my boss loaned me money and now insists I repay it all immediately, union membership on a resume, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. I don’t want my boss to hire another person to do the same work as me

I am a PhD who works in an analytical role that requires a lot of special training and expertise. I’ve been at my current job for 1.5 years, and my boss seems really happy with me. She often jokes with others about how she wants to “clone” me, and I keep getting more and more projects thrown my way.

The problem is that I’m now having trouble keeping up with the amount of work. My boss is now pushing her boss to approve funding to hire another person like me. It almost seems like she thinks that if one of me is great, then two of me will be even better. The problem is that I’m at a point in my career (7 years in) where I’d really like to start moving up into a higher role than just an analyst. I’m concerned that if she hires another person like me, at my same level, we’re going to be competing against each other. I’ve been in this position in my previous job, and things got awkward fast. It was a major reason why I wanted to leave my previous role – I was hoping to find more opportunities for greater responsibility elsewhere. I thought that working hard would be the right way to move up, but instead it seems to be keeping me stuck.

Do you think I should talk to my boss and tell her my concerns? I don’t want to come across as selfish and self-serving, but it is affecting my level of motivation.

Well, you can’t really say “don’t hire an additional person” if there’s work that she needs an additional person to do. But you could certainly tell her that you’re interested in advancing, and ask whether there’s a way to structure the second position to be junior to yours, freeing you up to focus on the higher level work of the two roles. (That only works if the work can be divided that way, of course. If it can’t, then it might make more sense to just talk to her about what your career path there could look like in general.) But if you’re great at what you do (and it sounds like she thinks you are, if she wants to clone you), you shouldn’t let yourself feel threatened by the prospect of an additional person on your team.

2. My boss loaned me money and now insists I repay it all immediately

While I was still working for my boss, he loaned me half the cost of a car — a car that I needed to be more efficient at my traveling sales job. I didn’t want to get into a loan, but he assured me that there was no time frame for repayment and that he wasn’t concerned about the amount, as he is very wealthy and the loan is for a small amount. However, he loaned the money directly to me, personal loan, that was unfortunately a verbal contract only. The car is entirely in my name including title, registration, insurance, and even the emissions testing. In terms of repayment of that loan, the agreement was that I was going to take money from my paychecks and repay him as we went along.

Long story short, the job didn’t work out for me financially and I couldn’t support myself with what I was making in commission sales. I did everything I could to keep paying him and worked for him running the office, and making payments, while I tried to get another job. Then I got an offer of an unpaid 3-month internship that would lead into a paid job in my career path. We agreed that I would do the internship and then resume payments after the 3 months.

At the end of the third month of the internship, that’s when things got crazy. Now, my boss wants me to repay the loan in full, or give him the car back. One or the other. He wants to hold onto the car until I repay him in full. We never had a final pay-by date agreed upon, so can he just set a date and make me adhere to that? Also, he took my last paycheck and put it toward my loan principle. I’ve been reading and I don’t think he can take a personal loan payment out of my work paycheck. Now, he is telling me he is suing me and that his lawyer says it is an open and shut case. I’m a little nervous because I don’t know the law very well, but I comforted that he doesn’t really have that much against me. What should I do!?! Does he have a case against me?

I don’t know if he has a case because I’m not a lawyer and the situation is really outside the realm of the usual types of law we talk about here (i.e., workplace law). But no, he shouldn’t be able to take your last paycheck and apply it to a personal situation without your permission — that’s a clear violation of labor law. And I wouldn’t trust anyone who tells you that the legal case they have against you is “open and shut” when they have a vested interest in you believing that; it’s in his best interests to have you believe that, and it’s in your best interest to talk to a lawyer of your own (and to contact your state labor department about that final paycheck).

Lessons for everyone else: Don’t take loans from managers (or coworkers, for that matter). And put any loan agreement with anyone in writing, including repayment terms.

3. When an interviewer opens the conversation by asking for questions

I recently had a job interview that felt slightly awkward from the first moment– I panicked for half a second when the person who greeted me had no idea who I was or what I was there for, so I was already a little off balance when the interviewer and I sat down to talk…and then her first question was, “So, do you have any questions for me?” I was taken by surprise, and scrambled for something to say. I wanted to hear more about the position, because I didn’t want to base everything I said on my own interpretation of the job posting and possibly seem like I didn’t even know what job I was interviewing for, but I didn’t want to actually ask, in case it seemed like I didn’t even know what job I was interviewing for, so my answer to that question was pretty well bungled and things didn’t improve from there. (We moved on to, “What do you know about our organization?” which looked like an easy one because I knew exactly what they do, but unfortunately for me it was followed by, “It sounds like you know what chocolate teapots are– do you have experience with them or did you just get that off our website?” I know there’s a good, friendly, enthusiastic, non-stupid way to explain that you know what they are because you have a double master’s degree in teapots and chocolate, which is why you are interested in working for a chocolate teapot organization, and also you read their website last night, but I didn’t think of it in time, alas, and although I wouldn’t call the interview a total disaster by any means, it didn’t get a whole lot better).

Anyway, my questions are these: Is it just my lack of interview experience (I’ve had somewhere between 10 and 20 interviews, which doesn’t seem like a lot to me…) or is it uncommon to begin by asking if the interviewee has any questions? And if I’m likely to encounter this scenario again, what sorts of things would be reasonable to ask an interviewer before they’ve asked or told you anything? Can you open straight up with, “What makes an excellent teapot steward?”…?

It’s not uncommon for an interviewer to open that way. But it does feel a little odd to jump into all of the questions that you might have planned out when you figured you’d be asked for questions at the end of the conversation, not the beginning. Some good questions when this happens are ones that ask about the role itself, so things like: “I’d love to hear you talk about the things that are most important in the role” … “What are the most key things for this person to accomplish this year?” … “What are the biggest challenges you expect the person in this role to face?” and so forth.

4. How should I explain that I was out of work for a year because of cancer?

I’m about to start interviewing for an executive sales manager position and had to stop working at my previous employer due to a unique form of cancer. Due to chemo, radiation and then ultimately a major operation to remove the cancerous tumor, I was out of work for approximately a full year. I’m on the road to recovery and it’s time to get back into the rat race so I can pay off my medical bills..

I know the question will arise during the interview, “Why have you been unemployed for the last year?” My question to you is should I be honest and explain that I was fighting cancer for the last year? I don’t want the future company to worry about my health and when someone mentions cancer, it may be looked down upon for a potential employee.

The other issue is that when you google my name and city that I live in, my name comes up in a lot of articles due to the work and help that I gave to the American Cancer Society. I raised a lot of awareness and money for ACS and should be looked at a positive, but I also don’t want to lie in my interview especially if they did research on my previous accomplishments.

For any health situation, including this one, all you have to say is, “I was dealing with a health issue that has since been resolved.” That’s it! They shouldn’t ask for details (because that would put them on very shaky ground legally), and the “since been resolved” part of that sentence says “it’s in the past and I’m ready to return to work.” No need to go into any details beyond that. Good luck!

5. Should I put union membership on my resume?

I am a graduate student in the social sciences searching for a job after my degree is complete. I am a union member, but I am not sure whether to include this information on my resume or CV. Do you have any recommendations?

I don’t see how it helps you, it has a small chance of hurting you with some employers, and it has nothing to do with your ability to excel in a job — so no, I wouldn’t include it.

{ 223 comments… read them below }

  1. Angela S.*

    To OP#3 – I had a job interview recently that was exactly like that. So, I kept asking about additional responsibilities and the special projects that I might get a chance to involve in. Sadly, the interviewer couldn’t tell me more. She basically told me those responsibilities listed on the job posting.

    The interviewer would not be the boss. Someone else would be. She was the office manager while the team leader was too busy to take time out to interview me.

    The interview lasted about half an hour. I didn’t get a call back. I felt like it was a joke. It was really too bad. But then, it did tell me something about the work environment there.

    1. kas*

      I had an interview like that last year. Person interviewing me only worked part-time, the owner of the company was her friend that she helped out sometimes. She had no education or experience in the field so she could only really tell me what was in the job description and couldn’t answer any of my questions. After spending so much time getting ready/preparing and driving all the way downtown in traffic, the interview lasted less than 10/15 minutes. Such a waste of time ..

      1. Ruffingit*

        I hate that. I had an interview not long ago where I was asked to bring several documents including my M.A. degree, which is a somewhat bulky document (glad I haven’t framed it yet that would be even worse). They wanted to make copies of these items, which was fine. So I gather all of that stuff, drive 25+ miles and get to the interview. I’m kept waiting a good 15 minutes past the time and the interviewer then asked me a few questions that indicated she hadn’t bothered to read my resume. The entire interview was maybe 20 minutes, maybe and they didn’t bother making copies of the items they’d asked me to bring specifically for that purpose.

        I later found out they hired an internal candidate so I’m pretty sure this was one of those things where they had to interview a certain number of people, but already knew who was being hired. Irritating.

  2. Stephanie*

    #2-What the hell? I’ve had coworkers who wouldn’t even lend me a dollar for the vending machine. Go find a lawyer now.

    #3-I’ve had this happen. It’s the worst. How do you turn this sort of interview into a conversation? I’m the type to keep asking questions, but that can quickly turn into a one-sided inquisition (and make it sound like I have doubts about the role).

    #5-I’d leave it off myself (unless you’ve got some significant leadership experience or accomplishments). Unions are just too polarizing of an issue. Is this your grad student union? That might be a little less polarizing than the UAW or something. Only instance I think it might help if you’re in an industry that’s particularly union-friendly.

    1. AB Normal*

      “#3-I’ve had this happen. It’s the worst. How do you turn this sort of interview into a conversation? ”

      Easy. I’ve had this happen too, and here’s the formula go turn the interview back into a conversation with the interviewer asking most of the questions:

      1) Ask a question in the lines of what AAM suggested (“can you tell me what key skills you are looking for in a candidate?”, or something like that).

      2) Follow-up the answer with some observation/example that indicates you have the key skills they are looking for, and then ask a question that brings the ball back to their court: “What else can I tell you about myself to help you determine if I’m a good fit for this position?”

      1. Seattle Writer Girl*

        I’ve asked as an interviewee and been asked as an interviewer:

        “What do you like about working here?”

        It’s a question any employee should be able to answer and their response will tell you a lot about the corporate culture. My most telling experience was at a company that was regularly touted as one of the “100 Best” in the city, known for their flexible and fun culture. They even had a large book in the lobby with photos of them at many fun company events.

        Yet, when I asked each interviewer (10 in all) if they participated in any of the events, not a single person said they had.

    2. OP #5*

      It is a graduate student union that is affiliated with the UAW, actually. I asked because my fellow grad students and I have been told to include professional affiliations and memberships on our resumes. I think I will just stick to future industry memberships.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        If you’re getting that advice, it’s likely because they’re assuming it’s a professional affiliation/membership related to your degree program. FWIW, I agree with Alison to leave it off, as it’s (as I understand what you’ve said), germane to either your degree program or your ability to do a job.

        1. PEBCAK*

          Agreed, unless you have some sort of leadership position or staff position within the union. Just being a member isn’t worth listing. Being VP-communications when you are applying to a marketing position, well, then you have to weigh the pros against the con AAM mentioned, but I’d personally say err on the side of including it.

          1. academic adminstrator*

            I’d leave out any mention, unless you’re applying to a college where there’s a union for that group. Some Deans/Provosts are very nervous about any academic group on their campus unionizing.

    3. Greg*

      “#3-I’ve had this happen. It’s the worst.”

      Really? I think it’s great. Most of us have a couple different spins we could put on our experience, depending on the situation. Hopefully, you have a pretty good idea of which to use depending on the job description, but as we all know, job descriptions don’t always reflect reality (and in many cases weren’t even written by the hiring manager).

      If they start off by letting you ask questions, you have the opportunity to shape your story based on their responses. “What attributes are you looking for in this role?” “We want someone with a strong sales background who’s passionate about chocolate teapots.” “That’s great, because I’ve spent the past five years in sales and am a third-generation chocolate teapot enthusiast.”

      1. Stephanie*

        Thanks! I’ve gotten better at this, but first time it just really threw me for a loop. I just have a tendency to ask a lot of questions, which isn’t always endearing to an interviewer.

  3. Confused*

    From watching People’s Court I want to say the burden of proof that the money was a loan falls on your boss. But I’m not a lawyer. Consult somsone asap.

    1. IndieGir*

      As a devotee of Judge Judy, I’d say that the fact that the OP was making repayments would substantiate the loan. However, Judy would then blast the Evil Boss out 0f the water for trying to unilaterally change the terms of the loan when they had previously agreed to the normal loan repayments resuming after the unpaid internship: “One party can’t change a contract — both parties have to agree! There’s something wrong with you!”

      And I completely concur — get a lawyer, ASAP!

        1. Nikki T*

          Yes, yes we are. And since they are clearly marked as such, I think we’ll just take it with a grain of salt.

          And I agree with IndieGir that’s what Judge Judy would say.

        2. Confused*

          Grain of salt. That’s why I included the name of the show and then suggested OP consult with someone legit.

        3. Malissa*

          Judge Judy is an actual arbitrator and the court cases are real. What you see going down is an actual arbitration case and the rulings are legal. So yes, basing advice off of actual legal proceedings isn’t that bad of an idea.

          1. A Bug!*

            Arbitration doesn’t necessarily mean “follows the laws of the relevant jurisdiction in the same way that an actual court would”. That’s actually why it’s such a big deal that consumer credit companies are sticking binding arbitration clauses into their credit card contracts.

            Judge Judy isn’t case law. It’s a fun thought exercise but I would certainly not base advice to the OP on what might happen on Judge Judy unless the OP is planning to have Judge Judy resolve the matter.

  4. Confused*

    I’m not the OP, but I have a follow up question about what to do on a resume regarding health gaps. Do you just leave a gap and hope you get an interview so you can explain yourself? Or do you address it in your cover letter straight away?

    1. Gjest*

      I would say it depends on how long ago the gap was. If it is the last year or within the last couple of years, I’d address it in the cover letter. But if it is more than 3 years ago, or a few jobs back, I’d just wait to see if they brought it up in an interview.

    2. Anonymous*

      Why do gaps matter?

      I’m reviewing resumes for a person to report to me – first time as a manager apart from interns.

      I’ve seen lots of what appear to be good people with a one-year gap here or there. Some quite recent. If they otherwise seems to have a good record of steady employment and look good for the job, why should this bother me, or at least prevent me from moving them forward in the process to the point when I talk to them.

      I’d like to know why gaps matter.

      1. Rayner*

        Because if a person has had a reasonably long history of employment, that’s been steady and consistent and boom, they’ve just had a two year gap, then a hiring manager may be curious as to why. Maybe the resume owner has had a few years off in a new career but neglected to put it on there, maybe they’ve been out of the workforce through unemployment – and away from relevant developments, and technologies for a year – maybe they’ve been a stay at home parent during that time.

        Who knows?

        Although it’s not necessarily a turn off, I would definitely want to investigate it further if they were otherwise a strong candidate to see if it would be a problem.

          1. LisaLyn*

            Wow. Sarcasm. Rayner gave a very good explanation, which you asked for, about why a gap in a resume make spark some interest from a potential employer. Sorry if you don’t like the answer, but it’s the way it is.

            1. Anonymous*

              My question wasn’t about interest. My question was why would it matter enough to think hard about it in advance of talking to them.

              And “very good”? Yes most of it, but I find a year away from relevant experience not very good as an explanation – or at least I find it hard to believe, so that’s why I commented on that. But if there examples where a year away from relevant experience really makes an otherwise good candidate undesirable, I’m all ears.

              1. Rayner*

                It depends entirely on your field of employment as to whether or not that could be relevant.

                If you work in physical industries like mining, or in fast food for example (out of many) it’s highly unlikely that the main technology and thought process behind your work will have changed.

                If, however, you worked in a very technology focused industry, or an industry that changes very quickly like fashion or publishing, I’d be concerned that you may have had your finger off the pulse for a year.

                It isn’t necessarily a deal breaker but it may warrant me poking a little further, and asking why.

                1. TL*

                  Yeah, in my industry some years wouldn’t be a big deal to miss – but others would and you would be seriously out of touch with ‘how things are done.’

          2. Jen RO*

            Depending on the field, yes, being away from relevant developments for a longer amount of time could mean a candidate’s skills are less than desirable.

            1. Anonymous*

              Can you give an example where one year away turns someone from desirable to less than that?

              I’ve heard people say this, but find it hard to believe – if stuff is changing that fast, getting up to speed would seems to be pretty easy, since everyone in the field must be struggling to keep up, even if they are actively employed.

              1. Rayner*

                Publishing. Fashion. Companies that work with fast moving technology in a developmental stage.

                Not everybody will be hindered by a year away from the industry, and if a potential employee had taken courses, attended conferences or webinars related to their subject, and continued to show interest in their field for their year away, a gap may not make them undesirable. On the contrary, it might improve their chances, or keep them even, depending on what they did.

                But if they haven’t been able to provide such evidence of their interest and I have a choice between a candidate who hasn’t had a year away, and a candidate who has, it may be a factor in my decision.

                1. De Minimis*

                  Possibly accounting, if there’s a major development during the course of a single year. It becomes more and more of an issue if you start getting to where it’s more than a year. I haven’t worked in public accounting for over four years and probably would not have the option of returning at this point.

              2. TL*

                Last year-ish a new technique in genetic engineering kinda exploded so anyone who knows how to do it is a hot commodity.

                Not knowing about it in an interview would be a big mark against you (assuming you were interviewing for a higher-level position for genetic engineering.)

              3. fposte*

                It’s also the why. “I was in prison for punching my co-worker” is information an employer would want to have.

              4. Dehliaa*

                A lot can happen in obe year, away means you may not be as strong in your ability to do a job. While it doesnt sound like you would have difficulty catching on, employers ate picky that way.
                Its up to you to strengthen your abilities, e.g., you know the skills well, they’d be hard to forget based on. . . . You utilize the skills in your on home business, as a college student, as a volunteer, or on a second job. Whatever use it in a discussion to limit the concern of being away from the job.

                Basically how well do you know what you ate doing, training, work experience, etc.

        1. Stephanie*

          I’ve struggled with this–how do you fill the gap with relevant experience and prove you’re staying current? I’ve done volunteer work, but I find it’s hard to really get substantial experience from that. A lot of it tends to be really menial tasks. I can see it from the org’s perspective that they don’t want to give a lot of work to someone who could leave at any point. But I do find myself thinking “Uh, I haven’t done any Teapot Engineering in like a year since I’ve been laid off…but I’ve done volunteer work at the science museum?”

          1. Rayner*

            Are there low cost courses you could take part in? Or events that you could go to like presentations at local universities, so you’re still keeping up with the academic side of it? IDK what you do so that might be hard.

            1. Stephanie*

              Ah, I’m in an engineering field. I’ve done some mix of all of these–thanks for the suggestions. Issue I’ve found is that it’s difficult to keep up at the right skill level with volunteer work.

              1. Rayner*

                I would definitely see if there are other things you can do as well as volunteering, even if it something like online courses, because that will keep your hand in and give you documentation to show that you’re keeping your skills up.

                I would also consider maybe consider a blog or some sort of writing, as well, within your field, if that interests you. It would showcase your field, and experience, and would help you to remember all the details.

                And maybe make some connections.

                I wish you much luck :D

          2. ArtsNerd*

            I imagine it’s much more difficult to do this in technical fields, but if you can find “pro bono” work (still volunteer work but a different connotation), it’s a lot better.

            In a performing arts center, for example, if you just call and say you want to volunteer, they’ll probably have you stuff envelopes or maybe usher. But if you’re connected to the development department in some way (through a professional association or other contacts) they might need some grantwriting help – and hey! you’re an established grantwriter. This is VERY dependent on your experience (you need to have a decent amount, plus a good reputation) and your network, since walking in off the street vs. knowing someone is going to work against you.

            So not an easy answer.

            1. Stephanie*

              Yeah, I’m technical, which might make it harder since a lot of that stuff isn’t done on a nonprofit basis. Closest technical volunteer things I can find usually involve educational stuff with high school students, which interviewers tend to discount. =/

      2. Confused*

        I agree that sometimes it doesn’t or shouldn’t matter. If someone has been ill for 2 years and the issue has resolved, it should not matter. But if they took 2 years away to go to school it might mean a new degree or new skills. I also think, if you’ve been away for a while, it might make the employer wonder if you are “up to it” or would be able to get back into the groove of working again or working in a specific field again.

    3. Chinook*

      I would leave the gap and explain it in the cover letter. After all, that is the purpose of the letter – to put your resume into context.

      1. Ms Enthusiasm*

        I once interviewed a lady who had a gap listed on her resume as recovery from injuries sustained on 9/11. Her last job listed before that was in the World Trade center. It was kind of a jolt to see that actually

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I use one sentence in my cover letter. “I lost a period of time due to taking care of my sick husband, who eventually passed.”

      I find the sentence is so subtle most readers skate right by it.
      If asked in an interview I reference the sentence “Yes, I mentioned that time period in my cover letter, I took care of my sick husband who eventually passed.”

      What I like about this is I just keep reusing the same wording. I do not have to reinvent the wheel each time the subject opens up. My interview answer matches my cover letter explanation.

      Get yourself one or two sentences, OP, and just keep reusing those sentences. 99.9% of the people out there will accept it and move on. (Ok, truth be told, they have forgotten and weeks later when I am working at the job and I have to gently remind them- if it comes up in conversation.)

      1. I'm OPT #4*

        Thank you very much for your help and guidance. To follow up on my original question is really wanting to know if, or how much research is done on a applicant’s name through a search engine? If this is the case, once my name is searched then the company at hand will know that I truly did have Cancer. I know by Law the interviewer can’t ask me questions regarding a previous illness. On a positive note, if the company reads into any of the articles they will see that I did raise a lot of awareness and also large funds for ACS. My hope is that it won’t be looked at a negative. But the reality may not having a chance for an interview. My 25 years of employment and resume of accomplishment’s should get me in front of the right individuals; however, my worry is that if research is done prior to an interview my chances may be discriminated. To avoid this, do I state something on the resume regarding having Cancer and being the reason for the gap while also explain all the positives I did, articles I wrote, funds raised, etc. Or, maybe I’m thinking too hard about the situation.. :-)

        1. annie*

          Hey OP, I raise money for ACS too, although I’m not a cancer survivor, and it comes up if you google me. I am in articles where it mentions most of my family has had cancer and that’s my inspiration for volunteering for ACS, which I suppose in theory could make some people think I was risky because there’s an increased chance I’ll get cancer eventually. But, I don’t worry too much about it – I think cancer is such a common thing, and ACS/Relay For Life is so widespread, most people will probably just skim past the part where you personally had cancer. I’ve found that when this comes up, people tell me their own cancer story since unfortunately almost everyone has one, so I listen to that and then I redirect to how proud I am to have been able to raise this money, how coincidentally my volunteer work has taught me XYZ transferable skills, blah blah blah.

        2. ArtsNerd*

          I have the privilege of speaking from the perspective of steady employment – but I’d like to think that any employer who wouldn’t hire you due to a past cancer diagnosis isn’t worth your time.

          Also, I’ve done a fundraiser for pancreatic cancer that’s gotten attention outside the scope of my immediate circle, and it’s one of the top google results for my name. It’s only ever worked overwhelmingly in my favor! I list it on my resume under a “volunteer” section – and I think you probably should, too.

          1. ArtsNerd*

            LOL! Just googled myself to verify that, and another top result is a comment I posted on AAM’s Facebook page!

        3. Not So NewReader*

          I think there is always that chance that someone might discriminate because of medical history. These are probably cold blooded people that you don’t want to work for anyway.

          But I sincerely doubt that there are a lot of companies hiring people on the basis of what they find on the net. And since you can clearly and confidently state that the issue is resolved you are in a good spot. There are a good number of people that have over come a life threatening crisis that are happily employed by a boss that wants to work with them.
          In all likelihood, someone in your interview process has probably had a battle at one point. (I had a boss that got into a car accident so severe he had to learn to walk/eat/etc all over again. It took years.) Not trying to diminish your experience but trying to say that people understand through their own lens and the right people will think you are awesome.

          I think if you experience any discrimination it will be a 1 in a million thing. I would limit the explanation to a couple sentences- like you have said here. For all you have been through, you sound like you are on a great path and doing really well. People will pick up on that quickly.

  5. Fucshia*

    #1 – I would see it as a good thing. How are you supposed to move up if there is no one trained to replace you and if you are already overworked?

    1. Chinook*

      I would go a step Farther – not only is it impossible to move up if there is no one else who can do your job, but, as a manager, I would be worried about anyone who doesn’t want to work with competition? I would wonder what you were hiding or why you think you wouldn’t excel in comparison. After all, if you are good at your job, you should do equally well when there is someone to compare you too.

    2. Anonymous*

      I completely agree. If you are truly both awesome and overworked and your boss is looking to bring in an additional person a good reaction is, “WOOOOHOOOO!”

      From what it sounds like your boss isn’t looking to replace you, but rather supplement you. I think asking to frame the new position as a junior spot and then you can hand work that has been well documented off to them is going to help.

      I’m also going to point out that you will not be able to advance unless you have someone else to take on the work you used to do. Managers don’t (or shouldn’t) do the work their staff do, because they have other duties.

      One of the best things about being the person at my job that my boss would like a clone of is that they are constantly looking for me to document and hand off tasks. This means I get to get rid of the boring work and I get to do the cool fun development work. And when they bring someone new in I pass off the tasks that make sense with their position.

      You have trouble keeping up with the work tossed your way and your boss wants to help you with your work load. This is a boss that is extremely interested in keeping you and your skills and doesn’t want you to go, I’m so overworked I need a new job.

      1. Joe*

        Actually. Promotions with no change in work happen all the time. Yes they want advancement but they could get raise title now.

        1. Anonymous*

          A new title is technically a promotion but I got the feeling from the letter that they wanted an actual advance in work. If the OP just wants a new title and never wants to get new work then they also shouldn’t be threatened by someone coming in. Someone needs to do the work and there is too much of it for one person.

    3. CTO*

      I agree. Having someone else who understands the key aspects of your job makes it easier for your boss to give you new duties. Being completely irreplaceable isn’t always a good thing. If your superiors see you as so great at your current job that they can’t possibly find someone else to do it, they might be hesitant to help you move on to new roles.

    4. CAA*

      Not to mention that the manager has a responsibility to the company to make sure that all the knowledge and skills to do these tasks are not locked in one body.

      Sadly, one of my employees had a heart attack on Saturday and he’ll be out for an unknown amount of time. Fortunately for the company, he was working on a team and he’s awesome about communicating with his coworkers, but it’s woken me up to the fact that I need to take a closer look at the other 39 people in my group and make sure they’re all behaving in equally awesome ways.

  6. Puffle*

    #2 “[The boss] is telling me… that his lawyer says it is an open and shut case” sounds more like the boss using a tactical approach than anything else. I think he’s trying to intimidate you into giving up by saying that. I wouldn’t believe this unless another lawyer says this directly to you. Hell, you don’t even know if your boss’ lawyer actually said this or if he’s making it up.

    I’d offer to continue repaying at the same rate that you have been, and try to stand firm. My take (which may well be wrong) is that your boss is trying to bully/ scare you into doing what he wants, because he knows that he’s at a disadvantage since all the documents etc are in your name.

    I have been on the receiving end of this tactic before- and I wasn’t even the person who owed the money! My electricity company tried to charge me for a unpaid £800 bill that the previous tenants in my house had racked up. I repeatedly told them that they were billing the wrong person, and sent various documents proving that I was, in fact, living in another country in the period when the bill was accrued. I still got numerous nasty, threatening letters demanding the money…but then they had to back down when I refused. I realise that this is a totally different situation and I don’t necessarily recommend doing what I did, but some people do use threats of court to intimidate you into doing what they want, and it’s a horrible, shitty tactic that can be really scary.

    tldr version: don’t let your boss bully you into anything, he’s using intimidation tactics and just generally being shitty, but you have the advantage.

    1. Puffle*

      Forgot to mention: get every piece of documentation you have, make multiple copies, check you have everything, and make sure you know exactly what you have on paper. As well as being useful in a practical sense, it’s also very reassuring mentally to know that you have physical proof of everything.

      1. danr*

        And, as others have said, talk to a lawyer yourself. Call your local county bar association for a list of lawyers who do that kind of work.

      2. Puddin*

        Make sure your reply to him is in writing – not just over the phone. Reference your original agreement, the original loan amount, your payments to date with the outstanding balance due, and the suggested payment plan going forward.

        Do not make the payment plan something you cannot afford. I know this sounds elementary but you may be tempted to make the payments higher than you are comfortable with just to shut him up or show your ‘good faith.’

        Have firm due dates for each payment – do not just write ‘monthly.’ Then make sure you stick to those due dates.

        Document every payment – cashier’s check from your bank is the best method of payment. Send your first payment with the written agreement. Write on that payment ‘per loan agreement.’ When he cashes that check, he in effect agrees to the terms you have laid out – even if he never signs and returns your payment plan. (Many banks have those as an online service too, so you do not have to go to the branch. In mine, I can add a note to each payment.)

        If you do all of these things, there is a very great chance that you will solve the problem in a way that is most comfortable to you while still honoring your original commitment. In addition, you will be on solid legal ground should anything go pear shaped in the future.

        Your boss does not hold all the power here and his thinly veiled ‘open and shut’ threat looks like a big fat exaggeration if not outright lie to me. It is the kind of thing people say when they are unfamiliar with law.

        And lastly, do not ever ever ever borrow money from your boss or co-workers ever ever ever again.

  7. Kerry*

    #5 – This might be one of those things that’s different in the US, but I put my union membership on my CV mostly to weed out the kinds of employers who would have a problem with it, since I don’t want to work for that kind of company.

    1. Gjest*

      This is a good point- if you are in a position to be more choosy and make sure you find that type of company to work for. But if you can’t turn down a job because of this, it is probably safer to leave it off.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I am missing something- it’s probably obvious but not to me at the moment. sigh.
      A place is either unionized or not.
      If there is no bargaining unit how does a union member have bargaining power? (A bargaining unit of one?)
      If someone is looking for a job with a recognized union presence wouldn’t it be easier to check with the union to see where those jobs might be?

      I guess what I am wondering is what is the advantage of being a union member in a non-union “shop”?

      1. doreen*

        It depends on what type of union it is. In the US, there are unions that organize a particular workplace or certain jobs in that workplace and union membership is tied to that job. You leave the union when you leave that job – for example, I’ve had three unionized jobs and belonged to a different union at each one of them.

        There are other unions that organize people in a particular trade/field – such as the Screen Actors Guild , musicians , electricians and plumbers. This sort of union often represents people who are hired by the project and who don’t work between projects. The union negotiates with employers so that for example, a principal actor in a commercial gets $XYZ rate for being in the commercial and additional payments for the commercial being shown in different regions, in different media, bringing their own props, etc or an apprentice electrician gets one hourly rate and a more experienced one gets a higher rate. There’s no law that requires these “employers” to use union labor- the only tools the union has are that union workers won’t work for non-union employers and public pressure. This is why you will sometimes see the giant rat outside buildings- it’s because non-union labor is being used.

      2. Anne 3*

        Unions in other coutries than the U.S. are often organized a lot different. Where I live they’re organized by sector and you usually have 3 main “affiliations” – ex. “Liberal Textile Workers Union”

        1. Anne 3*

          So to clarify: Here, it’s not individual workplaces that are unionized or not. I’m not an union member myself, but if I wanted to be, there’s several options to choose from. All three “affiliations” are represented where I work – There’s members of the liberal, christian, and socialist sector unions.

          1. Elysian*

            What country are you in?

            On a sidenote, I feel like that should be a fill-in box or something next to your name when you post. So often I want to know what country someone is from!

            1. Sandrine*

              Oooh that would be neat indeed. Would love to have the stats on this… for a US-centered blog, this site sure seems to have tons of foreigners roaming the comments section xD

              1. Laura*

                I love it! I love places with a diverse readership:) And much of what is written on AAM is fairly universal IMO , other than the legal questions.

                I’m in Canada!

            2. fposte*

              Like those forums that include little flags. (Which I often have to then look up–they should really have a mouseover that says the name of the country!)

              1. Jen RO*

                Reddit has those and they rock! In /r/europe, there is a mouseover for those of us geographically impaired.

                I think it’s pretty hard to get that working on WordPress, though.

              2. JessB*

                Now that would be cool. I’d love to see some kind of geographical marker for commentors.

            3. Joey*

              Eh, I sort of like not knowing. Sort of like sex also. I think it helps prevent the conversations from being sidetracked by stereotypes.

              1. Elysian*

                That’s true, sometimes it doesn’t matter. But if someone types “In my country…” or “Where I am…” maybe it should be like a popup or something. Like when I forget to attach something to my email after I just wrote “I have attached the draft…”

                1. Jen RO*

                  I put the country in my username (though it’s not extremely obvious) because I feel that most people don’t really care and are not affected by a country in Eastern Europe, so I felt weird if I kept saying “In Romania, blah blah”.

      3. Anonymous*

        The advantage is that you can pursue the union’s agenda to try to unionize the non-union shop.

        Oddly enough, some employers may not be thrilled at the prospect.

      4. Joey*

        Correct me if I’m wrong kelly, but it’s not that it’s an advantage. It’s that she doesn’t want to work for employers that don’t like unions and what they stand for.

      5. Kerry*

        My union (the National Union of Journalists) gives me free legal advice and runs training courses and conferences. It also lobbies for issues that affect workers in my industry, which affects me.

        1. Kera*

          I was an NUJ member, though I’ve now joined Prospect as that’s the union affiliated with my current workplace. I’m a exec member supporting employees in conflicts with the employer (indeed, I spent much of yesterday Having Words regarding a disability issue on our other site). Still probably wouldn’t put it on my CV – it’s not relevant for the job I’m applying to.

      6. Not So NewReader*

        Very interesting stuff, thanks folks! It seems pretty clear to me that the main reason for writing the union membership on the resume would be that it is important to the OP.

        My knee-jerk reaction to the question was no- do not do this. But now it seems to me that it would be more or less benign if OP did include it.

    3. Joey*

      Interesting. Although you won’t really know if they’re turning you down for that or some other reason. Wouldn’t you rather get more interview calls and make the choice yourself instead of letting them make it for you and wondering why you were turned down.

      1. Cat*

        I think the point was that you might not have another way of determining whether they’re an anti-union workplace.

      2. Tinker*

        From my perspective as a person who has similar practices regarding other things — although generally more things that I present in personal interaction — no.

        I prefer profound incompatibilities to be revealed as soon as possible so that we don’t waste each other’s time, many of the decisions I make partly on the basis of screening are things that one has to take some position on (one has to have one’s address either on or off of the resume, for instance), and the factors involved (in this case, philosophical compatibility with union membership) aren’t necessarily plainly visible in an interview.

        Also, I tend to be fairly ruthless about where I invest my give-a-damns in the interview process, and companies that I’ve merely applied to get none of them. Unless they’ve made at least a minimal move towards expressing interest in me — and it would be nice if said decision was as well-informed as possible — I’ve got better things to spend my time on than maundering about why oh why they didn’t pick me.

        1. fposte*

          However, I’m not sure this one will work, because this is a resume inclusion that suggests the person doesn’t actually understand what’s relevant to list in this field. That’s something that could raise eyebrows in its own right even in a workplace that’s fine with unions.

        2. Joey*

          Well that’s certainly a great philosophy, but I don’t know many people that have the luxury of completely disregarding a potentially well paying job with good benefits and a good boss merely because of the employers union stance.

          1. Cat*

            Some people do, though – particularly people who are employed already. Though I agree with fposte that this may not be the most direct way to get at that in this case.

          2. Kerry*

            I think it’s also that where I am (the UK) it would be really unusual for an employer to feel that strongly that they wouldn’t even consider hiring a union member, so if they are that rabidly anti-union I want to know that as soon as possible.

      3. Kerry*

        It’s more that if my being a union member is going to be frowned on enough that they wouldn’t want to call me in for an interview, I definitely want to know about that now rather than further in the process.

        1. A Teacher*

          Depending on where you work or what your job is, the employer will know you were union or assume you were union. For example, I’m a public high school teacher for my main job–in a union which is pretty common in this state. As an athletic trainer (my very part time job) I am not in a union but rather in an association that I pay dues to yearly. I have my association listed on my resume but not my union membership.

  8. Lucy*

    OP#4: you may want to check out Cancer and Careers- they have a lot of great resources!

  9. EJ*

    #2 – I’m going to be the horrible person and say it – I think the OP needs to find a way to speed up payments to their boss or pay a lump sum of the remaining balance.

    OP took money from their employer for a generous loan in the context that it would help their work for that employer. That situation changed when they left the company. The right thing to do is pay it down ASAP, since the reason for the loan no longer exists (needed the car for work).

    This loan is undocumented and, I’m guessing, interest free. I can see why the boss wants his money back. That said I don’t at all agree with the scare tactics used.

    At very least, OP might be able to disarm him by genuinely acknowledging the situation (and showing gratitude) rather than taking on a reciprocal fighting stance. Maybe there is a reason for the change of heart from the boss – it would be worth knowing.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      If OP is paying interest on the loan, I hope the boss man is showing the interest as income on his tax return!

    2. MK*

      Also, I feel we are missing some information here. The OP says that her ex-boss turned nasty at the end of an unpaid interrnship that was supposed to lead to a new job. That is very wierd timing; why would the boss freak out just when the OP started earning money and could begin making payments? Is it because the internship didn’t result in a paying job after all? If not, probably the boss is freaking out because he/she found themselves in a position where they have loaned money to an unemployed person who has no way to return it with no security whatsoever.

      OP, the boss is being a bully and trying to scare you. I am not a US lawyer, but the fact is that the lack of a written agreement is probably in your favor, not theirs; if he goes to court, how is he even going to prove that he agve you the money?

      That being said, the circumstances under which the loan was given have changed and I don’t think the boss is wrong to want their money back. The OP needed the car for a job they no longer have; unless the car is absolutely necessary to the OP, the best thing to do would be to sell it and repay the loan.

      Also, I think this might be to the OP’s best interests in term of reputation. If someone were to ask this employer for a reference, what would they say? “I hired the OP to do a job and even loaned them money, so that they could buy a car. The OP quit the job soon afterwards because they didn’t make enough money in comission to live on and they haven’t repaid the loan.” I realise that these things happen, but the OP doesn’t come off in the best light here.

      1. H. Vane*

        Hi MK, I think you may have misread. OP left the the sales job with the money lending boss for a three month unpaid internship that was supposed to lead to a career.

        I also suspect that the relationship has soured past the point of getting a good reference anyway. The fact that the boss has supposedly hired a lawyer is a dead giveaway.

        IANAL, but verbal contracts are pretty hard to enforce. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t repay it (because that’s the good an honest thing to do), but I think you should stick to the original terms. The fact that your situation changed would have had no effect on a bank loan for a car unless you and the bank agreed upon and signed a new contract, or unless those terms were in the original contract. This thing, in my opinion, should be treated the same way.

        Also, your former boss sounds crappy.

    3. HR lady*

      EJ, I don’t think your statement makes you a horrible person. It’s exactly what I was thinking: OP should make every effort to pay off that loan as soon as he/she can so that he/she can end the relationship with the former boss. OP has moved on to a new company/new job, and having these old ties to the old boss is not fun. Plus it makes total sense that the old boss would be less sympathetic/nice/accommodating to the OP when OP is no longer working there.

      1. Colette*

        Yeah, I agree as well. The boss isn’t acting well here, but neither is the OP – the boss loaned the money for the car so that the OP could do a job, which the OP then quit. The loan needs to be repaid (and if the OP had gone to a bank, she wouldn’t have had the payments stopped for 3 months while she did an internship).

    4. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      Yeah. This is a relationship that has gone south, and therefore the loan has gone south as well. What he’s doing isn’t legal and isn’t fair, but the easiest and cheapest way to make it stop is to pay off the loan and be done with it.

      OP, figure out any way you can to scrape up the money to pay this loan off (well, except for a title loan or payday loan, because the terms on those are ruinous). Get a personal loan from a local bank or credit union, or an auto loan with the car as collateral. I’d even do a cash advance on a credit card if possible, because at least a credit card can’t change the terms.

      1. Celeste*

        Completely agree. Things have changed, and rather than look for a way to keep things the way they were, it’s best to pay off that debt quickly and move on. Try to remember that this person did a very nice thing when you needed some help, and do the right thing by paying him back so you can move on.

        If you don’t think you can pay, then give him back the car. Take the high road. Be ethical.

        1. fposte*

          The “back” in the OP’s phrasing confused me a little. I was thinking that she really meant “in exchange,” but if she actually bought the car from the boss, that opens up an entirely new horizon of possible dubiousness. (Hope to hell she got it independently appraised, for a start.)

    5. Chrissi*

      I completely agree with you. The boss isn’t being very nice right now, but the OP doesn’t appear to acknowledge that they got a 0% loan from the boss and that they are actually obligated to pay it back. If you don’t have the money, sell the car! If you need the car for your other job, get an actual loan from an actual bank and pay your boss back. I don’t think the boss is obligated to continue to loan out the money at 0% interest.

      1. Hooptie*

        Agree 100%, Chrissi. The OP got into a situation with a car they obviously could not have afforded without the boss’ help (even though the boss appears to have pushed them into the loan). Sell the car, buy a vehicle you can afford and pay back the boss right away. Don’t do as others suggest and not pay it back because it will come back to haunt you when you least expect it.

      2. aebhel*


        Getting an actual loan from a bank or credit union and paying off what they owe the boss is going to be the quickest, simplest, and most honest way to make this go away.

  10. WIncredible*

    Car loan person: your boss and his lawyer are full of it.

    You own the car, it’s in your name. You have all the paperwork. Your boss has nothing…no contract, no paperwork – NOTHING. He is blowing smoke and trying to scare you. €#% him for this.

    I would go to a local bar association legal clinic (look it up by city or county) and get some advice.

    Don’t give that guy one thing…no calls, no letters, no nothing. Ignore him until you talk with a lawyer. I think you’ll win. Don’t be intimidated.

    1. WIncredible*

      I should also say, stop paying…he has no proof you owe him (but again, get with a lawyer!) Just cut off all contact in any way. What a jerk this guy is. I feel for you. Best wishes.

      1. Anonymous*

        Stop paying? WTF! Just because you can?

        If it was me I’d pay it back in a reasonable time frame – that’s what you implicitly agreed to do.

      2. Jen RO*

        Sorry, but what? The boss gave the employee the money in good faith, and now the employee should just… steal it?! I agree with the people saying that OP should try to pay ASAP – not because the boss can sue him/her, but because that’s the right thing to do.

      3. Chinook*

        If you stop repaying the loan, then you are also in the wrong and the judge could make things difficult for you. If you keep repaying in the terms you agreed on, I would think that you would have a better argument.

      4. Mike C.*

        An escrow account might be a good idea here, but like everyone else here has said CONSULT A LAWYER! :)

        1. Elysian*

          If the boss’s lawyer is threatening the OP, I think you’re right – an escrow account would be a terrific idea here.

        2. fposte*

          To be honest, I would only do that in the OP’s position if I could get a free initial consultation (which they actually do around where I live, fortunately), though. With money this tight, I wouldn’t pay a lawyer unless I got something from the ex-boss’s lawyer, and I would try a proposed repayment schedule including a first installment before I’d spend lawyer money.

    2. Cat*

      Verbal contracts are enforceable (albeit sometimes difficult to) – the OP still has an obligation to pay on the terms originally agreed to.

      1. Just a Reader*

        But not to hand over the final paycheck against his will. I’d go to the mat for that.

      2. Liane*

        IANAL, but if I recall correctly, under US law only Real Estate contracts *have to* be written to be enforceable. Other types of verbal contracts are legally enforceable, although certainly harder to prove since many of them will be Someone Said/Someone Else Said situations.

        But that is all less important than the OP needs to talk to a lawyer and is still ethically & morally obliged to *pay off the loan under the original terms ASAP*.

        1. Cat*

          There’s a few others, though I don’t remember them. I do remember that one is contracts for marriage, which presumably doesn’t come up that much any more. I think another one involves terms of work lasting for more than one year. Clearly, I better never move to another state because if I have to take the bar exam again, I am in trouble.

          1. De Minimis*

            There are quite a few, it’s under the “Statute of Frauds.”
            Goods over a certain amount [usually $500, apparently less in some places] and anything where it is impossible to complete the contract in a year or less [I remember this one can get complicated.]

    3. Elysian*

      I mean, the OP admits he has an obligation to pay, they just disagree on the terms of that payment.

      Even if the obligation itself was shaky, he’d spend way more paying a lawyer to defend this than he would paying off the loan. He’d be cutting off his nose to spite his face.

      1. Lyssa*

        I’d bet, for that reason, that the boss doesn’t even have a lawyer on this (he may have given a very abbreviated and one-sided version of the story to a lawyer that he knows, who expressed an opinion, but I’d bet there wasn’t a formal consult with someone actively working on it). Lawyers are expensive, and the LW says that this wasn’t for a lot of money. (I really doubt that the LW could afford one, given the description here. But s/he should fight the last paycheck issue through the appropriate state agency, and/or pay the loan entirely asap (applying the paycheck and documenting that through certified letter) just to get this guy out of the picture, even if it means taking out a loan somewhere else or selling the car.)

    4. Anonymous*

      Yes. Lawyer, lawyer, lawyer. This situation raises a few different issues. Other commenters are absolutely right that the verbal contract is likely enforceable (some types of contracts do have to be written, but I don’t think that is the case here). Your state, city, or county bar associations are good places to start. If there’s a local law school, there might also be a legal clinic there.

      1. PEBCAK*

        IANAL, but I think I recall something about a loan having to charge interest. This may just be the case in my state, but if that’s true, then the contract may not be enforceable, because it wasn’t legal to begin with? Obviously a lawyer needs to handle this. Or Judge Judy.

          1. Cat*

            And in that case, there may be legal theories other than contract that would allow recovery – like detrimental reliance/promissary estoppel (but I really am not the kind of lawyer one brings this stuff to, so this is really just me spouting off).

            1. fposte*

              I’d be stunned if the OP spent enough on a car to make this worth a lawyer anyway. My guess is that we’d be looking at small claims, which may not allow lawyers depending on the jurisdiction.

              The withholding of the paycheck, on the other hand, is state DOL stuff, so while I think the OP needs to pay the loan back, the boss made the more authority-provoking mistake.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Where I am small claims is 3K or less. Yeah, you can do it yourself. But you really have to like jumping through hoops.
                If it were me and the balance was less than 3K, then I would look around to see if there is a family member that would help out. Okay, it might involve a lecture but that is a small price compared to all this other stuff.

                1. fposte*

                  Sure, but that’s my point. The OP isn’t the one bringing a suit–the boss would be, because the boss is the one chasing money.

          2. PEBCAK*

            No, it’s something else…if there is no interest, it’s considered a gift for tax purposes, I think. I don’t remember the exact rules, but the point I’m getting at here is that the boss probably does not want at all to take this to court, because I’d be willing to bet that he is not squared up with the IRS. The OP should repay the loan because it’s the right thing to do, but they have no reason to speed it up at the boss’s demand.

            1. Laura*

              IANAL, but:

              It depends on how large the loan was – it would have to be pretty large, relative to a car payment, to put the boss on the outs with the IRS, even if they did consider it a gift.

              I had cause to research it once, only to find it totally didn’t apply to me. Currently, you have to give over $14,000 to one person – and that’s per giver; a married couple can go up to $28,000 if the spouse agrees it was a joint act. Even $14,000 would be a relatively large portion of most car purchases.

  11. Lizzie B*

    I’m not super comfortable with people saying that since there’s no paper trail, OP #2 is off the hook. It was a loan, and he knows it was a loan. At the very least, he needs to resume payments as soon as the the internship ends, ethically if not legally. It was a generous (but stupid) offer by your former boss, and he deserves to get his money back. If he’s calling it all in now, he’s probably worried that repayment isn’t a sure thing. Don’t make him right. Have a reasonable discussion about what is possible in terms of payments and then stick to it.

      1. ac*

        +1. Whether it is a legally enforceable claim vs whether you should (morally) pay a debt are different issues.

      2. JFQ*

        Even without a signed contract, I would be surprised if there is no email communication to provide a record, and there is presumably some kind of record of the original loan payment and the subsequent repayments.

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      +1 – a verbal contract is still a contract in most states* and he is ethically entitled to his money back.

      Consult an attorney, come up with a payment schedule that meets the terms of your agreement with him, mail it to his lawyer & stick to it like you would if it was a bank loan.

      *not a lawyer, don’t play on on TV

      1. Nodumbunny*

        I completely agree that although the former boss is behaving badly, the OP is morally obligated to repay the loan ASAP. I was even wondering if the OP could get a loan from a credit union, secured by the car, to repay the former boss and then have a manageable payment to the credit union. Or, as someone above said, if the car is not needed, sell it and pay off the boss that way.

        1. Rayner*

          No. Bad idea.

          Taking out one loan to repay another is such a classically bad debt solution that it’s ridiculous. It also puts the OP in a position where it’s on their credit history, which may or may not be a positive for them – or they may not be able to get one at all.

          1. Anonymous*

            “Taking out one loan to repay another is such a classically bad debt solution that it’s ridiculous.”


            It depends on the terms of each loan. People take out second loans to pay off a first one all the time: a classic example is re-financing a mortgage when interest rates drop. It’s a simple calculation – if the new loans costs are lower than the older, take out a new loan.

            1. LisaLyn*

              Yeah, I have to disagree, Rayner. If the OP had taken out a conventional loan to begin with to pay for the car, it would not at all be a slam on their credit history. I think this would be the best move in this case — pay back the money to the boss so that the OP can ethically dissolve that relationship and move on.

              1. fposte*

                Agreed that getting a loan would make sense *if you can do it with without resorting to payday loan places.* I’m not sure the OP’s job situation sounds like she’s a bank loan candidate right now, so I wanted to put in that caveat.

                And OP, never, ever, believe your adversary or your adversary’s lawyer (or “lawyer”) about the law.

                1. Anonymous*

                  “get a loan from a credit union, secured by the car”

                  “if the new loans costs are lower than the older, take out a new loan”

                2. fposte*

                  Yes, I heard you. Her old loan costs are free, so by definition any new loan costs are more expensive, but I nonetheless feel it would be worth it if she could acquire a loan that isn’t from a predatory lender. However, my credit union won’t make a personal consumer loan to you if you’re unemployed and don’t have decent assets held there, and I suspect that other places may feel similarly.

                3. Elysian*

                  Yeah, it would be complicated for a bank to give out a loan on a car that is already titled to the prospective lendee. They would have to re-title it, OP would have to re-register the car with the new bank-0wner. The OP might have to take out extra insurance on the car. I’m not even sure a bank would/could do that. If OP was taking out another loan it would probably be a title loan, and I wouldn’t advise those to my worst enemy.

                4. fposte*

                  Yes, exactly; I think of payday and title loans as the same thing, because it’s the same places here that do them.

              2. doreen*

                About the titling- every time I’ve bought a car with a loan the car has been titled and registered in my name ( three loans, three banks) . The bank had a lien on the title.

                The bank may not want to give the OP a loan using an already owned car as collateral , but it wouldn’t necessarily be because the car would have to be re-titled and re-registered.

                1. Elysian*

                  Some states won’t even give you a physical title if there’s a lien on your car, they hold the title until the lien is released. Some states will give you a partial title, and the financing company holds the other part of the title. If a bank is going to hold a security interest in the car, it MUST be listed on the title if the bank ever plans on collected on their lien.

                  But no matter what, the rules for collection are different if you finance the car at the purchase than if you try to use the car as collateral later, and I don’t think most reputable financial institutions will do a loan against a car that has already been purchased.

                2. Elysian*

                  I’m sorry, that wasn’t clear at all – all that stuff still has your name on it, but is has to have the bank’s name, too. So to get the bank’s name on it at all, after it has already been issued to you, the state would have to re-issue the title. The car would still be registered in your name, but the state needs to know that there’s a lien on it, so once you get the information for the new title with the lien on it, you would have to go back to the DMV to register the car again with the new title information. It would just be complicated, if a bank would even do it.

                  It’s not impossible or anything, since like you said lots of people finance cars. But it would just be really messy to have to do it all after you’ve already owned the car outright.

            2. Rayner*

              Perhaps I should have qualified that but my immediate gut instinct went to payday loans and their ilk.

              If the OP was not in a position previously to purchase their own car, and is currently not that far into a full paying job off a internship (which may not be fantastically well paying), then it’s possible that they’re not able to take out a loan – or to take out one to the best value that would actually benefit them.

              Whether that’s from poor/low credit history or rating, or a lack of a steady job history (nailed me before, damnit, because I’d worked several short term jobs with variable pay), if the OP isn’t in a great financial position, it’s perhaps not the best idea in the world to take on an additional loan that /would/ be on their credit history in order to pay back Crappy McCrapperson Boss.

              1. Emily K*

                Now that OP has property in her name that is worth more than the value of the loan she seeks, finding a loan will be a lot easier than it would have been before. Loans secured by collateral tend to be much easier to get, and at much lower rates than without collateral.

          2. Anonymous*

            That’s what refinancing is usually. I refinanced my student loans and by doing so managed to pay them off a year sooner and with less interest. Not always a bad idea.

            1. Rayner*

              Not always, but I can certainly see several big holes in the solution that may or may not be deciding factors for them. Things like if their credit history allows them to take a loan at all, if their job pays enough and is stable enough to make taking out a loan a good investment, and if they don’t have any other debt at the moment.

              Should have qualified my statement.

        2. Emily K*

          This was exactly what I would suggest. Better a fair loan at a low rate, all legally above-board, put the credit union as the lienholder, and make reasonable payments to them; than to be at the mercy of ex- boss’s whims.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, really. If she paid by check there is a check trail. Boss can probably show something that lends credence to the idea he put up a bunch of money at a given point. And then there is the whole deal about docking her paycheck. No conclusive proof here but enough to muddy the waters.

      1. Julie*

        And also if she paid by check, she can prove that she is paying back the loan following the terms that they both agreed to. I agree that she should continue paying the loan following those terms. Maybe when the ex-boss gets the next check in the mail, he will stop talking about lawyers and suing the OP.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Years ago, I almost fell into that pit, myself. I had a fancy job that demanded a nice wardrobe. No money to fund the wardrobe. I made the mistake of saying that to the boss when he complained about my current wardrobe. He offered me a loan. Thank-goodness something inside me set off a red flag. It was not too much later that he raised his hand as if to strike me and I WALKED.
      Oh man. If I had taken that loan offer…yikes.

      1. LisaLyn*

        Wow! I am so sorry that happened to you, but excellent example of following your gut. Money complicates things in situations like that! Glad you could get out of there free and clear.

      2. Julie*

        It’s too bad your job offer for that job didn’t include a “wardrobe bonus.” I don’t think that’s what it’s called, but I have definitely heard of this being done.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The wardrobe issue came after the hiring. For my own education, I should have realized that clothing could be an issue. I shopped basement sales and uncharacteristically, I put almost a grand on my credit card. I did not want to do that- but it was better than taking a loan from the boss.
          After I walked, I had to scramble to find the next job. And that is when I jumped from the frying pan into the fire.
          Never, ever again, will I take a job that requires items I do not own and cannot purchase with cash. Never.

          Brrr. Gives me the shivers even decades later.

    2. Rayner*

      If the OP was young and naive in the world of work, then they may have assumed that the boss was being kind and generous, nothing more.

      I’m sure that people have done and said things as young /and naive people, that they would never do as mature adults with experience.

      1. MK*

        But we have no reason to think that the original offer was about anything other than the boss being generous. I mean, they didn’t have to loan the OP the money, they could just hire someone who already had a car. There is nothing to suggest that the boss tried to use their power as debtor in any way; their, admitedly horrible, behavior has been about getting their money back, nothing else.

        I agree that loans from the boss are bad ideas. But, usually, they can be just as bad for the boss as the employee.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Honestly, I get a “scam company” vibe from the whole thing. This is just gut instinct and may be wrong, but I have this suspicion that the company is something like Kirby Vacuums and was a setup where the OP was never going to make a decent amount of commission, and that the boss has been up to some kind of no good all along. But that’s just my instinct.

          1. Puddin*

            I got that too…commission, not making enough, company expecting you to have full use of a car for business travel. (I understand that last bit is not unusual, but in certain circumstances, it is a red flag.)

            1. Rayner*

              I don’t think it’s a red flag to require it for many jobs, but to make it a requirement of the job but then take on a candidate who doesn’t fulfill that requirement and is not able to do so under their own power is definitely one.

        2. Rayner*

          The boss is in a position of power to an employee, and they really really shouldn’t be offering in the first place.

          And there are questions in my mind about why they gave the job to a candidate who obviously wasn’t the ‘best’ one, in the fact that they didn’t have their own transport, and couldn’t procure on under their own steam.* And why they thought the correct solution was a loan, rather than a different employee, or raising the employee’s wage for a time. Or making it official.

          Given that it’s a commission based role, I would side eye this so hard.

          Not to say that the OP was a bad employee, but they clearly weren’t so suited for the role.

    3. some1*

      You could turn it around and say Why oh why would a boss offer to loan an employee money? If you need your employee to have a reliable car but they don’t, you tell them they need to figure out a way to get one on their own or you let them go.

      I agree with the others this is probably a shady job that the boss has trouble filling.

      1. Celeste*

        I’m thinking that if the employee is a pretty young female, an older male employer might offer the loan simply to keep her around for his enjoyment. It would be more likely when the employer is the owner, whose decisions aren’t scrutinized by anyone else. She didn’t work out in sales, she went to try an internship, and maybe he thought she’d come back and try again. Who knows. But it became clear that she wanted to move on, and then he was mad and wanted his money back. This is the only reason I can think of for why somebody would do something so stupid as to let her have the title while paying back a loan–that emotions did the thinking.

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, I can see this being somebody with good intentions and little savvy who now feels pretty ill-used. Dragging the paycheck into it was schmucky and illegal, but there’s nothing obviously exploitative about the rest of it.

            1. Editor*

              Yes, and I can also see this being a situation where the boss decided to be generous, then, after telling his friend the lawyer or his cousin or even his spouse about the outstanding loan, the boss got reamed by the third party for essentially giving up the money without proper paperwork. So, the boss panics and demands the money back because of pressure or fear or whatever.

  12. Jules*

    OP #1

    You cannot move up when there is no one to replace you. Honestly, you have to work on get over the insecurity. I’ve been there. When you are too valuble as a techincal person, then it’s unlikely you’d be promoted when no one else can do the same thing that you do. Create a worklist on what is important for you to do to move up but and take advantage of the new hire to give them the stuff you’ve ‘been there, done that’ with.

    Take this as an opportunity to expand your horizon beyond being just the technical expert.

    1. LisaLyn*

      +1. I also understand the tendancy to feel a little insecure when you go from being the only person who can do a specific task in an organization to … not being the only person, but really, OP, in the long run, it will be good. You don’t have to see this person as an adversary. Also, I’d ask your boss if it would be possible to be on the hiring committee and get some input into the person they hire, so you will have some say in hiring someone you think you can work with!

  13. Joe*

    Boss is due $ but not in an expedited manner. Calculate a normal payment schedule and pay.

    1. Windchime*

      And it goes without saying that you pay him by check, *not* cash. You want to be able to document every single payment that you’ve made.

  14. some1*

    I used to belong to a Union and I don’t have it on my resume. The only way I would include it is if I had a leadership role in it or was applying to work for the union or place that lobbies for unions. It really isn’t that significant to join the union, it’d be like listing that you were on the Party Planning Committee or that you organized the Friday Bagel Club.

    1. OP #5*

      I wish that I organized the Friday Bagel Club! Considering how seriously my department takes food events (mandatory attendance and feedback), it would be like a leadership experience.

  15. Jubilance*

    #1 – Have you really thought about what it means to “move up” both in your field and in your company? It’s probably not going to be just doing more and more work in the same area. Generally when people “move up” they move up to higher responsibility, management of people, management of projects, etc. So the things you’re doing in your current role may not at all be things that you’d be responsible for as you move to the next ladder in your career progression. Are those things you want to do? Have you began working on them?

    For example, in my field & company, generally the higher up you go, the less you focus on executing immediate tasks projects, and the more you focus on more strategic business development & long range project/program management. Those are different skill sets & the types of things you’re responsible for are totally different as well. There’s also the management of people component which is also a different skill set. Moving up in your career doesn’t simply mean that you’ll keep doing what you’re doing while making more $ & covering more projects. You may need to adjust your expectations, understand what will be required of you at the next level & to move to the next level, and then decide if that’s what you want. If it is, then you need to start doing those things now, and part of that is having a replacement for the work you’re doing now.

  16. Audiophile*

    OP #2 this is exactly I don’t loan money to friends or take loans. And certainly not from a higher up or supervisor. It’s just too easy for things to turn ugly.
    Even though the car is in your name, there is still a paper trail since you were paying him by check. Seek reputable legal advice and continue making payments in good faith.

  17. E.R*

    #2, This may be obvious to you by now, but any sales job that is commission -based and requires travel, but the vehicle is not paid for or owned by the company, and a sketchy job. If they are not willing to make any investment in the position (a real salary, company vehicle or otherwise covering travel) they don’t have a reasonable expectation that they will see a return on that investment.’s It’s a good indication that you are being set up for failure. It also foreshadows your boss’ completely unprofessional behaviour. I’m not saying you are to blame here (I think you are the victim in this situation absolutely) but the signs are there to note for any next time. Good luck!

    1. Sunflower*

      I was thinking as I was reading this that the job was obviously sketchy. But WHY did the boss lend him money knowing he’d never be making enough to pay him back?

      1. Kelly L.*

        I think the plan might have been that he didn’t expect the LW to actually leave the job, and that any commission he made would end up going right back to the boss. Other than that, I got nuthin’.

      2. H. Vane*

        To keep OP trapped in the job out of a sense of obligation. If the job was as shady as it sounds, that’s a real possibility.

      3. Sunflower*

        Those are both good ideas. When I was job searching, I got some calls from company’s offering this ‘too good to be true’ job. I’d google them and come up with a ton of reviews about them basically making them work door-to-door, 15 hours a day and coming home with nothing. Most people would quit after 1 day.

        I’ve never worked in sales and never had experience with one of these jobs but I was skeptical that you could even make enough to cover a car payment…

    2. CAA*

      We don’t actually know that the cost of the travel wasn’t borne by the employer. Many companies pay the 56 cents per mile that’s allowed by the IRS, which covers the cost of gas and the vehicle expenses, but the employee still has to have a car in the first place. It’s on the employer to make it known that this is a requirement of the job and not to hire people who don’t meet the requirements.

      1. Anonymous*

        Yes, and “commissioned sales” isn’t always consumer door-to-door sales. My husband is a salaried outside salesperson for a distributor and his customers are retail stores, but his counterparts at other distributors are on straight commissions. No company cars, but my husband’s company gives him an allowance for gas and tolls.

  18. Name*

    I was really taken aback when an interviewer did that to me, too. When I asked what she was looking for in the position she answered that she couldn’t tell me because that was like giving the answers to the questions she was about to ask. Terrible tactic for an interviewer, imo.

    1. Sadsack*

      That does sound really stupid of the interviewer. She should have told you what she was looking for in an employee and then let you give her examples where you can show you have those qualifications. Sounds like someone who had no idea what she was doing.

    2. Fiona*


      “What questions do you have for me?”
      “Well, what are you looking for in this position?”
      “I can’t tell you that.”

      …Then I think we’re done here.

  19. Joey*

    #1. Wouldn’t there be MORE opportunity to move up faster if another person were hired. I know for me it would be easier to justify a “lead” position or similar if there were so much work I needed to add additional staff. Because that likely means additional work for the boss also. And if you have to collaborate on work with co worker it becomes difficult to function without someone in charge.

  20. CTO*

    #3: When giving interviews I often ask the candidate if they have any questions for me before we get started. I do that to make sure that we get any burning questions or dealbreakers out of the way right away, so the candidate can feel more relaxed and comfortable during the interview. If they ask something that I’d rather cover later in the interview, I can reassure them that it’ll be covered and then I can make sure to address it.

    But it’s totally okay with me if the candidate doesn’t have any questions upfront–most don’t.

    When I’m the one being interviewed, I usually just say, “I’m sure we’ll cover most of what I want to know in the course of the interview, so I’ll save my questions for the end.” No big deal.

    It sounds like you were really nervous about this interview! That probably led you to worry more about this question than you needed to. Don’t overanalyze it, because your interviewer probably didn’t.

    1. Joey*

      To me that would feel weird and sort of like you didn’t know what to talk about. Pre interview Id have a million questions that I would assume most of which will be answered in the interview.

      I’m curious what would be appropriate questions before an interview starts? Or what are some good questions people have asked that are better answered before the interview starts?

      1. CTO*

        I would usually introduce myself, lay out the “agenda” for the meeting and then ask if they had any question before we got started. I’d also mention that we’d have more Q&A time at the end so candidates didn’t feel pressured to ask all of their big questions upfront.

        Sometimes their questions were little things that were usually already covered in the application and scheduling process (“How long will we be meeting for?” “I have X weekly schedule conflict; will this position still be a good fit given that?”) but I didn’t take offense if candidates wanted a refresher on them. Other times it gave them a chance to ask about simple needs (“May I run to the restroom first?” or “Did I park my car in an okay spot?”). But most people didn’t have any questions at the beginning and that was just fine.

        As a note: I was usually interviewing volunteers and interns, so many of them were a little less sure of what to expect in this type of interview. Some of them had little to no interview experience at all, so they came in far more nervous than they had to be. By being friendly, being accommodating, and trying to get those burning questions answered before they became distractions, it seemed to help put people more at ease and feel more comfortable asking me questions along the way. And when they were less nervous, I was able to get a far better idea of their typical personality and whether or not it would be a good fit.

        I feel bad to find that being asked upfront about questions may have freaked some people out. I really had no expectations that people would ask all of their hard-hitting, prepared questions at the beginning of the interview. I just wanted to make sure they felt comfortable asking questions or sharing needs at any point in the meeting.

        1. MCH*

          Thanks for this perspective, CTO (I’m the OP). And don’t feel bad for possibly freaking people out–I was pretty nervous, but also I think one thing that was different from your approach is that this interviewer didn’t outline an agenda or make the point that there would be time for more questions later, so I nervously jumped to the conclusion that she wanted serious though-provoking questions. Now that I think about it, she might have just been trying to make me feel free to ask and it only seemed like something bigger because it was the first thing out of her mouth.

      2. Colette*

        Yeah, I’d feel like you wanted me to drive the interview.

        On the other hand, I’ve had interviews where they’ve outlined what will happen during the interview, then asked if I had any questions about the format – that’s a different thing and makes perfect sense.

    2. FormerPhotog*

      I’ve been asking that question first, as well, because I’m usually somewhere in the middle of a panel of interviewers, the position’s direct superior, and currently doing the job. I figured that since I am an awkward interviewer (I’m working on it, but I’m just really anxious with strangers, so it’s a challenge), it’s a good way to break the ice, it gives me a sense of what the other people asked, and by then, the person may have some new questions.

      I think it would be odd to start with if I were the first interviewer, though.

  21. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    Back when I did a lot of hiring, I always started the interview by giving a quick (like, 30-60 second) summary of the organization and the job, then asked if the interviewee had any questions before we got started. My thinking was that I wanted them to have all the knowledge they needed to give relevant, reflective responses to my questions. I was primarily interviewing for AmeriCorps positions, so this was very often the interviewees’ first “professional” hiring process and I wanted to give them guideposts along the way.

    …. but from some comments here, it sounds like I might have been throwing them off (i.e., they’d been told that their opportunity to ask questions comes at the end and I flipped the script). Hmm!

    1. Fiona*

      But in your case, you’re giving them guidance on what kind of questions you’re expecting at that point – questions about the organization before you get into the nitty-gritty of the position. I think this is fantastic.

      That’s totally different than, “Hi, thanks for coming, what questions do you have for me?”

      1. MCH*

        I think this is exactly the difference that confused me (I’m the OP). I’ve been to a number of interviews that began with a quick summary of the job, and I think if someone asked me if I had questions after that, I would have much more information to base a question on (plus I would have had a chance to settle down a little bit, which is helpful), but in this particular case the conversation hadn’t started yet, and that’s what I wasn’t prepared for.

  22. Sunflower*

    #2- I’m really not sure. I personally would get a real loan and pay him back and then deal with paying back the formal loan. I’d want to cut ties with this terrible situation as soon as I could. At least with a real loan everything is legal, it’s all business and all terms are agreed to.

    That being said, there’s no way he has a case against you. Even if he did, you were the one who is doing everything that was agreed to. He is the one who wanted to change the rules so worst comes to worst, sounds like you would just still have to keep making the small payments.

    I do feel you were taken advantage of and this is 100% the bosses fault. I have no idea why your boss agreed to do this- maybe he was hoping he could use it as a tax write off?

    This all seems really fishy. Thus why I think you should get a REAL loan and get out of this ASAP.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Real in the sense of the OP morally owing it, but what Sunflower means by a “real” loan is one with written terms that bind both parties. If the OP gets a loan from a reputable institution, at least that institution can’t arbitrarily change the terms just because they’re in a pissy mood that day.

        1. A Bug!*

          Verbal contracts are contracts. They’re harder to enforce but that doesn’t mean they’re not enforceable. The OP’s loan is a real loan, legally and morally, because the OP and the employer both understood it to be a loan when it was made.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Of course it is, I’m not disputing that. Right now the boss is the one trying to break it.

              1. Kelly L.*

                Gotcha, I was interpreting Anonymous to mean “LW still morally owes that debt! S/he needs to pay it!” and my comment meant “Sure, but Sunflower was never implying otherwise.”

  23. EA*

    OP #5 – I can think of relatively few situations where you would want to include union membership on a resume. For example, some theaters will only hire actors that are members of Actor’s Equity. Even though you’d be working for the theater (or the production), the membership in the union is a requirement of the job. (similarly, some theaters will only hire stage techs that are members of IATSE)

    The other example I can think of is (and this may be localized) sports officials. When I was an ice hockey referee, I was certified by the national governing authority, USA Hockey. (Referees are generally considered contractors, not employees) Even though I was certified, most of the leagues went to the local Official’s Association to get the list of referees. If you didn’t pay your dues to the Official’s Association, you wouldn’t be included on the list, and you wouldn’t get scheduled for any games. You weren’t prohibited from working games, but it was much harder to find the work.

  24. Allie26*

    #2 – It ultimately depends on what route you want to take and how much energy you want to expend fighting this –

    1/ If I were in your position, I would most likely consult a lawyer and perhaps have the lawyer issue the boss a letter and/or have the lawyers from both sides meet – as the first step – since he has already mentioned that he retained a lawyer. Of course, this would take money to pay a lawyer for their time and services.

    2/ This depends on how much more you owe, maybe – But if you want to simply avoid a potential legal battle where you could lose even with being in the right, another option (as others here have mentioned) would be to take out a loan to re-pay him or sell the vehicle, if you don’t need it, to repay him. I wouldn’t normally recommend this or even do this, but some would just want to be rid of this individual quickly and not spend on a legal battle.

    However, from what you’ve said, it sounds like he is in the wrong – changing the terms of the loan – and there isn’t a contract that states the conditions of the loan, so it would be difficult for him to prove that you need to pay him all of the remaining funds right away. He can’t legally ask you to sell the vehicle because it’s in YOUR name, not his name, and again, there isn’t a contract.

    Do you have any emails or voice messages where these original terms are mentioned and discussed? If so and you decide to go the legal route, definitely save/present those.

    As you decide, you should stick to the original terms because if it did go to court, the record will show that you followed the original terms.

  25. Allie26*

    For #1 – I completely agree with Alison. If you can’t keep up with the volume work, you can’t ask them not to hire a co-worker to assist. And it sounds like you’re doing a beyond sufficient job, so you shouldn’t be threatened by the company needing to expand.

    One thought – If you’re willing (and the additional hours aren’t ‘too many’) and if it’s legal at your company, I wonder if it would be appropriate to ask for more hours. But that’s a better question for Alison and other experienced professionals and it also depends on how much additional work there is.

  26. Ruffingit*

    #2 – I hope you haven’t turned over the car to this jerk. Get a lawyer NOW. You can’t afford not to.

  27. scrapdog69*

    Regarding the union membership on the resume. IMO, it isn’t needed and I agree with Alison’s response.

    However, I did something a little different. I served as a union rep/steward for close to five years (volunteer). I was given a lot of great training, learned a lot, met a lot of nice people and learned the inner workings of our union in a multi-location employer. I did this for a few reasons. One: to learn as much as possible. Two: I was going into grad school for MBA with focus on Human Resources. So I wanted to learn how both sides operate so have a well-rounded knowledge. Not to screw the union going forward, but to learn how both sides work. I have tons of stories that are both horrible examples that give unions a bad name today, and also horrible management practices that I couldn’t believe I was seeing/hearing first hand as a union rep.

    I have on my resume my experience in Labor Relations, and have a small blurb about what I did, in terms of grievances, arbitration, contract negotiations, union membership, etc.

    I have felt this has helped going into HR roles, especially those with unions. I can post my example here if anyone wants. I will change any key information of course.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Congrats on having a great approach. The key is to understand the perspective and the goals of each “side”. This is a prime example of how knowledge is power.

  28. Vicki*

    #3 – I like the question, “Tell me about this job in your own words”.

    It’s an especially fin question to ask when they haven’t read the job description or your resume. :-) :-)

Comments are closed.