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Legal issues for firing employees

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by Red Shed Landscaping, Sep 23, 2013.

  1. Red Shed Landscaping

    Red Shed Landscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 183

    Not sure if you guys want to read about more employee problems but this is a new one for me and needed to see if you had come across this situation before.

    I just fired my only employee. He has many days that didn't come to work and has showed up late many days as well. This last week he didn't come in on Wednesday when it was sprinkling and had told him I would let him know if we weren't working and I never said anything about not working because we could work around the shop. He knew I was going to be gone on Thursday for a funeral so we weren't working. Then on Friday I text him at 8am (starting time) to ask him if he was almost to the shop, he says he is trying to find a ride. I say ok and that it would've been appreciated that you let me know in advanced that you are going to be late or can't make it to work. After that text I never heard a thing from him and he didn't show or call on Saturday until tonight (Sunday) asking me to help him off is roof (didn't answer his call because its Sunday and was with my family doing family things). He lives in another town about 30 minutes away.

    I fired him for the reason for not showing up or calling in for two days in a row and making the business look bad since I had to call the people and tell them I wouldn't be able to make it to their place that day. He then pulls the "I'm going to sue" card. Says he is going to sue me for not filing a workman's comp claim. I had never heard anything about him being hurt and worked next to him the entire time. Says he has the paperwork from the doctor saying he can't work for two weeks but is begging me to keep his job and wanting to work a few minutes earlier. Kept saying he can't believe I would fire someone who has been hurt on the job. I made it clear he never brought it to my attention that he was hurt and that he is being fired for not showing up.

    Not sure if he is going to go through with it but has anyone been sued for things like this?

    He also says he was going to some of the customers we worked for them to be witnesses saying that he lifted heavy things which threw out is back. Is there any law that I could use to prevent him from harassing my customers? I am more concerned about the customers and getting them involved in a stupid situation.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2013
  2. easy-lift guy

    easy-lift guy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,372

    I believe extortion,black mail are still illegal in most parts of this country. Based on what I have read it seems like he is trying to shake you down. Gather all your records and have a meeting with your attorney. You may need to file a criminal complaint against your x employee as well depending on the advise provided to you by council. You might want to consider back ground checks for all future hirers as a preventive measure against this occurrence in the future.
    easy-lift guy

    Messages: 1,343

    If I were you...
    1) did you document any of the tardiness or no shows?
    2) did you have employee sign any warnings prior to dismissal?
    3)do you have any type of handbook or written policy posted on these items?

    The problem we as employers have at times is that we do not have these steps to termination in place for employees.
    As far as his comp claim I would have a meeting with him and ask him to bring all his materials from doctor, hospitAl etc.

    Do not be emotional! Business has nothing to do with your feelings.
    Good luck, stay cool, and follow through.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  4. GreenLight

    GreenLight LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 525

    If im reading this correctly, he leaves you a voicemail asking for help getting off his roof. Im certainly not an attorney, but I would imagine that would certainly hurt his case. He is too injured to come to work, yet plenty healthy enough to get on his roof and work?
  5. Red Shed Landscaping

    Red Shed Landscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 183

    I have kept a file of all the days he was late and didn't show up for work with the reasons. Also have lots of text messages for proof.

    He was given the employee handbook and kept claim he was following everything in it. It says that 2 no show/no calls is termination (no exception). Also mentions some reasons to get fired and persistent attendance issues is one of them. Not to mention breaking the cell phone policy every day as well.

    I gave him a verbal warning about a week and a half ago about being late almost everyday and never letting me know that he would be late. I said he had one more chance now he blew it. He was begging before all this went down to give him one more chance and I kept saying no so he got mad and started threatening to sue and bad mouth my business/reputation.
  6. easy-lift guy

    easy-lift guy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,372

    Sharing the blame or responsibility comes to mind when I read the same line about being stuck on a roof. I hope the OP gets in touch with his attorney sooner than later.
    easy-lift guy
  7. Red Shed Landscaping

    Red Shed Landscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 183

    He left me a 2 messages saying its a emergency and to call him back. I was at a family function so I wasn't able to call or text until later in the evening. When I did respond to ask him what was it that he wanted he then says he was on his roof and that his neighbor got him off his roof and that he didn't know it was that bad that I couldn't pick up the phone for 30 seconds to call somebody and that I was taking it out on him because he didn't come to work Friday and that he asked me for a ride. He did say he was looking for a ride so no he didn't ask me for a ride. Later on he admits he didn't come to work on Friday because he was mad at me since I told him to let me know if was going to be late or not come in.

    He wanted to work on the Thursday when I wasn't around but not any of the days we were suppose to work. He also seemed very capable of working the days he was there and didn't mention he got hurt. I told him I can't file a claim if he doesn't tell me
  8. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,602

    Dude, this thread can end right here.

    Suing people requires a lawyer.

    Lawyers require thousands of dollars up front.

    Your $10 per hr employee ain't gonna be suing no one.

    He won't spend $5k in upfront atty fees for his $15k per year job.

    It's not gonna happen.

    That's just like these non-compete agreements. No landscape contractor is gonna shell out $7k in atty fees to go after a former employee for jumping ship. Even if the contractor wins the suit - that doesn't mean the former employee will ever be able to pay the judgement.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  9. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,602

    Also, you have the text messages as proof.

    Forget about the guy and move on.

    And if you increase the pay for your helpers - you may find better people. You get what you pay for.

    And don't use texting as a way to communicate with workers. I CALL MY GUYS. ON THE TELEPHONE.

    Posted via Mobile Device
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2013
  10. easy-lift guy

    easy-lift guy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,372

    Suing anyone does not and never has required a lawyer.

    Lawyers do not require thousands of dollars up front

    I believe your correct about this employee suing the OP.

    However the former employee of the OP just may contact a no fee attorney service to settle out of court, hence my suggestion for the OP to contact his attorney now.

    Judgements can and do have long standing when it comes to settlements.
    I know of some judgements that have prevented some sales of real property from never taking place until said judgement has been satisfied.
    easy-lift guy

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