I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your company's situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today.
All wage/benefit claim cases, once they have been appealed completely through the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE
) system, may then be appealed to the state courts. As I don't know where in the system your case is at present, I will outline the process for you, and suggest when you will need an attorney.
After a wage claim is completed and filed with a local office of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), it will be assigned to a Deputy Labor Commissioner who will determine, based upon the circumstances of the claim and information presented, how best to proceed. Initial action taken regarding the claim can be (i) referral to a conference, (ii) referral to a hearing, or (iii) dismissal of the claim.
If the decision is to hold a conference, the parties will be notified by mail of the date, time and place of the conference. The purpose of the conference is to determine the validity of the claim, and to see if the claim can be resolved without a hearing. If the claim is not resolved at the conference, the next step usually is to refer the matter to a hearing or dismiss it for lack of evidence.
At the hearing the parties and witnesses testify under oath, and the proceeding is recorded. After the hearing, an Order, Decision, or Award (ODA) of the Labor Commissioner will be served on the parties.
Either party may appeal the ODA to a civil court of competent jurisdiction. The court will set the matter for trial, with each party having the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses. The evidence and testimony presented at the Labor Commissioner’s hearing will not be the basis for the court’s decision. In the case of an appeal by the employer, DLSE may represent an employee who is financially unable to afford counsel in the court proceeding.
See the http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/policies.htm pamphlet for more detail on the wage claim procedure.
If your case has proceeded to the stage where the Department has issued the final Award, Order or Decision, and it is not in your favor, then you would be well served by retaining a local Employment Law attorney to represent your company in the appeal to the CA state courts.
Alternatively, you can open discussions with the employee and seek a compromised resolution of the matter in which you agree to pay something, but less than the full award, in exchange for your not appealing, and ending the matter here. However, before you consider that, do be sure to have your employment law attorney fully review all the claim paperwork and evidence presented up to this point so that the best decision for your company can be made.
You may reply back to me again, using the Reply to Expert link, if you have additional questions.
I wish you the best in your future,