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SOMEBODY GIVE ME ADVICE Illinois

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  • SOMEBODY GIVE ME ADVICE Illinois

    I need to cry on someone's shoulder...might as well be y'all!
    I tried to edit out names, I may have missed some. Hell, someone on her may figure out who I am or who I worked for. Frankly, I don't care...it just feels good to spill my guts!

    I will be desperately seeking a job very shortly. Forgive me for writing a book...I'll call it self-therapy. I will probably bounce around with my emotions. See, I have nothing but time now it seems.

    I am 32, single mom of 2. I consider myself a graphic artist. I have 2 Associate's Degrees (Graphic Art & General Education) & was one class away from a third (Graphic Design) when I landed my first "career job" 10 years ago. Three years later, when I found out that company decided to "sell out", I was literally in the hospital recovering from having had my first child. I quickly got on the hospital's phone & called the 2 clients with whom I had worked closely with. I "snagged" the jobs & ran. Good timing on my part, I suppose because my boss was in the process of having all the employees sign "no-compete" forms for the folks he was "selling" us to.

    ANYWAY....I thought I had it made...work from home, take care of my child, etc....and I did have it made...for awhile anyway. I still have one of the clients to this day: A wonderful not-for-profit company. I am proud to be a part of it. I create their newspaper every month. They don't 1099 me, but I still report the income on my taxes & get self-employment "perks".

    What has made my life a LIVING HELL is the other client. I was a W-2 employee of theirs for the past 7 years until recently when they FIRED me two weeks before Christmas.

    Because of this company, I've had the pleasure of waiting in the Public Aid & Unemployment lines for the first time in my life & don't know how my mortgage, car, utilities, etc. are going to get paid. Please allow me to vent...I've called many attorneys, but none seem willing to sit down with me & hear what this company has put me thru.

    See, I created their 128 page magazine for them, cover-to-cover - almost every ad & the entire layout, etc. by MYSELF every single month for the past seven years. I worked anywhere from 120-140 hours (sometimes more) in only 1-2 weeks. Never got a dime of overtime pay and FINALLY got a raise only a couple months ago. No health benefits or 401K.

    The magazine has grown so much & has distribution all over Illinois & Missouri and we even have clients in Alaska, Canada, Arkansas & more. I am so incredibly proud of it because it was something I made and could "show off". Even after being fired, I'm still proud of it & it KILLS me is knowing they may hire someone to take my place & that artist can then say THEY created the magazine. Yeah, they may make a few changes to an ad here & there, but that baby is MINE!

    I had problems with them from the very beginning, but being naive & young with a new baby, felt I was just "stuck" with them until my baby was 5 & started school & I could go back out into the workforce.

    It began when my boss asked me to put a new color laser printer on my credit card. She said I would be reimbursed. I wasn't, but just sucked it up & wrote it off at tax time. Still didn't get me back the $1000 I spent though.

    I had been using my own personal computer for them & my other client & still use that same old computer for my other client. ANYWAY when my hard drive filled up fast with stuff for the magazine, I told my boss she needed to purchase me either a new computer, or an external hard drive to store all her stuff. She went online & got approved for a loan & sent me an email (I still have it - from 2002) with the loan number saying, "Get what we need". And so I did. I ordered a new Apple Power Mac G4. The loan didn't cover the full amount needed for the monitor, so I purchased that myself. The computer came & all was great for a month or two. THEN my paychecks (bi-weekly) began getting docked $100 each for the computer. My boss's husband called me up screaming that he was not going to buy ME a computer. I tried explaining to him that he was my boss & needed to provide equipment for me to do his job. He argued that I also had my other client, in which I told him I had my own personal computer for that job. Anyway, I told them if they were going to make me pay for the computer that they should just come & get it, because I couldn't afford to pay $200 every month. My boss then got on the phone & asked me if I was quitting. I told her no. Unemployment is incredibly hard to get if you quit & I had a baby, new mortgage, car, etc. to think about. SO I sucked it up again and they continued to dock my paychecks until they took what they thought was fair. It was NEVER fair to me & still isn't.

    That poor computer was such a work horse...powered on for days & days with no rest that it actually died a couple months ago. My boss did pay to have the hard drive recovered. It had to be sent to California. But she wanted me to turn it into my homeowners insurance so she could recoup some of the money. I told her the claim was denied. She blamed me for not having her files backed up. I told her COUNTLESS times I needed an external hard drive to back it up on...she told me I was responsible for providing that kind of equipment too.

    Just before that computer died she decided it would be "kind' of her to get a credit card in her name & a "user" card in my name to let me finance a laptop so I could be comfortable those long hours I had to work. I had been complaining A LOT about the long hours, headaches & pains of sitting AND had just had another baby. I had also gone thru a nasty divorce, bought a new house....began a new life. I agreed to make the laptop payments (which were small to begin with) I never received statements & the only way to pay the account was online. I made payments monthly & then decided to set up autopay thru the CitiCard website. I set up MANY payments so I wouldn't have to go in each month. ANYWAY to make a long story short, 3 or 4 months went by & no payment was taken out. I didn't notice it on my bank statements...".outta sight, outta mind" I guess. I tried calling them about the situation, but they would only speak to her. She was either in Alaska, Honduras or Florida on vacation at the time, but regardless, she had told me never to tell her husband. CitiCard began calling my house asking for my boss & I would tell them she was my boss, but I make the payments. They wouldn't take a payment from me over the phone & said they would call her house. Well, they never did. In the meantime, I had set up another payment plan they offered me online for $31 for 10 months in Sept. 08 in which they only took out the 1st one. I got online in Oct. & found out they hadn't taken that month's payment like they were supposed to. They then offered me $107 payments for 3 months to catch up the account. I said OK...but then they only took out the 1st of those 3 payments. When I logged on in Nov., and found this out, I was PISSED. See, my boss took many mini-vacations & a few longer ones with her husband. When I needed help with the account, CitiCard wouldn't talk to me & she was out of town. I wrote all this I just told you in an email & sent it to her in hopes her husband wouldn't see it. I never neglected the account intentionally & probably paid $500 or so of the $1800 with the last 2 consecutive payments being made monthly just before they fired me.

    Want to know exactly why I was fired?? They decided to go refinance their house & couldn't get the best rate because of this credit card. I "ruined their credit" they said. This came crashing down on me 2 weeks before Christmas. Just days before I was fired, she paid off the laptop in full & told me she now owned the laptop...so I guess the payments I made thus far were for renting it, huh? She had also sent me a text message saying she was going to say I STOLE the credit card, so now my professional reputation is on the line.

    My last paycheck was for only half of one normal paycheck with $100 taken out for a credit card payment...she issued this check AFTER I was fired and AFTER she had possession of the laptop.

    When I was fired last week, I was treated like a criminal. I was out Christmas shopping when I got the call from her over the phone at 9am. Got another call from her at 10am saying her husband was on his was to my house to pick up her equipment. I told her I wasn't home, but would call her when I returned. At 11am, I got a call from the police. He was there to file charges against me for not giving them back their equipment. Thank goodness the police called me prior to him actually filling out the paperwork because when I explained to the officer that I wasn't home and was only fired a couple hours prior, they were able to convince him to not file charges. BUT the police called me a few more times before I was able to drop off the equipment the next mornng. See, I still had to unplug my own equipment & remove my software that I purchased to use for them. My boss told me it was illegal to remove anything off the laptop and that since she paid it off for me, she should get to keep the software. Yeah...a laptop she paid off, that I no longer have, yet have a DEAD computer that I was forced to purchase for their company because they ILLEGALLY docked my paychecks.

    These are the same people I was devoted to for 7 years of my life. I always stood by them when people said bad things about them, worked countless hours on "extra" promotional things for them like coolie cups, fundraiser posters & tickets, etc. with no extra pay...just hoped to make them happy...proud enough to see I'd do anything to be acknowledged and appreciated. Put it this way...when my 2nd baby was born, this was 5 years after I began "slaving" for them. My boss brought over a new baby walker & told me not to tell her husband because when she told him she wanted to get me a baby gift he told her not to because "we don't do that kind of thing for our employees." Strange statement considering I was their ONLY employee all these years.

    Yes, I was their only employee….except of course for one guy, who calls himself a subcontractor, yet has worked in their office 8-5, M-F taking orders from them the same as I did, driving the company car occasionally, for 6 years or so. For the last 4 years of my employment, because of him, I have felt excluded from many things – meetings, get togethers, sporting shows, etc. because of what he did to me. We were "phone friends - coworkers" for a year or so before he began having trouble in his marriage. He never made sexual comments towards me until then. He began calling me MANY times a day to talk about his troubles. I tried giving him advice, but then he began making sexual comments towards ME making me extremely uncomfortable. He would call me up asking me what I was wearing & if I was in the tub, etc. I asked him to "knock it off" & expected him to. Then one time he called me up LATE at night telling me he wished he could have a blow job. He didn't specifically say he wanted it from me, but why call me & say that? My now ex-husband had picked up the other phone & heard him say that to me & thus began the accusations of my "affair" with him further adding to my own marital problems. Right then I knew I had to get my boss involved. I asked her to please get rid of him & find someone else to sell ads & manage the office, etc. She told me she talked to him & he promised to stop talking to me that way. That was never good enough action for me. He & my boss were the only ones I dealt with on a daily basis. HOW DO YOU CONTINUE HAVING A GOOD WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH SOMEONE YOU TOLD YOUR BOSS ON FOR WANTING A *******? You don't. And I have been MISERABLE since and have felt he was “out to get me”. I was highly embarrassed and could never get past it even after my divorce. I felt he should have been fired. People ask me why I didn't press charges against him. Well, I'm not a home-wrecker & he had a great family. I just felt that if he got fired, the problem would be solved & I would never have to speak with him again. Easy, right? Well, my boss once told me she couldn't fire him because he was a subcontractor. That's BS to me & I feel she has illegally misclassified him on her taxes too just to save money.


    My boss NEVER bought me new software, equipment, backup external hard drives. These were things she said I was responsible for purchasing..."I only take out your taxes as a favor to you," she’d say. I tried to explain to her that if I were self employed when it came to her magazine, I would charge considerably more than I was paid because THEN I would have had the kind of cash needed to cover that kind of overhead.

    There were months where I had to work EVERY day of the month because the magazine was changing formats whereas I would have to resize every stinking ad or change what were all B&W ads to full color ads.

    My family got to see the back of my head for weeks straight. This part of my job KILLED me. I missed family functions...too many to count & couldn't take a break to take a bath or go get milk....THIS IS ABSOLUTELY TRUE. If she called while I was at the store or in the tub, she would tear into me verbally if it was "deadline" week. and God forbid I take one of my kids to the doctor during that week or got sick. There was never anyone to take up the slack when I was sick...just had to keep working. Sometimes she would throw some other person in my face & tell me they want my job. Sometimes I worked 18 hour days, 5 or more in a row just to pull 2 all-niters right after those long days. THIS IS NOT AN EXAGGERATION. When I was young, it was easy to stay up all nite when needed. As I got older & my family & THE MAGAZINE grew, the long hours began to really wipe me out. The magazine got bigger, but the amount of time to create it never grew with it.

    In a way I'm glad to not have to work for these snaky people any longer. But I feel they should have given me the chance to find another job before just cutting the chord just before Christmas after all I've put up with and done for them. I have feelings of revenge & feel they owe me something.

    After I finally got my much deserved raise, there were talks of them hiring some others in to help me out, so I thought things would get better & I probably would have worked for them forever. In a way I feel like I lost someone...like mourning...because even though she put me through hell sometimes, I also know her husband was behind it all. She was someone I could talk to about anything. I thought she was (sometimes) a friend and would never fire me in this way or accuse me of STEALING. I never thought they would think so little of me as to allow me to butter there bread & not even share a tiny piece with me. They were always offered free trips to fish or hunt and sent freebies from companies advertising certain products. Never was I offered any of although they gave it away & took many others on the trips with them.

    She never paid for me to take any classes and the software we used was so many versions out of date, that I feel many companies will overlook me as a potential employee because I have no background in creating webpages or much knowledge of the software being used today. I had always wanted to learn special effects for TV. That would be neat...I have thought about going back to school many times, but couldn't. How could I go to school when I worked 2 weeks a month pulling double & triple shifts?

    I'd love to go back to school now, but need income first and then I'd need to find a good daycare center! I'm a mom who wants my kids to learn & play, not just play & eat snacks all day. I feel like I've taken a major step back in life & class. It was embarrassing when I had to call my daughter's school & ask them to send home a reduced-lunch application. Some people in the public aid lines were swearing LOUDLY at their children while they ran around the room 20 feet away while mine sat in a stroller. In this small town, I know the difference between good parents and bad. People who want to better themselves and those who just want a handout. I personally felt like I WAS SOMEBODY. Now I’m an unemployed mom. Like I said, I used to feel accomplished...had what others considered a cool job with great income, had my own house and am a good mom. I always help others which I feel sometimes I get taken advantage of for that. But I enjoy making others smile.

    I worked for the magazine most of my adult life. I have nearly 3 degrees, but find they may be useless without an education update. I really don't want to settle for minimum wage at Walmart, when I was making $30,000 a year. (Not too shabby for a single mom in my area.) I need to make close to that to maintain what I have now...my mortgage, car, other bills & utilities & food...kids to take care of. I wonder how we will make it though the winter.

    My boss once said they would deny me unemployment if I quit. Well, when I filed for it last week when I was fired, it shows on my statement that I had no income for the 3rd 1/4 of 2007, which may screw me out of some of my benefits. It looks like the company may get audited.

    I need closure. I feel I can't get over this without getting something out of it. Recognition for the life of the magazine would be nice :-) Money for a new computer, paid back for the equipment I purchased & the payments made on the laptop...overtime pay if I'm entitled. I worked thru both births of my kids with no lapse EVER in the creation of their magazine. I do believe there's a law concerning one day's rest in seven? So many questions I have for ANY attorney willing to listen to me. I have emails & phone messages from her that are nasty & abusive. I have witnesses - my family members, their clients & a handful of temp people who left the magazine in a huff that would gladly back me up. I would love to take them down. They are taking me down, they need to fall too. They've reaped the benefits I have brought them & have left me with absolutely nothing to show for it but simple pride...which is failing too.

    I HATE feeling this way...never hated anyone in my whole life & I don’t want to now! I’ve always managed to find something good about any given person, but just can’t find my own way to forgive them or forget this ever happened to me. Please help me to see the "light at the end of the tunnel" & help me to understand that "when one door closes, another one opens" because right now, I just don't see it. I may have to file bankruptcy to get creditors off my back. Never did I think I'd be in this position. Left high & dry & possibly unemployable...at Christmas. :'-( Thanks so much for hearing me out. Even if you can't help me, it still felt good to tell someone my side of the story as my self-worth is diminishing. I know I shouldn't let THEM make me feel this way, but I can't help it. I feel mad & sad & depressed & JOBLESS! It’s strange that even now, I wake up wondering if there are any ads in my inbox to do….then I stop & think…there will never be any ads for me to do for them…I am no longer the creator of a prominent outdoor magazine. (OUCH!)

    However, I am very much enjoying the extra time with my kids. They enjoy it too! I neglected to tell you I’ve had a boyfriend for 4 years. He lives with me & is my baby’s dad, but alas, does construction & is now on unemployment too. Well, I have to get to updating my waaaay out-of-date resumé!

    (you may call me Windy from now on! :-)

  • #2
    It seems like you had your share of problems. However, I see no specific question(s) for us.

    It looks as if you have already applied for unemployment ins.

    You might want to talk to an employment attorney & run your entire situation by them & if you believe you are owed anything.
    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


    • #3
      Betty3, did you actually READ that novel?
      I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

      Comment


      • #4
        My advice to you is to repost, making it about one third the current length. Few if any responders are going to read something that long.
        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.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Pattymd View Post
          Betty3, did you actually READ that novel?
          Yea, I did. There weren't that many other posts/threads to answer at the time.
          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


          • #6
            It sounds like you had a job where things were always rocky and you put in way more hours than you wanted to because of kids and your personal life. You were recently fired but consider yourself somehow too good to file for UC.

            I see nothing illegal so I'm not surprised that you are having trouble finding an attorney to take this. There isn't a case. There is no legal requirement that your employer buy you a new computer if you work from home (or even in an office), pay for an external drive or accommodate the time and resources spent at another job. The fact that your computer was maxed because of your other job is not your employer's problem.

            You don't want to hear this but you chose to do this. As a workaholic myself, I can relate to putting in mega-hours, but when I had a job that was consuming my life, I got out and found another one. If you were missing all these events and time with the kids and what have you, then you needed to get out. It doesn't suddenly become illegal just because they have now fired you. It is a matter of prioritizing your life and deciding what is important to you. If the ability to work at home for multiple places in that particular field is most important, great. If not, then you need to adjust. Your employer isn't going to change their requirements or deadlines or operating procedures to fit your lifestyle. It just doesn't happen that way.

            Instead of wasting time blaming them or looking for some way to sue, consider it a blessing in disguise, figure out what it is you want to do and what you are comfortable with lifestyle wise, and then seek it. If that means working PT at just the one job so you can be with the kids, do that. If that means the baby's father handles child care duties while you enter the workforce full time, so be it.
            I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

            Comment


            • #7
              OK...you are getting me all wrong. I am not too good for ANYTHING. I've got my resume out there and will take the first job that comes my way - even if it means minimum wage. I have filed for Unemployment & was DENIED for misuse of a company credit card. BUT I PERSONALLY paid the credit card payments each month MYSELF. The misuse was due to the fact that my IL Child Support Mastercard looks nearly identical to the other credit card. I told my boss about the mix up when it happened in Dec. 2007. A YEAR AGO. I was actually fired because the credit card payment was late a couple times this past Summer, thus "ruining" their chances of the tiny refinance rate. My boss's words. BUT they told the unemployment ofice that I used the credit card illegally & stole money from them. Like I said, the credit card hadn't been used in a year for ANYTHING WHATSOEVER & I had been the one making the payments, thus paid the extra $170 off a long time ago. The computer I feel they owe me for was used for their job ONLY. I was a W-2 employee. My boss called me with a loan number & said to get what the company needed. My boss's husband saw the loan statement the following month, blew up at her for buying a computer that was going to be kept at my house & then began to illegally dock my paychecks. I didn't know they were going to make me pay for it. The laser printer-deal too. My boss told me to put it on MY personal credit card & she'd reimburse me. I was never reimbursed. I know MANY graphic artists who have a normal employer & do freelance work on the side with their own equipment. Well, my own equipment wasn't good enough to handle my EMPLOYER'S job, thus the employer needed to provide the equipment & software. Make more sense? Sorry if I came off as a Miss-Goody-Two-Shoes. I am not perfect....but I didn't deserve this kind of treatment from my employer. Funny thing...last year a girl worked for them in the office & actually forged a different amount on her paycheck for a couple hundred $$ more & she wasn't fired. The so-called subcontractor sits on his fat *** gambling on the companies computer int he office...he's been caught MANY times & he's still there too. I just feel that since I created their entire product for them from the git-go that I should have been treated differently considering it truly was an honest mistake. I've had my boss's SS# & bank account # for years and have NEVER thought about stealing from them or hurting the company in any way. I cannot take this as a BLESSING. I have no job and barely any income, a $1000/mo mortgage, car & kids to take care of. My boss backed my divorce & loved my "cute, little house". I can't believe she'd allow her husband to fire me for this small of a reason knowing how much it would hurt me. $175 spent a year ago accidentally, when I created their product that pulled in $20-30K a month. See where I'm coming from? I really don't need to get kicked around in a forum. If you talked to me in person or if you could have personally witnessed what I've gone thru, you may lean more to my side. Thanks for the comments just the same....it all helps.

              Comment


              • #8
                Whether your friends work for employers who pay for their computers and supplies or not, it isn't legally required no matter how unfair that may seem. The fact that they will not or backed out on the initial agreement to do so does not make it illegal.

                Yes, you can be legally fired for using the wrong card and for making late payments. It doesn't matter legally if you think your offenses are less eggregious than what others have committed or if you think you should be treated differently because of the amount of work you produced. Legally, it doesn't matter.

                As for UC, appeal. It is free and it never hurts. No one can predict how it will turn out as no one here is the one making the decision but if you don't appeal, you already know what the answer is going to be. Getting UC (or not) has no bearing on the legally of your termination. The vast majority of those collecting UC were terminated for entirely legal reasons.
                I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

                Comment

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