My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: MN
I was recently fired for disputing the work hours I am being credited with for overtime purposes. The reason given on my warning/termination notice was "Refusing to document and turn in his hours"
Unemployment benefits were disputed by my employer initially but after a month of forms and correspondence with MN Unemployment office (DEED), I was approved for benefits. The reason why I was not denied benefits was generally "..not fired for misconduct" and "..was only disputing his hours, not refusing to document them or turn them in"
In addition to the above, for the 2 years prior to this I have been continuously shorted hours, shorted piece work pay, paid reduced piece work rates, and not properly compensated with per diem payments, etc.. I have made repeated claims to my employer in verbal form, by email and via letter with no resolution.
After my termination I requested in writing a copy of my personnel record and did eventually receive a partial copy which was also late according to MN statute. The copy of my personnel record contained absolutly no documentation of payroll calculation which should have included piece work rates and changes, hours worked, rate of pay, deductions, etc.. My paycheck stubs also do not have this information. They only have a total gross pay times a rate of 1 and then the withholding. Per diem payments were also only deducted form gross pay and then added back to the final net. In essence, not increasing my pay for my per diem claimed, but only making the amount non-taxable on my check. Per diem was is excess of $9,000. The rate shortages and overtime is conservatively in the area of $8000 - $10000 over the 2 year period.
There is another issue of initially being misclassified as an independent contractor for the first 4 months of my employment. I was then converted to an employee with a signed at-will employment contract. This contract also has a reference to a rate sheet in regards to compensation that is not included with the signed contract.
My questions finally:
1- Because I am denied access to my full personnel record in order to accurately calculate the backwages due me, do I have a claim for back wages if I can't calculate a specific compensation total? The only total I can accurately document is the per diem payments.
2- Do I have to file in civil court for access to my full personnel record (if it exists) before continuing with a suit for back wages?
3- Do I have any kind of claim for wrongful termination?
In essence I was fired for requesting back pay and stating I would pursue other remedies if necessary. The unemployment office might have partially confirmed this in their approval statement.
Thanks in advance for any answers or opions offered.
(You're probably wondering, why would you stay working for this company? Believe me, I have asked myself that question many times and have been looking for a different job for quite awhile. If not for the financial hardship, being fired might actually be something of a blessing, forcing me to move on. I know my stress level is reduced dramatically)