Case #2: Employment Law

Suzy Smith was employed as a digital media consultant for a website. At the time, Jimmy Jones, owner of Acme Corp, offered Suzy Smith the director of digital sales position, Ms. Smith was going through a divorce. She had been concerned about leaving her previous employer because moving to a commission-based position would be a radical transition for her. Before making her decision, Ms. Smith spoke to Mr. Jones on several occasions to discuss her concerns, the flexibility she required, her divorce, childcare issues, expectations at Acme Corp, and her compensation. Mr. Jones assured Ms. Smith that she would have flexibility to work around her personal schedule.


Mr. Jones offered Ms. Smith a compensation package of $3,000 per week at first, which was represented as a “guaranteed” $156,000 a year salary. The compensation was based on a 4% gross commission on all new and used car sales. Mr. Jones persuaded Ms. Smith to accept the job offer, and she began working for Acme Corp.


The two agreed that Ms. Smith would work shorter days on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to accommodate her parenting time. Ms. Smith made it very clear that she had to maintain responsible and consistent parenting time; otherwise, it could be used against her during her divorce and potentially affect the parenting time she would be allowed in the future. Despite this, Mr. Jones demanded that Ms. Smith skip her parenting time to be at the dealership. He followed up these demands with threats that if she could not be at the dealership when needed, he would find someone who could.


Ms. Smith worked hard at the dealership, particularly because her compensation was based on commissions and she needed to demonstrate her financial stability to the court during her divorce.


Due to Ms. Smith’s financial situation and fear of losing her job, she gave up her weekday parenting time. About one month later, although Ms. Smith and Mr. Jones had agreed that Ms. Smith would work only every other Saturday, Mr. Jones ordered Ms. Smith to work every Saturday.


Ms. Smith complained in response to Mr. Jones’ harsh demands, but Mr. Jones told her that he could easily find someone who could work on the weekends and that Ms. Smith could go back to her old job. Ms. Smith, in order to keep the only parenting time she had left, pled with her family to watch her children on Saturdays while he worked at the dealership.


After a few weeks and then again after a few months, Ms. Smith asked Mr. Jones why her commission checks were not coming to her and why there were discrepancies in the amount. Although Mr. Jones always had an excuse for not paying Ms. Smith, she later learned that none of the managers had received their commission checks. Ms. Smith was not paid the $3,000 per week Mr. Jones had promised to pay her in the first few months.

Ms. Smith endured a persistently hostile work environment and Mr. Jones’ unrelentingly unprofessional attitude toward her and her co-workers. Rather than pay her what she had earned, Mr. Jones harassed Ms. Smith so that she would quit. Ms. Jones feared losing her children, being unable to pay child support and alimony, and losing her home. Mr. Jones was fully aware of Ms. Smith’s personal struggles and took advantage of her good nature.


Suzy Smith sued Jimmy Jones and Acme Corp for violations of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.


If your employer fails to pay you what you’ve earned, unilaterally changes the terms of your employment, or subjects you to harassment, an experienced employment attorney can help you determine what remedies may be available to you. Contact the Mark Law Firm to discuss your abusive employment situation and learn what legal recourse you may have.

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