Updated on April 19th, 2023

What Happens If My Paycheck Is Late in California?

When Delilah’s paycheck doesn’t arrive in the mail, she begins to panic. Her rent is due, and she needs to pay for her daughter’s preschool. Like many Americans, she lives paycheck to paycheck. Therefore, she depends on her job paying her on time. When Delilah’s landlord threatens to evict her, she wonders whether she can sue her employer for a late paycheck.

By: Brad Nakase, Attorney

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What Happens When Employers Do Not Pay Employees on Time?

 Under California law, employees are entitled to receive their paychecks on time. If an employer does not comply with the law, they are subject to penalties.

According to California Labor Code Section 210, employers will receive a $100 fee if they are late pay their employees. This is the penalty for “any initial violation,” meaning the first time it happens. For any additional violation, employers will receive a $200 fee and must also pay 25% of the withheld amount.

Sometimes, an employer might willfully or intentionally pay an employee late – for instance, if there is an ongoing lawsuit or disagreement about wages. In this case, the employer faces a penalty of $200 and may be required to pay 25% of the withheld amount.

If an employer does not pay an employee for overtime on schedule, the employer may face similar penalties.

What If a Final Paycheck Is Late?

 In California, when an employee is terminated, a final paycheck must be paid:

  • On the employee’s last day of work


  • Within 72 hours of the termination

What Can an Employee Do If Paid Late?

An employee who does not receive his or her paycheck on time has a few options. He or she can:

  • File a complaint with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE)
  • File a claim with a federal agency
  • File a wage and hour lawsuit against the employer

It is possible that the employer will have to pay interest as well as the late paycheck. The court may also impose penalties on the employer.

That said, there are circumstances in which employers may have a legitimate excuse for not paying employees on time. For instance, there might be a banking or technical issue behind the delay. In this case, the employer is not subject to penalities.

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What Is A Hostile Work Environment?

The law defines an unlawful hostile work environment to mean when a superior or coworker communication or behavior that is offensive, intimating, or discriminate on the basis of gender, religion, race, ethnicity, etc.

Can you take unpaid time off in California?

There is no legal requirement in California that an employer provide its employees with either paid or unpaid vacation time. However, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year.

DFEH Right to Sue

To file a lawsuit for discrimination, you must file a complaint with DFEH and obtain a Right-to-Sue notice.

Is It Illegal To Not Pay Overtime?

Yes, it is illegal for employer to not pay overtime because California law requires that employers pay overtime, whether authorized or not.

What Is Rate Pay Meaning?

The meaning of pay rate is the average hourly rate an employee is paid calculated by dividing the total pay for employment in a work week by the total number of hours actually worked.

California Break Laws

Under California law, non-exempt workers are entitled to two paid 10-minute rest breaks and one unpaid meal break during their eight-hour shift. 

Not Getting Paid for Work I Have Done

Workers who have not been paid for work have the right to file a claim with the federal and state Department of Labor for unpaid wages.

California Overtime Law

Under California overtime law, an employee who works over eight hours a day or over forty hours per week is entitled to overtime pay at one and one-half times the regular rate of pay.

Who is exempt from overtime pay?

As of 2023, to be exempt from overtime pay, any employees who are paid at least $62,400 per year and work are primarily professional, executive, creative, managerial, or intellectual and require the exercise of independent judgment.

Can Previous Employers Talk Bad About You?

There are no state or federal laws prohibiting what a previous employer can or cannot say about a former employee. However, previous employers are not permitted to make up lies to damage your reputation and make it difficult for you to get another job.

Can An Employer Cut Your Pay as Punishment?

Employers cannot cut hours to retaliate against employees. Cutting the hours of an employee should never be used as discipline or in an attempt to make an employee quit. 

California Random Drug Testing Law

Random drug testing is not permitted in California, and employers must give their employees notice before a drug test is given.

What happens if you get caught working under the table?

Generally, it is not illegal for your employer to pay you in cash. However, if the employer paid you under the table and did not report your earnings, you may be entitled to money damages under California Labor Code 226.

ADA Proof of Disability

An employer has no right to ask an employee to provide proof of disability unless the employee requests a reasonable accommodation and the employer does not believe disability exists.

FMLA Retaliation and Wrongful Discharge

An employer is prohibited from retaliating, interfering with, restraining, or denying an employee’s exercise of any FMLA right. If an employer wrongfully terminates an employee for FLMA taking medical leave, the worker could have a lawsuit against the employer.

Per Diem Employee Rights

A per diem employee is a worker who work on an as needed basis. A per diem employee does not have a regular schedule or shift but instead works hours as assigned.

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