July 2, 2012

My employer withheld my pay

Filed under: Q&A, Readers' Forum, Salary, Success at Work, The job offer

In the July 3, 2012 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a 20% bonus disappears:

When I was hired, my offer letter included the promise of an annual 20% bonus. Recently I was transferred internally, but there was no notice of a change in my compensation deal. Bonus time came around but neither my old or new department budgeted for my bonus. I’ve been making monthly appeals to my boss, who keeps getting the runaround from Accounting. It turns out that no one else at my level gets bonuses. To make matters worse, the company was acquired and all our jobs are up in the air.

Is there any way I can get the bonus I’m due? The amount is substantial. This sounded too good to be true when I got the offer letter, but there it is in black and white: 20%.

My Advice

I don’t ordinarily tackle questions that require legal advice, but there’s also a matter of principle here. It seems the company is breaking a simple agreement and it’s worth discussing how to deal with that. However, my advice is not legal; for that you’ll need an attorney.

Since your offer letter promised an annual 20% bonus in writing, and since you got no other written notice to the contrary, then I think the company has an obligation to pony up the money. While a company may have the right to reassign you to a different job or department, I don’t believe it’s got the right to withhold compensation.

If your boss is “getting the runaround from Accounting,” that’s not your problem. Accounting doesn’t decide whether you’ll be paid; your employer does. This passing of the buck suggests that who’s getting the runaround is you.

Given the circumstances, I’d pursue this quickly and create a document trail. If you get laid off before you put the issue on the table, it’s going to be harder to resolve it.

Take this to the highest level HR manager you can. Put a copy of your offer letter on the desk and politely ask what the problem is. (Keep the original under lock and key.) The difficulty is that you’ve waited a long time since the bonus was due, but that doesn’t excuse your employer. I’d also ask HR for a written statement about the company’s position on the matter — build that document trail.

Listen to what the HR manager has to say. If there’s no resolution within a week, send a certified letter (with proof of receipt) to HR outlining the situation, and copy the letter to your attorney. Do not say anything accusatory in the letter: Be purely factual and request your bonus.

It’s unfortunate that you need help to get paid what you were promised. But my expectation is that this is going to require the help of an attorney. When your boss blames Accounting for not paying you, you can blame your attorney for any awkwardness, too.

By the way: Don’t let the idea of turning to lawyer make you uncomfortable. A good lawyer will work with you to control legal costs, and to develop a strategy for collection that avoids spending more than the recovery would be worth. Start with a consultation to help you decide what your best options are, and to estimate the costs.

Ever get paid less than you were promised? Was it in writing? What did you do to recover the money?

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27 Comments on “My employer withheld my pay”
By Chris
July 3, 2012 at 9:08 am

IANAL, but here’s something my father went through that might shed some light on the subject, particularly if the author is laid off.

My father worked for a company that ran into some financial trouble. He was laid off, but they refused to pay him earned wages. He went to the state department of labor, and they took care of it. He didn’t have to hire a lawyer or spend any of his own money. The state put pressure on the company, and the company ponied up.

If you have a written document guaranteeing money that is compensation, and the company refuses to pay, check with your state department of labor. They may be able to help, particularly if you live in a state with income taxes. They have a vested interest in getting you that money since they would also get some. (Obviously, laws and regulations vary state by state, so this may or may not apply to the situation at hand.)

By Don Jeanjeanvier
July 3, 2012 at 9:10 am

Nick, love your column, I often agree with what you say, and often disagree. In this case I think you may have gone a bit too far- would have suggested the person speak with an attorney to understand local state laws, etc. I hope you may apeal to this person to advise you of the outcome, if your advice is followed. Seems to me that, whether or not the bonus gets awarded, this person will certainly be perceived by the company as a contentious employee if the next step is a certified leter. Granted I agree that the person sho0uld be paid what was promised, but at the end of the day, once you declare a mini-war with an employer over a disagreement- and by mini-war I mean actions with lawsuit undertones- your relationship with your employer is forever changed.

All the best,
Don

By Nick Corcodilos
July 3, 2012 at 9:27 am

@Chris: Good point about going to the state department of labor. It’s probably the best place to start, especially because the resource is free. My concern in this case is that the payout is a bonus, not regular salary. Again, I’m not a lawyer and don’t pretend to be — but my guess is the company would contest the payout because a bonus implies there’s some discretion. For example, what’s it based on? What criteria trigger it? Of course, the letter may not state any of that — it could cut either way. Nonetheless, appealing to a “higher authority” is still a smart thing to do.

By Joseph
July 3, 2012 at 9:29 am

I’ve never had an employer withhold my pay, but I have had an employer reneg on a promotion, which was in writing. They laid off a group of us before we could do anything, citing “employment at will.”

By Nick Corcodilos
July 3, 2012 at 9:31 am

@Don: I think the company has already declared a mini-war. Not only has it failed to pay the bonus; it has been playing games with the employee.

“I’ve been making monthly appeals to my boss, who keeps getting the runaround from Accounting.”

That’s an old ploy. Blame Accounting. I think the employer has already screwed itself with this employee and destroyed any sense of trust. Another bit of advice I omitted because I was trying to stick to the subject: I’d start a heavy-duty job search and get the hell out of there. At the very least, the company — especially the new company — should sit the employee down for a candid discussion of its position about the matter. Pushing excuses down the chain of command through the boss reveals a bigger problem. I’d get out.

By Jim S
July 3, 2012 at 9:46 am

One guaranteed way to lose your employees – mess with their paychecks. It’s a rare employee who will allow an employer to get away with that and stay on. I’ve known only one in the course of a 20+ year IT career, and I think that was more personally than professionally motivated. I agree with your last bit of advice, Nick – start a job search ASAP! The company has already broken the trust, there’s nothing left staying for.

By Don Harkness
July 3, 2012 at 9:49 am

@Don. Don’t worry about mini-wars. 1st the company was acquired and his job security is shaky at best, 2nd he’s got a new boss who, if he does it right, can position himself as his champion. It’s not the guys problem a deal is a deal. Further getting the services of a legal attorney doesn’t necessary mean a war is underway, it means he’s getting legal labor advise so he knows what he’s got to work with. At times all it takes is one letter and it’s like grease. obstacles disappear. And if you have to bring the attorney in …so what..the jobs not solid anyway.
I can speak with some experience. I was an expat and simply got forgotten, as expats frequently are. I worked the system as best I could and they ponied up at least a token bonus.
I had an H1B working for me. He expected the company to support/pay for his green card…It was before my time, but he expected it because they promised it…in writing and verbally on a conference call with the HR Director and him and his immigration attorney. Time flew when having fun and the company/HR never followed up. And as work visas go his time was running out and time did run out. He got his attorney involved again. To my bosses credit (it had escalated) he did the right thing..He got the company executive weenies lined up, HR included. The guy by law had to leave the country for 1 year and return to get back on the Greencard queue. Problem. Solution. My boss told me to line him up a job back in his home country with our company, with us paying the costs to get him there, and back, and cover housing, and keep in on the payroll. a defacto expat deal. I was positioned to basically offer one of our Asian offices a free engineer for a year. What a deal. And that’s what we did.
No one’s nose is out of joint for bringing in lawyers. While I’m no longer with that company. He still is.
In the case of the guy that wrote Nick. His company screwed up, plain and simple. They need to man up. If he has to get an attorney in play to make them do so, so be it. If they cop an attitude, he needs to leave anyway. It’s not a good place to work. he can do better

By Peter
July 3, 2012 at 10:00 am

A few questions: Is it a discretionary bonus? forget it…at their discretion they have given him zip.
Based on company results at a certain level?…seem cut & dried.
Did his bonus criteria change with his new job? did he notice?
Did he ever have the bonus criteria in writing?
I never knew a real bonus program that wasn’t in writing.

By Kim
July 3, 2012 at 10:08 am

I think you’re advice is pretty good, but I suspect that he won’t get his money. Because he was paid his wages, I’m about 80% certain the state won’t get involved, because a bonus is not a wage. And if the company can establish, even if it was not explicitly stated in the written agreement, that the bonus was performance-based, they could just say he didn’t earn it (this is part of why I don’t understand bonus structures like this… bonuses should be for exceptional work, not just an extra amount you get for showing up that they didn’t build into your wages for some reason… but I digress). Though since his manager keeps telling him he’s supposed to get it and it’s just tied up in accounting, they’re not exactly establishing a pattern that will allow them to get out of paying it.

By Nick Corcodilos
July 3, 2012 at 10:22 am

@Peter: All good questions I wish I had answers to, but I haven’t been able to. Dealing with the scenario as it stands is a great exercise to make us all think, anyway.

@Kim: I think this battle is worth fighting, but I agree with you. As I said above, I think the employer would argue a bonus is not salary. It would come down to how good each lawyer is at making the case. But I think the reason to engage a lawyer is to press the company into a settlement for some part of the bonus, if possible. And I agree the manager’s statements might be key — and that’s why getting this stuff documented is important.

By Nick Corcodilos
July 3, 2012 at 10:30 am

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION:

As Peter suggests, a well-defined bonus is key, and should be in writing:

1. How much?
2. What exactly triggers the bonus?
3. How clearly defined is the target?
4. Is the target achieveable, or is it a fantasy?
5. How easily measured is the achievement?
6. Are the target and the measurement objective enough that everyone will agree when the target is achieved?
7. What’s the date for payment?

All this must be laid out clearly in the letter of offer, or it’s too easy for the employer to wriggle out of it.

And my question: If you’ve ever had a bonus defined in your compensation package, did it satisfy the above points?

New employees get all excited about bonuses in their job offers, but they don’t always ensure the wording protects them. A bonus is no bonus if it’s designed so there’s no way for you to get it.

By Lucille
July 3, 2012 at 11:11 am

If you get a bonu, make sure you get the terms defined, and when you get the offer, ask for a spreadsheet with the actual calculations about the bonus (where the formulas are NOT hidden) and play with it before accepting.

By Jim
July 3, 2012 at 12:24 pm

I was laid off last year and given “standard severance” of two weeks pay for every year I was with the company. Conveniently forgotten was my annual bonus, which amounted to 25% or so of my base salary. I found Al Sklover at SkloverWorkingWisdom to be a tremendous resource.

He’s an employment attorney and his advice is essentially that an attorney should be a last resort and that you should fully understand all the drawbacks to using one before doing so. Using model letters he offers and advice from his book, I was able to negotiate on my own behalf and finally get paid a pro-rata share of my anticipated bonus.

Not shilling for the guy, be he also suggests sending a formal complaint letter to the highest levels of the organization, including the board of directors and CEO. It worked for me…

By SteveG
July 3, 2012 at 3:00 pm

I once took a 3 month temporary position at a given hourly rate. The position required an urgent fill as someone had suddenly left and they required someone who could step in and finish the last three months of work. I was to be paid monthly as were all the FTEs within this local government organization.

At the end of the first month I was told the first pay check was done in arrears. I pointed out it was already in arrears, but payroll said they could not do a one off. The following month I again got no pay as there was a “mistake” in the payroll entry. I was not happy and made this very clear. At the end of the third month and after the end of the contract I got paid. I got 50% of what I was contracted, because the payroll team said I did not have the required qualifications to do the job and under their union pay agreement this was the maximum they could pay. The fact that I successfully did the job and no one discussed the need for this qualification when they hired me was simply dismissed.

I was not happy. The legal advice was to forget it and move on because the cost of pursuing this was greater than the gain. Also they would have to fight because the wrath of the Union was bigger than their out of pocket costs – win or lose.

By Nick Corcodilos
July 3, 2012 at 4:27 pm

@SteveG: Thanks for sharing this one. A lot of folks reasonably worry about offending the employer and creating “bad feelings” that might have “repercussions” — if they take a firm and early position on the employer’s failure to keep its side of a bargain. But this is what happens when the employee lets a problem like this slide week after week and month after month.

My guess is if you were the employer, you wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if your company treated one of your staff like this. You’d go to bat to fix the problem. Yet your management didn’t. So you got stiffed.

Pls don’t take this personally — I’ve been in your situation myself, rationalizing that a client will eventually pay up. And I’ve gotten burned, too. It’s so painful to belly up to the table and tell the employer/client that “You have 3 days to make good or I stop working and will deliver nothing more to you.”

But the alternative could be that you get the sort of lame “advice” this employer gave you: “It’s not worth complaining.”

I know it hurts. I’m not criticizing you because I get it. But I’m taking the opportunity to point out to members of this little community that your story is very instructive. Think hard about letting a slug keep sliming you. Slugs count on you “understanding” and waiting. Then they slime someone else.

Thanks again for posting this one, SteveG. It’s a powerful lesson. Hope you never experience it again. The only party that should feel guilty in a case like this is the employer.

By Eddie
July 3, 2012 at 5:28 pm

I hear the standard phrase “see a lawyer”. In this context one who specializes in employment law. I think it is time to have an Ask the headhunter theme of how do I do the selection for one. It is like the traffic accident situation that is not often done but what to do when.

By marybeth
July 3, 2012 at 6:13 pm

I agree with Nick, and say that it is worth creating a fuss, but I’d do as Chris suggested and start with the state’s Labor Board, provided that you haven’t already gone through the usual protocols with the company. And it doesn’t hurt to talk with a lawyer (find someone who specializes in labor/employment law), but as a mere consultation first. This way, you know your options, and I’m willing to bet that any good employment lawyer would second that you go through whatever the official process is for these things at work, then, if they’re still stonewalling, go to the Labor Board.

I have two stories, both involving my last employer (a large university), one involved me directly (as in I was the one not getting paid) and the other indirectly involved me (someone else wasn’t getting paid).

In my case, I had been hired and was told to start working. I remember asking around and was told to go to HR because there would be paperwork (a lot of it when you work for a bureaucracy the size of the university) and was warned that it would take “some time” before I got my first paycheck. I’d worked for government before, though a smaller one, so I had some idea of how long things can take. I filled out the paperwork, made copies, returned the originals to HR, and asked how long it would take. Well, the university had just switched to a new system, plus they are on a bi-weekly schedule, and it takes time to get new employees (longer than usual) into the system. I was told it would take about 6 weeks, since I had filed my paperwork in time for the next pay period. Had I filed it the following week, it would have 2 months. Okay….so I continued to work and when 6 weeks passed and I got nothing, I called HR, explained that I was a new employee, had been told in late August that it would take 6 weeks, that it has been 6 weeks but that I didn’t get paid. Was there something else I needed to submit, do, etc. The person at the other checked what I’d submitted, said no, there was nothing else, that she didn’t know why I didn’t get a paycheck, that PeopleSoft was really messed up, and to check back with HR if I didn’t get a paycheck in 2 weeks (next pay period). The same thing happened, and at that point I’d called not only HR but payroll, paid personal visits to HR, been bounced from person to person and each time was told that I had submitted everything necessary and that it takes time. Come Veterans Day, I mentioned it to one of the faculty who hired me, and all he could suggest was that I contact HR (which I’d been doing now since early October. He couldn’t help, but he did tell me that the Bursar’s Office had been known to cut people who hadn’t been an “advance” while HR sorted out whatever mess it was that created the holdup. Funny how neither HR nor Payroll ever mentioned this option to me. Other faculty in the building couldn’t help, the dean’s sec’y (a very knowledgeable person) couldn’t help, and HR and Payroll were giving me the run-around. I was getting disgusted, and each time no one could or would tell me what was wrong, only that I had submitted all of the paperwork and I just had to wait. The day before Thanksgiving I ran into an acquaintance at the gym. She also worked at the university, though not in my dept. We chatted, and I mentioned my difficulties getting paid despite understanding and support from the faculty, and my sense of getting pushed away by HR and payroll. The first thing she said to me was “Have you had your TB test?” TB test? What TB test? Ummm, no. TB test results were not listed on the checklist of required paperwork and documents HR gave me back in August. And not once in all of the times I’d telephoned HR and Payroll (by this time at least twice per week) and asked “what else do you need from me/do I have to submit”, and not once during any of the times I’d paid HR and Payroll personal visits did anyone tell me that I needed to have a TB test and have the results sent to HR. The following Monday I called University Health Services, informed them that I was a new employee, and asked for an appointment to get my TB test. And yes, it was those pesky TB test results that were the hold-up in HR. They wouldn’t even begin to process the paperwork I’d submitted until they had my TB test results. But you would have thought that they would have told me!!! I was so frustrated. It wasn’t on their checklist, I’d been assured that I had turned everything in, and still, 3+ months go by and no paycheck, just assurances that it will be there soon, they’re dealing with PeopleSoft and the system is one huge mess, etc. As a postscript to this story, when I went to UHS for my test, the nurse who gave it to me had some questions, some expected, but when she asked me which dept. I’d be working for and when was I supposed to start my job, I looked at her blankly. Ummm….I’ve been working here since August! She just about dropped the needle and had a cow. It was now early December, and I’d been on campus working since August!!!!!! I filled her in on what happened and the reason for the delay in my appearance for the TB test. She was furious, said that she was going to talk to the Director (of UHS) to see if the Director could knock some sense into HR. The nurse was thinking about the public health risk–suppose I had TB and there I was showing up for work, exposing faculty, staff (no other staff in my building), and students to TB! I could understand her concerns (and no, I didn’t have TB, but that’s how epidemics start, often with someone who doesn’t know they have a contagious disease, and unknowingly spread it to others). Then she asked me which building I was in and if there were dangers or risks there (that UHS should know about, as in what else might I be exposed to). I replied that I worked in Morrill Science Center, and that everyday I walked by 4 labs on my floor that had “biohazard” signs on their doors. She went purple in the face, had shortness of breath, and I thought she was going to have a heart attack. Not only was UHS not certain if I had TB or not, but I worked in a building that had labs that contained biohazards. I didn’t know what kinds of biohazards–Anthrax? Ebola? Marsburg virus? AIDs? Y pestsis (plague)? There’s a whole lot of nasty viruses out there. And yes, it was the lack of TB test results that was the hold-up. UHS got the results back within 4 days, and immediately sent them to HR. I got my first paycheck the next pay period. Yes, I was mad because I’d been given the run-around. None of the faculty remembered that a TB test was required (the ones in my building had all been there a very long time, and they probably forgot having to have one as part of the hiring process). Ditto for the dean’s sec’y–she’d been there for 25 years and didn’t remember. But HR should have known and told me. It was the only document missing, and someone, anyone there should have caught it. Instead, it took an acquaintance to mention it to me. If I hadn’t seen her at the gym, I’m sure that it would have been well into the new year before I got a paycheck. Sometimes HR doesn’t even do payroll and benefits well, let alone recruiting and interviewing and screening. And you can bet that I remembered what happened to me so that when new people were hired in my school I made a point of telling them to get their TB tests ASAP as it takes forever to get paid and not having the TB test results will really screw things up (and that no one in HR will tell them that they need a TB test).

The other case involved a faculty member who was teaching in the master’s program I ran. Every semester and every session paperwork had to be completed and submitted not only to offer the courses but also to pay the faculty teaching them. It was a major pain in the patootie and I had the receptionist help me with this task. She got everything done well before she left for the summer, and this particular faculty member was always the first one to return her contract and her payroll paperwork. The contract spelled out her duties, schedule, and anything else that was important, while the green form was ensure that she got paid. By this time the school had a new business office manager, who decided that before the dean signed off on gold forms (for teaching classes/scheduling) and green forms (to pay the faculty teaching those classes), the business office manager would go over the paperwork. I turned in the paperwork to her as soon as faculty returned it to me, keeping a checklist of who returned what and when, as well as when I submitted to the business office manager. I had 14 faculty teaching that semester, most were off campus, but a couple were on campus. One of the on campus faculty turned in her paperwork to me, I noted that she had filled out her portion correctly, that it was signed and dated, etc., so off it went to the business office manager. The rest of the paperwork trickled in over the next couple of months and I duly vetted and turned it in to the business office manager. She eventually returned all of the green forms to me so I could send it along to Cont. Ed. (next step in the process before going to HR and payroll) except for this one professor’s green form. I checked my notes and saw that Prof. S had been the first one to return it and it was the first form I turned in to the business office manager. As I hand-delivered green forms (Cont. Ed. often lost them, which meant starting the whole process all over again unless I hand-delivered them & got a receipt), I asked the business office manager when I could expect Prof. S’ form so I wouldn’t have to make 2 trips to Cont. Ed., get 2 receipts, etc. She ignored me (common behavior for her). At that point, I delivered everyone else’s forms so they could get paid in a reasonably timely manner (given that there was now an extra 6-8 week “delay” due to the additional step of the business office manager vetting the paperwork and for the dean’s signature). In the meantime, Prof. S is teaching her class. The semester ends, she submits the grades, starts the next term, but still no paycheck. She asked me what happened, and by this time I’d moved to other terms and work, but I still had my notes….and I’d never gotten her form back from the business office manager. I had a copy of unsigned form (by the dean, which doesn’t do any good because the form won’t be processed without the dean’s signature), so I directed her to the business office manager. If she lost the original, the receptionist was back from her summer break by now and she could print out another form and we could start over. The answer turned out to be that D (business office manager) had the form and was sitting on it. She had decided not to pay this Prof. because she had been at the university for a long time and it was costing the dept. money. Prof. S tried to resolve the matter with D, to no avail. She then went to her division heads (all 5 of them), explained what happened, told them that she’d talked to me (I’d done my job and could do no more) and that she’d taken the first step and tried to resolve the matter with D herself and gotten no where. The division heads went to the dean to intercede for her, and got screamed at and thrown out of the dean’s office for their trouble, and told that D could decide who to pay and who not to pay, and they couldn’t do anything about it. Division heads reported back to Prof. S, who then went to the union (next step in the process). The union spoke with her, made sure that she tried to resolve it herself first, then involved the division heads and still couldn’t get anywhere. The union spoke with HR, HR spoke with D, HR backed D, and the union told Prof S that they back HR. Now it has been nearly a year and she still hasn’t been compensated for teaching…so she consulted a lawyer, who told her that not only wouldn’t he take the case, but good luck getting someone else to take it. The university has more money, will stonewall, will make up things about her, will make her life hell. She was in her early 60s, and what this did was push her into early retirement. She was hurt and mad and frustrated. She should have been paid, and it didn’t matter that it was budget issues or that D didn’t think Prof S needed it (if Prof S wanted to take the money and go to Tahiti, or repair her roof, or blow it all on shoes, that wasn’t D’s business). She worked, she should have been paid. At the time, it never occurred to me to tell her to go to the Labor Board. Another adjunct faculty member mentioned going to the Labor Board first thing (after jumping through all of the other hoops, as Prof S did). And it is something I remember now and will remember for the future. Not all employments act fairly or reasonably, even when you’ve done the work. Pettiness, control issues, and a serious case of the emperor’s new clothes (on the part of the dean) were all at issue here, and an innocent person got targeted and caught in a game that she didn’t want to play.

There was other slimy behavior from D, too, so Nick is right and these people will do it again to you if you’re still there and to others. Don’t let it go. Or, if you’re in a position to really make a fuss, go to the media, but that is truly a last resort (as in when you’re retiring and you don’t have anything to fear and aren’t worried about your reputation to a future employer).

By Ally
July 3, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Earlier this year, I accepted a temporary position with a local government agency. My hourly pay was spelled out in an email offering me the position. However, I did not sign any sort of paper agreement before I started the job.

After two weeks, when I went to fill out my online timesheet, the hourly wage listed was less than I had been offered. I immediately contacted HR and was told that the they had made a mistake in the amount they offered me, but that they had no intention of honoring their original offer–even for the hours I had ALREADY worked. Even the HR director claimed that they had no legal responsibility to pay me the promised wage for hours worked. I quit on the spot. However, since the hiring manager wanted me for the work and needed someone fast (he knew me from other work I’d done for the same org over the years), HR agreed to “reclassify” the position to one at a higher hourly wage. Although I had to wait a couple of weeks for the “new” job, it was well worth the nearly 30 percent pay increase. Needless to say, I got the second offer in writing, with a signature.

By Nic
July 4, 2012 at 6:31 am

@Don wrote “once you declare a mini-war with an employer over a disagreement- and by mini-war I mean actions with lawsuit undertones- your relationship with your employer is forever changed.”

Really? If so, then it’s by the employer’s actions to me, as clearly that relationship forever changed IMHO the day they didn’t pay money due in writing.

You can rest assured if money was owed to an employer they would be legally all over the employee like a cheap suit.

It says everything to me if one would lower themselves to kiss the arse of an employer for a job or out of fear of an employer over making sure they are properly compensated as agreed.

By Lynda
July 4, 2012 at 3:07 pm

I totally agree with Chris. Go straight to the State Labor Board. They are usually quite helpful in resolving these matters very quickly! They do not take kindly to employers defrauding their employees.
I was once not given my salary and bonus in a company I was partners in……..it was a hostile takeover!!! Gotcha, boys!

By Jim
July 4, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Go to the state labor relations board *and* start your job search simultaneously.

After our company was sold, they laid off employees. The company then offered them jobs as 1099 contractors. If the former employee turned down the job, unemployment ended.

The employees were laid off again after completing the assignment, and found they could not collect unemployment. The now twice-unemployed appealed to the state labor board. The company did not even send a rep to the hearing. The arbitrator was astonished, and re-instated unemployment compensation.

By Tom
August 13, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Don’t put too much faith in the State Labor Relations Board (SLRB). The state of Texas has 3 people on each panel; 1 for the consumer, 1 for the companies, and 1 “neutral”

I was offered a job, got everything in writing, worked 10 days, was let go. After filing for unemployment, it was denied because the company wrote back and said “Huh? We don’t know this guy, never hired him, never heard of him”. SLRB? Decision them.

I then provided specific info that indeed I had worked for them and had gone onsite to their customers and could prove it. SLRB? Decision me.

Their response? “Well, ok, he worked for us, but he really didn’t do anything and it certainly wasn’t for the amount of money he claims.” SLRB? Decision them.

I then provided the SLRB a copy of the job offer letter ($3000/mth) and then pointed out I worked for them for 10 business days; so I should be paid $1500 (half a month).SLRB? Decision me.

They complained, wah wah wah, got an appeal, somehow the SLRB LOST the copy of the letter even though nothing else got lost (and they had even sent me a copy of the copy they received!). The idiot arbitrator decided to finalize it all with no appeals even though I offered to send it in AGAIN because he didn’t want it to “drag on”. So what did I get?

Decision for me…..but only at minimum wage which amounted to about $130. And then when I didn’t cash the check for over a year because I was so p.o.’d at the SLRB over the whole situation, they turned the funds over to the State Lost and Found and then wanted to charge me half of it as “custodial fees” when I finally did make my claim. Told them to shove it up where their heads were.

Mother effin’ scumbags, the lot of ‘em!

By Edward
August 14, 2012 at 6:37 pm

“Since your offer letter promised an annual 20% bonus in writing, and since you got no other written notice to the contrary”.

Depends on how big the amount in question Take them to small claims court where the legal rigor of process is relaxed, you act as your own lawyer, the judges decision is non-appealable and in Massachusetts if you can see a legal angle of being a consumer in the situation there is a “93 A” treble damages settlement.

By Joe
January 16, 2013 at 9:20 am

My company has issued bonuses at the end of every year and again in March for many years. However, this year nobody received a bonus for the year’s end with no inclination as to why. Should the fact that many employees are upset they didn’t receive anything nor a letter explaining that we would not, push one to give the boss a “heads up” that the morale of the employees is low and they are looking for answers?

By Eddie
January 16, 2013 at 9:36 am

“My company has issued bonuses ….. this year nobody received… nor a letter explaining …..they are looking for answers?”
I seen this happen before and what happens is everyone pulls back on the effort throttle just a little, it adds up and the company ends up in the dumpster, literally.

By Nick Corcodilos
January 16, 2013 at 11:01 am

@Joe: I think it merits a question to management. Why no bonuses? Eddie says it well: If there are no good answers, then there won’t be good quality work being done. Of course, whoever goes to talk to management might be taking a risk. You need to make a judgment about that, and about how you approach it if you do it. Be careful. Bigger question: Is this a place where you want to keep working?

By Adi
April 4, 2013 at 9:44 pm

My salary is based off production, I get a base salary plus a bonus every 6 months based on the number of clients I see. This has worked fine in the past but the last 6 month salary dropped substantially. When I looked at the accounting records I found out that I had been paying both my assistant and my coworkers assistant. When I contacted my boss about this she said she would contact accounting right away. The next monthly report came in and it still showed I was paying for two assistants instead of one. The boss told me I would be reimbursed the next quarter and my coworkers salary would be deducted from to cover the cost. I don’t understand why they could not issue me a check right away? Why has she not removed the extra assistant salary from my accounting sheets so that it is corrected. This bonus is actually part of my earned salary. We have a contract. What should I do?

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