my coworker insulted me in an email, sharing a bedroom with coworkers, and more

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

1. Was my coworker’s email meant to be an insult?

I am a fairly young mid-twenties communications person who writes many press releases for my organization and partner organizations. I’m used to getting feedback, criticism, and even heavy editing on the pieces I write for public distribution.

However, last week a man I work with occasionally added the following line to a pretty standard email with feedback on an article I’d written: “I hope this has been a humbling experience for you.”

I wasn’t sure what to make of it, as all of the changes and corrections to the piece were pretty typical and not huge glaring problems with my writing. I have never met him in person and I have only exchanged brief emails with him. After reading his email, I reviewed all of my messages to the team to see if I had given off the impression that I needed to be “humbled”…I didn’t think so, mostly I just attached the article and asked for feedback and corrections from the group.

I always explicitly ask for and appreciate constructive feedback on my work. Was his comment just meant to be condescending? Was he just trying to reinforce the age/experience dynamic? Should I have been offended? Should I write it off and forget it? Ask him if I offended him in some way or came off as arrogant and in need of humble pie?

That’s such an obnoxious thing to say that it’s hard to think it could really be about you at all — it’s got to be about him. I’d write it off to him being a blowhard or a jerk. If, by some small chance, he’s known in your office as a kind and polite person (which I highly doubt is the case), you could certainly follow up with him and say something like, “I wasn’t sure what you meant the other day when you said that you hoped your edits were humbling for me.” But it’s far more likely that he’s just a pompous jackass and his email reflects that.

2. I don’t want to share a bedroom with male coworkers

I work for an energy drinks company and we regularly do overnight stays in hotels, or if we’re in one place for a long time, we rent a house. We are usually expected to share a room with a workmate of our own gender, which is fine. But at an upcoming work trip, I am being asked to share a room with multiple men. Being female and having the possibility of my period, I’m obviously not happy about this. Is there a UK law regarding this? Am I within my rights to demand my own room or a room with just women?

I’m in the U.S. and don’t know what UK laws are (but would be surprised if there were a law about something like this). But regardless of the law, it’s perfectly reasonable to say, “I’m not comfortable sharing a bedroom with men. I’ll need a different room and would be happy to share with another woman.”

3. Am I obligated to apply to this job?

A former contractor at my company has taken a regular position at another company in the same general field, a place where we have various ties / former companies in common—there is a lot of flow, over time, in this industry, and personal relationships can be very important. This colleague and I worked well together and attained friendly relations via telephone (we are both remote workers), and she is aware of a recent change in my department that makes the future of my own position somewhat uncertain (this is a whole other situation, but I’m dealing with it using some of your posted advice!). She knows that I am not actively seeking a new job, but could be open to new, better opportunities and may in fact need to job-search sometime in the not-too-distant future.

Last week my colleague phoned me and asked for me to email her a copy of my C.V., because her company was “interested.” I did so, thinking that this was an informal, let’s-get-acquainted situation, but then she emailed me, saying that I needed to file an online application with the company “to move things along.” The trouble is, I do not want to officially apply for a job right now—there are none in my area posted on their website, and I had thought that her request for my C.V. meant that they might be considering me in a general, strategic way (I am senior in my job function and am not looking for a generic position). Because alternate jobs in my industry are, by definition, jobs with competing companies, being “out” as a job searcher is a pretty major step. I like my current job very much, aside from the uncertain future, and definitely don’t want to risk it, except for a very clear and attractive prospect.

I don’t want to insult my former colleague or burn any bridges, but I guess I misinterpreted the meaning of “send us your C.V.”—am I now obligated to file a full application with this company? What is the professional etiquette for this situation?

You’re definitely not obligated to apply. I’d say something like this to your colleague: “I’d want to learn more about what role you had in mind before formally applying. I’m not actively looking and am happy at (current company), but I’m open to talking if there’s a good fit. Is there a good time for us to jump on the phone so I can learn more about what you were thinking of?”

4. My company wants to make me non-exempt, but I think they’re wrong

I have been at my job for ten years now. With the new minimum wage, my company has decided that I should be non-exempt instead of exempt, which I have been since day one. They say it’s because I don’t hire or fire, which is a condition of being exempt. But when I did some research, there is a lot more language attached which I feel clearly puts me at exempt under the administrative exemption, which they had not even studied. Then they say, “Well, you create, manage, and advise on budgets but you are not responsible for the budgets to balance.” Then I say, “Well, my position requires my discretion, expertise, and I must ensure contract compliance a majority part of my time.” Under these facts would you consider my position exempt?

I have no way of telling from this whether your position should be exempt or not — but it’s really up to your company if they want to treat you as non-exempt. They can’t treat you as exempt when your position meets the requirements for a non-exempt one — but they can absolutely do the reverse and treat you as non-exempt. Non-exempt means that you’re not exempt from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, and that you’re therefore required to be paid overtime (time and a half) for all hours worked over 40 in a given week. That’s generally a good thing, not a bad one. If they want to make you eligible for overtime, why not embrace it?

The downside, of course, is that you could be paid less in weeks where you work less (although many companies won’t do that, particularly in professional environments). But ultimately, if your company wants to treat you as non-exempt, they can do that (as long as they’re consistent about it and don’t change it from one pay period to the next as it suits them).

5. Applications want my supervisors’ titles, but they didn’t have titles

It seems that in addition to a resume, many places are requiring an online application, where a common fill-in-the-blank is “supervisor’s title.” But what do you put if you’ve worked in private residences as a domestic worker, personal assistant, etc., and your boss has no title? Is it a big deal to leave this section blank?

No, it’s totally fine to leave it blank. If it won’t let you, you could put Owner or Manager (and they were a manager in respect to you, so it’s not totally inaccurate), but it’s not a big deal either way.

{ 280 comments… read them below }

  1. Zanah

    #1 – is there any possibility that this person is doing a particularly unfortunate iteration of misusing a word or mistaking the meaning of a word? Or even has English as his second language? He may be meaning something like “I hope you have been able to learn of some ways you could generally improve, from my feedback” , and just saying it… wrong.

    That such a really obnoxious and confrontational thing to say, especially out of the blue, that it might be reasonable to consider this as a possibility.

    1. Geegee

      This was my thought as well. That’s such a weird and obnoxious statement that you have to wonder whether this person really just misused the word. My first thought was maybe this person speaks English as a second language and doesn’t realize how weird this sounds. But then again this is someone who is supposed to be editing pieces to be published publicly. I would think this person would have a firm grasp of the English language and its nuances.

      1. Liane

        “firm grasp of the English language” to work in a field involving writing and editing? You might be surprised.
        Interesting fact: medical transcription is a field that is sometimes outsourced to other countries. As an editor, I had to provide lists of errors I corrected in transcriptions to a foreign company we subcontracted work to.
        But I *never* said anything in those emails or IMs about hoping they were humbled or even had learned from them (as another poster suggested was meant). I never even thought about writing something like that. Because it would have been jerky.

      2. fposte

        I don’t think she’s sending it to communication people, though–I think she’s sending it to people whose message her communications are supposed to be reflecting.

        The fact that this has been on more than one message actually takes some of the sting out of it for me. Even if it’s not a malapropism, it seems like it’s a rote thing for him rather than a personal slam.

        1. KerryOwl

          I didn’t get the impression that he had said the “humbled” thing more than once, just that was added to an otherwise standard email response.

          1. fposte

            Ah, I read it as “occasionally added,” but I think you’re right, it’s “work with occasionally.”

      3. Another J

        On a local radio show yesterday, the host interviewed an author who writes about the English language and they both agreed that most people do not know what the word humble means. Think of how many times you have heard someone accept an award and say that they are humbled by it when you know they mean honored. The show is at this link if anyone would like to listen and the comments about the word humble are towards the end of the podcast http://www.kera.org/2014/07/02/legal-writing-101/

        1. Natalie Anne Lanoville

          People who use the word ‘humbled’ in that context don’t always mean ‘honoured’. Sometimes they mean ‘humbled by the quality of past winners’ or ‘humbled by the stature of the selection committee’.

    2. Dani S

      Or possibly a bad auto correct from an email sent by phone? Although I tried finding the auto corrects for “humbling” on my phone, and “numbing” and ” hiking” don’t quite fit the context :)

        1. Boats

          Crow, :) . OP, I agree with what others have already said- that his comment reflects poorly on him, not on you. I’m sorry you have to deal with it.

      1. J-nonymous

        This is exactly what I thought too, except maybe the intent was “I hope this *hasn’t* been a humbling experience…”

        I’ve seen plenty of emails go out (whether a phone’s autocorrect was involved or not) where negatives got typed as affirmatives and vice versa.

        If the guy has a reputation for being a jackass, then take his email as proof of the same. If he doesn’t, it’s an opportunity to get feedback (if not from him, from others) about whether or not you’re coming off as you intend to in your interactions with others.

      2. EvilQueenRegina

        I wondered about an autocorrect error as well but wasn’t sure what word he was likely to have meant.

    3. Turtle Candle

      I wondered this too. It’s certainly possible that the person is just a jerk (and if they seem jerkish in other ways, then yeah, that’s likely) but if they’re someone who’s usually polite/cordial and with whom you usually have a good relationship, I’d wonder if it was a brain-o and they meant another word entirely. (The AAM advice is still good even so–if they meant to type something else it would certainly clear that up–but “maybe it was just a brain-to-fingers goof?” was the most generous plausible interpretation I could think of for something like this.)

      1. Artemesia

        “Helpful’ instead of ‘humbling’ perhaps? This is so insulting and jerky that it is hard to imagine someone writing it unless the OP frequently sends ungrammatical or awkward written or factually incorrect copy to be corrected. It would still be rude of course but one can imagine the exasperation of someone constantly sent poorly written material by the writer. But baring this I would think that they intended to say ‘I hope this was helpful’ rather than ‘I hope this was humbling’.

        1. Turtle Candle

          Yes, or even something completely else. (I say this as someone who once wrote that our software product facilitated drowning, instead of facilitated versioning–not because I secretly thought our software was homicidal but because I was listening to NPR and a story about someone being drowned had come on, and the word went through my ears to my fingers without engaging my brain. Fortunately, I caught it before anyone else saw it!)

          1. C Average

            This made me laugh. I’ve definitely had background things bleed into my work.

            Once, in junior high, I was writing a report about Halley’s Comet during English class and kind of half-listening to the teacher as he lectured about commas. Of course I wound up writing something about Halley’s Comma. The report was for the same class, so the teacher shared my mistake and the whole class had a laugh at my expense.

    4. Monodon monoceros

      A friend of mine once got a manuscript back from a co-author with the note “I’m sorry this took so long but it was such a chore to read” Unfortunately the coauthor meant it the way it sounds.

      1. Taz

        I think this guy means it too — we’re talking about a field of editing involving press releases and news-type articles — but that he’s projecting (unless it really is a strange autocorrect, but I doubt it). He’s exposing his own insecurities when he meant to come off tough and make the OP feel insecure.

        1. Bend & Snap

          This is my field and people can be really, unnecessarily harsh when giving feedback on written content. And it’s often unhelpful–“this makes no sense, rewrite.” Ummm thanks for all the detail.

          1. A.

            I mean, that’s a jerky way to put it, but if something truly makes no sense, it might be difficult to give more detail than that.

            When I come across nonsensical sentences, I usually note that something seems to be missing or explain why it might be otherwise clunky. But if something is truly out there and seemingly has no place in the larger piece (which happens more than you’d think)? I pretty much HAVE to say, “I’m not sure what this sentence means, please clarify or rewrite.”

    5. Lyssa

      Or maybe he meant it as a joke, but really fouled up the delivery. I can imagine someone saying that in a lighthearted sarcastic way and it not being rude, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to email well.

      1. BadPlanning

        I was thinking the same thing. Like he thought he had to make a lot of corrections and felt bad and tried to make a joke about it. But it totally flops in an email.

        Or he could just be a jerk.

      2. Gloria

        Yeah, I thought maybe because there weren’t lots of changes, he was trying to compliment the writer. But I admit that’s a stretch …

    6. Elaine

      I was thinking the same thing on #1. Maybe something along the lines of those people who think they are polite when the message on their voice mail indicates “I will return your call at my earliest convenience” (implying that they won’t return your call if it isn’t convenient to them — which is really rude).

        1. L McD

          This is so interesting, I never would have thought that phrase was rude. I see what you’re saying, but I also think it probably ties into different interpretations of what “convenient” means. In that context, I’ve always understood it as “I will return your call as soon as I can.” But it sounds like, to some people, it comes across as “I will return your call as soon as I feel like it.”

          I do think it’s pretty standard business-speak though, so wouldn’t read anything into it either way.

          1. LD

            I agree. I think you can think about “convenience” as “opportunity”, so at the first chance I get, I’ll return your call. It’s conventional speech and not an insult.

        2. azvlr

          Or what about voice mail that says, “You’ve reached Bob.” Um, NO I did not reach you, Bob. I reached your voice mail. The irony of that statement never ceases to annoy me.

      1. Artemesia

        It isn’t rude, it is simply a standard pro forma response. Do you also get upset that when they say ‘how are you’, they don’t want to hear about your digestive tract?

        1. Mike B.

          It’s a pro forma response when inverted, ie, “Please call me at *your* earliest convenience.” The phrase is used to soften the request. But when you’re telling someone else that *you* will call, they don’t want to hear about your convenience, they want to hear that you’ll get back to them as soon as you can.

          It’s not generally meant to be rude when used this way, of course; it’s just an ill-advised attempt to speak formally.

          1. fposte

            Yes, I think it’s on a par with “No problem” as a business response to a thank you. Only us overthinkers raise an eyebrow :-).

            1. pizzagrl

              What about “no problem” is eyebrow raising? Genuinely curious because I say it frequently with no malintent.

              1. Ellie H

                People use it to mean “You’re welcome” but it literally means “It’s not a problem for me to do that” which could imply that you wouldn’t have done it if it had been a problem, or that there was some expectation it could have been a problem, etc. I’m sure other people can suggest more nuances.

              2. AML

                For some, the implication is that whatever they were asking for was a problem, unreasonable, etc. As an example, if a colleague was responsible for making travel arrangements for me and I ask them to book a flight and they say “no problem,” the implication is that I thought my request was a challenge or a problem, when really it’s just a standard request.

                It doesn’t bother me personally whatsoever, but I know it rankles some.

                1. Cassie

                  I used to sometimes reply “no problem” but then I read somewhere about why it’s not really the correct response to “thank you” and I’ve stopped doing it. It actually kind of annoys me now when I hear it. I have one coworker who uses it ALL THE TIME.

        2. Lily in NYC

          That’s why it’s called a pet peeve! No one said it was upsetting, more like it’s one of those things that just bugs you even though you know the intention wasn’t meant the way it sounds.

      2. Miss Betty

        How is that rude? Most people do return calls at their own convenience and most people understand that. Aren’t we supposed to acknowledge it? Does it make a difference to you if the message says, “…as soon as I am able”? It’s the same thing, just different wording.

    7. alma

      I think clumsy phrasing is a possibility, but I will also say this. I work in a scientific support field and have correspondence with many, many people whose first language is not English. I can’t speak for the OP, but 99% of the time I find it pretty easy to tell when someone has phrased something poorly due to a language barrier, vs. when they are just being a jerk.

    8. Crow T. Robot

      Man, I would love for the OP to come into the comments and give us some insight into this guy.

    9. fiat lux

      The sentence is constructed, especially the phrase “humbling experience”, makes me think it’s *very* unlikely that it’s misuse, especially due to a language barrier. I could see someone with a language barrier saying “I hope this has been humbling for you”, mistaking the meaning of “humbling”. But I find it unlikely that an individual with a language barrier would use the phrase “humbling experience”.

    10. neverjaunty

      I admit I don’t understand the rush to find excuses, however implausible, for this guy. If his email was overall awkwardly phrased, maybe he’s not good with English, but the sentence OP posted seems pretty freaking clear.

      1. Turtle Candle

        To me it’s not so much that I want to excuse the guy as a way of making it easier to ask the “hey, what did you mean by that?” question in a neutral tone. If he’s generally a jerk, then yeah, no harm done in assuming this is yet another example of jerkitude. But if it’s someone who’s not generally a jerk, and you want to figure out wtf is up with it, it’s easier if you don’t go in with your dukes already up–and it’s easier to do that if there’s some way that you can think ‘maybe this was a mistake, not malice.’

        I’m not discounting the possibility that this person is just rude. But if (and only if) this seems out of character, it’s worth being open to the possibility that it was a goof.

      2. KrisL

        Well, either he’s a jerk, or something else is going on. We’re just trying to figure out all the something else options.

        Besides, I’ve found that it is helpful in life to try not to assume someone’s a jerk. Although a few people are, of course.

    11. Kristine

      I was thinking either this or adding the text to the wrong email. If he was was leaving feedback for multiple documents, he may have meant that for someone else and then accidentally wrote that in the wrong email. If there wasn’t a significant amount of additional editing, it just doesn’t make sense unless he’s just a miserable person (which is entirely possible).

    12. KrisL

      I agree that this is such an obnoxious thing to say, I hope the person just didn’t realize exactly what he was saying.

  2. Befuddled Squirrel

    #1 – I had a similar co-worker! He would make bizarre snide remarks out of nowhere and I could never tell if he was giving me a hard time in a friendly way or trying to insult me or blowing off steam because he didn’t like his job.

    I wouldn’t let it get to you. Some people are just weird.

    1. fiat lux

      Your comment made me think – maybe #1 meant it as a sarcastic joke? Hard to tell without knowing the individual.

  3. Geegee

    I keep wondering if Op#4 just wants bragging rights? I can’t imagine why anyone would try to fight this. Maybe he just doesn’t realize that he’s eligible for overtime? I know of many composites who will be more than happy to effectively pay you below minimum wage for working 12 hour days.

    1. Sara M

      I think OP 4 has confused the implications of exempt versus non-exempt. You _want_ to be non-exempt in almost all cases.

      1. Jessa

        Not necessarily. If you work a job where the hours vary, you would want stable pay as opposed to OT, especially if you don’t usually work OT, but sometimes work part days to get the work done. If you’ve always been allowed for instance to go to the doctor, or whatever, on your work day as long as the work got done, you would not want to lose 2 hours of pay that day by suddenly being reclassified.

        1. Judy

          Everywhere I have worked, the non-exempt can make up the time within a week for something like a doctor’s appointment.

          And everywhere I have worked, the expectation for exempt time has been 40 hours at a minimum. If you have a doctor’s appointment, the expectation is for you to make up the time within that week, also.

          1. Monodon monoceros

            The only time I’ve seen the 40 hrs/week not really apply is where I might have worked 60 hrs one week, then might leave early or come in late a couple of days the next week, dropping me to below 40hrs.

          2. LAI

            Yes, but exempt people don’t have to “make up” the hours they miss for a doctor’s appointment. If I miss a half-day of work, I just continue with my schedule as normal and still get my regular paycheck. I don’t have to worry about counting my hours at all since it evens out to more than 40 hours per week throughout the year. I wouldn’t like to start tracking my hours on a weekly basis, even in exchange for paid overtime.

            1. Aimee

              Exactly. My company is really flexible, and as an exempt employee, as long as my work is getting done, I’m good to arrange my own schedule. It would be really tough for me to go back to having to track hours.

              At this point in my career, I’ve reached a level of compensation where my #1 priority in a job is that flexibility, so I would not be happy if I had to go back to being non-exempt.

            2. Judy

              Exempt people don’t have to make up the time “by law” but every company I’ve been at, the time needs to be made up within the week, or take PTO.

              I’m curious about those mythical companies where parents can run to the school to see a play, and are not expected to still have worked 40 hours that week. In my experience, if I’m chaperoning a field trip or anything, I’ve still got to put in my 45-ish hours, or take a partial day of vacation. (Just last fall I chaperoned a field trip one week, but it happened to be the week of a funeral of a dear friend’s mother. There was no way I could work extra time, so I took 4 hours of PTO, so I could leave on time and do the field trip.)

              1. Vicki

                Judy – Every company I have worked at has been one of those “mythical companies”. (All Tech or Scientific companies in the SF Bay Area. 7 companies, full-time salaried exempt, since 1984)

        2. Exempt

          The way the company’s PTO is setup I would not lose pay in either case. However, under the non-exempt I would have to have prior approval to leave, when under the exempt if my Dr’s office called and said they have an opening due to a cancellation I could definitely take it. To me it’s more about how the actual position would change.

      2. HM in Atlanta

        This is definitely a YMMV, depending on company culture and benefits offered to exempt vs non-exempt employees. For me, the overtime offers me much less than all the other benefits from being in an exempt role.

        1. AdminAnon

          +1

          I am non-exempt, which means I accrue vacation/sick time much more slowly than my exempt co-workers. It also means that, as the only non-exempt staff member in my office, I wind up with the short end of the stick in a lot of situations (i.e. stuck in the office while everyone else goes out for an extended lunch or to an event hosted by a partner agency or–like today–when everyone else is heading out for the holiday after lunch). Mostly it’s not too bad, but in some situations it can really grind my gears (for instance, the holiday lunch that was supposed to be a treat but ultimately ended up with me working until 9pm on New Year’s Eve to make up the hours I had missed because it was the end of the pay period). If there were other non-exempt folks I would probably feel better about this situation–and 98% of the time it doesn’t bother me anyway–but today is one of the days when being non-exempt seems quite unfortunate. Plus, my company HATES overtime and actively discourages it, so I don’t even get that benefit except maybe the week of our annual conference.

          Wow. Apparently that was more of a hot button issue today than I realized!

          1. CAA

            Why are you accruing vacation/sick time more slowly? Is it because your company has different benefit plans for exempt and non-exempt workers, or because you have to use your accrued time to cover doctors appointments, long lunches, etc, while exempt people do not?

            Are the exempt employees still there working late on days when you leave after your 8 hours are up?

            1. AdminAnon

              It’s just different benefit plans. Non-exempt employees accrue time based on hours worked, while exempt employees have a slightly different system (which, admittedly, I am not 100% clear on since it does not apply to me). Basically what it boils down to is that I accrue approximately 1 day each of sick/vacation time per month, whereas my exempt colleagues earn 2.5-3 days of each per month. It’s also true that I have to use sick time for doctors appointments, etc, while the exempt folks have the flexibility to come in late/leave early/duck out for an hour or two (which basically just means that I don’t go to the doctor unless I’m already out sick, but that’s a personal choice on my part).

              Nope–typically exempt employees show up after I do and leave while I am still here. That’s just because they count their lunches as part of the work day (i.e. they work 9-5 with an hour lunch) whereas I have to clock out for my lunch and still get in a full 8 hours of paid time. Occasionally someone will work over 40 hours or take something home, but that is rare and only when we are on a tight deadline for something like a conference or other event.

              Honestly, this stuff does not bother me the majority of the time, but when I really sit down and think about it or when it comes time for the holidays, it can get to me. But hey–when I’m alone in the office starting in an hour or so, I can blast my music and do whatever I need to without any interruptions, which will be nice :)

              1. Lily in NYC

                Wow, this sucks. I am non-exempt but am treated exactly the same except for making overtime.

              2. meg

                This sounds like it has to do with your overall compensation package, more than with exempt/non-exempt status.

              3. Ilf

                3 days each per month would mean 36+36 per year. That’s over 14 weeks! I have a hard time believing that is accurate. I had to calculate several times to make sure I’m not making some mistake. To me even 1 vacation +1 sick seems quite generous as a start. Many (most?) companies give 10 vacation days and 5-6 sick/personal as a start, and sick/ personal time does not increase with seniority.

                1. AdminAnon

                  You’re right! I just clarified with my (exempt) co-worker and she tells me it’s 2 vacation + 1 sick day per month, for a total of 3 days. So really only one extra day per month, which isn’t bad. Thanks for pointing that out :)

                2. anonness

                  We get 36 days of PTO a year starting off and go up to 39, while non-exempt only get 26 off the bat and have to work longer to get up to 36. I think hospitals are more generous.

          2. Exempt

            Wow is right Admin Anon I didn’t think it would bother me as much either until the conversation with HR actually took place. I think the culture will definitely change all because the Supervisor will want to avoid approving OT.

            1. Meg Murry

              My sister was recently put in this position when her company switched her from non-exempt to exempt – made even worse by the fact that its a commissioned position too. She has to clock in and out (via her computer), and the computer automatically takes off an hour for her lunch if she doesn’t clock in/out for it, and her boss doesn’t really want to approve overtime. Since its a commission/sales position, if she has potential clients that want to meet with her on a Saturday or Sunday she has to get permission from her boss to work the overtime or she has to pass it to whoever is scheduled for Saturday or Sunday – and if that person “closes the deal” they get the bulk of the commission. She also used to be able to work Saturday or Sunday and then take the next Monday off, but now she has to stay within 40 hours for her week which means taking the Monday off BEFORE she works the weekend.
              Its a stupid system at a big company that is trying to use a “one-size-fits-all” system rather than deal with the fact that the model that works for their other jobs (probably 95% of the employees) doesn’t work for hers – and its the final straw that is making her leave.

              On the other hand, at my last job, technicians were considered non-exempt, while most everyone else was considered exempt. There were no time cards – the admins just entered everything into the computer. But that meant that technicians who worked weekends got overtime for it, which was a nice perk for them.

              1. Red Librarian

                Wait, I’m confused. Unless I’m reading it wrong it sounds like your sister is *now* exempt, which means she doesn’t get overtime and should be able to work Saturdays and Sundays without needing approval.

                1. Meg Murry

                  Oops, I switched them I think. She was paid salary, now hourly. I can never keep straight which I mean.
                  Same with the technicians – they were hourly but it was really more like salary+overtime, everyone else was salary.

              2. Judy

                It sounds like in your sister’s case, the company would do well to count a workweek from Wednesday midnight, which would accomplish the same thing.

        2. Exempt

          Yes that is my exact fear. The things that I appreciate the most about my job is what with time will slowly fade out. Racing against the clock definitely makes for a different environment.

          1. MJ

            I am with you on this one. As a non-exempt employee, I always felt I had to account for every minute. As an exempt employee, I can take my time to think about things, because it does not matter if I go over 40 hours, which I routinely do. It’s about pacing.

            Your company may be concerned about audits and thus are being very careful about how they classify staff. Also, there is legislation coming this fall which may change the exempt minimum to $40,000. If you are under that, they may feel they have to reclassify you.

          2. polabear

            For the past two years, I’ve been an IT worker classified as salaried, non-exempt. It was totally weird at first, and there are times when its really annoying that my manager is after me at 5pm asking why I’m still there. But, it leads to a conversation where we can decide what has to be done, what can be pushed to someone else, and then act accordingly.

            However, one thing it does do is that it makes management very aware of how much everyone is working, and it gives us IT folks work/life balance. If I’m working 50 hours a week, its because I have to in order to get a project done, and my boss has to explain to his boss why he’s racking up OT. But on weeks where things are calmer, there is no pressure to still work 50 hours, which I have felt at a lot of companies.

            Also, I’ve found that the IT organization as a whole is much more likely to just say no to requests, because of resource constraints. Which makes all of our lives easier. And its easier for me to say no, because I can say “well, I can do it by such and such, but I’ll need to work this much OT, is that okay?” The manager actually saying yes to that has happened twice in two years – they typically push back on the requester.

        3. Pennalynn Lott

          I have also found that being non-exempt turned my managers into clock-watchers. In my exempt jobs, they only cared about my end product (sales), but in a non-exempt environment it suddenly became a Serious Thing if I got to the office 5-10 minutes late. And then breaks and lunches are tracked down to the last little minute. Ugh. I just Do Not Do Well with that much oversight and micromanagement.

          I also Do Not Do Well with plodding along at a steady level for eight hours every day. I’ll have a day where I accomplish more in six hours than most of my coworkers do in a week, and then I’ll have a day where it seems I can’t put two coherent thoughts together. I don’t need a manager breathing down my neck, pointing out how they are *paying for my time* and apparently I look like I’m not doing anything.

          I also don’t want my boss getting mad if I have a burst of creative energy at 8:00pm when I’m home and put the finishing touches on a presentation. Because, OMG, then I have to track and report that time, and they want to know why I can’t have those creative / productive bursts at work and on a schedule. How utterly annoying.

          Just let me work 60-70 hours during the weeks that are needed, and 30-40 a few other weeks, and get mad at me only if the quality and quantity of my work aren’t up to par. . . not if my rear isn’t in the office chair for *precisely* 40 hours (and not a minute over!) each week.

          1. AdminAnon

            Completely unrelated, but I LOVE your username!!

            And back to the topic, I 100% agree with you. I work the same way and it drives me crazy when I am forced to stop in the middle of a productive streak just because the clock says so…or when I am forced to kill time for 30-40 minutes because I have reached a point where I need responses from other people in order to move forward.

      3. BRR

        I have two (minor) reasons for enjoying being exempt: I like not having to take a full hour for lunch sometimes. When I was non-exempt sometimes I would just sit their playing on my phone because I wasn’t allowed to take a short lunch and leave early. At my current job, we don’t have anywhere else to eat besides our desks. I go out sometimes but it’s not a possibility to either eat out or run errands every day during lunch. So this way I’m not sitting at my desk doing nothing for 20 minutes.

        I also like being able to leave my house early to be able to account for fluctuations in traffic. At my old job I had to leave early and sit in my car. Had to start at 9.

        I know I am fortunate as my director is very good about not working 80 hour weeks.

        1. BRR

          Oh also sometimes people have expectations for their work output and it can’t be done in a standard work week.

        2. Mike C.

          That’s not a function of being exempt or not, it’s a function of internal company policy.

          1. BRR

            That’s a good point. I still think being non-exempt is a factor but company policy definitely also comes into play.

          2. CTO

            Exactly. At my husband’s workplace (Fortune 50) there are huge, huge differences in benefits and social status for exempts and nonexempts. It’s a bizarre, poorly created company caste system. It damages morale so severely that there’s a non-exempt “support group.” It was very difficult for my husband to get promoted; he lost out on multiple promotions solely because he was non-exempt and trying to move into exempt jobs.

            If OP’s workplace has any kind of system like that, I can see why being reclassified would be a big loss. Yes, in the legal sense the two categories are just about hours and overtime, but there might be other consequences attached at her workplace.

            1. Joey

              That’s not necessarily a ding on the differences between exempt and non, that’s more of a poor career path for non exempts. Generally exempt folks are of greater value to the organization so better benefits and perks makes sense don’t they? It just feels like the differences are bad because employees don’t see a path to get them.

            2. Exempt

              I believe it because we have an office where all the staff are non-exempt it’s a different culture. In our office people have made comments that it’s like a library where you can hear a pin drop. In the other office the culture is a lot more like kindergarten where everyone is watching what everyone is doing or not doing and ready to tell the teacher.

            3. plain jane

              I had a client where the stratification was reinforced in the colour of people’s ID cards, and another client where you could tell by the email address.

              These companies had dysfunctional and combative cultures in many other ways, so I think this was more a symptom than a cause.

              1. Glor

                Hm, see, now I’m wondering if it’s solely the exempt/non-exempt that was reflected on the ID cards, or something else as well. My fiance’s workplace, he’s technically a contract employee, but there are also permanent employees of the base company. So, fiance works for Staffing Company, contracted to Base Company, and there are perm Base Company employees. They have different badge colors for the different types.

                So, yeah, just curious really. But if it was only about the pay… that’s really, really stupid.

      4. Exempt

        I am not confused on the implications but I am confused as to how my company interprets the language of how exempt works and who falls under that criteria.

        1. fposte

          Is there somebody you could specifically ask that question? It seems reasonable under the circumstances.

      5. Vicki

        I have _never_ wanted to be non-exempt. I have explicitly requested to be declared non-exempt and have included data and references in the employment law to back that up.*

        *Good news for me, I’m a programmer and we have a special IT exception if the base hourly pay meets a minimum amount.

        Why don’t I want to be non-exempt? Because it’s too much work (for me) and most contracts state “no OT!”. I don’t want to lie on my time card. Some days are short. Some days are long. I promise it will all even out to 40 hours, but this week I may work 35 hours, next week 45.

        A friend of mine at LastJob was changed from exempt to non-exempt. He hated the extra work it caused him. Suddenly, even though he was salaried, he had to fill out a timecard every week “in case” there was OT. (He was also told that OT was essentially disallowed.) The time card was online, Windows-machine required (he didn;t use Windows, so he needed access to a Windows box every Friday.) He ended up in a situation where he’d need to say “Oops. 8 hours. Gotta go!” in the middle of a work-related conversation. Bad for him; bad for the team.

        No. There are many reasons why someone used to being exempt would not “embrace” being told they are now non-exempt.

    2. GrumpyBoss

      I’m not sure why non-exempt carries such a stigma to some but it really does. 7-8 years ago, I needed to move a few employees into non-exempt status due to some law in California that I never understand. The reaction was much the same as the OP. No amount of reasoning seemed to have any effect – you’ll still be making the same money, and probably more since you are now overtime eligible -or- you will probably be working less while making the same money since you have to have OT approved. In there case, there was a stigma that non-exempt meant a lower skilled, menial job.

      1. BRR

        I think it feels like a demotion. Even if it’s the same job and same responsibilities. Forgive me for citing this, on an early episode of real housewives of orange county, Vicki’s (?) children had gone to college or something so they wanted to downsize their house and she talked about how it felt like they had lost some of their success even though they were doing it for practical reasons.

      2. Loose Seal

        I’m not the OP but I have a reason I prefer to be exempt. I hate clocking in and out, which I understand can be required if one is exempt but, in my experience, not as often. Back when I had to clock in, I’d forget several times a week and have to get someone to override. It’s not that I’m generally forgetful but I’d come back from lunch, say, and be hit with several questions from the people I supervised. By the time I answered all of them, in my mind I was already working so I would forget to walk over to the punch clock. Then at the end of the day, I’d realize I had never clocked in. And that job (bank teller supervisor) never had overtime available and we got paid for 40 hours once we hit 37 for the week, which was very nice but it made clocking in/out a bit unnecessary because if you worked a regular schedule, you were certain to hit 37 hours.

        It didn’t feel as though it was stigmatized to clock in because everyone in that workplace except the bank president clocked in/out. But I’m sure I was not the only one who would forget because it didn’t seem important.

        1. the gold digger

          I am exempt – which means when I travel over Thanksgiving weekend, I just have to suck it up, and I still have to punch a timeclock. That is, just like the non-exempt people in my company, I have to log in to the timekeeping system and sign my timecard.

          The last time before this that I signed a timecard was when I was waiting tables in college – and I find it maddening that I have to do it now.

          But the point is that being exempt does not necessarily mean you are exempt from timecards.

          (And apparently, as I mentioned last week, the exempt people in my org are expected to take an hour of PTO to leave work at 4 instead of 5 even when we are regularly on the phone in the evening with the HQ in Asia.)

            1. Loose Seal

              Eh, that sentence was long and ramble-y so I can see how you missed it. I will forgive you for reading pre-coffee if you will forgive me for writing pre-coffee. =P

          1. Student

            Do you have to do charge codes, too?

            I’m exempt. I have to fill in a time card, and I have to fill it in with charge codes down to the 0.5 hour. Some weeks my work only covers 2 charge codes, but lots of weeks my work covers like 5-10 and I hate trying to keep track of them all fairly. And I hate trying to drag charge codes out of people for small requests.

        2. Leah

          I’ve worked in hourly jobs where there was not a requirement to physically clock in and out but simply fill out a timesheet. Those were generally when all the payroll was done in-house and a smaller company. I hated the systems that made you log into a lumbering old computer to punch in and out because, due to either the software or the ancient computer, the software didn’t always work and my manager sucked at putting in the corrections when needed. I had to hound her so some of my pay would be a paycheck late.

    3. Elysian

      It’s possible that if they’re moving the OP from a salary to hourly, that they’re changing her pay so she won’t make the same amount anymore. Or, like Jessa suggested, maybe the job has inconsistent hours and the OP like the consistency of a regular paycheck. That can be incredibly valuable by itself.

    4. Exempt

      There is nothing to brag about when no matter what, you have to get your job done. The benefit of being exempt is having the discretion to when you want to be there and when it’s ok for you to leave. It’s not beneficial when you are starting the job but very useful when you have been on the job ten years and know what times are crucial for you to be there and when not so much.

      1. Natalie

        Flexibility is an internal company issue, though, not anything to do with the law. I’m non-exempt and I’m given as much flexibility as exempt co-workers at a similar level to me. Is there something in particular that makes you think you’ll lose this option?

        1. Jason

          Whether an employee is truly “exempt” or “non-exempt” is a legal question: does the employee perform the correct duties, and get paid in the correct manner, to qualify for one of the minimum wage and overtime exemptions. If not, then the employee is non-exempt and must be paid overtime for any hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek. The tests to qualify for the exemptions are quite strict, and most (though not all) require that you be paid a fixed and guaranteed salary that is never reduced on account of the quantity or quality of your work.

          When a company determines that a certain position is “exempt” or “non-exempt,” what they are really doing is making a guess (hopefully a reasoned, informed, and educated one) about whether the particular position qualifies for one of the exemption. By law, all jobs are NON-exempt unless they fit one of the exemptions. If the company guesses wrong and classifies a non-exempt employee as exempt, then they can potentially be on the hook for huge amounts of unpaid overtime.

          For that reason, when a company announces that a particular job classification is changing from exempt to non-exempt status, it usually means either one of two things: (1) the nature of the duties or the structure of the compensation has changed and our lawyers have told us that the position no longer qualifies for one of the exemptions, or (2) we’ve screwed things up previously and treated non-exempt employees as exempt, and our lawyers have told us to stop doing that. If this is happening to you, and you don’t see any change in the nature of your duties and the manner in which you’re being paid (other than the fact that you’re now getting overtime), then your situation probably fits into #2. If you’ve been working gobs of what-would-be overtime during the past 2-3 years, had overtime been on the table, then you may want to talk to a lawyer to see if you’re owed anything.

          I am employment lawyer by trade and have practiced in this area for nearly 15 years. I see this stuff all of the time.

          1. fposte

            From comments downthread, this is in response to California’s new raised pay threshold for the professional exemption.

          2. A. D. Kay

            Your comment brings up a question. I was a contract technical editor for nearly three years. I was paid by the hour, but was not paid time-and-a-half for overtime. I was not performing any computer programming or testing duties. Would my contract job be considered exempt or non-exempt?

            1. fposte

              Assuming you were correctly categorized as a contractor, you’re neither–independent contractors aren’t covered by FLSA and aren’t required to receive OT.

              1. A. D. Kay

                I was not an independent contractor; I worked for an agency and got a W2 from them each year. Sorry that I was unclear.

                1. Meg

                  Sub-contractor, or C2C.

                  I’ve done a lot of C2c work where I received a paycheck from a contractor who bills the client for my work. In my most recent experience, I only got paid for hours worked, but no OT. If I was paid $50/hr, and I billed 45 hours that week, then I got paid $2250 for that week. If I only worked 30 hours, I got paid $1500 for that week.

                  In my contracts/working agreements, it would say something like I’m promising to deliver 40 hours of work per week, though you could work it out with your manager if you needed to make up time (mine was super lenient – just let him know when you’re going to be out and when you plan to make it up as a heads up for your timecard). Exempt, but paid hourly.

          3. Exempt

            Thank you Jason, I really appreciate your thoroughness. I am glad that I in fact do have the same interpretation that you have shared.

    5. Sadsack

      My understanding is that there are other benefits to being exempt, such as better severance packages, at least that was what i was told when i was moved to exempt. I haven’t really researched it; I was happy mostly because I now don’t have to clock in and out.

      1. Elysian

        All of that would depend on your employer. Legally (and semantically) the only distinction is whether or not you’re eligible for overtime.

        1. Judy

          The only distinction is whether they are required to pay overtime. I have been in (very few) circumstances where they have paid overtime to exempt workers.

    6. Arjay

      Being non-exempt can have its downside too. Having to punch a clock, attendance points, never being able to go to lunch for an hour and 15 minutes instead of just a sraight hour, not being dismissed a couple hours early on the day before a holiday (like today)…

      1. Judy

        I think most of these are functions of the company policy vs the law on exempt/non exempt.

        All 3 F50 companies I’ve worked at require the engineering staff to “log time” no matter if they are exempt or not. For exempt, it drove the pay, but for everyone it drove charges to the particular projects and also drove the PTO charges.

        There is nothing about a non-exempt status that says lunch has to be an hour rather than an hour & 15 minutes. I believe that non-exempt does require that if you work for longer than some time, you have to have at least a 30 minute lunch break.

        Usually engineers are non-exempt for the first 2-4 years, then move to exempt, and I can tell you, once you’ve moved, the expectation is that you work at least 45 hours if not more. So leaving a couple of hours early one day doesn’t make up for the 260+ extra hours you’ve put in that year.

        1. Exempt

          That is a good point Judy. leaving one day early definitely does not make up for working so many hours over a 40 hour work week. Our company does not have expectations of hours to be worked but they do have expectations as to the work that must be completed. It’s kind of the incentive to learning to do your job well, rather than just racing against the time clock.

      2. doreen

        Exempt people can’t necessarily do those things either. As far as I can tell, being exempt just means your employer can’t dock your pay for taking an extra 15 minutes at lunch or taking a few hours off and that you are not entitled to overtime. It doesn’t mean that they can’t have an attendance policy (including points) or require you to work a minimum number of hours per week. They can’t dock your pay, but they can take disciplinary action or even fire you for taking that time off.
        All of those other things are a function of your employer’s policy, not the law. There’s no law that says non-exempt employees can’t be dismissed early or given an extra paid hour for lunch ( as happened at my employer last week for a World Cup game, of all things) or that exempt employees must be allowed to take an extra 15 minutes at lunch or that benefits/severance/flexibility for exempt workers must be better than that offered to non-exempt employees. In fact, at my job the non-exempt employees earn more sick leave than the exempt and most of them have more flexibility than the exempt. (I must work at least 7.5 hours each day and start between 7 and 9am. They work 37.5 hours per week. Any 37.5 hours that they can make a case for.)

    7. Maddy

      Yeah, I had to petition hard to get switched from non-exempt to exempt at my old job — they weren’t paying me overtime anyways even though I was working 50-60 hours/week, so being exempt just made me feel like I didn’t have to hide that anymore (not that it’s okay to not pay the overtime, but there was no way that was ever gonna happen in that job). It was also a legit decision since I was in charge of generating nearly a quarter-million $$ in sales for the organization and client relations for thousands of customers.

      In a job that regularly involved evenings and weekends, it was so nice to be able to just work a ton of hours one week and take a few days off the next week, not worrying if they were in the same pay period or if everything all evened out in the end. It ultimately meant that I could just focus on getting my job done and doing things well rather than agonizing over my hours.

      1. Maddy

        I should clarify, it didn’t become an issue until HR found out how many hours I worked (oh the days of hand-written and easily falsified time sheets). I was told that I needed to start working 35 hours/week and wasn’t authorized for overtime, which just meant that I couldn’t do my job and my boss was really annoyed with why I wasn’t being productive anymore. We had $0 overtime budget so working more hours just wasn’t an option.

      2. Exempt

        Maddy, it also makes a big difference in how your work is managed by your Supervisor. I definitely am on your side with being able to “just focus on getting my job done and doing things well rather than agonizing over my hours.”

  4. Lori

    #1 – could he have meant to write “helpful”? And maybe autocorrect or a language barrier presented “humbling” instead? I agree that it is such an odd use of that term, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt that it was a mistake.

    1. Artemesia

      Yeah I suggested that up stream here, but the more I think about it the less likely it seems because ‘humbling experience’ is an actual phrase with meaning and you can’t just put ‘helpful’ in that phrase and have it work.

    2. Jess

      I think it’s best to give people the benefit of the doubt and ignore it with things like this, at least at first. If it happens a second or third time you can start in with the “What did you mean by that?”

      It also drives me crazy how many people misuse the word humbling or use it disingenuously.

  5. Mike C

    Re: #2

    Are your employers high, or just stupid. You’re an adult and the time for being forced to share rooms with others is long past. The fact that there’s a gender mismatch is a sexual harassment complaint waiting to happen. Not to mention insanely disrespectful to their employees.

    What in the hell are they thinking?? You sell every drinks, your industry props up multiple racing and sports teams at all levels all over the world and they’re skipping out on hotel rooms??

    Really?!

      1. sally

        Also, this implies that most men are likely to do something wrong just because they are with a women: a gender mismatch does *not* imply that a lawsuit is waiting to happen. Disgusting people imply a lawsuit is likely to happen.

        1. EE

          There is a long stretch of “seriously uncomfortable” that lies between “Not having a share a room with a man” and “abuse”.

          OP didn’t say she was worried about abuse; she said she felt uncomfortable especially because she might be on her period. Female coworkers wouldn’t even notice discarded stained products in the bin. Men probably would.

          Or how about changing? I wouldn’t want to have to worry about whether my knickers show that the carpet matches the curtains. Women wouldn’t care. Including gay women.

          Maybe you’ve worked in places where men are aloof and above it all but I’m used to blokeishness. I’d fight to make sure I didn’t have to share a bedroom witha male coworker even being 100% sure that the coworker in question would never touch me.

          1. neverjaunty

            I wonder if the simplest way for the OP to stop this short would be to have a conversation with senior management, with the door open so the guys could hear: “I’m a little concerned about us all sharing a room since I may be on my period that week.”

            Cash money bet says they’d have her in her own fancy private suite for that trip in no time.

        2. Mike C.

          I would suggest you read my post again, because the post you’re responding to doesn’t exist. If something doesn’t make sense, ask. But don’t you dare put words in my mouth, I’m perfectly capable of speaking for myself, ok?

          Even though I didn’t discuss it, you’ve got everything pretty much backward – it’s not an issue that “most men” are likely to do something wrong with a woman, it’s that when a woman is sexually harassed, it’s almost always a man. Same thing with assault, domestic abuse, rape and murder.

          But no, I wasn’t talking about that. I was talking about the fact that according to the cultural norms in North America, telling a female employee to share a hotel room with multiple men is out of line and completely uncalled for. It’s uncomfortable as hell to share rooms at all, given that we all, men and women, can suffer from private medical issues that we shouldn’t have to worry about coworkers finding out about.

          Are you seriously not seeing the issue here?

          1. CEMgr

            Mike, you have it 100% right, this is an easy one. No need to speculate on exact details of what would be seen that would make it not OK. It grossly violates our cultural and legal norms.

        3. fposte

          Hmm. Were you recently posting as samantha, by any chance?

          For a manager, it would be disgusting to ignore the possibility of your employees’ extreme discomfort and your organization’s liability.

          1. robot chick

            glad I’m not entirely paranoid…

            (even gladder to know there’s reasonable people around here that can speak my mind without getting caught in the profanity filter, as I’m wont to)

          2. sally

            Hm. I posted once about half a year ago as sally. Don’t post often but I read everything.. I don’t see where the OP brought up the discomfort to their manager.

            1. Mike C.

              She shouldn’t have to, it’s self evident why this is an uncomfortable and unprofessional situation.

        4. Joey

          Well he didn’t say sexual harassment is bound to happen, just that they’re significantly increasing the risk of a complaint which is absolutely true. And that’s still not saying the risk of actual sexual harassment has increased, just that they’re more likely to get a complaint of sexual harassment especially when people are uncomfortable in the first place. Because we all know people have wide interpretations of what constitutes sexual harassment and any complaint is a huge risk when its hard to prove what actually happened between two people behind closed doors .

        5. jelly donut

          Sally, you’re way overboard and off topic with that comment. Mike didn’t say sexual harassment didn’t happen when women shared a room. In fact, that’s not the issue here, so there’s no point in bringing it up.

      2. Elysian

        Mike C. didn’t say abuse. He said harassment. Those are different things – we shouldn’t put words in his mouth.

        And I agree with him. There are so many potential problems here. Though, I’m of the mind that no one should every be forced to share a room, regardless of gender.

          1. Jazzy Red

            Are your kidding? It’s totally a gender issue. (Well, it’s also a tightwad issue on the company’s part. Even old Sam Walton didn’t make female employees share hotel rooms with male employees, and he was so tight he squeaked, business-wise.) Forcing a woman employee to share a bedroom with male employees is not appropriate or proper. It just isn’t right.

            Frankly, I wouldn’t even share a room with another woman. I’d pay the difference to have a room all to myself.

      3. LV

        Let’s be realistic. Man-on-man or woman-on-man sexual abuse doesn’t occur with anywhere near the same frequency as man-on-woman sexual abuse.

        1. L McD

          There’s that – also the fact that “lawsuit waiting to happen” is basically how any sensible company should view a situation where things COULD easily go very, very wrong, even if it’s most likely that they WON’T. A few months ago, there was a post about a contractor who was being asked to work in clients’ homes when no one was home except for a teenage daughter. He was completely reasonable to be concerned about it, just as the OP of this question is. It really has nothing to do with what is likely to happen, or what kind of people they are – it’s just a bad situation from the company’s perspective, and it’s concerning that they seem not to care.

          That’s setting aside the awkwardness and privacy issue, which is legitimate, and also something that the company should be considering – but for different reasons. However, I can understand a company ignoring their employees’ personal comfort more easily than I can understand them ignoring potential liability.

        2. sally

          Don’t know whether the previous version of this comment just triggered moderation cause of the links, content, or cause people disagree with I say, but while you’re technically right: the numbers are about 55%-45% female-male victims: male victims are far less likely to report anything wrong.

          1. sally

            let me try giving the names of the studies without links:
            – Partner Abuse State of Knowledge
            – British Crime Survey – 2008-9
            – P. W. Cook – Abused men: The hidden side of domestic violence (2nd ed.)

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Y’all, we’re getting pretty far afield from the topic of the letter, so I’m going to ask that we end this particular debate, which isn’t about the OP’s letter. Thank you.

          2. Elysian

            That only means that we should be protecting the men in this situation as well as the women, not that gender doesn’t matter. The gender mismatch still matters.

        3. The Real Ash

          Actually the most recent CDC statistics that were posted (from 2012 IIRC) show that men and women experience almost 50/50 rates of sexual assault. While women generally experience more violent assaults overall, men are just as likely to be verbally harassed, physically molested, and even experience pretty high rates of what the CDC refers to as “involuntary envelopment” (note that women are the main perpetrators of these types of assault). Let’s not pretend that all of the bad things in the world happen to women. It’s sexist and unfair to everyone who is a victim of sexual assault.

          (Note: I know I’m off-topic, but I hate seeing when people try to pretend that men aren’t victims—at nearly the same rates women are—too.)

      4. Lily in NYC

        My eyes just broke from rolling them so hard. There are many reasons to not want to share a room with the opposite gender that have nothing to do with harassment. And I can see many men not wanting to share with a woman for various reasons.

  6. Dani S

    I like being exempt because I don’t have to punch a time clock, and no one cares if I’m fifteen minutes late, take a long lunch, flex my hours, etc. If I heard I was going to be nonexempt, I’d be afraid I would lose all my flexibility. Could that be what’s happening with OP #4?

    Also, I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m confusing hourly/salary with nonexempt/exempt, but I’ve never understood the difference.

    1. KJR

      You can be salary exempt (you are not eligible for overtime) or salary non-exempt (you still receive a set salary, but are also eligible for overtime – kind of the best of both worlds.) Or, you can be straight hourly non-exempt – just paid for the hours you work plus any applicable OT. And I don’t think it’s possible to be hourly exempt…at least I’ve never run into it.

      I hope this answer made sense. Insomnia is rearing its ugly head and I’m not completely confident in my coherence or typing skills at 2:30 am!

      1. LAI

        Thanks for this clarification! Based on these definitions, I would be happy to be exempt or non-exempt if salaried. However, I always equated non-exempt jobs with hourly (not salaried) which may be what the OP is thinking and why they are not excited about the possibility. I would not want to trade my flexibility and freedom to control my own schedule for paid overtime. Especially since every hourly job I’ve worked in required you to get approval for overtime, which was rarely granted, so then you are just forced to walk away at 5pm with work unfinished.

        1. Exempt

          Hi Lai
          You got my exact point. I am always able to walk away from my desk not thinking about what I left unfinished. I have the discretion to stay and finish something even if it’s going to take me a half hour or an hour longer. The peace of mind to leave work at work because I am able to complete a project with a strict deadline is invaluable to me. I also enjoy my flexibility. For some people in this position the pay would definitely increase because it must be double minimum wage. However for those of us who have been in that position for over 10 years the pay would be the same. One thing I know for sure it would be easier to catch a falling star than it would be to get OT preapproved.

      2. Farmer

        I am hourly exempt, because I work in agriculture. Agricultural workers are not covered by the law protecting non-exempt workers, and are thus exempt. It means I do not get OT, despite working much harder than when I was a non-exempt hourly or exempt salary.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      We reclassified our inside sales people as salaried non-exempt a number of years back, and it’s a good deal for them.

      In our place, exempt and non-exempt salaried aren’t treated any differently that’s you’d perceive, except the non-exempt can also get overtime on a not too shabby base. If we open the phones on the weekend during busy season, they get paid overtime + commission. (And when their work day is done, it’s done . They are discouraged from checking their email from home, there’s no carrying work life on the their personal smart phones, etc.)

  7. Mary

    #2 I just find it so bizarre that co-workers are obliged to share sleeping spaces with each other no matter what gender. I would find it totally unacceptable. If my company want to send me to x place to do y job for a day then the cost to them of doing that business is giving me a hotel room for myself.

    I know the practice of sharing seems to be pretty common in the USA but this is the first time I have heard of it in Europe.

    Even in family homes it is not the norm for siblings of different gender to share rooms beyond early childhood, so why should work suddenly decide to change the social norms.

    1. Cheesecake

      Same here: i have worked (and am still working) in different countries in Europe and for me the fact that i have to share a room with anyone sounds bizarre.

      Once for US trainings we had to share rooms with same-gender colleagues, but i understood it was more for “bonding experience” because of graduate program we participated in and because there were over 100 of us from around the world.Overall experience was good. But any other time employer would ask me to share a room for a regular business trip, i would push back. In case it is a small place with one hotel only and one room left – i would give it a though (but this has never happened so far)

      1. Loose Seal

        I prefer not to be forced to bond with people. Especially by sharing a room with someone I work with.

        1. Cheesecake

          Not sure “bond” is the word. I was horrified at first but after you meet 100 new people and have to collaborate with them for a week, it is good to have an ally in a form of a roommate. Mind you, she worked in the US thus we never actually sat in same office or worked together on anything.

          I did this room sharing twice and the 2nd time as my roomie has left the company, i was on my own. I must admit i wished she was there and this was the only time i was not happy because i was NOT sharing a room

          Anyways, i doubt i would do it now on a regular business trip with people i see every day. No.no.no

        2. Ruffingit

          For me it’s just about needing that time to recharge and relax after work. I need alone time to surf the internet quietly, take a hot bath or whatever. I do not want to deal with other people 24/7.

      2. Sunflower

        A couple months ago a coworker and I were traveling and couldn’t find a hotel anywhere. We thought we were going to have to share a room and we told our boss the only way we would share a room is if it was a 2 bedroom suite. And even that I felt weird about it. This is also the coworker I probably feel closest too in my office

    2. Arvil

      I’m in Europe and our company policy is to share hotel rooms with a colleague. Sometimes this is a colleague you’ve never met before, and sometimes it’s someone of opposite gender.

      On one occassion I was assigned a room share with my boss, (we are both female) and got to our room to find the general set up was much better suited to a romantic couples break rather than colleagues sharing for a conference, largely due to the double bed and lightly frosted glass bathroom walls…

      1. De (Germany)

        Whoever thought those glass walls are a good idea deserves quite a few unpleasant things. I wouldn’t even like that when staying somewhere with my husband. Imagine my delight when that happened to me on a work trip… While I didn’t have to share with my boss like you did, I had only met the coworker I was staying with an hour earlier.

        (this wasn’t a work trip in the strictest sense, though, it was a trip paid for by the company because of the company’s 15th anniversary. So it was sort of okay for them to not pay for a room for each employee, I think)

        1. fposte

          Those glass-partitioned bathrooms are horrible! And somehow they’re being perceived as chic and seemingly growing in popularity. Stamp it out now, I say.

          1. Ruffingit

            This. See-through glass whether lightly frosted or not DOES NOT belong anywhere near a bathroom. Just saying.

    3. JC

      I wouldn’t say it’s common in the US. It must depend on industry and employer. I’ve never had to share a room as a professional in the US and I’d balk at having to do so.

      But when I was a graduate student I did always share rooms at conferences. Once even with a man, another woman, and her infant! That sounds ridiculous now but it wasn’t forced; we had limited travel money and had to find roommates or pay more out of pocket, but no one told us who to room with.

      1. Ann O'Nemity

        This was my experience in academia – limited travel budgets and the choice of finding a roommate or paying more out of pocket. It was always nice when I could dip into grant or slush money to get my own room.

      2. fposte

        It’s pretty common in the library world, because travel funds are so limited. I think you can usually pay for the difference if you don’t want to share (or stay with friends, I suppose), but there’s not likely to be an option where they give you more funds because you don’t want to share.

      3. NotMyRealName

        One conference I went to as a grad student we had 6 people in our room. It’s kind of a part of student travel.

        The funny thing is that I am back in that field after many years and I just registered for that conference for the fall, except this time I get my own room.

      4. Windchime

        I had to share hotel rooms a couple of times at OldJob, but they are/were cheap. NewJob doesn’t expect it; they realize that at the end of a day spent working away from home, people need a little privacy to unwind and rest.

        Once on a trip with OldJob, three of us women were sharing a room with two beds. I quickly claimed one of the beds for myself; no way was I sharing a bed with a colleague (one of whom was my boss). I don’t want to see my boss walking around in her underwear, and I sure don’t want to sleep in the same bed with her.

      5. holly

        yes, sharing rooms for conferences (which were considered perks, not requirements) was commonly requested/required at one of my jobs, but sharing for a business trip (completely different situation) is ridiculous. if a company can’t afford to have its people go somewhere to do business, the company has problems and should just send fewer people.

    4. Sunflower

      My company is extremely cheap and even they would never think of making coworkers share hotel rooms. Beyond just the weirdness of it, traveling is tough and tiring and dealing with another person’s habits on top of mine would be too much. I’m not sure I’d be able to sleep if I had to share a room. I know a coworker of mine gets up around 4am and has a whole morning routine that I would NOT be happy about having to be in the same room during. I remember a couple months ago a commenter said her company gave stipends to people who chose to share hotel rooms but if you didn’t want to, no biggie, you got your own. I thought that was a great idea

      1. Janis

        I had to share a suite with a male coworker once. We each had our own bedroom and bathroom, but with a common kitchen and living area. The guy and I were pals who knew each other well so I was completely comfortable. If I’d barely known him … yeah, maybe a little awkwardness. I’ll admit that I was much more cognizant of being fully buttoned, zipped and dressed before I made my kitchen entrance in the morning.

        But sharing a hotel room with a male coworker, friend or stranger, YEE-BAH!! No way. Just no way. Cringing and laughing simultaneously just thinking about it.

    5. MW77

      It can be common in government. For example, where I live state employees are expected to share a room. If they want a room to themselves, they have to pay the difference. However, people of different genders do not have to share. So, if two men or two women were going to an out of state meeting, they would have to share. If a man and a women were going, they would not. I had to share a room with someone I supervised a few times, which went well. But I could see that opening up a whole new world of issues.

      1. JC

        Sharing a room is definitely not a thing in the US federal government. There are federal travel rules that give you a set per diem for traveling, which includes the price of a single hotel room, and so it’s consistent across the federal government. Or at least I think so—would never be shocked to hear a story to the contrary on AAM!

        MW77, I feel for you. When I was a fed who sometimes dealt with people working for state governments, we always heard about their travel budget restrictions and how employees in many states weren’t allowed to travel out of the state (during the worst of the recession, anyway).

    6. Rat Racer

      I snore, and I find it horribly embarrassing. I’m even reluctant to share rooms with close friends when we go on vacation – flashbacks to horrible memories at sleepaway camp and when I had to share a dorm room in college. I think if my company made me share a room with anyone (male or female) I would grab a blanket and pillow and sleep in the hallway. Or not sleep at all.

    7. Various Assumed Names

      My old company made everyone below manager level share hotel rooms (same gender) for trainings. It was annoying because we were a professional services firm and used to booking our own hotels and flights to travel to clients, but once there was a training, HR would set you up with a roommate (we weren’t allowed to make requests) and treat you like a child.

      There was one training where HR totally screwed up and didn’t use the final attendance list to make the bookings, so a lot people ended up with no roommate. However, HR started sending emails (many of which were not seen because we were in training all day) and making people switch rooms mid-week.

      One girl got locked out of her room and went down to the desk to find out that she had been checked out, the hotel had packed up her stuff, and she had to move in with a roommate who was already asleep in what she thought was a private room.

    8. Lily in NYC

      I would never, ever share with a coworker (I’m in the US and have never had to). I’d pay for a room myself first. Or sleep in a box in the nearest park if I had to.

    9. mm

      I don’t think this is common in the USA. I live on the west coast and like many people I know, occasionally travel for business. None of us have ever been asked to share a room and I work for a non-profit which is chronically low on funds.

  8. GrumpyBoss

    #1 – I think this is one of those rare cases where it isn’t even worth your time to analyze what he meant. I’d put this one in the circular file and not give a moments thought to this. If the feedback is genuine and is something you need to hear, it’ll come back to you with more context – and less passive aggression!

  9. nep

    #2 — Yikes. Second the other commenters. I cannot imagine a company setting things up such that male and female employees must share a hotel room. Just wrong on so many levels.

      1. fposte

        I don’t think “wrong” is really a useful concept here, TBH. It’s customary in my field to be required to share a room; you have the option of staying home, paying for yourself, or going into a different line of work.

        1. nep

          For me it’s disrespectful, unprofessional. Agree that the set-up really should be each person to his/her room. It’s more than the issue of mixing genders (and of course we can’t assume people’s orientations). It’s about simple personal privacy; seems to me an organisation or company should be able to accommodate people properly — one person to a private space.

          1. fposte

            I think the assumption that “properly” is the same thing as “a hotel room on your own” is industry-variable, though.

            1. nep

              Ah, OK. I’d not thought of industry-variable. What would be a couple of examples? Thanks.

              1. Anon

                Some examples:

                IBM used to make those of us who worked in branch offices share rooms when we traveled for training or reward trips. I last worked there in ’95, so I don’t know if they still do this. When I went to some 2- and 4-week classes in Atlanta and Dallas, there were 4 students of the same gender in a 2-bedroom condo and we all had twin beds. For shorter trips where we stayed in hotels in various cities, there would be two students (again of the same gender) per room, each with his/her own bed.

                I’ve also worked for a small digital marketing agency that did the same thing — two women or two men in a room with two double beds.

                So there you go — one of the largest companies in the world and one of the smallest, both in the tech sector and both making employees share rooms. Besides those two places, I’ve also worked for three mid-sized tech companies that never would have suggested it.

      2. Sadsack

        I think there is an added dynamic to mixed genders being forced to share. There is another level of discomfort that I can’t rightfully explain, but I would feel it if I was in this situation.

      3. Cara

        Not really, not when you factor in societal norms and expectations. It’s ingrained in our culture to expect some privacy along gender lines, and you can’t just abolish those expectations by saying so. We have gendered restrooms and gym locker rooms, even some gyms themselves are women-only because there is enough demand for spaces in which women can work out just among women. You may think it’s silly, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a reality.

        And there are also the spouses and significant others of the travelers to think about. Surely coed sleeping assignments are going to cause jealousy and friction in someone’s marriage if this continues to be the company’s policy. It’s just so not a good idea.

  10. Carrie in Scotland

    #2 – On the few occasions I have had to stay in hotel rooms for work related reasons, we all had our own rooms. I would be happy to share a room with another female but not what you’re describing – it sounds almost like a dorm or hostel room? I wouldn’t expect there to be a law about such a thing, though there could possibly be something in your company handbook under “business travel arrangements”. But I would follow what Alison suggests in her answer.

    1. Career Counselorette

      At one point some years ago I worked in television production and travel was essentially the job, and on my first shoot I was totally expecting to be packed into one hotel room with all twelve crew members, so I packed accordingly. I was literally stunned to discover that we all had our own rooms. I think I reacted the same way Borat did at seeing his hotel room.

  11. T

    #2 Just a thought: Does the person planning the trip know you? If you have a name that is either gender neutral, the person booking the room, flights, etc., might have assumed that all people in the room are men and that there is no problem.

  12. Questioner

    I wonder about the multiple men. Sharing with one man would be wrong enough but how do multiple men work? Having only been in US hotels generally if there were more than 2 people in the room 2 would have to share a bed.
    Even if who you share with wasn’t an issue I wouldn’t want to have to share if it was more than a quick over night.

    1. TychaBrahe

      I was just in two hotel rooms that featured two double beds and a separate sitting room with a couch that was also a pullout bed. It’s great for families with young children. You could easily sleep three adults in such a situation.

      1. Elysian

        That’s true… pullout beds are so uncomfortable though. I would be livid if my company expected me to 1) room 2 opposite gender persons 2) share the one hotel bathroom with 2 other people [just think about how early I’d have to get up! ugh] 3) sleep on a pullout bed… and then still expect me to get places on time and be a productive employee. I just don’t think I could do it.

        1. Sadsack

          Good point – how do you go about negotiating the use of the bathroom for getting ready in the morning? What if someone is ill? It is kind of hard to escape hearing bathroom sounds in a hotel room. What a burden to put on employees.

          1. fposte

            You talk about it, and you’ve usually been working in places where bathrooms are stalls anyway, so it’s not like they’ve never been in a bathroom with you. If somebody is ill, you work around it, or they pay extra to get a room on their own, but that’s not that common a circumstance.

            I think this seems more onerous if you’re not used to it as the convention; when it’s part of your field’s work travel, it’s like any other accustomed practice. I’m not a huge fan so I started paying my way out of it fairly early in my career, but it’s not particularly insurmountable, and a lot of people actually quite enjoy it.

            1. Zed

              I just got back from a conference where I spent 5 days sharing a hotel room (two queen beds) with a coworker. We have shared before and will share again; it’s just part of our work life that a couple times a year we will room with eachother. To be honest, it isn’t that big a deal. On the first night, you figure out things like lights out, alarm times, bathroom schedules for the morning… and, in general, if you both make an effort to considerate as well as flexible, things are just fine. If necessary, we plan our days so we each have the option of time alone in the room, which helps.

      2. Questioner

        Yes – been in those too. But there is still usually limited space. I don’t want to spend hours in a room with someone I don’t know for multiple days.

  13. MaggietheCat

    #1 Reminds me of my neighbor growing up. At 16, I was in a car accident at the end of our street and was injured. The next day this lovely older gentleman knocks on our door comes in with our housekeeper to where I’m recovering and tells me he hopes I’ve learned my lesson. Thanks?!

    1. Helka

      … Wow, what the fresh hell? I hope your housekeeper got a talking-to about letting strangers just wander in and scold you! That’s kind of mindblowing.

      1. MaggietheCat

        Sorry, the ‘lovely’ older gentleman was my neighbor who had lived next to us for years. Our family (and housekeeper) knew him – he was just very nosey and rude!

        1. Elizabeth West

          Not so lovely! I can see how that would happen, if the housekeeper thought he just wanted to make a get-well visit, and maybe it never occurred to her that he would say what he said, or he schmoozed his way in. But if she knew he was overall very rude, she should not have let him in.

  14. Ann Furthermore

    #1 – How unbelievably rude and obnoxious. Is there a co-worker you’re friendly with that you could ask about this? If the guy is that nasty and condescending to everyone then you can forget about it. On the slim chance that you’re doing something that people find off-putting, that’s good information to have.

    #2 – I would flat-out refuse to share a hotel room with anyone, regardless of their gender. It’s a freaking business trip, not a junior high-school slumber party. I am a professional and it’s not out of line to expect to be treated like one, and that’s exactly what I would tell anyone who asked. Good god, sometimes I don’t even like sharing a room or a bathroom with my husband!

    Now sharing a rental car? Sure, that’s no problem and it makes sense. If a bunch of people are all staying at the hotel then it would be dumb for each of them to rent their own car when they could easily share and save some money.

    1. Student

      Sometimes it also helps to find a hotel nearby that is much cheaper. Lots of organizations default to Marriott-style hotel rooms. If they go with budget hotels where the rooms are 1/2 the rate, and everyone gets their own room, that is by far what I prefer to a swank hotel with a shared room.

  15. Celeste

    #1 It sounds to me like the man is a little unclear on the PR process. I think he had an idea that his comments indicate you did a poor job on the article, when in fact the critique policy is so that you are collaborative with the org. I believe he thinks a lot more should go into your work to make a draft be practically perfect, rather than a starting point. Anytime I have gone through this process with PR for our agency, it’s clear that the PR person is not supposed to be the subject matter expert–that’s what I and others in my area are there for, and we need the PR help because we are not specialists in how to get the word out. If I said anything to him, it would be that this is how PR works, and by definition you are not the SME in anything but communications.

    1. Celeste

      PS, I am not excusing his rude remark. I am saying he made it because he is incorrect on how your work is supposed to be done.

  16. TotesMaGoats

    #1-Channel your inner Elsa and “let it go”. If it was a mis-type (highly unlikely in my opinion), then getting cranked about it isn’t going to help that relationship. If he did it on purpose, then it’s still not worth it as he’s a jerk and your anger isn’t going to impact him.

  17. Cindi

    Maybe the “humble” guy wasn’t an experienced editor and had unrealistic expectations about what a “normal” amount of edits are. If he’s not a writer and not used to having his work edited and critiqued in that manner, he may have thought he was delivering a huge amount of edits, even though the writer had the perspective to know it was pretty standard.

    He’s still a jerk, though.

    1. LizNYC

      I was just coming here to say that. 100 to 1 he’s not familiar with the editing process. He’s probably thinking the OP handed in her work half done — hence the “humbling” comment. (Bets are that he was thinking if he received a similar amount of feedback on his work, he’d be reamed out for it.)

      OP #1 — circular file and mental note that this guy doesn’t truly understand what you’re doing in your role.

  18. Sunflower

    #4- I would check with your company about what plans they have for you by making you non-exempt. It may be a legal thing and they don’t plan on really changing anything about your schedule/pay. If that’s the case, I’d let this go. If they are planning on keeping you salaried and your schedule the same, nothing is really changing. If they are planning to change your hours or pay you hourly, I would check and ensure that they are going to continue to use you the same amount of hours. I would also check and see how they feel about flex time. I know one of the perks of being exempt is being able to sneak out for a middle of the day doctors appt or take a short lunch and leave early. It’s possible your employer is planning to continue to let you do this without affecting your pay. I think it’s totally fair to ask detailed questions about how the change will affect your job.

    1. Exempt

      This is very helpful Sunflower I appreciate your feedback. It just boggles me about how the expectations of the position will not change but they don’t want to pay what the classification calls for. But when it was convenient to them when a major project was at hand their response was always that we were exempt and that we needed to get the job done. It makes me feel cheated to think that all those times I really was eligible for OT. Thanks again.

  19. Iain Clarke

    #1 Humble
    “I am already the most humble person on Earth, so it will take a better critique than yours to increase me”.

    #2 Sharing rooms.
    My first thought was “Blork?”. But T had a good point. Are you a “Chris”, and not know to the organising person?

    #3 Munchausen’s job application by proxy
    Of course you’re not obligated. It’s proably good to inquire why your contact thinks you should apply, and to what.

    #4 (Non)exempt
    Not a lot to add here, as I’m not in the US, but I would feel having to punch in would feel like a demotion, even if you could get more money. I would no douby be wrong, but I’d have to boss myself to
    get over it.

    #5 Job titles.
    Even less to add, but I didn’t want you to feel left out. I think an n/a or the like in the box would be fine. A cover letter is your friend here, or a “anything else?” box at the end.

    1. PJ

      Loved how you organized your response — it was easy to tell which post your comments related to. No scrolling required!

  20. Ann O'Nemity

    I wonder if the LW in #4 is talking about the new minimum wage law in California. Part of that change requires all exempt Executive, Administrative, and Professional employees to earn at least $37,440 annually – at least twice the minimum wage. If that would be a salary bump for the LW, it may be the reason for the reclassification.

    1. Exempt

      Yes, that is exactly it. The law has been in place for ten years now but the reason why the employer is “auditing” the position is because of the new salary requirement. This is what bothers me the most, now that it’s not convenient to the employer they want to change it. However, it’s not as cut and dry. I was hoping to get more comments related to the interpretation of the language rather than the implications of the status. Thank you Ann

      1. Victoria Nonprofit

        I don’t think you’ll find that here! Most of us aren’t in California nor are we lawyers, so I don’t think we’ll be much help interpreting the language.

      2. fposte

        Do you meet the pay standard for exemption? If you don’t, that’s pretty much game over–the rest of the language doesn’t matter at that point no matter what you do.

      3. Ann O'Nemity

        It’s a red flag that your company is reclassifying you if there haven’t been any changes to your job duties. Have they mentioned back-pay for previous overtime?

        1. fposte

          I’m not familiar with legal changes to classification, and I’m really not familiar with California. I would have thought that this was kind of a no-fault change, given the new law, that wouldn’t have retroactive implications–is it really not that? I found some mention of retroactive back pay but it wasn’t related to legal changes in classification. What a nightmare if all the employers have to deal with that retroactively!

          1. Ann O'Nemity

            My understanding is that the new minimum wage law in California changed the minimum annual salary for exempt Executive, Administrative, and Professional employees. It didn’t change the criteria for exempt/non-exempt classification; it was just about pay.

            My assumption is that Exempt’s employer is changing her classification to avoid paying the new minimum salary. If it turns out that Exempt has been misclassified and should have been non-exempt all along, back-pay could potentially be owed.

            1. fposte

              We probably don’t know enough about Exempt’s job to be sure. But the pay is part of the criteria for exempt/non-exempt classification, so changing the threshold does change the criteria. According to the CA DLSE (http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/Glossary.asp?Button1=P#professional%20exemption) an employee has to meet five criteria to be professionally exempt, and one of them is the pay threshold. So I think it could be that the OP has always met the other four criteria and met any previous pay threshold and was therefore correctly classified exempt, but the raising of the threshold tips her into non-exempt because now she can’t meet all five criteria as required.

              1. Ann O'Nemity

                That’s a good point. If not meeting the salary threshold is the only reason for the reclassification, that wouldn’t necessitate back-pay.

                I was thinking more about the possibility that Exempt may have been misclassified all long. Administrative exemptions are tricky.

                1. fposte

                  Yeah, that certainly can’t be ruled out either, and that might be a good reason for Exempt to politely inquire about the rationale–retroactive back pay could ease the sting.

          2. Ann O'Nemity

            I should also add, I don’t think the new law has retroactive implications in and of itself. It only becomes an issue if the employer is now reclassifying to avoid paying the extra salary. If the employee should have been non-exempt all along, they would have been entitled to overtime.

            1. fposte

              I have a comment in moderation with a CA DLSE link–I don’t know if it’s specifically Exempt’s situation, but the new salary threshold is indeed part of the criteria, so I think it would be possible to have been correctly classified as exempt and to become nonexempt simply as a result of the new pay threshold. (But IANAL–I’m just an internet hand-waver.)

              1. CAA

                The salary threshold for the administrative exemption in CA has been stated as “2 x minimum wage” for a long time. Now that minimum wage is going up by $1/hr to $9/hr, the minimum salary to be considered exempt in that profession goes up from $33,280/yr to $37,440. If an employee were making close to the threshold, she’d need a 12.5% raise to continue to be exempt.

                CA minimum wage goes up another dollar per hour 18 months from now, so that’s another 11.1% raise needed on 1/1/16.

      4. CAA

        I can tell you that based on the description you gave of your work, we have employees who do similar tasks, and my company (also in CA) classifies these jobs as non-exempt. I don’t manage those folks, so I’m not sure if it’s because their salaries are too low, or because we don’t think their duties qualify as exempt.

        Another consideration for your situation would be whether other people in your company with similar titles meet the qualifications for the exempt status. If there are several people who share your title and some earn less than the new required minimum, or some do not spend at least half their time doing exempt work, then none of you can be classified as exempt. If you think that reasoning applies to you, then you might make more headway by working towards getting an updated job description and title that more accurately reflect what you do and could lead to a new classification.

  21. Not So NewReader

    OP#1. Ugh, my heart goes out to you. You know, there are plenty of times in life where I have or currently do feel humbled by another person’s actions. Usually, in those instances the person has done something that is head and shoulders above everyone else. It’s a privilege to see and learn from this person.

    OP, this guy is NOT one of those people.

    Smile to yourself and say “When I see something that is awesome and I desire to copy that awesomeness, then YES, I will be humbled.
    But I have NOT seen it here.”

    If this man really does know a lot about what he is doing then he would have a sense of proportion. He would realize that his corrections on you work were just part of the work day. He would know inside himself that this is not on the par with moving Mt Everest or curing cancer.

    You could check in with a couple of trusted coworkers to get a feel for their experiences with him. That might help. But for the most part, just realize this guy is probably not going to show you too much awesome stuff. Other people will be more supportive and helpful to you than this man.

  22. Purple Jello

    #1 – Either he meant to be funny, and it didn’t come across well via email, or he’s a jerk or clueless. I would ignore it.
    #2 – What Alison said: No, I am not sharing a room with men other and certainly not multiple! What were they thinking? (Maybe they weren’t)
    #3 – Talk to your colleague. It might be exactly what you want, or a dud. You need more info to make a decision. But I wouldn’t ignore the situation, because you don’t want to blacklist yourself for a future potential opportunity.
    #4 – what would change if your classification became “non-exempt”? You would get overtime pay? Would you lose any perks? Would your hours change? Would your flexibility change? Would it affect how others treat you? (How would they even know?) I’ve had jobs where colleagues were surprised that I was non-exempt because I “didn’t act like an hourly employee”.
    #5 – They want a supervisor’s title to help give a better idea of what you did. For the jobs you listed, it would be obvious why you didn’t give a title. (If required, and say, you’re a nanny, so you’d put “Child’s Mom” as supervisor title.) Or else they did not consider your situation. Don’t sweat it, and think of a professional answer if it’s required.

  23. Red Librarian

    I think some people in this thread are confusing exempt v. non-exempt with salaried v. hourly (the “hate clocking in and out” comments for instance). They aren’t mutually exclusive. I’m salaried non-exempt for instance, so I’m eligible for overtime but still don’t clock in or out.

    1. De Minimis

      I’m similar…I’m non-exempt and technically hourly, but I don’t actually clock in and out or do any kind of daily time reporting. I do have to verify a timesheet at the end of the pay period, and if I use any leave that has to be calculated, but no one is actually keeping track of arrival time, lunches, etc.

      1. Emily, admin extraordinaire

        Same for me. I’m non-exempt hourly, but around here no one cares if I get in at 8:30 and take a half an hour lunch and leave at 5 or no lunch at all and leave at 4:30. I can schedule doctor’s appointments and either take PTO or make it up within the week. I have to get permission for overtime, but the nature of my work rarely requires it (usually only if we’re running a conference, which I don’t usually do). It was different when I was the receptionist at other companies, because they needed me there when the phones were active no matter what; but once I moved off the front desk, as long as I got in 40 hours of work in the week they didn’t care much how I did it.

    2. Arjay

      They aren’t mutually exclusive, but in many / most places non-exempt and hourly do go together. (In the past, I’ve been exempt and still had to swipe in and out at the timeclock so they had visibility to who was in the building at any given time. I don’t think this is typical though.) In every non-exempt position I’ve had, the time clocks, stricter schedule, and attendance policy all went along with it. At my current Fortune 500 company, non-exempt associates aren’t allowed to work from home, so that’s another layer of flexibility that’s gone. Sure, that’s company policy, but they’re using exempt/non-exempt as the bright line. The OP should definitely find out the details of their specific situation.

    3. Sadsack

      Perhaps it is all dependent on the workplace. My company requires all non-exempt employees to clock in/out.

    4. ThursdaysGeek

      And I worked at a place where I was salaried exempt, not eligible for overtime pay, but we did have to clock in and out. I thought it was pretty stupid. (Oh wait, this was a small, family owned business, so they make up their own rules half the time!)

    5. MJ

      Even if you are not physically clocking in or out, you still have to keep a timesheet stating accurately the number of hours you worked each day and each workweek. Your employer is required by law to keep this information, so at the end of each day, you have to know what time you arrived, what time you left and how long you took for lunch (whether you write down those times or just write down the total time worked). It is the employer’s responsibility to make sure the timesheet is an accurate recording of the time worked, so an employer that just lets you write down 8 hours every day without any oversight is taking a risk.

  24. MousyNon

    Exactly. In my co, non-exempt have the same flexibility that exempt people do, and can use my PTO just like everyone else. The only difference is, they’re paid for any hours above and beyond their base salary in accordance with the law.

  25. Various Assumed Names

    #1- I read that sentence and said out loud “Ew…” My younger self would probably be tempted to have a passive-aggressive email back and forth with this guy, but if you have the strength to just let it go, you should. If someone is that big of a jerk, it’s only going to reflect badly on him. And you’re going to look like a pro for not engaging him.

  26. Various Assumed Names

    I have a pretty stupid question related to #5. When a form asks for your references’ titles and companies, are they asking for what they were at the time you worked with them, or now? I usually put their current company and title (if I know it) but I often get confused.

    1. the gold digger

      I always put the current title and company, because I am usually giving their work phone, but the form also usually asks my relationship to them, so I can say, “former boss at OldJob” or “former coworker at OtherJob.”

  27. BadPlanning

    On #2, I wouldn’t be surprised if the men are also uncomfortable with the idea of having to share with a female coworker, but don’t want to say anything lest it be misinterpreted as a general “don’t want women” instead of simply “We’re not crazy about mixed gender rooms. Actually, we’re not crazy amount having to share rooms, period.”

    Unless, I suppose, the company culture is a “frat” stereotype and these guys are looking forward to endless Vodka Red Bulls and then jumping in the pool from their hotel room balcony.

    1. L McD

      Yeah, I agree – I think it’s quite possible they are uncomfortable and just don’t want to say anything (that’s assuming they haven’t – the OP might not be aware if they’ve raised objections privately). It’s just awkward to share rooms in general, and doubly awkward for most people when you mix genders. I would not want to share a room with any man I wasn’t in a relationship with, even if I knew and trusted him implicitly.

  28. C Average

    #4

    This is going to depend a lot on company culture, as others have noted.

    I started off as non-exempt hourly at my company. My company is a company that pretty much has a no-overtime-ever policy. If you’re hourly, you work 40 hours and not a second more. As my role grew, it became a huge frustration to not be able to stay and complete projects, or to not be able to check in on ongoing email conversations on the weekend. Being non-exempt hourly really cut into my ability to do my job well. I worked extra hours off the clock, and got rightly scolded for it, but it really felt like an impossible situation. I wanted to do the job thoroughly and right, and couldn’t accomplish that in the parameters of non-exempt hourly status.

    It was wonderful to get bumped up to exempt salaried. If you crunch the numbers, I may well sometimes get less money per hour than I did when I was hourly, but I don’t care. I have the flexibility and autonomy to complete my tasks on timelines that work for me, which is wonderful.

    If I had to go back to punching a clock and micromanaging my workflow to stay within that 40-hour restriction, I’d start looking elsewhere immediately.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit

      This may be a “grass is greener” situation… because I’d love to have an external requirement forcing me to work only 40 hours a week. I personally need that structure (to keep myself from working too much) — and I’m curious about what it would do to the organizations I’ve worked for to have to think really intentionally about workload and efficiency and so on.

      1. Lynn Whitehat

        I’m a software developer, which is usually salaried. But for a few years, I worked for a defense contractor, which paid us hourly. I thought it was pretty nice. There seems to be a natural tendency to assume developer time is endless and free, and having us bill in quarter-hour increments made it really, really explicit that it is NOT endless or free. We had by far the fewest meetings of anyplace I’ve ever worked, for one thing.

  29. JustMe

    #1 – I think sometimes people tend to read too much into a situation. I’m totally not saying you are, OP. I’ve just seen it cause a riff when there really wasn’t one to start with. This can easily be cleared up by a simple, “what did you mean by…” which is what Alison suggested.

    I’m originally from a different country and though I say one thing, there have been times I meant something else. If he really did mean ‘humbled’ then you know he’s a ‘swipe; hit the ignore button.

  30. Toothless

    #1: You know, I can totally see “I hope this has been a humbling experience for you” being an attempt at a joke that went horribly awry.

    This very day I said to someone, “Aren’t you glad I’m here to solve all your problems?” — but (1) it was in person, so tone of voice added meaning, and (2) it was after I had screwed something up and asked her to fix it for me.

    So I don’t know the guy, but it’s possible that his intended meaning fell into the sarchasm and was never seen again.

      1. Toothless

        Not original to me — it came from a contributor to a Washington Post contest a while back. (Same contest that gave us reintarnation: coming back to life as a hillbilly.)

  31. Student

    #2
    The one time I was pressured to share a hotel room for a business trip under circumstances that I regard as odious, I payed for a private hotel room myself, then complained to the boss. The boss swiftly got me a refund of my room cost. I know that’s not feasible for all circumstances, but if the trip is an opportunity that you value enough, then paying for yourself can be worthwhile. At the time, I got an extremely cheap hotel room that was below my per diem allotment anyway.

    I threw in a comment about a (genuine) medical concern I had about sharing a hotel room to make my boss feel extra terrible.

    For my situation, the conference organizers were booking us to shared rooms with random, same-gender people who were also attending the conference. I find sharing a hotel room with a total stranger of any gender to be far worse than sharing a hotel room with an acquaintance of opposite gender; at least I’ll have future opportunities for revenge if the acquaintance does something stupid.

  32. Purr purr purr

    #2
    For sure I’d be saying something about it OP and insisting for my own room. If they have the money to send you all away then they should have the money for suitable accommodation. For me, personally, if they refused to agree to change the sleeping arrangements then I wouldn’t even go but then I say that as someone who was raped by a work colleague. It astounds me that some companies would even consider mixed sleeping arrangements considering rapists are ‘ordinary’ everyday people and not walking around with a neon RAPIST! sign on their heads (not that I’m saying your colleagues are rapists, just that you would never know until it’s too late!)

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