Legal Question in Employment Law in Michigan

I was signed on as an independent contractor in order to save my "poor" new employer from paying withholding taxes and soley worked for him for over a year. My responsibilities were recently terminated without notice. As sales and marketing director of online sales, I continued to do my job upgrading and maintaining the website, sales, customer service, marketing development etc...He is now holding my last weeks paycheck hostage for the return of my computer which he voluntarily purchased for me over a year ago when mine became damaged beyond repair implenting an on-line procedure specifically requested by him. I have 2 witnesses to that fact. Nothing was put in writing. He only holds the receipt for the purchase. I refused to return the computer which has been at my work location for over a year. He then submitted a search warrant with charges of larceny (although i was not arrested) and the computer was retrieved. I still do not have my check after 2 weeks nor the matter of 420 banked hours of overtime he refuses to pay me totalling $4,800. I have used my copyrighted material (pics) for his website as he had none. He is now continuing to use my materials without permission as well. There has been hint that he will be suing me for his inability to bring in sales through the website when he changed all e-mails and passwrds (3 days prior to my termination) associated with it without my knowledge or notice. Him doing so created all website functions to be out of sinc and non-functional with the hosting site and admin. He blames it on me. I have e-mails I sent to him telling him what was going on and how I was quickly trying to get the site functional again (he did not tell me he changed things prior to my doing so). I was doing my job. What are my legal rights here? Can I get my computer back and my wages and overtime he owes me? Can I sue him for using my copyrighted materials on his website after my termination?


Asked on 3/19/10, 8:20 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Andrew Longcore Howard PC

The first thing I would say to you is hire an attorney. You have certain legal rights that need to be preserved and with a potential suit sometimes these things can be resolved prior to bringing the court system in and then potentail fees rise.

You have a legal right to all of your earned wages including overtime. Generally, if a independent contractor is hired there is a contract that needs to be followed. Even if you did not have a signed contract the fact that you did the work for him would be enough to ensure you receive compensation. The court would apply an equitable or implied contract as opposed to an actual contract.

If you do have a contract you might also have a claim for breach of the contractual obligation and be able to pursue damages for that too.

As for the computer, you might have a more difficult time recovering that. As a hired agent for your employer he provided you with equipment to do your job. It would be difficult to prove without something in writing that he purchasing of the computer for you was anything more then that and therefore he (or his company) is the rightful owner of the computer.

Finally yor do have a right to recover for the use of copyrighted materials that belong to you. Unless he compensated you for their use, he is not permitted to use them. First you must request that he cease using them and return all copies of them to you (should be documented). That way if he still uses them you have a claim of conversion because he is exhibiting unlawful control over your property.

I hope this helps you. You situation is very complex so like I said the ealier you hire an attorney the sooner you will know that everything is being done properly so you don't lose any rights you have.

Read more
Answered on 3/24/10, 9:07 am

Related Questions & Answers

More Labor and Employment Law questions and answers in Michigan