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I was promised a specific pay rate upon accepting a position and now I am just getting the run-around???

Long Beach, CA |

I recently took the staffing agency I worked for to the labor board regarding a pay rate discrepancy. I felt that I had enough documented emails showing that they were not paying me what they promised and that I consistently attempted to communicate with them about it for over 5 months. Unfortunately the meeting at the labor board did not favor me. They stated that the labor board only handles minimun wage cases. Is this true? If so what is the next step I can take in order to resolve this and collect the money I am owed?

Attorney Answers 5

  1. No, it is not true that the Labor Commission only handles minimum wage cases. It has the authority to handle cases involving any wage rate. I don't know why anyone would say that to you. It is possible that what you were told was that unless there is an enforceable contract for a set wage, the employer has no obligation to pay anything more than minimum wage. If there was an issue as to whether there was a binding contract for the wage rate you are claiming, this may have been the position of the deputy.

    If the case has been dismissed, your remaining option is to file a case in court. If the amount is under $10,000, for can file a case in small claims court for breach of contract. But the burden is on you to prove there was a contract to pay you at the rate you are claiming.

    They say you get what you pay for, and this response is free, so take it for what it is worth. This is my opinion based on very limited information. My opinion should not be taken as legal advice. For true advice, we would require a confidential consultation where I would ask you questions and get your complete story. This is a public forum, so remember, nothing here is confidential. Nor am I your attorney. I do not know who you are and you have not hired me to provide any legal service. To do so would require us to meet and sign written retainer agreement. My responses are intended for general information only.

  2. This sounds more like a breach of contract action. Is there anything in writing supporting the employer's agreement to pay the rate you claim - an agreement, or anything in the email traffic? Consult with a litigation attorney as soon as possible. And yes, if the amount at issue is under $10,000, you can file a small claims action, where you would need to do your best on your own, without any attorney, to present your evidence and prove your case. Good luck!

    Nothing in this response is intended as a legal consultation or advice on your particular case, and is provided only as a general statement of information, and only with respect to California law. No attorney-client relationship is created and no contract for legal services is formed as a result of this posting or other postings before or after this posting. Various limitation periods, deadlines and cut-offs also may apply. You should therefore seek private consultation from an attorney regarding the merits of your case and the deadlines involved in your matter. Since this is a public forum, this posting is not confidential.

  3. I am confused. Were these promises made to you when you accepted a position with the staffing agency or when you accepted each position to which the staffing agency assigned you? If the former, then you knew what they paid by the time that you got paid the first time. After that, despite their earlier promises, you worked at the lower rate.

    On the other hand, if they make the misrepresentations when assigning you to a position, then you have many different promises, and the agency is bound by each one.

    The temporary services agency that I worked for many years ago misrepresented either the pay or the nature of the work every time they sent me somewhere.

  4. That is really peculiar. I hope you misunderstood something because it anyone who works for the Labor Commissioner (Division of Labor Standards Enforcement or DLSE) said it only handles minimum wage cases, that is truly frightening. The DLSE is a sub-agency within the California Department of Industrial Relations. The DLSE enforces California's wage and hour laws, including those pertaining to overtime, rest and meal breaks, and more.

    What was this meeting? Was it the informal settlement conference, which is a discussion? Or a hearing, with testimony and evidence?

    If it was the former and the case did not settle, which obviously it didn't, your best bet is to consult with one or more experienced employment law attorneys with whom you can discuss the details of your situation.

    You may fare better at a hearing where you can show your evidence than at the informal conference.

    If you are owed wages and require an attorney to recover those wages, the employer must pay your attorney's fees.

    Employment law is complicated and fact-specific. You may wish to consult with an experienced plaintiffs employment lawyer. 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. ***

  5. False promises can lead to a breach of contract claim.

    However, an employer can unilaterally change the pay of an employee at any time in the future, as long as the employer gives notice. Your continuing to work can be interpreted as an implied acceptance of the new terms of employment. Yes, that is a very harsh rule for employees, I know, but there it is.

    It sounds like you really need free consultation with a lawyer to sort out the facts and law.

    Best regards,

    David A. Mallen

    David A. Mallen offers answers on Avvo for general information only. This offer of free, general answers is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. If you need specific advice regarding your legal question, you should consult an attorney confidentially. Many experienced California labor and employment attorneys, including David A. Mallen offer no-risk legal consultations to employers and employees at no charge. David A. Mallen is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, as well as the California Labor Commissioner and the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. Failure to take legal action within the time periods prescribed by law could result in the loss of important legal rights and remedies.

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