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Employees of Sub-Contractors Recover Wages From General Contractor


The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia in 2017 ruled in Salinas v. Commercial Interiors that employees of sub-contractors can, in certain situations, be deemed to be employees of the prime contractor/general contractor for the purposes of wage claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act. This is a huge result for sub-contractors who are left without wages when their employer doesn’t pay and closes down their business (often to open up another, similar business a few months later).

The Court of Appeals found that an upstream contractor can still be an employer if they – formally or informally, directly or indirectly – agree to codetermine the essential terms and conditions of an employee’s employment.

This ruling does not mean that all employees of subcontractors will be employees if their employer folds up shop or can’t pay wages owed. But it does keep a door open for workers to get the wages they are owed if their employer goes under.

In another recent case, our firm represented a worker who wasn’t paid her wages by an employer who subsequently filed for bankruptcy. Our firm was able to get some of her wages paid through the bankruptcy and successfully obtained a ruling that our client could pursue obtaining an order that wage debt that she was owed could not be discharged through a bankruptcy.

There is other additional case law in North Carolina wage law that allows you to pursue the individual owner or supervisor who serves as your “employer” if you are not paid wages owed to you.

For workers or groups of workers, there are additional options if you are not being paid wages, bonuses, commissions, or other amounts owed to you. Contact our firm for a free consultation regarding your wage case. We take wage cases all over the state of North Carolina. You can contact Maginnis Law at 919.526.0450, or by visiting our contact page.  We often represent workers and groups of workers on a contingency basis, meaning no legal fees are owed by you; we only receive a percentage of the recovery from the defendant in a lawsuit. If the amount that you are owed is small, but there are other workers dealing with the same issue, consider contacting our firm as a group. We are able to represent groups of workers who are owed smaller amounts of money.