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Advice Needed

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Aaron CadieuxAdvice Needed
by on Jan 20, 2010 at 5:02:40 am

Hello Everyone,

Please forgive me in advance for the long story. I have a tricky situation at hand for which I need some advice. I work as the video editor for an ad agency. It's a small operation, just my boss, his wife, and I.

At the end of October, we produced a political video for a new political party (of which I am not a member) forming in the state in which I work (not live). I edited the video. In November, my bosses went away on a 2-week vacation. I ran the office while they were away.

While my bosses were gone, I got a phone call from a reporter. He proceeded to ask me some questions about the video that we produced. Looking back on it, I shouldn't have answered his questions, but unfortunately, I did. He asked me the following 4 questions.

Him - Who wrote the piece?
Me - I don't have enough information to answer that

Him - Who did the voiceover for the piece?
Me - My boss, Mr. X

Him - What did you do for the video?
Me - I shot much of it, and edited all of it

Him - Were you paid for your work?
Me - I am a salaried employee, and the video was part of my regular workload

That was it for questions. I answered only the ones I knew the answers to, and I answered 100% truthfully. Within an hour, a blog entry was made (by this "reporter") on a local political web site claiming the video (which my bosses gave as an in-kind donation to this new political party) was in violation of state law.

To make a long story short, this new party is in hot water regarding this video now. Apparently, my bosses (who are members of this new party) cannot use a salaried employee to work on a political contribution since the contribution is an in-kind donation. As it turns out, legally, I should have been paid extra on top of my salary for working on this video. The only other legal option would have been if I had agreed to work on it for free as well (which I would never have agreed to since I don’t live in the state in which the party operates). As it stands right now, my bosses would be guilty of coercion.

Now the new party is under investigation. My bosses are trying to think of ways to get around their illegal donation. They cannot say that I worked on the video “in kind”, because I have already been quoted otherwise. As a result, they have asked me to lie if questioning occurs. They want me to say that I was paid an additional $500.00 on top of my salary to work on the video. I will not actually be paid that money; I am just supposed to say that I got it.

Like I said, I never should have answered the reporter’s questions. However, I answered truthfully, and now I’m being asked to lie to cover my bosses’ and the political party’s behinds. This situation raises a number of questions for me.

If questioned, should I lie? Is lying going to get me in trouble for the illegal activity of my bosses and their political party?

Should I ask to be paid the extra compensation I apparently was supposed to have been paid?

Do I need to consult a lawyer now?

Should I continue working for people who are asking me to lie in order to hide illegal activity?

Thanks in advance for your opinions.

Best Regards,

Aaron


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David Roth WeissRe: Advice Needed
by on Jan 20, 2010 at 5:32:25 am

The answer is very simple, your bosses should admit they made a mistake due to ignorance of the law, and they should pay you retroactively.

However, now that this is posted for all to see, I'd assume that so-called reporter will undoubtedly find this thread straight away, unless you kept your name from him. Oh BTW, that reporter is no reporter, he's a political investigator, political commentator, political activist, or something, but he's no reporter or journalist.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Fernando MolRe: Advice Needed
by on Jan 20, 2010 at 5:39:56 am

I agree. Be truthful.

Even before you asked, you already felt bad. Don't lie for a job. Begin yourself is what gives this life a little sense.

*Always share a link to your site and rate the posts. This is a free service for you and for us.


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Jeff BonanoRe: Advice Needed
by on Jan 20, 2010 at 5:44:28 am

First of all...DON'T LIE! You have to take care of #1...you! By telling a fib, you have just put your professional reputation in hot water later on down the road. You know why Tiger Woods is having a harder time with his career right now? It's because he couldn't just come out and tell the truth from the get go.

Yeah, it was an oops to talk to the reporter, but it was a bigger no-no for your employer to put you in an illegal situation. Do you think the entire Enron staff knew what was going on? No, and some of the honest team members had a hard time finding a job after that was on their resume.

Politics can be a sticky game that you either have to play well, or don't play at all. By agreeing to the lie, you agree to play the game.

You and your bosses could try and pull the ad, re-shoot a new one, and pay you for it additionally. While it may cost them up front, it could save them and you from legal fines. And yes, you guys could end up paying heavy fines...them, for sure. You, possibly. Or you might just be out of a job.

Next, before you speak to any more press or go any further, legal advisement would be a good idea. Depending on your state, you might be liable for certain things or not. Ask them because they can sit down with you and get all the details and help figure out a plan.

All I have to say is shame on your bosses for taking that risk (provided they new they where taking that risk) and putting you in a nasty situation. Because even if you get out free from the politics, they may feel that you abandoned them if you refuse to follow through with the lie. To me that is just as bad on their part, but then again they may understand and have no hard feelings.....

...But that's just my two cents, and since I'm not a lawyer I could be totally wrong. Other cow members might have something else to say that I forgot or didn't look at right, but what we say here might only be good for you in the sense of developing questions for your lawyer to properly answer.

Good Luck!

Jeff Bonano
http://www.bonanoproductions.com

"I want to have a cool quote at the bottom of my signature, just like everyone else on the cow forum!" -Jeff Bonano


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Zane BarkerRe: Advice Needed
by on Jan 20, 2010 at 6:15:14 am

[Aaron Cadieux] "Should I continue working for people who are asking me to lie in order to hide illegal activity? "

I would not want to continue working for any employer who wants to to lie or break any laws.

[Aaron Cadieux] "Do I need to consult a lawyer now? "

Yes I would consult a lawyer. I would ask the lawyer what type of type of legal action you might be able to take on your employer if a separation happens because you refuse to lie for them.

If they terminate you for refusal to lie for them you can at least report them to the Better Business Bureau, and you can also file for unemployment. I do not know how it works in that state but in my state the employer is required to pay the state for that.

For example I was let go from a company once and was told directly that it was because they could not afford to pay me. After filing for unemployment so as to have financial assistance while looking for work, I was informed by unemployment services that my former employer was protesting my claim. My old boss apparently did not know that he would be required to pay the state when one of his former employees files for unemployment. So he told unemployment services that I was let go for performance reasons, and even withheld my last check. I had to go through an unemployment hearing and file a complaint with the state labor offices to get my check. He lost because he had no proof of any bad performance on my part, and was even required to send my last check to the state who would forward it on to me as proof that he actually paid me. So he basically made himself look like a fool to the state, who now had documentation of his shady business practices. Needless to say Im glad I no longer work for the guy.



There are no "technical solutions" to your "artistic problems".
Don't let technology get in the way of your creativity!



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Arnie SchlisselRe: Advice Needed
by on Jan 20, 2010 at 2:28:48 pm

[Aaron Cadieux] "If questioned, should I lie? Is lying going to get me in trouble for the illegal activity of my bosses and their political party?"

If you lie to conceal you're bosses' mistake, you're participating in a cover-up. Look up "Watergate".

[Aaron Cadieux] "Should I ask to be paid the extra compensation I apparently was supposed to have been paid?"

Sure, why not? But that doesn't change the fact that your bosses broke the law. A fact that would come out in any legal investigation into the making & funding of the video. Offering to pay you months after the fact to cover up the mistake is not the same as paying you for your efforts at the time. That's merely a cover-up.

[Aaron Cadieux] "Do I need to consult a lawyer now?"

Sounds like you do.

[Aaron Cadieux] "Should I continue working for people who are asking me to lie in order to hide illegal activity?"

Should you work for criminals? What would your mother tell you?

Arnie

Post production is not an afterthought!
http://www.arniepix.com/


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Mark SuszkoRe: Advice Needed
by on Jan 20, 2010 at 3:30:43 pm

Aron, Aron, Aron... (sigh)

You have to learn to stop airing intimate details of your boss' dirty laundry in open internet forums linked to your real name; you are sticking an icepick into your future career. Googling you looks like the HR version of an ugly rash now. Even if you dropped offline for a year, it will still follow you. I thought you learned your lesson about that the last time you got into hot water about overtime.

Put the keyboard away, forward your phone calls to Bosnia, and just cool out, until you talk to a lawyer.



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Aaron CadieuxRe: Advice Needed
by on Jan 20, 2010 at 3:55:07 pm

Mark,

I see what you're saying, but in this case I'm more concerned with avoiding getting into legal hot water than I am in making overtime, or keeping my job for that matter. And in this case, I can't be fired for refusing to lie. If I get denied future work over Cow posts, it certainly isn't going to be over this one. The subject matter of some of my past posts could definately get me fired/prevent me from getting work, I'll agree with you there. If an HR person won't hire me for refusing to lie in a previous job, then that means that their company has also asked employees to lie in the past. But, like I said, I see where your coming from, and respect your opinion. I just know that the people on the Cow have probably dealt with situations similar to what I'm dealing with in this case, and their opinions are greatly appreciated.

Best,

Aaron



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Simon RoughanRe: Advice Needed
by on Jan 20, 2010 at 3:27:10 pm

Man, I thought I had it hard at work.
I bet this new "Political Party" is some sort of tea bagger organisation. It wouldn't be that new anti-obama political virus video that showed up lately on you-tube would it? If so nice work, despite the message.

Id demand the $500, and start looking for a new job. No one wants to work for untrustworthy people.


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Todd TerryRe: Advice Needed
by on Jan 20, 2010 at 3:57:54 pm

Aaron... I think it may be time for you to seriously consider moving on.

Throughout many posts in the past months/years you have made it very clear that you do not feel rewarded in your job, are not paid what you think you are worth, and have no respect for the people you are working for or how they do business.

I have taken issue with some of your gripes in the past... basically, as an employee you don't get a vote in how they run the business.

But now... they are asking you to either lie or possibly even criminally commit perjury (depending on who ends up asking the questions).

I don't think you want to work for them any more.

That being said... it's a tough economy and jobs are scarce. And it's always easier to find a new job when you already have one.

I'd start building your reel, pronto... if you already haven't.

And by the way... I know you've learned your lesson about doing something that you shouldn't have (talking to the reporter), but if any of my employees did that, they would find themselves to be EX-employees so fast it would make their heads spin.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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walter biscardiRe: Advice Needed
by on Jan 20, 2010 at 4:20:12 pm

[Todd Terry] "And by the way... I know you've learned your lesson about doing something that you shouldn't have (talking to the reporter), but if any of my employees did that, they would find themselves to be EX-employees so fast it would make their heads spin."

Ditto. One thing all contractors and employees sign here is a Non-Disclosure agreement. That means you do not talk to anyone outside of this company about anything that we do.

There is no "second chance" with this. In the situation described in the original post, which is precisely the type of scenario the non-disclosure is designed to avoid, you would be released from the company immediately.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" now in Post.

Creative Cow Forum Host:
Apple Final Cut Pro, Apple Motion, Apple Color, AJA Kona, Business & Marketing, Maxx Digital.

Blog!

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Mark SuszkoRe: Advice Needed
by on Jan 20, 2010 at 4:24:06 pm

Can you get into the witness protection program?


Seriously, you have to make a stand for what is right, even if that costs you your current job. But you let yourself be put into an untenable position here, and it is Kobayashi Maru time. You're young and single, probably have family and friends to lean on thru the hard times, with nobody else like a spouse or kids depending on you, so the decision should be simpler for you than at any time in your later life. If you were going to screw up badly, your youth is the best time for that.

Aaron, I think your career in video, going forward, should revolve around working for yourself for a while, instead of for a boss. Couple it with a move to a nearby market, make a fresh start personally and professionally. Freelance editing and event stuff, maybe weddings and sports. Or go be a freelance news shooter for a local station for a while, though the pay is poor. The experience will be useful to you, personally and professionally, and maybe you will have less chance of getting into trouble if you are your own boss. Your current "relationship" is like a domestic abuse situation, and I think is now beyond any chance of repair. You need to start over with a clean sheet of paper.


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Aaron CadieuxRe: Advice Needed
by on Jan 20, 2010 at 4:31:35 pm

Thanks for all the advice guys. It has helped me to formulate a plan for this situation, and that's why I asked for your opinions.



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Herb SevushRe: Advice Needed
by on Jan 20, 2010 at 4:42:02 pm

Aaron -

IMO -

Lawyers cost money and so far you have done nothing wrong. In this case I would keep telling the truth and save the legal fees. Since you're not going to lie, then you have no cause to ask for more money. If they fire you, then that's a good case for not working for them.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions


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David Roth WeissRe: Advice Needed
by on Jan 20, 2010 at 7:41:54 pm

[Herb Sevush] "Lawyers cost money and so far you have done nothing wrong. In this case I would keep telling the truth and save the legal fees."

Absolutely. Screw the lawyers. Like laxatives and dangerous weapons, they should be used sparingly and as a last resort.

If you have deep pockets and loads of money to lose, call a lawyer. Otherwise, just follow the ten commandments and you'll probably never need one.

[Herb Sevush] "Since you're not going to lie, then you have no cause to ask for more money."

Well, that one remains to be seen. If paying Aaron $500 resolves the issue at hand, they should pay him immediately, without passing go.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Jeff BonanoRe: Advice Needed
by on Jan 20, 2010 at 8:55:31 pm

[Herb Sevush] Lawyers cost money and so far you have done nothing wrong. In this case I would keep telling the truth and save the legal fees. Since you're not going to lie, then you have no cause to ask for more money. If they fire you, then that's a good case for not working for them.

If you decide against a lawyer, or even if you do get one, document everything! Conversations, actions, the whole deal. This includes what you've also done right or wrong. I can't tell you how many times, I kept records of the most unimportant conversation that when I needed to refer to it months later, I had more leverage in the "meeting" than the person sitting on the other side of the table did.

If you have quick reference to documented facts regardless if you where the only witness, you will be more prepared should an unknown force try to bite you in the butt.

Jeff Bonano
http://www.bonanoproductions.com

"I want to have a cool quote at the bottom of my signature, just like everyone else on the cow forum!" -Jeff Bonano


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Steve WargoRe: Advice Needed
by on Jan 21, 2010 at 4:48:51 am

Aaron. I cannot believe how you put this stuff out on the internet. You just ratted out everyone involved and could send the hand that feeds you to jail.

And this isn't the first time you have dragged us into your self generated problems.

If I were your boss, I would fire you and then kick your ass.

Are you completely insane?

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
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2-Sony EX-1 HD .

Ask me how to Market Yourself using Send Out Cards


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Steve WargoRe: Advice Needed
by on Jan 21, 2010 at 5:01:03 am

And...You probably ought to sign up for prepaid legal and go get a consultation.

In my previous post, I was not condoning the actions of your boss, just hinting that you need to not be blasting this stuff on to the web.

Your boss made a mistake, regardless of whether he knew it was illegal or not but that is his problem. He needed to just hand you the overtime pay and act like you had it coming all along. He is probably as dumb as you are.

Several years ago, a local company produced some spots for a political campaign and the editor neglected to include the "Paid for by ....." at the bottom of the screen. The campaign was fined somewhere around $25,000 for that. It was on the work order and the campaign came after the production company to recoup their money.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .

Ask me how to Market Yourself using Send Out Cards


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Jeff BonanoRe:
by on Jan 21, 2010 at 7:42:55 pm

Gentlemen,

I don't normally do this, but...

...I think we've beat the dead horse enough on the matter and the point has been made. Which the solution to the problem is evident for other readers who might do a search for the answers to a similar issue. Before it becomes a battle royal I think we can just move on to the next post and help solve another issue. Yes? Last thing we need is for mad cow disease to start spreading! The head rancher (with his trusted Lassie) might have to start walking around with a .22 and put down a few cows or something!

Shall we, *ehm*, "Moooooooove along now?"

Jeff Bonano
http://www.bonanoproductions.com

"I want to have a cool quote at the bottom of my signature, just like everyone else on the cow forum!" -Jeff Bonano


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Jeremy DoyleRe: Advice Needed
by on Feb 3, 2010 at 2:01:27 pm

You can now feel a little better about your situation with the supreme court ruling a week ago that allows for corporate spending on political ads. Good or bad, this should certainly clear your boss of any wrong doing.



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