Anyone decently versed in Labor Laws?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by mike_v_s, May 11, 2005.

  1. Louisiana, specifically, but any help would be, uh, helpful. Basically, my employer is attempting to penalize me for payments made on a training course (put on by the nationa; office of my organization) that I will not be attending because I quit. Additionally, I expect vacation time will disappear...possibly legal depending on my contract, which I can't find. Advice would be great.

  2. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    That sounds like an excellent suggestion.

    brad cook
  3. I can get a generic copy of the contract (and currently have someone at the office trying to get a copy of mine)...but if I remember correctly it is fairly vague in the penalties for failing to turn in the proper notice. Thanks for the recommendation.

  4. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    When you refer to employment contract, are/were you considered a true, full-time, permanent employee of the company or a contractor?

    I haven't typically seen too many contractors who accrue vacation, though certain arrangements may be agreed upon. However, I haven't seen too many employment relationships with contracts that spell out how much time is appropriate for resigning from the job, either.

    In most states, vacation accrued is considered compensation, and cannot be withheld by an employer upon termination. Also, while I don't know what Louisiana is considered, many states that practice "employment at-will" cannot enforce a minimum or maximum notification period upon resignation.

    You may want to contact the Louisiana state board of labor for better clarification on these issues.
  5. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Yes, the particular veribage to watch out for is the "at will employee" bit. If you're truly a contractor, you might be screwed beyond belief, according to the existing labor laws. But if you're actually an "employee", your employer is subject to federal labor laws that give you a whole bunch of rights you may not even be aware of.

    I second the suggestion to contact your state's labor board, and then immediately follow up with a call to a private attorney. There are many attorneys who specialize in labor law, and with a single phone call you can probably get a sense of where you stand (relative to their educated opinion).

    Good luck, and don't let them intimidate you. :)
  6. Thank you all. Allow me to clarify. I was a full-time employee. My "contract" was more or less a 1 1/2 page document that stated I agree to adhere to the rules of the employee handbook, do what I'm told, and put in a 30 day notice to get my "full benefits" (I still do not have a copy of this contract, mine is lost, but will within 24 hours).

    In the final "discussion" before I left, I was only told that they planned to garnish the invested cost of sending me to a future training at the national headquarters. Vacation was not mentioned, but I assumed it was lost. I discovered later that I may be entitled to it.

    All in all, we are not talking about a lot of money (5 days remaining vacation). I cannot afford to retain an attorney. When I pick up my final check, I would like to have enough legal documentation to solidify my rights and due pay without question....hopefully avoiding the entire attorney route. Thanks, again.

  7. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    To my knowledge, an employer is specifically prohibited from garnishing training time on an employee's paycheck. If they choose to train you, that's their own darn fault, and there's nothing they can do to recover the costs. Check with your attorney. Go to Legal Aid or one of the low-cost services, if money is an issue. If worse comes to worst, laugh in their faces and let them sue you, my guess is they wouldn't do that even if they thought they were right, 'cause it would be cost-prohibitive. On the other hand, if you end up having to sue them, they might have to pay for attorney's fees and the whole nine yards. Call their bluff. But it would still be best to have an attorney on your side, even an up-and-coming type that would be willing to work for next to nothing. There are plenty of such people, even in Louisiana. :D:D:D :)
  8. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    In many states, lawyers will generally refer you to the state's board of labor, prior to taking on such cases themselves. And, as the board of labor is funded by tax dollars, they should not charge you a dime if they believe there's a case to be made in court.

    It can't hurt to call. Ask if there's any cost to you. Questions cost nothing. Lack of questions cost a lot.
  9. Ok, other side of the world here, but I would be surprised if the laws were vastly different.

    The company cannot garnish your wages for training of any kind without your written consent.

    If your notice period is 30-days, and you walk out before that notice has been served, the company is legally able to claim any remaining notice period against your annual leave entitlements.
  10. Hey Slidell...I'm here on the other side of the state!!!
    First get the contract before you get to far and study it closely.
    Second contact the state labor dept., trust me when I say they don't play. I work in civil government and they take employee rights seriously provided you have not hung yourself with the contract. The labor dept. may also provide mediation for you in lieu of an attorney that you might have to pay for.
    If the contract has stipulations about penalties find out exactly what they are. Don't fear going to the your old boss with a tape recorder, put it on the desk, turn it own, and ask questions. He will be completely honest or tell you to leave. If he tells you to leave then it looks better on you in front of the labor dept. because he didn't want to work with you.

    Be cool, it will work out.
  11. I've dealt with something somewhat similar.

    first find the contract though

    If I am not mistaken, They can charge you for the course if

    a) you agreed to it before quitting

    b) they cannot find a replacement for you before the course takes place.

    I dealt with this before quitting jobs ago where I commited myself to a college course (paid for by the comapny on a pass + 6 months of time with the company or fail)

    Lickily they had me replaced quickly by transfering it to another course for someone else
  12. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    DON'T do that!!! It will ONLY appear as confrontational. No employer in his/her rightful mind will EVER allow their conversations to be tape recorded knowing full well it's as good as the final nail in the coffin. If his statement is that necessary in a court proceeding, the attorneys on either side will either put him on the stand or take a deposition (or both).

    If this training was specifically and necessary for your employment, it wouldn't necessarily be treated as the same as "higher education costs paid by your employer", in which you may be required to pay back if you leave within a certain amount of time.

    One more question I have, though, is this contract...are you in a union? Is this contract part of a collective bargaining agreement?
  13. Non union. The "30 day" policy is included because an overnight changeover in my line of work is a nightmare. We are asked to give a 20-30 page close-out report when we quit. The 30 days is really in place just so you can do this report. You are normally allowed to leave whenever this report is complete and still get paid for the 30.

    I spoke with a coworker last night who read the contract to me (still working on geting my copy). It is VERY vague as to what the penalties are, just that it is expected that the employee will give 30 days notice and the company will do the same in the event of termination (i.e. they will pay you for a month after you get canned in most cases). The contract refers to the employee handbook several times. I'm getting that copy soon, as well.

    As far as I can tell, they might be able to keep my remaining vacation (depending on the wording in the handbook). The training course in on them. I wouldn't care so much if they hadn't made it clear they were doing his out of spite.

    My final solution is ask HR for all of this documentation (contract, etc) when I pick up my last check on Friday. I'd like to have this solved by then, but it may not be possible.

  14. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    When you get into areas regarding contracts versus state laws, it's not always clear cut as to which trumps which. If a contract violates state laws, the contract may be "un-enforceable" or "voidable". It's best to consult with the state's board of labor to get clear direction. They shouldn't charge you.
  15. Presently as a cop for almost ten years who has worked in certain work disptues you are most probably right that he want permit a recorded conversation as I mentioned. The employer has a right to not have the conversation recorded and the employee has a right to ask that it be recorded. In Louisiana one party can record a conversation without the other party / parties being aware of the recording. BUt it is apparent that things are on the downward spiral fast hence they are "withholding" things from him and this is business not personal pleasure. Remember..All is fair in love, war, and business in this century!! The little man will be squatted on if he allows the big man to do it.

    I'm just saying be cautious, be reasonable, and know what your contract says before you begin blasting away.

    I also forgot to mention to look up what is called " THE FAIR STANDARDS AND LABORS ACT" where alot of employer and employee rights are found.

    Be cool, it will still work out.
  17. bigbeefdog

    bigbeefdog Who let the dogs in?

    Jul 7, 2003
    Mandeville, LA
  18. Southpaw...I understand what you are saying. But it is the 4th Amend. that states "unreasonable search & seizures" which is applicable in this case.
    In LA, as backwards as this place may be sometimes, there are exceptions to that because the Louisiana Constitution is MORE stringent than the US Constitution when upholding citizens rights to a higher plane than other states. Trust me when I say, it can be done here in LA. There are only a few other states that permit it as well, maybe 5 or 6 total.

    The real situation posed here is Slidells problem and my recommendation(s) are just that, recommendation(s).

    Just remember to understand all of your rights thoroughly, and your contract thoroughly before any confrontation. YOU have rights and they may apply to your situation based on the circumstances which will help you out.
    1) get your contract and KNOW IT.
    2) if it is obvious they are right, then accept it.
    3) if you feel they are wrong, investigate it, again I the state labor dept.

    My 2cents.
  19. I picked up my final check yesterday. I was docked 2 days vacation and $100 for the training (the plane ticket transfer, specifically). The 2 days vacation was legal, as my contract stipulates that I accrue 1 day per month of the year. To date, i've taken 7's month 5. I have taken 2 more days than accrued vacation and I owed it back. This agreement is legal as far as everything I've read.

    This leaves the $100 wage garnishment. I'm quite irritated about it because I know it was taken out of spite. My wife has asked me to leave it alone. I quit for the sole purpose of being a better husband/father and my constant rambling about the subject has made it seem like I never left. So I'm done with it. I'd like to thank you all for the advice on this matter. Don't ever work for a non-profit organization. Volunteer for one, you'll get more out of it.

  20. bigbeefdog

    bigbeefdog Who let the dogs in?

    Jul 7, 2003
    Mandeville, LA
    Leave it alone, as your wife said.... get away, detox yourself from working with these kids of folks, get another (better) job, and get yourself back on cruise control. Be secure in the knowledge that this was going to happen sooner or later, as theyve shown their lack of class by docking you "out of spite".

    Who knows.... maybe, in six months' time, you'll be in the mood to write that letter to the Wage and Labor board about an illegal garnishment.....