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socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 38800
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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I am a communications consultant.

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I am a communications consultant. My contract w/a client is for 20 hrs/week w/2 weeks notice required by either party, arbitration if necessary. I have billed for 13 hours and not been paid. I have given 2 weeks notice and offered to finish the project. The client does not want me to finish the project. Can I not finish the work and get paid for the 2 weeks. Where do I stand, what can I do now.
Hello,

You have two options:

1. You can sue the client to recover damages for the work actually done. If your damages are $10,000 or less, you may be able to utilize small claims court. However, if you have a mandatory arbitration provision in your contract, and that provision does not contain an exception for small claims court resolution, then your only recourse would be to arbitrate -- which, regrettably, is quite a bit more costly than small claims court. See this link.

2. You can file a complaint with the EDD for payroll tax fraud; with the DLSE for a wage claim; and with the IRS for a determination of employment status. If one or more of the complaints are successful, you will be deemed an employee of the client, and the client will have to pay you for services rendered, regardless of any contractual dispute.

If you would like to see if you may actually be an employee, rather than an independent contractor, then see this worksheet.

Note: California law is extremely hostile to independent contractor agreements. Practically everyone is an employee, when rendering personal services. The worksheet, referenced above, aptly demonstrates just how difficult it is to maintain independent contractor status under California law. Employers can be subject to extraordinary fines for failure to treat a worker as an employee. Thus, the risk for the putative employer is extreme.

Hope this helps.


And, if you need to contact me again, please put my user id on the title line of your question (“ToCustomerrdquo;), and the system will send me an alert. Thanks!

socrateaser and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
This does not answer my questions. please advise
You asked: Can I not finish the work and get paid for the 2 weeks. Where do I stand, what can I do now.

A: Re the question, Can I not finish the work and get paid for the 2 weeks, the answer is that if your contract states that you are to be paid by the hour for services rendered (or similar language), then you can sue/arbitrate for the hours actually worked.

Whether or not you can force the client to pay you for the hours not worked is a more difficult question. Cal. Labor Code 2922 requires that a contract for employment have a specific future termination date at least one month in the future. Your contract contains only a two-week future termination date -- so, it would appear to be unenforceable. But, this gets back to the issue of whether or not you are an employee or an independent contractor, because Section 2922 only applies to employer-employee relations.

Assuming that you are an independent contractor, then under the common law of agency, while the client could terminate you "at will," I believe that you could enforce the remainder of the contract, as long as you can prove that (1) you made dilligent efforts to find substitute work during the remaining two-week notice period, and (2) that you were unable to find substitute work.

Hope this helps.


And, if you need to contact me again, please put my user id on the title line of your question (“ToCustomerrdquo;), and the system will send me an alert. Thanks!

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you. Client wants unfinished work. Am I obligated to turn over the unfinished work can't be provided as is. More time and work is necessary to put i n satisfactory form. Please recommend what I should do now.
Website policy, and California law prohibits me from recommending a course of action in this forum. That said, if the client has terminated your agreement, and you cannot complete the work, but you have agreed under the contract to provide certain tangible output, then you are obligated to provide whatever tangible product you have, regardless of its unfinished form. If there is nothing at all that you can provide, without doing more work, then you would provide nothing.

Example: Let's say that you drafted a press release, but the last paragraph is unfinished. You would provide the release in its unfinished form. Let's say that you only wrote an outline, but no actual text. You would provide the outline. Let's say that you only thought about the outline, but never put anything on paper. You would provide nothing.

The botXXXXX XXXXXne is that if you are terminated, then you are not obligated to do any further work. But, if the client paid for a tangible result, then the client is entitled to whatever tangible result exists at the moment of your termination.

You can also stand ready to resume work, assuming that you are paid for the work already done -- and you could request adequate assurance that you will be paid for the remaining work, for example by requiring that the client open an escrow account with the remainder of your payment, before you continue to perform.

Hope this helps.


And, if you need to contact me again, please put my user id on the title line of your question (“ToCustomerrdquo;), and the system will send me an alert. Thanks!


socrateaser and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
I received your feedback. I believe that this question was considerably more complex than either you or I realized. I also believe that my answer thoroughly covers the matter, and that if you were to have asked a lawyer in a traditional office consult, the answer would likely have been either flat wrong or so equvocal as to render it useless. And, you would have paid $350 or more for that result.

That said, if you need further clarification, feel free to ask, and I will try to answer without further expense. I really do want you to be thouroughly satisfied.

Note: You do not have to respond to this question -- even if the system requests a response.

Best wishes.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I I agree to pay $50. Thank you.

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