If your employer is engaging in unfair labor practices, there are generally two alternatives available to you: hire an attorney or file a claim with your county’s labor board office.
Each county in California has a Labor Board that ensures that all workers are treated fairly under federal and state law, and investigates claims related to unpaid wages, meal & rest period violations, and other labor violations. However, there are many things to consider prior to contacting your county’s Labor Board:
- If you file a labor board claim, you may not be able to require your employer to provide the evidence you need to prove the violation occurred. Even if you win, your employer may appeal the decision to a trial court, in which case you would have to essentially win your case twice before you would be entitled to any recovery.
- The statute of limitations for labor board cases is only 3 years, whereas an attorney can often extend many claims to 4 years. This can allow you to recover one additional year’s worth of unpaid wages & overtime.
- Labor board claims are not eligible for civil penalties under California law. Only filing a lawsuit can allow aggrieved employees to recover civil penalties on behalf of themselves, as well as other similarly situated employees with the company, pursuant to California’s Private Attorney General Act.
- Each Labor Board has experienced severe budget cuts in recent years, which means that there are now fewer labor board employees working on many more cases at a time. The impact of these budget cuts cause claims to be processed much slower, and claimants may even have difficulty speaking to a labor board employee regarding their claim.
For these reasons, it is often in your best interest to hire an attorney to represent you in your labor board claim. You may need an experienced attorney to ensure that you can maximize your claim. When hiring an attorney to pursue a claim, you can be sure that your attorney is pursuing the case aggressively and will provide status updates at any time requested.