I’m in trouble for forwarding emails, did job candidate really do the work she claims, and more

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

1. My boss chastised me for forwarding some of her emails

My boss is in the habit of sending emails that fall in the category of “asking me to ask someone else to do something/a question/etc.” I am perfectly fine with this as I understand my job is to carry out what she asks and I am often a liaison for her on matters at my location or with certain departments.

In the past (at other companies/jobs too) I have often forwarded requests with my summary of the request in my message. My reasoning is to leave the forwarding chain below just in case the recipient of my message wants to understand context/doesn’t get my request or my request carries more weight if the recipient can see that my superiors are asking for whatever it is.

The problem is, my current boss has chastised me for doing this, because a couple of times she has, far down in the email chain, said something she is embarrassed about or talked about someone. I hadn’t thought of this because her comments weren’t explicitly bad but just might be interpreted as a little unprofessional. I was wondering is it bad form always to keep a chain below my summary? Or is it a situation where I just need to comply with her desire to have nothing forwarded because she doesn’t do what I do, which is basically don’t email anything you don’t want a colleague seeing?

Well, at a minimum you need to comply with this because she’s your boss and she’s told you to.

But beyond that, yes, her position is reasonable. Sure, in theory you should never put anything in an email that you don’t want the world to see, but in reality many people talk more causally and candidly in emails to their team than they might to someone else, or they use shorthand that they might not use more widely (and which might sound bad without more context, etc.).

It’s considered common courtesy not to forward someone’s words along when they clearly weren’t meant for others to see. (The “don’t email anything you don’t want the world to see” means that your boss wouldn’t be absolved of responsibility if the email did make its way to someone she didn’t want to see it, but she’d still be entitled to be annoyed with you for forwarding it.)

There are times when it’s helpful to forward along the previous email chain as context for a request, but if you’re doing that, you really need to review the entire chain and just include the parts that are clearly okay to share.

2. Did this candidate really work on the project she claims?

Someone has applied for a position in my department, who I will interview today. In looking at their LinkedIn profile, they claim to have worked on a project with which I am intimately familiar (at a previous company), and I don’t recall their involvement. Should I interview this person, or should I point out the inconsistency to the hiring manager, or contact HR, or …? There is a possibility that I simply do not remember the person, so should I reach out to people at the previous company and ask whether they remember this person?

Start by asking the person about it when you interview her. Ask about her role and the work she did and see what she says. If it sounds off to you, then yeah, at that point I’d reach out your former colleagues to see if you can verify what the candidate is telling you — but it’ll be more effective to do that once you know exactly what she’s saying she did.

It’s also okay to be up-front with the candidate that you’re familiar with the project and explain whatever your own involvement was. Not in a “gotcha” way, but in the normal way you’d do it if it you didn’t have any suspicions. That may or may not lead to any further light being shed on the situation, but it can make it more likely.

3. I went part-time but my boss acts like I’m still full-time

I recently went back to school, but was able to become a contractor at my company where I had previously been salaried. I felt lucky to have this arrangement, considering that I am pursuing a degree completely outside of the field I had been working in professionally.

However, I’m having a difficult time setting boundaries with my boss about when I am offline and at school and when I’m not. She will frequently send me emails when I’m in class and expect an immediate response or assign me large projects despite the fact that I’m only in the office two or three days a week. At time it feels like I’m doing the exact same job I was before I started grad school, just with less time to get everything done. Because I am now an hourly contractor, I appreciate the work, but it is making it difficult to focus on my school work, which I feel like should be my priority. I think if I had come on only as a contractor and had not been working for my boss before, I would have an easier time communicating that I can only take on X projects or waiting to answer email until I am back on the clock. I have repeatedly sent emails reminding my team of my schedule, but to no avail. Can you think of a way I can respectfully communicate to my boss that I really am a part-time contractor now?

Stop sending emails to your team and call your boss and talk to her about this. Say this: “I’ve noticed that I’m getting emails that need an immediate response, and that I’m still being assigned the type of large projects that I did before I went part-time. I want to make sure that you’re not counting on me for things I’m no longer able to do. In general, I can promise to respond within two days but not always sooner, and I can do up to X hours of work a week but not more. I need to start being really disciplined about sticking to that, and since it will be a change from before, I want to make sure that it will work with what you need.”

If she says that’s fine, then start sticking to it. If you’re assigned a project that’s too large for the hours you work, point that out immediately: “I’m only working X hours/week now, which means I wouldn’t have this finished until October 30. Will that work or should someone else take this on?” Or, ““I’m only working X hours/week now, so I can’t meet that deadline and it should probably be assigned to someone full-time.” And when you get emails outside of your hours, don’t answer them immediately; if you do, you’re training people to assume that you will. Instead, wait until it’s convenient and then include a line like “Just to remind you, I no longer see this stuff immediately; I only look at these emails during (hours).”

Give that a few weeks and see if it changes anything. If not, it’s time for a more serious conversation with your boss: “This is continuing to happen, and I want to talk about whether this arrangement makes sense, given the limits on my time now.” (Of course, you’d want to be prepared for her to conclude the answer is no, so make sure that’s an outcome you’re willing to risk.)

4. I ran out of paid time off — can I still take my upcoming vacation?

My employer approved my vacation a few months ago, and now says I can’t take it because I ran out of paid time off. I don’t mind taking the time with no pay. Can he take back the approval?

Yes. Legally, he could take it back even if you still had vacation time left, although that would be crappy to do. But generally you’re expected to manage your own stock of paid time off, and if you have a scheduled vacation coming up, you’re supposed to ensure that you have enough accrued time to do it. Some employers will let you take unpaid time if you need it, some will allow it only in case of emergency, and some won’t allow it at all. But in general, the amount of paid time off your employer gives you means “we expect you to be at work minus the X number of weeks of vacation we give you each year.” Once you use those X weeks, you’re not expected to take more.

Now, if you used up all your PTO on something unavoidable like an emergency or sickness, a considerate employer might try to work something out with you so you could still go on the vacation (generally either letting you take the time unpaid or giving you an advance on future PTO). But they’re not obligated to do that, and they’re especially unlikely to do it if you used up your PTO on more optional things.

5. Bringing a service dog to a job interview

I’m disabled and have been out of work for five years. I’m currently combing your archives to brush up my resume since I’m able to work again, but I have a question.

I have a service dog (trained to assist with both my mental illness and my physical disabilities). If I’m lucky enough to get an interview, should I mention him beforehand? If so, how should I phrase it? I don’t want to ask if it’s okay to bring him — legally he’s allowed. But neither do I want to startle someone who may be uncomfortable around large dogs. Also how do I handle addressing my disability? Obviously not disclosing it isn’t going to work. I plan on targeting my job search to jobs where my service dog is the only accommodation I need.

I plan to groom my dog within an inch of his hairy life and clean and polish his gear so he looks like the professional he is, but beyond that I’m really nervous about how to go about finding a job while so very visibly disabled, and any advice is welcome.

Yes, mention it in advance — not only in case someone is startled around large dogs, but also in case your interviewer is allergic. (In both cases, they should find a way to work around the situation, but advance notice is going to make that a lot easier.)

Usually being very matter-of-fact is the best way to handle this kind of thing, since it makes people more likely to respond that way themselves. When you’re setting up the time for the interview, I’d just say, “By the way, I have a service dog who will accompany me.” If you’re willing to disclose a little bit more, you could say something like, “By the way, I have a neurological condition that requires a service dog, and wanted to let you know ahead of time that he’ll be accompanying me.”

{ 349 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Kathlynn

    LW3, make sure you are familiar with your countries laws about contractors vs a regular/part time employee. If you are from the US, this site does have a lot of other good advice.

    Reply
  2. Ann Furthermore

    #4: My last completely would technically let you go 40 hours over your accrued PTO, because payroll was a week or 2 in arrears. If you happened to leave before getting back to zero hours, whatever you still owed was withheld from your last paycheck. It was an informal arrangement though. You might ask your boss or read through the PTO policy to see if something like that is available.

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      I don’t think asking your boss to read through the policy is a great idea. You might read it yourself and check whether this is covered, but telling your boss to do so when they’ve said no will potentially come across really badly.

      Reply
    2. Mallory Janis Ian

      I’m at a public university, so the rules are probably stricter than in private industry, but it is very much frowned upon to go into “leave without pay” status. They wouldn’t let you do it voluntarily without some sort of unavoidable circumstance involving illness or family emergency.

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      1. Manders

        It’s a bit more complicated in for-profit companies, especially ones that combine sick leave and PTO in one bucket and only give 1 or 2 weeks for everything. For years I didn’t have enough PTO to actually cover both a normal amount of illnesses and a weeklong vacation, so if I had to plan a vacation months in advance I’d do so knowing that some of the days might be unpaid if I ended up getting ill and burning through my PTO stockpile.

        If OP is working with a similar system, I totally get why they would assume that unpaid time off is expected.

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        1. Anonymity

          At my company, in that scenario, I think you’d be cutting the vacation short or rescheduling it unless you clear it with your boss AND can afford to be unpaid for those days.

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    3. Elizabeth West

      My last would let you go in the hole up to 40 hours–paid. BUT, your accrual after that went to pay the debt, so to speak, and you couldn’t take any more paid time off until you were back in the black. Then you would start accruing paid time that you could actually take.

      If you had to take a day off while you were paying back, like if you got unavoidably ill, you could take it but it would be unpaid. I liked this arrangement because I got to take a longer holiday than I would have ordinarily. I thought the payback period was fair.

      Reply
  3. Ramona Flowers

    #1 As well as the issue of what comments are left in, long chains are frustrating for the recipient as getting one implies you need to read it.

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    1. Ruth

      My least favourite is what I call the “inception email”: Please refer to the attached email, which has documents attached as well as another email, which has attachments including two emails, ad infinitum.

      Second is “please refer to the below”, with no further explanation. “The below” is inevitably a chain that takes 15 minutes to decipher the meaning of.

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        1. Mookie

          Or “please advise.” Nooooooo. And there’s never any explicit confusion or question at hand. Just… low-key ‘read this thirty-response “Pardon Me While I Have a Strange Interlude” nightmare and give me a précis if you think it’s worth my time.’ My mother used to do this to me with long, copy-pasted usenet ramblings like she was paying me for the privilege (she was not).

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          1. Sloane Kittering

            Blergh I get this at work ALL THE TIME. The point is that now they can say I saw it, meaning if there was something wrong anywhere in there I was supposed to catch it, I guess. It’s a total CYA for them and a PITA for me.

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            1. Koko

              I would be very pointed and about emailing back and saying, “Can you clarify your question? It’s not clear which part of this you’re looking for input on,” or similar.

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              1. Koko

                (It’s the old, people will keep doing whatever they want unless they meet resistance. They’ll keep sending you emails like that as long as it keeps getting the outcome they want, so you need to make the outcome be that the email gets consistently bounced back to them asking for clarity.)

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                1. Sloane Kittering

                  Haha well as above, the note is usually “FYI.” They want me to be aware of … the entire conversation, who was involved, all the factors that were considered, and the decision, in case there’s a fallacy anywhere in any of that. Sigh.

      1. the gold digger

        Our external legal counsel writes horrible emails. Here is a (sanitized) recent one:

        Subject: Privileged and Confidential; Trademark Application No. xxxxxxxxxxxx in Canada; Trademark: ‘(TRADEMARK)’ in classes xx, yy, zz, 20; Applicant: (my company); Our Ref.: xxxxxxAA

        In the body of the email, the paralegal will say merely, “See attached document.”

        All I want to know is

        1. the trademark name (in subject, so fine)
        2. the country we’re talking about (also in subject, so also find)
        3. whether it’s been approved or not (I don’t know unless I open the attachment)
        4. are there any issues we need to address on our end (I don’t know unless I open the attachment)

        Why can’t the paralegal just give me a summary of the attachment in the email?

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      2. Lady Blerd

        Those kinds of emails are common where I work so I am used to it. And I am guilty of just writing: “please respond to the previous email”. Otherwise I annotate the chain before passing it along because it usually serves to keep track of a decision making process.

        I do cringe when I see language in an email chain the suggests the correspondants didn’t consider the possibility of the conversation being read by outsiders I consider that to be their issue.

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      3. Matilda Jefferies

        “Inception email.” Brilliant. I didn’t know I needed this phrase until just this minute, but now I’m going to be using it all the time!

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    2. CoffeeLover

      I always delete the chain when forwarding emails. It’s a few seconds of work, makes everything clear and avoids sending things I shouldn’t.

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        1. Specialk9

          Exactly. I think initially I felt like it was somehow wrong to delete part of the forward, like I was falsifying records. But then I realized that it is about managing information for busy people. I am responsible for presenting information that can be understood quickly, when making a request for action. So I provide a short clear summary, with actions/deadlines in bold italics, and edit down any email chain to the minimum, and take out anything that shouldn’t be passed on.

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          1. MegaMoose, Esq.

            As someone who reviews emails for lawsuits, I can assure you that you aren’t falsifying anything – we’re going to look at every dang version of that email, plus drafts if we’re unlucky. Digital is (almost) forever.

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        2. LBK

          You can, but I think it looks weird and almost suspicious to anyone like me who always reads through the full chain when he gets an email forward like that. If you’re gonna take off a chain I’d say just do the whole thing, don’t pick and choose pieces that will leave obvious and questionable gaps in the correspondence.

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          1. irritable vowel

            I think it’s fine to put in an indicator like “” to show that you’ve removed parts of the original e-mail(s) that were irrelevant or inappropriate to forward.

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            1. irritable vowel

              (What’s between the quotation marks there is “snip” – I put it in angled brackets but the commenting system stripped it out, thinking it was HTML.)

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      1. Specialk9

        I will keep email string especially when a group in corporate has dropped the ball repeatedly, or there’s been staff turnover. My email is friendly and upbeat, cuz you *don’t* piss off people you need, but the string will show that my initial request was X long ago with X follow-ups. Or if there has been staff changeover and I don’t think they kept good records – here’s what the request is, here’s what happened to date, here’s the current request.

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      2. Koko

        I do the same. It’s my practice of the Golden Rule: edit and summarize email threads for others as you would have them edit and summarize email threads for you!

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      3. Elizabeth West

        Except don’t delete everything if you’re going to refer to something in the deleted material! I had a coworker who would do that and then I would have to ask her, “What do you mean by teapot glaze #36?” Then she would send me a completely separate email and refer to something else that wasn’t in it, and the whole thing would start all over. Errrrghhhh.

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      4. Elizabeth H.

        Yes! You always delete the chain! Unless it’s like “please see below email chain” and the whole thing is relevant, of course.
        My supervisor actually often forgets or chooses not to delete the chain in a way that I’d feel embarrassed/unprofessional about if I were her. Like where someone sends us a difficult or sensitive question, I email it to her and am like “can you field this one – the factors for responding to it are x, y, and z” and then she will just reply to my email but send it to the original question asker and cc me. I’m like ‘oh no!’ when that happens. Or like when she and I are talking about options via email and then after we come to a decision she just adds the person involved and writes a message.

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    3. ceiswyn

      Although I often find those long chains exceptionally useful. There’s a tendency for bosses to skim read emails, register a couple of key words, and assign me a task based on a misunderstanding of those. If I can see the context, I can point out when the work I’ve been asked to do doesn’t actually address the issue that’s been raised!

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      1. Antilles

        Eh, I kinda take the boss’ side here: The reason they skim emails is because they get like, dozens of them every day. If there’s a 10-email long chain, you shouldn’t be expecting your boss to read every word of the chain. Instead, your email to the boss should either summarize the conversation and/or point him to the specific email you want him to read (e.g., we need to update the price on the Alpha Project to address the new requirements Johnny brought up in his email below).

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        1. Morning Glory

          I think you misunderstood ceiswyn – she was saying that she likes to have the threads to read for her own context. Not that she was forwarding threads, expecting her boss to read them.

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        2. Trout 'Waver

          I think e-mails that go up should cut or provide a summary. E-mails that flow downward should have the full chain for context, since it’s going in the direction of the person who’s going to do the work. E-mails that go out should be fresh drafts and not forwards or replies.

          That’s just my two cents.

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        3. ceiswyn

          Morning Glory is correct; I’m not sending these emails, they’re being forwarded to me. By someone who misunderstood them and is asking me to do something not relevant as a result.

          If all I got was the task and summary, without the rest of the chain, I would end up doing the wrong thing and failing to resolve the actual issue.

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      2. Koko

        I actually think a boss’s tendency to skim is an argument in favor of editing the email – it reduces how much they have to read and improves the signal:noise ratio if you’ve carefully edited out most of the noise and just left easy-to-skim signals in place. Ideally with highlighting that you apply to the most important part(s), and your note at the top saying, “Your advice needed on the highlighted question below,” to direct them to exactly what you want them to skim for.

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        1. ceiswyn

          And that is why a) when I’m sending emails to bosses I do exactly that and b) when bosses are sending me emails I WANT THEM TO SEND ME THE ENTIRE CHAIN.

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      3. Emilia Bedelia

        I agree! I get forwarded a lot of questions from people who aren’t really familiar with the specifics of what I’m doing, and a lot of the time, my answer to their questions depends on the details of the situation. So many times, I’ve read down the chain to discover that the whole discussion was the result of a misunderstanding about 4 people back in the email chain. I get annoyed when people email me separately with what their interpretation of the question is, when it turns out that their misunderstanding of the terminology and concepts has obscured the actual problem so much that I can’t accurately respond. I usually end up asking them to just forward the whole email chain anyway.

        I like the suggestion that chains should flow downward, not upward.

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    4. a Gen X manager

      OP1’s word choices feel heavy on judgment and/or resentment, which isn’t the question’s focus, but I think might be a key part of the problem. The word “comply” really jumps off the screen.

      The other part that really gave me pause was, “I hadn’t thought of this because her comments weren’t explicitly bad but just might be interpreted as a little unprofessional.” OP states that their job is to serve as a liaison between departments for the boss, but OP KNEW there was questionable content and sent it anyway? It gives a feeling of pettiness or vindictiveness on OP’s part, instead of the proper care and due diligence that is required (and expected) of someone in that kind of support role. It feels like game-playing instead of looking out for what is best for the company, which is to protect and best serve the boss (in this case).

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      1. Delphine

        Perhaps she considered her boss’s point afterwards and realized that the comments might be interpreted unprofessionally.

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        1. Question 1 OP

          Delphine, this was definitely the case. I hadn’t even considered her wording as something to be interpreted badly until she expressed that she was embarrassed by it.

          However, GenX manager, your point is well taken that my resentment at not agreeing with the requests my boss is asking me to carry to others in other departments comes through. I don’t think I even realized that that is kind of at the root of why I feel like I need others to see the backstory of her requests (the whole “not MY idea” kind of cop-out). Definitely appreciate your perspective and I am going to take this as an opportunity to reflect on that attitude. Thanks!

          Reply
      2. Sloane Kittering

        Yeah I think this is something that is not intuitive but is part of professional life and good for the OP to learn. If you are supporting a higher-up, they will be very grateful if you take every opportunity to make them look better / keep them out of trouble. Not forwarding overly-casual emails verbatim is one example. It’s an easy nuance to miss when you’re new though – I’m pretty sure I used to do it until someone mentioned it to me. I thought I was being conscientious but I should have been proactive about it. And it’s easy to blame the boss for writing something overly casual, but … that just happens sometimes, I find. People are naturally going to use a different tone with different audiences.

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        1. Koko

          Right, if OP is new she might have just thought, “Oh, boss is slightly unprofessional sometimes, that’s just her work style and it clearly hasn’t stopped her from getting where she is,” and not really noticed the finer distinction that boss is only “slightly unprofessional” in particular contexts, like with her own team where it’s more relaxed. She assumes boss talks to everyone the way boss talks to her and doesn’t think she’s revealing anything untoward by forwarding that along.

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  4. Ramona Flowers

    #3 Alison mentioned not answering emails on your off hours. What about setting an auto-reply? We have quite a few part-timers and they set an out of office reply on days they don’t work, which works well in terms of managing expectations.

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    1. NewHerePleaseBeNice

      Agreed. I work for two different organisations at present and I have ‘out of office’ type replies on my emails that inform the sender I’m not back in until Thursday or whatever. My email auto signature also states ‘my working hours are….’

      Reply
    2. Evergreen

      I think it depends on the type of work you do, how urgent it is, and whether you often work with different people who wouldn’t necessarily know your schedule.

      Nothing bugs me more than getting an out of office from my junior engineer telling me they’re out for the (single) day – that’s just spam in my inbox: the only three people who email you know you don’t work Thursdays.

      See also: turn out of office off by the middle of the day before you get back – I wouldn’t expect a response today even if you were here!

      (But yeah, otherwise it’s a good idea if you do work on urgent things for a large number of people)

      Reply
      1. SomeoneLikeAnon

        My personal pet peeve is people using out of office after when they leave work for the day; like a normal M-F 8-5 schedule. “I have left the office, I will return tomorrow morning at 7:30 am. I will respond to your email then.” GAAAAHH.

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        1. ByLetters

          I use these, actually — but while I have a M-F 9-5 schedule, I work in a 24 hour industry and my contact info is often handed out to new clients. So it’s useful to be able to say ‘look, if you need this before 9 tomorrow morning, you’re going to have to contact one of these people and not send me six emails and leave me a dozen increasingly angry voicemails.’

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        2. Ramona Flowers

          Whereas when I worked in newsrooms I would happily have throttled reporters in other locations who gave no indication as to whether they’d fecked off for the day.

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      2. Specialk9

        Really, that bugs you? I don’t even register OOO messages, except to mark them read, or if I’m on a deadline to find who to contact instead.

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      3. neverjaunty

        Though, honestly, sometimes one of those three people has forgotten it’s Thursday and is wondering why you didn’t reply. I, uh, have read about such people.

        That said, an autoreply should only go out one time per day.

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      4. Koko

        YMMV, of course. In my line of work I frequently receive emails that need a same-day response, where ideally it’s a same-hour response. I always set my autoreply to run until 10 AM the day that I come back, because it’s going to take me til lunchtime just to sort through and triage the email backlog and I don’t want someone who emailed me at 8 AM that morning to be totally oblivious to the fact that I was out for the past two weeks and sit around all morning wondering why I’m not answering their “quick question.” Instead they get the autoreply and they see that I’m back today but they understand I may not be as on top of my email as I normally am since it’s my first day back.

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      5. Garland Not Andrews

        If you use MS Outlook, it has an date delimited feature for out of office replies. This way you don’t have to remember to turn it off!

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        1. Perse's Mom

          It also tells you if you’re currently sending auto-replies, and if someone you’re about to email will be sending one (assuming they’re on the same internal network), which is a very useful flag – then I know if I have to send it to Sue instead because it needs to be looked at today and Bob’s out for two days.

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          1. OhNo

            I generally hate Outlook (I find it clunky), but that feature is a bona fide miracle. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve typed out an email, entered in the addressee, then gone back to change my request/wording/cc to account for the fact that my coworker has an out-of-office message on. So very helpful!

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    3. Infinity Anon

      I think it really depends on what the standard is in your industry or workplace. If people expect immediate responses, an auto-reply is helpful to let them know to adjust that expectation. If waiting a day or two is normal, an auto-reply is really only appropriate for more extended absences.

      Reply
    4. MeowThai

      Agreed. If OP3 uses Gmail, there’s now the capability of “Pausing” your inbox with the option of turning on an auto-reply. I’ve used it a couple of times with out auto-reply and it is awesome when I’m trying to get things done.

      Reply
  5. Uncivil Engineer

    #1: If your boss wanted the final recipient to see her email, she would have just included them in her original email instead of asking you to email them. She didn’t want that. She wanted you to clean it up before anyone else saw it.

    It drives me crazy when my staff does this. My email to them is full of abbreviations and half thoughts. We just talked about it 10 minutes ago so my staff knows what I’m referring to but it is mostly gibberish to the person I asked them to email. I don’t have time to draft an eloquent email, I’m probably typing on my phone, and my phone isn’t necessarily showing me the whole email chain. That’s why I asked someone else to do it.

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    1. TL -

      It does sound like the OP is writing a nice summarized email on top; she’s just also including the forwarded chain of emails as well.

      Reply
    2. C Average

      In my experience (and I’ve been in the position of both the LW and the manager), forwarding the whole email chain is a CYA tactic. It’s generally applied in the following situations:

      –the forwarder doesn’t buy into the manager’s request or believes the recipient won’t buy into the manager’s request, and is trying to convey, “Hey, none of this was MY idea.”

      (Solution: Choose and fight your battles with your manager directly, and adopt a disagree-and-commit strategy for the battles you forego or lose. And having done that, strive to present a united front with your manager. It’s a better professional look. Besides, in most offices, most disagreements boil down to turf wars and ego matches. Not too many hills truly worth dying on.)

      –the forwarder is accustomed to getting a lot of follow-up questions and/or pushback and is trying to pre-empt a big old back-and-forth by including every possible relevant detail up front.

      (Solution: Write a concise but thorough summary. Accept that a certain amount of email back-and-forth is part of your job. If the back-and-forth gets out of hand, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or call a brief meeting to achieve clarity.)

      –the forwarder doesn’t understand the manager’s email well enough to faithfully convey its essence to someone else, but doesn’t want to look dumb by admitting she’s flummoxed.

      (Solution: Admit you’re flummoxed. Ask for a better explanation. Don’t kick the “WTF does this even MEAN?!!” email down the road to another unlucky sap.

      These are all problems worth addressing. The forwarding, aside from annoying your boss, prevents you from addressing the true issues around how you (not just YOU, but all y’all) communicate.

      Reply
      1. Mookie

        That’s exactly it — poor communication habits + laziness + ass-covering blanket disavowal — and these are great solutions. The manager needs to be probed for what she’s looking for / needs, because divining it’ll be tricky; there are myriad reasons why people get other people to forward correspondence, and part of that is going to be trimming, editing, abridging, censoring, reading for clarity and comprehension, and taking ‘ownership’ over what the forwarder probably doesn’t want to outright own. That means, in my mind, LW’s going to have to slow down and really absorb each e-mail’s fine print (edit and translate accordingly) and the manager will have to adjust her expectations about how long this is going to take, or that her manager will need to provide specific guidance about what, beyond blind forwarding, she hopes the LW will accomplish under a tighter timeline.

        In a certain sense, this reminds me of the post last week about an e-mail from a hiring manager identifying a LW as her ‘weakest candidate.’ I think the consensus there was that that manager demonstrated a deficiency in decorum and professionalism, but both of these scenarios represent the same basic truth, which is that a lot of management caste outsource soft skills or lack the ability, interest, and/or time to perform written polish on demand and in large quantities. But they should be able and should be encouraged to set standards about how they want that task executed if they’re going to assign it to someone else, and also have ideas about how to make that more efficient and less work for everyone else involved. A blind forward is just passing the buck, most times, unless there’s an ongoing conversation that all parties are participants in such that any one of them can readily extract the information they need to move forward. And if this is just about documentation for future reference, the LW or manager should say so. This doesn’t need to be so convoluted.

        Reply
        1. Akcipitrokulo

          One that I get fairly often is an email from manager with a lot of jargon below with a “can you let X know about this?”.

          He doesn’t want me to forward the chain between 4-5 developers and DBA … he wants me to let X know the high level summary, how it affects them and what we are doing/what we need them to do.

          One major part of my job is translating Business-speak to IT-speak and back again!

          Reply
      2. Raina

        Here’s the thing: Depending on what the OP’s job title is, this could be wrong — but this really really came across as not doing her job. Boss asks OP to get information to a client? Fine, OP just forwards boss’s email. Boss asks for OP to get information from another team with the context being a sensitive issue internally? Fine, OP just forward boss’s entire email chain with a nice summary on top. Boss doesn’t need OP if this is literally all OP does.

        Reply
        1. Lily in NYC

          I don’t think there’s anything in OP’s letter that mentions clients – for all we know these were only sent to internal people. I forward emails from my boss on a regular basis because it’s absolutely expected here, but I am so careful to read everything in the email chain first – if there’s anything remotely sensitive or controversial, I delete it (which is also fine where I work). Ugh, it was difficult to get this comment written; what is up with the glitches here lately! The ads have been messing with me.

          Reply
      3. Liz T

        I have worked in plenty of offices where there is no time to implement most of your solutions. An assistant does not necessarily understand the finer points of their boss’s work, and the boss usually isn’t there to educate them.

        I temped in finance and spent 6 months supporting an insanely busy, temperamental billionaire. If he was in the office I was doing five things at once and didn’t have time to draft thorough summaries of things the recipient understood better than I did, and there was NO way I was asking bossman to explain things to me–that’s the opposite of what I was there for. And there was no way I was “calling a brief meeting” with anyone!

        Not that I forwarded much because he rarely wrote out his own emails, just that your solutions assume a LOT of leeway to get explanations from one’s boss. In a lot of offices, “choosing your battles” means “choose what’s worth quitting over” because you’re not given an opportunity to battle.

        Reply
        1. Sunshine on a cloudy day

          Yeah – I pretty strongly disagree that the chain should ALWAYS be removed. There have been so many times I’ve received a request from someone where I’ve had no idea what their “summary” is actually asking – then I read through the chain and I’m like “oh, got it”.

          In my opinion, the ability to write “concise but thorough” summaries is actually not all that common of a skill to come across. Everyone thinks they can do that (myself included), but its really pretty tough skill to master (for a universal audience).

          I’ve also had situations with very high level, busy bosses forward me a chain with the request “please do x”. I have no idea what “x” is. I can either wait to try to accomplish “x” until I can get clarification from boss, which could take days (literally – I’ve had bosses who would forward me stuff whenever it occured to them, but would not answer my emails or calls for days and we did not work in the same office) OR I can try to start on “x” by forwarding the email chain with the best explanation I can come up with it and a note mentioning “please see below chain for more color”.

          Reply
        2. Jessie the First (or second)

          I don’t get the sense that the OP is an admin assistant, however, and OP does appear to understand the issues (she says she summarizes, for example – so she knows). And that is the sort of role the commenter above is speaking to, I think.

          Even so, even as an admin, if your boss tells you to “ask person x about z” and all you do is forward the email your boss wrote, it’s a good idea to stop and think: if that was literally all the boss needed, then boss could have put person x’s email address in the email instead of yours. If yours is there instead, then chances are there is something you are supposed to *do* with the question or email other than simply forward it.

          Reply
      4. Allie Oops

        The most common reason I see this happen: the sender is someone with little authority, who is requesting something from people who tend to push back based on her lack of clout. It’s a “see, the boss said to do this, so don’t argue”.

        Of course, that would be best handled in another venue, and the forwarding is a Band-Aid.

        Reply
    3. Sabine the Very Mean

      I’ve even immediately jumped on bosses who did this with my email to them. I always found it odd that I’d have to explain why that was generally Not Cool.

      Reply
      1. Kelly L.

        Yep, I have a couple of bosses who are notorious for this. It’s to the point that I have to wordsmith even quick internal things, because who knows who they’ll get forwarded to, and any sensitive or even mildly grumbly context has to be communicated verbally to them and never committed to email. And I guess theoretically we should all be doing this, but it’s a pain.

        Reply
        1. sssssssssss

          This. I’ve often typed in an additional remark that might be cheery, cheeky, or sarcastic or “such is life!” to finish the email…and then immediately delete it because you just.never.know how it will be received on the other end.

          If you’re forwarding, and the chain is needed, because sometimes it is, scan it quickly first and remove extra returns, spaces, unnecessary details like the huge group of ppl it was c.c.’d to, small talk comments and forward a useful email to the recipient. It really doesn’t take too much time.

          Reply
          1. Akcipitrokulo

            Yeah… once we were discussing the ROI in validating/protecting certain fields to which a handful of well-trained and knowledgeable staff had access – at one point in the chain I said something along the lines of “look, they are all responsible people. we can trust them to do it right. Besides, we know where they sit if they don’t!”

            Would not want that to leave my department… not that there’d be trouble, but yeah.

            Reply
        2. Specialk9

          I try to remember that anything I send about someone could be read by that person. I had a co-worker who hated me (along with a lot of other people) and wanted my job, and deliberately forwarded an internal email to the client. It wasn’t even that bad, just saying that a delay was because the client hadn’t signed something yet, but the client took it really badly. (I realized later that she had been poisoning him against me for awhile. Because yes, office jobs are sometimes really Borgia courts.) So ok, lesson learned: be careful about everything you put in an email. It’s why I never IM if I can help it – no edit and rewrite time.

          Reply
      2. Raina

        Yep — it’s disrespectful of the boss, especially when you are an assistant(!), and to recipients it can be passive aggressive (basically a cousin to CC’ing the top boss on even the most minor things).

        Reply
    4. LBK

      I think this really depends on the request and the content of the email chain…I get plenty of forwarded requests from my boss where his addition to the chain is nothing more than “Hey, can you help Jane with her request below?” and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with forwarding that to the final recipient (who’s usually the person who sent the original email anyway).

      Obviously you should review the chain to make sure there’s nothing sensitive or nothing too internal, but I don’t think it’s categorically wrong to forward emails like this instead of sending them clean.

      Reply
      1. LBK

        Oh – and I did have an old boss who asked me to watch out about forwarding emails that had our internal conversations on them, and in return I asked that if he needed to send me a forward with some additional context/info he didn’t want the final recipient to see, that he also send me a “clean” forward so that I could keep the email chain together but without having to delete out the emails he didn’t want other people to see since it made the chain look weird.

        Reply
        1. Specialk9

          I am not sure that was a wise approach if you want to advance in your career. The boss asked you to do work for them, and you then asked boss to do part of your work for you. Because you can’t figure out how to edit out stuff that shouldn’t be forwarded, or can’t identify problematic info? I’d be really annoyed with you, and pigeonhole you as ‘can do low level tasks but nothing that requires big picture thinking’.

          Reply
          1. LBK

            My career has advanced perfectly well with promotions roughly once every 18 months and I’ve just been promoted to a strategic consultant role working alongside senior management, so I’m not too concerned about it.

            Reply
      2. Accountant

        Yeah, this kind of forwarding is very common in my company. I am a corporate accountant and I get emails all the time that have long chains of people discussing what account or cost center something should be in and then someone copies me and asks me to move it to wherever they decided. Then the whole email chain gets copied into my entry file as support.

        Reply
        1. Sloane Kittering

          Yes I think it depends on context. To administrative support or subordinates I might forward the whole chain, as well as to anyone who is in charge of documenting things (although I might make a clean version that edited out snark). But a subordinate to her boss, or acting as her bosses assistant to others on an equal or higher footing, I wouldn’t send a long spammy thread and expect them to pick through it. Ditto don’t forward an “ask X about Y” email to X – the boss could have done that herself if that’s what she wanted.

          Reply
    5. Jaguar

      Boy do I disagree with this. E-mail clients include the content you’re responding to by default. When you use something, you tacitly agree to its default usage. You don’t get to be angry when someone replies to your e-mail and it contains your e-mail.

      Reply
  6. LizM

    #3, in law school, I worked for an criminal defense investigator. We worked for a number of different attorneys, which meant a lot of different deadlines, some of which were very tight.

    She was up front when she interviewed me that she only expected me to be there for the hours I had committed to, but that if i had time and needed the money, she would always allow me to work extra hours. That is, it was my responsibility to tell her when i couldn’t meet a deadline.

    More than once, she would come into the office an hour before I was scheduled to leave, and ask me to do a project that took 2 hours that was needed for court or another deadline the next day. I think most of the time, she just didn’t realize what time I was leaving, or what time it was. Sometimes, if I had the time to stay, I would say, “normally, I leave at 5, but I don’t have anything tonight, I can have it done by 6. But i don’t work tomorrow, so that means I won’t finish the work on the Brown file until Thursday. Is that okay?” Or, if couldn’t stay, “I have to leave at 5 today, and I think that will take at least 2 hours. I can get started on it now, but that means i won’t be able to finish the work on the Brown file until Thursday.”

    Learning to be explicit about trade offs when my boss assigned more work than could be done in a work day was one of the most valuable skills I’ve ever learned. Now that I’m full time and salaried, i have less ability to push back when I’m asked to stay late, but i still keep an open line with my boss, clarifying priorities and helping her understand the trade offs of what she’s asking.

    That is a long way of saying, your boss may not understand how much you can achieve when you’re working part time, or what your ability to respond to emails is, and may need some help figuring it out.

    Reply
    1. neverjaunty

      This is excellent advice. And it’s the most efficient way to push back against a boss who thinks “part time” means “full time, but we pay you half as much.”

      Reply
    2. Blue

      I have this issue working full-time, ugh. If the job expectation was that you’d work >40 hours a week, that would be one thing. But all the higher-ups (including my supervisor) insist that they do not want people working outside business hours…and then nag you about getting stuff done that you do not have time for unless you work outside business hours. It stresses me out.

      Reply
      1. LizM

        My current supervisor is the same way, Blue.

        She says that she only wants us to stay late if there is no other option, but she wants our typical week to only be 40 hours.

        A few weeks ago, I had three “high priority” projects, and only time to complete 2. I asked her which 2 were higher priorities, and she told me “they’re all equal.” I asked if that meant she wanted me to work extra hours (I’m government, so my timesheet is wonky – I don’t get paid overtime, but I’m still expected to track my hours, and will get that time back as PTO if I exceed 80 hours in a two-week period. Our supervisors are supposed to approve any extra hours). She said she didn’t want to ask me to do that. I asked what the alternative was, when I was telling her I didn’t have time to complete all three assignments. She shrugged and said, “Do your best.”

        It was one of the most infuriating conversations I’ve ever had. It made my miss my law school boss’s crazy method of just throwing as much work as possible at me but respecting when I told her my limits so much. I think if I didn’t have that experience, I’d go nuts in this current environment.

        Reply
  7. Ramona Flowers

    #5 I’d prefer to know beforehand so I could make sure your interview was held in a room with enough space for your dog to be with you, as we have rooms that would work more or less well for this – obviously this will vary by employer.

    Wishing you the best of luck with your job search.

    Reply
    1. Specialk9

      Yes. And it gives people some time to process a slightly unusual event (dogs at work, what are service dogs, how do I interact with them, what are the rules and expectations, should I get a bowl of water, etc). People consistently do and say dumb things with new situations. Advance warning increases the chance of it all being addressed as routine.

      Also, I knew one person who was so afraid of dogs that seeing one a far distance made her literally scream at the top of her lungs until she couldn’t see the dog anymore. Most people’s phobias are lesser or better managed, but it’s worth letting dog-scared people figure out an action plan.

      Reply
      1. LW5

        Yes, I’ve encountered everyone from the phobic to the dog lovers who relentlessly coo over him. It doesn’t help that he’s a very pretty (ok I’m a little biased) working line German Shepherd so he’s also a fairly large dog from a breed some people find intimidating even if they like smaller dogs from breeds with different reputations.

        Thanks for the tips! I’m really nervous about trying to re-enter the job market, last time I was working I wasn’t as disabled and got by with just a cane. Unfortunately that doesn’t work anymore.

        Reply
        1. Case of the Mondays

          I think over the years, employers have become a lot more accommodating to people with disabilities. A lot of employers would see it as a plus to having a diverse workforce. Beware, they might try to put you in every photo op though to show how progressive they are! I’m sure your dog is stunning and I’d love to admire him from afar, so as to not distract him as he works. :)

          Reply
        2. irritable vowel

          Are you in contact with the group that you got your dog from, or another support-providing organization for people with service animals? If so, they would probably be a good resource to ask for tips on how to introduce the fact that you have a service dog into the interview process. Good luck!

          Reply
        3. jj

          Good luck! I have to say, it really made me smile to picture a service dog getting all spiffed up for a job interview. :)

          Reply
    2. Allie Oops

      LW #5, please give plenty of notice regarding your service animal (days, not hours). This would be a major issue at my workplace. Our employees have to wear non-skid steel-toed shoes and hard hats in some places, and we can provide those for interviewees who are not prepared, but I have no idea how a service animal would be accommodated. It would take a few days to juggle the logistics.

      Reply
      1. LW5

        Thank you! More useful for others than me I suspect, given my tendency to fall over nobody wants me in hard hats and steel toes type areas, but the point about possible logistics is well taken.

        Reply
  8. Artemesia

    It is hard to go part time from full. I did that briefly when my youngest child was a toddler. One day the boss said ‘I tried to get ahold of you but you must have gone off Christmas shopping or something’. I had to remind him that I was working part time and was not in the office after 3 pm and that I had taken a substantial pay cut to do this. He had implied I was goofing off having forgotten the change in status. I know many situations where people have ended up doing their full job after going on reduced status. It is hard to manage.

    Reply
    1. TL -

      I think it’s only hard because you have to push back against a superior and that’s always a weird feeling.
      But it’s not necessarily a difficult solution: “Boss, I only have 12 hours to work this week and this is about 20 hours worth of work. How do you want me to prioritize?”
      It’s not rude to remind someone of your agreement and it’s definitely not rude to hold up your end of the bargain (12 hours of work a week, not 20, not 40.)
      And the more you do it, the easier it gets!

      Reply
        1. Artemesia

          The weird thing is this was a GREAT boss; the best I ever had. My job was supported from several sources and I had basically dropped work in one area in exchange for a reduction in pay that would have come from that area. He somehow didn’t understand that dropping X meant not getting paid for X. It was quite uncharacteristic of him to be a jerk like this.

          Reply
          1. Important Moi

            You’re very charitable. I assume when comments like that “slip” out that’s what people are really thinking. But, then again, I’m very sensitive.

            Did Boss ever say anything like that again?

            Reply
  9. KR

    Alison, I know you default to female pronouns when writing but LW5’s service dog is a good boy. Good night. I agree with all of this.

    Reply
  10. Biff

    I have a friend who is in a similar situation to #4 — they wanted to take the vacation, but they hadn’t accrued one of the days yet (the vacation was several months out, and they would have accrued the time by then.) Their supervisor wouldn’t approve. I feel like my advice here is going to be similar.

    Yes, we’d hope that employees are perfect about making sure they are only scheduling vacation for time they’ve accrued or will accrue, but I think it falls on the manager to not okay vacation that runs over either the accrued time, or the planned time. In fact, I think if you schedule a vacation, as long as it is on the calendar, it should come out of the accrued pool an employee has. If there is a screw-up and someone gets, say, 12 days okay’d when they only have 10 to spend, I think the manager needs to lump it, and learn how to set employee expectations about how vacation works, and pay more attention to the calendar.

    Reply
    1. TL -

      If the employee took a day off here and a day off there and didn’t track her leftover PTO, I don’t think it’s her boss’s job to make sure she’s not taking off more than she can afford to (boss is probably just looking at balances left and saying, sure you have the hours and that day works for me.)

      If they have lumped PTO and a big sickness or something happened, I think it’s work talking to the boss about but if she just didn’t realize that her occasional play day and three day weekends were adding up to more than she could afford, that’s on her, not the boss.

      Reply
      1. Sloane Kittering

        Yeah what? At our company, it’s the employee’s job to verify they have enough PTO to cover a request. Definitely not the bosses. My boss has 20 direct reports, he’s not logging into the time sheet software every day to check up on his underlings.

        Reply
    2. Lilo

      I disagree, I think tracking PTO before a vacation is totally on the employee. I usually take one long chunk of time a year and ask for it off a couple months, if not more, in advance. If I then took too much time off at say, Thanksgiving and did not have enough for my trip, that is on me entirely. A boss cannot track every single employee’s PTO accrual and then warn them if they have over-used in advance, that is entirely unreasonable.

      Reply
    3. Jenny

      I disagree, it’s an employee’s responsibility to keep track of how much vacation days they have, and plan their time off accordingly.

      Reply
      1. LavaLamp

        I’m trying to figure out how you can just run out. My workplace uses a system that when you request vacation and it’s approved; those days are blacked out and saved for that time, and deducted from your remaining balence. If you cancel that vacation then the days come back into your pot of whatever kind of PTO they are.

        Reply
        1. Lilo

          In my system, the hours are not deducted from your total until you long the biweek you took them. So say you took in advance, and you needed to earn a few more hours, it would not deduct them yet.

          Reply
          1. Sloane Kittering

            Yeah in ours theres a time delay. You request the vacation as far in advance as you can on a calendar (I’ve done six months in advance, a year in advance, whatever) but you may not have accrued all that time yet. By the time you get to the vacation it’s assumed you’ve checked that you will have enough.

            Reply
          2. SarahTheEntwife

            Same here! It makes things much easier if you’re planning a big vacation well ahead of time and still need to accrue more hours, or if some emergency comes up and you need to use time off unexpectedly before your vacation.

            Reply
        2. Chocolate lover

          Someone could have counted wrong, or forgotten to record a day. My organization only started using a real tracking system this past year, and people are still learning it. We had just been on an honor system of self reporting to our managers, some of whom were better at monitoring totals than others.

          Reply
        3. sssssssssss

          A case of paper vs electronic and who’s doing the tracking.

          If you’re filling out paper approval forms, and it takes two to four weeks for them to be approved and then sent to HR to be manually entered in the tracking system, well, there’s a way to lose track.

          And if you’re new to the working world and oh, I sorta didn’t realize that the onus is really on me to keep track of this, there’s another way to keep track.

          Reply
        4. Alter_ego

          My office ran on a totally opaque system where your pto was deducted only after you had taken it. And the only person with the balances was the head of hr, so you needed to email her to know what your official balance was at any given time. Most of us knew our accrual rate and kept a spreadsheet, but 99% of the time, I would have a discrepancy between my spreadsheet and what hr said I had. It would be really easy to run out without realizing it

          Reply
        5. Oryx

          We also use an automated system but they don’t actually get removed from my vacation days pot until the day of the vacation. When I check my balance, it shows how many days I have available right now — Those hours that I will be using in two weeks will still show as available vacation hours because they haven’t been “spent” yet.

          Reply
          1. KellyK

            Ours is similar. You can add leave to a time sheet in advance to keep your balance up to date, but that’s a totally optional thing. Our approval system is also pretty informal. I email my supervisor with dates and he sends me a “Sure, have fun” email. Presumably he puts it on his own calendar, and I know he checks the leave balance because he confirmed with me that I planned to build up comp time when I requested more vacation than I had hours for. But there’s no automatic connection between my supervisor’s okaying my vacation and the hours coming out of my leave balance. That doesn’t happen until I fill out that week’s timesheet.

            Reply
        6. Kyrielle

          My previous job did it all electronically, but it wasn’t deducted until you actually took it.

          The actual vacation you *had used* affected your balance of course, which in turn affected whether you hit the cap and could no longer accrue. With an accrual cap, deducting it before it was used – whether literally or only visually – would have confused that issue.

          Reply
        7. MCMonkeyBean

          At my office you enter in your PTO yourself and a lot of us forget to ever do that until the end of the year when we get a reminder email to make sure all vacation for the year is in by date X. But I know how many days I get each year so I just keep track myself of how much I have used and how much I have left.

          Reply
        8. Brett

          At last employer, you requested all your days off for the year the October of the previous year. You could only request days off up to 50% of your accrual. But they were not deducted until two weeks after you actually took them off.
          The other 50% was for sick days, etc and you could carry over up to 50%.

          I knew one employee who was forced to take off November and December one year because she had taken no sick days for three years while carryover caps were suspended and was about to lose an enormous amount of PTO with caps reinstated. Her supervisor was pretty angry about it (and she didn’t want to take the time off), but orders came down from above that she was not allowed to work those months even for an emergency.

          Reply
    4. finderskeepers

      ” they wanted to take the vacation, but they hadn’t accrued one of the days yet (the vacation was several months out, and they would have accrued the time by then.)”

      that’s a pretty terrible policy to not allow *scheduling* of vacation time until you’ve accrued all of the vacation time. The vacation time isn’t actually used until the actual vacation.

      Reply
      1. Joa

        That is how my workplace’s payroll software works. It won’t let you request vacation time that you haven’t accrued yet. When I have employees in that situation, I just informally approve it (verbally or via email), ask them to plan accordingly, and have them submit the “official” request once the time accrues.

        Reply
      2. Scott M

        At my company, you immediately have access to the entire year of PTO time, on the first day of the year. The ‘accrued’ time is kept track of separately, but you generally won’t have your PTO denied because you haven’t accrued it yet. It’s assumed that you’ll eventually accrue it by the end of the year. I suppose there are people who leave the company with PTO take that wasn’t accrued, but I’ve never heard of anyone being required to pay it back.

        Reply
    5. hbc

      Maybe that makes sense for managers and supervisors whose primary responsibility is scheduling, but in most cases, they have far more going on than justifies double checking whether the employee who just used a PTO day in August because the dog got sick can still take his December vacation.

      I agree that managers should be clear about how vacation/PTO actually works upfront (rollover versus use-or-use, take in advance or not until you bank it, etc.), but after that, it’s up to the individual employee to manage.

      Reply
    6. Allie Oops

      It definitely depends on the context. Employee used days willy nilly and didn’t track them? Tough luck. Employee is a caregiver and used a bunch of unplanned days on her elderly mom’s emergency illness? Let’s work it out.

      Reply
  11. David St. Hubbins

    #1 – I don’t understand why bosses do this. My ex boss did it. He would take the time to write an email telling me what to tell somebody else. He could have used the time to just send the thing himself.

    Reply
    1. JamieS

      In the case of #1, I think the boss is at another location so may not always know exactly who to email so sends the email to her point of contact.

      Reply
    2. TL -

      The big boss at my last job would do this to his admin assist but she was a goddess of clear, polite, professional writing. So he would just write her: “Amazing, can you write So and so and tell her X, Y, and Z,” very bluntly, and she would write a much more diplomatic and professional email.

      (Big Boss was actually incredibly kind and diplomatic but it takes a lot longer to write out a diplomatic email/cross reference other emails/look up due dates than it does to say “X needs to be done by Y.”)

      Reply
    3. P_R

      I’ve had bosses who did this, and it was always some combination of (a) they wanted me to be the point person, rather than them–they didn’t want the minor questions that they would’ve gotten if they were the one requesting something, and they wanted me to be responsible for making sure it was done so they didn’t have to follow up–and (b) they were legitimately very busy and didn’t have time to put together a nicely worded email with a good description of the task, context, etc.

      Reply
      1. Lily Rowan

        Yeah, in my experience it’s more about the follow up than the initial email. The boss wants to hand over the whole project of getting the information, and (often) then doing something with it.

        Reply
        1. Sloane Kittering

          Yeah we have a lot of winners here and they will ALWAYS come back with six questions even if it’s a simple request. I want my assistant to handle that and only loop me if she needs help, so I ask her to ask. In some cases that might mean it’s okay for her to just forward my email (with her own introduction, ideally), and in some cases she would need to write the request in an external-facing way [if I used a lot of shorthand, didn’t polish any tone in a request, or accidentally let snark creep in]. There is kind of an art to this – nobody should think being an EA is easy!

          Reply
        2. Dr. Johnny Fever

          This is my experience too. Rarely is the question simple and my boss just doesn’t have time to chase down each detail.

          Reply
  12. Observer

    #4 Why would you think that the boss can’t take back the approval?

    It’s also worth noting that for many employers, when an employee is out it’s a hardship, even if it’s unpaid. In some positions this is more true than with others, but it is true to some level with most jobs. They aren’t willing to pay you because they are looking for ways to burn money, so they obviously need you at work.

    Reply
    1. CoffeeLover

      While I agree with you that the employer may suffer hardship for an employee being out, I think this is not the case for a lot of jobs. I think the employer should only deny vacation if it truly will be a hardship for the employee to be out. If on the other hand said employee can manage her own work around this time and it’s just slightly inconvenient not to have her there, then they should allow the vacation. Overall I think employers in the US give way too little vacation time (it’s 5weeks minimum in my country) and if someone can afford to take unpaid time off they should be allowed to unless it’s a “hardship” that can’t be accommodated. Giving “you used up all your vacation time” as the only reason to say no is not good enough. I have a feeling some employers do so because of a sense of fairness to others or a “butt in seat = good worker” mentality.

      Reply
      1. Observer

        Whether employers should give more vacation time is not relevant. The fact is that most employers plan around the amount of time that employees are actually allocated. And while it’s nice of an employer to accommodate, I don’t think that an employer has a real obligation to inconvenience themselves to accommodate a situation that the employee could have prevented.

        To be fair, I don’t know whether the employee could have prevented it, but the tone seems to me to indicate that it wasn’t a a matter of an unexpected emergency or the like.

        Reply
        1. Sloane Kittering

          Here at my office, when one person is out their work falls upon others. We’re all willing to pitch in and cover each other but it’s definitely a burden, as you can end up doing 1 1/2 people’s work – or even double the work! – for a week or two. So if somebody is taking an extra week of vacation and it’s not an emergency or because of an illness, that kind of breaks the quid-pro-quo and is a burden on other employees who now have to pick up more of your slack – presumably they don’t get any more vacation or money, just more work from you!

          Reply
          1. CoffeeLover

            This is a really good point. I agree that it’s very important to consider how this will impact your team. I agree that it’s not fair to take extra time off and dump extra work on your team when they don’t do the same (excluding extenuating circumstances). I’ve always worked fairly independently – if I’m on vacation, the work just waits until I get back. It wouldn’t fall on others to do.

            Reply
        2. CoffeeLover

          My point about the amount of vacation time given in the US was more to say that I don’t think it’s unreasonable for someone to WANT to take more vacation than what is given since 1 week a year (or 2 weeks) really isn’t a lot of time.

          I wasn’t trying to say employers HAVE TO do anything. They are not obligated to give someone unpaid time off. But should they? I think they should if it’s not too much trouble. Even if the request is not due to an emergency (as your last sentence suggests), but rather because the employee simply wants to take that extra time and can afford to take it unpaid. This doesn’t work for every job, but there are a lot of jobs where being off an extra week or two really doesn’t matter. These are typically jobs with longer-term projects and tasks where people are expected to manage their own work or jobs with downtime or slow periods. As an example, my father and mother both took unpaid time off regularly when I was growing up in Canada. This always seemed like a reasonable request to me from a high-performing employee. Of course, the employer can also give a reasonable “no”, (i.e., “we’re really busy this month” or “your job requires coverage and we do not have sufficient coverage if you’re away”). I don’t think saying no just because is fair or a good way to retain high-performing employees.

          Of course, I think it’s also important to understand and/or accept if you’re in a role where extra time off doesn’t work. And to accept that it is ultimately the employers prerogative to give you unpaid time off or not.

          Reply
    2. WellRed

      If it wasn’t a hardship when it was using PTO is shouldnt be a hardship now. The only change is she ran out of time (and yeah, that’s on her).

      Reply
      1. Observer

        Not true – the PTO was (or should have been!) factored into staffing decisions. Extra unpaid time would not have been.

        Reply
    3. Hazelthyme

      Exactly. I’m assuming for the moment that OP#4 *didn’t* have a serious illness or family emergency that caused them to unexpectedly burn through an extra week or 2 of vacation time between when they were approved for the week of and when it was to occur. And while I agree that most US companies (mine included) give far too little PTO, the fact remains that the OP knew how much PTO they had and how fast they accrued it all along, and most employers here do expect you not to go over your accrued PTO unless there’s a real emergency.

      I’m not totally unsympathetic to the OP. As I said, my employer’s PTO is on the low side (15 days/year, plus 7 holidays), so it’s rare for me to have much accrued. However, I know if I’m planning a major vacation (traveling away from home for a week or more), I need to plan around how much PTO I have or will have by then. Personally, I don’t like to cut it too close, especially if I’ve bought plane tickets or made other travel arrangements that will be difficult to reschedule at the last minute. I may request the time before I have enough PTO banked to cover it, but I try to make sure that once the vacation arrives, I’ll have enough PTO plus a few days to spare, just in case. In some years, if I’m cutting it a little close, that’s meant making less ambitious vacation plans (e.g., a staycation with lots of day trips, or a trip to visit relatives within driving distance) where I knew I could come home a day or 2 early if need be.

      OP, you can’t go back in time now, and I do hope you’re able to or have already worked it out with your boss so you can take this time off. But learn from this experience. You need to be on top of managing your PTO, and if you have an important vacation coming up, it’s best not to cut it too close on having just enough time just in case life happens. While this by itself isn’t usually something people lose their jobs over, being the person who’s regularly in the red on PTO (again, assuming no extenuating circumstances) but always insists on taking their full week’s vaca because “I scheduled it in advance” is NOT a great rep to have.

      Reply
  13. ABL

    #2, I’m not sure what industry you’re in, but in engineering consulting we often have more people deeply involved in the project than other companies or clients might ever meet, if we have a junior or intermediate staff member supporting someone in a more senior or client facing role, or if we have to bring in some specific technical expertise but don’t want to muddy the waters by getting too many people involved in the broader project team. I’m not sure if any of that would be applicable to your situation but there are reasons you might not know everyone involved in the project. I agree it’s definitely worth asking about though.

    Reply
    1. Jeanne

      I was thinking even just that someone delegated work to her but then brought it back to the team without mentioning the details. I worked on something that was huge for my company but I was a lowly peon. I still consider that I contributed even though my name is not associated with it in any way. I worked hard for 3 months and it is on my resume. Of course ask her but most likely she just wasn’t named as doing the work.

      Reply
    2. AnotherAlison

      Or, projects that have really long schedules can have key roles change hands during the project. We are part of a consortium on a megaproject that has been going on for ~ 5yrs. The original PM for our scope has been in another role for ~3 yrs.

      Reply
      1. strike

        For some reason my brain first went to ‘Prime Minister’ followed by ‘Post Master’ before even thinking ‘Project Manager’

        Reply
    3. Amy

      At more than one job I’ve done a lot of the grunt work for projects for my boss where I know they didn’t go and say and here is the data Sansa, Arya and Bran put together it’s just here’s the data my team put together and it totally makes sense for them to do that but it doesn’t mean I didn’t contribute to the project.

      Reply
    4. RMF

      All of the responses here echo my initial reaction. In my first job out of college, my manager took credit for all the work I ever did–including building a database that he didn’t have the expertise to have done. (His response to questions: “I figured it out.”)

      Reply
    5. Fake old Converse shoes

      Yeah, in some industries is normal having juniors shadowing before they become official members of the project, so it’s completely normal to find someone who claims experience in the project even tough his/her name never appeared in any formal communication. I wouldn’t hurt for LW2 to ask her contacts, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if the interviewee’s name doesn’t ring a bell.

      Reply
    6. #2 Original Querent

      The industry is BioTech, so there are indeed quite a few people involved beyond the immediate project team.

      I followed up during the interview by asking what they had done, and felt around to see if they knew the people on the project, at least. They did know a few of the players, or at least their names, but I can’t say that I was impressed by their knowledge of the people or of the product itself – they were either working in an utter vacuum, doing documentation formatting or something, or they were only very briefly involved.

      There’s quite a lot more I could fill in with regards to the interview itself, but I basically felt we could have been done after about 10 minutes of them flailing about, trying to tell me about how involved they’d been with other parts of the company than they’d written down on their resume and LinkedIn.

      I feel badly for them: I think that I’m about the worst person they could have encountered in an interview situation, because I have literally 20 years of consulting experience with the company they’re claiming to have worked for, and I wrote pieces of the original systems whose successors they’re claiming to have validated.

      Lastly, I’ll say that it’s a small industry: people know each other, and know who has done what. I reached out to some of the players – some in validation, some in engineering – who would have worked directly with this person. No one remembers them, or there are a couple who will not discuss this person at all.

      Because this is a small industry, and they’ve put some of the big names down, they’re going to run into this again and again. It’s sad, really.

      Reply
      1. anon for this one

        they were either working in an utter vacuum, doing documentation formatting or something, or they were only very briefly involved.

        I knew someone whose “publication list” included documents she had formatted. She had no idea that wasn’t what that meant. (And I suspect someone who *did* know better told her to do it that way.)

        Reply
      2. RMF

        Thanks for the update! Sounds like this person learned a good lesson about the risks of aggrandizing achievements on one’s resume.

        Reply
        1. #2 Original Querent

          Maybe. As I’m not the hiring manager, I’m not the one providing feedback to them, so we’ll see how it goes. I will provide feedback to the recruiting agency that they need to vet their applicants a bit better, but I suspect that they’re more about volume than quality, unfortunately.

          Reply
        1. #2 Original Querent

          Truly. One of the people who is not responding I know to be in the office, and is someone who has responded to me from an island vacation before (meaning they’re really plugged in, all the time). So, yes: big red flags.

          Reply
      3. Jeanne

        That sounds worse than my initial reaction. It seems like she really is exaggerating rather than having been a peon working on the grunt work.

        Reply
        1. #2 Original Querent

          Indeed, this is a huge level of exaggeration, from what I can discern. Personally, just looking at the resume as compared to the position for which they’re applying, I was worried. This … well. It’s a shame, because the position would have been perfectly reasonable for someone with fewer skills and experience – but that amount of untruth just kicked them out of the running, so far as I’m concerned.

          Reply
  14. Student

    #5 – If this is in the US, it’s helpful to specify that this is an ADA service dog, or a disability service dog, specifically. This is to clearly signal that your dog has specific legal protections to accompany you. It distinguishes that your dog is not an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), which have only very limited legal protections to basically be on airplanes with their owners.

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    1. Not Dr. Doolittle

      And the rules need to change to stop ESAs (not service animals, obviously) from getting on airplanes. People are having psychologists they’ve never met issue bogus certificates merely so that they don’t have to pay surcharges for transporting pets as cargo. This has led to untrained dogs fouling aircraft cabins; pigs sitting on seats; etc. I personally took a flight a few months ago where an ESA dog sat on the seat in the aisle across from me. I would like to know what would happen if there were an evac.

      Reply
      1. Not Mary Poppins

        And I’ve taken flights with children who can’t walk and aren’t potty trained; in my opinion, there’s very little between a child of that age and a dog when it comes to an emergency.

        Reply
        1. MK

          A child who isn’t potty trained is presumably wearing a diaper, ulike a dog. And a child that can’t walk is much less likely to be a problem than an animal that can. Also, I have found that people are a lot more responsible when in charge of small children than animals; when a child jumps at me, the parent is usually all “stop bothering the lady”, while when an animal does it (triggering my severe phobia) the owner always smiles serened and assures me it doesn’t bite.

          Reply
        2. blackcat

          I say this as someone who loves animals deeply. In the event of an evacuation, a service animal is like your luggage: it needs to be left behind to enable the quick deplaning of the passengers. A human baby/toddler is a person who should be evacuated.

          Also, *most* small children can be carried off in the event of an evacuation. I have seen 60+lb dogs in the cabin. When it comes to a true disability service dog, that dog is going to be calm, even when shit is going down. It’s not going to pose a risk to passengers. Some of the ESAs I’ve seen are likely to be biting and can actually HURT people further in the event of an emergency.

          By the time a human child is large enough to be difficult to evacuate by carrying, they will generally follow relatively complex commands from their parents. Hell, when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit, significantly damaging my family home, my 6 year old brother was entirely capable of taking my 3 year old self outside and keeping me safe while my mom did emergency stuff in the house (shutting off gas, etc).

          Going back to the OP, I agree that she should be clear that this is a disability service dog, not an emotional support animal. Someone who brings an emotional support animal to an interview is not going to get a job! But someone who brings a service dog can’t be discriminated against (legally). There’s a world of difference.

          Reply
      2. KellyK

        The solution is to crack down on bogus psychologists who’ll issue a certificate sight unseen, though, not to screw over people who legitimately need an emotional support animal. Someone with a legitimate need shouldn’t be expected to never fly, or to just suffer through panic attacks, because you don’t want dogs on the plane.

        Reply
      3. Anion

        Thank you for mentioning this, Dr. Doolittle! This is a big huge pet peeve of mine. And given that someone’s “ESA” attacked a man on a plane a month or two ago, it’s an even more important issue to bring attention to.

        Reply
    2. Service Dog Handler

      There is no need to specify that the service dog is an ADA service dog. Its like saying the dog is a black black lab. All service dogs are tasked trained animals that help mitigate the handler’s disability. An ESA is NOT a service dog. They are not trained and do not have the same access rights are service dogs. An ESA is allowed access to pet free housing and planes, while a service dog is allowed everywhere the public is allowed to go with a few exceptions.

      Reply
      1. BadPlanning

        If you are familiar with the specifics of the different terms, I agree. For meeting with strangers for an interview, being more specific to the point of redundant seems like it would be useful for the OP.

        Reply
      2. fposte

        Totally agree. I think ESAs are a bit of a popular topic right now, hence the digression, but I think anybody who’d need more explicit differentiation than “service dog” isn’t going to understand the other terms either. It will be clear when the OP shows up that he’s a service dog.

        Reply
        1. Sloane Kittering

          Yeah! There’s kind of an anti-ESA bias, where people feel like they’re basically fakes /scams (there was an amazing article about a woman who went around pretending her I believe emu was one to see if she could get away with it – she could) but when people meet OPs dog they’re going to understand that’s not the situation. I do wonder if there’s any phrasing OP could use in their email that would defuse any doubt on the part of a potential employer, but I think it’s fine.

          Reply
          1. Artemesia

            This. People understand service dogs for the blind. The OP is not blind and so the presumption is going to be this is an ESA and that will trigger a lot of hostility many places. It is critical that the dog’s status be VERY clear. I bet all of us know people who abuse the ESA thing to take their pets everywhere, many of them not particularly well trained.

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            1. Service Dog Handler

              No, that’s ridiculous. Guide dogs are service dogs specifically for the blind. I’ve never met anyone who assumed my SD was an ESA because I wasn’t blind. I’d say people are more familiar with SDs than ESAs.

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              1. Rusty Shackelford

                I don’t know… ESAs have been featured in a lot of news stories recently, and not in a good way, so anything that makes your dog look “more legit” to people who are suspicious of ESAs can’t be a bad thing. It’s probably more obvious when people meet you in person, since guide dogs wear gear that ESAs don’t, but if I were alerting someone about an upcoming interview, I’d probably use the ADA phrasing.

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                1. Sloane Kittering

                  Which is a shame, as from what I understand, the need for ESAs is real in people who have anxiety or PTSD but don’t have the money or access to services to get a real, trained service dog – which I understand can be VERY expensive. Of course there’s also some yahoos just cheating the system as above, someone who wants their dog to fly free or just wants to bring them into a store/hotel where they’re not allowed. But we don’t throw the whole system out just because some folks are abusing it.

                2. fposte

                  Can’t judge a dog by its outfit–service dogs and ESAs can both wear whatever they please, though. Guide dogs for the blind have harnesses, for obvious reasons, but even they vary; however, most other kinds of service dogs don’t even need harnesses. Vests are common for cultural reasons but they’re not required, and an ESA can wear one too.

            2. Kelly L.

              Huh? No. There are dogs for people who are deaf, dogs for seizures, dogs that carry things, etc., and all of this is pretty well known these days.

              Reply
            3. Sylvan (Sylvia)

              I’ve actually never encountered this widespread fake-ESA act.

              I have seen dogs trained to detect seizures and dogs who help owners with diabetes, though. And a few veterans with service dogs for help with PTSD as well as some other duties.

              Reply
        2. DaddySocialWorker

          I agree, but I think we need to remember that there are psychiatric service animals who are trained to the working service dog standard.

          Reply
          1. fposte

            Not sure where you’re going there, but there is no “working service dog standard.” Psychiatric service dogs, signal dogs, seizure alert dogs, guide dogs–they’re all different kinds of service dogs. Organizations vary in training, and there are self-trained service dogs as well. They are not all beautifully trained. However, they’re a lot likelier to be because of the need factor and the strong history.

            Reply
    3. Service Dog Handler

      OP and employers may find the guidance published by the Job Accommodation Network “JAN” helpful. https://askjan.org/media/servanim.html Specifying it is an ADA service dog doesn’t change the potential employer’s obligations, and to me would make me question the legitimacy of the service animal due to the odd phrasing. Employers follow title I. Because title I does not specifically address service animals, a request from an employee to bring a service animal to work can be processed like any other request for reasonable accommodation. This means that employers must consider the request, but do not have to automatically allow employees to bring their service animals to work.

      Reply
      1. CanCan

        Hmm, for example, if the job is in a zoo or an animal lab, and the animals go beserk when they see a dog (even a perfectly trained one).

        Reply
  15. Akcipitrokulo

    #5 – most times I’ve been arranging an interview there’s either been a bit in initial application or the agent will ask if I need accommodations – personally never had to , but it’s a really common thing that they should be prepared for.

    Reply
    1. Lily Rowan

      I’ve never seen that until my current job (also the largest place I’ve ever worked), and I think it’s great. It’s just boilerplate in the interview invitation email, but it’s got to help in recruiting people with disabilities. (Not that there are any people with visible disabilities I have noticed working here, which is another story altogether.)

      Reply
      1. Akcipitrokulo

        To me it’s so standard I don’t really see it any more – but it’s virtually always there – and usually also in confirmation email “this is to confirm your interview with X at Y time. Please let us know if there are any accommodations that you need.”

        Which is pretty cool I think… but hadn’t really thought about it before!

        Reply
        1. Marmite

          Yup, I’m in the UK, have a disability that affects my mobility, and I’ve been job searching recently. About 95% of job interview invites I’ve received included some standard wording about accommodations. Many job adverts include similar text in case you need accommodations for the application process (generally if there’s an online application form or any sort of testing process involved in applying).

          The ‘guaranteed interview scheme’ is also relatively common, which means if you disclose at application that you have a disability you are guaranteed an interview provided you demonstrate in your application that you meet the essential criteria for the role.

          Reply
  16. P_R

    Can I just say that, as a huge dog lover, the imagery of getting a service dog primped and polished before a job interview that he’s also going on just made my day. Like he’s going to be checking his teeth in the mirror beforehand.

    Reply
    1. Wasabi

      I was going to say this!

      LW #5, I hope this doesn’t come across as patronising, but: “I plan to groom my dog within an inch of his hairy life and clean and polish his gear so he looks like the professional he is” made me laugh. Dogs are so wonderful. :’)

      Reply
      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        The image of the dog getting all primped for the interview made me happy, too. I love service dogs, those good boys/girls. Also I think it’s cute when dogs go to daycare. My coworker’s husky goes to daycare every day, and he loves it there.

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        1. AKJ

          My dog goes to daycare about two or three times a month – my coworkers think it’s the funniest thing! (I kind of do too!) But on a practical level, she’s a high energy dog and playing all day at daycare wears her out. Plus, I normally go home to let her out on my lunch break, so on days when my co-workers schedule a lunch or another event over the lunch hour, I just send her to daycare. I’d send her every day if I could afford it.

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        2. Mallory Janis Ian

          My coworker’s dog is high energy and has separation anxiety, so he was hurting himself and tearing up the house and yard when he was left home alone. Now he goes to daycare every day and has friends there; it’s just like hearing about a child’s day at kindergarten. :-)

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        3. Sylvan (Sylvia)

          There’s a service dog in my town who wears little shoes when its person goes into stores. It acts like a very serious human wearing a dog suit.

          Reply
          1. LW5

            My boy will put up with all kinds of shenanigans from me but he draws the line at boots – usually worn to protect paws from hot pavement in summer and salt and ice in winter. We use paw wax instead, because while he says boots are terrible and not ok, getting me to massage his little feets (ok pretty big feets) is great. It’s the least I can do for all his hard work, but watching a 90lb German Shepherd lie on his back and groan pornographically while I rub his feet cracks me up every time.

            Reply
      2. Stop That Goat

        I’m imagining a musical montage where he’s trying on different shirts and ties until they find the right one.

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      3. SignalLost

        Look, interviews are where we make the most effort, and a good boy is not going to be the one to make his person look like she didn’t go all out. :)

        Reply
      1. ByLetters

        Frankly, if I was a hiring manager and someone showed up with a tie on their service dog, that would pretty much seal the deal.

        I’d announce it to my team immediately. “Great news! I hired a DOG WITH A TIE and he is the BEST BOY — oh, and we’re also getting a new project manager, so that’s nice, but GUYS. HE WAS WEARING A TIE.”

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        1. Anion

          I have to agree. I would be so charmed by that, not only because Good Boy but because it shows the candidate not only cares enough to make an effort but has a wonderful sense of humor about themselves etc.

          Reply
    2. LW5

      He would definitely be getting his teeth brushed! And his nails done, and a bath the night before plus a wipe down with a damp cloth in the car before we go inside while I give him a pep talk about being the best boy I know he can be.

      Reply
          1. LW5

            Well, he is a Very Good Boy but also a dog and occasionally they have off days at work like people. He’s also an intact male because the testosterone helps him stay string enough to help me stay upright. On Monday he, uh, waved his manly parts at a woman cooing at him in the doctor’s waiting room. I didn’t know whether to die of mortification or laughter. On the plus side, she DID stop trying to call him over to her…

            Reply
      1. Red 5

        This actually is one thing I often tell people who love to say “but allergies” whenever service dogs come up. Because I’ve noticed that most people who say that aren’t actually allergic to dogs, it’s just hypothetical allergies.

        I’m allergic to dogs. So one day when I happened to be in a room with a K-9 officer and we were killing time, I said “Hey, what DO you guys do about people who are allergic?” and he explained how they groom their dogs and what products they use and everything they do because they absolutely had thought about it and were gracious in their consideration of people with allergies. I’ve also had similar conversations with service dog trainers who were out with the pups who weren’t quite ready for jobs, about what they do to mitigate the dog’s impact.

        Service dog and working dog handlers, in my experience, are vastly more considerate of the people around them than the reverse.

        Also, make sure you give him an extra pat tonight and tell him he’s a good boy from all of us : )

        Reply
  17. Evergreen

    I’m not sure I necessarily agree on #5: I’m personally not comfortable around large dogs but that’s because they often jump up, lick, bark etc which obviously your service dog won’t do. Service dogs are totally different to dogs in parks, at home etc.

    I think stick with what you normally do for other meetings (banks, social engagements, restaurants etc) as your dog is legally protected in all these situations – an interview is no different.

    The other thing would be that if the hiring manager was allergic and therefore swapped out of the interview, wouldn’t this be disability discrimination? I mean, I’m not sure what the advance warning would really be able to achieve?

    Reply
    1. Myrin

      I don’t understand what you mean with your last paragraph – who would be discriminated against if it turned out the interviewer can’t be in the same room as a dog? That’s an unfortunate situation but I don’t see any discrimination issues. And the advance warning would achieve that the person with a dog allergy isn’t blindsided by its sudden appearance and starts to swell up, but can react appropriately, whether that means wearing a mask, not getting too close to the animas, or staying away completely and attend via video conference or similar.

      Reply
      1. Zip Silver

        Who would win out in such a situation? The person with allergies? Or the person with epilepsy? Who would the ADA favor?

        Reply
        1. Kyrielle

          Neither – both must be accommodated, where reasonable accommodation is possible. Video conference would be a great way for an interview; when managing, other strategies might be needed.

          Reply
      2. Acx0106

        This question is interesting to me, too. Obviously, I would never want to discriminate against someone with a disability who was able to do the job, but I am terribly uncomfortable with dogs. I wouldn’t be able to work every day with a dog in my department. However, I believe I’m in the minority and most people wouldn’t be bothered. I agree with the advice to give a heads up to your interviewer, so they won’t stick you in a room with someone like me!

        Reply
        1. blackcat

          Well, but your discomfort with dogs doesn’t legally matter in the case of a service dog. If you couldn’t work around one, your company could fire you or simply tell you to “get over it.” And your employer might not be willing to accommodate your desire to not participate in the interview, since that could be considered discriminatory.
          Now things *are* more complicated with allergies, because someone with allergies can be protected under the ADA in the same way the person with the service dog is.

          As someone who is pretty darn allergic to dogs (but I love them!), a recently well-groomed dog is much less likely to cause a reaction. If I had to meet someone with a service dog, it would be very helpful to know ahead of time so I could do things like make sure we’d be in a big conference room where I wouldn’t have to be right next to the dog. I don’t think teleconferencing would be discrimination, so long as that isn’t held against the interviewee. That seems like a reasonable way to accommodate both needs. Also, I’d expect my employer to make sure they cleaned the space after the dog’s visit (mostly vacuuming carpet).

          My general experience is that I rarely have reactions to encountering service dogs, in no small part because service dogs go out of their way to avoid making physical contact with new people. Dogs I meet in the street may want to get near and do things like sniff my shoes. Service dogs keep their distance unless told to do otherwise. They are also very good at sitting in the corner of a room if directed to do so.

          Reply
          1. Here we go again

            I believe (but am not 100% sure) that it was established in a previous thread that a phobia of dogs could be covered under the ADA, depending on how serious it is. Not sure what would happen if these accommodations were in conflict.

            Reply
            1. Sloane Kittering

              But I think that would require a psychologist or other medical professional confirming that the phobia is so severe that it requires accommodation under the ADA. I don’t think you can just say “I’m uncomfortable around dogs” and expect to receive equal accommodation as someone who requires a service dog.

              Reply
      3. Ms. Anna

        I know this is unfair, but if I am allergic to the dog or scared of the dog, I don’t know that I would be able to give a fair interview. The sneezing, running nose and the anxiety would be very distracting to me. But, I would be game for a video interview or to let someone else handle it.

        Reply
        1. Red 5

          I am allergic to dogs and scared of them, and I absolutely think that if I was given a heads up I could give a fair interview. But I’m a big advocate for disability rights, so it’s important to me that I recognize that my discomfort has nothing to do with the person’s ability to do the job and that it’s my job to get over it.

          I mean, it takes work, don’t get me wrong, but at the same time, it’s important that anybody who has hiring authority do the work to make sure they don’t discriminate, unconsciously or not.

          Reply
    2. Kyrielle

      On the other hand, here are some cases where advance notice *hugely* benefits OP #5 (ignoring the benefit to the hiring manager if they’re severely allergic and don’t end up in the hospital):

      1. Assume the hiring manager is, like me, someone with a manageable phobia of dogs. (It didn’t used to be manageable, but I’ve been working on it for quite a while, and that’s had an effect.) Having a dog suddenly appear in the interview would rattle me horribly, and even though I would start deploying all my coping mechanisms, I would be distracted for *at least* the first 15 minutes – possibly longer, up to the whole interview.

      Forewarned? Actually, I find service animals – true disability service animals – to be among the easiest of the large dogs to deal with. They’ve had a LOT of training, they are not going to suddenly do anything they’re not supposed to when working. Knowing in advance, I would spend time reviewing that, thinking about it, bracing myself to meet the dog. If I could – if the schedule wasn’t already too set – I’d give myself at least a 30-minute window before and after the interview where I didn’t have to do anything, to prepare and to settle down.

      With warning, I would have a momentary wobble when the dog showed up, and come back to normal pretty quickly because I expected it.

      2. The interviewer has allergies, but they’re not life-threatening. However, they now know to take an anti-histamine (non-drowsing!) before that interview.

      3. The interview will be with the hiring manager and one or more coworkers. One of those coworkers is allergic to or phobic about dogs. The hiring manager can omit that coworker from the interview. (When I’ve seen coworkers involved, it’s not always the same coworkers every time anyway – someone’s out, someone forgets, things happen.)

      Reply
      1. blackcat

        Also with 2, simply knowing to do things like schedule the interviewer in bigger spaces (so the interviewer isn’t in s small confined space with the dog) can make a big difference.

        As with your phobia, allergic reactions are also easier to manage with a service dog. Unlike many pets, it’s not going to get up in your business and shed on you or lick you. (Some pets are great at this, most are not. One of my mom’s friends has 3 pit bulls, but I can go over to that house because it’s well cleaned with wood floors and the dogs are very well-trained. Their version of excitedly greeting someone is to sit in place, wag their whole butt, and wait to be called over. That’s really rare in my experience with dogs of all breeds, though.)

        Reply
      2. Bureaucrat with a Side of Coffee

        Also 4. Space constraints. While I’ve seen service dogs fit in pretty cramped quarters to remain next to their owner, if there’s a choice between a small conference room and a slightly larger conference room with more floor space, they’ll know to go for the larger one.

        Reply
        1. Sloane Kittering

          Yes, we have a very small two-person conference room (open office, sigh) and I might have selected that for a one-on-one interview. Now, I’m sure the service dog COULD FIT under a chair or the table or something, if I had a heads-up I would select a larger room for the comfort of the dog and the person who might need the dog to get around.

          Reply
      3. LW5

        It also occurred to me on further reflection that advance notice works for me as a screening issue. Regardless of legality, a response that isn’t “thanks for letting us know” or similar means I probably don’t want to work there. I would like a job that isn’t “constantly deal with friction over my service dog”.

        Reply
        1. Service Dog Handler

          It does, and thank goodness. There is nothing more uncomfortable as having a bad job fit with a service dog. Definitely give notice, but no need to specify that its an ADA service dog. My work asked for 2 months notice so that the building (80 stories with many companies) with key cards and security guards could be prepared and trained, and that a proper area could be set up on my floor so that me, my SD, and everyone else in the office would be comfortable.

          Reply
    3. Allie Oops

      There are some type of jobs in which knowing this ahead of time is absolutely essential. As I mentioned above, my workplace requires skid-proof steel-toe shoes and hardhats in some locations, and interviewees are provided those items if they don’t already own them. Having an animal on that type of site sounds like a major OSHA problem, and I would need a few days to consult the proper authorities to figure out how to handle it.

      Reply
  18. Rebecca

    #2 – I participated in a lot of projects, performed a lot of background work, analysis, setting up spreadsheets, inputting info into PowerPoint, and handed all of it up to my PHB, who forwarded the work to management. My name never appeared on the finished work, but I had a big hand in contributing to it. In this case, it’s possible your candidate is in this boat.

    Reply
    1. #2 Original Querent

      Yes, that’s definitely a possibility, for the particular position … except that they claimed to have basically done the validation, which would mean they would have their name on GMP-signed documents, and would have been part of the whole approval process. In validated industries, there is a bit of ghost-writing, true … but there’s also a strong desire to document who did what, exactly, so that an FDA auditor can be made happy, down the road. I’m afraid it was an exaggeration, and they just got unlucky enough to be caught in it.

      Reply
  19. idi01

    OP 1: Never forward an email that you haven’t read all the way to the last (or first) thread. If you don’t want to read all the threads, then delete them and just send the e-mail with the last thread that you read.

    There could be information on one of the threads that you don’t want a supplier/customer/ co-worker/ boss or your mother to see.

    Reply
    1. my two cents

      It’s really Not Difficult to remove all of the previous emails from the chain from the reply/forward, and simply forward the latest email with the request.

      Reply
    2. CMDRBNA

      This!

      Also, I once had a Terrible No Good Very Bad Boss who blamed *me* for *her* forwarding an email that had an earlier draft at the bottom. She literally came to my office, stood in the doorway, and yelled at me because *she* had rewritten the email but forgotten to delete the earlier draft from the bottom before she sent it.

      I have no idea how I was supposed to magically prevent her from doing this. She still works there.

      Reply
    3. The Rat-Catcher

      Thanks for bringing this up! There are some other options for why a manager might not want an email forwarded besides “careless wording.” Maybe sensitive information was discussed that hasn’t been released yet. I don’t know if OP is an admin, but if so, we’re often privy to a lot of confidential information and people don’t necessarily say to us “hey, this is confidential” because it’s a job expectation in that role. When it comes from your email, you’re responsible for the information that is released, even if you are not the original author.

      Reply
  20. I Herd the Cats

    As part of my cat-herding duties I’m often tasked by the CEO to contact a staff member and request or convey additional information about Project X. The CEO’s email request to me often comes at the top of a long email chain on the topic. I never forward those; it’s discussion among board members and senior staff and who knows what’s in there? He figures it’s my job to come up with the correct phrasing and summation, using the email chain for context, and applying my diplomatic skills when necessary. The only time I forward email text in those situations is a cut/paste of, say, a paragraph detailing technical requirements, or the details of an event invitation. As the CEO’s assistant, I get annoyed when people forward me long email chains with an “FYI” or “see below” an I have to use my Sherlock skills to figure out the task.

    Reply
      1. Specialk9

        OP never said they were an assistant. They did what the boss says (which is pretty much every job) and represents boss to locations and depts. That could be a really wide range of titles and levels.

        Reply
    1. Marty

      This. What’s more, given that said request is likely to involve multiple people see you have forwarded it, this can also save a significant amount of time because everyone won’t have to read the whole chain.

      Reply
  21. Akcipitrokulo

    Everywhere I’ve ever worked (apart from one husband & wife team 20 years ago) has had a centralised holiday tracking system – you enter your request, your manager OKs it, and your pool is reduced appropriately. Is this an unusual thing in US?

    Reply
    1. JanetM

      I’ve had four jobs that had vacation time as a benefit, all in different industries, and all of which deducted time off when taken, rather than when requested. However, I know that the plural of anecdote is not data, so it could be other companies do deduct time at the point of approval rather than use.

      Reply
      1. Akcipitrokulo

        Interesting – most places I work (UK) deduct when booked (but if you cancel, it gets added on again).

        Reply
        1. Apollo Warbucks

          That’s my experience as well, also the whole years entitlement is given up front but if you taken more than you’ve accrued they take the money out of your last pay check.

          Reply
          1. Akcipitrokulo

            We just don’t get it approved if there’s nothing left in the bank. There are other options – apply for unpaid, arrange to work it up (due to nature of my work, I currently have 17 hours TOIL banked) or *maybe* borrow from next year, but generally, once it’s gone, you can’t book any more.

            I booked out all the important dates this year at the start (don’t worry, not taking the option of those days away from anyone else!) so was left with only about 5-10 left unbooked!

            Reply
    2. (Different) Rebecca

      A very unusual thing. In a lot of smaller places, the schedules are still done by hand. Not to say that’s right or anything, just that such an organized/fair/non-adversarial system is quite unusual.

      Reply
    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      Every company does it differently; there’s no single nationwide standard. I’ve worked at 5 companies in my career, and they’ve all tracked vacation in different ways. This is especially true as technology has advanced; my first job out of college had an email approval system (which my boss didn’t know how to use), and over 15 years on, my last company used an HR app. My current company simply uses a calendar. It varies widely depending on the company, its size, and its needs.

      Reply
      1. Sloane Kittering

        Yep. And at my office now, the vacation calendar doesn’t sync with the timekeeping system – it’s the obligation of the employee to make sure that they have enough time off for the request.

        Reply
    4. TL -

      I don’t think it’s unusual but it’s also very variable. I’ve never had to get manager approval on PTO going through and I’ve worked in places that have tracking systems but don’t necessarily track (your manager doesn’t follow up or track your days off.)

      Reply
    5. WellRed

      Our system: HR dept of one sends monthly email asking whether we’ve taken any time off and whther it is Vacation, personal or sick time. Course, we have fewer than 20 employees and they treat us like adults who can be trusted.

      Reply
    6. MCMonkeyBean

      We don’t have ours formally approved by anyone. I just tell my boss I’m looking at taking PTO X time, let me know if that would be an issue. They always tell me it’s fine. Then I enter it into the system usually a few months later (for some reason the only instructions I have for entering PTO are for how to do it after the time has already been processed).

      We have an informal team spreadsheet where we can mark off days we plan to be on PTO and see when other people plan to be out.

      Reply
    7. Manager-at-Large

      Everywhere I’ve worked in the last 20+ years has had your PTO or vaction + sick accounting on your pay stub. Both what was accrued in the last pay period, what was taken in the last pay period and your YTD totals and current balance. This was true of paper stubs and electronic. Additionally, my current place has an online site where we can see the balance, the future balance (e.g. what will I have by November) and it is there we request the days and our manager approves them. This is very normal for any business of size in my experience.

      Reply
      1. LCL

        Here at big government ™ we have the same paystub information you describe. Leave accrual rules based on years of service are the same for all employees. How the employee uses the leave is up to the workgroup, the general culture is to approve all vacation request. Our group is one of the few shiftwork groups because of the critical work that we do; we restrict the number of employees that can be on vacation at any one time and that is considered highly unusual for the company. And yeah, leave isn’t subtracted until the employee takes it. Managing leave balance is considered the employees’ problem, but part of my job is to help and monitor and find solutions that are within the rules.

        Reply
    8. Becky

      I work for a large organization and vacation is managed on a team level you request and get approval for time off in advance but it isn’t actually deducted from your PTO bank until you have actually taken it.

      Reply
    9. Allie Oops

      Our HR software shows you “days for the year”, “days used”, “days approved”, “days remaining”. You can’t go over the value in “days for the year” using any combination of the other three categories without triggering an error message.

      Reply
    10. Arjay

      We use ADP for our payroll and other services. They have a widget where you can check your PRO balance as of a certain date. So if I booked vacation for the first week in September, my balance on 8/15 still includes those hours since they haven’t been deducted. But my balance on 9/15 (that I can look at today) shows the reduced time available. It’s really convenient to be able to look at 12/31/17 and see what I have left for the year, especially since the time we can roll over is limited. So if I have 96 hours, and can roll over 80, I’ll know that 16 hours are in the “use it or lose it” bucket.

      Reply
    11. Anonak

      Where I work, you are able to request vacation days in the future, as long as you will have the accrued time once the day arrives. If you use that time beforehand, I’m pretty sure they would cancel your vacation days.

      That said, we only get a report of our vacation time at the end of every month. I made a spreadsheet that details when I’m going to earn hours and when I have planned vacation so that I don’t accidentally take vacation time now that I intend to use later.

      Reply
  22. I totally don't know anything about this

    Re #1: My place has a habit of forwarding emails and that includes to outside vendors. Which means my emails to my boss expressing concerns might get forwarded on. It has had a chilling affect on me and makes me spend quite a bit of time looking at the tone and word choices of the email because I know it’ll get forwarded on.

    Conversely, we’ll get a forwarded email from the boss about an issue with no summary so I have to go all the way back to the beginning to figure out what the issue is.

    Reply
  23. Fabulous

    #3 – Put on an out-of-office auto reply on your email on the days you’re not working, presumably including your weekly hours. Boss should get a reminder then when she emails you on your off-hours so you don’t need to field immediate replies.

    Reply
    1. Bureaucrat with a Side of Coffee

      This might be annoying to other folks who email you on your days off and don’t have the same expectations as your boss. See if you can set it to only auto-reply to the people who regularly have issues with your new part time status.

      Reply
      1. fposte

        Can you explain more about the “irritating” thing? This seems no different from a “Got it–I should get to it Tuesday” email, and it’s pretty easy to ignore.

        Reply
        1. Red 5

          At my job, I send out regular sales emails and I’m the one who gets the OOO replies by the hundreds, so I have an irrational hatred of them myself. But then, I’m of the opinion that when I send an email I’m already agreeing that it isn’t urgent or I would have called, so I wouldn’t need the “I’ll get to it Tuesday” either. I realize that makes me old fashioned and basically an old man shouting at a cloud.

          The converse though is our email system only sends one out of office per person per vacation usually. So say Bob is out of town, I email Monday to say “when you get back could you do X?” and I get an out of office reply. If I email Tuesday and say “Nevermind, I figured out how to do it,” it wouldn’t send me another one. So for my coworkers, it’s not irritating at all.

          Reply
      2. Specialk9

        That’s pretty standard practice, not really annoying at all. When I send group emails, I get 5-15 OOO auto replies and I just mass delete without really even noticing them.

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth West

          Same here–at Exjob, my consultants would set OOO if they were going to be unavailable in case clients emailed them. So I also got OOO emails if I sent something to the whole team. No big–I would just note who it came from and that they were out, and proceed from there. Sometimes they’d check email anyway, and then reply.

          Reply
  24. Allison

    #4 Where I work, vacation is accrued, but if you’re taking a big vacation before you can accrue enough, your boss usually allows you to borrow against future accruals, especially if it’s something special like a (possibly once-in-a-lifetime) chance to visit another country, or your honeymoon. However, I wouldn’t be surprised that if I use the number of vacation days I’m supposed to accrue in a year, I wouldn’t get approval to use any more until January. I only get two weeks of vacation time, which a part of me is happy to have because I was a contractor for 3 years, but I definitely need to budget my vacation time and keep an eye on my balances.

    Reply
    1. Anion

      I have to agree there. I once had an editor forward on an email I’d written to her, and while the email wasn’t unprofessional and didn’t say anything that embarrassed me, I wasn’t thrilled that she’d done it; that email was meant for her, not the other person. If I’d known it was just going to be forwarded I would have written it differently, and not included minor chitchat at the bottom.

      Reply
      1. oranges & lemons

        Yeah, my boss has a tendency to do this too. I always make a point to be pretty diplomatic in my written communication, but I still don’t feel great about clients seeing my semi-unvarnished opinions since I usually take care to deliver any negative feedback or bad news in a particular way.

        Reply
  25. hbc

    OP1: I’m a fan of forwarding the chain but trimming to the most recent and relevant emails. Basically, you should lay eyes on everything that’s getting forwarded and confirm that it’s both relevant and appropriate to leave. If there’s too much to read, then chop it out. That’s part of the reason why the boss is passing along this task–partly to summarize and make it easier to answer, but also to exercise judgment on what shouldn’t be included.

    Reply
    1. KR

      That’s usually what I do – I’ll forward the request or my manager saying, “Yes, let’s buy this.” But trim off the twenty questions where I say when, to what account, where to ship to, what my dog did that day, the broken equipment issue that led to us buying it, ect.

      Reply
  26. Blue Eagle

    #1 This happened to me. I sent an e-mail to my boss (with a sort-of snarky comment about outside organization A) and she forwarded the entire thing without editing that comment out to several people outside our organization. And when someone from A complained, she said that I had to apologize. At which point I responded “you are the one who needs to apologize as you are the one who sent my e-mail outside of our organization – my e-mail was intended for you only”.
    The point is that if you choose to forward an e-mail addressed only to you that contains wording that obviously the sender did not want distributed, then you should take responsibility for being ultimately responsible for that wording as if you had composed it.
    My advice to LW#1 is to only forward the info specific to the task in your e-mail and remove anything else from the boss’s e-mail to you.

    Reply
    1. Sloane Kittering

      Yeah although I’ve seen this go both ways, sigh. A boss can always come back and say you should never put anything in writing that you don’t want to be forwarded (true, but kind of unrealistic to live by for most of us – and favors a lot of annoying phone calls / in person chat for sensitive things), and it’s also true that you shouldn’t blindly forward things without vetting the contents. But I find that the boss will always be in the right and the employee will be wrong in these circumstances!

      Reply
      1. Blue Eagle

        No, then I sucked it up and made the call as it was to a person that I knew. But then, just like other commenters, I was extremely careful after that in any e-mails that I sent to my boss.

        Reply
  27. The Other Dawn

    RE: #1

    I agree that you need to comply with what your boss wants.

    Although I’m typically very careful about what I write in emails, there’s been a few times where I’ve emailed someone, recapping a meeting we had with another department and making a comment that could be taken out of context, and then the person forwards my email along with my/their request or question to the other department. The comment I made wasn’t anything terrible, but the ultimate recipient may have been annoyed by it, or took it to mean something else. I wouldn’t tell me direct reports not to forward emails, though, because lots of times it adds context to whatever is being asked or requested. I just make sure I don’t write anything that could be taken the wrong way.

    Reply
  28. Nomad

    Sorry, I don’t agree with the answer to #5. There is absolutely no need or obligation to advise the interviewer of bringing in a service dog with you, since it is your legal right to have one. Advising the interviewer of this would be the equivalent of telling the interviewer over the phone that you have other accomodations that you need and therefore, in my opinion, t aints the hiring process. These accomodations and your service dog can be discussed more in depth if you are hired, not before the entire interview. I wouldn’t want there to be any chance of them having your disability in their heads at all before your interview. Employers can’t technically discriminate against disability, but I am cynical and know that it still exists. Bring the service dog, give a brief explanation at the interview that the service is dog is your service dog, and proceed with the interview. Just my opinion – I don’t like telling hiring managers anything I don’t need to beforehand.

    Reply
    1. Observer

      As others have pointed out, there are actually practical reasons to let people know about a dog, especially if it’s on the larger size.

      Reply
    2. Bureaucrat with a Side of Coffee

      It isn’t like they wouldn’t figure it out as soon as OP walks in the door though. If they’re a horrible enough employer to discriminate against someone for a disability requiring a service animal, they’re going do that whether you tell them in advance or just show up.

      Telling them in advance in very plain language gives them the chance to be considerate as possible so you don’t have any awkward situations like a dog-phobic interviewer having a negative reaction to OP’s face.

      Reply
    3. Sloane Kittering

      Ultimately I think it’s up to OP. What’s strictly legal isn’t always going to make OP’s life easier and smoother, which I suspect is what they’re looking for. Showing up unexpectedly with a dog is absolutely your legal right, but I think it also sets up some logistical challenges that could have been easily prevented with a little advance warning, and I think kind of sets OP up with an adversarial relationship right off the bat. Also, if it were me, I might *want* to vet the employer to make sure they’re not going to be super crappy about this – but OP can decide for themselves. Your point is taken, she doesn’t owe them the chance to discriminate against her. I certainly wouldn’t mention it until they offer me the interview – and it would sure be revealing if they withdraw at that point.

      Reply
      1. LW5

        Yes, I’m well-versed in what’s legal. The point about knowing whether they’re going to discriminate as soon as I mention the dog is a good one. And it’s not like I can hide my disability until I have an offer in hand, it’s either a 90 lb German Shepherd to help me walk & monitor my PTSD or a wheelchair and a bunch of Xanax. I feel like “service dog and clear headed” offers me my best chance to make a good impression as long as the interviewer doesn’t get hung up on “oh God a disabled person”.

        Reply
        1. Astor

          For me, I also find it more useful to see how a company responds when I’ve given them enough notice to figure out some accommodations. If the room you’re in is too tiny for you and your service dog, or if someone keeps trying to pet your service dog, or if someone has an allergic reaction to your service dog… that tells you a completely different story when you’ve already mentioned that you’re bringing a service dog than when they realize it when you walk in the door. I want to make sure that I’m not giving the benefit of the doubt because of the surprise.

          Reply
      2. fposte

        Heh. “Vet” the employer. (But overall I agree.)

        I think it would be pretty unusual for a prospective employer to be so transparent as to withdraw an interview after being informed about a service dog but before the interview; it’s the move of a company that’s really dumb about the law. And it sounds like the OP would prefer to rule out a place that’s in freakout over the dog anyway, so in this case I think it does make sense to mention the dog, if not necessarily the disability itself, when scheduling the interview.

        Reply
    4. Specialk9

      That’s a big leap. Plenty of people could use a bit of time to figure out logistics, how to respond to a new situation, and whether there are other legally requirer ADA accommodations that need to be made in the interviewer’s end (eg dog allergies). There are people on both sides of the equation; it’s not all about the interviewee!

      Reply
    5. Not a Dog Lover

      It is also your legal right to show up to your interview in a swimsuit. That does not make it the best idea if you want to actually get the job.

      I’ll be honest, and point out that I am the “horrible enough” employer that I would absolutely discriminate against someone who required a service dog. I hate dogs, and as long as I have the power to keep them out of my life, I will do so. If you think surprising me with a dog with no warning will do anything other than completely torpedo your chances, you would be wrong. On the other hand, if you gave advance notice and were a strong candidate, I would definitely at least consider you for the job.

      Reply
      1. Service Dog Handler

        Except that a service dog is considered medical equipment and not a dog, and disability status is federally protected. Wearing a swimsuit it not. You could hate wheelchairs but discriminating against a person because they use one is not legal.

        Reply
        1. Not a Dog Lover

          I never claimed that was I would do was legal. I am fully aware that in the States, that action would be illegal. (My employer has more than 15 employees) That doesn’t change what I would hypothetically do in this situation, except that if the situation was real instead of hypothetical, I wouldn’t admit to it, even on an anonymous internet comment section. The only thing I’d say is that there were many strong candidates, and we chose the strongest.

          Reply
      2. Sloan Kittering

        Thank you for being so honest, even though it’s problematic since the dog in this case is a protected medical accommodation and I suspect it’s illegal to discriminate against an applicant who needed one. Still, for OP’s benefit, do you think if the dog proved itself to be well behaved, did not approach you (as service dogs generally don’t) and was well groomed and otherwise inconspicuous, that would change your feelings? Is there anything that the dog-needing applicant could do to better their chances given that you are predisposed against the dog?

        Reply
        1. Not a Dog Lover

          Not really. To be clear, if the dog was extremely well behaved, and it’s owner was a rock star of an employee, I’d hire them. However, if they were average, like most employees, I can’t think of anything that would change my mind.

          Reply
          1. Red 5

            Since you don’t love dogs (I don’t either, allergies plus a bad history = phobia) it’s possible you’ve just not been around service animals. It’s almost impossible for a dog to be a trained service animal and not be well behaved. It’s in the job description. Their job is to be calm and focused on their trained task. That’s why service dogs don’t make my phobia act up, because they don’t jump, they don’t bark, they don’t chew on things or knock things over. Working dogs do their jobs.

            Exposure to working dogs and trained therapy dogs is why my phobia isn’t as bad as it could be, because they are extremely well behaved.

            Reply
      3. Sylvan (Sylvia)

        If your dog issue is so delicate that you would illegally discriminate in hiring because someone didn’t warn you about the dog in advance, maybe you could consider putting some work into moving past it.

        Reply
      4. fposte

        Unless the business you own is smaller than fifteen people, you don’t have the power to keep service dogs out of your life there; you’d be breaking federal law to do so.

        Reply
        1. Service Dog Handler

          Service dogs are considered a reasonable accommodation under Title I as the ADA does not specifically call out service animals in the workplace. They are not automatically allowed and are treated as any other disability accommodation. There are many valid reasons for a service dog to be denied as an accommodation. However, discriminating against an applicant due to the use of a service animal is prohibited under the ADA.

          Reply
        2. Not a Dog Lover

          In a perfect world, you would be correct. In this not-perfect world, I absolutely do have that power. It would involve me lying and breaking the law, and could absolutely result in my career going down in flames because I exposed the company to legal liability, but I still have that power.

          Thankfully, I have never been in a position where I wanted or needed to use that power to discriminate against someone else. However, let’s not pretend that an employer doesn’t have the ability to do so, especially for a small enough company or minority group that a pattern of hiring can’t realistically be shown.

          Reply
          1. Service Dog Handler

            Yes, you can break the law and be a person who chooses to discriminate against protected groups. We are aware bigots exist in the workplace. However, we are letting OP know their rights under the law that specifically protects against this abhorrent and illegal behavior.

            Reply
            1. Lindsay J

              But the point is, practically, how are they going to exercise that right?

              Unless a company is incredibly stupid, they’re not going to say, “we didn’t hire you because of your service dog.” They’re going to say, “this was a competitive hiring process with many qualified applicants. We wish we could have hired everyone, but unfortunately we couldn’t, and we selected a different candidate [optionally: who had more experience in XYZ than you].”

              And without a law suit, you have no way if knowing whether it was discrimination or not. And if there is a lawsuit you have to hope that there is some sort of internal documentation (note on resume, email) or a clear pattern that establishes that it was in fact discrimination and not any other factor that lead to them not hiring you.

              And anyway, in regards to the parent comment of the thread, if they’re going to discriminate based on the dog they’re going to do it whether they’re told about it before-hand or whether the OP just shows up to the interview with it.

              And I’m pretty sure someone who has a service dog is probably well aware of their legal rights regarding it and doesn’t need to be educated by random people on the internet. They’re asking about common etiquette and best practices, not legality.

              Reply
              1. Not a Dog Lover

                This is exactly the point that I was trying to make, so I just want to thank Lindsay J for saying it better than I did.

                Reply
    6. Allie Oops

      If someone showed up at my workplace with an unannounced service dog, the interview would need to be rescheduled. I would need time to figure out how to change our entire interview process to accommodate that person, and I couldn’t do it on the fly. There are safety issues involved.

      Reply
    7. Red 5

      If we were just talking about people who don’t like dogs/have a phobia, then I would agree with you. But as somebody who is allergic, it would actually taint my opinion of the person more if they showed up unannounced than if they gave me a heads up to take some medication so that I didn’t suffer, since my allergies can trigger migraines and other health issues. If it was a 10 minute meeting, that would be one thing, but job interviews are usually pretty long, and that just is going to cause me physical discomfort that could easily be avoided.

      I will openly admit though that there’s no way for a prospective employee to know that I wouldn’t discriminate based on their need for a service dog because I have enough disabled friends/family that I know how crappy an attitude that is. I can see that being a legitimate fear on their part, but I don’t know a good way around it that also accommodates possible allergies, which I’m assuming can be much more severe than mine.

      And I want to be clear I am in no way saying that my physical discomfort is on par with the difficulties of a person who is disabled/in need of a service animal. Just pointing out that having a migraine after an interview is more likely to make me have a negative unconscious bias.

      Reply
  29. Government worker

    #4, at my workplace, taking unpaid time off isn’t simply a hardship for the person who takes it. It’s also extra paperwork for HR/payroll, since if (for example) you only worked 90% of full time during September, they will only pay for 90% of your benefits and you will only accrue 90% of your leave during September. (Taxpayer dollars, man. Do not mess with them.)

    Reply
  30. Specialk9

    I had an interview in which one of the interviewers made a comment that she had also worked a key event (in a small space) and didn’t remember seeing me there. I didn’t really know what to say. Um, I’m not lying. It was really uncomfortable. I was offered the job but my company countered and I stayed.

    Reply
    1. Lindsay J

      If I were in that situation I would likely first try to jog their memory “I was at X booth,” “I was responsible for Y task”, “I recently dyed my hair – I was a redhead back then, not blonde.”

      If they maintained that they hadn’t seen me after that then I would take their seemingly hostile attitude towards me into account in deciding whether or not I wanted the job.

      I’m terrible at recognizing/remembering people (both faces and names) so I can see not recognizing someone immediately. I especially hace trouble when I see someone outside of the context I expect to see them in, or if their appearance has drastically changed. (As near as I can tell my brain stores people as “the short woman who always wears dresses at work is Melanie. The woman with the lomg straight gray hair is Jessica. The guy that wears glasses and has the hair with the flippy thing in front at the gym is John. The guy who always wears the blue and orange sneakers is Chris,” but does not store their actual facial features etc. So put Melanie at the gym in workout clothes where there might be numeous short people who are not Melanie, or have John cut his hair and get contacts and I’m lost because my reference bits are gone) but I can also see wanting to share that I, too, was at that event but not wanting to pretend that I remembered you when I really didn’t because that can lead to awkwardness. But a mention of your role would likely jog my memory. Or I would at least admit that I was embarrassed because I’m sure not remembering you is my fault, apologize, comment about how nice the conference was, and either small talk about it and move on. Repeating “I don’t remember you being there,” would not be on my list of things to do in that situation.

      Reply
  31. Winger

    I am pretty diligent about looking through an entire email chain before I forward it along, particularly if it involves my boss or my boss’s boss.

    Reply
  32. Airedale

    To #1: I get where you’re coming from, as my old boss did this constantly. (It’s not inherently wrong, but it was awkward when she’d ask me to follow up with someone multiple times per day, or dictate the exact wording of the email to be in an overly stiff tone.) Anyway, I dealt with it by saying, “[Boss] asked me to request X from you” in the email. That way, there’s no need to include the whole chain, but the recipient still knows that it carries the weight of your supervisor’s rank.

    Reply
  33. Jiggs

    LW #5, people will definitely appreciate a heads up. As a person who is both a) scared of large dogs and b) allergic to pet dander, I would still be fine if I knew ahead of time. It gives me important information like: take an allergy pill before I come in since I’ll be spending some time in a closed environment with an animal; the dog is trained as a service dog so I know it won’t jump on me, etc. Basically I get to manage all my feelings and needs before I walk in the room with you.

    If you’ve been corresponding with HR, or HR calls you, ask them to notify anyone who will be sitting in your interview as well. (A good HR person should do this anyway, but good to cover your bases and you look considerate.)

    Reply
  34. Question 1 OP

    I’m the original poster for the first question, and thank you everyone for your advice and perspectives. It had not occurred to me, but after reading your comments, it became clear to me that I do forward her email chains because I have doubts about some of the things she is asking me to do, so I do convey that “it’s not MY idea” attitude, as well as not feeling like I have authority to make requests without the weight of a superior behind me. Moving forward my new approach is going to be to figure out how to address the issue at the root, and stop being lazy about it. Thanks again!

    Reply
    1. Anion

      OP, could you start your emails with, “Boss has asked me to request that you provide X or do Y,” or whatever? That way it conveys that it’s not your idea–subtly–while still not actually forwarding someone else’s email.

      Reply
  35. Question 1 OP

    Delphine, this was definitely the case. I hadn’t even considered her wording as something to be interpreted badly until she expressed that she was embarrassed by it.

    However, GenX manager, your point is well taken that my resentment at not agreeing with the requests my boss is asking me to carry to others in other departments comes through. I don’t think I even realized that that is kind of at the root of why I feel like I need others to see the backstory of her requests. Definitely appreciate your perspective and I am going to take this as an opportunity to reflect on that attitude. Thanks!

    Reply
  36. Red 5

    To LW#5 – I’m allergic to dogs and also have a phobia (though my phobia is actually of small dogs, I’m more calm around large ones).

    I think Allison’s advice is spot on, if somebody mentioned they were bringing a service dog to something I was at, I would take an allergy pill and would be perfectly calm because I’m well aware that service dogs are working dogs and my phobia doesn’t extend to them because I know they won’t harm me, they’re too busy with their job. If somebody just showed up at the office with a dog, I would roll with it but it would take me a second and that’s just not always the best thing at a job interview.

    Reply
    1. Airedale

      “Service dogs won’t harm me, they’re too busy with their job.” Adorable way to say that :) (Not being sarcastic at all, just imagining dogs carrying briefcases and being all “I don’t have time for this nonsense, I’m working!”)

      Agreed with your actual comment, of course. I have my own animal phobia so I can relate.

      Reply
      1. LW5

        That’s pretty much my dog’s attitude, though! He will look you over, establish that you’re just another normal person, and then go right back to monitoring me. Out of his harness he’s a ginormous goofy dork, but when his gear is on he’s Very Serious about his job.

        Reply
  37. LW5

    Thank you everyone for feedback and suggestions! Job searches are scary after a long hiatus, and y’all have been very reassuring and kind. Here’s hoping the ratio of “people who will illegally discriminate” to “people who will not illegally discriminate” is the same in my local job market as it is here!

    Reply
    1. a happy manager

      I am a hiring manager who recently hired an employee who happens to have a service dog. Before the final interview, he asked me via email if it would be an issue to bring the dog. I couldn’t think of a reason why it would be an issue at our workplace, however I double checked to make sure. As I expected it would be, I told him it would be fine. This advanced notice was helpful as I could remind my staff (many of whom are dog/animal lovers) to not be surprised and to “behave” ourselves by respecting that his service dog was working.

      We interviewed the candidate (not the dog!), and selected him for his excellent skill set. He’s been a wonderful hire and it just so happens that when he gives the okay, we get to have some animal love. So keep heart – there are companies out there that will and do hire employees, who just so happen to have a service dog. And good luck!

      Reply
  38. Brenda Keener

    I am salaried and have two weeks of vacation and a couple days of PTO a year. My boss likes to write down when I (or anyone in the office) is 30 seconds, a minute, two minutes late, add all that up at a later date, then deduct it from your vacation time so you suddenly end up with less than you thought you had. We have no time clock here and he relies on his broken telephone’s clock, which is always wrong. Even if we work through lunch or come in early or leave late, he still does this and does not credit anyone for working extra or making up time. One day last week I came in a 7:30 a.m. because I had to leave early that day. He wrote down that I came in at the time HE came in rather than the time I actually came in. He seems to be under the impression salaried and hourly employees are treated in the same way. It’s maddening!!!!

    Reply
  39. Liz

    #5 – I have been a colleague of someone who had a service animal (she was blind). She was hired before me so I was never involved in the interviews. If you are comfortable sharing updates, I hope you will do so. Best wishes!

    Reply

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