Unfair working conditions, like wage theft or issues with an inappropriate coworker, are much more common than any of us might like to admit.
It’s important to teach teenagers and young adults how to advocate for themselves in case something inappropriate happens in the workplace, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor protectiveoldersiss realized what was happening to her younger sister at her first job and offered to help her fix the situation.
But when her parents ridiculed her for getting involved, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she was meddling more than helping.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for helping my teenage sister report her job to the State Department of Labor against my parents’ wishes?”
The OP’s sister worked a steady schedule as a teen camp counselor.
“I am 22 and my little sister is 16. I have had trouble with sexual harassment and management negligence at my last job and had to learn a lot about labor rights to deal with that.”
“My sister got a summer job as a day camp counselor. It’s an hourly job and her schedule is 8 AM to 4 PM. There is a law in our state that 16-year-olds can’t work over 8 hours a day.”
But there was an increasing problem with her sister’s compensation.
“However, at work, not all the campers’ parents were always on time to pick up their kids.”
“When my sister reached the end of her work day, her boss yelled at her that she can’t clock out until all the kids are with their parents.”
“Then she tried to file her timesheet with the actual time she worked until, and her boss said she had to put 8 to 4 since 16-year-olds can’t work over 8 hours or the company would be in trouble…”
“For the next 2 weeks, her boss made her work about 9 hours a day but report only 8 on her timesheet.”
The OP offered to assist her sister in filing a complaint.
“I was p**sed off when I heard about this, I told her they were stealing her pay and she could report it and get that paycheck. She wanted to.”
“So we texted her boss, asking her to explain when she was supposed to stop work.”
“The boss acted mad at repeating herself but said in writing that it was when all the kids left.”
“My sister asked if she could start putting 4:30 or 5 PM on her timesheets when she has to stay until then like she has most days.”
“Her boss said, ‘No, we’ve been over this already. Three times now. Your report needs to match your scheduled hours.'”
“I was honestly surprised her boss admitted to all that, but it gave me everything we needed.”
“So we put together a report with all the evidence and sent it to the state department of labor. We wrote that the camp was both engaging in wage theft, and violating the law about a minor’s max hours.”
The OP’s sister was compensated, but there were consequences.
“They moved fast, and she got paid for the time she worked. I heard they’re investigating the pay situation of the rest of the staff too.”
“But her boss is furious and spoke to our mom when she dropped my sister off for work!! That seemed so inappropriate.”
“I know my sister is 16 but it is so unprofessional for a manager to have an issue with their staff and go run to mommy.”
The OP’s parents ridiculed her for her involvement.
“My mom told my dad and they were furious with me for ‘putting that idea in her head.'”
“They wanted my sister to have a job to teach her responsibility and hard work, and not to report a small business to ‘the government.'”
“I had a feeling they’d feel that way, they also didn’t approve of me reporting my old job but at least I was 21.”
“My dad is irate that I ‘sabotaged a parenting decision of theirs’ to make my sister get a summer job and learn to work hard.” I said she still has the job and her boss would have a h**l of a time firing her this summer with the DOL up her a**, and that made my dad even angrier.”
“He said I know that’s not what he meant, and I was overstepping, I’m her older sister, not her parent.”
“AITA for going against my parents’ wishes?”
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 said it was great of the OP to help her sister file a complaint.
“She’s hiring them young because the younger generation doesn’t know its rights and are easier to exploit.”
“Truthfully we need to teach workers rights in schools.” – kawaeri
“You’re a fantastic older sister. If your parents suck and won’t be her advocate or guide her in the right direction, she’s very lucky to have you in her corner. Your folks are dead wrong on this.” – natidiscgirl
“Wage theft and other white-collar crime is a much bigger problem than burglary and mugging, yet I constantly see it treated nonchalantly.”
“It’s theft. Your sister was stolen from. Her boss isn’t a ‘small business being reported to the government’, he’s a thief getting punished. I’m disgusted at how your parents chose to handle this.” – bend1310
“I wish there was a judgment above NTA because you’re not only not an a**hole, you’re a hero.”
“Maybe ask your parents what they would do if they were forced to work unpaid overtime or their boss decided to cut their pay on a whim.” – tosety
“Make sure your sister reports to the Department of Labor that her boss is complaining to your parents. She’s being retaliated against, which is also illegal.” – PurpleMP12
“Your parents have quite a few things they need to learn before they can be considered good parents. One of which is that if a child’s sister is better at protecting them than their own parents, then the parents are failing miserably.”
“At this rate, maybe you should see what you can do to have your sister live with you. Or at the very least, welcome her with open arms once she turns 18. She’s very lucky to have you, but you’re both pretty unlucky to have ended up with parents like yours.”
“If you live with your parents, see what you can do about getting out. That way, whether your sister could live with you now or once she turns 18, you’re able to have that opportunity.”
“Again, you sound like a wonderful sibling and you’re setting a marvelous example. Anyone would be fortunate to have someone like you to support and guide them.” – -too-hot-to-handle-
Others agreed and said both sisters needed to unlearn what their parents tried to teach them.
“They aren’t teaching her hard work and discipline, they’re teaching her to smile and comply when she’s getting abused and taken advantage of.”
“Oh, and they’re also teaching her that it’s ok to lie to save a few bucks.” – Onequestion0110
“I’m just curious, are your parents business owners (or in management for a small business)? It really sounds like they’re on the boss’s side because they’ve done similarly shady things in their careers.”
“Teaching your sister that she can both protect her rights *and* have responsibility and work hard is a more valuable lesson than ‘work hard and just blindly do what you are told by an adult profiting off of the labor and ignorance of teenagers.'” – Wynfleue
“OP is a great sister. I don’t understand her parents. Little sis can learn the value of work without being exploited by an employer engaging in wage theft.”
“I would be furious to learn my child was being made to work off the clock, and I certainly wouldn’t be angry if an older sibling was taking it upon herself to do something about this violation.” – GibsonGirl55
“Your parents are awful and should be ashamed. If I had told my parents that happened to me, the owner would have been lucky for authorities to be involved.” – Conscious_Ad_9785
“You should be proud of yourself. You set an example to your sister of how to do this the proper way, without rage quitting or continuing to accept abuse. You showed her how to stand up for herself, and how to insist on legal and fair treatment.”
“Your parents should be ashamed that they would teach their daughter that it is okay to accept disrespectful and illegal workplace practices.”
“She is a minor and will soon enter the adult workforce where she will potentially get taken advantage of repeatedly unless she learns to not accept that kind of treatment.”
“She will have a much better foundation and sense of self-worth for her future jobs because of you.”
“Oh, and clearly NTA.” – ASleepandAForgetting
“I’ll be honest, if my daughter’s employer had approached me with ANY complaint they had about my daughter, I would have stared at them blankly, then asked, ‘So did you talk to *her* about this?’ and then ignored them.”
“Seriously, it’s not my place, *I* have no relationship with them, after all.”
“Also, obviously NTA, and I hope you continue to have your sister’s back. On this topic, your parents can go punch rocks.” – Holoholokid
Though their parents were incredibly critical of what had happened, the subReddit had other feelings about how the OP handled the situation with her sister.
As long as her sister wanted to be treated and paid fairly in her work, she had every right to report the questionable things happening in her workplace, even if her parents couldn’t see that.