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LawTalk, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 37855
Experience:  I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
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I work part time as a Spanish-English interpreter on workers

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I work part time as a Spanish-English interpreter on workers comp cases for an interpreter firm based in California, called 3iCorp. I work hourly. I submit reports to 3i after each job, then submit invoices to 3i. I have invoices pending since November 2012. They do not respond to emails or phone calls. I'm worried they may go bankrupt, but in any case, I do not know how to force them to pay me. What should I do?
Good morning,

I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today. In order to give you a clear and concise answer, I will need some additional information about the circumstances, please.

1. May I presume that you are an independent contractor for 3iCorp? In other words, they don't withhold taxes and give you a 1099 at the beginning of the year for your tax return?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Correct. I get a 1099. I am an independent contractor.

Good morning Stephen,

Thank you for clarifying that for me.

As an independent contractor, you are treated as a business and therefore the CA and federal employment laws that protect employees do not apply to you as a business owner.

When another business that you do work for does not pay you, your only remedy is to file suit against them for breach of contract. You may do so in the local Small Claims Court and that will avoid the necessity of you retaining an attorney to help you. You can sue for up to $10,000 in Small Claims Court, and the process will only take about 6 weeks.

WHile it may be premature to worry about bankruptcy, if they do, you will have your judgment and be able to make your creditor claim to the bankruptcy court if necessary. For the time being, all you need to do is give them a written demand for the money they owe---if you haven't already---and then you may file suit against them.

You may reply back to me again, using the Reply to Expert link, if you have additional questions.

I wish you the best in your future,

LawTalk and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Do I need to be present in person at small claims court in California? I live in Colorado.

Hi Stephen,

Yes, I'm sorry but you will have to appear in court at your trial. If you do not appear, the court will rule against your claim. There really is no other way around it.

If you have a written contract with the employer, and if the contract calls for legal fees to the prevailing party if suit is brought by one of you, you could use an attorney and sue in municipal court---but that would typically take a year or more to get to trial, I'm afraid.