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employment law advice where to start looking?

employment law advice where to start looking?

Old Oct 31st 2006, 12:17 am
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Default employment law advice where to start looking?

OK so my wife is a teacher (anyone who followed my earlier health insurance story knows this). She is teaching at a charter (NON union publicly funded school). She had a choice between LAUSD (los angeles school district) and this school.
This school promised performance pay (good for her as she is an ace teacher and can easily reach the bonus levels), better working practices, more flexible teaching (teachers can teach how they like as long as they reach the standards).
It was a bit weird since after she signed on I asked to see her contract. She handed me a little piece of paper which just had the dates of her employment year and salary. She was being paid a fixed amount for working x amount of days.
There was nothing else. Apparently the school had a charter which forms the contract but they had not given her a copy. Effectively they made her sign a contract without letting her view it!
Anyway they had another piece of paper with the pay scales, bonus amounts, wage increase schedule etc.
So a year later bonus time comes around. She meets all targets but they dont pay the bonus until the next year, after the re write the charter. They now have changed the bonus levels and targets and are RETROACTIVELY applying this!
She is pregnant and they are going back on everything they said previously. They still refuse to give her a copy of the charter either old or new, they wont even show it to her. At one point they said they would be handing it out one page at a time, one per week!
The whole operation stinks which is a shame because the school is very good, helps very deprived kids and is very high performing.
They seem to want to screw my wife at every stage. She is of course going to leave ASAP.
I know non union employees here have 0 rights but I am sure some of what they are doing is illegal. Do they not have any sort of contract law here? Basically they are re-writing contracts at will, nothing is written down, everything is verbal. They take no minutes at any meetings so there is no record of anything.
Any suggestions of where we might start looking for a lawyer. Teachers get paid bad enough without having to deal with this kind of stuff.
Anyone who complains about the power of LAUSD should see what non union teachers have to put up with, its criminal and makes my blood boil.
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Old Oct 31st 2006, 1:31 am
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Default Re: employment law advice where to start looking?

Originally Posted by angelman
OK so my wife is a teacher (anyone who followed my earlier health insurance story knows this). She is teaching at a charter (NON union publicly funded school). She had a choice between LAUSD (los angeles school district) and this school.
This school promised performance pay (good for her as she is an ace teacher and can easily reach the bonus levels), better working practices, more flexible teaching (teachers can teach how they like as long as they reach the standards).
It was a bit weird since after she signed on I asked to see her contract. She handed me a little piece of paper which just had the dates of her employment year and salary. She was being paid a fixed amount for working x amount of days.
There was nothing else. Apparently the school had a charter which forms the contract but they had not given her a copy. Effectively they made her sign a contract without letting her view it!
Anyway they had another piece of paper with the pay scales, bonus amounts, wage increase schedule etc.
So a year later bonus time comes around. She meets all targets but they dont pay the bonus until the next year, after the re write the charter. They now have changed the bonus levels and targets and are RETROACTIVELY applying this!
She is pregnant and they are going back on everything they said previously. They still refuse to give her a copy of the charter either old or new, they wont even show it to her. At one point they said they would be handing it out one page at a time, one per week!
The whole operation stinks which is a shame because the school is very good, helps very deprived kids and is very high performing.
They seem to want to screw my wife at every stage. She is of course going to leave ASAP.
I know non union employees here have 0 rights but I am sure some of what they are doing is illegal. Do they not have any sort of contract law here? Basically they are re-writing contracts at will, nothing is written down, everything is verbal. They take no minutes at any meetings so there is no record of anything.
Any suggestions of where we might start looking for a lawyer. Teachers get paid bad enough without having to deal with this kind of stuff.
Anyone who complains about the power of LAUSD should see what non union teachers have to put up with, its criminal and makes my blood boil.
A lot of people dont have contracts - we dont use them where I work - you just get a letter - we are at will (see a couple of recent threads) The charter sounds shady, but verbal promises cant really be held to i wouldnt have thought. All our bonus's are carefully worded that they are at discretion and may apply etc - if you think the amounts are worth it get some proper advice but sadly i think you are out of luck
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Old Oct 31st 2006, 1:59 am
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Default Re: employment law advice where to start looking?

You have a better chance in CA than in many other States.

But you are probably wasting your time.

And who did the screwing
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Old Oct 31st 2006, 2:03 am
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Default Re: employment law advice where to start looking?

Yes sorry to hear about your experiences it does seem unfair.
Like others have said most of us (my hubby incl) do not have any contracts can get fired immediately for any reason and we can't do anything about it. At least your wife has the choice of going to a union school with contracts etc.
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Old Oct 31st 2006, 2:10 am
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Default Re: employment law advice where to start looking?

its not being fired thats the problem its that they went back on their terms and conditions.. they are retroactively altering their pay scales.
Its a bit like me buying a camera today and then in 6 months time the shop keeper demanding another $1000 for it because he decided unilaterally to change the price later one but was applying it retroactively.
They are changing the terms of her salary too. Without telling her until it happened it turns out that for every day she is sick she has to PAY THEM for a subsitute. She gets 8 sick days but because she is pregnant and taking maternity leave she only gets 6. She is more or less paying the school to work there! Its insane. She is almost losing money by working. Can that be right? If she quits which she could do easily (apart from the effect on the kids that absolutely dote on her) the prinicpal will refuse to give her any form of recomendation which is so unfair. Its doubly amazing that they treat their star teachers this way. They must know she could go to any school and get a job at any time. They have told her she is one of the best there, they have given her the very toughest kids this year because they know she can turn them around which she is/has. She is the only teacher that gets personal letters from parents thanking her for her work.. and this is only her second year of teaching!
If other companies were run like these schools we would still be in the stone age!

Originally Posted by irnbru4u
Yes sorry to hear about your experiences it does seem unfair.
Like others have said most of us (my hubby incl) do not have any contracts can get fired immediately for any reason and we can't do anything about it. At least your wife has the choice of going to a union school with contracts etc.
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Old Oct 31st 2006, 2:14 am
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Default Re: employment law advice where to start looking?

Originally Posted by angelman
its not being fired thats the problem its that they went back on their terms and conditions.. they are retroactively altering their pay scales.
Its a bit like me buying a camera today and then in 6 months time the shop keeper demanding another $1000 for it because he decided unilaterally to change the price later one but was applying it retroactively.
They are changing the terms of her salary too. Without telling her until it happened it turns out that for every day she is sick she has to PAY THEM for a subsitute. She gets 8 sick days but because she is pregnant and taking maternity leave she only gets 6. She is more or less paying the school to work there! Its insane. She is almost losing money by working. Can that be right? If she quits which she could do easily (apart from the effect on the kids that absolutely dote on her) the prinicpal will refuse to give her any form of recomendation which is so unfair. Its doubly amazing that they treat their star teachers this way. They must know she could go to any school and get a job at any time. They have told her she is one of the best there, they have given her the very toughest kids this year because they know she can turn them around which she is/has. She is the only teacher that gets personal letters from parents thanking her for her work.. and this is only her second year of teaching!
If other companies were run like these schools we would still be in the stone age!
like I said it's unfair, it also stinks.
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Old Oct 31st 2006, 2:19 am
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Default Re: employment law advice where to start looking?

Originally Posted by angelman
If other companies were run like these schools we would still be in the stone age!
Happened to me in the UK, and much better chances there of litigation.

Seem to remember IBM were pretty good at pulling this stunt as well.

When it comes down to it you need it in writing without any discretions.
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Old Oct 31st 2006, 2:21 am
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Default Re: employment law advice where to start looking?

I would want to investigate whether the charter with LAUSD carries some requirements for how teachers are compensated by the charter school operator. I frankly don't know how this works, but I would suspect that the LAUSD deal has some strings attached as to how teachers are to be compensated.

I'd guess --and that's a guess -- that the charter should be a matter of public record, being that the LAUSD is a public agency. I'm guessing, but if you contact the LAUSD, it should provide it. If they are resistant, then I would think that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) would come into play.

If none of that proves useful to you, then the issue likely boils down to whether your wife had an employment contract, and if so, what its terms were. If the bonus isn't mandatory, then it is effectively discretionary, which means that discretion can be used to not pay it.

One thing that might work to your advantage is if you could claim that she is being discriminated against in some way. Discrimination based upon pregnancy is illegal, and California is relatively aggressive in protecting maternity rights, so that might be a route to pursue.
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Old Oct 31st 2006, 2:39 am
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Default Re: employment law advice where to start looking?

why not check out the department of labour or whatever it's called? But frankly without actually having a written copy of the contract, your probably pretty much SOL.
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Old Oct 31st 2006, 4:21 am
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Default Re: employment law advice where to start looking?

it just seems incredible to me that anyone gets employed without a contract. Is this normal in UK to be employed without a contract detailing working hours, holidays, sick days etc.?
I worked both salary and freelance and always had a contract written. I am union here in the US thank goodness.
I just cant believe that an employer can just change the terms of employment at will as they see fit.
Whats more amazing and sad is that the meetings they hold to discuss these matters are always (purposefully?) held right as the last item of the day when everyone is tired. It was not until my wife pointed out some of the more blatant ripoff moves the school was pulling on the teachers that they even noticed. They just didnt seem to care really, not even about losing their jobs they just seemed resigned to being treated like dirt.
Sadder still is that in theory this school is all about being run by the teachers for the teachers away from the dull monolithic beaurocracy of the union.. its not even about making a profit. It shows what happens without a centralised union structure where petty in fighting and rivalry, insecurities etc. come to dominate the direction of the school. Of course this it not unique to teaching or to american companies.
Very very sad really.
STill soon she will be on maternity and will be able to stop paying the school to go to work and we can save some money! (its not quite that bad.. but almost)

Originally Posted by Bob
why not check out the department of labour or whatever it's called? But frankly without actually having a written copy of the contract, your probably pretty much SOL.
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Old Oct 31st 2006, 11:17 am
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Default Re: employment law advice where to start looking?

You don't say how much money is involved or how many teachers. A lawyer might take it on, on a contingency basis if there is enough money at stake. They will want somthing like a third of any settlement. There are bound to be lawyers there, specialising in employment law.
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Old Oct 31st 2006, 11:45 am
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Default Re: employment law advice where to start looking?

Whats the name of the school? Because charter schools are essentaill owned by a private company they can follow the standard labor laws, which are few and far between. Unfortunately it sounds like they are fully in compliance with the law, although that doesn't mean its right.
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Old Oct 31st 2006, 1:00 pm
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Default Re: employment law advice where to start looking?

Originally Posted by paddingtongreen
You don't say how much money is involved or how many teachers. A lawyer might take it on, on a contingency basis if there is enough money at stake. They will want somthing like a third of any settlement. There are bound to be lawyers there, specialising in employment law.
Yes, it's all about proving it I think. If you can show they have not paid what they promised, I'm sure she'd be fine. And surely, as said here, there should be others in the same boat too? I'd start by asking the other teachers.
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Old Oct 31st 2006, 3:47 pm
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Default Re: employment law advice where to start looking?

I'm 58 years old and have been working since age 16. Have never worked with a contract. Nor has my husband, although his present job is with a school and he is a member of the union. Neither my sister, my children or my brother-in-law have ever been given a contract. There are usually verbal and/or a handbook that you are given that outlines vacation and sick/personal time allowed and such but pay is individually handled and confidential and unless, like my sister who works for BMS, no one knows what you are paid. This is the US and not the UK, unfortunately.

Have your wife contact the department of labor and ask them what their take on this situation is. Also look for an attorney who practices employment law.


Originally Posted by angelman
it just seems incredible to me that anyone gets employed without a contract. Is this normal in UK to be employed without a contract detailing working hours, holidays, sick days etc.?
I worked both salary and freelance and always had a contract written. I am union here in the US thank goodness.
I just cant believe that an employer can just change the terms of employment at will as they see fit.
Whats more amazing and sad is that the meetings they hold to discuss these matters are always (purposefully?) held right as the last item of the day when everyone is tired. It was not until my wife pointed out some of the more blatant ripoff moves the school was pulling on the teachers that they even noticed. They just didnt seem to care really, not even about losing their jobs they just seemed resigned to being treated like dirt.
Sadder still is that in theory this school is all about being run by the teachers for the teachers away from the dull monolithic beaurocracy of the union.. its not even about making a profit. It shows what happens without a centralised union structure where petty in fighting and rivalry, insecurities etc. come to dominate the direction of the school. Of course this it not unique to teaching or to american companies.
Very very sad really.
STill soon she will be on maternity and will be able to stop paying the school to go to work and we can save some money! (its not quite that bad.. but almost)
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Old Oct 31st 2006, 3:50 pm
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Default Re: employment law advice where to start looking?

Note: She can advise them upfront and advise the DOL as well that since she does not have a copy of the contract and/or by-laws that state she must pay privately for a substitute when she is out sick, then what they are doing is illegal.
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