My live-in girlfriend works for a small five-employee company that sells sno-cone syrup and ice cream machines. She’s been there about a year-and-a-half now, I estimate.
Every day, she comes home exhausted, near the point of tears, and wants nothing but a shower and a long nap. Her job has caused her severe depression (which she is now on meds for), anxiety, sleeplessness, and nightmares. Here’s just a snippet of the things her boss (the owner) subjects her to:
[li]As everyone knows, the U.S. has been going through a serious heat wave. Baltimore has not had a day below 100°F for a month. She works in a tiny un-air-conditioned office (cashiering is one of her duties) in the warehouse. The boss won’t let her turn on the warehouse fan because it’s “too loud”, even though he spends most of his time locked in his air-conditioned office.[/li][li]There is no scheduled leave at her job. Once a year, all employees have two weeks off for Christmas, and that is intended to make up for the lack of leave. She’s afraid to take any sick time or time off for other things because “he’ll get angry”. All this while he cuts out a few days a week to hang out at the bar with his buddies (literally, oftentimes that’s where she goes if she needs something from him).[/li][li]He publicly humiliates her in front of her co-workers and customers, calling her “stupid”, “weak”, “slow”, and “a useless woman”.[/li][li]He flaunts OSHA rules. Wooden pallets have been stacked on their side in the warehouse, which is illegal. One of the pallets fell on her Achilles’ tendon, causing her a lot of pain and some scarring. She’s too scared to file a worker’s comp. claim.[/li][li]She’s the only female in the company, and the boss allows the other employees to ridicule and mistreat her.[/li][/ul]So why does she stick around? Well, she’s a very smart and talented woman, but she doesn’t have much in the way of marketable job skills. He does pay her a pretty decent wage, and she’s had a hell of a time finding a job that can match it. She can’t work for any less or she wouldn’t be able to afford the rent where I live or her car note. He’s makes damn sure that she knows she’s expendable even though she runs that entire company by herself and the place pretty much shuts down if she manages to take an unscheduled day off. Her boss is no shrewd businessman and relies on her for almost everything. It’s amazing the company hasn’t fallen apart already.
I don’t know what I can do. My strongest feeling is to go to his office and show him my tire iron collection. I’ve met this guy a couple of times. He’s the epitome of a Napoleon complex: A small man in his 50’s who pushes people around weaker than he is. I’m not a small guy, and I could very easily get my point across to him. I have a strong aversion to prison, however, so that’s not an option. My next feeling is I can call OSHA, the Dept. of Health, and the Dept. of Labor, but he’ll immediately know it she had something to do with it and since Maryland is an at-will state, he will fire her faster than Gomer Pyle on The Apprentice.
What can I do? I feel for her and listen to her vent about work almost every night. She’s rarely happy about anything anymore, and it’s starting to affect me and our house. We have to think fast, because she’s pretty sure he’s going to get rid of her at the end of the busy season.