California Employment Law

Have California Employment Law Questions? Ask a Lawyer.

Ask a Lawyer,
Get an Answer ASAP!

California Employment Law
This answer was rated:

Thank you for your recent advise on how best to handle our…

Thank you for your recent...
Thank you for your recent advise on how best to handle our disgruntled ex-employee. There are a few points that I would like clarified:
To recap the basis of our original question: Our employee was the manager of our shop workers. He was being paid generously for his services and in 2013 my dad had verbally told him that our company would pay him a bonus of 10% of the profit of the company (after expenses, salaries and owner’s equity were taken out) for the year. Since my dad is not an accountant, the 10% was not an easily definable amount. Consequently, in 2014 he wrote out a formula that was based on the gross sales of the company. This was the amount that was paid as a bonus to this particular employee over the past three years.
You mentioned in your previous answer that oral contracts were both hard to prove and have a statute of limitation of two years. However, a week ago, I had sent the disgruntled employee a few text messages that might be damaging. So my first question is, are text messages on smart phones recognized by a court of law? If they are not, that is the only question we have. If they are, please respond to the possible implications of the following text message that I sent to this employee. Bare in mind that I was not present when my dad had mentioned the 10% bonus and my dad was at the time the sole owner of the company. Now I am an officer of the company (president) although the company is still 100% owned by my dad. Here’s the text that I sent:“I think the problem is the way you were interpreting ownership and equity. I believe you are thinking that my dad had given you a 10% ownership in the company, and you’re thinking that you are getting screwed because that 10% ownership was never in writing and that all along you have owned 10% of the company. That is not the case, nor was it ever the intention. My dad was offering you 10% of the profit the company made at the end of the year. If we were to have drafted a contract, it would have explicitly stated that, and explicitly said that if you were to ever leave or be fired from the company, you would obviously no longer get the 10% of the profit. Likewise with me, I get 20% of the profit, but if I leave I don’t just continue to draw a paycheck. The profit sharing was intended to make us work harder and to be watchful of saving costs and not spending too much. Never was it ever a thing where for free we were just given equity in the company - that makes no sense.”
When my dad read this text he became concerned that, as an officer of the company (now), that my interpretation of the oral contract (I was not present when the oral contract was made), may have inadvertently committed our company to paying our ex-employee 10% of the profits of the company for the years after 2013. Do you see it that way? Would a judge interpret it that way and is a text message legally binding?
Show More
Show Less
Ask Your Own California Employment Law Question
Answered in 30 minutes by:
11/7/2017
socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 39,578
Experience: Retired
Verified

Hello again...you asked:

So my first question is, are text messages on smart phones recognized by a court of law?

A: Yes, a text message is admissible evidence, provided it can be proved to have been sent by the opposing party (you).

If they are not, that is the only question we have. If they are, please respond to the possible implications of the following text message that I sent to this employee. Bare in mind that I was not present when my dad had mentioned the 10% bonus and my dad was at the time the sole owner of the company. Now I am an officer of the company (president) although the company is still 100% owned by my dad. Here’s the text that I sent:

“I think the problem is the way you were interpreting ownership and equity. I believe you are thinking that my dad had given you a 10% ownership in the company, and you’re thinking that you are getting screwed because that 10% ownership was never in writing and that all along you have owned 10% of the company. That is not the case, nor was it ever the intention. My dad was offering you 10% of the profit the company made at the end of the year. If we were to have drafted a contract, it would have explicitly stated that, and explicitly said that if you were to ever leave or be fired from the company, you would obviously no longer get the 10% of the profit. Likewise with me, I get 20% of the profit, but if I leave I don’t just continue to draw a paycheck. The profit sharing was intended to make us work harder and to be watchful of saving costs and not spending too much. Never was it ever a thing where for free we were just given equity in the company - that makes no sense.”

When my dad read this text he became concerned that, as an officer of the company (now), that my interpretation of the oral contract (I was not present when the oral contract was made), may have inadvertently committed our company to paying our ex-employee 10% of the profits of the company for the years after 2013. Do you see it that way? Would a judge interpret it that way and is a text message legally binding?

A: The text appears to be an admission that the company would pay the employee 10% of the profits. It doesn't say for how many years, so it's quite possible that it could be interpreted to mean for as long as the employee continues to work for the company.

In the real world, there would likely be a jury, and your lawyer would call your father as a witness to explain his version of the original deal; your employee's lawyer would ask the employee to explain his version, and the jury would decide who's telling the truth. This assumes that there would be no settlement beforehand.

The (rhetorical) question that I have is when did you stop paying the 10%? If it was more than 2 years ago, then the statute of limitations has probably expired. Though, it could also be argued that the 10% was to be paid as wages, and if so, then the statute of limitations would be three years.

The difference could be very meaningful, because if the claim is made for unpaid wages, then the employee is entitled to attorney's fees and costs of suit -- and that could be a lot of money in addition to the unpaid profits.

On the other hand, there's nothing in your note that suggests any ownership interest in the business -- so, if you terminate the employee, then the "profit-sharing" terminates along with the employment.

In my opinion, your best recourse is to try to get a settlement and release, in exchange for money (which could be made in payments, such as a note payable by the company over time to limit the financial pain), before the employee finds a lawyer and sues or files a wage claim with the labor commissioner (assuming this hasn't already happened).

I hope I've answered your question. Please let me know if you require further clarification. And, please provide a positive feedback rating for my answer (click 3, 4 or 5 stars) -- otherwise, Justanswer retains your entire payment, and I receive nothing for my efforts in your behalf. Note: If you cannot find the rating button on your webpage, please just type in your rating in a response to this note, and customer service will apply the rating for you.

Thanks again for using Justanswer!

socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 39,578
Experience: Retired
Verified
socrateaser and 87 other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Ask your own question now
Ask socrateaser Your Own Question
socrateaser
socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 39,578
39,578 Satisfied Customers
Experience: Retired

socrateaser is online now

A new question is answered every 9 seconds

How JustAnswer works:

  • Ask an ExpertExperts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional AnswerVia email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction GuaranteeRate the answer you receive.

JustAnswer in the News:

Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.

What Customers are Saying:

Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises!

Gary B.Edmond, OK

My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer.

EricRedwood City, CA

I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight.

MichaelWichita, KS

PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent.

Three H.Houston, TX

Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!!

ElaineAtlanta, GA

It worked great. I had the facts and I presented them to my ex-landlord and she folded and returned my deposit. The 50 bucks I spent with you solved my problem.

TonyApopka, FL

Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help.

Mary C.Freshfield, Liverpool, UK

< Previous | Next >

Meet the Experts:

LawTalk

LawTalk

Attorney

1,285 satisfied customers

I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.

Tina

Tina

Attorney

923 satisfied customers

JD, 17 years experience & recognized by ABA for excellence in employment law.

Brandon, Esq.

Brandon, Esq.

Lawyer

348 satisfied customers

Has received a certificate of recognition from the California State Senate for his outstanding legal service.

melissamesq

melissamesq

Attorney

47 satisfied customers

Represent clients to maximum recovery in employment cases.

legalg

legalg

Other

35 satisfied customers

General Practitioner. Research Attorney

Roy Hadavi

Roy Hadavi

11 satisfied customers

Attorney at Law Offices of Rosenstein & Associates

Attorney2020

Attorney2020

Lawyer.

69 satisfied customers

I have significant experience in employment law.

< Previous | Next >

Related California Employment Law Questions
My son was fired from his company without being told then
My son was fired from his company without being told then they revoked his privileges and stranded him on the island. We were in Ohau when his supervisor called but did not tell him he couldn't get ba… read more
Olivia Kent
Olivia Kent
Managing Partner
Doctoral Degree
2,165 satisfied customers
Hourly employee states they were never provided with a work
Hourly employee states they were never provided with a work phone yet was required to use their personal phone to communicate with supervisor and navigate to work sites. Thus, the employer owes reimbu… read more
legalg
legalg
Other
Juris Doctorate
35 satisfied customers
I have a settlement agreement with my former employer. My
Second opinion] I have a settlement agreement with my former employer. My ex- employer was supposed to remove an investigation out of my personnel file and they have continued to release this informat… read more
Phillips Esq.
Phillips Esq.
MBA
18,626 satisfied customers
I have type 2 diabetes and am on injectable insulin daily.
I have type 2 diabetes and am on injectable insulin daily. Consequently I have problems with my size and weight (6'4" 289 pounds) and can't lose weight due to all the medications I'm on.I wear big and… read more
LegalPro54
LegalPro54
Doctoral Degree
1,258 satisfied customers
How much unemployment is due if I'm fired and have been
How much unemployment is due if I'm fired and have been making $18/hour? Schedule has been for 40 hours, but due to illness haven't been in last 2 weeks. Only 1 employee. They are asking me if my lack… read more
socrateaser
socrateaser
Lawyer
39,578 satisfied customers
Just got off with severance in California. Company is not
Just got laid off with severance in California. Company is not paying the agreed upon severance in full. Now what?… read more
LegalPro54
LegalPro54
Doctoral Degree
1,258 satisfied customers
What is the California labor law if “I” resign my job and my
What is the California labor law if “I” resign my job and my boss interferes with my personal belongings. I have my book of business, & client files (these are my clients from 11 years in my field), n… read more
P. Simmons
P. Simmons
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
35,566 satisfied customers
My boss has kept me in the conference room waiting for 2
My boss has kept me in the conference room waiting for 2 hours. He stated he wanted to meet with me but has not informed me why. This morning when I came into work the locks on door were changed and I… read more
LegalPro54
LegalPro54
Doctoral Degree
1,258 satisfied customers
The caregiver i hires though an agency is quitting today (
The caregiver i hires though an agency is quitting today ( she does not like the company . She is back in one month and wants to work for me directly. I would like to hire her and found a company to h… read more
socrateaser
socrateaser
Lawyer
39,578 satisfied customers
Can employer deny me training after I applied for the job
can employer deny me training after I applied for the job applied past on hands and written. They denied me taking test on working hrs other internals did take the in their working shift.im a advocate… read more
Olivia Kent
Olivia Kent
Managing Partner
Doctoral Degree
2,165 satisfied customers
How can am employee be fired from state civil service
how can am employee be fired from state civil service employer, as a victim of a battery, from a ill willed citizen"s complaint? … read more
Olivia Kent
Olivia Kent
Managing Partner
Doctoral Degree
2,165 satisfied customers
I have an employment law question: I was off on this past
I have an employment law question:I was laid off on this past Friday, February 9th after returning from maternity leave without notice, after having returned the work this past Monday, February 5th. (… read more
LegalPro54
LegalPro54
Doctoral Degree
1,258 satisfied customers
We have a preschool for 150 students and 33 employees in
we have a preschool for 150 students and 33 employees in California. We give 2 x 10 min breaks and a 1 hour lunch to all employees. Work day is 8-5. However since the children take a nap from 1-3 pm o… read more
Roy Hadavi
Roy Hadavi
Juris Doctorate
11 satisfied customers
I was agiventhe right to sue from DFEH against some of my
I was agiventhe right to sue from DFEH against some of my supervisor/management.I am a reg.nurse working with the CDCRCalif department of rehabilitation( Prison). … read more
N Cal Atty
N Cal Atty
Doctoral Degree
59 satisfied customers
My understanding of current CA employment law is that
My understanding of current CA employment law is that employees must take a 10 minute break after 4 continuous hours of work and they are paid for that time. We have some production workers that norma… read more
Roy Hadavi
Roy Hadavi
Juris Doctorate
11 satisfied customers
2017/2018 Employer does not require, nor state for an hourly
2017/2018 Employer does not require, nor state for an hourly employee to use their personal cell phone for work or work related communication. Employer verbally tells hourly employees in interview you… read more
Roy Hadavi
Roy Hadavi
Juris Doctorate
11 satisfied customers
Daughter is being fired after missing work for being sick.
Daughter is being fired after missing work for being sick. Will she need a doctor's note to apply for unemployment?… read more
LegalPro54
LegalPro54
Doctoral Degree
1,258 satisfied customers
I have a supervisor who has issues with me and I don't know
Second opinion] I have a supervisor who has issues with me and I don't know why? I feel she is on a withhunt to get rid of me. On Friday I was called into her office with the CFO present and was told … read more
LegalPro54
LegalPro54
Doctoral Degree
1,258 satisfied customers

DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.

The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.

The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

Show MoreShow Less

Ask Your Question

x