manager won’t let me leave on time for physical therapy, what happens after an interview is over, and more

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

1. Manager won’t let me leave on time for physical therapy

Recently I had an accident, and the doctor has ordered me to go to physical therapy twice a week, hopefully to avoid future surgery. I have scheduled my therapy sessions for 7 pm two nights a week. The problem is that my manager often calls me in at two or three minutes to 5 and then proceeds to keep my for quite a while – not doing anything urgent – status updates, that sort of thing. I’ve told him that I need to leave to get to therapy, but he tells me this is more important and I have to stay.

I need to leave at 5 pm in order to make my commute and get to therapy by 7 pm. I get in early, and often stay late, and work weekends as needed. I am in IT, and am an exempt employee. I have been with the company for 17 years, always had good reviews. The issue seems to be that my manager thinks nothing is more important than work. I am not asking for anything special – just being allowed to leave on time two nights a week. I purposely scheduled my therapy sessions for after hours so it is on my time, not the company’s. Its not like I’m asking to take off an hour or two in the afternoon.

I never know if he will call me in or not until 5 pm. Often I am putting my coat on when the phone rings and he summons me in to his office. This results in me cancelling the appointment at the very last minute which is rude to the therapy office too. What should I do?

First, start going by his office an hour or two before you need to leave, and say this, “I need to leave exactly at 5 today, so I wanted to check to see if there’s anything you’ll need from me before I go.” That may cut down on the last-minute hijackings.

But if it still keeps happening, then sit down with him and say this (not during one of the hijackings, but when you have more time): “I need to be able to leave no later than 5 on Mondays and Wednesdays because I have a medical appointment that I cannot miss. You often have last-minute things that you need from me on those days, and it’s conflicting with that medical treatment in a way that’s jeopardizing my recovery. I want to be really clear with you going forward that it’s not an option for me to stay later than 5 on those days, although I’m happy to do it on other days. This will be the case for the next X weeks, after which my PT should be over.”

Also, your boss is a jerk.

2. What happens after an interview is over?

I recently had a 6-hour interview where I met individually with about a dozen people in the department I would be working at (including my potential boss, the people who would be on my team, and various people who I would be interacting with somewhat less frequently).

I’m just curious, what (usually?) happens after you leave in the afternoon? My potential boss said they meet to decide, but I didn’t probe. Do they sit around talking about the candidate? Fill out approval forms? Just vote yes or no?

Usually people talk and share their impressions and any concerns. This might happen as a group, or there might be one central person who talks to others individually. Most hiring decisions aren’t made by consensus or vote; there’s usually one decision-maker who will gather input from others and make the decision herself, possibly in consultation with her own manager.

3. Asking for time off right after starting a new job

I am starting a new job next week, and am having a debate with some friends about asking for time off work right away. Graduation weekend is a big deal at my alma mater, and happening a month after I start work. I never brought up during negotiations the possibility of missing two days of work to travel across the country for it, simply because I didn’t think I was in the financial position to afford the plane ticket. I recently received a $500 credit voucher from a bumped flight, making attending the graduation a possibility for the first time.

My friends say it’s reasonable to write and see if it is possible to take the two days off, but I worry this would leave a negative impression, as I know you shouldn’t typically take vacation within the first three months. To be clear, I would be fine if the answer was “no” and wouldn’t be demanding paid vacation. In case it makes a difference, I should also be clear that my new job is at another academic institution. I tend to be pretty work-obsessed, and really want to make a good first impression. Does it hurt to ask for the time off, especially so soon and after accepting? If I do ask, should I wait the week until I meet my boss in person to talk about my schedule?

Two days? Nah, it’s fine to ask.

I’d shoot your new manager an email now and say that you wanted to check with her with as much notice as possible and that you understand if it’s not possible. (It probably will be, but framing it that way makes you look sensitive to the fact that you’re asking early on.)

4. How can I avoid telling my old company where I’m going next?

I will be resigning from my position with an organization I have been with for 4 years. I plan on giving 3 weeks notice, and have already created a list of things I need to wrap up before leaving, and an additional list explaining things to coworkers who will likely assist in the transition.The organization has extremely high turnover and low morale, so another employee leaving is not news. I am leaving for a competitor, but I do not have a non-compete agreement.

Numerous former employees (who were fantastic performers) have reported that senior management has badmouthed them to their new employers prior to their start date and after. Because of this information, I do not want to mention where I am going in my resignation meeting. I know you recommend to do so under normal circumstances to avoid the awkwardness and leaving a bad taste in their mouth – but this shady business doesn’t seem worth the risk.

How can I gracefully and tactfully approach the inevitable “so where are you going?” question?

Normally it comes across as strange and chilly if you refuse to say where you’re going if asked, since normally people are asking to make conversation and because they take a genuine interest in you. In your case, though, with reason to believe that your employer will use the information to try to sabotage you, it’s very reasonable to decline to answer. I’d go with vagueness over an explicit refusal. For example: “Oh, a small company in a different field. I’ll be doing (vague description of work).” And if pressed, “You wouldn’t have heard of them. But let’s talk about transition plans. For X, I’m thinking…” (subject change)

5. When an employer refuses to negotiate

What should you do when an employer offers a position, but after attempting to negotiate, they say they cannot make any adjustments to the salary? I’ve had this happen twice and it is quite frustrating. In the last instance, the salary was $10-15K below market rate and what I felt I was worth. Even considering geographical cost of living differences, my research showed that the salary would be about $5K less than what is offered in the next largest neighboring city (45 minutes away). I was job searching for 7 months due to spouse relocation and needed the income – thus I felt forced to accept this job due to lack of other prospects. I think, had I felt more optimistic about other opportunities, I would have passed on their non-negotiable low offer. However, I am interested in hearing what you and others think, as I have heard this happening to friends as well.

Well, employers are within their rights to refuse to increase a salary offer. At that point, it’s in your court to decide whether or not you want to accept it. No one is going to make you accept an offer you don’t want, just as no one can make the employer increase the offer above what they want to pay.

If you don’t think the offer is fair and don’t want to accept it, you can walk away … which you should definitely do if you feel you have better options.

{ 270 comments… read them below }

  1. neverjaunty*

    OP #1, did your boss start these 4:59:55 p.m. meetings just when you started PT? Because if so, that sounds awfully like a boss who is trying to sabotage your PT, either because he thinks you’re lying about it or because you should, you know, just rub some dirt on it, or because he’s just a sadistic jackhole.

    If he didn’t, it’s still an obnoxious power play. It’s his way of saying to you “I control you and if I want to mess up your life, I will.”

    Agree with AAM’s advice 100% – go in early to cut him off. And if the phone rings when you leave at 5, DO NOT ANSWER IT. If he throws a tantrum, calmly tell him that as you informed him, you must leave for doctor-ordered PT.

    Also also, does your company have HR? Any decent HR department would be extremely concerned that a boss is making up BS meetings that interfere with an employee’s physical condition (if only because it could lead to legal trouble for them).

    1. Jessica*

      I immediately thought power play as well. BadBoss used to try to do this to me ALL the time. 4:55… “Can you come in here a minute?” and then would proceed to talk about NOTHING for 15-20 minutes. Guy loved to hear his own voice and I swear he just didn’t want to go home to his family, while knowing full well that I needed to pick my daughter up, which we had agreed to. It happened a few times until I just told him that I was going to have to start charging him for the late pickup fees if he was going to make me late. He still tried to pull this crap frequently; I just refused to stay and reiterated my position and our agreement. This position was hourly/non-exempt and he expected this chit-chat time to be off the clock. No way!

      OP’s boss is obviously a jerk in this instance, but I’d be interested to know if he’s a jerk in other areas too. Jerk behavior usually isn’t just confined to one area.

      1. shep*

        I had a very kind boss who would do this, not as a power play so much as out of loneliness. She’s rope me in with something work-related, and then the conversation would devolve into things from her life she wanted to tell me. I’d try to extricate myself and she’d “get back on topic.” Repeat ad nauseam. If I really put my foot down, she’d be totally understanding about letting me leave, but it’s always nerve-wracking to me to try to put my foot down politely.

        1. neverjaunty*

          But did she know that you had to be somewhere at a set time? It’s still obnoxious to suck up your time like that, but there’s a whole layer of not-at-all-kind if your boss knows that you’re on a schedule.

          1. shep*

            If I had to go, she was respectful of that, but she’d still try to pull the, “Oh, just one more thing!” line and I’d have to make my apologies.

            It was worse when I was just getting to know her–I was a destitute graduate student and didn’t want to jeopardize my new job, so I put up with it. I was also sharing a car at the time, so my poor ride was always waiting around for thirty minutes for me in those first two months or so.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Total power play. It’s not the same as PT or even as picking up a child, but I have been a choral singer my entire life. When I worked at my old job, I rehearsed one night a week, same night every week. My work rarely required me to stay late, so this wasn’t a problem… except for one of my control freak bosses. He would get actively angry when I left on Tuesday evenings– ON TIME– for my rehearsal. He once told me I took my chorus too seriously and he “just knew” I might, one day, let it get in the way of my work. I don’t know why he thought that, because it never did, but he was the kind of guy who thought leaving at 6pm meant you were shirking your responsibilities (he also hated to go home at night). I started taking entire PTO days for concert days instead of half-days so I wouldn’t have to deal with him preventing me from leaving in time to make a dress rehearsal. Life is more than work. For some of us, it’s necessary to take that time to step back.

        I’m now in a job where someone apologized because I had to miss rehearsal for a work project. It’s much nicer and I feel much more valued as a person and not a work-bot.

      3. NYSkier*

        Yes he is a jerk in all areas. Frequent calls into his office, door closed, the profanity flies at me over whatever is his latest thing. Then – fifteen minutes later he’ll suggest we go out for coffee – he’s buying – we’re best friends now (in his mind). Total psycho job.

        Another guy brought in a proposal, printed out in color, this guy didn’t even look at it – turned it face down on his desk, said let’s develop a correct proposal.

        He is a micromanager. Very strange guy.

      4. BeenThere*

        This. Power plays and micro managing to a T.

        My life right now consists of managing my managers power plays with our contractors. He tried to pull the 4:52 pm meeting on me when he was meant to meet up in the morning. I knew he was coming so had started packing my bag so when he came over the first words out my mouth were “I have to go. ” The first words out of his “what time do you normally start.

        This is just the tip of the ice berg. I think I may have material for my first AAM letter.

    2. Snoskred*

      OP1 – I think the answer to this question from neverjaunty makes a huge difference in how I would answer your question. So much so, that I think answering without the answer might not be especially helpful to you – the question was –

      OP #1, did your boss start these 4:59:55 p.m. meetings just when you started PT?

      1. you've got to hide it from the kids*

        I, too, would like to know when this troublesome behavior began.

        That said, I think AAM’s advice is the best way to handle it (ie, I don’t think scheduling the PT earlier is a good idea).

        Actually, I disagree with AAM’s assesment of your boss as a “jerk”. I have several other, stronger words in mind.

        OP, I hope you’ll keep us advised on how this works out. And I’d really love a picture of your boss for my dartboard.

        1. NYSkier*

          No he did not start these when I injured myself. It’s always been something. Calling me on a Saturday night and asking me to join him online to look at some issue or other. For years, every Friday night when I’m trying to get out to go out of town or whatever, it’s the same thing. Sometimes he even calls me on my cell after I’ve left and demands that I return to work to resolve something (that of course can wait). And its not even a company culture – most people are gone by 5:15-5:30pm.

          1. Snoskred*

            In that case, most of the stuff you have read here from people is totally irrelevant. All the stuff about the boss trying to push you out because of your injury, etc. He’s been treating you this way for years, so this is not at all about your present injury.

            The truth is, you have not set appropriate boundaries with this boss. It has been 17 years. Setting them now is going to be difficult for you and it is going to come as quite a surprise to him. But you have to decide – do you want to have the surgery?

            If the answer is no, then you need to do something that is going to be extremely difficult for you and something that you have never, ever done. You need to sit down and have a talk with your boss about this. You need to set some boundaries. You need to say something along the lines of –

            “For 17 years, I have always done what you have wanted, I have stayed late when you have requested it, I have gone online when you have called on a weekend. (Add in a few more things here that you have done, if you like)

            Now, I need to make one request of you. This request is very important because if you will not cooperate with it, I am probably going to have to have surgery and take time off from work, which I do not want to do.

            I need to attend these physical therapy sessions on X day and X day. I have set them at 7pm so that it would not interrupt my work. X times now, I have had to cancel the appointment because you have kept me back. This simply cannot continue.

            As I see it, we have two options.

            1. I set the appointments for the morning at X time, which means I will be late arriving to work. But this then means you can keep me back in the evening.

            2. I keep the appointments for the night time, and you allow me to leave on time on X day and X day, no questions asked. ”

            You might even consider sending almost exactly what I wrote there via email and then following up in person, eg “Did you get my email about physical therapy? Did you want me to change my appointments to the morning, or will you allow me to go in the evenings on X day and Y day? You can keep me back as late as you want on the other three nights if you so desire, but please do not ask me to stay back on these two nights again.”

            Setting boundaries now, after 17 years of having set none, is going to be extremely challenging and difficult for you. It IS something that you need to do, and urgently, otherwise if your doctor is correct, you will have to have that surgery.

            I know this is not going to be an easy thing for you – if it were, you’d have done it years ago. But you do need to do this or something like this in order to attend your PT, and you need to do it as soon as possible. :) Make sure to give us an update!

    3. ReanaZ*

      Yeah, I am totally on Team Don’t Answer the Phone. If he catches you anyway, I am on Team Walk Out the Door. You say he won’t ‘let’ you leave.

      Assuming he isn’t physically restraining you (if that happens, report the heck out of him), what would happen if you just left anyway?

      Some people don’t respect polite boundaries, only very firm ones.

      1. Green*

        Cheery voice: “Really sorry! Gotta run! Let’s schedule this for first thing tomorrow.” Then don’t look at the person’s face and move out the door. It’s part of hard-sell sales techniques that force agreement because people don’t want to be awkward, but you have my permission to use it here.

    4. Anonicorn*

      Another one for Team Don’t Answer the Phone! Also, 17 years with this company and your manager is acting like this?! Double interrobang Batman! Has he always been such a tool?

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Also Team Don’t Answer the Phone… I’ve got to say that I love call display. There have been times when I’m about to go out and run some errands or something and the phone rings (of course). I check the call display and then go anyway.

        I mean OP1 if this is a problem, arrange to do something that is not in your office for the half hour before you have to leave. Go to the bathroom, check something in the server room, deliver someone’s fixed laptop (not sure what kind of IT you do) to their desk. Come back, collect your coat and go. Hell, leave a few minutes early if you’re on salary, from the sounds of it, you more than make up the hours at other times.

        Boss is freaking out the next day because you weren’t there for his passive-aggressive power play meeting? “Oh, I’m sorry, I must have been in the bathroom/speaking to Jane about her external hard drive/whatever. I had to grab my coat and go because if I don’t make my PT, I might need surgery and that would mean I’d be out for weeks!”

        1. Cath in Canada*

          I think the point that the consequence of not doing the PT as scheduled might be weeks off work recovering from surgery is something OP should be pushing consistently, regardless of how they decide to handle everything else!

          1. Just Another Techie*

            Agreed, but it just makes me angry that the play here is “weeks off work” and not “invasive surgery that will cause weeks of pain and carries risks of permanent maiming or death.” (All surgery, no matter how routine, has some risk of fatality from unforeseen complications.) If the boss is even remotely a decent human being she’d care more about the employee’s health than the time off work.

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              I know what you mean but this boss, if they had any empathy would get your point without needing it explicitly spelled out for them about the pain, maiming and chance of death and want the OP to get their PT. But I think in this case it’s more of a employee not here = BAD. I also liked the suggestion of going in and asking the boss if it would be more convenient to switch to mornings so Boss can appear to exercise some degree of control and Boss very bossly but I have a feeling that no matter what solution it’s all going to boil down to Not Here = BAD. It’s even more ridiculous because this isn’t a “I need to do this forever” thing but for what is probably a period of a few months. It isn’t outrageous for an employee to leave on time for a couple of days for a few months — that should be SOP.

    5. Celeste*

      I wouldn’t get into a pissing match about the necessity of the appointments, and I wouldn’t get all put upon about the behavior. I would see it as evidence of the boss’s untreated anxiety, which is a meat grinder for personal relationships. I am certain that the boss thinks it’s a character virtue. However, don’t let it be a contagious disease. Provide the status update earlier if you like, ignore the phone call if you like, reassure the boss that this is temporary and preferable to being out for six weeks post op if you like, but in any case leave promptly at 5. Whatever it takes to draw the line. Missing medical care to let yourself get in bad shape is really not going to help the boss in any way; he is unable to see that with his immediate need for anxiety-relieving control of another person, but you can see it, and you need to have the big picture here.

      1. neverjaunty*

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong with getting put-upon about a boss who sabotages a necessary medical appointment with “work is more important”.

      2. Jessa*

        Um the OP needs those appts. It may be necessary to get into a pissing match that uses the either the words FMLA or ADA Accommodation. Every appt the OP misses sets back/possibly ruins future recovery. This is not an optional appt and the OP did everything humanly possible to NOT have it effect work (this is not OP is exempt and work is not getting done, this is boss has decided that non essential work is more important than the OP not becoming MORE disabled in the future.

        This pissing match absolutely has to happen either with HR or with the boss’ boss, because OP will likely have a cause of action if this boss decides that well “I am going to write OP up because OP leaves for therapy and does not stay and do inconsequential stuff I want done NOW,” and OP gets fired. OP needs to document this up and talk to anyone higher on the org chart than boss. Because seriously this kind of behaviour can open up legal liability for the firm. FMLA does not have to be “I need a week off,” it can be “I need x many appointments to cure this thing I have.” ADA does not require a permanent disability.

        If I worked HR or was the boss of this boss I’d be having a fit.

        1. Colette*

          It doesn’t sound like the boss is threatening to write the employee up or take any other action, just that he asks for info as the OP is trying to leave. Turning it into a big thing with HR should not be the first step – the first step is to make an effort to deal with the boss earlier and then leave on time.

          1. neverjaunty*

            OP #1 already made the effort to deal with the boss: “I’ve told him that I need to leave to get to therapy, but he tells me this is more important and I have to stay.”

            I agree that OP should then follow through by leaving on time (“Gotta go to my therapy appointment!”), but as OP has been clear with the boss about the need to leave on time for PT, and the boss is repeatedly and actively sabotaging it by deciding that it is “more important” for OP to stay late, then it is time to get HR involved. The problem if OP simply leaves is that if, as you suggest, Boss is anxious, this is not going to quell Boss’s anxiety – now Boss will feel as though OP defied her and may retaliate.

            And if it’s simply a misunderstanding then HR can help smooth that over.

              1. neverjaunty*

                I totally agree with the advice, but it did sound to me like OP has actually told the manager why she needs to leave – plus it’s very odd that the boss calls OP just before OP’s scheduled time to leave and keeps OP afterward on the grounds that those meetings are “more important” than medical appointments (!!!).

            1. OhNo*

              I agree with you that this is something that HR might help to smooth over, assuming that the OP’s workplace has a decent HR department.

              However, I strongly disagree that managing their boss’ anxiety is somehow the OP’s problem. If, as Celeste suggests, this is just the boss getting anxious, that’s their problem to deal with. The OP puts in their time and gets their work done (I’m assuming), so it really is unreasonable anxiety that the boss needs to learn to control or deal with.

              OP, I definitely second the idea to avoid answering the phone, keep moving toward the exit if you are stopped, etc. Have a couple of back up plans, too, like Alison’s suggestion to pre-empt the meeting a few hours early, or sending or offering to send an update via email before you leave, or schedule check-ins with the boss first thing in the morning. All seem like viable alternatives to these last-minute meetings.

              1. Celeste*

                If only it even was possible to manage somebody else’s anxiety–it isn’t. I do like AAM’s idea to stand up to the boss on the issue of the appointments being important and find another way through. I was only suggesting a mental attitude of dropping the tug-o-war rope and doing what needs to be done for health. But even asking for help here is a positive move.

      3. I'm a Little Teapot*

        I’m not sure why you went to “untreated anxiety.” I have had serious anxiety issues my whole life and not since I was eight years old have I had any sort of control-freak desire to manage someone else’s time and show my dominance. I don’t think it’s OP’s job to “help the boss” here and I don’t think OP has any obligation to worry about the delicate feelings of this petty, tyrannical bully who’s endangering OP’s health just for a power trip. If framing this as “Jerk Boss has an anxiety disorder that isn’t about me” helps OP, that’s great, but OP has a perfect right to be angry.

        1. The Strand*

          I think I see where they made the call… it’s the “Wait, wait, wait, wait…!” and the “this is more important!”. It’s all about framing. If it’s not a power play and the boss isn’t doing this deliberately, I can see where it could be projected anxiousness about work.

          I work with someone who is a workaholic and projects his need to work constantly onto the people working for him. He expects people to work every weekend when it’s not in any way necessary. There’s definitely something going on there.

          (Whether it’s an anxiety disorder is something else, not for us to make a leap about.)

    6. MashaKasha*

      Yes, my first thought was also “control freak”. I had a BA like that in one job. I’d send her an email at the end of the day with a status update on our projects, and she’d immediately respond with some bogus emergency to keep me in the office for a few extra hours. After she had me drive home at nine PM in a major snowstorm (that started at 7 and so could’ve been avoided if I’d left on time), I changed my tactic. I still sent her updates, but now I’d type up the email, get ready to leave, hit send as I was standing there in my coat, lock my computer, and immediately leave the office. (i.e. a spin on “do not answer the phone” described above.) Granted, she wasn’t my supervisor and she was let go from the company a few months later anyway, AND I did not have critical medical appointments that she was making me miss, so I had it far easier.

      I’d definitely go with “DO NOT answer the phone”. The problem with this guy though, is that, after OP doesn’t answer the phone at 4:59 once or twice, he’ll start calling at 4:45 instead. So, yeah, HR needs to be involved, if that’s possible.

      1. M-C*

        It’s also possible to schedule email to be sent for a time when you’re already safely on the subway or whatever.. But this all assumes that being away from your desk means you’re off work, which is by and large no longer true, especially for IT workers.

    7. INTP*

      This gives me flashbacks to one of my most terrible bosses. I also had to do PT as a result of a back injury and was suppose to go 3x per week. Getting 3 evening appointments is tough. I also was contracted to work only 12 hours per week (it was with an English Teaching Assistant program abroad) but unfortunately my contract gave me no guarantee that they would be allocated in a reasonable manner and she spread out my classes in a way that I was on campus about 1.5 hours per day less than the actual full-time teachers who were paid about 4x what I was. (And since I couldn’t afford a car on my salary, and they all could, with commute my day was just as long.)

      Anyways, when I asked her to give me a free morning each week and showed her my PT prescription she flipped out, accused me of expecting her to rearrange the students’ entire schedules with swimming lessons and PE and whatnot around my convenience, and told me it’s not important because everyone’s back hurt. (I was a fit 24 year old occasionally experiencing flares of back pain that made me barely able to walk. Not quite in the normal back pain range.) So I emailed the school district head office to say that I need to have time off for a doctor mandated treatment and threw in some questions about some illegal practices as well, without naming names. She literally SCREAMED AT ME. In full earshot of all the students and teachers. But I got my mornings off. I guess this was pointless to type out but I guess if you’re dealing with a petty tyrant sometimes the petty tyrant above their heads will be responsive.

    8. NYSkier*

      No he did not start these when I injured myself. It’s always been something. Calling me on a Saturday night and asking me to join him online to look at some issue or other. For years, every Friday night when I’m trying to get out to go out of town or whatever, it’s the same thing. Sometimes he even calls me on my cell after I’ve left and demands that I return to work to resolve something (that of course can wait). And its not even a company culture – most people are gone by 5:15-5:30pm.

  2. Editor*

    #1 — If this wasn’t a work question, I think it would be someone writing in to say that they’re on a diet and their family is pushing food on them all the time, or they’re in a relationship and their partner doesn’t believe them when they say they love them and how can they prove their love? It’s almost like the manager wants to prove that work is more important by keeping the employee from some rival’s demand on the employee’s time. I suppose it could be clueless self-importance, but even after rereading I wonder if there’s sabotage going on, rather than cluelessness. Does the manager like hanging around the office because it makes him feel like he’s a hard worker, but he doesn’t like being there alone, so the status updates are his social life?

    Alison’s advice is sensible and worth following. The manager needs to be shown the boundaries, politely. But the behavior is really weird. Why does this manager feel so threatened by an employee’s after-hours medical appointment? Maybe the OP could ask when the manager thinks the appointments should be scheduled within the hours the physical therapy is available — if the manager can’t recommend a time for the appointments when the therapy office is open, that’s an opportunity to use Alison’s phrasing.

    The only other thing I could think of is to be less considerate about keeping the working day intact and schedule the therapy for the morning, then come in late afterward (if that’s possible without taking PTO), so that the manager can’t delay you in the office beforehand. Is the manager tied up during the mornings so he wouldn’t notice an absence as much at that time? And if the appointments are moved to the morning and the manager phones and wants to chat for a long time before the appointments, then there’s an opening to ask, “Why do you always demand my time before a medical appointment? You don’t normally ask for status updates at this hour.”

    1. Jessica*

      Agreed. A 7PM appointment is something that is very convenient for a reasonable boss; the OP is purposefully scheduling theses appointments so they don’t have to miss work. And yet this seems to not be good enough for this jerk. I’m all for OP calling attention to this behavior as soon as possible. I would be interested to see how the boss would explain himself.

    2. Bunny*

      I agree it sounds like booking a morning appointment for PT might be the way to go, here.

      “Boss, unfortunately I have had to reschedule my PT appointments for the morning, as the necessity for last-minute meetings which go over my usual work hours is forcing me to miss PT and is having a detrimental effect on my recovery. I will endeavour to continue to be on time for work on the days I am attending PT, but hope you will understand some delays to my arrival will be inevitable.”

      You are entitled to access healthcare that you need. Your boss is being a knob. If boss is going to sabotage your health needs to prove a point about work when *you’re already taking reasonable steps to prioritise work*, then this is the consequence.

      1. Bio-Pharma*

        I don’t like this idea, only because the (unreasonable) boss may see this as a power play, and it may cause more harm than good. As others have mentioned the boss seems like someone who likes control, and scheduling morning appointments may make his grip even stronger.

        1. nk*

          I thought of the morning idea as well, but with the twist of asking the boss his preference, to put the ball in his court. “It seems that these evening appointments aren’t working out since you typically need me here in the evening. I do absolutely need to attend physical therapy twice a week for my recovery; would you prefer I schedule the appointments in the morning instead? It will mean I arrive to work XX minutes late two days a week.”

      2. neverjaunty*

        The problem is then OP is unilaterally changing his hours – which means the rest of the company notices, and gives the boss leverage to complain about OP. Right now, Boss is screwing up an appointment that is after OP’s regularly scheduled work hours.

        1. MAB*

          FMLA allows all employees to take time for medically necessary appointments. I would say OP1 is being very nice by scheduling that late. But if boss chooses to complain I would hope someone points out that he is falling into against the law, potentially.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Agree, but right now OP is giving Boss zero reason to complain – OP is trying to leave at her scheduled end time. Moving appointments to the morning means that OP is trying to arrange an actual change in her working schedule that she then has to justify. Getting Boss to take a flying leap seems preferable – and if Boss is deliberately sabotaging OP’s medical appointments, then he’s going to find some way to do it even if OP moves the appointment.

            1. NYSkier*

              My company is a major company. My injury is not severe enough (in my mind) for me to take leave at this point. Part of the doctor’s idea of PT now is to avoid surgery so leave would be unnecessary.

          2. DMC*

            Not all employers are covered by FMLA, and only employees who’ve met the 12 months and 1250 hours of service are entitled to it in the U.S. (which sounds like the case here, of course). But not sure if the employer is large enough to be covered by FMLA

      3. Stranger than Fiction*

        I’m thinking perhaps she cannot schedule in the morning. She mentions a commute, so I’m thinking if she has say, an hour commute, plus this place is open that late in the evening, that they do not open in time for her to do the therapy session and get into work on time.

    3. INTP*

      Regarding your last paragraph, I do think it would be worthwhile to say to the boss, the next time he starts talking about how important the 4:59 meetings are, “I scheduled these appointments at 7:00pm, which is not an easy time to get, just so that they would interfere with work as little as possible. For my long-term health, attending PT is non-negotiable, but I’m willing to work with you to make my appointments as non-disruptive to work as possible. Would it be preferable for you if I switch my appointment to mornings? I would miss a lot more work time overall, but would be available to stay after 5pm.”

      If he’s doing this to be a control freak, hopefully that will give him a sense of control over the situation and let him know that you did consider him when scheduling the appointments – 7pm is pretty dramatically late, I don’t know if I’ve even been to a medical office that is open that late. And if he’s just selfishly not thinking this through, hopefully it will put things in perspective so he knows that you’re walking out on 5 minute chats to avoid missing 2 hours in the morning.

  3. Jen S. 2.0*

    For #5: Employers aren’t obligated to give you more money. It would always be nice if they would, but sometimes they aren’t lowballing you — what they’ve offered you is what they can afford budgetwise, market rates and comparison numbers be darned.

    That is one reason why it’s recommended (on this blog and other places) to go into salary negotiations *requesting* a higher salary or different benefits package, not demanding it or else. They may well decline your requests. If their offer is unacceptable, you then can decline the job offer.

    I’ve had 6 full-time jobs in my life. Four of them did not budge on salary.

    1. MK*

      Or it could be that this is the value that they place on the role or how much they are willing to give to a specific candidate.

      To be frank, I would have a lot of respect for an employer that makes an initial offer that is the absolute top of what they are willing/able to give. They could easily start lower and see for how little the employee is willing to settle for.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Forty five minutes away is a big deal. Employers outside the cities do not feel a big need to keep up with city rates of pay. I would totally expect to be paid less by an employer outside of a city, especially one that is 45 minutes away.

      There is Big Town about 50 minutes from me. No one even thinks twice about what the pay rates are in Big Town. There are also two vacation towns near me that also do nothing to influence pay levels in surrounding towns. (Matter of fact, I think that the vacation spots tend to help keep the area depressed.)

      I think part of it is that these employers do not have a hard time finding help. Many people want to get out of Big Town and live in a smaller area. Or the people who are already in the smaller area want to stay there. And they are willing to take lower pay in order to do that.

      In short, yes. 45 minutes away is a big deal.

      1. Joey*

        Yes that’s my experience as well- small towns pay less and they can get away with it because many local folks don’t want to drive for more money.

        1. Spiky Plant*

          And it’s usually not even “getting away” with anything. Rents are lower. There’s more space. Food costs less (often). It’s just not really the same “market” so the “market” rates aren’t comparable.

          1. MK*

            True. I have lived in a small town, earning about 30% less and enjoying a more comfortable lifestyle (biger and nicer house, more use of car, more eating out).

      2. Jen S 2.0*

        This is a great point. If you live in New Brunswick, NJ, they aren’t going to pay the same as Manhattan just because Manhattan is 45 minutes away.

    3. Green*

      OP, are you using the glassdoor and salary websites for the research? Those overstate salary expectations in a lot of cases… (E.g., for lawyers, one firm pays $160k starting, another firm pays $75k starting, and they’re both on lock-step pay, so negotiating makes you look out of touch, but the research websites mush those two firms together to come up with something in the middle…)

      Also, I have never negotiated salary. If the job isn’t where I want it to be, I decline. There’s a lot of this advice, particularly for women, that says you MUST NEGOTIATE SALARY. But that’s not a requirement.

      1. MK*

        I agree that negotiation shouldn’t be a requirement and that, if the offer is, say, half what you expect, there is no point in negotiation. But very few people can afford to simply decline every offer that isn’t what they wanted.

        1. Jen S 2.0*

          You’re not wrong. But as my dad used to tell me…just because you don’t like your options doesn’t mean you don’t have any options.

          If the job doesn’t pay enough and it’s this job or starve, then take the job and keep looking. That the amount you want to make and the amount the job pays do not align is not really the company’s problem.

    4. Stranger than Fiction*

      Ditto. I think it’s ingrained in us now to negotiate always, but like Alison says, sometimes there’s truly no more room in their budget. Also, since the economy took a crap, employers are getting away with paying significantly less for the same positions, and know there’s more folks right behind you that will gladly accept their measly offering.

  4. Mean Something*

    For #3: This seems like a case where you would benefit from consulting Future You: in a year, or three years, will you be glad, sorry, or neutral about having tried to get the time off? I agree with Alison that it’s fine to ask, and her phrasing is perfect; I’m just trying to bolster your confidence that asking for the time is the right thing to do. They will probably be charmed at the idea of your going, and in any case this is really a one-time thing.

    1. MK*

      I never find this usefull because there are too many variables. What if the OP’s manager takes even asking as a red flag? What if the graduation weekend turns out to be a boring, uncomfrotable experience? What if something major happens at work during those two days that the OP will be kicking themselves for missing?

      1. AMD*

        It seems less a “will this have been the best decision three years from now” tool and more a tool for judging how important something is to you, and if it is worth the reasonable risks. “Three years from now me” is not actually 2018 AMD, but an ideal picture in my head who helps me to realize my own inner priorities and set goals accordingly.

    2. "Find yourself a cup; the teapot is behind you. Now tell me about hundreds of things."*

      I agree about graduation being a one-time thing. It’s sometimes said that in life you often regret the things you don’t do more than the things you do. This looks like being one of those times.

      Also, it is not unreasonable that the OP would have a graduation at this point and, if she is working at another academic institution anyway, they might well be attuned to this and would understand the culture. Also, it is not as if she is asking for the time off for a trivial or frivolous reason. Isn’t graduation one of life’s landmarks?

      1. Elkay*

        I’m not sure that this is the OP’s graduation ceremony, I think it’s just general hoopla around graduation at their university.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Yes, I think it depends on the context. If this is OP’s graduation ceremony then I think asking for 2 days off to attend it is fine and reasonable. I think it also is ok if OP graduated early (like in December or spring) but this is the ceremony with his/her classmates (the class she would have graduated with if not graduating early)

          If OP is attending as an alum just to enjoy the hoopla, then no, I don’t think its appropriate, and OP should instead plan to go next year or a future year instead.

          One other thing to consider is if the graduation weekend at OP’s alma mater is also graduation or the time right before graduation at OP’s new job, since it’s also an academic institution, and whether OP would be expected to participate in the hoopla at her new institution. In my experience in a college town, most faculty and staff are expected to be around to help with the chaos leading up to graduation, unless they have a major milestone, like their own graduation or wedding, or one for a member of their immediate family.

          1. Ezri*

            I know – I’m no use on this one, you couldn’t have paid me to attend my graduation ceremony. :P

          2. Koko*

            It isn’t at the large public institution I graduated from, but I have a group of close-knit friends who all attended a small private liberal arts school in a rural area. “Alumni Weekend” is held the same weekend as graduation every year and is a bunch of partying, drinking, swimming in the local river, and reminiscing with college friends. They have a rabidly active alumni community and people continue going back from Alumni Weekend in high proportions for most of their 20s – you’ll even see a handful of middle aged folks who make it. I got the impression this is the kind of thing OP is hoping to attend.

          3. Joline*

            I think graduations also sometimes depend on family context. I went somewhat for me (to both my degree and my designation ceremonies) but in large part for my parents. I think on my mom’s side there’s one uncle with a degree (who got it later in life) and my dad didn’t finish high school (though he then did then finish his GED in the military and is now attending university part-time for fun). For them it was a big deal.

      2. Not Today Satan*

        Maybe I’m misinterpreting it, but I don’t think it’s her graduation. I think that graduation week at her alma mater is a big alumni thing.

        1. Xarcady*

          That’s certainly possible. The university I graduated from has its alumni reunion during graduation week. And alumni are intertwined into the graduation festivities–alumni are chosen to be ushers to walk the new graduates into the stadium for the graduation ceremony, they throw a party for the new grads from their school, that sort of thing.

        2. OP #3*

          To clarify: It’s not my graduation ceremony, but the ceremony for many of my closest friends and classmates. I overlapped with many of them for a year, and it would mean a lot to me to be there to celebrate their accomplishments, since a few are ones I personally mentored and another couple got me through my dissertation (I defended last year). The option of just going another year in the future isn’t one I’m really considering, since it’s the people (more than the general celebrations) that draw me to fly back across the country for it.

          I’m still in the midst of negotiating schedules with my manager, so I think I might shoot them an e-mail using the language suggested. I just tend to worry a lot about getting started off on the wrong foot, even though my managers seem incredibly nice and flexible so far.

          1. LJL*

            As long as it’s a one-time thing, I think it would be fine. Just be aware that the current institution may have more demands if it’s near their graduation too.

          2. John*

            I think as long as you ask in the right way — making it easy for them to say no in the way AAM has wisely suggested — you won’t risk any harm. And if they say no, immediately respond back that you totally understand and are just excited to get started. But I get the sense you will handle this properly.

          3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            Am I reading it right that you just finished your PhD (and presumably your friends did, too)?

            I think that gives you more leeway to ask for this. First, because you’re likely older than the average recent college graduate. It might be unfair, but I suspect a manager would hesitate more about an unusual request from someone brand-new to the work/adult world than someone with a few years under her belt. Second, because people (especially people at academic institutions) respect PhDs and the work it takes to get them. You’ve heard a few people here hypothesize that you want to go back for a boozy alumni weekend – I think fewer people would make an assumption like that if you explain that you’re going back to celebrate with your fellow colleagues and mentees.

        3. the gold digger*

          graduation week at her alma mater is a big alumni thing.

          I didn’t even want to go to my own graduation. I sure wouldn’t want to go to anyone else’s! :)

        4. Lily in NYC*

          It’s a big thing at my alma mater as well, but I can’t imagine going back for it after my senior year. I guess I’m being judgmental but I don’t think asking for time off that soon just to go to a big party is that great of an idea. Especially if you already graduated.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            The graduates are the OP’s friends and classmates. I wouldn’t go to my alma mater’s graduation just for shits and giggles (I don’t even want the alumni magazine), but I might want to attend if that were the case.

      3. Artemesia*

        I read this as wanting to return for graduation weekend because it is a big party time at the OP’s school NOT that it was her graduation. If it is her own graduation then of course she should request the time to go, but if it is just a time alumni gather, my first instinct was ‘you have got to be kidding.’ That strikes me as just a bizarre reason to want time off so early into a job — sort of the equivalent of saying ‘my sorority is having a party in June.’

        I was surprised Alison was so blase about requesting the time off for so trivial an event — so perhaps she is reading it also as the OP’s graduation.

        1. Artemesia*

          Missed the update. I guess it as I read it and I would NOT request time off so early on a job for someone else’s party — not husband’s or child’s or own graduation. But then I didn’t even attend all of my own graduations and found my own kids’ graduations excruciatingly boring — not that I would have missed them of course, because, MY kids.

        2. Bio-Pharma*

          Although I happen to share your opinion, I don’t think something “trivial” to us means that it’s trivial to everyone. This event is obviously important enough for her to seek advice on here about her conflicting thoughts.

          1. Green*

            Still wouldn’t ask for the time off this early unless it is her own graduation, sibling, significant other, or other immediate family.

            1. TL -*

              I’m heading to one of my friend’s graduations this year. Not my favorite way to spend a day but it means a lot to him that I go and if it means a lot to him, it means a lot to me.
              His family, who live two thousand miles closer to him than I do, aren’t showing up. the importance of a person doesn’t always depends on your legal or genetic relationship to them.

              1. Spiky Plant*

                Hear, hear. My family lived close enough to drive to my graduation and did not come. My boyfriend’s family flew in. I don’t begrudge my family their choices (they’re pretty poor), but it was nice to have the “second family” there for support!

              2. OhNo*

                That is so, so true. I was the “guest of honor” at my best friend’s graduation, and she was the “guest of honor” at mine as well. And this despite the fact that both of our (extended) families came for the graduations, too. Just because you don’t have a legal/genetic tie to someone doesn’t mean they are somehow less important.

                If it’s important enough to the OP to write in for advice, then we can assume it is important enough that the OP can ask their boss. Boss might still say no, but if the OP is understanding about scheduling needs, there should (hopefully!) be no negative repercussions.

          2. kozinskey*

            Right, but if I were OP, I would worry that my manager would see it as trivial. Personally, I wouldn’t ask, and I’m surprised at AAM’s advice. Yes, it sucks to miss it, but I’d rather focus on building trust and relationships at a new job in those first few months. (My perspective might change if it were, say, a sibling’s graduation or a close friend’s wedding. But I just don’t think a friend’s graduation ceremony is worth the risk of giving a bad impression at a new job.)

            1. OhNo*

              Well, the manager doesn’t need to know that it’s “trivial”, do they? OP could just say that someone important to them is graduating, and they’d like to go if the schedule will allow it. Besides, we don’t know how important these friends might be to the OP — they could very well be the emotional equivalent of family, in which case it would really stink to have to miss this event.

          1. Laurel Gray*

            I completely get it but how you feel about something may be different for a new manager and I believe in picking your battles. I would think something like this wouldn’t be the most wise to ask for so soon into a new job.

    3. you've got to hide it from the kids*

      I’ve noticed this question comes up with some frequency (ie, “I need to take some time off shortly after I start my new job”). My experience with this kind of thing (both as a New Hire and as an observer of New Hires) is that it’s not a big deal to ask the employer for time for such things. There’s all kinds of give-and-take that goes into determining a start date – Employer typically wants New Hire on-board as quickly as possible; New Hire often has things they need to wrap up: a wedding obligation, maybe they’re moving, etc. Every circumstance is unique. My company has always been very easy-going about such things.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah. Two days is just not a big deal. I think taking time off for someone else’s graduation is … kind of a low bar for time off, personally, but it’s two days so it doesn’t really matter. If it were a week for something else, plus two days for this, I’d be saying to skip this. But it’s two days. No reasonable manager is going care, unless it happens to conflict with some specific work thing.

        1. Elsie*

          Depending on whether you think new boss will care, pointing out “I have the opportunity to…” because of your flight credit might explain why you’re considering it all of a sudden. The times I’ve been able to say, “Mom has a business trip she’s letting me tag along to” or “Aunt is inviting me to join her on vacation” or suchlike makes it clear that you might not be able to afford an opportunity on your own, and therefore have no say in the fact that it’s being scheduled so soon in your new job. The fact that it’s a graduation probably also makes it obvious that you can’t control when the event is taking place. When I was a lowly entry-level nonprofit worker, I couldn’t really afford to “go on vacation” unless it was with family, staying with a friend, or otherwise as a result of a financial windfall, so it wasn’t like I could always choose the most optimal time to leave or do so with a ton of notice. Between that and the fact that we got about 4 weeks of annual leave made it tough for bosses to ever turn down requests for time off, even if they put you in the red on the number of hours you took vs. accrued, were slightly inconvenient or last minute, etc. (And yes this was a very fortunate perk/attitude.)

    4. Mean Something*

      The working and friendship groups of most Ph.D. programs dissipate extremely quickly within a year or two, because people scatter across the country (and, often, the world) in pursuit of jobs. I would see this as an important culmination, arguably more so than the OP’s own hooding ceremony, and I would expect the new department to understand that.

      1. you've got to hide it from the kids*

        This. Or to try to put it more generally: the importance of a given Life Event is going to vary widely from person to person. My nephew’s baptism, my niece’s bat mitzvah, my college roommate’s wedding, my childhood drone’s integration into a group Mind … depending on my background and upbringing, the bat mitzvah might be super-uber important to me. It may not be important to other people – but it’s not for other people to set the importance of these kinds of things.

  5. Apollo Warbucks*

    #1 Don’t answer the phone at a few minuets to 5, put your appointments in your calendar so it’s clear when you have to leave and leave in time without thinking twice about it.

    Or starting making appointments early in the morning so you miss work and tell your boss that’s the only time you can guarantee not being held up before an appointment, then there’s no way your boss can interfere with you going and if they want you to stay later than 5 that’s fine as you’ll ne there anyway.

    1. Cheesecake*

      I was thinking about early morning appointments as well. OP has a right to get medical help he needs, this is ridiculous. He was too accommodating for his jerk of a boss.

  6. Ben Around*

    OP #1 — Wow. Your manager sounds like he’s being flat-out cruel. Could he be trying to force you out?

    1. V.V.*

      “Could he be trying to force you out?”

      For your sake OP#1 I hope it doesn’t come to that, and this boss realizes that he can accomodate your requirement without detriment. Unfortunately though, I am asking myself the same question as Ben Around.

      Several bosses I knew pulled these kinds of shenanigans when they were trying to rid themselves of someone they didn’t like. I know people who were docked in their reviews because they merely asked for a day off… 9 months down the road. “Well, I can consider giving you the time off if you want, but keep in mind I will have to consider the fact you made this request when your review comes up next month.” No kidding.

      What I am wondering (out loud to anyone) are:

      Could this boss terminate the OP, if the OP “decides” to leave for their appointment while there is supposedly “pressing work”?

      What should the OP do if this boss further digs in after their chat?

      I have heard the “protected class” caveat oft mentioned, would it apply in this situation? Or could the boss say this person is not meeting the job availability requirements by attending these appointments? I would think being able to leave on time, would, at the very least, be seen as a reasonable accomodation for a temporarily disabled employee, but that is not how this seems to be going so far.

      1. Cheesecake*

        In Europe it would be illegal to terminate employee who cannot perform his job to fullest due to medical reasons. Let alone employee who is trying to deal with this in his own time.

        I am not sure about “forcing out”. We are talking about long-term employee with good performance. There are managers who think the only good reason not to come to work is when you are lying in hospital in coma.

      2. MK*

        The OP is doing physical therapy to avoid further injury. There is nothing to suggest that she is disabled, even temporarily, or that she runs the risk of becoming so. It’s possible that this treatment is a precaution and not absolutely necessary at this present time. The boss is being an unbelievable jerk, but I don’t think protected class enters into it.

          1. MK*

            If you mean that a manager should never question the necessity once a doctor has prescribed it, I agree. But not everything a doctor prescribes is immediately crucial to your health, sometimes they are “just to be safe” measures. My point was that the OP doing PT doesn’t really mean she is disabled, even temporarily.

            1. Jessa*

              Even if this does not rise to ADA Disability standards (and we do not know if it does or not, the OP rightly did not say what the therapy was FOR,) it probably does rise to Intermittent FMLA standards, there are still things the OP can talk to HR/Boss’ boss about.

            2. Mike C.*

              “Just to be safe” or other preventative measures most certainly count. It’s medical treatment for a condition, a condition that will become worse and lead to other conditions and/or more extensive treatments.

        1. Dot Warner*

          The OP did say that the PT was to help prevent future surgery, so it sounds like it is necessary.

          1. Cherry Scary*

            Could perhaps the OP explain to the boss that if she leaves on time for these PT appointments, she is avoiding having to take days off work altogether for surgery? Perhaps that might get it into the boss’s ear. “Hey, if she goes to this thing, she won’t miss work later.”

          2. Stranger than fiction*

            Either way I believe he can’t impede her getting medical treatment like that

        2. "Find yourself a cup; the teapot is behind you. Now tell me about hundreds of things."*

          And who goes to physio sessions just for the fun of it anyway?

          1. Laurel Gray*


            This statement is the reason why I believe the boss is a piece of s— and knows exactly what he is doing. No one is leaving at 5 to make a 7pm PT appointment (and not interrupting work!) just to do it. It is still physical WORK for the OP, not a post-work massage with organic oils and hot stones.

            1. De Minimis*

              Yes! We have a PT here and apparently he always has to explain to the patients [it’s a small community so many of them know him personally] “I quit being your friend once you come in here…” It’s not something that is enjoyable.

          2. Joline*

            Weeellll…I had to do physio after a car accident for a few weeks. But as it was really only over tightened muscles it basically meant that I had a handsome Australian guy helping me do stretches and giving me a bit of a massage.

            1. Joline*

              (obviously not meant to in any way insinuate that most people don’t hate it when they go. it is hard work, often painful, and a large commitment in most cases)

            2. Elizabeth West*

              LOL!! When I was diagnosed with impingement syndrome, I had a therapist I adored–he was very handsome and very nice. He created a home program for me so I didn’t have to leave work so much, and I still use it (I really need to go back because it’s only effective when I do it, so I’m not gaining any ground). But I still disliked the appointments themselves, because OW.

          3. Connie-Lynne*

            Well, I know most people don’t, but my PT was so good, and so supportive that I really looked forward to my sessions when I hurt my back a few years ago.

            When my doctor suggested that PT might help a different injury six months later I was all “YES! AND PLEASE SEND ME TO PREVIOUS PHYSICAL THERAPIST! MAY I PLEASE HAVE THREE APPOINTMENTS PER WEEK INSTEAD OF ONLY TWO!!”

        3. Katie the Fed*

          Without knowing more about the injury, there’s no way to know if the OP is part of a protected class. But the definitions of “disability” under the ADA are actually much broader than you might realize.

          Right now I’m disabled under those definitions. I haven’t had to request reasonable accomodation because my workplace is pretty great, but I’d be well within my rights to do so.

        4. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I agree that the OP is not in a protected class, but I disagree that the PT is not necessary right now. I broke my foot last year and my doctor sent me to PT. Without it, I never would have healed properly and I would have broken my foot again within months– it happened before, on another foot, when I wasn’t sent to PT. Preventing surgery and further injury means that the OP can avoid taking any additional time off work, which would certainly be more detrimental to the department than leaving on time 2 days a week.

          FWIW, the first time I went to PT (sciatica), I went in the morning before work, as some are suggesting the OP do. By the time I broke my foot, however, I had a dog who needed morning walks, so early morning PT would have been a terrible idea. There are many reasons why after work is much better than before.

        5. nona*

          It might. There are disabled people who are in PT to prevent more injuries, prevent surgery, etc. I couldn’t say one way or the other from the letter.

          Tbh I don’t think anyone would go to PT if they didn’t have to, it’s really not pleasant.

        6. neverjaunty*

          OP’s letter states that the PT is the result of an accident and is intended to help prevent future surgery, so I’m not sure where you’re getting the ‘not absolutely necessary’ from. I mean, there’s no such thing as elective or cosmetic PT, is there?

          I don’t think ‘protected class’ would apply, but in some states, what the boss is doing would put the organization at risk not only of workers’ compensation, but of a straight-up lawsuit. One of the few exception to workers’ comp in my state is where an employer deliberately takes action that aggravates a worker’s existing injury. In that case, the injured worker is not stuck in the WC system and can file a lawsuit.

          This is why OP#1 should go to HR with this.

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            Yes and not only that, I believe he’s doing this after she’s clocked out for the day, another huge no money.

        7. Observer*

          Actually, the OP explicitly sates that she runs the risk of needing more surgery – and that definitely means running the risk of disability (at least short term, and possibly long term.)

      3. AdAgencyChick*

        I was wondering about that and whether the boss could legally retaliate, this being an injury and not a permanent disability.

        I also wonder whether OP can call this “intermittent FMLA.” No, it shouldn’t be *leave* given that the OP isn’t even leaving early, just on time. But if the boss has it in his head that 5 PM is “early” (and that would not be uncommon at all in my industry — but then lots of us show up to work at 10!) and could legally fire OP over this, maybe calling it intermittent FMLA would force him to stop?

        1. Meg Murry*

          Yes, OP – I would get the paperwork together for FMLA – which you would qualify for, having 2 appointments a week. Then keep records showing all your time worked to show that you aren’t really taking any time off – but you have the FMLA paperwork in your pocket to let you leave at the time you need to, or even submit the paperwork to show that you need to leave at 4:30 instead of 5 on PT days. You could also use it for daytime PT appointments like some have suggested, but that depends on how PT goes for you – I know when my father was doing PT he came out of it sweaty and exhausted, so he wouldn’t have been in any shape to go to work after it.

          I also think Alison’s suggestion to check in earlier in the day is good too. Does the boss keep a calendar (and stick to it?) Set up a 3:30 or 4:00 meeting on your PT days (or even every day) in order to check in. The suggestion to write up a status email at the end of the day before you leave is a good one too. Then you can say “I have to leave, but I sent you my status updates in email – reply to that and I’ll get on what you need first thing in the morning when I get in.”

          Last, what is the boss going to do if you walk out of his office at exactly 5 pm, fire you? When he calls at 4:55 pm, come to his office with all your stuff to leave and say “As I told you, I have 5 minutes and then I have to leave. Tell me what is urgent and either email me the rest or I’ll come see you at 8 am when you get in.” If necessary, set an alarm on your phone for 5 pm, and when it goes off, leave.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I think the question about retaliation is more of “how much and when?”. The boss does not seem to be too worried about legalities nor ethics. So even if (big if) the retaliation was illegal, I don’t think it would stop the boss from doing it.

          OP, my heart goes out to you, it’s tough when the boss is a very tall five year old. I have had similar things come up and my punishment was to get my work load doubled.

          1. Graciosa*

            I’m rather torn on this because the boss is behaving so badly – but some people do this because they don’t believe the situation is real or serious. The boss may think he or she is refusing to give in to an attempt at manipulation rather than doing something wrong.

            Yes, I know this is a screwy idea – but people really can be this ignorant. I know of one woman who was convinced her sister-in-law’s allergy to peanut butter was an attention-seeking lie. To prove it, she hid some peanut butter in a dish at a family dinner and put her sister-in-law in the hospital.

            Boss may be thinking that all this supposed PT is an excuse to get out of work early (or other behavior the boss believes should be discouraged). If that’s the case, legalities and ethics are not going to be an issue in the boss’ mind as this is (in the boss’ skewed thinking) more of a disciplinary matter.

            Yes, this is ridiculous, but some people really are that delusional. I have no idea if this boss is one of them, but people can behave very badly without evil intentions.

            If that is the case – and assuming that Boss either does not respond to the steps Alison outlined or retaliates – I do think there might be value in pulling HR into the discussion. HR may be able to convince the manager this is serious even if the OP is not believed. Under the scenario I’ve outlined, Boss is not likely to tell the OP that he or she “knows” the OP is faking, but might well tell HR.

            All of this is complete speculation, of course – but I did want to at least raise the possibility that there might be other motivations at work here.

            And yes, the behavior here is very, very bad. I would agree with you on the characterization if it were not for the fact that most five year olds I have known behaved better than this.

            1. Magda*

              Agree – some people are just really deficient in empathy, or haven’t had the experience of a physical ailment and truly just don’t get it. I’m not always on the “go to HR” train but I think it could be valuable in this case. #1’s manager might need a little come-to-Jesus from a third party.

              The peanut allergy example makes me see red, though. If I were queen of the world, people who did stuff like that would go to jail for attempted murder.

              1. Graciosa*

                Ditto on the jail comment.

                It really is criminal behavior. The woman it happened to let it go for family reasons, but I would not have. Someone who nearly kills you to prove a point (and even if it had been a lie, who cares?) doesn’t deserve any consideration.

                1. neverjaunty*

                  As someone else wisely pointed out, the term for somebody who sneaks you food that you have told them will harm you is “poisoner”.

                2. Case of the Mondays*

                  There was a famous case of a restaurant selling “gluten free” food that was not gluten free. The restaurant owner was being criminally charged and not just for consumer misrepresentation. I think he was being charged with assault or intent to cause bodily harm or something like that.

                3. Cath in Canada*

                  A friend of mine got really sick after eating pizza that a waitress had repeatedly assured her was gluten free. She was in so much pain that she literally passed out while crossing a road and fell into (luckily stopped) traffic. She ended up in hospital for three days. She called the restaurant to complain, and they fired the waitress – which my friend actually felt bad about, but c’mon.

              2. UK Nerd*

                The ‘hiding the thing that makes you ill in your food’ thing is the one situation when I feel that it’s socially acceptable to deliberately vomit on someone.

            2. Dynamic Beige*

              SBJ. Are they still married? It’s hard to tell from the story how everyone is related but if I knew I was married to someone who was capable of doing that out of stupidity/spite/jealousy — after a whole lot of nights sleeping with one eye open, I’d be speaking with a divorce lawyer. I don’t know if there’s enough therapy in the world to get over something like that, for me at least. I could understand if it were an accident, but to intentionally do something like that? Yeah, she should have gone to jail. I hope she realises just how lucky she is and is duly ashamed, in intensive therapy.

            3. Collarbone High*

              This was my first thought, because my dad is like this. Unless you’ve just lost a limb in farm machinery, you’re not *really* sick or injured. He believes missing work/school/anything due to illness is a sign of moral failing, and that if you just showed a little more gumption, you could suck it up.

              I have Crohn’s disease (not a real thing, just attention-seeking behavior per dad) and I’ll never forget the look on my surgeon’s face when my dad asked if surgery to remove a complete bowel obstruction was really necessary. He explained that my small intestine had grown shut and I could no longer digest food, and dad replied “She could if she really wanted to.” The surgeon’s expression was a great illustration of the concept “I can’t even.”

              So yeah, I can totally see him sabotaging someone’s PT like this, to “prove” that it’s not necessary and to “punish” the employee for being so weak as to need it. Unfortunately, if this is the case, there’s no reasoning with someone whose views are so skewed, and the OP will have to either outwit the boss or get HR involved.

              1. I'm a Little Teapot*

                Wow, I hope your dad never made any decisions regarding your medical care when you were a child. He sounds like one of those parents who (rightfully) lose custody of their children because they’re opposed to all medical care and the kid gets appendicitis/juvenile diabetes/whatever.

      4. BananaPants*

        For an exempt employee in (presumably) an at-will work situation, the boss can terminate OP for just about any reason he likes, as long as OP isn’t terminated for being in a protected class. And if this crummy boss is trying to force OP out they will document it as not being willing to put in the work for the job (by not working late/extra when asked) rather than because OP has a physical therapy appointment after normal working hours.

        OP, I’d switch to a morning PT appointment and use intermittent FMLA (if necessary) or sick time/PTO (if possible).

        1. Judy*

          I’d use intermittent FMLA while using the sick time/PTO. It offers protection in case the manager is retaliatory. A co-worker was advised once to sign up for intermittent FMLA while taking a morning every two weeks to take her husband to chemo. She had enough vacation days to cover it. Her manager maybe forgot about the FMLA, because it was brought up in her review that year that she was missing so much time (less than her annual vacation days) in small increments.

          1. fposte*

            That’s a good point–that if the OP files FMLA, her boss can’t legally bitch about her leaving at 5 instead of hanging out with him.

          2. Stranger than fiction*

            Wow I just don’t get companies like that . They give you the paid sick/vacation then punish you for using it? And they weren’t even maxed out? And the people signing off on these reviews had no clue didn’t even think to see if they had some issue going on?!

            1. Hlyssande*

              One of my coworkers was once written up for taking all of her (5) sick days too early in the year due to two serious illnesses in a row.


          3. Connie-Lynne*

            This is one thing I’ve never been clear on. If someone becomes chronically ill (not malingering, but long-term illness, like pneumonia + complications), takes sick leave or other authorized time off for it, is it also against the ADA to penalize them on their review?

            I understand they can’t be let go, but I had thought it was still legal (if heartless) to downrate them for failure to perform (for example, if tasks are not completed by them or have to be transferred to coworkers).

            1. I'm a Little Teapot*

              I don’t think pneumonia is legally considered a disability under the FMLA. It’s sadly legal for your employer to fire or otherwise discipline you for infectious diseases.

              1. Judy*

                Pneumonia is probably not considered a disability under ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). Any serious illness or injury to yourself or certain family members can be covered under FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act).

        2. V.V.*

          Thank you Banana Pants! This is precisely the point I was trying to make above that I apparently did not make clear.

          Fortunately most people on here have never had to go toe to toe with such a boss, so it would not cross their minds that someone would try this. Some seem to think that there is some inviolable loyalty owed to the employee, seeing as they have worked there for 17 years after all. Unfortunately doing the job well doesn’t always protect you. A boss who is threatened by your skill, or a company wanting to go in another direction, are not always above seeing such a worker as an obstacle, nor are they above using something like this as grounds.

          A friend of mine wound up being the highest paid employee of a chain pharmacy in her state, simply by being grandfathered in at her previous wage when her mom – and -pop sold out. Her manager really did not like that she made more money than he did, so he started documenting exaggerated and false transgressions.

          When she phoned in sick, he put her down as a no call no show. When she left early to attend to a family emergency, he noted that she left early without notifying him and without permission. All the while telling her everything was on the up and up, so she wasn’t worried about having to explain herself in the future, because as far as she knew there was no problem. Months later, he had a nice little package to sell to corporate why she should be let go, and seeing as how they were trying to keep wages beneath their margins, they accepted it without much investigation and even fought her on unemployment.

          Some may think I am taking a leap too far, but I think this boss needs to be watched, and the OP needs to protect themselves even if it is using FMLA, or disability or what have you. Many have argued OP may not be disabled, however I have seen several places that a person has to specifically ask for an accomodation or a company can use that in their defense when they discipline or terminate a person:

          “Well so and so never told the company they needed a stool to do their job due to their (protected) condition, or we would have been happy to give them one!”

          Who the heck knows that? Someone who only temporarily needs leeway may not.

    2. Rebecca*

      This is exactly where my mind went – is the boss trying to force this worker out? 17 years + exempt = probably max amount of leave time and a higher salary. Boss could be itching to save money by getting rid of this employee and hiring an entry level person. What better way to do this than make work life so miserable the person quits, especially when he probably can’t fire the employee based on actual work results.

      1. Artemesia*

        This seems to be what the OP fears or she would not be putting up with it. Does this manager have a boss?

    3. Katie the Fed*

      Here is the definition of disability under the EEOC:

      A person can show that he or she has a disability in one of three ways:

      •A person may be disabled if he or she has a physical or mental condition that substantially limits a major life activity (such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, or learning).
      •A person may be disabled if he or she has a history of a disability (such as cancer that is in remission).
      •A person may be disabled if he is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor (even if he does not have such an impairment).

      Those are pretty broad conditions. Right now, I can’t walk. Therefore I have a disability.

      1. LBK*

        I’d think that last one would probably preclude the OP from qualifying, assuming this is resultant from a broken bone, torn muscle or something similar (ie once the physical therapy is done, the injury would be considered cured in a span of less than 6 months).

        1. Katie the Fed*

          I posted a link but it doesn’t show up yet. There is case law on this – that even temporary injuries can qualify under some conditions.

          We’re all speculating at this point without more information anyway. And 6 months is pretty optimistic on some injuries – it will probably be at least a year before I’m back to normal.

  7. James M*

    #5: Some options when a low offer comes with the “not negotiable” sticker:
    Remain silent for a slow count to 3, then stand. With a sneer, say “I can see that your time is valuable.” and then leave.
    Look puzzled for a moment, then say “I was under the impression that I’m applying for <position>. Are you sure you haven’t confused $<offered salary> with the salary for a lower position?”
    Burst into laughter. After a few seconds wipe away an imagined tear and say “Oh! You’re serious? I’m so sorry. Please excuse me.” Then exit.

    Don’t actually try these btw…

    1. James M*

      Gah! HTML got scrubbed. Just imagine list bullets before “Remain”, “Look”, and “Burst”.

    2. MK*

      Before you even mentally do any of these things or get into a state of righteous indignation about them lowballing you, maybe consider if they have a point? The OP writes:

      “Even considering geographical cost of living differences, my research showed that the salary would be about $5K less than what is offered in the next largest neighboring city (45 minutes away).”

      Generally speaking, the next largest neighboring city that is 45 minutes away will have higher cost of living, assuming the job is in a small/medium-sized town. It sounds to me that the offer might have been the standard salary for the area.

      1. Cheesecake*

        I agree, it is not only about cost of living, it is about market value of a job in that area, and it is lower than in the city. OP is probably not in a super high demand job and the company does not have problems attracting candidates, thus they are not willing to negotiate.

      2. James M*

        Even considering geographical cost of living differences, my research showed that the salary would be about $5K less than what is offered in the next largest neighboring city (45 minutes away)

        Odd wording, but I read it as the lowball offer being $5K less than what OP would expect to find in a nearby smaller city. I.e: the lowball offer is well below market average no matter how you slice it geographically.

        1. MK*

          I see what you mean, the wording is unclear. Reading the letter again, I realise that what made me question the OP’s estimate is that she wrote:

          “…the salary was $10-15K below market rate and what I felt I was worth. Even considering geographical cost of living differences, …”

          It appears that she came up with a “market rate” before considering the geographical factor, but market rate is partly (in a large part) determined by this factor (cost of living, desirability, local candidates available, etc). So I am not sure she is using the right tools to estimate market rate in general. If in the neighboring town the market rate is 5K more (and that is a big “if”, the OP says this is “what is offered”, so I hope she isn’t going by the top salary paid for the position), but the hiring manager is not even willing to negotiate, maybe she should consider why that is. It could be that the OP’s job is in asmaller town with lower cost of living (what I originally thought). It could be that there is some disadvantage in the neighboring town (too remote, not-great amenities, etc.), so they have to offer more to attract candidates.

          I think that even now it’s worth trying to figure out why they weren’t willing to negotiate on a salary the OP felt was too low. If the reasons are valid, she can start her working without feeling her employer pulled one over her. Maybe she can even ask her manager, if they have a good enough relationship.

          1. Oryx*

            Yes, I’d be curious to hear back from the OP on where they are getting their numbers related to market rate and such. Like baseballfan below says, trolling does not a reasonable counteroffer make.

        2. Graciosa*

          I’m currently on the side of not being convinced that the offer was a lowball one to begin with.

          It’s not unusual for a candidate to convince themselves that they are worth more than they really are from a market perspective. If you provide a salary range, the overwhelming majority of candidates expect to be at the top of it.

          People also have a tendency to focus only on market data that supports the number they want. Higher figures are more reasonable (even if the comparable role is in a Fortune 50 company with much greater responsibility than the 75 person local employer) and lower figures are eliminated as irrelevant (the other employer in the same small midwestern city only makes cocoa teapots, so the real comparison is to chocolate teapot companies in New York or Los Angeles!).

          This is normal and human, but does mean that candidates need to be careful to be objective in researching the market rate for a position.

          The market rate for the role is going to be what you would pay good qualified candidates to accept it. That’s one reason turning the job down is a good response to an offer unsatisfactory to the candidate. If the employer can find a similarly competent person to do the role for the rejected salary, the employer was right about the market. If this doesn’t happen, the employer was wrong and will have to increase the salary to attract good candidates.

          Our salary offers are pretty non-negotiable (below C-suite) as well. We try very hard to make sure that we hire people with comparable qualifications for the same role at the same salary (evaluated every year with market assessments performed by professionals). We prefer to pay everyone a fair salary – not only the people who negotiated the offer. This does not mean that the offer is a lowball, or that the refusal to negotiate was malicious in any way.

          I do think that a candidate who accepts an offer needs to put aside any resentment before they get to the job. Own the decision and take responsibility for the choice. Ongoing bitterness toward an employer who gave an employee a salary offer 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐨𝐲𝐞𝐞 𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐞𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐝 is not a good start for the relationship.

          Finally, on a more personal note, $5,000 would not be enough to tempt me to commute an hour and a half every day. I wouldn’t consider that location a part of my personal market of available employers unless I was planning to move there. I know my experience is not universal, but enough people who think that way may influence the comparative market rates of the two cities.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            We prefer to pay everyone a fair salary – not only the people who negotiated the offer. This does not mean that the offer is a lowball, or that the refusal to negotiate was malicious in any way.

            I fully support this approach, and I’m glad when I see it.

      3. baseballfan*

        I frequently think, when these negotiating conversations come up, that candidates often don’t know nearly as much about “market” pay for a position than they think they do. There are so many variables. Trolling does not a reasonable counteroffer make.

        Of course, it’s also true that some companies simply lowball, by anyone’s definition. But I think more often the company knows what the position is actually worth (not to mention what the candidate is worth, by virtue of his/her experience and skills).

        1. Snargulfuss*

          “candidates often don’t know nearly as much about “market” pay for a position than they think they do”

          The frustrating this is, where do you find good, reliable, accurate market data? It’s one thing if you’ve had several years of experience in the field or in the geographic area and can network with others to gather information. It’s quite another if you’re new to an area or a new graduate and don’t have many resources other than what you can find on and Glassdoor.

          I think the way we do salary offers in this country is mind-bogglingly frustrating.

    3. Anonicorn*

      But if OP was offered roughly the same salary range from at least two different employers in an area, then I would take that as an indication this is an accurate salary for that role, in that city, with OP’s qualifications and experience.

      1. Jen S 2.0*

        OP has the option of accepting one of those offers, then. This offer isn’t going to compare. But if the commute is the reason OP wants this job, then that commute is worth -$5,000.

  8. ReanaZ*

    #4… Could you also say you haven’t figured it out yet? “I’m still figuring it out.” is a good all-purpose response in my head, and far less likely to raise suspicious or amp up the pressure to tell or cause bad feelings letter than “Oh, some small place you’ve never heard of (jk your major competitor).” It alos makes a good repeat-on-refrain if people continue asking questions. Oh, but don’t you have any ideas? I’m still figuring it out. But surely you have some. I’m still figuring it out. Who exactly are you considering then? I’m still figuring it out.

    Have you already told people you’re leaving because you got an offer elsewhere? How would they know for sure you were even going to another company unless you told them? I have never had an offer before leaving a previous job (against all the advice, I know, but it’s working for me), so while people expect you have another job lined up, it’s not like it’s that uncommon to quit for whatever reason before something else is finalised.

    If it’s obvious you’re leaving because you got another offer and not just because you want to leave, you could go with “I am still deciding what offer to go with.” If pressed for where those offers are, I think “I’m not comfortable discussing that until everything is official.” is also a perfectly fine thing to say.

    I don’t know; Alison’s responses just read as super suspicious/trying to hide something to me. I would be way more likely to press for an answer if I got them than if I got a different deflection.

    1. Cheesecake*

      If OP did not mention a concrete new job, then it is a good idea to say “it is not official yet”. But honestly any indirect answer raises suspicion. So what. OP has a right to not disclose her new job and should stick to it. I had extra chatty colleagues who out of nowhere did not want to answer any questions about their new jobs. So be it.

      1. BRR*

        I like the “it’s not official yet” or “we’re still hammering out the fine details.” I wish we lived in a world where you could respond, “I’m not telling you because you bad mouth employees to their new employer.”

        If they keep this up people are going to stop giving any notice.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Well, why couldn’t she just say that? It’s the truth and she’s leaving anyways.

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            I guess I meant more for the nosy coworkers with the boss she has to be a bit more careful

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      I agree — I’d just tell my boss, “I’d rather not say,” and if asked why, also “I’d rather not say either.”

      It’s not uncommon that people won’t tell in my industry, though, so that answer wouldn’t be unusual although it probably wouldn’t be satisfying to an inquisitive boss.

      1. Qlarue*

        I’ve been looking for so long but when I do finally get to give notice, I have already decided that “I’d rather not say” will be my go to.

    3. AMD*

      I agree – something non-committal sits better with me than something untrue, and it seems like it would be easier to shut down questions with than admitting there is a specific place and making weird excuses for not saying what it is.

    4. OP #4*

      I have told one very close colleague who I am friends with outside of work about the job offer and that I will be leaving and completely trust her to keep my confidence as she is actively looking to leave as well.

      My direct manager’s position was eliminated about 6 months ago due to restructuring (I currently have no day to day supervisor)and I know senior management is concerned that staff will follow him (he’s at a competitor). And they’re right. So I am expecting to be pressed on this. I don’t mind being vague as opposed to refusing, I just worry that they’re crazy enough to show me the door immediately leaving my coworkers and clients in a lurch. But I suppose that’s they’re decision.

      1. wishing you the best going forward*

        well for those who are just nosy, and who will just NOT leave you alone, you could possibly say “I am pursuing other interests” which can mean you are going back to school, won the lottery, or into a ministry of some sort.

        and for such “inquiring minds” you could always download and play the kacey Musgraves song “Biscuits” to give a hint to them to nose somewhere else.

        But however you choose to handle it, I do agree that not answering the question with the name of the company is the best answer.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Well if they do show you the door, then it’s their problem what to do about the coworkers and clients. It sucks, yes, but that’s not on you–it’s on them.

      3. Observer*

        That’s your employer’s decision, and there is nothing you can do. I can’t imagine anyone in your group holding it against you.

    5. A.K. Climpson*

      I totally agree – I’d personally be a lot more comfortable saying things weren’t final than trying to vaguely describe the new job. I wish we lived in a culture where “I’d rather not say” was totally fine and respected, but I feel like in some places it would lead to a lot of people asking why or pressing for more information.

      The repetitive script of “I’m still figuring out” is great. I might also throw in an “I don’t want to jinx anything before it’s final.” (Final in this case: you in another job without having given current employers a way to badmouth you)

  9. NBF*

    #2 Where I work, we conduct interviews along the same lines you described. Here, every person who met with the candidate is given an evaluation form at the end of the day that asks for potential strengths, potential weaknesses, and other observations, and then we will give the candidate a number ranking. After we have finished interviewing all candidates, the hiring manager will put together a summery of everyone’s evaluation for each candidate and average the rankings, and then we all meet to discuss who we want to extend an offer to, at which point the hiring manager may call references of that person, with he/she having the final say on who is hired.

  10. "Find yourself a cup; the teapot is behind you. Now tell me about hundreds of things."*

    #2 In an Old Job I had a manager who would do his best to delay a member of staff on a whim if he found out they planned to leave the office on time, no matter how good the reason was. If you just left on time in the normal way there was rarely a problem. He was just Plain Awkward.

    I agree with suggestions already put forward here. Also, if you get 10 minutes or so during the afternoon, would it be worth composing an email with your progress and updates? It might humour him, and you could just press the send button 2-3 minutes before 5 pm. It least it might cover all bases and will give you the advantage of acting super professionally.

  11. "Find yourself a cup; the teapot is behind you. Now tell me about hundreds of things."*

    #4 I sympathise totally here. If you have a toxic employer the last thing you want to do, especially when you have a chance to move clear of them, is to trigger an attack against you.

    However, is there a chance New Job will contact Old Job about a reference and your employers will find out the name of your new organization that way?

    Apologies if I have missed a point here.

    1. Merry and Bright*

      I wondered about this too. Or is it that the employees are slated during the references?

    2. OP #4*

      Gah! I hope not! It’s a competitor so I would hope that they wouldn’t. But perhaps the background check agency will to verify employment?

      My references are all former supervisors from previous employers so hopefully that’s enough and they won’t have to contact current.

      1. RVA Cat*

        I wonder if you may want to give your new supervisor a head’s up about this toxic behavior. Maybe frame it as a rumor that you aren’t sure is true?

  12. Katie the Fed*

    #1 – I’m dealing with something very similar right now. In my case it’s people just not being used to the fact that my leaving time is a hard time, because I used to stay late. So now when people start talking to me right before I leave I have to say “I’m sorry, but I’m leaving in 5 minutes – please email me your question and I’ll get to it first thing tomorrow.

    If it continues after you follow Alison’s good advice, you might have to formally request reasonable accomodation from your HR. The accomodation you’re seeking is being allowed to leave work at time. It’s obviously reasonable. That should help him honor it.

    Good luck in your recovery!

  13. Carrie in Scotland*

    #1 – Quite a few comments above suggest that moving the pt appointment to the morning would be good idea.
    But this might not always be possible for various reasons. Who is to say that the pt office is even open early in the morning?

    1. Merry and Bright*

      Agree! Also, the boss sounds such a jerk that he would probably start inventing urgent, must-attend meetings first thing in the morning.

    2. MK*

      Sure, it might not be possible. But it is a non-confrontational way to deal with the problem and perhaps find out exactly what the boss’ game is.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Except that it changes from “boss prevents me from leaving on time” to “asking for special accommodations/changing working conditions”.

        1. fposte*

          I think that the boss already views a request to leave right at 5 as a request for special accommodations, though. I mean, I think I’d start by doing what Alison suggests to keep the same time; I’d then explore the intermittent FMLA possibility for the evening appointments; if boss still fought the departure in a way that made it difficult to get there even after I filed FMLA, I would actually just move it to the morning so that I’d be sure to get to the appointment.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I think OP should say something along the lines of, “I don’t like doing this any more than you like me leaving for PT. But it is a temporary thing. I will only do this for awhile. Can we just get through it?”

      As an aside, it does nothing for the employer’s reputation if OP is cancelling PT appointment because the employer made her stay and work. Businesses become aware of who treats their employee’s shabbily and who doesn’t and word does go around the community.

      But I know these situations are hard to deal with. My husband had a boss that would hold him after work and cuss him out for a half hour everyday. My husband’s choices were stand and take it OR get double the next day. For whatever reason the boss seemed to have a lot of anger.

    4. Cheesecake*

      I am actually surprised you can do physio in the evening. Where i live i’d say 5pm would be latest you could have your appointment.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I did my physical therapy in NYC, and I went to an office that was part of a large network. Their hours were something like 6am to 9pm. It was amazing. My therapist had a flexible schedule where some mornings she worked early and some nights she worked late. When I was able to go in the mornings, I caught a 10-minute pre-work cat nap at the end when I had to have a heating pad on my back. It was a wonderful place and I loved my therapist and the whole staff.

      2. Nashira*

        A lot of clinics in the US do it because so many folks have a hard time getting leave during the day for PT. Same for mental health services… I’m grateful my therapist has evening hours, since trying to get out early or come in late for therapy would be really hard in my office. Mostly because people are jerks.

        1. Cheesecake*

          In Europe (German speaking countries mostly) people value their free time. Sometimes they value it over money, because amount of people who will even pay extra for evening hours is enormous. But therapists and doctors want to go home 6pm latest (and i am not mentioning real estate agents that do viewings at 1.30pm!) On the flip sort of side, when i had to go to doctor, i just did, be it 11am or 3pm, because there is no other way and i did not hear any complaint or receive a “sudden meeting” request. I just cover up for these hours later.

  14. Not Today Satan*

    #3. I start a new temp job in a few weeks, and the first day is… five days before my wedding. :-/ Since it’s a fixed term, I didn’t want the start date back, but I asked for 3 days off, and they were fine with it.

    That being said, a wedding is different than an alumni event. But usually if you tell an employer that you already had a trip planned (which isn’t totally accurate in your situation) they’ll let you take off.

    1. American in London*

      I had to do this for a family event (needing one day off) and a wedding (a second day off) within a month of being hired. My PTO was accrued, so I had to take time without pay. My manager was fine with it since I gave her advance warning shortly after I started. I understood I had to take time without pay, and it wasn’t an issue with HR.

  15. Cruella DaBoss*

    #1 Someone may have already asked this, but do you have written documentation from your doctor for these therapy appointments? I’d share a copy not only with the boss, but also with your HR representative.
    Just a thought

  16. TotesMaGoats*

    #3-While I agree with Allison’s way of asking for the time off, if it’s something you want. Do you think it’s wise? Unless you have a family member graduating, I’d probably raise and eyebrow and you asking to attend the graduation festivities just because you are an alum. But maybe that’s because I don’t have any great alumni feelings for my alma maters. I would hold asking off early in my role for something a little bit more valuable, I guess.

    1. LBK*

      OP commented above that she has several friends graduating since they overlapped in classes for a year, so it would be a specific personal connection, not just a general “graduations are fun” thing.

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        I guess my sympathetic switch hasn’t turned on this morning. I still don’t know if attending a friend’s graduation is where I’d want to use this particular “card”.

        1. Laurel Gray*

          I agree with both your comments and would even go a step forward and say that even the particular family member matters too! I just think asking for time off so soon in starting a position, and never mentioning it after the offer, is not a great idea unless there are specific circumstances (illness, wedding, death to name a few). NewBoss may be nice so far, but isn’t it possibly a stretch to assume that they would care that a new hire wants to be at a graduation/alumni weekend of their alma mater to see friends graduate rather than be in the beginning of their new role getting their feet wet.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      You don’t really need to explain why you want the days off, though. You can just say “Something’s come up, and I’d love to attend, but I wanted to run it by you since it’ll be just a month into my work with you. If it works out, great – but I totally understand if it’s not possible.”

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        And I get that and agree. You don’t have to explain but I can see the scenario where you come back and are talking about your weekend with colleagues, trying to build relationships by sharing weekend activities and your boss hears that you were gone because you went to a friend’s college graduation.

    3. Olala*

      I don’t understand why everyone gets to jump on people’s reasoning for taking time off. To be totally frank so many of these comments are so judgy. Why do you get to determine what is important to someone else? OP just needs to ask for two days off for an important event but understands that it may not be possible so soon after starting. If the boss tries to dig into what the event is, then they are a crappy boss!

  17. AnotherAlison*

    #2 – After the interview

    We fill out evaluation forms individually, and everyone indicates whether they recommend or do not recommend making an offer to the candidate. Ultimately, the department manager (and possibly the VPs above, depending on the position) decide. The worst is when it was a split decision to recommend or not, and the manager decides to hire the person. You can easily end up working with people that you didn’t think were a good fit.

    1. Anonicorn*

      This is how it happens at my workplace as well. Usually if the team decision isn’t a firm “yes” then we don’t proceed with the candidate; however, our decision has been overruled by management before. I agree it makes things a little awkward, but only in my own mind, and usually we prepare extra training or whatever for what we thought that person would struggle with.

    2. Graciosa*

      We do have evaluation forms we completed for each candidate during the interview (notes and score on each question, plus an “overall impression” component) however the discussion is a little less formal. The Hiring Manager usually starts with “What did you think?” and goes around the room to get input from everyone on the panel. Unless someone is a clear choice (which does happen) there is usually discussion of the top candidates.

      To give a specific example, I recently participated on a panel for a position where there were two top candidates. Either would have been a very good choice, and there was actually a third who would have been acceptable. In answering one question about conflict resolution, one candidate gave an example that demonstrated the use of empathy and the other candidate gave an answer that demonstrated the use of positional power.

      Either can be an appropriate choice in this role, so neither is a bad answer. However, we had a healthy discussion about which tendency might be slightly more beneficial in this particular position and ended up choosing one of the candidates as a result. If we’d had a second position open, we would happily have hired the other candidate as well, but we only had one and sometimes it comes down to these types of subtleties.

      We do take this very seriously, and really work to identify the best candidate for each role.

      That said, I will admit that we have been known to comment on other things once the serious discussion is over. For example, we once selected and ultimately hired a great candidate who wore very colorful socks to the interview. After we made our decision, someone asked “Did you get to see his socks?” and we had a few lighthearted moments describing the winning candidate’s socks to people on the other side of the table who missed them.

      No one would have hired him just for his socks (we’re not that fashionable!) but we’re human and we enjoyed them. :-)

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Who did you choose? Mr. Empathy or Ms. Positional Power?

        (Just curious – this is not a leading question. :))

        1. Graciosa*

          I debated about whether to answer this because it really could have gone either way depending upon the exact role, but for this one we went with Mr. Empathy.

          As a follow up, we had a conversation yesterday about hiring Ms. Positional Power for a different team where she would be a great fit. :-)

  18. shellbell*

    If that is your best offer after 7 months after looking, maybe that is the market rate for someone with your skills and experience.

    1. LBK*

      Yeah, I agree. I’m curious how the OP has determined that this is the market rate – where are the data points coming from, and if it’s from what you see other companies offering, maybe apply for those? If you have and you haven’t gotten jobs there…well, this is kind of harsh, but maybe you aren’t actually qualified for the higher paying positions.

  19. Amethyst*

    OP #1, yikes. I’m sorry that your boss is doing this to you. I used to work in a surgeon’s office and my boss would’ve been livid if someone’s PT was being sabotaged like this! I hope the new tactics suggested help you get to your appointments and that your boss cools down. What he’s doing is just bullying.

    1. Mephyle*

      Would your boss have been willing to write a strongly-worded letter to the employee’s boss if requested?
      Would this be a productive tactic in the present case?

      1. fposte*

        I can’t see why. Neither the doctor nor the PT are the boss of the boss. He has no obligation to care what they think, and this would sound like the OP thought he had to.

      2. Mephyle*

        The reason why would be if it falls into the category of “boss doesn’t take employee’s health condition seriously, minimizes it, thinks employee is malingering or faking, thinks physical therapy is a waste of time.”

        1. fposte*

          None of that is illegal, though, and a doctor’s note doesn’t make it so. A doctor has no special status in her own right to require your work to do anything. That power, in a case like this, would be in the ADA or FMLA, as Judy notes. You may be involving a doctor’s note with claims under those laws, but it’s the law that makes it matter, and without the law, it doesn’t have to mean anything to the employer at all.

  20. Partly Cloudy*

    #1 – Your boss is a jerk. :( I’m on team Don’t Answer the Phone at 5.

    #4 – I did this, although for different reasons than the OP. I just told people I was keeping it confidential for now, and then updated my LinkedIn profile with my new job a few weeks later. I’m sure there were rumors about where I was going, but if people wanted to let their imaginations run wild, so be it. And the specific rumors I suspect were circulating were proven false after I started telling people about my new job.

    1. Mike C.*

      I’m feeling spiteful, so I’m forming team “pick up the phone and slam it down to stop it from ringing”.

  21. Mike C.*

    I have to say, #1 and #4 piss me off so much, simply because of how blatantly disrespctful management is acting.

    For #1, there is no computer system in the world that is worth your health. If you manager needs coverage, it their job to schedule it. I don’t care about the toxic IT culture that says “you must work hard, play never, live at work” and so on. Your server crashed while you’re trying to take care of yourself? Whoop de doo, your health comes first.

    Checking in an hour early sounds like great advice and sure it’s something to try. Yet I can’t imagine it will stop these endless last minute meetings. If this manager isn’t simply trying to get you to leave, they don’t care about you. They’ll keep you late simply because they can, and they get off on controlling others – nothing more than that bad vice principal in high school.

    For #4 – F*** your management. You know all too well they’re trying to shiv your career in the kidneys while they have this last chance, so treat them as such. There’s nothing more insulting when they’re “just curious” about where you’re going to be and then feign offense when you tell them to buzz off. You weren’t born yesterday, you’ve seen it happen, you’re not an idiot so why play the games?

    If you’re feeling up to it, make something up, and change your story every time they ask. Make it more ridiculous every time. Start with something small like, “I’m going to professionally race riding lawn mowers” or “I was picked for that trip to Mars” and work from there. Nuclear engineering? Sure. Mickey Mouse on Ice? Labor Lawyer or Union Organizer? Save those for later. Go for it. Have fun. Don’t let them prevent you from getting ahead because they don’t have control over you anymore.

    1. TK*

      I really want to meet someone who quit their job to professionally race riding lawn mowers. This has to be a thing, right?

          1. I'm a Little Teapot*

            Uhh, I’m not so sure about that. Anybody remember that episode of Mad Men with the riding mower and the guy’s foot and the blood and *shudder*?

    2. neverjaunty*

      I agree re #4 – OP, it’s none of their business where you are going, and there is nothing shady about not telling them. What you do when you are not working for them anymore is NOT THEIR BUSINESS.

      Personally I am in favor of the playing dumb/vagueing approach, if only because it’s very hard to get around without them being openly rude. You know that if you are straightforward, they will abuse that information, so why give it to them?

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Tell them you’ve always wanted to be a LUMBERJACK… Leaping from tree to tree! As they float down the mighty rivers of British Columbia! With my best girl by my side! <– because everyone knows that a log driver's waltz pleases girls completely.

        Or deep sea welding. Or you're going to start an Emu farm.

    1. Mike C.*

      Yeah, I totally get it if you can’t, the blatant deception and undue harm they’re trying to cause (which if they lie is actually quite illegal!) really pisses me off.

      If they wanted to keep you around, they could have increased your compensation and started treating you well. They don’t own you, they aren’t entitled to your continued employment and they’re attempt to punish you like they’ve punished others for leaving is batshit crazy.

      I hope your three weeks goes by quickly and that your next position is managed by human beings this time around.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Can I ask the flip side of this question? For those readers who are hiring managers, if you hired someone and her references (previous three employers) said she was amazing (even after you pressed them with hard questions), and then your new hire’s current employer called up to say “So and so is actually terrible,” would you really think the new hire is terrible or would you think “I can see why she left that place…”?

      1. neverjaunty*

        If an employer said so-and-so was terrible, I’d want to know what ‘terrible’ meant. Did they come in late every day? Did they not finish their work? Did they get into a fistfight with customers? Usually you can, by asking pointed questions, find out whether there are concrete issues with someone’s work performance vs. “we just didn’t like this person”.

        Also even large industries have overlap, and especially in the same geographic area, managers know that particular companies are or aren’t good places to work. If Acme Inc. is a sweatshop that treats its employees badly, I’m not likely to give much credence to an Acme manager who says “oh, Wakeen was just a terrible employee because reasons.”

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Well, I guess I’ve got my answer. So in some ways, I don’t know how much this OP has to worry about. Sure, the new employer may get a strange call, but in all likelihood, she’ll think “I can see why so-and-so left that place” and not “Who did we hire?!”

      2. Partly Cloudy*

        I would think the former employer is either vindictive or crazy, and unprofessional either way. I suppose there’s a CHANCE they’re legitimately trying to warn a new employer about a bad seed, but a very slim one, in my opinion. They’d have nothing to gain.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          And building on this… would it ever be appropriate to actually call up a soon-to-be-former employee’s new workplace and tell them that that employee was a whiner/caught with their hand in the till/other thing? I can’t see how it could be except there was that letter a few weeks ago about the ex-volunteer coach and the inappropriate relationship with a student, which makes me wonder that there must be a line in there somewhere. I’ve read things on here that there are limits to what someone can say about an employee when responding to a call where they are following up on references, maybe just calling is crossing the line? You can’t be proactive in such a situation because it’s not your place to do so legally?

          1. fposte*

            I think that’s an “it depends.” The bigger the offense, of course, the less likely I am to know where the employee’s going, because she’s not likely to tell me. Whiner, no–that’s a disproportionate response to a minor flaw that might not even exist under another manager, so it looks vengeful of me to call. Took money? I’d quite possibly call on that, especially if the new position involved handling money and/or I had any connection or acquaintanceship with the new position. Endangerment of the vulnerable that somehow didn’t get a court record–or that did and the new employer apparently didn’t check? In a hot second I’d call about that.

            1. I'm a Little Teapot*

              Nailed it. (Calling about an entirely imaginary offense, of course, is right out, not to mention libel.)

  22. Case of the Mondays*

    This doesn’t address your boss’s jerk behavior, number 1, but it seems like you are going to PT near where you live instead of near work. Could you find a PT near work that has evening hours and then you wouldn’t have to leave work as early? You shouldn’t have to do this but sometimes a work around is the best way to deal with a crappy situation. I have all my appts near work instead of near home for this reason. I can get in and out faster.

    1. Celeste*

      That’s kind of brilliant, and in fact I do the same with my providers only because I work downtown and there’s nothing in the semi-rural town I commute to at night.

  23. Titan Dude*

    #3 – I think especially if you call your company now, before you even begin, it will look a lot better than waiting until you start. I can’t see any employer not wanting their employee to attend their graduation, so go for it!

  24. NYSkier*

    One other thing – my company is a very large company – we have a medical department in the building and as part of that- they even offer physical therapy on site, within the building, company sponsored. I looked into that and found out that they only offer PT from 8-4 – work hours. So I declined and arranged my own PT outside at 7pm. Funny that the company has it for our convenience but my boss would never let me go.

    I did not know that FMLA covers the need for medical appointments. I thought it was only for “leave” – like for a long time. I may take this up with HR – at least to let them know of the situation even if I ask them to not do anything out of fear of retaliation.

    And – I had to cancel PT last night. Got the call at 4:59pm!

Comments are closed.