Can I pursue legal action against my former employer to get him to pay me?

About 4 months ago, I was approached by an acquaintance about joining his company. He works as a marketing consultant and was getting a lot of business so he needed to expand his team. He knew I was unhappy at the job I was at during the time and offered me a job with him. We met throughout that and the next month to train and strategize. I had an official start date of 3 weeks ago, so I quit my job 2 weeks prior. He told me the exact day to put in my 2 week notice. However, when my start date came, he then decided to tell me our office wasn’t

ready but would be the following week. I did some email marketing from home and the next week met him at the office. It still wasn’t done. He was constantly lying and saying he had a spot there but he didn’t. When we go to the office they were only 25 done with construction and had a table for us to rent for the day. He assigned me clients and also had me hire and intern. She was hired and trained. I have spent dozens of hours on this job and he never paid me. I did a lot of work for him. A lot. I was running client accounts and training his employees. He had a vacation schedule which I knew about but there were a lot of issues while he was gone that I was trying to get a hold of him to talk about. He never answered. When he got back I tried calling and texting – no answer. I eventually messaged him on Facebook because you can see if someone opens it – he opened my messages and never responded. This guy had me quit my job and everything. I know ultimately that was my decision but I’m wondering if there is anything else I can do to get paid. I’ve been contacting him daily asking him when I can expect some sort of pay. I’m only asking for $300, which is lower than I should get, but I can’t even afford rent now and have been applying elsewhere but am not having a ton of luck. I don’t understand how he can hire me and then disappear and completely ignore me.

Asked on April 28, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Arizona


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If there as an agreement to pay you (i.e. the two of you weren't partners who were not drawing a salary, but would rather split any money the company made) then you may sue him for all the money shold have been paid. For example, if you were supposed to get $500 per week and worked full time for three weeks, he'd owe you $1,500; if you were supposed to get $15 per hour and worked a total of 100 hours, you'd again be owed $1,500. Whatever the amount should have been, you may sue him for it. (Of course, you are free to settle the claim for less, if you choose.) If the amount is equal to or less than the limit for your small claims court, suing him in small claims, acting as your own attorney to minimize legal costs, is a good idea. To win your case, you will need to prove in court, by a "preponderance of the evidence" (that it is "more likely than not") that he had agreed to pay you a certain amount and that you had done a certain amount (e.g. a certain number of hours or days) of work. You can use your testimony, printouts from social media (you  have to print the material out for court), printouts of emails or text messages, correspondence or agreements, etc. to make your case.

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