How to File a Wage Claim in California

filing wage claims

If you’ve experienced wage theft, you can file an online wage claim with the Labor Commissioner’s Office. It’s crucial to provide as much information as possible when you file your claim. However, please note that this process is only for wage claims and should not be used for PAGA, retaliation, public works, or any other type of claim.

If your employer is being represented by a lawyer defending employers in class action wage claims, this legal expert’s goal is to protect the employer from financial liability in such cases. These lawyers are well-versed in employment law and may challenge your claim, emphasizing the importance of providing accurate and detailed information when filing your claim.

Instructions for Filing an Online Wage or Garment Claim

Workers in California have the right to file a wage claim when their employers fail to pay them the wages or benefits they are owed. Filing a wage claim initiates the process to recover these unpaid wages or benefits. Wage claims can be submitted online, by email, mail, or in person. California labor laws protect all workers, irrespective of immigration status.

File Your Wage Claim

  1. Filing Process: You can start the process online, by email, by mail, or in person.
  2. Required Documentation: Gather any documents that support your claim.
  3. Settlement Conference: The Labor Commissioner’s Office may arrange a settlement conference between the employee and employer.
  4. Wage Claim Hearing: If the issues are unresolved at the conference, a hearing will be scheduled to review the evidence.
  5. After the Hearing: The hearing officer will make a decision on the claim.

In some cases, an employer might hire an employment defense attorney to handle wage claims against them. An employment defense attorney specializes in defending employers in wage and hour claims, including class action wage claims. These attorneys are skilled in employment law and will aim to protect the employer’s interests during the wage claim process. Therefore, it’s important for you, as the claimant, to ensure you have all the necessary documentation and information to support your claim effectively.

Garment Worker Protection Act

If you’re a garment worker who has experienced wage theft, you should file your claim under the Garment Worker Protection Act. The Labor Commissioner’s Office has no jurisdiction over independent contractors. However, if you’re misclassified as an independent contractor, you can still file a wage claim. A hearing may be held to determine if you’ve been misclassified.

Timely Filing

  • One Year: For penalties related to a bounced check or failure to provide access to payroll or personnel records.
  • Two Years: For an oral promise to pay more than minimum wage.
  • Three Years: For violations related to minimum wage, overtime, unpaid breaks, sick leave, illegal deductions, or unpaid reimbursements.
  • Four Years: For a written contract.

Gather the Facts

  1. Employer Information: You’ll need the address and name of the company or individual you work for. This can often be found on paystubs or product labels.
  2. Other Responsible Parties: Supervisors or managers who violate labor rights may also be held responsible.
  3. Track All Hours: Document your start and end times, breaks, and total hours worked.
  4. Pay By Contract or Piece Rate: Ensure you earn at least minimum wage for each hour worked.
  5. Keep Pay Stubs: Retain all pay stubs, which should include vital details like wages earned, pay period dates, and employer information.

Filing a Claim

Once you’ve gathered the necessary information and documents, you can file your claim by email, mail, or in person. Download the appropriate claim form, complete it, and attach any relevant documents before submitting it to the Labor Commissioner’s Office. The claim forms and instructions are available in multiple languages.

For assistance, visit or call a Labor Commissioner’s Office near you, or use the zip code search feature to locate the nearest office.


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