California Labor Code § 210 incentivizes employers to pay workers on time by making them subject to late fees. A first-time violation of paying late carries a $100 penalty. But if the lateness is intentional – or if the employer has been late at least once before – then the penalty is a $200 fine plus 25% of the wages unlawfully withheld.
The full text of the statute reads as follows:
210. (a) In addition to, and entirely independent and apart from, any other penalty provided in this article, every person who fails to pay the wages of each employee as provided in Sections 201.3, 204, 204b, 204.1, 204.2, 204.11, 205, 205.5, and 1197.5, shall be subject to a penalty as follows:
(1) For any initial violation, one hundred dollars ($100) for each failure to pay each employee.
(2) For each subsequent violation, or any willful or intentional violation, two hundred dollars ($200) for each failure to pay each employee, plus 25 percent of the amount unlawfully withheld.
(b) The penalty shall either be recovered by the employee as a statutory penalty pursuant to Section 98 or by the Labor Commissioner as a civil penalty through the issuance of a citation or pursuant to Section 98.3. The procedures for issuing, contesting, and enforcing judgments for citations issued by the Labor Commissioner under this section shall be the same as those set forth in subdivisions (b) through (k), inclusive, of Section 1197.1.
(c) An employee is only entitled to either recover the statutory penalty provided for in this section or to enforce a civil penalty as set forth in subdivision (a) of Section 2699, but not both, for the same violation.
California Labor Code 210 LC makes employers subject to financial penalties for failing to pay their employees on the scheduled payday. A first-time violation typically carries a $100 fine. But if the employer purposely withheld payment – or if it is the successive time that the employer has been late to pay – then the penalty is:
- $200, and
- 25% of the unlawfully withheld paycheck.
LC 210 permits employees to seek these penalties directly from their employer. Alternatively, employees can go through the Labor Commissioner to get their back wages, but then the Labor Commissioner would keep the fines for itself.
Note that employees who pursue back wages through LC 210 are not allowed to pursue these same back wages through PAGA (Private Attorneys General Act), and vice versa. Employees stand to make more money in penalties by going the LC 210 route rather than the PAGA route.1
See our related articles on Waiting Time Penalties” for “Unpaid Wages” After Termination in California and wage and hour lawsuits.
- California Labor Code 210 LC – Penalty for failure to pay; Recovery. Assembly Bill 673 (2019). See also: Amaral v. Cintas Corp. No. 2 (Cal. App. 1st Dist., 2008), 163 Cal. App. 4th 1157, 78 Cal. Rptr. 3d 572; Sampson v. Parking Service 2000 Com., Inc. (Cal. App. 2d Dist., 2004), 117 Cal. App. 4th 212, 11 Cal. Rptr. 3d 595.