How Should Employers Deal with the California Labor Commissioner?

AdobeStock_199400743-300x200Hearing the phrase, “a complaint filed against you is being investigated by the California Labor Commissioner” may sound intimidating – and for good reason. Any employer should take investigations conducted by the Labor Commissioner seriously.

If you are an employer who is being investigated by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), you need to understand your rights and obligations. If you received a notice of the ongoing investigation of a complaint filed by your employees, get in touch with a lawyer right away.

At Structure Law Group, our skilled employment lawyers have helped numerous employers across California deal with the California Labor Commissioner and ensure that employers’ rights are protected throughout the process.

Who is the California Labor Commissioner?

Not all employee complaints become civil lawsuits. Employees who believe that their rights have been violated can bring a dispute against their employer with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). The DLSE, which is also known as the Labor Commissioner, primarily handles disputes related to wage and hour violations.

The Labor Commissioner leads the DLSE and has free access to all workplaces. The Labor Commissioner and their deputies have the authority to investigate complaints against employers and hold hearings to protect the rights of wronged employees.

How Do You Know That the Labor Commissioner is Investigating You?

If the DLSE launches an investigation into your company, you may not receive a notice from the Labor Commissioner. It is not uncommon for the Labor Commissioner’s deputies to come to the workplace without prior notice or permission.

Alternatively, the Labor Commissioner may schedule a hearing between all parties involved in the dispute to inform them of the ongoing investigation.

What Cases Does the California Labor Commissioner Handle?

As mentioned earlier, the California Labor Commissioner primarily handles complaints related to wage and hour violations, including:

  • 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.

3 Tips on How to Deal with the Labor Commissioner

There are three critical tips to follow if the Labor Commissioner is investigating your company:

1. Do Not Underestimate the Labor Commissioner

Just because the Labor Commissioner’s investigation is not a civil lawsuit (yet?) does not mean that you should not take it seriously. The Labor Commissioner’s investigation could result in devastating consequences for your company, so the last thing you should do is underestimate the Labor Commissioner’s power.

2. The Labor Commissioner is Not Your Friend

Do not assume that the Labor Commissioner is on your side. Do not treat the Labor Commissioner or his/her deputies as your friends. As an employer, you may unknowingly make things worse for yourself if you do not know how to deal with the Labor Commissioner, how to answer their questions, and what steps to take during the investigation.

3. Hire a Skilled Attorney

An employer can benefit from having counsel during the Labor Commissioner’s investigation. DLSE proceedings can be complicated, which is why an employer needs to make sure that their best interests are protected.

Consult with an Experienced San Jose Business Attorney Today

At Structure Law Group, our attorneys have developed a reputation for our dedication to clients and established connections with DLSE’s offices in California. We represent employers who become targets of the California Labor Commissioner’s investigation.

Let our San Jose business attorneys help you understand how you should deal with the Labor Commissioner in your particular case. Get a case review by calling (408) 441-7500.