Employers are required to set specific pay days and then pay on those days. There are no grace periods or ranges of dates on which employers are allowed to pay.
Your challenge is to determine when and how you want to raise this issue.
You can proceed in three distinct manners to enforce your rights: small claims, an administrative claim with the Labor Commissioner's Office, or a lawsuit in superior court. It would be best for you to locate and consult with an experienced employment law attorney to explore your facts and determine your options. I would suggest you look either on this site in the Find a Lawyer section, or go to www.cela.org, the home page for the California Employment Lawyers Association, an organization whose members are dedicated to the representation of employees against their employers.
The other challenge you have relates to timing. Your employer is clearly financially unstable. Any claim by you might be met with a shut down of the company, and perhaps some form of retaliation, both of which will leave you without a job. Your best course may be to quickly find another job and then make the claim. You have three years from the date payments should have been made to make your claim against the present employer (four if you choose to go to superior court). However, do not let your claim accumulate too much, because there is a chance that whenever you make your claim or sue, you will cause the company to collapse and you will be chasing the defendant looking to collect.
Tough situation. Good luck to you.
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This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.
This is certainly NOT OK. Feel free to get in touch with my consumer protection firm directly (or one like us that handles employment matters) for a no or low fee consultation as to your rights. The law should call for the employer to pay you outsanding amount, a potential penalty and maybe even your attorney fees.