I’m being taken advantage of, how do I regain control?

A young lady I will call Mary writes:

While working at a fabric store, a business owner asked if I could sew prototypes for him. He said he only needed someone who could sew simple items. He was paying $10/hr so I went on to sew many prototypes for him.

Two months later he said that he wanted my pattern. I asked for a raise for the hard work I made on this pattern. He doesn’t want to give me a raise nor will he give me credit for creating the pattern. He said he would write me a letter of recommendation and mention my contribution as “HELP IN DEVELOPMENT”. Bottom line is, no one helped me. I worked alone in the office he provided for me, and created the whole instruction manual myself (with detailed, symmetrical computerized how to pictures).

Since the duties and required skills of your job had increased, the best time to have asked for a raise would have been when you began to develop the pattern. As it seems to stand, you’ll have to rely on your employer’s good will to get a bonus. The only exception would be if you developed the pattern on your own time and for which you were not compensated. If you were on your own time, your employer wouldn’t be entitled to anything you’d done -barring of course, that you were salaried or had signed an employment contract.

As far as getting credit… if you’re going to make patterns regularly, you should know you won’t ever get credit for it (or so seldom that it is nearly never). Not only that but you shouldn’t seek credit or even use recent customer’s names to market your services. Put it this way, if someone wanted to knock off one of your previous customers, the best way to do it would be to hire their old pattern maker so this is why it isn’t considered proper to do it.

I can’t debate that you were probably underpaid but there is little to be done about it after the fact. Consider the alternative, that you had hired someone to render a service for you that you don’t know much about. How would it be if the worker came to you after the job was done and said X portion of the work cost more than you’d agreed to pay? If you don’t know much about it, it may seem to be all the same job and you may get the idea that the worker was trying to get more than his due. I think you would agree that the worker should have come to you before doing that portion of the job to say X costs more so you could have negotiated beforehand. What I mean to say is that it is possible that your employer doesn’t know much (I would say that is highly likely since he was looking for stitchers at a fabric store) and for him, drafting and sewing is the same job. Many people think this is the case; I have seen many ads on Craigslist where someone soliciting stitchers will require that they each make their own pattern -which as an aside, is nothing other than an unmitigated disaster in the making. In sum, it is better to assume incompetence rather than malice.

Unfortunately, this is one of those times you will probably have to chalk it off to a lesson learned.

There are 14 comments Leave a comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *