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Subject: hurricane bonus contract/denied
Question: On Sept 27th My current employer (a company that owns and opperates 14 MCD/MCR nursing homes in LA) informed all "administrative staff" that our "hurrican Contracts" would be activated on 9/28/12 (isaac)the contract basically states the if you evacuate with the company (nursing home) you will be awarded a bonus, and paid time and one half for all hours worked. the 'stipulations' being: you had to work 12hour shifts, and stay through the durration of the storm. Well we did not evacute, we hunkered-down here, like a shelter but our contracts were still activated related to the fact that we could not safely leave and return for work, so we stayed at work from tues 2/28 morning through friday 8/31 four our entire "evacuation period" We suspected that something would and must go wrong with regards to our pay... well, we did recieve timely payment for all hours worked, however just today we were informed that we would not recieve our bonus for one of two reasons (neither of which are mentioned in the contract) 1)you were 5 or more min late for any shift tues 8/28 through tues 9/4 2)your Hurricane evactuation contract was signed after the storm was already a "named storm" I have searched high and low and cannot find a contract that states this. Does my employer owe me the bonus as listed in the contract I signed? I will gladly scan/email/fax/ hand deliver all my documents to support this argument. thank you for your time!

Answer: (September, 2012)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

Unfortunately it is difficult to give a precise answer without seeing the contract, but based on what you've described, yes, you would be owed the bonus. If the reasons for denial of the bonus were not included as terms and conditions of the employment, then they should be invalid. But as I said, without looking at the contract, I can't be sure.

Subject: Commission Employee Termination/Final Pay check
Question: After being employed for 10 years in sales, I was terminated. 40 days later i still have not received my final pay check for my closed deals of which I worked for. My former employer is telling me i will only be payed for the jobs that were completed and paid prior to my termination. I worked numerous hours to close the deals as I always have and now I'm not being paid for them. Please help me to better understand the Louisiana laws and statues for commission sales

Answer: (September, 2012)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

La. R.S. 23:631 et seq. provides that all "earned" wages must be paid upon termination or resignation. When it comes to commissions, the issue is whether they were earned at the time of departure. If the only thing that needs to be done on the deal at departure is to collect payment, the commissions were earned by you and should be paid. The more work that needs to be done to complete the sale, the less likely a court will deem the commissions earned when you left.

Subject: obligation of employer
Question: Upon termination of employee, is employer obligated to give employee a copy of his/her file along with separation papers...?

Answer: (September, 2012)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

No. There is no requirement in the law that an employer has to give a terminated employee a copy of their file. In fact, and employer need not even provide "separation papers".

Subject: Unused Vacation
Question: When I left my previous employer, I gave my two week notice. I had one weeks vacation left. I sent a certified letter after I received my final pay check, stating they still owed me vacation time. She argues that I am owed nothing. Question is, how long do I have to file a claim to collect my unused vacation pay?

Answer: (June, 2012)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

You have three (3) years from the date the wages were due to file suit. You can also seek penalties and attorney's fees.

Subject: Spiteful stripping of earned vacation
Question: I realized aprox 2 months ago that I was not being paid for all of my time worked at my place of current employment. When I very politely mentioned this to my boss I was accused of being "nit-picky" and ungrateful for having mentioned it. It immidiately became a very hostle workplace for myself. Now, a week after the end of my second year here, I asked to use one of my vacation days and was told That after my mentioning the shortage of pay issue, my boss decided not to give me my vacation this year because I spoke up. So now, in addition to refusing to give me my past time cards to see how much I have been shorted on all combined pay checks, I have been refused earned vacation after it was accrued. I have tried for two months to deal with this through the Louisiana and federal levels and no one claims to deal with this issue and I'm being bounced back and forth in a loop from one dept to another and back again. Please help!

Answer: (March, 2012)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

Your situation is unique and does appear to fall into a "gap" in the law. The problem is that you are still employed. If you were terminated or resigned, the Louisiana Wage Payment would apply and you could demand your unpaid wages and unpaid vacation time (assuming it wasn't paid to you when you were terminated or resigned). Right now, however, unless the failure to pay your wages is a violation of the minimum wage or overtime provisions of the FLSA, I'm not sure the law provides you with a remedy.

Subject: employer theft
Question: My husband worked for the same company for 8 yrs. The buisness started to go downhill. Paychecks were late, NSF or partial payments were given. The company closed the friday before Christmas so my husband filed for unemployment. The monetary determination showed denied because for the 8 yrs. my husband worked there the boss had not reported ANYTHING! All the information was sent in and we are still waiting for an answer almost 3 months later. My husband has 3 NSF checks in his possesion, he is owed his last paycheck and money the boss has been skimming off his checks(when he even got one). As if that is bad enough we got an arrearages letter from child support. The boss has been garnishing his wages, shown on paystubs, but has not made the payments to child support. We are 1,000 behind because of his boss. This is a nightmare and no one will help. The labor board says since his company is closed they can not help. Child support says there is nothing they can do even though the money was court ordered. I am at a loss and desperatly need some help to recover this money my husband is rightfully owed!

Answer: (February, 2012)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

Your husband certainly has valid claims, particulary for the NSF checks and failure to pay last paycheck (and other wages). The failure to pay the child support is probably theft, also. You should speak to a lawyer about the claims and other issues (collectability of any judgment you might obtain)in the case. I'd by glad to discuss these issues with you.

Subject: PTO
Question: Hi, I was ecently terminated from my former employer, however in 2011 I accumalated 144 PTO (vacation) hours and unfourtanetly I was not able to take a vacation. My employer have a use it or lose it policy which means if I didn't take a vacation only 40 hours were carried over and I may lose the 104. My question is by louisiana law does my employer have to pay me for my unused accured 104 PTO hours although they did not carry over to 2012? Please advise

Answer: (February, 2012)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

Louisiana law allows an employer to have a "use or lose it" policy, but it all depends on the language of the policy, as well as the employers actual practice with the policy. If the policy is written correctly and applied uniformly, then no, the employer does not have to pay any vacation that was lost under the policy. But again, it all depends on what the policy says and how it is applied. Hope this helps.

Subject: Vacation pay
Question: I have been employed with a firm for over 15 years that has the following vacation policy: "On January 1 of each year, each employee will start over with ten days vacation for the calendar year". On January 30, 2012, I gave my 2 week resignation. My employer has informed me that I am not entitled to vacation pay when I leave. Is this correct?

Answer: (February, 2012)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

The issue of whether vacation pay is due upon resignation is whether it is "earned." Based on the language you cite, I would argue that your vacation is "earned" on January 1st, and therefore it is payable if you resigned on January 30th. If your employer fails to pay, it can not only be liable for the vacation pay, but also penalty wages and attorney's fees as well.

Subject: disputed wages as to current employee
Question: Several years ago, a part-time employee became a full-time grant employee with accompanying increase in salary, but HR never received the salary increase forms. Currently, the employee is not being paid the increased salary. What is the employer obligated to do: 1) continue paying the part-time salary, 2) pay the full-time salary starting now and into the future, or 3) pay the back full-time pay?

Answer: (January, 2012)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

This is a strange inquiry. Has the employee made a request for the difference or pay, or is this something that the employer discovered on its own? Regardless, I think the answer is that the employer should pay the employee the difference in wages from the date the employee received the increase in salary. Ultimately, this would boil down to an issue of contract, i.e., did the employer "contract" (orally or in writing) to pay the employee an increased salary/rate when the employee went from part-time to full-time. If everyone agrees that the answer is/was yes, and the only issue is that of an accounting/HR error, then it seems as if the difference in wages is owed. It is strange, however, that the employee has never asked for the difference earlier, which makes me wonder whether the employee was aware of the increase.

Subject: Resignation Notice; Early Release by Employer
Question: Under Louisiana law, when an employee submits a resignation notice with a specified date as the final work day, is the employer required to pay that employee through the date of the notice if they "let the employee go" prior to that date? Ex: Resignation notice submitted states that Jan. 31st will be the employees final work day; employer informs employee they will be letting employee go on the 24th.

Answer: (January, 2012)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

No, there is no requirement that an employer pay an employee through the date the employee gives notice that he/she is resigning. The only requirement is to pay for time worked. Therefore, if an employee gives notice that they are resigning on the 31st, but the employer informs employee that their final day will be the 24th, the employer need only pay through the 24th.

Subject: up for a raise,demoted for the second time,reduce my pay!
Question: Been working for a company for four years. I was asked to be a supervisor/driver for the company. In August I was called to my managers office to be told that I was going to be demoted. For the company interest and profit. My manager told me that my team was taking too long cleaning the clients home. My teams labor percentage was higher than the rest of teams. My field manager saw that I was going over my work. I finally broke down and told my field manager that I was seeing a therapist and psychologists for having OCD, ADD,depression,panic attacks, and axienty. I was going over the same area I was stuck. I wanted to please my clients by doing my very best. (I never had a complaint or a call back) I feel that me having OCD and ADD caused me to be demoted. My psychologist has me taking prozac and adderall. My manager and field manager know of this. So if I'm getting treated for my conditions stated above. Do I have a discrimination claim for my disability? Plus not only was I demoted my pay was decreased. I also can perform all my job functions without any accommodations. Thank you!

Answer: (January, 2012)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

Disability discrimination claims are challenging. First, it appears from your message that the decision to demote you was made before your manager became aware that you may have a disability, so you wouldn't be able to contend that the decision was made because of a disability. Second, simply being diagnosed with OCD, ADD, depression, etc. does not equate to having a "disability." The determination of whether one has a "disability" is fact specific and depends on how the particular condition affects any number of daily life activities. Finally, when you say you can perform all your job funtions without any accomodations, you seem to take yourself out of the definition of "disabled." The inquiry would be whether you could do all your job functions with "reasonable" accomodation, and then what would constitute a reasonable accommodation. In summary, the question of whether you have a disabilty under the ADA or state law is very fact specific. I encourage you to speak with an attorney that specializes in plaintiff's employment law to see about your particular situation.

Subject: Impact on accrued but unused vacation days when vacation accrual policy changes
Question: My former employer rescinded without compensation vacation that had already been earned (but not yet used) under a previous vacation accrual policy when the employer changed the vacation accrual policy. Previously, vacation was earned after one year of employment based on the date of hire and did not carry over from year to year. The new policy says that no vacation is earned during the first calendar year during which an employee is hired, and after that, vacation must be earned and used within the same calendar year and does not carry over. Those of us who worked under the old policy are wondering what happened to the ten days we earned but hadn't used under the old policy, as we've not been paid for them. Terminated employees this year who earned but didn't use vacation under the old policy are only being paid for unused vacation that's accrued during the current calendar year. The employer has paid one employee who complained about this during an unemployment hearing, saying that the employer's decision to pay was discretionary and therefore did not set precedent for the rest of us. Is the employer within its right to do this and compensate us for vacation time we've already earned?

Answer: (August, 2011)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

I assume you mean "not" compensate you for vacation time already earned? IF so, the answer is no, the employer cannot do this. If the vacation time was "earned" under the prior policy, it can not be taken away. The problem I see if that, while you are still employed, there is no legal means for you to request payment of the vacation pay. The Louisiana Wage Payment statute only applies to those that have resigned or been terminated, so if you still work there, you couldn't file suit under that statute. Anyone that has already left, however, could file suit for payment of the vacation time, penalties and attorney's fees, and I suspect that once the employer knew he was wrong, he would pay everyone else as well.

Subject: Termination an unused vacation time
Question: Small business owner has to drastically cut overhead immediately to continue operating which means laying off a valued secretary after 19 years. She gets three weeks vacation/year, and has used one week of it. Nothing in writing defining when the vacation time is earned. What is company's obligation to the employee for her unused two weeks upon termination?

Answer: (May, 2011)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

Generally, "defined vacation time set forth in company policy" is considered to be the equivalent of a wage and an employment benefit. Generally, any value of vacation time usually at the equivalent of an hourly rate based on your current wages would be due and owed once your employment has been terminated. However, the line is not so bright because the employer can modify such benefits as its sees fit. Since you have not give us enough information, I can only surmise that the company may honor its agreement with you for your remainder vacation time. However, your situation may come down to a "he said, she said" proof for a trier of fact. You should seek the advice of a lawyer on how to proceed.

Subject: termination
Question: Can an employee, who was terminated waive their rights to discrimination, i.e. a potential disability claim with eeoc?

Answer: (May, 2011)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

Yes an employee who is terminated may waive potential discrimination claims that would normally be filed with the EEOC. There are certain requirements for the employer to obtain a waiver and if not followed correctly then the employer would not be allowed to assert a waiver as a defense to a discrimination claim. Employment discrimination waivers are extremely complex and the advice of a lawyer should be sought before entering into such an agreement.

Subject: Employment Termination
Question: While working at a nonprofit organization I learned that the supervisor hired two of her friends and they was getting paid more than the employers who was already working there. The friends does not meet the qualifications of those positions and their job duties were rewritten to their needs. One of her friends was hired with the same position that I had. That friend either quit or was terminated but two weeks later she was rehired when I was fired. Do I have a legal case

Answer: (May, 2011)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

I don't know enough about your facts to offer you an opinion. You should consult an attorney in employment law. Louisiana is an employment at will state and an employee can be fired without cause or notice. There are exceptions, but this space is not large enough for all the exceptions and you should consult a lawyer on your issues.

Subject: Vacation Value
Question: My employer has employees that accure vacation. These employees receive a small salary (8,000.00 gross) plus commission. My question, how do I place a value per hour on the vacation if they terminate from the company. Can I value the vacation below minumum wage. Please help!!!!

Answer: (May, 2011)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

Your facts are not specific to advise you on your case, but generally you can take the number of hours you work in a year and divide the total working hours into your salary which should give you the the value of your hourly time. If you are given paid vacation, you can multiply the hourly wage by the number of hours given to you for your vacation. You however, must be aware that employers are not required to provide you with vacation time. You will need to look in your employee's manual if you have one to determine if the employer has given vacation as an employment benefit. Otherwise consult an attorney.

Subject: Owed vacation earned after leaving a job.
Question: I recently left my job for another job. I was a manager at my previous job for eight months before wing demoted. I earned vacation time within 6 months. Upon leaving the job am I owed that vacation time saved up? Do they pay me for it?

Answer: (November, 2010)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

It depends on whether you truly "earned" the vacation pay pursuant to the employer's policy. If the vacation time was earned, theen it must be paid upon termination or resignation.

Subject: wages owed
Question: I worked for a company who is paid through a contract to pay me my last day was on 11/08/2010 and i still havent been paid for the months of September and October and 11/1/2010-11/08/2010. Another thing since my co-workers and i started complaining about our pay she has ask for time sheets from 01/2009 is this legal she only did this after we contacted the attorney general office about her not paying us how far can she go back on a time sheet and time clock discrepency oh might i remind you of something else she gave me a check on 11/5/10 dated 11/04/2010 and the check is no good please help us and tell us what we can do to get our money

Answer: (November, 2010)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

First, you have not provided enough information to give you a definitive answer. Your problem needs the attention of a good employment law attorney. You may continue through the Attorney General's office for their help. Generally, you are entitled to be paid within a short period of time after you have completed the work; however, you have three years to bring any action in a court of law in Louisiana for past due wages. The period begins to run from the date when the wages are due. If you qualify, there may be penalties and attorney's fees involved. However, in order to determine whether you qualify, a thorough interview with an employment law attorney is necessary. You may also seek out the aid of the district attorney's office on bad checks; they may be able to help you. Your comment about "paid through a contract" is trouble some and requires additional information to understand your employment relationship. An employment law attorney should give you a complete interview before he may take your case and will be able to tell you more about your potential claim.

Answer: (November, 2010)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

Louisiana's Wage Payment statute provides that, upon termination or resignation, you must be paid on or before your next regular payday, or within fifteen (15) days, whichever is sooner. So, at the latest, your employer owes your wages on November 23, 2010, or earlier if your regularly scheduled payday was before the 23rd. With respect to reviewing your time sheets, your employer can certainly do that if it wishes, and there is no time period in which that review is limited. Finally, providing you with an NSF check can result in civil and criminal penalties. If you do not receive your wages soon, I recommend you contact an attorney.

Subject: Unused vacation and sick time
Question: My wife works for a Parish Clerk of Court. She has taken another job and is leaving the Clerk's office. She is being told that she will owe for vacation time she has already taken and will forfeit the balance that she has left. Her Employee Handbook states only that she is eligible for two weeks vacation after her first year of employment. She has been with the office over two years. If she were not leaving she would have been able to take the vacation and received the pay without issue. I referred her supervisor to look at RS 23:631. She told me that she felt the law did not apply to an elected official. Please help. Thank you.

Answer: (July, 2010)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

I'm not aware of any exemption in the Louisiana Wage Payment statute that would exclude public officials from the scope of the statute. If the vacation is earned, which it seems as if it should be based on what you say, then it is owed upon termination or resignation of employment.

Subject: iwages due me
Question: i work as an independent contractor (1099) the llc corp. owes me back wages and is no longer operating. can i sue the owners personaly for my wages

Answer: (June, 2010)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

As an independent contractor, you would not be able to sue under Louisiana's Wage Payment statute, La. R.S. 23:631 et.seq., because it only applies to employees. You would need to bring a breach of contract claim against the entity that you contracted with, which my guess is would be the employer. IF the employer is no longer operating, the issue of whether you can sue the owners in their individual capacity depends on whether all corporate formalities were being followed by the corporation, i.e., holding corporate meetings, having the company adequately capitilized, no co-mingling of funds, etc.

Subject: Fraud
Question: My co-workers are falsifying time-sheets about 5 to 10 hours per week. Because I'm aware of this, do I have any legal liability in the event they were caught? I'm a new employee, and the others have been there several years.

Answer: (December, 2009)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

I'm not aware of any legal obligation that would require you to report this conduct. Whether you have an ethical obligation to do so, however, is another question that only you can answer.

Subject: Employment was terminated because my boss found out I was pregnant
Question: Have all of my documentation prepared to fax to any attorney that is willing to take my case. I was wrongfully terminated by OTB in Kenner La. because my boss found out I was pregnant. She has done this to several other people prior to me.

Answer: (December, 2009)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

If you were, in fact, terminated because you are pregnant, then you were treated discriminatorily and have a claim against your former employer (depending on certain facts). I'd be happy to talk to you about this matter if you'd like.

Subject: Clarification on previous question
Question: Okay, I guess I should clarify what I'm asking...I was terminated after Katrina from the New Orleans Police Department and Civil Service upheld the Department's decision to terminate me. However this past June I was contacted and offered my job back with the department citing that there were mitgating circumstances surrounding my dismissal. It goes on to say that those mitgating circumstances had been considered and they were offering me the opportunity to return if I signed away all rights to back pay, emoluments and any time that would have been accrued during my absence. I signed the papers and two other high ranking offficers did as well, however now Riley is refusing to sign them.

Answer: (September, 2009)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

Unfortunately, you exhausted your appeal rights when you were terminated. Because the authority refuses to agree to the terms that his subordinates suggest as a condition for your reemployment, does not give rise to a right enforceable in a court of law. As a practical matter, persistence on your part may reinstate you to your old position or waiting until a new authority is in place.

Subject: Offer of Employment
Question: I was terminated from my job and the termination was upheld by the governing body of my employer, however, the employer came back years later and offered me my job back citing 'mitgating circumstances' surrounding my dismissal and had me sign the offer of condition in a contract based letter. It was then signed by two high ranking members of that employer as well, now the top ranking official is refusing to sign. What recourse if any do I have at this time?

Answer: (September, 2009)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

First, I do not understand your problem. You have not given us enough details to formulate an opinion about your problem. I can tell you that Louisiana is an "employment at will" state. You can be terminated for no reason. I an not quite sure what you mean by the "governing body of my employer or offer of condition in a contract based letter." It sounds as if you were negotiating a contract of employment and the authority to complete the contract lies with the person refusing to sign. If the authorized person of the employer refuses to accept the contract then there is no contract of employment. Unless you have some other reason for being terminated, your problem is one that has no recourse in the law.

Subject: Higher
Question: I am employed by a Federal Agency, I was placed on temporary duty with two other Federal employees. Upon our return, I was demoted without cause and one other person was promoted because of friendship with the supervisor. I suspect that the other person was/is a lower GS level than myself. I have brought this to my supervisors attention but he disgarded it without merit. Since both of us are African Americans what can I do?

Answer: (September, 2009)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

If you believe that you were discriminated based on race, sex,age or religious belief or affiliation, you can file a complaint with the EEOC. You must do it within 300 days of the precipitating incident. You will need to obtain some proof other than your supposition to sustain a claim. The EEOC has a web site that will walk you through the process. You may contact your Human Resources and they may have some in house services that you can employ to assist you in your dilemma. I don't have enough information to determine why you are in the status situation that you currently face. It is extremely hard to inquire as to another person's ability to gain a promotion over you. If you decide to proceed with an EEO complaint, I would recommend seeking the advice of an attorney, first.

Subject: Pay docking as a means to cover comapmy's expesese from negligent damage to company profit?
Question: Employees onsistently damage company's property through negligent acts. Do I have he right in Louisiana to dock pay for repairs/replacement? Thanks

Answer: (August, 2009)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

No, you may terminate the employee at any time for violating a company policy including breaking equipment. To hold money for anything other than taxes, FICA or employee participating benefits will subject you to penalties and attorneys fees for failing to pay the wage the employee has earned. It is presumed in the law that the employee has permission to use any and all equipment assigned to his job by the employer.

Subject: Laws for layoff not followed
Question: I was laid off from a state agency that was unclassified service. They had a written and exclusive reduction in force policy and procedure, based upon state law R.S.17.81.4, including seniority as a priority. They ignored it! I filed a grievance and they admitted "date of hire" was not used and they just used their "best judgement"! Thus, they retained people with less seniority. What rights do I have and how do I proceed?

Answer: (August, 2009)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

Louisiana law governing school districts,17:81.4 states as follows : A. Not later than January 1st, 1984, each city and parish school board shall develop and adopt rules and policies which it shall use in dismissing teachers at any time a reduction in force is instituted by such school board. Such rules and policies shall be made available for inspection by teachers, other school employees and the general public within ten days after final adoption. B. Not later than January 1st, 1986, each city and parish school board shall develop and adopt rules and policies which it shall use in dismissing any full-time secretary, teacher's aide, school clerk, or custodian at any time a reduction in force is instituted by that school board. These rules and policies shall be made available for inspection, by any full-time secretary, teacher's aide, school clerk, or custodian, and the general public within ten days after their final adoption. C. Not later than January 1, 1987, each city and parish school board shall develop and adopt rules and policies which it shall use in dismissing school employees other than those for which provision is made in Subsections (A) and (B), at any time a reduction in force is instituted by the school board. Such rules and policies shall be made available for inspection by any such school employee and the general public within ten days after their final adoption. D. Not later than January 1, 1996, all reduction in force policies of the city and parish school boards and special schools as provided in this Section shall include but not be limited to the following minimum standards: (1) Certification, if applicable. (2) Seniority in the system. (3) Tenure of employees. (4) Academic preparation, if applicable, within the employee's field. (5)(a) The right of an employee notified of an action which results from implementation of a reduction in force policy to request in writing a review of such action and to receive notice of the results of such review. (b) The right of an employee to pursue the matter through the school board's adopted grievance procedure. Added by Acts 1983, No. 94, §1; Acts 1985, No. 602, §1; Acts 1986, No. 478, §1; Acts 1995, No. 1272, §1, eff. June 29, 1995. You do not submit enough facts to determine how to proceed or what right you may have. For example, you don't have enough facts regarding what the school board did or whether they violated their own rules. However, you may want to invoke a review with the school board to determine if you should be retained as set forth in the statute. You may want bring an action in a district court where the school board is located. However, before you do so, you should seek the advice of an attorney setting forth all the facts for him to determine how best to proceed.

Subject: sick leave
Question: if im fired or resign does the company have to pay my sick leave i earned or is it just lost or is there a law that covers this

Answer: (August, 2009)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

This is a very interesting question under the law. According to some jurisprudence interpreting Louisiana's wage payment statute, La. R.S. 23:631 et seq., sick leave is NOT a wage and therefore not owed at termination or resignation of employment. I'm not sure I agree with the reasoning in those cases, however, and I'm not sure any court (including those) has directly addresssed the issue. I think it would also depend on whether the "sick leave" is purely sick leave, or part of PTO (paid time off). In the end, I submit that the question is an open one under Louisiana law.

Subject: Employer-employee relations
Question: If my company and former employee are sued for an incident which happened on the job, am I obligated to defend him? I had no insurance which covered the incident. I am also disputing that what he did wrong was not part of his duties as an employee.

Answer: (July, 2009)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

No, you do not have a legal duty to defend the employee if he has been sued in his individual capacity. However, as a practical matter, most employers choose to do so in most cases because generally the employee's interest and the employer's interest are aligned.

Subject: Terminated employee requestes information
Question: I read that Louisiana has no law that entitles a business to allow employees to view their perosnnel file. Currently, I am an intern at an evironmental emergency response company in which the employee training is extensive. Recently, an employee with years of training was terminated and is requesting his training records. These training certificates are very valuable in helping him to find new empoyment, but the training is paid in full by the company. Is the company required by law to supply him with his training certificates?

Answer: (September, 2009)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

There is no specific law that allows you to look at your personnel file or to obtain documents from the file. You can always ask and if the employer says no then the only recourse would be if you were to file an action in a court of law alleging a specific violation of some state or federal statute. You should be able to subpoena your file assuming that the court would allow such action. Training certificates depend on what type of training it involves. If the employer has paid for it and if the training was in house, then it is unlikely you will be able to obtain a copy without proceeding with some other type of action. If it is industry training, the training agency should have a record of the training and you should be able to obtain the information that you need from them. If you are asking for return of any licenses that you may have provided to your employer, because the license is personal to you, you may be able to bring an action against your employer for the return of your personal property. see Doe v. Entergy Services, Inc., 608 So.2d 684 (La. App. 4 Cir., 1992) for a general discussion on personnel files and examples of how and when an employee can have access to his file. The Court in the Doe case agreed with the employer that it had the right to put whatever it wanted in its employee's files and could limit access to the file as it chose. The Court did not address if the employee had a right to his file and that may be an area for future litigation. You will need to seek specific legal advice to proceed with any litigation.

Subject: Discrimination
Question: I was terminated last year from my employment because my employer claims that I did not qualify to do an assigned job that my supervisor gave me to do. I have proof and a witness that I was performing my duties according to the supervisor’s instructions but I know that it was retaliation and discrimination. I am in the union and an international meeting has taken place but I am steel waiting for arbitration. I have filed with EEOC. I was let go on April 23, 12008. How long should it take for arbitration take place, do I need a lawyer and can I get a Lawyer that will take me with no money, and What can I do until then?

Answer: (July, 2009)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

If you were working in Louisiana, your employer would have the right to terminate you for any reason subject to the terms and conditions of any applicable union contract and any state or federal discrimination laws. I don't know how long your arbitration should take. If the arbitration is through your union, then you will need to check with your union representatives. Depending on your status (race, age, sex, or religion, etc.) any discrimination claim would depend on whether you might qualify in one of the protected classes for employees. Once you qualify, you must prove that your firing was based on that protected area of the law. There are a lot of issues to be determined when asserting any type of discrimination case. A good lawyer familiar with these type of cases would be a good start. A good lawyer would get all facts that you have and should be able to give you advice on whether or not you have viable case. Most lawyers, but not all, will require you to sign a contingency contract and some, but not all, will advance certain costs throughout the case. However, almost all contingency contracts require the client to reimburse the attorney for costs and expenses advanced. If you have filed with the EEOC, I would suggest you stay in contact with them and follow up periodically with the progress that the Commission is making with your claim.

Subject: Wages
Question: I recieved my check and I noticed it was short 4 hours overtime that I worked. This is the third time this has happened with my employer making a mistake with my check. I needed to know if there is something that I should do. I'm the only one that seems to always have a mistake with my check. If there is any information you can give me or help me with this problem, I'd appericate it. Thanks -Jessica M. Honore'

Answer: (July, 2009)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

The first thing I would do is ask you employer about the discrepancy in your check and see if they will correct the error. If the employer refuses to correct the error and pay your for overtime hours worked, you can file a claim pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act for the recovery of your overtime, as well as a like amount in damages, and attorney's fees.

Subject: unpaid contracts
Question: I work as a subcontractor and I have not been paid on a few contracts. I have made several verbal demands and 2 demands in writing. Every time that I speak to the owner he tells me that he will have a check but of course this never happens. Can I bring him to small claims court? is there a maximum dollar limit? is there a statute of limitation?

Answer: (July, 2009)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

First, you must distinguish yourself as either a contractor or a subcontractor. If you are a "contractor" and have an agreement with the owner of the property then you can go directly against him. If you are a subcontractor and have an agreement with a contractor, hopefully a licensed contractor, you must bring your action against the contractor. You could file a claim against an owner of property if you have timely filed a proper lien for your work and recorded it a the Court house. If your claim qualifies, you may be able to bring an action in small claims court. In the New Orleans area, there is First City Court East Bank and Second City Court, West Bank. In Jefferson Parish, there is First Parish Court, East Bank and Second Parish Court, West Bank. There are small claims courts through out the area. You may contact anylocal clerk of court and most times, they will direct you to the nearest small claims court. Most small claims courts have jurisdictional amounts of $15,000 or $20,000 some are less such as Justice of the Peace courts. The Clerk on that Court will tell you what the maximum dollar amount is. Generally, an oral contract for services has a three year limitation with some restrictions. There are some instances where the limitation may extend beyond three years. There are also provisions in Louisiana law that if done properly would allow for the payment of attorney's fees. A good lawyer should be consulted.

Subject: PTO taken away
Question: I submitted my resignation to my employer with a 30 day notice. In an effort to get compensation from me for a work error on my part earlier this year, my employer has reduced the number of PTO(vacation)days that I have accrued and will prevent me from being fully reimbursed for my allowed PTO accrual at the end of my employment. Is my PTO protected under LA law in any way?

Answer: (July, 2009)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

I am not sure what your reference to PTO means. If it means vacation days, then according to Louisiana Law, "earned, accrued and unused vacation" is considered part of your compensation or wage and becomes payable upon termination of your employment. Title 23 Section 631 and the following sections of the Louisiana Revised Statutes provide that an employer is required to pay all earned, accrued and unused vacation on or before the next regular payday or within fifteen (15) days after employment ceases, whichever is sooner. You may also be entitled to the recovery of penalties and attorney's fees. A good employment lawyer should be able to help you with this problem.

Subject: Malicious damage to property at the workplace
Question: I am a mechanic by trade. Recently, I was hired by a waste and debris company as a mechanic for their trucks for which I was required to bring my own tools. Due to a lack of communication and information on my job duties, etc. I elected, at management's approval, to terminate my employment. However, I needed an extra day to get a truck to retreive my tools. When I returned for my tools, I noticed that someone had used two cola cans to dump liquid into my tool box drawers. The liquid smelled like urine and caused significant damage to the tools, as well as the boxes. I filled out a police report, but need advice as to employer responsiblily for retalitory damages to my property. Thanks

Answer: (July, 2009)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

The employer responsibility depends on a number of facts about your property that are not apparent in your fact pattern. First, the responsibility of your former employer to you to keep safe your tools would have to be determined. An example of additional information would be, if the employer terminated your employment and did not agree to let you leave your tools on his property after your termination or did he agree to allow you to keep that tools at his facility while you went to secure a truck to haul away the tools. If the later is the case, then he may be responsible to repair or replace the tools. As Ihave suggested in previous writings, an interview with a good lawyer who may have an interest in your case is advisable.

Subject: ADA Claim
Question: I believe that I was discriminated against due to my disability. How do I know if my situation falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act? How can I file a claim against my employer?

Answer: (April, 2009)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

You may file a claim with the local office of the EEOC. They have a website that you can obtain information about disabilities. http://www.eeoc.gov/ You may call the Commission and they will provide you with information about their agency and the ADA. Depending on where you live will depend on how much time you have to file with them. Otherwise, I would seek the advice of an attorney that has experience in this area of the law. It is very difficult to prove discrimination and a good attorney can give you advice.

Subject: Wrongful Termination
Question: I was recently terminated from my employment because my employer claims that I was not performing my duties correctly. I have proof that I was performing my duties correctly. What can I do?

Answer: (February, 2009)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

Because Louisiana is an "at-will" employment state, an employer can terminate an employee for "any reason, no reason, or a bad reason," as long as it is not a discriminatory reason. Thus, even if the reason for your termination is not correct, unless it was motivated by some discriminatory motive directed toward a protected class (like race, sex, age, national origin, etc.), then the law does not provide a remedy.

Subject: Obtaining Information From Previous Employer
Question: I was terminated from my employment and am applying for another job. I would like to know what is in my personnel file of my former employer, but my former employer refuses to provide me with a copy of the file. What can I do?

Answer: (February, 2009)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

Unfortunately, there is no requirement under Louisiana state law or federal law that requires an employer to provide a current or former employee with a copy of his or her "employee file." Should the former employee file suit against the former employer for some other reason, then the file can be obtained through the discovery process in that litigation, however.

Subject: Vacation Pay Upon Termination
Question: I was recently terminated, and I had accrued vacation. They did not include this in my last paycheck. They will not return my calls. Do I have any recourse in Louisiana or otherwise to get paid for these days?

Answer: (February, 2009)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

According to Louisiana Law, earned, accrued and unused vacation is considered a "wage," and thus payable upon termination of employment. Pursuant to La. R.S. 23:631 et seq., an employer is required to pay all earned, accrued and unused vacation on or before the next regular payday or within fifteen (15) days, whichever is sooner. The plaintiff may also be entitled to the recovery of up to 90 days penalty wages and attorney's fees.

Subject: Employment Discrimination
Question: I believe I was terminated due to my race and sexual orientation. What should I do?

Answer: (February, 2009)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as well as Louisiana law, provides that an employer can not make employment decisions based on an employee's race. Pursuant to federal law (Title VII), an employee that believed he or she has been terminated because of their race, must file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") within 300 days from the date of the alleged discriminatory act. Under state law, an employee need not file with an administrative agency first, but must file suit within one (1) year of the allegedly discriminatory act. Neither federal law nor Louisiana state law provides a remedy for discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Subject: Wage Claim and Defamation of Character
Question: I was falsely accused of stealing money from my employer, and was terminated. Now they will not pay me my final paycheck. This has caused me financial and emotional strain. How do I go about getting my money? Can I be compensated for the attack on my character?

Answer: (February, 2009)
David Moyer | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

Louisiana's Wage Payment statute, La. R.S. 23:631 et seq, provides that upon termination or resignation, an employer must pay an employee all earned wages on or before the next regular payday or no later than fifteen (15) days following the date of discharge or resignation, whichever is first. If your employer refuses to pay those wages timely, then the wage payment statute allows the recovery of the wage owed, attorney's fees and up to 90 days of penalty wages as well. The Louisiana Wage Payment statute does not allow the recovery of any other resultant financial or emotional damages. However, general tort law, in the form of a claim for defamation of character, may be available depending on the circumstances.

Subject: with held wages
Question: I submitted my resignation (provided two weeks notice) and my employer held my wages scheduled to have been paid 01/02/09 via direct deposit, This was done without any prior notice nor with any reason related to my current position or hours worked as an employee. I am scheduled to leave town this thursday 01/08/09 and would not only like to receive the paycheck witheld and also have my wages through my last day at work 01/06/09 paid on my last day, and I am wondering if I need to hire an attorney or is there another way to resolve this matter before I leave for a couple weeks. Thank you

Answer: (January, 2009)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

Louisiana's wage payment statute, La. R.S. 23:631 et seq., provides that an employee must be paid all wages earned within 15 days of resignation, or by the next regular payday, whichever is first. In your case, no wages are "due" yet because you haven't resigned yet (as your last day is not until January 6th). At this point, my advice would be to simply ask your employer if he will pay you for all time worked when you leave. If he refuses, then he will be in violation for not paying you for everything that was due on January 2nd, but will have until January 16th (presumably the next regular payday) to pay everything earned from January 2nd through January 6th.

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