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Can I quit? Is this considered "good cause" in Indiana?

by Somewhat bitter

Hello Chris! Great site!

I noticed that you recently addressed a similar case (as mine) for someone in Indiana and you told him to be careful due to the fact that Indiana seem to deny unemployment for people that has had a salary cut due to the economic downturn. However, I still need to ask...I think my case may be a little different.
I was hired by my current company about one year ago. At the time I was hired, I received an Employment Understanding (Offer) letter (dated April xx, 2008) which state that I would be paid $30,000 per year through the end of January 2010. Each February, beginning with February 2010, my salary would be adjusted to reflect 17% of my net invoicing for the previous year in addition to commissions based on increased invoicing to customers based on a commission schedule. There was no mention of potential changes to this base and commission structure in this Employment Understanding Letter however, it had been mentioned to me as I was interviewing that there may be a change in the commission structure but again, nothing in the offer letter. Pretty much as soon as I started, I was exposed to, both verbally and in writing, psychologic (mostly threats about this and that) abuse from our supervisor. Our whole group is subject to this, not only me. Mostly what is said is stuff like "you guys suck", "you should all get fired", "are you guys scared of me? Because if you are not, you should be", etc. etc. I have never worked for anyone that is so disrespectful to his employees and I started to have anxiety attacks. I went to my doctor and was put on an anti-anxiety medicine. I had previously worked for a large employer in Indiana for 10 years and had never had these problems before. About six months after I started (beginning of November), I received a revised compensation letter. This letter stated that beginning February 1st, 2009 through December 31, 2009, my annual base salary would be changed to $22,000 (the letter does not address what would happen to my salary after December 2009). My commission structure also decreased drastically with this revised compensation letter. I told (in writing. I have all the emails saved) the company that I didn't feel that it was right that my salary would decrease 27% for no reason (I had only been told that I was doing great so far and my sales numbers showed it...) However, they told me that Indiana is a "Right to Work" state and the employer can can change compensation plans or terminate employees without any notice or reason, and that there was nothing I can do but to accept this revised compensation plan. So I did... At this point, I am not only a basket case due to the abusive nature of my manager, I am also having panic attacks about the fact that I left a job where I had spent almost 10 years and was making about $75,000 per year for a job (which
I thought would allow me more flexibility but really does not) that barely pays me more than unemployment would. I have talked to HR about the abusive manager and nothing came out of that. HR did not do a thing. I have all kinds of emails proving 1, my salary was cut by 27% 2, my manager is the type that thinks that threating people motivates them (and as most of us know, it does not...) I also have an email from my manager saying that our company is a very financially stable company so apparently they change in salary didn't really have anything to do with the economic down turn. So why lower our salaries?? Not sure myself except that they want to try to save money. Also, just fyi, since this seems to have played a role in some of the decisions about unemployment in the State of Indiana: I do not receive any benefits through my company. I get it all through my husband's company. Do you think I can quit my job and receive unemployment? Again, I am in the state of Indiana.

Understandably so Somewhat bitter.

Have you also read anywhere on this website that I have said, "I think your situation may extend well beyond just whether you can get unemployment benefits or not"?

I had to go looking for what a "right to work state" is. This is what I found National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation

Just a guess, but I suspect the idiot bully meant "at will employment state". That's news .. since all states are to some degree or another .. Anyone ever heard of State Labor Laws?

I cannot give you a definitive yes or no answer. But I can tell you that because you have been collecting emails, letters and documenting I think you should either contact a lawyer and ask some questions or you could go the self help route and visit the The Undercoverlawyer which I do recommend. And just because I like transparency I'll tell you that if you did buy his Work Laws Exposed book, I would get paid, but trust me when I say I haven't found much out there to actually recommend for self help.

I think you have all kinds of issues to expand upon and or possibly pursue, but I do not think I'm the correct person to ask.

My feeling is that you probably have a case, but I'm also concerned that up until now you have obviously been acquiescing to the monetary changes.

Indiana does have a provision which allows benefits for an illness, but it also uses the word "disability" and it needs to be medically substantiated. You can read IN disqualifications statute here.

I really wish I could help you more. I'm interested in these types of cases and I'm sorry I have to send you away .. probably never to hear what happens, but you got to know when to hold'em, know when to fold'em, and know when to ask for a new dealer:)

Good Luck Bitter


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May 19, 2009
Back to the unemployment question??!!
by: Somewhat Bitter

Hello Chris,
Just wanted to give you a quick update on my case.
I talked to a lawyer yesterday. Basically he told me that I don't have a case due to the fact that I signed the revised "offer" letter. It doesn't matter that I was bullied in to doing it based on lies from my manager. What I should have done back in November according to the lawyer is to have called a lawyer back then. That crossed my mind but I trusted that my employer told me the truth. As far as the hostile work environment situation, I don't have a case there either because, according to the lawyer I talked to, it is not against the law to create a hostile work environment. I have called about 4 more lawyers and am waiting for them to call me back. I do want more opinions than one. However, if they all tell me the same thing as the first lawyer, then the question goes back to "is this considered good cause for unemployment benefits in the state of Indiana"? I'll keep you in the loop. Thanks Chris! PS. I do agree with you on the HR thing. EVERYONE should ALWAYS keep in mind that HR works for the employer, not the employee!!!

Hi Somewhat Bitter,

Again Thank You for coming back to comment. You bring up the very problem many people experience when FINALLY contacting an employment attorney.

They find out what it is they should have done "way back then".

It may also be worthy of noting that many of these lawyers like the employer's case better. Employer's pay retainers .. and most employees can't afford an attorney on an "hourly basis".

The employer simply provides a steadier stream of income. It's simple economics at work.

I think you are right to want more than one opinion. We need an attorney that will represent us zealously.

May 15, 2009
Workplace harassment and why when HR gets involved you need to be on your guard.
by: Chris - webmaster:)

Hi Somewhat Bitter,

I get the best feeling of satisfaction when I hear that anything I might have said served to prompt an "employee" into asserting or at the very least exploring their rights. Thank you for that.

I'm working on a page, don't have it quite right yet so I haven't linked to it from anywhere on the website yet, but your comment has prompted me to do so here. It was your comment about HR and the inaction by the HR person that you are experiencing that did so.

The page is about employee rights and HR.

There are many HR people out there that express conflict about what it is they do, they like to help people .. they like people and do not relish the unpleasant things they must do and then there those who love nothing more than being the employer's HAMMER.

It's an employer that controls an HR dept. They give varying degrees of control to them. I've talked to many of these people and my thoughts are they either have the power or they are powerless. They do not act independently of the employer.

May 15, 2009
That's exactly what I needed to hear.
by: Somewhat Bitter

Hello Chris, Thank you so much for your input. I am contacting a few different lawyers today to see if they can help me. There has been so many people "fired" by this idiot bully (well said Chris) or that have quit due to how he treats, threatens and speaks to people that someone has to put their foot down and put a stop to it. Might as well be me. I just needed to hear it from someone that this wasn't right... Thank you again Chris! The ironic thing is that this company broadcasts itself as being very family oriented and they even have a chaplain in the office (I am working offsite) yet they have kept this bully on staff for over 10 years. As I said in my first post, I went to HR (which consists of only one person. This is a fairly small company) and voiced my concerns about the way this man is treating his staff and HR totally turned the other way. I guarantee that HR had heard this in the past, and I asked the HR mgr if she had ever heard this before but didn't get an answer. I know for a fact that she has... I also turned to HR when my base salary was cut by 27% and she indicated that she didn't know any details about the new compensation plan but had been told by my manager that "it was fair". How can HR not know what is in a compensation plan?? I really didn't think I had a choice but to sign the new compensation letter in November. You mentioned that you were concerned that up until now, I have obviously been acquiescing to the monetary changes. Well, to make a very complicated story short, this new "compensation plan" and the 27% cut hasn't really impacted me yet because I am on a guaranteed draw the first year of employment. This 27% will go into effect next month. So in other words, since this change in compensation didn't really go into effect for me (because of the guaranteed draw) until next month, I guess reality didn't really set in until now. I hope this will help explain why I didn't really do until now. I will definitely let you know what happens with my case. Stay tuned! Calling a lawyer!! Thanks again for your support / Somewhat bitter

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