It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Everyone knew I was fired before I knew
I recently got into trouble at work, where I took complete blame for it. I was called into the office, where I was told I would be suspended for five days (two of them being non-business days) I was told that I had to call on the fifth day and ask if my job would still be available to me. I asked if anyone was going to find out about the incident because if I did keep my job I didn’t want them to think differently of me, and I was told everything would be confidential. I asked because in previous situations, security finds out and since they are friends with other employees, they spread rumors and make sure everyone in the store finds out.
On the third day of my suspension, I received a message from my friend (to who I didn’t mention anything about the situation) asking why I got fired. I still didn’t tell her anything; I just told her I was suspended but didn’t even give her a reason why. I guess security started telling everyone that corporate made the decision to fire me, which I had no idea about. Is this violation of my privacy rights?
No. You don’t really have many privacy rights at work, and this isn’t one of them. In this situation, it sounds like your security team is either incredibly unprofessional and needs to be reined in, or they’re doing exactly what they should and letting people know that Employee X has been let go and shouldn’t be allowed on the premises or otherwise treated as a current employee. (They’d do that because they don’t want someone mistakenly thinking the person is still employed there and giving them access that they no longer should have.) I don’t know which one it is, but in general, yeah, assume that if you’re fired, your employer can tell other employees about it.
Also: Don’t take your friend’s or security’s word for this and assume you’re fired without actually hearing it directly from your employer. It’s possible that “suddenly gone without explanation” is reading to people as “fired,” but you might not be, and you should still call in on the fifth day of your suspension as they told you to.
2. My manager asked me to work nights even though I have a doctor’s note saying I shouldn’t
I work for a hotel and have been there for five years. Due to working on multiple shifts during a 24-hour period, I was showing extreme signs of shift work sleep disorder (including falling asleep at the wheel of a vehicle, though thankfully it was a residential area and I didn’t hit anything; the car simply drifted to a stop against the curb). I went to a neurologist and he oversaw the symptoms and gave me a note to give my workplace that states I can no longer work overnights.
Fast forward six months to my yearly review, and my manager asks me point blank if I would cover it if the night auditor calls out. I felt weird about answering, and so all I told her was that shifts would be rearranged to cover a night auditor absence. I in no way suggested that I myself would do it.
Today I received a text telling me that the overnight shift had to be covered by me or another coworker. I told my manager that I could not cover it. Am I right in feeling like she shouldn’t be asking this? What else can I do to make it clear that I will in no way go back to doing overnights again? I work in New Jersey (if that helps).
I’d start from the assumption that she simply doesn’t remember that you can’t work nights, and remind her of that. Say this: “Remember, I had a medical reason to not work nights. But I can talk with Jane to see whether she can cover the shift.” If she tells you that you need to do it anyway, then you’d need to look into whether the ADA might cover you in this situation, but before you go down that road, assume she simply doesn’t remember — which is really a likely scenario here. (Managers often don’t remember things that employees assume they remember — like accommodations that aren’t regularly on their radar, schedule restrictions, etc. — simply because they have a zillion other things they’re juggling.)
3. How to stop gifting upwards when I’ve traditionally done it
I have read–and really appreciate and agree with–your advice and rationale against “gifting up” at work. One thing I haven’t seen addressed, however, is what to do if you have, in the past, gifted up. This is my third holiday season at my current position, and in each of the past two years I’ve given a gift to my boss, in the $50-$60 range. He’s never said anything about it (except thank you–he didn’t seem surprised or bothered), but now I feel a little embarrassed and regretful about it. And even worse, I feel like now if I don’t give a gift this year, after doing so the past two, it will seem odd or rude. (We’re in a small department–previously three, and now four, employees; all three of us report to my boss, but I am the most senior of the three reports and the other two provide administrative assistance to both of us. I planned on small gift cards and candles or something similar for the other two.) Buying a gift in the $50 range for my boss isn’t a financial hardship, but wondering about the best approach going forward.
I actually think it would be totally fine to stop cold-turkey and not worry about it. (Your boss would have to be a real boor to have an issue with that.) But if you’re not comfortable with that, I’d make this your transition year; do a less significant gift, like baked goods or other food. Then next year, you can either stick with that or stop altogether.
4. Losing a bonus after giving notice in December
My husband has worked for a pizza place for 10 years. He recently interviewed for a new job and got the position. He gave his job at the pizza place a three-week notice. He just found out that they are giving out Christmas bonuses to all of the general managers except him since he is leaving the company. How can they discriminate against him like that? He has done everything that all the other general managers have done, he has worked there all year, and he worked for the whole month of December until his last day. He is still part of the company and is still considered an employee of the company. Why are they giving everyone a bonus except him? They’re giving out the bonus while he is still working for them and is still employed by them. Is this legal?
It’s legal, and it’s pretty common. Bonuses are often used as retention strategies, and they have no incentive to pay it when it’s clearly not going to help retain him. Some people wait to give notice until after they receive their end-of-year bonus for exactly that reason, or negotiate with their new company to cover the bonus they’ll lose by leaving in December. (Obviously not every employer is willing to do that, but my point is that losing out on a bonus because you’re leaving is pretty common.)
5. Should I keep applying on my own if I’m also working with a recruiter?
I am 33 and in the process of attempting to shift careers. I worked as a teapot review writer for a time (what I studied in college), then left when the job market started going south. I’ve been working in retail for most of the past six years and am looking to try and use my writing skills again. I’ve connected with a great recruiter at an agency (a trusted former coworker of mine from a few years back) and she thinks it should be pretty smooth sailing to get me into a teapot marketing position (one area I’d be interested in working in) within a month or two of the new year.
However, I’ve been doing this dance on my own for nearly 18 months. A few interview bites, no offers. I’m skeptical of her timeline for a reason — and this is my first experience with an agency. My question: Is it okay to continue applying for jobs once you start working with a recruiter at an agency? For instance, if I find a job on craigslist that I’m interested in, do I need to send the job posting to her, or can I just apply on my own?
Apply on your own. It’s really, really normal to continue your own job searching while you’re working with a recruiter; in fact, it would be a mistake not to.
Keep in mind that a recruiter doesn’t work for you; her job isn’t to find you a job, and there’s no guarantee that she actually will. Recruiters work for the companies that hire them, and their job is to fill positions, not to get specific people jobs.
And even if you sent her a job posting, she couldn’t do anything to help you with it if it wasn’t an opening at one of her clients. She needs to have a contract with employers before sending them applicants (at least if she wants to get paid for the work, which she does). Having her submit your application to an employer who isn’t already her client won’t give you an advantage — and in fact, it could disadvantage you, since many employers won’t consider applications that come through recruiters who they’re not already working with (again, because of the fees).