my boss is taking credit for my work

A reader writes:

I have been on this job for many years, but there has been a re-org and now I report to a new person. My new manager has not been in this unit long, so there are times when she refers to me regarding questions on unit procedures and policies to respond to others in the company. She will then send out emails with the information I gave her, with some edits. I am always cc’d on the emails, but is that taking the credit for my work if I put together the initial document?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • My company won’t pay for bathroom breaks
  • How can I preserve my flexible schedule when my manager leaves?
  • Asking for a job description before applying for a job
  • Phone calls when you have a voice disorder

{ 145 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. paul

    that bathroom break letter….holy mackerel. I don’t understand companies.

    I’ve seen workplaces require a doctors note for someone that seems to go *all the time* and I can kind of get that (if you’re going to the bathroom 2-3x an hour in a job that needs coverage) but that’s just nuts.

    Reply
    1. Karen D

      Right. This policy would play merry hell with me. I don’t need an inordinate number of breaks, but waiting hours for a scheduled break is just not going to happen. (And “we’re not children” remark makes me think this boss is really out of touch; as I’ve observed among my own colleagues aging and/or childbearing really impacts the ability to delay one’s calls of nature.)

      Reply
      1. k

        The “we’re not children” comment is so backwards to me. Grown adults are usually trusted to go to the bathroom at appropriate times. Policing their bathroom breaks makes if feel much more like their treating them like children.

        Reply
        1. Commenting

          Yes, monitoring someone’s bathroom usage is treating them like a child. Are they implying people who drink the appropriate amount of water and ignore the signals their body is giving them all day are acting like children? Because those would be some well functioning children

          Reply
          1. Justme

            This reminds me of the letter when the young woman was chastised for asking to use the restroom when it was her time of the month. Like, no, not waiting on that one.

            Reply
            1. Mary Dempster

              In highschool my french teacher, who legitimately disliked me for no reason I could see, told me I couldn’t go to the bathroom. I told her it was a feminine changing issue, and she said “no, you go at the same time every day.”

              Yes, exactly four hours after I put in the first tampon, I needed to change it.

              I left after she said no and went straight to the nurses office to get a note, a tampon, and explain. It was horrific. Pretty sure she’s still employed.

              Reply
              1. k

                Ugh. At least you had the good sense to go to the nurses office and get a note. I imagine many teens wouldn’t know what to do in that situation and end up getting in trouble.

                Reply
                1. Noobtastic

                  Except for the really rebellious teens who would say, “Fine, I’ll just change it right here, then.”

                  I’ve known a couple who started undressing, just to make the point.

                  But, yeah, the vast majority of teens feel too powerless against such authority, even when they know full well that authority is being completely unreasonable, and just suck it up, and suffer the physical consequences of the unreasonableness, while the unreasonable adult suffers no consequences, at all. “Hey, don’t punish me because the kid got a bladder infection. She’s old enough to know when to go to the bathroom.”

                  Also, what is the thing with HUGE high schools having such short breaks between classes that it is all you can do to get from one class to another on the other end of campus, and never mind stopping at your locker to swap out books, let alone go to the bathroom. I used to have to carry literally all of my books around for the morning, and all of my books for the afternoon, because of my ridiculous back-and-forth schedule. If it weren’t for lunch, I would not have been able to fit them all into my jumbo-sized satchel. Add in the teacher who doesn’t release you right at the bell, and the traffic jam that always happens in corridor E between fifth and sixth periods, and tardiness is a real issue.

                  High school was hell.

                2. Callie

                  Noobtastic, you can blame the short passing time between classes on two things:

                  1. Overzealous administrators who want every single second of the day accounted for as INSTRUCTIONAL TIME, which is caused by legislators who demand down to the second that certain subjects get XXXX minutes of instructional time every day and allow no flexibility, and

                  2. The kids who vandalize the bathrooms and ruin it for everyone else; you can’t have a teacher or other adult standing in the bathroom at all times (because that would be a Waste of Taxpayer Dollars, among other things, and even if you did you couldn’t station someone IN THE STALL) so you can’t catch the vandals in the act, so limiting the times you can go to the bathroom is the only way to limit the vandalism.

                  It’s so, so stupid and ends up humilitating a lot of kids, but until other things change at the administrative level and above, I don’t know what to do to fix it.

        2. Antilles

          Policing their bathroom breaks makes if feel much more like their treating them like children.
          Frankly, I wouldn’t even say this…because even middle schoolers are usually given more latitude than this on “yes, we trust that you can manage your own bladder”.

          Reply
        3. Cary

          Totally. I’m an adult woman who had a fifty-five-hour labor, and yes, my pelvic floor is no longer what it once was. I’d have surgery, but I’m not sure if I’m done having children. How comfortable and productive does this boss think I’d be if I have to wait hours to use the bathroom? Not to mention the super fun first-trimester nausea and the subsequent need to vomit ever so often.

          Reply
      2. Cordelia Naismith

        I think the “we’re not children” remark was supposed to mean “adults can hold it without peeing their pants, even if it gets a little uncomfortable.” But, even so, that’s a ridiculous thing to say.

        Reply
        1. Cary

          Likely he meant what you said, but also not all adults can hold it until they get to a bathroom. Medical condition like Crohns, prolapses and Ulcerative Colitis mean that not matter how much you want to not mess yourself you just can’t. Also, it’s not just a little uncomfortable it’s very uncomfortable.

          Reply
        2. Noobtastic

          I can’t. I’m mid-forties, and have had to wear Depends for a few years, now. Because I physically cannot hold it. It’s not that it gets too uncomfortable. It’s that I reach a certain point, and BAM! It’s Puddle Time!

          I also have a very small window from when I get that first warning. Nerve damage will do that to you, know know.

          But I just don’t feel like I ought to have to tell this to my boss every time I need to take an unscheduled potty break.

          Reply
      3. Noobtastic

        Yeah, if anything, “We’re not children” means we are MORE likely to have more frequent bladder needs, because of having more opportunities for damage.

        Really, that whole directive is ableist. Severely ableist.

        I say, talk to HR, and point out all the various physical reasons why an adult may not be able to hold it that long, as well as the legal aspects of “short breaks have to be paid,” and tell them that if their lawyer OKd it, then they need to get a new lawyer. Not only is it NOT legal, but they are opening a can of worms for PR problems as well as possible EEOC issues.

        Reply
    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Companies like #2 deserve to be sued and sued repeatedly and frequently until they come into compliance. Not only are they violating federal labor laws and committing wage theft, but they’re violating OSHA’s workplace safety regulations and guidance. I remember reading this letter the first time, but it still makes my blood boil.

      Reply
      1. Karen D

        Yeah, I had the same reaction, and sorrow that there are companies out there with so little regard for the fundamental dignity and well-being of their employees.

        Reply
      2. LW #2 (Still Lurking After All This Time!)

        FYI: The company is TeleTech, they have been sued repeatedly and frequently, but there’s too much turnover in management for the lessons to take.

        They also have a policy of firing anyone who talks about them negatively on social media or the internet in general (the NLRA doesn’t apply to this, according to them, because… reasons?) but I don’t work there anymore and I’m never going back so what are they going to do. :D

        Reply
        1. Noobtastic

          I guess that means you can talk about them with impunity, because they can’t fire you?

          TeleTech. Weren’t they the ones with the dunce caps and public humiliation parties?

          Wow. No wonder there’s so much turn-over. The newbies don’t know and the experienced people have enough self-worth and dignity to get out ASAP.

          Reply
          1. LW #2 (Still Lurking After All This Time!)

            >>TeleTech. Weren’t they the ones with the dunce caps and public humiliation parties?

            Nooo. Google tells me that was a T-Mobile corporate call center, although they also did the stupid “clocking out for bathroom breaks” thing and the “punishing employees for not achieving unachievable metrics” thing, so I see how the one could be mistaken for the other.

            Reply
    3. Grabapple McGee

      I once worked for a boss who counted how many bathroom visits employees made and how long they spent in there (the bathroom doors were visible to his at his desk). He did this because he was convinced that employees were going into the bathroom to look at their cell phones, because he had a STRICT no cell phone while on the clock policy.

      I thought he was crazy.

      I don’t work there anymore.

      Reply
      1. NYSee

        I once worked in one department of a larger store and my manager hated letting us go to the bathroom. I’d wait and wait and try to make it to my next break, but almost one hour to the dot after having lunch, I’d need to go. I’d be at the bursting point and ask her and she’d look at the one customer in the department and say, “Can you wait? It’s busy in here.” She was a monster in many, many ways. The first employee who transferred out to the larger department stopped by at the end of his first shift out there and said, “Guys, I went to the bathroom twice today and didn’t have to ask anyone!”

        Reply
        1. WellRed

          The first employee who transferred out to the larger department stopped by at the end of his first shift out there and said, “Guys, I went to the bathroom twice today and didn’t have to ask anyone!”

          How…wonderful!

          Reply
          1. Becky

            This discussion along with your username reminds me of the scene in Shawshank Redemption near the end when Red is working as a bagger at a grocery store–he raises his hand to flag the manager and ask if he can use the restroom. The manager, obviously frustrated tells him yes he can go and you don’t have to ask!

            Reply
            1. rdb0924

              Years ago, my husband worked in a machine shop that instituted a policy requiring employees to ask permission to use the bathroom. (They had previously enacted a policy forbidding shop floor employees to talk to each other.) He’d worked there 25 years, and on the announcement of the policy at an all-hands meeting, he quit on the spot.

              Reply
          2. Noobtastic

            I’m not sure that’s quite the right adjective, but I’m stumped as to what would be the most appropriately descriptive term here.

            I mean, yeah, wonderful for him, but just… I can’t think of a word to describe the so much wrongness of that situation.

            If people are cheering about going to the bathroom after they leave you, you know your management style is lacking is something very fundamental.

            Reply
      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        How does he have time to do this? Seriously, if you’re a functional manager/supervisor, I cannot imagine having the time to actually pay attention to other people’s restroom habits (let alone time them!).

        Reply
      3. Mabel

        Before the days of mobile phones, I DID used to go into the restroom to get away from my job for a few minutes. I also peed, but it really was the need for a break. I haven’t had a job I disliked so much since then, thank goodness!

        Reply
        1. Noobtastic

          I once worked at a place where I used to go to the bathroom to warm my hands in my crotch, because otherwise, I couldn’t type. I also peed. Not at the same time.

          I think, the money they spend on unworked man-hours in the bathroom did not make up for the cost-savings of very little heating in the winter. Especially because they provided free hot chocolate, tea, and coffee (to boost productivity), but since it was the only way to keep warm, we drank A LOT, and went to the bathroom even more often.

          Reply
      4. designbot

        I used to work in a building with shared bathrooms for a whole floor of office suites, so we shared with several different companies. One of those was some sort of lab/testing company that didn’t allow personal calls at all, and the women there (I’m sure likely the men too, but women were who I encountered in the women’s room) certainly did go to the restroom to use their phones. They took calls about their kids, scheduled appointments, paid bills… all the things that adults have to do during certain hours of the day that can’t be put off. If you have a no cell phone/no personal call policy that it onerous to employees, they will absolutely use their bathroom breaks to work around it. That’s not a sign that they’re scamming you, that’s a sign that they’re trying to navigate their lives like we all need to.

        Reply
        1. Gadfly

          Although places like labs that is meant to protect patient privacy. Which I think should mean a lounge where it is okay. But not being able to in some places makes sense.

          Reply
          1. aebhel

            Yeah, my brother in law is a prison guard, and he’s not even allowed to have his cell phone in the building while he’s at work, on pain of immediate termination. But that’s a bit of an unusual case.

            Reply
            1. Bryce

              My friend works at a chem lab (… the legal kind) with similar zero-tolerance restrictions. They process trade secrets from other companies, so pretty much anything a phone can do is a big no-no.

              Reply
      5. hbc

        I’m nearly positive that we have employees who use the bathrooms to text and whatnot in the bathrooms and spend much longer in there than they need. We deal with that by having measurable outcomes and metrics for performance and addressing the performance issues rather than standing outside the bathroom with a stopwatch.

        Reply
      6. aebhel

        This was before I worked at my current job, but apparently there was a senior employee who would not only keep track of how often her clerical assistant took bathroom breaks, but would go in and see how much toilet paper she had used and then post this information publicly.

        This person doesn’t work there anymore, for obvious reasons, but it’s incredible to me how obnoxiously invasive some managers think they’re entitled to be.

        Reply
        1. Misclassified

          My old boss once said that we were using too many paper towels in the bathroom and that if we kept up at it she would force us to bring our own paper towels from home to use.

          Reply
    4. Tiny orchid

      I used to work for a place where I had to implement the policy that any bathroom breaks came out of the legally required 15-minute breaks. It sucked. Did the bosses really think they were getting those 5 minutes of productivity?

      Reply
        1. Tiny orchid

          When I started working for them, they had 24 employees. When I quit, they had 8. Everyone left was family or a childhood friend. They didn’t get their bathroom breaks timed, though.

          Reply
    1. NotAnotherManager!

      I really depends on context. I manage a highly specialized team that routinely puts together summaries and recommendations for key personnel to share with their clients, and they are rarely credited with being the authors of the work when it goes to the end client. There are a variety of reasons for this, and very few of them are nefarious or an intended slight. Given the challenges they sometimes have getting their recommendations taken seriously (technology in a non-technology world), to be forwarded to a client with minor edits is a pretty high compliment and means that the recommendation was good and conveyed in an easy-to-understand manner. We have actually trained them to write in a way that encourages this sort of thing (which we jokingly call “encouraged plagiarism”).

      Everyone on the internal team knows where the information came from, and the contributions are recognized internally and at review time.

      Reply
      1. Charisma

        Yeah, there is a difference. You should expect that when you are on team of people where everyone is working together for a common goal that the lead person / point person will present the sum of those efforts. However, unless people are oblivious or just don’t care, they usually know and understand that there IS a team of people behind that point person. Sometimes people’s roles on the team overlap a bit and who did what might get hazy, but unless you did something truly breakthrough that deserves some extra kudos, I really wouldn’t get worked up about it.
        I mean, as a senior graphic designer, who has overseen several junior designers, I can’t even count how many times I have given guidance on how to do something, direction on a concept, or delegated a hand-off of a nearly completed project to said junior colleagues only to see them then get credit on doing something “completely innovative”, “totally young and fresh”, “excellent work”. But being the adult in the room I just keep my mouth shut and let them enjoy their moment in the sun. I will also note that in all my years not one of them has ever spoken up and acknowledged that I helped them or that the work was actually mostly mine. I mean, they were getting credit for their fresh young ideas?

        Reply
    2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

      I really don’t think so. I’m very used to not being credited for my work, because I’m a contractor that supplies deliverables to a client, so I’m probably on the far end of the “okay with this” spectrum. But, that said, it goes without saying that a lot of individual ideas, research, planning and effort goes into any project. I think it’s a little problematic to expect personal credit to be parceled out unless your project includes a credit reel at the end, feel me?

      Reply
      1. designbot

        Also ‘not credited’ isn’t necessarily the same as ‘someone else is taking credit for.’ It sounds like the boss’s emails are like, hey, here’s this information you should all find useful. That’s different than, here is this thing that I created. The latter takes credit, the former does not.

        Reply
        1. MoinMoin

          Yes, agreed. And the OP is being CC’ed on the emails, so the boss is being pretty transparent in how the work is being presented.

          Reply
        2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

          Very good point; the tone does matter. If the boss is explicitly taking credit – like, “I wrote up this little summary of the issue and my proposed next steps, please review” – that rings a lot differently than “Please find attached for your review a summary of the issue and possible next steps.”

          In general, I think a professional should be okay with the latter, not the former – as you say, no credit is different than taking credit.

          Reply
          1. aebhel

            This is a good distinction to make. I actually did have a boss who would explicitly take credit for my work–present my ideas and work to the board as her own–and it actually became a problem when I tried to parlay that work into a raise. But that’s not the same as passing on general info without giving explicit credit.

            Reply
        3. Watermelon

          This is really great feedback. The reason I asked is because I recently had a few situations where I’d sit in my one-on-one meeting with my supervisor (who we’ll call John Snow) and have an in-depth discussion that included problem-solving and strategic idea generation. Said supervisor would then have their own one-on-one with the CEO the next day. Later that week, during our strategic planning meeting, the CEO would ask John Snow “Why don’t you tell the group the idea you had for ‘X’.” John Snow would then repeat the idea that we had generated in our initial one-on-one meeting, without correcting CEO that it was a collaborative effort. I was offended and annoyed, and wondered if I had overreacted with that emotion.

          Reply
          1. designbot

            If someone’s explicitly crediting them with it, it would be a kindness for them to offer thanks to contributors at that time. There is some room for different office cultures in that though; I’ve worked in some where if you did not thank everyone on the team you were seen in a bad light, and others where the supervisor/leader of the group was called out personally but everyone understood that they were just a figurehead and not the sole contributor. I wouldn’t be super offended in that environment either way, but I’d take a look around and see if other leaders handle things the same way or if this is that particular person being shortsighted. IT’s likely that all you can do is to make sure that when you’re in a position to offer credit to others you are generous with it, so that behavior is modeled for others who are paying attention the way you are now.

            Reply
            1. Chaordic One

              In the past, when I was in a clerical support role, my department kind of had a lot of basic tasks from various other departments were “dumped” on us. (Things that they really should have probably handled by themselves.)

              The Coffee Cup department always went out of their way to let us know that they recognized and appreciated our contributions to their projects, while the Tea Cup department never mentioned us at all (while profusely thanking the branch offices where tea cups ended up being distributed, which hurt). Such was life at Dysfunctional Teapots, Ltd.

              Reply
          2. Charisma

            Yeah, it might sting, but higher ups do that all the time. They tend to give the team leader the “overall” credit for a project/idea. It would have been nice of your supervisor to speak up instead of passively taking credit, but there could be a myriad of reasons that he didn’t, including that correcting your CEO in front of a room of people might be a major faux pas in your company.

            Reply
  2. Trout 'Waver

    In regards to #1: How to find who actually did the work on a multi-person e-mail: Look for the lowest ranked person cc’ed on it.

    Reply
        1. Probably the only fashion designer here

          Honestly, I’m surprised! I’ve lurked quite a while, especially on the salary-related posts, and thought I might be the only one. (:

          Reply
          1. Beverly Cleary Doesn't Live Here

            I’ve only recently come back to reading AAM regularly after realizing I might be thinking of looking for new opportunities soon. My current employer has been showing signs of rocky roads ahead. I forgot how therapeutic AAM can be, and how universal all of our woes actually are. (I had a different name originally but when I came back I saw someone else has been using it. Oh well, wasn’t original enough the first time around :-) Happy to see another fashion designer here. Our industry has it’s “unique” challenges.

            Reply
  3. Future Homesteader

    I’ve worked at one place where they tried to restrict our bathroom breaks – a daycare, where we had to legally have a certain ratio of adults to children at all times. One person (who had many, many other problems with attendance and general competence) was using the bathroom as an excuse to be gone for fifteen to thirty minutes at a time. Management’s response was to tell us all we could only go to the bathroom in once in the morning and once in the afternoon. It was demoralizing, to say the least. And what OP #1’s company is doing is so, so much worse. I can’t even imagine…

    Reply
    1. NotTheSecretary

      A perfect example of why managers should address the person abusing the policy instead punishing everyone else.

      I have a coworker who took 20+ minute smoke breaks every hour. Our manager decided to fix this problem by insisting we keep a very strict and to-the-second schedule of breaks. So if I was caught up in a project and my break time was approaching, he would demand I drop everything and go instead of delaying my break by a few minutes to reach a stopping point. The new policy didn’t do anything to fix the problem, Smoking Coworker just got sneakier. :/

      Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Exactly. There’s no reason to adopt stupid rules if the issue is one person’s performance. A direct conversation would have been much better.

        Sometimes bosses think they have to have a formal “rule” to justify why they’re having a conversation or disciplining someone. They don’t! The world would be completely inefficient if we tried to predict all the insane and stupid things people do and then make rules for those outlier situations.

        Reply
        1. LW #2 (Still Lurking After All This Time!)

          The company had an unofficial policy that they did have to have a “rule” for everything and they tended to penalize supervisors/managers who tried to manage employees as individual humans instead of as “a team” (insight: the HR department is called “Human Capital,” as in “employees are not just a resource to be exploited, they are capital to be spent”). Good times.

          Reply
          1. Noobtastic

            BWAAAHAHAHAHAHHAAAAAAA!

            They had an unofficial policy requiring making all policies official?!

            Can’t. Stop. Laughing.

            Reply
            1. LW #2 (Still Lurking After All This Time!)

              Yeah, it was usually more uncomfortable than funny.

              There was a guy who tried to light a woman’s hair on fire on the smoke deck as a joke (he had… let’s be diplomatic and say… “issues”) and HR said they couldn’t penalize him because there was no policy against that, so suggested she (the victim) just stay away from him in future? He was fired a couple weeks later for sexual harassment/inappropriate touching (same woman and multiple others, including me), because there was a written policy against that.

              Reply
        2. Noobtastic

          I hate it when someone put an official policy because of something someone did. It’s like those warnings on lawn-mowers not to use them as hedge trimmers, because someone was stupid enough to do that and then sued, “I lost my arm, because they didn’t tell me not to use the lawn mowers to trim my hedges!”

          And now you get people writing, “Please don’t steal our stuff” on their bathroom supplies. True story. Because people steal bathroom supplies. Somehow, I don’t think that someone who steals bathroom supplies is actually going to be deterred by reading a “please don’t take this” sign.

          Reply
      2. Erin

        To me a bathroom break isn’t really a break. I don’t like to hang out in public restrooms for fun. It’s necessary part of being human and takes 2-5 minutes, it’s a part of hiring humans.

        Reply
        1. NotTheSecretary

          Haha, I will admit that a coworker and I would joke about the bathroom being our “fort” to hide from customers at a retail store. To go to the bathroom, we had to walk through a chronically understaffed department where customers really, really needed help. It also happened to be a highly specialized department that most of us lacked training on and were pretty useless in. By the time you got to the bathroom, you really felt the need to hide out there for a bit.

          But, in general, no. Most people don’t want to hang out in the bathroom.

          Reply
  4. Kowalski! Options!

    #4 might be workplace-dependent. Here at the Ministry of Teapot Purchasing, job descriptions are typically included in online job ads, but if they aren’t, managers don’t mind sending you a copy if you request one.

    Reply
    1. Kowalski! Options!

      (…as in, the whole document is included in the online job ad. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.)

      Reply
    2. JGray

      I think you are right. It might be worth just asking if there are major differences between the job posting and the job description. Most employers that are EEO will say if you need an accomodation to call them. Where I work- the job posting and description are 99% the same. The only difference is that so that postings aren’t more than a page (where job descriptions can be longer) the recruitment coordinator takes out extra words such as and, is, the. The duties are all listed in a condensed list.

      Reply
    3. Ramona Flowers

      The whole job description was included with the advert for my current position – competencies, regular duties, all of it.

      Reply
  5. HisGirlFriday

    Our office manager, who is generally a nosy nelly, likes to comment on my liquid consumption and resulting elimination, which is none of her business in any capacity, but especially not given that I am a director, salaried, and exempt.

    She routinely says to me, ‘I only pee once a day, and look at you going all the time! That can’t be good for you.’

    She is currently hospitalized with dehydration from being sick and not having drunk enough liquids leading up to her illness and during it.

    Reply
    1. LSP

      I know it’s terrible of me, but I snorted out a laugh when I reached your last paragraph, because I was just thinking, “Wow, that lady must be seriously dehydrated.”

      Reply
      1. kittymommy

        Nope I did too. And I do only pee once at work, but I know I’m dehydrated (except for wine, that I’m good on).

        Reply
      2. JGray

        No it’s not terrible of you to have that reaction. I was also thinking that she must be a little nutty to think that drinking water isn’t good for you. How can it not be when we all are being given information all the time about how important water/hydration is good for you. One of my coworkers told me that she wasn’t as good as me when it came to drinking water and I told her that the only downside was that I had to pee a lot more than she did. We laughed about it because our office doesn’t care how many bathroom breaks you take. The only thing that we care about is that someone answers the phone so we do have to let each other know hey I’m going to the restroom but only so that the other will grab the phone.

        Reply
        1. Allison

          I think she meant going to the bathroom frequently is a sign that something is wrong with you. And it could be a symptom of something, like diabetes or pregnancy, so I can see her thought process there. But if someone noticed I was going a lot, it’s not their business! I could have the runs, or a really heavy period, or some other embarrassing thing going on.

          Reply
          1. Noobtastic

            Yeah, except her thought process is reversed.

            It’s like saying, “You have a bandage on your arm! That can’t be good for you!” as opposed to “You have a bleeding wound on your arm! That’ can’t be good for you!” or “You’re juggling chainsaws! That can’t be good for you!”

            Her thought process is like a fun-house mirror. Reversed and wobbly.

            Reply
    2. That Would Be a Good Band Name

      I had a manager that used to only go once per day (while at work, I can’t speak for at home!) and I could not figure out how that was possible. She didn’t give the rest of us much grief over bathroom breaks, but if she ever called and you weren’t at your desk, she would be agitated in the voice mail. It was like it did not occur to her that humans use the restroom.

      Reply
    3. LBK

      I know this is mean in the face of someone’s illness but I had to chuckle. That’s some pretty good comeuppance.

      Reply
    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Is it wrong that my first reaction to this anecdote was, “well hello, karma”?

      Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Also, who pees only once a day!? That’s really not normal, and it’s alarming that she thinks it is!

        Reply
        1. cheluzal

          Teachers.
          We have some of the highest rates of UTI’s, in fact. You have one planning period and can’t just walk out of class, so your body is trained to go during that break. Some people are off 1st (there is lunch though).

          I was promoted to a resource teacher (have an office, and not with conventional classes) and the first thing I exclaimed was how nice it was to pee whenever I wanted! I force myself to pee right away now, since I would only go once at work.

          But I’ve seen teachers literally march their class to the hall and wait while they went in the lounge. Imagine being pregnant or older or have an issue…you do what you can, lol.

          Reply
    5. gingerblue

      …I am trying to imagine the thought process that leads to an adult actually opening their mouth and letting that come out, and I legitimately cannot. If you haven’t told her off for this, you’re calmer person than I am, and I am not especially easy to work up.

      I mean. Don’t. comment. on. other. people’s. peeing habits?!?

      Reply
      1. HisGirlFriday

        It was so.much.worse when I was pregnant, because she then felt the need to comment on (a) how often I visited the restroom and (b) what I was eating and what those two things said about my pregnancy (perfectly healthy, despite her beliefs), my unborn baby (perfectly healthy, again despite her beliefs), my baby’s gender (unknown at the time, but she guessed boy and was wrong), and on and on and on.

        I haven’t told her off, mostly because I can just brush it off and accept that this is a stupid quirk of hers.

        However, the first year I worked here, it drove me nuts because — what grown-ass adult comments on another grown-ass adult’s restroom habits?!?

        Reply
        1. zora

          I definitely would have lost it on her if she was my coworker. I was hospitalized with a kidney issue last year, and after that my doctor’s orders were to stay extremely hydrated to try to get my kidney function back to normal. She would have gotten an earful from me! “Yeah, I’m going to the bathroom a lot, because I would like to NOT DIE. Do have anything else to say about that??” Ugh, some people.

          Reply
    6. tigerlily

      That’s so rude to say something like that to you!! I mean, I seem to have a bladder the size of a planet seeing as I refuse to use airplane bathrooms and once held it for an entire 11 hour flight to Europe, and I tease my sister for seeming like she has to pee about once an hour – people are built different! But to say something like that to a coworker? Honestly, to even NOTICE something like that about a coworker (unless it directly impacts you) seems weird to me.

      Reply
      1. LavaLamp

        Oh I’m not the only one who does that! I just can’t with airplane restrooms. What happens if theirs turbulence or an emergency? Granted my longest flight was about 4 hours.

        I suppose my work would say something if you spent ages in the restroom. But they don’t care as long as the work is getting done.

        Reply
        1. tigerlily

          I do have a coworker who seems to always need me to cover her classroom so she can pee at the worst possible times, so I do notice that. And so to me it feels like she’s always in the bathroom – but she’s really not, I’m just annoyed that the times she’s using it inconveniences me.

          We only have one bathroom where I work, so I guess I would notice if one person was in there for an extended amount of time – especially if I needed it! But even then, I certainly wouldn’t ask somebody about that unless there were other reasons to make me think something was wrong. And actually as I’m thinking about it, I might not even notice at all seeing as one of my coworkers got stuck in the bathroom the other day and we didn’t notice for a while.

          Reply
    7. Noobtastic

      She doesn’t really understand toxicity build-up and bladder infections, does she?

      Going all the time is not bad for you. Holding it for too long is.

      Going all day without peeing now and then, for a special (sewn into your hot pants costume) event is one thing. Doing it as a lifestyle is just really bad.

      Also, can you imagine how long it must take her to eliminate everything that one time? I’m imagining a thirty-minute pee session, and over-flowing toilet. Either that, or she has to flush several times during the event. Possibly both.

      But think how much she saves on toilet paper!

      Reply
  6. LBK

    #4 – I’m having trouble envisioning what would be different between a job posting and a job description, unless you’re looking somewhere more informal like Craigslist that might not provide as many details. The posts I’ve seen on LinkedIn, Indeed, etc are generally pretty thorough about what the job entails.

    Reply
    1. Dave

      The LW mentions that they have a disability. My interpretation is that they aren’t necessarily looking for a job description, but more likely the job responsibilities, so those things like being able to life X pounds, standing for long periods of time, etc.. I can see where a job description may not necessarily go to that level of detail.

      Reply
      1. Gadfly

        Especially as many companies include things in their ads that technically are illegal (like requiring people to lift x pounds when it really isn’t part of the duties of the job–in trying to cover all sorts of possibility they create jobs that are impossible for people with many disabilities to apply for. And since the only enforcement of such things is private individuals having to report the people they hope to work for, it usually doesn’t happen. the common work around is to try to get a better version of the job description–just like OP4 is doing here.)

        Reply
  7. Ulcerative Colitis

    As someone with UC, I’d be in deep doo-doo with that bathroom policy. (Pun absolutely intended.)

    Reply
    1. Mononymous

      Crohn’s here: maybe some tangible consequences for the boss to be stuck cleaning up (because I’d absolutely leave work immediately if forced to have an accident due to stupid rules) would make the boss see the light? :D

      Reply
        1. LW #2 (Still Lurking After All This Time!)

          Fun fact: That didn’t just happen, it was a suggestion from a supervisor to an employee. Since she didn’t have the FMLA paperwork filled out yet, any “extra breaks” would be “unapproved time” and any unapproved time would be disciplined (with the classic Verbal, First Written, Second Written, Final Written, Termed). She needed to keep the job to keep the insurance to pay for the pregnancy.

          Same suggestion was made whenever someone got norovirus (it’s been going around the building for at least 2 years—that glamorous call center life!) in a desperate bid to keep them at work for another hour or two. It’s humiliating for whoever has the desk-side trash can and it’s disgusting for anyone within earshot of the vom noises. Management gave no fucks, but management had offices with doors that close.

          Reply
          1. Noobtastic

            Oh. My. God.

            I used to work as a janitor. Not for very long, but long enough to know that THIS? This means war!

            Seriously, if I were on the janitor staff of that office, and I found out who was responsible for the “just vomit into the trash can by your desk” rule, I would empty ALL the trash cans onto that person’s desk. Every day. Even after they fired me. I’m sure I could get someone to let me in, somehow or other. There are all kinds of currencies for bribes and blackmail.

            I would hire my fully-employed friends to get short-term part-time jobs there, just so that they could let me in to dump those vomit-filled trash cans on that idiot’s desk. I would hire the Leverage team to hack their security system, just so that I could get some electronic skeleton key pass so that I could have permanent access.

            And if that didn’t work, I’d rig it up in a big tub in the ceiling, with a weight-activated switch under the chair, to dump it on his head when he sat down. Every single day. AND I would double-check every day that he didn’t move to a new office. If I had to, I’d come in early morning, get it all set up with the weight-activated switches under ALL the chairs, and then hide in the gap between ceiling panels and flooring for the next floor, and just scoot around to the day’s target. Or hire Parker with some nose plugs for that bit, because I am neither that small nor that agile.

            EVERY SINGLE DAY!

            Reply
          2. Noobtastic

            My original reply to this got eaten by the internet, so I’ll just post a heavily-edited version here.

            As someone who once worked in janitorial services, I would find out who came up with that rule, and dump the vomit-trash all over that person’s desk, every single day, even if it meant breaking into the facility after hours, after they fired me.

            Because this means war.

            Reply
        2. Nic

          This brought on a flashback! I had a coworker at OldJob who got sick every fall and would cough these really wet coughs incessantly for about the next six months. Sometimes she’d cough so hard she’d vomit, and she’d pick up her wastebasket and do it at her desk, then keep going.

          The smell, the sound. SO many people complained and nothing happened.

          Reply
  8. N

    OP1, it’s true that sometimes your boss will take credit for ideas that come from an employee or the rest of the team without directly saying that it came from you. That can be frustrating, but you also have to keep in mind that the manager is more or less the representative or spokesperson for your team. If you were to mess up or to make a mistake, in a lot of cases the manager is the one who takes responsibility for that as well.

    Reply
  9. Claudia M.

    #4, regarding the duty statements…

    It is actually VERY common and expected for an employer to provide a duty statement (beyond what is included in a job description) for state government positions. At least at a higher management level.

    A duty statement is supposed to be attached to our job postings (even at entry level), but sometimes is left off. So requests for them are considered normal.

    This might be something private vs. public sector that varies. Because during my time in retail (before my career with the state), I had never even heard of a duty statement.

    Reply
    1. Mae

      I also wondered with #4 was outside the US, after reading the comments here. I’m in the UK, and here it is fairly common (at least in my field) for employers to provide a more detailed job description to potential candidates on request. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to be asked for more detail by someone thinking of applying.

      Reply
  10. Gov Worker

    Re: bathroom breaks
    This employer must have never heard of prescription diuretics which some of us are must take for heart failure and other things. Frequent breaks the first few hours after taking are required. And no worker should be penalized for it. Cheep-cheep

    Reply
    1. Becky

      Yup and there are any number of medical issues that can lead to an individual needing to use the facilities more frequently or where “holding it” is not a good option. (And if you are regularly “holding it” you can end up with UTIs!)

      Reply
  11. phil

    RE: bosses taking credit
    I worked in a creative/technical profession for many years. Early in my career my boss would take the job from the client, give it to me, I’d do it and he’d hand it to the client while taking credit. Worse, published credits were part of the job and he was getting them. After 5 years I got fed up and quit but stayed at the studio as a freelancer.
    And took all the clients with me. Every single one.
    Very satisfying.

    Reply
      1. Gadfly

        It doesn’t help that a lot of them are not designed to allow for sharing credit. I designed an award winning ad once. My concept, my layout, my copy. the artist followed my instructions and pulled it all together and made it look good–he was very talented. But he got the award for it being innovative, that is is his portfolio, and I got nothing. Except my much lower hourly pay.

        Reply
    1. Charisma

      Sadly, most people don’t realize your true worth in the creative industry until you’re gone. It can be both satisfying and infuriating at the same time. I’ve given my fair share of ultimatums to former employers about how, sorry, I don’t work for you anymore so if you aren’t going to pay me as a freelancer I’m not about to swoop in and fix things for you “just because” after I’ve moved on.

      Reply
  12. Ramona Flowers

    Gosh, I give my boss that kind of input all the time and don’t see it as taking credit. It’s not like I’m producing original creative work, just passing on information.

    Reply
  13. Tau

    #5 – Different speech disorder, but maybe you can get some use out of my script anyway. I stutter, and when meeting people I like to lead with:

    “I have a speech disorder that’s usually pretty mild but acts up sometimes. Please let me know if you ever have trouble understanding me, I’m happy to repeat myself.”

    I’m basically trying to communicate that this is a bona fide disability, the glimpse you’re getting right now may be worse than it usually is, and I’m capable of dealing openly with it and the possible downsides. Not sure if it all comes through, but I’ve gotten only positive reactions to this script so far!

    In general, in my experience it’s important to say *something* if you can, simply in order to give people a frame of reference. If you don’t, they’ll try to come up with their own explanation and that not only distracts them from the actual conversation but may lead them to erronous and very negative conclusions about you.

    Reply
    1. Bookworm

      > Please let me know if you ever have trouble understanding me, I’m happy to repeat myself.

      That’s such a kind thing to say because often people feel guilty when they have trouble understanding someone. Especially if you’re working with someone on a lower level, they might be reluctant to ask you to repeat yourself and instead try to fill in the blanks themselves.

      Reply
      1. Kate

        Yes, this is so great! I have some minor hearing loss due to a medical condition, and even though I know it is no big deal, I hate having to ask someone to repeat themselves. If they have difficulty speaking or an accent or whatever I feel so guilty!

        Reply
  14. Gadfly

    Allison–On OP4, if you know anyone who specializes in working with helping people with disabilities get hired, please run your answer past them and see if they have additional advice. Because from my experience with the disability community, that is very problematic advice you just gave.

    Many people with disabilities have a problem with how jobs are described in ads. A lot of the boilerplate companies put in to cover everything technically is not legal, as it claims a lot of things that aren’t actually required for the job that would prevent most people from applying. The standard example is the “must be able to lift x pounds”. It almost never is actually necessary in most office jobs and is something which can be accommodated. But they throw it in the boilerplate and in doing so exclude many people with disabilities. Courts have agreed with this, but it rarely goes to court because it is only enforced by complaints by applicants. Which is not a good move, generally, on the applicants’ parts.

    The most common work around, poor as it is, it to try to get a better job description to figure out if things like that actually are a necessary job function or not.

    So, if OP4 can’t get a better job description, and the employer has an accidentally discriminatory job listing, and given that the interviewing process is usually a good deal more difficult for many people with disabilities than it is for their able-bodied peers, what advice are you giving here? Suck it up and apply and go to interviews until you are far enough along to be able to ask? And if OP4 is disclosing their disability early, they do have a need to show it is something that can be accommodated, something not true of able-bodied candidates–given that, is it so problematic to be asking for the information necessary to begin to do that?

    I know the position from the position of disability rights groups, but from the management side is it really worse to call and ask? If so, would they rather have campaigns to report problematic job listings? That has been on the back burners for a while–housing and medical have been more important– and the current job market for people with disabilities is pushing things like that forward.

    Reply
    1. Gadfly

      “A lot of the boilerplate companies put in to cover everything technically is not legal, as it claims a lot of things that aren’t actually required for the job that would prevent most people from applying.” should have been “A lot of the boilerplate companies put in to cover everything technically is not legal, as it claims a lot of things that aren’t actually required for the job that would prevent most people with disabilities from applying.”

      Reply
    2. misspiggy

      This is really useful information. I think Alison is saying apply and then ask – from your perspective what would be the problem with that?

      Reply
      1. Gadfly

        Advising that it wait until after initial screenings. Depending on the disability, it is frequently a lot more difficult to do things like go to strange buildings in random places (for example if the person uses a wheelchair and does not drive, most paratransit is inflexible and works for routine travel, not things that might run long. And if there is any problem, there is just no ride. And then if you are in a metro area you may be able to find an accessible taxi–not Uber or Lyft, for obvious reasons–but it will often be double or more the rate. And that is if you can find one. In Salt Lake City I believe there was only one vehicle as of a few years ago, and it would not pick you up unless you were in the city limits. So anywhere outside of that there were literally no accessible cabs and if that one was in the shop or busy you were SOL…) There are a lot of needless things that are annoyances for more able bodied people that can be large roadblocks. Waiting until after initial screenings potentially means a lot more effort for some people than others. And when it has been a waste of everyone’s time because it really has essential functions that can’t be adapted? That is heartbreaking(and as explained above, potentially very expensive for a community that tends to have less disposable cash than most.) Especially when you belong to a community with over 70% unemployment including many people who are very highly educated because schools are accommodating–I know so many people with PHD’s who can’t get jobs in part because they can’t get past this first step of what are the ACTUAL job requirements. Many people with disabilities are not unemployed by choice.

        Reply
  15. Jess

    The reply for #4 seems off-base to me. Maybe it’s different in other countries or job markets, but it is perfectly normal to have requests for a position description here. (Indeed, when I post a job ad I end by saying “For more information or a copy of the job description, contact…..)

    I’m used to seeing job ads that have a summary of the company and position, with a bullet list of duties/requirements. The PD would go into more detail about ALL the duties, KPIs etc.

    Reply
  16. MommyMD

    The bathroom break policy probably falls under a few ruin it for everyone. Better to call out the few who knowingly abuse “bathroom” breaks than punish everyone.

    Reply
    1. cheluzal

      Doesn’t it always seem like that common sense approach is ignored?
      My job posts all-inclusive messages on the internal system, and those of us who are innocent worry we’re doing something wrong, and the actual offenders don’t realize management is talking about them! LOL

      It seems the most boorish go around happy-go-lucky with nary a care.

      Reply
  17. MommyMD

    Dear Boss: I’m clocking out for a three-minute number one but I did have a pastrami sandwich for lunch so it may be an eight-minute number two. I’ll keep you apprised.

    Reply
  18. Contrarian Annie

    #1 (Boss taking credit for my work): Reading between the lines, it seems that OP feels uncertain or insecure in that the new boss doesn’t actually have the knowledge, expertise or institutional ‘memory’ that’s required to actually get things done, and that “silently” passing the requested information to the boss who then exposes it to the person asking, undermines the security of the OPs position as the one with the knowledge.

    OP #1 – Does it feel like a situation where you are now in ‘competition’ with the new boss after the re-org, and if so why?

    Reply
  19. boop the first

    2. This sounds like a rule my Oldjob would have made. Although I am a type who has to pee pretty much all the time (anxiety), I wouldn’t have worried too much because the rule is harder on the company than on the staff, due to the work involved.

    If everyone got them to strictly enforce it, the rule would be gone so fast… First off, bathroom breaks don’t take 5 minutes. Maybe two minutes. If every staff person claimed a bathroom break every hour, of different lengths of time (1 minute here, 2.33 mins there…*snort*), and if there were as few as 10 employees that’s 80+ different bits of time to be edited for every single day! Personally I would gladly sacrifice 15 mins of pay to “scrupulously follow” this new rule. If you can’t beat em, make them have horrible horrible regrets.

    At Oldjob, they didn’t trust us with lunch breaks, so they made a new rule where we had to clock out for break (printing a morning slip), then clock back in after lunch (printing afternoon slip, thus creating two time slips instead of one). It turned out that I was the only one following this rule, and after a couple of weeks my managers came to me “…Why are you printing two slips for each day? it’s very confusing!” to which I replied “umm… because you made me sign a form stating that I would do that?” They had to do more work, thus new rule was quickly retired.

    Reply
    1. LW #2 (Still Lurking After All This Time!)

      It was a big call center. Just walking to the bathroom took at least 1 minute, another to get back, add wait time if the stalls were occupied (they usually were), washing your hands (even more necessary there than usual because norovirus), god help you if you weren’t sitting right next to the timeclock because that walk added time too.

      The problem with trying to make the policy inconvenient for management is it still wouldn’t create any extra work for the people who made the policy. Our team leads weren’t assholes, they were mostly on our side, but upper management made the policy and expected team leads to carry it out. Many of the team leads didn’t bother enforcing the unpaid part, but all employees still had to clock out for the breaks or upper management would get involved (they wrote up a team lead who had told her team not to bother clocking out because it wasted time since she wasn’t editing the time stamps anyway).

      Interesting thing was upper management was kind of using your strategy to make it difficult to screw around on extra breaks and make it visible when people were doing that—except a lot of people legitimately had to use the bathroom outside of the schedule that was set for them (frex: I can’t wait three hours after lunch to pee, but that’s when the scheduling robots usually said my next break was!). I do not miss that place. :)

      Reply
  20. Green Goose

    #3 – I really agree with Alison’s advice about discussing your flexible schedule before your current boss leaves and having something in writing would be beneficial. We had a re-org about eight months ago and there were a lot of issues about your same question. “Fergus” was a very lenient and flexible boss who let his employees work remotely way more often than company norm for years. The new bosses expected people to be at the office 9-5 and there were no discussions about how that would impact the workers who had been able to work mostly remotely for years. After the re-org Fergus’ employees were very unhappy to be expected to have a new and strict work-location policy and after years of working in a flexible environment two of them left.

    Reply

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