Employer Labor Commission Proceedings
Labor Commission proceedings are set up as streamlined, less formal proceedings, to allow employees the opportunity to pursue claims against their employers with minimal cost. An employee or employer is not required to be represented by counsel, and often times is not.
While Labor Commission proceedings are generally considered more “employee friendly” than civil actions, they are much shorter, and far less costly to defend. Labor Commission actions generally proceed through the following steps:
Step 1: A Complaint is filed by the employee. To be within the jurisdiction of the Labor Commission, the Complaint must state an “action to recover wages, penalties, and other demands for compensation.” After a Complaint is filed the employer will receive a Notice of Claim and Conference from the Labor Commission.
Step 2: Attempt to Settle. Following the filing of a complaint, a settlement conference is held, usually within 1-2 months. This is not the actual hearing on the employees claim, but rather an opportunity for the parties to reach an early resolution. Employers should be prepared to negotiate at this conference. Preparation should include researching and understanding the arguments in support of an employer’s defenses, and bringing documentation to support those argument. The better prepared an employer is at the settlement conference, the better the chances are of resolving the claim for a lesser amount.
Step 3: Set a Date for the proceeding. If the case is not resolved at the settlement conference, the Labor Commission proceeding is set and held typically within 2-3 months, and without the formal costly pre-hearing written discovery procedures used in a regular civil case.
Step 4: Present Your Case. While witness testimony and documentary evidence is presented at the proceeding, the rules of evidence are significantly relaxed, allowing the hearing to generally be completed within 1-2 days. At the end of the hearing the Labor Commissioner will issue a written order.
Step 5: Appeal. If the employee prevails, the employer may appeal the Labor Commission’s ruling within 10 days of the Labor Commissioner’s Order. However, employers should proceed on appeal with great caution. Appealing a decision of the Labor Commission requires the employer to post a bond in the full amount of the Labor Commissioner’s order. If the appeal is dismissed without settlement, and payment is not made to the employee within 10 days, the bond could be forfeited to the employee in its entirety. Further, if an employer is not successful on appeal, they are required to pay reasonable attorney’s fees to the employee.
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