Old company demands I still do work for them, threatens to get new company to fire me



  • How about this? I left a company in October because it was insane and a very toxic work environment. The old company doesn't have the money to replace me, but continually calls and emails me to do things for them (for free, they claim that I owe them it). Now, it turns out that my old boss is friends with my new boss, and pretty much threatens me that if I don't do this work for the old company, he's going to tell my new boss to fire me. The new boss has now decided that he's going to offer the old company consulting services, namely offering my services back to them, despite the fact I left this company in the first place!


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    Country? Constructive dismissal? What does your contract say?



  • USA, and a "right to work" state at that. My contract doesn't specifically specify anything, but I asked an MBA friend and he says it's perfectly legal; the company basically is offering a consulting service now in addition to their other business, and my job is reworked to provide for consulting to the old company.



  • @ObiWayneKenobi said:

    USA, and a "right to work" state at that. My contract doesn't specifically specify anything, but I asked an MBA friend and he says it's perfectly legal; the company basically is offering a consulting service now in addition to their other business, and my job is reworked to provide for consulting to the old company.

    I can't imagine why it would be illegal.  Why would your current employer be prohibited from doing this?

     

    I'd just tell your new boss that you've had an unpleasant experience at your last place of work.  Of course, he may still go ahead with contracting you out to the old employer, but would that be so bad?  You'd not be taking direct orders from the old boss and if he really is as bad as you say, your new boss will hopefully be reasonable and rein him.  If not, you can always look for a new job.



  • Oh, and it would be really odd if your new boss fired you just because you wouldn't do free work for the old boss.  If he's got any sense, he'd think that was just plain nuts.  Or at the very least, he'd realize your refusal to work for the old boss benefits him: working free for you old boss would distract from your primary duties and by refusing you may have driven business to your new boss, guaranteeing you both get paid.  In fact, every place I've ever worked at least frowned on moonlighting (whether for free or not) and at least one had specific provisions against it.

     

    Of course, your new boss might not have any sense.  Then you'd better look for a new job.  But if that's how he is, it was bound to become a problem sooner or later, so maybe it's better you found out so quickly?



  • Legally the new company can offer consulting services, but if old and new boss are personal friends, you can't just tell him the old boss left you with a bad taste and you don't want to work for/with/near him, as it will certainly get back to him.

    Hedge your bets. Start looking for another position NOW, *while* doing the consulting work. Once you've found something else, have the conversation with your new boss. This way if he takes a hard line, YOU have the choice.

     



  • @ObiWayneKenobi said:

    continually calls and emails me to do things for them (for free, they claim that I owe them it)
    I'd show that to the current boss - show the current boss that if they attempt to do consultancy with your old employer, this is what they can expect - to have threatening demands made to force your current company to keep working beyond the paid contract time. That should in theory scare your current employer into dropping any such contract.@ObiWayneKenobi said:
    pretty much threatens me that if I don't do this work for the old company, he's going to tell my new boss to fire me
    And I'd also (very carefully) show this to the current boss. Don't make it look like you are ratting them out, but show it as merely a concern about the business relationship with the old company, and how extremely unprofessional they are. Of course, your current employer could tell you to shut up, in which case you could always use it as evidence that you tried to warn them, when they try to turn it back on you later. However, if your current employer is worth working for, they will take it on board, and try to keep the situation under control for you, or drop the contract. And if they don't treat it constructively, then they're not worth working for anyway, and you should be looking for a better employer anyway.



  • IT'S A TRAP!!!1!!

    @TarquinWJ said:

    @ObiWayneKenobi said:
    continually calls and emails me to do things for them (for free, they claim that I owe them it)
    I'd show that to the current boss - show the current boss that if they attempt to do consultancy with your old employer, this is what they can expect - to have threatening demands made to force your current company to keep working beyond the paid contract time. That should in theory scare your current employer into dropping any such contract.@ObiWayneKenobi said:
    pretty much threatens me that if I don't do this work for the old company, he's going to tell my new boss to fire me
    And I'd also (very carefully) show this to the current boss. Don't make it look like you are ratting them out, but show it as merely a concern about the business relationship with the old company, and how extremely unprofessional they are. Of course, your current employer could tell you to shut up, in which case you could always use it as evidence that you tried to warn them, when they try to turn it back on you later. However, if your current employer is worth working for, they will take it on board, and try to keep the situation under control for you, or drop the contract. And if they don't treat it constructively, then they're not worth working for anyway, and you should be looking for a better employer anyway.

    No matter what you do you are going to be royally shafted when the two bosses conspire between them to manufacture a complaint about your behaviour and dismiss you, just after you do all the work and just before you get paid.  They'll say you had a "bad attitude", and your complaints about the first boss' threats will be used as evidence of disaffection.  Or you don't complain about that but don't do the work for free and get first boss following through on his original threat by complaining to second boss that you're unhelpful and unco-operative.  Or you don't complain and do all the work for free and then just maybe they won't screw you over but then again in that case they've already got everything they want and you've got nothing.

     It's a trap, a death maze, a rigged game, a stacked deck.  Just bail out now; run, don't walk.  And burn everything behind you(*).

     

    (*) - not responsible for consequences of taking this metaphorical advice literally.



  • Actually the consulting may end the game. Old boss wants FREE work. New boss sets up consulting, which stops the direct demands to you and forces Old boss to pay for it. Lets new boss manage the situation. When new boss gets sick of old boss he can claim you are "busy right now" and old boss goes away.



  • @DaveK said:

    No matter what you do you are going to be royally shafted when the two bosses conspire between them to manufacture a complaint about your behaviour and dismiss you, just after you do all the work and just before you get paid.

    They don't have to manufacture anything: they can dismiss him if they don't like him.  What they can't do is not pay him for work he has done.  I don't even know how you think this is likely.  



  • The situation is that the new boss seems perfectly okay with it; since he's paying me anyways. I don't think he's charging the old boss anything, but adding "Do work for Mr. Smith @ Acme Corp" to my existing job description. He and the old boss have several joint businesses, I've found out, so they're pretty buddy-buddy with each other. I've talked to him but he keeps saying it's only temporary to "get [Acme Corp] back on its feet"

    Suffice to say I'm looking for something else so I don't have to deal with either of these guys. Recently he's started talking about my doing work for ANOTHER of his companies (one that he's joint with the old boss on).



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @DaveK said:

    No matter what you do you are going to be royally shafted when the two bosses conspire between them to manufacture a complaint about your behaviour and dismiss you, just after you do all the work and just before you get paid.

    They don't have to manufacture anything: they can dismiss him if they don't like him.  What they can't do is not pay him for work he has done.

    Sure they can.  They can claim that the work is not correct/complete/competent/timely and just not pay him.  He can of course then take them to court, but that's expensive and time-consuming, and if it was only a few weeks into a new job the amount of money might not make it worth his while to do so, and they could even be counting on that.

    @morbiuswilters said:


    I don't even know how you think this is likely.  

    More cynicism than you about the frequency of sharp practice in small businesses?  It's not a dead cert, but if I was leaving a "toxic work environment" behind me, and it appeared to be trying to sneak up ahead of me like this, and the new employer appeared to be in collusion with this attempt - well, then alarm bells would ring and I would not feel obliged to give anyone the benefit of the doubt.  Sure, I can't read their minds, but I don't need to: whatever they're playing at between them can't be something that is going to go well for me.



  •  OWK: So, now I'm really curious to see how this plays out. Let us know when/if you find something else, or the consulting ends, or any other major events happen. We're (well, I'm) rootin' for you, guy!



  •  I've now got 'Won't Get Fooled Again' by The Who in  my head



  • A few years ago at my former job, the CEO decided that I should work for him for free (he claimed that I owed them).

    I had a struggle similar to what you might be having. I actually did nothing, but when I got bored with the phone calls I burned the place down killing 14 and costing millions of euros in damages. It was pretty cool.



  • @DaveK said:

    Sure they can.  They can claim that the work is not correct/complete/competent/timely and just not pay him.  He can of course then take them to court, but that's expensive and time-consuming, and if it was only a few weeks into a new job the amount of money might not make it worth his while to do so, and they could even be counting on that.

     

    Except that he's got a paper trail a mile long, so even if the company is stupid enough to think that they might have a chance in court, knowing that judges almost always side with the employee even when there isn't that much evidence, they'd lose spectacularly and end up having to pay his legal fees and most likely punitive damages as well.

    Everybody on this forum always acts like it's this insanely long, drawn-out process to collect from a delinquent company, but most companies will do just about anything to avoid a lawsuit, especially a publicly-traded one.  Even frivolous claims usually end with private settlements, for no other reason than to avoid the bad publicity and costly litigation.  And especially if it's only a few weeks/months of pay - as a business owner you'd have to be completely braindead to think that court and legal fees would end up costing less than just paying.

    The only exception I can think of is if it's some rinky-dink one-man operation run out of the owner's basement and they don't even have the money, but you know the risks when you accept a position like that.



  • I used to have my desk by the windows where I could see the squirrels they were in love and I was told I could listen to radio at a reasonable volume between 9 and 11 while collating I told them I didn't want my desk moved again and then they took my stapler and I told them I, I, I, could burn the place down but they wouldn't listen, and then I didn't get my paycheck and....



  • @DaveK said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    @DaveK said:

    No matter what you do you are going to be royally shafted when the two bosses conspire between them to manufacture a complaint about your behaviour and dismiss you, just after you do all the work and just before you get paid.

    They don't have to manufacture anything: they can dismiss him if they don't like him.  What they can't do is not pay him for work he has done.

    Sure they can.  They can claim that the work is not correct/complete/competent/timely and just not pay him.  He can of course then take them to court, but that's expensive and time-consuming, and if it was only a few weeks into a new job the amount of money might not make it worth his while to do so, and they could even be counting on that.

    He's an employee, not a contractor. If they fail to pay wages an employee can generally contact the Dept of Labor and cause enough trouble for them to get paid without needing to go to court.



  • @Aaron said:

    Except that he's got a paper trail a mile long, so even if the company is stupid enough to think that they might have a chance in court, knowing that judges almost always side with the employee even when there isn't that much evidence, they'd lose spectacularly and end up having to pay his legal fees and most likely punitive damages as well.

    Everybody on this forum always acts like it's this insanely long, drawn-out process to collect from a delinquent company, but most companies will do just about anything to avoid a lawsuit, especially a publicly-traded one.  Even frivolous claims usually end with private settlements, for no other reason than to avoid the bad publicity and costly litigation.  And especially if it's only a few weeks/months of pay - as a business owner you'd have to be completely braindead to think that court and legal fees would end up costing less than just paying.

    The only exception I can think of is if it's some rinky-dink one-man operation run out of the owner's basement and they don't even have the money, but you know the risks when you accept a position like that.

    Well, I don't think DaveK is an American, so maybe the civil court system really is that shitty in his country.  Here, it's not that hard or expensive to file something in small claims court and that provides enough incentive for the employer to just pay.  I've heard of a few people who got stiffed on paychecks, but it was always friends who worked menial jobs (like waiting tables) for a guy who ran the restaurant as a front to sell drugs.  So, yeah.  Anyway, you could always complain to your state's AG or labor bureau, etc..  For any employer that isn't a shifty drug dealer or hasn't declared bankruptcy, it's not very hard to get paid.



  • There are means of dealing with this, IIRC

    I guess the petty answer to this is throw a fit and walk away, but I guess the moderately useful way would be a simple restraining order stating that he is not to have you as an employee because he placed you into a work environment that was not conducive to the work; as well, as long as there's some amount of paper trail behind you that says that "hey I did this work and got paid this much no more no less" then you should come out scott free, he comes out with a restraining order against him (so you dont have to work for him anymore under any conditions). Or am I about as correct as GW's grammar?



  • @Indrora said:

    ...but I guess the moderately useful way would be a simple restraining order...

    Look, I'm sure plenty of people have threatened you with one, but let me let you in on a little secret: they were bluffing.  You can't get a restraining order just because you don't like someone or had an argument.  Some states don't even have them and those that do usually require you demonstrate a threat to your safety.



  • @morbiuswilters said:


    More cynicism than you about the frequency of sharp practice in small
    businesses?  It's not a dead cert, but if I was leaving a "toxic work
    environment" behind me, and it appeared to be trying to sneak up ahead
    of me like this, and the new employer appeared to be in collusion with
    this attempt - well, then alarm bells would ring and I would not feel
    obliged to give anyone the benefit of the doubt.  Sure, I can't read
    their minds, but I don't need to: whatever they're playing at between them can't be something that is going to go well for me.
    +1

    These are difficult times. You need to aggessively protect your source of income, and in this case that is most likely best handled by looking for a new position.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Oh, and it would be really odd if your new boss fired you just because you wouldn't do free work for the old boss.
    And likely could be sued for wrongful termination.  I can't think of many worse reasons to fire a dude*.

    *hippie retard, in OWK's case



  • I'm in a "right to work" state, so there is no such thing as wrongful termination, at least that I'm aware of.



  • @ObiWayneKenobi said:

    I'm in a "right to work" state, so there is no such thing as wrongful termination, at least that I'm aware of.
    You're mixing up your labor laws.  Right to work prohibits closed union shops.  At will employment allows dismissal without cause.



  • @bstorer said:

    @ObiWayneKenobi said:

    I'm in a "right to work" state, so there is no such thing as wrongful termination, at least that I'm aware of.
    You're mixing up your labor laws.  Right to work prohibits closed union shops.  At will employment allows dismissal without cause.


    No matter what the state law is, the federal government protects employees from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, or sex



  • @Rick said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    ...
    +1

    These are difficult times. You need to aggessively protect your source of income, and in this case that is most likely best handled by looking for a new position.

    Quote fail. That was DaveK



  • @tster said:

    No matter what the state law is, the federal government protects employees from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, or sex
    But not discrimination based on the employer being a massive douche with a massive douche friend?



  • @shadowman said:

    He's an employee, not a contractor. If they fail to pay wages an employee can generally contact the Dept of Labor and cause enough trouble for them to get paid without needing to go to court.
    I think the equivalent in UK is that if you're an employee you can take it to an industrial tribunal (which is a quasi-judicial procedure anyway) as opposed to small claims court.  You have to argue your case there and win (and then the employer can still stiff you for payment, in which case you have to go to court for an enforcement order).  So it's broadly the same kind of process as for a contractor issuing small claims proceedings.



  • @ObiWayneKenobi said:

    The situation is that the new boss seems perfectly okay with it; since he's paying me anyways.  <snip>  He and the old boss have several joint businesses, I've found out, so they're pretty buddy-buddy with each other.  <snip>

    Suffice to say I'm looking for something else so I don't have to deal with either of these guys.  Recently he's started talking about my doing work for ANOTHER of his companies (one that he's joint with the old boss on).

    Good plan.  If these guys own this many businesses, and run them in this fashion, your best move is to get another job ASAP.  Preferably, from someone who doesn't know these guys (and by that, I mean someone who really doesn't know them, not someone who doesn't know them through the interview, but then, your first assignment is, "Oh, I'd like you to help out this friend of mine out at [Acme Corp].")  Failing that, someone who doesn't like them.


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