DLSE Hearings for Wage Claims in Los Angeles County California
It is important for business owners in California to be aware and understand the system of wage claims filed by employees before the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). This state-agency is responsible in enforcing the rules and regulation on wage-hour as guaranteed by the California Lab
DLSE OverviewThe DLSE implements the provisions of California Labor Code including the wage orders stipulated by the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) that was established in 1913. The wage orders administer the labor compensations in occupations and industries in California. Since July 1, 2004, California law already defunded the IWC but still the wage orders still has the force of law.The jurisdiction of DLSE covers employees and employers and cannot wield its power over parties who have signed into a contract. DLSE has no jurisdiction to employers who are working outside California as well as particular government agencies.
Procedures on Dispute Resolution and DLSE HearingThe DLSE arbitrate wage claims in hearings presided by deputy Labor Commissioners or hearing officers, and may be invoked upon to issue the decision itself. Also, the DLSE investigates complaints on public works and discrimination. Its power includes the authority to inspect workplaces, subpoena witnesses and documents and perform examinations. Within the 30-day period of filing complaints, it is mandated that DLSE inform the parties whether the agency could act further. Based on the Labor Code, the DLSE has three options: accept the case and call administrative conference (aka Berman hearing), enforce a civil action to collect the wages and other payables to the complainant arising from employee-employer relationship, and lastly, take no action on the case. More often than not, the DLSE provides the employer with notice of the wage claim filed by the claimant with enough time period to respond to the complaint through formal writing. At this point, the plaintiff can cease the action by simply paying the amount filed for claims.Conciliation ConferenceOnce the employer does not agree to pay the money or does not respond, it is an act of disputing the claim. In general, the DLSE will call for a conciliation conference. If the employer does not attend, the case will be scheduled for a formal hearing, but the claim of the employee must be meritorious. On the other hand, if the claimant does not attend at the conference, or if the claim is obviously lacking in merit, the claim could be dismissed without prejudice. This means that the same claim could be filed in DLSE on the same grounds.If the person who filed the complaint appears in the conciliation conference and the claim has arguable merit based on the evaluation of the Deputy Labor Commissioner, the DLSE will encourage both parties for a settlement. In reaching a settlement, the DLSE will release a document that will be signed by the parties once payment has been made. If both parties have not reached any settlement, the dispute claims will be scheduled for formal hearing.
Berman HearingThe Berman Hearing is usually called for if the DLSE decides to accept the case and perform administrative conference. The hearing will be held within 90 days. This is designed for fast, informal and cheap method of reaching a resolution except for complicated wage claims. Within the 15-day period after the hearing, the DLSE must file and serve a copy of the order, decision and the award. Both parties still have the right to appeal within 10 days after the notice of decision. The appeal should be filed to a municipal court, wherein the case will be reviewed de novo, which means anew.