Yeah, well THAT adds quite a bit to the situation at hand, doesn't it?
You canned someone who was working at your stable to pay the boarding in full or in part.
You now have a very different set of rules to play by!
If this person was in fact an "on the books" employee, IE any compensation was documented, and it sounds like it was (though no dispute of fair compensation if I read it correctly), labor laws may come into play.
Is your state a "right to work" state, or did you have an "at will" type agreement?
Did you document the work performed, quality thereof, and any discrepancies?
Did you establish a progressive discipline program, and document it accordingly, before terminating their employment?
I realize I may be taking this in a hugely different direction than intended, but with the abstract originally posted, and not knowing specifics, i'm attempting to help cover all bases.
Thanks for your input. This individual was not an "on the books" employee. Before coming to our farm, she was given a copy of our boarding contract to review(of which, we upheld the material terms we were responsible for). Agreed to the terms in it (which are the same terms all of our other boarders abide by). They had been repeatedly asked to improve their "work" performance, and you can only re-explain the same thing SOOOO many times before just going "okay, they're just too lazy". I mean... how difficult is it to swipe some bedding to the side and find the horse's wet spot? As much as they cleaned stalls, they would have known where each horse's wet spot ALWAYS was. When we offered them the opportunity to perform work in exchange for credit towards their board, they were informed that we expected them to complete the job asked of them, the way we asked them to do it.
Not that it matters, because this was not "on the books", but we live in an "at will" state, anyhow. When we "fired" them, we gave them 40+ days notice that they would be expected to pay full board (they had earned credit towards board for the coming month). The woman got snotty and made up some bizarre "invoice" claiming credit for work which she did not perform... all because we "stepped on their toes", and no longer offered them the opportunity to live beyond their means.
We never had any discrepancies in work (they kept track of the work they performed, we'd touch base and say "ok, you worked these days, and this many stalls?", and we never had a discrepancy; they paid based on this). Our way of firing them was to simply say "We can no longer afford to offer to credit you for work, so we will no longer be assigning you jobs. Perhaps in the future, if our financial situation changes, we can work something else out..." (not that we'd ever tell them if it did, but as far as we were concerned, they didn't need to know that).
I mean... we really tried to not
ruffle their feathers. We DID expect that they'd leave (they'd made many mentions that they couldn't afford more than what were paying after working a portion off), but we certainly didn't expect them to just become flat-out jerks. Especially after all of the ways we went ABOVE AND BEYOND for these people. They frequently requested that I starve their horse for the sake of "making her behave" (which was always flat-out denied, and I offered to have the woman do HER OWN RESEARCH and come to me with an alternate feed plan that provided her horse with adequate nutrition but decreased whatever the woman thought made her horse "act up"; we even had a vet advise her). We also had several instances where the woman was borderline aggressive when I was trying to explain different things to her.
So, in addition to no longer wanting them working for us... we were glad to have them leave. However, we were kind, went above and beyond for these people, and they completely stabbed us in the back. They said "Oh, we understand... no hard feelings. We don't want to burn bridges... here is our payment in full. We are just going to move our mare to the barn where our kid is riding another horse everyday, it'll be more convenient." then gave us this awful, ungrateful, whining letter in which they took no responsibility for themselves, threaten to slander us, and said they weren't paying what was in the invoice which we gave to her and made up her own. The invoice which she looked at
as being 100% accurate!!!! I'm just appalled at how two-faced, selfish and unprofessional some people can be when things don't go "their way"...
P.S. She paid us in full after I sent the invoice, and included a rediculous letter that said that the contract "was a silly piece of paper" that meant "nothing" to her, and told us that she and her kid are "praying for us". Ha.