I Quit Suddenly, Want What They Owe Me!

Question:

It was not what I planned to do when I got up this morning.

I have been working a at law firm for over two years that had nightmare written all over it from day one. I had no idea what sort of place this was when I accepted the job offer or the horrendous things that would go on there from verbal harassment/abuse (directed at me and other staff persons), sexual harassment (towards the younger female employees), excessive foul language, employees coming to work drunk, employees hostile and aggressive abusive behavior towards other employees, a supervisor calling another supervisor the “c” word (and apparently smashing her face into a file cabinet causing her to bleed several months prior to me joining the “team”)..I will spare you the remainder the brief descriptions of the massive war stories I have accrued from working at this job. The final straw for me today was when I learned that a new employee, only there one and half months, was not coming back for another month due to an auto accident. I know she was not happy there once she had a small sample of the chaos, disorganization, mismanagement and verbal abuse that she witnessed and relayed same to me as well as another employee. She was the replacement for another employee who finally gave her notice after working there 6.5 years under a verbally abusive and harassing tyrant who drove her to the edge. Another employee just recently gave her notice as she was not being paid enough and also, was continually harassed by the same supervisor. This is a “mom & pop” operation so the supervisor is a family member and therefore, has been permitted to get away with this. The supervisor continually piled on more work even though I had told him on a dozen occasions that I was overloaded and could not handle anymore. His failure to plan for distribution of workload of the employee who quit (giving them 6 weeks notice I might add) and failure to recognize the existing recurring problems in this office have been created by himself. Although I tried to keep up with the work, stay calm and not lose my temper after he failed to respect my repeated requests, I lost it and left.

I know the consequences of quitting a job. I have a fair amount of money in the bank and have good emotional support from friends and family whom have tirelessly listened to my weekly accounts for the past two years of the nightmare called my job. I know that quitting a job is not a mature thing to do, I should have another job before I find a new one, etc. and so on. I am a rational, intelligent, honest, hardworking, responsible, reliable person. Doing something like this is COMPLETELY out of character for me. I have never quit a job in my life. This has been a long time coming. I have been putting resumes out consistently for the past several months and for the past two years sporadically. I have had a couple of interviews but am being VERY careful about where my resume goes this time. In the meantime though, I am owed my final paycheck for this week along with some accrued vacation/sick time. In New York State they are obligated to pay anything owed to the employee as I understand unless there was something in the company policy stating differently if I am correct. And of course, this rinky-dink operation has no written policies.

I do not want to contact the employer directly. I am LIVID and do not want to be caused further emotional distress. I have had enough.

I still can’t believe I quit my job.

Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.

Signed,

Quittin’ Time


Answer:

Dear Quittin’ Time:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. It sounds as though you have taken a long-overdue step to gaining a better way to live your life! I wish the employees would have taken legal action in the past–particularly regarding assault, let alone the harassment. There are ample resources available to advise in those kinds of situations–including the police, in the case of a crime! Legal offices are not immune from the legalities of work! That is something you and others may still wish to explore.

The most important thing for you at this point is that you made the decision and are ready to move on. Please don’t feel that you have somehow reacted in a less than mature manner about this. A mature person first attempts to adapt to circumstances, then changes the circumstances when it becomes obvious that adapting is not possible or is not emotionally and physically healthy. You could not change the job setting, so you left it and will go elsewhere. You have done the right thing. Over the next few days that will sink in and you will feel an incredible sense of freedom!

I can understand your concern about other employers. Take heart that most are anxious to keep good staff and want to do things the right way. If you have the knowledge, skills and attitude to do well—and it certainly sounds as though you do–you will find a job that will be a pleasure instead of a pain and your new employer will be thrilled to have you working there!

Many employees react to a bad job environment by being hyper-sensitive to the next one–and watching warily for the first bad thing to happen. It’s like the second marriage after a nasty marriage and divorce! Use your personal and professional skills to find the best fit for you, as well as a place where you will be valued. No environment will be free from flaws–there are people there! But, most will provide more good situations than bad, and you will once again enjoy many aspects of work. You deserve that!

Regarding the final pay: Consider sending an impersonal letter to your former employer that says something like, Date: Subject: Paycheck and accrued vacation/sick leave time for Mary Smith (SS#)

Please send the pay owed for November X to November X and XX hours of accrued vacation and sick leave, to the following address:

Address

Thank you, Signature

They have that information, but the letter is a way to document your request and to remind them that you expect the check soon. That way you are not getting involved in anything personal and it is written in a business style that doesn’t stir up anything unnecessarily. If you know the precise amount you may want to give that as the amount of the check. If, after a week or so, you have not gotten the check, contact your state’s department of labor about employer obligations in that regard. Have you gained any contacts with an attorney as the result of your work in the office? If so, they might be willing to assist you for a reduced rate, or help you by sending a letter from their offices, if it is necessary.

I’m glad for you! Now you have a chance to work where you are appreciated. Since you were doing a tremendous amount of work, they will be feeling the pinch of trying to get that work done. Hopefully the other employees will not continue tolerating such an unprofessional environment and will gain strength from your actions.

Dan West