A reader writes:
I submitted a 2-week notice to my employer, typed out and very professional. I specified in the letter when my last day would be, and everything seemed to be okay.
Well, they asked if I could go out of town and do a job my last week of work, and we clarified that I would be leaving the day my notice was up, because I would no longer be an employee of their company, and they said that was fine. Now they are telling me that I have to stay and work a day after my notice is up, and they say that if I leave any earlier than that, they’re going to take my company truck and I’ll have to find my own way home, even though my truck is still full of my tools and such.
Do they legally have to provide me with a ride home? Or are they allowed to take all my things and leave me stranded 7 hours from home?
Wow, it seems you’ve you’ve been working for jerks.
My initial thought was to wonder what would happen if you simply drove the company truck back to your office on your last day — the last day you agreed to work, that is, not the extra one that they’re now trying to tag on. I mean, how would they stop you, or even know to stop you? (That assumes that you drove it there, which it sounds like you did.)
… and her initial reaction was the same as mine, so ha, I am vindicated.
Here’s her response:
What’s to stop you from driving the truck back to your office on the last day and turning it in there? I assume you drive it to wherever you’re staying at night. I’m not sure how they’d stop you from doing this.
As to the laws, the Fair Labor Standards Act says you have to be paid for hours traveling on a business trip during your regular work day (but not for being a passenger outside working hours). Of course, FLSA only addresses wage/hour issues and not how you get back from travel if the company strands you.
I don’t know of any law that requires a jerk company to get you back home from a business trip. I’ve seen employees stranded as far away as the Middle East, left to get themselves home on their own dime. Some places you can look:
· Do you have a union? The collective bargaining agreement may require them to get you home.
· Do you have an employment agreement? If so, it may deal with business travel.
· Does the company have a policy about business travel? If their policy says they will get you home, I’d argue that it’s a benefit protected by ERISA and that they must comply.
· When you agreed to the trip, did they put in writing that your work would be completed at the end of the notice period and you could return home with the truck? If so, it might be a contract. You may want to talk to an employment lawyer in your state to see what rights you have.
· If they try to keep your tools, call the police. That’s theft, plain and simple. You should be able to remove your belongings from the vehicle.
On the other hand, unless you’re starting a new job the next day, why not stay one more day? I’d make sure they put in writing that you will be returned home at their expense if you agree to stay the additional time, and that you’ll get good references if you do what they want.