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Archive for April, 2008

Some of you know what a witch my ex-employer was. She was really terrible. The worst boss I’ve ever had, as a matter of fact, and I’ve had some real stinkers.

She was unethical, overbearing, and thought the world revolved around her. And she was one of the most disorganized, most flaky persons I have ever met. She was incredibly difficult to work for, because she believed that she never made mistakes; everything was always my fault.  And she made a lot of mistakes.

I could go on forever about how awful she was to work with, but I’ll limit my rant to what happened after I terminated my employment with her.

I sued her, by god.

I think the summary I wrote in preparation for our court date sums up the situation nicely:

I worked for the Defendant, Michelle K- [whom Francis always referred to as “poo head”], as an office manager for fourteen months; my last day was December 18, 2007.

Since I left, Ms. K- has been difficult and unpleasant to deal with, and, despite my numerous requests, did not give me my final paycheck until January 15, 2008, when I went to her office and insisted I be paid in person.

At that time, she gave me two checks totaling the amount owed to me: $1,830.00.

I believe I should have been paid no later than December 21, 2007, and would like to collect civil penalties for the 25 days she withheld payment.

It is my understanding that, according to ORS 652.150, I am entitled to civil penalties in the form of payment of eight hours per day at my normal hourly rate of $20 for those 25 days: a total of $4,000. I am also asking for eight hours’ wages in compensation for the time and hassle of collecting my paycheck: a total of $160.

Additionally, she did not pay me within 12 days of my first written request for payment (which was on January 2, 2008), and so I believe that the statue’s secondary provision — which states that no more than the amount owed may be collected if payment is received within 12 days — is not applicable.

Ms. K- may try to insist that I was a contractor and not an employee, and say that the laws governing final paychecks do not apply in this instance, but I believe she is mistaken: when I worked for her, I fulfilled none of the criteria that must be met in order to be considered a contractor.

I was under her direction and control the entire time I worked for her. I worked full-time in her office, using her equipment, during hours which she specified. I was paid hourly, had no contract, worked solely for her, and could be terminated at any time. Although she called me a contactor, the agencies that enforce employment laws make it clear that it is the nature of one’s work that determine one’s status, not what an employer chooses to call one.

I understand that Ms. K- is currently under investigation by the Oregon Employment Department’s tax auditor in regards the matter of all her employees’ employment statuses. And I have filed a form with the IRS to account for her incorrect use of a 1099, as opposed to a W-2.

Incidentally, I would like to state that Ms. K- attempted dishonestly to obtain copies of my tax records by having someone come to my place of business and hand-deliver a Request for Production form. It seems she tried to make it look like it had come from the court, but to what end, I do not know.

In summary, I believe I am entitled to $4,000 in civil fees for a withheld paycheck, and also ask that I be awarded an additional $160 for the time I have spent on this matter.

Thank you.
Adrian O’-

But let’s backtrack a little.

After poo head withheld my paycheck for 25 days, I was broke as hell and pissed off.  After writing her numerous emails and getting no response, I went to her office and refused to leave until I’d gotten paid.  It was afterwards that one of her other (disgruntled) employees pointed out to me that it’s illegal to withhold a paycheck, and that there are civil penalties that can be collected, and so I began doing some research.

I sent her an email telling her that I was dissatisfied with her tardiness in paying me, quoted the statues about late final paychecks, and told her I’d take her to court if she didn’t pay me the civil penalties.  She then had her wacko bookkeeper call me, who rudely told me that I had been hired as a contractor, not as an employee, and that the laws governing final paychecks didn’t apply to me.  (She also mentioned that the didn’t understand why I was doing this to her, the bookkeeper, knowing that she was fighting cancer!  Yeah.  Wacko.)  I told her I disagreed (ignoring the fact that she’d pulled the cancer card), and wrote poo head another email, explaining that it doesn’t matter what she called me (or indeed, what I called myself), a person must fulfil a number of of criteria to be considered a contractor, and those are clearly laid out by numerous state and federal agencies.  I gave her links to webpages where these agencies list these criteria, explained that I hadn’t met any of them, and told her I was sticking to my guns.

She wrote back a very nasty email, using words like “extortion” and “fabrication”, and signed it “I’ll see you in court!”  I rolled my eyes and muttered to myself, “No, you won’t see me in court, you maroon, you’ll see me in mediation.  Which you would know is required of us if you’d bothered to do three minutes of research on small claims court proceedings.”

I went to the courthouse, served her papers, and waited for the court date.  I was pretty confident I’d win, it seemed pretty cut-and-dried…  But there was one grey area: my ability to prove my employee status.  Sure, if the judge took the time to look at those employee/contractor criteria and asked me about it, it would be crystal clear that I was not a contractor.  But what if she or he didn’t?

I decided to contact the tax auditor investigating poo head’s business.  He’d conducted a formal interview with me as part of his investigation, and it was clear from his questions that I qualified as an employee.  However, when I asked that he put it in writing, he informed me that he was unable to do so lest (by some odd fluke) the court overturn that decision and it interfere with his audit of her.  Poop!  And I’d contacted the IRS about the issue (as I’d been given the wrong tax forms, and as poo head hadn’t been taking out taxes and consequently owed them), but we know how speedily the IRS resolves things like this.

So when we had our court date, I was lacking written proof of my employee status, and didn’t know if a judge would take the time to make the call on my employee status and grant me the full amount in civil penalties.

Well, we met in mediation (which is required prior to trial of all litigants in small claims cases).  I told my side of the story, poo head told hers.  The mediator talked to me on my own, and then with her.  Then poo head offered me $2,000 to make it go away.  She had had an attorney call me the previous week and offer me $1,830, but I’d refused, knowing I had a good chance at winning the full $4,000.

I thought about it.  At this point, we’d been either in mediation or waiting to be in mediation for almost three hours; the idea of explaining everything again to a judge who was at the end of their workday was pretty unappealing.  More importantly, I wasn’t looking to be a hard-ass, I just wanted to make my point.   I still countered with $3,000, though.  Then she offered $2,500, payable in full no later than noon the next day.  I accepted.

She paid me, the check is deposited, and I’ll never have to see her again.  Thank god.

And her trouble is only just beginning.

All this malarky about hiring me as a “contractor” is back-firing on her.  As I mentioned, her business is being audited by the tax auditor in the Oregon Employment Department.  And I’ve filed that form with the IRS to prove my employee status.  The IRS really, really doesn’t like it when, as an employer, you don’t take taxes from your employees’ paychecks.  And it’s not just me that this happened with, I can think of seven other people who worked for her during the 14 months I did and who might technically qualify as employees and not contractors.  And she’s been in business for thirty years, so god knows what she may owe in back taxes.

I’ll pay the IRS everything I owe, but I think that sometime in the future, I’ll get a credit from them because poo head will have finally been made to pay what she should have been all along.

She’s got a long, hard row to hoe, and I don’t envy her one bit.  I don’t feel sorry for her, either.  She knew exactly what she was doing, and she’s been lining her pockets at the expense of others for a loooong time.

I won’t even get into how one of her employees quit because he thought she was double billing her clients, and how the general contractor on the project told the clients about it.  (Did I mention the clients are both lawyers?)

Farewell, poo head.  Your part in my life is over.

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I’ll be so glad to shed my current roommates.

They’re not exactly horrible…

They don’t have rowdy parties that go late into the night, they don’t steal my stuff, they don’t leave their crap all over the place.

But they annoy me. They don’t say hello to my friends, they make it clear that they think I’m weird, and they have no concept of being environmentally responsible. And the girl is OCD in an annoying way.

For example. When I got up this morning, she was was blow-drying her hair. I brushed my teeth, took a shower, put on face goop and perfume. Still blow-drying. I went upstairs and blew my own hair dry. Still blow-drying.

She finally stopped when I was putting on my shoes.

I know what she was going to be doing next: hair straightening! I’ve witnessed parts of this process. It involves a myriad of bobby pins and tiny sections of hair that are then ironed into perfect straightness. This process takes about 45 minutes.

So goodbye, weird roommates. Bring on the Englishman!

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Scout and Dill

So there’s one unhappy note in all this happy kerfuffle: my pets can’t go with me.

Or rather, they could, but they would be in quarantine for the unbelievable length of six months! Sugar gliders are so fragile, so prone to stress, and so social that six months of isolation would literally be torture for them, and I would fear for their tiny little lives.

Many of my friends, I know, would love to take them on a temporary basis (*watches Tom bite his knuckles*), but seeing as I’m not sure when we might be settling in the States, temporary is not a good option. So I’ve found someone to adopt them.

A few weeks ago, I put up an ad on Craigslist.com. I wasn’t sure if I’d even get any responses, but apparently sugar gliders are quite high in demand! I got over 30 responses, ranging from articulate and interested to “hi how much r yur sguergliders their so cute!”

I was so very worried about finding someone I was sure would give them a good home! Enter Brandyn and Stephanie, a young couple with a big love of animals. They have an ancient cat, a leopard gecko, and have been pining after sugar gliders for a long time. They are both sweet, lively, and completely in love with Scout and Dill. Stephanie even works as an adoption counsellor at the Humane Society. Perfect. This is a tremendous load of my mind; I think of all the things that need to be taken care of during this move (passport, visa, packing, sloughing off of all belongings, quitting my job) this was the most stressful. I am grateful that the universe has put in my path these caring people.

Last night we finished all our discussions about the adoption, and on Saturday I will say good bye to my boys.

But it’s harder than I thought it would be, and I thought it would be hard.

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A summary.

I know that there’s a few of you who haven’t heard the whole story of how it came about that I’m moving to England, and even a couple of you who may not even know that I’ve got a boyfriend, let alone that I’m moving halfway across the world! I’m a terrible correspondent, I know, but I hope that this blog will answer questions you have, get you caught up and up to date, and get us back in touch a little more.

So, a summary:

I’m moving to England to be with a lovely man. I’ll be sad to leave Portland, it’s been over seven years that I’ve been here, and it’s been a wonderful home to me. We may end up settling in Portland, but for now, off I go to Royal Tunbridge Wells! (Whenever you see something in that green typeface, that means I’ve created a pertinent link to some information, and you should click on it to see what it is!)

In fall of 2006, I started an email correspondence with a nice English guy from my chatty online news group. He was thinking about getting sugar gliders, and since I already had two of my own, (Scout and Dill), I was happy to share what I knew about these delicate little creatures. Francis, as he is called, ended up getting two of his own gliders, Chuckles and Ginger, and so our friendship began.

I think we both knew something was up pretty early on, but it wasn’t until several months later that we began talking about arranging a visit that I realized this wasn’t just a casual online friendship. (I mean, the first time we talked on the phone was on Valentine’s Day, sheesh!) He seemed kind, intelligent, funny, and handsome, and I was smitten.

He visited Portland in September, 2007, and we had a simply lovely time together. I showed him the best of Portland, he met my friends and father and aunt, and we went to the coast. We were both devastated when he had to return to England, and shortly thereafter we started making plans for another visit. It quickly became apparent that while another visit would have been fabulous, it wasn’t going to be enough.

Lots of planning and discussing and sorting of details later, we decided that I would move there.

So on May 5th, I leave Portland and fly not to England, but to Florida. Francis will meet me there, and we will see my mother, brother, sister and brother-in-law (who, luckily, will be visiting from Madison at the same time), as well as my grandfather, uncle and my uncle’s partner. Wonderful! We will be there for ten days, and then Francis will fly back to England while I stay on for another week. Then I’m off to New York City to visit my dear friend Eric for a couple days, and then finally, on May 28th, I’ll arrive in England!

For now, though, finishing up work and packing packing packing!

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Hi hi hi!

Look, I have a blog! And it’s for you! Yes YOU!

I want to keep all of you up to date on what’s going on in my life, what with me moving to another country and all, and I thought this would be much better than sending out mass emails.

You can comment on the posts and ask questions and stuff and we’ll all stay in touch!

More soon.

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