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Service Letter Instructions – Follow these closely
NOTE: If you came to this page without reading my Service Letter article, please read it now.
Print these instructions. You should see a “Printable Version” link at the top of this Post. OR you could click your Browser menu as follows: File, then Print. OR use your mouse to highlight just the instruction text and then Right-Click and select Copy, and then you can Paste the instructions into Windows Notepad or Wordpad and Print the instructions from there.
Address the letter to your manager at your former employer (if he is still working there and is still a manager). Use the manager’s full name and title, such as “John Smith, Director of Operations” or “John Smith, Warehouse Manager” etc. Use the address where the manager actually worked when he was your manager. If he is no longer working there or is no longer a manager, use the next higher level of manager in your chain of command. If you can’t think of any manager that had authority over you in your job, or you can’t think of any manager located in Missouri, call me and I’ll try to spend a few minutes with you and see if we can figure out who best to send the request to. If all of your managers were located outside of Missouri, then you might have no choice but to send the request to a manager outside of Missouri. You can always send a request to the company’s Registered Agent in Missouri, if they have a registered agent. Sometimes it’s hard to find a proper recipient for your request.
In a factory environment, the Plant Manager is a good choice to send the Request to. In an office environment it’s harder to figure out who your “manager” or “superintendent” really is, because there are so many different organizational schemes and titles floating around.
TRAP: Who is (or was) your “manager” for purposes of the Service Letter Law? First line supervisors are sometimes called “managers” (but they are commonly called “Leads” or “Directors” these days). Some courts may have a problem with your Request if it was addressed to someone who lacked the authority to hire and fire, or who lacked control over who got hired or fired. Consider calling a lawyer to talk about who to send the Request to if you are not sure. Generally, I would suggest that you send it to the first “Manager” above you in your chain of command who had the power to hire and fire, or had the power to approve of who Human Resources decided to hire or fire.
Human Resources often has a lot of control over who gets hired and fired, but Human Resources is typically not your “Manager.” A person can be your “Manager” even though their actual power to hire and fire is limited to approving of who Human Resources wants to hire or fire.
First line supervisors don’t usually have such power to approve of hiring and firing. If in doubt, send Requests to two or more people. For example, send a Request to the first person above you in the chain of command who carries the title of “manager” and also send a Request at the same time to the next higher person in your chain of command.
If the person whom you believe to be your “manager” carries the title of “Supervisor” or “Lead” or something similar, there is a significant chance that such person may not qualify as a “manager” under the Service Letter Law, and your Request will be legally meaningless.
Please recall from my Service Letter Article that the Service Letter Law allows you to also send a request to the “Registered Agent” of the corporation. If you decide to also send a request to the Registered Agent, then I suggest that you address the Registered Agent’s request form as follows: “To Mary Jones (or whatever the Agent’s name really is – it could be another company’s name), as Registered Agent for ABC Corporation” (or whatever your company’s name really is), and send it to the address given to you by the Missouri Secretary of State. If you call the Missouri Secretary of State and they tell you they do not show a current Registered Agent for your former employer’s corporation, then just send the request to your former manager and forget about sending one to the Registered Agent (unless your lawyer tells you otherwise of course).
I recommend that if you send a request to the Registered Agent, then you should also send a request to your former manager.
According to the Service Letter Law, your Request must “make specific reference” to the Service Letter Law. How do you make a specific reference to the Service Letter Law? I suggest that you make a specific reference to the law by saying in your request something like the following: “I request a Letter of Dismissal, also known as a service letter, under Missouri Law # 290.140.” My blank Service Letter Request Form uses similar language. If you decide to make up your own form, I suggest you use similar language as well.
Your former employer will have 45 days to send you a reply, from the date that your Certified Mailing Receipt shows that the employer received your Request. Most employers reply within a couple of weeks. If you don’t get a reply after about 50 days, you may call me if you want and we can talk about it.
Feel free to call my office if you have any questions about my Service Letter Request Form. Caution: I can’t give computer tech support. Please check with any teenager if you need help in printing things or using files you downloaded.
Now I will provide a link to a blank Service Letter Request Form that you can use if you want. If you instead want to send your own letter, I suggest you follow my instructions as stated above. As for the exact language of your request, you will probably be safe if your request says:
Maintained by Attorney Phil Willoughby
Founded by Tim Willoughby, Esq. (1959-2013)
Phil is a Missouri employment lawyer who is licensed to practice in Kansas and Missouri, and primarily takes cases in Saint Louis and Kansas City. He is a member of the Missouri Bar Association and Kansas Bar Association. Additionally, he has practiced in the United States Federal Courts of Missouri in St. Louis and Kansas City. He has also practiced in the Kansas Federal District Court in Kansas City, Kansas.
Missouri Bar Website (To view the directory of lawyers).
Phil Willoughby, Attorney
Licensed in Missouri and Kansas
Kansas City Office:
GUNN, SHANK & STOVER, P.C.
9800 NW Polo, Suite 100
Kansas City, MO 64153
Google Map of 9800 NW Polo, Kansas City, MO 64053
St. Louis, MO Office:
"THE CHOICE OF AN ATTORNEY IS AN IMPORTANT DECISION AND SHOULD NOT BE SOLELY BASED ON ADVERTISING.
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