Friday night question queue

It’s the Friday night question queue. Here we go…

1. Frustrated that half a department left early

I recently started a new position in a new state. I am in a director role, so I have people who report to me, and my direct supervisor is in charge of me and another department. In that other department, everyone seems to be best of friends, even my manager. Which I thought I could handle, until one day we got an email that several people ( not the whole department) were leaving early to attend a sporting event with the manager. I really don’t care that I wasn’t invited, I’m not a fan of that sport, but it really through my work day for a loop. They said they’d be reachable on their phone, but we had 4 new employees who they are training.

They talked about going over a month ago, and honestly, I thought they were kidding. Am I being ridiculous? I know people need to get out of work sometimes, but taking half the department away with little/no notice is not cool. The one person who was left in the department was supposed to only work a half day that day and was stuck working all day, and I was working on testing that required their feedback throughout the day until web-launch. How should I respond? Do I tell my boss that it frustrated me?

Just to make sure I’m clear, the people who went were in a different department from yours and don’t report to you, right? Assuming that’s correct, I think you can say, “Hey, it caused some problems for us when so many people from department X were out at once. We didn’t have anyone to help with testing, and my four new people didn’t have anyone to train them.” However, if all signs are that this was a one-time event, you’re probably better off letting it go — it if happens again, that’s when I’d address it.

2. Disclosing a recent medical condition when job searching

I am in my late 20s and was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer two years ago. I was in and out of the hospital for around a year receiving treatment and, despite my initial grim prognosis, my doctors now believe that I have made a full recovery and will likely remain in remission. In an odd twist of fate, my illness was discovered when I was transitioning from one graduate program to another, so fortunately there is no visible gap on my resume. I am also currently very healthy and robust and look completely normal; no one would guess that two years ago I was given less than a 50% chance of survival.

I just finished my graduate program and have been interviewing for full-time jobs. While I haven’t received any offers yet, I am struggling with how to proceed with disclosing my health history when I do find a position. While I have completed my treatment, I do go to a doctor for tests every few months or so that require me to be out of the office for a half a day or less (mild anesthesia is required). Since this is relatively recent history and I am on a doctor’s leash, am I obligated to tell a new employer about my disease, even though it is most likely cured? If I do need to tell them, when should I bring this up? It might be premature to worry about this before I have an offer in hand, but I feel like I need a game plan that I feel comfortable with before the situation arises.

You have no obligation to disclose a previous health issue. However, once you get an offer (and not before), it would make sense to explain that you’re finishing up medical treatment for something, and you need to take a half day every few months for tests. You don’t need to specify what the condition is if you don’t want to, and you definitely don’t need to raise it before you have an offer.

Congratulations on beating the odds — that’s awesome.

Read an update to this letter here.

3. Should I badmouth a friend who’s applying for the same job as me?

If both me and a friend are going for the same job, and the manager happens to ask what I think of him, what should I say? This is all hypothetical, but I wasn’t sure if I should badmouth the guy or kind of praise him?

Saying something nice will make you look classy and confident. Badmouthing him will make you look unprofessional and like kind of a jerk. Plus, um, he’s your friend, so that would be crappy to do.

4. Would this raise request be unreasonable?

My fiancé and I were talking about his upcoming performance evaluation and if he was going to ask for a raise and how much he was going to ask for.

A little background: He works for a “B Corporation,” which essentially means they’re ethical and pay a living wage. This upcoming review will mark 1 year with this company. At the 6-month evaluation, they offered him a 10% raise without prompting, and on top of an already generous starting salary (25% increase from his previous job).

He will follow all of your regular advice about asking. But just in case, do you think it’s unreasonable to ask for another 10%? Is it possible to price himself too high in this situation? All of this may be unnecessary, since they will probably offer him another one, but in case they don’t–he wants to be prepared. And of course, the crux of this issue is that he’s terrified of asking for too much, but I say to not undervalue himself and take the cue from the company.

Yes, it’s unreasonable to ask for another 10%, when they earlier gave him an unprompted 10% after only six months. The average salary increase last year was 2.8% — 3.1% for top performers. Asking for 20% in a year would be operating in bad faith with a company that has operated in very good faith with him, unless he has truly unusual circumstances that would justify it.

5. When you need time off for religious reasons

Being an orthodox Jew in a community that has no idea what that means can be quite hard when in the midst of a job search. There are several holidays throughout the year when I am unable to be at work. Twice a year, I am away from work for about 8+ days (depending on when the holiday falls). Also, I must be home before sunset on Fridays and am unable to work at all on Saturdays. I make up for it by working Sundays. I am a good employee; I never call in sick and pick up every shift offered. I will come in to work spur of the moment when called. The only time I take off is for my religion. When applying for a new job, I feel guilty if I do not inform them up front of my requirements, but it’s working against me to be honest because no one wants to hire me. When is it appropriate to let a potential employer about my obligations? What is the best way to do this?

Wait until you have a job offer. Once you have the offer, negotiate these terms as part of your acceptance, and explain that it’s for religious reasons. Unless the employer has a significant amount of work on Friday nights or Saturdays, you should be able to negotiate this as religious accommodation (reasonable accommodations for religion are required by law if the employer has 15 or more employees, as long as it doesn’t cause “undue hardship”). It’s going to be easier to do once they’ve already decided they want to hire you and once you have a firm offer than if you bring it up earlier.

6. Pursuing a job without notifying a recruiter

A recruiter reached out to me on LinkedIn about one month ago with a Project Manager role. I interviewed for the position and absolutely loved the company, but the role wasn’t a good fit for me (I’m looking for a more hybrid marketing management role), so after a few days of serious reflection, I decided to pass on the offer. I conveyed my decision to the recruiter and he was very accepting of it, so the whole situation ended on a positive note for everyone involved.

However, the company reached out to me directly a few days ago to see if I was interested in a new role that they were creating for a marketing manager (the description that they have in mind is exactly what I’ve been looking for!). I’d like to pursue this opportunity, but don’t want the recruiter to feel like I went behind his back and burn bridges. Is it ok for me to pursue this without notifying the recruiter?

You should let the recruiter know, because he may have a contract with the employer that requires that he be paid a commission if they hire you for anything in the six months or year following his introduction.

7. Switching staffing firms while keeping my contract job

I am a contractor currently working for a great company (hiring company) but I am unsatisfied with my staffing firm. My current contract ends in 2 months and I would like to switch to another staffing firm while keeping my current position. I’ve discussed this with my supervisor and she is very supportive.

Is this possible? If so, how do I terminate employment in a professional manner without a breach of contract or harming the hiring company?

Hmmm. The new staffing firm would need to be one that has a contract with your company, or your company would need to enter into a new contract with them. Your supervisor may be supportive, but it sounds like she doesn’t understand how this would work logically. I’d talk to your HR department and find out if it’s even possible, and if so, what steps you should take.

{ 85 comments… read them below }

  1. B*

    #1 – You were given notice a month beforehand when they were talking about it. Unfortunately, you assumed they were joking when that was not the reality. You have learned the hard way when they say something to take them at their word.

    I agree with AAM that if you start hearing of a another outing to then bring it up. But otherwise, you will have to let this one go.

    1. Elizabeth*

      That was my reaction as well. It’s still a bummer that none of the people going worked out plans for what would happen when they were gone, but they did give at least a casual heads-up.

    2. Eric*

      Actually, its completely unreasonable for you to get frustrated over a one time event. Leaving early for a sporting event? Sounds like 2 hours. You can’t find something for your new employees to do in your own department for 2 hours?

      1. clobbered*

        Yeah. If my group’s work was really dead in the water because another group was having an away day, I’d take them out for beer. If not, we’d get on with it. Either way, no complaining.

  2. Sean*

    When it comes to #3 I personally look at it this way: When you’re at an interview, the employer has only gotten a small glance at you from your resume and cover letter (and application if the company has one of the online application that have questions asked not related to your resume). Your interview is your opportunity to build onto your resume and to build yourself up in the eyes of the employer, but tearing someone else down to the manager will result in tearing yourself down in their eyes. Give a lovely review of your friend if they ask, say they are a hard worker themselves, but saying they suck will just make you look catty. As usual, Alison’s advice is right on the money.

    1. Elizabeth*

      Is this actually likely, though – that an interviewer would ask one candidate what they thought of another candidate? It seems like an awkward position to put someone in – very reality show drama-baiting. “Clarissa, who on your team should go to Fashion Week, and who should be OUT?”

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, that’s definitely not likely. But it could be something like, “I see you worked at X last year. Do you know John Smith, who worked there then too?”

  3. Anony*

    #2-. Disclosing a recent medical condition when job searching

    First all, congrats and you are an extremly strong person! I wouldn’t disclose your medical condition. After all, it’s your personal life and as long as it’s not affecting your work, then there’s absolutely no reason too.

    1. Rana*

      I think the concern was that the doctor’s visits would indeed be something that could affect their work, just because of being out of the office at that time.

    2. Camellia*

      I agree with Anony – there is no reason to disclose this. The OP says it would be a half-day or less, every few months. That is usually a very reasonable request in any job; it could be for a dentist visit or whatever.

  4. quix*

    @ #6, the caveat is “unless you really need the job” because there’s a chance the employer won’t follow through if the contractor calls trying to collect on your hire.

    I might have more qualms if it was the same position the recruiter was shopping you for, but when it’s a different position than the one they tried to place you in, I probably would not risk it.

    1. Camellia*

      I agree. The company contacted you, not the other way around, and they should be aware of any obligations they may have to the recruiting firm.

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      On the one hand, OP could really be burning a bridge with this approach. On the other, she’s not a party to the contract between the recruiter and the company. They *should* be able to figure it out.

      Though I think this is one of those things that, while you’re not going to look awful if you’re asked later and just say “Oh, I assumed the details had been worked out between you guys.” On the other, a truly *exceptional* employee/person would probably reach out to the recruiter, if only with a thank you note: “Thank you so much for introducing me to Company X! I’ve just accepted their Marketing Manager position, and I start on x. Blah blah, all because of you.” Then you’ve alerted them, if they didn’t know, and if they did, it’s still natural and non-awkward.

  5. Brett*

    #6 — I hate it when employers and recruiters try to (inadvertently or not) avoid paying each other or otherwise fulfilling their contracts. The candidate is always in the middle of an extremely awkward situation.

    I’d be half tempted to wait till I had the job and then either rely on my LinkedIn status change giving the recruiter the heads up or sending them an innocuous thank-you note for the original introduction. You can always claim you had no idea there was any contractual obligation for the employer to pay them for other positions (which is true, you can only guess in this situation!).

  6. Angela S.*

    #5 – I work with more than a few Jews. I understand that you’ve just had a lot of Jewish holidays recently!

    Besides what AAM had suggested, I recommend that you would reach out to your own Jewish community and talk to people who have “regular” jobs. You should ask them how they handle the situation that you’ve just described here. I can’t imagine that you are the only Jew in the world who experience such a problem. The law can only protect you so much. So, you should also learn to be accommodating.

    And ask your co-workers to be accommodating as well. A friend of mine works for a boss who is a Jew. In the last Jewish holiday, the boss told him to take it easy during the day. But after sunset (and at the time when me and the friend and a few others were having dinner at a restaurant) the boss started calling my friend’s cellphone, wanting to go over a report. Some employees would be very pissed if the boss would do such a thing; my friend had a good sense of humour so promised the boss that he could talk after we finished dinner. You just have to learn how far you could push your non-Jew co-workers.

    1. B*

      I actually take a bit of offense to the “how-far you can push your non-Jew coworkers.” They are not asking for special treatment because of a hangnail, they are asking for legitimate religious reasons. If the OP is using his vacation days for the holidays that should not be a problem. And leaving early on Fridays does not mean 12pm and only for approximately 6 months of the year.

      As someone who is Jewish it is frustrating to always use vacation days for our holiest of holidays when others do not need to for Christmas, Good Friday, etc. Yes, there are more Jewish holidays the OP will need to take off for but if the company accommodates one religion they need to accommodate them all.

      1. Heather*

        Can I ask – do you work on Christmas Day/Good Fridaythen? I always wondered about that – if one would have to take the Christian holidays off as well as these are statutory holidays.

        1. K*

          If they’re in the U.S., most offices are closed on Christmas. I’ve known a number of Jewish people who have volunteered to work on Christmas for those offices that do need to be staffed to some degree, though.

          And I’ve never gotten Good Friday off and certainly never known a non-Christian person to take it off as a matter of course, so . . . .

        2. B*

          I did not have to work those holidays as the companies automatically closed. If given the option though, I would have worked those days if it meant I did not have to use vacation days for Rosh Hoshana, Yom Kippur, etc.

          1. BW*

            This is why I like floating holidays. My employer gives everyone federal holidays off, but then gives people a set number of days they can take on holidays of their choosing. Employees may also opt to work a holiday in exchange for another. I worked for another place that gave 10 paid holidays that were pre-scheduled but allowed workers to work a paid holiday and take another one off in its place. I feel like this is more fair to everyone.

        3. Laura L*

          This is anecdotal, but my grandfather from the Jewish side of the family was in the military and he generally volunteered to work on Christmas because it wasn’t a big deal for him to do that. And he wasn’t even particularly observant.

          So, there’s that option.

          Additionally, I know a few atheists who don’t celebrate Christmas even secularly who work on Christmas.

          1. Chinook*

            Ditto on it being a win-win option when available. When I worked for a very Canadian coffee shop out east, 2 Muslim volunteered to take the Christmas day shift. Turned out we were the only one open in the city that day because when a radio announcer said, as a PSA, that he found a coffee shop open, they said they could see the traffic increase crossing the bridge immediately. They said they made A LOT in tips, some of which $5 tips for a couple cups of coffee.

            And no one was jealous because they all got to be with family.

      2. The IT Manager*

        Christmas is a US federal holiday, but Good Friday? In south Lousiana where I grew up a good number of people got off on Good Friday. Everywhere else I’ve lived since then barely noticed that Easter was a religious holiday, and it seemed that no business was closed on Good Friday . Good Friday was a normal work day and a person wanting it off would need to take vacation. OTOH Easter is always on a Sunday so most businesses except stores are closed anyway.

      3. Angela S.*

        I am sorry if you are offended. I don’t mean it. Perhaps my example was a bit extreme, but it was a true story. I was there when my friend picked up the phone and spoke to his Jewish boss at dinner time. Not many employees would want their boss to call them at that time of the day. I’m sure that the boss was only thinking of making up the lost time for the Jewish celebration during the day by working in that particular evening, after the day was over. That happened and it happened a few weeks ago.

        But I disagree that they aren’t asking for special treatment. When you look at September and October, and see how many Jewish holidays happening in these 2 months, you may see my point. The world doesn’t stop just because a certain group of people decides to take a vacation. If you work in a particular industry or department in which September is a busy month… well, you perhaps are in the wrong industry.

        Just wanted to give you a bit of my background – I’m Chinese living in Canada. However, I choose not to take vacation days around the Chinese new year. Why? For the industry I’m in, between January and April is the busiest time of the year (and usually Chinese New Year falls in the beginning of February). In fact, my boss put it in the HR handbook that he wouldn’t approve vacation days to happen between these 2 months unless we could come up with some extreme reasons. I’m sure I can accuse my boss for being a racist if he wouldn’t let me take vacation days around the Chinese New Year. But sometimes, you just have to pick and choose your battle.

        Like I said, I’m sure OP is not the only Jew who faces this problem. I think he should reach out to people who share a similar background and learn how other companies and bosses work around this issue.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          “The world doesn’t stop just because a certain group of people decides to take a vacation.”

          For religious Jews, these days aren’t a vacation. They’re a religious requirement … which the law requires employers over a certain size to accommodate unless it causes undue hardship.

        2. Heather*

          Technically that’s illegal. In Alberta, at least, it is illegal for an employer to deny an employee the right to observe their religious holiday. I’m assuming it would be the same for all provinces. And as long as it doesn’t create undue hardship for the employer. Which they would have to prove. It’s completely your right to not ask for this but don’t make it out like you are doing anyone a big favour and other religious groups are being completely unreasonable because they only want the opportunity to practice their religion.

          1. Chinook*

            Why wow? This is the same attitude presented in the comments last week when that OP complained about new employee wanting Christmas Eve and Good Friday off for religious reasons. I agree that it is a harsh statement but it does seem to sum up a lot of opinions found here.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I’ve been waiting for someone to ask about that. This is a different situation; the OP is planning to discuss this before accepting a job offer, versus the previous question where the person had accepted the job before announcing her needed accommodation (and chose a small employer where the law wouldn’t apply).

              And I haven’t seen anyone arguing that religious obligations are “vacation,” until the comment that prompted Kerry’s understandable “wow.”

              I do recall some people in the previous post questioning whether Christmas Eve was truly a religious requirement, which is an understandable question given that it’s not considered that by most Christmas-celebrators in this country, but others quickly pointed out that it’s not an employer’s role to judge how someone practices their religion (only whether or not they can accommodate it).

            2. fposte*

              I think you’ve been misreading a lot of the comments, though. The employee in the earlier post isn’t wrong for wanting to observe religious holidays, she’s wrong for expecting that accommodation to be available regardless of employer needs or legal protections. The OP here is doing what that employee should have done.

        3. EngineerGirl*

          Chinese New Year is more of a culteral holiday Vs a religious one. So think 4th of July and Thanksgiving Vs Easter and Christmas. But they aren’t the same.

          I know that one of my corporations companies has what they call “time off”. It isn’t associated with holidays and vacation. That way each individual can create their own holidays. Seems to make sense to me instead of forcing a Jew to take time off on Christmas instead of Yom Kippur.

      4. AP*

        On the East Coast, Jewish Fridays usually mean 1 or 12 pm, depending on the time of year, which is pretty early. (At least, B&H and Adorama in NYC close at that time and I’m counting them as the experts on Orthodoxy. Although it’s probable that their working hours are longer than their ‘open’ hours! But not by more than an hour or so.)

        Anyway, thats a good 5-6 hours off from the typical 40- or 50-work week. Can you make up those hours otherwise, maybe staying til 7pm Mon-Thur? I might be crucified here, but as an employer I’m adding that up as 16 days of year for vacation, plus 1/2 day every week – thats another 12.5 days per year. So you need to make sure you’re applying for jobs that would offer around 30 days of vacation per year – thats a lot, no? I think that your religious obligations are a little out of the mainstream, especially in a contemporary spiritual situation, but not ridiculous as long as you’re looking for the type of job that regularly offers that type of benefits. It’s so hard to find out what a typical salary for any position is, let alone benefits, but I would try to see the offer and look at the whole package and then try to negotiate from there, while being flexible – if the only time the CEO comes to meet with your prospective department is 4pm on Fridays, you might be SOL. Maybe your position is important enough to merit a change of his schedule, maybe it isn’t. But everyone needs to be on the same page before signing anything or you’ll all be miserable.

        Okay, discuss and tell me why what I said is awful and offensive…

        1. AP*

          Also I work on Good Friday every year and am confused by people who people tell me it should be a day off – really? I understand that its a Religious Day of Obligation but so are Corpus Christi and All Saints Day (next Thursday, and no one seems to be freaking out.)

          1. Jamie*

            I think a lot of this is cultural. IME a lot of people from Mexico and some South American countries do take it off for religious purposes, even though I (as a Catholic of European descent) have no need. If a high percentage of your staff would be taking the day anyway, just makes sense to make it a company holiday and not try to run with a skeleton crew.

            I take the day typically, because I’m not a martyr and who doesn’t love a long weekend? :). However, I understand that tose who don’t have very real convictions for this needing to be a day off even though it’s not how I feel – the same religion can be practiced differently by different groups.

            1. Chinook*

              For those of you think that taking a day off first religious reasons is the same as a long weekend, you are very much mistaken. As a practicing Catholic involved in the Church ministries, my Easter weekend is known as the Tridium and is considered to be one long mass starting Thursday night and finishing with Easter Vigil Saturday night (which must start after sunset). I am not in Church the whole time but I am in that mindset. Now, not every Catholic practices that way, but those who choose to (like an Orthodox Jewish with their many holy days) are not on vacation mode.

                1. Jamie*

                  Thanks. Yes, I tried to be clear that I know people do them off for valid religious reasons, but for me it’s just a long weekend.

                  My point was Good Friday is one of thoses days that are practiced differently (if at all) even among people under the same umbrella of faith.

          2. Mike C.*

            Great, I’d love to hear about how you never take sick days and how you work harder than everyone else and how you never ask for raises and you pay for your own office supplies and so on. I can’t wait.

          3. LK*

            Actually, Good Friday isn’t a Holy Day of Obligation, and Corpus Christi is celebrated on a Sunday. As for All Saints, all that’s required is Mass (approx. 1 hour) and most churches accomodate people’s work schedules by offering services in the evening or early morning. Good Friday is a little different because it’s celebrated a variety of ways, some of which occur during hours of a normal workday.

            That’s what makes being Christian much more easy to integrate with work life – there are many less “mandatory” days, and usually important religious days are automatically accomodated (ie Christmas) or can be accomodated with little disruption. I’m Catholic and many of my friends are Jewish, and it seems that it’s alot easier for my work & faith lives to co-exist. Although I live on the East coast, and I don’t know any Jews who leave work at noon every Friday for Shabbat – that’s awfully early (the earliest the sun ever sets here is 4:30ish).

            1. Laura L*

              IMO, the reason it’s easier to be Christian and have a full-time job in the US is that the majority of Americans are Christian, so business practices and federal laws have developed to accommodate practicing Christians (e.g. having Sundays off, having Christmas off, etc.).

              If the majority of Americans were Jewish or Muslim or something else, I’m sure that laws and customs would reflect that religion and it would be more difficult to work and be a Christian.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I don’t think that’s what he’s asking for at all; he simply said he needs to be home by sunset on Friday, which is pretty normal for orthodox Jews, not noon. We’re talking about leaving an hour or two early one day per week, which is easily made up by coming in earlier that day.

          And I don’t really think observant Jews are all that out of the mainstream (nor would it really matter if they were).

          1. The IT Manager*

            For an American, I think it really depends where you live in the US. I counted only two Jewish friends in college in Missouri and they weren’t particularly observant that I saw (fairly normal for a college student out on their own for the first time probably). Then I was in the military and ended up living in Florida, Colorado, Beligium, Texas, and South Carolina, and I don’t recall ever meeting an observant Jew. Maybe it was my peer group, but I find the number of Jewish characters on American TV to be much greater than what I encounter in my day to day life. (That’s probably because so many TV shows are set in New Tork or LA where I get the feeling that a greater percentage of Jews live.) And the ones I do encounter seem not to be actively practicing. (My friends live-in boyfriend for example who’s two kids are practicing Catholics from his first wife and is now dating a Lutheran. His mother seems a bit more concerned about his partners’ religion than he does.)

            So the point I am trying to make is that a lot of Americans, particularly those outside large cities, won’t have encountered very many observant Jews. And many of the Jews they have encountered will be non-observant, or non-observant enough, not to have to worry about these accomidation at work for religious observance so there’s an ignorance out there that’s not caused by prejudice. A Jew saying that have to be home before dark on Fridays is just as odd to me as a Muslim who fasts throughout the day during Ramadan. I know it happens, but in far away places foreign to me.

            1. The IT Manager*

              Long story short because I lost track of my point. while writing it:

              In my experience observant Jews are not really mainstream. (Not that it matters that they are not.)

              1. Jamie*

                It is very different by region.

                As a little girl I absolutely assumed most of the world was Jewish and we were the ones who were so different. Because as a kid your world is very small. Most people in my neighborhood were Jewish some only really saw “the others like me” on Sunday’s at church.

                So I can see people being unfamiliar with practices if they didn’t have a Jewish community in their neighborhood.

                Side benefit is that I’m the go-to when someone makes a Yiddish comment or Jewish reference they don’t understand. All those hours on Sunday morning in front of the tv watching Tiny Tov and the Magic Door really paid off.

                (I know I’m 100 years old but please tell me someone else remembers Tiny Tov!)

                1. fposte*

                  Aha, that’s why I knew I had previous knowledge of your Chicago upbringing. We A-room-zoom-zoomed together.

              2. BW*

                Observant Jews, Muslims fasting for Ramadan, and Hindus fasting and taking off whatever holiday they just had in September is pretty much par for the course where I’m at. The Hindu thing was new for me this year, but I’m so used to people needing to alter their schedule or fast for religious observances, I didn’t find it odd at all.

                It really can depend on where you live what you think is “mainstream”. I had not even encountered anyone who was non-Christian until I was in my teens, and that was when my church youth group invited a Jewish couple to come meet with us to teach us about Jewish Passover. Heck, church was the only place I knew other Protestants existed. I had no idea mainstream Protestants were the majority nationwide. :p. So yeh…YMMV by region.

              3. Laura L*

                Well, from a statistical persepective they aren’t as they’re only about 1.7% to 2.2% of the population of the US. (This is according to Wikipedia and the first number is for religiously identified Jews and the second is for culturally/ethnically identified Jews).

                Which is approximately the same as the percentage of American Mormons.

                However, yes, depending on where you live the the percentage can be much higher or lower.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I think you’re right that it depends on where you live. It seems pretty unremarkable to me, but then I AM Jewish, so my perspective may be skewed. Non-practicing, although my sister is as observant as you can get without being Orthodox.

              1. Angela S.*

                I hope that I didn’t offend you, AAM? I didn’t mean it!

                As I’ve said, I have Jewish co-workers and they took time off for the Jewish New Year. Their works were covered by others and everything worked out fine. From the point of view of a non-Jew, I think that as long as you get your job done and/or your job will be covered while you are away, you are fine. It will be just the same if I need to take a week off from work for whatever reason – I hope I could get my work done well in advance, and I would get others to cover my job while I am away. For me, to ask my co-worker to cover for me while I am away is to ask for a favour… I should always expect that he would say no.

            3. Zed*

              I mean no offense, IT Manager, but your comment is so mind-boggling! Granted, this is because I grew up in an East Coast Big City and my neighborhood had three synagogues, several kosher establishments (produce store, bakery, pizzeria, bagel shop), and an eruv.

              1. The IT Manager*

                No offense taken. I have learned that my experience is not universal even in the US, and I try (but often fail) to remember that. I live the a large Florida city now. I’ve noticed a couple of synagogues (compared to the 100s of Christian houses of worship around) and maybe one kosher establishment (I didn’t pay too much attention).

                Side note unrelated to actual religion. I first tried bagels, post-college in Colorado – Einstein Brothers chain and liked them. No bagels in Europe and I was looking forward to them when I returned to the US, but there weren’t any bagel shops that I found in my next home in a mid-sized South Carolina city. Barring travel I think I found my next bagel shop when I moved to Texas.

              2. Rana*

                I can completely understand how someone could live in an area and have little experience with Jewish people, period, not just observant Jews. When we were living in Indiana, for example, we had to drive an hour to Indianapolis just to buy matzot for Passover; this was a big change from when we’d been in California and the local stores all had big endcap displays of kosher food and sometimes even a rabbi from the local synagogue there to explain their proper use.

        3. Kerry*

          Most Jewish businesses outside, like, the Shetlands close to the public at noon or 1pm on Fridays and erev holidays to give time for closing up, doing inventory and that sort of thing, and so they don’t have to kick a member of the public out for lingering a few minutes past closing – just to give themselves that leeway.

          In London, which is around the same latitude as Calgary, CA, Jews leave the office around 3:15pm in the middle of December (ie, the shortest days of the year) and it’s only an issue from about now (because of daylight saving time, which starts this week) to mid-February – and for most of that time it’s knocking off around 4:30 instead of 5, which can be easily made up for by working part of lunch. Places south of that (ie, the whole US) will have longer days in winter, so in Atlanta, for example, if you lived less than half an hour from your office, it would *never* be an issue.

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, “dark on Friday” is a very different o’clock at different places and different times of the year.

            These restrictions are actually easier to accommodate in practice than it may sound to people in theory. Unless people don’t get days off or are expected to work both Saturday and Sunday, this folds in pretty neatly with a little Friday timeshifting. If there are weekend staffing expectations, I agree that being proactive about swapping days with people and being willing to cover for other people’s holidays turns an unusual schedule into a plus, and in some industries it would even be worth making that point.

        4. Elise*

          If someone needed to leave that many hours early every Friday, that’s an easy fix. Either they can work on Sunday, or they can work a 9-10 hour shift Monday to Thursday.

          My employer recently got on board with the idea of alternate work schedules, so now I work four 10 hour shifts and get one day completely off a week. Others work 9 hours four days and then get either a short day each week, or a day off every other week.

          I don’t think it would be an issue most places for the OP to be allowed to work 9 hours Mon-Thurs and then only need to do 4 hours on Friday.

        5. nuqotw*

          I am an Orthodox Jew. Orthodoxy is not a monolith, and there are variations in practice. That said:

          (1) B&H is a business owned by (very) Orthodox Jews. Closing at noon is function of the ownership – owners can run their business however they want, and they prefer to close then. They don’t (need to) close so early to get home by sunset on the dot. The close so early because it’s convenient for them and their families. It’s a luxury that most Orthodox Jews don’t have.

          B&H should not be taken as an example for the timing of leaving work on Friday for your average Orthodox Jewish employee of your average not-necessarily Jewish-owned business. It’s much more normal to leave as late as you can and still make it home before sunset. Many, if not most people do not have the luxury of several hours at home on Friday afternoon, and make all of their preparations Thursday night so as to be at work as much of the regular week as possible. And, yes, you can easily make it up those few hours by working a little longer during the rest of the week.

          (2) Most Orthodox Jews employed by a mainstream employer feel tremendous trepidation over this issue, and work really hard to make sure that their observance has minimal if any impact on the employer.

          (3) It’s not clear what the OP is planning on asking for – extra vacation time, an adjusted schedule, just giving the employer a heads up that s/he will need to take her/his vacation time in a very rigid way, or some combination. In any case, it should not be unreasonable to ask for extra vacation time when negotiating terms of employment – asking for more money is seen as normal, and that is, from the employer’s perspective, the same as asking for more time.

          1. Blue Dog*

            We have a larger office and our team has a dozen or so people on it. Although not orthodox, one of our members is very devout and if you were to add up all time up he takes off, it would be several weeks per year. While the team covers for him as his shabbat goys, he picks up slack for them on Sundays, or Christmas Eve or Easter or even just a kids’ birthday when someone is looking to get out a little early. Everyone has special needs that they would like accommodated from time to time — they might be personal, health or religious — and as long as no one is abusing their co-workers, you try to work together with it.

        6. Shoshie*

          Jewish organizations often close super early on Friday because it’s more convenient. You can go home, cook and clean (actions that are forbidden on Sabbath), prepare for company, which we often have on Friday night. Get all your affairs in order before disconnecting from the world for 25 hrs. Do any necessary travel. But for those of us who don’t work for Jewish institutions, we often cut things really close and make up the time where we can. In the winter, I’ll show up at work around 5:30 or 6 am so that I can leave around 2:30 or 3. I’ll also work through lunch on other days or stay later to make up for time. My husband does the same.

          So basically, what you said isn’t offensive so much as very much misinformed.

      5. Kerry*

        Yeah, Good Friday and Easter Monday are both public holidays in the UK (as is the Monday after Whitsunday), and I have do admit I do feel a little resentful about how easy it is for practicing Anglicans to ‘do’ their religion while I have to use personal days for all the Jewish ones. But then I go ‘eh, free four-day weekend!’ like everyone else in the country.

        As a side note, I’m amused that you posted the Jewish question right on a Friday night, when most practicing Orthodox Jews (which I am not) aren’t going to be around a computer for a while!

        1. Laura L*

          My impression is that the UK takes Easter much more seriously than the US does, but for Christmas, it’s the reverse. Is that true?

      6. Jamie*

        I agree with you in theory, but accommodating all isn’t practical in theory. You could have offices shut down a huge percentage of the year for every religious holiday…also the law doesn’t just protect organized religious activity but personal beliefs. If someone decided they were never ever going to work Wednesdays because of their own “personal and deeply held beliefs” which is the way the law is worded businesses would be in court trying to prove undue hardship. For large businesses with 1000s of employees it would be a nightmare.

        Also, most businesses are closed Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, Thanksgivng, etc because of the holiday but also because most other businesses are closed. You can’t have your non-celebrating employees work Christmas if they are in the shipping department, or any customer/vendor/B2B facing role which is a lot of them.

        You can argue it shouldn’t be part of our culture that religious holidays are standard days off – like the non-religious like t-giving, 4th, and new years, etc. but the reality is that they are. So the employer isn’t seeing any value in letting his sales team work Christmas.

        I had all the Jewish holidays off as a kid because I went to public school in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood. There wouldn’t have been enough kids to justify keeping the lights on during Yom Kippur. Every so often I see a Jewish holiday on the calendar and wonder why I’m working…it feels like I should have the day off.

        1. fposte*

          Did you live in a suburb or the city, Jamie? I grew up in a predominantly Jewish suburb, and I’m wondering if we were in the same place.

          1. Jamie*

            Suburb – hence my inability to this day to parallel park.

            I grew up north of the city and now live in a southern burb (home of an Apprentice winner and a big mall!)

            It would be so weird if one suburb spawed such consistent AAM readership.

            1. fposte*

              Ooh, let’s talk like spies! I think in our youth there’d be three main contenders, and the additional dividers would be Cook or Lake County, lakeside or inland? I grew up in lakeside Cook.

              I think I used to go to your current suburb when I was little and it had the awesome Health Museum, where you could light up different parts of an enormous brain with a pointer.

              1. Rana*

                As someone living currently in Chicago and married to a Chicagoan, I’m enjoying eavesdropping! ;)

              2. Laura L*

                Is that the Robert Crown center? That might be west, not south, but I used to go there in elementary school.

  7. jessi*

    #2 – I was in a very similar situation to you a few years ago, although not nearly at all as serious. (congrats on being a cancer SURVIVOR!). Anyways – I had invisalign. and with that, I needed to go to the dentist once every month for a year. I got the Invisalign a few months before I accepted and started a new job. I didn’t know if I should bring up the monthly dentist appointments during the job search, or after.

    I decided to wait until I had started working to tell my boss- my appointments basically meant that I would arrive at work 2 hours later than normal (horrible commute plus not good dentist hours) once a month. Anyways, my boss was totally cool with that – especially where we do all have laptops, and if there is something pressing, I can always do it in the morning before the dentist appointment.

    It seems like most employers these days are cool with taking time off for appointments assuming you’re one of us corporate drones with a laptop and VPN connection. I wouldn’t sweat it!

  8. Keith*

    #6 I wouldn’t let the recruiter know until after an offer is presented. If you accept it, its your choice to try to get the recruiter the comission. The problem here is that the recruiter originally presented you on a different job title, so it’s kind of a grey area whether or not they should be paid for a it if you accept it.

  9. Penguin*

    #5- oddly, a 24/7 place such as a callcenter may suit you best. I was a manager in a airlines reservation callcenter and we had a lot of deeply religious folk of all denominations working there because they could all take off their own holidays (or if not, swap shifts to get those holidays off), and then, if not Christian, work the “official” US holidays.

  10. Michael*

    #2 – Disclosing a medical condition

    Absolutely not. Doctors visits are unlike vacations – they aren’t optional when you have or have had a medical condition with requires followup and maintenance. Unlike previously scheduled vacations, there is absolutely no reason to disclose doctors visits when negotiating an offer in my opinion.

    I have a medical condition that isn’t noticeable when someone meets me, and I have never disclosed it prior to day 1 in a new job/role. In the past I’ve made a point to have a discussion with my new manager explaining that I have condition Y and will have to go to the doctor X number of times/frequency and here is how I will make up the time or that I’ll use part of a personal day instead. After that initial conversation, however, I don’t make a point to inform them that I’m going to the doctor instead just saying “I need to take half a day on X date. Is that OK?” I think I was asked one time if I could take the half day the next day, but once I explained it was a doctors appointment there wasn’t an issue taking it when needed.

  11. fposte*

    On #3: Just “kind of” praising him looks like trying to get a badmouth in under the radar. If you genuinely think he’s a walking disaster in a workplace from the stories he’s told you about supplies theft, you can say “I’ve never worked with him, but he’s a great friend.” That’s about as far as you can go without bringing your own character into question. Otherwise he’s a great friend and you’re sure he’d be an asset to wherever hires him.

  12. BW*

    #3 – Really? I can’t believe someone is asking if they should badmouth a *friend*. Why oh why would anyone even have to ask this. How sad!

    The hiring manager is unlikely to know that the LW and this person are friends. I can’t imagine this question would even come up, and the LW certainly should just volunteer any comment at all. That would be weird, and if it were a negative comment, that would look really suspect for some undermining petty rivalry. Just don’t do it. Compete on your own merits. Don’t worry about your friend.

    More important, this person *is your friend*. Badmouthing a friend behind his back competing for the same job (or anything), presumably to get a leg up, is all kinds of wrong! If that’s the thinking here, just outright stab the guy in the back. It’s a wee bit nicer.

  13. AHK!*

    #5–I would wait until you have the job offer to mention anything about your observance. When you do have the job offer, and you talk to your manager about the situation, just keep in mind that s/he may not what this means or how it affects him/her. Explain that you will need to leave early on Fridays, but you should expect to stay as late as possible (e.g., 2:00 pm in winter when sunset is 4:00). It’s also helpful if you offer a few scenarios of how you can make up the time that you’re leaving early on Fridays. In my case, my manager decided it was easier to have me leave at the same time every Friday all year, so I leave at 2:00 and then just work later on different days in the week to make up the time.

    Regarding holidays, we’re past the major season for that now, so it might not be as major a concern in your job search. But basically, unless you work for a Jewish organizations, you should expect to use vacation time up for the holidays. And not even counting the interim days in Passover and Sukkot (OP mentioned 8+ days), holidays may eat up all of your vacation time.

  14. OP #4*

    I forgot to write in the aftermath of his 1 year evaluation. He was offered another 10% raise and was given 1 month’s salary as a bonus!

Comments are closed.