• I am sixteen, and I have a summer job for a software company.
  • In my state (Maine), a work permit from school is required for someone of my age to have a job but it was never filled out. I assume someone forgot.
  • I am also aware that minors can void contracts. However, I am unsure whether or not that extends to employment contracts.
  • I, along with one other employee, am currently putting work towards a ~$100,000 contract, and am being paid the same as I would be had I worked at the local McDonalds.
  • During the course of the job, I wrote software on computers provided by the company.

Can I void the contract, and claim the work I did as my intellectual property?

Am I even technically employed given I never submitted a work permit?

  • "...is there any action I can take to get me some of that juicy contract money?" Talk to a lawyer, with your parents. Jul 8, 2019 at 2:32
  • 3
    If you threaten anything, the path of least resistance for the software company is to throw your code out and rewrite it. Believe me, you haven't written anything that can't be replaced. Your ambitions in this instance may end up with a fine for the company, but it won't end up with you having a share of the pie - the company wouldn't ever employ you again, and won't offer you a reference either.
    – user4210
    Jul 8, 2019 at 2:46
  • 1
    You will burn every bridge you have into the software world with something like that, even threatening that type of lawsuit. You can probably void the contract you have, but it is probably going to be very hard to prove you own what you were employed to develop.
    – Ron Beyer
    Jul 8, 2019 at 2:54
  • 5
    "[I am] currently putting work towards a ~$100,000 contract, and am being paid the same as I would be had I worked at the local McDonalds." -- The amount of money the company makes is not relevant. Suppose McDonald makes millions. They need only pay you the legal minimum wage. If you are unhappy with your pay, your only recourse is to ask for more or resign.
    – Brandin
    Jul 8, 2019 at 6:55
  • 2
    Not a legal answer, but do not underestimate how expensive it is for your employer to have you on board. I expect new employees to actively cost us money (lost time from more experienced people and essentially no useful code) for the first three months - and these are usually engineers with degrees and several years experience. View this as a way to get experience, a reference, and some pocket money. Jul 8, 2019 at 15:01

1 Answer 1



As a 16 year old you do not need a Child Work Permit - these are required for "[a] minor under 16 years of age".

Notwithstanding, minor's contracts can be classified as valid, voidable or void. There are two types of valid contracts:

  1. Contracts for "necessaries", and
  2. Employment, apprenticeship and training contracts.

Your employment contract is binding and any IP you produced in the course of it belongs to your employer.

  • 5
    In any event, even if OP had been 15, I suspect that the lack of the work permit would not change the employment relationship; it would just expose the employer to penalties. The wages would still have been earned, and the code would still be a work for hire, owned by the employer.
    – phoog
    Jul 8, 2019 at 15:07

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