It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. My manager wants me to marry a stranger for immigration purposes
My manager from another country has asked me to marry some guy from their country. It would be sexless and just to get their green card to work here. Is this illegal?
Yes, that’s illegal. It’s immigration fraud and it’s punishable by large fines and prison time. (It’s also not a matter of just signing a form; there’s pretty extensive questioning from immigration officials in the process.)
2. My boss wants me to provide proof I was in a car accident
I had to call out of work because of a car accident. It was a pretty bad car accident but everybody was okay. I had to have the car towed to the body shop and couldn’t make it to work. I rely on my car to get me places as my commute is about an hour away. My boss is now requesting a police report or some proof I was in an accident because it sounds like they don’t believe me. Is it okay for them to do this?
They can certainly require it (and you probably have the towing receipt, if nothing else), but the bigger issue is why they feel they need to. Have you missed a lot of work or called out a lot at the last minute? If so, what you’re hearing is that they’re pretty skeptical of you at this point. (If so, they should sit down and have a direct conversation with you about it, but that’s the message you should be hearing.)
If you haven’t had any attendance or reliability issues, then I’d say something like, “Have I done something to make you doubt I’d be anything other than honest with you and responsible with my job?” (Do also provide the documentation they want, which will give you extra firm ground to stand on in saying this.)
3. Exit interviews in a toxic workplace
The good news is that I’m going to be giving notice at the beginning of next month, leaving a toxic, paranoia-inducing corporate culture. The bad news is that my exit interview will be with one of the people who have been key in making this formerly pleasant environment a miserable place to work in. This person is nasty and vindictive, and I’m worried that if I’m even the slightest bit honest about my reasons for leaving, I’ll get bad referrals. Worse still, this person fancies herself an amateur therapist, so I doubt she’ll have much regard for boundaries when she asks questions.
How do I give as little information as possible as to why I’m leaving? Honest answers wouldn’t improve the corporate culture or process anyway (management has repeatedly demonstrated a “if you don’t like it, get out” mindset). Are there any particular phrases I can use to exit gracefully and without incurring managerial wrath?
Since your goal here is to escape unscathed and without endangering a good reference, I’d stick to saying that you’ve enjoyed your time there and are leaving because you got an offer you couldn’t turn down. None of it is about them, blah blah blah.
And for employers out there, if you want honest answers in exit interviews, you need to be thoughtful about who’s conducting them and what assurances you can give that there won’t be negative repercussions for the feedback you hear — as well as create an environment where people will believe you that it’s safe to be candid. None of that sounds like the case here.
4. Job searching when I might need 4-6 weeks off to donate an organ
I recently started job searching and already have a phone interview set up for next week thanks to your great advice! If all goes well, I’m hoping to be in a new role sometime around the new year. My concern is that I am also currently pursuing testing to evaluate my candidacy as a live organ donor for a good friend of mine. If all of that goes well, I will need to be out of work for about 4-6 weeks sometime in the first half of next year.
I’m unsure when or how to bring it up with a new company when it’s not a for-sure thing. I want to give them a heads up that I’m looking into it and I’d like to discuss the possibility of compensation for that time frame without putting my job at risk for possibly being gone for a month and a half within my first 6 months at a new company.
Do I bring this up at the offer stage or after I start? And how do you ask for possible time off for elective surgery?
(For reference, I used up my FMLA leave last spring on maternity leave. Some compensation may be a possibility if the organ donation is treated as bone marrow donation which is required to be compensated up to 40 hours in my state.)
Wait for an offer, and then negotiate the time off as part of your offer negotiations (explaining the situation and that you might not end up needing to take it; it’s fine to just be candid about what it’s for). You’re most likely to get them to agree to letting you take the time unpaid; they’re less likely to pay you for the time you’re out, unless you’re especially in-demand — so what you’re really looking for here is getting the time itself okayed.
If they agree, get the agreement in writing. (An email is fine — just something that documents that this was agreed to.)
Also, keep in mind that FMLA won’t come into play here, unless you’ve been at the new company for a year when you take the time off. FMLA coverage doesn’t kick in until after a year of employment. (The fact that you used up your FMLA time with your current employer won’t be relevant since the clock resets when you move to a new employer.)
And you’re awesome for being willing to do this.
5. Using my work computer for personal use
If I am in my office during my off hours (evenings and weekends), can I get into trouble for using my work computer for personal use?
It depends on your particular company’s policies and culture, and also on what you’re using it for. Some companies are totally fine with people using their work computers for personal use, and some aren’t. Even among those that are fine with it, they’re not usually fine with it if the personal use is job-hunting, viewing porn, or other hopefully obvious don’ts.
If you do use your work computer for personal use, you shouldn’t assume privacy. Your employer generally has the ability to view what websites you go to, what documents you create, and so forth. (Whether they exercise that ability depends on the employer, but it’s something to keep in mind.)