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Employer failed to communicate pay changes. Bedbugs at work are also causing health issues.

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#1
What is the name of your state? Maryland

Hello all,
Bit of a complicated situation. My wife works full time (52 hours a week) at a place where she is required to spend the night at a house. She is allowed to sleep and usually spends the night on a couch. At no point during the night can she leave the house.

Recently, the employer switched her from salaried to hourly. No notice of this change was given. Her original offer letter has the yearly salary printed on it, and no mention of a pay rate is given. This has affected any vacation time she takes because the "overtime" doesn't kick in, resulting in getting paid less whenever she takes time off. Her status has also been changed from full-time to part-time (despite working 52 hours a week) without any notice either. This was discovered only after visiting the time-sheet website they have. She has sent HR several emails asking about this situation but they have stopped responding to any questions. Is there anything to be done about this? Is it legal for them to change the status of their employees at whim?

Now the second issue: bedbugs. (please let me know if this needs to be posted separately somewhere else) There has been a bedbug infestation at one of the houses she is stationed at. The house she spends the night at has other "clients" of the company she needs to watch over. The infestation was found and reported by other people but none of this was communicated to her. She has been suffering from several bites and quite possibly bringing the bugs home as well (I hope not!).

This is not the first time an infestation has occurred. When this happened before, she had to actually go to the hospital because of how bad her reaction to the bug bites was (it looked like her back was pelted). She was forced to take "sick time" (thankfully, she is covered under my health insurance). Is there anything we can do about this situation? With the pay changes, if she has to go to the hospital again, she will be forced to take sick time and get paid less as a consequence. Is there anything we can do in case the bugs were taken home? The doctor she visited recommended that she not sleep anywhere there might be bedbugs anymore because escalating immune response can actually put her into anaphylactic shock.

Thank you.
 


xylene

Senior Member
#2
Personally, I would strongly advise your wife to not go to work until the HR and bedbug issues are resolved.

I would consider to file an unemployment claim.

This undealt with infestation created intolerable working conditions, even if she wasn't severely allergic.

She's not part time, whatever they want to say.

Also, you should get your apt checked by an extermionator who knows bed bugs,ideally one with a dog.
 
#3
Personally, I would strongly advise your wife to not go to work until the HR and bedbug issues are resolved.

I would consider to file an unemployment claim.

She's not part time, whatever they want to say.

Also, you should get your apt checked by an extermionator who knows bed bugs,ideally one with a dog.
Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately, if she stops going to work, we stop having a home. Both of us work and make just enough to cover our expenses plus her college tuition and student loan payments. Not really sure how unemployment claims work but will have to look into it. It is almost impossible to find jobs where you can work full-time AND sleep. But since she is a full-time student she has to make this compromise.

Does the employer have any responsibilities towards providing a bug-free environment? Is there any way to get compensation in case she is unable to work due to the bugs?

Thanks you!
 

LdiJ

Senior Member
#4
What is the name of your state? Maryland

Hello all,
Bit of a complicated situation. My wife works full time (52 hours a week) at a place where she is required to spend the night at a house. She is allowed to sleep and usually spends the night on a couch. At no point during the night can she leave the house.

Recently, the employer switched her from salaried to hourly. No notice of this change was given. Her original offer letter has the yearly salary printed on it, and no mention of a pay rate is given. This has affected any vacation time she takes because the "overtime" doesn't kick in, resulting in getting paid less whenever she takes time off. Her status has also been changed from full-time to part-time (despite working 52 hours a week) without any notice either. This was discovered only after visiting the time-sheet website they have. She has sent HR several emails asking about this situation but they have stopped responding to any questions. Is there anything to be done about this? Is it legal for them to change the status of their employees at whim?

Now the second issue: bedbugs. (please let me know if this needs to be posted separately somewhere else) There has been a bedbug infestation at one of the houses she is stationed at. The house she spends the night at has other "clients" of the company she needs to watch over. The infestation was found and reported by other people but none of this was communicated to her. She has been suffering from several bites and quite possibly bringing the bugs home as well (I hope not!).

This is not the first time an infestation has occurred. When this happened before, she had to actually go to the hospital because of how bad her reaction to the bug bites was (it looked like her back was pelted). She was forced to take "sick time" (thankfully, she is covered under my health insurance). Is there anything we can do about this situation? With the pay changes, if she has to go to the hospital again, she will be forced to take sick time and get paid less as a consequence. Is there anything we can do in case the bugs were taken home? The doctor she visited recommended that she not sleep anywhere there might be bedbugs anymore because escalating immune response can actually put her into anaphylactic shock.

Thank you.
Unfortunately, then she needs a different job. Bed bugs are equal opportunity pests and can be brought home from any number of locations and are difficult to eradicate.
 

cbg

I'm a Northern Girl
#5
I am addressing only the wages part of the issue.

If I am not mistaken, Maryland is one of the very few states that requires a specific advance notice of a change in pay. She can talk to the state wage and hour people. Note, however, that the first paycheck she received at the new rate or status is likely to constitute notice and she will only be due the difference from that point until the statutory notice time has ended. It IS legal to change the pay and it IS legal to change the pay status (as long as the pay is minimum wage or more and the status itself is legal - non-exempt, which is what most people mean when they say hourly, is legal for everyone). The only legal issue here is notice.
 

xylene

Senior Member
#6
I am addressing only the wages part of the issue.

If I am not mistaken, Maryland is one of the very few states that requires a specific advance notice of a change in pay. She can talk to the state wage and hour people. Note, however, that the first paycheck she received at the new rate or status is likely to constitute notice and she will only be due the difference from that point until the statutory notice time has ended. It IS legal to change the pay and it IS legal to change the pay status (as long as the pay is minimum wage or more and the status itself is legal - non-exempt, which is what most people mean when they say hourly, is legal for everyone).
What about the part time while working 52 hours thing?
 

LdiJ

Senior Member
#7
What about the part time while working 52 hours thing?
I am guessing that the employer switched to an hourly wage because of the 52 hour thing. I am guessing that the employer got spanked about no overtime, and is therefore now paying hourly so that the overtime shows as true overtime. The pay rate has probably been adjusted to accommodate that. However, if the employee misses any work then the work missed comes from the overtime, which impacts the employee at the highest part of their pay. This appears to be the OP's main concern/complaint.
 

cbg

I'm a Northern Girl
#8
Part time and full time do not really have any legal status in most cases. What's important is not part time or full time, but being paid for all the time worked and overtim when required. You can call it full time, you can call it part time, you can call it a toaster, you can call it Gary. If the employee is paid correctly, the law doesn't give a hoot what you call it in the majority of cases.
 

Just Blue

Senior Member
#9
Part time and full time do not really have any legal status in most cases. What's important is not part time or full time, but being paid for all the time worked and overtim when required. You can call it full time, you can call it part time, you can call it a toaster, you can call it Gary. If the employee is paid correctly, the law doesn't give a hoot what you call it in the majority of cases.
lol...I hope OP doesn't call it Gary. That just sound...strange. "Sorry Guy's...Can't go to the Red Sox game on Sat...I gotta work gary." Yeah...no. That sounds weird.
 
#12
If as CBG suggested and I agree with that the salary/hourly was changed because the OP's wife was incorrectly classified as OT-Exempt, there is also the issue of overtime that is owed for all the hours she worked while misclassified.
 
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