WHat are some of the crulest things US employers can do to employees and get away with it?

Get away with it is defined in two ways:

  1. The actions must be de facto legal in the sense that the employer has no reasonable expectation that his/her actions will result in imprisonment or fines of an amount sufficient to make the business not profitable.

  2. The actions must not cause the business to implode by making it impossible to hire employees. Off the cuff, I’d imagine, for example, that the cruelest treatment would be possible in a business which has a constant supply of replacement workers available.

If you watch the movie The Devil Wears Prada, that would be a pretty fair approximation. In industries where there’s a huge demand for entry level jobs, you can get away with a lot of perfectly legal psychological torture.

Two words–Unpaid Internship.

Also check Swimming with Sharks.

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This is more of a poll and opinion sort of thing than a factual question.

Moving thread from General Questions to In My Humble Opinion. Any factual answers may still be given there as well.

I worked for a McDonalds franchise in the 80’s that made employees get into the dumpster and stomp down the trash. Does that count?

How is that worse than being in the food prep area of a McDonald’s? :wink:

Falsification of disciplinary and other records to get rid of employees at the top of the pay scale who are at low risk for suing.

Actually, in my case, it turns out they did me a bigger favor than I could ever have imagined. I just didn’t want it to be this way.

Being sent to Coventry is pretty cruel.

I have some recent first-hand experience of this.

Sign spinners. And, making employees wear humiliating outfits, and flair.

Probably things that have to do with screwing up someones retirement. But in everyday working situations simply being held responsible for outcomes that you have no control over can be torcherous until you figure it out and learn how to make it backfire on them.

Re-categorizing low paid jobs as “management” then demanding insane amounts of overtime, while simultaneously sending a constant message that employees are not doing enough. This is basically standard treatment in my area. Throughout my 20’ s and 30’s I worked between 60 and 80 hours per week, and so did most of my friends. Those who didn’t are still in the five figure earning range.

Make them teach 8th grade English.

Anecdote: I was walking out of a Red Robin a few years ago when I heard two young female employees complaining to each other about a memo that had been sent around. It advised all waitstaff to promote a new dish by saying that it “was like having a party in your mouth.”

Anybody ever watch that show called Undercover Boss? In one segment a Hooter’s manager made all the girls engage in a food-eating contest piggy style (face into the plate) to see who would get some sort of benefit (can’t remember what the benefit was). He wasn’t fired! He was just basically told to knock that shit off or else.

Details, please! I’m always looking to add to my already substantial arsenal.

I doubt it’s literally the cruelest, but one of the most common awful things I see employers do to employees is have them work 6 hours a day, six days a week. The employees get none of the benefits of working full time, and they only get one day off a week, which makes it difficult plan anything with your recreation time. You can’t take little weekend trips to visit relatives or go camping or to the beach. You can’t even stay up late partying or marathoning Breaking Bad on Netflix. These horrendous schedules seem depressingly common in low level retail positions.

Let’s see, for my daughter, it was the rule at a very popular national chain that specializes in giant burritos, that if you called off in your first 30 days of employment, you were terminated. It was cold and flu season, and the crud was going around. My daughter and many of her coworkers got it, and since most of them could not afford to go see a doctor, they dragged themselves in to work, where they sneezed and sniffled their way through their shift. Until, in my daughter’s case, she threw up on the manager’s shoes. Then she got sent home. But when she was still sick a few days later and called off her next shift, she got terminated. Even though she could have produced a doctor’s note, and the manager knew she was sick. Rules is rules!

This policy is probably why I got the worst case of food poisoning I’ve ever had after eating at another location of this fine chain of restaurants.

Tip-earning employees do not have to be paid minimum wage.

Without it being illegal, no employers would pay for health insurance. And since it is illegal, many employers will try to find ways around the law.

Walmart locks employees in at night.

Uh… what? Lots of employers paid for health insurance before they were required to.

:eek: What if there’s a fire?

Well, they won’t be needing that store’s employees anymore, will they? In truth, the fire exits were never locked but workers were told they’d be fired if they used them for anything other than a fire.