Does your job:
- Make you do things that you think are unethical?
- Subject you to abuse (verbal, physical, sexual harassment, etc.)?
- Rip you off (e.g. underpay you, deny your obvious need for medical leave, etc.)?
If you answered ‘yes’ to one or more of these questions, then you may well have a legal claim against your employer. You may call a lawyer and check into that.
But more importantly, you may want to question why you put up with it, continuing to get slapped by the hand that feeds you. There are other hands out there. If you are fired or treated too adversely, you will be forced to find a new employer. So why not start the job search now, when it’s already clear to you that your employer is acting against your interests?
I get phone calls from employees all the time who describe legitimate, painful hardships inflicted upon them by their employers. So then I ask, “Are you looking for a new job?”
Disappointingly, often the answer is “No,” or “Not yet, but I plan on it,” or “No, because no one else would hire me.”
As these answers show: many employees who are being treated unfairly do not react proactively. When obvious trouble arises, they do not react by planning for the worst and sending out resumes, etc. Rather, they spend a great deal of time: (1) internalizing the employer’s irrational criticisms (e.g. “Maybe I really am a lousy employee for getting cancer and having to take leave from work”); (2) futilely trying to debate the employer’s irrational criticisms (e.g. “Why are you giving me a ‘final warning’ for an ‘attendance problem’ when I’m taking leave for chemotherapy? I’m going to file my third grievance against you guys if you fire me”); and/or (3) avoiding a job search, because they believe that no other employer would hire them anyway.
Such self-tormenting is sympathetic and understandable. A conscientious person wants to examine criticisms and actions against them, to examine if the criticisms have merit, and if the person can improve things. This is the natural reaction of a conscientious employee. But it’s the wrong reaction. If you encounter unfair conduct and see the writing is on the wall, you should not stick around to analyze or debate it. Nor should you become paralyzed by self-doubts, such as “No one would want to hire someone like me, because I [fill in the self-defeating blank].”
You HAVE to get hired somewhere else. So get over your doubts, NOW, and go and start doing the many things it will take to get hired.
The moment you recognize your employer has turned against your interests, get going with Plan B immediately. Send out resumes and prepare a safety net to land on. The same employer who unfairly denies your cancer leave may also unfairly decide to fire you.