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The California Labor Board
Why It may Not Be Your Best Option

The California Labor Board assists wage claimants through the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). Prior to contacting the California Labor Board it is important to understand what they may or may not be able to do to assist you.

Here are some things that the California Labor Board will not do to recover overtime wages:

1) Pursuit of Defendants: The Labor Board will only pursue the company and not the individuals who may have impacted the Company's decision to misclassify you as exempt or not entitled to overtime pay. This is a problem. Our law firm attempts to bring in, as Defendants, those directly responsible for having control over your wages. We have found this to be a proper and effective strategy to collecting back overtime pay for our clients in many cases. The California definition of “employer” is broad in that it allows an employee to pursue those that have control over their wages, for overtime and other related wage claims. If the company is small in size or having financial problems, establishing individual liability can be critical to the success of your case.

2) Pursuit of a Four Year Claim Instead of Three: The California Labor Board will only seek to enforce overtime wages for 3 years back from the filing of your claim. A private attorney on the other hand, may be able to pursue your wages going back 4 years from the filing of your claim under the California unfair competition statute. This could be significant if you worked for a company 4 or more years prior to making your claim.

3) Recovery of Attorney Fees: The California Labor Board, regardless of you consulting with an attorney prior to filing your claim, will not award attorney fees to you. On the other hand, a private attorney may pursue your claim and under the California Labor Code, require your Employer to pay the attorney fees upon winning your claim. The reverse is not true, if your case is lost, your Employer cannot require you to pay his attorney fees. The cost of litigating a case can be expensive for an Employer if he realizes he will not only be paying his attorney, but potentially pay your claim and your attorney as well.

4) Recovery of Penalties: The Private Attorney General's Act: Under the California unfair competition law, you may be entitled to recovery of penalties. Of penalties recovered, 75% go to the State of California and 25% are retained by the Employee. The California Labor Board will not pursue such penalties.

5) Appeals at the Labor Board: Even if you win your labor board case, your Employer is likely to appeal. If they do, you will be facing a trial de novo (new trial) in Superior Court and will need to engage legal counsel to represent you. If you happen to lose your case and wish to appeal, a major disadvantage merits your serious consideration - you may be required to pay your Employer's legal fees which could be substantial.

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