Most hourly employees in California are protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act or FLSA. If you believe that your employer is holding back some of your pay, you can file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division, or WHD, of the U.S. Department of Labor.
Who can file a complaint?
Anyone can file a complaint with the WHD if they think that their employer is not paying them at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. If you are not being paid 1.5 times your regular wage for working more than 40 hours per week, you can file a complaint about the overtime pay that you were denied as well.
Your communications with the WHD will be confidential, and your employer may not know it was you who complained until the case is being prosecuted. If it is necessary to reveal your identity to pursue an investigation, the WHD will ask for your permission first.
Does is cost anything?
Wage and hour claims are free to file with the WHD, and there are no charges to employees for the investigation. You can file a complaint up to two years after the suspected violation and up to three years after if the violation was willful. The WHD enforces wage and hour laws for all employees, regardless of their immigration status.
What happens after the investigation?
If found guilty, your employer may be ordered to make back payments to you for the missing part of your wages and any overtime pay that you were denied. The investigation may also reveal that your employer owes money to other workers besides you. If the investigation finds that your employer is innocent of wage and hour law violations, you are legally protected from being discriminated against because of the complaint you made.