tiny answer Tuesday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s tiny answer Tuesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. My company won’t promote me until they interview other candidates

I recently returned to full-time employment after taking a few years out with the children. I was lucky enough to get a position that closely matched my career prior to motherhood. It was a step down, but the pay was reasonably good. In the meantime, another job came up within the department that exactly matched my skills and experience and the pay was £5k more per year, so I applied. I was granted an interview and on the day of the interviews, I was the only one of 5 shortlisted applicants to actually show up! I had my interview and was advised that because I was the only one to show up, the job would be relisted and I should apply again the next time! Surely this is not legal. I was interviewed and I have all the skills/experience required, so why will they not even try me in the role? It seems very unfair. Is there anything I can do or do I just have to accept the decision?

Sure, it’s legal. If a company wants to ensure that they interview multiple candidates before making a decision, that’s entirely their prerogative. (Although this particular company either has extraordinarily bad luck or is extraordinarily bad at selecting candidates, if 4 out of 5 were no-shows.) Frankly, you’re lucky that they’re letting you interview for an internal position at all, since you haven’t been in your first position very long. Don’t make them question that decision by pushing them to hire you without talking with other candidates.

2. Why haven’t I heard anything about my internal interview?

I am a department manager at a library and am one of two people in our building with a MLIS. I was promoted to my position two years ago and have implemented a lot of positive changes that have boosted morale, increased cooperation throughout the building, implemented complicated technology upgrades, and saved significant amounts of money. Frankly, I’m good at my job and my reviews say so, and my boss seems to respect and like me, as do employees and fellow managers.

So the problem? My director announced her retirement and I applied for the position. Shortly after the position closed, the newspaper ran a story about the soon-to-be hiring, stating there were two internal applicants (me and the other MLIS holder) and the timeline for interviews and hiring. In casual conversation with my coworker, the other applicant, she mentioned her phone interview was coming up and asked when mine was. I didn’t have one and hadn’t heard a word from anyone about my application. Now we are almost to the point where they will be flying in other applicants for interviews, I still haven’t heard anything. Staff and other managers are beginning to ask me if I’m ready for the interview. I have no idea how to approach this. I’m upset that I haven’t even been told I’m out of the running and feel disregarded. I thought I had a good relationship with my boss but don’t feel comfortable approaching her about this as I don’t even know if that is appropriate.Things are complicated as the hiring processes involved county HR, the board, and my boss. Any advice for a confused internal applicant?

Ask someone! It’s entirely possible that signals have been crossed somewhere or there’s been some kind of miscommunication. Rather than sitting around wondering and feeling increasingly resentful, talk to whoever’s in charge of the hiring and figure out what’s going on. It’s as simple as, “If I’m still considered a candidate for the position, what’s the likely timeline for a formal interview?”

3. Can my manager change me from non-exempt to exempt to avoid paying me overtime?

I was hired as a salaried, non-exempt employee at my new job. When I work more than 40 hours in a week, I have to work fewer hours the following week, in order to only work 80 hours in a pay period. This has enabled me to put up some boundaries with my new not-so-fabulous boss. She constantly pushes for me to work long hours and not get compensated for it. The non-exempt status has given me leverage to push back. Last week, she informed me that I have been changed to salaried, exempt. Can she just do that and what are the qualifiers for being a salaried, exempt employee?

No, she can’t just do that. Whether a job is classified as exempt or non-exempt isn’t up to the employer’s preference; it’s based on the type of work you do and is determined by government regulations, which you can read about here.

It’s certainly possible that your job really should have been classified as exempt all along, but if not, she can’t just change the classification to avoid paying you overtime.

4. Replying to an employer who reached out about a job someone recommended me for

I work in education on the east coast. My current position is being restructured, and I am planning to reapply. In the midst of this rather stressful situation, I received an email out of the blue from an employer in Chicago. After speaking at a conference last year, I connected with a woman who has now apparently recommended me to this employer. He described the school in detail and it sounds like a pretty good fit. He also offered to provide me with a school tour (unlikely since I live so far away). How does one respond to such an enquiry? Resume? Just a quick email back?

If you think you might be interested, reply back and say that you’d love to hear more and learn what the next steps would be. You can also attach a resume at this point if you want to, although you can also ask to hear more before throwing your hat in the ring.

5. Boss won’t sign off on work experience for college credit

I am getting ready to graduate from a program in which the school has approved my job experience for credit in lieu of an internship. I had told my supervisor about this at the beginning, but she said we would talk about it when the time got closer. I had submitted my official job description to my instructor and the school, and they approved it. Now my supervisor must sign off on it, but will not now because my job description does not EXACTLY match that of the school program. My job title is biomedical equipment technician, and my program at school is biomedical equipment technology. I must have this degree in order to get a promotion from a tech II to a tech III. The only alternative is to do an outside internship (unpaid) for 8 weeks. These are only offered in the daytime, and my boss has said she would not allow that much time off. Do I have any recourse here?

Talk to your school, explain the situation, and ask for advice. You might be able to get different documentation to show to your manager, or they might be willing to contact her on your behalf to work this out.

Any chance your manager is refusing to sign off because she doesn’t want to give you the promotion that would come with the degree? If so, you have a bigger and more messed-up situation to deal with and will probably need to decide if you want to escalate it to someone who is not her.

6. Will lack of LinkedIn endorsements hurt me?

I know you’ve said that you don’t put much stock in LinkedIn endorsements. I do wonder if they’re hurting my current job search, though.

I have a small network of LinkedIn contacts, mainly current and former coworkers. While I’ve received endorsements, I’ve noticed that none of my current coworkers (and I’ve been here for over five years) have endorsed me for my primary job responsibility. I’ve always had positive performance reviews and have been successful in this position, so it’s not that I’ve been failing at my job. I’ve been looking for a new position for a variety of reasons, and I’m worried that the lack of endorsements for this skill will be seen as a red flag by potential bosses and coworkers who would be involved in the interview process. Any suggestions or assurances? I can’t make other people endorse me, but I don’t want this randomness to affect my job search.

I can almost guarantee you that no one is checking your LinkedIn endorsements or putting any serious weight on them. (For anyone unclear, we’re talking about skill endorsements here, not recommendations. Not that LinkedIn recommendations carry a ton of weight either.)

7. Dealing with a belittling coworker

There is a new manager at my job. He’s not my manager, but I do have to speak with him from time to time during meetings or in the hallway. This manager is a condescending, abrasive, know-it-all jerk every time I speak with him. He’s constantly belittling others and their opinions (not just me), and he never knows what he’s talking about when he does this. This is why pretty much the whole office hates him. I can’t speak with him about his problem face to face, because he constantly treats me like I’m some stupid little girl and doesn’t seem to take me seriously. How do I make him go away or get an attitude adjustment? Is there a way I can adjust my attitude to deal with him since that may be easier? Please help me before I say something stupid to him!

You can’t make him go away or change. But since the whole office knows what this guy is like, who cares? Continue to be professional and take the high road, set appropriate boundaries, and don’t harm your own reputation by behaving poorly. It sounds like this guy is well on his way to digging his own grave. And if he’s not, there’s no reason to let him provoke you into digging yours by being unprofessional.

{ 77 comments… read them below }

  1. EngineerGirl

    #2 – it is possible that you are too valuable in your current role to be promoted. Sometimes people make themselves indispensable in their current role, which means that they can never move out of it. Have you trained people to take your place if you should move up? On more than one occasion I have seen someone blocked from new assignments / promotions because the organization could afford to “lose” that person. Of course the high performer gets upset that they can’t move upward and then leaves the company.

    1. Sharon

      Ugh, I’ve been there and it sucks. I’m not attacking you, EngineerGirl, but I take exception to the phrasing “people make themselves indispensable”. Sometimes it’s not the people who do that, but their management who pigeonhole them and consistently assign new/other work to other people. That’s what happened to me. I got hired to work on a legacy IT system because that’s where my expertise was at the time, the longer I worked on it, the better my reputation became. It wasn’t until I started bucking for promotion that they revealed they couldn’t afford to lose me. You could argue that I was too passive early on and should have asked for promotion after the second or third year. But it really depends on the company culture. In the one I was at, legacy system people were legacy system people and were seen as not having the “chops” to work on new technology. I don’t see any way to defeat that culture other than just getting out.

  2. Andy

    #3: Is it possible for two jobs covering virtually the same tasks to be considered exempt at one company, but non-exempt at another? When I graduated college, my first job was considered exempt: the pay structure was salary + bonus depending on the level of production we had. When I moved on to my second job, the title and responsibilities were virtually the same, but I became eligible for overtime pay.

    1. PEBCAK

      AFAIK, “exempt” means “exempt from overtime pay”. It is a legal classification, and NOT at the discretion of the employer. An employer can CHOOSE to track your hours and give you overtime pay if you are exempt, but they can not choose to deny you overtime pay if you are non-exempt.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        That’s right. An employer can choose to treat you as non-exempt (and pay you overtime) but cannot choose to treat you as exempt (and not pay you overtime) unless the position truly is exempt.

        1. Jessa

          If the job is legitimately exempt and the bosses do try and change it, is it reasonable for the OP to renegotiate salary?

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            If you were hired under one set of expectations for what you’d be earning (for example, 50/hours a week, with overtime pay for everything over 40) and the job changes to 50/hours a week with no overtime pay, at the same rate of pay you were earning before), it’s absolutely reasonable to ask to revisit compensation. As in, “This change will mean an effective 20% cut in what I earn, for the same work.”

      2. Piper

        So, I’m confused by this. Technically, by definition, the type of work I do is exempt – it is high level, directly affects the company, requires independent judgement, and passes the “administrative exempt” test in the linked article on all four points), plus my pay is quite high (at the high threshold of “almost certainly exempt” as stated in the linked article). But I’m paid hourly as a W2 contractor and I don’t get paid if I don’t work (so if I work 36 hours in week, I only get paid for 36 hours, not my full 40). Where does this fit into the exempt/non-exempt laws?

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          If you’re exempt, your employer needs to treat you as exempt (paying you your full salary for any week in which you do any work). If they don’t, they lose the exemption and owe you overtime pay, including retroactively.

          1. Jamie

            That sounds shady to me. I wouldn’t think you would be exempt with your agency – but then they need to pay you time and a half for anything over 40.

            They can’t have it both ways – you are in the US, correct?

        2. Joey

          Nowhere. You’re not an employee, you just have a contract with them to perform services that are billed at an hourly rate. Now whether or not you meet the definition of an employee or a contractor is a different story.

            1. Jamie

              When I was a temp I got a W2 from my temp agency which was my actual employer – the places I physically went to to work were just my employer’s clients.

              If she is on the books at the workplace itself than my comment below doesn’t apply.

        3. Jamie

          By W2 contractor do you mean you work for an agency?

          If that’s the case the work you actually do even if it meets the level isn’t for your employer – it’s for your employer’s client.

          Your employer is the agency – they send you to assignments (even if it’s one long term assignment that lasts for years) so you likely wouldn’t meet the bar of responsibilities as exempt for your employer (the agency.)

          How much you make is irrelevant as a contractor. My plumber makes a fortune per hour, but he’s only paid for the hours he works because he’s not my employee…he’s my contractor. It’s the same for the company you report to – you don’t really work for them – so there is no reason for them to pay you for time not worked.

          1. Piper

            Yeah, I work for an agency at one place (long-term, indefinite). They would not place me somewhere else if the contract was terminated. I perform identical work to the three other people on my team, all of whom are full-time, exempt, salaried employees. I’m treated exactly like those employees (reviews, same manager, etc), but yes, I’m a W2 contractor.

            According to the linked article, the first test is salary level test, so pay level does matter to determining exempt versus non-exempt, whether or not it applies here is different, I suppose.

            I get what you’re saying about contractor versus employee, but it just seems strange to me.

            1. Jamie

              Right – the first test is salary, but you have to meet all three tests to qualify as exempt. And in their example, yes, if you clear 6 figures in most companies you almost certainly have the level of responsibility to meet the other two tests.

              Where it’s gets complicated in your case is that your employer isn’t the one who sets your responsibility level. It’s just a client – no matter how similar your work is to other direct employees. That is why labor attorneys are known to advise companies to draw very clear distinctions between temps and direct employees.

              From what you are saying it sounds as if you are clearly non-exempt…so what I don’t understand is why you wouldn’t get OT for anything over 40. I have been on both sides of the temp thing (both as a temp and negotiating with temp agencies as the client) and OT is just a given.

              1. Chinook

                The irony is that the client probably is paying the agency for the OT worked by the contractor if she is submitting time sheets. In that case, the contractor needs to take it up with the agency why they aren’t getting their OT and refuse to work it if they won’t be paid, which will then become an issue between the agency and the company.

            2. Joey

              Ah, I always get confused when people say they are a contracted employee. To me it sounds like they’re doing it wrong, trying to have the best of both worlds. They probably think they’re justified in not paying you OT because everyone else is exempt, but are trying to justify paying you hourly when it benefits them because you’re a temp and its common for temps to be paid only for hours worked. I’d ask about it as if it was an oversight on their part.

  3. Brandy

    #5. Assuming (this is a big assumption) your boss isn’t just being a jerk, and that s/he has been supportive of your education so far, I’d suggest talking to her about her concerns. Sounds like it’s because your role doesn’t “exactly” match the title. Get the school to provide documentation and/or speak with your boss about the internship requirements to make him/her more comfortable.

    1. Brandy

      There’s a chance, of course, that the school will agree with your boss that your job doesn’t meet the requirements of the internship portion. Since your boss won’t give you time off, perhaps you can work with your boss–or someone in another department– to design an internship that DOES meet the requirements within your own company that you can do on top of your current job.

      1. Naomi

        S/he said the school already approved the job, so I don’t think that’s a problem, and if the boss isn’t willing to giver a signature or time off for an internship, it seems unlikely they’d sign off on something like that.

    2. Sharon

      Agree with you, this is a good way to handle it. It really does smell to me like the boss is a jerk and just doesn’t want to promote her. All she’s really asking for is his signature.

    3. Anonymous

      I supervise student internships at my current position and we’ve had this happen before. Some people just get really weird about signing paperwork! What we do is have the student provide a job description and pay stubs showing hours worked. It’s up to the school to decide if the position sufficiently fulfills program requirements, not the employer. The school probably has run into this before and has ideas on how to handle it.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I’m glad to hear that; I’m a bit worried about my situation in time, when I have to do an internship. I might actually be able to do it at/through work, but I still have to eat. And there is no one else to share the load while I do an internship, nor can I afford to give up my job to do one elsewhere. :(

        The program director did say that many of the students do them remotely, although I’m not sure of exact procedures (it’s a writing program).

  4. anon for now

    If I remember right, a medical technician requires a two-year degree, and a medical technologist requires a four-year degree. If the degree you’re working on is the four-year degree and your job title isn’t wildly inaccurate, it would be difficult for your on-the-job experience to be more closely related than is.

    Assuming that’s all correct, your boss is either incompetent or an ass. Your best defense is to bury her under official documents from the school.

  5. Payroll Lady

    Another point of interest for OP#3. Having you work less the following week in order to keep your hours at 80 for the pay period is not legal since this is considered comp time which is only allowed for governement agencies. All weeks that you did work over 40 and were not compensated with additional 1/2 time pay (at a minimum) is still owed to you. You say you were salaried – non -exempt (a term I abhor since it is very rarely used correctly). This means you can no tbe docked for under 40 hours worked per week, your “salary” covers all hours worked however, you should still receive 1/2 time for any hours over 40 worked per week. The rate of pay is determined by taking your salary divide by number of hours worked divide by 1/2 and that is the amount you should be paid additionally for all hours over 40 per week.

      1. Payroll Lady

        Natalie it five 1 1/2. For example: Salary = 600.00 week, employee worked 60 hours, 600/60=10 X .5 = 5 X 20 = 100. Employee should be paid for $700 for that week of work. They have already been paid for the 60 straight time in the salary figure, the only amount due is the 1/2 time which is a total of $100.00

        1. Sara

          I think in this example the employee actually would be due an additional $450 for a total of $1050 instead of just $700. Provided the $600 salary was for a 40 hour week, that would go for the first 40 hours of work. Then the next 20 would be billed at 1.5 time. 600/40 = $15/hour, 20*1.5*15 = $450.

        2. Natalie

          Your original comment said “divide by 1/2”, but in your example you are multiplying by 1/2. Dividing by 1/2 is equivalent to multiplying by 2.

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        Not sure if this is clear to people — in case not, any hours over 40 that you work in a single week, you should be paid at 1.5 times your normal hourly rate (if you’re non-exempt).

        1. Payroll Lady

          This is why I abhor the Salaried Non-Exempt classification. According to this classification the “Salary” you are paid is for ALL hours worked. You are owed 1/2 time for any hours over 40 based on your calculated Rate of Pay, which can change weekly depending on the hours worked.

          Sara – you are correct based on a Non-Exempt classification, but that work Salary in front of it makes it a nightmare for us payroll people!!!

          1. Sara

            Wow, that’s fascinating. Aside from my part time retail jobs in college, I’ve always been exempt and never realized there was a difference. It looks like it also depends on the average number of hours the employee works, too so a standard week isn’t necessarily 40 hours (though overtime is only calculated on time after 40…and I’m sure this becomes an even bigger nightmare in CA since overtime is anything more than 40 in a week or 8 in a day).

            1. Payroll Lady

              Yes CA is my biggest nightmare! Once you understand the laws for Federal and State it gets easier… but that’s only becaue I have been doing this for over 25 years and a good portion of that has been with CA as one of my states!

          2. Eric

            Yep. That is exactly the situation that I am in. The more I work the less overtime per hour I am entitled to. (My employer chooses to pay straight-time as overtime, but isn’t required to).

        2. Lindsay

          Unless you work in specific situations or industries. Seasonal amusement parks do not have to pay non-exempt workers overtime, and I know the article linked mentions movie theaters, too.

          1. Lindsay

            *They do not have to pay overtime at 1.5 times your normal rate. They do have to compensate you for your time worked at at least minimum wage (and perhaps at your regular straight pay amount, not sure, but I know it does not have to be paid as time and a half).

    1. Leslie Yep

      “Having you work less the following week in order to keep your hours at 80 for the pay period is not legal since this is considered comp time which is only allowed for government agencies. ”

      Wait…really? This is common practice where I work–though you still get the overtime. I.e., Work 50 hours week 1, making base rate for 40 and 1.5x for 10. Then work 30 hours the following week to even out your pay period average to 40 hours a week. Is this not copacetic?

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        The law doesn’t allow employers to pay non-exempt employees in comp time rather than in overtime pay. That said, (a) it’s very common anyway, and (b) many government employers have rules that allow it for themselves anyway (why the government has one rule for themselves and one rule for everyone else is a mystery).

        1. Joey

          The rationale is that its more fiscally conservative and therefore more responsible as stewards of taxpayer monies to pay employees in comp time than in cash. Theoretically its the same, but in reality we know it just means poorer service in the name of cash savings.

          1. Jamie

            TBH this is one area I wish employers were able to take employee wishes into account.

            I work with a lot of non-exempt people and more than once have heard complaints that they can’t bank some OT as PTO as to extend their vacation.

            I understand that the law is in place as a protection, but I’ve seen instances where flexibility of whether to take it in cash or as comp time was requested and would have been appreciated.

            1. Joey

              Although the problem with that is giving choices becomes problematic. In that scenario I could see employers requiring employees to choose comp time. Then you’d have to deal with payout upon separation (which gets complicated with multiple pay rates). It’s just not something I think a lot of us would trust employers to do correctly or at all. It’s more feesible for govt because a) they don’t go out of business, and b)as employers govt tends to comply with the law (or at least that’s the perception), and c) it saves taxpayer cash.

              1. Jamie

                Sure – it could be abused by an unethical employer – but that can happen with anything.

                In manufacturing it’s common for exempt personnel to get comp time for certain instances (not all OT, of course). They can either take it as time or cash out at the end of the year (rolling it over creates a big payroll liability which is a PITA).

                Non-exempt people IME have asked for the same option, because many do travel out of the country over their vacations and would prefer to be able to bank some extra days to extend their vacation.

                There are probably some industries where it wouldn’t make sense – where scheduling would require PTO be more controlled. But for the times where it’s something people want and something the employer would like to be able to do, but cannot because of a regulation that ties their hands…that’s where the problem comes in.

        2. Elizabeth West

          Wait, so it’s not okay to work through lunch, but then leave an hour early that day or the next? Or is this only if the employer requires you to do that?

          I do that all the time because I sometimes don’t like to stop what I’m doing to take a break. So I nom at my desk and then leave at 4 instead of 5. I can do that at this job because I don’t have to answer the phone. But if I work overtime (like when we had our big meeting with my boss), then I do get paid for it.

      2. perrik

        If this is common practice at your workplace and you’re in the U.S., it is NOT copacetic.

        “Unless specifically exempted, employees covered by the Act must receive overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek at a rate not less than time and one-half their regular rates of pay… Averaging of hours over two or more weeks is not permitted.”

        The above is from Fact Sheet #23: Overtime Pay Requirements of the FLSA, available at: http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs23.pdf

        The OP should also consult Fact Sheet #17A: Exemption for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Computer & Outside Sales Employees Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), available at:
        http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/fairpay/fs17a_overview.pdf

        According to the FLSA, the OP’s employer was in violation for averaging your hours over a two-week period (NOT allowed) and is now most likely in violation for misclassifying the OP as exempt (NOT allowed, assuming the OP’s primary job duties do not qualify as exempt).

        OP, this would be a good time to document extensively. Collect copies of your timesheets and pay stubs (to be kept at home or a personal Dropbox folder or otherwise not under your employer’s control), as well as any employment agreement or other documents that record your wage agreement. Send an email to your boss and to HR (blind carbon copied to your personal email) stating that you are concerned that your previous hours had been handled contrary to federal law and that your recent re-classification is also in violation of federal law. (I’d take the tone of concern rather than accusal – it’s possible that HR is blissfully unaware of employment law rather than deliberately ignoring it)

        1. Jamie

          Nice catch! Absolutely correct – and I agree with expressing concern and not accusation both as it’s more effective as well as it could have been inadvertent (which doesn’t excuse it – but ignorance doesn’t = malice.)

        2. Leslie Yep

          I think I need a little more clarity here (though I’m not the OP). Non-exempt employees here have the expectations of, say, 40 hours per week. Their payroll expenses are budgeted with that assumption. They are always paid overtime for hours worked over 40. But are also asked to trim hours the following week so that they average out to 40 over the course of the year.

          I understand that it would be against the law to require them to work fewer hours the following week INSTEAD OF paying overtime; but is this arrangement appropriate?

          1. Payroll Lady

            Hi Leslie, Yes that is a legal solution for a company to keep their payroll costs down andstay within the Federal guidelines (state may be different such as CA that has a Daily OT rule also)

      3. Jessa

        And my understanding of the law is it’s a 40 hour week, not an 80 hour two week count. If you work 50 hours one week and 20 the next you’re still due 10 hours overtime. Unless you’re exempt.

  6. E

    #2 – Seriously, ask someone about this! I had a similar situation a year ago: I was finishing up a grant funded position at an organization and was encouraged to apply for a permanent one that had opened up. I applied, and then never heard anything – no interview, not even a rejection. I was full of resentment at the organization because they didn’t have the courtesy to even talk to me about it. Then, on my second to last day of work (still without another job lined up), I had an exit interview with my boss’s boss, who asked me why I never applied for the other job. Turned out that some glitch in the system shunted my application to a different folder, and the people in charge of hiring never saw it. If I had just asked about it, or even mentioned that I’d applied, they could have figured this out while the position was still open. Not that I necessarily would have got the job, but it would have been nice to be in the running!

    So seriously, talk to someone! If it is some kind of mistake or misunderstanding, better to get that cleared up now.

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.

      This. Stuff like this happens all the time! I wouldn’t recommend following up every job application with an email to confirm receipt (cause that would be irritating), but if you’re an internal candidate, by all means, bring it up! In OP’s case, it sounds a lot like what E mentions above: nobody saying anything to you because they think you didn’t apply, or because you never contacted them back to schedule a phone interview (because you never got the email), or something…. I’d be astounded if that weren’t the case here, and I’m astounded by how many people, faced with a situation like this, decide to never say anything to anyone.

      1. Christine

        Probably because they don’t want to be presumptuous and/or were told it’s irritating to follow up on job applications, not realizing that it’s a little different for internal jobs.

        Just my guess.

  7. Lora

    #7, I see you’ve met my boss. The way I’ve been dealing with it is pretty much as Alison says and periodically sending him articles on the importance of forming cross-functional relationships, demonstrating in my own work and explaining in no uncertain terms how my own ability to form warm and friendly relationships with colleagues has helped me do my job and save the company money, and suggesting to senior management that perhaps we should bring in a consultant org that specializes in managing techie people.

    Mostly I take a deep breath, count to 1000 by Fibonacci prime numbers (counting to 10 does not cut it with this guy) and remember the first rule of conflict resolution: Assume the other person is not being malevolent. Ignorant, maybe outright stupid, but not malevolent. Because even if they are malevolent, you’re not going to get anywhere other than outright war by starting from that assumption.

    Oh, and sending out resumes like crazy because obviously senior management has nothing invested in mentoring or curtailing this guy’s awful behavior.

    1. TR

      Oh, no she met my co-worker! Haha, I am starting to realize there are many people out there like this. I have the (mis)fortune of working with a similar person. He takes every chance he can to throw someone under a bus to make himself look better. He also blatantly kisses up to my boss, but consistently bad mouths her behind her back to everyone. He actually bad mouths just about everyone when they are not around. He’s a real class act.

      My advice to #7 is to let your irritation for him be your fuel to do amazing work and try your hardest to ignore him. Trust me, I know it is SO hard!

      1. Elizabeth West

        There was a manager like this at OldJob . He would email a certain sales rep’s customers and copy me, but leave the rep out of the loop so it looked like I was the one they should come to. He did it so he could yell at the rep if the customer got confused or wasn’t contacted. I was neither qualified to help them nor able to, except for one small duty. He incessantly bullied this poor guy. I would just forward stuff to the rep and circumvent his assholery. :)

  8. Lily in NYC

    #3 – be very, very careful and make sure to document everything. We had the same exact thing happen to an EA with a crazy boss and it ended badly for her. The boss had a bug up her butt about overtime and told the assistant that she was made exempt and that HR approved it. I knew this was bunk and told the assistant to send out an email asking for clarification and to be sure to cc HR. Well, she walked down and talked to HR in person instead. Our HR dept. is awful – the rep immediately called the crazy boss and the boss said the assistant was lying and they ended up firing her and having her escorted out of the building. I was so flabbergasted.

    This same boss later tried to tell me HR wanted me to work comp time instead of overtime. We don’t have a comp time program and I was not about to let the same thing happen to me so I emailed and asked her to put it in writing. I was sure to cc: my HR rep and her boss, the president’s office and crazy boss’ supervisor. Crazy boss got in trouble and I ended up with a fat check for past overtime. It was awesome. But if I had simply trusted my HR rep and went to her in person instead of using email, I probably would have ended up fired.

    1. Emily K

      I’m confused about why the crazy boss can say “She’s lying! I never said that!” when HR calls him, but couldn’t reply to your email saying, “What? I never said that!” Why does using email protect you from being accused of lying in a way that you wouldn’t be if you did it in person?

      1. Lily in NYC

        She was female, not male. Please note that my advice was to cc several people – I have learned that in my company, HR is shady but they don’t act shady when our president’s office is in the loop. My cc’ing the president’s office is what saved me – crazy boss was crazy, but not stupid enough to lie to the president’s office. They were already aware of her poor judgment because she had caused problems in the past. My coworker’s mistake was to go talk to only one person and not involve anyone higher level.

        1. Jamie

          Some people will lie (like the manager in this case). It’s a smaller sub-set of people who will lie in writing.

          I agree with Lily – I’d want an email trail for all of this – and I’d make sure I had copies outside of my work computer of all relevant email.

      2. Jessa

        Because if the person responds “they’re wrong, or lying, or misunderstood,” you’re out from under the issue entirely. Because they then cannot go back and do it to you. You then respond to “a they’re lying” as “Oh I am so sorry I misunderstood you that is exactly why I sent this email to clarify things. I was certain you didn’t mean what I thought you did.” Which covers you.

        The idea of the email is to get them to come down one way or another in print. Or to back them off of whatever it was. Or to have it investigated by someone you copied on the email. If they come down with “no no, didn’t do that,” that’s something that helps cover you.

  9. Joey

    #3. One other way your boss could do this legally is to add duties to make you qualify as exempt. But, before you do anything I’d look at whether you currently meet the definition of exempt. It wouldn’t be unheard of if the job you’re in started out as non exempt, but over time additional duties were added that now make it qualify as exempt.

    1. William

      This doesn’t quite work. Unless those new qualifying duties become a significant part of the job (more than 60% of total time spent during the week) you still won’t qualify as exempt.

      1. Joey

        You’d be surprised at many non exempt folks take on a significant amount of important decision making.

  10. Jamie

    When it comes to the exempt/non-exempt thing I strongly urge anyone who is unclear to follow the links Alison posted because it’s more than just the tasks themselves. Her link to the FSLA site explains in layman’s terms the responsibility portion as well.

    In a nutshell you can’t evaluate a position based on tasks ABC. It also takes into account how significant the role is in business operations and the level of independent judgement and discretion.

    Some positions are cut and dried – if you are a department head good luck trying to get classified as non-exempt. However – taking administrative positions for example it gets blurry especially as responsibilities increase. If an AA is hired and initially is given a list of tasks completely overseen by others and others are responsible for the end product and making decisions s/he is non-except. But if a year down the road they are working autonomously and self-directed and making independent decisions on “matters of significance” legally the employer could reclassify them as except even without a title change.

    FWIW I’ve never known one person who went from non-exempt to exempt without taking a pay cut due to loss of OT – so keep that in mind when negotiating salary. Don’t look at hourly – look at what you were actually making.

    The exempt/non-exempt thing is easy to get wrong, even with good intentions, for positions on the cusp.

    Also, FWIW, as others have mentioned employers are free to pay OT or comp time to exempt employees if they want to. They can always be more generous than the law requires, they just can’t do less.

  11. Lily

    #7 Alison, I love your advice! Thank you, because I would get really frustrated trying to reform him!

  12. anonymoose

    Re Q#6: I have scads of those LinkedIn skills endorsements. They have always made me feel a bit self-conscious; I worry it makes me look desperate, like I have gone around asking people for them or something (which I have never done). Since they’re useless, should I just delete all of them? Does keeping them make me look clueless?

    1. Kristi

      If you edit your profile, you can choose whether to display endorsements or not. (Same thing with recommendations, optional.) The skills are still listed which I like.

  13. Number 7

    Hey Alison,

    I am #7. I just wanted to thank you for your advice. The belittling co-worker was “let go” this month. I feel bad for him because he was trying in the end to curb his attitude, but I guess it was too little too late. The office is much more productive and at ease now.

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