Saturday, February 4, 2017

Employer blatanly lied to the Department of Labor

For two years I put up with it. I even offered to help my former employer, Wayne Marquis, of Van Buren Maine, improve relations between he and his employees. He has difficulty retaining good workers, and hires alot of people with criminal records; I don't have one, yet. I just like seasonal work because it allows me time during the year to get other  things done. I manage our rental properties, doing cleaning, painting, evictions! 

So, here's what happened on Sept. 30, 2016. We were moving from one potato house to another during harvest. I was driving my car, with another employee with me in the passenger seat. Wayne was behind me in a pickup truck. I slowed down because I thought I had arrived at the road where the potato house was, but it was the wrong road. I sped back up. Wayne had not expected me to slow down. He hadn't realized I wasn't quite sure of the location which I'd only been to once before. The roads do look alike, in Saint David, on the river side, near Al's Auto. When we both arrived at the location, Wayne began hollering at me saying he almost bumped me. I bit my tongue and said nicely to him "I didn't realize you were following me so closely." He left, and I thought that was the end of it; but a few hours later, he returned just as furious as ever and started in on me again. Several co-workers witnessed this, and some said they would have quit. I didn't. 

I called Wayne the next morning at 7:10 a.m. and left a message telling him that we had to speak before I would return to work. I reached him later in the day, hoping for an apology...but no. When I tried to tell him that at least I had a license and a car to get to work, which most of his employees don't, he hung up. He texted me on my cell phone eventually asking for my time card. When I met him to give it to him, he made it clear that he was no longer going to employ me. Did I mention that there were no porta potties on the job site? Totally illegal. He knew. I told him that my co-worker hadn't gone all day, and that I had made him some lemonade. I couldn't hold it and used a cup to relieve myself at the back of the potato house while everyone was outside. 

Now have you ever heard of constructive discharge?  When conditions of employment are so intolerable, you can quit a job, or be fired, and still collect unemployment, assuming you have earned enough in your quarters. I applied for unemployment, but was denied. From paperwork the Department of Labor sent me, I saw that Wayne had lied, stated that I quit for no good reason. I appealed, and he did call in for the interview. And he lied again. He told the interviewer that I was driving dangerously, and had cut him off. I told the interviewer that was a lie, and I asked "Where were you when I cut you off?" He answered "I was behind you". 

Also, he told the interviewer that because I had quit he had to hire someone to replace me immediately. That was another lie, for he had told me that since I was leaving he wouldn't have to lay off an employee who happened to be a minor child who would be returning to school after harvest break. I'm not sure his actual age, but definitely there were child labor laws being broken. The number of hours we were working was often 12 or more. Furthermore, Van Buren is a small town; I knew the girls he hired, and he did not hire them to replace me for potato harvest as he told the Dept of Labor, but for racking which was nearly a month later. But despite that, and despite that I told them about the lack of a porta potty, as well as Wayne's failure to provide gloves to rackers, the Department of Labor upheld the previous decision denying me benefits. I even told the interviewer about year 2015 potato harvest when Wayne had yelled at me for being late from lunch after I'd driven to Madawaska to use a restroom because again no porta potty was onsite. I did not return to harvest potatoes that fall, but I did go work in the racking facility all winter as I had in 2014.

During the years I worked for Wayne, I often requested gloves, as the ones sold in stores nearby are not waterproof. The ordinary rubber gloves get holes in them within a week. The potatoes are wet, hands get cold when wet. The temperature in the potato house is probably no more than 60 degrees. Since I worked primarily with my right hand, and was always throwing out my left glove, I learned that if you take a left handed glove and turn it inside out you get a right handed glove. Wayne finally agreed to purchase nitrile gloves which I pointed out to him in a catalog he had. Yet after an order from that company came in and there were no gloves with it, he said we were almost done the season and he'd get some for next winter. Then we worked for two more months into June before we finished racking. And I recently spoke with an employee at Marquis Farms who said that Wayne has still not purchased gloves for the rackers, but another employee did order some, but they were not free, and not waterproof. 

Well, I've had about all I can take for blogging about this emotionally draining topic. There's more, like how he hired Mexican workers last winter to replace some of us...but it backfired on him. I will now have to appeal the latest decision denying me unemployment benefits to the Superior Court; and we know from the dismissal of my lawsuit against Ken and Deb Martin, that they are corrupt. Oh one more thing before I go, I discovered there is a name for what I and others are experiencing. It's called Legal Abuse Syndrome, and it's similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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