Betrayed Nanny wants Her Recommendation

Received Thursday, January 8, 2009
Perspective & Opinion How disappointing…It just happened to me like the other “Duped nanny.” I was working at my dream new job for 1 month and half and they told they couldn't afford me anymore. The problem was that the mom’s business was doing badly and she just needed me 3 days to begin with. Mom said if she needed someone it would be 1 day only. This is the shocking part, her previous nanny of 3 yrs called back (after delivering for the 2nd time), that ex-nanny could work for them every now and then. What upset me is that the mom said "we would love to have her back." She promised she would write out a letter of recommendation, but until today, she hasn't called and I didn't call her again. When I called she said that her office wasn’t set up yet at home, so she didn’t have a printer, but if anyone was interested in hiring me, that I just have them call her. I have nothing against the nanny because she has earned the love of the family for 3yrs, just like my mother is a nanny working for a family for 4 yrs. I can't help it but to feel betrayed... because we had a contract stating that either party could not leave each other without 3 weeks notice. She gave me no notice because she called on a weekend and the following week she wouldn't need me anymore. She only offered 1 week severance and that was all. I still don't find a job. After I had worked my butt off for them doing things I refused to do before, but I did them because I felt they were a great family. Any advice Please... How can I get that letter of recommendation?


For real? said...

Im guessing you did a bad job and/or the mother didn't like you. Were you paid on the books? Go get unemployment.

come on, now. said...

I feel bad for you but stop whining and get off your ass. You know what to do. You signed a contract for a reason--to ensure that you would get that notice and/or severance pay! You call the mom, tell her that you have a contract and she owes you money and a letter of recommendation within X days (I would give her a week at most). If she refuses, file against her in small claims court.

not a park slope nanny said...

Forget calling her. You were there a month. Go for a visit when you think she may be available, that way she can't put you off any longer.
The printer doesn't work?.... Ok, so have her write it out on some nice stationary. It would have a more personal anyway.

not a park slope nanny said...

>>more personal "touch" anyway.

Phoenix said...

screw the letter of recommendation you can sue her for breaking a contract.

She stating you have 3 weeks notice and 3 weeks serverance pay. I recommend you call her and get your money, if she says no threaten to call a lawyer.

Make sure you have a copy of this contract first, don't do it based off the one in the employers house

mom said...

Get the letter in hand first. Then sue if necessary. Although, if you sue I suppose the letter will be more than worthless if anybody bothers to contact her personally to verify the reference.

You have to choose. Do you want the letter more, or the potential money more? And it may be that if she claims she had cause to fire you that your contracted severance will not be due to you anyway. Otherwise, people could eneter into such contracts weekly, do a crappy job right off the bat, and then collect the severance, over and over again.

Em said...

I agree 'come on now'. That is what a contract is for.
Why sign a contract if you are not going to enforce it.

The way I see it you have 2 choices. One is to forget the recommendation and the other is to complain that there is a breach in your contract, and get paid.

Which is more important to you?
Teaching your employer a lesson (my fave)and getting your additional money, or getting (maybe) a letter of recommendation,and feel disrespected.

The court is there for your benefit, and I bet it would not get there, because she'd be so embarrassed she'd pay you immediately; this is provided you didn't first breach the contract in any way, and trust me, these people will get a lawyer to find something.
I think though that being served will send the correct message and she won't be so quick to do that to another nanny.

Anonymous said...

I would need some more piece of advice...First, i was never given a copy of the contract as she promised. Second, i was working of the books. I lost the job in Mid-Nov. I did nothing wrongwith the family. She really liked me andkids as weel. Like i said i worked hard for them and i feel i performed my best for them compared to my previous jobs.

chunkofterror said...

If you A. Dont have a contract and B. were working off the books and C. were let go early with a week of severence (which btw WAS generous)
then walk away. Spend your energy finding a new job.

jojo bear said...

You're screwed. And I don't give a rat's ass about you since you disrespected our country buy deciding to work off the books, with no accountability. Guess what? Because of your stupidity, your employers are not at all accountable to you.

Move on.
Be smarter next time!

millows said...

I dont know about suing,,, was it a legal contract or just a written work agreement? You may want to seek the advice of a lawyer about that. It was only a month, dont you have other references from a long term job? If so you may want to not even waste your time with her and just move on with the job hunt. Try calling her 1-2 more times and then leave it be. The hassle of bringing her to court (if you can) may not be worth the headache.

don't give in said...


The mother is walking all over you and, as a nanny, I have seen this before. I was in the exact same position- but I went through an agency. Something I will never do again. Please if you had a contract, you have a copy (I hope) get that letter. Tell her- give her an amount of time (ex. 3 days or whatever you choose) get that letter. If she doesn't to you- go after her with a lawyer.

mom said...

Um, people...she has no copy of the contract in her posession. She has no legal recourse...unless, of course, her former employer wants to hand over the evidence against herself to the perosn who asks for it in order to sue her.
The employer was smart/devious enough to get OP to sign a contract and then keep a copy only for herself. I suspect it was to benefit her in just this sort of circumstance.

And unemployment now seems a longshot also because the employer may not admit to having hired somebody off the books...although I must admit that I am not fully informed on how the unemployment system works.

OP, next time be more careful, and work legally, and then you will have the benefit of our laws to protect you if something like this ever happens again. It's kinda tricky going to court to ask that an illegal contract be upheld anyway....especially when that contract makes it crystal clear that you conspired with somebody to perpetrate a fraud against the government.

Move on. Lesson learned.

we should all pay taxes said...

Shouldn't employers also get slammed for disrespecting our country by not paying taxes for their household help? They are the ones with the more money. Rich get richer, poor get screwed.

cali mom said...

Mom has good advice. If you are paid on the books, you can file to collect unemployment. If not, you can't. There is NO point in signing a contract if you don't get a copy of it. It's almost worse than not signing because now someone else has the equivalent of a blank check with your signature on it. They could make the contract say whatever they wanted, and there's your signature at the end of it. So yeah, you're screwed. The best you can hope for is to contact her again and get your recommendation, but for a period of 6 weeks, it doesn't even seem that important. And actually, too many short term jobs tend to be red flags in a resume anyway.

Just one question, does "3 weeks notice" automatically equal "3 weeks severance"? Not that OP could possibly get that, just wanting to clarify.

Manhattan Nanny said...

It sounds like your employer took advantage of your naivete.
A reference from a job you only had for six weeks is worthless, so forget about that. Since you were not on the books, and don't have a copy of the contract, you can't take legal action, and I think it is clear your former employer has no intention of paying you two more weeks severance, that is probably why she didn't give you a copy of the contract.
You can't collect unemployment, because since you were not on the books, your employer was not paying your unemployment insurance.You are in a word, screwed.
Learn from the experience, and move on. Don't accept a job off the books, and don't sign a contract unless it is in duplicate, so there is a copy for you. I hope you find a new job with a nicer, or at least more ethical family.

mom said...

we should all pay taxes...yes we should. If OP was the employer, I would have felt the same way about her not paying her employee's taxes...and warned her of what happens to tax cheats in our country. The IRS is like a herd of mad pitt take your chances when you screw with them. Maybe you'll get away with it...or maybe you'll get your ass bitten...OFF!

Personally, I have no sympathy for tax cheats of any sort.

not a park slope nanny said...

For real
As far as I know, you have to be employed at least 90 days to collect unemployment. But first, you'd have to prove the employment by paying your taxes.

Nannies should never get paid off the books... it leaves them very little protection should something go wrong.

not a park slope nanny said...

Cali mom
I didn't see your post until after I put mine up, sorry.

Great post BTW!

"And actually, too many short term jobs tend to be red flags in a resume anyway."

I didn't even think about that. OP might want to think twice about this recommendation for this reason. Besides, with the mom giving her the run-around, it might not be that glowing anyway, IF she ever gets her to write it.

NannyInCharge said...

I would never want to give any potential employers a reference from someone I worked for for only a few short weeks! I'd probably never even give them one where I worked for less than 6 months.

This Mom sounds like a flake, an unreliable unresponsible flake, so personally I wouldn't want her as a reference anyways.

Move on and don't sign anymore contracts again unless you are signing two at a time and you get one right away.

If she could never even find the time to make a copy of your contract for you in 6 weeks, I doubt she is ever going to get around to getting you the reference. She obviously does not care about you or helping you find another job.

Nanny in Cali said...

Even though OP was paid off the books, she may not have been doing anything "illegal" since she has to be paid a certain monetary amount per year to report it, so unless we all know how much she made w/that actual family, she may have been within the law. AND if a family pays less than minimum wage, it probably dosen't have to be reported as well since it is not a legit job. I think the government only cares about legit employment. That being said, OP should have gotten a copy of the contract. W/out one, she is out of luck. I wouldn't worry too much about a letter of recommendation. She CAN try again, but if she gets a NO from the family, then move on and chalk it up to one of life's lessons learned. Next time, get a copy of contract and if your employer does not follow it, then you can sue her.

mom said...

mom said...
OP, I asked my husband about this this morning. He gave me a long explanation about various forms of breaches in contracts and how some invalidate the entire contract and how some contracts are still generally enforcible, except for the specifically illegal parts.

He thinks that if you had the contract in hand, a judge may well order the employer to pay you for the additional two weeks (as long as three weeks severance was called for per the contract), but that you would both be on the hook for the taxes you both didn't pay. The penalty could range from paying the back taxes to prosecution for tax fraud, at the discretion of the courts and the IRS.
He said he says all of this assimong that neither of you was stuid enough to put into writing in the contract that you were being paid off the books. If that's in there, you and your employer can both hope it never sees the the inside of a courtroom.

PS I tell you all of this sort of grudgingly, because, as is no secret here, I don't like make it easier for people cheating on taxes.

V.R. said...

1. Lawsuit. Will cost you money you don't have.

2. You were an equal party to taking money off the books.

3. If you don't have a copy of the contract it doesn't exist.

4. You more than likely will not get a written recommendation.

5. She said have someone call. Go apply places and put her number on your application. It should be plenty.

6. Either
A. She is being totally upfront with you about the situation.
B. You really weren't that great of a nanny and she is trying to unload you as politely as possible.

She did pay you and it sounds like she took you on for more hours than she originally wanted to. I hope you can find a job soon. The job market sucks where I am at right now.

Move On said...

As an employer , I would never rely on a letter of recommendation for a nanny in any event, because they can be faked so easily. I want to actually speak with people at verifiable numbers or better yet, meet them. A letter of recommendation is useless, IMO.

Manhattan Nanny said...

Move on,
Nannies need letters of recommendation if they want to create a portfolio with an agency.
Letters of recommendation are NOT meant to replace phone interviews. The letter includes contact information for the former employer. Many employers like to read letters to help decide whom they want to interview. After interviewing, they call and speak with the references of the nanny they are considering for a job offer.

fox in socks said...

A letter of reference is totally useless. I strongly agree with Move On. I would never write a blanket letter to be given out to whomever. (If a specific potential employer wanted or needed a letter, I would write a unique letter to that specific potential employer on behalf of my former employee.)

So, OP, you're upset that you didn't get 3 weeks notice. You were fired abruptly. It's difficult, and I can understand that you'd be feeling hurt.

However, this post reeks of the employers not being happy with their new employee. It's great that you gave it your all though. From reading your post, it seems to me that a likely scenario here is that the family was not as happy with you as they expected they would be. They preferred their old nanny. They didn't give you the 3 weeks notice you expected but this implies that there was something they were not satisfied with, from their perspective.

The best thing for you is to try to get past this and look for another family that you think is really great. Good luck.