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.
- File your wage claim
- Required documentation
- Your settlement conference
- Wage claim hearing
- After the hearing
You may need to provide additional information after you file your wage claim.
By law, your employer must keep accurate time and payroll records. Your employer is also responsible for giving you an itemized wage statement each time you are paid. You are not required to keep your own time records. The Labor Commissioner requests these documents if you have them available, because they can help the Labor Commissioner’s Office better understand your claim.
Submit one copy of the following documents, if you have them. Do not submit original documents (at a formal hearing, the hearing office may want to examine original records if you are contending that your employer falsified the records).
- Time records
Provide a copy of any records you kept of the hours and dates you worked that support your claim.
- Paychecks and paystubs
Provide a copy of any paychecks and paystubs you received showing the wages you were paid during your claim period.
- Bounced paychecks
If you were paid with a paycheck you could not cash because your employer has no account with the bank, or has insufficient funds, please provide a copy of any bounced check(s) or other documentation from the bank that indicates the reason why the check could not be cashed.
- Notice of employment information
Provide a copy if you received a notice from your employer after January 1, 2012 that indicates your basic employment information including your rate of pay, any overtime rate of pay, whether you were paid by the hour, shift, day, week, salary, piece, commission, or otherwise, and your regular payday.
- Collective Bargaining Agreement – If your employment was covered by a union contract, please let your deputy labor commissioner know.
Additional forms or worksheets
Depending on the nature of your claim or the kind of work that you do, the deputy labor commissioner handling your claim may ask you to complete an additional worksheet.
- If you worked irregular hours: This worksheet is needed if your work days and hours fluctuated from week to week and you are claiming unpaid wages or overtime, or meal and rest period violations. Please download, print and complete the Computation work sheet (DLSE-55). For an example on how to fill out the worksheet, please see the Sample computation work sheet.
- If you are claiming unpaid commission: This worksheet is needed if you are claiming unpaid commission. Please download, print, complete and submit the Commission Summary (DLSE–155) worksheet. For an example on how to fill out the worksheet, please see the Sample Commission Summary.
- If you are claiming unreimbursed business expenses: Please download, print, and submit the Schedule of Expenses. Please note you can use your own form for this if you like. However, your form must contain the same information as is requested in the Schedule of Expenses.
- If you are claiming unpaid vacation: This worksheet is needed if you are claiming unpaid vacation hours or pay. Please download, print, complete and submit DLSE Vacation Pay Schedule. See Sample Vacation Pay Schedule.
- If you are represented by an attorney or advocate: You may submit detailed information prepared by your attorney or advocate instead of the worksheets required above.
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