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the lawsuits were that workers put in more time than their 40 hours with-
out overtime pay and were forced to work off the clock. Other complaints
included having jobs misclassified as exempt from overtime requirements
and that, because of smartphones and other devices, work bled into personal
time. The major complaint, however, is that productivity per worker hour
more than doubled in 2009 and 2010 because companies ignored labor laws
that prohibit practices that violate a worker's rights. Many of the lawsuits
are class action suits where numerous employees are represented, forcing
the Department of Labor to hire 300 more investigators to protect workers,
particularly those “in high risk industries that employ low-wage and vulner-
able workers such as those in hotels and restaurant work” (p. 2A).
The following are examples of how badly done the termination experi-
ence can be.
￿ Matt Cooper, an executive at Accolo, a recruitment outsourcing
company, wrote in the New York Times ( January 31, 2009 ) that when the
company began having financial problems and downsizing became neces-
sary, upper level executives called employees into a conference room, one
at a time, told them they were fired, and had them walk to their offices,
pack up their personal items, and immediately leave. One of his co-
workers was so frightened of being called in that he hid in his cubicle until
a vice president of the company found him and told him the bad news.
￿ Jean Colette, a supervising OR nurse at a New Jersey Hospital told me
that every June, 50 people are fired across staff lines. The hospital deci-
des if their salaries and benefits are consistent with the quality of their
work. Because the fiscal year runs July 1st to June 30th, the director of
each department calls people into their office on June 29th and gives
them the bad news and a severance packet. Because older and more
experienced workers make better salaries and are usually more effective
at their jobs, it's often the very best people who get fired. Anxiety is so
bad in June, Colette told me, that almost nothing gets done.
￿ Amber Elefson, a public health professional working for a non-profit
in San Diego (her identity has been changed to protect her ability to
network), and pregnant with her first child, asked her employer if
her job was secure and was told that it was. Two weeks later, amid
glowing reviews of her work and praise for special projects she had
done, she was terminated because of severe budget constraints.
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