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My fiancé is being abused by his employer who is also his brother in law


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C (27M) and I (26F) have been dating for two years and are recently engaged. Seven years ago, he and his best friend launched a startup in college. Five years ago, they merged under his bother in law’s company.


Everything had been going well until this year, they ran into some bad clients who won’t/can’t pay, among other things. All three people has to take a paycut this year as a result. They did not have the proper process in place regarding collecting payment and learned the hard way.


T (the boss) is in charge of finances and their salary. He lied to my fiancé and his best friend about their company savings being better off than reality. (However my fiancé and his best friend did not verify his words either so it’s also their fault, although I don’t know what kind of access they have).Two months ago, when the company started doing worse, all 3 people decided that they would give it a tentative 6 months to try to turn it around. If not then they would close out and get corporate jobs. Last week, my fiancé decided he could not do this anymore and told T he was going to work on sending resumes out now instead of in 6 months.


Yesterday, my fiancé approached T to discuss closing out and T said he had no money. T said he used all the money already to pay out his own salary and didn’t show any signs of remorse or sympathy, not even a “sorry.” I’m not sure how much T owes the other guy but he owes my fiancé about $40K. T told my fiancé that if he wants the money he will have to chase clients for it. My fiancé was shocked. He told me what happened right away and has not said much since. He doesn’t know what to do. He does not express his feelings well/much in general and also feels that there’s no point to be upset. His sister, married to T, whom C is very close to also knew all this. So two people who C is very close with betrayed him.


Later yesterday, T called C yelling at him to do some work for him. He used profanities, belittled him, called him stupid/retarded, laughed at him, and finally said “maybe I should just stop paying you.” T has always spoken (yelled) to C that way. It wasn’t until C and I moved in together a year ago that I became more aware of it.Whenever I made a comment C just replied that it’s just guys talk. T is 11 years older and knew C since he was a baby. However it wasn’t until yesterday when I heard T mentioned money that I felt something was very wrong. Today, T called again and did something similar, threatening not to pay my fiancé his salary if he did not do what was told. I found this abusive and manipulative. I decided to talk to my fiancé that evening, to gauge his feelings on the situation (since he’s not very expressive).


Well I ended up talking to my fiancé earlier than planned because my fiancé commented “After I get a job, I’m going to keep working for T part time to side money so I can buy you a diamond ring.” It was very off to me that he was still ok working with T.


I later explained my feelings about the situation to C. I told him that T is abusive and manipulative, specifically verbally abusive, emotionally manipulative, and manipulating him with money. I also said that both T and C’s sister knowingly and willingly took his money. And, that I always viewed T this way but I’m not sure how he felt. I told him that I’m not trying to convince him of anything or offer advice, but if I sensed something was wrong I would tell him. As usual, C did not express much but to my surprise agreed. But he did not have much feedback and said he doesn’t know how to handle the situation. He wants his money which is why he can’t just quit on the spot (he has no problem getting a great job and already has some offers btw) although he wants to and is tired of T. He acknowledges that T “screwed him over” in his own words. I can’t tell if C just realized that T is abusive or if he’s always known and accepted it. But it appears to me like he didn’t know better. C has had internships at corporate before, but other than that this is the only professional environment he has ever experienced.


I told him that what I would personally do is to agree on a payment plan with T, put it in writing, and file it legally, if possible. I said this knowing he is his brother in law (otherwise I would have just said “sue him”). He replied that it would be hard but I could tell he was thinking about it. I also told C that next time T is disrespectful towards him, call him out and demand that he speak to him with respect. I told him to stand up for himself. (I’m not in C’s shoes so I’m sure it’s harder than said).


Working with T is severely wearing C out, on top of job hunting stress working on interviews and cover letters. But I know he doesn’t want to give up the money (obviously). He feels trapped.


C is a very loyal, straightforward, and kindhearted person. When we first started dating, we witnessed quite a few “friends” take advantage of him (or try to) as he is a giving person and sometimes “too nice” (such as leaving him with the bill at dinner). He was always the go-to person when people needed a shoulder to lean on. However it quickly began to wear him down (he absorbs peoples emotions). Since then, we’ve gotten better at filtering these kind of people out. He is an ESTJ personality type.


During this time, I’m there when C needs him. Otherwise I let him handle his business. I think that’s the only thing I can do and also the best thing to do. Although he doesn’t express much, when he’s hurt or stressed he tends to attach to me more which I can feel significantly now.


Does anyone have any suggestions for us/him? Whether it’s to handle the money situation or overall situation with T, or how I can help him or just be there for him. (I am sure that C would not pursue legal for the sake of his family). I really don’t know what to ask, but very much wanting some genuine feedback on how to move forward. Thank you all so much!

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You say he would never take legal action so I really don't know what to advise you. I can't really understand why a person would just roll over and allow anyone to just run off with $40,000. That could be his future child's college tuition, and he just let someone else have it.


I would tell him to start recording conversations, pay stubs and transactions, everything. Then I'd be getting a lawyer. And I sure as he|| would not consider continuing to work with the thief. Family or not, this guy is pathetic and needs to be set straight.

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Have you contacted the labour board in your jurisdiction to see if anything that T has done is a infraction of the labor laws?


I think T spending your fiancé's money to pay himself is possibly a fraud charge in the making but I don't really know... The labour board may be able to give you better advice.


Make sure you're telling your fiancé what you're doing though as he very well may tell you to leave it alone and let him handle his own business.

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