It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Telling my creepy boss that a contact wants to work with me and not him
How do I tell my creepy boss that his former business contact wants to work with me and not him? I work as a part-time independent contractor for a company. My boss is a good guy, but often comes off as creepy and inappropriate (I haven’t figured out a way to tell him this yet). Not too long ago, we lost a contract with another business, partly because the manager no longer wanted to work with my boss (things apparently ended badly there). I remain friends with an employee at this business, who recently asked me to come in for a special project. Just me, not my boss or his company; they don’t want him involved at all.
I really want to take this opportunity. There’s nothing legally that will prevent me from doing so, but ethically, I feel like I need to tell my boss (he will definitely find out about it whether I tell him or not). I know he’s going to be upset, and there’s no good way for me to say “These people think you’re creepy and don’t want to work with you.” If he does get upset about this, I’m considering offering him a small cut of whatever pay I get, as I would never have made the connection or been able to impress this business without him or his contact. Other people I’ve talked to think this is unnecessary. This is just a part-time job which I don’t need to pay the rent, but I do want to make sure that I act properly here and don’t burn any bridges.
I don’t think you have any obligation to give him a cut of whatever pay you get; in fact, I think it would be odd to do that. I don’t even think you’re necessarily obligated to give him a heads-up since you’re a contractor and presumably have other clients in the industry, although it’s possible that your specific set-up with means that you should. But since things ended badly between him and the other business, hopefully he won’t be terribly surprised to learn that they don’t want to work with him, but who knows. Regardless, I’d approach it from the assumption that he’ll handle it professionally; if he doesn’t, you can cross that bridge then, but do him the favor of assuming he can take it.
If he does get upset or asks why they didn’t come to him, I’d either be totally neutral (“I’m not sure” — since it’s not your job to be the middle-person between them) or say “I know they’d ended their contract with you earlier, but you probably know more about those circumstances than I do!”
2. Should I tell an applicant we rejected him because of his ageist behavior?
I am a supervisor and recently interviewed an applicant who my colleagues and I agreed would not be a good fit, not because he didn’t have the qualifications but because he displayed behavior that we believed was very unprofessional. During the interview, he completely disregarded me and one of my colleagues. He centered all of his attention on our second colleague and even had his body facing that person. It was as if he was pretending my colleague and I were not there; whenever we asked him questions, he would answer them but would not look at us. When he responded, he would only look at our second colleague. The position he was interviewing for would be under my supervision, and he was told more than once that I was the manager. However, this did not change his behavior; he continued to disregard me and my colleague, and when the interview ended, he walked away from me when I was trying to give him post-interview information.
The more we observed his behavior, the more we felt that it had something to do with our ages. My second colleague is the senior in the office and is a lot older than us. We felt that the applicant must have assumed that he was the real manager in the office just because he looked older. Also, my colleagues told me that the applicant had stopped by a few weeks prior to ask about his application and was incredibly rude to my colleague and was only cordial when my second colleague stepped out to assist (I was not in the office when this happened and was shocked to hear this).
Immediately after the interview, I sent the applicant a rejection letter. Now, I have been receiving emails from him demanding to know why he was not selected. I feel that I should give him feedback, but at the same time, I don’t know how appropriate it is to provide the kind of feedback I want to give. I feel that he needs to know that it is not okay to ignore your interviewers, let alone walk away from them, and I feel that he should know that his behavior was very ageist. Is it ok to let an applciant know this?
Well, it’s not your job to tell him how to be a better interviewer, and frankly there’s an argument that you should let him go on revealing this side of himself to other employers, so they know what they’d be getting if they hire him. But I can certainly understand why, on principle, you might want to tell him how inappropriate his behavior was. I wouldn’t have any problem with you replying with something like, “You disregarded me and another colleague throughout the interview, even walking away from me while I was in mid-sentence afterward. I’ve also learned since our interview that you were rude to one of our employees when you stopped by our office a few weeks before and that, along with the tenor of the last few emails you’ve sent me, has confirmed my confidence in my decision.” Ooooh, it feels good just to write that out.
(Note I didn’t get into whether it was ageism or not, since that’s speculation and it doesn’t really matter; regardless of the cause, the behavior wasn’t okay.)
But lots of people will tell you not to bother, especially since his post-rejection behavior has been so obnoxious.
3. Company advertised one salary range but then told me a different one in person
I recently interviewed with a company which had a salary range of $40k- $64k on their job ad. It got down to the question of “What are your salary requirements, and what did you make at your last job?” I threw the ball in their court a couple of times, asking “Based on the range of the job, what is your department’s budget, how much does this position offer?” and it got to a point where I said, “I am looking for something within the range of $55k-65k.” The interviewer replied, “Our budget is $43k and that’s the maximum we can go for.” Why would they post a higher range? Isn’t this falsification on their part?
It’s possible that they’d pay some candidates the higher end of the range if they had the right experience or skills, but were only willing to pay the lower end of the range to others. It’s also possible that they changed the range after the job posting went up. It’s unlikely (not impossible, but far less common) that it was a deliberate attempt to mislead candidates about salary; the real explanations for this stuff are usually much more boring.
4. Mentioning in my cover letter that my mom is a teacher
I am a college senior and I am applying for a lot college admissions prep/ tutoring type jobs. I have experience working in college admissions because of my on-campus work-study job (which I really love!) But in addition to that, I was wondering if I could mention that my mother is a teacher and I have pretty much grown up in the classroom, helping her with everything from grading to individual tutoring. I would only mention this in the cover letter to provide context for why I’m interested in pursuing education. However, I still feel weird mentioning my mom in cover letter. What do you think?
I wouldn’t. It’s not that you can never mention your mom in a cover letter; for example, if you were applying for a job at an organization devoted to solving Disease X, I could see mentioning that the cause was close to your heart because your mom had Disease X. But in this case, I don’t think the mention would actually strengthen your candidacy. I do think you could say “I’ve been doing individual tutoring since I was 16” or something if that’s true, but I’d make that the focus, rather than the fact that you did it through your mom’s work.
5. Can my employer make me work on Sundays despite my religious beliefs?
When I first applied to my company, there was a section on the application that asked if there were any days I needed off each week. I wrote down that I needed every Sunday off because of church, and because I did not work at all on Sundays for religious reasons. I was hired as a part-time employee and had every Sunday off. I have since changed managers twice, been promoted to full-time, and have still never worked a Sunday.
Recently, my manager was talking to his boss about finding people to work Sundays, and his boss told him that for now on everybody has to be able to work on Sundays. If I refuse to work Sundays, can they fire me? Even though they agreed to give me every Sunday off by accepting my application in the first place? Can they fire me for me not working Sundays because of my religion?
If it’s relevant, I am in California. Currently I believe that we have about 12 workers, and we just hired two or three more who should start any week here.
The number of employees at your company is actually very relevant here. The federal law that requires religious accommodation, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, only applies to employers with 15 or more employees, so it’s not in play here. However, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act applies to employers with five or more employees and requires employers to accommodate employees’ religious beliefs as long as doing so wouldn’t create an undue burden. In general, courts have found that schedule changes are a reasonable accommodation for employers to offer.
I’d say this to your employer: “As you know, when I was hired, we agreed that I wouldn’t work on Sunday for religious reasons. I understand that our policies around working on Sunday are now changing, but because of my religious beliefs, I’m requesting an exemption from that as an accommodation under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.”