feeling guilty about leaving law-breaking boss, asking for a far-off raise, and more

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

1. My boss is breaking laws and promises but I feel guilty about leaving

I began working at a small business this past July, and there have been a few red flags that tell me I shouldn’t be here for much longer. First, my boss hired me as an independent contractor, even though I follow a daily schedule and perform a key role in the company. The reason he gave me is that he can’t afford to pay the necessary taxes for a W-2 employee. Second, he is paying me significantly less than I was promised. When I was interviewed, I was told I’d be working 20 hours per week at a “competitive” rate. But because my job is essential to the business’s success, I work about 40 per week and receive a total of $600 per month. My third issue is that there’s no HR to speak of, and I am regularly harassed by male clients; when I told my boss about these clients, he suggested I start wearing a wedding ring.

I feel guilty for thinking about quitting because my boss has told me on several occasions that I’m “the one” and I’d be leaving the company in a rut. I’m also afraid that potential employers would see that I quit after 4 months and think I’m a flake.

You should have zero guilt about quitting. Any one of these complaints — breaking the law by paying you as an independent contractor when you meet the legal test for an employee, paying less than the rate you agreed to, paying you less than minimum wage, and/or dismissing harassment concerns — would be reason to leave on its own.  All of these are illegal (well, the harassment might not be, if the company is too small to be covered by harassment laws), and big deals.

As for concerns about what to tell future employers, just explain (calmly, without anger) that you agreed to one rate of pay but were paid another one. No one is going to think you’re a flake for leaving over that. Most people would leave over that!

Read an update to this letter here.

2. I don’t want my manager to tell people I’m having surgery

I just learned that I need mandatory surgery, and I plan on telling my immediate boss that I have to be out. I don’t plan on giving him a reason, as it is very personal reason that I don’t feel should be shared. Although it should go without saying, can I ask that he not share it with the rest of the office? It was already spread around the entire office that I received a raise (prior to me finding out and without my permission) and that another coworker was having breast implant surgery (who they now mock). Also what should I do if it shared?

Of course you can ask him not to tell people that you’ll be out for surgery. You can request that he simply say “planned time off” or “planned vacation” or “medical reason” or whatever else you’re comfortable with.

That said, he’s clearly indiscreet and there’s no way to guarantee that he won’t talk anyway. But your best bet is to limit the amount of information he has and explicitly tell him that you don’t want it shared.

3. Manager saw someone watching YouTube at work and freaked out

A coworker was working as an external consultant for a very big European institution in Brussels. He has worked as a consultant for more than 7 years, spoke 5 languages, and worked on 5 out of 7 of the most important projects in our department. He was efficient and hard-working. One day, at lunchtime, he was looking at a video about Tour de France on YouTube, just at the same time when a new manager passed by his office. The manager didn’t like this guy watching a video on YouTube, so he decided to take a picture of his screen with his phone, without this guy noticing. He sent the picture to the directors of the unit, as well as to the consulting company the guy was working for, asking for his inmediate dissmisal. He literally wrote on the email, “I don’t pay your consultants to browse YouTube during working hours.”

Both the regulations of this Europan institutions, as well as the rules of the consulting company, permit a “reasonable personal use of the telecommunications and IT infraestructure during working hours.”

Many people think the reaction of the manager was a bit innapropiated. Some others don’t. I personally don’t know what to think about it. Do you think the reaction of the manager was appropiate in this particular case?

No, of course not. It was ridiculous. The guy could have been taking a lunch break, or sure, maybe he was slacking off for five minutes. Even 10 minutes — horrors! Good managers judge people on what results they get, not on how they spend five minutes here and there.

4. I heard I was going to be promoted, but haven’t heard about it since

I was hired for my current role (associate product manager at a videogame company) less than two months ago, and my intended duties involved managing live games, just helping on sales, weekly events, and basic data analysis. But within just a couple weeks after starting, I was offered the opportunity to take on much more difficult and vital duties, further up the chain for titles still in development. My boss’s boss basically poached me in terms of responsibilities and tasks, and I’ve gotten more and more involved in these duties.

Two weeks ago, my boss’s boss took me aside and told me that I’m being promoted “soon” to full product manager, as that title is more fitting for my level of work and responsibilities. He said that there were issues with P&L that had to be worked out, but otherwise it sounded like it was going to happen for certain. I was completely stunned – I knew I was doing good work above my job title, but I never, ever, expected a promotion so soon.

But since then, I haven’t heard anything regarding this promised promotion. And now I’m having a hard time not thinking about it. I was wondering if you had advice on how to approach my boss’s boss (soon to be my boss, after the promotion), about a more specific time line regarding the promotion. It’s a weird situation, since I never would’ve asked had he not mentioned it, and I don’t want to seem overly eager or aggressive. In the meantime, I’ve just been working hard as usual, and pretending like nothing’s changed.

Go back to him and say, “I was really pleased by your feedback a few weeks ago. I wonder if I can ask you how firm a plan it is to move me to product manager, and what the timeline most likely will look like.” It’s perfectly reasonable to want to follow up on this — you just want to ask for details, rather than push for it to happen right this very second.

5. Can my husband’s company require me to relocate with him?

My husband works for a company in Florida that has terminated him effective at the end of the year because they had informed him that he would need to begin working from the corporate office beginning in January 2014 and that he would need to reside in that area. He informed them that he would be moving, but he was going to move alone and I was going to stay in the area we have lived in for almost 18 years. I am a paralegal and have a wonderful career and would not make anywhere near the same amount of money in the new area.

But since he is not relocating his entire family, he will no longer have a job after December 31. He’s 62 and had planned on retiring from the company that he has been at for almost 13 years. I can find no legal precedent that requires an employee to live with his spouse if he wants to keep his job.

You’re looking for a legal precedent for what the company is requiring, but what you should be looking for are laws prohibiting the company’s requirement. That’s different, and it’s the key point people often misunderstand in employment law. If something isn’t specifically prohibited, it’s generally allowed. I can’t think of anything that would make this illegal, other than that I suppose it might be considered a form of discrimination based on marital status, which is illegal in some states (but not all, and not at the federal level). You’d need to talk to a lawyer to be sure.

6. Asking my manager how to get a raise in a year

We have our annual compensation review coming up, where we’re told what sort of raise and bonus to expect for the coming year. From what I’ve experienced here in the past, it comes out to roughly a 2-3% increase in base pay, and a $1500-$3000 raise — it varies based on the yearly performance review (delivered separately from this discussion) and the pool of funds available company-wide.

My idea is this: I’d like to set up my own meeting with the person that is the decision maker in this regard (and also the department head), before both the formal review conversation and the compensation review, and say something like the following: “I’d like to make $X base pay by 2015. Since this is an Y% increase from where I am now, what could I do over the next period to make myself worth this much to the company?”

Is this a smart conversation to have? If yes, is the timing a good idea? Basically, I’m setting it up as “hey, I don’t expect to get this size increase this time around, so looking ahead, how can I get from here to there in a way that makes it work for you?”

Sure, I think you can do that, if the 2015 salary you’re talking about isn’t outside the norm for your role in your company, or the role you expect to be in then.

7. How to use board members as job leads without angering my current boss

I work for a mid-sized non-profit and have a lot of contact with our very active board members. A number of them have commented over the last few years that they like my work and if I’m ever interested in leaving to let them know. Unfortunately this has almost always been in front of the managing director who reacts negatively to the suggestion (I’m her assistant).

Now that I’m starting to look seriously into finding another job I’d love to leverage the network I’ve managed to build and reach out to the board members for opportunities. One of the board members who has worked as a mentor to me made it clear that when she steps down off our board she’d love to have me come work for her but she’s not willing to ‘poach’ from the organization.

Is there any way I can use my network of high powered board members without setting off political problems or causing sour feelings?

You could ask. Pick one who you trust and have the best rapport with (and who has made this type of comment to you) and say, “You and other board members have made this comment to me, and it’s occurred to me that I don’t know how I’d take you up on that offer when the time came, without causing tension with Jane.” (Keep in mind too that once they think about it, they might realize that there’s no way for them to do that without it posing a conflict of interest in their roles as stewards of your current organization.)

{ 144 comments… read them below }

  1. Jake*

    #1 I promise they won’t feel guilty if they find some reason to terminate your employment. They’ve given you plenty of reason to move on, I agree with AaM completely.

    #3 He is an awful manager. If I worked for him I’d be fired too.

    #4 Happens at my job all the time. My whole department, minus one person, has been promised promotions that take many months or even over a year to come to fruition. I don’t know if you work for a large company or not, but for us it is largely a function of the bureaucracy that goes with working for a company with 60,000 employees where the executives feel the need to rubber stamp everything. Took me 8 months to get a promotion from the time I was told I was being promoted and my co-worker took 15 months.

    #5 What? Why would they even care? The only thing I can think of is that they think he is not committed to the position for the long term if he isn’t bringing his family with, but even that is a stretch. That is the strangest thing I’ve seen in a long time.

    1. Sourire*

      #5 – I originally was thinking along the same lines (questioning his commitment) but the more I think about it, the more I wonder if maybe the company expected that due to his age, he probably wouldn’t have bothered to relocate and would have simply retired. Now they are looking for an excuse and found this rather odd one.

      I completely understand many people work long past 62, and I’m not saying he should quit, or should be forced to at all; it just seems like a possible explanation of this very odd situation.

      1. Jake*

        I tried coming at it from the age angle too, but I couldn’t figure out how to make sense of their decision while factoring in age.

        You are probably correct.

        1. Katie*

          I’m confused about #5. Has the company said you’d also be required to move? That’s not clear from the letter.

          1. fposte*

            I think it’s implied but not explicitly stated. It would be useful to hear exactly what the company said, though.

            1. Anonymous*

              This is so stupid, if he was single, what would be the excuse? Is he expecting them to pay 2x the expenses? I don’t see their reasoning.

            2. Kathy*

              This is the writer. The company simply stated in a meeting that the three IT employees would need to start working in the Corporate beginning January 2014. Never mentioned that “family” was required to move. For a little more background, one of the employees is a black female, and the other is a disabled Veteran who’s wife is very ill and can not move closer to the Corporate office. The distance is across the state of Florida. Corporate is on the East and we live on the West Coast.

      2. Age Discrimination*

        This seems like age discrimination pure and simple. He’s older, so they make him move to another office knowing that he won’t pick up and move his entire life. They are using this as a way to push him out. Can it be proven age discrimination? I don’t know. I would check to see who else in the company is being forced into this situation, though, to get a fuller picture.

    2. Bea W*

      #1 – ^totally this! – they also don’t feel guilty about treating you like crap. $600/month breaks down to $3.75/hr (assuming 4 weeks in a month). Federal minimum wage is $7.25. There are some exceptions to that, but it covers most hourly jobs out there. Some states have a higher minimum wage requirent.

      Really, if you were “the one”, your boss would be making much more of an effort to keep you on by paying and treating you fairly and taking your complaints of harassment more seriously than “wear a wedding ring”. What he really means is you are “the one” he think he can get away with can take advantage of. Being employed there is leaving *you* in a rut.

      Get a new job. Heck, at this point any job will do. You can flip burgers for better money and working conditions than this guy is willing to give you. You don’t even have to be picky. Most anything will be a step up. If you are so inclined after you leave, run, don’t walk to your state employment/labor office and see about filing a complaint. He is getting away with the employment equivalent of murder.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, this. OP, don’t worry. His next hire will also be The One. Nice ploy and it works up to a point. Flattery instead of pay. OP, there are plenty of jobs out there that will pay you something and still compliment you on your work.
        Currently, I work for an employer that does not pay well. My direct boss stands on her head to make sure my concerns are address. (Even if the answer is NO, I still know that my voice has been heard.) In short, my boss realizes that I am underpaid for what I do and she takes non-monetary steps to support/enhance my job for me almost every week.
        Your boss is a user. Don’t allow his compliments to manipulate your emotions. Decide to refuse to play that game. You can’t put compliments in your gas tank or stir fry them for dinner.

        1. Arbynka*

          THIS. The boss is manipulating you, trying to make you feel so needed you are so you would feel so guilty to leave that you won’t. I like how Not So New Reader puts it. “Flattery instead of pay”. I say no way.

      2. Yup*

        Ditto everyone else on #1. His statement that he can’t “afford” to pay taxes on an employee is so short-sighted and self-selving on his part that it makes me furious. Do you think he’d be okay if you told him that you could only afford to come to work 4 hours per day, or turn in half a report, or show up 3 days out of 5?

        Move on and don’t look back. The only thing you owe this guy is notice that you’re leaving. And frankly he’d be lucky to get that, since contractors aren’t usually expected to give the standard two weeks notice like employees.

        1. Andrea*

          #1, you won’t feel so bad when you discover that you owe money to the IRS. Independent contractors have to pay their own FICA taxes; employed people pay half and their employer pays the other half, but if you’re self-employed/independent contractor, you are responsible for the whole portion. Not only is he underpaying you, but this arrangement is going to cost you.

          1. Julie*

            Right, and that’s why contractors typically charge more per hour than employees get – they’re covering their own “benefits.”

            1. ThursdaysGeek*

              It would be worth talking to a lawyer too — will the IRS accept you paying taxes on the illegal $3.75 an hour, or will they insist on taxes on minimum wage? You may owe more than you’re even getting!

              1. CAA*

                Contractors aren’t covered by federal minimum wage laws. They can earn less than minimum if they don’t set their rates high enough.

                Also, the IRS doesn’t know how many hours you work, so they can’t figure out if you’re making minimum wage or not, even if you’re an employee.

                1. fposte*

                  Employees illegally hired as contractors, however, are indeed covered by minimum wage laws, and it sounds like the OP might be one of them.

      3. AF*

        OP #1 – you are worth so much more! I am in a similar but not nearly as bad situation and I’ve occasionally felt the same because my boss tells me I’m great. If we’re so great, why are you taking advantage of our talents? Get out now and report that idiot to the Dept. of Labor. How much does HE make off of your hard work?

      4. Jessa*

        Quit and talk to the labour board. The company might not have assets but if they do you’re entitled to real pay for the hours you worked.

  2. Thorgar*

    Re #6, it’s a bad idea to ask how you could add value to your organization in terms of a specific salary you would receive if you did. Performance increase always precedes raise discussions. Otherwise you just come off as one of those “What’s in it for me?” types.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think it’s fine in a context like this one, assuming that the OP has suggestions of her own for what will increase (and has increased) her value. After all, if you ask for a raise and are turned down, it’s reasonable to ask what it would take to get one. This is a version of that.

      1. en pointe*

        Sure, but I think it risks coming across as if you doing your best work for the next year is contingent upon what raise they are going to give you.

        Even if that’s true, you want to word it so that it’s about increasing your value to the organisation rather than in a way that potentially makes you look mercenary.

        1. Selachii*

          I agree with en pointe, #6 is a tough one to approach certainly from the point of view that the OP is coming from. When asking for a raise above the company usual I would normally first prove myself worth it then approach (i.e. work my socks off for the two years then come to them and say I’ve done X over and above what was asked for and have only received a normal raise, how do I go about increasing it?)

          1. Lisa*

            Assuming they have been working their butts off for 2+ years. The point is that OP wants to skip the more waiting by getting the list of what needs to happen during the upcoming year. Waiting another year before getting direction isn’t a good use of time, because the boss may say diff things then. Boss may tell OP that it will take 3 more years, but at least get more direction now vs. later.

        2. Mike C.*

          But it is contingent on being properly compensated. People who do great work and aren’t compensated well leave.

          1. en pointe*

            And so they should. But that’s the difference between before and after.

            If your employer is not willing to compensate you fairly for the value you are bringing / have brought then you are certainly justified in finding one who will.

            However, I feel that it’s a mistake to start talking about a future raise in exchange for you doing great work in the interim. Maximum effort should already be expected of all employees.

            If the OP wants to initiate talks now I think he needs to frame it, like somebody else suggested, as wanting to grow and increase his value to the organization. Then, in a year’s time, he can make his case for a raise based on this.

            1. Joey*

              Not really. A number of things calibrate the effort put forward

              1. Compenation
              2. Treatment
              3. Culture
              4. Engagement

              You can’t and shouldn’t expect maximum effort if the above aren’t calibrated appropriately to provide it. Besides max effort usually equals burnout. Somewhere around 85-90% is more sustainable.

              1. en pointe*

                Oh that last part is fascinating to me! I am in my first job (straight out of high school) and at the moment I would say I am definitely putting in maximum effort. I thought that would be what’s expected by a manager.

                How does one work at 85-90%? As in, do you work slower, take more breaks?

                I’m not sure how to not work at 100% but not feel like I’m slacking off.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I think you’re misinterpreting this :)

                  In the way that I think Joey means, 100% effort is a level that isn’t sustainable for long. It means working your ass off, having zero distractions, pushing yourself as hard as you’ve ever pushed, stretching to do things that feel incredibly ambitious, and generally being exhausted from the energy you expended (not just from work itself) at the end of every day.

                  But in normal times (the 90% I think Joey is talking about), you should still be working hard and being as efficient as possible. Deliberately working more slowly or taking additional breaks would be a bad idea.

                2. The IT Manager*

                  Yes. I occassionally have brief periods where I work hard or long or both. I once made the miscalculation of putting in about 4 hours of OT on a Monday one week. I did a good full day on Tuesday, but I was burnt out by Wednesday and I wasn’t very focussed the rest of the week. My lesson learned for that is not to mentally wear myself out so much at the start of the week. The extra four hours on Monday in addition to being very mentally focussed meant I didn’t have it in me at the end of the week.

                3. Joey*

                  Absolutely, don’t work slower, just don’t burn yourself out day after day after day. 100% output (which to me means working yourself to exhaustion) should only be done in short bursts. You should calibrate your managers to expect for example that you’ll need time to eat most days, you might need a minute or two throughout the day to take a mental break, and you’ll take a few minutes occasionally to get to know your co workers.

        3. Jen*

          OP here.

          I hadn’t meant that my best work in the next year was contingent on a raise, so I’m glad you offered that point of view. I meant it more like “so what *specific* tasks mean the most to the company, and how much additional business should I bring in for the firm, in order to justify this amount?”.

    2. CAA*

      I actually had a similar conversation with one of my employees a couple months ago. I’m at a new job and I had been his manager for about 3 months at the time, and was still getting to know everybody’s background and career goals.

      This guy explained that he was a tech support person who had moved into software development and had only gotten the usual 3% raises, so he felt that his current salary was well below the market rate for a dev with x years experience and while he really likes it here and doesn’t want to leave us, he does want to earn what his peers earn here and at other companies which he thinks is $y. He is correct that if we hired someone to replace him, we’d have to pay about 20% more than he’s making and we’d lose all that valuable tech support background and institutional knowledge that he has. He didn’t ask for a raise right then, but we do have annual reviews coming up, and as a result of this conversation I’ve already spoken to my director and to HR about taking an overall look at salaries and making sure our best performers aren’t also our lowest paid performers.

      Personally, I was really impressed by his professionalism in the way he approached this. He did his research and asked for what he wanted, and he backed it up with facts and his own accomplishments; and then he continued to do excellent work after our conversation.

      1. en pointe*

        I think that’s a different situation, though, because your employee felt that he deserved a raise and effectively backed it up with his existing value and accomplishments.

        OP #5 wants to make the case for a raise in the future based on value he hasn’t yet brought to the table.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Yes, but what is wrong with asking where and how to provide that value, so the raise is appropriate? It is asking for guidance in what the company needs in order to bring that value to the table, and THEN be worth the raise.

          I’ve done a lot of extra work, and the companies are glad to have it at the price they’re already paying.

    3. Lisa*

      I had my review recently, and I got a raise so my salary is now 80k. I asked my boss what it would take to get to 100k since my level can reach that without being a director in my industry. Her response? ‘i don’t know you tell me’ – She makes 85k when her predecessor was at 125k, and the boss praises her as 10x better than him.

      She didn’t ask for a bump in salary when she was promoted from my level to director, and now my salary will be limited to making less than her. So I won’t be making 100k anytime soon if she can’t advocate for herself and I can’t ever go past her in salary according to the owner.

      1. Elysian*

        There is an episode of The Office about exactly this. I thought it was a particularly funny one. :)

    4. Jen*

      OP here.

      For a bit more background, this firm has started a big initiative to work with everyone’s career goals and set expectations of what it takes to get promotions. For instance, one metric we’re measured by is listed as “Owns increasingly more complicated portions of project and schedule”. So yes, it sets expectations, but boy is that subjective! The thing is, when I completed my self-evaluation form this past week, I looked over this list of metrics to help me hit the key points and feel that I 100% met the mark. *On paper*, I can tick off every box on the “here’s what you need to do for a promotion” in a very strong way, but I have zero chance of getting promoted because they require 5 years experience where I only have 4 (this isn’t an official metric, but something I was told to expect by the director).

      For me, I was hoping a discussion like this would:
      1. Get more concrete ideas of what to focus on. Is there another metric on the list that it’s valued more than others? If I’m able to pull in a new client that they’ll charge $X for, does that revenue take care of what they would need for my raise or does it require a different amount?
      2. Take their existing metrics, which are guidelines for promotions, and use them instead for compensation. I’d rather be a dev making $100K than a senior dev making $95K :) Promotion only matters to me if there’s a pay band I have to be in to qualify for the raise.

      I’m sure that I could find another company to pay this amount (I get approached by recruiters all the time offering this as the low part of their pay range), but I actually like where I am (the people, the commute, the focus on continuing education…) so my ideal would be to stay here but get a raise. I’m willing to wait a year to give them time to work this into their budget, as opposed to asking for it now.

      1. CAA*

        I think you need to be a careful about how you phrase this. Unless you’re in a commissioned position (in which case you already control your own earnings to some extent), you can’t really map your compensation directly onto client billings. I don’t manage sales or bus dev guys, and I’d be pretty taken aback if one of my software devs or PMs asked how much more they’d make if they got a new client or took on a new project, because things just don’t work that way. It could be that your company or industry is different, but if it’s not, this is going to look naive and it’s going to be an unanswerable question.

        I do think it’s fine to say you have a goal to make $x by whatever date, and ask advice for getting there. I just wouldn’t focus on the exact metrics or get into the details of which ones are worth more than others. Your manager is not a mind reader, and it is helpful to know whether an employee is more motivated by money or titles. You care about money, some people care more about titles.

        You also might need to look at total compensation before assuming you’d be making as much as you want at a new company. Even if they pay you the base salary you want, are they giving you the same benefits? Are you sure you can trust the ranges the recruiters are giving?

  3. Sourire*

    #1 – If I am understanding this correctly (I’m assuming you mean $600 gross, not net) – you are working at less than HALF of what minimum wage should be. Even if you were working the promised 20 hours/week, you would still be making less than federal minimum wage. Granted, I believe minimum wage laws do not cover independent contractors, but it sounds like you are misclassified as an independent contractor anyway (and probably have a case for back-wages, but I am not a lawyer, so I could be wrong).

    If you are as vital to the company as they say, they would compensate you as such and not be taking advantage of you like they are. Instead, they are trying to use guilt to keep you – don’t fall for it. Best of luck getting out of there asap :)

    1. Anne 3*

      IA. I’m pretty horrified at the OP’s situation. I hope they find out if they qualify for back wages and file a claim.

    2. Not Your Lawyer*

      I agree that there is probably a good case for back wages – the minimum wage law really favors the employee by allowing for attorney’s fees and extra damages if you win. I would think that it would be easy to find a lawyer to take this case.

      1. Clare*

        Law schools often have clinics or pro bono services available if you can’t afford or don’t know how to get in contact with a private practice lawyer. I absolutely agree that the OP should quit and look into legal options.

  4. Ann Furthermore*

    #3: For the life of me I will never understand why managers get so worked up about stuff like this. When I’ve held management positions I’ve always told my direct reports that a little web surfing is fine, as long as they’re continuing to meet deadlines and get their work done. With stuff like this I always try to use a humorous example like, “If you want to check your email, read the news, or do a little online shopping that’s fine, as long as you’re getting everything done. But if you have to work until midnight every night because you’ve spent the day tracking Lindsay Lohan on celebritystalker.com, then we’re going to have a problem.” Basically, I refuse to treat people like children until they give me a reason to do so.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I totally agree.
      But this type of thing is standard practice in retail. The usual rebuttal is “Fine. If you are on your break you need to move away from your work space so that it is clear to all that you are having lunch. And certainly, you can NOT possibly be using company resources on your lunch break.”
      My take is you manage people like they are children then you cannot be surprised when you have a bunch of children to manage. People will sink to the level of expectation they see around them.

      1. jennie*

        Well, in retail I can sort of understand it. If the customers can see you doing non-work-related stuff while they’re waiting to be served they don’t know you’re on a break and it makes them thing they’re being ignored.

      2. CAA*

        Also, in retail these are usually hourly (non-exempt) workers. In my state, non-exempt workers are guaranteed an unpaid lunch break after so many hours of work. If they’re in their usual work area operating company owned equipment, then that line between work and break is fuzzy, and the employer who allows it is risking a wage claim.

        I am in favor of telling people why you’re making them leave the work area instead of just posting a rule though.

    2. Anonymous*

      For many fields, there’s also work-related content on Youtube. Might not be relevant in this case, but worth noting.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, I had that thought too. Maybe Tour de France had nothing to do with his work, but a blanket policy against YouTube might restrict employees from accessing content they actually need.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        If you’re talking about me, thanks. But it’s stuff like this that made me realize that I am not cut out for being a manager. Even when I was crystal clear with my staff that I did not want to be bothered with petty stuff like this, I still had to deal with it. Joe is surfing the internet. Sally came back 4 minutes late from lunch. I have no tolerance for stuff like that.

        This, combined with the political posturing and maneuvering that you have to do as a manager, was more than I could take. I’m much more well-suited to an individual contributor role. And I have huge respect for anyone able to manage people well.

    3. Kate*

      #3: I have a feeling that there is plenty more to the story we don’t know (and the person asking the question didn’t know either). It would have been beyond irrational if it happened the way it was described. Furthermore, in this day and age, nobody would be working if that was the case.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Maybe the Manager had heard the old joke and thought it was true.

        How many people work at the European Institutions?

        About a third of them.

    4. Allison*

      #3 – I’m glad to see that companies in Europe have a policy allowing for reasonable personal internet use at work, and that people here agree that it’s not a big deal, because every company I’ve worked has prohibited it, at least in the rule book. The logic being that doing anything at work that wasn’t work-related was theft of company time. It was fine on break, but if you were caught goofing off during work hours, it was a problem. My manager sat right next to me, and one time he caught me giggling at something on my Twitter feed (that I used for work) and sent me an e-mail asking if I was working or playing.

      But I am curious, how often does a (reasonable) company monitor the internet use of their employees? Is it routine, or do they only investigate someone’s browsing activity when their productivity is suspiciously low? I use my own laptop at work but I’m somewhat paranoid that there’s someone keeping track of how I use the office’s network.

      1. CAA*

        There is so much variation in what companies monitor for online. Some companies do nothing and don’t even have a way to track the sites an employee visits, while others log everything you do. It’s just best to assume your company can monitor anything you do on their equipment (including their network) and refrain from doing things at work that you wouldn’t want your manager to know about.

        In reality, most places I’ve worked at are monitoring what software is installed on company computers and whether it’s properly licensed; whether you’re using something like logmein.com to bypass network security; if you’re streaming music and/or video; and maybe scanning your files and network drives for huge files and/or illegal files (pirated movies, etc). One place had some software that counted up visits to specific domains by employee. So if you had 10,000 hits on facebook.com in a month, that was going to be a problem. They told us they did that though, and the whole thing kind of fell apart once a lot of people got smart phones because those things are hitting the Internet all the time.

        I have had a lot of cases of people installing unapproved software and one case of pornographic photos stored on a network drive. Those events result in a meeting with me and a verbal warning not to do it again.

      2. OP3*

        Actually in here they prefer prevention over monitoring. We’ve a proxy blocking games, porn, hate and suspicious websites and we have the rights limited so we can’t install any software without authorization. All that is not explicitly blocked, is allowed.

        1. Marmite*

          Yup, this is what we have too. The only thing that bothers me is the software install as it means I’m stuck with an ancient version of IE. Give me any other browser, please!

  5. en pointe*

    #3 – Wow, what a massive over-reaction. I would be inclined to think that this manager already had something against the consultant involved and just jumped on this to go after them. Although the fact that it was a new manager kind of negates that theory.

    Maybe he feels insecure being new and wants to make his presence felt? (albeit in a really ridiculous way)

    1. Anne 3*

      Maybe he subscribes to the Dwight Shrute theory of Management that you should fire someone on your first day as a new manager, to assert your dominance.

  6. Suzanne Lucas--Evil HR Lady*

    I’ve seen other cases of people being told to bring the family or be fired. In a way it makes sense–especially depending on how far away the family is. If you’re constantly making trips back “home” you’ll be wanting to leave early on Fridays, come in late on Mondays, supporting two households and it generally causes a lot of additional stress.

    Would I advise people to make this rule? Probably not. Most people will weed themselves out of such situations and there are quite a few who make long distance situations work out for them. So while it’s weird, it’s not uncommon.

    1. Cat*

      Wouldn’t it be more straightforward to make a rule against leaving early on Fridays or coming in late on Mondays? If that’s a problem, it doesn’t really matter why they’re doing it.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Thank you for pointing this out. It is refreshing to see a different perspective.

      What I have usually seen is a person gets close to retirement and they are told “OH, your job is now all the way across the country.” The idea being the older person will take early retirement rather than move.
      OTH, I have seen people make that move, get to the new place and buy a house etc. INSIDE of a FEW months they are told “Whoops, your job is now on the other side of the country.”
      In the last five years of work the people move three times to keep their jobs. It is amazing the big name/well known companies that have this reputation.

      I am glad to see this topic discussed openly, because I have been watching this again and again for decades. My first take on OPs letter was that he was being forced into early retirement. If he did not face this hurdle there would be another type of hurdle.
      All I can say is we all grow old at some point. People who press (abuse) this point will eventually reach the same point themselves. Disclaimer: I do not know if the company is manipulating OP or not. We definitely cannot figure that out based on what we are reading here.

      1. Judy*

        I’ve also seen this at several companies. It usually starts a year or two after the employee passes the early retirement window. So at my current company, 55 with at least 20 years service, or 60 with 10 years service. The reduction to pension based on retiring before 65 is pretty significant, I think it’s 2% a year. I guess it’s another way to reduce pension liabilities.

        Of course, they froze the pension in 2007, and so theoretically in the future, it won’t be as much of an issue. Anyone hired after that date will not have a pension, just a 401k.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Wow. That stinks.

        My company is big on diversity, and they have plenty of older workers. It’s a technology company too, so they’re not assuming older people can’t work a computer. I think this may actually be one of the last companies that wants you to stay forever (they actually tell you that when you’re hired).

    3. Joey*

      That makes no sense to me. It would be like requiring someone moving to another town to sell his house just to prove to you that he doesn’t intend on returning anytime soon.

      1. Jessa*

        Which can be an issue for another reason, a lot of people I know were pretty much raised on “never sell real estate you own.” Rent it, lease it, whatever, but land has value, you don’t sell it unless the government is coming with an eminent domain suit. So they move, but they keep the old place as an investment property.

    4. The IT Manager*

      +1. I noted below that the information that he was not taking his family and would presumably be leaving town every weekend to return to them could be one reason the company changed their mind especially if they have a good reason for requiring him to reside nearby the office.

      I agree it’s not a good policy, but his age could just be a red herring.

    5. Jake*

      That logic is so broken that my entire industry would collapse if all companies thought that way.

      I work in construction where it is extremely common for workers to maintain 2 households, one home base and one job base. The idea that he will constantly be asking for extra time off can easily be alleviated by a competent manager in either of the following two ways,

      “Hey Bill, just giving you a heads up, this is going to be a pretty intense position that we need somebody fully invested in Mon-Fri and with some possible overtime. I know you’ve been a dedicated employee in the past, but I know how tough it can be in this situation, so I just wanted to make sure we are on the same page.” This applies if it is a position where your hours actually matter (in-store manager, customer service, etc.)

      Or you can simply monitor how much work he gets done. If he gets all his work done and wants to leave early (assuming he is exempt or willing to not get paid for those hours), then who cares. This applies to positions where work load is what actually matters (accountant, engineer, etc.).

      In the case of this letter writer’s husbands company and all the other companies using this logic they are effectively saying that they suck at managing people.

      As an aside, I’m not going off on you, just the idea that this could actually be considered a reasonable idea.

  7. EngineerGirl*

    #1 He is stealing from you and you feel guilty leaving? Think of it this way – without consequences he has no incentive to behave in a manner that is the best for him. Leave and let him get to the place he needs to be. And then file with the DOL. Because he’s also cheating the Feds on taxes and social security.

  8. Katie*

    #2 I thought it was a HIPAA violation for an employer to share and employees medical status if they know it.

      1. A Teacher*

        Actually, any medical provider (Nurse, OT, PT, Massage therapist, athletic trainer) or “vendor” like an insurance company, the company that codes and bills, etc…

        1. fposte*

          From what I can see, it’s not the FMLA time per se that would invoke HIPAA, it’s that any health information the organization gets from the employee’s doctor for FMLA purposes might be covered by HIPAA (not finding anything definitive, so I think people are acting on theory here). However, if you get the info from the employee, it apparently doesn’t fall under HIPAA, FMLA or not.

          1. KellyK*

            So, if you end up needing FMLA time, and you want your medical info kept private, is there a way to go about doing that? Hopefully without being too much of a pain for the employer. It would be annoying and could seem confrontational to expect them to go through your doctor for everything, but if it gives you at least a little protection of privacy, it might be a good trade-off.

            1. Judy*

              From my memory of FMLA and from a google search, there’s a federal form to use. (WH-380-E) I’m not sure if employers have to use this form or not.

              Just coach your doctor on the way you want the form to read.

              1. Judy*

                Meant to say, it’s not like a company would let you just walk in and say “I need FMLA, see ya in 13 weeks!”. In my experience, they always want doctor’s notes for things like this.

                1. fposte*

                  It’s not clear that there is a way. It’s possible that if they communicate directly with the doctor that information is considered protected health information even when the company talks about you, but that’s not completely clear; it does seem clear that if you give them the information, it’s not.

                  Interestingly, the form you note mentions the ADA as relevant but not a peep on HIPAA, which again suggests that the information might not currently be considered to be covered under it.

            2. fposte*

              Don’t forget you may need to pay your doctor for filling out the forms, too.

              Right now I’m not finding anything that categorically states that information direct from the doctor binds the employer to HIPAA regs as well; I’m just seeing policy stuff that says getting it from the employee means it’s not. So I’d say even if you do find a doctor willing to do all the running, that’s not a guarantee.

            3. fposte*

              I just found this on a health lawyers site under the section about FMLA: “Employment records that include employee health information that are maintained by an employer in its role as an employer are not governed by HIPAA, except for health records maintained by the employer’s health plan.” So these lawyers are saying that even FMLA doesn’t mean that an employer is bound by HIPAA in treating employee information.

        2. A cita*

          HIPAA restrictions only apply to persons who work in medical, health services, and medical/health services researchers. No one else. Never your employer.

          So a doctor is restricted by HIPAA in providing an employee’s health information without permission. It does not restrict what the recipient of that information does with it if they don’t work or do research in medicine or health services.

          To give an example from the research perspective: Say I conduct interviews with discharge patients for a research project that contains identifiable patient health information. If I work as a research in a school of medicine or school of public health, I am restricted by HIPAA in how I handle that information and who I can show it to (identifiable information). If I do the same work in anthropology or sociology, and handle the same identifiable data, HIPAA has no bearing on me.

          1. TL*

            But you would be covered by an ethics committee at that point, correct? From either the grant-gifting side or from your own institute.

            So hopefully there’s some internal policies on handling FMLA information from the company.

            1. A cita*

              Yes, but I avoided talking about that because it’s something completely different and we’re talking about HIPAA specifically here, which restricts sharing identifiable personal health information without permission. Ethics review boards (IRBs) govern the handling of any identifiable information (not just health information and not just specifics, like name, but even a set of general clues that could enable someone who knows the subject to deduce who they are) for any topics (not necessarily health related) of research that involve human subjects. So completely different thing.

          2. fposte*

            “Never your employer” isn’t quite right either, though–there are circumstances where health insurance methodologies (such as self-insurance) would indeed make your employer subject to HIPAA. (I suspect our assistance plan might be, too, since the counselors are direct employees of the university.)

  9. Anonymous*

    #5, I’m not sure exactly what the process of retiring is, but I thought anyone could officially retire and then start a new job the next day. If he’s still on pension versus 401K, can he just file for retirement or whatever you do and then move back home and find a new job?

    It definitely sucks what they’re doing, but if they’re going to do it and there’s some way to make sure he gets any retirement benefits they would have given him, go for it.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Some folks have a written financial plan that calls for working until age X with Y income, in order to have a secure retirement life.

      Some folks cannot find a new job to start. Or they prefer to stay where they are.

      Sadly, with the way things are going some people will never retire. They just cannot afford it.
      Just as an aside to all- you are never too young to start saving for retirement. Even if it is only a few dollars a week, it is amazing the difference it will make later on.

      1. Anonymous*

        Some folks cannot find a new job to start. Or they prefer to stay where they are.

        But they’re laying him off as of December 31 anyway. If he can’t find a new job afterward, it doesn’t matter if he retires or not, does it? If there’s some way to get retirement benefits from them by officially retiring before 12/31 instead of just sitting and waiting for them to lay him off, he should do it. He needs to know what his options are now, not what he should have done 40 years ago.

        1. Judy*

          In my experience, yes, someone can retire under that circumstance, but at 62, that means a 6% reduction in benefits. Our company reduces benefits for early retirement 2% a year. That also means 3 years of (hopefully) highest earning year credit from social security is gone.

          As much as Alison mentions that people should be changing jobs every3-5 years, I still hear conversations like, that guy is 50, why invest in someone who will only be around at most for 15 years? (My experience is corporate engineering and R&D.)

          1. ExceptionToTheRule*

            If the option is taking a 6% reduction in a possible pension benefit versus losing that pension benefit altogether, it’s a no brainer to take the reduced benefit pension payout.

            Just because you retire from one job doesn’t mean that you have to start taking Social Security or withdrawals from your 401K. Especially if you plan to continue to work in some fashion.

            1. Brett*

              You still get your pension if you are laid off or fired. Otherwise companies would just fire everyone the day before they retire. As I mentioned below, at 62 years plus 13 years with company, he is probably not eligible to take a pension yet anyway.

              1. fposte*

                You get your pension if you’re vested, but if you’re not vested yet and your plan doesn’t allow for portability, it’s all gone.

          2. EngineerGirl*

            Yes. They tell you that you are “too expensive”. Ironically all that experience can save the company millions in preventing mistakes and traps less experienced engineers wouldn’t detect.

            I had HR try to tell me that last year. Let’s see – I made you a few hundred million by bringing the project in on time and on target. On top of that I did my job so well that we were able to cut out an extra test event that cost several hundred thousand dollars. And you are telling me I’m too expensive compared to the original junior engineer that messed the project up badly enough that it had to be reworked? Hmmm .

    2. Brett*

      “If he’s still on pension versus 401K, can he just file for retirement or whatever you do and then move back home and find a new job?”
      At his age and experience (62+13=75 points), odds are he is vested but not eligible for his pension yet. Would likely be 3 or more years still until he could start collecting even if he retired.

      And there would be a pretty hefty penalty for retiring early on a pension. Probably looking at around a 5-15% annual total penalty.

    3. EngineerGirl*

      I wouldn’t if they”forced” me into retiring I would first take the severance and also take unemoyment. After that ran out I would retire. But force me out by playing games? You pay. This is a partnership and I expect no games.

      1. Kathy*

        There is no severance, they said “since you are not moving over with the entire family we retract our offer”. No pension, just 401K, not ready to retire, but may have no other option.

  10. Bea W*

    #3 – that manager is behaved like a…how do I put this delicately…flaming gluteal exit. He’ll lose all of his best employees continuing to behave like this.

    There is nothing inappropriate about doing non-work things on your lunch break, and it appears he was well within the policy of “reasonable personal use of the telecommunications and IT infrastructure during working hours.”He wasn’t watching porn or something else inappropriate. If the new manager wants to play by different rules and not allow employees to surf the internet during their lunch break, he needs to warn employees ahead of time.

  11. Elise*

    #1 – it actually doesn’t even sound like a rate had ever been agreed to. “Competitive” is a salesman’s word that means nothing. When you are getting your new job, talk actual numbers.

    1. Anonymous*

      You should be able to assume that competitive doesn’t mean significantly less than minimum wage!

      1. Elise*

        I agree. The manager is not at all in the right. I just wanted to stress that pay discussions need to involve numbers and not concepts.

        I see a lot of people taken advantage of because they assumed the vague reference they were given was very different than it ended up being.

  12. Original #2*

    I knew there was no legal recourse like HIPAA, I was just hoping there was some HR best practices that stated “don’t do it.” Even mentioning time off gets spread around the office like wildfire. Luckily, a few days after I sent in the original question, we found out it wasn’t life or death and that I managed to avoid invasive surgery with a minimum six week recovery time (and forced disability after a week). Although the issues was still major, due to negative test results, I found out instead that could do a single outpatient over the weekend and be fine. It just so happened that I didn’t have to tell him anything at all.

    Thanks again!

    1. CAA*

      That’s great about your not needing major surgery after all! I’m sure it was a big relief.

      Yes, the best practice would be to not share employees’ personal information without their permission. However, there’s no way to force your organization to adopt best practices and some people are just chatty and indiscreet.

  13. Bea W*

    #5 – Look at his severance package – it might be worth taking and retiring early or looking for other work. He could also just say that he will be relocating first, and then once situated the rest of the family will follow and leave it at that. If the company will not pay for relocation, it’s probably not worth it at this point where he plans to retire soon. It will just eat into your savings paying for 2 households and travel back home for visits. I’ve known a number of families (including 2 co-workers) who are/were split due to one spouse working in another state, and it’s really not sustainable long term, even if you have no children at home. It’s hard on the relationship and hard on the wallet.

    My guess is that they just want to lay people off, and were counting on people not wanting to relocate. My company did something similar a couple years ago, laid off all remote employees. Most just took the lay-off rather than relocate.

    1. LisaLyn*

      Ah, good point. It makes an evil sort of sense that they were hoping he would refuse to move. Now that he is, they’re grasping at straws because they probably fear just firing him might bring on an age discrimination suit.

  14. John*

    #6 — It’s a cart/horse issue to me. Naming the salary you’d like to make seems a little wonky to me. I would frame it more about how you are looking for opportunities to grow and add value. I think you have to start delivering greater value before bringing up compensation.

    That said, if you are a strong performer, I do think it’s important to push your employer on comp to keep them honest. Being the Good Child ain’t going to get you what you’re worth. A number of years back I was in a critical role and a top performer being paid way under market and had a boss who was doing nothing about it. I finally had a really strong conversation with him where I laid out the facts and made it clear I expected them to finally step up. The following Monday he called me into his office and said it was “a good thing” that I’d pushed because “HR was planning on giving you only a small raise” but he’d managed to get me more.

    Sometimes you have to make it hard for them on the comp front.

  15. Claire*

    Re: 3. It really speaks to this manager’s immaturity that he took a sneaky phone pic of the situation and sent it to EVERYONE! Aside from the fact that the guy never should have got in trouble for a little YouTube, a good manager would have talked to him about it in the moment.

    Also, how come none of the other directors defended the guy? If this happened at my work, I’d seriously start questioning all of management, not just the one manager.

    1. fposte*

      And if looking at pictures isn’t okay at work, why is he sending people pictures to look at during work?

    2. Doy*

      This is typical bullying behaviour.

      The target is a high performer and the manager is feeling inadequate in comparison. The total over-the-top reaction to a perceived infraction is the give away.

      The manager’s boss needs to put a firm foot down now or this guy will drive out all the good people, as not just the target will be looking elsewhere.

  16. LisaLyn*

    OP 1 is horrifying situation. “The one” like in The Matrix? I am going to be harsher than I usually am here, but here comes an unsolicited PSA. Do NOT let crap flattery like that affect you in any way, in any aspect of your life, but especially at work. As others have said, if you were “the one” you would be compensated fairly.

  17. Colette*

    #6 I’d like to set up my own meeting with the person that is the decision maker in this regard (and also the department head), before both the formal review conversation and the compensation review

    Is the decision maker someone other than your manager? This doesn’t sound like a good conversation to have without your manager being in the loop.

    1. Jen*

      OP here.

      I’m in a consulting firm, so it’s a bit of an odd structure at the moment. I have a project manager that occasionally swoops in, and then the decision maker/department head/practice manager (and he’s the one that would make the final call).

      1. Colette*

        Fair enough.

        If you do have a direct manager who is not the decision maker, I’d suggest making sure you discuss it with her first – but if there isn’t someone in that role for you, it sounds like you’re planning to talk to the right person.

  18. Anoners*

    I’m totally shocked about the $600 /month at 40hrs a week. Goodness! You need out of there and to find someplace that’s paying fairly and not treated you so badly. Good luck! :)

    1. VintageLydia*

      You’d be surprise how even those with a strong sense of their self worth can succumb to abuse, especially when things like their livelihood is on the line and you don’t have much worldly experience (the OP sounds young. Not a knock on her–we were all young once.) It’s easier than you think to be gaslighted into believing that you either deserve your ill treatment or that causing others to feel the consequences of their actions is actually WORSE than what the abuser did.

      1. OP #1*

        I’m the sucker from #1. As a recent graduate, I was desperate for anything, and this job is centered around helping people (drug/alcohol treatment agency), which appealed to me. The reason why I balk at leaving is because it’s not *all* terrible (and this may be Stockholm Syndrome)– there are some days when I’m ready to walk out, and other days where I remember the clients I’m helping. However, with my boss’s unethical behavior, best believe that I am earnestly searching for an employer who will recognize my worth.

  19. The IT Manager*

    #5 is very curious. Not enough info but lots of room for speculation.

    I wonder if they were hoping he would resign instead of relocate and when he informed them he was relocating they decided to lay him off. An effort to avoid unemployment insurance; although, wouldn’t a forced rel0cation to keep a job be the kind of situation that would allow someone to recieve unemployements as constructive dismissal?

    Or possibly when the company heard that his family wasn’t moving with him, they realized that he is very much a short timer, and decided to just start fresh. Kind of like they didn’t actually realize how close he was to retirement until that moment. Was your husband going to get paid for the relocation? Instead of paying it they decided to just start fresh with a new employee now instead of two or three years from now when your husband does retire.

    Also perhaps its the “reside in the area” clause. They figure that if he’s living as a geographic bacholer during the week, he’ll be leaving every weekend to return home to you and won’t be available for whatever reason they need him to live close by and others will have to pick up his slack.

    The company may or may not being sneaky. They may have wanted to force your husband out or maybe they just made some assumptions about his announcement that you weren’t moving with him that they decided he’d make a poor employee. Either way I don’t see them doing anything illegal. It’s possibly a convoluted plan to fire the old guy just before he reaches max retirement, but if it is it seems convoluted enough that they’ve gotten away with it.

  20. Anonymous*

    #1. Can you pay rent on $600/month? Would he be happy earning that amount. No way.

    In any event, I had a former employer—French (perhaps that made a difference)–who was suspicious of employees who readily worked for very little. He just couldn’t wrap his mind around that because he would squeeze every penny he could out of clients; often holding them ‘hostage’ until they coughed up his demands. Nonetheless, he did look out for those he thought most likely to agree to work for less. He once intended to meet a new hire at the train station to tell him the ‘deal was off’ because he had found someone cheaper. Mind you, this person had relocated from another country. That fact did not weigh on his conscience one bit. Employees, he freely offered, were mere ‘sheep,’ fodder, with no backbone nor power. They always ‘want’ something…. and in his view…for nothing.

    He tried likewise with me, promising one salary and once I was on board, presented me with another, with an awkward smirk on his face that showed he was fully aware of the bait and switch at play. I took it only because I was stuck at the time with few or no options at the ready.

    Seriously, if he can’t pay a living wage, he’s running a failed enterprise with you as a casualty.

    1. OP #1*

      OP here. Well, I hear you on the failed enterprise aspect. My boss has basically told me that the company is operating month-to-month, based on the money I help bring in. He says that my pay is directly related to how much we make each month, so sometimes it is $550, sometimes closer to $700. However, there is evidence that he uses some of the company funds for himself (he has a juiced-up Lexus and often receives personal packages at the office). If the company is struggling, as he has said numerous times, I wonder how he is able to afford his expensive hobbies.

  21. E.G*

    Agree that OP#1 is in a horrifying situation. Definitely run and dont look back (In Canada, where I live, you can receive employment insurance benefits if you are promised a certain wage or job and what you actually do and receive is far below that, so you are “forced” to leave). Unfortunately, I had to look that up when my boss recently announced that he is slashing our team’s salaries by 50%. I understand feeling guilt over leaving – I actually like my job and my boss as a person and empathize with our company’s financial struggles, but need a living wage.

    Some advice for dating that also applies to this situation – dont pay attention to what people say, only what they do.

  22. nyxalinth*

    OP #4 Nothing helpful to say, I’m afraid, but if your company is the one named after a city in Maryland known for its series about scrolls that are elder, or is in California names after a wintertime weather event, I so envy you! In nice ways, of course :)

  23. Brett*

    #5 This requirement could also be interpreted as a residency requirement. Generally bans on residency requirements (which Florida does have) have no effect on private employers, but private employers who bid on public contracts might be barred by the bid process from imposing residency requirements.
    Not necessarily going to fit this situation, but another aspect worth looking into.

  24. Anonymous*

    So many small businesses think the rules don’t apply to them. I won’t work for another small family business. Feel no guilt about quitting, #1!

  25. Del*

    #1 – There’s a stereotype about women (I’m assuming you are a woman, given the reference to the “just wear a wedding ring” response to harassment) that we will work for praise, rather than money. It sounds like the boss is trying to use that on you, so absolutely don’t let him! If he truly valued you that much, he would pay and treat you commensurately. Since he doesn’t, I think you can take that as a clear message about your actual value to him. Actions (and paychecks!) are worth so, so much more than words.

    1. Anonymous*

      Sadly, I’ve heard women say they’d take being appreciated over being remunerated. Men, never. Money is what counts. Truth-be-told, a woman can happily report to one and all that she feels appreciated at work and as a result have no qualms in not seeking promotions and pay hikes; a man, however, cannot. Which woman would not bug her eyes out at her husband for saying likewise and threaten to beat him to death with her Manolo Blahnik? Fellow men as well would secretly ridicule him, denounce him as ‘beta,’ mere fodder for the ‘alpha.’

      1. Judy*

        Yet I’ve also heard men say that while their kids were young, they stayed in a less prestigious job (quality) rather than the new product design function, because there is much less travel, and much more even workload.

        I really don’t care that my husband moved to a job that makes him happy but now makes 70% of what he did before which was 10% less than what I make. I like it when my husband is not stressed all the time. He’s much more fun to be around.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Truth-be-told, a woman can happily report to one and all that she feels appreciated at work and as a result have no qualms in not seeking promotions and pay hikes; a man, however, cannot.

        Not true of all women, though. I absolutely would not put up with this #1 crap for one minute. And I have always looked for jobs based on what they pay, not how nice my boss is.

      3. fposte*

        While the gender expectations may differ, there are definitely men who are content with recognition instead of advancement, and not necessarily to the disappointment of their spouses. So the “never” isn’t true.

  26. Elizabeth West*

    #1–guilty about leaving law-breaking boss

    100% what Alison said. OP, you would not be doing anything wrong by leaving. You owe this assclown NOTHING. And please, please report him.

  27. Ruffingit*

    #1 – aside for the total illegality of a lot of what is going on at your office, I’m concerned for you inability to set healthy boundaries. What is going on at your office is illegal, is harming you financially and emotionally, and yet YOU feel guilty?? Consider seeking therapy to explore why you are feeling badly about the poor treatment you are receiving. Learning to set healthy boundaries for what you will and will not accept is vitally important. At the moment, you are feeling guilty for leaving a place where less than the minimal standards are being offered. Something is wrong with the way you think about things, please fix that. I don’t say this as an insult, but rather because an inability to set standards for what is acceptable and to feel good about doing that is really going to hurt you in the long run.

  28. RedStateBlues*

    Between what I’ve read on this blog, my and my wife’s past experiences, it sure appears to me that a disproportionate number of small businesses have shady/illegal business practices…

  29. Cathy Shanes*

    #1 – Loyalty is a good thing, but when it crosses the line of your interest, then you should think your position over. I know that sometimes our good upbringing and thoughtfulness don’t let us put self first, but I’m also sure there’s nothing to be ashamed/afraid of in this case and you should think about yourself.

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