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Can I sue my employer for unpaid wages, even though he never completed an I-9 form?

Santa Rosa, CA |

I worked for a small local company in town for 5 months, got paid once but the check bounced, I'm owed about $10000 in wages the owner never completed an I-9 form. I've asked many times about owed wages he just keeps saying he has no money, I am no longer working for him yet his business is still running. I kept logs of everyday I worked for him and also have a copy of the bounced check.

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Unless you worked for this employer many years ago, you can bring a claim against it for unpaid wages, penalties, and interest. You can use a private attorney – in which case attorney's fees are also available as part of the case resolution – or you can filed a claim with the DLSE for free. The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) is a sub-agency within the California Department of Industrial Relations. Some people refer to the DLSE as the Labor Commissioner. The DLSE enforces California's wage and hour laws, including those pertaining to overtime, rest and meal breaks, and more. The link for information on filing a wage claim is here:

If you prefer to use an attorney, 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.

You were very smart to keep a log of your work hours and the bounced check! 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. ***


Yes, you can sue your employer. The I9 does not matter. You can go to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement at 50 D Street in Santa Rosa and file a claim there.


Yes, you have a strong wage claim. The lack of an I-9 form does not prevent you from recovering what you are owed. California's wage laws protect all workers regardless of their legal status. You may also be entitled to waiting time penalties and other penalties and damages. Your log will be helpful in establishing your hours. You should consult with an employment attorney to fully evaluate your case. Please feel free to contact me for a consultation.

Law Offices of Linh T. Nguyen 916.509.7200 Disclaimer: This reply is not intended to be and does not constitute legal advice or the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. I always recommend consulting with an attorney, especially since many attorneys offer free, no-obligation consultations.