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Can I sue my spouse for unpaid wages if on paper I was an employee and worked but never got paid (he owns the company)

Bend, OR |

In divorce proceedings, he claims I have no rights to the business, as he owned it prior to marriage. I was supposed to be paid, but he refused my salary after we got married. i was naive and accepted his quarterly salary payment option he suggested in the beginning. i worked one quarter and got married just before pay date, then pay didn't come. some story company was short, so wait till next month. next month never happened. since then I have worked as endentured servant, without pay for his company.Can I either get 4 years back pay, or some sweat equity in the business. he will probably show the business to be in the red, when it comes to profits, and fix his records so that it looks like its value has not increased in the last 4 years.He fixed them with exwife.

he alters his financial records for loans, taxes, etc. and did so with the spouse before me. He will most likely claim I wasn't real employee and state I didnt work often or volunteered to help him just as his spouse. I traveled to business conf. and meetings and acted on behalf company in such capacity. He will dispute the original salary etc. there was a w-4 form. this will be his ploy to not pay me anything in divorce settlement. any suggestions?

Attorney Answers 2

  1. Best answer

    Possibly. If the court determines that you were an owner of the company, it is possible, but unlikely that you could obtain wages. If the court determines that you were not an owner of the business, it may be possible to recover unpaid wages. If you were an employee and not an owner, then the court will be called upon to deterine (1) whetehr you worked, (2) how much you worked, (3) what your agreement for wages was, and (4) whether the agreement complied with Oregon and federal minimum wage laws.

    In addition to unpaid wages, you may be able to recover penalties for any wages, minimum wages, overtime wages that was earned within the statutory period of time. Finally, you may be able to recover your attorney fees and costs in prosecuting such a claim.

    Some firms offer free consultation and take wage cases on a contingency fee, essentially being paid to win.

    Information is provided to assist the reader in forming questions and allow them to take full advantage of a consultation with the attorney of their choice. Schuck Law, LLC does not provide legal advice to individuals who have not signed a written fee agreement with the firm. The facts, which were not disclosed in the written question may change the advice, if any, that would be rendered by the attorneys at Schuck Law, LLC. For these and other reasons, Schuck Law, LLC is not responsible for any damages caused by the reader's use, mis-use, or interpretation of the information provided herein.

  2. I agree with my colleague's response, as it certainly seems that you have a viable claim one way or another. There are statutory time limitations on such claims, however, so you'd be well advised to pursue them sooner rather than later.

    If you haven't already, you should consult with your divorce attorney about all of these issues, as a thorough understanding and valuation of the claim(s) is necessary, whether you attempt to pursue the employment related matters independently or whether they're pursued as part of the divorce proceedings (the latter being somewhat more typical).

    If you found this answer helpful, please click the "Mark as good answer" button, below. If you'd like to contact me regarding potentially representing you with regards to your legal matter, please click on my profile and give my office a call. My answer to your Avvo question, however, is informational only and is not intended to be legal advice, nor does it form the basis for any attorney-client relationship whatsoever, which can only be formed upon signing an Engagement Agreement and depositing a Retainer Fee into client trust. Further, I am only licensed in Oregon and laws vary from state to state. If you have an Oregon-related issue, feel free to contact me for a consultation. If you are outside of Oregon, please consult an attorney in your area for legal advice.

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