new hire told me about punching out a neighbor, walk-in interviews, and more

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

1. New hire told me about punching out a neighbor

I am a project manager and an associate at my firm with 10+ years experience. Last week, a recently hired, recently graduated, young staff member disclosed the following story to me (for brevity, I am paraphrasing): “I was doing laundry in my building’s common laundry room. Someone else took my clothes out of the dryer and dried their clothes on my money. I waited for him and then confronted him. He said something I didn’t like so I pushed him. We fought. I punched him three times in the face and knocked him out. I called the police. They came, I explained what happened, knocked out guy woke up and went back to his apartment, police left. Knocked out guy’s girlfriend called the police back and told building management. No charges pressed, but building evicted me the next day. Took off of work Thursday and Friday last week to find a new apartment.”

I didn’t know what to say, but told him that this is serious and he should consult a lawyer. I believe I’m the only person in the office he told. I want to advise him further, but don’t know what to say. Also, do I let upper management know? I will be conducting this employee’s year-end review with a senior associate. I wish he never told me.

I guess kudos to him for at least calling the police afterwards, but yeah, it’s alarming to hear that you’re working with someone who assaults someone who said something he didn’t like, and who’s cavalier about it to talk about it at his new job.

I think you’d be doing him a favor if you went back and talked to him about why this reflects badly on him, and why it’s the kind of thing that will stick to him forever if people hear about it in a work setting. And yes, I think I’d err on the side of telling someone above you — not in a “we must fire him” way, but more like “Hey, I thought this was an alarming story and I feel uncomfortable keeping it to myself in case it fits part of a larger pattern.”

2. I got in trouble for letting my staff leave early the day before Thanksgiving

I got in trouble for letting my staff leave early the day before Thanksgiving. Everyone came in extra early to get a head start on their work for the day, and so when i saw that the deliverables were complete, I let them know they could leave early for the holiday and put in for an 8-hour day. They all probably worked about 6 hours.

I let my boss know just so he would be aware, and he said I shouldn’t have done that because other departments do not have that luxury.

I’m not sure how to react to that. My team members are not allowed to leave early because other departments are not as good at managing their workloads? I just responded to him that they all came in very early and completed their deliverables so I didn’t think it was a problem, but that it would not happen again.

This makes no sense to me. What do you think?

Eh, I could argue it either way. On one hand, yes, you should be able to make decisions like this for your department, it’s a pretty common thing to let people go early the day before Thanksgiving, and if you’re a good manager, your boss should trust your judgment on something like this. On the other hand, it sometimes does cause real morale issues if people see one department getting a perk that their own manager isn’t offering.

Of course, the response to that is that different departments have different needs; just because the mailroom staff can’t work from home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t let anyone else do it. But with something like this — where other departments might have been just as able to leave early, but just weren’t allowed to — I can see your boss worrying about it causing strife or resentment.

Ultimately, though, I think he should have deferred to you, assuming that you generally have a good track record of managing your team well.

3. Invited to a walk-in interview

I just applied for a job and received an email back thanking me for my interest and inviting me to a “walk-in interview” held every Wednesday from 8:30-11:30. It’s for a fairly professional position. I’ve never heard of anything like this, have you? I’m not real inclined to participate.

Do you know if it’s a group interview or just “we’ll talk to anyone who shows up at this time?” The former is worse than the latter. And it sounds like you passed an initial screening so it’s hopefully not really “anyone at all” but rather “any candidate who met some initial qualifications” … but I’m still not sure why they’re not willing to just set a specific time to talk with you, and it would give me pause too. Still, though, if you’re otherwise interested in the job, I’d say it’s worth going and trying to get a better sense of what they’re all about.

But yes, it’s odd.

4. My complaint about coworkers got back to my boss

I work in the medical field in a outpatient clinic setting. Most of the time I work alone with patients, but for an hour or two I work with other employees. A few weeks ago, I was telling someone in our front desk area that I was kind of frustrated about how loud the cursing had gotten in our work area. I told this person (who I trusted) that I was afraid patients would hear, and I was asking if these people ever cursed loudly up front. Well, this person went to another person and it got to my manager. I was not going to take it to my manager. I was going to talk to my coworkers myself first.

I think my coworkers who cursed a lot got written up, but I am not sure. I feel very bad about this. I feel like there is tension and resentment when I am there now. I feel like I threw people under the bus. There is one person in particular who used to talk to me a lot who is barely speaking and acting weird. I feel like I need to just come out and apologize and let them know that I was not the one who originally told my boss! The info went from one person I told and got to him without me doing it. I had no intentions of telling my boss and getting them in trouble. Should I apologize and explain this to them?

Sure, it sounds like it could help and isn’t likely to hurt. I wouldn’t make a huge deal out of it — just, “Hey, I’m sorry that my comment to Jane ended up getting back to Percival. I had planned to talk to you directly and wouldn’t have taken it to Percival myself. I like working with you, and I feel badly that it turned out the way it did.”

5. Will my PIP transfer to my new team?

If I was put on a Performance Improvement Plan, and in the midst of the plan transitioned to a different manager and team, would the original PIP still be in effect and potentially ruin my career if not met? The new manager has no knowledge of it and the old manager does not plan to disclose the PIP to the new manager. There is no statement anywhere in the PIP saying it is transferable from one manager to the next, nor have I signed it.

Also, is it known for employees to ask HR to step in and mediate on the fairness of the PIP?

It’s really up to your company and how they want to do things. In many companies, people can’t transfer if they’re currently on a PIP. In yours, though, it sounds like your manager isn’t even telling the new manager, so I’d assume it’s not transferring along with you. That said, you should just ask your old manager directly how this will work. If she isn’t sure, then you should ask HR.

As for asking HR to mediate on the fairness of a PIP … again, it really depends on your company. In some companies, HR would review a PIP and possibly advise the manager on making it stronger or more objective (typically, though, it would be more of advising than ordering a particular change). In others, HR would defer to the manager. So it really depends. In your case, it sounds likely that the PIP is going to go away with your transfer (but again, verify that), so it’s probably moot.

{ 275 comments… read them below }

  1. Dan

    #2

    This may or may not be the real issue, but your boss may be taking issue with your team claiming they worked 8 hours but put in for 6. In government contracting, that would very much be illegal, even for exempt workers.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I don’t think that’s the issue though, since that would be a pretty straightforward explanation but instead the boss said it was because other departments didn’t get to leave early.

      1. doreen

        It might be part of it, though. It’s sounds like it’s hourly work and I’ve noticed that it’s not terribly uncommon for people to see leaving early and being paid for the actual hours worked differently from leaving early and being paid for the full day. The office culture might be such that working six and being paid for six doesn’t cause the same morale problems as working six and being paid for eight.

        1. FiveWheels

          I used to work in a firm in which every department except mine had flexi time. It caused huge resentment among us, but we had some perks the others didn’t and the flexi departments had a fit if we got their perks for any reason.

          I can see it being a big office politics issue even if there’s no operational reason for changing hours.

        2. INTP

          In my experience, I’ve been paid for the full day when I’ve been let go early. However, that was usually when most of the department was salaried/exempt. I think they felt it wouldn’t be fair to REQUIRE me to leave early and dock my pay for it, but they also didn’t want one or two low-level people or interns hanging out in the building alone, so they just told us to report our full eight hours.

          1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

            This.

            I read it as though the manager authorized the early out, but didn’t make her employees use PTO.

            1. Lily Rowan

              When I was hourly, minor holidays, snow days, and the like were the worst — I needed that money!

          2. Anonymosity

            I have too–my boss does this at holidays a lot. If I finish before the time I usually leave, she tells me to enter my hours as usual and approves them. I hope my new boss does the same thing….

            To clarify, these are NOT overtime hours. And we’re not in California.

    2. NorCalHR

      OP 2, If these are exempt employees, then I’d guess your manager is worried about unfairness/morale issues with other departments. If they are hourly (non-exempt) employees, and they are paid for more hours than there could very well be a legal issue (it would be in California, however wage and hour laws vary widely so YMMV).

  2. Artemesia

    #5 If the old boss has sort of decided to let this slip, wouldn’t asking about it just make sure it is passed along to the new boss and generally ‘sticks’ as it were. Since the old manager said he isn’t passing it along, I’d let this one lay. If the work on the new job is not related to the specific targets then it will be moot; if it is (e.g. punctuality or something that applies to both jobs) then of course DO those things in the new setting so if it does become an issue, you have met the goals. I can thing of zero ways in which bringing this up could have a better outcome than leaving it lay and many in which it will poison the new well.

    1. Sunshine

      I don’t think so. It’s not as if the old manager forgot about it, and asking about it will be a reminder. I think it’s better to just ask the old manager and be sure, as opposed to having the uncertainty hang over indefinitely.

      1. PEBCAK

        I disagree. I suspect new manager is trying to shuffle OP out of her department, and doesn’t want it brought up.

        1. Sunshine

          Maybe. But isn’t the end result the same? If the old manager confirms that they won’t pass the PIP to the new manager, it goes away regardless of old manager’s reasons. The alternative is for OP to NOT ask Old Manager and not be fully aware of her status with New Manager. That seems unnerving to me. I’d rather know than not know.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      I have a strong bias toward peace of mind, which may be affecting my stance here, but I would so much rather know for sure how this is being handled than have to wonder about it and worry that it’s going to be brought up later.

    3. themmases

      I think I’d much rather just find out. From the OP’s letter it doesn’t sound like their boss forgot or overlooked it; they know that the boss won’t be disclosing.

      Without knowing what the two jobs are it’s hard to say what the reason is. The PIP could be related to the OP’s old role and so its terms aren’t relevant anymore. Maybe the OP just wasn’t a good fit for their old role– not incompetent or negligent– and the boss wants them to have the same fresh start in a better department that they would if they changed companies. Even if the OP’s problem was something non-negotiable, like showing up on time, if the boss perceived that they were bad at that because they were unhappy then it’s smart and kind not to poison the well at their new position where it might not even be a problem anymore.

      1. Bibliovore

        The PIP is still in effect even if the original manager is not passing on the content to the new manager. For peace of mind sake- the employee should do everything in their power to meet the expectations of the PIP in the context of the new position. If the issue was punctuality, the slate isn’t wiped clean. This is an opportunity to start anew but if it is within the same company, if things go well, no problem. If there are issues, the new manager will contact the old manager and HR.

        I had an report who was on PIP with me and much to my relief they had an opportunity for another position in another department. The PIP was exhausting…documenting…meetings…follow up meetings…investigations. I thought with gratitude that here was an opportunity for this employee to make a fresh start with a new manager. Within three weeks the new manager was at my office- the tasks were completely different but the issues were the same…punctuality, following directions, completing tasks with accuracy, productivity, and meeting deadlines. The documenting began anew with the new manager.

  3. John Cosmo

    #2

    As Alison says, OTOH it really can cause real morale issues if people see one department getting a perk that their own manager isn’t offering. Maybe other departments don’t have the luxury of being adequately staffed and in comparison to your department they are overworked, more stressed and having problems keeping up with their deliverables. That doesn’t make them any less deserving that members of your department and of also being allowed to leave early.

    I think your boss was right and that you screwed up. The fact that it makes no sense to you is troubling. Especially for someone in management.

    1. CMT

      I disagree that it’s troubling. Rewarding your employees for a good job is an excellent way to manage.

      The manager should have checked the organization’s norms on this kind of thing first. It sounds like it’s not something that happens at this particular workplace, but it *is* something that happens in the professional world quite frequently. Making hardworking employees who have finished their work stick around for two hours, the day before a holiday!!, just because totally unrelated employees have to is really, really silly. And also a good way to cause bad morale.

    2. SL #2

      What should the well-staffed department do? Sit around for another 2-3 hours, grumbling to themselves and to each other, because another unrelated department couldn’t get its act together? That’s an easy way to kill morale for your own team, which is a much bigger issue for the OP than another department being upset.

    3. SCR

      It really depends on your industry and the job type. I work at a digital agency and it’s not like someone needs to be sitting at a desk answering phones or anything. If you’re not on a massive deadline for after the holiday, if all your clients have gone home for the day (likely), and you’re done with your work. Then leave. At the places I’ve worked, different account teams have different workloads at different times. Sometimes you’re staying late and sometimes others are. It’s completely not a big deal. To be so nitpicky with people’s time in a professional atmosphere is ridiculous.

      1. simonthegrey

        I’m now in academia, but I used to work at a warehouse/shipping company. At Christmastime, the customer service personnel had to stay until 5 (closing time) on Christmas Eve. However, warehouse staff did not. Our final shipments went out at 3pm on Christmas Eve and after that, there really was nothing for them to do. I was in the mail room and was required to stay. I know no one there ever thought it was unfair. After all, there were times when warehouse had to be there early for a drop shipment, while customer service didn’t have to be there until opening time when the phones went live.

        1. Elizabeth West

          At Exjob, we had a similar setup. The shop personnel left early anyway–but they came in at 6 or 7 a.m. We did get to go home an hour early sometimes, depending on who was in charge in the office and how magnanimous they were feeling that day.

          The only time staying really pissed me off was when they made us stay until five one day when we had a warned winter storm with huge amounts of sleet. It took me TWO HOURS to get out of the industrial park and get home, for what was a ten-minute drive!! If they had let us go when the warning came, we all would have been home by the time it got bad. But nooooooooo.

          Because of jobs like this, where I had to be in no matter what, I’m good at driving in snow and ice, but I Do. Not. Like. It. Thank goodness that 1) winter storms are fairly easy to predict, and 2) this job lets me work from home. I can take my computer with me the night before if we have bad weather on the way (I don’t usually).

    4. Liz in a Library

      I seriously disagree. There are often reasons why one position or department might get a perk that another cannot. That’s not inherently bad or demoralizing as long as people feel they are being treated fairly overall.

      I would, however, find it really demoralizing if a boss I respected got in trouble for offering a reasonable perk to her employees, and word got back about that…

    5. Alma Mater

      That kind of rigid thinking from management leads to far more dissatisafaction in the long term, in my experience.

      1. SL #2

        To me, it speaks to an organizational culture that values “butts-in-chairs” time more than actual quality of work. Definitely a recipe for employee dissatisfaction.

        1. nofelix

          Yeah. It ensures that the employees who stay will embody this policy in their work ethic. I guess there are some workplaces this is beneficial, but generally the employees that like to get results are more worth keeping.

      2. Ad Astra

        I don’t know about the specifics in OP’s organization, but in general it’s not helpful to assume adult employees aren’t capable of understanding why some departments get a certain perk and others don’t. They know that they have a different manager, and they likely understand how the needs of the job would differ from one department to the next. If you go in with the assumption that your employees can’t tell the difference between fair and equal, I have to wonder if there are other issues — like micromanaging or rules for rules’ sake — that might be hurting morale.

    6. Apollo Warbucks

      Treating people fairly doesn’t mean everyone gets the exactly the same treatment. If one team has finished their work why shouldn’t they get an early finish?

      1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

        Exactly.

        If one team has to stay late to finish a project, it’s not like the rest of the office stays late with them to finish.

    7. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

      “the luxury of being adequately staffed”

      Well, in any company where this is a luxury, the employees of the busy department really need to take that up with their manager to go and bat for more staff, not resent the idea that somebody else doing their job and only their job is somehow unfair to them. Similarly, this can go either way; in some companies (including OP’s, apparently) the department doing well would be told not to have perks again (and would then probably do steadily worse as staff left over time); in others, other managers who didn’t think of it will start to relax more and may start offering perks as well. OP calling it wrong this time doesn’t mean that the organisation can’t change for the better over time.

    8. JL

      I can see how it would create morale issues under some circumstances… At ex-job, on sunny Friday afternoons, sometimes managers would walk around the office declaring we were free to go and enjoy the sun. It was very very grating when they did that on days when actually, no, we could not go out because we had a deadline and needed to finish the work – but managers happily walked out of the office, claiming they’d be at the pub.

      BUT, under a circumstance when people are allowed to go home, and know they can because their work is done – I don’t see a problem. The point of an office job (and this sounds like an office situation) isn’t to sit in a chair for exactly 8 hours a day, it’s to make sure a certain task list is done. Over-emphasizing the need to stay 8 hours just shows employees that high productivity will not be rewarded, just physical presence. That sound like a very counterproductive management technique.

      If I’d been in one of the departments not leaving early, I’d be more likely to see this and approach my own manager about the possibility of starting early and leaving early too at the next holiday, rather than complaining I didn’t get a preferential treatment I wasn’t entitled to.

      1. nofelix

        If your manager says you’re free to go, who’s enforcing the deadline? Wouldn’t it be easier to just ask whether the deadline is still important, and if not then enjoy the early exit?

        1. JL

          It’s more a matter of knowing someone in another office relies on you finishing your job on time – yeah, my manager would be OK, but I know I have to work with this person in the future. So, in short, work ethics…

      2. Chinook

        “It was very very grating when they did that on days when actually, no, we could not go out because we had a deadline and needed to finish the work – but managers happily walked out of the office, claiming they’d be at the pub.”

        The only time I ever found this grating was when every partner would let their people go but no one felt they had the authority to close the office and let the receptionist go early as well (even though literally every other employee was already let go early). It wasn’t until a couple of us who covered for her during her coffee breaks pointed out that a) she had no one to transfer calls to, b) it was a safety issue because there would be no one there to hear cries for help (we sometimes got irate bankruptcy clients walking in) and c) there would be no one to cover her for her coffee/bathroom break if we followed the requests of the partners that one of them actually decided to close the office.

    9. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

      I’m in the middle on all of this.

      I think the boss was right that she should have been consulted and not caught by surprise. IME it often does cause negative blow back when one team can leave early and all the other teams can’t. The OPs boss is the one who has to deal with negative blow back and irritated other managers.

      I was royally pissed last year when a small team left early [because reasons, they were adjacent to another team that isn’t part of our division and decided that because that team was leaving early they could too]. In our world, no teams leave before phones shut down. I am not letting marketing (as an example) go (as an entire unit, walking out the door and turning off the lights) while the front line people are still talking to customers. I was so angry that particular team decided to leave early and didn’t ask. Do not surprise me!

      All of that said, we standardly close early for holidays, and with all managers in the division working together can let people go home in waves. Making it a priority, and working together, the worst complaint we’ll get is from people who work earlier hours (who won’t get as many “free” hours) or people who took a vacation day (what? I took a full day and they only had to work half!), and those people can get themselves promoted up to management and figure out a better way to handle it all themselves then thank you.

      1. straws

        Just out of curiosity, how do you handle that last point (the earlier workers and vacation day takers)? We have that same issue, and I don’t feel like we’ve ever been able to address it in a satisfactory way…

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          The only 100% “fair” thing to do would be to never let anybody go home early. People are welcome to try to game the system, say adjusting their schedule for that day to start at 9am instead of 7am and see what happens next regarding when we close up shop.

          We don’t have a set close for Christmas Eve, for example, but our track record is:

          1) huge number of employees have this as a vacation day
          2) customer incoming (we are business to business) is crazy light

          So, chances are pretty good we will close up by 3PM or possibly 2PM, as long as the phones aren’t ringing/emails or orders incoming. We don’t make any adjustments to vacation days or extra credit for people who came in earlier than other people. The paperwork hassle would be prohibitive to anybody having a good holiday!

          New Years Eve is pretty much the same, although that’s usually 3 or 4pm, that one.

          1. straws

            Makes sense. That’s how we currently handle it as well. I’ve always thought of it in terms of being able to meet a requirement that no one has to work the evening before the holiday and not that we’re providing “extra” PTO. If your schedule ends early or you already took off, then the requirement was already met. I have an earlier schedule, so I rarely benefit from closing early. I’m never bothered by it, so I always wonder if my explanation is enough for those who are. I really like a lot of your wording, so I may be updating my response in the coming weeks! Thanks for the response :)

          2. TootsNYC

            I’d like that–because I’d be saying, “well, I’ll work that day instead of taking a vacation day, and if I get the free time off, I win the gamble. But if I lose, I haven’t wasted my PTO.”

            also, i find that if a manager is generally fair with her people, and tosses some perqs around, or lets people go early, there is normally a way to make it up to the person who got stuck there until closing. And if the relationship is good, there will probably be a couple of workers who will VOLUNTEER to be the last man out, because they want to be kind to their colleagues, or to their boss, or because they’re a professional. Or because they know that there will be something good coming for them later. (Like, they can say one day, “I stayed later than everyone else on Christmas Eve, so I’d like to come in a little later today; I need to run by the bank after it opens.” And they can be confident this will be well received.)

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

              This.

              Some days we might ask a couple of people skeleton staff phones until the end so everybody else can go. And we take care of them later. (Not Christmas Eve though. We want to get everybody out if at all possible.)

        2. Chinook

          “Just out of curiosity, how do you handle that last point (the earlier workers and vacation day takers)? We have that same issue, and I don’t feel like we’ve ever been able to address it in a satisfactory way…”

          Every place I have ever worked at have pointed out that there is no guarantee that those working Dec. 24th and Dec. 31st will be guaranteed to be let go early. If you decide to work that day or you come in early, you are gambling that you can go home early without costing you PTO time. But, if you want to be guaranteed to be home before quitting time, then you need to pay the price of a PTO day.

          1. straws

            This is a valid reason, and one that I’ve successfully used with some people. Others though… I swear they’re more concerned with “stumping” us than having an actual problem with the practice.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian

              That’s irritating. At some point the ceaseless lobbying gets old, and a manager just has to say, “Well, Sophronia, those are the rules. Either take your chances on whether we’ll shut down early on Christmas eve, or use a vacation day for a guaranteed day off.”

        3. Mindy

          For us, if you take the day, you take the day. No credit back for hours that other people get. This fits in-line with the policy that you are responsible for you and shouldn’t compare what you get with what others get.

          Regarding the time off early – sometimes, we close at a set time, and that means that some people will work more hours than others. Other times, people get a certain amount of hours back (so everyone gets to leave 2 hours early, whatever that means for your schedule).

    10. Mike C.

      Being properly staffed isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.

      To be so cheap as to be unwilling to scale up your workforce to need increased demand from customers is the epitome of short-term thinking.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

        Okay but there’s a zillion reasons, besides cheapness, for under staffing to happen. IDK that chronic under staffing, as a business plan, is the number one reason that under staffing occurs.

        It is hard, very hard, keep a business right staffed with fully trained employees. You need to be very liquid, be in a business with a generous gross margin, and possess a crystal ball so you can pinpoint accurately project incoming customer and work volume.

        It’s hard! (This is coming from a woman who apparently over staffed this holiday season and is staring pretty miserably at some budget numbers atm.)

        1. Mike C.

          I can’t say whether it’s the number one reason, but I can point to a lot of places that where this technique is ordered from on high while the underlings are supposed to just “make it work”, to the detriment of things like customer service.

          1. Biff

            I experience this often in retail. One of my favorite stores is chronically, horribly understaffed. They need to cut the sales, bump the merch quality and have one more person on shift to keep their newer clientele.

          2. Ask a Manager Post author

            Sure, but sometimes people have very black and white thinking on this (“if you’re under-staffed, it’s always a big problem with management”) and it’s not always the case. It’s worth allowing for nuance as you think about this.

        2. Beezus

          Sure, but centering your leave-early culture norms around the notion that other teams might be understaffed kind of speaks to chronic understaffing, doesn’t it?

          I switched last year from a team that was chronically understaffed with huge morale and turnover issues, to one with adequate staffing and cross-training. My old team could not get internal hires for love nor money – everyone knew it was a grueling job with terrible hours, sink-or-swim training, and no work/life balance. Their performance reflects their inability to make good hires and keep people. My new team can attract, keep, and grow good people, and we’re one of the top teams in a good-size company. I would hate to see one of our company leaders dictate that teams like my new one need to downgrade work/life balance so people on teams like my old one don’t feel resentment. If working conditions across the company were like my old team, we wouldn’t be able to attract good talent overall, and our ability to serve and keep our customers and stay in business would suffer as a result. Focusing on fixing the real problems is better than making sure the areas where things are working well don’t get too far ahead, IMO.

    11. Erin

      I have to disagree on the other departments not having the luxury. So what?

      I’m a receptionist part of my time at work, and this means I have to be chained to a desk. I can’t do things like use the restroom when I want, or have earphones in, even though literally everyone else in the office has these “luxuries.”

      It isn’t a slam on me, and I don’t feel like they’re getting unjustified perks – it just is what it is. I’d pee when I want to and listen to earphones all the time if I could. Different people, different positions, different needs. In this case, different departments.

    12. Dr. Johnny Fever

      It troubles me (as a manager) that this scenario OP describes doesn’t resonate.

      There are two types of fairness – equality and equity.

      Those who practice equality apply fairness to all individuals consistently, regardless of circumstance. All share equally regardless of effort

      Those who practice equity apply fairness to individuals based on their direct contributions. People get perks because they have earned those perks through performance.

      OP attempted equity in a culture where other teams may practice equality. That’s not a dealbreaker, but requires communication and understanding. If this is the first time done, it can be a shock, and OP and her Manager need to have a discussion over which types of fairness they employ. Once they get on the same page, they canwork out how to handle this in the future.

      In a management setting, it’s important to recognize this dichotomy. You may find yourself in a funny position like OP’s without considering both sides and the effects of each application.

      1. neverjaunty

        You’re begging the question a bit here; structuring it as rewarding effort vs. uniformity seems to slant the issue in favor of the former, and ignores other factors like job duties (e.g. the receptionist doesn’t have the same time flexibility as the IT manager) or business necessity. Certainly, different office cultures can affect these in different ways, but it seems a lot more complex an issue than “Department A gets to leave early because they worker harder and earned it” vs. “All departments leave at the same time no matter what”.

        Also, admittedly, I am always a little leery of the ‘equity’ explanation because, like ‘culture fit’, it’s a theoretically neutral construct that can mask a lot of favoritism and bad behavior. What happens when Wakeen is “a better performer” because he gets more than his share of plum assignments, or because his tasks are more easily quantifiable than Fergus’s, or because Wakeen’s manager spends more time with him than others and so has a better idea of his performance?

        1. Dr. Johnny Fever

          I can see that read. I was mainly looking at John Cosmo, who seemed to be taking a purely equality tack.

          I was giving basic definitions for the concepts, but you are right. These are not easy to identify and apply. The meaning comes from the team, the work, the dynamics among other groups and systems, dependencies, etc.

          All things being even, if OP’s group finished their work and met their goals and could not contribute to other work, it’s fine for them to leave given an equal culture. If the culture is a cross-trained culture, and these individuals are now expected to pitch in and help others finish, then leaving is a bad call since this is now an equitable culture.

          Equity, IMO, must always be objective. I reward based on results. So I would be able to justify Wakeen’s performance and assignments based on his results just as I would for Fergus. This also puts the onus on me to help each person gain equity, just like investing sweat equity in a house, by having conversation, giving feedback, and presenting challenges for the team to gain these skills equally and gain equity individually.

          And yes, sometimes, job duties preclude certain equitable perks, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be creative by offering other incentives for recognition that work within the structure.

          It’s hard to talk about these items in isolation because they are part of a whole machine, but equal treatment and expectations can lead to equitable recognition for individuals and occasional equal recognition for all. They aren’t mutually exclusive but are directly attainable.

    13. Ankh-Morpork

      This kind of Everyone must be treated equally thinking can make things much worse though. At my Job something came up and one big department had to work through (what was previously) a paid holiday. So the management decided that it would only be fair to that department if EVERYONE in the company had to work that holiday. Everyone in the company had to come in on a day that we thought we had off two days ago – and had almost nothing to do because most other businesses were closed. I could not possibly understate how much resentment we felt. Moral took a huge nosedive and we lost several good people in the next few months. You’ve got to take it to account different circumstances.

      1. Manager George Knox

        That’s possibly the worst way to go about it of all the ways I’ve seen here. Revoking PTO, paying people for not working, the morale nosedive you mentioned… What was the upside here??

    14. Erin

      “It really can cause morale issues if people see one department getting a perk that their own manager isn’t offering.”

      That literally makes me think of gradeschool.

      Why does Mrs. Smith give her students cupcakes when Mrs. Bumble doesn’t give us cupcakes, and Mrs. Smith even gave Jennifer an extra cupcake, even though Jennifer sucks and I happen to know she failed the spelling test, when I did really great on my spelling test, and where is my darn cupcake.

  4. ohhello

    #2 The same thing happened at my work the day after thanksgiving. This is in retail, and for some reason one manager let half her team leave early, on the biggest day of the year, without checking. We often flow between departments, and could have really used those people elsewhere, but the this manager didn’t check in. It caused a lot of other employees to work harder than they should have and there was definitely resentment.

    OP2 definitely should have waited to get approval for this kind of decision, in my opinion.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      But, assuming that the OP’s staff members weren’t going to be called on to work in another department (which isn’t super common), that’s a pretty different situation than the OP’s.

    2. SL #2

      The OP didn’t give us context for her workplace, but retail operates much differently from an office setting. I would find it strange (and a huge red flag) if a department manager had to go and get approval from the big boss to let her team out two hours early before a major holiday…

      1. Jeanne

        It’s all company culture. At my last job my boss couldn’t let the 5 of us go home early the day before a holiday without VP approval. If the other groups under this VP needed to finish something then we couldn’t leave early even though our duties were separate and we worked in separate buildings. Some managers are control happy.

        1. BRR

          We had something similar at my last job where about 10% of the dept couldn’t leave early before certain holidays due to fiscal year and calendar year things. So nobody got to leave. But they made sure to replace those times with other early leave times.

        2. Kyrielle

          And at $PreviousJob, people in the home office got to leave 2-3 hours early, as the senior management called out “go home, switch to after-hours coverage only” before a major holiday. But, for several years, the first notice any of the satellite offices had was when the after-hours coverage phone rang (if it did) in the pocket/on the desk of someone who was still *at work*.

          After some complaining, and I think an issue where someone actually didn’t have the phone with them because they didn’t think it was in use yet, they started calling the satellite offices’ managers and giving them a heads-up that they could send the rest of us home.

      2. FiveWheels

        That doesn’t strike me as odd at all. Where I am, all the Big Bosses have to agree to let their departments out early. So there are four Big Bosses on our site, people won’t get let out early unless all four agree their staff can go.

        It causes huge morale problems if one secretary sees another secretary who sits five metres away being allowed to walk. Now that said, on a slow Friday, it’s not uncommon for people to down tools for an hour in the afternoon and chat. Everyone does it in the office though, and nobody would expect to be allowed home early.

    3. Erin

      I have to agree with Alison’s response – this situation likely isn’t applicable to the OP’s work dynamics. There was nothing to indicate the holidays are a busy time for them, which obviously would change things, nor is there any indication it’s retail (which is of course a whole different world with different workplace norms and needs).

  5. Observer

    #1 You need to let someone higher up know. This really speaks to incredibly bad judgement, and possibly real anger management issues. This is not sheepishly confessing to taking some pens home at his last job.

    1. snuck

      I would agree… I’d be telling someone somewhere depending on your hierarchy and work culture. Not to gossip or ‘tell on’ the new employee, but because if someone is gonna rage like this then there’s probably other behaviour issues too and it’s wise to be aware of them from the outset. I assume the new employee is on probation? And there might come a time at the end of probation where there’s a decision made whether to keep them on or not, and a minor event might be ignored, or placed in context with this information.

      As the manager of this new employee I’d definitely want to know they were capable of this kind of anger management issues and lack of self control.

    2. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

      OP, are you sure that this wasn’t exaggerating/making something up to explain a couple of days off of work? Something about the story seems… off to me. If you’re relatively confident that this is genuine, though, then yes, definitely pass it to a higher-up!

      1. Jeanne

        I do wonder why anyone would tell this story. Does he think you’re friends? Was he bragging? Has he shown any anger issues? I wouldn’t be at all sure what to do. I’m most confused by the cop appearing to shrug his shoulders. No ambulance called, no charges filed.

        And then what can the company do? How do they know it’s true? If it’s made up, does the OP or company have any liability?

        1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

          Yes – I know OP was paraphrasing a whole conversation, but it all just seems a bit odd. I mean, why would the police turn up a second time? Can you even take someone’s washing out and continue the cycle? (I’ve only ever known driers where it locks the door and that’s that)

          Given that this person apparently took two days off to move house, I can’t help wondering if they weren’t just trying to find a cover story to excuse themselves without getting into trouble for missing work – although then I’d be concerned that *this* is the story they came up with.

          1. Myrin

            I could generally think of someone making up a story to excuse the missing days but what you say in your last sentence is the reason I’m not inclined to do so here – he couldn’t have come up with anything else that paints him in a more flattering light? A family emergency? A sudden illness? Anything?

            Like others said, it would probably be helpful to know the circumstance in which he brought this up. If the context was talk of his missing days, then yes, it’s probably meant as an either true or bizarrely thought-out coverstory. If not – why disclose something like this in the first place? (I’m also not sure the OP even knew about the missing days – the way she writes it could easily mean this was the first time she’d heard of it, and if that were the case he really wouldn’t have to talk to her about that at all.)

          2. Mookie

            You can (with non-commercial washing machines), but it’s a gross and thankless task. I’ve… heard tell.

            1. Doriana Gray

              You can with some commercial machines too. My building has them and you absolutely can take someone’s clothes out, put yours in, close the door and then press the button for the dryer to kick back on (as long as the change/dry cycle time hasn’t run out).

              1. fposte

                Though some people also do freak out if their clothing is removed when the cycle is complete and they’re not around, which has been SOP in all the laundry rooms I know.

                1. Allison

                  To be fair, if someone took my stuff out within 5 minutes of the cycle ending I’d be a little peeved. We have in-building facilities and no one stays in the basement to babysit their laundry, it’s just expected they’ll keep and eye on the time and go down to take their stuff out in a timely manner, so I really wouldn’t move someone’s stuff out of a machine unless it’s been, I dunno, 15 minutes or so? But some people either forget their laundry or throw their stuff in the wash and then leave the building to run errands for hours, and then come back and wonder why their stuff’s been moved.

                2. fposte

                  And in all the buildings I’ve been in, when the cycle’s done it’s somebody else’s machine unless you’re there to renew; it’s like an office microwave.

                  This does seem to be a cultural divide, and I’ve run into people from one tradition who get really peeved because they don’t realize they’re in a place that operates on the other.

                3. Not the Droid You are Looking For

                  My building had an older gentleman who wouldn’t wait for the buzz to finish before pulling your clothes out of the dryer. If he was in a good mood, your clothes ended up on the table and if he was in a bad mood, it was the floor.

                  Everyone else in the building would give people a 5-10 minute grace period.

                4. Doriana Gray

                  Oh, I would be that person. I do not want people touching my clothes. This happened to me once in the four years I’ve lived in my building and after I had words with the offender, it never happened again. I literally came up to the laundry room five minutes after my wash cycle completed (had to wait for an elevator), and someone took my wet clothes out and sat them on the dirty countertop instead of putting them into one of the empty dryers. I almost lost my mind – we don’t touch other people’s things in our building. Apparently this person didn’t realize that.

                5. esra

                  Not the Droid: I would spitefully open the door to his drying cycle.

                  My building is pretty cool. If the cycle is over, and someone wants the machine, they just put your clothes on the side table available.

                6. Allison

                  Doriana, when I do move someone’s clothes out of the washer (and it do give them a nice grace period before I do this), they go right into an empty dryer. Unless both dryers are in use, in which case I leave and check back half an hour later. I’ve never put someone else’s clean clothes on a dirty surface.

                7. Kelly L.

                  @Allison, when you leave them in the dryer, are people able to find them? I might be unusually dense, but I think I’d panic that they were totally missing if they were in a dryer, while I’d find them right away on a table. I know they’re not perfectly clean, but I figure they get cleaned reasonably often.

                8. Allison

                  @Kelly L, I guess I’ve never thought about it. I leave the dryer door open and figure it shouldn’t take more than a minute or so for someone to realize that’s where their clothes are. And that moment of panic, while unpleasant, might motivate them to be more timely with their laundry next time.

                9. Elizabeth West

                  I don’t mind that, unless the person throws them on the floor, though I usually stay with my laundry. But I would be pissed if they stole my time. That’s just rude.

                10. Doriana Gray

                  @Allison – that’s very considerate. I’d still be annoyed that someone touched my things (since I don’t do that to other people), but would be less annoyed because at least the dryer isn’t a table where people sit their dirty laundry baskets that have been sitting on floors in their apartments (where I don’t know the cleanliness of same) or where they sort their soiled laundry that’s been God knows where. I’m a massive germaphobe so I freak out about stuff like that.

                11. snuck

                  It sounds like I’m in the minority? I’d hate to heffalump everything down to a laundry room to then have to sit for a grace period because I don’t know when that machine full of washed stuff finished… before I could with grace dump it on a table / in a dryer for someone to find and put my own stuff in…. Personally I see a machine that’s stopped? It’s stopped… and if there’s not an empty machine that’s reasonable (over time I’ve learnt some machines are harder on clothes than others) then I’m going to take the machine that’s stopped and dump the clothes… nicely… but out. I’m not going to sit and swing my legs for 10 minutes in case someone comes down.

                12. fposte

                  @snuck–that’s been the rule every laundry room I’ve been in. No keepsies once the cycle is over.

                13. DMented Kitty

                  I used to live in an apartment building with a laundry room available for tenants. I do pull out clothes that have been sitting in the washer/dryer for quite some time that have finished their cycles, but they have a folding table that I carefully placed their laundered items on. Or if they place the basket right on/in front of the washer/dryer I put the items in the basket.

                  For my own laundry I used a 1-hr kitchen timer – when I toss my clothes in I set the time, that way when it rings it reminds me I have something in the laundry room, especially if I have been doing other stuff and completely forgot until after an hour or so (which happened a few times, so I adopted the timer method). It also minimizes the chance of other people from touching my laundry once it’s done.

              2. themmases

                You definitely can. Every commercial dryer I’ve ever used, this would have been possible. My building has one washer that locks, but that’s because it’s a newer model that senses the load size. It unlocks at the end of the cycle in case any of your neighbors want to be rude and move your stuff 30 seconds after the washer stops.

          3. Julkaco

            The apartment building I lived in years ago had washers and dryers that were essentially residential models with coin boxes added. They did not lock during operation. There was one tenant, known only by her distinctive basket, who would regularly steal dryer time. She did it to me 2-3 times before I started bringing a lawnchair and book with me so I could guard my stuff.

            1. Bea W

              This baffles me. Stealing dryer time? How cheap does one have to be to make this worth while? Did shared coin-op laundry about 20 years before moving to a place where I have my own machines, and this practice is new to me!

              1. Three Thousand

                Yeah, I’m wondering who takes the risk of stealing maybe $1.25 at most. If you’re going to steal it should be worth the effort.

          4. I'm a Little Teapot

            Yes, you absolutely can steal dryer time! I’ve had someone take my still-wet clothes out of the dryer, leave them in a heap, and use the rest of the cycle for free. (I left a nasty note rather than punching the offender!)

            1. Kelly L.

              Yup.

              I’ve also had my clothes stolen out of the dryer–they stopped it mid-cycle and took out everything good, leaving behind my sweats and socks–and that’s why you should Never Ever go back to your room and fall asleep while drying your laundry in a dorm.

              1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

                We had an underwear thief in my freshman dorm. The perpetrator would open unmanned dryers and steal any pairs of underwear in the machine.

                1. Fish Microwaver

                  I too have been the victim of an underwear thief. All my smalls were taken from the washing line of my apartment block while I was at work. Apparently even Bono (from U2) has been the victim of underwear theft.

          5. Allison

            Yes you can. Front-loading washers do need to lock for obvious reasons, but top-loading washers and pretty much every commercial and non-commercial dryer I’ve used could be opened during the dry cycle.

            That said, thankfully, I’ve never known my neighbors to take someone’s stuff out of a machine during a cycle and put theirs in. We only do it when someone’s stuff has finished and they’re taking forever to come take it out or move it to the next machine.

          6. Artemesia

            I sure wouldn’t want to be working alone in the office with this guy or managing him when he thinks assault is something to ‘brag’ about or even talk about. Top loading washers and pretty much all dryers can be stopped and started — open the door and it stops and you can pull clothes out and put clothes in. A common cheat in apartment building laundry rooms is to throw your own clothes in with someone elses or as in this case, just steal their load by taking the wet ones out and putting yours in.

            This guy has bad judgment on two levels — assaulting someone over an issue like this (by reporting it, he might have gotten the other guy evicted instead of himself) and telling about it. If I did something scary and shameful like this, I’d be hoping to keep it as quiet as possible not spreading it around work.

            This guy sounds like a mine ready to go off any time someone steps on him.

            1. Bea W

              Seems I’m getting an education in the laundry room criminal underground today. Apparently I’ve been very fortunate to not encounter any of these people. I suppose it helps when you live in a small building or use a laundromat with an attendant.

          7. TootsNYC

            “Can you even take someone’s washing out and continue the cycle? (I’ve only ever known driers where it locks the door and that’s that)”

            That’s front-loading washers.

            I’ve never known a dryer that you -couldn’t- stop midcycle just by opening the door.
            That’s how you keep your stuff from getting fried–you can stop the machine and pull out just a few pieces, then let it start up again.

          8. Bea W

            And how was the guy not arrested? He assaulted a guy over laundry and knocked him out cold? The police come and don’t haul him off? Not sure where this happened, but here someone would have ended up in the back of a squad car.

          9. OriginalEmma

            I call shenanigans on the alleged instigator’s bad behavior. Really, drying on your dime? Did he SEE him take the clothes out and use the dryer? That’s pretty flagrant behavior. I bet what actually happened was that OP’s coworker left his wash unattended, the cycle finished, and another person removed the clothes because they needed the machine.

        2. Allison

          I mean, if he made it up to sound tough, that’s also questionable behavior. Who wants an employee who’s always telling stories about how he punched this and that guy for disrespecting him? That can really freak people out and make people wonder if this is his idea of “getting respect.” I’d still bring it to someone’s attention. And if he does get in trouble for what turns out to be made-up stories, maybe he’ll learn that, fiction or not, you shouldn’t be telling those stories at work.

        3. New Commenter

          It is weird. He called the police on himself, the police did nothing, and the unconscious victim woke up and returned to his apartment? No one but the landlord had any objections?

          If this employee is telling the truth, this is a fluorescent flag, and if he made up this elaborate and bizarre story, it’s nearly as bad. I would definitely tell someone higher up. Can you imagine if he did
          something either violent or dishonest at a later point at your worksite and you had kept this to yourself?

      2. RVA Cat

        The biggest thing that’s off is that the police come to find someone beaten unconscious and don’t immediately arrest your co-worker. Really sounds like macho posturing.

          1. fposte

            Tone deafness, maybe? A lot of Internet tough-guyism would make the speaker look like an ass at the workplace.

              1. JessaB

                Wasn’t it Presidential Candidate Ben Carson who did the same thing about knifing someone as a younger man? There seems to be a segment of people who do this for some reason, attention or seeming macho or something.

          2. Allison

            My guess is he wants to intimidate people and make people think they’d better show him some respect, or else.

              1. Allison

                I agree, even if someone is all bark and no bite, I would feel very uncomfortable working with someone like this.

          3. INTP

            Could he be from a background where punching a guy over a disagreement is basic machismo and not alarming violence? And have no idea that most people don’t share that view?

            Of course, I still wouldn’t want to be at a happy hour with someone who thinks that, but I’m from a background where physical fighting is not really a thing that is considered normal so I don’t know what the consensus would be here.

            1. Graciosa

              I too come from a background where physical fighting is not normal. An occasional unpleasant necessity for those in the military or law enforcement, but never something anyone would brag about to a co-worker.

              Ironically, I would choose this as pretty much the bottom of the list of things you could share to increase the respect in which you are held at work. This demonstrated absolutely no attempt to resolve the problem personally, legally, or using the chain of command. Violence was treated as the first and only option.

              Anyone who imagines that knocking a person out is somehow “winning” is not going to get my respect.

            2. mull

              It wasn’t a disagreement; it was theft. Why this guy is talking about it is strange, but I can see why he wasn’t arrested: one guy stole from another, an argument got heated, and a fight ensued. The thief bit off more than he could chew and probably thought he could get away with stealing by depending on the meekness of strangers.

              1. INTP

                It was a theft of what, $1 worth of laundry time? (And I’d be curious to know if he confirmed it was theft before punching the guy, rather than the laundry machine not getting his clothes dry in one cycle or not starting correctly when he pressed the button – both of which happened frequently in my last building.) Not that it is right by any means, that would piss me off too. But it is frightening to have to work with someone that considers $1 worth physical violence. People feel cheated over disagreements about work and time off and promotions and such, probably much more than $1 worth of cheated – is he going to get violent over that too?

                1. mull

                  Then don’t fight people when they steal from you. But someone who stands up to a thief, however small the theft, has solid ground to stand on. People who commit small antisocial acts count on the idea that the magnitude of the transgression will excuse their lousy behavior.

                  Since we’re supposed to agree in general on the facts as presented in letters, I’ll take the OP at his or her word that the events unfolded as claimed and not get into malfunctioning laundry equipment.

                2. Kelly L.

                  We’re supposed to take OPs at their word. That doesn’t mean we need to take everyone that an OP talks to at their word too.

                3. Liz in a Library

                  People are not on solid ground when they escalate to assault in response to the theft of a dollar. That is not standing up for yourself; it’s committing a further (and more serious in degree) crime.

              2. neverjaunty

                Yeah, seriously, no. There’s a lot of room for confronting someone who stole a dollar’s worth of quarters beyond physical violence. You’re inventing a fantasy here of the OP’s employee taking a heroic moral stance.

                1. Myrin

                  Seriously. As if “standing up to a thief” weren’t too exaggerated a description for this guy’s behaviour to begin with, “standing up to someone” doesn’t mean “punching them in the face”. (I mean, I can imagine scenarios where it’s entirely understandable to punch a thief, like, someone is trying to snatch your purse from you and lash out, but that is not even in the same realm as this situation. Nevermind that “thief” isn’t a word I’d use in this context anyway.) Also, the violence wasn’t a reaction to the “theft” itself but to something the other guy said. So that argument doesn’t have a leg to stand on anyway.

              3. Katniss

                This attitude, that physical violence is a justified response to something like this, is part of the problem.

                Physical violence is absolutely not justified when someone steals a dollar from you. Hell, I’d say it’s not justified unless you’re defending yourself.

              1. Bea W

                That’s fascinating. I wonder if I hadn’t come from a white-collar family if I would have not figured this out. Where I grew up settling differences with violence was normal, and being tough was something to aspire to.

                My father, his family back through his grandfather were all educated professionals. My grandmothers were scrappy gals from poor immigrant families. At least one of them got into a physical altercation at work (back in the days when children quit school and worked in factories) and whose advice to me was “When someone hits you, hit them back.” (Got me in a heep of trouble with with the neighbor’s mom and my mother! Boy was I confused.) I even had a teacher who insisted I hit a boy who had just hit me. She took us out into the hall and told me to slap him back. I didn’t want to hit anyone, but she physically took my hand and slapped him in the face (very lightly) with it.

                Yeh…I can totally see missing the whole concept of “violence is not allowed at work”.

                1. Observer

                  There is a difference between teaching a kid to HIT BACK and HIT FIRST. It’s quite possible to allow or even encourage the idea that “if someone hits you, you should hit back” without encouraging being the one to hit – even when someone says something you really don’t like.

                2. fposte

                  But “hit back” isn’t allowed in a lot of workplaces and, by law, in many states. Self-defense, sure, but hitting somebody because they hit you, no. That’s something that a lot of people don’t learn as they grow up, and it’s a real shock to find out that you don’t get to punch him just because he punched you.

                3. Observer

                  @fpost, I get that. My point is, though, that while the upbringing @Bea W described might easily lead you to miss the fact that only true self defense is generally acceptable in most work places, it shouldn’t lead you to think it’s ok to throw the first punch.

              2. I'm a Little Teapot

                I’m having trouble imagining a job where violence is allowed. I’ve worked office jobs, retail, a factory floor, and a few other settings, including immensely dysfunctional small businesses, and I’m pretty sure that if you punched someone at any of them you would have been gone.

            1. RVA Cat

              Quick way for OP #1 to tell – what do his hands look like? If he really did all this macho pugilism I’d expect him to still have swollen & maybe split knuckles, plus I’d imagine the other guy would have gotten some punches in on him.

        1. Observer

          By the way, according to the story, the guy woke up and was able to go back to his apartment. So, it’s quite possible that the police decided that if the victim didn’t want to press charges they were not going to push the issue.

          There are plenty of police (either individual, station houses or departments), is not necessarily going to get an arrest happening, even with the perpetrator present.

      3. INTP

        I agree that it sounds fishy, but I don’t think that affects whether the OP should tell the higher ups. The burden of figuring out whether the story is true isn’t on the person you tell, or anyone else really. If you say something so alarming about yourself, expect people to act as if they believe you. I wouldn’t tell if I knew with certainty that it is false, but if there is just a chance it is false, the OP doesn’t owe him secrecy whatsoever.

        Maybe this is a little extreme but I would want to fire this person. I think having him on staff, if the story might be true, is putting the other employees at risk. Think about it – things happen in the course of a few years at a job that piss you off as much as having some laundry quarters stolen, and this person will be at happy hours, holiday parties, maybe working late with few people around, with those coworkers who might have pissed him off (rightly or wrongly). It’s not fair to other employees to have them work with someone who thinks violence is an acceptable solution to anger without warning them to protect themselves.

        1. FiveWheels

          I think it’s a wild over reaction to fire someone because they hit someone and the police didn’t want to press charges. I can think of many reasons why throwing a punch would be understandable, and many reasons why it would be crazy. Without evidence it really happened, context for the conversation with colleague, and actual details of the altercation, it’s not a fireable offence.

          1. Graciosa

            I disagree.

            To be fair, however, I am a professional and we are engaged for our judgment.

            Throwing a punch – *never* the first – because someone else started a physical attack would be accepted. That’s about it, however, and that’s not the story that was related, here.

            Even assuming nothing happened, and this guy made the story up entirely, doing so – and sharing it with a co-worker – demonstrates some pretty bad judgment.

            If this (the lie, with no physical altercation at all) happened on my team, it would be a difficult call, mostly because we’re a big believer in coaching and setting clear expectations. But I don’t know if you can really coach someone out of this kind of instinct, and I really wouldn’t want him on my team.

            Hitting someone other than in defense of self or others would be a no-brainer by comparison. We don’t need that.

            1. mull

              I’d maybe consider firing the guy if he were lying about all of this since lying at work is clearly weird, and more importantly, it’s a transgression at work.

              Punching someone who stole from you–all outside work–doesn’t seem like a big deal to me as a concern for the workplace. Theft itself is an act of violence–or at least an act predicated on the threat of violence wherein the victim is dared to stand up for him- or herself–and the conditions of the violence here don’t indicate that someone would always ramp up mere “disagreements” into slugfests.

              1. RVA Cat

                I could see that if his actual clothes were stolen, but the theft of a dollar or two for the dryer does not warrant assaulting somebody.

                I don’t think you need to fire him for this, but I can see you having to later because if his story is true, he may well have to spend a while in the county lockup.

                1. Allison

                  he didn’t just assault someone for stealing a couple bucks, he assaulted the guy because he “said something he didn’t like.” reminds me of when I informed someone he’d cut me in line at the grocery store; his cutting me didn’t really make me that mad, but his comment about me “having a cow” when all I did was tell him he’d cut in front of me set me off, and that’s when things escalated to an argument that led to him calling me a b*tch several times (still don’t know how deserved it was). I didn’t hit him or anything, but I can definitely see how words can escalate a situation from “hey, that wasn’t very nice” to a full blown fight.

                  Still, I stick by my other comments, the kind of guy who gets into fights like that where he hits people who disrespect him, and then brags about it at work, isn’t someone I’d want to have working for me.

                2. Spiky Plant

                  But it’s not really the theft of $1 in quarters. It’s the fact that there’s a laundry-time-stealing-jerk in your apartment building, and he will continue stealing laundry time from you and everyone else unless confronted. It’s either confrontation, or deal with the fact that your laundry time might get stolen for the entire rest of the time you live there.

                  Once a confrontation happens, there are tons of scenarios where it might come to blows, some of which might be the new hire’s fault, some of which fall to the thief, and some of which where both would be to blame. I don’t fault the new hire for confronting the guy one bit, so I’d need way more details about the ensuing fight to determine if anyone else might be in danger of getting punched.

              2. Kelly L.

                I feel like it was an overreaction to the level of the theft, though. This was the theft of a laundry cycle–generally about $1.50, I think? And I don’t think the thief was trying to threaten bodily harm to the co-worker. The thief wasn’t even the one who escalated to the physical.

                (And depending on how long the co-worker was gone from the laundry room, he might even have been mistaken. In some communal living situations I’ve experienced, it was common practice to take the previous person’s laundry out if the cycle finished while they were gone, because there were so few machines. And of course sometimes you’re wrong in your estimate of how many quarters you need to dry the stuff, so the laundry still being wet isn’t watertight proof.)

                1. fposte

                  Yup. Even if he’s right, it’s not worth assaulting somebody over, and if he’s wrong, he’s a guy who assaults people groundlessly.

                  And, as Graciosa notes below, he’s a guy who thinks this story makes him look good either way. And either way, it makes him look like an ass.

                2. INTP

                  Exactly. I can think of a myriad of things people commonly feel cheated about at work that far surpass $1.50 worth of cheating. What’s he going to do to the guy who he thinks stole his promotion, the manager that “stole” his PTO by requiring him to use it when he’d worked extra at another point, the coworker that stole his parking spot and forced him to be late? Someone that will knock another human into unconsciousness over a few quarters and then talk about it as though it was an understandable reaction is not someone I want to work with.

              3. neverjaunty

                What? No, theft isn’t automatically ‘an act of violence’ or with violence assumed. You’re really stretching to make excuses for this guy and lionize his actions, over what was actually “some guy took my clothes out of the dryer early”.

              4. Lindsay J

                He didn’t steal the dude’s car or his tv or his laptop though.

                He stole dryer time.

                Now, I’ve been in a situation where that $1.00 for drying my clothes was all I had in my budget to dry them for the week. However, if someone took my clothes out of the dryer or something I would definitely be annoyed, but I wouldn’t resort to physical violence.

                Starting a physical altercation over +/- $1 shows a huge lapse in judgement and would absolutely make me question whether the employee would escalate workplace disagreements to violence.

                FWIW I would also be concerned about someone who I knew to have stolen laundry money.

            2. Observer

              Even assuming nothing happened, and this guy made the story up entirely, doing so – and sharing it with a co-worker – demonstrates some pretty bad judgment.

              Exactly.

            3. FiveWheels

              This is probably far too late to get an answer – but if a woman working for you found out her boyfriend had been cheating, and slapped him, not on work premises, would that be enough to fire her?

              If an employee was subject to bullying/harassment from a neighbour, and the neighbour upped the ante by mocking the employee’s disabled relative, and the employee threw a punch – is that a fireable offence?

              If two people were arguing, and one things got heated, is the first one to make it physical the one who should get fired – or the one who is manipulative enough to use enough bigoted language to provoke the other while pretending to stay cool?

              If someone deliberately kills your cat and laughs about it, and you respond with physical aggression, is it reasonable to lose your job?

              If you have a best friend since childhood and you sometimes physically fight but then make up, do you need to apply for unemployment?

              There are LOTS of reasons why punching someone could be reasonable and justifiable. I don’t know if that’s the case here, but the idea that a punch is automatic grounds for dismissal regardless of context is way out there.

              1. Observer

                First of all, no one was assuming that the story teller should automatically be fired. Secondly, the situation described doesn’t come CLOSE to the kinds of extreme scenarios you described. Thirdly, I can’t imagine any person with sense volunteering this information at work.

          2. INTP

            But he shared his reason for punching the guy – the OP doesn’t need to speculate over whether it’s maybe understandable. At worst, he punched the guy because the laundry machine malfunctioned or failed to get things dry in one cycle (which is standard, ime) and he assumed the guy stole his dryer time. At best, he punched a guy INTO UNCONSCIOUSNESS over stealing a few quarters worth of dryer time. And it happened recently, and he thinks it was justifiable enough to share at work when he could easily just say “There was an issue with the apartment and we had to make a last-minute move,” which tells me he’d punch someone again. And if he does that over a few quarters, what might he do to the coworker he feels “stole” his promotion?

            Whether it really happened or not is kind of beside the point, imo. This isn’t a rumor, it’s something he said. It’s not unfair to him to take it at face value. If I knew for a fact it didn’t happen, I wouldn’t treat it as a violence issue, but I also don’t think they owe it to the employee to spend a lot of time and energy figuring it out, and if there is any question at all, they should assume he was telling the truth.

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          Even aside from whether it’s putting coworkers at actual risk, it’s putting coworkers in a position where they may feel fearful of this guy/worry about how he’ll react if they do something he doesn’t like, and that’s a real problem for constructive work relationships.

          1. INTP

            That’s a good point. He could even already be telling peer-level coworkers stories like this, leading them to be a bit frightened of him without feeling comfortable telling a manager about it, or they could find out some other way, creating morale and relationship problems whether it’s true or not.

      4. Observer

        The thing here is that it’s still incredibly bad judgement. Why would anyone think that this is a good story to make up about himself? It also makes him look like a serious liar.

        So, either they guy punched someone out and doesn’t think that this is something he should avoid telling people. OR This guy needed to take off work at the beginning of his employment, and because he doesn’t have a good reason for that, he lies and claims that he punched someone out for saying something he doesn’t like.

        Either way, this is someone who I really would want to keep an eye on.

        1. voyager1

          LW1: I call BS to the story you were told except the part the new guy getting evicted.

          As for telling upper level management, what would you tell them and what would you expect them to do with that knowledge?!?!

          1. Dr. Johnny Fever

            OP wrote what she was told. She asked for advice. Try offering her some instead of berating her for asking.

          2. OfficePrincess

            What would OP tell them? “Hey boss, New Guy bragged to me about assaulting someone. The incident didn’t happen at work, but I’m uncomfortable around someone who thinks this is a good reaction to being told something he doesn’t like. I thought that you should know in case you’re seeing any other concerning signs”.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Well, no, she’d say what I wrote in the post: “I thought this was an alarming story and I feel uncomfortable keeping it to myself in case it fits part of a larger pattern.”

              1. voyager1

                AAM and others, I get what you all are saying, but I am serious. What outcome do you think is appropriate. It just seems that a lot of the advice on here with this question is, tell upper management to wash your hands of it.

                What if upper management said the same thing I wrote earlier. I have had managers that way. If you had a problem you needed to have a possible solution. I see zero solutions offered so far. And yes the new guy with this story made his own grave, but if you as a manager are going to act on it, you might want to do more then just pass it up the chain to get it off your desk. If you feel threatened then communicate that.

                1. LisaLee

                  There are situations were no immediate action needs to be taken. In this situation, the manager/boss/etc just needs to keep an eye on this guy. He doesn’t need to be fired or reprimanded or whatever right now. But telling your coworker that you assaulted another person (whether or not the story is true) is concerning behavior that can affect one’s work.

                2. OfficePrincess

                  Having the manager monitor the situation and, depending on their discretion, talk to the new guy about it is really all the situation needs at this point. Those are things a manager can do that a coworker can’t.

                3. neverjaunty

                  You pass it up the chain so people up the chain know about it, and so you don’t get blamed for not passing on relevant information if Fergus becomes a problem at work.

                  How many times have we read incidents where somebody reports that a co-worker is a problem, and it turns out that many, many other people have run into that same problem, but never reported it because “I assumed it was just me”?

              2. OfficePrincess

                Yes, yours was definitely better. Apparently it took me too long to scroll the comments and I missed details.

      5. neverjaunty

        Yes, it does, and honestly the thing that stood out to me is “I got evicted the next day”. At least in the US, it’s rarely possible for that to happen – to evict a tenant you have to go through certain legal procedures, you can’t just tell them they have to be moved out the next day.

        1. fposte

          Oh, that’s an interesting point. Though illegal evictions are pretty common, I imagine they’re more common in small owner-occupied places that wouldn’t have a laundry room.

          1. neverjaunty

            Honestly, even taking into account that OP is paraphrasing, none of this story makes a lot of sense. The employee punched a guy hard enough to knock him unconscious, the police show up and don’t care, the guy he beat up apparently doesn’t care because he goes home, the girlfriend calls the police and building management, and then next thing that happens is the employee is homeless?

        2. TootsNYC

          well, only if you fight it out.

          Your landlord can physically say to you, “I want you out. Now.” He can physically change the locks on the door.

          He may not be making a legal request–but then you have to take him to court to enforce the contract (or the municipal law). That’s time and energy.

          Lots of people would just say, “Screw it,” and move right away. Especially if he’s going to have to live in the same complex as the guy who stole his laundry time, gave him attitude about it when confronted, and got in a shoving match with him, and whom he punched and knocked out, and whose girlfriend is pissed as hell….it’s easier and calmer to just go.

          1. neverjaunty

            No, not only if you fight it out.

            If your landlord says “I want you out tomorrow” and you say “That’s ridiculous, I can’t pack, find a new place to live, and move all my stuff in 24 hours, I’m not moving”, your landlord is pretty SOL and she knows it. Yes, she can change the locks – which is massively illegal, and sets the landlord up for a world of hurt right away, because for starters you could just call a locksmith and let yourself back in. (And if the landlord tried to interfere, well, you can prove you have a right to live there, so they can’t really stop you.)

            I mean, yes, we can invent a scenario where the landlord hired underworld muscle to illegally fling this guy out in the street with the clothes on his back, or he lived in some remote and unusual exception to the usual laws about eviction, or maybe his landlord slapped a Notice to Quit on his apartment the next day, and he just abandoned his other two roommates immediately. But “I got evicted the next day” sounds very, very weird to me.

              1. neverjaunty

                Yes, and to break the lease, the landlord needs to actually evict the tenant, which involves more than just darkly warning them to go and never darken the doorstep again. From your own link: “A landlord must first send the tenant a notice stating that the tenancy has been terminated. State laws set out very detailed requirements as to how a landlord must write and deliver (serve) a termination notice.”

                Now, it could be that by “evicted” the employee meant only that he had a proactive landlord, got a notice on his door the next day, and needs to find a new place to live because he has to be out by the end of the month, but as phrased it sounds… a little at odds with how the real world works, let’s put it that way.

        3. BuildMeUp

          Well, I could see this happening if the OP’s coworker simply didn’t know his legal rights in terms of eviction. Some people don’t know that a landlord can’t just kick you out immediately and wouldn’t know to fight it. It’s also possible that the eviction was in lieu of charges being pressed, although now I’m getting too far into speculation! My point is, just because the eviction would be illegal doesn’t mean that the coworker would know that and would choose to fight it.

          1. neverjaunty

            Well, sure, it’s not impossible. It’s just a little improbable (again, assuming the US), especially in the context of this ‘there I was, in the laundry room’ yarn.

          2. Lindsay J

            Even if you do know your rights it’s such a huge pain anyway that as long as you will not be literally living on the streets sometimes it is easier to just let it go than it is to fight.

            (My last landlord illegally evicted me and threw out all my belongings. When I called the cops they didn’t take it seriously. I could have sued, but honestly with having to dig up receipts, records, etc I didn’t have the time and energy to do it.)

        4. INTP

          Is it possible for a restraining order to force someone to move when the holder of the restraining order lives in the same building? Just a thought, I have no idea how they work off of TV.

    3. Nerdling

      In addition, whether the story is true or not, this is something the employee chose to reveal about himself while barely knowing the OP at all. If it’s made up and he goes without having the sheer lack of professionalism of his behavior explained to him, what if he decides it’s the sort of story to tell clients? This is the sort of behavior that could have a pretty negative impact on the business itself, regardless of the story’s validity.

    4. Liz

      This sounds a lot like my call center job. Lots of tales of drunk driving, beating children (with objects), chasing people through the projects with a bat, and slashing ex-girlfriends’ tires. The higher-ups hired a bunch of temps who traded tales of cursing out customers in previous jobs. I didn’t trust anyone in that place.

  6. Sherm

    #3 My organization holds regular walk-in meetings for a type of position that is hard to fill. I guess they figure that people will be more inclined to be interviewed if they can pop in whenever it’s convenient for them (within walk-in hours). The unspoken understanding is that you really do need to be qualified, and you would be politely shown the door if you were not.

  7. Juli G.

    OP2, unless there is more that’s been omitted, don’t think of this as “getting in trouble”. It sounds like you did something outside of your manager’s expectations so he had a conversation with you to clarify what those expectations are and why. It’s okay that you don’t agree but it sounds like it was handled correctly.

  8. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

    #3 – Please go, and report back on how on earth this works! I am so, so curious right now.

    1. Spiky Plant

      Yes! I could easily see this as being something totally fine and maybe even good, and only weird because it’s Generally Not Done.

  9. Mando Diao

    OP2: I wonder if the situation would have played out if you hadn’t allowed your employees to put in for two hours they hadn’t worked. Are these employees non-exempt? Because if I were working at your company and in another department, the two free hours of pay would bother me more than having to be there a few hours longer. The time is perhaps a reasonable perk, but an inflated paycheck IMO isn’t something that a manager can promise without permission, and I’d wonder if this is the sticking point for your boss: that he has to pay people for time they haven’t worked, and possibly anticipating that other employees will want “bonuses” as well.

    1. Fish Microwaver

      I used to work third shift at a place where on Christmas day, the second shift was allowed to come in an hour late and first shift was allowed to go home an hour early, all with management approval and full hours paid. No such thing for third shift though. It caused a lot of bad feeling amongst third shifters but went on anyway. There were very few perks in that job.

      1. Mando Diao

        It would be different if it was just a departmental scheduling quirk or if the OP had given her team gifts that she paid for herself, but IMO the more I think about it, the more it seems really out of line to promise people more money in their paychecks without asking permission first. If I were the boss, I’d be pretty upset about it. I would have to decide whether to not pay out that money, or to give every other employee a two-hour bonus. The sticking point is that this perk isn’t coming from the OP and ending there. This is something that is going to end up coming from her boss (he signs the paychecks, after all), and it’s 100% correct if her boss doesn’t want to appear to be giving extra bonuses to one team when it hasn’t been warranted by a specific project or success.

        1. Cheeto

          At the last job I had, on Christmas Eve, it turned out the building was closing at 8, so our second shift workers who came in at 3 would have to leave three hours early and we’re going to be paid for those hours because it wasn’t their fault they couldn’t work. What this apparently meant was that the first shift people could also leave three hours early and be paid for the full eight–except they didn’t tell us until we’d already worked six and a half hours. We got a “Sorry, forgot to tell you. You can go now.” and no bonus or extra pay. That unfortunately is how it goes sometimes.

        2. Sunflower

          I’m non-exempt in a standard office desk job and work a full week every week(35 hours at my company). I don’t clock in or out and if i am not going to work the 35 hours, it’s expected I will use PTO to fill in the gaps. My paycheck is the same every week unless I work overtime. Even though I’m technically hourly, my company budgets me by annual salary so they are already expecting me to pay me for a full 35 hours every week. So when I got to leave 2 hours early on Wednesday and only worked 33 hours, my company didn’t have to find the money to pay me. I get what you’re saying but if this is the situation, then it’s really just a perk that you gave the employees who would probably be sitting around twiddling their thumbs for 2 hours

    2. Aussie academic

      At the university where I work, an email is sent around in the morning of Christmas Eve telling all staff that they can head home at midday unless they have essential tasks (eg security) to do (& we get paid for the whole day). It’s one of the great perks of the place (plus we get the days between Christmas and New Years off fully paid, without having to use our leave, as the university shuts down during this time). I’m not sure how the Christmas Eve afternoon time off works for staff with essential tasks though; maybe they can take the time off at another time? I know that’s what they do for the days between Christmas and New Years. It would be a bit unfair if they just miss out.

      1. CMT

        We had the same email go out where I work last year. I think if people could not go home for some reason, their supervisors had discretion to count it as kind of informal comp time to be used at a later date.

      2. Cassie

        We get out at 3pm on days before major holidays – the Dean’s office sends out an email about a week in advance. Staff usually leave between 4pm and 5pm so some people are getting 2 hours off while others are getting 1 hr or 1.5 hrs.

        My former supervisor used to let me leave whenever I wanted (with pay) on the day before Thanksgiving – she usually didn’t come in on the day anyway. I remember one year, she called me at about 10am and told me to go home. When I told her I had to go pick up some gadget for a professor, she told me that could wait until the next week. (I still stuck around and finished my tasks, though – I don’t go out of town for Thanksgiving anyway, so leaving ~30 minutes early would be enough of a perk for me).

    3. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

      I can see your reasoning, but I can also see reasoning behind OP’s stance. You don’t want to offer everyone the chance to go home early but then have Jane having to stay in the office on her own for two hours because she can’t afford to lose two hours’ pay or holiday – and if they’re able and allowed to come in early to get work done, I would suspect that they haven’t so much gained pay as not lost holiday for those two hours. I think if you’re going to offer the perk you have to offer it without employees then losing something for taking it (particularly where it’s a reward for getting all the work done – “you worked really hard today, well done for getting everything done early, now we can pay you less” doesn’t really motivate people to do well) but I can also see where this would gall other departments too.

      1. Mando Diao

        I’m not arguing that the employees might not deserve the money. My point is that it’s not OP’s place as a manager to make decisions about pay without checking first.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          Well, it depends on the company. In some companies something like that would need to be approved at the highest levels, but in my experience managers are responsible for the productivity and budget for their area.

          But more importantly, the OP stated that they were reprimanded solely based on the fact that they gave something to their employees that others didn’t get, there was no mention made of unauthorized labor costs.

    4. themmases

      No, this perk as described is common and not controversial unless there is some reason workers still have to be there. I’ve received it as an hourly or salaried employee and it is really not a big deal. In fact, this is so common that it’s probably one reason many workers have nothing to do the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving: many of their clients and coworkers are gone, so they might as well too.

      The workers in this letter didn’t receive “an inflated paycheck”, they were paid for their normal work hours after completing their normal amount of work. The other two choices are for them to be paid to sit around for two hours doing not much of anything– a wash for the company compared to letting them go– or dock their pay the day before a holiday because they worked too efficiently. And thinking about the value of two hours’ wages for a bunch of non-exempt employees, I doubt it was worth more than $40-50 per person. That’s like the value of a gift card to not dock people’s pay or waste their time on a holiday.

      The OP’s boss didn’t even say this was the problem, so maybe we should take them at their word and stop arguing about whether totally normal, cheap perks should now be thought of as promising people the moon. I think we get enough of that in the working world today.

      1. Ad Astra

        There might be a third option in which the employees stay the full eight hours and find other work to do once they’re done with their own. It would depend very much on the nature of the job, of course, but even still the employer would be losing productivity, not actual money. Which is why many companies choose to send workers off early around the holidays, as a nice gesture.

        You’re right that this perk is common and not controversial, even for non-exempt employees.

  10. NJ Anon

    The day before the day before Thanksgiving I asked my boss if I could let my staff go early the next day. She said “of course.” She then called me the next day (she was off) and told me to let everyone there go home at 2 pm. It was really nice. I guess it depends on company culture but I felt I should run it by her first. (Now I am wondering if I’ll get push back from the people who took the day off . . .)

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      I’ve worked places where people who are at work got to go home early and still get full pay, and it was generally understood that if you had taken the day off, you didn’t get that benefit. Usually it was known ahead of time, and you could decide whether you wanted to guarantee the day off, or take your chances at getting a few hours off. And that’s why the people who had the time off already didn’t get anything extra: they had a guarantee of the time off, and that’s also worth something.

    2. HKM

      I’m one of two production staff in on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve this year, and I’ve been told by my manager that my duties that day are to “just check that everyone has something to do, and make sure they all go home early”.

  11. Former Retail Manager

    #1….I concur with some commenters above who say that the story doesn’t quite add up. For the offender to admit hitting someone and the victim to also admit he was hit and presumably have physical signs of being hit, but no charges filed, doesn’t sound quite right. Beyond the oddity of it all, I’m sure I’m one of the few who will say that I don’t believe it’s necessary to tell the offender’s higher ups about the story. Why?

    Well….
    1. You don’t know if it’s true. Recent young, male, and likely immature graduate perhaps trying to sound like a “tough guy” and impress the OP, albeit in a totally bizarre way, could be entirely possible.
    2. This doesn’t necessarily affect how the offender does or will do his job. To assume it will is merely conjecture on the OP’s part. I personally have a TERRIBLE temper, but no one I work with has ever known or would ever know that. I’ve alluded to it in the past and I usually just get a laugh followed by “no way….you’re so nice and in such a great mood all the time.” Who people are at work and outside of work are often entirely different.
    3. This has the potential to completely torpedo this guy’s reputation and, quite honestly, I believe it will. It may all be without cause. Worst case scenario = he ends up fired/let go after probationary period. Best case scenario = he tells higher ups that he embellished the story and comes off as a kook/liar or if the story is true and they don’t let him go he is mentally placed in the “we need to watch him” category which will most likely impact his career in some way and take a very long time to recover from.

    If I were the OP, I would definitely talk to him and tell him that this is not a story he should repeat to anyone else and it reflects badly on him and makes the OP concerned about the potential for similar “outbursts” in the workplace. I also wouldn’t hesitate to let him know that if you see other signs that he has a difficult time with conflict/getting along with people, that the OP will inform upper management of their observations, although I still don’t know that I’d mention the story without some confirmation that it were true. This statement will either lead him to admit that he greatly embellished the story (phew!) or put him on notice that someone is watching, which may be enough to get him to take a hard look at his workplace behavior.

    And either way, if I were the OP, I’d really make an effort to not allow this story to impact his performance evaluation, unless it has truly helped bring to light some serious issues that fall into the “plays well with others” category.

    Lots of people make mistakes, and this guy just sounds young and dumb. Give him the benefit of the doubt, until you know otherwise. Also, I wouldn’t be too concerned about this being indicative of “a pattern.” Presumably, the company did a background check and any other similar circumstances in which the police were called and charges filed likely would have been addressed at that time. Most people who truly have tempers of this severity and act out in the way the offender supposedly did, would have already been in their fair share of fights in college most likely.

    1. Kate M

      I have a real problem with the whole idea that often comes up of “don’t tell on this person, it will ruin their reputation, and they don’t deserve that!” You say if something came out of this, it may be without cause. But there definitely is cause – worst case scenario, he has an anger problem that leads him to assaulting others over very minor things and doesn’t see the problem spreading it around. Best case scenario, he still makes up stories like this, and doesn’t seem to realize that its incredibly unprofessional behavior. What would be the point of telling this? To get attention? To try to “warn” others of not getting on his bad side? There’s no way he comes out looking good with this, and rightfully so.

      At the very least of anything, he is exhibiting very unprofessional behavior. He definitely needs to be talked to about that.

      1. Kate M

        Also, forgot to add, many places don’t background check employees. They should, but don’t assume that this person has been through a background check. And that would only show whether charges were actually pressed, right? Plenty of people are abusive and avoid ever having charges pressed.

      2. Anon for this

        Yeah, the “but you’ll ruin his life/reputation!” position was the rational used by certain members of my family to try to prevent me from reporting the cousin who molested me when I was a kid to police. To my knowledge, he hadn’t attacked anyone else, but one set of incidents is worthy of dealing with the consequences that may result, imo. I know it’s apples and oranges to some degree, but seriously, where’s the cutoff with this sentiment?

        1. Ad Astra

          The cutoff, imo, is related to whether this information is truly need-to-know information. Obviously, someone committing a crime against a child is need-to-know information, and I’m truly sorry that some of the adults in your life were more worried about this cousin’s reputation than your safety and happiness. Seriously, that’s not ok.

          Often, information is salacious enough that it could hurt someone’s reputation, yet not important enough to warrant sharing that information. We don’t see as much of that at AAM, but the “need-to-know” factor itself is sometimes up for debate.

          In this case, though, it doesn’t even sound like the new hire was trying to keep this information secret. That’s what puzzles me. I guess it’s possible that he misjudged the closeness of his relationship with OP and was confiding in him, but it doesn’t really sound like that based on how OP tells it.

      3. Lindsay J

        This.

        If someone doesn’t want their reputation ruined, it’s on them to not do [insert reputation ruining thing]. This isn’t gossip or rumors. The fact that this guy did this thing came from his own mouth. So either he did it, or he wants other people to believe that he did it. which for workplace purposes are essentially the same thing.

        And, all we really have to judge a person on are their past actions. That’s why jobs do background checks, etc. If you’ve been fired for excessive lateness before, there’s a much higher risk of that being a problem at a new employer than if you don’t have the same history. If you’ve been fired for stealing before most places won’t take a chance on you because it’s much more likely that you will steal again. If you were an awesome employee at your last job it’s pretty likely you’ll be an awesome employee at your next job.

        Heck. your car insurance rates go up when you get a ticket or when you get into an accident because you’ve shown that you’re likely to be more of a risk.

        That’s not to say that people don’t change. The person that got fired for lateness might have gotten the wakeup call they needed to get their butt in gear (or maybe their circumstances have changed and this new job has a better commute or they have more reliable transportation or don’t have to watch their kids in the morning or something). The person who stole may have turned their life around. The awesome employee might not excel at the kind of work they’re doing at their new job.

        However, you can’t know what someone is going to do in the future, just what they’ve done.

    2. Dr. Johnny Fever

      “Beyond the oddity of it all, I’m sure I’m one of the few who will say that I don’t believe it’s necessary to tell the offender’s higher ups about the story. ”

      The reason to inform a manager is on the chance that this person is not stable. Patterns begin somewhere, and his might not be recognizable yet. College offenses don’t often make it to police records because of campus security practices. He could be doing this from high school with no record what so ever.

      How would OP feel if Blustering Bluto told her that story, she said nothing, and next week, Bluto explodes over who used his red stapler and bodyslams poor Bob? Informing a manager helps recognize a start to a pattern, puts the potential issue out there, and removes the potential surprise.

      If Bluto is worried about ruining his reputation than he needs to learn how to behave like a decent human being. Informing a manager does not tarnish Bluto now – but it could definitely bite OP in the ass when Bluto beats up Bob over that stapler, and she mentions that hey, Bluto told this odd story a week before….

    3. Macedon

      Being young and dumb excuses you of slaughtering the printer or coming into work drained with a recovering hangover. It doesn’t excuse you of either violent behaviour or the compulsion to fabricate that kind of episode. There are workplace norms that we don’t expect a newbie to have mastered by end-day I, and then there’re social basics.

      No one’s saying to get the guy fired, or send an office-wide memo introducing Jim, the (number/face) Crusher in accounting. But a manager’s two duties are to run a tight ship and do damage control, as needed – you can’t one day do damage control, if you’re not aware one of your crewmen’s got a potential tendency for deception or violence.

      1. neverjaunty

        Yes, this. So tired of the mentality that anybody under (or over) a certain age gets a pass on horrible behavior, or that people should be shielded from the negative consequences of startlingly bad decisions. This isn’t grade school where “tattling” and “make-up work” are the norm.

    4. Observer

      You don’t know if it’s true. Recent young, male, and likely immature graduate perhaps trying to sound like a “tough guy” and impress the OP, albeit in a totally bizarre way, could be entirely possible.

      Sure it could. And, that kind of attitude and immaturity is not something you really want in most workplaces. Remember, also, that if this is what is going on here, he’s also a liar. Another issues in the workplace.

      This doesn’t necessarily affect how the offender does or will do his job.

      Sure. But, it IS a huge red flag. At the very best, we’ve got some really bad judgement going on here. Most people are not that compartmentalized in that respect. So, it’s the kind of thing that a boss should be aware of. And, it’s also pretty rare for someone who has a truly explosive temper, of who thinks that hitting someone for saying something he doesn’t like, totally keeps that out of the workplace. So, it is totally legitimate to take the information you have an use it.

      This has the potential to completely torpedo this guy’s reputation and, quite honestly, I believe it will.

      I’m not sure why you think this is something that the OP or his employers need to take a risk to avoid? This is not about someone else creating a situation in which a person is unfairly maligned. This person has clearly exhibited bad judgement – and of a sort that could very well have an impact in the workplace. At this point, the OP’s loyalty should be to his employer and his employer needs to act on the information it has. And, at the moment, the information at hand says that, at best, this guy DOES need to be watched. Something is clearly very off here.

      1. Dr. Johnny Fever

        The only person who released the potential to torpedo a reputation was the guy who opened his mouth to tell a stupid story. OP has no responsibility nor does she hold any accountability for that.

    5. Sarahnova

      I’m really not sure I can agree on valuing “don’t hurt this guy’s reputation!!!” I’ve just seen this used too often to avoid raising uncomfortable issues, or (unfortunately) as a coded way of saying, “I like this guy more than I like the [woman/minority/less privileged or powerful person] saying something to his detriment”.

      Making up stories about things he’d done and circulating them would be hurting his reputation. Quietly letting the appropriate person know that he told you a very worrying story is looking out for everybody. If his reputation is hurt by that, he hurt it himself.

      And I kind of wish I had your faith in background checks.

    6. Sunflower

      But he told all of this to his coworker(it’s unclear if OP is the person’s manager or simply a manger). I mean, I am totally in the camp of MYOB but, for whatever reason, this guy brought it into the workplace himself.

      1. Elsajeni

        Exactly. Although I don’t always agree with it, I can see the logic of saying “Oh, don’t spread that around, you could ruin someone’s reputation” when the thing we’re talking about is a rumor or an accusation made by someone else — a situation where we don’t necessarily know the truth of the situation and we may have no real evidence one way or the other. But in this situation, we do have one big piece of evidence: the dude told the story to his supervisor himself. Even if we assume it’s not true, we at least know that he’s a person who thinks that was an appropriate thing to do; spreading around the known fact “Hey, Wakeen told me this long, weird story about beating someone up for stealing his dryer time” is not doing him an unfairness of any kind.

    7. Biff

      I completely disagree. Assaulting someone is illegal. You don’t talk about illegal activities in which you engage off the clock while you are on the clock.

    8. Ad Astra

      The truth of the situation is actually not all that important to me. Bragging to your new coworkers about punching someone out is really bizarre, and far stranger than the fight itself (which is also not great).

      This doesn’t have to wreck his reputation. Telling one manager “Hey, Percival told me this story and I thought it was really weird” doesn’t have to mean informing everyone in the company. In a vacuum, the fight isn’t a huge deal. It’s the possibility of a pattern — either a pattern of violence or a pattern of deeply misunderstanding what’s appropriate to share at work — that we’re looking out for. And that’s why OP can’t keep this information all to herself.

      Of course, if this kid is going around telling everybody this story, he’s ruining his own reputation anyway.

      1. Dr. Johnny Fever

        Exactly. The veracity of the story is meaningless. This guy is telling you volumes about himself by presenting the story this way.

        I don’t give a shit what went down. As a manager hearing this from the OP, I wouldn’t give a shit what really happened. I would give a shit about who the hell this person is and how will he behave in my office, if he’s willing to portray himself as the kind of person who lies in wait to beat down a guy over a buck-fiddy.

        1. fposte

          Either he brags about beating people up after he beat people up, and he’s an ass. Or he brags about beating people up when he didn’t beat people up, and he’s an ass. Both roads lead to Rome.

          (And it took me a minute to realize that “buck-fiddy” wasn’t a Spoonerism for something.)

    9. Lindsay J

      1. They guy is telling the story as if it is true, so we should assume it to be true. And even if it isn’t true, lying about something like this is weird and calls into question his professional judgement.

      2. He may be a completely different person in work. He may not be. I personally have issues either way. If he is capable of controlling his temper at work, why is he not capable of controlling his temper at home? Regardless – and I intend no personal offense to you here – having a terrible temper is a bad trait in a person and something they should actively be in therapy to work on fixing. It’s shouldn’t be something someone just accepts as “how I am”. That’s not an excuse. Just like when someone says “I’m just a blunt person” it shouldn’t be an excuse.

      Also, he has already brought this into work by telling this story at work. And it doesn’t sound like he was very embarrassed or very apologetic about it.

      3. People have every right decide that this affects the way that they view him/the opportunities he gets in this job or in their company. If he didn’t want to be judged by this, either A. He shouldn’t have done it. or B. He shouldn’t have told people he works with about it.

      As it is, he did it, he told people about it. Now the people around him get to decide what to make of it.

      Personally, I would try not to let this affect my treatment of him in it’s own right. However, I would view it as a huge red flag, and any other indications I saw of a lack of emotional control, a lack of judgement, etc, would be taken much more seriously than they would have been without this as context.

      Lots of people make mistakes, but all we have to judge people on are their actions. And as it is, his actions are very questionable. Also, lots of people don’t make this particular mistake – in fact I would say that the number of professional adults who have punched people out over pocket change are very few – and in hiring, promoting, etc you’re always looking for the best person out there. And if I’m looking at hiring this guy, or hiring someone with the same education, work background, skills, etc, and who hasn’t punched someone out then I’m probably going to hire that guy instead.

    10. Three Thousand

      People usually don’t stop being “young and dumb” until they face consequences for their stupid behavior. One reason so many young people seem to have missed out on many life lessons is that fewer people are willing to stop making excuses for them and let them deal with the consequences of their actions, so they get to keep delaying their maturity until later and later.

  12. TotesMaGoats

    #2-I feel for you. Yes, you should be able to do just what you did for the reasons you said. I probably would’ve checked with my boss before doing it but from a team morale perspective he should’ve okay’d it. In past job, I would let my folks go early and I would say to keep the building “open” (but creepily empty) until closing time. No one comes in to a satellite campus the day before (or in some years xmas eve) to do anything. It was what I could do to help my team when we couldn’t do raises or anything else.

    At current job, we had the interesting situation of no one thinking to tell my department that the college was doing a “soft close”. Which means everybody went home a few hours early but there was nothing official said. If one of our asst. provosts hadn’t gone over we wouldn’t have known the college was closing early. There was NO ONE here. Seriously. I wish they had just shut down officially and completely at 2pm like so many other schools around us. One poor GA drove over an hour only to turn around and go home.

  13. Katie the Fed

    #5 – HR is there for management, not for the employees. So no, they probably don’t mediate on behalf of employees, unless managers are doing something that could get them in legal trouble.

    1. BRR

      Speaking from my own experience on a PIP, HR was there to guide the process for both myself and my manager which could probably be thought of by some as mediating but was really “hey I’m going to make sure if you’re fired that this is done in a way that makes it the least likely for you to sue and if you do we will crush you.”

      1. Erin

        Speaking from my own (somewhat limited) work experience, I’d literally never even heard of a PIP before this blog.

        It seems reasonable to me that both the manager and the employee are unsure of how to navigate this situation, especially with the transfer. I know Alison has advocated before for only using HR for what they’re intended to be used for – but even if it’s informally, it would make sense to me for HR to guide them through this if for no other reason then they might be more knowledgeable about it.

        OP, I assume if you’re on a PIP then you’re already on thin ice. It might be tempting to go along with your old manager not telling the new manager (and I don’t doubt they have the best of intentions there) but it worries me to just not disclose something like that. I’d find out what the protocol is and follow it no matter what – probably by having another conversation with your former manager first, as Alison suggested, and then go to HR if need be.

    2. Busy

      For us, HR doesn’t mediate on behalf of the employees, but they are there to make sure the process is appropriately followed, managers aren’t trying to boot you for no reason, and that communication regarding the reasons for your PIP and your way out of PIP-land are clear. We want people to come off PIPs – yes, they’re the last step to firing for poor performance, but we’ve had dozens of people come off PIPs successfully; they’re not always the death-knell, sometimes they’re the wake-up call that a written warning didn’t instill. YMMV, though. We’re pretty informal – though getting more corporate – and I could see in a more formal workplace HR being there only to make sure Legal is happy and formalities are observed.

  14. Allison

    1. I absolutely agree that you should tell this guy that telling stories like that at work will reflect badly on him. If the story is true, he needs to realize that that kind of behavior outside of work, if it becomes known to his colleagues and superiors, could impact his reputation at work. He may be under the impression that it’s a good idea to establish himself as a tough guy who doesn’t take garbage from anyone, but the reality is that no one wants to work with someone with anger management problems who gets into fights and punches people for disrespecting him, and he needs to understand this before he tells any more stories.

    1. Dr. Johnny Fever

      Here’s where Gift of Fear comes in for me. If Blustering Bluto seems like he’s just full of hot air, then perhaps a conversation is an acceptance course of action.

      If Bluto seems aggressive and defensive, and OP is nervous about Bluto, OP should talk to a manager. That gut feeling means something that we can’t process rationally in such a short period of time.

      Under no circumstances should OP put herself against her own sense of safety and support to talk to Bluto – she’s free to punt to the manager if Bluto gives her the creeps. She shouldn’t sacrifice her safety if she feels that’s not guaranteed.

      1. New Commenter

        This makes sense. Come to think of it, we do have a character in our office who likes to bluster, and we can tell it’s just that – bluster. I have never been the slightest bit concerned that he might get violent. I certainly would worry, if I were responsible for him, that he might say something inappropriate or flounce out of the office in fit of temper, though.

    2. RKB

      I once worked as a receptionist for a hair salon. On her second shift, a new hire told me all about how her boyfriend and her had got into a fight, so she trashed his things, tore up his bed, broke an expensive tablet, and he threatened to call the cops. In front of her (not his) 2-year-old daughter. She told me all this as if we were friends, and it was normal behaviour. I was stunned and didn’t know what to say.

      Surprise, surprise, two weeks later she blew up in front of customers and was subsequently fired. This could reflect badly on him, but it could also be a problem for those who work there — who knows how he will react in a bad situation at his place of work?

  15. Erin

    #1 – I would say something to the guy, but not your higher ups. The fact that he told you this story at all is screaming that he does not yet understand workplace norms and has no grasp on how badly this reflects on him or how serious the situation is.

    I would convey that to him, possibly adding that if he tells you something like this again *then* you would feel obligated to tell someone else about it. But I’d give him the benefit of the doubt first: he’s young and hopefully this was a one time thing. And if you make it clear you’ll have to tell someone next time, he’ll be less inclined to share these tidbits with you.

    #2 – Ugh, I totally think you’re in the right. It seems so weird that A) Your boss didn’t defer to your judgement, B) You’re not allowed to let employees go a little early the day before holiday (which is a common, normal thing), and C) Why letting your employees go early would have a negative effect on other departments.

    So what if they don’t have the luxury of leaving a little early? Buy them pizza for lunch. Give them a larger Christmas bonus. Let them have their own reward system. Whatever.

    It seems to me like your boss might be micromanaging, and he’s discouraging you from rewarding your employees’ good work – not a great work atmosphere they’re building, there.

    But if this is the only red flag, and your boss otherwise seems like a reasonable person, you might try having one more conversation with him about it. See if there’s any wiggle room on letting people go a little early in these situations. If there’s really not, what would he suggestion in terms of building company morale and rewarding hard work? Maybe there’s a compromise somewhere.

    1. Dr. Johnny Fever

      Here’s where Gift of Fear comes in for me. If Blustering Bluto seems like he’s just full of hot air, then perhaps a conversation is an acceptance course of action.

      If Bluto seems aggressive and defensive, and OP is nervous about Bluto, OP should talk to a manager. That gut feeling means something that we can’t process rationally in such a short period of time.

      Under no circumstances should OP put herself against her own sense of safety and support to talk to Bluto – she’s free to punt to the manager if Bluto gives her the creeps. She shouldn’t sacrifice her safety if she feels that’s not guaranteed.

      1. Erin

        Hmm, yeah I don’t disagree. If the OP has a Very Bad Feeling about this person and feels unsafe at work, that certainly sheds a different light on things. I read it with more of an emphasis on how young and inexperienced this guy is, but I could be wrong.

      2. Ad Astra

        This makes sense. The OP interacts with Bluto every day and probably has a decent sense of whether this guy is a time bomb or just an idiot. My money is on idiot, or maybe even hothead, but we don’t have enough information to make that call.

        1. Erin

          Yes. Exactly. He’s probably just an idiot, but we need more information.

          OP says, “I want to advise him further but I’m not sure what to say.”

          That also gives me pause to think that the OP, too, wants to give him the benefit of the doubt, and is maybe not fearing for his life as others have implied here.

    2. neverjaunty

      “Hopefully”? I don’t understand why the OP should err on the side of wishful thinking, and I don’t understand what “benefit of the doubt” means. In these circumstances it seems to always mean “don’t do anything unless you absolutely have to, because confrontation is icky”.

      This isn’t OP hearing a rumor about the employee, or a story about ‘here’s a stupid thing I did ten years ago when I was young and dumb’. This is an employee telling a story about escalating a minor conflict to physical violence, and seeing nothing wrong with either the situation or the fact of relating the story like it was no different than ‘here’s what I did with my weekend’.

        1. Book Person

          But…that really doesn’t apply here. This isn’t a rumour the OP heard where she ought to extend the belief that it didn’t happen (/her coworker is “innocent”) until she has proof otherwise. He TOLD her it happened. So either he’s guilty of assaulting someone or he’s guilty of thinking that lying about assaulting is a good idea in the workplace, but she heard it directly from him. So, there’s no hearsay here to view with scepticism or extend a benefit of the doubt over, or proof to wait for in this case.

      1. LisaLee

        Also, this goes far beyond “not understanding workplace norms,” imo. I know that I did some weird and awkward things when I was new to the workplace, but talking about assaulting someone is so far beyond that.

  16. Nate

    Wow, that is pretty bold to tell your manager you are missing work because you got into a fight. I would definitely let someone above you know about that. What if something like that happens in the workplace?

    Also, this is a really cool blog. I’ll be visiting more often!

  17. Cajun2core

    #1 – The way I see it, is that the new young employee had to take a day or two off to find a new apartment. It also sounded like he was just explaining why he had to take a day off. It sounds to me like he was just being honest (though maybe a bit too honest) with his boss. Maybe he figured out that his boss might find out what actually happened and thought it would be best if his boss heard it from him first.

    In all honestly, that sounds like something I would do (the truth part, not the punching a guy out part). I would prefer my boss to know the truth and hear it from me first rather than hearing it from someone else. This person’s error may only be providing too much information.

      1. Erin

        Well, yeah. That’s kind of nitpick-y. I’m sure Cajun2core meant the only error with regards to the specific work situation of who and how he told the story, not the events leading up to that.

    1. Ann O'Nemity

      Eh, I’m not sure how the boss would have heard about it otherwise, unless charges are being pressed and this situation is going to continue to interfere with work.

      The dude should have just said, “It’s a long story, but I had to move unexpectedly and took off two days to do it. Everything is settled now.”

      1. cajun2core

        Ann O’Nemity – You can never tell how a boss might find something out. Though I will admit that my view may be distorted from growing up in a very small town and living in a very small university oriented city. I think your wording of how he should have put it is perfect Like I said, I think he “overshared” a bit.

        I am not saying that I agree with the employee or that he handled it he best way but I can understand how he could have thought that it was best that his boss (the LW/OP) hear all of the details from him first.

  18. J-nonymous

    In the case of #2 – Not to be a jerk, but nothing in this letter indicates the OP actually got in trouble. OP made a judgment call, rightly told the boss about it, and the boss said don’t do that (again). Leadership disagreeing with someone is not the same thing as being reprimanded at work.

    P.S. I know we take letter writers at their word, but quite often letter writers (and attitudes in general) conflate a boss’s disapproval with actually getting into trouble. They aren’t the same.

  19. Case of the Mondays

    On number 2, I will never understand employees that would rather see someone else lose a benefit if they can’t have it. It happens all the time. It’s less “I want an extra hour of vacation too” and more “If I don’t get my extra hour of vacation, Jane should lose hers.” I just don’t understand that mentality. I have also worked hourly jobs before so it is not that I am blind to the realities of those positions. I might be bummed I didn’t get a particular perk but I wouldn’t want it taken away from my coworkers just because I couldn’t have it too. Sometimes adults act like kindergartners.

    Frequently, the close early thing is because there just isn’t enough work to do on a slow day before a holiday rather than wanting everyone to get an hour or two free pay. Employees just need to realize that sometimes you are on the slow shift and sometimes you are on the busy shift. That’s how it goes.

    Generally the employees that grumble the most are already unhappy in their job though for other reasons. The underlying resentment is what needs to be addressed, not nit picking perfect equality for each employee.

    1. neverjaunty

      Certainly “if I can’t have it, nobody can” is a bad attitude, but isn’t the real problem here management not providing the employees information to understand what’s going on? Most people can understand that a slow shift goes home early, or that certain job duties have more flexibility inherent in them than others – but it’s also true that there are workplaces where benefits depend on the whims of the manager. If Wakeen is getting an extra hour of vacation because he and his manager went to the same undergraduate institution, or if your team gets stuck with extra work because Jane always lets her people out early before vacations, I don’t think it’s a kindergarten mentality or unfair to be unhappy about that.

      1. CMT

        But then it’s on management to improve those things. That doesn’t mean people should never get perks just because sometimes some people manage them poorly.

      2. Graciosa

        Eh – this is one of the areas where where I think people need more of an eyes-on-your-own-paper attitude (in the sense of stop worrying about how other people may be doing and focus on your own performance).

        One of the differences between schoolyard fairness and professional fairness is that adults are assumed to have outgrown the idea that treating people fairly requires that everything be exactly equal all the time. It isn’t. It can’t be. Life just doesn’t work like that.

        We’re people rather than factory automatons. Jane focuses most of her attention on whether monthly reports are in on time; Marvin doesn’t care about the monthly reports as long as quarterly is done before corporate asks for it. Wakeen schedules a lot of team meetings early in the morning when he’s fresh; Francois doesn’t believe in team meetings, relying on email for sharing information and occasional team lunches for bonding. So what?

        The only thing on your list I thought was worth mentioning was if your team gets stuck with extra work covering for another team, which is worth a manager to manager conversation about coordinating a bit better.

        For all the rest – we’re different people. Some of us send out the “Go home early” message earlier than others.

        If someone complained about that, I’d tell him or her to get over it.

  20. Allison

    #2, I don’t know if that’s getting in trouble, more upper management telling you you made a bad call and shouldn’t do it again. But I think they’re being unfair. At every company there are people who have to stay until the end of the day, people who often work late because their workloads and/or meeting schedules demand it, and there are people who are able to come in early, put in a full day of work, and leave on the early side to beat traffic. If people have done what’s expected of them for the day, and it’s a slow day before a holiday, there really shouldn’t be any reason to make them stay at work and twiddle their thumbs or find some way to busy themselves just because other teams or departments have to be there.

    Depending on how much seniority you have, maybe you could make the case for letting people leave early in the future? Remind your boss that if you make people stay after they’ve completed their deliverables, they won’t be very productive for the rest of the afternoon so it doesn’t make sense to keep them around just because other people still have work to do.

  21. AnonAnalyst

    #3: Is this a role where the organization is constantly hiring or is hiring in large numbers? I can see it maybe working if you were hiring for a role where you needed to frequently find new people or where there were a lot of openings; if you knew that you would always need to set aside time for interviewing, it might make sense to just block out a time every week (although it is kind of odd that they wouldn’t just schedule individual interviews at that time).

    It could be a sign that the organization is experiencing a lot of growth and needs to rapidly add staff, but it could also be a sign that there’s a huge turnover problem or that they are just bad at hiring. Alison’s right: if you’re interested in the role, it’s worth going in to learn more, but I would definitely keep the odd hiring process in mind and would be asking questions to try to understand why they’re running the process that way (i.e., why the position is open, etc.).

  22. Dr. Johnny Fever

    Here’s where I mark myself in gendered territory and socialization in the US, but I’m seeing some “boys will boys” thinking and “girls must be nice” thinking sprinkled all around these threads. I can’t help but see sexism in places based on some of the advice offered here:

    – Bluto gets a pass because he’s a just a kid, you know how young men are like boys, it’s just bluster. His story’s probably not true, and if he were someone to worry about, cops would know him.

    – OP must be quiet because she should assume positive intent, understand what young men are like, and not ruin a young man’s career before it starts. Oh, and goodness, why are you so afraid of a little story that probably didn’t even happen? Essentially, OP is being told not to worry her pretty little head.

    This is pure unadultered bullshit.

    OP doesn’t owe Bluto a damned thing. He’s the one telling the story, he’s the one tarnishing his reputation, he’s the one making others uncomfortable!

    OP, if you are creeped enough to talk to your manager, then march right in there and stand your ground. Listen to what your brain and gut are telling you. That sense of fear you hold is not something to minimize, and it’s all attributed to his mouth, not yours.

    1. neverjaunty

      Yes, this. There’s so much pressure on women to avoid conflict, especially when it results in something bad for other people, and especially when ‘other people’ are men.

    2. OP #1's wife

      I have read into some of that also. The funny thing is, OP #1 is my husband. He is a man and I wonder if they would all give him different advice knowing that.

      Also for the record, OP #1 is his manager and is conducting the young guy’s review along with a higher up very soon. He did inform his boss in a way to say I think you should know this. He also plans to talk in further detail about the incident with him such as this is how you should/shouldn’t behave in a work place and things you do outside of the office can affect your career. Some people, especially recent grads, do not realize that what you do even away from the office represents the company you work for.

  23. Collarbone High

    I’m a journalist, which means working up until deadline 365 days a year. It’s not uncommon for the business-side departments (like advertising and marketing) to be allowed to leave early the day before a holiday, while we can’t.

    None of us thinks that’s unfair — it’s what we signed up for when we decided to become journalists (and to stick with it through the lousy past two decades, rather than bailing for more lucrative PR work). But it *is* a bit grating when there’s an all-staff email saying “Everyone can leave at noon! Happy [holiday]!” and knowing we’re not part of “everyone” (and that no one ever acknowledges there would be no product if the journalists and pressroom workers didn’t stay to physically create it).

    I think the way the LW handled it — quietly, and keeping the announcement within the team — is perfect. As many others have said, there’s no sense in people sitting around if there’s no work to be done.

  24. cajun2core

    Ann O’Nemity – You can never tell how a boss might find something out. Though I will admit that my view may be distorted from growing up in a very small town and living in a very small university oriented city. I think your wording of how he should have put it is perfect Like I said, I think he “overshared” a bit.

    I am not saying that I agree with the employee or that he handled it he best way but I can understand how he could have thought that it was best that his boss (the LW/OP) hear all of the details from him first.

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