California & Federal Labor Laws and Regulations: Failure to Pay

California Labor Code, Section 203 states in relevant part:

203.  (a) If an employer willfully fails to pay, without abatement or reduction, in accordance with Sections 201, 201.3, 201.5, 202, and 205.5, any wages of an employee who is discharged or who quits, the wages of the employee shall continue as a penalty from the due date thereof at the same rate until paid or until an action therefor is commenced; but the wages shall not continue for more than 30 days.

(b) Suit may be filed for these penalties at any time before the expiration of the statute of limitations on an action for the wages from which the penalties arise.(1)

How the penalties are calculated:

Wages for each day worked are calculated, including what would have been unpaid days, to arrive at the amount due for the 30-day penalty, according to the State of California Enforcement Manual, §4.4. (2)

So, if the employee was hired at an hourly rate of $15.00 per hour, the calculation would look like this:

15×8=$120 daily wage

$120×30=$3,600 penalty due employee

If the wages were earned in San Francisco, here is where you file the appropriate forms.

DLSE – Wage Claims
455 Golden Gate Avenue, 10th Floor East
San Francisco CA 94102






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