my manager offended my coworker, name-calling colleagues, and more

It’s mini answer Monday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Should I tell my manager she might have offended my new coworker?

I am a senior member on my team and am often asked to do more detailed analysis than the rest of the team. We have a new team member who is very experienced in the industry but new to the company. My manager asked me to run some data that fell under the new person’s area of responsibility. I had run a similar report in my own area and she wanted to see the data in the same way. I did what she asked and emailed it to my manager and the new coworker.

As soon as the new coworker opened the email, she asked if our manager had asked me to do it. I said, “Yes, why?” because she sounded annoyed. She said, “I don’t understand why [manager] wouldn’t ask me to do that.” I told her that I had run a similar report before and that our manager just wanted to see the data in the same way. (It is really just data, she is still going to make decisions on what to do with it.) Honestly, I don’t disagree with her, and she could also run the information easily.

Should I tell my manager that the teammate might have been offended? I know my manager thinks highly of her but often doesn’t give much positive feedback to anyone on the team. Other teammates (including those that have left) have expressed that they did not feel valued by management. I don’t think it’s my place to tell my manager that morale can be low because of a lack of feedback. However, I think this is a concrete example of why morale might be low on our team.

If you have a good relationship with your manager, you can certainly give her feedback on this area in general, but I wouldn’t report this specific instance to her — it’s too likely to backfire and make your coworker look bad for making a big deal out of it. However, if your manager asks you for something like that again, you could certainly say, “I’d be glad to, but I don’t want to step on Jane’s toes since it’s her area. If you want, I can show her how I formatted that report for you last time so she can run it.”

2. My company always holds our paychecks until 6 p.m.

My company constantly holds everybody’s check until 6 p.m. every payday so that we don’t cash it that day. Is that legal in any way? Our usual work day is from 8-5 p.m., and for others it’s 7-3:30, and for some it’s even earlier. We are constantly stuck sitting around waiting to be able to get our checks. They also will not offer direct deposit. Also, for the hourly employees, they make them clock out at 5:00 but make them wait till 6:00 sometimes even 7 to 7:30 to receive their checks. Is there anyway of stopping this and being able to get my check in a timely manner?

Also, this past Memorial Day, at the last minute they decided to have everyone come into work. Fortunately, I had plans and decided to just use a sick day, but my general manager was not too pleased with my decision and told everyone in my office that she was going to dock my pay for not coming in. If I am a salaried employee, can she dock my pay for using a personal/sick day and can she tell others in my office that she is going to do that?

In no particular order:
* Most states specify that you must be paid within X days from the end of a pay period. As long as your office is within this limit, it doesn’t matter how late in the day they give you your check. I would simply start planning as if pay day is a day later than it really is, so that you’re not inconvenienced when your check isn’t ready earlier, and so that you don’t feel you need to wait around for it.
* It’s legal not to offer direct deposit.
* If you’re an exempt employee, they can’t dock your pay for not coming in one day. If you’re non-exempt, they can.
* They can indeed tell others in the office that they plan to dock your pay.

3. My coworkers call me names when they walk by my desk

How would you advise handling coworkers who engage in unnecessary, mean, petty behavior? For example, walking past my desk and uttering nasty things (“bitch”) under their breath. Or, talking about me within earshot. So far, I’ve just let all of this roll off my back, but I think this is nuts. Especially since I’ve only been there a short period of time. Also, if it’s relevant at all, I’m in a different department then them but do have to work with one of them occasionally, and due to the nature of my job, I’m the ultimate decision maker on the projects we work on together.

That’s hostile to the point that you shouldn’t let it roll off your back. Talk to them — calmly and professionally — about what’s going on (example: “I don’t need you to like me, but I do need you to be polite and professional toward me in order for us both to get our work done”), and speak to your own manager if that doesn’t work. It’s not reasonable to expect you to work in an environment where people are behaving this way as a matter of course.

4. Getting paid for travel time and honorariums

I work for a small nonprofit, and occasionally I am asked to go speak about our organization to an outside group on the weekend. Sometimes these events are out of town. The staff member who does our timesheets told me that I would receive mileage for the distance from our office to the event, regardless of whether I started from home or the office, but that I would not be paid for driving time. I understand that no one is paid to drive from their home to their office on a normal day, but what should I do if the event is more than an hour away? It seems awfully inconvenient to drive an hour somewhere on a Sunday morning, get paid to speak for 30 minutes, and drive an hour home.

Second, what is conventional when it comes to accepting an honorarium if you are an hourly, non-exempt employee? Obviously salaried people accept them all the time; is it any different for hourly?

The federal rules on travel time are less than clear, but they should probably be paying you for that travel time if it’s notably farther from your home than your office is, particularly if it’s on a day that would normally be a non-work day.

Whether you accept honorariums or not has to do with the culture and conventions at your office, not with whether you’re hourly or salaried. Generally, though, people who accept them for work-related appearances have them paid to their organization, rather than keeping them for themselves.

5. Applying to a job on a tip, when that job might not exist yet

Here’s the scoop: I am a full-time customer service rep with a print manufacturer. On my own time, I am often working on freelance graphic design projects, as graphic design is ultimately my career goal. Some of my coworkers are aware of this where I work. I received a tip from a fellow CSR that one of her accounts is looking for a graphic designer, as they are having quite a few issues with their current one. This was just mentioned to her briefly on the phone after she alerted the customer of an issue with some artwork that was sent to her.

I dug around a bit online so far, and it seems no position is posted yet. I will do more digging, but perhaps the company is still deciding on if they’re actually going to search for a new hire or not, and what was said to the other CSR was just spurted in the heat of the moment. In any case, how does one apply for a position that is not publicly posted (or at least not posted yet)? Also, I’d feel leery about mentioning that my coworker was the one who brought the position to my attention. I don’t want to get her in trouble with our current employer. Do you have any pointers on how I should tread here?

Hmmm, this is tricky — if it were just a question of how to apply to a not-yet-posted job, you could just go ahead and send it your materials, but in this case your tip is based on something that may have been said to your colleague in confidence. The ideal solution would be for your coworker to go back to the client and mention that she’d like to recommend someone, but if that’s not feasible, then ask her how she’d be most comfortable with you proceeding (applying and mentioning her name, applying and not mentioning her name or why you’re contacting them, or not applying at all).

6. Is LinkedIn stalking crafty or creepy when the company purposely keeps contact information from you?

I just completed a telephone interview with the hiring manager at a large West Coast technology company. The company’s interviewing policy is that the recruiter schedules the interview, and emails the candidate with the first name of the interviewer and the time the interviewer will call, and the phone call’s CallerID comes in with a generic switchboard number — that’s it; I guess they have had issues in the past where candidates are a little too ambitious whilst following up.

This is a rather senior position, and the combination of the hiring manger’s first name and the business unit — and a bit of Google-Fu and LinkedIn noodling — makes it pretty obvious who he is. Is it uber creepy to send him a follow up email directly, or should I send it to the recruiter in hopes she passes it along? I think it’s a bit creepy to email him directly when his contact information has not been proffered, while my wife (who was born and raised in the city where this job is, and has had multiple jobs in the technology field while there) thinks it demonstrates internet fluency and the ability to do my research that would go a long way to a senior marking position at an internet retailer.

They’re making a point of preventing you from having direct contact with the person you’re phone-interviewing with; I’d respect that. That said, it’s not going to be a disaster if you don’t … but since they’re making their preferences pretty damn clear, I don’t know why you’d ignore them.

7. Can my employer fire me through a message to someone else?

What can happen to me or my former employer if they fired me but did not tell me to my face or call me? The way I found out I was fired was through an employee who had no managerial position. Is an employer allowed to do that?

Sure. They can communicate your firing however they want — through skywriting or a midnight phone call if they want to. It’s incredibly lame, but it’s perfectly legal.

{ 131 comments… read them below }

  1. Woodward*

    7. I was fired once by my boss walking into my office on a Monday morning and – without saying anything or making eye contact – sliding a piece a paper across my desk that said, “This isn’t working out. Please go home. You’re fired.” He walked out without looking at me. I was completely blindsided and upset! Legal? Yes. Fun? No.

    1. Leslie Yep*

      Whaaaaat? Did he fold it into a cootie catcher? “Did you like being my direct report, check yes or no?”

      1. Jessa*


        That is an entirely immature and idiotic way to fire someone, but at least as a cootie catcher or a tick yes or no sheet, it might have been ~slightly~ amusing in a kindergarten kind of way.

      2. mooseknuckle*

        Lord something is wrong with me, i read that as coochie catcher and i was like…wahhhhh???

  2. Rob Aught*

    #3 – If you’re the ultimate decision maker and relatively new, this may be resentment or a challenge to your authority, possibly both. You definitely need to handle this and I agree completely with Alison, you need to have that conversation with them first.

    People don’t like confrontation, so there’s a good chance that if you approach them as a calm professional they’ll back down. Just make sure they don’t try to sabotage you in other ways.

    #6 – I interviewed two candidates recently and BOTH candidates sent a follow-up thank you through the recruiter. The recruiter was very prompt in sending the email to me.

    I understand wanting to follow-up, but use the recruiter. In this specific instance it is actually my boss who is the hiring manager and not me, but because my schedule is more flexible I was coordinating the recruiter and arranging meetings with executives and managers outside our group to meet potential candidates. I’m pretty sure my boss would have been skeeved out to have been hunted down that way.

    1. EngineerGirl*

      #3. I was thinking authority challenge too. But calling a decision maker “bitch” is insubordination, pure and simple. It is absolutely positively unacceptable and needs to stop. Now. Letting it go makes it harder to rein in. And for what it is worth, that kind of name calling is gender specific and therefore falls under sex based harassment.

      I’m going to suggest “Crucial Conversations” again.

      Don’t let this go. It escalates quickly and this level of unprofessionalism needs to be slapped down hard.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        Actually, I was thinking that OP might not have handled her authority in a graceful way and insulted at least one person. Nevertheless, having people mutter vulgarities when passing her desk is inappropriate and needs to stop.

        OP, Alison is right. You need to address this with the people who are doing it, and if that doesn’t work, go to your manager for advice on how to handle it.

  3. bob*

    #7 WTF seriously??!?! What kind of passive, aggressive chump does that? It sounds like he did you a favor.

  4. SMCR*

    Re: #7–I’ve heard of people finding out they were fired when their email went away and their key cards stopped working. It was left to IT to tell them why. Totally classless and tacky, of course, yet some of the very places that put a lot of effort and formality into the hiring process wimp out when it comes to termination.

  5. Been there/done that*

    #7 Wow, so sorry this happened to you. I had no idea it was legal so it is good to know.

  6. Mike*

    I’d like to find an employer who fires via sky writing just to be fired in that manner.

    1. Kara*

      Me too! I actually Googled “fired sky writer” just to see if there was ever an instance that this actually happened. There wasn’t, of course, and that really seems like a lot of money to spend on firing someone when it could easily be done many other ways…but I kind of hope to read an article about that happening some day.

      1. EngineerGirl*

        On a similar vein, our security officer proposed to his girlfriend (who also worked on campus) via a sky writer. This was back in the 80’s. Considering there were 30,000 co-workers on campus at the time, it was a fairly bold move.

        She said yes. They are still married.

        1. Anonymous*

          Wow! As an introvert, that would be my nightmare proposal, second only to the Jumbotron.

          But if that’s her thing, good for them!

          1. FD*

            I know what you mean! I’ve always said if my special someone tried pulling a stunt like that to propose, they were going to find themselves single *really* fast.

    2. CathVWXYNot?*

      There was a great story in the British media a little while back about a guy who resigned by bringing in a cake with his resignation notice piped into the icing on top. My first comment got blocked because it included a direct link to the story, but Google “resignation cake” and you’ll find it

  7. Anonymous*

    #6 I recently started at a West Coast technology company/internet retailer that is hiring like crazy and recruits in exactly the manner you describe.

    I did not follow up after either of my phone interviews. They went well and I felt that they stood on their own merit. I was easily able to locate the Linked In pages of my interviewers ahead of time (and I am not even on Linked In), but I only used the info for background and did not bring it up in any discussions. When I came for my in person interviews, I asked most of my 6 interviewers for a business card and used that contact info to follow up with a thank you email the next day. For anyone for whom I did not have contact info, I sent the note to the recruiter and asked that person to forward it. I did not get responses to any of the notes, but I did get an offer.

    I think it is assumed that a viable candidate will have internet fluency here. In other words, possession of it is not something that is really going to set you apart.

  8. PEBCAK*

    #1) I would worry less about the junior team member being offended and more about having to do work that she should be the one doing. I think AAM’s wording works for that, too, but I would most DEFINITELY push back.

    1. Rob Aught*

      Considering I’ve run support teams in the past, I love that name choice. Gave me a chuckle with my pre-work coffee this morning.

  9. Spreadsheet Monkey*

    #7 – are you sure you’re actually fired? If it’s not coming from a manager, how do you know it’s real and not just office gossip or a malicious co-worker?

    1. Elise*

      I wondered about that too. I could see a nasty coworker doing that to someone if they didn’t like them and thought they were going to be too shy to double check it with the boss.

      I would definitely head directly into the boss’s office to ask about the situation before assuming anything.

      1. Chinook*

        I second questioning whether or not you are fired if you are only told so by a corworker with no authority. What would you have to loose by asking your supervisor if the rumour was true?

        1. Chinook*

          Thinking more about being fired by proxy, I remember a priest once telling my mother that I couldn’t be an altar server any more. She looked at him, smiled and told him that, as a 17 year old, I was old enough to be told in person. He never did have the guts to tell me in person and I outlasted him.

          (BTW, I am using this example of how being told via proxy is different from beign told in person and don’t want to get into religious discussions.).

      2. Anonymous*

        I agree. If anything, if it’s true, you get to really put him/her on the spot and force them to do what they were too cowardly to do in the first place. It’s not much, but why make it easy for someone like that?

        1. tcookson*

          Agree . . . I wouldn’t consider myself fired until I’d heard it directly from the horse’s mouth, as it were.

  10. Lydia Navarro*

    To #2: I worked for a couple months for this terrible small business that had everyone incorrectly placed on 1099s. They acted just like your company has with the team of overworked, underpaid young women who made the products that kept cash flowing in, and even the ancillary staff such as myself were instructed not to cash any checks until the Saturday following payday Friday. It was a huge pain the first month because my boss didn’t tell me, so we’d counted on that money to buy a bed Friday night and it wasn’t there. From what I am seeing and from talking to disadvantaged employees who don’t have much leverage (e.g. students/young grads, the Boomer/over-50’s, Hispanic or other racial/ethnic minority workers) these kinds of things are fairly common or at least becoming moreso. Could you potentially start looking for a new job? Or, I should say, is this a big enough issue to warrant that for you?

    #5: I want to share with you an article that actually helped me get my current job, at a company offering a similar role, but not quite what I wanted. I basically created my own position this way. I hate to post links to other sites because it trips spam filters, but there is a website called Daily KOS, which offers an installment written by Diane in NoVA about this issue. The article titles you want are “The Qualifications Brief—When Should You Use It?,” and “The Marketing Letter—A Different Way to Look for a Job.”

    But it’s a series so you may decide you like the other articles or find they are useful too. I took Diane’s advice when re-locating to my current city and actually did set up a custom new position for myself using the Brief and Marketing Letter. Only downside: I had to wait for it to be made available and in the meantime, worked the crappy bridge job that was mentioned above.

    1. FreeThinkerTX*

      Lydia – Could you post the link to at least one of those articles? I searched Daily KOS for the titles and for the author, but I’m not finding anything.

  11. Lydia Navarro*

    Oh and before I forget: Here is an event that shows the terrible side of my ex-boss from the bridge job. He told me he was going to fire one of the girls and made a big thing of it before actually doing so. She was understandably upset because he revealed her compensation and her firing to the whole office but there wasn’t anything she could do. Not that I know of anyway. I felt sad for her. She lived with her mama and was supporting her.

  12. Anonymously Anonymous*

    For my last interview, when the HR assistant called me and setup my interview I asked for the names of the people interviewing me. I only wanted the information for followup thank you email. It feels arkward to me to ask for s business card after the interview. I googled them and found their email addresses and sent the thank you emails. I got a bounce back on one -she must have recently had a name change because the email address name was different from her name. So I just used the other name and emailed again. Afterwards I did have the epiphany that maybe I should mail the thank you letters to the Hr assistant but I thought it would be overkill-seeing as one email actually was indeed the correct email and went through..

  13. Mike C*

    I don’t particularly care if it’s legal or not, but any organization that play games with your paycheck is sketchy as all hell and most likely not following the law in some non-obvious way.

    No direct deposit either? That’s a load of crap as well. You just have to ask yourself, ” why are they making it so difficult for you to get your paycheck?” Get your resume in order, not even the crap job I used to have played these sort of games.

    1. Anonymously Anonymous*

      I agree. I worked for a place that held checks until 2 pm. It wasn’t a huge inconvenience because I was still able to cash my check that day. it worked out I got my pay on my payday and the company payroll hit the bank the following business day. Now processing times are faster and that sucks for the op since they don’t offer direct deposit and banks close by 5. I’m not sure of laws vary by the state but when I worked accounting payroll was sacred and you got paid on your paydate even if we had to take it from petty cash (in the case of messed up hours). And holding a check til 6PM just seems so wrong to me even though its legal.

      1. LauraUK*

        Back in the early 90s, my first boss used to pay me in cash and used to regularly wait as late as possible before paying up. I remember knocking on his office door at 6.45 one Friday night and saying “I’m sorry to disturb you but I need to be paid.” He was in a meeting so I felt bad (but also cross as this was typical power games for him) but I had to pay my rent. He proceeded then to count out loose change and then literally chucked it across the desk at me while this other guy was sitting there. All the money fell on the floor and I was left scrabbling round people’s legs to claim it. He was a charmer!

        1. Anonymously Anonymous*

          I wonder how that’s working for him now. What a great way to have high turnover rate…start messing with people hard earned money then throw it at them when they ask to be paid.

        2. EM*

          A coworker did something like that to me (it was something I needed him to sign). I looked at him, looked at the paper on the floor, and turned back to my desk and resumed typing. He picked up the paper and put it on my desk.

    2. Anonymous*

      Also, I’d take it as a sign that your job (and the company) is in no way stable. If they are giving themselves an extra day to pay out, to me, that’s a big red flag. I had a job where a co-worker upon handing me my paycheck (we got paid randomly and not on any kind of schedule) told me to cash it on my way home because the money might not be there the next day. There were other pay issues–getting paid less than I was originally told, not being paid for lunch even though I never got to take a lunch, only being paid for the hours scheduled even though I always had to work past my leave time. Luckily I enjoyed my job, I was 19, and it was just for the summer so it didn’t really matter. The place was out of business by Christmas.

      Looking back, I can’t believe how bad it was and that I never really put it all together…guess it’s pretty easy to take advantage of 19 year olds who don’t realize how it’s really not ok to pay them whenever you feel like it.

      1. Mike C.*

        Yeah, I really wish basic labor law was taught in high school for this very reason. Employers shouldn’t get away with treated employees like garbage just because it’s their first job.

    3. Been there, done that*

      A company that does these things is having problems with cash flow. They are either broke or whoever is supposed to be managing their finances is doing a terrible job…or both.

      No direct deposit, that means they cannot handle having their entire payroll debited from their account at once. This can be manageable IF the CFO or whoever is on top of things, but that is usually not the case. There is a very good chance that payroll isn’t the only expense that they are having problems meeting. When I was looking for a new job, I avoided no direct deposit companies like the plague.

      1. AP*

        The thing about direct deposit isn’t necessarily shady – I have outsourced payroll (my company is less than 10 people so it makes no sense to do it ourselves). Some outsourcers do direct deposit, some don’t offer it. Of course, enough of them do it now that it should really be standard, but this has actually only happened in the last year or so.

        1. Been there, done that*

          I agree, but due my experiences working for companies who didn’t offer DD, I automatically think the worst!

        2. Mike C.*

          There’s no reason for an outsourced payroll firm not to offer direct deposit. It saves money, and this is 2013, not 1973.

          1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

            Most do offer it, it’s true. But there are ACH fees associated with direct deposit, and those are usually paid by the payroll company (probably passed on thru fees to the company paying the checks, but not directly). Especially if it’s a small payroll company, they might not be able to absorb those fees and still charge competitive prices.

            When we’re saying that most payroll companies already offer direct deposit, it could be that we’re still only saying that the top 3 companies offer it… as probably 75% of wage earners in the country have their payroll paid by one of the top three payroll companies. They operate on a totally different scale than the little guys, and thus have better prices for more services.

            1. Jamie*

              Actually the payroll services I’ve dealt with (one of the top and one mid range) they are direct about passing on the fees – it’s a line item on the cash disbursement breakdown.

            2. Mike C.*

              There comes a time in the life of a business where they need to grow up from paying people under the table and start cutting paychecks in the first place, is there not?

              This is another one of those steps.

              On it’s own it’s not that big of a deal, but combined with other issues, it’s incredibly sketchy.

        3. Laura B*

          This – I work for a small business that outsources payroll, and our accountant (who is 100% professional, but a sole proprietorship) doesn’t offer direct deposit yet. She looks into it every year to see if it’s become more feasible for her to do, but hasn’t plunged yet.

          1. Natalie*

            Just curious is you know – what is preventing her from offering it? My understanding is that DD is cheaper than checks, but perhaps that’s only if you are cutting enough checks?

      2. Anonymously Anonymous*

        The company I worked for that held checks until 2pm, I never had a problem with my paycheck in the 3 years I worked there. I believe the law is you have to be paid 14 days after the pay period ending date and most places cut checks a couple days before –giving them the extra couple of days. At this place the GM made daily deposit before 2pm and so checks weren’t ready until after 2pm even though the courier had them there by 12… It was never a big deal because people cashed their checks after 2 without a problem.
        But holding checks until 6pm when most banks are closed by that time and not having direct deposit is shady imo. Six o’clock is well after normal business hours and might as well constitute the next business day. So pay day might as well be changed but somehow I don’t feel like that will fix the lw’s problem.

        1. fposte*

          The laws on when you have to get paid by are state specific, so they’re really varied.

      3. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        I don’t think it’s true that companies that hold checks until a certain time on payday are having cash flow issues. I’ve worked places that held checks as well, and it was never an issue, never got paid late, etc. It could be that if they get the checks in the mail, they want to give people a time that they know checks will be available, so people don’t make a trip only to find that mail didn’t arrive that day.

        There could be many, or no, reasons for their policy, but I can’t imagine thinking anything sleazy or scary is happening because of it. Like Alison said, it’s just the same as if you’re payday were a day later than it really is. If it’s always the same way, the days are consistent, and the checks don’t bounce, what the heck is the big deal?

        1. -X-*

          Yeah. If they consistently hold checks till the same time, and there is never a problem with getting the money at that time, I don’t understand what the problem is. It’s predictable and reliable.

      4. Hannah*

        I worked for a small business for about a year and a half and the business owner refused to implement direct deposit. The official rationale was that he didn’t want to pay the extra banking fees, but it was really that he was a control freak and didn’t want to give up the power of having to physically sign paper checks before they could be distributed.

        I never felt in danger of cash flow issues but he would also do things like routinely forget to sign checks on pay day and we would then get paid a day or 2 late. Luckily, it didn’t affect me too much but one of my coworkers would get so pissed.

    4. Brandy*

      Agree- even if it is something like a cash flow issue, why not just have the checks on Monday vs. Friday? Then everyone can adjust to “checks are available Monday at 8am!” instead of having to wait around until 6:30 or so on Friday.

      Of course, you could just mentally adjust and pick up your check on Monday as well.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        Though there are plenty of banks that can cash a check on a Saturday, or you could deposit your check at an ATM and have it at least partially cleared on Saturday (at many banks). Or those scammy check-cashing places are often open late. Really, it’s not the employer’s problem whether or not banks are open.

        1. Grace*

          It’s bad for morale to make employees fret about their paychecks. (I work in law too.) Smart businesses, that don’t have automatic deposit, are sensitive to this issue and give people their paychecks before lunch time so employees can deposit them on their lunch hours.

          As to your comment that, “Really, it’s not the employer’s problem whether or not banks are open” is a haughty attitude to have since employees’ job satisfaction impacts productivity, customer service, and turn-over (and the costs are huge for losing an employee, replacing them, and getting the new employee up to speed). The Golden Rule pays golden dividends in business.

          1. KellyK*


            It should not be hard to take the availability of banks into account when deciding when to do paychecks. (And those scammy check-cashing places cost 1-4% of the value of a check, so may not be an option for everyone.)

    5. Katieinthemountains*

      At my small company, our paychecks were distributed no earlier than 11:30 a.m. on payday Fridays. The boss used to hold them until 2:00 p.m. so that he would get the interest for that day. And we didn’t get direct deposit until recently because he really, really enjoyed walking around handing out paychecks. I think he’s pretty invested in being the benevolent monarch, and definitely frugal. So, there may be issues here, but the company isn’t about to go under.

      1. Jamie*

        There is something about the handing out checks for some businesses. We’re 100% direct deposit (which was NOT an easy transition – a lot of people were completely pissed off they had to get a bank account and up until then I had NO IDEA grown adults were functioning with no banking whatsoever) but HR still passes out the stubs/vouchers/whatever they are called and thanks us.

        It’s kind of quaint.

        1. Anonymous*

          Did they keep cash under the mattress too? Like someone said upthread, this is 2013 :)

          1. Jamie*

            Just a lot of people who used currency exchanges instead of banks. I never did get a straight answer as to why, but there was a lot of anger at having to open a bank account.

        2. EM*

          A lot of low-income people don’t have bank accounts because they figure if the money is gone within a few days or weeks or whatever of getting paid, why bother putting anything in the bank if it’s never going to stay there? I used to work for a major US city, and you could get paid via direct deposit, check, or pay card. It was basically a VISA-type card with your pay loaded onto it, and you could use it like a debit card to buy stuff and get money out at ATMs. I thought it was a really good solution so people wouldn’t have to go to those check-cashing outfits (which take a percentage of the check you cash).

          1. Jess*

            There’s usually a minimum amount required to open a bank account (at least a non-student account), and fees if you don’t keep that minimum balance. That prevents many low-income people from opening an account. Plus, there are people who have come from places where banks aren’t stable.

            Some cities (DC, I think) and banks have started offering special banking packages to low-income folks. The pay on a check-card thing is also great.

            1. Jessa*

              Not to mention all it takes is one problem with a bank (and that can include something that was not your fault,) and you end up on one of those lists and you cannot open a new account at all. And it’s not hard to have a problem with a bank if you’re unemployed, or low income.

        3. Editor*

          I worked with someone who was very upset when she had to arrange for direct deposit, but she finally found a credit union that allowed her to have an account under certain specified conditions. Her problem was that she was a bad money manager and had incurred a lot of fees at the previous two banks she’d dealt with, so no one wanted her for a customer.

          I never knew if the fees were still outstanding and she’d bailed or just if fee-invoking events were so frequent that the banks got fed up. She drove the payroll people crazy trying to get advances on her paycheck when there was a crisis, and she had a lot more drama than the rest of the 30-person department combined.

          In the 1950s and 1960s, my dad dealt with people who had come from eastern Europe after banks collapsed and economies cratered. They didn’t trust banks, and most of them did all their business in cash. I’m not sure when the economic mess happened, though, so I don’t know if it was before WWII or after. I think the immigrants were from Slovakia, but I’m not positive.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        My old boss used to hand out checks too, but they had direct deposit and she handed out the pay stubs. Finally, very shortly before I left and long after she did, they went to an electronic format where we could log into the acquiring company’s intranet and download our stubs. With my new company, it’s too damn big to hand out checks–I don’t even know half the people on my floor.

    6. Jessa*

      Direct deposit costs the bosses money. Smaller companies often cannot afford it. However, that being said, any company that pushes the payroll past deposit time, is definitely playing games with the money, the kind of games that make me wonder if they can MAKE payroll. IE if they are moving money from another account SO late in the day the money would not BE there before the next business day.

      It “smells” of them being cash poor. And I’d be seriously worried about that.

      1. Jamie*

        It may cost money, but it saves so much hassle in the long run if you have people who hold onto checks.

        When you are cutting live checks you need to hold the money for X number of years and keep accounting for it with every bank reconciliation you do while silently screaming for them to deposit the freaking check already.

        There are a lot of Sheldon Coopers out there with a drawer full of checks, apparently.

          1. Cat*

            I still do that with reimbursement checks. I feel kind of bad about it, but not really that bad, I guess.

        1. Anonymous*

          This along with the comment about about people not having bank accounts make me think you work in a company full of drug dealers! (no need for paycheck apparently, and no bank account)

          1. -X-*

            Your attitude is not rare – viewing a practice common among poor people (not having bank accounts) as related to crime.

            1. Anonymous*

              Did you miss the other thing I said – “no need for paycheck”. I assure you poor people are not sitting on uncashed checks…

              1. -X-*

                I saw it but guess I don’ t understand how it changes the meaning of what you wrote – that not using banks makes you think of drug dealers.

                If you can explain the who “no need for paycheck” changes that I’m all ears – thanks.

                1. Anonymous*

                  It does, because of the AND. as in I’m only accused people who fulfill both conditions to be potential drug dealers. i.e. Someone who does not use banks and does not need a paycheck, although I’d imagine could be wealthy from family or other means, could also be making money off the books.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          LOL that reminds me of a story someone told me. He was the husband of one of my parents’ employees, and did my taxes for me. He said one time, years ago, the IRS sent him a check for four cents as a refund. He just looked at it, rolled his eyes and threw it into a drawer. Six months later, they called him and asked him to please cash it so they could balance their books. :)

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I thought sketchy as well. Maybe they’re having trouble meeting the payroll somehow each period. In any case, that’s not normal to make people sit around like that–in addition to being incredibly thoughtless and annoying.

  14. Katie the Fed*

    #4 – you could ask if you can do the same thing we do in my (federal) office.

    We get travel comp time for travel outside of normal working hours. It doesn’t cash out after a year like normal comp time, but it’s there as leave if you want to use it. If I travel 9 hours on a weekend, then I earn 9 hours of travel comp time. It’s wonderful!

    1. KayDay*

      My non-profit office is similar, although less precise about it (and for the record, the only people who travel are exempt employees). We give comp time for travel, although it’s not exactly a 1-1 correlation. But if you spend all day Saturday traveling, you can usually take a full day off.

      1. the gold digger*

        My non-profit is not like that at all. Weekends spent traveling (and there are several, as we are an international organization) are on employee time.

        Plus we don’t get July 5 off this year.

        I think it all stinks.

  15. LisaLyn*

    #3 – I worked in an office during high school which I credit with opening my eyes to the fact that so-called adults can be even LESS mature than teens and that was exactly the sort of thing that this particular group of bullies did. This is extremely serious and I really hope there is a manager that you can talk to because this is a hostile work environment.

    I agree with trying to talk to them as long as you can stay completely unemotional. Do you have any feeling as to what their manager thinks of them?

    1. fposte*

      To be clear, it’s probably not a hostile work environment in the legal sense, because the hostility has to be for a legally protected characteristic. (The “bitch” imprecation isn’t necessarily enough, especially if the people saying it are women, to make it sexist harassment.)

      1. LisaLyn*

        Yeah, i was taking the “Bitch” as being gender-specific and it doesn’t have to be a man to make it sexual harassment.

          1. fposte*

            It doesn’t have to be a man, but it does have to be gender-based and severe and pervasive; the mere fact that the insult is gendered doesn’t make it gender-based harassment.

            1. Rob Aught*

              Let’s not put the cart before the horse. Gender is not really an issue. No one should be addressing their colleagues in that manner.

              1. fposte*

                I agree entirely and unreservedly, and I think the OP should definitely address it. I’m just suggesting that there’s not actually likely to be a legal issue from the current description, so it shouldn’t be handled on that basis.

            2. Jamie*

              It’s not even that gendered anymore. Plenty of guys call either other that – so the argument that it’s a gender based pejorative would have been true in past years, I’m not sure that would hold up anymore.

              1. Cat*

                Except when guys call other guys that, the insult is that they’re like a woman. I don’t know whether it can ever rise to the level of legal sexual harassment or not (not my field) but it is still gendered.

          1. EngineerGirl*

            But you need to let the offender know that if it continues then it does become pervasive. Giving someone a heads up is kindness.

            1. fposte*

              If you’re giving heads-up for legal reasons, then you have to include your higher-ups, too.

              1. Cat*

                I don’t think it really makes sense to say that people are obligated to give potential sexual harassers specific warning that their behavior may eventually become legal sexual harassment.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  It’s actually good policy to tell the person directly that their behavior is unwelcome and to stop before you escalate it, unless there are reasons not to do that in a specific case.

                2. Cat*

                  Sure, but that seems to stop short of making a legal assessment of the severity of their actions at a particular point which strikes me as bad practice.

    2. khilde*

      Agreed that it’s not harassment in the legal sense, but it is highly likely bullying, which unfortunately nearly all of those behaviors are still legal. I have no practical advice other than to direct you to this website, which I have found to be really easy to understand and easy to relate to.

  16. LisaLyn*

    #1 – Meant to say this, too — in addition to speaking with your manager as AAM suggests, you could also pull the coworker aside and just say, “Yeah, I know we don’t get a lot of feedback around here. It’s a problem, but Manager really does think highly of you, so it’s not personal.” Or something. Just to give her a heads-up that nobody is getting feedback.

  17. Lisa*

    #7 – I once had a seasonal employee disappear for 4 hours. I called her cell, no answer. Called her house her bf answered. I fired her through him. ‘If you talk to her today, tell her not to come back. She’s fired. I’ll send her last check and belongings by UPS to X address.’ She later needed a letter of recommendation for something. I never responded. She sent a scathing email back about how evil I was for not doing it.

    1. Chinook*

      But firing an employee via her boyfriend makes sense when she has abandoned her job and you can’t find her to do it in person. She created a situation where you were given no other option 9especially if you work in a place that requires you to pay someone a min. number of hours for showing up to a shift).

  18. Sarah*

    #5 – You could also call on your own time or go by their office and explain you are a graphic designer and are wondering if they would be interested in your services or something to that effect. Make them think its a big happy coincidence that they need someone new and you just happen to land on their doorstep. I don’t know if AAM would advise this, but I don’t think its an awful idea. It would probably come up that you work for the company where they made mention of needing a new person, but the person who called and talked to your coworker probably isn’t the hiring manager, so I doubt anyone would put it together.

    1. Esra*

      I would actually recommend against this. Plenty of agencies and companies get portfolios from designers even when they aren’t hiring, but through email or snail mail.

      Going there in person, out of the blue, would be irritating and a red flag on pretty much every design team I’ve worked on.

  19. Hannah*

    #2 – I sympathize with you and I think about what I had to tell myself over and over again with my last employer and that is “Unfortunately, it’s not illegal to be an asshole.”

    1. LisaLyn*

      Ha! I have a similar mantra at my current job and that is “No one can make someone else NOT be jerk.”

  20. Esra*

    #4 Getting paid for travel time and honorariums

    I completely misread that as getting paid for time travel.

    Anyway, two hours is definitely long enough that you should be getting paid for that time. I work for a non-profit, and anything over 1/2 hour would be paid.

    1. Rob Aught*

      I was thinking about this myself. Having been a consultant travel was a regular part of our work. As I recall, the rule was that if you were driving, anytime that was over what it would take for you to drive into your home office was considered billable. This meant I never got to use it for local clients because the office was an hour away from me. If you lived close to the office though you could potentially be booking billable time and mileage to the customer. Note, we used a separate travel code and I don’t think it was usually sent to the customer but it could count towards our utilization.

      For long distance travel over multiple day engagements we were expected to make our trips, driving or flying, during non-work hours and weren’t paid for it. Day trips were a different story though. Same rule applied to those.

      I know at a different employer where we had multiple sites, time spent driving between sites was still billable as well. Didn’t happen often, but I could still book time if I had to travel from one side of town to the other.

      In general, my experience has been if you’re doing BUSINESS travel during normal working hours you still get paid for it.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        And if you’re not paid for it, make sure you do your time travel during time where you were already paid for other work.

  21. CoffeeLover*

    #3 WTF!?
    This is a major, major sign of a hugely dysfunctional work place. If more than one person thinks this behavior is ok and won’t get them fired then they think it for a reason. I’m predicting you work in a place where people run wild and management doesn’t have good control.

  22. Lora*

    True story from Big Pharma: Used to have a SVP (from a different division of a company that took over the one I worked for) who did performance evaluations, discipline and layoffs using a hand puppet. It was in the shape of a dog or wolf type of thing.

    He eventually got the axe himself, but every time I hear people say that promotions are either seniority or meritocracy, I think of that guy. Sure, everyone makes mistakes in choosing whom to promote or hire, but for Mr Dog Puppet to get all the way to SVP, there had to be a LOT of mistakes.

    1. fposte*

      It’d be tempting to come in with your own hand puppet in response. “Sorry, Sockie handles all my employment reviews.”

  23. Michael Hoffman*

    #2: Your employer might be having some cash flow issues. I’d start looking for a new one.

  24. Anon*

    I would just pick the check up the next working day (unless you absolutely need it for expenses in the meantime), you can’t cash it that night anyway. If they are forcing you to pick the check up at one specific time and then make you wait around for it, there might be some issues there.

    If you feel strongly that they would appreciate the internet skills, you might consider passing along to the hiring manager/recruiter that based on your research of the company you think you know who you spoke with (I wouldn’t specifically mention who you think it is), but ask them to pass along this note because you respect the company’s policies and communication channels. There is too much risk here to contact the person directly; they might be excited to learn you are a good detective or irritated/angry you circumvented a system they put in place apparently to try to avoid the exact thing you just did.

    While legal, I would not have accepted that as a final message of firing. I would continue to show up to the workplace (or make calls) until I was told by a superior. Make sure you emphasize that the other employee did relay the message so they don’t get in trouble, but since you would have expected to be told in an official capacity from a supervisor you just wanted to make sure there were no misunderstandings. Many people may not care this much about it, I just try to force managers to not take shortcuts in this area because this is the stuff they are getting paid for.

    1. Matthew Soffen*

      Actually in this day and age, Yes. You can cash the check (Many supermarkets here in New England cash paychecks). So they can get the cash (for maybe a $ 1.00 fee ?) on that day.

      And with banks having Saturday hours too, they can cash it there as well (Or even deposit into their accounts via electronic banking – app/ATM).

      Then at least “some” portion of the check is immediately available in the checking account.

      1. RJ*

        Yes, Bank of America will credit a deposit made at their ATMs up until 8 pm on the same day.

  25. Laura B*

    #2 I wonder if they’re actually holding onto prepared checks, whether they have a really bad payroll system and are using that extra time to process them. Say, the last shift gets done at 5, clocks out, and then their checks are prepared, resulting in extra waiting time for all of you? Seems so odd to hold on to them otherwise. Still a poor system in the second instance, but perhaps not as shady? As small businesses grow, payroll systems have to grow and parts that worked fine when there were two workers/paycheck are big problems when there are more. And if left too long, it is a huge pain to change the payroll schedule once it’s going to get the paychecks staggered from the time period.

    1. Jamie*

      I’ve processed my share of payroll and I’ve never seen the shift immediately preceding payroll on that weeks check. That would be cutting it way too close and resulting in almost constant adjustments each week.

      Common is running Sun – Sat or even Wed – Tues for the work week and paying out based on the previous week.

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