It is a violation of federal law to fire an employee because he or she filed for bankruptcy. Under the same law, your employer is not allowed to discriminate against you in any way due to a filing. They can’t do things like lower your pay, or give you a new position with less responsibility. In most cases, though, your employer won’t even find out about your bankruptcy case unless you tell them. Your employer may actually look at the filing as a positive step as you will be under less stress and able to be a more productive employee.
Although the law protects you from being fired due to filing, it doesn’t necessarily protect you if your employer has other reasons to terminate you, such as tardiness or absence, or work performance. However, if you were to be fired shortly after you filed, and you suspect that your bankruptcy case is the reason, you may have a case for being illegally discriminated against due to your bankruptcy situation.
Some clients have a long standing relationship with a doctor or dentist and may want to continue to pay them after their bankruptcy is over. Technically you have no legal obligation to pay a friend/family member or service provider, however you may pay them if you so choose. Just be sure not to pay them before the bankruptcy filing as that may be seen as a preference by the trustee. Note however that you must list this person or entity on your petition because technically they are a creditor and the bankruptcy code requires you to list all of your creditors as of the date of filing.
Many people have a favorite store in which they feel a certain loyalty toward. If you have a zero balance on a store credit card you do not need to list them as a creditor in your bankruptcy so that they will not have notice of your filing unless they do a random credit check. If you have a balance you must list them on the petition. The trustee will ask you at the meeting if you have listed all of your creditors and you must be able to answer honestly. However, if you choose to pay them back after the bankruptcy is final, that is your prerogative. Clients are generally advised not to pay back the store credit card as most clients will be able to open a new account with the store after their bankruptycy is closed.
Once a bankruptcy has been filed the automatic stay prohibits creditors from attempting to collect a debt without court order. Creditors must file motions with the court to terminate the automatic stay. Once the creditor has been notified of the bankruptcy either by phone or mail, they may not contact you in any way. Their only option is to hire their own lawyer to file a motion and get permission from the judge. If no court order is obtained, you should contact your Seelinger Law attorney immediately. If the action was egregious in nature, your attorney will file a motion to hold the creditor in contempt and to collect monetary sanctions and attorney fees. These violations will be assessed on a case by case basis. The important rule for you to take away is that once you have retained your Seelinger Law lawyer (which happens well before filing, in the beginning stages); the stress of dealing with your creditors will be handled by your attorney allowing you to focus on other aspects of your life. Remember the underlying goal of Seelinger Law: to make this process as simple and painless as possible.
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