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I was an independent contractor for a California based employer. I legitimately earned substantial commissions, for which ...

Carlsbad, CA |

the employer refuses to pay me, after a month. Should I successfully sue, am I entitled to anything like "double damages"?

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Attorney answers 3


You are entitled to interest on the judgment, once it is entered. You may be entitled to prejudgment interest from the time you should have been paid. While employees are entitled to certain penalties pursuant to the California Labor Code, independent contractors have no such right. You also have no right to exemplary or punitive damages for a failure to pay wages under a contract.


No your rights would be limited to breach of contract and pre-judgment interest. No attorney fees, no "penalties" or punitive damages.

The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.


While it is a long shot, if you could prove that the "employer" never intended to pay you the commissions at the time the contract was entered into, meaning you can prove the contract was a fraudulent device intended to cause you to act in a certain way, then punitive damages would be available if you were able to prove a fraud by clear and convincing evidence. It is a very high standard, and proving no intent to perform will be difficult.

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.

Michael Charles Doland

Michael Charles Doland


You are correct on two counts: the law, and "it is a long shot". Have a great summer!

Neil Pedersen

Neil Pedersen


Thanks, you too Michael.

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