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Donald W. Heyrich

Donald Heyrich’s Answers

193 total


  • Age discrimination / retaliation

    in january i formally notified my employer that i believed i was being denied a salary increase because of my age (51). that same day, i was locked out of my email and computer system, a younger employee was promoted into the terminal manager posi...

    Donald’s Answer

    Now, of course. You should retain an attorney to assist you on the EEOC process, advise you on your options, and help you understand whether you are entitled to damages, and if so how much. Many employment attorneys, including my office, will provide a free consultation in this situation. It is worth looking into. You may decide later to represent yourself during the EEOC process, but you can never have too much information.

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  • Employment requirements

    was wondering if a small company can legally make a seminar after work hours mandatory and unpaid?

    Donald’s Answer

    It's probably not a good idea. If you are covered by the fair labor standards act, mandatory training will be considered time worked. Attendance at lectures, meetings, training programs, and similar activities is not counted as work time if all of the following four criteria are met: (1) attendance is outside normal work hours, (2) attendance is voluntary, (3) is not job related, and (4) no other work is concurrently performed. Your question seems to ask, though, whether a small company is not covered. You should check to see whether Illinois law might in any event provide a claim. I don't know. Here in Washington, for example, a claim can proceed under state law even if the federal Fair Labor Standards Act does not apply. As far as coverage under the FLSA, unlike most other state and federal employment laws, the FLSA does not depend directly upon the number of employees. The FLSA covers individual employees whose work affects interstate commerce, or it can apply to all employees working for an employer that is covered as an enterprise that is involved in interstate commerce. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the courts have attached broad meaning to the term "interstate commerce". For instance, it is generally assumed that businesses situated along U.S. and interstate highways are involved in interstate commerce, simply because they can easily get customers from out of state by virtue of their easy access from the highway. Similarly, any employee who routinely orders materials or supplies from out of state vendors, or who sells to out of state customers, is assumed to be involved in interstate commerce. In a very real sense, practically anything in connection with our modern, networked economy is going to be sufficient to be considered involvement in interstate commerce. The vast majority of businesses can save themselves a lot of time and legal expenses by going ahead and assuming they and all their employees are covered under the FLSA.

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  • Restructured out but am being replaced after 4 months.

    Can an employer terminate an employee in WA State with "restructuring" as the cause (job is eliminated), and then post the same job for a better hourly wage 4 months later? What can the restructured out employee do?

    Donald’s Answer

    Yes. The employer can hire and fire at will unless the employee has a contract with a guarantee of continued employment or unless the decision is made for prohibited reasons, such as age, sex, race, disability, etc. If you have evidence that one of those prohibited factors was a reason for the employer's decision, you can contact an attorney or file an administrative charge with the EEOC or Washington State Human Rights Commission.

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  • Breaks at work

    My friend is working a job and the normal break that she takes that isn't her lunch one they only give her ten minutes and expect her to stay in the store if she wants to leave the store she has to clock out. Shouldn't they be paying her for her ...

    Donald’s Answer

    For information on requirements for breaks and meal periods under Washington law, go here: http://www.lni.wa.gov/WorkplaceRights/Wages/HoursBreaks/Breaks/default.asp

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  • Wrongful terminaltion

    What recourse do I have with an "at-will" organization when I'm terminated for reasons that don't exist?

    Donald’s Answer

    If you are at will, I assume you mean that you have no contractual employment agreement that guarantees employment except for just cause dismissal. As an at will employee, your employer can terminate you without a reason. Being unfair, making a mistake, or even making a decision based on "reasons that don't exist" is not illegal. On the other hand, even in an at will setting, an employer may not take an adverse employment action for discriminatory reasons or for reasons that violate public policy. Also, you may qualify for unemployment benefits.

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  • My ex employer wont pay me my final pay

    my ex employer will not pay me for the last pay period i worked and has not pay'd into any of my fica,ssi,or u&i.

    Donald’s Answer

    You should contact the employer regarding payment. If the employer fails to pay wages due, your best options might be to file a complaint with the Department of Labor & Industries or to go to small claims court for the wages, and double damages if the withholding is willful. See the links below.

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  • Severence pay

    Is there a law about giving severence pay to an emloyee? They Terminated my position even my department was making good money for the company and i was the only one knows how to do the job of all the management team.

    Donald’s Answer

    Whether your are eligible for severance pay will depend on (a) whether there is a written agreement, policy, employee benefit plan, or some other enforceable promise for severance pay, and (b) whether you meet the eligibility criteria. Generally there is no right to severance pay unless one of things will apply. You should, however, look into unemployment insurance.

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  • Abusive disruptive behavior

    Our employee has been ask several times about his unsafe driving on our customers property. Today he was told yet again to follow all road signs and safety procedures. His response was to tell the foreman to [deleted] off. Do we have to warn this ...

    Donald’s Answer

    You can always terminate anyone. The question is how much risk you are taking on and whether you are comfortable with that. Is the person in a union or does he otherwise have any "just cause" protection? If not, and he is an at will employee, you can end the relationship without needing any reason. Still, risks could arise, ranging from the cost of an uneployment claim to a wrongful discharge or discrimination case depending on the facts and circumstances. Risks would be minimized if you have an at will employee, no facts that would support discrimination or retaliation based on prohibited factors, a record of poor performance, and similar treatment of other employees in similar circumstances. It's difficult to give better guidance based on the few facts given but those are some general principles that might help.

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  • Employee damage

    can an employee be made to pay for damage caused to the workplace or in the performance of his job?

    Donald’s Answer

    Yes, but in very limited circumstances. Take a look at these two regulations from the Washington Department of Labor & Industries. Note that the regulation sets forth examples of when deductions are NOT permitted during ongoing employment:

    "The following are examples of situations when deductions are not allowed from the employee's wages during an on-going employment relationship:

    Example 1. Customer's bad check or credit card: The amount of a customer's check that is returned for nonsufficient funds when an employee accepts a check in violation of established policies, or if an employee accepts a customer's bad credit card in violation of established policies.

    Example 2. Shortage from cash register: The amount of a till shortage even when an employee participates in cash accounting at the beginning and end of their shift, has sole access to the cash register, and is short at the end of the shift.

    Example 3. Customer walks out without paying: An unpaid bill when a customer leaves the restaurant without paying even when an employee is not watching their customers at a restaurant and ignores the fact the customers are finished dining and are ready for their check.

    Example 4. Damage or loss: The cost for replacing broken glasses when the employee drops a tray of glasses when unloading the dishwasher."

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  • Payroll

    I'm an independent contractor working in washington state for a company based out of miami, fl. The contract states that I would be compensated for my work within the first week of the month. Well that hasn't been happening the commpany has been s...

    Donald’s Answer

    If the contract is clear and the company is not performing their promise in the agreement, then you would have recourse to bring an action for breach of contract. But, realistically, if you are paid you have no real damages other than for the delay in payment so that is not a great option. You can try reminding them of the agreement, and doing so in writing if you need to (assuming that asserting this right is important enough for take flak for the complaint). If they stop paying you altogether, then you can consider your rights under the wage payment statutes, which provide double damages for wages that are willfully withheld.

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