What can we do about not getting paid from a private company?

My significant other had been working for a guy and his personal logging company for over 2 months now. He signed a liability form and the W-1040, I think it was. He was told $25/hourly

and has only been given money here and there due to issues with their machines. However, every time he says that he will pay them another excuse comes up. He owes him over 4-5k for how many hours he’s put it. I know you have to turn the product into the mills to get paid but still even then he’s still hasn’t gotten paid. They turned a load of logs in on Saturday and still didn’t pay him today, Monday. What can we do? We need that money and struggle paying a

babysitter when he’s not even being paid.

Asked on May 9, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

First and easiest option: contact the state department of labor to file a wage complaint. Employers have a legal obligation to pay employees regularly for their work (typically, every 2 weeks or twice a month) and a failure to do so is violation of the labor laws. The dept. of labor will investigate and bring for employees many (not all) claims for unpaid wages. If the dept. will help you, that is the best way to get this money.
Alternately, if after speaking with the dept., they cannot or will not help for some reason, you could sue for the money (in small claims court, if the amount is under the small claims maximum). Your significant other can be his own attorney ("pro se") to save legal fees, if he wants. He would sue based on breach of contract--violation of the agreement, even if oral or unrwitten, under which he did work for pay. He'd also sue based on "unjust enrichment"--that it is wrong to let the employer have the benefit of his work without paying for it. Good luck.

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