Archive for the ‘Unemployment’ Category

Bad Touching

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

With Mad Men on hiatus, someone needs to bring the conversation back to inappropriate office behavior. So it falls to our intrepid general counsel in residence to discuss the downside of getting handsy with coworkers.

Fass das nicht an!

Fass das nicht an, dude!

In an interview with Rachel Zupack on Careerbuilder.com, Amy talks boundaries and what you need to know about touching coworkers so you don’t wind up getting yourself  slapped with a sexual harassment suit.

Read more here…

Shoulda Gone to Med School…

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009
Why didn't I listen to Grandma?

Why didn't I listen to Grandma?

In the New York Times’s most emailed story today we learn that bright young law school grads are, well, shit out of luck. According to the article by Gerry Shih, Downturn Dims Prospects Even at Top Law Schools, even for the best and brightest among them, jobs at the big firms have dried up, jobs at the middling firms are all but non-existent, and jobs at Night Court disappeared in May, 1992 when the series was canceled.

What should these dewy-eyed and now debt-ridden JDs do? Well, we here at So Sue Me, Jackass! might not have the perfect solution, but we have at least one idea: you may come be our interns! And we promise we’ll harass you only as much as necessary…

Opposite Miss California

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Did no one note that I borrowed Bjork's dress?

Did no one note that I borrowed Bjork's dress?

Well, looks like unemployment figures in California rose again today, as Donald Trump sacked implant-enhanced and opposite marriage fan, Carrie Prejean, aka, Miss California USA. Trump said California Carrie had failed “to honor her commitments as Miss California USA.”

No, she didn’t go brunette.

And Trump said his beef with the ditzy blonde had nothing to do with her stupid stance on gay marriage or the fact that the holier-than-thou Prejean had taken  naughty topless pictures to jump start her career. Trump fired her over a legal issue: bleach breach of contract.

Unfortunately what Carrie failed to realize was that as Miss California USA she was an employee at will, and as my employment lawyer-sister, Amy, would be sure to inform her, that means she can be fired at any time, for any reason (as long as it’s not a discriminatory reason.) And guess what? Failing to fulfill contractual obligations is not a discriminatory reason! What it is, to paraphrase a subtitle, is a “Legal Pitfall” that could have been avoided.

Am I saying that if Prejean had read So Sue Me, Jackass! she might have avoided her latest embarrassment & loss of employment? Actually yes. Yes, I am.

So let this be a lesson to all you aspiring beauty queens out there (and I’m not just talking to my gay fan base): before you choreograph the baton routine, apply Preparation H to your face to tighten those pores, or stuff your bikini with a chicken cutlet, do yourself a favor and read our book. It won’t hurt too much, we promise!

Read the Fine Print!

Monday, June 8th, 2009

The Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeal of a man who is being prosecuted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for child pornography. Kenneth Sodomsky (name has not been changed to protect the litigant) brought his computer into Circuit City to install a dvd burner, where a clerk noticed that he had files containing the names and ages of boys, along with questionable video, and called the cops.

Hey genius–when you turn in a computer to be serviced, READ THE TERMS IN THE FORM THEY GIVE YOU. It says that they reserve the right to view everything contained on your hard drive.  If you don’t want some 18 year old geek in  the geeksquad to see what you’re storing, either wipe it or learn how to service your own computer.  If the form they give you discloses the fact that they have a right to look at your junk (unfortunately in the urban dictionary sense of the word in this case)  they will do it and you have no invasion of privacy claim against them.

Mr. Sodomsky moved to suppress the evidence but was rebuffed.  Mr. Gomorrahsky was unavailable for comment.  And, in a sad and unrelated turn of events, Circuit City turned into a pillar of salt.

So… How Big is Your Package?

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

For me?!

For me?!

It’s a question that used to be taboo, something only discussed between intimates. But these days, virtually no one is too shy to ask about the dimensions of someone else’s severance deal. In fact many people can’t help but compare what they received against the packages of their friends, enemies and former coworkers.

It’s natural to want to know how you measure up. And information sharing in this regard can be valuable because as you’ve no doubt realized by now, severance packages come in all shapes and sizes—some generous, many decent, some completely non-existent. So what’s fair and what’s your legal due… and technically what is severance anyway?

Severance, as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary is: “The state or condition of being severed or separated, as in the ending of a relationship.” But you already suspected it was a parting gift for being dumped, didn’t you? Legally speaking, severance pay is what an employer gives an employee at the time of termination. It is sometimes given in lieu of notice (as in, “So sorry to let you go. But here’s two weeks of pay. Don’t let the door kick you in the ass on the way out.”) Sometimes a company provides severance based on how long you’ve been in your job; for example, one week of severance for every year of service. But depending on how poor the financials of the company at the time, sometimes the employer will offer a flat two weeks of pay regardless of your length of service. And sometimes, you’ll get bupkes—Yiddish for diddley squat.

What? No severance? Is that even legal? In fact, there is no law that requires a company to give any severance pay. Unless you have an employment contract or were party to a collective bargaining agreement that set terms of severance up front, you were an “employee at will.” (That means that you can be fired at any time with or without cause, just not for a discriminatory reason.) So regardless of how good your performance or how long you worked for a given employer, the company is not required to give you anything when you’re terminated.

Many companies give severance as a penance for knowing they’ve just put your kid’s college fund—and your mortgage payment—on the line. But very few offer it with no strings attached. Any company with a right-thinking lawyer will require that before the company hands you a dime to which you’d otherwise not be entitled by law, they are going to get you to give up certain rights in exchange for that cash. So along with the promise of a severance payment, they send you off with a document called a “Severance Agreement.” What if your company does offer you a package–and a pen to sign off on it with–mere moments after they’ve told you your “relationship” is over? There are some things you must consider.

First, look for the waiver of all claims. That means that if you accept the money, you agree not to sue them for any reason related to your employment or the termination of your employment. If you don’t believe you have any claims against the company anyway, this is not a problem. But if you happen to notice that every one of the members of your protected class have been laid off (say, workers over 40) then you may wish to speak to an attorney before deciding whether or not to accept the trade.

Second, look for other obligations like an agreement not to compete. If by taking the severance pay you have to agree not to work in your former company’s industry for a set period of time, consider whether that’s a wise move before signing.

Third, check how long you’ve been given to accept the severance. If you are a worker over 40 and have been terminated individually, you should be given at least 21 days to consider the offer (which gives you time to consult with a lawyer) and even once you’ve signed the agreement, another seven days to revoke your signature. If you’re given the severance as an incentive for early retirement or other reason that affects a class of older workers at your company, you should be given 45 days to consider the offer. That doesn’t mean you must wait, it just means you have a bit of time to clear your head and make a good decision on whether or not to accept severance.

Finally, even though your employer isn’t legally obliged to offer you severance, it doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t. It also doesn’t mean that they won’t negotiate. Particularly where you are a member of a protected class who MIGHT have a legal claim to make, or where you are going to be forced not to work in your industry for a set period of time, you may have some room to negotiate. So ask the person who gave you the agreement if this is the best offer the company can make given what you’ll be giving up. Or you can try to explain that you’ll have trouble making your rent to see if the company would be willing to give you more. Though it’s impossible to know if this request will be honored, the only guarantee you have is that nothing will change unless you ask for it. In other words, we encourage you to be your own best advocate.