Off topic: Legality of paying up to 2 months late as "punishment" under a contrato de obra?
Thread poster: David Jessop

David Jessop  Identity Verified
Spain
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Dec 14, 2009

Hello...

In addition to my translation work, I have been working part-time as an English teacher here in Madrid, in part to get out of the house.

This autumn I accepted an English teaching position with an academy under a contrato de obra. I gave three classes and for personal reasons needed to terminate the contract. I terminated it under the proper procedure, giving more than 14 days advance notice. I also apologized profusely to the academy and explained my reasoning in detail. The transportation was almost four hours round trip to give a two hour class and I was told the travel time would be only around 2-2.5 hours (there were close to two hours of walking from the bus station to the house that was not explained to me beforehand).

I waited and waited and waited to get paid by the academy. At one point, I inquired and was told by the coordinator that she had forgotten to give my bank information to the director of the academy, who is responsible for accounting.

Finally, one month and two months after the expected pay date (they were late for two months of pay), I was able to speak with the director by telephone. He explained to me that they had withheld payment intentionally and disregarded my attempts at communication as a punishment (castigo) for my terminating the contract early. I told him that while I recognized my terminating the contract early put the academy in an uncomfortable position as I had earlier apologized, I found his response highly inappropriate, especially since my termination was legal. In addition to the "punishment", I was lied to.

I am wondering about the legality of what the academy did and if I have any legal recourse should I choose to pursue action. I could certainly contact INEM to inquire but thought someone might have an idea.

Thanks for any thoughts on this situation.

Best wishes,
David


[Edited at 2009-12-14 23:30 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-12-14 23:39 GMT]


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:57
Dutch to English
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No advice here because I do not know Dec 15, 2009

But I would be as mad as hell. Castigo indeed!

I would tell them what my 16-year old daughter likes to say: Go die!

[Edited at 2009-12-15 06:28 GMT]


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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:57
Spanish to English
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Become unpleasant (as a punishment) Dec 15, 2009

I am sure somebody will give you some cautious legal advice and there are probably some sensible steps you can take with INEM.

However, if I was in your shoes I would just turn up and in a very loud voice demand immediate payment. Choose a busy moment when there are plenty of students around. If they threaten to call the police, then just continue shouting until the police arrive.

Leave quietly when the police turn up. If they haven't paid you during this visit, then they probably will pay when you tell them that you intend visiting again.


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David Jessop  Identity Verified
Spain
Member
Spanish to English
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TOPIC STARTER
Nice idea John :-) Dec 15, 2009

Hey John,

You always seem to have a radical way of handling these sorts of things. To clarify, I did eventually get paid but this was 1 and 2 months late, respectively, and after many attempts at contact. When I finally managed to reach their director on the phone, I was told I had been "punished". I am quite mad about this situation as I've already explained and am wondering what recourse, if any, there is to be taken at this point.

Best,
David


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 11:57
Dutch to English
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Life is too short Dec 15, 2009

You've received your money, I wouldn't waste any more time and effort on it.

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Anne Gillard-Groddeck  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:57
German to English
Forget it Dec 15, 2009

I agree with Lawyer-Linguist

If you have been paid forget it and move on.

I would certainly avoid doing anything that could be construed as harassment of a debtor or harassment in general.

If you had done something about this while the debt was still outstanding you could have claimed interest, but it would hardly be worth your while now.


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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sorry - I misread Dec 15, 2009

Sorry, but I misread your posting and thought that you had not been paid. Of course, I wouldn't propose taking any measures to 'punish' them after being paid.

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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:57
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
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Agree with Anne and Lawyer Dec 15, 2009

Be happy you were paid and consider it a lesson learned. I also think it would be healthy for you to admit that you really did set yourself up for this by not verifying the distances involved yourself (either by making a dry run before you entered into an agreement or by doing a mapquest or similar online--if such a thing were possible). Failing that, you ought to have raised the issue after the very first trip, when you discovered you had been lied to.

So: be smarter next time. It seems like you have paid a small price for a very valuable lesson.

[Edited at 2009-12-15 16:01 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:57
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
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Magistratura de trabajo Dec 15, 2009

OK. I must say that a "contrato de fin de obra y servicio" is not a freelance agreement, but an employment contract, something that is quite serious in Spain. In Spain, payment day is at the end of each month unless otherwise agreed.

If you feel you followed the resignation procedure correctly, I would encourage you to warn the company that you are going to go to the Magistratura de trabajo in your area (usually at the main cities) and take the lack of payment to them. The Magistratura will pursue the matter on your name, and I can assure you that no company wants to mess around with the Magistratura as they are absolutely strict.

If no reaction takes place, do go to the Magistratura and file an official complaint. Call the Magistratura and ask them what documents you need for that.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:57
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
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Sorry - A confusion Dec 15, 2009

Oops. Sorry, I am a bit rusty in these matters. Now apparently the "Magistratura de trabajo" is called "Juzgado de lo social". You might want to ask the INEM about where to go with a claim for unpaid wages.

I insist: non paying a trade debt is one thing, and non paying a salary is a far more serious thing in Spain. You should certainly take the matter to the Juzgado de lo social, and the company will not only have to pay your wages, but also late payment interest, the fees of your lawyer and "procurador" and the fees of the court itself, so this will mean far more money even it you get paid in a year from now.

If the company insists in not paying you, look for a lawyer and let him/her handle it. My advice is that you find a lawyer who accepts to be paid a percentage of whatever you are paid, so that you don't have to pay the lawyer upfront.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:57
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
And dumb me! :-) Dec 15, 2009

In fact you were paid. Sorry but I sometimes find it hard to read long postings...

Hm... I think this is a situation in which, as Robert suggested, it's best to forget about it all and carry on with your life. We all are always at risk of meeting plain stupid people!

I hope you don't mind if I leave my replies there. They might be useful to others in a similar situation in the long run.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:57
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
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For the future... Dec 17, 2009

Check out Articles 4 and 26 ff: http://noticias.juridicas.com/base_datos/Laboral/rdleg1-1995.t1.html

What they did was illegal.


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