An employee who wants to recover wages owed can either file in civil court (i.e., a superior court or federal court) or with the California Labor Commissioner. The time it takes to get a resolution in either place is different.
If the employee files in civil court, the case will probably be tried within 12 months. Assuming no extensions or continuances are given, the case should resolve either before or at trial. Typically, a smaller wage claim (what is small is difficult to say, but possibly anything under $30,000) will resolve faster than a bigger wage claim, because the bigger they are, the more the employer will fight them. So, generally speaking, a wage claim filed in civil court will be resolved in between three to 12 months.
The Labor Commissioner’s office is very busy these days. With state worker furloughs in effect, the Labor Commissioner’s office doesn’t have as much time to work on wage claims as it used to have. Hence, depending on which office an employee files his or her wage claim, the claim could take anywhere from six to nine months to be tried. However, it is not uncommon for the Labor Commissioner to take months to make a decision in the case (there is no jury, it’s just the Labor Commissioner who hears these cases). In one case, we filed in 2007, went to a “hearing” (the Labor Commissioner’s version of a trial) in June 2008, and as of the end of October 2009 the Labor Commissioner has still not issued his decision. So, in general, a wage claim brought before the Labor Commissioner will be resolved in between three months to two years.
Remember, if you have an attorney who knows what he is doing with wage claims, your wage claim is likely to go faster. For more information, contact Strauss Law Group. We handle wage claims throughout California and have been doing so for many years.