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You should act swiftly if you intend to sue or submit a wage claim. If your statutory rights—such as the right to overtime pay, breaks, or minimum wage—have been violated, you have up to three years to initiate a case.

Penalties for infringing on these rights are subject to the same time frame, sometimes known as a “statute of limitations.” You have four years to file a case if an employment contract was written and only two years if it was an oral contract. 

For instance, your employer promised to pay you $15 an hour but only paid you $10 hourly. As soon as you realize that you are due unpaid wages, it is best to pursue your claim as soon as possible with help from an unpaid wages attorney in California.

Settlement Agreements for Unpaid Wages: Understanding the Process

Needless to say, unpaid wages can cause a significant financial strain on employees and may lead to disputes with employers. When faced with this situation, it’s essential to know how settlement agreements work.

That way, you can resolve these types of wage conflicts and receive the compensation you’re owed. 

A settlement agreement for unpaid wages is a legally binding contract between an employee and employer, outlining the terms under which the employee agrees to receive a specified amount of money as compensation for their outstanding wages or any money the employer owes.

This agreement typically includes a release clause, preventing the employee from taking further legal action against the employer related to an unpaid wage dispute.

Your Right to File a Claim in California

As a worker in California, you have the right to file a wage claim if your employer does not pay you for wages or benefits owed. You’ll need to work with a lawyer to ensure the process is successful. 

You’ll also need to initially submit your claim to the Labor Commissioner’s Office

Types of Supporting Documents You’ll Need

You’ll require supporting documentation when filing a claim. This may include the following copies of documents:

  • Time records with hours and dates worked
  • Pay stubs and paychecks for the claim period, including bounced paychecks (with reasons from the bank for the NSF)
  • Notice of employment data, including pay rate, overtime pay, and how you’re paid (hourly, daily, weekly, or by salary)
  • Collective bargaining agreement (for a union contract)

Once you file a wage claim and submit your supporting documents, you can schedule a settlement conference. This will allow you to set up a wage claim hearing if you don’t reach an agreement. If you don’t attend the hearing, your claim will be dismissed. 

How Does the Settlement Agreement Process Work?

While every situation is unique, there are general steps followed when pursuing a settlement agreement for unpaid wages:

  • Identifying the issue: The employee must first identify that there is an unpaid wages dispute and gather evidence to support their claims, such as pay stubs, timesheets, or employment contracts.
  • Communicating with the employer: The employee should communicate their concerns about unpaid wages to their employer and provide an opportunity for the employer to resolve the issue voluntarily.
  • Legal consultation: If the issue is not resolved, it’s wise for the employee to consult with an attorney familiar with employment law and unpaid wage disputes. The attorney will assess the case’s strength and advise on the best course of action, such as pursuing a settlement agreement.
  • Negotiating the settlement: Both parties, often with legal representation, will engage in negotiations to reach a mutual agreement on the settlement terms. This includes deciding on financial compensation, confidentiality clauses, and any other relevant conditions.
  • Signing the agreement: If both parties come to terms on a settlement agreement, it will be signed by both employee and employer (or their representatives) and become legally binding.

What Happens When a Settlement Agreement Isn’t Reached

If no settlement is reached and a hearing is called, a hearing officer will make a decision on your claim 15 days after the meeting. The decision is called an ODA, short for Order, Decision, or Award. This decision is filed with the Labor Commissioner’s Office before it is mailed to you and your employer.

settlement agreement of unpaid wages california

Either party has the right to appeal the decision or file their appeal 15 days from the mail certification date. When an appeal is filed, the case moves to a local California county Superior Court.

Why Choose a Settlement Agreement?

There are several reasons why both parties may opt for a settlement agreement over going to court:

1. Faster resolution: Reaching a settlement agreement can be a quicker way to resolve unpaid wage disputes. Legal proceedings may take months or even years to conclude, whereas settlements can be finalized in a much shorter time.

2. Lower costs: Both parties can save money when resolving their differences through settlement, as they avoid costly legal fees and other expenses associated with court proceedings.

3. Confidentiality: Settlement agreements are often confidential, protecting both the employer’s reputation and the employee’s privacy.

4. Control over outcome: Unlike court judgments, which are decided by judges or juries, parties in the negotiation process control settlement agreements. This allows for more flexibility in reaching an amicable resolution.

Contact a San Diego Unpaid Wages Lawyer Today

Settlement agreements for unpaid wages can provide an effective way for employees to receive fair compensation while avoiding lengthy court battles. It’s crucial for employees to understand their rights, consult with legal experts when necessary, and approach negotiations in good faith when seeking a resolution. 

Ultimately, settlement agreements can benefit both parties by saving time and money while providing closure on these types of challenging employment disputes. Your go-to law firm in California is the Mara Law Firm. Set up a consultation right away if you have unpaid wages that your employer owes.

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