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Brandon M.
Brandon M., Counselor at Law
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I have filed a wage claim with the department of industrial relations

Customer Question

I have filed a wage claim with the department of industrial relations against my former employer for meal break violations. We had a settlement conference in which his offer was way too low for this specific instance. He knows he is in the wrong and I feel my case is very strong if we end up going to a hearing. He has never provided meal breaks for any of his employees. However, a settlement is always the easier route in my opinion. I want to send him the following text message but first I want to make sure it doesn't constitute extortion:

"I have zero interest in publicly broadcasting this matter to any employees, either past or present. However, should we go to a hearing, it would be necessary for me to contact as many people as possible in order to have a substantial number of witnesses to testify on my behalf."


The reason I don't believe this qualifies as extortion is because his primary reason for settling would still be the fact that he knows he broke laws. Is this extort
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Brandon M. replied 1 year ago.

Brandon M. :

Hello there.

Brandon M. :

Thank you for your question. Extortion, as you likely know, is criminalized under California Penal Code section 518. That section reads as follows:

Brandon M. :

Extortion is the obtaining of property from another, with his consent, or the obtaining of an official act of a public officer, induced by a wrongful use of force or fear, or under color of official right.

Brandon M. :

The pertinent part of your desired statement is the second sentence. "... should we go to a hearing, it would be necessary for me to contact as many people as possible in order to have a substantial number of witnesses to testify on my behalf."

Brandon M. :

I should start by saying that because the nuances of every situation are different, this information should not be construed as complete or advice without consulting in person with counsel. That said, the statement does not appear, on its face, to constitute extortion, assuming (based on the context) that you are merely notifying the other side that you expect to need to collect witnesses if the case doesn't settle.

Brandon M. :

But that said, why make the statement at all? Your employer should understand that you will need to present your case if the matter goes to hearing, so are you really telling your employer anything that they don't already know?

Brandon M. :

A good attorney will always tell you that if there's any doubt about whether an act is criminal, don't do it. Although the statement does not appear to be extortion on its face, I see no benefit from making the statement at all. So play it safe and eliminate the danger. It doesn't do you any good to be right if you still have to sweat through a criminal trial to get to an acquittal.

Customer :

Well honestly the idea is to put the prospect of all the potential employees also filing the same wage claims against him, upon discovery of my matter and realizing their ability to do so. It seems to me that would be sufficient motivation for him to merely settle and avoid opening the flood gates.

Brandon M. :

Well, you know the situation best, XXXXX XXXXX is the chance that the employer hasn't considered that outcome?

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Brandon M.
Brandon M.
Attorney at Law
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Attorney experienced in numerous areas of law.