help! my boss prohibits soda and candy in our office!

A reader writes:

I work in a rehab clinic. Our program treats mothers who have been convicted of drug offenses or have open CPS cases that involve drug convictions. They go through both group therapy and life skills classes. During a break in the program, they are allowed to bring snacks, but we want to encourage healthy eating as part of their life skills program so we ask them not to bring sweets or junk food.

I share an office with two more women. Our boss asks us not to drink soda or eat candy while at work because the clients may see it. My boss’ reasoning is that it is a bad example for the clients, but she provides no reasoning for not allowing sodas when the clients are gone. And other departments within the same small building are not forbidden from sweets.

It is worth noting that the boss is on a sugar-free diet. It is my issue what I put into my body, isn’t it? What can we do?

This might surprise you, but I think this rule is reasonable because of — and only because of — where you work. It’s reasonable for your employer to ask employees to display a commitment to the clinic’s objectives, part of which include teaching clients healthy eating habits.

And even when clients aren’t supposed to be around, it’s possible that one could end up coming in … or someone could simply forget to remove that candy or soda can from their desk … or a client could see it in the trash.

It’s difficult to preach healthy eating and tell clients not to bring in certain food products when the staff is bringing them in themselves. This is part of what your organization is all about.

{ 84 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    These were my exact same thoughts. Totally, 100% reasonable request.

    If part of the goal of the program is to promote healthy eating, internal behavior should reflect those ideals regardless of if clients are present. The way I see it, is if a client sees an empty Coke can in the garbage, the program (and those running it) lose respect and trust and can be seen as hypocrites with less of a chance of impacting those they serve.

    1. Under Stand*

      Think of it this way: you are servicing people who have had addictions to substances. Caffeine, sugar are both addictive substances. So why on earth would you have it around them. Heck, you might as well ask why your boss is making you hide the 40’s around the clients.

      Absolutely a reasonable request. That other managers do not require it is irrelevant. You boss has decided that y’all need to hold yourselves to a higher standard for the sake of the clients. Good for her!

  2. Anonymous*


    Also: as an employment lawyer, most of these “can my boss do ___” requests are sort of laughable.

    Unless there is some ADA tie-in or a state rule:

    Yes, your boss can keep you from eating chips or drinking soda. in fact in many states they can even require you to avoid those things at home!

    Yes, your boss can keep you from wearing the color purple. Or pink. Or from openly supporting the Red Sox, Yankees, or Bears.

    Yes, your boss can tell you what to wear.

    Or, the quick summary: Yes, your boss can make you do things you don’t like to do. That is why YOU get paid by THEM.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m right there with you on being baffled by the frequency of “is it legal for my boss to ___?” questions, but in this question-asker’s defense, I don’t think she was so much asking if it was legal as she was asking what she and her coworkers could do about it (pushing back against the boss, some particular line of argument, etc.).

      The title I gave the post might have inadvertently implied otherwise though, so I’ll change it!

      1. human*

        They could stop dictating to their clients what they can eat and drink. Seeing as their clients are adults — and the adult employees don’t much like being restricted that way — maybe they should let the clients make their own decisions, and then the employees can make their own decisions, and everyone would be happier.

        1. Under Stand*

          Like the decisions to use drugs which lead to the drug conviction and CPS stepping in?!?! The clients do not exactly have a stellar record of making wise ‘adult’ decisions. And although the employees have a ‘right’ to eat what they want, they also have an obligation not to be a stumbling block to the client who says “they can eat that, so why can I not”.

          1. human*

            This is a false equivalency. Soda and candybars are not illegal and do not result in CPS taking your kids away. Last I checked, a drug conviction did not carry with it the revocation of your right to consume whatever legal foodstuffs you want.

            1. Under Stand*

              actually, when CPS is involved, it may indeed carry with it the revocation of your right to consume whatever legal foodstuffs you want. Or it could carry with it the requirement that you stop seeing someone. Or it could carry with it the requirement that you no longer wear leggings as pants (ohhhh I hate that trend). When the other alternative is the state taking your kid, then you do whatever they want.
              What I was saying was that your logic of let them do what they want to be happy is what got them in trouble in the first place.

            2. uncle*

              Right on! Candy/soda is not illegal … and much to the chagrin of vegans… neither are meat/eggs/cheese …

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The clients aren’t being prohibited from eating what they want, but they’re being taught healthy eating skills in this program, and they’re not permitted to bring soda and candy to the program, which isn’t crazy because they’re trying to create a healthy atmosphere there. No one is stopping them from eating what they want on their own time.

          1. human*

            What I’m pointing out here is that the OP appears to believe (justifiably, IMO) that since s/he is an adult, s/he can be responsible for his/her own food choices. And I am pointing out that the clients are also adults and setting up a program that lets people bring food and drink, but not soda, is patronizing and cruddy and paternalistic and f’d up.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I’m pretty damn libertarian, but what the OP wrote was: “We want to encourage healthy eating as part of their life skills program so we ask them not to bring sweets or junk food.” Asking them not to bring junk food doesn’t seem like a big deal to me, if the program is teaching healthy eating and wants an environment that supports that. (Putting people in prison for drug use, on the other hand, seems like wild overstepping to me, but that’s well beyond the scope of this question.) Of course, if they were forcing them to prove they weren’t eating junk food in their lives outside the class, I’d agree with you.

  3. Josh S*

    There’s also the possibility (which I think the OP hints at) that the boss is using the “healthy eating” skills as a cover reason for enforcing his diet with his employees.

    Not so much an “if I can’t eat it than nobody can” thing (which is cruel) so much as an “if it’s around me, I’ll cave in, so I have to keep all temptation away from me” thing (which is hard on employees, but understandable).

    If this is the case, the boss should just say it like it is. “I am having a really hard time with this diet, and I’d love it if you wouldn’t bring junk food in to the office. It’s a huge temptation for me and really makes my cravings for junk food spike.” But direct admission of one’s own failings is hard, so it’s entirely possible he’s deflecting.

    Even *if* that were the case, it’s an entirely reasonable request simply for the reasons that AAM suggested–the employees ought to be all right with honoring the mission of the place they work, even if it’s a small inconvenience to them.

    1. uncle*

      I think its more of “I’m smarter than you so I’ll just tell you what you can eat”….

      This would be less annoying if s/he would simply prohibit ALL food/ drink at their desk….

  4. Joey*

    “It’s reasonable for your employer to ask employees to display a commitment to the clinic’s objectives, part of which include teaching clients healthy eating habits.”

    I completely disagree unless part of the ops job is doing the actual rehab with clients. If the op is in a support position like IT,admin or some other position that doesn’t involve actual rehab then that’s a ridiculous requirement. That would be like requiring the church receptionist to be of the proper faith or the gym receptionist to be “in shape.” In those types of situations the requirement has nothing to with performing the job duties whatsoever. Only when it negatively affects/undermines job performance is it a reasonable requirement.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In this case, it sounds like there’s risk of clients actually seeing these food items (in the cases I described in my answer), but aside from that, some employers do have cultures where they want everyone pulling toward the same goal: whether it’s promoting a healthy lifestyle or advocating foods that don’t harm animals or promoting a political point of view. In some cultures, in agenda-driven organizations, it makes sense to have everyone committed to the organization’s mission … at least when they’re on the job.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s very typical at nonprofits and political campaigns and religious organizations that they look for employees who have a personal commitment to the objectives/mission of the organization. Just a difference from the for-profit world.

          1. Joey*

            It’s not very smart. Why should your religion or political affiliation matter if you’re cleaning toilets or doing desktop support? Do you somehow clean toilets better of you’re affiliated with a particular political party? It’s irrelevant. Don’t you just want to hire the best janitor, period? It’s really narrow minded to take that stance.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              It’s the culture they want. They want a culture of evangelists. Having worked in nonprofits my whole career, I can tell you that it does make a difference when you have a whole group of people relentlessly trying to achieve your mission not just because it’s their job but because they’re personally invested; they’re there for more reasons than collecting a paycheck. Now, that alone isn’t enough — far from it. But in combination with other things (a team of high performers, clear goals, accountability, etc.), it can be very powerful.

            2. KayDay*

              If, for example, you are hiring an entry level admin, who will be doing really boring work, that person will gain more personally from the job (connections, substantive knowledge from the senior colleagues, etc.) and thus be more satisfied and a more committed worker, than someone who doesn’t care about the mission. Since many people are qualified for these jobs, it’s pretty easy to find someone who is well qualified AND personally invested. At the more senior level, personal commitment tends to come with knowledge about the mission and experience within that sector–few people would have 15 years experience providing veterinary care for feral cats if they didn’t really care about feral cats.

            3. Jamie*

              I see the point for a non-profit to want everyone on the same page…but I have to agree with Joey that for many positions which don’t face the public it’s irrelevant…especially in the for profit sector.

              The more stringent the non-skill related requirements are, the more limited your pool of candidates.

              Using Joey’s example of desktop support: if I was running a non-profit I’d want the most qualified person in that position – because someone less qualified will cost more in the long run by hampering productivity. To me, hiring the person with the best skills, regardless of whether or not they eat a candy bar or enjoy a diet coke at work, would be the financially responsible thing to do.

              It would really come into play in the positions where the skill set is a little harder to come by. You may not have the luxury of philosophical agreement with your technical people…but fortunately most technical people don’t yearn to mix with the clientele anyway. (Broad generalization, I know.)

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I think this is the important distinction: Will requiring a commitment to your mission prevent you from hiring the best people for the work? If it’s a highly specialized position or a position with few candidates, then you need to rethink. But assuming your candidate pool is both strong and deep, then wanting people committed to your mission makes sense.

          2. ThatHRGirl*

            Exactly, AAM!

            In college I accepted an internship with a non-profit that promoted healthy living education to inner-city children – most of it focused on avoiding habits or choices that increase your risk for cancer.

            Imaging my surprise when I saw our two bosses, one of which who FOUNDED the organization, SMOKING outside of the office one morning!

            I totally lost respect for them and left after I completed my main task of organizing a walkathon thing for them.

    2. Kimberlee*

      I’ve also frequently encountered fitness/spa jobs that require the receptionist to be in shape, and it’s exceedingly common for admins at religious organizations to be required to be of that religion. I think those requirements all make as much sense as this one… if you’re a gym, what message are you sending if your receptionist is out of shape? How can you be sure an Episcopalian will be as dedicated to their job at a Catholic school as a Catholic would be? I’m not saying such traits should always be required, but I understand 100% why they would be.

      1. Anonymous*

        “If you’re a gym, what message are you sending if your receptionist is out of shape?”

        That they don’t discriminate against people based on what shape they’re in? After all, out-of-shape people join gyms too. It might even make the gym seem more accessible to those who aren’t already in good shape.

        1. JessB*

          I attended Catholic schools all my life, and there was a definite, stated, preference for Catholic teachers. And Catholic bus drivers, and cleaners, and groundskeepers…

          I liked it. I am a Catholic, and my parents wanted me to be surrounded by the Catholic ethos. That’s what all my schools did. There were non-Catholic students, and non-Catholic staff, and it wasn’t a problem, but the overarching message was a Catholic one.

        2. jmkenrick*

          But that varies from school to school, doesn’t it? Kimberlee isn’t saying that Catholic schools HAVE to hire Catholic teachers, just that it’s reasonable that some might prefer to.

      2. OriginalEmma*

        I know this post is really old but…”In shape” depends on what the objectives of the gym you’re attending are. I go to a mom-and-pop powerlifting gym. They have chalk, squat racks, Olympic lifting platforms, and tires to flip. No lunk alarms there! If I saw the receptionist wasn’t skinny, I’d assume she was a powerlifter or a strongwoman- powerlifters and strongwomen don’t have to be very trim people. But if she were slim, I’d assume she was an O-lifter, since gymnasts actually can make good Olympic lifters! If I went to a chain gym with a tanning booth and all the trainers were very slim people, then yes, I’d assume the receptionist would be slim to maintain the image the gym is projecting.

        Your perception of the receptionist and their “fit-ness” for the position might depend upon your own preconceived notions of what your gym is trying to accomplish.

    3. Anonymous*

      Take a look at your own examples:
      -a church receptionist not of the same religion as the church
      -a gym receptionist not “in shape”

      If you were the reverend of the church, wouldn’t you want someone from your own religion (maybe a member of the congregation) to be the receptionist? You want someone who knows the information inside and out and who represents it well.

      If you owned a gym, wouldn’t you want someone fit and in shape to be the receptionist? First impressions stick, and if you had someone who didn’t go to the gym as your gym receptionist, then I have no choice but to believe that your gym is inadequate in helping people become fit.

      1. Joey*

        So under your theory the right “look” can be a requirement for any job. Go look up the EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch case to see how ridiculous this position is.

          1. Joey*

            Sorry but I just don’t see the point. When I worked for a non profit library there was no way we’d take into consideration whether or not someone was an avid pleasure reader (which was our goal) for support type jobs. I was more interested in hiring the best IT guy or a janitor (who only needed to read enough to do the job) who was good at being a janitor. If I spent my time only looking for people who made good use of their library card I can guarantee I would have not always chosen the person who could best do the job at hand. In fact I regularly hired people who never had a library card, didn’t get one when I hired them, and we’re excellent employees.

            1. Under Stand*

              You worked for a library and you wrote “…and we’re excellent employees/” Facepalm!

            2. jmkenrick*

              I’m not sure this is a good comparison. Religious organizations and non-profits often have more controversy surround their stated missions, and it makes sense to only hire people who agree. One of my good friends (a Mormon) went a Mormon college. With Mormon employees. This makes total sense, because they’re trying to instill a set of values. I would be a lackluster employee there, since I a) probably wouldn’t be as driven as those who truly could stand behind the organization and b) I might undermine the college by saying & doing things on my own time contrary to their goals. Since the Mormon population is big enough that they can still find plenty of qualified candidates, it makes sense to find people who can back them 100%. Plus, I would bet that employees who really value the goal of the organization are willing to stay longer than someone who’s just looking for a job.

              Especially in political organizations, it can be an embarrassment if it’s revealed that an employee has been acting in a way that’s contrary to their stated mission.

              1. jmkenrick*

                Following up on this – I just remembered an example from my own life that I think captures why you want someone who can support your organization’s goals. I used to volunteer for a non-profit tutoring teenagers in foster care. It was a slightly frustrating volunteer role (teenagers can be difficult, even in the best of circumstances). However, it got 1,000x worse when the positive employee who monitored the study room was replaced. The new employee clearly was jaded and thought the program was useless and the kids beyond help. He often made comments to that effect. Understandably, the kids got markedly more difficult after he started working, and started skipping the tutoring way more often.

                I have to say, few things are more discouraging than spending your precious free time after work in a difficult volunteer role, and then being told by the person who’s actually being paid to be there that it’s useless. He was also pretty unhelpful, generally doing the bare minimum of his job.

                Me and the other volunteer both left and are now helping different organizations, meaning this non-profit now has the work & expense of training and vetting (you have to do a background check to work with minors) new volunteers.

        1. Anonymous*

          Abercrombie & Fitch was about the definition of “beautiful” people.

          I’m talking about someone who is obviously overweight/doesn’t take care of him/herself. Would you want that person representing your gym? If I was the gym member, I’d be wondering why that person chose to work there.

        2. ThatHRGirl*

          Which is why they changed the job description to “model” instead of “sales associate”.

          Since when is it wrong to require a certain “look” for a certain job? As long as that “look” doesn’t limit or put at a disadvantage people from protected classes (which IS why A&F was in trouble). The look can’t be blonde & blue-eyed, but it can be “pretty” or “attractive”.

          If your argument stands, then I would like to sue Victoria’s Secret for not asking me to be one of their Angels, because it’s not fair… The only requirement is to wakl down a runway, right?

          1. jmkenrick*

            Actually, my understanding was that in the modeling/acting industry, there are some exceptions to this, so they CAN put out a casting call for a ‘blonde, blue eyed’ actress, or a ‘tall, black’ actor. Not sure on the specifics, however.

            1. ThatHRGirl*

              For actual modeling, yes – I’m just referring to this particular company who refers to their store associates as “models” so that they can select thin, pretty, clean-cut, fit, etc.

            2. ThatHRGirl*

              also – the posted I was replying to was suggesting that no job should ever be able to require a certain “look” of candidates – when I feel that in some circumstances, companies should be able to have some control over their brand image and who represents them.
              And lord knows – I am never going to be a Victoria’s Secret Angel! ;)

  5. Kristinyc*

    I interned in the PR dept at a hospital in the midwest that was in the process of going smoke-free on the entire campus (yes, that’s right. In 2006…). The pushback from employees who were MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS was astounding. You’re going to be a lot more effective telling your patients not to smoke if you don’t smell like Camels. No one told employees that they couldn’t smoke; they just couldn’t smoke on hospital grounds, and they couldn’t show up to work or return from breaks smelling like cigarettes. I think that’s reasonable…

    In this case though – if the OP has an office that would NEVER have patients in it, I think limiting food/drinks like this is a bit much. Could you get one of those steel water bottles and put soda in it or something?

    1. Anonymous*

      that was my thought – if you must, bring in soda in a thermos and pack an unwrapped sweet in your lunch (eaten away from your desk) for your sweet tooth. But this is probably not the best way to go.

      1. uncle*

        If I ever have to resort to eating/drinking a “forbidden ” item while hiding in the bathroom or stairwell….its time for me to find a different job!

      2. KayDay*

        As a former dietcokeaholic, I used to drink my morning d.c. out of a coffee mug. People judge if you have a can of soda on your desk at 9 am.

    2. Dawn*

      “You’re going to be a lot more effective telling your patients not to smoke if you don’t smell like Camels.”

      I agree. It’s like going to see an overweight doctor who preaches about the importance of losing weight. Why should I listen to him? He obviously doesn’t take his own advice.

  6. Erik*

    Given that the office is trying to promote better health (which is great by the way!) I think that not allowing soda/candy is reasonable.

    As the old adage goes, “eating your own dog food”.

  7. Kelly O*

    I’m not entirely sure if anyone else here has dealt with a loved one or someone close to them who has gone through a state-mandated rehabilitation program. This is not the first organization I’ve heard that didn’t allow sodas or candy (or other “junk” foods) to be brought in for group activities; I’ve seen one or two that encourage people in recovery to keep only healthy things in their homes.

    Depending on the addiction, the people going through that therapy may have differing levels of damage done to their bodies by their behaviors, which clearly become addictive. How many people do you see who quit smoking and gain weight because they replace their cigarette with a candy bar and a coke?

    Just because you as an individual have the restraint to not overindulge does not mean that every other individual in this environment has that level of self-control. To help those people learn healthy lifestyle habits, it can be important to reinforce the behavior you want them to emulate.

    So no, you wouldn’t want people with giant Sonic cups and snacks on their desk so the recovering person walks past that on their way to talk about fueling their body with only the healthiest choices.

    If you want to use the gym analogy, how would you feel walking into a gym past someone who frequently had a giant milkshake and double cheeseburger on their desk? Especially if you were going in to see a nutritionist or trainer and talk about how you can roast kale to make chips, or use tofu as protein replacement, especially if you got to your current 3o+ BMI with frequent stops at Burger King.

    Yes, you can eat what you want on your own time. At work, you are not on your own time. Like others have said, I am constantly amazed at the people who think an employer can’t “make” you do something. They can tell you when (or if) you can smoke. They can tell you what to wear, what you can or cannot have on your desk, and when you can go to lunch (barring any pressing medical issues.)

    1. Anonymous*

      This! ^^

      Plus I just want to add that many sodas have caffeine in them. Caffeine, by definition, is a drug.

    2. Jen M.*

      Thank you! Very well said. I was thinking the very same things as I read through the comments, and you’ve said exactly what I was going to.

      I do get the sense that people “poo-pooing” this setup have never had any sort of experience with addiction or recovery in themselves or a loved one.

      1. fposte*

        And honestly, if I’m consuming enough of this stuff that this policy would have a big effect on me, it might not be so bad to have something nudging me away from those habits. (Speaking as somebody with strong weaknesses in this area myself.)

        They’re not making employees buy anything or do anything extra and they’re not extending this to their home lives (unlike some anti-smoking policies). I get it’s annoying to be told what to do, but it’s not really much of a thing, and it’s for a pretty justifiable reason.

  8. Andrea*

    If your need for soda is so great that you cannot go without during the day, try putting it in an opaque water bottle.

  9. Jamie*

    I’m probably focused on the wrong thing – but soda and candy are prohibited, but coffee wasn’t mentioned. Is that allowed? Seems like that would be as much of an issue as soda – if it’s about the healthy choices.

    And for the record I am a coffee drinker – I’m not judging.

    Personally, I think a boss can make whatever kind of crazy draconian rules they like…and if the rules are restrictive enough they will pay for their micromanaging with fewer eligible employees in the candidate pool.

    That said, I don’t see anything particularly wrong with forbidding the consumption of the junk food and soda where they can be seen by clients. Why they don’t have a private break/lunch room where they can eat what they like is another question.

    1. Joey*

      I agree with Jamie. Implementing rules like these produce negative consequences that could have been avoided.

      It’s reasonable to prohibit them where clients can see them, but absent a medical reason a boss on a sugar free diet probably doesn’t have a good understanding of what a healthy diet looks like.

  10. HR Gorilla*

    I agree 100% with Kelly O.

    And wanting a physically fit person as a receptionist at the gym makes total sense…I want to be inspired when I go to work out. (The Abercrombie & Fitch/EEOC example doesn’t apply here–a “fit” receptionist can be black, white, purple, male, female, etc etc.)

    Along the same lines, I would never get my hair cut by someone whose own hair/personal style was ugly (by my own standards, obviously; everyone’s taste differs)…if I don’t like HER hairstyle, why would I want her creating something similar on my head?

    1. Joey*

      HR gorilla,
      Exactly how do you screen for physically fit and what about a person who is unfit bc of a disability? Good luck getting that bfoq to fly.

      1. Anonymous*

        ^^ This guy is reminding me of the DVR commercial on TV airing now about the people in the jury room, and the jury is hung because one guy has an answer for everything.

  11. NS*

    AAM, I’m so glad this question came up! I work at a vegan food manufacturer and we have recently struggled with the decision to ask employees not to bring non-vegan food into our facility. Not all of our employees are vegan (a little more than half are), but we think that it’s important to our business (and to our own ethics) to maintain an exclusively vegan space. I am not sure what others think of this, but our employees have had no objections.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Plenty of animal rights organizations also require that their offices be free of animal products, and this seems reasonable to me. Their whole mission is to say “this isn’t okay to do,” and so of course they aren’t going to condone it in their own buildings. Of course, it’s easier in this type of context because their staff is all on board with their mission.

    2. Anonymous*

      If you are dealing with vegan only food in your facility, I can sort of see the company not wanting to contaminate the vegan with non-vegan food.

  12. mishsmom*

    it makes sense to me that if the aim/goal/culture of a certain business is to teach/guide people to be drug free then at the very least there should be no “drugs” on the premises. if i go to rehab for alcoholism i imagine i would hate to see the counselors come in smelling like beer. same thing here. seeing cokes and candy bars in a place that is supposed to teach me not to use/eat/drink drugs of whatever kind would make me think “i guess they preach it because they have to but they don’t really mean it so i guess it’s not important”. i was a smoker a long time ago and worked in a place that did not allow smoking. if i could go without that cigarette for an entire day (and that stuff stinks! you can’t hide it) anyone can go without their soft drink/etc. (especially since you can hide it!)

  13. From Michigan*

    I work at a wellness and fitness facility. Our entire organization is focused on improving the lives of people in our community by providing opportunities for family recreation, personal wellness and fitness, etc.

    Staff who work in our fitness areas are required to meet certain job prerequisites, such as pursuing a course of study in health, fitness, or similar, maintaining certifications, being able to demonstrate proper use of equipment, proper techniques, etc. Yes, this applies even to our “receptionist” positions. We are a fitness and wellness center. Our staff must commit to fitness and wellness goals.

    Very similarly, our athletics staff must be able to perform the techniques and skills they are teaching. So yes, this does generally require that the person be “fit”. We have had a tennis pro who was wheelchair-bound. He taught wheel chair tennis and “regular” tennis because he was still able to demonstrate proper stroke, positioning, etc. The actuality is that a paraplegic person could not be an effective tennis instructor unless there was some kind of very extraordinary circumstance that I cannot imagine. Similarly, that person could also not be a commercial pilot. (A person who is too obese to fit in a cockpit also could not be a commercial pilot. Not everyone can do every thing; that is life.)

    Our vending machines have very few “junk” choices. Our employees were not allowed to smoke anywhere on our campus long before this became the norm. We don’t serve donuts and pastries at our meetings. Employees can eat what they want in the lunch room, but not at their desks or in their offices. I am quite astonished at the number of posters who think this is unreasonable.

  14. Elsie*

    I agree with so much of what has been said. Consider also the fact that this facility creating one class of people who “can” enjoy such items (the staff/authority) and another who “cannot” (in a likely punishable way) would make it personally degrading for the clients. The practice-what-you-preach mentality makes for a positive environment anyway, but even if a staff member wants to enjoy a soda or candy and doesn’t think it’s unhealthy for him/her, she should at least have the decency not to enjoy one in front of the clients for whom it is prohibited.

  15. Anonymous*

    As many posters have touched on, it seems like this organization is simply asking for their employees to stand behind what they are teaching clients and represent the organizations brand. If you worked for a company selling a product you probably wouldn’t find it unresonable for the company to ask you not to use a rival companies products in the workplace (for example: if you work at a clothing store, you wouldn’t wear a sweater advertising the name of another store to work). In the same way, if what you are essentially “selling” to clients is a healthy lifestyle, you should show yourself following that lifestyle in the workplace.

    Some posters have also mentioned that it is silly to expect lower level support staff or staff who does not work directly with clients to follow the mission of the organization, however, in this case I would like to point out that it seems like the OP works in an office environment. When you walk into an office as a client you are not aware of who holds what position in the organization. Assuming that everyone follows a similar dress code clients may not be able to tell the difference between an administrative assistant and the executive director. It is also important to be aware of the fact that while you may not recognize every client (especially if you don’t work with them directly) if they have been around your office they will most likely recognize you. I have worked in several organizations with large client bases where we had to be constantly aware of the fact that even outside of work we could be recognized by clients and had to modify our behaviour accordingly.

    Yes there are a thousand examples that could be thrown out where an organization shouldn’t be able to tell an employee to do something, but in this case I think it’s justified.

  16. Anonymous*

    A way round it potentially: If you have a non-clear flask/sports bottle or coffee mug type thing you could (providing you can get permission first):

    1) use that and have what you like in there
    2) top up at home or somewhere where its not going to be seen/noticed to stop issues with the attendees of the program
    3) make sure all empties are taken home and never on show.

    That way you could get away with soda without obviously flaunting it to the attendees or disrespecting the boss.

    (Now I’ve written this it kinda sounds like I am providing you a way to sneak in alcohol/get drunk on the job! Oops!)

  17. Anonymous*

    You should be grateful someone’s looking over your health & preventing your trollish, adolescent nature from ruling the roost & ruining your health. So there! hah

  18. Sarah*

    I’ll take your boss if you take mine: my boss brings donuts for all every 3-4 days.
    What is he thinking? Does he think it makes him look good?
    Truth is, junk costs less than real food. He’s too cheap to buy healthy.

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