Company Makes Hiring Mistake, Sues Employee To Get Money Back

from the maybe-they-should-sue-the-HR-department dept

The New York employee who was fired for playing solitaire should feel thankful. Melissa submits a story about a Delaware man whose company not only fired him for wasting time (listening to his iPod, making personal phone calls), but is also suing him to recoup back pay and $210,000 in lost profits. While some think there may be some basis for this in contract law, the claim seems dubious. Hiring risk should be a cost borne by the company, because they're who are actually making the hiring decision. Furthermore, calculating opportunity costs in a situation like this is difficult, though they could probably employ the same experts who claim that fantasy baseball and the NCAA tournament cost companies billions in lost productivity each year. Still, just by us discussing this story, the company is probably achieving its goal, to put fear into slacking employees everywhere.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    MissingFrame, May 5th, 2006 @ 10:30am

    In an Employee vs. Company environment ...

    ... employees always win. Employees can always do more damage to a company than vice versa, and if a company manages to upset EVERY employee it has, good luck staying in business.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    emichan, May 5th, 2006 @ 10:55am

    The problem with a lot of these companies, is that they don't realize that part of the cost of hiring human beings is that you actually have to treat them like human beings. The payoff for the company, though, is generally higher than the cost, because employees will usually repay the company with greater loyalty and productivity.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    imfbsbn, May 5th, 2006 @ 10:57am

    Can be a basis in law

    The employer/employee relationship is that of principle and agent. The agent must bear the fiduciary duties of fidelity, loyalty, and obedience. Should the agent (employee) breach these duties employer may have a cause of action in tort.

    Also, these relationships today are often governed by an employment contract. In which case the employer may have a breach of contract cause instead or as well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    COD, May 5th, 2006 @ 11:44am

    I wonder how much we cost our employers every day when we read Techdirt? ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    RMartin, May 5th, 2006 @ 11:52am

    More Firings?

    One of my fave quote:
    "Firings will continue until morale improves."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    JerseyRich, May 5th, 2006 @ 11:58am

    Finally! A company with some cojones!

    Think about it: employees can bring FAKE harassment claims, FAKE worker's comp claims, and FAKE wrongful termination claims against a company while the company's only option is to fire them and HOPE they didn't screw the business too badly.

    As an employer (can't you tell? :-P) I'm tired of cowering, waiting for the suit to come after I can some a$$ who couldn't be productive enough to keep his job.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    George S., May 5th, 2006 @ 12:10pm

    Re:

    Dick.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    JerseyRich Has None, May 5th, 2006 @ 12:40pm

    cojones that is!! But, as George S. so eliquently put it, he's got Dick!

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    JohnnyC, May 5th, 2006 @ 12:45pm

    Paid Enemies

    Employees are for the most part just paid enemies...soon or later most of them steal, lie, sell out to the other guy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Steve A., May 5th, 2006 @ 12:48pm

    Re: In an Employee vs. Company environment ...

    Amen to that. We operate in CA and the employee can do no wrong in this state. An employee who we terminated for theft was able to file for an win unemployment benefits.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Slickriven, May 5th, 2006 @ 12:49pm

    I don't see how JerseyRich is a Dick? I mean employees should be responsible for their actions. If employee AA is playing his iPod all day, or Solitare and making as much money or more than employee BB how is that fair. Fire employee AA and give BB a raise, BB's doing more work and deserves it. employee AA therefore has no one to blame but himself. If AA undertasked by his boss, ask for work, if he can't do it, ask to be reassigned.

    Problem with too many ppl today is they aren't responsible for their actions... it is pittiful that so many ppl are that way.

    Now assume you are employee BB is you...
    And employee AA is one of your superiors... fair, who's the Dick now?

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Don, May 5th, 2006 @ 12:53pm

    Employers

    Companies have chosen not to honor employer/employee relationships anymore so why should Employees?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Lost in Ohio, May 5th, 2006 @ 12:58pm

    Guess no one at the company ever heard the phrase, "You can't get blood from a turnip."? You fire a guy and then sue him and expect to reap some kind of compensation? Makes about as much sense as tits on a bull.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anony Cow, May 5th, 2006 @ 1:03pm

    Re:

    >>>If employee AA is playing his iPod all day, or Solitare and making as much money or more than employee BB how is that fair. Fire employee AA and give BB a raise, BB's doing more work and deserves it. employee AA therefore has no one to blame but himself.

    The problem is of course that some people can be productive and listen to a iPod, or play a game of Solitiar every once in a while.

    BB maybe doing more 'work', but doing more work doesn't always mean that the work they are doing is the most productive...

    Also what if employee AA in 5 of work is able to make the bussiness more money then it costs to pay his salary? It is silly to think that people can be 100% productive all the time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    gumdropsoup, May 5th, 2006 @ 1:06pm

    I would like to hire the guy to work for me

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Scott Emick, May 5th, 2006 @ 1:07pm

    hmmm...

    Very little incentive to do anything at my company, no raises or promotions for any length of time or type of performance. They welcome volunteer time from the employees though to make upper management $$$.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Slickriven, May 5th, 2006 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Re:

    Employee AA maybe productive with an iPod in his ear and maybe able to play solitare every once in a while. You are correct that no one can be expected to be 100% productive all day.

    If the Delaware man or the New York employee were still productive then the company should be smart enough to allow this activity (I am all for it) but if they are not then they deserve the axe 100%. Every individual works at different paces, with different needs and output levels. If AA can do the same amount of work as BB or CC in half the time with an iPod in his ear and solitare on his screen then fine... problem is, in this case, one would assume that the ppl who got canned were less productive and their toys/games pushed them to get fired.

    I don't see it as fair that the company sue the fool for lost profit, the company should have seen it earlier so the case against should fall, but he/she certainly deserves being fired if they're less productive.

    BTW - I am not an employeer, just an employee sick of some of the lazy and BS things that coworkers get away with all the time... and society's acceptance of it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2006 @ 1:18pm

    Happy employees

    Happy employees are productive employees.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    smokebreak, May 5th, 2006 @ 1:56pm

    I work in a tattoo shop in michigan. My co-workers are all sub-contracted, and only get paid for the work they do. Other than myself, they refuse to do any of the work around the shop (ie. cleaning, ordering supplies, customer service). I myself make an hourly wage and commision on all my piercings. The reason being is that the owner knows I take care of her shop for her. She realizes that I take the extra steps to insure her buisness runs to it's fullest potential. My problem is that 2 of my artists belive they should make an hourly wage also, because I do. This causes tension in our workplace because they feel like their being treated unfairly. The owner of the buisness is the one responsible for managing her employee's pay and work expected. I myself find time for diversions online, and music's no issue here. Work with your employee's/employers. If you or they feel that there's an inequality, address it BEFORE it becomes a problem, because by then it's already a habit. If you feel your getting the short end of the stick, do something about it. If my co-workers were hourly also, there's no way i'd be doing as much as i do. Keep a relationship with your employer/employee, it's much less hastle than court and corruption

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    smokebreak, May 5th, 2006 @ 1:56pm

    I work in a tattoo shop in michigan. My co-workers are all sub-contracted, and only get paid for the work they do. Other than myself, they refuse to do any of the work around the shop (ie. cleaning, ordering supplies, customer service). I myself make an hourly wage and commision on all my piercings. The reason being is that the owner knows I take care of her shop for her. She realizes that I take the extra steps to insure her buisness runs to it's fullest potential. My problem is that 2 of my artists belive they should make an hourly wage also, because I do. This causes tension in our workplace because they feel like their being treated unfairly. The owner of the buisness is the one responsible for managing her employee's pay and work expected. I myself find time for diversions online, and music's no issue here. Work with your employee's/employers. If you or they feel that there's an inequality, address it BEFORE it becomes a problem, because by then it's already a habit. If you feel your getting the short end of the stick, do something about it. If my co-workers were hourly also, there's no way i'd be doing as much as i do. Keep a relationship with your employer/employee, it's much less hastle than court and corruption

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Joe Shmoe, May 5th, 2006 @ 2:52pm

    Re: Assuming...

    "If AA can do the same amount of work as BB or CC in half the time with an iPod in his ear and solitare on his screen then fine... problem is, in this case, one would assume that the ppl who got canned were less productive and their toys/games pushed them to get fired. "

    Don't forget that assuming makes an a$$ out of u and me. Have you ever heard of Perfomance Punishment?

    I've known my fair share of lazy, unproductive, stupid managers in my career. The only thing keeping my company afloat is that our personel dept. managed to hire self motivated workers.

    Yet sadly our current managers run the business as though we are in the 1900's and exert unreasonable demands on the most productive. Once again: Performance Punishment!

    That is why 5 of us are leaving to greener pastures! Yeah less than 2 weeks to go!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    silver, May 5th, 2006 @ 3:10pm

    Re: Re: Assuming...

    Lets get some facts straight this is no longer the 1930;s there is little if any loyalty anymore, by emplyees or employers. But the fatcs are employers take the risk and reap the rewards or costs when they do anything including hiring employees therefore they can bear the brunt of a bad employee just like they reap the rewards of a good employee. It's been said Employers only pay enough to keep there workers and workers only work hard enough to keep there job. By the way I am a computer/network technican so I am actually doing my job by reading techdirt :P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    bent over, May 5th, 2006 @ 4:38pm

    goes both ways

    I have seen the lazy employee and I have also worked for the over-bearing non-paying employer. There are extemes in different places. I would like to believe that most employees work as requested and that employers pay their staff the appropriate amount per the job. Currently, in my position, I feel most of the time bent over and taking it with a bit of sand thrown in. The employer has not scruples and believes in only the bottom line. If an employee gets sick more than 3 days, their fired. Now, tell me how that is fair.

    Signed:
    Bent Over, taking it with my ankeles banging on the boss's desk!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    godric, May 6th, 2006 @ 1:58am

    Re: hmmm...

    Do you get a paycheck? Then you have incentive to work. If you do not thing that is fair, then you can visit your local soup kitchen, because I don't need you anymore.

    Your job is to come to work, do the work assigned and go home when told to do so. And depending on the industry, you do need to ask to take a break or use the restroom. The workplace is not a democracy. It never has been.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Joe Shmoe, May 6th, 2006 @ 9:05am

    Re: hmmm...

    Get out of the 18th Century buddy!!! Maybe your biz would do better if you treated your employees less like a piece of meat and more like human beings with rights!

    In most industries people are your greatest asset and the good ones almost always leave when the work conditions don't acknowledge this.

    If you want stoopid employees, keep thinking that way!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Joe Shmoe, May 6th, 2006 @ 9:06am

    Re: hmmm...

    Get out of the 18th Century buddy!!! Maybe your biz would do better if you treated your employees less like a piece of meat and more like human beings with rights!

    In most industries people are your greatest asset and the good ones almost always leave when the work conditions don't acknowledge this.

    If you want stoopid employees, keep thinking that way!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Silver, May 6th, 2006 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Re: hmmm...

    Good thing you said it twice so he'd get the point :)
    Some employers think they acquire god status when they start a company, and don't realize the reason they hired someone is to help them make money and that they are an asset that shouldn't be thrown away, cause when there gone and you need someone fast then all you get is crap employees, which is what you deserve

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2006 @ 3:31pm

    Most of the morons posting to this thread couldn't get hired simply due to their poor spelling. Simply amazing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    PeanutButter, May 6th, 2006 @ 9:25pm

    ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmmmm....

    Wouldn't it be ironic if Bill Gates listened to an iPod while all of his little working bees worked on a Mac to create the new Windows Vista?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    bud, Jun 6th, 2006 @ 9:26am

    Suing for salary

    F the big companies. CEO's make way too much and most of them are f'n idiots. I would love for my company to sue me for past salary so I could expose what really goes on and how little management actually does. Attorneys nor legal department employees do not scare me. They are big talkers who threaten others but are weak individuals who are compensating for their own inadequacies so screw you you legal hypocrites.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    lou, Jul 15th, 2006 @ 4:17pm

    Re: In an Employee vs. Company environment ...

    well said

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2007 @ 10:39am

    nothing is fair

    It is just too bad, because we are still under the "at Will" doctrine concerning employees. Both sides of the business can say "I'm done with you". period.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    NJC, Sep 26th, 2007 @ 8:33pm

    Re: ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmmmm....

    No they used Windows XP. Can't you tell how great Vista Is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    descendedslave, Jul 14th, 2010 @ 1:39pm

    reap what you sow

    All of this started from the wicked Egyptians who past their power unto “Ancient Rome” (Germanies, Britain, etc – Europe). Leaving that history behind us – enough said, they, over a few centuries, set up a system in which we (this generation) must depend on now to “survive” called “working for a paycheck/salary”. In essence these sort of people which are still around because the blood of these vampires are still circulating in bodies today have in their mindset to divide and conquer in the country they abide. In other words they aim to have the biggest food store chain, fast food restaurants, banks, etc just to say they can go to a private resort and sit down next to a pool whilst sipping a glass of lemonade. In case I threw you guys off and for me not to get to deep in this let me just say that I am talking about those employers.

    Employees/ “slave”, stand firm and do what is required of you BUT do not take sh*t from no one what you wouldn’t take from your mother or father even if it is for your bread and water (salary). Keep in mind that having morals is much more valuable than money.

    P.S. – too many people today are caught up in what they think people would say if they saw them in a break down car or holes in their t-shirt (vanity) instead of the bigger picture what is to help one another. For a job is both the aid for employer and employee, except the latter is more down to earth and don’t have his/her head in it’s a$$

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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