Entrepreneurship · Front-end Development

I got fired from a startup because i asked for my salary.


Last updated on July 27th, 2017

I have been working for a startup for 3 months now, we are incubated so i had an office and i was the only employee with vesting after 6 months. I was the only employee of the company and my position was a business developer and there was a backend who was a freelancer.

In the start i was working as a business developer, then there was a need for a front-end i told him if he want me to work on that i must get paid. He is a founder and an investor in other startups.

We agreed for basic wage, i was working overtime and almost all the time and made me very stressed and wanted everything today before tomorrow without even studying situations or analyzing.

After that i got pretty restless since i was doing all the work, working on the project and he even gave me tasks of other projects and wanted them all in one time. So i told him to increase my payment and he agreed and that was minimum wage plus food and transportation.

Now when the time came for my second payment and what i owed him from last month, he started delaying. And pretend that he is sick these days, apart from that we had a an important presentation that it was requested that he must be the one doing it since i am not the founder and there would be investors coming " he cries all the time that he has no money, but he Buys stuff with 200$,500$, 600$ And actually tells me about it and gives me money to buy it for him"

Every time I confront him about how we are going to write our financials or what is he going to say in the presentation or how is he going to prepare it he gets silent, it turned out that he doesn't know!! So i started to get really impatient because i was the only one who is putting the real effort and if he continues doing this will put the startup at risk.

He delayed my payment for 4 days and on the 4th day i told him that i will not work or go to work again unless he pays me! He started calling me names and was very disrespectful and that i am only after the money and fired me! He told me that i did no work, and after that told me if i want my money I should transfer the files to the other developer.

I spoke with the other developer and he took my side since he had a similar situation with him. He deleted everything that i sent him and told him that I haven't sent him yet. What I decided to do is to not send anything " I built a prototype and developed all the front-end of the project" in which would be very important for the coming investors meeting. I destroyed all the links in a way that he won't be able to get anything. It was very surprising i owe him 600$ .

My question is will he be able to go after me if I refuse to give him the files even if he said he will give money in which I highly doubt he will give it to me? I feel very satisfied that i was able to keep all the work that i did and now I basically destroyed and delayed the project.

I wrote an email to the incubating center explaining what happened, I didn't care if i was wrong or not i just wanted to expose him. I want your opinion on the subject.

Btw he bought a laptop for me after my laptop got a nasty virus because of his work, and he never did any work in the startup except for noticing outlines in design and not beautiful pictures and that's it. I basically couldn't count on him to do anything even the presentation and he was the money source but even the money he started delaying.

Tabitha Rono Consultant and Investor

July 31st, 2017

Let's revisit your situation in which you feel taken advantage of. However, I would like to know if there was a signed agreement and what was entailed like mention of additional duties that may seem deemed necessary. It is important to note that as much as you fall out with the owner of the start up it is not wise to burn bridges. If the information you hold is a property of the company you may be sued by the owner which may make it complicated for you.

To address your grievance there are other options of handling the situation rather than the somehow crude solution you have taken. I do not know of what available laws are in your country that protects you and what avenues are available to help you get paid for what you have worked for.

I hope this helps.

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

July 31st, 2017

I think you hit on a key point. You don't have a work visa, only a residence visa. In these circumstances the law may not even allow you to pursue a wage claim because you were never allowed to work in the first place. Filing court papers over unpaid wages (and he probably knows this) could expose you to deportation. This is not uncommon where illegal labor is concerned, an owner takes advantage of breaking wage law because the workers can't complain without exposing them to the violation of immigration law and the potential of deportation.

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

July 27th, 2017

You didn't get fired because of your salary. You got fired because you argued with the owner. That said, without knowing what agreements you had in writing (sure hope you did), it's difficult to say exactly how much is owed. Regardless, it seems you will likely be eligible to file an unemployment claim. At the same time you can file a claim for unpaid wages. You cannot hold the development work hostage, and he can sue you for the damage to his company for sabotaging the work, which might end up being more than the wages you owe.

Don't be a jerk. Restore anything you've broken immediately. Take him to court for the unpaid wages. Depending on where you live, a late or bounced paycheck may obligate him to pay up to 3x the amount owed. Payroll is serious business and it can never be late without serious consequences. Make things right on your end, apologize if he's aware, and then take the wages issue up with your local labor board if he hasn't paid you by then.

It likely has hurt your feelings, but in the long run you don't want to be in business with someone so dishonest. Payroll is the FIRST obligation of a business, before any other bills are paid.

Janet Grey Travel Start-up Founder

August 2nd, 2017

I can't help but feel that you might as well expose the identity of this person to help others to avoid working with him in the future. If what you are saying is true, you have no need to fear being sued for libel. And it seems you have nothing to lose... Have you heard back from the Incubator? I would hope that those running it would be concerned about such behavior and that they would step in or at least admonish Founders involved to treat their employees and contractors properly. If you kept the computer, however, that could be construed as "payment". Did you? Best of luck! Not everyone here is so callous and heartless but you MUST get your working papers in order. Otherwise, no matter what paperwork you sign (and in the future, DO THIS, TOO!), you are vulnerable. Take good care!

Justin Pickering - CEO of Blaine & Gonzalez

Last updated on July 28th, 2017

He is trying shanghai your designs by threatening to withhold payment he legally owes you in exchange your files. In essence, you are his hostage. This sounds like a horrible situation to be in. Sorry you are experiencing it.

If I were in this situation, I would cut my losses and get away from this person as fast as possible.

He sounds like an incredibly toxic human being.

Can you just give him what he wants and leave? He seems like the kind of guy to involve lawyers. Then again, this is a matter of $600, which means that his cost to involve lawyers is more than he will win from you, so it makes absolutely zero sense to sue you.

Get this person out of your life is my advice. Give him what he wants, walk out the door, and don't look back.

You say this about yourself: " I feel very satisfied that i was able to keep all the work that i did and now I basically destroyed and delayed the project."

I would keep comments like that to myself. You don't want people knowing that you are the kind of person who enjoys exacting revenge. I get that you were angry and that it is from being hurt that you say this, but there are plenty of people who could take this out of context. Just a word of friendly advice.... although he was an a$$hole to you and deserved what he got.

Good luck.


Last updated on July 27th, 2017

I haven't signed any papers yet:/

i didn't sabotage any files. I built the front-end of the project from the ground up, and I haven't uploaded anything Since it was not 100% ready. I don't have a work permit just a residence permit so I am afraid to file for anything. He blocked me from facebook and he did mention that he might talk with the government about me :/. can i at least wait for 10 days till i send i him since the investor meeting is coming and yes i want to make sure he would fail! And what do you mean i got fired because i argued with him? Where did i do wrong?

Aleksey Malyshev Software Engineer at iTouch Biometrics, LLC

August 1st, 2017

Btw he bought a laptop for me after my laptop got a nasty virus because of his work

I do not understand. Computer virus is not like influenza or TB, it cannot damage your computer. The worst thing you need to do if you have a virus, is to reinstall the system from scratch. You will even keep your Windows license which is attached at the back of your laptop. It could not be a reason to ask for a new computer. Did you keep it or return after you left?

and he never did any work in the startup except for noticing outlines in design and not beautiful pictures and that's it. I basically couldn't count on him to do anything even the presentation and he was the money source but even the money he started delaying.

I am afraid that's how work for hire looks like - someone pays you and you do what you are told to do. Why did you expect this guy to participate?

Tamir Amen business oriented mechanical engineer

July 31st, 2017

That sounds very middle eastern :) I'm just joking.

If you want the truth you should be better than him and remember people makes the money not the other way around.

I was in your situation before twice, but you know what? I don't give a f about that now, because, in the long run, you will find that you are a better hustler than they are, you will be going up and they will be going down.

the best thing to do if he is not giving you your money is giving him his files.

As we say back home no one learns for free

Barry Burr founder, Barry Beams llc, a startup to re-light your night.

August 1st, 2017

Do you have a contract and/or statement of work? If not, then you're in a word versus word situation. That can be bad for you getting your money, but great for you having rights to keep ownership of your work that you didn't get paid for.


July 31st, 2017

He is the one who cut the bridge and shut me off like that. He blocked me on social media outlets in which it shows a great deal that I am working with an amateur. He only asked for the files once. It would cost him so much if he came after me. I haven't signe anything with him. I don't care about getting my money back becasue I honestly feel scared to deal with him. I just moved to a new country so I don't know what he is capable of. Although he wanted me to sign on papers the day he fired me, before it i told him i won't sign anything till i give it to a lawyer and check it. I might give half of files after the investors meeting just to make sure that he pays me, although I am not about the money but just to make sure that he is doing his part and not fooling me and to get him out of my life. I will test him and see what kind of a human is he, at the end i will give all the files with whatever result he might deliver.