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This Is What Happens When Managers Don’t Manage

, , , , , , , | Working | October 1, 2021

My first job was as a bagger for a local grocery store. I started working there before I was sixteen, and labor laws only allowed kids under sixteen to work until 6:00 pm on weekdays and 8:00 pm on weekends during the school year. Also, we could not exceed four hours a workday during the weekdays and eight hours on weekend days. The store policy allowed a fifteen-minute paid break for every three hours of work and a thirty-minute unpaid break if the workday was seven hours or longer; a seven- to eight-hour day meant two paid fifteen-minute breaks and one unpaid thirty-minute break.

The store manager had a bad habit of scheduling the high school kids to work 2.75 hours a day for weekday shifts. Because we didn’t work three hours, we didn’t get a break. On the weekends, he’d schedule the high school kids 5.75 hours. We’d only get one fifteen-minute paid break and we didn’t work long enough to get a lunch break or the second fifteen-minute paid break.

The store manager also had issues allowing people time off, even if they handed in a written request — per store policy — two weeks in advance. Many times we would be told no or called in to fill in.

Half of the staff were high school kids. Those that were sixteen and older could do other tasks, such as run a cash register, stock shelves, or assist in the deli or bakery. Under sixteen, we were stuck cleaning bathrooms or the back-room break area, doing general cleaning, or bagging groceries for customers.

I worked there for a little over a year, along with half a dozen friends and a few other high school kids. When I turned sixteen, I was moved to a cashier position and got to help stock now and then. I could now work until 10:00 pm on a school night and the same on weekends, and I could be scheduled a full eight hours any day of the week as long as it didn’t interfere with my school hours.

The manager never changed his ways, though. He kept scheduling high schoolers at 2.75-hour shifts or 5.75-hour shifts. My friends and I that worked there were fed up with working shifts long enough to not get a break or only one break in nearly six hours, so we brought up the issue with the store manager. He said he’d take it under consideration, but he never did.

So, we did what any group of kids of the same mindset would do. Ten of us put in our two-week notice. This left only two other high schoolers that didn’t want to join the group still working there. We also passed along the word at school for others not to work there because of the work hours, so the store manager couldn’t find any other kids to come in and work.

After my two-week notice was up, the store was so short-staffed that the management team had to take over all the cashier and bagger positions that were now unmanned, simply because the store manager didn’t want to have a heart and be kind to his high school employees. It took a good three or four months before they started finding people to help fill positions, so for those few months, the manager actually had to get up off his lazy behind and work.