Comments: 35 • Responses: 11  • Date: 

CuriosityKat915 karma

I'm impressed you got it all so nicely organized and even color coded! My question is how did you get in touch with the previous guy who quit because of Mr. Difficult? How did that not break any confidentiality agreements or otherwise run afoul of company (or legal) policy? Did they try to dispute that part at all?

howtofightwagetheft19 karma

Well, luckily, there wasn't much company policy. They honestly didn't have you sign much of anything. Also, because they weren't holding to their end of things, I figured anything like that would be invalid as I hadn't technically finished the job. So for example, I still had copies of all of their code which they had told me to delete after "firing" me but I didn't because the job wasn't technically finished until I got paid, or at least that was my rationale. I'm not sure how legal that would hold up.

That said, I did a back search into the code logs (we used git) which shows you ever line written by anybody. I sized up who had done the most commits and luckily he had left his personal email address in there. Sometimes projects get built as first side projects before you create a domain name and email addresses, so there's a good chance of that. Also, a lot of developers don't always configure their repositories to push with the right identity, so you'll see 3 different "users" who are all the same person in one repository.

Anyways I emailed him and warned him of the impeding IRS and DOL investigations as a professional courtesy that they might contact him. He said good send them my way, then proceeded to describe an almost identical situation when I hadn't told him hardly anything. He said he was about to sue them but he had their github account in his name so he just turned it off. That forced them to settle up with him.

I offered to buy him a beer or star wars tickets (this was last year). He was honestly an amazing sanity check in this process for me.

CuriosityKat95 karma

Thanks for the reply! I never get to AMA's first, this is nice :).

howtofightwagetheft5 karma

You're welcome, thanks for the question! I think the key is you know it's going to make you nervous, so you just do your best to make it simple so your structure / method helps you out. It was such a great feeling saying "aw fuck it" and grabbing the red folder, I can't even begin to describe it.

Amsterdamage44 karma

Can you name the company to give others warning?

howtofightwagetheft12 karma

I can, and I'm feeling a bit reticent to do so. I'm not sure why to be honest. Maybe it's having played it really safe with details in things like emails etc over the last year?

However, what I will say is that in the next 24 hours, I'll be posting a scathing review of the company on glassdoor.com. So if you're looking at a consulting gig, go on there first and you'll likely see a similar story if it's this company. I'm also fairly certain they are not hiring right now.

Amsterdamage41 karma


Have you used UpWork? I've only hired a guy to do animation, but I like the way it works and I'm curious if any SW developers have found work on it.

The entity hiring puts the money in escrow, and has a reputation, as does the contractor, which eliminates lots of issues you encountered.

howtofightwagetheft3 karma

I haven't, as I have an on-going gig that is much better, but next round of consulting I'll give it a go. That's a great tip thank you.

eyesearskneesandtoes2 karma

How many sandwiches do you think were made while doing research ? What is your go to sandwich ?

howtofightwagetheft2 karma

I would say at least 10 to 20 sandwiches. My go to is a turkey with lettuce, tomato, mayo and provolone. However, my girlfriend picks her favorites at the store a lot so I'd give it a 50/50 with those and roast beef and swiss.

Oh and pickles, there's got to be pickles.

vaioseph1 karma

I know the details are blacked out, but for my own curiosity and sense of justice, did the arbitrator award you interest and make them pay the arbitration costs?

howtofightwagetheft1 karma

The court made them pay me what I asked plus interest and disbursements to cover the $20 I'd already paid when I filed.

woowoo2931 karma

Were you able to recover any extra damages? Some state laws provide for double or triple damages for wage claim cases.

howtofightwagetheft5 karma

This is one of the things I wish I had done actually. I didn't ask for more than I was owed because I wanted to be fair. But one of my friends who is about the most fair person I know said "well you put in all the extra time researching it, so you should have asked for another thousand I'd say".

However, the courts did give me an additional amount based on interest from last year.

wwwarrensbrain1 karma

I see you received a judgement, but have you actually received payment from the company yet? and did the check clear?

howtofightwagetheft2 karma

Yes, the funds came in. :)

JerikOhe1 karma

Did you talk to any attorneys or just wing it? If the latter I'm impressed!

howtofightwagetheft1 karma

I spoke with one attorney who had some articles on wage theft after doing a bit of research. He was very helpful and the one who encouraged me to do this for moral reasons which was a key motivator for me. I think all in all a total of 10 minutes spent talking with him.

I also found contacts at both the Department of Labor and the IRS very helpful and also encouraging. I never thought the IRS would be as helpful, or that I'd be excited to get a letter from them, but there you go.

All in all I did do a good bit of research on my own, and winged a lot of it but when it got to nitty gritty key details I wasn't willing to risk my own assumptions, so I sought advice then.

boogotti-1 karma

I don't understand why you wouldn't have your own code branch? How could two people committing to two different branches ever cause a conflict? And if you were committing to a dev branch, did you are him merge your branch to master/production?

howtofightwagetheft1 karma

Mr. Difficult didn't like branches. Instead, he actively discouraged them, and preferred an integrated manager / dictator hybrid workflow. I personally use centralized workflows with multiple branches for smaller team projects. I could understand using multiple repositories if we had more than 4 coders, but seriously? 4 coders: 2 front end, 2 back end. And so, my opinion is it would have been better to do a centralized workflow. Now anyone out there please correct me if I'm wrong here, I'd love to learn something new about this.

Also, the main reason I think centralized would have been better for this is not technical rationale but political: I was unable to get any code to coordinate with a front-end developer except through Mr. Difficult. Which meant I would have to interrupt Mr. Difficult's work to have him merge things which he would of course complain about me because of. In a normal situation, I would have complained to the boss or just shared my own repos with the front end guy. However, the main client was disinterested in understanding something like git and would rule in Mr. D's favor (he was somehow this matisse golden boy to her) and secondly, working behind his back would have likely caused a tantrum because he was so highly territorial. Third, our front end guys weren't savvy with git and the three of them worked in the same space, a desk away from Mr. D so they likely would have asked his help.

All the other consulting jobs I've ever been on were centralized repositories and people or apps got different branches. There was one exception once when someone was adding a module that was fairly auxiliary and just needed to be added in when completed, so they had their own repos.

boogotti1 karma

Thats fine though, using multiple repos is even more isolated from other employees plus production. I'm just asking about the fundamental underlying concern that pushing to git every day can hurt anything. If you're pushing to a dev repo then the person contracting the work can verify it is on track (which they are entitled to require as part of the contract), and all of the commits will still be safely and cleanly isolated.

howtofightwagetheft1 karma

Yeah I agree. The thing that I also didn't mention is from the beginning, I was limited to work only four hours a day as they couldn't pay me more than that. As such, it was not likely I would be coding a brand new feature in an existing environment I'm still getting used to, to completion in four hours. The best I would do is get it to a stable enough position to push something more than once or twice a day so as not to break anything at least initially. Since we were in the beginning stages of many of what I did, I had a lot of specifications and design to do which I tend to do on paper, thinking out various scenarios and research before I code anything. They were much more the type I've heard called "code cowboys" who churn out loads of code and fix it after. I prefer test driven coding myself, they didn't even touch a testing file.

Usually, later on in projects once you've gotten all your clay out there and are sculpting it in finer paths you're able to make lots of tweaking commits, I find. Unless of course if you're completely in control of the project and get to make lots of calls from the get-go, that's when I tend to do more pushes at the beginning I've noticed, but that's in the setup of the system, not in the design and feature implementation portion of the project.