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  • Is My Boss Bad? Need Advice

    I am a novice groomer - I've been grooming a year now, schooling time included, and working at my current job for like 7 or 8 months. Everything was great for a while -- love my coworkers, love the clients, and my boss was great. But I've started having conflict with my boss... lots of conflict. It started when I had a customer very angry at me for not picking the scabs off of her dog, and my boss had me do it anyway. Then, a few months later, I had my first injury... I accidentally cut a rear dew claw on a very matted teddy bear and the claw had to be removed. After asking the client to pay the vet bill (which they naturally refused), he told me I would have to pay the bill. I admit it was my own fault for not finding out before I started what his policy on covering accidents was, but I was quite surprised... I was taught that shops cover injury payments. I eventually came to him and said that I was not comfortable paying the bill because we had not previously discussed his policy on accidents and I had never signed anything saying I would pay for a vet bill. After some time he came to me and said that he would split the bill with me, but told me lots of (what I felt) were strange things, like that it was part of me building credibility to pay the bill and that it was only fair to my coworkers, and that it was very normal for groomers to pay the bill in shops, that it was a very serious injury and the worst he had in the shop, and that it was my responsibility... etc etc. I told him I wanted to think about it for a few days. Well, low and behold on my next paycheck, I see that he's started taking money out of my pay to cover the bill. I wrote him a check for the half the bill and asked him to please not take money out of my paycheck with out my consent again. I didn't mention that it's obviously illegal since I assumed he knew that.

    Since then a few other things have happened and my patience is wearing very thin. This is the first grooming boss I've had (besides a brief stint at PetSomething that was a bust) and I'm trying to decide if it's time to move on or not. I love my coworkers and I have a pretty good client base (and the clients tip REALLY well), but it's getting to the point where I can't stand being in the same room as my boss. What would you do in my shoes? Have you ever had a boss like that?

  • #2
    You have a problem boss. Employees do not have to pay vet bills. Period. You probably can find another better employer and I would. You can probably find free legal aid to get reimbursed for the vet bills deducted from your check. It may be normal for owners to deduct for vet bills? Only where those groomers don't stand up for their legal state rights. Check for yourself with your state govt agency that handles employment and verify.

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    • #3
      It's gonna be a hassle for you, but I suggest you look for a new job & enjoy the recourse of reporting him to BOLI (your state's Bureau of Labor & Industry would be happy to talk to you) and get your $ back. In Oregon (and surely other states ???) it is illegal to have employees pay that vet bill (NOT even ok to have a policy saying employees have to pay) AND it is illegal to deduct $ from a paycheck without your signed permission (even if the you agree it is owed); gotta have a signature. He can't even deduct $ from your paycheck (in Oregon) to repay money you steal WITHOUT your signature. He can fire you for the accident & he can fire you for theft, but he can not deduct $ from your paycheck to repay either loss. He is a bully & taking advantage of you.

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      • #4
        Is your boss a groomer as well, or just a shop owner? Have you asked to see a copy of the employee handbook to avoid future shop policy misunderstandings? I realize there may not actually be one, but if not, this may cover you on any future run ins with your boss over shop policies. Are you an employee or IC? The owners I have worked for in the past have agreed to use their shops insurance policy to cover any employee incidents. Of course a true IC would pay for any incidents using their own cash and/or insurance if necessary. I would say that this may have been an expensive lesson learned, and moving forward you should gain a better understanding of what employee responsibilities will be expected of you. I would also be sure to ask to personally view the vet bill and the total charges that were incurred. If he is deducting them from your wages, IMO it is your right to see this (but not copy in order to protect client information), and will allow you to be sure your are not overpaying. It is hard to say without all the facts what I would do, but based on your post, I would try to let the anger go so it didn't affect my future working relationship with my boss, educate myself on shop policies, and stick it out and progress with new awareness that the person who is looking out for you is yourself.

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        • #5
          Even if an employee signs a waiver saying they will pay for vet bills, it remains illegal in most or all US states to even have an employee sign away their employment rights.

          Interesting Wild4westies on the IC perspective. A true IC would pay for vet bills, but since 90 plus percent of ICs are not legally classified, doesn't that open a can of worms and questions. It is simple things like this that lead to owners using ICs wrongly to get into trouble.

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          • #6
            My boss is also a groomer but has never worked in a shop, if that makes sense. After grooming school he opened his own place and has had his own shop since then. I am an employee, not an IC, and I asked about policy books/employee handbooks and he has none. He does not have written policies it seems. And yeah, I know what you mean about the only one looking out for you is yourself, it is just a hard lesson.

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            • #7
              I did check with the state I'm in (WI) and it is illegal to force your groomers to pay vet bills, even with a signed waiver like Tuckie and Stephen said, as well as take money out of their checks. I paid the half bill because I did feel bad for the incident, it was an accident of course but still my fault, and I didn't want to make a big fuss out of it. He can't legally fire me for not paying the bill but I figured he'd probably do it for cutting the dog, and I don't want to leave until I have another job lined up. I'm want to stay at the shop part time since I really like some things about it.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by hot_to_trot View Post
                I did check with the state I'm in (WI) and it is illegal to force your groomers to pay vet bills, even with a signed waiver like Tuckie and Stephen said, as well as take money out of their checks. I paid the half bill because I did feel bad for the incident, it was an accident of course but still my fault, and I didn't want to make a big fuss out of it. He can't legally fire me for not paying the bill but I figured he'd probably do it for cutting the dog, and I don't want to leave until I have another job lined up. I'm want to stay at the shop part time since I really like some things about it.
                I'm so sorry you're in this situation. I like how you've stood your ground and confronted him. Is he going to pay you back now that you've confirmed he can't take your money?

                Do you know if he even carries insurance to cover injuries?

                BTW, cutting the rear dew claw on a matted dog is almost unavoidable, especially when you're new. It sucks, none the less.

                Good luck. [emoji5]


                Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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