Is an employer required to pay a contractor for work that was done 12 years ago?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is an employer required to pay a contractor for work that was done 12 years ago?

A nurse contractor worked 2 weeks for a company then noted many years later that she was never reimbursed for the work the paper check was never cashed. Does the company still owe the contractor for the work done, even though it was 12 years ago?

Asked on January 2, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, they have no legal obligation to pay (perhaps they have a moral obligation, but moral obligations are not enforceable). The employer/employee agreement is essentially a contractual one: the employee agrees to work in exchange for pay. If the employee is not paid, he/she can sue for breach of contract. However, there is a time limit, called the "statute of limitations," for how long you have to bring lawsuits--once that period of time has passed, you cannot sue, which means there is no way to enforce an obligation to pay. In your state, the statute of limitations for violating contracts is only 5 years, so after 12 years, it is far too late to require them to pay.

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 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.

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