I need your valuable advice to take appropriate action against my previous employer who has apparently cheated me off my severance package. Let me explain what actually happened.
I joined a Singapore headquartered private limited software company in Chennai as Technical Consultant in December 2012. The compensation offered was Rs. 6.5 lakhs out of which there was a component called "Performance Based Incentive" for Rs. 50,000/-. When I asked for details about this component, the General Manager told that the component is not Performance Based but is paid as an Annual Bonus upon completion of a year's service. It was a verbal agreement and then I accepted the offer.
Upon completing 6 months of probation, I completed by Confirmatory Appraisal and was confirmed by the Employer as a Permanent/Full Time Employee in June 2013. In December 2013, I completed my Annual Appraisal and got positive feedback from my General Manager and was promised a hike in salary and change in designation to Sr. Tech Consultant during appraisal discussion.
Incident #1: In the last week of December 2013, I was on a telephone conversation with a colleague from our Singapore office. He was giving unsolicited advice to me about whom I need to approach for my leaves/permissions while we were discussing some other official matter. I told him politely that I was already approaching the right people in the right way for leave approvals. But that person was repeatedly telling me that I was wrong and I need to do what he was telling. Then I informed him that he was not my manager for me to listen to him and that my actual manager doesn’t have any issue with my approach for leave requests. He got aggravated upon listening to that and he asked me to reply to me in email. I said OK. Later, he sent me an email giving unsolicited advice on leave request procedure. I replied to that email saying "Thanks for the feedback and as I said on the phone, you are not my manager and hence you cannot tell me whom I need to approach for my leaves".
Few hours later, our CEO called me and shouted at me for sending such an email. He was not giving me a chance to speak at all. Finally he said that if any seniors give advice, I shouldn’t say anything back to them. I said OK. Later the CEO sent an email to the involved people saying that the matter is resolved and that he gave feedback to me.
Incident #2: In the first week of January 2014, the internal IT team took my laptop to replace its battery. In that process, they asked me to give my login ID and password. I denied sharing my logon password as I believed that it was against the Information Security Policy and my personal Integrity. For that, one person from that team shouted at me in a disrespectful and rude way. I approached the IT Manager and he replaced the battery without me disclosing my username and password.
Once the work was done, I approached the IT Manager and complained him about the IT Team member's rude and disrespectful behavior and requested him to prevent such things from happening in the future. He said he will take care. But after a few minutes, he called me for a discussion with the General Manager and the IT team member. I educated the GM about the incident and the behavior of the IT Team Member while he and his manager were also present in the conference room. The IT Team people didn’t accept their fault and were arguing for more than an hour. At the end, I asked the GM for a resolution. The GM gave me assurance that he will take action against the person if he behaves in the same way again.
The next day, to document the incident, I sent an email to the GM thanking him for settling the dispute and for assuring to take action against the IT person if he repeats the same behavior. I had the IT Team Manager also in loop. After a few hours the IT Manager replies to the email saying that it was my mistake as I didn’t share my password and I am not a professional blah blah. I replied to that person saying "The matter is already resolved by the GM and warned him not to use remarks like unprofessional and all. And asked him to contact GM if he has anything to say on the subject."
The GM was actually on leave on that day and the CEO called me to his cabin a few hours later and asked me to leave the job. CEO said that everybody in the company has a problem with me so I should leave. He was not giving me a chance to speak at all. He was firing me. But he asked me to discuss the final settlements with General Manager after he comes back to office.
On 13 January 2014, the GM was back in office and he called me for a meeting. In the room, he said that the company is laying me off as my attitude and approach is not compatible with the Organization. He said that the company doesn’t have any issue with my work at all though. He asked me to resign my job or else he will terminate me.
I told him I would resign but since it was not my choice and it was only the company that is forcing me to resign, i need some financial support. I asked for 2 months’ salary and the Annual Bonus Rs. 50,000/- which was due for payment. The GM agreed to that and gave me a piece of paper to write resignation letter.
I wrote my resignation letter stating the conditions that were agreed between me and the Company viz. payment of salary for the following 2 months until I find another job, payment of the Annual Bonus Rs. 50,000/- due, and giving good conduct/positive feedback to any background verification by prospective employer about me, etc.
The General Manager read it and signed the letter saying "Accepted". I got a photocopy of the letter for my own records and I left the job.
I got a call from the GM the following week and he told me that as per my offer letter, the notice period was 1 month and hence he will not pay me 2 months’ salary but only 1 months’ salary. And then he told that the Rs. 50,000/- is mentioned as Performance Based Incentive and hence i won’t get it at all.
I have a copy of my resignation letter with conditions of my severance package signed & accepted by the General Manager of my previous employer. Also I have phone call recordings of my conversations with him as well.
The day they forced me to resign was 13th Jan 2014 and they paid me salary till 12th Feb 2014 and have given me Relieving Letter also mentioning 12th Feb 2014 as my last working day. I waited to get my full and final settlements which were also done. I have applied for PF withdrawal also through my previous employer.
Recently I got a job and the Background verification is also done positively. So now I want to take necessary action against my previous employer who has breached a written severance agreement and cheated me money to the tune of Rs. 90,000 (annual bonus due + 1 month salary). Please share your valuable advice and point me in the right direction to recover the dues and also possibly some compensation/maintenance for the mental agony & harassment.
Thank you for patiently reading the entire Essay. I'm grateful to all of you!