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Employer trying to charge me for quitting after repeated violations of contract

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HansonZ

Junior Member
#1
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Maine

I am curious if someone could lend me a hand. I signed an independent contractor agreenebt with my local paper to deliver in the mornings. I was told the paper would arrive no later than 3 AM every morning so I could deliver. I got paid per unit delivered and could be charged for missed deliveries, wet papers, etc (which I was fine with). The contract also forces a 30 day notice of quitting or you will be fined 500 dollars for failure to complete the contract.

My issue: The paper was consistently delivered after their self imposed deadly (I was fine with 15-20 minutes late, stuff happens I get it). But the truck was frequently later than that with zero notice (I'd stand around waiting for it without a phone call or anything). Several days a week it was 30 minutes late and maybe one day a week 45 minutes late. The truck was on time maybe 2 days a week, give or take a day. On at least 3 occasions the papers was to arrive an hour and half or close to two hours late, the first time this happened I was very upset (I have a day job, a job that I was going to be late to because of the foul up). We received no notification the truck was going to be late until we were waiting about 30 minutes each time (well past the deadline). I informed them I felt they were in breach of the contract (and here's where it gets dicey for me) that the papers didn't have to delivered at 3, there was a clause that said they would pay us 5 dollars if the truck arrived after 4. (I found this to be absurd and the way it was worded it did not seem to relieve them of their duty to be there at 3 AM). I asked then and there for a copy of the contract, the supervisor declined to print a copy of it (I asked for a copy at signing and never got it, as well). Supposedly they are sending me a hard copy of the contract tomorrow so I can go over it. Anyway, on the 3rd or 4th instance of the truck being absurdly late without any warning, I quit. A week prior to quitting I gave my 30 day notice because of the habitual tardiness of the papers.

I know it's hard to tell without a copy of the contract (I am working on it), but who's in the wrong here? I understand by quitting I do violate the contract... but from my perspective they violated the contract numerous times before I quit. And prior to this I asked for some notification if the truck was going to be so late, sleep is valuable when you work 2 jobs and get up at 2 am for deliveries. The way I see it, I cannot fulfill my end of the contract unless the paper arrives. If the paper is late, it becomes dangerous to deliver (you have to go on the oncoming side of the road and the later it gets the more traffic you get... and if the paper arrives at 4:30 AM, with the expected delivery time of 2 hours and 30 minutes. That's where the second part of safety comes in, I don't want to drive head-on into morning rush hour traffic and then rush to work.

I appreciate your time and thanks for your help!
 


Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
#2
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Maine

I am curious if someone could lend me a hand. I signed an independent contractor agreenebt with my local paper to deliver in the mornings. I was told the paper would arrive no later than 3 AM every morning so I could deliver. I got paid per unit delivered and could be charged for missed deliveries, wet papers, etc (which I was fine with). The contract also forces a 30 day notice of quitting or you will be fined 500 dollars for failure to complete the contract.

My issue: The paper was consistently delivered after their self imposed deadly (I was fine with 15-20 minutes late, stuff happens I get it). But the truck was frequently later than that with zero notice (I'd stand around waiting for it without a phone call or anything). Several days a week it was 30 minutes late and maybe one day a week 45 minutes late. The truck was on time maybe 2 days a week, give or take a day. On at least 3 occasions the papers was to arrive an hour and half or close to two hours late, the first time this happened I was very upset (I have a day job, a job that I was going to be late to because of the foul up). We received no notification the truck was going to be late until we were waiting about 30 minutes each time (well past the deadline). I informed them I felt they were in breach of the contract (and here's where it gets dicey for me) that the papers didn't have to delivered at 3, there was a clause that said they would pay us 5 dollars if the truck arrived after 4. (I found this to be absurd and the way it was worded it did not seem to relieve them of their duty to be there at 3 AM). I asked then and there for a copy of the contract, the supervisor declined to print a copy of it (I asked for a copy at signing and never got it, as well). Supposedly they are sending me a hard copy of the contract tomorrow so I can go over it. Anyway, on the 3rd or 4th instance of the truck being absurdly late without any warning, I quit. A week prior to quitting I gave my 30 day notice because of the habitual tardiness of the papers.

I know it's hard to tell without a copy of the contract (I am working on it), but who's in the wrong here? I understand by quitting I do violate the contract... but from my perspective they violated the contract numerous times before I quit. And prior to this I asked for some notification if the truck was going to be so late, sleep is valuable when you work 2 jobs and get up at 2 am for deliveries. The way I see it, I cannot fulfill my end of the contract unless the paper arrives. If the paper is late, it becomes dangerous to deliver (you have to go on the oncoming side of the road and the later it gets the more traffic you get... and if the paper arrives at 4:30 AM, with the expected delivery time of 2 hours and 30 minutes. That's where the second part of safety comes in, I don't want to drive head-on into morning rush hour traffic and then rush to work.

I appreciate your time and thanks for your help!
You gave 1 week notice instead of 4. Sounds to me like it's on you.
 

HansonZ

Junior Member
#3
I never argued this. My point was, how am I supposed to deliver the paper if it doesn't arrive by their own deadline? Do I have zero recourse if they break the contract, first?
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
#4
I never argued this. My point was, how am I supposed to deliver the paper if it doesn't arrive by their own deadline? Do I have zero recourse if they break the contract, first?
Feel free to have your contract reviewed by a local attorney (that is beyond the scope of this forum.)

Also, you were not an "employee" and they were not your "employer".
 
#6
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Maine

Anyway, on the 3rd or 4th instance of the truck being absurdly late without any warning, I quit. A week prior to quitting I gave my 30 day notice because of the habitual tardiness of the papers.
And there is your problem. Before you quit you should have put them on notice, in writing, that you believed they were in violation of the contract.
 

HansonZ

Junior Member
#7
Forgive me, independent contracts aren't my strongest area. I only had so much room in the title, hard to put it in. Sorry that disturbed you. And thanks for your advice.
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
#8
Forgive me, independent contracts aren't my strongest area. I only had so much room in the title, hard to put it in. Sorry that disturbed you. And thanks for your advice.
It didn't "disturb" me. I was simply correcting your misconception.
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
#10
They are fining me for terminating the contract prematurely. Essentially, refusing to pay me my final check.
As an independent contractor, your recourse is to sue them for what you feel is due. It's probably wise to have your contract reviewed in its entirety by a local attorney, as I mentioned above.
 

HansonZ

Junior Member
#11
And there is your problem. Before you quit you should have put them on notice, in writing, that you believed they were in violation of the contract.
Ah, I see. You're probably right on this. I think I may have to contact my lawyer and have her look at the contract if they send it to me. Thanks!
 

HansonZ

Junior Member
#12
As an independent contractor, your recourse is to sue them for what you feel is due. It's probably wise to have your contract reviewed in its entirety by a local attorney, as I mentioned above.
Yeah it's a sticky situation. I appreciate your help and I will send it over to my lawyer when I get it. Thanks!
 
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