I am very new to contracting work in the US and started a couple of months ago. I felt pressured to accept a job where the pay was very low due to difficulties finding employment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The employment ended up being more complicated than I had anticipated:
- I went for a w2 with a staffing agency (Company A)
- Company A contracted me to another company (Company B)
- Company B contracted me to another company (Company C)
- Company C are approved vendors for a consulting company (Company D) from which they can hire an external workforce
- Company D was paid to have me work on a project for their client (Company E)
I am not sure how much Company E paid for me but I am aware that out of the sum Company C/D (they worked as one unit) paid for me, Company B took a 20 percent cut and Company A took a 46% cut leaving me with am approximately 35% cut or less of what Company E has been paying for me.
I am quitting soon because when I asked for a small pay increase I was told that they couldn't do it without bothering the source. I was also informed that Company B and Company A have asked for double the original amount they were paying for me so that each sector were going to profit by a good percentage while I get my measly couple of dollars to keep floating.
When I quit the Company C/D job I informed the boss that my wage was the only reason I was leaving. The low wage shocked him and possibly burned Company B's bridges with him. I was afterwards "warned" by Company B's HR that I should not divulge my wage as it "violated" my contract and would hurt my chances of having them as a "future reference". I read my contract carefully as it was only with Company A, not anyone else, and I was not given any other documents. I told them I have not violated any contract I signed so it doesn't really apply to me. As for burning bridges, the boss I worked with in Company D was very understanding and did not hold it against me when he heard my wages.
My questions are:
- Is this type of employment setup normal?
- What can I ask legally and with due process to avoid these kinds of employments?
- Are there any laws or ethics or norms in place that I can use to call out these kinds of staffing agents who are out to exploit people like me?
- Can I be held responsible for divulging my measly wage? I know to not sign anything with wording to that affect, but want to know if this is just HR-speak or are there companies that actually put this in a contract for a low paying job? How can I contest this kind of contract?
Finally please direct me to any source that gives me a good idea of keeping myself informed and protected in this Contracting market that seems unregulated to say the least.
Thanks a lot for reading if you came this far and sorry for the long post!