Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. I am sorry to hear that your former employer is taking advantage of his employees and completely appreciate your concerns.
The most important thing you should know is that employers are legally prohibited from retaliating against employees as a consequence of them attempting to enforce their wage rights. Regardless of the merit of an underlying wage claim, retaliation for seeking to enforce one's rights gives rise to an entirely separate claim for damages.
As a practical matter, prohibitions on retaliation do not always prevent it from occuring, so it is very important for any employee who makes a report or seeks to enforce their wage rights to meticulously DOCUMENT any and all perceived retaliation. That way, should it be necessary to bring a retaliation claim, there is evidence of its occurence.
Knowing this basic protection against retaliation applies, current employees should not fear filing a complaint for unpaid overtime with the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement. The DSLE will absolutely investigate the complaint and issue a ruling in the employees' favor if it finds cause.
Alternatively, these employees may wish to band together an file a lawsuit as joint plaintiffs in civil court, which they have every right to do instead of pursuing the matter through the DLSE. Claimants who are successful in civil court are entitled to attorney fees, and so it should not be hard to find an attorney willing to assist on a contingency fee basis to pursue a legitimate wage claim. The attorney fee award will ensure that the employees receive all or close to all of what they are actually owed with no outstanding wages or at least very little being paid to the attorney as part of their fee.
For attorney referrals, visit this link: http://apps.americanbar.org/legalservices/lris/directory/main.cfm?id=CA
or visit http://www.martindale.com
I particularly like Martin Dale because the site allows you to search attorneys by practice area and also provides attorney ratings.
Please do not hesitate
to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.
If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes to you and thank you so much for coming to Just Answer.