Unpaid Wages Lawyer

All California employees have a right to be paid for their work. When an employer refuses to pay wages an employee has earned, or when the employer violates state or federal laws governing wages and overtime, employees are entitled to a remedy.

The Cooper Law Firm helps workers recover the back pay and other remedies to which they are entitled. From their offices in Orange County, the employment lawyers at The Cooper Law Firm are dedicated to helping workers who have been cheated or exploited by employers that violate laws.

Situations an Unpaid Wages Lawyer Can Assist You With

Employers are required to pay the amount they agreed to pay for the work that an employee performs. That requirement protects all California employees, whether they receive hourly pay, a salary, or a commission.

The Cooper Law Firm helps employees bring claims for payment of unpaid wages. We also represent individuals who were paid less than they are owed. Our experienced lawyers know employment legalities inside out.  Examples of unpaid and underpaid wage claims include:

  • The employer failed to pay an employee for the hours that the employee worked.
  • The employer insisted that a worker perform labor “off the clock.”
  • The employer fired the employee, or the employee resigned, and the employer failed to pay for hours that the employee worked before employment ended.
  • The employer paid less than minimum wage.
  • The employer made illegal or unauthorized deductions from an employee’s paycheck.
  • The employer waited longer than the permitted time to pay the employee after the pay period ended.

An unpaid wage claim might also be based on any of the special circumstances described below.

Unpaid Commissions

Sales commissions must be calculated according to the employer’s agreement with the employee. When employers fail to pay the full commission pursuant to that agreement, employees are entitled to bring a wage claim to collect the unpaid commission.  The Cooper Law Firm helps employees collect commissions that were earned but not paid.

Unpaid Overtime

When you’re not fairly compensated for your work our legal team is ready to help.  Employers must pay overtime compensation to nonexempt employees for all hours they work in excess of 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week. California law also requires the payment of overtime when an employee works seven consecutive days in a workweek.

As we discuss below, employers sometimes try to evade overtime laws by misclassifying workers as exempt or as independent contractors. The Cooper Law Office can investigate your case to advise you whether you were deprived of overtime pay that you are entitled to collect.

  • Former President of the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association
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Meal and Rest Breaks

Employers that force a nonexempt employee to work (or to remain at a job site) during required meal and rest breaks may owe the employee “premium pay.” Visit our Meals and Rest Breaks page to learn more about the assistance that The Cooper Law Firm can provide to employees when employers illegally deprive them of pay for meal and rest breaks.

On-Call, Standby, and Travel Time

California employers must pay the hourly wages of nonexempt employees during times that they are under the employer’s control. That includes on-call or standby time at the worksite even if the employee is given no task to perform. In some circumstances, employers must pay for on-call time even if the nonexempt employee is off the worksite.

Hourly workers must be paid for work-related travel after they arrive at their customary job site and, in some cases, for time spent traveling to a job site. Employers that fail to pay required compensation for on-call, standby, or travel time are liable for back pay and other penalties. The Cooper Law Firm helps employees collect the financial remedies specified by applicable state and federal laws.

Improper Classification of Exempt Employees

Certain categories of employees are exempt from particular wage and hour laws.

Employers sometimes try to circumvent wage and hour laws by misclassifying employees as exempt who do not meet the legal standard for exemption. For example, an employer might give a typist the title of “administrative assistant” and then refuse to pay overtime because administrators are exempt from overtime laws.

Exempt employee status is governed by strict legal tests, not by job titles or whether the employee is paid a salary rather than an hourly rate. When an employer improperly classifies an employee as exempt, the employee may be denied wages and other benefits to which the employee is entitled, including overtime. The Cooper Law Firm helps employees recover lost wages and penalties to which they are entitled as the result of being improperly classified as exempt.

Misclassification as Independent Contractors

Employers sometimes deny wages and benefits (such as FICA contributions) to employees by improperly claiming that they are independent contractors rather than employees. Our Misclassification as Independent Contractor page explains how we help employees achieve justice when they are victimized by a misclassification.

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False Record Keeping

State and federal laws require employers to keep records of, among other things, the time that nonexempt employees work each day. Employers that falsify or fail to keep those records (as well as other required payroll records) may be liable to employees for penalties in addition to back pay.


When an employer pays some employees less than others for the same work, and the pay differential is based on an impermissible factor (such as sex, race, or disability), the employee may be entitled to compensation that includes the pay the employee should have received. From wrongful termination to unfair discrimination, our attorneys are here to help.  Visit our Employment Discrimination page to learn how The Cooper Law Firm helps discrimination victims who receive unequal pay.

Overtime and Unpaid Wage Recovery Assistance

The Cooper Law Firm pursues unpaid and underpaid wage and commission claims and other wage law violations to help employees recover just compensation. We work closely with our clients to devise the best legal strategy for maximizing their recovery while resolving the dispute efficiently and effectively.

In many cases, an employee who brings a successful wage claim is entitled not only to back wages, but to an extra amount that serves to punish the employer for breaking the law. In most cases, the employer is required to pay the attorney’s fees incurred by an employee who brings a successful claim. Either way, you will not have to pay us any fees unless we recover money for you.

Our firm is ready to help you receive justice for the wrongdoing you have suffered for any type of employment related claim.  Our wage and hour attorneys are knowledgeable with decades of experience.  We are able to help victims anywhere in California, including Orange County, Los Angeles, and San Diego among others.

Contact The Cooper Law Firm to learn about the compensation to which you may be entitled if your rights as an employee were violated.


employment lawyer client testimonial

The Cooper Law Firm was great! I had 2 experiences with them and it was easy and hassle free and also took up very little of my time. My out comes were great with both cases. Everyone at the office was very nice and helpful as well.

Brittany K.

employment class action law firm client review

The Cooper Law Firm handled an employment/class action lawsuit for me. I was initially a bit weary, considering all the negative stereotypes that revolve around lawyers, but I need not have worried! From the very beginning, Scott was nothing but kind and courteous, and he explained each step of the legal process and answered all of my questions with patience. My case was handled with smooth precision, and I was very happy with the results. Last, but definitely not least, Scott's legal assistant, Andrea, was always very prompt in answering any questions and putting me in touch with Scott, and she was always very warm in her interactions with me.

Ghazala D.