My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: North Carolina.
I really need some advice concerning a babysitting/nannying situation that my SO is currently involved in. For the concealment of our identities, I will refer to my SO as Mary, and the Mother in the situation as Karen. This takes place in North Carolina.
All the terms of this agreement were contracted in person or via text. There is no signed contract.
My SO (Mary) was working for a single mother (Karen) to care for 2 of her children, and occasionally all 4 of her children. Karen also has 3 additional nannies who are basically taking care of her children 24/7. Karen needed Mary all the time - mornings, nights, and often on moment's notice. She wasn't just taking care of the kids, but the entire house. Cleaning up after Karen and doing all sorts of chores etc. This was going fine for a few weeks, but she soon realized that the job was not really a babysitting job at all - but more akin to a live-out nanny position. Because this initially was only meant to be a temporary position, Mary felt she was way in over her head, and did not have the time to actually find a permanent job. Karen was not clear about the description of the job at all (I can vouch for this) , as originally hiring Mary to "fill in" and just "babysit". Karen was very disorganized, and instead of clearly delineating the responsibilities from the jump, she began to slowly add to the list of responsibilities, become extremely passive aggressive, and generally disrespectful and rude to Mary.
It became clear to Mary that this would not work, both due to her new-found understanding of the job, and the toxic relationship that was forming between herself and Karen. So, she confronted Karen about the perceived misunderstanding. She explained to her that the job description was not clear, and that she had not intended to be a live-out nanny, but the occasional babysitter. She was not looking for a full-time job, etc. Karen seemed reasonable enough regarding this concern.
While Mary did not intend to continue working for Karen, she did offer to fill in babysitting (if no one else could, but mind you, there are 3-4 nannies) while one of the other nannies was out of town. Karen confirmed that she would let Mary know if/when she needed her via a verbal agreement. Mary understood this to be a resignation from the position, albeit only making this offer in the form a professional courtesy. This is where things go off the rails.
The following Monday, Karen texted Mary, complaining that she had not showed up that morning. Keep in mind that they had an agreement; Karen would contact Mary if/when she needed her to fill in, and they had no contact since this agreement. Karen consequently began to berate Mary over text. Expressing how disappointed she was in her, how unprofessional her decision was, etc. Just generally toxicity. Feeling disrespected, and under that impression that she had technically already resigned, Mary chose not to respond. This was maybe not the best course of action, but it is what occurred.
On that day, March 5th, Karen cancelled the payment of a $360 check written to Mary on the 2nd of March, payment for the work between Feb 17th and March 2nd. The check bounced from Mary's account on March 7th. Mary immediately attempted to reach out to Karen to resolve the issue, but was vehemently, and repeatedly ignored until Friday the 9th of March, when Karen arbitrarily decides she will not speak about the issue until the following Monday. During this period, Mary's account was overdrawing due to the negative balance from the bounced check. Karen showed no interest in resolving the issue, and no intention of making good on the check, and absolutely no cooperation in any form. When Monday comes, Mary is blown off all day again. When Mary follows up with Karen seeking some explanation, she makes more excuses, and in fact, sends one of her other nannies home early as a scapegoat. On this day Karen also likely received the notice of a bad check via certified mail from Mary.
Mary has been given no explanation as to any of Karen's reasons for non-payment, but we can only assume it is due to the resignation itself, clearly of which there was a misunderstanding. Now Karen is refusing to pay for work done in the past. We are left with no choice but to take legal action, but Karen is doubling down - on last contact via text, she actually threatens to sue Mary for breach of contract, claiming that she is owed damages in the form of missed time from work, etc. It is completely obvious this woman is only trying to hurt Mary and just get out of paying her. Mary was completely dumbfounded that anyone could be so spiteful, and we also saw no reason why Karen should be able to get out of paying Mary for work that she had already done, regardless of whether or not Karen sued. We know for a fact that that Karen has 3 other nannies, and did not actually miss time from work. But we don't know if Karen actually has a leg to stand on, even though it seems obvious she is just blowing smoke. There was no formal/signed contract in this situation, and the original agreement itself was really by-the cuff. That being said, can my SO get justice? The was no type of termination clause or similar in their agreement, can quitting this way actually come back to bite her? Also keep in mind, she was not properly informed of the full job description.
TL;DR: My SO was babysitting for a single mother who intentionally bounced her pay check after a perceived resignation, and subsequently ignored her. The mother will not pay my SO what is owed, and is now threatening to sue for breach of contract in response to a bad check notice. We don't know how legit this verbal/text contract could be, or who has the stronger case. Please help us find justice buy committing to the right path forward.
My SO just wants the money that she is owed from the past and to never talk to this woman again, but this woman seems determined to make her life hell to prevent her from getting it. This is causing us a lot of stress and financial strain, and hopefully there are still some good people out there who believe in justice and would be willing to help. Any potential paths or options will be explored and greatly appreciated.