I work at a startup in Atlanta which recently ran into some funding issues. The owners decided to stop paying employees and contracters for 2 weeks telling them they could go home but they were expected to work and if we did not work our jobs may not be here when we return. It was not handled well and now their integrity is in question...we know we won't get paid on the 1st, but now we are all concerned te pronblem is not fixed and we may not get paid on the 15th either!
Please let me know if the employees and the contractors have any legal recourse. Apparently the company has plenty of money to pay vendors, so cash flow is not a good reason...
Is this legal? Do we have recourse for their lies about cashflow? The company is also run and owned by Chinese immigrants on visas...do we have any one we can report this unacceptable behavior to at ICE?
2 Answers from Attorneys
You have two choices going forward. You can be a fool and work for free for someone who doesn't pay you for work or you can quit. I'd suggest not being a fool.
After you quit, report them to the State Department of Labor and consider suing them in small claims court. There is no way to predict if you will collect.
It is certainly not uncommon for businesses (especially small businesses) to send employees home for a while because they cannot afford to pay them. This includes times when they may be paying vendors to keep the doors open. Sometimes the employees may work for free for the good of the company and also for themselves since if the company closes there are no jobs. If you don't think things were handled honestly and correctly and you bring "integrity" into the equation, certainly you can move on and go to the DOL to get the money for time worked for which they agreed to pay you. However, threats of complaints to ICE for what appears to be a rather basic dispute over getting paid for a couple weeks might backfire by making you appear vindictive and it won't get you paid.
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