Laguna Niguel, CA asked in Employment Law and Collections for California

Q: I'm an independent contractor massage therapist. The spa owner is 2 months behind with payment. How do I get paid?

The spa owner said she would pay what is owing when her divorce settles, and money is released from an escrow account. I've been waiting for about 2 years. The spa owner claims not to have the money when I've asked repeatedly to be paid. I need options to compel the owner to pay what is owed.

Related Topics:
3 Lawyer Answers
Neil Pedersen
Neil Pedersen
Answered
  • Westminster, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: If you are truly an independent contractor, then the only way to force payment is to file a lawsuit, get a judgment, and collect that judgment. That will not be quick, easy or cheap. Short of that, negotiation is your only other option.

If you have been misclassified as an independent contractor, and are instead an employee, you have another option, being an administrative wage claim with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

Good luck to you.

Maurice Mandel II agrees with this answer

Nathan Wirtschafter
Nathan Wirtschafter
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Collections Lawyer
  • Encino, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: On January 1, 2020, California enacted AB-5, which outlines various standards under which workers are either independent contractors or employees. (However, most of these standards were in effect at least as far back as April 2018.)

My concern is that you and the other “independent contractors” at the spa may have been mis-classified, in which case you would all be able to file a class-action lawsuit against the spa owner for violations of California’s wage and hour laws.

If your focus is solely on the money owed to you by the spa owner, then you will need a law firm to issue a demand letter and perhaps file a lawsuit. You might also include your personal wage and hour claims in such a demand letter.

Maurice Mandel II agrees with this answer

Maurice Mandel II
Maurice Mandel II
Answered
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Newport Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: The easiest and fastest thing for you to do is to sue in small claims where the limit is up to $10,000.00. You won't have to worry about the issue of misclassification of an employee as an independent contractor, just prove up how much you are owed and get a judgment. Then you need to record a writ of execution ($25 fee) with the County Recorder, more fees, and it will act as a lien against all real property this divorcee has. if she wants to refi, she has to pay you off.

Nathan is a collections lawyer, so he could tell you best how to do this.

But Neil is right that if you are misclassified, you might be entitled to more as an employee, if you have had to work overtime and are not exempt. Difficult to say. Do you have a license to be a massage therapist??

But here is a warning, the Courts are currently closed and don't know when they will reopen. But small claims moves very fast once it gets going. Prepare for a presentation with lots of copies and organize them with a summary on the top.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.