I’m being fired and don’t know why, manager complains about people who take medical leave, and more

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

1. I’m being fired and don’t know why

After three years of working at my company, I was told “we are not a good fit” and my last day will be July 1. They will be paying me through August 15. They have told me I can say whatever I want about my separation, and they will provide me with a good reference. (I wouldn’t plan on using my “current” employer as a reference anyway – that seems obviously weird to me.) But what do I say? I assume I tell employers I apply to nothing. What do I say to my colleagues? This has never happened to me before. I think they are trying to be kind by letting me construct my own narrative but I am just really confused.

Well, being there three years means that you’ll probably have an easier time explaining why you left to future interviewers than if you’d just been there a few months. It’s hard to say exactly what explanation you should use without knowing a lot more about the situation, but some things that people rely on in similar situations are that the job was moving in a direction that didn’t feel like the best match for them, or they wanted a role involving more X. For coworkers, you can either be honest about what happened if you want or you can keep it vague (“felt like the right time to move on and I’ll be taking some time to figure out my next step”).

But it might be worth asking your current manager if she’ll tell you a little more. They might not, but you have nothing to lose by saying something like, “This isn’t an attempt to debate the decision; I understand that it’s final. But it would be so helpful for me to understand what went wrong — if there was something I’m doing that I should avoid in future jobs, or something I should be watching out for as I try to select for a good fit for myself in the future. Is there any feedback you’d be willing to share with me?”

2. Manager complains about people who take medical leave

One of the supervisors in my workplace has made it clear for years that she has a problem with employees who take FMLA (medical leave). Over the past couple years, our office has become increasingly short-staffed due to a hiring freeze. Some of the employees who have FMLA for major chronic health conditions still are out intermittently due to circumstances obviously beyond their control. During these absences, this supervisor publicly makes disparaging comments about these employyes and their “supposed” conditions. Regarding an employee who had a hysterectomy, the supervisor told everyone in a sneering tone that this person was out that day because “she says her stomach hurts.” In a group text message sent by our other supervisor looking for someone to work overtime because an employee had called out due to an FMLA-related condition, in the message thread the first supervisor commented “f—ing (name of employee).” This supervisor goes on Facebook on days when people are absent and comments that “it sucks that some people just dont feel like they have to show up for work.”

When I found out she was making comments about me during a major illness, I had a meeting with her in which she stated she would never say things like that and that another shift was making this up. Since I’ve heard her say the same things about other people, these statements rang very false. I understand the frustration of dealing with staffing issues in an office that is already short-staffed, but these people have documented major health conditions and are protected under FMLA. How can we address the discrimination and humiliation from this supervisor?

She complains about employees on Facebook? This is someone who shouldn’t be managing anyone.

In any case, harassing people for using FMLA is actually illegal. If you have an HR department, I’d go straight there and report what’s she’s doing. Use the term “FMLA harassment.” They are not going to be pleased with her.

If you don’t have HR, talk to her manager. Say this: “Federal law makes it illegal to harass or disparage people for using FMLA, and I’m worried that Jane’s repeated complaints about people’s FMLA leave is putting us in real legal jeopardy. I’m assuming she doesn’t realize that what she’s doing is illegal, but I think there’s real liability for the company if she continues.”

3. My boss pulled me out of a mentor program but won’t explain why

I’ve been in my current role for almost three months. A month ago, my department set up a relatively informal mentorship program with senior department staff. There was a lot of enthusiasm for this because our job demands a lot of time to adjust to the workload and the processes. I was excited because it would provide me with biweekly opportunities to sit down with a colleague to ask abstract questions and help me settle into the role more easily. I was particularly excited because of the colleague who had volunteered to mentor me. She’s very good at her job and when I’ve worked with her in the past has been really encouraging.

The day before we were to have our first lunch/meeting, my boss emailed me with a very vague explanation that they were reevaluating the process and postponing the mentoring program. A bummer but understandable. Then, I found out that the other two mentor/mentee pairs were unchanged (I sit right next to another person serving as a mentor and they still had their lunch). So I asked my boss about the program status and she hedged with another vague explanation about needing to change some things.

There are a lot of issues with my current manager (she’s not present or easily accessible, she works very strange hours and has been terrible at helping me get up to speed). I’m switching managers soon but am still under her for three more weeks–though since the shift has been announced she’s been even harder to reach than before. I was just invited to a meeting with the mentorship coordinator to talk about how things with the mentorship have been going and I don’t know how to reply. I’m just confused given that last I was told, I wouldn’t be getting a mentor. I have a lot of pent up frustration towards my manager and this is has been another issue. I was really disappointed that I wasn’t able to work with my mentor (who came to me and shared she didn’t know why the change was made but that she was sorry too), especially because I’ve had very little guidance in general. I’ve raised it with my boss periodically since then and after the manager move was announced (note: in her new role she won’t be responsible for anyone-I suspect there was a reason for that), she told me I could ask my new manager about following through on the mentorship program.

I’d really like to make use of a senior staff member in becoming more successful in my role and I truly don’t understand why this has been made so difficult. How can I approach this to actually get a response? Not to mention, it’s disconcerting that my boss didn’t want to provide me with a mentor–I spent a little brain space worrying that I was about to get the axe or something.

If the mentorship coordinator is asking to talk about how the mentorship has been going, it sounds like your boss made this decision unilaterally and the coordinator doesn’t even know. So I’d ask her what’s up. Say something like this: “I’m glad you reached out, because I wanted to check in with you. Jane told me right before my first meeting with Lavinia that the mentorship had been postponed. She actually said the whole program was being reevaluated, but it seems like other mentorships are moving forward. Is there any way for me to continue with mine as well? I was really looking forward to working with Lavinia, and I’d so appreciate the chance to still do it.”

4. Asking a job candidate who’s deaf about what accommodations she’d need

I’m screening resumes for an admin at my company and came across a promising one. The hiring manager gave the candidate the thumbs up and so I contacted the candidate via email about setting up an in-person interview. However, now the candidate has gotten back to me and said that they will need an ASL interpreter for the interview as they are deaf and use ASL.

Their resume gave no indication that they’d need an accommodation of this magnitude – in fact, one of their former positions was doing on-site customer support (which I imagine would be the kind of job where verbal communication is necessary.)

I’m absolutely stumped on how to proceed. The admin position requires constant in-person communication with a team of people. If the position was remote, I could see it working out with written communication only, maybe using text-to-speech for phone calls. How do I politely ask the candidate about their day-to-day accommodation needs? If my company can’t meet those needs, how do I turn them down nicely? How do I turn them down legally?

If your company has at least 15 employees, you’ll want to get really familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act, since that’s the law that’s in play here (and situations like this are exactly why it exists!). In a nutshell, if the candidate is the best qualified for the job, and she can perform the essential duties of the job with reasonable accommodation that doesn’t pose undue hardship, it would be illegal to turn her down just because she’s deaf. The definitions of “reasonable” and “undue hardship” may not be what you think they are (it’s really common for employers to think something is an undue hardship when the law disagrees), so you want to really get familiar with the law or — ideally — have an employment lawyer guide you through the process.

Basically, though, you should interview her just like you would with any other promising applicant. At the end of the interview, if you’re still unsure about what accommodations the candidate would need to perform the job, you can ask what she’d need. (Just to note, if you didn’t know she had a disability, it wouldn’t be legal for you to inquire about that at this stage, but since you do know, the law allows it. There’s much more detailed info from the EEOC here.)

But there’s lots of legal stuff around this and it’s really easy to inadvertently get it wrong, so step one is to get really familiar with the law. (Or if your company has an HR department, go talk with them ASAP since they should have some expertise on this.)

5. Nobody told me I got a raise

I just realized that I got a raise; I didn’t notice the change because it’s a rather small increase. When I checked the company’s online employee payment system, I saw that it was a 3% raise starting about four months ago. Nobody said anything to me about it, though. Is that normal? I expect it was intentional since it’s exactly 3%. But, since I wasn’t told and it didn’t happen around the time of my annual review, I’m wondering if I should ask about it to make sure it’s not an error?

I wouldn’t say getting a covert raise is normal, exactly, but it’s definitely not uncommon. It’s weird, because giving raises is one of the fun parts of being a manager and most managers don’t want to forfeit the chance to tell you they’ve given you one. Also, raises should be a retention and recognition strategy, and that works better if people actually know they got one.

In any case, ask. It’s probably intentional, but if it’s an error, they can actually make you pay it back once they discover it — so you definitely want to know for sure. I’d just say this: “I noticed that my pay went up by 3% in February, and I just wanted to make sure that was intentional and not an error.”

{ 233 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. JessaB

    Alison, do you think the trend of covert raises in pay is intended even subliminally to prevent people trying to negotiate their raises? I mean the only reason I can see to not tell someone is because you don’t want pushback on the numbers. It just makes zero sense to me otherwise.

    Reply
    1. Engineer Girl

      Or the manager just plain forgot. They submit the paperwork months in advance. Then they wait for it to go through. They’re supposed to wait the week of the raise to tell the employyee. But maybe they were out sick or maybe they forgot. I’ve had it happens with raises and bonuses. I’ve had to ask my manager about it.

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        1. burningupasun

          She also doesn’t state where she works, if it’s unionized it could be related to that. I have a state job and we get two raises every year built into our contract: the first is an automatic 3% increase every July (the start of the fiscal year) and then in December we automatically go up a step on the payscale for our position (if we aren’t at the top of the scale).

          At least, we do when we have a contract. Right now we’re in negotiations so the raises are frozen until the state opens negotiations, but yeah.

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        2. TootsNYC

          It might be a manager who sees a 3% raise as a simple cost-of-living adjustment that doesn’t come with the “pat on the back” idea.

          I didn’t get the same “fun! rewarding my great people!” vibe from telling my crew that they all got a 2% raise. It’s not like it was such a compliment.

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        3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

          Or, the manager’s afraid that the amount was too small, too cheap. In such situations, being the manager is NOT fun, because the raise can be BAD news if its insultingly low, or way below the norm for the situation.

          Of course, some would think that giving someone unexpectedly bad news is a fun part of being a manager, but that’s a different topic…

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      1. Folklorist

        Any advice on timing the raise request/ negotiation? I have a feeling that my company will be giving small raises this year, but with some big accomplishments this year (and no raises last year), I want to ask for a bigger raise that would put me over the non-exempt line, along with a title bump. Should i ask for this months ahead of my annual review if it takes that long to process paperwork?

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        1. TootsNYC

          I’d say bring it up at about 3 months to go. Getting a raise can sometimes take a boss a little bit of negotiating.

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      2. sunny-dee

        Is it possible that it’s a COL adjustment? A lot of people at my company got a 2-3% raise about a year ago because they adjusted the payscale for a lot of roles. It wasn’t broadly advertised and it wasn’t related to a promotion or performance-based raise. It just showed up in people’s paychecks.

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    2. ExceptionToTheRule

      At my company, it was because performance appraisals and pay increases got separated. They moved doing the appraisals away from the department heads to people’s more front line supervisors, which makes sense to a degree, but it detached the review from the raise process which is handled by the department head.

      Unlike the OP, we have a lot of people who don’t regularly look at their pay stubs (or ever for that matter) and wouldn’t even notice a raise.

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      1. Sunshine

        My compants also separated the performance review process and the annual pay increase. It’s such a pain.

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        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          Coming from my perspective as a state university employee, where raises are very much tied to the performance evaluation, I don’t think I quite understand how raises can be unrelated to performance? What are the raises then based upon, if performance is removed from the equation?

          We have a raise/performance scale: Exceeds Expectations = 4.5% performance pay; Above Average = 3%; and I don’t know the rest of the scale. I was shooting for 4.5% and got 3%, so I’m working toward my next year’s goals.

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          1. Joseph

            Well, in some cases, it’s based on the salary scale for the position. If you’re near the top of the salary scale, you’re limited to an X% raise regardless (assuming you’re good enough to get any raise).

            There’s also a different scenario where the management determines evaluations and raises in December, so the actual raise hits first paycheck in January, but the actual sit-down review with your manager doesn’t happen till afterwards.

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          2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

            Our raises are entirely based on market adjustments. There are no performance raises. We have bonuses tied to our perror mange ratings, but the raises are separate.

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          3. Clewgarnet

            At my employer, raises are based on company policy. There will be a company-wide raise of, say, 2%, but that’s it. Merit-based raises were, until this year, unknown.

            (This year, managers were given a pot to use for merit raises. My manager’s entire pot went to me.)

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          4. Sunshine

            The number itself is still based on the performance rating, but there’s a gap between the two. It’s awkward because when we do the review, we don’t actually know if the raises will be approved for that year.

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        2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

          At one time I have some managerial roles – we were told NEVER discuss money/increases during the review session. They’re not supposed to be related to each other. But they are, oh, wait they aren’t, well, ya, gee whiz, sorta, I guess THEY ARE DIRECTLY RELATED most of the time.

          The only time is isn’t is if they can’t get rid of a person – or the cost of replacing the “bad boy (or girl)” would exceed the cost of a raise.

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    3. Not So NewReader

      A lot of jobs around here do not even allow negotiation. Since it’s not uncommon to hear, “Here’s your raise. Don’t ask for more”, I am inclined to believe the boss either forgot or the raise is, indeed, non-negotiable.

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    4. Librarianna

      OP#5: Its possible that something in your tax situation has changed, and you are just having fewer taxes taken out. You should look into it.

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      1. LBK

        Yeah, that would be my first thought. Usually when my paycheck fluctuates it’s because of taxes, although it’s not usually to the magnitude of 3%.

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    5. Cookie

      The most logical explanation for a 3% raise is a cost of living adjustment that was probably made company wide, with no ability to negotiate. It could even be a part of the employment contract (annual COL adjustment).

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    6. SystemsLady

      In my case it goes all the way back up to the president, and I’m almost sure that’s his intention.

      My current manager calls us for bonuses (which I think the managers get more say in allocating). For the raise this year, he made sure to explain he’d passed up a recommendation and was given no notification of what the raise was or when I’d get it. He seems pretty frustrated about it and the fact our old manager never did reviews, which I assume is yet another sign he’s a good manager.

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    7. jaxon

      Maybe it was just a 3% COLA that everyone in the organization got, and this person’s boss didn’t do a great job of telling her reports it was happening? Or there was a miscommunication in HR, or something?

      Reply
  2. neverjaunty

    OP #2, I disagree with AAM in that while her advice is good, you also should lawyer up. Your manager has behaved this way for years and nothing has been done about it?

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      1. Coffeepot Maker

        Likely to sue the supervisor and the company. I believe neverjaunty is implying that management may either already know or won’t care. Since this supervisor has been behaving this way for years, it’s unlikely that management isn’t aware.

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        1. Colette

          Suing the company she works for is probably not going to end well for the OP. It’s also not clear that the OP has been on FMLA and thus any protections the law has may not apply to her.

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          1. MK

            I am also not clear on whether this is actually something you can sue over. Has anyone actually been prevented from using medical leave or faced negative consequences when they did? The OP mentions the manager made a lot of negative comments behind people’s backs, but not an incident where the person taking the leave was pressured in some way; in fact, when confronted with this by someone who did take the leave, the manager denied doing it.

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            1. Megan Schafer

              I think that the negative comments could concealably considered pressure to not take the leave if there came a time when you needed it.

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              1. Stranger than fiction

                Yes, and if they’re making these comments like “F Jane”, it’s likely they could be doing other subtle things to retaliate, like taking away plum assignments or something. This manager is horrible.

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        2. Mike C.

          Wait folks, I’m sure neverjaunty will be back in the morning to clarify, we should try to avoid putting words in their mouth.

          Seeing a lawyer can just as easily be about understanding the law and any protections granted by it.

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          1. neverjaunty

            Thanks, Mike C., this is exactly what I meant. The OP should get advice on how to proceed given that it’s likely she will have to continue working with this manager even if the company DOES put its foot down, and she needs to protect herself. A good employees’ lawyer can advise her and, if Jerk Manager starts playing games, may be able to intervene.
            None of this means the OP has to sue anybody.

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            1. Green

              I wouldn’t get a lawyer (and pay for one!) up front here. If you handle the situation professionally and are then harassed after the fact for speaking up, then that’s a good time to talk to a lawyer.

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        3. Not So NewReader

          I agree, Coffeepot Maker. I could have written this letter. Same story with an old boss. In my story, Old Boss was out of control. This was one problem among many, many problems. Upper management did not care about any of the problems and the boss was allowed to continue on with threats and intimidation. Old Boss had a reputation for being one of the worst bosses in the company and STILL absolutely NOTHING happened.

          OP, I think your best bet is going to her immediate manager. This is probably the most motivated person in the company to rope your boss in. The further removed from your boss, the less likely you might be in finding motivated people. Her boss is motivated because he does not want to deal with the fallout when this blows up into a huge legal issue when someone, who is the target of her remarks, decides not to put up with it.

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    1. LBK

      Hmm, not sure that would make sense for the OP. It sounds like there was only one incident where it happened to her and it’s not clear if she was on FMLA or just regular sick time – maybe I’m wrong but I don’t believe she can sue on the other employees’ behalf.

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      1. neverjaunty

        Going to a lawyer doesn’t mean you have to sue, any more than going to a doctor means you have to get surgery. What the OP needs is advice on protecting herself.

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        1. CEMgr

          Agreed, it’s good advice. Well worth the cost of a 30 minute consult to get advice that will help avoid issues.

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        2. LBK

          I dunno, just still feels like an overblown reaction to me, especially since I’m guessing an employment lawyer’s time is likely to cost you a lot more than the $20 copay at your doctor’s office. There’s plenty of free online resources that could arm her with enough preliminary info to cover her current needs.

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          1. Kathryn

            Lots of attorneys offer free consultations. I just spoke to a real estate attorney about my annoying neighbor and we covered a lot of ground, for free. Found him online, gave him a call, and learned some stuff.

            Reply
  3. AW

    Their resume gave no indication that they’d need an accommodation of this magnitude

    This is kind of an aside, but is this the sort of thing that would go on a resume? Where would that go? LW #4 may have meant the cover letter but that sounds odd too.

    Do folks with disabilities normally indicate they have one so early in the process?

    Reply
    1. Tyrannosaurus Regina

      I can’t say I have much experience here, but if I had a disability that would likely require accommodation, it wouldn’t occur to me to put it in the résumé or even the cover letter. I’d bring it up when contacted about an interview, which I think is what the applicant did in this case?

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      1. Artemesia

        Is having to hire a whole second employee to interpret for someone whose job is to communicate with the public a ‘reasonable accommodation’? I can see requiring it for training for a job that is not client facing but not if it actually essentially requires the interpreter to do the job. e.g. if the person worked on line with customers, was a coder, or had some other technical role than it wouldn’t matter and the interpreter might only be needed during training. But if the job is to communicate orally with clients then the interpreter would essentially be doing the job.

        Genuinely confused about that? How far is reasonable accommodation?

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        1. addlady

          +1 Also, can someone with ADHD get someone who reminds them to keep them on task? I have always felt I needed that accommodation, but I have a feeling I would get let go before someone even thought of paying for such a thing.

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        2. Alli525

          That’s probably not reasonable NOR what the candidate is asking. She needs the interpreter for the first-impression interview, to quickly communicate in a high-stress scenario instead of trying to use a type-to-talk device in the first round.

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          1. Biff

            Er, to be honest, if I was dealing with say, an auto parts store, and the clerk was deaf AND we had to discuss the problem with a text-to-speech device, I’d probably leave and come back when there was someone who could speak to me. I say this as someone who has spoken with and been good acquaintances with deaf folks without issue. It’s just some roles, the ability to SPEAK and HEAR English are vital to effectively moving through the day. I’d think of a CSR role to be one of those.

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            1. Green

              Yikes. The fact that as a client you would be unwilling to spend a few extra moments working with someone who has a disability is of no relevance to whether an accommodation is reasonable. What you describe is precisely the discrimination that led to the ADA in the first place.

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              1. Green

                (I’d also suggest you read the comments below with stories of how other businesses deal with client-facing deaf employees from people who are pleasant and take a moment to do something a little differently than they would otherwise to accommodate another human being.)

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        3. Stranger than fiction

          I’m curious about this too, though I imagine there’s some state funded assistance for something like this?

          Reply
        4. sonofduckboy

          Please read other comments below about the reasonable accommodation issues. There are multiple discussions below, including legal issues and possible resources for understanding them.

          On the role of an interpreter ‘essentially doing the job’ as you put it, I am afraid I must disagree. As a student in an interpreter training program, I can tell you that the interpreter’s job is to facilitate communication and cultural mediation. If there is a Deaf student in a university physics class with a hearing professor who has a doctorate, the interpreter is not thought to be teaching the class. The interpreter does not have the knowledge base of a physics doctorate. The interpreter does not answer questions from the Deaf student. The interpreter only relays the lecture, questions, and answers in two separate languages. This same principle applies to ‘communicate orally with clients’. The interpreter does not ‘do the job’ because the interpreter is not trained in teapots, or teapot customer service, or teapot repair… etc. If the interpreter were needed in this oral communication setting, the interpreter would be responsible for relaying questions and answers in multiple languages, and not responsible for having the teapot knowledge base to answer questions.

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        5. Becky

          Depending on where you live, the ASL interpreter is paid for by other funds, not by the company employing the person who relies on the interpreter.

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        6. Anna

          In no way is an interpreter “doing the job” for the employee. An interpreter interprets, they don’t come up with the solution, look up the rules regarding how to solve a problem, or have to know the rules of what they’re interpreting. It’s like saying the interpreters at the UN are actually negotiating. They are not. They are making it possible for other people to do that.

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        7. Jen M.

          It would probably be for things like trainings, meetings, and perhaps customer meetings that take place face-to-face.

          As for putting it in one’s cover letter/resume, all I can tell you is that my partner did not mention it until he was contacted for interviews. (That’s when they would go silent–he never DID land a job.) If I had a disability, I would not mention it, either until I was contacted for an interview.

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    2. Cambridge Comma

      I would guess that if it were on the resume, she wouldn’t get any interviews. It sounds like the OP wouldn’t have interviewed her either.

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      1. Florida

        This. Most people with disabilities are very attuned to disability laws. This candidate has probably spent their entire life (well, at least since 1990 when ADA passed) advocating for herself.
        It doesn’t belong on the resume or in a cover letter.
        The only time it might be relevant is if a deaf person were applying at a organization that helped deaf people. Then they could make the case that they understand the clients needs.

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      2. OhNo

        Absolutely. Speaking as a person with a disability, you do NOT bring that up until at least the interview – and even then, only if it’s something that you will need accommodation for in the interview. I never mention that I use a wheelchair before then, unless I need to ask which elevator to take to get to the interview.

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    3. Tau

      I certainly don’t – I generally disclose at phone interview stage for disability A (which gets obvious then anyway) and, well, not at all :’) for disability B. But putting it on your CV or cover letter just sound like a recipe for discrimination – CVs and cover letters are used for an initial cull of applicants, and disability should not (and is not legally allowed to in most countries!) be considered when you’re deciding what candidates reach the next round and who gets rejected right off.

      Plus, as you say, where would it even go? “Jane Smith (Deaf).” “In my past job, I increased teapot sales by 22%. I was also deaf.” “Degree from Teapot University in Teapot Studies, 2:1 with additional deafness.” “In my free time, I enjoy waterskiing, playing with my pet boa constrictor and being deaf.” I don’t think so!

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        1. Engineer Girl

          Actually, one of the servers at the local McDonalds has a name tag that says “hard of hearing Deb”. It certainly notifies the customers that they need to speak up!

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          1. Talvi

            When I worked at a grocery store, one of the stockers had a tag saying “deaf” pinned under his nametag, so that the customer would know that he wasn’t ignoring you when he didn’t respond to your questions about where to find something if you weren’t in his line of sight.

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          2. Jen

            Yup at our grocery, one clerk puts a sign on the register that says “I read lips” which is SUPER helpful and I always remember to look up at her when I’m talking, vs mumbling into my bag while digging for keys ;)

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          3. Hush42

            At the Buffet in the Casino near my house there’s a deaf chef who works at the design your own pasta bar. Whenever he’s working they just have a sign that explains that he’s deaf and that you need to fill out a sheet with what you want. They just have a little pad that sits next to the pasta bar that shows all of your options and you just check off what you want and hand it to him. He’s actually a much better cook than anyone else who’s been working there whenever I was there.

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          4. Allison

            I wish that was more widespread. I once took my car to the dealer to get something looked at (yes yes I know, but it was under warranty!) and the guy who did my intake was really grumpy and yelled at me. When I got inside I mentioned how I must have done something to make the guy angry and I was sorry, but the lady was like “oh no don’t worry, he’s just hard of hearing, but he shouldn’t have acted like that, I’ll talk to him.” It never would have occurred to me!

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      1. July

        Lol – this was funny and also yeah, why would anyone expect someone to put this in their marketing materials for a job. LW is already considering not hiring an otherwise perfect candidate because she’s uncomfortable with her disability – when obviously she has done a stellar job in her past employment, enough so to stand out in the pile.

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        1. MK

          “promising” is not a synonym of “perfect” as far as I know, not does it mean that they “stand out”, simply that they are one of a bunch of people most suited to the job. Also, how is it obvious that the candidate did “stellar” job in her past employment, simply be the fact that her resume notes that she held one customer service position? And the OP isn’t considering not hiring them based on disability, they are considering how to sensitively ask what accomodation they will need and, IN CASE the company can’t offer it, reject them.

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          1. July

            Okay semantics aside, the LW IS considering not moving her forward simply because shes uncomfortable with having to accommodate the disability or with even expecting the applicant can be capable without something that isn”t of the norm for the LW.

            You’re nitpicking about things that are besides the point (whether or not she was stellar at her other jobs) the POINT is that she looks good enough on paper right now to stand out from others and warrant a call – but suddenly has become uncomfortable to the LW because she noted she was deaf.

            Okay?

            Reply
            1. Marisol

              I disagree that MK is nitpicking. I think she is pointing out where you have erred in interpreting the LW’s situation, and that because your interpretation is unfair, she is right to do so.

              Reply
    4. Jeanne

      I think it was more of “I feel blindsided” rather than expecting the resume to say deaf. I wouldn’t know where to start either to determine if they could accomodate a deaf person who needs to be on the phone or always listening to requests or taking meeting notes or whatever.

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I think that’s the kindest interpretation here, and a pretty likely one too. The OP has a situation she’s never faced before, isn’t sure how to navigate it ethically and legally, and she’s reached out for advice, which is good.

        Reply
        1. LW#4

          Yup, this exactly. After writing to AAM I did more research online and found some resources for interviewERs, but there’s way more out there for interviewEEs. It was a situation I had never found myself in before, and my first inclination whenever that happens is to immediately try and find as much information as humanly possible about all aspects of the unknown situation so that I can be prepared for the unknown.

          Reply
          1. OhNo

            Just ask. Seriously. Especially if the person has been in this kind of position before, they probably have some idea of what kind of accommodations they need. Bring them in, give them a fair interview, and at the end ask if they know what accommodations they might need.

            You might find out they don’t need any at all – many deaf people know how to read lips and can speak. It may be that they just don’t want to misunderstand something in an important situation like an interview, so they want an interpreter just to be safe.

            Reply
            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              It’s more than “just ask” though. The law regulates what you can ask, when you can ask it, and a whole bunch of other things. This is legitimately complicated, legally, for employers who haven’t dealt with it before.

              Reply
            1. sonofduckboy

              +1 Read EVERYTHING by her. Amazing cultural insight from the Deaf community! for those of you looking for this author, try Leah Hager Cohen for your search. Leah cohen produces results about a chef.

              Reply
      2. Allison

        “‘I feel blindsided’ rather than expecting the resume to say deaf.”

        I see what you did there!

        Reply
      3. BananaPants

        I agree, I wouldn’t know where to start with something like that. It’s unclear if the candidate would need an ASL interpreter 40 hours a week if hired, or if there are technology workarounds or options like lip reading and the interpreter is just needed for the interview.

        Reply
        1. Anna

          There’s video interfacing. So a person calling the employee would talk to the interpreter, who translates to ASL for the employee. The employee signs to the interpreter who relays the message to the customer. It’s pretty cool and runs really smoothly. I worked with a man who is deaf and we used this even between our department if we needed to get information to or from him.

          Reply
    5. Allison

      “but is this the sort of thing that would go on a resume?”

      No, absolutely not. The resume is a marketing document, it should show your strengths and why you’re suited to the job. Things you may need* – relocation, salary requirements, visa assistance, hour flexibility, ability to work from home, disability accommodation, the second Friday in October off so you can attend your cousin’s wedding, etc. – are “fine print,” you should disclose them, but not right away. Some you mention on your cover letter, like whether you plan on moving or whether you’d need the company to sponsor them; others you disclose during the interview process or offer stage.

      Reply
  4. Anna

    OP #4, I’m sure you don’t intend to, but your letter really comes off as though you’re engaging in exactly the sort of discriminatory thinking about the capacity of people with disabilities to do good work that the ADA was intended to remedy. Your letter reads as though you’re assuming, without any information to back it up, that having an interpreter is going to be an accommodation of huge “magnitude” that will be an unbearable burden on your company. Your letter also reads as though you’re assuming that using an interpreter and other accommodations will prevent the applicant from being good at the job, even though her resume seems to indicate that she has previously succeeded in the kinds of jobs that qualify her for this one. What makes you believe that she will be less capable at the job you’re hiring for than she was at the jobs that gave her the experience that made you think she was “promising” before you knew she had a disability? When you talk that way, it makes you sound like you have a bias against people with disabilities. Because you seem to be assuming, based on her disability and her request for accommodations, that she won’t be able to do the job. And I’m hoping that you’re not actually thinking that way, because that would be a very, very unfair way to treat any job applicant, even setting aside whether pre-judging her in this way is legal.

    Interview her. See if you like her. See if she likes you. Talk with her about her work experience, and about the position, and about all the things you talk with any job applicant about. If you keep an open mind, I think it’s very likely (based both on personal experience and on the fact that this applicant has apparently succeeded at work in the past, based on your description of her resume) that the accommodation won’t be much of a big deal at all. And if she gets a skilled interpreter and is accommodated to use the tools that she’s found work for her, it may have little or no effect on her ability to be good at her job. But please don’t make assumptions about whether her disability or accommodations for it will make her unable to do the work–or even that any of this will be a big deal at all–until you’ve met her and interviewed her and discussed her work experience and her skills and what she can bring to the job. It’s not only what the law requires you to do; it also conveniently happens to be the right thing to do, morally.

    Reply
      1. mazzy

        No it’s not. Attitudes like this are EXACTLY why people don’t ask questions. What makes you think everyone has experience communicating with deaf people? In addition to this comment assuming bias, it still ignores precisely the logistics the OP is asking about!

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        1. NJ Anon

          +100 I think you are being unfairly harsh. I’ve hired many people during my lifetime. I have never run into this situation. I’d be writing to AAM too.

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        2. JustALurker

          Exactly! OP’s questions were about logistics and procedure in an “unknown” situation! Good grief! There are plenty of managers out there who wouldn’t even care about how to approach this ethically or legally. LW4 doesn’t fall into that category.

          Reply
    1. Dot Warner

      Well put!

      And OP, it’s entirely possible that this person wouldn’t be able to do the job without a reasonable accommodation, but you have no way to know that without interviewing her.

      Reply
    2. MK

      While I agree with everything you say, I can’t blame the OP for assuming that the candidate requiring an interpreter probably equals significant accomodation. If the candidate only needs one for the interview, and will be able to perform the job duties with some other aids (or maybe only occasionally using an interpreter), that’s one thing. But I cannot imagine how an accomodation requiring an interpreter constantly present wouldn’t be a big deal.

      Reply
      1. Anna

        Luckily, we don’t have to imagine whether an employee using an interpreter would be a big deal. We don’t have to imagine because there are scores of successfully employed Deaf people who use interpreters and a combination of tools and accommodations to work successfully. A good interpreter can be virtually seamless in many contexts. I’ve worked with several Deaf people who work with interpreters, and after a short time, I sometimes forget they’re even there. We also don’t have to imagine because the OP has the opportunity to meet and interview this candidate, to evaluate her skills and qualifications, and to make a determination about her candidacy for the job without having to rely on imagination.

        Reply
        1. Dot Warner

          I’m sure it wouldn’t be a big deal in terms of workflow, but wouldn’t the company have to pay the interpreter’s salary in addition to the employee’s? I could see how that might be a big deal financially for some companies, especially smaller businesses.

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          1. Myrin

            That’s what I’m wondering. Early on during my university years, I had a friend who was almost completely blind and in the rare occasions when he needed a seeing person to assist him, their pay was provided by a foundation or government-issued service (I don’t remember the details). Now obviously he was a student and not getting paid by our uni anyhow but I’m curious to learn how stuff like this is dealt with normally since I imagine it might be similar (in my country at least).

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          2. misspiggy

            In the UK an (increasingly shrinking) government fund is used to pay these costs. I’d be surprised if there weren’t similar assistance in the US.

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            1. Jeanne

              I’d be surprised if there were any money for interpreters in this situation. We don’t prioritize help like that here.

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            2. Anonsie

              Not really, no. In some areas you could get financial assistance for accommodation under very specific circumstances, but generally no.

              Reply
            3. Marvel

              Ahahahaha… haha.

              Okay, to be fair, I don’t know if there’s anything like that or not, but as an American my default assumption would be “no”–which, yeah, says a lot about this country.

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              1. Gaia

                Right? Can you imagine Congress voting on something like that?

                No. Because they wouldn’t. I mean dang, just look at this last week.

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            4. Gaia

              I know you mean well but that made me actually, literally, laugh out loud. I would be floored if we had anything even resembling that in the US. As the Aunt of a boy who is deaf I wish we did have that but nope. Not in Murica.

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          3. Mookie

            EEOC has a pretty straight-forward primer on what a reasonable accommodation might look like, largely depending on what the employee or applicant needs (and often these needs are communicated in a written request, sometimes accompanied by supporting medical documentation), and how an employer can prioritize reasonable and effective accommodations to offset cost and other hardships.

            But, yes, employers are expected to hire interpreters when needed and/or provide access to services and technology (relay services, c-print software, et al) that will enable the employee to fulfill all of her duties without removing or re-assigning any essential function of the position. And what that might look like depends on the employer’s resources and the employee’s abilities, but there are ways to make hiring an interpreter (the most expensive accommodation, generally) or providing other assistance easier and less costly (tax credits or deductions for technology, applying for low- or no-cost assistance from local non-profit interpreter services, use of volunteers from disability organizations on a short-term basis, etc.). Where there are many equally effective accommodations that differ only in cost or inconvenience to the employer, the employer generally has a right to opt for the least expensive choice.

            And as others have noted, sometimes what an applicant requires for an interview and what she needs to perform the job are different. ADA makes explicit, as the EEOC link demonstrates, what an employer can and cannot ask, during an interview and prior to an offer, with respect to a client’s hearing abilities. The process is a bit cumbersome and requires documenting steps as the employer and employee work together to create a plan for accommodations, but once those are in place (and, in particular, once an employer has successfully implemented their first accommodation), it’s not a particularly brutal or painful process. And retaining an in-house interpreter has its advantages, although there are limits to where and to what tasks that interpreter can be assigned when their services are not immediately needed.

            Reply
          4. Dangerously Cheezy

            That is exactly the question. If the interpreter is being requested for the interview, it seems like OP’s company is paying to have an interpreter at the interview and I would imagine that an interpreter would be required for this kind of position that requires a lot of communication… it’d be different for a job with low communication.

            There is the chance that the interviewee could get an interpreter on her own but it’d probably cost her more than she made to pay someone to come into the office with her.

            But then there is also a big question on what kind of assistive devices that the company would need to invest in should they hire this one employee. In a perfect world they would be happy to hire a deaf person but if it comes with significant cost for a low-skilled position then people will cry discrimination for turning her down.

            If she is an outstanding candidate then she should definitely be included for consideration, but there is always the chance she won’t be a good candidate to begin with (like many people without disabilities would be). But considering they are now aware of the disability, I hope they are diligent in taking notes in all of their interviews to avoid any ‘it was because I was deaf” claims later down the line should she be rejected.

            Reply
          5. BananaPants

            If it was a full time ASL interpreter, then it could be a significant burden for a small business to essentially hire two employees (really an employer and a contractor) rather than one employee.

            That said, I don’t think there would be many cases where a full time interpreter would be needed, versus occasionally needing one. If the employee could do the job effectively and safely using speech-to-text and other technology or lip reading, then those can be considered reasonable accommodations. It’s an interactive process to figure out ADA accommodations in the workplace; it’s not a matter of the employee saying, “You have to hire me an interpreter for 40 hours a week” and the employer automatically being required to do that. Based on job responsibilities it might be reasonable to do that for a C-level executive who has to participate in many high-level meetings in real time, but not for an admin assistant who can make use of adaptive technology to communicate for many of her job responsibilities.

            Hearing impairment takes many forms. Some can use hearing aids or cochlear implants, others cannot for medical reasons or choose not to for personal reasons and use ASL, lip reading, and/or adaptive technology.

            Reply
        2. MK

          Quite aside from the cost, should the company be expected to pay for the interpreter, there are also issues of confidentiality and also practical considreations, like office space. The permanent inclusion of an extra person in the workplace is an accomodation of “magnitude”. I am perfectly well aware that deaf people are able to perform well and excell at many jobs, but what seems ” seamless” to you from the outside probably took a lot of work and considerable compromise to make it happen.

          Reply
          1. July

            For you maybe, but for someone professionally employed as an interpreter and for someone who has used them regularly, they probably know how to make this work quite well.

            That aside, my thinking is she is asking for an interpreter for the interview because the things she needs to otherwise do her job well aren’t going to be available at the interview stage.

            I am thinking – specific phone/computer equipment, etc, and that she won’t necessarily need the interpreter for day to day work.

            But again – instead of assuming this things and discounting an otherwise stellar applicant, why not interview her and find out. And if she is indeed still the best candidate for the job, learn how to make it work for everyone. Deciding she isn’t worth the trouble simply for something she cannot help, really saddens me.

            Reply
            1. MK

              “For you maybe, but for someone professionally employed as an interpreter and for someone who has used them regularly, they probably know how to make this work quite well.”

              For me, no. For the OP’s company, who has obviously never dealt with this before, absolutely. That’s all I actually said at the top of the thread, that for an employer who isn’t familiar with the situation, this can’t be dismissed as “no big deal “, so the OP’s concern is natural.

              “But again – instead of assuming this things and discounting an otherwise stellar applicant, why not interview her and find out.”

              No one is assuming anything, as far as I can tell. The OP wrote to ask how ask about accomodations without offending the candidate (and opening her company to a lawsuit).

              Reply
          2. Elysian

            Interpreters work in plenty of professions with extremely high confidentiality requirements – medicine, law, etc. Not just for employees (but for them, too!) but also for people like patients and witnesses to crimes. There are a slew of interpreters whose job it is to just translate phone calls – maybe not legally confidential, but really private stuff. Confidentiality is really the least of the practical concerns.

            Reply
            1. Collarbone High

              Cracked (of all places) ran a fascinating interview a couple of weeks ago with two people who work as TTY interpreters.

              Reply
          3. Danielle

            Under the ADA, the employer is required to pay for the interpreter if there are over a certain number of employees.

            Confidentiality is not in play here, as certified interpreters (yes, interpreters are their own specialized field and are not “volunteers” and require passing national exams and licensing. Non-certified interpreters are often not a ‘reasonable accomodation’ given their lack of skill) are bound by a Code of Professional Conduct that enforces confidentiality.

            Reply
        3. Karin

          As an interpreter myself, I constantly remind myself when meeting a new hearing client (As an interpreter, I am there for both parties; therefore, the hearing party and the deaf party are both my clients.) that it may be my thousandth time explaining what’s involved when working with a deaf person and a sign language interpreter; however, I’m explaining it because it is the hearing party’s first time meeting and working with a deaf person and an interpreter, and how I approach the situation will forever influence the hearing party’s point of view on such matters. I therefore calmly explain how to approach things and encourage questions.

          The LW appears to me to want to do the right thing, but doesn’t know the right thing is, and I see nothing wrong with that. I will, however, request that you please go into it with an open mind. I know an awful lot of well-educated, intelligent deaf people who are woefully underemployed because bosses are not willing to take a chance on them.

          Reply
    3. A Signer

      Well-said, and thank you. As an interpreter-in-training, this kind of thinking is so damaging to many Deaf workers. I’ve known many Deaf people who have worked customer service jobs (with and without interpreters) who have succeeded and been valuable teammates.

      Reply
      1. nofelix

        Would you be able to give a description of ways this works? I too am finding it difficult to understand how hiring an extra employee would be feasible for most businesses. An interpreter’s salary could easily be more than the customer service role’s salary, no?

        Reply
        1. A Signer

          Since I’m not actually in the trenches so to speak, I can’t give firsthand experience, but my professors say that it’s very common for Deaf workers to have an interpreter for the interview (where miscommunication can severely damage your chances) and then get by without a terp in the day-to-day duties of the job. Deaf people get through life without interpreters every day, and those communication strategies work just as well in the workplace. It’s not uncommon for an interpreter to be hired for huge meetings or annual reviews, but those costs (typically around $35-45/hour) can be worth it for a great employee.

          Reply
        2. Alston

          So I have a deaf coworker who often works with customers. You don’t always need to hire an extra person as an interpreter–there are simple things that can be done to accommodate the employee.

          Our communications with customers are mostly through email and chat–so he doesn’t have an issue with that.
          He can read lips, so as long as you’re at least mostly facing him communication is fine.

          Our training for new employees consists of a trainer sitting next to the person and walking them through how to use a pretty involved computer program for a week. The only thing that was different for my deaf coworker was that I had to turn to face him when speaking so he could read my lips. This slowed down training a little, but not substantially.

          Meetings are difficult for him keep up with–especially if someone is video conferencing in, but we figured out a solution for that. We have someone take notes in a google doc during the meeting, my deaf coworker also has the google doc open, and can read the notes about what is going on in the meeting in real time. It is not as effective as an interpreter, but he’s pretty happy with how it works out.

          Reply
    4. Jeanne

      We ALL have biases, conscious and unconscious. OP is asking for advice/help which I find to be a good thing. Sometimes the bias is against a disability. Other times it is against change or against more work or against dealing with other biased people. Acknowledging your bias and figuring out what to do is responsible. I think you are being way too harsh. (And yes I do have an invisible disability.)

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        I agree also.

        We had to hire an interpreter at work. It was $150 for a few hours of work. The interpreter did a great job and everything went very well. But there is no way our budget will allow us to that on a regular basis. I am not exaggerating when I say the cost would have shut us down. Because of our setting, we cannot look for outside help with the costs.
        I read OP’s question as “how do we pay for this and what does an average day look like?” This to me indicates some willingness to try but a total lack of familiarity with how this goes in real life.
        I hope we can move on from accusing OP of bias and answer this question, because I am interested in the answer myself. I have spent years working with people who have disabilities and I have created many useful solutions. Most recently, I was able to come up with some cool adaptive equipment for my friend while she waited to have cataract surgery. She was amazed at the changes I came up with for little to no cost. She still uses these things because she reads so much that it just helps to prevent her eyes from fatiguing so quickly. (She has other vision problems in addition to the cataract problem.)

        If you don’t work with people who have disabilities you don’t learn about this stuff. Even if you do work with folks that have disabilities, it is possible not to know how to accommodate a particular disability because you have no experience in that exact setting. Even though I have had a wide range of experiences, I have learned even more by reading here on AAM. People here have taught me about things that I have never seen.

        While I do agree that there are many misconceptions, prejudices and underhanded things are going on in the way people with disabilities are treated, I also believe that the way out of this problem is by open discussion. And part of that open discussion entails answering questions that may seem fairly basic. At least OP is asking and that is more than a lot of people do.

        Reply
        1. ModernHypatia

          The other thing to consider is that different people with the same category of disability may need really different kinds of accommodation. Asking them what they’d need is always the best way to go.

          I’m a librarian at a school for the blind, and one of the questions we get from the community regularly are about how to accommodate people in different settings. For vision impairment, there are a lot of different options, and many of them can be managed without a lot of expense or extra training, but a given option may work great for one person, and not at all for another, depending on their skills, whether they have any usable vision, and so on.

          On the other hand, I have a good friend who has some significant hearing impairment, but who does not know ASL (she lost her hearing as an adult and most ASL classes aren’t geared toward people with adult hearing loss).

          A lot of times people will say “Oh! We can get an ASL interpreter.”- and that doesn’t help her! If you ask her what would help, though, she’ll tell you what makes the most sense for her in that setting (in a doctor’s office where precise understanding matters, she might bring a friend to take notes or ask for CART transcription. At conventions and social events, a reserved seat close to the speakers and lighting that works well for lip reading might be the best choice. In some cases, being able to read presentation notes helps a lot.

          The Job Accommodation Network also has great resources on looking at possible situations where you might need to provide accommodation – I’ll put the link in a separate comment.

          Reply
          1. DeskBird

            Yes! This! Some people who consider themselves deaf have more hearing loss than others. Some have no hearing, and some wear hearing aids and can make out a lot of sounds – but would want an interpreter for something important, like a job interview, so they don’t miss anything. Some of them can read lips very well as long as you remember to look directly at them (I am so bad at this – but working on it). Some of them feel comfortable speaking, and some don’t or can’t. There is a very wide range involved.

            Reply
    5. Mephyle

      Since she isn’t an employee yet, but a candidate, is it the company’s responsibility to provide an interpreter for the interview? I would have thought it was the candidate’s responsibility.

      Reply
      1. Mephyle

        And if it is a resource that the local government can provide or subsidize, she surely knows her way around arranging for it better than a potential interviewer who is new to the entire issue of Sign interpreters and accommodations for members of the Deaf community.

        Reply
      2. MK

        Eh, it’s not clear from the letter, but I assumed the candidate simply informed the OP that they will be bringing an interpreter along to the interview, not asked that the company arrange for one to be there.

        Reply
        1. Mephyle

          You’re right; it’s totally ambiguous. I didn’t see that until I went back and looked at the original post after seeing your comment. I had made the opposite assumption; namely, that the candidate was asking for an interpreter to be provided. And then the discussion mostly was around whether accommodations might or might not need to be provided by the employer if she is extended an offer, so my mind was working along the track of “provided by employer.”

          Reply
        2. Artemesia

          My assumption was the company was being asked to provide and pay for an interpreter. I know at conferences the conference has to hire them if needed. It is very expensive. A business having to hire a full time second employee to interpret for an employee who needs one to communicate is going to be a major big deal in the budget. My impression is that these are not provided by public funds in the US. I’d love to hear from someone who has dealt with this and how it gets managed financially. In Europe this kind of things tends to be supported by the state although I have a relative who works with people with disabilities in England and the funding is being cut so drastically that many people are no longer getting the services they need to be able to function on the job. It is critical that people have positions where their particular disability is of little import and the where support is needed there is a source of support to provide it.

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          1. irritable vowel

            I am not sure that requiring a company to hire a full-time interpreter to assist an employee would be considered a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. That’s a significant, ongoing expense (as opposed to, say, a one-time capital expenditure to set up a workstation for someone who uses a wheelchair or purchase and install equipment to accommodate a visual impairment). I think it’s unlikely that this candidate would need that kind of accommodation on a full-time basis, because it’s probably extremely unlikely that she’s had it in the past. In other words, she’s been able to succeed in her field without an interpreter. She is probably only requesting an interpreter for the interview.

            Reply
    6. LW#4

      “But please don’t make assumptions about whether her disability or accommodations for it will make her unable to do the work”

      I admit, that was the first place my mind jumped, but then I realized hey, the candidate’s resume shows a strong work history, so obviously being Deaf has zero to do with their ability to do their job! The interview was yesterday and while it was a bit weird at first having an interpreter I got used to it quickly and it didn’t affect the questions that I asked or how the interview went. From what I hear from my colleagues the technical interview worked out just fine as well, logistically. Unfortunately, the candidate didn’t have the technical expertise we are looking for in this specific position, but I absolutely would have hired them for another position if their skill set matched with what we were looking for- they had a great attitude and would fit in well at my company.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        Thanks for the follow up here. This is very interesting to me.

        Did she bring an interpreter or did the company pay for one? How did that work?

        Would she have an interpreter with her all the time if hired?

        Reply
      2. sonofduckboy

        To LW#4: As a student in an interpreter training program, this final post of yours is exactly what I was just going to point out to all. Essentially, most hearing people don’t know all the list of things that we don’t know, because nobody ever taught us. IMHO you did exactly what you should have done in this case, ask for help to understand the situation. Take appropriate action, conduct the interview, and find out for yourself exactly what the situation calls for. I applaud your efforts to educate yourself to the concerns of the situation and to move forward with the interview in a professional manner, then finding out that a good interpreter can be practically seamlessly integrated, as suggested above. Well Done!

        To all others: from someone who has to past tests describing the legality of these situations and how they apply to interpreters, I can say:
        1- The applicant does not need to divulge their disability on their resume, specifically to combat early descrimination.
        2- The company is required to pay for an interpreter for the interview process, if the applicant requests it, which she did.
        3- modern technology in Deaf culture in the US is amazing, and can accommodate day to day communication issues between Deaf and hearing employees with minimal costs to the company, post interview. However, the law does not force companies to hire a Deaf person who is not qualified to run the integral parts of the company’s software/firmware/hardware etc, as LW#4 says this applicant did not have the expertise for.

        lastly, hearing people don’t know just how much we don’t know!! Please do some research on Deaf culture and society, and the laws that apply to them. You may be pleasantly surprized at just how amazingly warm and welcoming of a culture it is, and how easy it can be to integrate Deaf community members and values into the hearing world. Rant over, thanks for listening.

        Reply
        1. Jen M.

          All of this. In my time with my partner, I have met a LOT of Deaf people, and I LOVE my Deaf friends. They are smart, have an amazing sense of humor, and are a very open and welcoming community.

          In fact, one of my Deaf friends, I knew long before I ever met my partner. She’s one of my best friends.

          Going in, I knew no ASL, and between her and with my partner, well, we worked it out!

          Reply
      3. Artemesia

        That is great. Would the candidate have needed an interpreter on the job itself? Or if she had the technical skills would that have been a minor issue?

        Reply
        1. sonofduckboy

          Since I don’t have the specific demands of the job, I cannot exactly answer that question. However, I can say that I know a lot of Deaf people who work in the hearing world and don’t use interpreters for about 80% of the time. Most of the daily work conversation gets done through simpler means than an interpreter. The law does include language that has been upheld in court, to say that if the Deaf employee requests an interpreter for company meetings, hr issues, employee complaints, disciplinary actions, etc (these and other items of note are assumed to be outside of normal, day to day, work activities) then the company would be required to hire one for those situations. As far as the accommodations needed for day to day activities, that falls under the section of the law AAM referenced earlier, that really needs a lawyer to decide what ‘reasonable accommodations’ and ‘undue hardship’ really mean for the company in question.

          Reply
      4. Laura (Needs a New Name)

        I am so happy you are here to update! Can you say more about how the process worked, logistically? My first response would be “OK I am willing to do this but I do not actually know how!” Like, do you just google “[mycity] sign language interpreter”? How do you assess the quality/appropriateness of an interpreter without any familiarity with the process? Do you potentially have a contract for multiple sessions, since having the same interpreter for multiple interviews might be beneficial? How do you get from “I need to make this happen” to “I have made this happen”?

        Reply
        1. Danielle

          I’m Deaf. I don’t know where you are, but many states have a Commission for the Deaf of Hard of Hearing that has an interpreter referral service. I would google your state plus “Deaf and Hard of Hearing” or “deaf services”. Interpreters themselves are required to have quite a bit of education these days, minimum of a BA/BS in Interpreting and pass a very difficult national exam called the NIC. Interpreters who pass this exam are considered ‘certified’. Using non-certified interpreters is a good way to get yourself in trouble due to total lack of quality control which will ruin communication often. Some states also have private interpreting agencies, and you can get those names from the state agency for the Deaf, but they tend to raise prices. Many interpreters also work freelance, and thus only do contracts per job, but you can set up ongoing ones if you know you’ll need to use one on a regular basis.

          Reply
    7. DeskBird

      My husband works in the deaf community – his manager is deaf. I think a lot of people underestimate how adaptable deaf people can be. If client communication is mostly over the phone (which is how i’m reading this) – she won’t need an interpreter in the office. Essentially she can video chat with a service that will voice her calls for her.

      Reply
    8. Lily in NYC

      I think this is very unfair to the LW and there are a lot of assumptions being made about her motivations. Especially after reading the update.

      Reply
  5. July

    #1 – sorry to hear about this! What a blindside. While it is nice of them to give you pay for an additional 6 weeks and a good reference (I really hope you find something quickly!) I would frame this separation as a layoff. Your position was eliminated and you were laid off (this is also likely important in that, if you aren’t able to find work after your pay with them expires, you will be eligible for unemployment benefits should they be necessary. (being fired/laid off makes you eligible, quitting usually makes you ineligible)

    I would definitely ask and I wouldn’t be shy about it. Take to your manager. Find out if you did something or if it simply was an eliminated role and they just handled it poorly.

    Also, hopefully you have already begun on your updated resume and cover letter.

    best wishes

    Reply
    1. Jeanne

      It’s odd they didn’t tell her. I think she should ask and hopefully they will develop the courage to explain themselves.

      Reply
      1. Mike C.

        I always thought that people don’t say anything because it’s never illegal to fire someone for “no reason”.

        Reply
        1. Wildkitten

          I suspect the reason I am being terminated is gender-based but I think I’m better off moving on than taking action on that angle. I’m just uncomfortable being made to explain for their decisions.

          Reply
      2. Wildkitten

        I did ask in the process of being fired. What do they think I would be a better fit at? They didn’t have an answer and they’ve been SO AWKWARD since. I think only three people know I’m fired and they just try to run away from me whenever they see me and they keep having me take meetings with people who ask for my help with problems that will continue for over a week! And I am struggling to turn over my responsibilities to other people. I literally connected a client with another one of my colleagues and my colleague responded “Why don’t you just do this?” and I don’t know how to say “Because I won’t work here next week when we’ll have an answer for him…” It’s so awkward.

        Reply
        1. Tweety

          It’s almost like people think those being terminated (laid off) have cooties which they scared they might catch and end up in being terminated as well. Weird!

          Reply
    2. Christopher Tracy

      I was going to say the same thing about OP saying the position was eliminated. That sounds closest to what happened here if she wasn’t fired for cause or performance.

      Reply
    3. Sans

      I agree. No need to construct a phrase about moving on or going in different directions. They had a restructuring and eliminated your position. Happens all the time and a prospective employer wouldn’t think twice about it, especially since you’ve been there three years. (If you were laid off after a few months, it might feel more like a firing.)

      Reply
    4. Artemesia

      Since they said she can describe it as she wishes, she should come to an agreement as to how it will be characterized if anyone calls for a reference. Just because she doesn’t put them forward as a reference doesn’t mean they won’t be called; it is not realistic to think no one will want to talk with the place you worked the last 3 years. Getting formal agreement to call it a layoff is something I’d want to do.

      And after 3 years they really do owe you feedback although they may or may not want to give it. Phrased as Alison suggests I would think the odds are good — not so much what I did wrong here as to what change should I make to be more effective in my next job.

      I wonder if the job was needed to give to a relative or friend since the OP didn’t have the feeling she was failing.

      Reply
      1. Stranger than fiction

        I understand her not putting them as reference while she’s still there, but assuming it will take her a bit longer to find something, she should probably say they can contact this employer once she’s no longer working there or that would look odd no?

        Reply
      2. Chalupa Batman

        My thought-completely speculative-is that being fired for “not a good fit” after that long sounds like an interpersonal issue. If OP is a prickly personality in general (not saying they are, we can’t tell that from the letter) and/or a person or group better positioned than OP are politically wanted them out, that could explain the vague “fit” wording. Not the right way to handle a firing, but possible.

        Reply
    5. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      But it doesn’t sound like her position was eliminated. She was removed from her position, but there’s no indication that the position won’t continue to exist.

      Reply
      1. July

        Right, but they’re offering her the option to frame it how she wants to help her chances of new employment moving forward, so that would be my suggestion on how to frame it (and also, again, in case she does need to file for unemployment if unable to find work after the extended pay ends)

        Reply
      2. Wildkitten

        Yeah the position will continue to exist but might be filled internally (so they might not hire an additional person, they might just restructure the workload so a person already here will take over what were my responsibilities.)

        Reply
    6. De Minimis

      Wonder if it’s an “up or out” environment, where if someone hasn’t been promoted in so many years, they’re shown the door? Three years would be the limit at a lot of those places.

      I agree, it’s a constructive layoff.

      Reply
  6. Former Computer Professional

    For #4: If the OP’s company is in the US, many local governments have disability-related resources — Google should be able to help. There are often county and/or state funding to get adaptable equipment for low cost or free to employers. I previously worked with a hearing-impaired person and we got phones that flashed, a light for a door buzzer, etc.

    As to not being told about a raise — I realize I’m in a different boat than most folks here. I’m on SSDI and I work part time. SSDI limits how much you can make in a month, and my boss pays me just at that limit. When the SSA raises that amount, he bumps up my pay, and never says a thing. I love my job. :)

    Reply
      1. Gaia

        That is one of the (few) things we do really well. I didn’t know about it either until my nephew lost his hearing. We received funding for everything from these ridiculously amazing smoke alarms that light up instead of making noise to cochlear implants (if we choose to go that route). Schools will also provide interpreters in the classroom for him if he signs.

        Reply
        1. Meg Murry

          Could you point me toward some of these resources? My son wears a hearing aid which is NOT funded by our insurance, and from what I understand the adaptive equipment the school buys comes out of their special ed budget, not any special grants. There are is a lot of equipment that I think would be helpful for him but not 100% necessary, so if we could find some grant resources that would be wonderful.

          Or if this is too far off topic, please post on the open thread today (for workplace resources) or Sunday (for personal resources for your home).

          Reply
          1. Muriel Heslop

            As a special ed teacher, I can say from my experience that adaptive equipment came out of our sped budget. If students had things through grants, that was done by the families or the district sped office.
            It might take some research but things are out there! If you have a school for the DHH in your state, they probably have a lot of great resources.

            Reply
          2. Danielle

            Many hearing aids are not covered by insurance :( Some states do have coverage for children, and rarer few have coverage for all.

            I would look for your state’s Office of Rehabilitation Services or like. They will be able to help point you at places for the free or low cost equipment such as visual smoke alarms, bed shakers, amplifiers, etc.

            Reply
      2. sonofduckboy

        As mentioned above by ModernHypatia, “The Job Accommodation Network” has amazing resources for all disability research, law references, and a searchable network of how you can obtain adaptive equipment in your area (where available.)

        They can be reached at https://askjan.org/

        Best resource I know of.

        Reply
  7. Jen

    #1.- I’ve been in a similar situation: 5 years with a company, great reviews and several promotions. New boss comes in and in 4 months, I just “wasn’t a good fit.” Got a generous severance package and shown to the door.

    New boss had hired a replacement for me within the first month, but it took 4 months before things were finalized. Lovely.

    My story changes a bit depending on who I’m speaking to, but I go with either a “change in leadership & management overhaul” (more management has since been overhauled) or “took time to be with the family” (got laid off while 6 months pregnant- which my lawyer loved- but was able to do consulting for a year while collecting severance; am just now starting to look since my non compete is up).

    Reply
    1. Sans

      This is happening to my husband. He went above and beyond several times in the last few years to step in when others either abruptly quit or were on extended leave. He was told he “was golden” and they really appreciated his hard work. Then he got a new manager. Now all of the sudden he apparently sucks and is about to be fired.

      Yeah, I’m sure he is suddenly incompetent. It couldn’t be the new manager, could it ….

      Reply
      1. Jen

        Eh, new boss is an a$$hat anyway, staff formerly under me is leaving in droves (so I hear). My replacement is totally overwhelmed and had no idea what they were taking on and are furious that I was let go (vs used as a colllaborator/restructured differently).

        And new boss brought in a “buddy” / someone that had been in this role at a former company. So, it’s political and not personal but I want to see them crash and burn nonetheless.

        Reply
      2. Windchime

        Sans, this is happening to me currently at work. I got a couple of promotions in two years, was the right-hand man to the big boss, got glowing reviews and plum assignments. Then was assigned to a new manager (same team) and have received a title demotion (with a lower pay range), gotten a bad review and have had all my important projects taken away.

        I went from being kick-ass and awesome to being told I suck and am hard to work with. It’s really soul-crushing and I’m trying to find the confidence to move on.

        Reply
      3. irritable vowel

        I have been on the managerial side of this, which is incredibly frustrating and upsetting. I was reassigned to a different department and the manager who took over my area started immediately edging out one of my former staff. She (the employee) came to me for assistance but there was nothing I could do – I tried to put in a good word for her with HR but was told that since I was no longer her manager I wasn’t permitted to have any involvement in the situation (I’m sure they also disregarded the 5 years of positive reviews I gave her). It sucked. It was like seeing someone you care about getting into an abusive relationship and not being able to help.

        Reply
      4. Stranger than fiction

        This unfortunately seems common. New managers come in and clean house and hire replacements often whom are known to them or have already worked with them. They may not click with employees considered golden by previous manager or even feel threatened by golden employee or just want reports that are more malleable. Tends to be more common the higher up the manager is.

        Reply
    2. RVA Cat

      How is a non-compete still in force when they let you go? I thought that was mostly for if you quit?

      Reply
      1. Construction Safety

        Yeah, seriously. “You can’t work for us and you can’t work for anyone else like us.”

        Reply
        1. Joshua E

          If the company is paying a severance they may have included a non-compete as part of the package: “We’ll pay you 12 months of severance if you don’t work for any competitors during those 12 months.”

          Reply
    3. Always Anon

      I had something similar happen to me about 10 years ago. A new boss came in and wanted to hire her friend. As a result, i was out.

      But, I think that happens quite a lot when there is management turnover, especially when it’s c-suite staff that are being replaced. At least i know my boss has left a couple different places after the CEO left, because the new CEO wanted to bring in their own leadership team. And then the new leadership team wanted to bring in people who they had worked with before, etc.

      Reply
    4. Kristine

      This is happening to me now. I was in the midst of getting promoted when my manager was laid off. New manager revoked the promotion (despite stellar reviews and recommendations) and said I’m not the right fit for the new team. I’m here till end of July to wrap projects up, then I’m out the door. No severance unfortunately, but I’m hoping I can make traction on the job hunt in the next month. Hearing that others have survived this is bucking up my spirits, so thank you. :) hope you and baby are doing great!

      Reply
        1. Kristine

          I have, but was told by new manager and HR that they only offer severance to employees that have been there 3+ years (been almost 2 for me). But they are paying out the 12 days PTO in my bank so that’s nice.

          Reply
          1. mazzy

            Wow I wouldn’t kill myself to finish things up, that is pretty lousy of them. Of course I’m not familiar with your company, but a week or two per year served would have been nice. I was let go from a job for non performance reasons after nine months and got two weeks severance. It was a very low level hourly corporate job.

            Reply
            1. Christopher Tracy

              I was let go from a job for non performance reasons after nine months and got two weeks severance. It was a very low level hourly corporate job.

              Something similar happened to me. I was let go from a job at a for-profit school after four months and they gave me two weeks severance and paid out my unused accrued PTO.

              Reply
    5. Elizabeth West

      This happened to a bunch of people at Exjob. My position was eliminated and one other, and they let a really stellar manager go. Then it was like dominoes. And the VP who did all this isn’t even there anymore. :P

      Reply
  8. Florida

    OP #4 – I have worked with deaf co-workers, so I thought I’d mention that is a lot easier than you think. First of all, ASL is an easy language to learn (compared to other languages). If you worked with her, you would pick up some phrases – not enough to eliminate the need for an interpreter, but something.

    I worked at a place where the IT person, janitor, and one customer-facing person where deaf. You have to plan a little more. You can’t have an on-the-fly meeting because you have to get the interpreter. But otherwise, all of the people were great employees.

    The first time you have a TTY call or a conversation involving an interpreter, it’s a little bit weird but you get used to it very quickly. Also, remember that the deaf person is used to having conversations with people who aren’t familiar with interpreter protocol, etc.

    Remember that deafness has nothing to do with intelligence, so this candidate could very well be a good employee. They might even be a better candidate because they won’t get distracted by water cooler gossip. ;)

    Good luck with it.

    Reply
    1. Ghost Pepper

      I’m not the OP nor do I work with deaf people. Just wanted to say this is a very helpful post!

      Reply
    2. LW#4

      “They might even be a better candidate because they won’t get distracted by water cooler gossip.”

      The candidate actually mentioned this in their interview- that since they couldn’t hear, they generally just banged out work and were really productive!

      Reply
      1. Belle

        Just curious — did the candidate provide the interpreter or did you find someone directly? This is a new area for me too but I would love to know more in case I run into it in the future.

        Reply
      2. DeskBird

        There was a deaf contestant on project runway one year. He had no use for the drama and when the other contestants started ramping it up he would just pop out his colloquial implant and carry on. He was really funny about it.

        Reply
        1. Meg Murry

          I’m assuming that’s autocorrect, but I love that it turned “cochlear implant” into “colloquial implant”. I’m imaging Spock, Data or a similar android or non-human with a “colloquial implant” to help them speak to the average person.

          Reply
          1. DeskBird

            Ach. Spell check didn’t like that word apparently. Life would be better if we all had a babel fish though – the sci fi thing I want most next to a holodeck.

            Reply
        2. starsaphire

          I was just thinking about Justin while reading this! He was so totally my favorite. :)

          Turning down/off your hearing aids and going to town on your work, without being distracted by the noisy chewer/speakerphone shouter/inappropriate co-worker next to you — it kinda sounds awesome, doesn’t it? :)

          Reply
    3. Catalin

      Howdy there, friend of the hearing-impaired here,
      1) We seem to be assuming that the applicant is 100% deaf and cannot read lips to any degree: deafness isn’t an on-off switch. I’ve had a coworker who was deaf but could hear a little because of the implants: we just had to ensure we were facing her and using active mouth tone (also called ‘talking big’).
      2) For big official meetings, the company brought in an interpreter but day-to-day she operated on her own. She was in my general group and I happen to sign a little, which probably helped. She could also read lips and speak vocally to a degree.

      LW, interview the candidate like you would any other. Answers tend to present themselves if you’re not too startled (or biased, or scared, or whatever) to see them. Just because she needs an interpreter at the interview doesn’t mean she would need one every day.

      Reply
      1. Danielle

        Just wanted to throw in that also many many people assume all deaf people can lipread, but many can’t. So basically, you should never assume what Deaf people can do, just ask them yourself. Even for those who can lipread, really only 20% of words are visible on the lips, the rest is guesswork, so it’s not a reliable method (I’m a lipreader as one of my skills, you should hear the doozies I get wrong). Lipreading is also exhausting for most Deaf people, because of all the guessing, focus, and processing that has to happen, so many people will refuse to do it. For me personally, if you “talk big” at me, it actually makes it worse! Every one is different, no one size fits all.

        Good video on lipreading: https://vimeo.com/148127830

        Reply
    4. Mimmy

      I’m teaching myself ASL through DVDs, and I actually think it’s hard – the sentence structure is so different! But you’re right in that easier in a sense because other languages require conjugation (past, present, future), which I had to learn for Spanish. ASL doesn’t use past or future tenses. It is such a beautiful language!

      Reply
      1. sonofduckboy

        Just for the point of clarifying this… as a student attending a university to obtain a bachelors degree in sign language studies, I can say:

        ASL does to have tense usage structures. As a matter of fact there are 4 instead of our english 3. past, present, not yet (which can be described as a time period that is imminent, looming in the near future, and must occur soon, but has not yet happened) and future (meaning something not so imminent and more likely subject to change). As well as the fact that it has multiple other ways of describing time relation in facial expression, signers aspect, and visual representation (future forward, past behind)

        Since a major component of ASL is facial expression and body language, if a person is good at reading body language, it can be easy to pick up certain phrases as ‘Florida’ suggests. However, you are correct in that the language is extremely complex and very difficult to do well.

        ASL IS DIFFICULT: the structure and actual usage of the language beyond the basic ‘hi, how are you’ ‘where is the bathroom’ etc… is extremely complex and varies greatly from signer to signer. Mastery of ASL is a feat near unattainable for us simple hearing humans. Every day I learn more and more about ASL, and every day I am constantly reminded just how little I do know about it. If I graduate this program, pass my state exams and become an interpreter, then work 5o-60 hours a week for the next 30 years in the Deaf community, Then I MAY say I have achieved a modicum of mastery.

        Reply
  9. Ghost Pepper

    #5: Same thing happened to me just this year! I noticed my paycheck changed. I asked HR if there was a mistake, and they replied that I got a raise and my manager was supposed to tell me. I approached my manager, and he said, “Oh yeah, I didn’t tell you?” I then referred to a recent conversation where I told him I would be looking for a merit increase soon, and he didn’t even mention the raise then. He seemed amused/bemused by this.

    So it was a pleasant surprise. It was actually slightly more than what I would’ve asked for.

    Reply
    1. Jinx

      This happened to me too. I’m a new hire, which at my company means I get fixed increases at set times instead of yearly merit-based increases. This year HR changed the way those work, so I got an increase in a different month than normal. I was confused and my manager hadn’t even noticed that it wasn’t the right time of year when he approved it. Turns out it was all legit, just an HR change that they didn’t announce to anyone. 0_0

      Reply
  10. LW#4

    Thanks for all the comments on my letter! I specifically appreciate all of you who pointed me at resources on the internet and shared your personal experiences.

    Part of the reason that I reached out to AAM is *because* I wanted to make sure that I was treating this candidate fairly. I just want to find the right person for the admin job!

    The interview was yesterday and it went well. The candidate was very nice and I think would be a good addition to our team, but unfortunately lacked the technical expertise we need for the admin position. However, if we had a position open that more matched the candidate’s skillset I absolutely would have recommended them for that position. Even though the candidate only communicated through ASL and text-to-speech, they had held jobs in the past at companies similar to mine so I wasn’t worried that they wouldn’t be *able* to do the job, I was just wondering about the logistics of it.

    And thanks to everyone who gave me the benefit of the doubt that I wasn’t being a terrible person and trying to discriminate against the candidate- the reason I reached out to AAM was to get some advice on specifically how NOT to do that!

    Reply
    1. Mimmy

      Good for you in being proactive and genuinely wanting to make it fair for the candidate. I read so much about discrimination against job seekers and employees with disabilities (I’m a person with a disability and strongly believe in disability inclusion).

      I haven’t read through all the responses yet, so apologies if this is a repeat: Another good resource if you ever run into this again is the Job Accommodations Network. That is one of my favorite sites – it has TONS of material on accommodations and other disability topics. I would give anything to work with those consultants, lol.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth West

        Ugh, I just looked at that and it’s like, “Get a calculator for someone with dyscalculia.” Well that does not help if you can’t figure out what process to use!!!

        I’m doomed. :( DOOMED I SAY

        Reply
        1. Mimmy

          Yeah I’ll admit some of their advice has a bit of a “cookie cutter” feel to it, but I think that’s only because they can’t possibly lay out every person’s situation. Would you consider contacting them for ideas? They’re not just for employers :) (no, I’ve never called, but just a thought).

          Reply
  11. Government Worker

    For OP#3, you mention that person who was supposed to be your mentor has been in touch directly and indicated that she was disappointed as well. If you don’t get a good response back from the program coordinator and your new manager doesn’t get this resolved, maybe you could approach your assigned mentor and ask if she would still be willing to get lunch or coffee more informally, not as a part of the structured program. Informal mentoring happens all the time, and all it takes is one person with more experience being willing to take some time to talk with someone with less experience.

    Reply
    1. Not So NewReader

      OP said she had three more weeks in her position, maybe that is why the mentoring got canceled. Maybe OP will be assigned a mentor appropriate for the next position.

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        True but you can’t have too many networking contacts. I’d go ahead and have lunch with this person.

        Reply
        1. Meg Murry

          Yes, the mentor may be able to give OP some insight as to how to start off on the right foot with OP’s new manager. I was under the impression that OP’s job itself isn’t changing, but rather who she reports to – although that may have some impact on the position itself.

          Reply
      2. Rusty Shackelford

        Actually, she said she’d have a new manager in three weeks – her current manager is being moved into a new position.

        Reply
      3. Kyrielle

        Only three more weeks under her current manager – but from the rest of the letter, it’s the _manager_ changing roles, not OP#3. Sounds like OP#3 will be in the same job with a new manager soon, since the old one is being moved to not have any people under her.

        Reply
  12. Michael

    Keeping the application process focused on skills and experience is a good thing, but can make for an unexpected experience. I hope managers remember than many of us in minority communities of all kinds don’t document everything about ourselves on our resumes. You never know who will show up for an interview!

    Reply
  13. Lauren

    For op #1

    Was there a new manager? Cleaning house, replacing people with their own people is common – and easy to explain.

    Restructure anywhere in the company? Also, easy to explain.

    Reply
      1. Serafina

        That’s almost certainly your explanation. It’s nothing you’ve done wrong, but I along with multiple members of family and friends (at multiple jobs in multiple fields) have found ourselves tossed for vague or nonexistent reasons when management changes. There seems to sometimes be a mindset among people in management positions transitioning over to a management position in another country that they simply MUST eliminate anyone who might be “loyal” to their predecessor or who they didn’t hand-pick. (No, I’m not knocking all managers who’ve changed jobs.) They will probably not give you any more explanation, or dream up a pretense one, because “I didn’t pick you personally so I don’t want you” or “I think you’ll nefariously spy on me for your ex-boss” doesn’t look good.

        Reply
  14. ann perkins

    #1 -Went through something very similar, except I was given no reason AND told that day was my last day. I think the wording I used in interviews is exactly what Alison suggested – the job was moving in a different direction and it was time for me to move on. I may have also said we mutually decided I should move on, but I can’t remember. Either way, people did not seem to be phased by it. Good luck in your search!!

    Reply
  15. newlyhr

    Sometimes people do abuse FMLA. If the manager thinks that somebody is abusing FMLA there are processes to deal with that. Making snarky comments and harassing employees is not one of them!

    Reply
  16. Mimmy

    OP#4 – Thank you again for being so open and willing to be proactive in making the interview process fair for the candidate.

    In fact, I am pleased to see that the AAM community generally seems to be just as open. I get so disheartened reading about the ongoing discrimination against people with disabilities (side note: I am aware that many Deaf people don’t consider themselves to have a disability), so it’s refreshing to see these discussions.

    Reply
  17. Mustache Cat

    #2

    What an awful, awful person! I hope you can get an end to those remarks. She honestly sounds so juvenile. I’m definitely seconding AAM’s advice above and adding my Totally Qualified Opinion that she is a big jerk. You can print that out and give it to HR if you think it’ll help.

    Reply
  18. Nethwen

    And on raises… If your manager tells you that you got a raise, especially when raises are practically unheard of, don’t respond with a flat, disinterested, “Ok.” It takes the fun out of it and makes the manager wonder if it was worth the work to get one for you. *end rant*

    Reply
    1. Alienor

      I think a lot of people probably do that for the same reason they’re hesitant to bring up salary at an interview–because there’s this strange cultural idea that it’s uncouth to seem like you’re too interested in the “making money” part of your job.

      Reply
      1. Nethwen

        Good point. I hadn’t thought of that.

        I mean, I don’t expect exultations or even “thank you,” but something in the voice tone to suggest notice of a raise is good news seems reasonable. When the response makes it sound like the news was bad news, I gotta wonder what’s going on. The cranky part of me wants to respond with, “Oh, that sounds like it was bad news to you. Would you like me to try to undo this?” But that would be mean, especially to subordinates.

        Reply
    2. NaoNao

      Is this raise the 3% yearly adjustment that most large companies put into place and make a huge stink over, even though for most of us, it means, at most, an extra 50$ a paycheck?
      That might explain why the tone. I have worked for companies that would hold all hands town halls and go on and on about how great they were doing and then freeze raises/promotions, then hand out .5% or 1% raises, on a sliding scale depending on reviews. If you got an across the board stellar review you got a 5% increase, payable in a bonus that was taxed at 40%. Whee.
      Could that explain part of it?
      Could it be that the junior has no idea how much work is involved to get a raise approved or that raises are practically unheard of? Is this junior person coming from a retail background, where raises of 10% or so (let’s say an extra dollar per hour after six months) are very common, as to be institutional?
      It *is* annoying to work for someone to give them perks only to feel that they are uncaring. But if any of those circumstances apply, it could explain a bit more of the ‘why’.

      Reply
    1. Biff

      She sounds like a poorly written villain, you know? So over the top you could only put her on TV as a joke or a stereotype. I’m always horrified to find that people actually think and act like this. She’s on my list for worst boss of 2016.

      Reply
  19. Ruthie

    OP#4: the EEOC actually offers your exact situation in its ADA compliance materials that confirm you would be breaking the law to cancel the interview. “Example A: An employer is impressed with an applicant’s resume and contacts the individual to come in for an interview. The applicant, who is deaf, requests a sign language interpreter for the interview. The employer cancels the interview and refuses to consider further this applicant because it believes it would have to hire a full-time interpreter. The employer has violated the ADA. The employer should have proceeded with the interview, using a sign language interpreter (absent undue hardship), and at the interview inquired to what extent the individual would need a sign language interpreter to perform any essential functions requiring communication with other people.”

    There are several ways an employee who is deaf can effectively communicate in the workplace without an interpreter, while still preferring an interpreter in an interview setting. For example, it’s possible she uses a hearing aid and reads lips, but wants to be sure that nothing is missed in the interview, especially if multiple people are interviewing her.

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    1. Observer

      Not only did the OP not indicate that she wanted to cancel the interview, she indicated in the comments that the interview actually happened.

      Reply
  20. Adlib

    #3 – Regardless of the status of the mentor program, is it possible you could have informal lunches with the mentor you were supposed to work with? Maybe a weekly or monthly thing where you go out of the office for lunch and have some discussions would at least help you in some way until the official office mentor thing is settled.

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