happy hours and religious restrictions, our graphic designer is color blind, and more

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

1. Happy hours and religious restrictions

I have a question regarding religious dietary restrictions, and this is something our team at work has been “debating” back and forth for a while. If someone can’t drink for religious reasons (not that it matters, but we have a devout Mormon coworker) and doesn’t want to participate in happy hour after work, is it that person’s responsibility to suggest another place to go/another group activity to do, or is the responsibility of the person organizing the happy hour? Our VP is the sole organizer of these group events, and she pretty much always does happy hour at a nearby bar.

I can see both sides of the issue. On the one hand, if the religious person is unhappy about something, they should make the effort to change it. You shouldn’t really complain about something without at least proposing a solution. But on the other hand, the religious person might feel awkward about having to go against the team and suggest something the team might not enjoy (or show up to) as much as happy hour, or they might feel that it’s the VP’s responsibility to wield her power to include them.

What do you think? And does this fall under (for lack of a better word) the “discrimination” umbrella — i.e. is it discriminatory for our VP to not make accommodations and expect the religious person to do so, or just insensitive, or none of the above? Is this even in accommodation territory, since happy hour is a voluntary event anyway?

It depends on whether it’s an informal happy hour with some coworkers casually getting together or something more like a team event. If it’s the former and a manager isn’t regularly participating, it’s really up to those people to decide how they want to handle that, although certainly the collegial and thoughtful thing would be to suggest more inclusive activities on occasion. But if it’s more like a work event or if a manager is regularly involved, then yeah, the manager has a responsibility to ensure that people aren’t being left out, whether because of religious or dietary reasons, or even just personal preference (like hating bars). That’s because if it’s a work event or a manager is regularly present, there’s a higher obligation to think about the morale and inclusion of the entire group.

Ideally it would be great for the person with the restriction to speak up and make a different suggestion, but realistically many people in that position are hesitant to do so because they feel awkward about it. And ideally everyone else would recognize that reality and speak up so that they don’t have to.

As for discrimination, it could be an issue if it’s a work event, or if it’s giving the religious person less access to work opportunities.

2. Our graphic designer confided in me that he’s color blind

I have recently become the marketing project manager at a medium sized nonprofit. Over the past few weeks, I have had to work closely with our graphic designer, and I noticed that he was getting his greens, oranges, and yellows mixed up. When I asked him about it, he admitted that he was color blind, and asked me to not tell our manager. Looking back over the last several months, I have realized this is a lot of the reasons we have to keep going over a lot of projects and tweaking the colors. It’s challenging as he is our only graphic designer, and obviously it’s necessary for him to get the right colors in the right places.

We are going through a rebrand and our new logo has three different shades of orange in it, and the color palette is a lot of oranges and yellows. I really like the guy, but I’m concerned that this is going to affect his quality of work, resulting in time wasted in a situation where we are already struggling to find enough time to get things done. It feels dishonest to not tell our manager, but I don’t want to get him in any sort of trouble. We are a small enough team that I couldn’t say it anonymously, and I don’t entirely trust our HR team to handle it with tact. What should I do? This “secret” is causing a lot of stress.

Your coworker put you in a really crappy position by telling you about something that has a real impact on the work he does for you but asking you not to tell anyone. One option would be to talk to your manager about what you’ve observed without disclosing what he told you — for example, “I’m finding that Fergus can’t distinguish between certain shades of greens, oranges, and yellows, and it’s causing us to having to keep doing multiple rounds of revisions.” After all, you might have said that even if he’d never told you about the color blindness. But it feels a little icky to know the cause and not bring it into the conversation — which goes back to him putting you in a crappy position.

Your other option is to go back to Fergus and say, “I’m sympathetic, but this is causing issues with the projects we’re working on together, and it’s something I feel like I need to loop Jane in on so we can figure out the best way to handle it.”

3. My new hire is getting stuck with a bad work space

I am a manager of a team within an organization that is growing so much that we are running out of office space. Our senior management team is working on securing additional space, but in the interim we are left in a less than optimal situation. I have two new staff members starting in the next few weeks, both at the same level (let’s say “junior teapot makers”). All of the other junior teapot makers at my organization share an office with one other person (and on rare occasion two, if it’s a bigger office), but have their own desks and have windows in their offices. One of my new hires will be getting the last slot in these offices. The other hire has been assigned a space inside an interior “open” office with a shared table with one other new junior teapot maker who is coming in on a different team. There are no other options for space at this point, although these hires will come in and see some open window offices, but those have been earmarked for senior teapot managers who will be starting in the next few weeks as well.

I am nervous about the optics of all this and how to frame this to my hires. The two in the open office are going to see that every other junior teapot maker has a better office situation than they do, and at this point I can give them no timeline other than “senior staff are working to move you out, but in the meantime you’re stuck.” This is especially sticky given that my two staff members are starting relatively close to one another and one has a much better situation than the other.

Is there anything I can do to make this situation better? Am I overthinking this? I just know that I would feel really upset if I were in their shoes and especially at the junior level would not feel empowered enough to say something. I don’t want to end up losing these staff over this issue, but my hands really are tied.

This isn’t the worst thing in the world — they’re junior, and they’re probably not going to think it’s outrageous that they’re not getting their own offices. Just explain the situation — “I’m so sorry about this, but we’re running out of space, and this is the situation for now. We’re working to get different space for you, but I’m not sure how quickly that will be able to happen.”

This happens — it’s not a slight, just the reality of the space that’s available. Most people, especially junior hires, will be fine with it. Disappointed maybe, but not leaving a job over it. (That said, do what you can to make the situation more comfortable for her — make sure she knows she can wear headphones, that she should talk to you if she finds she can’t focus, etc.)

4. My manager won’t let contractors participate in company events or meetings

I am managing a temporary contractor at a large company, and my boss is set on not letting the contractor participate in any normal employee things: team lunches/outings, she can’t bring her laptop home, she can’t go to any meetings, she can’t participate in company events like volunteering. I have been a contractor myself at other large companies and I felt like I was treated the same as any other employee, even being invited to company-sponsored parties. I also know contractors at the company I currently work for, and they are allowed to take their computers home and one even came to a team laser tag event after hours. I asked my boss if the contractor could go to volunteer day event since she expressed interest in it and she responded, “No, that is not legal. She’s not an employee. You can get sued for treating contractors like employees. I don’t know why X contractor was allowed to go to the laser tag event.”

Is this right? I have never heard of that before, and I don’t like how I can’t treat my new contractor like a real employee. I get that they can’t get benefits or vacation time, etc., but to not be able to go on a team lunch or outing or bring their computer home seems odd.

Many, many companies have similar sets of restrictions on contractors. It’s not that there’s a clear law prohibiting it, but rather that these can be factors that the government looks at in determining whether someone is really a contractor or an employee — because it’s true that if you treat them like employees, the law may decide that they are in fact employees and then the company will owe significant penalties and back taxes. Many companies choose to play it safe and ban the sorts of things you described so that there’s a clear delineation between contractors and employees.

What’s odd here is that your company is doing it one way and your manager is doing it another. Your manager’s way isn’t wrong, per se, but it sounds like your company as a whole takes a less strict approach. You could check with HR to find out what their general guidelines are for this, and then talk to your manager again if it turns out that HR is okay with some of this stuff.

5. After I couldn’t interview on short notice, employer picked a different candidate

An employer found me on LinkedIn and asked me to interview for a position at a small nonprofit foundation that really suited my skills and career aspirations. I completed a phone interview and an in-person interview, and everything seemed to be going well.

The employer contacted me a few weeks later for an interview with her and a board member. However, the only interview time she gave me was less than 24 hours away, would have required me to miss nearly four hours of work (with drive time included) because it was in the middle of the workday, and conflicted with unmissable meetings at my current job (we had a big event in three days, which I had discussed in a previous interview). I politely responded, letting her know that I had limited availability until after the event and that I was still very excited to speak with her and the board member, and I gave her times that I was available. I also informed her that times at the beginning or end of the day worked best for my schedule, but that I was happy to make any time of day work.

I followed up twice over the next two and a half weeks with no response. The next email I received was, “We have chosen another candidate.” Did I commit a major faux pas? Or should I take it as a sign that this wasn’t somewhere I would have wanted to work?

Nope, you didn’t do anything wrong. That was a perfectly reasonable email. I wouldn’t say that it’s a sign you wouldn’t have wanted to work there, though — it’s possible that they just got caught up with other candidates and would have gotten back to reschedule with you except that they found someone they knew was stronger. They shouldn’t have left you hanging for two and a half weeks, but while I’d like to condemn them for that, the reality is that that’s really common in hiring. I’d just write this one off to not being meant to be.

{ 391 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Jerry Vandesic

    #1, does the coworker object to being in a bar under any circumstances, or is there some sort of expectation that participants in the get together consume alcohol? I’ve been to many a bar with people who did not consume alcohol for a number of reasons including health, religious beliefs, etc. Can the coworker go and get a soft drink?

    Reply
    1. Graciosa

      I wondered the same thing.

      If there’s an expectation that employees will drink alcohol – or worse, drink to get to some level of intoxication – I think that’s a problem in itself regardless of any religious objections.

      But when I go to one of these and drink something non-alcoholic, typically it passes without even a comment (one minor exception many years ago when I was underage). I can also say I honestly haven’t a clue whether or not anyone else is drinking alcohol or not.

      The main activity of these events is conversation, and any beverage can keep our throats lubricated while we chatter on. ;-)

      Reply
        1. Dynamic Beige

          Me too. Also, I’m a cheap drunk. Not to the point that a sip makes me tipsy, but close enough. If I’m going to be somewhere for a couple of hours, I might have one mixed drink, like a rum and coke, when I get there but then after that, it’s all water or soft drinks.

          Reply
      1. M-C

        Exactly. The point that’s missing here is that not drinking may be a religious restriction, but trying to impose your non-drinking on your workplace is a missionary stance, which is very, very different. As a raging atheist, it bothers me a LOT when people try to shove their religion down my throat, so no wonder OP’s team is resisting.

        However, as a non-drinker myself, I don’t have any problem going to a bar, discreetly ordering a grapefruit juice, and having a good time along with the coworkers. Grapefruit for several reasons: usually less vile-tasting than canned orange :-), almost universally carried in bars, and looks enough like a drink that the local alcoholic doesn’t harass you about why you’re having water. In addition, showing up early means it’s easy to get full credit for showing up, yet sneak out as soon as things start to get dicey. You won’t be the lush-CEO’s best friend this way, but you won’t get everyone’s hackles up either.

        That said, it’d be nice if companies would pay attention to not strongly encouraging drinking in all their events. Food is always a good addition, and you don’t want to get sued for people’s post-party accidents..

        Reply
          1. Quickbeam

            As a non drinker for religious reasons, I simply do not attend these events. I’ve made my company aware of my boundaries and do not attend any corporate event that includes drinking. I also do not attend work events at gambling venues. I have deeply held beliefs about these things and would be horribly uncomfortable if required to attend. No I don’t talk about it at work and I was upfront about this at time of hire.

            I also find it amazingly strange that my company, in the business of health care, hosts so many work events with an open bar. But that’s their choice. This has never held me back at work, 10 year employee.

            Reply
        1. Nerdy Canuck

          Coming from the same standpoint, you’re taking this way too far. There’s no indication that the coworker would have a problem with, for example, going bowling with the team or to a nice dinner when people happened to drink at either event. It would appear that they’re just not comfortable going to an environment where drinking seems to be expected. Certainly you wouldn’t have the same reaction towards a recovering alcoholic who wanted alternate events, would you?

          Reply
        2. Engineer Girl

          Opting out of an activity because it violates a belief system is hardly shoving it down anyone’s throat. If you see it that way it’s no wonder you are raging. They aren’t telling others they can’t drink – they’re stating that they won’t do so themselves.
          You also don’t get to dictate how someone should behave when following their religion. You may choose to enter the bar and have a grapefruit juice because that works for you. You do NOT get to impose that solution on others just because it works for you.
          The issue is trying to create an inclusive environment. Forcing someone to bend to your way of thinking isn’t doing that. There are plenty of places where the coworkers can drink AND the Mormon can still go. Trying to find a way to accommodate everyone is inclusive. Telling the religious person to “suck it up buttercup” is intolerant and exclusionary.

          Reply
        3. M-C

          But the Mormon -can- in fact go to a bar, there’s no one at the door keeping them out. And no one forcing them to do something against their religion, I’ve been in a bar that had no non-alcoholic option (which is not always the case for company-organized events, but never mind that). And most likely nobody will tell on them if they use the bar as an excuse to drink anyway :-).

          But them wanting to impose non-drinking venues -is- imposing their religious standards on other people. What if you couldn’t shave any more because the office Sikh didn’t like it, would that be acceptable to you? For all we know the VP who organizes these things correctly assumes that ‘nearby’ is the best way to ensure attendance to casual get-togethers, and most likely if people had to drive 3 miles to the nearest restaurant, likely more expensive than even your overpriced bubbly water, the friendly nature of the gatherings would suffer.

          Reply
    2. chickabiddy

      I was thinking the same thing. I do not drink alcohol (though not because of religious reasons) and I have gone to bars with friends plenty of times. I think it would be a good idea for a lot of reasons to have some work social events that do not take place in bars, but I don’t think the co-worker is being unfairly excluded.

      Reply
    3. Al Lo

      My parents are strict tee-totalers for primarily religious reasons (my mom in particular), and it would be a pretty big stretch for her to go to a bar and get a soft drink. As she’s gotten older and her adult children have become more liberal than she is (hee), she’s loosened up a bit, and she’d be okay at a pub or someplace more meal-oriented, but still wouldn’t be particularly comfortable with it. If drinking is a moral issue, it’s difficult to be in a place dedicated to it.

      My parents used to farm, and it was always a challenge for them in the years when their barley crop was good enough to be malt-grade (as opposed to feed-grade). They knew that it was just as likely that their grain would go into cereal or other food, but the possibility that it could go into making alcohol was a challenge for them. Of course they wanted the best crop possible, but in years when the barley crop was a little less excellent, they traded the extra price paid for the moral peace of mind that their crops weren’t contributing to an industry they were deeply in conflict with.

      As an adult, I think that stance is a bit too far, but depending on the co-worker’s level of discomfort with alcohol (as opposed to simply choosing not to drink because it’s a tradition in her faith), it may be asking a lot for her to hang out at a bar and not drink.

      Reply
      1. Ife

        Do you think this would apply equally if it was a “bar-restaurant” where people go to order food too, as opposed to a bar that just serves drinks? I am thinking about the restaurants in my area, and most of them have some sort of bar where people can go for happy hour, even if it’s primarily a place where people go to eat lunch/dinner.

        Reply
        1. Parenthetically

          Not who you asked here, but this would make a huge difference to the teetotalers in my circle. I no longer spend a lot of time with religious teetotalers, but even they would likely not have much problem with going to Applebee’s or similar — those places often have happy hour specials for non-alcoholic drinks and appetizers as well.

          Reply
          1. Al Lo

            Agreed. For someone like my mom, anything that is 18+ only (in Canada here) is more questionable than anything all-ages, even if the restaurant serves alcohol. So, she’s more comfortable in, say, a pub than a bar (and more comfortable there than she used to be), but would definitely prefer an Applebee’s or something like that.

            Reply
    4. The Optimizer

      We had a couple of Mormon staff members at my former job. We also did a lot of team happy hours, but most were scheduled at restaurants with a bar as opposed to a place that only served alcohol. We had company parties at places like Dave & Buster’s and everyone had a good time, without the pressure to drink or looking odd because they weren’t.

      Reply
      1. Whats In A Name

        I was going to comment similar. I think finding a solution in a restaurant/game complex that happens to have a bar might be a happy medium. It allows everyone to have a good time and puts less emphasis on “bar” and drinking.

        Reply
      2. J

        Interesting, when I worked with a Mormon colleague, he wouldn’t go if it was a restaurant with a separate bar area (think Chili’s, On the Border, etc) but would go I the restaurant just happened to serve alcohol and did not have a separate “bar”.

        Reply
    5. fuzzy

      I’m Jewish, and pretty strict about it. I don’t drink in public venues for religious reasons, which most Jews, Orthodox or otherwise, absolutely do. Because I don’t want to get into conversations about religion, or get into arguments with other Jews in the office, I always try to frame my abstinence as a personal choice, not a religious choice. I say that I hate getting drunk, and even a small amount of alcohol has me on the floor (which is pretty true- I get dizzy from a sip of wine).
      Back when I worked in the legal field, it was always a challenge when everyone went out to get hammered- lawyers get seriously drunk on a regular basis! It was awkward while I sipped my soft drink while everyone else was totally wasted. If I was serious about climbing the ladder in that old job, I would have been worried that I didn’t get drunk with the boss. Now I’m in a job where people just go home, no after work drinks, and I’m much more comfortable.

      Reply
      1. Legalchef

        That’s just… not true as a general statement. I know lots of lawyers, being one myself, and I can’t think of any that get seriously drunk on a regular basis. I’m sure there are some out there, just as I’m sure there are some doctors, IT specialists, admins, librarians, graphic designers, etc etc etc who do. But please don’t generalize on a whole profession (or group of people) because of a few people you know!

        Reply
        1. Temperance

          Seriously drunk, no … but our events always have alcohol, and there are always happy hours and networking events at bars.

          Reply
        2. Green

          It actually is empirically true. The legal field has one of the highest rates of alcoholism. While my current work culture isn’t drinking-heavy, my law firm was basically keg stands and Fireball shots 24/7, and I’ve been to two major legal conferences in the last month–both of which involved open bar events each night, with people drinking a lot and closing out bars at 2 a.m. I’m a regular drinker myself, and I couldn’t keep up. Sponsored happy hours and open bar events multiple times a week start in law school, continue through summer associate jobs, and into firm life. It’s a real thing that, while it shouldn’t be generalized into individuals in the profession, does apply to the profession more generally.

          (I did have Mormon colleagues who typically attended the events for a few hours with a Sprite with lime and then went home when people went out to the second or third locations of the night.)

          Reply
        3. neverjaunty

          The legal profession as a whole (at least in the US) has a culture of drinking and a widespread problem with alcohol abuse. Of course it isn’t true that all or even most lawyers are out getting hammered in the regular, but no, it really isn’t just like every other group of people.

          Reply
        4. Renee

          In my legal community drinking is a huge part of the culture. The most serious drinking occurred at the big firm I once worked at, and crazy drunken behavior was incredibly common. The summer associate program seemed to always end with a scandal or two. It was almost like a test to see if you could handle your alcohol enough to eventually work there.

          Reply
      2. SpaceySteph

        This “most Jews” statement is interesting to me, because I am Jewish and I know plenty of other Jews, many of whom do drink in public, even to the point of excess. The kosher ones choose bottled beer from a brand they know to be kosher if not at a kosher restaurant. Once I went to a bday party during Hol Hamoed Passover for an Orthodox friend who had arranged special with the bar for kosher for Passover potato vodka bottle service.

        It’s not surprising to me that if you’ve framed it as “I don’t drink for religious reasons” to other Jews that you get some pushback on that. I take my lesson in it from the Chabad rabbi who told me once that rather than say “Jews do X” or even “most Jews do X,” they simply say “it is my/our custom to do X” so as not to alienate another Jew with a different custom or level of observance.

        Reply
        1. bearing

          I am totally stealing that language to use about my own non-universally-practiced-within-my-faith-tradition devotional practice.

          Reply
        2. pgrmmgr

          I also found the comment interesting – your expansion makes more sense related to the Jewish people I know and socialize with. I have never observed any of them abstaining from having a drink, though I may not notice the choices they quietly make before ordering, kind of like people who have known me for a long time never realize my dietary restrictions until they suggest visiting a brazilian steakhouse or ordering meat heavy cuisine.

          Reply
        3. Hrovitnir

          You appear to have misread the statement (which I can understand because I read it a couple of times). “I don’t drink in public venues for religious reasons, which most Jews, Orthodox or otherwise, absolutely do.” reads as “most Jews absolutely do [drink in public]”.

          Also I feel like it’s unfair that you seem to have implied that they have alienated other Jews by saying they don’t drink for religious reasons when what they have written is that they don’t drink for religious reasons but avoid bringing it up because they know it would easily come across as judgemental (and/or lead to a big debate). So basically exactly what you said.

          Reply
          1. SpaceySteph

            You may be right that the statement intends to say most Jews do drink. Now that you say it, I see that.

            I read the part about getting into arguments with other Jews in the office as coming from past experience, as in it has happened and so they don’t do discuss it anymore. Regardless, I think when you tell other people of similar faith tradition that you don’t do something because of religion it definitely does lead to those people feeling judged and many people react to feeling judged by defending themselves which can lead to arguments. I don’t think I was taking an especially large logical leap.

            I think the phrasing “it’s my custom to avoid/do X” is helpful in this case because it avoids passing judgment on others, as the commenter I replied to seems interested in avoiding.

            Reply
    6. Violet Fox

      Could she not be comfortable being around people who are drinking, or getting lubricated in general?

      Depending on how much other people are drinking durning these happy hours, being the only sober person in a room can be really awkward and uncomfortable.

      Reply
      1. Allison

        I remember being in college, but too young to drink and not really being interested in drinking underage, and feeling very bored at parties where everyone but me was drinking. They were having fun largely because they’d been imbibing, and while it wasn’t uncomfortable, it felt like a huge waste of my time to be there. OP’s coworker may feel the same way at happy hours, not hating it but not really having a good time either, and knowing they’d be much happier at home or hanging out with other non-drinkers.

        Reply
        1. Beth

          That’s me too – I get extremely bored and so I opt out of happy hours whenever I can. Most don’t understand though so it’s unfortunate that a lot people/teams/companies take that as not being a “team player” (nothing related to OP, just saying in general).

          Reply
      2. Simonthegrey

        I am not religiously opposed to alcohol, but growing up with one parent who was an alcoholic and one who drank though not to that extreme, I don’t particularly find hanging out with drinking/drunk people fun. It puts me on edge and I am constantly waiting for the anger and maudlin guilt trips to begin. I did not drink often in college and have only been tipsy once. I have never been drunk. I am by no means a teetotaler or judgmental about other people drinking, but I would not be interested in sitting in a bar with coworkers for happy hour.

        Reply
        1. PlainJane

          I feel similarly–and for similar reasons. I’m fine being around people who are drinking socially, but I’m uneasy around anyone who’s visibly drunk. Work events have never been a big problem for me, because most of my co-workers have never gotten beyond tipsy, but I can see where it would be different in work cultures that involve heavy drinking. FWIW, I love most happy hours, because there’s usually cheap, yummy food, and I’m an unrepentant glutton. Pass me the $2.00 tacos and Diet Coke!

          Reply
    7. Jeanne

      To my understanding, a devout Mormon or a conservative Jew could go to the bar and have soda to drink. But an observant Muslim could not. There may be conservatives of any religion who feel uncomfortable there. And of course it’s not a great place for recovering alcoholics.

      Reply
      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        I think it varies widely, though always good to err on the side of sensitivity and caution! We have a Muslim friend who doesn’t drink, and we live in an area that is All About Beer. He occasionally comes to a brewery or bottle shop with us, and he’ll hang out for a bit without drinking. There are some venues that make him uncomfortable, so when we want to hang out with the big group, we avoid those altogether.

        The advantage of being in a beer-heavy area, though, is that all of the restaurants and many of the coffee shops around here serve beer and cocktails. So we generally plan things where it’s more food- or coffee-focused, and if someone wants a drink, he or she orders it, but our Muslim friend (and those of us who are trying to cut back or just don’t feel like drinking) has more than enough options.

        Reply
        1. LabTech

          I’m a not-so-observant Muslim, and I don’t really feel comfortable in bars. Not for any religious reasons, but because people act so weird about the fact that I’m not drinking and they are. I mean being in a bar and not drinking is already a little awkward of a situation, but certainly one that can be navigated – or rather could be if people didn’t blow it out of proportion.

          Reply
          1. PlainJane

            Interesting. I don’t drink (though not for religious reasons), and the few times I find myself in a bar, the waitstaff seem to assume I’m the designated driver. Some friends have been a little weird around me at first, till they figure out I’m not judging their drinking (and will be their designated driver). Co-workers have always just accepted my teetotaling without comment. But it’s quite possible I’m oblivious to any weirdness.

            Reply
            1. LabTech

              I think I get extra weirdness because I’m abstaining for religious reasons. I don’t care what other people drink or how they live their lives, but many assume that I’ll be offended somehow by seeing them do non-Muslim things – or something to that effect? I don’t quite follow the logic, but the number of people I’ve seen who have refused to drink or eat pork in my presence – or declined to eat while out with friends during Ramadan has been noteworthy. (“No, really, I don’t mind! Eat!”)

              Reply
              1. Rana

                They might be operating out of experience with people for whom dietary preferences are rooted in feelings of disgust towards the food being avoided, not obligation. For example, some of the vegetarians I know avoid meat for health or environmental reasons, and thus are not horrified or disgusted by the sight of people eating meat. Others are vegetarian because they find the very idea of eating animals disturbing, and so are unsettled when others eat meat in their presence (though they’re polite about it). It could be that the people who are refusing to eat/drink in your presence are trying to be considerate of your feelings about those foods and drinks – even if, in fact, you don’t have such feelings, or at least not with regards to others’ dietary behaviors.

                Reply
                1. KellyK

                  That makes sense. For Ramadan, it might also be trying to avoid making the Muslim person’s fast harder or more unpleasant by eating around them—the same way you might pass on dessert to avoid tempting the person who’s watching their sugar.

          2. chickabiddy

            I usually get a cola or cranberry juice — something dark — and ask the bartender to put it in a regular cocktail glass with a slice of lime. I don’t abstain for religious reasons, though, and don’t care if people think I am drinking alcohol; in fact, I would prefer that they think I am so that nobody asks any questions.

            Reply
            1. Can't Drink Anymore

              What happens if everyone orders together? I’m newly in recovery and would prefer that people think I’m drinking. I’m about to go to a job interview at a *gulp* happy hour and am afraid the tech startup people will judge me if I don’t order booze.

              Many people have told me that they look down on people who don’t drink, like they think someone’s weird because of it. Ah, the stress of job searching when you’re sober!

              Reply
              1. KTB

                If you’re all ordering together, I’d make an offhand comment about being on antibiotics or something to that effect. That way, you don’t have to discuss your recovery at all, and hopefully your interviewers won’t press you for a diagnosis.

                Congrats on getting sober, though!

                Reply
              2. PlainJane

                Congratulations on your recovery! I find that being matter-of-fact gets me the least weirdness. I just order whatever non-alcoholic thing I want with no other comment, apology, or anything else that might call attention to my tee-totaling. Now that I’m out of college (we won’t talk about how long out of college), hardly anyone ever comments or asks why I’m not drinking. If someone does, I usually tell them I don’t like the taste of alcohol and change the subject.

                Reply
      2. Nervous Accountant

        Ummm why is it different for a Muslim? There’s shades of being conservative, just like with other religions…there are those who will go to a bar and not drink, while others will avoid it completely.

        Reply
        1. Trout 'Waver

          +1 here. My observant Muslim friends and colleagues are just as likely to be OK or not OK with going to a bar and not drinking as my observant Baptist or Mormon friends and colleagues. This is anecdotal and a small sample size, though.

          Reply
          1. Liz

            Yeah, my stepmother is a Muslim, and some years, her Ramadan fast consists mainly of giving up wine for the month. Whereas her sister is much more conservative.

            Reply
      3. Libervermis

        As a point of data, some of my Muslim friends are uncomfortable going to alcohol-centric places like bars and some aren’t. The ones who are uncomfortable talk about how being in an environment where there is a lot of alcohol is not a good thing for them personally or spiritually. The ones who aren’t uncomfortable don’t feel that way. So I’d imagine it varies person-to-person, and that the safest bet for everyone is to make sure things are optional and mix up the location regularly to include non-bars. I’m a light social drinker and I’m not a fan of bars, so mixing it up is nice for all kinds of people.

        Reply
      4. Lemon Zinger

        I live outside of Utah, but in a very Mormon-heavy area. I don’t think my Mormon coworkers would go to bars because they’re concerned with appearances of sin, but obviously it depends on the person.

        Reply
      5. M-C

        What? What sources of info are you getting your Muslim no-bar edict from? Certainly no Muslim I’ve ever met.. There are fanatics in every religion, that doesn’t mean they’re actually putting into action any real imposition from their religion.

        Reply
        1. KellyK

          Religion is pretty individual, though. Whether your religion or denomination has a blanket restriction on something, it might still be out of bounds for *you personally.* And “doesn’t go to bars” is hardly the definition of a fanatic.

          To give a Christian example, giving up chocolate or coffee or alcohol for Lent isn’t an overarching obligation. But if an individual chooses to abstain from one of those things, then they are practicing their religion, and it would be crappy to call them a fanatic or tell them they really can have coffee because the Pope didn’t specifically say that they can’t.

          Reply
    8. Joseph

      Exactly. It’s only awkward if you MAKE it awkward by focusing attention on it. If you’re just casual, have a couple (non-alcoholic) drinks and don’t make a big deal of it, nobody will even notice, much less care.

      Reply
    9. MissGirl

      Devout Mormon here. Yes, I have gone to bars when that’s where the socialization occurs and just sip water in the background. But it can be awkward and exhausting. I had one coworker keep asking me if I wanted to try, if I’d ever been tempted, and would I just try a sip. Nope, nope, and nope.

      I’ve noticed people who are drinking a significant amount (versus just sipping wine or a small drink) don’t like to be around people who aren’t drinking. I appreciate it when happy hour is at a restaurant with a bar so not everything revolves around alcohol and I can order an appetizer. I don’t know if I’d speak up as it would depend on how much seniority I had. I recently started a new job and they sent out happy hour invites with a list of places to rank. I liked that as I could rank restaurants over bars higher.

      I read an interesting article yesterday (https://medium.com/@kristicoulter/https-medium-com-kristicoulter-the-24-hour-woman-3425ca5be19f#.7601thtp1) about how much society’s activities revolve around drinking and how it’s getting too much even for people who do drink. I would recommend choosing a place that gives people choices as it sounds like a VP is involved.

      Reply
      1. Rebecca in Dallas

        I *just* read this article, in fact I still have it open in another tab. It really resonated for me. I drink, though I’m trying to cut back/abstain for health reasons. I could definitely relate!

        Reply
      2. JOTeepe

        I read Kristi Coulter’s piece right after I read this post today. I was actually very turned off by the judgy tone in most of it, though my heart went out to her when she spoke of the mandatory work wine tasting event. Overall, though, I was a bit insulted by the idea that I am a bad feminist or have poor coping skills because I enjoy alcohol on occasion, in moderation.

        A friend linked the article and we had a great discussion on it, where another friend pointed out that she’s coming from a place of (former?) addiction, so of course she finds the culture more prevalent and insidious. It was a perspective I hadn’t considered.

        Anyway, mostly just commenting that it’s interesting that the majority of my online communications today have surrounded this topic. :) Happy Monday?

        Reply
      3. Renee

        I do drink, but rarely, and generally at home or at a friend’s home during low-key social activities. Perhaps it’s what I experienced in the hard-drinking legal world, but I am not comfortable with work situations centered around drinking. It’s just not a good idea, in my opinion, to mix work with impairment or lowered inhibitions. There are so many other options out there for work-related social events. Even if there’s drinking involved, I think it’s best to make something else the focus, like food, or sports, or kayaking.

        Reply
      1. Allison

        Last I checked, Shirley temples didn’t contain caffeine, nor do other “mocktails.” Sprite, orange soda, and some root beers are also fine.

        Reply
        1. Anna

          It depends. Some of the people I used to know who were practicing Mormons avoided any caffeinated drinks, others made distinctions, and still others didn’t avoid caffeine at all.

          Reply
        2. Parenthetically

          I once ate a meal in the BYU Hawaii cafeteria and none of the soda fountain options were caffeinated. Sprite, sure, but also caffeine-free Mountain Dew, Coke, Pepsi, etc.

          Reply
      2. Gaia

        According to literally every Mormon I know (and I live in what feels like Mormon City, USA outside of Utah) caffeine is a drug and therefore not allowed. I think some are less strict about it, however.

        Reply
        1. Jordan

          Speaking as a Mormon, we live with what we call a Word of Wisdom, which lays out guidelines for multiple aspects of health and eating. Caffeine is not prohibited,but is one of those areas that exists in many religions where members have to decide what they think is appropriate for themselves. I don’t generally drink it, but others do. Coffee is something that is prohibited, but it isn’t just about the caffeine. No authority has ever said it was just about caffeine, though I personally think it has to do with the addictive aspect and the dependency. Focusing solely on the caffeine takes away from the spiritual aspect of the law, which is that we trust that God is right about what we put into our bodies and regardless of the reasons why, we will be blessed and better able to feel his spirit if we live the word of wisdom.

          Reply
            1. Jordan

              It isn’t something that I know the answer to, and there is no specific doctrinal explanation. It’s more about trusting God that he knows what he is talking about when he tells us what should and shouldn’t be ingested. In my opinion, it probably has something to do with the addictive aspect and people’s dependency on it, but probably other reasons, just like there are a whole host of reasons you could give for not drinking alcohol. That’s my opinion though and not the official church’s. There really isn’t an official answer to specifics on exactly why.

              Reply
              1. Jordan

                Which is why I called it a spiritual law. It is as much about faith in being willing to follow the commandment as it is about anything else.

                Reply
        2. Mona Lisa

          One of my academic Mormon friends recently posted a long Facebook comment in response to the question about why some Mormons do and others don’t drink pop. I find it fascinating so I thought I’d share what she said:

          “In 1833, Joseph Smith’s wife Emma was sick of cleaning up spitting tobacco stains from Smith’s friends. “It just doesn’t make sense that all you holy men would do something so disgusting,” she complained. Smith agreed! So we went to God in prayer, and instead of just getting a ban on tobacco, he received a revelation Mormons call “The Word of Wisdom” or sometimes “The Lord’s Law of Health.”

          You can read it here: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/89?lang=eng

          One of the most interesting aspects of reading it is you’ll quickly see that there’s a bit of a disconnect between what Mormons SAY it says, and what it ACTUALLY says.

          The vast majority of Mormons will say that the Word of Wisdom is a commandment from God because he wants us to be healthy. It tells us to generally eat healthy, and bans alcohol, coffee, tea, tobacco, and by extension any non-prescription drug. You can’t be a good Mormon and take those things — Bishops won’t let you get baptized or go to a Mormon Temple (different from an everyday church) if you partake of any of those banned substances.

          What the Word of Wisdom ACTUALLY says is that it’s a recommendation, not a commandment. (Fun fact: No one took it very seriously until the early 1900s — the theory is that it achieved prominence in order to make Mormons stand out after polygamy ended, and as part of the broader temperance movement in American Protestant circles).

          It disapproves of “hot drinks” (undefined, although a later leader clarified that meant coffee and tea). It tells people to eat lots of plants (grains and fruits and vegetables), and comes very very close to demanding vegetarianism from everyone (Mormons ignore that part). It also says beer is fine, although hard liquors aren’t. (Mormons ignore that part, too.)

          In the 1910s, a scientist was trying to figure out what the common link was between coffee and tea, and realized it was caffeine. He then explained that caffeine was also found in burgeoning-in-popularity Coca-Cola. In response, a leader of the church told all Mormons to stop drinking Coke.

          In 1924, Coke was STUNNED that sales had PLUMMETED in Utah, and so they sent some sales guys to Salt Lake City to figure out why. When they heard about the caffeine explanation, they spent a considerable amount of time trying to explain why Coke had less caffeine then coffee/tea, and really it was good for you, etc. The leader of the church believed their explanation, and retracted the ban for all members.

          To this day, there is a deep, deep divide in Mormon circles as to whether caffeine itself is actually evil. My mother, for example, would never let any soda into our house — my dad would sometimes sneak it behind her back anyway. BYU doesn’t sell it on campus; kids buy it at the 7-11 across the street anyway. You get the idea.

          So because caffeine itself isn’t banned, people eat chocolate with abandon. In fact, “sugar” is the drug of choice at most Mormon parties — they’re teeming with cookies and cakes and a million other things.

          But you’re right. “Sugar” and other junk foods goes against the overall spirit of the rule — eat healthy!!! avoid addictive substances! — but it’s not one Mormon leaders have ever emphasized or attached consequences to, and so it’s ignored.

          // end story.”

          Reply
          1. Jordan

            Some of this is more opinion than fact, although it is informative. I do consider eating all my vegetables and consuming low amounts of sugar to be a part of my observance of the word of wisdom.

            Reply
      3. TMA

        I’m Mormon. There’s no “official” doctrine on this; although church leaders have cautioned against excessive use of caffeine e.g., energy drinks. The drinking of caffeinated pop is a personal choice, and some people are more strict than other. I say this as someone who regularly drinks diet Coke.

        The official doctrine (also known as the Word of Wisdom) is to avoid coffee, tea from a tea leaf (herbal tea is OK), tobacco and alcohol. Often forgotten, but equally important, the Word of Wisdom also talks about eating a healthy diet full of grains, vegetables, fruit, and eating meat sparingly.

        Reply
          1. TMA

            So I’m a convert to the church (I joined about seven years ago), and truly, giving up coffee and tea was the hardest part. I basically believed all of the doctrine anyway (the teaching are very similar to the Catholic Church, and I was semi-raised Catholic), and I lived like a Mormon anyway having gone through high school with several close Mormon friends. But the coffee and tea though, I still sometimes crave it all these years later.

            Reply
            1. Elizabeth West

              I think I’d miss the taste of coffee more than the caffeine. I sometimes have a cup of decaf later in the day just because I want the flavor.

              Tea is more than a beverage to me–it’s become a little ritual, especially in the afternoons when I need a break. But I guess the ritual wouldn’t change if I substituted herbal tea or another drink.

              Reply
    10. MissGirl

      Devout Mormon here. Yes, I have gone to bars when that’s where the socialization occurs and just sip water in the background. But it can be awkward and exhausting. I had one coworker keep asking me if I wanted to try, if I’d ever been tempted, and would I just try a sip. Nope, nope, and nope.

      I’ve noticed people who are drinking a significant amount (versus just sipping wine or a small drink) don’t like to be around people who aren’t drinking. I appreciate it when happy hour is at a restaurant with a bar so not everything revolves around alcohol and I can order an appetizer. I don’t know if I’d speak up as it would depend on how much seniority I had. I recently started a new job and they sent out happy hour invites with a list of places to rank. I liked that as I could rank restaurants higher over bars.

      I read an interesting article yesterday on Medium by Kristi Coulter about how much society’s activities revolve around drinking and how it’s getting too much even for people who do drink. I would recommend choosing a place that gives people choices as it sounds like a VP is involved.

      Reply
      1. Lily Rowan

        As a person who drinks, I could not care less if or why anyone else isn’t drinking. The people who hassle non-drinkers make me so mad! Who cares?? Leave people alone with their choices!!!

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth West

          + a million.

          The restaurant idea is much better. I don’t know about other people, but happy hour usually occurs at a time when I’m hungry anyway, and not all bars serve food. If I had to sit there with a drink and nothing to eat, I’d get tipsy and be silly and nobody needs to see THAT. If I were not drinking, I would only be able to think about how I’m slowly starving to death.

          Reply
      2. Jordan

        Same here! I am a practicing member of the LDS (mormon) faith. I am always happy to go to the happy hours and just drink water (although my coworkers never get drunk which would be slightly less comfortable for me). I do occasionally get people pressuring me about the reasons I won’t and trying to tell me why I should, but for the most part it is fine. I mean, I’d prefer to do something else, but I don’t mind since I am the only one who doesn’t drink.

        Reply
      3. newlyhr

        Yes, I don’t drink either and there is always some jerk who wants to make a big deal out of it. It’s kind of creepy to think that someone is monitoring what I am drinking so closely. It is usually the person who really needs to be paying more attention to his own consumption because he is usually getting sloshed.

        I think the VP is making a big mistake here. He/She needs to get out of the happy hour business. It’s hard to say no to the VP, so even if it isn’t an “official” work event, it feels obligatory. I’ll bet there are a few people who would be relieved to see these go by the wayside. Most of us spend enough time with our coworkers–we would like to go home and enjoy other components of our lives. if people want to hang out, they will figure out how to organize those opportunities. They don’t need the VP to do it for them.

        Reply
        1. Joseph

          I think you’re being far too harsh on the VP. This is really a company culture thing. I’ve worked at companies where happy hours were ‘scheduled’ (using the term very loosely) by senior managers and had no issue with it. The key is that when it’s called optional, it needs to be truly optional. No tracking who is or isn’t there, no detailed talk about work, no mention of “hey, missed you last night”, and so on.
          Also, it can depend on the culture, but at many companies, it’s often awesome for a senior person to plan things – since they’ll cover appetizers or the first round or whatever.

          Reply
      4. sleepwakehopeandthen

        I usually don’t drink, and I find it very interesting the different groups of people that I have been at drinking-events with and their responses. My friends and co-workers don’t care if I don’t drink. They will offer me something, and sometimes a few different options, because they know I sometimes drink, but if I say I’m not drinking tonight, they leave it at that. Even if they are getting completely hammered (that was more in college, admittedly). This is more STEM/academia field.
        My husband works in a standard business field and oh my goodness do his co-workers pressure me to drink when I am at company events. Same general age group of people (although his co-workers have an older upper-bound), completely different responses.
        But I do prefer when the happy hour is a place where I can substitute my alcohol calories with delicious food. (One time a bar/restaurant was having a special on ice cream sundaes and so I got one and carried it around all through the bar socializing and it was the best.)

        Reply
    11. Anon Guy

      Exactly what I was going to say. I’ve gone to bars and ordered juice or club soda and no one has said a word.

      Reply
    12. neverjaunty

      I guess maybe OP should just ask the co-worker? #1 seems to be more of a theoretical question of “who bears the obligation to speak up”, but, seriously, how hard is it to just start the conversation regardless of who “should” be the first to say something?

      Reply
    13. Non drinker

      Are we sure the religious person cares?

      I don’t drink, and I often skip work happy hours just because it’s not my thing. I do go occasionally and get a soda or something but more often than not I don’t attend. That certainly doesn’t mean I expect them to schedule other events instead of happy hours. And I don’t plan on offering alternatives myself either. It isn’t something that bothers me at all.

      Is the person complaining or are you just making the assumption that he’s annoyed at frequent happy hours being scheduled?

      My guess is most people that don’t drink don’t want to draw attention to the fact that they don’t drink and would rather avoid making you go out of your way to cater to their lifestyle.

      Reply
  2. SuperCroup

    #2 it’s a nice short-term solution, but more long-term, it looks like this company’s general design is not accessible to people with issues with color vision. Having a colorblind graphic designer could ultimately be a good thing. (I’m colorblind, and design choices – even purely aesthetic ones – that make no sense to me because of the colors are a constant source of irritation.)

    Reply
    1. T3k

      Not to take away from your statement, but depending on the program a graphic designer uses, there is a colorblind preview, and even with 2-3 different versions (didn’t even know there were different states of colorblindness until I saw them under the preview option). Sadly though, colorblindness is treated like left-handed in many areas: it gets overlooked and we end up having to make due with that we have available :/

      Reply
      1. BrownN

        I have also heard of graphic designers that are color blind and usually colors were not much of an issue.

        I might be helpful for the graphic designer to see if glasses for color blindness may be useful for him. There is a company name, Enchroma, that has designs them, along with other companies.

        Reply
    2. AcademiaNut

      I think the problem is that with a bit of effort and the appropriate tools, someone with normal vision can design a logo that looks reasonable to people with varying degrees of colourblindness. But a colour blind person can’t tell if their design looks good to people with full colour vision.

      Reply
      1. Brooke

        I’m a graphic designer with 15+ years of experience, currently working with a red/green colorblind designer. He is incredibly talented and it has not once been a problem. To be honest, it’s not something that even comes to mind in the 4 years I’ve worked with him.

        You have a challenge; you meet it; you overcome it.

        Reply
        1. Natalie

          A friend of mine is a colorblind graphic designer (not red-green, a
          different form) and their performance doesn’t seem to suffer at all.

          Reply
          1. Liane

            Yes, this is possible. My dad was a painting contractor. He started his business in the late 40s/early 50s, well before those machines that mix paint and pigments. Painters carried bottles of the pigments to tint the paints themselves, so being able to match colors was a key part of the job. One of my dad’s early partners was totally colorblind, he saw everything in grayscale. But, dad told me, he had a knack for coloring the paint! He could tint paint to match the swatch or sample–exactly–as well as my dad and just as quickly.

            Reply
            1. FCJ

              My father-in-law is completely colorblind and has a similar ability. He was a photographer for years, and even now he can often look at a black-and-white photograph and identify the colors from the grayscale. Basically, if you’ve always been colorblind, you’re not really “missing” anything. If someone shows you a block of color when you’re a little kid and says, “This is red,” how are you supposed to know you’re not seeing the same thing they are? That’s just red.

              Reply
          2. Kimberlee, Esq

            Yeah, I was gonna say, graphic design software is designed for color matching; so, as long as you know, say, the hex code of the colors you need, and can use the little eyedropper tool to get matches, you could see everything in greyscale and still be able to use colors and ensure they match.

            Reply
            1. copy run start

              This is what I was thinking. The new scheme should list the hex codes, RGB values, etc for each of the shades. I’m not colorblind nor a professional graphic designer by any means, but that was how I always ensured I got things right when working with specific colors.

              Reply
            2. Is it Friday Yet?

              My Dad used to edit photos, and he is color blind. What you’ve described is exactly how he got by without being able to see color like a non-color blind person would. It was almost never an issue.

              Reply
            3. M-C

              You can do a fair bit of work with color-matching in software, yes. But original graphic design, which sounds like what’s discussed here, is much more than that. In my opinion, sensitivity to color is essential there. And typography and spatial design are important parts of graphics, and it could be quite helpful to have on a team someone whose color limitations make them more sensitive to these other dimensions. And such a person would also be very helpful in checking that the designs are accessible (although there are websites for that now, and there are several large variations in colorblindness which are not very compatible).

              But notice I said ON A TEAM. Having a color-blind person as the sole designer is nonsense. OP, you need to address this with your manager so that a color-aware person is pulled in, even if only for occasional consulting on this specific topic.

              I once got stuck with a marketing guy as the final arbiter of colors on a website, who turned out to be colorblind. After much wrangling what we got was.. IBM 1965. This did not help our public image at all. Never again.

              Reply
        2. Newby

          It seems like a large part of the problem is that he is keeping the fact that he is color blind secret. They could work around it better if he was open about it.

          Reply
          1. Dynamic Beige

            One of the people I used to work with was red-green colour blind. But, he was open about it and if he wasn’t sure, he would ask someone. Once I got over the “how can you be a designer and be colour blind?” thing (which was my own hang up), it wasn’t an issue. About 1 in 12 men are colour blind, so I’m sure there are a lot of designers out there who have the same issue.

            IMO, the fact that #2’s designer is colour blind isn’t the problem, it’s the fact that he hasn’t copped to it and gets feedback when he needs to. I would bet a lot of these production problems would disappear if he checked in with Manager or a team mate to confirm that his colour choices are OK, instead of just plowing ahead with it.

            Reply
            1. Brooke

              In my experience, the colorblind designer I worked with did NOT openly mention the colorblindness because he was fearful that people would assume a lack of ability stemming from that issue, and might overlook the fact that workarounds (like those mentioned above) had always worked brilliantly for him. He was understandably concerned it would be seen as a vulnerability. So, the mere lack of what could be seen as upfront-ed-ness (is that a word?) is not an issue in my opinion. Any reluctance to develop workarounds, however, could be problematic.

              Reply
        3. WorkingMom

          Yes, I would think this could be overcome with some minor work arounds. (I’m thinking as you re-brand and develop identity standards, it will be much easier to select the right colors once everything is clearly defined.) I like the option of talking to the designer and saying while you don’t think this is a big deal, you do need to work together to develop a system that will work. If it were me, I’d hate for the designer to think I went above him/her after I had promised my confidence to that person. But keeping it a secret seems like it will just continue to cause rework when it could be easily avoided and just prepared for in advance.

          Reply
        4. Lisa

          I’ve also worked with color-blind graphic designers and it wasn’t an issue.

          It isn’t clear from this description whether the real issue is the mixing up of colors, or proposing color combinations that don’t look good to non-color-blind people. Because for the first one, color-blindness is no excuse. Graphic design software will provide the numeric value of any color, so mixing up the shades is just sloppy work by anyone. If its about proposing color combinations in new designs, this could be a bigger issue. But unless we are missing something, the color mix-ups is a red flag about not checking his work.

          Reply
    3. Marcela

      This is an excellent point. Depending on what you company is doing, OP, having a colorblind designer can be actually a great thing, for he can check, design and be sure that all graphic aspects follow usability recommendations for colorblind people. Usability is ofter ignored, and it can create serious problems to people with non standard vision. For example, all those errors marked in red, but without any other way to signal they are actually errors (which can be as simple as to add “error” before the error message). Or relying only in colors in forms to show mandatory fields. A good design should be tested for most types of colorblindness, and here you don’t have to simulate it.

      Reply
      1. JM in England

        I’ve a related anecdote re the colour-blind graphic designer. My field is in chemistry and many years ago (early to mid 90s I think), I interviewed for a job in quality control at an ink factory. Part of this interview was a colour blindness test, much like the one you would get at your doctor. Therefore, I would think it a fair assumption that failing this test would immediately end your candidancy.

        Also, when taking the practical part of my A level chemistry, you were allowed an interpreter if you were colour blind. This is because the results of many tests are deduced by the colour produced; for example, universal indicator paper gives different colours depending to the pH of a solution.

        Reply
    4. MK

      I think that would be a good argument for having a colorblind designer too, not when the colorblind designer is the only one.

      Reply
      1. Attitude of Champions (puke)

        Team that.

        Once upon a time, my only marketing graphic designer was at least partially color blind. As an example, he could not see the difference between oranges and pinks, and…… we were running breast cancer awareness campaigns. The stress on my marketers was huge. They had to check every thing he did and try to describe to him how the colors should be adjusted. Increased their work load and the time line on the project and missed deadlines and suboptimal product output.

        Fast forward 20 years, one of our junior graphic artists told one of the people he works with that he’s colorblind. News gets to me and I flash back to that awful time period previously but, it hasn’t been that big a deal because we don’t give him anything where he has to make color choices.

        Generally though, a good eye for color and a sense for color design is a basic requirement for, and expectation of, a graphic artist.

        Reply
    5. Purest Green

      […] it looks like this company’s general design is not accessible to people with issues with color vision.

      That was my first thought too. A logo represents the company, and when a certain population can’t translate that representation then it seems obvious to design it in a way that’s accessible to your entire population.

      Reply
      1. Willow

        Not being able to create the logo isn’t the same as not being able to read it though. For example, there are many images that look fine when translated into greyscale, but if you only saw the greyscale you couldn’t recreate the color image. (I know colorblind people don’t necessarily only see greyscale)

        Reply
        1. Purest Green

          I never said they were the same thing. (???) If you learn that a certain population (colorblind people) can’t see your logo the way you intended, then it might be advantageous to scrap that one and create one that causes fewer visual issues.

          Reply
    6. Theguvnah

      My initial response to this whole question was “why would someone with color blindness go into graphic design?! Bananas!” And now I have read this and learned something and am embarrassed at my initial thoughts but grateful. Thanks all.

      Reply
    7. Gina Luttrell

      I COMPLETELY agree with this. I am a web/graphic designer with full color vision, and I actually think that this person might be afraid of discrimination because of his disability—which I completely sympathize with. Not enough people know enough about graphic design to know that color blindness is a mild inconvenience at best, and that having a color blind designer could actually be a really great benefit.

      Logos, for example, should be developed in black and white before colors should be brought in, and while multiple colors in logos can be okay, doing varying shades of orange seems like a terrible idea to me.

      I would add that the manager in question should do some research on color blindness and design, and then assure the employee that they will not fire him over this, they are just looking for a way to best accommodate him.

      Reply
  3. NicoleK

    #1. Has employee complained of being left out of after work get togethers? Would employee participate if the get together was elsewhere besides the local bar? If the employee has no interest in spending time with their coworkers outside work, then there is no issue.

    Reply
    1. Engineer Girl

      Employee may feel uncomfortable complaining because it is an event outside of work. They may also feel uncomfortable complaining because they are in the minority. Many times complaining would highlight the “otherness” of the person. Complaining may also make them look like they are not a team player. In short, it’s a mine field.

      The real issue is that others know that the employee can’t participate for religious reasons. Substitute other reasons as needed – may have to pick up kids after work from childcare, may have to take public transit. When you know a place/date/time is inconvenient to others and you choose to schedule that event anyway – time, after time, after time, you are sending a clear message of exclusion. You’re saying “my wants are more important than yours”. Granted, you may occasionally have to schedule an event that causes conflict with someone. But it shouldn’t happen on a regular basis.

      In this case there are a lot of other choices available, yet no changes are being made. That says it all.

      Reply
      1. Joseph

        I think it really depends on how formal these things are. If it’s a formal work event, yeah, you should try to vary things up to include everyone.
        But I’m viewing this as a way more informal “hey guys, we’re all getting together after work at Local Restaurant”. These sorts of things tend to have plenty of people who skip out for various reasons anyways (kids, working late, etc) and usually a few people who will show up and just grab food without alcohol (long drive home). And in most cases, nobody notices or cares what you eat/drink, unless *you* turn it into an issue.
        “In this case there are a lot of other choices available, yet no changes are being made. That says it all.”
        What other choices? Maybe there are some places which aren’t as focused on alcohol, but basically every idea I can think of would allow for drinking – a sit-down restaurant hands you a beer/wine list as you sit down, ballgames have wandering beer vendors, etc. Given that the point of these things is to be social and relaxed, if the option is there, you will certainly have co-workers that choose to indulge. If co-worker’s religious beliefs are so strong that they cannot show up and drink soda while others drink beer around them, I’m not honestly sure how you could accommodate that.

        Reply
        1. Colette

          Even if it’s informal, choosing to repeatedly do something a coworker can’t do sends a message. If it’s a couple of people (<25% of the office), that's one thing, but if it's the majority, that's a problem.

          And as others have pointed out, there's a difference between a venue that's focused in alcohol and one that's not that serves alcohol.

          Reply
          1. Violet Fox

            Indeed, for the nondrinker even if that is informal, having things only happen s as happy hour over and over again can be an intensely othering experience and send the message that since they don’t drink, they don’t really belong, are less likely to get promotions etc since they don’t really belong. That is not a very pleasant message to get.

            Reply
            1. Lemon Zinger

              I am SO glad that you said this.

              My first job out of college was in a very party-oriented atmosphere. (Think start-up culture, beer in the office, etc.) All of my team’s “fun” events were happy hours. I am very uncomfortable with the idea of drinking with coworkers, and realized that the events were intensely awkward for me since I was the only one not drinking. It got to the point where I had to make up excuses for why I wasn’t going to HH with the team because they pressured the heck out of me to go.

              Obviously it’s not okay to pressure people to attend events they don’t want to go to. But my social status in the company really suffered because I wasn’t attending those events, even though they were “optional.” It’s part of what made me realize: hey, this is the wrong job and the wrong industry for me.

              Reply
        2. Oryx

          Even if it’s informal I think it’s still important to be as accommodating as possible. Not necessarily every time but at least make an effort to vary the location. Otherwise you’re basically telling your co-worker “We know you can’t / won’t come to this but we don’t really care.”

          Reply
        3. Elsajeni

          Of course lots of social settings allow for drinking; I don’t think that’s the concern. I’m assuming that, when the OP says these events are “happy hour at a local bar,” that’s actually how they’re being presented — that’s the issue. Happy hour isn’t an event that allows for drinking, it’s a drinking-focused event.

          Reply
    2. Total Rando

      I think this is another one of those letters where the right answer might be to just TALK to the person.

      Here’s what we know:
      – employee doesn’t drink due to religious reasons (though the reason doesn’t matter too much in reality)
      – employee doesn’t attend happy hours with coworkers

      Here’s what we don’t know:
      – WHY the employee doesn’t attend happy hours
      – IF the employee would even WANT to attend events after work with coworkers

      I’m Mormon (who regularly orders Shirley Temples with pride at many a happy hour) and I can see 1000 reasons why this person might not want to go to happy hour that have nothing to do with the fact that she doesn’t drink.
      – Maybe she wants to take off and go home to her kids/her dog/her netflix account
      – Maybe she has evening plans with friends or a significant other
      – Maybe she has after-work responsibilities with the Mormon church (very common)
      – Maybe she spends enough time with these people AT work and doesn’t want to spend even more time with them AFTER work

      I don’t see why the OP couldn’t just talk to the employee about whether or not she’d prefer to get together with coworkers outside of a drinking situation.

      Reply
      1. Whats In A Name

        If I could add clapping emoji’s I would. This is the best answer to this question – and one I didn’t think of. If this is a truly optional event, which it should be if they are knowingly excluding someone, this could solve all stress about issue for #1.

        I accept an invitation to after work happy hour about once a year. I drink, bars don’t offend me, it’s fun to let loose – just not with the people I already see during the majority of my waking hours.

        Reply
  4. Bookworm

    Re #2

    I’m not colorblind and don’t know much about it – so commenters who know more here can jump in and correct me – but I’m wondering if perhaps the co-worker doesn’t really realize the impact this is actually having on the team. One of my closest friends is colorblind, and she has remarked that she forgets she is, because she only ever really notices when she’s getting eye tests done.

    Obviously, it sounds like this is having a real impact on his work, but without the frame of reference of what it’s like to NOT be colorblind, OP’s coworker might think that the many conversations they’re having tweaking color are within the norm. (Or perhaps part of him wonders if his colorblindness is the problem, but no one comments on it so he’s able to reassure himself that it’s not.)

    I like Alison’s suggestions for the OP are good ones, and don’t think OP should feel any guilt here about “tattling.” I think all this extra work probably has much more of a negative impact on this guy’s career than his manager knowing he’s colorblind.

    Once that’s a known issue there must be ways of working around it that are more effective than the current system. Although I would be interested to hear from people who are colorblind as well – I imagine there are plenty of artists and designers who have worked around it well.

    Reply
    1. ginger ale for all

      I worked with a color blind guy once and the library would run a lot of things by him to see if a color blind person would interact with what was being produced. The color blindness can be turned into an asset. I think there was even a color blind contestant on Project Runway a few seasons ago that went far into the competition.

      Reply
      1. ginger ale for all

        I just looked it up, the designer’s name is Anthony Ryan Auld and he won the second season of the Project Runway All Stars show. He made it work for him.

        Reply
      2. JM in England

        I’ve also read that colour blind soldiers were used during World War 2 as tank spotters. Allegedly, the camouflage colours/patterns on tanks did not appear the same to such people and were thus more easily perceived by them.

        Reply
    2. hbc

      About the forgetting: my husband never seems to forget when he’s driving and there’s a single flashing light. “Red or yellow?” Or when he’s got a row of unlabeled paints in front of him that aren’t fully saturated colors. Or when he’s got a box of resistors that are identified by a tiny colored stripe.

      But I’ve had the most bizarre arguments with him and his mother (also red-green colorblind) about the color of something. I’m like, “No, this is not decided by majority opinion. I win because I’m more qualified to judge.” There have been a few cases where he felt so strongly about a color that it’s taken a dozen other people *and* the manufacturer’s description to settle it, and he still can’t quite settle the matter in his head.

      Reply
      1. Overeducated

        That experience sounds so weird. I can’t imagine being positive I see a certain color and just being told I am objectively wrong. (I’ve always imagined colorlbindness as seeing the colors in question as some kind of bland mixture, not just one or the other.)

        Reply
        1. Megs

          Neither my spouse nor I are colorblind, but we do see green and yellow just differently enough that it’s not unusual for him to suggest getting the yellow teapot and me not to identify anything as remotely yellow. Color perception is weird.

          Reply
          1. anonderella

            I remember reading that women have better color perception, because it aids with distinguishing between poisonous tints and non-poisonous, such as when gathering foodstuffs. Color blindness in men, in the correct ratio in population, would actually be a benefit, as to have one person on your team who can see slightly differently, as in seeing something in hiding moving just slightly in the trees/brush/etc, would be incredibly advantageous, as that one person could sneak up more easily than an entire group.

            Btw, I like your picture! I think I read on here that you painted it yourself – so I for one think your sense of color perception is pretty great : )

            Reply
                1. Trout 'Waver

                  That’s a press release with a deceptive title, not an actual article. It discusses frequency of variation of a gene linked to colorblindness, not color perception.

                1. Trout 'Waver

                  Yeah, that’s quite rude. And I did google it first and couldn’t find anything reputable.

                2. Megs

                  Ack, sorry. I really meant to be going for irrelevant, not rude. Although I will admit to finding the question to be somewhat rudely put in the first place and the answer super easy to find, thus the impulse to irrelevance. Again, my apologies.

                3. Megs

                  I find that “show your sources” comments are often derailing and your phrasing read to me as a demand rather than a request. It’s really not necessary to footnote blog comments, and if you’re curious about whether a particular fact is supported by evidence you can do the research yourself rather than asking other people to do it for you and then dismissing their responses as inadequate as you’ve done with both Elizabeth and Whats for linking to a press release rather than tracking down the original paper for you.

                  Again, that’s no excuse for me to have been rude and I apologize.

                4. Trout 'Waver

                  I think when you cite gendered stereotypes as facts, you’re the one with the burden of proof. Especially when hunter-gatherer ‘biotruths’ get woven into it. Ugh.

                  But, beyond that, I have never run into this particular ‘fact’ before. I did some digging, came up with nothing, so I asked for a source.

                  Furthermore, in case you’re wondering why press releases aren’t used as sources, check out the actual article in question and compare it to the press release. The press release is a gross misrepresentation of the research done.

                5. UK JAM

                  It’s pretty easy to follow the trail from the press release and get to this (one of their references):
                  http://link.springer.com/article/10.3758/BF03196159

                  I’ve only scan read it and it doesn’t go as far as ‘Women see colour better than men’, but it does say that women with can recognise four ‘photopigments’ can see wider variation of colours. They estimate ~50% of women have have four pigment receptors and possibly ~8% of men.

                1. Trout 'Waver

                  That’s the same one Elizabeth West linked, and it’s not a research article. It’s a press release with a deceptive title.

            1. Megs

              I don’t remember posting that about my icon, but it’s true, so thanks! I’d read about that theory before, as I have always thought it was interesting that colorblindness was so much more common in men than women.

              Reply
              1. Trout 'Waver

                There’s no debate that men are more likely to suffer color blindness since it’s a recessive gene on the X chromosome.

                That article has a very low sample size (19 men, 19 women), and it’s female test subjects are significantly younger than it’s male test subjects. And that’s a very low impact journal.

                I think one of the interesting things to come out of the blue/black vs white/gold dress thing was that people’s perception of color was influenced by their habits. People used to lots of natural light saw the dress differently than people who stared at screens for a living.

                Reply
                1. Rana

                  I thought the dress thing was interesting because I didn’t see it as either blue/black or white/gold but rather something like lavender/brown. It really drove home the difference between seeing something (that is, registering the objective colors of the image) and perceiving something (that is, taking those objective colors in assumed context and interpreting them). The blue/white division is about perception and interpretation (hence all the arguments).

                2. Rana

                  (And, to clarify, I’m not saying that my view of that dress is superior, just that this is how I viewed it. I score somewhere between 98-100% accuracy on most color-discernment tests, so whatever the reason is for the difference, it’s not because of an anomaly in my color vision.)

                1. Whats In A Name

                  The actual study that was referenced in the press release is here: http://www.cell.com/ajhg/pdf/S0002-9297(07)63309-6.pdf

                  I went and found it on my lunch break, because I was curious about the actual study. My brain was not up to deciphering all the results, but I did bookmark it. Friday’s are my normal research day at work, so I shift into processing mode.

                  The dress thing got me too, because I saw both colors depending on whether I was on phone or computer. But natural light vs. looking at computer all day could play a factor as well.

                2. Trout 'Waver

                  Thanks for digging that out, Whats In A Name! It was a very interesting read.

                  The hypothesis they propose in the discussion section that a certain subset of people with two X chromosomes who are heterozygous at a specific genetic location are able to better perceive color is interesting! Colorblindness runs in my family, and I have several cousins who have that genetic combo. I’m interested in seeing what they say about this.

          2. Serin

            I’m not colorblind, but apparently I see less blue than other people do. I only know this after years of conversations that go:

            Me: Grab the green shirt.
            Relative: I see four blue shirts. You want this one? It’s a slightly warmer blue.
            Me: That is clearly a teal-y sort of green.
            Relative, plus everybody else in earshot: Nope. Blue.

            Me: Did you see that pink house?
            Relative in the car: Um, no? You don’t mean that lavender one, do you?
            Me: That was totally a paler version of Barbie pink.
            Everyone in the car: Nope. Lavender.

            Reply
            1. Megs

              Shortly after Prince died, I came to work wearing what I’ve always seen as a royal blue blouse, and one of my (female) coworkers asked if I was wearing purple in his honor. A quick survey of the room determined that exactly two women saw the blouse as purple while everyone else saw it as blue. As I mentioned above, color perception is weird.

              Reply
        2. SusanIvanova

          No, they look radically different. There are colorblind simulator websites and what looks like a full spectrum will just be shades of pink for the rarer form of colorblindness. The other kind has more variation in what colors they get, but it’s still limited and the changes aren’t what you’d expect.

          Following the accessible color selection guidelines helps with people with normal vision too; recently I went off on a bar graph (from the WSJ, of all places!) that used blue/blue-green/green segments of almost identical saturation – so poorly chosen that when I started writing the rant I’d only thought they had 2 similar colors, not 3!

          Reply
      2. Fiona the Lurker

        Oh, this brought back memories! Long evenings sitting at a table with my father sorting out resistors: “Is that orange?” “No, it’s purple.” That and having to help him choose his ties.

        On the whole, though, I think the actual *type* of colour-blindness may be what determines the accommodations that can be made for this designer. I must admit I came close to laughing at the idea of a colour-blind designer, but then I remembered Evelyn Glennie – a deaf musician – and I realised that given the right circumstances there should be absolutely no reason this individual couldn’t do his job superbly. I do think he should probably come clean to his managers about it, though, and ask them for their help.

        Reply
        1. Kyrielle

          There are probably also software tools he can use, actually. Colors displayed on a computer have a numeric code behind them (usually shown in hexadecimal, so letters A-F may be present, three pairs of digits for six total). In theory, he could be given the appropriate code for each color that goes where in the logo, as well as the codes for colors that ‘match well’ with them from the point of view of people who are not color blind, and use a tool that can tell him what color something is to make sure it’s the color he intended. And for that matter, a tool that could help him set up the right color when adding things.

          tl;dr Having the computer do the work for him in regards logo colors is probably a reasonable accommodation.

          Reply
          1. Kyrielle

            Although this probably isn’t an ADA issue so I shouldn’t have used phrasing that sounds like I think it is, but it’s probably a reasonable solution to do that.

            Reply
          2. Chickaletta

            Yes, there are color sliders that we graphic designers use to create a color. Even non-color blind designers rely on these all the tie because every monitor displays colors differently, plus what you see on your monitor isn’t what you get when you print. So, I wonder why the color blind designer doesn’t use the color sliders more. (CMYK, RGB, HEX, etc depending on the end use). That would tell him numerically whether the color is yellow, red, or green. I also find it interesting that he’s got this far in his career without being able to distinguish colors and that he makes simple mistakes, like outputting green instead of red, when there are so many color tools out there that can tell you easily what color you’re using.

            Reply
  5. M_Lynn

    I know practically nothing about graphic design, but I learned some about colors and logos during my org’s redesign recently. All the colors have numbered codes associated with them, right? So I could see that as long as the employee was aware of the numbers, it would be easy to work with set parameters once the new palette is finalized. I imagine it’s it is like an advanced paint-by-numbers creative process.

    Reply
    1. Amber

      Correct colors do have number/letter codes (Hex Color Codes) which works great if the logo or design is a flat color but once you get into gradients or more elaborate designs then it isn’t as useful.

      Reply
      1. Anataya

        Not really true. When gradients are built in Photoshop/Illustrator/InDesign the first and last values (and potentially middle values depending on the design) are input by the designer and the software does the “math” to work out the inbetween shades. The designer actually has to use CMYK/RGB values in that instance.

        Hex codes are fine but are technically for use in code when creating a website, and aren’t as reliable in reproducing colours as CMYK/RGB/Pantone values. There’s some compensation in rendering colours via code on the web that hex codes make up for, so there can be slight differences when translated to hex and then translated back.

        Reply
        1. animaniactoo

          I’m not sure if you’re saying that a designer has to put in CMYK values for the first and last values of gradients in the Adobe suite products, but if so, that’s not correct. Any defined swatch can be placed as a first/last color, and there is a full range of Pantone and other colorbooks to choose from included with these applications.

          However, it is true that sometimes the gradients end up with some really bad shades (shown correct, just unattractive/weirdish) in the middle, and being able to “see” that is necessary.

          Reply
          1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.

            And, oranges are the ****worst****. I cringed when I read that the OP’s logo has 3 oranges in it . Oranges are the utter worst. Worst. You have to adjust the hell out of them.

            Reply
            1. Queen Gertrude

              Yeah, I love my Pantone swatches for that very reason, so that clients can see what oranges will actually look like in person (and not what they kind of look like on their monitors/desktop printers). Orange is actually one of my favorite colors… maybe because it gives me so much trouble? It can be a great color for print, you just need to know how to use it right.

              Reply
          2. Anataya

            I am correct. You can also choose swatches, but if (in Photoshop) you go into the gradient panel and double-click the little arrow on the colour scale the colour picker window will open where the user can select a colour or enter in various different values.

            Reply
            1. animaniactoo

              Yes, but you don’t *have* to enter values (which is what you said above and what I am trying to clarify). From the “Color Picker” window, you can select the “Color Libraries” option, choose the library you want to use, and select the specific Pantone or other system color(s) that you are defining as the start/end of the gradient.

              Did you maybe mean that they will be translated into CMYK/RGB for most output uses?

              Reply
              1. Anataya

                I didn’t mean that the user *has* to input the colour values, no. That’s just an option, as is selecting a swatch (Pantone specific or otherwise) or using the colour picker.

                The overall point is that gradients don’t pose a bigger challenge in precisely indicating/selecting colours than “flat” colours do, which the original comment stated.

                Reply
    2. T3k

      You’re probably thinking of pantone colors, which are used for standard printing purposes (they’re basically a surefire way to make sure you get the right color, as your idea of a light blue might be someone else’s true blue). Depending on what the designer is working on, pantones could work if the company knows exactly what colors they want to use and they can be printed (for instance, with screen printing, pantone inks are usually special orders and can be costly, so for small companies it may not be practical). But for press purposes, of if the work is being printed offsite, they could help the designer to make sure he uses the right colors.

      Reply
      1. Anataya

        There’s always CMYK values to rely on in print, Pantone only comes into play in very specific instances. The CMYK would still be reliable to confirm against, although if he’s doing press checks then his eyesight issues would make that difficult regardless.

        Reply
    3. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.

      One of the challenges is checking reproduction in different medium. Number values are the starting point but you often have to make adjustments to get reproduction accurate.

      “Bump up the blue” << can I get an "old school represent!" from anyone who knows what I'm talking about.

      Reply
          1. animaniactoo

            I do miss the smell of the presses though. My dad was a typesetter, all the way back to hot lead, and to me the smell of the presses is the smell of my childhood (I once walked a new-school Iris Prints age colleague through a press room and he said “ew it stinks in here” as I breathed deep. He told me I was weird. I explained. lol.)

            Reply
            1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.

              Awww. :-)

              The noise though, the noise. I was typically press checking 72+ page books and the first few hours I’m all “bump up the blue!” and then “hmmm, okay let’s bring that down a bit” (after seeing the result to the other pages on the sheet) and by the time a sheet comes out 8th hour I’m like IT LOOKS GREAT PLEASE LET ME OUT OF THIS PRISON. APPROVED!

              We’ve come a very long way on paper, with soft proofing, but somebody who can see color has to check things (not to mention things that aren’t paper that aren’t anywhere near as advanced.)

              Reply
              1. Queen Gertrude

                Right, then there is the whole other issue with what paper you use. Is it a warm white or bright/cool white? Or does the paper have a tint to it? Then the inks come out completely different!

                Reply
      1. F.

        I remember those days! I worked as a computer typesetter (remember the old silver-treated paper?), then jr. estimator, then accounting clerk for a fairly large commercial printer in the mid-west when I was in college. Still love the smell of varnish! If you saw a Pizza Hut menu back in the late 70s-early 80s, we printed it.

        Reply
        1. Mreasy

          Awwww, my dad was a typesetter and his studio was in our garage, so I know and miss all the smells! Mostly local stuff but also the national publication Volleyball Monthly, which apparently was a thing.

          Reply
        2. animaniactoo

          I remember those days too! Except I think I’m a lot younger. lol. I’m probably one of the youngest people ever to have professionally worked using a CompuGraphic 8600 system. The 8 inch floppies! The computer that was taller than a filing cabinet and had 4 MB of storage space!

          I still miss the ability to store a string of something under a function key for repeated use… lol.

          Reply
          1. F.

            I remember those programmable function keys. I loved them for inserting repetitive text. We may have had a CompuGraphic system. I do remember it used 8-in. floppies. Couldn’t see the typefaces on the screen, had to specifically tell it which typeface, size, etc. in a command string. We also had a primitive OCR, and the camera department had a primitive scanner. Really state-of-the-art back in the late 70s.

            At my job in the mid-80s, I used an ancient NCR computer that had our payroll records on large, magnetic cards. Of course, I’m so old that I took Fortran in college and we had IBM punch card machines.

            Reply
    4. Mulalay

      I can imagine that the process to use colour ‘codes’ would be very strenuous and time consuming due to the technicality of colour. A lot of it is just looking at the finished design and how the colours complement/contract one another to the eye. If he cannot see a certain colour, it won’t look right to him and it’ll be hard to tell if he selected the correct options. It would also result in him relying on certain colour combinations that he knows works and producing a lot of repetitive work.

      I think a simple solution (considering this IS a disability) would be to have him need to submit his work to someone for colour adjustments as a final step and not waste time focusing on the colour himself.

      Reply
  6. tink

    #2 I’m not sure how feasible this is, but could you not send a breakdown of the new design with the appropriate hex codes/color values where they’re supposed to be for your graphic designer? For both this project and future ones. It’s not fair that you’re being asked to keep a secret about something that can (and currently is) affecting work, but maybe the two of you can work something out and then your designer will be willing to sit down and talk to your manager about it and the sort of accommodations that might be needed?

    Reply
    1. Anataya

      There should be a brand style guide to work off of if this is an established system the designer is working from. It’s standard practice for all designers to check agains this kind of document for colours (and typography and other rules). Unless this designer is creating brand new work from scratch, this can probably solve a lot of issues. He shouldn’t be eyeballing already established colours, it’s not conducive to brand consistency.

      Reply
      1. the_scientist

        I was coming here to say this. My organization just went through a re-brand, and we have a style guide with the RGB/CMYK numbers for the various “official” organizational colours. We also have existing templates for slide decks, letterhead, etc. That way, anyone can produce a document that uses our “official” colours.

        ALSO, my organization is moving towards using the “colour-blind palette” in all external documents, which ensures that these documents are fully accessible to people with colour-blindness (in addition to meeting AODA compliance standards). In general, I think striving to make documents and web pages as accessible as possible is only a good thing.

        Reply
        1. themmases

          My organization does too; I think there’s been some kind of style guide everywhere I’ve worked (mostly academic and hospitals, so good sized organizations with a lot of somewhat independent units). Related to discussion above, my current organization’s guide even suggests specific gradients that do work well.

          I’m not sure whether it would help this designer or not. If this organization is redesigning their logo, they may be making other changes to style and colors at the same time. It kind of sounds like it if the designer is selecting colors for the logo.

          The guide is awesome for me as a report-writing layperson though. I used ours to create a new color theme in Office and now all my charts automatically come out looking university-approved.

          Reply
    2. Mona Lisa

      This is just what I was coming here to say. Every large organization I’ve worked for has a breakdown with the hex codes/RGB values, and I can just insert those when I’m creating a new document. There shouldn’t be any reason that he couldn’t have something that lists the color and code. (Ex.: “primary orange: #ffa500 secondary orange: #f9bd50”)

      Reply
    1. Kittens

      Yes! I was just thinking something along those lines. I’m a graphic designer and have never actually met a colorblind graphic designer (it’s pretty rare!). That said, my fiancé worked on a shoot (sound guy for film/TV/ads) for one of the companies that sells glasses specifically for color blind people and he said the results were amazing. I don’t know the above brand but they are generally getting cheaper and cheaper and might be worth looking in to?

      Reply
    2. Photoshop Til I Drop

      These work best outdoors in bright sunlight. They’re not that great inside in fluorescent light. But, they are returnable, so it’s worth a try. My SO loves his.

      Reply
  7. T3k

    #2 – Part of any job is being able to do it without someone having to constantly go back and revise it, and sadly, the designer isn’t capable of it due to this condition. Short term fix, I’m wondering why the designer doesn’t use some custom swatches that are labelled something like “red” “light orange” etc. to help them use the correct colors? Unless they create artwork that doesn’t stick to spot colors and instead they just choose from a range of colors depending on the project, in which case maybe look up the HEX number to see what color it comes back as? But if he wants to continue in the graphic design field, he need to find workarounds so his colorblindness won’t be a hindrance.

    Reply
    1. SPR

      This x1000! This guy needs to bone up on his color management, because honestly, it should not be an issue if he was working anywhere close to best practices. Any experienced, professional graphic designer/production person–REGARDLESS of color perception–will create and use a custom swatch palette AND a style guide to maintain consistency both internally and for sending jobs to printers, etc. This is basically a no-brainer for a professional, and all modern graphics software has extensive ways to manage this. I’m assuming that the rebranding the OP spoke of was done externally. If that’s the case, then any branding campaign worth its salt would have provided detailed production specs and the internal designer has all the information he needs to build his swatch palette.

      Reply
  8. Mike

    Re #1: IMO if you know a coworker has a restriction then you should try to accommodate them when reasonable. For example, one coworker is diabetic, we know this, so when my boss brought in cupcakes he made sure to get some sugarfree ones (and point them out for the coworker). However, I decided to grab doughnuts for the group on Friday and the store doesn’t make anything that would be ok for him so all I still got the doughnuts and apologized to the coworker that I couldn’t accommodate him.

    Another example: We also have a Mormon coworker so if we have to do weekend maintenance we try really hard to not do it on Sundays.

    Reply
    1. Meredith

      I have co-workers with wheat, dairy, and refined sugar dietary restrictions. I’ve taken to bringing in fresh fruit as a snack (grapes, clementines, etc). We already get a lot of folks bringing in baked items, so fruit seems pretty popular!

      Reply
      1. Lemon Zinger

        You ROCK! Fresh fruit is such a wonderful work snack and I wish people would bring some to my office! I am gluten- and mostly dairy-free so some delicious fruit would be so welcome. :)

        Reply
    2. WellRed

      As a Type 1 diabetic, while I’d appreciate the effort, 1. sugar-free is still carbs which is what raises blood sugar (I understand, many people don’t know this) and 2. having someone point out the sugar-free thing, or apologizing about the donuts, is kinda annoying.

      Reply
      1. Gaia

        It seems silly that you’d be annoyed. We have an office of about 60 folks one of which is gluten and dairy free (medical, not choice). When we get cupcakes, or ice cream or any treats we make sure to get her something she can eat. We always put it to the side and let her know it is there. If, for some reason, we couldn’t do that we always let her know so she doesn’t feel forgotten. She’s never been anything but incredibly appreciative. It is about recognizing that you are part of the team and the team cares that you feel included and remembered.

        Reply
        1. Emilia Bedelia

          That’s a really considerate thing to do, if you know exactly what your co worker can eat.
          If you aren’t familiar with the person’s food needs and just get something that you think might be ok, it adds more pressure to that person if it’s not actually something they can eat, or even if they just don’t want it. If your co worker comes up to you and says “I got everyone cupcakes, and for special eater person I got a special treat that’s different” would you say “Eh, thanks for the effort but I don’t want a cupcake today”, knowing that they spent extra time and money on something that others may or may not eat? I think the point is, if you’re going to make an effort to include everyone, make sure you know what their restrictions are…. and respect that some people would rather not be differentiated and would rather just not be included.

          Reply
          1. Loose Seal

            Yes! I have had to accept the special cupcake or whatever so many times because it was bought or made specially for me and saved until I got there. To decline at that point seems churlish.

            Reply
        2. Lynn Whitehat

          It’s one of those things that might be hard to understand if you haven’t experienced it. If you categorically cannot eat certain foods, you get good at spotting and avoiding those foods pretty quickly. It can feel patronizing to have someone point out to you “loooooook, the sorbet is dairy freeeeeeeeee!!! You can have this one! :-) :-) :-)” every time. Someone who is dairy-free for medical reasons has figured out for themselves that ice cream has dairy but sorbet doesn’t.

          It’s always well-meaning, of course, so there’s not much to do but smile and nod. And make sure not to express any thoughts of “yup, I can read, thanks”.

          Reply
        3. Whats In A Name

          Oh this; super sweet of your office. I wish ours was so thoughtful. I have a very inflammatory response to dairy (luckily it’s not life threatening, just painful) and only 2 people know about it. One is in charge of ordering food for most events so I let her know on the sly when she asked why I rarely ate anything. So now she still orders cheese trays & yogurt parfaits but will be like “oh, just eat it – it’s not like you’ll die” and I just want to be like – “no, I won’t die but I can also barely walk or turn my ankles for 2 days. Thanks.”

          Now that’s annoying!

          Reply
          1. Lemon Zinger

            I would just say “Wow.” Because that’s all I can say to this. I am so sorry you have to work with her!

            Reply
  9. AcademiaNut

    In general, I think it’s a good idea to have a variety of work-social events, so that people with different preferences or restrictions can still join in.

    However, I’m trying to think of a non-bar alternative to a casual happy hour. The advantage of the bar is that you can take a moderate sized group without reservations, you can order quite cheaply if you’re on a budget, and you can mingle easily. Near my office, if we wanted to go to a non bar restaurant with a group, we’d need reservations by Wednesday at the latest, and the price to join would be higher. An event at the office would be potluck or would need someone to collect money in advance and arrange for food. A coffee shop on a Friday evening would be okay if we had no more than about four or five people, but couldn’t accommodate more. Karaoke or a tea house for a big group also requires reservations in advance. And it often rains heavily in mid afternoon.

    Does anyone have any good ideas that I’m missing?

    Reply
    1. Engineer Girl

      A lot of cheap pizza joints have beer etc. People can choose to eat/not eat imbibe or not. Many times you can order pitchers of soda and or beer.
      Beer gardens and micro breweries have food so are another place to consider. It’s not as bar like since there is food involved. Basically anyplace that isn’t exclusively alcohol would work. That’s why a bar is the problem, BTW. The main focus of bars is the alcohol.

      Reply
      1. AcademiaNut

        Ah, I was figuring that the person in the OP wouldn’t be comfortable in places like microbreweries, beer gardens or pubs (which serve food, but are still pretty alcohol oriented). Most of my post-work drinking experience has been in places that served some sort of food, at least at the nachos and sandwich level.

        Here, though a microbrewery would require reservations by Monday or Tuesday for a Friday visit, even for two people. We have a few pizza places nearby, but it’s not necessarily easy to get space for a group, and if you go with a big group, it can take an hour or more for everyone to get their food.

        Reply
        1. Engineer Girl

          There are a lot of burger gardens that serve beer too. Especially the kind that has an outdoor eating area.
          There are also places like bocce courts etc where the focus is off the alcohol and on to other things. Sports venues, wharfs, etc.
          I worked for a large corporation and rarely (never) were celebrations held in a bar. It was almost always a pizza or sandwich joint.

          Reply
        2. Kimberlee, Esq

          It just occurred to me that part of the difference might be liquor laws. Like, I live in DC and I can’t think of anywhere that doesn’t serve food at all, but then I think that’s a legal requirement, that you have to sell food in order to sell liquor. So, any bar in DC would theoretically be fine, because there are food, alc and non-alc options.

          Reply
          1. Maeve

            Oh yeah this is interesting, in my state any place selling liquor has to sell at least five different “substantial food items” whenever alcohol is sold and there are specific definitions of “substantial” and “different.” An appetizer or a side is not substantial and two foods of different sizes or the same food item with different sides aren’t different. And at least three of them five items have to be prepared there (not just frozen food that’s been reheated). So the idea of bars that don’t have food options is very foreign to me.

            Reply
    2. Anonophone

      You could also consider non Friday evening events: Friday lunchtime soccer, Monday running or walking group, Tuesday tea break etc. Even if Friday drinks are still on the regular at least one person isn’t being routinely excluded from everything.

      Reply
      1. DoDah

        It seems like a lot of extra work (organizationally) for one person. There are events that are planned and food that is delivered at my place of work that I cannot participate in (or eat) for a variety of reasons. So I just don’t. Interestingly–it’s never occurred to me to feel excluded.

        Reply
        1. Whats In A Name

          So I think you bring up another case where talking to the person is valid. Maybe they don’t feel left out at all.

          Reply
    3. PlainJane

      Around here, lots of restaurants have happy hour, and some have fairly extensive happy hour food menus. Even if a restaurant doesn’t have a designated happy hour, you can usually take a group without reservations during that time, because happy hour is typically earlier than dinner hour, so most places (at least around here) aren’t so crowded.

      Reply
  10. Anataya

    I’ve known a few graphic designers and art directors that are colour blind (I’m a designer myself, though not colour blind), it’s not as uncommon as you may think. Although colour blindness comes in different forms and so therefore may effect work in different ways for different people, there are ways of dealing with it.

    If this designer is working with a lot of things where the colours are already established – logos, brand systems – instead of designing from scratch, then the designer can rely on Pantone numbers and CMYK/RGB values. These are numbers that (in the case of Pantone) correlate to a standard, universal colour system that ensures specific shades of colours are identical across the board, and (in the case of CMYK/RGB) indicate the mix of different primary colours that make up the final one.

    If the designer is often off by a little bit, he needs to be reminded to check his colour values and that they match the values listed in the brand style guide he’s working from. Or at the very least, to eyedrop from a master logo file or what have you. That way he can ensure precision, and really this is standard practice for all professional designers anyway.

    Reply
  11. nonegiven

    My husband is red-green colorblind. Orange can look yellow and purple can look blue and he can’t always tell if something is red or green. For a few years he managed the paint department at a department store. He was really good at mixing paint to match things that were brought to him, you just had to tell him what color it was, first.

    Reply
  12. Simon Oh

    Regarding #4, I experienced something similar when I was a temp for a reputation management company in the Bay Area in December 2014. I was assigned by a staffing agency to work for a week at this particular company. Given that it was a week before Christmas, the company hosted a holiday party in the office on one of the days I worked there. However, I was told I could not participate because I was not an actual employee there and that I had to vacate the premises before the event even began. I didn’t fully understand the optics behind that order until I read this particular post.

    Still, it seemed heartless to exclude me from such an event, given that I was having financial issues at the time that I couldn’t even afford to travel to spend time with my own family for the holidays. But I suppose the law is possibly the law.

    Reply
    1. JessaB

      Honestly it’s not about temp employees. It’s about independent contractors. The issue is that a lot of companies call temps “contractors,” but it doesn’t mean the same thing at all. Independent contractors must not be treated as employees because it can jeopardise their tax status and the company would have issues if they did that (it would cost them big.)

      I really resented when I was a temp worker that some companies treated us like third class citizens. I understood not giving out corporate swag because it might make us look like actual employees to have for instance a company tote bag, but they used to exclude us from food things (one day they got doughnuts for people.) It was just stupid. Especially since most of us were long term temps.

      Reply
      1. Colette

        Long term temps are the issue- the company doesn’t want them to sue for benefits because they were treated just like an employee for X years.

        Reply
        1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.

          That’s our thinking . We include temps in virtually everything because we don’t have long term temps and therefore believe our risk is tiny.

          About the only thing you’re not allowed to do as a temp is work from home or take home company property. Other than that, you’re one of us. But we don’t have any real risk.

          Reply
        2. animaniactoo

          My former company got in a lot of trouble with the IRS and a few others because everybody was a freelancer. But when you have a freelancer who is expected to show up for work 40+ hours a week for 2 years, they’re not really a freelancer.

          The biggest example of this was the Microsoft contractors who sued, you should be able to find a lot of info on that if you google it.

          Reply
          1. Vin Packer

            But that’s the thing, right? If you show up to a specific place for forty+ hours a week, you’re an employee. If you’re treating your contractors like employees in all the drudgerous ways, is being like, “but we denied them donuts!!” really complying with the law?

            Reply
            1. animaniactoo

              No, and that’s what Microsoft found out. Permatemps are not temporary contractors, they’re employees.

              Companies do continually miss that donuts in the breakroom kind of stuff is not the real dividing line. It’s whether you get to set your own hours (within reason), actually work independently, are supplying your own equipment, etc. and how long you’re working there can also play in.

              Reply
            2. sstabeler

              it depends, but the donuts won’t make a difference. ( basically, if you contract for security services, for instance, then you could reasonably demand a security guard be there 40+ days a week, even though they are not your employee. (the difference is that it doesn’t have to be the exact same security guard- so the security company controls when their employees work.))

              Reply
          1. Allison

            Seriously. I’m a contractor, but being payrolled through a third party so I’m technically employed somewhere with minimal benefits and whatnot, so it’s technically legal. But I’ve been working at this company for 2 and a half years with no paid vacation time, a tiny amount of sick time I accrue slowly, and no dental insurance. It’s not the worst situation, but it’s not great, and I really wish there was some law that says a company has to convert someone to a full-time employee if they’ve been with a company for a certain number of years. Heck, I wish the payroll provider would encourage my company to convert me, I have to think they find this unusual and unfair.

            Reply
            1. animaniactoo

              It’s possible that your company could save money by paying you directly rather than paying you through an agency. In fact, it’s probable. Which makes me suspect that the reason they’re not doing it is that it puts them over some magic number (49, 70) at which additional requirements/protections for employees kick in. You could do some checking around about that, and get the lay of the land.

              However – do they know that you’d be happy to work directly for them and not through your agency? Sometimes, that’s a miscommunication kind of a thing.

              Reply
              1. Allison

                Yes, I’ve tried not to be too aggressive about it but I do occasionally bring it up with my manager. My manager agrees it makes sense to bring me on as an employee, it’s the department director who’s hesitant to do so, because my role is usually a “contract role” at other companies* and she feels that unless I’m willing to grow into a different job within the company, making me an employee doesn’t make sense to her. I wonder if she knows that keeping me as a contractor means no vacation days, she might see things differently if that was pointed out.

                Reply
                1. animaniactoo

                  I think your key argument is that by paying you through the agency, they are likely spending much more on your role than they could be. So unless they see your role disappearing sometime in the near future, it doesn’t really matter whether you are willing to develop into another role, or how it is usually done at other companies. What matters are the needs of *this* company, and your willingness and availability to continue to do *this* role at this company.

                  Tossing out numbers as an example here (and note this is a MUCH narrower margin than is standard for a contract agency): Let’s say you’re making $12/hr, and the agency is making $18/hr for your role. That puts you at about $25k for the year, and them at $37.5k to the agency. On the high end, putting you on their insurance policy might cost them let’s say around $6k a year. Unemployment insurance maxes out (I believe) at another $1k. That puts them at 32k for paying you directly. SS & Medicare, their share is about 7.5%, so add another 1,875 – round that and add any other employee benefits (like 401k matching) that you might receive, and call that 34.5k to them to pay you directly. Including administrative costs, some of which they’re already paying anyway just to process your hours, etc. At 3 weeks PTO, they can add another 1.5k bringing them to 36k for *everything* it would cost for you to be an in-house employee.

                  Now if the role has high turnover or is genuinely only a very short-term one, then going with a contract agency makes sense, because for $1,500/yr they save themselves the whole interviewing and hiring process. Note, though. That’s $1,500/yr estimation using a decently generous set of benefits and a very narrow margin difference between what they’re paying the agency and what you’re getting paid, which is in all likelihood a much wider margin.

                  Which is why I’m suggesting you dig into the numbers like this with them – because unless having you on staff puts them over a magic number of employees, the likelihood is they could make you much happier (with a small raise even!) and save themselves $5-10k a year in one fell swoop. At which point, it genuinely doesn’t matter what other companies do, or what you might be willing to train to do. Only how long they can predict that savings to last.

          2. Anon

            Yeah, I worked at a company for about 6 months, and my position was a very long-term temp position. There were three of us, it was a very key position, and they specifically filled that role with temps with the idea that the temps would stay indefinitely – it wasn’t a temp-to-hire situation at all. I ended up leaving after six months because it wasn’t a great work environment, but it felt sketchy. We were working 40 hours a week every week, but didn’t get benefits, vacation days, and couldn’t participate in any employee events. It was not great.

            Reply
        3. Natalie

          The Microsoft permatemps were not W-2 contractors, they were freelance employees or direct hires of Microsoft that were classified as temporary. The entire case hinged on language in the handbook about who was eligible for certain benefits, not any specific law about how long you can have a temp.

          Reply
            1. animaniactoo

              lol, it’s okay. Actually length of time was also a determining factor and it’s the reason that they won’t immediately renew independent contracts anymore. They have a 3 month break factored in so that the employees are considered to have legitimately not worked there, not been on unpaid vacation, etc.

              Reply
      1. Simon Oh

        More like simply making sure to leave the premises before the event started. But the company officials were pretty insistent on me leaving before…I don’t know…the music started playing or the food began to be served.

        Reply
    2. FiveWheels

      Long ago as a temp I was also excluded from an office Christmas party – it didn’t bother me in the slightest. I worked for a temp agency – I’d have felt strange having another company buy me Christmas dinner.

      Reply
      1. Roxanne

        I was a temp and I hit the nine month mark at the same location. At that point, you know the staff, understand the company, know the products, processes, etc. and it would have been really nice to have a Christmas party with my “teammates.” But where I was temping, anyone who was not an employee was a “contractor” and the company’s philosophy was not a tax issue (I’m not aware of that being an issue in Canada) but strictly cash: we allocate $X for each employee for a Christmas party and for a children’s party and for the family picnic and none for the contractors, that would cost too much. And, the contractor’s employer will pay for their staff to have a Christmas party. This was absurd – if you are an independent contractor, no one is throwing you a party. And I’ve never seen a temp agency throw a party for their legions of temp workers.

        The truth is you can allocate $X per employee but never everyone shows up, especially if you are a big enough place. So, the budget could easily accommodate the contractors if you plan for the fact not everyone shows up.

        For that particular job, after nine months, I felt like I was part of the place so it really stung I could not join in the festivities. And on top of that, I know exceptions where made for a particular contractor (popularity wins agian). Had I finished my contract in October, I would have had no expectation of attending a party!

        Remembering this, when I planned Christmas parties at my permanent job, I made sure all were invited and at other jobs where I was a temp around that time of year, I was included. This goes a long way towards morale!

        Reply
    3. CAA

      There are two different types of people we call “contractors”, and this causes a lot of confusion, especially in tech, where we are not very precise about this:
      1) a person who is self-employed and has a contract directly with your employer to perform some service (1099 contractor)
      2) a person who is employed by another company that has a contract to provide on-site labor (W-2 contractor)

      You need to be careful with the first group, but not the second. The IRS doesn’t care about how you treat another company’s employees. I don’t see many 1099 contractors any more, unless it’s for a specific task that’s outside our own expertise (i.e. we do web development, but suddenly we have a client who wants a print brochure, we might bring in a free-lance designer on a 1099 contract part-time for a month). If we need staff augmentation (Java developer to take on some of our regular work), we go through a staffing company and have a W-2 contractor for a year.

      OP 4 might ask what type of contractors she’s working with and bring up the difference to her manager if he’s not aware of it.

      Reply
      1. Judy

        I think, as far as the IRS goes, you’re correct. But I think, as far as employment law goes, there is another distinction.

        If you’re treating a w-2 contractor exactly like an employee of your company, you may make them common law employees. They might be eligible for pensions and other benefits, even FMLA. If they are clearly treated as your employee, and you have 70 regular employees and 10 w-2 contractors, you may push your entire workforce to FMLA eligibility. As far as I know, it’s murky case law, but there are some hints about it. I know of several corporations that limit w-2 contractors to a 1 or 2 year term with no rehire as a w-2 contractor until they haven’t worked there for 3 or 6 months.

        Reply
  13. Finny

    I don’t know about graphic designers, per se, but I do know that Larry Dixon (Mercedes Lackey’s husband, co-author, and cover artist for some of her work) is colourblind. He has developed workarounds over the years and does some incredible arr. I’ve got several prints of his, and they are amazing.

    Reply
    1. Hankie Enlightenment (formerly Sarahnova)

      I would like to meet someone who does some incredible Arr! I bet he loves Talk Like a Pirate Day. :)

      [smacks own wrist, retires in shame]

      Reply
  14. Rachel

    #4: That’s how it was at the last place I temped. Temps and independent contractors couldn’t participate in the employee events like the holiday party and couldn’t enter the employee contests. I had a laptop, but wasn’t allowed to take it home – I had to lock it in my file drawer at the end of the day. I did have a key card and could move around in the building, but I was not allowed to take that home either. I had to sign in at the security desk to get it when I arrived and return it to the security desk when I left.

    At other places where I’ve worked, though, temps were treated pretty much the same as the regular employees and allowed to participate in employee events. In general, that was true for the smaller, more local companies, whereas there was much more of a separation between regular employees and temps at the large corporations. Most of the time this was not really a big deal. However, when I temped in the mortgage department of a large national bank, I had one manager who was a real jerk about this. The bank was always giving various tchotchkes to their full-time employees, and my manager would make a big show of coming up to me and the other temps, showing off the tchotchkes, and saying “These are for the REGULAR EMPLOYEES ONLY. YOU can’t have one because YOU’RE A TEMP.” (I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have noticed things being given out if she didn’t make such a big production of pointing this out.)

    Reply
    1. LQ

      I think it is important to remember that while contractors aren’t your employees you don’t have to treat them badly by doing stuff like this. It is a different kind of contractual relationship, and you need to honor that to maintain the law, but you don’t need to be a jerk!

      In a lot of ways you can’t treat them like a “real employee” because they aren’t. But that doesn’t mean you can’t treat them like a real person.

      Reply
    2. JM in England

      I’ve done a lot of (agency) temping during my career, both at the start and in more recent years. During that time I’ve seen the general treatment of ageny workers improve including the introduction of PTO and sick pay. To give examples of exclusion in my early career, I temped at two large multinationals, one after the other in the mid-to-late 90s. At the first, only permanent staff were allowed to apply for posts on the company job board. At the second, about 40% of the people in my department of 150 were temps. Every six weeks or so, there was an all-department meeting to discuss project progress and other issues, chaired by the department director. During one such meeting, he described a new scheme where outstanding performers could be nominated for special rewards. It was only at the end of the speech that he said it was for permanent staff only! The first thought in my mind was “You !!!” *sigh*

      Reply
  15. MK

    OP3, it would be pretty unreasonable for the most junior and newsest hired member of the team to be “really upset” about getting the least optimal office space. I mean, who else should get it?

    Reply
    1. Jeanne

      She’s talking about being most junior by such a short interval that the two hires should be equals not senior/junior.

      Reply
      1. MK

        I get that it can be frustrating to get the indoor space because you got hired on Tuesday, while the person who got hired on Wednesday gets an office with a window. But it’s still nothing to be very upset with your boss about; someone was bound to get it, you were unlucky.

        Reply
    2. OP3

      To add more context to this, we have about 20 “Junior Teapot Makers”, 10 of which have been hired and started in the past month. I don’t think because one had a start date a week later, that makes them more “junior.” I think it just really singles the two JTPs out that every other JTP has a private (shared) office with a window and they do not.

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        The thing is, a reasonable person is going to understand the math — 19 spaces in private offices with windows, one without. Someone is going to get the bad space. It sucks, but it’s not going to be an outrage to reasonable people.

        Reply
        1. JuniorMinion

          Agreed – I was in a non-ideal work space situation for almost a year in this job until it was rectified. I will say what made a huge difference to me was that my boss (es) acknowledged that the level of work I was doing was not commensurate with my work space and that they were going to find a solution eventually. The fact that my space was not ideal was validated / acknowledged. I would say if the OP can acknowledge to the employee with the worse location that its a space constraint and when the space constraint is solved they will work something out that would be very helpful, or at least it was to me.

          Reply
          1. rPM

            I agree that acknowledgement / validation and making sure the space is as comfortable as possible until other arrangements can be made are key. I would also make sure to explain that the seating arrangement is purely based on date of hire (especially if this person is part of any protected class and other new hires aren’t — ex if the two recent hires are male and female, and the female has the worse space, you don’t want her wondering if it’s because she’s female). While I think that would be enough, you could also see if there are any simple ways to “make it up” to that person once you do have other arrangements – ie giving them first pick of the new Jr Teapot Maker spaces.

            Reply
    3. Lemon Zinger

      Yeah, they don’t even necessarily know what the norm is. At my workplace, the new people get the worst cubbies (I can’t even call them cubicles) until someone with his/her own cubicle leaves. It happens. Life moves on.

      Reply
  16. NewHerePleaseBeNice

    Re: #2 – surely the designer isn’t (or isn’t expected to) place colours by sight anyway? Isn’t that what Pantone / Hex values are for? If he’s using proper software (e.g. Adobe InDesign) it wouldn’t matter if he could only see shades of grey – the codes would render the correct colours.

    We have a corporate ‘colour pallette’ accessible to everyone, and we’re expected to match by the Hex value of those colours, not just select a ‘dark blue’ or a ‘bright yellow’.

    Reply
    1. babblemouth

      But someone who is cooler blind will have difficulties making value judgement on the overall look and feel of a finished product. My graphic designers often have work using all the official palettes that end up looking like a colour-vomit, so they try to make adjustments and propose a new solution to the client alongside the first work as ways to fix it.
      If you can’t notice something has a colour-vomit problem, you might miss opportunities for better quality results.

      Reply
      1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.

        Hilarious.

        I usually say “it looks like someone vomited color all over this page” and you’ve found a much more concise, and hyphenated! way to say it.

        The factor that people who aren’t artists or marketers are missing is that you also design *around* your logo colors. If color design was as easy as just plugging numbers in, you wouldn’t need an artist. Anybody who could input numbers could do it.

        Reply
        1. babblemouth

          A color blind graphic designer can work, I guess, if they are part of a broader team. But if they are the single resource, I think there will be a problem eventually.

          Reply
        2. animaniactoo

          lol, my younger sister was taking technical theater in college and once described one of the set designs as “It looks like a Pantone book threw up”.

          Reply
      2. animaniactoo

        Yeah, I work with style guides that have up to 15 colors. Often they’re detailed out as primary colors and accent colors, and if I’m really lucky I’ll get a color wheel showing exactly what approximate percentages they should be used in.

        But it’s all too easy to make that look like too many damn colors and a complete eyesore – even on stuff designed for kids.

        Reply
  17. Jeanne

    #3, There is the possibility of resentment because two hires close together get different types of work spaces but hopefully not. Make sure the hire in the other space has everything she needs to do her job. Then make an effort to see that she feels part of your team and that she is getting just as much training and help even though she doesn’t sit with a senior colleague. She shouldn’t have less opportunities because she started a week later.

    Reply
    1. Purest Green

      Yes, as long as she’s treated equally in every other way I don’t think this employee will be resentful, especially because her manager is already concerned about and attempting to fix the situation.

      This is probably merely anecdotal worry because the same thing happened to me under a bad supervisor, but make sure the other employees don’t assume this junior teapot maker is in a more junior role just because she sits separately and started two weeks later.

      Reply
      1. OP3

        Thanks! It’s unlikely anyone will think she’s more junior as “junior teapot maker” is the lowest rung anyway for this particular career track… I think others will just find it weird she’s sitting where she is since it’s common knowledge that JTP’s get a shared window office. The rest of the staff knows about the space crunch, but I think seeing the two new JTP’s in this space (which was formerly our intern space) will drive that message home.

        Reply
    2. OP3

      Thank you; To be clear none of the “Junior Teapot Makers” sit with a senior colleague, they “room” together so to speak and about half of them have been hired in the last month. She’ll have a roommate in the less than desirable office just as everyone else does.

      Reply
      1. Vicki

        OP – a table mate in an open space is NOT “a roommate in the less than desirable office just as everyone else does.”. It;s a table in an open space.

        I would suggest talking to the two junior tea pot makers. It may be that the one who got the desk in the shared office wouldn’t mind being at an open space table and the one with the open space table hates this with a passion. (I would. If I interviewed at a place where people had quiet environments and then was put at a table in an open space I would be unproductive and resentful. Which is what happened at a previous job.).

        Reply
    3. F.

      You might want to keep an ear open to see if any of the recent new hires would prefer the less desirable seating situation. We recently hired two people who would have offices, but only had one window office available. The one who was the logical business-related choice for the window office prefers to work in a dimly-lit room and was quite happy to let the other hire have the window office.

      Reply
      1. Vicki

        ^^^^ This.

        I once, briefly, shared a window cubicle with a co-worker who was light sensitive. Every morning, upon arrival, he’s close the blinds. This reduced light for me (I can’t work in dim lighting) and everyone around us.

        Don’t assume. Don’t make arbitrary decisions based on “seniority” or date of hire.
        Ask.

        Reply
  18. Myrin

    I really enjoy reading the comments above re: colourblindness and graphic design (a topic I know nothing about) but I don’t think anyone has weighed in yet on how to proceed regarding the manager, which seems to be at the core of the OP’s issues. And I for one really do think that the manager needs to know and I quite like Alison’s suggested language for it. Two reasons for that: One, the manager might be scratching her head about all the revisiting and changing of finished products they’ve had to do, which surely cost unnecessary time and resources. I don’t know anything about the processes of graphic design but wouldn’t all these mistakes and wonky design choices be traced back to that designer anyway? So the manager might just decide that he’s incompetent and needs to be replaced, or maybe she’ll talk to him about it and he will (need to) confess to his colourblindness anyway. Secondly, if someone higher up is aware of what’s causing the issue, they might implement the tools and structures the commenters above are talking about (which… seem to be things the designer should be using anyway, as far as I understand? It seems to me, at least, that pretty much every comment immediately jumped to codes and numbers to use which makes it seem like this is obvious and a normal procedure but again, I have no idea).

    Reply
    1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.

      Well, another factor is the increase to workload of the people around the graphic artist. It may be minor or it may not (as in the case of my marketers in my anecdote up at the top) . As a manager I needed to know because if the artist can’t see the colors, somebody has to see the colors for the artist which is some increase in workload and that’s staffing and that’s my business.

      Reply
    2. Person of Interest

      I was thinking the same thing. It seems like with all the great suggestions for accommodations gathered here, the OP could go to her manager and add something to AAM’s language about there being a range of tools embedded into design software that the company could use to help improve the color-specific elements of graphic design work overall (without mentioning designer’s specific color-blindness); or make sure the graphic designer knows about the more personalized suggestions to help ensure a productive conversation with HR/Manager about accommodations.

      Reply
  19. Boo

    Re #1 – has anyone tried just asking the coworker? “Hey Joe, missed you at happy hour the other night. Would it be better for you if we went somewhere which doesn’t serve booze?”

    Reply
    1. Willis

      Yeah, it sounds like a lot of people at this office are aware that the happy hour location is (or at least has the potential to be) an issue. Why not ask the co-worker if they’d prefer a different location and if so, where? Or if they already know the co-worker isn’t into the usual location, I don’t really get why there seems to be so much discussion over who should suggest an alternate. Or maybe people are afraid to tell the VP that her pick is leaving someone out? Either way, seems like talking to the people involved would be the way to go, rather than talking about them.

      Reply
      1. Boo

        Yeah, I’m just thinking it might actually be that the coworker doesn’t want to go to happy hour, in which case there isn’t a problem. I never go to any of mine, despite the fact that my coworkers are lovely, because it takes me 2 hours to get home and I need time to recharge alone. The religion thing could be a complete red herring.

        Like communism (I’m sorry I was watching Clue the other night and I need to keep quoting it).

        Reply
        1. Allison

          I rarely attend happy hours for the same reason. Either I have a long standing commitment or I recently made plans, and I leave at 4:30 so my commute is 45-60 minutes because if I left any later the commute would be longer. If I had nothing going on that night, I might be able to stick around until 6ish and just wait out the traffic, but the nights where I don’t have anything going on are pretty rare and I like using them as “rest” nights, and the nights where my plans are a little later and a brief happy hour could still work, I don’t like the stress of rushing home and turning myself around quickly to meet up with people later, it’s a huge drain on my resources.

          Lots of people like happy hours, and they should feel free to do so. Other people don’t like happy hours, and shouldn’t feel obligated to attend them just to appear to be a “team player.”

          Reply
          1. F.

            I second this. At my current job, I work 6:30-3:00, taking the early phone shift. Others leave at varying times, often to avoid a length commute. We never really have done happy hours. Most of us have to go home and fix dinner, deal with children, or have other commitments. We are very much a team, just not one that parties together.

            Reply
  20. TheLazyB

    Re #1 it feels different that it’s usually the VP organising these things rather than just a random group of employees but no one else has mentioned that, do other people feel it doesn’t make a difference? I would be more uncomfortable with it being the VP.

    Reply
  21. I Heart Oregon

    As a “devout Mormon” (which by the way, feels a little funny to say, because I doubt you would find someone drinking that would identify as a Mormon, most likely they would say “I used to be/grew up Mormon”) I don’t feel very comfortable in bars/breweries. That being said, I went to one a few weeks ago to meet up with some friends and it was totally fine. I ordered my sodas and snacked on the appetizers and it was no big deal. My friends that I was with kindly added my sodas to their tab so I didn’t have to make a big deal about it. I have been dealing with this my whole life, it’s really normal. It only gets uncomfortable when we people make a point of bringing it up in a group. I am 38, it was only really socially unacceptable not to drink when I was ages 17-20 in high school/college at parties. After that everyone grew up and respected my wishes. If I choose to go to a social event where there’s drinking, I usually leave before anyone gets too crazy, as drunk people make me really uncomfortable, funny as it might be.
    Bottom line: Ask if it’s an issue privately. DO NOT think that it’s funny to try to get them to take a drink or allow your coworkers to do that. It’s not funny. And don’t make a big deal if happy hour last longer and they go home.

    Reply
    1. Ineloquent

      And really don’t order an alchloholic beverage that looks like a soda and slip it to your coworker. That happened once to a Mormon that I know. (It was her boss no less!)

      Reply
    2. Mela

      This. As long as it’s a place where there’s plenty of non-alcoholic options, food options, and everyone is respectful/an adult, a happy hour should be fine. In fact, the only work happy hours I’ve ever been to was because they had a happy hour menu for their food. I would get maybe one drink, lots of times no drink at all, but always some delicious food!

      Reply
  22. The Cosmic Avenger

    OP #5, here’s another instance of where dating and employment overlap. Apparently the company was looking for Ms. Right Now rather than Ms. Right.

    Of course I’m being a little facetious, but if they really wanted the best candidate for the job, they should have taken the time to interview all the promising candidates instead of trying to rush through a very tight, rigid interview schedule. Yes, there could have been time constrictions on them that we don’t know about, but considering that this kind of decision could have decades of impact, I’m surprised when any company or person tries to rush it.

    Reply
    1. Gandalf the Nude

      I think you’re being a lot facetious, actually. In most cases, not hiring The Absolute Best Candidate does not mean you’re hiring The Worst Candidate Possible. And you’re discounting how important timing is. There could be years of ramifications for not getting the timing right on a hiring decision as well. For example, better to have a good controller before the year-end close rather than take months to find the best controller ever and have your close be an absolute mess. And, as Alison points out, they might have found someone stronger anyway. Even more like dating, it’s just not helpful to speculate on the one that got away or obsessing over their new partner. That way lies bunny-boiling.

      Reply
      1. Brogrammer

        It’s true that availability factors into hiring decisions, but OP5’s example is pretty bad. This isn’t waiting months and months in the hopes that a better candidate than the ones you’ve already seen comes along, this is waiting three days after giving less than 24 hours notice to a candidate who already made it past the first round of interviews.

        Yeah, it doesn’t help to pine away after “the one that got away,” but it doesn’t hurt to acknowledge that it’s not you, it’s them.

        Reply
    2. Roscoe

      Companies are weird like that. Hell, even my company who is normally good, has definitely made some impluse hires. The problem was, even if they did have a weird timing things we don’t know about, that was their own doing. When you give someone less than 24 hours notice for an interview that they can’t make, its not really good to then penalize them for it. And I do think that this was a penalty and I wouldn’t want to work somewhere like that either

      Reply
      1. OP #5

        Thanks for the comments about my question! It was reassuring to hear Alison say that I was reasonable in my request. But yeah, I definitely get that they may have wanted something sooner.

        Reply
        1. Megs

          It’s just too bad that they didn’t get back to you about it – I recently had a similar situation happen with a potential employer and if they’d just flat out said “we can’t wait, can you make that work?” I would have made it work. Instead they said they’d get back to me and I never heard from them again.

          Reply
    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      But a lot of the time in this situation, they realize other candidates are stronger — so at that point it doesn’t make sense to go through schedule contortions. Sometimes it’s “Jane probably isn’t quite right, but if we have room in the interview schedule, let’s talk to her and see” and sometimes it’s “Jane seemed great, but then Lucinda and Percival came along, and we’re sure now that she’s not competitive with them.”

      Reply
      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Maybe. But sometimes the applicant who is borderline on paper really wows you in the interview, and vice versa. I know I’m talking about edge cases now, but really, so are people who are talking about having to have a person to do an annual deliverable. I’m just skeptical that they absolutely couldn’t have found another time to interview the OP, or that they could be certain that it wasn’t worth their time. A calculated risk, sure, but it seems like unless you’re hiring temps or seasonal workers, you want to be sure you’re getting the best fit possible.

        Reply
  23. Roscoe

    #1 This is hard based on the lack of information. There are so many things that go into it. Even just looking at the responses, its interesting how many people make distinctions between bar vs. pub vs. beer garden. I typically just call everything a bar. But most of the bars in my area serve food. So it just gets down to semantics for me. But I also am curious about the employee. Does her religion prohibit going someplace that serves alcohol, or is she just uncomfortable because of how drunk people getting? Or does she even care? Also, as someone above mentioned, happy hours are just the easiest spur of the moment thing to do. Its a lot different on a Friday toward the end of the day to just decide some people are going out for drinks, as opposed to planning things in advance. In general I think the more “formal” get togethers that are planned out well in advance should be varied, but I don’t now that happy hours here and there need to be varied.

    Another thing to consider, is the VP making all these decisions because she is very territorial about being THE social person, or is it like no one else will do it? I’m the social person at my smallish compnay, and the amount of people complaining about things is absurd. I always offer other people the option to plan things (our president would definitely have no problem with fronting the money) but no one else will do it. So its like, stop complaining if you aren’t willing to deal with the logistics of making this happen.

    Reply
    1. JeannieNitro

      Speaking as a Mormon who sometimes goes to happy hours with coworkers:

      No, being in a place where alcohol is served is not against the religion, although some tend to avoid bars/pubs altogether for various reasons (being around that much alcohol or drunk people make them uncomfortable, don’t want someone to see them there and have them assume they’re drinking, etc)

      While I don’t necessarily have a problem with being at bars, i would definitely also like to do other things as well. While I have no problem being at a bar & just drinking soda, I find bars boring because there is nothing to do there but talk, except usually the music is cranked up so loud you can only hear if you are screaming in the ear of the person next to you. Also, after an hour or two, it’s no longer fun to be the one sober person. Lastly, like many Mormons (yes, even young ones), I am married and have a family, and I would rather go home and eat dinner with them and help put my kid to bed instead of hanging out awkwardly at a bar where I’m not exactly having the time of my life.

      So I do end up going to a few happy hours because I know they’re important for “teammate bonding” and “networking”and ask that stuff, but I do often find them very boring.

      Reply
  24. Kelly White

    I’m not a drinker (or a mormon)- and I really don’t like hanging out in bars. Have I done it, yes. But, if I can avoid it, I do.
    And, as an employee, I would probably not participate in the informal happy hour, but never in a million years, if the VP set up a happy hour, would I say, “oh, you know what, I don’t drink, why don’t we go to a bookstore instead”
    (why, oh why, are there no employer sanctioned bookstore trips)

    Reply
    1. Purest Green

      I second employer-sanctioned bookstore trips! That would be a much happier hour for me. Or, you know, just going home.

      Reply
    2. Lily Rowan

      Ooh, now I have to find a reason to take my team to the bookstore/restaurant somewhat close to our office.

      Reply
    3. LQ

      I know you’re being cute, but because bookstores don’t generally have big space to sit and talk and be loud. The ones that I can think of are either gaming shops or actually serve booze. I can’t think of a place that I could walk to after work that wouldn’t serve at least beer but would be welcoming to 5-12 people being somewhat loud having normal voiced conversations across each other.

      Part of this is just a location issue. Where do you get that many people together without it being a conference room at an office that isn’t a place that serves alcohol? (My several local coffee shops all serve wine and beer, all the food places, “bars” or not serve at least beer and wine, even if they don’t have a full license.) Is it the “bar” or the place serves alcohol that you object to?

      And please, please, keep the loud jovial after work happy hour (even without booze) out of the nice quiet bookstores.

      Reply
    4. JOTeepe

      So, in a town about 40min south of me, there is a bookstore WITH A BAR. Best of both worlds? (Also, I don’t understand why this isn’t more of A Thing.)

      Reply
      1. JaneB

        We have a coffee shop which is full of books and sometimes sells them if people insist near us. It’s excellent. Although some people struggle to get back to work after lunches there…

        Reply
  25. Little Miss Cranky Pants

    I think that alcohol is just so ingrained in many cultures’ social fabric that we non-drinkers Just Don’t Get It. And drinkers Don’t Get Us.
    I don’t drink–at all, never have. And I do attend social events and weddings and parties and whatnot held at clubs or bars or catering halls. Alcohol, unless you make a really deliberate choice to narrow your social circle, is a part of just about any occasion these days.

    For an after-work social hour, someone might suggest bowling or ping-pong or a games venue, but many of those will still have an alcohol option. If the team is repeated going *only* to a bar that’s potentially a problem. Anyone who doesn’t drink, doesn’t want to be around drinkers, or doesn’t want to go to a bar is essentially left out. And that’s not really fair for a semi-work event.

    The VP should re-think this.

    Reply
  26. Jubilance

    #4 – what you described is standard at my large company. We have a lot of fun company-wide events for employees, like well-known speakers, music performances, etc and contractors are not allowed at those events. They aren’t allowed to take their laptops home either. I think individual managers make the call on if they include those people in team lunches or other smaller team events.

    Reply
  27. James

    Re #4: Another issue could be the contract types your manager works with. Inclusion in company events could be seen as a way to disguise a bribe/kickback/whatever, and the appearance can be enough to lose your company certain kinds of work. My company has to be VERY careful about how we handle that sort of thing. Going out to lunch at a job site (or bringing in food on occasion) falls under the heading “of nominal value and traditionally acceptable”, but joining us at a volunteer event would be well outside of that. Some companies can mitigate this by dividing the departments up in ways that allow only part of the company to be hit by these more strict requirements, but I’m not sure how that works. Could be that your department has to follow more strict guidelines, or that your manager came from one that did.

    The laptops thing just screams “I don’t trust you”. If no one were allowed to take them home, that’d be one thing–and there are cases where that’s justifiable from the company’s perspective (Homeland Security is not a fun agency to work with, and you’d be surprised what they get involved with). But contractors? Unless there’s confidential/secret information (not the same thing in this context–“confidential” here means LEGALLY confidential) it just seems antagonistic to work that way.

    Reply
    1. animaniactoo

      Actually the laptops thing has nothing to do with a lack of trust and is explicitly a dividing line between being a contractor and an employee. A contractor brings their own equipment or uses what is on hand at the company at their location. The moment they start bringing company equipment home, they’ve passed over the “being provided company equipment” line vs required to supply their own.

      Reply
      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        And the matter of recording hours. A temporary employee has to be paid for all time that they work. It’s opening a can of worms to let anybody who isn’t exempt salaried take home company laptops unless you’ve asked them to work on something specific and you are paying them for the hours they work.

        Reply
      2. Whats In A Name

        This is a very true and valid point. I work as a contractor, and I have the ability to log in remote, etc. The difference is I get paid an annual salary for a JOB. I don’t get an hourly rate as a contractor. I use their resources when I am in their office (normally 40 hours a week) but I have a lot of flexibility in hours and in remote work due to my status.

        In my first year with said company I committed only 20 hours a week to them, and the situation was completely different. I did not have access to any company materials off site and was instructed not to bring anything home. At that point I was being paid HOURLY.

        Reply
        1. OP #4

          That makes more sense about the computer now reading these comments. We aren’t allowed to pay the contractor overtime after the 40 hours a week so there shouldn’t be a need for her to have the computer at home. I made sure the contracting company told her ahead of time she couldn’t bring it home so she would not come in and be upset by the situation. Our last contractor was very unhappy thinking it was because we thought she was going to steal the computer but really its not about that.

          Reply
  28. Allison

    #2, while my first reaction is “how can someone design properly when they don’t see colors properly?” but I also wondered, how did that person get where they are? Even if this is their first ever design gig, they had some training, and had to have some sort of portfolio of school assignments, personal projects, and/or freelance work to get hired, or they had to have done some sort of design as part of the hiring process. Wherever they are, they got there somehow, and color blindness hasn’t gotten in their way yet. So figure out how they’ve been able to work with or overcome their color blindness before writing them off as incompetent.

    #5, this isn’t uncommon or necessarily unfair. Obviously it’s not ideal for you, and it would have been great if they’d given you a shot, but if the role was an urgent need for the company and the person they’d already interviewed blew them away, they might have decided it didn’t make sense to delay that amazing candidate just so they could give someone else what would have been a courtesy interview, wasting both your time and that candidate’s time. Especially if that other person was on a tight timeline with another offer in the air.

    Reply
    1. Myrin

      I don’t know where in #2 you’re seeing the OP wanting to write the designer off as incompetent; if anything, she seems to want to be accommodating and helpful. And I don’t actually agree that his colour blindness hasn’t gotten in his way yet, or rather, it has gotten in the way of the designer’s coworkers but no one but OP actually knows that – Looking back over the last several months, I have realized this is a lot of the reasons we have to keep going over a lot of projects and tweaking the colors.. This issue can and does have an issue on his overall work product as well as on the effectiveness of his colleagues – which might be very mild, but also very severe (Wakeen posted above about such a case in her own company).

      Reply
    2. Marcela

      I really don’t like the “see colors properly” phrase. We don’t really know if when I say red, you are also seeing the same color. We only know that we call red the color tomatoes are. So there is no way to see properly. Colorblind people is not able to distinguish certain colors, so there lies the problem, but that’s a different thing.

      Reply
  29. Sunny Days

    #1 – I think places other than bars that serve alcohol are a good choice for a lot of reasons. When the focus isn’t exclusively on alcohol, people don’t get as drunk. That’s good for a work event. There are also a lot of people who are somewhere between being drinkers and non-drinkers. People who don’t always want to drink but feel weird about saying no when everyone else is doing it. If you’re at a restaurant, coffee shop or bowling alley, it’s less weird to get a soda, coffee, or lemonade. And yes, work-related activities should err on the side of being inclusive. People can organize happy hours at bars on their own if they want to.

    Reply
  30. Trout 'Waver

    #3, Don’t get too hung up on this. Things like offices, computers, workspaces, and tools aren’t perfectly fair and are unlikely to ever be. And sharing an office with one other person could be terrible or great, depending on who that other person is. You should acknowledge to the second worker that you know it’s not fair, you’re working on a solution, but you can’t make any guarantees. Treat the two equally and let your actions to the talking.

    Reply
    1. baseballfan

      I agree. If you are matter of fact about it and don’t act like it should be viewed as a big slight, there’s less chance that it will be. Space is at a premium, inevitably someone will get the less desirable workspace. I have to say that if new hires are getting any kind of office, whether shared or not, they’re better off than new hires in most places where the norm is cubicles or open space.

      Many companies including mine are solving the space problem by “hoteling” where no one has an assigned workspace, but you reserve space ahead of time for the days you are in the office. This obviously works better in some environments than others. In my office, we have people who travel sometimes, plus my group has a policy of one work from home day per week. So in our situation it helps maximize the use of the available space and cut down on having a problem with new hires that there is no room for.

      Reply
  31. Betsy

    #3—This exact thing actually happened to me. I started a job two weeks after someone else, and she got the last available private office and I got a cubicle in an open space. And while it is generally disappointing, the thing that really bothered me was just that no one EVER mentioned it to me. I actually had a few more years experience than the other person, so not knowing their reasoning did bug me a bit. I would just recommend that you explain to the person with the worse spot why they ended up there, even if it’s just saying that you flipped a coin, and they should be fine with it as long as they feel they were treated fairly.

    Reply
  32. Eliza Jane

    For #1, I think one of the challenges is that there’s a difference between, “I want to have an after-work thing; let’s go do a happy hour!” and “I want to go to happy hour; does anyone want to come with me?”

    Because I’ve seen places that have tried to do non-bar activities instead of happy hour to include everyone, and the result has always been that no one goes. Happy hour is an almost unique activity in that it’s a relaxing after-w0rk activity that promotes conversation where you can spend fifteen minutes, an hour, or two hours without disrupting things. The times someone has invoked happy hour on one of my teams, it’s almost always been a, “wow, I need a drink after that week we just had,” and everyone saying, “OMG, yes, let’s all go.”

    When people try to do things like, “Let’s all go bowl a few rounds,” “Let’s go hang out at the coffee shop,” or “Let’s go to a local restaurant,” people suddenly shift into, “No, I just want to go home” mode.

    So it may not be a choice between happy hour and something more inclusive. It may be a choice between happy hour and nothing.

    Reply
    1. Sunny Days

      Yeah, I’ve seen that too. Restaurants that have a bar (that people hang out at) and bars that serve food are a good solution, but there isn’t always a good one nearby.

      Reply
    2. JOTeepe

      Eliza, I was thinking the same thing. Often, I am really not interested in some sort of “structured” team event. I’ve just spent 8+ hours in a structured team environment with all of you. Happy hour – which tends to be informal and unstructured – is one thing. Having to do some sort of organized activity is another. To flip it on it’s head, you may say you could just go to a bar and “not drink,” but it is uncomfortable and not fun for you. Well, I am a terrible bowler, so going to spend money on an activity I’m not good at and don’t enjoy is uncomfortable and not fun for me.

      This isn’t about deliberately excluding people who don’t drink, or “only being able to have fun with alcohol.” It has nothing to do with alcohol. I would enjoy, for example, an after work summer hike close by, or an after (or before!) team “bootcamp” class at a local gym. However, I can think of a TON of people who would hate that, just like I would hate bowling or some sort of “casual” pickup sports league! It’s really more that not everyone is going to enjoy every “fun” after-work option, so many default to the option that has the most mass appeal (because let’s face it, it does) that is the easiest to organize.

      Having said that, I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to a coffee/teahouse meetup alternative to a bar for a non-alcoholic happy hour, as it would be a similar vibe, though those options tend to be far more limited and spread out, which I imagine is pretty universally true.

      Reply
      1. Temperance

        On the flip side to that, though, Mormons also don’t drink coffee or tea. I love going to the coffee shop with friends, but I don’t think it would work well in this context.

        Reply
        1. JOTeepe

          Right. I was more using that to counter the idea that the coffee/teahouse wouldn’t be the “same” as a happy hour, though I disagree in that it could offer a similar informality that I think is being sought here. (Unless you don’t have one nearby that has a suitable space, which is valid. With the exception of Starbucks, most of the coffeehouses in my immediate area are either too small (Starbucks kind of is, too), OR are only open for breakfast/lunch. But that’s a separate issue.)

          You do bring up a good point in the instant scenario, though. If not bar or a coffeehouse, where WOULD you be comfortable? At this point it’s a fair statement that it might an activity where others are not comfortable and may also be more difficult to organize. I don’t mean this to say it shouldn’t be done once in a while for the sake of being inclusive, but rather to say that not everyone will be comfortable or enjoy every event, and that’s OK too.

          Reply
          1. LQ

            The coffee shops in my area that are open after work hours all serve wine and beer too. If they don’t they close up at 2 or 3 after lunch.

            I do think part of the reason bars are a common place to go is that they are easy. You don’t have to schedule ahead of time, you don’t have to reserve space, you don’t have to keep impossibly quiet, you can all pay separately and there isn’t a base. As much as I don’t like happy hour, I would like everyone going to the museum or a book store or paintballing less. I can just duck out after the first round and I can either go for a beer (or whatever) or I can get a soda and then pay up and leave.

            Reply
      2. AFT123

        Great point – going out for a drink is basically the least committal activity that will appeal to the most number of people usually. I can commit to hanging at a bar for 15-20 minutes regardless of if I have a drink or not, but saying yes to bowling or something structured means I’d have to make a larger commitment, at which point, I’m out. A coffee/tea shop doesn’t sound appealing after work because it feels “wrong” to hang out and not drink something there, and I don’t want caffeine at 5:30pm, and there usually aren’t a ton of appealing non-caffeinated options. Not enough to make it seem like a fun place to go anyway.

        Reply
        1. Aurion

          Is it typical to sit at bars without drinking though? I would imagine bars have the same (unsaid?) expectation that everyone at the table should order something.

          Reply
          1. JOTeepe

            AFT123, good point re: coffee shops. Further proves my point that while bar happy hours may not be the ideal universal, there really isn’t a great alternative.

            Aurion: It’s socially acceptable to have a glass of water or a club soda, both of which are typically free of charge, especially if people in your party are ordering drinks. I very frequently will drink water at the bar if I don’t want more to drink but am not done hanging out.

            Reply
            1. Aurion

              Oh, good to know. I’m pretty much a non-drinker (hate the taste) and I don’t like the bar atmosphere. Happy hours isn’t really a thing in my workplaces, but I imagine I wouldn’t participate much anyway on atmospheric grounds alone.

              But how is it different than a bunch of people sitting down at a coffee shop and someone orders an iced tea or even just water? The other people at the table will still be paying for their own coffee/tea drinks, right? (Assuming people don’t have problems with caffeine consumption after work.)

              Reply
              1. LQ

                I wonder if this is different because of how things are defined. The coffee shops I can go to after work (that are open past 4) all serve some kind of alcohol. So someone might have wine or beer. But the difference between my favorite coffee shop/bar and my favorite bar? One opens at 7 am and serves eggs, the other doesn’t, one has a wider selection of liquors and the other a wider selection of coffee (though I’ve been to bars with great coffee options too). Tables, music, servers, clothing, they are basically interchangeable.

                If you are opposed to all alcohol being served around you you’d have a hard time finding it in a place you can all sit together (inside) in my city.

                The casual after work drinks I’ve been to are usually at bars, but that’s I think because the bars that the people who select usually have happy hour specials on food (like appetizers for cheap).

                (And I’ve never been hassled, much less had someone mention anything when I’m not drinking, or when I duck out after a single soda, which is the part I love above all other “FUN” social options. I can leave. Quickly.)

                Reply
                1. Aurion

                  Ah, coffee shops are open all day around here, and they do not serve alcohol. Alcohol is on a much tighter leash in my neck of the woods.

                  That said, I feel like alcohol is so synonymous with unwinding that people would probably just choose a bar by default (especially since bar food can be a lot more filling than pastries and muffins from coffee shops).

                  (I have been poked at for my lack of drinking, though not terribly obnoxiously. I consider myself pretty lucky in that respect.)

              2. JOTeepe

                I don’t really think it is different? Except (in my experience) tap water is free at the bar, whereas at a coffee shop you might have to purchase a bottle of water because they might not have tap water (or by policy don’t offer it). Not that this is a prohibitive expense by any stretch, but I think people tend to be turned off to that on principle. Otherwise, I agree with you, I don’t really see a big difference.

                I will say it definitely depends on the locale as to whether I even want to go, and I *do* like to drink. I’ll often suck it up on occasion if it isn’t a place that is convenient and/or an atmosphere that’s not really my scene, but I tend to be fussy about these types of gatherings in my personal life.

                Reply
          2. PlainJane

            I’m a lifelong nondrinker, and I can always find something to order in a bar: sodas, juices, or my favorite–virgin drinks. Virgin strawberry daiquiris are amazing (though expensive). I do prefer bars attached to restaurants, though, so I can order food too.

            Reply
  33. Sunny Days

    #2 – I would stay out of it but if the co-worker brings it up again, ask about glasses for color blindness and other solutions. If he doesn’t bring it up, I wouldn’t say anything. And I definitely wouldn’t tell the manager. That could fall under disclosing someone else’s disability, or harassment. He chose to take on this role so he can decide how to handle it.

    Reply
    1. Fun Guy

      I tend to want to agree. Years ago I worked at a wholesale bakery and became good friends with a coworker, who disclosed to me in complete confidence that due to a childhood illness he had lost his senses of smell and taste. Despite that, he managed to get culinary training, work in several bakeries, and eventually rise to the level of QA manager. I never told anyone at the bakery because he had asked me not to and it wasn’t my job to micromanage how he dealt with his work situation–and we worked in different departments, so I was never witness to how it may or may not have affected his job performance. (Although interestingly we cooked dinner together a couple times and he had a narrow repertoire of recipes because he could ‘remember’ how they were supposed to taste.)

      The only thing that gives me pause is that it does sound like the designer’s situation is causing some unnecessary work and stress for his team, and it doesn’t seem fair to ask other folks to consistently work to accommodate someone who doesn’t seem to have fully figured out how to deal with his condition.

      Reply
  34. Sunny Days

    #4 – Could be a CYA move on the part of the manager. Maybe she notices that the company is making some risky decisions in the way they treat contractors and she wants to be sure she’s not one of the people to blame if they face penalties.

    Reply
  35. Dust Bunny

    Happy Hour: If these are formal-ish work events and somebody is organizing them than, yes, it would be nice to rotate in a non-bar location. Drinkers will survive an occasional evening sans alcohol, and it’s much more inclusive not to make the one non-drinker the only person who has to schedule his/her own happy hour.

    Subprime workspace: My office has a spacious office empty across from mine. I share space part-time with interns and volunteers (we’re a nonprofit). But it’s well understood that that office is workspace set aside for our occasional contract employees or additional interns and volunteers. I’m more than happy not to have to move offices every time we have somebody new in here. This shouldn’t require that much of an explanation.

    Reply
  36. Lynxa

    Re: #2 – There are glasses that help colorblind people see color. They’re a little pricey (around $200) but I think it’d be worth the graphic designer checking out! The main one seems to be from Enchroma (enchroma.com)

    Reply
    1. Undine

      Looks like they’re red/green colorblind only. I don’t know if there are others available for other types of colorblindness. Also, how effective they are may depend on how bad the colorblindness is in the first place. They would be worth looking into, but often these technical solutions do not completely obviate the need for other solutions (like cochlear implants don’t work for everyone, and don’t solve everything even if they do).

      Reply
  37. NW Mossy

    Alcohol certainly isn’t the only land mine in planning social activities for a work group – food, physical activities, games, and volunteering can all be difficult areas if the people you work with have strict needs and/or strong opinions in those areas. Timing is also a challenge as some people’s schedules don’t easily permit them to attend, especially if it’s a spur-of-the-moment activity like a happy hour. Even if you can get all of that right, there are likely to be individuals in the group that simply don’t want to socialize with colleagues for their own personal reasons and any organized event feels like punishment to them.

    To accommodate this range, I try to make sure that anything I plan for my team offers the following:

    * Attendance is always voluntary, as is participation in specific elements (food/drink, activities)
    * Events take place during normal working hours for the attendees and transportation is provided if off-site
    * If feasible, make it possible for someone to pop in briefly (5-10 minutes) rather than commit to a lengthy event
    * Events vary in time of day/location/focus

    I know that no single event will please everyone, but I do hope that over the course of a year, each person can find one that they would enjoy. And even then, if someone wants to opt out of all of them, I’m OK with that too. There’s nothing to be gained by trying to force enjoyment.

    Reply
  38. Temperance

    Re: LW #1: I can’t think of any good alternatives to happy hour that would accommodate your coworker’s preferences and actually get other people to show up. Things like office sports leagues require a much more significant commitment and are frankly less pleasant to deal with for a larger amount of people.

    Mormons also don’t drink coffee, so I imagine a coffee shop would be off limits.

    Reply
    1. Megs

      I’m pretty confident that most Mormons can be in coffee shops, though, and most places serve lots of drinks beside coffee. A couple of folks chimed in up thread with more first-hand specifics.

      I agree, however, that happy hour is kind of it’s own unique thing, and so long as it’s casual and the person isn’t otherwise being excluded, it’s hard to think of a good alternative that people would even be interested in.

      Reply
  39. Miaw

    I think it is important to make an effort to be inclusive and to try finding solution around an employee’s… Disability (for the lack of better word). Perhaps OP can have a talk with the color blind employee about how the disability directly impacts the quality of the work. I believe being color blind should not limit someone’s working capability, but in this case, i see that it is a problem.

    Like someone else said, see if the designer can purchase a glasses to help them see color. Maybe see if the company can partially reimburse the cost (though frankly from my experience it would fall under ‘personal expense’, not business cost).

    Reply
    1. Miaw

      As an additional comment, i find it interesting that the employee managed to find a job as a graphic designer despite being color blind! Usually, the color errors should have been obvious in the portfolio. OP, what’s his portfolio look like? If the portfolio does not have any color problem, perhaps you can ask the designer how did he managed to workaround the color-blindness. Perhaps some of the method he used to put together a good portfolio vpcan be implemented in the job?

      Reply
      1. Miaw

        Ok, good for the designer then! I should have clarified above that I am not from the USA so I am not familiar with the law. At least in my country something like this would fall under ‘personal’.

        Reply
  40. themmases

    Re. #3, I have been the junior person in an absolutely terrible space before. It sucked but I knew it was due to lack of space (at first they were talking about having me sit in a totally different building!) and as an entry level person I hadn’t been expecting anything that great anyway.

    It’s really the behavior of other people in the office that determine whether it feels like a slight or merely drawing the short straw. I sat in the middle area of a pod of offices, next to the copier and the mailboxes. People would come in and start copying right when I was on the phone (yes we had other copiers), ask me for any receptionist-type information or help you can think of despite knowing I was a researcher, stand directly behind me and have a conversation, sit in there to wait for an office occupant and try to talk to me the whole time, use my computer like it was public terminal while I was away at lunch, take pens from my desk…

    It helped me when my boss got me a privacy insert for my screen so people couldn’t look right over my shoulder at my work, encouraged me to lock my computer and even lock up my keyboard or mouse if I wanted while away, and generally backed me up when I had to tell people to leave me alone. If there are low-traffic conference rooms or offices you know will be empty for a few weeks at a time, be proactive about getting permission for your employee to use them when they need quiet.

    When I finally got a better space, I needed backup again because many people were used to walking right up to me whenever they felt like it, and didn’t want me to be allowed to keep my door closed. I earned that door!

    Reply
  41. BadPlanning

    On OP3, I’d keep an eye out for things that seem to happy to people stuck in an odd/open work area (where it’s not the norm).

    -Isolation from team members. Everyone else is buddy buddy in their offices and New Hire is left out.
    -There’s not enough space for people to walk around New Hire’s desk area easily and New Hire is getting bumped or scooted around, etc.
    -People might mistake New Hire for an Admin (see AAMs many related letters)
    -People might not actually mistake New Hire for an Admin, but may start asking New Hire to fix the printer, open access controlled doors, “Hey, where’s Fergus, he’s not in his office.”

    Reply
    1. JohnBigBootie

      Will you be hiring additional team members anytime soon? Where will they work? Your latest hire may accept the open work area. But, if she sees new hires being given better space, that rationale falls apart pretty quickly.

      Reply
  42. Whats In A Name

    #1 – I agreed with a couple comments above. Talk with the employee – you might be projecting that they aren’t participating because they are Mormon. Yes, you know they are, but maybe they are not participating because they have other obligations after work or just don’t want to spend all their time with co-workers.

    #2 – Sounds like the color blindness in itself can be fixed by several suggestions above. But as far as your actually question – I think that YES you most certainly need to encourage him to talk to the manager and get them in the loop. You might have to go so far as to say “If you don’t, I will”. Work arounds might be in place to help manage work flow and get projects back on a timely track, but none of this can happen if management doesn’t know what is going on and look into the tools to help.

    #3 – Newbies especially almost don’t know what to expect, so if you talk to them in advance I would say they might not have a bad reaction. Just be sure their other coworkers make them feel like part of the team and are welcoming.

    #4 – I am a contractor as well and in your situation. It sucks, but really there is nothing I can do about it. I work 40 hours and they are my only employer, but it’s something I signed on for when I agreed to do contract work for them. I know sometimes it’s not great, but you have to remember it’s not them saying “WE don’t appreciate you.” It’s simply a business decision. Now if it’s something that being handled differently by different departments, you can certainly let HR know and talk to them. Just know that the answer you get could not be the one you are hoping for – the other manager could have been doing something against policy.

    #5 – Sorry it didn’t work out, but I wouldn’t loose sleep over it! If you can’t miss a meeting, you can’t miss a meeting. Especially because the job wasn’t guaranteed, it was just an interview! Something better might come along!

    Reply
  43. Lanya

    #2: A designer with color blindness makes me think of a ballerina with vertigo. The condition is certainly not her fault, but without a doubt, it keeps her from being able to do her job as effectively as others.

    With much respect to people affected by color blindness…a huge part of professional graphic design involves being able to work with color and understanding color psychology. Others mentioned labeling the color swatches used in the design program, which would help the employee identify where the colors are being used…but swatches won’t help him know if the colors look right in the design.

    The fact that the employee asked the manager not to say anything about his colorblindness tells me that the employee knows it’s a problem, and he’s concerned about it. I would encourage the manager to have a frank discussion with this employee, find out how much the color blindness really impacts his work day-to-day, and seriously ask the employee if he feels it’s a good fit for him. If his designs are stellar otherwise, perhaps it’s worth it to keep him on, or perhaps an intern could be brought in to assist. Otherwise, this guy might potentially have a much easier time in a different career path involving black and white book or newspaper design.

    Reply
    1. Miaw

      I agree with this sentiment and I would do exactly what you described if I were the manager. However, giving up a career path because of a disability seems harsh. A proper technology and support may help people overcome this. If I were the manager I will talk to this person to see if using color-correction glasses can help him in his day to day work. If he feels graphic design doesn’t suit him, i will let him come to that conclusion on his own. Suddenly getting pushed out of a job because of a disability is very demoralizing.

      Reply
      1. Lanya

        I agree with you, and I hope the color-correction glasses could be a solution for him. I’ve seen some videos about those glasses and they seem fascinating, and very helpful for people with color blindness.

        Reply
    2. Jules the First

      Well hang on a sec – sometimes what looks like a disadvantage is actually just a different perspective. Speaking as a former ballerina with vertigo (yes, really), it was never a problem and was actually rather useful in fouettes, because I was less likely to be affected by dizziness (better coping techniques!).

      These days, although I have monocular vision and cannot see in 3D, I do a lot of work with virtual reality and renderings because I find it absurdly easy to spot things which don’t look right – I’m accustomed to looking actively for cues which ‘normal’ people use but aren’t aware of, which, done wrong, make the whole image feel ‘off’. I’ve never worked with a colorblind graphic designer, but I have worked with a colorblind interior designer, and he was a whizz with pattern and texture and tone – he just needed help sorting samples into an appropriate spectrum. I wonder if the OP is thinking they are spending a lot of time color correcting when this is actually just normal color blending (god knows I’ve spent days with my designers trying to get the pink just right). They did also pick one of the two colors (orange; the other is green) which is exceptionally hard to accurately reproduce both on screen and in print.

      OP should go back to the graphic designer and talk about why the color blend is being so labor intensive, because that’s the real problem, not the designer’s colorblindness.

      Reply
  44. Photoshop Til I Drop

    LW #2: There are color-corrective glasses available, but they only work on some types of color blindness, and they work best outside in bright sunlight. The graphic designer might be interested in trying them anyway, because they are returnable. My SO has a pair and they have changed his life.

    Otherwise, agreed with previous comments about going with a more color-blind-friendly color scheme. That’s why Facebook is mostly blue, IIRC.

    Reply
  45. toomanybooks

    I don’t drink, for no particular reason other than I never wanted to. When a happy hour is suggested it is kind of awkward to be like “well, I should let you know I don’t drink” so that no one is like “why didn’t you tell us you don’t drink before we planned a drinking event, now we feel like jerks.” I’ve gone to one (at a restaurant, not a bar) and ordered hot chocolate and the others did find it pretty amusing.

    Along with religious reasons though, I’d think the biggest issue would be recovering alcoholics who don’t feel comfortable going to a happy hour. It’s probably a lot harder to admit that you can’t go because you’re in recovery than because of your religion.

    Regarding the color blind designer, I have to say, I went to ~the world’s top ranked design school~ and definitely knew a few people there who were color blind, professors included. They didn’t really like it to get out just because it’s kind of embarrassing (it seems like a joke, a color blind artist), but they were still, of course, very good artists and designers. I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Just let your coworker know when issues come up (“oh, by the way, I don’t know if this is affected by your type of color blindness but this color is off”).

    Reply
  46. Is it Friday Yet?

    For #3, I think you are right to be concerned — especially if there is no end in sight to getting a better workspace and all of the junior teapot maker’s co-workers have better setups. I had a HORRIBLE setup for a year at my last position where I did not have my own desk, and had to share with others (sometimes even had to sit on the floor because there was not enough space). I frequently complained to my manager who had the same response Allison is recommending, and ultimately I quit because it was very difficult to do my job without a proper set up.

    I’d recommend offering to let this person work from home one day per week if you think it is appropriate to make up for the less than ideal situation.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      But your situation was very different from the OP’s! You didn’t have your own desk at all and had to sit on the floor at times — that’s horrible and not the same thing :)

      Reply
  47. Anonymustard

    #2 is interesting because at the company I work at we have a colorblind graphic designer too! He’s great at layouts and making murals, cartoon characters, and picture books (we’re a educational company for kids), but he has a few tricks to get around his colorblindness:

    – he’s learned the number value of our company colors in Photoshopp
    – he keeps a “palette” window open of colors he knows fit in our color scheme, ordered by color so that he knows he’s always picking “sky blue” instead of “turquoise”
    – he never buys paint for murals without paint chips

    There have been a few mishaps here and there, but because he shares drafts with us, these problems are quickly caught. And that’s the problem with the graphic designer in question #2! He wasn’t upfront about his colorblindness. It’s too bad, because it’s become a weird ethical problem instead of a small technical problem.

    Reply
  48. Sarah

    #3 – Don’t worry about it! When I started at my job (fresh out of grad school, my first ‘real’ job), I started on the same day as another woman. I was put into a shared office with another ‘junior teapot maker’ (who had started ~3 months previously), and she got her own office. At the time, most other ‘junior teapot makers’ were sharing offices, and it honestly didn’t bother me one bit that she ended up in her own office and I was sharing because I knew we were the bottom of the totem pole. (And honestly, as a shy introvert, having a officemate when I was new and trying to figure everything out was actually great!)

    Reply
  49. Chris

    OP#3, you sound like a good manager, in a tough spot. I think the key is to be super, mega, ultra up-front about this. Emphasize that you are truly sorry about this, it’s being worked on, etc. Don’t just shrug and say “that’s the way it is” or anything, because wave goodbye to good morale if that’s the foot you’re starting on.

    The other key is to make sure that otherwise, the job is fine. “Sure, I have a crap desk, but I like my colleagues and the work”, etc. Make sure the new hire has absolutely everything they need to do their job, and check frequently to make sure their doing ok. And do make an effort to push for new space. Promises last a while, but hearing “we’re working on it” and nothing changes also torpedoes morale.

    Finally (third key?) make an effort to have the employee feel included and an equal on the team. They’re already going to be feeling slightly left out, and they will probably be much more sensitive to feeling slighted.

    Reply
  50. Lia

    For the color blind coworker, would it be possible to put together an “official colors” list with the RGB numerical values for each approved color?

    I ask as a lot of companies I’ve worked with have this. (Less I suspect for the color blind than to keep things “on brand” + from looking really fugly.) I suspect it could help!

    Reply
  51. That Marketing Chick

    #3 I’m in charge of our entire marketing department, and I sit in an open department that has no window. Guess what? I survive. ;) #Don’tSweatTheSmallStuff

    Reply
  52. Biscuits McGee

    #1 – I still cannot believe that employers are allowed to have after work “happy hours”. Not only is it EXTREMELY dangerous from the employer’s perspective (drunk driving, alcoholics falling off the wagon, etc.), it is extremely dangerous for the employee (saying things off the cuff, doing things you wouldn’t normally do, etc.). When I worked at Warner Bros., they fired my boss for this exactly. *(They did warn the person first). The second time it was reported, goodbye, they were not having it.

    Reply
  53. Water Please

    #1 – A bit late to the party, but I wanted to jump in anyway :)

    I belong to another non-drinking religion (not LDS or Islam) and being in a bar is generally not a terribly comfortable experience for me. The comments above about bars being focused on alcohol in the way that other establishments aren’t is very true — and beyond that, when you’re at a bar, non-alcoholic drinks tend to be a lot more expensive, and often served in very tiny containers. The last time I went to a bar (it was a friend’s birthday…) I asked for water and received an 8oz plastic cup, which I then had to continually go up to the bar itself to get refilled, while my friends drinking alcohol got table service. Server would not fetch me water. It was definitely a very othering, exclusionary experience. And also, I find the smell of alcoholic drinks is very strong and unpleasant; in a place that is specifically and exclusively a bar, the smell is a lot worse and is really unpleasant for me. Somewhere that has a bar as part of the establishment, but is much larger beyond that, doesn’t tend to be nearly so smelly.

    Beyond that, I find some of the comments above are really diving into rules-lawyering on exactly how following religious restrictions ought to work — but that really isn’t what the question is, here. It isn’t “is this technically an exact violation of an explicitly stated rule” — it’s “is this something that is doable and comfortable for this person, and contributes to them feeling like a part of the team?” Too, it’s really inappropriate to tell someone ‘well, since your religion doesn’t explicitly and completely ban this, you should be able to come along!’ Technically my religion only encourages, not mandates, abstinence from alcohol and other drugs, but I follow that encouragement as a personal mandate, because I strongly believe in the spiritual reasons behind it. I would find it very inappropriate if someone tried to tell me what my religion does or doesn’t actually prohibit as a way to encourage me to take part in an activity that I find deeply uncomfortable and not in line with my spiritual beliefs.

    Reply
  54. stevenz

    #1. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for her. People who live with unusually strict values have to know that the overwhelming majority of the society around them does not share those restrictions, and some adaptation is necessary. In fact, often those religious restrictions are intended to separate them from society and its sins. But she is a coworker and no doubt good company so now and then you all could go get ice cream, or coffee and scones or something like that. (Unless she objects to being around coffee, but there are plenty of things to drink at a cafe that aren’t caffeinated.) But the after work happy hour is a long tradition and you shouldn’t feel bad about doing it because of one person and she should understand that.

    As to your main question, I think it’s up to you and the team to initiate an alternative idea but don’t make it sound like you’re sacrificing something just for her sake. Everybody loves ice cream, so why not?

    Reply
  55. stevenz

    #2. This is hilarious. How did he get through school? Maybe once you figure out what colors he does know, you can just design in those. What I’m wondering is whether you can fire him based on his color blindness, or would that violate ADA?

    #3. Nowadays workspaces are becoming more and more minimal, and even then, it’s very normal to apportion space based on seniority or rank. I dealt with it 30 years ago. Don’t worry about it at all.

    #4. The law says you can’t treat them like an employee. It doesn’t say you can’t treat them like human beings. The law deals with the formal aspects of employment such as taxes, workspace, hours, record keeping, etc. I don’t believe it restricts attendance at parties at all.

    Reply
  56. Milla

    Our office is running out of space as well and they’re not handling it well.
    I currently work in an area slightly larger than the average cubicle, but they’ve managed to cram four desks into. Last week, they hired a new person. On his second day, he walked back to our veal cube, saw the other three of us crammed in, declared he felt ill, and left. He never came back. So yes, people definitely leave over work spaces. But, be less concerned about the workspace and more concerned about the disparity. I didn’t really mind working in my veal cube with so many other people until I saw a new hire after me with less experience get a full cubicle to themselves from the start. It breeds resentment and jealousy, like favoring one sibling over another.

    It might be best to give both junior teapot makers the less-desirable space than to split them between good and bad.

    At a previous job, they relocated half of the temps from their really nice, ergonomic, private cubicles next to the windows into shared long tables in a dreary training room that was freezing and lacking equipment to make way for full time employees arriving from a merger. Morale in the training room tanked and people started quitting weekly. The temps who had had to move to the crappier workspace complained bitterly about being the red-headed step children and unfair treatment. Turnover was insanely high because the workspace left a bad first impression on new hires and old ones felt unappreciated. The temps who remained in the nicer space started lording it over the have-nots and acting superior. It created a very bad work dynamic for everyone. So either have everyone suffer together, or no one.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Before you comment: Please be kind, stay on-topic, and follow the site's commenting rules.
You can report an ad, tech, or typo issue here.

Subscribe to all comments on this post by RSS