wee answer Wednesday — 6 short answers to 6 short questions

It’s wee answer Wednesday — six short answers to six short questions. Here we go…

1. Asking to come back to an interview question

I’ve always been told (and told others-eek!) that if you can”t answer a behaviorally related question (“Can you think of a time when you’ve XYZ”) immediately, it’s perfectly fine to ask to come back to this question. My mother is very strong on this and has been in charge of hiring for her organization for several years, and I also do recruitment as part of several of my roles, and prefer this to a flubbed answer, but as I think you have said before, it’s all about how the applicant handles it.

However, I recently interviewed for another position that I appeared to be well qualified for, and when the company finally contacted me back to advise I was unsuccessful, the feedback was that this made the interviewer uncomfortable: she found it “highly unusual” and “sometimes you just have to give it a go.” I was extremely surprised to hear this, as during the interview I said “I’d really love to give you a work related example so could I take a second to get back to you on that one,” and then I voluntarily came back to the question and gave what I thought was a really good answer which demonstrated my performance and success in a similar role.

I’d be very interested to know your thoughts — have I had bad advice, or is this interviewer just a weird anomaly? The only other thing I could think of was that I came across as “pushy” by choosing when I wanted to ask the question, but I did ask reeeeally nicely!

Weird anomaly. If you don’t have an answer on the spot, it doesn’t make sense to make the interviewer sit there for five minutes while you try to come up with one. What you did is perfectly fine, as long as (a) you really do come back to the question on your own, and (b) you don’t do this when the question is one you should have been prepared for (like questions about why you’d excel in the role or what you’re looking for in your next job).

2. Do employers have to provide the same benefits to all employees?

Are employers legally obligated to provide the same basic benefits to all employees? Can employees be selectively denied benefits (such as health insurance, paid time off, or education assistance) that are available to other employees? What if the other employees work in a different position or department?

Employers can offer different benefits to different classes of employees, such as: part-time and full-time employees, employees working in different geographic locations, employees with different dates of hire or lengths of employment, and exempt employees and non-exempt employees. They can’t treat employees differently based on any protected class, like race, religion, or sex, of course — but differences like the ones I described in the first sentence are pretty common.

3. My boss is having an affair with my estranged wife

My small, high-skill company has few formal policies. A year ago, they allowed my best friend of 24 years to hire me as a direct subordinate. As my boss, he’s been an excellent manager, and our productivity and work quality have impressed the executives. As my best friend, he naturally became well acquainted with my common-law wife from the day I met her 7 years ago. When she packed her bags last month, my life became agony. I sure felt lucky that my boss could tolerate my low (zero) productivity, and that my friend stood at my side as adviser and confidant.

Three weeks after she left, my friend/boss comes to my home to confess that they had been dating for a week. During that week, he used my outpouring of personal confidences to formulate advise that served his purpose of getting me out of his way. He admitted that he deliberated carefully. A potential wife for him at the cost of (1) throwing his best friend under a bus at the height of the most heart-wrenching pain of my life, (2) losing a valuable corporate asset (me), which would lead to my immediate homelessness. Mind you, there had been no prior personal friction that might explain his betrayal. He simply, out of the blue, decided that dating this fine woman made all these consequences palatable. This is not the man I knew for 24 years. I don’t know who he is anymore.

But job opportunities in my specialty are precious few these days, and I have no savings. On the other hand, my productivity is still abysmal with no foreseeable improvement. My ability to conduct business under this man’s supervision has been broken in a way that may not be fixable. How can I keep my job? Should I? (Really, living in a shelter could be no worse than this.) What would a (higher) manager do if this unfolded in a lower part of the hierarchy? Has misconduct occurred? Abuse of an employee? Living this ongoing nightmare day-by-day is beyond my endurance. But what can I do except endure?

How terrible. I’m so sorry. It’s possible that your company would consider this misconduct by your boss, although I’m not sure that that will really help you in any tangible way if they do. I think your best bet is to start job searching, and move to a new job as soon as possible. Good luck.

4. Required to take time off for lunch

I work in Massachusetts as a temp, and was wondering if I can be required by my boss to take time off for lunch. The email I recently received (after having my hours cut due to lower work volume in the office) said, “Please take a 30 minute lunch if you work over 5 hours. It needs to be shown on your timesheet.” My (limited) understanding was that I’m entitled to lunch if I work over 6 hours, but that I need to be compensated if I agree to work through lunch and remain on the premises.

However, I’m wondering if mandating unpaid lunches falls under the “these are the conditions of employment, take it or leave it” category. What are your thoughts?

Yes, you can be required to take an unpaid lunch break. You’re correct that your state law requires a break to be offered if you work more than 6 hours, but it doesn’t prevent an employer from requiring a break earlier than that, or requiring additional breaks.

5. Listing classes on LinkedIn

LinkedIn keeps asking me to list my classes taken at university, high school and independently. Is there value in having those listed? I have a number of independent courses and two college degrees, so they are asking for a rather large time investment to put all those in. Do you think employers want to see every class you’ve taken? Just the ones related to your degree or the job you’re applying for? Or should I not even bother?

Don’t bother. With the exception of a very small number of fields, employers don’t care. (And even in those few exceptions, no one cares about high school. No one.)

6. Male coworker seems to be hitting on me

There is a very social male coworker in my office. I, on the other hand, am an extremely shy introvert. Since he joined the company he visits me at least once a day. He also visits other coworkers, but his visits with me consist of asking about my weekends or how work is going. He also compliments me on my outfits, compliments I’ve not heard him give to other coworkers. The compliments aren’t inappropriate or anything — just “you look great in red” or “you’re hair looks nice.” I’ve always thanked him and then changed the topic or went back to my work.

Two months ago, he started to put his hands on my shoulders. Having this happen, much less having to confront him was mortifying. After the third time I pulled away and made it clear that it wasn’t appropriate. After that, I *thought* he got the picture that we could be friendly with professional boundaries. On Valentines, I found a very nice box of chocolates and two pink roses on my desk. It is an open environment, so everyone in the office noticed (much to my embarrassment). He confessed to leaving them. I thanked him and then changed the subject. See how much I like to avoid rather than addressing it?

Last Friday he emailed me an invitation for a lunch meeting for this Friday. The meeting is to discuss some freelance work (something I said I was interested in before the chocolate and flowers incident). Everyone I’ve asked thinks he has an ulterior motive for the lunch — that the offer for freelance work is just a way to get me to go to lunch and he’s really testing the waters. Would you recommend that I go to the lunch? Or would it be best to politely withdraw? If I do go, should I prepare for the possibility of him asking me out or am I just over thinking it?

You can certainly go to the lunch, but go with the full knowledge that he’s going to see it as an opportunity to advance his romantic agenda with you. No one gives chocolates and roses on Valentine’s Day to someone who they’re not pursuing. He’s pursuing you; it’s not business. Proceed with that in mind.

{ 90 comments… read them below }

  1. Liz T*

    …and please make sure he knows that you’re not interested in him romantically, if that’s the case. There’s not much he’s doing wrong here, if he doesn’t know you want him to stop.

    1. A Bug!*

      I agree. At this point, there really is no “plausible deniability” as to his intentions, so you need to make sure you’re both on the same page.

      In fact, you can say exactly that. “In light of the Valentine’s Day gift, I need to make sure we’re not getting our wires crossed. Will all due respect, your gift made me a bit uncomfortable and I wasn’t sure how to respond. But please let me be clear. I’m interested in a professional relationship with you, and only a professional relationship. That’s not going to change. If you’re on board with that, then we can talk about your freelance offer.”

      1. the gold digger*

        1. “Please don’t touch me” is a perfectly reasonable thing to say to a colleague.

        2. “No, I don’t want to go to lunch with you. I prefer to keep this a professional relationship.”

        3. “Thank you for the flowers, but I prefer to keep this a professional relationship.”

        4. “I said that I want to keep this a professional relationship. I am not interested in dating you. Please stop [giving me flowers, touching me, inviting me to lunch].”

        He is violating boundaries but you are letting him. But you knew that. :)

        You can do this. You can tell him to stop.

            1. Anonymous*

              I think only if she’s disinterested but from the account it doesn’t appear she’s expressed this to him. Her use of the term ‘hitting on’ suggests she thinks his behaviour is within an acceptable norm of courtship, albeit at the workdplace.

              1. Laura L*

                It’s still a boundary violation. People generally don’t put their hands on other people’s shoulders, out of respect for their personal space. And it’s definitely not appropriate at work.

              2. Another Anon*

                No, you seem to be saying that familiar touching (frequently grabbing someone’s shoulders) is welcome unless specifically stated otherwise. It’s the *exact opposite.* That’s not something you do unless you know they are open to it.

                Also, OP may not have expressly said “Don’t do this anymore, I don’t like you,” but her responses don’t make me think the guy is under an honest impression he’s getting the green light, either.

                1. the gold digger*

                  Nobody should have to tell someone else not to touch her at work. It should be understood.

                  But if there is someone who insists on doing it, then the person who is touched should feel perfectly comfortable telling the toucher to stop.

                2. Another Anon*

                  To the gold digger – exactly. “People get to touch you whenever and wherever they want unless you actively protest” is a really disturbing (not surprising, but still enraging) approach.

                3. A Bug!*

                  There’s a pretty common idea that “lack of no=yes” when it really should be that “lack of yes=no”, and not just in sexually-charged interactions.

                  It’s kind of part and parcel of a general lack of respect for boundaries that runs through a lot of our interactions.

                  And it’s something that I would be ecstatic to see disappear.

                4. VintageLydia*

                  A Bug! – This is why “No means no” is being changed into “Enthusiastic consent.” It’s a minor but important change to combat “rules lawyers” that like to trample over boundaries.

      2. AB*

        + 1

        I see people writing to AAM to get advice when things are already really awkward between the OP and a coworker expressing a romantic interest in her, but if the recipient of the attention never explicitly said they aren’t interested, then they are making the problem worse.

        If someone singles out a coworker with flowers or chocolate for Valentine’s, and the recipient merely replies “thanks” when she is not interested, the gifter will receive the wrong signal, and will only continue his pursuit. There is no way around being explicit about your intentions, and A Bug! provided the perfect script for that.

        1. fposte*

          Yes, I thought there was a great opportunity lost there. You say “I’m sorry, but I can’t accept these,” and you give them back.

      3. ArtsNerd*

        This is great. I’d also love advice on what to say when there IS still plausible deniability, or a genuine question about whether an invitation is platonic/professional or a romantic pursuit.

  2. Mike C.*

    OP3:

    Holy crap. I’m so, so sorry about what has happened to you.

    My best advice is to talk to a lawyer. Not about your work stuff, because in this country managers can pretty much do whatever they want so long as they aren’t doing it to you because you are a member of a protected group, but to deal with your family issues.

    You mention that this is your common-law wife, so make sure that status is meaningful in a legal sense and get everything hashed out in court. This is a really messed up situation and you need someone who is emotionally unconnected and legally trained to deal with issues like these.

    Best of luck to you!

    1. A Bug!*

      It sounds like he has no assets and I don’t get the impression there are children. Since he has no savings and he has zero job security at this time, he may not have the means to hire a lawyer.

      That said, scraping together three hundred dollars for a consult is an excellent idea, just to get your issues laid out in front of someone who brings a legal perspective to the table. (A firm which has both a family lawyer and an employment lawyer might be a good one to call up, if you don’t have anybody to ask for recommendations.)

      1. Mike C.*

        Initial consults are usually free, and while he may have nothing he may be entitled to alimony. The only person who will know anything about stuff like that is a lawyer.

        1. A Bug!*

          Most lawyers I know don’t give any actual advice at a free consult; they use them to get a handle on the issues so they can tell the client whether they’re willing to take the file and under what terms. But you’re right, it doesn’t hurt to look for a free consult if he can get one!

          1. fposte*

            In my small town, lawyers are actually pretty generous with preliminary conversations. I think it might depend what the question is–a simple “Do I have to get divorced?” might well be a freebie.

    2. fposte*

      Right. Most states don’t actually recognize common-law marriage; if that’s so, the split is simpler. But if you’re in one that does, be aware you have to actually get a divorce–that’s the point of its being legally considered a marriage.

    3. AMG*

      I don’t have very much else to add except that I am so sorry you are going through this. Prayers and good thoughts to you. At some point both of these people will be out of your life and everything will be better. I hope you find a new job very soon.

    4. Catbertismyhero*

      OP3: No matter how badly you feel, you need to focus on doing your job and doing it well. You know your boss does not have your back, and considering his actions, is not likely to protect you much longer if you are not productive. Get whatever counseling you need from your health insurance or employee assistance program to help you. It is much easier for you to get a new job if you are not living in a shelter after having been fired for cause.

  3. AnotherAlison*

    #1 – I don’t think something like that would make me uncomfortable or ultimately lead to me not hiring someone (for that reason alone). I didn’t encounter behavioral questions until I interviewed for my second job out of college and the HR person fired a bunch of them at me. I’m sure I flubbed some of them & I might have been better off to ask to come back to them. (I specifically remember getting the dealing-with-a-difficult-person question, and then immediately answering with an example of one person who was difficult without having a good closing of how I resolved the issue. As I was rambling, I was kicking myself for not choosing a different answer.)

  4. A Bug!*

    #3: First, I’m really sorry that this has happened to you.

    You mention that losing your job will make you homeless. If the boss or the company actually brings up letting you go (rather than just the threat of it which will hang over your head until that point), seriously consider asking for severance.

    And in the meantime, do whatever you can to bring your performance back up to snuff, because you can’t rely on getting a pass for your crappy performance. If you’re fired for cause your case for a severance payout becomes pretty weak.

  5. Esra*

    #6 I am comfortable with being direct with people, and I would still take a pass on that lunch. I think in the future it would be a good policy not to accept gifts etc from this coworker.

    1. fposte*

      I’d put it even more strongly. For God’s sake, don’t go! Your coworker’s subtextual question is “Will you go out with me?” At this point, every acceptance you give is a “Yes” to that question. The acceptance of the romantic Valentine’s gift is enough of a clear if unintended signal that I wouldn’t be surprised if he thought the lunch was a date at this point. Stop accepting what this man offers unless you’re interested in dating him. It’s especially a bad plan if you’re avoiding staying anything directly, because the action will speak even more loudly in the absence of a statement.

      It doesn’t work the other way, in that saying no to the lunch will not be saying no to the question for once and for all; you do need to say that you’re not interested in him romantically at this point.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I agree. If you’re not interested in him, put a stop to it now. Taking the Valentine’s gifts was a very mixed message and it’s not fair to him. You need to put your foot down.

  6. Joey*

    #3. I wouldn’t bring it up with your company. They most likely won’t want to get involved. They’ll be more interested in making the whole thing go away and making sure it doesn’t happen again. That probably means the bigger deal you make about it to your employer the more likely they’ll look critically at you, specifically your lack of performance. So I’d suggest taking some time off if you can’t function at work. Use it to aggressively look for a job and to clear your mind as best as you can. You need to get the hell out of there, but you have to minimize the negative impact its having on your performance. I’m sure you’ve learned that working for friends isn’t a good idea.

  7. The IT Manager*

    What I genuinely don’t understand about #1 is how you’ll have time to think up an answer to the question that stumped you during to rest of the interview while you’re busy answering other questions. It seems that would impact the answering of other questions.

    How do you work your back to question? Now that I’ve had a couple of minutes, let me answer that other question you asked.

    Not that I think what LW#1 did was a show stopper.

    1. Mike C.*

      Oftentimes you get reminded of things when they’ve had a chance to sit on the back burner for a bit. Ever hear a song that you couldn’t remember the title of until later? Same thing.

      1. AB*

        Also, as you answer other questions, the answer to a previous one comes to mind. It happens with me all the time; as I’ve worked in many different projects, sometimes a question triggers a memory of a past project in which I demonstrated the behavior the interviewer wanted to learn about in a previous question.

        1. Oxford Comma*

          This. I would much rather an applicant made a thoughtful answer a few minutes later than blunder around trying to answer it right away.

    2. Anonymous*

      We use this type of interview style at work and when candidates pause or tell us they cannot think of an answer we immediately offer to come back to the question later in the interview. It’s often just nerves which causes the pause and successfully answering another couple of questions is often all it takes to resolve the temporary inability to come up with a good answer.

  8. K*

    Wait, I’m dredging up some distance memory from studying for the bar exam. Aren’t employees who offer different health benefits to different classes of employees (except for part time employees) losing their right to have those benefits classified as tax exempt?

      1. the gold digger*

        I used to work for an insurance company. The only variances we offered were by class (seasonal, part-time, hourly, salaried, union, etc). I never once heard that the benefits were no longer tax exempt. This was, however, in the late 80s. Maybe things have changed.

    1. Sam*

      I think K is right, but I’m not an expert on the specifics. It’s something about tax law having a different definition of discrimination. As an example, offering certain benefits only to the highest paid employees can result in the benefit being considered as taxable income.

      1. K*

        It looks like Aetna put out a fact sheet that says:

        “In the past, an insured group health plan could provide non-taxable benefits to executives and other highly compensated individuals even if the plan discriminated in favor of those individuals with regard to eligibility to participate or benefits provided. If, however, self-funded group health plans discriminated in favor of highly compensated employees, the benefits for the highly compensated individuals would be subject to taxation under Internal Revenue Code 105(h). The
        Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has now subjected insured group health plans to similar rules as those contained within Internal Revenue Code 105(h) if they
        discriminate in favor of these persons except for insured grandfathered plans, for as long as they remain
        grandfathered. ”

        So probably affects a relatively minor section of employers but something to think about for those employers who are starting this stuff up, I guess.

      2. the gold digger*

        I think that’s more to do with 401k than with group health insurance. Sometimes, there are executive supplements for the health and life insurance that count as taxable, but for regular group health, it’s just by class.

        Even if the company offers everyone a 3% match, for example, if only the more highly-compensated employees participate in the plan, there can be tax implications. If I remember correctly from when I was a highly-compensated employee.

        I miss those days.

          1. PEBCAK*

            It’s something like your top 5% of employees…I don’t remember specifics, but it’s relative to how much other people in the company earn.

    2. Josh S*

      You’re remembering something to do with Highly Compensated Employees. I forget the exact definition, but HCEs get different limits on contributions to 401k or else the whole 401k plan can lose its tax-deferred status.

      I believe it’s confined to Defined Contribution/401k and Defined Benefit/Pension plans though, but not Health Insurance (or other) benefits.

      Quick Google result: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/h/highly-compensated-employee.asp

      1. Joey*

        Yep. That’s my understanding. It’s mostly excessive retirement contributions that can be taxed as income. Although there are some ways to minimize it.

  9. koppejackie*

    #3 – do you have any friends you can stay with? Are you able to work remotely for the time being? Anything to get you out of that situation to help you clear your head. I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

  10. Anonymous*

    #3. All things considered, you’d better start doing excellent work. At some point, either your ‘best friend’, ex or both will want to out of their lives definitively, and first and foremost, that means out of a job which you can ill-afford. No matter how bad the situation is, being unemployed and homeless will be 100 times worse.

  11. Dr. Speakeasy*

    #3 – Counseling. NOW. You’ve had the major parts of your support structure torn out from under you and you are engaging in some fatalistic thinking (I can’t possibly work at all. I’ll be homeless).

    1. some1*

      “you are engaging in some fatalistic thinking (I can’t possibly work at all. I’ll be homeless).”

      This stuck out for me, too, but I felt like the LW was just being dramatic, especially with the comment about living in a homeless shelter is better than having your spouse leave you to take up with your best friend.

      For the record, I say this as someone who’s been dumped and also someone who had to put a realistic plan together about how I was going to pay my bills after an actual job loss, not wondering if my boss was going to can me.

    2. Blinx*

      Yes, counseling! Any ONE of the challenges you are facing might be a cause to seek help, but a spouse leaving, betrayal by a best friend, and potentially losing your job AND your home? Too much to handle by yourself.

  12. Sam*

    #2

    I would also add to Alison’s advice that employers cannot offer health insurance or assess premiums based on health factors (covered under HIPAA and Affordable Care Act). And some benefits are required by law in certain circumstances (workers’ comp, FML, military leave, etc).

    1. Joey*

      Depends on what you consider health factors. Smoking and other wellness type stuff definitely can result in differences in premiums.

      1. Sam*

        I should have said health “status” or “condition” instead of factors. Company health plans can’t charge more or decline coverage if you are in poor health or become pregnant, but they can charge more if you smoke. Under the new Affordable Care Act, the only things that affect premium prices on group health are (1) age, (2) location, and (3) smoking.

  13. Josh S*

    #7: Romantic Interest

    If you want this guy to stop pursuing you, you need to be direct. As in, “I do not want to go out with you or have anything beyond a professional relationship with you. When you rub my shoulders or give me gifts, it makes me uncomfortable. Please stop.”

    The hints aren’t cutting it. I know you’re a shy introvert, but asserting yourself is likely going to be the only way to get these uncomfortable interactions to stop. (And remember, you’re not being rude or aggressive in telling him ‘no.’ You’re asserting boundaries that you have every right to assert, and establishing yourself as a person focused on being professional.)

      1. Minous*

        #6 Seems like the male colleague is using the job site as a dating venue and setting up a situation where he keeps pushing the boundary further and further. He’s not just being friendly and social. He’s caught on to the fact that you are shy and are probably not going to yell “Stop cruzing me, this is not a bar!”

        First step is to let him know clearly, as was mentioned above. If it happens again, the next step is to put it in an email. You can couch it in language that is not offensive, but it needs to be clearly documented, so you can go further with it, if need be.

        It’s one thing waiting until the end of the day and asking a person out and respecting a no response; it’s another to use company time to cruize for a date; or more. I think that if he liked you and wasn’t trying to pull a power-play he would have your best interests at heart and conduct himself in an appropriate and mature manner.

        1. Jennifer*

          And after you’ve told him “Absolutely not, I don’t date co-workers” (which is always a reasonable and justifiable reason to give, and hard for the guy to argue with unless one of you gets canned*), you need to avoid this guy as much as you can. He already sounds like a pushy, won’t take no for an answer guy as is, and you need to do the best you can to “not lead him on.” Then again, some people are just nuts and may think you’re “leading him on” just by existing in his vicinity. After you’ve told him no, if he keeps it up, you may need to start documenting.

          * though yeah, I got laid off from a job and then ended up dating the guy because I am a wimp and no longer had an excuse not to! Oh, the joys of being single… Though that fellow was perfectly nice, I just didn’t have feelings for him in that way. This dude, on the other hand….

        2. Marigold*

          Thank you for saying this, I totally agree. I was starting to get a vibe from some of the other comments that if she didn’t say “stop it,” the attention was her fault. People have to be at work and have to interact professionally. A professional relationship should be the default, not something you need to specify.

          Of course, I am viewing this through the lens of a very shy introvert. It takes a lot of mental and emotional energy to go on a date or go out with people socially. It would be really stressful for me to have to be in that mode while I was at work. It’s a stress that extroverts have a very hard time understanding, so it usually gets dismissed.

          1. fposte*

            I don’t think it’s a question of fault; I think the point is that we all have a responsibility to say no instead of hinting if we’re rejecting an overture. Being a shy introvert doesn’t relieve us of that responsibility.

          2. Josh S*

            Definitely not her fault. Or his.

            In his mind, he’s getting ambivalent responses to his rather direct overtures, but nothing that signals “no interest.”

            In her mind, he’s acting uncomfortably and she wishes he’d pick up on her cues that she’s not interested.

            Should the guy pick up on those cues? Perhaps he would in an ideal world. But in the earth-we-got-here, she should really just be clear. It might be uncomfortable, but it’s a whole lot less uncomfortable than dealing with an ongoing issue (PLUS, she’d be doing the guy a favor of not letting him make a fool of himself…)

          3. EngineerGirl*

            Not her fault, but as fposte said, her responsibility to get her “no” across in a very plain manner.

            Speaking as a painfully shy introvert, I have to say that learning how to say speak up nicely was one of the best skills I ever developed. OP #6 – this can be a career killer if you don’t master it, so you might as well get started now. Pick up the book “Crucial Conversations” to get some methods on how to bring issues forward.

            Just a thoought – it is possible that the coworker is one of those jerks that is counting on her inability to say “no” to get what he wants (they are out there).

            And another thing – I never wanted to get others angry or upset because somehow I thought it was my fault. But what I didn’t understand is that boundary pushers will use anger to manipulate you into saying yes. So if he gets angry, it was because he got caught, not because you did something wrong. I give you permission to get him angry by saying “no” to his advances ;)

    1. PEBCAK*

      You know, if the OP is not comfortable doing it face-to-face, email is also a perfectly acceptable way to go. Then you even have a paper trail!

  14. BW*

    #4 – MA law mandates employers to provide a 30 minute meal break for shifts more than 6 hours.

    “Section 100. No person shall be required to work for more than six hours during a calendar day without an interval of at least thirty minutes for a meal. Any employer, superintendent, overseer or agent who violates this section shall be punished by a fine of not less than three hundred nor more than six hundred dollars. ”

    At one place I worked at, we were told we could not “work through lunch”, because of this law and the employer was covering their butt. All employees had to have that 30 minutes built into their work hours. Unofficially, if you decided not to take your 30 minute lunch and wanted to leave 30 minutes early, no one would really notice.

    As for being paid if you work through your break – your employer may have other rules about how much time they are willing to pay you for working, and that you are not to exceed those hours without prior authorization. If you are thinking you could work through lunch to squeeze some extra pay after having your hours cut back, it’s likely not going to work that way. If you want to work through your break so you can leave 30 minutes earlier, this is something you can bring up to your manager.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, the issue — I think — is that she’s only working 5 hours, not 6, and still being required to take a break. This is the employer’s prerogative though.

      1. AmyNYC*

        When I worked in MA, my store always scheduled lunches after you’d been at work for 5 hours instead of 5.5 because (retail being retail) people rarely left the floor and clocked EXACTLY when scheduled, and this gave them wiggle room.

  15. Minous*

    #3. Some universities with Legal Studies offer free consultations so that the students can gain experience.

  16. Blinx*

    5. Courses on LinkedIn — I wouldn’t list courses that you’ve taken in pursuit of your degree — it’s pretty much understood what they are. But if you’re like me and your degree was eons ago, list courses that you’ve taken recently to update your skills. I just listed an HTML5 course to show that I’m keeping current with technology.

  17. PPK*

    OP #6 I am also a shy introvert and have had similar things happen to me at work. From your description, this guy is attempting to court you. Your lack of general interest is sadly not a deterrent. It’s still green light to him. Direct is the only way to go. I like A Bug’s statement earlier in the comments.

    If you’re like me, telling someone that you are not interested in anything other than being coworkers makes you feel ill. Practice out load to yourself. Practice in the car, at home, wherever. It is silly, but it helped me when I had to a make a similar declaration to a similar type of coworker. The first hurdle was putting together something to say. Then saying it out loud without stumbling all over. Then saying it to the person.

    On a side note, I would advise not giving this guy any personal contact information — not even for something work related (like, I’m working from home, here’s my home number). Not that you’re likely to do so, but I shared my home number with a coworker for something very specific and then it seemed he thought we were pals outside of work. I had to tell him to not call me at home. (In hindsight I was “being nice” instead of following my gut in regards to this coworker. Sometimes you have to learn lessons the hard way).

  18. -X-*

    “it’s pretty much understood what they are.”

    Really? So do you know the sorts of courses someone takes for a BA in social studies (my college had that major). What about in semiotics? And more to the point, what if a student took a few courses on the edge of their major, but that might have broader application (perhaps in statistics programming for an economics major or in usability for an applied engineering major).

    I’m not saying listing course is a good idea, but I find it hard to believe most people know the courses in degrees, or can guess the courss students took based on their degree and school (unless they have a similar degree or went to the same school).

    1. Anonymous*

      Linkedin isn’t interested in your courses, but rather in your classmates in those courses. They’re looking fo a way to identify and rope them into the your/their network.

  19. B*

    #3 – I have much, much sympathy for you. Having been through something similar, not exact at all, but similar. My advice is – fake it until you make it. Make it the best work you have ever done, get a new and better job, and don’t look back.

    Remember – If she is on the lease/mortgage then she legally needs to keep paying her part of that. If she does not you can take her to small claims court. And the same goes for any bills – electric, phone, cable, etc. I would also make sure she is off any and all bank accounts, credit cards, change the passwords to everything you own and online, etc.

    And absolutely talk to a counselor (social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist). That can help you immensly to have the unbiased person to talk to as well as give you some good coping mechanisms.

  20. Jen M.*

    #5-I only add classes that I take NOW, after I’ve been out of school, and only classes that are relevant to my current day job or to the business that I run on the side.

    If your college info is listed, it’s understood that you took a bunch of classes, and if you list your major, it’s probably easy to guess what type of classes. I would not break them all out.

  21. Fitrah*

    OK, I’m finally gonna ask, at the risk of sounding like an idiot. What does “LW” stand for? I understand what it means, the equivalent of OP, but I can’t infer what it stands for. Urban dictionary did not help me.

      1. pidgeonpenelope*

        ah hah! I was too afraid to ask also. You know, despite working in the cell phone industry, I’m still the worst at acronyms.

  22. OP #5*

    Thanks for your answer, Alison. I figured as much, but I wanted an expert opinion before I dismissed it.

  23. Anony*

    Re: 6. Male coworker seems to be hitting on me

    I’m shy and introverted to and I get quite a good sense that a guy is pursuing me too, however, oftentimes, the guy just happens to get along with women more than men and he was just being friendly. You can use the lunch to make it clear to him that you are not interested in a romantic pursuit.

    1. Another Emily*

      I think it would be kinder to the guy, who I’m sure thinks the lunch will be a date, to have a conversation with him about how she doesn’t want to date him. It would be less awkward for the LW too. I don’t fancy telling someone I don’t want to date them while on what they’re sure is a date.

  24. Anonymous*

    #3 Especially since you say there are few jobs in your field, consider moving anywhere you need to. I’ve found the times where I’ve been broken up but had the opportunity to put myself in a new, exciting, and positive environment that I healed much faster! Of course, these weren’t as long as your relationship and I’m sure this whole thing is just dreadful. Take a bit of time to cry it out, but then get yourself to a place that works to make your life better. Or maybe consider a related course of work that you may not have been directly involved in yet to make your range of options larger. These people are awful, and while they showed you their true colors in a really disturbing way, you’re probably better off without them in your life in the long run.

  25. E*

    Thank you for addressing my question Alison (#6), and thanks for the comments everyone.

    PPK is spot on – the thought of saying anything about this subject makes me feel like I’m about to have a panic attack or faint. Which is why I’ve honestly just been hoping he’d read the cues better before I had to leave my comfort zone and address it. I only talk with him at work too.

    To clarify, the gifts were not something I willing accepted. He pretended they weren’t from him. When he did confess a few days later, it was very awkward, and I could barely spit out a thank you.

    @A Bug! I really like how you worded it. That is something I can visualize myself saying tomorrow (after I practice it out loud) and everyone has been real clear that it needs to be said. I’ll take lunch off the table so he doesn’t misconstrue lunch as a window of hope.

    1. EngineerGirl*

      It gets easier with every time you do it.

      If it empowers you, remember that being honest with someone is a GOOD thing.

    2. Naama*

      I get horribly uncomfortable about dating too, to the point of nausea (which is incredibly sexy). You’re not the only one!

      But…dude pretended the flowers weren’t from him? Okay, this is a sign he has trouble with social signs and conventions. So, unfortunately for you, he’s going to need more spelling stuff out. Looks like you’re doing that, and A Bug! has very good advice, which I’m making a mental note of right now!

Comments are closed.