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QUESTION: My employer had me work out my two weeks notice and said in emails that he would pay me for the full two weeks (one day I had previously scheduled off) if I trained my replacement.  I trained his wife the first week and the new replacement the following week.  He sat me down with my last paycheck before me (one day short) and handed me a 'release' document that is much more than a non compete.  It releases him from ever being 'sued' from past OR FUTURE actions, etc.  I am not an attorney but I knew enough not to sign this and that I was not required under Federal law to sign any release for wages earned.  When I refused, he then proceeded to take out what should have been my letter or rec but instead 'read' very inaccurate, negative comments about me including reference to 'counseling me over my marriage problems' and that I contacted him after hours and expressed personal feelings for him, which is a complete lie.  He said I should sign the release and be on my way or else my husband would see this letter.  I insisted on a copy of it so I could show my husband this obvious blackmail     attempt.  When I got it home to show my husband, the part about the 'personal feelings for him' was not there.  I'm not sure if he switched the letters or ad-libbed it.  He is still refusing to pay me and now is threatening to sue me if I say anything saying that I signed a non compete which I didn't because he forgot to give me one when he hired me 9 months ago.  DOL said they can only request min wage (which I was making much more) but they could not enforce him to even pay min wage.  They suggested small claims court, do you agree that this is my only recourse.  This is so upsetting and shocking to me.

ANSWER: I disagree with DOL however you work in florida. The state of Florida is the most biased state in favor of emplyers I have yet to find.

They should be able to collect the full amount that you are due, and not just minimum wage.

They are correct that you can take it to small claims court.

I would suggest a couple of things that you can do:

#1. I would call the U.S. Department of Labor instead of the Florida DOL.



Fort Lauderdale Area Office
US Dept. of Labor
Wage & Hour Division
Federal Building, Room 408
299 East Broward Blvd.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301-1976


Phone:
(954) 356-6896
1-866-4-USWAGE
(1-866-487-9243)
 


Kathleen Noel
Assistant District Director




Jacksonville District Office
US Dept. of Labor
Wage & Hour Division
Charles E. Bennett Federal Building
400 West Bay Street, Room 956, Box 017
Jacksonville, FL 32202


Phone:
(904) 359-9292
1-866-4-USWAGE
(1-866-487-9243)
 


Michael Young
District Director




Miami District Office
US Dept. of Labor
Wage & Hour Division
Sunset Center
10300 Sunset Drive, Room 255
Miami, FL 33173-3038


Phone:
(305) 598-6607
1-866-4-USWAGE
(1-866-487-9243)



Will Garnitz
District Director





Orlando Area Office
US Dept. of Labor
Wage & Hour Division
1001 Executive Center Drive, #103
Orlando, Florida 32803


Phone:
(407) 648-6471
1-866-4-USWAGE
(1-866-487-9243)
 


Joan Stiles
Assistant District Director




Tallahassee Area Office
US Dept. of Labor
Wage & Hour Division
227 North Bronough Street
Room 4120
Tallassee, FL 32301


Phone:
(850) 942-8341
1-866-4-USWAGE
(1-866-487-9243)
 


Viengkeo Vilaylak
Assistant District Director




Tampa District Office
US Dept. Of Labor
Wage & Hour Division
4200 W Cypress Street, Suite 444
Tampa, FL 33607


Phone:
(813) 288-1242
1-866-4-USWAGE
(1-866-487-9243)
 


James Schmidt
District Director
 





West Palm Beach Area Office
US Dept. Of Labor
Wage & Hour Division
1818 S. Australian Ave. #251
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
 


Phone:
(561) 640-0474
1-866-4-USWAGE
(1-866-487-9243)
 


Emmanuel Morel
Assistant District Director

If one of the offices could not help you call another one and explain it and say you called the other office and they could not help you.

The other suggestion would be to find an attorney in Florida that will give you a free consultation and take the case on contingency basis. Sue the company for unpaid wages and for harrassment and intimidation in your exit interview.

Shirley
 



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you so much for getting back with me quickly.  I did call the Orlando US Dept. of Labor and they are the ones that said unlike the IRS, they cannot force my wages to be paid but just send a statement that a law is being broken and that they can only request minimum wage.  They are the ones suggesting small claims court.  
An attorney friend had us send an email to my employer and his attorney but he is still as of yesterday, refusing to release my wages unless I sign his agreement and is claiming that his partner that was present during my 'exit interview' will testify that no harassment took place.  I would hate to believe that this other individual would have such little back bone but it is possible because my employer is very intimidating and has 'made' the partner very successful at a young age.
He is threatening counter suit with what could only be fabricated stories but he sues people often and I think actually enjoys the thrill of the fight.  This is tearing my nerves up and I just want to get on with my life and not waste my days with this unproductive stress.
Are there law firms that will take the case based on what legal fees they may collect from him.  It's not worth my two weeks check to have thousands spent fighting the untrue allegations of this individual but I'm wanting to also hold my head up and know I stood my ground for the right thing.
Have you ever heard of another situation like this and if so, the outcome?

Answer
If the company is willing to intimidate people into lying for him it is not a good situation. I think to get it over and for piece of mind you might be better off to either take it to small claims court or to just file a complaint with the DOL and take the minimum wage for the two weeks. At least you would get paid something.

It appears that he is going to hold your wages until you sign his agreement or until the DOL forces him to pay. The reason they can only get minimum wage is because that is all that is guaranteed by the FLSA.

I have heard of these types of cases and almost always the Department of Labor gets the employee paid. I think in Florida they are not so much help.

shirley

Employment Law

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Shirley McAllister, CPP, PHR

Expertise

I can answer questions about payroll laws and payroll tax laws and Human Resource laws and agencies. I can answer federal payroll and human resource law questions and most states; I do not have a knowledge of the local taxes for cities and counties within the state. If and when I can I will try and send you the website where you can reference the answer and where you can obtain more information as well as a contact number if needed for that particular agency. Some agencies I have worked with are IRS, Department of Labor (federal and state), Revenue Canada (and provincial governments), Inland Revenue, OSHA (0ccupational Safety and Health Administration); Social Security Administration and National Child Support as well as other agencies in Payroll and Human Resources. Some Laws I am particularly familiar with are FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act), ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act), FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act ) , QDRO's, QMCSO's, and other support orders and garnishments, USERRA (Uniformed Services Employment and Remployment Rights Act,PPA Act (Pension Protection Act of 2006, As well as most other employment type acts. I am also well versed in the Title V Civil Rights Act and the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

Experience

30 years in Payroll and Human Resources

Organizations
SHRM (Society of Human Resources) APA (American Payroll Association) DOLEA (Department of Labor Employers Association) CPA (Canadian Payroll Association) NAPW (National Association of Professional Women) The Mentoring Network

Education/Credentials
PHR Certification in Human Resources CPP Certification in Payroll in U.S. Payroll Administrator and Payroll Supervisor certification in Canada

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