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socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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My husband (a U.S. citizen) is a business development expert

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My husband (a U.S. citizen) is a business development expert for renewable energy projects outside of the U.S. Last year, he was hired by a company in Sweden for an upper management position, signed an employment contract which also included a non-compete agreement. The company also agreed to pay for a health insurance plan. Two weeks after hiring, the CEO claimed that "funding" was delayed but eminent, and told him that he should be patient. The contract clearly stated he could not work for anyone else. During this time, the company (CEO and COO) used his name and position on investor documents to attract new investors and funding. Also, he was asked to provide detailed information and financial projections that were used for investor documents. He was assured that funding was in the wings almost weekly, but something always came up. Furthermore, the company moved the headquarters from Sweden (which is where his contract was signed) to Hong Kong. After months of non-payment, my husband severed the relationship. He lost not only the wages for the months he was "employed" by this company, but faced several more months of unemployment as he looked for a new position.

There was another person who was hired at the same time as my husband by this company, with the same experience.

Is there a way we cam try to collect a part of the wages that he is due? The "company" has since been dissolved. (However, some of the principals of this company have since started a new company in another country.) Is it possible to file a formal complaint to the Swedish labor authorities for non-payment of wages and perhaps report the business activities of Swedish principals? I have copies of the all the agreements and documents that he signed, as well as names and addresses of the CEO, COO, and President of the company. When we contacted the COO, he was very reluctant to cooperate in terms of providing any information regarding addresses for us to follow up with legal action.

The true financial status of the company was misrepresented from the beginning, and it appears that he was intentionally "misled" to prevent him from working for another company, such as a competitor. This experience caused us immense financial harm.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  socrateaser replied 1 year ago.
Hello,

While your husband was employed, did he ever actually perform any labor, or was it really just his goodwill that the business was using?

And, from which U.S. jurisdiction was your husband induced to travel to Sweden (i.e., where do you permanently reside)?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

As I explained in my original post, he was asked to prepare and provide detailed information, reports, and financial projections on an ongoing basis while "employed." He received no compensation for his time.


 


We live in California and are U.S. citizens.

Expert:  socrateaser replied 1 year ago.
Okay, thanks,

You have a legally colorable claim of fraud, which could be brought in a court located wherever you can find the defendants (allegedly Hong Kong). The Hong Kong courts are actually fairly strong when it comes to business law, so I wouldn't be afraid of suing in that jurisdiction.

Theoretically, you could sue in U.S. Federal District court (assuming that you could prove more than $75,000 in damages) -- or a California State Superior Court, regardless of damages -- based upon the theory that the defendants induced your husband to leave California based upon a false promise. But, reaching the defendants' assets could be difficult -- you could have a judgment and no way to collect.

Suing in Sweden seems a waste of time, because no one is in the jurisdiction any longer -- and probably, neither are any assets.

If it were me, and I were absolutely determined to sue, and I knew where the defendants are located, I would see how much a Hong Kong law firm would charge to take the case, and then compare it to what a California firm would charge. There's also the cost of travel, which is nontrivial -- but for most civil cases, it's unnecessary for the plaintiff to show up in court except at trial.

Unfortunately, there is no way to bring any government action here. I don't see the Swedish government going after a defendant who has left the country on behalf of a plaintiff who isn't a resident of Sweden. It's just not a very interesting case for a bureaucrat to try to justify to his/her superiors.

If you need a list of Hong Kong or California law firms, please let me know.

Hope this helps.
socrateaser, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 33377
Experience: Retired (mostly)
socrateaser and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I'm sorry I didn't make this clear — all of the people who were involved in this company are Swedish, and are currently residents of Sweden. For whatever reason, they headquartered the business in Hong Kong for a brief time, apparently to look like a "global" business development company. However, the company is no longer operating under that name.


 


All of the contracts were drawn up in Sweden and signed by a Swedish attorney.


 


As I understand it, Sweden has very strict employment laws. As a result of his employment contract and the non-compete agreement (which my husband honored), the unpaid wages, benefits, and promised bonuses far exceed $75,000. A judgment would at least expose the business activities and track record of these business men. It seems that the Swedish Trade Council and potential investors would also be very interested about these past business activities and are continuing to do under a new business name.

Expert:  socrateaser replied 1 year ago.
Hello again,

Section 1of the Sweden Employment Protection Act provides: "This Act applies to both public and private employees. The following persons, however, are excluded from the application of this Act: 1. Employees whose duties and conditions of employment are such that they may be deemed to occupy a managerial or comparable position;"

From the above-quoted languge, you can immediately see the problem your husband confronts: the law that would ordinarily protect him does not apply because he was a manager.

Consequently, he needs to hire a lawyer and sue. If the defendants are located in Sweden, the your husband could sue in Sweden. I believe that he may also be able to sue in California, because from what you have described, the entire employment contract was a false promise, and consequently as the putative employer reached out to him in California, the employer submitted to jurisdiction in the USA to resolve a claim of fraud against a California resident. Enforcement would naturally need to be in Sweden, but forcing the defendants to travel to California to defend could provide a large advantage.

Regardless, the recourse is not to be found in Swedish statutory law -- but rather in the more common law actions available to remedy a wrongful act committed against your husband -- i.e., fraud.

Once again, if you need a list of attorneys in the USA or Sweden, please let me know.

Hope this helps.

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