I spent a lot of time last week trying to decide if the burden of being right was truly the pain in the ass that it was seeming or just the cost of living in this self-service gaslighting state of affairs that is America today.
That did provide me some solace in the form of nostalgic thoughts I had from back when being right was fun and exciting. Knowledge was a pursuit, a validation…an overall positive attribute.
<sigh> The good, old days.
My final pay from the temp agency I’ve worked with for off and on the past four years fucked up my final paycheck. Having nicknamed them based on the quality of my engagements with them –
– I can’t say that I was surprised. But I should admit that I was also impressed by the commitment they showed to delivering poor quality work with this particular fuck up.
I mean, honestly, it had to have simply been an epic string of comfortably employed idiots crossing my path because no truly stupid American could coordinate such fuck-uppery. Still, mad props to the recruiting team that assembled this melange of morons.
Quick (that’s a lie) backstory:
There was an app update about two months ago now. It was kind of a big deal, since for temps, all work is remote from your “employer”, regardless of whether you’re in an office setting or working from home. All of my timekeeping was done in the app.
The big change in this update was the prompt to indicate whether you worked onsite for their client or from your home. But it was easy, just record your time each day, then when you review at the end of each week, you’re given a slider for each day to toggle to remote or on-site.
Now, when I was offered this role, it was with the understanding that it would be about a 40/60 split. I was prepared to work Tuesdays and Wednesdays on-site and the rest of the days from home. However, COVID had other ideas and since Washington state – where the offices were located – was under an indoor N95 mask mandate, so the company was letting anyone who could work remotely do so.
When that mandate was lifted, my division’s (Finance) leadership decided to try a one day on-site return to office. As the COVID exposure communications became more than weekly, we were told to only come in if necessary. For me, that’s nearly never, so I’ve been working from downtown Portland, Oregon for most of my history on this assignment…I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to the office in six months now.
And that’s exactly what I told the industrious stranger from Robert Half-Ass that emailed out of the blue about six weeks ago asking about my remote indicators from my recent timesheets. Well, not the six month part, it was just four-plus back then. This person I’d never heard of before said she appreciated my response and it was just some internal stuff for reporting and such.
Anyway, smash-cut to the not too distant past when the conversation about converting me to a Core employee was happening with the company I was assigned to. The timing was setting up to occur the same week I’d planned to be working from the high desert during the week of my family’s annual trip. I’d committed to the arrangement thinking I’d burn some of my Sick Pay that I’d accrued with Robert Half-Ass by taking a few days off before I transitioned to Core status with the old/new company.
When I submitted my timesheet for what was my final week of work with Robert Half-Ass, I received an error message from the app that I didn’t have enough Sick Pay to cover the two days I had requested.
I mean, I’m no MIT grad, but I still knew that 8+8 equaled 16 – and that 16 was less than 18, so I was confused. Mind you, I never understood Common Core and wrote it off as nonsense, but was open to the idea that it was valid and the people who tried explaining it to me were all idiot, no savant.
But I digress.
My timesheet was telling me I only had 6 hours of Sick Pay available despite what the app that timesheet lived in was telling me. I checked my last paystub and it said I only had 6 hours, so there was a disconnect somewhere. Then I noticed it said “OR Sick Pay”. That prompted me to say “Fucking Robert Half-Ass!” to my empty home, since I immediately knew that the question I had helpfully answered a few weeks prior had fucked me over. More to the point, the Robert Half-Ass go-getter had done so after making whatever internal updates that she thought necessary. Clearly, I was going to need some help resolving that on Monday, which is a bummer since when I submit my timesheet on Friday, I usually get paid on Tuesday. Wednesday at the latest.
But Monday had other plans for me and my job ate my life that day. Tuesday morning, I got an email from yet another Robert Half-Ass employee I’d never heard of sending me an Urgent Reminder to submit my timesheet. I reply back with the backstory and she tells me she’ll look into it. She gets back to me a little later telling me to call the I9 team so they can figure out if I should be accruing Sick Time based on Oregon or Washington law.
I mean…A) you do it. And, B) as I understand it, I9s are the forms used to record proof of employment eligibility in the United States, not any particular state and therefore shouldn’t have anything to do with what state I work in or whose employment laws I should be following.
But, ok. I call and they say it’ll take 24 hours to get a response. Oh, and also that Sick Pay isn’t portable, so when I move, I lose it. They’ve never heard of merging accrued time from different policies. They remain unimpressed and utterly unconcerned when I stress that I didn’t move, one of their cohorts toggled a switch and changed my work location.
Again, my assignment was to a WA-based company and it was known that the majority of work would be from my home in Oregon when the assignment started. If something needed to be changed, it was because someone set me up wrong from the get-go. All I did was accept an assignment and show up every day.
Definitely, fuck me for that.
Wednesday I get a “Second Urgent Reminder” from the same nitwit, despite my telling her it would be 24 hours before I got an answer from the people she directed me to. When I remind her of this – after the 24 hour window has closed with no follow up – she suggests I delete the Sick Time from my timesheet and she’ll submit a manual timesheet for my Sick Time. She also asks if I’ve called customer service, which provides me with a good stretch for my eyes as they simultaneously bulge out of and roll back in their sockets as I read this.
I tell her I’m not editing my timesheet, because then I have no record of my original document. Plus, I’d be submitting an inaccurate document and attesting that it was accurate by doing so. I tell her that my trust in her outfit is nowhere near strong enough for that level of faith. I can literally see them using my timesheet against me as justification to drop the whole matter.
The customer service people get back to me and are empathetic to my situation and promise to get me some help…as they tell me “No”.
The next day, I’m told again to submit a false document. “Hell, no” is still my answer, but they force my worked hours through the system without client approval so I can get those hours paid before the weekend. Over the next couple of days, I get three more responses from the same customer service mailbox, all from different people. The first is a solid, although phoned in affirmation of the “No” I’d received earlier and the other two are “Super-duper sorry for the delayed response, but it looks like someone else helped you!”
Did they? I seem to have missed the part where someone did something helpful.
I tell the original Urgent Reminder lady that if my Sick Pay isn’t paid or set to be paid on Monday, which would be two weeks late, I’m filing a Wage Claim with the Bureau of Labor and Industry.
Of course, it isn’t resolved and of course Monday also has different plans for me, again. But on Tuesday I am still on radio silence, so I fill out a Wage Claim on the BOLI website and submit screen shots of the different Sick Pay balances and the email thread asking about my work location.
I also forward the BOLI claim confirmation email to the Urgent Reminder lady, the Industrious Half-Asser that changed my work location without telling me and the customer service mailbox.
Feeling petty, I start off with “As promised” and then take the opportunity to remind them of the germane factors in their fuck up. Then I close with something like…well, I’ll throw in a screen shot because I won’t do it justice from memory. Hold please.
I particularly enjoyed the “maybe this will help you find your wallet” part. Like I’m a cartoon mafioso holding someone up by their ankles and shaking change out of their pockets.
Three days pass, nothing. I briefly debated following up with a message pointing out that not even apologizing for the position their internal dumb-fuckery put me in and continuing to carefully avoid admitting any wrong doing whatsoever demonstrates what low-caliber individuals these people are. Successfully, I resist. I know I’d also end up putting something in there about how misguided it is to choose loyalty to an organization that openly demonstrates how little loyalty it had to the mules whose efforts fill its corporate coffers.
Idiots. Remember, American culture is self-service gaslighting…the hell with right or wrong, what can one get away with?
Friday is the day I get a call featured in the picture above. She’s using her “Look how friendly and helpful I’m being!” voice, which I repeatedly remind her I’m not buying.
She promises me that she can get me paid.
…if I will only go in and edit my Sick Pay out of my timesheet.
I flat out ask her why everyone has such a hard-on about my timesheet. Her response is a series of unimpressive sputters and assurances I cannot take to the bank. But if I’ll just do it, she can get a deposit for my Sick Pay set up by the end of the day. She even promises to put it in an email for my records.
I acquiesce, telling her I’ll take her email but I’m also taking screenshots of the before and after on each of the days on my timesheet I’m being made to edit before they will pay me. That oughta partner up nicely with my and her phone logs to give me the comfort to edit the timesheet I’m not ever submitting. The worked hours have already been paid without me submitting the damn thing, but Robert Half-Ass simply cannot pay the Sick Pay unless it’s not recorded on my timesheet.
Fine. Gotta love that logic.
It’s done and our call ends after I implore her to dig deeper into who else this has happened to, because there’s no way I’m the only temp assigned across state lines in a border city like Portland. If it hasn’t happened to someone else yet, it’s just that…it hasn’t happened yet. By the time it comes up, perhaps the employee will have accrued enough time in their new policy to cover a sick day – I’d nearly gotten there, only two weeks away since in either state we accrue 1 hour of Sick Pay for every 30 hours worked.
She told me that was above her pay grade but she’d send it up the ladder. Oh, that inspired confidence. So I reminded her that they weren’t paying me my earned time off without BOLI holding a figurative gun to their head, so I had zero doubts she’d pass anything on to anyone without a figurative gun to her head nor would they do anything about it unless they were forced to.
Sure enough, a few hours later, she sent me that email. You know what she started it with?
“As promised”. The very words I started my email to them with when I confirmed my Wage Claim submission with them. Isn’t that pettiness cute? She quoted me back to me.
In a show of appreciation of that shitty attitude, I’m leaving my Wage Claim open and pursuing penalty pay – which is capped at a cool 100% of the unpaid wages. It won’t hurt them, but it’s the principle.
Someone really should have showed a little professional mortification over this whole shitshow.