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Old 1st February 2006, 10:44 AM   #1
AUII
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Default They want my contact/client list - And THEY made me an Independent Contractor!

I've worked for the same company for the last 11.5 years. In that time I've gone from contract employee to hourly, to salary, to contract, to salary + commission, commission only, salary and then where I am now as an "Independent contractor" with commission only. They made this move to IC in February of 2005 to save them thousands of dollars in payroll taxes that they would have to pay if I remained an employee of the company.
In the last year, they have continually refused to give/design/implement a contract with me that would establish the relationship as an IC. Thus, they have continued to reap the benefits of all my work while I get paid when they see fit. I went along with their "rules" because the money was great (when I got it) but now I see things differently.
I received a call from the owner of the company wanting my contact/client list in the event that I seek employment elsewhere. They said that they want to make sure that there's no argument as to which sales belong to whom. There's only 1 other salesman in the company and he works mainly in an entirely different industry and he's only been doing sales for us for 2 years. He's also a personal friend of the owner of the company and only makes up 15% of the sales and revenue of the company. They have, in the past, taken my contact list and farmed it out to him stating, "That there's no way you can handle so many accounts on your own. We'll take these leads that you've generated and let him work on X many of them."
Now, my question is, how do I tell him that I am not going to hand over my list?
All these points have been mentioned before during company meetings.

Any help would be appreciated.

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Old 1st February 2006, 12:36 PM   #2
Maverick
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AUII

I suggest you consult an attorney on this matter because (if you live in the USA), that list may be the property of your company. If they can establish you WERE an employee and you developed some or all of these contacts as a result of your pid employment, you have a problem.

Only an attorney can evaluate you current situation and apply current legal advice. This is a VERY sensitive issue, I've seen MANY times, and the company has ALWAYS won, unless an attorney can determine extinusting circumstances.

For sake of argument, playinf Devil's Advocate, what is your option. The way I see it, is to be very friendly, trying to GET IT IN WRITING that you will continue to receive commissions with your existing clients, if you feel you have them coming.

Did you fill out a non-compete contract. If you believe you will be forced to turn your list over to them, then START WORKING YOUR CLIENTS to win them over to your side BEFORE they can get to them. This is done effectively everyday.

They probably already know most of your clients anyway, if they've handeled the billing. They just want to fill-in-the-gaps to be sure they aren't missing anyone.

Who's too say the list is COMPLETE, but if it isn't they may present records showing you had other clients AND may be setting a trap hoping they can prove you held back. Of course this is all academic without a court order but I wouldn't assume anything.

Fir years I've served as a corporate troubleshooter, helping them fight and win battles in the field and in your wildest dreams, you couln't believe some of the ruthless, inconsiderate, dishonest (morally, not legally), unethical, and greedy actions I've witnessed from uppger management, when it comes to cheating or evening ruining the reputation of a faithful employee of many years. GREED is KING in corporate America, and the BIG DOGS generally eat the LITTL DOGS.

Recap, see an attorney, FAST, and start planning you exit strategy!!!

Hang in there,
Maverick

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Old 1st February 2006, 12:50 PM   #3
AUII
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Maverick,

Thanks for the advice. I don't have a no-competition contract or clause. I do live in the States (Texas to be exact) and as far as the type of lawyer, which type (I.E., Labor lawyer or simply general counsel?)
I know they can get in trouble with Workforce Commission, IRS, Social Security, etc., but do I also contact the U.S. Dept. of Labor or should my first trip be to a lawyer's office and let them work it out?

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Old 1st February 2006, 01:10 PM   #4
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Maverick gives good advice, I'd listen to him.

Personally, I'd go visit a lawyer before calling th Department of Labor or anyone else. Find out where you sit before deciding what your next steps are.

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Old 1st February 2006, 01:38 PM   #5
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Default thejenn is right!

Thejenn is right, I wouldn't make any move until first visiting a lawyer. Keep it LOW KEY for now and load up on the ammo :>) A labor attorney (specialist – Not ALL Specialist are created equal – Get one with STRONG references) would be my first choice, if they are highly experienced working with 1099 independent contractors AND employee relations.

Years, ago, I sought advice from a corporate specialist, a well known attorney. He gave the WORST advice I've ever received from a lawyer. I should have seen a security specialist, not corporate attorney. And I was quite sophisticated at the time. This was the most EXPENSIVE business lesson I have ever learned. It LITERALLY cost me MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. I STILL GET EXCITED RELATING THIS! (Down boy, remember your blood pressure - Sorry, I'm OK Now).

If you feel you have a legal leg to stand on, but a fight is unavoidable, try and get your opponent (your company) to settle things by arbitration. They are generally, quite sophisticated, impartial, and CHEAP! Beats HIGH legal bills. The winner doesn't always get court fees, but that's another story for another time.


The company MIGHT have problems with other regulators, but YOU might also. Again, see that attorney. He will SAVE you a world of grief and $$. At $350 an hour he/she would be a bargain.

Regards,
Maverick

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Last edited by Maverick; 1st February 2006 at 01:46 PM.
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Old 1st February 2006, 01:43 PM   #6
AUII
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Thank you all for the assistance and advice and I'll start looking for a labor lawyer in my area. Thanks again!

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Old 1st February 2006, 01:53 PM   #7
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Default Isn't This forum a VALUABLE Provision!

You're more than welcome. I really would have loved to had access to the Internet with its ability to Network and gain the support of other like minded individuals, experienced in many areas, and willing to share and help others, in my ealier days.

What goes around really does come around. Just the satisfaction of knowing an intelligent person will sidestep a mountain of "virtual" (mental?) pain gives one great satisfaction. I wish I could thank the MANY other kindred sprits that have selflessly helped me over the years.

This is just an expression of gratitude to ALL of you here helping others. It gave me the Inspiration to JUMP in too!

Kindest regards,
Maverick

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Old 1st February 2006, 02:07 PM   #8
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Maverick is giving the best advice I have seen on a forum. You mentioned you have been a contract employee before. Were you contracting with others in the industry at the time? Don’t want to talk to government before an attorney. I worry about taxes in the government first. The greed of owners that Maverick mentions is only out done by the lack of reasonableness our bureaucracy shows.

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Old 1st February 2006, 07:35 PM   #9
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Great advice about contacting a lawyer Maverick. In today's society attorneys are required more than we might like to think and that is why I got involved in my network marketing business.

AUII, if you need assistance finding an attorney, I can try to put you in touch with someone in Texas that can show you how you may benefit in this case from a membership from Pre-Paid Legal Services®, Inc. which will allow you to get the legal advice you need. Please take a look at the website www.prepaidlegal.com to review the information about the benefits of the membership and please contact me if you need additional information. You may be able to save money and get the advice you need.

Good luck to you.

I also recommend the memberships to all forum members from the U.S. and the applicable provinces in Canada - Ont., Man., Alb. & B.C. - that need legal advice.


Last edited by Cesco; 1st February 2006 at 07:38 PM.
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Old 2nd February 2006, 02:24 AM   #10
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Contacting an attorney will be a good investment, without a doubt. It sounds like your boss is thinking about shedding some commission weight.

You're in an interesting position, though it sounds like you might not know it.

You mentioned you have an Independent Contractor relationship with this company, but what you define as an IC relationship is almost certainly not what the government says it is. (You're going to like this. )

As an IC, your customer is the company, not the people you're selling to. Do you also represent other companies? If you've only got the one company as your customer then you're NOT an IC. At least in the eyes of the Fed. There are a bunch of other requirements that must be in place before you're a real IC, like you having a business license, but having more than one customer is a big one. The thing is, the government frowns on employers trying to get over on them by claiming they have IC's when they really have employees. In fact, they frown on it so much that the IRS will not only make them pay all of the back payroll taxes they're responsible for, they'll also make them pay all of your portion as well. So I hope you made a million bucks in commissions because you won't owe any taxes on it.

But your attorney will give you the best advice.

Good luck,
Mike

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