How do you deal with unethical business practices?

This article was originally posted July 29, 2011 by the Huntsman School Blog.

My neighbor, my cousin, and my wife’s best friend’s ex-boyfriend all work at the same small business. (I wrote a blog about networking. Check it out here.)

Recently, I’ve had conversations with them about their frustrations with their jobs. They’ve had small issues come up before, like the owners driving BMW’s and Audi’s, while it takes over a year and a half for the employees to get a 36¢ raise.

A couple of weeks ago, a team of six employees went on a five-day retreat with about two dozen clients. These employees are all full-time college students in entry-level positions and get paid less than $10/hour, so when they received their paychecks, they were pretty angry to find that they were only paid for 12 hours a day, when they had worked 16.

Their company claims to value open, honest communication and healthy relationships, so when these employees went to talk to the owners, they were surprised when their concern was dismissed, but they also felt their jobs were threatened if they continued to bring it up.

Sometimes I write blogs because I want to share something I’ve learned. I’m writing this one because I’m sure there are ways of reporting unethical businesses, but none of my acquaintances know who to talk to.

There is a comments section. I’m sure there are others out there who don’t know what to do about ethics at their jobs (or the lack thereof).

These friends would quit, but it’s not an easy thing to find a job in Logan.

My neighbor once explained the job situation in Logan like this: every employer knows that there is a near endless supply of college students desperate for work, whom they can pay whatever they want. So they pay the lowest hourly rate they can get away with, knowing that if some employee starts making trouble, they’re easily replaced.

That’s why my neighbor is just going to keep his head down and hope he can find another job. He’s been working for this small business for about a year and is one of the most senior employees at this job.

My cousin, after confronting the owners about his paycheck, has since, without explanation, found himself no longer scheduled as part of this six-man team that goes out with the clients. He is just one of the regular employees now, back at the office. He needs the money to go to school and pay rent and eat, so it’s better than no job at all.

I’m saying this all second-hand so it might not have the same effect, but it makes my blood boil when I hear it from them.

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