I work in California and my paycheck is late - what to do....
(This unpaid wages post was updated - October 22, 2018)
What Can I Do if the Company Doesn't Pay Me on Time?
California labor laws require most workers to be paid at least twice per month. California law also dictates that you should be paid on time and be paid the full amount that you are owed each payday. But what happens if your employer makes you wait for your paycheck? What can you do about that?
Turns out, there is a lot that can be done. California has some of the strongest worker protection laws in the United States. How do I know this? I helped make these laws. I represented the workers in what many people believe is the biggest and most important wage protection case by the California Supreme Court - Brinker vs. Superior Court - and I wrote winning briefs in other recent California Supreme Court decisions - Augustus vs. ABM and Williams vs. Superior Court. I helped draft recent changes to the California Labor Code that help protect your wages. I regularly testify before the California State Senate and California Assembly on unpaid wages legislation.
I'm not telling you this to brag, but so you'll know two things. First, that I an authority on this area of the law and that I know what I'm talking about. Second, so you'll know that my heart is with you - workers that haven't been paid what you are owed.
The reason why California law protects you is that the Courts know what it's like to not be paid on time. The California Supreme Court realizes how tough it is when you can't make your rent or put food table because you weren't paid what you're owed on time. When this happens, the law helps you get tough on the company that didn't pay you. That's when California's strong worker protection laws come in. And, that's where I come in - I help folks get paid the money they are owed.
California Workers Can Collect Penalties for Late Paychecks
Under most circumstances, you may be entitled to penalties if you're paid late.
If your employer does not have a valid reason for withholding your pay, the company may be liable for a penalty of $100 for the first violation and an additional $200 penalty for each subsequent violation under Labor Code section 210. The employer may also be ordered to pay an additional 25% of the amount that has been withheld from you based on the circumstances. Even if the employee and employer disagree about the amount of wages that are owed, the employer must pay the full amount of undisputed wages on time to avoid penalties.
Unlike regular pay, there is a grace period for the payment of overtime wages. If your overtime hours are not included in the paycheck for the period in which they were earned, they must be paid no later than the next regular paycheck.
The penalties for failing to pay an employee his or her final paycheck are much steeper than those of regular paychecks. Also called waiting time penalties, these could amount to 30 full days of pay if the check is late. As a result, most companies issue a final paycheck to workers on their last day of employment or within three days of the employee’s final shift.
Employers may have valid defenses in some cases where pay is late. For instance, if the employee failed to provide the employer with a correct address, the late payment is not the fault of the employer. There are also exceptions for employees who earn executive salaries or work on commission. For all other employees, the rules and penalties for late paychecks are as follows:
Some Quick Examples:
Paycheck is late
Marisa works in a warehouse. She was supposed to be paid last Friday. Her paycheck is 5 days late.
California State law established detailed requirements concerning the payment of wages - including the time, place and manner of paying you your wages. Wages earned by California employees must be paid precisely in accordance with the California Labor Code provisions. This is a violation of California Labor Code Section 204 - which requires that minimum wages and overtime compensation be paid promptly on your regular payday.
As the California Supreme Court stated in Kerr's Catering Service v. Department of Industrial Relations, “California courts have recognized the public policy in favor of full and prompt payment of wages due an employee.”
When you're not paid your wages on time, you can't pay your bills. The pressure can be unbearable.
The California Supreme court gets it - they upheld the penalty wage law by stating "Delay of payment or loss of wages results in deprivation of the necessities of life, suffering inability to meet just obligations to others..."
In addition, this is also a PAGA violation. You may recover $100 per employee for the initial violation and $200 per employee for all subsequent violations (please see below for more on PAGA violations).
Not paid final wages on time
Chuck works for a rental car company. The company illegally calculated and paid the overtime rate on the bonuses and incentives to Chuck and the other workers. Including the bonuses and incentives, Chuck averaged making $840 a week and he worked 5 days a week.
Chuck stopped working for the company. It is six months later and the company still hasn't paid Chuck.
Based on these facts, the company owed Chuck to the unpaid overtime on the bonuses and incentives. In addition, the rental car company owes Chuck for 30 days of waiting time penalties. Which is 30 days of wages.
$840 divided by 5 days = $168
$169 x 30 days = $5,040
Thus, the rental car company owes Chuck $5,040 in waiting time penalties.
This is just one example, you are also entitled to waiting time penalties if you don't receive legally compliant meal breaks, work off the clock or don't get paid overtime correctly.
No guarantees in life or law
You need to understand there are no guarantees in life or law. Every case is different. Past successes in cases don’t guarantee success in your case and/or future cases. As always you should consult with a seasoned honest wage theft lawyer. Nothing in this Newsletter should be construed as legal advice.
Private Attorneys General Act Violations
Under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) your employer may also be liable for very substantial PAGA penalties for failing to pay you your wages on time. Under PAGA for an initial violation is $100 per employee per pay period, and the penalty for each subsequent violation is $200 per employee per pay period. The penalty is awarded against the employer.
A PAGA lawsuit is similar to a class action lawsuit because it is a collective action for all employees
California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) allow California employees to act as a private attorney general in order to represent the State of California against the company in order to enforce California Labor laws. The PAGA laws are extremely important, today, to protect California workers.
PAGA actions are designed to protect employees and penalize employers for illegal conduct
A PAGA lawsuit is an enforcement action, with the aggrieved employee acting as a Private Attorney General to collect penalties from employers who violate California unpaid wage laws. A PAGA action is a law enforcement action designed to protect the public and penalize employers for past illegal conduct. PAGA penalties are discretionary.
The PAGA penalties that you are owed for your employer failing to pay you can add up fast
For the PAGA enforcement penalties that are recovered, 75% goes to the State of California and 25% go to you, “aggrieved employees.”
Under PAGA for an initial violation is $100 per employee per pay period, and the penalty for each subsequent violation is $200 per employee per pay period. The penalty is awarded against the employer.
Thus, for each initial violation, you may be entitled to $25 for each violation per pay period and $50 for each subsequent violation per pay period.
Who is Bill Turley?
Bill Turley helped write then new PAGA laws
It is important that you make sure the lawyer that you hire is an expert in the area of law that you hire them for. I helped write the new PAGA laws. Bill is the lawyer that is regularly asked to testify before the California State Assembly and California State Senate on unpaid wages legislation.
Bill Turley was the workers lawyer in the most important California Supreme Court case - Brinker vs. Superior Court
Many lawyers say that the Brinker California Supreme Court case is the most important California Supreme Court for California unpaid wages law. In the Brinker case the California Supreme Court. The Brinker case is the historic case that gave workers like you powerful rights to meal breaks and rest breaks in California.
Bill also wrote the winning supreme cout briefs in the Augustus vs. ABM California Supreme Court case (extending the same duties employers have to provide meal breaks to rest breaks) and the Williams vs. Superior Court California Supreme Court case (allowing employees the right to obtain the contact information for other employees in PAGA and unpaid wages class action cases).
Bill Turley testifying on wage theft at the California legislature
Bill Turley is known for Being a Straight Shooter
This is why Bill Turley is continually asked to go to Sacramento in order to work on wage theft issues with the California State Assembly, California State Senate, the State of California Labor Commissioner’s Office, and the California Attorney General’s office. Bill is known for telling it like it is. They know he will tell it the way it is.
Bill doesn't work for any of these government organizations. He only works for you. But all of these government organization turn to Bill when they need advice on unpaid wages law.
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