Can I sue an out-of-state employer?

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Can I sue an out-of-state employer?

I worked for a NJ company for a few years. My title was GM but the owner kept saying I was contract labor – we had no contract. He never withheld wages, he set my hours and assigned my tasks. Now I’ve quit and he won’t pay my final invoice. Claims he has no money though all others are getting paid, (I checked). Told me to sue him for the balance. How do I do that from WA, and can I add employment violations to the case?

Asked on July 20, 2011 Washington

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You would not be a contract laborer if you were a W-2 employee. If you were an independent contractor (contract laborer), then you would be invoicing and getting payment on invoices. It appears you invoiced so it doesn't appear you were an employee. If you were not an employee, you do not enjoy the benefits employees have according to state and federal labor laws. If you are not paid on the final invoice, then your recourse would be indeed to sue him to obtain a judgment. If he files bankruptcy, your debt may be discharged by the court or if he files for reorganization, you may have to get in line with other creditors for payment. Go over what paperwork you have. If you were indeed a W-2 employee or at least should have been one, contact your state's department of labor, show your paperwork to the staff legal counsel and see if it would launch an inquiry or ask you to file a complaint to see if you should have been considered a W-2 employee and been paid.


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