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On Behalf Of Keith Hansen
> This raises a question I have. Assume the following:
> * Employee is salaried, exempt worker.
> * Employer demands that employee work 60, 70, or 80 hours per week
> consistently--no overtime or additional compensation of any kind.
> * Employee refuses.
> * Employer accuses employee of insubordination and terminates him/her.
> * Employee files claim for unemployment benefits.
> * Employer contests claim, stating that employee was insubordinate and
> justifiably terminated for failure to perform his/her job adequately.
> I am assuming, of course, that this takes place in an
> state. What position would most state unemployment review boards take
> I am not in such a situation, nor have I ever been. (Therefore, if the
> answer to my question is obvious to all but myself, I apologize!) But
> am curious: what typically happens in the above situation? In other
> words, have any state unemployment review boards ruled:
> * That such hours constitute servitude (if so, what is the magic
> 50? 75? 100 hours?!)
> * That the employee is justified in refusing to work them
> * That the employer cannot successfully contest claims in such a
I don't believe it ever happens like that (somebody will now pipe up
with that _one_ single exception).
If the company is going to demand "excessive" hours, they aren't going
to do it to your face.
Instead, there'll be a culture of it.
Pressure will be as much from fellow employees as from the boss.
The boss (who either is getting some reward for it, or imagines that
s/he will be recognized and rewarded) will lead by example and "expect"
everyone to nearly match the extreme hours. The boss, of course, will
have a higher income and people to whom to delegate both work and
"family" stuff, and therefore will have greater ability to stay those
long hours. That stay-in-the-saddle stamina will be matched only by
twenty-something employees with no lives. Thirty-and-forty-somethings
with lives and families will be forever not living up, and constantly
worried about being replaced.
The punishment for failure to work horrendous hours (for no discernible
compensation) would not likely be outright dismissal, with that given as
the reason, since there are so many other ways...
You'd find yourself passed over and/or excluded. You _would_ be shunted
into the "division" that gets shut down or sold off, or everybody would
get the boot and then only the workaholic favorites would get invited
back, possibly as contractors.
They'd examine the insurance-claim records, find out that you'd been
claiming big bucks to cope with your child's devastating illness and
negotiate next year's benefits package to exclude that coverage.
I could go on.
Nobody has to single out anyone for firing, nor even make up bogus
causes to satisfy "for cause" requirements. Even in an at-will
situation, most employers will be smart enough to not make public asses
of themselves. They know they'll have to top up the human resources
every so often.
But hey, I could be wrong. There might indeed be more than a few places
that literally stand in front of you and order you to work 80 hours per
week with no additional compensation. In a really one-sided employer's
market, I suppose they could do it for a while. All they'd need are
suckers who accept being paid half the rate they signed up for and who
don't have the courage to pull up stakes and move to a part of the
country where sanity prevails.
(who doesn't know what he'd do, either)
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