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Is it true that not paying a labor board award to an employee is a misdemeanor in California?

Palo Alto, CA |

I recently won a California Labor Board case. It appears as if the defendant has not appealed; however, the award has not been paid. Another Avvo Lawyer stated that "Under a new law, it is a misdemeanor to fail willfully to pay DLSE awards within 90 days. If it has not paid within 9i0 (sic) days, you can call the district attorney. " Is this true? I know that I have to wait for the Award to be entered at the Superior Court and then I can try to collect. Can I really just call the DA if I have not received payment after 90 days?

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Attorney answers 3

Best Answer

California Labor Code Section 216 makes it a misdemeanor for "any person, or an agent, manager, superintendent, or officer thereof...who has the ability to pay wages due and payable after demand has been made." This also makes it a misdemeanor to falsly deny the wages that are owed. Criminal prosecution however will be handled by the DIstrict Attorney or Department of Justice, If you have an award from the Labor Board in the form of a judgment, you may commence collection actions on the employer which would be an appropriate thing to do. Consult a local labor attorney regarding your specific issues.


Yes, your employer's failure to pay wages due is a criminal offense. You can report this, like any crime, to the police. They may take action, or not, depending on their priorities, over which you have no influence. Meanwhile, you can proceed to collect your award. But, you must not mix these two things up. You must not call the employer and threaten to report the crime unless they pay the civil judgment. That, too, is, at least arguably, unlawful (extortion). Your situation illustrates an unfortunate reality: just because you have an order doesn't mean the employer will pay. The employer may be broke, and simply unable to pay. Good luck!

This response creates no attorney client relationship; consult a local lawyer for help if you proceed.

Jon Anthony Dieringer

Jon Anthony Dieringer


Great Advice! Yes, it is a crime, but don't threaten them with it or it is blackmail!! There are many ways to collect, too. For those broke employers, try to get installment payments. Good luck!!


That is true. "An employer may be criminally liable for a misdemeanor for the willful refusal to pay a final court judgment or final order for wages by the Labor Commissioner within ninety (90) days. Each offense carries a minimum $1,000 fine or minimum six (6) months of imprisonment. If the total wages due are more than $1,000, the minimum fine per offense is $10,000 and an employer may be subject to both the fine and imprisonment." See the following link: and also this link: chrome-extension://oemmndcbldboiebfnladdacbdfmadadm/

Goodluck! I also agree with the other attorneys responses. Please see the other attorneys' responses on this forum.

*Disclaimer: This response does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and I. I am not your lawyer and I am not representing you in the underlying issue stated in your question. The response I have offered is not intended to be relied upon, you should seek out an attorney to assist in this matter. You may contact me directly at (415) 362-6765 ext.120; website: (Attorney for Law Offices of William E. Weiss)