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Anthony

Registered: 03/02/10
Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #1 
We decided to terminate a Resident Manager and gave him two weeks notice to vacate. Four of us just showed up at his unit without notice and walked past him to remove all company files, keys etc. we may have inadvertently also taken some of his private paperwork in the rush to grab everything. While he was off balance we tried to have him sign off on paperwork which he refused. He's 64 and went into a bit of a shock. We all agreed the pre-emptive strike works best. Now I'm having second thoughts. I have been told I should have given at least 24 hours notice before showing up. (This is my 24 unit property and an at will state) He seemed to get a bit annoyed about the "you're fired!" broadcast with everyone listening. He wouldn't sign anything. He must have known something was happening. We shopped him every day for a month to catch him out for not following our exact sales presentation. He's been getting sick as well. We had him work every day without a day off for the last nine months. We paid no overtime either. Am I exposed here? Any and all advise welcome.
OHlandlord

Registered: 01/20/07
Posts: 3,532
Reply with quote  #2 
Let me understand this.

You worked this man everyday for 9 months without a single day off?  How many hours per day?  Was he on salary or hourly wages?  If hourly, you may owe him a boatload of overtime.

You send "shoppers" to covertly look at the unit with no intention of renting them, so you could see if he was following your script?  What was the problem with how he presented the units?  Did he offer something not in your leases?  Make misrepresentations?  What was the reasoning behind this?  Not following an exact script is not reason to fire someone as a PM.  Making misrepresentations is.

Then you showed up at some place and entered without notice.  Was this at his home or the office?  If it was his home apartment, you had to give notice to enter and may have opened yourself to much liability.  If it was the office, there would be no problem with entering it during business hours and removing files from a fired employee.  Did you also remove keys from his possession for other tenants' units?

Please re-post with more information.
Anthony

Registered: 03/02/10
Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #3 
Hourly. Maybe we did overshop a bit. He got to a point where he was maybe seeing only shoppers and feeling a bit sick and tired angry and harassed. He didn't follow the script exactly. It was his home with a small area used as an office with business and some of his personal paperwork which we may have taken in the rush. Otherwise this is his home. We gave no notice. We also took all keys. We left him with the keys to his apartment. Lately he's been acting very sickly and going to the hospital. We wanted him out of there before he could file some kind of claim or other. We felt also that maybe he was deteriorating mentally. He was gasping for air and full of anxiety. His voice was breaking and he sounded angry. With all this and the shopper reports we decide to just go in there and terminate him on the spot. He didn't have a second to prepare himself. He's a bit of a gentleman so I suppose he went into shock and although he wouldn't sign anything he didn't resist much as we were quick to remind him that although he might think this apartment is his home it is our property and we can do what we like. We gave him two weeks, He's out next Friday. We believe he's too off balance now to retaliate in any way. What can he do?
Anthony

Registered: 03/02/10
Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #4 
He worked varied hours 24/7.  Most days all hours available between 8 and 8 including weekends.  He's contracted 4.5 hours max per day (27 per week)which were the only hours he was paid.  When he started we told him this is a part time job which I suppose is a bit misleading really.  This is At Will California.  Most Managers just quit after a few weeks or months.  This guy looked like he was going long term.  He gets along really well with the tenants and he
brought really high quality tenants on board.  He kept the building really clean.  He just did not seem to be up to the shopper harassment.  At least that's what  he calls it.
Sam

Registered: 05/29/08
Posts: 563
Reply with quote  #5 
Well if what you did to the poor man is not illegal, it should be. 

What was your point?  Why didn't you just let him go instead of making him jump thru hoops just to fire him?
Anthony

Registered: 03/02/10
Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #6 

We were nervous we might be sued.

OHlandlord

Registered: 01/20/07
Posts: 3,532
Reply with quote  #7 
As well you should be.  You hired him to work only part-time, but worked him 24/7.  You paid him only 27 hours a week when he worked 12 hours a day for 7 days (84 hours).  Instead of 27 hours pay, he was entitled to 40 regular hours plus 44 hours overtime at 1.5 (106 hours).  You shorted him 79 hours of pay a week for 9 months (3002 hours of pay).  Yes, if he can prove this, he can sue you for the lost wages.

Additionally, you entered his rented unit without notice in violation of CA Civil Code 1954 which required you to give him 24 hours advance notice prior to entry.  You seized personal belongings (his paperwork).  This is a huge civil rights violation.

On top of this, you fired him because he didn't stick exactly to a script?  Unless he misrepresented the property or in some other way violated standard practices of property management. you may not even have had cause to do this.  What did your contract with him say about termination?  If it doesn't list it and his contract is in effect, you have violated his employment contract.  (While CA is an at will employment state, this may not apply to contractual agreements.)  IF the employment contract doesn't have a termination clause, is in effect, and he seemed to be doing a good job, you could really find yourself in a huge mess here.

I strongly suggest you try and get him to settle for a nice severance package before he sees an attorney to sue you.

chinyomba

Registered: 04/28/09
Posts: 57
Reply with quote  #8 
This just made my heart sink to the bottom of my stomach Athony. You are not obligated to be nice to anybody but how about be fair or even close to it? Nervous you might be sued? What you did is exactly the reason why there are lawsuits? If you did not have money to pay this poor guy, why not just let him go? You just wanted to use, abuse, and when you realize this man does not have good friends or relatives to get some sense of suspicion into your deal you send him off like this? Maybe you are the reason he is deteriorating mentally. I hope he finds another place to live at, somebody to trust and a job that pays.

You are worried about what he can do now, right? You say he's too off balance now to retaliate in any way. If you had any fairness in you and I doubt you do, I would get him some settlement like OHlandlord suggested. But going with the kind of person I think you are, all I have to say is let this man go with his life. Don't endanger his life in any way. Jeeeez!!! I don't need to watch a horror movie tonite.
Anthony

Registered: 03/02/10
Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #9 

Even if we did a few things in an offhand way and he sues he can't prove anything.  We got our records and his records and logs that he would need.

id3594

Registered: 02/25/10
Posts: 4
Reply with quote  #10 

I have one thing to say, and I never seen it fail yet. What goes around comes around!

Sam

Registered: 05/29/08
Posts: 563
Reply with quote  #11 

Amen.

OHlandlord

Registered: 01/20/07
Posts: 3,532
Reply with quote  #12 
Of course he can prove things without those records.  (And you don't know for sure that you got all the records.  How do you know that he didn't make notations on his calendar, in his cell phone, or in a notebook?)  All he has to do is get a few tenants to go to court and testify he was working all those hours.  (No doubt he has several tenants who really like this guy.)  He can prove the quality of tenants he has put into the units by asking you in court to produce their rent payment records (proving he did a good job at finding tenants.)  He can show by witness that you entered his space and he can testify that you provided no notice to enter.  You have no written notice to prove otherwise.

You didn't do a few things offhand.  You have grossly violated his civil rights, broke CA law, and possible violated his employment contract!  He can prove all of this if he wants.  Again, I strongly suggest smoothing things over with a severance package, and get him to sign off on this in exchange not to pursue any of this.  While you think he may not be smart or aware enough to sue you, his relatives may be.  (Once they hear what happened, they will be up in arms!)  If he sues, you would lose.  The consequences could be tens of thousands of dollars in damages and much more in punitive awards.  Judges and juries would not look kindly on you for storming into his apartment without notice and seizing these things from a little old man!  He could end up owning that apartment complex in a CA court.  Just look at some of the amounts awarded for these types of violations in CA courts.  Settle now.
NickTheLandLord

Registered: 03/17/10
Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #13 
Anthony,

I think people are getting a little self righteous about this. Bottom line: you have every right when to terminate your employee.

If its his time then he has to go. At worst you may get a slap on the wrist and a fine in court and that's if it goes to court but is that really so bad for you?. You may want to offer him a severance check if that will help you minimize the risk of him going to court and if a check is accepted that could help you in if he tries to make accusations against you in court.

On your tactics I think it was a classic example of imposing military strength in a true Machiavellian fashion. Bravo!

Good hunting on finding your new resident manager.

-Nick

OHlandlord

Registered: 01/20/07
Posts: 3,532
Reply with quote  #14 
A slap on the wrist?  Although contracted for only part time work, they worked him everyday for12 hours straight for 9 months.  This PM was shorted 3002 hours of pay!  At $8 an hour (in CA) that's $24, 016 that this guy can sue for (not including the overtime they owe him which should be over $6000 additional.)  They admit to working him everyday for 9 months without a day off, then fire him when he gets sick?  That won't go over well with a jury.

A fine in court?  This PM had his civil rights violated by the owners entering without any notice in tenant friendly CA.  They even stole some of his personal papers in their mad grab for their files.  Check damage awards in civil suits in CA.  Some run in the millions of dollars!  That's certainly not a slap on the wrist.

Additionally, unless they have some excuse other than he didn't follow a script exactly, they may not have just cause to even fire him.  If he has an employment contract, they had no reason to fire him.  Unless he misrepresented the units, firing him for not following a script isn't just cause (which may be needed if he has an employment contract).  If he had no employment contract he could be fired for no cause (but I can't image a PM working without one) .  He had been working there for 9 months, and had signed leases with quality tenants as the OP admits.  If he was still doing his contracted duties, what reason was there for firing him?

This was a terrible mistake on Anthony's part.  Even if the PM needed firing, this was not the way to do it.  If this guy sues, they will likely lose this complex.  If someone has to be fired, there is a good way and a bad way to do it.  These people chose an even worse way and it may cost them Big Time.  I hope for their sake that they settle with this PM quickly before they are sued.
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