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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12922
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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My husband and I work for my aunt running her business. she

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My husband and I work for my aunt running her business. she is having financial problems so she asked us to work as "volunteers" for a month and then she would pay us back... here it is about 6 months later and we are about to lose our house/our business/etc because she is still paying us virtually nothing. What are our options here? Can we take it to the labor board?
Good morning and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. I am very sorry to hear about our difficulty getting paid and the financial trouble it is causing you.

California law zelaously protects an employee's right to be paid for their work. You and your husband can either file a claim with the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (an administrative agency charged with enforcing wage rights) or sue in civil court to obtain the compensation you are owed. You will be entitled to your wages, plus interest, plus penalties pursuant to Labor Code 210 for each payday that was late.

What is happening is illegal and should not be tolerated, even if you are dealing with family, and especially considering the financial repurcussions this is having on you.

If you file with the DLSE, you likely do not need an attorney. If you file in civil court, you likely will, but claimants who successfully assert wage claims in civil court are entitled to reimbursement for attorney fees, meaning the cost of such representation would be practically nothing.

Moreover, most attorneys handle wage claims on a contingency fee basis. If you don't know, a contingency fee arrangement is one in which the attorney receives a portion of the client's settlement or award as his payment, typically 1/3 of the total amount. If there is no recovery, the attorney does not get paid. The client never pays until the settlement or award is obtained (except perhaps to cover the filing costs for his claim).

To file a wage claim with the DLSE, visit this link: To locate a local employment law attorney who can assist you filing in civil court, see here:

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.
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