POLICIES AND PROCEDURES FOR WAGE
purpose of this pamphlet is to provide a basic overview of the Division of Labor
Standards Enforcement's (DLSE) wage claim process and to outline the basic
filing, conference, hearing and appeal procedures. Since this guide is not meant
to be a definitive statement regarding the processing of wage claims, parties
are strongly urged to read all forms received by them throughout the
process. Failure to comply with each requirement of the process may result in
the loss of important rights.
OF THE PROCEDURES
employee who has a claim against his or her employer or former employer for
unpaid wages or other compensation, which falls under the jurisdiction of the
Labor Commissioner, may file a claim with DLSE which is under the direction of
the State Labor Commissioner. The Labor Commissioner has no jurisdiction over
those persons determined to be bona fide independent contractors and only
limited jurisdiction over employees of public agencies (for example, federal,
state, county or municipal employees). In addition, based on
Labor Commissioner, pursuant to the provisions of Labor Code Sections 98 and
98.3, has established procedures for investigating wage complaints, which may
include either a conference pursuant to Section 98.3 or a hearing pursuant to
Section 98(a), or both.
claims are filed which are very complex and involve a large number of employees
and records. Such claims will usually be investigated by DLSE's Bureau of Field
Enforcement and not through the procedures described in this pamphlet. If this
occurs, the parties will be so informed by the deputy handling the case.
However, the majority of claims filed with DLSE are resolved through Section
98.3 conferences and/or Section 98(a) hearings that are explained in this
employee (plaintiff) alleging the non-payment of wages or other compensation by
his or her employer (defendant), must file a claim with a local office of DLSE
to initiate investigation of the claim by the Labor Commissioner. The statute of
limitations on claims is either two (2), three (3) or four (4) years from the
date of the alleged non-payment, depending on the underlying employment
agreement or the type of claim. Plaintiffs are advised to file a claim as soon
as possible after the alleged non-payment.
filing the claim, the plaintiff should provide as much information and
documentation as possible, including the legal name, location, and status
(method of doing business, i.e. sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation)
of the defendant.
the claim is assigned to a Deputy Labor Commissioner (deputy), he or she will
determine, based on the circumstances of the claim, how best to proceed. Within
thirty (30) days of the filing of the complaint, the deputy shall notify the
parties as to the specific action which will initially be taken regarding the
all cases will go to a conference before going to a hearing. Moreover, many
cases will be resolved informally before either a conference or a hearing is
1. To be represented by an attorney or other party of his or
2. To present evidence.
3. To testify in his or her own behalf.
4. To have his or her own witnesses testify.
5. To cross-examine the opposing party and witnesses.
6. To explain evidence offered in support of his or her position and to rebut evidence offered in opposition.
7. To have a translator present, if necessary.
1. Explain the issues and the meaning of terms not understood
by the parties.
2. Set forth the order in which persons will testify, cross-examine and give rebuttal.
3. Assist parties in the cross-examination of the opposing party and witnesses.
4. Question parties and witnesses to obtain necessary facts.
5. Accept and consider testimony and documents offered by the parties or witnesses.
6. Take official notice of well-established matters of common knowledge and/or public records.
7. Ascertain whether there are stipulations by the parties that may be entered into the record.
TO CIVIL COURT
party, or both, pursuant to Labor Code Section 98.2, may appeal the Labor
Commissioner's ODA to the appropriate court, in accordance with the applicable
rules of jurisdiction. The party appealing may obtain a Notice of Appeal (DLSE
537) from the DLSE office. The appeal must be filed in court within the time
period set forth on the ODA, and a copy of the Notice of Appeal must be served
on the Labor Commissioner and the opposing party. Whenever the defendant files
an appeal, a bond in the amount of the ODA must be posted with the reviewing
court. The court clerk will then set the matter for de novo hearing, which means
that a judge will hear the case again with each party having the opportunity to
present evidence and witnesses.
the case of an appeal by a defendant, DLSE may represent a plaintiff who is
financially unable to afford counsel in the appeal proceedings. The decision to
represent the plaintiff is within the sound discretion of DLSE legal staff. The
plaintiff must meet the financial criteria set forth by DLSE. The assigned
deputy will send to the plaintiff a Request for Attorney Representation (DLSE
553) along with a Statement of Financial Status (DLSE 554) that must be
completed and returned to the DLSE office. If the plaintiff does not meet the
requirements for representation, he or she will be notified by the legal staff
of the reasons that DLSE will not be providing legal representation.