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California Wage and Hour Statute of Limitations [2024 Updated]

Emanuel Shirazi

When you put in time and perform your job, you expect to be properly compensated for your work. Employers have a legal and ethical obligation to pay their workers. Unfortunately, wage and hour violations are common in California. Filing a claim requires swift action so you do not miss the California wage and hour statute of limitations.

One way you can improve the chances of a favorable outcome to your complaint is by working with a wage theft attorney. They understand California’s wage and hour laws and how to properly file a complaint without missing important deadlines.

When Do I Have to File My Wage Theft Complaint?

The Labor Commissioner’s Office, also known as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), is the state agency that receives and decides your unpaid wages claim. The Labor Commissioner’s office maintains three deadlines related to wage theft complaints.

  • Claims for violations of minimum wage, overtime, unpaid reimbursements, and illegal deductions must be filed within three years.
  • Claims based on an oral promise to pay must be filed within two years.
  • Claims based on a written contract must be filed within four years.

If you have questions about your filing deadline for unpaid overtime or other forms of work, a California wage and hour attorney can help you file your claim in Court. If your employer’s wage and hour violation occurred recently, you should be well within the filing deadline.

How to File a Claim With the Help of an Attorney

Once you find an experienced wage and hour attorney, you should begin gathering documents that support your claim. These can include time sheets, pay stubs, emails, and notes about your time at work.

Be sure to identify all your employers and find out the names of anyone else who is involved in documenting your hours and paying you. They may also be responsible for unpaid wages.

Your attorney will handle all the paperwork, whether in Court or with the DLSE.

Once your complaint has been filed, the Labor Commissioner’s Office will notify your employer that an unpaid wage claim has been filed. The Labor Commissioner’s Office will schedule a settlement conference that you must attend. You have the option of participating by phone.

Common Types of Wage and Hour Violations in California

During your initial consultation with your wage and hour attorney, your lawyer can determine what type of labor law violation may have occurred. Minimum wage violations are common in California. Just because an employer pays an employee a salary, that does not mean they are legally exempt from minimum wages and overtime. In California, one’s job duties must qualify to be exempt and their salary must exceed $65,000 per year to qualify (among other requirements).

Overtime pay is another common wage violation. Anyone who works more than eight hours within one day or 40 hours within a standard work week must be paid 1.5 times the typical hourly wage. Employers must allow employees to take rest and meal breaks.


Q: What Is the Statute of Limitations for Lost Wages in California?

A: There are three deadlines for filing for lost wages in California. Complaints about minimum wage, overtime, and payment deduction violations must be filed within three years of the day when the violation occurred. If your dispute relates to an oral agreement, the filing deadline is two years. Both of these can be extended to 4 years by filing in Court. Violations of written contracts must be filed within four years.

Q: What If I Miss My Filing Deadline?

A: If you miss the filing deadlines set forth by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, your claim will not be processed by that state agency. Any statute of limitation is a hard deadline, and being even one day over it can mean that your complaint will not be accepted. Fortunately, California’s statute of limitations for hour and wage issues is 3-4 years for most cases. Taking prompt action can benefit you in many ways.

Q: How Long Do Employers Have to Correct a Paycheck Error in California?

A: The amount of time you have to correct a paycheck error depends on the specific type of violation that occurred. Most wage and hour complaints must be filed within three/four years. These include violations related to:

  • Unpaid overtime
  • Minimum wage violations
  • Unpaid reimbursement
  • Unlawful payroll deductions

If your case relates to a violation of a written contract agreement, you may have up to four years to file a complaint.

Q: What Is the 72-Hour Rule in California?

A: If you quit your job in California without notice, your employer must pay you for the work you performed up to that point within 72 hours of your quitting. If your employer doesn’t pay you within that timeframe, they may be in violation of hour and wage laws in California. Your employer must follow state laws, or you may have grounds for taking legal action.

Q: Does My Residency Status Matter If I File a Wage Claim?

A: Your residency status does not matter when filing a wage claim in California. You do not need photo identification or a Social Security number to file a claim. No one with the Labor Commissioner’s Office will ask about your immigration status, and your residency status will have no bearing on the claim process.

Schedule Your California Wage Attorney Consultation Today

California’s wage and hour laws are complex. Your lawyer can also help you understand which laws your employer may have violated.

Shirazi Law Firm, PC, understands the deadlines for when you should file your unpaid wages claim. We have helped many clients all over California successfully claim unpaid wages. With the right legal help, you can be repaid the money that you are owed. Contact our office today.

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