I don’t want my manager to ride in my car when he’s sick, employees deliberately working slowly, and more

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

1. I don’t want my manager to ride in my car when he’s sick

I work remotely from home as an outside sales representative and my manager requires me to take him on sales calls for a full day every 1-2 weeks.

My manager chronically has colds or the flu. After the past 2 times I have spent a day with him coughing and sneezing in my car, I have gotten sick.

Last week, we were on a conference call and he mentioned that he had a cold the day before he was scheduled to ride with me. I told him it was okay with me to reschedule for when he wasn’t sick. He said, “No, that’s okay.” I asked him if he was contagious and he then said that he has allergies and he doesn’t think that was contagious. He coughed and sneezed all day, and about a day later I had a cold.

This guy clearly has no regard for anyone but himself. Is there anything I can say or do while I’m in this situation to help protect my health? I’ve considered finding some masks to wear over my face while I’m driving.

With a reasonable boss, you should be able to just be direct and say something like this: “The last few times we’ve ridden together when you had a cold, I’ve ended up getting sick. It seems like I’m weirdly susceptible to your colds! Can we reschedule for a time when you’re not under the weather?” And if he pushes back and tells you he’s not contagious, you should be able to say this: “I can’t get sick right now, so I’d hate to risk it — maybe we could take separate cars or just wait a few days to see if you’re feeling better?”

If your boss is unreasonable, all bets are off, although you could still try it and see what happens.

Also, you could try being proactive about scheduling these ride-alongs when you notice that he’s not sick — you might as well take advantage of the days that he’s not coughing and sneezing and get the joint sales calls done then.

2. Employees who deliberately work slowly in order to get more paid more

I’m currently in a shift-managing position for a restaurant and having a problem with my closing employees working slowly on purpose or having no motivation to leave on time so that they can get paid longer. I am unsure how to handle this. I’ve attempted sending these employees home, but it only gets the others upset because they have to stay longer to finish the work. This problem is magnified when more than one of these employees work together because I can’t send them all home and have the work done in time. My boss is pressuring me to get them out on time even after bringing up this issue to him. What can I do?

“I need you to work more quickly. Normally I’d expect you to finish all closing duties in (X amount of time). I need to see you meeting that standard in order to keep you on. Do you need any support from me in doing that, or can you strive for that going forward?”

And then stick to it, just like any other performance expectation — meaning that you need to be prepared to fire people who aren’t meeting reasonable standards if they don’t improve after you warn them.

3. Am I overreacting to my boss yelling at me?

I have 33 years experience working in law firms, and I have never been reduced to tears by an attorney throughout my entire career, until now. It’s a small law firm, two attorneys: one partner and sole shareholder, one associate, and one part-time “of counsel” who had lost his assistant and I volunteered to work for him too. However, I bit off more than I could chew and realized it was a mistake to take on that responsibility.

I decided to discuss my workload with my boss and get his opinion on what I should do. We met and I informed the boss that the “of counsel” attorney needs to find another part-time legal assistant because I am too busy with my boss’s work to continue working for the of counsel. I barely finished my sentence when my boss screamed at me, “You think? I knew it wasn’t going to work from the beginning. You need to decide if you want to work for him or for me. I don’t care which you choose, doesn’t matter to me, but choose. I really don’t care if you work for me or not. You f-d up taking him on (I did it with the boss’s permission) and now you need to choose who you want to work for. I really don’t care if you’re here or not.” He ended his tirade by saying, “Let me know what you decide and I can get you replaced.”

His reaction shocked me and left me dumbfounded. The other attorney in the office heard everything and when I left my boss’s office, he said “that was brutal” and it was. I went to the ladies room and cried.

The next day, he called me into his office and said, “I was in a very bad mood yesterday, as we all get sometimes.” No apology, no ownership of his bad behavior, just “I was in a very bad mood.” The only time he has ever been nice to me was during my interview; he is dismissive, critical of my work, never balances the criticism with anything positive, etc. To be fair, my boss is an asshole but I never took it personally because he is an asshole to everyone. But I have never been spoken to like that in my entire 33 years of supporting attorneys. At that point, I lost all respect for him.

The day it happened, I sent my resume out before I left work. I do not want to work for someone who belittles anyone, especially me. Did I mention I took a $20,000 a year cut in pay to come to work here? It was difficult finding a legal job in our region and I desperately needed a job, so I took whatever offer was given to me. Am I overreacting?

Nope, he’s an asshole, and he was out of line to yell at you and berate you. It’s reasonable to decide that you’re not interested in working for someone who talks to you that way. (But find another job before you quit.)

4. Asking about benefits in a cover letter

Is it ever appropriate to ask about benefits/salary when submitting a cover letter and resume through email?

Specifically, a nonprofit is accepting resumes for people interested in working there. However, this was not a job posting, but rather something I saw while perusing their brochure. In it, they mention a few of the benefits but nothing in detail. So would it be okay to ask for more information in the body of the email?

No. If you’re invited to interview and get to the later stages of their hiring process, it would be appropriate to ask at that point (although even then, I’d recommend waiting until you have an offer unless there’s a specific reason you need to know earlier). But it doesn’t belong in a cover letter, since at that point mutual interest hasn’t been established and they’re unlikely to spend time answering benefit questions from applicants who may not even end up getting interviewed.

5. Filing a claim for overtime with an employer from 30 years ago

I just found that I have grounds to sue an employer of 30 years ago for a labor law infraction related to overtime abuse. (They had us working 12-hour shifts from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., and paid us straight time, claiming we weren’t working more than 8 consecutive hours in a single day. Instead, we were “working 4 hours at night, then 8 hours the next morning.”) I don’t remember the name of the company, just that they were a guard company in Los Angeles. Where can I get a list of my employers from 30 years ago?

The only way I can think of that you could get such a list is from the Social Security Administration, since your Social Security record lists all your previous employers and income earned through them.

However, you’re outside the statute of limitations on back pay. Federal law requires you to file back pay claims for overtime within two years, and California requires it within three years. So in this case there’s nothing to be gained by tracking them down.

{ 286 comments… read them below }

  1. neverjaunty*

    OP #3, while your experience is unfortunately not uncommon at law firms, you know from experience it is NOT the norm and it is NOT considered acceptable behavior in any way. Your boss is unprofessional and out of line, and the only thing more disgusting than blaming it on a bad mood is pretending that “everyone” acts this way when they’re in a mood. I hope you find a job elsewhere quickly!

    1. K.*

      I have a lot of lawyer friends and all of them have been screamed at by a partner at least once. I dated a guy who had a stapler thrown at him by a partner (he ducked). There’s no censure for the partners; if they’re rainmakers, that’s all that matters. (I also dated a partner and told him stories about my friends getting screamed at and he winced and said he doesn’t raise his voice.) Op #3, you’re well within your rights to leave (I would), but I’m sure the partner considers the matter closed.

      1. neverjaunty*

        But OP is staff. There is a culture at a lot of firms that young associates need to be tough and suck it up and partners should be coddled as long as they bring in business, but screaming at paralegals or secretaries? That’s way over the line, as well as stupid. You don’t want the person responsible for getting your filings in on time hating you.

        1. K.*

          I’m not saying it’s right – of course it isn’t. I don’t think anyone thinks this behavior is appropriate. I certainly don’t. But odds are excellent that the partner considers the case closed (no pun intended) after giving that half-assed apology and will not say anything else on the matter. There are no consequences for him to face; if he gets in another bad mood, he’ll yell again. He’ll probably do it to the OP’s replacement.

          The partner I dated loved his assistant, who sounds a lot like the OP – she was a seasoned pro who had worked in firms for decades (she kept “threatening to retire,” according to him). He brought her with him when he changed firms. I’d guess that he’d fire anyone who screamed at her, just based on the way he talked about her. The OP deserves a boss like that, and she doesn’t have one where she is.

        2. Ruffingit*

          Happens a lot whether staff or associate. I was the associate attorney in a small law firm where one of the two partners verbally assaulted myself and the staff on a near daily basis. She had massive issues. She wasn’t at the office every day and it got to the point where the staff and I would email each other to advise as to whether she was there that day and what mood she was in so we’d know what we were walking into. Sad, really.

      2. bridget*

        There are also a lot of firms that strive to avoid having these types of rainmakers on their partner lists. Good firms know that it’s short-sighted to bow and scrape to an unreasonable money maker, because your firm reputation (both in the legal community and among potential employees) lasts longer than the money that jerk is making.

        My guess is that there is a reason this guy is a sole shareholder and owner of his own shop.

    2. Spooky*

      Sadly, it seems to be becoming pretty common, though. Maybe it’s because I work in New York, but getting screamed at or having a breakdown and crying happens all the time where I work. And when I saw “all the time,” I mean it happens in my company at least once a week. Since the market is so bad that employees can’t jump ship, it’s becoming the new normal.

  2. Sandy*

    Managers, repeat after me:

    The second I scream at an employee, it is over.
    The second I scream at an employee, it is over.
    The second I scream at an employee, it is over.

    What employee has ever respected their boss *more* as a result of being screamed at?
    What employee has ever performed better, short or long-term, because their boss screamed at them?
    What employee has ever come to work more motivated to work and work well because they were screamed at?
    What manager has ever looked better in the eyes of his/her other employees because they screamed at another employee?
    What manager has ever looked better in the eyes of his/her superiors because they screamed at an employee?
    What manager has ever seemed more in control of a situation because he/she screamed at a employee?

    Repeat after me:

    The second I scream at an employee, it is over.

    1. Kathlynn*

      I have to admit, through pure tenacity, and fear of loosing my job, I did improve my work performance. But I also went home crying everyday, and continued to get written up for “performance issues”. My manager just hated me, and wanted me gone. (Truthfully, on that shift, I was able to get more done then anyone before or after me.)

      I do think that the assistant manager decided the manager was wrong at some point. But assistant managers don’t have any power at my place of employment. But she is bad for yelling at people. More so then the manager.

      1. Anx*


        I’ve worked harder, but I was already working hard, and I just sort of buckled under the pressure. I worried so hard about not making mistakes that I think my work style became stilted and after a while I made more mistakes. Granted, this was in industry where screaming is normal.

    2. Jennifer*

      I don’t think managers who scream at employees give a shit about any of that. They want to use their power to crush those weaker than them in order to feel good about themselves.

      1. Dan*

        I know. I work in a niche field, and had one interviewer just give me an unjustified ton of sht. I figured he thought he was the only game in town, and was going to have fun with it. The thing is, that was an out of town interview, and my thought was that they needed to sell me on moving for them just as much as I needed to sell myself.

        The guy was such a tool. At the end of my lunch hour with him, I looked at him and said, “I’m only interviewing for jobs in this field, so if this isn’t the place for me, then so be it.” He got this shocked look on his face and replied, “But this must be a really small field.” To which I said, “It is, but when you’re good, all you need is one opening.” Two hours later, while sitting at the airport waiting for my flight home, I got a call with an offer. An offer which I ended up turning down…

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          “Fun”? What do some people find so “fun” about being a complete jackass?! I know that there are people who do get their jollies that way, but what the hell? And what is wrong with them?

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            They don’t see it as being a jackass, they see it as a way to show up someone else and put them in their place. If it was being *done* to them, yes, they would totally see the jackassery involved, which is also probably the reason why they enjoy it — they have experienced being powerless for a substantial portion of their lives and now that they have the power as they see it, it’s time for payback. To completely innocent parties, but that’s beside the point.

            Honestly Dan, I hoped you told them exactly why you were turning down their offer.

      2. Not Today Satan*

        Yeah. I used to work for awful partners and I’d drive myself crazy thinking, “but don’t they know that they would actually be getting better performances out of their employees if they didn’t treat them like crap?? it doesn’t make sense!” But eventually I realized they really did not care about that–they just liked being abusive and going on power trips.

      3. Chocolate lover*

        That was definitely the case with my last boss. She didn’t actually care about effectively managing people, she wanted somewhere to dump her own frustration and stress, and that’s exactly what she did. Some days you could hear the screaming all the way to the other side of the office.

        1. RVA Cat*

          …and while this completely sucks, this is why we are so much better off as employees, rather than a whole lot of people 150+ years ago who had no choice but to put up with a whole lot worse.

    3. Dan*


      The only time I ever got *yelled* at by a boss was for under burning on a CPFF project. That *is* leaving money on the table, I get that, but I could never take him seriously after that. I checked with the troops, and ended up going to HR, whose office was next to him. I looked her straight in the eye and said, “I’m a big boy and don’t give a sht, but there are other people who do care. I would hate to lose good employees over this, and trust me, you will. The only thing I expect you to do is document it, so that the next time someone complains, you can’t say ‘We’ve never heard that before.'”

      She looked at me and said, “I was wondering what all of the shouting was about.”

    4. Rebecca*

      Exactly. I lost all respect for my manager when she screamed at me like a crazy person when she found out I went on a job interview. I thought she was going to throw her coffee cup at me, and for a minute or so, I thought I could be in real danger. No, I am not disloyal or a traitor. No, this is not a family, it is a workplace. This was almost three years ago, I am still working for her as I just didn’t feel like the other company was a good fit, but she lost what was left of my respect that day. She’ll never get it back.

      1. RMRIC0*

        Anytime a manager talks about work as family or loyalty, it immediately raises my hackles now – because it’s usually an intro to something very one-sided.

    5. Brett*

      Meanwhile, in super-dysfunctional worksite #2 (the one that wonders why my manager has not let me work there in six months), they recently promoted a guy to team lead who routinely blocks other employees in their cubicle and screams at them for 10+ minutes. But one of the two guys who has been protecting him just retired….

        1. I'm a Little Teapot*

          My instinctive reaction when screamed at is to either flee if I can or scream back if I can’t. I usually also cry. I don’t think I could take that kind of abusive environment – I’d just break down completely, regardless of my financial situation.

          1. Goneanon*

            Yesss that is 100% my reaction. This would be why I almost got fired years ago when somebody parked me in when I was trying to leave work and then told me maybe she wasn’t going to let me leave since I had such a shtty attitude. Appropriate reaction would have been to call the cops, I elected to get drawn into the screaming match. Sigh

        2. Brett*

          I’ve talked about this guy before. He is all about physical intimidation. He keeps 50lb dumbbells at his desk and starts lifting them whenever someone is disagreeing with them. He has punched multiple co-workers and blamed it on a low blood sugar. Though he also tried to sue a co-worker for slander for filing a workplace complaint against him, and threatened the investigator with a slander suit as well so I guess his intimidation game is fully rounded. I wish I could write a book on the guy… but he would sue me.

          Screaming is definitely his go-to tool though.

          1. Brett*

            (Forgot that I posted about him under a different handle on open threads, OfficeBullySituation and OfficeBullyUpdate.)
            Reading back through those, I realize just how slowly change happens here :( Most of it consists of waiting around for people to retire, but at least that is starting to happen finally after nearly 2 years.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Oh yeah, I remember that.

              When he gets his comeuppance, PLEASE post about it. I don’t even know him and I want to smack him with one of his dumbbells.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Why can’t you call the police and fire him for punching someone? If he laid ONE FINGER on me he’d be in jail before the hour was up. Blood sugar my ass.

      1. Vicki*

        “Blocks other employees in their cubicles.”

        I’m going to walk past you. If you touch me, it’s assault.

    6. Oryx*

      Agreed. I don’t understand why employers think fear-based management is an effective strategy.

      I had a job where I only ever saw my one manager when she was coming to criticize me (usually unjustified, I spent most of the time defending my correct actions). That’s it, I never ever saw her for any other reason. Which means that when I saw her headed my way, all I wanted to do was run and hide.

      1. la Contessa*

        I don’t know about all of them, but my (former, thankfully) verbally abusive boss was so paranoid about losing ground in the industry that he resorted to fear-based management to maintain a sense of control. It was crazy, because he desperately wanted to control everything we did (I was once threatened with being fired twice in one conversation because I committed the egregious sin of printing double-sided, which was the firm standard at the time but which he didn’t like), but he basically refused to train people. Thus, I ended up in a situation where I had very little idea what I was doing, but he would yell and scream and threaten. I think he needed people on whom to take out his frustrations with demanding clients. It’s backfiring on him, because everyone who had the institutional knowledge is slowly leaving, and he’s got a bunch of newbies in there now, who may well be fantastic lawyers but don’t have the experience we did.

        That’s a roundabout way of saying, #3, it’s common in law firms but not acceptable. Please continue to search for a job with a boss who treats you well. I finally got one, and it is amazing.

    7. Katie the Fed*

      I think you’re thinking this is an intentional thing. I actually think in many cases people just get so fired up they lose any rational thought and just act like children throwing tantrums. I have had employees push my buttons to the point that I had to end conversations so I didn’t lose my cool.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Yeah, for a few people this may be a strategy, but for most, I suspect it’s a lack of self-control.

        Which doesn’t make it any more acceptable, of course. Tantrums aren’t terribly welcome from a 2-year-old, but they’re expected; from someone old enough to have a job, not so much.

        1. Case of the Mondays*

          Random, but I Hate, with a capital H, grocery shopping and every time I see a 2 year old having a tantrum in the store I want to join him. I think it would be hysterical. Me on my back pounding my legs onto the floor, fists too, yelling “I just waaaaannnnt toooo go hooooommmmmmmeeeee!!!” and the two year old’s mom looking to my husband and saying “ugh, grocery shopping with them is so tough sometimes, isn’t it.” Of course this is just fantasy. If I really did it, I’d probably be committed.

          1. Diddly*

            Hehehe – I have the same feeling about being on public transport.
            Want to scream like the toddlers and babies and see what would happen…
            But obviously won’t as I’m sure it wouldn’t be pretty.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I’m tempted to do it AT them to freak them out a little bit. Not loudly, but like when you make the crying face along with a crying kid and they stop crying and look at you like, “What the hell are you doing?”

              1. Chickaletta*

                Go for it. One time at the library a woman scolded my then 2 year old for running around. It sent him to tears and he straightened up after that. I didn’t mind, he wasn’t listening to me (small children tend to tune out their moms, it’s normal) and it let him know that his behavior was not ok. What I hate more is when strangers act like it’s cute when he misbehaves in public because it sends the wrong message. So feel free, give them a dirty look and scowl back.

                1. Pennalynn Lott*

                  I wish all parents were like you, Chikaletta. A fight almost broke out at an upscale restaurant in my neighborhood when some older (50’s?) diners asked an out-of-control child to stop running through the restaurant grabbing silverware off the tables and throwing it at people. The parents did NOT appreciate anyone speaking to their child “like that”. (Which was actually very polite and respectful).

                  This is the same restaurant where the owner spends $10K/year to replace his landscaping because the local parents think it’s soooo cute when their children rip the plants out of the ground and shake the dirt on fellow diners. And the landscaping was put in to replace a gorgeous fountain that had a fire pit in the middle of it. After spending a couple grand once or twice a month to clean the diapers from the filter (and to service the filter motor, which had burned out because of the diapers), the owner just filled the whole damned thing in with plants, thinking that would solve the problem. Nope.

                  I called out these parents on our neighborhood FB group and one woman wrote back and actually said, “We pay good money to eat at that restaurant, and Big $$$ to buy our house in this area, so don’t you try and tell me and my family how to behave in public.” Dang, lady, the rest of us *also* pay good money to eat at that restaurant, and the rest us *also* paid Big $$$ to buy our houses, but we’re not entitled glass-bowls who think that buying a $30 entree means we get to trash the restaurant.

          2. Liane*

            My tactic for dealing with this at LastJob, especially if I sensed a customer/coworker was also getting over-annoyed, was to smile and whisper “I wish we were little enough to cry about having to shop [or “be here” for a coworker] when we could be doing something fun.” It usually worked.

            @ Diddly who posted before me.: No it would not be pretty. Doing customer service I’ve witnessed many adults (from ages 20s – 80s) having tantrums. Any one of them could outdo a whole class of preschoolers who had been overdosed on cupcakes – the kind with 4″ of frosting – and then deprived of naptime.

          3. Dynamic Beige*

            One of the random bits of advice I seem to pick up is that people should stand there and applaud. Grade it on a 10 point scale. The tantrum only has power because people find it embarrassing. Once it’s no longer embarrassing (and the child doesn’t get what they want), it’s no longer a useful tool.

            1. Rana*

              Eh, in my experience most tantrums (in small children, not in adults) aren’t really about the child deliberately manipulating people; they’re developmentally immature and that’s their way of expressing their feelings of disappointment, sadness, anger, frustration, etc. Shaming them wouldn’t fix that.

              Now, a full-grown adult human pulling a hissy fit? Go for it! :)

      2. Jenna Maroney*

        Maybe, but I also think there are a lot of people who will “lose control” at subordinates but never at superiors, which suggests it’s perhaps not deliberate, but certainly not a matter of self-control – more a question of who they think they need to respect. (There are also of course people who are perfectly reasonable at work and fly into a rage at the slightest thing in personal relationships, then claim they “lost control.”)

        1. Kate M*

          Exactly. It’s like abusive spouses who are violent at home, but never in public, or only leave marks in places that can be covered up. Abusive people (including employers who lose control – I had a boss once who threw a stapler at a subordinate) almost always target certain people to lose control at. And it’s never someone that would directly harm them (i.e. a superior). And even if it wasn’t deliberate, how is that better? That suggests that you (at the VERY least) need anger management or something either way. Or to just stop being an asshole.

        2. FW*

          yes. this. I have worked for several bosses who would target specific people – always a subordinate and always someone who appears weak, someone who will not push back. In my younger days I used to wonder why they didn’t go after me, but I figured out I have a kinda no nonsense aura. I would never take that, in fact, I would tell them to come back when they can behave professionally.
          I still work with 2 of them, both in different departments, thank goodness. I would love for a superior to see this behavior.
          In fact, we just – yesterday – moved to an open floor plan office. I am waiting for the blow up that the entire office can witness. It’s only a matter of time.

      3. Afiendishingy*

        I know what you’re saying. I have a couple clients and employees who make me want to scream too. The difference is you are purposely ending these conversations because you know losing your cool is a bad thing. I briefly worked for a man (tiny family business) who was just a bully. If I made a mistake he not only yelled but got a little too close, jabbed his finger onto my computer screen or paper or personal space, whatever. Yeah, he was an immature child having a tantrum but I also think he thought he could intimidate me into being blindly submissive (I did on at least one occasion refuse a totally unethical direction). I cried a lot and did whatever I wanted when he wasn’t around. Asshole. And his 18 year old son thought he could also just bark orders at me. Nice try, asshole junior.

      4. neverjaunty*

        No. First, as you note, you were able to and did make the choice to walk away precisely so you DIDN’T lose your cool. Second, after the tantrum, the boss is not only pretending what he did was OK but that his behavior is widespread and normal.

        I am betting that Boss would not lose his cool like this at a judge with the power to have him thrown in jail for contempt, or at a ‘beauty pageant’ to win new clients for the firm.

    8. Samantha*

      I was once asked in an interview how I reacted to being yelled at. Uhhh, nope. I think I said something like I appreciate constructive criticism but don’t respond well to actually being yelled at. That was one of several red flags that I’m very glad I heeded and chose to withdraw from consideration.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Me too! They made it so clear that the person I would work for as an executive assistant was a total Mean Lady – they weren’t even planning to have me interview with her, which was a giant neon red flag. I turned down a second interview and was truthful about why and they raised the salary by 15K. I still said hell no. I’m so glad they made it very obvious instead of trying to hide it (which is how I got the worst boss of my entire life).

      2. Busy*

        Had one of these too – female partner at a (ginormous, and prestigious) law firm asked me what I would do when a partner made me cry. Not if, when. I said something like, hrmmmm, I waited tables and people were mean so I have a thick skin, but all I could think was: stop the interview, please! We’re done here. I told this story to another female associate who had interviewed with the same firm, and they’d asked her the same question. When that’s part of your interviewing script, you may have a problem…

      3. mdv*

        Haha, I got this question in my interview, too. But I work in a university parking office, where people call / come in irrationally angry about getting a parking ticket, so there was context that made it an appropriate question!

    9. Bend & Snap*

      My last boss used to scream at me in private, but the day he screamed at me in public–in front of the whole office–is the day I doubled down on my job search. I had two offers a month later. He quit talking to me once I gave notice so that was a fun two weeks to ride out.

      As far as I know, he’s still turning and burning people because he likes to yell.

      1. drifting falling floating weightless*

        This. Whenever I get a new boss, we have a talk. I’m actually really easy to get along with, it’s easy stuff: cover my 6; I’ll cover yours. Don’t lie to me; I won’t lie to you. [a few other simple things, then]: don’t chew me out in public. In private, you can go to town. But don’t do it to me in front of an audience. It works pretty well (and now that I’m a manager, these are the understandings I try to use with my people).

        The only time I ever gave a boss slack on this was when he was an equal opportunity offender: we’d have a department meeting each week and the OOB chatter was “who’s gonna catch it this week?” It was still unacceptable, but somewhat easier to bear. But most of us left as soon as we could.

    10. Sigrid*

      In my one experience with a truly dysfunctional boss, she screamed at us because she honestly had no idea how else to manage. I need to point out that this was in academia and she was a tenured professor who had spent her entire career in academia, so she a) truly was king of her own domain with no fear of repercussions; and b) had never had any examples of good managerial behavior to model her managerial style on. She hadn’t the faintest clue how a good manager behaved, to the extent that she honestly didn’t know she was a bad manager. She thought screaming at people was how managing was done. And to be fair, in a lot of academic labs, that is how managing is done, so she wasn’t exactly wrong. She didn’t have the experience to realize she was managing poorly, and there was no one who could tell her she was, because that’s not how academia works.

      1. fposte*

        I think you’re right–managers don’t scream because they’re choosing it as an alternative to good management, they’re doing it because that’s the way they know how to be and they’re receiving no notice that it’s unacceptable.

        It’s kind of like parenting, but at least with parenting there’s a ton of media discussion about good and bad parenting, so even if your own parents were bad at it you’re likely, come adulthood, to realize that. There’s just not discourse like that around management, so if you’ve had management by berating or are in a field where that’s normal, you may not grasp that that’s non-optimal, to put it mildly.

      2. the_scientist*

        I wanted to be an academic researcher for a long time, and after grad school, and reading so many stories similar to yours about the horror show that is academia (bad management, unchecked power trips, rampant sexism, petty drama) and given the academic job market right now I am positively THRILLED to be in a non-academic job.

        1. Sigrid*

          I should add that the “employees” in this case — including me — were PhD students, which adds an entire additional layer of dysfunction onto the situation. For a PhD student (or, at least all of those I’ve talked to; things may be different at some universities), your adviser literally has the power of life and death over your career. In a real job, if you find yourself in an abusive workplace, you can (hopefully; I know the job market sucks) find another job and move. You can’t leave graduate school before completing your degree without scrapping both the years you’ve put into it, which have given you few transferable skills and look horrible on a resume, and your career prospects if your chosen career requires that degree (which it probably does, or else you wouldn’t be in graduate school). Add to that the fact that getting a good post-doc, which is also necessary for a career in academic research, is 100% dependent on your adviser’s recommendation, and you have to smile and take it or kiss goodbye to your career.

          I never was any good at smiling and taking it, so, while I did successfully complete my PhD, I didn’t maintain a good relationship with my adviser, and I did kiss goodbye to that particular career path. I’m not in academia any more. Thankfully. It turns out the rest of the world is shocking sane, comparatively.

      3. moss*

        We used to hear professors yelling at their graduate students all the time. Huge blowups were totally normal. My boss at the university got pissed off (not at me but it still sucked) and threw a chair across the room.

        When I left academia and went into corporate I was amazed at the fact that nobody was yelling at each other. The hallways were quiet and civilized.

        1. fposte*

          And I’m in academia, and I’ve never heard a grad student yelled at. Wouldn’t tell you it never happens, but it’s not the way it works across the board, either.

          1. Anonacademic*

            Never happened in front of me after 8 years in academia so far either. Heard stories sure but never experienced it.

          2. AcademicAnon*

            I have heard of grad students getting yelled at, but the people who do those kinds of things have other more problematic issues.

    11. Michelle*

      I had a “big boss” yell/scream at me once because I was out of office at *mandatory* training and a client had to wait one day for me to help her and her need was not even urgent. It was actually something they could have done themselves. When she chose to yell at me in front of an office full of people, I yelled back- “I was at MANDATORY TRAINING. If I don’t attend MANDATORY TRAINING, I don’t get certified to WORK- you know, the thing us underlings do while you are busy screaming at employees over minor CRAP and non-issues. As a matter of fact, you are the WORST BOSS I have ever seen and this is the FIRST and LAST time you yell at me, because I quit!”. The look of pure shock on her face was worth it. I had another job within 2 weeks, been here 13 years and never once have been yelled at.

      The “big boss” retired about a year after that incident and my former direct manager courted me hard for 6 months to come back. She continues to call me every few months (it’s been 13 years!) , asking me if I want to come back. If I see her out in town, she asks me to come back. I’m kind of flattered because if she is asking me 13 years later to come back, it must mean I was pretty good at what I did. Even though the higher level management team it completely different now, my heart is just not in it anymore.

    12. The Other Dawn*

      So true.

      A former exec at OldJob was a screamer. I felt so bad for the people who reported to him directly. He was so condescending and didn’t know how to deal with people who didn’t meet his ridiculously high bar. His method was to scream and belittle, then act like it was their fault he couldn’t control himself. Such an asshole. I was so happy the day the CEO fired him. All I could think was, “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!” When that door closed, everyone felt the black cloud lift.

    13. abby*

      During an economic downturn in the mid 1990s that affected my region particularly hard, my manager screamed at me (and others) pretty regularly. We were afraid of losing our jobs, so we worked more hours and strove to improve our performance. A few years later, when I wasn’t so afraid of losing my job and had developed more professional confidence, I screamed back. Turned out to be the best thing I ever did, and our relationship improved.

  3. Panda Bandit*

    OP #3 – You deserve so much better than this. Good on you for starting your job hunt right away and I hope you get out of there soon.

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      I agree, but maybe don’t send resumes from the office again — you don’t want to give the boss an excuse to fire you before you are ready to go.

      1. Panda Bandit*

        Good point! There’s no telling what kind of information he has access to.

        1. Cambridge Comma*

          Well, he definitely has access to the walking up behind you and looking over your shoulder when you’re not expecting it kind of info.

      2. Artemesia*

        Yes get all personal stuff like your resume off your work computer and erase it and load it up at home. Hope you find something very soon. There is no satisfaction quite like giving notice to an abusive boss.

        I have had one boss who yelled at me like that and it is a terrifying experience. He had it in for me for inexplicable reasons such that colleagues after a meeting where he viciously attacked an idea I suggested as idiotic (which was subsequently adopted I might add) said ‘Wow, you must remind him of his first wife or something.’ I had been the interim director before he was hired into the job and our friction started at the point I tried to pass along information to him in the transition. I had voted for another person to be hired and I assume he was told that at some point because he was hostile from the beginning. It was like being around a very territorial dog. I had not applied for the permanent role and was not bothered by the hire until he began acting like a total jerk. The day he screamed at me for doing something the way it had always been done but he wanted to change (without making that clear up front) I felt literally like I had been physically assaulted; I cannot imagining living with that day in and day out from a boss. It was terrifyingly physical although it was just words.

        I hope the OP finds something quickly.

      3. Bend & Snap*

        I have a friend who sent “I HATE THIS PLACE! GET ME OUT OF HERE” over corporate IM and was fired and escorted out within 10 minutes of hitting send.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I didn’t catch if the OP is a paralegal or a legal secretary, but I hope she gets in touch with a legal staffing firm. I’m thinking Robert Half if they are in the area. If you contact all the staffing firms, you will probably have a new job in two weeks. It may look like there aren’t many openings because the big companies don’t want to bother with hiring support staff anymore (at least in my city) and they do all their recruiting through staffing agencies.
      The bridges were burned from the other side and it looks like a sign to move on to better things. Good Luck!

  4. Delyssia*

    OP #1, if you’ve explicitly spelled out that you’ve gotten sick after multiple ride alongs, I think it’s rotten that he won’t show some basic respect for you. Have you tried bringing up the customer angle? He may not care if he gets you sick, but he really should care about not annoying customers or potential customers by getting them sick/exposing them to his coughing and sneezing.

    1. Sally-O*

      Is it bad that I’m skeptical about whether OP #1 is really getting sick from his boss? I ride the Metro every single day with hundreds of strangers, many of whom are coughing and sneezing, and 99% of the time I stay healthy. Heck, my husband and I usually don’t even catch each others’ colds, and there’s kissing involved! The world is full of germs. Colds are not instantly transmitted. Epidemiologically, on average, any person who has a cold passes it to only one other person during the entire duration of the cold.

        1. Kate the Grate*

          He should be covering his mouth and turning away and taking cold meds if necessary, but yes, a boss has the right to operate normally even if he is mildly sick. When I had a cold last year, I still had the right to attend my friend’s wedding and shake people’s hands. When you have the flu, you still have the right to go to the grocery store and accidentally sneeze on the shopping cart. It happens – we are exposed constantly!

          1. Summer*

            Of course he has the roght to operate normally if he’s mildly sick. But I personally wouldn’t allow that to happen in my own vehicle, in my own personal property. I call the shots in my own car. After all, I make the monthly payments. Actually, as a matter of fact, I wouldn’t be comfortable with with the entire set up of having my boss in my car and chauffering him around. That’s not a job responsibility I would ever sign up for, ever. It would make me imcredibly uncomfortable.

      1. Snuffleupagus*

        Some people really do get sick that easily. If any of my immediate coworkers get a cold, I can guarantee three days later my eyes will be watering and I’ll be sniffling. I, admittedly, have a weak immune system, but I can believe it.

  5. Adam*

    #3 Ah yes, the Apology-that-really-isn’t-an-apology. A classic tune that finds new life in the remixes. I’m sorry OP. Find yourself some greener pastures a.s.a.p. The bad bosses never appreciate a truly good assistant until their gone (and most of them don’t even appreciate them then), but that’s not your problem. This is the kind of job you whistle a cheery tune as you walk out the door for the last time.

  6. frequentflyer*

    OP #1 – can you offer him a mask? or if all else fails, wear a mask yourself in the car and only take it off when you make your sales call?

    1. Pineapple Incident*

      Definitely a good idea. A mask, maybe gloves, and a bottle of hand sanitizer for your car. He only might get the message because it seems as if this is a man without shame, but at least you might not be getting sick any longer. If he tries to push back on these measures, say something to the effect of “if you don’t want to make other arrangements for transportation for these supervised sales calls, I have to take these measures to keep myself from getting sick again.”

      Before getting to this point though, I would suggest exhausting every other option to attempt to get this weirdo to see the light. “I’m not comfortable exposing myself to someone who is consistently ill when I have a tendency to get sick from others’ colds”; “Getting sick following one of these ride-alongs is not a one-time thing. I am uncomfortable repeating this knowing the outcome could be me becoming sick again. Can we come up with another arrangement?”

      I feel for you. This man must wake up in the morning and deliberately throw on his crazypants.

      1. LBK*

        I don’t know if he’s necessarily crazy – I’m someone who frequently has deep denial about being sick and has used the “it’s just allergies” line. I’ve started to get better about staying out of the office now that I can work from home but in the past when I couldn’t, I hated wasting one of my limited sick days for something like a cold that I felt I was physically capable of working through. Particularly if it meant work piling up on my desk while I was out. I know people hate those that come into the office sick but I understand the impulse on the flipside to not want to stay home unless absolutely necessary.

        1. Kyrielle*

          This. Also, I _do_ have allergies, and I also have a weirdly constructed sinus, which means I get clogged sinuses *constantly*. I mean constantly; all seasons, all weather. I do get days where it’s not the case, but fewer than days where it is the case. (To be fair, coughing and sneezing is rarer. Luckily.)

          But…I also have two small children.

          I frequently *don’t know* when I’m contagious and not, but if I avoided doing things around other people whenever I might be, I wouldn’t get much done. :(

          (I do try to treat coughs and sneezing differently, though some of my allergies lead to sneezing – that’s not frequent, though. And of course if I have a fever that’s clearly not allergies.)

          1. AnonAnalyst*

            Another year-round allergy sufferer, with a chronic illness to boot that can manifest itself at times with symptoms similar to the same symptoms I get when I’m getting a cold. I also frequently don’t know if I’m actually sick or if my body just hates me that day. If I stayed home sick every time this happened, I would miss a ton of work…like, so much that I probably couldn’t hold down a full time job.

            I try to stay away or at least give people the warning when I’m pretty sure I’m actually sick, but I’ve also unfortunately gotten other people sick when I didn’t realize I was sick for a few days (yes, this has actually happened – the last time it happened, it took me 3 days to realize I was sick, at which point I had already been living my life normally and I’m sure some acquaintances picked up the cold from me).

            I kind of feel for the boss. It’s possibly he’s just a jerk, but I can understand why he would push through if his experience is anything like mine. I think it’s totally reasonable for the OP to ask him not to ride in her car, but describing him as a selfish jerk rubbed me the wrong way. I like Dan’s suggested wording for approaching him about it.

        2. Sadsack*

          That’s understandable, but the manager should understand the difference between getting into the office to work and pushing himself on his employee in his car to visit customers which can be rescheduled.

        3. Azalea*

          My boss comes to work sick on a regular basis, and constantly claims that it’s “just allergies.” If I get a respiratory illness, it takes me 4-6 weeks to completely shake it. After spending literally five months constantly getting sick from him, I finally stopped touching doorknobs in my office. He doesn’t use my desk, and I flat out told him this past winter that if he’s sniffling, he needs to find me another work space. I managed to get through this winter with only one bug, so hopefully it’s working.

        4. INTP*

          The “It’s just allergies” line is soooo common. I don’t know how many cases of allergies I’ve caught from coworkers. I think allergies in the workplace generally means “I’m not wasting my sick leave on a cold but I still want you to like me so I won’t admit that.”

          I’ve also had chronic respiratory tract infections so I kind of get where this guy is coming from, though I think he’s in the wrong. I would go to work (though not in a car with coworkers) sick because I had five sick days a year, needed them for ENT visits and tests, and got a cold or sinus infection at least monthly followed by a lingering bout of bronchitis. By the time I got surgery for the underlying sinus issue, I had exhausted all that time and had to take my surgery leave unpaid. My coworkers would get annoyed and be passive aggressive about the coughing (then-undiagnosed asthma it turns out) but I wasn’t going to take more weeks worth of unpaid leave. This guy might be getting sick with such a frequency that it’s not feasible to rearrange his schedule or he’s concerned about being seen as unfit for his job if he delays core tasks until he’s well. When you’re sick so much you kind of have to ignore it to avoid it impacting your career advancement. I guess I can identify with the chronically ill person survival mode, though he’s really being inconsiderate about it. He should at least have volunteered to take a separate car when OP expressed concern.

          1. Kyrielle*

            It can also mean they really have allergies, that have similar symptoms to a cold, with the result that they have no idea when it’s allergies or colds. But it still bites. :|

            1. INTP*

              True. It just bugs me when people continue to say “it’s not contagious, it’s just allergies” after repeated instances of their coworkers getting sick a few days after their “allergy ” attacks. Don’t proclaim to be noncontagious unless you’re sure! I don’t dismiss all allergies as fake, I’ve just had more coworkers with mysteriously contagious allergies than real ones (at least amongst the people that whine proactively about their allergies before anyone can accuse them of having a cold).

              1. Kyrielle*

                Yeah, that’s a little more than just having no idea. “I think it’s just allergies, but I’m not sure” is about as strong a statement as I make. The only time I’ve said I was definitely not contagious was when the symptoms corresponded to a confirmed bacterial infection, and I’d been told I wouldn’t be contagious after 48 hours on the antibiotics. :P But otherwise, it could be just allergies, or there could be a cold involved as well, I’d never know the difference. (And I have small children – they bring home every little virus they meet to show it off, I swear.)

    2. drifting falling floating weightless*

      Just a thought: get one of those really fast thermometers that you run across a person’s forehead. If he seems sick, ask him if he’s got a temperature. Yeah, no doubt the guy will register a 101F and say “I’m just hot-blooded” or something dumb like that. But you could still attempt to argue the case that he’s ill.

  7. Graciosa*

    Regarding #4, please do not do this.

    Another manager and I both rejected a candidate who brought this up during an initial interview, which is still much further into the process than a cover letter. The timing and question made it clear that benefits were the only aspect of the job of interest to the candidate.

    Yes, we know people work for compensation (and benefits are part of that) but we’re looking for candidates who have some interest in the actual job. Yes, we are happy to discuss benefits with a candidate who is receiving an offer – but please wait until we both agree there is serious mutual interest.

    The experience I mentioned felt like having a first date skip any other conversation and jump right into verifying you can agree on how to discipline the children – admittedly an important conversation, but not to be rushed.

    1. Dan*

      “The experience I mentioned felt like having a first date skip any other conversation and jump right into verifying you can agree on how to discipline the children – admittedly an important conversation, but not to be rushed.”

      This is where people get really funny… what is seriously offensive to one person, is fun banter to another, and a segue into much more dirty talk if you really want to take it that far. FTR, every date is different, and no two women are the same. Besides, important conversations can be had sandwiched between playful banter.

      1. neverjaunty*

        You’re, er, kind of missing the point here, which isn’t about how explicit adults want to be about what might come after dinner and a movie. A first date is getting to know the other person. Somebody who immediately starts talking about ‘how to discipline the children’ is showing that they’ve already decided, in their mind, that things are going to progress to the point that you are going to be a couple long-term, have children together and now need to start planning on matching parenting philosophies. In other words, that they aren’t really paying attention, but have their own agenda and are fast-forwarding past a LOT of social interaction – including figuring out what the other person’s feelings are on the matter.

    2. Cam*

      Honestly, I think it’s perfectly fair to bring up benefits on the first interview. If you don’t have any and that’s a dealbreaker for someone(which it is for many people with families to take care of – and in the nonprofit world benefits are anything but a given), then it helps you both to not waste any more time. Unfortunately, employers really have a lot more power than employees and many won’t see it this way.

      1. BRR*

        I agree completely. Even for something I love doing I won’t do it for $15K a year and no benefits. In my opinion a company should outline their benefits package online or in the posting along with a salary range. Forget jumping ahead on the first date, compensation/benefits might stop me from wanting to even go on a first date.

        1. Samantha*

          Yes. If employers were more upfront about this, it would save both them and potential candidates a lot of time, rather than the candidates having to act like (at least until they receive an offer) the benefits package is of no consequence when in fact it can be a deal breaker for many people.

        2. HeyNonnyNonny*

          Yes. Not knowing compensation is like going on a date where all you know is the person’s looks. Sure, they might look good, but then they might turn out to be a serial killer.

        3. Rebecca*

          Second this! I saw a job posted in local government, and I thought “that would be perfect for me!” There was no salary range posted, but I did a little digging, as the salaries are public, and found out the job paid $10.80/hour with huge insurance costs. I’d be basically working for around $220/week take home pay. Not possible, so I didn’t even apply. Total time saver all the way around.

        4. Oryx*

          Yes. I had a phone screen a few weeks ago and right off the bat we talked pay so as to not waste either one’s time and in a follow up email for my in person interview he provided the benefits package. It was so refreshing to have that information at the beginning.

          1. Shan*

            +1 When I was on a phone interview for the position I am in now, the recruiter and I discussed compensation and I was so thankful for it. I was relieved because I hated feeling powerless to discuss salary ahead of time.

      2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        Agreed. But at initial stages, ask only basic, general questions (and do wait for a first interview):
        What is the hiring range for this position?
        Do you offer health insurance? Paid time off?

        Don’t ask to review the details of the health plan, and don’t ask them to tell you exactly how much they would pay you within that range. Ask that stuff later.

        And employers – especially nonprofits where things are all over the map – post a salary range and some basic benefits info.

        1. Future Analyst*

          But the details of the health insurance are hugely important for some– having to pay half your paycheck to cover the employee’s share of health insurance is vastly different than having to pay 10% of your paycheck. I think this falls in the same category as finding out their salary range.

          1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

            Then ask late in the first interview – but not when you apply. Employers get so very many applications compared to the number of people they interview, and it’s not always a good use of time to respond to detailed questions when you’re not even sure you want to interview the person.

            On the other hand, I guess it depends how much you want/need the job. It’s risky to ask about benefits too soon (saying this as someone else you absolutely requires great health coverage) – the risk is that they might think that’s all your interested in and decline to continue with the process. If you are willing/able to take that risk, than there’s no harm done.

          2. Chickaletta*

            Agree. Health insurance is so expensive these days that the employee’s share can range into the 5 figures, especially for a family. A $45K salary with good insurance coverage can actually be more take home for an employee than a $50K salary with poor coverage, for example.

    3. Raine*

      It’s business. It sounds like you take it as a personal affront to be asked about the business.

      1. Graciosa*

        No, but I do take it as a bad sign when this is the only thing the person cares about and there’s not even an attempt to muster up a pretense of interest in the job itself.

        “What questions do you have for us?” at the end of a first interview is usually followed by at least a few that involve the role or the fit – why did the last person leave, what distinguishes the best performers in the role, can you tell me a bit about your priorities as a manager or the culture of the office, etc. I’m perfectly happy to talk about any of these.

        If instead I get “How many X-Type doctors are available within Y miles of Location?” followed by “Is Named Doctor a participant in the plan?” and is “What is the co-pay on Drug I’ve Never Heard Of?” I do take it as a bad sign. Apparently, the candidate has no interest in the role or the fit that could ever exceed the person’s interest in the benefit schedule.

        And I’m actually looking for someone who has some interest in the job, so this is a “No” for me.

        Part of this may be colored by the fact that I’m hiring for professional roles in a Fortune 100 company, so it’s pretty much a given that we have solid benefit plans – although not necessarily perfect for everyone (medical, dental, vision, short and long term disability, vacation, 401k matching, HSA and FSA, etc. – but the medical is a high deductible plan).

        It would be a completely different matter if the candidate asked me those questions after receiving an offer and have selected the candidate as someone I want on my team. At that point, I’m happy to go research coverage for Drug I’ve Never Heard Of – but I don’t know this off the top of my head and I’m not going to get you an answer in the last five minutes of an initial interview.

        And if this is all you ask me, you’re not getting a second interview.

        1. Future Analyst*

          Is there a way to ask the first set of questions, and then questions about the benefits? I think both speak to the viability of the arrangement working for both the candidate and the employer, and it seems unfair to expect someone to walk out of the interview not knowing basics of the position– I think the benefits package is as important to disclose as the company’s requirement that the employe know Java or SQL and work 60+ hours a week. The interview should certainly not be one-sided in terms of the employee getting an understanding of what they would be signing up for, and benefits fall squarely in the realm of things a candidate would need to know about.

          1. fposte*

            For me, it’s okay to ask about benefits and pay as long as you don’t *only* ask about benefits and pay; if your questions are at the granularity of specific doctor and drug coverage, I wouldn’t ask those, though, because there’s no reason for the hiring manager to know and they’re usually publicly accessible information (I’d always confirm it with the doctor’s office, too). I might open that section with “I have some practical questions about benefits–is there somebody I can ask those of, or do you have a pointer to the website and employee information details?”

            1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

              Yes – it’s getting too specific about benefits that’s an issue. Asking if that exist is totally different, and the employer should really bring that up pretty early int he process. Don’t give me a complex research project to do before I”m even sure I’m interested in you.

        2. Future Analyst*

          Two things to add: in today’s marketplace, I don’t think it’s really a given anymore that companies (even Fortune 100s) offer solid benefit plans– and as I mention above, there’s a vast difference between an insurance policy that requires the employee to pay back half of their paycheck each month and one that requires 10% input.
          I do agree that how the questions are phrased really matter (expecting you to know if Doctor X is covered is ludicrous), but I think there should be room for finding out the general structure of a company’s benefits package.

          1. themmases*

            I agree. I worked at a place that had great health benefits when I started and some negative change– sometimes small, sometimes large– was made to them every single year that I worked there. But the place still advertises itself as having great benefits! Honestly, I’m not even sure that they are lying so much as that they have a self-image that is outdated.

            With benefits and especially with health benefits, the devil is in the details. Maybe our health plan still was awesome for my coworkers who had kids and were covering their families. As a healthy young single person, I basically need an affordable way to make sure I won’t go instantly bankrupt if I get hit by a bus or something. I definitely wasn’t getting that at my old employer with “great benefits”. So while I definitely work because I care– I’m in public health– when I hear that a place thinks they offer good benefits, I think, “I’ll be the judge of that.”

          2. Rana*

            Yes. We didn’t find out until after we’d enrolled in my husband’s PPO plan that it was grandfathered and doesn’t cover any regular wellness checkups (a very big deal when you’re the parent of a young child). We’re lucky in that their HMO option does cover them and her doctor’s on their list – we’ll be switching next enrollment period – and that we can handle paying out of pocket for everything for a year, but I can absolutely see how this could be a dealbreaker for someone if they knew about it.

        3. A Teacher*

          Fortune 100 doesn’t mean your health insurance is great. Father retired from the fortune 100 consteuction manufacturer that is yellow. While they have United Health Care, their is no copay for office visits and it’s all out of pocket. A doctors visit runs 120-350 depending on type of doctor you’re seeing. Copays for meds are high and now they require married employees to show a state issued marriage certificate to prove they are married, even if they’ve been on the plan for multiple years. Oh and it’s expensive for family insurance. So while I would want the employee to ask questions about the role, some of the more specific but generalized questions like copays should be okay too.

          1. fposte*

            I get the desire to know, but unfortunately, I wouldn’t know the answer to those as an interviewer.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

              Right, I completely understand why it’s important to know all the details before you accept an offer, but in our place, that’s an HR thing. Nobody who is interviewing can answer benefit questions in detail anyway.

              We do have our benefits overview in our ads and on our employment page. Asking detailed questions about benefits doesn’t belong in a first interview. Asking detailed questions about the position, the company, the work atmosphere does. Ask all the hard hitting questions you like.

              1. fposte*

                Yeah, I wish the benefits overview availability was more common. It’s so sensible, and it’s not revealing anything compromising. (Though applicants really can find out a lot on their own–a lot of employee benefits info is posted online.)

              2. Anx*

                I interviewed several times with a company that had an HR interview first where benefits were discussed, then sent you off to interview with the department.

          2. Ad Astra*

            I had a similar experience with United Health Care. The premiums were about average imo, but paying out of pocket for all my medicine and every doctor’s appointment was untenable on my salary. I assumed this plan was just crappy because my company was being cheap, but it was frustrating that so few doctors in my area would accept United.

            1. Liane*

              All these comments about United are sad but useful information for me. I am job hunting and might have thought a company that had United had a good plan, because years ago we had their insurance through one of our employers and it was

              1. Sloop*

                All insurance companies offer plans that are high-deductible in nature and would require you to pay the negotiated cost of the drug / office visit until reaching the deductible or out of pocket maximum. It’s not just a UHC-specific thing, it depends on what your employer offers :)

                1. Doreen*

                  Not only that, but you might think you have a United Health Care plan when in fact your employer is self-insured and UHC only administers the plan. My plan changed to self-insured two years ago but I’m sure most of the people covered don’t know that – the cards and explanations of benefits dont look any different than before the switch.

              2. Arjay*

                It’s not just UHC. The trend in private healthcare across the board is “consumer-driven”, high-deductible plans. We’ve had both UHC and Aetna and the offerings are basically the same.

              3. HappyWriter*

                United has been good to me so far! We have one of their high-deductible plans through my husband’s company, but the company contributes a good chunk of that deductible to a health savings account for you, so that really helps. And once you reach the deductible (yay for a chronic condition), United pays for almost everything! Here in Southern CA, I haven’t had any problem finding doctors and facilities who take it. (For the record, we have a PPO plan.)

              4. Ad Astra*

                Like others have said, I’m not confident United was the culprit. I probably would have had similar problems with other high-deductible plans, though paying out-of-pocket for prescriptions and regular doctor visits (until I hit the deductible) was new to me.

                The doctors in my area at the time seemed to indicate that accepting United was somehow more difficult (in terms of paperwork, I think?) than accepting BCBS or Aetna or whatever, but that may have just been a local thing. They would say things like “Oh, Dr. Williams doesn’t accept United yet, but she’s in the process of getting that set up. Dr. Jones has been accepting United for the last three months or so, and Dr. Smith will probably never, ever accept United.” Anyone know about this?

        4. Afiendishingy*

          Ahh! I can’t imagine disclosing to interviewers what medications I’m taking, and on a first interview no less. Candidates really do that??

          1. Editor*

            I’ve worked at various jobs with people who have or have spouses with MS. The medication is very expensive, often not covered, and changing doctors can be stressful because the illness is chronic and complicated. I can understand the impulse to ask specific questions at an interview when the medication itself is thousands of dollars a month.

            I agree that going straight to specifics about the health plan without asking about the job is not a good practice, but I’m also unimpressed by employers who offer what’s essentially a bait-and-switch, with a salary offer that doesn’t represent real take-home pay because of the cost of benefits.

    4. Brett*

      Interviewing with another employer requires me jumping through an enormous number of hoops with my current employer (we are required by law to report applying for a new job), taking unpaid time off, and still puts my current job at risk. I am even required to pay my own travel.
      Because of all of that, I am going to try to find out as much up front as I can.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        What kind of role are you in where you have to disclose applying for another job?

        (if you don’t respond, I’m assuming CIA :-))

        1. Case of the Mondays*

          Certain government positions require your manager’s approval to apply if you are currently a government employee. I’m not a government employee but heard about this scenario from someone who is.

          1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

            Really?!?! That’s crazy! I guess, though, because it’s government that it would be hard for them to fire you for looking?

            1. Brett*

              Yeah, it’s a government job.
              There’s actually criminal penalties attached :/ Mostly fines, but jail and even prison is possible if you go as far as moonlighting without permission.

                1. Case of the Mondays*

                  I’m not Brett (obviously) but his likely has to do with conflicts of interest and security clearances. The example I had given, the logic is more that one agency or department won’t take away a key employee and they will have an automatic known reference check. It’s kind of silly but if you look at it as the government is one big company then it does make some sense. If you worked for X insurance agency, you probably couldn’t move from claims to audit without claims being on board too. Govt works kind of the same way in some positions, even if it is a total career change like TSA to IRS or something. It is also common for details where you are essentially loaned to another agency for a year or two. You can’t just apply, your manager has to approve electronically first before anything will go through.

                2. Pennalynn Lott*

                  Can you apply for jobs in the private sector without your manager’s knowledge or approval?

                3. Case of the Mondays*

                  To Pennalynn, for the second scenario I listed, yes. For the first where there are potential conflict of interest issues or security clearance issues the answer is it depends and sometimes no.

    5. Tomato Frog*

      I think it’s more like asking if a person wants to have children on the first date. Yes, it’s not socially acceptable and yes it sends signals you perhaps don’t want to send, but at the same time it’s absolutely reasonable information to want to know up front.

      I will take your word for it that the person you interviewed was giving off “only interested in getting paid” vibes, but I don’t think asking about benefits should be an automatic deal breaker. I asked about benefits in a phone screening for my current job. I wouldn’t do it again — it was one of my first professional job interviews and I knew I had screwed up right after I said it — but actually the answer got at useful information about work-life balance. Then I got the job, and they got a very passionate employee.

    6. LBK*

      Yes, we are happy to discuss benefits with a candidate who is receiving an offer – but please wait until we both agree there is serious mutual interest.

      But how can the candidate know if they’re seriously interested if you’re only providing them with half of the information they need to make that call? Getting info about fit, culture, etc throughout the interview process is great, but if you’re going to pay me half of what I’m looking for, my interest is immediately reduced to zero. That’s absolutely critical information.

      1. Future Analyst*

        +1. I don’t see why some think that an interview should only be marginally informative for the candidate. It should be a conversation based on mutual interest, and getting deal-breakers on the table will help cut down on a lot of wasted time and energy down the line.

    7. Jessa*

      The issue with this, is that for some people arranging an interview is a huge thing (particularly if they have awful bosses they have to pretend around.) I would really be annoyed if I wasted a valuable day and found out we were 15000 off from each other. Why the heck can’t job descriptions give an idea of at least the bottom line of the salary levels. I may love the job, it may be the perfect job for me, someone may have taken my resume and written the job description from it, but if it doesn’t pay anything close to what I need, why should I be the one who has to waste time. The interviewer is going to spend time interviewing regardless. They’re getting paid to do that. I’m stuck arranging possibly time off, transportation, effort, etc. Give me enough information to self select out before that please.

      1. Artemesia*

        I agree. I have when recruiting had candidates ask me the pay range and benefits to decide whether to stay in the applicant pool. This seems reasonable to me when people have to make a lot of difficult arrangements to be able to interview. We wanted champagne people for beer pay and lost a lot from the pool early — fair enough.

    8. Mike C.*

      So if someone needs to make sure that their crazy illness is covered then you make them wait until the offer stage? That’s special.

      1. Mike C.*

        I mean seriously, some people have very serious medical issues, or have dependents with serious medicals issues that are a matter of life or death. Why wouldn’t that be their first priority?

      2. Lionness*

        I don’t think that is what they are saying at all. I think they are saying when that is the *only* thing the person asks about it is a deal breaker. And, honestly, it would be for me too – and I am a proponent for being up front about salary and benefits (and, in fact, when I was hiring I did an additional phone screen to go over these details before HR scheduled in person interviews).

      3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        I can’t answer if someone’s crazy illness is covered. No hiring manager can answer if your crazy illness is covered.

        No, people should not ask questions like that in their first interview.

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          Exactly. It’s too complicated for that atmosphere. Unless the interviewer has the same “crazy disease” there’s usually no way to know this without a huge amount of info being exchanged between the employer or employee and the insurance company. And in-depth info about your health don’t belong in a first interview – much less a cover letter.

        2. Zillah*

          FWIW, as someone with medical expenses that absolutely must be covered, I agree with you. A basic summary of the benefits, sure, but detailed questions? It reveals a lot of private information about you, it’s directing questions at someone who likely doesn’t have those answers anyway… It’s just a bad idea.

        3. Doreen*

          Even without any crazy diseases, I couldn’t answer any questions. At least twenty different plans with four different rates each over a huge range- family coverage can be from $132 biweekly to $643 biweekly depending on plan, bargaining unit and paygrade.

    9. Ad Astra*

      I’m surprised to hear that asking about benefits during a first interview is such a dealbreaker. Was the question extremely specific, or was it a long line of questions, or something? Asking something like “What does your benefits package look like?” seems pretty normal to me.

    10. Bend & Snap*

      This is unfair and tone deaf. Guess what–regardless of how excited I am about the job, the benefits are going to make or break my interest. It’s horrible practice to punish candidates for not wanting to waste their time interviewing for a position that isn’t going to fit their needs.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The issue is ONLY asking about benefits and nothing about the job itself.

        (And regardless, it definitely doesn’t belong in a cover letter.)

      2. Another HRPro*

        And a first interview is just too early in the process. I would expect questions on benefits in the second interview but as many others have said, most hiring managers won’t know detailed specifics about coverage. However if the second interview goes well, they would generally do some research and respond to the question after the second interview.

      3. NoCalHR*

        We give phone-interview candidates a high-level benefits summary: medical through Kaiser; dental through MetLife, VSP for vision, 10 paid holidays, vacation and sick leave accrual, plus company-paid benefits, and eligibility information, as well as the hiring wage range (caveated by skills and fit). Candidates who are invited to an in-person interview also get 15-30 minutes with HR specifically to discuss wages and/or benefits in more detail, but still wouldn’t be given Special Drug pricing. That level of detail would be available to the finalist candidate, after she signed the conditional offer letter and a start date was determined.

        I’m not in favor of unduly stressing candidates and applicants, and equally unsupportive of dotting every ‘i’ for someone who may or may not get past the initial screen, hence the phone screen summary.

  8. Dan*


    Quoting the OP #1: “This guy clearly has no regard for anyone but himself.”
    Quoting the OP #2: ” I told him it was okay with me to reschedule for when he wasn’t sick.”
    Quoting AAM: “It seems like I’m weirdly susceptible to your colds!”

    The first is too strong, and I’m not entirely sure is warranted given the phrasing by the OP. It’s hard to explain, but for engineering types sitting in front of a computer all day, “It’s ok to reschedule” is way too subtle. Likewise, AAM’s response is too subtle as well.

    I favor a direct, “John, I’ve been getting sick after sharing a car all day with you when you have a cold. Can we postpone these trips until you are feeling better? If not, can we ride separately?” For those that don’t/can’t take subtle hints, there *is* a level of directness that isn’t offensive, that otherwise would/could be to a broader audience.

    1. Avocado*

      Yeah, I don’t even think you have to be an engineer type to misinterpret that suggestion. It’s phrased as an offer made for the boss’s sake, and he unfortunately but understandably took it at face value. It sounds like he still thinks he’s not contagious, and hasn’t been told otherwise yet.

      The LW should make it clear that his “allergies” are getting her sick, and see how he responds when he has that information.

      1. Artemesia*

        totally agree. Don’t make it sound like you are doing it as a favor to him as he is one of those self centered jerks who doesn’t think about anyone else. You have to actually say ‘I seem to be very susceptible to your colds and have been sick every time after we ride together when you are sick. We need to schedule these calls when you are not sick or take separate cars.’

      2. Anna*

        He may be contagious, but it takes more than 24 hours for a virus to incubate. It’s possible the OP is suffering a bit from suggestion. He may have allergies, sometimes allergies and colds look very similar. The thing is, if the OP is getting sick right after the boss shows up it’s probably not the boss who gave it to them.

        1. Marcela*

          Yes, that’s what I was thinking. I wonder, given the slight paranoia American people have against sickness (this is not really a criticism because I know it’s not fun to be in a office where illness create a cycle where we all get sick, again and again; it’s just that the US is the only country I’ve been where people get really mad at you because you don’t stay at home: in all other places, working sick is just one of the crappy things we have to do because we need the money _and_ our days off). People is contagious before they show symptoms. So by the time we know our coworker is sick, we have been exposed and the “damage” is done.

    2. BRR*

      Usually I find you more on the direct side which I don’t mind (I actually prefer it) but some might not be able to stomach. Here though I think your wording is great.

    3. JB (not in Houston)*

      I mostly agree, but I’m not giving any adult “types” an excuse for not knowing better than to knowingly expose people to highly contagious illnesses when it can be avoided. Is there some reason that the manager can’t take it upon himself to schedule for when he feels well? I agree the OP needs to be direct since the manager isn’t going to care about this on his own. But the manager is, at the least, pretty self-absorbed. I’m not saying it’s malicious–there’s nothing there to indicate that intending to get anybody sick. But he certainly isn’t giving any thought to how his illness might affect others.

      1. INTP*

        Sometimes it can’t be avoided at work, if you get sick frequently and need to keep your job. Most people would not risk their jobs over exposing coworkers to a cold (which is what you’d be doing if you were sick very frequently and took all of your highly symptomatic days off every time). He should avoid the
        car trips on those days if it’s possible but I wonder if he’s just not thinking about the car trips as putting his coworkers at more risk than being in the office.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          True, and I don’t give any side-eye to, say, a secretary at my office who has a boss that makes her feel like she can’t stay home. But a boss who doesn’t know if he’s contagious or not–and has had enough experience to know he doesn’t know–who then wants to make somebody else ride around in a car with him? That’s the kind of thing I mean. As someone who is overworked, has really bad allergies, and also catches everything that comes around, I know people can’t always stay home (although I’ll say I’ve gotten a lot better at telling the difference between a cold and “just allergies”). But there are situations that you can control, like letting the people you manage ride in a car with you all day.

      2. Marcela*

        But there is also the problem that a cold is contagious before you feel sick. It’s not realistic to ask somebody to _always_ manage to prevent exposure.

        1. Anna*

          Mutual appreciation society. :) Exactly this. The OP said that within 24 hours of him being in her car, she was sick. Well, that doesn’t line up with the boss being the one who gave her an illness. That isn’t to say he shouldn’t be mitigating the exposure people have to his illness, but “about a day later” says to me the OP isn’t catching the cold from her boss.

    4. Ad Astra*

      I think “Oh, it’s ok with me to reschedule for when you’re not sick” was a good, diplomatic first approach. It would work just fine on a more self-aware colleague. But since that didn’t work, it’s time to be far more direct and actually ask for what you want.

  9. Dan*

    “I’m currently in a shift-managing position for a restaurant and having a problem with my closing employees working slowly on purpose or having no motivation to leave on time so that they can get paid longer.”

    Uh, what kind of employees are they? I mean, are they servers or bar staff who are paid the tipped minimum wage of $2.50? If so, I’d never be slacking off to get rich off of that kind of money, but I might be cutting up with my friends at work after the customers are gone and not be thinking twice about it. After all, it’s $2.50. And yes, I’ve worked for that kind of money before. Those guys certainly aren’t thinking about how to get rich off of your back…

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      Yeah I was wondering the same thing, you’d have to waste a lot of time at that hourly rate to make a big difference to your cheque at the end of the week.

      I’d guess something else is going on.

      1. Panda Bandit*

        Yeah, something is up. When I worked in food service everyone could not wait to get out of there at the end of the night.

        1. BRR*

          Yeah after a shift we were always dying to get home. 15 min of pay or even 30 wasn’t worth it.

        2. Kelly L.*

          Yup. I’m wondering if it’s actually too much work for the people and time allotted to it.

          1. AVP*

            Yeah, this is unfortunately common in retail, not sure about restaurant work. You get half an hour to do, like, am hour or so of work for a reasonable person, and then you’re expected to stay late for free to get it done. Illegal, but very common.

            I wonder if the OP here is there when the work is happening, or just seeing the hours the next day?

            1. Justin*

              I am there. I am also closing down but also doing the end of day paperwork such as daily inventory and counting the register while the other employees get a section to close. One for the dinning room, two for the food line where we make the food in front of the customers and one in the kitchen. Myself, I do my paperwork and then help the most behind in their work.

        3. Alice*

          Yup. When I worked at a small chain Boutique retail clothing store the owner made a new rule that we had to finish closing within 10 minutes of the stores closing time which was ridiculous. He was being cheap. We were never trying to take longer to get some extra pennies. Some times we finished in seconds but other times there were customers that wouldn’t go away even when we reminded them we were closed, you had to recount the register if a customer bought something last minute and then you had to go put away all the clothes they threw on the floor five minutes ago in the fitting room and then fix all the hangers they messed up by rummaging through the racks.

          1. Shan*

            When I worked at a large department store, closing was the worst especially when customers wouldn’t leave after we were closed.

            Slightly off topic, but I once told customers that we were closed (it had been about 15 minutes past closing time) and they had the nerve to tell me that “legally, stores need to stay open an extra 30 minutes to serve the customers needs”. I didn’t even know how to respond that.

      2. Natalie*

        The something else could be the legendary cheapness of restaurant managers, sadly.

      3. AndersonDarling*

        I was coming here to say the same thing. When my husband was closing shop, he would mop so fast you’d think he was The Flash. The close-up pay is so minimal, he considered it was working for free and just part of the gig. The three person crew would clean the bar and restaurant in 30 minutes.

    2. Ashley*

      I was thinking more along the lines of fast food, which is usually at least minimum wage. In high school I worked for a major chain restaurant and was hired specifically to work closing shifts. My starting pay was higher than minimum wage to compensate for those time slots. I guess I could see an extra hour + making a difference for someone in that situation.

      1. AnotherFed*

        And if that extra hour takes them over 8, they might also get OT for it. An extra $2.50 is peanuts, but an extra hour of closing shift pay is noticeable! I remember being excited about getting an extra half hour at my first retail job if customers were still in the store or in line to pay at closing time, and that was only like $10.

        1. Natalie*

          Worth noting that in most states, working over 8 hours a day doesn’t get you OT. (I’m assuming you’re in CA, where it does.) You have to be over 40 hours aggregate.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Federal tipped minimum wage is $2.13.

      I’m only pointing it out because it’s ridiculous how low it is. The “tipped” minimum wage need to be abolished, and restaurants need to start charging for their true costs, not relying on consumers to voluntarily make up part of their labor costs.

      1. Anx*

        This rarely hurt me, though. I rarely made less than minimum wage in a week, and often made more.

        I did roll my eyes at getting to keep the change (coins) on some tables (mostly elderly*). Other customers made up for it.

        *A stereotype, I know. I’m glad you’re posting this though because I think they reason they tipped so poorly is because they thought their tips were extra, not the bulk of our pay.

    4. Jessa*

      It could also be a place that actually pays properly IE you get the full minimum wage if the tips do not bring you up to it, so side work and cleaning actually pay you better than waiting tables if it’s a cheap venue. Now it’s probably NOT, the restaurant industry is notorious for bad pay, but still. I can see reasons for it.

      1. LBK*

        Isn’t that the actual legal requirement – that if tips don’t bring the average hourly wage up to the standard minimum wage, the employer has to make up the difference?

        1. blackcat*

          This is very, very commonly ignored, particularly at places where the waitstaff is young. One of my friends got fired from a summer job in high school after she pointed this out to her employer.

        2. fposte*

          I think it’s unfortunately common not to, though.

          However, I’m with others in thinking this may not be a restaurant where tips apply anyway; I think the fast food and fast casual places are the most common, at any rate.

        3. Anx*

          It’s the law, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone say something.

          If you don’t make min wage, it may look bad for you: either your service or sales are slipping. Or you look like you’re not a team player or a whiner, etc. You’re better off playing down an off night than losing Saturday night shifts.

    5. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      When I bartended we got paid for a half-hour after closing and one of the managers would clock us out at 2:30 if we hadn’t clocked ourselves out. The only exception was Saturdays where we got an hour to do bar inventory.

      We busted our humps to make sure we were done under the time limit.

      1. drifting falling floating weightless*

        This was pretty much how it worked at the first food service job I had: we had 30 minutes to clean up and shut everything down. It tended to be impossible – but this was back in 1976, I’m not sure if ‘wage theft’ even existed back then, and I’m pretty sure the boss would have fired me on the spot if I’d brought such a thing up. He was also famous for giving us a generous 20 minute meal break – but God help you if you actually used 20 minutes.

    6. ThursdaysGeek*

      In my state, all workers receive at least state minimum wage, which happens to be the highest in the country. So it would be nearly $10/hr.

    7. Justin*

      The employees are not wait staff. Employees are paid minimum wage or more. The restaurant is considered fast casual. Customers come in order their food which is made in front of them and may then seat or take it to go. Food is prepared in house. At the end of the night we have tasks of storing unused food, cleaning equipment, cleaning the dinning room and the kitchen area. With the amount of people on staff we are given an hour which is plenty of time and has been demonstrated by myself and the other employees not in question with time to spare.

  10. Dan*

    “Did I mention I took a $20,000 a year cut in pay to come to work here? It was difficult finding a legal job in our region and I desperately needed a job, so I took whatever offer was given to me.”

    No, you didn’t mention that. This is probably a very minor side point, but the reality is that you didn’t “take a $20k/yr pay cut”, you accepted a salary that the market would bear. That doesn’t excuse you being treated poorly, but one more or less has nothing to do with the other. The exception is that if the employer is a known arsehat and compensates accordingly. (Which is one reason some employers pay “above market.”)

    1. Lily in NYC*

      OP was just providing background. Why are you picking on her about semantics?

      1. Dan*

        I’m not picking and it’s not semantics. It’s probably got a lot to do with her feelings about her job in the first place. While a side note, it was important enough to her to include.

        Many times, the only real choice we have when our superiors don’t mesh with our personalities is to learn how to tolerate it, or quit. Lots of times, our own approaches to things make situations worse than they have to be. I.e., how we respond to things is a choice.

        She’s probably unhappy with her pay in the first place, and an arsehole boss just makes it worse. The reality is that the legal market is saturated, and if the OP comes to terms with how that impacts her paycheck, the situation can become a bit more bearable. I’d still leave an arse hat boss, but my guess is that the “I took a paycut” mentality will stick with her for awhile.

    2. Ad Astra*

      I assumed the OP was mentioning it as a sort of “to add insult to injury” aside. It’s not directly relevant to Horrible Boss Guy’s behavior, but it tells us more about how she’s feeling: both mistreated and underpaid.

    3. Bend & Snap*

      I read it as, she took a pay cut and to add insult to injury, is being treated poorly. A pay cut is a lot easier to stomach if you like your boss and are treated with respect.

  11. Patrick G*

    #5 – a wage complaint from 30 years ago when you can’t even remember the company’s name? Better call saul!

    1. Audiophile*


      But seriously, the federal government is very clear. You have two years (three at the most if you can prove it was not accidental.) But definitely not 30 years.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        Right. And there is no way anyone involved here still has records to make a case with. This is why we retain thus kind of record for three years. There is no exposure beyond that.

  12. Cari*

    #1 – my mum used to work in adult education and her old boss used to come in every time she had a stinking cold, which she’d then give to everyone else. To make it worse, a lot of the students were really elderly, and potentially at greater risk of getting terribly sick from catching what would seem to most as a simple cold. It seems her boss’s workload was miles more important to keep on top of than the safety and wellbeing of the people that actually meant her boss had a job in the first place.

    If it turns out your boss doesn’t actually care, or hears your complaints but makes the assessment his workload really can’t wait until he’s better, make sure you’re not driving around with the air con on or circulating within your car, have the windows down instead. Also keep hand sanitiser and tissues handy to minimise the spread of cold germs, and some anti-bac for the surfaces in your car for after your boss is done sneezing and coughing over everything.

    #3 – your boss sounds awful! People who think they can take their bad mood out on others – particularly those lower in the workplace hierarchy than them – and that everyone does it, are so very wrong. It’s not sustainable. They get theirs in the end because eventually, people get fed up with their crappy behaviour.
    I suspect this is what my ex is finding now. He’s the same kind of person, that goes around taking his stress and anger out on *everyone*. He often told me of times friends and colleagues tried to gently express to him they were never sure which “him” they were going to get in work that day – angry and stressed or calm and reasonable, and that “Jekyl and Hyde” characterisation was one I’d use that kept me putting up with his abuse too.
    On other occasions he’d delight in telling me of times where he’d really torn into someone, which he then started doing to *my* colleagues. One person in my department ended up going off sick with work related stress, and ex decided to take ownership of that like he’d made that happen, and saw it as some kind of indication of his superiority over men that in his mind were “lesser” than him. He never left this behaviour in work either, exacerbating it with alcohol at home.
    He thought he was untouchable, that no one would stand up to him, but in the last year he’s lost me (and is finally on the police’s records), his network of supporting friends and colleagues are getting fed-up of him dumping his troubles on them because he can’t get his act together, and his department in work are apparently all supporting one of the other guys in the management support positions for taking over when the department head eventually retires.

    These people are big fish in small ponds. Once they’re done porking their way through the rest of the wildlife, they’ll be alone, starving and being suffocated by all the algae that’s thriving on the amount of crap they’ve produced during their reign of terror.

    So get out of that pond LW#3. You deserve much better than to wait a long time to be eaten and become part of the algae that will lead to your boss’s inevitable downfall (or mid-life heart attack). Good luck with your job search! :)

    1. fposte*

      I like the other tips, but I’ll demur on the anti-bacterial–the OP is talking about viruses, and all antibacterial substances will do is make it less likely her medication will work if she ever does contract something bacterial.

    2. MashaKasha*

      #1, I dated someone who worked in the academia. Apparently they cannot call in sick and don’t have substitutes. Any time anyone in the college has a cold, they just keep coming in to work and spreading it to everyone else. It’s SOP for him and his colleagues, so they didn’t seem to mind. I however minded a lot. Our relationship was pretty much two years non-stop of me getting his colds. My parents were in their 70s then, my mom had a terribly weak immune system, my dad (unbeknownst to me) had untreated cancer; they lived two blocks down from me and came to visit almost every day. I was scared out of my mind that one day I might give them one of my SO’s colds. As for the SO, he didn’t seem to care. I’d talk to him, mention my parents, try to reschedule our get-togethers, nothing worked. Hand sanitizer, airborne, etc did not work either.

      I’ve never had it happen in the workplace though. We have a WFH option and anyone who might be contagious, has always been encouraged to stay home. A few times people came in to work sick and their manager would then send them home. If a manager got sick, he or she would know to stay home and telecommute. Every one of my jobs took it very seriously. I’d try my best to insist on separate cars if I were OP1. Don’t know how that would fly with this boss, though. He also doesn’t seem to care. This truly sucks. No one’s job description should include getting infected by their manager on a regular basis.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Great pond analogy. :)

      I remember one time at Exjob my supervisor had a terrible flu and he came to work anyway–RIGHT before I was supposed to go visit my long-distance bf!! I was so terrified I’d get sick and ruin my trip. I didn’t, but if I had, I would not have hesitated to sneak into his office and sneeze on his keyboard the next time I became ill.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        When I worked at The Real Office (the job before my Exjob) there was this one woman who had been signed off sick but came in anyway and coughed her germs all over us. This was right before Christmas so not only did I get sick but my entire family caught it. Out of a team of 21, all except 4 caught it. She really wasn’t popular.

        1. Apollo Warbucks*


          How is Donna working for Louis I thought she’d never leave Harvey.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I don’t want to post any more spoilers, but I’ll just say that I kinda saw it coming.

  13. Katie the Fed*

    Ugh on boss in Question #3. I get it – it can be HARD when you’re under a ton of stress and pressure and employees are pushing your buttons, but you CAN’T lose your cool.

    I had an employee leave when he hadn’t finished a big project, then lie to my face about it. I knew he was lying and he admitted it. I was getting so angry I had to finally say “we need to discuss this tomorrow morning” because I was seriously about to lose my shit if I didn’t walk away.

    1. Dana*

      I’m not sure how the boss giving the OP permission to take on the extra work, seemingly knowing it wasn’t going be feasible, then blowing up when OP came in to confess that it was too much is pushing the boss’ buttons. It would have saved a lot of grief for everyone if boss just would have said “no, you can’t take on the extra work, we’ll hire someone else” at the start.

  14. Ally*

    #3: Law firms can be very toxic enviornments, or very amazing. I’ve worked for both in my relatively short career. [new grad, etc.]

    I’m so sorry you’ve found yourself in one of the bad ones! I hope you can get out soon.

  15. Ad Astra*

    Of all the unprofessional things I’ve done or will do in my career, I can’t imagine ever screaming at someone I work with. What is wrong with people?

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      This issue, like many others, depends on the culture of the industry.

      Broadcasting is, well, notorious for yelling (both at people and to people), for a lot of reasons, but here are a few: deadlines, the need for perfection the first time, frustration not having the tools you need to do your job even though you’ve repeatedly asked for them, impotence at other people’s mistakes having a huge impact on your ability to deliver that perfection the first time, the pressure of immediate feedback from viewers, viewers themselves, uncontrollable technical problems… I could go on and on and on.

      It doesn’t happen all the time, everyday, but it happens.

      1. fposte*

        Though I think also the culture is the culture because it’s the culture, not because it’s requisite. There are plenty of people in yelly fields–sports, all manner of performance, journalism–who are effective without yelling at people. (Yelling *to* people is another matter, at leas to me.) It may be more accepted working in those realms, but it’s not as necessary as yellers might like to think.

      2. Ad Astra*

        I worked in journalism, including sports, and was never yelled at. Not once. The deadline pressure was still there, the expectation to be perfect every time was still there, along with the immediate feedback from readers (online) and delayed feedback from print readers (which sometimes felt worse), plus of course the uncontrollable technical problems and generally grouchy people who work too many hours for too little pay.

        No one ever screamed at me or anyone else in that environment. It’s not just unprofessional, it’s abusive.

        1. fposte*

          In general I’m in agreement, as I’m not a fan of management by yelling. But I also think a raised voice, absent the kind of imprecations the OP dealt with, isn’t inherently abusive and that it would be good for people to develop the ability to deal with it.

        2. ExceptionToTheRule*

          If you worked in sports broadcasting and never got yelled to/at, I’m impressed and want to know where that was ’cause it sounds like television paradise. =)

          Fposte is correct that a lot of it is “yelling to” because the fifth time I’ve asked you for that camera shot that airs in 3 seconds, I’m gonna raise my voice to get your attention and some people consider that being “yelled at.”

          1. Ad Astra*

            Yelled to, sure. Yelled at, not really. Screamed at? No sir.

            A raised voice is unprofessional but, I agree, not inherently abusive. And I faced a fair share of curt tones at normal volume. I just can’t picture ever being involved in something similar to what the OP describes.

            1. ExceptionToTheRule*

              I wholeheartedly agree that what the OP is dealing with is DTFMA-level BS.

      3. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        In my very first job after college I worked in a tv station on the business side but my boyfriend worked on the evening news. I’ll never forget the night I went back to the station because they were all going out after the broadcast. I was shocked to hear the producer scream and curse about “all the things” that went wrong during the show.

        It was so different from my 9-5 non-production experience!

  16. LadyTL*

    In regards to OP #2, exactly how long are they staying extra? If all they have to do is wipe down tables and nothing else sure a half hour might be enough depending on the size of the restaurant but if it wiping tables, fixing condiments, mopping/vacuuming floors and alot of other things, even small things. Well, those do all add up. I worked in a bakery/deli and closing took anywhere from a half hour to an hour and a half depending on how busy we were and it wasn’t a huge place. The more busy we were the less got done during operating hours. Also if it is at the end of a 6 hour shift or longer, they aren’t exactly going to be bustling around with energy since there isn’t customers to complain.

    You said when you send folks home after closing, the rest have to stay longer to finish things and aren’t happy about it. That seems to say that the work is causing the length of time they are staying. Also are they standing around talking or is this just a case of they don’t seem to be working super fast? Because, yes the former is a legitimate problem, the latter is a problem with your expectations. Getting things actually clean takes time in food service.

    I have worked under managers in food service who were willing to cut corners on cleaning so that employees would be there less. You know what happened almost every time? Someone got sick. One place rushed employees and someone left out shrimp which was then used the next day and they had to remove shrimp from the menu for a week because someone got sick. Another place was okay with spreaders that had been covered in mayo just be rinsed off and put back with clean ones, and yes people got sick.

    I can understand the frustration of it seeming like people are staying too long but I wold check first if it the clean up doing it or people hanging out.

    1. Ad Astra*

      I worked at a Dairy Queen where the lobby closed at 9. At least twice a week in the summer, someone would bring an entire Little League team into the lobby at 8:55 and get ice cream all over everything. All we could do is stand around (and serve the drive-thru) and wait for everyone to get out so we could wipe everything down and take down the soda fountain.

    2. Vicki*

      One of my very first jobs in College was in a department store (one of the wandering helper people, not a cashier). On my second or third night, they announced that everyone would be staying after closing to “straighten” the store.

      The store closed at 10pm. I had somewhere else I was supposed to be at 11:30. I had not planned to stay; I was not given a choice. I started straightening (folding shorts and shorts and neatening up the section) as fast as I could while being neat.

      Across from me, two older women, both longer-term employees, stood talking, “folding” the same two pairs of shorts over and over. From their point of view, they were getting overtime. They would be happy to stay until midnight.

      The next morning I drove over to the store and turned in my smock and badge. I’ve never worked a non-exempt retail position again.

    3. Justin*

      The duties include cleaning equipment, wrapping up the food, sweeping and mopping, etc. On nights we are busy late is one thing, and I understand that we will be getting done later because of this. The nights in question are the ones where there is abundance of time to finish everything either early or in the time allowed. I have myself demonstrated that it can be done quickly and correctly in the given time. They know it can be done and on occasionally nights they will get it done on time but only if they have somewhere to be.

  17. LizNYC*

    OP #3: good luck in finding a new job! A friend who’s a lawyer once worked for an a$$hat like you described. When she put her resume out there, in an area with also few legal career choices, all of her interviewers knew EXACTLY why she was leaving because the firm’s reputation was so *wonderful.* (She still gave the PC answer of “looking for new opportunities,” but some interviewers were like “I heard things are not great over there.”) Unfortunately, she had to leave the state to get a job, since all of the area firms didn’t want to tick off AH Firm. Hopefully, you will have better luck!

  18. Anon for This*

    With regards to #3 (and Alison, feel free to delete this if it’s too OT), if you have a good relationship with an owner and boss who has a bad habit of screaming and yelling at others, and you KNOW it’s costing them major money because of the cost to morale and because people hide key things from them, do you think it could be advisable to talk to them privately and express this concern?

    1. fposte*

      If you’re confident there won’t be repercussions, and if you can choose a calm and friendly time rather than making the point while she’s in that mode. I would lead with a question: “I know you’re unhappy that nobody told you about the website glitch. I have some thoughts about why that happened–would you want to hear those?”

      1. Anon for This*

        I’m not 100% confident. However, I think I’m more likely to be able to do it than anyone else. Plus, I have an decent emergency buffer because I’ve been saving with the expectation that I might quit without something lined up if the culture got too bad (long story), and in our market with my field, I know I could get another job fairly easily.

        1. fposte*

          In that case, I’d weigh how likely it was to work, how likely it was to avoid sending her nuclear, and how likely it was I was leaving soon anyway together to find out whether you got enough points to do it.

          To be honest, though, I don’t think this is likely to change her even if she takes it well. She might mean to change it, but that’s quite the habit at this point. So if you were thinking that changing her by telling her this is what would make it possible for you to stay, I’d let go of that hope. She’s yelling boss; stay with her if you can tolerate that, and leave if you can’t. (You can mention it in an exit interview if you don’t want it to go unsaid.)

  19. madge*

    As a former paralegal, the tirade in #3 doesn’t phase me (like others, I’ve seen staplers and other objects thrown across a room). With that said, OP, you aren’t overreacting at all. Your boss was out of line. I’m curious – has anyone yelled back at him? One partner I worked for would scream f-bombs and wildly inappropriate sexual slurs at people (attorneys, clerks, staff…everyone but judges). After a month or so, I snapped back at him and he loved it. He would tell people I was his favorite because I didn’t cry like everyone else. He still yelled but each time I snapped back, he would grin. When I was in an accident he handled the case for free, something he had never done before. Some people are twisted.

    Not that I’m suggesting you bark back, unless it’s after you give notice.

    1. Not my normal name*

      Yes, I once worked with an exec who was a world class bully. He yelled at everyone and had a mouth of a sailor. One day when he turned his tirade toward me I stood up and yelled right back at him and then walked out of his office. It was a very tense moment. But after that he respected me and he never yelled at me again. To me, yes, but not at me. I’m not recommending this, but some people just respond to strength. They learn who they can bully and who they can’t.

    2. abby*

      I replied further up this thread that after several years of being yelled at, I yelled back. The yelling, at least directed at me, stopped and our relationship greatly improved. Some people are weird.

  20. MsM*

    Re: #3, I know everyone’s already rightfully picked on the boss for yelling, but…don’t tell employees they’re replaceable, either. Even if they’re at the PIP stage, find a way to say it that doesn’t sound like you’re just looking for an excuse to send them packing, or they’ll take that as a sign they need to get out before that happens. And if the current problem doesn’t rise to the level of an immediately fireable offense, why even take things there?

    1. Ruffingit*

      Yeah, my current boss has threatened my job more than once. It stopped after I told him that if he’s going to fire me, to please do so and I will move along, no big deal. That was about 9 months ago. He recently made a comment about layoffs that were happening at the main office and how we better watch ourselves. I thought that was weird because if anyone is going to be fired from our office, it would likely be him. He’s the only one who isn’t licensed and thus cannot do the work that actually makes the money. So I wonder if he was saying that as more of a reminder to himself. Don’t know. Either way, I agree that threatening people’s jobs is never the way to go.

  21. Natalie*

    I’ve attempted sending these employees home, but it only gets the others upset because they have to stay longer to finish the work.

    Do, how much money are you actually saving sending these slower workers home? Say Wakeen takes an hour to do clean up and Jane takes 30 minutes. If you send Wakeen home when he’s completed 30 minutes of work, Jane is going to have to stay an extra 15 minutes to complete the second half of Wakeen’s work. Is a quarter-hour of labor truly worth the resentment of two staff members, not to mention whatever time you devote to micromanaging their cleanup speed?

    You are paying Jane for her extra time, right?

    1. LBK*

      I don’t think the proposed solution is cutting Wakeen after 30 minutes no matter how much work he’s done, it’s getting him to be finished in 30 minutes.

      1. Observer*

        But it isn’t working. So, now the OP has two resentful workers, and STILL is not getting the speed he wants.

        1. LBK*

          The OP’s current solution (of cutting Wakeen at 30 minutes no matter what) isn’t working. I don’t see any indication that the proposed solution (of actually making it clear to Wakeen that he’s expected to be done with his work in that time period) has been implemented.

          1. Justin*

            They are indeed aware of what must be done in the given time and I have personally demonstrated that it can be with time to spare. They only start actually picking up the pace once they are past their scheduled time.

    2. Justin*

      I am the one who wrote number two. When I send the people home we tend to get out 30mins later, possibly more depending on the business that day up to an hour and a half. My manager wants me to send them home as a way to save hours. But as you said it makes others resentful. Unfortunately that is all I can do because I can not discipline them any other way. It would have to be my manager to take any further action. But he hasn’t. And expects me keep up this way of handling it. And there are other consequences that are coming out of this such as myself having to get overtime and sometimes others. My manager then pressure me to get them to move faster but they don’t respond positively when I try this either by telling them to pick up the pace or to stop the chit-chat.

  22. NJ anon*

    Re #3 I got yelled at once. In the middle of the tirade, I told the screamer to ‘take the job and shove it!’ I won’t tolerate that for anything. I packed my stuff and walked out. There were witnesses so I figured I would qualify for unemployment if need be. Funny thing is they ended up paying me 2 weeks’ severance even though I quit. Apparently many former employees either sued this guy or filed complaints with the DOL. Not too long after, he got fired. I don’t know what people are thinking when they act this way. As a manager, I would never tell at anyone.

  23. beachlover*

    OP#3 – Would there be any benefit to working for the other attorney, while looking for another Job?
    @NJ Anon, I also had a boss that was no one else wanted or liked working with. She was the Director of Operations, She really needed to work on her people skills. One day, she and I were working together on inventory and She asked me for a report. However, I had my back to her, and I said which report, there were several on the shelf in front of me. She turned around pointed at a report and said loudly and tersely “That one right there!!!!” I looked at her and said in the same tone, ” Well how would I know which report, since I was facing away from you!!!” She and I never had another issue working together. In fact, other people would come to me and ask me to approach her with problems. I became her “defacto” assistant. We also became friends and worked at another company together.

  24. MiddleOfTheMitten*

    OP#3 – Seriously, get yourself a different job and get out of there. Been there done that for about 15 months and the stress has left me with medical & emotional issues that haven’t healed yet (after a year in a much better environment). 51% owner of a small business screamed at everyone in front of other owner, other employees & even customers. I went into that job with great self confidence and skills and now doubt myself, have severe IBS issues and anxiety. It is getting better but disgusted with myself letting it go that far after having 30+ years of education and experience. But as a single parent and sole wage earner, you do what you have to do.

    My only consolation was that it is a very rural, small community and now he cannot get anyone competent to work for him. When I left, the remainder of the office staff gave 2 weeks notice. I gave no notice for the only time in my career – I don’t think mentally that mentally I could have handled one more explosion.

  25. Sharing*

    Just throwing in that I was actually told to work slower by my boss/other employees in a temp job I had. That was special. We were on contract until we finished the job. I was fast and good at my job. My supervisor told me to work slower, and the people next to me grumbled to each other about other people not realizing they were working themselves out of a job. This may have been true, but ugh, what a motivation-suck! It would’ve been a great job if the environment wasn’t so darn oppressive:p”

  26. drifting falling floating weightless*

    I wonder if there is any interesting breakdown data about the yelling / screaming behavior by gender? And additionally age, height, and weight?

    Say what you want, but I’d bet a dollar that at the office, men tend to yell at women a LOT more frequently than women yell at men. And I’ll bet another dollar that when the genders are equivalent (ie, guy yells at guy) that the “yeller” is substantially taller or heavier.

    Or perhaps I’m wrong: simply being “boss” provides the necessary feeling of dominance required to get away with this behavior on anyone. But I wonder.

  27. Observer*

    #2 How do you know they are doing this deliberately to make more money? Unless they told you this of their behavior is egregious (eg they are standing around and talking when they should be cleaning), this is not all that likely. Some people may just work more slowly than others (and this may be specific to specific tasks). And, maybe some of your “slow ” workers are slow because they are actually cleaning properly, unlike the others. Upthread, someone mentioned things like rinsing serving tools rather than washing them.

    The bottom line is that before you jump to push for faster clean-up make sure that your expectations are actually reasonable.

    1. Justin*

      I have talked to these employees and yes they have admitted this is the reason. They will spend their time chatting instead of working as well. Or maybe go over what they already did to waste time. I only have the authority to send them home if they refuse to get their act into shape. As I stated however, the other employees get upset with me that we have to stay later to finish. I have brought up the issue to my manager and he only ever says he will talk to them.

  28. WorkingFromCafeInCA*

    OP #2: When I worked at a restaurant, our manager always came around and told us when to stop taking tables and start doing our end-of-shift duties, usually about 45 min before our shift was supposed to end. That way, in between finishing up serving our last tables, we could concentrate on the cleaning / setting up for the next shift, etc. Usually they had someone from the next shift come in earlier than the rest to help watch/bus those last tables while we were finishing our stuff. We were all inclined to stick around and chat as the next shift came in, and our boss was somewhat OK with that as long as we’d finished our cleanup and clocked out.

  29. Dex*

    #1. I don’t want my manager to ride in my car when he’s sick.

    I wrote in with this question am so impressed with the feedback – thank you! Very intelligent people here! The fact that he denies having a cold/flu makes it slightly harder (he said “cold” on the conference call, but then changed it to “allergies” when I addressed it). I need to change the wording slightly to address the non-refutable: he is coughing and sneezing, which is scientifically exposing me to his “biology”. I cannot prove he’s the reason I got sick, but he is the only person I’m around who’s coughing and sneezing.

    I could try the following:

    “Boss, the last few times we’ve ridden together when you were coughing and sneezing, I ended up getting sick. I really can’t risk getting sick. In the future if you’re coughing and/or sneezing would you mind taking separate cars?”

    Answer A: “Okay, that sounds reasonable.”
    Answer B: “No.” “Okay, maybe I can find some masks to wear to help limit my exposure when we are sharing a confined space while you are coughing and sneezing.”

    1. INTP*

      I think the wording sounds good, but for scenario two, I’d also suggest HE wear a mask that you provide. IMO/E, the driver makes the rules for the car, so it wouldn’t be out of line even if he’s your boss. You could also suggest taking separate cars if he’s willing.

      Also, my sympathies on dealing with this person. If I had a dollar for every time I caught a coworker’s “allergies”…

  30. MM*

    I’m # 3, thanks to everyone who posted a response, I appreciate all of the advice and will take it all to heart. In 33 years in the legal business, I have seen everything you can imagine. Good lawyers, bad lawyers, blown up egos, even lawyers who control what their trial team eats for lunch during trial, attorneys who throw things (sandwiches, office supplies, etc.) at other staff members, or the wall, affairs in the office, etc. I have witnessed so much during the past 33 years, I realize now that I must be one of the “lucky” ones because no attorney has ever disrespected me, personally, before now. I am also thick skinned and historically have been assigned to work for whoever was considered the “difficult” attorney to work for. But not one of them have ever talked to me like that. Whenever I witness bad behavior in an attorney toward a staff member, if asked, I would have said, “get out, get out now. but find another job first.” But it’s easy to give great advice, just difficult to put it into action in my own life. Which is why I needed to know if I was blowing this out of proportion. Litigation is my forte, local and federal, and litigators are known to not be easy to work for or keep up with. But I have and plan to continue working for litigators.
    I also lost all respect for him when he didn’t “own” his bad behavior, or even apologize just “I was in a bad mood, as we all get sometimes.” In my experience, that is not the norm. I teach my kids about ownership is not just tangible things, you have to own up to your behavior.
    Thanks to everyone for responding. Great advice from everyone. I have my resume circulating in the legal community in the City I live and hope to find other employment before the end of July. And, yes, I am going to stay in the legal field because most attorneys have been really great to me, although I’ve seen them destroy other staff members.

  31. HRish Dude*

    #5 – I’m curious how precisely you expected this to go down, even if the statute of limitations were not in play:
    – What if the company is not in business any more?
    – How do you expect someone to remember you if you don’t even remember the name of where you worked?
    – What would happen if your former managers or coworkers were retired or dead?
    – How do you plan on proving your scheduling discrepancies from 30 years ago?
    – Have you researched what the California overtime laws were 30 years ago? In 2015, overtime is generally calculated on a weekly and not a daily basis. Your complaint seems to be based on a job that is generally a 36-hour per week job which would not qualify for overtime for most employers.
    – What happens in the very likely event that no one from 30 years ago still works at said company?
    – If you can’t remember your employers name, you can’t have worked there that long, so are we talking about a few hundred dollars from 30 years ago?

    I’m genuinely curious what you would do if you figured out the employers’ name and what exactly you foresee happening to prove guilt.

    1. Treena*

      I think OP was having a human reaction after realizing they were blatantly taken advantage of. Working 12 hour shifts is sucky and to not get OT is even suckier. CA calculates OT on a daily basis, so he would have been entitled to back-pay (in 2015 at least). Even assuming he made only $5/hr, that’s $30/week and $1560/year of OT. Before inflation. Which means he lost out on $3,400/year he worked for that company. Let’s all be honest and admit that would sting a lot, even realizing it years later.

    2. Laura*

      Almost word for word all this crossed my mind and it started the same way, “How did the person even think this would go down?”
      Did they think that you just call and say I think I worked for you 30 years ago (to an employee who likely wasn’t born then) and they just pull up a database and say yup we’ve had on record that we owe you $203.15. Where can we send a check to? Or continuously call random companies.

  32. The Strand*

    OP #3, if you are still out there, please look up this book, “The Slam and Scream”: http://www.amazon.com/The-Slam-Scream-Strategies-Secretaries/dp/0374524742

    It was published several years ago, but your library and paperback swap sites may also have a copy.

    Saved my life when I was working as an admin assistant during college. The founding partner of a law firm where I was working one summer also screamed at me to the point that it made me cry. On my first day in that office. I hadn’t made a mistake (not that that justifies yelling or screaming). Folks like this, and they exist everywhere, have to be put on notice early and often.

    The author gives extremely solid advice on how to deal with screamers and narrates how she moved on to another field. (She eventually went back to school, became a professor in Washington D.C. – American University, I think.) If you have a screamer, she notes, you take charge by drawing them a glass of water and saying, “Good lord, you’re … you’re so upset. Please calm yourself. Here, have a glass of water.” You refuse to continue enabling their screaming fit even if you have to leave the room. Unfortunately people like your boss use screaming as an act to control and intimidate people, not just because they have “anger management” issues. Noting that it is unprofessional and “unstable” shows them that you know it’s an “act” that you won’t put up with.

    Anyway, it doesn’t matter what other people think. If someone behaving cruelly hurts your feelings, it hurts your feelings, and you don’t have to apologize or feel bad that you were “oversensitive”. In fact, assholes like your boss depend on that kind of reaction from normal people in supporting roles: he probably has given that non-apology to many other people in his life, the kind that reiterates, “You were upset but that’s your problem… not mine.” That someone can get your goat after 33 years doesn’t mean that you’re losing your touch or anything. Keep looking, there are better places to work.

  33. mel*

    I was under the impression that colds take about 2 weeks to incubate before symptoms appear?

  34. Justin*

    I am the writer of the second question. I maybe should of noted that even though I am in a shift managing position that I am not able to discipline other than sending people home. I can not write people up or anything of the sort. I must first consult my manager about these things and he only just “talks” to them. I have told they are expected to have the tasks done in the given time and have demonstrated that is possible by performing the task with time left to spare. The problem I am having is that the employees know it can be done but don’t want to because they feel that they are not going to be punished if they keep going at their slow pace. My manager is only suggesting for me to send them home and do it myself because it saves on hours, but doesn’t fix the behavioral issue of the employees. Not to mention the other employees and myself do not enjoy staying up to two hours later because of this.

  35. Narise*

    I have found that people like this need to be taken down a notch. You need to be cold aloof and uninterested in what he says. Go back to him and say you have decided to work for the other partner. No reason no explanation. From that moment on the other partners needs come first. Start documenting now the way he treats you so you can protect yourself.

  36. Jim*

    I really appreciate the answer, even if it is a bit depressing.
    I was desperate at the time for ANY kind of job, and they took advantage.
    Basically I worked four 12-hours days a week and got a whole 2 hours a week of overtime.

    Oh well, with age comes wisdom.

    Or,maybe it’s just experience. :(

  37. D*

    I worked as a seasonal employee in the Midwest for three years. I worked extra hours took on additional responsibilities with no pay raise, and trained others because of a promise to become a higher up in a certain time frame. When that time came and went a new employee was brought in who sexually harassed and belittled women, nothing was done even though he was reported multiple times, so I found other employment that was not seasonal. The park was only open a few days a week so I technically gave one work weeks notice because I was not going to put up with the situation any longer.
    When I gave my notice to my mentor who had been making me promises for years she lost it. She belittled me and told me what she thought of my loyalty and that I was going to have a horrible life because of this decision. She was someone that I had looked up to and had become close to over the years and she brought me to tears with her behavior.
    The next day I went to HR and reported her, she almost lost her job, and I got a big apology from the HR manager.

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