I am currently wondering whether I am still bound by the clauses in my employment agreement since Lavasoft decided to not pay me anymore. Actually it has not been “Lavasoft” but a very specific person from the Lavasoft management. I will not disclose her name at this point, though. Let me call her Ms. X during this post.
When I started at Lavasoft back in September 2005, my intention was to stay in this company 3-5 years if possible. This enthusiasm was put to a test over and over again and somewhat gone in February 2006. The way one was treated as an employee after a while was just disgusting. Imagine you are told you were to fly to Göteborg, Sweden (the head quarters of Lavasoft AB), next monday but you neither got the flight plan nor the ticket nor the airport from where the plane was to depart until twelve hours before you got to start?! With two hours minimum to the next airport by car. Wouldn’t that be ridiculous? “Well”, you say, “mistakes can happen” … sure, but this happened more than once, almost systematically, although the flight dates had been usually assigned at least one week in prior.
But back to the issues that caused my resignation. In January I was told that I had to move to Sweden – one week in prior! It had been clear before that I would have to move to Sweden at some point, but under the condition that an apartment would be found – no one talked about a sub-contract when getting a room in an apartment. But let me not complain, the person – Maria – with which I lived there during that time was very nice and made that stay in Sweden bearable. Also the colleagues at Lavasoft – except for most management members – have been very nice people. So I was told to move to Sweden (yes, moving with all that stuff you usually need) one week prior. So I got my ticket for the ferry from Kiel to Göteborg (Gothenburg) tried to fix whatever stuff I could fix with the German bureaucrats and miserably failed. This would show up in mid-February, but I’ll get back to that. So on 2006-01-31 I took the night-ferry heading to Göteborg together with my car and the stuff that I deemed most important. Next morning I was picked up at the harbor by Steve who already had worked at Lavasoft when I started in September. Soon I was told that I was expected in the office this morning for a full working day. There was not any time planned for me to unload the stuff. So Maria and Steve helped me to unload the car in a hurry. Somewhat before 11:00 we arrived at the office. Guess what: while I had to move to Sweden arrange and fix all stuff within one week, management had not deemed it necessary to arrange me a simple table and chair to sit and work. So I had to sit down in the conference room where I was disturbed every now and then because a phone conference or something else was scheduled in exactly that room. How could they “forget” about my arrival? By the way: I was not told a single word by Ms. X about me being awaited in Göteborg. It was silently expected. Yes, that is how you treat your employees …!
To spice up the above information, I was told that Swedish law grants two days off-work if you move to your new work-place inside Sweden. A single day was granted to me – easy, since I cannot read the Swedish laws because I lack the lingual abilities  … although, one can not talk about “granted”, I just wrote the reason into my time sheet.
So work at the office location started for me. Except for the fact that I was more often approached by other employees who had questions about this and that related to programming or IT security, there was no real change in the way I worked. I just got slowed down by the disturbances from the surrounding. But that’s just how it is and on the other hand it speeds up work for those getting quicker answers to the questions, so I see it as a give and take 😉
Too many things happened until the end of February to write about all of them – and many of them are potentially covered by the NDA in my employment agreement, anyway. So I will stick to what is personal or publicly available. For several reasons I handed in my resignation on 2006-02-28 to Ms. Z, my direct superior, acknowledging the six month termination period set in the contract. “Wow”, you say, “that’s a lot”. Indeed it is, but remember the introduction of this post – when I started at Lavasoft I was sure to stay in the company for 3 to 5 years unless the company decided otherwise. So six months seemed reasonable at that time but seemed like hell when I handed in my resignation.
Except for some trouble receiving my salary for January due to the change to a Swedish bank account, Ms. X also had forgotten her promise to pay the German health insurance so that I was “kindly” reminded by my former health insurance to pay for the last few months plus a “little” fee of ~90 EUR in mid-February. So I had to pay immediately from my account to prevent further damage. And we are talking about some thousand euros! Even that was solved relatively soon after my resignation since I was seemingly expected to withdraw my resignation. But because I had made it clear that I would not discuss about this topic before I even receive what was due (salary of Januar plus health insurance) Ms. X was in a hurry to conform with this pre-condition for a discussion. So I got back the money I laid out for health insurance (not the fee!) and received my January salary ~14 days late. Starting 9th of March I signaled that I would be willing to discuss a withdrawal of the resignation. As always Ms. X had no time so I decided to wait for a reaction. And yes, at that time I was still willing to stay at Lavasoft under only one condition (which also falls under the NDA so I cannot state it here :-(). After one week of waiting I was approached by Ms. Z, whom I had given my resignation the day I resigned – Ms. X had not been in the office on 28th if February. She told me that the resignation was still on her desk and that, if I was serious, Ms. X would take the resignation as final if I handed it in now – which I just did. Since the resignation was brought to Ms. X’s attention on 28th of February, this was the start date of the termination period. Consequently I should be still a Lavasoft employee, right?
In the week before Easter there was something that required urgent response from the Lavasoft developers and since I was the only one without family bonds in Sweden I agreed to do overtime during Easter. To explain the term overtime: this is time you work in excess and get paid while flextime is the time you work in excess to compensate for free time that you can take off occasionally. I had estimated it could take one up to five weeks to present a reasonable solution – which was not taken very serious by Ms. X (my estimate was dismissed and replaced with a deadline on Easter Monday). At least I worked over the Easter weekend and was then suddenly told on Tuesday that I would have to take two weeks of my flextime (more than 4 weeks worth). This seemed very strange alone because the last week everything was presented as sooooo urgent and I was one of two devs assigned to that problem. Well, I was happy because it meant for me that I would make it to the birthday of one of my grannies. But it still seemed suspicious anyway …
At the end of the two weeks, which also happened to be the end of April, I called my superior, Ms. Z, to ask whether I was expected back when she already was mumbling about relieving me from work duties. This got confirmed a little later by a phone call from her and to be sure I called another superior. So all was set, I was suspended from work duties. To get my stuff and fix everything in written I drove back to Göteborg the next Monday. Now I have the paper from my direct superior at that time, saying I am suspended from my work duties and that the termination period ends in August. But oopsie, I got not even paid the full amount for April! How is that possible? Well, first of all the money usually comes almost one month after the month being paid for is over (for April on 25th of May) and second when the salary was due it had all been set (my suspension). So enough time for Ms. X to make up a new plot. After I found out that the sum was cut by Ms. X personally I reminded Lavasoft (addressed to Ms. X personally) to pay the remainder of the money. I also offered to cut the termination period by two months so that I would have the time to get a health insurance here in Germany but Lavasoft would spare two months worth of salary. No response. Ms. X likes to play “dead (wo)man” … I guess a multi-millionaire can afford this …
Meanwhile I had a lawyer send a reminder to Lavasoft, but no response either. In Germany this would have severe consequences, but Sweden seems a little more lax in these regulations?! However, I am now going to sue Lavasoft to get the money that they owe me. It would not have been a problem if Ms. X would have agreed in a timely manner to cut the last two months (July and August) of the termination period, but no response at all was received (neither by me, nor by the lawyer). Suing them will be quite expensive, since in Sweden the lawyers charge by time (unlike Germany).
By money “that they owe me” I mean especially the more than 2 weeks flextime plus more than two weeks vacation and the overtime over Easter left unpaid. The time I still had “on credit” would have been enough to pay until 9th of June if I would have been dismissed and notified on 2nd of May, ignoring any termination period. And I have not even been paid fully for April. “Thanks”, Lavasoft …
So what do you think? If Lavasoft breaks the contract like this, am I still a Lavasoft employee? “De jure” I am until the end of August. Yap, … there you go. You have that prestigious company and then you have the way the company treats the employees. I am not the only one, but that’s yet another story …
The trial against Lavasoft will cost a lot of money before I can get the owed money. If you are a user of my programs or just want to help me out, you can send money to my
REMOVED DETAILS. Please contact me for the account details. Thank you in advance for any support you can give.
PS: Oh, in the Finnish and Swedish Wikipedia there have been edits – allegedly by some former Finnish employee – writing about the bad treatment of the employees. Although being objective in that respect, I agree that this does not belong or fit into an encyclopedia! Here’s the Swedish logged entry (first paragraph):
Lavasoft AB är ett svenskt företag som främst gör antispionprogram. Bolaget är grundat i Tyskland i mitten på 1990-talet. Lavasoft AB har idag sitt huvudkontor i Göteborg samt en filial i Helsingfors. Lavasoft är känt om dålig behandling av arbetar och i våret av 2006 företaget beslutade att sluta alla funktioner i Helsingfors.
(Source: here), translation below)
Lavasoft AB is a Swedish company, primarily making an anti-spyware program. The company was founded in Germany in the mid-1990s. Lavasoft AB nowadays has its head quarter in Göteborg with an office in Helsinki. Lavasoft is known for the rude treatment of its employees and decided in spring 2006 to shut down all activities in Helsinki.
The history of the English entry has been cleaned up and the Finnish one is not understood by me, but the discussion there shows, that Lavasoft does not agree with the description. That is also why I quote the entry here, since it may “magically” disappear from the history list once Lavasoft puts pressure on the Wikipedia foundation. It also reinforces my above statement that I am not alone …
 Actually I managed to learn reading Swedish quite well during the overall time since September 2005. No way talking, though …