Sorry for the delay (buried).
Because you were "working," you remain subject to the workers' compensation (WC) laws. The WC laws provide an employer with absolute immunity from liability for any injury caused to an employee. All injuries must be processed through the Department of Workers' Compensation. The only exception is where an employer willfully and maliciously injures an employee (e.g., physical assault, attempted murder, etc.).
Unfortunately, while I understand and empathize with your circumstances, California law, and actually, the law of every other U.S. jurisdiction, uniformily would bar your proposed legal action. If you are so severely injured by the mental distress of being forced to work without pay, then you can file a workers compensation claim (DWC-1
). But, you cannot sue -- the case would be dismissed by the court.
Please don't shoot the messenger here. I'm really trying to help, but I don't want you running off on a wild goose chase, either.
Hope this helps.