short answer Sunday: 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s once again time for short answer Sunday — seven short answers to seven short questions — this one an exciting mix of affairs with coworkers, weight-snarking managers, and more. Here we go…

Can I be fired for outing my coworker’s affair to her husband?

I dated a co-worker for ten years. Unbeknownst to me, he was also dating another co-worker, this one married. I let that co-worker’s husband know and we exchanged conversation by personal home computer email. Now she claims I harrassed her and should be fired. If nothing has been done at work, can they fire me?

Harassment laws don’t stop when you walk out of your office; they cover interactions between employees that happen on the evenings and weekends and in locations far away from work, so the fact that your actions were taken via your home email is irrelevant here. That still doesn’t mean it was harassment though, and I don’t have enough information to know if what you did would qualify as harassment or not. (However, most harassment policies don’t call for people to be fired for a first offense.)

But at a minimum, this wasn’t the smartest move if you wanted to have a harmonious workplace, or to be seen as someone who handles herself professionally. I’m curious about what you expected would happen.

Bringing a revised resume to an interview

Is it poor form to bring a more edited resume that is slightly different than the one you sent in to an interview? For example, if I wanted to add a couple of things and make some statements more brief?

Nope, that’s fine. I wouldn’t totally redo it or you’ll cause confusion, but these sorts of small tweaks are fine. (Keep in mind though that they may not even look at the new version you hand them though; when I go into an interview, I have a copy of the person’s resume already prepared with my notes on it, and that’s the version I use.)

Resigning when others are leaving too

I have been unhappily employed at a small company for three years. (The work itself is enjoyable, but the environment is very difficult.) After a lot of thought, I made the decision to take a big leap and move closer to family in another state. I plan to leave mid-June and have notified my landlord but not my manager, since it is still almost two months away.  Then, last week, a co-worker in my department gave notice. Our manager let us know that, due to finances, she is holding off replacing him for now. In the meantime, my only other co-worker in this department confided in me that she has lined up a new job for the fall and will be leaving at the end of the summer. She has been at this company much longer than me.

I have no desire to end my employment on a bad or unprofessional note. It seems like we should both tell our boss now so that she can begin to recruit a whole new department. At the same time, we are worried we will be kicked out sooner or treated poorly. Also, my co-worker would like to give notice before me, since she has been at the company so long. I am very anxious (understatement) about being the third person to quit. I am not sure how to do it without my boss feeling ambushed and stranded.

As is always the case when deciding when to give notice, you should be guided by how your employer has handled previous resignations. Does your manager typically push resigning employees out earlier than they would have otherwise planned to leave? Or are people generally allowed to work their full notice period? Looking at how she’s handled it in the past will tell you how she’s likely to handle it this time, and you can make your decision accordingly.

Also, you and your coworker should each decide your timing independently of each other; trying to coordinate it is unnecessary and will likely just add to any weirdness. Decide what makes sense for you and do it; she should do the same for herself.

Last, I think you’re over-thinking all of this. People leave jobs. Sometimes several people leave around the same time. Your manager will make do.

Following up on an application to work at Target

I’ve been waiting for a sales floor opening at Target for months now and when I found out three days ago that one was open, I immediately filled out the application. My mom and uncle have worked at Target for about 15 years and counting, so it’s a store I know well, though not the same store they work at, and I love the atmosphere. Apparently if they know that I know a Target employee, that would put me at the top of the list, but to my mom’s surprise, they didn’t ask if I knew a Target worker but did ask if I was referred by one.

My friend told me that I should call and tell them my name and that I was calling to see if anyone is available to review my application with me. He did say that most will say they’re not reviewing applications at that time, which is similar to replies I’ve received calling other companies about jobs. I don’t want to screw this up though, and I know the name of the HR manager since my mother is looking for extra hours, but he’s kind of hard to catch, so I was thinking I would call to see if he’s busy and if so, just leave my name and number to review my application. Is that wise? If not, what should I do?

I don’t have any experience in retail, which often operates by different norms, but I’m posting this in the hopes that someone who knows more than me will weigh in in the comments. However, I can say that calling and asking a manager to review your application with you right then and there seems a bit presumptuous and demanding of their time; I suspect that just calling to reiterate your interest might be a better move. (I’m normally strongly opposed to the follow-up call before you’ve even had an interview, but in retail and food service, it seems to be The Thing To Do.)

Informational interviews when changing fields

I am changing fields in the sport and entertainment industry, moving from indoor arena management to golf course management.  Per your conversation about having savings, I can be fairly patient about how to approach this, but here’s the question.  With respect to networking, is it best to ask a general manager of a course if he/she could meet for coffee or lunch when convenient to ask questions and talk about careers or just apply for whatever positions are open?

I’ve received amazing feedback from people in the golf industry about my experience, specifically they are intrigued about what I’ve done and so forth. If nothing else it’s made a great conversation piece. however, I really want to learn about what they do.

If you truly just want to learn more about the industry, you’re looking for an informational interview. However, if you’re secretly planning to use that conversation to hit them up for a job, then you shouldn’t mislead them into thinking you just want to learn from them; that’s disingenuous. More here and here (and especially in the comments on those posts).

Second-guessing the job I just started working at

So, I just got a job doing administrative work for a restaurant. When they had me on the phone to offer me the job, I was just so excited to finally get an offer after over a year of unemployment that I jumped at it, and didn’t ask about benefits. I learned on my first day that they were not offering benefits, so I was on my own for health insurance, dental, etc. I thought I’d be ok with that, but I’ve just seen my first paycheck and done some math and I’m not really sure I’ll be able to afford insurance. Add to this that after working at this restaurant for two weeks I’m really not happy with being crammed into the windowless closet office in the back of the kitchen all day, and I’m considering starting my job search again. Is that wrong? I mean, this restaurant thing has great potential because it’s the first location in the US for a restaurant corporation that has more than 30 other locations in Northern Africa and the Middle East. They intend to expand and ideally they’ll eventually have actual, corporate offices in the US. I’m just not sure I can deal with the current work environment and lack of benefits that long. And if I do start searching again, what am I going to tell anyone who I interview with? And how am I even going to go to interviews when I work till 5pm?

Is it wrong? Hard to say. I mean, ideally before you accept a job, you get all the information you need to determine if it makes sense for you financially.  However, there’s also high turnover in the restaurant industry … but perhaps not in back-office jobs like the one you’re in. So I don’t really know, because of that.

But if you do start interviewing, I’d explain that you took the job to keep busy while you continued to search for something in your field. The fact that it’s at a restaurant (again, associated with high turnover) means that most interviewers probably aren’t going to question that in the way that they might if you’d just taken a job they’d be more likely to think of as long-term (fairly or not).

Regarding how to find the time for interviews when you’re working all day, you’re unfortunately in the same boat as everyone who’s employed and job-searching: you can ask for interviews to be scheduled late in the day or first thing in the morning, but be prepared to have to do them during your lunch break or to take time off work “for a personal appointment.” It’s tricky and it sucks, but it can be done.

Manager won’t stop talking about my weight

I have a question regarding manager comments. I work in what one might call a hostile work enviroment. I work in a salon, and we are all women, all shapes, sizes, marital statues, etc.

My manager has been at her job for a very long time. She has been known to blow up and go on tangents and there is a lot of gossiping going on. As of late though, she has been making a lot of comments about my weight. This has been going on as I eat, as I talk about trends, indirectly to other people. She even asked one of my co-workers how to approach me about an outfit I was wearing because it made me look really fat.

I keep a log of things that she has said with the dates and try to record them as accurately as she said them. I do not weigh any more than when she hired me, I am completely happy with my weight.I don’t know if she is saying these things because it’s a salon and she feels that we need to all look “thin.”  I feel this is completely unprofessional and makes me very uncomfortable. To make things worse, I have terrible anxiety and am terrified of this woman. I don’t know what to do, but can’t help but feel this is completely inappropriate.

Honestly, I’d find another job and leave. Your manager sounds like a jerk, and the environment sounds really unprofessional. Even if the weight comments stopped, you’d still be working for a jerk in an unprofessional environment.

However, if you want to try to address this, you could certainly say to her head-on, “Mary, I don’t want to hear any more about my weight.  I’m the same weight that I was when you hired me, and even if I wasn’t, it’s not a topic that’s open for discussion. Please stop.”  But she sounds like someone who might not take this well, which brings us back to the first point: consider working somewhere not run by a jerk.

{ 29 comments… read them below }

  1. fposte

    To the poor person being tormented by a jackass boss–with your use of the phrase “hostile work environment” and your talk of documentation, it sounds like you might be thinking there’s a legal issue here. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s likely–“hostile work environment” has a very particular legal meaning, about hostility based on specific, legally protected characteristics, and at least federally weight is not included in those. (States are free to set their own additional protected characteristics; I believe Michigan is currently the only state that includes a weight-related category, but don’t go by me–check your state’s EEOC/Department of Labor for info.) Basically, most people employed in what we’d conversationally describe as a work environment that’s hostile aren’t in an illegally hostile work environment. Unfortunately, legal jackassery also sucks, and I hope you find a solution to this.

    1. Anon

      Sadly I think that you are right. However, a strongly worded letter from my attorney about some of her actions to the right people could do wonders. I don’t really want to do that however. I like her as a person, it’s just as a manager, she’s a little abusive. Like I said she has let up for now.

  2. Anonymous

    I work in the Human Resources department at a Target. I am very busy and if an applicant called requesting that I go over an application with them I would be quite annoyed. Calling to see if they received your application can’t hurt. Sometimes people have called and I have gone ahead and scheduled an interview. Sometimes I am busy and simply check to see if I got it and tell them I will look it over later. But please do not call more than once a week.
    Knowing someone who works at Target will not necessarily put you at the top of the pile. The most important things is to put down that you have open availability. You have no idea how many people apply to work in retail and say that they are unavailable to work on the weekends! Good Luck

    1. Anonymous

      I can work weekends! I can’t work Friday’s however because I plan on going back to school and the classes I need are all Monday/Wendsday/Friday classes. I’m available on every other day but those and the way they assign work it would be easy for me to do the homework that day and work the next.

      So I should just say that I’m calling to see if my application was recieved? I really don’t want to screw this up and I’ve been wanting to work there since high school.

      1. Anonymous

        Just call and tell them that you want to check on your application. If you can’t work at certain times during the week that is fine. There are a lot of college students who work there.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Wow, ask and you shall receive! Thanks for weighing in, Target HR manager!

      OP, it sounds like you should just call and say something like, “I applied a few days ago, I’m really interested, and I just wanted to check on my application.” Also, the fact that you’re so enthusiastic about the job is a good thing; don’t be shy about mentioning that you’ve wanted to work there for years.

  3. Anonymous

    From my experience in restaurants there’s still quite a bit of turnover in these kinds of administrative back-of-house positions. Not as much as with servers or line cooks, but more so than in other industries.

    I can’t speak for your employer, but I know that when I was hiring for those kinds of positions I’d rather have someone leave than stick around in a job that’s a poor fit.

    I’m curious to know, though, if this is your first restaurant gig. My experience with chains and corporations is limited but the cramped office/low pay/no benefits combo has been pretty standard at all of the single-location restaurants I’ve worked in.

    Good luck!

  4. Anonymous

    I work for a Target store. I Can and Will NOT speak about all Targets but I can tell you that if you called at mine and asked that HR go over your app, they would probably not hire you. Yes, as stated above, Target wants you to have open avail in order for you to get hired, however, you will most likely NOT get 40 hours a week. I wish you luck, and hope that the Target store you are applying to is one of the better ones!

  5. Mike C.

    Was I the only person who read the first question and replied with an audible “WTF”? Ten years and you didn’t know he was sleeping around? And your brilliant response was to immediately contact the husband and expect that nothing bad was going to happen?

    I suspect this workplace would make a great backdrop for the latest reality tv show on Bravo. I’d just hate to be working in your HR department.

    1. What the?

      I agree – and no one seems to mention the Trolling Loser Boyfriend. While she behaved kind of hasty and emotions took over going about it in the wrong way. although, being female, and put in a similar situation, I might have done the same thing. Hopefully they get rid of the troll and his cheating partner.

      1. Anonymous

        well guess what ? they didnt get rid of the Troll or the married girlfriend. the husband caught them,beat the crap out of the troll and 2 1/2 months later the married girlfreind had me brought to hr for harrassment. They didnt write me up and they didnt fire me but what happened next was unbeleivable. when I was brought in to hr it was with the married coworkers boss in presence also. he is a manager and she is salary. i was not. I questioned her role as well as his and was told they were protected by their sex and marital status. i was told i am not. he being the only male in the mix makes him protected. i questioned their roles as hr and manager as to why they did not address his behavior when they knew of what he was doing? Not his private life but at work it could create a conflict. They told me no contact and no retaliation or i would be fired. from this point on I was harrassed by him. wrote up for not performing my job duties because he said i would not stay around long enough for him to ask for help. my co-worker joined with them and took notes on my daily activities ,sabotaged my work and tried to get me to argue with her several times then repoted to hr and manager. people stopped talking to me .(salary and Management) . also the married co-worker would have her friend walk her to meetings ,bathroom etc. I had the door held on me by hr and told i would sign the writeup. if not i had 3 choices, sign/go home for day,sign/go out and wait on him with a smile/ or no sign they would put in my file i quit. I actually had been feeling the isolation treatment for 8 months but it just kept getting worse. my boss was short and over-rode my decisions as lead person. my manager who was my previous boss would not even look at me . if he did he would get red faced as if mad. he had not talked to me for months. i consulted a attorney familiar with employment law and nothing i could do. i asked new hr rep to investigate the other hr and managers roles and behavior in the two incidents and i asked for copy of email in the form of a written requst turn in to her, when she was done investigating she called me to meet her up front in office with all claer glass so everyone in management and salary could see us. at the meeting she said no one backed by accusations, Her words were didnt happen and they all think i have problem with truth. I couldnt beleive it , i told her of proof of his harrassment and she replied judgeing from my past medical history i could not be trusted to tell the truth so no investigation would ever be done again for me and no complaints taken. i asked what my medical file had to do with this and she replied everything.i thought ok i get it now the ex knew I had a very traumatic event happen in my life about 5 years ago. i sat next to my mother and watched her die of cancer. i had sought counseling at the time for this and they gave me antidepressents because i was so nervous and could not sleep,and depressed.. they were all hired after this so im sure they didnt know.. he had to be the one to tell them. i asked why they were in my files anyway and she said any manager or hr rep can do this anytime. i asked with a handwritten request to see my file. she said 3 weeks because she would be gone . i asked why first hr person could not show me and she replied she was afraid of me. i told her i knew where this was coming from and shame on all of them that they had to stoop that low. i went back to my desk and the more i thought about it upset me. i had been crying a little when the troll walked up to ask for help. I took his request and because i didnt want him to see this kept looking forward .as he was leaving he bent over and quietly so no one would hear. (WHATS THE MATTER IS IT GETTIN TO YA??). what a loser!!! on monday i was allowed to see my file by the hr secretary(very nice person) the other hr girl ran out of the office like she was scared. upon seeing that something were not in my file i turned in my resignation.the manager and my boss came in to look at paperwork. they both said well go now. i went to attorney again but 400$ later i still cant do anything else about. a few days later i get a call from a co-worker who asks about my health?i was a little confused so i asked why what is wrong with ny health. he replied that everyone says i quit because i could not get over the troll and he called to encourage me to get help with that and if i did not have $ because my ins is gone now he would help if he could and i needed it. that s.o.b. troll has tried to make everyone think i left for physological reasons due to the fact that i cannot get over him. omg !! the company chose this lawsuit waiting to happen, over someone who works circles around any one in there. oh well as i walked out the hr door . i told my boss she did not need to accompany me, i was going to leave on my own with what dignity and sanity i had left. she said ok thanks for your time. so to anyone who thinks about doing something ,think again. If you have to think about it then it will probably not be good anyways.. I can see the old Troll and hes probaly saying (Another one bites the dust!)

      1. Liz T

        My guess is she viewed the woman as a rival–blaming her for the boyfriend’s infidelity rather than blaming the boyfriend–and retaliated. It’s pretty common.

        1. Anonymous

          Instead of assuming that she is trying to blame the other woman or oust her as a rival, how about the fact that the husband deserves to know if his wife is cheating on him ? W0uldn’t you want to know?
          To OP, the wife is just trying to cause trouble for you since you told the husband the truth about her. Find out the harassment laws in your state in any case. Perhaps you should talk to your own HR about the fact that she is threatening you or investigate whether they used company resources to conduct their affair. Either way, look for a new job to get away from this drama and the loser boyfriend.

          1. Anonymous

            The husband should know if his wife is cheating, but was the OP the person to tell? It was an act of retaliation, and I still ask what the OP what was there to gain?

  6. Kimberlee

    To the OP with the restaurant admin job: Yeah, it sucks that that job has no benefits and a crappy office. But my advice is to stick it out as absolutely long as you can. In my experience working (and hiring) for restaurants, one of the main things we look at is how long the person has stayed in their previous jobs. Sure, a good “fit” is important, but we’re talking about an industry where everyone is underpaid, almost no one has benefits, and like 80% of the people who work in it hate their jobs. The admin position is a great stepping stone to get into less restaurant-y work (and particularly in your case, where you have the opportunity to get in on the ground floor), but neither will be the case if you jump ship.

    I recommend just really kicking ass at your job, so that when they open those US headquarters, you’re in serious consideration for a corporate job. Things move fast in the restaurant business and almost every one makes a big point to hire from within! If you’re above-and-beyond exceptional at your job, the opportunities will open in front of you.

  7. Dawn

    To the person whose whole department is leaving: You have to do what is best for you, although I can totally understand how you feel. Will your boss feel stranded and ambushed? Probably. Will she get over it and do what she has to do to recruit a whole new department? Most likely. Since she’s losing the whole department I’d say it’s unlikely that she would push either of you out early. She will probably ask one or both of you to stay on long enough to train your replacements.

    1. Jamie

      I agree , do what’s best for you and give a professional amount of notice and how they feel isn’t your responsibility.

      Also, just be honest. A reasonable manager will certainly feel overwhelmed about having to replace an entire department – but reasonable people know that sometimes timing sucks and this is just a weird perfect storm of resignations.

  8. Anonymous

    Re: Can I get fired for outing my coworker’s affair?

    AAM, you missed it on this one. Presuming the employee isn’t on a contract, they can get fired for whatever, whenever, or no reason at all. So, the answer to the question about getting fired is “absolutely yes you can.” The harassment label is just a distraction.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      That’s true. I focused on the harassment piece of the question without addressing the broader issue — and certainly some managers would fire all three of them!

  9. Kelly O

    I temped briefly for a restaurant several years ago, and although it wasn’t in the back room, the offices they had were small, dark, and short on space (as well as office supplies.) Retail is really not that much better. I will be kind of glad to remove myself from this industry.

    To the Target applicant – one thing I’ve learned is that enthusiasm can be a very short distance away from appearing desperate or difficult. Neither of those attributes will help you get a job (and don’t listen to the people who tell you to follow up daily until you get a response. Does not work. Trust me, I listened to That Guy at one point and was annoying myself.)

  10. Anonymous

    I would love to be a fly on the wall at workplace number one. Can’t imagine how the three of them will be able to work together after this.

    1. Mike C.

      Seriously, Bravo or a similar cable channel would make an awesome show out of it! Talk about bringing value to the company! ;)

  11. TM

    Okay so OP #1 is jealous that her boyfriend had another “girlfriend” at work so she told the girlfriend’s husband? Talk about a waste of time and effort. Even if he dumps the married woman he will find someone else to cheat on you with.

    OP #1 made herself look bad by even getting involved. After 10 years…just move on, he’s not worth you or your job.

    1. esra

      Ten years! My goodness. You are dead on with your advice, there is no positive to staying in this ‘relationship’. Especially when it is so entangled in your professional life.

  12. Anon

    Thank you for answering my question! My manager has stopped talking about my weight for now, but I think you are right and I honestly don’t think this is a permanent change. Thank you for the advice.

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