Should I File a Complaint with the CA Labor Commission?

You’re a California employee who has not been compensated fairly. What should you do?

There are two options to consider:

  1. File a complaint with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE);
  2. File a wage and hour lawsuit.

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Both legal mechanisms can help if:

  • You’ve been issued a check for insufficient funds;
  • You haven’t received payment for work rendered;
  • Your employer has unfairly deducted money from your paycheck or failed to reimburse you for significant purchase expenses;
  • You were not paid for unused vacation/sick time after you left a job.

Both mechanisms can help you obtain justice and resolve your situation. There are certain advantages, however, to filing a Labor Commission Complaint over suing.

Here are a few:

1. Your case can often get resolved faster and easier.

Building up a lawsuit and executing it can take a lot of time and energy. If you simply want to collect money and move on with your life, try to avoid getting sucked up into legal drama.

2. Lawsuits often mean burning bridges with your employer or ex-employer.

Filing a lawsuit is a big deal; it can be quite disruptive not only to your life but also to the life of your employer and the entire company.

3. It’s possible to escalate from a complaint to a lawsuit, but not the other way around.

Depending on the circumstances, you might tentatively explore the complaint route; and then, if that doesn’t work, escalate your legal battle. Going the opposite way – from lawsuit to a “less intense” option – is not really plausible.

4. When you file a labor complaint, you don’t necessarily need to retain an attorney.

Again, the complaint option is generally simpler. The Labor Commissioner has subpoena power and can punish a non-cooperating employer with a misdemeanor charge. So you will have a lot of authority on your side to compel action.

5. All that said, you may want to consider consulting with an attorney, anyway.

It’s better to understand your options and do your due diligence before you make a decision. The ethical, experienced professionals at the Law Offices of Daniel Vega would be happy to talk to you in depth about your case and provide a free and confidential wage and hour case evaluation.