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What can I do if my employer paid me less than I’m owed?

On Behalf of | May 12, 2023 | Wage & Hour Laws

What happens if your employer did not pay you for all the hours you clocked in? Or what if they paid you less than your agreed-upon salary? Maybe they took away the tips you earned or paid you less than minimum wage with no tip credit.

In any of these situations, your employer might have committed wage theft. Wage theft impacts many workers in Los Angeles. It is especially harmful to those living paycheck-to-paycheck who rely on their regular wages to make ends meet.

What is wage theft?

Wage theft involves employers taking away or refusing to pay wages lawfully earned by an employee. Being paid less than minimum wage, taking your tips, refusing to pay legally earned overtime and not compensating for paid time off are all examples of wage theft.

However, wage theft can take subtler forms. If your employer does not allow you to take legally required meal and rest breaks, this is wage theft. If your employer does not let you take paid time off you have earned, this is wage theft. And if your employer bounces a paycheck, this is wage theft even if you are eventually paid.

What can I do if I’m a victim of wage theft?

If you believe your employer has been stealing your wages, there is a way to address the problem through California labor law.

First, you can file a claim with the Labor Commissioner’s Office. The office will perform an investigation to determine what you are owed if anything.

Following that, a settlement conference will be held. You and your employer will sit down and try to resolve the alleged wage theft.

If a settlement cannot be reached, there will be a legally binding wage claim hearing overseen by a hearing officer. The hearing officer will consider any evidence and testimony submitted and issue a decision. You may appeal the decision if you disagree with it.

You should not have to settle for being paid less than what you are legally owed or promised. Employers sometimes try to cut costs or increase their earnings through wage theft. If you believe you were the victim of wage theft, you might file a claim with the state and pursue a hearing if necessary.