In California, wages (with some exceptions) must be paid at least twice during each calendar month on the days designated in advance as regular paydays. The employer must establish a regular payday and is required to post a notice that shows the day, time and location of payment. (Cal. Labor Code section 207.)
Wages earned between the 1st and 15th days, inclusive, of any calendar month must be paid no later than the 26th day of the month during which the labor was performed, and wages earned between the 16th and last day of the month must be paid by the 10th day of the following month. Other payroll periods such as weekly, biweekly (every two weeks) or semimonthly (twice per month) when the earning period is something other than between the 1st and 15th, and 16th and last day of the month, must be paid within seven calendar days of the end of the payroll period within which the wages were earned. (Labor Code Section 204.)
The Department of Industrial Relations’ (DIR) Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) which is also known as the California Labor Commissioner’s Office, has a new Criminal Investigation Unit (CIU) designed to investigate employers who perpetrate wage theft and other criminal activities against workers.
Cases handled by the Criminal Investigation Unit include workers’ compensation violations, theft of labor (which can be a felony or misdemeanor), payment of wages with bounced checks or other insufficient funds, unlicensed farm labor contractors and garment manufacturers, kickbacks on public works projects, violations involving minors on the job, and impeding of Labor Commissioner investigations.
Employees who have work-related questions or complaints can call the California Workers’ Information Hotline at 1-866-924-9757.
Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult with your own attorney.
When he filed for BK, you could file a claim and, depending on many factors (such as the type of BK he files, if he has any assets -- such as the building, etc.) you may be able to get paid. Make sure that when you file the claim, you indicate that he owes you wages (this kind of debt has priority over some other debts). That being said, this could take a long time (especially since he has not filed the BK yet). Your only other option is to sue him and, once you get a judgment, you could place a lien on his assets. Depending on how much he owes you, the fastest (and cheapest) way to do this is to file a Small Claims action.
In addition to the sound legal advice from my colleague, I would question why you are still working for someone who is not paying you? While you are still ostensibly employed you should be looking for a paying gig. And before your sue your current employer, have him sign a glowing referral letter that you draft, to assist you finding other work. You might also negotiate with him to take your pay in assets that are convertible to cash, if any such assets are available. Does he own a car, for instance? Take care of yourself; if you don't who will?
I can only imagine how many other legal problems there are in your relationship with the proprietor (for example, I suspect he may be treating you as an independent contractor even though you may qualify as an employee).
One way to obtain maximum legal leverage with a minimal cash expenditure is to file a wage claim - please see the post at the link below.
This information does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.