I've been working in my position (at-will, exempt salaried, not a startup, United States - U.S. Citizen) for a few months, and the environment has been mostly okay.
Recently, a few other co-workers and I have been put on the 20-person team of a very big financial project, at about two-thirds of the way through its scheduled life. It took us a little bit of time to acclimate to the project, but since then we have felt that we have been making good progress in good time on the tasks assigned to us. However, the management communicating with the project lead don't see this the same way.
In the time that should reasonably be devoted to task A, we can get through tasks A, B, and C, but we are still expected to have done A, B, C, D, E, F, G, etc.
This confused me for a while, until I learned that a few months were scheduled for a project that should normally take several, several years. The project is fast approaching its HARD deadline with no real end in sight, and most of the ground-level people working on it have realized this.
Today I learned that management is pressuring to have us come into work both full days of the coming weekend. I've also learned that this won't be a special case – they are likely planning to do this every weekend, and eventually ask us to complete extra work from home at nights, with the potential for a few all-nighters as a group. I feel kind of swamped as it is – at the same time, I'm still juggling other work that needs to be done on other projects by myself. On top of this, a few people have already quit, and they aren't being replaced.
When I was hired, I was explicitly told that I would only be expected to work outside of normal hours in the event of an emergency. Emergencies have occurred since then, and I've handled them on my own time without any real complaint. I don't know if this qualifies as an emergency, but I'm not sure that this kind of work load is even possible (maybe it's expected in startups, but I'm not working for a startup).
As an at-will exempt salaried employee, is it unwarranted to be dissatisfied with this kind of environment?
I know that this type of employee doesn't have many protections, but is it normal to be asked to work like this?