“I moved to Seattle in 2014 after completing my master’s degree and struggled to find a job here. After working for a few semesters as an adjunct English instructor, I ended up taking a full-time job in marketing, communications, and PR. I was classified as overtime-exempt and hired at a $43,000 annual salary.
We were generally required to work 45 hours per week or so, but while traveling could work as many as 70 to 80. No matter how many hours I worked, I got the same salary.
As part of my job duties, I was also asked to travel multiple times, and many of my colleagues who were paid a similar amount, or less, traveled much more. Each trip required hours of additional time in, and usually had us working through the weekend. And when we returned, instead of getting comp time at least for the extra hours, we were pressured to come directly from the airport to the office. Even after taking two red-eye flights in a matter of days to New York, I was still asked to go to the office from the airport (arriving around 11 a.m.) and work the rest of the afternoon. Had I been driving rather than commuting, I think I would have posed a danger to others on the road.
Because it didn’t cost my employer anything to keep me working whatever hours they wanted, they didn’t have to take my time into consideration. And so they didn’t.
I believe that if I got overtime it would have made this employer more judicious about the hours it demanded, especially around travel, which would have improved both the health of its workers and the public.”
— Diana Xin, Public Relations, Seattle