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Monday, February 8, 2016 12:55 am

How To Tell if You Are Exploited By Your Employer, and What You Can Do About It

Posted by on Sunday, April 6, 2008
This article was posted in Jobs/Career, Popular Posts, Writing category and has 33 Comments so far.


This article was originally written by Alex for the Helium.com titles:

How to tell if you are exploited by your employer“.

What to do if you are exploited by your employer“.

Most people who have jobs and work on a day to day basis need their jobs to earn a living, buy food, to pay their rent/mortgage, help support a family, and to live a satisfied life. Unfortunately, it is this basic need for survival that can open up an employee to exploitation.


When a person grows afraid of losing their job because they don’t think they will be able to survive without it, they become more apt to tolerate working in an environment they don’t like or even hate. They become more apt to being used and treated badly by their employers because they don’t want to risk quitting or being fired if they confront their employer about the problems they are having.

Some employers see this fear as an opportunity and thus use it to take advantage of their workers. When companies exploit their employees, they are doing so to save profits. They tend to do this in many ways such as not paying their employees what they deserve, overworking them to exhaustion, treating them unfairly, and not giving them credit for their work.

It is likely that at some point during your working life, you will experience some form of exploitation by your employer. This article is intended as a resource to help you determine if you are being exploited by your employer, as well as steps you can take to deal with this stressful and daunting experience.

There are many ways that a company can exploit an employee, and here is a list of the major ways in which an employer will do this:


How to tell if you are being exploited by your employer:

1. Not being paid for the true value of your work

This is a major way that employers take advantage of their employees. They will pay you less than you think you deserve to make. Every dollar a company saves by not paying you what you deserve, the company keeps as a profit. It’s sad and unfair, and a horrible feeling to know that you aren’t being properly compensated. If you feel as if you aren’t earning the money you think you deserve at your job, I recommend visiting Salary.com. This web site will help you find out the true value of your work by comparing the work you do with other people who work similar jobs in your area. It’s a very good way to find out if people doing the same work as you are making more money.

2. Not being credited for your work

Often when an employee is being exploited by his/her employer, they will not receive credit for their work or another employee (such as a supervisor) will even take credit for the work of the employee. These types of credit can be anything from not receiving praise or a simple thanks for work being done, as well as not receiving bonuses and raises when they are deserved.

3. Being Overworked

Another typical way an employer will take advantage of an employee is by overworking them. Overworking an employee can include making them work very long shifts with few breaks, making them work many days without days off, or not providing an adequate work environment or equipment that allows the employee to get his/her work done easily. Often the employee is very tired, lethargic, suffering from muscle pain, stressed or even depressed.

4. Unfair Treatment

Being treated unfairly at work really has a lot to do with the last three indicators of exploitation. When an employee is treated unfairly by an employer, it can also include preferential treatment of certain employees over others, racism, sexism, and any other bias that makes the employee feel as though they are not being treated fairly in the workplace.

These are typical ways to tell if you are being exploited by your employer. If you feel that you are being exploited at work, don’t lose hope! There are ways to help resolve the situation! These tips will help you to figure out the best solution for you:


What you can do if you are being exploited by your employer:

1. Understand how you are being exploited.

If you have the general feeling that you are being exploited but aren’t sure why, the first thing to do is understanding the heart of where this feeling is coming from, then you can tackle it head on. Ask yourself these questions to help determine how you are being exploited:

Are you being paid what you truly deserve for your work?
Are you treated unfairly at work?
Are you a victim of racism, sexism, or any other prejudice?
Do you often feel very tired, suffer from muscle pain or depressed after working?
Do you receive credit and praise for the work you do?

Depending on how you answered these questions, you are closer to understanding the nature of your exploitation.


2. Employeeissues.com

Employeeissues.com is a valuable web site that can help you understand what your rights are as an employee, and what you can do if you are experiencing problems at work. The site gives in-depth information on laws that help protect employees and can also provide services like referring you to an attorney. This is a great second step to understanding what you can do about your work related problem without having to confront anyone directly yet.

3. Talk to your boss or supervisor

Talking to a boss about problems you are having at work can often be an unnerving experience, but it is very important to remain confident and steadfast in your approach. Talk to your boss with respect, and not with an attitude, as this makes you look unprofessional and more than likely your concerns will be ignored.

Typically your boss should be willing to discuss your concerns and help you find a plan to help resolving them. Maybe your boss hasn’t noticed that you’ve been treated unfairly, overworked, or not being paid what you deserve. It happens sometimes, and you should be willing to give your boss the benefit of the doubt.

4. Talk to Human Resources

If your company has a human resources department, it is always a good idea to discuss with them your concerns and they can probably help you understand what your rights are as an employee and act as a mediator between you and you boss. This can sometimes help if your boss is difficult to deal with.

5. Talk to an attorney

If you have an attorney available to you offhand, this is another invaluable resource that can help you understand your rights as an employee and can help you get legal advice. If you don’t happen to have an attorney available, there are many free attorney referral services you can use. LegalMatch.com is one of these companies that provides a free matching service so people and businesses can find attorneys in their state to help with legal problems they have.

6. Quit

I know this may seem like a radical way to stop your problems at work, but in some situations it is the only way. The reason why most companies exploit their employees is that they know you are afraid to quit and will allow the exploitation to happen. You are a valuable person. You should never allow anyone to exploit you, especially an employer. Don’t work for an employer out of fear and because you don’t think you can get another job. There are new jobs available all the time and staffing/employment agencies that are eager to help find you work. I know, because I have used them before.

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are being exploited, there are things you can do to stop it. Once you understand the nature of your exploitation, you can find the people/services that can give you the best help possible. Remember that you are a valuable person, a human being, and shouldn’t be exploited no matter what the situation. Good luck!

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33 Responses to “How To Tell if You Are Exploited By Your Employer, and What You Can Do About It”

  1. Tip Diva | Carnival Of Tips - April 12, 2008 - Part I
    13 April, 2008, 19:16

    […] Landis presents How To Tell if You Are Exploited By Your Employer, and What You Can Do About It posted at AlexLandis.com, saying, “Are you being exploited at work and need help? Then this […]

  2. Megan
    18 September, 2008, 9:08

    I work in a company that is constantly making comments about my race. It is a conllection agency so we speak with many differenc races on the phone and I have to listen to management makes fun and comments about many different races (if they are not white). I do what I can to support myself and my boyfriend here in Sacramento. I work extra hours do side jobs and even keep other employees cans to assist me with gas getting to and from work. My manager has found the need to make fun or this by asking me in the office with about 20 plus employees present that if I want to dumpster dive there are many cans in the garbage. She has made remarks about me buying my clothes at good will and many more comments. I also have a weight problem that is not due to just loving food. I also have a male manager who has made comments to me about going to the gym how I need to go work out (all in the office with employees present) I can’t begin to tell you how humiliated I was. I cry on my way to work everyday. Yet I continue to make the drive and to do my best at work. Is there anything I can do or report this hostile work environment to? Thank you Megan

  3. ignored
    22 September, 2008, 3:12

    i believe that totally ignoring attempts no matter how lengthy or short the advance is when professing your stress, fatigue, or issues to employers is wrong. especially when you pick up slack, go above and beyond, maintain, and consistently provide excellent service.

    when i noticed i was out growing my position i advanced my attempts in polite, respectful ways over a year, growing more and more direct in my attempts. i after time started to seek employment elsewhere.

    when i noticed that possibly they got wind of my attempts, i was exploited to the bottom of the totem pole. retaliation in a sort.

    i believe the time to quit is at hand and after years of experience in situations such as this i have also learned that hard workers who are prone to or have been exploited and are met with any time of hostility or ill consideration need to look into legal ways to make sure that background checks are conducted in a legal fashion, this can be just as harmful as exploitation.

  4. Nauman Baig
    9 October, 2010, 4:52

    Exploitation is every where and in every organization. To be honest exploitation is unavoidable. Exploited employee of today becomes the exploiter when they reach the top cadre. One can be exploited yet quite satisfied with one’s job. Exploitation is like a lubricant necessary to keep the engine running but require to be changed after certain time. So bear the period of exploitation to reap up the benefits of tomorrow. Dont forget employers /management exploits because there are too many unhappy employee but there are too little opportunities. Had this not been the case, we would not be reading all this.

  5. 28 December, 2010, 2:24

    Hey Nauman,

    I would have to disagree that exploitation is everywhere. I do think however that it has the potential to show up in any workplace at any time. I have worked many places where I have felt exploited because I was underpaid, or treated unfairly. I also continued working these jobs because I was afraid that if I lost my job I wouldn’t be able to live.

    Since then however, I have found a much better job with a great team of people. I feel appreciated and respected for the work that I do, so I know that it is possible to find a job that lacks exploitation. In my opinion there is no job that is more important than a person’s dignity or self-worth. I highly advocate that if an employee feels as though their employer is treating them unfairly, that they start considering the steps I mentioned above while searching for a new place to work.

  6. 18 January, 2011, 11:17

    “If your company has a human resources department, it is always a good idea to discuss with them your concerns.” This is a crucial point. I think many employees miss this step out because they see it as slightly awkward, when in actual fact the company may be able to resolve some of the main issues relatively quickly.

  7. aditya
    21 March, 2011, 5:57

    i am working in  a public sector company,but this company has aprefrential  bias towards people of one race.
    I fear loosing job as i have to support family. they will ask you to do overtime in control room where you have to do constantly mentalk work yet noise level is appx 85dB. in morning shift they will give you 5min to relive given the fact toilets are 200m away and busy.
    I am working in shift for more thAN 9 YRS which is very tiring whereas 7 -8 yrsjuniors and my batchmate were removed from shift as they belong to this prefrential race.
    the companies exploitative policies does not end here but continues in selection as well, the company organizes recruitment exam on allIndian basis but selects people only from one stste oriss ,what are the implication  or it implies that India – other states does  not have talents or the whole country is full of fools and illitrate. genious only lives in thier state.
    those unfortunate recuirteed from other state are put to hard exploitations

    the job conditions in INDIA are poor so people from other parts of nation has to suffer this exploiytation

  8. MG
    27 May, 2011, 7:36

    I had the same problem at my first full time job – a fabric store – I now believe that part of my being exploited was due to the fact I was not married or had kids (I worked in an all-female environment, most of these ladies got married while they were still in high school so they were uneducated) while in my 20’s. I eventually quit when things became intolerable. I realize that allowing myself to tolerate the abuse and bullying put out by my boss (a woman) only gave her license to keep treating me that way and accusing me of doing things I never did. On the positive side I became self employed and make good money at what I do.

  9. Karen
    11 August, 2011, 9:19

    Unfair treatment is everywhere…..i think this thing can never be change in 100 more year or so…and it’s a vast thing to talk about…when i think of unfair treatment, i think of racial discrimination…and I am telling you, it’s just going to be that way…

  10. Alice Yu
    15 September, 2011, 6:48

    I would agree that discussion, I do think however that it has the potential to show up in any workplace at any time. I have worked many places where I have felt exploited because I was underpaid, or treated unfairly. Thanks :)

  11. nayumigrante
    19 September, 2011, 11:05

    Your article gives justice to us to this employees issues..

  12. naruto0506
    7 October, 2011, 3:25

    What a awesome article that you share. Thanks for sharing to us. GREAT! | 😛

  13. reelsteel06
    18 October, 2011, 9:37

    I eventually quit when things became intolerable. I realize that allowing myself to tolerate the abuse and bullying put out by my boss. | 😛

  14. Harieth
    19 October, 2011, 1:19

    just what i am experiencing now, i hate our  supervisor and he’s being rude with the way he acts and speak…he doesn’t know how to handle his workers. he’s downgrading us all. that’s why i decided to quit!

  15. 3 November, 2011, 17:21

    :( my wife feels like she is being exploioted at work

  16. darknight0506
    8 November, 2011, 20:07

    Academia is one of the WORST offenders. The treatment of nontenured faculty and contingent faculty (adjuncts) is routinely shocking and unjust all over the country. Staffpeople fare a bit better than adjuncts, but they are also shamelessly and hypocritically exploited. 😯

  17. Preethi
    11 November, 2011, 0:02

    This is an amazing article and truely encouraging and almost everything said is true .
    Great Work ! :)

  18. barry wilson
    17 November, 2011, 6:17

    Kyu Lee is an idiot and its guys like that no matter what they earn in position or
    dollars
    are always miserable. If you are not your brother’s keeper in this world, you will have a life
    filled with a guilty concscience when you think back how many people you screwed over to get where you are.
    You see the same people going up the ladder as you do going down, its a world where you can
    earn 100K-1m one year, and be penniless in an instant. The world is really a continual transfer of
    wealth between the haves and the have nots, but at any time, one can fall to either side of the line
    depending on circumstances.

  19. k
    11 April, 2012, 5:55

    i need advice as to whether i am being treated unfairly or being harassed or bullied. i and all the members of my team have picked up on the fact that our employer only picks on me. she would send harsh emails to me however would not do it to anyone else even if theyve made the same mistakes as me. sometimes she would send me harsh emails even if i have not done anything. she would talk about fashion, however if i stop her to talk about work she would shout at me so the entire office can hear. she has given me late warning for arriving 5 minutes late however overlooked 2 other people who came in after me. i now come in bang on 9am and have noticed many people come 10-15 minutes late some even half hour late, however nothing is said to them. she is now trying to undermine me by making me show my work to a staff who has not even qualified or started her training. im fully qualified. she is not asking anyone else to do this. she would make comments at me at times. all the staff at work have noticed this and have noticed that i am the only one being treated like this. no body else is being treated this way. i have kept all the emails shes sent me that i felt are innapropriate. i have spoken to my colleagues to clarify whether i am mistaken or not. my colleagues feel that i am being picked on and it is only becoming more and more regular. what should i do?

  20. Nauman Baig
    11 April, 2012, 6:09

    Get your boxing gloves on and find another job!

  21. dee
    8 July, 2012, 15:39

    Hi I feel everything that was mentioned, I’m totally overworked and underpaid infact it effects a number of employees in my work place. When I signed my contract at work I signed for 1 specific department 4 x amount of money per month as the months went by I discovered that other people that work for the same company as me gets a basic salary + commission who do the exact same job as me and there are more than one person in the department I was in total shock where is my commission I still haven’t got an answer for that! Now they got me working do all different task in a day without me finishing my job and they pay me the same amount so basically my work load an duties have increased but not my money am I being exploited! Help!

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