So as I might have said previously, I work as a long term substitute teacher, floating around the middle school I work for and filling in where they need me. One day I could be an Ed Tech teacher, working one on one with a student, the next day I could be a Spanish teacher who helps the kids build their pinatas for their project they are doing. I never have a boring day and I always leave the school for the day feeling like I made a difference.
The school year only lasts so long, however, and where I live paycheck to paycheck, I had to pick up a part time job for the summer so I could make ends meet. I had messaged the local movie theater, where it’s within walking distance of where I live and where I like going to the movies(I thought I would enjoy it more because I enjoy the experience of going to the movies), and I had asked them if they had a place they could put me. The next day, the owner asked me to come in for a quick interview and when I left from that interview, I left with a job.
I was pretty excited about this when I started. The shifts were 5 hour shifts, I get in to movies for free(yes, for free, that’s right), and I can walk back and forth which would give me exercise. All in all, it seemed like a good thing to me.
Needless to say, like everything else in my life, it all went downhill from there.
In Maine, if you work 4 hours, your employer is required by law to give you a 15 minute rest break, paid. If you work a 6 hour shift, they are required by law to give you a 30 minute unpaid lunch break, as long as there are three people scheduled to work a shift. Everywhere I’ve worked, I’ve received this treatment, and I thought it was a given that companies knew and obeyed this law set out by our state’s government.
Not the movie theater.
They let us eat popcorn and drink soda while we work(I don’t eat movie theater popcorn, but I do take advantage of drinking some SobeWater while I work), and they think that is enough of a help, so they don’t give us our breaks and lunches. When I brought up a break, they said they don’t really schedule those, but I was allowed to eat popcorn and have a drink on the floor while I worked. I let that slide, because it was slow and there were a lot of times we didn’t have anybody around, so I was able to sit down on the bench in the lobby and sip on a drink.
That was when I was working 5 hour shifts.
Now they say that they don’t really schedule 5 hour shifts when it starts to get busy, they only schedule 7 hour shifts, which is great, I would totally love the extra money. However, when I mentioned getting a half hour lunch break for working a 7 hour shift, they said they don’t really schedule those, but if it is slow I can sit down and eat something. At this point, I asked if they could just schedule me a 5 hour shift then, if they weren’t going to give me a lunch, and they said they couldn’t “cater” to me all that much.
Excuse me, I didn’t know following the law was catering. I thought it was, you know, following the law.
So I am faced with a dilemma. I can work the 7 hour shifts without a lunch and don’t say anything, but have money, or I can say something and they either don’t give me hours or they fire me–in Maine, you don’t have to have a reason for firing somebody, you can just do it. I need the money, but I am a person of principal. I don’t like the idea of not standing up for what I believe to be right, but I don’t like the idea of not having money to pay for what I need either. So I am stuck.
I get to go in to work today, on Independence Day, and face these people who are not abiding the law, and I can either suck it up and deal with it and be mistreated by the people I work for, or I can stand up for myself–all those soldiers fought wars so that I had the freedom to stand up for what I believe in, right?–and see what happens.
Wish me luck.
So I did some more research into this matter, and in Maine, if the company is a small business that has time where employees can take small breaks throughout their shifts, the company is not required to give their employees breaks. So the place I work at is not in the wrong. I wanted to update you all so you wouldn’t have the wrong impression.