I can’t do my new job’s required travel, family business disasters, and more

It’s five short answers to five short questions. Here we go…

1. I can’t do my new job’s required travel

I accepted a new position with a wonderful agency about two months ago. When the position was posted, there was no mention of extensive travel. If that was placed in the job announcement, I would have never applied, due to the fact that I have small children. During the interview, travel was not brought up and I didn’t ask (didn’t know I needed to, being that there was no mention in the job announcement). Now that I’ve been here for two months, this job requires extensive travel and overnight stays. I haven’t really voiced my concerns, just simply let my supervisor know that if I have to travel, I would need to be back at 5 pm the same day. So far it’s only been day trips, but the overnight travel is a huge issue for me. My manager has asked if I can go on an overnight stay next week, and I told her no and that it was not enough notice. She agreed but told me that I’m “required” in the future. How do I address this?

All you can really do here is be straightforward. Meet with your manager and say something like, “I’m concerned about the work trips you’ve mentioned. It didn’t come up during the hiring process that this job requires overnight travel, and I wouldn’t have been able to accept the job if I’d known that. I have young kids and am not able to do overnight travel. I really love the work here and hope there’s a way to work this out.”

Also, is there anything you can offer to do instead of the overnight trips? Covering for others who are gone? Some undesirable work that no one else wants? Be aware, though, that if travel is truly an extensive part of the job, they might not be able to waive that requirement, which could mean that the role isn’t the right fit for you right now. (And yes, it’s insane that they didn’t mention this during the hiring process — and particularly unfair if you left another job to take this one.)

2. Family businesses are a clusterfudge

A few years ago, my husband and I bought a business from a family member and kept the existing staff. I have 100% control of the business, since my husband has his own business to manage.

The problem I have is with the manager of my stores. He constantly phones his ex-employer, updates him on what’s happening in the business, tells him our sales figures, and complains about changes I’ve made in the business, to mention but a few. This has created problems for me in my marriage, since the family member regularly phones my husband and complains about the changes and decisions I’ve made. My husband who refuses to tell the family member to butt out, takes his frustration out on me. As a result, this has placed a tremendous strain on our marriage.

I need to mention that the business is now a thriving business. We have increased the number of stores from 1 to 3, our staff has doubled, and we have bought our own premises and quadrupled the sales. Surely I must be doing something right?

I have spoken to my manager, but the problem continues. Everything I do and say gets carried over. How do I handle this situation? It’s very frustrating.

Have you told the manager directly to stop sharing information about the business with the old owner? If not, do that immediately. If you’ve already done that, then you need to face the fact that you have an employee ignoring a direct instruction from you and not acting with anything approaching discretion — and that you need to let him go. You can’t have a manager who ignores explicit directions from you and blabs your business to others. And frankly, you need that family member out of your business, and that might mean replacing employees who still have ties to him, if they demonstrate that they’re not in sync with the new ownership.

However, you probably need to get aligned with your husband before firing this guy, because it sounds likely that there could be blowback from him and the other family member.

3. How to talk to a new employee about a dress code violation

Do you have any pointers on how to talk to an employee about their appearance? We have a casual dress code at our office (jeans are OK) but it isn’t clearly defined in a policy. Most people wear nice jeans and tops and we typically don’t have any problems. However, a new employee (this is her third day at work) came in today with dirty hair and a ratty sweatshirt. We may be casual, but management has complained about her appearance. I need to address the situation, but I know it will be awkward. Any pointers you might have would be much appreciated.

She’s a new employee, so you have an easy opening. You can say, “I realized we haven’t covered the dress code yet” and then go over it with her. (You can do this even though it’s not an official policy; there clearly is a dress code, even if only unofficially, and it’s a kindness to be explicit with her about what it is.) After that, if she violates the dress code, you can be much more direct: “Our dress code doesn’t include sweatshirts,” etc.

4. Explaining to staff that they need to let me know if they’re out of the office

I am trying to write a general instructions to my managers to let the know that if they are not able to maintain their regular schedule, it is a common courtesy to let their manager know. I sometimes have managers who schedule appointments during working hours. I understand that everyone has things to take care of that may occur during working hours, but I must be notified in advance. More frequently, lately I will call an office to find out that the manager will not be in until 12:00, when they should have been there at 7:30. Some managers never leave work, and some do. I am looking for a general instruction that I can send to all my managers.

Just be straightforward about what you want them to do. For example: “If you’re arriving late, leaving early, or leaving the office during the day for an appointment, please let me know in advance so that I’m in the loop on your schedule.” From there, if someone continues not to do it, talk to that person individually, just as you would about anything else that you wanted someone to change. (And keep in mind that different workplaces have different cultural norms around this kind of thing, so don’t be annoyed that you have to spell this out for people; just be explicit about your expectations so that they don’t guess wrong.)

5. Asking about future transfer possibilities

Can I ask an interviewer about future location transfer possibilities? I’m looking for a new job in my current (large) city. I plan on working and staying here for another year or two but then would like to move to an even larger city. Ideally my next job will be one where I can transfer to the office in the larger city when the time is right. I usually ask about growth opportunities but moving offices/locations feels slightly trickier and I don’t want them to think I won’t value the current position I’m interviewing for. Is there anyway to gauge the possibility of a move happening or how the company handles that sort of thing?

I’d wait until you have an offer — at which point they’ve already decided they want you. And obviously, make sure that you’re interviewing at companies that actually have offices in the city you want to move to.

{ 243 comments… read them below }

  1. Sara M

    I think you mean casual workplace, not causal. :)

    (This may be the letter-writer’s typo, but in case it’s yours, I think you said something about wanting us to mention it.)

      1. Jen

        This letter writer takes the blame for the typo. How embarrassing! Thank you for fixing it Alison.

  2. KarenT

    #1

    That really sucks! I can’t believe they didn’t mention you’d have to travel–what an oversight on their part!
    It’s sloppy hiring, IMO. Not only because it’s unfair to you, but also because if you have to leave over this they have to hire all over again.
    You could also ask your new manager about travel frequency. Hopefully it’s infrequent and you’ll find you’re able to stay in your position.

    1. A non

      I agree it is strange and unfair that they didn’t ask about travel. That said, if it is the type of role often associated with travel you also should have asked since this is clearly important to you. Question to the OP—what do you mean by “extensive”? Can you travel at all? Do you have a partner or spouse or other who can keep the kids occasionally? Almost everyone I know that has small children travels for work periodically (eg. One couple of night trip per quarter). Perhaps you can decide what amount of travel is feasible for you and propose that to your manager?

    2. Christine

      Agreed that this was sloppy hiring! I was annoyed a couple of years ago when I got to the 2nd round of interviews for a position only to find out extensive travel was required – and by extended I mean “you’d be spending so much time halfway across the country that we’ll just spring for a furnished apartment there instead of bothering with hotels” – and it wasn’t mentioned in the posting or the phone interview. I also have a small child, and I was prepared for the occasional overnight trip and the odd 2-day stay, but nothing that extensive. I can’t imagine getting that far past the hiring process only to find the travel requirements weren’t a good fit.

      1. Chocolate Teapot

        It also sounds as if the travel requirement is a major part of the position, not just that something has suddenly popped up requiring extensive travel.

        Even so, if it was such an important part of the job, I think it’s strange that it would not have come up during the interview process.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      We recently picked up an amazing hire under just these circumstances. She’d been hired away from an employer of 15 years, wooed, with no mention of travel. She’s 3 small children and once in the new job, put on a travel schedule that she didn’t anticipate and couldn’t handle.

      Lucky for us, she was friends with one of our longtime employees and we were able to pick her up. This was one of AAM’s exception circumstances — only 9 months in this position which, should she need her resume in the future, won’t look bad with 15 years in the job prior and hopefully a very long stay with us after.

      I understand why this employer wanted so badly to hire her away but what a mega fail to not go over travel requirements with anyone.

      The whole process was disingenuous. “Oh, Gladys, the Seattle install is blowing up. We need you on site there for a week, please fly out on Monday.” This was happening a couple times a month, every month. That’s a problem for anyone who wasn’t expecting those job requirements, let alone a parent of 3 children under 6.

      No travel in teapots, fortunately.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        p.s. I will say to the LW #1, though, that “back the same day by 5PM” is a huge limitation in a professional setting, especially one that is client based (you mention agency). I agree that if a job requires overnight travel more than a couple times a year, it’s on the employer to make sure the candidate is a right fit for that prior to hire but if you literally have to be back to the office no later than 5pm every single day, that’s something the potential employee should make clear for an exempt position, especially one that is client based.

        1. fposte

          Especially if by “back” you mean “back home” and can’t stay later even if you’re in town.

    4. Cat

      I feel like it depends – so far we know that in 2 months there’s been a bunch of day trips that she could get back from by 5pm and one overnight that the boss was willing to reschedule/postpone. That doesn’t necessarily suggest that overnight travel is really frequent. In a lot of professional jobs, a few (3-4 maybe?) overnight trips a year are pretty much assumed; if you absolutely can’t do it, that seems like something that is on the applicant to make clear before accepting the job.

      If this is the type of job where travel is almost never done, or if we’re talking two trips a month, then I agree that’s on the company.

      1. AdAgencyChick

        This. I don’t know what industry the LW is in, but in mine, the onus would definitely be on the candidate. I do assume when meeting with candidates that they know we have to spend time with our clients and that that sometimes requires after-hours or overnight travel.

    5. Lisa

      My boss once almost hired a guy for team Y when the guy was applying for team Z. Team Y and Z do completely different jobs, but my boss thought he would do well on team Y. My director told me that the guy would be hired for Y, and I was like ‘did anyone bother to ask the candidate what HE wants?’

      Some hiring managers think people are still looking to work for a company and thats all and that just being in the company matters, not what the work will be.

    1. MJ

      THIS, this was my immediate concern. OP, if your husband is truly not involved with the business then he needs to butt the hell out. He should not be second-guessing your decisions if he’s not involved — or if he has genuine concerns, then he should be raising those in a mature way. Holy hell.

        1. Ruffingit

          Completely agree and I would even go so far as to suggest that the OP and her husband should get marital counseling because it sounds like her husband doesn’t understand the concept of boundaries and of backing up his wife on her choices. He’s basically backing up the family member and not his wife. That is all kinds of screwed up and not at all appropriate. The business was sold for a reason. If the original owner wanted to be involved, they shouldn’t have sold it or they should have made it part of the deal that they get to be involved. They didn’t do either of those things so it’s time for them to move on and time for husband to support his wife!

    2. Kerry

      Seriously, this was my first response too! What is going on that it’s any business of the husband’s whatsoever, and especially why is the former owner calling the husband to complain about the way his wife is running her company? What business is that of either of theirs, and why on earth is the husband backing up this random person instead of his wife?!

        1. Kerry

          It’s most likely a family member related to the husband – his sister, or something. Still inappropriate, but also pretty understandable.

    3. Elise

      Agreed. A spouse is the only family member you get to choose. Any others are just inherited. You should back each other up on things.

      1. Chinook

        Add me to the voices of surprise that husband didn’t back up his wife. That being said, the manager has to go because they obviously are trying to undermine new management. You were fair and gave them a chance but they blew it. Keep in mind that it might be a relief to the other staff because she may be undermining you in other ways or blocking their attempts to follow your instructions.

        1. Ruffingit

          Absolutely, that manager should be fired. She does not have the best interests of the company in mind and needs to be dumped. Her interests appear to lie with the former owner so time for her to move on.

    4. FiveNine

      It sounds like she and her husband bought the business from one of HIS family members, who started the business and hired all the existing staff. I don’t quite understand all this shock at the huge mess (“clusterfudge”) and strife caused by the couple buying his family member’s business, only the wife being involved in running it, keeping all the exising staff — including the manager who obviously was close to the original owner — and the dynamics of that family member talking to his family member (her husband). These aren’t unknown entities or people removed from the situation under any circumstances. Not that I have advice on how it should be handled other than to deal with the manager directly.

      1. CAA

        Right. If the husband is half-owner of the business, and he’s also the son/brother/nephew/etc of the former owner, then he’s involved. The manager probably worked with the previous owner for many years and they could be close friends outside of work, so it’s natural for him to gripe about work to his friend. It’s a tough situation.

        I think the only fix would be to get the previous owner to understand that he should no longer know the proprietary information such as sales figures and that he needs to shut down any conversation where this info comes up. The manager also needs to be told not to share confidential information outside of work, and that if you hear this type of thing from the previous owner in the future, you’ll have to let the manager go.

        1. AdAgencyChick

          This is also how I read it.

          OP, is the manager ALSO a family member? Because that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms. :(

    5. Arbynka

      Yes. Btw – celebrating 15th anniversary today :) I think first thing she should do is sit down and have a talk with her husband.

    6. Anonsie

      Right? This isn’t just an issue with the employee or the family member, this is a Husband Issue all the way. He hears third hand what you’re doing and picks fights? That’s his behavior, it’s sure as sugar not the grapevine’s fault.

      If your husband acts like an ass when he hears complaints about the business, the solution to this problem is not to just stop the complaints to pacify him. You guys need some ground rules about boundaries.

  3. Sandrine

    My thoughts as well. I would be very mad (and righfully so!) if my husband were to behave this way.

    Especially since the business is actually thriving!

      1. Elizabeth West

        S’okay, I saw it. :) And I agree. He’s putting the whole thing in jeopardy!

        And sorry, Hubs, but you should be backing up your wife. Your first allegiance is to her.

  4. Poe

    #3: Absolutely talk to her about the dress code, but unless the hair is truly insanely revolting, please leave her “dirty hair” out of it. I shower every morning, and by the time I get to work, my hair is greasy and sweaty. Unfortunately, this is just how my hair is. I don’t bike to work or anything like that, my hair is just annoying. I spritz it with dry shampoo and brush it into a ponytail, but I know it does not look nice. So please, focus on the clothes before assuming things about someone’s personal hygiene.

    1. FiveNine

      It’s her third day and management at a casual office has complained about her appearance. Aside from that, grooming typically is addressed in even the employee handbooks of the most lenient workplaces.

    2. Jen

      I understand that sometimes our hair is just our hair and there isn’t anything that can be done. However, in this situation I have seen the employee with her hair done and it looks nice. Management also mentioned her lack of makeup, but I am not going to address that. I do not think women should have to wear makeup to look professional as long as they are otherwise well groomed and put together.

      1. ITPuffNStuff

        agreed 100% about the makeup. i realize it is a unofficial social norm for women to wear makeup (assuming this is in america), however an office can’t (or at least, in my opinion, should not) set a policy requiring something for just one gender, so unless the company wants to require both men AND women to wear makeup, it should not be in the dress code.

        1. Joey

          Not really. You can allow skirts and dresses for women and not allow men to wear them. Just like you can require men to wear ties without requiring the same of women. The key is requiring the equivalent social norm not the absolute equivalent.

          1. Anonsie

            You can do lots of things. You *can* require female staff to wear makeup, it gets challenged in court periodically but it’s not out and out illegal in most places as far as I’ve ever seen. You just really shouldn’t.

            And I don’t really think the clothes analogy is a great one, since having to wear specific clothes is kind of different from having to make your face look different by applying layers of colored creams. The latter is just a lot more personal and it’s weird territory to step in, gender issues aside. Even if it was common for men to wear makeup it would be weird and personal and not at all a good idea to make anyone do it when they wouldn’t normally.

            1. Lynette

              Exactly this. I would argue there is no male equivalent of make-up in our society. We all have to wear clothes, most of us have hair, but applying topical chemicals and creams to one’s face to improve aesthetics? That’s strictly an expectation directed toward women (save for our friends in acting). I can’t wait for the day when it is no longer legal or sensible to demand such things from women exclusively.

        2. Just a Reader

          While in college, I worked as a receptionist for a title company. They hired a second receptionist for me to transition my stuff over to when I went back to school.

          She was reprimanded for not wearing makeup. In Texas in 1997 this didn’t seem like a huge deal to my inexperienced self. Today, I am appalled.

        1. Kelly L.

          That reminds me of college and how there was a whole fashion of “trying to look really disheveled” in ratty sweats but with a full face of makeup that rather belied the supposed effortlessness of the look. :D

          1. Anonymous

            Your school had that too? I will never understand Southern sorority girls.

            I heard that at Ole Miss the girls go for runs with full makeup and hair bows.

            1. Lynn Whitehat

              They may GO for runs in full makeup, but in that heat and humidity, they surely don’t RETURN with makeup.

              I lift weights at the gym before work, because that’s what fits my schedule. I already have my makeup on, just because it’s simpler that way, but sometimes I wonder if my fellow gym-goers think I am ridiculously vain. :-)

        2. glennis

          I had a co-worker once at a relatively casual office who often wore sweatsuits to work. Sometimes sweatsuits printed with Winne-the-Pooh on them! She had children in elementary school, and I think sometimes she dressed to please them.

          She did not have to deal with public, but she was visible to some clients, although our clients were very casually dressed too. I sometimes met with clients who wore flip-flops and shorts, while I wore business casual.

          She was trying to get transferred within our larger organization, and if she had an interview she’d bring a change of clothes. One time, she got a call saying someone else had backed out of an interview, and could she come today – and she was wearing a sweatsuit! Needless to say, she didn’t get the transfer.

          I cannot understand a grown woman wearing a Winnie the Pooh sweatsuit to work.

          Still, it looked pretty unprofessional

          1. Lynn Whitehat

            At my company, one of the requirements to be promoted to a certain level is “must be client-presentable”. Which seems fair to me.

      2. Allison

        lack of makeup? not sure if sexist or just nitpicky. seriously, I could understand expecting makeup for offices where people get super dressed up for work, but for a casual environment I think most people would reasonably assume makeup is optional.

        Personally, I don’t think women should ever have to wear makeup. I do wear it to work and social gatherings, but it’s unfortunate that I’m not considered “put together” unless I’ve slathered some pore-clogging goop on my face.

        1. Judy

          I had a friend once who said that if her skin was as good as mine, she’d not wear makeup either. I responded that I learned early on that if I wore makeup, I’d have to wear more makeup to cover up my breakouts.

          I know I have unusually sensitive skin, and I also seem to have sensory issues (can’t wear bangs, they drive me crazy, take tags out of shirts, and makeup and nail polish make me feel like my skin can’t breathe) but sometimes I wonder how much of the breakouts on others is caused by the makeup.

          1. Anonymous

            My skin is amazing for the same reason! Constant breakouts until I stopped wearing the stupid stuff.

          2. ExceptionToTheRule

            I don’t do make-up either unless it’s a very special occasion. I’m bad at applying it, it drys out my skin, and causes break-outs.

      3. Sydney Bristow

        Thank you for not bringing up the makeup with her. I think that is an unreasonable requirement for any employer to have at any level of formality.

        1. fposte

          My guess is that if she polishes up generally the makeup won’t be questioned again, and that the complaint was just listing all the things that read “don’t give a damn.”

      4. Del

        Ugh, thank you for leaving off the makeup part of the complaint! There’s such a huge gap between “please wear decent clothes in good repair and practice basic hygiene” and “please spend a lot of extra time, effort, and money doing yourself up if you’re a woman, but if you’re a man it’s not an issue.”

        And to be honest, if someone’s not otherwise well-groomed and put together, makeup ain’t gonna fix it. It’s a nice extra, but the only jobs that should really require it involve some kind of stage and probably cameras, and then it’s a necessity for both men and women to avoid being washed-out ghosts.

      5. Anonicorn

        About a year ago, a relatively new coworker came to me upset that her supervisor said something like, “others in the department have told me you sometimes wear unprofessional attire.” She pressed for examples so that she knew which clothes not wear, but her supervisor could not give her specifics. I told her I had never noticed a problem with her clothes, but promised to let her know if I ever did.

        I’m sure you would not do this, but please don’t tell her that management complained; it needs to come from you, and she needs to know specifically not to wear that (or any other) sweatshirt. And maybe this is just me, but I would prefer to know I’m wearing the wrong thing the very day I’m wearing it, preferably the end of the day if it can happen that way.

        1. tcookson

          Our receptionist was recently called out on her attire because she wears clothes that are ill-fitting. They’re otherwise appropriate for our business-casual dress code (she wears slacks and sweaters, mainly), but they seem to be a few sizes too small for her. The sweaters are really tight and ride up, and the pants are too small and low-rise, so her underwear are visible at the back waistband, especially when she sits down. The person who corrected her later commented to others that, “clothes like that don’t look good on anyone, but especially someone her size.”

          1. Elizabeth West

            If your clothes don’t fit (either too big or too small), then you aren’t going to look very polished. But underwear hanging out is definitely not acceptable at work!

      6. The IT Manager

        Given that on day 3 the worker shows apparently looking different than day 1 and 2, I am going to speculate that she may have overslept this morning and rushed out the door without a shower (hence the hair), without makeup, and grabbing the nearest clothing.

        Yes, she needs a speaking to about dress code. Obviously neither is good, but you may need to convey that being slightly late is better than showing up looking unprofessional. Or that in a rush out the door she still needs to grab a nice-enough sweater to go with her jeans instead of a ratty sweatshirt.

        But its best that be addressed now, head on before she starts thinking that sweatshirts are appropriate since no one said anything to her that it was not.

        1. Elizabeth West

          I had a college classmate that worked for a large religious organization and she said they had to wear skirts. HAD TO. But their employment criteria strongly favors church members, and I think it’s pretty much the norm for most of them to wear skirts anyway. I would not work somewhere that made me wear skirts–about the only time you’ll see me in one is when I’m skating.

          1. ThursdaysGeek

            My neighbor is required to wear heels when her boss is in town. Heels for me would be a safety issue, and I’d probably try to aim for the boss when I was falling.

            1. glennis

              I once worked at an academic institution where we all dressed professionally but we had one rule – no thong-type sandals!

              I understood no flip-flops, but there are some very nice dressy thong-type sandals, so I asked someone why that particular rule was in place.

              She said that it came from a former manager (woman) who was creeped out by thong sandals in general. Her explanation: “What if there were an emergency and you had to brief the Chancellor wearing shoes that have something between your toes?”

              I thought, but didn’t say, “If there’s an emergency that’s so dire I’m the only person available to brief the Chancellor, no one is going to care about my footwear!”

        2. JoAnna

          Depends on the job. If you were hired as, say, a waitress in a Las Vegas casino, I could see requiring make-up as part of the dress code. Or if you were hired to work at the make-up counter of a swanky department store.

          But for an office job, especially one that isn’t customer facing, I would strongly object to being asked to wear make-up. I wear tinted moisturizer, and occasionally tinted lip gloss, but that’s it.

      7. Anonsie

        Whooo that’s a doozie. My hair is naturally pretty frazzy and it looks nice and sleek if a blow dry it, but most folks would not say the regular frazz is bad enough that I *must* blow dry it to look clean and polished at work every day.

        But someone who thinks I need to be wearing makeup might also be someone who thinks I also need to meticulously blow dry my hair, and it’s not really a reasonable policy. My hair is clean, it’s not tangled, and it’s smoothed out as much as it goes with styling products. I’m not a model, that’s acceptable to any reasonable person.

      8. Victoria Nonprofit

        I have to admit that I’m skeptical about the “dirty hair.” How could hair go from “nice and done” to unacceptably dirty between days 2 and 3?

        1. Jamie

          Easy, depending on hair type.

          I wash my hair everyday, of I skipped a day it’s not cute, if I skipped two it would absolutely be too gross to leave the leave the house.

          I did have a bad day where I used a new leave in conditioner without a trial run on a weekend and I worked it into conversation with everyone I spoke to, all day, so they didn’t think my hair was just dirty – even though I pulled it back into a clip.

          But thin, fine hair is really unforgiving if not meticulously clean.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit

            My hair is like this, too. But although I’m driven crazy by my second-day hair (it feels soooooooo greasy to me) I’d be shocked if anyone thought it was unprofessional to the point that I’d be talked to about.

      9. Emma

        The passive-aggressive part of me would retaliate against a complaint of no-makeup with some serious Tammy Faye Baker/Mimi from The Drew Carey Show face-full-o’-slap.

    3. Sally

      I think putting difficult hair back in a ponytail is neat and looks just fine and professional, but I’m guessing the lady the OP is talking about doesn’t do that. I don’t think “dirty” hair is as noticeable if you wear a ponytail.

      Off topic, I know, but I suggest Suave clarifying shampoo or T/Sal if your hair gets greasy on the scalp like mine.

  5. Chocolate Teapot

    5. One thing to be aware of is that the company may close its office down in another location, or alternatively, merge with a company which has a larger network of offices in various cities.

  6. Hugo

    #1, unfortunately I think I am in the minority here and believe you dropped the ball by not asking about travel during the interview process. I have always asked about travel possibility whether or not it was implicit in the job description. Also, while researching the company prior to the interview, you should have had a general idea of the services / products they offer, their customer base, and geographic territory, which should have led to you consider the possibility of travel. One last point, it seems that travel is such a burden for you that it seems like asking about it should have been at the top of your list of questions to ask in the interview.

    Hopefully when you bring this issue up with your employer you can work something out, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they highly frown upon your unwillingness to travel. If there’s one recurring theme in AAM, it’s that just about anything is legal for an employer to do as long as it does not involve discrimination-type behavior. So, perhaps to anticipate your next question, the answer will be “yes – an employer can legally ask you to travel even though they didn’t tell you about it in interviews.” Best of luck.

    1. Hugo

      I will add on to my post by saying YES, I do believe that the company should have been clear and upfront with you about travel.

      But, you need to cover your own bases and make sure the job is a solid fit for you. This requirement seems to be a big enough problem for you that travel possibility should always be a question you ask from now on.

      1. Rayner

        When you apply for a job, and it’s not disclosed to you that XYZ is a part of that job in the description, or the interview process, there’s no reason why you would ask.

        1. Judy

          I would say that many job descriptions for engineering jobs have specific sections for travel. They generally say anything from “very rarely” to “approximately one weeklong trip per quarter” to “50% travel expected”.

            1. BW

              But in some industries, by nature the jobs in that industry involve traveling. Sales, for example. Or like Hugo said, doing research on the company should shed some light on what the company does and what kind of territory it covers. So if a job seeker did research on the company/industry like they should, they might very well get an inkling of what might be required of the job whether it’s in the description or not.

              1. Rayner

                From what I can tell of the OP, they didn’t apply for a job that involved travelling, and perhaps when they did their research, they didn’t find out that the job they applied for involved travelling. AAM’s had letters before about bait and switch kind of jobs/almost bait and switch.

                You’re assuming that it was obvious in the job description/kind of implied by the job title because of the industry based on the word agency. There’s tech/design agencies of course, but there’s also government agencies, and temp agencies which would also imply no travel in the job by virtue of their name.

                Obviously, either the OP missed it, or, more likely, it wasn’t obvious.

                They likely saw X job, which had nothing about travelling in the requirements, had nothing about travelling implied in the title (like travelling sales man!), applied for it, and the lack of travel was never raised at interview, or in during the hiring process.

                ‘Do your research’ is a fine thing to say when the game is not changed midway through by the company . That’s my point.

                The company is at fault.

                Not the OP.

          1. Anna

            Based on the reasoning of “it’s up to the applicant to ask” where does that end? Travel, number of conferences a year, expected to purchase boss’ coffee and tea, clean toilets, etc. Should I ask about ALL that because it wasn’t mentioned in the posting?

    2. Matt

      I think this largely depends on the type of job. I’m a software developer and wouldn’t even think about my job could ever include travel. My father worked for a large clothing company decorating the shop windows at the stores all over the country, so it was clear that travelling was a major part of his job. The OP’s job could be anything in between.

      1. Piper

        This. Not every professional job requires travel. I’ve never had to travel for my job (until my current one, which is a specialized field within a field that does require some travel). But I would never have thought or assumed I would have had to travel in previous jobs I’ve held. It just isn’t standard for that kind of work.

        1. Lynn Whitehat

          I always ask, just in case. I also have small children and can’t commit to a real road warrior position right now. I think the company should mention it if it’s not obvious from the job description.

          The weirdest was a job that described the position as “75% travel”, but they meant going to client sites within the city. I don’t think of that as “travel”, and I wonder how many good candidates dropped out because of that.

      2. CAA

        She said she’s in an agency. Agencies represent clients, and it’s pretty normal to travel to visit those clients.

        In a small digital agency, even developers travel to visit clients occasionally. I also send developers to conferences where they’re gone overnight. In past jobs I’ve sent developers to provide support for booths at tradeshows; to China to work with other devs; and to the company’s HQ in Israel. Some of my leads and architects have worked with teams in multiple locations and have traveled every month.

        That said, I always ask during interviews if the type of travel I anticipate for their position is a problem, and if I will need to send someone to Israel, or anyplace else where safety might be a concern (misplaced or not), I specifically ask if the candidate will be able to go there. I don’t hire any developer who says this type of travel will be a problem, though I did have one who assured me things would be fine when she was hired and then refused to travel overseas later.

        1. Brett

          “Agency” also refers to government offices with or without clients. That is what I assumed the position to be on first reading. I would not read too much into the use of that word.

      3. Judy

        And I’m a software developer in a company that has engineering tech centers on 4 continents, in about 12 locations. When you move into the team I’m on, we make sure your passport is up to date. I don’t travel a lot. I only made one trip last year, and it was within the US. But one year I went to Italy once and Poland twice. One of the Poland trips was with 2 weeks notice.

        1. Jen in RO

          My current company (software development) sends programmers and QA analysts on location for weeks at a time, all over the world. My ex-company (also software development) sent people to the offices in the other countries. My boyfriend’s company (also software development) sends people to the HQ in another country frequently, often with only a couple of weeks notice.

          So yeah, it’s not *common*, but it’s not exactly rare either. I do realize we’re nitpicking and it was just an example, but still – travel is very often required in jobs that don’t seem like it from the outside.

          1. hamster

            Yeah, but they tell you about it. I worked in 3 software & consultancy companies that did not require travel for my developer position. In 5 years, not once. So, not impossible to make an assumption .

    3. Rayner

      Although it is the OP’s responsibility to discuss travel that’s reasonable like office commutes, when there’s no mention of travel in the job description, the title is what one could consider an office job, and it’s not raised by the interviewer either, it’s not the OP’s fault that it’s suddenly a surprise.

      When a job description says “office job, pay xy, benefits abc, hours 9-5” candidates apply based on that. It’s implied in that job description that it’s a single location job, that won’t require extensive travel. It may never occur to them that the position involved travel, especially when it’s not addressed as a concern before hiring.

      It’s unfair to turn around and say “Hey, XYZ is now a part of your job!” when a candidate would not have applied for that job in the first place, and it now places them in a position where they have to juggle an (almost) impossible balance of work and family, or quit.

      When the job involves as the OP says, “extensive” travel, it is the job of the company to bring it proactively – especially if the OP brings up in conversation that they have a family/young children/other important responsibilities like caring for relatives.

      Candidates can ask.

      It is the job of the company hiring to address it directly.

      See the difference?

    4. Marcy

      I agree that if it is that important to a person that they not travel then they should bring it up whether the employer does or not. The employer SHOULD bring it up but really the employee should ask before taking the job if it is such a problem because they are the ones who are going to have to deal with it.
      It won’t always help to ask, though. When I applied for my last job, the ad said 0% travel. I was sick of jobs that required travel and wouldn’t have applied if there had been any listed. Because I so despised business travel, I still asked during the interview if there was travel and I was told no. Guess what happened after I took the job? The travel was every fall for several weeks at a time all over the state. I left the job as soon as I could.

  7. hamster

    You would be surprised. My husband is a software developer and architect and his company made it clear that they expect overseas travel in the beginning of a project ( so maybe 1 a year, or once every 2years) . SO it is better for the company to point it out, especially if her job is inbetween

    1. Matt

      I think this goes to me since I mentioned the “software developer” … since I’m working for the municipal government of my home city, I doubt that this will ever be an issue for me at my current job ;-)

      1. tesyaa

        Even though you don’t, a developer working for a local government might need to attend professional development seminars or classes in another location.

        1. Judy

          Or attend sessions in the state capital to learn new requirements for systems you have to interface with.

      2. Windchime

        Yeah, I am a SQL developer for a company that has many locations, but they’re all clustered here in the Seattle area. The only traveling I have to do is for education/conferences, and fortunately because I’m near Seattle, I can usually get training locally if necessary.

  8. FiveNine

    After thinking about No. 2’s situation, I wonder if staff — and especially the manager who is giving so much information to the former owner — really grasp that management has changed hands? It’s a business that’s still in the family. It’s a business where all the existing staff remained on staff. What sounds like has happened is the original owner, a family member (almost certainly the husband’s family member, not the wife’s, because that’s who he is talking to) sold the business to his brother and his brother’s wife. But from the perspective of the employees, all that’s really changed (other than the growth) is that the original owner’s sister-in-law is now running things. I don’t know if all three used to be involved before, or if the name of the business name changed, of the if it’s a diner, for example, and everyone on staff and all the customers know all the family members associated with the business on sight, etc. It just might not be clear to anyone but the OP, her husband, and the former owner relative that the business is anything other than still the same family business and all the family members associated with it are still somehow involved.

    1. Joey

      I doubt it. There’s probably a sense of loyalty to the former owner. Or even more likely the manager preferred the old owner and is using it as a bitch session.

      1. Ann O'Nemity

        Or perhaps the manager and old owner are friends, and the old owner is pumping the manager for information.

        It sounds like the old owner is having some trouble disconnecting. Even if the manager is volunteering the information, the old owner is choosing to stay involved and bring the complaints to the husband – instead of keeping quiet or talking to the wife who is actually running things.

        1. Judy

          That was one thing that came to mind. Is the manager complaining to the old owner? Or is the old owner having social conversations with the manager and getting information which is then passed along?

  9. ITPuffNStuff

    the only thing i would add about the dress code is that it should be specific and objective. yes: “clean, dark colored jeans with no holes, tears, or frays”. no: “nice, professional looking jeans”. the latter example is too vague and open to interpretation.

    1. Joey

      Is that really necessary- to tell have a policy that says pants should be clean with no holes, rips, or frays? Its sort of like saying don’t come to work in your underwear- it should be obvious, no?

      1. Anonymous

        It should be but its not.

        I worked at a place that had “pants must be opaque” in their dress code. Because some woman wore clear plastic pants to work.

        1. some1

          Exactly. As styles change, some people assume if they buy jeans in a nice store and pay good money and they are washed, they are kosher for work. Right now the distressed purposely ripped look is in. When I was in high school, first part of college, huge elephant pants that were purposely too long and had ripped seams were in style and sold everywhere, but that doesn’t make them appropriate for work.

          Another issue that’s come up at my work is specifying that you can’t wear those tops that are in now wear the whole back is lace (unless you wear a sweater or jacket over it).

          1. Lizabeth

            I miss my elephant bells! But that’s about the only style I miss from the 70s :) And I wasn’t allow to have the hems in tatters…have to agree that they looked gross that way.

            1. some1

              I caught them when the style came back in the 90’s. Every pair of jeans I owned drove my mom nuts, “Do you want me to sew that hem for you?” “No, mom, I ripped the hems on purpose.”

          2. Sunflower

            A partner at my boyfriend’s company had his daughter come in as an intern this summer. She showed up in a bandage dress and 5 inch heels. The partner was so mortified he sent her home within 5 minutes of her getting to the office. A lot of people(esp recent grads) for some reason think if it’s something nice they can wear out, it also means they can wear it to the office. As I get older, I am getting more items that I can wear both out and to work but when I first got out of college I had maybe 3 things I could do either/or.

            1. EE

              Reminds me of a friend’s LinkedIn picture which is a glam professional-looking shot with a close-up of her heavily-made-up face and an effect of hair flowing in a gentle breeze.

              As far as I’m aware it hasn’t hurt her career at all, and she doesn’t look skanky, but to me it doesn’t look like it’s suited to a corporate image at all. (She’s an accountant early in her career).

            2. Anna

              We run in to this CONSTANTLY where I work. I work at a training program for young people and one of the many skills they learn is what is business appropriate. They think if it’s “fancy” enough to go out in, it must be “fancy” enough for work.

          1. Anonymous

            They were totally clear plastic maybe meant for rain wear? Not for showing everyone your booty in the office!

      2. Del

        Unfortunately, since a lot of jeans come distressed as a fashion statement, I do think it’s necessary to specify that those jeans are still not work appropriate, despite the distress being intentional.

        1. Joey

          See I disagree. If you’re unsure you take cues from those around you or ask. If you show up in clear pants we probably made a bad hiring decision.

          If you show up dirty and ratty we probably made a bad hiring decision. I don’t think anyone needs to be told to come to work clean and presentable.

          1. some1

            But Del’s specifically referring to people who it doesn’t occur to them to ask. They hear “jeans” and think whatever they pull off the shelf at the store should be acceptable as it is.

            I made similar wardrobe mistakes early in my career just because I didn’t know better. I thought dressing “nice” was all that was important. I had to be pulled aside and told, “Yeah, you can’t mini-skirts here” (so I stopped), but it doesn’t mean I was bad at my job otherwise.

            1. Joey

              Your first job in a professional environment is one of the few reasonable excuses. They key is you were inexperienced and attempted to dress professional. I don’t think anyone would conclude you put forth any effort if you showed up in a sweatshirt.

          2. Yup

            I worked with a senior executive who came to work every day in our “business professional” office (i.e., a step up from “business casual”) in shirts with stains, pants with torn hems, and alarming personal hygiene. He was a highly paid professional with 30 years experience and considered something of an industry thought leader. And he regularly met with clients.

            I agree with you in theory, but I’ve learned that people can have widely varying definitions of “presentable.”

            1. some1

              This. I went to a funeral a year ago held in a Church and was appalled at the number of people (over 30) I saw wearing jeans. To me, it’s the height of disrespect* that should just be assumed but obviously it’s not. And I knew one of the people and I don’t consider her to be socially awkward and I know she has been to funerals before.

              *Unless the deceased left instructions that they didn’t want people dressing up for their funeral or memorial.

              1. annie

                Good point – in general people have become more casual in dress in the last ten years. I also recently was at a funeral and at Christmas Mass and was pretty surprised at what people were wearing. (The funeral especially really bothered me, with people wearing sweats and ripped jeans, which to me is extremely disrespectful to the deceased.) I am about the most casual dressing person ever in general as my industry is sneakers, jeans and tshirts level of casual, but I do have higher expectations for certain special occasions, which I’ve learned many other people do not.

          3. Kerry

            You seem to be a big fan of inferring things – if you celebrate Christmas with your family, you must be a Christian; if you are a member of Toastmasters, you must (still) have poor public speaking skills; if you aren’t a good judge of appropriate attire, we shouldn’t have hired you in the first place! I find it’s usually more helpful to step back a little, actually *talk* to people before making grand judgements based on a single data point.

          4. Cat

            Dude, some of the most brilliant and competent people I’ve worked with have zero ability to comprehend appropriate dress unless it’s clearly explained to them. If we fired everyone who came to work once in inappropriately ratty clothing, we’d reduce our staff by about 50% and it would mostly be the top 50%. Much better to lay out what you want explicitly so that people can follow directions instead of expecting them to pull it out of the air.

            1. JoAnna

              When I was dating my husband, I invited him to attend a wedding with me. This wasn’t a casual wedding, either – it took place in a church and etc. He packed jeans, a t-shirt, and athletic shoes to wear. I was appalled and we had to go out to buy more appropriate attire (khakis, dress shirt, and tie – he was able to borrow dress shoes from his dad, thankfully). I know his parents raised him better than that so I have no idea what he was thinking.

              About seven or so years later, he decided to fly up for his cousin’s wedding – one that I inferred from the invitation was a very swanky affair. He was confused when I told him khakis wouldn’t cut it and he needed to wear his three-piece suit. He didn’t believe me until I called his aunt (the bride’s mother) and had her confirm that the suit was more appropriate.

              I love him dearly but fashion/social expectations relating to clothing are just not his forte.

              1. Kat

                I just went to a wedding as my boyfriend’s guest. Granted it was a small wedding, but you would be surprised at what people wore. Some of the bride’s female friends looked like they were going clubbing and the husband of a bridesmaid was in black sweats and t-shirt. The staff thought he had walked in off the street.

      3. Rayner

        It’s obvious to you, but to other people it’s not.

        People who are new to the workplace, who maybe haven’t been in it for a while (since the 90s or whatever when casual dress was in), or who are changing from one workplace culture to another, completely different one, might not have grasped that yet.

        People have different interpretations of what’s ‘professional’ and what’s not. Me? I live in jeans, and I think swanky ones with no holes and rips are absolutely suitably professional attire when I’m in the office.

        Other people? I might as well been dragged up from the bar half way through a bar crawl if I come in wearing jeans, to them. They think professional attire is trouser suits and blazers.

        So laying it out with pictures/specific instructions prevents bad interpretations, or misunderstandings.

        1. Joey

          Unless you’re fresh out of college, saw someone at work in a sweatshirt, or showed up to the interview in its equivalent I couldn’t buy any other excuse.

          1. some1

            My last company was jeans everyday. The head of AR often wore full distressed jeans and she was in her 50’s.

              1. Jen in RO

                Ok, got it, I wasn’t sure we were thinking about the same thing. I own the one I linked, and the more casual one would be perfectly fine in my office too (given it was clean etc). Working in a software development company is great!

          2. Rayner

            That’s you. And it’s not about buying excuses.

            Fact of the matter is, other people see the world differently, and sometimes, they need someone else pointing it out to them that what they’re doing is not quite on the ball for the company.

            1. Joey

              Would you have the same opinion if someone showed up to work in underwear or pajamas and house slippers?

              1. Rayner

                You see, what you’re doing is using hyperbole, which is kind of derailing the conversation.

                That is blatantly unprofessional.

                But what we’re talking about how sometimes, people can have different interpretations of what is and is not professional.

                Me in my comapny: jeans are professional! Wear jeans to the client meeting, please!

                Someone else in a different company: the only way to be professional is to wear pantsuits! If I see an ankle, I’ll shake a newspaper at you!

                Two different levels of professionalism, both totally acceptable in their own situation BUT not in each other’s.

                Sometimes, people might find it difficult to judge, not have experience, or, just in a moment of madness, go off in the wrong direction completely.

                Having a guide with pictures, and/or clear, specific, directions laying what exactly is and is not professional in THIS PARTICULAR SITUATION helps people grasp what are otherwise inexact, abstract concepts. It provides a model for them to either copy and then modify, or to say, “this is okay. That is not. Please correct it.”

                1. Joey

                  Pictures? what is exactly and not exactly appropriate? Should that be necessary?

                  The problem I have is that if instructions need to be that “dumb” what else will need to be that dumb for the employee to understand what to do? Should I have to clarify that the deadline means get it to me during business hours and not at 11:59 that night? Should I have to clarify that you shouldn’t smell disgusting at work? Should I have to clarify that you shouldn’t use pink pens at work? There are some things that are just expected.

                2. Rayner

                  Replying here, Joey, because there’s no reply button underneath your comment.

                  And you’re being hyperbolic again.

                  Pointing out exactly what is and what isn’t ‘professional’ in terms of dress, a term which is abstract and confusing for some people, especially people who have different cultural definitions of that term, with specific examples and instructions is not a bad thing. You may have people with learning disorders, with mental health issues, or physical disabilities who have to check that what they /can/ wear is suitable to wear.

                  It is easier for management to enforce rules when they have a standard to point at, and it is easier for people to check themselves against that standard.

                  You may find it easy to know what professional means. Congratulations. Other people – maybe not. Management have to cover all the bases, not just you.

                  And uh… Yeah. You should have to clarify what you said is supposed to be implicit.

                  If you tell me the deadline is X date with nothing else there then fine. I take you at your word. I’m a night owl, and I will be working on it up until 11:50 on X night if I have to because you told me nothing different. But if you tell me the deadline is 2pm on X date, then sure. I’ll get to you then. Because you clarified it, and absent any knowledge of cultural norms in this hypothetical work place, that’s what I’d do.

                  I’d clarify personal hygiene rules in the same space I’d clarify professional dress standards in the handbook/employee advice section whatever. Because it’s something that you want everybody to be on the same page with, and it’s not always intuitive. Different cultural expectations and experiences mean different things for different people, and implying things is not the same as explicitly laying out what is and is not acceptable. It’s been shown before that different people see things in other ways where people have written in about colleagues not showering/being hyperclean/overdoing the perfume/make-up thing.

                  I’d clarify that pink pen is okay in my office, because it is. I’m dyslexic. Want to write in pink? Go ahead, you’ll rock my world because I would be able to read it. But in another office, I’d clarify that if they’re doing a lot of writing/important work that had to be viewed by lots of people, black or blue ink only, please.

                  Nobody’s saying that you have to pin up a huge posterboard, or walk employees through a book holding their hand and dissecting every possible item of clothing/rule of personal hygiene/writing implements. But having a few examples in picture format, or a list of items which are not acceptable (especially in the case of clothing) is a real help.

                3. Elizabeth West

                  Joey, yeah, you sometimes do. Newjob (a huge company with offices all over the country) has a dress code page, with pictures. We are allowed to wear jeans, but t-shirts and sweatshirts have to be blank or have the company logo on them. (I successfully lobbied for a Geek Shirt Day, but they did it right before a holiday, so no one was here, dammit!)

                  My point is, it’s spread out enough and with enough variety in location that they feel like they need to define acceptable dress for everyone. And people have different terms for articles of clothing, especially in different places. But even a small company might need to do that, because not everyone understands that no, you can’t wear PJ pants to the office. Look at the crap people wear out in public!

                4. snarkalupagus

                  Not only do workplaces lie along a continuum from “anything goes” to “suit and tie every day,” but so do other behavioral norms.

                  People also lie along a continuum in terms of their ability to take social and environmental cues. Star performers in every other sense of the word may need specifics on what and what not to wear. Aligning the ability to discern those expectations along a “professionalism” dial isn’t particularly fair.

            1. CAA

              Sure, that’s totally fine where I work. It’s actually semi-dressy with the heels.

              Today, I’m wearing jeans (clean, dark blue, no holes or raggedy hems), flats and a short sleeved cashmere sweater. I’m fitting in pretty well.

            2. Jen in RO

              Those would be unusually *dressy* in my office! Most women wear jeans, and some of them wear skirts/dresses. I don’t remember ever seeing a pair of dress pants.

              1. Rayner

                Exactly my point. :D It’s really hard for some people to gauge what is or is not professional and this is a good example.

                Since for me, they’re shorts. Lovely, very glam, but belong nowhere in a work place.

                For you two – Jen in RO, and CAA – they’re totally fine in a work place, even dressy for Jen!

                Having that guide, or a list of what is or is not acceptable would absolutely be a boon in a workplace to get rid of confusing differences like that one.

          3. EM

            I don’t know…at my former company our dress was casual, jeans every day. I generally wore nice jeans (no holes, rips, etc) and nice-ish tops.

            One time the payroll processor (who had been working professionally for years) showed up in jeans, a Bears sweatshirt, and sneakers.

            I personally don’t think you should show up to work looking like you’re hanging out on your couch on a Sunday afternoon. But apparently she thought that was perfectly acceptable attire.

            1. Elizabeth West

              We have a variety of people who wear jeans + really nice sweaters and tops, people who dress up (business casual or slightly dressy), and people who wear jeans + company t-shirt (me, usually). Most of the time, no one even sees us. But the dress-up people give me the impression that this is how they normally dress.

              I love wearing jeans because I had to wear business casual at Exjob, and I got dirty handling samples and dealing with files and toner, etc. I hated that–I made sure that all my office clothes were washable. I didn’t want to spend money on dry cleaning all the time.

            2. Mints

              Yeah words like “casual” are almost meaningless. I mean, my interview suit is basically nailed down, but if someone says “dress casually” its still pretty unclear to me. It could be “going to the movies” outfit, “networking coffee” outfit, “Kennedys on Easter”. It’s still a huge variety.
              I mean, in regards to the question, I know new employees should err on the side over-dressed, but I don’t think it’s a failure in my work habits that I would appreciate pictures or really clear examples.

        2. Jen in RO

          I’m wearing ripped jeans right now… I’m not a big fan of the style, but I got them as a present, they look well with my boots, and luckily I work in a very casual office where no one minds.

          1. Rayner

            I love ripped, slightly baggy jeans when I’m trying to write things. I have no idea why but it just helps me get in the right headspace to churn out the words if my jeans are a bit baggy, ripped, and look like they’ve been thrashed to hell and back.

            Maybe it’s psychological XD

        3. Sunflower

          In college I had a seminar class where the only requirement was to show up in business casual. If you weren’t dressed up enough, you got sent home and no credit. Every class in my major, the professor would bring up at least once how to dress for work. Maybe this is why I’m so shocked when people show up to work( non casual offices) not dressed appropriately

            1. Sunflower

              I was a hospitality major and my college requires all freshmen to take a seminar. This class was required and we had industry professionals and recruiters come in and talk to us about what they did/their company. In my major, a lot of people come out directly into management jobs and have to wear a suit everyday at age 23 so I think it was partially prepping them for that

      4. Lora

        Yes.

        I’ve had jobs (in clean rooms and virology labs) where part of Orientation Week was a video about how you had to have a shower or bath, preferably shower, every day, how to lather up and rinse, how to shampoo, how to brush your teeth thoroughly and how often that was expected of you, what sort of cosmetics were appropriate (in this case, moisturizer, deodorant and chapstick because it’s a clean room), wearing clean clothes without holes or fraying, etc.

        Couple of reasons: in some cultures, people don’t normally wash daily and re-wear clothes several times before washing them. I include “World of Warcraft experts” in this category.

        Other reason, I’ve worked with those Thought Leaders and geniuses and so forth mentioned below, and if looking around at the culture you see your Director in a Hawaiian shirt, cutoffs and bowling shoes, his fingers perpetually covered in orange Cheeto dust, your lab-mate in cowboy boots and hipster pants and your supervisor in 10-year-old khakis, muddy sneakers and an MIT sweatshirt, you might not get a cue for what is appropriate *at your non-billion-dollar-producing* level.

        The above are all actual people, by the way. And entry level people there were actually supposed to wear khakis or very clean, non-damaged jeans, steel toe shoes and a shirt with a collar of some sort.

    2. Sunflower

      I also think an issue is as people have been at an office longer, they try to get away with more things. At my old job a couple summers ago, the company sent out an email re-affirming the dress code. The company slowed down a ton during the summer and people went out a lot right after work. Combine that with temperatures rising and there were a few eyebrows raised. Also, since the majority of these people worked 80 hour weeks, its well known they all try to date each other so some of the women would dress a little more provocatively if there was someone she had her eye on.

      1. RJ

        And sometimes it happens almost subconsciously. If you see enough people looking sloppy or wearing clubwear in the office, sometimes it’s easy to say, “Oh well, this top isn’t really too low-cut” or “these jeans are probably ok.”

  10. Joey

    How in the hell do you not talk about travel in the interview when its a major part of the job? I mean, unless you’re purposely leaving it out (which would be incredibly dumb) how do you describe the job and miss all of the duties involved in the trips?

  11. Mike C.

    Re: op2

    Fire his ass. He’s releasing proprietary company information and that’s a firing offense *everywhere*. You’re the owner, you’re in change, give this manager the boot.

    Then tell your husband that he needs to start supporting you.

      1. fposte

        Yes, my fear is that she’ll fire him, he’ll complain to the relative, the relative will put pressure on husband, and manager will be reinstated.

        I think she should still fire him, but consider putting husband on a PIP at the same time :/.

        1. Joey

          Not just families, but anytime it’s not clear who is in charge you’re bound to have these issues- multiple bosses never works.

          1. FiveNine

            And having ownership change within the same family, which can be confusing to employees — if they’re even aware or much care about such a change. From a low-level employee’s perspective, pretty much anyone in the family would need to be treated as a superior, even if you don’t really understand what percentage of the business if any each member owns. And for all we know, the former owner is using this to his advantage and directly asking the manager for the information.

    1. some1

      This is one reason why family businesses can be such a minefield. In most businesses, you fire an employee when needed and never think about it or see them again. The LW and her husband are tied to these people for the rest of their lives, so they don’t want to deal with anger from family members (and if/when this guy gets fired, I’d bet good money that family members who have nothing to do with the business will take sides and take it out on the LW). I know of a family business where three brothers bought the 4th brother out when if it was a non-relative the guy would just be canned. This happened almost 20 years and family relations are still strained.

      Another issue is that I just don’t think this guy is taking the LW seriously as a manager because she’s a relative. Of course, he should have got over it but it definitely something to consider.

    2. Sarah

      #2
      Ok, so you definitely need to fire the current manager. He’s being insubordinate and disrespectful and could potentially damage your business. I completely agree with everyone else though, that your husband’s response to all of this is the main concern for you. I would imagine this has been going on for a while for it to actually become a strain on you marriage? Which also means, he’s had some time to think about what’s going on and that its negatively impacting your relationship. It doesn’t sound like he’s come to you with concerns about what’s going on or how to rectify it. Maybe just sit him down and tell him everything and ask him to brainstorm ways to make you feel more comfortable with the business being run and maybe he’ll come to the conclusion that the manager needs to be fired on his own?

  12. Darcy

    #4: In addition to being straightforward about requesting notification, could you also share calendars? You can do this on both Outlook and Google which I believe are the most common platforms at most businesses. That way everyone on the team would be able to view each other’s schedules.

    1. Leslie Yep

      Since we all work remotely from each other, we send calendar invites when we’re going to be out of the office. In Outlook, we send them as all-day appointments set to show as “free”, so every day I can look at my calendar and see which of my teammates are offline. Works great!

  13. Joey

    Couldn’t you just tell the manager what I would say to any employee who doesn’t like the direction we’re going,”if you disagree with the direction we’re going you need to think about whether this is the right job for you? I need you to accept the decisions I make, otherwise this isn’t going to work and maybe you should find another job.”

  14. De Minimis

    #5–I agree with Alison. Wait until you’re there and have a feel of the lay of the land before seeing about transfer opportunities. I wouldn’t ask about it during the interview process, you don’t want to give them the idea that you’re already looking toward leaving, even if it’s for another location in the same company. I worked for a large company with multiple locations and once I got there it was fairly easy to figure out how the process worked and how likely it was for people to be able to move around.

  15. Brett

    #1 Okay, so I’m imaging I am looking at LW #1’s application for their next job. I see that they spent only two months at their last job. What do I see under “reason for leaving” or in their cover letter to convince me that they are not a job hopper and I should let them go on to the next step?
    Or I see this on their application in the interview, and ask “Why are you leaving your current position after only two months?” What do they answer?

    1. Joey

      Easy. I’m leaving because I wasn’t aware the job required extensive travel and I’m unable to travel. If it wasn’t for that fact I wouldn’t be looking for another job as its great in every other way.

      But really you wouldn’t conclude she’s a job hopper if her previous jobs reflected stability.

      1. Anna

        Exactly what I was thinking. If the applicant has two prior jobs with 5 years each at them and then suddenly spends two months at a job, if everything else on their resume and application looked good, it would be worthwhile to find out more about them.

    2. Rayner

      You look at their application, decide if they’re strong enough to go onto an interview without that blip (because it could be legit, for all you know) and then you ask them in the interview: “So I see you left your last job after two months. Can you tell me why that was?”

      And they answer something like, “Unfortunately, I loved the work but I couldn’t fulfill the extensive requirement due to having a young family. It wasn’t disclosed in the interview, and my manager and I weren’t able to come to an agreement about it in a way that balanced me and the business.”

      1. some1

        This is a good response, but it bears noting that the travel requirement wasn’t mentioned *at all* in the hiring process, not just in the interview, just to emphasize that the LW wasn’t a flake.

        1. tesyaa

          Even if travel was originally not intended to be part of the job, job requirements do change, sometimes shortly after a person has started. I don’t think the applicant would be blamed for leaving such a job.

        2. Rayner

          Yeah, it’s a good idea to mention that it wasn’t mentioned along the whooooole process, not just the interview. :D

          1. fposte

            I would disagree, because then this turns into a long thing that sounds defensive. “Why did you leave your last position?” “It unexpectedly turned out to require considerable travel, which was a hardship for me.” Unless they probe further, that’s the end–you don’t want to be rambling on about this.

            1. Rayner

              IDK.

              I like your wording, and I think that covers it but part of me says inside “But how was it unexpected?” and would try to clarify that before there could more questions.

              1. fposte

                And I’d advise against that–that’s defensive rambling that makes it into a bigger deal. When I’m interviewing, I don’t want my time to be taken up by you explaining how things aren’t your fault at the expense of more important issues about your fit with my organization. Tell me what happened, and if I want to know more, I’ll ask.

    3. AVP

      One short stay does not a job-hopper make…especially if everything else on their resume indicates that they’re not.

  16. PoohBear McGriddles

    Re #1, I think when interviewing it’s important to consider any deal-breakers. If travel over a certain amount is not acceptable, then while I think the company should have mentioned it, the OP still should have asked when it was not addressed in the interview process. Whether it’s travel, insurance or free coffee in the break room, different things have different levels of importance to different people. The employer may have incorrectly assumed that it was obvious that extensive travel was involved.

  17. S

    #3-
    One thing to keep in mind is that the condition of her hair and/or skin could be related to a food allergy. Years ago, I worked with a lady that had very small red bumps / blotches on her face / neck and her hair always looked greasy. Due to the advice of her doctor she began to avoid certain types of foods and WOW! Her skin cleared up (no more redness) and her hair was no longer greasy!

    1. Joey

      But if she didn’t show up like that to the interview or the first two days of work its probably not a medical condition.

      1. Rayner

        Sometimes, these things come up in a hurry, or she didn’t take medication for it etc.

        However, not much accounts for the sweatshirt.

    2. glennis

      On New Year’s Day, our septic tank backed up. Although we had running water, we couldn’t take showers, because large volumes of water caused the sewage to back up in our downstairs toilet – I mean back up and go all over the floor, and I mean – really – sewage.

      The plumber came the next day, but I had to go to work that morning. It was the first time in my entire life I went to work without taking a shower, and my hair was dirty and looked pretty lank. I’m sure at work they must have thought I’d had a pretty rough holiday!

      Fortunately, the problem was fixed by the time I came home that evening!

  18. Ask a Manager Post author

    This isn’t really connected to the OP’s question about dress codes, but it’s as good a place as any to post this fascinating article about a study that showed that dressing down can actually make you appear more powerful, on the theory that it shows you have social capital to burn:
    http://thebillfold.com/2014/01/dress-like-youre-too-cool-for-the-job-you-have/

    This has always been my theory and how I justify wearing jeans to meet with clients now; I’ve decided it makes them think I’m good enough to get away with it.

    1. ChristineSW

      I’ve always felt that casual dress–if neat–makes you more approachable than if you were in a traditional business suit. Could that be an underlying reason in those studies?

    2. Joey

      Well its much easier when you set the rules. An it really depends on your professional I know in public jobs and on camera dressing up commands more authority from what I’ve seen.

      1. fposte

        I suspect that there’s a bit of an algebra here, and that there are fields where it gets you more and fields where it hurts you, and who you are–appearance, age, race–can factor into this as well. The article mentions academics, and I believe the effect they’re talking about is quite variable in academics–physics has historically been suspicious of suits, while humanities and arts have in my experience been rather impressed by good dressers.

        1. Mephyle

          Yes, no doubt it helps you if you have other power signifiers, and harms you if you don’t. This also overlaps with the cultural norms in the profession. (I realize I’m sort of just restating what you said.)

    3. Mike C.

      That makes a whole lot of sense. When you see someone “breaking established social rules” and no one questions them, you wonder why, and then assume there’s a good reason for it. AKA they have some power over all the others.

    4. ThursdaysGeek

      I went to an R&D100 awards years ago, and everyone was in tuxes and fancy dresses. Except for a guest speaker, Dean Kamen, who invented the segway. He was in jeans and a jean shirt. And it definitely felt that way — he had enough prestige that he didn’t have to conform.

    5. Goofy posture

      Awesome! That’s what I do simply because I don’t have a full professional wardrobe, and my bosses also don’t understand professional dress codes… so they think I look great when I’m “fashionable” which is not the same thing.

    6. Elizabeth West

      I might wear jeans, but then I’d wear an office shirt and boots (or some other kind of dress shoe) with them. The beauty of jeans is that you can dress them up or down. And I second what ChristineSW says; I’m more relaxed around people if they’re not dressed to the nines (maybe because I have not been able to afford nice clothing before).

    7. Aimee

      My company recently relaxed the dress code for our sales team (those of us not in sales already had a relaxed dress code). Our sales reps used to be required to wear suits and ties; now the rule is to dress for the client you are meeting with. Suits and ties might still be appropriate at times, but they aren’t always.

  19. ChristineSW

    #1 – Hmm. Without knowing more about the position and how detailed the job announcement was, this one’s hard to judge. At first when I read the letter, I was like, “Wow, why would the employer leave out something so important?!” But in reading everyone’s comments, I’d say it really depends on the type of work in general; if you know that this is the type of job that requires face-to-face interaction of any sort, then it’d be wise to get an idea before accepting a position.

    That said, I still think the employer should’ve been up front about the travel requirements; it’s likely that they perhaps assumed the OP knew about it based on the nature of the job itself.

  20. First Time Here

    Re: #1, if you say “the employer never told me anything beforehand about extensive travel”, the employer could just as easily say in their defense “OP1 never told us anything about having small kids”. Not that what the employer did was right or anything, but I’m just sayin…

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Well, no :) Because kids aren’t relevant to your ability to do a job, and it would be illegal to make a hiring decision based on the fact that she has them.

      1. First Time Here

        Ok so how about, “Op1 never told us about having to be home at 5pm” instead then? (Whether she has small kids or not). It may be illegal for them to make a hiring decision based on her having kids, but it wouldn’t be illegal for them to make a hiring decision based on her having to be home 5pm…

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yes, if the OP must leave by 5 pm every day and she was interviewing for an exempt position, I agree that she should have asked about it in the hiring process.

          1. First Time Here

            Exactly, even though the job description didn’t flat-out say extensive travel, I still think OP1 should have asked “Is this a Monday-Friday 9-5 job? Or will I have to work overtime, evenings, weekends, other locations, etc.?” But ya, if they still said nothing about extensive travel even after she asked, I’d be peeved too if that happened to me

      2. Ann O'Nemity

        Is it illegal to base hiring on having kids?

        I know it’s illegal for companies to have different policies/practices for men with kids vs. women with kids. Then it’s about gender discrimination. But what if the company makes parent-unfriendly hiring decisions across the board?

        1. fposte

          There’s no federal law against it in an EEO kind of way, but federal employees are protected against such discrimination, and several states have legislation proscribing it.

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          Parenthood isn’t a protected class, but the EEOC says: “Questions about marital status and number and ages of children are frequently used to discriminate against women and may violate Title VII if used to deny or limit employment opportunities. It is clearly discriminatory to ask such questions only of women and not men (or vice-versa). Even if asked of both men and women, such questions may be seen as evidence of intent to discriminate against, for example, women with children.

        3. Joey

          You’d run into problems anytime someone took fmla for their kids. They’d assume you weren’t hiring them because they used fmla. And women would probably consistently assume its gender discrimination (even if its not) so you’d likely face EEOC complaints all the time.

    2. Joey

      Are you suggesting everyone who has kids should make that known in the interview? And are you suggesting that everyone who has kids can’t travel?

    3. JoAnna

      There are tons of reasons that people might not want to travel other than having small kids. Having small dogs or other high-maintenance pets, having a live-in parent with an illness who needs care in the evenings/nights, a crippling fear of flying, a regular volunteer commitment (e.g., teaching Sunday School or religious ed on a weekly basis at their place of worship, and so on.

      That’s why travel requirements for jobs should be explicitly spelled out in the job posting itself, so no one who does not want to travel or can’t travel bothers applying (and if it’s not in the posting for some reason, it should be brought up during the interview process so these kinds of misunderstandings don’t happen). It sounds like the OP was applying for an office-type job that generally does not require travel (as opposed to a job as an airline pilot or a salesperson with a multi-state territory), so she applied under the assumption that any travel requirements would have been specified in the job posting or disclosed during the interview process.

      1. Anonymous

        I don’t have kids but I wouldn’t take a job that requires extensive travel, it’s just not something I like or want to do.

  21. BadPlanning

    For OP #2, has she tried sitting down with the manager and telling him basically what she told us here? Tell him that she knows he is unhappy with her new 100% control over the business, but that the business is doing well (but skip over the parts where the old manager calls her husband and causes grief at home). Remind him that the company is growing and providing secure jobs. Ask him what parts makes him unhappy so they can be addressed. If there are things he wants to change to “Go Back to How they were before” — point out how they were wasting money/hurting staff/etc. I’m guessing he’s currently blind to the fact the OPs improvements have saved (or preserved) his job.

    The husband part is another whole ball of wax. If he doesn’t realize that he should be on the OPs side, maybe remind him there’d be less stress for him if he deflected/didn’t engage the calls that he’s getting? “Oh, can’t talk now, gotta go.” or “My wife is handling it, Disgruntled Manager should talk to here. I’m not involved in the day to day to have a good opinion. Gotta run.”

  22. some1

    #4: Please follow Alison’s advice, and don’t do what a former boss of mine did when I had to be talked to about my work clothes early in my career. She prefaced the discussion with “People have complained about your clothes.”

    My boss was right, but it was much more difficult for me to accept it because it made me feel like people had been talking behind my back since I had started and being angry about it. So if your impetus for talking to the employee is because Management complained, don’t mention that part to her, because it’s irrelevant and makes you look like you are passing the buck. Just use the language Alison mentioned, “We have a dress code here, and this what I need you to wear.”

  23. Rayner

    #2.

    Your problem is part with the manager, and part with your husband.

    You have to make sure you and your husband are on the same page. If you are in control of the business, your husband has to butt out when it comes to the business’s day to day runnings, and he has to tell the family member that you are in command, and to stay out of the business.

    Also, I’m concerned about you and your husband. If he takes out his frustrations on you, it’s not healthy – whether it is physical, mental, or just getting mad at you and snippy. You’re in a marriage, and that’s not okay for him to punish you for his family member’s frustrating behaviour. Especially, if he won’t step up and deal with them.

    It’s your decision to make, but seriously. Talk to someone. Just get an outside perspective.

    As for the business:

    The manager has to be fired.

    You have an employee who is damaging your business, revealing inner dealings, and compromising you professionally. It is not a fixable solution, and if they have been told before to stop it (as I suspect you have said) then they’ve had their warning.

    Get. Rid. Of. Them.

    They will kill your business. They will damage your reputation. They will continue to discuss your business with someone who is no longer supposed to have access to it. They will drive away clients if they find out what’s happening.

    Nothing good will come of keeping them. They are a toxic employee.

    And continue to cull the employees as much as you can to get rid of people who are ‘loyal’ to the manager/old boss. You don’t need people internally sabotaging/making for a terrible work environment in your business.

    Also, if you haven’t already, make the rules clear to other employees/new ones. “No contacting XYZ people, any information about the business’s finances etc is strictly confidential, please be discreet with such information, don’t answer their questions.” It sounds looney, but frankly, the whole situation sounds bonkers.

    1. FiveNine

      It’s a family business where ownership has changed within the family. Employees may or may not know this, and even if they do know this they may not understand or care what percentage of the business is owned (if at all) by which members of the family. I understand where your advice is combing from, but frankly, it’s extreme and not taking some of this into account, and almost setting OP up to keep the business but lose the family.

      1. Rayner

        Little bit strong language, maybe, but I think it’s not that bad.

        The OP does basically have a choice, but not between family/business. It’s about what’s good for the business, and her family versus what isn’t. She can either stand up to the Old Owner, ditch the ridiculous manager, and reclaim her own business as hers, (as she talks to her husband about how it’s not cool how he’s been treating her), or let the manager potentially ruin her own reputation, and keep on running to the Old Manager, who will call her husband, and drive a further wedge between husband and wife, and wreck the business.

        Because you bet those employees see this drama playing out and they’re either amused or frustrated by it, but it’s not giving them positivity about the business.

        Kind of a crappy situation to be stuck in but… that’s the choice I see.

        *eyebrow raises her own post*

        Mmm. YMMV on that.

  24. PoohBear McGriddles

    Sounds like OP#2’s husband is the main problem here. If he were to back up the OP by telling the ex-owner (who appears to be his kinfolk) to butt out and letting the manager know that his wife is 100% in charge, this problem would go away. The manager would be on notice that if he keeps undermining her, he’s gone, because she will not put up with his insubordination any longer and her husband will back her decisions.

    As it is, I think if she were to fire or discipline the manager, he would wine to the ex-owner, who would then read his nephew/son/whatever the riot act. The husband would then take it out on his wife, because that is how he rolls.

    1. FiveNine

      The fact is, though, the husband co-owns this business — and it’s a business that apparently comes from his side of the family. I know OP said she runs it 100 percent of the time, and that he has another business he’s focused on, but it’s not at all clear he would agree the family business is nobody’s business but hers to discuss and run.

      1. A.Y. Siu

        I think people have really made it clear what the right thing to do is… it’s just not necessarily the easy thing to do.

        Whether the husband theoretically co-owns the company or not, the wife is the one running the business 100%, so he either needs to start running the business with her or butt out completely, and that’s how she should put it exactly, “I know you legally are part-owner of this, but you don’t have to run both of these businesses. If I’m running this business, then I am running it (not you). If you decide that you want to co-run it and spend less time running your other business, let’s re-strategize. But if I’m running it, I don’t want to hear one word from you about how to run it or how someone else thinks I should run it.”

        He may push back. He may be a jerk about it, but that ultimatum should stand. And I don’t know much about their marital situation, but honestly if my spouse was acting the way he appears to be acting, I’d file for divorce. Running a business is tough enough. Not having a spouse to support you in those decisions… horrible.

        And, yeah, you have to give a similar ultimatum to that manager. “I know you’re telling ex-owner about what’s going on with my business. That’s not cool. The ex-owner is the EX-owner. Not the owner. I’m the owner. If you can’t keep proprietary company information within the company, I’m going to have to let you go.” After that, you give him one strike, and then you fire him.

        Again, not easy, but both are right thing to do. Best of luck!

  25. Sunflower

    Question to all those in casual offices- Is it very obvious when someone in your office is interviewing for new jobs? My office is business casual(no jeans, men must wear a tie). The other day a co-worker was dressed especially nice and people were gossiping all over the office that he must have a job interview. Curious if the same things go through your office or what you do if you have an interview before/after work

    1. Josh S

      I have friends who would do a Tie One On Tuesday (TOOT) where they wear a tie to work (and encourage everyone else to as well). Often casual/fun ties would make appearances, but some folks would go all out with bow ties, 3 piece suits, etc. It gave variety to the week, allowed them to wear more of their wardrobe, and potentially made it so that formal dress wasn’t so awkward (“I have been thinking it’s Tuesday ALL DAY LONG. Funny that it’s really Wednesday” feeling that we all get sometime, etc).

      Other friends have done a Casual Friday and a Formal Monday. They dress nice on Monday as a way to ‘gear up’ for the start of the work week, feel good about themselves, and ‘compensate’ for Friday’s casual wear.

      In all cases, these are completely informal employee-run things. No manager pressure involved, and even only minor pressure among peers of the “Hey! This’ll be fun!” sort.

      When you’re constantly varying your wardrobe, the formal wear doesn’t stand out so much for comments like that.

    2. Jen

      Yes, it can be obvious. My last place of employment was also very casual. I had an interview one day and chanced dressing up. The owner called me out on it, I confessed and ended up getting a raise. Very, very lucky. I stayed with the company another year and then when I started looking again I would leave my interview clothes in the car and change in a gas station bathroom. Not ideal, but it worked.

  26. Sunflower

    #3 Are there certain people in the office that dress more casually than others? I had to take a skills test for my job and the woman giving me the test was wearing jeans and a fancy tshirt. When I was offered the job, I assumed it was a casual work office and debated wearing jeans my first day. Thankfully I didn’t and I realized once I got here that it was far from it. I’ve seen men get yelled at for their shirts not being pressed enough but people in a different department come in wearing glorified sweat suits- and neither of our roles are customer facing so it’s really confusing. Maybe that could be the source of it?

    1. KellyK

      Yeah, that can definitely be a source of confusion. It might be that different roles have different expectations, or it might just come down to individual manager preferences.

  27. FiveNine

    Really what I was trying to get at is that the husband very well might specifically think of the relative as an adviser, might have bought the business with that thinking between the two of them as an “of course” thing, wouldn’t have been bought or sold within family like that otherwise, oh I don’t know how to convey what I’m trying to say here.

    1. fposte

      I do actually get what you’re saying, and given the dynamic described I could see that he and his wife might not have been clear with each other on expectations for levels of authority over the business.

      And I’ve known plenty of family businesses that would let the business fail before upsetting family, so I don’t think we can assume that the husband’s family agrees that the business should be the priority.

  28. Jesse

    LW #3: For your employee, put together a look-book of appropriate type outfits for your office. At my previous job, my co-supervisors and I were considering doing that for our student employees. As students, we understood they didn’t have money for professional clothes. But we still needed them to adhere to a look standard.

    I wish someone would have done that for me. I worked at a job where I was constantly told some part of my outfit wasn’t appropriate. Often it felt like I was getting picked on for the way I dressed, but to me there wasn’t anything wrong with the outfit I picked out. I was told “business casual” but that didn’t translate into “Slacks (not jeans), button down, sweater, cardigan or jacket, and professional shoes. ”

    Deciding what shoes was the worst. I was on my feet all day, and I wanted to wear supportive and comfortable shoes. But they couldn’t have any bright colors, and had to look “professional.”

    A look-book would go a long way to explaining what you want to see, as well as something she can compare her outfits against.

    1. DUH

      Why should they provide a “look-book”??? How can someone not translate “business casual” into “Slacks (not jeans), button down sweater, cardigan or jacket, and professional shoes”???Most people aren’t stupid enough to not know what “business casual” means exactly that. If you actually need a “look-book” for something that simple, then there’s something seriously wrong with you. Have fun with that!!! Cheers!!!

      1. KellyK

        Business casual is a vague and nebulous term. It can run the gamut from “jeans are okay as long as they’re not ripped or distressed, but no sweats or t-shirts” through “nice looking khakis and a polo shirt” to “dress slacks and a blouse or sweater, but not a full suit.”

        And shoes are complicated. (Well, women’s shoes are complicated. I’m given to understand that for men, there’s pretty much sneakers and dress shoes with no middle ground in between.)

        I realize you’re just here to be obnoxious, but, no, it’s not actually that simple.

        1. Jamie

          Absolutely it’s vague. Up thread someone mentioned their office is business casual and the guys wear ties. Ours is business causal and the guys wear button downs or polos. If someone is in a tie outside of the Christmas party someone is going to a funeral after work.

          For me women business causal is dress slacks and sweaters, tops…not shirts or jeans. Some places business causal means dressy, but not a suit.

          It has one of the most variable definitions of any phrase out there.

  29. Cassie

    I work in an academic dept at a university and our dress code is pretty casual (what am I saying – we don’t have a dress code!). Some professors wear t-shirts (not collared) and shorts; staff wear t-shirts although few ever wear shorts.

    As much as I like the casual dress code, I’ve personally tried to not dress too casually. I look young and am sometimes mistaken for a grad student. Anyway, I do wish there was some guidelines for the student workers, though. I get that wearing short-shorts or having your black bra straps peek out from your white tight-fitting tank top is “fashionable” but it is not work-appropriate. When I was a student worker, I enjoyed wearing t-shirts and shorts (appropriate-length) so I’m not saying students need to dress business-casual or anything.

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