It’s no secret that the U.S. is home to its share of exploitative employers. Due in no small part to high levels of economic insecurity, many employers won’t hesitate to take ready advantage of their respective workforces. When forced to contend with this type of employer, it’s easy to feel helpless. After all, who wants to make waves and place their employment status at risk? At the same time, however, exploitative workplaces are so common because the people responsible for much of the bad behavior are rarely challenged. Workers looking to stand up against exploitative employers and take back some of their power should consider the following pointers.
Setting Clear Boundaries
While hard work is a reasonable expectation on the part of employers, many companies take things too far in this regard. Some people regularly receive so much work that they can never truly stay on top of it, which can result in out-of-control stress levels. When new projects are consistently thrown your way before you’ve made decent headway into your existing workload, something has to change. You may be an employee, but you are not a mindless worker drone. If you’re constantly buried beneath an unmanageable amount of work, you’re unlikely to have any semblance of a healthy work/life balance.
This is why setting boundaries with demanding employers is vitally important. Many companies will stick employees with as much work as they think they can get away with, and unless you speak up, your employer is liable to think you’re fine with this. So, if you feel that you’re being overworked, bring this to the attention of the relevant parties. Make it clear that you can only handle a specific amount of work in a given workday – or workweek – and firmly request that your desired workload be adhered to. Additionally, if your employer has a tendency to force unfair drug tests on employees, a Herbal Clean drug test can help you pass with flying colors.
Promptly Reporting Harassment
Workplace harassment comes in many forms, and none of them are even remotely acceptable. Most notably, there’s sexual harassment – which, despite a massive increase in awareness, continues to plague countless workplaces. Harassment can also take the form of intimidation on the part of people in positions of authority. For example, if your boss habitually berates you or engages in any other form of abuse, this needs to be reported to the appropriate parties. If bringing harassment to the attention of HR fails to resolve the issue – or paves the way for increased levels of misconduct – consider speaking to an attorney and taking legal action against the company.
Refusing to Work Unpaid Overtime
Unpaid overtime has become such a staple of the modern-day work experience that few people even bother to question it anymore. However, the fact that such an exploitative practice has become commonplace doesn’t mean it should be accepted. Your employer does not own you and is not owed time for which you are not being paid. A lot of employers will dance around this issue by insisting that they don’t explicitly require employees to work unpaid overtime. However, if you’re saddled with a workload so massive that it cannot reasonably be completed within the confines of regular work hours, you’re essentially being instructed to work unpaid overtime, regardless of any claims to the contrary made by your employer.
So, unless you’re being generously compensated for your troubles, you should refuse to put in overtime. Furthermore, if your workloads and deadlines are unmanageable in the absence of unpaid overtime, request that your employer amend them accordingly. Should they refuse, consider taking legal action.
It seems like virtually every member of the workforce has done time with an exploitative employer. Workplace exploitation comes in a variety of forms, mostly notably excessive workloads, unreasonable deadlines and expectations of unpaid overtime. If any of these expectations are heaped on you by your employer, there’s a good chance you’re being exploited. Of course, since so many people have come to expect such behavior from U.S. employers, getting workers to recognize and acknowledge professional mistreatment can often prove difficult. Luckily, putting the previously discussed pointers to good use can help you put exploitative employers on notice.