Without any paperwork to prove my employment basically it was under-the-table employment, do I stand any legal option to recover my final paycheck which is “off the books”?

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Without any paperwork to prove my employment basically it was under-the-table employment, do I stand any legal option to recover my final paycheck which is “off the books”?

I worked for friend as a sub-contractor but never filled out paperwork or signed paperwork to officially work for him. After quitting suddenly upon discovering my friend was engaging in illegal activities I am now having trouble collecting my last paycheck from him. When I suddenly quit without notice my friend was visible upset at the loss of someone he clearly thought he could take advantage of.

Asked on October 3, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Hawaii

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You can sue for the money even if there was no written agreement, if there was an oral sometimes, but incorrectly, called "verbal" agreement to pay you for doing the work, that agreement is enforceable if you are not paid for work you actually did, you could sue for it, for breach of contract. You could also sue under the theory of "unjust enrichement" that it is inequitable to allow the employer to benefit from your work without paying for it. For smaller amounts, less than the limit for your small claims court, suing in small claims, acting as your own attorney "pro se" to avoid legal fees is often a good option.
The fact that it was "under the table" doesn't prevent you from suing for the money remember, though, that if you don't pay taxes on your income, you are committing tax fraud and could face civil and possibly even criminal penalties for that.


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