Coronavirus Got I Laid Off, Boss Called Me Back A Week Later To Tell Me He Wants Me Part Time, For Way Less Money, And He Will Contest My Unemployment If I Say No.

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Corona: So a couple of weeks ago my boss laid me off. I was a salaried estimator/project manager/IT specialist for a concrete company. I got the unemployment paperwork into the state and approved, and got the notification that they were sending it to my boss as per usual.

Less than a week later, my boss called me back to let me know that he needed me back to do a little bit of project management work for him here and there (<10 hours a week spread out over several days), and he was going to have me do estimates on a commission basis in the meantime (previously part of my salaried work).

Now, because I have to drive anywhere between 45 minutes to 4 hours to get to a job or estimate site, and my drive time is unpaid, this means that I will be spending almost all of my time working for almost nothing, and half the job I was previously paid for will now only pay if I make a sale.

I told him that his offer was bullshit, I never signed any paperwork changing my job duties and he’d literally just laid me off, and he told me that he had work for me, and hadn’t done the unemployment paperwork, and “He wasn’t going to let me just sit back and collect unemployment and not work.”

He mentioned it would be easy to contest it as there was no official paperwork made up yet (I didn’t know this as he’d laid me off over the phone, assumed any necessary paperwork would reach me by mail or would already be done), and he was considering doing so because there was some kind of small business loan they’re offering now for people who DON’T lay off their staff and he wanted to apply for that.

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If I agree to this I’m basically going to be working a 40-50 hour week for $200, where I was previously making $1300, which is still incredibly small for a project management position, and in all honesty I feel like I’m way better off spending that 40 hours revamping my resume, brushing up on some skills or taking a class, and applying for better jobs, even if I probably won’t be getting one until all this Covid-19 stuff blows over.

Personally, I feel like I’ve been somehow blackmailed into slave labor due to this corona, but there’s no way I’m going to be able to find another job right now, and if he contests my unemployment I am royally screwed.

Is this legal? Like, what the hell kind of recourse do I have here?

Edit: thread is locked so I can’t reply, but thank you for all of the advice. I’ll get in contact with a UI lawyer immediately.

This is happening in the great state of Tennessee.

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