Being unrightfully let go from a grooming shop when you were self employed and gained your own clien

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Member Since
Barked: Wed Apr 17, '13 11:18pm PST 
To any grooming business owners or groomers who presently work for a grooming shop but are considered "self employed"- filing a 1099 schedule C each year(along with starting out under the verbal agreement if building your own clientele, or to groomers who have ever been in this position I would appreciate your feedback!! I was working for a grooming shop from July of 2011- February 21 of this year. I started out grooming for the owner of this business under the clear verbal agreement that I was to gain my own clientele in which I did so over the period of almost 2 years. I started out working 1 day a week grooming a few " new customers", and worked my way up to 4 days a week with a good clientele base of at least 7 dogs each day. I was paid 50% commission and had all of my own grooming tools. I also paid my bather $10/hr in full most days on average of $30, which was deducted from my check at the end of each week. When I initially started, the owner of the business agreed to paying half; about 6 months later she implied she could not afford it any longer so I just bit the bullet and paid her in full. Well, back towards the end of January I learned that I was going to need surgery to remove cancer, which did have me feeling like an emotional wreck but I continued to work up until my surgery that took place on February 14th. I was out of work for only 1 week due to having to return to support myself and two children on my own. While I was out of work that week the owner of the business was grooming all of my dogs that were calling rather than letting them know that I could schedule them for the following weeks- no biggie, understandable if she did not want them to wait. Well, what I had realized since December of 2011, was that it clearly seemed I had more of a clientele base than she did and it seemed as though her attitude was changing(even prior to me learning I needed to be out for a short medical leave. She was complaining about finances and what not, was insisting I bath and groom my own dogs though she only paid for half of my bather when I ran the shop on Saturdays where she did not work those days. Then she started to have her husband come in and bath her dogs on the Mondays and Tuesdays I did not groom in her shop rather than have our bather there; giving her less hours(so, clearly she was struggling financially but trying to keep it to herself). After my surgery on the 14th of February I did have my own clients scheduled on the Wed-Saturday the following week. She called me on the Monday after surgery and told me that because she did not have any dogs scheduled herself for Wednesday the 20th and Friday the 22, she insisted I cancel my clients those days and reschedule them because she did not want the shop open if it was just me working- though I would have made her a commission of st least. $150 each day which would have more than covered utilities that were being used. (Weird). So, like I said I just ended up working the Thursday the 21st while she was there grooming also. I had clients scheduled for the following Saturday the 23rd, but unfortunately I was read mutated into the hospital due to complications on the night of the 22cnd and rushed to hospital in which they admitted me overnight. So, I asked my mother to call my clients for me in the event I needed to cancel them and I would call to reschedule(they were all very sympathetic. I also had my mother contact my bather and let her know that she did not need to bath for me and had the bather call the owner early that morning to make her aware. (I did not have my cell on me in the hospital and did not have the owners #. I always kept my appt book with me in which I only had my bothers # written in, along with my clients and their phone #'s, I left the book with my mother because I was at her house when she told me I needed to get to the hospital right away(that is why I had her make the phone calls for me). I was released from the hospital Saturday morning and was told to rest for the remainder if the weekend in which I did. The following week I had many clients scheduled Wednesday - Saturday and felt great by Monday morning. I called the owner on Monday morning(she never contacted me even on Sunday to see how I was doing- again(weird). After I explained what occurred and also said I felt a lot better and was ready to return grooming that week she then responded " you cost me at least $200 for canceling your clients in Saturday, so I'm sorry but this is no longer working out here and return your key along with your appointment book?!, and come get your equipment." I was in shock. I tried to reason with her and she wasn't budging. So, I complied, but after speaking with 3 other grooming shop owners in the area about the situation, they replied "if you were self employed and gained your own clients than she has no right to tell you to return your appointment book with all of your scheduled dogs in it) So, I went to the shop, dropped the key on the counter,band collected my equipment(I kept my appointment book in my car). As I was leaving she asked me where the book was and I said " it was at my house." She then responded "well you need to return it so I can groom the dogs that you have scheduled." I just turned around and walked out. Then had her husband, again who was bathing for her come chase me out the door demanding I give them the book. I ignored him and left. I then drove down the street to another shop which is literally 1/4 mile up the street and talked to the owner there, and explained what happened and asked her if she would be interested in taking me on in her shop- especially in the event I had my own clientele. She said sure. I contacted all of my dogs and had at least 3/4 of them follow me that I had scheduled in the next 6 weeks. My issue here is that many of my customers would just call the shop to schedule their dog in rather than reschedule. The owner also refused to give me my client information index cards that were on her desk but I figured that where I had most of their #'s I would just contact them all when I could and let them know that things did not work out there and I was in a new shop right down the street. Well, in the following 2 weeks I called at least 75 if them- getting mostly answering machines where I would call on my days off(they were most likely working) and left them a detailed message to where I was now located. Now, here is when it gets worse. The second day I was in the new shop that week, the owners husband had a nerve to call the police and accuse me of stealing "THEIR" appointment book along with possible tax info!! The police officer that showed up even said he could tell what they were trying to do and all he could do was keep the peace and left. In the next few days I received at least 4 calls from the owner, her husband and one if the owners friends harassing me for the book which had only my clientele in it! I then blocked their #'s. Then that same week, one of my customers forwarded an email to me that she had received from the owner of the grooming shop and it stated "Stephanie Miller no longer works for my grooming shop and has stolen our client list. Any if you who have an appointment that was scheduled with her please call the shop to schedule them here." I, again was in shock that she would do such a thing when that was complete slander against me. Fortunately she only had about 60 email addresses with at least 15 being my clients. So, long story short now. I have now been working in this other grooming shop for almost 2 months, and have lost about 2/3 of my clientele due to slander and her having all of my client info cards and calling each and everyone of them slandering me. I'm also sure most people did not check their home answering machines or just overlooked my voicemail I left leaving them to just call my old shop to schedule an appt in which she is obviously taking them and not telling people where I am. I also received a call from one if my clients that she had groomed while I was out that week for surgery, and my customer said " you know, I thought it was unusual that she said you were just out sick, and when I rescheduled she put my dog in her book and handed me an appointment card with her for the next time." So that told me right there that she did not let me go due to me having to reschedule my dogs the Saturday I was back in the hospital, but infact she already had plans on letting me go! Obviously to get rid of me to gain all of my clients! I did speak to a lawyer that said I do have a possible civil suit against her- especially in the event of the slander and her not telling my clients where I've relocated that I have lost about 2/3 of my income over the past two months and am now struggling to pay my bills and am hardly getting by. I could not collect because like I mentioned she handed me a "1099" each year as being self employed. I've recount acted a few of my clients that I did leave messages with when this all first happened and a couple of them have stated "we are just going to continue bringing our dog to her because we were told that the grooming dogs over at your new place were put in with the daycare dogs"(another lie), and another said "we were told that the other shop was not very clean so we are staying with the owner now!" This was just yesterday I had made those calls and was informed of these lies and slander. I am at wits end and absolutely beside myself with this entire situation. I'm financially drained, stressed and emotionally drained. I never fathomed that this woman, who I did consider a " friend and coworker" would do this to me. I have been grooming for 15 years, am a top notch groomer, worked so hard to build up that clientele over a period of almost 2 years and was let go because of her own selfishness. I am grateful I was able to get into a new shop right away and have many clients follow, but the lose is huge. I've been so busy with working there and taking care of my kids and other things that I have not pursued legal action but I am definitely thinking about it at this point. I was " let go", not "fired", and with the harassing phone calls, the slanderous email, and now hearing that she is slandering the new shop I'm working out of what should I do?? I know that I will be ok in the long run in the event I now have to build up more clientele here, but that will take atleast a year and I simply cannot afford it in the event I am already behind on my bills. Anyone who knows as a business owner that this was an unrightful termination or any suggestions on what I should do, opinions- please let me know. It will be much appreciated!!

forever loved
Barked: Thu Apr 18, '13 8:25am PST 
Have you lodged a complaint with the police about this?! She is slandering you, the new store, and literally stealing your clients...I do not advocate the current attitude of suing for every little thing...but I would say you have a valid case. So sorry you are going though this on top of having to go through surgeries. In any case, respond kindly but firmly to any accusations (try to remain the better person, I know that is hard when someone you trusted is lying about you--talking from experience), don't give them anything they can use against you. The truth will come out eventually...good luck.hughug
Jewel, PCD

8.6lbs of fury- in a bow!
Barked: Thu Apr 18, '13 9:23am PST 
That's tough, if you weren't in a finacial jam I would say just ride it out and people will learn the truth. Crazy groomers don't groom for sane people. Is there some way for you to get your name out there locally? Could you groom a few shelter dogs or offer a discount coupon for newly adopted dogs? Or are there dog events in your area where you could have a booth with photos of your grooming? Or could you offer a wacky service like nail polish or hair colouring that other groomers don't offer?