Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about bad workplace conditions and management failure to correct them:
I have worked as the editor for a small newspaper for the last two years. Throughout that time, multiple things have happened to make me question my future here and the legality of the business. First off, the owner also owns a bank and uses his small newspapers as a tax write-off. He refuses to meet his employees and all questions/concerns go through my manager. My manager is passive and discourages communication between papers. She told me that I was never allowed to contact HR, which I know is illegal, because the owner gets upset.
I’ll give you a list of complaints I have thus far: My manager allowed the secretary to drink alcohol and have her infant crawl around the office for 12 months. My manager began having a sexual relationship with my co-worker. That relationship obviously affected how she treated me because he was a close friend of mine.The light fixtures are broken and cannot be fixed.The installation hangs from the ceiling and is exposed. My coworker smoked inside of the building for over a year. I have never been given a raise, or review, and overtime is non-existent.
There is currently a rat infestation. My manager tried to cut me short of extra earnings, thinking I wouldn’t find out. My boss told me that it was forbidden to contact HR about my sick leave when I was out for surgery. She also told me that they didn’t have to pay for disability. The women at work have to use the men’s bathroom sink because the sink doesn’t work in the ladies room. There is obvious signs of mildew and mold in the office.Hand soap is not provided in the bathrooms. That is paid for by employees, out of pocket. We are not offered benefits. The list goes on. I want to ask for a raise, but know I’ll be shot down due to “tough times.”
I have stayed because my current job looks great on a resume. What should I do?Also, everyone in the office is paid close to minimum wage. Shouldn’t a position that requires a BA provide a suitable wage. Yours Truly, Disgusted
Signed, Had Enough
Dear Had Enough:
If, instead of editing, you wrote a work place advice column and someone wrote to you with the scenario you described here, you would probably respond just as I will:You have three options:
1.) Do as Dr. Gorden often suggests and “vote with your feet” by leaving that mismanaged, unclean, unethical, demoralizing job.
2.)Stay in the job but take a stand about the multitude of problem issues, knowing you risk being fired and knowing many of the issues will not be remedied.
3.) Stay and tolerate it for the sake of your resume. If you consider each of the things you wrote about, it becomes apparent that the paper is essentially being run by a slum lord who wrings all the money he can get out of the people and the product and puts as little as possible back into it.On the other hand, people keep working there, so what incentive does he have to do anything differently?As far as reporting him or your manager goes, that is something to decide after a review of your state and local regulations and laws. You would also need to decide if you could keep your involvement a secret. If you could, maybe it would help the situation (although many of your main concerns are not regulated.) Usually we suggest open and direct communication but that is apparently not likely to be successful in this case. So, the three options I mentioned at the beginning are the ones from which you have to choose. I wish there was a magic answer that would make this job a viable future for you but I don’t see anything to indicate that is probable. So, my advice is to leave the slum lord and his minion to deal with their paper while you find a job that values you and your work better.If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens with this.
Tina Lewis Rowe