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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12647
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I was a drywall contractor. I had a guy do some taping for

Customer Question

I was a drywall contractor. I had a guy do some taping for me on a job. He didn't have any paperwork at the time but I let him do the job. My mistake. He did a poor job so I only paid him like 800 of the 1350 and had to pay another crew to fix his work with the money I held back. Now he's trying to get over 4000 from me in court. Do I have any argument?
JA: Because employment law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: California
JA: Is the employment agreement "at will," union, full time or part time?
Customer: part time per job
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I have offered to make payments on the difference but he will only take the over 4000 in cash or I deposit into his account. We have a court date 10/26/16 in civil court
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 10 months ago.

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.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
It was piece work on a per job basis. Yes I have a cort date in San Luis Obispo County Courthouse 10/26/16. We went to the labor board to try to resolve this but he wanted to be paid in full again even after I paid him 800 in cash. My mistake. He didnt have ss# ***** drivers license.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I have offered to pay the left over portion even though I feel its not right, to keep this from going farther but hes not willing to work with me and now wants the added amount total of over 4000.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 10 months ago.

Thank you.

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....

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I guess you could say he was working as an independent contractor. He was not an employee at the time.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 10 months ago.

Please see my response to you above....

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 10 months ago.

Was there anything else I can do for you?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Do I have any chance of not having to pay the 4000+ and just have to pay the 600 or so?
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 10 months ago.

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.

Again, I hope this helps. If I have answered your question, please do not forget to leave positive feedback by clicking on the 5 stars at the top of your page, as the attorneys here are not employees of the site and otherwise do not receive credit for spending time with customers. Best wishes to you as you move forward here.