As a U.S. resident and contractor who works online for a company in the Ukraine, I want to know if it is legal for them to remove money from my account for

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As a U.S. resident and contractor who works online for a company in the Ukraine, I want to know if it is legal for them to remove money from my account for

I work online for a writing company, and since the moment I’ve started working there, money has been removed from my account by them. According to their business model, if the customer has a complaint and wants money back, they take money out of my account while reviewing the case or take it away altogether. In this way, the person who owns the site essentially suffers from no damages. However, it means that I’m not paid for work I’ve done. The people who make these decisions aren’t very literate either, so they try to justify why it is taken but they don’t know enough about what I’m writing to do so. Ultimately, I want to understand more about what the laws are in this instance, including if this is legal because I am working as a contractor for someone in another country. If it is not, what legal avenues can I pursue?

Asked on March 24, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

As a contractor, you do not have the protections afforded employees. Essentially, you are a business providing services to another business, and anything you contractually agree to is legal and permissible--so if you agreed to this, they can do it. 
That said, this model is clearly highly abusive and can result in you effectively never getting paid. Because they are in a different country, if you believe they are violating the agreement or committing fraud (e.g. withdrawing money when there isn't really any legitimate grounds to do so), you will find suing them difficult and expensive at best. You have no effective protections. You are *strongly* advised to 1) stop working for them, and 2) change your bank account number so they can't access your account any longer.


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