my CEO wants us to wear pants with the company logo on the butt, dealing with a bad reference, and more

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

1. My CEO wants us to wear pants with the company logo on the butt

Instead of printing company t-shirts, my CEO wants to be unique by making company pants — with the company logo displayed on the bum! I thought he was joking but he says he is 100% serious. As a woman with dignity and class, I am wholeheartedly against the idea. I don’t think I would even have to list my reasons. Still, I conducted a random poll among several women in the company just to be certain I’m not alone. Not surprisingly, they all protested vehemently. My CEO is travelling at the moment and will be away for the next few weeks, so my response to him would have to be via email. How do I tell him in unequivocal terms that this is a Very Bad Idea?

(For your reference, I am in my 20s and I am the operations manager. My CEO is also in his 20s.)

“Hey Bob, I think we need to reconsider this. I wouldn’t be comfortable wearing these and feel pretty strongly that it’s inappropriate, and a quick survey of other women on staff indicates that that sentiment is widespread. At a minimum, you’re going to get a lot of people unwilling to wear them, but beyond that I think we’d be making a lot of employees uncomfortable. Can we stick with shirts?”

2. Talking to my boss about work travel when I need a second airplane seat

I never travel for my job and the last time I flew for personal reasons was 4 years ago. I am obese, I did not need to buy an extra seat then (not even a seatbelt extender, though it’s close) and I think I’m about the same size now. However, I’m big enough that I think it would be a very close thing and I may be challenged at check in.

Yesterday, my boss alerted me to a possibility of travel in a week and a half to see if I would be available. I have a coworker who wants to go and only 1 of us would be selected. My coworker has more experience with our primary job (20+ years compared to my 1 year) but I have experience (10+ years) in another function that would also be helpful. I think it would be a great experience, but I would also be fine with being left behind – I’m not uninterested by any means but I’m also not passionately eager to go. It is not a for sure thing, there may not be room in the budget to include either of us at all. If it pans out, how should I approach the prospect of possibly needing an extra seat on the airplane? I don’t want to leave it to chance – not only because it would be embarrassing at the gate but also if my going would incur extra expense then maybe my coworker could go instead. My boss is bigger than I am, so I imagine he would have taken an extra seat into consideration. Should I wait and see if I get the offer to go before asking or bring it up now since it may affect the financial consideration?

I think the fact that your boss is larger than you could make this (hopefully) easier to broach. I’d just be direct and matter of fact: “Hey, I’d be happy to go on this trip, but I wanted to mention that I’m close enough to the airplane seat size limits that I might need an extra seat. I wanted to give you a heads-up since I’m not sure if the budget would cover that. If this means it would make more sense to send Jane, who I know would really to go anyway, that’s totally fine with me.”

3. Calls that come in right before I’m going to lunch or leaving for the day

Sometimes I get a phone call right before lunch or when I’m getting ready to leave work for the day. Sometimes the phone calls are quick, but usually I end up having to stay on the phone for 10 or 15 minutes, and may need to spend more time processing whatever request the phone call was about. My lunch is unpaid, and I don’t get paid for working beyond my normal hours. I’m already expected to be at work 15 minutes before my starting time to get my computer/programs up and running, so all this unpaid work time is adding up and starting to bug me.

Is it reasonable to just ignore the phone if it rings right before lunch or when I’m shutting everything down to leave? If I can’t ignore the phone, what’s a good way to end the phone call as soon as it goes past my paid time? I’ve tried mentioning that my shift is ending or I’m going to lunch and could only talk for a minute, but this really doesn’t do anything to discourage people from keeping me on the phone and asking that I process something for them “because it’ll only take a minute.”

(Note: The phone calls aren’t emergencies. It’s stuff that someone could email me about or call about again the next day.)

I wouldn’t ignore a call just because it might eat into your lunch break; you’re better off just pushing your lunch break back by an equivalent amount. (In other words, if you intended to take lunch from 12-12:30 but a call keeps you on the phone until 12:10, then take lunch from 12:10-12:40 instead. It’s not unreasonable to let a call go to voicemail when it comes in right before you’re leaving for the day though. (And I suppose a reasonable person could argue the same about a pre-lunch call, but I think you have more flexibility with those.)

But regardless of how you decide how to handle this, assuming that you’re non-exempt (which it sounds like is the case), you need to report all the time you spend working, including time when you’re supposed to be at lunch or supposed to be gone for the day — and also including that extra 15 minutes when you arrive early in the morning. The law is very clear on this; you aren’t legally allowed to waive being paid for that time, and your employer is legally required to pay you for it.

4. Should I send a cease and desist letter if my former boss is giving me a bad reference?

I am concerned that my recent former boss may give me a bad reference. I am aware that there are third party service providers that will do a reference check for you. If the results show that the information is negative, I would try to work out something with my former manager. If that doesn’t work, I am aware that a cease and desist letter may be a final alternative. Is this a wise thing to do or will it cause me more problems that it is worth?

Well, it’s not illegal to give a bad reference unless it’s deliberately inaccurate. So a cease and desist letter only has weight if they’re lying about you. Your better bet is to try to work something out with your old boss directly.

5. What do I say when referring a friend for a job?

I would like to refer a friend of mine to an opening within a different department at my company. Is there a general way to handle this sort of thing, i.e., do I send an email to our HR person and let her know and attach his resume?

I checked in with my friend and he has already applied to the position and mentioned that I let him know about the opening.

Yep, email the HR person and the hiring manager (the person who will be the manager of the person being hired), attach the resume, let her know that he’s already applied, and explain why you think he’s worth taking a look at.

And of course, make sure that you really feel comfortable vouching for your friend — you don’t want to recommend someone whose work or work habits end up reflecting badly on you. If you’re not really sure about your friend’s work, state that explicitly — as in, “We’ve never worked together so I can’t vouch for his work, but I can tell you that he’s ___.” (Fill that in with whatever good things you can say about him, like that he’s smart, passionate about teapots, thoughtful, or whatever it is that makes you think he’d be a good fit.)

{ 274 comments… read them below }

  1. Knitting Cat Lady

    Oh, #1. Considering I read pants the UK way, that is as underwear, this was even more hilarious.

    I don’t get the logo on the butt thing. It seems to imply ‘our product is shit’. Why not somewhere on the leg?

      1. OP#1

        I am in an Asian country that officially uses British English but colloquially we use American terms too. So when I said pants, I really meant trousers. Haha.

        Thanks for mentioning that it implies ‘our product is shit’. I shall use that if he argues after I tell him what Alison said. As for why the butt and not leg, who knows. I think he really wants to stand out — but he’s taking it way too far!

        1. Kelly L.

          It was a trend in sweatpants in the US for a while, mostly on college campuses and then Victoria’s Secret picked it up for their Pink line that kind of borrows from college fashion. It doesn’t so much mean “our product is shit,” but it does tend to read as sexualized and kind of young. Are these pants meant to actually be worn at work, or are they meant for your spare time (in which case you might be able to just stuff them in a drawer and have them never see the light of day again)?

          1. Tenley

            I think it started with Juicy on the butt, which stars wore because it was by Juicy Couture, then was copied for the mainstream. OP, you could also argue it’s so 2008 and passe.

            1. Kelly L.

              I first noticed it in 1995 with sorority letters. I feel old but kind of privileged to have seen it in its grassroots form ;)

              1. Mallory Janis Ian

                Not to be all hipster or anything, but I first noticed it in 1987 when I was in high school and our cheerleading squad go sweat pants with their names on the butt. The worst part was that one cheerleader had a two-letter name, so her name was right in the butt-crack.

            2. fposte

              That’s what I was thinking, among other things–it looks really dated. It doesn’t make the company look sassy and fresh, it makes them look like people like me who only discover memes years later.

            3. Anonsie

              Agreed– the fact that a lot of people hated it from day one aside, it’s definitely old hat now.

          2. UofSCalum

            It was really classly on the college campus of my city. We’re the Gamecocks…so lots of tiny shorts with “cocks” on the butt. Though perhaps I shouldn’t talk since I did have the t-shirt…..

            1. TotesMaGoats

              Got to love those “get cocky” shirts. And in other news, what the heck is Spurrier doing???

            2. sjw

              Helloooo fellow Gamecock! The inappropriate possibilities for our logo wear are just endless. And yeah … Spurrier …. what happened?

              1. T

                They’re not all just possibilities. I’ve heard of some extremely offensive actual T-shirt logos (mentioned by one of my professors who actually had one when she was a student there). It was beyond R rated.

            3. Karowen

              Off Topic, but I’m from NJ – When my sister first toured the school, her tour guide stopped in front of the Russel House and started talking about how you can’t buy those “You can’t lick our cocks” shirts here, you have to go to Addams for those. My mother about had a heart attack – she had no idea that USC was the gamecocks. And now she has two former cocks for kids!

              1. Liz in a Library

                My favorite are still the old unofficial swim team ones, but I actually worry it would get my comment sent to moderation. Haha!

                I’m surprised with how many former gamecocks there are here!

            4. Leigh

              Haha, we’re allowed to wear team jerseys/shirts/etc., on Fridays in my (business casual) office. So many of my Gamecocks shirts are not work appropriate, though.

              PS: GO COCKS!

            5. UofSCalum

              I had no idea Alison had so many Gamecock readers. If y’all are in town we should have a happy hour :)

              1. Cathy

                It would be hysterical if my kid’s college had those. She went to Austin Peay (pronounced “Awstin Pee”) and of course their rally cry was “Let’s go Peay!”

          3. the gold digger

            I wondered about parents letting their young daughters wear these shorts and sweatpants – do they really want a sign saying, “Pedophiles! Look here!” on their children?

              1. LV

                I doubt that wearing sweatpants with words written on the butt makes a kid more likely to be the victim of a pedophile.

                1. Anonsie

                  I am also highly doubtful that creepers forget to be creepers unless there is something highlighting your derriere to remind them.

                2. TL -

                  I don’t think bottoms are inherently sexual and writing on them, especially children’s bottom’s, doesn’t make automatically make them sexualized.

          4. Felicia

            It was cool when i was in highschool about 8 years ago to have a word on your butt. So it makes me think of 15 year olds. It was also big at camps :)

          5. tomatonomicon

            I believe you meant to say “it’s so two thousand and late,” ahem. ;)

            I work on a college campus. Pretty sure the bookstore sells pants with our name emblazoned on the butt. Would not be caught dead in them.

            1. Oh and also

              When I first started at the University of North Texas, I was warned that in college, they are a bit more racy and adult, so when I walked into the campus bookstore and saw shorts with the UNT logo blazened on the butt, I had to walk over and check to see if they had added another letter in front of it.

              1. Pennalynn Lott

                UNT alum here! When I started there, it was NTSU. After the name changed, the biggest question on campus was whether or not the school’s radio station was going to change its call letters, too. (Note: West of the Mason-Dixon line, radio and TV stations begin with the letter K, not W).

                1. HQB

                  I think the demarcation line is the Mississippi River, actually; the Mason-Dixon line runs along the southern border of PA, mostly.

            1. Nanc

              So at events, where you stand behind a table? Or circulate? If you’re behind a table unless there are mirrors behind you and the company name is in reverse lettering who’s going to see it? And if you’re circulating, and someone strikes up a conversation after seeing your company name on your posterior . . . are they really going to be asking you about your awesome products?

              Full disclosure–I’m over 50 and I work around around the tech industry. We see all sorts of strange things with company logos on them but if I stopped by your booth at a trade show and you all were wearing your logo on your asses, I’d move along. Some things are just not professional.

              Good luck with getting your boss to change his mind. Maybe you could research and offer him some better options?

              1. OP#1

                I’m pretty new so I’ve never been involved in an event but I imagine it would involve both standing behind a table and circulating.

                I honestly do not know what he is thinking.

                1. Nanc

                  OP, if you’re not already a member (and if you’re in a marketing role) you might check out Spiceworks and follow the tech marketing forum. They had a great thread a couple of months ago on best trade show swag/how to stand out. You could also ask this question there, although I would couch it in terms of “we’re trying to figure out how to stand out with company attire and someone came up with this, which obviously won’t work” since your profile will mention your company. The nice thing about their tech forums is the tech purchasers often weigh in on the marketing questions and that insight is awesome!

                  Good luck!

        2. OhNo

          If you need another point to argue, you could also say it is leaning into sexist territory – giving men an excuse to stare at women’s behinds, and implying that women are being treated as billboards, rather than people.

          Not that the sexist argument necessarily holds water in this context, but there was a bit of a to-do at my college about male-led groups making the “female option” for group clothing pants/shorts with words across the butt for this very reason.

          1. T

            I have to wonder if that’s the point. I don’t see any way to give the CEO the benefit of the doubt on this one.

        3. That Marketing Chick

          I can’t help but think he’s asking for a sexual harassment suit if an employee wanted to point out the their CEO is purposely drawing attention to the rear ends of his female staff (the logo will draw attention to that area). Although I guess logo placed in the standard location of left front chest on a shirt sort of kills that argument. Who wants to wear corporate-issue pants, anyway?!?! They will NEVER look good/fit everyone on your staff. At least with shirts, there’s a better chance.

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      I’m in the UK and read it the American way, I never even considered it would be underwear, mainly because nobody (the public) would see it…unless it was something like models or lifeguards

    2. ZSD

      I was kind of wondering whether the boss intends to get sweatpants, which would be the usual thought for pants with words on the bum, or try to look more professional and go with khakis…with a word on the bum.

      1. OP#1

        He didn’t specify what kind of pants, but I know that he would expect us to wear them at events promoting our product, so I think he meant khakis. Khakis with a word on the bum is so weird.

        1. T

          I’m so curious what kind of product you sell/manufacture. Does he intend for both men and women to wear them?

          1. OP#1

            We’re a tech company. We’re young and fun and I think he thinks logo-on-the-bum screams young and fun. And yes, both men and women are supposed to wear them.

            1. The IT Manager

              OMG! This get weirder and weirder. I would not be caught dead in sweatpants/shorts emblazoned with a word across my butt, but it was trendy for young women and teens who wanted people to stare at their butts that fashion has very unfortunately filtered down to too young girls who are being sexualized in prepubescence.

              However I do not think I have ever seen a man wear such pants. And I have never seen it in khakis or anything not like a stretchy sweatpants material.

            2. Anonsie

              Ok I’m going to be entirely honest here, I find this hilarious enough that if I worked there I would be at the front of the line to wear these completely absurd pants.

            3. Mints

              Khakis totally blows my mind. I was assuming sweatpants, which is weird for work, but obviously exists and is pretty common as casual wear. Branded butt khakis is SO BIZARRE

              1. Kelly L.

                Yes! That is not even a thing. It’s not just work-inappropriate, it’s a monumental fashion crime! :D

              2. Elsajeni

                It’s so bizarre that it actually makes me wonder if he’s thinking of something more sane, like a smallish embroidered logo on the back pocket or something.

            4. dawnofthenerds

              My sister worked at a golf course, and the manager wanted to get tshirts printed with the name of the their bar/kitchen, ‘The Nineteenth Hole.’ The watering hole, eh? Which is a pretty clever name for a bar, but once my sister pointed out that putting that on the almost exclusively female employees who have to bend over a lot? Fucking stupid. Fortunately, the manager agreed, he just didn’t think it all the way through.

            5. INTP

              I was going to question whether you could create a legal argument by insisting women should not be required to wear what the men aren’t required to wear, because I thought there’s no way that the men are wearing sorority girl butt pants, but this kills that idea!

              Maybe you can suggest that he hire some “booth girls” to wear the pants so that none of the actual employees has to sexualize themselves. I generally abhor the concept of booth girls, but at least it’s preferable to employees who didn’t sign up for a job that involves advertising via their butts being forced to do so.

    3. EvilQueenRegina

      I’m in England and read it as underwear at first and wondered how on earth the CEO would even know you were wearing them! It makes more sense now.

      1. MJ

        Best thread I’ve read in a long time. Professionally any logo or writing on the backside of trousers/pants is out of the question. A cool t-shirt or well fitting denim button up shirt with logo on the sleeves and/or back could be cool. If done right, they could even be something you could sell if the artwork is awesome. Good luck.

        1. OP#1

          I LOVE that denim button up shirt idea! Officially going on my list of alternative suggestions. Thank you!

  2. Lillie Lane

    #5: +1 on Alison’s advice about being able/not being able to vouch for your friend’s work. Many moons ago, my coworker and I jointly hired a guy that came highly recommended by another coworker. The employee (nicknamed “Captain Granola” by my husband) turned out to be a disaster — insubordinate among other things. The coworker who recommended CG admitted afterward that he only knew CG from an intramural soccer club. We didn’t trust that coworker for any more employee recommendations after that.

  3. AnonAndGrouchyForThis

    OP#1, I am a woman with dignity and class who is kind of offended that my wearing a pair of pants with a logo on my ass somehow takes that away from me.

    1. PK

      I get where you’re coming from… but I do think the location is rather problematic in other regards, particularly in that it could make employees uncomfortable when someone is “reading their butt,” I’d argue more so than if the logo was across the chest. (And if I recall correctly, there was a question from someone who had to wear a name badge on her chest, and was uncomfortable with people having to read it.) There’s nothing wrong with choosing to wear something like Juicy sweatpants, but if someone doesn’t want to draw unnecessary attention to their butt, they normally have the choice not to wear Juicy sweatpants… in this instance that choice is taken away.

    2. EngineerGirl

      Offended you may be, but a lot of people feel that advertising on the rear is a class-less thing. You may project dignity, but others aren’t receiving it. They’re too busy rolling their eyes.
      As much as we wish it were not true, people can and do judge others by their appearance.

      1. TL -

        I – and most people of my generation – actually wouldn’t give a damn if a logo-clad butt was at the gym or mall or in a park.

        ( I’ve always thought that dignity and class was about how you treated other people, not about what you wear, anyways.)

        That being said, completely inappropriate for professional wear and the OP has every right to object. If someone walked in Juicy sweatpants, their manager would have every right to talk to them about appropriate professional wear.

      2. Traveler

        Yeah. I think I agree here. The logo on butt thing reads as very immature and juvenile, even attention seeking (which I presume is why misguided boss thought this was a good idea). This would be one of those things where rightly or wrongly, Grouchy, I’d be thinking wow Grouchy is awesome despite some weird taste in clothing. I would feel the same way about any adults who were imitating trends that were popular when I was in high school – spiky bracelets and wallet chains come to mind.

    3. UKAnon

      For me it wouldn’t be an issue of dignity and class so much as preparing myself for all of the inevitable comments which come with people thinking that they are now allowed to look at – and therefore comment on – one’s posterior.

      (I’m guessing you are customer-facing, because I really can’t see a need for them otherwise!)

      1. Kelly O

        See, this is my thought on the subject. By putting words or logos there, you are inviting people to look in that general area. I don’t want to attract attention to that, and often go to great lengths to wear jeans (specifically) with zero pocket adornment – which is not always easy.

        If someone came to me and said I needed to wear a pair of pants to work with my employer’s logo on the rear end, I would politely decline and start sending out resumes. Sorry, not sorry, but there are just some lines I’m not comfortable crossing. This would be one of them.

        1. Mister Pickle

          This. I’m one of those people whose eyes are unconsciously drawn towards text. It has on occasion been embarrassing: I’m on a bus (for example), my mind is on autopilot and I’m trying to puzzle out the word or words on someone’s shirt or pants, and then I notice they’re giving me a dirty look.

          And I swear I’ve encountered people who are wearing a shirt with a lot of text on it (a quote or something) but they don’t connect “people looking at my chest” with “people trying to read all those words”.

          1. TotesMaGoats

            It’s always been my opinion that if you don’t want people staring at your chest/rear/various body part then you probably shouldn’t put writing on it. Same goes for visible tattoos. I’m going to try and read it and look weird doing it.

          2. Kelly L.

            I sometimes forget what shirt I’m wearing and then get really confused. I have some snarky t-shirts, and I’ll put one on, forget about it, and then wonder why everybody in the mall is scowling or grinning at my chest. WTF, did I spill something on myself? Then I realize, no, they’re agreeing or disagreeing with my shirt.

      2. College Career Counselor

        If you’re customer-facing, they’re never going to see the logo. (shows self out)

        For the record, I think this kind of jokey (someone else said “young” and “sexualized” which could also be the case, depending on the product) placement of a logo is not particularly professional or effective. Yes, you’ll garner attention, but it’s likely to be of the smirking sort.

        1. OhNo

          I just burst out laughing in my cubicle, thanks for that one. :)

          And I agree about the placement being less than professional. There is a reason that brand t-shirts are the go-to option for this sort of thing, because that is widely viewed as the most appropriate option. Anything else is going to look less “edgy” and more “weird”.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      It’s context.

      Logos located in the tush area is youth oriented. It’s common for sports, schools, universities, youth oriented brands/outreaches (like liquor brands). (As is logo underwear which is an actual thing.)

      If you give that option to someone in the right context, it’s “hey cool”. Out of context, it’s asking a woman to wear something intended to drive eyeballs to her tush which is “hey, not cool”.

    5. Daisy

      I am a woman with neither dignity nor class, and I’d still be embarrassed to have writing on my arse in a professional context. Just tacky.

    6. SH

      AnonAndGrouchyForThis – There’s a real problem in my city (NYC) with street harassment. (One incident escalated recently with a woman getting her neck slashed). Wearing “Teapots LLC” on the bum would just make the problem worse. This may not be a safety issue in different cities/countries though.

      1. Snoopy

        Agreed. I was going through our H&S policy today and found this interesting bullet point: “Ensure that particular consideration is given to the safety of female staff that is sent out from the office unaccompanied.”

        If you have anything like this (I’m slightly offended that female members of staff have been singled out in our H&S policy – but still) you could refer to this as the logo is in a sexualised area and could invite harassment.

        1. TL -

          It doesn’t invite harassment – I recently got harassed wearing an oversized grey hoodie, baggy jeans, and men’s flip-flops. Frankly, without my ponytail, I’d doubt you could even be certain I was female without a closer look.

          If women are not comfortable wearing logos in their butt, that’s fine, but I don’t think it would actually do much one way or the other to decrease the awfulness of people who street harass.

          1. Snoopy

            To some people it won’t, to some people it will. By enforcing a uniform which attracts attention to a particular area in which some employees will be made to feel uncomfortable, it could be argued that it will attract unwanted attention to the employee at the fault of the employer.

            1. TL -

              unwanted attention (the reading of one’s bum message) is necessarily not the same as street harassment. Heck, it’s not necessarily inappropriate – one can read a t-shirt without creeping on someone’s chest. And I’ve read women’s pants logos before without anything other than an interest in the text.
              but, I do agree people may not be comfortable with that and not want it and certainly shouldn’t have to wear logos on their rear at work.

            2. Anx

              I don’t think it would encourage harassment very much, but it would certainly be used against a woman who complains about it.

    7. LBK

      Agreed! I’m glad someone else was thinking this.

      Now, I don’t necessarily think it’s appropriate for a work outfit, but if you wanna wear your PINK sweatpants in your spare time, I don’t see how that’s really anyone else’s business.

    8. Gina

      I agree. It’s a horrible idea to have the logo there, but if the CEO insisted and the employees had to wear them or get fired, it doesn’t mean they’re suddenly undignified and classless if they choose wearing the pants over not having an income. Those are thigns they can’t take away from you, people at rock bottom can still have both. And this isn’t near rock bottom. I remember something from an advice column about how you can’t tell people you have class, you have to show it by behaving that way no matter what you have to do to survive.

      1. April

        Hm… Without making a judgment as to whether wearing this particular outfit is an example of it or not, I do think things can come to a point where “behaving that way (ie with class)” and “what you have to do to survive” *could* conflict. You have to draw the line somewhere.

        And do I think that’s what most people when they talk use the phrase “behaving with class”; they are wanting to allude to certain unchanging standards they hold themselves too, no matter what, push come to shove: some standard of behavior they consider worth sacrificing for. If instead, when push comes to shove they’re willing to give in and behave different than their original standards, but still want use the phrase and say they’re “behaving with class”, well, they can talk that they if they want, but the phrase has lost its power. It doesn’t really stand for anything special at that point; it just means “whatever I do is classy because I do it.” Which is pretty lame.

        1. April

          Wow. There are an embarrassing number of typos in my comment. Sorry to garble it folks! First line of second paragraph should read “what most people mean when” and towards the end should say “can talk that way if they want.” I need coffee. Or something!

        2. Clerica

          Well, I think they meant behavior more like how you treat other people, not arbitrary subjective notions of how one should dress or speak or whatever. In Gone with the Wind, that was a big issue with Scarlett’s character–she wanted to be classy like her mother, but said she couldn’t be a lady until she had money again and could wear fine clothes instead of the old ratty ones. She said something like “When there’s enough money, then I can help the poor and treat everyone well.” Then you had Melly who treated everyone so gracefully all along. Both of them had to do (and wear) things they wouldn’t have dreamed of before the war, and which went against their old notions of class. But Melly didn’t lose her class just because she had to change how she lived.

          1. April

            Yes, that’s a great example, Clerica! I definitely agree that “classy behavior” means more than just wearing silk versus cotton :) Guess what bothered me was the assertion that classy behavior could never be in conflict with survival. It certainly can.

            Take the extreme (but unfortunately very real life) situation: You are in a Nazi concentration camp and have just been ordered to beat up your fellow prisoner. Do you stay classy and refuse (and suffer a life threatening beating yourself for the refusal) or do you abandon your standards for the sake of survival?

            And less extreme, here in our own free country we have choices where it’s our “survival” versus sticking with what we know is a classy standard of behavior. The questions easily arise in ordinary workaday environments: Do I do x thing that will hurt someone else, even if not doing it will certainly cost me some points in the office politics game? Do I do it if it will more than just cost me a slight loss of face but maybe even a delay of a raise? Do I do it if the consequence would be loss of my job entirely? Do I do it if I not only will lose my job but I don’t have any savings to fall back on?

            I think that Gina’s assertion that “show class by behaving that way no matter what you have to do to survive” is untenable. You either “show class by behaving that way _even if it goes against survival_” or you “do whatever it takes to survive, even if it goes against behaving with class.” You can’t do both. They contradict each other.

    9. Katie the Fed

      Honestly, that rubbed me the wrong way too. Thanks for saying it. It’s a matter of context here – but it would be fine to say “this is inappropriate for an office environment” without getting into the dignity and class argument.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I can see how you’re reading it that way, but I think there’s a different way to read it: We all presumably agree that there are some clothes that would read as tasteless in at least some situations (crop tops in church, for instance). It’s not crazy to consider pants with writing across the ass as tasteless/tacky outside of very specific situations; I mean, one could certainly imagine one’s grandma not appreciating them. I think that’s what the OP was referring to — not saying that people who wear them are class-less. Perhaps that the pants themselves are, but that’s different than saying the wearers are. (After all, some people will argue that strongly about flip flops too, without implying flip flop wearers are some lower form of species.)

          1. LBK

            Okay, that makes more sense to me. She’s connecting herself to being a classy woman and those pants to being trashy, therefore she as a classy woman wouldn’t wear trashy pants.

            I still think it’s not necessary to state it that way because, as Katie points out, the real issue is that they’re not work appropriate. But I can get on board your alternate reading.

            1. LizNYC

              I get how you read that, LBK, but I, too, read it as “I want to project a certain image at work, and these pants would not be part of that image.” As in, not business appropriate for her workplace.

          2. Nancie

            You’ve never been to church on the day of the summer picnic, have you? I remember all sorts of atrocities being worn by the younger members that day. (It was the 70s, so I think atrocities fits. Even though I was one of the offenders.)

    10. AnonyMiss

      I am a woman with dignity and class, and while I don’t think wearing a logo across my ass takes it away from me, I feel that external persons forcing me to do so does infringe on it.

    11. Anonsie

      There’s an element of choice in there that’s rather important. You want to wear bum words, fine. You don’t want to wear bum words but your boss is making you, different story.

    12. Callie

      I can’t think of any work-related context that isn’t like… Hooters or Victoria’s Secret… where words on your ass is appropriate. Or classy.

  4. Dan

    #3

    Sorry if a side thing, bit what’s the legal justification for having to be at work early to boot up the computer on personal time? Shouldn’t it be paid?

    There’s a case making its easy through the SCOTUS right now dealing with a similar issue. Amazon was making its employees wait in long line for security after LEAVING work, and not paying them. This could get really interesting.

    1. quick reply

      If this person is in Japan, this is very typical of Japanese companies.
      I was asked to be to work 15 min prior to my official start time to participate in a stand-up meeting (unpaid, of course).
      After leaving, I’ve heard that they are asking everyone to be there by 8:30am, 30min before official start time, to read passages out of a book out loud.
      If this person is in the US, I think it would be easier for slide their lunch break down to hold on to the full break time. If they are outside of the US, however…

      1. Jazzy Red

        Did you have to do a stupid company cheer, too? This happened a lot when I worked at Schmalmart Home Office. (They couldn’t pay me enough to do that cheer.)

    2. EngineerGirl

      A similar thing has already been ruled on. In this case it was workers that had to wear special protective garments. The company didn’t want to pay the workers until they were ready to work in the garments. The judges ruled that getting into the protective gear was part of the work and the company had to pay them for the time gearing up.
      I would think that booting the computer falls into the same line of thinking – the computer is required for the job and therefore the boot time needs to be included.

      1. Helena

        The Supreme Court did rule that changing into protective clothing needed to be paid, but things like waiting in line to clock in and out do not have to be paid. There is a case before SCOTUS right now about warehouse workers who have to wait in line for security (anti-theft) checks for 30+ minutes after their shifts – while off the clock. (One link here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-06/amazon-workers-take-security-line-woes-to-supreme-court.html) One thing that the article mentions is that if SCOTUS sides with Amazon, employers may start requiring a lot of tasks for work be done unpaid.

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        There’s been a ruling specifically on time waiting while a computer boots up. It’s legally work time and it must be paid. Same with “you must get here X minutes before your shift starts.” They can contort the words however they want, but now their work time is starting X minutes early and must be paid.

        Two helpful links:

        http://www.klgates.com/files/Publication/5208e7cd-1010-426c-9568-21e4c3d5b567/Presentation/PublicationAttachment/9dc2f722-ec2c-41bf-98ce-28c8e8cc8b5f/Presentation_Wage_Hour.pdf

        http://www.wagehourinsights.com/off-the-clock/starting-computers-and-reading-e-mail-may-be-compensable-work/

        1. Monodon monoceros

          This is why I’m really curious about the Amazon case in front of the SCOTUS now. If they have to wait in line to get screened after their shift, how can it be that they don’t have to pay the workers for that time? If the SCOTUS rules that they don’t have to be paid, it is just nonsense to me. Whether you have to show up early before your shift to boot up your computer, or stay afterwards for security screening, it all sounds the same to me- required time that must be paid.

          1. Elysian

            The rule isn’t “required” time, unfortunately. In Busk (the Amazon case) the employer is arguing that the security screening is like standing in line to punch out or walking across the parking lot to your car (which you don’t have to be paid for). It’s not an “integral and indispensable” part of your job as a warehouse employee, which is the test. The employees are arguing a few things, including that the integral and indispensable test should be reconsidered, and that if it isn’t that getting security screened IS integral and indispensable because part of the employees’ job as a warehouse employee is to ensure the security and eventual delivery of the merchandise.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              It’s such a crazy argument. If getting screened isn’t “integral and indispensable,” let’s see what happens when someone decides to decline it and walk straight out.

                1. Elysian

                  The test is “integral and indispensable” to your principle activity (primary job duty) not just generally “required,” sadly.

              1. Elysian

                I agree! I’m not a fan of the integral and indispensable test, myself. I think it’s close though, for the Supreme Court – everyone has to go through security, everyone has to walk through the parking lot… its just one of the things you have to do to get to work, and everyone has to do it – its not specific to a particular job.

                But as we so frequently mention here, you can be fired for pretty much anything, so a test of “required by the employer” doesn’t really work. If the employer requires you to wear toe socks, should you get paid for the time it takes to put on your toe socks (which is a lot of time, if you haven’t tried to wear them ever)? If you don’t do it you’ll get fired, but its not the kind of think they’re really going to pay you for. Either way this is an interesting case, I’ve been watching it for a while.

                1. Natalie

                  “everyone has to go through security, everyone has to walk through the parking lot… its just one of the things you have to do to get to work, and everyone has to do it – its not specific to a particular job.”

                  I’m not sure this holds up, since they’ve held that booting a computer counts as work time. In a lot of offices everyone has to do that, too.

                2. Elysian

                  This is why I don’t like the integral and indispensable test. For example:
                  If I work at McDonalds, I have to wear a uniform. I won’t get paid for putting on that uniform; getting dressed for work is just something everyone has to do, regardless of where they work or what they wear. There’s nothing special about the uniform.
                  If I work in a clean room, I have to wear a special clean room suit. It is my “uniform” for that job. But I can only put it on at work, because it has to be kept sterilized, and it takes a long time, because it has to be put on correctly or else it doesn’t function properly. I’ll probably get paid for my clean room uniform, but not my McDonalds uniform, because there’s something special about it that’s different from “everyone else” – wearing it is an integral and indispensable part of my job. It defeats the purpose of a “clean room” if I don’t dress properly so the room stays clean. It’s not the same as just regular “getting dressed for work.”

                  In the computer cases, they’re mostly call center employees, who literally cannot perform their jobs without the computer, since it makes the calls for them. It’s not the same as me booting up my computer at my office because I need to check my email or whatever. As a call center employee you literally cannot start working until the computer boots and the required program is loaded up, which can take more than 15-20 minutes. The call center employee’s job is tied to the computer in a way a receptionists isn’t for example. That’s what integral and indispensable is trying (but I think fails) to get at.

                3. Elysian

                  It also takes some employees a lot more time to turn on their stuff than others (it takes me like 2 minutes to boot up my computer, it takes call center employees a lot more, like 15-20). The amount of time is relevant, too, because things that are so small that they’re basically impossible to keep track of don’t really count.

                  Sorry, I might be getting into a tangent, but I get weirdly excited about this kind of stuff. Proves I’m a good fit for my job, I guess! I’ll stop now :)

              2. Dan

                I posted this a few spots down, but when I worked at Dulles airport, we had to do what passengers do to get to the terminal (where our time clocks are). I assume you’ve traveled through the airport, so know what a big pain it is to get from the parking lot to the terminal to security to the (former) bus (now train) to the terminal and to the time clock.

                Which parts should get compensated, and which shouldn’t? We got paid for none of it, but you’re arguing that we should have at least gotten paid for the time at the security checkpoint.

                My reading of the law indicates that Elysian is right, and that time spent doing the activity also matters. If it’s short enough (de minimus) then it doesn’t get compensated. Having read that, I’m wondering why that argument doesn’t get advanced as well.

                The more I poke around this one, the more I think that the SCOTUS is going to come down in favor of Amazon (or Integrity as the case may be.) There’s just too much case law suggesting that getting to and from work is not compensable time, even when you throw a lot of wrinkles in there, such as a metal detector. It really takes “de minimus” time to go through security if there is no line, so that’s not a weak or transparent argument.

                1. Anonsie

                  This is something that grinds my gears with companies that require offsite parking that shuttles people in, too, especially when they’re somewhere remote that makes driving a necessity for most employees.

              3. jag

                But remember, overall the Roberts Court (like a lot of the US Government) works for large corporations, so the argument is extremely persuasive and well-reasoned.

            2. Dan

              I used to work as a ramp agent for an airline at Washington Dulles. The layout of that airport sucks, and from the time one arrives at the employee parking lot, to the time one arrives at the time clock within the terminal, more than half of an hour can elapse. Back when we used to have the mobile lounges there, they ran on a crappy schedule at a night. So you could wait longer.

              We weren’t paid until we clocked in. After all, one is not *required* to park in the employee parking lot. I won’t make a lame and useless argument by saying that one can park in the expensive hourly lot (on their own dime) and therefore get to work faster.

              Some people, like me, would take the bus to work. So if I’m going to pay someone to get from the parking lot to the front door, what do I do for someone who doesn’t drive to work? And what about someone whose family drops them off at the front door, saving the walk to the door? It’s pretty obvious that getting from the parking lot to the front door is not an integral and indispensable part of the job. At least from a legal standpoint, it’s fairly clear that there’s not much wiggle room here.

              But… what happens the minute I set foot in the main terminal, and now have to go through security and wait for transportation to the terminal in which I work? Apparently, the law holds that commuting time, even when required to be on company provided transportation, is not considered compensatable time. Fine (well sucks for me…). But what about my wait in the security line? If Amazon loses their case, then apparently airport workers have a good argument for getting paid for their wait in line at security…

              Unless… the wait is so brief as to be considered “de minimus.” In which case, because the time involved is so minor, it’s not worthwhile. (Which is likely why people don’t get paid to wait in line at the time clock.)

              Interestingly enough, even if Amazon loses this case, the workers may not get paid for their wait time and STILL must go through the security. If I were Amazon’s lawyers, I’d be pushing the de minimus argument. Because we all know that Amazon is going to promise to hire more screeners, making the wait times de minimus, and then forget to do so.

        2. K.C.

          Huh. This is really interesting to me. I didn’t know this to be the case. My former employer was a big fan of asking us to go outside of our hours. We all had to be at work 10 mins early for a daily morning meeting, same thing as OP #3 regarding computer set-up, all that jazz.

          I can really feel where the OP is coming from here. If you weren’t one of the “Chosen” in my former office, you caught unimaginable Hell for going outside your scheduled lunch time. First the office supervisor called you in and guilted you about how you threw everyone’s schedules off and potentially harmed the office by not having enough coverage. Then you were called into the manager called you into her office for the same lecture.

          We were told to notify them if we went even a minute over our lunch start time so they could decide whether we could take it then still or need to go in a different timeslot (because, you know, we’re all idiots and not adults ourselves capable of looking around and going oh yeah I should wait). If you did that, though, you were met with the same outcome as above. Best choice was just take your shortened lunch or miss altogether. If you were really on the crap list, though, that would take notice of that and guess what? Lecture you about making sure you go on time.

          On the other hand, you got lectured by both of them if you weren’t answering enough phone calls (I don’t know what “enough” is, they refused to even really set a number) o if they noticed you would regularly not answer during certain times.

          It’s possible that the OP is working in a similar environment, in which case this becomes a much, much bigger deal than at offices where this isn’t the case. It used to drive me and all the others crazy. At least someone was in tears each week over it.

          1. Op #3

            My situation isn’t as bad as yours, but we do have strict schedules we have to keep to. If I spend 15 or 20 minutes answering a call at lunch, I can’t just push my lunch back, I just get less time.

        3. Op #3

          Very interesting! I will keep that in mind for future jobs. I don’t want to rock the boat with this job because it’s only a temp job and I don’t want to get kicked out early.

    3. Natalie

      There isn’t any legal justification – the company likely either doesn’t know or care that they are supposed to be paying their employees for set up time.

    4. Elysian

      The law is that non-exempt people get paid from the time they perform the first task that is “integral and indispensable” to their primary job duty, until the last such task, excluding time for a bona fide meal period.

      There have been a lot of cases on this direct issue and booting up your computer is usually compensable work time. if OP is in the US and non-exempt she should be getting paid.

  5. Seal

    #3 – I agree with Alison about letting calls go to voicemail if you’re on your way out of the office – after all, that’s why people have voicemail. But if you do choose to answer the phone at such times, please don’t be rude to the person who called. It’s not their fault that they caught you at a bad time, nor is it their fault that you chose to answer the phone when you’re on your way out rather than let it go to voicemail. I’m fine with leaving a message for someone, but have absolutely no patience for anyone who snaps at me for calling. If you don’t have time to take a call, don’t answer the phone.

    1. Pontoon Pirate

      I agree, with a caveat. If this isn’t your first rodeo, and you know a) the person is non-exempt and b) what you’re asking for historically takes more than 2 minutes and c) you’re calling at 4:48 p.m., then you should really re-think what you’re doing.

      1. Pontoon Pirate

        Sorry, that’s should be 4:58. Also, to reiterate, I agree there’s no need for rudeness on either side. Coffee … where’s the coffee?

      2. Monodon monoceros

        Yes, I had an old boss who would routinely call at 4:58 and want to chat. If I didn’t answer the phone, the next day there would be a comment about whether I left early. Sigh.

        1. Jazzy Red

          “Sorry I missed your call, boss.
          I was:
          * clearing a jam in the copy machine
          * cleaning up the coffee that I spilled
          * checking for a fire (I smelled smoke)
          * in the ladies room
          * running a package down to shipping before the pickup deadline
          * jumping up on my desk because there was a mouse running around my desk area”

      3. Joline

        I used to have a boss where everyone would run out while he was in the washroom – settling into his office at the end of the day. Like clockwork he’d be back in the office at five minutes before end of day, then go to the washroom, and then call someone with some random question in his head.

        The accounting department got in the habit of hearing him come in, shutting down while he was in the washroom, and then making a run for it while he was settling into his office (including sidling out the door sideways so you didn’t get caught in his peripheral vision).

        He never got mad about it because when he couldn’t reach anyone he’d look at the clock and realize it was end of business hours. But he had a tendency to think that every question was a quick question.

      4. Traveler

        Yes. This is one of the reasons I never call a call center in the last ten minutes before they close. Once you’re on the receiving end of this a couple of times, you know how irritating it can be.

      5. Callie

        My husband works in a big box retail store that closes at 9 pm. Closes at 9, his closing work takes him until 9:30 (time he’s paid for–pay isn’t the issue here). Sometimes customers will wander in at 8:59, knowing the store closes in one minute, but they take their sweet time wandering around and asking questions until 9:30 or later. Then half the time they decide they are “just looking” which means “thanks for the personalized info you gave me, now I’m going to go order it online”. They leave at 9:30 and then he has to do his closing work so he can’t get out of there till at least 10 pm. Anyone who wanders into a store one minute before a clearly posted closing time for something that is not important is a complete jerk. Racing into a pharmacy to pick up medicine for a sick family member? I understand. Browsing ipods and then not even buying one? Just get out.

    2. Celeste

      Agree. Your job is to give good service. If we must leave on time then it’s taking a risk that the call will be complex. I think most people would rather have your full attention, so let it go to voicemail if you are not truly available for whatever it is. I face this myself since I have to pick up my child by a certain time. I would rather have them leave me a message than cut them off and have to call them back the next business day.

    3. Felicia

      We close at 4:30 and people constantly call at 4:28. If it’s a busy time of year, which is about 2 months of the year, i answer, if it’s a regular time of year, i don’t. Luckily the phones automatically shut off at 4:30. (like they won’t ring again, if you’re on a call, you can keep talking)

    4. Mister Pickle

      Many years ago, I occasionally worked with a fellow who was burnt out and hated his job. He’d use calling late as a way to avoid work. For instance, someone needed to talk to him – he’d call them at 4:30pm (quitting time) on a Friday, and 95% of the time no-one would answer and he’d leave a voicemail message.

      Although he once tried that with me and I was in my “young and have no life” phase, so I was in the office late on a Friday, and I answered the phone and proceeded to attempt to have an in-depth conversation with him. Which didn’t work well because he hadn’t prepped to discuss anything real, plus he also wanted to go home.

      1. OhNo

        As an addendum to this – I use a paratransit service in my area to get to and from work, and I’ve had several chats with the people who work reservations for the service where they report something very similar. You would be shocked how many people call them at 4:59pm (they close at 5), demanding to have a ride set up for the next day, but don’t have the address or time or anything ready to go. Apparently several users have even asked, “I’ll be home by seven, can you just stay there until I get home and find the address, so I can call back and book the ride?”

        As much as I love the service, I’m very glad I don’t work there. I would have dents in my head from how often I had to facepalm. People must be saints to put up with that kind of nonsense.

      2. ThatITd00d

        My shift has to stay until 10:01 and answer any calls that come in, even though our hours are 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. So we rountinely have overtime. Then management says that overtime can only be paid if it is pre-approved, so if I stay over 30 minutes due to a call, they have me take an extra 15 minutes on my lunch break 2 days in a row to make up for it. They will not let us leave early, which I understand due to call center dynamics (it’s an IT help desk). But they also will not let us start our shift late. The justification? “We don’t want anyone getting used to coming in late and forgetting when they are actually supposed to be here.”

    5. Jennifer

      Yes, but I think a lot of people would not be allowed to not answer the phone. God knows I would be In Trouble if my phone rang at 11:59 and I didn’t. Likewise, if someone runs in the office right before closing and they take 25 minutes after I’m supposed to be off to finish their business, I have no choice about it.

    6. Op #3

      I’m never rude when answering the phone, but I do feel like the people who call and keep me on the phone for a long time when I’ve just told them it’s my lunch hour or the end of my shift are being rude. (I can’t tell how long a call is going to take before I answer, but when I’ve told someone I only have a minute and they know whatever they want is going to take longer than that, it’s inconsiderate of them to go ahead and keep talking or make their request anyway.)

  6. Just Visiting

    OP#1: Do you work in a retail store or restaurant, where you have to wear them all the time? Or is this “company swag” that you’ll have to wear once at an event and then immediately toss in a free pile? Either way I’d say it’s inappropriate, but I might be more likely to suck it up in the second case. Although the pants may run into an… unfortunate accident while I was there, so it’s a good thing I brought spare pants in my bag.

    OP#3: I’ve worked at jobs where I absolutely had to be back at a certain time, to relieve the receptionist or something. In those cases I very much resented having to do “just one little thing” before lunch, because it cut into my break time, even if I was being paid for it. If this is the case for you and these are coworkers instead of customers, I’d have no problem putting a moratorium on answering the phone, say, five minutes before you leave. Otherwise I’d take Alison’s advice, especially about coming in early! Waiting for your computer to boot IS working.

    1. OP#1

      This is company swag we’re expected to wear at events promoting our product. We have events every other month so…this is not a one-off.

      1. Just Visiting

        I would certainly complain in that case. That makes it close to being a uniform, and it’s a uniform that everyone at the office finds distasteful. Like someone said, I’d like to see the CEO out there wearing these pants doing the same work as the rest of you.

  7. neverjaunty

    OP #4, by a “cease and desist” letter you mean a warning to your ex-boss to stop saying false things about you or you’ll sue, right? You should run that one by an employment lawyer before taking any action.

      1. Apollo Warbucks

        It’s a letter sent to people advising them you think they are breaking the law and if they do not stop what they are doing you are likely to take them to court to force them to stop.

      2. IANAL

        A letter warning someone to stop doing something that is illegal, and not to do it again, with a threat of further legal action (e.g. Filing a lawsuit) should they not comply. I’ve usually seen it in the context of copyright infringement or similar, where the rights holder sends such a letter to those infringing on their copyright/patent or whatever.

      3. JB

        You can tell it’s a legal type of document because of the redundancy in the name. Don’t just cease! Cease AND desist! I know, technically it means to stop doing it now and also don’t do again in the future, but I still think it’s unnecessary to have both words in the name. As a lawyer, I get awfully tired of this kind of thing.

    1. OP#4

      Not only false things, but the company has a policy that managers are to refer reference inquiries to a specific phone number. I would think the cease and desist order would work in this case also.

      1. HarperC

        Have you tried contacting the company’s HR department and letting them know that this is going on? If your former boss is breaking their rules, that seems like something they would like to know. They have those policies for a reason.

      2. ArtsNerd

        A cease and desist is very adversarial – it’s likely to put reasonable people off, and for volatile people? Unlikely to calm them down.

        If it’s against company policy, that’s something to alert HR about – but not against the law, and a cease and desist would be out of place.

        If he’s making defamatory (false) statements, then I’d say give “him” (but copy HR, because that’s your real audience there) a fair notice that that is illegal and if it continues you may need to pursue legal action, but make this notice informally, not in a lawyer letter yet. That gives HR time to take action and still leaves room for you to escalate to a proper cease and desist if it’s not rectified, which is MUCH cheaper than actually suing.

      3. Graciosa

        No, not really.

        The law doesn’t care much about company policies without another factor.

        I would also warn you that a cease and desist letter has the potential to change a normal disagreement into an even bigger problem. If you think your performance was fine and your boss does not, you are not likely to win a defamation case. A statement that “Marvin’s work was [brilliant / terrible]” is not one that is easy to prove false in court – think of it like a movie review where there are differences of opinion without violations of law.

        Sending a cease and desist letter moves it from the realm of a normal disagreement into a situation where you are the crazy *&$! who actually sent a cease and desist letter over a bad reference! I think this one move – which can be reported truthfully with no risk of defamation as widely as your employer wishes – will do more to damage your reputation with future employers than anything your former boss could say.

        1. JB

          I agree, if the employer is just saying “she was terrible at her job.” If the employer is saying things like “she stole from the company” or something else that is stated as a fact rather than opinion, is false, and that questions her integrity, I think that’s different. I agree that she shouldn’t start with a cease and desist letter, but I wouldn’t rule out using it if other, less antagonistic methods fail.

          But I would only recommend that kind of thing if it the statements are seriously questioning your integrity and if you have tried other methods to get them to stop.

      4. neverjaunty

        You are talking about sending a letter, not an “order”. An order is a thing issued by a court.

        For all the reasons people have already said here, it would be extremely bad for you to go down this road before running it by a lawyer who actually practices employment law, and can tell you what your options are. Your biggest problem is that you may get a bad reference. Sending a cease and desist letter – even if it is 100% letter-perfect – after the fact, doesn’t fix that problem. And chances are that if you jump to a cease and desist letter without being absolutely clear what such a letter looks like in your state/province, and without understanding the effects of the letter, you can be opening yourself up for a world of woe.

        1. CEMgr

          +100

          An order by party A, for B to refrain from certain actions, on threat of being sued, may actually constitute civil or criminal extortion. This is true even if A has the legal right (say, by contract) to demand that B so refrain. This fact surprises non-lawyers, but it’s law virtually everywhere in the United States. See http://www.lacba.org/showpage.cfm?pageid=14413 So it is essential that any such communication be reviewed for pitfalls.

  8. Student

    OP #1: Is the CEO going to be wearing pants with the company logo on his ass? Does he feel that he can do his job effectively with clients / customers / stockholders / subordinates reading his rump? If you can get him to articulate why it’d be undermining and counterproductive for him to do this, he might understand why it’d be undermining to the employees. Depends on his personality.

    1. AnonyMouse

      I think if the CEO is reasonable, just hearing from the OP that a quick survey of women in the office were uncomfortable with the idea should make him think twice about it. It’s not clear to me whether the trousers are a work uniform or a random giveaway, but either way, if you’re a male boss suggesting something non-essential that makes all your female employees uncomfortable, it’s probably a good idea to reconsider.

      1. MK

        Since this is a fairly young guy, I am guessing he thinks this would be funny and quirky and doesn’t get that it topples into crude.

        1. Judy

          I’m not sure I’ve seen guys pants with writing on the butt except for little tags. Is he going to wear them himself also, or is it only for the female staff?

          1. LouG

            I was just thinking the same thing. OP, can you clarify? If it is only for female staff, his judgment is so off base, I can’t even wrap my head around it.

            1. OP#1

              The pants are for everyone, male and female, and are to be worn at any and every event promoting our product.

              Student – all good points. He certainly thinks this would be funny and quirky and probably hasn’t thought through the implications. Having said that, even though he is young (younger than me, even), I do believe he is a reasonable person who will hear me out when I state my case.

                1. Kyrielle

                  Well, I have to say that makes his motivation look good, if not his judgement. At least he’s including everyone. Still – I would so not want to wear those. I think I’d find a tunic-shirt to wear untucked over it, unless the dress policy forbade that too.

    2. HeyNonnyNonny

      I’d actually argue that if the male CEO is going to wear the exact same style of pants, then the office should put up with such a terrible design just to see him in them!

  9. AnonyMouse

    #3: If you think you could pull it off, you could also ask your manager what to do about this in a way that makes it clear you need to be paid for all time worked. Something like “I was wondering what you want me to do about calls that fall just outside my normal hours. I know my shifts here are 9-12 and 1-5, and I don’t get paid for any time beyond those hours. But sometimes I get calls just before 5 that run 15 or 20 minutes past the end of my shift. I want to maintain a high level of service for our clients so of course I’m answering them, but since I’m non-exempt, I know I’m required to be paid for that time if I do. I don’t want us to get in trouble here, so going forward, would you like me to let these calls go to voicemail, or would you prefer that I answer them and report it as time worked?” That way you might end up getting paid for the calls, or you might get permission from your manager to ignore the phone if it rings right as you’re heading out at 5:01.

    And one last thought: I’m assuming if this was the case you would have said so, but is there anyone else who takes these kind of calls and doesn’t have shifts with the same timing as yours? If so, if after ~10 minutes past your shift ending at the end of the day, you know you won’t be paid if you stay on the line (even though, as Alison says, you do need to be), and the call seems like it might take a while longer, could you say something like “I’m terribly sorry but my shift actually ended at 5, and our policy requires me to clock out now. I know this is an inconvenience, but I’m afraid I’ll have to transfer you to a colleague of mine who also deals with this area”? This will of course go over better if you’ve been really polite up until that point.

    1. Not So NewReader

      I checked with my boss. I got permission to record a voice mail message that says I leave an hour earlier than my actual exit time. Sure, there are a few people that will call five minutes before actually I leave, but that happens so rarely I can live with it. I will pick up the phone after those hours stated on the recording. Mostly what I get is the caller saying, “OH, thank you so much for taking my call. I realize that this is after your hours and you did not have to pick up the phone. I was just going to leave a message.”

      I have also had success with taking the person’s message and telling them I will work on that first thing in the morning. If appropriate, I will tell them that I will call them tomorrow to confirm everything is all set.

      This solution appealed to both of us because it fit under the heading of “promise less and do more when possible”. (I should add, our setting has a crazy workload and we are both maxed out.)

      1. Op #3

        “I got permission to record a voice mail message that says I leave an hour earlier than my actual exit time.”

        I couldn’t do that in my situation, but that’s brilliant. :]

    2. Op #3

      “I was wondering what you want me to do about calls that fall just outside my normal hours…” This is a great script. Thanks!

      Unfortunately, I don’t have coworkers who could take the calls. My department all leaves at the same time (though other departments have different shifts and lunch hours…which is why I get calls when I’ve going to lunch or leaving).

  10. Puffle

    #1 this whole idea just baffles me. Whichever way I look at it, it seems weird and uncomfortable. Not only is it horrible for the unfortunates who have to wear these trousers, it also seems like it would be really awkward for other people (clients, customers, etc) too. Imagine having to look at a stranger’s bum to see their company logo. I’d be constantly feeling like I was about to be sued for harassment or something- and it would be a hundred times worse for the person who actually wearing the trousers, who has people angling to look at their backside all day.

    1. Judy

      The only time I’ve seen company names on the butt is when they’re uniform pants, sometimes there is a ribbon like tag on the rear pocket with the company’s name. Of course, those folks are already wearing a company shirt, also. There’s a large manufacturer in town that everyone from engineers to line workers seem to wear uniforms, and on that side of town you’ll see folks in the grocery on the way home from work wearing them. I’ve noticed a few while standing in line at the grocery.

    2. Not So NewReader

      I have several issues with this.

      I don’t know what line of work this is, but typically wearing the company logo is in part to identify you as an employee when you are out and about. I cannot see turning my butt to a receptionist because she wants to be sure I am who I say I am. What if she does not notice the logo? Peach. I have just stuck my butt in front of her face. (This does not even start to address the sexual component of this mess.)

      My second thought is that it is bad enough wearing a logo on my chest. I cannot count how many times a man said to me. “Oh that is cute, you named one. What are you going to name the other one?” That “joke” transfers well to butt cheeks, too.

      And finally, I do not want something on my back that causes me to have to turn away from the person I am speaking with in order to identify myself. I prefer to maintain eye contact.

      In short, if your boss wants people to think his business is a joke, then he should go for it. People will think of endless ways to make potty jokes and sexual jokes. Is this a road he wants to start down? Is he willing to let it detract from his business? He runs a risk that people may quit over it, because it breaks their sense of modesty. Sadly, we have that section of our society that will have no problem saying Boss is running a “meat market”.

      OP, I hope you are persuasive. The work day is hard enough without having to deal with preventable BS.

      1. VintageLydia USA

        “I cannot count how many times a man said to me. ‘Oh that is cute, you named one. What are you going to name the other one?'”

        Oh gross!

        1. Jennifer

          I’m not even a tiny bit surprised to hear that this happens. This is why (among other reasons) why I hate name tags.

      2. OP#1

        Not So NewReader – It enrages me how some men could even think to say something like that! I’d have a hard time controlling my anger if a man said that to my face.

        The pants would have nothing to do with identifying ourselves in an official setting. It’s just company swag.

  11. OP#4

    The company I worked for has a Policy that the managers are to refer any reference inquiries to a specified phone number. Since the manager violated company policy can the Cease and Desist order still be used. Although the manager did not say anything inaccurate they did violate a stated policy.

    1. MK

      No. Violating company policy is not illegal and, also, it’s hardly your place to enforce the policy of a company you no longer work for. What you could do is inform your former company that your ex-boss is violating their policy and let them deal with it if they want; but of course they might not care all that much, since your ex-boss is not lying. Or, before that, you could warn your ex-boss that, if they continue to answer your reference inquiries themselves, you will report their violation of company policy.

      OP4, you seem really enamoured of the idea of a cease and desist letter. As other mentioned above, it has no special legal power or authority (as, e.g., a court injusction would). It’s just a private letter from one person (or company) to another, basically saying “stop doing this or I might sue”. It sometimes works when the person who gets it a) knows they are doing something illegal (not applicable in your case) or b) is ignorant of the law and thinks they might be doing something illegal or c) wants to avoid the hassle of a lawsuit, not matter the outcome (which requires for them to believe the threat of a lawsuit is real).

      I deal with these letters (well, the equivelant in our legal system) daily. In many cases, people either completely ignore them or send an answering letter of their own, saying “I am not doing anything illegal, if you want to waste your money, go ahead and sue, if you continue to claim that I am doing something wrong, I will sue you back”.

    2. Poe

      Cease & desist letters are for stuff related to law. Your former manager violating company policy is not something that can be legally enforced–it’s up to the company to determine how to enforce their own policies. It’s like bedtime for a child–there is a rule in place from the parents, but the cops won’t come in to force a kid to go to bed, it’s up to the rule-makers/parents to do that. You could inform someone higher up at the company, but I doubt they would care very much. Unless the manager was outright lying, there is nothing you can do except move on.

    3. Oryx

      If they didn’t say anything inaccurate then no law was broken and a cease and desist is very inappropriate in this context. If they broke company policy then you should notify HR but threatening to sue if they continue to give you a bad reference (which is what you would be doing with a c&d) is not the right course of action.

    4. Natalie

      If the reference is factual you don’t have any legal recourse here. Try to set your personal feelings aside about this manager and the situation. Approaching your manager this adversarially is just going to be worse for you – now your the former employee who threatened to sue over an accurate reference. If you can slow your roll and approach your manager as suggested in the other post Alison linked, you might actually get what you want, a better reference.

  12. victoria

    #4: What can you do with bosses who give bad references which aren’t true because they are bitter you quit your previous role? I left a job after 18 months because the new role was more in line with my career goals but as bad luck would have it, the company went bankrupt a couple of months later, and I can’t get a job because employers keep wanting to talking to the boss I had for longer and because he is mad I quit, I keep not getting offered jobs.

    1. MK

      I think it depends on what you mean with “bad references which aren’t true”. If your former manager is outright lying about facts (as in “Victoria stole from us/was chronically late/made X and Z mistakes”), it’s defamation of character. You can contact them and demand that they stop spreading lies and threaten to sue; you can actually sue them for compensation. But lawsuits are expensive and the outcome can depend on many things (can you prove they are saying lies? can you prove that what they are saying is untrue? can you prove the reason you didn’t get those jobs is the bad reference?).

      However, if the “untrue” things they are saying are about more vague matters (like “Victoria was not as enthusiastic as we would like”) or it’s not so much what they say as how they say it or it’s all imlpication, I doubt you have legal resource. I think your best course of action would be to either try to come into some understanding with your former company or warn the people you are interviewing with that your previous employer was unhappy that you left and that their reference might be influenced by that or both.

      1. UKAnon

        I think that dealing with it in the interview (in either scenario) is probably the best bet – it might knock you out of the running for some jobs, but it does mean that if they like you otherwise the reference period shouldn’t be such a big stumbling block. I’d also approach it with two or three other references; something like explain to them that your former manager is giving a reference which you feel may be influenced by personal reasons and doesn’t necessarily entirely accurately reflect your work there, but if they would also be able to take into account A, B and C when forming their opinion of your references, they can contact them ____.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger

        Good advice, I’d just add that, if you can, add another reference from that job, such as another supervisor who is also familiar with your work, or even a co-worker who shared tasks with you. It would help boost your case that the previous supervisor is just bitter, and his reference doesn’t accurately represent your work history. I wouldn’t leave him off, though, unless you have another supervisor or manager with whom you worked more than just occasionally.

        1. tt

          Do you know for sure that the former manager is actually giving you bad references, or are you just worried that s/he might be? I spent some time in a temp job years ago checking references, and there were some that were clearly aggravated by the timing of the person’s departure, but still gave genuinely positive feedback and didn’t try to tank the candidate. Maybe someone could check the reference for you to make sure?

      3. victoria

        Very vague things that are difficult to prove which is annoying because they are things what were never an issue to them until I quit. Things like ‘Victoria was difficult to get along with’ when I had a good relationship with my team and ‘Victoria was constantly late’ when I had 2 in a year, and they were due to public transport delays and several others were affected.

  13. Brandy

    #2- I travel all the time and often see larger business travelers in the “extra room” seats. This will depend on the airline, but I know JetBlue, United, and Amercian offer larger seats (wider and more legroom) in coach for an additional $25-50. That may be enough for you to fly comfortably without a full 2nd seat and might be something to add to what Allison suggests. If this is a quick little flight, it’ll be on a small plane without those buy-up options but from how the letter reads I assume this is a flight of several hours.

    If it would make you more comfortable, you could always phone the airline in advance about the cost of that extra seat- like an infant seat, it is not always 2x. I know that southwest offers the ability to buy a second seat at a lower cost in part because they don’t have the “buy up” option.

    Good luck!! I travel for work all the one and while I do t need a second seat, it’s still awful and cramped!! :)

    1. Anonymouss

      Also, if it is in the Domestic US, you can fly Southwest (if they go where you’re going) and they don’t charge for the 2nd seat anymore.

      I use southwest all the time when I fly for work exactly because of this

      1. Anonymouss

        (I guess I should have read your full reply before typing that :P I was just looking for a #2 thread!)

        But they did change the policy recently so that if you need a 2nd seat you don’t have to pay for it.

        It used to be you’d pay for the 2nd seat, same price, but get a refund later if the flight wasn’t oversold. And while you can still buy it ahead of time, they’ll give you one no charge at checkin.

        1. OP#2

          I did a quick search and found a previous thread from back in March I think … someone mentioned Southwest as well. I took a quick look at their website and their policy looks promising. :) Thanks!

    2. Pennalynn Lott

      I’m not that large, but I’d happily pay $50 each way for a little more elbow and leg room on a flight longer than one hour!

  14. majigail

    OP #2- Don’t sell yourself short and rationalize all the reasons you shouldn’t go because of your weight. Also, when you get selected, if you have any say in your flights, be sure to check out seatguru.com. You can search by flight to see which planes have the bigger seats. You’d be amazed at what that extra inch does! It’s almost always my deciding factor between two fairly comparable flights.

    1. OP#2

      Oh no, I’m not talking myself out of it because of my weight (though it’s been an inhibiting factor for personal trips) – there really are pros and cons between who to take between my coworker and I. Honestly, I don’t think my boss would be making a bad choice no matter who he took. It just occurred to me that since the budget seems to be the only stumbling block that it (an extra seat) should be a consideration.

      Also, thanks for the seatguru.com recommendation. I’ve never heard of it before and will definitely be adding it to my favorites. :)

    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      I was wondering this, too. Although men tend to have to worry less about harassment, we also are not as used to it, and even a fraction of the body scrutiny that women face every day can make many men run for cover. Someone already asked if the CEO is going to wear them, but CEOs are often a combination of uber-salespeople and cheerleaders, especially in small companies where they’re often the founders, so the stunt might not bother them as much if they have a more personal identification with the brand. (With a CEO in his 20s, that seems like not too wild of a guess on my part.)

      1. OP#1

        Yep, these butt-pants (heehee) would be for everyone including the CEO himself. And yep, the CEO is also the founder, The Cosmic Avenger. :) I didn’t survey the men yesterday because my immediate concern was the women. But thanks to everyone’s comments, tonight I surveyed three men. (I surveyed three women yesterday.) Two said no way, while one said yes. The one who said yes is also the oldest in age of all those I surveyed including the women. I’m quite surprised because I figured someone older would protest first.

          1. Clerica

            Well, honestly, for a woman, it’s not a huge step down from the “read my left boob! shirt.” It’s sucked for us all along. :/

        1. Becky B

          Hi OP#1, your situation put me in mind of one out of my work history, and though this is anecdotal, I wanted to share in case it would help:

          The part about surveying other employees and coming back with “X people said Y”–I had done that in a previous company for a policy that my boss had decreed we do, because another boss had told him we needed to do it: Have my boss’s team come in on Saturdays to support the other boss’s team who always came in on Saturdays.

          As our two teams had been co-existing for quite awhile without the sudden Saturdays on our part, I wondered what, exactly, my team would be doing that we couldn’t handle during the week. So I asked the other team. They said they didn’t need us on Saturdays and weren’t sure why we would be there.

          I wasn’t particularly keen on giving up a Saturday (yes, even to get paid) to sit around for 8 hours in a cube, so I told my boss that “X people said that we didn’t need to be here.”

          He became extremely upset, saying that he couldn’t believe I “went behind his back like that” and that was “insubordinate” and etc. I had had no idea he would have taken it that way. Things were resolved fine between us, but it felt awful at the time, because that was so not my intent.

          My team did Saturdays for about a month and a half before it was figured out by people at higher levels than myself that guess what, we were sitting around not doing any work and therefore not needed.

          So from this, you’ve of course got your own company culture and boss quirks and the like, but perhaps don’t be the only one taking these concerns to your boss? Combined with the excellent advice given here about how to bring it up in the first place!

          1. OP#1

            Thanks for your advice, Becky! My CEO is 99% of the time a super sweet guy, but he has his moments of madness too. I need to word my defence very, very carefully.

      2. jag

        “even a fraction of the body scrutiny that women face every day can make many men run for cover.”
        Many but not all. There’s a size/power aspect to the body scrutiny that women get that would be less pronounced when directed at men.

        I’m an average-sized guy and having women or men judge me/check me out would annoy me for sure, since it’s demeaning, but I doubt I’d have the element of stress/fear that accompanies such actions directed at women.

        Perhaps if I was in a place with a bunch of huge muscular guys looking at me that way it might give a similar feeling.

    2. BadPlanning

      I was thinking the men wouldn’t be crazy about this either. If the OP could survey them as well, it might be helpful.

      1. Sascha

        Second that idea, everyone needs to be surveyed. I’m certain if I asked the men in my life if they would be willing to wear trousers with something printed on the butt, I’d get a resounding “no” from all of them.

  15. Allison

    #1 – I can’t imagine that’s gonna make the company look good. Unless you specialize in sexy lingerie or clothing designed specifically for young women, slapping your logo on the butt of a pair of pants makes you look clueless at best; worse, you could look unprofessional or downright sleazy.

  16. Anon Accountant

    Is it completely wrong that with #1 I immediately thought no company would want their logo on the ass of pants I was wearing? I’ve got quite a few extra pounds on me to phrase it politely and the logo wouldn’t look nice. At least in my mind it wouldn’t look nice.

    Now a t-shirt with a logo would be viewed by more people I’d think.

    1. Case of the Mondays

      Ugh, I have this problem w/ t-shirts. I’m large of chest, which isn’t always a benefit. For most logo tees, the logo ends up folded in half, most of it invisible under my boobs. Then guys strain and tilt their heads to read it. I had to wear a message T for one job at an event and the middle word of the message was completely missing under my boobs so the message made no sense.

  17. Anon Accountant

    OP2- If you are interested in going then please talk to your boss. Don’t sell your qualifications short. If there’s topics at the conference that are interesting then please don’t feel embarrassed by talking to your boss. And enjoy the conference. :)

  18. soitgoes

    Regarding #3, how many of us have tried to make an important call at 4:50 PM on a Friday, only to find that the call was sent straight to voicemail? It’s annoying as a customer, but it seems to be a totally normal thing to expect.

    1. Shortie

      Perhaps I am too relaxed about these things, but I don’t make calls at 4:50 on a Friday unless it’s a life-or-death emergency (not just “I want this before the weekend”). Reason: I know that I would be courteous and allow the customer service rep off the phone before 5:00, but I also know that many people would not be that courteous, so I understand why reps let calls go to voice mail that late in the day, especially if they have an appointment or somewhere to be.

      1. soitgoes

        I don’t think anyone deliberately plans to make a call at 4:50 on a Friday, but it’s an issue that comes up when you need to make a call to a business that keeps the same hours as your own place of employment. You call during your lunch break? They’re on their lunch break too. Then on the one day you’re able to duck out early and get your call in, they’ve already checked out for the day.

        1. Clerica

          I must really be weird. I can’t remember the last time I had to make a call to a specific person (i.e. not a company with a call center) other than people in my own company, in which case I don’t have to wait for lunch or end of day.

          Then again, I use up all my energy dealing with people at work and don’t like to do it the rest of the time, so I do things like email or order stuff online or check websites for answers rather than have to talk on the phone. I hate the phone.

  19. Daniel

    #2 Would obesity be classified as a disability and the extra airplane seat be considered a reasonable accommodation?

    1. Kelly L.

      This is a thing that’s under a lot of debate, and I don’t think there’s any legal consensus yet!

    2. LBK

      Even if it is, depending on the size of the company and the cost of the flights the employer could argue that paying for the extra seat is an undue hardship. If we’re talking an extra $1000 for a second seat at a small company, I could see them denying that as a reasonable accommodation.

  20. TotesMaGoats

    #1-Oh sweet mercy.This is one of those hills worth dying on. I regularly have to wear branded shirts for work (events). There are so many options for tasteful apparel for both men and women. Although, I will say that if the logo/lettering was down the leg, instead of across the rear, I’d probably wear it. I think a branded yoga pant for travel would be awesome.

    1. Elysian

      “Although, I will say that if the logo/lettering was down the leg, instead of across the rear, I’d probably wear it. I think a branded yoga pant for travel would be awesome.”

      Oh that could be neat! I could stop my internal debate about what to wear when I board a plane with my boss…

    2. soitgoes

      That’s a very, very good idea. I like the idea of moving away from branded shirts – there are so many issues concerning the placement of logos and sizing of women’s shirts that I understand why a CEO would avoid that. But to adopt VS Pink tactics instead? No. But down the leg seems great. Now just make sure you can wear normal underwear with them (creating an atmosphere of VPL doesn’t solve the problem of men shopping for women’s shirts), and you’re set.

      1. TotesMaGoats

        I actually like most of my shirts. We ordered from Land’s End Business for many years and the fits were quite nice. I’ve got a great logo’d blazer that I wear all the time because it allows me to layer. The polos are really nice too.

        And they should be yoga pants not leggings!

        1. soitgoes

          I’m not fully comfortable wearing logos anywhere near my bust region. It’s kind of a personal quirk but also kind of not.

      2. Allison

        > there are so many issues concerning the placement of logos and sizing of women’s shirts

        I get where you’re coming from, but one of my favorite swag items from a career fair WAS a t-shirt, because it was a women’s tee and thus cut for my body, and it’s so soft and flattering it’s one of my favorite things to wear around the apartment. So yeah, baggy “unisex” tees that feel like sand paper aren’t great, but I really appreciate when a company goes the extra mile to make company swag that people (men and women) actually want to wear.

        That said, if a company would rather not deal with making both men’s and women’s shirts for their employees, hoodies or fleeces are their best bet. Especially if you live in a region that’s cold half the year.

        1. soitgoes

          I worked for a company that did hoodies. They were men’s sizes and made everyone (even the men) look horribly sloppy. The issue was the ribbed bottom band, which is always snugger than the rest of the garment. It would ride up to land in the women’s natural waists, creating a bizarrely puffy look. On the men, the band hung low, making them look wide where the hoodie puffed out and then narrow where the band pulled in.

          Basically, all “one-stop” items are going to be problematic unless you take the whole staff to the store/supplier and have them try on the garments first.

          1. Clerica

            At my second job we all ordered shirts one year and I ordered XL because I assumed they would be like Jerzees, which fit really tight. The thing was like a tent on me. Someone gave me their medium when they quit and it fit great, so the next time we did an order (some 2 years later) I asked for mediums. Apparently in those two years they did a huge sizing overhaul or changed companies or whatever, because the medium barely fit my coworker’s 12-year-old daughter. On me it looks like someone tried to put a Barbie shirt on a Cabbage Patch doll.

  21. JayDee

    OP #1 – Do you work for any of the following:
    Victoria’s Secret or a similar lingerie company,
    A company that manufactures pants,
    A company that manufactures chairs,
    A company that manufactures adult diapers and has just created a new, slimmer product line,
    A company that manufactures butt prostheses?

    If the answer is “no,” then pants with the company logo on the butt are a bad idea. If the answer is “yes,” they are still a bad idea but an understandable idea.

    If your CEO is perhaps the type of guy who just wants to do something catchy and maybe a little “ironic” because he is a bit of a hipster, then perhaps suggest other items of clothing or accessories with the company logo (hats, bandanas, scarves, socks, tote bags, pocket protectors, sunglasses, regular glasses, pocket watches and matching vests, fake handlebar mustaches).

    1. De Minimis

      Can’t help but laugh at the image of a more conventional company going this route…like an insurance company or a tax preparation service.

      1. AVP

        There is a tax preparation service in my area that sends people out on the street dressed like Lady Liberty, complete with a torch, to drum up business. That one always cracks me up, mostly because I don’t really see the Statue of Liberty and tax season as being inherently related (until now).

        1. De Minimis

          I see those everywhere….always feel sorry for the people who have to don the outfit. I guess I’d prefer a butt logo to that.

        2. Formica Dinette

          Yep, my city too. I laughed so hard (to myself) the day I saw a large man with a thick beard wearing the Lady Liberty costume.

      2. soitgoes

        In my office, the three young women (myself included) mostly wear jeans or yoga pants every day. The shipping guys wear sweats. The boss is a gym rat who’s always in gym clothes.

        If he bothered with uniforms, it would definitely be company-branded workout gear.

    2. Mike C.

      I once saw someone wearing this style of pants with “John 3:16” written across the butt. I’m still not sure what to think of it.

    3. OP#1

      None of the above. Yes, my CEO is a hipster (though he would disagree). All those ideas are great, thanks!

  22. OP#4

    Thanks everyone for your input, I will go with what you guys and Alison recommends. I will try a professional reference checking service to see what responses they get. Then I will see if I can contact my former manager and work out some kind of agreement on future reference checks.

    1. some1

      You don’t need a professional reference service, you can ask a friend you trust to call them pretending to be an employer and have her report back to you. I’d be perfectly willing to do this for a friend for free.

    2. Natalie

      If you have a couple of friends who can make a professional phone call, you don’t need to waste money on a service. Just have your friends call.

  23. Livin' in a Box

    #3 do you work in a call centre? This sounds familiar. We had to be there 30-45 minutes early to get our ancient computers turned on (unpaid) and got in trouble if calls ran into our lunch or kept us there late. I missed my lunch due to a long, difficult call and went for lunch when I was done and got in sooooooooooooooooooooooo much trouble.

    After that, I learned the tricks for finishing calls during the allotted time, and became a star worker. You call 2 minutes before my shift ends? I’m going to have to reboot your modem for you (to disconnect your phone line). Or, if you’re on a cell phone, I’ll pretend you’re breaking up, even though I can hear your angry voice just fine. You hung up on me just in time, how sad! You call 20 minutes before lunch, with a 10 minute problem? Enjoy your long hold time!

    Before anyone jumps on me, these were management approved tactics, and I hated them.

    1. Natalie

      Suprise! This kind of rigidity, theoretically in the name of customer service, led to worse customer service!

    2. LBK

      This is why call center reps should just be salaried…it makes so many of these concerns negligible. I work tangentially to a call center and we have none of these problems. Morale is so much better than most call centers I hear about.

    3. Clerica

      Did you have those programs where they track your time and see how it lines up to your scheduled breaks? We had two 5-minute stretch breaks (company was just so concerned about our health) in addition to lunch and one 15-minute break, and if you didn’t take them at the exact second the program said you should, your score started ticking down. So? We learned to use the block calls button for a couple minutes before break, and to suddenly need to transfer to a supervisor if our break came up during a call.

      Incidentally, if you were sent home early due to low call volume, it recalculated the day leading up to that. So if you were scheduled 8 hours and only got to work 6, all your breaks moved back accordingly and you were dinged for not going back in time and taking them when they should have been taken.

  24. JMW

    #1 I think that putting a logo on people’s butts is inviting others to make comments about those butts. It’s an invitation for harassing comments like “What a GREAT place to put a logo” or “Turn around – I want a closer look at your logo” or “I like the way your logo swings back and forth when you walk” or “Women should always wear their logos on their asses” or “That is one nice looking logo.” Shivers!

    1. soitgoes

      “I just want to know where you work!”

      It would definitely be the CEO’s fault (in terms of morals/ethics/basic emotions) if his employees experienced harassment due to the new uniforms. At best, he would find that a lot of the women would show up to the office in jeans and then quickly change their pants before clocking in.

  25. audrey

    Re #1… the company that I work for uses the slogan “What Great Looks Like” in some of our marketing materials. A few months ago, we were able to purchase some company gear. One of the items? A pair of cycling shorts with (I kid you not) “What Great Looks Like” written across the bum.

    1. nonnynonny

      I once ate at a sushi restaurant that sold shorts that said “Eat My Sushi” across the bum… your comment reminded me of that.

  26. voluptuousfire

    *Ahem* One thing that can go against the logo on the butt of pants thing: wedgies.

    Enough said. :/ Does the boss of OP#1 even take that into consideration?

  27. OP#2

    Thank you everyone who commented. It’s a moot point – my boss just let me know it isn’t in the budget to take either one of us. A disappointment, but I’m so glad I asked Alison. I feel much more prepared should this arise in the future.

  28. Former Professional Computer Geek

    I’m large and I require a second seat. When possible I fly Southwest. Not only have they always been polite and accommodating, but they have a rule that if all legs of a flight are not oversold the cost of the second seat can be refunded. You, or the purchaser of the ticket, fill out a form, they check their records, and then cut you (or them) a check. I found it’s about a 50/50 chance. If you’re flying to or from California, it’s least likely.

  29. OP#1

    Thank you, Alison, and everyone who commented with great advice and suggestions. I will start to draft my email response to him that will also include alternative ideas. Hopefully seeing my better ideas will soften the blow. Eeeeep. I’ll provide an update when I have it!

  30. OP#4

    Everyone thanks for your guidance about Cease and Desist letters. One other question from the guidance given above. If you cannot come to terms with your manager about a reference, is it OK then to contact the HR department to alert them about that manager violating company policy who is giving a reference or will that also cause problems for me in the future?

    1. observer

      If you can’t come to terms with your former manager, I do think that alerting HR is reasonable.

  31. HR Manager

    #1 – Ugh, so the CEO is encouraging the public to stare at employees’ bottoms? Why would that ever be appropriate, for males or females?

  32. Vicki

    One thing for #3 is that she may not have the option of setting lunch back 10 minutes (e.g. 12:10 – 12:40). Some companies have set “lunch times”. So, if the call runs into lunch, lunch ends up being shortened because she’s supposed to clock back in at 12:30 or be considered “late”.

    We’ve read far too many “1 minute is tardy and you get a ‘point'” letters… :-(

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