Everyone has heard of an employer who stole from their employees, such as retailers who pay them straight commission to work in the showroom, but intellectual property theft gets less attention because it's still legal. Technically, if a company hires someone as an employee then they're allowed to take all of his or her intellectual property during his or her employment, and then eliminate the position. California's labor laws don't penalize them for it. Obviously it's a major con job that deserves legal action, both in terms of compensatory damages and penalty fees.
A few employers take intellectual property from candidates during job interviews, and so they never pay a dime for it. There are employers who give candidates a job offer, make them work, and then say that they never hired them.
Intellectual property theft: "Let's hire her to get her to teach us everything and then we'll lay her off because we can't afford her."
In April 2006 the housing market crash in California was about six months old and cabinet shops were suffering. Precision Cabinets and Trim in Brentwood, CA. was on the verge of laying off 30% of their employees, but they had a rare opportunity to hire a drafter who had worked at Savage Designer Cabinets in Rocklin, CA. If Precision could learn how to build cabinets like Savage then they would make a lot more money, and so they hired me as a designer even though they couldn't afford it, and two weeks later they laid off 30% of their employees. I brought them an $85,000 cabinet order and I handled the project myself. I didn't know how to use their CAD program, Cabnetware, and so I learned just enough to draft elevations. One of them is shown on the left. It's a wet bar. My supervisor, Tim, wanted me to train him and so I did to the extent that I could. He had limitations because he had never been a drafter. After I completed the design process, I handed the project over to the supervisor of the drafting department, John. He had never seen such cabinets before and so I trained him, too. I handed the project over to him and the very next morning Tim and the HR manager laid me off because the company couldn't afford to pay my salary which was $45,000 plus benefits.
My finished wet bar
This is my project after it had been built and installed. The customer is Mary Conkey in Granite Bay, CA., and her interior designer is David Leinberger from Launch Interior Design.
"We'll get her to teach us how to design and sell the most impressive entertainment center ever, and then we'll lay her off."
More intellectual property theft. This is my customer's entertainment center which I designed and drafted. Longtime industry insiders know that Precision Cabinets and Trim had never done anything like this before 2006. It was out of their realm. It's extremely clear that someone else did it.
My entertainment center
This is my entertainment center after it had been built and installed. The customer is Mary Conkey in Granite Bay, CA., and her interior designer is David Leinberger from Launch Interior Design.
"I'll give her the job, give her a start date that's three weeks away, and in the meantime I'll interview other candidates."
There are employers who give candidates a job offer and postpone their start date in order to give themselves more time to find other candidates. That actually happened at Floorcraft, a family owned and operated home improvement center at 470 Bayshore Blvd. in San Francisco. Terry Black offered me a full time job in the kitchen design department and he put me on the sales floor until the store closed which was about three hours. Afterwards he said that he was going on vacation for three weeks and so I'd have to wait until he returned to start working there. In the meantime, he wanted me to meet my future coworkers at the Burlingame store. After he returned from vacation he didn't contact me, and he ignored my voice mail and email. I finally reached him and he said that he planned to hire someone else whose 20/20 (CAD) experience was more recent.
"I'll hire her, make her work, and then deny that I offered her the job."
There are employers who give candidates a job offer, have them work, and then say that they never hired them. In 2012 Hugh Vanho offered me a job as a copywriter to create an advertising campaign for his new cabinet showroom, and also as a designer once the showroom opened. We met at Starbucks to have a brainstorming session and he told me that he wasn't going to pay for my work because it was a free sample to apply for the job, after he had already hired me a week or two earlier.