former employer wants me to fill out paperwork 6 months after I left, boss stole friend’s wallet, and more

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

1. My former employer is asking me to fill out paperwork 6+ months after I left

My former employer keeps asking me to fill out additional paperwork after I’ve stopped working there over six months ago. This started about 2 months ago, and at first I didn’t have a problem and filled out a page or so of documentation they required. Their requests have become progressively more time consuming and I would like to tell them that I don’t want to complete it.

These documents relate to topics most managers cover during orientation (i.e. where fire extinguishers are, safety training, immunization records, general policies, etc.). The only explanation I ever received was when they first asked me and they phrased it along the lines of “we’re trying to get all of our paperwork in order for an inspection by the joint commission.” After that, all other emails were phrased along the lines of “Oh, by the way, fill this out ASAP.” The paperwork includes going online to watch videos on hospital specific training and then take a quiz covering the material, and emailing affidavits that I completed the work. (I work in the healthcare industry, and I presume the reason they are asking me is that they are in the process of being re-accredited by a national accreditation board for hospitals and they want to make sure all of their paperwork is in order.

On the one hand, I don’t want to burn bridges with anyone even though I’ve moved on to another position in which I’m so much happier. But I also feel that all of this documentation should have been given to me to fill out when I first started working for them (some of which I have already filled out before) and I do feel justified in saying no. Am I wrong in feeling this way? Is there a way to communicate this to them while still sounding professional?

This is ridiculous. It’s not your fault that they didn’t get this done while you were there, you shouldn’t be asked to make it look like you filled it out earlier when you didn’t, and you certainly shouldn’t be spending your time watching videos and taking quizzes for them (!). The next time they send you one of these requests, say, “I don’t feel right filling this out when I’m no longer working there. Thanks for understanding.”

2. Firing a volunteer on a college publication

I’m in a leadership position for a big, respected college publication. Though none of us are paid, getting on staff at any level can be competitive. I brought on a new member to my team this semester who’s brought nothing but headaches. When I interviewed him over Skype, it was beyond awkward, but I chalked it up to technical issues and was already impressed by his portfolio. My team is small and friendly, but in meetings with them he’s always incredibly uncomfortable and formal. Even one-on-one, he seems nervous and makes communication hard.

It would be easier to excuse if he put in good work, but he’s been unexcited about any of the work I’ve offered to him to do and has trouble meeting deadlines. His work is always several days past when I needed it and not at all what I’ve asked for— he’s so slow with revisions that I’ve had to give someone else his work to finish or just redo it myself from scratch. It’s dragging the team down.

I’ve informally talked to him about the problems and have tried to give him more details on projects, check in with him ahead of time, etc, but nothing has changed. People have suggested I sit down with him and talk frankly about his performance to give him an easy out, but I’m worried that my past attempts at gently correcting have resulted in him thinking that there’s no problem, and I dread the awkwardness of this conversation. It’s finals period and we’re done with production for the semester, but we do recruiting over the summer so I need to figure out relatively soon if he’ll be coming back to the team next semester. What do I do? Can this be solved over email during the summer or do I really need to have this conversation in person? Should I just grit my teeth and bear it?

The problem is that you’re being gentle when you need to be direct: “I need you to turn in your work by the deadline and in good enough shape that major revisions aren’t needed. We can try another assignment if you’d like to, but after that, I’ll need to start assigning articles to other writers.”

But since the semester is over and you’re staffing for next semester, it’s probably too late for that. In that case, you can simply say, “Because your work was often late this past semester, I’m going to give some other writers a chance to do the work.” Ideally you’d do this face to face or over the phone — email really isn’t the right medium for tough feedback like this. Consider it your penance for not being direct with him earlier!

3. Boss relocated my friend’s wallet

I’m looking to help a friend at work who was in tears today over a minor but sensitive issue. She had her wallet in her mail slot and our boss took it. She took it because it had her phone in it. But she didn’t know where it was, she was scared, and she was embarrassed. Our boss had put it in her office to teach her a lesson. It’s that legal to take something so personal?

Yes, that’s legal. She didn’t steal it; she moved it to a different part of your office.

Sometimes I wonder with these questions: What if it weren’t legal? Is your friend really going to go through the time, expense, and professional damage of bringing legal action against her boss for relocating her wallet when no actual damage was done? I suspect it’s more about a sense that Things Should Be Fair, but if you think that all the way through, how would the logistics of enforcing that work? Even if the law allowed you to head to court every time your boss did something you didn’t like (which it doesn’t), is that something you really think would be beneficial to your life? Ultimately this is probably more about wanting some fairy godmother of workplace justice to swoop in to teach the perpetrator a lesson, but … no such fairy godmother exists.

(None of this is intended to pick on you, letter-writer; I’m just musing out loud here.)

4. How can I cut down or end a tutoring arrangement?

I’m a student with way too much on my plate. A year ago, I took a part time job as a tutor. I enjoy it, but the teaching plus prepwork that I do is taking too long. I want to tell my student’s mother that I need to cut down from twice a week to once a week…or once I start class again next week I might want to quit altogether. My only previous employer is my dad, so I don’t know how to have either of those conversations. Both the student and his mother are lovely; I don’t want to be abrupt or rude. What should I say?

First, decide which it is — cut down or stop altogether? Then, just be direct. For instance: “I really love working with Bob. Unfortunately, my schedule has changed and I’ll need to cut our sessions down to once a week. I think that will be enough for Bob because ____. Will that work for you?” Or: “I’ve really loved working with Bob. Unfortunately, I need to cut back on my schedule and won’t be able to continue tutoring after (X weeks from now). I’d be glad to recommend another tutor who might be able to take over the work, if you’d like me to.”

5. Mentioning jobs that aren’t on my resume

Is it ok to mention jobs that aren’t on your resume during the interview? I’ve been primarily in the same positions for a while, but during school I had some summer jobs that just didn’t make the cut for the resume. However, they still taught me some great life skills.

While preparing for interviews, I occasionally think of things I did for these jobs. Would it be weird to say “oh well one summer I did this really great thing at this one job” if they look at my resume and don’t see it listed?

Sure, that’s fine. Just add a quick “It’s not on my resume” so they’re not scanning for it.

{ 259 comments… read them below }

  1. Brett*

    #1 I am only familiar with police accreditation, but in that area, ex-employees do not count for inspection. But… you _will_ get a “not eligible for rehire” for not completing your inspections, which can blackball you for the entire state or wider and even result in losing a current job (since it is okay to contact your current employer after you leave).
    Since the OP is still in the same industry, it might be smart to ask their current employers accreditation officer what to do. Presumably the OP has to complete the same or very similar requirements at their new employer.

    1. doreen*

      I think the OP is talking about something different than you are. You seem to be talking about requirements for an individual to maintain some status (like the training I must complete to keep my peace officer status or the continuing education needed to keep some licenses) , but I think the OP is talking about requirements for the employer to maintain accreditation (like having x number of fire drills per year or providing training to all employees on specified topics or maintaining files in a certain way)

      1. Brett*

        No, I am talking about CALEA, which is accreditation for the entire department. POST (in our state) is individual certification. Losing POST means you cannot work at all as a peace officer.

        1. LQ*

          It seems like a very odd policy then, since there’s no reason to not require someone to do it on their own time/after they are let go/before they are hired.

          (You have to assume someone who isn’t willing to follow the law regarding keeping staff current on things like this isn’t willing to follow the law on paying people either since they’ve already shown a disregard for the law.)
          This doesn’t sound like what the OP has happening thankfully.

          1. Brett*

            Employees are responsible for completely their own accreditation responsibilities (normally reading policies, passing tests, and doing certain training). If you don’t complete it, it gets caught at quarterly line inspection. Your whole unit then is out of compliance until you are personally in compliance.
            So, in an accredited agency, someone like the OP should not slip through the cracks on training for more than a quarter.
            But more importantly, individuals are responsible for taking care of their own policy compliance. Their managers are only responsible for informing them that they are out of compliance.

            1. Anna*

              Right, but this isn’t the case here. What it sounds like here is that the company she worked for didn’t do their due diligence in making sure all employees had gone through training X, Y, and Z and now there’s an audit and they’re sweating. I’m willing to guess that a) her file was selected for the audit and b) she’s not the only one being asked to fill out reams of paperwork and watch online videos.

              When I was in high school I worked for the local Civilian Employment Department (or whatever) on a military base. They were audited for their file completeness and I spent COUNTLESS hours printing out old letters to put in old files that were being audited so they would be “complete”. Everyone was completely freaked out and the auditors barely looked at the files. It was a huge waste of time. But more importantly, you know how you avoid the feeling of dread when an audit comes around? Make sure your files are complete from the start.

              1. De Minimis*

                Yes, this accreditation is for the facility as a whole, not the individual employees. Other employee accreditations can be a part of what the inspectors look at [like are all licensed medical staff have everything up to date and is the facility keeping adequate records regarding that] but the focus is on the practices and procedures of the facility.

                However, it’s not “the law” or anything like that [and in fact it sounds like there are quite a few areas/facilities that don’t bother with J-Co accreditation.

    2. The IT Manager*

      The joint commission has to do with the hospital’s accreditation. Obviously they will be reviewing records of past employees which were not maintained when the LW was there. So that’s why the hospital is acting crazy ie asking former employees to fill out training paperwork. I don’t think any reasonable person would think that refusing to fill out paperwork or take CBTs 6 months after the fact is burning a bridge. Also they should have been doing that all along. This after-the-fact paperwork exercise is an effort to fool the joint commission into thinking your employer was maintaining proper training records all along. You should stop now because people shouldn’t be doing free work for their former employer and because your helping cover up a problem at the hospital.

      1. Chuchundra*

        That’s an important point. Training is work and you shouldn’t do work for any employer (past or present) without getting paid for it.

        I do my online training from home sometimes, that way we can say I’m in compliance when I start my next shift, and I always put it on my time card.

        It’s not like I’m watching ladder safety videos for funsies.

      2. Celeste*

        I am in compliance work and I agree completely with this. They need to let the chips fall in their inspection. It is not the OP’s responsibility to see that a former employer gets a better score than they deserve for not being in compliance while you were employed there. You gave them a 2-week notice, I’m sure. They had their chance while you were on the payroll. Now you are doing it as volunteer work for them. The best part about being a volunteer is that you are in control of how your time is spent, and you can say no to any further requests.

        1. Poofeybug*

          Agree. I’ve been in the compliance world and the former employer needs to let the chips fall where they may and leave the OP in peace. You can’t “back-comply” a former employee — it’s absurd! Also, I would warrant that if it’s not downright illegal, it’s skating close to unethical.

      3. Brett*

        Do former employees matter for hospital accreditation? The point I sorta buried above is that former employees do not for police accreditation, only current. Though that would only be another reason for the OP to stop now.

        1. Ruffingit*

          I don’t know, but I’m thinking this is a situation where they look at the previous year or two and say something like “During this time period, did ALL employees have training on X and Y? Did all have access to a manual about fire safety, etc.?”

          I’m guessing that is what is going on here and that each employee’s file for the time period in question needs to contain the paperwork that shows they did training and so forth while they were there. This is why I’m thinking the hospital is going to backdate this stuff, which is really shady. In any case, the OP is no longer there and should not be doing this for them. If they didn’t get their act together while she was there, it’s on them.

          1. fposte*

            Exactly what I was thinking. This is an attempt to retcon their compliance, and their failure is on them, not the OP.

            1. Kelly L.*

              Retcon is exactly the word! And they may plan on falsifying the dates when they get the materials back from the OP, or just hope nobody looks at the dates.

        2. Anonalicious*

          Yes. Joint Commission can go back as far as they want to, but typically only go back to the organization’s last survey. It is important to see that a hospital is being consistent, especially about training and documentation. It’s as bad as it would be on a current employee, but if the OP has only been gone 6 months, then that’s a red flag to the surveyors and they’ll dig more and probably find more discrepancies. But this sounds like an organization that’s trying to cover its ass and while it might work if you have some lax surveyors one year, it won’t last and you’ll lose your accreditation if they find out you’ve faked any documentation.

        3. Bea W*

          What matters is that while people were employed there they received the proper training. They would see Wakeen worked in the micro lab from Jan-Nov 2013, and want to see that all of his information is in order for the time he was working in the lab. They won’t completely ignore that because he’s not currently employed. They want to see that the hospital is making sure all of its employees complete required training. For lack of a better way to describe it, they are looking at the pattern of behavior on the part of the employer.

          1. Beti*

            “they are looking at the pattern of behavior on the part of the employer”

            I’m guessing they won’t like what they find. If they are so desperate as to be backdating training documentation about fire extinguishers for one former employee, they are probably going to have a host of other compliance issues, too.

        4. Red Librarian*

          As others have suggested this is probably a situation where the accreditation people will want to make sure that everyone received the proper training while they were there.

          Like, we always have to watch a video for our mandatory annual sexual harassment training and then sign a paper that says we attended and that paper goes in our file. That’s the sort of thing our accreditation committee could potentially look for in everyone’s file. And considering it’s mandatory, if someone doesn’t have it on file it could be a problem.

      4. Ruffingit*

        Exactly and I’m wondering if the employer is backdating this paperwork too. Lots of possible shady issues here. Stop doing this for them OP.

      5. the_scientist*

        I would bet my next paycheque that this is exactly what is happening. I work in a hospital and I had to complete probably about 20 hours of online training (I either did it at work, on the clock, or kept track of my hours and took paid time off in lieu) when I started working here. The training is for hospital policies/procedures (codes, good clinical practice, ethics since I work in research, etc.). It’s all done on line and you have to get a certain score on the post-module quiz (usually like 80% or 90%) to pass, and the hospital keeps all these records so that they have proof that their staff have been sufficiently trained on hospital policies and procedures. The OP’s employer’s QC and compliance practices obviously leave a lot to be desired, and they’ve clearly discovered that there are gaps in required trainings during the audit period.

        TL;DR don’t keep doing this, OP. It has no effect on your standing with a professional body and it’s not on you to help your former employer pass their audit.

        1. themmases*

          My hospital does the same thing– although we only file research-specific ethics training with our IRB.

          I agree with others here that it sounds like the OP’s employer is trying to lie to or at least mislead the Joint Commission about their training practices. Not only does the OP not need to help them do that, they shouldn’t.

          I’d also add that if the people sending the OP these assignments were people who notice and take action when their instructions aren’t fulfilled, these gaps in their documentation would never have happened at all. I wouldn’t worry too much about burning a bridge with an organization this shady, but in this case I’m not even convinced it would happen.

        2. De Minimis*

          My workplace has to undergo Joint Commission surveys somewhat regularly. I wouldn’t continue doing this if I were the OP, it sounds like they are trying to backdate and make it look like you received training that you didn’t actually receive [or at least they didn’t document at the time.] You’ve moved on to another position so I think it’s fine to just let them know you won’t be filling anything else out from now on.

        3. Lisa*

          What if OP might work there in the future? Shouldn’t he/she do it if there is a chance she may want to work there again?

          1. Brett*

            Sounds like an employer not worth going back to if they are faking accreditation compliance.

            1. Lisa*

              But some places have few employers in the area so its possible OP may try and go back in a few years.

              1. De Minimis*

                Yes, especially if it’s a hospital. Even larger cities only have so many hospitals. I still would politely decline and just say that I did not have time to do it.

                From what I can tell, all facilities probably fudge things here or there when it comes to these inspections, but the really critical items will be found out [you can’t really fake things like following correct procedures in the lab, for example.] Even when they are, though, they get opportunities to correct it.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            She still doesn’t need to do it. There are polite ways to say no. An employer who would hold a polite no against her in a case like this is an employer who would be horrible to work for in all sorts of other ways.

          3. A Teacher*

            No. As a licensed medical professional, if I were to lie and agree to back date something I could also be in trouble with my medical license because its highly unethical. I’m not going to lie for you and face a $1000 fine and possible suspension of my license because you the employer messed up.

            1. the_scientist*

              I should clarify in my original comment- refusing to do it will not impact OP’s standing with any professional body, but actively helping her employer falsify documents could definitely impact her standing. So that’s another case for simply making a polite refusal.

            2. OP*

              They actually never asked me to backdate any of the documents I provided. I would never jeopardize my own reputation by lying for a former employer.

    1. Lillie Lane*

      Maybe it’s one of those phone case/wallet hybrids. What I don’t get is why the boss took it — was it ringing and making a disturbance? Was it a lesson of “don’t leave out things you don’t want stolen”?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I read it as the boss wanted to teach her a lesson about not leaving your wallet lying around because it could be stolen. It made me think of how once as a teenager, I was grocery shopping with my older sister and kept obliviously leaving my purse in the shopping cart while I wandered off. She stole it to give me a moment of panic and teach me a lesson about not doing that. (It worked; I never did that again.)

        1. Lillie Lane*

          It’s funny how small lessons can make big changes in behavior. I thought I lost my truck keys in a client’s field last week (I work in agriculture) and nearly had a heart attack. Luckily, they happened to be in my other jacket pocket….but now they are always on a lanyard around my neck, with a bright ribbon attached as well.

            1. Bea W*

              The only thing possibly worse than that is losing your keys in the ocean (not me, a friend I swear!).

              1. Headachey*

                Worse than that? When you work in commercial real estate and have to rekey ALL of your properties because the president of the company dropped his keys & phone off the side of a boat. Losing keys was a fireable offense (for any other employee).

                1. Headachey*

                  Heh – just one, in this case – all the properties were keyed to one master, so losing the master = rekeying all properties to a new master.

            2. AVP*

              I haven’t lost anything in a field, but once I was doing a video shoot on a tomato farm with a big hill. My SUV couldn’t take the gradient and started rolling backwards, so I thought to myself “okay just aim away from the tomatoes so the farmer doesn’t get too mad.” Which made sense, but then I ended up backing into a mud ditch on the other side of the road. I had to get pulled out by tractor!

              It was on a Sunday, too, which the tractor guy REALLY appreciated as he showed up in his church clothes to tow me out.

            3. Collarbone High*

              In high school I worked in a bookkeeping office that only three people were allowed to have keys to. The employee parking lot was next to a dumpster that always had a lot of crows hanging around. One day I slipped on the ice in the parking lot and watched helplessly as my keys fell out of my pocket, skidded across the ice and landed at the feet of a crow … which promptly grabbed them and flew off.

              Nobody believed that was how I lost my keys, but I swear it’s true.

          1. Camellia*

            This! When I was much much younger I was at the hospital with my new in-laws, waiting on a family member to come out of surgery. In the restroom I did my normal ‘use toilet – flush toilet – adjust clothes’. Except I was left frantically trying to get everything back in place as I watched the water level rapidly rise and overflow the bowl! O_O

            Luckily I managed, and was saved being embarrassed in front of my in-laws but, whew, it was close!

            Since then it is always ‘use toilet – adjust clothes – flush toilet’. And I trained my daughter to do that too. :)

        2. Katie the Fed*

          I got engaged last year and kept taking my engagement ring off because I wasn’t used to wearing it and it was aggravating me and I’m fidgety in the first place. I once lost it – eventually found it in the pocket of a jacket I’d been wearing which is Really Really Stupid. It could easily have fallen out. Now I make damn sure it’s on my finger, or I have it in one of several designated boxes that I keep in each room of the house for when I get fidgety. I would be devastated if I lost it.

          1. Jamie*

            I did this, I lost my original wedding ring which was custom to fit around my engagement ring. I was always taking them off and leaving them lying around…which I do not do anymore. Ring box or if I’m in another part of the house I’ll put them on the chain on my neck.

            Very Happy Days I know, but haven’t lost them since.

          2. Judy*

            I’ve always kept mine in my change area of my wallet if I have to take it off somewhere not at home (like sometimes doctor’s office, gym, etc).

            1. Katie the Fed*

              That’s a good idea. It’s just that it’s a large rock on my finger (not a diamond though, in case this seems like a humble brag) and I never wore rings at all previously so it’s just weird getting used to it. After 6 months of being engaged I’m finally at the point where I feel like I’m missing something if I don’t have it on.

            2. Mimmy*

              That’s a great idea! I hate wearing my rings when I’m typing, so I used to take them off and just set them on the desk….yeeeah not so smart! Luckily I’ve never lost them, but knowing me, it would’ve happened eventually!!

            3. Amy B.*

              I did this also, until I scooped up all my change one day to put in a tip jar! Luckily I caught my mistake in time.

          3. Diet Coke Addict*

            I heard too many horror stories about women losing their expensive rings (including a story about a woman traveling through rural France who took her priceless rings off to wash her hands in a rural pub toilet, bumped them, and watched them fall into a drain to nowhere) to take mine off and leave it anywhere. It has one spot in the house, period, or it’s on my finger.

            My wedding band is plain so I never take it off and don’t fret about it. No stones to get lost, nothing to be ruined! Ah, ease.

            1. Bea W*

              I knew someone who had a large some of cash in her underwear and lost it down the toilet when she went to use the bathroom.

            2. Cally*

              Yep, my rings go in exactly two places – on my finger, or on my ring holder at home. I lost a beautiful ring once in a public bathroom (left it on the counter, went back for it within 5 minutes and someone stolen it), so now my policy is to NEVER take them off outside the house. Once you wash your hands with the rings on a few days in a row, you get used to it.

              1. Ann Furthermore*

                Yes, I’m like this too. I have a ring holder beside the bed, where they go every evening, and then I put them back on the next morning.

                The only exception is if I’m making something for dinner that requires me to remove my rings: meatloaf, meatballs, etc…something where I have to get my hands dirty. Then they go on the window sill in the kitchen.

                One time I left them there in the kitchen, and had a horribly panicked moment the next morning when I went to get my rings off the ring holder and they weren’t there.

          4. Steve*

            I lost mine while my friend and I were helping our husbands build a barbecue grill. We then had to sneak out at night to take it apart to look for it ….

            Oh wait, that wasn’t me. I’ve been watching too many 50’s sitcom reruns. :-)

            Teaching people lessons of that nature suck.

          5. Ruffingit*

            I once left my engagement and wedding ring set in a bathroom at the airport. I had taken it off to wash my hands. I went running back to the bathroom within minutes and they were gone! Went to an information kiosk and luckily someone had turned them in there. PANIC CITY.

          6. Algae*

            I lost my wedding ring in my living room once. I took it off because my fingers had swollen up after working outside all day and when I went to take it up to the jewelry box, it was gone.

            Found it 9 months later in a slipper in the back of my closet. No idea how it got there.

            1. Case of the Mondays*

              Do you believe in ghosts? I’ve lived somewhere haunted and worked somewhere haunted and had similar occurrences at both.

            2. QualityControlFreak*

              Or cats? I once had a pack cat who stole small items (hair pins, guitar picks) and stashed them under the rug.

              1. Collarbone High*

                Hah, mine ripped a hole in the lining on the bottom of the sofa and hid stolen items inside the sofa. I didn’t find out until movers picked up the sofa and all kinds of random junk fell out.

          7. Jubilance*

            Losing my engagement ring is my absolute worse fear, but like you I’m not used to wearing it. I like the suggestion of putting it in the change section of my wallet when I absolutely have to take it off. I also went for a very thin band on my engagement ring because I knew something thicker would drive me crazy.

            1. Artemesia*

              I have a one in a kind wedding ring that we bought from an artisan in Europe and really is irreplaceable — at home it always goes into a box in my bathroom and when I travel I always put it in a pocket in my dop kit at night so even if I forget to put it on in the morning, I know that it will be in the suitcase since I am not likely to leave the giant dop kit behind when moving on. I have left sweaters or nightgowns hanging on the back of a door etc when traveling — but no one is leaving the kit with their toothbrush, shampoo, make-up etc.

            2. Judy*

              Frankly, any jewelry I have to take off away from home goes in my change section of my wallet. Except for travel, I have this nifty jewelry kit that’s fabric that closes into a bundle, but opens mostly flat. It has a round bottom and a bunch of pockets on the inside and a drawstring to pull it tight.

              I see several when I google “drawstring travel jewelry bag”, but I think my mother in law made mine herself.

          8. the gold digger*

            My solution is not to wear my wedding ring ever. I don’t have an engagement ring – I got a Good Trash Can instead, which my husband bought when it wasn’t even on sale.

            (I come from thrifty people – my aunt just drove herself to the hospital because she was having a heart attack. She didn’t want to pay for the ambulance. On the way there, she stopped to return something to a store.

            Yes, my sister the nurse practitioner and my other aunt the EMT have given her the what’s for that one does not drive oneself to the hospital when one is having a heart attack, if for no other reason than one could lose control of the car and harm other people.)

            1. ThursdaysGeek*

              I went one step further by suggesting that money could be better spent on food and rent than a ring, so no wedding ring at all.

              My dad thought he was having a heart attack once and drove himself to the hospital — are we related?

          9. LV*

            My cat “stole” my engagement ring. I had taken it off one day and put it on my desk, and the cat knocked it over. It managed to settle under a small dust bunny in a crack between the desk and the wall, in such a way that it wasn’t visible when I glanced there during my panicked search. I found it months later when I had to take the desk apart because Husband and I were moving.

            1. Elsajeni*

              I knocked mine down the back of a heavy bookcase, of course about three days after my now-husband had moved cross-country to take a new job and thus was no longer available to move the dang bookcase. I wasn’t too concerned about it, because 1) it was a goofy costume ring that cost me $17 and 2) I knew exactly where it was, I just couldn’t reach it, but it really bothered my grandmother to see it missing. Eventually I had to recruit both of my roommates to help me get it back.

              Then my grandmother gave me a ring holder at my shower and made fun of me for like 20 minutes straight.

          10. JC*

            I try to always keep my engagement/wedding ring on because I feel like I’d be more likely to lose it if I took it off than for it to slip off my finger. Although once when my husband had lost some weight, his wedding ring fell off his finger and landed on top of a subway grate—it did not fall through, though!

            I’ve known more than one person whose engagement/wedding ring has been stolen out of their house, which is another reason why I feel like my rings are safer on my fingers. Even though I live in a city and am probably more likely to be mugged (so someone could ask for the ring off of my finger) than to have my home robbed.

          11. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I went through this with mine the first few months I had it! I eventually bought a few old-timey ring holders from Etsy and have one by the kitchen sink and one by the bathroom sink (the two places where I most often take it off). It’s been hugely helpful.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              The kind with the rod in the middle? Yep, I have one in just about every room now. And next to the couch where I always get fidgety.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Sort of! One of mine is a tiny silver cat, and the ring goes on its tail. The other is an elephant, and the ring goes on its trunk!

                1. Katie the Fed*

                  Ohhh I need to find these! I actually love looking for unique ring holders.

          12. Diane*

            Years ago I was learning to water ski with my then-husband and his coworkers. Before I went in the water, I gave him my too-big engagement and wedding ring to tuck away safely. He lost the engagement ring and yelled at me for being stupid enough to give it to him. So, yeah. That didn’t last.

        3. MaggietheCat*

          My purse was stolen out of my cart in a parking lot when I was loading groceries into my SUV. It was awful!

        4. neverjaunty*

          That’s still awful, whether or not it’s legal. Boss should be treating the employee like an adult, not playing head games to ‘teach her a lesson’.

          1. KrisL*

            I agree; the boss could warn her, but moving her wallet – that wasn’t nice.

            1. KrisL*

              Unless the boss was moving the wallet to prevent it from being stolen – that would be a good thing.

      2. The IT Manager*

        That is my thought. Was it ringing or vibrating or making other annoying noise?

        Somehow I really feel the phrase “teach her a lesson” came from the scared and embarrassed employee describing the situation and not the boss. Why was she so scared and embarrassed? Was it because she really thought it was stolen? If so then we cannot know the boss’s intent, but we do know that the employee learned a lesson by her own immediate reaction.

        Also I suspect the friend may have a bad relationship with her boss to begin with. It’s weirdly putting all blame on the boss when it sounds like the friend was doing a dumb thing leaving her wallet and phone out where anyone can take it and where it can ring/vibrate to attract attention of others.

        1. Colette*

          Somehow I really feel the phrase “teach her a lesson” came from the scared and embarrassed employee describing the situation and not the boss.

          Yes, if the boss used the words “teach her a lesson” then there’s something off about the boss. If it came from the employee, then there’s something off about the employee’s reaction. Either way, it’s not a sign of a good relationship.

          1. fposte*

            I could even see the phrase coming up offhandedly when the employee mentions how it frightened her without that being the purpose of the relocation.

        2. JMegan*

          Agreed, I’ve been wondering that too. Did the boss actually say “I took it to teach you a lesson?” Or did she say “You shouldn’t leave your wallet in your mail slot where anyone could take it.”

          It’s possible that the boss, or the employee, or the relationship (or all three!) is a bit off-kilter and someone isn’t understanding social norms. But all other things being equal, I would assume the boss took it for the purpose of keeping it safe, and preventing someone else from actually stealing it.

      3. Jamie*

        That’s what I think, it was taken because it was left out. If you go in my purse to take my wallet, or even if I left it on my desk in my office with the door closed that’s awful…but if I left it out of course someone would take it and secure it. I’d absolutely do that for any wallet I saw laying out in a shared area.

        Not even so much to teach someone a lesson, but because it’s dangerous to leave stuff like that lying around and I’d feel bad if I saw it there, did nothing, and it was stolen.

        Someone left their wallet on their work station once and it was stolen. Then HR and the head of security spent time going through the tapes to see who took it, someone was fired – it was all kinds of hassle. You do to leave stuff like that lying around.

        (I am ashamed that I still don’t know when to use lie or lay, and I’m pretty sure I just did it wrong but the other way looks wrong, too, and I have a conference today and no time to google. I love this conference because I learn so much, but I hate going alone so very conflicted. I really wish I had a conference buddy but apparently all of you have better things to do today.)

          1. LBK*

            This is such a mind-blowingly simple mnemonic that I can’t believe that I’ve never heard it before. Thank you!

          2. Ellie H.*

            I like that too.

            You have that same distinction in Russian too with standing, lying, sitting and hanging, they all have the “you do it to an object or person” and “he/she/it is doing it” forms that you have to use correctly.

        1. Ruffingit*

          I have nothing better to do today except go to a job I don’t like so I’ll go to the conference with you. Just give me a few hours to get from Texas to Illinois. Be right there! Also, I insist we wear matching Hello Kitty t-shirts to said conference. See you in a bit :)

          1. Jamie*

            I can use a rescue. Long story very short on way in:

            Emergency call > data deleted by accident > customer on premises > in parking lot code crystal report to pull data from other table > 1.5 hrs later head to conference > 2 buildings same address > lost on foot > finally get here 2.5 hours late and I’m all sweaty and gross > and the only solo representative from company, all others sent multiple people.

            This is why I don’t like to leave my office!

            Oh, and PSA – there’s a reason people don’t write crystal on iPads.

        2. Bea W*

          Yes, I’ve done this – taken a wallet I’ve seen laying about, but I didn’t leave it hiding. I let the owner know as soon as I could so that they wouldn’t panic like the OP’s co-worker.

    2. Lisa*

      I would be annoyed with my boss that did this. It seems very unprofessional, and bosses are not parents or fairy godmothers doling out teachable moments. There is no need for a lesson, to watch your employee panic. If the boss was concerned, she took take the wallet and hand it to OP and tell them not to leave it in the mail slot. Or put it in OP’s desk or even the bosses office and let her know when she realizes it was gone. They are bosses and should treat people with respect, and not create situations like this. If OP is young, people think its ok for lessons, but its a job not a classroom and shouldn’t matter how old OP is. Boss was weird for doing this, and prob ‘teaches’ / ‘bullies’ employees in other ways too.

      1. CNM*

        I agree and I would be annoyed if my boss was trying to teach me a lesson like this. The professional/mature thing to do would be to tell the employee that she should not leave her wallet out in such a manner. Still, I don’t see why this employee is so embarrassed/upset about it? Seems like there’s more to this story.

    3. Anna*

      What I don’t understand is why the friend is so mortified. Your boss picked up the wallet and stuck it in her office. No Big Deal.

  2. Lizzy*

    3.) I am a bit confused about this one since the information feels incomplete. Was the lesson the boss was teaching your friend not to leave your wallet/phone in a careless place? Does your friend have a uneasy relationship with the boss? And why does your friend hastily want to take legal action?

    I guess I am trying to understand if there is more to this scenario than what has been presented.

    1. Lizzy*

      I meant “an uneasy relationship” (I get paranoid at the thought that I am being judged for my typos).

    2. Nina*

      I agree, I feel like we’re missing some information here. Does the friend have a history of leaving her phone/wallet around where it can easily get stolen? The OP said it was in the mail slot, along with the phone. Are cell phones not supposed to be out during work hours?

      Because frankly, I would be angry if anyone I worked with took my property, even under the guise of teaching me a lesson. I can see my parents doing something like that to make a point, but your boss deliberately hiding your stuff? That just feels inappropriate and juvenile.

      Has your boss spoken to your friend before about this issue? Hiding her phone/wallet seems like a drastic move when your boss could have pulled your friend aside and informed her “You left your phone out again/your wallet”. “If this happens again, then I will be forced to do xyz” or whatever actions follows something like this.

      1. Zillah*

        It’s possible that there’s some other reason the boss took it, though. Maybe there have been a few incidents of theft recently, or there was something else going on that made the friend having her wallet and phone out inappropriate/unwise.

        Or maybe the boss has warned the OP’s friend in the past about leaving her stuff out in the open (or this is a big company policy that’s emphasized strongly).

        That letter does confuse me a bit, though. Who leaves their wallet and phone in a mail slot?

        1. GigglyPuff*

          I have to say, I’m one of those women who hates to carry a purse, so I tend to stick things in my pocket, or if it’s a short distance just carry it in my hand or get it out of my pocket in preparation to put it away. So I could see myself walking by after lunch, taking my wallet out of my pocket to put away, then passing the mail slots and stopping to check, and if there was something, putting the wallet in the mail slot to go thru the mail right then, then walking off…

          first phone I ever lost happened like that, heading to my car, took my cellphone out of my pocket to put on the seat, instead put it on top of the car to take my jacket off first, and totally drove off with the cellphone on top of my car.

          Honestly the way I read it, I completely thought it was the boss’ cellphone (no idea why the person would have it), but that’s how the phrasing sounded to me, and maybe that’s why she freaked out. Or maybe she had just stopped at the atm and loads of cash and completely panicked…but yeah feels like this isn’t the entire story.

          1. the gold digger*

            hates to carry a purse

            So where do you keep your sunglasses and your regular glasses and your wallet and your comb and your makeup that you don’t put on until you get to work because it takes that long for your eyes to de-puff and your imitrex and your bandaids and your eyedrops and your mp3 player and your phone and your pens and your scratch paper to take notes about the high school kids on the bus who might have broken up but are still sitting next to each other only he doesn’t put his arm around her any more?

            1. Zahra*

              Ha! My strict minimum kit is:
              – Bus fare card
              – Debit card
              – Driver’s License
              – Cell phone (everything is in a wallet-case)

              Otherwise, I have a wallet with all the other cards and with the cash.

              And I have my backpack with: lunch, snacks for my kid, mini-diaper kit (3 diapers, a handful of wipes), wrap, water.

              I can get by most days with my strict minimum. I always carry my backpack because I need the lunch and water (and it’s more elegant than a lunch box or a plastic bag).

            2. Artemesia*

              There are all sorts of garments designed to carry things reasonably gracefully so that one doesn’t have to be a donkey with a purse. Men after all manage it.

              Since I stopped carrying a purse most of the time, I don’t get those neck/head aches from having half my possessions dangling off my shoulder. And the fact is that most of us need a whole lot less than we customarily carry around.

              If I am on a work thing — I have a messenger bag/computer bag that doubles as a purse. If not, I have a light trench coat from that has a couple of dozen hidden pockets. I have a light dressy travel jacket with several hidden pockets. etc And just out and about I wear dark black jeans styled to look like black pants. The watch pocket is great for a couple of emergency meds; my phone fits into the front pocket. A few tissues and a colored lip balm go into the other pocket. My credit card and ID go into the jacket pocket.

              I have a couple of small purses for outfits that don’t have pockets — mostly evening things — but most of the time, I get by fine without being a pack animal — which I was for years when I had enough in my purse to live several days after a natural disaster.

              1. Anonylicious*

                It’s funny, I started carrying a purse because keeping my wallet in my back pocket was starting to bother my arthritic hip. (And keeping it in the other back pocket just felt weird.) Bodies are such inconvenient things sometimes.

                I don’t really carry too much in it, so the main change is that my hip hurts less and I send fewer lip balms through the wash.

            3. LCL*

              Sunglasses on the head, reading glasses in the pocket of the workshirt, comb in the back pocket of the work pants, eyedrops in the watch pocket of the pants or in a shirt pocket. Pen and pad in the shirt pocket.
              Headache medicine at the desk, in the company vehicle and in the workbag. 2 phones in the pocket of the work jacket. I don’t use a portable music player.

              On the rare occasions I get dressed up and girlified I carry a purse, and am so nervous about losing the purse I don’t think I will ever lose it.

            4. GigglyPuff*


              I have a messenger bag I take to work because it’s easy and holds my water, ipod charger, book, morning snack, with other random things I don’t even know, since I rarely go through it (I really should clean it out).

              But I don’t wear make-up so that helps. But beyond work, I usually just stick my wallet in my jean pockets (rarely wear anything else), along with my cellphone. If I’m going to do an activity, I’ll take a bag, but usually I’m just going out shopping/errands, and it makes everything so much easier, and if I have a list for the grocery store, goes in the pocket also (seriously it’s sooo much easier than having to put the purse constantly back on or wear it while grocery shopping). And when I go mall shopping, I don’t even wear a jacket because they are so annoying to deal with.

              I am definitely a low maintenance kinda person, but I can definitely rack up the massive black hole that a purse can become, so I just found it easier to ditch the thing in most cases.

              And yes, sometimes I look like an idiot with a lump in my jeans pocket because I haven’t taken out the receipts in a while, but honestly I couldn’t care less.

            5. KrisL*

              I have too much “stuff” that I “absolutely need” to get by without a purse. Sunglasses, wallet, chapstick, pens, notepad, small calendar, etc.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I left my phone wallet at the rink this past weekend–right on the bench where I had been sitting to take off my skates. I didn’t notice it wasn’t with me until I got several blocks away. 0_0

            I went back and it was right where I had left it, undisturbed. So yes, I can relate to putting things down and then walking off without them!

          3. Anna*

            Yeah, I feel like the embarrassment part is a bit off. Why is the OP’s friend so freaked out about it? Wallets are personal, but not THAT personal. I don’t keep things like medical records in my wallet. I don’t get it.

      2. Lynn Whitehat*

        I agree with Nina, although I think we two are in the minority here. It is really upsetting to have your stuff disappear and you turn the place upside down looking for it, all the while thinking “lost? stolen? how will I get home? and I’ll have to replace my credit cards. And my phone. OMG OMG OMG”. And all the while, it was “safe” in someone’s keeping who felt no obligation to find you, leave a note, put it in a logical location like Lost and Found, or otherwise mitigate the panic. In some instances I’ve seen, the “helpful” person in effect ended up being a thief because the rightful owner had no way to find them.

        I think that, if you feel like you have to take someone’s stuff for safekeeping (and I understand there are times when that is the right thing to do), you need to do what you can to let the person know where their stuff is. It would have been ten seconds’ work to put a note in the mail slot, “Jen, I took your wallet for safekeeping. –Lynn”. Putting someone through that panicky adrenaline rush for nothing, either through thoughtlessness or a self-righteous desire to “teach those slobs a lesson”, is a needlessly unkind way to treat people.

        1. fposte*

          Wow, we would never keep somebody’s wallet in the Lost and Found. Too much access.

          1. Lynn Whitehat*

            OK, then a note, or an email to your co-workers if you don’t know whose it is, or whatever makes sense for where you are. But do something! It is a pet peeve of mine, people who “helpfully safeguard” items but do not think about how the owners will ever find their stuff again.

            I used to spend a lot of time at martial arts tournaments. There were always a few well-intentioned souls who spent all day “helpfully safeguarding” all the “abandoned” gym bags by moving them around randomly or even putting them in their own cars (!). The bags were not so much abandoned as the owner did not feel like schlepping a staff, nunchucks, sparring pads, and a spare outfit with them to go pee or buy a sandwich. Chaos ensued. That is the kind of thing I don’t like.

    3. Neeta*

      I don’t think the coworker necessarily wants to take legal action. Sometimes people just want to be able to go up to someone and state “you know, that’s illegal and it could have serious consequences”.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yeah, but that’s where you need something to stop happening or need it rectified. A one-time situation where the boss does something annoying isn’t the same.

        1. Jamie*

          Yes, and I can see that fairy getting called in either way. Boss secured the wallet this touching someone else’s property or it’s stolen and boss knew it was there, did they have a legal obligation to secure it?

    4. Celeste*

      The boss didn’t steal the wallet, he corrected the employee.

      A more sensitive and effective way to handle it would have been to take the wallet and return it to her in person immediately. As the boss, he can say he does not want the business to have the liability of personal items of value being left sitting out, even in a designated area like a mail box. Even though they would not have been financially responsible for it, work time would be used up responding to the loss.

      I’m sure it would have been educational enough to see somebody else handling your belongings without having the fear factor of reporting a loss.

      1. Vicki*

        A boss may “correct” an employee when the employee does something incorrect that relates to his/her job.

        This wasn’t a correction; this was butting in and overstepping.

  3. Anon Accountant*

    OP3- Is it possible the boss felt her office was the safest place to keep the wallet until claimed by its owner? And that “teaching a lesson” wasn’t intended? Or did she actually say she was teaching her a lesson?

    I feel like there’s more to this post or some negative prior interactions between the friend and boss.

    1. Elysian*

      That’s what I was thinking – maybe the boss didn’t really want to “teach her a lesson,” and just wanted the phone away (so it stopped making noise or vibrating or something) or just thought that the coworkers wallet would be safer on/in her desk instead of in a more public place.

      Either way, this seems like an overreaction – the coworker should be keeping her phone/wallet either on her person or in her desk regardless of the boss’s intent.

      1. Anon Accountant*

        Exactly. From the letter, it seems to me to be more along the lines of the boss thought “this is a safer place” than in a mail slot. Our mail slots are near the door in our office is like a large open cabinet with separated slots with names on them.

        I can’t imagine leaving a wallet in a mail slot and not worrying that it may disappear.

        1. Windchime*

          That’s what I was thinking. Our mail slots are definitely not a good place to keep anything valuable like that. We are in a secure building, but there are at least 150 employees in this building and while most of them are trustworthy, I’m sure there are a few who aren’t.

    2. Vicki*

      Still, leave a note when you take it. Otherwise, it does appear to have been stolen.

      I have moved many a cell phone over the years – they were al left lying on desks and went off, usually on vibrate, causing the desk surface and the surrounding cubicles to buzzzzzzzzzzz.

      I’ve always left a note telling the person where the obnoxiously ringing devise is now. (Usually their bottom desk drawer or their nearby backpack.)

  4. Ann Furthermore*

    #3 I find the phrase “teach her a lesson” to be odd in this context. Did the boss deliberately say that she did this to teach the co-worker a lesson about leaving personal items out in a public place? Did she purposely let the co-worker worry and freak out thinking her wallet had been stolen, and then tell her what she did with it? If so, I find that kind of weird.

    But if the boss saw the co-workers wallet in her mail slot — presumably, in an open area where anyone could take it — and put it in her office for safekeeping, then that’s different. I would have done the same thing, and either left a note in the mail slot or told her in person that I was concerned about it being in such a public place where anyone could walk off with it, so I put it in her office.

    #4: I was an accounting tutor in college, and what it taught me is that there is no better way to learn something than to try and teach it to someone else! There was one guy though, who was so frustrating. Every time I tried to help him do something, or tried to show him a different way to solve a problem, he told me he liked the way his professor taught it better. Then I ran into that same professor at a party, and I told her about that. She laughed and said he would come to her office hours for help, and would always say that he like the way his tutor taught him better.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          To call it bullying would really depend on the context, but it would have to be hideously extreme for me to call it that. Like the boss taunting the employee, telling her that she knew where the wallet was, but wasn’t going to tell her.

  5. Marina*

    #2 – Since the guy was a volunteer, there’s an easier way to do this in the future. With staff you have to have the “Here’s what I need you to do and you’re not doing it” conversation–with volunteers you can instead have a “Do you want to be doing this?” conversation. In this situation, “Joe, I wanted to check in–are you enjoying volunteering with us? I’ve noticed that the last couple things you’ve turned in have been several days late. Is this still a good fit for you?” Nine times out of ten, bad fit volunteers will fire themselves if you give them the chance.

    1. EduStudent*

      But what is the OP supposed to do if he doesn’t fire himself? I like this idea if it works, but could see it getting awkward if the volunteer doesn’t ‘follow the script.’

      1. Colette*

        Then you follow up with setting expectations – i.e. “I’m glad to hear that. I do need you to turn in your work on time”

      2. Marina*

        There is no script. There’s working with the volunteer to make sure that the job you need done is the job they want to do. If they say they want to keep doing the job, then you say, “Great, let’s make sure we’re both on the same page about what the job is.” In this case, the job includes meeting deadlines, and you go from there.

        It’s not a different conversation, but it is a different way of framing the conversation.

        1. fposte*

          It’s a different conversation in that it ends up with the writer staying when the OP wants him to go, though.

          1. Marina*

            Absolutely if the OP wants him to go, that should be a straightforward “We won’t be bringing you back next semester” conversation. But if the OP wants someone in the position who does the job well and on time, and doesn’t care whether it’s him or someone else, then finding out whether he’s even interested in doing the job well and on time is a good first step. It’s ONLY a first step, of course, and it requires the same follow-up as any other management conversation. The semi-final conversation is “Here are the requirements of the job. Is that something you’re able to commit to?” and the final conversation is “You haven’t met the requirements of the job as per our earlier conversations and so we won’t be asking you back.”

            But again, nine times out of ten it doesn’t get to that point with volunteers. The reason that this works better with volunteers than with staff is that staff have financial motivation to stay even when they hate the job. A volunteer’s primary motivation to stay in a job is enjoyment, and if you give them a chance to say “I don’t enjoy this”, that takes away most of their motivation to bother to stick around.

    2. Artemesia*

      One of the reasons a person takes on editor of a college publication is that this is a chance to develop management skills. Ignoring problems, not giving feedback, waiting till summer to do it by email are all examples of bad management. Next fall the OP needs to set as goal the improvement of their management skills; this means giving clear feedback the first time someone fails to meet a deadline i.e. ‘It is critically important that writers meet deadlines and that the work is ready to publish without extensive revision. Your next assignment on the Teapot Dome Scandal is due this Friday and I expect to have it by 3pm in good shape.’

      Then when the piece doesn’t arrive or is not in good shape you have the ‘I thought I made it clear that deadlines are critical in this operation. This is the second time you haven’t followed through; if it happens again we will have to ask you to leave the paper.’ (or if it is a quarterly or something like that, dismiss him at that point)

      Having tough conversation is what is the essence of management. Running a student publication is a great chance to practice this and get good at for your own professional development. Think of failure of an editor to provide direct feedback like this as similar to a writer who doesn’t turn in stuff by deadline.

      1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

        Points for working in the Teapot Dome Scandal! It’s one of the few things I still remember from taking AP US History, and I was just thrilled when it was used as a plot point on Downton Abbey. :)

  6. Mike C.*

    Re #1:

    Let me be a bit more blunt. Tell your former boss to stop making it appear as if you were properly trained and certified when in fact you weren’t. From the sort of crap I used to see, I’ll be surprised if they aren’t forging your signature or initials on other records.

    Also, go to the accreditation agency that is covering your former workplace with this information to ensure you aren’t on record for performing training/work that was falsely recorded after you left. If there is a governmental regulatory agency involved, talk to them as well.

    Don’t tolerate shady behavior in regulated industries.

    1. fiat lux*


      There’s a reason for accreditation in the hospital industry – safety! Falsifying accreditation records is certainly unethical and probably illegal. Not to mention, if OP#1 is a licensed professional and knowingly helps falsify these records, they could place their licensure at risk (I know this would be the case in my profession).

      1. Anonalicious*

        if OP#1 is a licensed professional and knowingly helps falsify these records, they could place their licensure at risk

        THIS. They can report it anonymously to JCAHO. They have an online complaint form that you can use to report bad things going on in your organization. You can also report these kinds of things to your state health department as they are also responsible for surveying healthcare organizations periodically.

      2. OP #1*

        Thank you for responding but I should add that they never asked me to falsify any documents.

        I completed the proper training during orientation but wasn’t given paperwork at the time. They never deliberately asked to back date anything. Most of the documents they’ve asked (like the affidavits for videos) are completed online through 3rd parties where back dating isn’t exactly possible.

        If they demanded that I back date the documents I would have reported them immediately to JCAHO but that isn’t the case here. I have no proof that they have acted so unethically and I believe putting my name next to that sort of accusation without evidence is just as irresponsible.

        1. Beti*

          “where back dating isn’t exactly possible”

          So will these docs (with a date past your employment) really meet compliance requirements?

        2. fiat lux*

          Hey, OP#1! Thank you for clarifying. I can’t say for certain, but something still seems fishy about asking a former employee to complete compliance-related paperwork after their employment with the agency has ended. Given your clarification, I agree that you shouldn’t jump to accusing them of acting unethically, but perhaps you could speak to someone at JCAHO and make sure that what your former employer is asking you to do is acceptable? Or, if you are licensed by the state, check in with your licensing board? In any case, I wish you the best of luck resolving your issue.

        3. Red Librarian*

          If the documents are being dated with today’s date and you haven’t worked there in six months then it doesn’t make any sense for you to be doing them now. I can’t see how that’s going to be compliant unless they are hoping the committee won’t be paying any attention.

          1. OP #1*

            Thanks for the responses and feedback. I completely agree with fiat lux that this whole thing seemed fishy to me when I was first contacted.

            Then when I thought about it, I figured they were going to provide the documentation with the correct dates and simply say that the training was provided initially but documentation was misplaced or lost.

            Unless they were going to completely fudge everything and backdate my newly signed documents. But like I said I have no way of knowing if they are doing that.

            I am familiar with JCAHO standards on certain things and I realize that some hospitals purposefully phrase documentation (such as the one’s my employer has asked for) in order to simply state that I did in fact receive training without specifying when it was completed. which, if that’s the case, all that they’ve asked for is above-board.

            This brings me back to my initial concern of burning bridges. They have offered to pay me for my time to fill out these documents which makes me feel like they realize they dropped the ball and are trying to rectify it. So if the actual standards allow for this aren’t I being petty for denying them?

            I should have also added that everyone in my occupation basically knows one another in the region where I work (metropolitan city), and word spreads quickly about who is a difficult personality and who isn’t. That was where my concern for burning bridges stemmed. I don’t plan on returning and I’ve never used them as a reference but I wouldn’t want my actions to be misread.

    2. Zillah*

      I don’t know that I’d advise being that blunt with the former boss – I can definitely understand the desire, but being that combative (for lack of a better word) could burn bridges or create grudges. However warranted having that talk with the former boss would be (and I agree that it is), I can understand why the OP doesn’t want to explicitly antagonize them.

      However, I agree that the OP should strongly consider going to the accreditation agency – this sort of thing really isn’t cool, especially in a hospital.

      1. Mike C.*

        I’m sorry, but we’re talking about the possible falsification. Of records for a hospital. Burning bridges should be the last thing on anyone’s mind.

        Heaven forbid an old, dishonest boss carried a grudge because I told him to start acting ethically. So what if it’s “combative”, aren’t the lives of your patients worth fighting for?

        1. Colette*

          I don’t understand where you’re going with this.

          Certainly she should not help falsify records – but regardless of whether the records are there or not, she already did the work. The “risking lives” part of this is already done. The issue now is paperwork (& continued certification, potentially). I could see how maybe in the future lives could be at risk if people aren’t properly trained – but it’s not clear to me whether the issue is that she was untrained or that the paperwork wasn’t in order.

          1. Mike C.*

            The risking lives continues to happen until someone reports the boss to the proper agencies/authorities/regulatory groups. This is not a time to be worried about “references” or “the appearance of being professional”. It is everyone’s ethical responsibility to, at the best of their ability, stand up when situations like these come up.

            1. Colette*

              I completely agree she shouldn’t continue to fill out paperwork, and I’m fine with her reporting the employer if that makes sense in her line of work. However, not everyone is willing or able to stand up to the employer directly & potentially risk their ability to make a living, and I think they should be allowed to choose their own battles.

          2. the_scientist*

            There is a middle ground here, though. She can report anonymously to her union (if she has one- the nurses union here in Ontario is extremely powerful), the regulatory body, and any number of safety commissions. She doesn’t need to put her contacts at her old employer on blast- she can simply respond with “now that I no longer work for you, I am unable to do this” and leave it at that. If they keep pushing that would be the time to say “this is making me uncomfortable”. Would that mean that she can’t use them as a reference? Perhaps, but in the healthcare field telling a prospective employer that your former boss asked you to falsify training documents is really a pretty rationale explanation for why you don’t have a reference.

            Also, I’m agreeing with Mike C that if OP is in a healthcare profession, it is her ethical obligation to put a stop to this, even if it’s just by telling her employer she won’t help them out anymore. It will likely reflect more poorly on her reputation to continue.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Yeah, like telling him to act ethically is going to make him do it.

          I think OP should just say what Alison recommended and then go to the accreditation board and report it so she doesn’t get dinged for it.

        3. Zillah*

          … which is why I said the OP should strongly consider going to the accreditation agency. This isn’t an either confront the employer head on or do nothing situation – there’s a middle ground. In the case, I think the middle ground will be far more effective.

          I also think that hyperbole like “aren’t the lives of your patients worth fighting for?” isn’t helpful. How, exactly, is reporting the employer without directly confronting them equivalent with letting patients die?

      2. fiat lux*

        If I were OP#1, I would stop using this former employer as a reference anyway, because no matter how gently and mildly you decline to falsify this documentation, the employer might still feel resentment toward you for saying “no.”

      3. Bea W*

        I’d be (and have been IRL on the job) that blunt. When it comes to falsification of documents, fraud, and scientific misconduct, the least of my concerns is bridge burning, and I have no problem explaining in an interview what I have done in shady situations. No employer in their right mind is going to ding someone for being in compliance and protecting both patients and ultimately their employer (as in the institution, not the person being shady) by recognizing and reporting it.

      4. Red Librarian*

        I’ve been that blunt before and when I did it, my supervisor backpedaled so fast it was ridiculous. I was still fairly new and it was a risk, but at least he learned that he couldn’t make those kinds of requests and I wasn’t the type to be walked over like the person before me.

    3. Monodon monoceros*

      I agree with this. This situation also sounds like the hospital already knows an investigation is on it’s way, and that there’s a problem with their training records, since the OP is being asked to fill things out “right away.” My old employer did this with some recordkeeping issues- everyone knew we had a specific recordkeeping problem that was never dealt with, then uh oh, here comes the regulatory body knocking and we were all scrambling to fix the issue overnight. Luckily they didn’t ever ask us to fake that it had been done before, and it was totally obvious to the investigators that we had just pulled it all together before they arrived.

    4. Jamie*

      I knew Mike would save me the typing.

      As an auditor nothing will piss me off faster than falsifying records and that’s what this is. Your training material means nothing if they are presenting it with correct dates – that’s not compliance. So they are either changing dates or hoping they aren’t noticed.

      Seriously this made me angrier than almost anything I’ve read here. How dare they ask you to be complicit on this?

      I understand what you said about burning bridges, but as a internal auditor I would feel obligated to not only refuse to sign anything after the fact, but I’d consider reporting to the auditing body, depending on the circumstances. I’d sure as he’ll save all correspondence asking me to do this.

      1. Anon Accountant*

        As an ex-auditor, falsifying records really makes me also see red.

        I think a discreet report to the auditing entity is a good idea. My cynical side thinks that if they’re asking the OP1 to falsify records of trainings that there may be further falsification of other records.

        1. Jamie*

          Not to be alarmist because it could be strictly for routine auditing (more than bad enough) but training records are also audited when there is a lawsuit for a workplace accident and damages can be less if you can prove a consistent and comprehensive training policy.

      2. Mike C.*

        I have a really funny story about faking records actually. During an audit at my old lab, it was discovered that one of the scientists hadn’t been keeping up on her training over the past two years. So right before she left, she was asked to sign/initial a bunch of paperwork, then she left.

        I started looking at it and as her car left, I realized that she had just come back from her honeymoon, had taken her husband’s last name and signed all of the backdated materials with it.

        How amazing is that?

        1. OriginalYup*

          Ha! My first document audit was for a study that required three different signatures across various materials: investigator, site coordinator, and materials coordinator. One site was notable in that all required documents were present in the file and all of them were signed and dates correctly — so basically, 0% error. Remarkably, if you compared the different documents, the handwriting for the three signatures was the same.

      3. Annette in Milwaukee*

        Jamie, maybe you could write about this in the article you are going to write for my company’s website. (My company is an auditor certification body). I had thought of asking OP to write something because this is so bad, but OP might not want to put her name out like that about this situation.

      4. Bea W*

        Not an auditor, but someone who works in regulated industry involving human subjects research. I also used to do site monitoring and had to go through all the documentation with a fine tooth comb to make sure our sites were in compliance with all the right training and accreditation and credentials on file, because god-forbid…”SURPISE! It’s the FDA!!” and more importantly, ensuring safety and respect for the rights of our patients. This got my panties all in a bunch. I’ll be picking this wedgie all week!

      5. Aunt Vixen*

        True story: some years ago, there was a mandatory all-hands meeting where we had a briefing about our NDA and our lifetime obligation of vigilance and blah blah blah. It explained how we would be on the hook for X and Y penalties if something happened with our knowledge, or without our knowledge if we should reasonably have known, etc. etc. And there was a handout that accompanied this threatening lecture, and a document that we were to sign affirming that we had received written representation of what was covered in the briefing. Only mid-way through the briefing, they turned a page and interrupted themselves and said “Oh, hang on, page 3 of this handout is inaccurate. We’ll get you the updated handout later this afternoon.” But wanted us to sign the receipt anyway.

        Damn right I refused to sign it. I think what I said was “I’m pretty sure you just asked a room full of people with sensitive clearances to falsify a record. How about you give us the updated, corrected handout, and then we sign a document saying that’s what you gave us?” I got a fair amount of good-for-you-Vixen that day.

    5. Lora*

      I’m kinda surprised there isn’t something like 21CFR Part 11 in all regulated industries, actually–in pharma, we have an electronic signature system and a hard copy signature tracking process that ensures you cannot tamper with the time-stamps of CBT. Anything recorded on the spot in hard copy must be counter-signed, you wouldn’t be able to just sign it and fax it in. A couple of places where I’ve worked also used biometric identifications as well, where we worked with extremely hazardous and controlled substances. I’m surprised that in a hospital there aren’t more electronic/biometric signatures involved; it might be a real pain in the buttocks to have to userID/password everything, but biometric locks are pretty easy to use in urgent, panicky situations.

      Then again, there are many things I don’t understand about the healthcare industry.

    6. LQ*

      I agree with this. I don’t want this to be the hospital I go to. Help protect people by not enabling this behavior.

  7. T*

    #2 I feel like the way you’ve handled this volunteer is doing everyone a disservice: you and your staff by creating extra work (and by signalling that shoddy and late work is permissible), the volunteer by not letting him know that you have been rewriting his pieces and just how much a problem his performance has been, and his future employers by helping to pad his portfolio.

    Assuming he is unaware quite what a problem this is, you should tell him so that he can improve and get his act together. In regards to the writing, be specific and show him samples of what was wrong with his versions of articles and what changes had to be made. He may think he’s a great writer. I don’t think the point is to give him an easy out, but rather to be upfront and clear about what the performance issues have been. If he is aware that he turns in poor work or knows that submitting work late is a serious issue (how can he not), he’s been able to get away with it at your publication and maybe at others. Now he has a new line for his CV and numerous bylines that are for articles better than he has actually written. I think there is a strong case for letting him go based on late submissions alone, but that should be your decision, not his. Whether you keep him on staff or fire him, explain what the problems are.

    1. Poe*

      Re: padding the portfolio: it is possible that the portfolio he showed was of heavily edited work. Back in the day when I was trying to land writing gigs, I used my actual published pieces, which meant they had been edited from what I turned in. What I left out, though, were 3 pieces I had done where substantial revisions had been made by other people. I loved what I turned in, and although they went a different way when they reshaped it, the work was still good…but I didn’t think it was representative of my writing. This could be a case of the guy leaving those heavily reworked pieces in his portfolio.

      1. T*

        I was thinking the same thing, which might help explain how he got the job in the first place. I wonder if there is a better way for the OP to vet applicants.

        1. Artemesia*

          Perhaps it would make sense for any new writer to be on ‘probation ‘ or ‘try out’ until they have turned in a publishable piece or two. Being on time and with a need for minimal editing would be the criteria for continuing to work for the paper.

          And to repeat myself, the failure to manage the writer is a failure almost identical to the writer’s failure to make deadlines. The editor’s job is to provide feedback and to hold people to their deadlines; the writer’s job is to turn in good work by deadline. The editor is failing her job as spectacularly as the writer is failing his.

          1. fposte*

            Agreed, and that’s the joy of student experience–you can learn on both sides. I also think that the OP is unconsciously pushing for a narrative where it was obvious from the hiring process that the guy was a problem, but it actually seems like that’s a forced narrative–the writer’s being awkward at the interview or in the office isn’t relevant here, and it’s okay for him to have been just fine in the interview and have only displayed the problems later.

    2. Liz*

      I was actually the author of the question, and it seems my vagueness has resulting in some confusion.
      I run a layout department and the volunteer in question is one of my designers. Highly doubt that he’s using anything we’ve published for his portfolio, as he’s majoring in something different and I don’t think he’s planning on pursuing design.

  8. Stephanie*

    #2: Eh, you might be doing him a favor, especially since it’s volunteer and a side gig in addition to his studies (ie, he’s not going to lose out on income).

    I wrote for my weekly college paper all four years. For three semesters, I also worked as an editorial assistant on Press Night on the graveyard shift (like 10 pm-3 am). The staff would an all-nighter to get the paper out to the printer and I’d do a lot of grunt work (getting last minute quotes, rewriting stories, copy editing, etc). The editors called me in one afternoon and essentially fired me, saying they liked me, but there were some younger staff writers they saw as the “future of the paper.” It was really awkward for all involved, but I’m glad they did that in person. The shift was also getting old, especially when I moved off campus (and had to drive back home in the middle of the night).

    They still kept me on as a staff writer (and asked me to write frequently). So maybe the volunteer isn’t a great fit for this role, but could be useful elsewhere.

    #5: I once mentioned (not recently) working at Foley’s (now Macy’s) in an interview, saying it gave me customer service skills

    Another time, an interviewer asked if I had written anything for publication (saying it was just a “nice to have”). I assumed this meant like a book or an academic paper. I initially said no, but then was like “Oh, I was a news writer for my college paper for four years. Would that be relevant?” He was like “Yes, that’s really interesting. Tell me more.”

    I’ve been surprised by what interviewers find interesting and relevant.

    1. #5 OP*

      Ah good to know! I feel like my most exciting and fun jobs are my least professional (and least in my field). Glad to know it’s not weird to mention them during an interview.

  9. Nina*

    #4: I was on the other side of this situation, years ago. Kind of. I was in junior high being tutored in math by a high school student. She was very nice, but going through family issues. Her grandfather was very ill and from how it sounded, didn’t have much time left, sadly.

    We had several sessions together (she did cancel a few times because of family stuff) and it was clear that she was distracted by her personal life, which I understood. But I wasn’t learning much from her and I needed all the attention I could get because math was (and still is) my worst subject. When she broke off tutoring after a couple of months, I wasn’t surprised, I just wished she’d (or myself) had done it sooner so I could have found someone else to help me, because my grades were still suffering. But given her circumstances, I wasn’t angry. Had it been my grandfather, I would have wanted to spend that time with him as well. I thanked her for her time and that was that.

    Long story aside, if you can’t tutor the student for the same amount of time, or don’t have the time to do it all, don’t drag it out. Things happen, people get busy. The sooner you let them know, the sooner they can look for a replacement. Good luck. :)

    1. OP 4*

      You’re so right, Nina! I definitely don’t want to start doing lower quality work with him. I think I’ll wait a week, see what my workload is with my new course, and then decide.

      This is the second time I’ve written in with a beginner-level question, and I really appreciate that you take time to answer both hard, technical questions and short, basic ones like mine. Thanks, Alison!

  10. Hugo*

    #1 – Like others have said, definitely do not assist them in basically lying about what you did! If it is somehow investigated further for some reason (e.g., imagine if the commission gets suspicious and starts digging deeper) you may be in worse shape if you signed things saying you completed training items at the time of hire when you actually didn’t.

  11. Rebecca*

    #1 – you could tell them you don’t work for free, you don’t work for them any longer, and your consulting fees are $100/hour, with a 4 hour minimum. That could shut them up.

    From personal experience, I believe the falsifying of accreditation goes on more than we’d like to think. I ran into this with a home health aid several years ago who was assigned to assist an elderly family member. She told me her boss had her sign papers that stated she was instructed on various topics (she hadn’t been) and when she asked, she was told they were just a little behind on getting everyone together to do it, and it was just a pro forma thing anyway. The aid was afraid to press further for fear of losing her job. The same agency sent a woman who was charged and convicted of shoplifting, several times, and clearly had not done the required background checks. I found this out when I ran her name through our state’s judicial system website, which we, as the family, did with all the people sent to assist.

    It sounds like in OP #1’s case the former employer is trying to cover their collective behinds because they didn’t keep up on their required tasks.

  12. Ms. S*

    # 3 Illustrates perfectly what AAM, and many fail to understand, accepting poor behavior creates a standard, a community standard, expectations and ultimately laws. In the past there were indentured servants, serfs, slaves and child labor (all present around the world somewhere), all these practices were legal.

    I don’t know if you stand up for a misplaced wallet, but workplace rights are created by demanding them. And starting with basic respect of each others’ things, seems normal. Of course, doing so may get you fired. Everyone not doing so, gets you cashiers who are exempt from overtime.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      But the question was “is this legal” not “is this ok.” Those are often very different things. A lot of things are unethical or just plain jerkish, but they’re legal. You seem to think that saying “yes it’s legal” equates to “yes, that’s fine.” Different things.

      That being said, this one seems ok to me. Perhaps the manager warned her many times not to leave her wallet out. Seems to me the manager is trying to help the employee and limit the company’s liability if something happens. Yes, she probably should have gone about it a different way but this one doesn’t seem THAT bad to me. Certainly not along the same lines of unpaid overtime or whatnot.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        Yeah, I’d want to know more specifics of this situation before I light my torch & grab my pitchfork.

      2. neverjaunty*

        Treating the employee like a naughty child who needs to be “taught a lesson” is not ok. It’s bad management.

        1. Kaitlyn*

          This made me laugh.

          I can imagine it now. “You have to go sit in the corner for a timeout now!”.

        2. Katie the Fed*

          Were those the managers words though or the employees’ inference? It’s possible that it was also intended to keep the wallet safe/limit liability.

          1. neverjaunty*

            If the employees reached a bizarre and unfounded conclusion that the boss was playing tricks when instead boss was just moving the wallet as a well-meant courtesy, that’s a whole different set of problems.

            But since we’re taking OP at her word here (“That being said, this one seems ok to me. Perhaps the manager warned her many times not to leave her wallet out”) – that’s bad management.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I don’t really see how it’s bad management. It might be a little overbearing, but it’s not really about management at all.

              1. neverjaunty*

                I don’t understand. The boss was trying to ‘teach a lesson’ to an employee by deliberately making her think her wallet and phone was stolen. How is that not in the context of management?

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Managers aren’t robots. They’re humans who have personalities. Some of those personalities are overbearing or silly or a little douchey. But that doesn’t make every action they take about management; some of them are just them relating to others, like everyone else in the office is doing.

            2. Anna*

              Just last week I was at an event working and the woman at the table next to me left her phone after she packed up all her stuff. I was leaving, too, and the coworker with me was staying. As a courtesy he grabbed her phone so that it wouldn’t just be sitting at the table out in the open. I ran in to her coming back on my way out and told her where it was. If I hadn’t seen her and she had made it back to the table without knowing my coworker had her phone, I doubt she would have jumped to the conclusion that he had stolen it. I tend to think the boss saw an unattended wallet/phone and moved it because it was unattended. I think the OP and her friend may be alarmists to jump to the conclusion that the boss had moved it to teach a lesson or for the friend to be so terribly embarrassed about it.

      3. Jennifer*

        Is there a general FAQ that boils down to “almost everything an employer does is legal, but even if it’s not legal, it’s probably not worth ruining your ability to get hired for another job to sue them for it?”

        1. neverjaunty*

          I kind of hope not. There are a lot of options in between “suck it up” and “immediately run out and file a lawsuit”. Sometimes it seems AAM assumes that there’s no point in even TALKING to a lawyer to find out what your options are, because obviously once you do that you’ve committed yourself to a scorched-earth lawsuit.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I’m not sure what I’ve said that indicates that talking to a lawyer is committing yourself to a lawsuit; of course it’s not.. But certainly in some cases I do think that even going down that path isn’t a useful expenditure of energy.

    2. LBK*

      I actually think AAM is very against accepting poor behavior. 98% of the time she advises people to say something about a bad situation, whether it’s to a coworker, an employee or a manager. The reality is that as many laws as you want to put in place, some people are just going to be jerks no matter what, and being able to threaten them with the law will still lead to you having a poor relationship with them.

      I think there are some things that should be better protected by workplace laws, but realistically, people break the laws we do have anyways and usually it ends up being in the employee’s best interest to just quit and not work for jerks.

    3. Harper*

      I don’t think that AAM or many “fail to understand”. It’s just that these things ARE legal. I think this blog does a great service by pointing that out, because too many people assume there are all kinds of protections for workers when there actually are NOT. We need to face that and if we don’t like it, start talking about it and working for change.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This is exactly my point. What exactly do you think is a reasonable, proportionate response to what the boss did here? She removed a wallet from somewhere where it wasn’t safe and put it somewhere where it was. And you would have the employee do what, exactly?

  13. Katie the Fed*

    #1 – actually, I think it would be unethical for you to continue to fill out this paperwork. Basically you’re helping them falsify documents so they can pass an audit. They screwed up by not keeping up with their requirements. Too bad for them. I wouldn’t help them at all.

    #2 – I always wonder why unpaid employees seem to get more leeway than others. You have plenty of people who want this job. This one isn’t doing it. Next time be more direct – lesson learned. But yeah, no issue with letting him go. Come on, he knows his work needs to be in on time. That’s just basic.

  14. Zillah*

    I am a little confused by #3 – is there some additional content that you cut out, Alison?

    Why was your friend leaving her wallet in her mail slot in the first place, OP? Why wasn’t she leaving it wherever she usually leaves her phone – wouldn’t that be more secure, anyway? It seems like a mail slot is really not a very safe place for something that sensitive.

    And, why was your friend embarrassed? That’s a strange word choice to me. I can certainly see why your friend would be freaked out, but why was she embarrassed? Was there something on her phone/in her wallet that’s embarrassing? If so, then she really shouldn’t be leaving it out in a space where someone could take it.

    Beyond that – did your boss actually say that she did it to teach your friend a lesson? Or could there be another reason for it – e.g., the phone was ringing/vibrating, which was disruptive, or she was concerned that someone might steal it?

    1. Del*

      I think the “being freaked out” part itself could be inherently embarrassing. Panicking, searching high and low for her wallet & phone, possibly making a scene… and then finding out the boss moved it.

      1. Elle D*

        There was a weird point in my life where I would cry if I lost something and generally be in a terrible mood until I found it. This was when I was a broke college student, not as a working professional, but I can sort of understand how someone’s freakout over losing an item as important as a wallet could be somewhat embarrassing after the fact.

        1. Anna*

          Then what it indicates is the coworker needs to evaluate her responses to life happening. Most people I know would be worried, but assume the wallet was somewhere safe and could be easily returned. An email to the department asking “Hey, I did something stupid and left my wallet somewhere. Anyone seen it?” pretty much covers it.

    2. Red Librarian*

      I can understand the feeling of embarrassment, especially if they are actively trying to look for it and perhaps panicking.

      I was in London over Christmas and on the flight back misplaced my passport. I spent a good 20 minutes searching through my carry on, my seat, my coat, etc. looking for it and felt mortified and convinced everyone was watching me (even though most were probably asleep at that point in the flight). Luckily I found it eventually but it was embarrassing to feel like that idiot who lost her passport.

    3. Beti*

      I’m wondering what the friend had in her wallet. All her rent money? Very, uh, personal photos? That could explain the scared/embarrassed aspect.

      And if that’s the case, maybe this _will_ help the friend to not leave her wallet lying around. (Did I used that correctly, Chuchundra?)

    4. Traveler*

      At first I thought the embarrassed was weird too – but if we read into it that it was the boss trying to teach a lesson I can totally understanding being embarrassed.

      If we assume (and it is a bit of a leap without more detail) that it was the boss taking it after having told her several times not to or there being a policy, and the boss moved it without informing her then that was an attempt to teach her a lesson and shame her for doing something wrong.

      I think its normal to be embarrassed when you’ve been “taught a lesson” – especially when she might have asked around for help finding it, and more than just her and the boss knew it happened.

  15. Sunflower*

    #1- This could border on illegal. There’s a reason these things sound like things you should have been doing when you were hired- they ARE things you should have been doing when you were hired! This can go over the line from unethical to borderline illegal. I don’t work in a hospital but I’m pretty sure at some point these records might be backdated and that is definitely illegal. And this is not your fault! It is a hospital’s job to make sure these things are taken care of so this is on someone in the hospital’s butt.

    Say exactly what Alison said and then I would ignore anymore requests

    1. Gilby*

      I was thinking the same thing with the dates.

      If they are looking to make it look like the employee did all this while employed ( signed the paperwork saying they viewed the video, etc…..) the paperwork would then be fraud if it was backdated.

      I can then see them in more trouble for fraud docuements as well not having you do all this stuff when you were employed.

      You do not want your name and signature on paperwork that is backdated by the company. Stop now.

      Do you have the Email’s still? I would save all it.

    2. Bea W*

      Not sure about illegal but definitely ground for losing accredidation. People get fired for that kind of thing! It’s fraud.

      1. De Minimis*

        I don’t know if it’s technically illegal since the Joint Commission is actually a private company and not an actual governmental organization–but their accreditation is required in order to accept Medicare, Medicaid, etc. I don’t think there would be any way for you to get in trouble here, though, the only one who could get in trouble is the employer, not the employees.

        I assume they are already having some kind of problem, because this is too specific a request to just be normal preparatory activity for an inspection. Different inspectors focus on different things, and theirs may just have a thing about training documentation.

        1. De Minimis*

          Did more research, looks like they are technically a non-profit, but they are definitely not a governmental agency.

        2. Bea W*

          I wonder if they have a think about training documentation because it’s been cited in the past, or maybe the person doing the prep is just shady. This is totally not normal prep, not that training and credentialing documentation isn’t one of the things that need to be in order, but not normal in the sense that someone is asking the OP to do required trainings 6 months after leaving the job. That’s just bizarre.

        3. neverjaunty*

          OP #1 could very well get in trouble if the facility were backdating her training and that were found out. Or, more likely, if there were an investigation (or worse, a lawsuit) and OP #1 was called on to talk about whether this training happened. I have no doubt a sleazy employer would do everything it could to shift blame to OP.

  16. Sunflower*

    5- I talk about my waitressing jobs in almost every interview I’ve ever had. I also usually mention something in my cover letter along the lines of ‘I’m used to dealing with stress because I started waitressing at 18.. etc.’. When I bring it up, I also find it really opens the conversation as many interviewers (or their spouses, children, siblings) have worked the same job and they are pretty aware of the challenges of the job without me needing to explain it too much.

    1. OP*

      Ah – I didn’t even think about waitressing! Completely makes sense, since it teaches you a lot, but again doesn’t usually make the cut for professional resumes.

    2. KrisL*

      I worked in a fast food place in college, and in an interview for a more professional job, I used experiences from that to explain how I deal with stress and when the customer is upset. The interviewer appeared to appreciate it.

      I think sometimes people don’t think much of jobs like that, but you can learn a lot about dealing with people, especially annoyed people at those jobs.

  17. Bea W*

    #2 – Remove the dead weight. You’re under no obligation to keep him if he’s not doing the work and dragging everyone else down. I’ve encountered this issue with volunteers. Mostly these people just fade away on their only quickly, but in a few cases we’ve had to let people go because they were terribad and continued to stick around in all their awfulness. Just because it’s unpaid doesn’t mean you don’t actually have to do the work you agreed to or that you can be a total disaster when doing it.

  18. Poohbear McGriddles*

    Thanks for tackling the “Is it legal?” question.

    Not everything that one should do is required by law, and not everything that one shouldn’t do is prohibited by it.

  19. Vanilla Bean*

    #2 – This situation kind of reminds me of a situation I had at a job several years ago. My company (ad agency) had a really competitive internship program, even though it was unpaid. (For what it’s worth, they did receive major perks like paid downtown parking, so they wouldn’t incur expenses.)

    Anyway, we hired an intern (Telly) who would routinely call in sick about once a week, sometimes more. It was frustrating for us, as well as the other interns who had to take on her work at times. Finally, we sat Telly down and explained that even though it was an unpaid position, working at the agency was essentially a long job interview. The company frequently hired former interns and she had just graduated and was actively looking for a full-time position.

    As a result, we let her go. She broke down in tears and it was awful. I felt awful for her (because really- who gets fired from an UNPAID INTERNSHIP?), but we couldn’t let it go on any further than it had.

    OP – like Allison said, it may be too late to do anything about this volunteer, but it might be worth having a “heart to heart” on their last day and giving them honest feedback.

    1. the gold digger*

      I was fired from volunteering for recruiting for my college because at a college fair – one that my college did not care enough about to send college employees or even pay for the booth – I told a dad who asked about our college that no, his daughter would probably not get in with a 26 ACT and I didn’t know that my college had changed conferences because anyone who cares about football would never go to my college in the first place.

      He called the school to complain and posted something about me on a message board. It was horribly humiliating and it’s only now, with some years behind me, that I realize that he was a jerk and that my college should have sent me some kind of guidelines for how they wanted me to answer questions.

      1. Stephanie*

        HA. Don’t worry, the training’s still pathetic. I got fed up enough at the last recruitment fair I did that I refuse to do any more.

        This was when I was in DC. The fair was in Prince George’s County, MD, which is about 95% black in most parts. I go to the fair and am seated next to the Howard University table. I spent most of the evening telling people “This isn’t the Howard table. It’s over there. Do you want to hear about [college] while you wait?” I spent most of the evening reading a book. I think I talked to maybe five students who were legitimately interested.

  20. Bea W*

    Caveat: I am not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV.

    #1 I am assuming you work in some kind of healthcare setting unless there are other agencies commonly referred as “the joint commission” in other fields. This is totally shady and you want to have absolutely nothing to do with participating in it. Please consider reporting this to the proper dept at your former employer such as Compliance, QA, Regulatory Affairs, etc (it goes my various names). If your employer does not have such a person or dept, go over the head of whomever is requesting you to do these things. This is serious business, and it’s possible people higher up the chain are not aware they have employees who are actively engaging in creating fraudulent documentation and putting the entire institution at risk. If you participate, you are also putting yourself at risk. If you do nothing else, please decline any more requests like this and save documentation of it to CYA.

    If this is a healthcare setting, I doubly urge you to report it because it impacts patient safety. You didn’t get required training while you worked there. Where else are they falling down on the job?

  21. Bea W*

    Our boss had put it in her office to teach her a lesson. It’s that legal to take something so personal?

    Legal but jerky. What lesson was she hoping to teach, “Passive Aggressive Behavior in the Workplace and You?”

  22. #1 OP*

    Thank you everyone who commented, I feel the same about the situation and the ramifications of the legalities. Its nice to hear my instincts weren’t off.

  23. Kay*

    OP#4 (tutoring) – I’m a tutor part time for a tutoring company. I’m not sure by your letter if you’re free-lance or working through a company. If you’re with a company, talk to your boss there and let them know the situation and they can help you transition and keep things smooth with the family.

    If you’re working on your own, do you have some friends that also tutor? Or do you know someone who would be a good replacement? If you have those resources it will help to make the transition smoother. Also, like Alison said you need to be direct, and I would add that if possible, you should give them more than a week or two week’s notice if at all possible. It builds rapport with the family and lets them know that you’re not leaving them in the lurch. Good luck!

  24. Red Librarian*

    #1 — The OP doesn’t indicate this in the letter but are they being asked to back date the papers? Because that would be fraud and falsifying of documents. Aside from the whole “they shouldn’t be asking you to fill this out 6 months (!) after you left” part.

    I would follow AAM’s advice about telling them no and if they push, ask for payment. If they are asking you to do work for them then they should be paying you.

  25. De Minimis*

    I think they are just asking the OP to do [or in some cases, re-do] the trainings in order for them to document that the training took place. We’re speculating that the employer is back-dating since the OP no longer works there.

    The Joint Commission is usually really picky about all employees being aware of safety procedures so I guess that’s what a lot of it is about. It just seems strange to me though that they would be interested in the training records of past employees, which makes me believe they just aren’t keeping up with the records at all and are backdating. At my workplace it might not have been such an issue because we had training software that most likely tracked everything–also a lot of our training was usually done during new employee orientation.

    We mainly have a few key procedures that we want all employees to be able to recite to inspectors if they are quizzed–a lot of chain of command type information like “Who’s the Safety Officer,” etc.

  26. Brett*

    #3 I went to consult with some people who know how larceny cases work before posting this, and consider this a general workplace lesson.

    Technically what the boss did was not illegal if you take the basic premise that the boss never intended to keep the wallet. Larceny requires an intent to permanently deprive in the owner of their property.

    In practice, putting the wallet into her office would be enough to demonstrate intent to permanently deprive the employee of their wallet, and if the employee choose to press larceny charges, the boss would have a tough time at trial fighting that charge. Essentially, the prosecution has demonstrated their case by showing that the boss put the wallet into her office and did not immediately inform the employee of this. The boss would then have the burden to prove that their intent was always to return the wallet.

    The employee would be crazy to press criminal charges in this situation. But if they did, the boss could find themselves in real legal trouble.

    Lesson: Do NOT take or hide other people’s personal property in the workplace, even if you are the boss.

    1. fposte*

      There’s not a prosecutor in the country who’d bother with this if she got her wallet back immediately, though.

      That’s another problem with the “Is it legal?” question–for a lot of stuff it’s only determinable by the action of a court, and most of this will never go to court.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Come on. The boss would not find herself in real legal trouble. First of all, no prosecutor in the land would take this case. Second, even if they did, which they wouldn’t, the boss would explain her intent, and that would be that.

    3. Brett*

      That’s what I assumed, that giving the wallet back and explaining your intent it all it would take and the investigation would stop there. So I asked about it among a few sergeants and higher.
      Most likely it would cause an uncomfortable investigation and nothing more. But each one had stories of workplace cases of “I took their to keep it safe and then gave it back” that resulted in charges and even convictions.

      The whole problem is that someone who does steal from a co-worker and gets caught in any way is going to say something just like that to cover it up. It comes down to credibility and really the question of whether or not the actions of the co-worker/employee/boss are reasonable for the workplace. (Also, we have no idea from the letter how long the boss kept the wallet. 5 minutes would seem reasonable and benign. Overnight or more much less so.)

      I even think we have a boss bias here, or even a workplace environment bias. If this has been a co-worker or subordinate instead who took the wallet and phone in this manner, would you as readily accept the “I was teaching you a lesson” explanation? What if the wallet was stored in a company car or locker instead of in an office?

      1. Brett*

        My use of brackets caused problems :)
        Should read:
        stories of workplace cases of “I took their wallet/purse/phone/jewelry to keep it safe and then gave it back”

      2. fposte*

        I’m betting the cases you knew about are ones where the boss didn’t immediately initiate a return of the item herself, though. I can’t imagine a police force with any actual work to be done that would spend time on “I thought my wallet was stolen this morning but then my boss just gave it back to me after taking it in the office for safe-keeping.”

        If there’s anything missing from the wallet, that’s another matter, but I’m pretty sure the OP would have mentioned it.

        And yes, I’d say the same if it were a co-worker or subordinate. If I leave my wallet out in a weird place, I’d *expect* my staff to take in to their desk for safekeeping. Why on earth would I not?

    4. Colette*

      Essentially, the prosecution has demonstrated their case by showing that the boss put the wallet into her office and did not immediately inform the employee of this.

      But we don’t know that.

      Maybe the boss tried to inform her, but she didn’t get the message. Maybe the boss couldn’t find her – we know she wasn’t where her wallet was, but we don’t know where she was. Maybe the boss didn’t even know it was her wallet and was trying to figure out who it belonged to.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Or maybe we could assume the OP is telling the truth and is not making up ridiculous and unfounded stories?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          That seems pretty harsh. It’s a very short letter that many people have mentioned left them confused. Moreover, Colette was responding to a specific statement (“the boss put the wallet into her office and did not immediately inform the employee of this”) which in fact was not in the letter.

  27. Del*

    #3 – Kind of raises an interesting thought (which I imagine is what you were driving at with the “is it legal” question, yes?) about at what point something constitutes theft. Taking what doesn’t belong to you and relocating it as you please is a pretty hinky thing to do, even if it’s for good intentions.

    Obviously, I don’t think this case fell over that line — it was in her office, “her space” and easily available to her. Although not telling her immediately and upfront that this was done is kind of weird and feels like a mind game, imo. “I’m going to move your stuff behind your back and wait for you to notice.” But it does make me ponder exactly where the line falls with regard to accessibility and the knowledge of the owner.

    1. Del*

      Unless that “her” was the boss’s office, not the employee’s. In which case the line gets a lot foggier and the situation gets really uncomfortable all around. I may have misread.

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        You know what – if I find something valuable lying around totally unattended, whether I know who it belongs to or not, I’m either going to hang onto it myself or hand it off to a lost-and-found type situation where I know it will be safe. I’m not going to move it from one unattended location to another. This applies to wallets, phones, jewelry, and children.

        1. Lynn Whitehat*

          You make sure they get it back, right? Either by leaving a note or finding the person or taking it to lost-and-found (which I saw that you did mention). Taking it yourself is only half the battle; it’s only helpful if you reunite it with the owner.

    2. LBK*

      Although we don’t know that the boss did hide it or pretend she didn’t know where it was…it could’ve been that she was in meetings for 2 hours after she took it and didn’t see the employee until after she had started freaking out that it was missing. I think we need more context and detail before we can assume the boss was being passive aggressive or malicious.

      1. Colette*

        It could even be that she left a message (phone or email) for the employee and the employee didn’t get it because she was looking for her wallet.

        I’d be more comfortable with my boss taking my wallet into her office until she could give it to me personally than her leaving it on my empty desk.

        1. Laufey*

          Especially if the point of taking it was concern about it being left unsupervised in a (more) public space

  28. Tinker*

    The “is it legal” thing makes me sad. Not always, but often enough, it seems like the person is writing from the perspective that there isn’t anything short of a higher authority that will get whatever usually minor but distinct outrage to be stopped, or apologized for, or not to happen again, or whatever.

    That in most cases the answer is “yep!” and usually the cases where it’s not don’t involve interpersonal outrages adds to the overall unfortunate impression.

    It seems sometimes like the mindset that causes this question to be asked indicates that something somewhere has gone decidedly wrong.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      So many people though think that fair = legal. Or it should.

      Really the best thing most of us can do for ourselves is really accept that life isn’t fair. Given that it’s not, how do you cope? Because that’s really what this is about – people aren’t going to treat you the way you want to be treated. Unfair things will happen. Dishonest, unethical, terrible things will happen and they’re all legal. Now how do you deal?

      1. Colette*

        And I think a lot of times people focus on the things that are unfair to them and not the ways they benefit from unfairness, instead of realizing that kind of thing balances out over time.

        (I’m not talking about big unfair things like racial bias, but small things like “who got the parking spot closest to the door”.)

  29. Student*

    #1 – Someone in the training department doesn’t realize that you quit. That’s the only logical explanation I can come up with. The training system probably has an employee tracking system that is entirely separate from payroll / HR, and HR didn’t tell them when you left (or no one processed the info, etc.). Just tell them that you don’t work there any more, haven’t worked there for months, and won’t be doing training for them.

    1. De Minimis*

      I’d think that if it were just one request, but this is ongoing.

      In a lot of places, HR is the one that coordinates this type of training and is in charge of tracking who has received it and when.

  30. Liz*

    I was question #2, and I actually run a team of layout designers, not writers! But thanks, I’ll keep that advice in mind. I was planning on reiterating norms next semester, as others on the team have gotten sloppy with deadlines.

  31. KrisL*

    I love the 5 answers to 5 questions. Have you thought about breaking them up so that each comments thread is about only that 1 question?

    I enjoy reading the comments, but sometimes I get a little burned out by reading the comments on 1 question/answer, and it would be nice to be able to just go to the next set of comments instead of paging through.

Comments are closed.