fired employee wants to attend the holiday party, rejected for going to school full-time, and more

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

1. Fired employee wants to attend the company Christmas party

Our office recently let go of an employee for numerous reasons after several warnings, for minor things such as frequent lateness, too many personal calls and emails on company time, general friction with other coworkers, to more serious things such as a very sharp decline in their work quality, cursing at other coworkers, and admitting to getting high at work. Said employee was laid off instead of fired as a sort of favor, and was given the reason as a lack of work for their position.

The problem is, the employee had previously RSVP’ed for the staff Christmas party, which is a fairly formal gathering. They also requested a hotel reservation, which is generously supplied free of charge for those needing one. They have mentioned it to other workers that they will be attending, and they see no problem with it, as they got the party invitation before being let go.

This employee most definitely burned bridges during their final few weeks of work — using four-letter words towards coworkers and calling us a “venomous” office, and did not finish their final tasks without informing anyone, leading to very late nights for the rest of the department to meet a tight deadline. This former employee is now very disliked, and the department mood is now much more relaxed and relieved now that they are gone. As such, most of this department is now refusing to attend the staff party because of the potential for confrontations, especially considering the open bar.

The person in charge of the party is not aware of any of this, and said the company has a policy to let laid off workers attend the Christmas party. However, this is an industry that lays off many workers in the winter and hires them back in the spring, which does not apply to this former employee. My question is should our department head let someone know about the true reason for this firing and have the invitation rescinded?

Yes. If the party organizer doesn’t have this context, they need it. If she just slacked off in her final weeks, that would be one thing, but it’s reasonable that employees shouldn’t be asked to deal with someone who cursed them out and called them “venomous. Your department head should just let the organizer know that the person burned her bridges on the way out of the door and should be removed from the invite list.

Since it sounds like she’d already received an invitation, someone will need to reach out to her and let her know. I’d frame it as “hey, in light of your final weeks with us, it won’t make sense for you to attend the Christmas party.”

I feel like this is going to be a controversial answer, and I do think there’s a counter argument to be made that disinviting someone is really rude and so you should do nothing and just let the chips fall where they may, but this is business function, not a social one, and she basically gave your business the finger. I’m totally okay with saying “hell, no, this is not a person welcome at our employee social events.”

As a side note, it will be extra important that you’re scrupulously fair in all your other dealings with this person though (not fighting her unemployment since you called it a lay-off, not badmouthing her to other staff members, etc.), so that the party thing doesn’t come across as a personal vendetta, just as a matter-of-fact “no, we don’t have people who trash us at our holiday parties, but of course we’ll still meet all of our professional obligations to you” decision.

2. When to bring up foster parenting with contract job that’s likely to turn permanent

I’m in a long-term contract position that has great potential for turning permanent. I’m working my tail off to show my value to the department and my boss, both in getting backlogged work completed and in creating new systems that will make projects move more quickly and transparently. Four months in, I’m building strong trust relationships with my in-company clients, and getting great feedback.

The issue is that my husband and I are expecting a child, but I’m not pregnant. We are in the final stages of being licensed as foster parents, and are planning to adopt from the foster care system. We will likely be getting our license a couple of months after I’m offered a permanent position here at current job, but we will have little to no control over when we have a child placed in our home; we could be waiting for six months or a year to get “the” call, and then may have an hour’s notice or a few weeks’ notice before the child comes to our home.

My husband will qualify for FMLA when our kid arrives and has some flexibility in his schedule, but we will still have to find an appropriate daycare center or local school, and I will need some schedule flexibility to share the childcare load but also for foster-care responsibilities, like court hearings and planning meetings.

In a past letter, you advised a job-seeker to wait to disclose a pregnancy until she received an offer. Would you say the same here, where I’m already a known commodity, won’t be taking maternity leave and don’t know when the blessed event will occur? Or, do I casually mention that I may need time off to deal with a daycare or school change after I’m hired, the same as any parent would if they had something come up?

I’d handle it like you would if you got pregnant a few months after being made permanent: announce it as good news, and explain what you’ll need and your initial thinking for how you’ll be able to make it work. So in this case, I’d probably give your boss a heads-up once you’re licensed or close to when you’re about to be, explain that there’s some unpredictability in when a child will arrive, and that you’re planning to do XYZ to balance work once that happens.

Also, yay to you for being a foster parent!

3. Interviewer rejected me when I said I’m going to school full-time

Recently I was contacted by the CEO of a new start-up for an exciting job opportunity. But when she asked how much longer school would take (a year), she said that she had full-time employment in mind and didn’t think I would be able to dedicate myself to the position. I’m going to school in a subject directly related to the job and have been working a similar job the past two years for another start-up, so I am a very strong candidate. She did say she’d keep in touch, but my boyfriend said that she was probably trying to be amicable.

Should I not mention that I’m going to school full-time if I get a similar offer? I could go to school part-time instead, though I’d rather not. Should I have said that? I admit, I kind of shut down the last few minutes of the interview and didn’t try to make a case for myself. I just thanked her for her time. I’m wondering if I should contact the CEO and ask to be reconsidered, but I’m not sure if that’s something that’s done.

Yeah, a lot of employers are nervous about people going to school full-time while they’re also working full-time, because they’re concerned that you won’t won’t be able to balance both, and that work will suffer. That’s especially true with high-stress or high-workload jobs, and start-ups tend to be both. When an employer tells you that you can’t do both, you should believe them — it often means that they’ll need you to work long or unpredictable hours, and that they’re not going to be willing to accommodate class or studying schedules.

4. Can I get rehired at the company that put me on a PIP?

I received a performance improvement plan (PIP) while working at my previous position this summer. I was at the company for 5-1/2 years. I made efforts toward having the PIP removed for two months, but ultimately resigned and started a new position. After doing contract work for a period of time, I tried to return to my company. When I called, Human Resources informed me that the PIP was preventing me from being rehired. Is this permanent? I’d like to call my manager and ask her about it but I don’t want to embarrass myself or waste her time.

Yeah, it’s probably permanent. Being on a PIP means that your company had major concerns about your performance, and is often the last step before someone is fired. Employers generally don’t want to open the door to that happening again.

5. What should a transition plan include?

I’m expecting a job offer to come through (yay!) and as soon as the paperwork is signed will give my resignation notice. I’m trying to think of what all I need to do before leaving. They don’t typically handle these sorts of things well here, and my current supervisor is new in her role, so I don’t think there is a good plan in place for handling departures. Admittedly I’m a bit overwhelmed so I’m afraid of forgetting something important, and wondered if you had list of things to do before leaving a job or what should be included in a transition plan?

Yes! Meet with your manager to talk about the status of key projects, offer to train anyone who needs to be trained on key tasks, and leave behind notes on stuff that your replacement will need to tackle soon after starting, contact info for key people (vendors, clients, helpful resources), and any helpful advice you have on anything from a performance issues you’re working on with an employee to what printer gives the fastest turnaround time.

But also, keep in mind that you won’t be able to transfer absolutely everything from your brain to the new person, and that’s okay. (And in fact, if you try, no one will retain it all anyway.) Hit the highlights, and things should be fine.

{ 354 comments… read them below }

        1. LBK*

          The company hires someone to follow the bad employee around singing “Midnight Train to Georgia” until they quit.

          1. Tess McGill*

            You win the Internet today. I just laughed out loud … and snorted. Really tough day today so thank you for that.

      1. Sara M*

        Not to be nitpicky, but Q&A 4 really confused me on two reads. The header is “can I get rehired if I was on a PIP” and your initual answer appears to be “probably yeah.” Which is of course the opposite of your actual answer. It might be a good idea to rephrase slightly? Your call.

          1. Sara M*

            Thanks! I got it after re-reading. That’s the punishment for us skimmers in the hands of an angry god. :)

      2. Nutella Fitzgerald*

        Fun fact: that is my all-time favorite AAM post; I read it after being put on a PIP a year and a half ago and six weeks later my boss was like “oh we can forget about that YOU DA BEST”. Thanks, Alison

          1. Nutella Fitzgerald*

            Oh that was made very clear when I was initially put on it! I still think my performance issues could have been communicated better along the way, but that’s been another lesson from reading this site – dealing with what is rather than how it should be :)

      3. Betty*

        It’s disappointing to hear that there is no hope, but at least I have an idea of which direction to go now. I was doing exactly what the PIP required in order to get back on track, however, my instinct said staying at this job was a dead end. I was burnt out, which is probably why my supervisor arrived at the PIP in the first place; my work wasn’t top notch as it had been in the previous years.

  1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    Honestly, even if the holiday party in #1 were a social situation, it still would seem potentially reasonable to disinvite a guest who has burned bridges with a bunch of the other people invited. I’m imagining if I’d invited, say, a cousin and their spouse to my wedding, then before the wedding the cousin and spouse separated, the spouse cursed out my aunt and uncle and called us a “venomous” family, and caused inconveniences to my grandparents by not following through on commitments. I wouldn’t feel obligated to still host the spouse at the expense of the rest of my extended family having a good time.

    1. Artemesia*

      This. It is one thing if they were just late and didn’t do good work. This person though has insulted others and had friction with others in the workplace; whether this is a social or business event it is appropriate to disinvite them. But for a workplace event absolutely.

    2. neverjaunty*

      Agree, and while AAM didn’t quite make the argument, I really, really don’t buy the line of thinking that ‘disinviting somebody is really rude’. When somebody has behaved very badly to you, especially when they keep doing it, there is nothing at all rude about rescinding an invitation to socialize with them. And in a business context, there is no reason to maintain an invitation with someone with whom there is no longer any possibility of a professional relationship.

      Also, bluntly, this person is a train wreck and I get the sense that OP’s company is too timid or afraid to be direct with her. She admitted to getting high at work. (!!!!). She flipped off and swore at co-workers. There is a fear that she will confront people especially if there is alcohol involved. WHY WOULD YOU WANT THIS PERSON AT YOUR FORMAL HOLIDAY PARTY FOR ANY REASON?

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I would say that in most situations it’s very rude to disinvite someone – you can’t invite someone, and then rescind the invitation because you’re running over budget, or too many people RSVP’d yes and you don’t have enough seats, or another guest is mad at them and doesn’t want them to be there.

        The escape clause is when, between the invitation and the event, you permanently sever social connections (or in this case business ones). It’s a reinforcement of the fact that you want nothing to do with this person, ever, at any point in the future.

        1. Liz in a Library*

          I agree completely that disinviting is appropriate here and that it might be in limited social situations. Academianut is right, though, that it is typically a relationship-ender.

        2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          Absolutely agree. Disinviting someone from an event is effectively disinviting them from your life, whereas not inviting them in the first place has no such meaning in most cases.

        3. BRR*

          Part of inviting a person who is no longer employed is about likeablility but it’s also partially about this being a company event. It’s not open to everybody. So I don’t consider it rude because it’s for employees. You don’t get to keep perks of your former employer when you leave.

          My current employer will have some former employees come to things but they’re retired now, were at the organization for a long time, and did a lot for the organization. It’s not open for every person who was ever employed there.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Yeah, I think this is a little different from a purely social event–it’s like the invitation is based on the assumption that you work there, and if you don’t anymore, then you’re not automatically still in, IMO. You could opt to include an ex-employee if you wanted, but I don’t think you have to.

          2. Artemesia*

            Good point. If I lived in my former town I would get invited to the annual very nice Christmas party at the boss’s house — as a retired former member of the group. It was always nice to see formal colleagues for this event. People who were fired or quit were not invited — people who had retired were.

        4. Felicia*

          Exactly. I was disinvited from a friend’s wedding of all things because (she said) she was over budget and too many people RSVPd. Then she wanted to hang out with me a few months later, and kept trying to talk to me immediately after. Um, no, you don’t get to disinvite me from your wedding for stupid reasons and then still say you’re my friend.

          This situation was totally different both because it’s a work function, and also because this person did some horrible things and they really don’t want to have anything to do with them again, and don’t have to.

          1. Sparky*

            I know someone who went through two other maid of honors before ending up with the one who saw through the wedding. I was one of the laid off mohs. None of us really have anything to do with the bride anymore, and she got divorced under really weird circumstances. The signs or red flags were there that she can’t really get along with anyone very well for very long.

          2. OriginalEmma*

            …what? How does…were her RSVPs tribbles or gremlins that mysteriously multiplied after she mailed them? RSVPs are one of the few things completely within the bride/groom’s control. The “too many RSVPs” is BS. It means you invited too many people in the first place hoping to hedge your bets that some won’t come.

            1. Karowen*

              I’m in the middle of planning my wedding and people do this all the time. One of the forums I frequent has an almost weekly post of “What was your decline rate? Our venue’s capacity is x, we want to invite x+50.” People try to warn them off but it still happens.

              1. Sharon*

                You can never predict it, either. I’ve been married twice. At my first wedding, fewer people showed up than responded “yes” so we had wasted meals. At my second wedding MORE people showed up than responded “yes”. Fortunately at that one we did dinner buffet style so there was enough food. But not enough table settings or chairs. I was SO embarrassed!

                1. Adam V*

                  No reason to be embarrassed – you got X yes’s, more than X people showed up, not your fault for believing what people told you. :)

              2. Artemesia*

                I just did an expensive rehearsal dinner in a venue with a cap. I insisted we not invite more than the max and when we had a few extra spaces, we just invited a handful more people we would have liked to include. It is a bit awkward to do it in two stages — but if anyone was aware, I think they could probably suss out that they were not on the original list because they were local friends rather than out of town friends. We prioritized family and friends of the couple of came a long distance and then added some local friends when there was room and did that round with personal Emails. I figured if we exceeded the cap of the venue, my husband and I would be among those who needed to eat in the bar and as hosts that wasn’t going to work for us.

                1. Dr J*

                  I was invited to a friend’s wedding after the out-of-town family RSVPs had come in. I wasn’t offended one teeny bit. Weddings are expensive, and I know well they can’t invite everyone. I was just really happy to get to celebrate with them in the end!

                2. Al Lo*

                  Most of my mom’s side of the family is across the country, so we knew that most, if not all, of them wouldn’t come to our wedding, but we still invited them in our first round. Our round two list was huge because of that — all the dozens of aunts, uncles, and cousins who we were pretty confident wouldn’t come were in the first invite, but we knew we’d be able to bring in a pretty extensive second list.

            2. Jubilance*

              There are some folks who don’t respect etiquette rules and believe that they can bring whoever they want with them, even though the invitation is only addressed to them. I tried to get around this by including the number of RSVPs on each response card (“We’ve reserved ___ seats for you” which I filled in prior to mailing out the invites). We did have a couple of people add a +1 even when we reserved 1 seat for them, but it worked out due to our decline rate. Otherwise it would have been some uncomfy conversations.

                1. Jazzy Red*

                  You never know, Elizabeth. You could spend a couple of months helping your cousin plan her wedding, then be demoted from Maid of Honor in favor of another cousin. Yeah, I was sick the day of the wedding.

        5. Helka*

          Yes, absolutely this. Revoking an invitation because you messed up in your party planning and, well, this is just the guest who happens to get the axe is really impolite. Revoking an invitation because the situation changed between when the invitation was sent and when the party will be, in a way that is the invitee’s fault, is appropriate.

          “I cannot invite you after all because I did X.” <- Rude in a vast majority of situations.
          "I cannot invite you after all because you did X." <- A difficult conversation but perfectly fine.

          I think "because another guest is mad at them" is very situational. You have petty rivalries, for which you can expect them to just bloody well get along for one evening, but you also have serious rifts, which I would argue are a good reason to disinvite one party or the other.

          1. Kate M*

            I mean I don’t think that’s always true. If an invitee isn’t getting along with another invitee, that may be their fault, but you still don’t disinvite them if invitations have already gone out. Even for serious rifts, you can still expect people to be civil to each other. If they decide to decline, that’s their prerogative. The only exception is if one has made actual threats towards another. You invite people expecting them to be adults, and if they don’t act like adults at the function, you reassess from there (anything from deciding to change your relationship with them, to having them thrown out if they start a fight or something).

            This of course is a different situation, because it’s a business function. But even so, I think one rule still applies – you can only disinvite someone if you are prepared for that to end your relationship with that person. In this business situation, everyone would be fine ending the relationship with the ex-employee. But honestly, if you disinvite someone for any reason (acceptable or not) – be prepared to no longer have a relationship.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yeah, it’s been drilled into me by Miss Manners that if two guests are having a rift, you invite both and leave it up to them to either behave civilly or not come, but that you shouldn’t get involved in the drama of trying to referee it / figuring out who to invite or disinvite.

              1. neverjaunty*

                Which is a good general rule, but also tempered by the corollary that behaving horribly means one may find oneself exiled from polite society.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Yes, definitely. If you punched my mother, I’m going to take sides and not invite you. I think it’s more for situations like “two divorced guests can’t get along; who do I invite?”

              2. fposte*

                I haven’t yet found support for my theory, but I’m betting that Miss Manners has been willing to extend special-circumstances loopholes if the transgression rises to a certain level–I’m thinking crimes, mostly. I don’t see her as insisting that the MOH’s ex has to stay on the list when he got dumped for assaulting her.

                But it would be pretty much at that level. Teary breakup wouldn’t be enough.

                1. Kate M*

                  Of course – threats and physical violence are always the exceptions. If you just found out that a couple split up because one was abusive, you can always disinvite the abusive one. If someone made threats against someone else, you disinvite them. These are always the exceptions in etiquette.

        6. neverjaunty*

          Sure. But I think there’s a difference between noting it’s a big, big deal (and a huge statement about the relationship) to disinvite someone from an event, and seeing it as always rude. That latter – the fear of imposing appropriate social consequences for terrible behavior – is how we get situations where a missing stair keeps getting invited to events despite their conduct. Or for that matter, this letter, where the sole reason not to disinvite Haglina, a horrible ex-explorer, is “but she already RSVP’d”.

          1. Kate M*

            But people keep seeming to miss the exceptions – it’s not rude to disinvite someone if they have been harrassing/violent/making threats towards others. Manners/etiquette has always had these exceptions.

            But really – it shouldn’t get to this point. If you know someone is like that in the first place, you don’t have to disinvite them, because they shouldn’t have been invited in the first place. It should be a very rare occurrence when you find out someone has done something so heinous between the time you have invited them to an event and the event itself.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I actually think everyone here seems to agree on these basic principles (and that the employee in the OP’s letter should be disinvited), which is interesting, and not what I expected!

              1. Kate M*

                Oh right – I was just getting the impression that people were thinking that it’s ok to go against etiquette in these types of situations, when in fact, it’s etiquette itself that makes these exceptions (therefore, you’re not rude or going against conventional manners).

              2. Sara M*

                I was surprised you expected otherwise! This seemed obvious to me and I suspected most people would agree. Of course you can disinvite an abusive ex-employee.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I know, I’ve been trying to think why I was expecting otherwise. I think it’s because sometimes if I take a pretty hard line on something that’s in favor of the employer’s interests and not the employee’s interests, people disagree …. although in retrospect, it does seem pretty obvious this wouldn’t be one of those.

                2. jmkenrick*

                  Me too! In fact, I would imagine that even if she hadn’t been rude, it would be OK to assume that, as she has left the company, she is no longer going to attend the team-building event.

                3. A Non*

                  Are you familiar with the Geek Social Fallacies? The Geek Social Fallacies would imply that RSVPs can’t be rescinded, on the grounds that excluding people is mean, and someone else behaving badly doesn’t entitle you to be mean to them. You don’t generally fall for these, and most of the commentariat doesn’t either, but it’s still a thing that floats around in our society sometimes.

                4. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  @A Non: Yes! And I don’t think I fall for them at all (to the point that I’m usually confused that they’re a thing). But I was weirdly certain people were going to feel strongly opposed on this one. Just a wrong call, I suppose!

                5. Ad Astra*

                  You know, I wonder if there might be more disagreement if the letter had come from the employee who was being disinvited (or debating whether to show up). I think some posters are just particularly empathetic, and that tends to sway them in favor of the letter writer.

                6. Mephyle*

                  In fact this isn’t only in the employer’s interest, but also that of the still-employed employees. Or to put it another way, it’s in the employer’s interest not just in an abstract sense, but in the specific persona of current employees, who don’t want to be put in an uncomfortable position of having to socialize with this person who has berated them or their colleagues.

          2. Myrin*

            Thanks for saying this. This question reminded me of my younger cousin’s confirmation (the religious one) many years ago which happened about a year after my parents broke up. This cousin is my mum’s brother’s daughter, so my whole maternal family would be there – where no one ever really got along with my (not-exactly-horrible-but-not-much-better-either) father anyway. My father did get invited – not least of all because he was actually my cousin’s godfather ugh – but shortly after, my grandfather (mum’s dad) made it clear that he was completely aghast by my father’s treatment of us (which wasn’t violent or abusive or anything, just apathetic-shitty) and my mum was afraid he’d actually confront my father at the event. My uncle went along and rescinded the invitation to my father (who apparently took it quite well and I actually believe he wouldn’t have come anyway but I can’t be sure obvs) and, IDK, I feel like it was the right thing to do. Rude, maybe? I don’t know. But right nonetheless, not only or primarily because of my granddad but because of myself and my family. Had he not been disinvited, the weeks following up to the event as well as the party itself would have been poisoned for at least my immediate family for fear something would happen (to top it off, my father has always been particularly jealous of my mum’s family and didn’t try to hide that even when they were still together), so I’m glad my family took that step, even if it was indeed uncomfortable and didn’t feel “good”, it just felt right.

      2. WorkingMom*

        And to that matter, why would this person still want to attend?! Why on earth would you want to socialize with former coworkers that you called names and treated like that? Based on the former employee’s actions; she clearly did not like or enjoy the company of her peers. So why would she want to attend the holiday party? (Even if were not the company holiday party and more like a happy hour – I’d have the same question. But it makes it even more bizarre that this person would want to attend a company function!)

        1. Kate M*

          I could see them wanting to give a big “F you” to the company. If they’re sour about their being let go (which it certainly seems like they are, if they’re the type to swear at coworkers, etc), then I could see them saying to themselves “well screw them, I’m still going to go and make them pay for my hotel. I’ll drink as much as I can at the open bar, and have a chance to say what I really feel to all these people. It’s not like they can do anything to me anymore. What are they going to do, fire me?”

        2. Poohbear McGriddles*

          Maybe she’s still high.

          One problem I noticed is that she was laid off “as a favor”, and was apparently told it was due to lack of work for her position. So I wonder if she had been told the real reason why she was being let go, but given a cover story for the unemployment office, or if she truly believes she was in fact laid off and that her behavior had nothing to do with it. Since the company regularly allows laid off employees to party on and even book a hotel room, what better way to enjoy the layoff period!

          Of course, from the description of her behavior it’s quite likely she is just exploiting a loophole in company policy to stick it to them one more time.

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            Yep, that occurred to me too. The should have been honest about why she was being let go, she may just be delusional enough to believe it had nothing to do with her behavior, since the letter made it sound like they didn’t address it during the firing.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              Yep. I have a former coworker who quit, but she was -awful- and should have been fired, and nobody would ever want her back here or at any work function. But she probably doesn’t realize how much a persona non grata she is.

            2. Sadsack*

              This part of it is what I wondered about. Whoever contacts her to tell her she isn’t invited has to be prepared to explain why.

              1. Zillah*


                It seems to me that engaging on the subject can’t lead to anything good – it might be a little vindicating on some level to tell the person exactly what you think of her, but I just can’t see it de-escalating the situation, which is what’s most important.

                1. Ultraviolet*

                  I think the idea is that if the ex-employee was told they were being laid off for lack of work, they might be assuming their party invite still stands (since laid-off employees do get to attend the party at this company). In that case, I’d agree it’s a bad idea to get into a discussion about how bad the ex-employee’s behavior was, but I do think it’s worth telling them for the first time that their behavior burned bridges.

        3. Kaz*

          For #1: No one that I can see has suggested this so I will. There is a small chance that the person is remorseful and wants to part on good terms after parting on bad terms so they are trying to leave on a positive note…after leaving on a negative note. Don’t take the risk however, and go ahead and cancel her invitation but do so using a diplomatic tone: “Sorry , we don’t have room for you anymore at the party so we had to cancel your invitation.” That’s it, there’s no need to go into specifics about attitude which can lead to arguments. Simply cancel the invitation.

    3. snuck*

      If there are other staff who are going to refuse to go because this ex-employee will be there… then what message are you sending to the staff you value and wish to retain if you let the ex-employee attend?

      Even if they don’t take it as an “us or him” stance it’s going to cause a personal feeling of distrust and disharmony.

      I’m with everyone else… get someone to ring this guy and say “Sorry mate, but that offer was only available to staff, and those we plan to have back next year. You do understand that our letting you go the way we did was a courtesy, rather than firing you, particularly in light of your cursing at colleagues in your final weeks. Please do not attend or the police will be called. Your hotel booking has been cancelled of course.” And hang up. And call the cops if he does show up.

      1. MK*

        I really don’t think there is any point to go into such detail, especially about their laying off being really a firing; you risk them blowing up at you or starting an argument about everything. A simple “under the circumstances, your participation in the event has been canceled” is all it should take.

        1. Nashira*

          Agreed. This is a case where too much detail can be used by them as an excuse for escalation. The goal is to uninvite them without further escalation.

        2. snuck*

          I was just left thinking that maybe the person didn’t know they were fired, they mightn’t have read the situation properly and think the layoff is a seasonal one, instead of a kind firing.

          And putting a firm “police will be called” shows you are serious. And telling them their hotel booking is cancelled does the same.

          It’s closing doors on this person who obviously thinks those doors are open. It’s harsh, It’s heavy, but it sounds like this person isn’t going to get the message short of this.

          I can see an update where someone rings, the person says “See you there anyway you can’t stop me!”and shows up, has to be escorted, creates a scene at the hotel about their room booking, abuses others etc… I don’t know why I can see this scene, but anyone willing to cuss fellow employees out, admit to showing up to work toasted and not have the insight to realise they burnt bridges behind them on the way out is the sort of person likely to do this sort of stuff.

    4. bkh*

      Hell, I left on good terms at my previous firm and I didn’t get an invite to the Christmas party being held a week after I left – I’d given them 6 weeks notice which covered 3 client cycles and trained my replacement.

      On the other hand, I did get an invite to the Christmas party at my new firm before I even started, and it conflicted. And was held at a much nicer location, the conversation friendlier, and my wife was allowed to attend.
      I think it worked out.

      1. Windchime*

        Someone once told a story here on AAM about having been invited to a big party being thrown by workplace where the writer or the writer’s spouse had been extended an employment offer. They went to the party only to find that the offer had been rescinded, and everyone wondered why they were there. Or something like that. It was a really awkward situation.

      2. Oryx*

        I once left a job on good terms with my manager but HIS manager was pissed and in a group setting revoked my invite to the Christmas party. (Luckily, the new job was having the holiday party three days after my start and my new manager sent me an invite early so I’d have a heads up about it)

      3. Valegro*

        I didn’t get invited to my (very) small company’s Christmas party that occurred TWO DAYS after my last day in the office. I’m kind of glad I didn’t have to suffer through it, but it was pretty obvious that the business owner was trying to punish me for quitting. He didn’t speak to me for the whole 30 days of my notice and told people I was giving him the silent treatment. Between that and unpaid commission I am SO GLAD to be gone.

    5. Stranger than fiction*

      Rigth?! And, why would the spouse/employee even want to attend under those circumstances??

  2. Jane*

    1. I don’t think it’s unfair at all to rescind an invitation (socially or in business) to someone who’s been verbally abusive to multiple people. This person sounds unhinged, and I question her motives for wanting to attend the party in the first place. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an update from the OP that said “Ex-coworker got drunk at the open bar and physically assaulted someone she thought was at fault for her firing.” No one needs that.

    1. MK*

      I think worrying about her motives is valid. If you left a company on such bad terms, even if your think it’s their fault and not yours, why on earth would you want to spent an evening with these people, unless you wanted to make them uncomfortable?

      1. Graciosa*

        Well, I agree that it is fine to rescind this invitation under the circumstances. I don’t agree that repaying rudeness with rudeness is a good practice.

        Polite people remain so under trying circumstances. Politeness simply does not require us to socialize with someone who has behaved as this former employee has.

        It is *not* fine to be rude to anyone – even horribly rude people – but there is nothing rude about politely enforcing boundaries.

        1. F.*

          I totally agree with Graciosa’s comment. As for rudeness in general, I have found that repaying real or perceived rudeness with rudeness just tends to escalate the situation. The world can always use a little more kindness, even while enforcing our boundaries.

          1. fposte*

            And on the pragmatic side, repaying rudeness with rudeness makes people feel like they’ve been right to be rude in the first place. If you’re hoping to make somebody realize they were wrong, return rudeness is a near-certain failure.

        2. Adam V*

          “Rudeness” is a matter of perspective, however. This coworker will probably consider it rude to disinvite her.

        3. Natalie*

          I think that’s what I’m a Little Teapot was trying to convey, by putting rude in sarcasm quotes.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Right. Whether behavior is rude depends on the circumstances. It’s rude to disinvite someone from a wedding because they gained ten pounds. It’s not rude to disinvite them because they grabbed your butt and told you they wanted to have one last fling before you got hitched.

    2. RVA Cat*

      Is the party being held at a hotel? If so, in addition to disinviting her I would say you should alert hotel security so they can eject her from the premises in case she does show up to try to make a scene.

      Also, can I say that an open bar at a work function may not be best idea? I have heard of fistfights breaking out between employees – and these were people making six figures.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Fist fights, people puking, people driving drunk. All sorts of things can happen. A couple companies I’ve worked for do the two-ticket thing. Now of course, people can always find ways to drink more – buy more drinks with cash, get unused tickets from other employees, etc. but at least it makes them think twice and the company did their part to prevent too much ruckus.

        1. Matt F*

          The sales people at an old job got smart with the tickets. They went to OfficeMax and bought a roll of the same raffle-style tickets that were distributed the day of the party at the office.

          Management wasn’t happy that there were nearly triple the number of drink tickets turned into the bar by the end of the night that they had to foot the bill for.

  3. Coco*

    Totally agree that it would be reasonable to disinvite her even in a more forgiving social context. In fact, I think hosts have some obligation to protect well-behaved guests from troublemaking ones

  4. LadyCop*

    I don’t see how #1 can possibly be controversial. In fact, I’m surprised laid off employees can attend at all…even if they are hired back. The sheer nerve of someone to behave that way (and apparently be clueless to their general poor performance anyway) and then assume they get to attend is nuts!

    Not to mention…how they are so self unaware they don’t think it would be awkward personally to attend after they were essentially fired.

    1. Middleman*

      I was going to say the same thing. It seems obvious to me that the former employee would not be welcome and it’s unreasonable for them to have any expectation to attend, and I don’t understand how any reasonable person could disagree with that.

    2. Liz in a Library*

      Yes! Why would you want to spend an evening with people you have such a distaste for and who you know must think very little of you and your behavior? It’s bizarre!

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Because it’s free drinks and food and a night in a hotel, and a way to get back in a petty way (by being an expense) at the organization that wronged you.

          1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            Oh I definitely agree. Just speculating on why the former employee might even WANT to go.

        1. Tamsin*

          Oh yes, the overnight in the hotel — it certainly occurs to me that if the former employee is willing to trash-talk the employer and coworkers to their faces, this former employee is probably willing to literally trash the hotel room on the employer’s dime.

          1. Anon Accountant*

            That’s exactly what I thought. Trash talk the employer and mouth off to the employees, trash and do damage to the hotel room as a last “sticking it to them”.

      2. Sydney Bristow*

        We once had a holiday party about 2 weeks after someone had been fired. Her husband still worked for the company and brought her as his date. She was so mad about being fired. She was ok to be around for most of the party until she won a door prize, grabbed the microphone and started ranting about how awful the company treated her. It was incredibly uncomfortable.

        I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to be there if I were her!

        1. F.*

          We had a current employee bring his son as his “+1” to our holiday party. Junior had been fired for drug use on the job while working for us earlier in the year. Apparently Junior got drunk, made a pass at a client’s wife and got into fisticuffs with the client. Then drunken Senior (the employee) joined in the fight and both were ejected from the venue. And the absolutely amazing thing was that Senior was NOT immediately fired, but was given yet another chance (as he was also a friend of the boss) to screw up. Fortunately for the company, Senior did screw up again fairly quickly and WAS finally fired.

          1. RVA Cat*

            Please tell me somebody got this on YouTube… Sounds like Senior could put Solange Knowles to shame!

        2. Ginger*

          We fired someone a few years ago (in August). She had only worked for about a year and was termed for poor attendance and lackluster job performance. She was pissed about being fired and didn’t hesitate to express it, so I was completely stunned to see her at our holiday party in December as the guest of another employee. They apparently had remained friends (not romantic, just friends). I thought it was pretty inappropriate and although the employee who brought her is still here, I have never really looked at her the same way as I did before. It just came across as a big “F.U.” to the company.

    3. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

      ” I’m surprised laid off employees can attend at all”

      Actually, if they’re genuinely laid off and not fired (or “laid off *coughfiredcough*”) I think it’s a nice gesture by a company who’s just ended someone’s income but really appreciated the work they did and the team member they became. These will be people who will have been part of the team and who will presumably appreciate the chance to catch up with friendly coworkers (and network) and enjoy some beneficence from an employer whom they did at least ok at.

      1. LSCO*

        Yes, and by the sounds of the letter the work is seasonal (summer jobs perhaps?), and most employees will be expecting to be re-hired when the new season starts. I had friends who worked at a kids outdoor centre. The centre was open March – October, everyone was “laid off” at the end of October and then most were re-hired in March ready for the new season. They handled the company-paid Christmas party differently though, by having one in the middle of June, rather than December (complete with decorations, presents, santa hats, cheesy christmas music, you name it!).

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        My husband works in manufacturing with somewhat of a seasonal element; they make the cans that canned vegetables are packed in. So if there is flooding or drought in any area where the crops are grown, the canning operations don’t buy as many cans.

        There are people who get laid off due to low production need, but most of them will be called back when business picks up. The laid off guys are nearly always invited to the holiday party. It can’t be helped that they had to be laid off, but the way they’re treated during that time affects their likelihood of coming back as well as their morale, and that of the guys who didn’t get laid off, when they return. It’s good business, as well as a kindness and a courtesy, too invite them.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          It’s excellent business, because they don’t have to train a bunch of new hires. My ex-employer got on the state’s Shared Work (or Share-to-Work or something like that) program during the recession. When production slowed down, the employees went on partial unemployment. It wasn’t perfect, but they still technically had jobs. Then when it resumed, they came back. For this company, which made custom construction components, it was especially valuable since the work was somewhat skilled.

    4. JGray*

      Just to give a little bit of context for you in regards to “laid off employees” attending a holiday party. My company has seasonal survey field workers who job primarily is outside. Being in Montana that means working primarily from April/May to October/Nov- this is weather dependent so sometimes they can do work in February or December if there isn’t snow or other winter storms. These workers get to go on unemployment when they aren’t working but they are still part of the staff. Sometimes there are things such as equipment maintenance or vehicle maintenance that they take care of in the off season but otherwise they are laid off. I am not sure if this is the case here but if we treat these employees the same as all other full time staff.

      I agree with you on all your other points about the answer to this is not controversial. Don’t let the fired employee attend the party. Show your other employees that you value them by not having a disrupting presence at the party.

      1. Leah (OP #1)*

        Yes, this is very close to what our company does in regards to lay-offs. Basically field workers are used to temporary lay-offs, whereas office workers have work to keep them going all year round in preparation for the busy seasons.

    5. Helka*

      In fact, I’m surprised laid off employees can attend at all…even if they are hired back.

      I think that part makes sense in the context that the OP provided — ie, the vast majority of them are routine seasonal layoffs and they can expect to be hired back in a few months. In other words, even if they’re not technically employed with the business during that time, the relationship still exists and it makes sense for the company to invest in their morale.

      1. eplawyer*

        The problem here is that the company was being nice and “laying off” the employee instead of firing. In addition to the getting even by taking the company for the hotel room and open bar, the employee thinks they are just like every other employee who got laid off.

        Quite frankly, they should have fired for cause. Being high at work is cause. But I bet fear of lawsuits made the bosses squeamish instead of standing strong.

        1. Helka*

          They may have been squeamish. They may have been simply more kind than the situation warranted. We don’t really know — I think it’s a bit questionable to jump immediately to a more uncharitable conclusion.

    6. Jennifer*

      When I got laid off at the end of November after receiving the holiday party invitation, I knew darned well that meant my party invite was rescinded. Duh!

  5. Fosterama*

    Hey y’all, I’m #2 above and would love to hear any comments on my question or Alison’s answer.
    For those with foster experience, my ethnic background makes us a “highly desirable” home, so we could get a placement very quickly after we’re licensed, which should happen around the time my position becomes permanent. My biggest concern the response “couldn’t you put that off for a few months until X is done” because we could – we could delay as long as we want – but we don’t want to.

    1. JessaB*

      The answer to the “put it off” thing is something along the lines of “no, actually we can’t, the agreement to foster means that we have to be willing to take a child in need immediately if one becomes available in the system. These are children who are in distress and need help as fast as possible. The delay is in vetting US to make sure we’re suitable. Once that is done, the first available child/children that fit our agreement (you may have said certain ages, or background similar to your own, or disabled/non disabled,) we need to step up right away to take care of them.”

      You really can’t delay that. If a suitable child is in the system, the next one might not be there for years and you’d feel horrible if there was a child you could help and you said no.

      1. Fosterama*

        Actually, that’s not true. Your state’s programs may be different, but foster parents aren’t obligated to take any kid, or even a kid who meets their age/need criteria, at any time. Even those that do respite or emergency care can plan a vacation or just say “not right now.” I get that you’re not trying to make that point, but it’s an issue that scares off a lot of potential foster parents – the idea that you have to put your life on hold while you’re waiting for a (temporary or permanent) placement.

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I would say the answer to “couldn’t you put that off a few months” should just be, “no, we can’t.” If the boss found out an employee was trying to get pregnant, it would be incredibly inappropriate for them to say, “Can’t you wait to conceive until April? That way you won’t be on maternity leave yet for the November conference next year.”

      In fact, I’d say you have all the more standing to say “no, it can’t wait” because you are there to give a safe and loving home to a child who desperately needs one. I wouldn’t go tell that kid, “sorry, we have to put you in this less-good place because otherwise you’d inconvenience the GMK annual meeting.”

      1. The Other Katie*

        I completely agree. As a former licensed foster parent, the reaction I received when I told my boss about becoming licensed I can imagine was very similar to the reaction of announcing a pregnancy. He was very happy for us, and we just discussed how to make things work on short notice. I did let him know when we were starting the licensing process, so he had more notice before we actually were licensed and available for placements. Since being placed with a child qualifies for FMLA (if you’ve been at an employer long enough) I think most people will just understand that it’s nothing they are allowed to have an opinion or say in, just like medical and reproductive choices.

      2. Ad Astra*

        This is exactly what I was thinking, and this is why it’s good to wait until you have good news to share, rather than alerting your company to your plans. I’m sure some managers might even say (and many more would silently think) “Couldn’t you put that off a while?” if an employee announced they were going to start trying to conceive. It’s the same thing with foster care or adoption. Technically, yes, you can put it off — but your life is happening now. The purpose of the conversation is to explain what you need, not to ask permission.

    3. Little Teapot*

      Hey – as someone who works in social services (admittedly in Australia) I just want to say yay you! We need heaps more foster mums :D

      I’m not too sure how the system works in America but in Australia, kids come with their own schedules ie what school they attend, and what daycare. So it’s not needed for foster parents to run around organizing it, merely dropping the kid off (and in some cases in Australia, the foster agency/child protection does that for you!).

      I have zero knowledge about how foster-to-adopt works in the states; however I am concerned that you indicate that it’s a very quick turn around. Are you essentially planning on adopting whatever child/ren are placed with you ASAP? There’s lots of types of fostering (emergency, short term, long term, permanent) and perhaps it would be nice to open your home to lots of children instead of attempting to adopt the first child/ren that is introduced to you. Also, you may find that the first child/ren you get aren’t going to be adopted anyway.

      I am also wondering about you being a ‘highly desirable’ home for children. As I said I don’t know the USA system so are you able to explain that to me? You said its due to your ethnic background – does that mean for instance USA services decides that say all Italians are highly desirable? What ethnic background are you if you don’t mind me asking? I am curious and wondering what that means! Is it a thinly-veiled way of saying social services is racist? I mean, as long as you pass all the checks and so on, surely it wouldn’t matter WHAT ethic background you are…

      I also think you’re worrying too much :) It might take a long time to get a child, and even then, it could be an emergency placement for only a weekend that has no impact on work. Just plod along, continue to kick ass at work and rock at fostering! :D

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Many foster care agencies in the U.S. try to place children in foster homes of the same race or ethnicity because it can make the transition a bit easier for the child if they’re with a family who share a familiar background.

        However, I think we’re probably getting quite off-topic with some of this, so I’m going to ask that we stick to the question in the OP’s letter. Thank you!

          1. OwnedByTheCat (formerly Anony-Moose*

            I would love to hear more about this on the open thread. Foster parenting has always called to me and it would be great to hear others experiences and insights.

            1. GigglyPuff*

              This. I’d love to hear more about it. For some reason I’ve always seen myself fostering/adopting. I’m still in my twenties just getting started with everything, but would definitely love to know more for future reference.

            2. jmkenrick*

              I agree; it’s always been my plan to adopt from foster care (although I still think I’m several years off!) and I would love to hear about the process.

    4. AnotherFed*

      I think you can head that question off (except for the most hardheaded people) by announcing your licensing as happy news to celebrate. If you frame it similarly to a pregnancy announcement, like “we’re so excited to announce we’ve received our foster care license! We’ll be fostering a child with hopes to adopt in the near future.” and bring a simple treat/baked good to celebrate, people will understand what’s going on and recognize the correct answer is “congratulations” not “can you pick a slow time for that?”

    5. snuck*

      I wouldn’t say anything until you are actually in line to do something. I assume that whoever you are working for hasn’t assumed you do or don’t have kids, that this isn’t their business.

      If you get a licence to foster then you could pull your manager aside and say “I just wanted to let you know we’re foster parents and sometimes this means I have an occasional short notice assignment that means I might need to work with you on a flexible arrangement for a day or two while a new placement settles down – we are actually looking for a long term placement only from here out, so any new placements we get hopefully will be a one off. Is there any concerns you have if this happens?”

      Then you are giving the manager a chance to think it through, know it might happen sometime without notice, and raise any concerns about it before it becomes an issue.

      But I’d wait until you have your licence, and your permanency… wait a few weeks after permanency if you can, otherwise you’ll look disingenius

    6. Artemesia*

      Some things are more important than others and having a child is one of those things. The fact that you are hoping to adopt out of this system makes this go double. You can no more put if off than if you were trying to conceive. If they have the chutzpah to ask this rude question, I would not explain or defend — just say as briefly as possible ‘no that isn’t possible.’ A child’s need and your wish for a child do not wait on the TPS reports.

    7. Bostonian*

      I did a volunteer program where I mentored a foster child for a while, and I would definitely make sure your employer knows and you should negotiate as hard as you think you can for more flexibility when they offer you the permanent job. The family I worked with fostered two of a set of four siblings (there were reasons for wanting to separate the siblings), and I couldn’t believe how complicated their lives were. They were going through the final stages of the birth parents’ parental rights being terminated, but there were biweekly visits for the kids with their birth parents, weekly visits with their siblings, weekly counseling sessions, a special short-term counseling program for victims of sexual abuse, court hearings (the kids didn’t attend, but the foster parents did), weekly outings with me through the mentoring program, routine things like doctors visits, IEP meetings with the school, tutoring, meetings with the social worker/caseworker, etc. And that was before any actual normal stuff like soccer practice or playdates with friends. While in the system anyone supervising the children had to be approved by the social worker and that generally meant someone fingerprinted and official in some way – no drop-off playdates or birthday parties even though the kids were 11 and 12. And most of these things weren’t really able to be scheduled for the foster parents’ convenience, though some were on evenings and weekends, and most were court-ordered and really couldn’t be skipped.

      All of this varies enormously by child depending on age, circumstances, and jurisdiction, and you probably know more through the vetting process how your local agencies operate. But if I were an employer, I would assume that an eligible employee would need a huge amount of flexibility or FMLA or whatever in the first few months especially. Children do not get put into long-term, potentially-permanent foster care because they have had easy lives, and that has long-term repercussions not just emotionally but logistically.

      I don’t mean this to sound discouraging – I think it’s a wonderful and amazing thing you’re doing. I saw my mentee settle down behaviorally, start catching up in school, and start making friends and thriving once she found stability and love in her foster parents home, and that was deeply rewarding on all sides. But I have no idea how their foster parents did it while both of them were employed full-time, and they had late teen/adult biological children still living at home who helped chauffeur.

      1. Fosterama*

        I absolutely understand the warnings (though at this stage, after 60+ hours of training and nearing our final homestudy, the warnings are a bit like telling your pregnant friend childbirth horror stories) and appreciate the advice to push for flexibility. I’m in the lucky position that my husband has huge flexibility in his job, and our state (Washington) has looser rules re: playdates, etc. I’ll try to jump on the Saturday open thread to discuss more.

        1. Kelly White*

          While there are a bunch of things that came up, for us, it was more of the normal kid stuff- parent teacher conferences, etc.
          Not every kid has parental visits. And their social worker can transport them if they do.
          We didn’t need to go to any court hearings, that was all handled by DCFS.
          Please don’t let someone saying that there are all these things you need to do and you can’t possibly do them if you have a job- DCFS will work with you to make sure the kids needs are being met, and that your needs are being met.

          Our daughter was permanently placed with us with 4 days notice, we met her the day before she moved in, and she is the BEST thing that has ever happened to us. Anyone can come up with a million reasons why something won’t work- but, there are a billion reasons why it will.

          Our daughter could attend sleepovers with her friends, she could stay at someones house even if they weren’t fingerprinted. We had a lot of Doctor visits, therapy appointments, etc right at the beginning, but we are all in a nice regular routine now. And she is thriving.

          It sounds like you have a pretty good idea of what you are getting into, you have one parent who already has the flexibility in his job that you may need. You’ll work it out.

          And above all enjoy it!!

        2. Bostonian*

          Re-reading my comment, it came across as too negative – I’m sorry! I really meant it to provide some context for how you think about interacting with your employer about it. And I guess I meant it less for you and more for other commenters whose advice was basically to talk about it as if it would be comparable to the ordinary day-to-day parent stuff that others in the office might be dealing with. It has the potential to be very different at first while everything gets sorted out and settled.

          These things vary hugely, of course – with older kids in the county I worked in (in CA) they made a real effort to keep the kids in touch with their birth families whenever possible, and the family I worked with was going through a particularly fraught time around that. It was a long-term foster placement with the potential for it becoming permanent, but there was still a chance that the birth parents would get their lives together enough to regain custody. Which was a horribly difficult position to put the foster parents in, but reunification whenever possible is seen in that county as the best thing for children, especially older kids. And the county I worked in was sprawling and under-resourced. Maybe social workers could have helped with transportation but the family didn’t request it because they had the resources to handle it themselves, though given the social worker’s case load and the geography of the county it’s hard to imagine how that would have worked.

          There are different categories of foster care, too, as you probably know better than I do. There may have been some difference between long-term non-necessarily-permanent and long-term intended-to-be-permanent placements that I can’t remember, though the foster parents did become permanent legal guardians eventually. Once they became permanent legal guardians a lot of the rules loosened up and the counseling, tutoring, etc. were more at the discretion and schedule of the foster parents and not dictated by the system.

          1. snuck*

            I didn’t feel it was too negative, I felt it was realistic.

            I was a respite foster carer at one point – looking after other people’s foster kids while they went away overseas or whatever… even these kids, in settled homes, settled places, where they’ve been for quite a while had a lot of what you mentioned still going on. Weekly psychologist appointments, phone calls and process stop points for simple medical matters, having to deal with the school on things because of process requirements etc. This was with IEP meetings etc pushed out of the respite time – because the long term foster carers would organise and do that before they went.

            And then (I’m sure the OP is aware of this, but for others reading) there’s the joys of boundary testing and honeymoon periods and so on that happen when all children (not just foster kids!) go through major life upheavals. That stuff took me far FAR more effort and time to battle through than all the rest combined. Sometimes I had a teen who could get themselves home from school, but then I had to be home from work at a reasonable hour (which I could do due to the flexibility of my working arrangements) otherwise all sorts of teen mischief was happening. Or younger children would be transported to an after school care facility, but I’d have to pick them up at a firm time from the child care, which meant changing my schedule too, and all these had extra school telephone calls etc. Some of the younger ones would exhibit anxiety as physical symptoms etc.

    8. Kassy*

      I work for Social Services in Missouri. We appreciate you and other FPs for all that you do!

      I don’t know how family-friendly your workplace is, but there shouldn’t be much difference between having a baby and adopting one in terms of how accommodating they will be. Most people really don’t want to be the person saying “yes, but do you have to help abused/neglected children right NOW?” And if they are, they probably aren’t treating their employees with biological children very well either, and you likely would have seen signs of that.

      And we absolutely do need foster families of different ethnicities than “Caucasian.”

    9. AnotherHRPro*

      Any reasonable employer would not question the timing. People with any interaction with adoption and foster programs knows that this isn’t something you schedule. Companies are used to dealing with situations where employees need to be off unexpectedly without notice. OP, don’t worry about this. Once you are approved, you are giving your employer notice so it should be fine.

      I hope you get the full time position and good luck with the foster/adoption process.

    10. Stephivist*

      Hi! I’ve been in your situation and here is what we did: First, I told my employer when we finished all of our paperwork and training classes. Well, just before we finished and our home was officially “open.” Then I made it perfectly clear that we were in a foster-to-adopt situation and I planned to take [x] amount of time off on short notice. Since we were fostering to adopt and not just an open foster home, we didn’t have to worry about any kids showing up right when the house opened – there was more work to do afterwards.

      When our son was finally placed with us, we had a decent idea of when it would happen (say, in the next few weeks), but our actual warning time was 15 minutes. Not even joking. Since my boss was well aware of the situation, he was prepared for the short notice and everything went smoothly. My coworkers were ready to pick up my slack and treated it more like a short maternity leave.

      Most importantly, you need to treat your situation like any other parent taking time off to be with a child and other people will treat it the same. We have a biological child and an adopted child who came to us through the foster care system, the way people reacted to the “getting ready” period for each was dramatically different.

      1. Liz*

        This is what we did, though I’d been in my job a year. I kept my supervisor informed of where we were in the timeline, and when we got approved, letting him know I’d be needing a little flexibility. I got nothing but wholehearted encouragement, not just from my supervisor but also my manager and random people in the building! I think a lot depends on your attitude. If you show you’ve thought everything through and have contingency plans, people are a lot more accommodating.

        When I got the first call I asked for a few minutes, spoke to my spouse, then spoke to my supervisor just to let him know, and then called them back. That baby was brought round within 2 hours! I had a couple of days to prepare for the second child, and three weeks for the baby we adopted.

        OP2, I agree with Alison’s advice. I’d add this: scout out daycares that accept drop-ins, make sure they’re approved for foster children, and get yourself on the lists now! We just had one, and that worked out because I knew they always had a space, but you might want to have a couple of backup options too. And if you haven’t already, stock up on children’s clothes from the thrift stores, making sure to have at least a couple of outfits (day and night) in each size you’ll take, because they may not have anything suitable. We did get clothing vouchers (eventually) but the process is sometimes slow…

    11. Kelly White*

      I did keep my boss in the loop about our plans – (told him: we are licensed, could happen anytime now), but not so much every call we got that we were being considered for a particular kid.
      We were pre-adoptive, so I know foster can be different (my husband is actually the guy that places foster kids with foster parents) and it can happen pretty quickly.

      In your case- I would wait until you are licensed- then present it as a done deal, “great news, we are licensed! we could get a placement anytime!”

      Then maybe sit down with your boss, and go into more detail about your work plans, and any concerns he might have.

  6. PNW Dan*

    #3 (For context, I am a college professor.) Working full-time and going to school full-time are fairly incompatible from the education side of things as well. You are generally expected to be spending 2 to 3 hours every week outside of class for every hour a week that you are in class. If you are in class 12 hours a week (for most schools this is the minimum load to be considered full time), that is 24 to 36 hours of studying/working on assignments/etc. outside of class time. This is why the term is “full time.” You are literally expected to be working on your education full time, like an employer would expect you to work if you were hired as a full time employee.

    You are doing yourself a disservice if you are employed full time on top of being a full time student. By being employed full time, you are seriously hindering your education, and working against yourself. You will have a better educational experience–and learn more–if you are not also trying to take on a full load of employment at the same time. (Really, for many of the same reasons that Alison mentions in her response.)

    I understand that you need to make difficult choices about what to do and how to proceed, and there are many factors that must be weighed. However, trying to tough it out for a year is not an effective or prudent choice in the long run.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I definitely agree – you’re basically telling your employer that you would have a second full time job, and, given that you don’t want to fail and waste all that tuition, it’s a job you’re likely to prioritize over the one they’re hiring you for. There’s only so much you can do, and doing well at your studies takes a lot of mental effort.

      At best, would be an 80 hour work week, split between two locations, for a whole year. But a final year of a challenging program can be a lot more than that – I was putting in 70 hour weeks at some points in my final year of undergrad, and living off cold cereal, chocolate bars from the vending machine, and fries and gravy at the cafeteria because I didn’t have time to cook or shop, and it took most of the summer before grad school to recover. And I wouldn’t expect working at an ambitious startup to be a 40 hour a week job, either. An 80 hour work week can be sort of manageable for a while, but you’ll burn out eventually. A 100 or 120 hour work week won’t be physically possible.

    2. Rubyrose*

      Another agree. When I was finishing my degree I was in class with a nunber of full time students with full time jobs. These folks never, never, did their share of the work on group projects. What they did do was typically late and had to be reworked. Left a very bad taste in my mouth. I would not knowingly hire someone planning this.

      1. KR*

        I know this is your personal experience, but spoken from someone who worked full time while in school, I was often the one who was picking up the slack from my classmates! It is possible, but I will admit that I basically had no time to myself outside of school and work.

      2. I'm a Little Teapot*

        Or they cheat – sometimes dragging unwitting third parties into it. In grad school I was assigned to a group project with two people who plagiarized large sections of our group paper from the Internet; I very fortunately realized these sections were much better written than their usual work, Googled the relevant passages, and found they’d been lifted from elsewhere without attribution. (I fumed for a while, suppressed my urge to call them in a rage and email the evidence to the professor, and instead demanded via email that they rewrite and atrribute all the copied passages.) If I hadn’t happened to notice this and get suspicious, and they’d been caught, I would have been considered just as guilty, with pretty nasty consequences.

        I’m also pretty sure some of the undergrads I knew who barely studied, whether because of full-time work or because they just partied too much, were fabricating stuff for their papers instead of researching.

        When you spend far less time on tasks than you’re supposed to, you often cut corners, and a lot of the time that corner is honesty.

    3. BRR*

      For three semesters I took one class while working full time and it was hard. I can’t imagine it working out well taking a full course load not to mention scheduling it around a full time job.

    4. Blurgle*

      I find this disingenuous and privileged. Most people work full-time during university: the rent, sadly, won’t pay itself.

      1. Colette*

        I really doubt most people work full time while also going to school some time. Some do, certainly, but many others work part time or go to school part time.

        And PNW Dan pointed out that trying to do both is unlikely to be as effective as choosing one. That’s not privilege, it’s fact. There are 168 hours in a week. If you spend 40 on work and 40 on school, you’re down to 88. 56 of those are sleeping (assuming 8 hours a night). That leaves 32 hours for travel between work/school/home, grocery shopping, downtime, eating, laundry, etc. That’s not sustainable for a year or more – at least not for most people. Either you stop eating/sleeping or you start skipping school work or you get fired.

        1. INTP*

          Yup – plus both school and start up jobs tend to have irregular, often unpredictable workloads. If your employer lands a new account and expects you to work 80 hours the week you have three term papers due, what happens? It’s physically impossible to do it all properly.

        2. KR*

          Sometimes, even if it isn’t sustainable, it’s necessary. I had to do it for three years. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do and I couldn’t have any downtime towards the end but I had no choice if I wanted a college education.

          1. madge*

            Same here. It’s great that there are people who don’t have to use this option but for some of us (no college fund from parents due to higher importance placed on religion, and parents with incomes high enough to get one laughed out of the financial aid office), the choices are “tough it out” or “no college”. It was extremely difficult and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone but it is necessary for some people.

        3. Ezri*

          Both perspectives have valid points, privileged or not. I spent a year and a half in college working two jobs (about 30 hours total) while taking 14 credit hour courseloads, and I did what Colette mentioned – I slept an average of 4 to 6 hours a night, and started skipping less important classes when I couldn’t stay awake. But for that time period there wasn’t another option financially. I still graduated and had high performance at work.

          I guess what I’m trying to say is: yeah, it’s not healthy or sustainable for everyone as a long-term plan, but some people work those kinds of schedules for years.

        4. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s definitely not the majority of students! According to this, the portion of full-time students who work more than 35 hours a week is less than 8%.

          I think the larger point is that of course some people do it if they have to, but in general it’s a thing to try to avoid if you can, and it’s reasonable that an employer wouldn’t want to take that on (especially a start-up, where you’re probably not going to be working a predictable 40 hours a week).

          1. AnotherHRPro*

            The type of job and type of educational program need to be taken into consideration. If both work and school have flexibility and/or standard hours it may be doable. But if one or both have unusual schedules, limited flexibility and are very demanding, it would reduce that chances of being fully successful at both.

            1. Anx*


              In undergrad I worked a ‘part-time’ job, but it bled into my social life. There were times I could do HW while at work, and times I would be working nearly full-time hours. Then there was the second part-time job, which was really flexible and where I could do a lot of HW, too. But I’d also start hanging out at that office when I could have gone home, but I didn’t feel like I was goofing off or being social–productive procrastination I guess.

              That was an academic disaster, but not being I was too busy. Rather, I was busy because I couldn’t handle the drudgery of intro courses.

              A few years later, I was working part-time and going to school full-time. I absolutely could have worked full-time and gone to school for 12 credits. I took 21 credits working part-time at a job that required me to spend some time outside of work to stay ‘current.’ In other words, study. And earned good grades and retained a lot of the info. Working part-time meant not having a lot of money. Working full-time would have allowed me to purchase my textbooks, probably allowed me to buy a parking pass, allowing more library time and shorter commutes, probably would have let me buy foods that weren’t made from scratch, etc.

              I couldn’t have worked 50 hours a week and gone to school for 21 credits. I probably couldn’t have even done 15 credits with those hours. But 37 hours of work (with no increase in take-home work) and just 12 credits? That would have been fine, so long as my work schedule was flexible enough.

            2. Joline*

              I was only able to combine work and school because my work allowed overlap. Including homework I was doing 50-60 hours a week school and then worked 24 hours a week. But I worked the late shift as a cashier at a big arcade (6pm-2am Friday and Saturday, 2pm-10pm on Sunday) and when it was quiet I was allowed to study as long as I put it down when customers came in. Fridays and Saturdays most people were already in by 10pm so I’d usually have four hours of mostly uninterrupted study time. Without that overlap it wouldn’t have been feasible for me. I was lucky.

          2. Ad Astra*

            Yes, and I suspect that most of the full-time students who do work 35+ hours per week are doing so at retail or food service types of jobs, where it’s typical to work nights and weekends, often with a varying schedule. Very, very few people can go to school full-time while working a white-collar, career-track job where the expectation is to be in the office 8-5, M-F.

            1. doreen*

              It’s not just the schedule, either. I worked full-time while attending school full time (12 credits) for a couple of years. Some of it was at food service jobs, but some of it was a back office job at a bank. But what the jobs had in common was that you worked your shift and the work was done. There wasn’t any thinking about the job when you weren’t there, and there wasn’t any work left over that had to be finished tomorrow. When I graduated, I got a full-time, white collar career track job. I could barely manage 6 credits of night classes. It was very different having a job with deadlines, that required me to manage time in a way the other jobs hadn’t and that I couldn’t always turn off when I left the office.

        5. Liz in a Library*

          I think where the privilege comes in is the assumption that students who do work full-time while in school are doing so by choice. Telling them that they are doing themselves a disservice by working is kind of a slap in the face if there is no alternative except dropping school altogether…

          I also doubt most students work at all, let alone full-time, while in school, if we are looking at traditional college students. There are populations where most students work full-time, though. The second university I worked for was like this…by far, most students worked at least near full-time, were older adults, and many times were supporting families. I don’t think this experience is the same everywhere, but there are individual students like that everywhere.

          1. Ad Astra*

            You know, I graduated from a typical large state university about 5 years ago and almost everyone I knew had at least one part-time job in college, and most held down some sort of job for the whole time they were in school. I did know a handful of students from wealthier families who didn’t work at all, but it seemed unusual, almost indulgent. Not sure if the statistics match my perception, though.

      2. Tamsin*

        Okay, I worked full time when going to college. But that also meant not attending a huge number of classes and calculating how many outright 0.0s I could receive in a course and still pass, assuming I got 4.0s on everything else. I am grateful to not have student loans, but I’d be lying if I said I’m not bitter about basically not having had the education I paid for.

        1. blackcat*

          I think your experience is quite common among folks who go to school “full time” while working full time. Something’s got to give, and it’s often school. The students in this situation struggle to learn and keep up. Do some people need to do it? Yep, partially because financial aid rules around part time status can suck. But should it be recommended? Nope.

        2. Oh anon*

          I worked 28-32 hrs/week while in school full-time. It was hard. I ended up dropping down to half-time (2 classes instead of 4), mostly because I just couldn’t afford to pay rent & tuition, even with loans. I too am bitter about not getting exaclty what I wanted out of my education. My job required I worked between 8:30 and 5, which meant mid-morning classes were out of the question and often those were the most interesting courses available. I also was screwed out of being able to do internships or summer field work; I had rent to pay and a job that wouldn’t even let me take 2 weeks off during winter break, when we were basically kicked out of the dorms, instead, making me commute 2.5 hrs, each way, a day, in order to keep my job. Never was so happy to put my notice in somewhere!

        3. Bwmn*

          In my undergrad experience, I didn’t know anyone who did both (likely because doing both would have made much socializing outside of class a serious challenge) – but during graduate school I knew a few people who did both and had serious professional positions.

          Without exception, those were people who knew/believed that they truly needed a master’s degree for professional advancement. That being said, they also truly saw school as a means to an end and put in the work they needed to graduate – but not a lot more. If you were assigned to be with them on a group project, they were the first to divide the paper/project into distinct chunks so that you’d need to meet very infrequently and offer for tasks they could do on their own time.

          One former classmate in particular, after school we became close and I really respect what he chose to do for his career – but while for me the degree was a full educational experience, for him it was about getting a piece of paper. With graduate degrees and certain careers – I think people are a lot more understanding about this attitude. But I think in those situations as an employer, I’d be wary about a student truly evaluating the demands.

        4. Ad Astra*

          Honestly, I don’t think I could have avoided student loans even if I had worked full-time in college, based on what my jobs paid and how much my living expenses were. Thanks for sharing this. You’ve pulled off quite a feat.

      3. MK*

        I highly doubt that most people work full-time while attending university also full-time; the people I went to law school with that also had full-time jobs (and these were intellectually-non-demanding jobs with very either set or flexible hours) did the bare minimum of study. Many people work part-time (and maybe full-time in the summers) during unversity, others work full-time, but earn their degrees in six years instead of four, some might do the “full-time job, full-time studying” for a given period of time (maybe for one semester), when their finances or their studies demand it, but four years straight of full-time work and full-time studies? The occasional superman/woman may manage it, but not the average person.

        1. Sunshine*

          Yep. This is exactly why I never got a degree. Full class load plus 2-3 part time jobs – I did it for two years but couldn’t sustain beyond that. And couldn’t cut back to PT classes without losing financial aid. I dropped out and still had a metric shit ton of loans to pay back.

          Our educational system may be flawed. But that’s a topic for another day.

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          Yep, in my experience, it’s why so many students opt for part-time tipped jobs like waitressing or bartending, because you can earn a halfway decent income and not work many hours. I admire anyone that has the energy and tenacity to do it, though. I only know one person that worked full-time and went to school full-time for two years, and they said they had no life during that time, slept only 4-hours a night, and would never do it again. But the key here is what others have said – this company probably knew the job would require more than 40 hours a week and thought the Op would not be available for all the extra hours.

      4. Oh no not again*

        Agreed, Blurgle. I full timed in college, plus worked a full time job–I didn’t have a choice. I did well in school because I busted my butt. I averaged about 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night seven days a week. Not fun, but necessary. Lots of others had and have to do the same. I would have loved to be able to not work while in school, it would have been more relaxing. But that’s life.

        1. KR*

          Exactly, it isn’t fun but it’s necessary. I worked probably 30 hours a week at a grocery store (the only reason I had time to do any food shopping) and 10 hours a week IT a week in addition to going to school full time. I didn’t have much time for hobbies or socializing and probably pulled two or three all-night study sessions a week. It sucked and I’m happy to just be working now, but sometimes that’s just what you have to do if you want to graduate and I wanted to graduate very badly.

        2. Koko*

          Averaging 4-5 hours of sleep a night is more than just not fun, it’s not healthy. Your immune system is quite literally fueled by sleep and chronic sleep deprivation leads not only to diminished mental acuity and corresponding underperformance, but usually chronic health conditions or repeatedly coming down with communicable illnesses.

          While I get that some people might be forced into this by circumstance (and some people work 80 hour weeks and barely sleep just at one job!), there’s a reason that 80-hour workweeks are not common and it’s not purely because people prefer to have fun and relax. It didn’t really sound in OP’s letter like she was in quite that desperate of a position that it’d be worth compromising her education or her health to put herself through that.

        3. Liz in a Library*

          Same. I worked full-time (or more) most of the time I was in college and grad school. It sucked, but I was successful at both. The trade off was giving up pretty much everything that wasn’t work or school. It’s frustrating to hear that I must not have learned as much as students who didn’t work… That was not my experience; we all have different experiences in life.

          1. MK*

            I don’t think anyone is saying that. Of course a lot depends on factors like how demanding the job and\or the course is, but mainly on the person, how quickly they work, their physical and psychological endurance, general health, other commitments, etc. I believe most commented reacted to the “most people do it” assertion.

      5. Rubyrose*

        It took me 23 years to get my degree. Many of those years I took no classes, because the demands of my job did not allow me to. Serious illness also intervened. I came out with student loans. I received no help from my family (they did not believe in education), and since the financial aid folks thought my folks had the money to kick in, there were no grants for me.

        I wish I had been born to better circumstances and gotten better breaks in life, but that was not in my cards. I had to learn pretty early that even with my 3.9 GPA in high school not everyone has the luxury of getting their degree in four years. Depressing, yes. But the bottom line is that today I do think it takes longer to get a degree, precisely because the rent does not pay itself. It is just a reality.

      6. Chocolate lover*

        I work with college students, and none of my current students work full time while taking classes full time. I have certainly met people who do, but it’s definitely not the norm at my school.

      7. LBK*

        I think “most” is a very extreme stretch. There are certainly people who do, but I think a lot of them struggle with it and one or both suffer, which is the exact point PNW Dan’s making. There’s a much bigger group of people who work part-time while in school, but that’s inherently less stressful and it’s usually at lower intensity jobs – retail, food service, internships or other roles that don’t require your full attention and energy the way a full-time office job would.

        I did 20 hours of class, 20 hours of part-time work and a 20 hour internship every week during my last semester of college and that alone was exhausting. I can’t imagine another 20 hours worth of work on top of that with no consequences.

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          I agree. I would probably say most people work during school because in my experience almost everyone worked at least a little bit (even one four-hour shift per week somewhere), but most people do not work full time and go to school full time as well.

      8. fposte*

        The stats don’t bear this claim out, though. At least in the US, 8% of students are identified as working 35 hours or over during full-time college. (The numbers for part-time are closer to 50%.) I couldn’t find numbers specific to Canada, but I think it’s unlikely that there’s a huge difference in the full-time/full-time numbers there. (I’m looking at a 2010 piece on AAUP on the working college student–I’ll post the link in follow up.)

          1. neverjaunty*

            Take a look at those part-time numbers, though; there are significant percentages of students who may not be full-time, but are well beyond “I work a couple of nights at the bookstore for spending money”.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Right, but I think fposte was responding to Blurgle’s comment that most people work full-time during school. (So was I when I posted the same article too!)

              1. neverjaunty*

                Right, but I think that may be part of the reason for the original comment – if your fellow students all seem to put a lot of hours into jobs, you might think most of them work full-time even if technically they’re part-time. But 20 hours a week is still a lot to juggle with a full-time school schedule.

      9. Artemesia*

        It doesn’t make it a good idea. If you have to work full time to support yourself and want an actual education than you do a part time program. And frankly, that is hard enough. It is impossible to work full time and do justice to a full time program of any quality. You might be able to punch the ticket and satisfice, but that is seriously short changing the education.

        1. OriginalYup*

          I finished my undergrad and got a masters while working full time. I did both through accelerated full-time programs specifically for working students, and the quality (of the programs and my work) was fine. My grades were great, my learning was thorough, and my knowledge & skills are on par with people in my field who didn’t work while attending school. Was it difficult? Yes. Do I wish I’d done it differently? No.

          I’m seeing a lot of sweeping generalizations in this discussion. It’s not a one-size-fits-all scenario.

          1. MK*

            I would say that “programms specifically for working students” is a different scenario altogether than the average working student whose courses are structured with the assumption they have no other obligations.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Oh, I think you can do okay. I managed to graduate cum laude with a BS in English and an AS in Crim and made the Dean’s List twice while going to school part-time and working full-time.

          1. neverjaunty*

            ….but that’s exactly what Artemisia said, that if you’re working full-time, you should do a part-time educational program.

      10. Not me*

        Framing full-time studying as necessary and full-time work as an optional difficulty was interesting. One of those things pays the bills, and one of them’s the source of bills.

        I agree that it’s important to find a balance and that trying to do both full-time can leave you spread too thin, of course.

      11. Lily in NYC*

        Georgetown Univ. released a study about this a few weeks ago. It said that 70% of college students work at some point during their 4-years. The percentage of students who work full-time and attend school full-time is 25%. But students are working more than they used to – the study said that the average for students who work is 30 hours. Which is much higher than I expected.

        1. Anx*

          That’s interesting, because I’d assumed that’s about what most students must have worked. Either two spartan part-time jobs, one not-quite full-time job, or a part-time job with a side gig or regular unpaid work.

          1. Ad Astra*

            In college, I was an editor at the student newspaper and we all put in probably 25-35 hours a week. Most of my other working friends were somewhere closer to 10-20 hours a week, and I was always jealous of the ones who could study at work. And then everyone has that one friend who works like 40 hours a week, usually at a bar or a restaurant (and more than a few of those friends end up tending bar after college because it pays better than a lot of entry-level work).

    5. Brandy*

      Agree. I worked full time and went to grad school (aggressively) part time. I was in a solid 8-4 job where i never had to stay late or take work home.

      My husband went to school full time and worked part time for the first year (he was able to stay on but go part time a his old job). He worked as an engineer and put in about 20 hours (2 LONG days)/week. He had class the other 3 days/week and spent 9-6 at school (3-4 hours of class, 4-5 hours in the library). He also spent at least one weekend day on school. This lasted one school year and then he quit to take a paid summer internship. He carried that through November then Dec-May graduation he just did school FT.

      We both did MBAs. Both were a slog but we have both reaped the benefits of both working while in school (fewer loans and in my case springboard to awesome career).

    6. F.*

      I earned a B.S. in Math with honors in four years while working full time and supporting myself. This was back in the late ’70s/early 80’s before personal computers and the internet, so I had to physically attend classes. The key to this was having an employer who was willing to work around my university schedule. Since I was a bookkeeper at the time, I could work from 6 a.m. to 8:30, go to classes, work more in the afternoon, go to a late class, then on some days come back to work until as late a 9 p.m.. As long as the work got done, they were happy. I studied and did homework whenever I could. I slept when I could. They other key thing was that I lived off campus and was not caught up in the drinking and social life that many other students participated in.

      My father earned his B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering in the ’60s while working full-time and supporting a family. He and I both went to a state university that worked closely with the aerospace industry. He worked nights until he got his degrees. It can be done, but is very difficult and requires a great deal of dedication and perseverance.

      Now that I am involved in hiring decisions, I can certainly understand why an employer would be leery of hiring a full-time student. The nature of most jobs requires attendance at the job during specific hours. We are not able to hire most students for this reason. Our front-line employees are required to be available 24/7/365 (and know this going in) because our clients may be working at any time.

      1. KR*

        Here with the flexible working hours too – my boss was incredibly understanding while I was in school and still is, basically letting me work whatever hours I want as long as I’m here most of the time during working hours (8-4:30) and put in my required time every week.

      2. OriginalEmma*

        Back then, full-time also meant 7.5 – 8 hours on-site (7 hours with a one paid half-hour to hour lunch) vs. today’s “8 hour workday” that’s actually 8.5 to 9 hours on-site because it’s 8 hours plus one unpaid half hour to hour lunch break. It’s 2.5 to 5 additional hours spent on the jobsite.

        1. F.*

          I’m not sure where you worked “back then”, but I was expected to put in 40 hours a week. My father put in 8 hour days (nights). That’s not including the unpaid lunch break, by the way, for either of us.

      3. Spice for this*

        I worked a part time retail job (worked nights and weekends) while going to school full time (B.S. in Business). This was in the ’80s and I had to attend all my classes. It was challenging at times to get all my assignments / reading / projects completed.
        I missed out on a bunch of family/friends events that took place on the weekends.

      4. Ad Astra*

        Don’t you think the other key to this success might be that you happen to be exceptional? Many of the extremely intelligent people I know got by with crazy schedules because they could do the necessary reading/homework in far less time than most students, and they rarely needed to review for tests and quizzes. I don’t know anyone who actually put in the “recommended” 15-30 study hours outside of class AND worked a significant amount. The numbers don’t add up there.

        1. I'm a Little Teapot*

          +all the yeses. Also, people who successfully manage this are usually in excellent physical and mental health (at least when they start!), don’t have any learning or other disabilities, and need abnormally little sleep…speaking of privilege.

          The “I worked 90 hours a week while going to school full-time, anyone else can too, you lazy bum” (yes, I knew someone who claimed to have done that) line of argument gets ugly fast. People’s lives, bodies, minds, jobs, and academic programs differ, and there’s no prize for busiest/most sleep-deprived/most self-denying.

        2. F.*

          Yes, my situation was exceptional. Yes, I am very intelligent. I was on full academic scholarships and was required to maintain a certain GPA while carrying at least 12 credit hours per semester. Shortly after my 18th birthday, in the first semester of my freshman year, after years of emotional abuse, I was thrown out of my parents’ home because my father did not like that my part-time job (inventory taker, which allowed me to go to school) got me home after he had gone to bed at night. I had this job because I was cut off from all but a roof over my head and food upon high school graduation. So I moved out and became fully self-supporting. For the first year or so, I pieced together three part-time jobs which totaled over 40 hours some weeks. Then I became a bookkeeper at the company I mentioned above. I needed a full-time job for both the above-minimum wage and the health insurance. I continued to work there until about six months after graduation.

          As I stated above, I was able to do this with great sacrifice of my social life, sleep, and to a certain extent, my health. But like some others in these comments, I did it because I had no other choice. I sometimes spent all night typing term papers on my little portable manual typewriter. I spent hours upon hours struggling through complicated mathematical proofs. I took a course each summer (on my own dime) while others went on the vacations I couldn’t afford. I never participated in spring break; I was working. For two of the years, I lived in a dank converted garage apartment (it was quiet). It was grueling. I do not recommend this to anyone. However, to say this is not possible is a slap in the face to those of us who did do it. And if someone does need to do this, then I do not think it is my place to tell them it can’t (or even shouldn’t) be done. By the way, does anyone still think I was “privileged”?

          1. Rana*

            Compared to the people who are able to choose between full-time work and full-time education, no.

            But compared to the people attempting to do what you did while also caring for dependent family members, or while struggling with a disability, no.

            In any case, trying to do both is hard, and something’s going to have to be sacrificed in order to pull it off. I can completely understand an employer (or professor) who expects their employees to bring full energy and alertness to the job might have reservations about someone trying to attempt it.

              1. F.*

                I was simply trying to illustrate the set of circumstances that forced me to work full-time while going to the university full-time. I didn’t realize this was a contest. /sarc

    7. Zillah*

      If you are in class 12 hours a week (for most schools this is the minimum load to be considered full time), that is 24 to 36 hours of studying/working on assignments/etc. outside of class time.

      I agree with you in general that going to school full time and working full time is frequently a disaster. However, I do just want to point out that while this is the official line I always hear, IME it’s actually got very little bearing on how even full time students experience their workload – some classes require significantly less than that, and those that require about that on average don’t have it spread out anything close to evenly. My biggest issue with even just my part-time job wasn’t finding time for both during most the semester – it was doing so leading up to and during midterms and finals.

      That’s not really a mediating factor, of course, because while you might be able to schedule sustained work in, it’s a matter of certain weeks requiring significantly more hours per class, and you barely have time to sleep even without a job.

      I do think that how prudent or effective the choice is depends on your goal, though. If your goal is to just get the damn degree and not go into horrible amounts of debt, that may well be an effective way to achieve it.

      1. INTP*

        I do agree that the workload tends to be very uneven – you can even it out a bit by working ahead, but sometimes that isn’t possible (the professor won’t give instructions or meet with anyone until a week before the project is due, you need to see your grade on one paper before starting another, a memorization test requires cramming whether you do your reading earlier or not, etc). Many students also don’t spend the recommended 4-6 hours studying outside of class because they think it’s unnecessary to do anything but speed through the assigned reading and complete graded assignments and then they blame the professor when they “just don’t get it.”

        That said, this only reinforces that the manager made a reasonable call in my opinion. Startups tend to have irregular hours, too. When the startup lands a new account or has an emergency and wants 80 hours of work the week the OP also has two term papers and a final, what’s going to happen? Either the job sabotages the OP’s education or the OP flakes out on the job. It’s just not a job for a full-time student, or a part-time student for that matter.

        1. Anx*

          I had a course with very reasonable and steady modules (on online class). It was a trickier class for me. I was killing it (at least for me) and went into the final with an A. The whole semester was fine: 18 hours of paid work, 4 hour volunteership, and 20 credits. But then during finals my work schedule changed and got more intense (happily, I needed the money) and after a semester of having well-spaced exams, I had to complete a homework review before I could even start my exam, and had a 2 day window to do a long (useful, if you have time) review and take a test. I ended up doing the exam in less than half the time allotted due to the backup of all my finals and that hw review. I failed the exam due to not finishing.

    8. TotesMaGoats*

      Let’s be honest. While most professors and colleges quote those numbers, not ALL classes need that amount of work. Plus, if it’s a subject in which a student excels, they might not need a lot of time in that area. I’ve known LOTS of people who’ve worked FT and gone to school FT. As a higher ed administrator would I ever advise it? Oh heck no. But it is possible? Sure. It requires a lot of commitment.

      Also, my previous employer had multiple 7 week sessions. You could take 12 credits in 15 weeks but really only be taking 2 classes at the same time. Totally feasible. And no, it wasn’t a for-profit school. It was the largest, public, online/non-traditional school in the country.

      1. mskyle*

        While we’re being honest, a lot of full time jobs don’t require eight hours of work in a day, even if they require your presence… when I was in graduate school I was able to do most of my outside-of-class work (i.e. anything that didn’t require face-to-face contact with others or outside resources) during my work day (actually a work night, since I worked 3:30 to midnight). If you’re doing something like security guard or receptionist work (I was working the front desk in a medical library) you may very well have a couple of free-ish hours for study in each shift.

        I mostly went to grad school part-time (for financial reasons) but did technically take a full-time course load a couple of semesters, which I was able to do because I had vacation saved up and used that to take intensive one-week classes.

        Honestly I got very little out that degree, though, intellectually speaking, and I’m no longer in that profession. I don’t really recommend it.

        1. TotesMaGoats*

          Agreed. Many jobs don’t really need 8 hours of work a day. I still wouldn’t recommend doing it but it’s not an impossibility.

        2. INTP*

          ITA that some jobs can be compatible with school, like when you have a predictable, no-OT schedule and can spend time at work on your schoolwork. The OP said this is a startup, though, and they don’t tend to hire that kind of personnel – if answering phones isn’t a full-time job, they have someone already working there with a separate job do it, or they hire a security agency. I think the manager’s call was reasonable in this case (and probably in the OP’s best interests).

    9. Beth*

      I work full-time and go to school part-time (six hours a week). I can’t even imagine trying to carry a full courseload. I don’t think I could make it work.

      1. Not me*

        I went to school full-time and found balancing it with an internship and student organizations hard enough, tbh. I had a lot of classmates who went to school and worked full-time, but I have no idea how they pulled that off.

      2. Ad Astra*

        Honestly, I can’t even imagine adding a 6-hour courseload to my current schedule, and all I do is work 45 hours a week and take care of my dog.

    10. Erin*


      This is really great insight.

      OP – You mentioned you’d be willing to go to school part time, if need be, even though that’s not ideal for you. While I think this particular ship has sailed (I wouldn’t try to contact them again) this is something to keep in mind for your next interview.

      Emphasize that school is important to you *since it’s in the field you’re interviewing for* but you understand the demands of the full time job should take precedence, and so, you’re willing to cut school back to part time if that makes the most sense. But again, do this next time; let this one go.

      As you mentioned, it is possible for you to not disclose you’re going to school full time (is it really their business how you spend your time out of work?) but for the myriad of reasons mentioned here I’d advise against that. In addition to generally being burned out, if you haven’t disclosed you’re going to school, if anything school-related comes up they’d need to accommodate for you, you might be blindsiding them.

      If it’s possible, keep looking for full time work while going to school full time, and then cut school back to part time once you land a position. Or, wait until the end of the semester to do so, so at least you’re only doing a both for a short period of time.

      Something like: “I am in school full time this semester in X field, where I’m learning skills that are definitely transferable to this position. I am planning on cutting school back to part time once I land a full time position, though. Right now the fall semester is set to end in December on X date, which is only a few weeks away at this point. If and when I land a full time position I’m planning on going part time for the spring semester.”

      The timing may not be perfect since hiring processes tend to be long, but I’ve already dragged out my comment here. In short, I would definitely mention next time that you are in school, but are willing to cut back to part time once full time employment is obtained.

    11. Cucumberzucchini*

      That’s not the case in every situation. I worked 35 hours a week my first two years of college. It wasn’t easy but it was doable. Also, the amount of time it takes to study/do assignments is going to vary wildly depending on the aptitude of the student and area of study and other time commitments. I continued to work at between 15-25 hours per week my last two years of college. I could have worked more but I allocated more time towards social activities my Junior and Senior year of college. I graduated easily and went straight to work in my desired field and feel pretty successful. Honestly I attribute my success partially to working full-time/part-time throughout college. It made me very strict about time management, and it allowed me to earn experience in my field, build up contacts and clients so when I graduated I already had a base for working for building a freelance business.

    12. Turanga Leela*

      I want to add to this: it matters what your program is like and how much you want to commit to it. I had a friend who went to a big, prestigious university and graduated with honors and a double major. Nearly all of her classes were big lectures where attendance wasn’t counted, they overwhelmingly had exams rather than final papers, and the exams tended to be multiple-choice. That meant she had some give in her schedule. That’s very different from having a major in the hard sciences, where you have to be in labs all the time. It’s also different from going to an intense liberal arts college where attendance is mandatory and every class assigns 3 papers per semester.

      When I was in law school, I took out a ton of loans (although less than some of my friends) and didn’t work. That freed up my time to study hard and participate in moot court and journals. I was working more than full time on school alone—easily 50 hours per week, some weeks 70-80 hours. But when I graduated, I had excellent grades and journal experience, which are both very important in this field. By not working during law school, I put myself in a position to be more employable after law school.

      1. simonthegrey*

        This. I was working 20 hrs a week as a junior/senior in college, though at a lower-intensity job (think grocery store, not office job). I was actually taking an overload of courses at one of those intense liberal arts colleges, where every class was a seminar of 4-10 people and it was noticed if you missed. It was hard, and I don’t know that I would do it again (I couldn’t do it now, but I apparently didn’t need sleep at 21).

      2. Ad Astra*

        People always said I was crazy for preferring tests over papers, but my theory is sound: If I don’t study before the test, I still have some chance of passing. If I don’t write my paper, I get an F.

        If I study just part of the material before the test, I actually have a pretty decent chance of passing (depending on the subject). If I write just part of the paper, I get an F.

        1. Turanga Leela*

          This is 100% true. It’s also why it’s easier to fail art classes (or fashion courses, or any class where you have to build or make something). You can’t just not make your sculpture and figure you’ll wing it.

    13. INTP*

      I agree with you. Some people have to work full-time, but the two are incompatible enough that it was a reasonable call by the manager.

      I’ve both been a grad student and worked for a late-stage startup, transitioning into making money but still with that culture (which is much calmer than working for an earlier-stage startup). The two are just NOT compatible, whatsoever. Both have varying and sometimes unpredictable demands on your time and energy, to the extent that many (most?) people find startups exhausting to work for when they don’t even have school to worry about. They want people who can spend all weekend at the office when a new RFP opportunity comes up, put in a 60 or 80 or more hour week when they land a new account, etc. With even part time school, sometimes that won’t be possible without dropping the ball on one or the other, because these demands will coincide with finals, term papers, group project meetings, etc. I actually applied for grad school shortly after starting that job because my program allows you to take most of the classes online, but I wound up quitting to start school full time immediately because I quickly realized that with the constant last minute “emergencies”, it wasn’t going to be workable with a school load, with me needing to know when I’d be able to reserve an evening or weekend for school. I was told when interviewing that it was a “40 hour a week job with overtime under exceptional circumstances” but I found out that those exceptional emergencies happened at least once a week.

      If you need to work full-time while attending school full time, you need a job that’s either truly flexible or that has a very predictable 8-5 schedule. (I’d also suggest saying that you’re “finishing up some classes” rather than attending full-time.) The startup job just isn’t a student job unless it’s part time.

    14. Lady Bug*

      It really depends on the job and the person. I worked full time and finished my undergrad and did law school over course of 8 years, both PT at night, which in reality was 10 or 11 credits a semester so barely PT. Graduated at the top of both classes and did great at work. But, I was out of work by 5 everyday, no OT, very predictable and my husband did grocery shopping and cooked. I sacrificed sleep (home at midnight up at 5 am), social life and a clean house (I mean who cleans more than bi-annually anyway). But it wouldn’t have worked in a job with unpredictable hours at all.

  7. BRR*

    #1 “Said employee was laid off instead of fired as a sort of favor, and was given the reason as a lack of work for their position.”

    Wait, do they only think they were let go due to lack of work? Do they think they’re going to be rehired in the spring?

    1. Merry and Bright*

      I was about to say something similar. It will be much harder to explain to the ex-employee why they can’t/won’t be invited to the holiday party now, than if they had been fired for the list of reasons given by the OP. There is even an admission that the employee had been high during work hours.

    2. Liane*

      I read it as the company told Venom straight out that they were being fired and weren’t eligible for rehire because of the lateness, cursing, being high, etc. mentioned in OP’s question–but agreed to tell Unemployment it was due to layoff/lack of work. Employers sometimes do this so the former employee can get unemployment.
      But you and Merry and Bright could be right. Even so, it wuld still be possible and polite to tell Venom, “Originally, we were going to still have you at the party, but due to your actions ABC in your last weeks, we decided this will not work.” Heck, even if Venom was a decent employee who gave notice to take another job, then acted badly during the notice period, it would be fine to uninvite them.

      1. BRR*

        I think it can be read multiple ways. My thought process being if it’s common to be laid off it might have not been clear. That’s more of a “be sure to be direct about things” reminder from me.

        No matter what was said the employee needs to be uninvited. Your valued employees don’t want to attend what sounds like a well received perk due to the dead weight employee you let go. It needs to be directly said they cannot attend and say why. Don’t make up an excuse and pass it off as a reason either.

      2. cardiganed librarian*

        I read it this way because the employee’s behaviour afterwards seems more like that of an embittered employee happily burning bridges than someone assuming they’d be coming back in a few months.

    3. Xarcady*

      I read “Said employee was laid off instead of fired as a sort of favor, and was given the reason as a lack of work for their position,” as meaning that the employee was laid off and has no idea (yet) that they were fired.

      So they probably think attending the annual party is perfectly okay, because they still think they will be rehired next year.

      So that’s going to be one very awkward phone call, when someone from the company calls and tells them, “Look, you were fired. You were high at work, you cussed your co-workers out, you didn’t do your work. We were trying to be nice and tell you it was a lay off, so you could collect unemployment. But you were fired. Don’t come to the holiday party.”

      Someone needs to tell the person in charge of the party that this ex-employee should have been fired, but was laid off in charity. And that their presence at the party will be completely unwelcome, and upset many current employees.

      1. AnotherHRPro*

        Exactly. It really isn’t doing someone a “favor” by not being honest with them. I understand it is easier to tell someone that they are being laid off due to a lack of work, but now this ex-employee believes their behavior at work was acceptable (taking away a lesson that they could benefit from to be successful in the future) and will be hurt and confused when disinvited from the holiday party.

    4. neverjaunty*

      Given that nobody seems to want to tell her “don’t show up” and given the long tolerance of extreme misbehavior, I’d guess that management also didn’t want to come out and tell her to her face she was fired.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Then I guess I’m a little baffled why management is confused on this point. Is it that Haglina is so confrontational that nobody wants to actually come out and tell her the invitation is rescinded? Are they just hoping she’ll get the hint? I mean, this is somebody who has all but made a PowerPoint presentation explaining why she has no grasp of business or interpersonal norms.

  8. Apollo Warbucks*

    #1 I would tell the former employee that they are not welcome at the event because of their behaviour. There is no reason to have such an obnoxious person at the event when it will upset a lot of people that still work there. There is nothing controversial about that in my opinion, if the person resigned or was laid off and left on good terms in December then I would argue that it would be a nice gesture to invite them to the event but that is not what is happening here so take back the invitation and don’t think twice about it.

  9. Kelly L.*

    But also, keep in mind that you won’t be able to transfer absolutely everything from your brain to the new person, and that’s okay.

    This is good for me to hear. :) I’ve felt guilty for ages that I never finished writing all the stuff I was going to leave for my replacement at OldJob. (I wrote lots, but there was more stuff in my head beyond that, and time ran out.) And now that I think about it, it’s probably OK, because (a) the other people I worked with are still there and can fill in any gaps, and (b) if there’s something she can’t figure out from either my notes or other people, then she’ll think up her own way to do it, and that’s OK too.

  10. NJ Anon*

    #2 so just to clarify what AAM said: don’t say anything until you have to? That was my thought process as well. And kudos for becoming foster parents. It’s not easy but can be very rewarding!

  11. Menacia*

    My only response to #1 is that this person must still be high to think they would be welcomed with open arms to this company party!

    1. Charityb*

      Inviting a disgruntled, hostile former employee to a holiday party is like inviting an angry, harassing ex to your wedding. It’s frankly baffling that anyone in that scenario would want to be involved; I’d argue that it would be bad manners to intentionally stir up drama like that. Disinviting someone isn’t fun, but I’d rather annoy one person than everyone else.

  12. Mercedenne*

    #1 I had an extremely uncomfortable situation with a former coworker at an office holiday party. I used to work at a university library, and my supervisor was eccentric at very best. He started out ok, but kinda odd–he had a zoo of native wildlife pets, and he liked to bring his snapping turtle into work in a cat carrier–but then he started hitting on the freshman girls, telling them disgusting details about his sex life, and then after he got disciplined for that his behavior got weirder, and finally after showing a coworker his collection of cat skulls and a truly horrific shift in which he told me women don’t like him because he wouldn’t beat them up along with other completely unnecessary info about his personal life, he was given the choice to either stay in a role where he would have zero contact with students (especially the female ones) or he would resign. So he quit! But he kept hanging around campus, and he showed up at the office Halloween party. No one really raised a fuss because a lot of people, save my supervisors and the rest of the girls I worked with, knew WHY he had left, but it was so uncomfortable for me and the other girls. I was nervous that he would make a scene, and I ended up leaving the party early. The person who was let go should not attend the holiday party, especially after her behavior. It would make things extremely uncomfortable for everyone, and no one wants to wait for the inevitable shit show to start.

      1. Mercedenne*

        It was really disturbing. I was thinking “Is he going to get violent? Should I call security?” and ended up booking it to the office of a supervisor I felt comfortable with as soon as my shift ended. I was one of the few girls that was still working with him, and it really sucked.

          1. Mercedenne*

            He’d been there for like 20 years at that point. He was literally the missing stair; he worked in a largely male department and he never weirded any of them too much, and always behaved himself around his supervisors. (There was spirited debate about when he’d get rabies, or when he’d piss off dangerous reptiles, but him being a creepy weirdo was just “oh, that’s Dude being Dude”. When I had to report him, his boss was surprised because I’m “boisterous”, and not the meek won’t report type that he usually preferred to bother.) Before I interviewed, they told me he was a character. Thankfully after he left the department got completely changed around for the better.

    1. EmilyG*

      Just, wow. This really is one for the Annals of Bad Library Management (which is itself not a short document). Wow.

      1. Mercedenne*

        I loved working for the library, even though it was a hot mess at best. The hours were flexible, the patrons were interesting, and I got to be the girl with all the research answers when essays and final projects were coming due. I’m probably never going to work for a library again, but I’ll look back on it mostly fondly.

  13. F.*

    A company holiday party is a perq, not a mandated benefit. It is strictly up to the company to determine who attends and who does not. Dis-inviting the former employee is perfectly within their right and is probably the prudent thing to do. Firing someone who deserved it and calling it a “lay off” for unemployment reasons is a common practice. It is nearly impossible for an employer to win a disputed unemployment claim in our state (PA), so we often lay off employees we have no intention of rehiring. Spending time and money to fight their claim or even worse, defending a wrongful termination lawsuit (even if we win), are more costly than taking the hit to our unemployment compensation rating.

      1. LBK*

        My guess is that people who are laid off when they should’ve been fired are less likely to dispute it than people who were outright fired, so it’s just easier to take the path of least resistance.

      2. NerdyCanuck*

        I guess the other reason it would be a kindness is so that the person can then say they were laid off, rather than that they were fired…

  14. Graciosa*

    Regarding #5, a transition plan may seem like a small part of your career (it’s usually done in a couple weeks compared to what may be many years on a job) but these few weeks have the power to make or break your reputation. People notice and remember transitions, and this is when everyone you interact with (not just your boss) is either solidifying their final impressions of you before you leave or forming new ones as they join the department after you’ve left and have only your transition materials as a resource.

    It’s great that you’re thinking about this and trying to figure out how to do it well. I would urge you to make a conspicuous effect to do the best job possible. Organization and clarity are the keys to any materials you leave behind. Test people if you can find some volunteers (meaning ask them to attempt a task using only your instructions while you’re still there to see if they make sense to someone who does *not* know how to perform the task). If the instructions are perfect, great – but if you find out that you need to specify that you need to click a link running down the left side of the page rather than dropping down from the left side menu, you can fix that before you go.

    People never forget if you visibly busted your **** to make their jobs easier before you leave yours.

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      I agree with this 100%. I had a new COO of 4 months who I’ve never met, comment on my documentation for my old position … and it was 2.5 years later!

      For my particular transition plan – I listed key vendors and their contact information, what type of product we buy from them generally, how often we buy from them generally, what shipping method we generally use, lead times…. forms I used on a regular basis, troubleshooting issues (like, if X occurs, your options are A, B, or C and I usually go with B for reason Y). I put it all in a binder for the new person to reference in the future.

    2. OP#5 (aka AnonPi)*

      Thanks, that’s what I’ve *tried* to do with my few main functions that I’m handing over to two people. It’s sorta worked, the one person skipped around a lot of the instructions on the first task so that didn’t go too great (took us a day for something that should have been covered in under half that). But what we worked on today went much smoother. Unfortunately the 2nd person has blown me off and my supervisor just said not to worry about it, so that’s what I’m going to do. If they manage to take the time to sit down with me to go through instructions great, if not then oh well, they’ll muddle through like I did.

  15. Foster Friend*

    #2 – A good friend of mine was in almost the exact same situation as the OP. She was a contractor at our company, and she started going through the foster-to-adopt program in our state. When she neared the end of her program (she had to complete several weeks of training, visits, background checks, etc.), she told her supervisor of her intentions to adopt if she got a placement. When she received her placement (a newborn with some health issues that required hospitalization), I believe she took a month off of work (a combination of PTO and some FMLA) to get the baby settled. She ended up getting a full-time, permanent position in the company a few months later, so everything worked out well. And she ended up adopting the baby last year – as a single parent, no less. :)

    It’s an incredibly rewarding experience, even for others in her life! :)

    1. F.*

      Major props to your friend and her employer for working with her situation! My husband and his late wife adopted two children as infants, his sister-in-law and her husband adopted two children, and a child born on my side of the family was adopted by a wonderful family because the mother was unable to take care of the baby. All of the adopted children are now in their 30s and 40s and are successful adults because a family decided to open their heart and give them the chance that their birth parents were unable to provide.

  16. Sam*

    #5 – In addition to creating the contact list, I also liked to add notes about “who to go to for what.” That way, it’s not just a plain list of names. I’d give those people a heads up on your transition as well — that way, if there’s something they would have needed you to do, they at least know the new way to proceed

  17. BettyD*

    “Said employee was laid off instead of fired as a sort of favor, and was given the reason as a lack of work for their position.”

    To me this situation illustrates perfectly why this is such a terrible idea. Why in the name of little green apples would your employer do someone who cursed out their coworkers and GOT HIGH AT WORK this kind of “favor”? What purpose does it serve, other than to avoid a confrontation which they’re getting anyway, only now nobody (possibly including Venom) has any clear idea of what the heck is going on?

  18. Gandalf the Nude*

    By the way, the OP of the linked “as the boss’s wife, do I really have to attend his company Christmas party?” came back about a week ago and provided an update in the comments.

    1. fposte*

      OMG I just saw that last night. She seemed composed; I hope this was an outcome she’s okay with. It did seem mighty sudden.

      1. fposte*

        Okay, I just reread the OP’s comments in that thread, and I take it back–it does not seem sudden at all.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Speaking of updates, there are many updates from the OP in yesterday’s post about the boss’s wife who argued about paying her invoices. Search for “Liv (OP).”

        1. Elizabeth West*


          Re the financial craziness: I wouldn’t be like them, because if I got rich, the FIRST thing I would do is find a financial planner and accountant I could trust and have them put me on a budget. But as little as I know about finances, even I know not to mix the personal accounts with the business ones.

    3. Not me*

      Wow! I felt like that question might have been just a tiny part of bigger problems at the time. Still not sure what’s going on but I hope OP is doing well.

          1. fposte*

            Though when I just went back and read the comments, it sounds like they were both pretty angry with each other even at that point, and that it had been building for a while, so it seemed less surprising.

            1. LBK*

              Yeah, I just read the comment at the bottom of the page first where it went right from “we’re discussing it” to “we’re getting divorce” in two comments. After going back through the others, it makes more sense.

  19. AmyNYC*

    Somewhat related to #1 – I’m going to leave one job (where I’ve been for 2+ years) right before Christmas and start a new one just after New Years. Is it weird to still go to my current company’s holiday party (having given notice but still working there)?

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I think it’s fine to go, you’ve worked there all year and will still be employed I can’t see any reason that it would be weird to go to the party

    2. A Non*

      I’m assuming that you haven’t cursed at coworkers, shown up to work high, or otherwise made a severe nuisance of yourself? Go to the party and enjoy. :-)

    1. fposte*

      Then they can write a lovely letter. There’s no reason for that small likelihood to include this person in an event whose presence ensures others won’t come.

  20. Fracture*

    #1 I am a fellow coworker and this story is a pale shadow of the true horror of being tethered to her on a project. It was like trying to cowrite a paper with a rabid bear.

      1. Fracture*

        Hmm lets see…yells at me when I politely try and point out mistakes…
        Aggressively questions coworkers about religious beliefs….
        Heavily critical of fellow female employees…
        Superseding chain of command to badmouthing coworkers and supervisor…
        Misses time, says she will make it up. Doesn’t. Missed deadline…
        Used significant portion of work time for email cortispondance with her boyfriend…
        Possibly sabotaged her last assignment. To be fair, it could have been incompetence.
        Constant complaining about salary…
        Tried to Emotionally manipulate supervisor…
        Possibly tried to seduce supervisor, not 100% sure but if she did, she failed. Epically.

        Are those enough details?

        1. Fracture*

          Also racial comments, including concern over letting crude insensitive comments slip if an ethinic woman was hired.

          Then their was concern over competition when another woman was interviewed who she feared would be more attractive than her…oddly this was a conservative with the ethinic woman.

          Also far Far too open about her personal sexual exploits.

          Sigh…this could go on and on…

          1. Fracture*

            I’m sorry, I meant to say that oddly, competition over attractiveness was not an expressed concern with the ethinic woman.

        2. Miscellaneous (Another Coworker from #1)*

          “Heavily critical of fellow female employees…”

          Do you mean how she said women from a certain geographical region are all airheads? When one of her coworkers is a woman from that area? And that coworker is exceptionally more intelligent than her? And when we pointed it out, she just doubled down on her original comment?

          Or when she said she was worried that our boss would hire another woman, because the woman might be pretty, and that would mean she would have competition? Super appreciative that she followed that one up with “but I don’t consider you competition”. Probably because…

          She told another coworker that I would be pretty if I wasn’t so bowlegged? And when he pointed out to her I was not, she was adamant I was. That’s cool though, because she said the same thing to me not long after we met years ago before we worked together. She said she like my boots and it was a shame I was bowlegged. I had to go look it up because I had no idea what that meant.

          Or maybe I’m not competition because she already told the majority of our immediate male coworkers that I am asexual? According to her, because I don’t want to talk about my personal relationships with her? Which I guess is weird from her point of view because our entire office knows EXACTLY how she uses her free time. Super cool of her to tell everyone that, without ever asking me, because, well FACTS.

          She is the worst when it came to working with women. I have never met anyone like this before, and I hope I never do again.

          I was one of the people who wasn’t going to the party when I heard as I knew I would be confrontational, for the first time in my life. She called our office venomous to other people in this company, but the venom is gone now.

          1. Kyrielle*


            Wow. Just, wow.

            I am currently very grateful, because I haven’t ever met someone like that. And I hope I never do.

            So glad for all of you that she is no longer working there. Yikes!

          1. Sunshine Brite*

            I would probably end up trashed making a drinking game out of her behavior at a holiday party.

        3. Random citizen*

          _Possibly tried to seduce supervisor, not 100% sure but if she did, she failed. Epically._
          At work!?!?!? We must have details for this!

    1. Leah (OP #1)*

      My personal favorite is when after being told not to call other employees the “C” word when getting into arguments with them, they just called us a “See You Next Tuesday,” to get around it.

      1. Mike B.*

        Good god. I’m afraid to even use that phrase in an email when I’m about to leave for a long weekend.

        1. Anon Accountant*

          Exactly. Especially when you never use that word and mean it in a friendly “I really will see you Tuesday”.

          The awful coworker sounds horrible to work with.

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          Hahaha, I said this inadvertently to my boss once and she was like “what’d you call me” and we both laughed hysterically.

        3. Ad Astra*

          Hah! I have never heard “see you next Tuesday” used to mean that… now I’m going to be afraid to use that phrase too!

      2. Michaela T*

        Hopefully that will be a funny anecdote for you one day, it made me laugh. Sorry about the nightmare otherwise.

  21. I'm Not Phyllis*

    In most cases, yes it is rude to disinvite someone. However, in this case you will have to weigh the wishes of your current employees (who have already told you they’re uncomfortable attending if this person does) against your former employee (who may want to make amends, but may just want to cause more trouble). In this case, I’d definitely err on the side of making your current employees happy since these are the relationships you want to cultivate.

  22. Spooky*

    Rant time re #1: I really wish that people would stop calling firings “layoffs” as a kindness. I understand that this makes it easier for the employee to find other work and qualify for unemployment, and I really do appreciate that they’re trying to be considerate. But sometimes, employees NEED to be fired to understand the consequences of their behavior.

    Case in point: I have a friend who was “laid off” this spring, which was almost certainly actually a firing. He was convinced that it was simply because the company was having financial problems. No matter that he had requested vacation time on major holidays that were pointed out as a specific requirement of job when he was hired. No matter that he started taking vacation and sick days before he had qualified. No matter that he messed up an order so badly the company lost a client, got caught gossiping about the company and his boss through a work chat feature (!), or was called into meetings with both his boss and his grandboss to address their serious concerns about the poor quality of his work. Not even that they brought in an emergency specialist to try to train him to do better. Oh no. Not his fault at all. And after the layoff, when a manager from a previous internship refused to be a reference for him at her own company for a job in her own department, it still didn’t sink in.

    He did manage to get a new job, but I’m already seeing the same problems, and he never thinks he’s doing anything wrong. I really wish that company had been honest about firing him because he was a terrible employee. Ultimately, calling it a layoff may make it easier to GET a new job, but it certainly won’t help him KEEP one.

    1. Chloe Silverado*

      I somewhat agree. I have a similar friend, and while I love her and I’m relieved that her status as laid off allows her to continue to find employment and support herself, I recognize based on stories she has told me that she is a poor employee with a total lack of understanding of professional norms. I’ve tried to explain that it would be wise to change her attitude and behavior to prevent future “layoffs” but she doesn’t think it’s necessary. At this point I’m done giving her career advice – until a manager is honest with her, nothing I suggest will change the way she acts at work.

    2. F.*

      Do you really think he would have gotten the point and taken it to heart and changed his ways if the company had told him they were firing him and why? It sounds like he had plenty of chances to change. Some people will just never get it. It has become so dangerous to give a bad reference for a former employee (lawsuits) that the bad apples continue to be passed around and around. By the way, I like “grandbosss” :-)

        1. neverjaunty*

          That’s not really so much a work-related issue as a ‘friend chooses to ignore reality he doesn’t like’ issue, which in the long term makes for kind of crappy friends.

          I also love ‘grandboss’.

  23. Ms. Minn*

    RE #4: what kind of response would a potential employer doing a background/reference check get from the company in that situation?
    I was on a PIP but left voluntarily before being let go. Long story, but after 8+ years of nothing but review scores of outstanding/excellent at a major company, my new manager didn’t like me and coached me out with bs made-up reasoning. (Admittedly at the end, my attitude was not great.) Just curious what a future employer would hear from this company.

    1. fposte*

      It totally depends on the company and on who gets talked to there. Some places won’t even call them if you don’t list them as references, while some will dig down to get to the manager and not just HR. In general, it’d be good to know what your company and manager will say if they’re called.

      If this is your most recent job, you’re really going to want to have somebody from it to be able to talk well about your work there. A references gap of eight years would hurt your candidacy for many jobs.

    2. Mike B.*

      If you have glowing reviews from former managers from your time there, they’ll almost certainly outweigh whatever your final manager would have to say if they were to somehow find her. The company itself would probably just confirm employment dates and not mention the PIP; it’s not in a company’s best interests to make its former employees unemployable.

      1. F.*

        “…it’s not in a company’s best interests to make its former employees unemployable.”
        And that is part of the unfortunate truth about why some companies do not outright fire bad apples but lay them off instead. The longer a former employee is on unemployment, the worse it is for the former employer’s UC rating. The unvarnished truth is that they just want the bad employee to go away, preferably as quietly as possible with as little trouble and cost to the employer as possible.

    3. Ms. Minn*

      Thanks for the replies. I was able to find another position prior to leaving my old company and am employed, but just wondering for future job searches.
      Fortunately I could see the writing on the wall that I wasn’t going to change the manager’s mind about me and I was incredibly miserable. I found another position pretty quickly and left. Since my start date wasn’t for a while, I didn’t give my notice immediately, so the day I was given my PIP in a status, I already knew I was leaving. I just sat there and took it without much of a response.
      Coincidentally, my former manager was laid off from the company not long afterward and still hasn’t found a new job after close to a year. Karma is a b*tch.

  24. CADMonkey007*

    Re #1, my experience has been that upon your last day, whether fired, layed off, resigned, your contract ended, your internship ended, that’s your last day. If your last day is Friday and the company holiday party is Saturday evening, you are not invited.

    If an employee wants “one last hurrah” with fellow employees, then go out to a bar on your own dime, not the company’s.

  25. OP#5 (aka AnonPi)*

    Thanks Alison for the suggestions, I hadn’t thought about vendors at all! I don’t have many that are specific to my function but there are a few that others would not think to use. Unfortunately I’ve found myself in the position of trying to plan out transition stuff when no one really seems that interested, with the exception of one or two people that freaked out then dropped off the face of the Earth after I reassured them. It’s been even crazier than expected as I ended up with only a weeks notice before they scheduled me to start, so I’m trying to focus on what I can do in the time I have left (I start new job Monday!) I’ll be working at the same company (will be a permanent employee now in a different division) so it’s not like they can’t ever shoot me an email if there’s a question later on (of course I’ll have to make sure they don’t try to take advantage of that either). So like you said I’m just going to do the best I can and then let it go.

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