My daughter has been working for a bully. He plays associates against each other and always wants to be the good guy. She has told me that he talked to one of her colleagues(peer) about her, and the colleague came to her and let her know about it. She signs in and out on a time sheet, and if she does not take lunch, the company automatically assumes she did and deducts an hour from her day. She recently went to a trade show and was verbally told before going on site that she would only be paid for 8 hours a day.

She ended up working as a non- union laborer in a union environment, was asked to lift and perform physical duties beyond “normal” activities and was reamed out by someone, who is sleeping with the boss, but is not my daughter’s direct report.

She also worked 12 hour days with no lunch breaks, and was told that it was just the way it is at trade shows. It is clear that expectations were not explained, since she is a new associate who has only been working with this firm since mid June. She is not an exempt employee. She does not supervise anyone. She was put in harm’s way. These are just the highlights of her toxic employment, do you have any words of wisdom for her???

Thanks for your help!

Start looking for a new job. I know, I know, there should be some way to solve the problems of a really bad work environment. And there is, it’s just that it’s going to take a long time and if Senior Management isn’t on board, well then it ain’t happening.

In the mean time, if she is a non-exempt employee (as you stated) then what they are doing is highly illegal. The fines for not paying overtime are

  • Fine of up to $1000 per violation
  • 6 months jail time
  • initial $10,000 fine for willful violations
  • The people to contact are the Department of Labor.

    Now, some words of caution. She needs to make sure she really is a non-exempt employee. Supervising people isn’t necessarily the trigger that makes people exempt. I don’t know what she does, but if it’s more “professional” in nature, she could be exempt, even if she has to punch a time card.

    But, assuming she is eligible for overtime, there are just huge violations all over the place. Making people work off the clock will get you in a whole host of troubles.

    Because she was told, “that’s just how it is,” she can probably expect little sympathy from her boss if she complains. But, go ahead and do it. Ask for the overtime pay owed.

    If she is unionized (sounds like she is, since you mentioned non-union activities)tell her to meet with her union rep and file a grievance.

    I wish I had a warm and fuzzy response, or some magic words which would “fix” the problem, but I don’t. The reality is, these people violating all sorts of laws and (probably) union contracts. She’s going to have to be direct and file complaints.

    Most importantly though, she needs to either decide that this job is worth keeping despite all the problems or start looking for a new job. Even with the union and the DOL involved, it may take years to resolve and get owed back pay. And she may never get the back pay. The other reality is that bosses don’t appreciate being ratted out and her life may get worse before it gets better.

    I feel bad leaving on such a depressing note. Did you hear the one about two chickens and a pancake that walked into a bar?

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  1. There is more to the story…she is not part of a union- she was the non- union laborer and was working in a building that hires union workers for carpentry and electrical work. Since her boss did not disclose that to her, she went in, very naive, wanting to execute a job, only to be approached ( not strong armed, but could have been) by a GROUP of union carpenters, once but twice…in NY. She was very scared and very apologetic, but can you image if these union guys were out to prove a point???
    She has since left the job, and her boss has made her out to be a scapegoat ( in an effort to make himself look good in his remaining employees eyes) It’s amazing the things that still go on illegally! BTW- thanks for your words of wisdom! And confirming the thoughts I had about this!

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