Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Wage Theft Wedding Dress
by Angela Greben

Louise, You Broke My Heart by not Being a Team Player

For those of you who don't know, while I was employed at the museum, Louise, my former coworker, and I shared overlapping job duties.  We were both fully capable of working at the admissions desk and fulfilling all of the duties that being the "face of the museum" required.

Louise, I want you to know that the director made it clear when I started working there that you and I could trade off days just as long as we both worked our regular hours.

In the entire 10 months of my employment I worked every weekend.  The weekends before and after the Christmas holidays, Mother's Day weekend, and Father's Day weekend.  During that whole time I only had Easter Sunday off and one Saturday during the summer when my mother-in-law was in town.

When I let our boss know that not having a weekend to spend with my family was making me depressed she claimed that she talked to you about working an occasional weekend.  The boss isn't known for sticking to the truth and so I confronted you about it.  All I asked was if the two of you had indeed had that conversation. I wasn't asking that you work every weekend (she may have indicated that, I don't know) I was only asking that you work an occasional weekend.  However, when I brought it up you got a look on your face like you had just smelled a bad fart.  You looked at me in disgust and said that you weren't available to work any weekends.  Some team player.  Really, is asking you to work 8-12 weekends a year too much when I'm already working 52?  That would have made the biggest difference in my family life.  Just to be able to spend quality time with my loved ones.

Louise, you broke my heart.  I knew at that point that you couldn't be depended upon.  I had to depend on myself.  That's not how a team works.  That's dysfunctional.  As part of a condition of work I had to be at the museum every weekend and the boss already made it clear in an earlier email addressed to me that I couldn't get a consecutive Saturday and Sunday off because that would mean she would have to work seven days in a row to cover my absence.

I had to sacrifice my family time to keep my job.  Louise, I want you to know that your reaction hurt me more than anything.

Monday, October 6, 2014

In Response to my Former Employer's Ignorance and Arrogance in Providing Ethical Leadership

I would like to address a few crucial elements regarding my former employer's ignorance of related employment laws and her arrogance at flaunting them.

First, she made a horrible mistake in thinking that it is okay to staff a museum with one person for the entire day.  Not only was this dangerous for me, the lonely staff person, but also posed a risk to the museum and its artifacts.  As for getting my lunch break, she instructed me to wait for the museum to empty out during the afternoon and hang a sign on the door indicating that we would be closed for half an hour.  I soon recognized that it was impossible for me to take a lunch break, or even use the restroom, because there would be visitors in the museum all throughout the day and I could not leave the admissions desk unattended and a lull in the day hardly ever occurred.  I was also instructed that I could not ask visitors to leave in order for me to get my break.

At the same time, my boss knew I was not getting my lunch breaks and this was made very evident to me at one point when she told me that she regularly checks the daily attendance logs just to make sure the cash I hand in adds up at the end of the day to the number of guests I had reported.  The logs showed how many visitors came in on an hourly basis, which also indicated that the museum stayed busy.  When I started there she made it clear that I would not be paid for any time worked over my regular 30 hours per week.  What she was saying is, "Don't work through your lunch, but I'm not going to actually provide one."

Secondly, she made the mistake of habitually sending emails to staff on their days off and it was clear in her email communication that she expected immediate responses.  I received a number of emails from which it was clear that she not only expected I would be checking my email on my days off, but also promptly replying to them.  That is a bad managerial habit to get in and she was quite comfortable with crossing that line without further thought.

Finally, it was clear by her actions that she doesn't understand when an employee is bringing up legal issues with her and she is more than likely to address it with an inappropriate retaliatory response.  Sometimes managers need to put aside their egos and listen to what the staff is trying to communicate.  Instead, she felt it necessary to discipline me over an email where I told her that I was tired of engaging in unpaid labor.  That whole email thread lasted an hour (again, on my day off and time I was not paid for) to address a printer issue she could have and should have resolved on her own.  Is she not able to put on big girl panties and fix a printer issue herself?  It was a small museum where everyone wore many styles of big girl panties, so find a pair and put them on!

This all just goes to show her absolute incompetence in providing ethical leadership and failure at following the basic principles regarding wage and labor laws, a responsibility that was clearly stated in her job description see director's job description here.

Please feel free to write a letter of complaint addressed to the board members.  Your opinion matters!

Send mail to:

Marie Strait, Board President
San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles
520 South 1st St.
San Jose, CA 95113

Or visit Marie's website and email her directly at:

For a full listing of board members please visit:


Friday, October 3, 2014

Cease and Desist? I Think Not!

Here is a funny little Cease and Desist letter the museum director mailed me last month.  What's funny about it is she does not want me contacting investor, funders, grantors, donors, and (my favorite) board members.  Why is this so hilarious?  Because she does not want any of these people to be aware of the illegal labor practices she has perpetrated.  Furthermore, I have every right to notify those individuals that she has engaged in illegal labor activities, especially now that an officer with the CA Labor Commissioner has found merit to my claims.  I even have a responsibility to notify the board of illegal activities going on within the museum.  Somehow I don't think the director sees it that way and it just goes to show her absolute incompetence in providing ethical leadership.

When she fired me she said that she would be a reference, but that was before she knew about my complaints I filed.  Now I think she wishes she never hired me, which is different than her wishing that she never engaged in wage theft and retaliation in the first place.

I also have emails from previous employees stating that she engaged in the same illegal labor practices with them.  Glad I have witnesses to the Executive Director's illegal activity.

Feel free to write a letter of complaint addressed to the board members!

Send mail to:

Marie Strait, Board President
San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles
520 South 1st St.
San Jose, CA 95113

For a full listing of board members please visit: