To keep things short and simple, I work at a corporate business. When I first started working, my hourly wage was X, then I transferred stores (and regions) and my hourly wage was lowered to Y due to “cost of living and change of work status”. By meaning of work status, they said I was “fired” and “rehired” to accommodate the status. With that, my pay was dropped from X to Y even though through the company my hire date has NOT changed. This occurred 4.5 years ago. I’ve missed out on my actual wage pay (the math puts it at roughly $6,000). Can I do anything about this?

Yes. You can look for a new job at a higher salary, take it and leave.

Let’s go through this though. Can they lower your salary? Absolutely. As long as they tell you beforehand (and in some states, in writing). You then have the opportunity to reject that decrease by quitting your job.

Now, let’s talk about the practicality of this policy and the real impact on your life. First, let’s talk money. You said you’ve missed out on $6000 pay over 4.5 years. I’m assuming that means a total of $6000, not $6000 per year. So, let’s do that math:

52 weeks per year x 4.5 years=234 weeks

40 hours per week x 234 weeks=9360 hours

$6000/9360 hours=$0.64 per hour.

Now, as you’ve said, that adds up. I’m never going to turn down an extra $6k over a 4.5 year period for doing the same work. But, a $0.64 per hour wage decrease is a lot less shocking than a $6000 pay cut.

Why do this? Well, they told you. It’s a location thing. Now,  many years ago, I worked in HR for the best grocery store in the entire world. Even the best grocery store in the world paid different amounts in different areas. The cost of living and the market rates just vary from geographic region to geographic region. I can’t remember if we ever cut pay when people transferred stores, but it wouldn’t surprise me. (When I worked there, though, they were opening new stores rapidly in higher cost of living areas so most of the transfers resulted in higher pay.)

If you don’t keep consistency within your store, you can run into problems. “Why is Bob making $0.64 per hour more than the rest of us?” Also, theoretically, if you searched for a new job you would find one at the lower, regional rate.

Money is very geographically dependent. You’d expect to make more in a job in NYC than for a job in upstate NY. Which brings me to a story. I was living in Rochester, NY, and looking for a job. I was straight out of school, so looking for something entry level. I posted my resume on Monster and put in my salary requirements at something like $35,000. Within a very short time, I got a phone call from a company who were very interested in me. Yeah! They were located in Manhattan. He said, “You’re okay with $35k?” to which I said, “In Rochester, yes. In Manhattan, no. It’s more expensive there.” He was geographically challenged and said, “Couldn’t you just commute?” I had to explain to him that Rochester was almost 350  miles from Manhattan and so, sadly it would not work out. He was so eager to bring me on because there was no one in Manhattan willing to do that job for that pay. In Rochester? Lots of people would have applied. (And on a side note, I ended up with a job in Rochester at $40k. Win for me!)

So, different pay, different regions makes sense. Now, of course, any time you get a pay cut it can feel like a slap in the face. But, it’s not meant to be one in a case like this.

I do question their logic of “terminating” you and then “rehiring” you in a different store, but that may just be company lingo or how their HR system does stuff. You “terminate” in Store A before the system will free you up to be transferred to store B. It’s not a big deal, since, as you said your hire date remained the same. HR people should realize that using terms like “terminate” can cause people to feel like they’ve been fired.

But, you’ve been doing this for 4.5 years, so why the question now? I suspect because it’s time for you to move on. You’re decreasingly dissatisfied with your pay and I suspect you’re dissatisfied with your job, in general. Instead of looking for things that are wrong with the current company, look for a new job. 4.5 years is plenty of time to be with any one company–and you’ve been there longer. So, start looking! Maybe you’ll find something at higher pay. Maybe you won’t. Maybe you don’t want to change companies, so maybe it’s time for a new department and new responsibilities.

Don’t let something that caused by a policy 4.5 years ago make you miserable today. If you want to stay where you are, own it. Your choice. If you don’t, move on. Good luck.

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5 Ways to Evaluate MOOCs on a Resume

by Evil HR Lady on March 27, 2015

Guillaume Dumas, a 28-year-old Canadian, made headlines recently when he announced that he had obtained an Ivy League education for free by sneaking in to classes at prestigious universities. His story — coupled with the skyrocketing costs of a college education — raised serious doubts about the value of a diploma. With tuition costs rising and more than a trillion dollars of student debt in America, alternate routes to achieving a top-tier education are increasingly attractive. The big question for HR: Should we start worrying less about an applicant’s degree and more about the knowledge an applicant brings to the company?

While a Dumas-style education is still an anomaly, hiring managers are likely to encounter candidates who have taken Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). According to Class Central, more than 2400 of these online lectures currently exist from more than 400 universities—including 22 of U.S. News & World Report’s Top 25 Universities.

The topics and structures of these courses vary widely. Students can sign up online to learn about anything from Roman Architecture to Web Application Architecture. Some MOOCs are free, some come at a cost. And some simply involve listening to lectures—with no way to verify that the student learned anything—while others provide assignments, tests and a certification for passing the course.

Here, 5 things to consider when a MOOC shows up on a resume:

To keep reading, click here: 5 Ways to Evaluate MOOCs on a Resume

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Can you fire a pregnant employee?

by Evil HR Lady on March 26, 2015

I was an assistant manager at a restaurant in California. I’m pregnant and have noticed that my general manager began treating me strangely. Then they promoted an employee to be assistant manager, then another day a new person was hired as assistant manager, making 3 assistant managers! The same day the new assistant manager began working, I was dismissed from work for the rest of the day for performance issues. He removed me from my scheduled shifts, giving me less work. I even complained to the owner over the phone to ask him why I was being told to leave work.

I also gave official written notice requesting maternity leave to management And soon after they fired me!
The employee manual even states that any woman that is disabled due to pregnancy or childbirth is entitled to pregnancy disability leave (PDL) I really cannot believe what has been done to me.

Even though, this restaurant has  ‘at will ‘ employment policy it doesn’t apply to pregnant women who request maternity leave. so it was wrongful termination for him to fire me right?

Let’s clear up a little misconception. Getting pregnant doesn’t protect you from termination. Evil HR Lady’s rule of thumb is that you can fire anyone. You can fire a Pregnant, Hispanic, Lesbian, Born Again Christian, Age 45, disabled woman, even though every single one of those characteristics puts her into a protected class (in California–sexual orientation isn’t protected everywhere, but I suspect that’s just a matter of time). But, what you can’t do is fire someone BECAUSE she’s pregnant, Hispanic, blah, blah, blah. So, it’s not true that your job is safe because you requested maternity leave.

Now, are businesses wise to carefully consider terminations for all employees? Yes. While we have “at will” employment in 49 of 50 states (Montana being the one hold out), in practice, we don’t really follow “at will” employment. Most companies won’t fire you just because they can. Firing people is horrible, and most people are basically nice. So, in most cases, you see people terminated for performance, attendance problems, attitude, general behavior or a layoff for financial reasons. So, while you can fire someone because it’s Tuesday, most businesses don’t. And if that employee that you fire, simply because it’s Tuesday, falls into one of those protected classes (and really, everyone is in a protected class because we all have race and gender and national origin, but I digress), the courts are not going to believe you when you say that’s your reason.

So, let’s discuss your case. If I follow correctly, you are an assistant manager at a restaurant. Everything is fine. You get pregnant and tell the boss you are pregnant. Boss suddenly starts treating you differently, cuts your hours, hires a replacement for you and fires you after you formally request maternity leave. Correct? If the cause of the different treatment is the pregnancy, then that’s illegal. You can hire a lawyer, or you can file a complaint with the EEOC. The lawyer is more expensive, of course, but the EEOC is pretty slow.

But, there was one other thing you said–you were sent home for “performance reasons.” So, my question is, do you have performance issues? Because if you do, then the termination could be legal. Restaurants often have pretty easily measured performance goals, so it can be pretty obvious when an assistant manager is failing to meet expectations. If you were under the impression that your pregnancy protected your job, and slacked off because of it, that could mean the firing was perfectly legal.

The Supreme Court just handed down a new decision on pregnancy discrimination that essentially requires companies to provide accommodations for pregnancy if they provide accommodations for any disability. But, I don’t think you asked for accommodations and were denied.

So, it’s possible that you were fired for an illegal reason–pregnancy. But, it’s also possible you were fired for performance. If you believe your performance was great, file a complaint with the EEOC or call an attorney. If you think it was performance, well, bummer.

Congrats on the new baby! May your labor be pain-free and your baby sleep loving.

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15 True Tales of Job Interview Embarrassment

by Evil HR Lady on March 24, 2015

Job interviews are often awful–even when we do well. Sometimes, though, we torpedo our own chances by opening our own mouths. Here are 20 true stories of interviews gone wrong:

When honesty is not the best policy

1. I once interviewed for a job as a diversity trainer. “Why do you want the job?” they asked. “Well, I’ve hated every diversity training I’ve ever been to.” I went on to explain why that was relevant, but I had already talked myself out of a job.

2. The first interview I ever had was at McDonald’s when I was 16. When asked, “Can you work under pressure?” I answered, “No.” I didn’t realize until later that that was a mistake.

To keep reading, click here: 15 True Tales of Job Interview Embarrassment

This is article 2 or 3 based on your stories. I’d love more stories, if you have them.

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20 Embarrassing Things Never to Say in a Job Interview

by Evil HR Lady on March 23, 2015

We all have to do job interviews–either as the candidate or as the boss interviewing candidates. (We’ve all been the candidate at one time or another, regardless of where we sit now.) Lots of different topics come up in job interviews, and conversations go all over the place, but there are 20 words and phrases that should never, ever, come out of your mouth.

1. Retarded. You may have grown up in the era where saying, “That’s so retarded” simply meant something was silly or dumb. For instance, “Mom says I can’t go to the prom because I failed chemistry. That’s so retarded.” Ban this word from not only your job interview vocabulary but your everyday vocabulary. It’s not acceptable. Say what you really mean instead. For instance, “Mom says I can’t go to the prom because I failed chemistry. That’s great parenting!”

2. Almost. “I almost got promoted.” This means you did not get promoted. While almost is a great word for many things, in a job interview, talking about what you “almost” did takes away from what you did do. Focus on actual accomplishments, not things you almost did.

To keep reading, click here: 20 Embarrassing Things Never to Say in a Job Interview

This is the first of 2 (or possibly 3) articles from your amazing stories. Thank you!

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Will this go on my permanent record?

by Evil HR Lady on March 23, 2015

I was reading your article and had a few questions in regards to larger companies. What happens after the company has fired the accused? Are legal charges ever brought up? What if the accused was fired but didn’t actually commit the harassment? Does it go on a public record?

Your teachers liked to threaten students with putting things on their “permanent” records, but we all know that wasn’t permanent. After all, I doubt Lowell Elementary school even has a record of the time that I and several other 6th graders got called into the principal’s office for switching seats on the bus during an orchestra field trip. We all lied and said that the bus driver must have been confusing us with other kids, and the principal either believed us or figured, “They leave this school in 2 weeks and for goodness’ sake these are orchestra kids. It’s not like their nerdy selves have ever done anything else even remotely bad.” I suspect the latter is the case, as I’m sure elementary school principals are well skilled in lying 6th graders. (For the record, I only changed seats once, but my friend Carrie, she did it a lot. She was a violinist, and we know how they are.)

My point is there’s no permanent record and there’s no central depository of people who were fired for a harassment. (Please don’t give Congress any ideas.) If there was no court case and if there was no media coverage (official channels or co-workers discussing it on Facebook) it’s not even going to be Googleable. So, no person on the street will be able to go an internet search and find out that you were fired for harassing someone.

Whew!

Well, not quite. While there isn’t a public record, there is a private record, and your former company will maintain that. With today’s HR computer systems, it just may well be permanent. In 25 years, someone can call your previous company and say, “Can you tell us Jane Smith’s reason for termination?” and some 22-year-old HR admin who wasn’t even born when this event went down will be able to pull up your file and say, “Jane was terminated on 23 March, 2015 for harassment.” That information will stay there.

Now, the better question is, will they? Many, many companies simply verify dates of employment and titles. Most managers, though, will spill the beans, regardless of company policy. It’s a pretty rare company that allows their HR admin to say anything other than dates of service and job titles and maybe rehire eligibility. But, legally? They can as long as what they are saying is true. They can even legally say, “Jane was fired for harassment,” without turning over the evidence that led them to that decision.

But, here’s the thing most people don’t know about–this is all negotiable. You can ask directly what they will say about you in a reference check. You can hire a reference firm to call for you and do a reference check and verify what is said. (You can ask a friend to do this as well, but unless your friend is experienced at this, it’s better to pay to have a reputable firm do this.) In your case, since you say you are innocent (and my readers only rarely lie to me), you can almost certainly get them to give only a neutral reference. Sometimes you can do this on your own. Sometimes you can hire an attorney. Sometimes even the reference checking firms offer a “cease and desist” letter service which essentially tells the company they have to stop. It’s expensive for the company to go to court, so they simply revert to confirming dates of service.

So, ask what they will say. Ask what your record shows. Don’t be nervous about it–after all, they’ve already fired you so there’s not much more they can do to you. If they say they’ll say X and you think they are saying Y, it’s worth the money to hire the reference firm.

And one other note about permanency: Even if the company you worked for is sold or divided, your record will follow. In this way, 10 years from now you can find yourself on the do not hire list for a company you never worked for because they purchased a division of your former company and got the old employee records with it. It’s easy to transfer all the computer files. (Well, relatively easy. Yes, I’ve been through multiple HRIS implementations and record transfers. It looks easy to the employees. To the HRIS and IT people, it is decidedly NOT EASY, but they do it anyway.)

TL;DR There’s no public record, other than the internet. Your company can tell reference checkers what happened. Most won’t, but most managers will. You can find out for yourself what they are saying and dispute it before it causes you harm. If you want a lawyer, make sure you get an employment one.

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Is my exempt boss double dipping?

by Evil HR Lady on March 19, 2015

The VP of hospital operations recently came to our skilled nursing facility, which is a part of the hospital. She asked what our census was, 2 patients, and then pulled our administrator into the office for a talk. When she emerged 30 minutes later our administrator followed shortly after. She, then proceeded to inform me and another nurse that until our census comes up somebody has to go home. I was then told not to come to work the next day and they would let me know what would happen Friday.

Sounds pretty right, right? Wrong! The issue I’m having is the state department of health set guidelines that regulate how many staff and nurses have to be present when there are 1-20 patients, which is 2. At least one has to be a R.N. And wouldn’t you know our administrator is a R.N, but she is obligated to do a job which makes her an exempt employee. We also have a Director of Nursing. She is also salaried, an R.Na., with her own set of job responsibilities. What has happened now is whenever the DON and/or administrator are working, practically everyday, the nurses that are scheduled to work are either cancelled or forced to work alternate shifts in order to get hours of work. So basically the director and administrator are salaried employees doing their jobs plus the jobs of the staff in order to cut costs or double dipping as I like to call it.

My question is, despite the blatant violation of department of health regulations, is it legal for our employer to do this? I and  my coworkers have tried contacting human resources, but they have offered no answers or assistance. In fact, they have completely blown us off and will not return anyone’s phone calls. No one can provide a policy on cancellations or standards of practice when the census of the facility is low. We all attended an orientation with a handbook provided via the intranet, but most of the policies within the handbook relate directly to the hospital which is an entirely different entity with its own set of rules and regulations, most of which don’t coincide with our facilities rules and regulations.

Thank you for your time. I sincerely hope you have an answer that can help me understand.

First of all, a disclaimer–I don’t know squat about nursing regulations, so I’m going on this based on exactly what you said which is:

1. For up to 20 patients, two people are required to be there, one of which must be a licensed Registered Nurse.

2. There are only 2 patients.

3. Both the Administrator and the Director of Nursing are R.N.s.

Now, as I said, I’m not familiar with staffing ratios for your state, but I fail to see how having 2 available R.N.s violates the regulation. It sounds like they are doing patient care when you are sent home. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong–if, for instance, the regulation states that people who hold administrative positions can’t count towards the number of nurses required, then they would be in violation. But, from what you’ve said, it seems like there is an R.N. available.

The second thing is, if there are only 2 patients, there isn’t nearly as much care needed as if there were 20. So, having additional staff does seem like it isn’t needed. Again, I’m not a nurse, but if I could take care of 10 patients on my own (2 nurses needed for 20 patients), then having 2 R.N.s taking care of 2 patients and doing administrative duties doesn’t seem that terrible.

The third thing is what you labeled “double dipping.” Exempt employees get paid a set amount, regardless of the amount of work they do. So, if the Director of Nursing has to also do patient care, she doesn’t get a bonus. She gets the same paycheck. She gets the same paycheck whether she’s putting in 40 hours per week or 60. She’s not financially benefitting from doing this.

Someone is financially benefitting though, and that’s the business. If they don’t have to pay people on top of the salaried employees, whose costs are fixed, then they are doing well. It’s no wonder that they want to send you home if there isn’t enough work to do.

So, the problem doesn’t appear to be a violation of law and it doesn’t seem to be an ethical violation. It seems to me, that the problem is that you’re not getting to work. And, because you’re not getting to work, you’re not getting paid. That flat out stinks and is a HUGE problem. HUGE. You can be justifiably angry by it. But, complaining about legal violations when there don’t appear to be any won’t help your case.

What you need are more patients. Unfortunately, it’s illegal for you to go around knocking people’s kneecaps out so they need to be in a skilled nursing facility. You’re just going to have to wait.

Now, the question is, is this normal? Is the census frequently that low? If it is, it’s time to start looking for another job because this one is not going to pay enough for you to get by. If it’s not normal, and you expect that, come next Tuesday, there will be 43 people in your facility, then this is a temporary problem.

You can certainly ask if they expect the numbers to go up. You can ask to be transferred to another facility. You can look for a new job or take a per diem job temporarily. You can ask that if only one person is needed that you and your coworkers rotate through so it’s as fair as possible.

But, otherwise, this looks like a financial decision made by the business. Which totally stinks for you. It does. But, until you have more patients, you’re probably out of luck.

 

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5 Reasons You Should Strive for Mediocrity

by Evil HR Lady on March 18, 2015

A meme appeared on my Facebook feed with the following text:

Always remember:

  • The Squeaky wheel gets outsourced
  • High achievers end up working unpaid overtime
  • No good deed goes unpunished
  • Dare to be adequate!

True? False? There is absolutely some truth to those principles. If you annoy the boss enough, she won’t fight to save your job–but it’s pretty rare that a company decides to outsource a function based on one annoying employee. There are absolutely employees who bust their buns and work all kinds of crazy hours, only to be rewarded with more work, no praise and no promotion. So, do you want to be “adequate?” Think about these 5 reasons.

To keep reading, click here: 5 Reasons You Should Strive for Mediocrity

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Many years ago, I interviewed for what turned out to be my very first job managing people. I was naive and optimistic, a fact which must have amused the VP of HR who interviewed me. She asked, “Why do you want to manage people?”

I don’t remember my exact answer, but it was something along the lines of, “I know a lot about this area and I feel like I can be a great mentor to people. I’m really excited to share what I know about HR data with others and build a great team.”

She laughed and said, “Suzanne, I’ll tell you a secret. Managing people is a pain in the behind.” I got the job anyway, and I started with a heart full of hope and a head full of ideas. But, I was woefully unprepared to manage other humans.

To keep reading, click here: Leaders set the pace through their expectations an example.

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Wanted: Your embarrassing interview stories

by Evil HR Lady on March 16, 2015

Inc has asked me to write an article about things NOT to say in a job interview. I thought stories would be more fun than a list. Have you ever thoroughly embarrassed yourself in a job interview? Or interviewed someone who embarrassed himself? Send me an email (evilhrlady@gmail.com) or write a comment.

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