Company misconduct - Need advice
Thread poster: Cecilia Gowar

Cecilia Gowar
United Kingdom
English to Spanish
+ ...
Dec 31, 2010

Hello,
A few days ago I received a notice that one of the companies I work for as a telephone interpreter would terminate my contract in accordance with one of its clauses, which states that either party might terminate the contract upon 30 days’ written notice. The clause, however, also states that “in the event of such termination, the parties agree to act in good faith toward one another during the 30-day notice period”. I have complied with my part of the deal, but I woke up early today to find out that they have effectively locked me out of the system. I cannot log on either by telephone or on the site, and they won’t have anybody from administration until Monday afternoon.
Is there anything you can do if they do not comply with their part of the deal? We interpreters seem to be the only ones who have to toe the line at all times.
I would also be interested in getting in touch with anybody who works in telephone interpretation for American agencies, particularly in Sp/En, to discuss this and other related matters privately.
Thanks for any input.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:56
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Did you have work in process or scheduled work? Dec 31, 2010

cgowar wrote:
A few days ago I received a notice that one of the companies I work for as a telephone interpreter would terminate my contract in accordance with one of its clauses, which states that either party might terminate the contract upon 30 days’ written notice. The clause, however, also states that “in the event of such termination, the parties agree to act in good faith toward one another during the 30-day notice period”.

Did you have assigned interpretation jobs scheduled within the 30-day notice? If you did not, I reckon the company can do as they wish since they do not plan to give you work during the 30 days of notice and you cannot force them to give you work.

Although I completely sympathise with you and your feelings about this, from a business point of view, I understand the fact that the company revokes your access to the system upon the notice. They probably feel that it is for the better protection of their assets.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Cecilia Gowar
United Kingdom
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
You are wrong Dec 31, 2010

Telephone interpretation services are very rarely scheduled. You make yourself available or not and might have many calls or no calls at all. The company does not guarantee any work volume.
But, until your contract is terminated in accordance with the terms specified, they cannot prevent you from logging on to the system in order to receive calls. That is tantamount to terminating your contract without notice. And that is not an option for any of the parties.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:56
French to German
+ ...
Classical corporate misbehaviour Dec 31, 2010

I see this as an example of classical corporate misbehaviour.
I have heard of engineers and other managers who came to work one morning just to discover that they had no access to any kind of IT resources, not even to their desktop computer. Their contract was therefore de facto terminated.
Since then, I have no illusions anymore about companies respecting contracts when someone up in the chain of command can make arbitrary decisions.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Cecilia Gowar
United Kingdom
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Different rules for either party? Dec 31, 2010

Thanks Laurent! Well, this is the "job market" these days (I could recommend Chomsky on the subject!). But surely companies must comply with the terms of the contract! They have drawn it themselves and signed it. Why can they get away with not abiding when WE cannot?

Direct link Reply with quote
 

AndersonT  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2010)
German to English
It's regrettable, but also understandable Dec 31, 2010

“in the event of such termination, the parties agree to act in good faith toward one another during the 30-day notice period”


Not favoring any particular side here and it sure stinks for you, but seeing from a sole contract point of view, they're not really in the wrong, at least in legal terms.

The system is used to give interpreters access to jobs, the company has (for whatever dubious reasons) decided not to assign jobs to you anymore, hence you no longer have a need to access the system.

In legal terms, "good faith" does not mean that they have to let you keep doing jobs for the 30 day period. This "good faith" really means not "misplacing" your last invoice for 3 months or spreading slander/libel based on this termination etc.

I know that this whole issue probably annoys you quite a bit, but in US legal terms the definition of "good faith" does not really constitute an obligation to assign more jobs until the notice date is actually here. And since the system is probably used for nothing else than to access jobs, it's just good system maintenance to remove an account that will no longer be used ASAP.

On a personal level I really do sympathize, but in US contract law terms this looks pretty clean (however crooked it may be under the surface).


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Cecilia Gowar
United Kingdom
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Dec 31, 2010

for your comment AndersonT. However, if what you say is true (legal matters are never black and white) this is a mockery. Why the 30-day notice if they take you off the system before that?

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:56
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Termination of the contract Dec 31, 2010

cgowar wrote:
Thank you for your comment AndersonT. However, if what you say is true (legal matters are never black and white) this is a mockery. Why the 30-day notice if they take you off the system before that?

I think you might be confusing contract and work. The contract is the framework of the work to be done, and the advance notice refers to the contract, and not to access to work. Having a contract with the company does not necessarily mean that they will give you work at any time, so they are not obliged to allow you access to the system even if the contract is still valid (until the 30-day notice period is over).


Direct link Reply with quote
 

PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 09:56
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
What would be the point, then? Dec 31, 2010

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

I think you might be confusing contract and work. The contract is the framework of the work to be done, and the advance notice refers to the contract, and not to access to work. Having a contract with the company does not necessarily mean that they will give you work at any time, so they are not obliged to allow you access to the system even if the contract is still valid (until the 30-day notice period is over).


So why have a contract mentioning a notice period at all?
It makes no sense.

One has an expectation that a notice period is there to give you fair warning BEFORE your work is being taken over by someone else or discontinued or whatever.
What happened here is that the company terminates the contract the very second the notice is sent, and this is not what is to be expected from the agreement, it seems.

This is therefore not a case of confusing contract and work (since our poster does not expect regular work, but expects the oportunity to get work through access to the site).

IMHO


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Cecilia Gowar
United Kingdom
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
You've said it PCovs Dec 31, 2010

That argument makes no sense at all. And it is astonishing that anybody subscribes to it, aside from the corporations, which of course benefit from those tricks.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:56
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Law is not common sense Dec 31, 2010

Law is law, and contracts are contracts. Both are often far from common sense.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:56
Swedish to English
+ ...
Hear, hear Dec 31, 2010

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

Law is law, and contracts are contracts. Both are often far from common sense.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 09:56
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
If not legally wrong Dec 31, 2010

then morally wrong. This is what I am getting at.

The sole purpose of this notice period is to give the freelancer a sense of security, which does not exist.

In a working relationship in Denmark you may tell somebody he or she is fired and then say that this person is not required to come to work during the notice period, but obviously this time would be paid as usual, as this is an employment relationship.

In a freelance contract stipulating a notice period one would expect similar arrangement (obviously not with some kind of guaranteed pay as this is a different relationship), and this is what I am getting at. The rightful expectation arising from such a stipulation.

To get back to what the poster should do, two things spring to my mind:

1- Make a notice of this practice on BB - simply stating the fact that this notice period is de facto without consequence would be sufficient, I think. Then other freelancers will know beforehand what is real and make their choice based on that; and

2- If you care to then get legal advice on the matter just to get things straight regarding rules and regulations in your client's country of residence and in your own.

Other than that, I can only say "Live and learn".

Happy New Year out there.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:56
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Courts will rule on contracts and law, not moral assessments Jan 1, 2011

PCovs wrote:
2- If you care to then get legal advice on the matter just to get things straight regarding rules and regulations in your client's country of residence and in your own.

Personally I think this matter is quite finished beyond recovery. The contract does not say that they will give you work during the 30-day notice period. "Good faith" does not sound to me like the company should continue to offer jobs during the notice period, and I think a court will not award damages based on that idea.


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Company misconduct - Need advice

Advanced search







TM-Town
Manage your TMs and Terms ... and boost your translation business

Are you ready for something fresh in the industry? TM-Town is a unique new site for you -- the freelance translator -- to store, manage and share translation memories (TMs) and glossaries...and potentially meet new clients on the basis of your prior work.

More info »
LSP.expert
You’re a freelance translator? LSP.expert helps you manage your daily translation jobs. It’s easy, fast and secure.

How about you start tracking translation jobs and sending invoices in minutes? You can also manage your clients and generate reports about your business activities. So you always keep a clear view on your planning, AND you get a free 30 day trial period!

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search