Is a verbal employment contract enforceable?

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? .

Echo, OR -

Attorney Answers (4)

David A Schuck

David A Schuck

Employment / Labor Attorney - Portland, OR
Answered

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.

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Kevin Elliott Parks

Kevin Elliott Parks

Employment / Labor Attorney - Portland, OR
Answered

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.

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Margherita Maria Albarello

Margherita Maria Albarello

Employment / Labor Attorney - Park Ridge, IL
Answered

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.

Pamela Koslyn

Pamela Koslyn

Business Attorney - Los Angeles, CA
Answered

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.

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