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Is a verbal employment contract enforceable?

Echo, OR |

I've been doing some work on the side to help make ends meet, all with just verbal contracts. I was promised some pay for work. I've done the work, but haven't been paid yet. Am I out of luck?


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Attorney Answers 4


  1. Yes, a verbal employment contract can be enforceable. Your best bet is to get the employer to agree in writing to your rate of pay, whether it be per hour, per job, or something else. This way you move away from a he said/she said situtation.


  2. Yes, verbal contracts -- regarding employment, and also many (most) other things -- can be enforceable. Depending on the particulars of your situation, there are a number of potential avenues you might be able to pursue to collect any outstanding payment(s) due. None are as easy and straightforward as they would be with a written contract, of course, so if you plan to continue to work in this manner you should likely consult with an attorney to draw up a form contract that you can use with various employers.

    If you found this answer helpful, please click the "Mark as good answer" button, below. If you'd like to contact me regarding potentially taking your case, please feel free to 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.


  3. An oral contract can be enforceable. The problem is that it can also be changed by actions prospectively (for the future), but cannot be changed after you perform the work. So if they agreed to pay $10.00 per hour. You work 10 hours and are due $100. But, if the employer says, from now on, you get $9.00 per hour. If you continue working, likely, you are earning $9 per hour. However, if the employer pays $9 per hour, when you had agreed that you were getting $10, then you remain due wages. It is not neccesarily easy to prove, but if proven you would be due wages. If your employment ended, you could be due penalty wages of up to 30 days of wages.

    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.


  4. Yes, it's a myth that a contract has to be put in writing to be binding. Oral contracst can be ebforcebale, as well as contracts "inplied in fact" byt he parties conduct.

    But it's always a good idea to document who's doing what in exchange for what, so a judge would know how to enforce the contract, with the who, what, when, where, how much, etc. detail all apelled out. Also a good idea to provide that the prevailing party in any dispute is entitled to their legal fees. That makes it easier to get a lawyer if things go wrong and ups the ante to breach. See a lawyer to do this right.

    Avvo doesn't pay us for these responses, and I'm not your lawyer just because I answer this question or respond to any follow-up comments. If you want to hire me, please contact me. Otherwise, please don't expect a further response. We need an actual written agreement to form an attorney-client relationship. I'm only licensed in CA and you shouldn't rely on this answer, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it's impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.

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