How to File a Wage Claim
Workers in California have the right to file a wage claim when their employers do not pay them the wages or benefits they are owed. A wage claim starts the process to collect on those unpaid wages or benefits. California’s labor laws protect all workers, regardless of immigration status.
After the hearing
- File your wage claim
- Required documentation
- Your settlement conference
- Wage claim hearing
- After the hearing
What happens next?
The hearing officer will make a decision 15 days after the hearing. That decision, known as an Order, Decision or Award (ODA), is filed with the Labor Commissioner’s Office and then mailed to both you and your employer.
Either side may appeal the hearing officer’s decision. The appeal must be filed within 15 days from the date on the certification of service by mail (or 20 days if the ODA was served to an address out of state). If neither side appeals within that time, the decision will become final and enforceable as a court judgment.
If the decision is appealed, the case moves to the local county Superior Court and is no longer under the jurisdiction of the Labor Commissioner’s Office.
- If you appeal, you may represent yourself or hire an attorney.
- If your employer appeals, you will receive a notice of the appeal and two forms. If you qualify as a low-income worker, you may use these forms to request free representation from one of the Labor Commissioner’s attorneys. The forms are named “Request for Attorney Representation” and “Claimant’s Financial Status”.
If the hearing officer rules in your favor and the employer does not appeal the case, the Labor Commissioner will mail the ODA to the local Superior Court and it becomes a legal judgment. This judgment enables you to collect the award amount from your employer.
How to collect your award from the Labor Commissioner’s OfficeInformation on how to collect your award is available in multiple languages.
Resources for filing a wage claim
- Videos about the Wage Claim Process
- Contact the Labor Commissioner’s Office/locations
- Minimum Wage in California
- Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) Wage Orders
- Which IWC Order? Classifications
- Information for Subpoena (DLSE 564) (Rev. 1/09)
- Exemptions from the overtime laws