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FL - can this be considered a threat? what to do?

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  • FL - can this be considered a threat? what to do?

    Hello,
    newbie here. This situation is in Florida. Some background on this...
    this guy, owner of a business posted on craigslist and recruited some girls to work on a biking event, he told them they would be a potential for making a lot of money washing vehicles, they would be paid with tips, the tips were supposedly put in a place and later distributed. All the girls kept count on the vehicles they were washing.

    One of the girls sent an email to the owner asking for the money/wages owed. The owner response is below(names have been omitted). My questions is, seems to me that the owner threatens(underline part) the girl with getting her fired from her current job. I know it's hard to prove if that ever happens, but is this legal? Can this document be used as a reference? any suggestions or ideas?
    Seems to me this guy is afraid that the word will spread and he wont be able lure more girls with the promise of making hundreds of dollars working for tips while he pockets the total gain.

    This is the original email from the girl
    "Just to let you know that I havenít recived any money. After many phone calls and emails. I worked the XXXX some months ago. Not just a few hours. I was there for more than 8 hours. And received nothing. When i could have been working my regular job. Everything was very unprofessional and i was very disappointed in the outcome. And i will be letting everyone know about this so-called business they have going on."


    this was the answer from the owner
    I am shocked how 4 months later some of you want to say that you are still owed money. Some ladies went home early because they were sick.

    Everyone was paid what they worked. It was not an hourly pay. The pay was tips. According to our records you worked only XXXXXX at XXXXXX. Everyone signed paperwork and fully understood what was going on.

    And if you want to start to spread rumors go right ahead. We know the CEO of XXXX and XXXX. It would be unfortunate if you were to loose your job. Remember, Florida is an at right to work state and an employer can terminate your employment at any time without having to give a reason.

  • #2
    This sounds like a scam. If the workers were told when to work, how to do the work, had to do it personally, etc., they should have been employees, which means they could not legally be paid tips only.

    If I were them, I would file a wage claim with the federal DOL. Theoretically, workers who file complaints of alleged violations with the DOL are protected. Having said that, who wants to work any more for this jerk?
    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Pattymd View Post
      This sounds like a scam. If the workers were told when to work, how to do the work, had to do it personally, etc., they should have been employees, which means they could not legally be paid tips only.

      If I were them, I would file a wage claim with the federal DOL. Theoretically, workers who file complaints of alleged violations with the DOL are protected. Having said that, who wants to work any more for this jerk?
      I completely agree that this is a scam, but I believe that is hard to prove because this guy might say that he never offered them payment, he just lured the girls by saying they had the potential of making a lot of money. He has a new posting that says COMPENSATION:TIPS.
      I believe that he is threatening this poor girl because he is afraid that the girl will spread the word with other girls(I think this is a small-midsize town)the word that the "potential hundreds of dollars" is just that, words. I believe that he has been doing this for a long time and he is afraid he will have to finally pay wages to these girls.

      now what he wrote, can this be considered as a threat?
      "And if you want to start to spread rumors go right ahead. We know the CEO of XXXX and XXXX. It would be unfortunate if you were to loose your job. Remember, Florida is an at right to work state and an employer can terminate your employment at any time without having to give a reason."

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      • #4
        Go ahead and file the wage claim with federal DOL. There is no downside to doing this. Past that, this is a very foolish statement for the employer to make, especially by email. Regarding loaded words such as "scams", keep the rhetoric dialed down. I am not saying that this is not a scam, I am saying that federal DOL does not care.

        Focus on things that federal DOL actually cares about, such as non payment of tips and minimum wage violations. Documents are good. Anything more substantive then someone telling a story is good.

        But assume that the ALJ is going to get very bored, very quickly with a bunch of folks calling each other names in the ALJ's hearing. All comments should be direct at the ALJ and only the ALJ. Stay focused and listen to everything the ALJ says. People who brass off the ALJ tend to lose. Assume that the ALJ wants to waste the least amount of time possible on this hearing, and that anyone party who drags things out will brass off the ALJ.
        "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
        Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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        • #5
          Thank you for your advice. Regarding the threat that the employer knows her current employer and if she spreads rumors she might inexplicably loose her current job, how can she protect herself from retaliation?

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          • #6
            Let's keep in mind your friend threatened to spread rumors first: "And i will be letting everyone know about this so-called business they have going on." Not to excuse anything the owner did, he simply replied in kind.

            It is highly unlikely this jerk can get your friend fired from her regular job. So what if he knows the CEO (although that could well be an out-and-out lie)? The CEO of her regular job has no dog in this fight and IF he even knows of the other owner, he probably knows he's a cheat and a jerk. I truly doubt she needs to worry about her regular job.

            BTW, if your friend averaged at least minimum wage for the hours she worked from the tips she made, the DOL isn't going to help her. She'd need to file suit in small claims court. Up to your friend if she wants to pursue this. She just may have to chalk this up to a painful learning experience and be mindful of the adage, "If it seems to good to be true, it's probably not." Nobody makes big money washing cars.

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            • #7
              You are completely right. I think the girl should have the ability to tell others about her experience so others don't fall into the same situation, she just says she will let other know about her experience, I really don't think it's a threat on the other hand the owner but implying he will get her fired from her current job if she tells others about her experience proves that the guy is not being truthful.
              I agree that it's a lesson learned but I believe she will feel threatened to file the claim because if fear of retaliation, although it might be unlikely that her current employer fires her, you never know, small town....
              Does she have anything that can protect her in the unlikely event that this happens?

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              • #8
                No. If her current employer is foolish enough to fire her over this, that's a shame but does not violate any laws. Google at-will employment.

                I don't know where so many people get the idea that it is illegal to "threaten someone's job". With extremely rare exceptions which do not apply here, it is not.
                The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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                • #9
                  You could always flag the C~List postings, and get them removed. They have complaint forms there also.

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