Hold on to your dreams. They will light your way through the dark. Photo and quote by Katherine Parker notcrazyjustnutZ.com

Ancient Dilemma

I woke up in pain again and in that dark place in my mind. I was actually dreaming about my job. I haven’t sent the boss my notice yet and it is still weighing on me.

Giving up some of the shifts I’ve been working isn’t a big deal. If it was just that, I’d have shot off that email in a New York minute. No, the issue is bigger than that.

I have become aware that my employer has been shorting my paychecks and it isn’t a one time thing. I don’t believe they are doing it intentionally, but just the fact that it is happening is major cause for concern. The fact that it always happens in their favor makes it suspect.

My ancient brain functions have taken hold. Ug and Grunt keep telling me, “Confront boss, get fired. Fired bad. No confront boss.”

My modern brain responds with, “But they are required by federal and state law to pay me. I’m broke, I need the money. They can’t fire me, that’s illegal, too.”

Ug, or maybe it was Grunt, (I can’t always tell them apart), says, “Boss cut hours. Cut hours, no pay. No pay, no home. No home, bad. Must not lose home.”

Ug and Grunt like their creature comforts and for that matter, so do I.

I mentioned my concerns to a coworker and she took Ug and Grunt’s side and made it worse. “You should wait until you have another job lined up before you go to them.”

Well, crap. That is even worse than getting shorted on pay.

Ug said, “Applications stupid. No one read. Waste of time.”

Grunt nodded sagely and added, “Won’t get job anyway. Why you bother?”

I have experienced the application black hole on more than one occasion. My modern brain agrees with this argument.

What am I going to do? I want my money, but I don’t want to run the risk of being homeless. Good grief. I’m a single, white woman with no kids and I’m not pregnant. The government doesn’t recognize that I exist. I’ve been down that path before. It is brutal.

Then I realized what Ug and Grunt had been up to. The problem went from, “I need to tell my boss they are shorting me on pay checks” to “imminent homelessness and starvation.”

Those persuasive little fear mongers.

I pulled back and let my modern brain take over for a bit. Ug and Grunt gave me the worst case scenario. What is my best case?

The worst best case, is that I get my pay.

The over the top-Oh-my-God-I-don’t-understand-why-I-waited-so-long would be to get my pay and a little more for pain and suffering. After all. If I took this to the Department of Labor I would be entitled to my back pay doubled. The fact that this has been happening for so long, means that the employer could be fined.

The law reads:

Employers who willfully or repeatedly violate minimum wage or overtime pay requirements are subject to civil money penalties of up to $1,100 per violation.

If I take this to the boss and leave the Department of Labor out of it, I might be able to leverage some cash instead of the government getting the fines.

Hmm. That is a pretty good best case scenario. I do have a tax bill and a hospital bill. Not to mention the student loans that have been dogging me for decades.

The only problem with this scenario… if the employer is doing this to me, what are they doing to the other employees and how long have they been doing it? How do I help my co-workers get the money they are owed?

I have an idea, but it’s WAY outside my comfort zone. It’s down right audacious to my mind. I have some research to do, but I think I have it figured out.

I can hear Ug whispering, “Might get pay, won’t get extra.”

Grunt nods with tears slipping into his scruffy beard. “Me like food. Me like home.”

I have to go. I need to find the duct tape.

Have you had a problem with Ug and Grunt taking the worst case path? Did you get past them and how? Tell me about it in the comments below.