Did management take advantage of you when you were young and dumb?

A thread in the Pit about being on-call includes a post about a theater that requires its employees (mostly teenage kids) to be on-call such that they don’t know until an hour before their shift whether they work or not. If they don’t get called in, they don’t get paid, and if they do, they get regular pay only. If they don’t come in when called, they get fired. Nice.

It made me remember something from my first real job, at age 16. I worked at Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizzatime Theater (big awful pizza place with video games and weird-looking animals on the wall singing bastardized and pizza-ized versions of terrible songs made worse by pizza-ization). The owner, Allison, was one of the worst managers I’ve ever had. California law doesn’t allow kids under 18 to work after 10 pm on a school night (or didn’t then anyway). Closing took a long time and was a lot of work, including moving tables and benches, sweeping and mopping several huge and dirty floor areas, cleaning bathrooms, etc. But Allison was too cheap to hire enough people. Two people to close was just barely enough. So. If you had one person who was over 18 and one under 18 who were scheduled to close, when 10 pm rolled around (closing wasn’t usually done until close to 11 pm with two people-- sometimes later), the under-18 person was supposed to stop working. So. What did Allison have us do? Clock out. And…keep working. So, yeah, the child labor laws allowed her to get…slave labor! Who knew? The under-18 person could have left, but we were generally all friends and closing was a nightmare to do by oneself. We would have felt bad leaving our friend with all of that work. Which Allison knew. Of course, we were young and inexperienced, which she was counting on. I can’t believe we actually took that. So, what are your stories?

I always loved the full time (plus benefits) vs part time distinction. Usually, full-timers got the easiest shifts, while part-timers got the hardest. However, this was the opposite in schools. At schools, pt’ers got the easiest classes and most convenient times, while full-timers were generally held to the 40 hour/week rule, while, as everybody knows, teachers have to prep, thus they have to have less than 40 hours/week of teaching hours.

When I was an ESL teacher in Korea, they had a great scam going. Foreign teachers had to work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, plus an extra 2 hour class once a month, plus they had to take their students out (1 weekend per class, 5 classes per month) every month, and we didn’t get extra money or time for prep. Most of us worked 60-70 hours per week. Sometimes, while taking my students out, I would be prepping for classes at the same time.

Currently, I’m working at a job where a regular full-timer has 14-18 teaching hours per week, with a minimum of 3-4 hours of office hours required, plus 3-4 hours per week doing extra committee work. Recently, they have required us to work through lunch, on weekends, and through holidays.

I worked in a Ruby Tuesday’s as a grill cook. There was a short in some of the equipment and if you touched the metal counter and anything else metal at the same time, you got a really bad shock. It was like that for weeks.

My parents were really good about educating me WRT not letting employers take advantage.

When I worked at McDonald’s as a teenager, when closing the place down at night the manager would typically take all of us off of the clock before we were actually done so that they could finish running the numbers at about the same time we finished cleaning up the place. Employees typically got screwed for a half-hour of labor each; it depended on how accurately the manager had predicted when we would finish and so when he/she would clock us out, and sometimes they were off by quite a bit. After I raised a stink about it (on the advice of my parents), they changed the procedures so employees weren’t getting screwed anymore.

Also, once in a while employees would be asked to work at a distant store that was understaffed (typically due to having just opened for the first time very recently). We were expected to drive ourselves there, sometimes 30 miles each way, and there was no compensation for mileage until I protested.

More recently, my current employer (the US federal guvmint) had been screwing up their procedures for promoting engineers, with the result that many of us had been getting underpaid for years. At some point the HR folks discovered the mistake on their own, and promptly handed out checks for the backpay. I had only been working here for a few years at that point, but I got a check for a couple thousand bucks; some of my coworkers had been getting screwed for much longer, and received checks for well over ten grand.

And that was when I said, “hey, wait a minute, you owe us interest on all that back pay.”

Incredibly, the HR folks said no, even when I pointed to the relevant section of the Combined Federal Register which said in no uncertain terms that interest is owed on backpay when the backpay is due to any kind of error on the part of HR. Jesus, the OPM website even has quarterly interest rates listed for the express purpose of calculating interest on backpay! :smack: I had to get the on-site AFGE (union) rep to make a couple of phone calls before they relented.

This is quite awesome. What a perk to the job!

I applied as a picture framer to Michael’s when I was 18. I got paid minimum wage for a job that should have paid 3-4 times that. I had three months experience and was already lightyears ahead of everybody else there.

Oh god did I get screwed at my first non-paper route job. I was a lifeguard at a city pool and there were a lot of little issues put 3 biggies, besides the barely above minimum-wage.

  1. Punch in-out times. You were expected to be in uniform ready-to-go and helping with any opening duties 15minutes before your shift started but you wouldn’t start getting paid until your shift start times. You were clocked out right at the end of your scheduled time; but obviously not allowed to leave until closing duties were complete. That wouldn’t be too bad except that there was no time built into the schedule for opening/closing duties, schedules exactly matched the lesson or public swim times.

  2. Weekend and summer schedules for the pool were often 2-3 hours of public swim. 2 hours off. 2-3 hours of lessons. 2 hours off. 2-4 hours of public swim. It was perfectly normal to be scheduled for the first 2 or last 2 sessions, and hardly unheard of to be scheduled for all 3 sessions in a day. So as a teenager without a car I could spend 8-10 hours a day at the pool and get paid for 6-8 hours.

  3. Report cards. We were paid by the piece for our end-of-session report cards. But the piece rate vs. the amount of time it took to do a cards that passed inspection made the pay rate about 1/3 of minimum wage.

I stayed there for nearly 3 years and it was great experience. Especially learning to stand up for myself near the end.

This is the best example and comeback I’ve ever heard.

I worked at a radio station that had a college kid do the news on weekends. The boss told him that since he was only on the air five minutes each hour, he should clock in just before the newscast, then clock out immediately after, repeating the process every hour.

The kid looked at him for a second, then replied he would do it, but that he would only report stories that happened during the five minutes he was on the clock.

No, I hit the Jack-pot.

After I got my degree and a year on my first job, a competitor moved into town and started stealing away all of our techs. So in a panic, my company gave us all a HUGE raise. Just over 20%.

A lot of money for a 22yo.