How can I take legal action against the company in this situation?
Employment / Labor Attorney
Your question fails to provide enough information. However, there are two types of typical cases that result from such a situation. First, a lawsuit to essentially create an employment situation, and second a lawsuit for violation of a contract. Most try to attack in the former if the facts allow because the law allows for penalties to the employee, plus costs and attorney fees. The latter, depending upon the amount of the claim, may also include costs and attorney fees, but no penalties. There is a specific test to determine whether you are an employee and not an independent contractor. The test varies depending upon whether you are filing under state or federal wage and hour laws.
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Employment / Labor Attorney
As my colleague Mr. Schuck explained, even if both you and the company presumed you were working as a contractor, the law may treat you as an employee and thus you may have additional rights beyond that of any breach of contract. Thus, an evaluation of whether you can be classified as an employee should be your first step.
Then, investigating the terms of your contract and how much you're still owed will determine the process for going forward with filing an action in court -- you may be required to file a small claims action, you may be required to file in Circuit Court, you may need to go through an arbitration proceeding, or you may have a choice as to any of those options.
Small contract claims -- i.e., between $600 and $10,000 -- can provide for an award of attorney fees to the prevailing party, and thus many attorneys will consider handling such matters on a contingency fee basis.
You should contact an attorney in your area and schedule a consultation to consider your options.
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One other factor to consider: it is not easy to establish status as an independent contractor. Sometimes people who provide services are treated as contractors when the relationship really is that of employer-employee. The IRS, Oregon Department of Revenue, SAIF, and BOLI rules set specific requirements for such a status to be recognized.
If you were improperly categorized as an independent contractor, the consequences to the employer can be substantial, and recognition of that issue might motivate more effort in finding a way to pay you.
This comment is general in nature and is not intended as legal advice. It does not create an attorney client relationship and obviously is not confidential. You should contact an attorney in your area who can review with you all of the relevant facts and give you specific legal advice.