my boss has not paid me. what do I do?

I (f, 27) have been working for over 3 years as a content/copywriter. I worked in a branding agency for around 7 months and it was very interesting work. I actually liked what I was doing when I just started off but my boss started dumping his work on me too. It is a small start up based in Bangalore with no more than 10 employees. I joined the company as a “business manager” and I realised that I was doing two people’s job role: client servicing and content. I tried to speak to my boss about it but he didn’t care and said that the work I’m doing is nothing compared to what he used to do back in his day when he just started out his career. After six months, I had my review where I mentioned to him that I need support and if we can hire someone solely for client servicing so I can focus on content writing and copywriting (which is my field of work). He said he will think about but didn’t do anything to help. In fact, the work load just got worse and he didn’t stop piling up all his work on me too. After a while, I couldn’t handle the pressure. I was stressed and my anxiety levels were high. Couldn’t eat properly or sleep properly and it started affecting my health, both physical and mental.

I finally made the decision to put my papers down and spoke to my boss about it. He made a big deal saying he saw it coming and gave me loads of work to do during my notice period which I did. But since the work environment was stressing me out and affecting my performance, I decided to work from home and informed my boss about it. He wasn’t very happy but since I was leaving, he said it’s fine as long as the work gets done. After my notice period, I visited the office to surrender my laptop and that’s when he made a big deal and told me he won’t be paying me for the month of September (which was the last month I worked there) since I was working from home. He didn’t mention this to me when I informed him that I’ll be working remote. He insulted me and made me feel like I did nothing at all in all those months I’ve worked there. I have tried sending him multiple mails with proof of work for September and requesting him to pay my due salary but he hasn’t even responded. What do I do?

I have researched on taking the legal route but it’s going to burn a hole in my pocket. And since I don’t have a job right now, I cannot afford to pay legal fees with my savings. I have to sustain for a few months until I get another job. I feel cheated and extremely burnt out. Please tell me what I should do and how I can get my money.

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