Many managers consider going to the Labor Commissioner to collect unpaid wages instead of hiring a private attorney to collect those wages in civil court. The thinking is that they don’t have to pay an attorney to go to the Labor Commissioner. There is a flaw in that thinking:
If you go through a hearing in front of the Labor Commissioner it is true that you do not need an attorney. If you bring one the Commissioner cannot order your employer to pay your attorney’s fees. However, it is most likely that your employer will come to the hearing with an attorney.
If you lose before the Labor Commissioner, you have the right to appeal to the Superior Court. (Labor Code § 98.2a) At that appeal you not only are still entitled to have an attorney represent you, you are entitled to recover your attorney’s fees if you win at the appeal. But here is the catch:
If you LOSE at the appeal you will be required to PAY the attorneys’ fees of your victorious employer! (Labor Code § 98.2c)
If, on the other hand, you choose to avoid the Labor Commissioner hearing and hire a private attorney to file a civil suit to recover your wages, not only are you entitled to recover your own attorney’s fees if you prevail but your employer CANNOT recover his attorneys’ fees from you in the unlikely event you lose!
Remember that The Law Offices of Kenneth F. Moss takes these cases on a contingency, so you are not “out-of-pocket” for your attorney’s fees as the case goes on,and owe no fees if you do not win.