An Open Letter to a Shitty Startup

Yesterday, I left {Insert Shitty Startup’s Name} feeling frazzled and dejected. It was strange to have three adults tell me, another full grown adult, to not take a more desirable opportunity. I was made to give specifics of my new job and was told I made the wrong choice. I do not believe I did.

I am an even-tempered and polite person, I openly and repeatedly expressed that I felt sorry for leaving {Insert Shitty Startup’s Name} on a short notice. But I did not expect the reaction I got yesterday. True, I did not give a two weeks notice, but I told my supervisor about my job offer first thing in the morning. I had been given the job offer the night before, and was excited to share, and it was received warmly. However, at the end of my shift, I was treated like I was in trouble by upper management and HR. One manager continued to raise his voice at me and get red in the face. Yes, if I had the allotted time to give my 2 weeks notice then I would have, but I start Monday and was sent my offer the previous night. I am not “unprofessional” for seeking better opportunity. I was upfront and honest.

No one should be berated for choosing not to stay at a company. I offered to work the rest of the week out and do more OT if needed of me. But I was told it would be my last day, even though they said they needed the extra help. I knew a new person was going to start Monday so my presence was already going to be replaced, I thought it had been perfect timing. By the looks of it, I think I would have been let go on the spot even if I had given my 2 weeks notice in advance (a noted practice told by previous employees online.) I know a lot of startups don’t want to “waste the money” on someone leaving, but we’re humans who do the work and make the company money, so we deserve respect.

If {Insert Shitty Startup’s Name} cared more about its workers, they would pay more, offer more normal hours, allow everyone to work from home, and give longer than a 30 minute lunch break. The 15 minute breaks are not enforced whatsoever. In my 4 weeks working there, I didn’t see a single person take their 15’s, and several people skipped lunch to continue working. Working for even a minute over your 10th hour means you are allowed another 30 minute lunch break, as stated by California law. No young person should be stressed over being yelled at if they aren’t working every minute of the day. If the older managers on salary want to, that’s up to them. As hourly workers, we have rights, and this company could possibly be taken to the labor board.

Paying employees $17 an hour with overtime does not make sense in the long run and {Insert Shitty Startup’s Name} will no doubt lose more employees. Working 10–12 hour days every week day is not normal in hourly positions. No one should get their weekly hours off just to sleep, then wake up early for more wage labor. Even if others say they don’t feel exploited, it can be seen as exploitative. It makes more sense to raise the hourly wage, hire more people, and stagger their hours, rather than let 5 people feel burned out everyday. Believe me when I say that morale is low.

Having an in-office position allows others to feel like there isn’t a health crisis going on outside, that it’s not mandatory to wear masks around others. What would happen if someone does contract COVID-19 in that office? Would they let an employee with covid go? Employees don’t have the time to get tested with 10 hour shifts. And I don’t believe it’s on managements’ top of mind to worry about such things. Right now, 1 in 20 people in Los Angeles have the coronavirus with our hospitals at full capacity; it would be wiser to make these positions remote. Filling out Envoy (with no actual list of symptoms to check off) and getting temperature checks does not stop people from being asymptotic and spreading the virus to others. Maybe others and the company will take it seriously once it affects them personally.

{Insert Shitty Startup’s Name} was offered to me in a time I needed it, I took that opportunity and I’m thankful for the reference. I was given a new opportunity that paid more, was remote, and aligned with my cultural values. On my last day at {Insert Shitty Startup’s Name} I was told I was unprofessional for taking a position that wanted me to start ASAP. I was told I would not be hired there again in the future, although I never expressed wanting to stay or return. I was asked why I continued to interview with this new company and I explained it was a 3 week process (with my final interview on Christmas Eve). I did not have to give any reason as to why I chose to leave. But I still offered my reasonings and was met with vicious rebuttals and scoffs. Comparatively, there are remote opportunities being offered with higher pay and better cultural standards at the moment. If {Insert Shitty Startup’s Name} really wants good employees to stay, they need to higher their standards.

I know my leaving puts added stress to an already stressful workplace, but it is not my fault alone for the stress. It is a stressful and anxious environment for workers and managers alike. I don’t think any employee should feel overwhelmed inside and outside their place of work. More hires and better pay is needed to level the work load, it’s that simple. Unfortunately, I was not paid until a week after my last day.

Just for some professional advice, it is under California employment law that employees who give notice must receive their final check within 72 hours. But, for termination, it is same day. I should have received a hand written check same day. Also, compensation earned between the 1st (30th in my case, which management forgot to input) to the 15th of the month must be paid no later than the 26th of the same month. Not only did {Insert Shitty Startup’s Name} short me of my first day’s pay and holiday pay, they charged me for a wire transfer. Claiming my bank rejected one payment but for some reason not the others; clearly a bald faced lie. I was only paid for my four weeks worked after complaining to their finance person. It took them a full week after my last day to pay me what I was owed. I wasn’t paid the normal two weeks when I started, but four weeks, the full four weeks worked. This is completely illegal.

It should be noted that during my month at {Insert Shitty Startup’s Name} I was on-time everyday and completed every task thrown my way. In the end, none of that was acknowledged, leaving me feeling disposable and used. I’m not asking to be thanked for my short-lived tenure at the company, or even wished good luck on my future endeavors. I just wanted a little compassion. On my last day, every person on my team had a sync with the managers after I gave my notice (no doubt to speak of my decision to leave.) I was not given a chance to speak with anyone in upper management until I had worked my 10.5 hour shift. I felt ostracized for taking a more desirable position. I may be just another number to your company, but I’m a hard working person who expected better. True, {Insert Shitty Startup’s Name} is a start-up and doesn’t need to have its shit together, but the longer these hostile practices go on, the worse the outcome will be.

Please consider the following for areas of improvement:

  1. In the long run, hire more people (preferably more D + I hires), pay more, and stagger hours. Pressure shouldn’t be put on hourly workers to work more than 8 hour shifts. OT is nice but allowing employees to not feel burned out is better. It will save money and time.
  2. Make sure employees take their lunches at their 5 hour mark.
  3. Enforce the allotted 15 minute breaks, this I know is at everyone’s discretion, but I never saw anyone take a 15.
  4. Have employees who work over 10 hours take their 2nd meal break.
  5. Envoy should have a check list for symptoms of the coronavirus, just in case someone is having one but not all symptoms (I don’t know the protocol if someone were to get covid but that would be unfortunate.)
  6. Make seating one desk away from one another mandatory, or have employees seated in a more open area if possible, or go remote entirely until we know it is safe again. Companies that care are doing this.

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