I found this meme on Facebook today, and it reminded me of a book I read about a “bill for full autistic employment” where the author talked about how loyal autistic individuals are, as if we are dogs brought to heel by our masters. It mentioned “selling” the loyalty of autistic individuals to employers, because we don’t like change so we’re more likely to stick around at a job long after it’s ceased to serve us. The authors of the book were also huge ABA proponents, so of course, these employees they wanted to bring in, most likely were taught that they were “wrong” and had to conform to neurotypical standards. This is a recipe for employee exploitation.

But it’s not just an autistic individual’s need for stability that keeps people at jobs. When you have experienced trauma, especially workplace trauma like a hostile work environment or layoffs, then you may be loyal out of a need to “people please”. You’ll believe, often erroneously, that if you’re loyal to the employer that they will in turn be loyal to you.

An example would be someone who was laid off and underwent a prolonged period of unemployment or decrease in wages. This is trauma and when this individual finds a new job, they may be hesitant to speak up, set boundaries, or even report illegal behavior because they’re afraid of losing the job and going through the same hardships.

Companies know this. Human resources knows this, and that’s why they will push the boundaries of what they can do or get away with, including things like wage or benefit theft, violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act, FMLA, or other federal laws. Their exploitation and abuse is built into the system.

The easy answer here would be to say “just get a new job”, but there are many factors that make this difficult, if not impossible for many individuals. So instead, I’ll tell you to be aware of the situation, to know what could happen, and then make plans accordingly. Do what you need to do in order to take care of yourself.

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