DSLE “Labor Board” Citations

The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE, also known as the ‘Labor Board’) is charged with the primary responsibility of enforcing most sections of the California Labor Code. To be blunt, they are biased in favor of the employee. If your business is issued a citation, there is no time to start learning the process.

If an employee (current or former) believes they have been denied wages, meal periods, etc., they need not go to court; instead, they can file a Complaint with the DLSE, who will prosecute the case on their behalf. The process usually works like this:

  • The employee files a Complaint with their local DLSE office.
  • The DLSE sets the matter for an informal ‘settlement conference’, usually in a deputy labor commissioner’s office, to further examine the facts of the case. If the DLSE declines to prosecute the matter, the employee can still pursue the matter in Small Claims or Superior Court.
  • If the DLSE believes the case has merit, a formal hearing is set before an administrative hearing officer, with the deputy labor commissioner acting as the prosecutor at no cost to the employee. Sorry, but the DLSE doesn’t pay the employer’s legal fees to defend the Complaint.
  • If the employer prevails in their defense, that usually ends the matter.
  • If the DLSE (employee) prevails, an award of wages and/or penalties is issued. The employer has a short 10 days to pay, after which the award will be converted into an enforceable judgment. Within those 10 days, the employer can appeal to the Superior Court.

Even if an employee wins a small award, a business should ask: “How many other employees might have the similar claims if I don’t appeal”? For these reasons, employers should immediately consult with an attorney familiar with defense of DLSE citations. We are, and welcome you to contact us for a free consultation.

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