Signs You’re Being Exploited by Your Employer

It can’t be denied that some employers are more sensitive to the needs of their respective workforces than others. Whereas some companies recognize employees as people and respect their right to have lives outside of their jobs, others won’t hesitate to work people into the ground and retaliate if they dare to complain. Unsurprisingly, this type of work environment can make it impossible to maintain any semblance of a work/life balance and lead to problems with both physical health and psychological well-being. If your employer engages in any of the following behaviors, it may be time to seek out a new job, as there’s a good chance you’re being exploited.

Unmanageable Workloads

While one should typically be expected to be kept busy at work, there are limits to what constitutes a healthy workload. However, if you’re routinely given more work than you can reasonably be expected to complete within a manageable time-frame, you may be the victim of overwork. In some cases, this is the result of employers simply not caring about the toll overwork takes on employees and focusing solely on their bottom line. Other times, however, overwork can come about unintentionally. For example, if you consistently go above and beyond the call of duty, it’s only natural that your employer would have high expectations of you and give you workloads that reflect this fact. In such instances, employers often don’t understand that employees are being overworked – especially if the latter refuses to speak up.

Although not wanting to get on your employer’s bad side is perfectly understandable, you shouldn’t simply sit back and allow yourself to be consumed by massive amounts of work. So, if unmanageable workloads are a persistent issue at your place of business, let your bosses know that adjustments need to be. Should they prove unreceptive to this request, consider speaking to a lawyer and/or seeking employment elsewhere. 

Unpaid Overtime

Unpaid overtime is among the foremost signs of worker exploitation. Your obligation to your employer ends when you stop being paid for your contributions. So, if you’re paid for 40 hours a week, your employer isn’t owed any more time than that – particularly if no additional compensation is being provided.

Unfortunately, bringing work home and continuing the workday into the wee hours has become commonplace in the U.S. This essentially ensures that the workday never truly ends. Even if you have a genuine passion for what you do, no employer is owed this much of your time. If your employer expects you to continue working after-hours or come in on weekends, they need to compensate you for your efforts or amend their expectations accordingly.     

Lack of Respect for Your Personal Life

Many companies view their employees as disposable worker drones and refuse to recognize that these individuals have value outside of their jobs. As such, they have absolutely no qualms about intruding on their personal time and throwing a wrench into their work/life balance. If you’re expected to remain on call or answer emails after regular work hours, on weekends or during designated vacation periods, your employer is engaged in exploitative behavior. Furthermore, if your employer shows no flexibility when you need to tend to family emergencies or fulfill other personal obligations, this indicates that your life outside of work is viewed as nothing more than an inconvenience.

Additionally, employers who retaliate against workers for attempting to go on personal or medical leave should have their behavior challenged in a legal setting. For example, if your efforts to go on leave under the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) were met with retaliation from your employer, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney. FMLA discrimination shouldn’t be tolerated, and any employer who engages in it should be made to answer for their actions. 

While people who enjoy working certainly exist, most members of the workforce aren’t crazy about their jobs. However, there’s a stark difference between working a job you’re not particularly passionate about and being victimized by an exploitative employer. Some companies are keen on taking advantage of people’s financial insecurities and working them to the point of physical and mental exhaustion. If this sounds like your situation at work – or any of the previously discussed signs apply to your employer – you may be the victim of exploitation and entitled to compensation.