…So a few days ago I read a story from the HR Capitalist about a class action lawsuit filed against Burger King by employees alleging they were mis-classified as exempt on account of being in management trainee programs. From the piece (here):
According to allegations in a recently filed overtime pay class action lawsuit brought by a former employee, Burger King Corp. misclassified its operations coaches and trainees as exempt employees in order to stiff them of overtime pay, saving the fast-food chain millions of dollars.
By classifying the coaches and trainees as exempt employees with no supervisory or administrative responsibilities, whose jobs consisted of performing “menial laborious tasks, including, operating cash registers, cleaning bathrooms, greeting and serving customers, and cooking food,” Burger King intentionally and repeatedly violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, according to the unpaid overtime class action lawsuit filed by plaintiff Ronald R.
^So Dunn argues in his post that the BK employees shouldn’t be complaining about being (mis?)classified as exempt on the grounds that they are in fast-track management trainee programs. He says:
Someday my boys are going to grow up and they may land in a management training program right out of school. If they even so much as give a peep about not getting comped appropriately for the work they’re doing as grunts, you know I’m going to tell them ST_U and do the job. Because you and I know that’s the way the world works.
They have access to a program. The best way to get ahead is to work hard and get promoted 5 times before you’re 30. That’s what the ballers do.
^So – caveating here that if BK is mis-classifying its employees it should stop doing so immediately – this is nevertheless an interesting idea because it goes to the power of access. It reminded me of something a mentor told me once – that early in your career you should make career decisions based not on the biggest job you can get right now… but based on what role will position you for the biggest job five years from now. Mara Schiavocampo reinforces this point in a Linkedin influencer post here. The relevant section is below:
…I remember calling one of my mentors for guidance several years back, feeling stalled in a lot of ways professionally. I expected feedback on my performance. But what I got was something quite different.
My mentor and I stayed on the phone for well over an hour that day, with her giving me advice on everything but my performance: the importance of building and maintaining good relationships; what kind of image I should be working to project; how the hierarchy of the company was set up. That day, she taught me all of the things I needed to know (but didn’t know I needed to know), summarized by what she called PIE: Success is 10% Performance, 30% Image, and 60% Exposure. To this day those lessons long ago continue to be some of the most practically useful of my career.
…So I don’t know if I agree with this distribution or not… but the idea that success is driven in large part by a combination of performance, image/perception, and exposure is in my mind very accurate.
…In our careers, it is easy to feel in any given moment like we are being treated unfairly – particularly when comparing ourselves to others. But I think that what both authors are saying here is that when given an exceptional opportunity sometimes the best thing you can do is put your head down and perform with a smile on your face. Because if you don’t put yourself above doing arduous or otherwise menial tasks, work hard, and have a good attitude then – mixed with the right level of visibility – over the long run you will see a return on your efforts in the form of the career advancement of your dreams.