Common Sense Opinions: Your Employer is Secretly Taking Advantage of You

Brent Grimes of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers recently made a few interesting comments on his wife Miko Grimes’ podcast, “iHeart Miko”. He said that he felt “disrespected” by his coaching staff after they asked him to shadow wide receivers Antonio Brown and Julio Jones (who are considered the best in their positions) earlier this year because he believes his salary was too low.

On the podcast, he stated, “I just couldn’t agree with it. It’s just disrespectful. People who follow receivers all the time, unless they’re on a rookie contract or trying to get paid, are usually making $13-15 million a year.”

For context, Grimes plays a position on defense called cornerback where he is tasked with guarding some of the top offensive players on the opposing team on a weekly basis. When a defender is asked to “shadow” another player, they are basically following their every move on the field to essentially prevent him from catching a pass. Some of the players Grimes was asked to shadow weren’t just the best players on their team, but also in the entire league. He did this all while earning a base salary of $7 million. This is similar to asking a doctor to see 20 patients, but only getting paid for 10 of them. It is more work for less pay. While I can already feel the perpetual eye rolls from some of you reading this and thinking, “But he’s making $7 million,” my goal is not to compare Grimes to a doctor, or even compare salaries. It is to help you understand your worth as an employee and the power you possess.

The Bait & Switch

We can all attest to being excited about starting a new job filled with potential and new challenges. I have personally been very excited right before starting a new job due to the opportunity to grow my skills and learn in a new environment. On the other hand, many of you have probably experienced the feeling that you were a bit underpaid for the work you were doing especially when your daily responsibilities had expanded to the point where you were doing more work than you were led to believe you would be doing when you interviewed. I am not talking about working more hours from time to time or adding a little more responsibility to your plate. That is normal and if you don’t like that then you might be a little lazy (trust me I have been there). I am talking about being asked to do work that is clearly meant for someone who is making more than you. If this is the case, you my friend are a victim of the bait and switch.

I have seen this happen across various industries on different levels. From retail associates doing their manager’s work while still getting paid an associate level hourly wage or a manager level employee at a large pharmaceutical company doing director level work only to get paid the same manager salary they came in with. It is more common than you think because sadly, many employees don’t speak up for reasons too cumbersome to explain in this article. You may come in thinking you have a good idea of what your daily tasks will be, but it then morphs into a role where you are doing more than what you are getting paid to do. What is worse is that many people continue to do this with no sign of a promotion or pay increase in sight. Anyone going through this has a legitimate gripe with their employer.

Know Your Worth

This brings me back to Grimes and his complaint. Whether or not you agree with someone complaining about making $7 million is irrelevant because it is not about how much money you are making. It is about whether the work you are doing is equivalent to the level of your role and if you are being fairly compensated for it. How would you feel if you knew you were doing the same or even more work than your manager, someone who is clearly making more than you, but you were not getting paid as such? How about if you knew that a co-worker was making more than you, yet you are the one who is tasked with more complex and tedious work than they are? There is a fine line between doing what is asked of you and being taken advantage of.

Grimes knew he was being taken advantage of because he was not being paid market value to guard the best receiver on each team. That task should be left for his teammate who plays the same position and makes more than he does, or he should be paid accordingly. There is a reason why there are salary negotiations in this world.

If you notice that your responsibilities have gone way beyond your pay grade, it might be time for a gut check. Again, I am not talking about just simply putting more work on your plate or staying late. Many employees do this in hopes of impressing their boss or showing that they are team players. However, if you feel that the amount of work you are given and your level of pay in relation to that work is low enough that it is borderline asinine, then it is probably time to have a conversation with your employer. As an employee, your power is in your voice and when you realize your worth is being taken advantage of becomes less common.

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