Former employer harassment

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Latest post 03-05-2013 2:46 PM by Taxagent. 11 replies.
  • 03-05-2013 12:37 PM

    Former employer harassment

    A few weeks ago I was contacted by my former employer, and his attorney, that they want me to give a pre-deposition that my former boss was not aware of a tax situation in another state, or, in my former employer's words, "I will file fraud charges against you."  No suit has been filed against my former employer; this is all proactive on his attorney's part.  I was the office manager, signed for some certified letters, put the letters on my boss's desk, or in a folder on my desk to review with him when he returned to the office.

    After speaking with an attorney, and being told not to give the pre-deposition under any circumstances, I relayed that information to my former employer's attorney, also stating that the continued contact by his client was aggravating my current cancer situation, and that I needed all badgering, harassment, and contact to stop; that I was in fear for myself, my health and my life.  The response I got back was "It is too bad that you are now not willing to help us out.  Therefore, the offer is withdrawn and we will now pursue all of my client's legal remedies. As for your allegations of being in physical fear from either my client or me, those fears, if any, are purely your own fiction." 

    Today I received a text message from the wife of a former co-worker that my former employer "is looking for me to sue me for fraud."

    I have not worked for this employer for over 2 years.  Do I have any recourse against him for slander, and the harassment?

    Thank you in advance.

  • 03-05-2013 12:43 PM In reply to

    • FallenM
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    Re: Former employer harassment

    Uhm, this is extortion and I'd be contacting local and state police.  Did this attorney you consulted not say that?  :)  That said, I don't see any reason to go overboard in terms of any inference of bodily harm (vs. legal repercussions as it relates to "I was in fear for myself, my health and my life").  You can't and won't be aggravated if you simply ignore future communication that doesn't come in the form of a subpoena.  Naturally, you're not obligated to agree to any interview or "pre-deposition" or sign any affidavit or declaration.

    I'd respond to the former co-worker spouse and request that they please not contact you again.  Report any subsequent contact to police, whether your state has anti-telephone abuse/harassment laws or not.

    There's been no slander as such so far, but instead defamation (if verbal) per se or (if written) libel per se as it relates to "file fraud charges against you" (assertion of criminal behavior).

    I'd discuss with police and, if former employer goes to police, a local civil litigation attorney.  It may be that you might want to engage attorney to send a cease and desist letter and warning of consequences of defamation or libel per se.  Because CO is one if a minority of states where there are still criminal consequences for defamation per se as it relates to DEAD folks, you can presume that CO is one of the states where defamation/libel per se is still technically a crime if committed against the living.  :)  (This isn't to say that police or prosecutor would pursue, but ...)

  • 03-05-2013 12:59 PM In reply to

    Re: Former employer harassment

    I'm not going overboard;  the stress of working for that man caused my cancer to come back, and after getting it 85% in remission, the cancer activity has once again picked back up, as show in recent bloodwork, thus the "health" comment.  I was in fear of this man's manipulations when I worked for him, and am now, knowing what he has done in the past.

    And no, the attorney I spoke with did not say it was extortion.

    As to the spouse of the former co-worker, I am their daughter's godmother, and the employer thinks he can get to me through them.

  • 03-05-2013 1:14 PM In reply to

    • DPH
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    Re: Former employer harassment

    yourvirtualtemp:
    After speaking with an attorney

    One thought, and probably the best way to handle, is for you retain an attorney to deal with whatever your ex-employer thinks they are going to do.  Discuss with your attorney what it would take for that person to handle any relevant correspondence from the other attorney.  Your attorney might be able to stop whatever is going on easily or would at least be in a good position to defend you in case of a lawsuit.

    What do you think, if you have any idea, would your ex-employer have in the way fraud charges?  Did you leave their employ underquestionable circumstances or something?  Are they maybe laying the foundation for a defense on something that is about to happen to them? 

    In any case, I would have a serious discussion with your attorney on ways to handle this situation.  Then maybe you could just refer them to your attorney.

     

     

    "Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience."  -  Mark Twain

     

  • 03-05-2013 1:22 PM In reply to

    Re: Former employer harassment

     

    I suggest you use your answering system to screen calls and quit talking to the attorney or your former employer. Don't respond to any correspondence. As for the former co-worker, one time say back off and if they bring it up again (it means they are now your enemy) resign as godmother and cease any further communication.

    There are two possible things that could happen.

    1 - The authorities might come to your door to question you.  The chances of that are slim. Say no comment and learn how to repeat over and over if you have to. You have the right to remain silent. Exercize your ability. If you get arrested, don't talk, call a lawyer.

    2 - You might get served with a subpoena to give a deposition and/or testify. If that happens, consult an attorney (civil or criminal depending on whether it's a civil or criminal case) and insist on having your attorney present in case they are trying to set you up.

    It's unfortunate that you are in the middle of all this but until either 1 or 2 actually happens I don't see why you can't ignore it (other than reporting the threats to the authorities or the state bar that regulates attorneys) and not lose any sleep over it.

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 03-05-2013 1:28 PM In reply to

    Re: Former employer harassment

    Yes, they are laying the foundation in the chance they will be sued by the other state for non-filing/payment of taxes.

  • 03-05-2013 1:40 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Former employer harassment

    Your ex employer is probably free to do a war dance  and if you exhibit signs of fear he may even step up the war chants --how far he can go w/o stepping over the line is beyond me --but I think your primary defense is to completely shut him off and tune him out --stop communicating at all to anybody as to anyting on this matter--but for your own counsel if you go that route. .

    If he elects to depose you --so be it --you stick to the truth

    A threat of do something or else I will report your supposed conduct to law enforcement is probably over the line and into  extortion --but I'm not sure the EX is clearly over the line and I doubt law enforcement would give such possible extortion much attention --but me--I's sure keep exquisite track of any such threats --and written recollection of pasts ones.

     



  • 03-05-2013 1:54 PM In reply to

    • FallenM
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    Re: Former employer harassment

    Threatening to do X (report someone to the police for instance) unless someone does Y is extortion/blackmail, particularly if the poster committed no relevant acts.  Whether the police (state or local) have anything better to do depends on a lot of things.  Sometimes they will pursue stuff merely for entertainment purposes, trust me.  :)

  • 03-05-2013 2:24 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Former employer harassment

    It could be ant employer is over the line

    For example, Colorado law states that any person "who communicates threats to another person with the intention thereby to obtain anything of value or any acquaintance, advantage, or immunity is guilty of extortion" (C.S.S. ¤ 28-3.1-543).

    And the more severe issues and felony penalities are found under aggrevated extortion  CSS 18 3 207

    But I think you smarter to NOT go there  w/o counsel first.

    Might be more interesting to have ones counsel tip off the investigating agency/attorney and ask why person ABC is so interested in person QRS --but even that has its risks of a fire fight.



  • 03-05-2013 2:42 PM In reply to

    • Kivi
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    Re: Former employer harassment

    There is probably more to this whole discussion than what you said. However, I recommend that you not go into all of the details here.

    If you do think that you are being "set up as the fall guy", then do not cooperate with the company or its managers, etc. until you have discussed it with your own attorney.

    Get your own attorney and let him or her handle this matter.

    What most people call harassment is perfectly legal. While I do think that what was said may have been over the line, I doubt that you will get anywhere with an "extortion" allegation, as suggested by others.

    If the authorities are conducting a a tax fraud investigation, whether civil or criminal, you likely can be subpeonaed by either side, if someone with the company or the government believes that you have relevant info. Most tax fraud investigations are civil, but some are criminal. You can't know  two years out, exactly what is going on, but I would definitely "tred with caution". 

     

     

     

  • 03-05-2013 2:42 PM In reply to

    • FallenM
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    Re: Former employer harassment

    I'm sorry, but you cannot categorically attribute stress as having "caused my cancer to come back"; it simply isn't scientifically possible to pin that down, let alone a particular source of it.  Besides, how you handle stress is entirely on you (and continuing to work for someone who causes it in the first place is a voluntary choice).

    "And no, the attorney I spoke with did not say it was extortion."

    Yeah, well, that's not a very bright attorney.  :)

    "As to the spouse of the former co-worker, I am their daughter's godmother, and the employer thinks he can get to me through them."

    Neither here nor there, but I'd explicitly tell the person that you don't want to hear from her/him again (at least not about this topic).

  • 03-05-2013 2:46 PM In reply to

    Re: Former employer harassment

    FallenM:
    Uhm, this is extortion and I'd be contacting local and state police. 

    It might be extortion; the details matter. But if there is any chance the OP is at risk of a fraud prosecution, he or she really needs to consult a Colorado criminal defense attorney before talking to anyone, especially law enforcement. Note that Colorado does not have a state police. It has a state highway patrol and its jurisdiction is limited to enforcement in highway related matters. The proper agency to contact is either the city police or, if the threat was not made in any city, the county sheriff.

    FallenM:
    There's been no slander as such so far, but instead defamation (if verbal) per se or (if written) libel per se as it relates to "file fraud charges against you" (assertion of criminal behavior).

    You do understand that defamation is the term that covers both slander (verbal defamation) and libel (written defamation) right? Thus, asserting that there is no slander but that there is verbal defamation makes no sense.

    Also, whether there was any defamation here obviously depends on the exact statement made and whether the statement asserted as fact something that is untrue. There is not enough information here to know whether any defamation occurred. 

    FallenM:
    I'd discuss with police and, if former employer goes to police, a local civil litigation attorney. 

    Understand that generally complaints to law enforcement have a high degree of protection. A defamation claim for a complaint to the police isn't likely to succeed. 

    FallenM:
    Because CO is one if a minority of states where there are still criminal consequences for defamation per se as it relates to DEAD folks, you can presume that CO is one of the states where defamation/libel per se is still technically a crime if committed against the living.  :)  (This isn't to say that police or prosecutor would pursue, but ...)

    That's incorrect. The Colorado legislature last year repealed its criminal libel statute, effective September 1, 2012. It is no longer possible to be convicted of criminal libel in Colorado for statements made on or after that date.

    I suggest that the OP simply ignore what he or she is hearing from the former employer and co-workers. There is no obligation to participate in any deposition or providing any statement for the former employer unless a subpoena is served. If that occurs, consult a Colorado attorney about how to handle it.

    The ex-employer is free to make a fraud complaint to the police if he wishes. The OP cannot stop that and trying to interfere with that presents possible criminal problems of its own. The DA won't file charges unless there is some evidence to support the claim. If the OP is contacted by police, again a lawyer should be consulted. 

    Otherwise, at this stage it is probably not worth contacting the former employer to threaten anything (e.g. defamation lawsuits, whatever). That simply risks adding fuel to the fire, as it were. The ex-boss is going to be primarly focused on his own legal problems — the tax case that is apparently pending against him. Let that remain his focus, rather than focusing his attention on the OP.

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