update: my boss gave me a choice of offices but is punishing me for the one I chose

Remember the reader whose boss gave her a choice of offices — and then punished her for the one she chose? Here’s her update.

I’m afraid this update isn’t an extremely happy one. Not too long after I got some responses from my original question, I went to my manager and asked if there was anything else I could do and if she would rather I moved to the office directly next to her (the “used to be a closet” office). I was told that everything was fine and not to worry about it. As it turns out, I should have been worried.

In October, I had to report for a week long jury duty summons. Prior to going on jury duty, I asked if I needed to do anything and was told that in the past people wrote letters to try to be exempted and I could do that if I wanted to. I decided that, as a young woman with no family or obligations that would prevent me from going, I would not be exempt anyway and just went to Jury Duty thinking everything was fine. I ended up taking 3 days. Every day I got an email from my manager insisting that I update her on the status of the day. (did I get called for a jury, when will I be coming back).

When I returned to the office on Thursday, I was told that I had to move my office ‘by the end of the day’ and that no one had time to help me and I would just have to figure out how to get my desk in there. I was also called into a disciplinary meeting shortly thereafter that called my work ethic into question due to the Jury Duty. I was told that they value people who prioritize their responsibilities. When I asked what responsibility I had not met (I made sure everyone knew where I would be and delegated any time-sensitive work to co-workers) and apparently when they told me that when I was told that “in the past people have written letters to try to be exempt…etc.” that was meant to be an order. Then they took away 3 of my vacation days to “pay” for the 3 days of jury duty. I apologized for the misunderstanding and assured them that I meant no disrespect and was not trying to shirk any responsibilities.

After that, I immediately consulted my employee handbook and outlined the policy on Jury Duty. (It is one sentence “The Bank will pay your normal wages for the period of service.”) I took it right back to them and asked why my vacation days are being taken away and is this meant to be a punishment for a misunderstanding, showing them the highlighted portion of the policy. They immediately back pedaled and gave me my vacation days back. And in the meeting I also mentioned that, after doing some research, I noticed that in Pennsylvania it is actually illegal to require your employees to attempt to ‘get out of’ jury duty before allowing them to go. And she said to me, “Well, that’s why we don’t write it down but we still need you to try to do that in the future.” I was also told that I need to learn to ‘read between the lines’ and ask myself ‘what do they REALLY want from me in this situation’.

After that debacle, everything kind of slowed down and it seems to be going ok. My manager still has her moments, but she hasn’t been as unreasonable as she was before. It’s possible that she’s being nicer because she got her way and thinks I have been defeated. I am still debating whether I want to give this place another year, just so I can put the experience on my resume or if I want to start looking in January after I take my year-end vacation.

I wish I could give you a better update, but I guess it is what it is!

{ 120 comments… read them below }

  1. thenoiseinspace

    Wow. How dare you meet your civic duties like an honest citizen.

    Your manager sounds awful, but kudos to you for fighting to get your vacation days back! I don’t think I would have had the guts!

  2. Anonymous

    OP, thanks for the update. Sorry to hear that things aren’t going better! I am impressed that you fought back on the vacation days and the attempt to coerce you into not doing jury duty. I hope this has at least given you perspective that it’s not you, it’s definitely them!

    It’s unclear to me whether HR is part of these bullying tactics or if it’s just your manager. Is there any way you could you go HR or do you think they’d back your manager? Can you maybe get transferred to another position?

    1. Pete

      It’s never HR’s decision to bully. It’s always Management’s. Management tells HR what to do–sometimes directly and sometimes they expect HR to read between the lines. Regardless, HR makes no tactical decisions without the approval Management.

      1. Ann Furthermore

        Yes, that’s true. I moved into another department about 5 years ago, partly because of a terrible, terrible director that rained misery into everyone’s lives. Many people had gone to HR to complain about her, but her boss (the CFO) for some reason thought the sun shined out of her backside. So nothing was done.

        Last year, she finally resigned to move onto another company, and there was much celebrating. While working on an software implementation for the HR department, I got to be friendly with one of the managers there. On the happy day, I ran into her while I was walking to my car, and told her the news. And she said, “Oh, thank GOD!” She was very professional and didn’t give me any of the details, but she did say that HR is not all-powerful in these situations, unless something illegal is going on. They can recommend getting rid of someone, and provide very compelling reasons, but unless the person’s manager is willing to take action, that’s all they can do. I had never thought about it that way.

      2. Rayner

        It’s perfectly possible for someone at HR to make crappy decisions, and to be a bully to other people – especially in this scenario. Being HR does not preclude people from being mean or unfair to subordinates, peers, or clients. Management can be also complicit, working on their own negative ways, feel helpless to intervene, or be ignorant of HR’s nefarious plans, but HR are not immune to bad behavior.

        1. Sophia

          But I think Pete’s response relates to people often assuming that HR is making the policies etc and they don’t realize the constraints people in HR face

    2. Vicki

      An employer may not… threaten, or otherwise coerce …

      “An employer may not deprive an employee of his or her seniority position or benefits, or discharge, threaten, or otherwise coerce him or her, because the employee receives and/or responds to a summons, serves as a juror, or attends court for prospective jury service. This prohibition does not apply to employers in the retail or service industries with fewer than 15 employees or to employers in the manufacturing industry with fewer than 40 employees. However, employees working for employers in these industries who are exempt from the law due to their limited number of employees may be excused from jury service upon request to the court.”
      Pennsylvania Stat. 42:4563
      http://www.employmentlawhandbook.com/wage-and-hour-laws/state-wage-and-hour-laws/pennsylvania/

    1. Anna

      EXACTLY what I was thinking. Also, “we don’t write it down because we know it’s illegal” is a really bad policy to even verbalize. Or, more importantly, have at all.

      1. Jamie

        The second someone said that to me would be the very moment I’d reconcile myself to moving on.

        I’m not saying quit in a huff, but no job is worth having to navigate unwritten and unethical rules.

        1. Bea W

          Ditto. The things the OP describes in that post are too similar to a former employer where at some point I heard something so beyond messed up, it was like a “wake up and get out of here!” alarm going off in my head.

  3. StellaMaris

    Take it from someone who has been there: situations and people like this only get worse, never better. Get out as soon as you can. They actually expect you to mind-read their “real” expectations, which include wrongfully avoiding jury duty? (Take a look at the website for the Clerk of the Court that issued the jury summons; there’s probably a section on the penalties involved in not serving when you are in fact able to do so.) They punish you under a policy that they know is illegal, so they don’t write it down? There are kind, sane, honest people to work for, and you deserve to work there, not at this place.

    1. Anonymous

      I agree with StellaMaris: you should start looking for another job instead of sticking it out for another year. Expecting you to do illegal things and read their minds is ridiculous, and they’re not treating you well. Things might seem okay-ish now, but you already know how horrible they can be, and it’s likely they’ll be horrible again in the future.

      If you’re asked why you’re looking for another job, you could just talk about how you’re uncomfortable with how your current job expected you to do something illegal and refuses to give you clear expectations.

      1. ScaredyCat

        Re “mind reading” is somewhat similar to what I’ve been told during an evaluation at my first job.

        Boss: You’re being mean to your colleagues.
        Me: I’m sorry I wasn’t aware I was doing it. Can you give me an example?
        Boss: Well no… nothing comes to mind.

        1. Another Sara

          Ha! This sounds like Former Boss.
          Boss: You’re not helpful enough to your junior coworkers.
          Me: Here’s what I’ve been doing to help them – are there things you’d like me to do more of, or differently?
          Boss: It doesn’t matter what you’re doing. They don’t think you are helpful and perception is what matters.
          Me: Did they give any indications of what they would like from me?
          Boss: No, but you need to be more helpful.

          1. Viv

            Thank you, AnotherSara and ScaredyCat. I just left my job for exactly this. I was asked to supervise a new employee but I was not her supervisor. For the previous person in the job, who had 5 hours a week allotted to doing admin work for me, we did task lists on Outlook and we split them by project, with me delegating but not supervising. For the new employee, I gave clear instructions, clear task lists, and clear timelines, all in point form emails or delegated via Outlook. I used the delegating task list from the previous person in that job, who didn’t require supervision to get it done.

            The problem is that the level of supervision required was costing me time I really needed to get my job done. I asked for a meeting to work out a better time allotment. With 3 managers in a 9 person office, I thought one of them was better equipped to supervise at this point.

            I was told my instructions were cold to the point of being mean, bullying, and isolating. There was NO emotion in my instructions, true, but it was a task list! I asked if the employee had complained, because I thought that even though she had fallen behind, her performance was improving. No, but my curtness was hardly motivating. I asked for examples, but it was apparently just an overall feeling “intuited” by the manager who should have been supervising the new employee in the first place. I was gobsmacked that this was coming up 4 months after the fact.

      2. TychaBrahe

        They’re expecting you to do illegal things when your job is to ensure the bank follows the banking laws.

        1. Windchime

          This is a really good point. What happens if/when the OP discovers a violation in the course of her auditing duties? Will they expect her to sweep it under the rug and cover it up, according to some other unwritten “policy”?

      1. Becca

        Omg, thank you for posting that link. Totally makes all the miscommunication and passive aggression between my Mother-In-Law and I make sense. She never comes out and says what she wants! It’s infuriating!

        1. khilde

          DITTO!!!!! Oh my gosh, this is so simple but makes total sense. Thankyouthankyouthankyou for posting this. Becca – your words could have been mine exactly.

    2. littlemoose

      I’ll belatedly join the chorus urging you to consider looking for another position. I can’t imagine that this manager or this workplace is going to change, especially since your manager sounds like she eats a big bowl of crazy for breakfast every morning. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

  4. Ann Furthermore

    Oh, your manager sounds awful, and I’m sorry you have to deal with that. But GOOD FOR YOU for pushing back on their BS and politely informing them that what they expected you to do was in fact illegal.

    It’s possible that your manager has backed off because she’s a little intimidated by you. She’s probably accustomed to people rolling over for her when she bullies them like she tried to do to you, and now thinks it’s best to give you a wide berth. All the better for you, at least in the short term.

    You should definitely start looking for another job now, since it can take awhile to find something. Like someone else said, these situations usually get worse, not better. Even if your manager is behaving more reasonably right now, she might be saving up all kinds of unsubstantiated “ammo” to zing you with in your performance evaluation. Or, she might start giving you really crappy assignments, or taking other work away from you. Or who knows what else? A bad manager can make your life miserable.

    1. Kristie

      Oh my god! This manager is psycho!!!
      I would definitely recommend you look elsewhere. A good manager does not make you “read between the lines” or tell you to second guess what they REALLy want. That is ridiculous.
      I think it will hurt you in the long run to stay there. They could fire you for another “misunderstanding” or…you could just be forever walking on egg shells at work. Is that what you really want?

  5. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd

    Are you fricking kidding me?

    NO, that is not legal! It’s illegal, it’s immoral, it’s unpatriotic, it’s uncivic and it’s “I hope they burn in hell” territory.

    It’s also hideously ungrateful. The “jury of your peers” thing is kind of important to I don’t know, the *entire* American justice system which a whole lot of people have died to protect and a whole lot of people living under oppressive regimes would sort of like to have.

    God forbid you could spare an employee a few days.

    We had a bad jury year the other year. In my division of fewer than 100, we had several people on jury trials + two employees on grand jury which meant every thursday for six months. Then I was called on a week long trial myself.

    It was disruptive and it cost us a bit of money. It was also less of a sacrifice than dying on the beaches in Normandy.

    Assholes. I hope they get everything coming to them.

    1. Rayner

      The jury of your peers thing isn’t exclusive to America, just so you know. As a heads up thing.

      Also, the American justice system and jury of ‘your peers’ system is kind of very corrupt, given how biased it against people of minorities and oppressed groups, such as black people, fat people, women, people of different religions, and poor people.

      So you know. It’s very much a ymmv thing whether you think jury duty is a ‘good’ thing.

      1. Pepper

        WT Ltd didn’t say it was exclusive to America, merely that people living under oppressive regimes would probably want to have something like it. The jury system might not be perfect (and I live in another country that also has a jury system, so if they are at all alike, there are definitely problems), but the passionate defence of the jury system is heartening, to me.

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd

        Oh absolutely re not being strictly U.S. I’m quite the fan of Law & Order UK, so I know all about the British legal system for instance. They have wigs, but otherwise it looks quite similar.

        (tongue in cheek, please, I’m not the stereotypical American idiot let loose on the internet :p)

        I do not think the “jury of your peers” thing is very corrupt, however. Maximum fairness depends on the most diverse pool being available, which is one of the reasons that people trying to wiggle out of jury duty because they are too important is horrible.

        There are great inequities in the American justice system, mostly tied to available legal representation and sentencing laws that are class & race weighted. These are big, bad issues that seem impossible for one person to make an impact upon but the one thing an individual can do is their individual duty when called upon.

        1. Jessa

          Actually they did a wonderful commercial like that ” very much the same but with wigs.” If you haven’t seen them check Yahoo, BBC America had a few really cute commercials for LO:UK

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

            The advertisement is hysterical. I stole my line straight from that ad and got laughs from it so shhhhh on the sources!

            BTW, BBC America is running an overall ad for the channel atm that promotes their use of *hats* in all of their programming.

            I hope they are making a boatload off of being able to deliver their content worldwide freely now, between cable systems, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, because, brill.

        2. Rayner

          The inequalities in the American justice system do not stop at the legal representation , or sentencing.

          The case of Trayvon Martin, Marissa Alexander, and others make the case for the jury system being riddled with faults. Not enough PoC on the jury, not enough women on the jury, not enough wealth diversity, not enough trans*people, not enough body diversity, the list goes on.

          What an individual can do is remind themselves of that, and if they are taking part in the duty, to consciously remind themselves at every opportunity. And if they’re not, they can join any number of organisations or movements campaigning for change.

          1. Anon for this

            You’re talking about criminal juries, I take it? I try construction defect cases–I almost never care one bit if someone is trans or fat or black or female, I care about how much they know or can learn about construction defects. That’s it. Someone’s job and/or educational background is almost always more important and useful to me as a lawyer than any other quality you mentioned. I would firmly oppose putting someone on a jury just to check off a box, if that is what you are suggesting (and I’m not saying you are, because maybe you’re not–I’m just throwing it out there).

            Furthermore, almost anyone in the jury pool who says it’s a hardship to attend the trial won’t be selected–someone who is mad about being there isn’t good for anyone. In fact, the judge straight-up tells people to leave before we even make our selections, in one of our local counties. So, if people in one of your preferred categories self-select out by saying it’s a hardship, guess who won’t be represented on the jury? (note: criminal juries may be different on this point, I can only speak to civil trials in one state)

            Have you read the book Mistrial, by Mark Geragos and Pat Harris? I am a civil plaintiff’s lawyer, so I read a book by a criminal defense lawyer kind of as a joke, but it was very interesting. I share some of his criticisms of the system, but not necessarily some of his suggested fixes.

          2. Marie

            My spouse was a prosecutor and left because the system is biased FOR minorities- at least where we live. It all depends on who the politician is running things. A lot happens BEFORE a case even goes to a jury-IF it goes. Deals can be handed out if you belong to a minority community whose vote is important.

      3. HR Coolfish

        Rayner, what’s your point Are you saying since the jury system is imperfect we should all avoid it?

        I’d choose to have 12 passionate Wakeen’s than 12 disillusioned Rayner’s seated any time.

        1. Rayner

          I’m not saying that the jury system is imperfect (it is) and therefore we should avoid it, I’m saying that an impassioned blanket defense of a system that allows for prejudice, racism, sexism, and ableism to slide under the radar without notice, and one that disproportionately affects people when it should be unbiased and fair. is wrong and should be pointed out.

          I’d rather have twelve people who understood the nature of what they were partaking in and the issues that come with it on my jury than one who stands up and says flatly that anyone who refuses to take part is unpatriotic, immoral, and should burn in hell.

          1. Allison (not AAM)

            US jury selection is not that random at all. There is extensive questioning and vetting of jurors prior to selection of those that would serve. Those lines of questioning cover the potential jurors’ thoughts, feelings, knowledge and potential prejudices based on their individual experiences. Each juror selected is approved by the attorneys to come up with an acceptable cross-section applicable to the individual case. Not just a roll of the dice.

          2. Anonymous

            Luckily, in the U.S., you always have the option of waiving a jury trial and letting the judge decide.

          3. One of the Annes

            Rayner, you’re being willfully obtuse about WTL’s post. I’m not sure who you’re arguing with.

          4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd

            says flatly that anyone who refuses to take part is unpatriotic, immoral, and should burn in hell.

            Ah, I was wondering where the communication miss was. Not that anyone needs my approval, but if you are talking about an individual being a conscientious objector, it’s not my business to get between anybody and their conscience doing what they believe is right (that isn’t harmful to other people).

            That is a very far cry from an employer who compels their employee to commit an illegal act because her jury service was inconvenient for the employer, which is what I was talking about.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd

              *employer who commits an illegal act trying to compel the employee to request an exemption that she didn’t want for no true reasons that she had

      4. Kerry

        I’m quite the fan of Law & Order UK, so I know all about the British legal system for instance. They have wigs, but otherwise it looks quite similar.

        This made me laugh way too hard. :D

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd

          I need this to come to Netflix. Badly. I have never been able to binge watch from start to finish, and I need it.

      5. Anna

        That’s less about the jury system and more about society. We have those prejudices as a society (and I would bet the statistics in those other countries bear out some of those societies’ prejudices also) and so they’re reflected in the jury system. It’s problematic, as is any judicial system, but it is by far a lot better than judge, jury, and executioner all being one person.

        I’m with Wakeen. If you’re a citizen of your country, voting and jury duty are two of the things you should absolutely not shirk.

        1. Jamie

          Does anyone know how they pick people to be called for jury duty?

          I have never been called and have been a registered voter for (ahem) a long time. My eldest son was called recently and my husband gets called almost every other year – and he has to go down every time and waste 8 hours to be immediately dismissed as soon as he states occupation.

          I do think it’s a civic duty, but people should not be out of pocket to fulfill it. My husband complaining about it silly, but as we’ve discussed here sometimes a little money is a big hardship to some people.

          In my area they pay you $17.20 per day for service – it costs a minimum of $28 to park downtown and public transportation would involve over 2 hours each way and multiple trains/busses. Also, employers aren’t required to pay wages for jury service. They aren’t allowed to be punitive, but they don’t need to pay you. Mine pays regular wages, my husbands pays regular wages less the 17.20… and boy, do I hear about how much he’s out for parking and aggravation each time.

          For lower income people who would lose those days wages and be out out of pocket on transportation money, it can be a very big deal.

          1. De Minimis

            I think in many cases they use driver’s license/DMV records, which is why a lot of the time you’ll have people called up who aren’t actually eligible [I know one time when I was called there were a lot of non-resident aliens who had been picked–they had driver’s licenses but could not be on a jury.]

            I’ve been picked twice, served on one jury. It’s definitely one of those “seeing the sausage made’ experiences. I learned quite a bit the one time I served…in most cases, they aren’t going to spend a lot of time trying to get the right jury. They just try to get the best group out of what’s available, and usually they will just do the best they can instead of drawing another group from the pool of jurors.

            It’s actually pretty hard to get yourself removed unless you have something that would automatically disqualify you with no wiggle room [like being related to someone in the case.] If it’s more of a grey area, one of the attorneys will probably try to probe and see if you in fact do have something that would mean you probably couldn’t be neutral. I know at mine [a criminal trial] one of the big questions was if you thought police were more honest than the average person, because the prosecution’s case hinged on police testimony. One guy said he thought they were, and he was grilled on this by both sides for several minutes. One poor woman had a father in prison, and the prosecutor made her cry before he finally asked to have her removed for cause.

            A lot of strategy comes into play, and neither side really wants to disqualify people [they are limited in how many they can remove] if they can help it, in case they encounter someone else later that they really don’t want on the jury.
            Also, you can’t really volunteer anything unless you are asked about it [unless it’s one of those major things like being related to one of the parties] , so if they don’t think to ask you something you probably won’t be able to tell them. You forget that it’s probably better if you don’t get picked, and you find yourself trying to look like an acceptable juror, or at least that’s how I was.

            Another thing was that you realize the prosecution doesn’t have a lot of resources and they will not do everything they can to win every case as far as exploring the evidence, getting witnesses, etc. They usually will put that time and money toward higher profile cases.

            The main thing though, was that once you’re in the jury room people will often totally ignore the instructions and anything else they were told not to consider, and just go on their feelings. I think many people made their minds up before the trial even began. We were deadlocked after 4 hours and they ended up just giving the guy a lot of probation.

            The best part was afterward, the judge kind of goes off the record and tells you a lot of stuff that she couldn’t say during the trial.

          2. Cath@VWXYNot?

            We recently had two people who share a two-person office get called for the same trial. They don’t live close together, and their surnames are far apart in the alphabet – probably just a coincidence, but we’ve all been speculating about what this might say about how they pick people!

    2. Pandora Amora

      > It’s illegal,

      Yep.

      > it’s immoral,

      Only insofar as it involves lying.

      > it’s unpatriotic,

      Questionably so. Serving jury is considered civic duty, not a patriotic duty, isn’t it? I’ve never sat jury and thought, “Hah, take •that•, enemies!”

      > it’s uncivic

      Unquestionably.

      > and it’s “I hope they burn in hell” territory.

      And now your hyperbole is leaking. If this is the low bar that one needs to cross in your mind to have an eternity of suffering and repentance wished upon them, then your Hell must be very well populated indeed.

      I question how carefully you wrote this response. Imagine this was •your• blog, and this “I hope they burn in hell” reply was your blog’s actual reply to OP.

      Commenting on a blog post should be about more than reaping karma, be it measured in upvotes or thread depth.

      1. Anonymous

        And what was the point of this comment? I see the message above as one of support for the OP, and disgust at an organization that tries to coerce it’s employees into doing illegal and unethical actions.

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd

        It’s an expression.

        I neither believe in a literal hell nor that, if there were one, hoping would get them there.

        Commenting on a blog post should be about more than reaping karma, be it measured in upvotes or thread depth.

        Oh, relax.

  6. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd

    P.S.

    I’m in NJ and they are reasonable about reschedules. I was originally called for an awful time period, right in the middle of our busiest season. It was easy to check a box for a one time exemption and then specify a better time. I think they let me pick the exact week I would be available, which was some months hence.

    While I have never asked an employee to do this, I think that would be a reasonable request for an employer to make, a reschedule.

    Pay your damn employees for jury duty and don’t take it out of PTO. All respectable employers do this.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

            Yo!

            I’m in the Philly bridge part so we say both “yo” and “‘sup” and E-A-G-L-E-S. :)

    1. The Clerk

      The thing is, I don’t think the manager wanted the OP to get out of it because this was a particularly inconvenient time, she just wanted her to get out of it altogether. So a reschedule would only postpone the problem. And you can bet that if the OP’s state doesn’t allow you to specify a good week, they’d be sure to pick the most inconvenient week possible and then she’d be out of delays.

      1. Anonymous

        Yeah. A small business can be hurt particularly hard if it comes at a bad time – asking to reschedule to another time in the near future doesn’t seem bad, and I think jury pools will be better if they were more flexible on this.

        OTOH asking to reschedule as a way to avoid jury duty by putting it off indefinitely is very wrong.

        1. fposte

          My experience is that actually they are pretty flexible, though I realize that jurisdictions differ. I had one call moved to a location that was accessible via public transportation, and when I asked to reschedule for business reasons in my current location they said, “Sure, when would you like to be called?” Can’t get much more accommodating than that.

          1. Ruffingit

            I’ve been called for jury duty a few times (never selected) and they’ve always been accommodating. One time, I requested a reschedule because I was taking care of a relative after a major operation. The recovery took longer than anticipated and the rescheduled date fell while I was still several hours away from the town I lived in and the courthouse. I completely forgot about the reschedule until the date had already passed. At that point, I just called the court clerk and explained the situation. They were very nice, let me reschedule again and I went on my merry way. So yeah, I’ve always had good luck with flexibility too in this area.

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd

        Oh, right, I agree.

        Rescheduling isn’t the same thing as getting out of jury duty. I got to pick my own dates, but there was no further option to get out of that commitment.

        You can also go before the judge to get out of a trial if your pool is called. IME, they are nice to people with actual hardships like elder care or child care or self employed people who would lose a week’s pay if on a trial, but have no patience with folks who try to wiggle out because they are too busy or important.

  7. Kerry

    I noticed that in Pennsylvania it is actually illegal to require your employees to attempt to ‘get out of’ jury duty before allowing them to go. And she said to me, “Well, that’s why we don’t write it down

    I’m really sorry for the situation you’re in, OP, and I think you’re handling it very well. I love this though. “Of course it’s illegal! That’s why we don’t put it in writing! Jeez, what are you, new?”

    1. Chinook

      “Of course it’s illegal! That’s why we don’t put it in writing! Jeez, what are you, new?” I would take this as a giant red flag with a little person shouting “run” in the middle of it. They want you to break the law but don’t want written proof that they requested it? What else do they expect you to mind read about? Clocking out and then going back to work? Accumulating vacation days that you should know better not to use?

      I would recommend looking for a new job quietly and, when you are ready to leave, report their unofficial policy regarding jury duty to the courts. They may not be punished but those letters may end up being ignored in the future.

      Lastly, if you are an industry or organization that has a confidential ethics holine that is not run internally, call it. Having worked for auditors, I have seen how these can be effective in bringing all sorts of unethical behaviour to light because this type of attitude is rarely limited to one issue.

    2. Mephyle

      This says it all. They are perfectly willing to have an illegal policy and they know they could get in trouble if it were written down, or phrased as a direct order. This is the culture of the company (“when someone tells you who they are, believe them”) and you wouldn’t be able to change it unless you got to be CEO or at least upper management*.
      Anyway, kudos for pushing back on the pay issue. They got trapped by their inability to put illegal policy in writing. When I read that far I expected that the next paragraph would be how they fired you for a trumped-up reason.
      ————
      *Discuss. Is this a fair assessment (that it can’t be changed from below)?

      1. Ruffingit

        Probably yes it is a fair assessment unless the OP’s manager and the others involved in the disciplinary hearing are doing this on their own. There are some CEOs/owners of companies who have no idea their managers are doing such things and would be appalled to find out. In other places, the directive to do such things comes from the CEO/owner. So it really depends on whether the manager in question is going rogue as it were or whether it’s truly a top-down company culture thing to be lying jerks.

          1. Ruffingit

            Seriously. Reminds me of Arthur Andersen and the Enron mess. Major accounting firm, should have known better…but yeah…

  8. Just Wow

    Why oh why could this not have come in BEFORE worst manager voting this week. This would have won for sure. What an evil woman. It is people like her that give banking a bad reputation!

  9. Not So NewReader

    So much for the business concept of giving back to the society that protects your business and allows your business to flourish.

    Odd, how the police/fire/ems never say “oh now is a bad time for us, can you call next week?”

    Serving our community or our government is never convenient for most people or businesses. To my way of thinking the management should have plans in place of what to do if someone has jury duty. OP covered all that for the boss and got no recognition for it.

    OP, from what you say this is a part of the company culture- weasel your way out of jury duty. Okay, next step in logic is to look around. What else are they expecting you to do that is not legal? Only you know the answer there- but eyes wide open. But from what you have written so far they have no problem playing head games.

    If my choices are A) stay and build up my resume with possibly getting mixed up in shady stuff OR B) protect my good name and have to go through some awkward explanations with interviewers then I will chose B- no problem.
    You have the added bonus of talking with some really savvy folks here that can help you find just the right words to say in an interview. Remember, if you seriously start looking for a new job your reason for leaving is that you were expected to do something illegal and suffered fall out when you did not meet that expectation (aka “deal breaker”).

    1. thenoiseinspace

      “Odd, how the police/fire/ems never say “oh now is a bad time for us, can you call next week?””

      Okay, laughed out loud at that one. “We’ve got an opening next Tuesday, want me to pencil you in?”

      1. Rayner

        “Sorry, we’ve got nothing until after New Years, what with all those fireworks and parties people have, you know how it is. Now, let me check the diary….I can do you for Wednesday on the fifth of January at twelve thirty? How’s that for you?”

        “My house is already burnt down.”

        “Oh. Shall I cancel the appointment then?”

  10. shhhh

    Don’t mention the illegal issue. One interviewer may see your side another may think you’re crazy or trouble. Just start looking and go with the new experiences, time to grow, BS….sometimes being professional is enough of a sign to others. Sane people know work situations can go bad, just be professional and LOOK for a new job – do not trust these folks…as they said you can’t believe what they say.

    1. Chinook

      Actually, I would mention the illegal behavior as a reason for wanting to leave as a way to screen out potential employers who would think your current employer is in the right. I would rather work for the devil I know than quit to work for the one I don’t. Atleast, in the current job, the OP is aware of where the pitfalls are.

    2. Mike C.

      I don’t think it’s terrible to say “my current employer instructed me to dodge a jury summons, and I was uncomfortable with that instruction”.

      1. KellyK

        No, it’s not. It’s an extremely reasonable thing to be uncomfortable with. The problem is that you can’t tell in the interview whether the interviewer is 1) reasonable enough to agree with that and 2) likely to believe your version of events.

        (Personally, I’m torn on whether I’d say it or not…probably depends very heavily on how many interviews I was getting and how quickly I needed a new job.)

        1. Laufey

          But if the point of getting a new job is to get away from a manager that wants to the OP to dodge jury duty, then she probably wouldn’t want to work for an employer with a similar mindset. Goes back to interviewing working both ways.

  11. BrandyB

    Wow. What a TERRIBLE situation. Not only is this person a control freak but apparently likes to play games. Pick any office you want (but you better pick the one I want you in!). Lots of people get out of jury duty (you better get out of it or we’ll punish you!). I definitely think trying to find something else would probably be in your best interest because this kind of person will only find new ways to make your job miserable. Good luck!

  12. Brett

    If anyone else is caught in this situation, forget going to HR and the employee handbook.

    Go to the judge. Judges hate this, and will straighten out that manager very quickly. Just let them try to retaliate when a pissed off judge is looking over their shoulders for the next couple of years. The “potentially litigious” black mark tends to be off set by the “potentially has a judge looking out for them” mark.

  13. Ruffingit

    This is so completely and totally ridiculous. Jury duty, in my mind, is a privilege. So many people think it’s a hassle, but I’m glad we have a system where we can assist with justice. However flawed the system may be and we can argue about that for hours, I’m just saying I’m glad we all have an opportunity to participate.

    Your boss has massive issues. She is perpetuating illegal activities in trying to get you to shirk jury duty. Also, even if you had tried to write a letter of exemption, I seriously doubt you would have been exempt. I saw nothing in your letter indicating that you met any of the typical exemption requirements so what then? Would your boss have said “Well, you didn’t write the letter good enough or you should have lied and said…”

    GET OUT. GET THE F**K OUT NOW! These people are insane. Stop thinking you need to put in another year. You do not. Leave as soon as you are financially able.

  14. ChristineSW

    I agree with everyone else here – don’t try to stick it out. Your instinct of looking elsewhere after vacation is spot on. Your manager is knowingly violating the law? Not cool…that’d be a deal breaker for me.

    I used to think Jury Duty is a hassle just by the perceptions. I’ve even tried to get out of it the two times I’ve ever been summoned on the basis of my disability but was denied the second time. They didn’t need me to report the next day (you call a special number the night before), but if I ever get summoned again, I’m not going to fight it because it sounds like a really interesting experience. Sure, it can get boring waiting around to get called (my husband experienced that when he was called), but I agree with RuffingIt above me–I think everyone should take the opportunity at least once. The OP’s boss just does not get how important Jury Duty is.

    1. Anonymous

      I’ve been on boring juries (twice I think) and on amazing jury (a grand jury dealing with some horrendous crimes, which was extremely interesting).

      In all cases it is very important to have a good jury. It’s literally an important civic duty.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd

      I’ve only been on one trial which I grumbled and bitched and moaned about but did it anyway because I believe it is the right thing to do.

      It was very interesting, and I stopped grumbling and bitching as things got underway. I was so impressed with my fellow jurors! They went through 180 juror potentials before the 12 of us were seated. I couldn’t believe how well the system worked, ’cause I’m old, and jaded (and from NJ :p) and don’t expect systems to work well.

      Emotionally. Exhausting.

      Criminal case. What a young mother was doing for the next five to 10 hung in the balance.

      I believe our verdict was fair but I am also glad I don’t have to do this again for another five years. (Five year exemption if you serve on a trial.)

      1. Elizabeth West

        I couldn’t do mine last January because I had just started a new job, and I couldn’t afford to possibly be tied up for weeks (when you go for voir dire, you never know what the case will be or if you’ll be picked). I wrote that down and got the exemption, but I won’t get it next time. That’s okay, but I really needed to be there while I was being trained.

  15. Anon N15526740

    “I was also told that I need to learn to ‘read between the lines’ and ask myself ‘what do they REALLY want from me in this situation’.”

    This is VERY common and exactly what happens when people get managed out, “laid off” and/or refused a job or promotion without reasonable explanation. You violated one of those hidden rules that companies cannot write down because doing so would put the company in legal danger or damage the company’s reputation. In fact, in some cases, companies say exactly the opposite of what they really want you to do to protect themselves and then penalize you for doing the things they paid lip service to (giving generic and often false reasons to justify this, of course).

    As unfortunate as it sounds, the key to success these days is to find the company’s hidden agenda (much of which might be unethical or even illegal) and religiously devote yourself to it. I’m just shocked that company went as far as *admitting* they do this.

    1. Anonymous

      Why would you rather religiously devote yourself to something illegal?? Is jail better than being laid off?

      1. Ruffingit

        I don’t think they’re implying that you should devote yourself to something illegal, just that it seems to be the way to success in many places and that is unfortunate. Personally, I’d rather be poor and NOT doing 10 – 20 in prison, but that’s me. I get what the poster was saying though, some businesses make participating in illegal activities a key to success. Sad, but true.

        1. Anon N15526740

          Absolutely, and this is why I’m avoiding employer-employee relationships like the plague. It’s a terrible concept anyway, with the employee’s interests being the *exact opposite* of the employer’s in many cases. Employees want to work as little as possible for as much money as possible, and employers wants employees to work as much as possible for as little money as possible, and they don’t want laws to stand in the way of that. It’s not a question of “when could there be problems?”, it’s a question of “how could there not be problems?”

          When Alison went in to the blogging/writing business, she had the right idea.

  16. Jessica

    Any boss who thinks he/she needs to “break” an employee to feel like a manager has issues that extend far beyond ludicrous. I have a hard time understanding how someone who is in compliance not only can get away with blatantly illegal requirements of her employees but can also get others in the bank to go along with her expectations.

    OP, I’d love another update on this one in a few months, if there are any updates to give. I really hope you’re able to get out sooner than later, because I’m worried about what other illegal and/or unethical expectations you’ll be asked to follow.

  17. Viv

    This sounds so much like one of the managers where I used to work.
    You are supposed to guess what they secretly want. One of her favourite lines is that we need to “take perspective on her point of view.” Basically, this means to get past her words and mind-read. I remember her asking one of my co-workers a question and another co-worker and I both looked at each other and thought, “Don’t answer! It’s a trap!” at the same time. When you are given decisions to make that aren’t really decisions, it’s not fair.

    1. Yup

      I agree, it’s not a real choice at all. The “guess how to please me” is a favorite ploy of people who come from a narcissistic point of view. Of course you’re supposed to be able to guess how they feel — aren’t you thinking about their needs and strategizing how to meet them all the time? No?? WHY NOT?!?

      OP, I’m sorry your boss is such a jerk. (Aside from all the passive aggressive garbage about the office, someone who can’t perceive why jury duty is important and isn’t willing to support their employees in performing their civic duties, is a total jerk. Full stop.) Are there any coworkers or other colleagues you can trust with this? It be helpful for you to have a sounding board for these things when she gets really awful, just to affirm your own sanity.

    2. Ruffingit

      I worked in a place where the owner/boss expected you to be psychic. I once told a co-worker that “If I was psychic, I’d be out making a ton of money off that ability, I sure as hell wouldn’t be working here.”

      1. Marcy

        I had one like that, too. She complained that I didn’t Cc her on emails that she wanted to be Cc:d on. I wanted to do the right thing so I asked, what kind of emails do you want to be Cc:d on? She didn’t know so I suggested that I Cc her on all of them over the next couple of days and she could tell me which ones she wanted to see and which ones she didn’t so that I could see a pattern and try to do as she asked. She agreed. After a day she came in and yelled at me for Cc:ing her on everything. She said I should just know what she wants to see. This is the same woman who told me I wouldn’t be compensated for travel time on business trips and when I had HR send me the policy that said I should be, she yelled at me and told me I didn’t have the right to talk to HR without asking her first and if I had asked then she would have told me I wasn’t allowed to talk to them ever.

          1. hamster

            I had a manager who asked me how would i prefer to talk about a task with her, video-skype , call , IM , or mail? I chose mail and IM. She got angry and told me she preferred video. I told her fine. She said i should have guessed what she wanted.

  18. Tara T.

    I agree with what Stella Marie wrote: “Take it from someone who has been there: situations and people like this only get worse, never better. Get out as soon as you can.” Do not worry about spending another year there for the experience, because you can get the experience somewhere else, and it might take awhile to find a new job even if you start your job hunt right away – just be quiet and do not let on that you are looking for another job while still employed, and hopefully you will get out in time (before being fired for some other excuse they might think of). They might try more tricks later, so it is better to find another job as fast as you can, while still employed there.

    1. Marcy

      Yes, I have been there, too. Get out now. I stayed and extra year for the same reason you are suggesting and I regret it. The stress was not worth it and I could have been in the awesome job I am now in much sooner had I not stayed. Life is too short to deal with that garbage.

  19. AF

    I just wanted to comment that this is so incredibly messed up on so many levels. And telling you that they want you to basically read their minds is utterly ridiculous. I hope you find something better soon, OP, and hopefully this employer isn’t anywhere near where I live in PA (this is a situation where I wish we could – just once – have a ” terrible company” list).

  20. TootsNYC

    I wan to know: who is “they”?

    “I was also called into a disciplinary meeting shortly thereafter that called my work ethic into question due to the Jury Duty.”
    Who was in this meeting? I’m wondering how far up the food chain this goes.

    “Then they took away 3 of my vacation days to “pay” for the 3 days of jury duty. I apologized for the misunderstanding and assured them that I meant no disrespect and was not trying to shirk any responsibilities.
    . . .
    I took it right back to them and asked why my vacation days are being taken away and is this meant to be a punishment for a misunderstanding, showing them the highlighted portion of the policy. They immediately back pedaled and gave me my vacation days back.”

    So, did this involve HR? This makes me think so.

    I’m just curious how widespread this problem of bad ethics is.

    I wonder, specifically, if the CEO knows this.
    Because to me it’s a major problem that someone who works in a bank and supervises someone who works on compliance would ever, ever say:
    “Well, that’s why we don’t write it down but we still need you to try to do that in the future.”

    But even more than that, actually, is this instruction for how to act in the future and the very clear “or else”:
    “I was also told that I need to learn to ‘read between the lines’ and ask myself ‘what do they REALLY want from me in this situation’.”

    If the CEO is not aware of this, I might be tempted to pull a “Nathan & Daniel & Bathsheba” tactic. Go to lunch with the CEO and in the course of the conversation tell him the story about “my friend at my old bank,” changing a few details, and talk about how this makes you wonder if someone in compliance should be subjected to that sort of “do what you think we want you to do, even if it’s unethical, or we will punish you by making your work life difficult.

    If he *is* aware, I might go to him and say, “This has made me question whether I can ethically continue to work here. It alarms me that I’m being punished–both clearly and financially, with the docking of vacation days; and in terms of making my daily life unpleasant by giving me a VERY short notice to move my office and absolutely no assistance in doing so–for acting in a responsible matter in terms of our state’s and nation’s laws. How can I feel confident in raising a compliance issue now, because frankly anything I raise will be a criticism of someone else’s work, especially my manager’s. Now I fear that I will be punished for not hiding something that was done wrong, or that for not making excuses for it and passing it along.
    “Don’t get me wrong–it’s not that I think I should never be criticized, or even punished, for doing the wrong thing. But to be punished for doing the -right- thing, the *legal* thing, is very alarming to me. It makes me wonder if I will damage my future prospects as a compliance officer by being associated with this bank. What other illegal and unethical things might be going on that I won’t see, or that I’ll be punished for raising?”

    But…considering how infrequently those sorts of conversations go well, it’s probably just more effective to look for work.

  21. TootsNYC

    As an employee I have offered, and as a manager I have requested, that someone write for a postponement. I’m pretty clearcut about it as a manager: “That’s going to be a horrible week–do you think you can get a postponement?” I would never, ever think ill of them if they couldn’t or didn’t want to. And I would also be really clear–the OP was told she could try to reschedule “If I wanted to.”

    I’ve also said, as a manager, “Oh, please don’t postpone–let’s get that out of the way, if we can, so that you don’t get tagged on some horrible week.”
    The OP’s company should consider themselves lucky! The OP got her jury-duty service out of the way at the cost of only 3 days, and the OP won’t get called again for a little while. (In NYC, I think you get 3 years’ break for being in the pool, and 5 years for serving.)

    I would assume that if it would have been a particularly week to be on a jury, the OP would herself have written for a postponement (and/or would have included that info).

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