One of the issues that arise when your employer doesn't pay you the wages you are owed is whether or not the non-payment of wages was in "good-faith." Make no mistake about it - this "good-faith dispute doesn't keep you from being paid the wages you are owed under the law. You are still entitled to your wages.
However, if the employer can prove that not paying you certain wages was based upon a "good-faith" defense - then you may not be entitled to these wages? Specifically we are talking about waiting time penalties and liquidated damages. I explain what these are in this article and how it may affect the wages that you may be owed.
When Can an Employer Claim a Good Faith Dispute?
The good news is that, even by making a good-faith defense, the employer agrees that the employee’s claim is valid. However, the defense allows an employer to state the reason why the wages were not paid on time—and if the reason is valid, the employer can get out of paying some or all of the waiting time penalties.
Depending on which good faith dispute is made, an employer may be able to escape liability for:
Waiting Time Penalties:
When your employer pays you late when you terminate your employment - you are entitled to waiting time penalties. Here is a great article on California waiting time penalties.
By law, employers are required to pay all outstanding wages owed to a worker within 72 hours of the employee’s last shift. If you give notice that you are quitting or you are fired, then your employer must pay all of your wages on your last day.
If this is not done, the employee can collect waiting time, which is an additional day of pay at the employee’s regular rate for each day the worker is kept waiting for his or her final wages.
A “good faith” dispute removes an employer’s liability to pay waiting time penalties to an employee.
However, the worker is not eligible for waiting time penalties in California if the employer shows that there was a good reason the wages were not paid.
Let's look a little closer.
When the law is uncertain, than the employer may have a good faith dispute.
If your employer fails to pay you at least minimum wages for all hours that you work, then you are entitled to liquidated damages.
Under some circumstances, an employer can admit that the company owes you back pay while also reducing the number of liquidated damages you are owed. Liquidated damages are an additional amount equal to the amount of back pay owed, and are intended to punish the employer for wrongdoing. If the employer had reason to believe that he or she was doing the right thing—for example, listening to the advice of a lawyer who gave misinformation—then the company may not be liable for liquidated damages.
But know this, the company has the burden of proving that not paying you wages for all time you worked was in "good-faith." While this is possible, in the real world, it's very difficult.
Bill Turley regularly is invited to testify before the California State Senate and California Assembly
What is an unpaid wages analysis?
The best way for California workers to find out how much unpaid wages you're owed is by getting a confidential, no-obligation, free unpaid wages analysis. For more information on how you can claim your free unpaid wages analysis check this out.
What you are going to find is that whenever you suspect that you aren't getting paid all the wages that you are owed under California wage laws, then you are probably owed a lot more wages and/or penalties than you realize. I suggest that you don't leave your hard earned money in the company's wallet. These are your wages and you need to take action to recover the hard earned wages that you are owed.
San Diego Attorney Journal called Bill Turley - California's Leading Wage and Hour Class Action Lawyer