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Wrongful Termination..Harassment + Bullying Massachusetts

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  • Wrongful Termination..Harassment + Bullying Massachusetts

    Hello and allow me to introduce myself to this forum. I am looking for some information for the current situation that I am in.

    3 weeks ago I was fired from a dealership that I worked at for 2 years, it was 2 years exactly on the day I was terminated. For a few months previous to my termination my service manager who is really obnoxious, unprofessional and takes out his anger on the techs in the shop started changing his attitude to everyone in the shop since being promoted to shop foreman to service manager. Now being where I worked it was a flat rate shop, I understand some of the rules regarding flat rate pay, but my problem lied with my service manager continuously hounding me with the same questions every day about the same car(s) that I was working on. I had one car that I broke a few parts on and it eventually took me 4 weeks to find a repair solution and at a cost of $595.00 out of my pocket, not to mention that I was not fully paid for the job that was agreed upon.

    During the course of repair for that vehicle my manager would ask me with increasing tones what is going on with the repair situation, I told him that the part had been sent out to a machine shop for repair and I would let him know when it is finished. He continued to ask me the same question every day 3 times a day for 4 weeks straight, I continuously stated that if I had an answer I would let him know, He went on to say that its costing $40 a day for a loaner car every time he asked me the question. Eventually the car was repaired at a huge loss for me. The attitude in which he treated me and harassed me and bullied me for the course of that repair I can be sure was strictly against company rules which prohibits any for form of harassment no matter how big or small.

    3 weeks after that incident I was working on another vehicle which required 10 hours to repair and 1/2 hour into the repair he came out and asked me the same stupid questions, "What's going on with this car"? I told him that I just started on it and I have no answer for him, He replied "Ok so what's going on with it"? Really obnoxious questions and right there I had enough, I told him that the answer I gave him should be good enough and doesn't require anymore of his input unless something change and would appreciate if he stopped harassing me about my work.

    He relayed my response to the service director which is his boss a few days later and I was pulled into the office for a meeting and began to speak to me as if I was a mental patient stating that I have no right to tell my manager that he/she was being annoying regardless of the way I was being treated. I walked out of the office refusing to listen to anymore ridiculous crap from management and my service manager walked over and told me that his boss is under the assumption that I quit. I stated that I never said I quit. He said that I was done and should leave the building. He continuously kept repeating that I was done and should leave the building, I refused and told him to stop harassing me, he persisted and then I told him to stop being and a**hole. He said that I was fired right there. So I cleaned up my tools and left the building and went up the street to corporate management and told them of the situation and would be seeking legal action.

    Sorry for the long post but it's a difficult issue in which I have never encountered before when working in dealerships. One quick thing I like to add, I usually used to go in on my days off to finish remaining work and try to gain some extra hours, Sometimes the work isn't there but they want you to remain clocked in for a minimum of 50-60 hours a week regardless whether you made 1 hour or 100, Is there certain rules against that type of wage violation? Essentially working for free? Is there any rules against work being stolen from someone to be handed over to someone else? I have many questions that I would appreciate some input, Sorry for long essay but I have no where else to look for answers, Thanks for reading this if you got to this point.

    Appreciate your feedback
    Last edited by SpeedKingZR1; 08-28-2010, 04:31 AM. Reason: deleted what seemed to be OP's actual name

  • #2
    In the future, maybe not hide the parts that someone can actually help you with at the bottom. I know that the venting feels good, but it is about stuff that mostly no one can help you with, and it is really easy for a responder to give up reading the rest of the post. I almost did. I almost did not read the question at all. I do not generally handle termination or bullying or harassment questions. No one likes the answers, so why bother. Maybe someone else will. Or not. Most of what you describe is obnoxious but not illegal.

    However you actually have a single straightforward issue. You must be paid at least minimum wage for all hours worked, period, not exception. And if the employer is making you stay on the premise, that is hours worked. Better yet, this is "black letter" law, meaning that the employer does not have a legal leg to stand on, other then saying that you were not there. File a wage claim with state or federal DOL for any MW wage hours not paid.
    http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs22.pdf

    Short answer on the rest of your stuff, nothing you said is certainly illegal or probably illegal. It is generallly legal for the boss to be a jerk. Even a serious jerk. The very large majority of all terminations are legal. It is legal to fire someone because the bosses sports team lost. When terminations are illegal it is because that a very specific law was violated, like say Title VII.

    Now someone can say that once in a very blue moon someone actually wins a "my boss was a jerk" case. Sure, why not. File enough lawsuits and you can eventually win pretty much any type of case. Does not mean that the case was not reversed on appeal or that a payout actually occured. But the odds are really poor because neither the statutory law or case law support such claims. And attornies who handle such cases want to be paid up front because they know the chances of a pay day from a contingentcy fee is close to zero.

    I never tell someone to not see an attorney. If you want to see an attorney on the other stuff, please do so. If you have an actual case, the attorney will work on a contignent fee. If not, the attorney has bills to pay and will be pleased to take your money on a case that will likely lose.

    However you do not need an attorney on the wage claim. Just file the wage claim.
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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    • #3
      I appreciate the response, It happens every day that a tech will be clocked in on average 30 hours a week with no pay because of low work load or working on vehicle that take too long to repair and pay very little. I will look into the wage claim as you suggested and I will see how that progresses. Once again Thank you for the response.

      Comment


      • #4
        Explain the "loss to you" and how it cost you $595. Briefly, please.
        I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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        • #5
          The repair to the part in which I broke cost $595.00 and I was forced to pay it from management and was not reimbursed. Usually the dealership will cover any sort of mistakes such as this with no problems but my management was anything but management so therefore I had to pay for that part to be repaired and I was not fully paid for the job in which I sold the job for.
          Last edited by SpeedKingZR1; 08-27-2010, 07:05 PM.

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          • #6
            Out of pocket, or deducted from your paycheck? What was the threatened action if you did not agree?
            I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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            • #7
              It was an out of pocket expense. I had to go to the repair shop myself and deliver the part to be repaired and I paid the bill with my own money. If I had not done that then I would have been forced to repair the vehicle for free and/or terminated.

              Comment


              • #8
                That would be worth filing a wage claim for. Nothing to lose but a little of your time.
                I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by DAW View Post
                  However you actually have a single straightforward issue. You must be paid at least minimum wage for all hours worked, period, not exception. And if the employer is making you stay on the premise, that is hours worked. Better yet, this is "black letter" law, meaning that the employer does not have a legal leg to stand on, other then saying that you were not there. File a wage claim with state or federal DOL for any MW wage hours not paid.
                  http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs22.pdf
                  However you do not need an attorney on the wage claim. Just file the wage claim.
                  DAW, I have experience in this field. Usually when a flat rate tech complains about not being paid, it is not because minimum wage is not being paid. Flat rate techs are have a higher hourly rate and are used to a decent size check. When the flat rate hours fall(and thus the gross wages) the techs start complaining. However MW laws are followed. I had techs making 100k before the economy tanked going down to 50k.

                  In my previous job I have heard the same grumblings that the poster mentioned. The techs think it should be # of hours punched in times their normal hourly rate not # of hours punched times MW.

                  I actually read the entire post. I am amazed he kept his job afer the first car. Keeping a car in the shop for a month is a huge deal. Not only is there the loaner car cost, but CSI (customer service index) which is based on customer surveys will probably fall which affects many aspects of the dealership (from manager bonuses to bonuses from car lines to how many of the hot cars you are able to get).

                  Poster, In regards to work being stolen and given to someone else, it sounds as if repairs which you thought should be assigned to you were given to another tech. As long as it wasn't done because of a federally protected reason, it is legal. If you screwed up a job, it is common to give the bigger repair jobs to someone else. It is also common if you tick off the shop foreman that you get the little jobs and the gravy jobs go to someone else.

                  In MA there are a lot of qualified techs looking for work after all the dealership closings. I would suggest a big dose of humility at your next position.

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                  • #10
                    Hey guys I appreciate all the feedback. As far as my issue with that one car goes it was a customer pay job so CSI really was not an issue but CSI is usually reserved for warranty repair issues and now recently customer pay jobs are starting to be graded as well. The problem besides the amount of harassment and bullying I received is that it happened to me more than anyone else and I was one of the top 3 performing techs in shop productivity wise. Yea I had some comeback but who hasn't, I begin to remember how many other techs problems I had to repair for no pay because the customer previously paid for that repair. So therefore I would work for free. I fully understand how flat rate works. If I made $15/hr and a repair job paid 10 hours, I would be paid $150. Now if that same job took longer than 10 hours to fix, is the employer supposed to cover the rest of time spent on the repair with minimum wage pay?

                    As far as work that was taken away from, I've many instances where I would be in the process of the repair and I would have my day off and they would put another tech on the car to finish the repair even thought the car is in no rush and will sit at the dealership for days after the repair, The pay gets divided which is wrong but sadly not illegal. The general rule of thumb in any dealership, if you diagnose the car, you have to do the repair work, unless you sold a boat load of gravy then its OK for them to take it away from me and give it to their friends.

                    Favoritism is not illegal, but its becoming a very big issue amongst techs in dealership. Dealerships hour rates increase, repair times decrease, Wage freezes for many years, all new cars require new tools to repair and techs spend thousands of dollars for tools. The days of making $150k a year are long gone.. Some techs are happy to make $40k a year if that, Thanks again for your help
                    Last edited by SpeedKingZR1; 08-30-2010, 12:23 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by SpeedKingZR1 View Post
                      Hey guys I appreciate all the feedback. As far as my issue with that one car goes it was a customer pay job so CSI really was not an issue but CSI is usually reserved for warranty repair issues and now recently customer pay jobs are starting to be graded as well. The problem besides the amount of harassment and bullying I received is that it happened to me more than anyone else and I was one of the top 3 performing techs in shop productivity wise. Yea I had some comeback but who hasn't, I begin to remember how many other techs problems I had to repair for no pay because the customer previously paid for that repair. So therefore I would work for free. I fully understand how flat rate works. If I made $15/hr and a repair job paid 10 hours, I would be paid $150. Now if that same job took longer than 10 hours to fix, is the employer supposed to cover the rest of time spent on the repair with minimum wage pay? Thanks again for your help
                      The issue of minimum wage relates to total hours worked in a week. The law requires you to be paid a minimum of $8 per hour for all hours worked plus any required OT. So in a 40 hour week you need to be paid at least $320 gross wages for the week. If during that week you only made $150 in flat rate work you would be owed an additional $170 to meet minimum wage.

                      However if you had 30 flat rate hours at $15 per hour and have 40 punched hours; then you have $450 and are not owed further money to make up minimum wage.

                      I am surprised to hear customer pay repairs are not used in CSI. The car lines I have worked with use all repairs in CSI.

                      It is not illegal to treat you differently than other employees. My previous advice about not getting the gravy work stands. Don't tick off your direct boss and expect to get anything but small jobs. I have also seen certain techs assigned to certain service writers. If you get the writers who can sell you see much more work than the techs assigned to the poorly performing writer. That is legal as well.

                      You did not mention this anywhere but I wanted to ask if you were paid any accrued but unused vacation hours as required under MA law? I know some dealerships forget this detail.
                      Last edited by HRinMA; 08-30-2010, 12:29 PM. Reason: added info

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by SpeedKingZR1 View Post
                        So therefore I would work for free. I fully understand how flat rate works. If I made $15/hr and a repair job paid 10 hours, I would be paid $150. Now if that same job took longer than 10 hours to fix, is the employer supposed to cover the rest of time spent on the repair with minimum wage pay?
                        Not exactly. On a workweek basis you must be paid the greater of flat rate or minimum wage, not flat rate on hours productively worked, plus minimum wage on hours not not productively worked. Example. Bob is physically on site 40 hours this workweek because the employer says so. Minimum wage is $7.25/hr. Bob works 10 productively hours @ $15/hr ($150). You are saying the employer must pay Bob $150 plus $7.25/hr x 30 hours ($217.50) = $367.50). Not true. I am saying that the employer must pay Bob the greater of $150 or MW ($7.25 x 40 = $290). The feds do not care even a little bit what you are paid as long as it is at least MW (plus OT where applicable).
                        "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                        Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          There were some weeks where I was punched in for 60 hours but made less than 20 actual paid hours. I did get my paid vacation time back, 2 weeks worth, I would have to look over all the hours I put in versus the amount I was actually paid to see how much in wages the company should pay according to the guidelines. It's a cruel world out there and this is the real deal on how techs actually get treated with the flat rate pay system. The labor standards need serious overhaul to include flat rate workers so they won't be mistreated. So pretty much you have to be a criminal tech to make a good living and decent honest techs are pretty much screwed.

                          Some dealerships use CSI for customer pay jobs and some don't. But that there itself lies the problem, management is so set on CSI and bonuses they forget what they are actually doing as far as managing a dealership. The current management at that dealership is so greedy and so set on their own bottom line that they do not care who gets hurt, screwed, mistreated...etc. They will notice right away when they pay you a little bit more than what your supposed to get but they won't care to look when they under pay you until you say something. That's why given enough time certain events happen as in going postal.

                          Does anyone also know what are the rules regarding back flagging or back charging? If a tech is paid for a job then somewhere down the line the vehicle returns for an issue regarding the repair, is the dealership allowed to take away the paid time that was previously paid to repair the vehicle?
                          Last edited by SpeedKingZR1; 08-30-2010, 02:45 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I can keep repeating my prior answers.
                            - For each workweek, you must be paid at least minimum wage for all HOURS ACTUALLY WORKED. This would include back flagging or back charging or double dippy swirling back flips or any other terms anyone wants to use.
                            - The feds still do not care even a little bit about any pay beyond MW (and maybe OT).
                            - I still do not know anything about MA rules (if any). Maybe someone else wants to address that.

                            I can give you one new answer.
                            - The feds do not care about vacation either. Perhaps MA does.
                            "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                            Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              As far as this question goes, MA follows Federal.

                              MA does require the payout of unused vacation but the poster says he got it, so that's a non-issue.
                              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

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