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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I am an independent contractor promotional company in New

Customer Question

I am an independent contractor for a promotional company in New York State. We have to submit our hours worked every week to the owner of the company. I recently submitted my two weeks notice to the owner and now she is refusing to pay me for the hours I submitted. What are my rights as an independent contractor in NYS? Also, the owner is now basically bad mouthing me to customers I used to work with and also the co-workers I work with in a defamation way.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 9 months ago.

Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question.

As a contractor your only remedy for a breach of contract is to file a civil lawsuit for breach of contract. If the amount is less than $5,000, you can sue in small claims court where the procedure is vastly simplified and the costs of litigation are much less. See here to get started.

I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.

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Customer: replied 9 months ago.
In addition, she has manipulated my hours on a weekly basis with her accountant when I go over 40 hours a week. This has resulted in not being paid for additional weeks on end. Can she legally do that?
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Apology, I mean over 20 hours a week
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 9 months ago.

As a contractor your rights are only those which are provided for in your contract. You are not protected by state or federal labor laws. That said, if you had an agreement that you would be paid hourly for your time, your employer would be in breach of contract by not paying you for all the hours that you worked. This is also something you could pursue in your small claims suit.

Now, I think it's important to note that not just anyone can be classified as an independent contractor. Only when the worker has a large degree of independence in how they do their work would independent contractor status be appropriate. (See here for more information) If you can argue that your employment does not meet the criteria for contractor classification, then you have remedies under the labor code and can file a wage claim with the NY Dept. of Labor. (See here)

If it is determined that your employer misclassified you, they may also face a variety of penalties from the Department of Labor and IRS. Therefore, the threat of a misclassification claim gives you leverage to negotiate a resolution of this matter. Very often that is the best first course of action.

I hope this helps.

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 9 months ago.

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