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I have purchased an instrument (X-ray powder diffractometer,

I have purchased an...

I have purchased an instrument (X-ray powder diffractometer, 49,000$) which the property of the company I started, and is located in a university laboratory.
I would like to know how my situation is from the legal point of view, since I was offered (by email and verbally) a job title of self-supported research professor by the chair of the chemistry department of that university. The instrument would not be donated and it would be used to charge fees to external users for services involving the instrument through their administrative system. I would be paid through those fees. The instrument is installed there, however last time the chair emailed me my appointment was as visiting scholar (implies no salary, only the right to use ODU laboratories, and ODU keeping his sovereign immunity). I did not sign that paperwork either. So, at present, my instrument is at ODU but I am not appointed as discussed with the chair. I am working at home.
It happens a professor of physics (with tenure) with another instrument in the same room at COSMIC lab complained with the dean or something like that, because he does not want my instrument in the same room. I believe my chair is stuck in a power game with this professor and probably cannot yet offer the self-supported research professor appointment he told me ODU would do. Surely in the meantime nobody can work. This other professor kicked a box with my property in front of me (in a little scandal attack), and another day moved a box with sample holders on top of my instrument, from where it could have fallen and things could have been broken.
I believe since he is a prof. at ODU with tenure, I can not even sue him for breaking my 49,000$ instrument, if he does that, since I am not yet appointed at ODU. Is this correct?

Lawyer's Assistant: What state are you in? It matters because laws vary by location.

VA, sorry I did not finish to edit the message.

Lawyer's Assistant: What steps have you taken so far?

I am in my house and the instrument is at the university

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

Probably that is all

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
I would like to know what type of contract or use agreement I could request for the use of the diffractometer and for maintenance (which will be probably done by me).
I would like to know if I should be paid by a 1099 form as independent contractor, or through university payroll, with the 'self-supported research professor' title, which I assume is not subjected to FLSA. Is that title legal employment?
Answered in 19 hours by:
3/23/2018
Josie-Mod
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Hi, I'm Josie, a moderator for this topic.
I've noticed you have not yet received a response to this question.
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If you are, please let me know. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.
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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
I prefer to wait for the answer. Thanks,
Silvina
DamienJD
DamienJD, Attorney
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Hello: My name is ***** ***** I am an attorney. Please give me a moment to review your question. I may ask some questions to clarify issues.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Sure. I will be reading the answer soon.

It seems like you have a few questions. The facts are a bit confusing.

Let's attempt to streamline the facts. Let's try a little at a time.

This University is using your company's instrument at University location, is that correct? Are they paying you for the use?

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
No. In January I talked to the chair and the manager of the COSMIC lab about bringing an instrument to be used at the university, but I would keep it as my property. The instrument is installed there already, but is not being used yet.
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
I am not paid by the use, and I am not going to work yet since there is no paper/appointment signed.

Okay. So, your company's instrument is installed at the university but not being used. You have a job offer but you have not been given any paperwork yet. You mention you may either be an independent contractor or an employee but you do not know yet. Is that correct?

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
In addition, last Monday I was instructed to get an ID card under a visitor scholar title which involves no salary and the university keeping sovereign immunity. This means I would be working without a salary or rights until other paperwork is signed. I was not supposed to sign any paper for the visitor scholar either.
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
My situation is very easy to abuse, because there is a professor with tenure who does not want the instrument in the same room with his. While they 'fight' for where is going to be located I am afraid he could even break it in the room where is now. He kicked a box with my materials in front of me and other professor told me 'this has started a war' and asked me for my future appointment. There is an administrative problem that has to be resolved by the dean. I am not paid, not working and my property is locked in a room.

Thanks for the additional information. Are you saying that they gave you a job offer as an adjunct professor or as a professor with pay of course, but now are saying you would be a visiting scholar without pay? You gave your instrument because of the job offer, but now they changed the description of the job. Is that is what is happening? How, long would you have to wait to be paid? Can you take back the instrument if you are afraid it will be damaged? I presume that would cost you money to do so.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Are you saying that they gave you a job offer as an adjunct professor or as a professor with pay of course, but now are saying you would be a visiting scholar without pay? - Yes, but not adjunct the title was self-supported research professor, to be paid through the fees charged by the university for services using the instrument.
The description of the job has changed, but they did not require to sign paperwork for the new job title either.
I do not know how much I have to wait to be paid, it depends on the dean and the administration, I have no control on that. I can take the instrument if I am afraid it will be damaged, but I have to notify them somehow. I may not cost money, the installation by an engineer at their place cost money, paid by me and done following the instructions of the chair, who verbally promised this job title of self-supported research scientist.

This sounds a bit like what is called fraudulent inducement. This meaning telling someone something that is not true so they will enter into a contract or an agreement.

What questions may you have? I know you stated them initially.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
I have the understanding they are working toward offering me some job, and that may happen next week, but at the same time it may be the chair just took a chance in replacing the self-supported research professor by volunteer work. I am not sure whether the self-supported research scientist is legal employment, pay as independent contractor (1099 form) or subjected to FLSA. I have not seen the obligations and rights of such position. Yesterday, they told me that the job title could be other now.
Customer reply replied 3 months ago
They mentioned adjunct professor with non-teaching duties; and research professor.

I suppose this is a wait and see situation since you do not know the details of what will be the offer. However, it does sound like the offer has been modified. As I mentioned, when someone gets a job offer and the spec of the offer change almost immediately, the prospective worker could have a claim against the employer.

We can discuss this more if you want to do so.

If you have further questions or you need further assistance, just let me know.

If not, please remember to rate my answer between 3 to 5 stars without any additional costs to you. That is how I get credit for answering your question. Best regards.

DamienJD
DamienJD, Attorney
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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Sure, one question is that this offer was not in writing (or maybe as SSRP in an email) standing for self-supported research professor, which at some point was confused by one future boss with self-supported research professional, after I asked about FLSA. Is this necessary to have the offer in writing, other than email?
Customer reply replied 3 months ago
The claim is against ODU which has sovereign immunity, correct? The Dept. of Labor has lots of complaints and is not likely to investigate it.

It is not necessary to have the offer in a letter other than an email, although a letter is better to have. Sovereign Immunity could be used as a defense but it could depend on the specific facts of each case also.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Thanks.

You are welcome.

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