My employer hasn’t paid me overtime wages: What can I do?

California workers who have worked overtime may wonder when they should receive overtime pay, and what their options are if their overtime is not paid. California law requires that wages be paid during the next payroll period after the payroll period that the overtime hours were worked.

The remedy in California for collecting unpaid overtime is filing a wage claim. In California, a wage claim can be filed through mail, email or in person. It is important to file a wage claim in a timely manner. Wage claims for overtime must be filed within three years of time violation.

Once a wage claim is filed, a settlement conference between the worker and employer will be scheduled. To prepare for this conference, a worker should gather any documentation supporting the overtime claim. This can include a copies of work schedules showing the days and times worked and paystubs reflecting the lack of overtime pay.

What happens at a settlement conference?

A settlement conference is an informal meeting between a worker, an employer and a deputy labor commissioner. If a worker does not attend the conference and cannot show good cause for the absence, the wage claim will be dismissed.

At the conference, the labor commissioner will try to help the worker and employer reach an agreement. Typically, this involves the employer agreeing to pay the worker a certain amount of overtime pay in exchange for a resolution to the claim.

If no agreement is reached, or if the employer does not attend the conference, the wage claim will be scheduled for a hearing. At a hearing, the worker and employer will testify under oath about the overtime dispute. Workers should bring three copies of any relevant documentation and any witnesses or evidence supporting the claim.

After the hearing, the hearing officer will have 15 days to issue a decision. The decision will be mailed out to both parties. If either party is unhappy with the decision, appeal rights are available.

The wage claim process can be daunting. An employment attorney can provide helpful guidance and advice.