Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A New Low

I asked Montana for the pension paperwork right as I was leaving work tonight.  He said that he didn't have it because Julia hadn't been into the office today.  Then he asked a question (which I don't remember) to clarify and he referred to it as "taxes."  I corrected him and told him that our pension and taxes are two separate things.  He said he didn't know what our contracts say, to which I replied that it had nothing to do with our contracts, that it is the law (we must pay 4.5% into it and the company must match 4.5%).  He again stated that he didn't know anything about foreign contracts, and I repeated myself.  Then we said our goodbyes and I left for home.

I tried to call Ian to tell him that we may have a problem, but the line was busy.  A few minutes later he called me, telling me that he had just received an angry phone call from Montana.  He had called Ian after I left to clarify this whole taxes versus pension situation.  When Ian told him that we and the company must pay our 4.5% halves, things started to get ugly.  Montana wasn't having it and when Ian asserted that it is the law, Montana said that Ian was threatening to shut down the company.  Of course, Ian stated clearly that he did not say that or even imply it, but Montana was adamant.  He told Ian that we'd have a meeting (including Julia) tomorrow at noon to "figure this out."  He basically closed the phone call by telling Ian he'd made a big mistake.  Remember, Korean libel laws are archaic and extremely harsh.

So, I met Ian at the Sinback campus where we printed out the English information regarding pension from a site for expats and directly from the National Pension Scheme's website.  We did the math and figured out that our "taxes" taken out of our paycheck don't add up to 4.5%, which means that we most likely haven't been paying into the plan and neither has Yoon's.  As we were walking home, Ian decided to call Montana back, hoping to end things on a lighter note.  Montana insisted on referring to our pension as "taxes" and stated that pension was "not a must."  The US has an agreement with Korea (France, Germany, Canada and Hungary have the same kind of agreement and other countries have different stipulations) and it is legally required for both parties to pay the tax.  While it's our fault for never having run the math before, Yoon's was in charge of any and all deductions from our paychecks.  If it hasn't been paid by either of us, I'm not sure there's anything we can do.  If that's the case, we've lost another $2,500.

This nightmare just won't end.  I miss my country.  At least I understand its flawed labor laws.

Can someone tell me the feasibility of taking legal action from the US against a foreign company?  I'm going insane here, I need options.

So tomorrow we will have a meeting at noon with two people who want nothing more than to screw us over in every way.  It'll be our first face to face with Julia since she canned us.

Good night.


  1. Wow. This is f**king nuts. These people are absolutely out of line and criminals. They lure in American teachers, who are in-turn treated like garbage when all you guys are doing is working your damnedest to give these kids a foot-hold in a language. Jesus.
    I want to be there for you guys and whatever you choose to do, we are here for you.
    I want you to fight this, but will the ends justify the means? I can't imagine how you guys are feeling right now.
    I love you both very much!

  2. I feared this. It is apparent that this company has not been legal from the beginning, they not only have been breaking Korea laws, but they are breaking contract laws with the USA. I know it won't be easy but I think you call the American Embassy or who ever would enforce such contracts and see about a lawsuit. At least look into it. Montana knows the school is screwed, why else would he be so irate. I am so sorry sweetie. What ever I can do on my end I will. Just let me know. I will make phone calls for you guys to make inquiries. Just give me the information. If you would like me to contact a lawyer I will do that too. It may be worth at least checking into.

  3. On the legal stuff, I haven't a clue what the Korean law is, and it's entirely possible that there are exceptions to the pension payment requirements. For example, I'm not sure whether in the US, foreign nationals on temporary visas have to pay into social security, as opposed to getting it refunded. It would not surprise me if there were an option for the school to just not pay the stuff in the first place if they say file something that says you're temporary and foreign.

    Meanwhile, by the same token that it may be harder to get at Yoon's when you're back home, it's definitely true that it is also harder for them to do something to you.

    I would therefore advise caution... Check out what your options are about bringing legal action while you're still there, but unless absolutely necessary (like because of deadlines or something), I wouldn't actually start anything til you get back home. For one thing, it may ruin your European vacation when the powers that be say you have to be there in mid-august for a deposition or something.

    Also, using a lawyer in the US is most likely not going to be worth the money. Doing stuff internationally probably requires some specialist. Seeing as you didn't pay your part of the pension tax in the first place, at least the most you lose is Yoon's part.

    On the philosophical side, I say don't let the feeling of being super pissed and wanting revenge take over your life, tie up your time, and make you miserable for the rest of the summer. This isn't your final retirement nest egg lost to an Enron schemer.

    PS: Seeing as I'm catching up on reading the blog, maybe you've already resolved this in more recent postings...