Do I Have Any Recourse?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about reduction in hours:

I’ve been working at my current place of employment for more than two years. For over a year and a half I was working full-time (40 hours).¬† At the beginning of this year, the owner/CFO told me that he would be reducing my hours down to 30 per week in June but that he would be completely flexible with my schedule (including working only 4 instead of 5 days to help with auto costs).

About a month before my hours were cut I spoke with the CFO again about my schedule and he again said he was fine with a M-Th workweek. About a week later he said he needed to cut my hours back to just 20 per week, but was fine with me working 3 days a week. After only a week of the new schedule, he got mad at me for an unrelated reason resulting from his own error, and proceeded to tell me that he needs me in the office 5 days a week between 8-12p.

I’ve been on this new schedule for about a month and I’d like to revisit the possibility of cutting back to 4 days at some point in the near future. Is this something I should do and how would you recommend I approach the situation? I’m starting to feel discriminated against. I am the only one in the whole company whose hours have been cut. I’m the only one who is being required to work a schedule set by the CFO. And I’m the only one who did not receive a pay increase at the beginning of the year. The CFO has verbally accused me of a variety of things over the past year but, but none of them have been true, and I believe that’s why I’ve never been given a formal warning. Friends have told me to quit but I don’t want to do that before I find other work and that’s been tough. What should I do?

Signed, Hours Cut

Dear Hours Cut:

You are wise not to quit until you have another job. But before you quit, you wonder if there is something you might do to get a schedule that is more to your liking. You also mention a second problem: a CFO, your boss, who falsely accuses you of misdeeds.Both of these matters have caused you to feel discriminated because you’ve observed other employees haven’t had their hours cut, you failed to receive a raise and been assigned to work half days rather than been allowed as have others to put in their hours on a shorter schedule.Your ask: Do you have recourse? And should you approach your boss to request a more accommodating schedule?

It doesn’t take a re-reading of your question to conclude that you are working scared. You are afraid to confront your CFO. You need your job and you don’t want to put it at risk before you have another one.Option

1. Confront with your CFO. Frankly tell him that the five half-day schedule is not good for you in time and transportation expenses. Also list the incidents he as accused you of errors when it was not your fault. Say that you don’t feel he was correct and the next time he has a complaint you want an opportunity to talk about what and why of it. Also stress that you want to work as a team.

Propose more frequent conferring on assignments could prevent problems. Apparently, he sees a value in your work. Why else would he want you there five days a week? There is no value in you arguing you are victim of discrimination. That is not the correct term. Rather you are being used; hours cut, no raise and scheduled for five days and not the three agreed on. Use this confrontation to clear the air and make explicit the unstated rules that make for a boss-bossed high performance team, rather than one in which the subordinate’s needs are not respected.

Adults should be able to talk about and work through misunderstandings and unfair working conditions. Approach him with the mindset that he needs you and that you need the job–a job with a reasonable schedule and benefits.

Option 2. Meet with Human Resources. Inquire about a transfer to a full time position or at least a job with a different boss. Explain that the agreed on three-day schedule is fairer in light of your shortened hours.

Option 3. Bite your tongue and keep your nose to the grindstone. Realize that your shortened hours are not discrimination and rather are intended to cut costs during tough times. Meanwhile search for a better job elsewhere. I hope these options help you think through what you feel is serious enough to look elsewhere for work, realizing that work elsewhere is not always better. What you know from two years with this workplace is valuable to it, and when making you case for reasonable scheduling, you should bear this in mind. They will have to retrain someone new if you leave and that costs them. Also what you know should make you of value to a new employer so you can use that experience as evidence you are a valued employee, after all working for a CFO is experience that few others candidates for a job will have.

Don’t allow the victim-I’m-discriminated mindset to sour you. Keep your head high and smile on your face through the next several weeks while you think and work answers to the questions you pose. While doing that think big; think about the mission of your organization and about your job as one stage of your career. Work at its best is not just a job. Work at its best is something that you want to go to. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Have you ever thought of your work in that way?

William Gorden