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Worker Criticized For Not Fighting Back After His Boss Forces Him To Cancel His Birthday Vacation — 'You Are The Dream Pushover Employee'

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worker not fighting back against his boss

A lot of the problems with the American workplace are due to a sort of catch-22 — if we all banded together and fought back against bad bosses and unfair policies, we could change things for the better.

But too many of us — most of us, probably — can't afford the risk to our wallets, our access to healthcare, and our fundamental well-being to actually stand up for ourselves.

When a worker on Reddit found himself in this sort of situation, he made a choice that has sparked quite a bit of debate online.

The worker is being criticized for not fighting back against his boss for canceling his vacation.

For a lot of us, dealing with the ins and outs of vacation time is one of the most annoying parts of our jobs, and most of us have had a manager at one time or another we had to battle with to even use our time off. Or worse yet, a boss who still insists we work while on vacation.

But having an already approved vacation canceled days before departure? That's a whole other matter, and it's what happened to a worker who recently posted in the r/antiwork subReddit

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He explained that he and his girlfriend had planned a getaway for his upcoming birthday. His girlfriend really went all out for his celebration, booking airline tickets and all kinds of events at their destination.

The time off was approved over a month prior, but just days before he and his girlfriend were set to depart, his boss reneged and told him he was expected to show up for work as usual. 

When his boss threatened to fire him, he relented — and many people online have criticized him as a 'pushover.'

"Tried pushing back and it just ended up with me being written up and saying if I don't show up I'll be fired," he wrote in his post. And even though he backed down, he was still punished with probation. "Now I'm out of money, [girlfriend] is [mad] at me and on 90 probation at work," he lamented. "That did not go as planned."

In the comments of his Reddit post, he received criticism from people who thought he should have put up a fight. "Simply inform them you are still taking those days and that's that," one person wrote. "Right now, it sounds like you are letting them punk you. Do something about it."



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The man replied that he actually did try to do something about it, and it resulted in his probation. But that did little to stem the flow of cirticism. "So you let them punish you... without you even doing anything? Dude, you are the dream pushover employee," another commenter wrote. "No offense, but you just told them, 'you own me.'"

Others shared their own experiences with having relented in similar ways, and how they later came to regret it. There certainly is something to be said for fighting back — and a lot of us (this writer included) probably wouldn't put up with this kind of behavior from a boss

But missing from the discourse is the fact that many of us simply can't afford to lose our jobs for a myriad of reasons. And, more importantly, when it comes to cases like these, American workers have almost zero legal recourse.

Unfortunately, it is entirely legal to cancel a worker's approved vacation, and workers have very few rights in such cases.

Canceling a pre-approved vacation is dishonest and downright mean. But is it legal? Unfortunately, yes it is.

As employment lawyer Ryan Stygar explained in the video below, unless the vacation time is for something like religious practice, medical care, or other protected activities, workers basically have no recourse when their vacation is canceled.



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Stygar did recommend submitting proof that the vacation was already approved, as sometimes this compels employers to honor the previous agreement. But most of the time, you're out of luck.

And this man's critics are right about one thing — him relenting is part of how abusive systems like this are able to continue.

Corporate leadership knows that fighting back against your boss is usually a recipe for financial upheaval or even calamity. This is why many unions have strike funds, to help workers stay afloat while fighting for better working conditions. 

The trouble is that this is one of those cases where both the vacation deprived employee and the commenters are partly in the right. Unless we all band together and demand better, nothing will ever change. But it's also true that most workers simply cannot afford to fight back.

What isn't debatable is what Stygar pointed out in his video and what many others online echoed: "An employer who does not respect your life outside of work does not deserve to have you as an employee."

Those of us able to fight back should do so, and have the backs of those who can't.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.