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How can I get paid for the hours worked and approved by the main vendor?

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What is the name of your state? MD

I joined the main vendor through a sub-vendor and started working remotely as a contractor since last week of March. I was paid for 40 hours for 1 week in March as per the contract.

Since the main vendor has only 240 hours allocated by the end client for the project, I was asked to charge only a few hours a week to the client's project (due to end-client's delays in providing us with necessary info) and remaining hours to the main vendor's internal project. It was NOT mentioned by anybody anywhere at anytime that I would not be paid for the hours charged to the internal project BUT my timesheets for April were approved by the main vendor for 160 hours. After April was over, I submitted my invoice for 160 hours to the sub-vendor along with approved timesheets for 160 hours. Sub-vendor received timesheets from the main vendor for 90 hours saying 70 hours charged to the internal project will not be paid, resulting in a discrepancy of 70 hours (but the main vendor approved my timesheets for 160 hours already).

No one informed me (nor was it mentioned in the contract) that it was a part time work until April was over and after I submitted the invoice with approved timesheets. I stopped working since last week saying this is a breach of contract and I notified them of my decision. Main vendor is not talking about the discrepancy because of their incompetence in managing the project and hours and not communicating in a timely manner and they are trying to cover it up. Had they informed that it was a part time job or I would not be paid for the internal project hours in April, I would have quit them and joined some other client immediately with no issues. Neither sub-vendor nor main vendor said anything after I stopped working in the last one week. It's an email chain and everything is documented.

Sub-vendor is asking me to resubmit my invoice for 90 hours or have the remaining 70 hours approved by main vendor (they already approved them for 160 hours and they don't know what more I should get approved). Do I have any obligation to make the main vendor change their timesheets sent to sub-vendor to 160 hours? I guess I submitted the approved timesheets for 160 hours, met my obligation and the rest is not in my control if the main vendor is sending different hours to sub-vendor.

It is a work online on the cloud using just a browser (no other installed software). I was not provided with anything - I'm using my own laptop. I sent the main vendor and the end client teams of 25 people the data flow diagram I drew already with weekly demos. Main vendor don't have Jira bug tracking system to enter tasks, no scrum, no team, nothing. Now main vendor is asking me to enter the tasks into Trello after I stopped working for a week because they hired another developer to finish the project. Do I need to enter tasks into Trello or even send them the task list now when the payment for April is in dispute and I stopped working on the project since last week?

Main vendor is also asking me to work next week for the remaining 30 hours and do knowledge transfer to the new guy. In the last 6 weeks, the project is not even half-done due to client's delays. I offered main vendor that I can work 30 hours a week and finish the project in 2 months continuing my momentum and knowledge of it but they said it is not 30 hours a week but part time (like less than 20 hours per week) and they have already hired someone else to finish it. Do I have the obligation now to spend my time to give knowledge transfer to the new guy after having stopped working on it for a week? It is CLEAR the main vendor cannot afford to pay me and also the new guy during next week when the project is so severely budget-strapped. They are trying to lure me to work 30 hours next week for knowledge transfer but they will finish it in 30 minutes and say goodbye without any payment!

Will working on the project again (tasks, knowledge-transfer, etc) jeopardize my case?

How can I collect the balance amount $5950 for 70 hours?

Should I hire an attorney or take the sub-vendor to Small Claims Court in MD? Sub-vendor is in MD which is the jurisdiction for any litigations as per the contract. If they have an attorney and I don't, I would be at a disadvantage.

Do I need to travel to MD?

Will I be able to claim legal expenses, travel expenses, interest, etc? I live in IL, have a baby kitten, no help and cannot travel. A large portion of the $5,950 may be gone in travel, legal expenses, fees... I'm afraid. They may not pay me even after I get a judgment.

Please advise... Regret for the long message.

Thanks much for your time!
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