Employee Pretends To Have Accepted Boss’s Explanation Of Why They Weren’t Paying Him Overtime, Calls US Department Of Labor
It is our legal right to be fairly compensated for the work that we do. Underpaying employees is not only unethical, but it is also a violation of labor laws.
So when Reddit user UpperMacungie learned that the store he had worked at developed a whole scheme to intentionally cheat him and his colleagues off of their hard-earned money, he decided to do something about it.
The man asked himself what scammers, such as his bosses, are most afraid of and figured it was the authorities. So he tipped them off and hoped for justice.
Image credits: Alex Green (not the actual photo)
Image credits: Mikhail Nilov (not the actual photo)
Image credits: U********
One of the main reasons why people stay in sub-par working conditions, according to a recent study, is that most significantly underestimate what others are earning in similar jobs elsewhere. Researchers argue this holds back people from seeking better-paid jobs or higher pay for their current role, and that it particularly disadvantages the lowest earners. They also suggest that if workers were more aware of salary disparities, at least 10% of low-paying jobs would simply not be viable at current pay rates.
Although people are increasingly aware of the benefits of salary transparency, as UpperMacungie post illustrates, we remain reluctant to talk about pay openly. In one study of a large international finance firm, 89% of respondents said they would be uncomfortable asking a colleague what they earned, and 38% would not share their own salary, even if they would be paid a small bonus to do so. Add some corporate greed and you get quite a toxic environment.
“Management was oppressive,” UpperMacungie told Bored Panda. “The owner was a terrible bully who neither knew nor cared about art and art supplies. Horses were the family’s main schtick. He especially didn’t care about his employees. He was extremely suspicious of us stealing from him. We wore aprons and he’d pop into the store and ‘audit’ things in our pockets, like pens and those little glasses cleaning cloths, and ask us for receipts for them. Seriously.”
The Redditor applied for work there because at the time he really needed a job and knew that art stores were searching for employees with art materials knowledge, which he already had.
“Our store had a big glass front—I suspect it had once been a gas station,” UpperMacungie recalled. “[The owner] drove a big Cadillac and we’d see it parked ‘out of sight,’ where he’d spy on us to see if we were goofing off, or pocketing tubes of fancy oil paint at >$100/ea.”
“He hit on all the women. He thought all us men were gay and he subtly mocked us in ways that would’ve sounded supportive to an outsider, ‘UpperMacungie, are you and your boyfriend going out for New Year’s Eve?’ ‘I know guys like you are good with flowers, what kind should I buy my wife?’ … Thank Christ the boss didn’t work at our store.”
The owner’s son was the one in charge, and “he was a lacrosse-playing frat boy out of an Eighties movie. He wielded his power by jerking our hours around or assigning unpleasant tasks like moving heavy clay all day, if he was in a mood. We called [him] ‘Junior’s Scapegoat deJour.'”
“We suspected that our office manager, let’s call her LaRue, was either the owner’s mistress, former mistress or had a lot of blackmail fodder on him. She was handsomely paid, we assume, based on her car, clothes, jewelry, etc. LaRue worked whatever hours she wanted.”
As his story went viral, the original poster (OP) provided more info in the comments
UpperMacungie can only guess as to how the hours-averaging policy began. “I can speculate that the atmosphere of bullying, and streamrolling us with boilerplate about ‘company policy’ this and that, when added to our knowledge that a few really smart, great employees had worked there over a decade, helped.”
“The ‘Don’t discuss pay or you’re fired’ policy cemented it. I guess that since it had always worked, they thought it always would. Then one day LaRue was condescending to me,” the Redditor added. “Sometimes I’ve wondered if LaRue, being somewhat of a decorative placeholder, with the IQ of a clay bust, even knew it was illegal.”
Tamara Montag-Smit, assistant professor of management at Manning School of Business, University of Massachusetts Lowell, US, said her own research suggests this reluctance stems from people’s concerns about “what it might mean for their relationships with others.”
Overall, however, Montag-Smit has observed a “slow trend” towards greater transparency around salaries in recent years. “Even the idea of sharing things like the median pay or the highest-earning employee just weren’t really something that HR departments would talk about 10 years ago,” she explained. “But now it seems to be much more the norm.” And we should thank people like UpperMacungie for it.