I wish I had read all the threads about how terrible this company was to work for. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I began as a seasonal associate in the 2nd Week of September 2011, received very menial training (thank goodness I had been doing family photos for years on my own), and within 5 weeks, I was asked to be the new manager, as the old one had been bullied into quitting.
The fact that all my senior employees were leaving should have been a hint, but I was offered a 3 dollar an hour increase and promised that they would hire and train a staff for me so I wouldn't be overwhelmed. Well, guess who had to hire and train her own staff IN THE MIDDLE of the busy season. The abuse that occurred over the next year number too many to list, but I'll tell you some highlights. Besides the hundreds of missed lunch breaks that were unpaid, and the fact that I was hardly ever allowed to have any employees, and NEVER took a single 15 minute break, the below listed are a few of the more heinous things I had to deal with.
Like the day that my employee called out sick (an hour after her shift was to start) and I was left with double booked families every 30 minutes. I did my absolute best and wound up pleasing all my sessions and still doubling the LY sales comp. So, I called my DM and asked for the next day off since we only had 2 appts booked and I had another associate that was scheduled to work the whole day as well. I was told, no, I needed to be there because it was a Sunday and that I'd better tell the other associate not to come in. When I succeeded and was about to end the call, she proceeded to LECTURE me about how she knew I could have another sales day like the one before if I just worked harder to get more people to come in. I was stunned.
And it gets better. My daughter had the flu and needed me to stay home with her, and even though I had coverage, the DM tried to flex her muscles and tell me to BRING MY SICK CHILD TO WORK WITH ME. I told her I was NOT coming in and that if she thought we were suddenly going to need more than one person on (we usually only were allowed one person a shift) that she could drive there and help my associate. She didn't try to fight me on it, but called the studio and harassed the employee about whether or not I was lying.
And Then...I got food poisoning a few months later, and only had one appointment scheduled for the entire day and it was a regular customer that I was very comfortable with and knew had a flexible schedule. She couldn't reschedule the shoot, but did agree to come back the next day to do the purchase. So, with 3 hours left on the clock, and having vomited more than once during my shift (Poor trashcan), I called to ask if I could go home early and leave a note explaining the emergency situation. Take into consideration that in my entire employment with them, the ONLY time I ever called out was to stay with my sick daughter. The DM said no. In the off chance that the phone rang, it was absolutely imperative to have someone there to answer it. I understand that, but if I called to ask about portraits for my baby and the person on the other end vomited...I would stay as far away from that studio as possible.
But, the real kicker, (even beyond missing my best friend's wedding, or my sister's going away party, or the funeral and grieving of a childhood friend, due to not having any employees) was the day I found out I had stage 2 cancer. The oncologist had just looked me in the eyes and told me I'd have 10 years or so. I was shaken, to say the least. So, I called to TELL my DM that I would be taking some time off to spend it with my 2 year old and my family, and to seek treatment. Unbelievably, the DM told me that she had had cancer once and that I'd be fine and would not be allowed the time off. What!? Who was she to decide how I would deal with this LIFE CHANGING news? I have worked in the medical field as well, and am familiar with the FMLA, so I asked "I'm sorry, but it's this EXACTLY why the Family Medical Leave Act exists?" To which, my Oh, so professional DM answered, "Oh, you want a leave little b*tch, (yes, I was telling this woman I had a just learned of an aggressive cancer growing inside me, and she called me a B*TCH for wanting to exercise my rights) you can have a PERMANENT leave! You can start right now!" I was so overwhelmed I just started crying. One of the manager for the Sears store walked by and saw me distraught, and within a month, I had secured full time employment inside the store.
I make the same amount of money, but not I'm PART of the team, not the WHOLE team. I recently received a notice from an attorney regarding a class action lawsuit against them and will be most assuredly jumping on board.