DOES A COMPANY HAVE TO PAY ME FROM THE TIME THEY HIRED ME UNTIL THEY WENT OUT OF BUSINESS IF I WAS ON-CALL BUT NEVER WORKED?

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DOES A COMPANY HAVE TO PAY ME FROM THE TIME THEY HIRED ME UNTIL THEY WENT OUT OF BUSINESS IF I WAS ON-CALL BUT NEVER WORKED?

I WAS HIRED BY A COMPANY AT PREVAILING WAGE. I PASSED MY DRUG SCREEN AND WAS GIVEN A HIRE PACKET. THEY TOLD ME TO CALL IN EVERY DAY TO FIND OUT WHERE I WAS WORKING THE NEXT DAY. I DID THIS EVERY DAY FROM 01/19 – 02/10. I FOUND OUT TODAY THAT THE COMPANY WENT UNDER. ONE OF THE EMPLOYEE’S TOLD ME THAT THE COMPANY HAS TO PAY ME FROM THE DATE OF MY HIRE UNTIL NOW. DO I HAVE A CASE?

Asked on February 10, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You MAY have a case--it depends on the exact circumstances. If as a result of being hired, either--

a) While calling in, you had to keep yourself available and as a practical matter, could not seek other employment; or

b) Reasonably relied on promises or representations made by the company that they would have work for you, and for that reason did not seek other work

--you may be able to assert a legal claim against them. In the first instance, it would be based on the fact that if you had to limit your activities to call in and be available, that limitation is in essence "work"--you are doing something for the company's benefit, not your own. In the second instance, it would be based on the notion of "promissory estoppel," which is that someone cannot get you to do something by making a promise or representation that is reasonable for yoru to rely on, then abandon their own obligations.

Acting against you would be if there was a clear indication that work is not guaranteed--i.e. that you'd only have it when available and might not have any given or set amount. In that case, it would not necessarily be reasonable to simply wait for their call instead of doing other work.

You could try filing a complaint with your state  dept. of labor. Alternately, you may have to sue to recover any money you are owed, which--depending on the amount--might not be worth it.


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