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: