Wage theft, where employers fail to pay workers what they are due under federal and state law, is a big problem in California. In fact, according to reporting from KQED, California workers brought more than 17,000 wage theft claims in 2021 alone. These claims added up to roughly $300 million in stolen wages.
If you believe your employer is cheating you out of the wages you deserve, you may wonder whether it is worth the hassle to file a complaint. To help you make your decision, it is helpful to understand the types of compensation for which you may be eligible.
Any unpaid wages you have earned
Your employer may owe you money that you have not yet received. The most common form of compensation aggrieved workers receive after filing successful wage theft claims is their unpaid wages. Therefore, it probably benefits you to determine exactly how much pay your employer owes you.
Interest on your unpaid wages
If you have not received the wages you have earned, you have also lost out on the opportunity to put your income to work for you. To help to make you whole, you are likely eligible for interest on your unpaid wages. Depending on how many wages you are due, this interest may be considerable.
Compensation for your patience
California law allows cheated workers to recover compensation for their patience in awaiting payment. Known as a waiting time penalty, this compensation can be equal to up to 30 days of your salary.
In some cases, individuals with successful wage theft claims qualify for reimbursement of legal fees. Ultimately, because hiring an attorney to represent you can be expensive, this provision of the law should give you more flexibility to exercise your legal rights.