An Unpaid Employee Needing Advice

Hey, Internet. I’m looking for some advice. I’ve got a bit of a problem with my employer, and that problem is leading to quite a crisis in my life overall.

Let’s start with my employer. I’ve been working for him (I won’t say who, I don’t want to get sued), for about five weeks now, and I still haven’t seen a paycheck. The reason, or maybe the confusion?, is because I’ve been hired as an independent contractor instead of an hourly employee. Basically, I do normal hourly employee things like dealing with the cash register and the customers, but I’ve also been hired on to do some work around the place since I’m pretty handy. My boss said it was better for everyone if I was listed as an independent contractor so that extra work could be added into my paycheck.

But while everyone else is getting paid every two weeks, I haven’t seen a penny yet. My employer claims this is because I’m an independent contractor and he bills that out monthly instead of bi-weekly. Fine, but it’s now been more than a month. His excuse? He says that the first paycheck will come after the second month because I didn’t begin on the first last month. He claims this is normal practice, but I’ve never heard anything about it.

So, whatever, I should quit, but the problem is bigger than that. First, I want the money for those six weeks. I worked hard, and I worked overtime, and I want that money because it’s mine. More importantly, though, I need the money for rent.

I’ve been a very good tenant at my current apartment except for once or twice over the past couple years, but I’ve now missed the rent twice and my landlord is pretty upset about it. He says I have to pay up next week or he’ll evict me. I’ve tried to explain my work situation, but he either doesn’t believe me or doesn’t care.

This is so frustrating, and I just don’t know what I should do next. Should I contact a lawyer? The unpaid overtime claims attorney websites I’ve browsed so far suggest they could help, but I don’t have the money for a lawyer because I don’t have the money for rent because my boss won’t pay me. I think some lawyers work for free until I get paid, but I don’t know how to search for that either.

So, if anyone out there has any suggestions, let me know. Maybe I can just threaten my boss and say I have a lawyer? But what if he calls my bluff? Or what if he just fires me? Anyone have any ideas how to deal with him or my landlord?

Please post a response soon. I don’t have a lot of time to look into this, obviously, and I’d really rather not be homeless next week.

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