Am I a Professional or an Hourly Employee? : LUSENET : Law Of The Workplace : One Thread

Bet you haven't heard this one. I am an associate attorney. My firm has a policy that you must bill a minimum of 150 billable hours per month, including months when you are sick or on vacation (averaged, in that case, over a 3 month period). Shortly after I started working there, a new policy was announced - If you miss the 150 hour minimum, your paycheck is cut 10%.

When announced, the new rule was to apply retroactively, beginning with the prior month, the managing partner's first (but not his most fatal) mistake. The major problem was that even if you billed the 150 hours or more, but HE decided to not bill a client for any reason under the sun that month (not necessarily related to the quality of your work), and he cut your time to below 150 hours, he'd still take the 10% out of your next paycheck, every 2 weeks, until you made up the time. But even if you billed 180 hours the next month, if he decided (for literally any reason, not necessarily tied to whether you did a good job or not but more frequently because he would kow-tow to any client to complained about a bill) to not bill a client (or clients), and thereby cut 40 hours off your 180 hours, he would, again, cut your paycheck 10%, every paycheck, until the time was made up.

Since it was next to impossible to get out of this cycle, this effectively created you (me!) into an hourly employee, and I think he owes me for all the cutbacks in my paychecks (about $2,500), plus for all the extra hours I worked (billable or not, about another $3000 or more). There was never any agreement that I (or any associate) was responsible for the financial well being of the firm, or for receivables, like a partner might be. And I have it on paper that he thought I did "A-level" work, so that is not the problem. Aside from his simply being a wimp about billing his clients, I think what he did was/is illegal. What do you think?

-- Susan Oder (, June 16, 2004

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