Author Topic: Should I take legal action against former employer?  (Read 11670 times)

Bearded Man

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Should I take legal action against former employer?
« on: June 17, 2015, 01:35:33 PM »
I'm calling and speaking with some local attorneys, but few straight answers, all they seem to care about is charging me $400 to listen to my 5 minute spiel.

I was offered a 15K bonus via email by my manager, as a retention bonus. The bonus was the difference between what I was making and another job offer.

This was all via email. It took me 7 months of calling and emailing and generally being ignored, before I got anything. After many documented runarounds and being yelled at by my VP, I was forced to sign, under duress, an agreement that they would pay me 5K but if I left the company I would have to pay the money back in full.

Well, since they ended up not giving me the full bonus I was originally promised, and changing the terms on me for what they were giving me, I left for a higher paying job.

Now they sent me a threatening letter via a law firm, demanding 3K back, and threatening to potentially use. I'm not sure if it's worth their time to sue over 3K, but it seems like it would cost them more to file suit against me than the 3K.

My options are to let them get away with this and just pay them the money OR, pay $400 for a threatening letter demanding the rest of the money I'm owed and to cease asking for money back. It could result in them just filing suit against me, which could cost me more money.

As much as I hate it, the better business decision might be to pay these assholes the money. I just hate lying down for these bullies, it reminds me a lot of the threatening letter MMM got, which they quickly backed down from after MMM fought back.

What say ye, spend some money and fight back against tyranny or let it go as a better business decision. If any attorneys could tell me if I have a case (based on the above) that's worth pursuing that would be ideal. :-)

Bearded Man

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2015, 02:01:09 PM »
Update: talked to what seemed like a really great Attorney; he said it would cost me 1-2K to do a document review (employment agreement, original emails and signed agreement post emails for original agreement). He doesn't think they would sue me over 5 grand let alone 3. But they could very well come after me, and whoever loses has to pay the others attorney fees. So I could end up spending money on my lawyer, theirs, and still owing them money.

What he suggested though, was to send them a letter myself even telling them I dispute the facts of the case and will offer to agree not to pursue a claim against them for the 8K if they drop the 3k.

Either that or I just pay them the 3K and chalk it up as a lesson learned...get a formal contract in writing not just email (even though it counts), and don't sign any new agreements without consulting with an attorney.

Bearded Man

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2015, 10:26:55 PM »
Strange no responses. Looks like I'm going to let them know that I'm filing an EEOC complaint for discrimination since I know of two other employees who owe the company money and were not pursued.

I'm also going to send emails that will lose the company millions of dollars, to the media. Good luck finding clients after these emails go public. They are pretty damaging, depicting management confessing to felony fraud.

Also, I'm going to call in regulators since they company has to comply with federal regulations and bring a world of investigation that opens up all kinds of dirt. You think they will change their tune then?


MDM

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2015, 10:37:38 PM »
What he suggested though, was to send them a letter myself even telling them I dispute the facts of the case and will offer to agree not to pursue a claim against them for the 8K if they drop the 3k.

This seems as good a suggestion as any.

raikoi

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2015, 10:38:21 PM »
Well this escalated quickly :D

in 8 hours from giving up to costing the company millions of dollars. Sounds like you are pretty pissed and my advise would be to not pay 3k to the company. One has to stand up for oneīs values and even if you lost, the financial consequences wouldīt be catastrophe.

I would think twice before sending mails to media.

Diclaimer: Living in Finland so no idea about your legal system and itīs differences to ours.

wtjbatman

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2015, 10:53:49 PM »
Well this escalated quickly :D

Can you imagine what would have happened if no one had responded for a few more hours?

Bearded Man

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2015, 11:32:49 PM »
I actually don't know that any such emails would cost them anything, but you know the media loves a scandal. Will they pick up the story? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe I should just send them the money. This could blow into a bigger deal, though yeah, I am pissed, and I am not the type to take things lying down.

Cathy

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2015, 11:56:01 PM »
Strange no responses. Looks like I'm going to let them know that I'm filing an EEOC complaint for discrimination since I know of two other employees who owe the company money and were not pursued.

I'm also going to send emails that will lose the company millions of dollars, to the media. Good luck finding clients after these emails go public. They are pretty damaging, depicting management confessing to felony fraud.

Also, I'm going to call in regulators since they company has to comply with federal regulations and bring a world of investigation that opens up all kinds of dirt. You think they will change their tune then?

You should be careful what you put in your communications regarding this dispute. Making threats unrelated to the underlying dispute may constitute extortion under state or federal laws. This may include your contemplated threats to tarnish the company's reputation through media reports, or to accuse the company of "felony fraud". If you do decide to take those kind of steps, you should absolutely avoid giving any impression that the company can avoid those steps by settling with you. Your plan to "let them know" about these possible courses of action is not a good idea. It would be a shame if you made the situation worse for yourself by engaging in steps that border on extortion. The proposed steps themselves may be lawful, but make sure they aren't being used as extortionate threats to induce settlement. One of the advantages of having a lawyer draft the communications is that they can stick to strictly lawful threats.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2015, 12:18:50 AM by Cathy »

Exflyboy

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2015, 12:00:19 AM »
Personally I'd send them the $3k.

Reason being is they might decide to make YOU an exception and happily spend $25k coming after you (its chump change for them to prevent this happening in the future).

Whats more if you do loose and you might be on the hook for the costs.

Your at risk of prodding the sleeping bear here. Yes its not fair but anyone who claims the American legal system is fair is delusional.. He who has the most money wins.. But like going for political office really.


Lordy

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2015, 03:01:27 AM »
I would send them the 3K and be done with it.

From what you told us about this company it's really not worth bothering. They cheated you and you got the short end of the stick. It's not fair but that's most likely how a court would see it. Not worth potentially loosing another 1-2K just to hold on to 3K.

patrickza

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2015, 04:03:33 AM »
I'd talk to them, bring up the whole 15k now 5k thing, see if you can come to a better arrangement, but if you fail, pay them. You're almost always financially better off if you can get things done without lawyers*.

*I'm probably more anti-lawyer than most, my father got bankrupted by selling a property the purchaser never paid for. The lawyers fees are what bankrupted him, and once he couldn't pay them, there went any chance of a claim against the property thief.

BlueHouse

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2015, 04:14:26 AM »
I would start by sending via certified mail, a letter that includes their email and asking them for documentation on why they don't intend to follow through with their promise.
Keep it professional, keep it businesslike. If you get all crazy-like, then you've already started to lose the battle. So no threats.

Now, if you signed a different agreement that overrules and negates the first one, then WTF were you thinking?  You're going to have to explain exactly how you were under duress. Because if they had a gun to your head or were water boarding you, then you have a case. If you just wanted or needed the money right then, well, I don't think that's duress   

Most companies won't bother for 3 K, so it sounds like this is personal and like there is some anger on both sides. Do what you can to calm the situation and get both sides to agree to walk away without further injury to either side.

chasesfish

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2015, 06:04:32 AM »
There seems to be a lot of emotion here in this post.

You've quit the job and divorced the employer.  Go be happy at your new job and make them go away.  They might have deeper pockets than you if you want to get into a pissing match

The_path_less_taken

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2015, 07:01:57 AM »
I would put all of their "we'll give you x amount" emails into a letter stating that this was your understanding of the original agreement.

I would then mention that at a later date, they pressured you into signing a different agreement, including those emails.

Then, I'd mention that at this point, you consider it a wash. You've been very unhappy and stressed there and are willing to 'forgive' their outstanding debt to you in a good faith effort for the both of you to just move on with your lives.

Because the reality is, neither of you wants to work with the other at this point.

A letter written in a CALM, reasonable manner (with zero threats about "I'm going to the media!") should be directed as high up the food chain at the firm as you can go. Aim for the top.

Consider this: anything you say or write can and will be used against you in court, should the situation deteriorate. Be smart. Don't provide them any ammo.

That said...there are times where people feel they've been treated so poorly that they are perfectly willing to tilt the windmill.

But the opinion on whether Don Quixote was an ass or rode one, varies by which side of a situation you're on.

Good luck.

Late_Bloomer

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2015, 07:16:23 AM »
I'd suggest to keep this simple. Give them back the 3k and move on. It's not  like you were fired and they are coming after you and attempting to take precious resources that you now need to survive. You took the better job and are transitioning into something much better. To be realistic here, this is money they gave you as a retention, no matter what the amount was, and you left the job for another. Even though I agree they are some real bastards, you have no right to keep the money. It sounds like emotions are getting in the way of this decision.

jackiechiles2

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #15 on: June 18, 2015, 07:20:46 AM »
Here's how I see it.

For a contract to be enforceable, there must be offer, acceptance and consideration.  The consideration is where some value is exchanged.

For the first offer of $15k, it looks like you had an offer of $15k to stay at the company instead of take another job.  I don't see where you clearly accepted it, but I'm just assuming you left that portion off.  You stayed at the job, but never received the $15k.  The question here is was it clearly an offer and did you clearly accept it.  If it was just some preliminary negotiations, then you're kind of stuck here.

Then, after you raised hell, they basically try to make the same deal, but this time $5k with the provision that you'd have to return the money if you left early.  So here's the thing. The second contract is basically an alteration to the first.  For that to be enforceable, there must be some type of NEW consideration to make tha alteration enforceable.  That is, had your employer offered you like a better office or benefit or something in exchange for you agreeing to alter the contract, then the $5k contract with the new provision that you repay the loan would be enforceable.  As it is, it looks like they tried to offer you the same deal with different terms without additional consideration.  This would make the $5k contract with the repayment provision null and void and unenforceable. 

You'd also possibly have a claim for fraud wherein you claim they intentionally made a false statement with the goal that you rely on that false statement, that you relied on that false statement to your detriment and you did not know the statement was false. 


In short, if they sue you, you've got enough counterclaims to give them pause about pursuing it further.  At trial, this could go either way.  I'm not sure what the law in your state is, but it's normally pretty unusual for a court to award attorneys fees.  That's just not how it works in the United States.  It's got to be pretty extraordinary for a judge to force you to pay attorneys fees for legitimate disagreements.  Potentially if the contract you signed stated you'd reimburse for attorneys fees or the like you could end up being stuck, but I wouldn't be as concerned about loser pays.  That's just not that common in the US.

Take this for what you paid for it.  I'm not sure what state you're in, but I'm probably not licensed in it, so do not take this for legal advice, more of friendly advice for you to consider.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2015, 07:22:35 AM by jackiechiles2 »

Bearded Man

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2015, 09:30:14 AM »
Jack,

Thanks. What you said makes sense. I think both sides dropped the ball on this. Although I did reply to their offer via email and tell them I accept the difference in pay between the other offer and what I was making now, I wish I would have gotten something signed with more detail. Yes, the email is binding based on what an attorney told me yesterday, but the fact that I signed the altered agreement sucks because it clouds the issue.

I think I could just pay the 3K and go after them for the 8K they still owe me. After all, the 3K is what I signed an agreement saying I'd pay back. I still have the agreement from the original emails where they owe me money that was never paid. 

Is it worth fighting over? Probably not. I could win, I could lose. I would not be as hesitant to fight it in court if I did not face the prospect of paying their attorneys fees if I lose. Oddly enough, one of my colleagues is suing them after being terminated, and they offered him money to go away but he declined, he is going to trial!

I did think about how going to the media could give them more ammo or come across as extortion while I was trying to sleep last night. I think rather than going to the media I have a watchdog agency who I can complain to and turn the evidence of fraud over. I don't think that gives them any ammunition to come after me with, as it is whistleblowing which is protected in this case, and I'm not doing it with the thought of possible getting this "issue" dropped. They are just dishonest people and screwing me over was a big mistake and I want to show them that.

A) I will either pay the 3K and let it be.
B) Pay the 3K and file a complaint with the watchdog agency.
C) Write a letter contesting the matter and suggesting we all agree to just walk away from each other.

Ricky

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2015, 09:39:53 AM »
They paid you $5k with the condition that they'd ask for it back if you left. You left, they're only asking for $3k. Am I missing something!? You're still pocketing $2k.

I'm sorry, but it sounds like you gave up any chances of winning this when you signed the agreement. Pay the $3k and move on with your life.

Katsplaying

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #18 on: June 18, 2015, 09:43:23 AM »
May have zero bearing on the OP's situation but as a union member, whenever I'm asked to sign ANYTHING by the company, I always ask: is signing this a condition of continued employment? If yes, I sign and add "under duress."  If not,I decline. My manager notes "declined to sign" on all documents.

It sounds like there was significant coercion for you to sign. I hope that factors into the attorney's recommendations.

Good luck.

BlueHouse

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #19 on: June 18, 2015, 10:05:19 AM »


I did think about how going to the media could give them more ammo or come across as extortion while I was trying to sleep last night. I think rather than going to the media I have a watchdog agency who I can complain to and turn the evidence of fraud over. I don't think that gives them any ammunition to come after me with, as it is whistleblowing which is protected in this case, and I'm not doing it with the thought of possible getting this "issue" dropped. They are just dishonest people and screwing me over was a big mistake and I want to show them that.
So if they had paid you the $15k, would you have stayed even knowing about alleged fraud?  Your statements are coming through a bit disingenuous.

expectopatronum

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #20 on: June 18, 2015, 10:33:20 AM »

I think I could just pay the 3K and go after them for the 8K they still owe me. After all, the 3K is what I signed an agreement saying I'd pay back. I still have the agreement from the original emails where they owe me money that was never paid. 

Is it worth fighting over? Probably not. I could win, I could lose. I would not be as hesitant to fight it in court if I did not face the prospect of paying their attorneys fees if I lose. Oddly enough, one of my colleagues is suing them after being terminated, and they offered him money to go away but he declined, he is going to trial!

I did think about how going to the media could give them more ammo or come across as extortion while I was trying to sleep last night. I think rather than going to the media I have a watchdog agency who I can complain to and turn the evidence of fraud over. I don't think that gives them any ammunition to come after me with, as it is whistleblowing which is protected in this case, and I'm not doing it with the thought of possible getting this "issue" dropped. They are just dishonest people and screwing me over was a big mistake and I want to show them that.

A) I will either pay the 3K and let it be.
B) Pay the 3K and file a complaint with the watchdog agency.
C) Write a letter contesting the matter and suggesting we all agree to just walk away from each other.

This is a shitty situation. However, I don't know that going public is actually worth the money based on the risk it may pose to your professional reputation. Depending on the size of the company, who they know in the industry, and more, this could damage your reputation all because you tried to blow the whistle on a crappy HR stunt. I guess I'm just opposed to trying to blow it up on social media etc when being professional is still an option (C). Remember the lady who blew up Twitter over what she felt was a sexist joke? http://www.thewire.com/technology/2013/03/adria-richards-statement/63608/

The guy who made the joke ended up fired and so did she, and they're both in the news in not a great way. Airing grievances isn't terribly professional even if you're on the "right" end (or think you are).

I'm not a lawyer either, but I don't know that one broken contract (we will pay you a $15K retention bonus) means that the other (you must stay X months or pay back bonus) is null. Basically it could be viewed as, there was no timeline specified on the $15K retention bonus payout, so there was nothing saying that they were going to pay you all $15K up front. Therefore the other contract with the payback stipulation could possibly still be valid and you owe them the $3K back and lots of legal fees.

Just how I see it. And I also don't believe in the retention bonus. You get screwed over sooner or later if you take it. Get off the ship before it goes down.

Bearded Man

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #21 on: June 18, 2015, 02:51:44 PM »
Actually the bonus was to be paid out over a quarter. That was explicitly stated in the email by my manager. And as another posted had wondered, I did actually except the offer. I explicitly responded that I accept the offer of the difference between company X's offer and my salary at the time. This was the sum of 15K. I made sure to close the loop by accepting the offer in writing (all via email). I wished I had gotten a signed contract and not done anything else, signed anything else.

jackiechiles2

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #22 on: June 18, 2015, 03:10:32 PM »
Actually the bonus was to be paid out over a quarter. That was explicitly stated in the email by my manager. And as another posted had wondered, I did actually except the offer. I explicitly responded that I accept the offer of the difference between company X's offer and my salary at the time. This was the sum of 15K. I made sure to close the loop by accepting the offer in writing (all via email). I wished I had gotten a signed contract and not done anything else, signed anything else.

You don't need a signed contract.  You have offer, acceptance, and consideration.  That's a contract. 

I'm telling you this as a friend- DO NOT PAY THEM $3k without at least making the argument I outlined above.  Provide copies of the e-mails.  Threaten to counter sue. 

I'm honestly surprised to see people on a website about saving money suggesting you just throw $3k down the trash can because it might take a little work and stress to not pay it.  People on here go to extreme measures to save pennies a day, yet I'm seeing them tell you to just give up on $3k?  Bad advice.

 Write them back, explain your side of the story, tell them you believe you had a contract with the e-mails and that the second contract is unenforceable due to the lack of additional consideration.  Suggest that everyone walk away and leave it at that. 

If this company has a lawyer, they'll probably call him in and have him look at it. He'll likely agree that you've got a halfway reasonable argument and tell them it's not worth suing you over $3k, paying his fees, then facing a fair chance of being forced to pay you the remaining $10k you're owed.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2015, 03:13:00 PM by jackiechiles2 »

Cpa Cat

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #23 on: June 18, 2015, 03:15:39 PM »
Actually the bonus was to be paid out over a quarter. That was explicitly stated in the email by my manager. And as another posted had wondered, I did actually except the offer. I explicitly responded that I accept the offer of the difference between company X's offer and my salary at the time. This was the sum of 15K. I made sure to close the loop by accepting the offer in writing (all via email). I wished I had gotten a signed contract and not done anything else, signed anything else.

You don't need a signed contract.  You have offer, acceptance, and consideration.  That's a contract. 

I'm telling you this as a friend- DO NOT PAY THEM $3k without at least making the argument I outlined above.  Provide copies of the e-mails.  Threaten to counter sue. 

I'm honestly surprised to see people on a website about saving money suggesting you just throw $3k down the trash can because it might take a little work and stress to not pay it.  People on here go to extreme measures to save pennies a day, yet I'm seeing them tell you to just give up on $3k?  Bad advice.

 Write them back, explain your side of the story, tell them you believe you had a contract with the e-mails and that the second contract is unenforceable due to the lack of additional consideration.  Suggest that everyone walk away and leave it at that. 

If this company has a lawyer, they'll probably call him in and have him look at it. He'll likely agree that you've got a halfway reasonable argument and tell them it's not worth suing you over $3k, paying his fees, then facing a fair chance of being forced to pay you the remaining $10k you're owed.


+1 I am not a lawyer, but I was about to write everything jackiechiles2 just said.

Bearded Man

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #24 on: June 18, 2015, 03:17:12 PM »
Jack, what state are you licensed in? Want to make some quick money to send a letter? I'm in WA.

expectopatronum

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #25 on: June 18, 2015, 03:20:26 PM »
Yuck. So they were supposed to pay it out over a quarter (did it specify WHICH quarter?) and yet 7 months later you....had to sign something else in order to get any of it?

Your OP says:

Quote
This was all via email. It took me 7 months of calling and emailing and generally being ignored, before I got anything. After many documented runarounds and being yelled at by my VP, I was forced to sign, under duress, an agreement that they would pay me 5K but if I left the company I would have to pay the money back in full.

Did that second agreement state how long you'd have to stay at the company in order to keep your retention bonus?

I agree with jackie about presenting it as a wash and what was said below. I would still not go "public" with this. You're just inviting being sued for all sorts of things, let alone the $3K, and they might sue you just because they CAN knowing it'll be a hassle for you (even if they end up losing)...because people can be vengeful.

Bearded Man

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #26 on: June 18, 2015, 03:38:12 PM »
That's what I'm thinking. 3K is a drop in the bucket for me. I don't want to risk getting sued by these people. They have tens if not hundreds of millions to burn. At best I would go to the watchdog agency since I am protected by federal statutes for blowing the whistle. Media could get me sued, watchdog via established legal path, I doubt it.

In any case, I've contacted Jack to see if I can pay him to at least write the letter, even if he is not local to my state. It will at least show that I talked to an attorney based on the verbiage only an attorney can come up with, even without his letterhead.

As long as they really have to respond in writing to decline my offer, then I've barely lost anything and I can still send a check. If they can go to just suing me right from there with no response, then I'm not so sure...

Cwadda

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #27 on: June 18, 2015, 03:45:32 PM »
I would put all of their "we'll give you x amount" emails into a letter stating that this was your understanding of the original agreement.

I would then mention that at a later date, they pressured you into signing a different agreement, including those emails.

Then, I'd mention that at this point, you consider it a wash. You've been very unhappy and stressed there and are willing to 'forgive' their outstanding debt to you in a good faith effort for the both of you to just move on with your lives.

Because the reality is, neither of you wants to work with the other at this point.

A letter written in a CALM, reasonable manner (with zero threats about "I'm going to the media!") should be directed as high up the food chain at the firm as you can go. Aim for the top.

Consider this: anything you say or write can and will be used against you in court, should the situation deteriorate. Be smart. Don't provide them any ammo.

That said...there are times where people feel they've been treated so poorly that they are perfectly willing to tilt the windmill.

But the opinion on whether Don Quixote was an ass or rode one, varies by which side of a situation you're on.

Good luck.

Honestly this seems like the best compromise to me. They don't want to pay you the balance. You don't want to give them the $3k. Call it even and move on.

If you were to escalate this in court, seems like you'd have a tough time getting MORE than the $12k remainder. Out of that, half of it might go to attorney fees. Is the $6k worth the hassle for anyone?

I'm not a lawyer by any means, but compromise seems like the best way to go.

TheOldestYoungMan

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #28 on: June 18, 2015, 04:22:12 PM »
I am not a lawyer.

I did get sued once.  I replied to the suit, copied the judge, explaining my side of the story.  The judge sent the case to a mediator, at which point the other side dropped the complaint.  I didn't talk to a lawyer about it, I just wrote down my side in plain english.  Attached relevant documentation.  Took maybe a half hour.  Saved myself 2k.

They were looking for me to just send a check.  Many people probably do just that.  So I think it is great advice to respond to the letter just clearly stating:

"There are two total contracts at issue here.  The first you are totally in breach of in the amount of 15k (see attached documents 1, 2, 3).  The second you are in breach of as you did not pay the full 5k (see attached documents 1, 2, 3).  In order to be entitled to a return of monies paid, the full sum of 5k would need to be paid.  As you did not pay the full amount, you are not entitled to enforce the early departure penalty.  I am willing to drop this issue now.  If you insist on proceeding, I will ask that you first pay the 2k still owed, with interest, plus the original 15k agreed to, with interest.  At that point, once you've satisfied the consideration aspect of the contracts, we can determine what compensation you are owed based on allegations that I failed to uphold my portion of terms."

Whistleblower laws protect you from retaliation from a current employer for reporting unlawful activity by others to the authorities.  They do not generally provide any protection if you have been a party to such unlawful activity, as far as I know.  For that you would need immunity.

There are lots of laws.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc

If you knew about activity, and didn't report it, until later, after they sued you, I'm guessing some bored district attorney somewhere is going to want to talk to you.

Small little pissing matches between angry children can turn into some very adult conversations very quickly.  You may end up looking back fondly at the $400.00 quotes when you start shopping around for someone to defend you against criminal conspiracy charges.

Send a letter.  Act dumb.  Be nice.  Forgiveness is the only path to peace.

"Assuming you heard nothing wrong, saw nothing wrong, and did nothing wrong, about a hundred and fifty thousand dollars."  -The West Wing

"You are never in any actual trouble until you are standing in front of a judge." - Me.

Bearded Man

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #29 on: June 18, 2015, 05:03:46 PM »
They paid you $5k with the condition that they'd ask for it back if you left. You left, they're only asking for $3k. Am I missing something!? You're still pocketing $2k.

I'm sorry, but it sounds like you gave up any chances of winning this when you signed the agreement. Pay the $3k and move on with your life.

That was less withholding, they are asking for the money back less withholding, plus it's prorated. Actually, technically I am still coming out ahead even if  I pay them back. This company is so disorganized, they paid me a random bonus for 2.5K a few months prior with no stipulations or anything, and no word that it was for this agreement. In fact when I asked them if this was part of the bonus I was to be paid, I got no response. But yeah, after taxes, I'm still about $1,600 bucks ahead. Just hate these assholes, bunch of bullies. No different than what MMM experienced really. Just people trying to bully the smaller guy around.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2015, 05:05:42 PM by Bearded Man »

Catbert

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #30 on: June 18, 2015, 05:07:03 PM »
They paid you $5k with the condition that they'd ask for it back if you left. You left, they're only asking for $3k. Am I missing something!? You're still pocketing $2k.

I'm sorry, but it sounds like you gave up any chances of winning this when you signed the agreement. Pay the $3k and move on with your life.

Yep, that's what I'm thinking.  Whether it is 5K or 15K either would have required that you stay employed for a certain period of time.  You didn't stay so you're not entitled to the full retention bonus.

Bearded Man

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #31 on: June 19, 2015, 11:45:53 AM »
They paid you $5k with the condition that they'd ask for it back if you left. You left, they're only asking for $3k. Am I missing something!? You're still pocketing $2k.

I'm sorry, but it sounds like you gave up any chances of winning this when you signed the agreement. Pay the $3k and move on with your life.

Yep, that's what I'm thinking.  Whether it is 5K or 15K either would have required that you stay employed for a certain period of time.  You didn't stay so you're not entitled to the full retention bonus.

Again, the original agreement made no stipulations about me staying employed with them for any period of time. Only the second agreement, for a period of 12 months.

Bearded Man

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #32 on: June 19, 2015, 12:21:41 PM »
I think one thing that is very telling, is that no attorney I've talked to will take this on contingency fees. Not one, even those who work on contingency fees.

I think one thing that has come out of this is that I will absolutely NOT be going to the media over this as it could cause them to sue me for that.

Jackie has been a tremendous help. As much as it sucks, and I hate laying down, I might just be better off submitting on this one. I still come out 2K ahead for other money they paid me, and I get to call it good and focus on grad school and my new high stress job as well as my rentals.

I had already sent these emails between me and my manager to the HR lady, who was very receptive at first citing how she was unaware about any previous arrangement, but after she reviewed the emails, she came after me. They seem to think they have a case here, and no one will touch this case. If I walk away now, I'm still ahead. If I fight it, I could end up not only losing my lead here, but losing more money.

Cathy

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #33 on: June 19, 2015, 12:27:04 PM »
I think one thing that has come out of this is that I will absolutely NOT be going to the media over this as it could cause them to sue me for that.

Going to the media is fine, so long as it's (a) not libel, (b) not being used as a threat to induce settlement, (c) not otherwise illegal. You do have rights to free speech in the USA.

I think you need to streamline how you present your case in order to convey a more sympathetic story though. Your OP is missing a lot of key facts and doesn't attract as much sympathy as it could if it were better explained. Presenting the facts in a sympathetic light is important from an advocacy perspective both for any media reports and also for any legal action you might be involved in. For example, your OP doesn't clearly explain the terms of the alleged original agreement, doesn't explain whether the manager actually had authority to conduct such an agreement, doesn't explain who exactly agreed to it, doesn't explain whether the new agreement purported to supersede the old one, and so on. You'll also want to drop exaggerated phrases like "felony fraud". And don't suggest that you will ruin the company through your report. You may be right about those things, but it won't garner sympathy. The most effective way to tell the story is to stick to the facts, without editorialising it, and allow the reader to draw their own conclusion (but you will have carefully chosen how the facts are presented so that there's only one real conclusion for them to draw, i.e. that you were wronged by the company).

I suggest that you work on mastering the presentation of your story before your take any further steps, whether in the media or in legal filings.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2015, 12:30:37 PM by Cathy »

expectopatronum

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #34 on: June 19, 2015, 12:52:12 PM »
Again, the original agreement made no stipulations about me staying employed with them for any period of time. Only the second agreement, for a period of 12 months.

I don't think this was explained anywhere, nor was the $15K payout over a quarter in the OP. I agree with what Cathy said about polishing how you present your case. From your initial explanation, the terms of each agreement aren't specified. It sounds like they did something quite dishonest, and yes, you have the right to free speech...but that doesn't necessarily mean you stand to gain anything by it. I could walk around spilling the dirt on my company and CEO after I leave, but that would probably cause me more harm than good as the person in question is better connected in the industry and would probably tell his own tales the way he wants. I also might be a cynic, but after the company I work with, this kind of story doesn't exactly blow me away...particularly because it's muddled by the additional agreement.

Bearded Man

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #35 on: June 19, 2015, 12:58:26 PM »
Agreed, I am heading off to send the check soon. It's already written out. I read my OP earlier today and in an effort to keep it brief, I didn't mention earlier that they already have the emails. I had sent them to her when she first called me about the bonus. She was interested in seeing them, backing down until having read them, but thereafter, she went into attack mode.

The fact that they have the emails and are still not concerned, coupled with the fact that I can't seem to find even a contingency fee attorney to couch this on contingency fees, makes me think it's likely a losing battle due to the fact that I signed that agreement. Lesson learned. Right now I'm still coming out ahead and I can still stick it to them in other ways.

frompa

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #36 on: June 19, 2015, 02:10:19 PM »
SUE THE BASTARDS! (Whew, sorry.... late Friday afternoon and I had to get that off my chest.)  More seriously, in most jurisdictions, I can't imagine an employer would truly pursue you for this.  If you left after they reneged on their agreement, tough.  Unless you are a very high level employee I doubt whatever you signed could be enforced.  But again, a lot depends on where you are.  One jurisdiction over another, the law can differ quite significantly. 

Bearded Man

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #37 on: June 19, 2015, 02:51:15 PM »
Are you an Attorney? I wonder what happend to Jackie, she has mysteriously stopped messaging or posting. Perhaps a clue that this is a lost cause. ;-)

expectopatronum

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #38 on: June 19, 2015, 04:03:17 PM »
And my bad...I hadn't made the "Jackie Chiles" connection. I think that user is, in fact, male. :-)

Goldielocks

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #39 on: June 19, 2015, 07:55:11 PM »
What is the right thing to do?

Stop complaining. They sucked and rescinded an email offer and you accepted their new offer. 

You had the choice to walk away then and sue for $15k but chose not to.    Do you really think this is your money?  Just be glad you aren't repaying $12k out of $15k and be glad in the new job.

You can make far more by letting go of past negativity and harassing old emiployers , valid or not, and focusing on your new work.

What will it take to make them go away?  Quickly?

pbkmaine

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #40 on: June 19, 2015, 08:17:11 PM »
It can kill your career if you become known as someone who likes to sue employers. An acquaintance of mine sued her company for sexual harassment. The company was well known as being a terrible place for women to work. She had the emails to prove her claims. She won in court. But from that day forward, NO ONE would hire her. She ended up having to go into a completely different line of work for far less money. It's not right, and it's not fair, but there you are.

Gumbo1978

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #41 on: June 20, 2015, 04:47:46 PM »
The contract is unreasonable if they gave you $5k on the condition you ever leave.

mamamoney

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #42 on: June 20, 2015, 08:47:34 PM »
I've worked with lawyers twice to make sure I keep the money owed me. Both times they were worth it. Amazing what a little professionally worded language can add to a common sense situation. In both cases, I came out ahead, without burning bridges with the companies. It isn't awesome to ou $400/hr but can be worth it.

BlueHouse

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #43 on: July 13, 2015, 09:17:38 AM »
I've worked with lawyers twice to make sure I keep the money owed me. Both times they were worth it. Amazing what a little professionally worded language can add to a common sense situation. In both cases, I came out ahead, without burning bridges with the companies. It isn't awesome to ou $400/hr but can be worth it.
I had an employer try to back out on paying me an incentive I had won in a sales contest.  After multiple conversations explaining why they couldn't and wouldn't be paying the promised reward, I got advice from a lawyer to ask this question:

"I spoke to an attorney and they asked that you please put in writing the reason why you aren't paying me the reward." 

I had a check in my hands within the week.  So worth it sometimes. 

AZDude

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Re: Should I take legal action against former employer?
« Reply #44 on: July 13, 2015, 09:33:19 AM »
Why did you sign the second letter and then leave? Seems like the worst possible scenario for you. Never sign anything without thinking it through. You are probably screwed, but it would probably be worth it for a lawyer to review everything. If you cannot afford it, try contacting the local law school. Students will often take your case for free in order to build up experience.