Monday, September 29, 2014

Officer w/ CA Labor Commissioner Agrees I have Valid Wage Theft and Retaliation Claims

My claims will be moving on into the hearing stage in about two months.  I was sure this would be the outcome of today's conference, but it feels good to have my claims validated.

And just so you know boss, that amount of money the officer quoted will only increase over the two months we all wait for the hearing due to more lost wages and waiting time penalties.  Maybe your HR consultant should have been aware of that fact.

Friday, September 26, 2014

What it is Like to be a Victim of Wage Theft in the Arts

Let me just say that I didn't expect to have my wages stolen, but they were.  The director of the museum where I worked knew full well what she was doing.  I even received an email from a former employee who told me the director did the same thing to her.  That former employee didn't think to take further action like I did.  I can't blame her because this is a museum that people love.  Even I love the museum, but I know that it is time for a new director to take over, thus I had to act.

Sadly, the museum faces a real financial crisis.  The city and county will revoke the museum's eligibility to receive grant monies.  Yes, I do love the museum, however, I am not the one who broke the law.  I am the one who stepped up to the plate to make sure it got enforced.  In March of 2013 the museum was close to having to close its doors for good, but somehow the director, being a professional fundraiser, was able to secure enough funds to keep it going.  That's great!  That is how I was able to get a job there.  What I didn't know is that the director would take advantage of me and the fact that I needed a job.

Now that I've filed a wage claim, there is a VERY STRONG possibility that a wage theft judgement will be passed against the museum.  What big donor is going to want to give her money once that happens?  Plus, once the judgement gets passed I will file a complaint with her professional organization, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and she faces a very good possibility that her credentials will be revoked.  That is what I want because I believe that she does not deserve to be a member of an organization that prides itself on high ethical standards if she can not follow all applicable local, state, and federal labor laws.

I think her behavior speaks volumes about the current state of the arts.  Yes, with a poor economic outlook fundraising has gotten more difficult and maybe she is just very ignorant of wage and labor laws or maybe she felt like it was acceptable to take advantage of me in order to save the museum a few extra dollars.

What bothers me most is that even though the city and county will not be willing to award grant monies to a nonprofit that has had a wage theft judgement passed against them, guess what?  Private foundations don't care.  They operate under the assumption that all wage and labor laws are being followed by default.  All the private foundation cares about is that the nonprofit has a current 501c3 status with the IRS.  So, my former employer can continue taking advantage of new employees without worrying too much about lost grant funding.  Unfortunately for her, it is my goal to give her something much more to worry about, like her career.  That is why I'm glad I can file complaints with her professional organization.

Also, I have an artistic side and I can do things to bring more attention to labor violations in the arts.  That is why I've created a Wage Theft Wedding Dress.  It is a textile art piece that is symbolic of the fact that one should not have to commit themselves to being victims of wage theft in order to get or keep a job.  I can bring awareness to the issue that wage theft and other labor law violations have no place in the arts because it undermines the integrity of the institution by limiting potential funding sources.  And I'm sure we can all agree how important it is to continue funding the arts, but only to organizations willing and able to comply with all legal obligations.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

An Open Letter to All CFRE's and Members of the AFP International:

Dear Professional Fundraisers,

I worked for one of your fellow members at a popular downtown San Jose museum.  While employed there the director, a CFRE, refused to ensure that I got my lunch and rest breaks as required by law.  She also did not pay me for those lunch and rest breaks, even though I worked straight through them.

She showed negligent and unethical management practices.  Her behavior was detrimental to both me and the nonprofit organization she leads.  I know that her actions run counter to the high ethical standards that the AFP International holds all members accountable to. This is why I am asking you to share your outrage with the AFP International.  Please email the AFPI President, Andrew Watt, at to let him know that any AFP member who has a wage theft and/or labor law violation judgement passed against them should face expulsion from the organization.

Angela Greben

Saturday, September 20, 2014

My Wage Theft Wedding Dress Project

What is a Wage Theft Wedding Dress?  It is my current textile art project I'm working on.  It's ugly because wage theft is ugly and it represents the fact that one should not have to commit themselves to wage theft in order to get or keep a job.  Unfortunately, I have experienced this first hand at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles while employed there from 10/2013-8/2014.  I am disgusted at the fact that I am due the equivalent of one months wages for the ten months I worked there.

My employer took advantage of me and this is not something anyone should have to go through.

Thankfully the CA Labor Commissioner has a satellite office just a short walk away.  I filed a wage claim (i.e. wage theft), 3 retaliation complaints, and 2 labor law violations before I was wrongfully terminated.  Why was I fired?  Because I stood up for my labor rights and this angered the Executive Director.

I will post pictures of my Wage Theft Wedding Dress once I have it completed and I will also have a Foot Stomping on a date to be announced.  I will welcome all who want to stomp their foot on my wedding dress to protest the practice of wage theft and other labor law violations.

My Experience of Unethical and Illegal Employment Practices at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

While employed at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles I was the only employee to work weekends and there was no posted closing time for lunch at the Museum.  What that meant was there were numerous days in which I did not receive my lunch or rest breaks as required by law.  When I started working there the Executive Director gave me two very specific instructions, (1) she would not be paying me for any time worked over my regular 30 hours per week and (2) when I worked alone at the Museum I was to take my lunch break by simply hanging a sign on the door notifying visitors that the Museum would be closed for half an hour.  There were many days in which this was not realistically possible because of the number of visitors that came into the Museum throughout the day.  While I worked there I was never paid for my lunch or rest breaks I did not receive, as required by law.

When I inquired as to how I could reasonably expect to get my lunch and rest breaks on days I worked alone I was fired.

Thankfully, I had already submitted my wage claim, retaliation claims, and labor law violations by the time I was wrongfully terminated.