California has enacted several statutes, and promulgated related regulations that give workers the right to recover unpaid wages against employers who fail to pay wages, fail to pay wages when due, and fail to pay overtime. These statutes include the right to recover the attorney’s fees, and costs that the employee incurs to recover those wages, shifting the expense of collecting unpaid wages to employers.
Workers who believe that they have a claim to unpaid wages have the choice of filing a lawsuit or filing a claim with the Labor Commissioner’s office pursuant to California Labor Code sections 96 et sequitur, a proceeding that is commonly referred to as a Berman hearing after Howard Berman, the legislator who sponsored the law that created this procedure. The Berman hearing is an alternative to the expensive and time consuming process of a court trial on a wage dispute.(Cuadra v. Bradshaw (Cal. Ct. App. 1997) 62 Cal.Rptr.2d 102, 104.).
California’s Industrial Welfare Commission has issued seventeen (17) different orders that apply to workers in various industries:
Order 1–MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY
Order 2 – PERSONAL SERVICE INDUSTRY
Order 3 – CANNING, FREEZING, AND PRESERVING INDUSTRY
Order 4 – PROFESSIONAL, TECHNICAL, CLERICAL, MECHANICAL and SIMILAR OCCUPATIONS
Order 5 – PUBLIC HOUSEKEEPING INDUSTRY
Order 6 – LAUNDRY, LINEN SUPPLY, DRY CLEANING AND DYEING INDUSTRY
Order 7 – MERCANTILE INDUSTRY
Order 8 – INDUSTRIES HANDLING PRODUCTS AFTER HARVEST
Order 9 – TRANSPORTATION INDUSTRY .
Order 10 – AMUSEMENT AND RECREATION INDUSTRY
Order 11 – BROADCASTING INDUSTRY
Order 12 – MOTION PICTURE INDUSTRY
Order 13 – INDUSTRIES PREPARING AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS FOR MARKET, on the FARM
Order 14 – AGRICULTURAL OCCUPATIONS
Order 15 – HOUSEHOLD OCCUPATIONS
Order 16 – OCCUPATIONS in the CONSTRUCTION, DRILING, LOGGING and MINING INDUSTRIES
Order 17 – MISCELLANEOUS EMPLOYEES
These orders specify the occupations encompassed by the order, define the workweek, overtime pay, minimum wage, meal periods, rest period, and record keeping requirements that apply, among other rules.
For a general guide to determining the classification of businesses, and workers see the document entitled “Which IWC Order? Classifications” (March, 2013).
To read the Industrial Welfare Commission’s wage orders in their entirety, go to https://www.dir.ca.gov/iwc/WageOrderIndustries.htm
To facilitate broader enforcement of California labor laws, the Legislature enacted “The Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act” (PAGA), authorizing “aggrieved employees” to pursue civil penalties on the state’s behalf.
Kim v. Reins International California, Inc. (Cal., Mar. 12, 2020, No. S246911) 2020 WL 1174294, at *1
This statutory scheme authorizes aggrieved employees to file lawsuits to recover civil penalties on behalf of themselves, other employees, and the State of California for Labor Code violations. Before PAGA’s enactment, only the state could sue for civil penalties.
Under PAGA, 75% of the civil penalties recovered go to California’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency, i.e., the state, with the remaining 25% to the ‘aggrieved employees’. When bringing such a claim, the employee acts as a proxy or agent of the state’s labor law enforcement agencies to benefit the general public. To be eligible to bring a PAGA claim against an employer, an employee must have been employed by, and subjected to the violations committed by the defendant employer. An employee who can bring a PAGA claim is referred to as an ‘aggrieved employee’.(Kim v. Reins International California, Inc. (Cal., Mar. 12, 2020, No. S246911) 2020 WL 1174294, at *1.)
Those who intend to pursue PAGA cases must follow the requirements specified in Labor Code Sections 2698 – 2699.5, and can include a PAGA claim along with their individual claim for damages.
If you feel you are due wages, and would like to discuss it, please contact us at 310.929.5269.