Employee Rights Attorney
Mission Viejo, California
Q: After I left the company where I served as an on site project manager, a subcontractor sued the company, its owners and five employees, including me, over an unpaid bill.
As a result, I have hired a lawyer at $265 an hour. I earned $33.60 an hour when I was with the company.
Working for a small company with limited assets, where employees are asked to sign contact agreements, vendor orders, etc., doesn’t seem to be worth it if you are subjected to this kind of nightmare.
A: “There’s no doubt that employees have to be very careful to avoid personal liability in acting for the employer.
“If the contract you signed states that you are personally guaranteeing the debt, then technically you may be responsible.
“The same thing applies if you sign payroll checks without doing the proper calculations for withholding.
“You might be personally responsible if the company does not eventually pay it.
“Employers have many reasons, however, to pay for your attorney’s fees in this situation. Certainly, they have a desire to maintain you as a “friendly” witness to protect them from liability.
“Additionally, according to California law, an employer is supposed to indemnify all expenses of the employee.
“Your situation may fall within that classification.
“Regardless of the employer’s responsibility, you may have been included in the lawsuit without proper justification.
“Just because you signed the contract does not mean that you are responsible if you are signing simply as your employer’s agent.
“Call the plaintiff’s attorneys and make them justify your involvement in the lawsuit.
“You or your attorney could threaten them with ‘malicious prosecution,’ for which they might be liable to you for not having an adequate reason for suing you.”