can my boss lock up my cell phone, creating a website for your resume, and more

It’s seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Can my boss force me to lock up my cell phone at the start of my shift?

I am a recent high school graduate working at an ice cream shop for the summer. There has been an issue at work with one of my coworkers using a cell phone on the job, and my boss decided to make us lock up our phones at the beginning of each shift. I tried doing some research and all the websites I read seemed to agree that it was illegal for him to force us to give him something of our own possession. I told him I wasn’t going to give him my phone and I could sue him if he fired me for resisting. It worked, and I do understand that he can fire me for using my phone. I was just wondering if I was correct that it was illegal, and also why schools can confiscate phones if employers cannot.

Nope, that’s not correct. Your boss can absolutely require you not to have a cell phone on your person while you’re working, and to lock them up in a locker or some other area so you don’t have access to them while you’re on the job. Nor could you sue him if he fired you for refusing to comply. No law prohibits this.

2. Creating a website for your resume

What are your thoughts on creating a website for your resume? I think it’s tacky to send people to a website to view or download your resume, but what do you think?

Well, it doesn’t make any sense to send someone to a website to view your resume if it’s a context where you could just as easily attach it to your email (or whatever). Employers are generally annoyed to be asked to take an extra, unnecessary step in that context. Just give them the damn resume when you email. (Sorry, companies who are trying to make money by marketing this idea to people.)

But there are plenty of other contexts where it can make sense — if, for instance, people are coming to your website for other reasons and you want them to have access to your resume. So basically, it’s all about the context … but if you’re doing it as part of a job application, don’t. (Online portfolios are fine, though, and make sense in many fields.)

3. Can my employer lower my pay when transferring me to the same job at a different location?

I have recently decided to move to Nashville with my girlfriend, where rent is cheaper and to live in a more urban atmosphere. While looking for job transfers within my company, I have been told by a few coworkers that since I live in Connecticut where the cost of living is very high, if I transfer into the same position at the same company but in a different location (like Tennessee in this case, where the cost of living and minimum wage are lower), my pay could be lowered.

I am being told by my friends outside of work that it is illegal to lower pay when making a lateral move within the same company, but everyone at work seems to believe that since the store in Tennessee is in a different market with a different pay grade, the new store will hire me on as the same position but for less. Could this be true? Is there a law prohibiting this? Should I contact my HR manager? What gives?

Your friends should stop giving out job advice, because they’re wrong. There’s no law that prevents your employer from lowering your pay when transferring you. Hell, if they wanted to, they could lower your pay because they moved you to a new cubicle, let alone a new state. (If you want to have some fun with your friends, ask them to show you the law they’re talking about. It doesn’t exist.)

4. Filling out two separate time cards to avoid overtime

I have a non-exempt coworker who works 40 hours a week. Recently we lost a person who works the mornings, so this coworker has been coming in to help with the morning shift 3 days a week — an extra 3 hours each day. He goes on to work his regular 8-hour shift each of those 3 days. He clocks in on a second time card for those morning shifts, and when I asked him about it, he said he was told to by the owner so he didn’t have to be paid overtime. His morning shifts are in a separate category on his paycheck information sheet, so it doesn’t get rolled in with his usual 40 hours. This is in California – is this legal to do? I feel he deserves fair compensation for all the extra work he is doing, but maybe there is a small business loophole I’m unaware of?

This is a small business with an owner, no managers, and 7 employees. We all share all of the work, and have in the past been asked to help with the “morning” shift and were compensated fairly for it. My coworker will be doing this for long-term so the owner can avoid having to train a new person, but is also avoiding having to pay my coworker OT. I’m looking not only for the legal aspect of this, but how to address it if it IS illegal.

Nope, that’s not legal. You can’t get out of paying someone overtime just by having them use two different timecards. If they’re non-exempt and they’re working more than 40 hours a week, they must be paid overtime (time and a half) for everything over 40 hours. And that’s true nationwide, not just in California.

Here’s some advice on how to address it.

5. How to resign when you rarely see your manager

I’m currently working from home, and most contact with my manager is over Skype in a weekly team meeting. We do meet up for team meetings in person, but this is usually only once a month.

I’ve now been given a start date for a graduate scheme which starts in September, and I will have to give four weeks notice of my resignation. What is the best way to approach my manager, given that I’ve never had reason to arrange a meeting with him before?

(To further complicate matters, I’ve only been in this job since February, but the application process for the graduate scheme took so long that I chose to accept this current job in case I either didn’t get on the scheme, or decided I’d rather not work for a big company after getting to know them. I really love this job, but it lacks any of the training prospects of the grad scheme.)

It’s fine to do it over the phone. Just call him. If you need to set up a time for that call in advance and it seems odd because you don’t normally do that, well, so be it — a little weirdness won’t kill him (or you). Just say, “I need to speak with you for 10 minutes this week. When is a good time to call?” And even if it feels weird, he’ll understand afterwards why you needed to schedule the call.

I’d be prepared for him to be a bit frustrated, though, that you’re leaving after only seven months, which in many jobs is the point where you’re just exiting the training mode and the company’s investment in you is just starting to pay off.

6. Do I have to list my current job on my resume?

Do I have to list my current job on my resume? A company is interested in me based on my position prior to my current. My current position has nothing to do with the job I am interviewing for. The company that is interested in me has a copy of my older resume prior to my current position.

You don’t have to, but it usually makes sense to do so. Interviewers are likely to ask what you’ve been doing since leaving your last job, and if you’ve been in the new position for longer than a couple of months, it can seem odd that it’s not on your resume — particularly if there’s any chance that you’ll refer to that work in the course of the interview.

The exception to this is if you’re working in a wildly-outside-your-field, just-for-the-paycheck job while searching for something else. (For instance, it could make sense not to list your current part-time stint at a coffee shop if you normally work in health care.)

7. Looking for a new job after managers reneged on a work-from-home agreement

After working with my present employer for a few years and being generally close to the company campus, my spouse completed law school and found a great position at a firm that is a substantial, yet drivable distance away. As my spouse started the job search, I made sure my management team was aware of the possibility for a move and asked about the potential of going remote on a full-time basis, as that is fairly common in our organization. They were receptive to this and approved the request when my spouse had an offer letter in hand. As I have never had a substantial problem with the organization to this point, I believed they were operating in good faith so I did not get the agreement in writing. Now that I have made the move to be near my spouse’s work, my management team has reneged on their offer and are requiring me to come into the office with only limited remote opportunities.

Given this betrayal of trust, I am going to start searching for a new job. I generally like the organization I am with, but I am hesitant to apply to internal positions because I am required by company policy to inform my management team of any internal applications I make. I fear that alerting them to an internal job search will create hostility and pressure from them and I do not want to be forced out before I am certain I have a new job lined up. The question is this. Should I bother with internal positions at all given this context, and if so, how do I address the applications with my management team so I do not burn any bridges? Given the context, they are going to know why I am looking.

Well, you could just be straightforward and say that you’re looking because the commute is too long, as you told them it would be, and you need to move into a role where you can work remotely. But if you think that they’ll become hostile to you, then you’re better off looking for positions outside the organization (and thus not being required to give your managers a heads-up).

{ 415 comments… read them below }

  1. KarenT*

    Sounded to me like the OP wasn’t objecting to not having a cell phone while working or locking it in a locker, but rather to the boss confiscating her personal property. I don’t know the law on this, but I don’t like it. If my boss confiscated my car keys or wallet at the beginning of every day I don’t think I’d let that slide.

    1. Rana*

      Agreed. It would be one thing if the OP was required to turn the phone off or put it in a locker that the OP had the key to, but if the boss is taking the phone away and locking it up such that the OP can’t get access to it on their own, that seems really problematic to me.

      1. Sunshine DC*

        Not to mention, if its a smartphone, the employee likely has personal information, from private texts to personal photos (I don’t even mean “racy” ones, just personal and private). Plus, they have private texts from their significant other, their children, whatever. And… they may do their banking by phone and have this kind of info in emails or stored in apps.

        Having to lock it up in a locker in which you are the key/combination holder, as Rana notes, is fine, but otherwise? It sounds like an incredibly unsafe and unwise thing to do, this idea to let your boss be the one with access over your phone. That is asking for trouble!!

        While some people who drive to work can leave their phone in a car, anyone who comes from a big city or otherwise with great public transportation has no option to leave their phone elsewhere. And certainly cannot leave it at home, either, as they may have responsibilities to attend to, children to touch base with, etc., after work.

        1. jesicka309*

          That is basic phone security, and what most people should do with their phones at work.
          1. Put a code on your phone
          2. TURN IT OFF

          Now no one can access your super secret details. I’d be livid if my boss didn’t provide a safe place to put my phone whilst on shift, which is sounds like the boss is trying to do.
          I think the OP is just mad they can’t play with their phone while working their boring summer job and is looking for a loophole, tbh.

          1. Cat*

            What? She didn’t say that at all. In fact she specifically said she knew she couldn’t use it and would be fired for doing so. What basis do you have to assume she’s straight out lying?

          2. Tina Career Counselor*

            Thank you for the reminder about codes! Honestly it never occurred to me, until my husband pointed it out last week when helping me with my new phone.

            1. Chinook*

              If your smartphone doesn’t have a lock option, you need to download an app for that. My guess, though, is that if it is truly a smartphone and not just a phone with texting ability, there is a feature to password protect it but that it is hidden somewhere. iPhones, Blackberries and Google Android phones should all have this ability.

              1. Jamie*

                This – I’ve never seen a smart phone without this built in.

                I forget that some people don’t use codes, because I force code use for any phone getting company email so it’s been ages since I’ve seen a cell unlocked.

                1. Ellie H.*

                  This finally inspired me to set a password for my phone . . . which my company does require, and I just hadn’t done yet.

              2. Jessa*

                Even my old non smart phones had lock functions. With all the security stuff nowadays, if you don’t have one, I’d make sure on your next available upgrade you get one. Seriously.

                Also I agree that it’s perfectly normal to make one lock UP one’s property but to just hand it over to someone else’s control, no, sorry. Not going to happen. Especially if it cannot be locked. You want me to keep my property off the work floor you give me a locker and let me put my own lock on it. That’s more than reasonable.

                1. Bea W*

                  I ‘m a bit perplexed by the expression of fears around snooping through racy txts and personal info when securing one’s phone with a passcode has been possible since before iPhone was a just a glint in Steve Jobs’ eye. Some providers have a service at no extra cost that allows the phone to be disabled/locked remotely in case of theft or loss.

                  Anyone who does not know how to use or where to find this feature on their phone, please look it up or call customer support. It’s easy and can save a lot of worry if you either have to leave your phone somewhere not on your person or just lose it.

              3. TL*

                Eh, I don’t really care if my phone locks or not. But no, it’s not an Android, iPhone, Blackberry, or Windows phone.

                It has apps, an internet browser, and the ability to run multiple programs at once (plus a touchscreen); I’m pretty sure (but not entirely confident) that it meets all definitions of a smartphone.

            2. Matthew Soffen*

              Which phone is it ? I’m pretty sure that it does. It’s a built in feature of Android (and iOS too).

              1. Anonymous*

                It’s an HP phone, with an HP operating system. I’ve yet to discover a lock option on it.

                I’m not particularly worried about it, though.

                1. TL*

                  I just went through my phone and found it – so it does. I’ve just never found it before. O.o

        2. Lily Connolly*

          I tell you, if someone locked my phone away for 8 hours and I got a call that someone close to me had been in an accident and god forbid they passed away before I could get to the hospital….I’d want to kill that manager!!! People should act like adults and be treated like adults, and if you’re on your phone at work you should get canned. But for emergency purposes, everyone should have access to their phone on vibrate of course at that ice cream shop, at all times

          1. Stevie*

            I actually did have a family member get rushed to the hospital while I was at work…in an office job with my phone in my purse right next to me. My parents called the office’s landline because they wanted confirmation they could get through to me *right now.* And if I was away from my desk (and phone) someone else could answer and get me.
            What if the cell’s battery was dead? Or the signals happened to be locked up that day? Why is everyone so opposed to just giving emergency contacts the landline of where they work?

            1. Anonymous*

              Totally agree! Have an employee in a hair salon who is always playing with the phone. I hear great uncle just died (even though earlier in the day it was expected). So if you find out in 3 hours is he any less dead?. Also the kids teacher calls for classroom nonsense. I requested the landline be given for emergency three times! Last confrontation I got 2 week notice;)

          2. Shannon*

            But how do you tell when your phone’s vibrating away in your pocket that it’s an emergency call or just someone calling to chat – without checking it?

            This is what I don’t understand about all the posts asking about emergencies. The OP is not supposed to use her phone when working, which is very common in numerous jobs. Whether or not the phone is in her pocket, in an employee locker or in the manager’s office, she’s not going to receive that emergency call anyway until her break or at the end of the shift.

            1. TheSnarkyB*

              This isn’t necessarily true. On my phone, for instance, I can set it up that I only get calls from the people in my favorites (who have my work schedule and know not to call during work), or if the same person calls twice in a row. In my mind, this covers enough emergency situations that I’m comfortable with keeping my phone in my pocket and at least glancing at it, should I get the sense that I’m being called about an emergency. There are options for this and settings, apps, functions, etc to get around the issue.

          3. AG*

            I’m assuming the ice cream shop has a land line, right? You can always give family and close friends the store # and tell them it’s for emergencies only.

            1. Crystal*

              I totally disagree with the landline comment. If I gave out my work# to my family, and they call, the managers would say “dont tou have a cell pjone… why are they calling you at work”.. soo its an arbitrary rule, subjectively enforced to suit the needs of the dick head incharge.
              I was just told today, I have to lock up my phone in my car.. I said I dont have a car.. he said, then in my office. First thing i thought was, I bought this phone for personal reasons, and because of someone else being on their phone I cant have mine? ??
              And just so you know, from recent experience. .. its the worst feeling going to a break, lookinh at you messages and its blown up, “your daughters in the er” “why arent you answering.. shes bleeding” “we called your work phone.. and they said personal calls were for your cell phones”.. . . Soo, someone tell me why this “banning” of cell phones at work is right.. my child was bleeding and hurt and I wasn’t even given the opportunity to know.
              The hell with this job. My priority is to my family, not this job.

          4. Lindsay J*

            Most places I have worked that have no cell phone policies (and college classes and such) have added provisions that if you have special circumstances – a grandparent in the hospital, a pregnant wife, whatever – that you can carry your phone with you, keep it on vibrate, and discretely step out if you get a call and need to answer it.

            If you have no reason to expect an emergency situation occurring, then, well, you deal with it the way that you would have dealt with it before cell phones were prevalent. You give your immediate family your work number and tell them it is to be used for emergencies only. Having access to your cell phone 24 hours a day is not a right, or a necessity.

            1. Nina*

              The government has acknowledged that cell phones are not luxuries, but a necessity. Look it up.

        3. Nina*

          Actually, an employer may not deny you the eight to a cell phone despite policy and may only restrict its use to those uses that do not interfere with your job. If that is the contact number for your children to call you, for child care, etc., they may not deny you a cell phone. If you use it to protect your rights as an employee, or to document unsafe conditions, including harassment, that is a legal use proceeded you also follow the law as it regards privacy and the rights of others. Proprietary information is not held to be more important than protecting your rights.

      2. Anonymous*

        I’m missing something, but the OP just says his boss wants employees to lock up their phones at the beginning of their shifts. It doesn’t sound like the boss is physically removing someone else’s personal items and holding them.

        It did sound to me like the OP objected to the request to lock up his phone and not have it on his person while working, otherwise why the rather aggressive response about being able to sue his employer. I wasn’t in the room, but that seems a bit over the top. He could, if he wanted to, leave his phone at home or something else he would feel it was safe. Contrary to popular belief over the last 10 years, it is not necessary to have a personal phone on oneself at all times. The OPs question came across to me as at best just naive, and at worst a bit whiny. It’s an ice cream shop. Presumably there is a phone available in case something urgent came up or there was an emergency.

      3. kristie*

        I am a criminal justice student ,I would consider it to be illegal and would still call it report it as theft if its my property and is worth over $700 dollar and gets ever a scratch I would be right on the company to by me a new phone what gives anyone the right to take anyone property?

    2. jesicka309*

      It could be a security thing though – there could be all kinds of drama if their bags etc. were unattended during the shift, and something was stolen. This happens all the time in fast food outlets where you have workers coming and going through the locker room all day.
      To be honest, I don’t know why the OP is complaining. The boss (rightly) doesn’t want them to use their phones on shift, and is offering a secure place for them to leave their valuables. What is OP’s other options? Leave their phone in their bags? I mean, why is the OP so sensitive about putting their phone away? In my experience, the only people who protest these sorts of rulings are the ones doing the wrong thing anyway.

      1. Rana*

        As I said, for me it’s a question of whether the OP retains control of access to the device or not. If it’s my locker, to which I have the key or the combo, I would have no problem with it. If it’s the boss’s locker or office, and I can’t get to the phone unless they let me in, I would be concerned.

        Unfortunately, it is not clear from the OP’s question which situation applies.

        1. jesicka309*

          It sounds like it’s a pretty small business (an icecream store). The only secure place in the whole shop might be the owner’s office – there might not even be an employees area to put lockers in. And it’s a casual summer job – there could be anywhere from 5-10 people working all day. The owner’s office usually has extra security such as video cameras, because it’s also where the money is kept when the store is closed.
          It would seem ridiculous to have lockers with keys for such a small amount of staff, when there is a perfectly secure office. I’ve worked in businesses where this has operated perfectly 100% of the time. No one enters the office without supervision from boss, so there’s no chance of any stealing going on.
          I’d be more concerned with your example Rana. People coming and going through a secure area without supervision completely negates the ‘secure’ part of it.

          1. Anonymous*

            There’s always the chance the boss isn’t trustworthy himself, though. Or he could lose track of who owns what and hand it over to another employee by accident.

            I live in a city where you’re lucky if your car is there at the end of work, much less the contents, so leaving it in the car would suck as well.

            1. Jessa*

              Exactly. There are small drawer units that can be had. On the other hand I have friends who have medical reminder alarms on their phones, and other things like that. The truth is, if someone is abusing the phone policy, then deal with them. THEM not everyone else.

              I just do not like the idea of having to go to someone else for access to my property. If they are not there at a given moment when I do have a need for it? Just no. Either give me control of it. Or trust me, and if I abuse your trust we revisit the thing, but it’s not my fault if Sam over there is texting at work. I am not SAM.

              1. Lindsay J*

                But why would you have need for it at any given moment over the course of the work day? The point of having the phone locked away is because you shouldn’t be looking at it. Not texting, not turning off alarms, not looking to see what time it is. You don’t need it for those 8 hours, which would seem to me to negate the issue of not being able to get it from the boss at the exact moment that you want it.

                You hand it in at the beginning of the shift, and get it back at the end of the shift, and if you have to wait an extra minute for your boss to give it back a the end of the shift that doesn’t really seem to be a big deal, either.

                I just don’t see how there isn’t a contradiction between “I don’t want to use it during my shift,” and “I’m worried I won’t be able to access it at the exact moment I need it.”

            2. Katie the Fed*

              Then the OP should quit if she finds the rules so burdensome. If having access to her phone at all times is that important, she should find a job where that’s allowed.

            3. Kat A*

              Leaving a cell phone in the car is not a viable option when it’s warm outside. I’ve had a phone get too hot on a summer day just by leaving it on a picnic table for a while. If I have it on my car’s dashboard in the sunlight — even with the AC on while I’m driving — it gives me a warning that it’s getting too hot. My neighbor’s phone also died from excess heat.

            4. Bea W*

              In the case of an untrustworthy boss, the best thing would probably be to leave the phone at home while one worked and then looking for another job.

        2. Allison*

          That’s where my discomfort comes from, if I had to give my phone to my boss and pick it up at the end of the day, I’d be worried about not being able to get it back. What if my boss has to leave early? What if he’s busy and I have to wait 15-30 extra minutes for him to get it out for me?

          Not to mention having to turn in your phone would feel a little insulting, especially if only one person had been using their phone at work.

          I remember working for a movie theater, and basically just kept my phone on me at work. Turned off of course, but I just felt safer having it in my possession.

          1. Bea W*

            It’s really not insulting. It’s not a personal affront or a commentary on your personal work ethic or trustworthiness. It’s a blanket policy that all employees have to comply with. There’s nothing personal about it. It is no different than any other workplace policy governing dress or other behavior.

            Sometimes a policy is the result of one person’s or a few people’s behavior. That’s still not a personal commentary on everyone else. It’s a business decision.

      2. Melissa*

        I feel like people are only saying this because she’s a teen and it’s not their job. Would you want your boss to confiscate your phone during the day? I sure wouldn’t. It wouldn’t matter if he was putting it in a locked locker, if only he had access to it, I wouldn’t want that.

        1. doreen*

          No, I sure didn’t want to. But I’ve had to turn it over to someone at times when I took public transportation to work and didn’t have a car to leave it in. To be honest, I’d rather have turned it over to my boss than whoever happened to be working at the front gate that day.

          Which reminds me that there are plenty of non-crappy jobs where people are not allowed to keep cell phones (for starters, jails and prisons) where they can easily access them. Uniformed staff usually have lockers, but civilians usually don’t. Those people somehow manage to take their medication at the correct times, have their doctor’s phone number with them when they need to make appointments , and be reachable in case of emergency. It’s absolutely easier to use the cell phone, but that’s not the same as necessary

          1. TL*

            Hey, it’s not a phone number thing on the doctor front – I share an office with two other people and generally I don’t want to discuss medical things where they can here me. Or say my social security number in front of a crowd. Or if I’m getting test results back, I’d rather do it with a modicum of privacy, which my cell phone allows me.

          2. Lindsay J*

            Yes. I’ve worked in secure building environments where cell phones were not allowed. It’s not the most fun thing in the world, but it’s a fact of working there. And if an employee caused a stink about not having their phone on them like the OP did, I would have told them that they could either comply or find another job.

      3. QualityControlFreak*

        I can think of a valid reason. What if you have a child in daycare, a parent or spouse who is ill, or someone who is otherwise dependent on you who may need to be able to reach you via phone? I’ve been contacted at work by my child’s school when he was ill, and by my sister to inform me that one of our parents was in the hospital. I have my personal cell phone near me at work so that I don’t miss calls like this. But I don’t accept calls from unknown numbers, and I don’t call out except on breaks (which I take away from my work area) and my lunch hour.

        Not everyone is as “by the book” as I am, however, and unfortunately some managers prefer to punish everyone rather than “singling out” the guilty party and addressing the problem behavior with them.

        So, yes, I can understand the need to have one’s personal phone available at work, as well as the OP’s frustration with having this privilege taken away because someone else abused it.

        1. Lindsay J*

          But why not just give the day care or whatever the store’s number in that case? That’s how people got by before cell phones were prevalent.

          1. QualityControlFreak*

            I’m not sure how well that would work if you were in a large retail environment. If the employer doesn’t trust the staff not to steal, why would I trust them to relay an emergency message in a timely manner?

            (Note, I’ve never worked in retail, nor would I want to, judging from the comments here!)

            I have worked in a secure environment where cell phones were not allowed, however, I had a phone on my desk so I was still available by phone unless I was out in the industrial area.

            I guess the best solution is to find a work environment where the cell phone policy meshes well with your personal needs. I don’t have a smart phone, but I won’t be handing it over to my boss in any event!

    3. A Teacher*

      We were told, I’m not a lawyer and don’t claim to be, not to touch student cell phones. That means I can’t confiscate a phone–not because it is illegal to do so but because if I have someone else’s phone in my possession and then drop it, I or the school district is liable for damage to said cell phone. This is a policy that was instituted district wide as a teacher in another building took a student’s iphone 2 years ago, dropped it, and then the parent went after the district successfully to replace the phone.

      When students take exams they are required to put their phones on a front table in full view of themselves and myself for the duration of the test and then they can have it back when test is turned in. I don’t touch the phone because I don’t want to be liable if its broken.

      1. Stevie*

        Are students allowed to have cellphones at school these days? I’m only in my mid-20’s so I can’t be *that* old yet!
        We were told at the beginning of the school year every year that you couldn’t have phones at school. You could leave them turned off in your locker if you wanted a phone for driving back and forth, but they couldn’t be in the hallways or classrooms during regular school time. Then if you did bring one, the teacher had every right to confiscate it and your parents could pick it up later.

        1. KJ*

          Our school district allows the kids to have cell phones on them, BUT, they can’t be seen or heard by anyone. So turned off or volume off in a backpack is acceptable. They are taken away and put in the main office if they are seen or heard. For a first offense, the student can pick it up themselves after school. For a subsequent offenses, a parent must pick it up. Seems reasonable to me.

          1. Tina Career Counselor*

            My coworker’s high school aged daughter is allowed to use her phone even IN class. I hope not for phone calls that disrupt the class, but texting, tweeting, Facebook, etc. It completely baffles me that the school allows that.

            1. Stevie*

              I couldn’t imagine being a teacher today. You aren’t allowed to take away cellphones or other classroom distractions, but it’s still your head on the line when kids don’t make the state test grades. Then people complain when so many qualified teachers leave the profession for something else.

              1. Chinook*

                That is my one fear when i go back into a classroom – students with cellphones who could then videotape anything I am doing and post it out of context, with or without editing. Usually, in these cases, the teacher is considered guilty until proven innocent. It isn’t the recording I would fear, but the lack of context and the ability to edit something seamlessly.

          2. Mike C.*

            Yeah, I’m having a difficult time seeing cellphones as bringing on the end of the world.

        2. Melissa*

          You’re not that old, but you are just on the precipice of when cell phones became widely available. I’m 27. When I was in school, at first it was no cell phones in school. But very few kids had cellphones at the time anyway (early 2000s) so it wasn’t an issue. Then it was, you could bring a cell phone but you had to lock it in your locker. Now the kids are allowed to have them on them, but it just can’t ring and they can’t play on it during the day.

        3. Allison*

          Yeah, I remember the days where we’d get detention for having a phone in our lockers or backpacks. Then 9/11 happened and most schools realized they need to allow kids to have their phones on them (turned off) in case of an emergency.

          I think now schools have realized it’s better to be reasonable rather than strict about cell phone possession/use in classrooms.

        4. Bea W*

          Back in my day, we had this issue with portable radios and walkmans. Different gadget, same problems.

          Rules varies by school and district. In my area teachers and school staff can and will confiscate for the remainder of the day any personal property a student has or is using in violation of the policy everyone was informed of at the beginning of the year. The consequences are usually clearly laid out in the policy.

          It sounds like A Teacher’s district made a business decision (fueled by lawyers) to reduce the chances of being sued again and having to pay out money if a student claimed their phone was broken by one of their employees. I’m not sure then how the district would enforce any policy around not allowing cell phone use in school. There’s no point in having rules, and then not enforcing them with consequences. Detention maybe? I can imagine texting during class being the modern day form of note passing.

          Specifically regarding cell phones, my district allows students have phone in possession but they must keep them turned off (not on silent), and phones must not be visible during regular school hours. The first offense will result in the phone being confiscated and returned to the student at the end of the day. The second offense, the phone will be returned only to a parent/guardian and the student is not allowed to bring a phone into school at all after that.

        5. A Teacher*

          In the state of Illinois, students are allowed to have cell phones in the school. In my district they are supposed to be off and out of sight. I allow the use of phones for note taking purposes because I teach college courses and have to post notes so my kids download their notes to their phones for reference in class.

          It isn’t illegal to confiscate the phone but its kind of a break it you pay for it and I’m not paying 400 for someone’s phone.

      2. Felicia*

        In highschool teachers confiscated peoples’ cell phones all the time (and I only graduated 5 years ago). You were technically allowed to have it, but if a teacher saw you with it, they’d confiscate it for 2 school days. (over the weekend if it was friday). Of course highschool is different from work, and I’d be ok with it if it was put somewhere I had the combination to, like my own locker. Even in highschool, teachers didn’t pre-emptively punish you if they didn’t see the phone.

        1. Chinook*

          School is different than work in one important legal context – teachers are in parental locis (I think that is the latin spelling and that is my first use of fancy html thingies). It means they have the same rights and responsibilites as parents for any student under the age of 18.

          For example, when my school burned down, I had to tell a mother whom I had never met before that I could not release her children to her until I was given permission to by the principal because it was during school hours, we were in the middle of an emergency and I didn’t have knowledge that she was the legal guardian (and stretech marks don’t constitute proof). Luckily, when I talked with her after the incident, she understood.

          1. Anonymous*

            Did she seriously ask if you wanted to see her stretch marks as proof? I’ve dealt with some crazy parents, but…nope, I believe it could happen. Never mind.

            1. Chinook*

              It was a crazy day – 10 days after 9/11 and you could see the smoke from the fire all over town. And, beign a small town, most people knew everyone but I was new and I didn’t know her and I knew that emergencies are the best time for non-custodial parents to cause issues. I can’t remember what she said as proof that she was their mother, but I do remember telling her that I didn’t care as I was still legally responsible for them until I was told otherwise. I think it was using the word “legally” that snapped her out of it because she turned out to be a very rationale parent afterwards.

                1. Jamie*

                  I would too – I LOVED when I was asked to prove identity. It made me feel the kids were in cautious hands.

      3. Marmite*

        I’m not in the US, so our laws may be different, but I have a similar rule at work. I work with groups of teenagers on residential programs. For some aspects of the programs we run it’s a genuine danger for them to be playing with phones while participating so we’re pretty strict on our phone policy.

        However, I personally cannot confiscate a child’s phone. I can bar them from taking part in whatever part of the program we’re doing, but I can’t take the phone away from them because my employer doesn’t have insurance to cover damage that could occur to the phone while in my care. Often, though, we have school groups come on our programs and a handful of a school’s own teachers attend too, and they often can confiscate phones because their employer is covered for it.

        1. fposte*

          And you’re noting an important difference. You legally can, I suspect, take away the phone, same as the teachers can, but your employer incurs a risk that they find unacceptable if you do so so they have a policy that you don’t confiscate. So the issue is that if you got sued over phone damage there’d be no insurance, but there’s no legal right to keep the phone.

          1. Marmite*

            Yes, and we have a clear electronics policy that all the children (and their parents, if they’re under 16) sign before they take part in our program. We also encourage parents to send their kids with cheap pre-pay phones (you can pick one up for £10 here with calling credit included) rather than £500 iPhones. Of course, we still get at least one broken or lost expensive smartphone on most programs, but my company feel they’ve done their best to prevent that so they’ve covered themselves from being sued.

      4. Nichole*

        My understanding is that schools have the right to confiscate phones when employers don’t because it falls under in loco parentis-just like my kids’ school can rush them to the emergency room and make decisions for them if they can’t contact me, they can confiscate their property. As a teacher, do you know if that’s correct? It may be outdated now, but that’s what they said when I was in high school. Of course, they told us lots of things that weren’t exactly true at my high school…

        1. A Teacher*

          Again, YES legally I can confiscate it. My district doesn’t allow it because of the insurance thing noted above–if its damaged and you have it you get to pay for it. I can’t afford to take the chance of dropping someone’s cell phone and having to pay for the damage.

      5. Elizabeth West*

        In my last college, we had an instructor who locked the door during class. If you were late, too bad. You could not get in from the outside. (It was a thumb lock so if you had to get out in a hurry, you could.) If someone’s phone rang during class, he would take it from you, answer it, and tell the person calling “He/she will call you back,” and then keep it at his desk until class was over.

        It sounds horribly draconian, but he was one of my favorite teachers. He said he wanted us to get what we were paying for, i.e. the class information. (He also did magic tricks in class and was very funny–the class I took from him was Human Sexuality, and it was a very popular class.)

        1. tcookson*

          HA! That’s how my favorite French teacher was (I took French classes at the university where I work)! Once class had started, the door was locked. The first week or so of classes, she would let us open the door for the latecomer, but after that, they were out of luck.

    4. Chris80*

      I agree with this – illegal or not, I don’t like it. When I worked in retail, managers used to search our purses/bags at the end of every shift. I didn’t even like that, much less a manager confiscating my personal property for my entire shift. It’s different if you have a locker with a lock for your belongings. I’d definitely put a password on my phone and at least keep it protected that way.

      1. the gold digger*

        I knew someone who worked at Victoria’s Secret who was stealing from the store, smuggling stuff out of her purse. So yeah – I can see why they would want to search your bags.

        1. Natalie*

          Eh, it seems like there are probably easier, more effective ways to deal with employee theft that searching your employee’s bags. I agree with Chris80 – it feel excessively invasive to me.

          1. Marmite*

            It may be invasive, but I think it’s incredibly common practice in retail jobs. I and a lot of my friends have worked in retail over the years (UK and USA) and this was just expected.

            One UK store I worked at did spot checks on the shop floor during the day too – making employees take their shoes off, empty their pockets, and wiggle their waistband so anything stashed there would fall out. They were looking for theft of money from tills more than stock, but used the same opportunity to check you didn’t have personal property (like phones) on the shop floor with you.

            1. Mike C.*

              I can name a whole bunch of practices that are or used to be “standard practice” that are terrible and shouldn’t be or are no longer tolerated.

              Just because a whole lot of people do something does not, in and of itself, make the practice morally, ethically and/or legally acceptable.

              1. Marmite*

                I agree, but if it’s legal and standard practice for your industry you may need to accept it as a condition of working in that industry.

                1. Mike C.*

                  If that’s the case, no legal but harmful or unethical practices would ever change. We’d still be firing young women for fear of pregnancy or endure grossly unsafe conditions.

                  Change happens because people stand together and don’t accept what they see as the norm as acceptable.

                2. Jamie*

                  There is a business reason not to allow people on their phones either talking or texting while working a shift. People like me walk out and never come back.

                  It could be someone who was there for half a day and then quit, but I’ll remember that place as the one with the cashier/server who expected me to wait while they finished their conversation or text. It happens. And absolutely business is lost over this.

                  So while I think the behavior should be dealt with and not the phone itself, comparing a cell free serving environment with unsafe labor conditions or protected discrimination is disingenuous.

                3. Mike C.*

                  Yes, I get that, and yes I’m speaking generally.

                  What’s irritating the heck out of me is that all employee were able to follow these rules without having to give up their phone like children to a teacher except for one. Rather than the manager punishing the one employee who couldn’t keep it together, the manager instead decided to punish everyone else.

                4. KellyK*

                  I think the big distinction between whether it’s a totally valid business decision or unethical confiscation of personal property is in how it’s handled. There’s a huge difference between “You may not bring a cell phone onto the floor while you’re working; here’s a locker if you don’t want to/can’t leave it at home,” and “You must hand your cell phone directly to your boss at the beginning of each day. If you leave it home, you’ll have to empty your purse and pockets to prove it. Your boss will toss them all in a desk drawer, and you won’t have access to it during breaks.”

            2. Bea W*

              There is unfortunately a good reason for this. Both inventory loss and theft from the cash drawer are huge problems for retail business, and these are usually low paying jobs that don’t require a lot of experience, work history, or extensive background checks.

              It is invasive, but I don’t blame companies who end up resorting to this. I blame all of the former employees who thought it was okay to steal and did so. If it hadn’t become such a problem in the first place, there would be no need to have instituted a policy to prevent it. It didn’t occur in a vacuum.

          2. Marie*

            It’s pretty standard in retail.

            Most of the time you just have to open the bag and they barely look inside. I don’t think it’s very effective because you could still take things with you if you really wanted to.

            I’ve never seen anyone cought that way

            1. Jessa*

              I always thought that retail still had the transparent purse rule. All the people I ever worked in retail around had those clear purses or totes so they could SEE if you took anything.

              1. RLS*

                My workplace has a “clear bag requirement.” My bag is a weird mesh material. They used to give me crap about it until I reminded them that they could still see through it.

      2. BCW*

        When I worked retail back in the day, all of the women (and I guess guys if they were so inclined) had to carry a clear handbag which the store provided. So they didn’t have to search anyone’s things, but they could see exactly what was in there. They were fairly small, but realistically big enough where whatever you may need to have immediate access to could fit. There were also lockers (it was a big store) if you had to bring a backpack or something. Seemed to work.

      3. Katie the Fed*

        The OP has options: 1) don’t bring your phone with you to work at all or 2) lock it up. Bottom line – she may not have it on her at work. The manager can absolutely make that requirement. I would love for the manager to call her bluff and fire her because she refuses to abide by the rules.

        1. Melissa*

          Again, I feel like people are only comfortable saying this because it’s not their job requiring them to ditch their smartphones. I wouldn’t want to be without my phone the entire work day, and it has nothing to do with Facebook and Twitter. I have family and if something happens to one of them, I want to be able to be reached immediately. Not to mention if an emergency occurs on the job I want access to my phone to call appropriate services.

          1. Chinook*

            I have had jobs where I am required to lock up my phone while, at the same time, had family that could have real emergencies that I needed contacting about, but I dealt with it. When I was waiting to see if my grandmother was going to make it through surgery and arranging a flight home at the same time, the boss was understanding and let me keep my phone out. But, for other times, my family understands that you leave messages and I will get back to them. DH is a cop and that emergency could easily be life or death and come out of nowhere, but that still doesn’t change anything (except that I will have a panic attack if I see an police officer coming towards me and not smiling). My having a phone will not change what happens to him or others but it will affect whether or not I keep my job.

            1. Lindsay J*

              Exactly. I’ve had jobs where we couldn’t have cell phones because it was a secure building environment.

              However, in most places managers were understanding if you had an eminent need for the phone (grandparent in the hospital, pregnant wife, etc).

              We also had land lines (as do probably 99% of businesses). You gave your immediate family or whoever the number for the company, and if there was an emergency they called the land line and you could be notified that way.

          2. Loose Seal*

            I feel like the oldest of fogies when I ask this: How would your family have gotten in touch with you during emergencies 15 years ago before cell phones were ubiquitous? How would you have called 911 during a business emergency? All those ways you could have contacted people before you had a cell phone still exist today. Certainly, it’s convenient to have a cell phone but not necessary.

            1. Judy*

              Except for the payphone. Besides airports, have you seen any payphones recently?

              I got my first cell phone in the late 90s after I had car trouble, and had to flag someone down to call for help. Even though I was able to coast to a (closed for the night) gas station, with a phone booth visible. And a sign saying that the phone had been removed due to lack of use.

              1. Judy*

                And I should say, I was in my high school recently for a tour as part of my 25th reunion weekend. We were laughing about the two banks of payphones that were missing now. There used to be 4 in the front hall and 4 in the hall by the gym. So when my kids get to be that age, they’ll probably need a cell phone, because they can’t use the office phone to call for a pickup after afterschool meetings or sports.

            2. Jamie*

              As someone else mentioned, it’s the change in expectations.

              There are no more payphones most places. And 15 years ago if I were stranded on the side of the road someone would likely have offered assistance because I was not near a phone. Now people assume either the stranded motorist has a phone or one of the other billion people who do already called.

              And when it comes to accidents and injuries I’m sure more people used to die waiting for someone to find a phone than when medical help can be summoned immediately.

              Sure – if I am in an accident and bang my head I can stagger bleeding to try to find a business to let me use their phone, or hope someone stops to help me…but I’d rather call 911 and wait for them to find me. Kind of like my great grandma used to drink unpasteurized milk but I wouldn’t do that now. If technology can make you safer it’s not apples to apples comparing it to the past.

              1. Natalie*

                Another potential wrinkle with payphones – a lot of them are shut off (except for 911) after 11:00 pm. My understanding is that this was originally to discourage drug dealing/prostitution/etc, which I find amusing as drug dealers seemed to be some of the first people to get cell phones.

                I don’t know if this is still the case, but in my city it was at least as recently as 2006, well after cell phones had gotten popular.

            3. Jessa*

              Not really, payphones are all but gone. Most places will NOT let you use their landlines for calls anymore as they expect you to be carrying your own phone. So the ways we used to deal with emergencies are no longer true. Even at work, you have to call to some main line and hope that they can get through to the person you want to talk to. A lot of people don;t have their own desk lines any more particularly if they work in a call centre. They DO have their own cell phones. IN an emergency many companies will let you leave yours in vibrate mode (IE if you have an ill or dying relative or something and know you are awaiting a call they will let you have the phone up in case you get one.)

              But no it’s not as easy to get someone the way we USED to get them anymore.

            4. Editor*

              Some parents are adamant about having their children have their cell phones with them all the time. The ones I’ve heard say that if their child isn’t within reach of a landline, the parent still wants a call from the child if there is a Columbine-style attack at school or someone causing a disturbance or shooting at a workplace. Parents are not nearly as risk-tolerant as they were a couple of generations ago.

              If the teen writing in about the cell phone grew up with such parents, then their attitude is understandable even if it may seem illogical, because the teen has been trained to hold on to the phone.

              In addition, a lot of schools don’t have many landlines. I know of at least one district where there were no phones in any district classrooms, not even intercoms, and this was within the last five years. This contributed to the fears of parents that their children wouldn’t be able to call home in case of a crisis, and one of the parents who insisted their children must always carry a cell phone wanted the kids to have it so the parents could hear their children’s last words, and the parents became distraught explaining this reason to the school board. Whereas the superintendent was convinced intercoms and phones in the classroom would just result in teachers who were on the phone all the time instead of teaching. It was pretty amazing the way everyone was convinced the worst-case scenario would happen.

          3. Katie the Fed*

            My job DOES require me to lock up my phone, actually. Bottom line: jobs have requirements you may not like. Either accept them or find new employment.

          4. Hooptie*

            I hear you Melissa, but before cell phones existed if someone needed to call me at work for something urgent they would call the workplace’s main number and ask for me.

            Maybe I’m just getting too old.

          5. Bea W*

            There are no phones at all in your workplace where you might be reached in an emergency? I’m willing to bet the ice cream shop has at least one phone somewhere that could be used to call 911 or allow someone to get in touch with an employee in case of an emergency. Using the store phone would connect the employee directly to the local 911 dispatcher (rather then the state police) and probably also give them the physical address of the location right away (assuming e911 service is available).

            It’s handy to have a cell if you are out or have a job that is without easy access to a regular phone, but there’s not much advantage when there is already a phone available and nearby.

            Personally, my comfort level has nothing to do with the fact that my employer allows me to carry a cell phone on the job. My comfort level has to do with knowing the OP works in store which likely has a phone available and within reach for use in case of emergency occurring during working hours. Employees can give family members the work number to use for real emergencies. That is what people did before the invention of cell phones, and smart people will continue to do it now. If there’s an emergency and you’re not supposed to be to checking your phone at work or while serving customers, the quickest way to get to you is directly calling your place of business where someone will answer the call and can come fetch you, not your cell where that call might go unanswered or unseen until break time.

            1. TheSnarkyB*

              I hope no one else has said this below, but this person’s workplace may not have a landline. The sad thing here is that summer/casual job is one of the most likely to not have a landline and is also likely to have young/teenage employees who don’t always know when the manager is doing something wrong, and who are also somewhat vulnerable to attacks/etc. For instance, I started working at my first job when I was 15- it was a concession stand at a (outdoor) concert venue that I sometimes left as late as 1 am. No, I will not leave my cellphone with my boss that I can’t completely trust and who is volatile and will be tipsy by the end of the night. No I will not leave it at home and get home by myself at 1 am without being on the phone with my mom absolutely the whole time. Also, no I will not be using it while working. With the expectation of cell phones, it’s pretty important to remember that a lot of jobs (mainly outdoor ones) have absolutely no other emergency landline option.

      4. Kelly*

        A lot of policies in retail, especially those related to internal shortage, are invasive to employees. I worked retail in a department store for over two years. I knew and recognized repeat shoplifters but couldn’t do anything about it because it was not “good customer service” to confront someone who had a pattern of shoplifting. We were told to approach them in a very passive aggressive manner and ask them if they have anything that they’d like held at the register for them. Most people can guess how well that approach went over. We couldn’t touch their bags, even if you could see the bulge of a box of coffee, candle or clothing. During my first year, the location I worked at was number one in our region for shortage and most of that was due to a ring of shoplifters, not internal shortage.

        Meanwhile, management had no problem going through our purses and bags after two co-workers were caught stealing cosmetics. One got fired and had criminal charges filed against her and the other just quit showing up.

        As far as the cell phone issue, I can see why some people need to have it on their person if they are an emergency contact for a family member. I can also see why especially if you park in a large lot, you don’t want to leave it in your car.

        1. Anonymous*

          I worked at a large cosmetics store that had the bag search policy and I hated how they had it set up. In order to leave the store your bag must be searched by a manager in view of cameras (at the front door). The time clock was in the back of the store. This meant that once you clocked out for lunch (in the back), you had to walk to the front and wait for a manager to check your bags before you could leave. If a manager was occupied (which they usually were) you could end up waiting 5-10 minutes for a bag check. That is time off your lunch break that you don’t get back! I don’t miss retail one bit!

      5. Melissa*

        I hated that, when I used to work retail. Retail jobs are usually shitty but they used to search my bag at the end of every shift and I always felt so violated. It just sends the message – yeah, we’ll hire you to shill our clothes but we don’t trust you not to steal from us.

      6. Allison*

        oh man, I remember we had to do that at Borders. I didn’t mind being searched, but the process was annoying.

        1. Natalie*

          I would be very curious to see, if anyone’s actually done the research, where exactly that internal shrinkage comes from. I would guess that most of it comes from employees running scams to steal larger volumes of merchandise, rather than people stuffing makeup or whatever in their purses.

          1. fposte*

            That’s an interesting notion–is it one of those 80% of the loss is caused by 20% of the employees things? I don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

        2. kelly*

          I would suspect that most internal shortage in retail occurs between the time a product arrives at a warehouse/distribution center and the time it gets to the sales floor. I know the store I worked for would get a shipping manifest and most of the times it didn’t accurately reflect what actually got on the floor. Some of it was honest mis-ships like the designer handbags that were accidentally delivered to a smaller store intended for a larger store. They all sold within a week but my store never got them in on a regular basis. I remember unpacking a case of Keurig coffee to find one box missing out of the case, only to be told that the receiving manager had set it aside for herself in receiving. I know that if myself or another one of the on the floor associates had done that, we would have been written up. It also wasn’t unheard for management to put stuff on hold for themselves in the office. One manager tried to to that and this was after our monthly corporate loss prevention visit and I sweetly told them I’d be happy to put it on hold for them under the register where they could pay for it at their earliest convenience. They weren’t happy but the LP person was still in the store, and I wouldn’t have minded informing LP of how they felt that the rules only applied to non management personnel. It also was amusing to see them scrambling to clean out the hold rooms of stuff they had stashed away to purchase when it went clearance before a LP visit. Behavior like that is what could be perceived by the people who report to them as unethical and setting a bad example for them to follow. It also leaves it open to whether once it disappears into their office or department hold room, are they actually paying for it?

        3. Lindsay J*

          However, I’ll argue that the half-assed way most bag checks are executed make them useless or next to useless, and that companies would do better to have better camera systems (and actually monitoring them), stronger internal controls on inventory, and building a stronger culture of accountability when it comes to loss prevention would all be far better ways of dealing with internal loss.

      7. tcookson*

        My aunts who worked at a department store in our local mall were not allowed to bring a purse to work unless it was totally transparent. So they had these clear plastic purses that were their workday purses; they would have to submit them for inspection on entering and leaving the store, which the guards were able to do just by visually scanning the contents.

    5. AP*

      How about the incredibly simple and easy solution of not bringing it, period, if you know you can’t use it?

      1. Marmite*

        There are lots of reasons to have a phone with you even if you can’t use it during the day. For example, I’d bring mine to work even if I wasn’t allowed to use it during the day because I often have a late-night journey home by public transport and I want to be able to call someone if I get stuck and need a ride.

        1. KellyK*

          Absolutely. If you don’t have your cell phone with you, you’re quite possibly SOL if you need to contact someone in an emergency, or they need to contact you.

        2. Jessa*

          I know people who use their phones to give medical alarms (to take medicine, track their insulin etc.) To be reached in an emergency by their childcare, if they have kids. I used to drive a real junker of a car, I’d never get behind the wheel without a phone to call a tow truck.

          1. Bea W*

            Watch alarms are good for medical reminders. Diabetics have been checking the time and tracking insulin without smart phones for decades. Many modern glucose monitors save information that can be looked on the device itself and then transferred to another app or computer later. Apps for medication reminders and tracking medical conditions are just another tool in an arsenal of tools available to people.

            If you don’t want to leave an expensive smart phone somewhere it may get stolen, a cheap pre-paid phone is a good solution to having a phone available for that iffy commute. You don’t need anything fancy to call AAA or 911.

        3. Lindsay J*

          Yeah, I always have my phone with me because my walk to and from my parking garage at work is not the safest at night (bad area, lots of bars, etc). However, now at work it is generally tucked away in my purse, and at previous jobs we did have cubby systems where it had to be kept.

      2. AP*

        Admittedly, like a few of the people below I’m one of those people who’s a little relieved if I forget my smartphone one day and can’t check my email or instagram for a few hours. Not for everyone.

        1. Marmite*

          Not everyone has a smartphone! My work provided phone is a smartphone, but my personal phone is still a standard for calls and texts only type.

        2. Melissa*

          I have a smartphone and I don’t check my email every few hours, much less social media. It’s about about personal control and judgment.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Going online was the whole reason I bought a smartphone. Yes, I’m addicted. :}

            I do vastly prefer to surf on a computer, but there are times when it’s very nice to have the device–when I don’t have my computer in a waiting room, etc., or if I’m hanging out and I want to look up something.

      3. TL*

        People used to get by just fine without indoor plumbing, too. :)

        It is a lot more convenient and it can make a huge difference to have your cell phone easily available during the day, even if you can’t check it while working. If I didn’t have my cell phone at work, I would have a heck of a hard time making doctors’ appointments, for one.

      4. Chinook*

        With the rise of cellphones, there has been a decrease in the number of public pay phones. As a result, if you have an emergency or even just need to call for a ride, it can be quite difficult to find a phone to use.

      5. Meg*

        That’s not always an option for people. I don’t have children, but I know plenty of people that do who like having their phones nearby just in case something happens. There are also examples that other posters have noted.

        It’s not unreasonable for someone to want to have their phone with them, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to play Candy Crush the whole time. To relate it to the OP’s question, I don’t understand why they can’t just punish the person who insists on using it during their shift instead of instituting a widespread rule that is quite frankly, ridiculous.

        1. Jessa*

          Exactly that drives me crazy, and I don’t care if the employees are high school students. I hate the idea of person x does this thing so now the entire company (sometimes hundreds of people) must be punished by not being able to do y thing because person x abuses it. Instead of doing warnings and disciplinary actions with person x.

          It’s crazy, it’s insane and it just kills morale.

          1. Meg*

            Exactly. There have been posts on here regarding office-wide (or store-wide) punishments for one person, and as I recall, AAM seems to be against that type of retaliation (Alison, please correct me if I’m wrong). This seems to fall exactly into that category of punishing everyone for the misbehavior of one.

            I’d just like to reiterate that I have zero issue with banning cell phone use during a shift. None whatsoever. But preemptively locking up someone’s personal possession is just too invasive and draconian for my tastes.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            I totally agree with you and Meg. However, the lame excuse I hear is that “Well Susie said that if she had to put her cell phone away- so does everyone else. She felt it was unfair just to target her.”

            It takes strength to tell a subordinate to stop doing something. Not all managers have that level of strength.
            If the manager is pulling out his cell phone and using it that gives his words even less weight.

          3. Ask a Manager* Post author

            In retail jobs, you often find blanket rules like this because their workforce turns over frequently, and it’s often easier for them to simply make a blanket rule than to have constant violations of it as new people come in.

    6. BCW*

      Confiscating is a strong word here. I think its more like requiring it to be locked up and not on the sales floor. As long as the manager (or assistant manager) is around to let it out for people when they are on breaks, why does it matter? If you are worried about security, as someone said, lock your phone.

      I rarely beat down on the younger generation, but this entitled attitude of not only refusing, but then threatening a lawsuit, seems pretty bratty to me. Besides the point, you are a part time worker at an ice cream shop. What kind of damages would you really expect to get?

      1. Mike C.*

        I’m not sure how this individual’s mistake conveys a general sense entitlement across an entire generation. Could you explain that further?

          1. Jamie*

            This. I have heard a lot of frivolous threats in my day and I don’t recall one ever being levied by someone under 30.

            Not that it doesn’t happen – but to discount all the older people who have no idea what they are talking about is silly…there is no age limit on that.

            1. Bea W*

              Frivolous threats are levied by people of all ages. That includes under 30 and over 30.

              I’m a little disturbed by the notion in some of the comments that having a personal cell phone available 24/7 is the only way to do certain essential things or have access to certain essential things. Do people really not know that if there was an emergency at work, they could like…pick up a regular phone at work and use that to make an emergency call? Or that they could also get notified of a family emergency the same way? Or keep track of the time to know when take medication? It’s a little scary. Pay phones are scarce and now being out without a cell phone can be problematic. That’s a legit concern, but most places of business still have physical phones. They’re kind of essential to daily operations.

        1. BCW*

          Having taught teenagers up until a few years ago, I think the general “I’ll sue you because (insert anything stupid)” has been far more widespread than I have seen before. Now, maybe entitled wasn’t the right word. However I can’t imagine when I was working a part time retail job refusing to do something and threatening legal action. Now yes, I’m sure older people come up with plenty of frivolous lawsuits as well.

          1. Mike C.*

            I’m pretty sure that most patent trolls are over the age of thirty, and they cost all sorts of companies billions of dollars each year. I think that really pales in comparison to the occasional angry but ultimately ineffective outburst from those you used to work with.

            By the way, how many of those teens actually filed a lawsuit?

      2. Meg*

        Nope, I’m going to go with “confiscated”. I used to work at a restaurant (my last shift was Saturday!) that preemptively took everyone’s phones at the beginning of the shift and locked them in the office. That’s not even close to the same thing as asking them to be locked up. I know it’s trendy to mock the “kids these days”, but not wanting to give up personal possessions when you didn’t do anything wrong isn’t being entitled. Of course, the ice cream shop is free to disagree with them, as they obviously have, but the OP isn’t out of line for being upset by this.

        1. Meg*

          Oops, I should clarify: asking them to be locked up in a purse, bag, etc. As in, not giving them to the manager at the beginning of the shift.

      3. Melissa*

        It is confiscating if the manager is taking it and locking it up. Requiring it to be locked up is different from taking it and locking it up yourself. Also reference all of the comments above about having access to the phone in an emergency.

      4. AG*

        I think it also has to do with younger people being absolutely addicted to their phones. My mom has a 23-year-old assistant and she says that the girl visibly twitches if she hears her phone go off and can’t check it.

        1. Laura*

          I vote with you. Taking away a phone from a young person is like cutting off a limb. I’ve never seen such drama. I mean, how will you be on top of the latest if you can’t text all of your friends? You would look like an idiot. I saw kids whose schools REQUIRED laptops still pull out a phone so they could get around things the school’s network wouldn’t let them do. And yes, they were allowed to use regular, nonpay phones. I always felt the kids were taking a risk because these things are so easy to steal. Parents seem to think their child MUST have a phone, but they’d be a lot more in control if they leveraged privileges and minutes for behavior. They also need to realize that access to a smartphone is access to pornography.

          I has never had a smartphone, and I have rarely used a pay phone. An emergency is by definition, a very rare event, so I think that excuse is a bit far-fetched. Are you going to walk out of a movie that requires you to turn your phone off because there might be an emergency during those 2 hours? I have also found that no matter what device we come up with (answering machine, pager, smartphone), it is still just as hard to reach a live person’s voice, if not harder. I have always held jobs where it is impossible for me to reach someone, or to be reached by someone at a moment’s notice. And the last time I had car trouble, I put a big sign in my car window with “Call for Help.”. It stayed up for an hour. I finally did what I always do, walked to a church with a regular pay phone. The phone thing is just silly.

          Finally, there are just some things you do because your boss says so. Leave your phone at home. It really won’t kill you.

        2. chikorita*

          Bah, humbug. Broad hyperbolic generalisation about young people. Corruption of youth. Modern technology. Bah.

          (Sorry, but this is a little insulting- especially when I see a lot of older people who can’t put their phones down in case they get an email or a text or they need to update their Twitter. It’s not limited to the younger generation)

    7. Chinook*

      It doesn’t sound like the boss is confiscating valuables so much as ensuring that they are locked up safely so that they can’t be used while on shift or stolen. At the moment, the store may not have individual lockers, so the only alternative may be locking them in the boss’ desk (which means he would also be responsible if they go missing if he is the only one with the key). While my preference would be to have my own locker with my own lock, I woudl take this alternative to just leaving my bag in the back where anyone can rifle through it.

      1. Melissa*

        Requiring people to hand you their phones and then locking them up in a place that they don’t have access to is indeed confiscating.

        I’m also betting that the store will balk at covering the phone should it go missing (or “missing”) while it is in the boss’s possession.

    8. Rob Bird*

      At no point did the OP state the employer was confiscating their phone. They did ask why schools can confiscate phones if employers can’t.

    9. nonegiven*

      I’ll turn off my phone at work except for breaks. I don’t care if it is a smart phone or a 10 year old flip phone, it will be under my control at all times. If it can’t be on my person, there better be a locker that I can put my own lock on.

      ftr, I was in a Burger King with free wifi that I had used before on my wifi-only tablet. I was going to check email while I ate. I connected to the network fine but had no internet access. I asked an employee walking by, a kid, about it and he pulled out his smart phone to check it, saying he usually used it during his breaks to play $somegame. He could also connect to the network, but had no internet access at the time.

  2. ExceptionToTheRule*

    OP #1 – your manager is telling you he doesn’t want cell phones at work. If you aren’t comfortable surrendering it for safe keeping for the duration of your shift, don’t bring it on the property, or leave it in your car or purse.

    1. Sunshine DC*

      But her purse would be on her person – which is what the boss doesn’t want. He didn’t say “Don’t use the phone” (which OP seems fine with) he said she can’t have it with/on her. So again, if you take public transportation, there’s no option to leave it anywhere else. And in 2013, leaving it home is not an option.

      1. mel*

        I’m just curious: why is leaving it home not an option? I don’t even own a smartphone and I haven’t dropped dead yet. I can’t say I’ve ever been on a bus that required a phone to use.

        1. A Dispatcher*

          When my personal safety is involved I would never, ever want to need to rely on someone else having a phone when I need to use one. There is just no way I would leave the house without my phone, nor would I recommend anyone else doing so. Do I need my phone to use a bus, no. Do I want my phone when the bus crashes, absolutely.

          That stance is not to be confused with stating OP needs to have access to their phone while at work, as long as they have access to a phone.

          1. Oxford Comma*

            I think it might be my age showing, but I’ve lived over 40 years and have survived quite well without a cell phone for most of those. I do have a cell phone now, albeit not a smartphone. It has come in handy at times, but the ubiquity of them, tends to mean that if that metaphorical bus crashes, there are plenty of people who have them to report the accident, call for help, etc.

            1. A Dispatcher*

              This isn’t the place for a debate about it, so I will just say this and then drop it. As someone who actually deals with people in emergency situations every day, and not someone with anecdotal evidence specific to themselves only, I wouldn’t leave the house without mine.

              And just a note re: the other people will call thing (because this might be helpful to others as well), don’t assume someone else called. You may be the fifth person calling on the same accident, but you may be the first, because everyone else had the same mindset that someone else will call.

              1. doreen*

                I wouldn’t leave my phone home either, although I remember surviving a time before cellphones. But just because it’s an option I wouldn’t choose doesn’t make it not an option. The OP has options- leave the phone home, in a car , surrender it to the boss or find a new job. She may not like any of the options ( it may be that nothing will satisfy her but having the phone on her person) but they exist

                1. Natalie*

                  Of course, the time before cell phones had a lot more payphones and a lot more businesses that would let you make a phone call in an emergency. Cell phones are transitioning from a nice-to-have to a need-to-have.

                2. KellyK*

                  Natalie, exactly. Good luck finding a payphone nowadays.

                  Any time I’ve needed to make a call and had no cell or a dead battery, I’ve been able to borrow a phone from a random person or use a phone at a nearby business. *BUT* I wouldn’t assume from those isolated experiences that I’ll be that lucky the next time. I also have the fact that I’m a non-threatening-looking 30-something white woman working in my favor. If I were male, or a racial minority, or a pink-haired teenager with a bunch of piercings, random strangers might be much less inclined to hand me their cell phones.

                  Cell phone access is a safety issue, especially if you don’t have a vehicle.

                3. Mike C.*

                  @Kelly K

                  That reminds me, I actually found a working payphone at work a few months ago, I was shocked! Of course, it was in the part of the building that was done in the mid-60s…

                4. Layla*

                  We’ve had cases of people trying to borrow phones then using your phone to top up something or otherwise causing a high bill. I’d always dial for the person is person looks particularly trustworthy / in genuine need

                5. Melissa*

                  Exactly KellyK – I wouldn’t let any random stranger use my phone to make a phone call, and I would even be wary about letting acquaintances or coworkers use it.

                6. TheSnarkyB*

                  THANK YOU for this point, Kelly.
                  Yeah, try borrowing a phone while black. Good luck. Especially since many people have smart phones these days, which they (reasonably) don’t want to hand over.

              2. Jane Doe*

                Aside from the safety aspect, I think expectations have just changed regarding being able to contact someone. If very few people had cell phones, then very few people would ever expect to be able to get in touch with you almost immediately (or within a few hours depending on your work situation) – if you didn’t answer, you were obviously not there, oh well. Now that cell phones are so common people expect to be able to get in touch with you on a regular basis and sometimes are concerned when they can’t.

                I do think it’s completely reasonable for her boss to not want cell phones on the floor.

                1. The IT Manager*

                  That’s precisely it. While it is true that the prevelence of cell phones means that it has become near impossible to find a pay phone, people’s expectations have simply changed. I read something after a school shooting incident from a mother about how she now wanted her child to have a cell phone so she could reach the child in case of such an incident. In the “old days” when cell phones didn’t exists and every kid didn’t have them, she would have used alternate means to find out and thought little of it. Now with the changes expectation not being able to contact her child directly right away seemed horrible.

                  I also hear parents talk about needing cell phones to keep in touch with kids to know when to pick them up, etc. Remember the old days when you made plans to meet up in advance and you had to be on time or someone would be left waiting and possibly worried? changing expectations.

              3. Elizabeth West*

                And just a note re: the other people will call thing (because this might be helpful to others as well), don’t assume someone else called.

                That is why I ALWAYS call. ALWAYS. I think of Kitty Genovese and I dial the damn phone.

            2. KellyK*

              Will other people’s phones get you the bare minimum of safety (calling an ambulance, etc.)? Sure. But what about getting home after the accident? Or finding someone to pick you up from the hospital if you’re injured? Or making sure your boss knows you won’t be in tomorrow, because you’re in the hospital?

              For that matter, the bus doesn’t actually have to crash for you to miss the last bus and need a ride home.

              1. Layla*

                U’d first have to memorise their number or have it on a paper phone book to make any calls !

                I sure do not remember my colleagues’/ boss’s phone number

              2. Laura*

                My car got towed. I called a taxi from a regular phone at a business. The police are kind of good at helping people in emergencies as well.

            3. Jessa*

              And the last time my old junker car stopped in the middle of a highway, I was very glad I had a cellphone. Because nobody stops any more and I’m disabled and unable to walk the couple of miles back to the emergency phone, presuming nobody had trashed it lately.

              If I am out late at night on a bus, I want my phone, because if I get ill or have something happen being able to call for help is useful. There are no payphones near to my residence, especially not within a distance I can walk at all. It is not strange now that people can get a reasonably priced (and if below the poverty level FREE) phone, to have it with you at all.

            4. Kat A*

              In the past month,
              1. my car has broken down at night in the middle of a lonely stretch of interstate
              2. my car got a flat tire with all my children and me in it on a back road trying to avoid highway traffic while I was on crutches and unable to walk properly or without pain

              If you want to take the risk of traveling without a mobile phone, go ahead. But just because you’ve been fine without them doesn’t mean everyone else will be.

              1. Laura*

                But the point some people are making is that they don’t have smartphones at all, so needing one at work is not necessary. Their lives outside work may not require a smartphone. It sounds like your issue is car-related. That’s where you need it. Not at work.

                I know people who have endangered their kids by dropping their landline. Now their kids have no way to call 911 for a household emergency. Unless they are prepared to give a 9 year old their own phone.

                1. Loose Seal*

                  I don’t think Child Protection Services are lining up to remove kids from homes without landlines so your theory is a bit farfetched.

          2. mel*

            But screw all those people who can’t afford a phone…? Low income people must be dropping like flies!

            1. Jamie*

              Oh, I don’t think that’s what she meant at all.

              Unfortunately we have people in this country without homes, that doesn’t mean it safe or optimal. Deliberate hyperbole to make a point…but just because some people cannot afford what is now a common place item for the majority of people doesn’t mean that those who have them shouldn’t laud the safety advantages.

              And there are cell phone programs out there for low income people. Not to say that there still aren’t some without, but the commercials for the free phones and plans for low income people are reaching a broad audience.

              1. Jessa*

                Yes, for safety reasons and to actually help them get jobs because it’s really darned hard to get an interview if you don’t have a number you can be contacted through.

            2. Natalie*

              Most low income people have a cell phone, in many cases instead of a landline. Prepaid cell phones are cheap and flexible, and lots of people get prepaid cell phones for free from various charity and government programs.

            3. A Dispatcher*

              Any cell phone, regardless of whether or not it has service/minutes/etc, as long as it is charged can call 911. There are a lot of programs to get a phone that will only call 911 or even a phone with limited minutes to low income people for free.

              It is a sad fact that in general lower income people do not have access to certain things that would improve their health/safety, but this isn’t a public policy debate. And I’m certainly not going to say that someone who does have a cell phone shouldn’t want or need to have it with them simply because someone else out there may not have the privilege of owning one.

              1. A Dispatcher*

                Oh, and as a side note, for that exact reason, if you are going to let a child play with an old deactivated phone as a toy, please make sure you take the battery out first. I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating it is to field 911 calls from toddlers that think they are just playing.

                1. A Dispatcher*

                  In case you come back to see this, you are very much forgiven :) I don’t mind butt dials; it’s the multiple calls all night long from the same disconnected number that bug.

            4. Chinook*

              From what I can tell from various commercials, it looks like people in the US on social assitance can get free cellphones. Also, if you are on a limited budget, sometimes you choose to go with a cheap phone and no landline.

        2. Anne 3*

          OP sounds young, too. I know if it was my kid, I’d want them to have access to their phone for emergencies.

          1. Stevie*

            If it’s mostly teenagers working in the store, the manager could always send home a sheet of contact information including the store’s landline and street address. It’s definitely not necessary on the manager’s part, but it would put the parents’ minds at ease about true emergency situations.

            1. Marmite*

              Yes, but if it was my son (who is still toddler age so cellphones will probably be replaced by computer watches or whatever by the time he gets to the age of needing one!) I’d want him to have a phone for the journey to and from work (assuming it’s further than walking distance).

              I survived without a cell phone when I was teenager, but that doesn’t mean one wouldn’t have been useful. I remember at least twice needing to use a payphone to contact my parents urgently, and once needing to find one to call the police. These days payphones are hard to find because they’ve been mostly replaced by cell phones.

              1. Xay*

                Right. I didn’t have a cell phone until after I graduated from college, but middle school through undergrad I always carried a prepaid calling card for emergencies in case I needed to use a pay phone and I didn’t have change. Pay phones are hard to find these days and you can’t depend on someone else to have a cell phone or to let you use it when you need to. Your emergency isn’t someone else’s priority.

                1. Marmite*

                  I remember returning from the US and once and finding that my phone refused to work in the UK (it always had previously). I’d arranged to call a friend to pick me up from the train station when I arrived, as I wasn’t sure which train I’d be catching, so I had to ask strangers if I could borrow their phone to make the quick call. The first four people I asked said no. Granted not an emergency, but still an illustration that people can be wary of lending others phones.

            2. Jamie*

              That doesn’t cover to and from work. Like others I also grew up in a time before cell phones, but I also grew up before airbags too…but that doesn’t mean current safety features are irrelevant.

              Granted, the entrainment aspect of them isn’t a need…but being able to contact someone in case of an emergency is. That doesn’t mean they should be allowed to have them at work – because there is a number by which they can be contacted for emergencies – but I don’t want my kids driving to and from work without their phones. In case of accident or car trouble or whatever.

              1. Stevie*

                I’m not arguing that the OP shouldn’t have the phone while not working, it’s just a way to alleviate the fears of parents who want to be able to contact their kids in case of an emergency.
                I’m also coming at this from the viewpoint of a woman who used to babysit a little boy who told me his mom would ground him if he ate broccoli. I told him she could write me a note an we would talk about it next time. (Never did get the note.) So I can see other kids protesting that their parents said they couldn’t put their cell phones in the locker in case of emergency. The manager could just give them the paper instead saying this was the store’s landline number and he would certainly be understanding of emergency calls.

                1. Cait*

                  In a true emergency, what are the odds that the employee’s family will have that piece of paper though?

                  Last summer my sister was at work (retail) while my parents and I went to visit my grandmother in the hospital. Her condition deteriorated very suddenly and we were told that the rest of the family would have to come immediately if they wanted to say goodbye. Do you have any idea how hard it is to track down a store’s phone number at a time like that? Luckily my phone’s battery held out just long enough to look it up (after I finally found a place where I got service) and call her, but it just made an incredibly stressful situation even more difficult than it had to be. Not to mention how much time it took in a situation where we really didn’t have any to spare.

                2. Bea W*

                  In reply to the reply – theoretically, the family member has programmed that number, given to them in advance, into their phone the same way they have programmed every other number into their phone.

                  It could be because I’m apparently really old and had only a work number at which to reach my parents in an emergency since cell phones had yet to be invented, but I always give my family or anyone else that might need to reach me urgently my work number *and* my cell number. I do the same when traveling – always leave the number of where I will be staying or someone I will be staying with. It’s better to have both in case someone can’t reach me at the first number they try.

            3. Melissa*

              Why go through all of that when the manager could just allow people to keep their phones on them and fire anyone who plays with them on shift?

              1. Jamie*

                And there would absolutely be people claiming they were texting to get news on their ill grandmother or other emergency. You can’t ask someone to see what they were texting – and it becomes a slipperly slope.

                FWIW I agree that people should be able to have their phones on them, and those who use them when prohibited should be dealt with. But that means also not checking every text that comes in in case of emergency – because for many that’s still checking your phone every few minutes.

                Reasonable policies and deal with the rule breakers – that’s how I’d do it but I have no idea what it’s like to manage in that environment so maybe it’s not that easy? I don’t know.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Because it’s an ice cream store, so it probably has a frequently changing roster of highly inexperienced employees (if my teenage work experience at TYBY was any guide) and they’d be firing people constantly because many teenage workers have poor impulse control for things like this when their boss is not around.

          2. Tami M*

            If the only time the employee doesn’t have access to their phone is while they are ‘on the clock’, then that tells me they have access to the business phone should an emergency arise. Which, makes sense, because if something happens while working, it’s business related, and not a misuse of company resources. Surely the Manager, Supervisor, Shift Leader on duty will be there to take charge as well. Worst case scenario, if the youth doesn’t know important numbers by heart, they can write them down for easy access.

        3. Chinook*

          There are legit safety reasons for having a cellphone. My parents have had one since they became available (think bag phone in the 90’s) not because they wanted to always be available but because they wanted to be able to contact someone in an emergency, especially in cases when they were travelling. I think the thing that triggered them getting on was when we witnessed a crash in the mountains and then had to flag someone else down to drive 20 minutes down the road to get help. With a cellphone, help would have been there a lot sooner.

      2. ExceptionToTheRule*

        Why would the OP’s purse be on them during their shift? The people working at my local ice cream shop aren’t carrying their purses while making my dip cone – they’ve clearly left them in some other part of the store (probably in the office).

        My point is simply that we don’t carry our other personal belongings with us throughout the day at work. You leave your purse or briefcase in a drawer or at your cube or somewhere else. Why is the cell phone different?

      3. Bea W*

        Presumably her purse would not be physically on her while working, it would be also be stored somewhere safe and not close to where customers would have access. People don’t normally carry purses while serving ice cream or doing other related duties like cleaning or working the cashier.

        I eat a lot of ice cream, so I feel pretty qualified to make that statement. ;-)

        In 2013 leaving it home is an option. There are not, as far as I know, any laws prohibiting the leaving of cell phones at home. Desirable? No. An option? Yes.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      I work with classified information and you’d better believe there are no cell phones allowed for a number of reasons. There are small lockers for cell phones and other personal electronic devices, but not enough, so I usually just turn my phone off and leave it in the car. It’s the requirement of the job I hold, and it’s really not a big deal.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        We too have times & places where having a cell phone on your person could lead to your termination because it has been proven, time & time again, that people are unable to resist the temptation of playing with them and that distracts them from doing the job they are being paid to do.

        We’ll give you a couple of warnings, but we did actually fire someone who just couldn’t resist having their phone where & when they’d been told it was off-limits.

        1. Windchime*

          We were in a meeting at work a few weeks ago and having a spirited discussion. I started to explain my point of view, at which point a co-worker started looking at his phone. Finally I stopped speaking and said, “Am I boring you? Because you keep playing with your phone.” He had the good grace to stop and place it on the table, upside-down. I normally wouldn’t call someone out in a meeting like that, but it is SO ANNOYING when people obsessively check their phones like that. What is so important!??

          1. totochi*

            Wow, that’s rude. Was it necessary to call them out during the meeting? You couldn’t talk to your coworker privately afterwards?

            1. Jamie*

              Inevitably the person who was playing with their phone or otherwise not paying attention who has 110 questions after the meeting, that they’d know the answers too if they’d been mentally present.

              I don’t call people out. I stop talking and just look at them waiting for them to finish. Nothing like finishing up a text to look up and see ten people all looking at you.

              Then I continue. I can’t remember the last time I had to do that – usually people only need to see it once.

            2. Bea W*

              Phone checking during meetings is distracting, especially for the person who is speaking. It seems like it shouldn’t bother anyone because it is quiet, but people notice when someone is doing other things in a meeting that aren’t related to the issue at hand. If someone decided to have a side conversation while you were speaking in a meeting, you’d call them out and put an end to the distraction. This is the same thing.

            3. Ruffingit*

              I would argue that it is necessary to call them out during the meeting. Cell phone misuse (as I like to call it) is rampant and at this point, I’m in the camp that if someone is rude enough to use it during a meeting, I’m going to call them out publicly. It’s also a good way to let everyone else attending the meeting know that cell phone use is noticed and not appreciated.

      2. Anne 3*

        That’s different, I feel. Your phone isn’t being confiscated and locked away, it’s in your own locker or car. (OP could maybe leave their phone in their car as well, but maybe they don’t drive to work).

        1. Katie the Fed*

          and the OP’s phone isn’t being confiscated. She’s being told to leave it elsewhere while she’s on the job. THe employer can decide whether or not the OP should have her cell phone on her at work.

          1. Jessa*

            There is a difference between being in a locker that *I* control and in space someone else controls. If I had a fight with that boss and wanted to leave or quit in a fight, would I have to call a cop to come and help me get my property back? I do not want my property under someone else’s control. I do NOT mind locking it up. I will not have it given to someone else and I won’t leave it in a hot car in 90 degree heat where it can get ruined. Give me a place to put it if you insist in me locking it up. No problem.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              She has the right to not bring her phone to work at all if she doesn’t want her boss holding onto it.

              Her boss IS giving her a place to put it and there’s no reason to think she wouldn’t be able to access it if she asked.

              1. TL*

                In someone else’s locked office, which you don’t have access to? Not the same thing at all. (And it’s already been discussed that leaving it at home may not be an option.)

                I don’t mind rules saying cell phones need to be off/put away during work but I would have huge issues with having to hand my cell phone over into someone else’s care. For one, what if the boss gets ill, leaves early, and forgets to hand back the cell phones?

                1. Anonymous*

                  Then whoever the second in command is, the person who puts the money in the safe and locks up the premises at closing, would give the cell phones back.

            2. Lindsay J*

              IF you had a fight with the boss and quit and he wouldn’t give it back, at that point he would be breaking the law.

              However, I don’t see why you need to assume that he would be so unethical as to not give it back if that situation occurred.

              They could also have you escorted off the property as soon as you quit and not allow you to access a personal locker, either. Just as illegal and just as possible as straight up not giving the phone back.

              I really think you’re grasping at straws here.

      3. Liane*

        That’s very true. My husband used to work in a Quality Assurance job where most/all the business at that location was US government contracts, & you had to have a security clearance. You weren’t allowed to bring *anything* into the secure areas where he worked, other than the clothes you were wearing. Everyone did have their own locker, though. So I knew if I called him, it was going to voice mail (texting wasn’t a common feature then) & he’d get back to me at breaks/lunch. If it was too urgent for that, I had the main number and his supervisor’s number.

      4. Mike C.*

        Two big differences:

        1. You have a legitimate and widely recognized regulatory (or possibly national security) based business case for such a policy.

        2. You’re not being treated like a child. The manager of this ice cream shop was simply too lazy to reprimand the employee breaking the rules, so instead he made the decision to punish everyone else who was.

        1. Anonymous*

          I do not see how they are being punished. They do not need a cell phone to do their jobs, therefore, they do not need a cell phone on their person.

          1. Lindsay J*

            +1. I don’t see how having your cell phone on you and not using it is any different that not having it at all.

            It’s not punishment, it’s making enforcement of the rules easier. And though the OP only saw/knew about one person violating the rule, I guarantee you that there have been others in the past to cause management to lead up to making this rule.

  3. Josh S*

    “If you want to have some fun with your friends, ask them to show you the law they’re talking about. It doesn’t exist.”

    This is fun in a lot of different cases. Ask your friends to show you the source for that Facebook photo-meme that’s going around, accusing [Politician/Party] of [Horrific thing], or whether 1 in every 3 miles of Interstate is truly straight and obstacle-free in order to serve as emergency military strips, or whether scary foods facts are actually true.

    90% of the time they’ll balk at the thought of doing actual research. 6% of the time they’ll be disappointed at seeing their fun theory debunked on Snopes. 3% of the time they’ll find some other source to debunk it. And every-so-often, you will all learn something cool.

    Something cool like this:

      1. tesyaa*

        For many years I thought the Interstate highway system was “designed”, but learned otherwise from reading “The Power Broker” , which actually touched on the topic only tangentially. Local governments built the roads to federal standards with federal money. There was no central “design”.

        1. Jessa*

          No, the only general design was the concept that it needed to connect a general list of places I think. It had to hit the major cities and be able to take you north/south and east/west across most of the country. But the exact routes? Nope.

    1. AnonHR*

      I am a terrible know-it-all in those situations and usually post the snopes link that shows that whatever the meme is being crazy about is completely made up. I try to cushion my obnoxiousness with some kind of comment about how it looks like that’s not the case, so, whew! No need for alarm here!

      That probably makes it worse.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’m one to do that also. It drives me nuts to see these things posted, then posted to someone else’s wall, and so on. And it always amazes me to see which of my Facebook friends are posting these things.

        1. Heather*

          It’s kind of funny – I can usually guess whether or not something is true by who posted it.

      2. kdizzle*

        So frustrating. There’s a picture of two little kids circulating facebook who were ‘kidnapped’ by their parents. The kids were returned to grandparent custody in April. And even though I’ve written, “no need to panic…this was resolved in April,” with a link to the article…people STILL continued to share the picture. I can almost understand not researching it yourself…but ignoring a news article directly below the pitcure that gives the all clear? wtf?

        1. A Bug!*

          We should start an image meme that says “9 out of 10 cautionary image memes on Facebook are sharing stale information or outright lies. Protect yourself and protect others, by Googling the meme before sharing it.”

          1. Jessa*

            That would be cool. But it’d have to be a catchy looking meme to be passed around enough to matter.

      3. Goosey Lucy*

        I do this as well and have learned that many people do not “believe” in snopes. Like, they think snopes is lying and making stuff up.

        It’s extremely frustrating.

        1. Tony in HR*

          +1. :-)

          Because Snopes has stuck around for over a decade (and that’s just when I discovered them) by lying.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Interesting. And there are numerous sites similar to Snopes that usually say the same thing X is not true, Y has been shown to be false.
          Several sources reporting the same assessment are probably correct.

          I think that it says something about the person who chooses to believe the negative-scary story rather than researching it or being comforted by someone who has. Why cling to the fake drama?

        3. Callie*

          Usually the reason is “I don’t believe in Snopes because it’s run by liberals.” bah.

      4. Tony in HR*

        I always post the link with no comment. The last time I did, I got a response back saying “I don’t trust Snopes.” Really, you don’t trust thoughtful, well-resarched and cited articles that embarass you?

        A) Grow up.

        B) Unfriend.

        Sorry, my inner cynic is showing.

        1. Jamie*

          I once heard someone complaining of a headache and someone else offer them Advil.

          “I don’t believe in Advil.”
          “You don’t believe it exists?” (asked in a joking manner)

          Was 10 years ago I over heard that – still cracks me up.

          1. Tony in HR*

            I don’t know why, but I think I find that funnier than normal because I’m HR at a pharmacy. :-)

          2. Judy*

            One of the high school Girl Scouts in our council has the camp name “Creature”. She has a pair of small horns on a headband, that are the color of her hair. She wears them during camp.

            A few weeks ago we were at a council day camp, one of the girls from my (2nd grade) troop asked me if they were real. I replied “Do you think you’re imagining them? Of course they are real, they’re right there.”

          3. TheSnarkyB*

            Ahh, I love this. At the summer concessions job I mentioned above, someone wanted their food but didn’t want our containers (she ordered fcking baked beans. I don’t know how she expected me to hand it over), because she “Didn’t believe in Styrofoam.”
            I said, “It exists. I promise.”

            If you wanted more proof that I deserve my user name, I’m so averse to the passive Snopes link sharing (the kind where you go “oops I think I heard somewhere…. *link*), that I go: “Lol false. *link*”
            Except when it’s my grandpa. But I have a very snarky family that bred a very snarky B. :D

        2. Rana*

          They don’t trust Snopes, but they do trust a random person on the internet? Some people just don’t think, do they?

  4. Peter*


    I think it really depends on in what stage of your employment / job hunting you are. If you actively apply for positions, you have to stick to whatever rules and format they require the resume to be uploaded / provided.

    I’ve however had multiple situations when headhunters and agencies approach me, proposing a position, and asking me for my current resume. In that case I tell them “google my name and use resume found on the first hit you get” — it might be my website, it might be LinkedIn, they are both up-to-date. (It is even more funny when their email starts with “I came across your CV online, you seem like a great fix for position X, please sent your current CV.” to which I reply “Bookmark the address where you found my CV and use that address at time in the future.”)

    1. Anonymous*

      I know the recruiters are the ones reaching out to you, but I would be annoyed if someone made me google them to get a copy of their resume. Why can’t you just provide them with a link or a copy of the resume? In general, if someone told me to google them, I’d probably think they were a bit pretentious.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, and it also means that they now have to do the work of copying and pasting it into a document, formatting it, etc. if they want to send it to employers.

        1. Anonymous*

          I don’t know, I’m nothing special and when the 10th email pops up from a company that wants me to sell insurance telling them to google me sounds totally reasonable.

          If they sent me a job I was actually interested in or the slightest bit qualified for then I’d treat them like they might have actually looked at my resume or had some thought process behind sending me that recruiting email.

  5. AdAgencyChick*

    #1 — you may have gotten your manager to back down, but you can forget about getting a good reference from your manager in the future. When another employer calls your boss asking what you were like as an employee, they’re going to hear, “I asked employees to turn in their cell phones for the duration of their shifts and OP threatened to sue me!”

    Even if this were illegal, Alison’s methods of alerting employers to illegal activity (“I just wanted to make you aware of this so we don’t both get in trouble”) are more likely to keep you in your employer’s good graces in the long run.

    1. Chris80*

      +1 Yeah, threatening your boss is pretty high up on the list of things you shouldn’t do at work! I’m surprised OP got away with it (and still has a job).

      1. FormerManager*

        In my experience, some retail managers can be pretty gullible about things like that. Throw in little to no management training and I could see this happening.

        (Not saying all retail managers are like that…I have known some good ones.)

          1. Liane*

            I think this is a combination of a teen at his/her first job and a manager/owner who might not be good at managing. (Memo to me: discuss How to Talk With Your Boss with my job-hunting 17 year old asap)

            That said, I really wish my own store (part of big, well-known chain) would enforce the company’s phone policy. Just about everyone on the front end plays with their phone *a lot*, including 1 or 2 of my supervisors. When I am trying to get them over to approve a transaction or because a customer asked to speak to them. (Does it surprise anyone here that the worst offender has other shortcomings as an employee/colleague?)

      2. Jessa*

        This is also true. Threatening the boss was not the way to go about resolving this issue at all. There were a lot of better options.

    2. Laura*

      Amen! I’m surprised at how many responses there are that don’t even touch on this aspect of the question.

      OP, threatening to sue your boss is in general a very bad way to handle things, unless your boss is doing something pretty egregious like threatening to fire you if you don’t sleep with him or something like that.

      Newsflash: there are things about every job that you aren’t going to like.

        1. Bea W*

          That was what shocked me most, not that the employee objected to the policy and even spoke up, but the way it was handled. I chalked it up to young person (that is to say not much experience in the adult world), no employment experience, and “research on the internet”. Some people have mentioned entitlement, but I’m willing to place my bets on one or all of those other three things.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Am chuckling. Lawsuits cost big bucks. That money has to come from somewhere. And oh yeah, lawsuits involve large amounts of time- greater than a year.
        A cell phone: is this the hill to die on???

    3. Cat*

      If I had a young, just-out-of-high-school employee come and tell me that this policy was illegal for X, Y, and Z reasons, and that she intended to protect her rights, I’d be impressed, assuming the tone was in an appropriate manner. Granted, in this case she’s wrong, but if I was convinced as this manager appears to be, I wouldn’t know that and thus it wouldn’t affect my judgment.

      It’s different then an office environment, I think, where the norm is that the power differentials aren’t put front and center in the same way.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        As a former child and teen who went around asserting my legal rights, in what must have sometimes been obnoxious ways, I agree it’s great when kids/teens/recent high school grads are willing to stand up to authority figures when their rights are being overlooked … but part of that is being willing to get your facts straight!

        1. FormerManager*

          On a lighter note, am I the only one picturing OP’s boss as Scott Ritter’s character in Bad Santa (the only redeeming part of the film)?

  6. Elise*

    #3 – pay change. They probably use a system similar to Federal jobs, so you could look at GS pay scale tables for examples. If they work with that sort of system your base pay would not even change. You would just no longer be receiving the additional cost of living adjustment that you are currently receiving.

    The GS tables can also be useful as a guide if you are looking to move to a different area and want to compare your old wages to new.

  7. Alicia*

    #4: Is this the first time you’ve seen this side of your boss where he is trying to work around “the system”, or is it just the most glaringly obvious attempt?

  8. Chris80*

    Regarding #1, does anyone know if cell phone jammers are allowed in the workplace? Everything I’m finding says it’s illegal to use a jammer – per the FCC. However, a friend’s boss admitted that their workplace has a jammer, and no one’s cell phone works in that department. If it makes a difference, this is a pretty large company & the jammer wouldn’t be likely to interfere with cell phone signals outside the building, just prevents employees’ phones from working.

    1. Jamie*

      That would be really problematic in this kind of environment.

      People are on their phones waiting in line, or sitting at a table, customers would justifiably be pissed if called dropped the second they entered the store.

      I’m not advocating talking on ones phone through a transaction, that’s rude…but if I’m waiting in line for several minutes I’m pissed if I can’t text while I wait because a they can’t mange their employees without brute force measures.

      1. Chris80*

        You’re right, and I’m not at all recommending this tactic for any company, especially not companies like in #1! It’d definitely be problematic in a place where customers are coming and going all day. My friend’s company isn’t a customer-serving business, though. No one other than employees are ever in the building. Maybe that makes a difference in the legal sense?

    2. The IT Manager*

      I’d wonder if this isn’t a wild rumor. I worked in several buildings where cell phone service was spotty or non-existent because we were mostly below ground or the walls were thick.

      1. fposte*

        That’s what I thought–workplace legend, possibly believed by the boss but possibly not.

      2. Jamie*

        Signal can be non-existent or spotty in some buildings depending on their construction. For instance I have signal in one part of my office (and I don’t mean office as in workplace – I mean my individual office) where if I move a foot or so in the wrong direction it drops. Something to do with steel in the walls is what I was told.

        1. Lora*

          Yeah, it’s called a Faraday Cage.

          Two of the buildings I work in, the architect thought that a brushed-metal sculpture-y type of paneling was really modern-looking. Employer put repeaters for the network the company uses for cell phones in the buildings, but not the network that most of us have for our private phones. Due to the way the repeaters are set up around town, you can’t even get a signal until you’re well outside the parking lot–the metal buildings are between you and the nearest repeater.

          1. Flynn*

            Bah. My workplace is a lot like that. Students can’t even get *the official* wireless if they go too far down one end of the library.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            There’s also a Faraday wallet to protect your credit card from being automatically read while still inside your wallet.

    3. Brett*

      Jammers are definitely illegal. They are basically unlicensed pirate radio transmitters. They will jam all radio traffic on the targeted frequency bands, not just cell phones.

      Picture the situation where there is a fire or active shooter in the building and first responders go into the building. A broad spectrum jammer (which is what most cheaper jammers are) could block the 800 & 900 Mhz bands. No public safety radio traffic inside the building. And even if it does not block 800 MHz, people trapped in the building are not able to use their cell phones to call for help.

      And if a business actually makes the mistake of using a full jammer (like a faraday cage), even the radio traffic is not completely blocked.

    4. AP*

      Weirdly enough, my local DMV has a jammer and I kind of love it. It’s dead silent in there, no one making calls, no beeping or ringing. Bliss.

      When I’m frantically trying to check my email and nothing will come through, though, it’s a bit of a different story…

      1. Chris80*

        Ugh, that sounds like torture to me. Every time I go to the DMV, I end up waiting in line for at least a half hour, but usually more. It’s good to have a smart phone for entertainment purposes sometimes!

    5. Josh S*

      My understanding is that active jammers (those that actively add radio-noise to the phone in hopes of overwhelming or disrupting the legit signal) are illegal/unlawful.

      For one thing, the spectrum is regulated, so the FCC sells licenses to companies to use specific spectrum. Those jammers use that same spectrum, but without a license — not allowed. Second, I believe [citation needed] that the FCC has specifically ruled that active jammers are not allowed.

      HOWEVER, passive jamming is permitted. That is, if you paint a layer of lead around a room (brain toxicity notwithstanding), or surround the room in a Faraday cage, thereby intentionally preventing a signal — any signal, really — from reaching the device inside that room, that’s perfectly allowable.

      Can anyone verify that? Or am I letting my mind make stuff up for me again?

      1. Marmite*

        I have no idea on the laws, but I know that when my partner was receiving radiation treatment the hallways and mini-waiting areas around the treatment rooms had no cell phone reception, but the main waiting room/department reception area, literally the other side of a door from some of the hallways, did. We were told by employees that cell phone reception was deliberately barred in that part of the building, but how they achieved that I never asked.

        1. Mike C.*

          Most likely a faraday cage, because those cell phone signals interfere with some types of medical equipment. If you have active jamming, it would also mess up the medical equipment.

    6. Mike C.*

      I wouldn’t mess with the FCC. They’d be really happy to drop the hammer on a situation like that.

      Imagine someone at work has a heart attack, and the coworkers are trying to call 911. Only they can’t because the boss set up an illegal cell phone jammer. That boss and maybe the company is looking at a serious civil suit, and a likely criminal indictment as well.

      Just imagine the guy on the stand being asked questions like, “Can you explain the business purposes of blocking people from dialing 911 on their cell phone?” It’s an episode of Law & Order waiting to happen.

      Please encourage the boss through your friend to take it down, for the safety of others.

      1. Jamie*

        But if you’re talking about a place of business why can’t they call 911 from the business phone?

        I am with you 100% if there is no business phone or it’s not working – I do not want anyone I love working in an environment without access to emergency services.

        But I would argue that if someone’s health or safety depended on employees having cell phones rather than the business having a proper accessible phone they are so lax it’s unconscionable. What if I forgot my phone, and Bob’s battery died so we couldn’t call 911 when Sally had a heart attack. It shouldn’t be up to us to supply emergency communication for the business.

        1. ExceptionToTheRule*

          Just make sure you call 9-911 from the business phone… We had people learn that the hard way once.

          1. Anonymous*

            Not all office phones require dialing a 9 to get an outside line. At my last job, we had to dial 0 because too many people would call 911 by mistake. At my current job, you don’t need to dial anything.

            And anyone who had worked in an office for any length of time would presumably know how to use the phone.

    7. Chinook*

      That would only work to interfer with texting/calling/surfing. Ot wouldn’t interfer at all with any game they may be reading. And, for what it would save in worker hours it would kill in repeat business because I certainly would remember the “dead spot” where my phone went silent in the middle of a conversation.

  9. Sabrina*

    #2, I used to have my resume at a resume posting site, emurse. Which is now defunct. I wouldn’t apply and say hey here’s my resume, but a link to it was in my email signature, just in case. Or if a friend was talking to an HR person and they wanted to see my resume, there was something out there without having the friend get to me, ask for the file, then forward it on. It was just another avenue of exposure out there and why not have every possible thing covered?

    1. J*

      Because that logic implies that more exposure = more job opportunities. While you may make yourself known for more jobs, you probably won’t be considered for those jobs if you’re doing so in a way that is considered out of touch with accepted business practices.

  10. Colette*

    #6 – Is the company that contacted you asking for a new copy of your resume?

    I agree you should include the new job – and you certainly should be prepared to talk about it at the interview, because they will likely ask – but they’re already interested in you, so I don’t think a new resume (that you might, for example, bring to the interview) will change that.

  11. Sabrina*

    #3 I would ask your HR because yeah, I think that’s fairly common. But like anything, can be negotiated.

  12. AnonyMouse28*

    re: #1,

    I don’t know how comfortable I am with the “nor could you sue” comment–a) you can always sue. The court may rule against you (and good luck paying the court costs they’re likely to levy on you if that happens) or dismiss the case, but you can always sue. b) OP in this case can absolutely sue, and even has a (relatively small) chance of winning if the employer’s policy is not clearly and fairly written, evenly enforced, or if the policy encroaches on an employee’s implicit right to privacy. Seizure of an employee’s personal property by an employer is a relative gray area judicially–the courts simply haven’t decided enough cases for their to be a body of rulings on this. Sure, we can extrapolate from the body of ruling on employer-led searches of employee-property that the court is *likely* to rule in favor of an employer, but it’s not an exact comparison and such a ruling may well be be narrowly defined (i.e. the employer would need to justify such a policy as a legitimate need to protect worker safety or prevent a real threat to the business of the employer). At-will employment doesn’t automatically mean that an employee relinquishes the right to sue should they have a legitimate grievance re: protected rights.

    Now, if you want to say “nor should you sue him,” that’s a different issue. That’s a moral judgement, not a legal one, and should be made clear. Just my two cents.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Sure, you can fill out the appropriate paperwork for anything, no matter how ridiculous, but it won’t go anywhere if there’s not grounds for the suit, meaning that a law has been broken. I could file paperwork with a court suing someone for having an offensive laugh, but obviously it would go nowhere, and in many jurisdictions I’d end up having to pay the other person’s legal bills. Moreover, if I somehow found a lawyer to assist me in filing (very unlikely, since lawyers generally don’t sue for things that aren’t against the law), they could have professional sanctions brought against them.

      I think people generally understand that “you can’t sue over that” means “no law is being broken.”

      And of course at-will employment doesn’t mean people give up their protected rights. But keeping a cell phone on your person is not a protected right, and an employer is well within their rights to require it be locked up at the beginning of your shift. Employees who don’t want to do that can turn down the work.

      1. AnonyMouse28*

        You don’t know if this is a protected right or not, and neither do I, and you don’t know if law or precedent is being broken–that’s the point I’m making. The courts haven’t ruled substantially enough on this issue for there to be a ‘rule of thumb’, and I really don’t think a lawyer would be sanctioned for taking on such a case were it to go to court, because this scenario is not in any way akin to suing somebody for “an offensive laugh.” If you happen to think suing for this is silly, it’s certainly your right to have that opinion, but that’s not the same as asserting that one ‘can’t sue because no law is being broken,’ which is what you wrote.

        What if the employee refuses to present a phone (and refuses, as I would, to lie about it)? What if the employer only enforces such a policy for some individuals and not others? What if the employer insists on searching an employee’s purse or bag to ensure no phone is present? What if the phone comes to harm while in the employer’s possession? What if the phone includes personal text and photographs that the employee wishes to be kept private? What if an employee’s dependents come to harm because he or she did not have access to their cellphone in an emergency? All of these scenarios are actionable areas that address individual privacy and personal property rights, and an employee can absolutely win them if the situation merits it and is argued correctly.

        Individuals have a right to privacy and property. Employers have a right to protect their business. Sometimes these two areas are in conflict and that’s when the courts can and should step in.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          We do know that it’s not a protected right. I’m confused about what you’re arguing here. The employee isn’t being required to hand over their phone for the manager to look through it. (And they could simply put a passcode on it.) They’re being required to lock it up before their shift. This is pretty common.

        2. Jamie*

          What if an employee’s dependents come to harm because he or she did not have access to their cellphone in an emergency?

          What? An employer doesn’t need to allow every employee unfettered access to their cell phone. I’ve never known a business that didn’t have a phone which can be used for true emergencies.

          And if harm is imminent they should be calling 911 before a parent at work.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I don’t understand what you’re arguing here. If the babysitter needs to reach them, they can call the store and ask for them. Not allowing employees to have cell phones on them while serving customers is a very common policy, and people make do just fine. There’s no right to have a phone on you while working.

            2. Jamie*

              A baby sitter cancelling at the last minute isn’t imminent harm. It is horribly inconvenient to either the person who is with the kids at that time or the parent who has to leave work unexpectedly – but in neither case is the situation made better by being informed via cell phone as opposed to work phone.

              Imminent harm to me in the house is on fire, or Mary cut herself and it won’t stop bleeding, or someone is trying to break in. So yes, in case of imminent harm I’d want my loved ones to call emergency services before me – because they are more equipped to handle it than I am from work. Once they’ve called the authorities or gotten to the hospital THEN call me and I’ll be on my way.

          1. Tasha*

            Incidentally, a hypothetical or speculative harm doesn’t provide standing to sue. It has to be “certainly impending,” even assuming that there is an applicable law here. (By the way, I’m not a lawyer.)

        3. Anonymous*

          Also there is no indication that this isn’t being applied across the board and if it were applied only to a protected class ( of which cell phone users are not one, then it would be a concern that was different and I don’t think anyone here would say that if all the women were required to lock up their phones this would be a different situation.
          Owning a cell phone doesn’t make you a protected class, yes we do know that.

          1. AnonyMouse28*

            I said protected RIGHT not protected class. Two entirely different things. Holy lack of reading comprehension in this thread. I never said the employee would win, I said they might win because the judicial body is vague on this area, and I’m right. If posting links wouldn’t send me into moderation land, I’d do so, but like I told Allison–we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

              1. AnonyMouse28*


                Quote: “Private employers are generally more able to perform searches in the workplace than government employers. However, even in the context of private employment, some states have recognized either by statute or judge-made law the privacy rights that adhere in the personal items of employees.”


                Quote: “In sum, if the employer provides advance notice through a carefully drafted policy, which allows employees to make calls in case of an emergency and, in the instance of confiscation, institutes sufficient safeguards to prevent unlawful searches in violation of the employee’s privacy rights, then such a policy is likely lawful.”

                This is an excellent article that clarifies my position on the OP’s scenario. While the employer is most likely within their legal rights in such a policy, it’s not a guarantee BECAUSE the courts have been so vague on this specific issue, and that in the right [wrong?] circumstances, the employee could litigate and even WIN, regardless of at-will status.

                Hopefully this clarifies what my posts couldn’t.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  That’s referring to searches, not locking up property, which the article notes is a very different thing. In the only case regarding insisting that property that it cites, it notes that the court found that the policy was legal.

    2. fposte*

      Additionally, you sue for economic damages. Which nobody has sustained in this case, at least not yet.

    3. Law Student*

      And if it’s a frivolous suit (“Subway didn’t put enough tomatoes on my sandwich! I’m suing!”) the attorney who filed the suit could face sanctions or other disciplinary action. Plus, the suit’s not going to make it past a motion to dismiss hearing, and then the plaintiff is out a whole hell of a lot of money in court and attorney fees. So yeah, you *can* sue for pretty much anything, but the vast majority of the time it’s a waste of time and money.

      1. AnonyMouse28*

        I don’t consider being terminated for refusing to allow personal property to be seized by an employer to be frivolous. I don’t know that a court would either, though one can only speculate.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s not being seized. It’s a condition of employment that you lock up your cell phone before your shift. There’s no seizure. There’s no law being broken. This is a very common policy.

          1. Jamie*

            Yes – it isn’t as if they are required to bring a phone in and turn it over. That’s seizure.

          2. AnonyMouse28*

            Reading the OP’s post, this does NOT seem like an instance where a cellphone is being put in an employee’s personal locker (to which they have a key and access should there be an emergency). She specifically said “give him my phone,” which to me implies that they had to hand over their personal property to place in their manager’s possession, with no availability or access until such time that the manager relinquishes such property (presumably at shifts-end). That’s why I keep saying that neither of us know whether a protected right is being broken here, and that’s what I’m arguing (to answer your question from up thread).

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I’m going to point you to fposte’s excellent comment below:

              As is frequently noted here, unless you’re in Montana (where it’s only mostly an at-will state) at-will employment is the law of the land in the U.S.–you can fire somebody for having a cell phone, for arguing about a cell phone, for what they put on their cell phone, for having the wrong brand of cell phone because there’s no law that says you can’t. The laws that are exceptions are pretty clearly identified, and I’m not seeing one that would cover this–are you? Because if you’re not, this sounds like wishful thinking on a par with the OP’s, and just because it feels wrong doesn’t mean it’s illegal.

              1. AnonyMouse28*

                Thanks, but I saw that one aaaand I replied already. My legal background is a sound one, but this is getting pretty exhausting, so we’ll agree to disagree.

            2. Marmite*

              It is difficult to tell from the OP whether or not the boss is asking employees to give him phones, or to put them into a locker, locked office, or other safe place. The OP says “my boss decided to make us lock up our phones at the beginning of each shift.” and then says she searched websites that said it was illegal for a boss to force employees to hand over possessions.

              I think it’s possible the boss told them phones had to be locked away and OP interpreted that as confiscation.

            3. Katie the Fed*

              She has the right to not bring a phone to work at all, if she doesn’t want it in her boss’s possession.

            4. Katie the Fed*

              You realize the OP is under no legal obligation to work at this place, right? That’s a choice she made. If she doesn’t like the terms of employment she’s free to go elsewhere.

        2. Marmite*

          What if that personal property is a (legally owned) gun instead of a phone? If the employee refused to hand that over and was fired would you still make the same argument?

          What if the employee wanted to bring their favourite folding chair into work to sit in and the employer told them it wasn’t allowed and had to be locked up in his office for the shift? Jobs have restrictions on what employees can bring into the workplace, just because in this case it happens to be phones doesn’t make it a violation of the employees rights. The OP is free to not bring her phone to work (although, I agree there are reasons she may wish to, even if she’s not using it at work), to not accept a job that doesn’t allow phones, or to find her own safe place to leave a phone during work.

          1. AnonyMouse28*

            In fact, this very issue came up in the courts. The courts determined that the employer had a legitimate reason to maintain such a policy, and then the legislature overturned it on constitutional grounds.

            This issue is a GRAY one, is what I’m saying (and nobody seems to be understanding…)

            1. AnonyMouse28*

              Sorry, to clarify, “this issue” meaning “legally owned guns in the workplace” (just realized I wasn’t clear).

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              It sounds like you’re talking about a ruling in a specific state, which might be why the rest of us here are so baffled. Can you provide more background?

              1. AnonyMouse28*

                From the same link I posted above, here’s the gun situation:

                “Within the last few years, lawsuits have centered on the issue of firearms in the workplace, see, e.g., Bastible v. Weyerhaeuser, 437 F.3d 999 (10th Cir. 2006), with many state legislatures passing laws to roll back court decisions favoring the employer’s prerogative.

                The right to bear arms, a guarantee under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, is not necessarily analogous to an employee’s right to carry or use a cell phone on the premises of the employer. However, cell phones present similar issues, albeit on a lesser scale, for worker safety and productivity as weaponry and illicit substances.”

                Don’t get me wrong–I’m not equating cell phones with guns–just responding to Marmite’s hypothetical to illustrate my overarching post–the law and the courts aren’t clear on this specific issue.

                1. the gold digger*

                  Not a lawyer. Accepted to law school, didn’t go. Bad, bad decision.

                  But – the 2nd amend. is about what the government can do, not what private individuals can do. (Which you have tangentially noted.) Kind of like the argument that the 4th amend. protects you from the gov’t doing a drug test but does not protect you from your employer doing one. Or the first amend. keeping the government from throwing you in jail for saying something nasty about the president but not protecting you from getting fired if you insult the CEO of your employer.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                You had noted above that a legislature overturned a ruling that allowed employers to ban cell phones on employees during their shifts. What state was that in?
                Can you share a link to the law?

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  If that’s not what you meant, then I’m not following your argument at all.

                  You’re clearly getting frustrated, but you haven’t provided information to back up what you’re saying, and the one link you posted didn’t back it up. I’m open to hearing that there’s some state law I don’t know about, but so far, I haven’t seen anything to show that that’s true.

                2. AnonyMouse28*

                  I think you just missed my clarifying post (right underneath, posted a few minutes after I replied to Marmite) where I said “the issue” being “guns in the workplace,” and then cited the article itself.

                  And I’m getting frustrated because claims are being attributed to me that I never said (not just you). I don’t know how many more ways I can say “the law is vague on this” without saying “the law is vague on this” a bajillion times.

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  The problem is that “the law is vague on this” doesn’t work in the way that you’re using it. If there’s no law prohibiting it, then it’s allowed, until such time that a law is passed making it illegal. The law is also vague on whether or not an employer can ban blue backpacks in the workplace; they can, until such time that a law says they can’t.

                  Employers can prohibit cell phones in the workplace, unless some state has passed a law saying they can’t. The article you provided in support of your argument didn’t say what you’re saying.

                4. AnonyMouse28*

                  Yes, it did say exactly what I’m saying, because what I’m saying is:

                  The employee CAN sue and they MIGHT win because the law is VAGUE, as the concluding paragraph in that very article I cited made clear.

                  That’s what I’ve been saying, and that’s what I continue to say, and I don’t know how much clearer I can make it.

                5. fposte*

                  But the law isn’t vague. It’s absent. Sure, you could be the first person to sue and win on being fired for failing to surrender your cellphone–nobody can completely predict judges or juries–but there’s no precedent and there’s no legislation giving you the right to do so.

                  I think the HR pages aren’t really looking at the court case and the law–they’re leaping to the CYA position that leads bloggers to state stuff like “You may only wish to give out name and hire dates for references.” The actual Oklahoma law (and the Alaska and Alabama laws look to be the same) are 1) based on 2nd amendment rights, which have nothing to do with cellphones, and 2) don’t prevent people from being fired for having guns with them at work–they just allow people to lock them in their cars at work. Which the OP’s manager would be fine with for the cellphone anyway.

                  I think you’re wanting to talk about law in a more theoretical sense, and whether the 2nd amendment-based legislation might be used someday as a precedent for something non–2nd amendment related (which I doubt, given that it hasn’t happened after 11 years). But that’s a speculation, and it makes more sense on a non-legal blog to say “No, there’s no law that allows this.” Because no law does.

              3. Bea W*

                I’m totally baffled. Usually only a higher court can overturn a ruling by a lower court, and only the State or Federal Supreme Court can overturn a law on constitutional grounds. That is not something the legislature can do either on the federal level or in my state. The legislature can vote to repeal a law or pass a law, but not to repeal a court ruling.

                1. fposte*

                  From what I can see, they didn’t repeal the court ruling (I was trying to find out if the workers got reinstated and couldn’t find any info, but I doubt they did); they created legislation that *going forward* protected the right of workers to keep guns in their cars. So I don’t think it helped the Weyerhaeuser guys themselves.

                  One report suggests that the 10th Circuit ruling on the Oklahoma law, which focuses specifically on OSHA’s absence of specifics on gun banning, implies that if OSHA did outline a broader ban of guns on work grounds as part of prevention of workplace violence, that would be recognized by the court as superseding state law. Interesting, if so.

          2. nonegiven*

            At least here, an employer can ban the carrying of firearms while on the job. We have a law now that they cannot prohibit having one locked in your car in their parking lot.

        3. fposte*

          As is frequently noted here, unless you’re in Montana (where it’s only mostly an at-will state) at-will employment is the law of the land in the U.S.–you can fire somebody for having a cell phone, for arguing about a cell phone, for what they put on their cell phone, for having the wrong brand of cell phone because there’s no law that says you can’t. The laws that are exceptions are pretty clearly identified, and I’m not seeing one that would cover this–are you? Because if you’re not, this sounds like wishful thinking on a par with the OP’s, and just because it feels wrong doesn’t mean it’s illegal.

            1. fposte*

              Look, just about any legal question could technically be a gray area until you get a court ruling in this specific case, because that’s how civil law works–precedents get made and overturned, and law develops. But absent a reference to the gun case you mention, there’s no reason to think it counts as a precedent for a cell phone situation, certainly not in a way that would back the OP’s threat up.

                1. fposte*

                  Okay, that’s come up now, but it doesn’t disprove the notion offered here: absent a law specifically protecting possession of an item, it’s legal for a workplace to forbid it. That’s why they lost. Then there was created a law that specifically protected the possession of the item, so the situation in Oklahoma is no longer “absent a law specifically protecting…”

                  What I’m saying is that, absent a law that protects the behavior, which currently doesn’t exist, there’s no grounds for a suit, and there’s no law specifically protecting possession of a cell phone at work. I also think that, culturally, the chances of getting a representative to push through legislation to protect the right to keep your cell phone at work is much smaller than finding one who wants to defend the right to keep a gun in the car.

                2. fposte*

                  More broadly, all statements about what you can currently do and not do are essentially invisibly asterisked “True until a court decides differently or a law gets rolled out that changes things.” Nobody’s promising that you’ll never be able to sue for discrimination against obesity outside of Michigan, or that you’ll always need 50 employees to be eligible for FMLA. Statements about these things are based on how things are now. The winds of change would have to roar a lot louder than they are on this issue before it would be crucial to suggest they’re blowing in an answer to somebody writing in about a current work problem.

          1. fposte*

            Additionally–liability is a different issue than employment law, so this doesn’t automatically mean employers are automatically off the hook if somebody steals all the phones. It just means that there’s no law to stop the employer from firing people who don’t surrender their phones.

            1. Chinook*

              Yes, liability is a completely different issue. If the OP’s boss has the employees store them in the boss’ locked office and something happens to the phones, I would presume the boss would then be liable for the damages and that is the risk the boss is taking for not providing individual lockers. My guess is that the boss weighed that risk and was willing to take it.

            2. AnonyMouse28*

              I can’t reply directly to posts anymore (it appears once comments have “nested” to a certain point, the reply button disappears), so

              we’ll agree to disagree. You all win.

                1. Flynn*

                  Also, what seems to be confusing a lot of the OTHER discussion on this topic is the distinction between:

                  “Can it be a rule that my phone is not on me during my shift?” (what most people are assuming this is, and obviously it can, and then it’s just a discussion of providing an appropriate place to store it or not)


                  “Can my boss *take my phone* away from me as policy and put it wherever they have decided to store it?” (much more complicated and invasive)

                2. Wow*

                  I might sue because by my eyes are tired from reading all of these posts about lawsuits. I’ll probably lose, but I MIGHT win.

                  Disclaimer: I’m not suing.

    4. AG*

      Ha, I had a business law professor who would always say that the question you should ask is not “can I sue?” but “if I sued would I have a reasonable chance at winning and what is the legal precedent?”

  13. Veronica in CA*

    #4… California law requires time and a half not only for over 40 hrs in a week, but also for over 8 hrs in a day. So if an employee were to just work two 11 hour days in one week, they must be paid 6 hrs of overtime pay.

    1. Tony in HR*

      Last time I checked (last November), it was ten hours a day (to allow employers have 4 10 hour shifts a week). Has it changed recently?

      1. Another Ellie*

        It’s either 4/10 or 5/8, and 5/8 is considered the standard in CA.
        If the employer and employee agree on a regular 5/8 schedule then over 8 hours requires overtime. If it’s 4/10 they’re allowed to delay overtime until after 10 hours, but it has to be all agreed upon and spelled out in advance. Also, if that’s the agreement the employer can’t require the employee to work a 5th 8 or 10 hour day during the week w/out paying overtime.

  14. ali*

    #5 – right there with you. I need to resign today and am actually in the office (I work from home a few days a week) but my bosses are very rarely here themselves. I won’t be surprised if I’m the only person in the office all day long – we’re a 5 person start-up that just got bought out. I’ve only been here since April, but have already outlived my usefulness.

    What’s funny is I can’t even call them because I never got their phone numbers! We are all paid as consultants and use our personal phones, computers, etc. I can email them, but I don’t think that’s appropriate. The good news is they have an inkling it’s coming as I did talk with them briefly about it the last time I saw them (probably a week and a half ago).

    I love working for a distributed team, but there are some things you just need to do in person or over the phone.

    1. Brian*

      That sounds like a lot worse than the position I am in!

      I at least do have the option to phone up my boss whenever, I just haven’t ever needed to in the past. My worry is just that I consider it more polite to discuss such a matter in person, and he lives a long way away.

      I still have to actually phone him, but I’m trying to at least have a load of work done beforehand to assuage my guilt …

      1. ali*

        my previous boss was off-site, but she always made herself available via Skype or phone so it wasn’t an issue. This situation is strange since I don’t even have their phone numbers!

        I’m with you on the guilt thing too. I’m only giving a week’s notice so I’d really like to do it today. But I do feel like I’ve already completed all the work that I have in front of me.

    2. AG*

      I also work for a startup that is not really into using phones but dangit Skype just doesn’t work sometimes!

  15. B*

    #1 – Boss can certainly lock up the phone, but on breaks you should be able to get access to it even if you have to ask him nicely to open up the safe. Personally, I would rather have my phone locked up rather than it being out and about.

    However, as a couple of others have pointed out – you made a big misstep. A) Having your phone on you is not a absolute. It is a privilege and should be treated as such, especially at work. If you don’t like it locked up there, leave it in your car or at home. B) You will not receive a good reference from this manager. And while now that might not be of concern to you, at some point it will be. Trust me…been there and done that.

  16. Angry Writer*

    In regards to #5 — What is the correct way to apply for a different job in your company (assuming it’s a large organization and not in the same department/building etc.)? Do you always need to give your manager a heads up first, or can you just apply and interview? Is there a general rule for this sort of thing?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Depends on how it’s done in your particular organization, but generally speaking it’s wise to do so since your boss will often be contacted or otherwise hear about it.

  17. J*


    Better hope your boss doesn’t read this blog or you might be in trouble. On second thought if he is making you lock up your phones during your shift he probably doesn’t read this blog anyway.

    1. Chris80*

      I’m still waiting for this question to show up on AAM: “Is it legal for my boss to fire me because I wrote to the Ask a Manager blog about them?”

      And, yes, it’d be legal. ;-)

  18. IronMaiden*

    I’m really surprised there is such debate and outrage about OP#1 – clearly a case of teen angst – when the matter raised by OP#4 is so much more serious.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      because #4 is pretty black and white.

      #1 actually is too, but a lot of people don’t agree with it.

      1. Chinook*

        It is hard to discuss an issue that is blatantly wrong and illegal. What more is there to say than that supervisor is a jerk and breakign the law?

      2. Bea W*

        Not much discussion to be had when the issue is cut and dry. There’s not much to disagree about. #4 is just illegal, not to mention appalling.

        #1 is a judgement call. There are always tons of opinions about judgement calls, and Americans tend to have all kinds of opinions about anything that involves personal property rights.

    2. Chris80*

      I think this goes back to Parkinson’s Law of Triviality. The smaller, simpler issues can generate more discussion because more people are familiar with them than the more complicated issues. Not many people here will have had experience with filling out two timecards to avoid being paid overtime, but nearly everyone will have an opinion on cell phones in the workplace.

  19. Stevie*

    #1 I’ve heard it said many times that cell phones are one of the most bacteria-ridden surfaces in our everyday lives. If the OP is working with food, couldn’t the manager argue that it is a board of health issue to not have them in the kitchen?
    Of course, the best solution here is to just lock it up before your shift starts.

    1. RLS*

      TY! I just wrote out a long rant and decided not to do it; this was exactly something I cited: preventing spread of disease is much more important than having your phone on you.

      1. Jamie*

        Money is pretty bacteria laden, also. It’s better to police handling habits than items, because that’s a losing battle.

        1. Chinook*

          Most food places I have worked at do ensure, though, that the person handling the money is not the one making the food. Those that have one person doing both seem to have gloves available for making the food. Keeping cellphones away from the food handler should be a no-brainer.

          1. Courtney*

            I have a friend who “named” her phone BIBOD which stands for the Bacteria-infested Brick of Disease

          2. Jessa*

            Every food service place I ever worked at had a rule that if you ever went from cash to food you had to very obviously wash your hands where customers could see you do it (we had a front sink for handwashing,) not just in the lav. You also had to do that when coming back behind the counter from somewhere. Even if you washed up in the lav or somewhere else. You never go from cash to food without washing. That’s just normal.

  20. J*

    WTF kind of policy requires you to notify your current department that you’re applying to other internal opportunities? Given this and your other company mishap I would run away from this company.

      1. Erik*

        I had this in a previous company. My new manager spoke with my current one and mentioned that I was interested in the new position. Standard operating procedure.

  21. Tony in HR*

    To OP #4-
    California is MORE strict with OT laws. If you work over forty hours a week, 10 hours in a day, or on the seventh day of the pay week, you need to be paid OT for those hours. Sounds like your coworker deserves a minimum of 3 hours OT a week, and probably closer to nine if he works 40 hours outside the “morning shift.”

    Advise your employer that “What we’re doing with the morning shift is illegal, and we’ll have to pay OT plus fees, plus deal with a wage audit, if we don’t correct it.” The state of CA will come in and audit you if it’s reported to them, and it only takes one disgruntled employee to prompt it.

  22. RedStateBlues*

    #4 Arrrgh! I’m so sick of these cheapskates looking to skirt around the system to not pay overtime. Business owners, there is plenty of middle ground between not wanting to pay overtime and cheating your employees out of it.

  23. Elizabeth West*

    Alison, in #2 you have “Online portolios” instead of portfolios.

    Although I kind of like portolios…it looks exotic. :D

  24. Elizabeth West*

    #7–I believed they were operating in good faith so I did not get the agreement in writing.

    *in the voice of Judge Judy* Always get it in writing!!

  25. Kerr*

    #4: Do some managers think that employees don’t have Google? Seriously, making someone work an 11-hour day without OT is just crummy.

    OP, you may be aware of this already, but in California, overtime generally kicks in after 8 hours worked in a single day, not just after 40 hours in a week. Your coworker should know this, in case the owner decides to “avoid” paying OT by cutting his hours, but still asking him to work a couple of 11-hour days. Even if he works just *one* day a week, if he works more than 8 hours on that day, he should still be paid OT. This link might be helpful:

  26. Not So NewReader*

    I am amazed at all the cell phone posts. I think the problem is not ” a sense of entitlement” but rather a “sense of desperation” that we have not seen in a long time. Separating a person from their cell phone is similar to mortally wounding them- for some people. I have seen meltdowns in the work place because of the cell phone issue.
    So yes, 15 years ago we function fairly well without cell phones. But I am wondering are we all more scared now than we were 15 years ago?

    I hear the fear over and over- what if there is an accident? what if there is an emergency? what if…. I think we have all grown a little more catastrophe aware. Sadly, not only were cell phones useless after certain events so were land lines. In 2001 I could not make an outgoing call for three days on my LAND LINE. Our cell phones cannot not be our Plan A and Plan B. We have to have a secondary plan if our cells don’t work or if we can’t access our cells.

    More recently, we have had situations up here where our rescue crews were tied up at major “events”. (fire, crime scenes) There were very few people left to attend to additional incidents. An added layer of complexity- just because you can call for help that does not necessarily mean help will be there soon.

    Could be just me. But somehow I don’t think cell phones are the real issue here. I think the real issue is having a Plan B. Without a Plan B, yeah, the cell phone is going to be The Plan.

    Katie the Fed- I am agreeing with you plus some. I think that everyone should have an alternative plan that does not entail relying on a cell phone. It just makes sense. It’s a tough world out there.

    1. jesicka309*

      YES. Thank goodness for you and Katie the Fed. I was beginning to think all the commenters here at AAM had attachment issues with their phones, and reading over the comments in the last 18 hours….arrrrg.
      Imagine if you were having surgery….and your surgeon had their cell phone on them… you know, ‘just in case’ there was an emergency? How about your child’s teacher? Can you imagine either of those people checking their cells and saying ‘oh crap, the babysitter’s cancelled. Got to go, byyyyyeeeee!’ No.

      And for the people complaining about the blanket rule…I can see this conversation happening:
      “Jane, you can’t have your phone on your person while working.”
      “But Susie has her phone.”
      “She doesn’t use it on shift. You do.”
      “Oh yeah sure, you CAUGHT me. She uses her phone all the time, you just don’t see her. It’s not fair to punish me for something everyone is doing.”
      Just, just grrr. Usually there are so many smart people on AAM, but many of them have turned into fearful whiners at the thought of not being contactable, or having their ‘rights’ violated by having a valuable item stored in a safe place!
      Thanks for being voices of reason, Not so New Reader and Katie the Fed (and others who have the same rational views).

      1. doreen*

        “Jane, you can’t have your phone on your person while working.”
        “But Susie has her phone.”
        “She doesn’t use it on shift. You do.”
        “Oh yeah sure, you CAUGHT me. She uses her phone all the time, you just don’t see her. It’s not fair to punish me for something everyone is doing.”

        I don’t have to imagine this happening. Something similar happened to me. An employee was caught bringing an iPad into the jail and claimed I was picking on her because other people brought their phones in and I just hadn’t caught them. The person in question later claimed to hear “someone’s” phone ringing and actually expected me to have the correction officers search all the employees and their bags to see whose it was. The thing is, she could have been right. Maybe the others were just better at hiding it from me.

        I actually thought my kids’ schools had a good policy- you can’t have a phone in school , but “I can’t do anything about what I don’t see or hear.” But that only helps if you really are only going to use the phone before and after work.It won’t work if you must leave it turned on and answer calls/look at texts to see if it’s an emergency. Because you won’t know whether the call/text is an emergency until then- my phone doesn’t ring differently when my son is calling to tell me he was in a car accident than it would if he were calling ask me what’s for dinner or if my car dealer was calling to reschedule a service appointment …

      2. Rana*

        “by having a valuable item stored in a safe place” under the control of another person – that’s the part that concerns me.

        Is it really that impossible to understand why someone might not want to give up control of something valuable in that fashion? Are you required to give your boss your purse and car keys to lock away for you during the day? How about your medications? How about your birth certificate?

        For some people, their phones are more than handy e-toys; they are vitally important to that person’s ability to conduct their lives outside of work, and it is reasonable to be concerned about the possibility that they might not be able to get it back when they need it.

        It doesn’t even take a forgetful or vindictive boss to raise that scenario – imagine a situation where the boss – the only one with the key – has to go to the hospital. Where does that leave everyone else?

        I have no problem with people being restricted from using their cells at work, or being required to lock them up. I have a big problem with the idea that we should all be fine with ceding control over our valuables just because the employer is too cheap to provide a safe way for employees to secure their own property themselves.

        1. Laura*

          I don’t know if you can make a distinction between employees under and over the age of eighteen, but a high schooler’s functional life does not fall apart because they have no phone. They feel socially devastated, and they can’t play games.

          That’s pretty much it.

          Plenty of schools remove phones from students for quite a length of time. And they kids don’t die. I thought it was quite unbelievable. Kids would give me verbal excuses about emergencies that had transpired that kept them from turning in work. I would tell them they hadn’t notified me ahead of time via email. I thought that’s why they HAD to have that precious phone. For emergencies.

      3. Ruffingit*

        I find the attachment to cell phones these days practically pathological. It’s like an addiction for some people. I frequently leave my cell on silent or off or I leave it in some part of the house where I can’t hear it and it only occurs to me to go look at it halfway through the day.

        I have heard this argument many times from my mother about emergencies. The poor woman hasn’t slept a full night forever because people call her all the time just to chat. She has many friends and has issues with not answering a ringing phone. I have told her to turn the phone off. She then drags out the “But what if it’s one of you kids (we’re all adults now) and it’s an emergency?” As I’ve told her, there is nothing she could do at 2 a.m. to handle any emergencies anyway. She would have to wait until at least the next morning or the day after that to fly out of the tiny town she lives in to be anywhere near any of us, all of whom live several states away.

        I have actually been called by both my parents with medical emergencies and I don’t trot out that excuse because, as I said, there is nothing I can do to help immediately anyway so leaving the phone on all night long while I’m trying to sleep “just in case” makes no sense. In both cases of my parents calling me with their medical emergencies, I got the message the next morning and flew out that day. Which is what I would have done anyway so why have sleep interrupted?

        1. AG*

          I don’t know what kind of phone your mother has, but the newest iPhone operating system has “do not disturb” that blocks calls from all numbers except ones that you specifically allow. So she could set it before bed to block all numbers except her close family.

        2. Another teacher*

          Nothing in the OP’s question indicates that the phone is needed for emergencies or that there’s a concern about the value of personal property.

          This is a service-sector position, likely working face-to-face with customers and handling food. In jobs like these, it is very common for employees to lock up their personal belongings, and as AAM said, “Your boss can absolutely require you not to have a cell phone on your person while you’re working.”

  27. Josh*

    What the heck is with the attitude, “my boss wants me to do something I don’t want to, it must be illegal!”

  28. Hooptie*

    #1 – I guess I would lean in the direction of being mad at my co-worker for creating the circumstances rather than threatening my boss with a lawsuit.

  29. Anonymoose*

    I once did a temp job for a company that had a cell phone policy like this. Had to hand them over to the floor supervisor or whatever she was. She kept them all in her desk and you got them back at the end of the day. In the mornings, there’d a line of people waiting to hand in their phones.

    I didn’t have a cell phone then, but I did have a child in elementary school. I asked for the direct number to the phone on my desk, to give to her school for emergencies. I was told I wasn’t permitted any personal calls and would have to give the direct number for that floor supervisor – but here’s the best part: if the school actually called her for an emergency she would take a message AND GIVE IT TO ME ON MY BREAK. Not come and get me, but wait until the corporate-sanctioned break opportunity to relay a message. (Twice a day we were allowed to get up, en masse, and go outside for breaks. That’s when you’d get your message, if you had one.)

    Man, that was such a weird company. We researched tax stuff – liens, auctions, etc., and they had every website on the planet blocked except for the ones specifically cleared for doing that tax work. So while I ate my lunch, “for fun” I’d look up property taxes in Manhattan, Beverly Hills, etc. Whoopee.

    It was all very Joe Versus the Volcano at that place.

    1. Stevie*

      That’s crazy!! But we can only hope that OP’s manager is a relatively compassionate person who would let someone talk to her on the business line in case of a real emergency.

    2. Ruffingit*

      WHAT THE HELL??? That is so bizarre. If your kid was having an emergency as in a seizure or something where you needed to get there ASAP to deal with it, you need to know that NOW. Not on the break. How weird. Glad you’re not there anymore.

    3. Jessa*

      This is the point, even though there are lines to get through to people nowadays there are actually companies out there that do not actually GIVE you the emergency message in a timely manner because they think their business needs are more important than your life.

      1. jennie*

        To the business, its needs ARE more important than your personal life. I’m sure these policies are implemented based on experience dealing with trivial messages and people would use common sense during a true emergency. If someone called saying your kid was on the way to the hospital, they’d probably give you the message immediately. If your kid scraped his knee, maybe it can wait until your next break.

  30. Cassie*

    I once visited a manufacturing facility (for a tech company) for work and before we went in, we had to turn over our cellphones – I guess it’s because they’re afraid people will take photos and steal company secrets.

    What I’m curious about (I skimmed the comments but didn’t see anything on this) – what’s to stop an employee from just keeping the cellphone in a pocket? Maybe not with skinny jeans or leggings, or if you have a Galaxy Tab, but I imagine some people could get away with hiding their phone in their pocket.

    At any rate, I’m siding with the employer – if you don’t like the policy on phones, then don’t work there. It’s not like jury duty at a courthouse that doesn’t allow camera phones. This happened to me several years ago, before smartphones, and because I took the bus, I couldn’t just leave the phone in the car. I had to dig out my really old candybar phone just for jury duty…

  31. Lesa*

    Maybe someone already said this, but I was frustrated by the number of people who seemed surprised or even angry about any restriction to accessing their cell phone at work. Regarding the responses to the young person who was upset that her manager wanted to lock up her cell phone while she was at work, I am often surprised at the number of people who believe that they can carry phones in any job and that any restriction must be illegal. There are any number of positions where having a phone would be restricted, even to bringing it to the job or into the building. Phones are often considered a safety problem or a contaminant (think operating heavy equipment or manufacturing or pharmaceutical production) or considered a security risk (think proprietary manufacturing processes). In most situations, as Alison often advises, the employee typically has to follow the requirements of the manager/employer. As an employee you are selling your skills, time, and attention to the employer in exchange for money. You’ll be happier at work if you think of all the other freedoms as gravy rather than entitlements.

  32. Megan*

    Can a manager take away you locker key with your personal belongings in and keep it for the shift in their staff room locked up?

  33. gingerbookgoddess*

    What I don’t understand is why people think we might want to look at their phones. When I was student teaching I did need to confiscate a few cell phones. If the student was worried I would snoop, I would let them take the battery, but I got the phone. They could have it back after school. I always explained that I had much better things to do than look through their texts. I would really rather not know what a random teen is texting.

  34. tamra*

    Please would you direct me some where to get an answer….on the job no cell phones….1 morning just arriving to work my cell rang…employer went off…cell phones goes on a shelf and stays there during work hours… my only coworkers phone rang twice standing beside our employer…an hour into our shift… Employer didn’t say a word…coworker reached in her pocket and silenced her phone both times….I know it feels unfair but is there a law to address this? This is just 1 incident in how this employer is biased towards the other employee…I’m mortified to be treated so differently and hate making a fuss but seriously I’m at my lowest point regarding this….Thank you~Tamra

Comments are closed.