Unpaid Wage Attorneys for Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura Counties

Helping Employees Recover Unpaid Wages

Under California law, there is a strong public policy that favors full and prompt payment of wages due to employees. The reason for this is that wages are not ordinary debts of the employer like rent, insurance, or utilities. The law gives wages special treatment because of the economic position of the average worker and, in particular, his or her dependence on wages for the necessities of life for himself or herself. Because of this dependence, it is essential to the public welfare for employees to receive their pay when it is due.

If you are in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, or Ventura Counties and have a question about when your wages are earned, due, or owing, an unpaid wage lawyer from one of our offices may be able to help. We welcome you to call  one of the experienced employment attorneys at our firm to discuss your specific situation. Our employment lawyers handle unpaid wage cases throughout Southern California. If you need an unpaid wage lawyer for a matter in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, or Ventura Counties, give us a call.

What are Some Common Wage and Hour Violations?

By law, employers are obligated to pay their employees for all time spent working. In California, this rule is strictly enforced, with the law requiring payment for time worked on the job, as per the California Supreme Court case of Troester v Starbucks Corp. (2018) 5 Cal.5th 829. Despite this legal binding precedent some employers contravene this law by devising cunning strategies to avoid paying for all hours worked.

Violations include, but are not limited to failing to pay employees for all hours worked, failing to pay employees wage in full, paying employees less than the applicable minimum wage, denying and preventing employees from taking the requisite rest and meal breaks, failing to provide accurate paystubs, failing to pay wages in full or at all upon termination, misclassifying employees as exempt to avoid paying overtime, failing to reimburse work-related expenses, withholding bonuses and tips, not paying earned overtime at the applicable overtime rate, or at all, paying overtime at an incorrect rate, and misclassifying employees as independent contractors.

Another common violation occurs when employers use computerized timekeeping systems that automatically manipulate the hours worked, thereby reducing the total payable time. Another violation still is when employers fail to compensate employees for time spent under the employer’s control, such as time spent attending mandatory meetings outside of normal hours, time spent waiting in line to clock in or clock out, time spent on assembling the tools and/or gear necessary to perform work during the shift.

California Employer’s Are Subject to Recordkeeping and Documentation Requirements

Under California wage and hour law employers must provide their employees itemized wage statements when wages are paid.  These statements must be detailed, and must show scertain informaiton like for example, the gross and net wages during the time period, the employee’s name, the last four digits of their social security number or workplace identification number, the name and address of the employer, and other pertinent details. If the employer terminates the employment, all outstanding wages should be paid immediately. If the employee resigns, all remaining wages must be paid within 72 hours.

California Wage and Hour Laws Can Be Confusing

Wage and hour laws in California can be confusing.  This confusion might stem in part from the complexities relating to employee classifications. There are often misunderstandings about who is considered exempt or non-exempt from these legal requirements.  California has many exemptions applicable to certain categories of employees but the ones that come up most often are  the following: executive exemption, administrative exemption, and professional exemption.

Adding to the complexity, employees in California are protected by both the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and California’s Labor Code. The law that provides the most benefits to the employee is the one that applies. This dual system can create confusion about which standards to follow.

Another source of confusion comes from the misclassification of employees as independent contractors. Employers sometimes incorrectly classify workers as independent contractors to circumvent wage-and-hour laws, and family and medical leave laws. A lot of folks run into trouble by failing to recognize the distinction between independent contractors and employees.  Many people incorrectly believe that they can turn any working relationship into an independent contractor relationship simply by calling it that.

The issue of employee classification is further complicated by the intersection of federal, state, and local laws. These overlapping regulations can create misconceptions about proper classification and result in wage and hour law violations.

When questions arise about unpaid wages, seeking legal representation is a good choice. The experienced lawyers at Akopyan Law Firm A.P.C. stand ready to help clients in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura Counties.

Enforcing Employee Rights to Receive Wages

The question of when exactly the payment of wages is due is not always easy to answer. The timing of the payment of wages while the worker is employed can depend on that employee’s status as hourly, salaried, or commissioned and on whether the compensation at issue is wages, bonuses, benefits, or vacation pay.

Therefore, if you feel your rights may have been violated and need to speak with an unpaid wage lawyer in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, or Ventura Counties the Akopyan Law Firm A.P.C. may be able to help. Our unpaid wage attorneys have substantial experience representing employees in unpaid wage cases. Contact us today for a complimentary case evaluation.

Speak Directly with a Los Angeles Unpaid Wage Lawyer

If you work in the Los Angeles area, you can attempt to find an unpaid wage lawyer by using search terms like “best unpaid wage lawyer Los Angeles,” or “unpaid wage attorney Los Angeles,” or “best unpaid wage lawyer near me,” but you might end up dealing with a legal assistant without getting an actual attorney on the phone. To speak directly with an unpaid wage lawyer, contact us today and speak to one of our attorneys.

Seasoned Unpaid Wage Attorneys by Your Side

The unpaid wage lawyers at Akopyan Law Firm, A.P.C. have experience handling unpaid wage cases both in civil and administrative actions. If you believe that your right to timely payment of wages has been violated, call us today! Case evaluations are always complimentary. Our unpaid wage lawyers in Burbank, Orange, and Riverside can advise you of your rights and recover wages that you are owed.

Frequently Asked Questions About Unpaid Wages

Can my employer force me to sign a waiver of my right to receive unpaid wages?

No, not unless there is a dispute over what is owed. In general, an employer cannot require the execution of a release of a claim on account of wages due, or to become due, or made as an advance on wages to be earned, unless payment of those wages has been made. A release that violates this requirement is null and void as between the employer and the employee. Therefore, before you sign any release or waiver of your right to receive unpaid wages, you should contact an attorney to discuss the release.

Is health insurance considered a part of my wages?

Benefits to which an employee is entitled as part of his or her compensation are treated as “wages.” If you have a more specific question about unpaid benefits please contact one of our employment law attorneys in Burbank, Orange, or Riverside to discuss your specific situation. We offer complimentary case evaluations.

How much time does my employer have to give me my last check if I quit?

An employer who discharges an employee must immediately pay all compensation due and owing. However, when an employee “quits” employment, the employer must pay all compensation due and owing within 72 hours of resignation, or on the employee’s last day of work if the employee gives more than 72 hours’ notice of resignation.

Featured Unpaid Wage Case:

Schachter v. Citigroup, Inc., (2009) 47 Cal. 4th 610

A former employee brought a class action against the employer, a financial brokerage company, alleging that forfeiture provisions of employer’s voluntary incentive compensation plan, which provided that employees who voluntarily resigned or were terminated for cause within two years of purchasing restricted shares in the company would forfeit the shares and the money used to purchase the shares, violated state labor law and amounted to conversion of wages. The Superior Court granted summary judgment in favor of employer. On appeal summary judgment was reversed on procedural grounds and remanded. On remand, the Superior Court again entered summary judgment in favor of the employer. The former employee appealed yet again. The Court of Appeal affirmed. The employee petitioned the California Supreme Court for review. The Supreme Court granted review, superseding the opinion of the Court of Appeal.  In relevant part, the Court’s opinin states as follows: “To ascertain whether the Plan’s forfeiture provision violates sections 201 and 202, we must first address whether Schachter (or any class member) would be owed—and therefore would be required to forfeit—any “earned and unpaid” wages upon resigning or being terminated for cause. (§ 201, subd. (a).) A wage is defined as “all amounts for labor performed by employees of every description, whether the amount is fixed or ascertained by the standard for time, task, piece, commission basis, or other method of calculation.” (§ 200, subd. (a).) We construe the term “wages” broadly to “include not only the periodic monetary earnings of the employee but also the other benefits to which he is entitled as a part of his compensation.” (Wise v. Southern Pac. Co. (1970) 1 Cal.3d 600, 607, 83 Cal.Rptr. 202, 463 P.2d 426.) “Courts have recognized that ‘wages’ also include those benefits to which an employee is entitled as a part of his or her compensation, including money, room, board, clothing, vacation pay, and sick pay. (E.g., Suastez v. Plastic Dress–Up Co. (1982) 31 Cal.3d 774, 780[, 183 Cal.Rptr. 846, 647 P.2d 122]; Department of Industrial Relations v. UI Video Stores, Inc. (1997) 55 Cal.App.4th 1084, 1091[, 64 Cal.Rptr.2d 457].)” (Murphy v. Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. (2007) 40 Cal.4th 1094, 1103, 56 Cal.Rptr.3d 880, 155 P.3d 284.) Incentive compensation, such as bonuses and profit-sharing plans, also constitute wages. (See Neisendorf, supra, 143 Cal.App.4th at p. 522, 49 Cal.Rptr.3d 216; Lucian v. All States Trucking Co. (1981) 116 Cal.App.3d 972, 974, 171 Cal.Rptr. 262; Ware v. Merrill Lynch (1972) 24 Cal.App.3d 35, 44, 100 Cal.Rptr. 791.) Schachter alleges that the percentage of his annual compensation he directed be paid to him in the form of shares of restricted stock constitutes a wage that remained earned but unpaid following his resignation. We disagree. Certainly all cash compensation Schachter received constituted a wage. The Court of Appeal concluded, and we agree, that the shares of restricted stock issued to Schachter also constituted a wage. The company does not dispute that both the cash compensation and restricted stock—including the “conditional present rights (voting and dividend rights),” as well as “contingent future rights of full ownership in that restricted stock” (awarded but never transformed into noncontingent, fully vested rights)—constituted wages. Schachter does not contest these conclusions, and does not allege that the company failed to pay him the compensation he elected to receive as cash or the shares of restricted stock upon his termination. Instead, Schachter alleges that the portion of his cash compensation he directed be paid to him in form of restricted stock should have been paid to him in cash upon his resignation. Schachter makes this argument in a somewhat convoluted fashion, alleging here, as he did before the Court of Appeal, that the Plan is illegal and unenforceable pursuant to section 219 (prohibiting agreements that attempt to circumvent the requirements of the Labor Code), and a court would be precluded from denying his wage claim under section 202 (regarding the timely payment of wages upon termination) based upon the terms of the Plan despite the fact that Schachter voluntarily enrolled in the Plan. The company argues, however, and we agree, that “Schachter has put the cart before the horse.” Before Schachter can argue that the Plan constitutes an improper agreement under section 219, he must demonstrate that the Plan’s forfeiture provision violates sections 201 and 202, the statutes governing wage payment upon termination or resignation. This he cannot accomplish. Schachter correctly suggests that section 219 prohibits an employer and employee from agreeing, even voluntarily, to circumvent provisions of article I (consisting of §§ 200–243) of the Labor Code. Schachter also correctly argues that “agreement[s] prospectively waiving an employee’s rights under sections 201 [and 202] to receive all his or her earned but deferred or unpaid wages … constitute … waivers which section 219 renders illegal and unenforceable.” However, it is settled that an employer may unilaterally alter the terms of an employment agreement, provided such alteration does not run afoul of the Labor Code. (DiGiacinto v. Ameriko–Omserv Corp. (1997) 59 Cal.App.4th 629, 637, 69 Cal.Rptr.2d 300 (DiGiacinto ); see 3 Witkin, Summary of Cal. Law (10th ed.) Agency and Employment, § 236 [unilateral reduction in wage].) “There is, of course, a strong common law presumption that an employee may be demoted at will.  Since it is presumed that an employee may be discharged at will (Lab.Code, § 2922), the at-will presumption would surely apply to lesser quant [a] of discipline as well.” (Scott v. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (1995) 11 Cal.4th 454, 464–465, 46 Cal.Rptr.2d 427, 904 P.2d 834; see DiGiacinto, supra, 59 Cal.App.4th at pp. 634–635, 69 Cal.Rptr.2d 300.) The at-will presumption authorizing an employer to discharge or demote an employee similarly and necessarily authorizes an employer to unilaterally alter the terms of employment, provided that the alteration does not violate a statute or breach an implied or express contractual agreement. (Scott v. Pacific Gas & Electric Co., supra, 11 Cal.4th at p. 465, 46 Cal.Rptr.2d 427, 904 P.2d 834; DiGiacinto, supra, 59 Cal.App.4th at p. 637, 69 Cal.Rptr.2d 300.) An “employee who continues in the employ of the employer after the employer has given notice of changed terms or conditions of employment has accepted the changed terms and conditions.” (DiGiacinto, supra, 59 Cal.App.4th at p. 637, 69 Cal.Rptr.2d 300.) It cannot be questioned that employers and employees are free to prospectively and bilaterally alter the terms of employment. As we recently noted, “ ‘[s]traight-time wages (above the minimum wage) are a matter of private contract between the employer and employee.’ ” (Gentry v. Superior Court (2007) 42 Cal.4th 443, 456, 64 Cal.Rptr.3d 773, 165 P.3d 556, quoting Earley v. Superior Court (2000) 79 Cal.App.4th 1420, 1430, 95 Cal.Rptr.2d 57.) Here, when Schachter submitted his Plan election form in December 1994, he agreed to a restructured compensation package for the following year that included a lower annual salary and payment in the form of restricted stock “subject to all of the provisions and administrative rules of the Plan.” Again, in 1995, Schachter submitted a Plan election form requesting that he be paid entirely in cash during the first six months of 1996, and in cash and restricted stock during the latter six months of 1996. He acknowledged that his resignation or termination for cause before the end of the two-year vesting period would result in forfeiture of the restricted stock and the percentage of his compensation that he “authorized to be paid in the form of such restricted stock.”

Contact Us When You Need Unpaid Wage Attorneys in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, or Ventura Counties

Call us today at (818) 509-9975 or contact us online to schedule a complimentary case evaluation. We have extensive experience in all aspects of employment law, including unpaid wage cases.

Areas Served

The litigation and trial attorneys of the Akopyan Law Firm, A.P.C. provide services throughout Southern California including but not limited to AdelantoAgoura HillsAlhambraAliso ViejoAltadenaAnaheimApple ValleyArcadiaArletaAtwater VillageAzuzaBakersfieldBaldwin ParkBanningBeaumontBellBell GardensBellflowerBeverly HillsBlytheBoyle HeightsBreaBrentwoodBuena ParkBurbankCalabasasCalimesaCamarilloCanoga ParkCanyon LakeCarsonCathedral CityCerritosChatsworthChino HillsChinoClaremontCoachellaColtonComptonCosta MesaCoronaCovinaCulver CityCypressDana PointDesert Hot SpringsDiamond BarDowneyDuarteEagle RockEast HollywoodEast Los AngelesEastvaleEcho ParkEl MonteEl SegundoEl SerenoEncinoFontanaFountain ValleyFullertonGardenaGarden GroveGlassell ParkGlendaleGlendoraGranada HillsHacienda HeightsHawthorneHemetHesperiaHighland ParkHighlandHollywoodHollywood HillsHuntington BeachHuntington ParkIndian WellsIndioInglewoodIrvineJurupa ValleyLa Canada FlintridgeLa-Crescenta MontroseLa HabraLa MiradaLa PalmaLa PuenteLa QuintaLa VerneLaguna BeachLaguna HillsLaguna NiguelLaguna WoodsLakewoodLake BalboaLake ElsinoreLake ForestLancasterLawndaleLincoln HeightsLoma LindaLong BeachLos AlamitosLos AngelesLos FelizLynwoodManhattan BeachMar VistaMaywoodMenifeeMission HillsMission ViejoMonroviaMontclairMontebelloMonterey ParkMoorparkMoreno ValleyMurrietaNewbury ParkNewhallNewport BeachNorcoNorth HillsNorth HollywoodNorthridgeNorwalkOntarioOrangeOxnardPacific PalisadesPacoimaPalos VerdesPalmdalePalm DesertPalm SpringsPanorama CityParamountPasadenaPerrisPico RiveraPlacentiaPomonaPorter RanchRancho CucamongaRancho MirageRancho Santa MargaritaRedondo BeachResedaRialtoRiversideRosemeadRowland HeightsSan BernardinoSan ClementeSan DimasSan GabrielSan FernandoSan JacintoSan Juan CapistranoSan PedroSanta AnaSanta ClaritaSanta MonicaSawtelleSeal BeachShadow HillsSherman OaksSilver LakeSimi ValleySouth El MonteSouth GateSouth PasadenaSouth WhittierStantonStudio CitySun ValleySunlandSylmarTarzanaTemeculaTemple CityThousand OaksToluca LakeTorranceTujungaTustinTwentynine PalmsUplandValenciaValley GlenValley VillageVan NuysVenturaVictorvilleWalnutWest CovinaWest HillsWest HollywoodWest Puente ValleyWestchesterWestminsterWestwoodWhittierWildomarWinnetkaWoodland HillsYorba Linda