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Help/advice - may need to call it a day

Help/advice - may need to call it a day

Old Mar 20th 2015, 6:29 am
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Default Re: Help/advice - may need to call it a day

Originally Posted by smarty156 View Post
So, as I'm typing this my wife is working away in the study at home and it's gone midnight. No doubt she'll be leaving the house in a few hours to go to the office too.

It's looking more and more like she won't be able to stick it much longer. However, as part of the contract, if she leaves in the first 3 years we have to pay back a proportionate amount of the costs of getting us here. I would argue that as the overseas travel is well in excess of that quoted in the published job description then we shouldn't have to repay the costs as she wasn't employed in accordance with the job description which I believe is part of the visa petition.
Any thoughts?
Anyone know of a good employment lawyer in New York City that could give us an opinion before we do anything?
I'm assuming the fact she's working 70+ hours a week incl weekends is not justification to leave and not pay. I guess in the US there's no reasonable hours laws and even if she was told to work 24 hours a day or be sacked she'd have no alternative other than quit?

The sad thing in all this is that, even though she's just churning out reports and board papers as fast as she can (rather than spending more time on them checking them properly etc before they go out) she's had numerous emails from Board members etc saying what great work she's done. These are boards that her organization works with rather than her employers. Also her boss got her a small pay rise recently even though she only started at the beginning of December last year and so wasn't strictly speaking eligible for.
Employment contracts are very difficult to enforce in the US so if you decide to go back to the UK, I wouldn't pay them. The worst that would happen, but unlikely, is they will file a lawsuit in a US court and get a judgment but collecting would be extremely difficult if you were in the UK which wouldn't have jurisdiction.

Usually a large company just accepts the loss since they know that spending money on lawyers, court fillings, and collections is just an additional expense with little possibility of return.
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Old Mar 20th 2015, 1:06 pm
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Default Re: Help/advice - may need to call it a day

Thanks again for your responses.

I'm not even sure her boss is aware exactly how many hours she's having to do as he either hides away in his office, he's out of the office or she's doing a lot of work in the evenings and weekends at home.
I've suggested the first step is to email him the time sheet she's been keeping for the last couple of weeks (he's not in the office at the moment) and say that this can't go on and they need to discuss when he's back. This will then put the ball in his court to find a solution and also give him time to come up with something before they meet.

I guess our biggest worry is going back to the UK with no jobs (although we're both qualified accountants so hopefully not too difficult to find something even if it's just temporary). Also, getting the kids back into school. If they could go back to their old school (which they love) with their friends then great but if they don't have space for them they'll have to go to another new school which isn't really fair on them. I think getting them in any school might not be a quick thing anyway from the research I've done as you need an address in the catchment area of the school before you even apply for a place.

Sherbet - I agree about the visa. However, for us it wasn't working and living in the US that was the reason for the move it was actually the job itself and the career progression/boost it would give my wife to have that on her cv.
I guess in a way that makes it easier for us to decide to come home although it would have been nice to have other options if we did want to stay.

Last edited by smarty156; Mar 20th 2015 at 1:38 pm.
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Old Mar 20th 2015, 6:42 pm
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Default Re: Help/advice - may need to call it a day

Originally Posted by smarty156 View Post
Anyone know of a good employment lawyer in New York City that could give us an opinion before we do anything?
See if you can find an attorney/firm that is versed in both workplace and immigration law. If her job is substantially different to the job description at the basis of the petition (which it sounds like it is), then they are contravening the LCA (I think), so this becomes an immigration matter. There is more employer accountability on the immigration front than general workplace law (ie. some vs none). This idea of totally taking the piss with foreign workers is a long and storied tradition; I believe there are now some safeguards in place. At some point, I got a leaflet when my passport was returned with a new H-1B - it listed common employer violations and encouraged foreign workers to report abuse.

I also think that making her manager aware of her hours is a good step. If you're already thinking of upping sticks, you don't have a great deal to lose. In my experience, there is a tendency for very good workers to not complain/show signs of over-work, which can lead to no one having the remotest idea they are on the brink of collapse.

Oh, and I'm sorry to hear you've found yourselves in this situation. I had a bit of a nightmare last year with a job that was supposed to be a great career move. Except the hours were up to 1.5 times what I'd agreed to, and my responsibilities were completely different (much lower level, but more more MORE). I was perpetually sick and miserable; I quit after 3 months (I already had a green card). If there were a visa involved, I have no doubt I would have just gone home. It's not a fun position to be in
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Old Mar 20th 2015, 9:08 pm
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Default Re: Help/advice - may need to call it a day

Thanks Retzie.
No, it's not fun and my wife really does want to make it work and do well.
I don't think we have anything to lose either. If they know then they might sort it, if they think she's just moaning and they don't want her to stay they'll have to pay to send us back or alternatively nothing changes and we leave anyway.
We just need it sorted one way or the other so we can make some decisions and move on with our lives.

I guess the next tricky thing is working out the timing of handing notice in (1 month I believe), ending lease on house (which we can't actually get out of yet but it should be easy to find a new tenant over the next couple of months as we're a short walk to a very good school) and booking shipping company etc.

It's unfortunate that we have no choice other than stay in this job or leave the country but that's just the way it goes.
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Old Mar 21st 2015, 2:19 am
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Default Re: Help/advice - may need to call it a day

Wow, I just discovered there's a whole office for this! Check out The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC). They even have a worker hotline: 1-800-255-7688.

Hopefully you can get a better idea of where you stand
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Old Mar 21st 2015, 2:20 am
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Default Re: Help/advice - may need to call it a day

Originally Posted by retzie View Post
Wow, I just discovered there's a whole office for this! Check out The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC). They even have a worker hotline: 1-800-255-7688.

Hopefully you can get a better idea of where you stand
That's brilliant. Thanks Retzie.
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Old Mar 21st 2015, 1:43 pm
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Default Re: Help/advice - may need to call it a day

What would happen if she stopped working all the hours, and focused on certain projects, then handed the rest back to her boss?
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Old Mar 21st 2015, 2:34 pm
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Default Re: Help/advice - may need to call it a day

Originally Posted by kins View Post
What would happen if she stopped working all the hours, and focused on certain projects, then handed the rest back to her boss?
Unfortunately that's just not her way. If it needs doing she'll do it. It wouldn't reflect well on her professionally either with the people in the work groups/boards.
Her colleague was told to get something written up by a certain time the other day and when she said how am I supposed to do that (because everything else has deadlines too) her boss's response was "well I did mine". How can you deal with that?
Maybe ultimately if she didn't do things on time she'd get sacked but no professional person wants that. How would that look on a cv?
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Old Mar 21st 2015, 2:45 pm
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Default Re: Help/advice - may need to call it a day

Originally Posted by kins View Post
What would happen if she stopped working all the hours, and focused on certain projects, then handed the rest back to her boss?
She'd probably lose her job. Presumably that is already her concern and why she has been putting up with that č[email protected]
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Old Mar 21st 2015, 3:01 pm
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Default Re: Help/advice - may need to call it a day

Originally Posted by smarty156 View Post
Her colleague was told to get something written up by a certain time the other day and when she said how am I supposed to do that (because everything else has deadlines too) her boss's response was "well I did mine". How can you deal with that?
Argh! I was often given things that were 'top priority', when I already had 3 things that were 'top priority' at the same time with the same deadline. Once, I straight-up asked "which has priority?" and was told "they all have priority". I couldn't believe she kept a straight face when she said that.

Amazingly bad management. There has been well over 100% turn-over in the year since I left.
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Old Mar 21st 2015, 3:13 pm
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Default Re: Help/advice - may need to call it a day

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
She'd probably lose her job. Presumably that is already her concern and why she has been putting up with that č[email protected]
Probably Pulaski. Although as said earlier her and her colleague really hold all the cards, even though it doesn't feel like it. If either one left (and my wife said last night her colleague almost left in January) none of the projects would get completed and it would create a massive problem that would take months and months to resolve and reflect really badly on not only her boss but the whole organization.

It really is bad management. Her boss is uncommunicative and sets ridiculous, unachievable deadlines. He also just assumes she knows the specific way they work. Not so bad now but initially he'd say "have you done this" and she'd be like "you didn't tell me you wanted that". He asked her to set up a conference call with someone so she booked the conference line. He then said, just before the call, why did you book the conference line we just call him direct normally. How the fxxk is she supposed to know?
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Old Mar 21st 2015, 3:16 pm
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Default Re: Help/advice - may need to call it a day

Originally Posted by retzie View Post
Argh! I was often given things that were 'top priority', when I already had 3 things that were 'top priority' at the same time with the same deadline. Once, I straight-up asked "which has priority?" and was told "they all have priority". I couldn't believe she kept a straight face when she said that.

Amazingly bad management. There has been well over 100% turn-over in the year since I left.
Yep, bang on.
She's looked in her diary for the rest of the year and can't see that it will ease up. She can't even see when she won't need to work weekends, let alone take any vacation. What's the point of having 5 weeks vacation if you can't take it?
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Old Mar 21st 2015, 3:21 pm
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Default Re: Help/advice - may need to call it a day

Her colleague suggested they both go and speak to their boss but I'm not sure that's such a good idea.
Might just come across as ganging up or group moaning. I think she needs to do it on her own with detailed breakdown of the hours she's doing (which she has for last 3 weeks), her diary for the rest of the year and an attitude of this isn't right and she's not putting up with it any longer.
She wants to avoid a confrontation but sometimes I think there's no other way.
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Old Mar 21st 2015, 6:31 pm
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Default Re: Help/advice - may need to call it a day

Originally Posted by smarty156 View Post
I guess the next tricky thing is working out the timing of handing notice in (1 month I believe), ending lease on house (which we can't actually get out of yet but it should be easy to find a new tenant over the next couple of months as we're a short walk to a very good school) and booking shipping company etc.
In a situation like this the issue of when she tells them that she is leaving should be the least of your concerns. Similarly, breaking the lease on the house is only a secondary consideration.

You need to decide what you are going to do, plan and execute your move back to the UK based on your needs, and tell other people about it when you are ready. If that means waiting until the day that you leave to mail the keys back to the landlord and send an email to the employer saying "I quit" then so be it.
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Old Mar 21st 2015, 6:38 pm
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Default Re: Help/advice - may need to call it a day

Do or not do

There is no try
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