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milboj33
Member

Lawsuit

Hi guys

 

Recently, I have stopped working for a employer from US.

 

As we have ended our relationship in not a friendly manner (on the contrary), I was threatened that an attorney will be engaged in my country. My assumption is that this ex employer got angry after reading a feedback left where I stated that he has a tendency towards leaving racist comments (I have a proof from one of the customer support clerks that the sentences he was using could understood as racist, but I didn't file a dispute over him). 

 

Does anybody have similar experience ? On what basis can he engage a lawyer in my country ? Insult ? He threatened that he will pursue my wealth / wealth of my family. 

 

 

 

 

 

29 REPLIES 29
marciamalory
Member

My guess would be libel, but libel laws vary widely from country to country.

bronnyslav
Member

Hi, Milan.

In my opinion, mentioned lawsuit is an empty treat by client who has no means to get you.

You didnโ€™t perform any illegal actions, and I highly doubt that any court in your country will even consider taking that kind of issue. As for US courts, I assume it will be nearly same. Without solid proof that you did something illegal, the will be no process initiated against you.

If you'd made a spelling mistake; he'd try and sue. Like a lot of countries, US sue for anything! Stereotypically anyway.

tasamil
Member

 Sue you for what?

 

Quote:" One of the requirements was that employee has to change a name to sound more "western" - how racist is that ?"

 

First of all Milan, you are not an employee-you are a freelancer. It is indeed racist and I can't believe he would actually ask you to do that. Another thing, you are entitled to your opinion as much as he is entitled to his. You didn't publish your opinion in Daily Mail, you shared it in his feedback section which is intended for -surprise!-sharing your opinion and experience.

Also, Milan it should be " possess " in your overview, fix it.In  the future, also, don't work with somebody who has such a bad history.

 

Another thing, and as a note to oDesk, I don't think it should be allowed to write such a lengthy feedback - he has an essay on his profile ! It should be limited with a certain number of characters. More than that allows both freelancers and clients to engage in unproductive and vindictive  behavior.

Lastly, I checked his client's profile and his client's history and feedback that he left for other freelancers (to give you an idea- feedback  "highly recommend"  stars-two!!)  I have one question for oDesk.

Why his client's account is not under review? It seems to me that he has"majority of his work history compromised, a lot of contracts that didn't start, a low satisfaction rate ...."

lanwanman
Member

I agree with AN, it is probably an empty threat. Legal action can be very expensive.

For example, to remedy a "reputation management" issue where one site owner's website is used to make negative remarks (not slander e.g., calling someone a racist; just negative comments) about another person or business, it could easily take about $4,000 USD in legal fees to resolve the issue. When these actions involve disputes between parties of different countries, legal fees soar. So in either case one has to determine how much the offensive party is worth to ensure a law suit might justify the risk of expense--and whether or not the courts will entertain the case at all.

It sounds like the claims made could be considered as slander or defamation of character (racist?)--at least here in the US. It is best to avoid making derogatory remarks of that nature unless absolute, irrefutable evidence is in place.

Now, regarding the apparently disgruntled client, making threats can get one into trouble as well. Agreed, a lot of people in the US use the "big stick" approach.

Remember, once on the Internet, always on the Internet. Be careful what you write and how you write it....

Edited 01/09/2015 RT/lwm

Ron aka LanWanMan
prestonhunter
Member

Let me make it clear that I am not addressing Milan's situation. Having said that, let me point out a few things:

 

98% percent of the time, a person who threatens to sue is doing something wrong, something immoral. It is wrong to threaten people with the force of a government's full power just to get your way. If you have a disagreement with somebody, work it out. 98% of the time, threatening to sue somebody is ultimately little different than threatening to physically go to their home and steal their property. The only difference is that filing a lawsuit is legal and taking things from a person's home without their permission is illegal.

 

97% of the time, a person who sues somebody else is committing an immoral act. See reasons above. If I do business with a person or company, and they do not provide service that I am satisfied with, the most appropriate response is to stop doing business with them and do business with somebody else.

 

99% of the time, a person who calls somebody else "racist" is committing an immoral act or is simply doing something stupid. A person who calls somebody else a "racist" knows that the word is potentially injurious and is trying to gain power over somebody else using a crude tool. The word "racist" has been used so much that its utility in public discourse has now been lost.

 

Here are example of what I mean:

 

You missed a shot in basketball? That ball is RACIST! Your hamburger was too salty? That's RACIST! Your neighbor called the police because your dog barked all night and woke his baby? He's RACIST!

 

When I work with young people in middle schools as a volunteer or encounter them through my wife's job as a middle school teacher, this is really how the word is used. If this comes as a shock to you, count yourself lucky that you aren't exposed to this type of language. But this is little different from how so-called "adults" use the word on many public discussion forums and even in the media.

 

If the "R-word" is both (a) now meaningless; and (b) very likely injurious, then in most cases it is either stupid or immoral (or both) to use the word.

 

If somebody does something wrong, you can describe what they did wrong. There may even be an appropriate word to describe that person. But in most cases, it is NOT the "R-word."

 

Successful, moral people who are sensitive to the feelings of other people, who provide benefit and value to others and are appropriately compensated for doing so do not run around using the "N-word" or the "F-word" or the "C-word" or the "R-word."

 

You should use the word "racist" about as frequently as you use the Microsoft DOS operating system. A word that once meant something, no longer means anything in most cases, and honest people of good character do not run around using the word.

 

Are there instances in which a person legitimately files a lawsuit or legitimately calls somebody a racist? Yes. About 1 to 2 percent of the time.

 

Nobody is going to want to use oDesk and pay contractors a bunch of money for doing things from their home if they think that oDesk contractors and clients are a bunch of people who run around threatening lawsuits or calling each other "racist."

Quote Preston. H.: "...99% of the time, a person who calls somebody else "racist" is committing an immoral act."

 

I don't know how calling  things by their proper names can be construed as committing an immoral act.

 

Furthermore, I don't know how else you would call client's request to change personal name that one had all his life because it doesn't sound Western. If you have some other definition, please feel free to share it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

lanwanman
Member

Using the "r-word" as an example, can people agree that a lot has to do with the context in which a word is used must be taken into account; that the situation surrounding the instance is important; that due to differences involving education, culture, and other conditions impact how things are really meant--and taken? There are just some words one should avoid so as not to increase the chance of misinterpretation or over interpretation.

I'm obviously not a linguist...lol....

I can understand the possible motive for the client request for something more "Western." It might have had something to do with reputation management, branding, marketing, etc.; Or just an insensitive remark.

I am starting to see the words "racist" and "racism" used more frequently here in the oDesk Community Forum. I hope that forum moderators start censoring the words if not truly pertaining to those topics. Actually, any issues of that nature should be confined to the oDesk support area. Of course, these are only my opinions on the subject of those "r-words."

Regarding the client and freelancer in question...well, I'll refrain from further commentary.

Edited 01/09/2015 RT/lwm

Ron aka LanWanMan

Okay, I'm guilty of using that R word too in one of my encounters with a bad client. I'm not sure how calling someone who told me that I can't possibly have a certain skill because of how I look (asian phenotype) can't be called the R word. I'm very direct and I don't like mincing words plus some people do need to be called out on their actions (yep, that includes me) so if someone exhibits a certain behaviour and gets called out for it, why would that be grounds for a lawsuit?

 

In my understanding, libel is only libel and slander is only slander if what was written or said caused someone's reputation to suffer publicly, There is no libel or slander if someone has an already unsalvageable reputation (example is Hitler).

 

Being a realist is another thing. Should I worry about calling someone blond because that's racist? 

 

This goes for both clients and freelancers. I remember one client bristled up when I mentioned his not being 'available' on the feedback section and described his communication as erratic. What am I supposed to say? LIE? He got that feedback erased by contacting support and disputing my feedback.

 

Being politically correct has it's place but some people are ultra-touchy.These days, I can't even send out christmas giveaways to everyone without all the non-christian people making a big deal out of it (happened at our company party). Some people need to lighten up and see the intent rather than what's printed in the card.



โ„โ„โ„ Just A Forum Contributor --- This isn't against forum guidelines โ„โ„โ„

Quote Ronald.T.: "I can understand the possible motive for the client request for something more "Western." It might have had something to do with reputation management, branding, marketing, etc..."

 

I don't dispute that-but then he should just hire someone who has more "Western" name-the problem solved! Also , judging by his last name (written in feedback), one could tell that the client himself doesn't have westernized last name, but interestingly and strangely enough, very Slavic last name which brings us to the whole other area of discussion about internalized complex where one wants to be a greater Catholic than the Pope himself. Why then he  doesn't change his last name?

 

However, I agree that feedback you leave for others also speaks volumes about your professionalism-even if the client is dishonest, unprofessional, etc. It is always better to maintain a professional  tone but ,at the same time, find a way to voice your displeasure and describe truthfully , without using any strong adjectives, how incompetent, challenging and unproductive that particular collaboration was. Often, more effective is just simple "this was the worst professional experience in my career and I would never work for this client again.I do not recommend him." 

I personally don't think asking someone to change their name constitutes racism. I don't know exactly what his responsibilities were, all I could gather was he was a VA.

 

I know a lot of companies advertise their customer service reps being national when in fact they aren't - so they'll ask them to change their name. Also, companies ask for people to change their name when the pronunciation is difficult.

 

A name is a name. If Milan was from the US, and they still asked him to change his name - would the client still be accused of racism? Probably not. Although a name can sometimes have cultural ties and connections - it isn't always necessarily to do with race. My name's spelt the Irish way and I have no family from Ireland; my parents just preferred the spelling. If someone asked me to change my name because it didn't sound like a name from the East; I might be a little annoyed, but I wouldn't think them racist.

 

The fact is, if the client was a racist - why on earth would he have hired Milan in the first place? It doesn't make sense (except for the potentially lower rates).

 

Anyway, that's my opinion.

 

Edit: Although I don't know what exactly went wrong with the freelancer and the client, I can see the client never leaving good feedback. I'm not taking any sides and my opinions are "my opinions", uninfluenced.

 

I do want to know though, in your feedback to the client, you said "one of his requirements was...blah blah...name change" - why did you accept if this was going be such a problem. I personally think you said what you said out of anger since things obviously didn't turn out great between you both. If it was such a bad experience, why did it take 4 months of work to finally end the contract?

 

Again, this is just opinion based on my non-existent PI skills.

 

 

 

Just to add to what Natasa said...

 

In some cultures, a person's name is the core of his/her identity, just like their skin colour or religion. In such cultures, asking someone to change his/her name is like asking him/her to lie about his/her religion or skin colour. It is something taken so seriously that asking someone to change their name, even if it's only for a job or for a while is an insult, not just to the person but to the person's entire family (and ALL the ancestors) and upbringing.

 

More so, the world doesn't revolve around the west, or rather, US. 

 

Source: traveling my whole life everywhere



โ„โ„โ„ Just A Forum Contributor --- This isn't against forum guidelines โ„โ„โ„

Haha, you're right Natasha, I did answer my own question.

 

But, despite the lower rates - I still don't think asking for a name change is racist. I personally don't care who's helping me or dealing with an enquiry, I just care that they get the job done. 

 

I'm speaking from my own experience here. When I was studying, I worked part-time for a big company who specialised in broadband, phone and TV services. We were available via phone, email and live-chat.

 

Now, what happened is the company outsourced their work to India. Customers would ring and not understand their accents and a lot of the times, they weren't trained properly. This is no fault of their own.

 

The UK customers lost faith in the company's service and also lost faith in the international help services (such as live-chat, phone and email support).

 

Again, I don't blame the workers in the different countries, but the customers were annoyed, frustrated only to have their frustrations heard by someone whom they couldn't understand. This could quite possible be a reason they ask for name changes (especially on live-chat).

 

But in England, one of the company's biggest selling techniques is "English-based support". Companies are selling their products by offering customer service based in England.

 

I might have gone off subject a little there. In England and I'm sure people from England will agree, people were always sick and tired of "Indian call-centres". If a customer was to offer "England based customer service" - they may offer it in telecommunications but not necessarily internet communication therefore asking people to change their name. Whether that's true or not, I don't know - but it certainly wouldn't surprise me!

kugrin
Member

I don't find the name change request as much racist as I find it shady (although I can fully understand if someone took offense to a request like that.) I don't want to deal with a company who has a bunch of fake names working for them. Like when I call a company and the call center is clearly in India yet they all have American names. I am not stupid, and nothing wrong with them just having their Indian names.

 

Lyam raised a lot of other good points though. Why even begin working for a company like that?

I can't really tell for sure (just OP can answer that) but probably that issue didn't come up in the first few months but somewhere in the middle of their work together. It seems to me that they were just fine until Thanksgiving (what irony!) OP also has a very problematic work history, I agree, but I decided not to comment on that  because basically his thread was about lawsuit and  his liability for the comment about racism. If changing the name was requirement that came up early on, OP of course doesn't have the right to complain about it-I mean, if he knew it all along and willingly accepted to be treated that way.However, I don't think that's the case. Now officially, and really- I am off this topic.

I don't even see anything wrong with the name Milan. I mean, it sounds a bit exotic (hello it's the name of a place in Italy) but then lots of people have names like Paris and Americans are okay with it.

 

Isn't the U.S. an immigrant country and people there are from all over the globe? Why should their names be anglo-based?

 

Really, unless someone's name is Rumpelstiltskin, I see no reason for people to change names except maybe to shorten it. 

 

Btw, I wonder if Rumpelstiltskin ever had a nickname...Rump? Rumpy? Skin? George????

 

 

 



โ„โ„โ„ Just A Forum Contributor --- This isn't against forum guidelines โ„โ„โ„

I suppose some companies prefer anglo based names so they look as if they invest in local support when in fact they outsourced it. I think some also want to cater to their often times intellectually limited customer base who find it too difficult to deal with foreign names. Awesome companies embrace and show off their diversity, not try to mask it up by using standardized names.

 

To be honest, looking at the feedback conversation between the OP and the client, I would not work with either of them.  After the first exchange, one of them should have been the bigger person and said something short, simple and inoffensive like, "It's clear that the two of us do not see eye to eye. I would not work with them again and unfortunately cannot recommend them." (I just thought of that off the top of my head. I'm sure someone who put more thought into it could word it better.)

 

The escalating bickering and name calling seems very unprofessional. You know, when I look at client and contractor profiles, I don't just look at the feedback they received, I look at the feedback they give other people. This is an indication on how they interact with others. (There's a saying that when you go out on a first date, don't judge your date by how they treat you, judge them by how they treat the waiter.)

 

 

 

KU, spot on! I see it all the time when work involves reputation management, Internet marketing, search engine optimization, and other forms of marketing: "as if they invest in local support when in fact they outsourced it...."

Ron aka LanWanMan
kugrin
Member

"Again, I don't blame the workers in the different countries, but the customers were annoyed, frustrated only to have their frustrations heard by someone whom they couldn't understand. This could quite possible be a reason they ask for name changes (especially on live-chat)."

 

Not sure how a name change improves ones English/accent but I know this is common practice sadly.

 

"But in England, one of the company's biggest selling techniques is "English-based support". Companies are selling their products by offering customer service based in England."

 

A name change doesn't make them local. It's just shady and speaks volumes about the company.

Can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.  UK customer knows they are getting put through to Chennai, before they even speak to the person, they have it in their mind that they aren't going to understand the rep and the rep isn't going understand them. They start off argumentative and defensive, assuming the rep is misinterpreting them.

 

I used to be a customer research analyst for a large UK insurance company, and there was one incident where after a flood, a customer reported all her carpets were ruined, and the rep in India said "Can't you just hang them outside to dry?" (The UK customer was clearly referring to wall to wall carpeting throughout the whole ground floor of her house.) That was just proof that the rep hadn't been trained properly.  However, incidents like that can make customers insist on local customer service.

 

That is a perfect example. Now, was it really proof that the rep hadn't been trained properly, or due to cultural or lifestyle differences, the rep visualized smaller area rugs that might be commonly used where he/she lives? Rugs that could be easily hung out to dry....

Carpets versus rugs? Two English words that non-native English speaking persons might not distinguish as being somewhat different.

Edited 01/09/2015 RT/lwm

 

 

Ron aka LanWanMan

Krisztina, I was referring to online communications. 

 

Again, I don't blame the workers in the different countries, but the customers were annoyed, frustrated only to have their frustrations heard by someone whom they couldn't understand. This could quite possible be a reason they ask for name changes (especially on live-chat).

 

I was referring to "online communications". No, a name change doesn't change an accent or their heritage, but who has an accent via email or line-chat? Most companies will use scripts too, making it difficult to really determine where the support agent is located.

lanwanman
Member

What about the "H" word? In a recent US (where else) TV news broadcast, reports are that an ex-employee via the Internet accused her now ex-boss of several things including being like "H***** "

The ex-boss is suing the ex-employee for defamation predicated in part over the reference to "H*****," the well known, rightfully despised, now deceased WW II leader.

The "H" word? Why not spell it out? I saw it spelled out somewhere in another post, yet I don't see it any longer. Maybe it was deleted?

No opinions...just an observation....


Edited 01/09/2015 RT/lwm

Ron aka LanWanMan

What really worries me are not the words themselves but the world in which we are too timid to spell them out at the moment when they should be spelled out. Or :"Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it." But, I have to add, I am also concerned about the world in which we use them too easily.

 

As far as this defamation case, he has a legal basis if his ex- employee published it somewhere, made an active campaign to damage the brand/company, etc.However, for example, he doesn't have a basis for legal action if his ex -employee just told him in the fit of anger that he is like Hitler ( I don't  have a problem with spelling that out), or he told his coworkers that their boss is -whatever pejorative word you want to use here-because he (an employee) is entitled to his opinion whether it is based in reality or not. I mean, his employer can sue him nonetheless, but there are slim chances of actually winning the case.However, the situation drastically changes if this employee used a racial slur related to the ethnicity/race  of his employer- he (employer) could sue him and win the case. Again, it depends on the state in the U.S  where this is happening and their laws vary greatly.

 

For this OP again-he cannot be sued for his remark in the feedback section. Was he right or wrong in thinking that the request to change his name is racist? I guess it depends on the point view. Did he (freelancer) do himself a favor by writing that and was that remark sensitive and professional? Definitely not, but again, he is entitled to his opinion. Also, I think my point got lost  -the feedback should be limited with the number of characters , because even if this freelancer wrote something similar to Marcia's recommendation (which was great) that response would not have any effect in comparison with an essay that the client left on his profile.

The primary reason for not spelling things out was to avoid inadvetantly violating any forum rules, especially, interpretation of those rules.

 

All I said was that a lawsuit was filed and pending initial review by the civil court where the parties reside. I doubt the case will even make it to court.

 

No worries...less than 18 months to go for me, hurray!

 

Ron aka LanWanMan

Lol Ron-it was not aimed at you;  it was a general statement about the world that we live in. I am sorry though if it sounded like it was.About this particular case in the U.S.-well, I wouldn't be so sure-depending where on the Internet it was published, in what context etc.But I mean, in general, no.There was recently one case where the best-known review website was sued by a company for bad reviews posted  by different customers and the case made it to the court, so it really depends.For example, if the plaintiff proves that he was systematically harassed by name-calling and that it created a hostile work environment s/he might have a solid case (mobbing.)It really depends and it is too long to  explain here.

marciamalory
Member

Yes, it has to do with training. If your job involves dealing with home insurance in the UK, you should know what a UK home looks like and understand the associated vocabulary.