The Startup That Keeps You Down

Most people you know work 9-5 at corporate jobs that come with cushy benefits and a comfortable routine. You’re different. You like excitement. You like the idea of helping turn something promising into a breakaway success. That’s why you ditched the corporate tune in favor of working for a startup that may not just be a one-hit wonder.  

You love the product, you believe in the startup’s mission statement, and you don’t mind the element of risk.  But you’re not the founder; you just work there.  And what you do mind is the long hours of overtime you put in, and which the boss claims he can’t pay you for. As awesome as the product may be, you’re also not happy about the paychecks that seem to follow a different schedule than monthly or biweekly. Try random instead.

“We’re All In This Together”

The first time you say something, your boss reminds you that it’s sink or swim time for everyone, and that involves extra (translated) unpaid effort. No one spoon-feeds you a paycheck, he says. That’s meant to be motivating to you to increase performance excellence, but frankly, you’ve never been more demotivated in your life.

Here are some of the ways that a startup can turn into a real downer:


  • Not paying you until the company gets paid – Your boss comes to you and says something like, “We’re very sorry but the company hasn’t been paid yet, so you will have to wait for your paycheck. We’ll pay you the moment the client pays us.”
  • Denying you overtime pay – Startups demand a lot. You’ve had to work weekends and even been woken up in the middle of the night to deal with emergencies. But you haven’t been paid for any of it because, you know, “we’re all in this together.”
  • Asking you to work off the clock – You’re not classified as an exempt employee, but your boss wants you to work as needed, no matter what the clock says. You wouldn’t mind it so much if you were paid for those extra hours.


Your boss isn’t going to tell you this, so we will. He or she has a legal responsibility to pay you in full, as scheduled, for the hours you work. If they can’t afford to pay you, they can’t afford to have you as an employee. Period. You don’t have to tolerate excuses and empty promises, as neither one is proper compensation for your hard work.

If you feel like the startup you are working for is a downward spiral where fair compensation is concerned, contact the attorneys at AndersonDodson today to set up a free, confidential consultation. Even if your boss says the company hasn’t made any money yet, you don’t have to follow suit.

Written by AndersonDodson


AndersonDodson, P.C. is a law firm dedicated to holding employers accountable for paying their employees correctly. We are aggressive and tenacious when we need to be, if that’s what it takes to get the job done. Sometimes the playground bully needs to be brought down a notch, and we are plenty equipped for a fight if it becomes necessary. But we also don’t go looking for a fight. Our mission is to get our clients paid what the law says they deserve, not to stir up trouble where none is needed. Trouble is distracting from life, and living life should always come first.