My boss won’t pay me…

And the trouble is, she’s also my friend!

Our elder advises a letter writer to forget about the friendship element and take some action.

Dear EWC

Hello, I’m having trouble with a former boss of mine. To make a looooong story short, she runs a bakery out of her home and I worked there part-time helping her fill orders. There were three weeks in March where she kept deferring paying my wages, then suddenly ghosted me for six weeks. I couldn’t get a hold of her, and she avoided me at church and other places. Finally, I texted her to see if she was angry with me for some reason, but she finally responded and said everything was fine, and could I come into work next week? I realized I may never see this money, but since she’s my friend and I liked my job. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. For the next two weeks she continually got upset with me over things I wasn’t trained to do, would send long angry text messages after my shifts, and even accused me of being lazy when I was obviously working. She would often leave for several hours and I would be left alone to try and get everything done, then she would be mad at me when she got behind.

This all culminated about two weeks ago when, after another heated conversation, I decided that I wasn’t coming in again until both my overdue wages and everything I had earned those past two weeks had been paid. She contested my hours, saying she had no proof even after I sent her screenshots, then accused me of not giving her enough time to look things over. After two months of not paying me. I just reiterated my terms and went to bed. From then until now she has ignored my calls and texts, and she avoids me in public. The difficulty is, she’s my friend and we’re both heavily involved in our church, so there’s potential for this situation to cause a rift there. She’s also notorious for blasting people on social media, and since I run my own business in addition to other things, I’m worried she could hurt my other sources of income. What do I do? I really need the money, but I’m not sure how to get it. My parents advise me to take it before the church elders like the Bible talks about in Matthew 18, but again I’m worried about dividing our mutual friends like that. I haven’t told anyone outside my family and a few close friends, since I don’t want to sink to that level, but I can’t let this drag out any longer.

Ketchman replies

Friends don’t cheat friends to whom they owe a justly acquired debt. That, to me, would be my bottom line. It might help if you stopped considering your ex-boss as a friend because the actions you’ve described certainly aren’t those of a friend. If you take the “friendship” element out of the equation it might become a little easier to decide what to do. For most people in a similar situation, I would advise going to your nearest state employment office and registering a complaint with their wage and hour division or the local equivalent. That would likely get you your back wages paid but could also result in some pretty severe penalties to your ex-boss — especially if she hasn’t been paying required employment taxes, meeting health department requirements, and so on. It seems to me that, if you’re not willing to go that route, your parents’ suggestion to have the church elders mediate the issue would be the next best alternative.

You’re just going to have to make a difficult decision. Which is more important to you, to get the money owed to you and stand up for your rights; or accept the loss in order to avoid some possible conflict? Personally, I think it’s important to stand up for principle even if it might cause a bit of conflict. Doing so could discourage her from treating future employees in a similar manner. At the very least you’ll find out who your real friends are. I’m sorry that you’ve found yourself in this difficult position and I hope I’ve been able to offer a useful perspective. Please call on us again. We can continue this conversation or go on to anything else you might need a bit of help with. Thank you for giving me a chance to help. I hope I have.

Letter #: 424009
Category: Career

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