California Wage and Hour Laws 2024 – Statute of Limitations

Any time that you notice a discrepancy in your wages or hours, you should look to speak with an attorney about your case. If you don’t pick up on these issues initially, you may wonder how long you have to file a claim and try to recover your lost wages. 

California has some peculiar laws on the statute of limitations for wage and hour issues, with different infractions carrying different time limits. It’s crucial to be aware of all the differences so that you can know your rights if your employer violates them. 

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wage and Hour Disputes?

The California Labor Code sets out guidelines on how long victims have to report any wrongdoing by their employer. The statute of limitations sets the time limit for how long a person has to bring legal action against another party before the crime is too far in the past. The statute of limitations helps prevent the legal system from getting bogged down in cases from many years ago. That way, more recent crimes have a chance to move through court. 

One-Year Statute of Limitations

There is only one hour and wage law with a one-year statute of limitations. Your employer must supply you with an itemized statement on each of your paychecks. California law wants employees to be able to review their paycheck every time they receive it. If you don’t have an itemized paycheck, you can bring a claim against your employer within a year of the infraction. 

Two Years

The two-year statute of limitations applies to any oral contracts that your employer may have made with you. This oral contract could be about a raise in wages or promotion to a new position. You’ll likely need a witness to corroborate your story in any case involving an oral contract. 

Three Years

Most wage and hour violations have a three-year statute of limitations. These violations include:

  • Minimum wage violations: All California employers or businesses operating in the state must pay the highest applicable minimum wage. In California, the state minimum wage is $15.50. Some municipalities have a higher minimum wage than the state, such as San Diego County, with a $16.30 minimum wage. 
  • Missed meal and rest breaks: California law is very clear on breaks for employees. For every four hours that an employee works, the employer must provide one paid 10-minute rest break. California employees should receive an unpaid 30-minute meal break for every five hours they work. Employers failing to provide these rest periods will have to pay an employee one hour’s wages for each missed break. 
  • Overtime violations: With some exemptions, full-time employees are eligible to receive overtime payments from their employer if they work more than eight hours in a day, 40 hours in a week, or seven days in a row. The state allows you to file a claim against your employer for any lost wages if they didn’t pay you time-and-a-half for the extra work.
  • Misclassification: Some employers will try to misclassify employees as independent contractors or interns to avoid paying as much or giving out benefits. You can bring legal action against your employer if they attempt to characterize you as a contractor, but you fulfill all the requirements of an employee. 
  • Unpaid final wages: Some employers will try to stiff a worker on their final paycheck, hoping that the worker won’t notice. Sometimes, this happens accidentally, but there is no excuse for missing a former employee’s final paycheck. This practice is illegal, and you have a right to compensation for your work, even if you are leaving the company. 

Four Years

There is a four-year statute of limitations on any breach of a written contract. You can also ask the court for an extension to four years for any of the three-year statute of limitations crimes if you can demonstrate that the business participated in unfair business practices. 

Do I Need an Attorney When Dealing With a Wage and Hour Dispute?

While you could handle a wage and hour dispute on your own, hiring a San Diego, CA, Wage and Hour Disputes Lawyer can give you a much better chance at receiving restitution. These lawyers know the laws in detail and can advocate for you in the courtroom if the case makes it to trial. 

Companies often hire numerous attorneys when defending themselves against labor violation claims. You can more effectively fight against them by taking on an attorney yourself. 


Q: What Is the Law for Wage Payments in California?

A: All employers must pay the correct wages to their employees, with an itemized breakdown of any deductions, twice a month. Companies that fail to provide wages to their employees promptly are open to legal action from the employees, either through solo claims or a class action claim

Q: What Are the Wage and Hour Violations in California?

A: In California, the most common wage and hour violations are:

  • Missing a meal or rest break
  • Misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor
  • Not paying an employee overtime
  • Paying under the minimum wage
  • Missing a final paycheck

These crimes carry a three-year statute of limitations, and employees may bring legal action against employers for any violations. 

Q: What Is the 72-Hour Rule in California?

A: When someone quits their job, it can be easy to overlook the final paycheck. California has a law stating that an employer must provide the employee with their final paycheck within 72 hours of the employee’s last day. Businesses failing to make the final payment open themselves to litigation and penalties. 

Q: What Is the Statute of Limitations on Wage Statements in California?

A: Employees have the legal right to an itemized paycheck for their review. If your employer fails to provide you with this itemized statement, they violate California law. You can file a claim against the company within one year of the incident. This is the shortest statute of limitations for labor violations. 

Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers: Experienced Labor Settlement Litigators

Don’t let your employer try to convince you that there’s no legal recourse for a company infraction. You may still be eligible for legal assistance and restitution. At Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers, we aim to help employees with their labor issues. Contact us today for a consultation on your case.