Friday, January 22, 2010

When bad bosses get worse.

My roommate, Rachel, has health problems, ones that are not competely cured by having a regular schedule, but the predictability of a regular schedule means she can more easily handle flare-ups and be better able to take care of herself.

So in the grand tradition of lousy workplaces, her bosses refuse to give her a regular schedule. She has asked them repeatedly. She has givn them doctor's notes that recommend she have a regular schedule. And they keep blowing her off, either ignoring her or outright lying to her. They said at one point they might be able to reach a compromise by making her schedule a little more regular but not completely so, and then they didn't, instead making it more irregular. They said that there was no way, after Christmas, they'd have enough hours to give her a regular schedule and that there wouldn't be enough part-time hours available for people to cover her old shifts if she switched her shifts.

So far, the part-time hours have equalled the full-time hours since the beginning of January.

(I should explain at this point that part-time and full-time where she works don't actually correspond to how many hours you get. Full-time people get some insurence benefit and a guarantee of at least 28 hours a week. Part-time people get no benefits and no guarantee, but when the hours are available, still will work 40+ hours in a week anyway.)

As if this weren't bad enough, her bosses are now saying that all full-time staff must work one Sunday per month, and they "don't care about [their] reasons" for not being able to do so. Yes, that quote comes from one of the higher-ups in the store, who didn't take employees aside to tell them this but instead told them right on the floor, where they couldn't speak out against it because customers may overhear.

Now even aside from religious views, aside from the fact that the bus service in this city is lousy on Sundays, there is the law to prevent them from doing this. We've looked it up. In this province, an employee has to give their employer at least two weeks notice, written or verbal, about not working any given Sunday. And yes, saying, "I'm not working any more Sundays after two weeks from now" is valid. The workplace must comply.

Her work place (less-than-affectionately nicknamed "Hellers") is refusing to comply.

Most employees there know the law to some extent, but are still afraid for their jobs if they refuse to work that day. They know that technically they can't be fired or punished or discriminated against for refusing to work, but most of them insist that they'll just be fired for other reasons, even stupid ones. Even though wrongful dismissal is something they could sue the company for, they don't want the hassle, or are still too afraid for their jobs to do anything about their rights.

Not Rachel. Rachel has called the Labour Board to file a complaint against them, not just for trying to force them to work Sundays but also for ignoring health problems that she has repeatedly told them the consequences of. Where that's concerned, the law states that they have to accommodate her within reason, and it's not unreasonable for her to work all morning shifts throughout the week, or all evening shifts, rather than working a morning one day, night the next, morning after that, and so on, but with no preditability.

Since my own employment problems started last year, where I got laid off with no notice and was refused both severence pay and pay for the time I'd worked (still waiting for that, by the way), I've learned a lot about the labour laws of this country and this province, and it's astounding to see what employers will try to get away with, banking on people not knowing their rights under the law.

I can't call myself a crusader for the little guy, but I'm tired of myself and others putting up with crap from employers because they either don't know their rights or are too scared for their jobs to fight for them. So I beg you, if you work for somebody else, learn the labour laws that apply to you, don't let your bosses try to screw you over, and remember that you can't be punished for reporting them for doing something illegal. The reason bad employers do this is because other people let them get away with it. If you're mugged, the police can't do anything to help you unless you file a report. The same principle applies here.

Fight for your rights, or else you may as well not have any.

1 comment:

  1. Very informant post.
    I know what it is like to have to work different shifts and sometimes with no for warning.
    It's not healthy for anyone.