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  • British National Employed by MA based LLC

    Hi All,

    Some general background information:

    For the past 23 months I've been employed by a MA based LLC, initially working overseas in Israel for a well known semiconductor corporation.

    At the start of March my employer asked me to pop over to the US to check out the requirements for a new project that they will be staffing.

    On this particular trip I have used my B1 visa to enter the country and my employer was (supposedly) making an application to provide a work visa to continue working for this latest client.

    After a couple of weeks looking at the new clients requirements and deciding that this type of employment was not for me I decided to make my feelings known that this type of assignment was exactly the type of assignment I've always avoided. I advised via the department head that I would be leaving and to source a replacement soonest.

    Eventually there was some discussion with my Employer regarding this matter and he required me to stay with the client until the end of May. I advised that I would not be staying that long and that one months notice was certainly perfectly reasonable and acceptable.

    My Employer then attempted to change my mind and when I refused he essentially "lost the plot" and made all sorts of veiled threats that I wouyld nto get away with it etc. I simpy advised that I was on an "at will" contract and one days notice would be the bare minimum.

    Now his main grievance - aside from the timing is that he has suggested that he has incurred around $5000 in legal costs to procure the visa. This Visa was being provided by the employer and not part of any agreement that I made other than it being a carrot given to me when I took on the original assignment back in May 2004.

    Not knowing what the un-named threats were going to be - I assumed that he would withhold the payment of my salary & expenses (paid every two weeks). Lo and behold last Friday when the bank payment should have been made there were no fund transfers to my account.

    Now I'm hoping to get all of this sorted out via email but would like to know what the best course of action is in this particular instance?

    Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    In general, employers may not make deductions in MA for this type of employee expense without a clear agreement with the employee that such a deduction or set-off would be made. Such agreements usually treat the sums as advances, state the exact amount of the payment and provide the terms under which such amounts must be repaid.

    These agreements are especially important (under both State and Federal law) where the set off would impact minimum wage, as it seems to in your case, by reducing the amount you receive to below minimum wage - in your case, to nothing.

    You might consider making a claim with the Attorney General. Here's the form from the Attorney General's office, which serves as the Dept. of Labor for Massachusetts, to file a claim for the improper deduction.
    http://www.ago.state.ma.us/sp.cfm?pageid=1129

    Phil
    This post is by Philip Gordon, a Massachusetts employment attorney (www.gordonllp.com).

    This post is NOT legal advice. It is for general/educational information purposes only. You should not rely on this post if you are making decisions, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. This post may be considered "advertising" under the MA professional rules for attorneys.

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi Phil,
      Thanks for your reply and I apologise for my delay in responding.

      I've had a reasonable amount of email correspondence with my employer regarding this matter and he has stated that he will deduct his costs for attorney fees to procure my US Visa (something that was offered as an incentive to join his consultancy and not tied to any financial committment on my part) and is now bringing up a separate matter regarding expenses for a foreign assignment for which he claims he has not been reimbused by the client and he intends to deduct this from my outstanding salary & expenses.

      From my point of view he is simply using these reasons as a stalling tactic and knows fine well that he is in the wrong and that the only reason he is taking this stance is out of spite for not conforming to his demands that I stay with the client until the end of May.

      As I'm employed as a, "professional", my salary is obviously well above the minimum wage criteria.

      Does this mean or suggest that the claim will only reimburse me for salary based on minimum wage and not the actual rates of pay and expenses?

      Thanks in advance.
      Last edited by gtd2000; 05-03-2006, 02:10 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Is it fair to say that during the period he is witholding your checks, you are receiving $0 for your work?

        If that's so, then you probably have a wage violation under FLSA (Federal law) as well as state law that impacts minimum wage (because you're actually getting nothing).

        You also likely have a claim under state law using the same theory, but state law also requires that you collect your full wages without detoff or duduction.But, unless the deductions are proper, then you may also have a state law claim relating to your full wages. This would likely be a bigger claim than you'd have under Federal law.

        Otherwise, reimbursement requests are generally contract claims. In which case, your claim looks a bit different (jurisditionally, statute of limitations, etc.)
        This post is by Philip Gordon, a Massachusetts employment attorney (www.gordonllp.com).

        This post is NOT legal advice. It is for general/educational information purposes only. You should not rely on this post if you are making decisions, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. This post may be considered "advertising" under the MA professional rules for attorneys.

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi Phil,
          My normal salary & expense payments were being deposited to my account per the usual arrangement (every two weeks), however, when I confirmed that I would be leaving on April 21st (which was coincidentally, the bank payment date for salary and expenses for the previous pay period) I was hoping that the account would be credited as normal but alas he obviously blocked the payment.

          My last offical day working for his company was April 21st and I'm now oustanding salary and expenses for the last three weeks of employment.

          That's broken down into two weeks salary & expenses that should have been deposited on April 21st and a further single week of salary & expenses that should have been deposited on May 5th.

          Neither payment has been received to date, i.e. I've not been paid anything for my last 3 weeks work.
          Last edited by gtd2000; 05-07-2006, 01:29 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Sounds like you should consider filing a complaint for non-payment of wages with the Attorney General.

            The form can be found at: http://www.ago.state.ma.us/filelibrary/nonpay2.pdf

            More information about the attorney general, along with their phone numbers, can be found at:

            http://www.ago.state.ma.us/sp.cfm?pageid=969

            Just remember that there are time limits for filing these complaints and they can take a long time to resolve, so, if you think you have a complaint, you should file soon.

            Phil
            This post is by Philip Gordon, a Massachusetts employment attorney (www.gordonllp.com).

            This post is NOT legal advice. It is for general/educational information purposes only. You should not rely on this post if you are making decisions, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. This post may be considered "advertising" under the MA professional rules for attorneys.

            Comment

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