Should I file a small claims court suit or file an unpaid wages claim?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Should I file a small claims court suit or file an unpaid wages claim?

I’ve recently been notified that my former employer will not be paying my wages that are due to me. Let me preface this with, I am a website developer. I was hired on with an oral contract stating that I would be paid $1500/week for a 50 hour work week. I was also told that I would be paid a $5,000 bonus after completing 3 landing pages. I completed 8 landing pages within a week and asked to speak directly with the owner of the company. The owner of the company sent me his address and told me to come meet with him. I met with the owner of the company, and he had no interest in looking at the nearly 300 completed work, and when I brought up the bonus, he became enraged. He then proceeded to tell me to,

Asked on January 12, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If you were actually an employee (i.e. paid on a W-2 basis), try filing a wage complaint with the state department of labor first; they may be able to help you for free. If they can't or won't help, you can always file a lawsuit (e.g. in small claims) next.
If you were paid as an independent contractor (e.g. on a 1099 basis), you'll have to sue: the dept. of labor only helps employees and deals with employer-employee issues.
If you sue, you can in that lawsuit also determine ownership if the intellectual property (the landing pages). 

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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