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My employer wants me to work extra hours for 'no pay' in order to cover past of the cost on the broken artwork.
March 2005, Article 6
I want to do the right thing and I think that my boss is usually a fair person please help me figure out what the ethical thing to do is.
I work at an art gallery in North Carolina. I earn less than $600 every
2 weeks. I got married in December to someone that makes roughly the same
amount. Three days before my wedding I was in the gallery trying to wrap
things up when a photographer who was doing a photoshoot called me over
to help him move a piece. He was pushing, I was pulling --I told him to
stop but in his overzealousness he continued to push me into a piece of
art. The art broke and it cost $3000. At first the gallery wanted me to
pay for the whole thing and I told them that was impossible. ( My engagement
ring only cost $650 because we have no money. (Ahh to be young poor in
love, an artist and well educated...)
Dear Art Slave ,
It sounds to me like the events leading up to the breakage of the artwork
were activities that were part of your normal workplace duties. As such
it is your employer and not you who are liable for any damages that occur.
Unless you were grossly negligent, which according to your description
you were not, you should not bear any responsibility for the cost.
The difficulty in this situation is that to insist that you are not responsible may result in your employer firing you. And you may not have the resources to challenge that action. Losing your job may be a significant financial hardship as well. So you need to weigh whether it is worthwhile to simply absorb the cost in order to keep your job, or to insist that you are not legally required to do so.
Perhaps the state department of labour can offer some advice on how this matter might be mediated to reach a resolution that allows you to keep your job, without bearing the burden of paying for the damage.
I wish you well with this situation. Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.
Dr. John Burton
Dr. John Burton LL.B. M.B.A. M.Div. Ph.D. is an ethicist, mediator, lawyer and theologian whose passion is helping people and organizations create better relationships and stronger communities by being clear, committed and collaborative in their approach to ethics and conflict. John is currently located in Prince Rupert, B.C., Canada, working with Canada's aboriginal communities.
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