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In CA how long after Termination of Employment can a wage claim be filed?

Redwood City, CA |

I was an on site Property Manager with a rent free 1 bed apt. but never received a pay check. Correction, I received one check for around $70 and was sent an email by HR afterwards instructing me to make sure future time cards reflect only the hours stated in my employment agreement. I worked far in excess of the allocated 13 hours a week and have a log of emails and my time cards to show I worked past the time that I was told to put down.

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Let me see if I can give you a practical response. Please do not misconstrue this as legal advice. Your question does seem to raise some interesting questions.

Under Cal. Business and Professions Code Section 17200 the longest period of time you have to file a wage claim is four years. Additionally if you had a written employment contract your statute of limitations could also be four years. The shortest statute of limitations you have to file a wage claim is one year if your attorney files for civil penalties. There are other time time limits that apply to your case, so you must contact an attorney directly for more information.

SAVE A COPY OF THAT E-MAIL. An e-mail from HR pressuring you to enter false information in your time cards is like a golden ticket that opens the employer up to all kinds of penalties, including liquidated damages under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Some other standard penalties that may apply to your case: Cal. Lab. Code Section 203 one day of pay for every day your employer does not pay you all the wages owed you at the end of your employment up to 30 days. Cal lab. Code Section 226 since the employer failed to issued a pay stub accurately listing the hours you worked, your rate of pay and how your employer calculated your pay. The pay stub must include all legal deductions. Cal. Lab. Section 1194 for overtime pay since your employer did not pay you at 1.5 times your normal rate of pay when you worked more than eight hours in one day or forty hours in one week. Additionally your employer may have paid you sub-minimum wages given the number of hours you worked and the level of pay you appeared to receive.

Call an employment attorney in your area. Good luck.


You can file a wage claim one second after not being paid on time, though you may want to wait 30 days to make the claim. California law requires employers to pay employees according to a pre-determined schedule.

FOR CURRENT EMPLOYEES, Labor Code section 204 requires all of the following:

1. Employers must establish regular pay dates and provide notice of these dates to all employees.

2. Employers must pay employees at least twice per month.

3. For work performed between the 1st and 15th of the month, the employer must pay employees between the 16th and 26th days of the same month.

4. For work performed between the 16th of the month and the last day of the month, the employer must pay employees between the 1st and 10th of the following month.

5. Some executive, administrative and professional employees may be paid only once per month, on or before the 26th of each month; this must include pay for work that will be performed between the 26th and the end of the month.

6. Employees who are paid weekly, biweekly or semimonthly must be paid within seven calendar days of the close of the payroll period.

7. Scheduled overtime must be paid per the requirements listed above. Unscheduled overtime must be paid no later than the following pay date.

Some types of pay have different pay requirements. For example, per the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) Enforcement Manual section 5.2.4:

1. Commissions must be paid when they are reasonably calculable.

2. Bonuses must be paid on the first regular pay date following the date upon which the bonus is calculated. For example, a quarterly bonus must be paid on the first pay date after the end of the quarter.

FOR EMPLOYEES WHOSE EMPLOYMENT IS ENDING, Labor Code sections 201, 202 and 203 require the following:

1. If the employer ends the employment relationship, the employer must pay everything owed to the employee at the time of termination, including all accumulated wages, overtime, vacation and PTO. (Labor Code section 201)

2. However, for seasonal employees working in curing, canning, or drying perishable fruit, fish or vegetables, the employer has 72 hours to make full payment.

3. If the employee ends the employment relationship without notice, the employer has 72 hours to pay the employees in full, including all accumulated wages, overtime, vacation and PTO. (Labor Code section 202)

4. If an employer does not pay an employee whose employment has ended as required, then the employer is subjected to a penalty for late payment. The penalty is that the wages of the employee continue in full as if the employee were still working from the date of termination to the date paid in full, for a maximum of 30 days. (Labor Code section 203) [So if you wait 30 days to file your claim, you may end up getting paid for those 30 days.]

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:

@MikaSpencer * * * PLEASE READ: 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 must not be taken as legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts which are impossible to gather on a public web site like Avvo. * * * No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. * * *


Ms. Spencer has provided a very comprehensive response.

The issue that you articulate in your question, and similar circumstances, is something that we see with resident managers. You might consider contacting an experienced employment law attorney to discuss your matter. Check the attorney list at


I agree with both my colleagues, especially Ms. Spencer's detailed response.

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