Employment Law Questions? Ask an Employment Lawyer.
Hello and welcome. My name is ***** ***** it will be my pleasure to assist you. Was this person working as an employee or an independent contractor? Are they suing you in small claims court? Lastly, when you say that he didn't have "any paperwork" can you explain what you mean? I very much look forward to helping you on this matter.
Whether you have a defense will likely turn on whether this person was an employee or an independent contractor. That, in turn, depends on whether you were controlling the manner and means by which they did theyir work or if you were essentially hiring them to complete a task and gave them the freedom to do it in whatever manner they saw fit.
If the worker was an employee, you simply cannot deduct any portion of their earned wages to offset for their poor workman ship. This is not allowed under the labor laws that apply to employees. If the worker was a contractor, then general principles of contract law would permit you to withhold that portion of payment which represents the uncompleted work, which you had to pay to someone else in order to get the job done.
So essentially your argument here would have to be that this person was an independent contractor because you were not controlling how they did their work, and that they failed to do the job adequately causing you to suffer damage which justify your withholding of the rest of the agreed upon payment.
If I can clarify anything at all for you, please do not hesitate to ask. It is my pleasure to assist you further if necessary....
Please see my response to you above....
Was there anything else I can do for you?
Yes, it sounds like the $4,000 is a penalty for having failed to pay this individual's final earned wages in a timely manner. However, that penalty only applies if the individual was properly classified as an employee. You can read about the distinction between employee and contractor in more detail here. If you succeed in arguing that this individual was properly classified as a contractor, then no penalty for the failure to timely pay all final earned wages would be assessed.
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