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my employer is fucking me over. what can i do?
January 17, 2013 2:46 PM   Subscribe

Do I have any recourse against my employer, who misled me about the terms of my hire, and can you recommend some resources to quickly find work and make him my ex-employer? I'm in Ontario, I am already a recipient of assistance (because I) do not get enough work to be eligible for unemployment.

When I was hired, I was told that I'd start part time as a trainee, and take over the fulltime position of an employee who was leaving for an extended (several month) vacation in a month. I asked for these terms in writing; it never happened.

I'm sure you can see where this is going.

After a few conversations with my employer about my hours not being enough, I had a really frank discussion and told him that if I didn't start receiving at least 25 hours a week, I wouldn't be able to pay my rent and would have to find a new job and leave this one. My boss made a lot of sympathetic noises and pretended to care and that he'd work something out for me, saying there'd be a lot more hours available soon. This was a few days ago.

Now the next week's schedule has been posted, and it turns out employee who left is coming back at full time hours starting next week, and my hours have been reduced even further. They make the schedule in advance so there's no way he wasn't aware that this would be happening.

I feel like my manager is trying to get me to quit (he overhired in the first place). I believe he just wanted a temp to cover the busy holiday season and this employee's absence, but my 3-month probation is up so he can't just fire me. I am choosing to believe that the fact that I'm the only black cashier and the only cashier getting significantly reduced hours is a coincidence, but it is hard not to wonder if that's a factor.

I'm already looking for another job. I'm handing out resumes and i've signed up with two employment agencies and have told them I'm willing to do basically anything I am capable, office-csr-cashier-fastfood-waitress-warehouse-factory-shovelling pig poop-anything. They're useless and haven't found me anything.

My question's twofold: 1) is there anything I can do about my employer screwing me over like this?

2) are there any avenues to find work quickly? I remember ads for a temp agency that could get you work the next day, but that was years ago and I can't figure out which one it was or if anyone still offers that service.
posted by windykites to Work & Money (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
1) no

2) pound the pavement. No one is going to find you a job faster than yourself. Go into every company you can find and ask if they are hiring (whether they have a sign up or not). You can do this. Make a goal of asking at least 20 places a day which you can do sinc you're not working many hours.
posted by dawkins_7 at 3:03 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


For the first question, you might try calling a local workers' center. They do a lot of work recovering unpaid wages owed but they may be able to help with something like this as well. At the very least they should know the local laws and regulations and be able to tell you whether you have any recourse. I don't know where you are in Ontario but the Workers' Action Centre in Toronto looks pretty active.
posted by enn at 3:07 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


It sounds like your supervisor is an unscrupulous person who also has good knowledge of labour regulations.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:21 PM on January 17, 2013


So, let's assume the worst: you were only intended as temp help, he lied to you to suggest otherwise, and now that he knows you'll leave if your hours aren't increased, he's reducing your hours to ensure your swift departure.

So yeah, no recourse legally, and now you know to get such things in writing. Here's the good news: with your reduced hours, you at least have a little money coming in while you use that extra time to pound the pavement, and you should volunteer to cover every other employee who calls in sick, even on short notice. The latter part will at least demonstrate that you're sincere about wanting more hours (which will be useful if our assumption of the worst isn't accurate) and will get you more cash. If he doesn't call you in to cover other people's illnesses, but calls other people in instead, that will also help to confirm the worst case scenario.

Good luck. Oh, and remember: changes are good that you are not being "fucked over", you're just an employee at a place where they don't need you. The thing is, it doesn't matter which it is, the results will be the same, so don't burn out your energy assuming the worst. Assume the best, and go get yourself a better job.
posted by davejay at 3:47 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Folks, let's keep things constructive please?]
posted by jessamyn at 3:47 PM on January 17, 2013


I am choosing to believe that the fact that I'm the only black cashier and the only cashier getting significantly reduced hours is a coincidence, but it is hard not to wonder if that's a factor.

This sounds like it's a job for phoning the Ontario Labour Board and saying all of this and asking if you have any rights. If there were a lot of people hired at the same time as you, and only you are (a) black and (b) getting few hours, it's not obvious to me that there's nothing you can do. Provincial regulations differ, so it's really worth going straight to the source.

The toll-free number is 1-800-531-5551. Once you know if there's something you can do, you can decide if you want to do anything.

I'd go around to all the temp agencies, and also to stores in your local shopping areas and restaurants there and ask everyone if they're hiring. In particular I see Tim Horton's hiring a lot of the time. But you want to physically show up at all these places.

Best of luck.
posted by jeather at 3:52 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


First, employment laws in Canada are nothing like in the U.S. I say this because many Americans may comment here based on their impression of what would happen to them at home, and that's not relevant.

The Ontario Labour Relations Board deals with unionized labour issues, not any employment dispute.

You need to talk to an employment lawyer. Ask about "constructive dismissal." But keep in mind that even if you're being terminated without notice, you might be entitled to very little pay in lieu of notice. In other words, as I understand it (I'm not an employment lawyer), he can just fire you, with appropriate severance, as long as he's not discriminating against you.

It's a different thing if you're being discriminated against, but you have to be able to prove that.
posted by Dasein at 4:18 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Regarding alternative employment (because I really don't think that on economic terms this merits a lawsuit), look for places that have high turnover: Starbucks, fast food, restaurants, bars. I hear good things about Starbucks, actually, as an employer. What's your skill set and experience?
posted by Dasein at 6:42 PM on January 17, 2013


It's a hard lesson but please review what you might have done to help facilitate a more favorable outcome.
Next time, if you need something in writing, then get it in writing before you start the job.
When you negotiate, don't negotiate with "I won't be able to pay my rent"... negotiate that the terms of your job offer are not being honored.
Your employer doesn't owe you a way to pay your rent, he/she owes you salary for work performed and hours on the clock.
Going forward...are there competitors that could use your skill set or is the entire industry going through a slow period? Did you enjoy working there? What aspects did you enjoy--are there jobs that would utilize those aspects more than this part-time gig?
I would try grocery stores, banks, restaurants and yes, Starbucks.
posted by calgirl at 8:30 PM on January 17, 2013


I'm a cashier in the food industry, I don't have a real job- I never even thought of our discussions as "negotiations". Do you stil need to take that approach in this kind of position? How do you do it?

It's not like I'm valuable- I'm really replacable and they hold all the cards; I basically just have to take whatever I can get, right? I just want reliable want work to pay my rent and save up to register in my profession.

It sounds like there's nothing I can do about the job except get out. At least I know better than to trust a company now, even if the boss seems nice.
posted by windykites at 6:23 AM on January 18, 2013


At least I know better than to trust a company now, even if the boss seems nice.

Exactly. Hiring is a two-way street, and some managers will tell you what you want to hear to get you on-board. If something is VERY important to you, such as the number of hours you will be working, then get it in writing. If the employer is reluctant to do it, then thank them for their time and keep looking.

There is no loyalty in business. You should always be working for yourself first and your employer second. If a better offer comes along, say good-bye to your current job and take the new one.

It used to be that one could expect cradle to grave employment. I grew up in that era, but quickly started to see that it was no longer the case. After 25 years in the business, I was laid off from THE PHONE COMPANY! Along with 16,000 other people! It was unprecidented, but it happened.

Your employer will always make decisions in its best interest, you should make employment decision in YOUR best interest.

While looking for a new full-time gig, I recommend seeing if you can pick up some part-time work at a bar or restaurant, the local 'stop-and-rob' convenience store or some other place that will give you some breathing room.

I also recommend trying to get on with a large corporation in an entry-level position. Customer service at the phone company or hydro company, any large corporations in your area.

Finding a new job IS your second job now.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:25 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


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