Can someone put a stop payment on check for money that they owe me?

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Can someone put a stop payment on check for money that they owe me?

I received a check as a payment for hours I had worked on a side gig. However, I got hurt on that gig and could no longer do the job. The man gave me a check which I deposited. It cleared but the next day those funds were removed from my account because he put a stop payment on it. Now he refuses to give me the money for the hours I already worked because I will not be returning to complete the job. He also made sexual advances which made me very uncomfortable. The next day, I brought in a helper to make the job go faster and so I didn’t have to be alone with him. Can he do that? I have written proof of him saying what he owes me and that there is nothing to discuss unless I return there and keep working. What can I do?

Asked on July 10, 2018 under Business Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You can sue him for  the money: he is obligated to pay you for the work which you did IF that work is useful to him--the law does not let him get the value of your work without paying you for it. In this case, you would sue him for "breach of contract": that is, for violating the agreement (even if only an oral or unwritten one) under which you agreed to do work and he agreed to pay you for it.
However, if the work you did up to the point at which you were injured is not in any way useful--e.g. it all has to be redone by someone else--then he would not have to pay you for it, since in that case, you did not perform, even in part, under the contract: you provided nothing of value.


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