An Open Letter to my Summer Boss

I got my first job in summer 2017. Having never worked before, I felt powerful to be able to earn money and then spend it how I choose. However, it quickly turned from my happy place to a personal hell, as I was overworked, underpaid and too polite to demand my rights. It was too late to find another job for the summer so I continued to work there, steadily clocking in 30 hours per week. After I handed in my two weeks notice in August, I felt relief knowing that experience would be drawing to a close and I would never have to return. Little did I know I would be writing this article in January as my battle royale finally ended. So, without further ado, here is my letter:

Dear former employer,

I would first like to thank you. Thank you for hiring me, a university student with little to no job experience, who you knew could only work for you for a few months. Thank you for taking a chance on me, for giving me my first real job.

Thank you, also, for teaching me about the Employment Standards Act. Though you never showed me this or informed me about it, you took the time to consistently abuse it. Because of this, I complained to my parents about the awful conditions I was working under, and they promptly informed me about my rights as an employee and all the ways you were abusing me under it.

Thank you for teaching me to stick up for myself even when it comes to people in positions of power above myself. Being an RCMP officer and a father to a girl my age, I trusted you to take care of me, to make sure that I was being treated fairly in the workplace. Instead, you held over my head that you were an RCMP officer and therefore knew more about the law than me, making me believe you when you said it was legal for me to work six-plus hours without a break. Making me believe you when you said I was required to wear yoga pants or shorts to work (neither of which you provided). Making me believe you when you said that, because you forgot to pay me for a shift on my last paycheck, legally, I must wait for the next one. Making me believe you when you said you legally did not have to give me the tips I earned over the summer because I quit instead of getting fired.

Now it’s my turn to make you believe a few things, things you should’ve already known, things that are the law:

  • Under part 4, section 32 of the BC Employment Standards Act, is illegal for you to force me to work for more than five hours without a 30-minute break. And a side note: when I was training employees and had free time to eat my lunch in the back of the store, that didn’t count as a break because I couldn’t leave the store.

  • Under part 3, section 25, you legally cannot force me to wear something unless you provide it and clean it, or pay me to clean it. So no, you were not allowed to ask me to change what I was wearing in the 30+ degree heat.

  • Under part 3, section 17, you have to pay me within eight days of any missed wages, not on the next paycheck.

  • Under part 3, subsection (f), you cannot withhold my tips to pay for business costs or lost merchandise.

I hope that this has educated you so that you will no longer abuse your employees in the way you took advantage of me. Once again, thank you for the opportunity, and may we never see each other again.


A Former Employee

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