listing a medical marijuana clinic as an employer, excluded from a team lunch, and more

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

1. Listing a medical marijuana collective as an employer

I am a Los Angeles resident and am employed as a manager at a large medical marijuana collective. I began as a budtender in 2011 and three promotions later, I am managing a facility with over $3.5 million in sales annually. However, my partner has just accepted a great position in Oklahoma City and I am preparing to move out there and begin a job search.

While what I do is legal under the laws of the state of California, it is illegal under federal law and would also be illegal for me to do the same thing in Oklahoma.

Do I include this job on my resume; or will I be better off with a 5-year employment gap?

List it. It’s legitimate employment, and either way it’s better than a 5-year gap (which would also have to come with lying when asked what you were doing during those five years).

Will it turn some people off? Sure. But plenty of others will be fine with it and find it interesting.

Also, add a note next to the employer’s name that says “(operating legally under California state law).” If you can include in your accomplishments anything like “ensured that facility complied with all applicable state laws” or anything else that emphasizes the state-legal nature of what you were doing, that will help too.

2. Coworker won’t stop talking about medical issues

I have a coworker who has a habit and practice of complaining about her medical issues. She shares very detailed private medical issues not only about herself, but about her child. She shares with not only coworkers, but our customers who come into our office to use our facility.

I have complained to my supervisor, who is not an HR professional. In addition, I have advised her that her sharing makes me feel uncomfortable. However, she continues to share with other coworkers in a setting in which I can hear.

If this was a sexual harassment or complaint against ethnicity, would my complain be taken more seriously? I am not sure how to proceed. Should I just suck it up and try not to listen to these conversations?

It would indeed be taken more seriously, because those things are illegal while sharing one’s own medical information is not.

If you’ve asked the coworker herself to stop and she won’t, and if your manager doesn’t care, there’s not really much you can do here. You can call it out every time you hear it, I suppose (“Jane, I’d prefer not to talk about medical issues”), and that might get her to at least tone it down around you, but ultimately this is pretty much the same as a coworker who talks non-stop about Cross-Fit or baking or wedding planning any other personal topic: annoying, but not something you can unilaterally stop.

3. Coworkers are acting like it’s a big deal that I’m using our educational assistance benefit

I work at Teapot College in a student services type role. Before I started working here, I was enrolled in a Master’s degree program, but when I saw the job description at TC, I thought it fit my skills and experience so well that I decided to apply for it, even though I originally had my heart set on going to grad school (I’m interested in getting a higher degree because I’d eventually like to become a college professor). When I was interviewing for my position, I mentioned my desire to pursue a Master’s Degree, and was assured that TC encourages its employees to advance their education, and that in fact, they offer an Educational Assistance program for employees that will pay 70% of the degree (assuming it falls within certain parameters). This program was explained to me as a benefit of the job, and was one of the main reasons I decided to accept the position. I have an email from the hiring manager that explains all my benefits (such as vacation time, insurance, etc), and the educational assistance is listed as one of them. I also made it very clear in my interview that I was planning to take advantage of this program while employed at TC.

Recently, I got accepted into a graduate program that fits all the parameters of the EA program, and also is very closely related to my current position. I applied for educational assistance, and it was granted to me, but after quite a lengthy debate amongst the higher-ups at the college. It seems that this approval was discussed quite at length between many different people at the college, because I have since had several people (including my boss, my boss’s boss, and people who don’t even know me very well) say things to me like, “You should be so grateful that TC is helping pay for your education. They don’t usually do things like that for support staff,” or “You’re so lucky that your application got approved, because you haven’t been here nearly as long as so-and-so.”

While I am happy that I was approved for the funding, these kind of comments are starting to rub me the wrong way, because it was never mentioned to me in my interview process that only a select few “special” employees are granted this assistance, or that seniority has anything to do with whether or not I would receive this benefit. (Also, I wouldn’t consider myself support staff, since I have a salaried position with very specific skill requirements, but that’s beside the point). In my opinion, this was something that was offered to me as part of my salary and it is not an added “bonus” or “gift,” but it seems that is how others are perceiving it. As I said before, I did get approved, so perhaps I should just let this issue pass and not worry about the comments, but part of me is concerned that it may factor into a future raise, which I think would be unfair, but perhaps I am seeing this the wrong way. Do you suggest I talk to somebody about this, or just let it go?

To anyone making comments about it to you from here on out: “Actually, it was an explicit part of my offer and one of the main draws to me.”

To your boss: “Can you clear something up for me? I had thought from our conversations during the hiring process that educational assistance was a standard part of the benefits package here. It was a real draw to me, and I recall being up-front during my interview that I would want to take advantage of it. But you and others have commented to me that I’m especially lucky to have gotten it approved. Did I misunderstand?”

4. Three of us weren’t invited to a lunch with the rest of our team

There are 10 people in my team with 4 contractors, including me. Yesterday my team went to lunch with a few people who had come from Japan. Three of the contractors, including me, were not invited. One of us had worked with these Japanese colleagues also. We three felt excluded and did not understand on what basis they did it. People who did not work on the project went and one contractor was included. I was very hurt and want to ask our manager. Should I even bother to ask or just move on?

It’s possible that there were good reasons for who went and who didn’t go. It’s also possible that it was just an oversight, or that no one was specifically in charge of inviting people and it happened more spontaneously.

I probably wouldn’t ask why you weren’t included — that feels like making a bigger deal of it than is warranted — but it’s certainly reasonable to say something like, “If you think of it, I’d love to attend lunches like that in the future!”

Also, I’d pay attention to how you’re treated generally. If you generally feel like you’re included in the things that you should be included in, that’s an additional point in favor of not worrying too much about this. If you’re not, I might think about why you feel that way more broadly and whether there’s anything you should be addressing there.

5. What’s the right get-well-soon gesture for our manager?

Our manager is having a major surgery (unexpected, I think) and will be out for all of June starting next week. We would like to do something nice for her, but I’m not sure logistically of the norms around this kind of thing.

We were thinking of a card signed by all of us and maybe some cupcakes given before she leaves (she regularly brings cupcakes/treats for us and takes us out to lunch etc.). Is that okay? If so, what kind of card is usually used in this situation – “get well soon”?

I know you said generally gifts don’t flow upward, so I was just wondering if there’s something we can do other than just covering our workload and ensuring a smooth transition in the office.

That proposal sounds really nice, and perfectly appropriate — it won’t cost people anything and the cupcakes are clearly in line with her way of expressing appreciation since she provides them for others. And yes, a “get well soon” card is the category I’d go with.

{ 199 comments… read them below }

  1. Steve G

    #3 – is the tuition reimbursement for the Teapot College you also work at, or at another school?

    Either way, I’m not one to throw around the “those comments are inappropriate” card, but I am totally on your side that these comments are out of line.

    Amongst other reasons, we all know that the cost of education in the US is ridiculous, and as you described, it was almost part of the salary to you.

    Also, they are paying you to go to school, not go on vacation. My 35yo sister who is also a mother has been doing a graduate degree at night, and even if it was free, it is very hard. She is never free, and she does things at weird hours, and has some days where she is out from 7am-10pm, with my mom watching my niece from after school until bed time. It’s hard, she works, exercises, does housework, takes care of my niece, and goes to school and does homework. Nothing else. No time to go for a drink or to have a lazy day for weeks on end. I would never criticize someone for signing up to do that, kudos to them. I don’t have the willpower to do it!

    1. Job-Hunt Newbie

      I work at a college myself; mine will help you with tuition if you go to any accredited institution, as long as you have worked there for a certain period of time. They also offer other perks to help. Not sure if the OP is restricted to their specific institution, but generally colleges give some leeway is given if they don’t provide the program the employee wants/needs.

      I absolutely agree with this, too. Not sure if the OP is in more of an admin assistant role, or more hands on (like admissions or financial aid counseling), but even that, it doesn’t matter. Admin assistants to directors, everyone plays a key role in keeping an office/department running smoothly. It’s disappointing to see these comments directed at someone who holds an important role in their department! Clearly they’ve fulfilled the requirements to receive the funding that was negotiated into their contract, and they deserve to take advantage of the opportunity available to them.

      1. Job-Hunt Newbie

        But generally colleges give some leeway if they don’t provide*.

        Clearly can’t type tonight.

    2. College Career Counselor

      #3: Your colleagues are likely reacting to a couple of things:

      1. You are using your educational benefit for graduate school, not a bachelor’s degree. They likely haven’t seen this and are thinking it’s “different.”
      2. There may be some sort of vesting period you need to meet (a year or more) in order to qualify for the benefit. You may have met this already, but again, there may be a perception that dues/time in role should be longer in order to take advantage of this benefit (this perception is likely wrong).
      3. In every college I’ve ever worked in, enrolling in an educational program (and therefore the tuition assistance) had to be approved by the supervisor, particularly if flexible scheduling was required for the employee to attend classes. Again, this can sometimes look like “preferential treatment” to others. And, it is, but it’s also allowed.

      I think the scripts you’re getting (“Actually, this is part of the benefit package of working at Teapot College, and it’s one of the reasons I was particularly attracted to this role”) are good and may help the issues behind these questions.

      I also agree with others that working full time and going to school is NOT easy.

    3. OP

      Thank you for your feedback!

      The reimbursement is at another school, because Teapot College does not offer a program in my field (if it did, I would happily take courses there!)

      1. Coach Devie

        I think it’s possible, also, that people are a bit “jealous” for lack of a better word. Perhaps they didn’t do their due dilligence in finding this out for themselves when they were in school or it was available then, or whatever other reasons there may be.

        But I do think it is really unfortunate that your business was spread about the way it was. The script is good to use, and I would use it to ward off commentary like that. Just continue to do your job well, finish your degree at that reduced cost and focus on what you need to.

        If you ARE a select few who get approved, then congratulations for being a prime candidate for such a thing. Don’t let other people make you feel badly for this. Best wishes.

        1. Bwmn

          To expand on the jealousy point – I think it is relevant to keep in perspective that many many people are graduating undergrad and graduate school with a lot of debt. Or they’re the parents of young adults dealing with a lot of debt. And so to be in a position where you’re getting education assistance while remaining employed and it happens to be in a field that you’re interested in…..it probably feels a lot more unfair to coworkers regardless of how it is professionally.

          So while I completely agree with Alison and many of the other commenters that you shouldn’t feel bad, I think that a lot of these complaints may be related to these other issues. I used to work for a hospital that had an EA program – but the graduate degrees covered and remaining in that city did not appeal to me. So ultimately, I took a more expensive option. Those are my choices and so on – but at the time, this choice grated on my mother to no end.

          OP, you’ve found a smart and savvy way to pursue your preferred higher education and that is fantastic. And you definitely should not feel badly about it. But a lot of young people haven’t figured out those things for themselves, and so I’d see a lot more of this stemming from possible outside irritants rather than a true professional problem.

    4. Morgan

      Just wanted to add something in reference to the OP’s comment about being support staff. Having worked at a university, I can assure that anyone who is not a professor, a dean, provost or chancellor, you ARE support. There is nothing wrong with this at all, and don’t act ashamed of the label. Think of the professors as contributing to the primary mission (teaching), with others supporting that role – they’re *supporting* the mission. It’s no different than operations and sales being line functions in the private sector, with admin and HR providing staff functions – distinctions being made about who contributes to the bottom line. In my current profession, there is a big distinction between those who work one particular job series versus the others, but all are important.

  2. Dan

    #4

    The thing is, you’re a contractor. You get screwed on the social stuff, and you’re only a part of the “team” when things go wrong.

    Sorry I’m a cynic, but after full time gigs and contract gigs, it’s how I feel. Hopefully, you get paid enough to make up for the difference.

    1. MK

      The OP specifically mentions that one of the contractors was invited. I think the implied insult comes from not being able to pinpoint a reason (valid or not) for the exclusion.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        A contractor who worked on the Japanese project.

        It obviously hurts to be excluded, but the breakdown of who was.invited seems very clear: Staff, and the contractor who worked on the project (because it would obviously be weird to not have her there).

        1. Kyrielle

          I think from the letter that the contractor who had worked on it was one of the three excluded.

          1. Beezus

            One of the three excluded had worked with the visitors. It’s not clear that the contractor who was invited had not also worked with them.

            1. KR

              Yes the contractor who went had worked with the Japanese. He is the lead tech guy, maybe that is the reason he was included.
              Eventually I did not ask and also my husband started singing ‘let it go’:)
              Thanks for all the comments. I have put it behind me.

          2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

            Yep, I totally read that wrong – which obviously flips how I’d react to it.

        2. Graciosa

          It may be that there were different levels of work by the contractors – the one who attended may have been more significantly involved.

        3. Coach Devie

          The letter states that one of the excluded was a contractor who worked on the project. I think it would have obviously made sense to the LW if the only contractor invited was the one who had worked with the visitors, but since this was not the case, that is where the confusion and the hurt feelings came in.

    2. Katie the Fed

      FWIW, it’s not that way everywhere. Our contractors are very much integrated into the team. They CAN participate in social functions, but they have to take leave to do so, per their company’s policies.

    3. Kiwi

      Of course, staying removed from the “social stuff” can also be an outstanding benefit of contracting.
      When the social sh*t hits the fan, you can simply take one step backwards into the proverbial contractor mist and let the full-timers scuffle it out, while you quietly work on and earn that fine contractor premium.

    4. HeyNonnyNonny

      Seconding this. I am a contractor, and I am never invited to social events with my team. Of course, there are other teams where this isn’t the case at all. And there are some people who won’t even respond to a contractor’s email (!) unless ordered to. And some people who are wonderful. But just be aware that contractor status does “matter” to some people, and it won’t always make sense.

      1. Chinook

        “And there are some people who won’t even respond to a contractor’s email (!) unless ordered to.”

        Doesn’t that defy the logic of having a contractor? It would be darn well impossible to do the job I am contracted to do if someone I contacted refused to answer my email.

        1. QAT Contractor

          I’ve run into the cold shoulder many times. It’s usually because the employees feel threatened that a contractor was brought in because they think it reflects badly on them. Either they feel it’s a way to replace them for behavior or performance or that if they don’t perform extremely well now that a contractor is there they might lose their job.

          They usually silo off and refuse to share information with us then thinking that it makes them irreplaceable, but really it just makes them look worse to their boss as they are not being team players and clearly aren’t looking out for the health of the project. Besides, contractors have plenty of ways to get the information they need in order to do the job for which they were hired. Most times it’s not even that hard to learn the system through trial and error thus completely bypassing the employees.

          Truth is, I have no desire to have their full time job. I just want to come in, get the work done, make a few changes to processes to be more efficient and be done. If they refuse to help or learn, it’s their problem and I have no qualms about whether they are fired or not. I just want the project to succeed and at a high level.

          1. Coach Devie

            t’s usually because the employees feel threatened that a contractor was brought in because they think it reflects badly on them.

            and if THIS is how the behave as a result, then they should be worried! How unprofessional and purpose defeating…

        2. HeyNonnyNonny

          Hey, I have no idea about the logic behind it. I suspect at our office, contractors are treated like entry-level employees (no matter how high their skill level or pay grade), and some workers resent having to take time to provide them information and coordination. But man, I wish I actually knew why it happens.

    5. Graciosa

      I’m not a fan of the way the contractor / employee distinction was described, but I can’t argue with the fact that it is absolutely present. I won’t launch into a lengthy history of the co-employment tax issues that caused many companies to put these rules in place, but I will say that they are generally there for legitimate business reasons rather than as a result of gratuitous malevolence.

      What is interesting to me is how poorly most people – including contractors – understand the real distinctions. In this case, it seems as if the OP believes her manager is the same person as the one who manages employees at her client company – it isn’t. The OP’s manager works for her employer – the contracting firm – and not for any of the firm’s clients.

      This one is a little frustrating for me because so many people in contracting positions end up with hurt feelings. Sometimes it seems to be a result of not understanding and accepting the real relationships – this is something contractors need to understand, you are trading relatively permanent employment for relatively impermanent work as a contractor in exchange for higher wages – but sometimes it does seem to be the result of employees at client companies behaving badly. It’s as if those employees hear some of the rules (contractors are not part of the staff and don’t come to staff meetings, for example) and decide that this is an excuse to treat them as second-class citizens.

      Even when you understand the real relationships, that’s not an excuse for reverting to fourth grade mean-girl behavior. Failing to treat a contractor professionally and with courtesy says nothing good about the employee”s maturity or professionalism.

      However, contractors need to be able to accept being treated as not part of the staff because – well – they’re not.

      In this case, I wonder if the intent was not to invite any of the contractors, but the visiting team members asked to meet with Contractor Chris especially and the request was granted due to the level of the work Chris had put in on the project. Consultants are not normally invited out for certain events like this, but there may be an exception made for similar reasons so I think it’s a bit analogous. Or one of the visitors may have invited Chris on the spur of the moment and the manager choose not to make anyone feel bad.

      OP, I would encourage you as much as possible to avoid thinking of yourself as inferior in any way due to not being an employee. You will probably be much happier if you think of yourself as a visiting expert – a consultant with a high degree of skill sought by too many clients to tie yourself down to just one (and at a lower wage, too!). I don’t know enough to really evaluate this, but I think it will be better for your mental health.

      Best wishes –

      1. Stranger than fiction

        This is interesting. I’m aware there’s people that choose to work on a contractor basis on back to back projects for different companies and they like that arrangement. But, aren’t there times where people are Contract-to-hire? In which case, they may be hired on as permanent after the initial project. It seems that’s fairly common around here. So, in that case, I’d think the employees would make more of an effort to be inclusive, and when they don’t, if I were the one in the contractor-to-hire position, my feelings would be hurt to. I’d see every exclusion as a “sign” they’re not going to hire me on afterward. Just a thought, obviously I don’t know a lot about this.

      2. Chickaletta

        I generally agree with everything you said. Having been a contractor several times before, including a gig that lasted several years, there is a definite difference in the relationship contractors have at the company. Some of them I was happy about–no performance reviews! No staff meetings! But there were times when I felt left out and just had to remind myself that I was not an employee. It can be hard though, because contractors might go weeks without hearing from their contracting firm (aside from getting paychecks), but they have daily interaction with all the people in the office they’re working at. Everything is going along, you chat with Bob in the break room, ask Mary about her house renovation at lunch, attend a project meeting with an agenda that’s had your name on it every week for the last twelve months, and then all the sudden everyone else is included in X and you’re left out. It has a dizzying effect, even if it’s warranted.

        1. Mabel

          I’m a contractor, and I’ve been at the same client for 14 years. There are some things I’m not able to participate in, such as the company gym or the Weight Watchers “at work” program. But there are plenty of other things I’ve been able to do, like be part of their high school mentoring program and the local company chorus. Even though I have a manager at my company, we are there to support the client, so my client company manager IS my day-to-day manager, and he and my team treat everyone with respect, whether contractors or employees.

      3. Girasol

        There have been cases where contractors have sued and gotten the employer in hot water with the IRS (US government tax branch) because they were treated like employees without having tax withheld. I seem to recall that taking contractors to certain team social events was one of the signs the IRS used to identify a company that is paying employees under the table and using the designation of contractor as an excuse. Does anyone recall the specific guidelines on this?

        1. Stone Satellite

          That’s exactly why contractors were excluded from certain team events at my previous job. The official term that HR used was “co-employment risk”. If the company treats contractors like employees, then they *are* employees, so there are specific ways in which they are deliberately treated differently day-to-day in order to mitigate the risk. That being said … while contractors were not officially allowed to attend things like team lunches, it was a nudge-nudge-wink sort of thing at my old job where they weren’t on the official invitation but someone always checked whether they were coming, and they weren’t technically invited but just magically showed up and happened to be having lunch at the same place we were having team lunch, what a coincidence! And if their bill accidentally got thrown in with ours and paid on a company card, well, how can anyone reasonably keep track of what everyone at a table with 20 people ordered? It was under the per-person cap for the number of attendees so all was well with the expense reporting. We often only had a single contractor and that contractor was integrated with the rest of the team, so excluding them was a non-starter for us at the team level.

    6. Beezus

      I really don’t think it’s a given that this is personal, or that it’s about not valuing contractors.

      Meetings like the one OP4 described are usually relationship building in nature. Where I work, on a similarly-sized team, it’s common to exclude team members whose work doesn’t involve significant interaction with the visitors.

      Bringing a group from Japan is a considerable expense. Feeding lunch to a group like that is a lesser expense, but still quite a bit of money. This is not a perk or a benefit or a treat – it’s a business interaction that needs to have value. The best way for it to add value is to have core team members who work together extensively use it as face time and time to strengthen their relationship. Including team members who have no business interaction with the visitors at all, or even including people whose work with the visitors is less relationship-dependent, makes the visit less effective. Also, including people whose standing in the group is, by definition, nonpermanent, may have less value – that may or may not apply to OP4, depending on how her company uses contract labor.

      So, where I work, the people whose daily jobs involve regular interaction with the Japan group would be included. Other team members who work with people in Taiwan, for example, would be left out this time. The clerk who prepares reports for everyone, including a weekly report specific to the Japan office, might be excluded. It’s not personal, it’s just about getting the right people in the room to make the most of the trip.

  3. Fruitfly

    #3) I also think these comments are out of line. You have the right to use the education benefits no matter what your coworkers think. However, be prepared when snooty co-workers ask things like “so how much does your class cost the company anyway?”

    1. Jessa

      I am however wondering if the school does not really like to give out those benefits and discourages their use but couldn’t find a way to tell the OP no, especially since the OP was very clear that they were coming on board because of the benefits. Management might have said “No we don’t usually do that so early or for that job,” and the hiring person said “but we basically told her she could have it and that was how we hired her,” so management went “Oh, okay give it to her we kinda promised.” So now OP is in a hard place because everyone is wondering why she got this in her position with her time in place and it was because she negotiated that basically.

      1. Cheesecake

        What bothers me is not how people perceive it; in every office there is someone who will complain that my mobile phone is red and their is green. But the fact that boss and boss’s boss are dropping these annoying comments – people who offered this and approved this. OP should talk to the boss.

        1. Kerry

          Yeah, I agree – the problem is not coworkers’ remarks (I mean, those are still a problem, just kind of annoying) but management’s.

      2. FiveNine

        I was wondering whether the debate was over a minimum time period on the job that had been waived in this instance, because otherwise I’ve never heard of a university not wanting employees (including administration staff) to take advantage of this benefit.

      3. Another Job Seeker

        I agree. It also sounds like your coworkers may be a bit jealous. Once you earn your degree, they may be concerned that you will move on to a position that pays more. They also may be envious about the fact that if you earn tenure that your job is more protected than theirs is. (Note: this does differ among institutions. There are some universities with non-faculty members who have the same types of job protection as tenured faculty). However, it has been my experience that when people become envious rational thinking tends to go out the window.

        Unfortunately, I think that you may be correct about your concerns about future raises and promotions. If those in your management chain really do not want you to pursue your degree, they might retaliate against you. However, if I were in your shoes, I’d try to see all the drama as temporary. Focus on bringing value to your department and earning your degree. And prepare yourself for the day that you get that degree and land your faculty position (somewhere else, hopefully. People tend to have long memories). I wish you well, and congratulations on pursuing your dream!

        1. Tamsin

          This just doesn’t make any sense. If anything, everyone I’ve ever known who has worked at a university in any capacity has pursued further education through their programs. (And they make money from it too, it’s not 100 percent financed.) I think ther must be something missing. The debate almost had to have been over whether to extend the benefits to OP when OP hadn’t yet met some threshold requirement that results in similarly situated candidates being denied the benefits. (Such as a minimum time on the job, etc. And if this is the case — I’m not saying it is, but it seems like it almost has to be what caused debate — then yes, it also explains why people are saying OP is lucky. Because who does that? So many people in a university use the EA benefits.)

          1. Elsajeni

            The OP mentioned upthread that the program she’s attending is through a different university, and I wonder if that’s part of it as well. I know a lot of schools limit their tuition benefits to classes and programs at that school, or will allow exceptions only if there’s a degree that would be really specifically beneficial to your work and there’s no equivalent program at your school; I would guess that part of the debate was about whether the OP getting this degree would benefit the college enough for it to be worth making an exception.

      4. Ani

        I doubt the school discourages the use of its education benefits — but there usually are several basic requirements to qualify, like working 36 hours a week, or being on the job for 1 to 3 years.

          1. Coach Devie

            This and… its awfully strange and disheartening that people not directly involved with the EB decision making are chiming in or are even aware of her situation. That would really upset me. But I would stick it out, and get my degree finished at this reduced rate. But I would be aware that there are communication leaks and stay very careful on what I discuss at work.

      5. Aunt Vixen

        does not really like to give out those benefits

        That just burns me right up, though. Benefits are for using. Grar.

        1. AmyNYC

          My company is like this…. we have vacation and sick time, but it’s preferred that you’re in the office all day every day

      6. Stranger than fiction

        Actually, in the letter, it sounded to me like she just happened to mention she was attending grad school, and THEY brought up the benefit. Perhaps she really wowed them and they decided to make it part of her offer, where others have had to wait and earn it.

      7. Artemesia

        Which is why Alison’s suggested response is spot on. “Actually this is part of my compensation package and is a major reason I chose to take this job.”

    2. Lily in NYC

      I still angry at myself for giving up a perk because of other peoples’ reactions. I was given the ability to work from home one day a month after getting a good review but no raise (long story why, nothing to do with my performance). Working from home is not done much around here and I got tired of the raised eyebrows and “must be nice” comments so I stopped doing it. Which was stupid because only one day a month and it was a formal perk given to me during an annual review.

      1. LizNYC

        Next time, you can say, “Yeah, it is nice. Which is why I worked it out with [head of department]. It’s distraction-free working!”

        Jealousy has many heads.

      2. Coach Devie

        If it’s still an option to you, go back to it! You gave it up and at what benefit? People will find other reasons to be jealous, let them. They might be jealous when you get a new chair at your desk, even if they were witness to yours falling apart as you sat on it. That is their problem. You earned it, obviously, though your performance there, so there is no reason you shouldn’t take advantage!

  4. Snoskred

    #5 – I think this is a super nice gesture and will be appreciated by your manager.

    I’m not so sure on the cupcakes. I might spin that into a gift basket full of treats, if she regularly provides treats and if I knew what her favourites were. If she’s going to be off a month cupcakes are lovely but over momentarily, whereas a gift basket of treats might be a longer term present to enjoy while she recovers. Things that keep slightly longer like biscuits or chocolate or a basket of her most favourite treat in the world, that is a little bit more special, to me anyway. :)

    1. olives

      This seems over the top in thoughtfulness for someone with whom you have primarily a working relationship, especially someone with power over you. While I agree that this is great advice for a close friend going through the same, it’s probably not strictly necessary to offer your manager the perfect gift to lat her the whole month she’s off. All that I would think needed to be conveyed here is a basic, “we’re thinking of you and miss you at the office!”

      1. Jazzy Red

        I would have done all that and more, for the boss I had who was so wonderful I would have taken a bullet meant for him. Some bosses are a lot better and nicer than other bosses, and some employees are nicer and more thoughtful than others. And once in a while, they work together. What’s wrong with that?

        1. Colette

          It depends. The manager probably hasn’t shared specifics about the surgery, so the OP won’t know whether she will be on any dietary restrictions.

          And this is a professional relationship – it’s important to keep the gift inexpensive (so that no one feels pressured to contribute) and somewhat impersonal.

      2. JB (not in Houston)

        Yeah, I think cupcakes are perfect. They are the right level of expense, and the manager clearly thinks that cupcakes are a good reward/treat since that’s what she brings her team. The fact they are mirroring what she does for them is, to be, a sign of thoughtfulness.

        1. kristinyc

          One caveat to that- make sure she likes cupcakes! (I’m assuming she does – OP would know). I had a manager who always brought in cupcakes when it was someone’s birthday, but she never ate them. She competed in fit body competitions and was one of those people who talks about crossfit all the time, and she only ate really healthy food. At least she (mostly) recognized that everyone else enjoyed cupcakes.

          For her birthday, we wanted to do something nice, but we knew she probably wouldn’t eat a cupcake. We ended up buying a lot of fresh fruit – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, melon, etc, and a can of whipped cream. We had a lovely afternoon snack, and she even put whipped cream on hers. She seemed really surprised that we had taken her preferences into consideration, but I think she loved it.

      3. The Other Dawn

        I think it depends on the kind of manager one has. In this case it sounds like they have a really good manager and she’s someone who appears to really care about her team, so they’re willing to do a little more than if they had a so-so manager. And the manager is having major surgery and will be out a month, so I don’t think it’s over the top I this case. I totally would have done this for two of my former bosses (same company) and would do it for my current boss.

        Actually, the two former bosses encouraged me to go to college and they approved 100% tuition reimbursement for me. When I graduated with an Associate’s, I bought them each a $250.00 bottle of their favorite scotch. Maybe it’s not the same situation, but I’m just making the point that when managers treat their employees well, employees often want to show their boss they appreciate him/her.

  5. Yet Another Lauren

    #5

    If you haven’t already, you might want to check that your manager’s not on any dietary restrictions prior to her surgery. I must say, though, I’ve saved every card I’ve ever gotten from people who reported to me, and I think it’s a fabulous idea!

  6. Jane

    #3 I can only speak for the universities I’ve worked at, but the overall “you’re getting something not everyone gets so be grateful” (even if everyone does, or could, get whatever benefit it is) is weirdly common. Recent example: I was told to order a new computer. I said I was happy with the one I had, but my supervisor insisted. I picked the most medium-level computer option offered (which was less nice than the one I’d been using). There were some delays in getting it to me, and no fewer than four people mentioned it was because I had been “allowed” to order a “fancy machine.” In my experience, there is just a lot of weirdness in university administration culture. I would just ignore the comments until they fixate on something else.

    1. AcademiaNut

      I wonder if it’s a byproduct of public servant/government type jobs.

      I mean, if you’re in a situation where your employer is legally prohibited from so much as providing you with free coffee, it’s easy to absorb the mindset that getting *anything* even vaguely nice as part of your job is somehow morally suspect.

      1. Future Analyst

        This. The above weirdness about who gets what (and talking about it at length) is rampant in our county government.

    2. mskyle

      This! I didn’t encounter it at every college/university I worked at but especially at the last one I felt like I was *constantly* expected to be grateful for something. Even when it *was* something everyone else got. I’m sorry, I just couldn’t get that excited about a polo shirt with my school’s logo on it or an employee appreciation lunch of cold burgers and hotdogs, especially when I was being paid below-market wages.

    3. BRR

      Hmm this might be part of it. I know I have some resentment that I can’t/don’t want to use all of the benefits my employer (university) provides. There are benefits for adoption, surrogacy, childcare, mass transit, tuition assistance, and child tuition assistance. I wish I could waive my right to some and get some of the money they would spend on those.

      If I know somebody is using those though I’m happy they can get the benefit.

      1. Colette

        That’s a weird perspective – like looking at a coworker with an expensive, life-threatening illness and thinking “wow, they’re so lucky they get to use all of those benefits. Wish I could.”

        1. BRR

          I’m confused, nothing I mentioned suggests anything like that. If it comes across as implying health insurance that’s certainly not what I meant so I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear. As a type 1 diabetic along with numerous other medical issues I do use that specific benefit quite often.

          I named those specific benefits as I don’t have or want children, mass transit isn’t really an option as it would increase my commute by 45 min each way, and have all the education I want or need (any more and it would reflect poorly on me).

          1. Colette

            But you can take advantage of this benefits – you’re just choosing not to. I don’t understand why you’d resent other people getting a benefit you choose not to use.

            1. Mpls

              I don’t think BRR is resenting the people that do use the options, I think BRR would rather have options more in line with what they would take advantage of. Like, if there is paternity/maternity leave, why not a sabbatical leave for employees without children?

                1. Anna

                  And then she specifically said that if someone she knows gets to take advantage of those benefits, she’s happy for them.

            2. bridget

              She doesn’t resent the *users* – she’s “happy they can get the benefit.” She does wish, reasonably, that she could work out some way to get whatever the unused cash value of hers were, though. (Although it sounds like she recognizes this isn’t practical, because the whole reason employers can provide these benefits more cheaply than individuals can provide them for themselves is because they have an economy of scale).

              1. Colette

                Benefits (even things like tuition reimbursement) are more of an insurance plan that part of your salary, so resenting that you can’t get the money the company would spend if you took advantage of them is a weird way of looking at it, especially since you wouldn’t have to do the work involved. (All of those benefits require time and effort from the recipient, and often money as well.)

                1. Anna

                  Every benefit does on some level. Health insurance has an out of pocket cost, even the tuition benefit doesn’t cover books (as I understand it). So I’m not sure what you’re objection is to her musing.

                2. Colette

                  My objection is specific to the idea that she resents being offered benefits she can’t or won’t take advantage of. I think that’s a disordered way of looking at it – it’s not money you’re leaving on the table, it’s something you don’t need or don’t want to put in the effort to use.

                3. Colette

                  Put another way, you’re not losing out because you’re not struggling with infertility or able to afford a car or interested in going back to school.

    4. some1

      Yeah, I have a coworker who used to work at a private college and I have heard her make many comments about so-and-so at her old job got a raise, better office, better parking space, etc.

    5. JMegan

      This. I work in municipal government, in an office that operates 9-5, and nobody but nobody sends emails outside of those hours. My job is to sit at my desk and write policies, so there are not a whole lot of situations in my work that can’t be dealt with by either email or voice mail.

      And yet, I have a Blackberry. Nobody seems to know why, including my manager – the only explanation she can think of is that everybody else at my level has one, so therefore somebody decided that I should too. A pre-emptive strike against “but everybody else has one!” I guess? Governments are weird.

    6. Morgan

      Yes, ITA. Despite differences in qualifications and functions, professional suort in universities can be quite petty. The department secretary where I worked 20 years ago was sick with envy of the three young, highly educated research assistants in our department. She exacted her petty revenge in numerous ways.

  7. MK

    OP3, if I understand correctly, your coworker did respect your request not stop talking to you about her medical issues, and the issue now is that she talks about them to other people where you can hear? If so, it’s a bit much to expect your coworkers to regulate their conversation whenever you are near. Also, I get the feeling that you think your complaint should be treated as seriously as sexual harassment or racism, which is unreasonable.

    1. Another Emily

      Her behaviour is unprofessional, which is very irritating for you but I think you’ve done all you can on that front. (I’m not unsympathetic here, I have a special horror of people talking about knee injuries, so I do feel your pain.)
      However, your boss might care that she’s inflicting her medical details on customers as well. I’d bring this aspect up as this is terrible customer service. If she tones things down in front of customers, you’ll benefit as well assess your company’s sales.

    2. periwinkle

      I agree with Another Emily. Inflicting medical details on coworkers is annoying but ultimately something you can ignore. Inflicting it on *customers* is a different matter as it is very unprofessional and not giving out a positive image for your organization. If I had listen to Tammy TMI every time I went to the facility, I’d switch facilities. Ew.

      1. Stranger than fiction

        TMI – that’s exactly what I was going to suggest she shout out every time they’re having one of those conversations within earshot of the Op. After all, some people are squeamish, and the coworkers should respect that.

    3. Knit Pixie

      I think you mean OP #2 right?

      While I agree this is not at the same level of sexual harassment and/or racism I also agree it can be annoying as all (insert bad word). (If there is an element of either in this situation, don’t mince words and come right out with it.)

      My MIL is like this. She will discuss everything with everyone. From the rash on her 15 year old son’s nethers (with the clerk at Safeway), to her 17 year old daughter’s current bra size and period regularity (with people at the fire department charity fundraiser), to how her most recent colonoscopy compared with the last 3 (anytime, anywhere), the woman does not believe in discretion. She will speak her mind, family privacy be damned! She really doesn’t care if she upsets family members, and doesn’t notice when she makes others nervous. (Worse, as evidenced by the above paragraph, it can be contagious.)

      The only thing that works is to ignore her. As soon as something like this comes up, I have learned to just up and walk away. Mid-sentence if need be. Most of the time if she sees no one is interested she changes the subject on her own. When I am ambushed, I’ll answer with a dismissive “that’s nice,” and turn heel. When isn’t possible to walk off, or I am followed, I interrupt with a complete non-sequitur. After an indignant “Well!” she forgets to be angry with me soon enough.

      I would advocate a wee bit of rudeness in this situation, especially if politeness and all other things haven’t worked, OP# 2. When the person in question starts sharing inappropriate information with coworkers, tune her out. Busy yourself with something else and and make it a point to ignore it. Be a little more polite when around customers, but bring it up to the boss again if she says something outrageous to them. Unfortunately for everyone involved though, it might take a customer complaint for management to take this seriously.

      Ignoring and deflection is an art. Cultivate it, and it will serve you well.

      1. ScottySmalls

        Omg!!! This is my mother, all through puberty she had to comment on my cycle’s regularity. Most people were kinda trapped and I wold just stand there saying “MOM!” Sometimes she would get remedies out of it, mostly it was just annoying. But woe to the aunts she doesn’t like asking how I was doing in school. That was none of their business.

        1. AdAgencyChick

          This is also my dad. My mother knows to use euphemisms when she’s having a GI issue, but then my dad just says, “Mom doesn’t want to go to lunch because [insert description of exactly what the GI issue is].” Me: “Can we please not talk about that?” (And then Dad gives me a hurt look, because how could it be that something that came out of his mouth wasn’t utterly fascinating discourse?)

        2. MegEB

          My mother did this ALL THE TIME, and still does it occasionally. Drives me bonkers. She hasn’t quite figured out the line between “parent harmlessly teasing their child” and “using your child as a punchline for cheap laughs”. Ignoring is probably your best bet, both for defusing the situation and for keeping your own sanity.

          1. Artemesia

            When my mother was alive my husband was under firm orders to never discuss any medical issue I might have with her. I knew that Gladys was ‘the one with the colostomy’ although I had never met poor Gladys and I knew that any disagreeable or personal ailment I might have would be fodder for chatter with anyone she ran into. When I was a kid it was the worst — she would shout to a neighbor that she was taking me to the doctor because X. It was humiliating.

        3. I'm a Little Teapot

          Wow. Don’t parents like that realize how cruel that is, especially to an easily embarrassed teenager?

          Children are people. It always infuriates me when parents treat their kids like possessions rather than thinking, feeling beings like themselves.

      2. Rebecca

        Oh, I could have written that letter! My coworker will not stop discussing her medical problems, including having phone calls with her doctors’ offices for us all to hear. She’s also told us way more than we should know about her daughter’s reproductive health.

        I started with just listening politely but not asking any follow-up questions or saying anything that might invite more detail. I’ve moved on to just blatantly ignoring her. I realize it’s rude, but honestly it’s more rude to continue telling somebody personal details when it’s clear that they are not interested.

        1. Snoskred

          Rebecca – I had a huge falling out with our resident oversharer in one workplace and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

          When we fell out, I took the opportunity to tell her very specifically that I did not want to hear from her anymore unless it was work related. The many hours of boring stories that I was released from hearing.. it was an epic win! ;) If I ran into another oversharer, I would have no difficulties pulling them aside and letting them know that I did not want to hear any more about their medical problems.

          I don’t think ignoring oversharers works as a long term strategy because these people tend to be quite selfish people, at least in my experience. Unless you are very clear with them, they’ll just keep on going because they haven’t even noticed that you’re ignoring them. :)

      3. PlainJane

        My favorite deflection method is to ask the irritating co-worker a work-related question as soon as I can get a word in edgewise. Bonus points if it’s something that requires work on her part.
        TMI Terry: “… Oozing rash… Giant green pustules…”
        Me: “Hey, did you ever send me those edits I requested last week?”

  8. Spring Sunshine

    Alison is right that medical talk that medical talk from coworkers is pretty much like incessant wedding talk etc in the office. But medical talk can be worse because it is so personal in nature. I’ve worked with people like this and you can end up knowing stuff about them that you might not even know about your own family. It can get very weird. I’m your coworker, not your doctor.

    1. The Bimmer Guy

      I find talking about one’s medical problems very unwelcome, unless they’re serious and/or to a point that they would otherwise alienate coworkers (rapid hair loss or excessive flatulence, for example). In my experience, the people who deem it good judgment to list off their miscellaneous diagnoses and the resultant cocktail of medications are the ones who like to talk about themselves non-stop, and that’s off-putting. Even though I’m a fairly conversational and friendly person, I generally just ignore these people or let my eyes glaze over, and they get the picture after a little while.

      1. MsChanandlerBong

        I know someone who constantly complains about everything from sniffles to how her muscles ache because she sneezed too hard. You’re right; she’s self-centered. I used to listen to her complain about her sinus headaches, her allergies, her intestinal problems, and so on. Then I had to have a breast lump biopsied; I was talking to her on the phone, and I started crying a little bit because I’ve already been through a lot health-wise (I’m only 34, and I’ve already had 16 surgeries, plus I have serious chronic medical issues). She said, I kid you not, “Why are you crying? You don’t even know if you have cancer.” If I ever dare to mention that I don’t feel well or have a scary test coming up, she’ll listen for one minute and then say, “I don’t mean to cut you off, but…” and then just talk about herself for 45 minutes.

        I talk to her at parties and occasionally chat with her on FB, but I don’t go out of my way to call her or see her anymore.

        1. Snoskred

          MsChanandlerBong – that kind of someone is worth kicking to the kerb for good.. :) I’ve done it a few times and always been better off for it, long term. :) Not to mention thankful to have all that time of stories I would have had to listen to back, to do more useful things with.

          I hope all went well with the biopsy!

          1. MsChanandlerBong

            Thanks. It was negative! It turns out that the car accident I was in about five years before the lump appeared actually caused a blood blister to form under the skin. As the years passed, it filled with fluid and turned into a noticeable lump. When they did the biopsy, they drained the blood/fluid, and everything was okay.

            1. NickelandDime

              I’m glad everything turned out okay. Please cease all contact with this person. She has nothing to offer you and she is not your friend. Life is too hard sometimes to have people around that can’t be supportive.

    2. peanut butter kisses

      I am kind of okay with brief outlines of medical issues. I appreciated it when an employee told me he was diabetic and let me know the signs to watch for in case he was having an emergency. I want to know if you have allergies or a cold. If you are having muscle aches, I want to know so I can carry whatever you need for you. If someone close to you is having severe medical problems and you are having problems concentrating; again, I would like to know. But if it goes over 5 minutes with run of the mill stuff, I’m out. So if you are concise and it relates to how you are in the office, let me know but otherwise . . . meh.

    3. Windchime

      We have a guy who bugs me on many levels, but this is one of them. He told anyone who would listen about his ear that needed to be lanced and drained last week (ewww). This week, he started to pull up his shirt to show us his wasp stings (the manager put a stop to that).

      This stuff just doesn’t belong in the office.

  9. The Bimmer Guy

    As someone who lives in Oklahoma City, I can tell you that the topic of cannabis is not as taboo as you’d think…though I myself don’t use it. Still, I think the best way to discuss this job in front of the employer is as if it were any other managerial position. Make sure you really focus on the clinical (no pun intended) side of your job duties there, and don’t accidentally stray into the territory of recreational cannabis use.

    1. MK

      Also, I think quite a lot of people’s problem with cannabis is mainly the illegality. Yes, there are those who have strong views on drug use, but there are also those who are more concerned with the fact that you are breaking the law and the possible ramifications/consequences.

      1. Zillah

        I agree with this. Most people I know who have a problem with it are either concerned with legalities or lack of courtesy, not the drug itself.

        (Re: courtesy – IME, while most marijuana smokers are considerate of the people around them, most inconsiderate smokers I’ve encountered were smoking weed, not cigarettes, particularly when it comes to no smoking zones.)

      2. Coach Devie

        Anyone with an issue of the drug itself baffles me, because they are perfectly fine with manufactured drugs that are much more potent or dangerous but will accept them if written out on an Rx pad. But I digress, that’s another type of topic… Good advice above, btw.

        1. Zillah

          I don’t want to deviate too much from the topic at hand, but IMO, you’re comparing apples and oranges here – recreational use of marijuana should be compared to recreational use of other drugs, not to drugs being used to treat a medical condition, and one of the reasons I personally get a little cautious around heavy marijuana users is because I frequently hear arguments like this, and I find them hugely insulting on multiple levels.

          Should marijuana be legal? Sure. But it shouldn’t be legal because “Butbutbut medicines! Those are drugs too!” It should be legal because it’s not harmful in moderation and it’s ridiculous to lock people up over it.

    2. Pickwick the Dodo

      As a fellow Okie, I agree. The only problem might be some of the (many) super-conservative businesses, but a lot of those hang their beliefs front-and-center, so it’s a good bet you wouldn’t want to work for them anyway. Really stress that you were operating legally.

    3. OP #1

      My main concern is not the cannabis itself, but the red flag that I may not operate as legally as the next guy. I think your advice is solid, especially that last part,

      1. KimmieSue

        OP1 – I would suggest that your work experience might translate very easily to an Operations or Facilities Manager role in another “growing” industry (food, agriculture, farming, etc). Good luck.

  10. Hannah

    #3:
    One of the requirements of my company’s tuition reimbursement plan is that you have to make a case that it will help your career development with the company , not just that it relates to your current job. I thought that was a fairly normal requirement. So if you just started, and haven’t proven yourself yet, and you’re already jumping on this benefit that is meant to help with your career development, I can see where that could look presumptuous. It would be like perusing the internal job openings when you’re new at a job – why not see how well you do for the first year, and where people in your role normally go next, before looking for a new role. I have never seen someone join a company and jump right into a new degree program too, most of my coworkers using tuition reimbursement are more veteran with the company, so I can see why this strikes others as strange.

    1. Apollo Warbucks

      But it was talked about in the interview, if the company didn’t want to provide the benefit to a new hire that would have been the time to tell the OP about the qualifying period.

      I’d have no problem with someone taking this benefit as soon as they started, but if they left shortly after finishing the course I’d think that was wrong as the company should get some use out of the training they have provided.

      1. hbc

        I wonder if this is one of those cases where people think something is obvious and it doesn’t even occur to them to mention it. Like in Hannah’s example, you don’t tell a prospective employee that you won’t be considering them for a new position within the first three months, even if you’re talking about how much you promote from within. You might also talk up the education benefit, but you expect people to take related classes, and it doesn’t occur to you to tell them you don’t want to fund a lab assistant’s degree in dance.

        But you don’t get all snidely vague about it–you tell them “People usually choose a related field, so there’s some debate about approving your request even though there are technically no rules against it.”

        1. Apollo Warbucks

          Surly if there are terms and conditions associated with the benefit then you need to spell them out to people rather than just rely on them picking up cultural norms.

      2. OP

        Thank you to everyone for your comments and feedback!

        To answer a couple of your (implied) questions: the qualifying period (1 year) was discussed in the interview, but it was actually waived for me (I have this in writing, in an email saying that I could start after 6 months). It is now about 11 months since I’ve started the position. Also, there is a clause in the EA agreement that I need to work at Teapot College for 3 years after completing my degree, or I will forfeit the reimbursement, so the TC will get use out of my degree. Finally, the degree is very applicable to my specific role at this college, which is why I chose it. Of course it will be helping me in my career, but I also see it as helping me do my current job better, so that’s why I was surprised that the college wasn’t more enthusiastic about me pursuing this opportunity!

        1. OP

          Also (not sure if this is relevant or not), the job description for my current position actually stated that they would prefer candidates with a Master’s Degree for the position. I, of course, do not have that degree, but I was hired based on other qualifying experience. However, since a Master’s Degree was something mentioned on the job description, it seems pretty straightforward that having a higher degree would be a great way to become even more qualified for my current position (not something extraneous to help me find a different job).

          1. Lindrine

            Then the people complaining are just crabs in a bucket so don’t take it personally. Just smile and nod and say “Doesn’t [org] have great benefits?” or something else benign.

        2. mskyle

          I think you may have underestimated what a big deal getting that 1-year qualifying period waived was. I wouldn’t worry too much about it affecting future raises, though, because in my experience there’s no such thing as a merit raise at a university, so you wouldn’t have gotten one regardless. You’ll get the same 2.75% increase as everyone else.

          1. JB (not in Houston)

            In other circumstances I’d agree, but this is different. It may have been a big deal to get it waived, but the OP did get it waived. So there’s no reason for their boss to be bringing up how lucky they are now. It was something that was specifically spelled out as a benefit they’d be getting. It’s great that my employer gives us a lot of vacation time, more than a lot of other places in the U.S., but I’d be irritated if my boss brought it up every time she signed off on me taking some time off and told me how lucky I was that I had that much time.

            1. Anna

              Exactly this. It’s a way to make her feel beholden to the company for something that she had no control over. They could have easily told her she’d have to wait if they didn’t think it was worthwhile to waive the waiting period. As soon as that was done, it should have become a non-issue.

          2. Artemesia

            There were years I would have killed for 2%. And you are right merit raises are rare. The only people who get big raises in my experience were professors who had other offers and who they were trying to retain.

        3. Ann O'Nemity

          Thanks for providing more info!

          I’m guessing that waiving the qualifying period and using the benefits so soon is what others are reacting to. I’d be tempted to simply respond to their comments with, “It was part of my offer.” You could also add, “And it will be beneficial for my current role.”

          1. Coach Devie

            and still bugs me that people who weren’t directly involved with the EA benefit decision making are even aware of or commenting on it at all. How annoying/rude of them.

    2. blackcat

      The colleges I have been to have always had the policy that staff can take one course per semester for credit for free at the institution. They got lowest priority if the course was capped and it filled, though. No restrictions on it being even vaguely relevant to the current role (I once took a history class with an admissions staff person), though for junior people, there was no cross enrollment with other nearby institutions (which I, as a student, could do). No requirements to pay anything back, unless someone quit mid-semester and wanted to keep taking the course.

      When I taught at a school, there were explicit restrictions in terms of tenure at the school both before (something like 3 years) and after (another 3), otherwise you’d have to pay back the benefit. The only exception was if it was truly needed (I taught science A, they wanted me to teach science B one year, so they paid for summer school in science B at local public university. Basically, it was more like necessary training, and I believe it came out of a professional development budget instead of the tuition benefit budget).

      So my experience at colleges/universities is quite different from other employers, even employers that sound similar on paper (colleges vs prep school). For what it’s worth, all of my experience as a student and teacher at the higher ed level has been top tier schools which are not stingy with money. Things may vary at institutions that are more tuition, rather than giving & endowment, funded.

    3. some1

      This isn’t a “company”, though, it’s a college. It’s pretty standard to offer free or reduced tuition to university employees. This is like getting a job at Macy’s and having coworkers getting annoyed for using your employee discount on clothes.

      1. costume teapot

        Dude. I worked at a Large Shoe Retailer who did that. We were governed basically by our rewards enrollment percentages (which was actually bogus math). We got In Trouble with district when our percentages were down. But employee purchases counted against our percentages because employees couldn’t be rewards members. Our cashiers would get in trouble if too many of their transactions weren’t rewards members, so whenever you went to purchase nobody wanted to ring you up. It was awful for morale.

        1. Ann O'Nemity

          SMH. That company should have just devised a way for those employee purchases to not factor into the rewards enrollment metrics.

    4. themmases

      Interesting, that sounds really restrictive to me. My previous employer offered tuition assistance, and while it had to be for classes or a degree related to the employer’s mission you didn’t have to personally make that case yourself. It was a hospital, so for example someone wanting to take nursing classes wouldn’t have to justify herself even if she was an admin. I don’t think anyone would be expected to unless their program was unfamiliar to someone in HR or a role we didn’t really hire for.

      I think it’s more important how long you stay *after* receiving tuition reimbursement, not before. I have no idea if we had to be employed a certain time before claiming that benefit, but we had to promise to stay for 6 months after and later it was extended to a year. When I took a few undergrad science classes at night, I paid for them myself because I was preparing for grad school and didn’t want there to be any expectation that I’d stay.

    5. Coach Devie

      This who point is kind of moot though, tbh. This was
      A.) discussed in her interview
      B.) Already approved

  11. Katie the Fed

    #5 – I’m sadly something of an expert in this field, having just been out for 5 weeks to recover from an accident and surgery.

    A card would be lovely – I got ones from my team and coworkers and it was really nice. Cupcakes might be a little tricky because she’ll have to share them and that might be difficult – maybe something non-perishable to snack on?

    Other things I really appreciated – it was nice to just hear from my employees, especially after a few weeks. I went from being very busy and useful to a useless pile of flesh (at least that’s how it felt). I really appreciate the people who just sent me emails to say hi, and that I was missed, and to fill me in on office-goings on. It wasn’t in a sucking up way, and I could understand why you might not want to with a manager, but I’m telling you it was really nice :)

    Also people who emailed me interesting articles related to work, or sent reading material – that was all really lovely.

    When I got back, I had sent the word to my second-in-command who had been running things in my absence that I’d like all the team members to send me a quick email with big highlights from the last 5 weeks – big projects, upcoming trips, anything that required my immediate attention. Maybe something like that – it’s really hard to catch up when you’ve been gone that long.

    1. Graciosa

      It’s really interesting to hear your perspective – I was just about to chime in to say that the most helpful thing I thought the team could do would be to keep the office running smoothly so that the manager would not have anything to worry about.

      I would have guessed right on the highlights upon return (both for getting the returning manager up to speed and as evidence that everything had been taken care of) but completely missed the idea that hearing from employees during recovery would be a good thing. My instinct was completely the opposite – please don’t make me deal with any reminders of work while I’m supposed to be recovering.

      Lesson learned, and I definitely defer to your superior experience. ;-)

      1. Case of the Mondays

        I think the nature of your job duties can sometimes dictate how much contact you want from your office while you are out. For me, updates actually make me less stressed because I know my team is properly covering my cases. I have an ethical duty to my clients and that includes making sure competent counsel is covering for me in my absence.

        I love getting an update that says something like “Perry is working on the summary judgment objection on case X and will have it filed two days early. I looked at his draft and it is great.” Otherwise I sit home fretting “I hope they remember to object to summary judgment in case x. Maybe I should check in. I don’t want to look like a micro-manager but it is my butt if they forgot . . .”

        Note though, these are positive updates. I wouldn’t want to get roped into actually working on any of these things. I would just want to know they are being done.

        Also, updates on things I did before I left like “the Order came in on Z in your favor.” or “the Order came in on Z for the opponent but we are working on an appeal already.”

      2. Katie the Fed

        I didn’t really want to hear about the nitty gritty – I think it was more I just liked to hear from them a little. And yes – positive stuff – I don’t want to hear about a disaster I can’t fix from my hospital bed. Just a little “Hey Katie – just wanted to check in and say hi. The brief went really well and everyone’s doing fine. Hope you’re feeling better!”

        I know it’s silly, but it was nice to know they missed me a little :) I actually missed them a lot.

  12. Katie the Fed

    Can I just tell you guys how tickled I am that I learned the word “budtender” today?

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        Me too! I was actually about to comment snarkily about the weirdness of a brand new industry – that a company the presumably formerly operated bars/restaurants now is in the medical field. Ha!

        1. the gold digger

          I do think it is a stretch to consider dispensing marijuana to be “medical.” :)

          (I think it should be legal everywhere for an adult who wants it, medical or not.)

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Lots of respected medical associations would disagree with you :) … and are calling for legalizing it for medical use at the federal level:
            http://www.mpp.org/reports/medical-marijuana-endorsements-and-statements-of-support.html

            For the record, 23 states have laws that allow medical marijuana use with a doctor’s recommendation and seven more are considering them. It’s very much being treated as a medical thing by those states, largely because there’s a large body of scientific evidence supporting marijuana’s efficacy in treating a variety of conditions.

            1. Coach Devie

              Thank you for the informative comment Alison. I live in a medical state, and our little in our family who was fighting cancer, we heavily looked into it for her. It’s amazing to me that people discount the medical benefits of this plant, but are perfectly content with the fact that we had to inject her with poison that killed her cells (chemo) weekly and burn her skin with radiation for six weeks. Not to mention all of the other chemical medications she was injected with during her course of treatment.

              I think the confusion comes up for people because for so long they were taught that it is illegal so therefore must be bad. They’re not making a distinction.

              1. Koko

                People are taught that anything that feels good can’t be good for you. The body and its desires are sinful. No pain, no gain. “Take your medicine,” is a threat, not an offer. If it feels good it can’t possibly also be medicine.

          2. OP #1

            We get a lot of people with a lot of different maladies. And many of them seem to get relief that they cannot find anywhere else. Sure, there is abuse; but you can say the same thing about pharmacies and liquor stores too.

          3. Blerp

            I will say that my partner who has stage 4 lung cancer (which is terminal) finds great relief in cannabis oil. He can’t keep food down, vomits everyday and I am so thankful we are in California where he can get this to alleviate some of the pain and anxiety as well as help him eat.

      2. OP #1

        I am glad you saw the word here, because that won’t be on my resume. I am just going to say my original duties were as a “sales assistant”.

  13. Anon Accountant

    OP2- a supervisor hasn’t talked to her about telling customers her medical issues?

    1. Cheesecake

      I not sure supervisor knows. OP must be specific about colleague telling customers about her medical issues.

      1. Jazzy Red

        OP should also say that the customers seem uncomfortable when Chatty Cathy does that. Taking Care Of Customers should always be Rule # 1.

  14. Erin

    #1 – I believe Oklahoma has very strict anti-marijuana laws. You might have more of a challenge than if you were moving to say, New York State. That being said, your promotions and responsibilities are impressive, and a smart employer wouldn’t turn you down. Best of luck to you!

    1. Erin

      Just saw the commenter from Oklahoma City said this this isn’t as taboo as you think – if that’s the case, I’m happy to be wrong!

      I’d love to see an update after the move when you get a new job. Again, good luck.

  15. snuck

    #1 can you list it so it’s not obvious it’s medical marijuana until you mention it in a duty or similar?

    I’m thinking something like

    2010-2015 Teapots Medical Company Pty Ltd (or whatever their official background company name was, not their trading name, most companies like this operate under various levels of business structured names)

    – initial preparation of prescribed medications, promoted to Chief Paperwork Shuffler, final position 2014/2015 Practice Administration Manager

    – Managed team of twelve staff
    – Ensured all legal requirements were met in the provision of prescription medication
    – Delivered state mandated education as per California Law and the Provision of Medical Marijuana Act of 2020 (or whatever applies)
    – Maintained accurate registers of all legally approved suppliers, customers and

    etc… you get the idea…

  16. Holly Olly Oxen Free

    #2 – Two thoughts

    1) She may be doing this as a way to cope with the stress of medical issues. Some people find it helpful to talk about these things and in the absence of someone saying they don’t want to talk about it she may feel that she’s getting support from those she talks to. You did say that, but the others in the office probably didn’t, which is why she stopped talking to you but not them. And I think that is what is key here, you said you were uncomfortable with it and she stopped sharing with you. She did listen to your concerns.

    2) If she misses a lot of work or has a lot of excuses she may feel that sharing medical details explains the situation better and as a result he co-workers don’t assume she’s slacking off or missing too much work when she doesn’t actually need to.

    1. GigglyPuff

      This.
      I tend to talk about some of my medical issues, because it is helpful just to get it out, but I only do it with people I’m close to at work, i.e. would tend to hang out, outside of work. And also the second point as well, if you have medical problems that aren’t necessarily obvious symptoms but still make it difficult to get to work, it can almost make you feel guilty for not having something like a contagious cold, so you feel the need to explain yourself.

      Or if you’re like me, day after my birthday, my boss knew I was going to dinner with a couple friends from work, I had to call in sick for the morning because of horrible acid reflux, and it was early, I felt crappy, and ended up pausing in a weird place on the voicemail, “I’m not feeling well, I….ate…something bad”, as soon as I hung up, I was paranoid my boss was going to think I was hung over. Luckily she didn’t, and it is just a funny story now.

    2. Case of the Mondays

      Are her issues at all relevant to your customers? Like, they are buying pepto and she says “that stuff works great, I have stomach aches all the time.” I give a bit of my medical info to my clients when it is relevant to their life and makes them feel more comfortable talking to me. If a client is trying to explain disease x and I have disease x I might just say “oh, I know all about it, I have it too.”

      1. BethRA

        This. If it were my company, I’d be concerned about how this was impacting customers.

    3. Jill

      #2 I had a co-worker like this (part of it was she had no life outside of work so dramatizing every ache and pain was a way for her to socialize. Weird topic choice, but whatever).

      I found that if I made an “ewww” face and asked, with a disgusted tone, “Why on *earth* would you think I’d want to hear about that??” she’d shut up. For less gross aches and pains I’d just mutter, “Sorry to hear about that” then slide right into a change of topic to cut her off.

  17. Lanya

    #4 – This used to happen all of the time at my OldJob because my manager was socially absent-minded and didn’t always think about everyone who might have wanted to be included on client lunches and outings. He wasn’t purposely leaving anyone out, although we sometimes felt that way.

    No matter the reason for your non-inclusion, I think that Alison’s recommendation of commenting that you’d love to be included in the future is the best way to go.

  18. Leah

    #1 do not, for chrissakes, call yourself a “budtender” on your resume, interview, etc. You were a sales clerk and later a manager. Personally, I’m not a fan of marijuana, but to each their own. However, if I got a resume with the title listed I’d be put off. There is no need to create a new term to make sure you’re not mistaken for the hoi polloi (yeah, I’m glaring at you “mixologists” there’s nothing shameful in being a bartender).

    Again, if I saw it on a resume I’d wonder if the applicant was:
    a) someone who maybe mixed business with pleasure a bit,
    b) the type of high-maintenance person who served their product with a side of pretension (yeah, you again “mixologists”, gin and tonics are not “artisanal” or “hand crafted”)
    c) not thinking about transferrable skills

    Unless you are sending your resume to Snoop Dog/Lion, Cheech, or Chong, just use some version of “salesclerk”.

    1. Ann O'Nemity

      I’m less concerned about the pretentiality, but I do agree with Leah that the OP may want to go with something a little more generalizable like “sales associate” instead of “budtender” for jobs outside the marijuana industry. And I’d try to add some specific skills or accomplishments that would be transferable – customer service skills, $X in sales, # of people managed, etc.

      1. Elsajeni

        Yeah, I wouldn’t consider it particularly pretentious, but I do think it’s probably not a well-known-enough term to use outside the industry — I don’t know what a “budtender” does in the context of a medical marijuana clinic. (I mean, I’m guessing the word is intended as analogous to “bartender” and that it means you’re the customer-facing person, but is the actual work much like bartending? I would have thought it would be more like… being a pharmacy tech, maybe.)

    2. Meg Murry

      This remark is somewhat harsh, but does have a lot of truth in it. Since you aren’t going to be able to find work in your current field, I would genericize the language – like she says, instead of “budtender” I would say “counter staff” or “sales clerk”. I think if you play down the marijuana aspect and play up the sales and management experience you could show clearly how this could relate to managing another retail facility – possibly something like a bakery, coffee shop, bar or clothing, etc. Or maybe something like working as a pharmacy clerk would be similar?

      Especially since “budtender” isn’t clear to everyone outside the industry – before I googled it I wasn’t sure whether it was more like a bartender or if it was someone who worked in a greenhouse tending the plants (which was my first guess). You can definitely play up your “worked your way up from the bottom” experience though, that is valuable to mention.

    3. behind the stick

      Pretty offensive comment, Leah.

      Don’t like cocktail bars? No need to go to them.

      And yes, you can “hand craft” your own tonic. Hours and hours of prep work go into that stuff, so there’s really no need to put it down if it’s not for you – because you’re insulting people’s livelihoods here.

      1. themmases

        Yeah, wow. Cocktails are a hobby of my partner’s and he does hand-make some of the ingredients as well as infusions that he gives out as gifts (favorites: sloe gin, homemade limoncello, rock and rye). A ton of work goes into some of those, they taste great, and they really just scratch the surface of the cool things that are being made by others out there. If you don’t like it, maybe just order a beer, or stay home?

        Also people don’t really choose their own job titles so the hostility aimed at employees seems really harsh and inappropriate. Why shouldn’t people who serve the public have career paths with job titles to match if people are willing to pay for it? People write here about wanting a more appropriate title for their white collar jobs all the time and aren’t insulted or accused of putting on airs. People in hospitality and service industries should receive the same respect.

        1. Kelly L.

          Yeah, if we want to come down on “budtender,” then maybe the white-collar world should stop with the ninjas.

    4. moss

      It’s not pretentious if that’s what the job is actually called. I know people who work in that industry and budtender is a specific job.

    5. OP #1

      “Budtender” is a well-known (withing the industry) slang term. But of course I will not be using it on the resume.

      1. Erin

        That’s what I assumed. That A) it’s a real term and B) you probably wouldn’t list it on your resume.

    6. Coach Devie

      Ugh at this whole comment. Your comment feels awfully pretentious and judgmental. I’d much rather have the budtender (and this is a term I see all the time, I live in a medical state and have studied the medical benefits of cannabis extensively for a small brain cancer patient) be my employee than someone who passed misconceived judgement like this.

  19. nona

    #2: Alison’s advice is great. Something else you can use: “Jane, does your [relative] want you to share [medical drama]?” Maybe the daughter’s fine with her tales of excessive flatulence or whatever being shared, but if she isn’t, your coworker could be reminded of that.

  20. TNTT

    Alison – Can we recruit OP#1 into one of your “interesting job” interviewees? I’d love to hear about this person’s experiences!

    1. The Other Dawn

      Yes!

      I’d be interested since I’m in banking and right now the banking industry is really struggling with how to handle the marijuana businesses, their employees, suppliers, etc. It’s tough because it’s legal at the state level, but illegal at the Federal level. Banks have to comply with both state and Federal regulations so we’re in a tough spot; no one wants to take on that risk.

    2. The Other Dawn

      Ack! Got kicked into Moderation.
      Yes!

      I’d be interested since I’m in banking and right now the banking industry is really struggling with how to handle these businesses, their employees, suppliers, etc. It’s tough because it’s legal at the state level, but illegal at the Federal level. Banks have to comply with both state and Federal regulations so we’re in a tough spot; no one wants to take on that risk.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Y’all, can I request that you do not double post when your first post goes to moderation? It creates more work for me because I then have to locate and delete the double reply. Comments get released from moderation pretty quickly. Thank you!

    3. Robles

      There’s a great Vice episode about how, in Colorado especially, a lot of marijuana businesses operate cash-only, because they have to due to banking/credit card processing stuff, but the reality is that makes them MUCH more likely to be targeted for crime, so they have to pay a ton of money for security.

      Luckily, there’s a lot being done on the federal legislative side right now to help banks figure it all out.

      1. De Minimis

        I’m wondering about the tax aspect of it. In the past, large scale illegal enterprises could file taxes the same way regular businesses did [many do to avoid tax evasion charges/IRS] but a huge exception was made for operations that involved illegal drugs, they were only allowed to deduct cost of goods sold–apparently this is deemed sacred by Congress! I’m wondering if this is still the case for these businesses in the states where it’s legal since it’s still illegal on a federal level…and if so, there would be a lot of work for tax accountants since you’d need to make some major adjustments between the federal and state returns.

  21. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor

    #3 – This is to address a small point in your letter. I previously worked in higher ed, and if you weren’t a professor (non-tenure and tenure), you were considered support staff. Being support staff isn’t a bad thing.

    1. OP

      Thank you for the clarification. I understand the distinction the speaker was making (that I’m not faculty), but to me the tone when he said it sounded condescending, as in “You’re [0nly] support staff [and therefore not deserving of this EA].” Of course I don’t think being support staff is a bad thing! And perhaps I was reading into what he said (which is why I sent the letter to Alison–it’s always good to get an unbiased perspective on these sorts of things!).

  22. denkyem

    #5 — The other option is to wait until a few days after her surgery and then send something to her home — a card and flowers, or a card and cupcakes (unless you think it might be a gastro surgery!) . We did this in a former office, and I thought it was a nice way of letting a colleague know we were thinking of her while she was gone and during her recovery, not just before. This maybe wouldn’t be appropriate in all workplaces but it many it’s nice.

  23. I'm a Little Teapot

    OP#2: Please tell me you aren’t planning to make up a story about how Tammy TMI (thanks, Periwinkle) is sexually harassing someone or making racist remarks to get her in trouble. Please, please tell me I read that wrong. Her medical oversharing is grossly inappropriate (in addition to just being gross) but falsely accusing someone of serious misconduct could ruin her career and her life. It would also harm *real* victims of sexual and racial harassment; every false accusation casts doubt on true reports and acts as fuel to the sort of scum who maintain that racism and sexism don’t exist, those wimminz are all lying bitches, everybody’s playing the race card, and so on.

    1. HR Bloviate

      I’m not reading that into it. I think the OP is (mistakenly) equating the medical over-share to a level that may be illegal.

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