I was driving in my car a few weeks ago with my 16-year-old niece, who had recently started her first job at a popular fast-food chain. I asked her how she likes it, and she enthusiastically said she loves it. Then I asked her how much she works, and she told me usually her shifts weren't longer than eight hours, but she has worked longer a few times--even more than 40 hours a week once. It was summer, she wasn't in school or sports, so I congratulated her on landing the overtime pay. "They didn't pay me overtime," she said. "They told me they would on the days they asked me to stay, but when my check came, it wasn't there." When she asked her manager about it, he shrugged it off. She didn't push the issue--she likes her job and wasn't interested in making trouble.
Last week, while traveling, I was listening to an episode of Public Radio International's "This American Life" called "Crybabies." The show was about people who have had to kick and scream to get their way. One of the segments was about several disabled people in California who sue businesses to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act codes. Some of the show's guests were proud of their accomplishments in suing these companies--one even raked in six figures over the past few years in settlement money from his suits. But one woman, a lawyer herself, was too ashamed to file a lawsuit, in this case, against her hair salon over a parking space, saying she didn't want to be labeled the "bad disabled person" who was causing trouble.