(Another) Nanny Gets Screwed

Received Sunday, June 14, 2009
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN I'm really not sure what I should do about this "situation" or what I'm even legally entitled to!

I started working for a new family 6 weeks ago. They have a 4 1/2 year old and 2 year old and the mother is pregnant with twins due in August. She is a stay at home mom, and hired me specifically to help with the twins once they were born. They wanted me to start earlier to get used to the family and to help with the older boys because she got tired by the end of the day from being pregnant.

The family lives in a very affluent town and they own a pretty well known business. They were paying me "on the books" through the company and offered me a top-notch salary plus benefits. I was told that payroll was done twice a month (but not told what weeks) and it would be direct deposit. By my 3rd week, I still hadn't received a direct deposit. I emailed my boss on a Friday evening and asked her when I should be expecting to be paid. She did not respond to my email that whole weekend, and when I saw her the following Monday I was told that I would be paid by the following Tuesday. I didn't get an explanation as to why there was a delay, but some companies hold your first paycheck, so I didn't chalk it up to much.

Tuesday comes and goes and I still had no direct deposit. I asked again, and was told the company had to cut me a check and it would be in the mail. I in fact did receive it that Thursday in the mail.

In the meantime, my hours were constantly being changed. I was being paid on a salary based on a 45 hour work week, but the most they ever used me in a week was about 30 hours give or take. One week they only had me come in 3 days, another day they sent me home early after only about 3 or 4 hours at work. I found it to be bizarre, especially since they were paying me so much money, but I figured once the twins were born I'd be making up the hours with overtime so it must not matter to them right now.

As I mentioned above, I was offered a benefits package. I asked repeatedly for information on the health insurance provided by the company they owned, but my requests fell on deaf ears. I was never sent any information. I knew that I wasn't eligible for 60 days, so I assumed they were just holding off until my 2 month period was over.

Payday came and went again and yet again I had no direct deposit. I sent an email to my boss that day (it was one of the days they decided to email me last minute to tell me not to come in) and I received an email response from her husband saying that it should be there and to check again later. The deposit never came. That monday I was told that there was a "glitch" with my direct deposit and that they were straightening it out with the payroll company. I was becoming frustrated but didn't want to cause problems.

This past Thursday night I received an email from my boss stating that they would be out of town again this weekend and I didn't have to come into work on Friday. I didn't think much of it because at this point, it was happening so frequently. Then yesterday afternoon I checked my phone and saw I had a voicemail from the husband. He said that after talking with his wife all morning, they decided that they were going to let me go, and that he was sorry and to not come back on Monday. I was shocked - I was always so flexible with all their scheduling changes and always did extra "projects" for them around the house whenever asked - not to mention the kids loved me (the 4 1/2 year old would beg not to go to preschool so he could stay home to play with me) I called him back and asked why they were firing me, and his response was "I don't really feel like I need to give you a reason, we just don't feel we want you as our BABYSITTER anymore." I tried to push for a reason, but it was obvious he wasn't going to give me one. He stated that he would pay me through this last week. After talking with friends and family, it seems like this family never had any intentions of keeping me long term as they had stated. I feel completely taken advantage of and they've left me in a pretty bad position with no severance and payroll being "behind."

I'm wondering what sort of recourse I have, if any at all. I fully intend on contacting a lawyer if I don't receive my last weeks pay, but other than that am I entitled to anything, or is there anything that I should do? I still have a key to their house (which they didn't ask back for) but I plan on sending it to them via fedex tomorrow and requesting a signature verification that they
received it - I don't want them coming back at me and trying to frame me for something because they know I still have their key. I plan on emailing them so I have a paper trail stating that I'm fedex'ing the key to them, in case any problems arise in the future. Is there anything else I should say to them, or should I just keep my mouth shut and not cause more trouble?

Thanks! I'm sorry this is so long!!


Kim said...

Do you have a contract? If so, you can sue for the rest of the pay you are owed, assuming they don't pay up. Is there a severence section of your contract? Without that they don't have to give you anything.

Otherwise they have every right to fire you without reason. Hopefully they will be honest about your pay and you can find a new job quickly.

sd said...

Most states are "at will states" which means an employer can quit at any time without reason. Of course an employee can also fire an employee at any time without reason.

Unless a contract promised severance, sounds like you're out of luck. Not sure how much you've worked before but if you've put enough time in, you should be eligible for unemployment benefits until you find a new position.

If you do file for unemployment, they will contact the family and try and find out why they let you go. So if the family says they fired you because you were stealing or something (NOT saying you were) then you might have a harder time with it.

Keep us updated... sorry for the crappy situation, I know we only heard your side of the story but it sounds like you got the raw end of the deal.

fox in socks said...

It sounds like they could pay up whatever they still owe you for hours worked, but that they tend to be slow. It sounds like they did come through with the money up until now, although they were slow about it. Let's hope they do pay you for whatever you've worked.

Apart from that they can let you go if they decide to do so.

It sounds like they didn't feel it was a good fit. Who knows why, but you should try to move on quickly and not dwell on it for your own sake. Just try to get your back pay and try to get another job as quickly as you can.

Good luck!

WTF? said...

These people sound like real jerks. I think you're probably better off having learned this earlier rather than later. Good luck finding a better job. :)

cali mom said...

As long as they pay you for all your hours worked, they owe you nothing more. I'd say that since you were getting the full salary and working only part-time through the whole 6 weeks, you came out ahead.

Nanny Taxi said...

I've had one "mystery" firing, but they did give me my last weeks pay.

Without a written contract with severance, you may be out of luck.

Wicker Park Nanny said...

Keeping your mouth shut doesn't really accomplish anything, I mean, you are already "let go." I'd contact a lawyer immediately and ask what your options are. Since you were being paid "by the books" there may be something, but unless there was a contractual time listed it was "at will" employment which means they can let you go without any reason, severance, etc just the same as you can leave them.

Speak to a lawyer, just so you know you did everything you could about the situation.

SadGirl said...

wow you sound very sharp. this is such a tough thing. i am sorry i don't have any advice. i can only symphathize with you and say they are huge jerks. maybe go onto kudzu and give their company a bad rating.

Anonymous said...

Why would she give their company a bad rating? These people sound like real asses, but that may not have anything to do with the service or product they sell. In the end that's just going to hurt the potential consumer of said product/service.If you can't get reliable and relevant feedback when seeking out a specific business, the whole idea behind a feedback forum is useless. If you have a bone to pick with someone keep it in context of the situation.

That being said, good luck OP. As another poster mentioned, we only heard your side but from what you have said it sounds as though it really WAS a bad fit and you're probably better off just cutting your losses and moving on. Legal action will only give you a huge headache and unwanted stress to deal with. I'm sure you feel wronged, and I don't blame you, but is it worth it to pursue it?

mom said...

Whatever is written in your contract shoule be very easy to recover. You probably won't even need to take on the expense of a lawyer. If it says you get severance, they have to pay. But they definitely need to pay for the time you worked.

Maybe the mom thought she needed help while she was pregnant, or the dad pressured her to get help, and her heart wasn't really in having somebody else raise her kids...or be around the house all day. It might not be anything bad about you at all that made them fire you. Don't worry about that. get your money and move on happily.

MinuteMuggle said...

You are better off without them. It does sound like they misled you. I think any decent person would tell a nanny why they are letting her go, even if it is a polite excuse like "we just felt you were not a good match" etc.

I agree with Mom: get your money and move on. They owe you that, but as Cali Mom said, they owe you nothing more. Sorry for your situation but you sound like a great nanny and I'm sure you will have no trouble finding a wonderful more reliable family to work for. Good luck and please keep us posted!

HumMom said...

Sounds like a very frustrating situation for you. It's always hard when we are let down in a big way .

I tend to agree with Mom. Unless you can really think of some reason why it didn't work, then it's probably not about you at all. It's likely that you're not due anything beyond the back pay, but you should be able to recover that in a small claims court, which in most states has limits up to $5,000, and doesn't require (or allow) attorney representation.

Good luck finding a new position that is truly your dream job.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, I'm sorry. This just sucks. Sometimes my prior bosses would be late with pay (red flag) so I would demand they pay me in a personal check that evening before I left the house. No way did I walk away for the week without my money!

world's best nanny said... there a place where we can warn others about employers like this?

Cristi said...

sorry op, i know how it feels, not knowing if you failed or what went wrong. My advice tho.. leave it be, especially if you dont have a contract. Contacting a lawyer will probably only come to bite you in the a**. They probably already have a lawyer, and you would have to find a pay someone for negligible benifits, you really wouldnt get much out of it, and then it would be on the record that you had done so and future families will consider that before hiring you. I know it's not fair, alot about being a nanny isnt, luckily its alot better than it used to be. For the same reason, I wouldnt give them a bad review, It could be turned around on you and YOU be sued for libel.
I had a very similar situation happen to me, the second nanny job i'd ever had and my first where i hadnt known the family for forever. They were in the same sort of situation, new baby coming, older siblings needed caring for. They paid me alot and I worked my butt off for them, most weeks I worked more than 80 hours, and did things well outside my contract, such as washing their motor home, grocery shopping for their business entertaining in said motor home, laying pine straw in their yard. (I did refuse to mow, not cause i finally got smart but becuase i hated mowing :D) The oldest boy hit me several times, and the mother saw it and said nothing. Yeah, I wish I'd been smarter. I also wasnt smart enough to get a contract. A month after the baby was born and the oldest kids were back in school they told me they wanted me to go to part time and that they would call me and let me know when to come in. Needless to say, they never called me, nor returned my calls all week. Finally the next monday I called the dad at work and he said "we wanted to see how it would be without you, and we've decided we no longer need your services" no severence, no back pay, no pay for the week that i waited for them to call, nothing. Yeah, it took a while before i went back into nannying. But most families arent like that, most families want a long term relationship and want to make sure you take good care of their child, so treat you like you deserve. Take it as a learning experience, dont be so mad about it, yeah they were jerks, but now you can find that GREAT family!!!!

nyc mom said...

Interesting to hear how many have experienced being let go without reason or notice. I have had trial periods with sitters before and shared that I did not feel it was a good fit and we would prefer not to continue. However, I have only ever fired one sitter by calling and saying "please don't return" and not shared a reason. I know this is probably not relevant to OP, but perhaps it's more common than realized.

I hired a pt sitter and we were still in the two week trial window, below the IRS limit for on the books, which is how I usually do trials - then go on the books with a work agreement if we agree mutually to the job. I was fairly new to hiring sitters at this time so not very good at picking up red flags. She was a nice enough young woman, but I was not totally comfortable and had some nagging doubts. However, since I'm naturally a worrier and my kids liked her, I decided we were most likely going to go forward.

However, just before the end of the two week trial I received a frantic call from one of her prior references. She had been trying to call me, but had thrown away my number, and was waiting to get it from her phone provider. Turns out this sitter had done something really awful shortly after she began a trial period with me (I think she assumed she would end up getting the job with us and did not care about burning bridges). She was supposed to pick up the Reference's young child from preschool, but simply never showed up. She did not call or let her know. The employer was at work and received a call from the school that the child had not been picked up, and was understandably upset. She tried calling the sitter who did not answer. Of course she left work and picked up her child. Later that night she received a text from the sitter that said simply, "I quit." And a couple days later the sitter mailed her house key back. Needless to say, this was reason enough for me to call the sitter and immediately tell her not to return. She was paid daily and still in the two week trial so there was no outstanding owed pay. My feeling was that regardless of how she felt about this employer (she had told me during the interview she really like the employer and child), leaving a 3yo at preschool like that was awful and malicious. However, when firing her I did not tell her why because I did not want to break any trust or cause problems for her prior employer. I have no idea what arrangement they had, but know the employer went to a lot of trouble to reach out to me (thank goodness!).

Anyway, this is probably not relevant to OP but just wanted to give one example of why an employer had fired a sitter without giving reason. I think callbacks from old references happen more often than we are aware - yet another reason to always part professionally and maintain a good relationship. I'm sure this goes both ways too because I have always encouraged nannies I am interviewing to speak with my current nanny and they could certainly call each other back if I did something unprofessional at parting too.

cali mom said...

I am actually surprised at how many people assume that there is some sort of legal entitlement to severance pay or even a reason for being let go. I've been let go from various jobs and except in the cases where the company was going out of business or there were company wide layoffs happening, no reason was given. Employers don't want to give a reason because the first thing a PO'd former employee will do is contact a lawyer and contest that reason. And unless it was specifically spelled out in a contract, they do NOT owe any pay for time not worked ("severance pay".) Period.

Cristi, those people surely did screw you around, but wtf would you expect to get paid for a week that you were just hanging around waiting for them to call you back?

Jane Doe said...

Nannies & Employers,
No matter how nice the other seems, no matter how well intentioned the nanny or the employer; get everything in writing. The employer needs to know the nanny comprehends exactly how he/she expects their children to be cared for and treated and the nanny needs to understand her pay rate, schedule and any associated perks.

Kristen said...

I am so sorry you were treated that way! Due to how you were treated in the beginning and with your paycheck, you are much better off. And I wonder if they ever planned on keeping you, or maybe just seeing if they needed someone, due to the little hours they actually needed you. The dad was quit rude though.

maric said...

she wasn't there long enough to collect unemployment
Sorry this happened

Della said...

I'd like to help you. I was in a similar situation with my nanny job last year. Luckily I found a great family to work for currently and things are wonderful. I hope this happens to you too! In the mean time, is it possible to let us know what state you are in? I'd be willing to talk to you on the phone too if that would help. These people intentionally 'screwed you over' and you should take the payroll company (their company they put you on I believe) to a small claims court. It is very important also to know what if any contract you have and if there are your signatures and BOTH parents as well as a witness. Either way, taking this to the small claims court in your state will be the only way to legally get monies owed to you for unworked hours.

Or you could simply add up the hours you were not paid for and send them a letter via receipt by US mail. In the letter, explain that you find it wrong that you have not been paid appropriately. Don't threaten them but definitely give them a choice of paying you by check (and by a certain date) OR that you will take this to the next step and speak with your attorney. Tell them that your family has taken a real interest in the entire scenario and that your father is concerned with what kind of business they are running since they paid you on THEIR payroll for nanny services. Maybe I misread your post but that's the feeling I got. If I am right on my reading, that is so illegal. Again, depending on the state laws and what your contract says will ulitmately determine what the outcome is.

Worst case scenario: You don't get your money but you get revenge... And that can be even more rewarding. Not trynna sound psycho but that's how the world goes. They screwed you over, right? Now get your money back or screw them...

In the mean time, I wish you all the luck in finding a new job. I'd love to help you in anyway that I can. From a nanny who understands what you are going through!

Cristi said...

oh im sorry.. i forgot to mention that our agreement for me going on part time was being paid a minimum of 30 hrs per week no matter what i worked, then hourly past that.. unfortunately it was a verbal agreement.. :(