Did you know that thousands of hardworking employees in California face wage violations each year, depriving them of their rightful earnings? As a firm representing workers in wage and hour cases, we are committed to helping employees assert their rights and seek justice for unpaid wages, missed breaks, and unreimbursed expenses. One crucial aspect of wage and hour claims is understanding the statute of limitations—the timeframe within which employees must file their claims. In this blog post, we will explore the statute of limitations for wage and hour claims in California, empowering you to take timely action to protect your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve.
Wage Claims under California Labor Code:
California Labor Code Sections 203, 226, 1194, and 1197.1 govern wage claims. These sections establish the statute of limitations for late payment of final wages (Section 203), itemized wage statements (Section 226), and minimum wage and overtime claims (Section 1194). It's important to note that the statute of limitations for wage claims is three years. This means that whether your employment contract was oral or written, you have three years from the date of the wage violation to file a claim seeking unpaid wages, including unpaid overtime, minimum wages, and unreimbursed expenses.
Collective and Class Actions:
In cases where numerous employees have faced similar wage violations, two options are available for seeking remedies: collective actions under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and class actions under California's Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). Under the FLSA, employees have two years to join a collective action and claim back wages, which can be extended to three years if the employer's violation was willful. On the other hand, class actions under PAGA generally have a statute of limitations of one year for Labor Code violations.
Tolling of the Statute of Limitations:
Certain circumstances can temporarily pause or "toll" the statute of limitations, allowing employees more time to file claims. For example, if you are a minor, mentally incapacitated, or absent from the state during the relevant period, the statute of limitations may be tolled until you return or regain your legal capacity. The discovery rule, as mentioned earlier, also applies in cases where you were unaware of the wage violations, extending the statute of limitations to three years from the date you discovered or should have discovered the violation.
Understanding the statute of limitations for wage and hour claims in California is critical in safeguarding your rights as an employee. By being informed, you can take timely action to seek compensation for unpaid wages, missed breaks, or unreimbursed expenses. If you suspect wage violations or have concerns about your rights as an employee, don't wait. Take immediate action to consult with an experienced employment attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure you assert your rights within the statute of limitations. Remember, time is of the essence, and prompt action is key to pursuing the compensation you rightfully deserve.
For further information, you can explore the relevant California Labor Code sections: 203, 226, 1194, 1197.1, or reach out to our team for professional assistance in handling your wage and hour claim. Together, let's strive for a fair and just workplace for all.