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Hi Lisa, you have brought up a couple of issues, so let me try to address them in turn. Just because the company says that they do not have any employees does not actually make it true. Most independent contractors in California are actually misclassified, and should be receiving overtime, as well as rest and meal breaks under the law.
To determine whether you are actually an independent contractor, or an employee, you have to look at how much control you have over the work that you do. The three main types of control that are looked at are financial control, behavioral control, and relationship control between the parties.
Generally speaking, independent contractors retain control over their schedule and number of hours worked, jobs accepted, and performance of their job. In addition, they may have a major investment in equipment, furnish all their own supplies, provide their own insurance, repairs, and all other expenses related to their business. They may also perform a special service that is not in the normal course of business of the employer. This contrasts with the situation for regular employees, who usually work at the schedule required by the employer and whose performance is directly supervised by the employer.
In response to the $800, whether or not you are an employee or an independent contractor, they cannot withhold the $800 from your hours and you could bring a claim against them.
However, if you are an independent contractor, the claim would need to be brought in small claims court for the $800 whereas if you are an employee then the claim could be brought to the department of labor, or in a court of competent jurisdiction.
In short, the best course of action at this point would be to talk to an employment attorney in your area to see if they think you could be classified as an employee. If so, they would take your case on contingency, which means that you would end up paying nothing out of pocket in order to receive a significant amount of money. If you decide to hire an attorney, a great resource is www.Martindale.com. This is a nationwide directory that is useful in finding highly qualified legal specialists in various fields of law. The lawyers in Martindale are not selected because they paid to be included, but rather because they have been rated by other attorneys as qualified experts in their field. Consider consulting with two or three different attorneys prior to selecting the one you feel most comfortable with.
If for any reason they do not want to give you a free consultation, feel free to hang up and call the next person on the list. There are many attorneys who give free consultations in cases like this.
Hi Lisa, welcome to the chat.
If, however, you cannot find an attorney who believes you would qualify as an employee, but rather you are an independent contractor, then your best course of action would be to file a claim in small claims for the $800 where you would undoubtedly win.
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