Most of us have worked in at least one work environment with unfair working conditions, whether it was unequal pay, unreasonable tasks lists, or some other concern.
It’s worse when upper management begins to pit their employees against each other, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
A Redditor, who has since deleted her account, recently was pressured by her boss to work extra shifts in place of her coworkers with kids, so they could be with their families and not pay for additional childcare.
But when she started receiving the cold shoulder in what was becoming a hostile environment, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she was wrong to refuse the shifts.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for telling my boss that parents don’t have the first claim on time off, and that everybody has a life outside of work?”
The OP recently talked to her boss about her work schedule.
“I (18 Female) started a new job a bit ago. For the most part, I really enjoy it; it’s just difficult as I need time off about once a month for doctor’s appointments that I absolutely can’t miss.”
“Recently, my manager has started keeping my department two hours later than usual to help with extra work.”
“At first, this was okay, I didn’t mind the extra money.”
“But it started happening every day, to the point where all I did was basically work, shower, and go to bed. I didn’t have time for anything else.”
“Yesterday, I went to my manager and told him I’m happy to help with extra work sometimes, but I won’t be staying every day. (It’s overtime, which I cannot legally be forced to do.)”
“He said this was okay and I thought that was that.”
Later, the OP’s boss seemed to have changed his mind.
“Today, he came to me and told me that he needed me to stay anyway, as there were people with families who needed to get home.”
” I told him I also have a family I want to go home and see, and he told me he meant only people with children.”
“I told him I’m sorry, but I won’t be staying later every day, and parents don’t have some rightful claim to leave that I don’t, just because they have kids.”
“He told me that legally, there was nothing he could do to force me, but that it would be extremely selfish of me to force these people to miss out on time with their kids and potentially pay more for babysitters and such.”
“I told him again that I’m sorry, but that’s not my problem, and I also have a life outside of work that I want to live, as does everyone else; mine just doesn’t involve kids.”
The OP felt a shift in the workplace
“He left it at that, but I’ve definitely been getting side-eyed by people who I know have kids.”
“I have also overheard conversations on our line.”
“Ultimately I don’t care, I’ll still be staying to help about half the time, but I do need time for myself as well.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some agreed that employees need to be catered to equally in the workplace.
“The two best work sayings are yours and one from a friend:”
“The only thing worse than having a job is looking for a job.”
“Being childless through most of my career I always hated the kid excuse. If I wasn’t there during the conception your kids shouldn’t be my problem.”
“Good for OP to stand up for herself.” – JohnNDenver
“‘Extremely selfish’… Do me a favor. He’s talking nonsense. NTA.”
“Use your rights, join a union if you need to, but don’t let work take advantage. Just cos people have got kids doesn’t mean their worker rights are any less than yours, we all have different priorities in life, but if you’re working retail (which it certainly seems), chances are you all get paid the same anyway. Do what’s best for you.” – erasedcitizenUK
“NTA. I don’t mind covering a meeting once in a while because one of my colleagues has an emergency with their kids but EVERY day is not an emergency.” – NotHisRealName
“NTA. As a mother of four, definitely not. You are absolutely correct.”
“Just because other people choose to have kids doesn’t mean you (and anyone else single with no children) are obligated to stay over every single day.”
“If they are that short-staffed, they should hire another team to come in and clean if it’s that bad.” – One_Condition_7001
“NTA OMG – I have always hated when employers assume that since you aren’t a parent, you, therefore, can or want to put in all these extra hours.”
“Um, no, I want my downtime too. My cats while not kids, still need me to do things for them. While no kids, I do have family whom I would like to go over for dinner and hang out with.”
“I understand that things can come up with the kids, but the single person shouldn’t be the one to always cover.” – Sammakko660
Others recommended looking for a different job.
“NTA, but you probably have a target on your back now. I hated this when I did shift work. No, I do NOT have less of a right to holidays like Christmas just because I don’t have kids. I am a mom now and I still feel strongly about this.”
“If they have more work than can be accomplished by people within normal hours, and more overtime than people are willing to take on, then they need to hire more employees. It is not your job to sacrifice yourself to cover their schedule.” – technicolored_dreams
“NTA, but use those evenings off to find a better job.” – Mis_Bee_Have
“NTA. If they want you to work more than the people with kids, they should pay you more than the people with kids. And even then, it’s at your own discretion.”
“Maybe it’s time to start looking for a new job.” – BMoreBeowulf
“NTA, and good for standing up for yourself. I don’t have kids and totally relate.”
“It is one thing to pitch in during an emergency (e.g. sick child… as long as it is an occasional thing), but even with the extra pay, it shouldn’t be routine.”
“You are right. You also have a family. And a life. Time to look at other employment options out there.” – del901
“The best time to find a job is when you already have one.”
“My dad used to tell me that all the time. He was right too. When you have a job, you get to be picky about the next job.”
“The one you have now sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. They’d rather pay overtime for multiple people every day than hire additional staff? That’s simply throwing away good money on wage expenses. If I were in your shoes, I’d start looking for another position immediately.”
“Oh, and you’re right. While society generally does give parents a pass, they should not be entitled to it at the expense of other employees.” – virtualchoirboy
Some also criticized how the OP’s workplace appeared to be structured.
“NTA. If the work can’t be done in a regular day’s time, maybe it’s on your boss to hire more people instead of letting those already there work longer all the time.” – Individual_Height_22
“I’ve done my fair share of OT (overtime) in my life, but it’s never more than 3-4 days in a row, and usually only during our busiest couple of months. If so many people have to stay late to do OT the company does not have enough employees.” – not_cinderella
“Yeah, instead of the boss doing their job of hiring more staff, they are putting the staff against each other. So now they will be mad at OP instead of the boss.”
“NTA.” – CraftAndEdit
“NTA, what your boss did in telling others you won’t stay late so they can see their kids is called ‘creating a hostile work environment.'”
“On top of that, it’s the manager’s responsibility to ensure they have enough people for the workload. Instead of making everyone stay 2-3 hours late every day, why have they not considered hiring an extra hand?”
“Remember: as an employee, issues with regards to not having enough staff on hand are never your problem; that issue lies squarely with management.” – It_girth
“NTA and I was in this same situation. I finally lost it on one of these mothers whose kids were always ‘sick’ when they didn’t feel like working.”
“It was obvious to many people that it was BS. I finally lost it one night when I was about to be stuck with an overnight shift because the woman didn’t look at her schedule, was asleep, and started with the sick kid BS.”
“Told her that I was going to have a kid just so I could go home on time.”
“I went home. There was no coverage, and the mommies were all warned that not calling in in a timely manner would get them fired.” – Poinsettia917
“NTA. I went through this exact situation when I worked at my last job. I won’t say what but the owner just recently became richest man in the world.”
“I got hired and they didn’t say until my first day that it was mandatory overtime 12 hrs a day 6 days a week. I never had a chance to do anything with my life ever and as much as the money is good what’s the point if you can’t do anything with it?”
“Let’s just say that particular company ended up getting blasted all over the news for employee abuse after multiple people started collapsing from exhaustion and two had heart attacks due to the amount of caffeine they were chugging to keep the pace.”
“The companies response to that? Take the energy drinks out of the cafeteria.”
“I transferred out of that area as soon as possible and ended up leaving entirely.” – Severe_Development96
“I’ve never understood this company mentality. If having kids earns you the ‘good time off,’ and thus all single people are worked to the bone, how are said single people supposed to have the free time to date, meet someone, fall in love, get married, and have the kids so they can get in on this sweet deal???”
“NTA. Kids or no kids, your life outside work is just as fulfilling and important.” – tomatokage
“NTA but you should start looking for another job. Your manager is going to start finding ways to write you up.”
“Although if they are needing so many people to work overtime, you probably have some time before this becomes a problem.”
“As a person without kids who is always asked to ‘cover’ for coworkers because ‘KIDS’, I am 100% on your side. Single or childless people have as important a life as married and/or parents.” – voluntold9276
“NTA. This isn’t a dispute between you and the parents, don’t fall off any divide and conquer bullsh*t.”
“It’s a problem with management. If they can only run the place using overtime then they’re understaffed.”
“Also, given that you can and have said no, the parents can also say no. They can’t be forced any more than you were.”
“Then it’s up to the manager to organise better or recruit people to cover the additional work.” – Honest_Ebb_8328
“As a mother of 4, I believe everyone deserves a work/life balance. Not just parents.”
“Maybe you should start looking elsewhere for work but in the meantime, NTA.” – jlapata74
Though the OP wondered if she might be in the wrong because of how her coworkers were treating her, the subReddit believed she had a right to her free time, no matter what her life outside of work was like.
Not to mention the fact that, if the work system was redesigned, there might not be so much excess work left at the end of the day.
But worst of all, if it wasn’t for her boss, the OP’s coworkers wouldn’t have known about the situation, to begin with.