What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

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Anonymous User
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What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 14, 2015 4:27 pm

A former employer (partner at a regional law firm; there are no offices outside of the state) is refusing to pay me despite months of waiting time unless I destroy the work produce/ e-documents he sent me. There is no client; this is just research for research's sake. When I told him via email that this is concerning, he called me to tell me between insults that:

1. I must destroy the documents or he won't pay me.

I checked the employment contract; it didn't stipulate anything about destruction, just return of work product. I agreed to return the work products, but regarding email communications, I mentioned that I will have to check with the bar to see if this is ethical behavior (a few classmates mentioned it may not be, so check with the bar). This I mentioned to him, but he threatened not to pay me again. He said he will not wait a week for destruction of documents; he wants it gone immediately. I told him this is, again, concerning. He tells me, again between insults:

2. If I report him to the bar for not paying me, he will sue me for defamation.

I did not say I would report him. (Tbh, I think he misheard me when I saw I will have to retain records of this employment for my bar passage.) Most of the communications were by email, so I have a paper trail of this. What do I do with him now?
Last edited by Anonymous User on Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:04 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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AreJay711
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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby AreJay711 » Tue Apr 14, 2015 4:31 pm

Why don't you want to destroy the documents?

It's probably not defamation to report him, but it doesn't seem worth a fight. You are going to need this dude (or someone at his firm) when time comes to be admitted to the bar. You don't want to win this.

Anonymous User
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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 14, 2015 4:35 pm

If he has copies of everything you have, making you destroy it probably isn't unethical. He has satisfied any retention requirements with his own records and just doesn't want client documents floating around with some former employee.

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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 14, 2015 4:38 pm

AreJay711 wrote:Why don't you want to destroy the documents?

It's probably not defamation to report him, but it doesn't seem worth a fight. You are going to need this dude (or someone at his firm) when time comes to be admitted to the bar. You don't want to win this.


OP

It's not so much I don't want to destroy the documents as I'm curious why he's requesting this. A little background. He claims he sent me a check and that it was cashed; this was a month ago. When I showed him I received no check, ignored me after telling me it was sent to an address that was similar to mine but didn't exist. Only after I contacted his firm did I find out he didn't have me on record as working for them. Then he stated in an email that he will not pay me until I destroy all work products. Overall, he's a concerning person...

I forgot to mention, there was no client involved, just data analysis. This was not for a case.

Regarding the bar, I called them and they said this happens a lot and are not concerned. I asked if I should just write an affidavit and attach corresponding emails, and they said that would help.

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JohannDeMann
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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby JohannDeMann » Tue Apr 14, 2015 4:38 pm

just destroy the documents?

FSK
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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby FSK » Tue Apr 14, 2015 4:42 pm

JohannDeMann wrote:just destroy the documents?


Destroy the documents, take the money, and apologize. There's no value in justice here.

pattyw2008
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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby pattyw2008 » Tue Apr 14, 2015 4:43 pm

Wouldn't the ethical problem be that a former employee is keeping attorney work product outside of the office? I've worked in many places and it was common place that when I left I would forward all documents to the employer and destroy any additional copies I maintained. With the exception of redacted memos or such for writing sample purposes. Destroy your files.

As far as getting paid, that's an HR issue... take it up the flagpole at the firm.

Anonymous User
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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 14, 2015 4:50 pm

pattyw2008 wrote:Wouldn't the ethical problem be that a former employee is keeping attorney work product outside of the office? I've worked in many places and it was common place that when I left I would forward all documents to the employer and destroy any additional copies I maintained. With the exception of redacted memos or such for writing sample purposes. Destroy your files.

As far as getting paid, that's an HR issue... take it up the flagpole at the firm.



the problem was that there is no client involved, and he had "interesting" behavior before. i already spoke with HR; they're claiming no connection with this guy's hiring activities because, again, there was no client involved

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AreJay711
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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby AreJay711 » Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:10 pm

Drop a complaint to whatever agency supervises the bar in his state if you really want to. In NY it would be one of the attorney grievance committees. I wouldn't unless you have more than you're telling us, but that's how you do it.

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Other25BeforeYou
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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby Other25BeforeYou » Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:14 pm

I am so confused. Why is it concerning that he wants you to destroy the documents he sent you? Does he want you to destroy the emails in which he said he'd pay you too or something?

There may be other issues at play that you're not telling us, but demanding that you destroy documents he sent is not odd at all if you're no longer working for him. I mean you'll still have the emails in which he says that you completed the work and that he already sent you the check so you'll still be able to show that you did the work for which you haven't been compensated.

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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:21 pm

Other25BeforeYou wrote:I am so confused. Why is it concerning that he wants you to destroy the documents he sent you? Does he want you to destroy the emails in which he said he'd pay you too or something?

There may be other issues at play that you're not telling us, but demanding that you destroy documents he sent is not odd at all if you're no longer working for him. I mean you'll still have the emails in which he says that you completed the work and that he already sent you the check so you'll still be able to show that you did the work for which you haven't been compensated.


That's the real problem... it seems his request was for me to destroy not only the work products, but our email exchanges as well. This includes his assertions about the check that never arrived, as well as his refusal to pay me until I delete everything. In other words, it's not the work products I'm concerned about, it's records of our communication that I don't want to delete in case he does something else. I guess I don't trust him to leave this be.

abl
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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby abl » Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:24 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, but your concern with destroying the docs is that he'll then insist that you never worked for him, and then you'll have no documentation with which to insist that you are paid?

Incidentally, it's worth noting that what you are asking for approaches legal advice, and I am sure nobody on this board (including myself) will be willing/able to offer legal advice. It might be worth just running this all by an employment lawyer (although I would be personally reluctant to formally involve a lawyer in this--as it'll escalate a situation further that's already gotten somewhat out of hand).

CanadianWolf
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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:27 pm

He probably wants the docs destroyed so that he can avoid paying you without any repercussions from the state bar (essentially he's ordering to destroy evidence of your working relationship). Do not destroy the documents until he pays you.

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LeDique
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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby LeDique » Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:27 pm

Let's go more basic here, why can't you just tell him you deleted everything but not delete it

CanadianWolf
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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:29 pm

Because when he doesn't pay OP that would be evidence of OP's dishonesty--which would help the attorney's defense.

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Other25BeforeYou
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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby Other25BeforeYou » Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Other25BeforeYou wrote:I am so confused. Why is it concerning that he wants you to destroy the documents he sent you? Does he want you to destroy the emails in which he said he'd pay you too or something?

There may be other issues at play that you're not telling us, but demanding that you destroy documents he sent is not odd at all if you're no longer working for him. I mean you'll still have the emails in which he says that you completed the work and that he already sent you the check so you'll still be able to show that you did the work for which you haven't been compensated.


That's the real problem... it seems his request was for me to destroy not only the work products, but our email exchanges as well. This includes his assertions about the check that never arrived, as well as his refusal to pay me until I delete everything. In other words, it's not the work products I'm concerned about, it's records of our communication that I don't want to delete in case he does something else. I guess I don't trust him to leave this be.

I'm with you now. Did he "seem" to request that you destroy the emails or did he actually do it? Have you clarified that he in fact wants you to delete your email exchanges that don't contain privileged or confidential information?

Anonymous User
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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:35 pm

abl wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong, but your concern with destroying the docs is that he'll then insist that you never worked for him, and then you'll have no documentation with which to insist that you are paid?


that's one of them. the other is that this person has a very bad temper and seems very vindictive. i've already contacted my bar to make sure they know what's going on in case he decides to be vindictive. he originally did not want to pay me because i did not finish reviewing all 500 contracts for him (for statistical purposes) in the course of a long weekend and two days (this is not an exaggeration; i got through about 60-some and i still don't think that is humanly possible to finish even if i skipped my classes). he did not tell me that was what a job was until approximately 24 hours after he hired me; our contract did not stipulate that i would have to finish all 500 before he pays me. he also did not complain about my work product until after i inquired about the whereabouts of the check. my classmates suspect that he was looking for free labor to get through as many of the 500 contracts as the person could, and then not pay because no sane law student is going to litigate this close to finishing law school.

@ other25: he did absolutely request it. his words were that he will not pay unless all "work products and communications" are deleted

@ ledisque: because i would rather remain ethical even if he's behaving strangely?

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seespotrun
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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby seespotrun » Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:40 pm

Respond to his latest e-mail confirming that you have destroyed all [evidence of your employment], as he demanded as a condition to payment.

You'll still have that e-mail.

CanadianWolf
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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:43 pm

E-mail that you're holding onto the communications until you are paid in full for your already completed work since getting paid has become an issue. Once paid & the check clears, you will then destroy the communications.

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seespotrun
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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby seespotrun » Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:45 pm

Hold his family hostage. Rough his children up a bit to show him that you're serious.

colerain
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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby colerain » Tue Apr 14, 2015 9:25 pm

wasn't this same issue posed a few weeks ago in this forum?

edit: yes viewtopic.php?f=23&t=246172

Anonymous User
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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 14, 2015 9:38 pm

colerain wrote:wasn't this same issue posed a few weeks ago in this forum?

edit: yes http://top-law-schools.com/forums/viewt ... 3&t=246172


thanks for finding the thread. i lost it after i post it. since then, it's changed from ignoring me to demanding that i delete all work products and communications... and this was after i called HR and found out about the lack of record keeping

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rpupkin
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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby rpupkin » Tue Apr 14, 2015 9:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:the problem was that there is no client involved, and he had "interesting" behavior before. i already spoke with HR; they're claiming no connection with this guy's hiring activities because, again, there was no client involved

Wait....what? So a partner hired you to do legal work in connection with his law practice, and the firm's HR department treats it like the guy hired a gardener to pull weeds at his private home or something.

So many things about this story are weird.

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El Pollito
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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby El Pollito » Tue Apr 14, 2015 9:58 pm

sounds like you're not getting paid

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Tanicius
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Re: What do you do with someone you know is unethical?

Postby Tanicius » Tue Apr 14, 2015 10:04 pm

rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:the problem was that there is no client involved, and he had "interesting" behavior before. i already spoke with HR; they're claiming no connection with this guy's hiring activities because, again, there was no client involved

Wait....what? So a partner hired you to do legal work in connection with his law practice, and the firm's HR department treats it like the guy hired a gardener to pull weeds at his private home or something.

So many things about this story are weird.


I don't know what you guys aren't getting. The only thing that is weird here is that the partner is trying to exploit the OP unethically and most likely illegally. He is trying to cheat the OP out of a small claims amount of money, which he assumes the OP will not find worth the trouble of fighting over. It isn't weird so much that a partner is doing this -- it happens more than people realize at small firms. What's weirder is the fact that the partner is apparently dumb enough to think this isn't going to blow back onto him.

OP, you've made the right call to keep your bar fully informed. I don't think you have to worry about damaging a letter of recommendation source here. This guy will probably say nothing helpful for you no matter what happens from this point on, and it's entirely his fault, not yours.




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