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Is Lady Justice’s Blindfold Truly Hiding Dollar Signs for Eyes?
FACT: During 2002, 36 million Americans were hospitalized; simultaneously, 93 million court filings were made.
ASSESSMENT: YOU are almost three times more likely to need legal assistance than you are to need medical/hospital assistance. Yet, more than likely, you have medical insurance,but you do not have “legal insurance.”
It’s a sad fact that only 10% of the population (the rich) is able to afford legal representation and another 10% of the population (the poor) is able to access legal services via the legal aid system. The remaining 80% of the population (Middle America-you and I) must pay for legal representation. Still, how many Middle Americans do you know that can afford the typical attorney fee: $110-$200 per hour?
At last, the day has come when affordable legal services are available to all North Americans. Tom, a close friend of mine, recently found this to be true. Here’s his story.
Tom called me today to inform me that his employer of the last six years has terminated him. It was clear to me that he was very exasperated from the experience and I knew that after the listening I’d be doing, I’d be compelled to provide him some guidance – should he ask for it.
And what would be my authority for being in a position to provide him guidance? My own experience, of course.
Just a while back, my employer of close to five years had terminated me in what was clearly a very hostile manner.
The termination came as a complete surprise. During my employment, I had achieved three position promotions (and, of course, the perquisites that accompanies upper management promotions). Furthermore, I had always received increasingly superior performance appraisals and, moreover, I had introduced several innovations to systems and service delivery that enhanced the company’s strategic position in its marketplace. No big deal. I did what I was hired to do and a lot more, that’s all.
The company experienced rapid growth as a result of my and a few other top notch directors, yet the primary benefits of this growth were only fully realized (in terms of the greatest compensation) by upper echelon management in ‘corporateville.’
Clearly, there wasn’t equal disbursement of bonuses based on contribution or performance. They were a greedy group.
Nonetheless, we persevered, day-to-day, to get the job done.
The company’s greed was further evidenced by its restructuring model. Upper management, known for never practicing inclusion when major decisions regarding direction were being considered, and relying on the input of the ignorant that held the position of friends instead of relying on the expertise of the few qualified professionals present, decided to cut back on the company’s number of entry level positions (a position title that was crucial to day-to-day operations), while increasing the salaries of three barely competent individuals who, combined, just a few months prior, were instrumental in ushering in a moratorium on referrals from the industries contracting organization. This moratorium cost the
The new management team decided to convert the operation from a distinct three shift model (8a-4p|4p-12p|12p-8a) (which was required for the 24/7 operations), to a “centralized” model that still incorporated the three distinct shifts, but just utilized the people in an altogether different manner. To be more specific, they took staff from the third shift and placed them on the second shift. First shift staff was mandated to work third shift. The new management team had no concern for the lifestyles of the staff. This was a completely disrupting strategy.
Needless to say . . .
Staff was resigning in droves. Those staff that didn’t wholeheartedly welcome this change and get on board with it were terminated. Staff at all levels were leaving. The company was operating on a very limited personnel roster. The new management team’s response was to increase mandatory overtime hours, this caused an even greater loss of staff.
My role in this change was one of conciliation. While I was in total disagreement with the spirit in which the changes were effectuated, I could completely understand the corporate mindset. The company was afraid. It was afraid that it would lose out completely in terms of continuing to be a viable provider of services in its industry if drastic changes were not quickly made.
Well, one of the new managers saw that my positional, referent, and expert power was increasing, and he felt that this would be a detriment to his solely positional power base. How ridiculous! Since I had always used every advantage I had for the furtherance of the company’s mission.
Certain signs at this point were directing me to begin reconsidering my continuing with this company. Since the new upper management fellow was closely aligned with the corporate team and his word held great sway over them, I began to get that “gut” feeling that despite my many contributions to the company, I was making this individual feel uneasy.
Granted, upper-level managers had been let go before and will continue to be let go in the future, for whatever reasons.
However, historically, all mid- and upper-level directors were let go with a six-month severance package. I state that here to prepare the reader for the next salient element of my story – the element that ties everything together.
Months passed. Many changes were implemented. I rallied behind each change, seeking to find the benefit of each seemingly dreadful decision set forth by the new management team. In retrospect, I now see that many of these changes (e.g. changing my hours from 9a-5p to 2a-10a; changing my days off from Sat. and Sun. to Fri. and Sat; changing the mid-level managers that reported to me, men that I had trained and developed, and had built a very strong working relationship with to transferring the companies newest and least productive mid-level managers to my team, etc.) were set forth in an attempt to get me to resign. Boy, did they wrongly evaluate me. Hadn’t time taught them that when the going got tough, I got going even stronger? Obviously not.
In any event, after seeing that I would not be shaken no matter what they threw at me, they upgraded their tactics to the next level.
One Friday afternoon, I was called to the Human Resources Department offices. Clearly, what was about to take place was quite obvious. I had never been summoned to the HRD offices. I had in the course of my employment, summoned many individuals to the HRD offices, only for the purpose of termination. Note: All of the terminations I conducted were due to documented violations of company policy and procedure (the paper trail was existent).
When I arrived at the HRD offices and entered the boardroom, I saw that all the upper-level new management team members were present. As soon as I sat down, my immediate supervisor stated, “We called this meeting to inform you that you are being terminated.” I replied, “Can you tell me why I’m being terminated?” There was a brief silence in the room which was broken by my immediate supervisor’s supervisor stating, “No reason, you just don’t work here any more.” Not being one to quibble over such issues, I moved the conversation to the next logical point – my severance package.
I asked, “When do I sign my severance agreement?” My supervisor’s supervisor responded, “You are not getting a severance package.” Needless to say, I was very surprised. Despite the hostile manner in which I was being terminated, I certainly thought the company would at least consider executing their dirty work with a little bit of class. My thoughts were wrong.
I was unceremoniously escorted off the property with my personal effects in tow.
Returning home that evening, my mind was racing a mile per second. What happens now?” “What do I do?” “How will I break this bad news to my family?” “How will I pay my NEW mortgage?” “Can they dismiss me like that and deny me a benefit that I know was provided to other individuals at the time of termination (namely, the usual severance package)?” An endless stream of questions raced through my mind. Those of you reading this that experienced a similar situation can probably relate.
Some of you are very close to experiencing what I did and you probably aren’t even aware of how close you are to being in my “shoes.” Be prepared.
When I arrived at home, I conducted myself as though nothing had changed. Just another day of work completed.
My mind still racing – I knew I needed an attorney, but how could I possibly afford one considering I had just lost my job?
The next day, I sent my ex-employer multiple e-mail messages in an attempt to get justice. All were ignored. I didn’t get one response.
My mind was racing all through the night. Upon awakening, I realized what I needed to do.
I remembered a similar situation from years ago, wherein I needed an attorney and couldn’t afford the $110-$200 an hour type.
I found a provider of legal services that specialized in leveling the “access to legal services” field.
I immediately went online to research this particular legal services provider. Within less than one hour I was in the
system. I had more that just one attorney, I had an entire firm.
Making my initial contact call was extremely easy. I called the firm; they took my information and told me an attorney would contact me in less than 24 hours. That same afternoon, an attorney specializing in employment law contacted me and provided a FREE consultation (try to get a free consultation from your attorney).
I had already prepared an eight-page expository letter to be sent to the corporate office of my ex-employer. I just wanted to make sure the document was fool-proof, that I wasn’t violating the law by sending it. I faxed the document to my attorney. Within 30 minutes she, my attorney, called me back to inform me that the document was not libelous. She further stated that if I needed her to further assist me all I need do was ask. The cost for this initial on my behalf was: $0 (it was included in the plan).
From that point on, I felt empowered.
So many times I’ve said, “I’m going to call my attorney” – and at the same time fully knowing that I didn’t have an attorney.
But that has all changed. I now have an entire firm on my team, covering employment law, real estate law, marital law, international law, motor vehicle law, trial defense law, trust and estate law, business law, and so on. In other words, I HAVE AN ENTIRE LAW FIRM ON MY TEAM. And the firm is one of the best in the Pennsylvania area.
Back to my story…
I faxed he document to my ex-employer’s corporate offices. I sent the eight-page expository document to the CEO, the
President and the Director of Human Resources. Not only did I send them this powerful documentation, I gave them a deadline to respond; by the close of business on Friday.
At 10:00am that Friday morning, the Human Resources Director called me and informed me that he would be faxing me a Severance
Agreement and Release (SAR). The SAR arrived; I faxed it to my attorney for review (no charge-included in my plan). She
reviewed the SAR then contacted me to inform me that it was okay for me to sign.
Well, needless to say, the table was turned. I now had my severance package (full pay and family medical benefits for
six-months). My ex-employer now has a new found respect for me. It’s sad that the situation had to transpire in this manner, but that’s the way the “bully mind-set” works. They thought they had the little man (me) beat, until they turned the corner and saw my big brother (law firm) waiting there for me.
Well, to be sure, after Tom heard my story he couldn’t wait to learn more. I provided him with a link to a web site where he was able to get all the details and sign up for the service. Now Tom, like me, has the law on his side. His transition has been completely stabilized. His family now has peace of mind and they rest securely at night knowing that no one will be able to take advantage of them ever again.
Wouldn’t you like to have this level of security and safety for your family? Well. Now you can!
Remember, it’s not a matter of if you will ever need legal representation; it’s clearly a matter of when.
Prepare yourselves today and be ready when the inevitable situation or condition presents itself wherein you will need legal counsel. I will tell you this, there is nothing more empowering than calling YOUR attorney when you need a contract reviewed, when an automobile mechanic has given you a bad deal, when a jeweler has misrepresented a product, when a tenant refuses to pay the rent, etc.
In sum, access to competent legal services is finally available to all Americans and Canadians. You, too, can arm yourself with the means to add this powerful tool to your or your family’s team.
To learn more about this shift in the realm of legal services access, visit
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write by Roderick