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Newspaper delivery- holding check? California

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  • Newspaper delivery- holding check? California


    I've been delivering newspapers for eight years now, and my route is 7 days a week, even holidays. This past week my car broke down and since it was a weekend, I was not able to rent another (closed here) or borrow one, so i couldn't do the route. There are no substitutes for my job, so if I don't do the route, I can be fired very easily.

    With my health going down hill, and my car going in the gutter, I decided it was time to quit...especially after being told I'd be fired if I didn't find a way to do the route. Keep in mind, I'm an independent contractor with NO contract. It expired over a year ago and they never sent a new one out.

    Two days after I officially quit, my check didn't go through the direct deposit. I called the highest boss and he informed me that they would be keeping my check until they could figure out how much to deduct from it for errors, substitutes etc after I quit! I told him I have no contract so the regular contract terms do not apply to me and they can't hold my check or take the money I've already earned.

    Also... the check they are holding is from the LAST pay period. They had to find a substitute for THIS pay period, so how can they take money from me that had nothing to do with this incident?

    So I'm wondering... do i have any legal grounding to take them to court? Are there any particular laws (California) that relate to payment for IC's with no contract?

    I explained to them that I can't pay my rent or half of my bills because of this... plus I am now overdrawn in my bank account since the check didn't go in as usual.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!!
    Last edited by Jess1120; 01-17-2008, 11:26 PM.

  • #2
    Regular employment laws would not apply if you were an IC. You could take it to small claims court though for relatively low cost. I'm not sure how the fact that the contract expired but you were essentially still working under that contract by implication affects things. For that I'd talk to a lawyer who has reviewed the contracts in detail. I do know some contracts specifically state that they are automatically renewable each year unless specifically terminated by one of the parties. I have no idea if yours has any language to that effect or not.
    I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.


    • #3
      There are some additional wrinkles. For tax purposes, there is a statutory exception to being treated as an employee under 26 USC ยง3121(b)(14)(B)

      service performed by an individual in, and at the time of, the sale of newspapers or magazines to ultimate consumers, under an arrangement under which the newspapers or magazines are to be sold by him at a fixed price, his compensation being based on the retention of the excess of such price over the amount at which the newspapers or magazines are charged to him, whether or not he is guaranteed a minimum amount of compensation for such service, or is entitled to be credited with the unsold newspapers or magazines turned back;
      You still might be an IC under the "20 factor" common law test.

      I should note, that these are devices used in tax law, but since they are on the whole more stringent, it is safe to assume that if you are an employee for tax purposes, you'd be an employee for labor law purposes.

      There could be a fair chance that you were missclassified.
      Last edited by TheRed; 01-18-2008, 12:30 AM.


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