tl;dr: Boss fired me and my friend (both ABC’s) because he claims we were trying to get rid of another employee. Want to know what my legal rights are in Taiwan.
Warning: Rant upcoming.
A friend/colleague of mine were both dismissed four days before the end of our contracts.
This woman has been accusing me of sabotaging her for the better part of this year. Most recently, she accused me of trying to get her replaced by having her leave the company. She claimed I told her that other companies in our field (not English teaching, for the record) were hiring and that I said she should apply for those. She claimed on multiple occasions that I badmouthed our company, and that I tried to undermine her work. Aside from the odd complaint about having to work overtime without pay, I certainly have never “badmouthed” them in general. Also, for the issue of me encouraging her to apply to other companies, it was in direct response to her asking if there were any openings elsewhere. My reply was “If you’re looking you should maybe check 104”.
A friend of mine, let’s call him John, happened to be present at one of the incidents when I allegedly said that this woman, who I’ll call Alice, should apply elsewhere. He was called in by our managers and HR director. John basically said that he never heard me tell Alice to apply elsewhere. John also mentioned in passing that Alice had asked him on several occasions whether or not there were other openings in the field, and that this inquiry was done with other people present.
The next day, we were both called in by HR simultaneously. My manager (Taiwanese, but with a degree from the States) basically told us that after talking to Alice again, that he had reason to believe that me and John had colluded with each other in an attempt to get rid of Alice. He claimed that he had no reason to doubt Alice, as she’s been “very loyal to the company”, and that the rationale that me and John are lying is that we are both ABC’s. He claimed that Alice was “very offended” by what we’d done, that we were lowering morale by causing conflicts and causing people to lose faith in management. He even claimed that the company would be pressing charges for defamation of one of their employees.
Anyhow, I have a few questions regarding this:
My contract says that I’m entitled to two week’s notice, except in certain cases such as outlined in the Labor Standards Act. They claim that we’re being let go because we defamed one of their employees. I think we’re being let go because the boss unfairly took sides, and because they don’t want to pay our bonuses.
How likely is it that they can actually press charges?
Can they sue us on some other technicality?
For the record, neither of us are Taiwanese citizens.
Tell the boss if he sues both of you you are going to sue him and Alice or whatever her name is.
Maybe threaten that both of you can sue with separate lawsuits. This will create a lot of hassle which is the idea of most lawsuits in Taiwan .
Just say you don’t want this to happen but you will do this to defend yourselves .
Did you already consult to MOL? If you are in Taipei, you can call here in English.
Taipei City Foreign Workers Consultation Service Center
5F., No.21, Sec. 1, Dihua St., Datong District, Taipei City
"Foreign Workers Consultation Service Center
The MOL provides foreign workers in Taiwan with living, work and legal consultation and complaint channels to suitably provide guidance, and assists with the settlement of labor disputes. At present, there are 22 “Foreign Workers Consultation Service Centers” around the country, which have bilingual (English, Thai, Indonesian, and Vietnamese) consultation personnel to provide complaint and consultation services for foreign workers. Foreign workers who wish to file a complaint or require consultation may visit the local “Foreign Workers Consultation Service Center,” or contact the bilingual consultation personnel by phone or correspondence."
In addition to that: What often happens in Taiwan is employees leaving and joining in groups, which can be very difficult for the employer. So when your boss suspects that you are trying to coordinate such an action, the easiest way out for him is to get rid of you and sabotage the mutiny before it begins. This means taking sides etc. He probably counts on you not taking legal action.
Based on your summary of events, I would say the company has no case against you. (Witnesses can be bribed/blackmailed, but when incompetent people try it, it’s usually transparent. ) Even if you did “badmouth” the company or an individual, it needs to be serious if it’s going to trump freedom of speech.
I would also say you have a case against them. As far as labor law goes, suing the company is much easier than suing an individual. Talk to the labor department. They can arrange mediation, which you need to go through anyway before you can sue the company.
My suggestion: tell the labor dept. and the lawyer(s) you consult that you want to do an Art. 14 (of the Labor Standards Act) termination using a legal deposit letter. (If the company fired you without a valid reason, technically you’re still employed, but you can quit with a severance pay entitlement.)
As always, nothing posted here is legal advice.
Edit: oh, four days before the end of the contract. If those four days have passed, the contract is finished anyway. But you can still spook them with a legal deposit letter demanding the rest of your salary and bonus.
So now they’re changing the story and refusing to give me a Contract End Agreement. They said to they are having their lawyer put terms and conditions on us leaving. Basically they said they found damaged property like a broken (landline) phone handset, broken keyboard, and scuff marks/scratches on furniture/floor, in my work area. I plan on saying that I will take up the matter with a lawyer, and that’s the official reason I was let go.
Well their exact words were to accuse me of “gross negligence with malicious intent” towards property and “verbally attacking other employees”. I never broke anything nor did I attack anyone, and there aren’t damages other than wear and tear.
At first I was just going to take the hit and forget about the bonus, but since they are actively trying to screw me over, I am going to protect myself.
Did you ever slam the phone down? Even if you did, it would have to be a real cheap phone to break so easily.
Was the keyboard brand new when they gave it to you to be used? If not, keyboards have a limited lifespan. I have a keyboard that can’t register certain letters because they’ve been used too much. Keys usually have a limited number of clicks.
Would reasonable wear and tear be an acceptable reason to get rid of someone?