Written by: John Dalton
| Read Time: 5 minutes

Understanding California’s waiting time penalty law can be challenging. California is a pioneer in ensuring employers pay their employees within a reasonable time after termination or resignation. Specifically, if an employer fails to pay an employee’s final wages within 72 hours of termination, they may face penalties under Labor Code 203. These penalties apply for each day the payment is late up to 30 days. What is commonly referred to as the “waiting time penalty” is an important measure to deter employers from withholding wages unlawfully.

Fortunately, an experienced employment lawyer can help you apply the Code and recoup your losses. At the Law Office of John Dalton, we’ve helped countless California employees recover from employers who mistreat their workers. Read on to learn how California’s waiting time penalty laws work, and then call us to learn how the Law Office of John Dalton can help you with your specific wage and hour issues.

Labor Code 203 and the Waiting Time Penalty Law in CA

Delaying final wages can cause significant difficulties for employees relying on their paychecks to cover monthly basic expenses. California’s Labor Code 203 addresses this by directing employers to pay their employees all outstanding wages within a specific time frame when they no longer work for their employer. Under Labor Code 203, when an employee quits and provides at least 72 hours notice, the employer must pay them everything they are owed on the employee’s last day of work. Final payment must include all unpaid wages, vacation time, and unused time off if the business provides those benefits.

Failure to abide by Labor Code 203’s provisions can result in severe and substantial financial penalties. Under California law, intentionally withholding an employee’s final wages is also a misdemeanor, so employers that engage in this illegal practice may be subject to additional criminal sanctions and legal repercussions.

What Is the Waiting Time Penalty for Final Wages in California?

The waiting time penalty for a late final paycheck in California equals the employee’s daily wage for each day the employer delays, up to a maximum of 30 days. For example, suppose your daily wage is $100 and your employer delays your final paycheck for 30 days. In this case, your employer is liable for a penalty of $3,000 ($100 x 30 days).

Employees can claim this financial compensation even when late payment doesn’t result in measurable financial losses. Moreover, the waiting time penalty accumulates while the employee disputes their final wages.

Coverage and Eligibility

Employees must have either been terminated or voluntarily left their job to be eligible for the waiting time penalty. The penalty may not apply in temporary layoff or suspension cases where there is still an employment relationship.

The waiting time penalty applies to all employers operating in California, regardless of their size or sector. The law also includes most types of employment, including full-time, part-time, and temporary positions. 

However, exceptions do apply. For example, consider agricultural workers and employees covered by collective bargaining agreements whose final wages fall under different regulations. Employees who meet this definition are excluded. Labor Code 203 also excludes employees who avoid or refuse to receive their final wages.

What Is the “Good Faith” Exception?

A “good faith dispute” can arise when an employer provides a defense, supported by law or facts, that could potentially excuse them from paying the employee’s final wages. If the employer makes a good faith dispute regarding the wage amount, the law will not impose waiting time penalties while the issue is still in question. However, an employer argument that lacks evidence is unreasonable or is made in bad faith will not provide sufficient grounds for withholding payment. An employer must also demonstrate good faith to justify their actions. Discussing your unique situation with a skilled employment attorney can help you determine whether your employer has a valid good faith exception and whether you are eligible for the waiting time penalty under California law. 

Contact the Law Office of John Dalton

We are dedicated to providing exceptional legal services, focusing exclusively on employment matters. With over 26 years of experience and millions of dollars in client settlements and verdicts under our belts, including one of California’s largest at $30,000,000, the Law Office of John Dalton has the skills to do the job. We will fight tirelessly for justice. Call to schedule a free case review.

What Is Considered Workplace Harassment in California?

The law protects against workplace harassment. But what is considered workplace harassment in California? In general, unlawful harassment is any unwelcome and offensive behavior based on an individual’s protected characteristics. 

While you have several options for asserting your rights against harassment and recovering damages from your workplace, the process can be tricky. You should speak to a skilled attorney immediately after enduring any type of harassment from a coworker, supervisor, or guest of your employer. An experienced attorney can ensure that your case is handled fairly and that you receive every legal remedy you deserve. And no California employment attorney is better at protecting workers’ rights than John Dalton. John Dalton has obtained some of the largest verdicts in the nation and state for mistreated employees, and the Law Offices of John Dalton are ready to help you with any employment dispute you face.  If you think you are a victim of harassment in your workplace, please call us immediately.

What Constitutes Workplace Harassment? 

State and federal laws define harassment as unwelcome conduct that is based on one of the following protected characteristics: 

  • Age (40 or older),
  • Color,
  • Religion, 
  • Race,
  • National origin,
  • Genetics,
  • Sex, 
  • Medical condition,
  • Gender,
  • Military status, 
  • Disability, 
  • Veteran status, 
  • Ancestry, or 
  • Creed. 

You do not have to be the target of harassing behavior to have a valid claim against it. Harassment can affect everyone in the workplace who witnesses it. It takes two forms: quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment harassment. 

Quid Pro Quo Harassment

Quid pro quo harassment occurs when your employer demands that you accept harassing behavior in exchange for work benefits or to keep your job. One of the common ways this comes up is in cases of sexual harassment. For example, a supervisor has committed quid pro quo harassment if they punish an employee or threaten to punish an employee for any of the following: 

  • Declining a request for a date;
  • Refusing to perform sexual favors;
  • Asking the supervisor to stop displaying offensive, sex-based content;
  • Reporting non-consensual touching; or 
  • Asking the supervisor to stop making offensive, sex-based comments.

An employer can also be liable for quid pro quo harassment if it conditions an employee’s professional advancement on accepting unwanted sex-based behavior. A boss who tries to coerce you into unwanted, sex-based activity by offering you a promotion or pay increase has committed unlawful harassment. Quid pro quo harassment can also be present when a work environment is “sexualized,” meaning that workers who accept the harassment or do not complain about it receive better treatment.

Hostile Work Environment Harassment

Unwanted, discriminatory conduct is also illegal harassment when it is severe or pervasive that it affects your work environment to the point of creating a hostile environment. If the following type of behavior at work is based on a protected characteristic, it is likely illegal: 

  • Joking;
  • Stereotyping comments; 
  • Insults;
  • Comments about someone else’s physical appearance;
  • Asking for dates;
  • Non-consensual touching; 
  • Any sex-based comments or statements;
  • Invading the personal space of others; 
  • Having sexually explicit conversations;
  • Staring; 
  • Excluding others from work opportunities; 
  • Using slurs, including gender, racial, age, sexual orientation, or religious based slurs;
  • Displaying offensive material; or
  • Making repeated, unwanted requests for dates; 

If any of these things occur in your workplace, please contact us immediately.

How to Prove Workplace Harassment in California

Before taking any action against your harasser or employer, please contact us immediately. We will help you pursue the evidence you need to prove you have been victimized by illegal harassment. 

Proof of the harassment can include the following: 

  • Witness testimony, 
  • Correspondence,
  • Employment agreements,
  • Healthcare records,
  • Personnel records, 
  • Pictures, 
  • Wage records, 
  • Employment records, and
  • Copies of prior complaints.

Our help can be crucial to obtaining the evidence necessary for a successful case.  Therefore, it is important to contact us right away.

Filing a Claim Against Harassment at Work

You can handle your harassment claim through a private settlement, an administrative complaint, or a civil lawsuit. But your first move in addressing workplace harassment should be to contact us. We will help you navigate any internal complaint procedure and any complaints that must be filed with a government agency. 

Contact the Law Offices of John Dalton Today

John Dalton is a highly experienced and passionate employment attorney who can protect you from the wrongful behavior of others in your workplace. John has been in practice for over 26 years and has set records with the damages he has recovered for his clients. Please call the Law Offices of John Dalton if you need a good advocate. You can contact us online!

    “I highly respect John and his dedication and integrity. You will not be disappointed.” John Dalton went to work for me and delivered great results. I wasn’t sure what to do and when I found John, he explained everything nicely and he was able to get me the settlement I truly deserved. He was easy to work with and I always felt like I was kept in the loop - it was really fantastic service all around. - Steve K.
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