CA Lab Code Section 98


The Labor Commissioner is authorized to investigate employee complaints. The Labor Commissioner may provide for a hearing in any action to recover wages, penalties, and other demands for compensation, including liquidated damages if the complaint alleges payment of a wage less than the minimum wage fixed by an order of the Industrial Welfare Commission or by statute, properly before the division or the Labor Commissioner, including orders of the Industrial Welfare Commission, and shall determine all matters arising under his or her jurisdiction. The Labor Commissioner may also provide for a hearing to recover civil penalties due pursuant to Section 558 against any employer or other person acting on behalf of an employer, including, but not limited to, an individual liable pursuant to Section 558.1. It is within the jurisdiction of the Labor Commissioner to accept and determine claims from holders of payroll checks or payroll drafts returned unpaid because of insufficient funds, if, after a diligent search, the holder is unable to return the dishonored check or draft to the payee and recover the sums paid out. Within 30 days of the filing of the complaint, the Labor Commissioner shall notify the parties as to whether a hearing will be held, whether action will be taken in accordance with Section 98.3, or whether no further action will be taken on the complaint. If the determination is made by the Labor Commissioner to hold a hearing, the hearing shall be held within 90 days of the date of that determination. However, the Labor Commissioner may postpone or grant additional time before setting a hearing if the Labor Commissioner finds that it would lead to an equitable and just resolution of the dispute. A party who has received actual notice of a claim before the Labor Commissioner shall, while the matter is before the Labor Commissioner, notify the Labor Commissioner in writing of any change in that party’s business or personal address within 10 days after the change in address occurs. It is the intent of the Legislature that hearings held pursuant to this section be conducted in an informal setting preserving the rights of the parties.


When a hearing is set, a copy of the complaint, which shall include the amount of compensation requested, together with a notice of time and place of the hearing, shall be served on all parties, personally or by certified mail, or in the manner specified in Section 415.20 of the Code of Civil Procedure.


Within 10 days after service of the notice and the complaint, a defendant may file an answer with the Labor Commissioner in any form as the Labor Commissioner may prescribe, setting forth the particulars in which the complaint is inaccurate or incomplete and the facts upon which the defendant intends to rely.


No pleading other than the complaint and answer of the defendant or defendants shall be required. Both shall be in writing and shall conform to the form and the rules of practice and procedure adopted by the Labor Commissioner.


Evidence on matters not pleaded in the answer shall be allowed only on terms and conditions the Labor Commissioner shall impose. In all these cases, the claimant shall be entitled to a continuance for purposes of review of the new evidence.


If the defendant fails to appear or answer within the time allowed under this chapter, no default shall be taken against him or her, but the Labor Commissioner shall hear the evidence offered and shall issue an order, decision, or award in accordance with the evidence. A defendant failing to appear or answer, or subsequently contending to be aggrieved in any manner by want of notice of the pendency of the proceedings, may apply to the Labor Commissioner for relief in accordance with Section 473 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The Labor Commissioner may afford this relief. No right to relief, including the claim that the findings or award of the Labor Commissioner or judgment entered thereon are void upon their face, shall accrue to the defendant in any court unless prior application is made to the Labor Commissioner in accordance with this chapter.


All hearings conducted pursuant to this chapter are governed by the division and by the rules of practice and procedure adopted by the Labor Commissioner.


(1)Whenever a claim is filed under this chapter against a person operating or doing business under a fictitious business name, as defined in Section 17900 of the Business and Professions Code, which relates to the person’s business, the division shall inquire at the time of the hearing whether the name of the person is the legal name under which the business or person has been licensed, registered, incorporated, or otherwise authorized to do business.


The division may amend an order, decision, or award to conform to the legal name of the business or the person who is the defendant to a wage claim, if it can be shown that proper service was made on the defendant or his or her agent, unless a judgment had been entered on the order, decision, or award pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 98.2. The Labor Commissioner may apply to the clerk of the superior court to amend a judgment that has been issued pursuant to a final order, decision, or award to conform to the legal name of the defendant, if it can be shown that proper service was made on the defendant or his or her agent.
Last Updated

Aug. 19, 2023

§ 98’s source at ca​.gov