What laws protect me and what rights do i have against someone who doesn’t want to pay me

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What laws protect me and what rights do i have against someone who doesn’t want to pay me

I have been working for about 48
days now, 3 to 7 days a week and i
havent recieved any pay, i have 2
kids and been told i was to be
paid the 25 of October then the
date was changed to the 45th day
of labor and was changed to in
between the 31st of October and
the 4th of november, to this day i
havent recieved any pay and i was
just fired for not having enough
gas to go to work

Asked on November 5, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

There's nothing you can do about the firing, unless your firing violated the terms of a written contract guarantying or protecting your job. In the absence of a written contract, all employment is "employment at will," which means, unfortunately, that you could be fired at any time, for any reason whatsoever.
However, you must be paid for the work you did. The employer/employee relationship is fundamentally a contractual one, even in the absence of a written contract. While, as stated, without a written contract, you have no protection going forward (e.g. from being terminated), you must be paid for all work you in fact did. That is because you did work according or pursuant to an agreement, even if only an oral or unwritten one, under which you agreed to work in exchange for pay. If you did your part--you worked--the employer is contractually obligated to do his part and pay you. 
You could contact your state department of labor to file a wage and hour complaint; they may be able to help you. If they don't or are simply being very slow (which is possible; they are a government agency, after all), you could sue your employer for "breach of contract" for the money. If the total due to you is within the upper limit for small claims court, suing in small claims, as your own attorney ("pro se") to save money is a very good option; otherwise, hire an attorney to help you. Good luck.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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