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  • help in houston Texas

    I am a dentist currently practicing for a very large national chain. The employment terms that I signed with them say:

    "Either party may voluntarily terminate this agreement at any time by providing at least 60 days prior written notice to the other party. If the Dentist terminates employment and fails to comply with the 60 day notice, Dentist shall pay to Group the sum of $500 for each regularly scheduled work day missed during such 60 day period."

    I gave them my written 60 day notice about a month ago, but since then they have hired a new dentist to replace me, and are not putting any patients on my schedule. Most dentists are paid a % commission for the work that they do, so with no patients I am not being paid anything. Seeing as how the patients are being cared for, and I am being paid nothing to show up to work, I would like to just stop going, but they insist on me fulfilling the 60 day obligation.

    Is there any way out of this??

    Thank you so much for your help.

  • #2
    You'd be best off getting the advice of a Texas employment/contract law attorney. Although we have a couple of Texas HR professionals here, I don't think we have any Texas attorneys.

    Were you an employee or an independent contractor in this practice?
    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

    Comment


    • #3
      There's an issue here on breach of contract. I'd say that you've complied but they've breached it, by not providing any work. You need to consult with an attorney though, because the contract controls everything. There's also a possibility that if you were hired as an independent contractor, and they controlled your work too much, that you could file a determination of worker status and have it found that you were an employee. Meaning if you show up everyday, they have to pay you. But again, you need to talk to an attorney. Be sure to do it on their time, on their phone...... LOL, probably not, but it would be nice.
      I am not an attorney, and don't play one on TV. Any information given is a description only and should be verified by your attorney.

      Comment


      • #4
        While I do not disagree with seeing an attorney, can you (the OP) answer Patty's question? IF you are an employee, THEN you are subject to labor law. It is not legally possible for a contract to make labor law go away. If you are an employee, then the contract is in addition to, not instead of labor law.

        Independant contractors however are a whole different thing. There is no labor law for independant contractors, just contract law.
        "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
        Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

        Comment


        • #5
          When is your schedule given to you? Daily, weekly, monthly? If there is nothing on your schedule...why do you go into the workplace? Although perhaps not the correct answer...I wouldn't show up if there was nothing for me to do that day.
          Not everything in America is actionable in a court of law. Please remember that attorneys are in business for profit, and they get paid regardless of whether or not you win or lose.

          I offer my knowledge and experience at no charge, I admit that I am NOT infallible, I am wrong sometimes, hopefully another responder will correct me if that is the case with the answer above, regardless, it is your responsibility to verify any and all information provided.

          Comment


          • #6
            I am considered and paid as an employee at this company.

            In answer to CatBert's question, I am usually given my tomorrow's schedule at the end of the workday. I have talked to them about not coming to work when there are no patients on my schedule, but they told me that per my contract with them if I do not show up I will be fined $500/day.

            From their side -- usually there are two dentists per office, they prefer to pair recent grads with more experienced dentists. I have been working this office solo since they have been unable to hire a second dentist for over half a year. After I put in my resignation, they hired someone relatively quickly, but he is a recent grad. They want me to stay in the office, just in case there are any complications that he is unable to handle. But from my point of view, I feel it is unfair to force me to stay when I am being paid nothing.

            At this point, I am just feeling frustrated, and wondering if I walk away is that $500/day fine actually enforceable.

            Comment


            • #7
              They have to pay you at least minimum wage. But since they're not giving you work, they'd have a difficult time convincing a judge that they suffered any damages. I'm not an attorney, and can't give you legal advice, but I'm a hothead, and if it were me, I'd tell them to take a flying leap and I'd walk. Not only that, but by not giving you work, they've breached the contract. AND, when the contract is one sided, like providing damages if you breach, but none for them, the courts will often apply the same damages to the party that wrote the contract. So if they sue you, you can counter sue them for $500 per day for each day they required you to appear at work and they didn't let you earn any money.

              Again, I'm not an attorney, and you should see one. It's been 22 years since I took contract law, so my memory could be off, especially since I can't even remember what I ate for breakfast.
              I am not an attorney, and don't play one on TV. Any information given is a description only and should be verified by your attorney.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Alice Dodd View Post
                since I can't even remember what I ate for breakfast.
                I had cottage cheese, fruit and a piece of cinnamon toast.
                I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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                • #9
                  It is not possible to not pay at least minimum wage under labor law. If you were being paid a lot of money, then in theory the $500/day fine could reduce the amount of money being paid as long as minimum wage was still being paid, if everything was correctly structured. But paying you nothing but trying to fine you will not legally work under labor law. I am in agreement that you should see an attorney, but the document sounds like a scarecrow, rather then something legally enforceable.
                  "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                  Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Pattymd View Post
                    I had cottage cheese, fruit and a piece of cinnamon toast.
                    I love cinnamon toast.
                    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                    Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Cinnamon RAISON toast!
                      I am not an attorney, and don't play one on TV. Any information given is a description only and should be verified by your attorney.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Can't find low-cal cinnamon raisin bread, so I just put cinnamon sugar on reduced calorie bread.

                        But, we digress.
                        I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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                        • #13
                          Thanks so much everyone for all of your input.

                          I guess I'll try to stick it out and keep going to work. There's only a little over a month left on my 60 days anyway. Once lawyers get involved, I'm pretty sure we will be dealing with this for much longer than a month, and I'm really just ready to move on.

                          I'll probably still think about walking out every day tho

                          Or maybe I will just hang out in the kitchen and make cinnamon toast to stay busy!!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Hmmm, well, if that's what you feel comfortable with, but you can probably find a free consult with an attorney that will tell you that you can walk. I just can't tell you that because I'm NOT an attorney, and haven't checked the law on it. But you'll only be able to get minimum wage out of them. Although I DO know how you can get an extra 30 days pay of them, once you're free. And I think that would be based on your prior average pay, not the minimum wage.

                            But if you stay, be sure to use the time to send out your resume, don't bother dressing up, play your music if you want, play games on the computer, call all your friends etc. AND, since they're not paying you ANYTHING, I'd file for unemployment right now.
                            I am not an attorney, and don't play one on TV. Any information given is a description only and should be verified by your attorney.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Track your hours....somewhere offsite. So that way once you are finished with the 60 days, you can at least file a wage claim with the TWC for hours worked. Because if they require you to be there, they have to pay you for that time. May only get minimum wage, but it's better than nothing. It is possible that you might get more if you can prove actual wages in the prior months.

                              And I would take the contract to an attorney to see what kind of business they were required to give you during that 60 days (if any).

                              Comment

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