Consultation Contract and legal issues
I have joined a company recently, which is a start-up here in bangalore, now this was a company of 8-9 people and had a was very rough in nature, the owner of the company lured me with an offer where he hired me as a consultant and not as an employee and offered me a contract for consultation services, though it was a consultant agreement he used to make me work as a full fledged employee and would pester a lot with stress with limited holidays and odd working hours, ( there was no employer contributions like PF or anything as he used to say its a consulting agreement), i was hired as Business development guy and there was other Business guy as well, i worked here for 45 days in which i received pay of one month and suddenly due to some personal reason had to leave to my hometown and lately realized that he was stressing me out with load of stress and mental harassment and i decided to leave the company, this guy kept mailing me initially to help him expand his international business remotely but never had a plan how to do it and finally after few months now he has sent me a legal notice to pay for 2 months 15 days notice as there was a clause in the agreement that i need to pay 3 months notice period equivalent if i dont serve the notice period, now firstly i have not signed the contract with him and only acknowledged on the mail that i will join the organisation but never signed the physical agreement with him, also i just worked for 45 days for him and only took 30 days of salary, please help me what should be my next steps as i cant pay him 2 lakhs as compensation he is asking for and how can i fight against it? Also, he tried sending me the legal notice at my permanent address in kolkata and it got unreturned as i dont stay there anymore and he dosent have my bangalore address, so he has sent the notice on my email and asked me to respond, should i ignore the email as i understand the legal notice has to be served in person? Also, he has stated in the notice that he will file a missing complaint if i dont respond to the notice, also should i respond to the notice or keep quite as it has not been delivered in person, and if i reply i would also like to file a mental harassment case against him for stressing me with huge work load and making me work odd hours and being very bad in behavior, or should i ask for some settlement as helping him out on the international business remotely for few months? Let me know your advise what should i do as paying that amount is not an option for me at all..
Section 10A of the Information Technology Act recognizes contracts entered through online communication. You had acknowledged his mail and in furtherance of the same you had joined the company; so you cannot say that you did not enter into the contract. It is the terms of the contract and not the nature of the work which determines your role in the company. Hence even though he may have made you work as a regular employee, if the terms specified your role as a consultant, then you are bound by that designation, unless the contract says otherwise. Kindly share the detailed clauses of the contract and the manner in which you left the company i.e. whether you took permission or you simply left the company without notifying. We shall not be able to give correct advice without analyzing all the facts together.
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