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Ask HN: Will potentially be sue as a developer
11 points by simplysam on Apr 4, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 11 comments
I did contract work for someone in Node.js I was not versed in node. When we initially spoke about work for hire it was not in node. He called me back and told me he wanted me do it in Node. I told him no, that I was not going to since it was outside of my knowledge and did not feel comfortable. It was a simple project so I conceded and do it. He asked me to now do a big project in node. I declined but he gets another person for me to work with who is really is not strongly skilled in node but with more experience in it than I have and we work on it.

I join his 4 man company and fast forward to today. My last day at this company is in 2 days and he has the code looked at by a third party auditor. There are issues with the code(obviously). He is asking me to document everything I ever wrote and I am being threatened with legal action for work done he said as an contractor(not as an employee with the company). Since it was subpar.

He had withheld my last paycheck saying I will get it on my last day at the company(I dont know what else he has planned for me then. May serve me my lawsuit?).

What is my best course of action with this? I am guessing seek legal council soon. This is in the U.S btw

Update. I spoke to a Lawyer today. He thinks the guys is just talking and would not go after me since 1) It would cost him more than it is worth. 2) He does not have much to stand on given the fact that he hired me after having seen/used my work. 3)we had no contract was signed for the work done.

He said if he does not pay me my salary by one pay period after the last one. Then come see him he will take legal action against him since I will now have a case. Otherwise me spending any of my money on him(the lawyer) is a waste even though he will gladly take it.

In the coming days 24 hours(my last day). I would see how this plays out.

Seek legal council now.

Other than that: What does your contract say about this?

Even if the contract does say something like "contractor has to be proficient in these technologies: ..." and explicitly mentions Node.js defining what proficiency actually means in a a specific case is no easy task. In most cases, there's no simple distinction between good code and bad code, especially one that's going to hold up in court.

Who's the auditor? He or she might be biased because they might've been tasked with finding issues with the code so the client can save money.

As I said: Get a lawyer to sort these things out.

Don't give in to attempts by the client to 'settle" outside of court. Building an actual legal case from this will cost the client a considerable amount, too. It's more likely they're trying to get some leverage to threaten you with.

Not legal advice: Did you purchase professional liability insurance ? I think it covers situations like these. Otherwise you need to have / save documented proof of your communication with the client and go from there. Threats like these usually don’t hold up in courts.

Did you sign a contract promising a certain level of work? Do you have documented communications between the two of you whereby you stated that the job "was outside of my knowledge and did not feel comfortable"?

In all likelihood, he sounds like a scummy client trying to rip you off. Unless you agreed to a 3rd party audit prior to starting work, it is also unlikely that he has the right to withhold your last paycheck.

This doesn't sound like the sort of story that actually includes a lawsuit.

A final paycheck on a final day of work is not unusual. Might not be legal, but not unusual.

Most people who threaten to sue you intend it as an empty threat. Ask yourself: is this person likely to consider spending $10,000 of his own money to go after you?

No contract was signed concerning the work done or the scope of it when I was a contractor and not a full time employee. I do believe him without holding my employment paycheck is illegal and he is using this threat of civil action against to try to get me to play nice. In fact he started paying people monthly now and I believe that is illegal in New York State. I do not have liability insurance as a contractor since it was something I full-time.

An ex-coworker is pursuing legal actions against him for unpaid wages so I may need to ask him for a lawyer reference for all this.

Did you know about the ex-coworker while you were working for the owner? If so, this should have been a major red flag. Proceed with caution in the future and good luck

> I may need to ask him for a lawyer reference for all this.

That definitely sounds like something that you should do.

Depending on the particular state in US, failing to pay employees on time has legal consequences. You may be able to use this to advantage.

Get a free consultation with a lawyer, de-escalate as much as possible, walk away and move on

Lawyer up, don't ask here.

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