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Company accepted service on my behalf; never told me. Co. settled case and now I am out there alone to defend sex harass case.

Dana Point, CA |

I worked for a company as an independent contractor. During that time, a female employee - whom I barely knew and definately did not engage in any sexual harassment, jokes, etc. worked there. The co. did not pay me my invoices, so I quit. 6 months later, female employee sued co., every guy who worked there, including me, lying and claiming she was sexually harassed. The DFEH claim was sent by certified mail to place of bus., the co. signed for mine and never gave it to me and never let me know of the claim. The female liar sued the co. & every male, including me, but served me at the office I no longer worked at and the co. never advised me of the lawsuit. The co. settled on behalf of it and all the male employees except me. Now, I just got served a summons. Can I sue co.?

Attorney Answers 4

  1. You may be able to file a cross-complaint against the employer and demand indemnification. But as I told you before, only an attorney with whom you sit down with and present all the documents and facts to can properly advise you on your best and most efficient course of action. The fact that the company did not provide you with the DFEH complaint will probably not get you out of the case.

    They say you get what you pay for, and this response is free, so take it for what it is worth. This is my opinion based on very limited information. My opinion should not be taken as legal advice. For true advice, we would require a confidential consultation where I would ask you questions and get your complete story. This is a public forum, so remember, nothing here is confidential. Nor am I your attorney. I do not know who you are and you have not hired me to provide any legal service. To do so would require us to meet and sign written retainer agreement. My responses are intended for general information only.

  2. Mr. Kirschbaum is correct, again. In addition, you may have the ability to challenge proper service if you were not served properly. However, before that could be determined you will need to disclose all of the facts and circumstances to an attorney who can assist you. This is serious. You need to address it seriously and get an attorney right away.

    In front of a jury, the truth becomes what they jury believes, not what you know. You may know she is not telling the truth, but the jury doesn't. Get a lawyer right away.

    Good luck to you.

    This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.

  3. Get an attorney. Challenge service since you never signed for it. You can also consider taking the position you were an employee and the company is required to indemnify you for defending the action. Of course, that raises many other issues as well.

  4. Your question suggests to me that your status as an "independent contractor" is subject to question. Employers frequently misclassify workers as I.C.'s, when under the law they are clearly employees. The most important criterion in making this determination is whether the putative "employer" retained the power to determine how the work you were doing was performed, whether or not that power was exercised. If you had this power , then you are likely an independent contractor. Otherwise, you are an employee. This is very significant, because if you are an employee, you can file a claim with the Labor Commissioner to get your money. More directly addressing your question, if you were an employee, the settlement entered into by the employer likely includes you. Even if it doesn't, employers typically have a legal duty to indemnify and provide a defense to employees. This is where I would encourage you to look first for a way out of your dilemma.

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