So I had a client go silent on me recently as soon as I brought up the topic of delinquent invoice payment. We typically speak daily, and otherwise have an excellent relationship. They love the work I do (at least, their praise seems authentic and on target). I love the work I do for them. We had a verbal agreement that I would be paid within 2 weeks of invoice. My contract allowed for 30 days / 4 weeks. At the second invoice, they went into 6 weeks without paying me.
I asked about it, and got no information in return. I kept sending emails twice a week to politely ask for information about what the issue was, and when I could expect payment. I received an extremely brief non-answer once, and more silence. I began to explore what other measures I could take, I honestly believed I had been scammed. They owed me a 5-figure sum (USD).
I work on about 8 different websites/codebases for this client. Each has a git repository, with a full history of all the other contractors, and naturally, their emails. I have paired up with a few of them on some projects (front end / back end dev relationships), so I know some of them on as personal a level a remote dev coworker can have.
I considered extracting all the emails from each project from the last year’s worth of commits, and then emailing each one individually to ask if they’ve ever had payment problems with this client. This would also obviously share information that I had not been paid for a time that violated the terms of our contract. We have a policy of being able to freely contact each other, via slack, or email, so its not like emailing them alone is violating some kind of privacy term on their end (or mine).
Would it be illegal for me to discuss this information with the other contractors? This concerns businesses incorporated in the USA. They are an LLC, if that matters. Could my client have grounds to seek some kind of legal retribution if they found out I did that? I think its only fair that they all know if I had been ripped off, and also may want to band together to fight the client if they too had also been ripped off. There is nothing explicitly stated in my contract that says I cant share information about my experience with them with other contractors (or anyone, really, outside of technology-NDA sort of things).
Note: I was certainly going to report them to Glassdoor, Freelancer’s Union, BBB, and any other institution that I could, if this went on much longer. They finally caved after the 5th email or so, and paid me (again, without speaking to me about it, which is what bothers me the most). I also was going to start resorting to phone calls AND email bombardments (always polite :-P) first, before taking these next steps. This happened with the 2nd invoice in our relationship, which concerned me greatly, since I was told when hired that they had funds to pay me for even more hours than I was putting in. I am aware of the frequency with which freelancers get ripped off by clients (FU reports ~40%). I refuse to tolerate it, especially if we have been told otherwise, and am a strong advocate (re: activist) for workers’ rights in general. Just an aside, Id have been far more tolerant, had they chosen to discuss things with me, and let me know what was happening - the silence drove me towards this aim.