Legal Question in Employment Law in Florida

In mid July 2010, Pierre Gagne [a Canadian citizen] purchased the Hotel [DEAUVILLE] at 2916 N. Ocean Blvd.; Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308. I had worked for the prior owner for a number of years at this as well as another property in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I had been employed by Benjamin Olive for approximately 3 years at the hotel [DEAUVILLE] prior to the transfer of ownership [sale] so-to-speak. After Pierre Gagne became owner of the hotel [DEAUVILLE]; it was clear that Pierre Gagne needed management of/ for his new business [hotel DEAUVILLE]. Regardless of whether Pierre Gagne was going to try to retain me so-to-speak or solicit new management; both Pierre Gagne and I spoke in great length in regards to not only the property but the hospitality industry. After this lengthy meeting; we negotiated in regards to me becoming the Property/ General Manager of his new hotel [DEAUVILLE]. For the reason that I did not come with the sale of the hotel [new employee hire!]; both Pierre Gagne and myself agreed to/ on the following…

• Property/ General Manager; Manager of his property/ hotel [DEAUVILLE]

- I would be an employee to Pierre Gagne; not ‘self employed’

or a contractor/ sub-contractor!

- any/ all cleaning [’Housekeeping’] as well as Maintenance

would be contracted out!

- other than his ownership; I would have “all say” in regards

to management and respective decisions!

• $2000.00 per month; after taxes [$24,000.00 per year after taxes].

• ‘Room and board’/ apartment on property; valued at $1000.00 per month

[$12,000.00 per year].

I was paid by business [Hotel DEAUVILLE] checks with the anticipation of respective tax documentation. Now, it is not only usual practice but the law to have as well as submit proper documentation on any/ all employees that are indeed employed at a respective U.S. business.; I not only received proper documentation but W-2’s as well from the previous owner? As months passed (July – December 2010); I regularly inquired about such documentation. As Pierre Gagne’s ownership began it’s first full year; it was expressed to me on a regular basis not only by Pierre Gagne himself but his assistants up in Quebec that Pierre would indeed “have this taken care of”. As the year passed [2011]; I continued to not only express this situation but made attempts to contact the IRS directly. ”I’ll take care of it” as said by Pierre Gagne and “he’ll take care of it” as said by some of his assistants. 2012 came and I became extremely worried but was always at least assured by Pierre Gagne himself that “I will take care of it”? Well I later found out [later end of 2012] that Pierre Gagne did not take “care of it”.

Pierre Gagne passed away back in March/ April of 2012. His brother Andre Gagne assumed ownership and later became owner of the hotel [DEAUVILLE]. Andre and his family came down to the hotel [DEAUVILLE] in August 2012 for multiple reasons; hotel [DEAUVILLE] business being one of them. Andre Gagne made a wire transfer of $7,000.00 for the time period [months] of June, July, August and ˝ of September into my personal bank account; I did not think anything was wrong and/ or deceptive due to any involvement that Andre Gagne had with the previous owner [his brother]. After a few days of being on the property as well as looking through respective business documents; Andre Gagne told me “we can’t afford you anymore”. Andre Gagne requested that I not only stay on but manage the hotel [DEAUVILLE] until he returned in October 2012; which I inclined to do. No matter how it may be perceived by any party; I was terminated and did not “quit”. October 25, 2012 was my last day of employment at the hotel [DEAUVILLE]; it was then that I received another wire transfer in the amount of $3,000.00 for ˝ of September and October of 2012.

Without having any idea of neglect and etc. from ownership in regards to respective taxes; I uncovered so many things as far as my employment was concerned at the hotel [DEAUVILLE] shortly after this respective employment. Within a week or so of being unemployed; I received “denied” documents from the State of Florida in regards to unemployment benefits. “No wages reported” as stated on one document. It was clear that no paperwork/ documents were ever submitted to respective agencies [State and Federal] in regards to my employment. After months [3 ˝ to be exact]; I eventually received benefits. After a hearing and etc… per the State of Florida [Department of Labor]; an “employee/ employer relationship” was indeed evident. I would receive full benefits determined by the State of Florida Department of Labor. Past payments were indeed issued; dating back [‘retroactive’] to October 2012.

Now, one may assume if not at least inquire on why either myself let this go on for the length of time that it has or the situation itself has gone on for the time it has… the first 6 months [July – December 2010] of Pierre Gagne’s ownership was that of an erratic nature in regards to the business structure from an ownership’s perspective! As stated many times; Pierre Gagne himself as well as other respective people (i.e.; assistants up in Quebec) stated as well as assured me that in my case as an employee “those American laws” would be addressed. For the years 2011 and much of the year 2012; all of the previous statements were continually addressed as well as stated to me. After hearing of Pierre Gagne’s passing and then Andre Gagne’s [his brother] ownership; I was not only under the assumption [U.S. Law] that all this would be addressed but very confident that the obvious neglect by Pierre Gagne (whether knowingly or unknowingly) would be noticed and then the right [legal] thing would be done! I never imagined; therefore assumed, that my [employment] status would have ever been in question!

Unfortunately, my time at the Hotel [DEAUVILLE] has as well continues to be in question regarding employment… [1]employment status and etc., [2]no proof of employment, [3]unpaid hours and [4]overtime & etc. The process is “on going” so-to-speak. This respective case in regards to the State of Florida [Department of Labor] has been heard as well as verified/ “affirmed”. As previously stated; an “employee/ employer relationship” was indeed evident and any/ all appeals from the hotel and its counsel have been “denied”. Last statement from the State of Florida… “our decision is affirmed”! My previous employment at the Hotel DEAUVILLE in regards to its scope has come into question. Yes, I was the Property/ General Manager at the Hotel DEAUVILLE under the ownership of Pierre Gagne. I never agreed, served as or acted as either a ‘self employed’ individual and/ or contractor/ sub contractor at the Hotel DEAUVILLE under the ownership of Pierre Gagne! The scope of my employment at the Hotel DEAUVILLE was simply as the Property/ General Manager of the Hotel DEAUVILLE under the ownership of Pierre Gagne, period!

In regards to time delays so-to-speak regarding bringing this to the so-called attention of the IRS; unfortunately I have been given inaccurate telephone numbers as well as mailing addresses. I recently, back in March 2013; sent this entire packet of information to an IRS office in Austin, TX. Unfortunately I have been recently advised that this Austin, TX address was indeed not the appropriate forum so-to-speak. I do believe that this now is not only addressed properly but addressed to the appropriate department as well. It is now May, 2013; I did file taxes an etc. for both the years 2010 and 2011. I never received any information and/ or inquiries from the IRS itself! For the year 2010; I was employed equally [6 months per] by both Benjamin Olive as well as Pierre Gagne. Total employment under Pierre Gagne at the Hotel DEAUVILLE was just under 2 ˝ years [mid July 2010 – October 25, 2012]. I have not only filed my taxes for the year 2012 but I am also exposing the situation to you for respective reasons [legal].

How has all of this affected me; well for starters this is the “watered down” version so- to-speak. As stated in our initial telephone conversation; simply losing my job wasn’t a big deal. Losing my place of residency has caused many relative problems. Let me explain… people get hired as well as fired all the time; how often do they lose both at the exact same time though? I have learned that the psychological structure that a place of residency has on someone’s life is invaluable. One looks for employment everyday and then goes home to get up the next morning to repeat this process again. Shuffling from couch to couch, hotel to hotel and being homeless at times has an extreme negative effect on the employment process. Knowing where your head is laying so-to-speak at night has direct affects on everything in one’s life.

How do people do it? How do people survive in situations like this; God forbid if their a family? I went through all my savings due to not being able to collect unemployment benefits in which I legally worked for. Without having any income or even money coming in; all necessities like housing, food & etc. had to be paid for. Prioritizing all of this has been and continues to be a never ending battle so-to-speak. Having nearly $1300.00 in monthly costs [i.e.; living expenses & bills] but only receiving $1100.00 in income [unemployment benefits] per month creates a constant problem. When having to physically relocate however (whether it be nightly, weekly or monthly); how can someone really find gainful employment when this is indeed the situation… they really can’t!

Lost wages, overtime and etc. are indeed an issue. Even though these issues are relative; they are second to the housing issues(s). Not only not having that previous income; not having that previous housing as well is financially a burden and somewhat catastrophic. Contractually speaking, a loss of this magnitude is all but immeasurable.

One would ask, “what do you want out of all of this”? What do I want; I want to recover any/ all damages due to undocumented wages & etc. but also the housing situation to be cleared up! I want to be able to come home at night and then wake up in the morning knowing that my search for employment and employment in general not be affected either directly or indirectly!

I really hope that you can help me with all this. Up until now, I have had a lot of misguided as well as selfish assistance. Is this a clear cut case so-to-speak; yes, but I need closure as well as clarity in all of this for physical, psychological & spiritual reasons!


Jeffrey Ray Chase

Asked on 6/05/13, 12:27 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Jane-Robin Wender Wender Law, P.A.

This question is far too extensive for this website. You should have a consultation with an attorney as this would take hours to provide you with correct advice.

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Answered on 6/07/13, 9:01 pm

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