new manager says I’m young and untrustworthy, coworker is angry that I won’t cut my hours, and more

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

1. New manager said I’m young and untrustworthy and can’t talk about wages

In the last few months, I’ve been having a lot of trouble with our new manager. When she first started working in our restaurant with no previous experience in food, she immediately tried to rearrange everything. I understand her need to be in control, and I can deal with that. But within the first week, I asked my coworker if he had a phone cord as my phone was dying and I needed to call for a ride home. She overheard and went across the street to purchase a $40 phone cord for me, which made me personally uncomfortable as I didn’t ask for it and wouldn’t be using it more than once, so I didn’t understand why should would do it.

More recently, I discovered new hires were making more than me and after talking with two coworkers about it, I asked her for a raise, as I’ve worked there for nearly two years. She brought me into her office and gave me an hour long talk about how she thought I was too young, untrustworthy, and unthankful for her buying a phone cord for me when she had first started. She announced I would no longer be considered for a lead position, and on top of that, told me I could and would be fired if I talked about wages with my coworkers again.

Am I allowed to file some sort of complaint about this? Before she started my record was spotless and my performance reviews were spotless, but she seems to have developed a grudge against me and constantly goes out of her way to mark me down and discredit me in front of her higher-ups.

Your new manager sucks. There’s no such thing as “too young” for a raise, you can’t substitute a phone cord (unwanted, no less) for a raise, and telling you that you’re now unpromotable because of this is the final nail in her “terrible manager” coffin.

Oh, wait, no, it’s not. The final nail is her illegally telling you that you’d be fired if you discuss wages with your coworkers. The National Labor Relations Act says that employers can’t prevent employees from discussing wages among themselves. You could indeed file a complaint over this — but I’d also be job searching, because she’s not going to get any better.

2. My coworker is angry that I won’t cut my hours so she can have more

I work in an overnight health care situation with another worker. Unfortunately, the company indicated that we had to go down to only one overnight worker. Since I have seniority, they asked what I wanted to do. After thinking about it, I chose to only work three nights a week instead of four, so that the other employee could at least get two overnights into her schedule.

She came to me and asked if I would consider only working two nights every other week so that the hours would be fair. Our manager gave her the day shift, so in the end she actually ended up with 31 hours a week, with me at 33. I told her I would not give her any of my hours and explained that if I had kept my normal schedule, she would have lost an additional 11 hours a week, but because I didn’t want to do that to her I told management that I would only work three days a week instead of four. There are daytime hours available one weekend a month, which I’m taking advantage of to try and make up for the 11 hours a week I’m losing.

Along with the hours problem, my coworker is angry because I was told first about the cut in hours and didn’t inform her prior to management doing so. But my company had told me that if other employees found out prior to management discussing the cut in hours, I would lose my job at this particular house. My coworker is no longer speaking to me because of this. I’m heartbroken because I chose to take fewer hours so that she could have more per week, but because I’m not offering even more she has chosen to not speak to me. I feel like I can’t win for losing.

Your coworker is being really unfair to you. You did her a favor to try to give her more hours — at a cost to yourself — and she’s not only not acknowledging that, but pressuring you to take an additional loss and giving you crap for following formal instructions from your job not to disclose information that was confidential at the time. She’s the one in the wrong here.

You haven’t done anything wrong, and you did more than many people would do to try to help her out. If you haven’t clearly spelled it out for her yet, I would say this to her: “I actually took a cut to my hours so that you would have more. I can’t cut them further, but I did that because I wanted to help you.”

From there, it’s really up to her to decide whether to handle this reasonably or not. There’s not much else you can do on your end — but please do take comfort in knowing that you tried to do a nice thing here.

3. Hired, trained, and then no contact

I was recently hired as a freelancer for a company shortly before Christmas. They had me come in and fill out all kinds of papers and I was offered healthcare and given a pass card. I then worked for two days (at someone else’s desk – they were away that week) and got good feedback. Because it was the holidays, I was told (not by the hiring manager, but the person giving me assignments) to take the next few weeks off because the other employees and clients were away.

Fast forward to the Monday after New Year’s Day, my supposed return date. I go into the office — the pass key did work. The person whose desk I was using was obviously back. The hiring manager – once aware of my presence – was perplexed as to why I was there. I told him what I explained above. He then stated that they didn’t have enough work yet because everyone was just getting back from holiday and it would take time for things to pile up. He assured me that I was still on board but to wait for his call.

It’s been a week and a half since. I do not want to make calls pestering him about what’s going on because I think it will affect the situation negatively but I am concerned. When I was hired, I was under the impression that it would be steady work. In fact, I thought it was temp-to-hire. How would you read into a situation like this?

Did he give you any kind of timeline to expect? If not, I’it’s reasonable to email him now and ask if he can give you a sense of when he’s likely to be ready to start. You could say something like this: “I’m planning out my own schedule for the next month or so and want to make sure that I’m not overlapping with when you’ll need me. Do you have a sense of when you’re likely to want me to return?”

But unless it’s something both firm and soon (like “next Monday”), I’d keep job searching for now. That doesn’t mean that this job won’t eventually come through — I actually think there’s still a good likelihood that it will — but right now it’s too shaky for comfort, and you don’t have enough insider information to evaluate why. They should proactively give you that information (like “our client work always kicks into high gear in late January and we’ll definitely bring you in then”), but since they’re not, the safest course of action for you is not to keep all your eggs in this basket. I know that’s frustrating.

Read an update to this letter here.

4. I can’t find out the recruiter’s name

I am applying to a position with a small/medium non-profit and wanted to find out the name of the recruiter to whom I should address the cover letter. I’ve done some research and identified the name of the would-be manager in the role (unless there are internal changes expected).

They will surely be involved in the process but will likely not be the only (or maybe even first) person doing the recruiting. Should I address the letter to that person or just go for a generic “recruitment manager.” HR is unwilling to share with me.

No one cares — seriously. Don’t spend any energy thinking about it. Address it to the hiring manager since you know that person’s name — but if you didn’t, “dear hiring manager” would be totally fine. (In case I’m confusing you, “hiring manager” and “recruitment manager” are two different things; “hiring manager” is the person who will manage you once hired. That’s really who you’re writing to, not that it’s a big deal either way.)

Plus, in a small nonprofit, there probably isn’t a recruiter anyway; small nonprofits — depending on how small we’re talking — don’t generally even have dedicated HR people (but rather someone who handles HR on top of other work).

5. Listing an upcoming book publication on my resume

I am pretty happily situated in my current job (thanks, in large part, to your advice!), but I’ve also recently signed a publishing contract (novel-length fiction), and I’m interested in how you’d go about listing this on a resume, especially considering that long production limbo before the book actually hits shelves. I have an MFA in writing, and I’d love to eventually move to a field that’s more writing-centric. Your thoughts would be great.

It’s still very early in the process and I haven’t yet been given a production timeline, so I can only guess at the date of publication. Thus, my closest inclination would be to list it as:

NOVEL TITLE, forthcoming from Winterfell Press, an imprint of Westeros Press

I think that’s perfect! The key here is that you indicate there’s a publisher on board. If you were still shopping it around, I wouldn’t list it — but now that it’s under contract and a definite thing, this makes sense.

{ 173 comments… read them below }

  1. neverjaunty*

    In addition being all kinds of illegal under federal law, OP #1’s terrible manager would be violating the Labor Code in my state.

    OP #1, your manager is a bad person and she should feel bad. In addition to looking for a new job, definitely file a complaint, and strongly consider talking to an employment lawyer to cover yourself if Queen Glassbowl fires you or does something else jerky. (I know I’m a broken record on this, but: in the US, employment lawyers work “on contingency”, meaning that you don’t pay them out of pocket, and they will almost always talk to you for an initial meeting for free).

    1. Jenniy*

      This. Report this to the national labor board ASAP, and check with your state labor board as well. You can likely file with both.

      People like this do not get better, but worse. I’d start looming for somewhere else either way, but also make her supervisor aware of what’s going on, and HR. That way if the NLRB asks, you can say what their response was

      1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

        “I’d start looming for somewhere else either way”

        I’m sorry, I know it’s a typo, but I just had a brilliant image of OP out in the main restaurant creating tapestries with rivals’ logos on them.

        I don’t know too much about the intricacies in the restaurant industry in the US but is it worth OP trying to agree a reference with HR in advance of leaving? Managers like this are so controlling and abusive that I always wonder if they won’t torpedo a new job with an awful reference just to keep you there in their power (unlikely, I know, but I’m sure not unheard of) – or possibly the owner, if this is a small place?

        1. Ani*

          Honestly, most wait staff never see an HR person on site if it is a chain and wouldn’t have a clue who or where that person might be.

        2. I'm a Little Teapot*

          I can attest that there really are managers so abusive and controlling that they deliberately give bad references to keep people under their power; I had one who did that to a coworker I knew well. He was the company owner, and did it so he could keep sexually harassing her.

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            I’ve worked at a lot of restaurants in my day, and none of them ever checked references. I even asked a manager at one place and he said “Nah, when you’re training, we can tell right away if you’re able to do the job or not, and if you can’t, then see ya”. Not that the Op should completely rely on that, and it could be different regionally I suppose, but that wouldn’t be my immediate concern. I’d make sure the owner/other managers knew what she was pulling, as well as get copies of her spotless reviews.

        3. RVA Cat*

          Since OP #1 has worked there for 2 years and this is a new manager, she should approach her former managers for a reference – not only to keep the current one from torpedoing her, but employers understand that someone who managed you for a year can judge you more fairly than someone who’s only been there a few months.

            1. Jenniy*

              We so need an edit button. Lol.
              But now I’m laughing at my own 130 am typos – but not as much as yall’s images

    2. charisma*

      It’s now against Federal law to prevent employees from talking about wages with each other. It used to be illegal in only some states (e.g., California), now it’s illegal everywhere. Employers cannot have policies in place, nor imply, nor make any other statement to deter employees from discussing wages with each other. Pay Transparency.

      1. MsChandandlerBong*

        This is one of the issues that forced me out of my last HR job. I was on the only HR person in the company, and the CFO wanted me to write a memo telling employees they weren’t allowed to talk about their pay or benefits. I refused, so he just did it himself.

        1. misspiggy*

          I think it was worth including though – good guidance for anyone in a flaky situation like that.

          1. Oryx*

            Maybe, but Alison specifically says that if you submitted something to her to not ask it in the open treads.

        2. Andrea*

          Sorry about that Alison, I emailed my question to you before asking in the open thread. Will never happen again. Very sorry everyone.

    1. Andrea*

      Hi, yes it was. My mistake.

      FWIW, I did reach out to the hiring manager and the recruiting manager – no word as of yet. :-\

      This is so unfortunate as they seemed to be a busy place with a heavy workload. It was also nearby. I am bewildered at the turn of events here, I was very excited to be working for them. One thing I didn’t mention in my OP is that I didn’t get good vibe from the hiring manager. In fact, he asked me what my name was again within five minutes of meeting me. That can’t be good.

      Anyway, thank you all for your feedback.

      1. Andrea*

        One more thing. I didn’t tell many people that I had got the position for fear of something like this happening.

  2. RKB*

    Honestly, with #2 I would just take back my offer, if possible. Of course I’m slightly petty like that. But if a coworker is being ungrateful and difficult when you’re doing something for them out of the kindness of your heart, it’s not worth it anymore.

    Anecdotal case on my behalf: I had a coworker (who I don’t like for other reasons) who needed her shift covered. I offered to take it. I told her, to even out hours, I could swap my Saturday shift. She was off that day and it was the same amount of time (4.5 hours.)

    She requested my 8 hour weekday shift. (As in, “oh, I’ll take your Wednesday shift instead.) Uh! That wasn’t up for grabs! It would put me at a loss for taking your shift, and that’s not how shift swapping works.

    So I rescinded my swap offer and just took her shift, since shift grabs are first come, first serve — and shift swaps are done purely out of kindness. Bonus 4.5 hours for me.

    You don’t have to bend over backwards for your coworkers in these types of situations. Maybe that’s just me, but I would find it very annoying. It’s the equivalent of offering someone a ride on a Monday, and they come back and tell you no thanks but can I get a ride from Tuesday-Saturday?

    Or the equivalent of any favour taken as something you’re entitled to.

    1. Zillah*

      Maybe I’m just a jerk, but I’d be tempted to, too.

      It sounds to me like the OP is dealing with pretty significant financial hardship in part because of this position. It doesn’t seem like the coworker knew at first that it was intentional on the OP’s part, and I certainly don’t think the coworker should be groveling to the OP because of it, but to me, that’s irrelevant. You don’t pressure your coworkers to give up hours. Maybe you ask, once, but you don’t push it after that. We’re all trying to make ends meet. You don’t bully someone over it, end of story. The OP tried to do a nice thing. The coworker wants no part in it. Fine. The OP shouldn’t put this coworker above their best interests again.

    2. Rubyrose*

      I would probably be more than tempted. I would take the first opportunity I could to get those hours back, if I decide I wanted them. Ungrateful people sometimes only learn the hard lesson by punitive action, rather than moving on like nothing happened.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        “Ungrateful people sometimes only learn the hard lesson by punitive action, rather than moving on like nothing happened.”

        Bingo. This is why I would rescind sharing my hours with her if out were still possible to make changes. People like this need to learn that they aren’t entitled to having others sacrifice on their behalf.

      2. Ann Furthermore*

        Yep, me too. My sentiments would be hey, I went out of my way to help you. If you’re too stupid and ungrateful to realize that, screw it.

      3. AnonInSC*

        Yeah, I’d change my hours to what I wanted when I had a chance as well. If she’s going to be like that, no need to go out of your way to help her. You’re a good person for trying.

      4. LBK*

        Eh, yes and no. I think this is predicated on the assumption that they understand that a favor has been done from them, which I don’t think the coworker does in this case. At least in the paraphrased version in the letter, the conversation they had doesn’t clearly outline to me that the OP was given 4 shifts per week and she volunteered to cut back to 3 in order to give the coworker the extra hours. From the coworker’s perspective, if the OP rescinds those 11 hours now, it will look like the OP was not only unwilling to do her a favor and give up some hours for her but then took extra hours from her on top out of spite.

        1. neverjaunty*

          I think it’s pretty clear from the letter that the OP explained the situation to her co-worker, who has some unrealistic expectations AND is retaliating in a childish way.

          1. LBK*

            Giving what you think is a clear explanation and having the other person understand aren’t mutually inclusive. Like I said, the way the OP phrased it in the letter doesn’t make it totally clear that she essentially already did what the coworker is asking her to do. Even Alison’s response says to very explicit lay it out if she hasn’t yet, which suggests that what’s outlined in the letter isn’t a clear explanation.

    3. Missy*

      Thank you for your thoughts! Unfortunately I cant switch back so I’m stuck with my decision until August when this young lady will be moving on as she will graduate from college.

      1. Kate M*

        If she hasn’t graduated from college, then this might be a case of not knowing professional norms/not getting that you’re doing her a favor, rather than her just being selfish and ungrateful (although she certainly is being ungrateful, but maybe just because she didn’t realize how you’d already helped her). Definitely don’t give her any more hours, and if she brings it up again, explain that you’ve already cut your hours back for her and can’t do anymore. It will hopefully be a good lesson to her, although who knows.

      2. Dr. Johnny Fever*

        Are you sure you are stuck – have you already asked?

        If not, it’s worth a shot explaining the situation to your manager. Ideally you would tell coworker directly to stop, but since she isn’t speaking to you that might reopen the wound. Ask your manager to discuss the circumstances with coworker so she will stop asking you these questions. You could inquire then about taking your shift back, or wait to see how coworker reacts. If coworker reacts as she has so far, I think you could certainly ask then for the hours back based on the continued behavior.

        No guarantees, but could be worth a shot if you’re willing to try it.

    4. Beezus*

      I’d think about backing out of the extra hours, too. Also, if the coworker’s refusal to speak to you makes it harder for you to provide care for the patient you’re both helping, you need to bring that to your boss’s attention.

      I recently handled some vacation coverage drama with a coworker by being less cooperative. Her work was structured in a way that made coverage difficult, she is resistant to change and wouldn’t allow me to suggest process improvements that would make coverage less onerous, she liked to plan random Fridays off with less than a day of notice, and she cherry picked all the best days off. So I started planning my time off sooner, and I stopped considering her possible plans when I scheduled my vacation time, which led to a scheduling conflict. My boss offered to cross train so we could both have the time off, which I expected. Now he’s making the same suggestions I was, and if she comes to me and tells me she plans to be off tomorrow, I can say, “Wow, my day is pretty booked tomorrow and I’m on a deadline, can you check with Fergus and see if he can cover?”

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        That’s what I’d do…except I probably wouldn’t even suggest Fergus unless they asked. Not to be mean or unhelpful, but it sounds like your coworker really does need to learn how to plan ahead, and the first step is to consider the possibilities, so I wouldn’t suggest any. (Also, if they’re toxic or even just passive-aggressive and Fergus does a horrible job, they’d probably blame you more than Fergus based on your suggestion.)

        1. Beezus*

          Yeah, I’m working hard on saying no in general, and I still have a hard time with no, fullstop. Most of my “no”s are followed by “but you might try talking to this person,” or “but here’s what I can do instead”.

          She’ll hold it against me, but she spews negativity about everyone and everything, so she doesn’t have a lot of credibility. She was doing that when I was saying yes, too, lol.

  3. Mary*

    No. 3 – Did they tell there there would be a lull because of the holidays before you were hired? If not, it seems as if the company really wanted someone there for only two days; but didn’t want to tell you that. The fact that your pass key didn’t work after the break is a good indicator. Usually when it is slow, a company takes it as an opportunity to train someone and bring them up to speed when the work picks up.
    I think the manager was flustered that you came back, and to avoid any issues, maybe told you they would call you back.
    I agree with AAM, you have nothing to lose by emailing them. I have a feeling they will answer you back one way or the other. By the way they are operating, I would keep looking.

    1. Andrea*

      My pass key worked fine as does my email address. No, they didn’t tell me anything before I was hired other than to be at the office at such-a-such time, etc…

  4. Merry and Bright*

    #4 I have read the sensible advice on here before about not needing to address your application to a specific person. Sanity!!

    The Terrible Job Advice websites often tell you that you need to address the HM or RM by name because it is “unorofessional” not to, and using a Name will give you a headstart in the process.

    I figured even before I discovered AAM that this was silly. I mean, if they wanted you to address your application to Fergus Smith they would tell you!

    Bad sites even advise persistence to get the name. But their suggestions sound so much like stalking the organisation to me. Way, way too much.

    1. Marcus*

      There’s definitely conflicting advice out there. I know it’s not going to ‘get you the interview’, but just might help you to stand out of a crowd when there are perhaps 100 applications to hiring manager? Obviously this effect would be nullified if a name was provided.

      1. BRR*

        Any time I have done hiring, the name on the cover letter isn’t enough to move a candidate from the rejection pile to the interview pile.

        1. Artemesia*

          This. We always gave a name contact in our ads but if we got an application without it being addressed to that person, who cares? And that person was usually me and I didn’t care either. We could quickly sort applicants into ‘no way’, ‘maybe’ and ‘promising’ and the name on the cover letter or address had nothing to do with that.

      2. Ann Cognito*

        Recruiting is part of my job, and someone addressing their cover letter/email to either me or the hiring manager by name has never, not once, been enough by itself to move someone forward in the process. At the most, I’ll see that it’s addressed to a specific name and maybe, briefly, wonder how they figured-out the name, but then I move on and don’t think about it any more. I’ve never once thought “wow, I’m impressed that they figured-out my name so they could address it specifically to me. They definitely have to move on in the process.”

        1. Ann Cognito*

          Obviously I mean all other things being equal, i.e. if you have a great resume the fact that you addressed your cover letter to me by name makes no difference whatsoever in comparison to the equally qualified candidate who simply addressed it “Dear Hiring Manager”.

      3. Kelly L.*

        Well, part of the trouble is that a candidate who does that is often a candidate who calls the administrative assistant to ask for that name, which the administrative assistant is often hesitant to give out to a rando because it might just be a salesperson or scammer, and sometimes people are pushy about it, and people talk to their admins.

      4. Felicia*

        Last time I was involved in hiring (I was mostly screening resumes), I barely even looked at the name on the cover letter, because I don’t think it really matters at all.

        The one time I did notice the name was when it was addressed to someone I’d never heard of who never worked at my company. There were about 150 applications and I mostly didn’t notice the name and it wouldn’t make someone stand out.

        1. Ama*

          The only time I care about names on a cover letter when hiring is when applicants get the name of the company or position wrong. This is a particularly touchy subject at my current employer because we are constantly confused with a larger org that works in several of the same areas we do, despite having pretty different names — we very clearly state who we are and our mission in all our job postings, so if you get that wrong you probably don’t have the attention to detail we need.

          1. Ann Cognito*

            Yes, this. While I don’t care about it being addressed to a specific person or not at our organization, I’ve received cover letters addressed to a completely different organization, for a completely different job at that other organization, twice within the past year. That irked me – didn’t say much about attention to detail!

            1. JL*

              Yes, that usually is a signal that the person is recycling cover letters, and not even bothering really hard to proof-read them.

          2. AVP*

            oh, totally this! I don’t care if you spell my name wrong or just put “Dear Hiring Manager” (or nothing), but people are constantly copy/pasting cover letters written out to the wrong company and that’s a direct pass to my “no” file.

            I will say, the application site that we use makes it very easy to do that, but that’s all the more reason that applicants should take a minute to think and re-read before pressing send.

            1. Turanga Leela*

              I care if candidates misspell my name (or really, the name of the hiring manager). Almost all the positions we hire for require attention to detail and the ability to write letters to people; misspelling people’s names is a no-no.

              This is surprisingly hard for a lot of candidates. We print the name of the contact person in our ads, and his last name has an unusual spelling—think “George Jonson.” When we get letters addressed, “Dear Mr. Johnson,” that’s a strike against the candidate.

            2. TootsNYC*

              I *really, really* care if you misspell my name.
              1) I’m hiring people whose job is to get things spelled right
              2) my name is very unusual, almost no one in the U.S. has my exact first name; and those who have a sound-alike name have unusual spellings as well, so absolutely you shouldn’t assume you can guess it. Even a name like Alice or James could be spelled Alyce or Jaymes, so you should check the obvious ones–but mine is just not a name that most people have ever heard before, ever, ever. So…
              3) you can google me; it’s at your fingertips. And you -will- find -me-, not someone who could be me. Even if you use misspellings.

      5. Elizabeth West*

        I can’t imagine it would be. Besides, if you were told to address your correspondence to Hiring Manager, and you did something else, someone might think you couldn’t follow directions.

        Anytime I see advice that implies I need !gumption! I’m not likely to take it seriously.

      6. Kate M*

        The only time I ever get cover letters addressed to a specific person on a cover letter, they’re addressed to the wrong person at my organization. Every. Single. Time. (And not even the same wrong person, people seem to just pick a name off the website at random). It actually makes me question their judgment, because they seem to be so focused on getting a name on there, they don’t even bother getting the right one. And if somehow someone did address a cover letter to me, at this point I would think that it was just dumb luck that they chose the right name off the website. I really don’t see any benefit to doing it. It certainly doesn’t ever make someone “stand out in a crowd”, except in a bad way

      7. TootsNYC*

        It might also make you look stupid, if you don’t get the name right (and from the outside of the organization looking in, you might easily get it wrong).

        And, in some orgs, the person who will read that letter first is the HR screener, adn it might be offputting.

        If you absolutely know (and in some instances, I might; in others, I’d be guessing), OK, sure. But don’t stress over it.

    2. BRR*

      The terrible advice websites act like its a deal breaker and the only way to personalize your cover letter. Really though if I was hiring I would give more wight to a cover letter that addressed the job posting versus one that was generic and had my name on it. And those bad sites will even suggest calling to find out. Because nobody at the company has anything better to do than provide the names of hiring managers.

      1. OfficePrincess*

        Seriously. Annoying people will get them to notice you, yes, but it is also correlated with hearing “the position has been filled”.

      2. Kelly L.*

        Yup. A lot of it’s the calling. I’ve definitely gotten calls from people who were trying to find out the name like it was a cheat code.

    3. Not Karen*

      When I was first job searching, all the advice I saw/heard was to address your letter to “to whom it may concern.”

      (I have had a few job openings specify the person to whom to address the letter.)

    4. Koko*

      I feel like so much advice could be immediately recognized as bad, not by everyone, but by people with at least some professional experience in their field. Just imagine being the person in charge of hiring and ask yourself how you would feel about or react to it.

      “Nobody cares!” is the exact right answer. I couldn’t even tell you what proportion of cover letters that I have screened over the years used a name vs a generic greeting. It doesn’t even register, let alone make me show preferential treatment to the candidate.

      Unless maybe I was hiring for some sort of internet sleuth/private investigator position. Then I might think they’re demonstrating their skills.

      1. TootsNYC*

        When I’m hiring, I desperately need someone with the skills I need. I go straight to the resumé. I might scan the cover letter; if it’s rote, I don’t truly read it. If it’s got something of substance, I might slow down, or if your resumé gets you to the shor tipple, then I -will- read it.

        But I just don’t care.

  5. Nursey Nurse*

    If I were OP 1 (and I didn’t care about my job or a reference) I would be so tempted to go buy a thank you note and write something like:

    Dear Manager, I was so sorry to hear that you didn’t think I had been appropriately appreciative of the phone charger you bought me earlier this year. The truth is that it is such a spectacular phone charger that I didn’t think mere words could do it justice. The quality is impeccable. It easily fits all my wall outlets and charges my phone’s battery to 100% every single time. And its appearance! Other chargers I have owned in the past had garish neon coloring that all too clearly revealed their humble dollar store origins, but the one you gave me was a classic shade of black that I usually only see used on luxury goods such as BMWs and Coach handbags. Never in my life did I think I could aspire to owning such a phone charger, but you made it possible. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Manager. Thank you. With undying gratitude, OP.

    I don’t think the OP should actually do this, of course. But it would be really tempting.

    1. Sarahnova*

      I don’t think I’d actually do this, but imagining the managers response is fairly hilarious. I imagine she’d know she was being sent up but be powerless to do anything about it. :)

    2. Florida*

      Brilliant! It’s fun to imagine sending it and take pleasure in the imaginary response of the manager.

    3. ThursdaysGeek*


      Although that does make me wonder if the OP didn’t thank the manager for the unwanted charger, and the manager is now miffed at that lack of thanks.

      1. OP #1*

        Hi! I did thank her when she came back with it, but I tried to convey my discomfort and it’s been untouched in her office ever since. I still don’t know why she did it, and I certainly don’t want to take it and have to truly owe her something for an unwanted gift.

  6. Mookie*

    You’re a good egg, LW 2. There’s no easy solution here, but you have a few options. Given the kind of compassion and character you’ve demonstrated, I’m pretty positive you’ll make the right decision for yourself. Good luck!

    1. Missy*

      Thank you and I’m trying. Unfortunately I wont be able to get my hours back until August when this young lady graduates. It’s going to be a long 6 months!

  7. Rebecca*

    #1 and the not discussing wages thing – this seems to be more prevalent than I originally thought. I’ve worked for 3 companies, all 3 pulled this stunt. Yes, we could report them, but there’s nothing in writing. It comes down to saying a manager said something in a closed door meeting with no proof. Yes, you could hire an attorney, but with what money if you’ve been fired? And the firing wouldn’t be for this specific reason, but you’d be downsized, let go for some other reason, etc. but nothing would be said or in writing about the real cause.

    My current employer cut paid time off benefits, none of us are happy about it, and we were told if we discussed our wages or benefits and tried to compare them with other worker’s benefits in other branches of the company, we’d be fired. We were also told if we complained about our reduction in benefits in social media that our IT staff would be able to track us down, and we’d be fired. All verbal.

    I know the answer is “get another job” but there are areas where decent life sustaining jobs are very hard to find. My options right now are slim to none, poverty rate is high, and the good paying decent benefits jobs of the past have evaporated. I think that’s why most of us put up with this because we have few good choices.

    Sorry for the rant. This issue really bugs me.

    1. blackcat*

      I’d try to launch a verbal campaign in retaliation–if you could get a bunch of coworkers who were present to all draft & sign dated statements that said “On X day, we were told Y.” That could be pretty solid evidence in a complaint, and then you might find a lawyer who’d work with you on contingency.

      1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

        The trouble is, you can all still get fired – and if you need the job, it isn’t worth the risk of “causing trouble”. This is where if workers’ rights are going to be effective, I see a strong argument for proactive State enforcement. If an officer was coming in once a year and talking to people anonymously, then at any suggestion of anything like this reminding managers of the law and scheduling another inspection 3 months down the line, it would be much easier to find out companies like this, and nobody needs to risk their job (well, I suppose that they could fire a token scapegoat, but one hopes the enforcer would show some interest in that)

          1. Graciosa*

            Dear heaven – I’m not!


            The suggestion The Artist is making because the people affected *choose* not to file a complaint (has no one thought about doing it after starting a new job?) is that the government should invade ALL work spaces (Hello, this is still private property!) to interrogate people searching for wrong doing.

            This is like having annual separate interrogation of married couples by the police because we all know that people being abused are not likely to report it, and someone thought “Wow, I know how to fix that! Instead of waiting for any evidence of wrong doing, we’ll just go out and have the authorities interrogate EVERYONE just in case.”


            Part of the foundation of our freedom is limiting the government’s ability to intrude without cause.

            Of course, it does require individuals who want redress for a wrong done to speak up and ask for it. I’m not going to claim this is universally easy or perfect (life is not, and neither is our justice system, but both happen to better than the alternatives almost all the time). It does require people to take a modicom of responsibility for themselves.

            And I am *overwhelming* on the side of leaving individuals with as much freedom to run their lives as possible rather than abdicating responsibility to the government in the hope that it will save us from having to make hard choices.

            1. Judy*

              This is like having annual separate interrogation of married couples by the police because we all know that people being abused are not likely to report it, and someone thought “Wow, I know how to fix that! Instead of waiting for any evidence of wrong doing, we’ll just go out and have the authorities interrogate EVERYONE just in case.”

              Well, today it’s done by your doctor. Each year in my well appointment visit, I’m asked if anyone in my household has hit me, or something like that. I’m generally not fond of that, even.

                1. Kelly L.*

                  I’m not asked it in those terms. I have been asked if I “feel safe at home,” which is getting at the same thing.

                2. Natalie*

                  It’s an AMA recommendation, from what I recall, but not a requirement. They similarly recommend asking about seat belts, guns, eating enough calcium, and a bunch of other things.

                3. Judy*

                  I remember at least once the word “hit” was used and DS was 3. I really wanted to say “Yes, my 3 year old does hit me sometimes.” But, yes, the question might be termed as “safe” most times, I just vividly remember the word “hit” from that time.

                4. Kelly L.*

                  Yeah, I got asked about seat belts and whether I had a smoke detector at home. I agree, though, I don’t think it’s a law to ask.

                5. the gold digger*

                  I fell off my bike and had to go to the ER. (I tried going to my doc’s office but they refused to treat me. So much for being a responsible consumer of medical resources.)

                  My husband was sitting next to me and my big black eye. They asked me if I felt safe at home and I started laughing. “Do you think if he had beat me up that I would tell you he had IN FRONT OF HIM?” I asked.

                  On the forms my doc gives me that ask me about sunblock, seatbelts, and domestic abuse, I just roll my eyes and refuse to answer.

                6. Lee Ann*

                  Oh, I got that one at the college health center when I went in with a sprained ankle – “has your boyfriend ever hit you?” Well, my boyfriend was my karate instructor, and I was training for my black belt test! But I figured “yes, every Friday night” wouldn’t go over well :)

                7. Effective Immediately*

                  It’s also a funding requirement for some facilities. Private practices are less likely to ask those questions.

                  I’m actually really surprised there are people who object to it. You can answer no and it’s no big deal, but for the people (usually women) who answer yes, it can be a path to lifesaving resources. It gets asked of everyone, so I’m confused as to what the objection is…that it’s a privacy violation?

                  At my facility we never screen for intimate partner violence with anyone else in the room; that is flabbergasting to me. How completely pointless.

              1. Mpls*

                Doctors are not actors of the state (government officials) and abuse is seen as a public health concern. So, not the best example. But still not justification for government intrusion without cause.

              2. LQ*

                I’m ok with it, as someone who has lied about it, if I was able to say yes, and the doctor was able to give me the tools I needed, that would be great. A routine doctor’s appointment can be a space that isn’t monitored by a spouse. My doctor also asks about other health related things like depression, excessive drinking, drugs, etc. Assuming this is your doctor in your annual visit checking to see what your current health status is I think it makes a lot of sense. It’s not like they are putting cameras in your home to check or sending an investigator to follow you around. It’s a question, you can lie if you want or feel the need.

                Though the question has usually been something much more like do you feel unsafe, which is a better way to ask it because it covers a wider range of things and isn’t quite so aggressive of a question as has anyone hit you.

                1. the gold digger*

                  “Yes, I feel unsafe. I am pretty sure my cats are just waiting for me to get to room temperature and they are always underfoot, making the mere act of walking dangerous.”

                2. Turanga Leela*

                  I like the question too. My doctor asks it as “Do you feel safe at home?” The first time I heard it, I was caught off guard—I was there for hand surgery, which is not really related—and if I hadn’t felt safe, I probably would have admitted it rather than lied. It’s like taking your blood pressure at the dentist’s office, which seems to happen now too. They try to do the interventions where they can.

                  My doctor never asks me about seatbelts or guns, though.

              3. Sarahnova*

                OT/ At your first midwife appointment during pregnancy, in the UK, the midwife will ask if you are safe at home and if you have had any pregnancies or births your partner doesn’t know about. She will also provide you with resources to use if you are experiencing domestic abuse. And healthcare staff technically are actors of the state (or at least are employed by the state) here. I can’t really imagine why I’d mind that though? It’s because of the high correlation between pregnancy and the onset of domestic violence. /OT

            2. neverjaunty*

              You do realize that an individual seeking to redress a wrong means “getting help from the government”, often by intrusion through things like inspections or lawsuits, because I sure hope you weren’t saying that people being abused at work ought to resort to self-help like kidnapping managers.

            3. Student*

              I hear what you’re saying, and I’m a huge skeptic of government over-involvement and intrusions and investigations.

              However, this kind of lawbreaking has become rampant. It’s not a minor crime, it’s a major widespread racket and it’s hurting the whole country. People who are poor, people who are immigrants, people who are young, people who are uneducated, minorities, and women are suffering under massive illegal wage suppression in various manifestations. The anecdotes are out there everywhere. The big data points there; profits are sky-high but the little people can’t get a break, year after year after year, in field after field. Wage disparities and promotion disparities among protected classes persist and persist and persist (and sometimes get worse – I’m looking at you, IT fields). The court cases are even there – when they try this stuff on more educated, more affluent, or more stubborn people who take up the fight. There was an incredibly huge silicon valley case where many huge firms were colluding to keep wages down. There was the Walmart case where women got consistently passed over for promotions in store after store and case after case.

              It’s real, and it is huge, and it is having a visible impact in country-wide economic data, and it is hurting YOU even if you aren’t directly impacted, though the economy. We have to do something to enforce the laws as they were intended. Do I know what? No. Maybe stings are a component, though. Maybe new legislation, maybe better enforcement of old legislation. Maybe something worse.

      2. curious*

        “I’d try to launch a verbal campaign in retaliation”

        Have you ever done anything like that? I’m curious if you have any pointers on how to make it successful.

    2. Just somebody*

      The company I work for now actually has a “no discussing wages” rule in writing. It’s not a religious school or a municipal government, so I’m not sure how we could be exempt from these laws. I like my company a lot and wouldn’t want to get anyone in trouble (including myself for pointing it out), but this policy really bugs me.

      1. KR*

        I wonder if you could print out the page from the government with the law against this kind of rule and go to your HR and frame it as you’re trying to help protect the company from a lawsuit like, “I was browsing my favorite management forums the other day and ran across this law. I wanted to bring it to your attention because I wasn’t sure if you all were aware of the rule.” And then document that you had the meeting.

        1. Koko*

          Ha, for a second reading your first sentence I thought you were suggesting that Just Somebody print out the page and put it in an actual frame and take it to HR’s office for them to hang on the wall!

          1. Ms. Didymus*

            You’re not alone. I thought the same thing and just laughed really hard at the thought of handing the HR rep a framed copy of the law.

      2. Ann Cognito*

        A company I used work for had a policy about this too, and it was in all new hire offer letters. I’m in CA, so there’s been a law about this for a long time in any case, beyond the NLRA. The last company wasn’t based in CA and didn’t know that the NLRA language covered them anyway, even though it was a non-union environment. When I started there and saw my offer letter, I brought it up with them, but I work in HR so it wasn’t an issue that I did. Is there anyone where you work that you could safely bring it up with?

    3. neverjaunty*

      I’m not sure “there’s nothing you can do and everything is terrible” is helpful or even correct advice for your own situation, let alone the OP’s.

      1) Again, in the US, when you ‘hire a lawyer’ for employment issues, it is standard for those lawyers to get paid via contingency – meaning instead of paying them out of pocket, they get paid a percentage of any recovery for you (and if there isn’t one, they eat the costs). This is precisely because people who are being fired or cheated out of their wages can’t afford to pay lawyers by the hour.

      2) Talking to a lawyer != rushing out and filing a lawsuit, any more than talking to a doctor means that you’re going to have surgery. A lawyer can advise you on the law in your state (not what your boss would like you to believe the law is), and on how to manage a terrible job situation – for example, creating written documentation of all those verbal abuses. A lawyer can tell you how good or bad your situation is from a legal POV. (For example, “it’s only verbal” doesn’t mean the company has a get out of jail free card; you don’t KNOW that there is nothing in writing being circulated among the management, and when you have multiple employees saying the same thing and managers saying inconsistent things that don’t match up with the company’s written statements, that’s… not good for the company.)

      3) Setting all the lawyer stuff aside, nobody is telling any OP that if they do certain things – talk to a lawyer, look for another job – everything will magically be fixed and good will triumph. But what’s the alternative? Doing nothing and hoping it gets better? Trying to find a job only after Jerk Manager fires her or steals her wages? Passing up the chance to get a better situation because life isn’t fair?

    4. Koko*

      Marx called it the Reserve Labor Army. By keeping some amount of the population unemployed, the capitalist class enjoys additional leverage over their employees because they are all replaceable and there aren’t enough jobs to go around.

  8. Rose*

    I have a question about the rule where you can’t stop workers from talking about wages. A couple months ago at my job a coworker was going around asking people how much they made and reporting the information publicly to everyone else, along with commentary about how some people deserved more and others less. People felt harassed and uncomfortable so our manager told her to cut it out. Was that illegal?

    1. The IT Manager*

      She can ask. You do not have to answer. But what your co-worker did was perfectly and the company can’t legally stop it. Although is about workers rights, pay transparency, organizing workers, and not gossip. You personally tell her her to stop talking to you about it.

      On the other hand, you now have a lot of info about others salaries that you can use to your advantage when thinking about asking for raise.

      1. The IT Manager*

        Aargh! Reading on phone. Missed your actual question. Yes, I think it was; although, solution is for the coworkers to tell her to knock it off and not your boss.

      2. Apollo Warbucks*

        In a situation where someone is actively harassing staff surly the firm can prevent that behaviour?

    2. Natalie*

      It sounds like it might have been, actually. Poking around the NLRB’s site, they’ve had a few cases where a worker has discussed some other worker’s pay and that has been found to be covered. Hispanics United seems particularly relevant:

      After hearing a coworker criticize other employees for not doing enough to help the organization’s clients, the employee posted those allegations to her Facebook page. The initial post generated responses from other employees who defended their job performance and criticized working conditions, including work load and staffing issues. Hispanics United later fired the five employees who participated, claiming that their comments constituted harassment of the employee originally mentioned in the post. […] the NLRB [decided] that the employees’ Facebook discussion was protected concerted activity because it involved a conversation among coworkers about their terms and conditions of employment, including their job performance and staffing levels.

      That said, there’s nothing preventing other employees from telling her to shut it.

    3. Ann Cognito*

      It’s dicey ground for a manager, and it really would be best for the co-workers to tell the employee asking to stop. Surely, of a group of people, not every single one of them would be afraid to say something? For a manager to address it, even clearly saying it’s not the asking about pay that’s in question, since that’s perfectly legal, but rather that it’s making co-workers uncomfortable, is tricky I think.

      1. Rose*

        Nobody had a problem with it when she was asking. Basically what happened was after she got the info she became upset that certain people were being paid higher than what she felt they deserved and began to complain about it. I personally asked her to stop and she did but then started up again. She’s not the easiest person to talk to and eventually a group of people went to the manager, who told her to stop.

        1. Natalie*

          That sounds uncomfortable, certainly, but probably was protected activity. She was complaining about her own working conditions in relation to others.

          1. neverjaunty*

            If your male co-workers with less experience are getting paid more than you because your company thinks your husband should be the breadwinner in your family, I would say that’s your business.

            Whether it’s illegal or not is a big “it depends”, but I would think a good manager could stay within the law if they were clear that it’s OK to discuss wages, but harassing a co-worker about any topic by bugging them when they’ve told you to leave them alone is problematic.

            1. Brandy in Tn*

              Its none of her business to do survey of her co-workers pay rates and decide she feels so and so isn’t paid nearly enough. That’s where its none of her business. If she was just discussing and it came up, that’s one thing, but it sounds like he surveyed her co-workers on her on and the didn’t lie it.
              And I have one male coworker in my dept, if hes paid more, then apparently hes a better negotiator then I am.

              1. Natalie*

                Regardless, she has a legal right to do so, which was the OP’s question. Whether or not the manager felt this was appropriate, it probably wasn’t wise, legally speaking, to tell this employee to stop discussing pay.

              2. Koko*

                That may be the case for you with your one male coworker and your particular employer, but that doesn’t mean wage discrimination doesn’t happen. The reason this speech is protected is precisely to act as a check against wage discrimination. It’s always your prerogative to refuse to disclose your salary, of course, but it’s a cultural norm that enables employers to discriminate more easily because their own employers are protecting their dirty secret, which is unfortunate.

              3. Student*

                Technically, it is very much exactly her business. She is not entitled to the information, but the salaries of co-workers directly impact her own pay, how much the company can afford to spend on other things, etc. She may not have standing within the company to make those decisions. She may complain futility about it. If she thinks the company she works for is misusing resources and making poor decisions, that’s pretty much the definition of “her business”. Her livelihood is at stake if they make poor decisions, and her salary is directly impacted by her co-worker’s salaries.

                I know it can feel (and may very well be) a much more personal attack when someone calls you over-paid. It may be that she’s the “wrong person” to bring up the problem and can’t effectively address it in her current role, so she’s stirring up hard feelings to no gain. It could be that she identified something as a problem that reasonable people could disagree over, or she could be plain old wrong. But your attitude toward her caring about this seems misguided at best; it makes more sense for her to care about this than to not be interested at all in it, as you seem to be.

                1. Rose*

                  For the record, the coworker in question thought I was underpaid- she was specifically talking about three coworkers (who all happen to be the only three members of a certain racial minority on our team, but I won’t get into that, since she never actually mentioned that) and how they didn’t “deserve” to be making the same amount of money that we were, since she thought they were bad workers. She thought that we deserved raises for being better then them. From reading all of your comments I understand that our manager probably committed an illegal act by telling her to shut up, but at the time her actual behavior was so outrageous and unnerving to everyone around her that something needed to be done- she was alienating the whole office at that point and nobody wanted to work with her.

    4. Not Gloria A.A., B.S.*

      I’m not in HR, a lawyer, or even a manager, but IMO it sounds like the manager told her to stop making people feel uncomfortable and harassing them. Plus I believe the law says that it can’t prevent employees from discussing wages. It doesn’t sound like there was a discussion, just a questionnaire and commentary.

  9. Robin B*

    Interesting on the upcoming book publication–I’ve always left my fiction publications and that I have a part time novel writing career off my day-job resume, figuring it would appear I wouldn’t focus on the main work. What does everyone think about that?

    1. I'm a Little Teapot*

      I’ve usually done the same (also a fiction writer, with no novels yet but several shorter publications). My current day job knows because of a nondisclosure/intellectual property agreement, but this was considerably after I was first hired. I also worry about employers being put off by the content of my stories – thinking they’re “trashy” or “too weird” or objecting to the sex or violence they sometimes contain. I did once put my fiction credits on a resume for a place that specifically asked for well-educated people with wide-ranging interests seeking side jobs, and I got that job. But usually I don’t know whether my fiction will be an asset or a liability, so I leave it off until I get a sense for what the employer is like.

      1. Robin B*

        Thanks for the input. My current employer knows and has no problem , but I am thinking about sending out resumes later this year. Probably safer to leave it off– I work in banking.

        1. Bibliovore*

          I would leave off the novel unless you are applying for an academic position where publication is seen as a plus. The resume should focus on job skills that apply to the position.

    2. Kelly L.*

      I think it’s specifically because she wants to apply for writing jobs–it’s another bit of evidence that she can write well. I wouldn’t put it on there, necessarily, if I were applying to do something totally unrelated.

      1. OP#5*

        Yeah, I’d leave it off otherwise, but when applying to writing-related jobs, I was curious as to the format of listing forthcoming publications.

        My non-writing-related workplaces knows and is very supportive, but yes, I also think it would’ve been an irrelevant resume detail to include for that application.

    3. katamia*

      I leave mine off because I write horror, science fiction, and fantasy, which are genres that a lot of people could have problems with. I’ve also worked in education in the past (and may do so again), so I think the possibility of it costing me a job is higher than it might be in some other industries.

      1. katamia*

        Also, although it’s not my only reason for doing so, this is one of the major reasons I write under a pen name. Someone who was really, really determined might be able to figure out who I am with enough Googling, but unless I’m making JK Rowling or Stephen King levels of cash (hah, not likely), I want my stories and writing blog to be difficult or impossible for potential employers to find.

    4. Spondee*

      I also leave my fiction publications off my resume, and I work as a writer. That said, fiction writing is not uncommon among copywriters and editors, and I’ve seen a lot of resumes that list fiction publications. As long as it’s at the bottom and not taking up a ton of space, it doesn’t bother me.

      I’ve gotten a couple resumes that list fiction publications above work experience, or a CV-style bibliography of every single fiction publication, and that does make me wonder about their priorities.

    5. LQ*

      I’ve generally left the not main job writing related stuff off my resume. When it was non-fiction I only included it when it was very directly relevant (which it was on a couple jobs, but not most). As I’m getting to fiction I will absolutely be leaving it off. For the non-fiction it was about not appearing focused on the main work. For the fiction I worry that it would turn people off because of the content, even if it just isn’t the genre they like, as well as for not appearing focused on work.

      If I was looking for a more writing related job I might reconsider.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        I write mostly non-fiction that’s directly related to my professional career, and almost* everything is on my professional CV (and on LinkedIn, under Projects).

        The one fiction piece I’ve had published, while actually surprisingly closely related to my day job, is about zombies and is therefore not included on any professional material :D I used my real name and it’s easy enough to find, but I don’t intend to put it front and central!

        *I have something new that I’ve been very cautious about including. It’s still going back and forth to my editor so it’s not in its final-final form, I don’t have a publication date yet, and it has the potential to be distracting at work. So I’m waiting. My boss, grand-boss, and great-grand-boss all know and are fine with it, but I don’t want to be fielding endless questions about it at work until I have more details!

    6. The IT Manager*

      I am not a writer, but I love to read and greatly admire good authors. Basically I think anyone who can get published has accomplished a lot. OTOH unless the job is writing related I think it may be best to leave it off because it can convey that the job you’re searching for is your side job that comes in second to you’re writing. Even knowing as I do that very few authors can quit their day jobs, I may wonder if you’ll be trying to write while at work.

      Basically it’s upholding the job hunting fiction that the job you’re applying for is something you’re 100% enthusiastic about and the job you most wish you had.

    7. new reader*

      I’ve always considered a resume to be a place to highlight skills and experiences relevant to the job you’re seeking. So if the part-time novel writing has components that can illustrate specific skills to a prospective employer, than I would think it should be included. If it’s extraneous to the job you’re applying for, leave it off.

      When I’ve been involved in hiring processes, I would primarily look at resumes for what they could tell me about why this candidate would be good for this position – or not.

    8. Biff*

      I likewise agree that fiction should be left off of resumes unless you are applying for a job where it is truly and undeniably relevant (which is not very many of them.) I think the risk that it can hurt you is stronger than the possibility it might help your cause.

      I’d make an exception for someone who is being published by a major press, or who has a multi-book deal and already has GOOD reviews on Amazon/Goodreads/B+N. But someone with a contract from a smaller and no book yet? I really wouldn’t include that on a resume.

  10. Brigitha*

    OP #1: I’ve worked in food service for years. There’s nothing worse than a new manager who apparently doesn’t understand how to manage. It’s worse in food service because turn over is so high, and unfortunately servers are pretty replaceable. If you have a good relationship with the owner or someone else who is her boss, you might want to have a calm, candid conversation with them, but really I second all the advice here that says it’s time to start looking. Polish your resume, contact your former manager(s) who will speak to your awesome record, and when you fill out applications make sure you put the contact for your current restaurant as the owner or other senior employee (not the current terrible manager). Serving is awesome when you have a good crew and good manager. Hope you find a better position soon. Good luck.

  11. Mark in Cali*

    #1) I’ve had my share of waiting tables and I often find that the mangers put in charge are usually the young, untrustworthy ones. In my experience they usually put someone who was a good server, but not a good leader in those manager positions. It also usually a young person who has decided that food service is their career and they forget how many of the the former fellow waitstaff using waiting tables as a stepping stone. Your situation seems different because she has no prior food service experience which is really odd.

  12. MashaKasha*

    How was OP1’s manager even hired? She’s got no prior experience in the industry, she appears to not know her arse from a hole in the ground, she’s violating labor laws and opening the restaurant to all kinds of valid complaints, and she’s all around a terrible person. I admit I am not familiar with how the hiring process works in the food industry, but one has to wonder, what were all the other candidates like that the management decided to go with this one?!?! Or was she someone’s friend or relative?? The mind boggles.

    The phone cord incident is beyond weird. It would be weird even if she hadn’t later implied that a $40 phone cord can be used in lieu of a pay raise, which is… I just have no words!

    1. Kelly L.*

      There was a rich guy in MyOldTown who bought his college-age son a restaurant, to get him some early management and business experience. You never know.

    2. KR*

      Honestly, it isn’t uncommon to find terrible managers in the food industry. Most people just assume that if they like good food then the rest will fall into place.

    3. OP #1*

      She was hired on from a different department in the corporation – without going into too much detail, I work for a hospitality corporation and she was in a catering department doing desk work, nothing actually having to do with food. I guess that counted as close enough to experience?

      Though we had some spectacular people applying from within the restaurant itself. Everyone was a bit baffled by the choice.

  13. Brooke*

    I had a situation similar to OP #1.

    Stellar reputation. Manager tried to throw me under a fleet of buses. HR was sympathetic to a point.

    I left. I had to prioritize my own mental health and career path over someone’s batshit craziness. No regrets.

  14. Regina 2*

    Re: #1 — What happens if you signed an employment agreement with an employer, accepting their offer, in which there is a clause that says you cannot speak to your colleagues about your salary? Is the document itself not binding in any way, or have I ceded my right by signing it?

    1. Ann Cognito*

      Do you mean an offer letter? An employee can’t “sign away” their rights. An employer might try to hold the fact over your head that you’d agreed to not discuss your earnings by signing the offer letter, but if it’s not legal, they can’t use it as a defence. Of course, they might fire you, but if you can then show it was because you discussed your wages, you probably have a good chance of winning.

  15. TootsNYC*

    If I were the manager for that Good Egg, #2, who thought of her coworker’s needs when she was being asked to name her schedule (a perk she -deserved- because of her longevity–and I bet because she’s better at her job than Demanding Coworker), I would want to know about these conversations.

    And I’d probably call Demanding Coworker in and say, “I understand you’re not happy with your new hours. I want to make a few things clear: Your colleague was given first choice because she has worked here a long time. She has seniority, and with seniority comes things that may look like privileges.
    “But they aren’t–they’re actually decisions made by the managers for the good of the business. A long-term employee is a more valuable employee than you are. Someone who has experience here, and who will still be here when you go back to college in August, is someone that we will be more interested in pleasing. We will want to make sure we don’t lose valuable employees, and some employees are more valuable than others. This is something I want you to understand about the working world.
    “I also want you to understand that managers often request that things be kept confidential until final decisions are made and announcements can be made by managers. Why get people upset if it turned out that we didn’t need to cut people’s hours after all? Your colleague was specifically ordered to not mention our fact-finding questions until our final decision was made. I understand you think she should have told you, but I want you to realize that this is not how the working world operates. We would have been within our rights to fire her for disobeying that order. Or, it might have changed our opinion of her professionalism. She’s not smart if she sabotages herself just to make you feel better. That’s something you might find yourself wanting to remember at some point in your own working future.
    “Do you have any questions about this situation? And now that I’ve addressed them, I don’t want to hear that this is a topic of discussion ever again. Is that clear?”

  16. Effective Immediately*

    Oooo OP1, non-restaurant people trying to jump in and manage restaurants with no experience is one of my A1 Gripes about the restaurant industry. It happens all the time. I had a similar situation with an owner’s wife (who spent all of the restaurant’s money but never actually set foot in it until the money started to dry up) that caused me to leave restaurants for good. You have my utmost sympathy.

    I was in the business a long time before moving on to manage other things, but the number of people that think restaurant work is just “unskilled labor” that any schmuck can do is just astounding. When the whole Fight for 15 thing went down, I saw people who were entry-level Call Center Reps that never worked a food job in their lives bloviating that they should just go into restaurant management now–because they could totally do it better than, you know, actual restaurant managers. I am convinced this attitude is what causes the preponderance of bad managers in the industry; they’re absolutely endemic. The best I can say is try to find a place with a strong corporate structure and high levels of accountability, as it will cut down on the ability of managers to get away with bad behavior, but it’s far from a fail safe.

    I have no other practical advice here, just commiseration. It is a rare restaurant indeed that values industry expertise, and it tends to be in the larger city/fine dining scene more than anything. I know in my mid-sized city food is treated as something you do if you’re too stupid to do anything else; it’s so depressing. Good luck!

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