Do I have to pay for poor and late work that cost me thousands to a non-employee contractor?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Do I have to pay for poor and late work that cost me thousands to a non-employee contractor?

Hello there

I own a small business making fashion items and costumes for a living. I had
one gig that I brought in a helper who is not an employee to speed up the
process. This person ruined a 3000.00 jacket and never met deadlines causing
me and the client who just happens to be a celebrity known world wide, forcing
them to push back their project by a year and caused the client and I to spend
1400.00 more for rush shipping of the purchased items to Europe.

I was wondering if I still have to pay this person, deduct the cost from their
pay or in screwed and have to pay them in full.

Thanks for you time


Asked on February 12, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

A detailed answer, specific to your situation, will require a review by an attorney who can analyze the situation in detail, how this person in fact worked for/with you (which is MUCH more important than whether you called them a "contractor" or not), and any documentation (e.g. agreements, contracts, etc. with this person).
As  a general matter: if a contractor (a non-employee) breached their contract by not meeting deadlines, not providing work to the agreed-upon specifications, and/or not providing commerically acceptable work, their breach of their agreement (whether written or oral/unwritten) would be grounds to either not pay them at all, or at least to only pay them for that portion of the work they did to the contractual requirements.
If, however, regardless of what you called them, they should be considered an employee (the met the criteria to be considered an employee: e.g. you managed them like you would manage an employee), then you would have to pay them but could sue them to recover your provable losses. Employers cannot withhold or deduct employee pay without employee consent, no matter how bad a job the employee did, but retain the option to sue for losses or costs incurred.

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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