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Utter crap. Rewriting history after you get called out is just pathetic.

They owed him money and either through mistake or malice didn't pay him. When he contacted them to correct it they tried to legalize their way out of it. If I wouldn't have anything to do with them before, I'm doubly unimpressed now.




They paid him. They admitted they were wrong and apologized. They clarified their policy so people won't dispute it in the future.

I'm not sure exactly what more you'd expect them to do. I'm sure they wish they'd handled this differently, but once he posted it, they seem to have handled things reasonably well.

Plus, of course, you've only seen one side of the story. Even if the company has other facts, they can't present them publicly, because then they'd potentially be open to a lawsuit. Similar reasons why people don't give honest feedback after interviews, or referrals other than "yes, he worked at this company on those dates".


When they thought they had all the power, they saw no reason to pay him. Once it was clear that the power wasn't imbalanced, they went for damage control. That reads pretty transparently to anyone who's been around the block a few times.

The loudest expression of your morals is what you do when you have all the power. If you act poorly, later rationalizations do little to convince anyone otherwise.


The best damage control would have been to admit the mistake and move on, not try to blame it on the "unclear" company policy. The founder tries to make it look like it wasn't his fault, but ends up looking even worse.

There is a silver lining for all of this -- future company founders will know what NOT to do when presented with bad PR.


Usually attributed to Lincoln:

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."


If this is attributed to Lincoln, that kind of phrase does not play to his own advantage. (hint: read "The Real Lincoln" if you are interested).


Holy shit that book looks bad.

From the inside cover: "DiLorenzo portrays the sixteenth president as a man who devoted his political career to revolutionizing the American form of government from one that was very limited in scope and highly decentralized?as the Founding Fathers intended?to a highly centralized, activist state. Standing in his way, however, was the South, with its independent states, its resistance to the national government, and its reliance on unfettered free trade."

No mention of, you know, slavery? Or the fact that southern states seceded before he was even inaugurated? I'd like to see a Venn Diagram of people who like this book and people who own confederate flags.


We are clearly getting way off track, but anyone who has entertained the (false) idea that the South seceded from the union because of some States Rights principle would benefit from reading the original secession proclamation from the state of South Carolina. The document is available online; here is one source:

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2010/12/the-south-has-risen.ht...

The first section in the linked page is a preface written on a state website, summarizing that the secession document was totally concerned with slavery. It is then followed by the document in its entirety so that you can see the truth for yourself.


Well, there's no better way to find out if this book makes sense than just reading it. I think you can take it with a pinch of salt, nonetheless it makes some valid points about how Lincoln treated power. The new edition answers to the criticism that was made against it.


Hm, this book has also lot of criticism.


There is a huge problem with this attitude: it doesn't leave room for someone to honestly realize they were wrong and be believed when they express they learned something. If someone thinks you're not going to believe him anyway, you remove part of the incentive for someone to learn.


I disagree. I've come to this point of view via self awareness of when I've failed this test. You can understand how others might make this mistake quite easily.

But I also think the employer's behavior here fails your own test. There's no expression of learning that a poor choice was made, just expression of plausible deniability.

In some sense, me calling my perspective out as I see it, is a hope that it does affect such change.


True. But at this point, what exactly does anyone expect them to do? They screwed up, got caught, apologized and finally, paid him. It is very much possible that they wouldn't have paid him, if he didn't go public. It is also possible, that companies in similar positions will behave the same way in future (abusing power, until they get caught). There is probably nothing that can be done at this point, except move on.


They didn't admit they were wrong for not paying him though. They apologized for not having a "clear and complete policy."

If you look at the sequence of emails he was first denied the bonus on the grounds of his own job performance, then on the grounds of not having a written contract, then finally because he didn't meet their ad hoc policy requirements.

I guess nobody actually expects them to apologize like human beings, but it would be nice if they said something like, "We're sorry for fighting you on the referral bonus. You deserved it after the 6 months was up and we should have given it to you then. We've put a structure in place at the company so this doesn't happen again. "


if you read the email, they did not admit they were wrong. they held that in the light of their policy they were correct not to pay him, and their only mistake was in not making that policy clearer, and therefore they'd pay out this once.


>I'm not sure exactly what more you'd expect them to do.

There's not a lot more that they can do. They've advertised themselves as a company that willingly screws their employees and goes back on their word.

Whatever the details of the case, anybody who is thinking of joining their team will now think "they might do something like this to me".


I don't think they did admit they were wrong, because they weren't necessarily wrong.

They admitted they made a mistake in not clearly documenting their policy, which was ambiguous. As part of correcting that mistake, they recompensed an employee who was wronged by the ambiguity. They did this not because they were obligated by a policy or contract, but by ethics.

I think it's debatable whether he was entitled to the bonus, that's why I say they weren't "necessarily" wrong. Obviously Miso felt he was not entitled to it, since under their clarified policy he would not be.


> They admitted they made a mistake in not clearly documenting their policy, which was ambiguous. As part of correcting that mistake, they recompensed an employee who was wronged by the ambiguity. They did this not because they were obligated by a policy or contract, but by ethics.

This is not a matter of a simple "ambiguity in policy", is it? This is a contract they made with their employees that failed to specify terms like "the bonus will only be payable while you are an employee of the company".

Miso doesn't get to retroactively apply terms to a contract that has been made. Hence, IMO, they recompensed the employee because they were obligated to by contract.

edit: Two good comments from the blog:

----

Somrat, Tim: your mistake was not that you were unclear about your policy. Your mistake was failing to follow your policies and agreements in the first place and then trying to apply new policies after the fact. This isn't unclear, it's unethical.

---

This reply tells everyone that CYA is your sole problem solving skill.

---


I see your point, which is very persuasive, but this case is ambiguous because it could be interpreted in either way. As an agreement between the employer and employee, the agreement might be interpreted to apply only to active employees, and on resignation vanishes.

Suppose a company's expense report policy does not clarify whether they will fulfill expenses incurred during employment but filed after resignation. The day after you quit you find an expense receipt you forgot to report. Must the company compensate you? It's ambiguous.


> As an agreement between the employer and employee, the agreement might be interpreted to apply only to active employees, and on resignation vanishes.

The agreement was fulfilled when the referee completed his 6 months, no? At that point it became a debt that the company owed jzhwu, and he only quit a month after. I don't think debts immediately disappear when you quit a company (unless you sign some sort of agreement to that effect). So by default I'd guess that the debt cannot "vanish on resignation".

> Must the company compensate you? It's ambiguous.

It's probably a problem long settled by the courts and labor regulations, actually. Not ambiguous at all.


> At that point it became a debt that the company owed jzhwu

I considered this, too. Obviously I agree that, if it were a debt, then he is entitled to it, and that the debt cannot disappear.

But what if it's not a debt? I think that the debt exists if the creditor makes a claim. Perhaps by not asking for his bonus, the employee lost his opportunity to make a claim, and cannot make a claim after resigning.

Your suggest he claim the debt at any time. How long is he allowed he wait? 10 years? 100 years?

All I'm asking is that you see how this could be argued either way! Obviously a court (or case law) would decide one way or another, but until that point it is ambiguous.


> Perhaps by not asking for his bonus, the employee lost his opportunity to make a claim, and cannot make a claim after resigning.

That would depend in the terms specified in the contract. If the entirety of the contract is the email message which says "We'll pay 10K for a referral that lasts 6 months", then it defaults to the contract laws in their state. I can guarantee that the contract laws of their state do not say "debts owed to employees are void after employment is terminated."

> How long is he allowed he wait? 10 years? 100 years?

Most, probably all, states also have a law defining what the limit on collecting a debt is. It usually falls between 3 and 6 years, and is considerably longer in a few.


There is no ambiguity here. The contract never stated that the bonus is only to be paid out if the employee has handed their notice in.

The CEO's comment here makes me think that this was indeed a contract, so Miso would have had no leg to stand on in a court.


"Everything stupid in life has a legal or accounting reason behind it." -Unknown


It's not ambiguous, it's fact-specific, and a court in such a situation would look to questions of fairness and reasonableness under the circumstances. Absent an extended delay that caused meaningful harm to the company, the employee would almost certainly get his reimbursement.


The fact that you mention a court might review such a situation, strongly suggests it is in fact somewhat ambiguous.


I don't see your logic. A court would review it if one of the sides brought it to court. It doesn't suggest that the issue is 'ambiguous', or that the company has a leg to stand on once they're actually in court.


Many things end up in court that are not ambiguous, which is why summary judgement[1] exists.

Although it is usually impossible to predict the outcome of a vaguely-defined case (I hit and killed you with my car, am I liable?), a case where all relevant facts are known (I hit and killed you with my car while you were legally crossing at a crosswalk, my light was red, and I was speeding) is utterly unambiguous, but will still end up in court if one side refuses to settle, no matter why they refuse.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summary_judgement


Yes, but the public doesn't know, or care what the actual company policy reads. Even if the company was 90% in the right, they should still accept all the blame, just to appease the pitchforks.

Remember that incident with Airbnb where a woman's house was trashed? I'm sure Airbnb had all the proper fine print to prevent them from liability, but they still went out of their way to make sure the woman was properly compensated. I'm sure Airbnb was never at fault here, but they were able to turn a case of bad press into good press.

The Miso founder simply took a case of bad press, and turned into worse press.


Amen, this had airbnb win potential written all over it. Even if the CEO didn't want to apologize "because it was the right thing to do" the knowledge that it could have gained significant points from potential future hires that are reading this now shows lack of insight and self-awareness.


There's "wrong to not pay him" which is distinct from "he was entitled to be paid under terms of contract" (which itself would have multiple interpretations based on who was reading it, etc.).

They were uncontrovertibly wrong to not pay him, because they've lost 10-100x $10k in goodwill, recruiting capability, etc. If they really wanted to be strict and avoid establishing a precedent, they could have just given him an extra $10k bonus for severance vs. $10k for the referral amount; I doubt he cares what the memo line of the check says.


Agreed. There's a big difference between being sorry and being sorry you got caught. Miso management is sure coming off like the latter.


They are also legally bound to pay the referral bonus, unless they can provide evidence that they informed Joshua before he referred his buddy that there were any exceptions to the rule.




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