Edit: It has been "requested" that I remove this blog and postings pertaining to it. However, thanks to some very supportive friends, I have been given another option. I have every right to discuss my experiences and concerns, especially while warning others to protect themselves from businesses who may wish to cause them harm. Therefore, I have adjusted my original post to remove the name of the company who lied to refused to pay me on time, lied to me, and then threatened me.
This has been a tough year for me. I've had several seizures and I've lost jobs because of those. For the most part, I've taken it in stride. A shipping company can't necessarily have someone who might collapse at any time on the warehouse floor, can they? That's reasonable.
What's not reasonable is a company that is consistently late with payment, treating me like dirt to be swept under some musty-ol' rug. Like I don't matter. People who suffer from disabilities get that enough and, quite frankly, I'm sick of it. So I'm going to tell you guys a story.
At the end of July, I answered an ad for a Digital Marketing Manager for a company called NAME REMOVED, located in Framingham, MA. I was interested in this position because it was a great match for my skills, but also because I've found that start-up environments are typically a little more flexible with working hours. I'm a deadline hound, so I always get what I need to do done, but sometimes I have migraines that lead into seizures. I needed a company that would give me the chance to work from home, if needed.
When I went to the first interview for NAME REMOVED, I nervously inquired about this possibility. It's a conversation I always loathe when speaking to potential employers because it's vital to my ability to be an effective employee. Luckily, NAME REMOVED had no problem with this. I could even work from home!
I was thrilled. Pleased as punch. This seemed like a great start of what I'd always wanted in a company--stability. Only...it wasn't.
I should have known there would be trouble. I had applied for a full-time W2 position, but when it came down to a decision, NAME REMOVED asked if I would be willing to come on as a contractor. I'd worked in contract roles before and while I wasn't thrilled with the idea, I wanted to work with the company badly enough to take that hit. I agreed.
What I didn't know?
When you're a contractor you have little-to-no legal protections against companies that treat you poorly. Working your ass off but they decide to pay you a month late? Too bad! Have a seizure episode in the middle of a meeting and "quit" while you had no control of your faculties? So long! Had you been a proper employee, that company would have been on the hook for your missed paycheck xs 3. Since they KNEW YOU HAVE EPILEPSY, they might have been forced to at least give you a change to rectify any botched communications.
And that's exactly what happened. On September 13th, I woke up in the hospital to a phone call from my direct supervisor. She said I quit. In fact, she said I'd quit earlier in the day and submitted my final invoice--to the wrong chat via Slack, another indicator that I wasn't "all there."
I had no memory of this action. None. Even now, I only remember bits and pieces of that whole day. I remember the meeting before, when I had voiced my concern about a pay check that was 2 weeks late. I remember how my boss basically said that she also hadn't been paid and there was a cash-flow issue. I remember discussing how some of our marketing automation had been suspended for lack of payment. What I don't remember was expressing a wish to leave the business. In fact, I wrote an email to attempt to clarify that:
So....my job was lost. That sucked. But what was I going to do? Sue them? I contact lawyers in order to see if I had a case. Unpaid wages. Potential discrimination. Was there anything I could do? No. Why?
Because when you're a contractor, you essentially have. NO. RIGHTS. How is this just? How is this acceptable? You work, you expect to be paid. You work hard as all hell, and you expect the TINIEST amount of compassion for your illnesses and what they do to your mind and body. It's easy. Straightforward. Humane. So why is it so difficult for people to understand how WRONG this is?
Things like THIS are why there is this...dark view of "corporate America." Conversations like these:
I didn't work for NAME REMOVED for very long, but I went into the company with the understanding that I would be a valued resource. And that the company would be the same to me. I went in with good faith and was essentially told that I could go suck eggs at every turn.
This company has stolen more than just late fees and a paycheck from me. They've stolen my confidence that as a person with a disability, I can still function in the workforce. And my faith that the legal system gives a damn about the people. They've done irreversible damage to ME as a person. And there's nothing I can do about it. Nothing, but tell my story and hope that it helps people like me in the future.
If you are a contracted worker or a disabled one...protect yourself. Take screenshots of everything. Get every decision and every correspondence in writing.
I have proof of what was promised me. I also have proof of the troubles this company was having with cash flow and how tools were being shut off. Still, that didn't help me. I guess my only advice would be to think very hard before you accept contract work....though, I understand that some of us don't really have a choice.
Stay strong. You're not all by yourself in this.