney and have doubts about being successful based on the declaration he filed. Am I able to file a claim with the Dept of Labor for back wages and overtime? Would you be willing to assist me ? Thank You
Posted by Kristin Ekberg on April 5, 2019 at 01:05 PM
I worked at this trucking company in woodland,ca. As a mechanic They owner miscoalify me as as a privite contractor he said he was going to pay me 700. Per 5 day week. I ended up working 6 days per week for two years straight then i notice he was doing this because he didnt wanted to pay over time. So i confront him and ask him why was he doing that if i dont even have a contractor license. So i filed a wage claim i have enough proof that showed that i work on weekends. Now im waiting for the last meeting. First meeting i had with the labor commissioners we added all the saturdays i worked there it came up to 18000 dollars in overtime he never paid me. he is trying to say that he rotated his workers but he is lieing. If u think i can use some help please contact me. at 5307611133 or 5306662371
Posted by Javier alcantar on March 14, 2019 at 11:34 AM
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Posted by donpotterlaw on March 14, 2018 at 06:22 AM

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