0

I have posted a bunch of other questions on here regarding my situation with an ex-employer/friend who owes me pay ($100K+) for my work on deals that have closed, meaning he has the money in-hand. He is refusing to pay me what I am owed.

My question here is pertaining to legal repercussions for certain actions, for example, if I were to send an email to a former client I have a relationship with updating him on what happened after I left the deal/company:

"Dear Client, Small talk, small talk. Additionally, I am writing to make you aware that my former employer, Mr. Dick, is refusing to pay me my commission fee on your deal that closed 5 weeks ago. You are aware that I originally worked with you and signed the engagement letter with you. When I parted the company I asked to remain working on your deal (see attached) but was asked not to while being assured I would be paid (see attached) when it closed. As you can see in the attached screenshots, Mr. Dick clearly states to me in no uncertain terms your name, your company's name and that I would be paid once the deal closes. It has now been 5 weeks since the deal closed. After multiple requests Mr. Dick is withholding my payment, refusing to pay me and daring me to get a lawyer and sue him to get paid. I understand that this doesn't reflect on you and there is nothing you can do about it but I thought you should know..."

...or something similar to that. He is refusing to pay me and while I have talked to a lawyer on my end and may be forced to go that route, my intention here would be to put some pressure on Mr. Dick. Additionally, I have the option of sending a similar note to a client list of 500.

It is not the best option but I believe it is the kind of pressure that might cause action. I would like to know if there is anything illegal in that or it could be dangerous to me in any way. Everything stated is factual and will include evidence of such. Before sinking (at least) $5K into a lawyer it seems like it might produce results.

Tell me why this idea is okay legally and may pressure Mr. Dick to pay me what I am owed or why this is an incredibly stupid thing to do! Thanks.

  • 3
    Legally it may be OK, but are you sure you want to burn 500 potential future connections? If I were a client and saw that email, I'd be pressured into talking to the company, probably back out of the deal, and possibly distance myself from both that company and you for quite some time. What you are essentially doing is asking the client to become a third party to a lawsuit. – Ron Beyer Mar 8 at 15:45
  • 1
    I'd just sue them, don't retaliate especially with customers. If the customer backs out of the deal, "Mr. Dick" has a legal basis to sue you for lost income. If you email a different customer, they may also be able to sue you. Don't turn the table from being the one with power to being the one on defense. Just get your recovery with the help of your lawyer. – Ron Beyer Mar 8 at 16:39
  • 1
    @RonBeyer That depends on the client's mentality. I as a client would like to know if my provider is into defrauding his employees, because that is a sign of his propensity to defraud others as well (including his clients). Same if I were a provider's potential business partner. The OP's transparency to submit evidence is a big plus to him and to the clients. And to sue the OP for lost income, the provider would have to prove that the OP's communications to the client are unjustified. See Howard v. Murray, 184 So.3d 1155, 1166 (2015). – Iñaki Viggers Mar 8 at 19:36
  • 1
    That customer list is property of the company. Using it could open you open for a counter-suit. – mkennedy Mar 8 at 22:19
  • 1
    @Sizzle Another q&a on clients: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/108312/… – mkennedy Mar 9 at 18:46
2

Legally there is no problem. What you say is protected speech under the 1st Amendment as long as it is either true or a matter of opinion.

However Ron Beyer's comment is a good one; while legal this sounds very inadvisable. You would be far better off hiring a lawyer. The Mr Dicks of this world make money from the widespread fear of legal action. He will probably fold as soon as he sees a letter from a lawyer threatening a lawsuit. Until then stalling doesn't cost him anything so he will carry on doing it.

BTW, don't delay. I don't know about the US, but over here in the UK there are a number of ways that people like Mr Dick can make it hard to collect. Don't give him time to play shell games with his assets.

1

Tell me why this idea is okay legally and may pressure Mr. Dick to pay me what I am owed or why this is an incredibly stupid thing to do!

That is neither legally nor businesswise stupid. I'm assuming that you would Cc your former employer in those communications (since otherwise he would not know this additional reason as to why he needs to mend his pattern).

As I explained in my comment, that a provider's practices involve defrauding his employees and challenging them to involve attorneys is something many clients would like to know. It is an indicator of some undesirable propensity which the provider might eventually apply toward the clients themselves.

Your willingness to attach evidence in your communications certainly reflects your transparency, and it may discourage your former employer from attempting to intimidate you with a lawsuit: He should be able to foresee that you will file that same evidence in court to debunk his claim(s).

If I recall correctly, your jurisdiction is Florida, which (like all jurisdictions recognizing claims of tortious interference) requires the prima facie element of "an intentional and unjustified interference with the business relationship or procurement of the contract's breach", Howard v. Murray, 184 So.3d 1155, 1166 (2015) (emphasis added). Based on your situation and the evidence you purportedly have, it appears that the employer would be unable to prove that element of tortious interference. In line with the other answer, the fact that your statements consist of verifiable truth and/or your opinions would likewise defeat a claim of defamation.

A note of caution, though: You should redact third-parties' (that is, clients') details (including clients' identifying information) if you approach those 500 clients to denounce your former employer. That would prevent sensitive third-parties' information from being harmfully disclosed.

The thing that "worries" me the most about your situation is that you still appear reluctant to engage in the learning curve of law & court proceedings that would enable you to litigate in pro per effectively. For months, you seemingly have been tormenting yourself with the "prospect" of paying thousands of dollars upfront to retain some lawyer (who might end up being incompetent, charlatan, or a kiss up in court). This is why I repeatedly suggest that you seriously consider pro se litigation. Your employer and his lawyers most likely have sensed your hesitance during the ongoing interactions between you and them, which is why they keep playing games with you.

  • Thanks for this response. There was a lot of back-and-forth over the last few months, correct...this was mostly posturing until there was actually money from a deal closing...which happened Feb 1, 2019. I have spoken with another lawyer who I may go with and his suggestion was to file in NJ, which is where I am based. I think that is the right move as it would force Mr. Dick to get an NJ lawyer to deal with it. – Sizzle Mar 8 at 21:00
  • in reference to the 500 clients...I think the threat or specter of that would be the reasoning there. I don't think it is something I would do unless there was a drastic reason to. – Sizzle Mar 8 at 21:01
  • And finally...I don't really think I have the time to start studying the law and dealing with this on my own. Since I am no longer with him, my time has been committed to building and running my own biz now. I am not sure I want to run the risk of filing something with the court and having issues or setback dues to it being wrong or incomplete. – Sizzle Mar 8 at 21:09
  • 1
    @Sizzle I hear you. Regarding the "threat or specter therof", just keep in mind what I recently said on the importance of refraining from conduct that may constitute extortion, lest the employer have the occasion to turn the tables on you. – Iñaki Viggers Mar 8 at 21:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.