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Andrea, Esq.
Andrea, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 11710
Experience:  25 yrs. of experience in employment law, real estate and business law, family law, criminal defense and immigration.
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Hello, I have a serious situation on my hands, but need

Customer Question

Hello,

I have a serious situation on my hands, but need quick advice as to whether or not to appear before a former employers attorney--without my own--Monday morning.

I have been a 1099 contractor (sales and marketing) to a drug development lab (pharmaceutical companies outsource much of their development work to outside labs) for 12 years, with a one year break to work at another lab. I returned two years ago. I tried to cut-and-paste my 4 page contract below, but there's not enough room. You may want to read it, but here's what happened.

We (the company and myself) had worked to get a contract to develop a drug for a university researcher who is working under a large (over $20M) grant from both state and federal agencies. We did everything we had to and then some to get it (we not only quoted, but consulted and wrote study protocols, neither of which generally happen unless under contract). The researcher (grantee) had a consultant, someone known to us as he had placed other clients studies with our lab in the past. We thought we had a good relationship with him and that he would recommend us to the grantee.

Fast forward: apparently the academic decided to put the work out to bid, though we were actively negotiating a contract. I tried to save this account, but couldn't.

Last Wednesday, my boss (not really a boss, as I'm a contractor, but I'll call her my boss) emailed and asked me what % kickback--yes, kickback--we'd have to pay the grantees consultant in order to win the bid. Its not unusual for these contractors to be paid a consulting fee by the pharmaceutical company, then ask every vendor for whatever % in order to use said vendors services. I need to mention, at this point, that our lab was conducting a study for another client of this consultant and the study failed (we may have killed some test rats--an unfortunate occurrence but it happens). The consultant already didn't like my boss, but this study failure (we sell research, a "study" and our work product is a research report). He was angry and, though I was not the sales manager for this particular account, called me to complain and to somehow reach my boss. He did mention that, given, our labs performance, he couldn't recommend us for the big contract in questions, the one that's grant funded.

So, back to my boss contacting me about this consultant last Wednesday. Apparently, she had sic'ed her lawyer on the grantee--with some success: they were negotiating, unknown to me, to finalize a contract when apparently the consultant intervened and the negotiations blow up last Wednesday, hence my boss asking me what % it would take to get the consultant to back down and recommend us.

I wrote back to her that the consultant, thanks to killing his other clients rats meant that he was through with us. My boss wrote back asking, "So how come you know so much about this?". The answer is that he was my interlocutor for the grant-funded study plus he called to complain about the dead rats belonging to his other client--not my account. My company email was immediately cut off and I got this via my Gmail account:

"Taylor (that's me), our relationship is over. You are terminated. Your computer has been turned off and you are no longer a sales manager for XXX. Jack (business manager) will work with you in this regard."

It didn't end there.

Because my boss was furious that she lost the grant funded study ($3M worth of rat and dog studies), and later that day wrote this:

"You are involved with consultant (I'm redacting here) in some sort of unseemly way that is harming (the company I worked for and me. consultants behavior at the (dead rat company follow-up) meeting, plus his behavior with (the scientist who directed the study--that's how it works) while we were at (a trade show) was shocking and disturbing and he was there to trash our relationship with (dead rat company) and then immediately to trash our delicately reestablished relationship with (grantee). (Consultant)called me a liar, a crook and incompetent in front of (dead rat study company) and then said worse things to (our VP) and made an obscene gesture (our VP) in front of the client. He lied to (dead rat study company) and told them he did not know us and had never been to our place."

I wrote back denying any connection to or knowledge of these ruined negotiations between my employer and the grantee--my boss knows I didn't know about it. She then wrote:

"There is a financial collusion between you and (consultant)"

Here's my foremost problem: my boss then wrote and asked if I would speak with her attorney and be debriefed about all my contacts with the consultant! Ever hear the word "chutzpa"? Her lawyer called and said the we should meet this Monday to discuss the terms of my reengagement with my boss. I believe they just want information.I have no lawyer and no idea what to do. Do I go into the meeting Monday?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Andrea, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hello and Welcome to JustAnswer, My name is XXXXX XXXXX my goal is to provided you with Excellent Service,

 

I am sorry to hear of all that you are being subjected to based on the erroneous assumptions of your "boss"

 

I have to agree with you that all they want is information, however, you can use this meeting to your benefit.

 

1. What would you like to see come out of this meeting ?

 

2. Do you want to continue with this company ?

 

3. If so, for how long ?

 

4. If you do not want to continue with this company, what would you like ?

 

If you tell me what you want, I can possibly give you the steps to follow to make it happen and end favorably for you,

 

Thank you,

 

ANDREA

 

 

 

 

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Andrea,

 

Thanks. There's what I want and what I need.

 

First, its easier to get a job when you already have. I need this job back to enable me to get another. So, I want my job back. However:

 

I was falsely accused of collusion--perhaps a crime on my part. If anyone ever calls them to ask if I worked there, they may have ways to imply I shouldn't be hired.

 

I not only need this job back, but I need to be clearly absolved of any wrong doing.

How long do I want to work for them? As long as it takes for me to find something else. I am actively interviewing now, but in this job market and with only an AA degree in the pharmaceutical industry, I could be looking for a long time.

 

There's also the issue of my boss asking me, in email, to querry the consultant about a kick-back. I've never done this before; never had to or even tried. She's asking me to offer a kikckback to get a study paid for by a state grant? You've heard of Qui Tam, right? I need to be very careful here.

 

If I don't get the job, I want the commission owed--not much, about $5K. More than that, I need to ensure some recourse if they tarnish my name, especially when people call to ask if I worked there. As long as I'm working for them, I can deny a prospective employer the right to speak with my current employer. If they are not my current employer and I tell a prospective employer they cant call, I'm telling them I have something to hide.

 

As you say, they just want to plug for information Monday morning. I spoke to their attorney Friday to arrange a Monday meeting and made clear that only subject under discussion was my re-engagement. They will get me in there and badger me for information.

 

Yes, do tell me what to do to get my job back, first, then they can plug for information. If I cant the job back, how do I protect myself? BTW, the terms of my contract state that I get 30 days notice of termination or 15 days to remedy any situation if I am in breach.

 

Thanks

 

 

 

Expert:  Andrea, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hi, Rivka, Thank you for your additional information,

 

I see we are on the same page because you did the right thing in telling the attorney that the meeting will be limited to discussing your re-engagement. If there is one thing you should remember in life is that you should never be known as someone who bluffs. If you say you will do something, always follow through, no matter how difficult it is. Otherwise, people will say, "Don't worry, they'll come around, this is only a bluff".

 

Make an agenda for the meeting:

 

1. Hire you back either as an Independent Contractor or an employee;

2. Your association, or employment relationship with the company should be in writing, no "ifs, ands, or buts, Period". If they give you any difficulty, just politely say something like,

 

"Thank you for your time. These are my basic requirements; if we cannot agree on something so basic, I won't waste any of your time, or mine. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX the courtesy of meeting with me"

 

Then say, Good-bye and leave. Remember, they think you have a lot of information they need. You haven't discussed anything with the consultant, but that's only for you to know. The attorney will have a lot of explaining to do to your "boss", if you get up and leave without giving any information;

 

3.If the attorney agrees to a written agreement between you and the company (Or, written employment Agreement), tell the attorney for how many years (1,2,3, whatever);

 

4. Increase the percentage of your commission;

 

5. ***Definitely include a provision that you cannot be terminated, except for -

List one reason which is very, very unlikely to happen such as,

 

"This Agreement shall terminated on the (First, Second, Third, etc. your choice) anniversary of the date of its execution by all parties to this Agreement. ( Company) shall have the right to terminate this agreement only on if (You ) is convicted of a crime classified as a felony in this State, and for no other reason" felony crime

 

6. "By signing this Agreement ( Your "boss" ) admits that ( You ) did not engage in any collusion, over or covert with anyone, including any outside or inside consultant

 

You get the idea. Just make a list of what you want and go down the list during the meeting. Include some items which you really do not care about so that you can "give them up 'in the spirit of negotiations' ". Remember to include a good recommendation on things which must be included in the written Agreement.

 

Do not, under any circumstances, say anything they want to know until the Agreement is signed and witnessed. Don't let them say that you can tell them what you know while the Agreement is written up. If you do say anything, you will never see that Agreement in writing, trust me. When you get a copy of the written Agreement, review it before signing and have your check list with you so that you can be sure that they included all your demands.

 

If they do not want to sign a written Agreement, then right before you thank them for their time, remind them that they did not give you any notice, but simply summarily terminated the association you had. Also, remind them that the accusations made by your boss are totally false and if they repeat them to any prospective employer, they will constitute slander and if they write to a prospective employer and include those false accusations, they will constitute libel. Say, you hope that it does not come to that, but if it does, they will have forced you into filing a lawsuit for defamation of character.

 

Do not ever raise the issue of kickbacks she asked you to offer. That will be your Ace. Keep it hidden for now, save it for when you really, really need it against them and specifically against your "boss".

__________________________________________________________________________



Please be kind enough to rate "Excellent Service" so that I receive credit

for assisting you,

 

 

Bonus and Positive Feedback on survey is very much appreciated,

 

 

 

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be of assistance,

 

 

ANDREA

 

 

 

 

If they do not agree to

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX point, and it may not matter, but my boss and her husband, the VP, (ever work for a husband-wife team? Don't.) will both be there. I don't see why I should handle this any differently due to that fact, but I'll let you tell me.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

BTW, I just noticed that your reply to me seemed to be clipped under the VERY bottom of your reply, after your "Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be of assistance:

 

"....If they do not agree to..." and that was it.

Expert:  Andrea, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hi, Rivka,

 

The "...if they do not agree........." was part of the sentence I was writing at the very beginning, but then reworded it. I thought I had deleted that part. No big deal, nothing was cut off.

 

You are right about husband and wife teams. I have never worked for a H-W team, but I have heard horror stories. The employee has no "safe haven" because if they are getting along, it is two against one; if they are in "argument mode", each wants to claim the employee is siding with them. You cannot side with either one because any choice an employee makes will be the wrong choice.

 

And, by the way, I know the expression, "chutzpa" very well. Your "boss" is the epitome of chutzpa. You must show, and will show, chutzpa when you make your demands, especially when asking for an increase in the percentage you are paid in commissions.

 

It should not make any difference that her husband will be sitting in on the meeting. The important thing to remember is to be confident. Not just act confident, actually be confident. I really believe that we send out vibes that another person can pick up. I am not telling you to be arrogant or disrespectful. Be yourself and be "respectfully assertive". Keep in mind that you were wronged by this person; she falsely accused you and now she needs your information. She made unfounded assumptions. She was angry about the possibility of losing the contract and took her anger and frustrations out on you. We all have problems, some setbacks now and then, some bad days, but, this does not give us license to beat up on others simply because we can because we are in a position of authority.

 

Go into the meeting cool, calm and collected and confident. Go in there knowing that there is another job, a better job, waiting for you, right around the corner which is just waiting for you to come and accept it. What you will demand is everything that you deserve. If they do not accept, it is completely their loss. You have worked for the company long enough for them to recognize your worth. If they haven't recognized your worth, by now, then it's time to sever your ties with them, anyway. Remember, they need you, you do not need them. Please rate my service to you so that I can receive credit for assisting you. It will not cost you anything extra. Without a customer rating me, I receive no credit for helping you. Thank you for understanding,

 

__________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

Please be kind enough to rate "Excellent Service" so that I receive credit

for assisting you,

 

 

Bonus and Positive Feedback on survey is very much appreciated,

 

 

 

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be of assistance,

 

 

ANDREA

 

 

 

Andrea, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 11710
Experience: 25 yrs. of experience in employment law, real estate and business law, family law, criminal defense and immigration.
Andrea, Esq. and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks, Andrea!
Expert:  Andrea, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

You are very welcome, Thank you for accepting my Answer.

 

I am sincerely XXXXX XXXXX the outcome, Please let me know how everything goes. If you have any further concerns or have questions in the future, please feel free to ask for me by typing my name at the beginning of your question like this,

 

"For Andrea .........."

Thank you once again for allowing me the opportunity to be of assistance,

ANDREA

 

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