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California employment law: the wage and hour claim process

Many people in California are aware of the state's wage and hour laws. Not being compensated in full for the work that you've done or doing work without being paid at all are illegal. If they happen to you, you can file a claim against your employer to receive the compensation you deserve. Before you file a claim, however, it can be helpful to know what to expect. The following steps are a brief overview of the wage and hour claim process:

  1. File a complaint with the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). You will need to fill out certain forms depending on your situation and provide as much information as possible, including paystubs and time records. The DIR's website provides detailed instructions and the forms you need.
  2. A deputy labor commissioner will review the claim and decide how to move forward. Your claim will either go to a conference, a hearing or be dismissed.
  3. If your claim goes to a conference, the parties will attempt to determine whether the claim can be resolved outside of a hearing. It is very important to show up to the conference. If you do not, your claim will likely be dismissed.
  4. At a hearing -- which can occur either right after you filed a claim or after a conference --  your claim will be reviewed in-depth. You will be able to argue your case with the help of an attorney, and your employer will have the opportunity to the same. Within 15 days after the hearing, you will receive a decision. If it is in your favor, you will also be notified of the amount of compensation you will receive.
  5. If the hearing does not go in your favor, you can appeal the decision in civil court.

Although this is a very high-level overview of the wage and hour claim process in California, hopefully it gives you an idea of what to expect. It is important to understand that the process is often very complex. You do have the right to work with a lawyer, which can help ensure you file your claim correctly and put forward the best effort possible to be successful in your claim.

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