lying to my manager about my husband, time clock woes, and more

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

1. Should I tell my employer that I’m leaving in part because of my annoying coworker?

I am currently working as a management assistant for a small consulting/engineering firm. It’s an open plan office with around 15 people in it. I’m planning on starting a new job search in about 3 to 4 months, when I get my office management degree. The main reason I want to leave here is because there is not enough work for me to do, which makes it quite boring (but well-paid and with great office hours).

But there is one other thing that makes me want to get out of here ASAP: my colleague two desks down. He’s constantly listening to loud techno music on his ipod, curses, snorts (and makes other various sounds, from whisteling to burping), talks to himself out loud, is impolite and arrogant. This is not just me, it’s a known problem, which nobody handles because he tends to get aggressive if you ask him for example to turn his music down. (Even our manager doesn’t want to say anything. I asked. Several times.) He makes it impossible for me to really concentrate, and to be honest, he just drives me crazy.

When I’m finally ready to move on (with an accepted offer on the table, of course), should I mention that I would’ve most likely stayed longer if it wasn’t for him? And that other people are also talking about leaving or wishing he’d get fired (no names of course)? Or is that a waste of time and energy and generally not a nice thing to do?

A good employer would certainly want to know that their handling of this guy drove you to leave. And to be clear, it’s their handling of him, not the guy himself — because a responsible manager would have dealt with his disruptions long ago.

I would not, however, mention that other people are talking about leaving over him; that’s not yours to share.

2. What to do when employees aren’t logging their time correctly

Our employees are required to clock in for the day, out for lunch, in from lunch and then out for the day. We have over 60 employees and we try to monitor the clock transactions for accuracy every day.

There are about five or six people who have a habit of not punching the clock like they are supposed to. This causes their hours to be short because the system can only calculate their time if there are opposing transactions. We have repeatedly told them that they have to punch the clock, but like I said, the same people keep doing it. My suspicion is that they are coming in late, leaving early or coming back late from lunch and don’t want to lose the time on their paycheck. Coming in late is also a big deal because it goes against the quarterly bonuses they receive. They lose one day’s worth of bonus for every 4 times they are tardy in a quarter.

At what point can we stop babysitting them and just let their checks be shorted? Of course we would put the missed hours on their next check — but what if they never noticed they were shorted?

Legally, you’re required to pay them for all time worked, whether they clocked it or not. And ethically too, for that matter.

However, if it’s important to log their time accurately, then you can and should treat this just like you would any other requirement of their job: require it to be done correctly, spot-check to ensure it’s being done correctly, warn them if they’re not meeting your requirements, and enforce consequences if the problem continues. In this case, if you’re convinced that they’re doing it intentionally to deceive, that’s a serious integrity problem and should be dealt with as such — which could potentially include replacing them if that’s really what’s happening, because someone willing to lie to you isn’t an employee you should keep.

3. Colleague is complaining that I asked her to speak English so I could participate in a conversation

I hope you can give me some clarity in a situation. I am an African American woman. My coworker is Chinese. I came into the lunch room and three Chinese people were speaking English at lunch. When I came in, the woman began to speak Chinese. The other two continued to speak English. I asked the woman if she would speak English because I felt excluded and isolated from the conversation, since I do not speak Chinese. She said I could not ask her not to speak her language. I said I want to be able to join in the conversation since it was our regular lunch group. I also told her she had the right to say no. She left the room and has made a report to HR claiming racial harrassment. Do I have any support for how being excluded makes me feel?

If her complaint is really that you asked her to speak English so you could participate in the conversation and that you made it clear you weren’t insisting on it, her complaint doesn’t hold any water. That’s a legitimate thing to ask, as long as you asked it in a polite way. Obviously, if your delivery was rude, that’s a different story. But the request in and of itself isn’t harassment, and hopefully your HR department will point that out to her. (You might want to approach HR proactively to explain this.)

4. Employer docked my PTO during a natural disaster

I am an exempt, salaried employee. My job description is an outside salesman. During a recent natural disaster, I was unable to leave my home but continued to work from home. My employer garnished PTO for the days I couldn’t leave. Is this allowed by the FLSA or any other laws?

No law requires your employer to offer you paid time off, so they can put whatever rules they want on it, including docking it in a situation like this (although it’s terrible practice to do so, if you were actually working).

5. How long should resumes be kept on file?

I was wondering is there an industry standard as to how long a company should hold resumes received, once the position was filled?

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to keep job applications for one year from the date the application was received. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act requires that they be kept for two years for applicants who you’re aware are 40 or older (which means it’s easier to just keep them all for two years, rather than having separate rules for some). And if you’re a government contractor with 150 employees or more, you’re required to keep them for two years. In general, most employers keep them for at least 2-3 years.

The purpose of these laws isn’t to require you to do anything with them after your initial review; rather, the point is because if you’re sued under one of these law, the applications may be looked at as part of the legal action.

6. Interviewing at a company where my sister works

I’m interviewing at my sister’s company in three days, which is a large retail corporation. While she helped my prep for my phone interview (which was last week), she isn’t really giving me special treatment other than some good advice and won’t be present at my face-to-face interview. I’m just wondering whether it would be good practice to just mention the fact that she’s my sister on the day, as a way of making the situation transparent to everyone involved (I think the interviewers may know anyway, since my sister had to bow out of the interview process because of me). Or, would it look like I am name dropping and trying to gain special treatment?

I’d check with your sister to make sure that she has mentioned it, because she should. If the relationship is a concern for them, you want to find that out now, not when you’re about to get an offer or after you’ve already started work. Assuming she’s disclosed it, you don’t need to worry about doing it yourself.

7. Should I continue lying to my manager about my husband?

I’ve worked for my present employer for 2-1/2 years. I received a promotion 6 months ago. I’m now working for a new manager who is very involved in helping me continue to excel.

However, my husband joined the military 4 weeks ago and is currently in bootcamp. I have not told my employer for fear I may be shown the door before I’m ready to resign or they may even take away professional opportunities and training or limit my responsibilities. I wouldn’t want this to happen; I need to increase my professional skills and experience for future opportunities.

My manager and I spend time together outside of work for both professional and personal events. I make up stories, lying about where my husband is when asked. I don’t like to lie to my manager but at this point I don’t know where my husband will be stationed nor do I know when I would be resigning from my position to join him. I also don’t want to burn any bridges with my employer — my new manager has done a lot to help me professionally, but business is business, right? What do you suggest? Do I continue to lie about my husband’s new military career and my possible resignation or do I give the heads up now?

You’re doing more harm to the relationship by lying, because at some point your manager is going to figure it out, and at that point you’ll look terrible for having lied.

Do you have reason to believe you’d be pushed out early if your employer knew that your husband will be transferred at some point (and you along with him)? Have they pushed other people out early when they knew they had an indefinite ending date at some point in the future? If not, I wouldn’t assume that’s going to happen to you.

If, however, you do have reason to believe it, then simply be vague. Say that your husband is busy with work things, which is true. But stop the outright lying.

{ 147 comments… read them below }

    1. Jazzy Red*

      People have been fired from my company for that, too.

      I used to work in the office of the world’s largest retailer-mart, and employees have to swipe in/out every single time they enter or leave a building, and every time they go on break. If you don’t, you get an email or phone call from the timekeepers, and your time needs to be adjusted and approved.

      Yes, OP, people *get fired* all the time for not following timeclock/timesheet regulations at work. Don’t just “try” to monitor the timeclock transactions every day, do it!

      1. Chinook*

        I have never understood how employees could get away with repeated time clock violations (and I don’t mean forgetting every so often but examples like the OP stated). There is a record of what is happenning/not happenning and the rules are black and white. As an employee who is a rule follower (but not to the point of blindness), I very much appreciate managers who actually follow through with those who blatantly disregard those rules. Often, if they break one rule, there are others that are beign broken but aren’t as easily tracked.

        1. Jessa*

          Especially since the issue is that they may NOT be working all the hours they are getting paid for. If they’re forgetting that punch back in after lunch because they are late back, that’s not fair to the company to be paying them for that time.

          There needs to be a disciplinary chain going on. And yes even performance plans or whatever warning system your company uses. This isn’t fair to the people who do it right and may occasionally be late and not get paid for it.

          The only reason I can see for someone continually doing this is time shaving. Even employees with medical issues can be trained to remember to punch the clock.

    2. Legal Eagle*

      This is the right thing to do. Make sure the employees know that the time rules are important and that they are violating these important rules. If they continue to violate the rules, fire them.


    #5 unfortunately I don’t think employers look at the reserve of resumes they have when a new position opens

    1. jesicka309*

      Maybe not back a few years, but they definitely do. I have an interview tomorrow for a company I was rejected for six months back, and two of my current coworkers were hired months after they were intially rejected (high turnover role, but still).

        1. jesicka309*

          It’s an entry level gig – whenever someone else higher up the chain leaves, there’s a general shuffle upwards that leaves the gap at the entry level position. It’s only high turnover because people either get moved up, or leave, not necessarily toxic.
          So in that instance, they just called their next best candidates until they found someone who could start. No point reposting the role if you’ve just spent 4 weeks interviewing, only to have to start agian 3 weeks later.
          The interview I have tomorrow isn’t for a posted role either – they just wanted to chat and keep me interested. :S But they still have my resume, and they still remember me six months after initial contact, so they didn’t throw me out when they rejected me the first time.

    2. Jen in RO*

      My team went through a recruitment process recently and we hired our top pick for the open position. A month later, one more position opened, so we invited the runner up to a new interview and she got the job.

      1. Forrest*

        I had a similar experience where I didn’t get the job but another position opened that fit my skill set better. The company called me and I was their first choice for that position.

        So yea, it can happen.

    3. some1*

      This is how I got my current position. I interviewed for the same position (admin) in another department at my company, and about 2 months later I was called about interviewing for my position, which was being created due to dept growth.

    4. Julie K*

      When I was in a position to be hiring people, I kept the resumes of people I spoke with or interviewed but didn’t hire. I needed to at least keep a record of their names, so I would know if I had spoken to them previously. One time I was about to contact someone who had submitted a resume, but before I did, I checked my files and found that I had a previous resume and notes from a previous interview. Some things didn’t match up on the two resumes, and I was able to ask the candidate about them. I don’t remember the outcome of the conversation, but I do remember being glad I had the extra information available to me. I also avoided feeling really stupid a couple of times when I thought I was going to contact candidates for the first time only to check my files and realize they had interviewed WITH ME previously. I’m sure they would have remembered, and I would have felt kind of stupid if I didn’t know that I had already met them.

    1. Rana*

      If the other two women continued speaking in English, and didn’t have trouble with her being there, it probably wasn’t all that private.

    2. Marmite*

      She didn’t want to eavesdrop, she wanted to join the conversation with a group of co-workers (who apparently are regularly in the same lunch room at the same time as the OP). If it was a private conversation (in a public place) the woman could simply have said so, or, more politely, changed the topic and held their private conversation, in private, later.

      1. Chinook*

        I agree. She asked to join in and the 2 other people in the conversation continued in English. To me, it looks like a power play on the part of the woman who wanted to exclude the non-Chinese speaker even though the others were willing to include her. I agree with AAM, get ahead of this with HR and explain what happenned.

    3. Coco*

      I find this entire thing odd. Since they were speaking Chinese in the lunchroom, I would have assumed it was a private conversation.

      Sometimes you have to weigh the pros and cons. Was getting into the conversation worth the racial implications?

      Plus, in the workplace, African Americans are always assumed to be playing the “race card” for their own benefit or are receiving special treatment. Many people would pounce on an opportunity to turn this around on them.

      I suspect things won’t go so well with HR. This may be the “mark” that will keep the OP from advancing in that company.

      1. Anonymous*

        ” Since they were speaking Chinese in the lunchroom, I would have assumed it was a private conversation. ”

        The OP writes that they were initially speaking in English when she came in.

        1. Chinook*

          It is the switching to Chinese the oment the OP enters the room that is troubling. If it happens once, it could be a coincidence. But, since the others were willing to switch back to English, it sounds like the one insisting on Chinese is trying to cause to cause trouble.

      2. Anonymous*

        Plus, in the workplace, African Americans are always assumed to be playing the “race card” for their own benefit or are receiving special treatment.

        Whoa, watch that “always” there.

        1. Anonymous*

          (That is, there are plenty of people, organizations, and people within organizations who don’t make those kinds of assumptions, and would find those assumptions incredibly offensive.)

          1. Lee*

            Then those organizations have not been living in America for the past 50 years.
            Western media and government statistics are not kind to African Americans. Organizations can have “strict” rules about not being discriminatory or prejudice during the hiring process, but most US citizens have grown up with enough sports, criminal statistics, the TV show cops, etc… to be desensitized enough to the point that any black person making a work complaint (legitimate or other wise) will be treated differently than minorities.

            This also happens in restaurants…it’s a lame cultural stereotype that black customers won’t tip, so waiters typically treat them differently (or dread waiting on them).

            1. Joey*

              It goes both ways. Sure some people treat minorities different. Some treat them based on stereotypes while others treat them differently to guard against those same stereotypes. And there really are people who dont have to consciously treat everyone the same. Probably more than you think.

              1. Lee*

                Okay… and that is an opinion based on…what?
                The idea most everyone is somehow inherently good, and don’t use cultural stereotypes to make a quick decision?
                The idea that people blindly ignore statistics, sports, or experiences they have that shape our they view other people?

                If we were all made of rainbows and sunshine and just wanted everyone to smile and feel happy, then comments like yours wouldn’t be necessary.

                Please work in an inner city, at a restaurant or volunteer for the homeless and see what the world is really like!

                1. Anonymous*

                  Your experience in inner cities, restaurants, etc is valid but so is Joey’s. What “the world is really like” is made up of lots of different things. I don’t think anyone is arguing the existence of racism, but it’s absurd to make the blanket claim that all people in all organizations are equally racist.

                  And my opinion is based on my husband’s (and my husband’s family) experience as a minority. Small sample, I know, but he’s Hispanic and has mostly made comments similar to Joey’s about the existence of racism in the workplace and the world at large. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have other educational or class privileges that preclude him from some of the snap judgments you’re referring to, but it’s still not quite as lacking in nuance as you’re claiming.

                2. Joey*

                  I’m basing my response on my experience growing up as a minority, experiencing different degrees of racism all through my life, and working as a manager who has resolved lots of claims of racism of varying degrees.

                3. Joey*

                  If you want some anecdotal stats I can tell you that based on the discrimination investigations Ive done racism is still alive. But there are also people who choose to see racism when there is none.

                4. Katie the Fed*

                  Well, from a question of pure logic, the statement:

                  “Plus, in the workplace, African Americans are always assumed to be playing the “race card” for their own benefit or are receiving special treatment” is demonstrably false if there exists even one instance where an African America was not assumed to be playing the race card.

                  Let us not speak in hyperbole.

            2. TheSnarkyB*

              +1. Lee, you’re right here. I don’t totally agree with the tone of your response lower down, but nonetheless, you’re right. I also wonder what Joey is basing their stance on.

              1. Anonymous*

                I might be wrong, but I believe that Joey has mentioned on here that he is a minority. Either way, it’s a huge leap to say that people fall into binary categories of being “made of rainbows and sunshine” to “entirely systematically racist, regardless of the circumstance.” There are shades of gray. Individuals aren’t statistics.

                1. Lee*

                  I’m not saying they are one way or other!
                  I’m simply recounting how I see minorities and majorities treat black individuals in America!
                  Joey and Anonymous….I’m not saying all people treat minorities differently or most white people treat everyone the same. I’m saying Black Americans, more than any other group in the US, are treated the worst.
                  You keep generalizing my statements to include everyone of color (I guess?) and then say most people don’t judge minorities because “I’m a minority and I don’t judge”….right, makes total sense.

                2. Joey*

                  The worst?

                  Lee, let me tell you. If you ask each minority group who is treated the worst most will say their own. Its natural to believe your wrong is worse than everyone else’s. Its validating.

                3. Joey*

                  You really want to know who’s treated the worst. At least in my opinion for a while its been young men of Arab descent that don’t speak English very well.

  2. Chriama*

    #2 — I feel like there have been a lot of questions recently about tracking hours. Is this a trend like the bathroom questions were? Regardless, as an employer you should absolutely enforce proper timekeeping, because you’re legally liable. It’d be like an employee refusing to follow safety protocols in a factory — even if it’s their screw up, you’re on the hook for it too.
    Also, if there is an integrity problem with the repeat offenders, aren’t other areas of their work being affected? If they deliberately cheat their hours they are probably not your best workers. Don’t use the timekeeping as an excuse, but you should probably check to make sure your managers are actually managing.

        1. Kelly*

          How can you pay them for time worked if you have no idea if they actually worked it. For instance, if they clocked out for lunch but never clocked back in – how do you know how much to deduct for lunch?

          And, if they never clocked in for the day, how do you determine when to start paying them? How can they prove they were here at any specific time if their first punch of the day is an “out for lunch” punch?

          In these instances, as the employer, are you required to just automatically pay them from the time they were scheduled? What generally happens is the approval sheets are put out to the employees and they write in whatever time they want and we have no way of knowing if it’s accurate or not.

          I liked the suggestion from someone who said tie the repeat offenders incidents to their bonus. I will be suggesting that they lose one day of bonus for every 3 time clock incidents. Hopefully that will finally make an impression.

          Thanks so much for all of your suggestions and input.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            It’s not clear, but if the employee can later prove they worked time they weren’t paid for, the employer would be liable.

            That’s why it’s important for employers to have clear systems for this for non-exempt employees and be religious about enforcing them.

          2. HR Anon*

            There are usually other ways for the employer to verify if someone is at work or not, such as computer log-ins, email timestamps, or asking nearby coworkers/direct manager. We have a system where non-exempt office employees fill out paper timesheets and we’ve had to use work arounds if someone isn’t keeping up with their timesheet day to day and then goes on an unexpected medical leave. If we’re not sure, we pay for the scheduled hours since it’s not worth a potential investigation or lawsuit.

            1. Kelly*

              Our production employees come in through the shop door and clock in at the time clock. They then proceed to one of several machines in order to start making whatever chocolate tea pot is assigned to that machine. It is a HUGE place with many places to be in so a supervisor may not notice someone is not at their designated place unless they happened to be also working in that area.

              That said, we can run a report shortly after everyone should be here and then track down the supervisor to review the list to make sure that all 60+ people out on the floor have actually clocked in … but again, we are back to babysitting grown men and wasting so much time in doing so.

  3. Chriama*

    #7 – How does this law actually work in practice? Do you literally have to keep a copy of every application submitted for any job you’ve advertised for the past 2 years or just the people you chose to interview? What about unsolicited applications that weren’t directed at a specific posting? Does it depend on how the position was advertised (e.g. posted on the company’s official website v.s. asked for referrals by word-of-mouth)? Does it apply to companies larger than 15 employees like other laws?

    I’m curious about this because I work in an HR office (albeit in Canada, and Quebec no less, so who knows what’s going on here ) and we keep CVs on hand for 6-12 months and then they get shredded unless they were interviewed or specifically chosen to be kept on file.

    It just seems really cumbersome to demand that a company keep track of *every person* who has applied with them over the past 2 years.

    1. JMegan*

      I’m a records manager, so part of my job involves answering questions like this.

      Obviously I can’t speak to your particular situation, but in general, there are usually rules in place for how long business records should be kept. Not necessarily in the law, but your company would likely have a written policy to the effect that applications will be kept for X years after the job was posted (or filled), and then destroyed. If the applicant was selected for an interview but not hired, it might be Y years, and for the person who was eventually hired, it might become part of their employee file and kept for Z years. There are all sorts of ways of going about it – the key thing is that there should be a written policy of some sort that says how long you will keep them and when they will be destroyed.

      And no, you don’t have to keep track of every single person. What you’ll end up with (in the paper world) is a file labelled “Applications for position of Chocolate Teapot Maker, posted June 2013, destroy June 2015.” Treat them all as one batch, and store and destroy them together.

      1. Chinook*

        At most places with a file manager, especially if they archive paper files off site, they will box items together by destruction date so that they know they can jst shred everything in there at once. The destruction of electronic data, though, requires some more forethought because there are breadcrumbs everywhere.

      2. TwentyKittens, CRM*

        Records management FTW! First time I’ve seen our profession mentioned in the comments. Good answer, too.

    2. Chinook*

      In Canada (though Quebec is like California and the rules sometimes vary, but every Canadian knows that), resumes are considered personal information covered by PIPEDA (here is a link to your individual rights under it and must be destroyed after a certain point (I think it is a year). If they are not destroyed after that time and you are audited or the personal information is somehow made public (i.e. laptop containing resumes goes missing), the company would be considered breaking the law. As a result, most medium and large companies have a records retention policy and a privaacy commissioner (often a lawyer or HR person) who is the go to person for these types of questions.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m going off of memory here and haven’t looked it up to check that I’m recalling right, but I think the rules only apply to solicited job applications, not unsolicited ones. Still, it’s generally easier to treat them all the same and store them all. It’s not really that cumbersome — you can stick hard copy applications in a box, and electronic ones in an electronic folder.

      1. Chriama*

        Now that it’s been explained it doesn’t seem that cumbersome. For some reason I interpreted it as having to keep track of each *applicant*, but if you just have a folder with everyone that’s applied, the onus is on the part of any would-be plaintiff to sort through your files and find their application, I guess.

      2. T in Construction*

        Do we need to keep hard copies of all the resumes? My supervisor and I recently hired a candidate, and we had about 100 resumes submitted to us online, but I only printed the 10 we actually interviewed. I have an electronic file with all the resumes saved.

  4. Sonia*

    #7 lying about my husband. There are a few reasons for not telling the truth to my employer. One of them is, my department has been restructured and reorganized over the past few months. Co-workers are being promoted, demoted and let go. Lots of changes taking place. With this said, I’m afraid I’ll loose out on developmental opportunities or even let go if they know I might be leaving in the near future. I might be in the way of the restructuring. Second reason, I work in an environment where its hard to trust anyone. I should have left a long time ago due to this reason alone, but unfortunately I could not. I’m still trying to “get a feel” for my new manager. I’m not sure I can trust her yet or nt. Third reason, my husband joined the Navy – he doesn’t know how to swim. Those recruiters can be very pushy. He’s not confident he will pass the boot camp training due to this and doesn’t want to fail. He’s even made up a story for his family about his whereabouts.

    Also, I try to be vague when colleagues ask where my husband is but being vague isn’t always enough for some people. They continue to ask more questions.

    1. Ash*

      There are so many things wrong with this situation… Your husband was “pushed” into the Navy and he doesn’t know how to swim? Why didn’t he just say no? I can’t swim very well either but I’d like to think that there isn’t anyone pushy enough to force me to do something that might include a lot of swimming.

      To be quite honest, both of you sound incredibly immature. You’re lying to your boss, he’s lying to his family, this just looks terrible all around. Both of you need to gain some confidence and stop lying.

      1. COT*

        That’s a little harsh. It sounds like the OP has good reasons to keep quiet about this situation at work. Immaturity and the desire for privacy are not the same thing.

        1. Ash*

          It’s not harsh to point out something that is completely valid. Regardless of whether or not there are “good reasons” for lying, the OP is still lying to many people, not just the boss. This situation screams more “immaturity” than anything else to me. The husband got talked into something he isn’t comfortable with and is afraid of failing, so much so that he won’t even tell his own family about it. The OP has 0 spine and can’t just tell her boss to stop asking personal questions, and has even made friends with the boss outside of work, thereby complicating everything by making it so that she’s not only lying to her boss, but her friend (as well as her in-laws). She’s not thinking about this clearly (as someone pointed out below, even if she stays there, this could blow up in her face in the future when it comes time to get a recommendation from this boss) or thinking about her future at all.

          It might sound harsh, but the way the OP presented the situation, I think she and the husband both deserve a kick in the pants to get them to think about this.

          1. Ellie H.*

            This strikes me as a very strange and disproportionate response to a very basic question. The question is essentially “My husband is in the military, and if it pans out, we may have to relocate. Given that this isn’t a definite, I don’t want to disturb my career from its current trajectory until I know for a fact that we will have to move. How should I handle innocuous social questions from my boss about my husband’s whereabouts without revealing that he has joined the military which carries with it the potential for relocation?”

            Absolutely nothing about this warrants evaluations about immaturity, spinelessness, etc. – it has nothing to do with the question, and it would be bizarre to suddenly announce to someone that you have a collegial social relationship with that you will not tolerate any more “personal questions.” I think Alison’s advice to be vague but not actually make up stories is appropriate, as is Kelly’s response below.

      2. BCW*

        They lying to the boss part, I get that it does look bad, but should it? I mean, shouldn’t we all have the right to privacy in our personal lives? If you don’t want to say what your husband is doing, you shouldn’t have to. Just like you don’t have to tell people what you do in your off time. I get that its lying, but its not lying in a way that impacts your job performance.

          1. Chinook*

            Exactly. She can be vague by saying that her husband is away on course. It is the truth but sufficiently vague to not flag that you will be moving soon.

      3. Katie the Fed*

        Um, recruiters CAN be very pushy, like she said. It might be the best economic option for them right now, and the military can be a very good situation for some families, especially for folks without college degrees.

        Not all of the Navy involves being on ships either. I know plenty of Navy folks who haven’t been at sea for years. He can learn how to swim.

        1. T in Construction*

          At least in my own experience, recruiters are VERY good at telling you what you need to hear to sign up. Two of my guy friends joke that their army recruiters told them whatever they needed to hear to join, even if it had nothing to do with their careers.

          Case 1: He did NOT want to go to combat, and was promised he would have a machinery repair job on base. He served 2 tours in the Middle East in combat.

          Case 2: Was dying to get “into the action” and request to go straight to Afghanistan. Served his whole career in the Pacific as a data entry clerk. Haha

          1. Rose*

            Any time a recruiter tells you you absolutely won’t see combat, they’re lying. There’s no way to know.

        2. Ash*

          Yes but, if you don’t want to be there in the first place, how can they make you sign up for it? The husband must have chosen to interact with them in some way. The fact that he’s scared of failing and is lying to his own family about this makes me feel like he isn’t 100% into this thing anyway, and let himself be talked into things.

          1. some1*

            “Yes but, if you don’t want to be there in the first place, how can they make you sign up for it? The husband must have chosen to interact with them in some way.”

            My brother is a former Marine and he did recruiting at the center in our hometown when he was on leave to get more time off. It was very, very, high pressure sales tactics. Think the kiosk people at the mall, the Mary Kay lady, etc.

        3. Jazzy Red*

          It worked out all right for Judy Benjamin, evenutally (“I want to go out to lunch; I want to wear my sandals”).

      4. Kelly*

        I read it differently. I thought she meant he joined the Navy – on his own accord – but doesn’t know how to swim and is therefore afraid he won’t get past boot camp – so he doesn’t want to tell his family about it until/if he passes.

        She is working somewhere that is enabling her to gain additional work experience that will be helpful to her as she goes along in her life and doesn’t want to jeopardize her chances of doing that if she told them what her husband is actually doing and that there is a chance that she may have to move.

        My suggestion is to keep being vague. When and if it comes to a time where she will be having to move it’s quite legitimate to tell her boss/friend that they weren’t even sure he would pass boot camp and didn’t want to tell anyone, not even their families, until they knew how things were going to be.

    2. fposte*

      Do you have other places that will be able to provide you with a recommendation for future employers if this job ends badly?

    3. Anonymous*

      There really should be a law that covers discrimination against the spouses of service men/women and not just the jobs of those that are on active duty.

  5. SB*

    Military spouses can have trouble finding and keeping jobs because it’s sometimes assumed that they won’t be in the position long and will have to leave at a moment’s notice (when the spouse gets reassigned). My friend has learned to keep mum about her husband’s service when she’s applying for jobs. If the OP’s job is going through a lot of restructuring, that may very well be a mark against her.

    1. Chief, US Navy*

      A military member is rarely reassigned at a moments notice. This usually happens when the person is transferring and either gets the orders cancelled, modified to go somewhere else, or whatever. This RARELY happens. For how much notice a person gets on reassignment, they get MONTHS. Usually when a spouse has to leave their job at a moment’s notice is because something other than reassignment.

      1. SB*

        I realize that; however, the assumption on the point of the employer doesn’t always match up with reality. It’s generally assumed that military families move frequently and quickly, that they’re never in one place very long. It is different with every military family, but that doesn’t stop employers from having a prejudice against hiring military spouses.

        1. Ginjury*

          I think your first point was more accurate, SB. Many military families are only stationed somewhere for a few years. Chief, US Navy is right though. Military members have quite a bit of notice when they’re moving, but where they’re moving to may change at the drop of a hat.

        2. KellyK*

          Also, even months worth of notice can feel like the drop of a hat to an employer considering hiring someone new. Even employers who have an accurate picture of how military moves work may not be willing to hire someone who might, a week after they start, find out that they’ll be leaving in several months.

          1. Chinook*

            I dealt with that issue when asked by a future employer abotu hwo long I thoguht my husband and I would be where we were. I said that he beleived he would be there for a few years (true and vague) and pointed out that asking anybody for their plans more than a year out is always going to be difficult because you don’t know if you are going to become pregnant or severely ill. But, unlike in those scenarios, I can guarantee that I would be there until the end and I can give them as much notice as I have to help them with the transition and the training of my replacement. A good employer will recognize the advantages of this scenario. The OP’s employer, on the other hand, has created an environment where they will get the vagueness they deserve.

            I found, as a military wife, my cover letters and interviews were good places to spin my constant moving into showing that I am flexible, a fast learner and not stuck in a “my old place did it this way mentality.” Also, because I choose to change industries (AA’s can do that), I show that I can bring a fresh perspective to how they do things while still recognizing that there is more than one “right” way.

            Yes, I am the master of spin!

  6. Lily in NYC*

    #2 – easy solution – cameras near where people punch in. And let people know that you will be checking the camera every time someone “forgets” to clock in. Random aside – I noticed that my office has one of our cameras facing our “anonymous” suggestion box. That gave me a good laugh.

    1. Anonymous Accountant*

      +1 Every place I’ve ever worked that had timeclocks had cameras focused on it.

    2. Jazzy Red*

      Well, if the employees are punching or swiping in, they should be able to run a report in like, 2 minutes, to find out everything they need to know. If they see someone they suspect at his or her desk, it should be a simple matter to see if they’ve checked in or not.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        But isn’t the issue that a few people are NOT punching in at all and then acting like they simply forgot? With a camera, you can see if the person really simply forgot or is trying to game the system. It’s not that easy to check if someone is at their desk if you work for a huge company.

        1. Kelly*

          The people who are conveniently, and repeatedly failing to punch in/out etc. work int he production area. It’s very large and all 60 people work on that floor. We would have to have camera’s set up to monitor about a 10,000 square foot area to see where everyone was at any given moment.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            I’m confused – where do people actually clock in? It doesn’t sound like there’s a central location – do people clock in on their computer instead of an actual machine? I guess I’m picturing an old-fashioned time clock with punch cards- I don’t work in a timed environment so I’m clueless on how it’s actually done.

          2. Judy*

            I’ve never had to clock in any job since college, but there have been production areas near me in all of those jobs.

            Each place has had limited doorways into the production area, and a timeclock near those doors. I’m pretty sure there were security cameras on those doors. Some places had security guards, some had just doors.

        2. Elsajeni*

          Maybe I’m not understanding — how would a camera help you tell what their intentions were? It seems like either way, whether they honestly forgot or deliberately avoided the time-clock, all you’d see on the camera would be that they didn’t clock in.

          1. AB*

            “Maybe I’m not understanding — how would a camera help you tell what their intentions were? It seems like either way, whether they honestly forgot or deliberately avoided the time-clock, all you’d see on the camera would be that they didn’t clock in.”

            The idea is to be able to check if the employee is stating the truth.

            Scenario: Employee forgets to or deliberately doesn’t punch in.
            Then he claims he worked every day from 9-5, but when you check the cameras, they indicate he was arriving at 10-10:30. Now you have proof that what the employee is saying is a lie.

            1. Elsajeni*

              Ah — that makes sense. I was picturing my workplace, where you can easily come onto the floor and be working for hours without ever passing by the time clock; a camera by the time clock wouldn’t help there, but a camera by, say, the employee break room door probably would.

    3. tcookson*

      At my husband’s work, a certain number (5, I think) of “mis- punches” equals an absence (and a certain number of absences equals a verbal warning, then a written warning, etc.). So the mis-punches can pretty quickly get them in trouble, but only if they are habitual

  7. Brett*

    #4 Isn’t the bigger issue here that the employer is deducting PTO for hours when the employee was not absent (was ready, willing, and able to work)?

    1. Brett*

      The employer’s written policy though should state the conditions for deduction of PTO. If that condition is the employee being absent, and the employee was not absent, then it may be a (civil) legal issue.

      More importantly, state law in OP #4’s state may dictate than an employer cannot deduct more PTO than time off actually taken (i.e. an employer cannot deduct a whole day if the employee only takes off 2 hours, or an entire week if the employee only takes off one day). I know California is this way, but California is always its own set of rules. Any state though where PTO is considered wages (e.g. IL, MA, LA, IN, etc) may have a law governing when and how much PTO may be deducted from a PTO balance.

      1. Joey*

        Policies aren’t going to cover every scenario. And the op only says he couldn’t leave home. If the business was open the employee can easily be considered absent. Happens with flooding all the time. Your street floods, but the store is still open. That’s an absence by almost everyone’s definition. The reason doesn’t matter a whole lot to the business.

        1. Brett*

          Except that he was actually working. That can be a critical factor in determining that the OP was not absent.

          1. Joey*

            I guess management thought that work wasn’t really work. Possibly a crappy decision, but its also possibly a reasonable conclusion when you consider his job is outside sales.

  8. LV*

    #3 – I think complaining to HR about it is silly on the Chinese coworker’s part. That being said, I can’t imagine demanding that people include me in what appears to be a private conversation. Just because it takes place in the lunchroom doesn’t mean that everybody in the lunchroom should or must be involved.

    1. Jazzy Red*

      The OP said it was her regular lunch group, so it definitely WAS a slight against her, especially since both the other women were speaking English the whole time.

      1. Kelly*

        I agree. This has nothing to do with racism. This has to do with one person who turned something simple into a confrontation and is trying to stir the pot and cause drama when there wasn’t any. It sounds to me like the woman who wouldn’t stop speaking Chinese doesn’t like the girl who joined them in the lunch room and this is her way of pushing her out of the circle. I’d gladly give up my place in the circle…someone like this can’t be trusted and I wouldn’t want to be around her anyway. The other girls will find that out soon enough.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yep, high school drama. It makes me sick that adults act this way, but what can you do?

  9. Lizabeth*

    #4 When Sandy roared through the area, the NY office only got paid for 1 day that the RI office was closed, in spite of the fact that transportation into the city wasn’t up and running until the third day. We were charged PTO for the rest. Fair? No, but it is what it is…

  10. Jubilance*

    #3 I’m with the OP on this one – 3 coworkers were speaking in English and then 1 switches to a language I don’t know when I arrive? Any logicial person could wonder if they did that solely to say something they don’t want me to hear/know, and it may even be about it. If it truly was an innocent conversation, then why switch from English to Chinese when the OP walked in? And then to have such a reaction over a simple request to speak English so that the OP could be included in the convo – that struck me as an overreaction, possibly because the Chinese speaker really did say something offensive about the OP in Chinese. If it was an innocent comment in Chinese, then why get huffy about speaking English, when said person was already doing that before?

    1. Ginjury*

      I agree. For one, I think it’s rude in general to speak in a language you know others don’t understand/speak at work. It’s expecially rude to only do so once another coworker enters the room. I would almost say that the Chinese speaking coworker was actually being racist to the OP.

      1. COT*

        I don’t think we know enough about the situation to attribute it to racism, but it was definitely rudeness.

      2. Anonymous*

        Well, I can understand wanting to enjoy the opportunity to speak your native language with other people who speak your native language, though. I guess you can make the argument that it’s tougher to do at the office, but fluency in a second language can sometimes be tricky — for a lot of people (and especially depending on the language; if you go from Germanic to Romantic, etc), it will never feel as authentic or natural as their first language, so it can feel like getting the chance to be almost your most authentic and natural self when you can speak your first language. I think that’s often a driving factor behind people who speak different languages in any situation, rather than wanting people to feel left out. I’m not saying it’s something they shouldn’t be aware of, but compassion on the other end can be helpful too.

        Of course, this situation feels different since they switched upon the OP entering. But I thought I’d offer a little perspective to why someone might speak another language and why it’s not necessarily with the intent of exclusion.

        1. Escritora*

          In this case, it doesn’t just feel different, it is different. She was comfortable enough to speak English to her Chinese-speaking friends. She ONLY switched to Chinese when someone who doesn’t speak it showed up. If they were speaking Chinese all along I’d say the OP was oversensitive. This does look like an intent to exclude, and to continue gossiping/badmouthing.

          I had friends growing up whose parents would do this to them, where the parents and relatives will speak English, until they don’t want the kid to overhear something, then they switch to the parents’ first language. It’s hard not to assume that’s not what’s happening here. I’m pressed to think of an “innocent” alternative, anyway.

          1. Anonymous*

            I agree. I was mostly responding to the point that it’s always rude or exclusionary when people speak in other languages at work. I just think it’s important to think of the other side – for instance, if a native English speaker was working in a country where almost no one else spoke English and found another English speaker; I think for most people, it would be tough for them not to occasionally want to converse in English, even if they were in the workplace. And it goes both ways.

          2. Chinook*

            The only innocent alternative is what happened when my grandmother and her sisters would talk – they would switch from English to French in mid-sentence if they were looking for a word or idea and jsut keep goign withotu thinkign about it. The difference is that they would not get huffy aboot it if my dad (this is his mother-in-law) or us grandkids asked them what they said because he didn’t understand the last part. They would just laugh, blame it on old age and keep going in English.

            1. Dahlia*

              I can think of a dozen reasons why the woman speaking Chinese might not have wanted her coworker to hear her conversation. She may have been complaining about a project, their boss, her kids, her husband, a health issue, etc. What kind of relationship the OP and coworker have? It was rude to start speaking in another language when the OP sat down, but it was also rude of the OP to ask to be included in the middle of her coworkers’ conversation. I’d assume there have been previous issues between OP and the coworker. Out of context, this situation seems overblown by both parties.

              1. Rose*

                But they were previously speaking in English and she was taking to two other coworkers. I also thought it was a little strange that OP asked to be included, but I too assume that she and this coworker have had issues before. But I feel like those excuses don’t fly because they were all initially speaking English.

                Still, I don’t think it’s rude to speak your native language at lunch with people who understand it.

              2. Escritora*

                She was speaking English, where others could overhear, so that argues against a “sensitive” topic. If you wanted to talk about something sensitive at work, and you had the option to START to speak in a way that others couldn’t understand, and you intentionally did not use that option *start* with, then again, I’m sure you’d understand why someone would be suspicious of you *switching* the minute they arrived–arrived in an open space where anyone could hear you–after the fact. If she had been speaking Chinese first, I would have made exactly your assumption about her motives. If she’d been whispering in English first, I would have assumed that, too. But she publicly, openly, used English first, then switched. If the innocent assumption is correct then this is an indictment of her “risk management” abilities; she should have been whispering in Chinese from the get-go.

                Honestly, I agree this sounds like middle school; it’s always annoying for the workplace to seem like that episode where Capt. Picard et al get regressed into early adolescence.

              3. Ellie H.*

                Yeah, I agree. I think most people would consider it rude to switch to another language for “privacy” when someone enters the conversation that you don’t want to include in it. But it’s also not extremely cordial to request that someone speak English. I would never in a million years request that someone start speaking English for my benefit, unless I were a teacher or instructor or manager or something conducting an exercise or project that everyone was supposed to participate in together – I would not dream of doing it in a social or casual situation. That’s rude too, even if the other person was rude first. Note that I wouldn’t consider it rude if it were a work related matter, like we were all working on a project together, and someone said something I didn’t understand that seemed relevant to the project – it would be reasonable and basic in that context. But this seems like a matter of social decorum, not professional efficiency, even though it took place in the workplace.

                It does seem taken out of proportion by both parties.

                1. Jamie*

                  But it’s also not extremely cordial to request that someone speak English.

                  I agree. The only time I will do this is when I’m conducting an audit and people who speak English start speaking a different language before answering me. This is why I always have an interpreter with me so everything within the audit can be understood and noted.

                  Socially or at lunch? I can’t imagine requesting anyone include me in their small talk, or even noticing if I wasn’t tbh.

                2. Kris*

                  Agree with many of the comments about how it seems a bit rude on both sides, but my first thought was that one person switching to Chinese while the others continued to speak English sounded purposely orchestrated to cause dramatic conflict. The fact that she also followed-up with a formal harassment complaint made me suspect that this was not the first issue between her and the OP. I can’t help but wonder if there’s not more to this story…

      3. totochi*

        Why is this rude? It’s lunchtime. Also, is this a global rule? If I travel to my company’s non-US sites, should I expect everyone to speak English when I walk into the break room?

        1. Natalie*

          There was some fairly extensive discussion on this in a short answer post from a week or two ago, but briefly – the etiquette rule is that people in groups should, if possible, speak the language everyone in the group understands. It’s not a rule about English, it’s a rule about common language.

  11. Anonymous*

    #1- How would you word that you are leaving due to how the company handled a coworker’s poor behavior?

    And would telling your manager you’re resigning due to how the company handled Jane’s behavior burn your bridges at that company?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Depends on how you say it. There are certainly ways to say it that wouldn’t reflect well on you, but a reasonable company wouldn’t have a problem with something like, “To be honest, I found it so hard to concentrate with Bob’s disruptive behavior that it really degraded my quality of life at work and my ability to produce at the levels I prefer.”

      1. anonz*

        I did this at an exit interviews. It wasn’t disruptive behavior, it was being treated rudely and as if I were incompetent, and it definitely WAS a factor in why I left. It turns out they investigated the situation (but not until 2 more people quit) and now the offender’s days are numbered.

    2. Jazzy Red*

      I had a little trouble understanding that statement, but then I realized that the OP was talking about the exit interview, not the new job interview. Yes, I think she should tell the HR person the reason she’s leaving. When I left the job where I had a psycho-boss-from-hell, I told the HR guy during the exit interview that they should advertise for her next secretary on the Psychic Network, since that woman expected me to see through walls and around corners, to read other people’s minds, and know what’s going to happen in the future (and don’t dare be wrong!!).

  12. TRB*

    #3 I think I’m on the OP’s side IF she didn’t ask the Chinese woman to speak English in a rude way. If it was rude, both are in the wrong but HR shouldn’t have been involved anyway. If it was polite, then yes she should go to HR on her own and explain what happened. Someone who switches to speaking in their native language after another person walks in is super rude.

    1. Jen in RO*

      I really don’t see how this is an HR matter. It just screams “kindergarten” to me – yes, the coworker was rude, but seriously, how will it look if someone goes to HR saying “Wen refused to talk to me on lunch break”?

      1. Cat*

        I think the issue is that the other employee already went to HR so it’s been brought to their attention regardless.

  13. iseeshiny*

    #2 – If cameras aren’t a feasible option, maybe you could pay them their wage for the time they say they’ve worked, but treat each instance they forget to clock in or out as a tardy when calculating their bonus.

    1. Kelly*

      Excellent idea and will definitely be presenting it to upper management. We used to have horrible attendance issues and by tying their attendance to their bonuses it improved immensely!

      Our employees receive about 18 extra weeks of pay per year in the way of quarterly bonuses. There are two six week bonuses, a four week bonus and a 2 week bonus. They are docked one day for every 4 times they are late, 1 day for every 3 absences, and 3 days for each time an employee doesn’t call or show up to work. In these hard economic times you would think all of our employees would be happy to be on time and do something as simple as clocking in and out correctly. You have to pass right by the time clock to go to and from your work station. No logical explanation for not punching the clock. It gets really frustrating.

      1. tcookson*

        If your company counted each mis-punch at the time clock as a tardy, they could very quickly add up to reduced bonuses for those who are doing it.

        Four mis-punches (counted as tardies) would get them docked for one day’s bonus. If four tardies also counted as a one-day absence, then they would not only miss one day’s worth of bonus pay, but also be one day nearer to the three-absence rule for losing an additional day’s worth of bonus pay.

        I think if they found their bonus pay in jeopardy over the time-clock situation, they’d suddenly find themselves able to punch in accurately most of the time.

  14. Joey*

    #3. You have the right to ask her to speak English if you’re in the conversation. You have the right to feel excluded if she doesn’t want to. You even have the right to be upset. But you don’t have the right to take out your discontent on her.

    1. Chinook*

      But the OP isn’t taking her discontent out on the Chinese coworker. If she said it as politely as described, the opposite happenned. The coworker is unhappy about being asked to speak English and to not be rude and then complained to HR about racial harrassment. The charge of being racist can be a hard one to erase because you can’t disprove it. It is also a very personal charge – if someone said I was a racist, they are stating that I have a character flaw that can impact my career and my interactions with others. That is why I recommend the OP talk to HR to get ahead of this. If she is lucky, she will find out that the coworker makes these types of complaints all the time and isn’t taken seriously (because she is a whiner known for crying wolf, not because it isn’t a serious issue). If she isn’t, she may find that the company has marked her for some type of disciplinary process.

      In my mind, outing someone as racist is the same as claiming someone is a pedophile – it is a life changer that, if false, can damage the innocent.

      1. Joey*

        We don’t know whether she did or not. Although, I think its pretty pointless to go to HR. Its going to look petty no matter who goes.

        And I wouldn’t be so worried about a racist complaint to HR. If HR has half a brain it will take them all of 2 minutes to figure out the woman is being ridiculous.

        1. Kelly*

          They may figure that out pretty quickly, but they still have to document it and show that they made a reasonable effort to resolve the situation. You never know if the Chinese speaking woman is just trying to stir up a discrimination law suit. It’s a CYA situation for HR and the company.

          In the future it would probably be best for OP to not join this group at lunch and be wary of Chinese speaker from here on out.

          1. Joey*

            I’m just saying from a management perspective if someone tries to head off a complaint by coming to me first Id worry that maybe the person is trying to sway the facts by telling their side first. If its truly acceptable behavior there’s no reason to take those kind of precautionary measures. That is unless your HR peeps are idiots.

            1. fposte*

              Do you mean “first” as “before you come to her” or “before the other person”? Because it sounds like the “before the other person” ship has sailed anyway.

              1. Joey*

                I’m saying anytime you proactively try to say “I wasn’t doing anything wrong” it raises suspicion.

      2. KellyK*

        In my mind, outing someone as racist is the same as claiming someone is a pedophile – it is a life changer that, if false, can damage the innocent.

        I think there’s actually a *huge* difference between the two things. Both because being a known racist isn’t nearly as damaging as being a convicted child molester (I’m pretty sure David Duke has a job, right?), and because not only is it possible to discriminate racially without being a horrible person, racism is a cultural thing that nobody really fully escapes.

        For example, there was a study done with identical resumes, one having white-sounding names and one with black-sounding names. As expected, the white-sounding ones got a lot more calls. But I sincerely doubt every hiring manager who called “Jennifer” and didn’t call “Lakeisha” was deliberately being racist.

        1. Chinook*

          I am not saying being racist is the same as beign a pedophile in degree of harm but in how, once you are painted with that brush, you can never get that stain away.

          And, depending on the culture where you are, being labelled a racist could make it hard to get promotions and good references. David Duke may have a job, but is he only able to be hired by like minded folk or are there companies that wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot pole?

          1. Elle*

            People say this but it doesn’t even make sense. Firstly, molesting a child is a criminal offense. An accusation is presumably coupled with an arrest or some media exposure. So could easily follow you from job to job. How on earth would this particular incident be documented in a way in which it could “stain” the persons involved forever?

          2. some1*

            I think it depends on the degree. David Duke is an extreme example, because he was in the KKK and then ran for office. We have to assume, even if the LW or her co-worker are judged as being a racist, they won’t ever get the exposure David Duke did.

            Also, being a convicted child molester can be harder to get away from because there is a public registry of them. There’s no registry of every person who’s ever made a racial remark, just like there’s no registry of every creepy guy in his 20’s who shows at high school parties.

          3. Chinook*

            I apologize at my using a bad analogy but I couldn’t think of a behaviour that would be considered 100% by everyone that you could never disprove. Also, what I mean to focus on was not the actually behaviour but a false accusation of that behaviour.

            Maybe the accusation of racism isn’t considered serious where you are from, but where I am from, that attitude, and more importantly the behaviour that comes from it, is considered 100% unacceptable. Call it the a knee-jerk reaction to being called “backwards rednecks” and living in a place with anrapidly increasing immigrant population. The various Human Rights Commissions in Canada can and will investigate accusations of racism and are not know for giving the benefit of the doubt.

            I look at the OP’s situation and could see this happenning in my office. If there was a group of peole I normally chat who has one person who switches to Chinese when I enter the room, I would ask if they minded if I joined the conversation in English or if it was private. If the Chinese speaker then reported me to HR as racist for insisting she speak English, I would definitely go there before HR contacted me to find out if I am in trouble and to give my side of the story. I would also be shaken up because this is not a descriptor I would take lightly. In fact, if I coudln’t prove my innocence or even if I was at fault because I didn’t realize what I did was wrong, I would feel like I am no longer respected at my workplace and would start looking for work elsewhere. Being called a racist is a character judgement and I could never hold my head up high if I was given that label.

            Then again, maybe I am different from most?

  15. Gilbey*

    I think there is more to this. The one refusing to speak English may not like the one gal and that is why she refused to speak English. Going to HR was extreme but I wonder if there is another piece of this we don’t know. Or maybe the OP isn’t catching onto with how her co-worker feels about her.

    If the OP always sits with them I don’t understand why the language would be an issue. All of a sudden the one didn’t want to speak English? Has this happened before? Language issues? And getting that mad to go to HR? I don’t understand how this just happened seemingly out of the blue. Something is missing.

    The OP referred to them as ” 3 Chinese ” people as opposed to ” the people I eat with regularly who are Chinese and often speak in their native tongue” . This seemed odd to me.

    I don’t refer to my group of friends at work as ” the one with the brown hair and the one with the grey hair……”. They are Gwen and Matilda, my buddies at work.
    I will concede I am reading to much into it.
    The OP refers to these people more on a distant level then personal.
    Again I am reading way too much into that but it just seemed odd.

    Still if they always eat together the 3 know the other doesn’t speak Chinese. Why is this an issue now?

    1. Jen in RO*

      She probably referred to them as simply Chinese because that was relevant to the situation. If I was talking about a conflict with the marketing department, I’d say I was at lunch with 2 women from marketing, not 2 women who eat at the same diner as me and happen to work in marketing.

  16. anony*

    #2 – What if the time clock is broken one week (there was a problem with the software/syncing), management estimates payroll and sends out checks, and then realizes they over paid a few people by 5-10 hours over two weeks.

    Can they dock pay the next pay period for their own mistakes in estimation?

  17. Dawn88*

    Since this company can afford huge bonuses (and pay them to thieves who bite the hand that feeds them) a good idea would be buy a new Biometric Timeclock, that uses your individual thumbprint, to record your start and stop times. No taking a card and punching it, just press your thumb on the device as you walk by….nobody can “punch in” for you, it doesn’t use cards!

    Why they reward bad behavior with bonuses is ridiculous. If the same people do this constantly, why is management letting them run their agenda and basically steal from the company? How fair is it to everyone else who follows the rules? Preferential/disparate treatment is the basis for every discrimination suit there is.

    Do the math…5 people who make $20/hr cheat the Timeclock 2 blocks of 15 minutes every day. That’s $10 each person, or $50 per day x 250 working days a year = $12,500 in time clock cheating…probably only the tip of the “no accountability” iceberg.

    There would be a line around the block twice for their jobs, too.

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