a horrible coworker listed me as a job reference, my company won’t pay for meals on work travel, and more

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

1. A horrible coworker listed me as a job reference

This past year, I worked with a woman fresh out of college who was lazy. She dropped a roll of tape and it rolled away from her and she asked me to walk over and get it for her because “I’m too lazy.” She didn’t like to do her assigned tasks and frequently left them for others to do. She claimed she was “too old” for some of her job duties. I am 15 years older than her and I do those duties as well. She also spent hours of work time taking Buzzfeed quizzes on shared computers without deleting her browsing history. At the time, I was an equal as far as our job titles. She has since “resigned” and I have been promoted to the director position.

Yesterday a friend of mine sent me a message that this woman has used me as a reference on her job application to a university. I have several concerns: (1) She didn’t ask and I cannot give a positive reference. (2) I am in my first professional managerial position and want to handle this professionally. (3) I do not want to be associated with her professionally and am wondering if I should contact her about not using my name on her job applications.

The fact that she’s listed you as a reference doesn’t imply you’ve endorsed her work, so I wouldn’t worry too much about that, but if you want to, it’s certainly reasonable to contact her and say, “Hey, I had a heads-up that you listed me as a reference on a recent job application. I don’t feel that I can provide a positive reference, so please don’t provide my name.” But you’re not obligated to do that. If she’s ridiculous enough to handle a job that way and then list you as a reference … well, there’s an argument to not protecting her from the natural consequences of that decision, which are that if you’re contacted to speak about her work, you’ll tell the truth. You’d certainly be doing future employers a favor.

(And yes, people can and do change their work habits — but I don’t think that’s happened yet here, as evidenced by her lack of self-awareness in listing your name.)

2. Company won’t pay for meals on work travel

I just started working for a company that now wants me to travel 400+ miles each way four times a year on a non-work day (Saturday). I don’t mind the travel, but today I have an issue with Saturday and was told they will reimburse for gas and hotel only, no per diem, no meals, no miles or extras. Is this legal? Why would I spend my own money to travel to meetings on behalf of a company I am only an employee for?

Yes, it’s legal. It’s normal for companies to reimburse for gas or mileage, but not both (mileage is supposed to include gas costs, as well as wear and tear). It would be smart of them to reimburse for meals while you’re away, since not doing so is likely to cause resentment. It would be reasonable for you to say something like, “I’m glad to do this travel, but I’m finding it costs me about $X each time for meal costs that I wouldn’t incur at home, where I have a kitchen. Since that’s an expense that I’m paying only because of the trip, I’d like to submit those expenses for reimbursement. Maybe we could agree on a daily limit for meals?”

That said, if they refuse, we’re talking about four days a year. If you otherwise like your job, it might be worth dealing with, annoying as it is.

3. My phone interview was canceled and hasn’t been rescheduled yet

I am a graduate student looking for full-time work (I have one class to complete my MA). I have been applying like mad to multiple places that are in my field, outside of my field in interesting, relevant positions, all entry level. I finally got a hit back from a place I was really interested in for an entry level position and they arranged a Skype interview.

12 hours before it was supposed to happen, I received an email from a department head saying that they needed to reschedule my interview to another time and to forward my availability to someone else. I did that, and 72 hours have passed. I had one phone number available from my initial email contact with the HR recruiter, so I called it and left a message and still have not gotten a response.

The position still shows as open. Is this something that normally happens? They responded very quickly to my resume/cover letter after submitting it (4 days) which was incredibly encouraging. I am working on other applications, but this company has a culture/work ethic/style that I would love to be a part of.

Yes, it’s pretty common. Hopefully they’ll get back in touch with you, but it’s possible that they’ve since moved on with other candidates and aren’t bothering to tell you — which is rude but widespread.

What often happens in this situation is that they simply find other promising candidates who meet their bar for in-person interviews, and they’re moving forward with those. If you’re better than those, they might still get back in touch — but they don’t have reason to think you’ll be more competitive than those, they might not. Alternately, they might still get back to you but just have higher priorities to deal with right now. There’s no real way to know — but your best bet is to follow up by email one more time (a week after the first email) and then put it out of your mind and move on.

4. Including a leadership role in Toastmasters on my resume

I’ve read a previous post that mentioned the benefits of including Toastmasters on a resume. My question is more related to how to include it on a resume.

I’m currently the president of my club, which means I manage every aspect of the club. My club has struggled for years, and the last time we had any type of recognizable status was in 2011. However, my club is currently on pace to achieve nine out of 10 goals this term (we currently have met five goals and we’re just about halfway through the term).

I don’t have any managerial skills. Being a manager with my current employer is too political and doesn’t really allow for real change, so I tend to avoid manager jobs. However, I think it would be great to showcase what type of leader I am and help strengthen me as a candidate in roles that require similar skills. How should I include this on my resume? Should I add my role as president like I would any other job or put it somewhere else? I essentially want to be able to show all that the club has achieved during my term.

I wouldn’t include it in your employment history section, since it’s not really a job in that sense. But you can absolutely include it in a Community Involvement or Miscellaneous section or something like that, with one line describing the accomplishments you talked about above.

5. We were told we’d have the holiday off and now might have to work it

I was at work with two other employees discussing the Thanksgiving break. My boss walked up as we were talking about it and said, “No one has to worry about getting the day off. We are closed that day, and the day after Thanksgiving.” A week later, his wife kept trying to get him to keep the store open (after we had been told that we get the day off, and everyone has made plans by now). The schedule is still not up for the next week of work (the work week goes Sunday-Saturday).

Is it legal for him to make us work after hes verbally told everyone the store will be closed that day? Also, he told his wife that if she could get people to work that day, then we would stay open. Her way of getting a crew for the day was calling and saying, “You’re working on Friday now,” not caring they already told us we have the day off, and that we have made plans, have flights purchased and everything.

Yes, that’s legal — but you can certainly push back and explain that you already made other commitments and purchased plane tickets because he had assured you that you would have the day off.

{ 112 comments… read them below }

  1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

    #3, 72 hours is not long…hopefully the person just hasn’t had a chance to get to this item or work you into their calendar. The normal turnaround time for hiring related emails is longer than other business communications. I hope it works out for you. Good luck!

    1. #3 Op*

      Thanks for your words of encouragement. I actually heard back after emailing the person who is supposed to give me the interview not the one coordinating it- apparently his assistant dropped the ball a bit. I may have been a bit too proactive but hopefully that will reflect well on me. :)

  2. fposte*

    On #1–you really wouldn’t have to say much. If you said “She didn’t ask me about putting my name down as a reference, and I would have advised her not to,” that might be all I’d need to hear from you if I were calling. I might double-check that there wasn’t a misunderstanding or delve more if it had been years ago that she’d worked for you, but if somebody who worked with a candidate just last year got put on as a reference unwittingly and misleadingly, that’s likely to be a deal-breaker right there.

    1. Kara*


      That, and you can always give the standard “The only information I feel comfortable sharing with you is her dates of employment and job title” response. It would be a professional way to handle it that wouldn’t get you or your company in any trouble and would signal to the reference checker that you can’t really give her a positive recommendation.

      Past that, I agree, I wouldn’t want to be a reference for her either. Horribly unprofessional of her not to ask and just put your name down, on top of the less than mature work behavior she demonstrated while working with you.

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        Having been in that position myself, I said, “I don’t think I have any information that can help you”. While not as professional as what you said, it did make me feel better because it was saying that the person sucks. I was once at a company that had a policy that the only reference we could give a former employee was name, title, and dates worked. Completely unenforceable, but I’m a rules girl and always followed it. So when letting someone know, “do NOT hire this person”, I feel the need to be a little more forceful.

        Whatever you do, resist the urge to unload in a reference call, OP#1. If and when you get called, I can tell you from experience that it’ll be very tempting.

        1. Grand Mouse*

          What’s the harm in giving an honest head’s up to the potential employer? People here are suggesting implying it instead of saying it outright but isn’t that the point of a reference? Also, specifically knowing the employee’s weakness might help. Some managers might tolerate certain flaws better than others. To be fair, I’ve never served as a reference.

          1. GrumpyBoss*

            why do you think that the examples given are not honest heads up to an employer?

            Opening up about why you don’t like someone can make you look petty and unprofessional. OP did mention she was concerned about how it made her look that this person listed her as a reference. Complaining to a stranger that she had to chase down a roll of tape doesn’t help, and it is a waste of the hiring company’s time.

            If you keep it short and sweet, both parties get what they want.

            1. MissM*

              There is nothing unprofessional about giving an honest, factual reference in which you discuss the employees strengths (if any) and weaknesses. It’s not “complaining” about the person, but discussing how they performed as an employee. I agree she shouldn’t mention the tape thing, but saying that she didn’t complete her assigned work, leaving co-workers to finish it, would be a completely professional thing to say as a reference. There’s no need to hint.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              You wouldn’t open up about why you don’t like someone, but it’s fine to give a candid reference that explains the person’s performance. I certainly want other employers to be candid with me, so I’m candid with them. That’s not unprofessional, as long as you keep it focused on work and work habits and not personal dislikes.

    2. Graciosa*

      I think that’s a nice way of handling it. I’m not crazy about the proposals to fall back to dates and title of employment because it makes it hard for the reference checker to distinguish between someone following the rules at a large company and someone who is trying to signal that there’s a problem with the employee.

      I tend to be in the camp of being honest about real performance issues as long as you’re being fair and balanced about it. One of the old Vanderbilt etiquette books has a nice example of a reference for a dishonest maid, along the lines of “We did have some issues with money disappearing while she was with us, but Mabel was always very good with the children and if you’re not careless about leaving cash accessible she might work out for you.”

      Something that would be an instant deal-breaker for one employer may not be a big deal for another – but I feel that if I would want the information as a potential employer, I need to suck it up and provide it to other potential employers, even when it’s not unambiguously positive.

      1. fposte*

        Agreed–I would give more if I were asked. But since the OP seemed uncomfortable at the prospect, I think it’s worth giving examples of answers that can convey useful information without going into detail, too.

        Of course, it’s quite possible she’ll never get called. Somebody like this might not be making it to the reference stage.

  3. jordanjay29*

    #5 – As much as I sympathize (and I really do, I worked retail for three years), it’s quite common for retail to be open on Black Friday. It’s also very common for every single employee to be working Black Friday, the only person I ever saw get out of it was 8 months pregnant. I’m honestly very surprised that your owner suggested the store wouldn’t be open on that day, although it’s a pretty dick move to change his mind so late, considering that people make plans for travel.

    You could inform the owner that you won’t be able to work on Friday due to travel plans, including non-refundable plane tickets. If you’re required to work anyway you may have to weigh the benefits of this job versus your desired outcomes, e.g. if family travel time is important to you around Thanksgiving, then a retail job is probably not the best source of income.

    1. WorkerBee*

      It could be a store where being open on Black Friday doesn’t matter much, eg a small mom and pop grocery store or the like.

      1. jordanjay29*

        The smaller store was the impression I got, but if there is one constant in the retail business, it’s that you will be open for Black Friday and you will be working. Any exceptions to this are rarities. Hence my suggestion that retail probably isn’t the best source of work if you’re really not inclined to be at work on Black Friday.

        1. MK*

          I don’t get the impression that the OP (or her coworkers) objects to working during the holidays as such.

        2. Tenley*

          Why are you insisting this is retail or suggesting that virtually everyone always works on Black Friday? Obviously basically everyone outside of Big Box workers or food service have it off.

          1. Sunshine*

            I got the same impression that it’s a retail job, since the OP refers to “the store”. Either way, there are LOTS of industries in which working on that fay is the norm. I wouldn’t say “basically everyone has it off”.

            1. Black friday*

              Yeah, my husband is in tech support. Works with hand-held scanners, which obviously need support during the holiday season since they are used heavily in retail. His whole office doesn’t have to work, but there is a rotating schedule to keep it fair year after year. He’s not in retail, but occasionally does have to work on Black Friday.

              1. Dmented Kitty*

                I second that. I used to work corporate IT at one Big Box electronic retail company, the holiday months (Nov-Dec) are the busiest, and everyone is on call 24/7 during these times to make sure all websites and internal systems are up and running during these busy shopping months. As if doesn’t make things any easier, any code fixes are under close scrutiny and tons of red tape before it even gets deployed — because, you know, it might break something that’s already broken that you are trying to fix. Ugh.

            2. Emily*

              Most fast-food/fast-casual places call themselves “stores” internally. I used to work at a certain sandwich shop cahin owned by an infamous hunter of endangered species and friend of Candidate Romney. One day without thinking, I referred to our location as a “restaurant” in a conversation with our General Manager and he nearly doubled over with laughter and said, “Hilarious, I love that you think this is a restaurant.”

          2. Diet Coke Addict*

            Yeah, I think it’s actually very common to work the Friday after Thanksgiving. I think many people choose to take it off as a vacation day (holidays, families, etc.), but it’s not a holiday by itself or anything. And the OP does say it’s a store.

            1. Chuchundra*

              We get two flex holidays a year and the day after Thanksgiving is always one of them.

              I have to work that day this year anyway, but I get holiday pay for it.

          3. fposte*

            Do you mean office workers? It’s true that most, if not all, offices are closed, but even in my smallish town, most retail is open on Friday, not because it’s Black Friday but because they’re open Fridays. Same with Saturday. The four-day weekend over Thanksgiving is, I think, mostly an office and education phenomenon.

          4. Elizabeth West*

            Not me; I’ll be working it too, but in an office. I suspect it will be very quiet. I’d take it off, but 1) I don’t have the PTO to go anywhere, and 2) my family isn’t doing anything because some of them are traveling elsewhere.

          5. Meg*

            I work in a hospital and I certainly don’t have it off. I think most people choose to take a vacation day on Black Friday, especially if they are seeing family out of town.

        3. Kate*

          We don’t know what type of shop it is. It could be a pet shop, repair shop or hairdresser. All are refered to as “shops”.

          1. Melissa*

            She did say “store,” not shop. And a pet store is still retail.

            I think assuming that it is retail isn’t a huge leap in logic, but assuming that it absolutely is open on Black Friday could be – there are smaller retail establishments that are not open on Black Friday, and there are others that are but don’t get involved in the purchasing frenzy that requires all hands on deck (like a small independent bookstore or a hardware store).

    2. Jessa*

      It’s one thing to be open. It’s another to tell everyone you are going to be closed, and then change your mind and expect that to be reasonable. Most companies that are open are very clear in advance that A: they are open and that B: there will be no leave and if you call out you better have medical proof because you were warned we needed everybody. Heck there are companies who will fire anyone who does not show up even if they do have medical proof. It’s outrageous, but it’s happened.

      The issue here is not being open it’s telling people you are closed, letting them make plans, and then changing your mind. Boss should have told Wife of Boss that they’d “already told the staff they were off, and certainly they could be open next year, but NO we aren’t doing that to our employees. Sorry.”

      1. jordanjay29*

        Indeed, it’s a 100% guaranteed douchebag move. Hopefully this isn’t a husband/wife passive-aggressive tag team move, because it really sounds like that. Like the owner wanted to save face in front of his employees, so he let his wife be the bad guy in making them work after all.

          1. hayling*

            Yes! My first job was for a very small family-owned company, and the husband and wife were always contradicting each other.

        1. firestarter*

          I’m wondering if the wife is even part of the company? Haven’t we read letters where a spouse will influence an employee/employer’s decision (I’m blanking on specific examples) even though they don’t work/own the company?

          Maybe my marriage is different, but I can’t imagine my husband interfering with my job on such a level, or vice versa.

          1. Traveler*

            I think it’s very different if this is a company the husband owns vs. one he works at though. Even if the wife is not directly involved – owning a company, where so much of your livelihood and finances depend on decisions like this? Often there are loans and second mortgages and credit scores hanging in the balance that can dramatically change both their lives and have an effect on her just as much as him, depending on the circumstances.

            I think I’d be offended if my husband didn’t involve me in major decisions that could change our finances. If this is a retail location, deciding to be closed on one of the biggest shopping days of the year, where there is significant potential for revenue, is a big decision.

            That said, the husband already made a decision and should stick by it.

            1. Traveler*

              Oh, I will add though – if she is not part owner/employee of company, the boss’ decision to let her call employees and tell them they’re working, also out of line.

    3. Black friday*

      If I were an employee there and had planned to stay local I would talk with the other employees who had plane tickets and offer to work that day so they could have off in exchange for them covering for me sometime in the future. Then I’d go to the boss and tell them that since I was staying local and others had purchased plane tickets, I’d be willing to be one of the people coming in so that someone with tickets could keep their plans, but I’d also ask for more notice in the future so we could plan better and not be put in a dificult position and potentially out the money. Hopefully I’d win some points with the boss and my coworkers at the same time.

      If I already had tickets I’d talk with my boss and coworkers about working something out so I didn’t lose my money, possibly offering to work a holiday in the future or cover saturday shifts for someone for a couple of weeks in exchange.

      The boss really should try try to find a solution like the above that worked for everyone, or keep my word and not open at all. Doesn’t sound like that’s going to happen though.

    4. Artemesia*

      I agree with this in a sense that anyone in retail should expect to be working on that Friday. I have a relative who was the CEO of a major national retail chain. I remember when we had Thanksgiving with him that he was up at 4 am the next day getting ready to drive to the most distant store in the region to begin his stop bys of some of his major stores. It was a ‘be perfect, all hands on deck’ day for them and as CEO he carried the flag and everyone knew to expect that and have everything in perfect shape that day.

      1. Artemesia*

        On the other hand — having told people the store would be closed and allowed them to buy airline tickets etc, it is a dick move to change it. I’d probably go and look for a new retail job after the holidays if I felt I could do that.

      2. Melissa*

        Not all retail outlets are large national chains, and not all retail outlets are the type that are crazy profitable because of the kick-off of the holiday season. Nobody’s lining up outside of ACE Hardware, the small independent bookseller around the corner, or the small fabric & yarn store to buy “deeply” (by which I mean “a small amount, and sometimes not really at all”) discounted gifts for their friends and family – so those shops might operate more normally for Black Friday.

        1. Emily*

          Exactly – some of those smaller shops simply don’t have the profit margin to slash prices on Black Friday. Since they know everyone will be out shopping for discounts they can’t afford to offer, these small shops might actually see less business than a typical Friday and it might make more sense to save the labor/energy costs of being open. The next day is Small Business Saturday where they’re more likely to get increased traffic.

    5. Manda*

      I empathize with OP#5. I hate how retailers expect some notice if you want to book a day off, but don’t reciprocate when there’s going to be unusual hours, or they change people’s schedules without letting them know. The decision to be open or not should be made in advance and it is absolutely unfair to change that decision once the schedule is up. I’m curious whether this store was open on Black Friday in the past.

      Canada Day (July 1) is a weird holiday. Most businesses are closed on that day if falls during the week, but I think some will take a Friday or Monday off instead to make a long weekend, or some people take an extra day or two off and make an extra-long weekend out of it. Stores are always closed that day (or so I thought). One year it happened to land on Sunday and I was soooo looking forward to having a Sunday off because I didn’t get too many. Turns there’s some loophole in the law that allows stores to close on the Monday instead. WTF? There was absolutely no reason we should have been expected to know that. So people got scheduled after making plans, not thinking they needed to book off. We should have been told in advance, plain and simple.

      Sometimes we had these Moonlight Madness sales where we’d stay open until midnight on a Friday and have crazy deals all evening. Of course, they never let us know when they were coming, probably so people wouldn’t try to book off, but there were probably people who made after-work plans and had to reschedule.

      Then there were the times we stayed open 24 hours before Christmas. No warning until about the week before. They put up signs asking for volunteers to work overnight, stating they’d pick people if they didn’t get enough. Totally unreasonable to expect that at the last minute, especially when a lot of your staff are in school. Oh but we had to give at least two weeks noticed to book days off. Not. Fair. We should have at least got two weeks warning if we were going to be open weird hours.

      1. Emily*

        In the US all federal holidays that fall on weekends are “observed” on Monday, mostly because the majority of federal employees don’t work weekends, so that way they still get their day off. But unlike your country it’s not an option for the employers’ discretion, that’s just what day the federal holiday is given every year.

        1. Manda*

          And that makes sense when it’s a M-F business that’s closed on the weekend holiday anyway. It’s just screwed up when a 7-day business can stay open on a holiday and observe it on another day, especially when staff aren’t told about the weird scheduling rules.

  4. UKAnon*

    #2 – It sounds like you’re only travelling for the one day, in which case I think it would be easy enough to make food before you leave that you can eat on the trip. Some sandwiches/crisps/fruit, maybe a salad and/or some slices of cold pizza are all perfectly good ‘picnic’ food that could be eaten on the trip to save you the cost of buying food.

    If it were more than one day, I would be more inclined to ask about covering some of the costs, but if it is just the Saturday it seems reasonable to me to expect you to bring food with you or make a choice to spend extra buying food.

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      I’ve never had a job where I didn’t get a per diem for travel, but I think you are right. It would cost you money if you were home and preparing food in your own kitchen too. It is very possible to pack food and eat on the road cheap, especially if you are gone for less than 24 hours.

      If be more annoyed that I was only being reimbursed for gas instead of the IRS rate of 56 cents/mile, but your recourse there is to deduct it from taxes. I think. Not an accountant.

      1. ConstructionHR*

        Yeah, and the IRS daily per diem rate for most areas is $46. The problem with taking the expenses off the taxes is that there is a 2% AGI threshold.

        1. fposte*

          Going back to a previous post–that’s one of the advantages with the charitable giving through work, is that you get the tax benefit without having to itemize deductions.

      2. Emily*

        In order to deduct business expenses, you have to itemize your deductions. You can only itemize if your total deductions are greater than the IRS standard deduction and greater than 2% of AGI. Standard deduction for a typical unmarried/single filer in 2013 was $6100, so unless OP has more than $6K of business/charitable/real estate/medical/other deductible expenses, that recourse isn’t available. (Most people don’t itemize deductions unless they have a mortgage, lost a shit ton of money on the stock market this year, or have a rack of massive medical bills.)

        1. A different Emily*

          CPA here. The 0nly deductions that are subject to the 2% rule are “miscellaneous itemized deductions” which include unreimbursed employee expense, among other things. Charitable deductions, mortgage interest, and real estate taxes are not subject to the 2% although to get any benefit they must be greater than the standard deduction.

          I assume by “business expenses” you are talking about unreimbursed employee expenses. Expenses of a business that you are the owner of are reported on Schedule C and have no relation to itemized deductions.

          Losing money on the stock market is also not an itemized deduction. Capital gains and losses are reported on Schedule D.

    2. BethRA*

      The company is paying for a hotel, though, which means this is more than a day trip. It’s still more than possible for OP2 to make/bring their own food, but that doesn’t mean it’s reasonable for the company to put them in that position.

    3. Traveler*

      I was also wondering, if they are paying for the hotel – is it possible to request somewhere that includes breakfast? or snack offerings through the day? You might be able to find something in the same price range that offers food included. Though, this would be harder if the corporation is larger and has specific companies/hotels they work with.

      1. Emily*

        I love ordering room service and charging expenses to my room when I’m traveling on business. Partly because there’s nothing better than having hot upscale-restaurant food (as opposed to pizza/Chinese) delivered to your bedroom while you’re in pajamas, and partly because it makes submitting my travel expenses so much easier! Just one hotel bill to submit instead of a pile of receipts.

  5. ITPuffNStuff*

    #3 — I would not necessarily assume this will only be a matter of paying for 4 days worth of meals out per year. More than likely a company that expects employees to travel for business at their own expense also has other problems, such as insufficient operating expenses, a basic lack of respect for employees (which can make for a bad job in lots of different ways).

    1. MK*

      But you are assuming a host of other problems that the OP didn’t even hint at. Also, to say that the company expects employees to pay for business travel is inaccurate to say they least; it covers both transportation and accommodation expenses. Not paying for meals may seem a bit stingy, but if the employees leave on Friday afternoon, spend the night in the remote location, work there Saturday and return home on Saturday afternoon, we are talking about one supper and maybe breakfast, four times a year. I am guessing that’s the timeline, since the OP mentions both that it’s one day and that there is an overnight stay.

      1. neverjaunty*

        And if that’s all it is, a handful of meals, then why isn’t the company covering that tiny expense?

        This sounds like a business that is a textbook example of “penny wise, puns foolish”.

        1. MK*

          I agree, I just don’t think it’s logical to jump to the conclusion that there are other problems the OP didn’t even hint at, specially not something like insufficient operating expenses!

      2. Mochafrap512*

        I don’t know how many times a day you eat, but I need more food. that’s not just one supper and one breakfast. Friday night dinner, Saturday breakfast, lunch, dinner, Sunday breakfast (possibly lunch depending on how long it takes to travel).

        1. MK*

          If you read my comment, you will see I was working with the assumption that you are on your way home on Saturday; the OP mentions working and traveling on a Saturday, not Sunday. In fact, since the OP says Saturday is a non-work day, it’s possible that they are back home for Saturday lunch. An argument could be made for Saturday lunch, but it’s certainly not a whole weekend’s worth of meals.

  6. Apollo Warbucks*

    #2 The firm I work for won’t pay for lunch if you’re only traveling for the day, as you would be buying your own lunch anyway, either by going to a deli or bring something with you from home. That said it would be a nice gesture from your firm if they let you claim lunch. It’s maybe worth asking but you’re not really losing out on anything if they say no.

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      We are the same way….no lunch for one day trips, unless it would be hard/awkward/antisocial to eat lunch you brought. If you are “forced” to eat out, we’ll pay for it (nonprofit…almost everyone brings their lunch everyday)

      1. doreen*

        I don’t get reimbursed for lunch ever . I get a per diem for overnight trips, but it’s broken down into amounts for breakfast and dinner ( because on the first and last day of travel we may be only eligible for one of them). But I’m wondering how it could be a day trip if it’s over 400 miles each way – that would be at least 5 or 6 hours of driving each way.

        1. Chuchundra*

          At highway speed, without accounting for traffic or pit stops, it’s at least six hours each way. And that’s if you’re on higher speed thruways and have a bit of a heavy foot on the gas pedal. Realistically, it’s more like eight to ten hours each way, depending on the route, traffic and bladder capacity.

          At four hundred miles each way, the company should be paying for plane tickets. But they expect the OP to drive herself in her own car at her own expense because they’re cheapskates.

          1. Laufey*

            Or it could be driving in areas that are not really accessible by plane. There are a lot of areas in the midwest and south where even the nearest local/regional airport is a couple hours away. My company has a lot a client in these more remote areas. If we flew to visit them, we’d have to connect at least once, possibly twice, and then still drive two or three hours to get there. Or, we could just drive six, seven, eight hours, take the same amount of time or less, and have more control over travel (no dropped flights, ability to reroute, etc.).

            And she’s not driving at her expense – they’re paying her gas (and presumably they’re paying her. I hope they are). It’s not unreasonable. Covering meals would be more reasonable (and I would cover them), but it’s not like they’re being totally horrible here.

            1. Chuchundra*

              Yes, it’s possible that there’s no convenient airport. And if she’s out in the midwest somewhere, the drive probably isn’t that bad.

              On the other hand, just paying for gas is still shifting a good amount of the cost off on the OP. 800 miles of unreimbursed wear and tear on your personal vehicle is a significant sum. Especially if you’re going to be doing this four times a year. Gas for a 800 mile trip would be around $100, give or take depending on gas prices and make of car. IRS reimbursement rate would be $448.

              Plus I assume she’s not going to get paid extra for the travel time. Just another freebie for the employer.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                If she’s non-exempt, she does have to be paid for the travel time. But if she’s exempt, that’s just how exempt positions work; it’s not really a freebie, just the way the terms of exempt employment work.

                1. MK*

                  I think there is some odd wording on the question. The OP says

                  “today I have an issue with Saturday and was told they will reimburse for gas and hotel only, no per diem, no meals, no miles or extras”

                  It sounds almost as if the OP is generally ok with the reimbursements, but there is an “issue” this particular time. Maybe the OP is usually on their way home on Saturday, but they can’t leave this time and have to spent the night, but the company is only willing to pay for the hotel and gas, but not anything else. In which case the company could be reasonable, if the delay depends on the OP, or unreasonable, if it is work-related, or somewhere in the middle, if it’s something out of anyone’s control, like the weather.

                2. Kyrielle*

                  MK – point, but what my company would do in the case that the employee caused the delay, is they would still pay IRS rate for mileage (not just gas) and would pay hotel and per diem for the time I was supposed to be there and the time traveling back, but would _not_ pay hotel and per diem for the extra time I stayed.

                  (In point of fact, I had a lovely visit with a college friend once because a company trip took me there, and everyone won, since that extended my stay across two weekends and reduced the price of the airline tickets.)

              2. Emily*

                Yes, that is a LONG drive to expect an employee to make without compensation for wear and tear. The nationwide average miles per year put on a car is currently 1500 miles. She’s being expected to put her car through slightly more than 6 months’ worth of driving in a single day. Even if she drove no other times but these 4 times a year, she’d be driving double the nationwide average.

                Of course, if they reimbursed for mileage, they’d quickly see that a plane ticket would be on par or cheaper than the ~$450 mileage rate. But they’re just giving her $100 for gas. How “clever” of them =/

          2. Crow*

            The problem is that a 400 mile trip would still be 6 or so hours flying. Show up to the airport 2 hours early, plus whatever drive time to get to an airport. Then flight time, then getting through the destination airport, getting a car, driving to the site. We have a rule of thumb that we only get flights if you’re looking at 12+ hours of driving. In addition, we are often getting last minute flights, so that’s usually a good chunk of change.

            If we’re getting paid for travel, driving can often be cheaper in the end.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              12+ hours driving is a really high bar! Five or six feels reasonable to me — and you can work or read on the plane, as opposed to spending literally all the time behind a wheel of a car.

              1. A. Nother Teacher*

                Can you please tell that to my school district. :)

                They expect me to drive 12 hours to a conference and got really grumpy when I inquired about either flying or breaking it into a 2-day drive. The first year they paid for a hotel there and back, but then refused to do it again. The next year I did the same, but paid the hotel out of pocket.

                Now I just refuse to attend that conference.

                1. Bea W*

                  Make a business case. If they are reimbursing you for mileage, price out the cost of flying or taking the train and show them how much money they save by springing for a ticket. Depends where you live and where the conference is, but to continue with my usual travel between Boston and DC, that’s usually not more than $250 to fly and upwards of $500 to drive my own car if reimbursed at the IRS rate of $.56/mi plus the cost of tolls, and if you are looking at a 12+ hour drive, it’s going to be much more. Renting a car for the entire time isn’t going to be much less expensive than any other mode of transportation at that distance with the rental fees, tolls, and gas.

                2. A. Nother Teacher*

                  Making the business case was my first push-back. But the cost of flying vs. mileage is roughly equal and the financial director has a hang-up that flying “looks bad” to the community. (Even though other school districts in my area have their teachers fly to this conference.) plus they only pay one person mileage and expect the others to carpool, so flying would be much more expensive if more than one person attended, which is usually the case.

                  I also tried pointing out that driving four hours past the regular work day is asking too much and a bit unsafe, but that got nowhere either. The financial department’s entire attitude is suck it up or don’t go.

                  The drive is really insane. It’s not just the 12 hours, but part of it’s up over a very twisty mountain pass. It’s not easy driving. I love the conference, and there isn’t another one around like it, but I finally just stopped going because the drive made me so nuts.

                3. Bea W*

                  It’s unfortunate that the number crunchers too often don’t get anything that you can’t easily quantify in $$$, like employee sanity, health, and safety, all of which do cost, but don’t come with handy invoices or receipts.

            2. Bea W*

              Companies I worked for preferred flying or train for that distance. It’s less expensive than reimbursing mileage, though that may depends on where you live. For flying domestic 400 miles direct, you’re looking at arriving 1 hour prior to flight time and 1 hour in the air. That’s a flight I do regularly as well, my total travel time door to door is well under 6 hours even accounting for getting to the airport and then getting from the airport to my final destination. Actually, I’m
              doing this tomorrow. I’ll be leaving my house around 9:45 AM and assuming departing on time, will be at my final destination a bit after 1 PM. I have a 20 min commute to/from the airports at both ends and check a bag…and Dulles…Dulles just makes things extra long due to the layout. I could shave off a good 10-15 minutes if I didn’t have to walk a 1/2 mile and get a train to the baggage claim/taxi line.

              I have to say, if my employer ever expected me to drive 12 hours anywhere, I’d be hard pressed not to tell them the exact spot where they can KMA. That’s unreasonable unless you’re literally a truck driver.

        2. Bea W*

          400 miles is the driving distance between Boston and Baltimore. I’ve driven a lot from Boston to Richmond and points in between (So. NJ, Baltimore, DC area MD/VA). So I speak from experience. 5 hours requires averaging 80 mph for the trip, which is just not possible without risking life, limb, and huge fines (it’s also terrible on fuel economy). 6 hours is possible under super ideal circumstances only, averaging 66 mph – consider you will at least need to make one stop for gas, slow for tolls, and obviously not going to be on the highway 100% of the time. On the highway you’ll need a lead foot and EZ Pass.

          In reality that particular trip actually takes 7-8 hours. I have only made it through Baltimore at 6 hours ONCE ever, in the idealest of ideal conditions – leaving at 7 AM on a Sunday in the dead of winter where the temps in the northeast had been hovering around 0F for about a month. No one in their right mind was out traveling anywhere, and I flew down the northeast corridor making record time I have never been able to replicate. I was on my way to making it all the way to Richmond in under 10 hours, but then it started snowing when I hit VA, and it was all over. :/

          1. loxthebox*

            You don’t have to kill yourself to drive 400 miles in 5 hours. I made the 400 mi drive on I-90 across South Dakota many times in 5 hours, 6 with stops. It really depends on where the person is traveling to and from.

            1. Dmented Kitty*

              LOL in Manila eight hours of driving will probably take you a little over a hundred miles. I cannot fathom how long it will take to navigate 4000 miles of the clusterfudge you call Manila streets.

              1. Bea W*

                It took me 5 hours to drive about 110 miles east of LA. 80 miles of that was solid bumper-to-bumper traffic. I have NEVER been stuck in traffic that was bumper to bumper uninterrupted for 80 miles. WTH LA?!

            2. Bea W*

              Yeh no way you’re getting 400 in 5 hours around here. Like I said, that’s an average of driving 80 mph (400/5 = 80). That’s possible in the less densely populated areas of the country where you can speed along 80+, but elsewhere there are other people using the road and speed limits are 55 or 65 mph. People still speed, but rule of thumb is pretty much 10 over and/or matching the speed of everyone else around you.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I think the mention of the non-work day makes it initially read like all the driving is on Saturday, but I’m with you in thinking that that’s one of the days, not that she has to do 800+ miles in one day.

          1. MK*

            I am also thinking that, since the OP seems to be bothered with Saturday specifically, it’s possible that they drove there on Thursday during the work day, worked Friday, but didn’t head back till the following morning. That would make sense; if you have a drive of 6+ hours ahead, you don’t reasonably start after 5pm, unless there is a reason.

  7. Weasel007*

    #1. Unless you want to continue getting calls as her reference (regardless on what you actually tell them), I’d send a note to the former worker and be very clear. Either “I cannot give you a good reference because of x,y,z'” AND “please do not list me as your reference again.”

  8. Brett*

    #1 Might want to tread carefully with contacting the former co-worker solely on the basis of what the friend said. Since this was a university, there is a possibility the friend violated workplace confidentiality rules at the university. If this is a public university, the friend might have broken closed records laws. While it is unlikely the co-worker will put this together and bring a compliant, I still think the OP has to be careful about jeopardizing their friend’s position because of the type of workplace involved.

    1. MK*

      I agree, not so much because of the fear of reprecussions, but because it feels like a huge overreaction to call and complain to someone over something that is hearsay and might be annoying in the future or might never even happen.

    2. Cassie*

      But theoretically, the OP would find out about being a reference anyway – as soon as a prospective employer calls the OP and asks about the applicant. (Assuming that the OP is listed as a reference – is there a reason why the friend would lie?)

      1. Kyrielle*

        Cassie – but OP might never be called. This person has to first make it to the stage where the company/university checks references.

        If I were the OP, I would wait to give the former co-worker the heads-up until I was first called as a reference, if then. After all, if they ask how the OP knew about it, “I was called by (Potential Employer Name)!” is a nice clear answer that should get no one in trouble.

        And that’s if OP wants to give the former co-worker a heads up. That might be an uncomfortable conversation; I might, personally, avoid it and just keep giving an honest reference on the (likely rare) occasions when I got a call.

  9. Graciosa*

    Regarding #4, I agree with Alison about the placement, but I wanted to add that you should think about the actual accomplishments underlying your performance in this role and how to use those in an interview. The fact that you will meet 9 of 10 goals does not really tell me anything about your performance – but if one of your goals was to increase membership by 10% after years of steady declines, and you increased it by 15%, that’s an achievement you can talk about during a job interview.

    Good luck in your job search –

    1. Emily*

      As someone who screens resumes but knows nothing about Toastmasters, I also wouldn’t know whether 9/10 was good or not. Do most clubs complete all 10? Is the nationwide average that most clubs only complete 5 or 6? Has the club always completed about 9/10 in past years?

      1. Kat M*

        Yeah, OP4, definitely describe the DCP points in detail. Some of them (like getting your officers trained and turning in your dues on time) aren’t that impressive, but increasing membership, helping members work through their educational programs, etc. are more meaningful.

        Also, congrats on pulling your club up by its bootstraps! And if you need help meeting the rest of those goals, don’t forget you can always call on your Area Governor for help. :)

        -a fellow TM

  10. Brandy*

    #1, depending how long ago you worked with her, you could give a reference like, “i wasn’t aware she had listed me as a reference. I worked with her right out of school and she had more difficulty adapting to the workforce than other employees of similar age/experience.” Then list what did well, and areas you’d suggest the potential employer vet before making the call to hire. It’s possible she matured, and it’d be nice to give her the benefit of the doubt while
    Leaving it in the hands of the employer to validate.

    1. Armchair Analyst*

      FWIW, this is what I did as a landlord with a former tenant that did not pay the entire rent on time for multiple months in a row. Of course I wanted her to get out and to get to a different place, but I also had to give the next landlord a heads up. I spoke very, very, very specifically about the situation. It was up to the next landlord to consider if things had changed, more screening, etc.

    2. Dan*


      inform the potential employer, but don’t damn the candidate to live with past mistakes forever when they may have outgrown their bad habits.

  11. Seal*

    #1 – I’ve had references for a couple of candidates say rather tersely up front that the candidate had not asked if they could use them as a reference. That statement alone spoke volumes; neither candidate was hired. If I was ever put in the same situation as the OP I would say the same thing. The other thing I would be tempted to say is something to the effect of “given the fact that we didn’t work well together, I’m surprised she would list me as a reference.”

    1. John*

      Even shorter: “I’m surprised she would list me as a reference.” That way, you don’t have to say anything bad about the employee. That speaks volumes.

  12. neverjaunty*

    A friend of mine who was a manager for an employee much like OP #1’s former co-worker had this happen, too. (The former employee had quit just ahead of being fired.) When he got a call out of the asking for a reference, he paused meaningfully and said in a very grave voice, “I’m afraid I’m not sure what I can divulge about his performance without putting us at risk of legal trouble.” The caller got the message loud and clear.

  13. Bea W*

    Legal but really crappy. I’ve done a lot of business travel and not one company I’ve worked for doesn’t reimburse for meals. It expensive to eat out 3 meals a day, never mind snacks and drinks in between. That’s money you would not be laying out at home. I realize depending on the size of the company and the budget, things might be tight but seriously, it’s 4 times a year. It’s something they should be sucking up as the cost of business.

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