Unpaid wages can be a significant concern for employees in Santa Monica and across the United States. Whether you're a low-wage worker struggling to make ends meet or a professional in a high-paying job, everyone deserves to be paid fairly for their hard work. Unfortunately, wage disputes are not uncommon, and they can have a profound impact on an individual's financial stability as well as his or her emotional well-being.
Santa Monica, which is situated along the Santa Monica Bay on California's south Coast, is a popular resort town. It attracts tourists because of good weather year-round, beautiful beaches and boutique hotels. Santa Monica is also home to the headquarters of large companies and employers from Hulu and Lionsgate Films to the Universal Music Group and Santa Monica College.
If your employer owes you unpaid wages, it is important that you contact the experienced Santa Monica wage and hour attorneys at Kingsley & Kingsley Lawyers who will fight to help you get the compensation you rightfully deserve.
Do You Have an Unpaid Wage Claim?
An unpaid wage claim is a legal action taken by an employee to recover wages they believe they are owed but have not been paid by their employer. These claims are typically filed when there is a dispute over compensation, and the employee alleges that their employer has violated wage and labor laws. Unpaid wage claims can encompass various issues, such as unpaid overtime, minimum wage violations, misclassification of employees as independent contractors, unreceived commissions or bonuses, off-the-clock work, and more.
If you believe that you are owed unpaid wages, it is important that you begin to gather evidence to support your case. Such evidence may include pay stubs, time records, employment contracts, or other relevant documents. It would also be in your best interest to consult with an attorney who specializes in wage and labor law to assess the validity of your claim and who can guide you through the legal process.
The goal of an unpaid wage claim is to ensure that employees are fairly compensated for their work and that employers adhere to labor laws. Depending on the circumstances, the resolution of these claims can involve negotiation, mediation, or even litigation to recover the unpaid wages and any associated damages or penalties owed to the employee. Unpaid wage claims serve as a crucial mechanism for workers to protect their rights and seek redress when they believe they have been unfairly treated by their employers with regard to compensation.
What Are the Most Common Wage and Hour Violations?
Misclassification: Some employers misclassify employees as independent contractors to avoid providing benefits and paying overtime. If you believe you've been misclassified, it's crucial to pursue an unpaid wage claim.
Unpaid wages: If you're owed commissions or bonuses as part of your compensation package, and your employer refuses to pay them, you may have a legitimate claim for unpaid wages.
Unpaid overtime: If you've worked more than 40 hours in a workweek without receiving proper overtime pay, you may have a valid wage and hour claim. Federal and state laws mandate that eligible employees receive time-and-a-half for overtime hours. In California, you are entitled to 1.5 times your hourly rate of pay if you worked more eight hours a workday or over 40 hours a workweek.
Paid sick leave violations: Paid sick leave violations in California occur when employers fail to provide eligible employees with the required amount of paid sick leave, deny sick leave requests, or retaliate against employees for using their accrued sick leave. Under California law you can seek paid sick leave to recover from physical or mental illnesses or injuries; to get a medical diagnosis, treatment or preventive care; and to care for a family member who is ill or needs medical diagnosis, treatment or care.
Failure to provide meal and rest breaks: In California, meal and rest break laws are designed to ensure that employees receive adequate breaks during their workday. For shifts lasting more than 5 hours, California employees are entitled to a 30-minute unpaid meal break. For shifts lasting more than 10 hours, employees are entitled to a second 30-minute unpaid meal break. Employees are entitled to a 10-minute paid rest break for every 4 hours worked or major fraction thereof. Employees should not be required to perform work-related tasks during their breaks. Employers who violate these laws may owe employees one hour of pay for each missed break.
How Much Time Do You Have to File a Claim for Unpaid Wages in Santa Monica?
In California, the statute of limitations for filing a claim for unpaid wages can vary depending on the specific circumstances and the type of wage violation. Generally, there are different time limits for various wage-related claims:
Unpaid Minimum Wage or Overtime Claims: Employees have up to three years from the date the wages were due to file a claim for unpaid minimum wages or overtime in California. This three-year limit is in accordance with the California Labor Code, and it allows employees to seek compensation for unpaid wages dating back three years.
Meal and Rest Break Violations: Claims related to meal and rest break violations are typically subject to a one-year statute of limitations. This means that employees have up to one year from the date of the alleged violation to file a claim.
Unpaid Commission or Bonus Claims: For unpaid commissions or bonuses, the statute of limitations may vary depending on the specifics of the compensation agreement. Generally, employees have up to four years to file a claim, but it's essential to review the terms of the agreement to determine the exact deadline.
Misclassification Claims: If you believe you have been misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee, the statute of limitations is generally three years from the date of the alleged misclassification.
It's crucial to note that these time limits can be complex, and there may be exceptions or nuances in certain cases. Additionally, the specific circumstances of your employment and the nature of the wage violation can impact the deadline for filing a claim.
To ensure you meet the applicable statute of limitations and protect your rights, it's advisable to consult with an experienced employment attorney in Santa Monica as soon as you suspect wage violations. They can provide guidance, evaluate your case, and help you take the necessary legal actions within the prescribed timeframes. Failure to file within the statute of limitations may result in the loss of your ability to pursue unpaid wage claims.
How Do You File for Unpaid Wages?
Filing a claim for unpaid wages in California involves a series of steps to protect your rights as an employee:
Evidence collection: Start by gathering evidence of your unpaid wages, including pay stubs, timesheets, employment contracts, and any communication with your employer regarding your wages. This documentation can be crucial in supporting your claim.
Complaint: If your employer does not address the issue or disputes your claim, you can file a complaint with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). You can do this online, by mail, or in person at your local DLSE office. When filing your complaint, be sure to include as much detail as possible, such as your employment history, the amount of unpaid wages, and any supporting evidence.
The process: After filing, the DLSE will investigate your claim. This process may take several months. Depending on the investigation's outcome, the DLSE may offer mediation to resolve the dispute. If mediation fails, your case may proceed to a hearing before a hearing officer. If the hearing officer rules in your favor, your employer will be ordered to pay the unpaid wages, plus any penalties or interest owed.
Free Confidential Case Evaluation For Santa Monica Victims
It is highly advisable to consult with an experienced Santa Monica wage and hour attorney as employment laws can be complex. Remember that California has strict labor laws to protect workers' rights. You also have the right to pursue unpaid wages without fear of retaliation from your employer.
Facing wage violations can be financially challenging and can also be emotionally stressful. At Kingsley & Kingsley Lawyers, we are committed to protecting your rights and help you secure the wages you have rightfully earned and compensation for your losses. We offer free initial consultations and do not charge fees unless you recover your unpaid wages and compensation. Contact us today to schedule your free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.