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Partner used my name as bargaining chip in salary neg., legal? CA

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  • Partner used my name as bargaining chip in salary neg., legal? CA

    The partner in charge of the department/practice area I work in made a list of names which included mine and my co-workers who act in support positions in the firm. This list of name was made without our knowledge or authorization. This list of names was then used in his salary/contract negotiations with the firm I am employed by. The negotiations led to the partner picking up the entire department/practice area and leaving for another firm. Is this legal???

    Is there any recourse or way to keep this partner from doing this again if my co-workers and I go to the next firm?

  • #2
    There is no law that prohibits what you've described.
    I am not able to respond to private messages. Thanks!

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    • #3
      There is a possibility, but not a good possibility. That is the libel/slander laws. Example. Bill is a small time software vendor. Ted is a very famous founder of a very large company. Bill (falsely) claims that Ted is a partner in Bill's company. Ted can sue for damages, but in addition to proving that Bill deliberately lied, Ted must also document actual verifiable damages.

      Read the article I cited. Libel/slander laws are general law, not specific to labor law, but also not exclusive of labor law. You could in theory try to use this as a cause of action. HOWEVER, you need to not only prove that the other party lied about you, but that they ALSO did so deliberately AND you were damaged by this lie. I am not saying that it is entirely impossible for you to win, but I will say that libel/slander claims are difficult in the first place, and a claim in a labor law context does not become any easier. United States libel/slander laws place some deliberately high standards that must be meet.

      If you have ever seen the Paul Newman film called Absence of Malice, that actually did a pretty good job of explaining the issue. In that film a newspaper mostly destroyed one person's life and completely destroyed a second person's life (suicide) by publishing an entirely false story. However the newspaper was "absence of malice" (did not know for certain that the story someone gave them was false) and were hence legally "innocent". There have also been a few court cases where the claimant won but the jury award something like $1, because they really did not like the claimant, and that was all they thought the claimant's reputation was worth.

      Libel/slander are very much "talk to an actual lawyer" types of issues. These are very detail specific and very specific to the actual laws of the state involved. And not really labor law in any meaningful sense of the word.
      "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
      Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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      • #4
        Originally posted by r4winds View Post
        The partner in charge of the department/practice area I work in made a list of names which included mine and my co-workers who act in support positions in the firm. This list of name was made without our knowledge or authorization. This list of names was then used in his salary/contract negotiations with the firm I am employed by. The negotiations led to the partner picking up the entire department/practice area and leaving for another firm. Is this legal???

        Is there any recourse or way to keep this partner from doing this again if my co-workers and I go to the next firm?
        I'm not exactly sure what you are saying happened that you are unhappy with. If a partner, or senior manager, negotiates with a company, or with two companies, saying that, these are people who I feel will stay or go with me, he is selling his ability to deploy and retain people to the benefit of the firm. This is an important management skill that is independent of the actual list of personnel in any given case. If you don't like it, don't follow him. But, I have difficulty understanding why you wouldn't want to work for someone who considers you important enough to put on his list.
        Please post questions on the forum rather than sending me a private message or email. That way others who have similar issues have access to the discussion.

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        • #5
          Thanks, Scott67. I couldn't figure out what the OP was upset about either.
          I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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          • #6
            Maybe the OP thinks he/she is entitled to a percentage of the partner's new pay.

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            • #7
              Replying to the repliers

              DAW, thank you for the article on slander/libel. Unfortunately, it is just as you said, a difficult issue to prove.

              As for the other posters, I will have no job at the firm I currently work at after tomorrow and I have no guarantee of having a job at new firm. All because the partner used my name without my knowledge or permission on his little list...do you understand now what I'm upset about???

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              • #8
                Originally posted by r4winds View Post
                DAW, thank you for the article on slander/libel. Unfortunately, it is just as you said, a difficult issue to prove.

                As for the other posters, I will have no job at the firm I currently work at after tomorrow and I have no guarantee of having a job at new firm. All because the partner used my name without my knowledge or permission on his little list...do you understand now what I'm upset about???
                Actually, no, I'm not understanding what the issue is. How did his putting your name on a list result in you losing your job? It was apparently not the kind of list that I assumed before writing my first post. What was the nature of the list? Since you responded to DAW in a positive sense on the slander issue, are you saying that this was a list of undesirables?
                Please post questions on the forum rather than sending me a private message or email. That way others who have similar issues have access to the discussion.

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                • #9
                  I think with the OP is saying is that the partner in question is leaving the firm for another one and taking his practice area with him. As a result of taking the practice area with him, the OP will no longer have a job at the firm and there is no guarantee that there will be a job for the OP at the partner's new firm.

                  I can certainly see why it would be upsetting, especially in this economy. Unfortunately I don't see anything that would indicate that the partner slandered the OP to cause him/her to lose his/her job and didn't see it when the topic of slander came up upstream.

                  OP, unless you had an employment contract stating otherwise, you are an at-will employee who could be terminated at any time for any reason not specified by law. I don't see that any laws have been broken in your case. In a partnership situation (is this a law or accounting firm), when a partner leaves, it's not unusual for that person to take their book of business with them, and that sounds like what happened here. It's unfortunate that the OP is caught in the middle.
                  I am not able to respond to private messages. Thanks!

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                  • #10
                    All because the partner used my name without my knowledge or permission on his little list...do you understand now what I'm upset about???

                    Of course - you may well be out of a job. The partner engaged in some high-stake negotiating and had a back-up plan if it didn't work, without any regard for anyone else in the firm, including his other partners. Walking out with an entire practice area has done a tremendous amount of damage to the firm as a whole. It stinks but it's all perfectly legal, including using your name and salary level as part of his hard-ball negotiations.

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                    • #11
                      Marketeer and Beth. You are probably reading this right. I still don't quite follow the OPs reasoning.

                      If a partner takes his business with him, jobs may well be lost for the employees that he doesn't take with him. It's the OPs statements that the partner putting the OPs name on some kind of list that caused the job loss. I'm thinking the OP may just not understand how this type of thing happens - but at a loss to why he thinks his name being on a list of some kind is what caused it to happen.

                      Employees typically don't understand that a partner is feeding the till and keeping them employed. When the revenue that a partner generates goes away, the firm has to make choices on who they might care to retain to support other clients and who is expendable.

                      And another note to r4winds: There are many "lists" of employees in a company developed or maintained for many different reasons. None need the employee's permission to be placed on the list or even the requirement to notify the employee that he has been placed on it. To require an employee's permission to write his name on any kind of a list would be ludicrous. -- I expect you have no problem with having your name included on the annual bonus list.
                      Last edited by Scott67; 08-31-2010, 07:45 PM.
                      Please post questions on the forum rather than sending me a private message or email. That way others who have similar issues have access to the discussion.

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