• California's Budgetary Woes Have Changed the Labor Commissioner's Claims Process
  • May 24, 2010
  • Law Firm: Haight Brown Bonesteel LLP - Los Angeles Office
  • With the current budgetary problems in Sacramento, the two-step process of a Labor Commissioner hearing may be eliminated.  Previously, the first step was a mediation or informal conference where opposing parties would articulate their positions to the Labor Commissioner.  The Labor Commissioner would also provide the employer with an itemized worksheet prepared by the employee, setting forth the details of the claim.  Approximately 75% of these claims were either dismissed or settled at this stage.

    When a case didn’t settle, a formal Berman hearing under Labor Code Section 98(a) would be scheduled.  This hearing, over which a Labor Commissioner would preside, requires sworn witness testimony and documents.

    This two-step process may now become extinct.  The Labor Commissioner in San Francisco recently informed employers that it does not have the resources to determine if a dismissal is warranted or to attempt settlement.  The official position now appears to be that all claims, regardless of merit, will be set for a formal hearing.

    Employers will need to be prepared with formal documentation and records to defend what could be a barrage of overtime, break, vacation and termination pay claims.  The defense process for Labor Commissioner hearings will be much more expensive and complicated as the burden is on the employer to show the employee’s claim lacks merit.