Does anyone have experience with Labor Boards?
March 25, 2013 4:38 PM   Subscribe

I'm taking a former boss to the Labor Board (in California) next week. He owes me back wages, some or all of a bonus (he never provided me with the bonus criteria, as he said he would do in the offer letter, despite my numerous requests), he never paid two years of payroll taxes - another story, involving an ongoing IRS investigation. Next week is the preliminary hearing. I'm wondering what to expect. Should I have all of my material (offer letter, testimonials, emails) for this meeting? Or is this simply to determine whether an amicable solution can be found before a proper hearing? I would appreciate hearing about similar experiences - and lessons learned from these experiences. Thanks.
posted by holdenjordahl to Work & Money (7 answers total)
 
I did it in Illinois about 14 years ago, and the way it worked for me was that I filed the paperwork along with a narrative of my allegations, he was served with notice and given the opportunity to respond in writing. After reviewing this, we were brought into a meeting with an administrator and explained our stories. After the meeting, the administrator made her decision and it was in my favor.

So for me, there was only one meeting and that's when I had the opportunity to show my evidence. If I remember, having copies of old commission/bonus checks with sales data to back them up helped me immensely. Because this showed that there was a pattern in place that he arbitrarily stopped following. As well as being reasonable. I left in the middle of a month, and the boss decided that meant he didn't have to pay me at all for the month. I told the administrator that I'm just looking for my salary and commission for the days that I worked. She agreed that that was reasonable. The ex-boss was given something like 10 days to respond, either with a check or some kind of appeal. I got a check.

If I remember correctly, the "order" for the check was enforced by the state, but there wasn't much I could do if the boss had decided to just not pay.

So yes, show up with everything you have, since you may not have an opportunity for a second chance. Have it organized so you can pull out documents as needed.

In my humble opinion, what wins these cases (besides having the law on your side, of course) is looking like the reasonable person in the room. It was easy in my case, because my ex-boss was a nut, and I didn't have to do much to get him to display that.
posted by gjc at 5:09 PM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks, gjc, this is exactly what I'm looking for! appearing reasonable (God, I hope I appear reasonable) does seem to be the key. and, yes, it will help, given the ex-boss is hot headed and ill tempered, especially since he knows by now that I'm assisting the IRS with their investigation. one thing, though, it sounds like a judgment in my favor is not necessarily a guarantee that he will actually pay, right? I'm certainly not hiring a lawyer to go after any possible award. what, then, has he got to lose in not paying, prestige?
posted by holdenjordahl at 5:22 PM on March 25, 2013


You've read this, right?

The DLSE should be able to answer collection questions you have, if you call them. I suspect, though I'm not sure, that they just automatically enter judgments for you once they've ruled in your favor.

You ought to take a look at this (general) information about judgments, and specifically collecting them, in California (it's meant for consumers who have judgments entered against them, but it's detailed enough to understand the creditor process.) Also read through the FAQ here.

Again, I suspect the labor relations folks and the court will take care of entering judgments, etc. The DLSE can tell you what you will and won't have to do.

(In general, my sense is that CA is pretty darned OK at this kind of thing, and at getting employers to pay, certainly as compared to your random average US state. The handful of minor employer issues I had in CA, they took care of stuff before I, or most of my coworkers, even realized there was an issue to fix.)
posted by SMPA at 6:24 PM on March 25, 2013


Thanks, SMPA, this is great stuff! Needless to say, it's also very comforting to know that, should the matter be ruled in my favor, there is recourse.
posted by holdenjordahl at 7:04 PM on March 25, 2013


also, this, then... the documents that SMPA referenced are clear about back wages.

what about bonuses? there was a performance bonus, payable after one year. criteria was to be provided after my first month of employment. it was never provided. and there was a commission bonus, 10% of funds raised. i kept asking for - and never received - the foundation's tax i.d. number (i now understand why; as i mentioned above, there is an ongoing IRS investigation regarding that tax i.d. number, among other things).

what, if any, criteria would a commissioner use to determine whether either or bonuses, or portions thereof, would be awarded? i have documents that support my success, including attendance records ( a meteoric rise upon my arrival) and about 40 commendation letters that i was collecting both for fundraising purposes as well as to prove to the hosting university the benefit the business provided.

thanks, folks.
posted by holdenjordahl at 7:18 PM on March 25, 2013


If you are in SoCal it may be worth giving these people a call.
posted by Aizkolari at 8:35 AM on March 26, 2013


thanks, Aizkolari, i will.
posted by holdenjordahl at 8:47 AM on March 26, 2013


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