What can I do if unknown to me, my employer had me work for free?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What can I do if unknown to me, my employer had me work for free?

I have been working for no wages under contract with my salary determined by the companies net revenue. The people I worked for were family friends and I didn’t suspect any underhanded dealings, but yesterday I was fired without cause and found out that my contract was never signed by my employers. So I’ve been working for free for months based on the promise of future pay from a contract that was never even signed. The owners of the company are moving out of the country in a month and I was wondering if there is anything I can do in that time?

Asked on July 27, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If there was an agreement to pay you for your work based on the company's revenues and they violated that agreement, you could sue them for breach of contract to recover the money owed you. However, if the owners are moving out of the country--and thus effectively out of reach (technically, you can often sue someone in another country, but practically, it is very difficult and expensive to do so, and you are still not guaranteed to collect your money) you need to act NOW. There are ways to freeze or otherwise lock down assets (like money in bank accounts) in this country before they are moved offshore. However, these are not necessarily easy techniques for a non-lawyer, so you should speak with an attorney immediately about this situation. The lawyer can advise you if, as a practical matter, you have a viable case (there are a number of potential challenges: for example, if you were employed by a LLC or corporation, you could only sue the business, not the owner(s)--which means that if the LLC or corporation has been dissolved or simply is now an empty shell with no assets, you will not get any money) and, if you do, take steps on hold onto the assets while you bring the legal action.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption