What are my rights for not getting paid my wages?

UPDATED: Jan 12, 2011

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What are my rights for not getting paid my wages?

I’m a carpenter working with a contractor. About a1 1/2 months ago he decided that he didn’t want to pay me for a single job I’ve done for him because he wanted me to finish another job I had with him first. That’s fine, but now after a third job, he still won’t pay me the whole amount he owes me. I’m behind on rent and other expenses. Now he wants me to finish yet another job. Can I sue him in order to get what he owes me, and is there a way to get more than that for refusal to pay and prolonging payment?

Asked on January 12, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

1) You can sue for money owed you under a contract or for services actually rendered. Suing is, in fact, the only way to be paid if the contractor will not pay voluntarily. You can sue in small claims court if the amount you're seeking is under the court's threshhold, which will let your represent yourself and save money.

2) You can sue for other direct costs caused by the contractor's refusal to pay--e.g. bounced check or overdraft fees--and may be able to get some interest on the money. However, you will not be able to sue for frustration or other damages like that; in a contract case, you basically get the money owed you under the contract.

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