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I need some ideas
Old 04-04-2004, 08:11 PM   #1
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I need some ideas

I know this post pertains to work, (I did post it under other topics)but I also know there are some better than average people who hang out here so I thought I'd post this as I really need some advice on a job. After reading this I think most of you will be glad to be where you don't have to put up with this crap, I'm not quite there yet, but if this keeps up I may decide to jump ship a few years earlier than I have planned. I posted this on another message board and just copied it over to here so maybe some of you guys could give me some ideas on how to irritate this fellow a bit.


I was recently employed by an trim installation company in West Tennessee as a supervisor for about twenty guys. After I was employed for about three months I was asked to sign a non-compete agreement stating I would not hire on for one year with any of my employers competition or clients extending to a 50 miles radius around the city involved, in addition I was also asked to sign an employee handbook that required me to come in for an exit interview if I was terminated or quit from my job or else I would not receive my last check.
After a bit of time on the job I began to see a lot of things that I thought were illegal, guys being fired at a whim, paychecks being reduced on a per hour basis without informing the employee first, pay raises being promised but taken away at the last minute, I was even told that I was going to have to get on the stand and commit perjury in an upcoming case over one of these instances. I had twenty guys working legally, but at least twelve others that were illegaly in the country and being paid cash under the table through one of our regular employees. Finally I had enough and quit without any notice in a rather heated exchange with the owner (another violation of the employee handbook requiring me to give two weeks notice). Now I have been informed that by my actions I am not going to receive my last check and that I am going to be sued because I am now working for a cabinet shop now as a CNC operator unless I immediately quit. I feel this is forcing me into a hardship as my previous employer is now telling me that I cannot work anywhere near where I live in my profession. I am a bit unsure of my position but I feel that I have a right to work and not have to move out of state to do so. I also feel that I have a right to my last paycheck, as I earned the money and no one can say that I have to perform anything extra to receive it, as I have already turned in any company tools I had as well as uniforms and such. I've read this forum for a year now and I know there are alot of honest retired business owners that frequent these pages and I am hoping to draw on some of your knowledge on this situation, if anybody has any experience along these lines their advice would be gratefully appreciated as well. I know that laws vary from state to state but if you have any experience with this sort of thing let me know. I can hardly afford to hire a lawyer just to recieve my last check, much less fight a court battle just to keep my job. However I would love to put the screws to this guy and hey some of you may get a kick out of it messing with an employer who thinks he's above the law.

Alot of you guys have alot of time to sit around and think of getting even with a guy like this, so any of your ideas will be most welcome as well..

Jack
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Re: I need some ideas
Old 04-04-2004, 08:41 PM   #2
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Re: I need some ideas

Jack,

You need legal help. Maybe you could find a
lawyer who would defend you and counter sue
for a percentage of the judgment. If you can
come up with any proof of their misdeeds it
would strengthen your case. Maybe they are
just bluffing you to get you to shut up. It might
be worth 1 hr of a lawyer's time to get some
good advice. I am not a lawyer so take my
comments for what they are worth.

Good luck,

Charlie (aka Chuck-Lyn)
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Re: I need some ideas
Old 04-04-2004, 10:50 PM   #3
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Re: I need some ideas

You could check through the http://www.dol.gov/ web site, and there may be some links there.

Your state dept of labor website, http://www.state.tn.us/labor-wfd/ may have some links to people to call. I know that in CO, the state DOL deals with failure to deliver final paychecks, and they have some stringent rules and penalties. (My daughter was having trouble getting paid, and I did some research.)

But if you signed agreements with your employer, then you should probably contact a lawyer. Check and see if your credit union has any discount legal benefits (mine, Bellco, does, although I have not used them yet).

Good luck,
Wayne
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Re: I need some ideas
Old 04-04-2004, 10:56 PM   #4
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Re: I need some ideas

Quote:
You need legal help. *Maybe you could find a lawyer who would defend you and counter sue for a percentage of the judgment. *If you can come up with any proof of their misdeeds it would strengthen your case. *Maybe they are just bluffing you to get you to shut up. *It might
be worth 1 hr of a lawyer's time to get some good advice. *I am not a lawyer so take my comments for what they are worth.
Jack,

I try to avoid lawyers like a mountain lion with rabies, but I agree with Charlie. A good lawyer you get through referal from a trusted friend would be best, but an ambulance chasing reptile would be better than standing by and being intimidated by this kind of slime ball.

Best of luck.
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Re: I need some ideas
Old 04-04-2004, 10:58 PM   #5
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Re: I need some ideas

Well, browsed just a little before shutting down the tab on TN's DOL. Go visit http://www.state.tn.us/labor-wfd/lsques.html

Here are some excerpts:

Are there any legal restrictions against firing, suspending or disciplining employees?

Tennessee is known as an ""EMPLOYMENT-AT-WILL"" state. Generally, this means that an employer may legally hire, fire, suspend or discipline any employee at any time and for any reason - good or bad - or for no reason at all. However, an employer may not discriminate against any employee on the basis of the employee's race, sex, age, religion, color, national origin, or disability.

Also, under the Tennessee "WHISTLE BLOWER'S LAW", the employer may not take any reprisal against an employee who advises the employer that the business is in violation of a law and the employee either discloses, threatens to disclose, or testifies about the violation of law, or the employee objects to or refuses to participate in an employment act in violation of law. This law may be found at Tennessee Revised Statutes Title 50-1-304



What is the law concerning payment of final paychecks to employees?

Tennessee employees who are laid off, fired, or who quit must be paid their wages in full at the next regular payday, not to exceed 21 days from the date of their discharge or termination. Wages include vacation time earned by the employee. Claims against an employer for late payment may be filed with the Labor Standards Division. The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development has the authority to enforce this law. You may review this law at Tennessee Revised Statutes Title 50-2-103(g)
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Re: I need some ideas
Old 04-05-2004, 08:37 AM   #6
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Re: I need some ideas

Definitely see a lawyer; maybe more than one. I doubt they can keep your last paycheck. And I've heard stories through the grapevine about no-compete clauses being invalid, but the lawer(s) will help you with that. I can't help but wonder if they would actually be afraid of civil court since they could be forced to reveal information about illegal activities or start pleading the 5th in civil court.

My personal opinions, which may be worthless: Avoid the temptation of counterthreatening/blackmailing as in "I'll turn you in for your illegal stuff if you hassle me". Avoid otherwise kicking them or upsetting them. They've been breaking the law for a while and are apparently accomplished at it. Don't play dirty; become a pillar of virtue until it's all over. But don't roll over and give in, either.

It is my intention to refuse no-compete clauses in the future and walk away from anything illegal. Hopefully I'll have the self confidence and financial situation to back that up.
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Re: I need some ideas
Old 04-05-2004, 08:53 AM   #7
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Re: I need some ideas

I have been told that if you are already employed and you are forced to sign a non-compete without any additional compensation (say, a promotion) then that is probably unenforceable. Unfortunitely whenever someone is willing to throw a bunch of lawsuits at you you are in for a tough time no matter how much the law is on your side. Good luck.
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Re: I need some ideas
Old 04-05-2004, 02:28 PM   #8
 
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Re: I need some ideas

I have spent a fortune on attorneys over my lifetime.
Sometimes you have no choice. However, the best
attorney I ever worked with (over 15 years) gave me some excellent advice, i.e. if you can avoid being either
a plaintiff or a defendant (in other words, stay out of court) you will almost always be better off. Frequently,
even if you ultimately win, you lose (time, money, stress). I've been there!

John Galt
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Re: I need some ideas
Old 04-05-2004, 04:19 PM   #9
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Re: I need some ideas

Thanks guys for the great responses. I feel like I'm not going to take too bad of a beating after reading your replys. However I was a salaried employee, this was prior to me having read or signed anything if that counts any. I'm going to go ahead and take this to the DOL, and hopefully they will be able to negotiate my last check from him at the very least.

I know the subject of this post could be very easily viewed as sour grapes on my part, but believe me when I state that I haven't even begun to let on about some of the shenanigans that I've witnessed over the last few months.

Today at work I had some time to think about it, maybe the best thing to do is just sit tight for a bit and have some fun, I could order a load of gravel to be delivered to his address, " Just put it anywhere on the front lawn fellows", or make a discreet call to the IRS requesting an audit because they've screwed up yet again, ....there's nothing like being in a fight with someone who doesn't realize they are in a fight!

Jack
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Re: I need some ideas
Old 04-05-2004, 06:09 PM   #10
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Re: I need some ideas

Now that IRS idea is interesting - at least as a feel better action. I read at http://www.lawsguide.com/mylawyermd/...3&article=530:

Quote:
Is it true that the IRS pays rewards for turning in tax cheaters?

Yes, but you won't get paid unless and until the IRS collects from the cheater. The IRS pays about 8% of the first $100,000 it collects and 1% of the balance. Of course, any reward you recover is taxable income. Identities of informers are kept secret, but tax cheats usually know who reported them -- mostly ex-spouses or disgruntled business associates.

In a recent year, the IRS paid out a total of only $1.5 million for tips, on $72 million collected. The IRS places low priority on investigating tips and then looks for ways to avoid paying rewards. And, most of the time, you will never know what action is taken on your tip. If you want to try it, use IRS Form 211. P.S. Rumor has it that turning someone in to the IRS can result in the informant being investigated.
However the IRS page on this is at http://www.irs.gov/irs/article/0,,id=106778,00.html and of course, is not nearly so negative. It also mentions the possibility of a reward. The illegal under the table payments may qualify! And if you have enough names of people involved, they are not all likely to lie under oath...some may but not usually all!

Have fun!
Wayne
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Re: I need some ideas
Old 04-05-2004, 07:40 PM   #11
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Re: I need some ideas

Jack,

Based on what you've said, at this point I would be afraid not to contact the IRS. Forget about revenge. Make sure that you are not in a position to be blamed for illegal activities. I think BMJ's previous advice to become a pillar of virtue makes a lot of sense.

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Re: I need some ideas
Old 04-05-2004, 08:35 PM   #12
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Re: I need some ideas

Actually, I think that the sequence of 'get the back pay' then do any reporting to the IRS, etc. makes sense. And I would agree with BMJ on not making threats to get your paycheck - Just contact the DOL, get paid, then call the IRS. They will probably pay you to get the DOL off of their back, but not if they know you are going to stir up trouble for them.


Wayne
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Re: I need some ideas
Old 04-06-2004, 05:00 AM   #13
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Re: I need some ideas

Jack, 20 yrs. ago when I was involved in a no-compete hassle with an employer, I was told by an attorney that the contract is primarily used to prevent employees from quitting & opening up a similar business in the locality. Attorney said that they could not prevent one from merely seeking work with another existing competitor; a man has a right to seek employment elsewhere. If your new employer was already in competition with previous employer & you are not a new partner, I would not sweat this issue. If you do contact attorney, don't do so for this issue alone.
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Re: I need some ideas
Old 04-07-2004, 12:55 PM   #14
 
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Re: I need some ideas

I'm not an attorney (thank God), but am in a profession where signing non-compete clauses are common. What I understand is that they can't be enforced if they're too stringent. "Don't work anywhere within 50 miles" is riduculously stringent. This could never hold up in court (of course, going to court is last resort).
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Re: I need some ideas
Old 04-07-2004, 01:28 PM   #15
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Re: I need some ideas

I would take up the last paycheck thing with them one last time and then go to the department of labor to eke it out of them if they wont comply.

If you observed illegal behavior taking place, by law you have to report it to the appropriate authorities, otherwise you're an accomplice or obstructing, and as mentioned you can be dragged into being more than an accomplice. Suspicions are not enough though, you should be sure something hinky was going on.

Then go get a job doing what you want where you want, and if they have the gumption to try to enforce your contract, be fierce and durable and kick their asses. I would however try to do stuff thats non-conflicting...like dont go back and raid their customer base or do anything unnecessary to blatantly take away current or future business from them.

This is my standard two-phase program: be nice and reasonable and do everything thats expected for a short period of time to allow everyone else to be nice and reasonable and do the right things, then comes the nuking.
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Re: I need some ideas
Old 04-07-2004, 04:07 PM   #16
 
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Re: I need some ideas

Man, TH I do NOT agree with you on this one. You have
to pick your fights (I've been in plenty). If the other
side has more money, which I assume is the case,
pushing them to the wall will not turn out well.
I've been on both sides of this and am naturally
confrontational, so I know a bit about it.

John Galt
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Re: I need some ideas
Old 04-07-2004, 05:10 PM   #17
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Re: I need some ideas

Hmm, re-read what I said then.

I said use the DOL to get his paycheck, then go about his business and if pushed, push back.

I cant imagine working for scumbags, having them withhold my pay, and then running to another state to work because the scumbags might try to enforce a hard-to-enforce contract, while knowing the employee has a lot of knowledge about their problems.

As far as not reporting what he knows, if he knows something for sure, I'm betting defendants or defendants to be #27 and #54 in the enron or worldcom situations knew something and decided to keep their mouths shut and not rock the boat.
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Re: I need some ideas
Old 04-07-2004, 06:13 PM   #18
 
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Re: I need some ideas

Well, I don't really know anyone who pushes harder
than I do if pushed first. Some people enjoy a good
fight. I did when I was younger. Maybe if I
was 40 instead of 60 I would view things differently.

John Galt
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Re: I need some ideas-Any documentation
Old 04-07-2004, 09:09 PM   #19
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Re: I need some ideas-Any documentation

Quote:
I have spent a fortune on attorneys over my lifetime.
Sometimes you have no choice. However, the best
attorney I ever worked with (over 15 years) gave me some excellent advice, i.e. if you can avoid being either
a plaintiff or a defendant (in other words, stay out of court) you will almost always be better off. Frequently,
even if you ultimately win, you lose (time, money, stress). I've been there!
[size=3Pretty sage advise John.

Jack, I certainly feel for you-you got the raw end of the stick. I'm no atty, but it sounds to me that you were "Constructively Discharged" meaning that, even in an "Employment at Will state, you may have some legal recourse becuause your former employeer made the work place so "hostile" to you and felow employees, that you could no longer tolerate such conduct.

Anyway, I like the DOL advise-anything you can win will only strengthen your case if you do retain an Atty. Maybe youy can find one (atty) that will accept your case on a percentage basis. Of course that really eats into your settlement, but sometimes one's options are few, and.... unpleasant.

About the IRS thing, I like the guy that urged you to take the high road on this: afterall, how will you feel about this in 5 or 10 years? Probably a lot calmer than you do now.

The one benefit of a GOOD atty, is that he or she can give you some unemotional and objective advise. IMHO, a good atty may, in fact, tell you that your recourse is, well, not encouaging.... Not what we want to hear, but sometimes we need to hear it.

Having said that, I definately think you should consult with an atty and contact DOL. Are you over 40? Maybe an age discrimination suit with your state EEOC office could be of some value to you.

Another thing to consider, is if this guy is a real dead beat, you may win the judgement and still not be able to collect (or spend a considerable amount of time trying to "attach" his assets) what is rightfully yours. I really hope I'm wrong, but like JG's atty said said sometimes staying out of court is -ultimately- in ones best behaviour.


Disclaimer: I've been to court serveral times (defendant, company representative) but, I sure as heck ain't no lawyer. My comments and a buck will get you a nice cup of coffee... (LOL!)

In any case, I sincerely wish you the best of luck and you will definately be happier away from that scum bag, so called businessman....

Lance
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Re: I need some ideas
Old 04-08-2004, 05:29 PM   #20
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Re: I need some ideas

Jack, I work in a Wage and Hour enforcement section in another state. Definitely pursue you last check with your state DOL.

As to the non-compete agreement they are almost always determined to be valid/invalid on a case by case basis. First, the local state courts have to find that such contracts are legal. If they do they usually set some gudelines about what the agreement can and cannot limit. Then experience says about half the time the employer screws up and lets greed get the best of him and doesn't follow the guidelines. Definitely since they are messing with your livlihood you should spend the buck and talk with an attorney. But do yourself a favor, research the attorney first. You want to talk with an attorney who is experienced in employment law and one who takes plaitiff cases.

Start with the yellow pages, they usually list by area of practice, also if there is a legal services referral service in your state contact them. Finally, the people at your state Wage and Hour office MAY be able to tell you about some attorneys they know who practice in that area of law.

Good Luck. There are more scumbag employers out there than you can ever imagine.

(71 days and counting til ER- been lurking here for months, its the first time I've had any thing intelligent to post)
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