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I've read many posts on your forum but none presents a situation quite like mine, with the exception of the interesting read-through 'Overworked. Is there legal action that can be taken?' - an interesting and relatively helpful read-through.
I've been pretty interested in labor laws knowing my rights since last Tuesday when, tired, I was walking home from my office and was hit by a car. By some miracle I am not badly injured.
I work at a profile office in a field allied with architecture (though my degree is architecture) in a large west-coast city. My team is at the start of a huge project and we are understaffed, overworked, and generally hating the hours. I love working with almost everyone at the office and most projects, but this schedule is out of control and I, along with all other team members, have voiced this to our supervisor.
I believe that good design does not have to be produced in a way that threatens the health of the designers. I am more than happy to work on a hard deadline when I feel the work is worthwhile. I am a few years out of school, nowhere near licensed, I have a strong voice in my office, salaried without overtime like most of us, and I believe our workload is due to bad management and overproduction rather than necessity. I will tell them this, but I am looking for facts/examples/a few good ideas to back me up.
I know that the studio culture initiative in architecture schools began after a student died while driving after lack of sleep. Has anyone heard of anything similar for professional practice?
Is there a place I can go to online that could decipher labor laws?
A friend who works HR at an architecture firm mentioned that the city/state/or federal government has recently been targeting architecture offices because of their work practices. Has anyone experienced this?
Thanks for your input.
you should be able to get some free advice from the Dept of Labor. good luck. search employment law online or just call. I've called before and got a good answer from the first person I talked to.
Lemme' get this straight.
You were walking home from work. You claim you were tired because your firm is overworking you. You were not watching where you were going. You got hit by a car (glad you're okay). You want to hold the firm accountable for your injury, or use that accident to force the firm to change its work practices.
Gimme' a break.
IMO, this is not an issue for the DOL ... it is an issue for the individual employees of the firm. If enough of you say "I won't do this any more" then the firm either a) will hire a new labor force who will, or b) change their practices. I'm betting on a).
You're a salaried professional. You are paid your salary to complete your job responsibilities, regardless of the time required. Presumably, if you did any homework at all, you knew what you were getting into before you took the job.
If you don't like the working conditions, leave your job. You're not handcuffed to the firm ... you can leave anytime you want. I'm sure there are plenty of others who will be glad to take your place.
Most, if not all, government interest in the work practices of design firms focuses on the practice of using unpaid labor. Now THAT is a valid concern for the DOL. This is not.
So there is a flip side to this too: when the project is complete, and things are slower, if you leave early every day, and only put in say 30 hours for that week because you got your work done, they cannot dock your pay for that week. If they try to dock your pay, it would prove that they considered you an hourly employee, thereby letting you collect back pay for overtime hours.
If it is an occasional spurt of lots of overtime to meet a deadline, then I think you should just suck it up and be glad you have job. Scheduling work flow is unbelievably difficult in this industry. If this goes on for months, then they are taking advantage of you.
from employment law website;
Mandatory Overtime Lawsuits
Employers can't always get away with forcing mandatory overtime, such as by "squeezing" current workers to avoid hiring new workers. Employee lawsuits against employers regarding excessive mandatory overtime are on the rise, particularly by salaried-exempt employees.
Because salaried-exempt employees are not eligible for overtime pay under the FLSA, employers may require them to work extra hours without extra pay. Even so, when forced, excessive work hours became the "norm" every workweek, some salaried-exempt employees filed and won so-called mandatory overtime lawsuits.
Consult an attorney about challenging your employer's forcing of excessive mandatory overtime, through a lawsuit. Overtime lawsuits are often class actions.
In contract negotiations, union workers too have won mandatory overtime concessions; for example, when employers forced it to avoid hiring new union workers. Consult your union rep about that.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a Safety and Health Guide entitled "Extended/Unusual Work Shifts". It recommends that employers grant extra meal and rest breaks when work shifts exceed eight hours per day. But, it's only a guide with no legal teeth.
I don't know about labor laws, but at the very least you should have a talk with your bosses about their policy regarding late hours. Most firms have a policy that all employees who work past a certain hour (say 9pm) are entitled to cab service home, reimbursed by the firm. They will often pay for dinner as well.
Trade places - You can have my 14 months of unemployment, If I can work your long hours. It's like Jabber says
"You're a salaried professional. You are paid your salary to complete your job responsibilities, regardless of the time required. Presumably, if you did any homework at all, you knew what you were getting into before you took the job."
You don't want to be in my shoes - believe me - working 80 hour weeks in heaven from this perspective -
I think of a lot of you who are unemployed and pissed off here are missing the point of this post. I remember working for a company and I was a salaried professional as well.
It is expected to work whatever time it takes to get the project done, but when you are working with project managers who have no life, and regularly over the weekday work hours they spend most of their time chit/chat and not doing squat, they are so determined and happy having no problem coming every weekend, Saturday, Sunday, and late nights every day to finish up or work in a project and of course bring along the whole team to finish up the work that clearly could have been done during regular work hours, that is just not right. Especially for those who have families or do have some life out from work.
I am glad I left that place and moved somewhere else.
A job with less salary may result to heart attack due to depression and pressure that an individual experience.
well.. people are never satisfied. Too little pay, no job, over worked, not enough hours, no incentives, bitchy boss, no rewards, shitty co-workers, desk sucks, bad city, blah blah.
i think you should speak internally, within the company, very respectfully, about these issues. belaboring your supervisor and firm leaders with labor laws is NOT going to do you any favors.
if you have expressed your concern to your immediate supervisors, and no changes have occurred, then do so together as a group of 2 or 3. if that doesn't work then the whole team should speak with the supervisor. if the supervisor isn't listening and the situation is still considered unanimously unjust by your team, then go over his head and speak to the principals.
a good word to use is that the hours you're working are 'unsustainable'. (they are wearing your physical health and productivity down). do not get uppity about the legality of them. long hours are very much typical in our profession.