How Should Employers Handle the California Labor Commissioner?
An employer should avoid being involved in an investigation by the Labor Commissioner at all costs. These investigations come as a result of an employee complaint and need to be taken very seriously. If you are the target of an investigation, it is in your best interest to seek the advice of an experienced attorney to help guide you through the process.
California Labor Commissioner
Employee grievances sometimes result in lawsuits, but your employees may go another route to seek justice. Employees who believe their rights have been infringed can file a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement against their employer (DLSE). The DLSE, commonly known as the Labor Commissioner, is responsible for resolving disputes involving wage and hour infractions.
The DLSE is led by the Labor Commissioner, who has unrestricted access to all workplaces. The Labor Commissioner and their deputies have the jurisdiction to investigate employer complaints and convene hearings to defend the rights of employees who have been wronged.
You may not receive a notice from the Labor Commissioner if the DLSE opens an investigation into your company. Deputies from the Labor Commissioner’s office frequently show up without warning.
On the other hand, the Labor Commissioner may call a hearing for all parties involved in the dispute to be informed of the investigation’s progress.
The California Labor Commissioner is responsible for complaints involving wage and hour infractions, such as:
- Failure to pay minimum wage
- Failure to pay overtime
- Refusing to provide meal or rest breaks to which an employee is entitled
- These and many other violations may trigger the Labor Commissioner’s investigation.
If the Labor Commissioner is looking into your company, there are three things you should do:
- The Labor Commissioner needs to be taken seriously
While the Labor Commissioner’s inquiry is not a civil case, it needs to be taken seriously. The Labor Commissioner’s investigation could have disastrous ramifications for your company, so you should never underestimate the Labor Commissioner’s authority.
- Do not assume that the Labor Commissioner is on your side.
Approach the Labor Commissioner and his/her deputies with caution. If you don’t know how to interact with the Labor Commissioner, how to respond to their queries, or what procedures to take during the inquiry, you may unintentionally make matters worse for yourself.
- Hire an attorney
Because DLSE proceedings can be complicated, an employer must ensure that their best interests are safeguarded. Having legal representation during the Labor Commissioner’s investigation can be very beneficial to an employer.