was this raise rescinded as punishment, publicizing employees’ ages, and more

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

1. What should I say if my manager asks if I’m job searching?

I work in a large department in a nonprofit with a fairly high turnover rate. In this department, i work in a small team of four plus my supervisor. I’ve been in at this nonprofit for two years. Morale has been notably low since my supervisor was hired (her management style leaves a lot to be desired). Shortly after she was hired (less than a year ago), one team member quit and the other gave his notice this week. This makes me the most senior person on my team. I think they may ask me point-blank if I am job hunting (I am). What would be the best way to handle a boss asking this question?


It’s rarely in your best interest to let your employer know that you’re job searching before you’re ready to leave. If you tell them, you risk being pushed out before you’re ready to go. (There are some exceptions to this, like if you have a great manager who makes it clear that it’s safe for you to be candid with her, but that doesn’t sound like the case here.)

If you’re worried about saying you’re not job searching and then quitting soon after, you can say that you weren’t actively looking and the opportunity fell in your lap. They’re not entitled to candid answers to this question unless they set the stage to show you candor is safe.

2. Was this raise rescinded as punishment?

A friend (I’ll call her Vanessa) is seriously overworked. Without getting into too much history, she has literally been doing the job of two people for over a year now. They finally hired a manager for her, but the workload hasn’t stopped or slowed down as this person gets up to speed, takes lots of vacation and days off, etc. To their great credit, her organization recognized her hard work, long hours, working 7 days a week for months at a time, etc., and rewarded her with a bonus and a nice raise. It was promised to appear in this paycheck.

Since the promise about the raise and bonus, an issue arose stemming from some duties that Vanessa was specifically responsible for, details of which were overlooked, that caused some fairly significant problems. Everyone told her they understood that the issue was the direct cause of her aforementioned long hours, hard work, and multiple balls in the air she is expected to juggle daily, and she was lightly reprimanded, but that’s it.

This paycheck arrived today, and Vanessa’s raise and bonus were not included in it. No one has spoken to Vanessa about rescinding the raise and the bonus due to the issue mentioned above, but Vanessa has a sinking suspicion that this is how she’s being punished for what happened. Can a promised pay raise and bonus be rescinded as punishment without informing the employee first?

Yes. Employers can change your rate of pay at any time, as long as they don’t do it retroactively. If Vanessa didn’t have a written contract specifying the date the raise was to take effect, then they can certainly do this. However, she shouldn’t just assume that it’s her unspoken punishment; she should ask about it. First, because it could just be a mistake or misunderstanding — they could have intended the raise to go through and don’t realize that it didn’t, or it might not be effective until the next payroll (or beyond). Second, because it’s not cool to rescind a raise without telling someone; that would actually be pretty unusual. So Vanessa should go talk with her manager and ask about it.

3. Resigning when you know you’ll be told to leave immediately

I have worked for a small, family-owned business for over 7 years. During that time, not one employee, including the owner’s daughter, has been allowed to work after submitting their two weeks notice. Everyone has been immediately escorted out of the building after being severely berated for their “traitorous” actions toward the business and the family.

I will be starting a new job and can’t afford to lose a paycheck for two weeks. My new job has a set training schedule so starting early would not be an option. I am seriously considering leaving a time delayed email resignation, leaving and not going back. This really goes against all my ethical standards, but I’m not sure what to do.

Companies that make people leave as soon as they give notice are forfeiting their right to normal notice periods — since no employee in their right mind would expect that notice period to be honored. The employer has broken their side of the social contract around two weeks notice, and thus you are no longer bound by it in your dealings with them either. (That said, you might as well tell them you’re giving them two weeks notice, even though you’re planning to start your new job immediately, since they’re going to make you leave anyway — no reason for them to know that they have lack of notice to hold against you. In other words, offer two weeks notice but do it on the last day you plan to work, since you know they’ll have you leave that day.)

However, don’t resign by email. That’s cowardly and will taint your reputation among anyone who hears about it. Resign in person, knowing that they’ll send you on your way that same day.

4. Posting employees’ ages on company website

Is it legal for a company to publish employees’ ages on the company website?

I was recently asked to update everyone’s bios and compile a list of birthdays and current ages. The purpose was to update the “about us” section of the website to include bios and ages. As far as I know, you can ask for a date of birth for certain forms and HR issues, but for marketing and public-facing internet material? Not so sure.

Sure, that’s perfectly legal. There’s no law protecting people’s ages from being posted online. Hell, you could post mine online if you wanted. But it’s weird — why would your company think that its customers would care about employees’ ages? People don’t really identify themselves by age once they hit adulthood.

Since you’re in charge of coordinating this project, why not push back and say something like, “Is it okay if I skip the ages? I think people will be uncomfortable having those posted, and customers will be more interested in the bios anyway.”

5. Applying for a job with a company whose contest I recently won

I won a contest a few months ago (just a simple Twitter enter-to-win type of thing) and was contacted by an employee of the company that works in my field to give me the winning information. I recently began job hunting and was wondering if it would be inappropriate or a turn-off to contact her. I just want to introduce myself, let her know my passion for the company, and ask if I can send her my resume for consideration in case any positions open up. Just FYI, I am an entry-level candidate, albeit with considerable internship experience and currently employed in my first full-time position, which for a variety of reasons isn’t working out.

Sure, you can do that. There’s nothing wrong with that. But make sure you have an outstanding cover letter — which is always the case, of course, but especially when trying to use an (admittedly fairly flimsy) connection.

6. My company is doing layoffs — should I be job searching?

I have been working at a large corporation for nine months as my first intended-to-be-long-term job. It is not what I imagined myself doing (I planned to go into nonprofit work and still ultimately see myself moving there after I build up more experience) but I enjoy my job, get along with my boss and coworkers, am well compensated, and am generally quite content to stay where I am. However, my company is undergoing financial trouble. There have been significant layoffs over the past year or so and management has implied that there are more layoffs coming. Some rumors say that almost half the employees may be let go.

I think I have been doing a good job (no complaints in my performance review) and have been working hard to take on new areas after other members of my team quit or were laid off. That said, I am the least experienced person on my team and am scared that I may end up on the chopping block. I don’t want to be a job hopper and abandon this job (that I really like!) so soon after my company took a chance on me and invested so much into training me. But nor do I want to find myself unexpectedly unemployed! Should I be job-searching?

Yes, you absolutely should be. You don’t have to take a job that’s offered to you if you don’t want to, but you should get the process started because job searches can take a long time. You could start searching now and still not have an offer in six months — so you should get a head start now, in case you are indeed laid off down the road. You don’t want to be starting from scratch then.

If you do get an offer and you still don’t know where your company’s layoffs stand, you can evaluate your options then. But the point is to start generating options for yourself now, so that you’re not left without many.

7. Should an unpaid internship be listed as work experience or volunteering?

I completed an unpaid internship as part of my master’s program while employed by an unrelated company. The internship was an excellent experience and provided much more high-level training than expected. Is it better to list that under employment or volunteer history? Currently I’ve been listing it like this for Sandwich Taste Testing Manager type jobs:

Employment History
Chocolate Teapots Manager 2008-present
Sandwich Taste Testing Internship 8/2012-3/2013
Chocolate Teapots Maker 2004-2008

And then moving the internship to volunteer experience for Chocolate Teapots Exec type jobs. Is this weird? Am I overthinking it?

Internships should absolutely go under Work Experience. The Volunteering section is generally for more traditional forms of volunteering, not a structured internship.

{ 98 comments… read them below }

  1. Sharon*

    Re #3: Here is what I would do: Given the track record that this company always walks people out, I would notify them (in person, as Alison says) of my two-week’s notice on the last day that I actually want to work for them. In other words, give them two week’s notice on the last day. That’s a bit manipulative, but it’s politics: you look like you did the right thing by giving notice, while getting walked out actually suits your purposes and YOUR timeline.

    If that’s too slimy, then I would do the normal thing and just not be upset about being walked out early. I’d take it as two weeks to do an impulse vacation or just rest at home to decompress or start reading up on your new job.

    Either way, I wouldn’t let this upset you. You know what’s going to happen, so you’re not blindsided. Being walked out in this kind of company isn’t a commentary about you or your ethics because everybody knows they do it to everybody. Just grin and be pleasant and happy and go through their exit procedures, and then happily move on with your life.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      It took me quite a while to wrap my mind around this one. I can see why OP is struggling with this. I don’t like walking out.
      If you decide to walk out, you can say that you are leaving right now because everyone sees that people who give notice are escorted out immediately. A family member did this once, for the same reason. The employer was probably an okay employer (not great, not awful) but no one was allowed to work their notice.
      When my family member quit, the employer’s reaction was unusual. My family member point blank said “I see that everyone who gives notice gets fired. So I am quitting effective immediately.” The employer begged family member to stay on. I would like to think that the employer did some thinking about their habit of terminating people who give notice. Maybe no one had pointed that out before?

      In your case, OP, it sounds like a toxic work environment. Traitors? REALLY? wow. Sounds like kindergarten thinking. There may not be too much you can do to reason with someone who does not want to be reasoned with. This means priority shift- your new priority becomes protecting yourself. And that is whatever you think you need to do to minimize the fall out here. Personally, I would not want to listen to the traitor tirade. I have no patience for that stuff.

      1. ConstructionHR*

        “I see that everyone who gives notice gets fired. So I am quitting effective immediately.”

        Yeah, I’m thinking this is the way to go. In my mind, OP gives two weeks notice & they for once, expect her to work it out. Oops.

        At my last company, I gave 2.5 weeks notice & was asked to leave the next day. They didn’t pay me out my vacation, which was not in accordance with written company policy. The next guy to go took his vacation and then quit the following Monday.

        1. Chinook*

          They didn’t pay out your vacation despite the written policy? To me, this is illegal as their written policy would imply that this is part of your compensation (but then I am Canadian and it is illegal to not pay out earned vacations, so my p.o.v. is biased)

          1. Bea W*

            I can’t recall if vacation time payout is state or federal law in the US. It is definitely law in my state that employees must have their remaining vacation time paid out when they leave, even if fired for cause.

              1. ConstructionHR*

                My state does not require it.

                It was better to just shake the dust from my sandals & move on. My new company allowed me to start right away, but I coulda used that cash.

      2. Vicki*

        I worked for a company where people who resigned were allowed to work their 2 weeks but got the “traitor” treatment. Meeting invitations were rescinded. If the CEO or any execs were in the same room they’d act as if you weren’t there.

        I once found myself walking down a hallway with the CEO coming toward me and no one else around. He made eye contact with the ceiling to avoid looking at me.

        I would have preferred to have been told to leave immediately. The “silent treatment with glares” is worse.

        1. Garrett*

          That’s the time when I would cheerfully smile and say “Good morning Mr. Smith!” and make them confront their stupid policies.

    2. ProcReg*

      I quit a job right before Christmas once. I told my boss that I had already scheduled time off, and asked for December 31 to be my last day.

      She then called me a bunch of nasty names, I guess. I tuned her out. I got my work to the person taking over for me, and was escorted out the door. Those couple of weeks were just what the doctor would’ve told me to do.

    3. Eric*

      I dislike this advice. What if they suddenly take you up on your offer to work out the two weeks? Don’t bluff in employment.

  2. Not So NewReader*

    Vanessa in Q #2. That really sucks. Well, if she takes the bull by the horns everyone will have a learning experience. Even if she hears an answer she does not want to hear, Vanessa will have the satisfaction of knowing she stood up for herself.
    Worst case scenario: The company fesses up “Yeah, we dinged your paycheck because of the your mistake.” This allows Vanessa to open the conversation that this is too much for one person to handle. Now it is impacting her earning power. No one can do two jobs at the very same time. The covert message here is “If you try to help us and get in over your head then we will ding you for it in your paycheck.” Other employees will see this and become very territorial. “That’s not my job. I have all I can do to keep my job on the right track, I won’t take on additional work because I see if an employee does do that they get shot down for it if they make a mistake.”
    That’s worst case scenario. It could be that she will get thanked for coming forward and asking about what happened with her check. They did intend to pay her that bonus and just assumed it went through payroll without a hitch. I hope this is the case.
    Either way, it is best for Vanessa to know what kind of employer she has on her hands. Eyes wide open.

    1. Jessa*

      Exactly, but you absolutely want to go at this as if you’re SURE it’s an error, not malice and not punishment. Because well, first it lets them save face and second if it was an error they won’t change their mind when you point up how OMG I messed up this and now you cut my raise.

    2. EngineerGirl*

      I would approach this as an error. Or the raise may appear in the next paycheck.

      But it’s also possible that new boss – who really has no idea of Vanessa’s hard work – blocked the raise. But really, Vanessa should be looking for a new job, as it looks like her manager isn’t shouldering the load. If things get better then Vanessa doesn’t need to leave. But taking vacation right off the bat? This manager isn’t managing.

      1. ConstructionHR*

        “it looks like her manager isn’t shouldering the load.” Yeah, the new guy is already taking vacation and “lots of days off”. Might have been arranged before he got the job, but he hasn’t helped Vanessa out at all.

  3. Melissa*

    #4 – My company has an internal list that includes everyone’s cell number and home number for emergency contact reasons. It also includes birthday, but leaves out the year, just stating month and day. I’m assuming the birthday is included so we can recognize a co-worker’s birthday if we are so inclined. Why not suggest this as an alternative?

        1. Chinook*

          In Canada, birthdays (even without the year) is considered confidential and permission must be given to even be included on a list of people with birthdays in a given month.

          1. JustMe*

            Really? My manager has a list of everyone’s birthdays posted up in the office. I remember her asking for mine, but most of the others after I think she’s just posted so they’ll get a card or something. But, she’s also buys into that numerology stuff. When I interviewed there, she asked me when my birthday was and when I told her, started going on about the “personality type” of that number…

        2. Cat*

          It seems unlikely that California considers birthdays confidential, but even if it does, surely simply asking the employee if they object would solve that issue.

          1. EngineerGirl*

            Birth dates (Vs birthdays) can be used as identifying data for financial databases. Also for medical.

            1. Cat*

              But they’re also in the category of information that’s commonly made public in a variety of ways, which is why it’s a bad idea to use them as identifying data.

              1. ThursdaysGeek*

                Yeah, I didn’t want to tell a co-worker my birthday, so he used his google-fu and found it online. It had most of my address too. Turns out voting records are public in my state.

            2. JC*

              This was my concern. If you have a birthdate and an age, it’s easy to get birth year and there are definite concerns for identity theft.

    1. The gold digger*

      I don’t want to celebrate my birthday at work. My company puts birthdays on the internal website and I was ticked when I found out. I asked for mine to be removed. Yes, I guess I am a grouch, but I do not like being the center of attention for something like that.

  4. Mela*

    In my job, I look at bios for company executives for lots of companies every day. Ages are not at all unusual, and are more the norm than not. Heck, Yahoo! Finance lists ages of C-level employees and their compensation right on every company’s profile page.

  5. Colette*

    #6 – I totally agree you need to be looking. In layoffs of that scale, no one is safe, no matter how valuable they appear to be – if they cut that role/group, it doesn’t matter how good you are at your job.

    If you expect the layoffs soon and you’re not comfortable actually applying for jobs yet, you can at least get started on your résumé/networking/looking at what’s out there.

  6. Juni*

    OP4: Depending on your field, if you work for the kind of company that allows customers to request leads on their projects or request specific people (like a real estate firm selecting agents), posting staff’s ages might be a way they’re looking to shuffle off older staff. See, you post ages, then no one requests the older staffers, then they get less work… and then they’re let go because they’re not producing. TREAD LIGHTLY.

  7. Eric*

    #2 Wouldn’t this be a case of them retroactively lowering her pay? Assuming she is paid at the end of pay periods (I.e. paid on August 31 for the month of August, not paid on Sep 1 for the month of September), then this pay period would be for work already done, at the higher rate that they agreed to. For at least this first paycheck, I’d think they would have to pay at the higher rate.
    That said, I think there is a high chance that this is just a mistake. I know putting through raises into payroll systems can be a very easy thing to accidentally mess up.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s tricky — it would depend on the exact wording they used. If the said “your pay will be X starting on September 1,” then yeah, they can’t change it retroactively. But if they just said “we’re giving you a raise to X,” there’s vagueness about when it takes effect — in many companies, it would take a few pay periods.

      1. Bea W*

        So, in my case, where I got a formal letter stating my pay would be raised to $X, starting June 1, but then reneged well after the fact when I had already worked time in June, is that changing it retroactively?

        Not that it matters now, since it was years ago and I no longer have recourse, but I was never clear on whether or not it was truly legal.

  8. OP #6*

    OP#6 here–thank you for your advice. Yesterday the CEO confirmed that there will be layoffs of almost half the staff (yikes!) so I will definitely be getting the job search started.

    1. Felicia*

      I think layoffs of half the staff is also such an understandable reason for wanting to leave that the relatively short stay won’t hurt you.

      1. Bea W*

        This is a totally legit and understandable reason for looking after only 9 months. Don’t wait for the ball to drop.

      1. guest*

        We are in another Canadian Province- not the RIM one. The health agency here is planning big layoffs but calling it ‘restructuring’. They have 100,000 employees.

    2. Colette*

      That’s tough. Definitely start looking – it will help you to be more in control. In my experience, it’s better to be one of the people laid off in a situation like that. Good luck!

  9. EngineerGirl*

    #1 – I wouldn’t lie. But I might deflect by answering a question with a question. If asked “are you looking?” I would answer “Why do you ask? Are you concerned about all the recent resignations? Would you like to see if we can fix it”

    Three questions in a role is enough to sidetrack and in addition makes you look like a problem solver. Really, fixing this issue benefits everyone.

    1. Vicki*

      I was thinking along the same lines. I would also ask “Why are you asking?”

      AAM – you generally advocate against lying. For those of us who prefer not to lie outright, what’s a suggested alternative?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think it’s the same as if you’re pregnant but not ready to announce it yet and someone asks if you’re pregnant. It’s an intrusive question that they have no right to the answer to and thus it’s fine to ensure they don’t get one.

          1. Sara M*

            Except many people assume “Why do you ask” is code for “Yes, but I don’t want to tell you.” Because people mostly use it only when they want to say the latter.

        1. Bobby Digital*

          For a long time now, I’ve really liked the logic of this way of thinking. Dishonest questions invite dishonest answers.

          FWIW, if you’re feeling uncomfortable, you can (mentally) translate their question into their honest intent and then answer that. “Are you looking for another job?” becomes “Should we hire someone to replace you?”

          1. Anonymous*

            But you can’t possibly know that. “Are you looking for another job?” could also mean “Is there an issue in the department that needs to be addressed?”

  10. Bea W*

    #2 – Tell your friend to speak with her supervisor about it. I hope it’s an honest mistake. If not, it might be time to consider other options.

    Something similar happened to me in a different circumstance. I received my annual merit increase letter at the end of May, stating I would be getting a raise to take effect as of June 1. Fast forward 2 weeks later, around June 10, I gave my notice. I worked the entire month of June, and at the very least 10 of those days where for all anyone knew (self included) I was staying with the company. I never saw my raise, but I was never told it had been rescinded. I found out when I got my first paycheck that should have included the new rate. I brought it to the attention of my manager. She was surprised that the new rate had not been applied to my paycheck, and contacted payroll. I got a call from one of the HR associates explaining that there was a policy not to pay out raises to people who were leaving.

    I did some digging. There was no such policy, at least not anything written on paper anywhere. That story was complete BS, and when my former manager from another department (who still worked there) asked about in a more casual conversation without bringing up my name, she was advised not to ask too many questions and not to pursue discussing it further.

    Even if what she did in this wasn’t illegal, it was certainly unethical. I calculated a loss of around several hundred dollars between my June paycheck, and the 5+ weeks of vacation time the company was required to pay out upon my leaving. I ultimately decided not to pursue it with AG’s office. I had left after 9 years because I was really unhappy with the environment and the way I was being treated under the new corporate structure. It wasn’t worth it to me.

    It was a stupid move on the company’s part, because although I let it drop after I left, the field I work in is small and it is really hard to find and hire good solid experienced folks to do what I do and stick around without jumping ship for the higher paying jobs at the sponsor companies that contract with people like my former employer. Everyone knows everyone else, and they ended up burning a bridge just with that one stupid act.

    It would have cost them nothing to inform me of any policy in writing as soon as I had given my notice, and it would have cost them very little to just pay out the rate they had given me *in writing* 2 weeks earlier. It has certainly cost them $$$ in terms of legal fees and settling civil suits brought by former employees. More importantly, in such a small world, reputation is everything. They are screwing themselves every time they screw over an employee in some petty way. It may be technically legal, but it is certainly damned stupid from a business perspective.

  11. Bea W*

    #6 – I agree with Allison. At the least update your resume and start looking to see what’s out there. The first people to go in layoffs are often the least senior employees. The saying is, “Last one in, first one out.” Cuts may be made based on other non-merit based factors as well, but that is one that is pretty common. No one is safe from layoffs. I’ve even seen the most senior, long term, hard working people get cut when everyone assumed they were safe. Good luck!

  12. Ruffingit*

    I generally would agree that resigning by e-mail is a bad idea, but I think there might be an exception for the OP in #3 because of this: Everyone has been immediately escorted out of the building after being severely berated for their “traitorous” actions toward the business and the family.

    Severely berated? No thank you. I don’t care to subject myself to that kind of treatment. Therefore, cleaning out my desk and then sending an e-mail resignation might be the way to go here when you know you’ll be subjected to severe verbal abuse if you do it in person.

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I agree. I think if I were berated when I turned in my notice, I’d take care of escorting myself to the door.

  13. Ruffingit*

    Anyone else see the irony in #2 if they did in fact mess up her pay raise? She makes a mistake and gets lightly reprimanded and then they turn around and make a mistake on her pay. Guessing no one will get reprimanded for that mistake though…

  14. Sourire*

    #4 – Another suggestion you might make is that including ages means that these bios will need to be updated quite often, making this more of an ongoing project than they had perhaps intended.

      1. Brett*

        A bit of javascript could fix that, or just update everyone once a year.
        If you update age a little too precisely (e.g. javascript function tied into actual date of birth), you might accidentally disclose someone’s date of birth, which would be bad.

  15. MrsG*

    “People don’t really identify themselves by age once they hit adulthood.”

    It seems like every time I get a job the first thing everyone tries to do is get my age, and then treat me like a child and call me young’un or kiddo or some other bullshit once anyone finds out.

    I can’t wait to get to that magical number that makes people mind their own business and actually treat you like an adult and a capable coworker. Is it 30? 32? 35?

    1. Sara M*

      A lot depends on how you carry yourself and how capable you are as a coworker. Depends a ton on your industry and who else is around you.

      But if this helps, 30 is a pretty good guess.

  16. FD*

    #3, I don’t have much to add to Alison’s advice, except that seriously? They gave that kind of treatment to their? Jeez, sounds like an incredibly dysfunctional workplace. And family.

    Also make sure you have any documents, materials, or personal items you need before you notify them since they’re liable to escort you out.

  17. jasmine*

    Re: #4: Posting employees’ birthdays on a public web site is not a great idea, since that’s information that can be used for identity theft.

  18. Kristie*

    Why is it cowardly to resign by email? I’ve never heard of that logic.
    Would it really taint one’s reputation?

    Thanks in advance for responses.

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I am of the opinion that it’s the sort of act that one needs to do in person. One reason is, simply put, because your email could have been hacked and that you can’t guarantee when someone is going to read/receive your email. Another reason is because there are typically details that need to be gone over and those are best done in person.

      Unless it’s the type of employment in which you NEVER see your supervisor. And then, I think it warrants a phone call.

    2. Bobby Digital*

      In most cases, where a sane person works in a sane workplace for a sane manager, I think it’s seen as avoidant behavior, as if the person lacks the confidence to answer questions related to their resignation. I also think it’s seen as a bit naive, as if the person can’t bear disappointing their manager.

      As for reputation-tainting, yeah, maybe, though I’m of the opinion that most of the people who do this probably have histories of minor etiquette violations. In other words, they’ve likely already been deemed abrupt or avoidant.

      (Again, this is assuming we’re talking about a normal employee and a normal workplace; someone might quit via email at an abnormal workplace if, say, their manager throws things at everyone who quits in person. In which case it wouldn’t seem cowardly or weird and coworkers would presumably know the circumstances.)

      1. Bobby Digital*

        And, more specifically in regards to the OP’s question, I don’t think that verbal berating+immediate ejection=abnormal enough grounds for avoiding the conversation. It’s abnormal and crazy, sure, but it still just boils down to discomfort.

        1. Ruffingit*

          I disagree as she says it’s severe verbal berating. No need to subject yourself to that. I think email resignation in this situation is just fine.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            But you don’t need to tolerate that. You resign in person because it’s the correct, mature thing to do, and if they start berating you, you say, “I’m sorry you feel that way, but I’m not willing to be berated. Clearly it would be better if I left now, so I’ll gather my things and go.” And then you do.

            1. Ruffingit*

              It really depends on a lot of factors though where it may not be easy to leave. For example, and I’ve seen this one personally, you go into the boss’s office to have the talk, they lock the door behind you so as not to be disturbed. You tell them you’re leaving and they tear into you verbally. You tell them you won’t tolerate that. They refuse to unlock the door until they’re done berating you.

              Yes, clearly what they’ve done there is not legal in that they did not let you leave when you asked. However, you’ve still had to endure the berating before you could get out. Now, you could ask that you have the conversation in a place where you can easily leave, but not everyone will oblige you on that.

              Seems very easy to say you just tell them you won’t tolerate it and leave, but that doesn’t always happen in practice. The OP needs to figure out what kind of people these are in terms of how and where they have these conversations and whether or not she feels safe talking to them in person. I would not blame her if she didn’t. Not every employer is sane.

              1. jasmine*

                If someone actually locked me into a room and started yelling at me, I’d pull out my cellphone and call 911.

                1. Ruffingit*

                  I probably would too, but in the situation I describe (this was a colleague this happened to), she was so stunned, she just sat there and didn’t know what to do. Once she was able to leave, she went home and was kind of in a “did that really happen” daze for a couple of days. Luckily, she had another great job to go to and has been quite happy there, but still…sometimes you just work for people who are the exception to the rule. And this is why I say resigning by email is OK in some situations.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Locking someone in a room and refusing to let them leave is such extreme, unusual behavior, though, that it wouldn’t make sense to assume that would happen unless you’d seen it happen to others in your workplace.

                1. Ruffingit*

                  That’s exactly the point I’m making though. The OP needs to assess what she knows about her situation and use that to make her decision. Don’t resign by e-mail, leave if they start berating you is fine to say in theory, but in practice things can be very different. The OP should take what she knows and decide accordingly and I’m not going to tell her she’s in the wrong if she decides an email resignation is OK.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  But there’s nothing she’s written that would indicate an email resignation would be okay in her situation. Certainly if there are major details we’re missing, she should take those into account — but based on the letter, she should resign in person.

                3. Ruffingit*

                  I don’t agree with that. Knowing that severe berating is the norm, I think it’s fine for the OP to resign via email. Even if she can leave the scene when it begins, I still feel there is no reason to subject herself to even being around the beginnings of that so I won’t judge her if she resigns via email.

                4. OP#3*

                  Part of what I didn’t add is the being yelled at is a normal daily routine here. I am definitely not afraid of being berated, the problem is at that point all 7+ years of holding it in will come out and that would leave an even worse impression than sending an email.

    3. EngineerGirl*

      Bad news needs to be delivered in person, looking the person in the eye. It says “I am responsible for this action and am taking full accountability for it.”

      This is true for any major news that negatively affects another.

      It’s all about accountability.

      1. Chuchundra*

        Well, sure, if you have a reasonable expectation that everyone involved will act in a civilized and professional manner. I don’t think there’s any obligation to expose yourself to abuse.

        If it’s SOP for the owner of a business to berate and insult everyone who quits, it’s OK to consider sending a telegram instead.

  19. Wo Fat*

    #1 – Here’s something to watch out for. You are searching for another position and a hiring manager calls your boss for a reference check. Your boss asks you if you are job searching as a test.

  20. abankyteller*

    Alison, I love how you use Chocolate Teapots as a fictional company and I love how you’ve added a Sandwich Taste Testing internship. It’s so funny.

  21. OP #3*

    I appreciate all your advice. My main concern is that I absolutely will not be able to sit through the tirade without giving them the what-for and and the one finger salute on the way out. I agree that emailing seems cowardly but I already know I won’t be given a good recommendation for the simple fact that I no longer work there ( I do have references from coworkers) and it would be less of a fall out than leaving in a fit of fury. I do plan on having as much work completed as well as a list of work to be followed up on sitting on my desk for my coworkers before I go.
    Also, in my state there is no requirement for them to pay out my vacation time if they let me go… not that they ever let me take it anyway.

    1. Ruffingit*

      I say do what you need to do for yourself. People here have disagreed regarding email resignation. I think it’s fine to do in your situation. You know what is best and what you’re capable of. Do come back and update us though as I’d like to know how it goes.

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