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Employment Law/unpaid wages without written employment contract


I was designated by property owner as on-site manager in 2011.  He made all initial modifications to property as I requested in order to have control over a property that had high vagrancy, drug use and trespassing concerns.  Our relationship was great until he denied certain modifications and repairs to my unit.  I request a new verbal contract regarding my pay including rental payment offset.  The agreement was not fair in terms of labor codes...However he assured me that new modifications to my unit will happen.  After 3 years of managing his property with $100 off my rent, I have surely increased his property value.  I phoned him and shared that because of his unethical practices in terms of the other tenants, rental discrimination and failure to provide habitable conditions to other tenants, I could no longer represent him as an onsite manager.  I also informed him of unpaid wages in the amount of 10,709.50 on the lower end. He has failed to acknowledge or negotiate unpaid wages.  I have dedicated time, energy, posting memos, working with his contractors in his absence and I am requesting compensation.  It was a verbal contract and ALL tenants addressed me as the Manager.  Can I sue him for unpaid wages?

Dear Ms. Jennings:  You can contact the California Department of Industrial Relations and file a wage claim with them. You would have to somehow document the amount of time you spent on the job on a weekly basis so that some amount of wages owed could be determined.  This is not a law suit per se, but an administrative proceeding by a governmental agency against the employer/landlord.  It doesn't cost you anything to file such a claim, unlike hiring an attorney to represent you and collect 40% of whatever you recover.  Good luck.

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Margaret M. deMarteleire


I can answer most questions about employment law, federal or state. I am an attorney, not an HR professional, so questions about HR careers, coursework, prospects, etc. are not within my scope.


Attorney for 20 years, currently working exclusively with employment law - FLSA, FMLA, federal contracts, pay, etc.

Temple University School of Liberal Arts, BA, Rhetoric & Communication, 1982 Temple University School of Law, JD, 1990 Certificate in HR, Cornell University ILR School, 2006

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