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Ask for your remainder of your pay and loose job - have a case?

Torrance, CA |

If you worked for the state Govt on a seasonal job. There was an error in the payment and you went and asked for the remainder. Retaliated and discharged. Do you have a claim? Discrimination? Public policy? Anything else?

Attorney Answers 4


We would need more information to evaluate your case. Generally an employer can ask an employee to return a salary overpayment but they cannot just deduct it from your pay. They must get your written authorization. If you were retaliated and discharged because you made a complaint to management that you reasonably believed to be a violation of the law then you may have a retaliation and wrongful termination claim (even if your belief ultimately proves to not relate to an unlawful action by your employer)

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If your wages were not correctly paid, you may have a claim for unpaid wages plus any applicable waiting time penalties. You can file a free complaint with the Labor Commissioner online at:

Alternatively, an attorney can assist you, you may be entitled to recover your reasonable attorney's fees under Labor Code 218.5

You did not indicate any basis for which a discrimination claim could be pursue, i.e. the adverse employment action was motivated by your membership in a protected class (or affiliation with some in a protected class) such as race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, military service, disability, etc.

Finally, assuming you were fired in relation for complaining out unpaid wages, you need to discuss with a lawyer whether or not you may have claim, because common law torts such as wrongful termination in violation of public policy cannot be pled against a public entity. Miklosy v. Regents of the University of California, 44 Cal.4th 876, 898-902 (2008).

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If you were fired because you requested to be paid what the employer owed you, then it was an illegal termination. There will certainly be a dispute over what really happened and why you were fired, but if you can show proof of the underpayment, that will bolster your version. And if you have other evidence or witnesses, that of course would be very helpful.

To find a plaintiffs employment attorney in California, please go to the web site of the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA). CELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the state for attorneys who represent working people. The web site is Click on "Find a CELA Member" and you can search by location and practice area. Many CELA attorneys represent clients throughout the state.

I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best. *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***

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You have received three excellent answers so I do not have anything else to contribute other than to say you should meet with a few attorneys who handle employment law matters and see if they can help you. If they can and it makes sense to do so you should hire the one you feel most comfortable with. Most employment law attorneys offer free initial consultations, including those in my office. So shop around.

Michel & Associates, PC
(562) 216-4444

All my comments here are intended for general legal purposes. None of my comments here establish an attorney-client relationship with anyone. None of my comments should be relied on in taking legal action without first consulting an attorney.

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