Alan Cohen Law

Unpaid Wages

Practice Areas
Unpaid Wages

San Francisco Unpaid Wages Attorney

Disputes regarding unpaid wages are some of the most common legal issues between employers and employees. “Wages” are defined by California’s Labor Code as all compensation received for labor, services, or work performed. This can include traditional hourly pay, tips, bonuses, and overtime compensation.

Alan F. Cohen has been representing the hardworking people in San Francisco, the Bay Area, and throughout California concerning employment law issues for more than twenty years. Unfortunately, we know all too well that wage and overtime disputes run rampant throughout the San Francisco area. It is so commonplace there is a term for it – wage theft. If you are involved in a dispute concerning unpaid wages, contact our experienced employment lawyer in San Francisco today for a free initial consultation. Wage and hour law can be very complicated; it is vital that employees talk to counsel with deep experience in this area to have the best chance of recovering unpaid wages.

Examples of Unpaid Wage Disputes

We know that employees in the Bay Area work hard for their money. We also know that unethical employers often try to take advantage of workers by withholding wages, hoping the employees simply don’t know their rights or won’t fight back out of fear. For that reason, we fight for our clients to get paid every penny they’ve earned. Below are a few common examples of situations that may justify pursuing a legal claim based on a wage or overtime dispute:

  • Misclassification of employees: Different types of workers have different rights. For example, persons labeled as independent contractors receive far fewer protections from an employer than do employees. Companies may attempt to incorrectly classify employees as independent contractors to avoid providing certain benefits or pay. The increasing popularity of “gig workers” and short-term job opportunities has made misclassification a growing problem. If you are unsure whether your employer properly classified you as an independent contractor or full-time employee, contact our seasoned San Francisco unpaid wages attorney today for a free initial consultation.
  • Tips and commissions disagreements: Commissions plans can be very complicated and sometimes contain unlawful provisions. Employers sometimes withhold commissions or bonuses based on those provisions. Wage theft can occur when tipped employees are forced to share their tips with employees in non-customer-facing roles, like managers or dishwashers. Employers who withhold tips or commissions that an employee rightly earned are likely violating the law.
  • Unpaid overtime: Unless they meet the strict criteria for an exemption, nearly all workers in California are entitled to overtime pay for working more than eight hours in a single day or more than forty hours in a single week. Overtime should be at least one and a half times the employee’s regular pay. Misclassifying employees as “exempt” is a common tactic for avoiding the legal requirement to pay workers for overtime. Sometimes employers pay employees a straight salary instead of hourly pay, wrongly believing they are exempt from the overtime laws.
  • Meal and rest break violations. Most employees in California are entitled to a paid rest break of at least ten minutes for every four hours worked. They are also entitled to an uninterrupted thirty-minute meal break during which they are completely off duty if they work more than five hours in a day (and a second break if they work more than ten hours).
  • Unlawful deductions: State and federal laws regulate the deductions that an employer may take out of an employee’s paycheck. For example, reducing the pay of a salaried employee for arriving late to work may be in violation of the law.
  • Wages held in retaliation: It is illegal for employers to withhold wages in retaliation for reporting a problem within the company. This type of discrimination is known as whistleblower retaliation, and it is against the law.

These are some of the most common unpaid wage disputes we handle, but it’s certainly not all of them. Please call our office to discuss your wage or overtime issue and legal options.

San Francisco Employment Lawyer Fighting for You

Employees deserve the peace of mind of knowing that when they do an honest day’s work, they will be compensated fairly. When employers fail to uphold their responsibilities to pay employees what they’ve earned, those companies can face penalties or even a lawsuit.

If your employer owes you unpaid wages or overtime earnings, contact the Law Offices of Alan F. Cohen today for a free initial consultation with our San Francisco employment lawyer.

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Call (415)984-1943


Alan F. Cohen

San Francisco Employment Lawyer

Alan F. Cohen


Alan F. Cohen

For 25 years, Alan Cohen has provided fierce advocacy and sophisticated employment representation to Bay Area employees. Mr.Cohen has recovered millions of dollars in damages, negotiated hundreds of severance and employment agreements, and protected the jobs and rights of all kinds of workers. From fast-food workers to CEOs, he has dedicated his career to protecting employees at every level. Mr.Cohen’s deep knowledge of employment law and creative, committed advocacy give his clients an edge in any dispute. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is. He regularly represents and counsels employees throughout California against the biggest law firms and corporations in the world.

“I am so grateful that I reached out to Alan when I did. I was
pushed out of my last job and about to accept a measly severance
when a friend of mine referred me to Alan. I wasn’t sure if I had a
case, but after reviewing the materials I sent to him he assured me
that we could get more than what was being offered…”
Candace L.

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