Thursday, February 28, 2008

SUE THE EVIL BASTARDS!

I agree. In reality, however, nobody would sue. The predatory banks have us by the balls. The law firms and agencies know this. As temps, we lose all of our rights as American citizens at the document review basement door.

"I was doing some research for a friend of mine who was recently fired from her job and I came across a classic textbook cause of action for all temp workers who have been fired for making complaints or threatening to make complaints against their employers to government agencies. NY recognizes a cause of action called "retaliatory discharge" which accrues when an employee is fired specifically (quid pro quo)because they threaten to disclose illegal activity by the company to a government agency (see Holston vs. Sisters of St. Francis,650 N.E. 2d 985 (Ill., 1995) and Kraus vs. New Rochelle Hospital Medical
Center, 628 N.Y.S. 2d 361 (N.Y. App., 1995).. Given the number of blatant OSHA violations you've cited, the number of suits that could be filed would be significant. The advantage is that all of the persons these actions have been taken against are all admitted attorney's who can file their own complaints pro se. With a little bit of guidance on matters of NY civil procedure (we could create a sort of "how to" manual for how to file the complaints), we could flood these bastards with lawsuits; either that or compile them into class action suits against the various temp companies.

I get the feeling that that is the only way to get them to listen, hit them in the wallet where it hurts. The goal wouldn't even be to actually win the lawsuits. By filing individually, pro se, the individual lawyers incur almost no expenses (outside of an meager filing fee) while forcing the temp companies to spend large sums of money defending themselves; it literally throws their whole structure back in their faces. They might have to settle the suits quickly to avoid the inevitable expenses incurred by their own bloated structure. Ironically, it may even have the effect of creating more of a demand for temp workers to process the discovery demands from the lawsuits of other temp workers. All you would need would be a handful of ex-temp workers who really don't give a shit about doing temp work again to file the suits (because they will certainly be black balled), and there must be an abundance of them.

Proving the quid pro quo, namely that the termination was directly in response to the threat of making a complaint to a government agency and not for some other reason is the hard part. It wouldn't be all that difficult however to produce the basic affidavits necessary to make a prima facie case and survive the inevitable pre-answer motions to dismiss and subsequent motions for summary judgment. Simply by creating a triable issue of fact, they would be forced to expend significant resources just to respond. You could even specifically arrange test cases with willing subjects who specifically, and rather vocally, in the presence of multiple witnesses, speak to a supervisor and threaten to report them to a government agency regarding the present work conditions. The statements of the supervisor would be admissible under the opposing party admission exception to hearsay. This is just a rough outline but I'm sure a more comprehensive blueprint could be organized.

Maybe I'm a wild eyed dreamer, but it's about time someone hit these guys where it hurts. Let me know what you think. Is this at least worth posting?"

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

You have just done a great job of defeating the very case you propose. At the very least you've given the temp agencies a great counter claim against you and your fellow class members under the common law actions of abuse of process or malicious prosecution. In addition, you've probably also opened yourselves up to disciplinary action and possibly disbarrment or suspension. You cannot use the litigation process as a means of extortion. CAs always whine about not being treated professionally; well, act like professionals and not gutter dwellers. Temps have the same ethical obligations as any other lawyer.

My favorite of your quotes are below.

"The goal wouldn't even be to actually win the lawsuits. By filing individually, pro se, the individual lawyers incur almost no expenses (outside of an meager filing fee) while forcing the temp companies to spend large sums of money defending themselves; it literally throws their whole structure back in their faces. They might have to settle the suits quickly to avoid the inevitable expenses incurred by their own bloated structure."

AND

"You could even specifically arrange test cases with willing subjects who specifically, and rather vocally, in the presence of multiple witnesses, speak to a supervisor and threaten to report them to a government agency regarding the present work conditions."

Anonymous said...

hey 5:50(1L), if you had any clue and actually litigated at all, you'd know that what you quoted is actually what happens in real life. very often the goal isn't to win, but to change the status quo. abuse of process and malicious prosecution? they don't apply, halfwit, when plaintiffs have been fired for complaining about work conditions.

it would great seeing the agencies have to produce their internal "blacklist" memos/policies during discovery. then again, i'm sure the shredding process has already begun.

Anonymous said...

6:33 -- the difference, of course, is that in most litigations (you know, the ones that happen in "real life") the plaintiffs are not so stupid as to put these (clearly illegal) bases for a lawsuit on a public website for the world to see.

also - abuse of process and malicious prosecution absolutely apply regardless of the type of claim being alleged by plaintiff. in fact, that's the point of these counterclaims. they apply where the underlying claim has nothing to do with the merits of a case but, rather, only serve as a cover for the abuse of the judicial process, which is actually the mechanism meant to inflict the harm (rather than the result of losing the case). also, if you bozos file in federal court, check out rule 11. oh yeah, and entering into a conspiracy to create evidence is a fraud on the court and would likely mean criminal charges as well.

PS - do your ethical duties also not apply here, counselor?

selling my jd said...

where do i sign up ??? sounds awesome.. sue them all... can we implead the law schools ????

Anonymous said...

The point is not to "sign up", the point is to pursue it on your own. WE are all admitted attorneys and can file when ever and where ever.

Anonymous said...

Allow me to clarify:

1) I was not suggesting that the reason for filing the suits was to harrass the temp agencies; that would indeed result in sanctions. What I was saying was that we have a valid cause of action and that if enough of us file these LEGITIMATE suits, it could result in the temp agencies resources becomming over extended, forcing them into a favorable settlement. Our ability to litigate pro se at a minimal expense is an excellent point of leverage in potential settlement negotiations. Leveraged negotiation is not extortion. The entire reason settlements occur is because one side realizes they cannot win, or undertakes a cost benefit analysis and realizes the expenses of litigation are not worth it. That is not an unethical statement, that is good litigation tactics. It is a question of how best to pursue the legitimate goal of litigating a valid cause of action. Failing to factor in the massive rescources a large corporation can bring to bear in litigation would be folly. It has to be factored in and I was making a sugesstion as to how to deal with it.

2) Conspiracy to create evidence? Ok, now I stop being polite because you have clearly lost it: Do you have a JD, or did you get your DUH from the University of Retard? I was simply saying that if you are going to get fired in blatant violation of a NY Statute, have some witnesses around to back you up. Additionally, the concept of creating "test cases" has been around forever and is the preferred vehicle for getting cases to the highest appellate courts in the country. Quick example, a gay couple agrees to be a test case for gay marriage in MA and after discussing the matter with their attorney, and at their attorney's direction walks into a courthouse in MA, tries to get married and keeps a detailed record of what transpired. Result: test case on the definition of marriage goes all the way up to the MA State Supreme Court without anyone saying they were FABRICATING EVIDENCE...serriously dude, did you make that up? Is that under "USC 18 Sec Your Ass" or maybe "FRCP 12(b)(I Have No Idea What I'm Talking About)"?

My point was that if you are going to bring a valid cause of action, have a paper/witness trail. Golly gee, how unethical of me! Nothing is being "fabricated" or fraudulently produced; you are simply witnessing a statement which in fact occured. I'm not advocating you invent a false statement.

Sincerely,
Mookie Wilson Esq.

Anonymous said...

One more point of clarification:

When I stated "The point wouldn't even be to win the lawsuits" what I meant was that the point would not be to take them all the way to trial and win at trial. I was not implying the purpose was harrassment, let me be perfectly clear on that. The fact that it would force them to spend resources is an incidental consequence of pursuing a valid cause of action and is not the GOAL of the lawsuit itself.

Mookie Wilson Esq.

Anonymous said...

In many states, blacklisting employees is illegal. I am not sure if this would apply to contract attorneys. If a staffing agency is stupid enough to blacklist attorneys, they are setting themselves up for a world of hurt. If they are a public company, they are risking the loss of shareholder value. It would only take the testimony of one insider with knowledge of the blacklist to blow things wide open. If any of these people were stupid enough to e-mail a blacklist, then it cannot be shredded. It can be retrieved, although the retrieval process would be quite expensive. If you are serious about this effort, you should start contacting the former employees of these temporary staffing firms to see if you can get some evidence. Otherwise, you might not even make it through summary judgment. Also, I would leave out the part about manipulating the legal process to serve your own thirst for vindication without any actual evidence. I have heard judges don't like that very much.

Anonymous said...

a test case tests the bounds of the law, not the facts. here, you are not trying to test the law - it is clear that wrongful termination/retaliatory discharge is actionable - you're trying to get a set of (manufactured) facts strong enough to withstand summary judgment.

the bottom line is that if the "willing volunteer" along with the "multiple witnesses" merely put on an act to create a favorable record for a contemplated lawsuit there can be serious consequences.

Anonymous said...

Allan Cohen is a shifty devil who (despite his innocuous appearance) frequently engages in blackballing and illegal blacklistings. Look out for his hidden horns!

Anonymous said...

Here's a problem with the lawsuit idea...you temps are such idiots that none of you actually know how to start a lawsuit. All you do all day long is mindlessly click, click away. Most of you probably could not even draft a complaint. Maybe a better idea would be to hire a real lawyer to draft the complaint and then you could have the temps take over for document review - since we know you are real good with that.

If I were the temp agencies I would not be too worried by this motley crew comming after me with a lawsuit. Instead, like everything else on this board, there will be about two days of bitching, no effort to accomplish anything, and within the time it takes for this post to move three clicks down the page your idea will have vanished.

Anonymous said...

Again to clarify: I AM NOT ADVOCATING "PUTTING ON AN ACT" OR OTHERWISE "MANUFACTURING" A SCENARIO.

What I was saying is that if your work conditions are unsafe, and you feel the need to make a complaint, have witnesses around to back you up. If you are fired because you complained about an unsafe condition which actually exists, you have a valid cause of action.

As for the guy who keeps making fun of temps, you are a grade A Jackhole. Many of us are skilled attorney's who are having some pretty crappy luck (as are many other people) finding a full time job in the present economy. I for one have actually done criminal defense work, but have since fallen on harder times. Mocking us is cruel and juvenile.

Mookie Wilson Esq.

Anonymous said...

dear mookie:

please talk to 4:35 am.... he/she seems upset with something.... perhaps staying up late doing that real lawyer work....

one note to 4:35 am... please keep your real legal job... the document review world is tough baby.... so make sure you kiss whatever ass you need to...

sincerely,
kevin elster, esq.

Anonymous said...

But it's okay, Michelle Obama feels your pain,

"As she has many times in the past, Mrs. Obama complains about the lasting burden of student loans dating from her days at Princeton and Harvard Law School. She talks about people who end up taking years and years, until middle age, to pay off their debts. “The salaries don’t keep up with the cost of paying off the debt, so you’re in your 40s, still paying off your debt at a time when you have to save for your kids,” she says.

“Barack and I were in that position,” she continues. “The only reason we’re not in that position is that Barack wrote two best-selling books… It was like Jack and his magic beans. But up until a few years ago, we were struggling to figure out how we would save for our kids.” A former attorney with the white-shoe Chicago firm of Sidley & Austin, Obama explains that she and her husband made the choice to give up lucrative jobs in favor of community service. “We left corporate America, which is a lot of what we’re asking young people to do,” she tells the women. “Don’t go into corporate America. You know, become teachers. Work for the community. Be social workers. Be a nurse. Those are the careers that we need, and we’re encouraging our young people to do that. But if you make that choice, as we did, to move out of the money-making industry into the helping industry, then your salaries respond.” Faced with that reality, she adds, “many of our bright stars are going into corporate law or hedge-fund management.”

What she doesn’t mention is that the helping industry has treated her pretty well. In 2006, the Chicago Tribune reported that Mrs. Obama’s compensation at the University of Chicago Hospital, where she is a vice president for community affairs, jumped from $121,910 in 2004, just before her husband was elected to the Senate, to $316,962 in 2005, just after he took office. And that does not count the money Mrs. Obama receives from serving on corporate boards. She would have been O.K. even without Jack’s magic beans."

Anonymous said...

I would not call working for Uni. of Chicago Hospital a 'helping industry' job. Still, a lot of people are limited by job choices due to student loan payments. Time to junk that system!
As for the 'lawsuits against temp agencies' idea: why? Just file complaints if they violate any applicable laws. Best thing to do is what I do with airlines: research them before using them. The only protection you have is to be as informed as you can be.

Anonymous said...

Hey, your whole gripe about the temp. law profession is flawed. You say $40/hr is some kind of outrage.

Let's do the math. $40/hr for 2000 hours is $80k (sans benefits). $80k starting salary for a 9-5 gig w/ 2 weeks vac. If you're working 12 hour days (60 hours a week). Then you're grossing $120k. $80k - $120k is pretty darn solid for a entry level STARTING SALARY.
Very comparable to the white shoes associates who are working 80-100 hours for $150k-$200k total? (that's about $30-40/hr)

stateofbeasley said...

anonymous 1:56 PM,

The math doesn't work for several reasons:

First, you are assuming that a temp will be able to work continuously for nearly the whole year. Not all contractors are able to land jobs at firms that have projects lasting months or years. Some of them bounce between many 3-4 week jobs.

Second, the lack of benefits and other perks is a bigger problem than most people realize. Contractors often don't get good health insurance, CLE reimbursement, bar association fees, or bonuses.

Third, contractors have little in the way of upward mobility within the firm. Some will become staff attorneys, but most will not.

That being said, the money paid to contractors is very good given the ease of the work. However, I think what most people here are angling for is to be treated with respect.

selling my jd said...

$40.00 is rare chief.... outside of NYC, it is unheard of...

but your point is valid... if one gets a $40 an hour spot for a semi-steady length of time, the individual is living the good life... one must document review until one's brain in mush in that situation.. no life... no workouts... no relationships... just coffee, food every so often... and documents.... need to put up at least 65 hours a week in that scenario..

work itself is numbing... but one must be numb to earn the cash....

Anonymous said...

Beasley, sure, you might not get 2000 hours of $40/hr, but my point still holds. $40/hr is solid entry-level wages. Pro-rata, you are making what a $80k 9-5er makes. Or a $160k (slave) associate makes. Pro-rata, per hour. Yea, you'll need to fill all the free time in with other work, to pay loans/bills, but the $40/hr work should hardly be scoffed at. It's a very legit income source.

Anonymous said...

What do law temps make outside of NYC, per hour? And what do other fields pay for entry level in those areas? (finance, tech, engineering, marketing, sales, nursing, teaching, etc)

Anonymous said...

WHOA.
I totally forgot overtime.
$40/hr.
40 hour week = $80,000
60 hour week = $180,000
80 hour week = $280,000
100 hour week = $380,000

IF you're complaining about INCOME, you people are INSANE. The work may suck, but it sure pays.
I am going to law school.
I'll take $30/hr and be semi-retired in a few years.

Anonymous said...

Is there a job that pays about $50k to $100k. (entry level vs. experienced) And also offers ample vacation, since the salary range is so low? (Maybe like at least 10-12 weeks of vacation) Oh, and is at most 8 hours a day. (I need time to work out, play my piano, and to cook dinner. Every day) No weekends, either.

Anonymous said...

$40 is not an entry level wage. You have to wade through the sludge of other lower paying sweatshops to generally land on the $40 per hour gig. I have over 4 yrs experience and I still get call for $25 and $30 gigs. The good paying jobs are getting fewer and fewer, too. As TTT has noted. The "deflate the rate" campaign is well under way.

If you want entry level, try $30 or $33 per hour max (w/out OT). Then do your math.

Oh wait, I forgot about the 2 weeks of unpaid vaction and sick days, subract that. Oh yeah, don't forget the 7 weeks of unemployment and nervous waiting for the next gig...add that in.

It's $60,000 per year generally, on avg. You can do more if get on a long term project with a good base rate and ot.

To sell $80 to $100k to the rank and file doc reviewer as an entry level wage is WRONG, and quite frankly mean spirited.

Your phoney promises are worse than Barack Obama's!

Anonymous said...

I don't think the point was to just sue the companies for the hell of it. Some of the jobs are good, pay 30-40 per hour plus overtime and are in a tolerable environment. There are however horror stories out there of working in roach infested basements with no windows/ventilation of any kind and getting fired for making any kind of complaint. If that happens, why not sue?

selling my jd said...

$25 might be the rate in other markets outside of dc and ny... philly might be like $30...

in nowhere's ville it might be $20...

Anonymous said...

There is one place in Philly where you LITERALLY HAVE TO CLEAN OF THE RAT AND MOUSE FECES from your keyboard when you come in each morning. Nice, huh?? You are also choking on exhaust from the enarby trains and loading dock all day too. Great work place!!!!

Anonymous said...

Several of the comments above only convince me that at least the temp agencies are reading these blogs and comments. Clearly, there are fingerprints in some of the comments above that I might attribute to the players at Dine, Hundson, De Novo, et al........at least they know they are being watched. In fact, there is a enough evidence out there and enough witnesses to make their lives miserable....or at least put forward enough issues that any suit ends up on the front page of the NYTs, WSJ, and FT and with the identity of the law firms and corporations' GCs who are enabling them......

Anonymous said...

that is a great idea, it's about time we did something about this.

Anonymous said...

6:22, I am sorry, is your "comment" based on what is dicussed here? Or just you politicizing another discussion? Actually, what I meant is shut the fuck up already. We know, you are not voting for Obama...

Anonymous said...

Two words for you: Ohio, Texas. It's NOOObama my friend.

Anonymous said...

That is true, my friend, but there is still Pennsylvania and more debates to come. "yes, we can!" :)

Anonymous said...

Now Nobama wants to debate? lol. It should be interesting to say the least, neither side wants to give in at this point, so the fight will drag on...The good news for Obama is that now he can really show everyone how tough he is. Is just an empty suit or willhe show some real grit? Will he continue to go negative and run smear campaigns or will he try take the high ground? Will he stop talking in generalities and begin to discuss what he will actually do as President?

It should be interesting...