For ten years, California has offered employees the right to recover substantial penalties for being denied wages, where that denial violates numerous provisions of the California Labor Code and the Health and Safety Code. This law is codified as the Private Attorney General Act (LC 2699) and provides penalties based on the number of payroll dates passed since the first violation. The rate is $100 for the first missed pay period, and then it escalates to $200 per pay period.
So, for example, if you are owed overtime for one year, and your employer pays you bi-monthly, then you would be entitled to that amount of penalties. The action is sometimes referred to as a “collective” action, in that you can name as co-plaintiffs all your fellow workers who have been equally denied overtime. Or, or may find that you did not receive all of your vacation pay at your final day of work. As such, you would be entitled to 30 days ‘waiting time, plus $1///$200 for each pay period missed.
Employers have tried to reduce their exposure to penalties by actually changing form weekly pay periods to monthly. While attorney fees are provided for in the PAGA law, you should be aware that the state has its hand in the cookie jar on this one and gets 75% of the take. Also, there are very strict procedural rules including the filing of a claim with the State Department of Labor Standards Enforcement and the right of the State to take over your claim. We have never had the DLSE intervene in our PAGA filings, so its probably more academic than anything else. However, if the proper claims are not filed, there will be no recovery, so please seek expert legal assistance to get it right! As attorney fees are provided, it costs you nothing to do it right.
Please consider this blog educational in nature only. Only an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction and familiar with the facts of your case can give proper legal advise. Steve Danz