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.
Your settlement conference
- File your wage claim
- Required documentation
- Your settlement conference
- Wage claim hearing
- After the hearing
In most cases, the next step in the wage claim process is a settlement conference. You and your employer will be notified by mail of the conference date and time.
- If you fail to attend the conference, your claim will be dismissed, unless you can show good cause for your absence.
- If your employer fails to attend the conference, your claim will likely go to a hearing.
During this conference, a deputy labor commissioner will work with you and your employer to reach a settlement agreement to resolve the wage claim. You have the right to speak with the deputy labor commissioner in private at any point during the settlement conference.
Be sure to update the deputy labor commissioner of any change to your address or phone number. This must be done in writing. Include your full name and claim number in the update.
A settlement is an official agreement to resolve the wage claim. The employer agrees to pay a certain amount and you agree to resolve the claim. Your employer may offer to settle with you at any point within the wage claim process.
Please note: the Labor Commissioner’s office will only enforce settlements signed on forms provided by our office.
Accepting or rejecting a settlement offer is an important decision. Consider the following points before you make your decision:
- Why accept a settlement offer?
The benefit to accepting a settlement offer is that the claim is resolved quickly and your employer agrees to pay you the amount agreed upon. If you do not settle your claim, there is a possibility that your employer could file for bankruptcy or close before you receive any payments.
- Why reject a settlement offer?
You may be offered less than the wages and penalties owed. If you receive a settlement offer that you believe is too low, you can try to negotiate for a more acceptable settlement amount.
- What happens when there is no settlement?
If no settlement agreement is reached, your claim will be scheduled for a hearing.
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