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Ok, here is my predicament (kinda long, sorry)

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  • Ok, here is my predicament (kinda long, sorry)

    So for a little over a year I worked at a vet clinic. As a groomer. I was paid strictly on commission. They just recently let me go a few weeks ago. Which was fine by me by the way they treated me.. Anyways.. This is what I need opinions on:

    A few days before Christmas, I had a cat come in for a lion cut under sedation. The Dr. sedated the cat, and I went in back to shave him. After about 20 minutes, give or take, he was done. A vet assistant at the clinic, was bathing two big, black labs in the tub in my grooming room. She talks a lot, so she talked the entire time while doing so, so I was waiting to bathe the cat, who was slowly, but surely waking up. I waited around 10-20 minutes for the tub to be free.

    So finally, I start bathing the cat. He was still down, just kind of twitching. So I proceeded with the bath, and I would have skipped force airing because I think it wakes the cats up even more. But I have been yelled at before for not doing that on sedated cats. I started force airing him, when he started moving around, I went to grab his scruff when he somehow shot up to full alertness and sunk his teeth into my . I sorta stood there for a few seconds just completely blindsided by what had happened. The bite was so deep that it took a while for it to start bleeding. So I was just staring down at these deep ass holes.

    I went and told a vet assistant the deal, because I didn't feel like going anywhere near the cat anymore, and she told me how to clean my bite, explained it will probably get infected, etc. She had the Dr. look at it, and all he said was "hmmph" and walked away. They gave the cat more sedation, and made me finish drying him. Of course the bite was on my right hand, so that didn't help things.

    After I left the clinic, I was driving to my other job, and it was throbbing. And when I got to my other work I realized there was a hole where one of the cat's bottom teeth had sunk in. So I didn't get to clean that one out right away. At the end of the day, my felt horrible. It was practically 3 times its normal size, red all around it, and I couldn't bend it. It hurt like hell even when I wasn't using it.

    I ended up going to the emergency room that night, this whole ordeal happened to be on the day of a very bad blizzard. My parents had been at a Christmas party down the street from my apartment, so they drove me to the hospital since they have a SUV. We get there, when I check in they ask where it happened, and as soon as I said work, they explained my work HAS to cover it. Regardless if I clock in, or get paid by commission. They asked for the clinics name, address, phone number, all that. Saying the bill would be sent to him.

    They didn't run any tests, just looked at my finger, gave me a vicodin, and wrote some prescriptions. So I knew the bill wouldn't be very high. They diagnosed my bite as infected, that had developed into Cellutitus.

    A few months go by and during this time the Dr. never mentions anything to me about it. I had figured his business insurance covered it. I did however notice, he was being quite mean to me. At least, disrespectful whenever I talked to him. But I just shrugged it off. A week before he let me go, he told me I needed to get insurance for grooming. Business insurance. Just said I needed to have it. And nothing more.

    Well, today, I get a bill in the mail, first one I ever got from the hospital, saying I have an outstanding balance with them. The emergency room visit only cost $125 too. So this means, he told the hospital he didn't want to pay for it. But it happened at his clinic, he sedated the cat, his employee made me wait for the tub, and half of my earnings go to him.. ?!?

    What do you guys think I should do?! I am already pretty much jobless, am already in heaps of debt, and even though it's only a hundred some dollars, I really can't afford it. Has anyone else been in a similar situation, working at a clinic?

  • #2
    Employee or Contractor status? THAT will make the difference as to who legally has to pay it. IF you were employed, not 1099 at the end of the year, THEY are. IF you get a 1099 he is indeed correct. YOU need insurance.
    <a href="http://www.groomwise.typepad.com/grooming_smarter" target="_blank">My Blog</a> The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. –Mark Twain

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    • #3
      Were you an employee? Did they take out taxes from your checks? It does not matter how you were paid, commission or hourly or salary it is just a way to pay someone. If you were an indepentent contractor, you should have had your own insurance. I am suprised they just did not pay it really, for $125!
      What does a dog do on it's day off?

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      • #4
        Contact the hospital and ask what has transpired since your trip to the ER that triggered the bill they sent you. If you were an employee of that clinic, they are required to carry worker's comp insurance. That is the law.

        Check your pay stubs from the place. That would list what they withheld.

        If they did not have you covered by WC insurance, they could be in a truck load of legal trouble. Far more trouble than paying your medical bills for the cat bite. And well they know it.

        I'm guessing the good doctor might have been saving some bucks by not covering you as should have been done and then perhaps told the hospital you were an IC. That would also explain his blunt suggestion you get some business insurance.

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        • #5
          If you were an employee then it's the clinics responsibility if they gave you a paycheck and took out taxes it's on them that's what worker's comp insurance is for. If you paid your own taxes then you should have had business insurance. However if they made your appointments told you when to work and what they expected you to do your weren't really an IC. That's a separate issue that you should take up with an accountant.

          Good luck
          "I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt,
          and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts." - John Steinbeck
          www.wagmoresalon.com

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          • #6
            I am an employee of the animal hospital I work at. If we get bitten, we are SENT to the clinic across the street, whether we want to go or not. If you are an IC, then that is different, you are stuck with the bill.

            He can't just walk in and say, "You need to get insurance," and leave. If he's saying you are an IC, then he needs to go a little further than that. Ridiculous.

            Tammy in Utah
            Groomers Helper Affiliate

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            • #7
              Yes, I do believe unfortunately I was independent. But he knew this was my first grooming job ever, and maybe should have explained these things better to me. I never signed anything when I first started there, in December of 2008. Only when it was taxes time, two months ago, he made me fill out a 1099. Nothing else I had to fill out or sign previous to that.

              What I don't understand is why he could never say anything to me about it, when he got the bill. It was never busy enough there for me to afford any type of insurance along with having to pay for rent for my apt. and other stuff.

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              • #8
                In that case I would think you will be responsible for it. Kind of sucks. Were you truly an independent contractor? That would be my next question. Do you know that you have to pay all of your taxes on the money you earned?
                What does a dog do on it's day off?

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                • #9
                  just curious...if a client writes a check are they writing it out to your business name or the clinics? Does the front desk staff schedule your appts? DO you have your own phone number?? If not you are not an IC

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by baddog View Post
                    just curious...if a client writes a check are they writing it out to your business name or the clinics? Does the front desk staff schedule your appts? DO you have your own phone number?? If not you are not an IC
                    Not only are these facts applicable, but if the clinic makes your appointments for you they are deciding what dogs you do and when. In which case you are an employee. The good part of going to IRS with this info is the clinic will be responsible for your medical bills. The bad part is you will owe back taxes. Why not have a talk with the clinic's accountant? I'm willing to bet they will influence the vet to pay the medical bills just to prevent you from going to IRS.
                    "We are all ignorant--we merely have different areas of specialization."~Anonymous
                    People, PLEASE..It's ONLY a website!~Me

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                    • #11
                      It sounds like you were bitten before you filled out the 1099 form. I am assuming you had to fill out a *different* tax form at the beginning of your employment there so they knew how much/little to take out of your check. Also, what baddog said.

                      Well, you are learning the hard way. Some vets are jerks. I work for great vets who support me.

                      Tammy in Utah
                      Groomers Helper Affiliate

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                      • #12
                        Sorry about the bite! We've all been there, and know exactly how that feels!

                        I would seriously question that IC status. That vet seems to have an awful lot of say in how you run your grooming business. If you are truly an IC, I don't see why he would have any say in how you groomed that cat, whether or not you force dried it, etc. Sounds like you have been getting a lot of direction on how you will do things, and that makes you an employee, not an IC. The fact that they paid you rather than your clients paying you really makes this suspect. If you didn't set your own appointments, determine your own schedule or talk to your clients via your own phone line, I would highly suspect you were not working as an IC.

                        Since you filled out a 1099, I am assuming they were not removing taxes from your checks. I would suggest you consult with an accountant on this matter. If you were an IC, then you were self employed, and there are forms and taxes you are going to have to take care of. If you were actually an employee, you are still going to owe taxes, but they will be less and your employer will be responsible for some taxes as well. Self employment taxes are substantially higher than employee taxes.

                        If you truly are going to be an IC, you do need to get insurance to cover emergencies as you are responsible for your own bills. Odds are you would still be responsible for the $125 as that would probably just go toward your deductable. The good thing is that the doctor will take payments (they really don't have any other choice in the matter.) If you end up responsible for this bill, pay them $25 a month until it's done.

                        Now, as a side note, make sure your next job is as an employee. Until you can afford health insurance (in case something happens to you) and liability insurance (in case something happens to a pet or a client) you can't afford to be an independant contractor.

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                        • #13
                          It really sucks that they put you through this. I was bitten by a cat fairly badly a few weeks ago and ended up having my hand in a splint for almost two weeks. It's still very weak and I have a darn hard time scissoring. The scissors just bounce around all over the place! Anyways, my situation was a bit easier to figure out then yours. My vet hospital is part of the VCA-Antech corporation so when I was hired I signed the usual employee hire papers. They schedule my appointments, all payments go to them, I get a check from them every two weeks. I'm also purely commission. So when I got bit I went to the ER right away, told them it happened at work, and I got Labor and Industries paperwork to fill out. Or, I should say, my fiance filled it out for me since my right hand was out of commission. L&I took care of everything for me. I got some other paperwork that my hospital asked for specifically but for the most part I didn't have to do anything but go to my doctor appointments. The situation you're in is kind of ridiculous and its more then a bit rude for this guy to treat you this way! I mean, besides how it looks on him as an employer, it just looks bad on him as a person! I wonder what he'd do if one of the techs at the hospital got hurt.

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                          • #14
                            I am confused about something.....the person that does the CONTRACTING fills out the 1099 and gives it or sends it the person CONTRACTED to do the work. Everyone is correct in that they cannot MAKE you do anything except show up if you are an IC. There is a paper form the IRS you should have filled out when hired called a W-4 and usually an employment SSN Verifcation page as well, IF you are an employee. If you didn't you may be in trouble come tax time with having to pay in a LOT that you are not expecting.

                            Who buys shampoos? Equipment? Bandanas? Collects money? You need an accountant either way at this point. AND you may need a labor attorney.
                            <a href="http://www.groomwise.typepad.com/grooming_smarter" target="_blank">My Blog</a> The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. –Mark Twain

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                            • #15
                              Contact your local court house and ask if they offer free legal advice at their legal library. This is not legal aid but a group of lawyers that donate time to help low income people.
                              My opinion is that no matter what your employment status is he is responsible for any injury that happens in his place of business. I can see where he would not be responsible for paying your SSI or workers comp but an injury is something different. Sounds to me that this vet is taking advantage of the fact that you are inexperienced about these matters.

                              Good luck

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