Wage theft sounds like something that sleazy men in back rooms perpetrate to further oppress their employees. While that does happen, a lot of wage theft is unintentional.

A new study from the Economics Policy Institute (EPI) says that employers short their employees by $15 billion a year, which means that millions of people are paid less than minimum wage for their work. This is, of course, illegal, and everyone reading this article knows this, so why on earth would your company be in violation? Well, wage theft isn’t always the case of a corrupt boss attempting to take advantage of employees. And paying below minimum wage isn’t the only form of wage theft.

Most businesses in the United States are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which determines not only minimum wage but when an employee is due overtime pay. You could be violating this law

EPI identifies 7 different types of wage theft. Here’s how you could accidentally be committing one of these crimes.

To keep reading, click here: Businesses Steal $15 Billion a Year from Employees. Is Your Business One of Them?

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Don’t Let Running a Small Business Run Your Life

by Evil HR Lady on May 19, 2017

Running a small business can be challenging. Unlike at a big corporation, there aren’t thousands of other people to do the work—it’s you and a handful of others. As a result, many small business owners work constantly. While working hard is par for the course when running a small business, you’ll find your business and your life run better when you take a break.

Hesitant to step away for an hour to go to the gym or have a nice lunch away from your desk? Don’t be. Taking a full hour for lunch and managing your work-life balance properly can help you run a better business overall. In fact, stepping away from your desk—even for a short walk around the building or a cup of tea—can actually give you more stamina and fewer aches and pains. Here are three other reasons you should take a break:4

To keep reading, click here: Don’t Let Running a Small Business Run Your Life

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I’m an advice column junkie. Carolyn Hax, though, stands above the rest of the advice givers and when she told someone, “Please promise me this: that you won’t marry anyone until you’re ready to approach your own life as if you’re its CEO,” I knew these were wise words for everyone. I’m not going to talk about marriage (although I agree with her advice on that), but I am going to talk about your work life. Are you your own CEO?

This doesn’t mean you have to run your own business. If you want to, and that’s what is best for you, perfect. Do that. But you can still be your own CEO even if you’re not working for yourself. What does that mean? Well, who is making the decisions?

Kristen Pressner, Global Head Human Resources for Roche Diagnostics, shared a story with me about returning to work after having her third baby.

She was feeling angry and overwhelmed with the long days and meetings at off hours, both early and late in the day. Working full time with a new baby and 2 toddlers at home can do that to you. But she asked herself: “Who am I mad at? I’m mad at [my company]. But who exactly? My boss?” no, she realized, “He’s been awesome. Who am I mad at? Walls, carpet? Then I realized: I’m mad at me–I have no boundaries.”

To keep reading, click here: How to Approach Your Own Life as if You’re Its CEO

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From 2012 to 2015 I worked in a hotel doing almost everything back of the house. I was fired in 2015 right before Christmas for basically trying to take money. Times were very hard (although I know that’s not an excuse) at the time I was the only one working while my husband stayed home to care for our daughter who has a chronic health condition. Since then I’ve had interviews here and there but nothing ever really stuck mostly because of them finding out about the fire. So my question is should I take them off my resume and lie about them entirely? I’ve thought about this but my dilemma would be that that’s where I have most if not all of my experience in the food and beverage industry. I have a manager who used to work there as well who is willing to vouch for me if need be as a reference and I have been using him since, but I’m very conflicted on my next steps as I need to find a job now to help my husband pay bills. I would greatly appreciate your opinion. Thank you and look forward to your response.

There’s no easy way around this. You tried to steal (it doesn’t sound like you were successful), and you got caught and fired, and now it’s been more than a  year since you’ve worked. All of this adds up to a big mess. But if you leave off this job, you’ve got to explain what you were doing from 2012 to the present, which is a long time.

Since you have a child, if he was born in 2012 or earlier you can say, “I was home with my child, and now I’m ready to hit the work force!” But, since all your experience is during this time and that’s a lie, you’re likely to get busted. Also, I’m not advocating lying.

Please note, a resume is a marketing document and you don’t have to put jobs on there that don’t make you look good, but leaving 3 years off your life off will raise questions and then you have to answer them honestly and then it’s worse. So, I recommend leaving it on your resume.

I also recommend not waiting for them to find out about the firing but be up front. “I was in a bad situation financially and I made a huge mistake. Clearly, I was in the wrong and I would never, ever do such a thing again. It was the worst decision of my life. But, I’ve learned from it and I’m willing to move on. My former manager is happy to be a reference and will tell you that this was not typical of me.”

The thing is, there will be a lot of people that still won’t hire you because of that. Can you blame them? But someone will.

Additionally, here is where you need to put your network to the test. The manager who will give you a reference–can you ask her for advice on where to apply? Is her current company hiring? What about other former co-workers who know your work? Can you connect with them?

While we all make mistakes in life, career mistakes often hit us the hardest because hiring managers aren’t willing to forgive past errors. Being honest and upfront about these errors tends to be the best way to get over them.

If anyone has any success stories, I’d love to hear them!

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HR Was Reckless with My Salary Information

by Evil HR Lady on May 17, 2017

HR sent me a letter of congratulations for my promotion along with my new salary and job description in an intra-office envelope.  The kind that is “closed” by a flimsy little string and re-used again and again.

Are you getting the picture? Intraoffice.  Addressed to me.  That’s it.  The letter was not in a sealed envelope nor was it marked “personal and confidential”.  In short, ANYBODY could open it, read it, place back in the envelope and placed on my desk. No one would be the wiser.

I was out of the office for one week on vacation when this was sent.  I’m absolutely certain this was read by my colleagues. It is customary for us to read intra-office mail when someone is out just to see if there is something of import that needs to be handled.

When I got back from vacation and saw the flimsy envelope on my desk, I was horrified!!!  I called up the HR person to ask why on earth would MY PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL information not be in a SEALED envelope?!!

The snooty little dumb [squidlip] copped an attitude and said in her Dept no one reads each other’s mail.  She did not see anything wrong with what she did.   I told her I didn’t care what happened in her Dept because my information was handled in a reckless fashion and I was certain that my colleagues now know my salary thanks to her unprofessionalism.

Do I have any legal recourse?
Shouldn’t HR be held accountable?  This was not a mistake.  She made a conscious decision to just throw my personal salary info in an intra-office envelope for anyone to read.

First, take a deep breath. Now eat some ice cream.  Now take another deep breath. Feeling better? If not, have more ice cream, and possibly an entire bag (large) of Peanut Butter M&Ms. (Food is my go to for stressful situations, YMMV.)

Okay, first things first. Congratulations on the promotion and salary increase! That’s awesome! Good for you!

Now, forgive the HR person and let this go because this is not a big deal. Unless you are some sort of senior executive with an admin that routinely opens your mail, the HR person had no reason to believe someone else would open inter-office mail addressed to you. And even if you were a senior executive with an admin that routinely opens your mail, putting it in a sealed envelope and marking it “confidential” probably wouldn’t have prevented the admin from opening it unless you gave him specific instructions not to. Most executives, in my experience, expect their administrative assistants to handle confidential things all the time.

You have no idea if anyone did open it unless they tell you that they did. Which they didn’t. So assume they didn’t. But what if they did? And now someone else in your office knows your salary? Then what?

Then they know your salary. Presumably they know you got a promotion, and presumably, they know a raise comes with that. Unless you know that your salary is unfair because the CEO is your dad or something, your exact salary isn’t going to come as a shock to anyone. You were X before, and so are three other people in your department, so now that you’re a Senior X, everyone is going to assume you’re making 5 percent or so more than the X people. It’s not a big deal.

Frankly, if I ran the world, I’d have everyone’s salaries posted on the company intranet. It makes it difficult to discriminate on the basis of race/gender/whatever when information is public.

But even if I was a huge proponent of maintaining management power by keeping people in the dark about salaries, this would still not be a big deal. Just ask HR to use a sealed envelope in the future, or join the 21st century and send you information via email. If you raise a ruckus on this, you’re likely to get a big crazy mark next to your virtual file. This will have an effect on your career at this company forever more. So, let it go.

There’s also no legal recourse because unless the letter had health information or your social security number on it, there’s no law protecting it. Your company can legally put your salary on a billboard if they’d like. They don’t, and they won’t, so don’t worry about that.

And once again, congrats on the promotion.

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Sheryl Sandberg wrote a heartfelt mother’s day post on Facebook, detailing the things she would like to see to help mothers in the workforce. As a single mother, Sandberg certainly understands some the challenges working mothers face. But, what she doesn’t understand is basic economics.

She writes:

To start, it’s long past time to raise the federal minimum wage. Two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women. Raising the wage would reduce pay inequality and help millions of families living in or near poverty.

It sounds good but raising the federal minimum wage means you raise the cost of everything. Which strongly impacts the additional point she makes (2 paragraphs down):

And we need affordable child care. Child care for two children exceeds the median annual rent in all 50 states. How are parents supposed to work if they don’t have a safe and affordable place to leave their kids?

Indeed. Child care is a huge problem for working moms and dads. It’s terribly expensive. Do you know what will make it more expensive? Raising the minimum wage.

To keep reading, click here: What Sheryl Sandberg Doesn’t Understand about Minimum Wage and Childcare

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A few years ago, sandwich shop Jimmy Johns hit the headlines with the news that they required low level employees to sign non-compete agreements. They later dropped this clause after a public outcry and the New York State Attorney General declaring the clause “unlawful.” That should have been the end of low income non-compete agreements, but sadly, it’s not.

Yesterday, The New York Times, ran an article documenting the stories of some blue collar workers who have been practically destroyed by non-compete agreements. This story struck me particularly hard:

In 2011, Timothy Gonzalez started working as a labor hand for a company called Singley Construction. He was 18 years old and already a father, and the extent of his education was a high school equivalency test. In other words, he needed money and did not have many options.

Mr. Gonzalez started at a little over $10 an hour in a job he described as “pretty much shoveling dirt.” Nevertheless, he signed an employment contract that included a noncompete clause, enforceable for three years within 350 miles of Singley’s base in Columbia, Miss.

To keep reading, click here: Your Non-Competes Aren’t Saving Your Business, They are Destroying Lives

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In 49 states (Montana is the exception) employment is at will, which means you can wake up one morning and say, “I’m going to fire Bill.” That would be legal, as long as you’re not firing Bill because of race, sex, etc. But, that’s not a great way to do business and no one that I’m aware of really does that.

The gold standard is the Performace Improvement Plan (PIP). This is usually 60 or 90 days and gives the employee a chance to succeed.

But are there times when you should forgo the PIP and kick the employee to the curb without warning?

Over at The Balance, I talk about When and How to Fire an Employee Without a PIP.

 

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The Five Types of Moms You Meet in the Office

by Evil HR Lady on May 13, 2017

Mother’s Day is on Sunday, so naturally, we think about our moms. But have you thought about the types of moms you run into in the office? Every office seems to have at least some of them. Here are five you probably know.

1. The Office Mom.

The Office Mom may or may not have children of her own, but regardless, she thinks she is your mother. And your co-workers’ mother, and your boss’s mother, and probably even the clients’ mother.

She’s the one who cleans the break room, even though it’s not her job, but makes sure you know how she’s doing it as a sacrifice because she cares. She asks you how your love life is going and if you say it’s going poorly, she’ll give you counsel and advice until your ears bleed. She’s got advice for everything from nutrition to fashion to how you should spend your weekends. If you try to move away from the child role, she’ll feel hurt. Fair warning.

To keep reading, click here: The Five Types of Moms You Meet in the Office

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How a Card Game Can Unify Your Office

by Evil HR Lady on May 12, 2017

One of the reasons people don’t get along at work is because they don’t really know each other as human beings. They see each other as functions, and by golly, Finance is always thwarting HR’s plans to make employees happy, so if you work in finance, I’m going to dislike you. (Just kidding, I like everyone.) If you can get people talking, you can help avoid some of the conflict that comes just from daily work life.

Strategy and design agency Sub Rosa developed a card game called Questions and Empathy that aims to get people talking by pushing them out of their comfort zones. Adweek describes it as follows:

The full deck, which is somewhat reminiscent of a deck of tarot cards, includes 49 question cards and seven “empathic archetypes,” with seven questions for each archetype. The seven different archetypes are somewhat abstract, with names like inquirer and alchemist. The questions are designed to push people out of their comfort zones and get them to have honest, open conversations.

To keep reading, click here: How a Card Game Can Unify Your Office

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