How to File a Labor Board Complaint in California [2023] (2023)

A California labor board complaint is a process whereby employees can report their employers to a state agency for various labor law violations.

The State of California has over 200 administrative agencies, of which only a small portion investigate and handle complaints of labor law violations.

Employees often refer to agencies that handle workplace disputes and complaints as “labor boards,” although there is no agency in California with that specific name.

Most “labor board” complaints in California will fall under the jurisdiction of either:

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about filing a California labor board complaint with both of these agencies.

Jump to Topic hide

What Types of California Labor Board Complaints Can You File?

What Type of Labor Board Complaints Does the California Labor Commissioner’s Office Handle?

What does the California Labor Commissioner’s Office Do?

(Video) Labor Law Update 2023 | Employment Law Update 2023 | Employment Law Attorney

How to File a Complaint Against Your Employer with the California Labor Commissioner’s Office

What Type of Labor Board Complaints Does the California Civil Rights Department Handle?

What does the California Civil Rights Department do?

How to File a Complaint with the California Civil Rights Department

How Long Do You Have to File a Complaint Against Your Employer for Unpaid Wages?

How Long Do You Have to File a Complaint Against Your Employer for Retaliation, Discrimination or Harassment?

Get Help With Your Labor Law Complaint – Speak to a California Employment Law Attorney Today

(Video) 3 easy steps to write an effective complaint.

What Types of California Labor Board Complaints Can You File?

While there can be a variety of labor law violations that may be reported to a California state agency, the most common examples of complaints are:

  • Unpaid wages or overtime pay
  • Discrimination in the workplace (e.g., on the basis of age, gender, religion, race/ethnicity)
  • Harassment in the workplace (including sexual, age, and racial harassment)
  • Retaliation against an employee who reported a workplace violation

Employment law violations are taken quite seriously in California, and it is important to understand that stiff penalties can be imposed on employers who break the law.

If you have any questions about filing a labor board complaint or what types of complaints are appropriate for your situation, we recommend consulting with one of our California employment lawyers.

What Type of Labor Board Complaints Does the California Labor Commissioner’s Office Handle?

The California Labor Commissioner’s Office is primarily responsible for enforcing laws and regulationsthat govern the payment of minimum wage and overtime, child labor, meal breaks and rest periods, sick pay (paid family leave), paid family time, special leaves of absence, and other state-specific regulations.

Some common forms of unpaid wage violations, which the Labor Commissioner’s Office typically handles, include:

  • Being paid less than minimum wage per hour
  • Not receiving the agreed-upon compensation (including overtime on commissions, piece rate, and normal pay)
  • Not accruing or being denied the use of paid sick leave
  • Not receiving promised vacation days or bonuses
  • Not being permitted to take meal or rest breaks, as well as preventative cool-down breaks
  • Tips being stolen by the employer or manager
  • Failure to reimburse valid business expenses
  • Having money deducted from your paycheck without your authorization
  • Bounced paychecks
  • Not being compensated for split shift premiums
  • Failure to make personnel files and payroll records accessible on time
  • Not receiving Reporting Time Pay
  • Not receiving final wages in a timely manner
  • Deductions from your pay that you did not authorize

An employee is not limited to bringing a wage theft or unpaid wage complaint to the Labor Commissioner’s Office. An employee can also file these complaints:

Since each labor law violation is handled by a different agency, it’s important to figure out which agency handles a particular issue before filing your complaint. An experienced California employment law attorneycan help you identify the appropriate state agency and inform you of your rights and options.

Note: If you are experiencing a labor law violation, it’s important to take action as soon as possible. Failure to file your complaint within the specified time frame can drastically limit what remedies and compensation you may be entitled to.

If you need help filing a labor board complaint in California, we recommend reaching out to our law firm. We can assist you throughout the process and ensure your rights are fully protected.

How to File a Labor Board Complaint in California [2023] (1)

What does the California Labor Commissioner’s Office Do?

The California Labor Commissioner’s Office is responsible for enforcing state employment laws. This includes investigating complaints related to pay, hours, working conditions, and other rights guaranteed by law. Depending on the nature of your complaint and the outcome of the investigation, you may be entitled to various forms of compensation including unpaid wages (including commissions or bonuses), overtime pay, sick leave, vacation days, and more.

The Labor Commissioner’s Office is also responsible for handling some forms of employer retaliation claims. For example, if your employer has wrongfully terminated youor taken other adverse actions against you for filing a complaint, the Labor Commissioner’s Office has the power to investigate your claim and provide legal recourse for any violations.

Workers are not limited to filing wage theft or other labor violations with the Labor Commissioner’s Office. If you have a legitimate wage and hour complaint, you can also file your complaint:

Note: A lawsuit is different from a labor board complaint. A complaint is typically a shorter, simpler process that is handled by the state or federal agency responsible for the relevant labor law. A lawsuit (also known as a civil claim) is a separate legal process that helps employees recover the compensation to which they are entitled.

Each legal route has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to understand which process is likely to suit your needs before filing a complaint.

(Video) Employee Records Demand

How to File a Complaint Against Your Employer with the California Labor Commissioner’s Office

Once you have gathered the necessary documentation and evidence about your employer’s violation, you can file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner’s Office byemail, mail or in person.

You will need to download a claim form, complete the form, and mail or fax it to the nearest regional office of the Labor Commissioner’s Office.

In addition, you can file a wage claim online. Here are instructions on how to file a wage claim online.

IMPORTANT: Before you file your complaint, you should consult with an experienced California employment law attorney. The Labor Commissioner’s Office is a state agency tasked with enforcing labor laws. As such, they have limited authority over cases involving violations of federal or other state employment laws.

In addition to helping you understand your rights and options under the law, an experienced lawyer can help prepare your claim for maximum success. This is particularly important if you plan to file a lawsuit against your employer later down the line, as a knowledgeable attorney can help ensure that any evidence you submit during the Labor Commissioner’s Office investigation will be admissible in court.

What Type of Labor Board Complaints Does the California Civil Rights Department Handle?

The California Civil Rights Department (CRD), previously known as the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), is a state agency in California that investigates and addresses complaints of discrimination and harassment.

You can file a complaint with the CRD if you believe that an employer or potential employer has violated your civil rights on the basis of:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex (including sexual harassment)
  • National Origin (including language barriers)
  • Disability (mental or physical)
  • Pregnancy
  • Age (40 or older)
  • Marital Status / Registered Domestic Partner Status (including same-sex relationships)
  • or Medical Conditions.

In addition, employees are not limited to filing discrimination or harassment complaints with the CRD. They can also raise these employment disputes:

Discrimination and harassment in the workplace are prohibited by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). This law protects employees from being treated unfairly or harassed based on the characteristics listed above.

Since there are a variety of different state and federal agencies where an employee can file a harassment or discrimination complaint, it’s important to choose the right legal route based on your specific situation and goals.

If you are facing discrimination or harassment in the workplace, you should consult with a skilled California employment law attorneywho can help you understand your options and choose the right strategy.

What does the California Civil Rights Department do?

The mission of the Department is to protect and safeguard the rights of all persons to be free from unlawful discrimination. This is done through the investigation and resolution of complaints alleging unlawful discrimination, and by providing technical assistance and training to prevent discriminatory practices.

These laws safeguard people from being unfairly treated in their places of work, homes, services, and public accommodations based on race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, medical condition, marital status, sex, age, or physical disability, and denial of family care leave.

How to File a Complaint with the California Civil Rights Department

When an employee files a discrimination complaint with the California Civil Rights Department, the CRD will investigate their claim to determine whether it’s legitimate. If the CRD accepts the complaint, they will continue further investigations into the potential labor law violation(s).

(Video) California's 2023 employment laws explained: minimum wage increases, workers rights

The CRD will interview the employee and any witnesses, evaluate evidence, and take other actions. They may attempt to mediate a resolution between the employer and employee, or they may initiate administrative proceedings (legal action) that could lead to penalties against the offending party.

If you believe you were the victim of either workplace harassment or discrimination, you can contact the CRD:

If you choose to take this route, the CRD will need you to gather the following:

  • Any and all records detailing the incident(s), including but not limited to: the name and contact information of anyone you believe harmed you.
  • Any documents or other pieces of evidence that relate to your complaint.
  • The names and contact information of any known witnesses.

For employment cases, you must file a complaint with the CRD within three (3) years to the date of the alleged discrimination, harassment or retaliation.

Note: To file your own lawsuit in court, you must first obtain a Right-to-Sue notice from CRD. If you would rather bypass the CRD investigation process and go straight to filing suit, you can request an immediate Right-To-Sue notice.

Because every labor law violation or discrimination case is one-of-a-kind, to improve your chances of winning and getting the money you deserve, it’s important to file a complaint or lawsuit with a court that can completely and impartially look at your situation.

Sometimes filing a complaint with the CRD is not enough to resolve your situation, and you’ll need to take things further. In this case, it’s in your best interest to consult with a qualified California labor law attorneywho can help you file suit against your employer and aggressively advocate on your behalf throughout the process.

Your attorney can help you gather the evidence and information needed to file your complaint and support you throughout a potentially lengthy legal battle. They will also be well-versed in California employment law, so they’ll know exactly how to build a strong case that maximizes your chances of winning or obtaining a favorable settlement.

How Long Do You Have to File a Complaint Against Your Employer for Unpaid Wages?

It’s important to remember that there are time limits, or “statutes of limitations”, for filing a wage claim. This means that if you do not file your claim within the required time period, you may lose your right to sue for unpaid wages.

There are different time limits depending on the type of claim:

  • You must file a claim within 1 year when dealing with a bounced check or a failure to provide access to pay stub information.
  • You must file a claim within 2 years for an oral promise to be paid more than minimum wage.
  • You must file a claim within 3 years for any violation of minimum wage, overtime, unpaid rest and meal breaks, sick leave, illegal deductions from pay or unpaid reimbursements
  • You must file a claim within 4 years when dealing with a written contract.

How Long Do You Have to File a Complaint Against Your Employer for Retaliation, Discrimination or Harassment?

Complaints of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation are subject to different time limits than other claims.

Complaints must be filed within one (1) year of the last incident of intent or retaliation. The only exception to the rule is:

  • Whistleblowers retaliated – within 90 days
  • Equal Pay Act violations – within two years (three years if willful) of the violation

The California Labor Commissioner’s Office recommendsthat all employees consult with an attorney if they have experienced any form of workplace discrimination, harassment or retaliation. An attorney can help you ensure that your claim is filed within the correct time period and in compliance with state and federal law.

Get Help With Your Labor Law Complaint – Speak to a California Employment Law Attorney Today

For additional help with your labor law complaint or with filing an employment lawsuit, contact the experienced California employment law attorneysat the Eldessouky Law today.

(Video) 2023 New Employment Laws What Employers Need to Know. Recorded December 1, 2022

We offer free no obligation consultations to help you get started, and we can review your case and help you determine the best course of action for resolving your situation.

We have a history of obtaining successful outcomes for our clients, including millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements.

Contact our office at 714-409-8991 orfill out one of our contact forms online.


How to file a complaint with the Department of labor in California? ›

Call the LETF Public hotline anytime: 855 297 5322. Complete the Online Form / Spanish Form. Email us at

How do I win a labor dispute? ›

In California, workers can win a wage claim by timely filing the claim with the Labor Commissioner's Office, providing documentation of the missing payments, and presenting a strong case at the settlement conference and the wage claim hearing.

Where do I report Labour issues? ›

How to Report Unfair Labour Practices? Unfair labour practices must be reported to the CCMA using the LRA 7.11 form, which is downloadable from the CCMA website. The form must be completed and handed in to the Regional Office of the CCMA in the area where the dispute originated.

What is a dir complaint? ›

Employees, former employees, and applicants for employment who suffer retaliation or discrimination by their employer because they engaged in an activity protected by a law under the jurisdiction of the Labor Commissioner may file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner's Office.

What are some examples of unfair labor practices? ›

Examples include:
  • Refusing to process a grievance because an employee is not a union member.
  • Threatening an employee for filing a ULP charge.
  • Refusing to negotiate in good faith with an agency.
  • Calling, participating in, or supporting a strike, work stoppage, or slowdown.

What is an example of unfair treatment at work? ›

Here are just a few examples of unfair treatment at work:

Creating offensive comments, emails or social media posts about an employee. Demoting, transferring, or dismissing an employee without a fair, disciplinary process. Paying women lower wages for doing the same job, because of their sex.

What are the 3 main ways labor management disputes can be solved? ›

Here's a review of the three basic types of dispute resolution to consider:
  • Mediation. The goal of mediation is for a neutral third party to help disputants come to a consensus on their own. ...
  • Arbitration. In arbitration, a neutral third party serves as a judge who is responsible for resolving the dispute. ...
  • Litigation.
Oct 10, 2022

What is the most common cause of labor disputes? ›

One of the biggest causes of labor dispute involves disagreements in pay expectations. Compensation is the perceived value of an employee's labor. The organization and the employee may have different expectations or evaluations of compensation, often leading to labor disputes.

How can labor problems be resolved? ›

How can the shortage of labor be overcome?
  1. Recruiting: More Referrals = Better Employees.
  2. Optimize the Onboarding Experience.
  3. Make Training an Ongoing Process.
  4. Provide Context Around Why Policies and Processes Change.
  5. Better Scheduling for Better Lives.
  6. Build Better Teams Through Better Communication.
  7. Recognize and Reward.
Aug 22, 2022

What is an unfair labour practice complaint? ›

An unfair labour practice complaint is an allegation that an employer, a trade union or an individual has engaged in an activity that involved prohibited conduct under the Canada Labour Code (Part I–Industrial Relations).

What is the penalty for unfair labour practice? ›

Any person who commits any unfair labor practice shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 6 months or with fine which may extend to Rs. 1000/- or with both.

How do I register a labour complaint? ›

Contact the MOHRE call centre at 80060. The customer care representative will answer your queries and try to handle the complaint. If they cannot address your concerns straight away, your complaint will be forwarded to the Department of Complaints and Advice. If resolved by the department, the case will be closed.

What makes a strong retaliation case? ›

A strong retaliation case must show 3 things: An employee faced discrimination or harassment in the workplace. They reported the incident. The employee was then fired, demoted, or otherwise punished for their complaint.

What are examples of retaliation? ›

Some examples of retaliation would be a termination or failure to hire, a demotion, a decrease in pay, a decrease in the number of hours that you've worked. The cause will be obvious things such as a reprimand, a warning or lowering of your evaluation scores.

How do you prove retaliation in the workplace in California? ›

In order to prove that you are facing retaliation at the workplace, you must be able to show direct evidence or circumstantial evidence that you experienced or witnessed a form of harassment or discrimination, that you participated in a protected activity after your employer's illegal activity, and that you were ...

What is your boss not allowed to do? ›

Not pay you overtime or minimum wage. Promise a job to an unpaid intern. Discriminate against workers. Allow you to work off the clock.

What are unfair labor practices in California? ›

What is an Unfair Practice?
  • coercive questioning of employees regarding their union activity;
  • threatening employees or discriminating against employees because they participated in union activities;
  • promising benefits to employees if they refuse to participate in union activity.
Feb 15, 2021

What are my rights as an employee in California? ›

The right to be paid fair wages for the work that is performed. The right to a work environment that is free of harassment and discrimination of all types. The right to not be retaliated against for filing a complaint against an employer.

What are 5 rights of an employee? ›

To be paid the agreed wage on the agreed date and at the agreed time. To be provided with appropriate resources and equipment to enable him/her to do the job. To have safe working conditions. To fair labour practices.

How do you prove a hostile work environment? ›

Generally, to prove a hostile workplace claim you must show that: you were harassed because of a protected characteristic. the harassment was unwelcome. the harassment was so pervasive or severe as to create an abusive work environment.

What are the signs of a hostile work environment? ›

Signs of a Hostile Work Environment
  • Repeated comments or jokes about a protected characteristic (e.g., race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity)
  • Displaying offensive symbols or pictures.
  • Threatening or intimidating behavior.
  • Physical assaults or unwanted touching.
  • Sexual harassment.
Jun 29, 2022

What are four unfair labor practices by management? ›

What is an unfair labor practice by management?
  • Interference, restraint, or coercion. ...
  • Employer domination or support of a labor organization. ...
  • Discrimination on the basis of labor activity. ...
  • Discrimination in retaliation for going to the NLRB. ...
  • Refusal to bargain.

What are the 4 types of disputes? ›

  • Family Disputes.
  • Commercial Disputes.
  • Industrial Disputes.
  • Property Disputes.
Jan 18, 2021

What is the simplest method to resolve disputes? ›

Negotiation is the preeminent mode of dispute resolution. While the two most known forms of ADR are arbitration and mediation, negotiation is almost always attempted first to resolve a dispute. Negotiation allows the parties to meet in order to settle a dispute.

What were the three unfair labor practices? ›

Common Examples of Unfair Labor Practices in the Workplace

Firing older workers to replace them with younger and cheaper employees. Unequal pay for employees in the same job. Making offensive comments directed at certain employees.

What are the three types of labour disputes? ›

“Method of resolution of labour dispute” Method of resolution of labour disputes are divided into three categories, direct negotiation between labour and management, third party intervention, and others.

What is an example of a labor dispute? ›

Modern Labor Disputes

This can occur if, for example, management refuses to acknowledge employee representatives or otherwise interferes with the organization of a union or the election of union officials. However, most often, labor disputes arise over wage and benefit negotiations.

How can I make my labor progress faster? ›

Powerful Positions that Can Help Speed Up Labor
  1. Standing Upright. ...
  2. Circling on an Exercise Ball. ...
  3. "Sifting" with a Rebozo. ...
  4. Toilet Sitting. ...
  5. Squatting. ...
  6. Laboring in a Tub.
Feb 22, 2017

What is conciliation in labour law? ›

What is conciliation? Ans. Participation by a third party in a industrial dispute between management and its employees in order to bring them together to resolve their differences is termed mediation or conciliation.

What is dispute between employer and employer? ›

Answer 1 : Industrial Dispute means any dispute or differences between employers and employers or between employers and workmen or between workmen and workmen which is connected with the employment or non-employment or the terms of employment or with the conditions of labour of any person.

What considered unfair? ›

Unfair treatment can take many forms. It can include illegal harassment and discrimination based on a “protected characteristic” such as age, disability, pregnancy, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religion, color, nationality, or sex.

What is the violation of labor rights? ›

States also have labor regulations that employers must follow. Employers should be knowledgeable about employees' rights to avoid violating them. Common rights violations are discrimination, wage miscalculations, sexual harassment and whistleblowing.

How do I complain about unfair treatment? ›

If you think you have been treated unfairly, you need to know what you can do about it, and how to report it.
  1. Check your employer's policy on unfair treatment at work.
  2. Consider talking to the person concerned.
  3. Raise the matter informally.
  4. Making a formal complaint about unfair treatment at work.
  5. Appealing the decision.

What is the most severe penalty that a company can impose on an employee? ›

Dismissal from employment is the supreme penalty that may be imposed by an employer against an employee, and is justified only on the most serious of offenses.

Can I take my employer to court for unfair treatment? ›

It might be against the law if you're being treated unfairly or differently at work because of who you are, such as being disabled or being a woman. If it is, you can complain to your employer or take them to an employment tribunal.

Who is liable for committing unfair labour practice? ›

25-T. Prohibition of unfair labour practice . —No employer or workman or a trade union, whether registered under the Trade Unions Act, 1926 (18 of 1926), or not, shall commit any unfair labour practice.

How do I file a complaint with respectfully? ›

How to write an effective complaint letter
  1. Be clear and concise. ...
  2. State exactly what you want done and how long you're willing to wait for a response. ...
  3. Don't write an angry, sarcastic, or threatening letter. ...
  4. Include copies of relevant documents, like receipts, work orders, and warranties.
Sep 4, 2015

How long does a Labour court case take? ›

Disciplinary Hearings are usually resolved within a week. However once your case is referred to the CCMA, or Bargaining Council, the process generally 6-8 weeks from the date of referral.

What is direct evidence of retaliation? ›

Generally, courts have defined direct evidence of retaliation as evidence which proves the existence of a retaliatory motive without inference or presumption.

Is intimidation a form of retaliation? ›

Intimidation and retaliation are distinct charges that are often confused. Intimidation and retaliation are often charged in the same set of circumstances. The differences between these two charges are important to distinguish when building a strong defense. Intimidation tries to stop someone from doing something.

What are three actions that constitute retaliation? ›

Retaliation could take many forms, but in general has three elements:
  • Adverse action is taken against an individual;
  • Who has engaged in a protected activity; and.
  • There is a causal connection between the adverse action and the protected activity.

What is subtle retaliation? ›

Subtle retaliation, however, involves a more indirect way of engaging in actions that are averse to an employee. Subtle actions can be more difficult to recognize as retaliation, but these behaviors can still be retaliatory.

What is an example of unlawful retaliation? ›

Any of the following conduct could constitute unlawful retaliation: Denying an employee a promotion. Denying an employee a reasonable request for a transfer to a new position or more convenient location. Denying an employee a bonus or other benefit.

What are signs of retaliation in the workplace? ›

Retaliation in The Workplace
  • Give a performance evaluation that's lower than it should be; passed over for a promotion/raise.
  • Transfer the employee to a less desirable position/shift.
  • Cut an employee's hours or pay.
  • engage in verbal or physical abuse;
  • Increase scrutiny.
  • Termination/suspension.
Dec 20, 2022

What qualifies as retaliation? ›

What is retaliation? Retaliation occurs when an employer (through a manager, supervisor, administrator or directly) fires an employee or takes any other type of adverse action against an employee for engaging in protected activity.

What constitutes hostile work environment in California? ›

In California, a hostile work environment typically refers to a workplace in which sexual harassment is present, severe, distracting to the victim's job duties, physically threatening or unrelenting.

How do you address a fear of retaliation in the workplace? ›

Ways to Protect Your Team From Fear of Retaliation
  1. Raise awareness of laws against workplace retaliation.
  2. Abide by company policy to file a grievance related to the retaliation if necessary.
  3. Invest in a meaningful ethics program.
  4. Have a strong support system.
Apr 28, 2022

Can I sue my employer for not paying me correctly California? ›

IF YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED WAGE THEFT, FILE A WAGE CLAIM WITH THE LABOR COMMISSIONER. You must file claims for violations of minimum wage, overtime, illegal deductions from pay or unpaid reimbursements within three years. You must file claims based on an oral promise to pay more than minimum wage within two years.

What can you sue an employer for in California? ›

Grounds For Lawsuit Against Employers In California
  • Disability discrimination.
  • Pregnancy discrimination.
  • Retaliation against employees.
  • Marital status discrimination.
  • Sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • FMLA discrimination.
  • LGTBQ discrimination.
  • Religious beliefs discrimination.
Dec 22, 2022

What is the most common complaint filed with CRD? ›

While the California Labor Commissioner's Office hears mostly disputes involving wage and hour claims, the CRD's most common complaints involve employment discrimination and harassment.

How do I file a complaint against my employer in the dole? ›

  1. You may call DOLE Hotline: 1349.
  2. Submit a query.


1. 2023 Labor Law Update
(O2 Employment Services)
2. How To File A Lawsuit In Los Angeles County
(Reed & Garcia Law, PC)
3. Fired Tesla workers complain to labor board over alleged union retaliation
(Yahoo Finance)
4. California Employment Law Update, 2023
(Schneiders & Associates, L.L.P.)
5. What Employers Need to Know for 2023 - Part 1: Fair Labor Standards Act - Compliance Issues
6. FEHA and Common Employer Mistakes Explained by a CA Employment Lawyer | Termination Violations
(Employment Law for California Employers)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Frankie Dare

Last Updated: 03/19/2023

Views: 6267

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (53 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Frankie Dare

Birthday: 2000-01-27

Address: Suite 313 45115 Caridad Freeway, Port Barabaraville, MS 66713

Phone: +3769542039359

Job: Sales Manager

Hobby: Baton twirling, Stand-up comedy, Leather crafting, Rugby, tabletop games, Jigsaw puzzles, Air sports

Introduction: My name is Frankie Dare, I am a funny, beautiful, proud, fair, pleasant, cheerful, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.