I have been a lab supervisor in a research lab at the University of New
Mexico for about 2 years. I have my own project (indeed on on of our
grants I am the sole researcher) and have been told repeatedly by my boss
that he considers me to be part of the "senior research staff" which
essentially lumps me in with the post docs.
Recently the university reclassified staff. I was reclassified as a Sr.
Research Technician who "performs experiments according to standardized
procedures and *reports the results to the researcher in charge*"
(emphasis mine). As I was first author on the first paper to come out of
this lab and will be on subsequent papers, I found this a rather
inaccurate description of my position. I left word with the PI that I
wanted to discuss this with him (he was out of town when I got the news)
because it is possible to fight the reclassification and get a more
accurate job description. He chose to deal with this by coming into the
lab and saying in front of everyone "I hear you have a problem with your
reclassification and want to discuss it." I thought this was a totally
inappropriate venue, but stated my case. He was singularly unsupportive
and walked off mumbling over his shoulder "Well, I guess *you* can fight
it if you want to." Of course it is in his best interests to leave me at
this classification because he doesn't have to pay me more. The minimum
classification that best describes my position pays $1200 a year more than
I am currently making.
The real issue, however, is that my pay status has changed from exempt to
nonexempt (meaning that I went from being salaried to getting paid
hourly). My boss seems to expect me to work the same hours I always did
(50+) a week, but report 40. In fact we have a report due at the end of
this week and last Friday he suggested that I should really consider
spending the entire weekend in the lab and "do whatever it takes" to
finish one of the projects we are working on. I didn't work the entire
weekend, but did come in for a few hours on Sunday and worked an 11.5 hour
day yesterday which will probably be repeated today and the rest of the
I am beginning to feel a little exploited here. I *know* that it is
illegal for him to expect me to work more than 40 hours without any sort
of compensation. And I am not sure how to approach my boss with my
concerns. He does after all hold my future in his hands in terms of
letters of recommendation and that sort of thing. My resentment is
compounded by the fact that I have always put in more hours
than the other "senior research staff" and he sees nothing wrong with
this. To kind of give you a picture of what the climate is in the lab, he
once expected an undergraduate employee to work full time for two weeks
without getting paid in order to keep his job.
Anyone have any advice? I am at a total loss here!