fast answer Friday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

by Ask a Manager on May 10, 2013

Share on Facebook3Tweet about this on Twitter13Share on LinkedIn0Share on Google+0Share on TumblrDigg thisShare on StumbleUpon0Print this page

It’s fast answer Friday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. I accepted an interview while I was asleep

I got a phone call for an interview from a company at 10 a.m. But I was still sleeping at the time, due to coming home at 4 a.m. the same day from the lab. I have a habit of saying yes and agreeing to everything when I am asleep, so I agreed to go on an interview with the company without remembering which company it was and its address, which I’m sure the person on the phone did give me. I want to call them back and ask for that information, but I don’t know how. What should I tell them so that they won’t be turned off in this situation?

First, Google the phone number. That might tell you what company it is. Or, try calling it after hours; you might get a voicemail with the company name in it. If neither of those work, call the number and explain that you want to confirm the address for your interview (no need to say you don’t recall it or the company). Once you have the address, Google that — you’ll probably find the company associated with it. Worst case scenario, have a friend call the number from a phone that isn’t yours and ask what company they’ve reached. And stop answering your phone when you’re asleep — if you say yes to everything when sleeping, it’s going to cause much bigger problems than this someday.

2. Should employee evaluations be written in the first person?

Is it better for employee reviews to be written in a first person or third person narrative? I personally thought first person would be better, as it would make achievements more personal and create a little more ownership for issues than hearing them as if they are spoken about a third party. All the research I did displayed both sides, stating why their way was the best. What do you prefer to use when performing employee reviews?

First person. You’re a real person writing about a real person; there’s no need for false formality. And really, an evaluation is the start of a conversation between a manager and employee. Write it that way.

3. Job offer isn’t clear about what hours I’d work

I have recieved a job offer. I will be going from a floor nurse to a lower management level-clinical coordinator. The hours on paper say 7 a.m. -3 p.m., but as mentioned in the original interview, those are the hours on paper but in management that can be different (longer). I have a child in day care who cannot be dropped off any earlier then 7:30/8 a.m. My husband is out of town a lot and therefore it’s my responsibility to drop her off 80% of the time. I did ask if it would be a issue if I needed to arrive later then 7 a.m., and was told that it would not be an issue but most clinical coordinators come it at about 7. So I didn’t really receive an answer but I didn’t really ask if it would be possible to change my hours. So now I am stuck. Do I take the offer in hopes that I will be able to change the hours or be up-front and ask right out? Would it be a problem to make my work hours 8 a.m. -4 p.m. due to child care? Is this appropriate or should I not take the position due to the hours mentioned in the initial interview?

You’re not stuck; you can go back and ask. You should absolutely not take a job offer without knowing if you’ll be able to work the hours you need to work, but you also don’t need to turn it down without being sure about that. Go back and say, “I’d love to accept the job, but I often need to arrive at X because I need to drop my child at daycare. Would it be possible to arrange for an 8-4 schedule?”

Stop speculating and find out for sure.

4. Firing an employee who threatened another

What is the correct process to fire an employee who threatens to harm another employee?

Explain that you don’t tolerate threats against other employees, and you’re therefore letting the person go, today. If you’re not completely sure that the threat was made, then investigate first.

5. Distributing coworkers’ personal mail

I work at a hotel, and the owners have told us that no personal mail is to be sent to the office. FedEx and UPS packages are fine, but not mail. However, every morning when I go in, there is a stack of personal mail that employees have had sent there. Is it legal for me to deliver this mail, as I am just a worker here? I do not want to be in control of anyone else’s mail, nor do I want to be responsible for it, as I have to walk across a large parking lot and through some neighborhood to get to the other building where it sometimes needs to go. I do not want to be held responsible for any lost or damaged mail! Sometimes it is medications, and I do not want to be responsible for anyone’s medications! As I am not a postal worker, I feel I should not have to deliver mail, and the owners do not want it coming here anyway.

Yes, it’s legal for you to distribute personal mail to employees who have it sent to your office. The bigger question is whether you should, since the owners have clearly said that they don’t want personal mail coming there. I’d talk to them and say, “Hey, I know you’ve said you don’t want personal mail coming to the office, but it does still happen. How would you like me to handle it when it does?” Then do what they tell you to do — including distributing it if that’s what they want. (And if they tell you to just throw it out, it would be a kindness to let the person with the medications know about that in advance.)

6. My company is hyping themselves all over my LinkedIn page

A LinkedIn representative gave a presentation today to the staff of the nonprofit where I work. It turns out that HR wants us to use our LinkedIn accounts to boost the organization and to push along information about available jobs, company-related articles, etc. When I opened my LinkedIn account afterwards, I saw that, indeed, ads for and links to my employer are now on my page.

I feel that my LinkedIn presence should be about me, not my employer. I was already thinking seriously about moving on, but this makes me want to leave faster. Am I being too sensitive or is this kind of employer intrusion common now? Should I remove the name of my employer from my self-description in order to lose the links? If I leave it alone, will the presence of a lot of hype for my current organization deter others from taking me seriously as a possible job candidate?

It’s not uncommon, and it’s not going to deter others from taking you seriously as a job candidate. You’re entitled to find it obnoxious, however, and to relay that feeling to whoever decided to launch this initiative.

7. Former employer refuses to confirm my employment for an unrelated lawsuit

I was in a car accident several years ago and the lawsuit for damages is ongoing. As part of the discovery, the opposing council has contacted ex-employers for a work history. I signed the releases for this, and assumed all would be fine.

After a year, through my legal council, I got a letter from the opposing council asking for our help in retrieving the work history from one of my previous employers. So I contacted the previous employer myself to expedite the situation and help if needed. I assumed the request was put on the back burner or something, but it turns out that the ex-employer is refusing. The president of the company accused me in a text message of tricking him into committing perjury.

What do you think is going on here? I have W2′s for the work I did. It’s not like they paid me under the table. In addition, one of the massage therapists I saw after the accident is refusing as well. This woman owns her own business and is refusing to send the medical records and billing invoice. Is there a connection between these two? Why would either of these businesses do this?

I have no idea, but I’m throwing it out there for anyone who does know.

{ 225 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous May 10, 2013 at 12:37 am

I don’t really understand #6. How does your employer get access to your account to publish information about the company?

Reply

Lindsay J May 10, 2013 at 2:33 am

Yeah I was confused as well. Did OP give the company their LinkedIn password?

I wouldn’t have agreed to this in the first place, but I would definitely remove all the stuff and change my password.

Or (which I’m thinking is more likely)

Did the OP begin following the company on LinkedIn and now company information is showing up in their feed? If this is the case, others looking at the OP’s profile will not see all the stuff – it’s only the OP who is seeing it when they log in and look at their account. If that’s the case it’s not really anything to worry about – other people can’t see it and if seeing it bothers the OP they can just unfollow the company and it won’t be in their feed anymore.

Reply

Sarah May 10, 2013 at 8:15 am

I bet the ads are connected to keywords. So when someone views her page, they see her employer’s ad. I don’t think that the ad are invasive, but I do not agree with them asking to promote the organization through their personal linkedin pages.

Reply

-X- May 10, 2013 at 9:46 am

The key word is “asking.” I don’t see why they can’t ask. Telling is one thing (and bad) but asking is reasonable. Depending on the content of the promotions, it might even reflect well on the OP, but that’s her call clearly.

Asking is not the same as telling. Perhaps the OP’s organization should have made that more clear.

Reply

Sarah May 10, 2013 at 10:08 am

Agreed.

Reply

Shannon! May 10, 2013 at 9:30 am

As someone who works in social media, I think OP 6 isn’t well versed in LinkedIn nor was she given a proper explanation about how ads are utilized or why it would be beneficial to promote the company via your LinkedIn page. LinkedIn encourages employees at a company to present a “unified culture” as now, instead of seeing an unapproachable, unfriendly company, we now have all those smiling faces of thr company’s workforce to feel a connection to. I think Lindsay J has the right idea- OP follows that company and is connected to people within the company. If OP doesn’t have many connections or follows other companies, her LinkedIn feed is going to be all about OP Company.

With ads, you can choose who you market to based on position and demographic. So, OP may be seeing these ads due to his job title (Administrative Assistant, Executive, whatever) being in the ad’s target demographic. LinkedIn is awesome for ads for companies as you’re able to deliver ads to people you want to see them.

That all being said, I don’t think OP should feel obligated to share her company updates from her own personal account, but the company would like her to because of the possibility that it will reach some of her connections who may not know of the company, therefore marketing the company and getting a new type of job applicant or potential business partner.

Reply

Shannon! May 10, 2013 at 9:40 am

Forgot to mention something! As OP #6 works at a nonprofit, asking employees to share company related updates, etc. is also a great way to market the company for free. I know everyone approaches their social media outlets differently, but LinkedIn has developed to be work related (for example, check out Target’s presence on Facebook vs. Twitter vs. LinkedIn- it’s fascinating). So, yes, LinkedIn can be all about the user, but I think more and more people are expecting work/market related things from their connections. I personally don’t find it intrusive but, like I said before, I don’t think the OP should feel pressured to share things if they don’t want to. It’s your LinkedIn account- you share whatever you want. :)

Reply

Lindsay J May 11, 2013 at 5:08 am

I forgot about the ads, too.

Yeah, they’re keyword linked. I get all kinds of irrelevant ones since my careers are not too common (lots of intake professionals for hospitals and admissions counselors for schools when I worked in the admissions department of a theme park) and now I just get tons of ads for online photography schools.

Reply

The Snarky B May 10, 2013 at 9:50 am

I bet she already had her employer listed and they just boosted their own presence, this making turning her keywords into links and such. I doubt they actually got on her page – I think people also react this way when google posts tailored ads – they think someone “got in” when they really didnt.

Reply

Shannon! May 10, 2013 at 9:58 am

Agreed!

Reply

LaSirene May 10, 2013 at 10:49 am

I am OP#6, and what Snarkey said is indeed the case – my organization just crosschecked LinkedIn for refs to our company name and employee names. We were also exhorted to become FB friends of the company and to pass along company info via our Twitter accounts. I do not follow the company on any of my social accounts and did not provide passwords or permissions. Shannon, we were told how this would benefit the organization, not how it might benefit us.

Reply

Ask a Manager May 10, 2013 at 10:55 am

we were told how this would benefit the organization, not how it might benefit us.

That’s because it might not benefit you, but many employers assume that on a professional network that’s about work, you’re not going to object to something like this. That’s not a crazy expectation.

Reply

Lindsay J May 11, 2013 at 5:23 am

That is really annoying. I follow my companies (and those I think I might like to work at in the future) on Linkedin, but if they looked up to see if I followed them and told me I had to I would be annoyed.

And Facebook is my personal space. Again, I follow my company pages (because that does not give them any extra access to my info and I like to see what they have posted) but I have my profile severely locked down and have a complicated policy for who I will and will not friend at work. I don’t usually share work information on there and again would be annoyed if they asked me to do so. If there was a job opening or some information I thought would be beneficial to some of my friends I would share that information specifically and privately with them rather than spamming my whole feed.

I would be annoyed by the whole thing and it might motivate me to search a little harder if I was already searching.

I don’t think the presence of company information in the form of ads etc will hurt your candidacy in other places since I think most places know that the ads appearing in the sides are not up to you, and that sharing company information is something that people either choose to or are expected to do on Linkedin.

Reply

An HR Person May 10, 2013 at 1:55 pm

My company is actually talking to LinkedIn account reps now to see what types of offerings are available to us. It sounds like the OPs company purchased the “Work With Us” feature. It allows the company to control the ad that appears on the OP’s (their employee’s) page. Prior to the company “owning” that space, a random ad would appear based on whatever other companies purchased advertising space with LinkedIn. Now, that advertising space has been purchased by the OP’s employer. The employer controls the ad space, like any other ad space they own.

Short of removing references to the employer from his/her page, there is no way the OP can stop this from happening. LinkedIn is a business that makes money from employers and advertisers, so they are going to be most interested in what the employer/advertiser wants, not the individual user.

Reply

JoAnna May 10, 2013 at 12:38 am

Re: #7 – it’s legal counsel, not council, just FYI.

Is it possible for your lawyer to subpoena those records?

Reply

Kara May 10, 2013 at 1:13 am

It could also be council, depending on how many individuals she is counseling with. :-D

http://www.translegal.com/common-mistakes/council-vs-counsel

Reply

Grace May 10, 2013 at 1:37 am

The attorneys can do a subpoena duces tecum, in which the opposing parties are ordered to appear with the needed records.

Reply

Jessa May 10, 2013 at 8:12 am

Exactly. A lot of companies hear the word lawsuit and think they’re going to get in trouble, and if they didn’t report wage and hour properly, or just tossed out the records, even though they should not have…

That’s what the lawyers are getting paid for. Also depending on what the questions are the answers can be gotten other ways – salary? W2. Could you work? Medical records. Dates of work ? Possibly the IRS or Social Security.

But lawyers do have subpoena power and they need to seriously use it. There are legal penalties for ignoring one. A judge can compel the answers if they’re needed or also decide that the answers are not relevant. Sic your lawyer on this.

The massage therapist is a different issue. Did your insurance pay for it? If not, it’s possible that there are not those kinds of records and the therapist doesn’t even remember you. If it was paid for by a third party however, there’s a requirement about them keeping some form of records in order to bill for it. If there are actual medical records and you are in the US you have an absolute legal right to copies (unless they’re psych records, which have different rules.) There are laws requiring the MT to produce those records for you.

Reply

A Teacher May 10, 2013 at 8:48 am

As a licensed massage therapist, its a medical case, she is required by law to turn those records over. At least in Illinois she would be. As a state licensed athletic trainer I can’t refuse to turn over medical records–especially if required by the court and in fact, must keep a copy of all medical files for a set number of years.

Reply

Jess May 10, 2013 at 9:40 am

Many medical locations have policies that they will only turn over records to the court on a court endorsed subpoena, though they should turn them over to the patient if asked. The law and practice vary from state to state.

As for the other employer, it sounds like he’s just scared about lawyers. You can’t “trick” someone into committing perjury- they just have to tell the truth! Perjury, the easiest charge to avoid.

Reply

Jaime May 10, 2013 at 1:54 pm

“You can’t “trick” someone into committing perjury- they just have to tell the truth! Perjury, the easiest charge to avoid.”

Well … you probably could. If you can’t prove that what you “perjured” was instead some honest/accidental mistake and not an intentional lie then you could be “tricked” into perjury that way. Of course, the person on the side of the equation would have to prove that it wasn’t a mistake or show some kind of history of deception – I assume they would anyway.

Reply

Anon May 10, 2013 at 9:13 am

I thought it was agreed that we would stop correcting people’s grammer in the comment sections?

Reply

The Snarky B May 10, 2013 at 9:56 am

I don’t know if you’re joking by writing grammer instead of grammar, but I think this was one instance where it’s not necessarily a typo but a word that the OP might be using with some frequency and would thus benefit from knowing about it. (I don’t remember at the moment whether that would be a homonym or what.)
I for one appreciate that this is a space where I can say something dumb like “for all intensive purposes” and know that I will be corrected to “for all intents and purposes,” this making me more correct and professional in my future communications. Typos no, things like this, yes please.

(That’s a real example – I didn’t know the right phrase til I was 20)

Reply

fposte May 10, 2013 at 10:09 am

I don’t think that’s any different as far as corrections go, but I also think that you’re never going to be able to stop people from correcting.

Reply

Anonymous May 10, 2013 at 11:04 am

See, I appreciate that this is a space where people are (supposed to be) given the benefit of the doubt.

When commenting or writing a casual correspondence, one might be more likely to accidentally replace one word with a homonym, or use grammatically incorrect syntax etc. People write faster and looser on spaces like this, and if there’s no other reason to assume that someone is making unprofessional mistakes on a regular basis other than one instance of a misspelled/incorrectly used word or phrase on a blog comment section, then I think it should be let go and chalked up to circumstance rather than an ongoing professional failing. Not to mention that the corrector often has a smug sense of self-satisfaction in their correction that I think severely derails conversation FAR more than the error ever did. (Not saying that’s the case with JoAnna – but it’s definitely happened on this site and others).

Reply

Ask a Manager May 10, 2013 at 11:26 am

I agree. I would rather people stop with the spelling and grammar corrections. (And I realize that no matter how many times I say that here, there will still always be commenters who didn’t see that, but for anyone who is seeing this, please consider it officially discouraged.)

Reply

-X- May 10, 2013 at 11:36 am

When a common error is repeated by someone (such as principle vs. principal) I think it’s a service to nicely point out the error – this will improve how the person is perceived in the future.

If you find yourself doing it only for people you disagree with, that’s not good, but it seems to me that offering information in the interest of person not continuing an error is a good thing.

This is not the same as typos – simply writing something wrong randomly. Pointing that out doesn’t actually improve things.

Reply

Ask a Manager May 10, 2013 at 11:39 am

People frequently write the wrong word even when they know how to choose it correctly, simply because they’re typing quickly and not proofreading. We have no way of knowing when our corrections will be useful and when they’ll just be annoying. What I do know, though, is that it creates an environment where people trying to share an opinion on the topic being discussed end up having their writing critiqued, which is distracting, often unhelpful, and can make people less likely to post (particularly if they’re not native speakers or just not great spellers). So I prefer to discourage it.

Reply

-X- May 10, 2013 at 11:47 am

“We have no way of knowing when our corrections will be useful ”

The more often the error is repeated, the more likely it comes from lack of knowledge. Particularly if it’s not an error that is easier to type. (E.g. “to” is easier than “too” and many people make that mistake, despite knowing the difference.)

Ask a Manager May 10, 2013 at 11:50 am

Perhaps so, but my ruling stands :)

Jamie May 10, 2013 at 1:55 pm

People frequently write the wrong word even when they know how to choose it correctly, simply because they’re typing quickly and not proofreading.

I do this all the time. I do it with ‘one’ and ‘won’ and ‘no’ and ‘know’ more frequently than I like to admit – and trust me when I tell you I know the definitions of each of those words. It’s just a question of brain being faster and fingers trying to catch up.

I understand the sentiment to want to helpfully correct, because I bite it back irl myself with everyone except the kids (where it’s my job). But even in cases where it’s a kindness to correct, it’s not nice to do it in public. If someone at work were consistently misusing a word I might be inclined to feign confusion and say I had always thought it meant X…(stole that from Miss Manners) but I would never correct them in a room full of people.

Because Alison doesn’t seem to mind when people point out an obvious typo in one of her posts (not comments – the main posts) I kind of see that as different. Because you know it’s just totally a typo and she’s appreciated it in the past. That’s the kind of thing I think is like spinach in the teeth – a quick word and no big deal. It’s not correcting someone’s knowledge.

Ask a Manager May 10, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Yeah, I appreciate it for my posts, because those are in some way more formal than blog comments and I can and do correct them when someone points out a typo. But I’d never want anyone to feel called out for a typo in a comment. (Which they can’t correct and which don’t need to be polished.)

fposte May 10, 2013 at 1:50 pm

The squelching effect is generally stronger than the informational effect. It’s kind of like the long-winded employee post–what she thinks of as elements that improve her message actually impair communication.

Reply

KayDay May 10, 2013 at 11:47 am

re: grammar and the internet:
http://www.shoeboxblog.com/?p=14066

Reply

Yup May 10, 2013 at 11:59 am

Love this!

Reply

Jaime May 10, 2013 at 1:50 pm

haha, lovely

Reply

Angela May 15, 2013 at 11:23 pm

I found this on a blog last night about language and grammar and I just love it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7E-aoXLZGY

Reply

Kara May 10, 2013 at 12:40 am

#7

I cannot figure why the employer would refuse to confirm employment, but I have speculations regarding the massage therapist. I am a Licensed Massage Therapist in Texas, so I can only attest to what goes on in this state. Not ever state governs massage therapy, so you may want to check with your Department of Health to see if there are any laws regarding the release of records. If she’s just an independent massage therapist, the state may not even count them as “medical records,” though she may be required to release them. One of the first conclusions I draw is that she may not even be taking notes/documenting your sessions properly, or may not be reporting the income properly, which would explain the lack of invoices. By refusing to release the information to you she may be trying to cover herself. Legal? Depends on the state. Ethical? No.

Reply

PEBCAK May 10, 2013 at 1:23 am

#7: I’m assuming the OP is suing for lost wages, and is asking the employer to confirm more than simply dates of employment and/or salary, i.e. the opposing counsel may have asked for some very specific details of the type of work done and possibly even the manager’s opinion on whether the OP’s injuries would prevent him/her from doing that type of work. It is 100% understandable that a former employer doesn’t want to get involved in that sort of thing.

Reply

W.W.A. May 10, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Well the employer doesn’t really have a choice!

Reply

Cube Ninja May 10, 2013 at 1:23 am

Re #5: Pretty sure simply throwing out the mail would tread on some sticky legal ground.

Reply

Kara May 10, 2013 at 1:29 am

Possibly, but there’s tons of mail that gets sent to the wrong address and gets tossed instead of returned. Opening the mail would definitely be illegal, but the owners of the company who didn’t want to receive personal mail there could easily ask the OP to write “Wrong Address” or “Return to Sender” on the mail and not pass it along, since the address technically doesn’t belong to the employees receiving mail there. This would prevent any legal action, although I would do as Alison suggested and notify the person with the medications in advance so they could change their delivery address.

Reply

Kerry May 10, 2013 at 6:22 am

Yeah, I’m not sure about the legalities but I agree tossing it out would be pretty unethical either way! When we get mail for random people at our flat, I just write “Not known at this address” and pop it back in the postbox.

Reply

Jamie May 10, 2013 at 1:58 pm

This. Just today I had to write “no longer at this address – return to sender” for people who moved out 7 years ago.

Just leave it in the mailbox and the mail carrier picks it up on his next round.

Reply

Postmaster's Daughter May 10, 2013 at 8:43 am

Throwing out someone else’s mail is absolutely illegal–a federal offense, in fact–and the OP would bear the ramifications for doing so, even if the employer told him/her to toss it out.

The best solution is to write “Wrong address” or “return to sender” on the envelope, as Kara suggested, and stick it back in the mailbox for the carrier to return. The owners can come up with their own sort of punishments for violating the policy, but simply tossing out the mail isn’t one of them.

Reply

fposte May 10, 2013 at 9:21 am

I’m not sure it is when it’s organizational mail, though–that operates under very different rules.

Reply

Ask a Manager May 10, 2013 at 9:54 am

Yes, once the Postal Service delivers mail to a business, it’s up to the business to decide how to distribute it internally.

Reply

W.W.A. May 10, 2013 at 2:13 pm

But does that imply that the business can choose to do what would otherwise be illegal, which is throw it all out?

Reply

Ask a Manager May 10, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Yes. It’s theirs to deal with how they want.

Reply

Natalie May 10, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Do you know if that applies to something that was plain mis-delivered (i.e. wrong business name, wrong address) or just to mail that has the business’ name on it somewhere?

fposte May 10, 2013 at 3:25 pm

My impression is that if it’s misdelivered, then it doesn’t belong to the organization. What matters is 1) the address and 2) the name of the organization. (Good luck in getting a misdelivered item out of the workstream, though.) Here’s the text:
“All mail addressed to a governmental or nongovernmental organization or to an individual by name or title at the address of the organization is delivered to the organization, as is similarly addressed mail for former officials, employees, contractors, agents, etc. If disagreement arises where any such mail should be delivered, it must be delivered under the order of the organization’s president or equivalent official.”

“Mail addressed to a governmental or nongovernmental official by title or by organization name, but not to the address of the organization, is delivered to the organization if the organization so directs.”

Natalie May 10, 2013 at 8:40 pm

@ fposte, that makes sense. It’s essentially the same rules as individual mail, but they are treating the organization as the individual, not the employees.

Thomas May 10, 2013 at 9:51 am

We’ve been getting mail meant for the former tenant at our apartment since we moved in. Is there some procedure for forcing them to realize he no longer lives here? We keep bringing the offending items down and telling them the guy doesn’t live here, but they keep delivering it.

Reply

Natalie May 10, 2013 at 10:00 am

Is the guy you’ve talked to a postal carrier, or someone from your building that sorts mail?

If you haven’t already, talk to your carrier or your local post office (wherever they send packages they can’t deliver is your local.) I used to live in a big shared house that had a lot of prior tenants. We talked to our carrier and, at her request, made a list of all of the people who lived there and taped it near the door. It actually worked so well that my partner didn’t get mail for 3 weeks until we noticed a new roommate crossed off his name instead of Ex-Roommate’s.

If you’ve already talked to the postal carrier, then you need to start sending things back. Write “RTS Not at this address” on the mail and putting it in the outgoing box. Hopefully the senders will update their records.

Reply

Chinook May 10, 2013 at 10:05 am

“Is there some procedure for forcing them to realize he no longer lives here”

Have you tried crossing out the address, marking it “wrong address” and putting it back in the mail address? If you are feeling passive aggressive, you could even write “deceased” (but never do this to government mail as it can erroneously cause somebody to be labelled as deceased in a governmetn database).

If that isn’t working, I would check at your local post office if there is a form you can fill out and submit with proof of tenancy that that person no longer lives there.

A PSA for anyone who moves – There are forms you can fill out at your local post office and online and that, along with a small fee, will mean that your mail will be automatically forwarded to your new address. This just makes life easier for everyone. Thank you.

Reply

Emily K May 10, 2013 at 10:23 am

Bit of additional info: the form is free if you fill out the paper version at your local post office; the fee is $1.00 if you fill it out online.

Reply

Chinook May 10, 2013 at 11:06 am

I was going with what Canada Post does. Up north here the fee is over $50 but worth every penny because it guarantees you get all your mail, which is hugely important at tax time (I was receving the previous tenants T4s (W5s) this year). They will also ensure that your address is updated for any organization that buys their mailign lists from them.

Reply

the gold digger May 10, 2013 at 11:26 am

I first read “mailign lists” as “malign lists,” which I think should be the proper term.

KayDay May 10, 2013 at 10:36 am

Your supposed to cross out the name and write “does not live here” and “return to sender”.

But….whether or not that helps depends on the mail carrier. I keep getting mail from tenants who lived in my apartment many years ago, and never once has the mail carrier picked up the “return to sender mail.” It’s mostly almost-junk-mail (e.g. newsletters from their alma matter, a calendar from a charity) so I just throw that out.

However, when I lived in a managed apartment building, they would not deliver any mail that did not have the tenants name on it at all.

Reply

Kimberlee, Esq. May 10, 2013 at 1:17 pm

My understanding is if it’s junk mail/non first-class mail, then USPS will just throw it away anyhow… there are several classes of mail where getting bad addresses returned to you after you mail it is not part of the service. That’s probably why they leave it; the carriers who take it will just toss it when they arrive back at the office anyway.

Reply

Cube Ninja May 10, 2013 at 7:30 pm

I actually looked this up (USPS – other countries will obviously be different) – “return to sender” doesn’t cut it, neither does “no longer resides here”.

Write “REFUSED” on the letter and drop it back in the mail. Probably will stop at least mail from that sender.

Reply

BeenThere May 10, 2013 at 11:35 pm

Thank you!

I have been getting tonnes of email from previous tenants of my apartment. No matter what I write on them.

Reply

Chinook May 10, 2013 at 9:59 am

I agree. I think I would just take the time to put a line through address and mark it “return to sender.” That is what I do when I get mail for previous tenants (even junk mail in hopes that they take me off their mailing list).

Reply

danr May 10, 2013 at 10:48 am

With automated processing, be sure to block out the barcodes with a black permanent marker. Otherwise the mail will just come back to you. If you have a printer, buy some laser/inkjet address labels and make a ‘return to sender’ label to put over the address. These two actions will guarantee that you’ll never see that particular piece of mail again.
Of course, if the item is a bill, it will go to a collection agency at your address, then they’ll find your phone number and call…

Reply

Jazzy Red May 10, 2013 at 10:55 am

At my company, all changes in policies are distributed to all employees. This is what the employer should be doing, in this case. When the OP reports that personal mail is still being delivered to work, the employer should make sure everyone knows this policy is going to be enforced.

OP, if the employer tells you to toss the stuff, ask if you can email all the employees telling them about this change. If the employer says no, you could (up to you here) inform those who have been getting their meds mailed that they MUST have them sent somewhere else. This would be nicer on your part than just throwing prescription drugs into the trash.

Reply

Jamie May 10, 2013 at 2:04 pm

I understand packages if the workplace is okay with it…although I do think people should minimize the inconvenience to the mail room staff as much as possible, but I don’t get when people have real mail sent to work.

At a former workplace people would get credit card bills, utility bills, all kinds of official mail (as well as junk catalogs) delivered to work. I know one woman had the credit cards done so her husband wouldn’t open them at home – but I don’t get why anyone thinks this is a good idea. Especially utility bills. If you have bills for water, gas, and electric it’s assumed you have a home with an address. Why route them to work. And these were not people who traveled a lot or worked crazy hours – just regular 9-5ers.

Reply

Jaime May 10, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Exactly. And I’m puzzled about why you’re handing it out anyway. At the very most, I would send an email that mail arrives at X place by X time/date – pick it up if you want it, otherwise it’s going in the trash by X time/date.

Reply

Verde May 10, 2013 at 1:47 am

#2 – I always tell our managers to use third person, as they are leaving a record not just for themselves and the employee, but also the managers that may follow. Which is also what I use to encourage them to be specific and use examples – they may not always be the manager of this person, therefore you need to leave things in perspective.

Reply

Spreadsheet Monkey May 10, 2013 at 5:01 am

I get the feeling that you are confusing 3rd party with 2nd party. Third party would be: “I have great confidence in Spreadsheet Monkey’s ability to take on XX tasks.” Second party would be: “Management has great confidence in your ability to take on XX tasks.” Both second and third parties would be: “Management has great confidence in Spreadsheet Monkey’s ability to take on XX tasks.”

I would think that you would want third party; it speaks to your personal opinions about me (Spreadsheet Monkey).

Reply

Cara May 10, 2013 at 9:22 am

That makes no sense.

Verde is correct about what third person (not “party”) means, you are the one who is confused.

Reply

fposte May 10, 2013 at 9:25 am

Actually, “I have great confidence” is first person. “Management has great confidence” is third person. The categorization is based on the subject, not the object, so “I have great confidence in him” and “I have great confidence in you” are both first person. Second person is “You have improved immensely this year, and your teapottery is now international standard.”

Reply

Judy May 10, 2013 at 9:38 am

I would even say that third person in reviews is how mine have generally been written. “Judy has excelled in growing in her role of the chocolate teapot spout design. She took courses in polishing this year. She also was a member of the social committee and was instrumental in implementing the mandatory costumed trust fall potluck lunches.”

I don’t think that any of mine have ever been written in first person.

Reply

Chinook May 10, 2013 at 10:12 am

Oohh, oohh, oohh…a grammar debate. I had to google it but fposte is exactly right according to wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second-person_narrative).

I think that, for reviews, it may feel a little wimpy to sue 2nd person because it is not assigning responsibility for the opinion. In my mind, there is a huge difference between “I” (the manager writing the review) and “management” holding an opinion about my work. “I” makes it sound personal and “management” makes it sound like a stamp of approval from TPTB.

I can’t beleive my linguistics professor never mentioned 2nd person and I think I am grateful it was never on a test. Next can we debate the necessary use of the comma and the benefits of the Oxford comma?

Reply

AH May 10, 2013 at 10:54 am

+1 Oxford comma!

Reply

iseeshiny May 10, 2013 at 11:20 am

Noooooooo! I despise the Oxford comma! Let’s have a comma fight.

Reply

Chinook May 10, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Fair warning – I see myself getting out my teacher’s hat at the next open thread to start the Oxford comma discussion. Pandas will be involved but will not be harmed.

Reply

Jamie May 10, 2013 at 2:09 pm

I had this argument at work with a former teacher. Not an argument as much as a polite debate in which they didn’t approve of the use of (what we call) the serial comma and I refused to cave.

I am always on the side of pandas.

Reply

iseeshiny May 10, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Oh, I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be there with my defense of a panda’s second amendment rights under the US constitution and some puns about making this a black and white issue.

Reply

Oxford Comma May 10, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Hey! I’ll have you know that I rock :)

Reply

Anne_A May 16, 2013 at 11:14 pm

sign me up for Team Oxford Comma.

Reply

Christine May 10, 2013 at 9:37 am

Wouldn’t it be “1st party”, not “3rd party”? Unless *I’m* the one who’s confused…I’ve always referred to it as first and third person, respectively.

Reply

Ask a Manager May 10, 2013 at 10:15 am

First person = “I think…”
Second person = “You think…”
Third person = “Alison thinks…”

Reviews should be written using first and second: “I’ve been really pleased with how you’ve handled X.”

You don’t write in third person because third would be unnecessarily formal, wouldn’t reflect what’s really being intended (the manager is talking about her own assessment, but not some great overlord’s), and makes it too easy for the manager to not fully take responsibility for her own assessment.

Reply

Heather May 10, 2013 at 11:55 am

“makes it too easy for the manager to not fully take responsibility for her own assessment”

Well, that explains why my manager always does my reviews in the third person ;)

Reply

Emily May 11, 2013 at 11:55 am

My manager has us write our own reviews and reminds us to write in the third person. “Emily is, Emily does, Emily will . . . “

Reply

Ask a Manager May 11, 2013 at 1:57 pm

You should ask her why; I’d love to hear the explanation. It’s absurd!

Reply

Melissa May 27, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Wouldn’t it depend on the workplace though? My former job liked us to write our evaluations in third person because they are mainly used for employee placement. I supervised college resident assistants and they sometimes switched residence areas from year to year.

Reply

Anonymous May 10, 2013 at 2:13 am

#5 Do NOT throw it away. Mark it “return to sender”, or “not at this address” and let the postal service deal with the details. That’s what you pay taxes for.

Throwing away someone else’s US mail is a federal offense. Sure, the odds are low that you’ll get charged, but there’s no real reason to do that when you can just drop it back in the mail.

You can throw away junk mail – specifically, mail that says “or current resident.” Virtually all junk mail has this on it.

The packages from, say, FedEx are more of a grey area. But there are complicated laws about US mail. Remember that mail service is one of very few services that is actually enshrined in the constitution, so it’s wrapped in a lot more legal issues than you’d normally expect.

Reply

Bryan May 10, 2013 at 3:01 am

The USPS budget comes entirely from earned revenue, not taxes. Congress just controls how it operates.

Reply

Legal Eagle May 10, 2013 at 8:46 am

How is that possible? The USPS has been operating at a loss for years.

Reply

Xay May 10, 2013 at 9:09 am

The USPS is operating at a loss because Congress passed a law requiring the USPS to pre-fund its pensions for the next 50 years and because the USPS has to seek Congressional approval if it wants to make any significant changes to its operations and pricing.

Reply

Postmaster's Daughter May 10, 2013 at 9:22 am

It’s complicated, but this article is the best I’ve seen that takes a stab at explaining the mess that various levels of Congress have put the USPS in.

http://redtape.nbcnews.com/_news/2011/10/07/8191425-twisted-government-accounting-behind-postal-service-woes

Reply

Natalie May 10, 2013 at 9:37 am

Sorry to keep piling on, but also – the pre-funding law was passed in 2006. Prior to that, the USPS actually turned a small profit. Mail volume has declined since 2006 but apparently even today they would be in the black if they didn’t have to make the $5.5 billion annual pre-funding payment.

Reply

Jessa May 10, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Prior to the mess congress put the USPS in, they were required by law to render a profit, they HAD to be self-funding, and were (they do not get a federal budget line.) The profit was small, but it kept them running until they were suddenly stuck making payments NO other business in the world has to make. And this was likely done by congress on purpose because the other shipping companies were losing money and they have good lobbyists .

Reply

Natalie May 10, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Right, I should have clarified that they would be in the black today with no service changes or postage hikes – i.e, if you take that huge payment out right now they’re in the black.

It’s extra cruel, IMO, that USPS has to run any cost-saving measures by the same Congress that has put them in a position of requiring cost-savings measures. Take the recent Congressional decision to not allow them to cut Saturday delivery (even though I personally love Saturday delivery b/c of Neflix).

Reply

Postmaster's Daughter May 10, 2013 at 9:09 am

+1. I wish more people were aware of this.

Reply

Jessica (the celt) May 12, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Me, too. I wasn’t aware of this until my uncle started working for USPS many years ago. I dug into it at that point, but this was even before the pre-funding debacle that is ongoing (and makes things much worse).

Reply

Heather May 10, 2013 at 10:12 am

+1

Reply

fposte May 10, 2013 at 9:18 am

The sticky part here is that this is an organization, not a residence, and it’s therefore governed under different regulations. There is no obligation to deliver to the individual named within an organization–the post office just has to get it to the organization. While this may be considered personal mail by the recipients, I suspect that by getting it delivered to the organization they’ve made it organizational mail and lost those individual protections, and that the organization can in fact dispose of it if it so chooses.

Scroll down to 1.5 here: http://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/508.htm

Reply

Ask a Manager May 10, 2013 at 9:59 am

Exactly.

Reply

Joey May 10, 2013 at 9:33 am

I heard from my mail carrier this was a misconception. For example, how are you supposed to open business related mail when its addresses to a former employee and when there’s no title or department beneath the name?

My mail carrier said its only illegal to take mail before its been delivered by USPS with the intention of preventing it from being delivered. But if its been delivered to you there’s no law preventing you from opening it. Of course it would be illegal to use the info inside to do illegal things.

Reply

Natalie May 10, 2013 at 9:42 am

I think business have specific rules, but it is actually a crime to take someone else’s mail:

“Whoever takes any letter, postal card, or package out of any post office or any authorized depository for mail matter, or from any letter or mail carrier, or which has been in any post office or authorized depository, or in the custody of any letter or mail carrier, before it has been delivered to the person to whom it was directed, with design to obstruct the correspondence, or to pry into the business or secrets of another, or opens, secretes, embezzles, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.” (18 USC 1702)

Reply

fposte May 10, 2013 at 9:49 am

It’s a crime to do it for those specific malicious purposes–that’s not the same thing as a crime to do it, period.

I’ve got a post waiting in moderation with a link to the USPS site that explains organizations are basically free to do what they want with organizational mail–it’s an entirely different regulation. That’s one reason why you really don’t want to send personal mail to the office if you’re not confident they’re willing to handle it–they don’t have to make sure it gets to you.

Reply

Natalie May 10, 2013 at 10:08 am

The failure of the USC to use semi-colons is frustrating, but I think there are three clauses here:
(1) with design to obstruct the correspondence, (2) or to pry into the business or secrets of another, (3) or opens, secretes, embezzles, or destroys the same

Reply

fposte May 10, 2013 at 10:14 am

Oh, you’re right, I think I missed the “or”–that makes quite a difference. So you’re right about the crime in opening, but it doesn’t matter once it gets to the organization, since that and not the person is the destination for organizational mail.

Reply

W.W.A. May 10, 2013 at 2:17 pm

But we aren’t talking about organizational mail, we’re talking about personal mail they are having delivered to the organization. I’m not sure if there’s a legal difference. But when you address something to “Alison Green, XYZ hotel, New York NY” the recipient is Alison, not the hotel itself. Right?

Reply

Ask a Manager May 10, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Nope. USPS regs say it’s the org’s to do what they want with. That’s why an employer can open mail addressed to an employee too.

fposte May 10, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Yeah, it’s an either/or. You can’t get stuff individually forwarded, either, which was a pain for us when our unit (which gets a ton of mail) moved its postal location but we couldn’t set up forwarding because the technically the recipient was the university.

Anonymous May 10, 2013 at 9:54 am

A careful reading of the cited language doesn’t seem to indicate any issues with the business choosing to throw away mail that has already been delivered (no longer in a post office, depository, etc.).

Reply

Natalie May 10, 2013 at 10:02 am

Yes, I was responding to the specific claim that it was only illegal to take mail before it had been delivered.

Reply

Anonymous May 10, 2013 at 10:06 am

It does have to be taken from one of the designated places, though, none of which describe the situation after delivery to the business.

Reply

Joey May 10, 2013 at 9:57 am

Isn’t that what we’re talking about though, mail delivered to a business?

Reply

Ask a Manager May 10, 2013 at 10:01 am

You can’t stop it from being delivered to the address on the envelope (the business). Once it arrives at the business, the business can handle it however it wants.

Reply

some1 May 10, 2013 at 9:48 am

Agreed. I am an admin and because of the nature of my dept every piece of mail gets opened in case there is a payment inside. The only exceptions are obviously personal items (a box marked Amazon, etc). But if your grandma sent you a birthday card, it’s getting opened unless the envelope is marked personal.

As a long-time admin, I don’t recommend using your employer’s address for your personal business (personal banking, credit cards, etc.) unless you open your own mail or you have a PA.

Reply

Elizabeth West May 10, 2013 at 11:58 am

Came here to say this. Every place I’ve ever worked where I handled the mail, I had to open EVERYTHING unless it was marked “Confidential.” Most of those places that allowed personal packages to be delivered didn’t require it; but they did make it clear that if there was any concern/question about the contents, we would be opening it. I usually did not open anything that looked personal. It was easy to tell by looking at the return address if it was from a customer (official business) or something the employee had ordered.

I could never open packages without thinking of the Unabomber, though. Rawr.

Reply

jesicka309 May 10, 2013 at 3:27 am

Ugh number 5. At our office, EVERYONE has their online shopping sent to the office. Which is good, you know, for once off purchases, I get my uni books delivered 4 times a year. The boss’s pa does the mail room, so she check the mail twice a day.
The problem is that some people in the office are getting stuff delivered almost every day. I feel bad for this poor woman who is traipsing up and down the building with their packages of clothes, shoes, knick knack and all kinds of crap. Once she had to bring up a box full of sand that leaked all through the mail room and the hallways of the building! This woman is new, so she’s not really in a position to try to change the culture, and she doesn’t look happy about it either.
I feel like it’s ridiculously rude to get your personal mail sent to the office, and if you’ve ordered a package, you go down and check the mail room yourself. When I’m expecting a package, I get it myself, as my books are heavy! Don’t make some poor PA who is just trying to send outgoing mail bring up your packages every day. Go get your box of crap yourself!
Disclaimer: I hate my coworkers, and this is one fo the reasons why. Selfish gits.

Reply

Spreadsheet Monkey May 10, 2013 at 5:06 am

I worked for a large international corporation around the time that the internet was grabbing hold. It was expected that we would use our work address for everything. That being said, I now have everything delivered to my home, but ask my sister, who isn’t home a lot and lives in an apartment, what she prefers. If it’s small enough to fit in her mailbox, it goes to her home address; if it’s big enough that she will have to go to the post office for it (and miss work because of the time), it goes to her work address.

Reply

ThatGirl May 10, 2013 at 10:38 am

Seriously suggest to your sister that she get a P.O. box for her purchases instead of sending them to her job. She is setting herself up for some major embarrassment.

Companies sell their client lists to similar companies all of the time. It’s a really short hop from ordering that must-die-for-bra from Victoria’s Secret to getting sexy lingerie/clothes (or soft core p0rn as I like to call it) catalogs in the mail.

Trust me, she does not want that showing up in her mailbox at work.

Reply

fposte May 10, 2013 at 11:26 am

Eh, people get stuff delivered to work all the time (I did it for years for the reasons stated in the thread), and this kind of thing is pretty minimal (and the people who handle it see that stuff all the time anyway). If you’re easily embarrassed, it’s probably a bad idea to get work delivered to your workplace anyway, because there will be occasions where it gets opened.

Reply

Lindsay J May 11, 2013 at 7:10 am

Many places do not deliver to PO boxes, and if the packages are too large for the box she will still have the same problem of having to miss work to go retrieve it.

She could get a box at a UPS store, which functions more like a regular address rather than a PO box. However, I don’t know if all of those allow access after hours (I know some do), and there are issues with forwarding mail from them if you ever move.

Reply

TychaBrahe May 10, 2013 at 6:59 am

Why not suggest a change? Print up a bunch of notices that say, “You have mail,” and deliver those to the recipients, who are charged with picking up their mail from the mailroom.

Reply

Judy May 10, 2013 at 8:27 am

Even for work related packages, we just get an email from the loading dock. It’s our job to get them, or arrange for the guy with the forklift to get them, or whatever.

Anything that would fit in our mail slots goes there (up to about 10x12x1) but anything any larger you just get an email with a location of your delivery. (They’ve got shelves and floor areas marked with numbers. “You have a package on shelf 6 on the loading dock.”)

Reply

Natalie May 10, 2013 at 9:47 am

The mailroom at my college worked like this. The mailboxes were really tiny, essentially only big enough for a standard sized letter. (They were probably original to the circa-1850 building.) If we got any packages, or even Netflix envelopes, they put a little pink slip in our mailbox and we had to come around to the mailroom to get it. Worked great, except when I was expecting movies and forgot to check my mail during mailroom operating hours.

Reply

Elizabeth West May 10, 2013 at 12:52 pm

That sounds perfect.

Reply

tcookson May 10, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Our admin just sets anything too big to fit into the mailboxes on the table beside the mailbox, and it is each individual’s responsibility to check the table to see if any of the packages are for them. Nobody minds, and the admin isn’t having to do any extra catering to people who have packages delivered.

Reply

Legal Eagle May 10, 2013 at 8:48 am

Yes, this is the way to handle packages. The mail room worker does not need to be dragging boxes all over the business!

Reply

Diane May 10, 2013 at 1:05 pm

I came here to say this. Email or notify people that they have mail/packages and must come to the mail room for their items.

Reply

Jamie May 10, 2013 at 2:16 pm

I think this is great for personal items. Our receiving department delivers the packages that come in and since mine are all work related that’s fine…the dock is in the same building but about 2 blocks away from my office (huge factory) and I am not going to try to figure out how to lug my cumbersome heavy work related crap to my office.

But if I were to expect a personal package I’d tell them to email me and I’d run back. I hate that at Christmas time that department makes so many more trips and has to work so much harder because of personal stuff being delivered.

Taking delivery is a nice perk – but it’s important to be aware of any extra work for others and mitigate that.

Reply

Cat May 10, 2013 at 8:29 am

If my office doesn’t want me to have my packages sent to the office, they’re going to have to deal with me arriving at work late enough, or leaving work early enough, to go pick up those packages at the post office that they get sent to (and which is only open 9a-5pm). Given my billing rate, they are much better having me in the office for that extra time and staffing the mail room well enough that it’s not a hardship for packages to be dropped off for people who need them, or at least for people to be notified they have packages in the mail room waiting for them. And it’s not an unreasonable calculus for them to make.

(Oh, I guess they could also consider paying me enough to afford a fancy doorman building or something, but that would also be far more expensive on a per employee basis than just staffing the mail room decently).

Reply

The IT Manager May 10, 2013 at 8:54 am

It seems to me that you have an horrible, entitled attitude about this. Personal mail is a personal issue for an employee to deal with. You company doesn’t have to offer a means for you to collect your mail. Frankly the very limited hours of the Post Office you mention or the fact that you have to collect oversized packages in person sounds like your real issue. (The Post Office is doing the best they can I am sure with plummetting revenue.)

I have never had mail delivered at work so I have a different bias, but this strange entitled attitude might explain why the fact that employees should not get mail delivered to work was harped on at a previous organization. Maybe people thought it was an acceptable thing to do.

Reply

Cat May 10, 2013 at 9:15 am

I don’t think I have an entitled attitude. They’d be perfectly within their rights to say we couldn’t have packages sent to the office and I wouldn’t do it. I then would also sometimes have to work less than my more-than-full-time hours to pick up packages which would be a loss of a few hundred bucks in revenue each time. They’ve chosen to staff the mail room well enough (3 people at a firm of about 50 other employees) that dealing with some personal packages aren’t a hardship. I’ve also talked to them about just calling or emialing me instead of dropping them off when they’re swamped hich has happened once I think. I don’t think any of tht makes me selfish or entitled; I think it’s a reasonable business calculus for my firm to have made.

Reply

Karyn May 10, 2013 at 9:27 am

Or you could just get a PO Box. At least four of my post office locations around my house have self-service until 8 or 9pm in the lobby, including being able to get your own mail out of your box… takes care of having to pick packages up during business hours.

Reply

Cat May 10, 2013 at 9:34 am

I could, but when it’s explicitly allowed at my office and we staff with that in mind, why? Is it really so awful for companies to offer a perk and employees to take advantage of it? Should I also refuse to use our on-site gym since someone has to clean it?*

* That’s just an example; I don’t use it because working out with your co-workers = super awkward.

Reply

some1 May 10, 2013 at 10:10 am

FedEx, UPS and other couriers won’t deliver to PO boxes, though, so that won’t help if Cat gets packages from them.

Reply

Henry May 11, 2013 at 7:51 am

Yes they will. They just need a contact phone number.

Reply

-X- May 10, 2013 at 10:29 am

Or rent a second apartment with a doorman. Or hire someone to stay home and wait for your deliveries. Or have your butler do it.

Sheesh Cat, you are so entitled!!!!! Ask your frickin’ butler instead of foisting the work off on someone at your office!!!

Reply

Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham May 10, 2013 at 10:47 am

I do not understand why you are having such difficulties with your packages. I frequently receive packages and letters while I am out calling or in the country, or simply sitting out in the garden.

The postman delivers the package to the butler, who then gives the package to the housekeeper, who gives it to my ladies’ maid, who ensures that I receive it. I thought that was what everyone did.

Reply

Natalie May 10, 2013 at 11:14 am

Almost spot on, although I can’t image the Dowager Countess being so gauche as to order something through the mail.

Jamie May 10, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I love you for this post. That is all.

Jessa May 10, 2013 at 12:13 pm

And if you do have to have prescriptions delivered that will NOT be delivered to PO boxes and which if you do not sign they will be returned to sender? What are you supposed to do? Stay home every day until they come and pray you don’t lose your job? It’s the employer’s fault that they force people to use mail order pharmacies which have strict rules about shipping medications. They should buck up and deal with a problem THEY caused. If there is no one in the house what are you supposed to do? Lose your job and insurance because the company stuck you with this requirement? Have to call out ill because you do not have your lifesaving medications again because the COMPANY requires you to do mail order?

Reply

Elizabeth West May 10, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Well, packages don’t fit in PO boxes. They leave a slip and you have to get it from the counter, which is only open during business hours. Catch-22.

Reply

Lindsay J May 11, 2013 at 7:13 am

What if the package is too big for your box? Also, some places will not deliver to PO boxes.

Reply

The IT Manager May 10, 2013 at 10:43 am

I don’t want to be arguementative, but the way you wrote your post sounded really entitled to me. If they don’t want me to … they’re going to have to … Like it’s some right you demand. It sounded entitled to me. And you never said it was an explicet perk in your office in your original post. So maybe you’re not, but your post sounded that way. The building with a doorman paragraph was pretty snarky.

Point: What you say can be honestly misinterpretted especially in written form without body language.

Reply

The IT Manager May 10, 2013 at 10:47 am

Also I’ve never lived in NYC so I didn’t realize it was such a thing there. Maybe this is an entitlement with any decent job in NYC.

Reply

-X- May 10, 2013 at 10:56 am

It’s not an “entitlement” – it’s a perk. A common perk. A nice thing that costs the company little but makes a big difference in the lives of staff – a net gain.

Reply

Ask a Manager May 10, 2013 at 10:57 am

Exactly. And many companies do it — it’s very little cost to them, and a big benefit to many employees. I’d be really irked if I worked somewhere that didn’t allow it; it’s always been a non-issue at my offices.

Kimberlee, Esq. May 10, 2013 at 1:44 pm

The only place I know of that doesn’t allow personal mail or packages coming to employees is from a friend of mine that works at Planned Parenthood… and that’s cause, you know, people mail them bombs sometimes. If your company has additional steps to go through that make mail collection a pain in general, it makes sense to limit mail to the degree possible.

Natalie May 10, 2013 at 8:43 pm

@ Kimberlee, even that must depend on the PP. A friend used to work there and got packages delivered to work all the time. She was an office worker, but the office did share a building with clinic space.

Windchime May 10, 2013 at 9:17 pm

My company recently sent out a notice saying that it’s no longer allowed for us to have personal packages sent to work. I’m fortunate that packages are pretty safe on my porch (there is a good place to tuck them away), so mostly they come here. I did have a package containing jewelry delivered to work last year, but now I can’t do that so I’ll have to figure something else out.

Cat May 10, 2013 at 10:55 am

Well, to be honest, to a certain extent, I do look at it as a trade-off. My job expects me to sacrifice a certain amount of my personal time. I’m willing to do that to a point, but there’s a point past where I’m not. And one pretty easy way they can increase the time I (and other workers) can/am willing to give them is to allow packages to be sent to the office. It’s hugely inconvenient for me to have to get them elsewhere; it’s pretty cheap and not particularly inconvenient for the office to set things up to receive personal deliveries. If I wasn’t allowed to send them here, I wouldn’t do it; but it would absolutely mean that the one time a month (more or less) that I receive a package, I’d probably be working an hour less on that day to go pick it up.

Of course, my employer also has the right to insist I work the same number of hours regardless and they could do that. This particular issue wouldn’t be a deal breaker but in the aggregate that kind of thing is a deal-breaker and I’d look for a new job that either didn’t demand so much time or that was willing to not make it so horribly inconvenient for me to put in the hours they want me to put in.

So I see what you mean about the snarkiness, but I guess I’m kind of going to defend it. At a certain point, there’s only so much it’s reasonable for our employers to expect of us; they get to make the call what they’re going to ask vs. provide, but if they tip the balance too far in one direction, it’s going to cause serious retention issues, and rightly so.

Reply

Jamie May 10, 2013 at 2:29 pm

I do too – and fwiw I didn’t think this was coming off as entitled as much as just matter of fact.

Like I could say sure a company is totally within it’s rights to limit all email/internet for work related purposes only. And I do believe that – but if they did and I couldn’t even give my email to my kid’s school or schedule a doctor appointment on line (or hit AAM) then I need all my time off hours for that…iow because work bleeds into my personal life sometimes my personal life will bleed into work and in the end the company by far gets the better part of that deal.

In a way the packages/internet thing is a good analogy. I don’t care if people hit normal sites and whatnot during the work day – but the second you jeopardize the network (creating more work for me) or going places which let me know WAY too much about you if I see them…then do that crap at home. So you order shoes, have them sent to work. You order things you don’t want your co-workers to know about? Pick it up at the post office.

Reply

Audrey Rose May 10, 2013 at 11:47 am

I agree with Cat. These are reasonable accommodations in today’s workplace. These days most people don’t have a spouse at home to deal with the necessary business of everyone’s life. In a lot of ways, companies are still stuck in that 1950s mentality, which just isn’t true anymore. In Cat’s case, it’s a positive benefit to the company – the more she bills, the more money she makes for them.

I disagree that hers is an entitled attitude; she earns that accommodation by working more than full time hours.

Reply

KayDay May 10, 2013 at 10:42 am

I don’t think it’s entitled. Yes, it’s a personal issue, but one that many, many people face. Obviously, there are some cases where the employer just cannot handle employees personal mail and they would prefer to have an employee stay home to accept a package. But at other employers, it’s far less of a hassle just to let the employees get their stuff at work.

BTW, for this comment I am referring to either very important mail (such as a car title, ss card, or large check) or a package that one doesn’t want stolen. I am not referring to all the mail someone gets. Someone using their office as their go-to mailing address for everything would be unreasonable.

Reply

Jessa May 10, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Unless they made arrangements with their boss, for instance someone getting out of an abusive relationship might send any credit card statements to their office so their abuser had no idea they might have access to money. Or bank accounts, or contacts with friends.

Reply

fposte May 10, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Sure, so long as they accept the fact that it’s no longer confidential and there’s no security to their mailings there. People get residential expectations about mail, and they just don’t apply if you’re getting stuff at work.

Reply

KellyK May 10, 2013 at 8:44 am

Wow, yeah, that’s crappy. The only reason I’d have something personal delivered to work would be if I were using it there (tea or coffee for my desk drawer stash, a calendar with puppy pictures, etc.). And even at that, I wouldn’t expect anyone to deliver it for me.

Reply

Brandy May 10, 2013 at 8:56 am

It’s a city issue. For people that live in larger cities, packages wont’ be left, so you’ve got to either be home, or pick it up at the post office. I didn’t realize this until I moved to one!!

FWIW, in my old office, my boss used to have a case of wine delivered monthly. The receptionist would call her, and she’d go lug it to her office. It had to go to the office because someone over 21 had to sign for it and nobody was home at her house during the day.

This resulted in many bottles of wine for me!

Reply

AP May 10, 2013 at 9:42 am

Agreed – in NYC you can’t have packages shipped to your home unless you have a doorman. If FedEx or UPS holds it for you, you have to pick it up at their warehouse, which isn’t on public transportation. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t ship to their regularly! Letters are different and I guess would be odder.

On the other hand- because the package thing is so normal most offices have plans to deal with it, and there’s usually someone who has this as part if their official duties.

Reply

Anon May 10, 2013 at 11:42 am

That’s not true for my walk-up. No doorman, but UPS, Fedex, and USPS all just leave packages in front of our mailboxes in the front hall. Sometimes they leave a note but I can usually get them to leave it eventually. Worst case scenario, I have to pick up at my local post office (which luckily has Saturday hours).

Reply

Jen May 10, 2013 at 9:46 am

I agree it’s a “city issue” – when I lived in Chicago I had no choice but to send packages to the office. They wouldn’t leave them at the apartment (no doorman, locked door) or if they did, it wasn’t safe (they’d be stolen for sure). I could have had them delivered to the local UPS store but that was not exactly close and when you rely on public transporatation to get to and from work, it’s usually an extra 30 minutes to the commute or a $5 cab ride so everyone just shipped things to work. Both jobs I worked at there were cool with it. I’d just get an e-mail saying “Please pick up your packages” and I’d bring it home. Now that I’m in a suburban area, I have never had to do it because they can be left at my house without a problem.

Reply

Natalie May 10, 2013 at 9:51 am

A friend of mine actually ended up on some kind of FedEx blacklist because she had so many packages stolen from her vestibule. It probably wasn’t that many as a proportion of total deliveries, but she shops online *a lot* so both FedEx and UPS refused to deliver anything else to her unless she was home to sign for it.

And this is why I have everything shipped to work.

Reply

Emily K May 10, 2013 at 10:31 am

When I lived in Richmond, VA so many of my Netflix deliveries went missing that I lived in fear of them accusing me of stealing and keeping the movies myself. It was about 1 in every 10 DVDs.

Reply

Natalie May 10, 2013 at 11:15 am

Yikes, being blacklisted from Netflix would be a serious hardship!

Reply

Hlx Hlx May 10, 2013 at 10:13 am

Or the packages will be left, and then will be promptly stolen. One unexpected drawback of city living.

Reply

Malissa May 10, 2013 at 10:26 am

It’s not just a city issue. In my rural area my post office is only open from 9-3. It’s also 15 miles from where I work. Getting to it when it’s open is a real pain. I’ve had mail carriers that won’t drive up my driveway to drop packages, even when someone was home. The fed-ex guy won’t leave anything if we are not there, ever. Only UPS will drop on my porch. He then usually has to kick the dog out of his truck because she wants to go for a ride. And I live in a place where most of the vehicles have keys in them, while parked in the driveway. So theft really isn’t an issue.
But because of all of the difficulties, I have lots of things shipped to my office. Just like most of my coworkers. But we all go pick them off the counter after they show up.

Reply

KellyK May 10, 2013 at 10:37 am

Wow, I didn’t know this, never having lived in an apartment. Okay, if you can’t get mail delivered to your residence, it’s completely reasonable to have it delivered to your office, assuming you pick it up at the front desk/mailroom rather than expecting someone to bring it to you.

Reply

Brandy May 10, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Note: we were all talking about PACKAGES–not mail. Mail isn’t an issue, and the OP’s office is totally reasonable in having a “no personal mail” policy. (IMHO)

Reply

Kay May 10, 2013 at 9:01 am

This might be a location thing, in part. When I lived and worked in NYC, almost everyone had all of their packages sent to the office. The only exceptions were people who lived in buildings with doormen or reception desks. Because otherwise, you don’t get packages. You spend a lot of money for mislaid and stolen stuff, instead.

Reply

Jess May 10, 2013 at 9:46 am

It’s even a location thing within cities. When I lived in DC, I’d let less expensive packages be delivered to our porch (the mailman would do his best to hide them for us behind the chairs) but anything that was more expensive came to the office. Getting, say, a box from Apple delivered to your porch was a sure way to have it stolen.

Reply

Cat May 10, 2013 at 9:47 am

Yeah, I’ve had my laundry stolen out of our laundry room when I left it unattended briefly (but the machines still running; we’re not talking sitting around here); I don’t really want to find out what would happen to packages.

Reply

Jess May 10, 2013 at 10:13 am

Ugh. I had this happen once. Why did you want my wet laundry? WHY?

Reply

the gold digger May 10, 2013 at 11:35 am

My car was broken into (twice) when I lived in Miami. They stole my prescription sunglasses (which now live in my purse), the change I had for tollbooths (still in the car but I’m not in Miami any more), four quarts of engine oil, and the old shower curtain and the towel I had in the trunk in case I had to change a tire in the mud and rain.

They did not steal my casettes, which was quite insulting.

Reply

Natalie May 10, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Maybe they didn’t know what a cassette is.

Reply

Kay May 10, 2013 at 10:26 am

Yeah. I’m in DC now but the building has a leasing office that accepts packages for residents, which is handy.

Reply

RJ May 10, 2013 at 11:35 am

My leasing office will accept packages, but since they’re only open 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday, it becomes quite a chore to then get the package from the office. :(

Reply

Lindsay J May 11, 2013 at 7:21 am

Yeah. I got Omaha Steaks delivered and had to ask the ladies at the leasing office to ask the delivery guy to leave the package at my door because I wouldn’t be able to make it to the leasing office on time.

And just today I rushed home 30 minutes early to get my package with new glasses in it, because I wanted to have them for the weekends and the office closes at 5 and won’t open again until Monday.

Reply

LittleL May 10, 2013 at 10:33 am

Agreed on this. My SIL, who lived a mile away but still in the same city, could get nothing delivered…it would be stolen for sure. I never had a problem with deliveries disappearing, even though it was very close in the same city. Certainly a location thing.

Reply

KayDay May 10, 2013 at 11:20 am

Or sometimes, the delivery person won’t leave it, even if your okay with it. I usually have more expensive items shipped to my office, but sometimes have cheap things delivered to my house. However, sometimes UPS or Fedex won’t leave it on my porch, even if no signature is required.

Reply

KayDay May 10, 2013 at 11:20 am

**you’re*** I’m sorry internet please forgive me!

Reply

The Internet May 10, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Just this once, my child.

Reply

Lindsay J May 11, 2013 at 7:26 am

I worked as a driver’s helper for UPS one winter, and apparently leaving a package or not is up to the driver’s discretion.

In some apartment complexes where apparently a lot of theft occurred we would not leave boxes at all.

In others we would leave things as long as they did not look like something desirable. (Box with “Kindle Fire” written on the side would not be left. Run of the mill Amazon box was).

And others (usually residential neighborhoods) we would leave anything that was not signature required.

We really just didn’t want you to have your stuff stolen and we didn’t want to have to deal will filling out paperwork for stolen stuff.

Other drivers would leave everything but signature required, or would leave nothing, even if we were doing the same route.

Reply

Natalie May 10, 2013 at 11:21 am

I’ve had different experiences even depending on the layout of the building. My last apartment fronted a very busy street, had no porch, and the door to the vestibule was locked. Anything delivered would have been left on the stoop, 15 feet from the street and fully visible. My current building has a big porch and three entrances, each with an open vestibule (locked at the hallway door). I haven’t had a problem getting deliveries there, since they’re out of sight and protected from weather.

Reply

Sara May 10, 2013 at 10:23 am

That is horrible!!!!

I lived in Brooklyn for 3 years, while I had issues with UPS (they would never even ring the buzzer, and would just put teh sticker that says they’ll come again) I have to say, none of my packages were ever stolen. (Then again, on more than one occasion I’ve left the keys in the door overnight)…..I can’t imagine what kind of jerk does that.

Now I miss my old apartment/neighborhood :(

Reply

Aimee May 10, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Our receptionist just has all the packages put in the mail room, and then emails everyone who has a package to tell them to come get them (we aren’t supposed to have personal packages delivered to the office, but we get plenty of them for work). They stay in the mail room for up to 2 weeks, and if they haven’t been claimed by then, they are sent back. It’s a good system.

Reply

W.W.A. May 10, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I get why this is annoying, but some people live in places where it’s impossible to have packages delivered. I live in a so-so neighborhood and I would strongly prefer not to have a package sitting on my front doorstep for 6 hours in broad daylight. Everyone I’ve ever known who has packages delivered to the office does it for this reason, not because they want to make the office manager’s life hard.

Reply

jesicka309 May 13, 2013 at 8:12 pm

The thing is that we don’t have a mailroom person (cutting costs). The Personal assistants from the 4 big departments take turns at sending out the outgoing mail, and our security puts mail in pigeon holes based on what department is listed on the front (and they refuse to do anything else, if you don’t have a department listed, they’ll toss it into a corner for you to find).

So the PAs are already doing us a massive favour when they bring the mail up after diong their own duties in the mail room, and it kills me to see my colleague being so cavalier and rude about getting them to bring up their mail. (oh, did you see a giant box down there for me full of sand? Maybe you can bring it up on your next trip, k?)
Also, if you’re ordering packages more than once every week, you should probably invest in a better method of getting your packages, as the company probably doesn’t want to help you run your wholesale clothing onselling etsy site on the side for free (this actually happened).

Reply

Chocolate Teapot May 10, 2013 at 5:30 am

Thankfully my Post Office stays open late in the evenings. There is also a new collection system where you scan a bar code and it unlocks a trunk containing your parcel.

Reply

Malissa May 10, 2013 at 10:28 am

That is awesome!

Reply

Majigail May 10, 2013 at 6:48 am

Isn’t it possible just to call or email the people in the other building to tell the where their personal mail is? A couple of trips through the parking lot and neighborhoods might slow the amount. Just let folks know you can deliver company mail but not personal mail.

Reply

The Other Dawn May 10, 2013 at 7:27 am

Yes! This is the first thought I had. Why the heck is OP walking through a parking lot AND a neighborhood to deliver personal mail that shouldn’t even be coming in? I don’t think her boss would think that’s a good use of her time.

Reply

Jessa May 10, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Exactly, this issue isn’t about getting the mail, it’s about delivering it, and the way to handle that is an email “Smith, your package arrived, come get it.”

Reply

Another Evil HR Director May 10, 2013 at 6:51 am

#3: You certainly can, and should, clarify the hours before accepting the job offer. Asking for different hours to accommodate your child care needs is acceptable, but be prepared if you don’t get the answer you’d like. Too many times have we hired someone, only to have her tell us a week after starting (or even a day after!) that she can’t work the stated hours. Not every job can be flexible in terms of the start and stop time.

Reply

Lily May 10, 2013 at 7:07 am

What do you say at that moment? Have these people worked out?

Reply

Joey May 10, 2013 at 9:10 am

You say “sorry, but the job requires these hours and they are not flexible. I understand if you can’t work them, but I need someone who can.”

Reply

Another Evil HR Director May 10, 2013 at 10:30 am

Joey’s correct. Sometimes, the ee says “ok, just asking” and off he/she goes. Sometimes not, and I’m looking for a replacement. Many of our positions are not flexible with shift times.

Reply

#3 asking person May 10, 2013 at 11:38 am

Very hesitantly I did ask the hiring director and explained my position. Her response was as follows “most clinical coordinators arrive at 7am, arriving later on occassion would not be an issue, but if this would become a daily event I worry that you would be playing catch up when you arrived at 8am and be behind in work” I replied with I understand what you are saying” She then went on to say that she would have to discuss this with someone over her to see if it would be an option. So it seems as if on paper yes this is what they are saying and saying that you start at 7am but the time to leave is what is really unsure of. I know many people drop their child off as early as 6am for work! My daughter was born early with surgery/feeding tubes etc. so for 2 years of her life she was home with me or grandma. We recently put her in a facility about a month ago part time and she is still adjusting. We as a family are concerned about changing drastically and waking her up, throwing on clothes, and droping at daycare before she even truely wakes up and is there all day and no understanding of what is going on (she is only 2). The day care opens early but only for full time which costs almost $80 more a week. There are other factors playing too into accepting this job offer, this is just one piece of the puzzle.

Reply

Christy May 10, 2013 at 1:41 pm

From the answer the hiring director gave, it sounds like they do expect you to be there at 7am most days. If you’re the one with your daughter 80% of the mornings, that’s not “on occasion”. However, it sounds like their main worry is you being “behind”, and that’s what needs to be clarified. If it’s a matter of just completing a certain number of tasks, then you can explain to them that you’ll work until 4pm, and it shouldn’t be an issue. However, there are procedures that happen at certain times during the day, or if the rest of the staff follows an exact schedule and you need to keep up with them in real time, I can understand how the late start time would be a concern. I’ve never worked in the medical field, so you’ll know that better than me. Good luck!

Reply

Natalie May 10, 2013 at 8:47 pm

When the hiring manager checks and gets back to you, I would strongly suggest being less equivocal with your speech. What you’ve said to the hiring manager is sort of vague and easily misinterpreted, which could potentially be a problem, compared to your descriptions of your situation for our benefit. Don’t make the common mistake of confusing directness with being rude!

Reply

The Other Dawn May 10, 2013 at 7:28 am

#1: I’m confused. Is OP sleep walking or just groggy from being woken up by the phone?

Reply

Nancie May 10, 2013 at 9:28 am

My guess is that the OP is sleep talking. I’ve done it, and oddly phone conversations are the only things I’ve done in my sleep that I actually remember.

Somewhat hilariously, many many years ago I confused the daylights out of an obscene caller. It’s hilarious because I never remembered any details of what he said, just his confusion at my side of the conversation. And he never called again.

Reply

KellyK May 10, 2013 at 10:46 am

That is hilarious!

It sounds from the OP comment like it’s more than being groggy but is actual sleep-talking. I’m curious how people who do sleep talk handle things like this. Do you put your phone in another room, or put it on silent so you aren’t answering calls before you’re awake?

Reply

Nancie May 10, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Moving or silencing the phone isn’t an option, because unless I’m on vacation I’m expected to provide after-hours emergency support.

I mostly just hope I’ll actually wake up when the phone rings.

As far as I know, I’ve only taken one work call while asleep in the last ~15 years. I called the user back when I woke up and realized what happened, and it turned out I’d accurately told them it would be fine until morning.

Reply

Chinook May 10, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Wow, Nancie. You know you are good at your job when you can literally answer the calls in your sleep. That is worth bragging about!

Reply

Elizabeth West May 10, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Wow, that’s bizarre. What occurred to me just now is this: if there is a particular sound or song that usually jars you out of sleep, you could make that your ringtone (if we’re talking about a cell phone here) and turn up the volume a bit. Then if you had to take a call, the ringtone would help to wake you up. The volume doesn’t have to be deafening if that particular sound always makes you alert.

Reply

Nancie May 10, 2013 at 1:29 pm

I’ve never identified any one sound that’ll wake me up reliably. That may work for other sleep [w/t]alkers, though.

Reply

Kou May 11, 2013 at 1:34 am

Good on you, usually when I talk on the phone in my sleep I say complete nonsense and confuse people.

Reply

Kelly L. May 10, 2013 at 11:24 am

I had a conversation with my mom once while asleep. I was away at college at the time and she called one evening while I was napping, and I remember waking up mid-conversation and being really confused as to why she had called me just to tell me she was at the supermarket, because this is a pretty normal place for a person to go. Turns out she was trying to tell me she was at the supermarket down the street from my dorm, having come to surprise me, and stopped at the store to call me for directions! :)

Reply

Nancie May 10, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Good one! Did your mom have any idea you were asleep for the beginning of the conversation?

Reply

Kelly L. May 10, 2013 at 1:45 pm

She figured it out when I suddenly became lucid and had no idea what I’d been saying before, but not before.

Reply

JamieG May 10, 2013 at 1:32 pm

OP could just be groggy; I’ve done similar things before. It’s less of a problem now, but a few years ago if the phone rang while I was asleep, I would answer it immediately just to get it to stop making noise. I would then say whatever was necessary to get the person off the phone so I could go back to sleep… It took a long time to stop that impulse.

Reply

Kou May 11, 2013 at 1:33 am

I’ve had conversations on the phone where someone called when I was asleep, and I answered and talked to them mostly in my sleep. Usually I remember it happened, but not until like a day later and then I have no idea what was said.

This also happens if someone in person wakes me up when I’m very tired (I guess in REM sleep, I don’t know) and tries to talk to me.

Reply

-X- May 10, 2013 at 7:45 am

What the OP described is obnoxious, but far less obnoxious than asking someone to do it on Facebook or another online outlet that is for personal connections.

I think an organization *asking* (not telling) employees to share information about jobs, articles about the organization, etc is entirely legit. If the stuff is very marketing-speak and bogus-sounding I’d resist. If it was job openings, informational material, etc, I think I would be happy to share that and, unless the company is disliked, may even reflect well on the OP. You work there and should be a little proud of it. Share if you can.

Reply

Brandy May 10, 2013 at 8:52 am

#5. Two suggestions:
1. see if your office managers or whomever made the “no personal mail” call is OK with you sticking the mail in a box, and emailing the employees that “all personal mail can be found in the box on X’s desk.” Then they can sort through it themselves if they expect anything.

2. If #1 is a hassle, I’d mark “return to sender” and pop it right back in the mailbox. Perhaps also send a mass email stating “as of X date, all personal mail will be returned to sender.”

Just one caveat that given your companies policies that packages are OK, I may have assumed a prescription refill package would be OK too. I know they technically come in the USPS vs. UPS or FEDEX, but it’s a grey area enough to at least let that person know “sorry for any confusion but [management] considers this personal mail and not a package…please have it sent elsewhere.”

Reply

Sarah May 10, 2013 at 9:42 am

#7 – I would get your attorney to handle this. Its what they’re paid for. Totally not your responsibility. I can see why you’re irritated with these people though. I work for a law firm in a litigation and when we ask for things from the defense during the discovery process we seriously get like 1/2 to 3/4 of what we request. We know they have the stuff, but they just don’t provide it for whatever reason. For your own peace of mind, I don’t think it reflects poorly on you if the defense can’t get all they want during discovery. They just have to cover all their bases, which is why they asked for your assistance. And in this case, I would make sure your lawyer does everything they can, and if its just not possible to get it, then strengthen the other evidence you have. Good Luck!

Reply

Sarah May 10, 2013 at 9:43 am

Oh, and your attorney HAS to do this for you. They have to represent you to the best of their abilities, so if they aren’t getting off their butt to do it then it could come back and bite them later.

Reply

Cat May 10, 2013 at 10:01 am

Agreed, and if opposing counsel contacts you again, tell them that you are represented by counsel and that they need to contact your attorney. At that point, they are ethically barred from contacting you again. They need to go through your lawyer.

Reply

Jess May 10, 2013 at 10:08 am

Yes! I was assuming this request had come through your counsel, but if not, bring this to your attorney’s attention immediately. Assuming, of course, that you are represented. It might be helpful to figure out if you are going to need these records for your case- if so, you are going to want to help your attorney obtain copies of them, and then they will most likely be provided to opposing counsel under your state’s discovery rules.

And I would suggest that if your attorney asks you to help sort out records issues that you do so- that’s pretty normal for an attorney to ask, since it’s often easier for you to get your own records than for the attorney to do so. Your attorney certainly can force the issue through court, but why do things the hard way?

Reply

OP #7 May 14, 2013 at 4:18 pm

The request from the opposing counsel was through my attorney. It was a nice letter asking for our help in obtaining these records, offering to pay for all expenses. As far as I know they have been able to obtain all other discovery. I placed phone calls to the relevant parties (ex-employer and massage therapist) assuming I could help. I don’t need these records for side.

Reply

Portia de Belmont May 10, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Why, oh why do people play games with discovery requests? Nothing annoys my supervising attorney more than that; he tells opposing counsel at the outset that he won’t tolerate it, and follows through as necessary.

Reply

AG May 10, 2013 at 10:33 am

#7: Agree with the comments above. Opposing counsel should be going through your counsel; they may hear the word “lawsuit” and think that they themselves are in trouble; they have to produce them via subpoena if it comes to that; and your lawyer can handle all of that for you.

One other thing to note – as a legal records specialist, they may not have them any more. They may have thrown them out without a defensible retention policy, and telling you so leaves them open to spoliation charges or fines from the court.

Reply

KVM May 10, 2013 at 11:14 am

No comments on #4?

Reply

Anon May 10, 2013 at 11:44 am

Read the Gift of Fear, just to be extra careful, beforehand, and modify your approach as necessary. That was my only thought.

Reply

Anonymous Accountant May 10, 2013 at 12:51 pm

I’ll comment. :)

If the employee who threatened the other employee hasn’t been disciplined or fired, s/he should be immediately after the investigation has taken place (if applicable).

If the organization has security, ensure they escort the person out of the building, shut off all computer access and any remote access to the computer systems, and void their security badge if applicable.

Reply

BW May 10, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Re: #7, I’m a lawyer who does plaintiff-side car wreck cases in Texas. Obviously laws vary from state to state, but in my experience:

The former employer. If they won’t cooperate with you, they won’t treat your lawyer any better either. The only thing I can see is to have your lawyer explain to your former employer that we are not suing them or saying they’re responsible, we just need their help to prove up your lost wages claim. You can always hit them with a subpoena. Although that’s not likely to make them LESS hostile but you may not have a choice.

You have to watch out for giving too broad an authorization to the defense counsel. I NEVER have my clients sign any wage/medical info release forms from the defense. It’s not about having anything tp hide; You’re letting the other side do a fishing expedition to their heart’s content by putting your signature on that authorization and handing it over!! They’re always like oh this way YOU don’t have to do the work we’ll do the work for you. NO THANK YOU. Have your own lawyer get the information. That way your lawyer can review and redact if need be, only giving RELEVANT info to the defense, under a Rule 11 discovery agreement.

The massage therapist. To be used in court, medical bills and records have to be in a certain format – she may have to do a medical billing affidavit. If you provided her, either on your own or through your lawyer, a proper HIPAA release form, she has to release the info to you. She may charge a per-page fee for records.

In my experience, sometimes medical providers balk at providing information they MUST provide, because they’re trying to make it difficult for you to prove your case. I’ve has therapists say they won’t give me bills/records unless I agree to not ask them to reduce their bill amount by more than X% once I get the settlement/mediation offer/jury verdict (You see a lot of times we ask medical providers to take a 30%, 40%, 50% discount off their original bill in order to make a not-so-good settlement still work out in the client’s favor)

Is the case in litigation(i.e. have you actually filed your petition and served the defendant) or is your lawyer still in pre-litigation negotiations with the defendant’s insurance company? If suit was already filed, your lawyer can get the records with a subpoena or a deposition by written questions (DWQ). The therapist may charge a fee to generate a narrative report/SOAP notes, but it’s very shady that she is refusing to release the information…she CAN’T refuse.

Reply

Kou May 11, 2013 at 1:37 am

Re: Medical records, it’s my understanding that your medical records are essentially “yours” and must be provided to you if you go through the proper channels, right? She can be a pain in the ass but she can’t flat out refuse.

Reply

BW May 11, 2013 at 9:37 am

Yes, patients have the right to their medical records. May have to pay a per-page fee for the records, but she can’t just flat-out say no I won’t give them to you no matter what. Can report her to the state medical board.

Reply

Leave a Comment

You can find the site's commenting guidelines here.

Previous post:

Next post: