Boss’s Wife Cuts My Hours Because of Jealousy

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about boss’s jealous wife: After approximately two months I was allowed to work with the other owner. Everything was going great, I was working 40 hrs a week and I loved my job. Two weeks ago, without notice or warning my hours were cut to only 16 1/2 hours.

I am a secretary for a locally owned company which has three stores. I have been there for about six months. This company has three male owners. When I was hired I was told I would not be allowed to work with one of the owners because his wife (at the time, a girlfriend) didn’t want any female employees.I  found this odd but I really needed the job. The store has been open for three and until I was hired six months ago she was the only female ever on payroll. After approximately two months I was allowed to work with the other owner. Everything was going great, I was working 40 hrs a week and I loved my job.

Two weeks ago, without notice or warning my hours were cut to only 16 1/2 hours. I asked why my hours were cut and no one would tell me why.This past week when I showed up for work I clocked on and after less than an hour I was sent home with no explanation. The same thing happened the next two days. Then three days ago I found out why my hours had been cut so drastically. Apparently the owner’s wife told one of the other owner’s girlfriends that I told her I thought the girlfriend’s boyfriend is sexy and that she should watch out for me because I am a home wrecker. I never said that and I am certainly not a home-wrecker. They have since hired another secretary, who just so happens to be the owner’s wife’s best friend. So now I hardly ever get to work and now I have the owner’s wife and the new secretary calling me to ask how to do something in the office. Please someone tell me what is going on is against the law

Signed, Want a Job Not Her Husband

Dear Want a Job Not Her Husband:

We are not attorneys and can’t provide you with legal advice. Most attorneys will provide some basic advice over the phone or in a brief meeting, free of charge, to let you know your civil and legal options. My first thought, after wondering why you don’t just quit and find a better place to work (!) is that this doesn’t sound as though it could be tied to gender bias under the law. But, your situation is unique and might have some aspects to it that would come under EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)guidelines.

The first requirement is that the business must employ fifteen people. If they do not, it doesn’t come under employment regulations and the owners can probably hire, fire and assign hours as they wish. If they are a large enough business to come under EEOC guidelines, you may also want register a complaint with that agency.

I’m not saying that you have a case of that nature, but as I noted, your case is unusual. The law says it is illegal to base hiring and firing decisions, compensation and benefits on gender. It could be argued that if you were older and less attractive, your gender wouldn’t matter, so the bias isn’t against your gender it’s against those other issues (not protected by law). Also, your employers likely would say that your hours have been cut for other reasons, and it would be difficult to disprove it.

What you will need to provide to an attorney or to the EEOC is the number of employees, to establish that the business comes under EEO guidelines (15 employees). You will also need to have a timeline of what has happened and how it is related solely to your gender.If you were asked questions upon hiring that might indicate a bias based on gender, those would be good to mention. For example, if you were asked your marital status or about children or other gender-based issues.

Get all your material together and call an attorney who specializes in employment law or civil cases in general and ask his or her opinion. Or, contact the EEOC and ask about the situation.Or, you may wish to do as Dr. Gorden often recommends and “vote with your feet” to leave that very unpleasant workplace. The boss’s wife’s best friend probably won’t be her best friend for long and you would never be welcome there. Once you quit you are under no obligation to help them with their problems–and it sounds like it would serve them right to be left in the lurch. Best wishes to you with this. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what you find out in case it would help others who contact us.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.