fired without warning, employers with spelling errors, and more

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

1. Am I being too nit-picky over an employer’s spelling error?

Recently, an accounting/tax office opened up in my neighborhood. I considered applying until I noticed..the store banner reads “ACCOUTING SERVICES.”

I had a discussion about this with some people–they think I shouldn’t be too picky to apply there. My view is that if a company can spend so much money on a store sign, the very least they can do is make sure everything is spelled properly. To me, the error signifies carelessness, and unprofessionalism. Just like my resume and cover letter should be free of misspellings and grammatical mistakes, so should a store’s billboard.

If a company can be so careless with that, how can I be sure that as service providers to members of the community, they will do their job properly, and that they treat their employees fairly?

I agree with you that it indicates sloppiness, but we don’t have enough information to know anything more than that. Is it indicative of how they generally operate? Did it happen because the person who normally proofreads is swamped with other work? Is the manager struggling with failing eyesight? We can certainly conclude that this place probably doesn’t run like a really well-oiled machine, a model of professionalism and care, but without having more context, we can’t really say whether the tax work they do is sloppy — and we definitely can’t know anything about how they treat their employees (since attention to detail and fairness aren’t strongly correlated).

The best thing to do is to take it as one data point of many — don’t ignore it, but don’t let it be your entire decision either. Apply, interview, and keep your eyes open for other red flags.

2. I was fired without any warning

A few months ago I accepted a job at a small family-owned company. I immediately felt uncomfortable and quickly found out it was a hostile work environment. Daily, I observed the owner yelling at my boss and slamming doors and cursing loudly while I was dealing on the phone with customers. I kept my distance and acted professionally. Although I disliked the job this did not affect my performance and I was praised by customers and coworkers by my service.

This past Friday, I was let go without warning. My boss claimed that there have been complaints, but nothing was very bought to my attention, and this all came without warning. During our meeting where she told me I was being let go I asked why nothing was never brought to my attention and she just kept unprofessionally dodging the questions saying they are an at-will employer. Although this was a “at-will employer,” don’t they need to give me documentation or need to bring issues to my attention before just abruptly firing me? I am seriously bothered about how this was handled and I feel it was completely unprofessional and unethical.

Nope. There’s no law that requires employers to warn you before firing you. In general, they should; it’s good management practice to give people feedback and let them know if their job is in jeopardy — both because you might actually get the improvement you want and because you don’t want other employees to worry that they could be fired without warning too.

(While I’m destroying your beliefs about employment law, I’ll also add that while this might be a workplace that felt hostile, it doesn’t sound like a “hostile workplace” in the legal sense, which requires discrimination based on race, religion, sex, or other protected class.)

3. Asking for more time to pump breast milk at work

I have trouble expressing myself and need some direction treading through this problem. I work as a bank teller in a busy branch that just went through a merger, so nearly all my coworkers and managers have been working with me for only two months. I’m a nursing mom of a 6-month-old though, and I’m having trouble finding time to pump with how busy this place has become.

The only laws I can find for my state (Pennsylvania) say that employers must provide “reasonable time” for nursing moms to express milk, but don’t say how much time. My employer’s disability company sent me a letter when I was coming back from my 6-week maternity leave, stating that “nursing mother’s rights allow up to 20 minutes unpaid at least every three hours to express breast milk.” Often I work 6+ hours and can only pump once because we can’t have more than one teller away from the counters, so I have to work around everyone else’s lunches. I always work 3.5-4 hours on Saturdays and never get to pump on those days. Today I worked for 7 hours and was only able to pump once, after having breast milk leak all over me. Now I have a clogged duct and that can lead to medical problems.

How can I tactfully let my superiors know that I need a more reasonable schedule to pump? I’ve never asked for any kind of accommodation for anything. I don’t want to come off as being too demanding, but I really do not want an infection in my breast because I have to wait so long to pump.

Just be factual and direct: “The letter I received from our disability company when I returned to work said that I should have up to 20 minutes every three hours to pump. I need to start taking that time. What is the best way to coordinate to make sure we have coverage?” This isn’t demanding; it’s just straightforward.

4. Should I be reimbursed for using my cell phone and personal laptop?

I have a question regarding reimbursement for the use of personal equipment as a communications consultant working full-time and on-site with an organization. Recently, I accepted a independent contractor position with a local company and have been in this role for about a month. Although I am expected to be working on-site everyday, the organization has yet to provide me with a fully functional computer and/or phone. They have set up a desktop in my office, but it lacks basic software (including Microsoft Office) and is worthless for anything other than browsing the Internet. As a result, I have been using my personal laptop and cell phone every day to accomplish tasks on behalf of this organization. (It is worth noting that this was NOT the expectation that was communicated to me when I was hired, and they are aware that I am using my own equipment because what they have provided is lacking.)

Is there an acceptable (and tasteful) way to request reimbursement for the usage of my personal devices on the invoices that I regularly submit to the organization? Or do you even think there is sufficient reason for me to do so? Your thoughts on the matter would be greatly appreciated.

You can absolutely submit for reimbursement of any work-related cell phone charges — but probably not for your personal laptop, since that’s not an additional expense you’ve incurred.

However, are you sure you’re correctly categorized as an independent contractor? If you are, you might be expected to cover your own expenses (depending on the nature of your contract — or, lacking a contract (which I hope isn’t the case), the arrangement you agreed to). But there are details here that make me question whether your employer has correctly and legally categorized you — because working on-site every day is a big factor pointing toward you really being an employee. (That said, the IRS guidelines are not black and white; you can read them here.)

5. Unexpected mileage reimbursement check after an interview

About a month ago, I had an interview out of state and was turned down for the job. It is a company that I would definitely still like to work for, and might apply to again when I have more experience. I was surprised today to receive a mileage reimbursement check in the mail, since travel reimbursement was never mentioned. (I had traveled 250 miles.) I am wondering whether I should just go ahead and accept this as normal, or whether I should send a thank you to my contact in HR?

Send a thank-you! There’s never any harm in being gracious and thanking people. Don’t go overboard, obviously — but there’s nothing wrong with a quick email saying something like, “Thanks so much for the mileage reimbursement check for my interview, which I just received. It was a pleasant surprise, and I appreciate it!”

6. I don’t want to take my break so early in my shift

One of my shift managers at work almost always make me take my “lunch” break really early in my shift. Let’s say it’s an 8 hour shift, he’ll make me take it roughly 2 hours in. I’ve mentioned how early it was, but what else can I do? I’m in California.

California requires that you be provided with a 30-minute meal break no later than the end of your fifth hour of work — but as far as I can see, doesn’t doesn’t say anything more about when it must be offered, which means that your manager can indeed have you take your break just two hours in. (However, if your shift is 10 hours or more, you must be provided with a second break no later than the end of that tenth hour.) That said, you could certainly try asking him if you can take your break later in your shift; sometimes just asking will get you what you want (or will at least get you an explanation of why it’s not possible).

7. Listing a reference who was laid off

I have a question about listing job references. I wanted to list a particular person who has a great professional background, knows my skills and work ethic well, and has already enthusiastically offered to be a reference, except I recently found out that they were laid off from our company days ago because the organization is struggling financially (I should note that I’m an unpaid intern). Would it be awkward for me to list them? When putting them down on my list of references, should I write “former [insert position here]” and list their personal email and phone number (which they volunteered) or is there a smoother way to do this? I also have two other great recommendations from this internship, so should I perhaps not include this third reference at all?

It’s completely fine to list references who have moved on from the job where you worked with them, even if they were laid off. Reference-checkers don’t really care about the reference’s current work situation; they care that they can speak with some nuance about your work.

The way you suggested listing this person is precisely right — name, former position, and contact info. (That said, if you’re already offering up two other references from that same internship, three might be overkill. But make sure one of those is a manager.)

{ 157 comments… read them below }

  1. Jeff*

    Re: #6

    I know that in CA, you’re only entitled to a 30-minute unpaid break once you’ve worked 4 hours. The way I’ve always seen that interpreted by HR is that the break can’t come before that mark, and that it comes at every four hours. So, if you’re taking your break two hours in, you’d have to take another unpaid break at hour 6.5 and at no later than hour 7.5. I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not sure whether that’s how it’s supposed to be interpreted (my guess is the latter part isn’t really enforceable) but that’s been my understanding.

    In what Alison has said, though, I think one way the law is supposed to be interpreted is that there is never supposed to be a point where an employee works more than 5 consecutive hours without an unpaid break. That’s not happening if you’re taking your break two hours in for a half hour. As Alison always says, talking directly to your superviser is probably the best way to address this, and see if there’s a reason why they’re having you take your break so early, and see if it can be moved more toward the middle of your shift.

    1. Kethryvis*

      iirc, California also requires breaks as well… one 15 minute break if your shift is four hours or less, and two 15 minute breaks if you are working more than four hours (or something similar). When i’ve worked for places that have regimented how to take these breaks, it’s usually: work 2 hours, take 15 minute break. Work two more hours, take lunch. Work two more hours, take 15 minute break. Work two more hours, clock out.

      Are you sure you’re being sent on your lunch, and not your break? And if they are sending you on your lunch, are you getting your break(s)?

      1. Kevin*

        Hi Kethryvis,

        I’m the person who emailed this question. Within the ~2 hours, that particular manager I’m talking about has me take my first 15 min AND my lunch break. This is just one of the things that directly affects me about this manager but he’s done so much more questionable/illegal things but he still has a job probably from the fact that my main boss can’t find someone to replace him for the closing shifts. Complete nonsense in my opinion.

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Generally, at least in places I’ve done shift work, the requirement is that you must have the lunch sometime during your shift if you work a 4 (or 6) hour shift or more.

      When I scheduled breaks in fast food, I’d often have people take their lunch 2 hours in. It’s better to get it 2 hours into your shift than 2 hours from the end, and at least for daytime shifts the 4 hour mark is just often not possible (since that would be in the middle of lunch rush, usually).

      By all means, OP can ask if they can have their lunch later. But I suspect that the manager knows that everyone would prefer that, and will tell them it’s not possible.

    1. Sophia*

      I think Alison has addressed this – ask another person and caveat it with the info that your manager has passed away

  2. Carrie in Scotland*

    #1 could be a firm where English is not their 1st language and have perhaps not realised the sign is incorrect (due to translation?)

    1. OP #1*

      No, English may not be the first language, but I don’t think that’s any excuse to spell the business name incorrectly. Also, I am assuming that it would be seen by several people before it ever goes up/into should have been caught no?

        1. Anon Accountant*

          I took it also as a 3rd party printing ad and perhaps a lack of budget to have it reprinted. Although the printer that made the error should correct it without charging the customer for the printer’s error, some will still charge the customer.

          I may be wrong but I’m thinking that a 3rd party made the sign/advertisement.

        2. Jazzy Red*

          This is a store banner, and if it was made by a printer, the owner should have noticed the mistake and taken it back. The printer should have replaced it free of charge (that’s what reputable printers do).

          1. Jessa*

            It could also be that they know about it and are arguing with the printer to get it fixed, and regrettably well while you’re doing that any sign may be better than none at all. Otherwise people might think the place is empty.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        OP, yes this mistake should have been caught. It is unprofessional, and I would never have my taxes done by this firm.

        All of us make judgements based on whatever information we have at that time, which is why first impressions are so important. Sometimes we can’t afford to give someone a second chance, and sometimes we just don’t want to.

        1. EngineerGirl*

          I have a totally different view. Yes, this should have been caught. But I also know that numbers and spelling reside in two different parts of the brain. I know a LOT of engineers that are excellent with numbers that couldn’t spell their way out of a box.

          I’d bring it to their attention and see what they do with it. If they are horrified and fix it then they care about excellence.

          One thing I’ve noticed is that people who are excellent writers tend to judge others intelligence by how well they write – ignoring all other factors. I’m not sure why this is. But it reflects poorly on anyone to judge on only one characteristic. Look deeper, then make the decision.

          And may I never judge your entire intelligence on how well you do math.

          1. Liz*

            I’ll admit that I do judge based on writing skills too, but this isn’t a writing skill, it’s a basic typographic error that should have been easily caught by spellcheck, and this is why you should always have at least two pairs of eyes on copy for every sign or promotional ad.

            For me, the lack of basic spell-checking (which is, let’s face it, a feature available everywhere these days) as a big deal, especially for someone like an accountant for whom “attention to detail” is a major requirement. Like previous posters, I’d be reluctant to trust them with my finances. I hadn’t thought of checking their response to notification of the banner error though.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Yeah, I would chalk it up as a typo. And since the brain tends to fill in missing letters when we read, perhaps nobody noticed it.

              I would definitely point it out, in a nice way–“Your banner looks nice, but I think the printer may have left out a letter.” See what they say. Their reaction may tell you a lot.

            2. Chinook*

              Having worked for auditors, who are a subset of accountants and one of the few professional groups I have had the pelasure of debating the appropriate use of the Oxford comma with, there is no excuse for mispelling your industry in a huge sign. If you know your strength is numbers and not words (which, if you have your own business, I would hope you would be both experienced enough and self aware enough to recognize), then you need to ensure you hire people who can cover your weaknesses.

              I would also be reluctant to use a business like this for my accounting needs. It shows a lack of attention to detail and, when you consider that some tax documents use letters with numbers, saying you are better with numbers just doesn’t wash.

            3. EngineerGirl*

              How do you spell-check a banner? It’s not exactly electronic.

              I’d be more concerned about their knowledge of tax codes and their ability to balance a spread sheet. Neither of those require the ability to spell perfectly.

              1. Tyrion*

                But they do require a sharp eye and attention to detail. Obviously they know how to spell accountant, so missing that error indicates a lack of both.

              2. Jessa*

                Most of them are now laid out on a computer system. There are very few companies (even those that still hand paint them,) that don’t do some sort of computerised layouts now. Simply because even for professional use the software is relatively cheap and it’s a lot easier than doing all the hand draughting layout routines.

                1. JuliB*

                  And typically you will receive a jpg via email for review prior to it being cut (if vinyl) or screened.

                  So, if the order was approved, the sign shop is not responsible.

            1. Fee*

              Oops, too slow with my reply there: I mean guilty of the prejudice EngineerGirl mentions. I definitely spellcheck everything :)

          2. virago*

            I know an E.R. physician who’s great at his job but is pretty much dyslexic when it comes to printing and spelling.

            He has a dictionary that allows him to look up words by their most common misspelling, which makes sense if you think about it. He said to me once (his wife and I are friends): “If I don’t know how to spell a word to begin with, how can I look it up in the dictionary?”

            1. Chinook*

              That ER physician is a wise man because he recognizes his weakness and knows how to compensate. And he is right that a paper dictionary is counterintuitive for those with dyslexia. Electronic dictionaries must be heaven sent for them because it can look up a word based on the entire word and not just the beginning.

          3. AdminAnon*

            “One thing I’ve noticed is that people who are excellent writers tend to judge others’ intelligence by how well they write – ignoring all other factors”

            I am SO guilty of this. Thanks for pointing it out–it’s definitely true that not every intelligent person can write/spell well. We all have different skills. Hell, I can’t do anything beyond basic math without tears and a calculator. I’m making a mental note to be more cognizant of my bias. Thanks EngineerGirl!

          4. Chinook*

            “One thing I’ve noticed is that people who are excellent writers tend to judge others intelligence by how well they write – ignoring all other factors. I’m not sure why this is.”

            You are absolutely right. When I first started ESL, the hardest prejudice I had to get over was judging intelligence based on communication skills. Just because you have the vocabulary of a native speaker at age 6 doesn’t mean you can’t have a PhD in your own language.

          5. OP #1*

            If you got a resume where the person’s own field/industry was misspelled, would you give hte resume a second look?

            It’s not about judging intelligence–typos happen, hell I’m sure I’ve made several in my comments–it’s about attention to what I think is a pretty huge detail.

            and as others below have pointed out, it is not a huge jump to wonder if they would be this sloppy with their work product.

            1. fposte*

              Yes, if otherwise the package was strong, I would definitely give such a resume a second look. I’m not just looking to find disqualifications, I’m looking at the whole of the application and balancing the strengths and the weaknesses.

              1. VintageLydia*

                I think in an industry where attention to detail is paramount, I would have no problem passing over this company both as a client or an applicant. Making sure your main signage is correct isn’t a whole lot to ask for.

              2. NBB*

                Oh brother. That isn’t what the OP is saying at all. It’s a huge leap from a “perfect company that never makes a single error” to a company that makes a big, obvious, and very preventable mistake.

              1. De Minimis*

                They might have refused…I could see them having a policy that sales were final and it was the responsibility of the customer to ensure everything was correct.

                Although it makes them look foolish, I don’t know that it necessarily means they would be a poor choice for clients or employees. Even though it might indicate a lack of attention to detail, the error involves something that is not directly related to the work that they do.

                1. fposte*

                  Yeah, if it’s from a client-supplied file, the printer isn’t likely to remake it for free. I suppose it’s possible that there are some places that re-input text rather than working from the file, but I only know the “send us the file” kind.

            2. Andrew*

              For every potential customer who doesn’t care about large, obvious careless mistakes there is another who does care, very much. This firm is signaling that it is willing to write off potential business. Terrible impression to leave.

          6. The gold digger*

            people who are excellent writers tend to judge others intelligence by how well they write

            I have met many smart people who are not good writers, but have not met any good writers who are not pretty bright.

          7. The IT Manager*

            Here’s the thing about something like this. Signs and publicity documents should be given an extra attention. If you don’t review these kinds of things, why should I think you review my tax return.

            My IMs have atrocious spelling errors and typos. I don’t stress it. My emails are better. Official documents get reviewed several times before they are sent out.

            It’s not a matter of judging intelligence. It’s a matter of judging attention to detail and knowing when output needs to double and triple checked.

            The same logic applies to companies chossing to throw out a resume for a typo. A resume should be triple checked and reviewed by someone else before it is sent out.

        2. Dry White Whine*

          Worst one I ever saw was ‘Pubic Office’. On a building. This was before the interwebs, would probably have gon viral these days.

      2. Sydney Bristow*

        I recently toured a launch control center where the US’s minuteman missiles could be launched in case of a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The emergency hatch in the elevator was spelled “emergancy.” Everyone makes mistakes. It’s one piece of info to keep in mind, but I wouldn’t blacklist a company for that alone.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          And in that case, I’d totally agree with their obvious decision not to get a new one printed; it gets the gist across, and printing new stuff costs money.

          I’m not sure you can make the same argument about the sign, but if it was a large, expensive sign, and their error (as opposed to the printers’), I could see them needing to save up to get a new one. Or it could be temporary, and a new sign is being made right now.

      3. fposte*

        It was probably just seen by the person who placed the order and the banner business. That’s pretty common.

        And speaking as an editor myself, I support your right to pass on any job you please, but I encourage you to rethink this standard. I can promise you that there are egregious misspellings, mispunctuations, and grammar atrocities somewhere in the signs and public documents of every single firm you’ll apply to. There’s really no predictable correlation of a single sign’s typo with the accounting skills and work ethics of a firm. If you go inside and the place is a tip, the employees are scowling, and the flyers are all blurry photocopies, then the sign is part of a larger issue, and that’s when to be concerned.

        1. Anonymous*

          How about a national organization which brags about offering “World Class Sevrice!”
          It’s not the only place they need to use spell-check & proof readers, but – …

      4. Vicki*

        Accounting Services is their company name?

        As to whether it should have been caught, I commented later on this page… if the person who sent this to the sign maker didn’t catch the error, the sign maker may have decided it was none of their business to look for or comment on mistakes. That’s been known to happen.

    2. Nodumbunny*

      An optometrist I went to had on her business cards that she offered “optomety” services. Turns out it had been that way for YEARS and they’d never noticed.

  3. ProcReg*

    #1: Keep it as a mental list of red flags. They have the power. But keep track. If you interview, look at the desk of the hiring manager. That will tell you tons.

  4. OP #1*

    Thank you for posting my question Alison. Again I’m not sure if I’m making a big deal about it….I know going from misspelled word = fairness to employees seems like a huge jump but to me it’s the kind of error that makes me wonder, what if they messed around with my paychecks too?

    1. Lacey*

      Its probably a bit unfair, but honestly I would write them off too. Its such a big mistake, and on the store banner? I mean, that’s important. If they didn’t notice, to me that means they’re pretty sloppy (and I’m kind of a perfectionist so I wouldn’t suit that environment), and if they did notice and didn’t care, again, thats a culture I wouldn’t fit into.

      I think it bugs you a lot, and it would bug me too, so just take this as a signal that you and this firm are not meant to be together.

        1. Jamie*

          ITA. In an ad or email it happens. On a banner? Either no one was paying attention or they saw it and just left it.

          I don’t think it speaks to fairness, but it speaks to an environment in which it would be hard for me to function since it kind of screams details aren’t important there.

      1. The IT Manager*

        I agree. Who’d get their taxes done (something that requires attention to detail) someplace that made an error like that? They’ll be out of business soon. In my opinion don’t waste your time applying.

    2. Steve*

      Maybe the banner company made the error. They came out, installed the banner, and then the owner noticed the mistake. The banner company agrees to remake and rehang the banner, but in the meantime the banner with the error flies for a few hours or days. Maybe no one at the company can physically remove the banner themselves and they’re at the mercy of the banner company.

      As Alison says, keep your eyes open, but don’t totally write them off for something that could be something that could have a legitimate issue involved.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        If I were the business owner, I would be too humiliated to have that mis-spelled banner out in front of my business. Everyone would think I don’t pay attention to the little things. If I’m an accountant, that would be a BIG THING.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          You think having a blank storefront (thus ensuring that you’re not getting any walk-in business or drive-past notice at all, because you would just be a nameless faceless building) for a day or two would be better than putting up a banner that with a misspelled word that, if the other comments on this thread are to be trusted, the majority of people would probably not notice at all?

          I think this is one of those things that it’s very easy to say when you don’t own a business, and don’t have someone else ensuring you get paid even if you’re barely working.

          It’s a totally different thing if they conclude that the typo can stay forever because they don’t want to spend money on a new sign. But it’s hard to make payroll if people don’t even know you’re a business.

          1. fposte*

            And around here such banners are usually to identify a newly opened business–without them nobody’s going to realize that the empty bagel shop isn’t still there.

    3. Lynn*

      Ridiculous spelling mistakes get to me in situations like that as well, but I have to point out that there are plenty of employers who treat their employees horribly AND who also utilize spell check admirably. They aren’t mutually exclusive.

      I’m curious to hear how long it takes for them to correct their error!

  5. Kat M*

    “I have trouble expressing myself …”

    I don’t know if this was deliberately written with the double meaning in mind, but it’s a fabulous bit of wordplay if it was. Funniest thing I’ve seen this morning! :D

    1. Al Lo*

      I actually initially thought that the question was going to be about needing an extended amount of time for pumping because of the OP’s trouble expressing herself!

  6. LOLwhut*

    #2 (Fired without warning)- I was in the EXACT same situation as you, with the same outcome. The lesson I took away is to be very, very careful about working for small, family-owned businesses. Some of them are wonderful places, I’m sure, but a good many operate this way. No HR, no clearly-defined personnel procedures, rampant employee abuse, and the owner is God. They’re good places to steer clear of if you have any other options.

    1. Anonymous*

      I don’t think this has anything to do with this being a small family owned business, I think its just the nature of at-will employment. This is why you are supposed to have money to cover you until unemployment can take over which could be up to 6 weeks in some states. My boss recently let go 2 people and told everyone still here that it had nothing to do with their work as they always produced good work and were competent at their jobs. It was a personality thing and the owner said they ‘didn’t care enough’. Although true of one of them, but not the other. Each person said it came out of left field and they had no warning. The owner claims they had PIPs and written warnings. The reality, (which we all believe) is that he had circular conversations expressing his concern about each and this conversation was the PIP / written warning since he wrote down that the convo happened in their files. You can be fired any time for any reason. You can be fired in any way they choose fit, they can claim you were formally warned from a passing conversation. It doesn’t matter, #2 should let it go and move on. Unethical yes, illegal no. Feel free to write something on glassdoor to warn others about the hostility and sudden firing though as others may want this info before getting a job there. Keep it to the facts though so that it you are not writing anything libelous. And don’t sign in with facebook.

      1. Whippers*

        I’m in the UK and to be honest employment law doesn’t make a big difference to small businesses; a lot of the time they break the law and no one holds them to account because it’s not worth their while. I have worked with large businesses and small, family owned businesses and the latter are by far the worse, for all the reasons mentioned by Lolwhut.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Same in the US. I have seen employment law broken over and over again at family-owned businesses. Happens at others too, I know, but it’s amazing how frequent it is with family-owned ones specifically.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Yes, and I wouldn’t worry about the complaint thing. It sounds like an excuse to me. This company seems to be in the throes of something unpleasant and unfortunately, the OP got caught in the crossfire. They may have wanted her/him out of there so Uncle Bob’s nephew could have the job, they may have decided to cut the position to save money, or any one of a dozen things. It’s true they didn’t handle it very well at all. Since OP wasn’t there very long, I wouldn’t even put this one on my resume.

        *was in a similar situation, but quit*

        1. LOLwhut*

          I hear that a lot, about not putting a short stint on your resume (mine was five months). I always wonder though, would a five-month gap look just as bad? What do I say in an interview if I’m asked about those five months? I’m employed now (by another family owned business… thankfully this one isn’t quite as much of a hellhole) but I know I’ll be sending out resumes eventually.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            To me, a five-month gap would raise far fewer concerns (none, really) than leaving a job after five months (assuming it wasn’t intended to be short-term).

            1. LOLwhut*

              Fair enough, but what should I say at an interview if I’m asked about that gap? Do I reveal that I was at that job for five months, or try to be vague?

              1. Whippers*

                Yes, and if you’re not going to reveal that job; what do you say when you’re asked why you left the job before that one? The reason obviously being that you left it to take up the job which is not on your resume.

                1. Rana*

                  Well, presumably there was a reason you left the earlier job that wasn’t simply that a new job opened up. There had to be something about that earlier one that made you look for something else in the first place, right?

                2. Whippers*

                  @Rana. Well yes but most people don’t leave their jobs unless they’ve got something else lined up or the problem at their current job is really severe. So saying “I was looking for new challenges” doesn’t really make sense if you had nothing to go to after you left your job. I think that’s gonna raise more questions than it answers.

                3. Whippers*

                  I suppose you could say that you left it for a job offer that fell through? But, again a new employer might want to verify that.

    2. Mike C.*

      Seriously, when I read that letter my first thought was, “Welcome to the wonderful world of small, family operated businesses!”

      1. Anon Accountant*

        Same here! And where employees that don’t complete assignments but are buddies with the owner or owners family are held up on a pedestal. No matter how well you do your job you will never be able to reach their level of greatness (in the owner’s eyes).

        Sorry. I sound a bit jaded there.

        1. Fired wo warning!!*

          Thanks for posting my question! I actually witnessed weird sexual comments, and inappropriate comments about race while I was there. However, none of these were directed at me. I kept a log as well. When my boss let me go she told me that they wouldnt “fight me” if I tried to collect unemployment. But I have spent a majority of my time since then wondering “What did I do?” I’m assuming its useless if I contact a lawyer

          1. fposte*

            OP, keep in mind that employment laws require the business has a certain amount of employees before they apply, so a lot of things that would breach the law in a 100-person organization don’t in a 5-person organization. So depending on your state and the size of the organization, it’s possible these things weren’t a breach of the law anyway.

            And don’t let them scare you into not filing for unemployment. If they contest, they contest, but it doesn’t sound like they would have grounds (and they may not be organized enough to contest in time anyway).

            1. KellyK*

              Absolutely. You were fired without any warning or real reason given, and you deserve unemployment. If they want to fight it, make them actually go through the process.

      2. Lillie Lane*

        Ha ha, exactly! Now, not *all* are like this, but everyone I know that has worked at a small family business has ridiculous stories. My husband told me about an egregious firing at a place he used to work at — they had field crews, and one day one of the workers found a rattlesnake. The crew leader (a very conscientious guy who had been there forever) told the crew to leave the snake alone while he went to find a tool to either kill or relocate the snake. In the meantime, one of the workers had been messing around with the snake and was bitten. So they had to get the guy emergency medical care, which ended up costing a lot. So what did the owner do? He fired the crew leader to “make up for” the cost if the medical bills!

        1. Mike C.*

          Yeah, I don’t miss the extreme penny pinching either. Nothing better than buying all of our lab equipment second hand and facing cuts everywhere only to be treated by a rotating fine art display everywhere in the lab. I did have a Dali print next to my desk for a time, but that was replaced with something much uglier later on.

          1. Lillie Lane*

            Oh my goodness, yes. My husband got a pair of work gloves on the business’s credit at the local hardware store, and they made him pay it back, even though it was for his work at the business.

            Why on earth were they rotating artwork? This was in a lab? How odd.

    3. HR lady*

      #2 – Another way to look at this is that you are going to be better off not working at that place. They almost did you a favor. From what you described, it was a very stressful atmosphere, and not a place that would be good for your (or anyone’s) long term health and satisfaction. So now you get to apply for unemployment and move on to a (hopefully) much better place to work.

      1. Mike C.*

        Sure, except it’s easier to find a job when you have a job and your skills aren’t stagnating and potential employers aren’t wondering, “gosh if this person is so great, why were they fired, oh well, I’ll just renew the job posting instead” and so on.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          They will never know about it if it doesn’t go on the OP’s resume. And for a job of that short a tenure, I wouldn’t bother.

  7. Brett*

    #2 You may not be eligible for unemployment, but apply anyway. Abrupt unprofessional firings deserve taking a hit on their unemployment tax rate.
    #4 Remember that whatever is not reimbursed is at least going to be deductible. You might even be eligible for some depreciation on your laptop (don’t count on it, since your laptop is probably used for personal use too, and check with a tax accountant to be sure).

    #5 This should be an example to other companies that for less than $150 this company now has a leg up recruiting an experienced employee with upside down the road. That could save them a heck of a lot down the road.

    1. Anonymous*

      #2 Depending on the state in the US at least I’d say highly likely to receive unemployment. Usually quitting is the thing that makes you not eligible. But getting fired? Very often eligible.

    2. Anon Accountant*

      In some states you are only ineligible for unemployment regarding a firing if there was misconduct such as you intentionally destroyed company property or hit your boss, for examples.

      But fired for any other reason is usually eligible. If they fight the OP on unemployment, I’d say request a hearing and there’s a good chance the unemployment office will side with the OP, given there wasn’t willful misconduct.

      1. De Minimis*

        Always worth it to file. In many states you have to have willful misconduct to be denied. People often can even be fired for poor performance and still receive benefits, depending on the circumstances.

      2. HAnon*

        As long as you worked for the company long enough, you should be eligible for unemployment (but I think it has to be several months to qualify). I went through this with a previous employer who fired me in the middle of the day without any warning and did not give me a reason (she did this to someone else the same day an hour after she fired me). It’s actually better for the EMPLOYER to document any disciplinary action/conversation they have with an employee and then fire them a few weeks later because when the state investigator inquires about an unemployment claim, they can say “she was officially reprimanded and did not alter her behavior, etc, here’s the documentation.” I’ve been told by the dept of labor in my state (GA) that the unemployment office will usually side with the employee if there was not sufficient warning (documented) and the person was employed long enough (or earned enough $ over that period of time) to qualify. That doesn’t mean that it will happen overnight though — the company will usually contest it, so whatever the unemployment office tells you to do, keep doing it (filing online every week, filling out forms weekly, etc) even if it seems pointless. That will make you more likely to be eligible for back-payments if the company contests before they finally give in.

  8. BCW*

    For #1 I do think you are overreacting. Spelling errors happen. And some people just aren’t good spellers and don’t notice those things, no matter how big the organization.

    I recently saw a picture at a Notre Dame football game where on their souvenir cups in the stadium, they spelled the word “fighting” wrong. Now I’m guessing that the Notre Dame athletic department is bigger than this company. So these things do happen.

    Now again, it could be a bigger sign of organizational problems, or it could have just been a mental error based on trying to get something in by the midnight deadline. Its very possible that the person in charge of that sign had very little to do with detail. But I really don’t see how at all you can assume anything about how they treat their employees. I mean the person who approved that sign may not even work in the office.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      LOL the university where I’m currently taking classes misspelled THEIR OWN NAME on a shipment of book bags. It made the news and everybody on the Internet made fun of them. They gave me a free bag at the bookstore with my texts, and I was so disappointed not to get the messed-up one!

      1. Lalaith*

        To continue the theme of universities screwing up, I knew a girl whose degree said she majored in Music “Compositon”.

    2. Chrissi*

      I often wonder when I see typos like that if the reason they aren’t caught is because people see what they expect to see. I think that’s why typos like the Notre Dame fighting example can get through more than one person – because they’ve seen that phrase a million times and so they “see” what they expect rather than what’s there.

    1. Jazzy Red*

      My former manager has been in a mental hospital for the last 3 years. A couple of older managers have died, and one or two others have dropped off the face of the earth.

      Sometimes just supplying as many references as they want can be a real struggle.

  9. Loose Seal*

    Anyone ever tell someone in the store when you’ve noticed the sign has an error? I mean, I won’t stop and go in if I’m just passing by but if I’m going there anyway, I tell them. I usually get the blankest looks imaginable.

    Although, once I was a secret shopper for a popular fast food drive-in chain. I had to fill in a form every time I went and once in the comments, I noted that they had put “congradulations graduates” on their sign. The next time I went by there, they had changed it. Made me feel as though they at least read their secret shopper forms.

    1. Kelly L.*

      The congradulations thing drives me bats. I suspect it was first done as a pun–“Con-GRAD-ulations!” and the pun was close enough to the real pronunciation that people just started thinking that was how to spell it.

      1. Cat*

        This reminds me of a Hostess Bakery Outlet Store I used to drive by regularly that had a sign that said “Wednesdays Are ‘Bargin’ Day,” complete with scare quotes. My family had a running debate going about whether they misspelled “bargain” and stuck the quotation marks around it to go for a barge-in pun or whether someone had truly intended the pun from the start. My vote was always with the former.

    2. Audiophile*

      Hey Loose Seal,
      I had a friend who went and CHANGED a sign in a store that had a mistake on it. It was a chalkboard and I forget what the error was but it really bugged her and she was very proud of herself.

      1. Cat*

        So call me a bad person, but I was once at an insufferably smug hipster restaurant in Portland, Oregon (seriously, it was straight out of a Portlandia sketch) with the worst service known to humankind. In the interminable wait for our food, I’m not ashamed to say we copyedited the condescending “this is what tempeh is”-type section on the menu. In our defense it was (a) one of those disposable, non-laminated paper menus; and (b) riddled with errors.

        1. Audiophile*

          Haha, I don’t think that makes you a bad person. I probably would have done the same thing. (I’m well known for pointing out issues to people, so much so that I often get asked to proofread emails, blogposts and provide “suggestions” before they get sent off into the ether.)

          This friend of mine can be a little… shall we say obsessive when it comes to grammar and spelling. That was further than I would go, especially since she made them aware of the issue (IIRC). Then when they didn’t fix it in an appropriate time frame, she corrected it herself.

        1. Audiophile*

          I’m not saying it’s wrong or right. I found it amusing. Just not something I would do. She made the correction herself to the chalkboard sign and this was after she had made them aware of the issue in the first place. She did her shopping and went back to check if the correction had been made before she left.

          I’ve found numerous errors in job postings, ads and I can’t say I’ve ever pointed it out. One time in an interview for a communications job, I did point out numerous dead links on this orgs website. The interviewer seemed appreciate.

  10. Anonymous*

    #3. I worked at a busy call center when I was nursing and they would be very busy and not let you take breaks. Anyway, I just told my male manager that unless I took 20 minutes breaks every 3 hours breastmilk will leak everywhere and I would certainly stay later to cover the time I missed, but the conversation made him so uncomfortable he just said “Um ok. Um yeah. Uhh do what you uhh need to do…..” Not another peep was heard about me being on excessive breaks.

    1. VintageLydia*

      I wonder if fewer people would have an issue complying with the law if the biology of the situation was better known. Sometimes I wonder in the scramble to teach abstinence only that any health education regarding pregnancy, birth, and post natal stuff is ignored as well. I know I never got education on that, even in my human sexuality class in college which covered everything from the very basics to transgender politics.

      Waiting to pump hurts like hell and lead to leaks and can cause you to reduce and stop production before you want to stop nursing (the last being the most important point in the long run.)

      1. Anonymous*

        I wish more people knew what happens with the body AFTER the baby comes out. Mostly we’re told everything’s good to go at 6 weeks. And it’s not like I WANT to give a stranger the gorey details of my body, but if my boss thinks “Well, you’re back working so what else accomodations do you need after the generous unpaid 8 weeks we give?” I have to share them :(

        1. VintageLydia*

          It’s definitely one of those topics that you just don’t realize how little you DON’T know until you are going through it. Couple that with the fact that so many parents formula feed that nursing is suddenly this big huge mystery and no one knows how it works. It’s stuff that really really aught to be taught in regular health classes. Even if you don’t opt to breast feed yourself, it’s good to know.

        2. Rana*

          No kidding. From what I’ve been reading lately (because I’m due in November) the labor and delivery part is much less of a PITA than the recovery period! But no one ever seems to talk about it; all they talk about is diapers and not getting sufficient sleep, which seem to me now to be the easiest part of the whole deal.

      2. #3 OP*

        This is what I’m thinking as well. I don’t want to overshare and have people go “ew TMI” but at the same time I think they’d be more understanding if they were more aware. Or at least I hope they’d be more understanding…

  11. Anonymous*

    #1 – you say it’s a new office, and you use the word “banner” instead of “sign.” Is it possible that this is a temporary banner that they put up until they can get something more permanent? Maybe they’re waiting on a big fancy sign with neon lights and so on, and put the banner up as a quick way to advertise their business in the meantime.

    In which case, it probably wouldn’t be worth the time and effort it would take to have a printing error fixed, if they’re only anticipating using the banner for a couple of months.

    I wouldn’t evaluate the entire business based on one typo, unless you see other red flags in your interactions with them as well.

    1. Construction HR*

      Maybe they use it as some kind of pre-employment screening tool. If you aren’t sharp enough to notice the typo, then you aren’t detail oriented enough to do folks taxes.

      Just thinkin’.

  12. Fired wo warning!!*

    Should I not post this position on my resume? Prior to that I have been unemployed for a year. I dont want such a large gap! Thanks for the input.

  13. Anon*

    #OP 3 — Do you think your coworkers and boss really know that you’re not getting pumping time? Sounds like you may be trying to manage it and squeeze time in and maybe no one realizes you haven’t been getting enough time it. In a perfect world, your coworkers would realize that you need the time and check with you between lunches, but that’s just not the real world.

    Maybe when you tell the managers you need the time, you could propose a schedule (for example, 20 minutes on the hour every 3 hours) — then the other coworkers could know when you have to take time away from the counter versus hoping for a window of time to open up.

    1. Jazzy Red*

      Really, Newmomt needs to speak up. Not everyone is so into someone else’s pumping schedule that THEY are going to make sure Newmom is getting enough breaks.

    2. #3 OP*

      I have asked and been told I need to wait until everyone else is finished with lunches/until the shipment is verified/until we turn over to the next business day/etc. It sounds like I will have to overshare a little and tell exactly why I can’t wait to pump.

  14. FiveNine*

    “Go Figthing Irish!” This was the misspelling on the otherwise very professional Notre Dame August 31 football souvenir drinking cups.

    Just saying. It happens to even the best. I’d be hesitant to write off Notre Dame as a potential employer.

    1. Jazzy Red*

      But really, aren’t you least bit dismayed that college graduates (everyone who runs the college *is* a college grad, right?) don’t know enough to recognize a misspelling, or at least run spellcheck?

      1. Cassie*

        Earlier this year, Missouri State Univ’s bookstore gave away reusable bags with the word “university” misspelled – a student pointed it out. The artwork provided by MSU had the word misspelled, and the proof (which MSU approved) also had the word misspelled.

  15. mel*

    My goodness, there are so many businesses with misspelled banners! My employers also love to post many many many passive aggressive (well maybe just aggressive aggressive) notices all over the place, all of which are misspelled or otherwise terribly written which just adds to the annoyance.

    I know in my heart that it’s a language issue and not an educational issue, but I can’t help but feel it’s demoralizing when those who rank higher can’t even put together a sentence.

  16. Gilbey*

    Although I agree the error should have been caught I disagree with the thinking that there might be many problems because if it. To think they do their jobs badly and treat their employees poorly because of that? Not sure I get the connection.

    Ok so you are now interviewing for a job. The hiring manager asks the infamous question.. “Tell me a time you made an error, how did it impact things and what did you do to correct it?” Do you lie and say I never made an error? Because under the logic of what people are saying, they get to write you off as a candidate because you made an error regardless of how fabulous you might seem. You might have a laundry list of accomplishments on your resume but one error will doom you in. You can’t do this job if you have made an error.

    So is everyone OK with this? The employer can’t make mistakes but you can? They should understand the “We all make mistakes theory” for us, but we don’t give companies that same thinking?

    Come on, was this a stupid error that should have been caught? Yes. Is it an error that that should haunt the company? I don’t think so.

    I think it is pretty interesting how many people are ready to jump all over the employer for making an error. But if they were the ones that made that error they’d be writing in asking why they got written up or fired for this. I mean, after all..“ I never made a mistake before, can they just fire me without a warning. Is this legal?

  17. Gilbey*

    I have also worked for a company that was very well organized, no spelling errors, new hire paperwork organized and efficient, benefits were great, the whole perfect picture of a company you’d love to work for……

    AND one of the most miserable experiences in a company I have every worked for in my life.

    Just saying…

  18. Ruffingit*

    #1 has me thinking about where the line is with spelling errors in terms of judging the person/business. For example, there are many mistakes on a fairly frequent basis in Alison’s blog posts. That is likely due to the volume of the postings. Sometimes the commenters correct the mistakes, sometimes we don’t. But we all still give credence to Alison as a professional and worthwhile distributor of advice. As we should because she is. So it begs the question: Where do you (personally) draw the line? I do think a huge banner with a misspelling is a problem. But when is it not a problem? When is spelling/grammar indicative of bad business and when is it not? Curious as to what others think.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ha, I was thinking about my own typos here when reading the comments on this post earlier. My thinking on that is that I’d never find it acceptable to have a typo in pieces I put out publicly for a client (or for my organization, in my pre-consulting days), but when I’m writing here, I feel like I’m writing a casual email to you guys. And I’m sure as hell not going to get upset about typos in casual emails, although I’ll fix them if I notice them.

      (Someone could argue that’s the wrong way to look at it, because this blog is a big part of my professional persona. But I’ve made the judgment call that the content is strong enough and the typos minimal enough — and a blog an informal enough forum — that I don’t really care.)

      1. Ruffingit*

        Fair enough. I’m curious as to what others think about this topic in general as it’s something I’ve thought about a lot given how much business is done on the Internet. If ad space (for example) is sold on the blog does that make it less casual and therefore require more proofreading? If not, what does require a more professional look?

        Not asking this about your blog specifically Alison, just interested in what people think in general. Blogs, forums, etc. are becoming more and more business-oriented so where do we draw the line at the “professionalism” of the content that should be provided (that is, few spelling errors, etc.)? I don’t know the answer, but it’s interesting to think about.

        1. Becky B*

          My thoughts are still spinning at this question.

          Not picking on Alison, but when thinking about this, I found that I mentally waive any of the few typos in her posts because the content is so good. I’m captured, drawn in, engaged–a great user experience even before I get to the comments. I come here to relax as much as get advice by proxy.

          This mental waiving is completely different from my usual knee-jerk reaction to typos in professional settings. I tend to think a little less of the company for seemingly not proofreading or editing things that seem so obvious to me. Reasons such as the brain fixing what it sees, regular proofreader out with the flu, company undergoing a re-org, or any other explanation for what could be an innocent typo just don’t automatically occur to me–and perhaps they should.

          After all, there’s a reason why writers have editors, and I am certainly no exception, having all the aspirations of a grammarphile without all the know-how.

          And it’s true that a typo does not mean the entire organization is riddled with other errors. A whole host of them, now, that might make me question, if I’m even still on their website.

          Perhaps that’s a whole heap of “I don’t know the answer either,” but it’s a fascinating topic.

          I do know that this: “One thing I’ve noticed is that people who are excellent writers tend to judge others intelligence by how well they write – ignoring all other factors. I’m not sure why this is” is something I’m going to take with me.

    2. fposte*

      I would almost never completely dismiss an organization or person based on a single typo, no matter how large. I might snicker, but with a certain there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I element in it. It’s kind of what Gilbey is saying–it’s not about never making a mistake, it’s about whether the organization is generally meticulous and this is an exception, or whether this is par for the course with these folks.

    3. Nichole*

      I usually weigh things like that on impact-if it doesn’t matter that much that it be perfect, I don’t hold it against a business. It annoys me when my employer’s documents have typos because I’m a grammar Nazi, but it only actually *bothers* me when it impacts our professional image, like if a mailing sent to students were sent out riddled with errors. I think colleges need to have polished written materials and would feel moved to speak up in that situation, but I just roll my eyes when there’s a mistake on a flyer in the restroom or an internal policy manual. I can see why the OP is bothered by this-I would consider this a red flag as a customer because tax preparers need to pay attention to detail and there are plenty of accountants who wouldn’t let this go. However, as a job seeker, it becomes in my best interests to take a look at other aspects as well, because I’m the one who would miss out if this is a great employer who made a goofy mistake. HR Block can do my taxes just as well as this other company, but they may not be a better place to spend 8-10 hours a day.

    4. Rana*

      As an editor, and as an indexer (who must work within a very tight margin of error), and a writer, I value accuracy in the written word very highly. That said, I feel there’s a difference between written communication that’s essentially informal speech translated into text (which would describe most blog posts, and all blog comments) and official communications, which presumably have the benefit of being scrutinized and checked over before being released to the public.

      Will I think less of a company that has a lot of typos and other errors in things like ads and official pronouncements? Yes, but it’s not so much because they made the errors, but because they haven’t bothered to prioritize written accuracy by having some sort of editor or fact-checker on staff.

      But that’s for companies where the written word is a key part of their business (like newspapers); I’m more forgiving of ones where their primary function lies elsewhere, like grocery stores or shoe repair places.

  19. CathVWXYNot?*

    I remember a British study a while ago that assessed how much online business can be lost by having typos on the website. It was a lot.

    Ah yes, here it is:

    “Mr Duncombe says that it is possible to identify the specific impact of a spelling mistake on sales.

    He says he measured the revenue per visitor to the website and found that the revenue was twice as high after an error was corrected.

    “If you project this across the whole of internet retail, then millions of pounds worth of business is probably being lost each week due to simple spelling mistakes,” says Mr Duncombe, director of the Just Say Please group”.

  20. De Minimis*

    #1–in thinking about it more, I think my issue would not be that there was a misspelling on the banner, but that they would use a banner at all. It doesn’t seem professional to me, unless this is one of those places where they have the sign shakers dressed up like the Statue of Liberty.

    1. OP #1*

      Maybe it was a poor choice of words on my end, but i’m not exactly sure what it’s called–banner, storefront, store billboard? I just used the word banner bc that’s the firs tthing that came to my mind.

  21. HR Anon*

    OP #3 – The Affordable Care Act actually included a provision that changed the legal requirements for companies in regards to nursing mothers who are non-exempt. Any company covered by the FLSA (over 50 employees) is required to comply. The FLSA fact sheet is here It says: Employers are required to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.” Employers are also required to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.” So, legally, if you are non-exempt and your employer has 50 or more employees, you have the right to express milk whenever you need to, even if it’s more often than once every 3 hours under federal law. If you can set up a schedule of when you’ll express milk, that’s much better for your coworkers and easier for the company to work around. But even if you can’t get yourself on the exact schedule, you have the right to take the breaks you need. Under the federal regulations, the breaks can be unpaid, so if you need breaks beyond 20 minutes every three hours, the additional breaks don’t have to be paid.

    1. #3 OP*

      I knew about this. I was forced to pump in the room that houses our ATM once, but our alarm is in there too and I was afraid the whole time of it going off while I was pumping. (I do not have codes to shut off the alarm, so someone else would need to come in to do that.) I think I got maybe half an ounce that session because I was so nervous–what a waste. I had planned on bringing this up but it never happened again because the remodel of the conference room I used was finished. I would NEVER pump in a bathroom. I’d sooner pump in my car without caring what customers could see.

      I know I could legally express milk whenever there is a need, but I think I’d be pushed out of my job if I tried to go every two hours or something like that. Plus my breaks aren’t paid, so I’d be losing a bunch of money too.

      I would love to set a schedule and that would be easy, I think, if I worked full time and had a set working schedule, but I’m a part time employee so my hours vary.

      1. HR Anon*

        Maybe you can talk to your manager about your need for more breaks, and explain why you physically need it first. If you still get the pushback you mentioned above, about needing to wait on your coworkers, you can mention that you think the law changed recently on that. If you still get pushback, you should go to your HR person, since they will probably take care of this right away with your boss. Nursing rights are a targeted enforcement area now, and most HR people will take the line that it’s better to follow the law than risk getting sued. Not that you would sue, and you shouldn’t threatened it, but reminding people about the law if they don’t know about it implies it (like asking for a raise implies you might leave without one). You certainly shouldn’t feel bad about asking for this, anymore than for taking time off under FMLA.

  22. Anonymous*

    6. I know the feeling, I also do shift work. I regularly do 8 or 9 hour shifts and we can be sent on break any time except for during the first or last hour of our shift. We have to take it when a manager tell us (unless they try to send us in the 1st or last hour, but even then if we say no, they will make things awkward).

    We are often encouraged to take it even within that first hour if it is not busy at that time. eg. Start at 4pm, go on break at 4:20, back before 5 but shift doesn’t end till 1am (or later if it’s a long close). At least if they send us this early, they allow us to take a 5min later on (so we can use the toilet and have a drink etc).

    Even if your workplace has a policy about not sending you on breaks too early in your shift or whatever, I generally suggest not ‘making waves’. It not only pisses off management, but also makes other staff resent you (eg. if I refuse to go on break 1 hour into my shift, they might send someone else who has only just arrived (to keep labour down), then the other staff member will be pissed off).

    People who make a fuss about break times usually end up in conflict with managers as well as other regular staff.

  23. #3 OP*

    Thank you, Alison, for answering this and thank you to everyone who has responded. I have the day off tomorrow and will be dropping by to talk with my manager briefly. I have another 10-hour shift coming up on Friday and I have to tell her in no uncertain terms that I NEED to pump. I’ll be telling her that I got a clog last week and telling her that I can’t let that happen again.

    I should take 3 pump breaks plus my lunch on Friday but that will never happen. I plan on offering to take my first pump break before everyone else’s lunches, maybe take my lunch in the middle of everyone’s during which time I’ll pump again, and then take my other pump break after everyone else’s lunches. I know even though I’m supposed to get four breaks (because my company is pretty strict about making you take a 30-minute lunch if you work for 6+ hours) I won’t be able to, so I’ll just take 3 pump breaks and snack during them/in between.

    Some stuff has gone down at work that has left a sour taste in my mouth, so I guess how they react will tell me if I need to be looking for other jobs or not.

  24. Vicki*

    Spelling errors –

    I sent a note, once, to a company that had a spelling error on one of their trucks. They replied that they knew about it and were unhappy with it but couldn’t afford right now to get it fixed. They had complained to the firm that painted the sign and that frm refused to fix it, stating that they had simply painted the truck with the text they were given and it was the company’s business to proofread, not the sign company’s.


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