Is an agent of a company liable for a debt that is owed?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is an agent of a company liable for a debt that is owed?

I was working for an agency and I was the writing agent. As part of my agreement with the agency, I was going to get leads and I would get $100 per application. I worked there for 1 1/2 months and never got paid and left the agency. It turns out that the owner took the money and ran off with it. Now the collectors are contacting me to pay. Am I liable for anything since I didn’t receive the money; everything is written under my name?

Asked on November 7, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

It depends on how you signed any agreements. Generally, an employee is NOT liable for company debts. However, if you signed any agreements in your own name and personal capacity, and *not* as, say "John/Jane Doe, Marketing Manager of XYZ Corp.", then they may be able to hold you liable because you accepted personal liability. They could also hold you liable IF there is evidence that you helped or collaborated with the owner in committing fraud or theft, since in that case, you would be liable due to your own wrongful action, and not merely as an employee.

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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