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.
Wage claim hearing
- File your wage claim
- Required documentation
- Your settlement conference
- Wage claim hearing
- After the hearing
If your claim is not settled at the conference, a hearing will be scheduled with a hearing officer from the Labor Commissioner’s Office. You will receive a notification with the hearing date and time.
- If you do not attend the hearing, your case will be dismissed.
- If your employer does not attend the hearing, the hearing officer will decide the matter on the evidence and testimony you present.
The wage claim hearing is conducted in an informal setting and is legally binding. You and your employer will testify under oath before a hearing officer and will submit evidence. All hearings are recorded.
How to prepare for the hearing
Only testimony and evidence presented during the hearing will be considered by the hearing officer, so preparation is essential:
- Review your claim information and evidence, such as the hours you worked and how much you were paid. Prepare notes and a timeline of events that you can discuss during the hearing.
- Normally you will want to bring three sets of copies of any documents you plan to submit as evidence to support your claim. However, you will definitely want one copy for you, one copy for the Hearing Officer, and one copy for each named defendant.
- Bring witnesses with you if they can testify to support your claim. You may request the issuance of a personal subpoena to compel witness attendance.
- You have the right to question your employer and any of their witnesses.
Details on wage claim policies and procedures are online.
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