Good morning Ria,
I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today.
You may actually sue the employer in court and recover your wages/commissions. Additionally, if you sue in court, under federal laws (FLSA), you are also entitled to seek what is called Liquidated damages. Liquidated damages is equal to the amount of back wages that they owe you and must be paid in addition to the wages themselves---so you essentially get double the wages owed you in the claim based on their willful failure to pay you. Additionally, you will be entitled to be awarded costs of the court as well as your attorney fees incurred in filing suit and litigating it against your employer. http://labor-employment-law.lawyers.com/wage-and-hour-law/Liquidated-Damages-and-FLSA-Claims.html
A recent law signed by the CA Governor, allows CA employees to seek liquidated damages when making a claim to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), just as they could if suing in court initially. So in CA whether you make a claim to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, or file an action in court on your own, you may seek liquidated damages. Here is a link to an article on the change---good for CA employees, but bad for CA employers:http://www.shawvalenza.com/publications.php?id=343
The award of liquidated damages is mandatory unless employer shows that (A) act or omission giving rise to violation was in good faith and (B) the employer had reasonable grounds for believing that
act or omission was not a violation of 29 U.S.C.A. § 216(b). This is a very difficult standard for the employer to meet.
Here is an excellent article which deals with pursuing an FLSA claim---which you may do in either state court or federal court. Do take the time to review it:
You do not do a demand letter. You either file a wage complaint with your local office of the CA Department of Labor, or you sue your employer directly in court.
The only drawback to using the labor commissioner is that your employer can appeal any rulings there all the way out of the system and end you back in court---prolonging the entire process.
You might be better off retaining a local employment law attorney to assist you. The court may award you your legal fees and legal costs when you win the suit against the employer.
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I wish you the best in 2013,