my company is pushing me to give up my car, which I need

A reader writes:

The company I work for encourages environmentalism and recycling. They started an initiative where they want everyone who works here to live environmentally friendly lifestyles. Every single person I work for has given up car ownership, as part of this initiative, except for me. I’m getting pressure because I’m the only one not participating and I’m keeping the company from a 100 percent participation rate.

I live with my 72-year-old grandfather and my cousin, who has cerebral palsy and uses a walker or wheelchair. All my coworkers and the management live in the downtown core of our city, near bus stops or subway stations. I live outside of the downtown core. Because transit is not great outside of the core, I would have to take three different buses and wait outside in all weather conditions for stretches of 20 minutes or more for each bus. There are no bus shelters. My commute time would also triple.

The company wants me to give up my van altogether and not just for my commute, but the van is outfitted for my cousin’s wheelchair. It would be impossible for him to get to doctor’s appointments and other places without the van because we don’t live in the downtown core. My grandfather has arthritis and anything beyond short trips on transit or foot are impossible for him. My grandfather and cousin can do short trips in our neighborhood, but beyond that they need me to drive them and my cousin needs an accessible vehicle. There are no services here besides private ones I can’t afford.

I have told my boss and his boss. I have gone over the situation in detail even though I normally don’t share such personal stuff at work. They keep asking me to do it and going on about the company’s green initiative.

My grandfather owns the house we live in. If I had to pay rent or a mortgage, we would be in trouble. My grandfather has a small pension and my cousin gets disability and works as a writer, but I’m the breadwinner and we need my income or I already would have quit. I couldn’t quit without having another job. Family helps when they can but they all have bills too.

My boss and the company don’t get that we need the van and we can’t afford to move. I want them to stop and leave me alone but they won’t, even after I have told them everything and explained why I can’t. What can I do? I have nothing against being environmentally friendly, but I need the van.

What the hell?! Your boss and your company are being completely ridiculous here, and they’re vastly overstepping reasonable employer/employee boundaries.

Giving up a car for environmental reasons is great, if you happen to be in a position that allows you to do it. Not everyone is. Far from everyone is. You are the poster child for not being able to do it — it’s hard to imagine stronger reasons to need a car or a van than what you have, and it’s bizarre that your company seems unable to realize this.

There are two different ways to approach this, depending on how hard-line of a stance you’re comfortable taking with your company. I’m going to suggest wording for a lower-key, play-it-safe approach that still conveys what you need to convey. But I’m also going to suggest wording for if you’re comfortable telling them more directly to cut it out. (Either way, you’ll be telling them to cut it out. It’s just a question of how you want to frame it.)

Here’s the play-it-safer approach that you could use the next time this comes up: “It’s not possible for me to give up my van because of the health situations of the people who depend on it. At your request, I’ve given a lot of thought to whether there’s any way for me to make it work, and there’s not. This keeps coming up, and my answer can’t change. I need the company to respect that I have disabled people relying on the vehicle. It doesn’t make sense for us to keep discussing this, so please consider this my final decision.”

Frankly, you could even add, “I need to understand — is this going to affect my continued employment here?” (You might feel like you shouldn’t raise that as a possibility in case they weren’t otherwise thinking of it. But they probably aren’t, and getting them to clearly say no to that may be useful. And if it is actually a possibility, you might as well get it out on the table.)

Alternately, it would also be reasonable to be more firm in shutting this down and instead approach it this way: “It’s not possible for me to give up my van because of the health situations of the people who depend on it. I support the company’s environmental initiative, but because of the disabilities of the people I live with, what you’re suggesting is not an option, period. Please respect that and stop pushing me to do it. I’m concerned that this keeps coming up after I’ve repeatedly explained the situation, and I’m taking it off the table for discussion. Will that be a problem?”

(Frankly, there’s also a third option, which is “It’s bizarre and unkind that you keep bringing this up, knowing the needs of my family members with disabilities. Please don’t ask me about it again.” But if you were in an office and a role where that was going to feel appropriate to you, I don’t think you would have written to me in the first place.)

Really, though, you do get to say “no” and “no more” in this situation. It’s possible that they’re so off their rockers about this that it will harm your standing there, but (a) you might as well find out sooner rather than later if that’s the case since you’re not getting rid of the van anyway, and (b) there’s a decent chance this will shut it down and they’ll move on.

{ 877 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Ask a Manager Post author

    I’m putting a note about this up top so people see it before commenting further. I think it’s pretty unlikely that the letter writer is going to be fired over this, and don’t want to freak her out by treating that as a very likely outcome when it’s not, so I’m asking people to bear that in mind in their comments.

    (Firing is possible, yes, but I think this is most likely to fall in the category of “something your employer will pressure you to do but won’t actually put teeth behind if you refuse.”)

    Reply
    1. just another day

      Being fired for this does seem unlikely, but isn’t it possible that they’re making OP uncomfortable enough to quit or at least job search so that they can find a better “fit” (for their program/culture, not because of performance issues or anything)? It feels like a big “please move on” from the employer to OP.

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        1. Akcipitrokulo

          Yep. And runs afoul of the equality act… disability is a protected class and EA protects against discrimination by association.

          Reply
        2. paul

          It would be here too, in at least some states. But it’s hard to prove and it means putting up with a really crappy work situation in the meantime.

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      1. Lady Phoenix

        Yup. Sounds more like “If we can’t fire her, then we’ll FORCE her out. That way we will be green AND we won’t have to pg that pesky unemployment claim.”

        That is what bad companies do — force their people out by any underhanded means to skirt around employee protections

        Reply
    2. Katie the Fed

      Yeah I agree. Especially when you frame it as “disabled family members rely on me having this vehicle” – it’s hard to pretend environmental concerns trump that.

      I’d still maybe start applying/interviewing elsewhere though. Not because OP’s job is in danger, but because these people are unreasonable jerkfaces.

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    3. JessaB

      I wonder how many of the people who gave up their vehicles wanted to or were scared into it thinking the threats were real? I would be really really ticked if I’d given up a vehicle and found out I didn’t have to because they were blowing smoke. This might be something OP wants to talk to others about. Alison, you often mention going in groups to talk to management. I can’t imagine everyone is happy about this. And seriously what are they going to do if the vehicle is owned by spouse or parent? Say you can’t use it? Say someone with no ties to the company has to sell it?

      Also if management is soooo on being green, how about they put their money where their mouth is and replace OP’s inefficient van with a new more green model? OP to management “I’d love to go greener, but this handicapped accessible van is needed for someone with a wheelchair and I can’t legally put it in the name of someone who cannot drive or I’d “divest,” how about funding a new van for us?”

      On the other hand I’m not in the “can give up the vehicle” group anyway and in my case there’d be an ADA case to back it up – I can’t physically get to the bus stop and the transport vans are expensive and not always available at the times you need them. The issue is that the ADA doesn’t cover relatives like FMLA does.

      But further than that, the company is just wrong.

      Reply
      1. Bibliovore

        Wow, my reaction to this letter was exactly Alison’s. Your employer needs to stop right now. It sounds like they need to be 100 percent for some kind of bragging rights. May I suggest they say it like that. We are 100% with the exception of the employee who is a caregiver.

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        1. Baby Driver

          It shouldn’t matter whether the employee is a caregiver or not. This is America and you are entitled to drive a car if you have a license. Period.

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        1. Hills to Die on

          I wondered that too. I’d be tempted to drive to a nearby bus or rail station and then drive home.

          In any case, this people are ridiculously irrational and you would not be faulted for telling them so.

          Reply
      2. Iris Eyes

        Appropriate ways to encourage “green” transportation.
        – Offer to pay all mass transit costs, make bike grants available, provide bike parking places close to the entrance, provide shower/changing facilities for people with a long self powered commute, have start/stop times that make it easy to commute via mass transit or bike (i.e. no late nights required), if a vehicle is donated to charity match the amount of the gift, information on the benefits, allowing relocation benefits to be used by people moving within certain radius, etc

        Inappropriate ways:
        – Coerce people into purchasing or selling personal property.

        Reply
        1. Defrocksyoursocks

          I was going to say, if you’re good with numbers, calculate it out in black and white numbers how much your family needs the van. Find a reasonable, but high number you can map out on paper the true cost of the van for transportation purposes, including your cost of going to and from work on mass transit and your time as money.

          If they keep insisting you drop the van, that’s how much it will take to cover the cost of the loss, and you will need that as direct compensation in order to comply with their initiative in a manner that is economically and physically feasible for your family.

          Maybe if they see dollars, it will make more “cents”, and they’ll put their money where their mouth is, and just shut up about it.

          Reply
      3. Leverage and Lipstick - N

        I’m not 100% sure this hasn’t been covered yet, but I didn’t catch it on a quick skim:

        “The issue is that the ADA doesn’t cover relatives like FMLA does.”

        …is not quite accurate!

        Title I of the ADA (which governs employment) explicitly defines “discriminat[ion] against a qualified individual on the basis of disability” as, among other things, “excluding or otherwise denying equal jobs or benefits to a qualified individual because of the known disability of an individual with whom the qualified individual is known to have a relationship or association.” (This type of “association clause” shows up in the other titles, too, if that’s useful to know for non-employment contexts.) The classic case people often use for this is excluding the siblings of an HIV+ child from a playground (in fact, that might have been on my certification exam?), but it clearly applies in this case, too.

        The trick here is establishing that – given LW’s known association with two people with disabilities – discrimination occurred. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if there had been documentable repercussions for the LW which rose to the level of denial of equal benefits, but that’s an opinion about what jerks these people seem to be, not an actual legal judgment. (I’m just an ADA coordinator, not a lawyer!)

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    4. Susana

      I think your advice to ask if this will lead to termination is a great one – not because they are thinking about it (highly unlikely!) but because it might make them realize how dramatic and or-else-ish they are being.

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    5. Noah

      I agree she won’t get fired, but she’s already experiencing adverse employment actions — the continual talking-tos. This is a pretty clear violation of the association provision of the ADA. I’m not suggesting she sue… yet. But maybe later.

      Reply
  2. Murphy

    Wow. I’m a fan of the third option in this case given how unreasonable their position is, but if it were me, I’d probably want to take a softer approach as well. Your company is way out of line though, so be as firm as you’re comfortable being.

    Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      These people are behaving like garbage monsters. I’m as pro-green as they come, but this level of insensitivity is contemptible. If they truly cannot see that their 100% goal is less important than your family’s care, then they need a hard dose of reality. I’m in favor of option 3, also.

      I guess the other option would be to escalate to HR or up the chain to whoever runs the green initiative. Ideally those folks will have the good sense to be appalled that it’s being interpreted or applied in this way.

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      1. Jesca

        I’m LOLing “garbage monsters”.

        But this is like when people get so focused on a vision of some kind, that they lose all scope of the vision in the first place. They are putting their vision over human decency. Its sick, really.

        I would probably myself go with the first two options on this, but my anger may pop out either way. I would probably end with “this is absolutely insane, and you have lost total perspective. It may benefit you to reevaluate yourself here and actually THINK about what you are asking. You are asking me to remove the only viable transportation option for disabled people.” Because, I don’t know what stakeholders they are trying to impress, but I doubt any one of those stakeholders would like to hear how this company reached their “100% goal”. It may help to politely (more so than what I said lol) point out that little fact – without sounding like the veiled threat it is.

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      2. Lindsay J

        Honestly, aside from her family’s specific care needs, this is a fucking insane thing for them to expect their employees to do.

        At the end of the day, my job is my job.

        My car makes my life easier in 100s of different ways. And honestly, I’m young and don’t have any physical disabilities. I could theoretically take public transportation to work along with walking a couple miles.

        I’m just not going to do that. No matter how green it is. Because it’s hugely impractical. It would turn my 15 minute commute into an hour and a half commute each day. I live in Texas and in the summer I would be covered in sweat by the time I got there (if I didn’t pass out from the heat walking on or near hot asphalt for miles). Right now it’s dark when I leave work, and I feel like walking and taking public transit home after dark wouldn’t be the safest. On rainy days I’d get soaked and in storms I could be putting my life at risk. Plus the transit schedules don’t match up with when I need to start and leave work, which would mean I would have to wake up and leave even earlier and stay at work later in order to hit the bus at appropriate times.

        I know that is reality for some people. But I’ve made choices in my life to avoid that being me.

        If my job insisted on this, I would tell them that giving up my car was not an option for me. Period.

        If they continued pressing, well, honestly I would rather find another job than give up my car. (And really, what are they going to do? Check the DMV records to make sure I don’t have it?)

        And I’m pretty pro-green as well. I recycle. My car gets about 35 mpg. I use reusable shopping bags. I shop local as much as I am able to. I make sure not to waste energy or water at home, and I use a green energy provider.

        There are plenty of ways to have a green initiative at work (provide discounted transit passes, special parking spots for people who carpool, make sure your supplies come from recycled products and are recycleable, encourage people to turn off lights and electronics when they’re not in use and incentivize this behavior). Badgering people to give up their transportation is not cool.

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      3. Pommette!

        I’m also very pro-green (made career and housing sacrifices in order to be able to forgo a car of my own), and also outraged by the OP’s employer’s behaviour.

        This seems like a situation where they want to appear to be behaving laudably while unloading all of the costs of the ecologically friendly measures they are promoting onto their employees’ shoulders. If you want credit for reducing your company’s carbon emissions, you should take the reduction measures yourself, instead of asking your employees to do all of the work.

        Best wishes to the OP. It’s an absurd and unfair situation for your employer to have put you in (but you knew that already).

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    2. LCL

      You could point out, not in a snarky way, that since you are maintaining a combined household with two people that need assistance that you are greener than most people anyway.

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      1. Another person

        I love this answer. Living a green lifestyle encompasses so much more than one’s motor vehicle ownership status. It’s bizarre the company is so fixated on that one thing.

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        1. Anon for this

          I don’t think it’s actually about green-ness for them. I think they want to reach 100% non-car-ownership so they can get articles written about them or get a green initiative award or something.

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          1. MMMMKay

            I’d also ask if there was some “handicap exemption” they can get to keep them at 100% participation if this is some sort of external standard they are following. Maybe then they would lay off.

            Reply
              1. Ego Chamber

                This is a good thought, but it sounds like neither of them have a drivers license, so I don’t think that would work. AFAIK, non-drivers can’t legally own vehicles, and even if they could get licensed, they might have financial reasons for not doing it (insurance costs).

                Reply
                1. Leverage and Lipstick - N

                  “AFAIK, non-drivers can’t legally own vehicles”

                  Also not quite accurate! :)

                  The scenario described – a nondriver with a disability owning a car for other people to drive them in – is pretty common, at least among disabled folks with money. The “with money” part is, of course, a sticking point – not only do you have to be able to come up with money for a vehicle at all, and then the cash or alternate funding sources to modify it, but you also have to make sure it doesn’t affect your eligibility for any asset-tested benefits program.

                  But if you’re in the financial position to be able to do all of that, it’s legal and normal.

          2. Ann O'Nemity

            Totally agree on the 100% thing.

            It’s like companies that pressure all employees to donate to United Way so they can PR brag about 100% participation. They don’t care if their employees have zero extra money and are living off cupcakes from the office kitchen.

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            1. designbot

              That leads to so many questionable decisions. My employer did a donation collection last year and encouraged 100% participation… and used a sign-in sheet of who did and did not give, so that they can track percentage of participation. But it was visible to everyone, so anyone who donated would see who was a scrooge when they checked their own names off the list. The whole “100% participation” thing is just a BS guise for employee tracking.

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            2. J

              The 100% participation metric is only valuable when opting out counts as participation. We do an annual giving campaign and they push for 100% participation, but “participation” includes going into the link in the email they send and saying I’m not donating money this year. The managers and people pushing for participation can only see if I’ve clicked a button or not, not if any money is actually being donated.

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            3. ss

              I received terrible pressure at one job to give to United Way to get the office ‘award’ level up. I refused to donate because of some issues I had with United Way. I was cornered at my desk and was informed that they would put me down for $1 and I raised my voice and made it very clear that if they donated any of MY money without my permission there would be serious repercussions for docking my pay.

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          3. Safetykats

            Would be awesome to see the article about their fantastic employee who is a caregiver – and all they do for their family – and oh, by the way, how their employer is pressuring them to give up their accessible transportation. I bet that article would ruffle a few feathers, and maybe even cause an abrupt about-face.

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          4. Kickin' Crab

            In that case, I wonder how they would feel about an article written about how they forced an elderly man and a disabled person to become homebound. Local news outlets would lap this right up, and it’s exactly the sort of story that tends to go viral on social media.

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          5. Indie

            If it’s PR they’re after then why are they bullying a disabled family! That’s an unexploded PR bomb right there. LW could try saying this discreetly: “Hey I spoke to popular arthritis /cerebal palsy charity/support group for greener living tips and they were just so aghast at the possibility of us ‘losing’ the vehicle and couldn’t get past it: so two questions: 1) Can I tell them it’s a company idea? I don’t want to talk out of school publicly and 2) is losing the vehicle an absolute condition for the sake of my employment?

            Another option is “A greener lifestyle boss? Well, I am just overwhelmed because an electronic, free lifetime maintainance, wheelchair adapted vehicle costs I don’t know how much. Sure it’s great PR and the staff would help fundraise for it but it’s just such a moving idea. I don’t know if you can pull it off but god bless you.”

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          6. Mookie

            I don’t think it’s actually about green-ness for them. I think they want to reach 100% non-car-ownership so they can get articles written about them or get a green initiative award or something.

            Exactly, and since I majored in Scorching the Earth, after I’d left a job like this I’d contact any sponsors and environmental non-profits this company associates with or donates money to and tell them precisely how damaging behavior like this, when it goes public, is to legitimate activism. Environmentalism can’t be separated from humanism; this organization’s approach feels very astro-turf-y and divorced from reality, less interested in protecting public earth and publicly-owned resources and more interested in a token, flashy gesture. I hope they practice what they preach beyond haranguing employees. Are the company headquarters located in modern, energy-efficient space? Maybe they ought to start there.

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        2. serenity

          It’s also worth noting that the carbon footprint of air travel is, in general, much higher than for driving. This is sometimes sadly overlooked.

          Not that I advocate for OP to get into this with her employers – they seem bizarrely out-of-touch so I don’t think further discussion is necessary at all.

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      2. Squeeble

        This is what I was gonna say! Three adults living in one house and sharing one vehicle is VERY green. Yes, there are other circumstances at play that necessitate this–I know being eco-friendly wasn’t the intent–but if you have to use this line of reasoning with your employer, OP, I think you should.

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        1. Another person

          Of course then the company might demand employees who live alone break their leases/ sell their homes and start rooming together to be more environmentally friendly. They are a bunch of loons.

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      3. Aeon

        People living together in one house, with only one vehicle? That looks pretty green to me.

        Besides, those are justified reasons to owning a car.

        Reply
              1. Pomona Sprout

                What are you saying? If you actually think people SHOULD have to justify owning a car, you are absolutely flat out wrong, period, full stop.

                If I am misinterpreting what you intended to convey (which I kind of hope I am), clarification will be greatly welcomed.

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          1. Julia the Survivor

            Apologies if someone already said this… if OP does lose their job over this, they should look into legal action. It may not be obviously against the law, but I would think something could be done! I would consult at least two good employment attorneys, if it becomes necessary.
            They might want to document everything about this going back to the beginning, if possible, and continuing for as long as it goes on.
            Even if it seems to have blown over, keep the documentation for a year or two after you get a better job!
            :)

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      4. Ted Mosby

        This whole thing is insane, but I also don’t really see your point. Living with multiple people is more common than not in the US and doesn’t really prove much about how green you’re being/not being. I do think you make a good larger point about the fact that no one really knows what their coworkers are doing. I hope the people pushing this aren’t eating meat, or eggs, or milk, or flying anywhere on vacation, or GOING anywhere on vacation, or drinking soda…

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      5. Hc600

        Seriously! Eating animal products and owning dogs are also not green but they are focused on this one thing!

        I walk to work because I can but still have a car for when I need it.

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    3. A. Non

      Option #4 (and forgive me if someone mentioned this further down) is something like “I would need $X amount pay raise to be able to afford services for the disabled family members. When that goes through, I will be happy to give up my vehicle. Until then, this discussion is over.” I’d make sure that $X is something you can actually work with, even over it by a good amount. Who knows, that green initiative MIGHT be worth that much to them.

      Reply
      1. JessaB

        There are problems with this. Next year when rises come through OP will get none or less until that extra is in line with the normal pay for the position. Services around transportation that are good are more expensive and less flexible than owning the vehicle.

        Instead I’d go for, I’d be glad to give up this van. Just get me the most eco friendly hybrid with the appropriate ramps and tie downs and I’ll trade in this van I own for the new one that is more green. You need to understand though that you’d have to pay for both it and any increased insurance on it, and it would have to stay with me even if you fire me later. I cannot be without transportation for this disabled adult. How about you fundraise for that. That’d make you look really really good. Removing the reliable 24 hour on no notice available transportation with no real replacement is not functional

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        1. InkyPinky

          No amount of money can make up for the time and independence lost by giving up their vehicle. The cousin has cystic fibrosis – what if they need to get to the hospital in the middle of the night? And how much stress is this going to add to the OP’s life when they’ll be spending all their time commuting? It sounds like OP is already carrying a hefty load.

          But I’d mostly discourage OP from this type of bargaining with their employer because the message it sends is that this is even remotely something that is up for discussion or negotiation.

          It doesn’t matter how worthy the cause – personal life decisions are absolutely no business of the employer, and the fact that the OP has already had to justify their entire life to their employer is disgusting. Plus, what happens if the OP gets another job? Can they have a car then? Does the employer think all their staff will be with them forever? Is this going to be a condition of employment going forward? What if another employee finds they need a car for whatever reason in the future?? This is so off-base, I don’t even know where to start.

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      2. Story Nurse

        Of course, those services would presumably include someone else with a vehicle driving the family members around, since they will continue to be disabled and will also continue to be human beings with needs that involve leaving the house, so there’s no actual gain environment-wise.

        “Trap your disabled family members in their house so we can call ourselves 100% green” is nauseatingly terrible and shouldn’t be indulged even for a fantasy of a $100k raise.

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    4. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived

      I really feel for you OP. The higher ups have so much unacknowledged privilege here it makes me want to vomit. How nice for your bosses that they live downtown with easily accessible transportation. Those neighbourhoods are often wealthy because mass transit and a central location are desirable.
      The fact that you explained exactly why you’re keeping the van and they don’t even care at all suggests that your bosses are terrible.
      Sorry about the rant. Okay. My only suggestion is to start a quiet job search. I know it’s a lot of work to job search when you’re working but I hope you’re able because you deserve a better job than this.
      Last but not least I am now suspicious of any company with a 100 percent participation green initiative. At best it suggests a lack of diversity in the company. At worst they drove away good employees to achieve it.

      Reply
      1. LizC

        “At best it suggests a lack of diversity in the company.”
        I also wonder how many of the employees in this company have children. Even in a walking-biking-transit friendly city, there are times when a parent might need to take a kid for a medical appt, or rush to school to pick up a sick kid. I guess you could take a rideshare for those things, but you definitely aren’t using uber in place of the soccer team carpool, or stopping on the way home to do the grocery shopping for a week.

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        1. Red 5

          This is so incredibly true. I’m not disabled, but I’m not able bodied either and I have relatives who are disabled so I tend to see the world from a slightly different POV. I’ve had so many occasions where I’ve pointed out that something was not disability-friendly and people have gone “huh, I hadn’t thought of that…” when it should have been obvious. But at the very least they’ve then said “but that’s a good point” instead of “oh who cares, get rid of your car anyway.” What incredibly obtuse jerks.

          Deciding to get rid of a car is a very complicated decision, and there are a lot of reasons why it’s not feasible for a lot of people. A much better initiative would have been to encourage ways to reduce people’s car use/average mileage instead of “get rid of your car by just selling it to somebody else who is going to drive it so that they’re contributing to the problem instead of you.”

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      2. Wintermute

        normally the phrase “check your privilege” gets a really bad rap… and not undeservedly so. But this is one case where it absolutely, 100% and totally unironically applies: The fact that they could even contemplate saying these things to someone is born of having fantastic unstated advantages.

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    5. Kathleen

      I’m just going to say it out loud: I hate the OP’s company, or at least I hate these awful, smug managers. Putting a check in some semi-random box is more important to them than reality or people’s feelings or what people actually need to do, and that’s symptomatic of some high-level jerkiness.

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      1. Pomona Sprout

        I’m with you. If I knew the names if this company/these people, I would happily write them a very nasty letter, or better yet, write a letter to the editor (s) of the local paper(s) to expose their inhumanity.

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    6. Wendy Darling

      Any response more polite than “Are you *bleep*ing kidding me right now” seems appropriate at this point. LW’s employer has strayed so far from the path of acceptable behavior that my mind boggles.

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      1. Agatha_31

        Man, if it was even remotely a realistic option, I would offer to fly down to OP’s office, look OP’s horrible, HORRIBLE employers in the face, and go on a long rant *beginning* with “are you *bleep*ing kidding me right now.” We could move on from there to what *specifically* is wrong with each and every one of them, beginning alphabetically with sub-categories as appropriate, and to sum up, list which positions they can perform which actions on themselves with with what items.

        … Now that I’m looking at all that, I wonder if I could sell Cards Against Humanity the idea of a specialized “quit your shitty job with a vengeance” card deck.

        TL;DR: OP, your employers suck. They suck six ways from Sunday. Even if you *weren’t* in your current situation, “owning a car” is NOT something you should have to endure some sort of daily debate club bullshit because *they* decided to take *x* steps for the environment, and they would be pushy assholes for continuing after you said ‘no’. That you *are* in the situation you’re in makes their actions immeasurably worse. I join everyone else here in wishing you a much, MUCH better job somewhere else as soon as possible, because you really don’t deserve to work with people that aggressively inhuman.

        Reply
    7. Red 5

      I’m normally extremely conflict averse and while I agree it’s about the letter writer’s level of comfort in dealing with this, but I think at this point I would skip any part of the script that is about explaining at all and just say “we’ve discussed this, and I’ve told you my decision. This is the last time I will remind you that I have answered this question.”

      Frankly, the reasons for keeping a car could be “I really just want to keep my car” and the employer should have flipping dropped it after maybe one nudge. Having even one reason at all should have been enough (“I don’t live close enough to transit and my commute would triple…” should be dunzo).

      They are so incredibly unreasonable that I feel like the letter writer doesn’t owe them any more discussion at all, no more reasons, no more hedging. Just “you’ve asked this before, I’ve answered it fully and completely. We won’t discuss it again.”

      I hate that they work in a place that’s so ridiculous that this wouldn’t be a comfortable statement to make (or that it’s necessary in the first place).

      Reply
    8. Newt

      Agreed! I find myself wondering how big this company is, because if it’s any appreciable sort of size I’d be amazed if it turned out LW was the only person who had disabled loved ones, or even that there are apparently no employees who need a vehicle for mobility themselves.

      “As we have previously discussed, my van is a requirement for me due to the responsibilities I have to my disabled relatives. This could be the case for anyone who has loved ones with disabilities, or for any staff member who is disabled themselves. I’m concerned you don’t seem to realise that this initiative, and your refusal to accept my response, is going to have consequences for anyone in this company who has, or is related to, someone with disabilities. Even after I’ve raised exactly this issue with you.”

      Reply
  3. Amber Rose

    Horrifying. LW, please consider a job search, if you haven’t already started one. You deserve an employer who cares more about their staff than about 100% compliance rates for optional programs.

    Reply
      1. Specialk9

        And then go on Glassdoor (and possibly Yelp and Google) and post that they knowingly tried to force you to give up a disabilities adapted van for two relatives with disabilities, in order to check a box. That’s… Pretty monstrous. (But keep it factual in case lawyers get involved.)

        Reply
      1. mdv

        This is a great idea. “Quite frankly, it surprises me that the policy doesn’t make allowance for essential vs. non-essential vehicles.” maybe even provide the cost if your cousin and grandfather both had to start using taxis, uber or lyft, or paratransit services, instead of you driving them!

        Reply
      2. NotAnotherManager!

        I really don’t think that an employer should choose to determine which vehicles are essential or not. How would they do that? Do you have to be a caretaker or could just having your commute substantially increased count? By what factor would the commute have to be increased to be considered substantial – double, triple the current time? What about people who are not comfortable getting in cars with people they don’t know (cabs/ride hailing apps)? My elderly, chronically-ill mother would never use Uber or Lyft or even a cab, even if she had a smartphone.

        Don’t get me wrong, I think policing employee’s personal, non-work-related possessions is already over the line, but adding a layer of subjective judgment about who is and is not “entitled” to a car is worse. Particularly for an organization already demonstrating poor judgment on the issue.

        Reply
        1. Rachael

          Exactly! There are a couple of reasons why I drive to work (bussing it would increase my commute by a lot), but the main reason is that I drop my kids off at elementary school and I have to immediately get on the road to get to work on time so I can get off work at a reasonable hour. Is that essential? Some would say “no” while others “yes”.

          Reply
        2. Rafflesia Reaper

          The only right way to find out if a vehicle is essential is by trusting your employees.

          “Hey, employee. Do you really need a car? Yes? Then yours is essential.” *checks off box*

          Reply
    1. NotAnotherManager!

      I totally agree, if that’s a feasible option for you. I cannot imagine working for people who cared about their compliance record more than supporting the needs of an employee providing care to disabled relatives. That your choice had to be justified at all is gross, that they continue to bring it up knowing the specifics of OP’s situation is beyond the pale.

      I hardly drive (my 12-year-old car has 65K miles on it), but the miles I do drive are critical. I grew up bumming rides off my friends and wasn’t able to buy myself a car (used, 80K miles on it) until I was 20. I’m not giving up the freedom that comes with having my own vehicle. Most of my cars miles are on the car because I have a special needs kid that has regular appointments that we have to arrive to promptly, and public transit in DC is unreliable and time-consuming, particularly in the ‘burbs. I would have to fight hard not to flip off someone that suggested I give up my car so my employer could boast about a carless workforce.

      Reply
      1. Red 5

        This is similar to why I own a car. Transit in DC is it’s own specific nightmare of ridiculousness, and sometimes stuff just isn’t actually accessible, especially not when you consider timing. One time I drove to an event that was next to a metro stop even though I live next to a metro stop too because I could drive in 20 minutes and there was free parking, or I could have spent almost two hours on the trains because of transfers and waiting through Safetrack delays, plus then I would have had to watch a ticking clock to be sure I got the right train out and didn’t get stranded missing a transfer to the last train of the night.

        You can’t get to things like critical doctor’s appointments on time by relying on transit in our city most of the time. Heck, in my office whenever somebody is late there’s usually a round of “which line is he on?” “Orange” “Oh yeah, so are X, Y, and Z and they aren’t in yet either. I guess it’s on fire again.”

        And even if OP’s city doesn’t have these kind of horrendous problems (and right now I honestly can’t think of a major city that isn’t having significant problems with their transit systems and reliability issues, DC is just the worst) when you factor in anything to do with someone with an illness/medical needs it just becomes unworkable really fast.

        Reply
    2. depizan

      Yes. Not only is this completely ridiculous and horrifying, but I’d be worried about what the *next* staff-unfriendly initiative would be.

      This is the kind of company that gives “green” a bad name.

      Reply
  4. Zinnia

    I’m stunned. I was expecting this to ultimately be a question about how to say no without disclosing your family’s medical conditions. You explained it’s a wheelchair van and they are still trying to get you to get rid of it? These are awful people.

    Reply
    1. Murphy

      I thought from the headline it was just going to be needing a car for normal needing a car reasons (which is still completely valid) but knowing that it’s a wheelchair van for disabled people? Even more ridiculous.

      Reply
        1. eplawyer

          Hmmm, how do they prove everyone gave up their car? Maybe people just SAID they did and take the bus to work or carpool but are totally tooling around in their vehicles on their off time.

          Guess what I would do in that situation?

          Reply
          1. Alleira

            Heh, yes. Maybe it’s the lawyer in me, but I read the letter and thought, “So don’t give up the van, but tell them you did give it up. Problem solved.” However, this may be a situation where there’s a parking lot nearby where the employer could potentially check whether this is true. I wouldn’t advise lying unless there’s very little chance of getting caught.

            Reply
            1. Kelly L.

              Right, or transfer the title to one of the other family members! But I know owning assets can mess up disability, so it might have to be put in a trust or something.

              Reply
              1. nonegiven

                The grandfather owns the house (outright?) What happens when he dies? Does he have a will? Maybe they can put the house and the van in a trust for the use of OP and cousin after he dies.

                When they no longer have the grandfather’s pension, they may need to take in another roommate to make up the difference in getting the bills paid.

                Reply
      1. Fiennes

        It’s been a while since I got this angry about an AAM letter. I guess it’s the combination of harassing someone with the responsibility for two disabled family members with the assumption of some kind of moral virtue in being “green.” It’s just appalling.

        Reply
        1. Anon anon anon

          I’ve run into similar types of ableism in the name of being environmentally friendly. It’s not the norm. More like a subset of people. People who want to ban cars and use epithets to describe anyone who drives. “We should all live in cities and ride bicycles.” Ok. If you can afford to move to a city, can afford the rent there, and can ride a bicycle. It smacks of entitlement. Coming from a certain kind of background and wanting to remain that sheltered. People who are worldly and open to those from different backgrounds tend to know some people who, for various reasons, can’t do the urban lifestyle / no car thing.

          Reply
          1. Detective Amy Santiago

            Sure, I’ll ride a bicycle to work.

            Once.

            And I’ll inevitably fall off of said bicycle because I have horrible balance issues and end up breaking a bone/multiple bones in my body. That will put me out of work for at least a day or two and probably have a serious impact on my quality of life.

            Reply
              1. another Liz

                If they can balance well enough to get on and off the thing. Standing on one foot while lifting the other high into the air can be difficult for some.

                Reply
                1. Specialk9

                  I’m definitely not saying everyone should ride bikes, just that if the concern is falling over, there is a solution for that, if the desire to ride a bike is there.

              2. Geillis D

                My mother-in-law managed to fall off a trike. Some people just fare better using four-wheeled, motorized vehicles.

                Reply
            1. many bells down

              I spent 12 minutes riding a bike today as part of a cardiopulmonary stress test. And afterward, I passed out, threw up, and spent most of my afternoon in the ER getting IV fluids. Riding a bike to work – and I live in a hilly area – would probably kill me.

              Reply
          2. babblemouth

            Right. I’m the hippie in my circle of friends and sometimes known as “Ms Greenpeace”, and I have seen this kind of attitude. However, it is out of the norm, and people saying this are often set straight. Even the most hardened enviromentalists realise that sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do. Also importantly, anyone wanting to set up long term change should know better than approaching becoming green as a chore like the employer is doing here.

            Yes to making it easier for your employees to have more green options, like helping fund public transport cards, or setting up a car sharing scheme between employees. But just removing options like this? That’s just not ok.

            Reply
    2. Archie Goodwin

      Awful, or at least EXTREMELY short-sighted.

      I mean, I can see a scenario where they’ve made this commitment, and they’re SO CLOSE to making the goal that all they’re focused on is making the goal, and if the issue is presented to them in a blunt manner it might snap them out of it. But then, there I go trying to be an optimist. (When am I gonna learn?)

      I think the former is far more likely than the latter.

      Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        I do think bluntness is called for. They may be hearing the softening language and focusing on that, rather than the core of “The wheelchair van is what my relatives rely on for mobility.”

        Reply
          1. LBK

            I normally thing you’re a little too quick to jump to bluntness but I’m with you on it here. My answer would be “Let me completely clear: you actually want my cousin who is in a wheelchair and my elderly grandfather who can barely walk to no longer have access to a vehicle? You think that forcing these people to either be trapped in the house or suffer immense pain to do basic things like go to the store is a worthwhile trade off for taking one car off the road? Well, I’m not going to be the one to tell them that, so you’ll need to call and tell them that yourself if you insist that there’s no way I can keep my van.”

            Absolutely outrageous. These people can’t see the forest they’re allegedly trying to save for its trees.

            Reply
            1. MeowThai

              I think this is the best script provided. I get wanting to soften your point, but these people have demonstrated how horrible they are already. Time to get mean.

              Reply
            2. StrikingFalcon

              I would replace the last sentence with “I am not going to do that.” No point in inviting them to harass your relatives.

              Reply
        1. mf

          I would be even more pointed: “My van is what my relatives rely on for mobility. If I give it up, how will they get to their doctors appointments? Are you going to pay for their transportation?”

          Reply
          1. Fortitude Jones

            Are you going to pay for their transportation?

            I would absolutely ask this question the next time someone in Management asked me about it. I wouldn’t even say it with attitude – just with a slight inquisitive tone. Usually when you ask people questions like this, they come to hear how stupid their request is and stop asking it.

            Reply
              1. LBK

                Yeah, and I haven’t heard great things about third-party transportation options for disabled people, unless the company is going to pay for them to have a dedicated on-call driver. At the very least it’s asking for a huge lifestyle change to have to rely on something like a shuttle vs having the OP available whenever they need her, relatively speaking. It would still be an absurd overreach into controlling not only the OP’s personal life but the lives of her family members.

                Reply
                1. Zillah

                  Right?? I just… when mobility is limited, all the little things that most people don’t think about can be the difference between an okay outing and one that leaves the person demoralized and exhausted. Having to wait for the car to arrive, stress about whether/grapple with the occasions when the car doesn’t have the appropriate accommodations or the driver doesn’t get what’s necessary, insensitive/ignorant comments – all of that can really, really add up.

                  I get where people are coming from here in that snark can feel good, but as someone who has a disabled mother who needs a van, it’s really important to understand the scope of what they’re suggesting. From that perspective, “If you pay for a car service” comes off to me like suggesting that someone whose employer is refusing to offer health insurance ask that the employer pay for their annual check-ups/blood tests/medications that they currently take. It’s just… not a solution, and being glib about serious issues with unreasonable people can be a huge problem.

                2. LBK

                  Yeah, I think people wildly overestimate how useful some of those services are. Zach Anner did a funny but depressing video showing how long it took to get from downtown Manhattan to Brooklyn using public transportation, and according to the video NYC is one of the more accessible cities in that regard. He doesn’t use any special services, just the subway, but I think it still makes the point – I linked it as the “website” if you click my username.

                3. I Love Thrawn

                  For a short time I worked in a city call center for transportation, buses, etc. Including for lower income disabled people – and there were constant problems. Having to be ready, sitting outside in the dark for over an hour early in the am, in some cases. Late vehicles. Vehicles that left users stranded at dialysis centers because they weren’t quite ready to be unhooked, or couldn’t make it to the door fast enough. Not a good option to replace a prepared van with, not at all.

                4. Zillah

                  Thanks for the link! (Also, that’s a really good idea, re: link sharing!)

                  I’m a Brooklynite (I actually lived near the Bagel Store for awhile – I used to get breakfast there before school when I was a teenager!), and I agree with him both in NYC being accessible and in there still being a long way to go. My great-grandmother lived in Manhattan, and I doubt that the car service would have been much better – she usually just took the public buses because the cars were so unreliable, and she in her late nineties at that point.

                5. LBK

                  I confess I didn’t come up with the link idea, it’s stolen from another commenter whose name I can’t remember now.

                6. Sue Wilson

                  I believe Alison asked us to stop link-sharing that way because it makes it hard to stop spam accounts.

                7. Anna

                  One of the things that bugs me about public transportation and the insistence that people, especially those living in poverty or close to it, use it is the idea that their time is less valuable than someone else’s. It’s one more way of devaluing people who are just getting by. A two hour bus ride to your job is Just What You Have to Do to Work, but very few people would agree to make that commute via car.

                8. aebhel

                  They’re pretty terrible, IME. Even when the people involved are nice and know what they’re doing (by no means guaranteed), they’re so overloaded that you can never count on timely transportation for anything other than an emergency.

                9. copy run start

                  +1 These people just seem so… willfully ignorant. Do they have any disabled friends or family? I’m guessing they must not. One of my uncles uses a wheelchair and while he certainly could afford a third-party service, why should he? He is perfectly capable of transporting himself with an accessible vehicle. I can’t imagine him tossing away his car, selling his home and moving in to the city just to be green. Most homes aren’t built for people with mobility issues in mind and would require expensive renovations to accommodate wheelchairs.

                  Honestly, if I were OP, I’d tell them I’d get rid of the van only if they covered the costs of third-party transport and moving costs to get into the city and the cost to renovate their new housing to be accessible. Oh and the difference in housing price, too. This is so enraging!

                10. AngelicGamer aka that visually impaired peep

                  @I Love Thrawn – I just called to use such a service the other day when I needed to be at the courthouse for jury duty. They wanted to pick me up at 6:30 am when I didn’t need to be there until 8:30. I also got push back on the fact that I live close to the courthouse – there were undertones of “why can’t you walk” to the entire call – that I just hung up and took Uber. I do know that not everyone can take Uber or that it works (I had a problem in a suburb outside of DC where there’s no Uber which wtf?) but I was very glad that I did not have to be up at butt crack of dawn.

                11. Elsa

                  LBK. Re: your way comment. To what was that referring? I’m reading this on the train from Downton Manhattan to Brooklyn, a trip I make several day a week. It take between 5 and 15 minutes. If I want to go really far, like to the beach at Coney Island, that may take a half hour – all of which is super fast IMHO. (There are heaps of other subway issues to complain about though, and not all stations are accessible, which is the bigger problem, alas.)

                12. Thursday Next

                  Actually a reply to Elsa—the video is about riding the subway when you use a wheelchair. A shameful percentage of NYC subway stations are not wheelchair accessible. For example, the closest station with an elevator to my building is .7 miles away.

                13. Blue Anne

                  Yeah. When I was a highschooler in NYC, I volunteered with a charity for elderly people. They weren’t people who were particularly poor, just ill or fragile and it’s so hard to get good transport. Instead of even bothering with the medi-transit options, the charity would book a wheelchair-accessible taxi, and send me along with $50 for incidentals and an emergency phone. I was there to help during the doctor’s appointments, too (carrying things, taking notes, helping with clothes) but a BIG part of it was just making the transportation work. In New York City! Which is supposed to be good!

              2. Anon anon anon

                No. You just have to make it swanky enough to get their attention. Look up limo or party bus services. Pick a company. Print out their rates. Tell your employer, with a serious face, “Since I’m giving up my car, my grandfather and cousin will rely on Fun Times Party Bus for transportation. I’ll be including this in my expense reports, of course, but could it be prepaid for convenience sake?”

                Reply
            1. Irene Adler

              EXACTLY! And, are you willing to let me change my hours to facilitate taking public transportation to work? The three buses to work is asking a lot of any employee.

              Reply
            2. Jadelyn

              You could also ask if they’re going to pay for you to use Uber to get to work every day, or at least on days with inclement weather, so that you don’t have to spend an hour total (20 mins at 3 stops) out in the cold/rain/snow/whatever. And if they’re going to pay for your time for the added hours of commuting every week.

              Honestly, in the US, with the exception of a few heavily urban areas, public transit is so crappy it’s inhumane to ask someone to *give up* the ability to get around independently and ask them to rely on public transit instead. A 20-30 minute commute by car turns into a 2-3 hour ordeal by public transit unless you happen to live very close to the core transit hubs.

              Reply
              1. mdv

                YES, THIS! I actually work in the transit industry in a small city, and this is absolutely the case! Not to mention the fact that people usually have to pay DOUBLE the normal fare for paratransit service… with a 30 minute window for pickups… and while it is an amazing service for people who have no other choices? OP and his ‘dependents’ have another choice!!!

                Reply
                1. Emma NY

                  That’s awful mdv. In NYC, ADA guarantees that people pay the same for all paratransit services as standard transit service. How is it that your state can ignore this?

              2. Engineer Girl

                I love taking public transit because I hate driving. Yet it still took me 1-1/2 hours each way by bus. It took 1 hour by car on the worst of days (25 minutes on good ones). I drove, because I didn’t have an extra 1-2 hours to waste every day.
                Some places have bad public transit.

                Reply
                1. LBK

                  I’m the same – when I had a car I would almost always still take public transit because I just hated driving, especially in the city. But at the point when I could either drive to work in 10 minutes or take a bus that could take anywhere from 15-60 minutes depending on traffic and how many stops we had to make, it wasn’t worth it to take the bus. And this was a shifted retail job so budgeting an hour to commute every day would mean sitting around twiddling my thumbs off the clock for 45 minutes on the shorter commute days. I prefer not to waste my time like that.

                2. calonkat

                  I live in a small city in the midwest with “some” public transportation. It’s about 4 blocks to one of the buses, which luckily does go by where I work (the buses run on a hub and spoke system, and my house and work are on the same spoke). However the buses stop running at @5:30, and I often work until 6-7 pm. So I’d have a 5 mile walk on busy darkish streets with no sidewalks (eliminated when they expanded the roads). Or I could take the almost totally dark side streets with SOME sidewalks.
                  Gosh, I think I’ll keep driving to work!

                  Actually, I’d love it if the buses ran later and I could use them for commuting and going shopping and such. But alas, such is not to be :(

              3. DecorativeCacti

                The closest bus stop to my house is over 17 miles away. Even when I was in a denser area, it would take me two hours to get to work via public transportation. It truly is ridiculous.

                Reply
              4. aebhel

                Yeah, the nearest bus stop is four miles from my house down a highway with no sidewalks, and the bus runs twice a day. Sure, we technically *have* public transportation, but it’s not practical at all.

                Reply
              5. Anion

                Public transit in some areas of other countries (like outside of the larger urban areas) is pretty crappy, too, and notoriously unreliable in very hot or inclement weather. My husband used to rely on the buses in the rural part of England where we lived, and because buses were so rare his commute took almost two hours and involved long waits for buses that sometimes never came (without warning). Several times in bad weather the bus drove right past him without stopping. Buses would be cancelled entirely with no warning, no apology, and no back-up bus sent. In summer the buses would overheat and they’d be stranded by the side of the road for hours. There was no recourse at all, no way to call to complain. And there were no trains nearby; the only one that went to the city where he worked was half an hour away and only ran 2x a day (after work started and before it ended). Not to mention, the buses were expensive, and ended up costing about what it would have cost in gas.

                Expecting anyone, anywhere, who lives outside of a city to rely on public transport is ridiculous.

                The heartlessness of these employers–who care so, so much about the environment (:rolleyes, and probably pat themselves on the back for their caring open-minded progressiveness every day)–is just disgusting.

                Reply
              6. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish

                The only public transportation where I live is the school bus, and I’m pretty sure they’d frown on me hopping on for a ride to work.

                Reply
            3. Dove

              I wouldn’t, but only because I wouldn’t trust these people to take a hint and realize how awful they’re being. They need a clue-by-four, not something they can turn into an assumption that of *course* there’s an option where the van gets sold.

              Reply
          2. LKW

            LW – you may want to quantify it for them. As you mention ,there are private transportation services. If you feel it worthwhile, get an idea of the basic round trip fees and travel window. Calculate the number of trips you take with your relatives per week. Doctor’s visits, movies, dinners, whatever you currently do – average it out and calculate the straight cost. Then add your time cost. My mom uses a service for my dad who is also in a wheel chair and they have a 2 hour window and often show up late. So you have to be ready two hours before/after your request. So feed that time into your model. Have a 9 am appointment with your cousin? That necessitates at a minimum half day personal time to wait for the van to pick up at home and at the doctor’s office. So factor that in.

            Show them “This is what it costs me to keep my van. This is what it will cost me to give up my van. Are you willing to increase my salary and PTO to eliminate the deficit? If not, then I’m afraid I can’t discuss this further.”

            You shouldn’t have to do this. Their request is completely unreasonable. It sounds like they have this grand tunnel vision that is not aligned to reality. Good luck.

            Reply
            1. Zillah

              There is no quantifying the emotional and physical wear and tear that having to use a car service will have on the OP’s relatives, though, and that’s the most important part of this. Ceding that ground to them as though it isn’t a huge problem is really not a good approach, IMO.

              I don’t mean to harp on about this, and I know that everyone here means well – some of the comments just suggest to me that not everyone here has had to use a van for a disabled family member and understands the scope of the issue.

              Reply
              1. LKW

                Agreed, but if they were concerned about the emotional component, they wouldn’t continue to argue to get rid of the van. I find that when companies make “suggestions” like this you sometimes have to spell out the consequences in terms they understand: M.O.N.E.Y.

                So instead of saying “An uber is $10 bucks for you but a transpo call is $100 round trip. and on average we go out at least 5 times a week to doctors, movies, dinners, social engagements, etc. so that would be an additional $2000 a month minimum, $24K per year. With my van I can minimize my PTO but since I have to wait for the transpo van I’ll need 4 additional days of Paid Time Off a month or an increase of 48 days but you best make it 55 as they’re notoriously unreliable.”

                Reply
                1. Zillah

                  I get that they aren’t concerned with the emotional component, but I don’t think that the answer is to play into their narrative. Allowing unreasonable people to set the parameters of the discussion is always going to lead to moving goal posts and a losing battle – it’s the same reason why “no, I can’t come get you from the airport at 11:30pm” needs to be a complete answer rather than following it up with a demand to be paid for the time and for wear and tear on the car, or why “I need you to stop talking to me about my having a baby” needs to be a complete answer rather than following it up with a comment about how the person should pay for your fertility treatment. There are things where I think pushing back in monetary terms makes sense – e.g., being expected to carry $1000 of flights on one’s personal credit card while waiting for reimbursement – but when the issue is someone not respecting your privacy, giving them an indication that further comments are okay isn’t effective.

                  For example, in this situation, the time/monetary compensation statement could be very, very easily met with “but this option is cheaper, why doesn’t it work?” or “but they say it only takes half an hour” or any number of other arguments. The OP wants to shut the discussion down; giving them tangible numbers to argue with is very likely to prolong it.

              2. Tuxedo Cat

                I think this is an excellent point. I’ve had some creepy experiences with cab drivers- things that set off red flags, nothing bad happened to me. I’m an able-bodied, mostly able-minded youngish person who has some chance of getting to safety if I would need to.

                Reply
        2. KTM

          Yes I actually thought Alison’s answer was going to be significantly more blunt. It might help them to hear a couple of very pointed questions.

          Reply
        3. 42

          Bluntness and sentence enhancers:

          “Are you f***ing kidding me?”
          “I already told you my situation, so f***ing drop it.”

          Man this pisses me off.

          Reply
          1. Specialk9

            “I don’t understand why you are persecuting the elderly and disabled. Is it the wheelchairs you disapprove of? Is it some kind of classism or ableism thing?”

            This is the kind of thing that would sink the company, permanently, if a newspaper found out they were doing this. Twitter or Facebook would work just as well. That’s the nuclear option though.

            Reply
            1. Courtney

              Yes! I am really hoping that using words like ableism might get OP’s employee to finally realize they’re in dangerous territory with this request.

              Reply
            2. 5 Leaf Clover

              That’s a good point. I wouldn’t actually say this because it would sound like a threat, but something like “Do you actually think the company will get enough good publicity from being 100% car free to balance out the negative publicity from strongarming a disabled person into giving up their means of transportation?” is awfully tempting

              Reply
            3. Karen D

              This is a genuinely crappy situation, but no newspaper would touch this one with a 10-foot pole. It’s too much he-said-she-said. Social media obviously has more direct access, but OP should never contemplate either unless the company does threaten termination over this. Badmouthing your company in public, no matter how justified, is almost always grounds for firing unless there’s some heavy-duty union action going on.

              Reply
        4. Huntington

          Yes. I think they must somehow not be hearing “It’s A Wheelchair Van for Disabled People, and They Rely on it for their Mobility.” They’re hearing the OP lives out of town and it would take a lot of bus changes. They’re hearing MAYBE Alison’s first wording, that the family has health issues — which I really think is still way too soft.

          But maybe I’m giving these people too much credit. They ostensibly care about the environment but can’t process a mobility wheelchair van for disabled people? NO. They just care about 100 percent participation, which is stupid. The next employee also will need a car, watch.

          Reply
          1. OhNo

            Or they’re the kind of perpetually daft folks that think, “Oh, there’s probably a service for disabled people!” and never bother to consider whether it’s inconvenient, or expensive, or just impractical.

            Speaking as a disabled person who has used such services in the past, I’m willing to bet the service available is all three.

            Reply
            1. NotAnotherManager!

              Yup. WMATA in DC routinely contracts out their MetroAccess service to the lowest bidder, and this is reflected in the quality of service. They have already been sued over it once, and it’s not really improved. I would never rely on that as a source of transportation unless I was out of other options entirely.

              Reply
              1. OhNo

                I’m not surprised. My local paratransit service has had multiple allegations of sexual harrassment and misconduct by drivers in the past few years, so I no longer use it. Luckily I’m able to get around by other means.

                Reply
                1. JessaB

                  Every single friend I had who relied on paratransit has been fired from at least one job for being late too often, and since the busses pick up multiple people they report complaints from their fellow passengers. I have never lived in a place (NY, Florida, Ohio,) where paratransit is routinely and consistently on time for ANYTHING.

                  Also imagine having to plan EVERYTHING. You can’t go to dinner or a movie or a doctor without an advance plan (the minimum pick up I’ve heard is a day in advance, and you have to give them a window of like 2 hours.) You can’t be out late for any reason because they’re NOT 24 hours even if you live in a 24 hour transit city.

                  But, I really don’t care because whether you need the car because of disabled relatives, because of disability yourself, or because you just freaking want a car, nobody gets to make that decision for you. Heck even though I think we should all be as green as we can be, levels of green-ness, levels of what we’re willing to go through extra (because in a lot of cases green is extremely inconvenient,) are individual decisions. And unless you’re told this going in so you can self select out of saying yes to this company, they don’t get to do this to you.

            2. AngelicGamer aka that visually impaired peep

              I just tried to use mine the other day. PACE Paratransit, in the Chicago Suburbs, wanted me to be ready at 6:30 for an 8:30 jury duty appearance. Plus there were undertones of “oh, you’re so close you could walk!” to the call.

              Um… no. Said courthouse is a 33 minute / 1.7 miles away. Yes, I can walk it. No, I don’t want to and you shouldn’t be pushing it. Thank everything for Uber which I really should just use in the first place and F the paratransit service.

              Reply
          2. Artemesia

            Blunt is the way to go as in ‘this is a wheel chair fitted fan to transport disabled relatives’ and adding the suggestion to redefine 100% car free as 100% free of non essential vehicles.

            Reply
            1. Zillah

              No, because the OP isn’t disabled and they’re not holding her to different expectations just because of her family members’ disabilities.

              Reply
              1. Slow Gin Lizz

                OP is primary caregiver to two disabled people, though. I suppose it doesn’t necessary fall under ADA compliance but it sure should.

                Reply
              1. Slept at holiday inn express

                Actually, you are wrong. 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a)…(b)(4) “No covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in
                regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment….excluding or otherwise denying equal jobs or benefits to a qualified individual because of
                the known disability of an individual with whom the qualified individual is known to have a relationship or association”.

                Translation, if they in any way punish OP, solely based on her refusing to get rid of a vehicle that is needed for her to care for family members who are disabled, then they are in violation of ADA.

                Reply
                1. Specialk9

                  Ooh, good job finding that language! Ding ding!

                  OP, get them to give you their demand in writing, then forward it to your personal email.

                  Then you can go to HR with an ADA complaint, which gives you protection from retaliatory firing, and let’s you sue for a settlement if they fire you anyway.

        5. BeautifulVoid

          I’m going to make a bit of a sweeping generalization here, but it seems to me that people who are so hyperfocused on environmentalism probably skew liberal in a lot of other ways, and I’d be making a lot of noise about how AGEIST and ABLEIST it is to suggest removing a tool that OP’s family members rely on to maintain their quality of life. It’s possible that they’re assholes and still won’t care, but maybe in addition to being blunt, throwing out some trendy buzzwords* might also help reframe it for them and help them see that it really isn’t an option.

          (*I realize “trendy buzzwords” does sound kind of belittling and downplays the significance of ageist and ableist issues, but my coffee hasn’t totally kicked in yet and I couldn’t think of anything better at the moment.)

          Reply
          1. Jadelyn

            “Keywords” perhaps?

            Unfortunately I’m not sure I share your optimism, though. I’ve experienced too much ableism/ageism and lack of accessibility concern in progressive spaces to expect that reminding them how ableist/ageist they’re being would help, even if these people would define themselves as progressives in general. :(

            Reply
            1. Fortitude Jones

              Exactly. “Progressive” doesn’t mean “devoid of all bias.” The sad fact is, no matter how “good” people believe they are, we all have blind spots, especially when confronted with issues that don’t normally affect us personally.

              Reply
            2. BeautifulVoid

              “Keywords” is better, thank you!

              And you may be right, but who knows, OP might have some success turning this into the Woke Olympics if her employers still don’t respond to the more obvious straightforward options :-\

              Reply
            3. Anon anon anon

              Same here! Some of the worst I’ve seen has been from people whose stated politics are against such things. It’s like they know they’re horrible people and they intentionally use the “progressive” thing as a cover for it.

              Reply
              1. Anion

                Look what’s happening in Hollywood, with all those people who love to scold the rest of us about how sexist and misogynist etc. we all are.

                Reply
          2. Queen of the File

            I agree that it could be quite helpful to speak in these terms.

            If they’re so focused on that 100% message they just need to shift it slightly. “100% of our staff has committed to living an environmentally friendly lifestyle through actions such as… ” or “All staff capable of taking transit or cycling/walking instead of owning a car have made the switch” etc.

            It’s so weird that they see giving up car ownership as the only way to commit to this!

            Reply
            1. MerciMe

              “Through actions such as…” is such a great way to approach this! But honestly, where is the OP’s EEO office in all this? I’m sure laws vary by location, but is there a possibility the OP is entitled to protection as the primary carer for two disabled people?

              It also occurs to me – who is on the car title itself? If the OP doesn’t own the car but regularly drives it to assist disabled relatives who do own the car, is that different?

              Reply
          3. Specialk9

            Oh it’s absolutely ageism and ableism, with a good sprinkling of classism.

            You could make your point by handing them a homemade meme.
            *Picture: cousin in wheelchair, being lifted into adapted van; elderly father on walker ready to board; you helping.
            *Caption: something pithy, like “[Company] forces all employees to go car free… Even if it leaves disabled relatives stranded. Nice values there, [Company]”

            Ask them if they really want this to be their public value statement.

            /uh, btw, this is a hardball tactic. May not win you friends. But they’re awful, so…

            Reply
            1. Jadelyn

              TBH I could see legit putting this out on social media, regardless of whether they back down or not. Create a hashtag. See if you can get it to go viral, make it onto Buzzfeed, etc. Any company that’s going to take this kind of invasive, bullying action against an employee for ANY reason forfeits their right to keep their actions private – and that goes double or triple when what they’re doing is overtly -ist on multiple axes.

              Reply
      2. namelesscommentator

        I’m wondering if there’s financial incentive for reaching the goal somehow – nothing else explains their determination for 100% compliance.

        Reply
      3. AnonForNow

        I loath the word ‘optics’ but I would be tempted to use a wording like “I’m concerned about the optics of jepodising the lives and wellbeing of disabled and elderly people for a 100% success rate? How is that going to look to [higher ups/donors/the press]?” Like seriously? This is the sort of thing that could blow up in the company’s face on a massive scale. “The company harassed me for months until I felt my job was on the line if I didn’t give up my cousins disability vehicle, then I wasn’t able to get to them during a crisis because my commute took three hours.” Or “elderly man injured because local company forced his carer to scrap their vehicle.” Its the sort of thing local news would lap up.

        Reply
        1. Specialk9

          Boss, I thought you might want to know what customers would think about this situation, if it went public. (Link to AAM)

          Reply
  5. Sunshine Brite

    How inappropriate of them! You don’t just give up a specially outfitted vehicle. You just don’t. The commute alone would be a deterrent from me giving up my vehicle even without the additional information. I’m shocked they even got the participation rate that they did.

    Reply
    1. EddieSherbert

      +100

      Even if I could reasonably take public transportation, I wouldn’t give up my car because my boss/company “wants me to”. That’s my choice, thank you very much.

      Reply
      1. Lindsay J

        Exactly.

        I got annoyed with the amount of justification in the letter showing that this was just not possible for her to do – not annoyed at the OP, but with the people who have convinced her that this is something she needs to justify to her employer.

        Owning a vehicle is very much in the range of normal adult behaviors in America. It’s not like she’s working for animal conservationists and then big game hunting on her vacation, or working at a domestic violence shelter after being accused of assault. Or like posting anti-environment rhetoric online. She’s just… existing.

        Like seriously? You know what would be even greener than not owning a car? Not owning a car and also living in a shack in the woods without electricity, heat, or running water and using rags instead of toilet paper that you wash with captured rain water in barrels outside (and the house doesn’t have a lawn because those are bad for the environment, too) and eating only what you can grow naturally.

        I mean I am sure there are people that live like that. I am sure some of them are in the United States, and that some/most of them probably enjoy living like that.

        But that’s not reasonable to ask someone to do at all – and especially not as part of their job (unless you’re like a research scientist or doing the Peace Corps or something like that where the circumstances really do require it. And even then you would consider that possibility long before you were facing it and would decide whether that job/career was an option for you based on knowing you would be living in those circumstances.)

        Asking someone to give up their personal vehicle – whether they absolutely need it or not – is not reasonable either.

        Reply
    2. Cercis

      I kinda wonder if the participation rate they have is because people just shifted the car out of their own name into their spouse’s name. I mean, living in the downtown core could make it easier to give up the car, but it seems like some would still need it.

      Reply
      1. Xarcady

        I was wondering that, too. It seems odd to me that so many people are able and willing to just give up their cars. Having lived for many years without a car, everything takes longer on public transport. Getting stuff like large bags of cat litter home is not easy on a bus. There are places you want/need to get to that aren’t easily accessible by public transportation–and I live in a area with pretty good public transportation.

        Now that I have a car, I doubt I’ll go back to being car free until I can’t drive anymore. I’m happily car-light, in that I take the subway to work, but I can drive to my brother’s house in 35 minutes, much less than the 2.5 hours each way it takes on public transportation.

        Reply
        1. Artemesia

          I live in a walkable downtown core of a big city and use public transportation for most things. But I have no way to pick my grandchild up from school or do similar things without a car even in a city with good transport. It is either Uber, cab or having a car for occasional use.

          Reply
          1. Specialk9

            I am a giant critic of this company in every way… But many criticisms of going car free are solvable (though not all!). Mr Money Mustache has great posts on the topic (focused on the US), and, I mean, almost all of Holland and China manages it. I’m not saying people should go car-free, just that there are often more options than people realize.

            Kitty litter delivery, do Peapod. (It’s comparably priced to supermarkets, though not for the tightest budgets.)

            Car and van sharing is totally a thing, with Lyft* as a backup. (Though not disabled – there are services for that but I’ve heard many complaints.)

            Biking is more of an option than people realize, esp with motor adapters for uphills.

            http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/tag/cars/

            *I’m sorry, Uber is too vile for me to allow them be shorthand for communal taxi service

            Reply
            1. Xarcady

              Biking in a lot of major cities is not safe. I love to ride my bike, but would never commute in Boston, for example. I’ve had too many drivers of cars deliberately drive very close to my bike–it’s been clear it wasn’t accidental. Winter weather is not conducive to bike riding, either.

              Peapod costs money.

              I take my car out probably once a week to do all my errands. If I’m going to be hounded about that by environmentalists, it will *not* make me eager to do more to save the environment.

              Reply
              1. Specialk9

                Apparently you didn’t read my comment, or are responding to someone else and it nested badly.

                You have my blessing to continue driving, as will I.

                But actually, Peapod really isn’t bad, at $8/delivery (are you thinking of Instacart, which runs around $30/trip?), with prices roughly the same as in-store. It can actually save money if you’re someone who usually impulse buys, like me. I’ve already granted that it’s not for the tightest budgets, so, you know, lots of people but not all, as I said.

                Yeah, bike safety is a real thing, I’ve seen several dead bike commuters. (But again, I was really clear that my comment wasn’t for everyone.) I had to stop bike commuting here because my route was utterly terrifying, whereas in my previous location there were bike trails all over and a local commitment to bike commuting. So, you know, lots of people but not all, as I said.

                But I biked just fine in winter weather. Lots of people do. So, you know, lots of people but not all, as I said.

                And, uh, I’m not even remotely hounding you to stop driving. That is weirdly personal of you, I couldn’t care less about your choices.

                My entire point was that from reading comments here, one would think that there are no options other than car, and that’s not true, there are lots of options, and I’ve personally tried and been successful at many of them. They’re not for everyone – as I said ad nauseum – but they’re options for many. That’s literally all the point I’m making.

                Reply
                1. TL -

                  So when I lived in Boston: car not necessary. Nice but not necessary.
                  Lived in Austin: Car not necessary as long as you never wanted to leave downtown/central Austin (and you could live quite happily doing that and access daily necessities via bus/bike/walking/you definitely knew someone with a car.)
                  When I went to college in San Antonio: car not necessary on-campus … probably not absolutely necessary off-campus but I’ve never been even tempted to try and I like using public transit.

                  Those are the cities. You can make it work in the cities. In small towns/midsized towns/rural America – which is a large, large, large part of the country – not having a car or not being able to drive is a significant impediment to doing normal everyday things. I think people are annoyed because you’re not so much striking a blow for carlessness as ignoring everybody who doesn’t live in a major city.

                2. Jadelyn

                  TBH, I think this falls under “does this point really need to be made right now?” rules. Carlessness may be a valid and doable life choice for many people. That’s fantastic – but it’s not what we’re talking about right now, and in this context it winds up sounding a bit scoldy against people who are just talking about the realities they personally experience in their lives. “Well, *you* can’t – but here are ways that other people can!” is not going to be received well in this type of conversation, and since this wasn’t a referendum on the car-free lifestyle in the first place, I don’t know that I quite get why it seems so important to you to keep weighing in on the “pro-carlessness” side.

            2. Elizabeth H.

              There are a lot of other societal and environmental disadvantages to getting everything delivered as opposed to using a car for errands.

              Reply
            3. TL -

              All of those options pretty much disappear if you don’t live in/near a major city. Holland is geographically small and dense and China’s population, especially the rural parts, have a much different quality of/lifestyle than the US.
              The town where I grew up, there’s no delivery -not even for pizza -, no Lyft, no car sharing program, and the nearest grocery store is 12 miles away on a highway, no sidewalks, in South Texas. That’s if you lived in town, not on a ranch or farm.

              Reply
              1. Anion

                Yes. Holland is considerably more compact and China is just very different, period. What’s feasible there is not necessarily feasible here.

                I’ll give up my car when they pry it from my cold dead hands, frankly. My car is my independence, and driving relaxes me/is a stress reliever and something I enjoy doing. I’m an adult and an American and I’ll own a car if I damn well feel like it, and no employer or anyone else is going to tell me I can’t.

                (Sorry. This “companies dictating out-of-work behavior” thing, especially something like this, really makes me angry–actually, anyone dictating my behavior makes me angry, heh. Who tf are they to tell me what I can and cannot own?)

                Reply
              2. Specialk9

                Guys, which part of “there are more options than these 2 that everyone is fixating on, but they don’t work for everyone” is so hard? I couldn’t give two figs if you guys drive, and I’m not judging anyone. I’m simply saying that it’s not a binary choice, and there are options. I’ve tried many of them, and they can work for some situations.

                Oh never mind. Fine, you’re all evil for having cars, stop now, or else the demigorgon will eat you. Boo.

                Reply
                1. TL -

                  “But many criticisms of going car free are solvable (though not all!). Mr Money Mustache has great posts on the topic (focused on the US), and, I mean, almost all of Holland and China manages it. I’m not saying people should go car-free, just that there are often more options than people realize.”

                  Most criticisms of going car free actually aren’t solvable unless you live in a major city with good public transit and convenience options – so basically not solvable for a large percentage of the US population. This isn’t a “not everyone can eat sandwiches” situation; this is that “solvable” aspect doesn’t apply to a large swath of the USA population.

                2. Anion

                  Which part of “I’m making a random comment about my own car right after quickly agreeing with TL that Holland and China aren’t good comparisons to most of the US,” is so hard for you?

                  I’m not asking for your permission to own a car, nor am I justifying my reasons for doing so to you. I simply made a statement regarding the subject of the letter, which was backed up by my parenthetical comment referring specifically to the letter and how my previous statement related to it. My last two paragraphs actually had nothing to do with your comment at all. I didn’t think you were trying to make me give up my car or whatever, I just think you can’t compare most of the US to China or Holland. Heck, I lived in England for almost ten years and I needed a car where we lived because public transport was spotty, unreliable, and expensive–it’s not all like London or the big cities/outskirts, with trains and regular buses.

                  I’m sorry it bothers you so much when people disagree with you, but it certainly wasn’t intended to be a personal insult.

            4. Dove

              As someone else pointed out, Peapod costs money. And the kitty litter is only one aspect – one of my friends lives in Australia, in an area with good public transport, and she relies heavily on buses to get around. It’s impossible for her to bring home more than one or two bags of groceries at a time, unless she’s got someone with her to help carry things, and anything that’s awkward to carry or heavy has to wait until there’s someone with a car who’s willing to give her a ride to do those errands. The net result is that she ends up having to go to the grocery store more often and can’t do bulk purchases.

              Reply
              1. Specialk9

                I do Peapod specifically for chronic health issues, and your idea about the cost just isn’t in line with my experience. It’s really not that expensive, unless the budget is really tight, and they carry all the heavy stuff up your stairs and bring it into your kitchen. It’s an $8 charge for someone to pick and deliver your groceries, right into your kitchen.

                Granted it is not available or affordable to everyone, which I freely granted in my original comment. So… Yes, we all agree?

                Reply
            1. crochetaway

              Unless you have a kid. Then you are installing a car seat everytime you use it. It may work for some people, but not for all. And it really only works if a) it’s available in your area, b) is easy to get to, c) is a vehicle that can accommodate someone with disabilities/big enough to put a wheelchair in. Which is what the original post is about, right? I’ve used zip-car in the past, and it’s nice, but it wouldn’t accommodate a large motorized wheelchair.

              Reply
        2. Rainy

          We don’t own a car right now–we both bike or take transit to work, and use a car-share for things like shopping, and while my workplace is very green and wants us to commit to using alternate transportation X times per month etc, I still have had problems in the past with expectations around making it to offsite stuff, usually opti-mended type stuff like team-building activities or team retreats and local conferences. Everyone thinks it’s “so great” that we don’t own a car, I’m a model for the office etc…but there’s not a lot of acknowledgement that it actually does make some things a lot harder.

          Reply
      2. Property Manager

        This is exactly what I was thinking — they didn’t give up the cars, they just don’t drive them to work. If I didn’t need to actually drive for my job, I’d ride my bike to work. I live close enough, and I could use the exercise. But I would never in a million years expect my coworkers who live in other cities to give up driving to the office if they didn’t want to.

        Reply
        1. Specialk9

          I thought that too. So long as someone starts showing up in sweaty spandex with a bike wheel in hand, who’s going to check that the car was actually sold? “Yeah boss, I got a great deal on it too, this is the best lifestyle.” [Drives car to the mountains to go hiking and kayaking]

          Reply
    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Unfortunately, my workplace does this, too (minus the boundary transgressing re: disability accommodation). They refuse to believe their staff live outside of town and thus cannot get to work by any means other than car (there’s no transit and it’s impossible to bike). And their staff live 10+ miles outside town because there’s an affordable housing shortage. Instead, folks with more money receive financial rewards for not driving, and those with less are heavily penalized (steep tickets, parking spaces eliminated every tear, ever-increasing parking permit rates that are intended to disincentive PV use, public shaming, regular haranguing, etc.).

      But because they get high buy-in from their peers, they think the program works. It’s head-meet-wall inducing.

      Reply
      1. paul

        That sounds absolutely infuriating. I’ve never lived in an area with functional mass transit so I’m pretty wedded to my car–not as an extension of me but because [i]I kind of need one[/i]! Are they otherwise good or are they pretty crappy in other areas?

        Reply
        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          I think it depends on your job classification. If you’re rank-and-file staff, then parking sucks, but folks in (unionized) admin support without a college education receive excellent, above-market compensation and benefits. If you’re high-level admin or their equivalent, you get all sorts of perks, like free parking permits, designated parking spaces, professional development funding, and assistance in securing a home in town—these folks actually live nearby, though, and have the least need for parking assistance.

          If you’re in the vast majority of other job categories, even those that are unionized, you’re compensated at slightly below market for the public sector, and you absorb a lot of “invisible” costs for working there with no real perks. I would estimate that about 60–65% of the staff fall into this category (this is the group that’s least likely to live in town, as well).

          Reply
        1. Jadelyn

          Diesel V8 engine. Enormous exhaust stacks. I’m in. I don’t have a pickup truck, but I can bring my sporty little V6 and do donuts in their parking lot, which is almost as obnoxious.

          Reply
      2. Jadelyn

        Executive: *proposes a plan that will benefit people at their level while harming the peons*
        Roomful of executives: Yes that sounds like an amazing idea!
        All the executives, later: Wait why are the peons all mad at us?

        It’s like overdraft fees. Yes, let’s financially penalize the people who already don’t have enough money, because that makes sense.

        Reply
        1. Artemesia

          Or my personal favorite, let’s take the driver’s licenses and professional licenses away from people who are behind on their student loans because that will help them get those suckers paid off.

          Reply
          1. Jadelyn

            Oh my god, yes, I just saw something about that yesterday. My head almost exploded. I wanted to scream at the article, HOW DOES THIS MAKE SENSE??? WHAT PART OF “THEY CAN’T PAY YOU BACK IF THEY CAN’T F***ING WORK” ARE YOU NOT GETTING HERE???

            Which of course just shows that stuff like that isn’t about recouping public monies or whatever justification they’re using for “aggressive tactics” against borrowers in default. It’s entirely and solely punitive in nature. “You’re not able to pay us enough money? Then we’re going to ruin your life as revenge.”

            Reply
            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              Yes! There was a great story in the NYT about it. They’re also freezing people’s cars if there’s a late payment on their car using OnStar and other remote technologies. It’s insane.

              Reply
          2. Amazed

            Holy balls. Never mind the loss of revenue for the “offender”, this doesn’t even directly benefit the state that I can see, not even in the short term.

            This is the kind of law I would love to hear someone defend, to be honest. Either they give an actual good explanation, and my knowledge of the topic has gone up, or they give a bad one, and hopefully I’m at least amused.

            Reply
            1. Creag an Tuire

              I mean, it’s bad politics to say it out loud, but it’s the same reason loan sharks will break your kneecaps — the point isn’t to get the money from you anymore, it’s to remind everyone else that we will Absolutely Ruin Your Life if you default, so you’d better do everything you can think of to pay up. It’s a horribly cruel and vicious sort of logic, but logic it is.

              Reply
            1. OhNo

              I’ve heard of a couple places – South Dakota springs to mind, since they take away drivers’ licenses. But a couple other states suspend professional certifications and licenses, too.

              Reply
              1. JessaB

                They also do it for child support. So way to go get money from non responsive parents, by making them unable to work at all. No way to garnish a paycheque if there IS NONE.

                Reply
                1. Anon for This

                  This happens in Texas and happened to my sister, which I cannot understand in the least. How does this make an ounce of sense?

          3. Jam Today

            I used to know a guy who got into a hole with child support payments (which was his fault, no leniency from me there), so the state threatened to pull his drivers license. Wanna know what he did for work?

            He drove a cab.

            Reply
      3. Ghost Town

        My workplace does this, to some extent. It’s a university with a decent number of faculty and students who do live close enough to walk, bike, or use the public transit that is actually quite decent in the core of the city and campus. However, there is also a large population of staff (professional, support, and maintenance – definitely not making faculty money) who live outside these core areas and even outside the county. I used to live the next county over and was not about to walk or bike 20 miles one way on heavily traveled two lanes road to work, esp. not with my son when he was a baby.

        There are ever increasing initiatives and surveys to push people to carpool or take alternate transportation and to reduce the parking spots (and increase the permit price) that just don’t take into account that many people simply can’t get to campus reliably w/o a car. To say nothing of events and work that needs to take place after hours or when school is not in session (the campus and city buses run reduced schedules and eliminate some service when classes aren’t in session).

        Reply
      4. LA

        Stuff like this makes me want to know who these companies are so they can be loudly denounced for treating their staff so appallingly.

        Reply
    4. Wendy Darling

      Seriously, like, I don’t have any kind of family or medical reason to need my car but I wouldn’t give it up because of some work initiative. I love my car and I have stuff I use it for that isn’t feasible to do by transit or taxi (it would be $30+ each way every time I wanted to drop by to see my parents, for instance, as they live in the woods and the bus runs nowhere near them. And can you imagine taking a sick dog to the vet by bus or taxi?)

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        This. I love my car. She is my pride and joy. I like working on her, I go on drives on the back roads near my home for fun and stress relief, she makes my commute a short window of relaxation before getting to work and when I leave. I don’t technically *need* a car, I suppose, although I wouldn’t care to do the walk from the nearest bus stop to my house at night during the winter – but I like my car, I spent a not insignificant amount of money (for me) on her, and I genuinely enjoy having a car. No employer gets to tell me I have to give up something I love like that, just for the sake of being able to say they have ~~~100% participation~~~.

        Reply
        1. Wendy Darling

          Yup. I work from home or bus to work because parking is outrageously expensive where my office is, and I live easy walking distance from grocery stores, restaurants, and coffee shops so I walk for most of my errands.

          Environmentally my transportation situation is pretty exemplary. Most of the stuff I currently use my car for I’d end up using taxis or lyft for because they’re not feasible to do via walking or public transit, so it’s not like my carbon footprint would go DOWN (it’d probably go up because my car is tiny and fuel-efficient). I’d end up asking my parents to drive me places, so they’d have to drive to me, then drive me to where I needed to go, then drive home.

          Even if you ignore the fact that I just straight up like my car, me giving it up would not actually be helpful.

          Reply
      2. SpaceySteph

        My husband and I have a combined 4 cars. 2 daily drivers, an SUV for recreational use and heavy hauling, and my husband’s project car. We don’t live in a public-transit friendly area, but even if we did I’d still want the car for bringing home furniture and cases of beer and going on camping trips, etc.
        On a visit to Manhattan I definitely saw someone hauling an ikea bookshelf onto the subway. No freaking way.

        Reply
        1. Rainy

          I’ve definitely hauled large items on transit. It’s a little annoying but as long as you have plenty of time to kill on changes and a stop quite close to your house, it’s doable. Easier in a city with rail, though!

          Reply
    5. mdv

      Not to mention the cost of actually outfitting the vehicle? Who’s going to reimburse OP for the loss of that significant investment?

      Reply
      1. Anon for job seeking question

        Wheelchair vans are SO EXPENSIVE. My husband and I are trying to save up because we need one for our son (we needed it, like, yesterday, but holy cow they are pricey). When we finally are able to get one, you will not be able to convince to me to give up for any reason at all, ever. Spend $50k on a (used, even!) wheelchair van and then give it up because some a-hole tells me “but we want to be greeeeeeeeeeeeennnnnn”? Big old nope.

        Reply
        1. JessaB

          Yeh and since it’s so expensive now all the agencies that used to give grants for that kind of thing, are broke. My sister in law has hip girdle muscular distrophy and needs equipment, one of those hydraulic lift things to get her in and out of a bathtub, been on a waiting list over a year. I don’t even want to think what the waiting list would be like for a van if they even offer them any more.

          Reply
          1. Sunshine Brite

            My old job dealt with that and it’s a major problem with the ability to get that sort of work done since there are very few vendors.

            Reply
        2. Natalie

          You probably know about this but just in case you don’t, there are various state grant programs for wheelchair accessible vehicles! Might be helpful.

          Reply
  6. Myrin

    People will never cease to astound me. What even.

    OP, stand your ground with Alison’s excellent scripts, but honestly, it sounds like it might be jobsearching time (which only you know, of course – maybe there are excellent benefits to working there which you wouldn’t get anywhere else).

    Reply
  7. Brandy

    What the Hell? Who does this? I get wanting to be environmental but still, no. Don’t intrude into my personal life work.
    Also this is so a no go for me. I have 2 cars myself. The trade in on my older car was worth less then its worth to me as a back up car for when mine needs work, etc. Plus I move it around at the house to make it look like someone is home during the day.

    Reply
  8. I get that

    Alison – could this be considered a hostile work environment if this continues? Which should allow OP to at least get unemployment if she loses/gives up her job?

    Reply
          1. Meyers and Briggs are not real doctors

            I think when I was taking care of a family member (mom’s a nurse who was disabled for a time) I was told I was covered as I was her primary caregiver, had power of attorney and all necessary documents, and I was paid by the state to care for her. I had a teacher in college who wanted to doc me for having 3 absences in one semester, even tho prof was told it was for an un-reschedulable medical appointment for my mom. I was told the school had to work with me on that.

            (And seriously, profs taking attendance? I went to a tiny community college and was told that’s the norm at small colleges. What a load of crap, taking attendance for college kids! Besides the point but wanted to interject how stupid it was.)

            I never had problems at work being accomodated for caring for my mom and shuffling her to all her appointments.

            Most profs were happy to help – she was in hospice and not looking good for a while, so since I was at the hospital/hospice every day they worked with me so I could be there for a time most evenings, and got to do lab work for a class with a different prof in the mornings instead.

            So just wanted to say, I was basically covered by the ADA, as far as I knew and was told by my mom’s doctors. I asked this after we got all the paperwork for the different power of attorney documents done at the hospital.

            The patient advocate at any hospital/medical facility should be able to answer this for you, and what rights you have as a caregiver.

            Reply
            1. Meyers and Briggs are not real doctors

              (Also I went to college in my late 20s so it was particularly rediculous to me, the attendance thing that is, but I digress)

              Reply
              1. Hope

                Taking attendance was standard for most classes at my big state university too, but we were also allowed 3 unexcused absences without penalty (if you missed a quiz or whatever, you couldn’t make it up, but that’s part of what you get for skipping out). But even with that policy, as long as you gave the profs a heads up beforehand, they’d count it as excused and let you make stuff up. No one I know ever had a problem with being out for anything legit.

                I think you had a shitty, stickler-for-the-rules prof.

                The attendance rules most colleges have now is partly a CYA on their own part and for the adjuncts/profs, because some students will skip class, fail out, and try to blame it on the prof. Also, failure rates are more and more tied directly to funding for each dept., so they have to have some way to account for the students who never show up but don’t withdraw and fail out. I think most profs would love to never have to take attendance and let the individual student decide how much s/he wants to be in the class, but nowadays the huge push is for metrics/measurement of learning outcomes, and so everyone has to deal with crap like this.

                But yeah, that sounds supremely sucky on the part of your teacher.

                …and I’ll shut up now so as not to derail any further.

                Reply
                1. The Adjunct Chronicles

                  In my college, attendance has to be taken and reported to the school for financial aid purposes. If a student misses so many classes, their financial aid can be pulled, and then they have to pay their tuition that semester!

                  Sorry Alison, just had to make this notation.

        1. ADA Person

          Actually, the ADA may come into play since they are “encouraging” the OP to give up their van all together. IANAL, but I am one of the ADA coordinators at the agency responsible for enforcing the ADA in my state, and unfortunately employment discrimination complaints are pretty common.
          The first thing of note here is that the initiative in and of itself, while it may be well-intentioned, becomes discriminatory the second it becomes mandatory-so if OP’s employers take any action against them, there is an issue. This is because a policy like this is more likely to have a negative effect on individuals with disabilities than on individuals without, and they are more likely to be penalized for not being able to comply. The second thing to note is that the ADA protects any individuals that are discriminated against because of their relationship or association with an individual with a disability. Reading OP’s letter, my first thought is that this is an employment discrimination claim waiting to happen-OP cannot comply with a (supposedly voluntary) initiative because of their association with two individuals with disabilities, and if there is any fallout because of this non-compliance, OP becomes a protected class.
          That being said…federal law only cares about employers with 15 or more employees, although OP’s state may have lowered that number under state law. I would recommend contacting their ADA enforcement agency if the harassment doesn’t stop-sometimes a phone call from that entity is all that is needed.

          Reply
            1. ADA Person

              Generally, yes…although depending on funding sources and/or how their priority areas are defined, income may not come into play. For example, some agencies are supposed to focus X amount of staff hours on housing, X amount on employment, X amount on education, and so on. So they may prioritize helping low-income families, but if the staff hours for that category have been expended already, they may still be unable to help. That being said, each state is different, and most of them spread the caseload around a bit (i.e. first someone goes to an enforcement agency like mine, which doesn’t have lawyers but does have enforcement authority; if it looks like it will become a legal battle, or is outside of our purview, we send them to the FHA entity, Disability Law Center, EEOC output, and so on).

              Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Unfortunately, not under federal law. There are a handful of states that protect caregivers, but usually not for the kind of conduct OP is enduring.

      Reply
    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      The ADA prevents discrimination against an employee based on their caregiver status, but doesn’t require the employer to provide accommodations to help an employee care for a disabled family member. So my hunch is that that’s not a legal remedy here, although it’s possible there’s something legal in play in a state law that I haven’t considered.

      Regardless, I don’t think that’s the avenue for the OP to pursue anyway. I would go with the language in the post and force them to say if it will impact the OP’s job, because I suspect that when forced to give a blunt yes or no, they’ll say no.

      Reply
      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

        If they make noise about disciplining the OP, though, would that trigger that caregiver protection? Or is the link too tenuous, since it’s the car and not technically the caregiving itself that’s at issue?

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          The ADA would only prevent them from treating her differently because of the relatives’ disabilities (for example, firing her because they figure she’ll need more time off if a relative is getting sicker), but it wouldn’t stop them from requiring her to comply with the car-free initiative.

          Reply
          1. Susana

            I get that, about the ADA. But how can they legally require her to get rid of her car? This sounds like the employer who wanted to require workers to refrain from associating in public with people who consumed alcoholic beverages. They can pressure and shame, but what gives them the authority to decide how she spends her time away from work?

            Reply
          2. Stayed at HI express

            I think, according to statute, the company punishing her in any way for being caregiver is illegal. She has stated clearly the vehicle is needed to take dependents with medical issues to appointments. While they can absolutely disallow parking on their property, most judges would, I believe find any punishment for the mere act of owning a vehicle- one she must have for her caregiver role- to be a violation of the reasonable accomadation clause. After all, their allowing her to own property to care for her sick family member is not harming the company in any significant way. Again, it is reasonable for them to say you cannot park on their property but not to punish her over the ownership of the vehicle.

            Reply
    3. just another day

      Unfortunately “hostile work environment” doesn’t mean what most workers think it means. It can be an awful, hostile place to work, but without actual violations toward and based on workers who are in a protected class, there is no such thing as a hostile work environment legally otherwise.

      Reply
  9. Brandy

    And they should accept the No. Its ridiculous. You ask me to do something crazy, I say no. The End. I shouldn’t have to explain myself.

    Reply
  10. TallTeapot

    What the actual F? What is wrong with these people? I support environmental causes as much as the next liberal, but this is beyond the pale.
    Are you in a place to look for another job, LW? If they won’t let up, and Alison’s script doesn’t work (or when you lay it out, they say “yes, this will affect your employment here”), you might want to be thinking about starting to job hunt.
    Ugh. Jerks.

    Reply
    1. k.k

      I’m so horrified by this letter, and even more horrified that I think that “yes, this will affect your employment here” could be a possible response. How would OP even handle that? “So, you’re saying that if I don’t get rid of the van that is necessary to take care of my disabled family members that you’ll fire me?” “Are you saying that you’re going to fire me because I’m the care giver to my disabled relative?”

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I think it’s actually pretty unlikely that’ll be the answer. Possible, sure, but not likely. I think this this is most likely to fall in the category of “something your employer will pressure you to do but won’t actually put teeth behind if you refuse.”

        Reply
        1. paul

          Maybe, but there’s lots of little ways an aggressive manager can make your work life miserable without it impacting your WPR’s.

          Reply
      2. Hey Karma, Over here.

        I think there will be trickle down. I think people will treat LW differently. And I think LW should be aware of this.

        Reply
  11. MuseumChick

    Sometimes I think we need a new category on AAM titled “Work Place Initiatives Gone Wrong”

    It is incredibly unkind and invasive of your company to keep putting pressure on you and frankly, if I were in your shoes I would be job hunting.

    I’m sorry your company/boss/grand boss is being such an ass about this. The evil side of me wants to tell you that the next time this comes up you should look your boss dead in the eye and say “Ok, I will IF the company agrees to pay for a private car service for my *disabled* relatives to get to and from where they need to go at all times. Is that something you can do?”

    But I don’t want you do get fired. So, yeah, don’t say that.

    Reply
      1. AdAgencyChick

        I wouldn’t. What if they take OP up on it because they’re that coocoobananas, and then OP’s relatives have transportation but she is still stuck taking three buses to work?

        (Or, worse, they take OP up on it, she sells the van, and then they fail to follow through!)

        Reply
        1. EddieSherbert

          Yeah, if OP isn’t legitimately OK with them calling that bluff (and selling the van. taking the bus, and using a chair service for their cousin/Grandpa), I wouldn’t say this.

          I don’t think they WOULD call that bluff, but just in case!

          Reply
        2. LCL

          I wouldn’t either. Because what will happen is the company will say sure, and give her some credits/vouchers/however that works in cyberspace for Uber and other rideshares and consider it solved. I have seen a rideshare driver tell a fare they wouldn’t accept her because she had a service dog and she could just call another driver, nevermind that she had an appointment.

          Reply
          1. PepperVL

            If that happens and is reported to the rideshare service, the driver won’t be driving for them anymore. I drive for both Lyft and Uber as a side gig, and they both have made it very clear that refusing a service dog – no matter why – is grounds for being immediately kicked off the platform.

            That doesn’t mean they can’t try, of course, but anyone with a service animal should report out if they are refused a ride. The platforms don’t allow that.

            Reply
            1. A grad student

              Not to get too far off-topic, but, really? I’m all in favor of service dogs being accommodated whenever possible, but I know bunches of people who are allergic, and dog hair gets everywhere and is IMPOSSIBLE (well, with my vacuum anyway) to remove from lots of cars. Like, those are the drivers’ personal cars- it seems insane to make allergic drivers risk their health and/or pay for expensive professional cleaning to get the dog hair removed, or get kicked from being able to drive at all.

              Reply
    1. Purplesaurus

      This was such a broken initiative to begin with, especially considering it had a single, COLOSSALLY INVASIVE measure of success.

      Reply
    2. Falling Diphthong

      This does remind me of the bosses who want everyone to bond by running 10Ks and climbing cliffs and sky-diving, and view any reluctance to participate as being “not a team player” rather than “a person with a disability that, while it doesn’t impact sitting at a desk, rules out cliff climbing.”

      Which is why I think blunt bluntness is the way to go. “I hear you saying that you want me to move to the city core, rely on public transit, and have my grandfather and cousin use expensive private wheelchair transit. Are you willing to directly rent me an apartment and directly pay for my relatives’ expensive private transit, to make this possible?”

      Reply
      1. CMF

        Tangentially related, but I worked for a family-owned company that set aside a not-insignificant amount of money to help subsidize things for the employees to do to things to benefit our health and/or the environment.

        One of the employees tried to organize a farm share to be delivered weekly in the summer, but in order for them to agree to put any money towards it, she had to achieve an unreasonably high number of people to sign up – like 60% of the company or something. When she couldn’t do that, they told her they wouldn’t even allow our office to be a drop-off point for the people who wanted to sign up regardless. She asked them what the budget they kept talking about was for, if not encouraging employees to eat healthier and support local farmers? And they told her it was for fees for half-marathons and bike races, etc.

        A member of the owner’s family did both. He was essentially the only person in the company getting to use this budget.

        Reply
    3. Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way!

      I was thinking a step further…telling them they would need to increase your salary to X in order to ”
      1) Pay for care and car service for your grandfather and cousin
      2) Pay for housing closer to your job so your commute time won’t triple
      3) Allow you to help pay for expenses at the 2nd household that you currently support but had to move from in order to meet this initiative without causing undue hardship to you.
      This so much WTH that I can’t even fathom someone making this request. Arghhhhh!

      Reply
    4. Arya Snark

      I was thinking of something similar = perhaps asking for a brand new customized hybrid or electric vehicle so the needs of both the company and the OP/Op’s family could be accommodated. Shouldn’t cost them more than $60-70K…

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        Bingo. I would seriously ask this, OP. The next time they come to you with this ridiculous request, you can say, “Sure. I will be more than happy to get rid of my vehicle if you will pay for a wheelchair accessible house close by, car service for my disabled relatives to get back and forth to doctors appointments, and increase my salary to be able to cover the increased cost of property taxes, insurance, and maintenance fees. When can I expect my salary increase to go into effect?”

        I guarantee you they’ll stop asking, especially if you have numbers to back up your very reasonable request.

        Reply
        1. Zillah

          But the OP isn’t more than happy to give up her vehicle, and I think it’s really, really unhelpful to suggest that she send them the message that their request is remotely reasonable. At I said below, my mother relies on a wheelchair accessible van, so I may be overly touchy on the subject, but I just don’t see ceding the premise that this is deeply unreasonable with people this screwed up as a good move.

          I have never seen a car service that provides appropriate, consistent, and reliable accommodation for people with the sorts of physical limitations the OP is talking about. Suggesting that money is the only barrier to using it is incredibly problematic.

          Reply
          1. Wannabe Disney Princess

            That’s the whole point. It ISN’T reasonable. When she comes back with the astronomical dollar figure that she absolutely needs, they aren’t going to agree to that. Companies understand money – if they don’t understand anything else, they understand that. Especially when they’re this out of touch with reality.

            Reply
            1. Zillah

              But again – and I’m speaking from the POV of someone whose mother relies on a wheelchair-accessible van – making this about money means implicitly agreeing that the premise (i.e., forcing people with physical limitations to rely on a car service when they had access to a family-owned van) is reasonable. Money isn’t the core issue here, and while yes, companies understand money, that doesn’t mean that it’s helpful to play into their narrative that it’s all about money.

              I mentioned this elsewhere as well, but if the OP takes about money for a car service, I can easily see them telling her that selling the van and not having to pay maintenance will mean that she breaks even.

              Reply
              1. Wannabe Disney Princess

                I truly understand where you’re coming from. But these aren’t people who are going to be sensitive to anyone else’s needs. They’ve demonstrated that by refusing to give up this pointless crusade. And you’re right – for the LW this isn’t about money. But the LW asked how to get her company to stop asking. Appealing to their better nature isn’t going to do it. Hypothetically impacting their bottom line might. It’s terrible that they aren’t more sensitive to people with disabilities. But this isn’t about changing their attitude towards that, it’s getting them to stop begging her to give up the van.

                Honestly, the *best* solution is finding another job that is more supportive.

                And with that, I’m bowing out. We are approaching this from different angles and seeing it from different sides. Which I enjoy! But we’ll keep rehashing the same thing and I don’t want to derail.

                Reply
                1. Fortitude Jones

                  Hypothetically impacting their bottom line might.

                  THIS. I’m assuming this company is continuing on with their fanatical pursuit of this idea because they get some kind of financial incentive once they hit 100% participation. They clearly don’t give a crap about human beings and their issues, but they may realize how stupid they sound once a dollar figure is attached to their ask.

                2. Nita

                  I kind of wonder if the company thinks this is saving them money. Considering they’re in a downtown area, parking must be very expensive. If the company either rents parking, or reimburses the employees for it, the “green” thing could be a front for getting rid of a big expense. If forcing the OP to give up the car looks more expensive, it may become not worth it to them.

          2. Fortitude Jones

            That’s the point – none of this is reasonable. And when OP lays all of this out, hopefully these morons will see how stupid this entire thing sounds. But yes, if OP isn’t comfortable using sarcasm to point out other people’s lunacy, she should go with one of Alison’s scripts.

            Reply
            1. Zillah

              I may be oversensitive to this – as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, my mother has ALS and relies on a wheelchair-accessible van – but I don’t think that using sarcasm is a useful suggestion here, even though I understand the underlying sentiment. The reason this is awful isn’t at its core about money, and if the OP makes it about that, the company will get the message that their request is reasonable if one has the money to solve it. The impulse to be sarcastic here is well well-meaning and understandable, but I think it’s missing the point.

              Reply
    5. Free Meerkats

      Is that something you can do?

      I’d change that to, “Is that something you’d put into an employment contract coupled with enough of a salary increase to allow me to live in your building while maintaining my grandfather’s house?”

      Reply
    6. Zillah

      As someone whose mother has ALS and relies on a wheelchair van, I really, really don’t recommend this. There is no private car service that I’ve experienced that is more convenient and less wearing on a person with a disability than their own car, and there may not be a private car service that can meet the needs of the person at all. Cost aside, a private car service is typically not a reasonable alternative if you can help it, and since the company is clearly being unreasonable, I’m concerned that the mere suggestion that it is could really backfire. “But if you sell your car and don’t have to pay for the upkeep, you’ll totally break even if you have to use a private car service!” could very, very easily be their response.

      Reply
      1. Quackeen

        Agreed, and commenting for visibility. I was a case manager for individuals with disabilities who lived independently, and family-owned vehicles specifically tailored to the individual’s needs are always going to be preferable. Especially in bad weather!

        Reply
    7. KC without the sunshine band

      Or say, “I’ll stop driving the van to work if the additional commuting time is paid time.” LOL

      Reply
    8. Meyers and Briggs are not real doctors

      “Ok, I will IF the company agrees to pay for a private car service for my *disabled* relatives to get to and from where they need to go at all times. Is that something you can do?”

      OP make sure to find the most consistent, reliable, and expensive method possible. Give that “estimate” to your boss, and say that amount it be added onto your salary, for giving up a vehicle.

      This place is obvs bonkers.

      The other argument is: Disabled people reallyreallyreally need vehicles, particularly for emergencies after hours or on weekends, to get to a walk-in or the pharmacy for more supplies or whatever. I had trouble getting the medical shuttle when I was a caregiver because the only service in my area at the time wasn’t super reliable. You were given a two hour window for pickup, sometimes they were late so mom missed her appointment, and then I had to take her after all (after calling in to work/school). PITA!

      So yea, don’t give up your van of course.

      Maybe offer for your boss to buy it , for above fair market blue-book value of course… lol

      Reply
    9. MuseumChick

      Just to clarify, this was supposed to be a ridiculous, sarcastic, *fantasy* response to a ridiculous situations that company putting the OP through.

      As I stated in the original post, the OP should not say this.

      Reply
    1. AnonMinion

      I agree. Sounds like it isn’t going to get any better. Just when I feel like I have heard it all on this site, a letter like this comes in. Just terrible!

      Reply
    2. Meyers and Briggs are not real doctors

      OP, when you find a new job, somehow,if you can, work it into the interview they know this company didn’t give two shits about your dependant disabled family members. You know, the ones that depend on you, in your household. That you care for.

      I’m all for shaming places that pull crap like this.

      Reply
    1. Rusty Shackelford

      And that’s how I’d put it.

      “Let me make sure I understand. This company does NOT support me having the vehicle I need to care for my disabled grandfather and cousin. You want me to get rid of a crucial aid to their DISABILITIES. “

      Reply
      1. MuseumChick

        I really like this framing. OP could tweak it a little to something like,

        “What I’m hearing you say is that my ability to care for my disabled relatives, including getting them to vital medical appointments, is less important than the company’s initiative?”

        Reply
    2. Lady Phoenix

      But don’t you see? The disable use so many resources for their disability. They should try not being disabled or blah blah blah. /massive sarcasm

      Reply
      1. RVA Cat

        Plus if they’re pushing things like bike-to-work, there’s some baked-in ableism and more than a whiff of ageism. Not to mention even young, healthy folks can get hurt.

        Reply
        1. Biff

          Can we also consider safety? My SIL just died in an accident wherein she was on a small motorcycle and she was demolished (I mean she was chunky salsa, no joke) by an SUV. She would have survived were she driving (though honestly, she’d probably have been seriously injured.) A family friend’s husband just died after being likewise demolished while he was bicycling. Using bicycles and motorcycles is more environmental friendly, but cycling isn’t necessarily safe, and at this point, though I love my bicycle, I’m unwilling to get on it and be in traffic.

          Reply
            1. Biff

              I’m afraid I didn’t know her, so it’s only a loss in the sense that I lost the potential to meet her. She was willfully estranged from us. But it illustrates the point that greener solutions aren’t always the best, because we aren’t all on the same page.

              Reply
      2. LBK

        I actually would not be surprised if they think public transportation options will be just as viable because they see that there’s a wheelchair spot or seats reserved for the elderly on the train or whatever, so ergo it’s just as easy for disabled people to get around that way.

        Reply
        1. Meyers and Briggs are not real doctors

          Thank you for pointing this out. When I was a caregiver, there was no way she could use public transport, because the bus was too bumpy for her medical issues, and the steps to get up on the bus were hard for her. Transport by our car was clearly the only way I could get her to appointments.

          Also I barely ride a bike anymore because I got hit by a car and have a brain injury now. :/

          So yea, bike riding is all fun and good. Until it’s not. If folks don’t wish to bike, that’s their business.

          Reply
          1. Anon anon anon

            Not to mention the way that disabled people are sometimes treated on public transportation. It’s perfectly reasonable for someone to decide against that if they have other options.

            Reply
          2. Natalie

            The buses in my city only have two attach-y things for wheelchair uses (not sure of what they are called but they’re a bunch of straps that fix the wheelchair to the floor) so if you are the third wheelchair user, you have to wait for the next bus.

            Reply
          3. Julia the Survivor

            Wow, I’m so sorry that happened!
            I live in a big city with a strong bike initiative and I’ve heard from those who do everything including hauling their groceries and kids with their bikes, and those who are afraid to ride in even light traffic. All should be respected.
            I like biking but stopped because it’s really bad for my allergies.
            It’s also annoying that our local transit activism organization seems way too focused on biking and the young hipsters in charge really aren’t aware that not everyone can ride. They will be when they hit 50, but until then… :/

            Reply
    3. strawberries and raspberries

      This is one thing I notice about a lot of eco-friendly transit initiatives- probably unintentionally, they can be quite ableist and make a lot of assumptions about just how viable it would be to get everyone biking or taking public transit. My site is forming a partnership with a bikeshare program, mainly so that we can encourage the population we work with to find local employment and not have to pay for transit. This will be great for many, but I can also think of at least 10 clients off the top of my head who will not benefit from this. (Not to mention that they want the staff to sign up for the service as well, and like, not everyone can or wants to ride a bike. There are other ways to support local economies and the planet.)

      Reply
      1. Mazzy

        I agree. In my workplace they’re aimed at the higher-income workers living in the nicer/closer areas with more bike lanes.

        Reply
      2. paul

        One of the agencies I work with has done that for their clients and it’s been really helpful for a lot of them. For the fairly minimal investment I’d say it was worth going for, as an aid to employment and increasing their clients ability to access services. We…sort of…have mass transit but IIRC it’s six to six M-F and only 4 routes in the city so it’s essentially non-functional. At least it goes to the hospital though :/ But transportation access is a recognized community need and a major barrier to employment here, and we’re in tea party hell so resources and support are scarce.

        It’s not a perfect program, and they’re still working on options for clients with mobility or respiratory problems (as well as options for when the weather’s really bad) but as far as I can tell it was a fairly effective, low cost program for them. So don’t be discouraged because it’s not perfect!

        Reply
        1. Observer

          The problem is not that it’s not perfect. The issue is that often the designers fail to recognize that it’s not perfect, or don’t care that it’s not perfect. Not in “it’s not perfect, but it’s a good start and better than nothing.” way. But “If they can’t take advantage of this that’s on them – they could figure something out if they really wanted to” kind of way.

          Reply
        2. Detective Amy Santiago

          Transportation is a huge barrier to employment in my city as well. There are places that aren’t accessible by public transit and lower income folks who rely on it have severely limited options.

          Reply
          1. Fortitude Jones

            Same in my city. In fact, I live downtown in my city’s central business district and can only apply for jobs around that area because I don’t drive (no license and can’t afford the cost) and our buses don’t cross county lines. This has severely limited my employment options, and I’m not even low income! I’m solidly middle class.

            Reply
          2. Becky

            This reminds me of something my mother was telling me a few years ago about a low income housing area that had been developed…miles away from any public transportation. She was wondering who on earth thought that would be a good idea.

            Reply
      3. Jadelyn

        You honestly could not pay me enough to ride a bike to and from work. I’d have to rethink my entire work wardrobe, buy protective gear (helmets and such), basically re-learn to ride a bike since I haven’t ridden one in about 20 years now, and suddenly get comfortable with being basically a pedestrian sharing road space with cars, at least in terms of physical footprint and vulnerability in an accident. Oh and, while I’m not quite *disabled*, I do have chronic back problems and am really out of shape as a result because walking/running/etc hurt to do for any length of time, so I’d be showing up to work already exhausted and sweaty and gross, not to mention having to put myself under physical stress again at the end of the day when I’m already tired. Biking to/from work would be terrifying and severely anxiety-inducing and severely degrade my overall quality of life. There is not enough NOPE in the world for that.

        Reply
        1. strawberries and raspberries

          I feel the same way. Every experience I’ve ever had on a bike has ended in a panic attack, and I’ve shared this with my team on numerous occasions, both as “ha-ha, funny story” and “no, but seriously.” Still and all, every time the bike share program comes up, I’m asked if I’ve joined yet. It’s pretty aggravating.

          Reply
          1. Julia the Survivor

            Put a sign on your door/cube that says “No, I have not joined bike share” in bright colors with sarcastic cartoon clipart. :D

            Reply
      4. Meyers and Briggs are not real doctors

        (said this above, sorry)

        I barely ride a bike anymore because I got hit by a car and have a brain injury now. :/

        So yea, bike riding is all fun and good. Until it’s not. If folks don’t wish to bike, that’s their business. Shuts people up real quick “oh it’s a nice day why don’t you ride your bike” and I tell them a woman didn’t see me, hit me and almost ran me over and then kept going because she had no idea she hit me. And now I got brain problems.

        Biking is risky, period.

        Reply
      5. aebhel

        Yeah, and I mean–I’m not disabled, but I’m nowhere near competent enough on a bike to risk riding in traffic. Not to mention that my legs would fall off if I encountered anything more than a gentle slope. Not everyone can ride.

        Reply
    4. Observer

      ~~sarcasm on~~ Well, don’t you know? Disabled people waste resources. So, if someone drops dead because he couldn’t waste those resources that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. You can’t make omelettes without breaking eggs, you know. ~~sarcasm off~~

      Although I’m being sarcastic, I wish I could say that what I just posted could never be said by anyone with any sentience. But, I’ve heard stuff like this. It shows up in a lot of fields. And it’s really sick. I hope that the OP’s company (or his boss and grandboss) are not like this – that they are just clueless and insulated in privilege, because in that case there may be some hope of waking them up a bit.

      Reply
    5. Infinity Anon

      I don’t even understand how forcing employees to give up cars is the company being green. They should focus on their direct environmental impact rather than the impact of their employees.

      Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Hell yes. Energy audits, supply stream analysis, transit vouchers, etc., are much more reasonable (and appropriate) than this bullshit. The current initiative reminds me of the letter about a wellness initiative that included bringing on dieticians who wouldn’t leave OP alone.

        Reply
        1. This Daydreamer

          At least the bosses at that guy’s company were quick to send the dietitian packing as soon as they realized what was going on. This company isn’t so sane.

          Reply
      2. Violet Fox

        They also are going to get into trouble if they get more employees that live outside of the reasonable public transit zone, or turn away potentially good people for being so anti-cars in people’s private lives.

        I was honestly wondering that too — why the company is not focusing on what it does in and of itself as a company to be greener.

        Cars are often an easy scapegoat though. It’s reducing a complex, global problem, to a simplistic “if everyone just did this” platitude.

        Reply
      3. AndersonDarling

        If everyone is taking Uber/Lyft then the same amount of gas is being burned. Maybe they should let everyone work from home, then it doesn’t matter if someone has a car.

        Reply
      4. RVA Cat

        Also, seeing as how they’re already being horrible, I’m wondering how much they’re looking at people giving up cars as a way to A) keep them there forever because they can’t commute to interviews/another employer and B) underpay them because hey it’s not like they have a car payment….

        Reply
      5. Naomi

        That’s a good point! The company isn’t being green, it’s just outsourcing environmental responsibility to its employees and taking the credit.

        And I wonder how long they’re planning to enforce the 100% compliance. Will every new hire be pressured to give up their car as well? Because I bet there are plenty of candidates who would call that a dealbreaker.

        Reply
    6. CDM

      If I were at bridge-burning stage, I’d phrase it as: “You believe that sentencing two disabled people to a lifetime of house confinement and being unable to ever access medical care is a small enough price to pay for 100% employee participation in your green initiative?”

      Reply
      1. nonegiven

        I’d get that Tweet/Instagram/Facebook/whatever post with the picture of the cousin and grandfather, with the van ready to go and tell them if they brought it up again, that it would be going up with their name on it.

        Reply
    7. INTP

      I don’t think this is actually about the environment or principles at all. It may have started this way, but even staunch environmentalists know that if only people that need a car as badly as the OP drove, our atmosphere could handle it.

      I think they see that they’re 1 holdout away from getting press for attaining 100% carless status, and they want to make OP cave so they can get articles written about them or win green initiative awards or whatever they envision happening. This is purely business/money-related at this point.

      Reply
  12. JD

    I would not understand nor comply with giving up my car if my company asked under ANY circumstances but under your circumstances this is pure insanity!!! It is none of their business. On top of that you have allowed it to be their business and they still won’t budge. Good grief.

    I know in San Fran they do not have to pay payroll taxes if they comply with certain “green” ways of doing things but I drew the line at a chick FLIPPING out on me because I put my coffee sleeve in the wrong recycle bin. It nearly made me not want to work there. This would be sooooooo beyond.

    For sure look for new employment.

    Reply
    1. Will!

      Okay, knowing that there’s a tax incentive, that makes a *little* sense. Not “a reasonable person would make this demand” sense, but a little sense. I guess that’s that law of unintended consequences in action.

      Reply
      1. JD

        The car isn’t even included in that incentive. Mainly most business just put recycle bins out, have low flow toilets and keep lights low frankly. It is surely a system that is taken advantage of since monitoring it isn’t so simple. (Aka: flipping out over a coffee sleeve). I agree though. It might make a “little” sense if that was the case. Not reasonable however.

        Reply
  13. Temperance

    You work for horrible people, but you know that. If you’re forced to keep working there, why not just placate them while you’re stuck there by saying that YOU do not own a vehicle, but your disabled cousin owns a wheelchair-accessible van that you need to drive due to said cousin’s disability? That way, your shitty company (and they are shitty) can have their stupid 100% participation rate and maybe these terrible humans that you work for would get off of your back.

    Reply
    1. Zinnia

      There could be a flaw in this plan. Legally owning the van could mean the cousin loses access to healthcare. Medicaid has a very small ($1,500-2,500) asset limit. (I’m assuming someone with a lifetime disability working part time would not be able to afford any other health insurance.)

      Reply
      1. Temperance

        IIRC, vehicles don’t count towards the asset limit, but in that case … it’s grandpa’s van, and he’s afraid to drive it because of the size.

        Reply
        1. Zinnia

          It differs state to state; I believe in mine it counts. It’s a huge challenge. No public transportation to get to a job, but lose healthcare if you own a reliable vehicle.

          Reply
          1. paul

            Yep, Medicaid here is means tested. You can have one car, regardless of value but there’s a cap on the value of other cars, and the equity in your home (although the cap on that is like 500,000 so it’s a pretty big cap).

            Reply
          1. Temperance

            These are really expensive and complicated to set up, because they are difficult to do. It’s an option if there are substantial or even decent assets, but it sounds like this family is more or less living off of LW’s paycheck.

            Reply
        1. nonegiven

          It’s probably an insurance problem, maybe anyone on the title has to be covered by liability insurance and neither is a licensed driver.

          Reply
      2. LQ

        That only matters if they are checking somehow…(they are being pretty unreasonable so I wouldn’t be surprised, but they may also be lazy, one can hope.)

        Reply
    2. LQ

      Yup. This is what I’d do. “Sure. The van isn’t mine.”
      (It’s just in my name, and I pay for everything on it and drive it…but you know, you have clearly demonstrated a lack of ability to be reasonable so …totes not mine.)

      Reply
    3. RabbitRabbit

      She still has to drive to work, though, if she doesn’t want an awful commute. She has to park it somewhere. I will bet you money they’re insane enough to check up on her.

      Reply
    4. Khürt Williams

      Hmmm …. I see. That might work. OP’s can say it’s not his vehicle but he needs to have it immediately accessible (drive it to work) to handle family emergencies concerning his elderly family member and a cousin.

      Reply
  14. Lily in NYC

    I am so curious how these meatheads would respond if OP turned it around on them and asked them to explain to her how she can keep assisting her disabled relatives without the van.

    Reply
    1. AnotherAlison

      This is good! I was just reading a book about negotiation, and one of the tactics discussed was to ask the other person open-ended questions to get them to suggest how to meet the [impossible] demand they are making on you.

      Reply
    2. Temperance

      They would very likely say that the relatives can use public transportation. I do not recommend this course of action, because these people are honest insensitive enough to not understand how this stuff works.

      Most large cities have a special transit department that assists the physically disabled and elders. Frankly, it sucks. It’s terrible. At least in Philadelphia, it’s highly inefficient and leaves elders and the physically disabled waiting, sometimes for hours, and their staff is rude as heck. However, you wouldn’t know that unless you worked with or knew anyone who used it.

      Reply
      1. LCL

        Yes. In my city we have the special vans available through the transit agency. What people don’t realize is that the vans can only go where bus routes go. They will pick you up at your house, but from there must follow the bus routes. They aren’t taxis, who can go wherever you send them. These services are much more limited than people realize.

        Reply
        1. paul

          Oh wow. I never thought i’d think nice things about my city’s very limited special needs transit services, but dang. Their hours suck, but they’re fairly cheap (75 cents each way) and they don’t have to stick to bus routes.

          Reply
        2. mdv

          The ADA defines paratransit service as being required if people are within 3/4 mile of a route. In my town, when you apply this distance to all of the routes, you get tiny pockets with only 1-3 houses in them that are not covered, so we just say “inside city limits” instead… However, if we were any bigger, it would be more like you describe.

          Reply
      2. blackcat

        Ditto for the MBTA’s disabled services. It seems like they also often refuse to drive people in even moderate inclement weather, such as light snow. Which is so helpful FOR PEOPLE IN BOSTON.

        Reply
      3. Lora

        Had elderly relatives in Philly area. Can confirm their service is awful. One of the reasons I wanted my mother to move to Massachusetts is because while our transit system isn’t awesome by any means, it’s still WAY better than Philly and we have a lot more elder care and support for little old ladies who would otherwise watch teevee all day.

        Reply
      4. JulieBulie

        Yes. I have a disabled friend (in Vancouver) who depends on something like this. She has to arrange for it in advance, so it’s not good for emergencies (and she has issues that preclude using an ordinary bus or car/taxi). It’s often late, and one time it just never showed up, so she missed her appointment.

        Reply
      5. Thursday Next

        Yes, NYC’s Access-A-Ride program is uneven. Sometimes it’s great, but sometimes we’ve waited more than an hour before reporting the van as a no-show. AAR will reimburse for taxis after that point, but you have to have the money to front the taxi fare, so it isn’t an option for many people. And you have to book 1-2 days in advance. The program definitely has limitations.

        Reply
      6. MCL

        There was a really interesting/horrifying piece on This American Life a few weeks ago about the paratransit system in NYC, and how awful it is. The piece is titled “The longest distance between two points,” and it was on the October 20th episode, “Expect Delays.” Link in reply.

        Reply
        1. lowercase holly

          yes, i was just thinking of this. i already knew access-a-ride was terrible, but this was really, really terrible.

          Reply
      7. Wendy Darling

        This American Life had a story recently about how awful this system is in NYC. It’s shocking. Like, given how unreliable and generally awful it is I’m surprised people can hold down a job if that’s how they have to commute. Most jobs are not okay with you randomly being 2 hours late or not able to come in because your transportation decided to not show up.

        Reply
      8. Bagpuss

        True, but then you can keep punting it back to them.
        Company: ‘They could use public transit’
        OP ‘unfortunately that won’t work, as public transit doesn’t extend to our home / isn’t accessible to Brother / doesn’t allow him to travel with both his wheelchair and walker / isn’t available for travel from home to the hospital / physiotherapist / isn’t available emergencies’
        and the same with other suggestions. There *isn’t* a practical solution, but OP can tell them that if they are able to come up with one, she will happy to give further consideration to giving up the van.

        OP, I’d also make enquiries about what protection you may have as a carer (if any)

        Does your employer have any policies or advertising which suggest that they support people with disabilities / having a diverse workforce etc? If so, it may be worth specifcally referencing those policies and pointing out that the pressure you are being put under violates them.

        Like others. I wondered how the company is measuring this policy – 100% (or even the 100% less OP) seems amazingly high, unless this is a tiny company, and I would be immediately suspicious that a lot of those apparently complying are not doing so in any meaningful way – e.g. the family car is now held in the other spouse/partner’s name, or they have simply given up driving to work, or parking a little further away.

        Reply
        1. Temperance

          People like this will just counter with “well we all need to make sacrifices in order to save the planet”. They are determined to bully this poor woman into giving up her vehicle, and there is no sense.

          Reply
      9. AngelicGamer aka that visually impaired peep

        The Chicago Suburbs one is … interesting. For example, like I’ve said above, I had jury duty on Monday. Called in on Sunday (you have to call a day ahead) and they wanted me to be ready at 6:30 to be there at 8:30. There was also a lot of push back because they believe that walking 1.7 miles was doable for me (while I have done it, no, not doing it when I have to be somewhere presentable and might have to go into a courtroom [I didn’t but I could have]) so I just used Uber. Oh, and the lovely price for this service is $3 one way when it’s…75 cents, a dollar on the regular routes? I haven’t used regular Pace in forever and a half so I’m not sure what their rates are atm.

        Oh, also, once you hit a certain point, you have to transfer to another part of the paratransit service. For example, I had to go to O’Hare one day to fly to DC. O’Hare is considered part of the City of Chicago even though it’s in a suburb (near Rosemont / Des Plaines) so I would have had to go to a CTA stop to get off one part of it and get on the City of Chicago part of it. Luckily, mom was able to drive me to the airport that day but jeez. It’s getting less and less worth it, tbh, and I’m debating if I want to go through the review process when my expiration date hits. I probably will but I’m starting to use it more as a back up than my main point of transportation.

        Reply
  15. AnotherAlison

    This company is bonkers. I need to print this out and hang it on my wall to remind me of what else is out there when I’m annoyed at normal things at work.

    I think the OP should follow Alison’s suggestions & potentially consider a job change as some have mentioned, but I also wondered if registering the car in the cousin or grandfather’s name would solve the problem. (Not that you should have to do this, or even consider it!) The OP would have given up car ownership and the company could be 100% compliant. . .

    Reply
    1. Cercis

      I thought about that as well, but it sounds like she’s relying on the van for her commute, so she’d also have to rearrange her commute – maybe by finding a park and ride closer in and riding the bus for the last leg. In the end I realized that the whole thing was just bonkers and you just can’t give into this kind of crazy.

      Reply
      1. PB

        “You just can’t give into this kind of crazy.”

        Quoting for emphasis. Sometimes, compromise is the answer. This isn’t one of those times.

        Reply
    2. CubicleShroom#1004

      Throwing this out there if the LW can’t bale on her bat crap crazy company immediately.

      Switching over the title/plates to the disabled relative as long as it DOESN’T affect things like Social Security or any other help. But seriously, how would they know if you owned the vehicle if they aren’t picking up the tab on the plates/insurance?

      What I would do…

      Drive car to where the last bus would pick you up for work. We have a park and ride service (our mass transit is worse than a 3rd world country). Park there and ride in.

      There! I took mass transit. The lunatics can check off their green compliance check list. Next would be planning my exit strategy.

      The bonus of taking mass transit, is I totally could not to work past 5 pm. The main line ground to an every 1 hour 30 minute wait, with the smaller routes stopping at 7pm.

      Business around my area will not hire people without a car, unless you live downtown. We have very limited weekend service, and service to the burbs dies at 9 pm. Unless you want to spend 4 hours to go 30 miles.

      The para service here is booked a week in advance, M-F, and runs 9 am to 5 pm. Horrible doesn’t begin to describe. Usually the wheel chair lifts are broken. You have to be able to get onto the the lift and off yourself. You have to have enough mobility to get up the bus stairs yourself. The driver is not allowed to help you. The driver also doesn’t help you get into the building.

      If I was canned for having a car, because I need to drive my disabled relatives around, local news here I come. Who knows, someone more compassionate person might offer me a better gig. No company wants that bad PR.

      Reply
  16. Anonymous Educator

    This is a bit out there, but another option is to put the onus on them. If it’s really that important for the company to have their employees be “environmentally friendly” with regard to cars, how about the company shells out for an accessible van that’s also solar-powered and then gift that to the OP?

    Reply
    1. Temperance

      In theory, this is a great idea, but in practice, these tools will just tell her that her relatives should use public transportation, because it won’t add to their carbon footprint.

      Reply
      1. Charlotte Collins

        And that the cousin should go to a manual wheelchair. (Based on the cousin’s disability, I assume that the wheelchair is motorized.)

        Reply
    2. Decimus

      Oh this could be great. “An electric van with these attachments, plus the solar paneling for the charger, will cost 200,000+. Will the company pay for it?

      Reply
    3. Death Rides a Pale Volvo

      THANK you–I was just thinking that. “OP, would you be OK with us giving you an all-electric, accessible van that can be plugged in to our solar arrays? We’d want the van to be branded and we’d like to write about it on our blog. How does that sound?”

      This reminds me of working at an environmentally-minded college where people would flip lights off constantly–which is good, unless someone comes around and turns the lights off in your office, WHEN YOU’RE STILL IN THERE WORKING AFTER HOURS.

      Reply
    1. Escapee from Corporate Management

      The management sounds like the type of people who “love humanity” but treat individual human beings like dirt. They are probably so busy congratulating themselves that they don’t see what a**hats they are.

      Reply
  17. B

    Everything that has been said I agree with. You do not give up your car for a company, especially in your circumstances.

    Normally I hate the “is this legal question” but if the OP is let go because of this specific act of her not getting rid of her car would it fall under disability/medical discrimination since she specifically states besides her commute it also used for those purposes or does that only apply to the OP and not those she cares for? I’m just wondering if it would also help to get them to back off.

    Reply
    1. Infinity Anon

      I think only a lawyer could answer that one. The employer would technically not be discriminating against the people with disabilities but rather against their caretaker. It seems like a murky area to me.

      Reply
      1. Guitar Lady

        If they did go as far as firing her, which hopefully Allison is right and they won’t, I would ask for massive severance in exchange for not filing a lawsuit. The lawsuit itself may not have legal merit, but headlines about the company trying to force disabled people to give up their vans would not be pretty. That goes double if this “Green initiative” is for good publicity.

        Reply
        1. Charlotte Collins

          I’d document everything and call my local paper. Also, I would get in touch with my state disability rights advocacy group. They could make some noise and would have useful advice for navigating the situation.

          They might just be a good support for the OP and her family in general.

          And, OP, I’m so sorry. People with disabilities is the minority group that takes the most crap in general, even though that’s the one minority group that anyone can join at any time, either temporarily or permanently.

          Your employers are awful, and I’m imagining Minnie Driver coming in and putting everyone in their place like she does in “Speechless.”

          Reply
  18. C Average

    These sanctimonious jerks need to be tossed headfirst into the nearest recycle bin. I can’t even. Plus a million to everything Alison said. Also, what you’re doing for your family is really impressive and your colleagues ought to be commending you for actually DOING GOOD rather than pestering you to participate in the company’s do-gooder initiative.

    Reply
    1. Observer

      Yeah, this is a classic example of people who “love humanity” but actually hate people. I’ll take people who do retail good any day – they are better for individuals AND humanity.

      Reply
        1. Decima Dewey

          Who wants to bet that a high number of employees counted as complying with the initiative sold cars to spouses, significant others, or friends for say, $1?

          Reply
  19. fposte

    I wonder what they’d do if you proposed forbidding pets as a gratuitous expansion of the environmental footprint. A lot less sexy to hate on than cars.

    Reply
    1. Allison

      Or “encouraging” all employees to only have two children. “Harry, we’re so close to our goal, as of now you’re the only employee who hasn’t participated in our Number Two program, when are you and Jane putting little Timmy up for adoption?”

      Reply
        1. Adam

          It’s not that much of a reach really when a company can start actively determining what you own. You let them get their foot in the door eventually they’ll run your whole house.

          Reply
        2. Hlyssande

          Holy crap, I just read about that when you mentioned it. I remember singing that song as a kid in choir. laksdfjl;werhsdf

          Reply
    2. SimonTheGreyWarden

      Heck, require everyone there to become vegetarian or vegan, since factory farm animals increase environmental footprints exponentially.

      Reply
      1. Ave

        And give up their pets. Domestic dogs and cats in apartments have a huge carbon footprint. Perhaps not, as one study claimed, as big as a neighborhoods SUVs, but still large.

        Reply
    3. Maya Elena

      Your employer is very forward-thinking. They should also get employees to commit not to having any children, since the world is too populated as it is, and diapers are terrible for the environment.

      (/Sarcasm.)

      Reply
      1. AsItIs

        And talking of diapers, employees are only allowed to use cloth (reusable) ones. A manager will make random home pop-ins to check for compliance.

        Reply
  20. Thursday Next

    Oh, LW. This is terrible, and I feel for you. My daughter is disabled, and public transit is not an option for us in most cases, despite the fact that we live in a major city. I think Alison’s third script is best, because in addition to repeating that your family has members with disabilities who depend on your car, it calls your company out for being disrespectful of that. As Alison said, no one has a better case for a car than you—you’ve got the moral high ground here. Please update us and let us know what happens.

    Reply
    1. Traveling Teacher

      +1000

      It’s so important to be able to get from point A to point B without worrying about your personal safety. No one should make anyone feel bad for having an accessible van.

      Just as another example: my city also has great, accessible public transit, but at rush hour, it can be nearly unsafe, due to overcrowding and people often not moving out of the way/freeing up wheelchair spaces. If there’s construction, all the disabled access gets royally screwed up, particularly the tracks on the street for those with vision impairments. And let’s not even talk about transportation strikes leaving people stranded for an hour or more…

      Reply
  21. Observer

    Please start job searching NOW. These people are incredibly out of line.

    If you do get fired over this, definitely apply for unemployment. Also, document what’s going on so that if they choose to fire you on a trumped up excuse, you’ll be able to show that this is the real reason, so should get unemployment.

    Do you have an HR department that is of any use? Is there any one you can ask “Is reaching 100% participation more important than keeping my cousin alive? because he’s not going to be able to get medical care if I give up the van.” Would that possibly wake someone up to what it is they are actually asking you to do?

    Reply
  22. Snarkus Aurelius

    This request is drowning in unrealized and unacknowledged privilege so much so I don’t know where to begin. Being able to get rid of your car because you live in an area that has plenty of public transportation is a luxury that millions of Americans cannot afford. A related example is being able to get rid of all your possessions and live in a tiny house because you want to go green or hate consumerism.

    When you’ve got limited living options (money and time being key here), the harder it will be for you to abide by such sanctimonious declarations. You’ll notice that the people who make these declarations also have the ability to do those things BECAUSE they have time and money. It’s not because they’re scrimping by in life, although many think they are.

    You sound like you work in a very tone deaf environment so I’m not sure if this message will be understood or even received well. Your personal situation isn’t just a matter of convenience or luxury; there are literal lives depending on this van and your need to drive it.

    That said, if your employer really wants to make a substantive difference in the environment (versus bragging rights), go after big companies and their habits instead of a person here and a person there.

    Reply
    1. Thursday Next

      +1. Thank you for saying this so well. The privilege underlying their initiative is astounding, and yes, they seem utterly unaware of this.

      Reply
      1. Snarkus Aurelius

        The people who really boil my blood are the Tiny House people. “We value relationships over stuff so we got rid of everything we don’t need. The simple life is best!”

        Right. Because if you ever need a new jacket or frying pan, you go out and buy one. Poor people don’t keep stuff around because they don’t care about relationships!

        Reply
        1. AnotherAlison

          Yeah, somehow living in an 800 sf single wide trailer is white trash, but if you build your own, call it a “tiny house”, and put quartz countertops in it, you’re really doing something.

          I have a childhood acquaintance who is this type of person, and they got rid of their TV so they could “create” and they value “experiences” over stuff. . .unless it is cool hipster stuff. I want to be cool too, but sadly, owning my old living room furniture for 15 yrs isn’t cool. . .it has to be new-to-me-repurposed furniture. : )

          Reply
          1. aebhel

            Yeah, I grew up in a trailer, and that’s my response to the ‘Tiny House’ thing. It’s a trailer. It’s a f***ing trailer. If downsizing works for you, aces, but poor people don’t have the option of having a beautifully curated collection of high-quality items.

            It’s kind of like ‘bone broth’ sold in repurposed Mason jars for $30 a pop. I don’t care if that’s what people want to do with their lives and money, but the sanctimoniousness gets old.

            Reply
            1. Anon anon anon

              Exactly. And if they’re really downsizing, why not move into an actual trailer? I mean buy a used one for a reasonable price, not a $150k “tiny house”. Donate the savings to charity. Hmm, maybe a charity for people whose small living quarters are not by choice?

              Reply
        2. Anon!

          I 100% understand what you’re saying about the sanctimonious types, but there are some tiny house owners that build them as a way to live comfortably on part-time incomes with chronic illnesses (I’d imagine these stories aren’t cool enough for HGTV). Tiny houses aren’t for everyone, and they are dressed up trailers in many ways, but I can’t knock all of them when they do sometimes mean a more comfortable life for someone struggling with chronic illness.

          Reply
    2. blackcat

      “Being able to get rid of your car because you live in an area that has plenty of public transportation is a luxury that millions of Americans cannot afford.”

      Seriously. I live in a one car household. We do need the one car where we live. If we were to pick up our house and plop it 2 miles away where we definitely would *not* need a car (eg sufficient grocery stores within a few blocks, better access to the subway), the price of the house would nearly double to an amount we definitely couldn’t afford. If someone wants to gripe at me over the 45mpg hybrid car my husband uses to commute, I think I’d lose it at them.

      Reply
      1. DumbQuestion

        I live in a place where I *can* walk to two grocery stores and have decent access to public transportation…it’s not this Totally Awesome Thing people make it out to be and I’ve noticed that these same people who extol the virtues of not having a car seem to spend a lot of time handing over money to Uber and zipcar.

        Reply
        1. Snarkus Aurelius

          I wondered about this too. Is this employer going to pay for so the special private car services for the OP and her family?

          Reply
        2. Charlotte Collins

          Yep, I do, too. And my SO and I get by on one car. But when we need the car, we really need it. There is no other way to travel from my city to the nearest other cities, and our extended families live a couple hours away. We need a car when we visit them. I like not using the car all the time, but you can only make it work in large metro areas with a good public transit system that you are physically capable of using.

          Reply
    3. Mike C.

      Yeah, I get so irritated when people get so focused on stupid little things while ignoring large, systemic issues. You aren’t going to save the environment with a handful of LED bulbs.

      Reply
      1. oranges & lemons

        Yeah, exactly. It just distracts from the real problems. This letter is a perfect example of that–the company wants to project a “green” image so they put all the onus on their employees to make personal changes instead of examining their own environmental practices.

        Reply
      2. sstabeler

        no, but it can make a bigger impact than you’d think. I suspect that- assuming you get ones bright enough- the OP’s employers would be better off introducing LED lighting instead of continuing to hound them. LED bulbs have improved dramatically in the past few years- they use 10% the electricity of a comparable incandescent bulb (partly because incandescents are basically heaters masquerading as light producers) while lasting 10 times longer, even if they are 5 times the price.
        It’s true that you can over-focus on small crap, though.

        Reply
    4. Observer

      Yes. I generally don’t like when people start talking about “check your privilege”. But, this is the kind of case that makes the phrase so powerful.

      It’s not just that they have the financial resources to get around without a car. They also clearly have never had to deal with disabilities that impede mobility. Heaven help any of their family who ever needs help. Hopefully, that will wake them up.

      Reply
    5. Katniss

      Yes, thank you. This is exactly the kind of thing I talk about when I say that there is a lot of classism and ableism in the idea that EVERYONE can buy ethically at all times.

      Reply
    6. Collarbone High

      Right? Even just getting rid of a car is a huge money-loser for anyone in a lease or who owes more than a few hundred dollars on their car loan. Trading in a paid-off house for an apartment is 50 times worse. And how much of the housing in the downtown core is wheelchair accessible? This request is astonishingly self-absorbed.

      Reply
    7. Lady Phoenix

      This is same issue imI sometimes see with special dieters, Vegans, and other “special” people: they denounce others for using “bad” products when these special people have the money and priviledge to do whatever they want.

      Worse yet is when the “fad dieters” jump onto a food source and jacks the price of for the original people.

      Reply
      1. Hope

        I will say, the one good thing about so many people jumping onto the gluten-free diet as a trend is that it made it a LOT easier to find gluten-free options for those of us who were already dealing with it as a part of everyday life. It’s the rare time where the fad actually made something more accessible.

        Reply
        1. Eliza

          It depends on how strict your dietary requirements are. Products sold as gluten-free in the USA aren’t allowed to deliberately include gluten-containing ingredients, but they’re allowed to contain up to 20 ppm of gluten from cross-contamination, so they’re not always safe if someone is sensitive enough that traces of gluten are an issue. The proliferation of gluten-free diets has meant that the range of options available has increased, but the standards to which those options are held has generally declined.

          Reply
    8. kcat

      >That said, if your employer really wants to make a substantive difference in the environment (versus bragging rights), go after big companies and their habits instead of a person here and a person there

      Exactly what I was thinking. Your workplace can do a lot more by lobbying for green practices. Maybe they are doing that, but I’m guessing they instead put the onus on the employees because then it can look like they are doing anything without cutting into profits.

      Reply
  23. Lady Phoenix

    Shit this shit down with number 1 AND number 3. You can’t give up a vehicle that is customized for disabilities. There are other ways to be green besides what you drive (like recycling, buying from local businesses versus corporations, reusing your products, buying natural products, conserving water, etc).

    If they still continue despite shutting this fuckery down, then job search. In fact, job search now — these people are getting cultish with their need for green.

    Reply
    1. Amazed

      I think you meant “shut this shit down”, but in retrospect, I think you just gave me a new way to mentally brush off jerks – picturing them getting flushed down a toilet. :D

      Reply
    2. Adam

      Was going to say this. OP’s employers have turned environmentalism into a green cult. The company “encourages environmentalism”, but is that even what the organization officially does?

      Get out, OP. This is weird.

      Reply
  24. WhiteBear

    Them badgering you about this is weirdly ableist.

    Also, and this might sound weird, if you can afford it, I would invest in a car camera and keep it on while you’re at work. Hopefully no one is crazy enough to sabotage your vehicle in the name of that 100% number, but it’s a thought that crossed my mind.

    Reply
    1. Meyers and Briggs are not real doctors

      I recommend this for anyone regardless. Our thrift stores even have dash cams for sale where I live. They can definitely be affordable used.

      Plus you might catch a UFO or something else awesome, just sayin.

      Reply
  25. Tai

    4th Option – It’s your god damn life and your god damn money so tell them the next time they ask that you’re actually buying two more cars and idling them in your driveway all day while you’re at work until they STFU about this.

    Reply
  26. PB

    I have no words. This is ridiculous and awful. I’d be mad enough about a company asking employees to give up their cars under normal circumstances, but this is a true need. I’m all for going green, but place people ahead of corporate initiatives.

    Reply
    1. Adam

      Right? I live alone and have no special needs and if my org insisted I give up MY car (even though I commute via bus like 90% of the way) I’d be livid.

      OP has people with legit health/mobility needs. What they heck do they expect her to do?

      Reply
      1. Brandy

        Me too, its mine. Leave me alone. Don’t worry about my life away from here. None of your business. Are employees required to recycle at home. How do they know??

        Reply
  27. kittymommy

    Your company is so far out if line I’m not sure if they’re in the same time zone. Honestly, I’m nut sure what else you can say if they seem incapable and unwilling to understand that you need a car most especially in these circumstances. This is why these 100% participation goals annoy me. Companies get so focused on that magical number that they don’t see that people aren’t all in the same set of circumstances. It becomes about a number on a page rather than the humans involved.

    Reply
    1. zora

      Seriously, 100% participation goals make me so irritated. Every one I’ve heard of in a workplace is just not logical at all. Either you broaden the range of what “participation” means to the point where it becomes meaningless, or you are setting up a gross dynamic where you want all of your employees to be the same in some arbitrary way. A workplace should be diverse by definition in this modern era! It’s so creepy to expect everyone to be the same in some way that has nothing to do with how they do their jobs.

      My work does that stupid United Way 100% participation rate thing, and as the lowest paid person in the organization (besides interns) that really bothers me. People should be able to choose what to do with their money, even a ‘token’ amount of money.

      Reply
  28. AMMN

    “Fired for not giving up the wheelchair-accessible van used to transport disabled family” makes a good media headline. I am almost never in favor of public shaming, but if the company does fire you after you use one of Alison’s scripts, that’s viral material.
    They’re being ridiculous and I’m sorry you’re having to deal with it.

    Reply
      1. CubicleShroom#1004

        This +10000. A company who is so worried about “being green”, is not going to love the local media hounds baying at their doors. They are really not going to love get blasted for pressuring their employee to dump a custom fitted vehicle that takes forever to sale. Modified vans for wheelchairs take forever to move.

        I want whatever the higher ups are smoking.

        Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I really don’t think it’s likely the OP is going to get fired for this, and I don’t want to freak her out by implying it’s a likely outcome. Possible, yes, but not really the most likely at all.

      Reply
      1. Allypopx

        Alison, if that’s a concern maybe you could pin something to the top so OP definitely sees it, and we don’t go too deep into the firing possibilities? I think her fear of losing income and the pressure she’s getting is going to make people jump to that sort of advice (it’s where my mind went, certainly).

        Reply
    2. Meyers and Briggs are not real doctors

      When it comes to companies that treat their employees like shit, I’m allllllll for public shaming.

      Reply
  29. Mike C.

    What in the hell is their response when you tell them that you need it for those very specific medical reasons? Are they playing the “if I don’t address this problem is doesn’t exist” game or something else?

    I wouldn’t take a soft approach here, these idiots need a proverbial slap in the face. Directly ask them how your family is to make their doctors appointments without the specialty vehicle. Keep repeating that question until they directly address the issue.

    /So if the workplace is on fire, you’re not supposed to call 911, because the firefighters will arrive in one or more massive vehicles, right? That just wouldn’t go with your company’s green mission.

    Reply
    1. Purplesaurus

      I wouldn’t even ask them a damn thing. “I need the van for my commute and to transport my disabled relatives. Now that you know I’ll be keeping it, we shouldn’t need to discuss this further. Thanks for understanding. “

      Reply
      1. Red 5

        I wouldn’t even give them that much. “I need to keep my van. I have made my decision, and so we won’t be discussing this any further. Thank you for understanding.”

        I can understand the impulse to rub their nose in how appalling they are being (You want to strand a disabled old man and somebody who requires a wheelchair, what is wrong with you??) but they’ve already shown that they don’t care, they don’t think they’re appalling and that information doesn’t bother them. It’s also none of their business because all the OP should have had to do was say they weren’t going to give up their car for their own reasons and it should have been done.

        Clearly no amount of explaining or shaming is going to work so I would vote for just shut it down wholesale without any extra words.

        Reply
  30. Allison

    I’ve known people who’ve said, very plainly, that cars are bad, we should ban all cars (they live in the city) and no one should have a car in the city. They’re decent people but I really hate their position on cars, because they can’t accept that some people do need their cars. And I think a vision of a car free city, where everyone can walk, bike, or take public transit everywhere they need to go, parking is no longer an issue, the air is great and everyone’s in shape, is awesome, but it’s also unrealistic. I sympathize with a company that wants to boast that none of their employees owns a car, and OP is the one holdout and if they can just get OP to give it up they’d hit 100% and that would be awesome, but they’re being ignorant and unreasonable here.

    Reply
    1. ErinW

      Yeah, I’ve never given up my car. For awhile, when my last car was on its dying breath and I was a broke grad student with free bus service, I considered it. The deciding factor (in me getting another car and continuing to drive) was my dog. I need a car to take her to the vet (there are pet chauffeur services but they’re crazy expensive). There was also the question of how I ever would get to visit my parents three states away (should I trade the 6-hour drive for a 36-hour Greyhound ride? that my dog can’t accompany me on?) or if, God forbid, there was a middle-of-the-night emergency with me or the dog. Buses around here are pretty reliable but none of them run after midnight.

      Reply
    2. Elizabeth West

      Yes, and I’ve lived without a car but with public transport. And unless there is also good REGIONAL transport, it can be severely limiting. If you want or need to go outside the city, you often can’t. Many places in the U.S. don’t have regional transport at all, let alone good systems.

      Reply
      1. Allison

        I live in the Boston area, I hate driving in the city with a passion (looking for parking is the most nerve-wracking thing ever), but I can’t contain my life to the city and the areas of towns in the region near train stations, I’d need a Zipcar membership to reach the suburbs.

        Reply
    3. JustaTech

      The people who think that everyone should take public transport have clearly never ridden a bus with a toddler who is just done and having a melt down. Or tried to shop for a Thanksgiving dinner and then take a turkey home on the bus.

      Sometimes you just need a car. That’s why they’re so popular.

      Reply
    4. Brandy

      I need my car. I rarely come in from the grocery with a couple of bags. Normally I look like im feeding the Dugger family. My neighbor (the AHole) has a family of 3 and they have 1 bag each time. But they stop every day at the store.

      Reply
    5. anonagain

      I’ve encountered people who fully understand that some people need cars (or whatever un-“green” thing they are on about at the moment) and still think that they should be banned. They are aware of the harm it would cause, but they don’t care.

      I’ve also encountered people who will say straight up that those of us who are disabled should die, because we are a waste of resources.

      Years ago I went to a screening and discussion of an environmentalist documentary. I am really interested in sustainability and parts of the documentary were really good. There was discussion of policy changes to better regulate polluting industries, ways of making large-scale farming more sustainable, innovations in renewable energy, etc.

      I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut about the recommendation that everyone bike everywhere. I specifically referenced disability as one of the reasons why I did not support either shaming or legislating on that issue. The response was immediate and hostile. Then everyone got in the cars and drove home.

      I hope the OP’s bosses are just self-centered. Clueless, self-centered, and garden-variety unfriendly are way more common than that extreme level of antipathy toward people with disabilities. (Reasonable and decent is more common, but not as common as it should be!) Still, there are people who do have those scary, social Darwinist views. These people haven’t failed to consider the harm; they see that as yet another benefit.

      Reply
  31. M from NY

    No is a full and complete sentence. If they bring it up I’d use option 4 -what part of “that is not possible was not clear”? You’ve already shared FAR too many details that should have shut down continued conversation. At this point they are playing hard press but you have every right to nip this right now.

    Frankly if they imply your job is in jeopardy I’d mention the bad publicity they are sure to receive for harassing an employee would far outweigh the 100% rate they are seeking. [If they threaten your job please let AAM know so we can follow up].

    The answer is No.
    Niet
    Not happening.
    Is there something else you wanted because that topic has been asked and answered?

    Full stop. No more explanations are owed or needed. Being primary caregiver is hard enough without this unnecessary stress. You have every right to cross this off your list.

    Reply
    1. Anon non non

      “No more explanations are owed or needed. Being primary caregiver is hard enough without this unnecessary stress. You have every right to cross this off your list.”

      This! So much this. This letter has brought up a long buried memory from when my aunt lobbied my hometown for a handicapped spot outside of my grandparents home. My grandparents were both blind and my grandfather was confined to a wheelchair in his later years. Their home had no off street parking, the street was one way, and double parking when someone took the spot out front would cause a small traffic jam on the small but busy street. Getting everyone into the car was a lengthy process. My aunt requested the spot and one of the neighbors who was also a member of the local government got wind of it and tried to stop it from happening. He was convinced that property values would plummet. My aunt literally started losing her hair with the stress of getting that spot. He was such a jerk. So much so that after my grandfather died he showed up at the house a few days later to say “well since you don’t need the spot anymore, we can assume that you’re going to let the city know so they can remove the sign?”

      Reply
      1. Aeon

        ” So much so that after my grandfather died he showed up at the house a few days later to say “well since you don’t need the spot anymore, we can assume that you’re going to let the city know so they can remove the sign?” ”

        WHAT?!!!

        Reply
      2. CubicleShroom#1004

        *eye twitches*

        My father had grade 4 brain tumor, and received a front door ramp from the VA. It was compliant and to code.

        The harpy next door and across the street never stopped harassing code enforcement about the ramp.

        My father lived 2 years and those maniacs filed 30 complaints.

        The day after my father died, we received a note asking how quickly would the ramp be taking down. The holidays were coming up and they didn’t want their out of town guests seeing it.

        Mind you, I do not live in a neighborhood of multimillion dollar house.

        It took everything in my power not to fire bomb their 900 sq ft circa 1970s suburban shacks.

        Reply
    2. Matilda Jeffries

      This is where I land as well. It’s an unreasonable request to begin with – and I would bet that they don’t have 99% compliance even now – guaranteed at least a few of the other employees are lying about having given up their cars. And they have shown themselves to be not only unreasonable, but actively hostile, when you explained why giving up your car is not an option for you. They have pretty clearly shown that they’re not going to stop bugging you about this, so I don’t think there’s much point in looking for the One Perfect Phrase that is going to make them change their minds.

      So, I agree with M from NY and Zillah, – shut it down. The only thing you need to say about this from now on is “Nope, not going to happen.” Don’t negotiate, argue, ask them hypothetical questions about how you should manage your household, none of it. It’s not necessarily going to be an easy thing to do, but you do have the right to end the conversation and walk away. As Captain Awkward says, the first time is the hardest.

      And I also agree with those who are saying you should start job searching right away, if that’s an option for you. These people are horrible, and they do not have your back in any way, shape, or form. Good luck, and please keep us posted!

      Reply
  32. Liane

    Guessing this will make our annual poll.

    Are the bosses demanding that all deliveries be made by horse-drawn wagon or dog travois instead of trucks? And setting a good example by hiking or biking instead of flying when they go out of town?

    Reply
  33. Some Sort of Management Consultant

    This is why intersectionality is so important.
    It’s like… “we don’t understand privilege and let’s prove that in the worst way possible.”

    I hope you can switch jobs, OP. Wishing you all the best.

    Reply
  34. Admin Amber

    Wow! Your company sounds like a bunch of jerks. Tell them to put their money where their mouth is and buy you an electric van with the accommodations you need for your family members. That should shut them up. Likely Alison would say that is not the smartest way to word it, but I felt angry reading this and mad for you. Good luck whatever you do.

    Reply
  35. HR Recruiter

    Wow! If they want to go green so bad why don’t they offer to buy OP an electric van fully equipped with wheel chair access? Oh wait because that would be a rational decision.

    Reply
  36. Lynn

    You are clearly nicer than I am. I would have said long ago, “Giving up the van will deprive my cousin of access to medical treatment and cause my grandfather pain and discomfort. You are a cruel and terrible person for even suggesting it, and continuing to bring it up only illustrates how unfeeling and narcissistic you are. Never mention it again.”

    I’d also ask how it will sound when others learn they reached 100% compliance by harming the disabled. Because everyone in town would learn if it was me.

    But I’m also not worried about my job.

    Reply
  37. Celeste

    100% participation philosophies about philanthropy is so misguided. There are people who cannot do some of these things, and people who should not. Some financial situations do not allow charitable giving. Some health conditions do not allow blood donation. These employers need to take what they can get and call it good. It’s not giving if you are pressured– it’s more like theft.

    Reply
    1. Temperance

      Nothing makes me more angry than these policies, but especially with regards to blood drives. There are many, many reasons why people don’t or can’t donate blood, including those who might have a communicable blood-borne illness, men who have had sex with other men, Jehovah’s witnesses, and people with health issues.

      Reply
      1. Jess

        Do people do this with blood drives?! I thought it was well-known that there are a lot of reasons some people can’t give blood! I mean, doesn’t the long questionnaire & finger prick prior to donating make that obvious?

        Reply
        1. Temperance

          Oh they absolutely do. I’ll never forget the “conversation” I had with someone who disliked needles and decided that he was going to “do his part” by getting other people to donate. So he walked around, badgering people about donating, and bullying for their answers.

          Reply
          1. Marillenbaum

            Ooh, what a jerk. If you’re going to bully people for not donating blood, you don’t get to use your dislike of needles as an excuse. (I say this not because a dislike of needles isn’t valid, but because if you’re going to disrespect other people’s privacy you frankly deserve it).

            Reply
            1. Temperance

              He was the worst. He honestly had the opinion that his fear of needles was a legitimate reason not to donate, but that other people needed a “valid reason” not to. Which is silly, rude, and obnoxious.

              My last donation experience, before I stopped for political reasons, was so awful that I probably won’t do it again.

              Reply
          2. Red 5

            That is just such crap. I don’t just dislike needles, I have a full on phobia. Plus I have crappy veins so I end up bruised and in pain from almost any blood draw. I “do my part” by donating anyway because the people who need that blood are having a far, far worse time than I will have during the donation.

            It’s one thing to try to engage people in a conversation to encourage them and maybe even try to ease them past their fears (I’ve gotten several friends to donate just by talking to them about it and going with them or telling them about why I donate anyway) but bullying is so stupid, it’s just going to make people more convinced not to donate in the future, it’s the opposite of helpful.

            Reply
      2. Violet Fox

        People should also not be forced to out and explain their private lives and medical histories to people that they do not want to in order to get out of essentially a work charity drive.

        Reply
      3. Dawn

        I have O- blood, but I also have crazy low iron and I pass out easily, it’s a lot of fun when people badger me about blood drives.

        Reply
      4. Andraste's Knicker Weasels (formerly ancolie)

        I was co-director/head of my previous workplace’s blood drives. We focused on 100% awareness of the blood drive instead of 100% participation. No “excuse” needed to not donate and it was none of our business if you couldn’t/didn’t.

        Reply
    2. blackcat

      I couldn’t participate in my previous employer’s blood drive because I didn’t weigh enough. The coworker who coordinated it kept harassing me to do it. She told me to lie to the red cross about my weight! I told her that I made that mistake ones several years ago and discovered those weight rules are in place for A VERY GOOD REASON. It turns out if you try take a pint of blood from a 100lb person, that person goes into shock. At least my boss had the sense to tell her to knock it off after I complained to him.

      Different people have different abilities and needs. It’s not that hard of an idea to understand!

      Reply
      1. Infinity Anon

        Wow. Your coworker was insane. Especially for a blood drive where the point is helping sick people. Making more people sick will fix NOTHING.

        Reply
    3. zora

      Seriously, I really hate them. My company does the United Way 100% participation thing and it drives me nuts. I am in the lowest salary tier in the company and I think it is awful to make me feel obligated to give the money I work for when/where they say. Even a ‘token’ amount of money, sure I wouldn’t starve, but basically you are lowering my pay because I don’t have a totally free choice of where to spend my money.

      Reply
      1. Xarcady

        My company counts it as “participation” if you sign the form stating that you aren’t giving anything. This doesn’t necessarily go over well with my manager, but tough. The company cannot tell me how to spend my money. And I’m certainly not spending it so that the CEO gets bragging rights about participation.

        Reply
      2. Anon!

        We don’t work at the same place because participation isn’t mandatory here but we have a similar United Way initiative. And last year we got an email from the CEO about how terrible our participation was about a month after we all found out we weren’t getting raises! And like you I am toward the bottom of the pay scale, so I happily ignored that email.

        Reply
        1. zora

          They would never say it’s mandatory, but they send a ton of emails talking very pointedly about how much the CEO would love to see 100% participation, and we had it last year and etc etc etc… so it’s also annoyingly passive aggressive.

          I think I’m just going to ignore it and not give the actual money, but I will have to be ready to see even more passive aggressive emails before it’s all over!

          Reply
      3. Janonymous

        In my early twenties, I went through a (thankfully short) rough patch when I had a budget of $.60/day to eat. My boss forced everyone to donate at least $1 a paycheck to United Way so that we could be at 100% participation (we were paid weekly). I had to rely on grocery store samples to make up the difference.

        Reply
        1. Youwantmetodowhat?!

          Janonymous,
          I straight up would have told HR that my FOOD budget was sixtyfreakingcentsperfreakingday, and I COULD NOT afford to donate that much every paycheck. And if the company REALLY wanted to help people, then they could buy me some effing groceries!

          Geebus – .60 cents a day – how the heck did you manage!

          Reply
    4. Marie

      My University did this. I have no objection to a blood van being parked on the campus so people can donate but one nutty member of the students union decided she was going to stand outside the main doors to the main building and persuade people to donate. Had this persuasion been handing them a leaflet that would have been fine but she was berating people into donating. I am on medication so I cannot donate. Indeed my blood might me dangerous to someone already unwell. I am also obviously disabled as I use walking aids so it should have been clear I wasn’t making it up (not that I should have had to justify myself). She kept nagging at me demanding to know the ins and outs of my condition and then telling me I should give blood anyway (despite my explaining how my blood could potentially lead to someone’s death). She was gobsmacked when I went straight to my (extremely left wing) student union’s head office and complained about her ableist and discriminatory behaviour towards students with medical conditions as well as her disregard for the health of the people who would be receiving the blood. To make things worse she was our disabled students officer!

      Reply
      1. Temperance

        Good for you for standing up for yourself and others. What a huge jerk.

        One of the institutions I attended stopped hosting blood drives because of the inherent homophobia in blood donation policies. I supported that action, and truthfully was part of the student group behind the protest.

        Reply
      2. Red 5

        This makes me so angry. I’m a huge, huge advocate for blood donation (and organ donation but that’s another thing) and I have personally talked quite a few people into donating, some who became regular donors, and the way you do it is absolutely by NOT doing a single thing that she did.

        A kind and gentle listening voice talking about the benefits and how to deal with some issues is the only thing that works. And the second that somebody says “I can’t” I drop it. I have so, so many friends who can’t donate because of one reason or another, and the only one I’ve ever pushed back on is “I don’t like needles.” And that push back is in the form of “I’m terrified of them but I do it anyway and here’s why I’ve made that choice…”

        UGH, I hope she got into a ton of trouble.

        Reply
  38. Hamsa

    A lot of cities want to fully implement green initiatives, but, you wouldn’t see them giving up ambulance services to do it. This vehicle in certain circumstances could very well be just that; an ambulance. Personally, I would consult a lawyer. I assume you have a handicap placard due to being your loved ones caretaker, get some Dr.’s notes and put an exclamation point on this ‘convo’ once and for all.

    Reply
    1. Allypopx

      I might bring this arguement up, honestly. I’m not sure the OP has the resources to consult a lawyer, but your cousin’s doctor might have some experience in these situations and be able to offer advice.

      Reply
  39. Catalin

    5th option: keep some of the scripts Alison proposes, but then bring your grandfather and the wheelchair-bound relative (assuming they’re on board and able) to the office and put them in front of your coworkers/bosses. Ableists get real nervous facing down the people they’re trying to harm. I can’t speak for anyone, but the differently-abled persons I know would be so into this. (one would likely ram into people with his chair; he’s definitely done it before…)

    Reply
    1. Temperance

      Yikes. Just FYI, the term “wheelchair-bound” is actually considered ableist by many. “Wheelchair user” is the generally accepted term.

      This is really not a good suggestion, at all. While yes, it would make many people uncomfortable, I don’t think that’s just limited to ableist folks. I would be absolutely shocked if someone was parading their elderly/disabled relatives around to prove a point, and I would not be comfortable.

      I also really hope that your friend doesn’t go around hurting people on the regular. You never know when someone has an invisible disability that could be flared up by some jerk injuring them on purpose.

      Reply
          1. Catalin

            I don’t want to side-track, let’s just say it involved homophobes, a southern college town, a freshly-out-of-the-closet friend, and absolutely no tolerance for homophobic bullying. Those foot plates HURT if you ram into a shin.

            Reply
            1. This Daydreamer

              Niiiice. I would have paid to see your friend doing that.

              This whole post is full of stories about people who could use a good wheelchair hit. I’m really not one for violence but I’m getting more and more pissed off.

              Reply
      1. Augusta Sugarbean

        We aren’t supposed to be correcting people’s language here but in any case “wheelchair-bound” is probably more useful in this situation. The employers need to see the wheelchair and the vehicle as essential equipment. I can totally see these freakshows saying “Wheelchair user? Well, clearly it’s just for convenience and Cousin doesn’t actually need it.” and continue to write off OP’s reasoning.

        Reply
        1. Temperance

          We’re not supposed to nitpick language choices, but pointing out that a term could be seen as ableist is not really the same thing. (It’s also more correct, since the cousin uses a wheelchair and walker interchangeably, but THAT is language policing. ;)

          Reply
    2. Xarcady

      “(one would likely ram into people with his chair; he’s definitely done it before…)”

      It is far more subtle to “accidentally” back the chair up over someone’s toes. Plausible deniability.

      Reply
    3. Meyers and Briggs are not real doctors

      This!!!!!!

      And make sure to tell him to be grumpy to all your managers while he’s there :p Cuz aint nobody gonna argue with a grumpy grandpa in a wheelchair!

      Reply
      1. Catalin

        I really was thinking more ‘invasion’ than ‘parading’, just in case anyone’s unclear on the idea. Also only ONLY if the involved parties are really into it, never use someone just to prove a point/provide a visual. THAT’s parading.

        Reply
    4. PainScientist

      As a disabled person, it would piss me off to no end to be used as a prop and paraded in front of others to make a point or even have it suggested, and I’m very open about my disability. My experiences with others in the disability community (pretty extensive) suggest it’s a pretty common aversion.

      Reply
      1. Meyers and Briggs are not real doctors

        Eh. You do you. My disabled parent had no problem making a point. If she felt she was being discriminated against or getting the short end of the stick she’d just be obnoxious and rant and rave and show all her tubes and scars and whatever else, just to make a point. Depends on the disabled person. She, a nurse, had no problem “parading” since it was to make a point. Hopefully you can hold judgement for those folks who would bring a disabled family member somewhere, for an outing or whatever, simply *to make a point.* Disabled folks have voices too, and they don’t all agree on how to handle things when they (or a family member/caregiver) has been wronged. My stories are way too lengthy to put here on this topic, just wanted to point this out.

        Reply
        1. PainScientist

          It’s definitely true that disabled people are individuals and all have different perspectives on how to handle things – no group all shares the same views. You’ll notice I spoke for myself and called that perspective “pretty common” (not universal) based on my interactions with others in the broader disability community. And while it’s true that I’m willing to use my own disability to argue for something I need in plenty of cases or even argue using disabilities in general, I’m not willing to be used or to use someone who hasn’t volunteered. Personally, I think if it’s suggested by the disabled person, you’re very much in the clear, and if you know them well enough you can usually guess what the individual is comfortable with. In a general sense, though, I would argue against the tactic mentioned here.

          Reply
        2. aebhel

          This is something where if the person in question suggests it, it could be very effective, but it should not be something you bring up as ‘hey, want to take time out of your day to go confront my ableist boss for me?’

          Reply
  40. tink

    Your company can go stick a cork in it, because this is beyond the pale. Even if I could easily take transit to/from work, I still wouldn’t give up my car (although I’d drive it less), because I still need to be able to get groceries, go to health appointments, do things outside of the transit zone, and be able to drive home to visit family occasionally. That they’re pressuring you even after you’ve said no and explained the health reasons why? Absolutely absurd. I’m sorry you’re going through this, OP.

    Reply
  41. Esme Squalor

    What appallingly selfish people, placing a workplace initiative over the needs of actual humans who are vulnerable and require basic resources. This is completely sickening.

    OP, if I were you, I would be job hunting hard. And if you don’t need the reference once you move on, you’d be doing the world a favor by writing about this on Glass Door to deter reasonable people from working at this dumpster fire of a company.

    Reply
    1. Temperance

      I would love if she moved on, and then tipped off a local disability rights org to this. Because, holy crap.

      Totally OT, but love your username. “The Ersatz Elevator” is my favorite of all the ASOUE books.

      Reply
      1. Esme Squalor

        Thanks! It’s my favorite as well, and it’s the book I’m most looking forward to seeing adapted in the Netflix series.

        Reply
  42. Quiznakit

    Whaaaaaaaat the heck, this is stunning in how utterly tone-deaf and privileged-soaked your boss and grandboss are being. I second the other calls to document these conversations in case your inability to comply with their obtuseness leads to them finding some other reason to fire you, and also to consider a job search if at all possible. I’m hoping for the best for you, LW!

    Reply
  43. mf

    Next time they bring this up, I wonder if you could approach this in terms of what you would need in order to give your up van? A raise of X dollars per year in order to move closer to work, a stipend to cover transportation services for your disabled family members, a more flexible work, etc.

    I might even say to them, “I’d be happy to give up my car if you’re willing to provide those things. But if not, then it’s not feasible without sacrificing the health and care of my disabled family members.”

    Reply
    1. M from NY

      I wouldn’t advise that because there is no reason to even entertain the discussion. The value of a paid off home will not cover cost of living in the city or the ongoing living expenses. No raise will cover the long term ramifications for the family if job laid OP off 3 months from now. The answer was and is No.

      Reply
  44. logicbutton

    Gotta say, if I heard about a company with a 100% participation rate in an initiative to give up car ownership, I would NOT think, “wow, what an environmentally responsible company!” I would assume they had either browbeaten their employees into it, or that they were discriminatory in their hiring practices.

    Reply
    1. blackcat

      Right. I have lots of friends who live in the proper urban core near me. All of them have acquired a car when having kids. Sometimes, they get by car-less with one kid, but I don’t know of anyone who gets buy in my area with 2 kids and no car. The vast majority still only have *one* car, but they do have the one for the family.

      If you selected for car-less people, you could be de-facto discriminating against people based on family status.

      Reply
        1. blackcat

          Yes, but it’s not illegal to discriminate against people for economic status, and it is illegal to discriminate based on family status.

          Reply
          1. Natalie

            No, family status isn’t protected. Sometimes it comes up because of disparate impact with regard to sex discrimination, but it’s not protected on its own.

            Reply
        2. Xarcady

          Living in Boston, the closer you are to a subway stop, the higher the rent/cost of house. Living close to a bus stop raises rent/mortgage, but not as much as being near a subway. Live a mile from the nearest bus stop and the rent is considerably lower.

          Reply
            1. Xarcady

              You need a good winter coat, boots and hat, scarf and gloves/mittens. And the ability to stand outside for 10-30 minutes in a blowing wind waiting for the bus to come. I’ve done it–it isn’t horrible. But it’s not the most fun thing in the world, either.

              Reply
            2. nonegiven

              Son spent the night on the couch at work because riding his bike or walking home in waist deep snow was just not doable. (Cambridge) Work and school were closer than the subway station and in the opposite direction.

              Reply
            3. blackcat

              I have walked my 1.5 miles to work in pretty ugly weather in the Boston area. It’s about having the right gear and really isn’t that bad unless it’s a true blizzard. If I have to walk through snow deeper than my boots are tall (a bit more than a foot), life is hard. But everything tends to close if that’s the case, and excepting 2015, we don’t get *that* much snow on the regular. And, in general, walking is much preferable to driving in weather like that–it’s safer and sometimes even faster at commute times.

              I’m totally comfortable in moderate snow and even pretty brutal cold because I have the right stuff. Somewhere around 5F I get really unhappy because my eyeballs get cold. I am too cheap to invest in fog-proof ski goggles for the 0-5 days a year I’d want them.

              You get used to it. I’m native to California, and I’ve adapted fine. I definitely complain when it drops to 10F or lower or if I get sore from shoveling snow, but I’m also a complainer in general.

              Reply
        3. Melissa

          Only because roads to rural areas are financed with taxes paid everyone, even people who never use them. Combined with the housing tax credit, it adds up to fat government subsidies for rich people to live far away from poor people.

          Reply
    2. LCL

      I would think they were lying with statistics. Like somebody else above suggested, keeping the car but transferring ownership to another person in the household.

      Reply
    3. SarahTheEntwife

      It also raises red flags of a company who wants to do the obvious thing that makes a good headline over examining larger structural issues that could make way more of a difference than one employee driving a car.

      Reply
  45. ENFP in Texas

    “I’m getting pressure because I’m the only one not participating and I’m keeping the company from a 100 percent participation rate.”

    Checking a “100% participation rate” box is more important to them than your family’s medical needs? Ouch. I really hope you are able to get this straightened out, because this is beyond ridiculous and overstepping boundaries.

    Reply
    1. Xarcady

      Frankly, I think the company was lucky to get this close to the 100% participation rate. I wonder what pressure was brought to bear on the other employees.

      Reply
      1. Anon anon anon

        Exactly. And there are plenty of reasons that people might need a car. It’s none of the employer’s business.

        Reply
  46. Willow Sunstar

    That is totally unreasonable. Even if you are lucky enough to be able to bike or walk to work, what about those times when people need to visit family members or friends out of state? Buses and trains don’t go everywhere.

    That being said, I do walk to work when I can, but I live in the upper Midwest, and winter is coming.

    Reply
    1. JC

      I am prefacing my comment with saying that I think the OP’s employer is being completely bonkers unreasonable here–but that said–for able-bodied people who do not need special vehicles for transportation, and who live in the core of a major city, car-sharing companies like Zipcar/Car2Go or rental cars are viable options for traveling to where public transit can’t get you. The OP’s company is trying to get rid of car *ownership*, not necessarily car *use*. In Washington DC, I got by without owning a car for 4 years by picking up a zipcar parked a block from my apartment or a rental car at Union Station when I visited family that lived 50 miles away, or another office of my company’s that’s 100 miles away.

      But of course, it was my choice to do those things, and it should never be imposed upon anyone! (And even though I still live in a transit-accessible part of DC, I now drive to work! Because it’s faster! And that should be my decision!)

      Reply
  47. Meh

    Another option, which under normal circumstances I would normally NOT recommend, is to LIE to them. Just tell them you got rid of the van and park a little further away than usual (if possible) and walk the extra block or so to get to the office. How are they going to check? People this bonkers don’t deserve the truth, and you deserve an income. And also this will give you a cover while your job searching, because these clowns care far more about their stupid “completion rate” than they do about you or your family. And even if they do eventually catch you, just say that you “tried” to do it for however long they asked and just couldn’t go without it and bought a new van. Again, they DON’T deserve the truth.

    Reply
    1. RabbitRabbit

      I have serious and possibly (considering this company) non-bonkers concerns that they would try to spy on their holdout to confirm the non-van status.

      Reply
      1. Meyers and Briggs are not real doctors

        Dash cameras that motion activate when the car is off. They are quite affordable used, even my thrift stores carry them.

        Reply
      1. Catalin

        “If you make honesty dangerous, you aren’t entitled to it”
        Excuse me while I tattoo that somewhere…
        Awesome quote!

        Reply
    2. Matilda Jeffries

      Yep. I would bet that they don’t actually have 99% participation and the OP is not actually the only person preventing them from hitting that magical 100%. Unless everyone else in the company is as out to lunch as the boss, I can pretty much guarantee that at least a couple of them are lying about their car-free status.

      Not that the OP – or anyone – should have to lie, of course. But in this case it’s certainly the lesser evil, and absolutely these nitwits don’t deserve honesty anyway.

      Reply
  48. KTM

    Is there some sort of major external incentive (monetary or otherwise) that the OP isn’t aware of that could be driving these people to be so insensitive and horrible? Or is this really just ‘we want to be able to say we’re 100%’? I’m just trying to understand these people. Unbelievable.

    Reply
    1. Observer

      It still doesn’t add up. I mean who thinks “Well, I want that money, so I’m going to force someone to stop taking his family to doctor’s appointments and buying groceries.” This is still “either monster or blind” territory.

      Reply
    2. Miss Elaine e

      I wanted to ask the same thing. The while 100 percent participation thing smacks of a certain well-known workplace charitable giving organization. Some employers are so insistent on 100 percent participation. Why? There’s got to be more to it than a shiny plaque and an ad slogan.

      Reply
  49. CM

    1. Start job searching.
    2. After using one of Alison’s scripts (but I wouldn’t suggest “Is this going to affect my continued employment here” because they are terrible people and might say yes), consistently reply with “I said no and I won’t discuss this further,” followed by silence.
    3. Try to focus on your work and put this out of your head as much as possible.
    4. If you do get fired over this, use all the advice above about filing for unemployment and possibly going to the media.

    Reply
    1. Observer

      (but I wouldn’t suggest “Is this going to affect my continued employment here” because they are terrible people and might say yes),

      If that’s a real possibility, then the OP is better of knowing that. Also, if this is a real possibility, then the OP needs to document this, in order to at least collect unemployment benefits if necessary.

      Reply
      1. Robot Cowboy

        This. The only down side risk to asking if it’s going to affect LW’s employment is if the company’s response is literally: “You know it wasn’t going to before, but since you asked: YES.” Which is cartoon level villainy and even then reveals that you really should be looking for the exits.

        Reply
  50. Anon non non

    What. The. Hell?!?!?
    This is completely overstepping. Frankly, it sounds like you’ve been a lot nicer about things than I know I would be. I’d honestly be tempted to take them to work with me just so my bosses could see that this van wasn’t just for my own personal use, that it impacted two other lives to a great extent!
    If you aren’t searching for a new job yet, might I suggest doing so? Your bosses are idiots!

    Reply
  51. madge

    I know you aren’t in a protected class here but I wonder if a local accessibility advocacy group could help? Also, this company deserves to be publicly shamed for this shit. They are failures as human beings (and I’m a tree-hugger who loves nature more than people).

    Point-blank ask them how your disabled relatives should get to their appointments. Then wait for a response. Don’t say a word until they squirm and are forced to say something, which will most likely be more bullshit. And so what if they think public transit is an option for your relatives? Even if that were true, I don’t know who deserves the conveniences afforded by private transportation more than disabled people.

    Reply
  52. Thursday Next

    Also, LW, could you contact United Cerebral Palsy, nationally or your local office, and loop them in? They’re s pretty big organization, and they might be able to help. This is a PR disaster in the making for your company.

    Reply
    1. cleo

      I agree. And that’s something to add to Alison’s 1st script –

      “I’ve consulted with the local United Cerebral Palsy office (or the city or state’s department on disability or any local disability advocacy goup) and we’ve determined that keeping the specially outfitted van is necessary / the best option available to me and my family.”

      Perhaps referencing an expert will get through to her boss.

      Reply
    2. Sunshine on a cloudy day

      I really like this suggestion. They might not have any actionable advice, but then again they might. It seems like a very low-risk way to talk this issue out with knowledgeable people that might have resources for you (particularly in a worst case scenario – which I agree with Alison – that it is very unlikely! However I’m a planner, and I feel much more confident in tackling tricky situations if I have some sort of back up/resource/plan Z).

      Reply
    3. Meyers and Briggs are not real doctors

      Another resource to consider are patient advocates. they are at every hospital and most health care facilities. Those folks got knowledge and resouces and verbal scripts and they’ve been very good to me over the years.

      Reply
  53. Hey Karma, Over here.

    Even religions that have fasts make exceptions for the young, the old, the infirm. These people are absolute loons. You are thinking of moving out? Are they going to pay the for in home care givers and drivers?

    I would not bring it up again. If you are asked, you need to look surprised (because you should be) and explain that you thought the issue was settled when you explained that your family situation prevented it. Just like if you had to drive your kids to school, you are the primary care giver and your responsibilities preclude you from treating a car like a luxury.

    Reply
    1. Amazed

      #NotAllEnvironmentalists? Really now?

      The problem with this company isn’t that they’re environmentalists. It’s that they’re jerks about it.

      Reply
      1. Kelly L.

        Yeah, this is weird and off-the-wall, for environmentalists or for liberals or anyone else. I’m sure someone will try to spin it into a “typical SJW company” thing in the seedier back alleys of Reddit, but it’s not typical of anything.

        Reply
  54. Liane

    Several people have said this is (extra?) bad because the van has been modified for disabilities. Even if it wasn’t modified, this would be wrong Wrong WRONG! It is still essential to transporting 2 disabled people. The mods just up the WTF Factor.

    Reply
  55. K, Esq.

    #2, if anyone notices, just say you don’t eat much for lunch but that the food is so good you’re taking the rest home for later.

    Reply
  56. Jess

    Wow, poster child for needing a vehicle is right! That your employer keeps pushing you on this seems deliberately obtuse and unkind at best. OP, what kind of language have you used in the past when you’ve explained your situation? Have you directly said no, this is not possible for you, or have you just explained the why & thought they would understand the answer was no based on your circumstances? (Frankly, that should have been enough to shut this down.) I agree with previous commenters that the blunt approach seems best at this point. Maybe add something like, “I understand how important this initiative is to the company so if the company is willing to provide the means (i.e., wheelchair-accessible car service, higher salary to make moving affordable, etc.) to make it possible for me to do this, then I’m certainly willing to give it a try. But this is not a cost I alone can cover to make this change.” Maybe making it clear exactly what you would need to make living without a vehicle do-able will get them to understand the gargantuan thing they are asking of you.

    Reply
  57. bb-great

    Good lord, this is beyond unreasonable. It’s fine to encourage use of public transport, but do it by subsidizing transit passes, not policing employees’ personal decisions. If I were you I would start job hunting if you haven’t already, even if they do eventually relent on this. Your company has shown who they are (jerks), how they think (without regard for others) and what they value (their own goals, to the detriment of everything else) by badgering you this much. And nthing all the recommendations to be as blunt as possible; I think that’s the only way to get them to see sense.

    Reply
  58. Alioth

    If this company is so excited about the environment, maybe they should advocate for accessible public transit, paratransit, non-car-centered urban development, etc instead of thinking everything has to be driven by individual lifestyle changes.

    (I mention this in case anyone is interested in suggesting practical alternatives to them hectoring the LW. But really they’re being horrifically ableist, and LW is perfectly justified in shutting it the F down.)

    Reply
  59. just another day

    WTActualF? I’m feeling good about my own employer today – free parking and I’m allowed to HAVE a car. sheesh

    Reply
  60. Librarian Liz

    If it’s possible, I would consider looking for employment elsewhere. The fact that they’ve continued to try and push you to give up your car after knowing that disabled people rely on you is, frankly, pretty ableist. However, I also know that this may not be an option. Best of luck.

    Reply
  61. Nita

    OP, I doubt that laying out the implications of you giving up a car will work for these pigs. They already know how much this would hurt your family. They’re just not capable of understanding. Talk to them in a language they understand. If they want 100% compliance for the good press, ask them how they think the news coverage will look when it involves them depriving a disabled man of medical access. If you’re a valuable enough employee that they wouldn’t want to lose you, tell them you need shorter work hours to account for a longer commute, or a massive raise to move your family downtown and afford regular taxi fare for them.

    I wish I could give you some kind of legal advice to get those people off your back once and for all, but I’m not sure if there is legal recourse here, so keeping my fingers crossed you find a new job soon.

    Reply
  62. Amaya

    I am stunned at the audacity of your employer. Caregiving is such a difficult job already, without these colossal assholes stressing you out with their unreasonable and repeated requests. It’s shameful. I hope you find a better job. Please update how you dealt with this ridiculous situation.

    Reply
  63. Tish

    I’ve got a crazy idea, can letter writer “sell” the van to cousin or grandfather (for $1, or whatever) and then company can say “none of our employees own cars?” I wonder if that would meet their green initiative and allow them to leave LW alone to support her family. If anyone says anything about the van she can say, “oh, cousin let me drive his van today.”

    Reply
    1. Notthemomma

      Probably not as some monetary benefits the Grandfather or cousin may receive could be lowered because that person now owns an asset based on Kelly Blue Book, not purchase price.

      Reply
  64. animaniactoo

    “Have you ever dealt with the indignity of having to wait for the next bus or get glared at because the bus is full and now you’re disrupting several people to get yourself and your wheelchair on it, holding all of them up and making all of them late to where they need to go? Of having to hold up all of those people while your wheelchair is taken back off the bus?

    Of having to take a private car service and be lifted out of your chair and be completely at someone else’s mercy *that you don’t really know and they’re not familiar with you and how you might need to be handled* and hope that your wheelchair is treated well by the driver stowing it in the trunk? Or having to wait for a driver who isn’t there when they say they will be and missing an appointment? What about being able to just get out to do banking relatively easily and take a trip to the grocery store or clothes shopping? What if you had to deal with that private car service issue or public transit issue EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. you did anything remotely normal for being relatively independent even though you can’t walk?

    This is what you are asking my cousin to go through for the bragging rights of being 100% compliant. I am all for being environmentally friendly – as long as it is reasonably able to be done, and not by asking people who already face major challenges to face even larger ones.

    Not to mention the costs involved in moving to an area that would increase our COL to a point of near poverty in our current circumstances in order to achieve that compliance.

    There are circumstances that call for exceptions to general guidelines in the name of dealing with the reality of people whose lives aren’t “standard” and I think that we need to be very aware of that not just for myself and my family but also in how we approach those we are trying to motivate and engage to work with us.”

    Reply
      1. animaniactoo

        Short explanations have not been working. These are people who cannot extrapolate from a small piece of information or they would have already understood all this the moment OP said “Wheelchair Accessible Van”.

        Reply
        1. Observer

          The explanation the OP has been giving is hardly “short”. It hasn’t worked because they aren’t listening.

          It needs to be One – two sentences, no more. Something in the range of “Do you really expect me keep my grandfather and disabled cousin from getting medical care? Because that’s what is going to happen if I give up my van.”

          Reply
          1. serenity

            I agree, the OP needs to make clear that this is not a debate or discussion, and the more concisely the way it’s framed the more power it will have. A long, rambling answer is not the best way to convey that.

            Reply
    1. Temperance

      I honestly don’t think that this would sway these people. They’re already laser-focused on this very stupid goal, and I think they would see it as an even more noble sacrifice.

      Reply
    2. OlympiasEpiriot

      *Loud Applause*

      But, too long for these a$$holes.

      Although, tying them to their chairs, propping their eyes open with matchsticks, and reading that to them might be divine.

      Reply
  65. CatCat

    “While the van may not be entirely environmentally friendly, I can’t give it up for the reasons that I have already explained. It’s not in the cards for me to switch to a hybrid of electric vehicle either given the expense of such a vehicle and needs for it to be customized to aid my disabled relatives. However, if the company has a proposal to buy me such a vehicle, I would be interested in discussing it further because I know such a proposal would be in line with the company’s values. If the company does not have such a proposal, I can’t discuss my van any further and I thank you for understanding.”

    Ball in their court.

    Reply
  66. JoAnna Wahlund

    They are being 100% unreasonable.

    Does the nature of your work allow you to work from home? If so, you could bring that up as a compromise — you transition to a remote employee so you don’t have to drive the van except when absolutely necessary.

    Regardless, stand your ground. Your van is a necessity, not a luxury.

    Reply
  67. Maya Elena

    It should be noted that, even if you could afford to move, and your family were all athletes in their prime, and the car was a Hummer and not a van, it is still a highly unreasonable and ridiculous request.

    Reply
  68. Granny K

    Another option: Find a hybrid or electric vehicle that meets your needs and the next time they bring it up, present them with a brochure or url and suggest the company buys it for you.

    Reply
    1. S.I. Newhouse

      The thing is, I’m not sure there is one. As far as all-electric vehicles go, none of them are vans (the Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf are both small sedans, and while Tesla produces a sports sedan and an SUV and is now exploring the idea of producing an electric semi truck(!), they do not make vans). I think Chrysler produces a hybrid minivan now (the Pacifica). Ford discontinued theirs (the C-Max). All the other hybrids I can think of are SUVs, which do not have the flexibility of a van when it comes to adding accommodations for limited mobility. And since hybrids still burn gasoline — and electric cars still indirectly produce pollution because electricity to charge the battery packs has to come from somewhere — I have a feeling driving a “green” vehicle wouldn’t be enough to mollify this company, if they’re really that nuts.

      Reply
    2. Temperance

      It’s more environmentally friendly to keep using the car that she already has, though. It’s so incredibly wasteful to replace an existing vehicle that already has been modified for accessibility. It’s not a green solution at all.

      Reply
  69. Be the Change

    This is *nucking futz*. 100% participation is more important to them than people taking care of their families *with disabilities*. I’m an enviro-nut, but gee. Let’s show some progressive pluralism, people.

    Reply
  70. Chris

    This is beyond ridiculous. I work in the environmental conservation field, an organization 100% dedicated to environment. Many of my peers are in this field. Most of us own cars. Many cities in the U.S. (I am assuming OP is in the U.S.) do not have sufficient transit for people to be 100% car free. Further, I am a firm believer that it is none of the companies business what I do outside of work. Companies can and should incentives using transit to get to the office, and even boast about the high amount of employees using it, but they shouldn’t be forcing or requiring this. I don’t know what else the company might be doing, but I can think of 187 different ways they could be more “green” that don’t involve bullying the OP.

    Reply
    1. CheeryO

      Yes! I work for a ridiculously crunchy environmental agency, and most of us drive. We just don’t have good public transportation or bike infrastructure, so you have to be extremely dedicated to go car-free. One day per year, we have a day where we encourage people to carpool or bike or take the bus, but it’s still up to each person to participate or not.

      Does the company have hand dryers in all the bathrooms? How about dual-flush toilets? Is the lighting efficient? How about the HVAC? Do they compost food waste? Are they paperless? Do they allow telecommuting? Just a few ideas, but like you said, there are a million ways for the COMPANY to walk the green walk without putting pressure on people to give up their cars.

      Reply
  71. Anonymous again and again

    Wow… just wow…

    I am a strong proponent of public transportation, walking, biking, etc. Heck, I coordinate multiple campaigns for our company encouraging people to participate by using alternative ways to commute and I really push for people to try it because once they do, they realize it isn’t that bad. I was pushed into doing the same thing and I realized it wasn’t that bad…. A couple years ago, I was driving everywhere 100% of the time and now I have cut that down to less than 50. But I would NEVER EVER dream of telling people to completely do away with their car unless they wanted to. That is completely bananas….

    Sometimes you need a car, sometimes you want a car and sometimes it is just nice to have one, but whatever your reasoning is, IT IS NONE OF YOUR EMPLOYER’s BUSINESS.

    Okay… rant over.

    Sorry you are dealing with this, OP. And just know that not everyone that is a proponent of alternative methods of getting to places sees it as an all or nothing thing….

    Reply
    1. Lady Phoenix

      I loved biking to the library… until the sun set at 5 pm (and I get hone at 4:30). The drivers in my area do nothing to watch for bikers when it gets dark so I haven’t been to the library except when I come home by car.

      Reply
  72. saby

    Wow. This is…

    I have heard of companies having various initiatives to reward their employees for taking public transit **to and from work**. Not one of these companies have had anything to say about car ownership/car use for purposes other than commuting. The focus is on the incentive so I haven’t heard about pressuring people who do still drive (although it may happen).

    Your employer has no business mucking around in your personal/family life!!

    Reply
  73. Half-Caf Latte

    Based on the headline I totally thought this was going to be “I have a company car, and now boss is revoking it, but I can’t afford my own car”.

    My jaw encountered the floor on this one. I’m so sorry, OP, that you have to deal with these jerks.

    Also- is it too late to add to the update request list?
    Also also- I bet buzzfeed wishes they had waited 2 weeks before publishing their list of bananapants AAM articles.

    Reply
  74. JulieBulie

    I don’t know if OP is in the US, but if so, the employer should be applauding OP for living in a three-person household that has only one vehicle. That’s way “greener” than most. Good luck, OP.

    Reply
  75. TootsNYC

    “I want them to stop and leave me alone but they won’t, even after I have told them everything and explained why I can’t. What can I do?”

    You: We’ve discussed this at length—there really isn’t anything more to say. I’d like to get back to work now; I’m in the middle of Project X. [stands and walks back to desk, or bends head to concentrate on work]

    Pick a sentence and repeat it–verbatim, no deviation. I suggest: “We’ve discussed this at length—there really isn’t anything more to say.” (and throw in “I’d like to get back to work” when it’s appropriate)

    Reply
  76. Lumen

    OP, you have my sincere sympathies. For what it’s worth: it would be reasonable and acceptable for you to not give up your car for no other reason than that you like having it. It is your property that you are paying for with income you have earned. It is none of your company’s business, and they need to drop it.

    The fact that you are UNABLE to give up your vehicle because you have disabled family members who rely on it only makes your boss’s continued haranguing about this that much more cringe-worthy and inappropriate.

    You don’t have to find a way to make your car-driving more palatable to them, or compromise somehow, or sign an agreement about what sort of gas you use or how often you drive. You are fine. Whatever their motives, they are in the wrong to be pushing you and need to drop this. That’s it.

    Reply
    1. stitchinthyme

      I was going to say something very like this. Your job does not get to dictate what property you are allowed to own or how you get around when you’re not at work — or how you get to work and back. Even if you lived alone, didn’t have anyone depending on you, and just didn’t want to give up your car, that’s your prerogative, and not their business. So if I were the OP, I’d just say, “Not going to happen. Subject closed.” And I wouldn’t discuss it further.

      Reply
      1. Allypopx

        Sometimes nonprofits only hire people who are committed to their mission, and for the sake of optics certain organizations might insist their employees not wear fur or leather (even synthetic), not participate in certain political activities, mine their contacts for donations, and a myriad of other things. It’s not great, and should probably be disclosed before hiring so people can self select out of those kind of invasive environments. But this situation would be an exemption in almost any case.

        Reply
  77. Countess Boochie Flagrante

    So this is just an initiative they decided they wanted to do? Like… they set their standard and now they’re pissed to discover that it’s not actually an achievable (or even sane) one? This is bananas.

    Reply
  78. Andrea

    This sounds wildly unlikely. No company would try and do something like this, especially when disability is brought into the picture. Let’s all put on our reality caps and test this against what companies can ask employees to do. Yep–not at all likely.

    Reply
    1. Bow Ties Are Cool

      Well, I would have thought it was not at all likely that a boss would make all of his employees get tested to be living organ donors for his dying relative, but it happened.

      Unlikely Impossible.

      Reply
    2. Amazed

      You understand the LW can read these comments, right? They can see the advice blog they asked for help calling them a liar?

      Reply
    3. Detective Amy Santiago

      Alison has repeatedly requested that commenters not question the validity of the letters she publishes on the site.

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        No! This gets said here all the time, but it’s not my stance. I don’t require people not to question the validity of a letter, but I do ask that they not derail the comments with speculation on it because it’s not helpful and it tends to create large derails.

        My stance on this is in the commenting rules: “I have no way of knowing if the letters people submit or real or not. I assume all advice columnists get trolled now and then, but I don’t really care as long as the answer might be useful to someone.”

        That said, Andrea, you’re being unkind and derailing, so please move on.

        Reply
        1. Andrea

          Alison

          I think you have a credibility problem with your approach. In not screening letters and/or posting ones that are implausible, this becomes less about real work situations and more a salacious circus. Which, I can see as an approach that drives traffic and comments, but sheds less light into real work life. I have recommended your site and your products a lot over the years, but this seems to me a real blind spot that can’t be all that innocent. I compare your site to that EvilHR Lady and see a noticeable difference.

          Take that as you will. There is a huge chorus of yes people on this site, but I don’t think I’m alone in looking for workplace commentary and getting turned off by the circus.

          Reply
          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            I answer a huge number of letters about practical, everyday situations each week (more than any other advice site I know of). I also answer letters that are more interesting or unusual. I like the combination, and I think it keeps the site more interesting than it would be otherwise. But I don’t post letters that I think are likely to be false.*

            But obviously no single site will be everyone’s cup of tea.

            * Running this site for 10 years has taught me that there’s a huge amount of crazy behavior out there. Interestingly, often when people think something can’t be real, we’ll have several people in the comments section saying “something similar happened to me.”

            Reply
    4. ArtK

      Just because something is implausible to you, it doesn’t make it false, and the implication that the OP is making it up is unwelcome here.

      Yes, companies do this and worse. That’s the reality. The totality of your experience isn’t the totality of the world.

      Reply
    5. Observer

      Given how many wildly unlikely things have been documented (eg like in court cases) I have a hard time assuming that wild over-reaches are “Not at all likely.” Crazy, yes. Unlikely? Not so much.

      Reply
      1. Observer

        Some cases that should be wildly unlikely, but here we are:

        https://www.theemployerhandbook.com/2017/10/7613.html#more-7613
        https://www.theemployerhandbook.com/2017/10/no-babies-pregnant-bye-bad-talking-points-managers.html#more-7586 – talk about getting in your employees’ business
        http://www.ohioemployerlawblog.com/search/label/worst%20employer%20nominee

        Most of them are not about companies sticking their noses where they don’t belong. But, you would think that no employer would do these things.

        Reply
      1. Andrea

        I do read this site and am sad that these implausible letters keep making the cut.

        Let’s also think about your employer coming to people and asking them to give up something outside of work. Maybe owning a dog or having a big house. Or owning a car. How likely is that to ever happen? Think about it. My employer can’t get many people on board to donate to a food drive. How likely is it that grown adults would mindlessly give up their cars (and break leases or sell cars they are still paying off) and then agitate that their coworkers or employees with disabled family members do the same thing?

        0.0% likely, in my book. Or less. This doesn’t pass any reasonable smell test. It’s odd that people on this site give a pass to fictional problems.

        Reply
        1. Kelly L.

          Obsession with 100% participation rates is totally a thing–I’ve usually seen it with donation drives. So yeah, i found it plausible, especially if it was a small company where there were only a few employees and maybe some of them just didn’t have cars in the first place.

          Reply
        2. LBK

          We literally had a boss ask his employees to give up a liver, unless you assume that one was fake too. A car doesn’t seem all that outrageous in comparison. I think you wildly underestimate how myopic some companies can get on initiatives like this, especially companies that pride themselves on being socially conscious (not clear from the letter if this is a non-profit or not, but I’m even less surprised if it is and this relates to their mission).

          Reply
        3. Observer

          You are either VERY lucky, or you have not been paying attention. The reality is that employer stick their noses into what is not their business ALL. THE. TIME. I posted some links, but they are still in moderation. But there is plenty of documentation of employers tying to force employees into whatever thing they want.

          Have never seen all the regulations and law suits over companies that try to force people into specific “health related” behaviors? eg No smoking, not just in the workplace, but at all. The pressure to get 100% in charity drives (most commonly, United Way)?

          Reply
        4. serenity

          I really hope Alison chimes in here because your comments are not only obtuse but needlessly adversarial.

          As others have mentioned, in real life there are situations that occur which can often *seem* wildly outlandish and implausible…until you live a little and see and hear of these real instances and realize that sometimes things happen (and people behave) in ways that you’ll never quite understand. Doesn’t mean they don’t happen.

          And if you’ve lived in such a privileged or cloistered environment that you only believe things which you have personally experienced, then your denial is dogmatic (whether you chose to accept that or not).

          Reply
        5. aebhel

          I had an employer who expected me to store product in my home after they lost a storage facility, despite the fact that I lived in a tiny apartment at the time and would literally have had crates of sauce in my shower stall. They harped on it for months after I refused. My husband worked at a hotel once where the owners would not stop pressuring him to break his lease and move into the hotel because it would be more convenient for them. He didn’t, but if he’d been a little more desperate to stay in their good graces, he might have.

          Sometimes–especially in tiny companies without much oversight–people are nuts and have wildly unreasonable expectations of their employees. If there were great incentives and these employees either already did not own cars or were not seeing much of a lifestyle change from selling it, it could happen.

          Fundamentally, the fact that something would be incredibly unreasonable is not enough to assume it’s made up.

          Reply
    6. El

      Actually, I’d say this IS true – AAM routinely receives letters about unreasonable bosses, workplaces, etc. And let’s not forget that we should not be questioning the integrity of the letter writer!

      Reply
        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          Because we trust and respect Alison and enjoy the content she produces here.

          No one is forcing you to be here.

          Reply
        2. Observer

          Actually, you are the person disregarding reality. People have noted both their own experiences with wildly unreasonable bosses, as well as well documented cases that show up in the news etc. Why do you keep on insisting that this cannot happen?

          Reply
    7. LCL

      I can totally see this happening in my city. Signed, the survivor of countless Reddit arguments about why transit doesn’t work for everyone.

      Reply
    8. aebhel

      I mean, first of all this may just be a handful of overzealous people with their pet initiative, but the fact that something is outrageous does not make it unlikely to happen. Literally everyone I know has had at least one job where off-the-wall bonkers stuff like this happened.

      Reply
    9. Jennifer Thneed

      > No company would try and do something like this

      Why do you say this? There’s a ZILLION companies in the US, and lots of them do outrageous things everyday. Like, oh, making employees clock out AND THEN clean the store for the next day.

      Reply
      1. Observer

        The “best” is the companies who put this stuff in writing. Like one place that decided to rteat the teachers as non-exempt so they could dock pay if a teacher was late, but then told them IN WRITING via email that they were REQUIRED to do certain record-keeping work at home, on their own time. “This is part of the job and has always been done this way.” Except that in the past the teachers were exempt.

        Reply
  79. Kittyfish 76

    I have not read through the comments, so I am sure this has been mentioned repeatedly. I cannot believe this is even an issue! The nerve of the company, when you’ve explained your situation. Alison has given great advice, as usual.

    Reply
  80. Jason R.

    Employment lawyer here. This employer’s actions are bordering on the unlawful (at least in the US). The Americans with Disabilities Act contains a fairly obscure, but perfectly enforceable, provision that makes it illegal for employers to take action against an employee because of that employee’s association with someone who is disabled. Perhaps this employer needs to be reminded of that.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      You’re the lawyer and I’m not, but my understanding of that provision is that it prevents discrimination against someone because of their association with a disabled person, but it doesn’t require them to provide accommodations to them for that person, and that this is about accommodations to exempt the OP from a company-wide policy. For example:

      http://www.spigglelaw.com/employment-blog/must-employer-accommodate-family-member-disabled/

      Reply
      1. Allypopx

        But this is an initiative, not a written policy, doesn’t that make it murkier? OP isn’t being denied anything because the rest of the company voluntarily participated, so it’s not an accommodation persay, it’s more of an opt-out.

        The employer may be within their rights to amend the handbook to require this, but at this point it’s more of an ask and this does feel like it could be borderline harassment. I’d want OP to consult with someone before dismissing legal possibilities out of hand, if they’re able.

        Reply
      2. Lynn

        But OP is not asking for accommodations. She would like the hectoring and nagging about joining a voluntary initiative to stop. She does not wish to participate because it would prevent her from caretaking for disabled relatives in her personal time. That sounds more like the example of harassing someone for having a disabled relative.

        Reply
    2. Gadfly

      I just wondered that below. I should read all 600 posts before I post.

      Not a llama, but I’ve spent a lot of time with disability rights groups and my impression based on those experiences is that it is at least a good strong grey area if not a violation.

      Reply
      1. Gadfly

        In other words, if it did cause the op to be pushed out or if she was fired for it, I would at least talk to a lawyer. Or the eeoc

        Reply
    3. DRC

      I think you’re all missing another point – if this company’s ‘100% carless’ eco-initiative is in any way a factor in their hiring practices, then the company is probably already in breach of the ADA. If carlessness is a requirement in their hiring, then they’re almost certainly already in breach of the ADA. The (eco) intent does not matter if the (side-)effect is that entire groups of people are excluded from employment that they are otherwise capable of and qualified for.

      LW, I’d consider taking this to your company’s Legal team, just to see what they say. Also, ask HR if your company has any anti-discrimination policies in place. This is almost certainly in breach of those.

      Reply
  81. A Teacher Has No Name

    Goodness! My husband and I work at the same school and we don’t carpool. I get there super-early; he comes in a little later and stays to coach. It’s just not workable for us, and I would hate to think that my employer would care at all about how we get to work.
    I truly feel for OP and hope this situation resolves. Her bosses have no idea what she is dealing with. Please keep us updated!

    Reply
  82. "No" is a complete sentence

    I understand the company’s commitment to being environmentally friendly, but seriously, pressuring their entire staff out of personal vehicle ownership? Seriously? Could they be any more invasive? What happens when employees move on to new employers?
    No.
    Full sentence. No explanation, no justification — you’re just giving them something to pass value judgement on. It’s none of their business whether you own a car because you want to or because you’re helping relatives. Just no. Not possible. I won’t be doing that. We need to move on.
    If they can’t drop it, I’d be out of there so fast the door wouldn’t have time to hit me in the backside.

    Reply
  83. DevAssist

    That’s a major infringement on personal rights! Wow. WOW.

    Also, OP, how does your employer know that ALL your coworkers have given up their vehicles? What about spouses, adult children living at home, etc.? Even in a highly metropolitan area, it is presumptions to assume that all, or even most, people can live without a vehicle permanently.

    Reply
    1. dawbs

      I wondered if this was the ‘trick’ to the whole thing.

      That if I moved my vehicle into Mr. Dawbs’ name, or little Dawbs’s name I’d comply.
      Which is a tricksy sotrt of way to get to 99.9% participation.

      Reply
  84. Cochrane

    I’d bet money that this is also causing hardships for some of the other co-workers who rely on their cars to a lesser degree than the LW, but felt this pressure to go with the crowd and not stick out. All this inconvenience and upset just so management gets a pat on the head from the suits upstairs for getting 100% compliance. Pathetic.

    I echo the call to start looking elsewhere, before they come up with any more bright ideas.

    Reply
  85. anon4this

    I’m as pro-green as they come, but this does no good. Even if this entire company’s employees reduce their carbon footprint or whatever they’re trying to accomplish, it’s not going to magically save the environment/stop global warming or pollution.
    I can understand not wanting to contribute to hurting the environment, but they’re really just making themselves feel good. And to pressure the OP so they can perpetuate this nonsense?
    I’d start job hunting right away.

    Reply
  86. Such as it is

    If your company is so concerned with the environment, they won’t mind forking over some dough and buy you a Prius. I know someone above mentioned the OP isn’t protected, but this feels like harassment.

    Reply
  87. CB212

    They probably have some advertising campaign or marketing or fundraising copy in mind, for saying “100% of our employees have given up their vehicles”. They need to let that go. (Second guess would be that some rival org’s head has made that boast for his own org, which is pettier and less likely, though not impossible.) 100% participation is a vanity claim – it’s annoying enough when everyone is pressured to donate a dollar to a cause to show universal support, but pressure to give up a vehicle is an insane and as noted above probably actionable demand. You are an employee with disabled dependents and they cannot intimidate you into giving up caring for them.

    Reply
    1. WeevilWobble

      I mean they can still fudge the numbers so that works. “Near 100% participation*
      *With the sole exception of handicapped accessible vehicles”

      Asterik and fine print. And no sane person could object to that caveat.

      Reply
      1. Half-Caf Latte

        By making the demand request that OP give up the car in the first place, they’ve demonstrated they are not sane people.

        Reply
  88. cleo

    The only things I’d add to Alison’s scripts is a dose of “you know I’m a team player” and a side of “I ‘d love to be able to support the company’s initiative.” I’ve had some success getting my boss to see my side of things when it comes to unreasonable policies by emphasizing that I believe in the idea behind the policy first and that I take it very seriously, and then laying out my reasons why it’s a really dumb idea imo.

    This is my best script so far:

    “Supporting the environment and the company’s goals are important to me, but meeting my family obligations and caring for my disabled loved ones is also important to me. I’m sure you understand that I can’t compromise on that.”

    And I’d probably add in that you’re researched this thoroughly (and maybe talked with the local government commission on disabilities or local disabilities advocacy group), as proof of how seriously you’re taking this.

    Reply
    1. Erin

      Love this.

      Can you provide concrete information on your findings? Like what it would cost for private help for your family members, a copy of the bus schedule, etc? Since verbally shutting this down hasn’t been successful thus far I might consider putting together a full report, if you will, on why this isn’t feasible.

      You shouldn’t have to do that, of course, but as Cleo indicated it could be helpful in showing them how seriously you’re taking this and have researched the possibility.

      Reply
  89. Isabelle

    I bet it’s one of those toxic companies where the managers are under huge pressure from above to have 100% participation (not that it excuses their lack of empathy and compassion).

    Reply
  90. Erin

    I’m beyond flabbergasted. I hope Alison’s answer and all the comments have further cemented for you that this is Not Okay and you are free to move forward, guilt-free, as you tell them to shove it up their ass. I mean, tell them that your decision is final and the discussion is off the table.

    Reply
  91. Edina Monsoon

    I don’t understand this 100% participation thing, who cares!
    I can’t believe everyone else has *really* given up their cars, people don’t usually use a car just for their commute, what about going to the countryside at the weekend or doing their weekly shop, I couldn’t do that on foot!
    The bosses sound like loons and you can’t reason with stupid, so just shut it down before it starts. Next time they bring it up say ‘we’ve already discussed this, we’re going round in circles’ and use your best ‘don’t mess with me face’

    Reply
    1. Creag an Tuire

      Unless the company is actually demanding people hand over the cars (or titles), I’m guessing most of OP’s colleagues are taking transit to work and lying through their teeth.

      Reply
    2. nnn

      I could envision it happening in an urban area where residential parking spaces are expensive and car-sharing programs are readily available. If your commute to work is by transit, it can easily be far cheaper to use one of the ZipCars that lives in your building’s garage for everything you need a car for than to rent or own a parking space in the same garage – and this is before we get into the expense of buying and maintaining and insuring your own car.

      Reply
      1. Edina Monsoon

        Possibly but then I’d assume most people didn’t have cars before the policy came in so it wouldn’t be much to brag about.

        Reply
  92. WeevilWobble

    Some of your co-workers are definitely lying about getting rid of their cars altogether.

    I’m so sorry you have this added stress in your life.

    Reply
      1. Allypopx

        It might be harder for her to lie. She gets in on time when someone hears her train line is down, she mentions taking time off to bring her cousin to a doctor’s appt and can’t explain how she’s getting there if someone asks, someone checks to verify the 100% assertion and finds a registration in her name…there’s a good chance of her getting caught vs. other people and it’s not worth the risk to her reputation, IMHO.

        Reply
  93. Dave

    If the LW was terminated for this is there grounds for firing due to a disability – in this case someone cared for by the employee?

    Reply
  94. Goya

    I might ask if bosses would consider paying for private transport for her family members when needed?
    Which of course would most likely be no for a VARIETY of reasons….
    So then maybe they would stop harassing her? Because it is becoming harassment at this point.

    Reply
  95. Enya

    I got so angry reading about this horrible company, and the more I think about it, the angrier I get. Those stupid, heartless bastards.

    Reply
  96. Engineer Girl

    At its core, this is the cluelessness of an urban dweller about what it is like in a rural area. They don’t understand that there is limited (if any) mass transit, limited police, limited fire, limited library, limited job opportunities, and even limited internet. All of these work together to create a perfect storm of disadvantage.
    It’s impossible to be fully functional in a rural area without a car.
    OP, I would push back by asking your employer what they suggest to solve your problem. They must be able to accommodate a wheelchair. They must be able to provide you with a commute of 1 hour or less.
    And are they asking you to completely give up the car or simply not drive it to work? If it’s the first it’s insane.

    Reply
      1. SheLooksFamiliar

        No kidding. I live in a far-flung suburb that actually has a lot of shopping within 3 miles of my house. Sure, I could do 1-bag grocery shopping 3x a week and get my cardio done. After work. In the dark. Without sidewalks or shoulders to walk on. Otherwise, I couldn’t get to my doctor or anyone else I needed to see professionally.

        Reply
      2. Elizabeth West

        I live in an urban area and it’s hard to manage without a car. This city does not have good public transport. We have buses, but they’re slow and they don’t run all night, so if you’re out later, you have to use an expensive cab. One of my meditation friends is severely sight-impaired and she uses the bus to get everywhere. But when she talks about it, I get frustrated on her behalf because it takes such planning for her to even to get to our group meetups.

        I even looked into the bus lines here in 2012, when I had a crappy car that kept breaking all the time, just in case. It takes roughly two hours to get to a building I can drive to in fifteen minutes. Not all cities are created equal.

        Reply
    1. Melissa

      To be fair, suburban and rural dwellers are incredibly clueless about how their roads and infrastructure are paid for by all citizens, even the clueless urban dwellers. Or how their minimum lot sizes make it impossible for public transportation to be sustainable (let’s not even bring up profitable). Or how car drivers expect to be able to store their 3-ton vehicles on the street for free or far below market rate whenever they pop into the city. Or how racist government policies have created de facto segregation in neighborhoods and schools.

      Reply
  97. 2 Cents

    OP, I’m so sorry your company is being beyond tone-deaf and obtuse about this. I’m probably repeating someone’s suggestion, but have you told your coworkers about this? If I was your coworker and heard you were getting pushed around like this, I’d be really, really pissed. There’s something to be said for rallying the lower ranks.

    Reply
    1. Allypopx

      In doing that OP may also find that other people were pressured unreasonably and there might be room for group pushback.

      Reply
  98. Retail 4 Life

    This is awful. Keep your car, you are in the right here.

    But I have worked in environment and Conservation for years, in particular in green commuting. One thing you could possibly offer as an alternative to getting rid of your car is carpooling. Green commutes at my (giant multinational corporation) just meant not driving to work alone. Maybe you could pick up a coworker or two on the way in. A lot of cities also have carpool options (211.org or Waze). It might be another option to show you want to be green but need your car. Also typical carpoolers will chip in for gas or bring the driver coffee so it could also help you financially.

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  99. Q

    I wonder if OP could transfer their car into their cousin’s name? Then technically the “employee” wouldn’t own the car so the company will shut up about it.

    Of course, OP shouldn’t have to, but if they live together and share the vehicle anyway…

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  100. nnn

    It would be interesting to calculate in terms of time and money what giving up the car would cost you. Note: I’m not saying that you should do this or should have to do the work of this calculation or should have to justify your owning a car at that level of detail. Just that it would be interesting to have a response in your pocket like “To break even without the van, I’d have to earn an extra $80K a year while working 25 fewer hours a week, with no reduction in benefits.”

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  101. Anonymous Poster

    Plainly you need the car. It simply isn’t an option to get rid of it.

    It sounds like there’s a loony incentive here to get 100% participation in this initiative. I’ve seen it sometimes where someone may get a bonus if they get some % participation, so it could be you’re the last person standing in the way of a nice bonus or something. But regardless, you simply cannot do this. And whatever the ultimate motivation is, most people really get that. Maybe that message isn’t getting through, maybe it’s not been communicated in serious I-need-this-for-my-family terms, or maybe they’re all loonier than a Canadian dollar coin. But I’d apply the Judge Judy test: most people are somewhat reasonable, and would reasonably understand that given your situation, this isn’t an option. I’d guess it’s less they’re crazy people and more there is an incentive here and they don’t fully understand how important this is for your family’s well being.

    It sounds like you’re really committed to the cause too, so I’m wondering, are you able to say something along the lines of, “I’d love to do this but