Having trouble with my boss. Advice?

So I do home respite care for a girl with autism. I have been with her for two years now. Her mom is my boss, and she used to love me and say she wished she could clone me. But two months ago, she did a total 180 and has been constantly criticizing me and cutting my hours. I have tried to talk with her about why, and asked if there is something she wants me to do that I’m not doing yet. She said no, everything was fine, and I do an amazing job with her kid.

But then she goes right back to constantly hovering over my shoulder and criticizing me again. I have no idea what changed so suddenly. Well, I do have an idea. This all started the day after she asked, “What are you doing this weekend?” I replied, “Going to the gay pride parade.” That weekend she called me in to work at the last minute, so I had to work instead of going to the parade. And that is when the criticisms started. I don’t know for sure if that is the reason, but the timing is suspicious.

Today, things kind of erupted. I had mentioned several times that I can’t be scheduled for only an hour, because it costs me ten dollars in gas to drive there and back, and I only make ten dollars an hour. I said I don’t mind working an hour and a half, but I can’t be actively losing money when I go to work.

Today, while I was on my way, she sent me a text that said, “Today is only 4-5 due to music therapy.” This is not the first time she has done this. When I got to her house, I tried to explain that I have been noticing a pattern of behavior of cutting my hours without notice, and immediately she started screaming, “I’ve had it! I have absolutely had it!” She said I judge everything she does and I don’t know what it is like raising two kids with special needs, and I have to be lenient with her. She said every time she makes a mistake I jump down her throat (even though this is about the tenth time she has done this in the past two months, and every other time I just said, “it’s okay, things happen.”). This is the first time I have tried to assert my boundaries.

I don’t know what to do. I have tried multiple times to have a constructive discussion with her about changes I can make to better help the family. I feel like maybe I contributed to this unhealthy environment by not being firm with my boundaries and by making myself easy to take advantage of. I feel like maybe I had hostile body language and that is what caused her to yell. Basically, I’m starting to feel like it is my fault, even though intellectually I know that she was way out of line.

So what do I do? I have been trying to get another job but nobody will hire me. I can’t quit because I am getting paid through worker’s comp for partial disability, and in order to keep that check I have to work all hours available to me. I also don’t want to leave the girl. Most of the aide services in the area have blacklisted her because of how her mom treats aides. I don’t think she will fire me, because there is literally no one else to replace me. And having constructive discussions just results in her screaming at me. What do I do?

No offense, but if you are asking me, I would just leave the job. You have strong enough excuses right there that it costs too much money on your end to travel all the way there to see her.

Funny thing, though, is that when I was a caregiver/CNA and did work, I had the option of gas-mileage reimbursement. You should be paid to travel to & from work in a case like this - as an addition to your hourly wage. It’s a statute, I think, in my State, to make this available to people who do home care services.

Either kindly ask for gas-mileage reimbursement, or kindly put in your two weeks notice. That’s what I’d do. You have SZ and are sort of “special needs” too. Mention this to the folks that are in charge of your disability. I don’t work at all because I have a strong case of behavioral symptoms & hallucinations working against me.

I would talk with the family’s case manager the mother should not be present when you do services that is against policy.

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I don’t have anything constructive to add beyond this is NOT your fault.

You said you didn’t want to leave the kid but if you can get away with leaving I would try to negotiate with her and outright ask her if it’s about the parade. Lance the boil in other words. DON’T do it unless you know you will be ok unemployed because I have no idea how that would turn out.

In my state, they are only required to reimburse you for any travel from your first location. So if I drive her to a doctors appointment I can get reimbursed, but I can’t be reimbursed for just driving to her house. And the way my company is set up, she is my supervisor. The company just handles the paperwork and the paycheck. Everything else is the mom’s responsibility. It’s weird.

I am going to ask my lawyer what options I have with quitting. I don’t think there is a way to resolve things to get back to a positive relationship with the family. But I don’t think I can quit without losing my worker’s comp check.

So I guess you’re ignoring what i had to say?

I’m not ignoring. It’s just that I don’t have a supervisor other than the mom. I called the agency and they said if I have a problem I can either deal with it myself or find a new client.

I had friend who worked as CNA driving 5 counties between her 3-4 charges…She had to drive a car with holes rusted in bottom and eventually it blew up. The money she earned would only pay for a house yourself and take the bus, no car lifestyle…Eventually, she had to quit this work as she was not reimbursed enough for mileage to even keep a car. She had to accept another kind of job locally and walk to work. She remained poor in the work available within walking distance. Different poor males latched on to use the lady as she could not support herself, causing unplanned pregnancies she could not keep and eventually one baby she got to spend a little time with before they went homeless and her in-laws seized the baby and took custody. She never got to see her baby again.

A lot of employers do not treat people right any longer. So many jobs are short-term and some employees screwed out of there regularly, you have to defend yourself quietly or you will be ruined.

I would look for a CNA job with person who keeps regular hours for his/her staff, offer a little of your time off to the old client until it is just too troublesome to bother and tell you cannot meet her needs any longer. You might be able to get a live-in CNA job, even informal one with vehicle provided and come out farther ahead. At least you could pay your bills with a stable manager. No one will look out for you but you.

Is it private pay, or through a waiver?

I think there is a lot of suspected abuse in care givers that cause these mothers
to overblow a situation, and it may not be coming out to her or anyone that you
are gay, but schizophrenia carries with quite a stigma.

It’s unfortunate that she is screaming at you, and probably in front of her child,
and I do think that case management who sets up the goals, and the budget
should be contacted.

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I suggest before quitting, sitting down with her over coffee while the kids are in a different room and having a frank, rational discussion with her. Bring talking points if you need to. If she raises her voice tell her not to speak to you in that manner, you are not her child. You may be able to work this out.

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you sound like a nice person…if the abuse continues, quit.

Thanks guys. I will talk to management again and try sitting down with her and talking. But I will also keep applying to new jobs.

I have been practicing what I am going to say. How about this:

For the past two months, I have been picking up on a lot of hostility from you. I want to know why, and if there is something I can do to fix it, because I can’t keep coming to work under these conditions. Can we repair this, or do I need to put in my two week’s notice?

Too on the nose? I am trying not to sound accusatory, even though what I really want to say is:

Listen, you can’t treat me like dirt every day and expect me to keep showing up. Can you get over whatever your problem is, and treat me like a person, or are you going to push away yet another qualified, capable aide who could have helped your daughter?

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I think it will work, maybe not the “or do I need to…” part.

I want to make it clear that I am about five seconds from quitting. What do you think would get the message across better?

Maybe, and only maybe, make it seem like you have other work options with better conditions (then you will find out if she needs you or not) and somehow make it clear that you are close to quitting. I just thought the part that I quoted might sound hostile in a way.

Do you know if she’s going through anything serious… a death, divorce etc?

Okay. What would be a better way of saying I am close to quitting.

Can we fix this? I can’t keep working under these conditions.

How is that?

Yeah that’s a lot better

Okay. Really, I don’t get what her fracking problem is. I literally spent three months coming as an unpaid volunteer when I was out on disability, just so her daughter would have some consistency in her life. I could have just stayed at home in bed, but I was looking out for her best interests. And now I am treated like a human garbage pile that rolled into her house to waste her time.