Advice Needed: Burning Bridges!

I need some advice. I currently work for a big4 firm in its TAS/M&A department in a western European country but plan to move to the US early next year to look for work (I have a green card).

Normally I am not entitled to overtime compensation because of my level/title, however, because of a special assignment over the last 6-9 months, the partner and HR made me sign an "amended employment contract" that specifically states that during this assignment, I am entitled to OT comp (legally required by the labor laws in the country I am in). I confirmed this with HR at the beginning of my assignment and tried to confirm it with the partner who wouldnt reply to my emails. Now, 6-9 months later, when I am about to finish this assignment, the partner tells me that the OT is compensated by my YE bonus (in other words, he is basically telling my I wont get any comp, or maybe just a fraction of what I am entitled to). Normally I wouldnt make a big deal out of this but because of the hours I worked during this assignment, my OT balance amounts to ~$40-50k and its not something I am willing to give up.

So to my question, if I push to get this OT comp, which I am legally entitled to, I am pretty sure I will burn some bridges with my current firm. If I dont plan to go back to the same firm once I move to the US, could this potentially hurt my job search? My understanding is that in the US, the only things a prospective employer can confirm are title, dates employed and maybe salary. In other words, how likely is it that a US employer finds out about my "situation" at my firm in Europe? Besides this issue, I have good performance reviews etc (documented).

Sorry for the lengthy post but appreciate any advice!

Comments (16)

Jul 21, 2016

I don't think it would hurt your job search in a different jurisdiction and different company. However, you will definitely burn bridges with your current employer. $50k may sound like a lot but depending where you live you may only see 50% of that after tax....

I would always recommend erring on the side of caution as you never know when you need someone to put in a good word for you. Even if a letter of recommendation will only state the facts, I always call previous managers when I want to hire someone, so if they're not positive it's an instant ding

Much more preferable to work it out amiably with your partner / HR and say that you don't think it's fair to let go of $50k and what could they do instead (i.e. commit to the $50k as part of your YE bonus?)

Jul 27, 2016


Jul 21, 2016

I'd wait for bonus as they said first, it's unlikely but maybe they actually will give it in a lump sum.

If they don't, you can fight it, but it will definitely burn bridges at your current firm. Unlikely that it will hurt your job search though. Might contact a lawyer specializing in labor laws before you start getting tough with management.

Jul 22, 2016

Thanks for your replies.

Fair point on the taxes. I would probably pay about 30% tax on the OT meaning the net impact is ~35k.

As far as the bonus, management has already flagged that bonuses will be lower this year (from already relatively low levels, roughly 40% of my OT pay) and on top of that, given that I will hand in my notice before the bonus is paid out, I will effectively forfeit my bonus anyway (which I am OK with), meaning I cant wait and hope for the firm to actually give me larger bonus for the OT.

One thing I maybe didnt stress enough above is that HR has confirmed, on three different occasions, that I am entitled to the OT compensation, in other words, it is just the partner who is trying to get out of having to pay me (since its basically coming out of his pocket given how the big4 firms are structured).

Lastly, in terms of burning bridges. I will probably have some fairly senior people (director level) who could vouch for me in case a future employer wants to speak with someone. On top of that, I have several years of good performance reviews documented in the HR system, one that will be finalized close to when I plan to hand in my notice.

Any additional advice/comments given the above?

Jul 27, 2016

This bridge isn't worth $50k. If the guy pulling the strings made you sign a new contract and now isn't wanting to honour it, how many favours do you really see him doing you in the future? He wont even reply to your emails whilst you still work for him. It'll be him burning the bridge, not you, and he's doing it so there's more money in his own pocket.

Speak to HR directly and try to have them pay you this money asap.

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Jul 27, 2016

You aren't burning the bridge - if he is too embarrassed to answer your emails the bridge is already in flames. Take the money and don't look back.

Jul 27, 2016

go for the cash. money over hoes (HRs)

Jul 27, 2016

Get that money man.

Jul 27, 2016

This is the partner burning the bridge, not you. Did you keep a company of the contract you had to sign detailing the agreement? Have you documented the OT you worked?

Jul 27, 2016

Get what you're contractually owed. Anything less is robbery right out of your pocket. And if any prospective employer down the road says no after finding that out, they might just have a propensity to do similar things with their employees.

Jul 27, 2016

Talk to HR and say you haven't recovered OT yet, act completely confused as its in your contract, and they will pay you what they owe. The bridge with the partner is already gone, and like somebody said before, if he's doing this now, he's not worth knowing.

Jul 27, 2016

Get that money

Jul 27, 2016

I don't have much experience with this, but I'd say talk to the partner again first. I realize that he hasn't been responding to your emails, but these guys are busy and you're definitely not his biggest problem. If you can actually talk to him, just tell him that you don't want to make a big deal but that you can really use that money before the bonus is paid out. Basically, make him empathize with you.

If you can't get a conversation or email chain going with him, talk to someone you trust within the firm who might be able to help you (a director he's friendly with, etc.). If that doesn't work, talk to hr. Either way, don't complain about the partner, just tell them that you really need this money before bonuses are paid, and try to make them empathize with you. Make it about the money, not the partner.

Also, you should check the contract to see if it states how this OT can be paid. If it says that it must be paid a certain way, then point that out as politely as possible. Even though you're leaving, you need these people to want to help you, so don't burn too many bridges.

Jul 27, 2016

Sounds like they're screwing you. They had you sign an amended employment agreement to cover their asses, then failed to honor the terms. Then they blew smoke when you followed up. Wait for your bonus to see if it covers what you should ordinarily get as a bonus, PLUS what you're owed in OT pay. If it's short of that, hire a lawyer to send them a demand letter for the OT pay you're owed. If they don't pay up promptly, file a wages/hours lawsuit, grieve to the local labor regulator, go to arbitration or whatever one does there to resolve such employer/employee disputes. I'm guessing you're in France, amiright?

Don't hesitate to burn bridges with people who deal with you in bad faith and screw you out of compensation you're legally due.

Jul 27, 2016

it is common in the finance industry to wait until the day after you get paid your bonus (so, the $$ is in your bank account) before you notify your employer that you will be leaving.

Jul 31, 2016