My corporation just sent out an email that they will be deducting pay from everyone's paycheck for each of us to purchase a copy of our CEO's book, since his sales have been down lately. It's only $11, but it's really bothering me since it's $11 * 250 employees, or $2750 being stolen from the staff, and none of us consented to this. How would you recommend pushing back against this?
There are multiple ways you can handle this.
- Direct confrontation. Reply to that email, copying HR, saying that you do not consent to this.
- Indirect confrontation. If you have a manager/superior you trust, ask them to intercede. This is something that a good leader would fight on your behalf.
- Anonymous confrontation. Anonymously email HR saying that this is not ok and they need to not do this or it will be reported to legal authorities as it is theft.
- Skip trying to handle it internally and just report it to legal authorities
- Don't do anything and be taken advantage of. Not one I would normally pick, but sometimes you're not in a position to risk losing employment or causing problems at work
I would print the email (being sure that my name doesn't appear) and mail the printout to the state's Attorney General office anonymously with a printed note that this is illegal. On the letter I would note CC of the appropriate labor board and the company's HR department. I would mail the CC copies anonymously too. Then I would drop the matter. (I assume that you don't have a Union...)
If the manure does hit the rotary oscillator, you want to be as far away as possible.
HR is not your friend.
Your coworkers may pat you on the back for creating a stink about the matter and getting their $11 back, but upper level management doesn't like this sort of attention. If it was discovered that you started the brouhaha then you would have cut your throat.
I would reply with: "No thank you".
Simple, polite, and if they do garnish your wages then you have a clear case of theft/fraud.
If it is a dumb joke from pay roll, then you called their bluff.
If you get serious back lash, you can say you were going planning to buy it yourself already (a lie, to give you time to find a job with a less toxic ceo)
Considering the amount of money its costing I would personally go with a soft protest and have some fun with it to raise employee spirits and create some camaraderie about it. One idea already suggested is to read the book in work time. Other things could be:
- Get as many employees as possible to to give it a 1 star review on Amazon (Anonymously). You could even explain in your review what the author/his company has done
- Use it around the office for menial/trivial things e.g. using it as a notepad to take work notes, tearing out pages to wipe a spill etc
- Send out a bulk email asking all employees if they want to buy a copy of your book (or a variation of that e.g. buy something of yours from etsy/buy cookies from your child etc), since the company has set a precedent for it now.
There is a response that everybody forgets, which is "talk to your colleagues". If enough of you refuse to buy the book and threaten court action then seriously, what is the company going to do? Fire everyone?
Forcing employees to by a book is essentially withholding wages, which is illegal in pretty much every jurisdiction.
How would you recommend pushing back against this?
Not at all.
Yes, it's wrong, it's creepy, it's unfair, it's unethical and quite possibly illegal (depending on your legislation, of course).
However, it's only $11 and any potential course of action will incur non-trivial risk & effort and is unlikely to be successful. Options include reporting to the authorities/unions, engaging a lawyer, complaining to HR, trying to stage a company wide protest, talking to the press etc. I think it's unlikely that any of these will work and they could very easily backfire.
The fact of the matter is that you work for a CEO that is either an idiot or a crook. I don't think you can change them, so your best long-term bet is to start looking for a place that's better run.
Typically I don't condone unethical behavior but it's also prudent to be mindful how you pick your battles and make sure you fight the good fight when it really matters. This seems just to trivial to spent a lot of energy on.