Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sunrise Vista Inn - The End

I wrote several weeks ago about taking the owner of the Sunrise Vista Inn to court for breach of contract. What a fiasco. I was unable to take him to small claims court because the contract we signed was an employment contract and in Montana an employee can be let go for any or no reason whatsoever within the first six months of employment. Considering that my employment was only scheduled for five months, it seemed that I was without recourse.

I refused to give up, however, knowing that I had been used, taken advantage of and discarded in a way that I couldn't let pass. I figured out that the owner hired out the job that way in order to avoid paying payroll taxes and workers compensation premiums and I contacted the Montana and U.S. Departments of Labor, thinking they would have some interest in his "shrewd" business tactics. At the very least I hoped to keep the same thing from happening to someone else.

The U. S. Department of Labor convinced him to cough up some money for me, although it was only about a third of what I figured I was rightly owed. At least it was something and hopefully it got the point across that someone is paying attention and is not afraid to pursue compensation. I doubt the owner will suffer any consequences beyond cutting me that final check, but I learned something about myself which is also helping me in my struggle with alcoholism. I learned that I can stand up for myself, I can take action where I see wrong, and I can make a difference, at least in my life. A powerless person wouldn't have done that. Pursuing that action, despite much advice to let it go and move on, allowed me to find a strength I didn't know I had. By all outward appearances, he was the fine upstanding citizen and I was pretty much nothing. Outward appearances can be very deceiving. They can also be very empowering. What the owner failed to realize is that I really had nothing to lose at that point. All the things that were so important to him - his reputation in the community, his social contacts and big house, his need to be seen as the BIG MAN helping out the little guy, none of those things matter a whit to me.


kikipotamus said...

This is inspiring to me. I used to be quite the s-disturber, but did not temper it or pick my battles. I saw that I was not doing myself any favours in jobs and relationships, but now I have swung too far in the other direction. I hope to find that strong voice I need when the situation calls for it. I have to get over needing to be liked all the time!

Sherri said...

Now you know how he got all that money, by cheating people. Jerk.

I am so glad you got some compensation, and even gladder that you feel stronger for the experience.

Jules said...

Good for you, Angeal! That is awesome news. While it may not be everything you are owed you must feel good you pursued it.

Angela said...


Yeah, that people-pleasing thing can be a real obstacle. Glad I could provide a litte inspiration - especially since you inspire me so much.

Angela said...

Thank you, Sherri. Yep, he got all that money by cheating people and he's just a tiny fish in that particular pond. Thanks for staying in touch!!

Angela said...


Thank you!

thailandchani said...

It's such a good thing that you stood up to him. It's not the money or the direct return.. but the dignity in going after what's right and fair.