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A man that I know offered me a job straight out of school.

He told me that I...
A man that I know offered me a job straight out of school. He told me that I would be a contract employee with his LLC and offered me x amount for salary, along with many other promises, such as a contract with bonuses, etc. I accept because the offer sounded good, turning down other interviews that I had lined up. When I graduated I moved up to VA from SC and he put me up in hotel, which was fine at first until I wanted to start looking for an apt and he kept telling me to wait. I get up here and now all of a sudden he does not want to put me on payroll, which is what i understood would be happening when I came up here. Apparently when he told me contract employee he meant independent contractor, never saying anything to me about me having to pay my own taxes when I was initially making the decision to relocate up here. I do some research on the IRS website and find out that we have a clearly defined employer/employee relationship and it is frown upon for me to be an independent contractor since he is my boss. I tell him this and it does not phase him. Finally after almost nagging him that I dont want to break the law, he calls his accountant and works out a payroll situation. He then tells me that if I want to stay working here I have to take a pay cut so he can afford to pay all the taxes necessary, workers comp, etc.. So I agree because I have already uprooted my life to move up here and really have no other options at the time. I have been working for him 2 weeks at this time and he has been giving me personal checks for payment. He tells me after the payroll conversation that we had on a thursday that the following monday I would be on payroll and collecting all the benefits that follow and we would sign a contract(that he told me would initially be finalized before I even moved up here, I have text messages proving this). I agree and we move on, get an apt, register my car and get a VA drivers licence, spend $300 to get my car to pass state inspection, plus my parents spend hundreds moving my furniture and everythings up here. Everything said almost $2000. Next monday, no contract, no I9 no W4, nothing. the following friday...still personal check as payment. Finally the following tuesday I ask him how he is calculating the money that he gave me on friday because it is not adding up to what it should be and he told me that he is paying me hourly until he talks to his accountant to set up payroll. This was never discussed with me and not what we agreed upon, and I told him. So he blows up and fires me. He never told me anything about why he has not written up a contract or set up a payroll that he told me would be done almost 10 days earlier. Now it will cost me $2500 to get out of my apt and I am stuck with bills that I cannot pay because he never set up payroll like he said, so I cant even collect unemployment until I find another job. Do I have a case from Reimbursement of moving costs and the cost to get out of my lease?
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Answered in 17 minutes by:
6/13/2013
TexLaw
TexLaw, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 4,430
Experience: Contracts, Wrongful termination and discrimination
Verified
Hi,

Thank you for your question and I'm very sorry to hear about your situation.

In the verbal agreement you came to with this gentleman, did you have any agreement regarding whether or not you could be fired without cause?

If so, what was your specific understanding of that agreement?

Also, do you have anything in writing at all that would confirm this?
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Did you recieve that? I am not sure if It went through on my end. If not, we never discussed firing and I have a notarized letter from the bank that he wrote so I could get an apartment. discussing my full time employment start date and my yearly salary. Along with bonuses I would potentially recieve

I don't think I got your first response, but this is enough for me to go on.

Usually, unless there is a written agreement stating otherwise, an employee is considered "at-will". In Virginia, and throughout the United States, employment law heavily favors the employer in most situations. Unless the employee has a contract which provides that the employee may only be terminated for cause, the law will hold that the employee's right to work falls under the At Will Doctrine. The At Will Doctrine provides that an employer may terminate an employee for any reason whatsoever, even if it is a false reason. The only limitation on this is that an employer may not terminate an employee because of discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, military status, national origin, disability, age, or ancestry of the employee.

In your case, the employer made an offer to you to become a contractor, which in employment law terms is referring to an independent contractor. He held the opportunity open for you but it sounds to me that the employment offer was then modified to allow you to become an employee rather than an independent contractor.

However, it also seems that the switch over from an independent contractor to a payroll employee never took place and he terminated you before he ever put you on payroll.

As that is the case, you need to understand that all the money he paid you will be subject to self-employment taxes. So remember that when your taxes are due next year.

Interestingly, under Virginia law, I found a case which states that an at-will employee may claim wrongful termination under the theory of promissory estoppel where the employee turns down other employment and incurs moving expenses. Widder v. Eagle Research Group,XXXXX 99 (1991).

Thus, it is possible for you to sue the employer here to recover your moving expenses (i.e., reliance damages).

Your case is not exactly clear cut because it does appear that the employer did at first honor the agreement. However, when he promised to transfer you to payroll and failed to do so and also failed to pay you as you were originally promised, there is a definitely breach that I think is actionable under the law.

Please let me know if you have any further questions. Please also kindly consider rating my answer positively so that I am compensated by the website for my work on your question. Rating positively does not cause an additional charge and does not prevent us from further discussing your questions.

Best Regards,
ZDN


TexLaw
TexLaw, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 4,430
Experience: Contracts, Wrongful termination and discrimination
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