Deadbeat Employer Bullies – Deadbeat Clients. How to get the money they owe you. Dr. Joyce Starr on RightsRadio.com – September 2, 2010.
What happened to Emily could happen to you. Emily is a 40-something professional with an outstanding resume. Unfortunately, the company she worked for went belly-up.
Employees were fired without notice, and Emily was still owed four hundred dollars. She was instructed to work when they knew they couldn’t pay. Four hundred is not a huge sum, but Emily believes that every dollar is worth fighting for. The new “president” (small p – mercurial, 35 and a former part-time worker) had promised to pay. Emily sent emails. He wrote back pleading poverty. But her final email got his attention. Emily wrote:
“Three months have passed since you last promised delivery of a check in the sum of $400 for work undertaken for your company.
“This is abusive behavior. You should realize that your own self-interest is served by honoring this debt.
“As for any future association with your company, thanks but no thanks.”
The president called her within five minutes. He stated, “We’ll settle on Tuesday. Come to our new office on the second floor. We want you to sign a release letter.” The address was an upscale neighborhood. If the company had money for a new office in a great location, why didn’t they paid her during the intervening months?
Taking no chances, Emily confirmed the date and location by email while still on the call.
Warning Sign: The president then told her to meet him in the front of the building, rather than in the new office .
Bizarre, but Emily wanted her money. Perhaps the new office was tiny, and he didn’t want her to see it.
Here’s what transpired.
Emily arrived at the front of the building at the appointed hour to collect her overdue check. She waited, and waited…and waited. No president. She tried entering the building. The company’s name wasn’t listed, and there was no way to gain entry without a code. She phoned numerous companies listed on the door. No one answered.
Finally, after 20 minutes of pacing and dialing, one of the ground-level tenants let her into the building. The “restructured” company didn’t appear on the paper roster taped to the first floor wall. She took the elevator to the second floor and asked those she encountered if they knew the company. Nada. By now, she was upset and angry – feeling utterly abused by the situation and all players involved. That’s when she chanced on a sign with the company name.
She opened the door and saw the president happily chatting at his desk. Emily raised her voice (men raise their voices, women shout, or so men would often have us believe): “How could you leave me out there?”
The Bully: The president responded with the following tirade, “How dare you shout at me. You’re psychotic and I want nothing more to do with you.” Yes, he used such a hideous word to demean a professional woman and five years of loyal service to the company. He set up the conflict, doubted that she would find him, but once she did he was a regular King Kong.
Threats: The president added: “If you say another word, I’m phoning the police to have you arrested for trespassing.” He started to dial.
Emily considered the alternatives. Conflict vs check. Police vs cash. She would tell the police to review his email – where the meeting was confirmed for the office, not the pavement downstairs. She could then have sued him and what remained of the company for false arrest.
But she understood the type of person she was dealing with. So she said flatly, “Let’s finish this” and then spoke as little as possible. Best offense in dealing with bullies – speak little, leave quickly.
“What do I owe you?” he asked (as if he didn’t know), “A hundred dollars?” Mean and meaner. That’s how bullies behave. Emily answered in two words. “Four hundred.”
Then he said, “I didn’t prepare the release letter yet.” Right. He didn’t prepare it, because he never expected to see her – certain that she would leave when he didn’t show up on the pavement outside.
He finally typed up the letter, wrote the check and Emily departed – a crescendo for five years of loyal service and a bitter pill to swallow. But she had her money. Fortunately, Emily’s bank allowed late check cashing at the after-hours window.
She had something else as well. The new president with a small p handed her the original of the release letter. He mistakenly kept the copy.
But the one thought on her mind as she drove home was: If it happened to me, it could happen to anyone. Let us know if/when does.
Emily’s motto – don’t get even until you have the cash in hand.
Emily knew that the only way to handle a bully is to stand up to the person. What does standing up mean? You don’t have to respond in kind. For the bully to win, Emily had to leave without her money. But the bully lost.
You have to keep a cool head when dealing with a bully. It’s hard to do, because bullies are skilled at bringing out an emotional response. Leaving Emily on the sidewalk and calling her psychotic was part of his attack. But she outsmarted him.
Most important: If an employer owes you money, don’t give up.
Be an Emily!
To your right to be paid!