Here I will discuss my personal experiences, thoughts, and impressions of my former employer who I will not name. This personal account, while only encompassing employment at one company, has been indicative of my experience in the corporate world of the U.S. and the unethical business practices that have become all too common.
When I first started at the company, I was excited about it as I got the job through a group of friends and was happy to work with them. The management also seemed like they were genuinely interested in contributing to my growth within the company. I was taken under the wing of their best worker within the department that I was to work in and I was happy about this opportunity. For a time, I did feel like I had some sense of personal fulfillment from work as it was the best paying job I had ever had. I had no intention of making a career out of this job as I viewed it as a “college job” so I was content in the position I was in. As the months turned into my first year, I had received several accolades for my work ethic from management and seemed well liked among the other workers.
After my first year had passed, I requested a transfer to another store near the city that I was going to move to. While my transfer request hit some snags, it was approved by one of the stores in the new city. I arrived at the new store and went about my job as usual. The first sign of trouble I ran into at the new store was that they provided one less break within the same time frame of a shift as the previous store I had worked at. After that shift, I put in an application to a different company. I continued to work and did quite well for myself. I received more praise from management for my peerless work ethic and so I was happy to be at a company that showed appreciation for the effort I put into such menial work.
During my first summer at the new store, I sustained a mild concussion and had to miss three weeks of work because of it. The workers compensation for this injury was about 1/3 of the pay that I would have gotten had I been able to work my usual hours. Realizing that the company was willing to short-change their workers in such a time of need as with an injury sustained on the job, I lost a lot of respect for the company. When I came back to work I was doing well and continuing to get praise for my work from the management. As the holidays came around, the management would schedule part time workers at full time hours and over several weeks in a row. Despite this practice being legal, I wasn’t fond of it at all despite the money being good from the overtime. I know there are a lot of people that would love to have full time work and the benefits that come with working a 40-hour work week, so the fact that this employer was willing to exploit their workers and have them work 40+ hours a week without giving any sort of benefits was a huge disservice to the workers that had been with the company for much longer than I had and who had probably asked for full time status on numerous occasions.
After the holidays and going into my second year with the company I also noticed that there would be some workers who would work 8- hour shifts and not take the required half hour lunch. At the previous store that I had worked at, the management was adamant about people taking lunches as, according to them, it was a violation of the law to not have a lunch in with an 8-hour shift. I looked up the law and found that employers are indeed required to give lunches for shifts of 8 hours or more. I hesitated in filing a complaint with the labor relations board as I didn’t have another job lined up. This hesitation only angered me because even with the laws set in place that are meant to “protect” workers from their employers, there was still that anxiety of backlash from the company if it was ever found out who had initiated a complaint.
The final straw was when I found a few news articles reporting that the company had violated labor laws in several aspects. At this juncture, I decided to take a huge risk and leave the company under the guise of finishing out my last semester of college. I wanted to file a report with the labor relations board about the lunch break infractions, but looking up the law again, I found that it had changed to allow the “infractions”. Disgusted, I decided not to act. These little things that added up culminating in my discovery of the larger picture of the various unethical practices of the company and my departure made me realize just how much room for improvement there is in the U.S. as far as worker protections. As it stands right now, there is little to no protection for the average U.S. worker and this lack of protection often leads to a subdued work force that will tolerate any abuse from an employer.