On the campaign trail for the 2016 presidential elections, Bernie Sanders and other democrats raised the importance of a higher minimum wage. At the time, many private corporations shot down the idea of raising the minimum wage to the $15 Sanders recommended. However, several states disagreed. Since then, several of these put plans in place to raise the minimum wage annually to ensure residents make a more livable income. California is one such state.

According to the State of California’s Department of Industrial Relations, effective at the start of 2017, the Golden State continues to raise the minimum wage each year. The goal is to bring all employees to the $15 minimum wage proposal by 2023, giving companies time to adjust. California makes some exceptions for learners, workers with disabilities and nonprofit organizations employing people with disabilities.

In spite of this, workers may find that employers lag behind on paying the amount due to them. When this happens, California’s DIR recommends filing a wage claim. Some immigrants may fear filing because of their immigration status. However, the state website reminds all workers that they are protected regardless of their immigration status. The most important restriction workers should pay attention to is time. Some violations require filing within a year, while some may go up to four years.

When preparing to file, workers should ensure they have all the documentation ready. This includes pay stubs, total hours worked and the names of all responsible parties. Workers may submit this information via email, mail or in person. Once submitted, the Labor Commissioner’s Office investigates the claim. Note that workers may file regarding not just wages but also benefits.