The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement http://www.dir.ca.gov/DLSE/ and the Office of the Labor Commissioner were established to adjudicate wage claims, investigate discrimination and public works complaints, and enforce Labor Code statutes and Industrial Welfare Commission orders.
You can file a claim against your employer if you bellieve s/he owes you money that was not provide to you at termination time. CAVEAT: You may want to first CONSULT with an attorney verse in this area of the employment law before filing your claim. S/he will explain the advantage and disadvantage of filing with DLSE instead of the Courts. In some cases, you may be able to first file with DLSE and then dismiss the claim to purse all of your rights under the Courts jurisdiction. You may skip the DLSE filing alltogether, and go directly to Court for relief. You may need to know if your Employer has an Arbitration clause in their employment contract before proceeding to Court or you may find yourself facing a MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION to "bump you" out of court.
If the best strategy is filing with DLSE then, after your claim is completed and filed with a local office of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), it will be assigned to a Deputy Labor Commissioner who will determine, based upon the circumstances of the claim and information presented, how best to proceed. Initial action taken regarding the claim can be referral to a conference or hearing, or dismissal of the claim.
If the decision is to hold a conference, the parties will be notified by mail of the date, time and place of the conference. The purpose of the conference is to determine the validity of the claim, and to see if the claim can be resolved without a hearing. If the claim is not resolved at the conference, the next step usually is to refer the matter to a hearing or dismiss it for lack of evidence.
At the hearing the parties and witnesses testify under oath, and the proceeding is recorded. After the hearing, an Order, Decision, or Award (ODA) of the Labor Commissioner will be served on the parties.
Either party may appeal the ODA to a civil court of competent jurisdiction. The court will set the matter for trial, with each party having the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses. The evidence and testimony presented at the Labor Commissioner's hearing will not be the basis for the court's decision. In the case of an appeal by the employer, DLSE may represent an employee who is financially unable to afford counsel in the court proceeding.
See the Policies and Procedures of Wage Claim Processing pamphlet under the DLSE website, for more detail on the wage claim procedure.