Need Legal Advice/information....

Updated on January 26, 2007
R.J. asks from Weymouth, MA
7 answers

I work in retail. I have worked for the same company for 9 years. I'm a part-time employee. The position started out as a management role, but in the last year, they removed the management part of the position, although I still do all the same management work I did before. My District Manager told me I'm not the typical person in my position; most people work the 20 hours they're required and go home, investing nothing. I work over 30 hours a week typically and I do everything. I work my tail off to do an excellent job. I've even run the store when there was no store manager.

Now that it's the holidays, the mall is open extended hours. I can't get there any earlier than 9 am because I'm a single mother and I am the one who puts my daughter on the bus. My District Manager called me tonight to tell me that she's going to instruct the Acting Store Manager to put me on the schedule anyway because there is no one else to do it. (Did I mention we're short-staffed managemement-wise?) In all the years I've worked for this company it has never been a problem. Now suddenly, at the time they should be trying to keep me because we haven't been fully staffed management wise in over a year, I'm really thinking my DM is going to tell me I'm fired.

Does anyone have any information on who I can talk to about labor laws and/or legal information in this regard?

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So What Happened?

Update: Thursday, 7.54 p.m. - District Mgr. said she would look at the schedule to give me more time to get someone to take care of my daughter, but turns out (of course) they need someone on Monday and that's all there is to it. If I don't show up, I get written up. I also got a verbal warning for going in on Tuesday (my day off mind you) to help out without getting prior approval. Um it's Xmas in retail...are you serious? Why are they out to get me? Why do they want me gone? I can RUN that store, more successfully than it's been run, but right now I choose to go to school so that I can stand on my own two feet for real. I just don't understand why I'm being treated this way....and it hurts so much. I've gone outside my job description to help out my team, and now going outside the lines is getting me punished?? I just don't understand the betrayal...I was always taught that if you work hard and do your best, you'll be rewarded. Is this my reward???

More Answers

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J.B.

answers from Lewiston on

I was in a similar situation about four years ago at a retail store--not "technically" a manager, but doing all of the work of a manager without any of the benefits (insurance, vacation, etc.). A lot of businesses will do this in order to save money. I don't believe it is illegal (although I'm certainly not an expert), but it is certainly unethical. It is probably illegal, however, to threaten an employee with termination if they do not work a shift that they already told you they couldn't work. If at all possible I would suggest getting out of that situation as soon as you can! It's obvious that they don't care about/respect you and they will not stop bullying you. Also, if you have gone "above and beyond the call of duty" before they will expect it from you all of the time. I would suggest that if you do confront your employers to try to do it when their are witnesses around, so it won't come down to your word versus theirs.

I am going to do some research today and see what I can find out for you. In the mean time here is the contact information for Maine labor issues:

For more information about Maine Employment Laws, please contact:
Maine Dept. of Labor
Wage & Hour Division
45 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333-0045
Phone: ###-###-####
Fax: ###-###-####
TTY: (207) 1-800-794-1110
Email: [email protected]____.com
Anne Harriman, Director

You can get free legal assistance from Pine Tree Legal Assistance (www.ptla.org/) or the Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project (www.vlp.org/) if you meet their income requirements. It wouldn't hurt to email/call them just to ask a question or two even if you aren't planning any legal action.

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R.R.

answers from Providence on

All you have to do is call the Board of Labor, or perhaps call your local unemployment office and ask them. They are very helpful. It looks to me like the laws are on your side in this case. He cannot fire you for this, if he does you have every right to take them to court. Just make sure you tell the Store Manager that you cannot cover those hours because of your situation if the manager does not know already. Reinerate with the Manager all the long hours and dedication you have had to this company for all these years and that you still plan on being dedicated, its just impossible for you to cover that early. Maybe there is a way to compromise on the situation.

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J.K.

answers from Boston on

I would simply call the Labor Board in your area and explain your situation. Get everything on the records, so that if you do in fact get fired, at least you will have a leg to stand on. It's unfair that people get treated this way, but it does. Get the proper people on your side, do everything by the book, and if need be, at least you can claim unemployment until you can find a job where you can be appreciated for your skills.

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H.W.

answers from Providence on

R.,
Because you live in Mass, you can check out the information listings posted on the Labor & Employment Page at www.mass.gov/?pageID=mg2topic&L=3&L0=Home&L1=.... The headings that might be of interest to you are 1) Employee Safety, Rights & Concerns; and 2) Wages.
If you would like to compare the state vs federal regulations, you can go the federal US Dept of Labor website at www.dol.gov. You can find this information in the navigation column on the left (on the home page). Federal overrides state.
Please let me know how you make out.

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D.V.

answers from Boston on

Honestly, it sounds like what your employer is doing is legal, but definitely mean and unethical. If you are paid salary, rather than hourly, they should be giving you overtime pay after 40 hours, though. The only people who don't get overtime are those with a management title.

When you start a new job, you usually get a paper that states your employment is "at will", which means you can quit or get fired for any reason at any time. The only things they can't fire you for are race, gender, religion,etc., or for taking the Family Medical leave act or military service.

If they value you as a worker, they will work with your schedule. Otherwise, maybe you should start looking for a new job.

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R.M.

answers from Boston on

R.,

You sound like a dream employee! It's pretty hard today to find people who are hard-working, smart, and motivated. I'm building my own business and would love to talk with you live sometime to see if you might be interested in partnering with me. Please contact me if you have any interest.

R.

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J.Z.

answers from Boston on

put everything in writing R.!!! good luck honey. go get them. and then after you win. quit!! lol

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