Technically, you do not need a lawyer to represent you in a wage claim before the California Labor Commissioner (aka CA Labor Board). But here are some reasons why you may want to consider getting competent legal representation at a wage claim.
Having a lawyer represent you at the wage claim hearing can be very valuable — and can make the difference between whether you are able to prove your case.
Many people who represent themselves in a wage claim do not know exactly how much they are owed, so they end up getting less than what they could have received. If you have a good wage claim lawyer, he or she will know what you are owed and what types of penalties you may be able to get too. This could mean the difference of thousands of dollars.
Wage claim lawyers know the system — and often they know the Deputy Labor Commissioner who is handling your case — because they deal with Labor Board wage claims every day. This insider knowledge of the system can help their clients because ultimately it is the Deputy who decides whether your case will proceed to a hearing. Having a good wage claim lawyer on your side can help sway the Deputy to let your case proceed.
If your case goes to a hearing, having a wage claim lawyer represent you can help dramatically. For all intents and purposes, the wage claim hearing is a trial, but instead of a jury of your peers, a Deputy Labor Commissioner will hear the case and decide whether you win or lose. You have to put on witnesses, cross-examine the witnesses put on by your employer, make opening and closing arguments. These are all things that wage claim lawyers have been trained to do. But most non-lawyers haven’t had that same training. Having a lawyer represent you at the wage claim hearing can be very valuable — and can make the difference between whether you are able to prove your case.
Many people who represented themselves in their Labor Board wage claim come to us after the Labor Commissioner has either thrown out their case or decided against them at the wage claim hearing. The story is usually the same: they had great cases, but their employer was represented by a lawyer who out-maneuvered the employee and won the case for the employer. If most of these folks had a wage claim lawyer, they might have been able to win their wage claim.
Sometimes when you have a lawyer, you can avoid filing a wage claim altogether. We often negotiate and resolve wage claims without ever filing them.
There are many more reasons to hire a lawyer for your wage claim. If you are seeking representation for your California wage claim, contact us immediately. We represent people like you in wage claims all over California.