What are my rights and liabilities has an unpaid worker?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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What are my rights and liabilities has an unpaid worker?

I worked with a not for profit organization this past summer and part of the spring. Last summer I was an unpaid intern and this summer I acted as a project coordinator, still unpaid, but no longer an intern. I was given more responsibilities this summer and I even had and intern under me. I did not complete my tasks as they were required of me and as a result I caused some delays for the organization. Do they have grounds to sue me?

Asked on August 12, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

1) No, they do not have grounds to sue you for not doing your job completely or correctly. They would only have grounds to sue you for negligently causing damage to their property (or losing their property) or intentionally damaging something, stealing from them, misappropriating confidential or proprietary information, etc. But not doing your job up to requirements or standards does not legally support a lawsuit or liabiltiy. Certainly, they could have fired you for this, but that's a different issue; they could also give you a negative recommendation.

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