telling my boss someone doesn’t want to work with him, an ageist job applicant, and more

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

1. Telling my creepy boss that a contact wants to work with me and not him

How do I tell my creepy boss that his former business contact wants to work with me and not him? I work as a part-time independent contractor for a company. My boss is a good guy, but often comes off as creepy and inappropriate (I haven’t figured out a way to tell him this yet). Not too long ago, we lost a contract with another business, partly because the manager no longer wanted to work with my boss (things apparently ended badly there). I remain friends with an employee at this business, who recently asked me to come in for a special project. Just me, not my boss or his company; they don’t want him involved at all.

I really want to take this opportunity. There’s nothing legally that will prevent me from doing so, but ethically, I feel like I need to tell my boss (he will definitely find out about it whether I tell him or not). I know he’s going to be upset, and there’s no good way for me to say “These people think you’re creepy and don’t want to work with you.” If he does get upset about this, I’m considering offering him a small cut of whatever pay I get, as I would never have made the connection or been able to impress this business without him or his contact. Other people I’ve talked to think this is unnecessary. This is just a part-time job which I don’t need to pay the rent, but I do want to make sure that I act properly here and don’t burn any bridges.

I don’t think you have any obligation to give him a cut of whatever pay you get; in fact, I think it would be odd to do that. I don’t even think you’re necessarily obligated to give him a heads-up since you’re a contractor and presumably have other clients in the industry, although it’s possible that your specific set-up with means that you should. But since things ended badly between him and the other business, hopefully he won’t be terribly surprised to learn that they don’t want to work with him, but who knows. Regardless, I’d approach it from the assumption that he’ll handle it professionally; if he doesn’t, you can cross that bridge then, but do him the favor of assuming he can take it.

If he does get upset or asks why they didn’t come to him, I’d either be totally neutral (“I’m not sure” — since it’s not your job to be the middle-person between them) or say “I know they’d ended their contract with you earlier, but you probably know more about those circumstances than I do!”

2. Should I tell an applicant we rejected him because of his ageist behavior?

I am a supervisor and recently interviewed an applicant who my colleagues and I agreed would not be a good fit, not because he didn’t have the qualifications but because he displayed behavior that we believed was very unprofessional. During the interview, he completely disregarded me and one of my colleagues. He centered all of his attention on our second colleague and even had his body facing that person. It was as if he was pretending my colleague and I were not there; whenever we asked him questions, he would answer them but would not look at us. When he responded, he would only look at our second colleague. The position he was interviewing for would be under my supervision, and he was told more than once that I was the manager. However, this did not change his behavior; he continued to disregard me and my colleague, and when the interview ended, he walked away from me when I was trying to give him post-interview information.

The more we observed his behavior, the more we felt that it had something to do with our ages. My second colleague is the senior in the office and is a lot older than us. We felt that the applicant must have assumed that he was the real manager in the office just because he looked older. Also, my colleagues told me that the applicant had stopped by a few weeks prior to ask about his application and was incredibly rude to my colleague and was only cordial when my second colleague stepped out to assist (I was not in the office when this happened and was shocked to hear this).

Immediately after the interview, I sent the applicant a rejection letter. Now, I have been receiving emails from him demanding to know why he was not selected. I feel that I should give him feedback, but at the same time, I don’t know how appropriate it is to provide the kind of feedback I want to give. I feel that he needs to know that it is not okay to ignore your interviewers, let alone walk away from them, and I feel that he should know that his behavior was very ageist. Is it ok to let an applciant know this?

Well, it’s not your job to tell him how to be a better interviewer, and frankly there’s an argument that you should let him go on revealing this side of himself to other employers, so they know what they’d be getting if they hire him. But I can certainly understand why, on principle, you might want to tell him how inappropriate his behavior was. I wouldn’t have any problem with you replying with something like, “You disregarded me and another colleague throughout the interview, even walking away from me while I was in mid-sentence afterward. I’ve also learned since our interview that you were rude to one of our employees when you stopped by our office a few weeks before and that, along with the tenor of the last few emails you’ve sent me, has confirmed my confidence in my decision.” Ooooh, it feels good just to write that out.

(Note I didn’t get into whether it was ageism or not, since that’s speculation and it doesn’t really matter; regardless of the cause, the behavior wasn’t okay.)

But lots of people will tell you not to bother, especially since his post-rejection behavior has been so obnoxious.

3. Company advertised one salary range but then told me a different one in person

I recently interviewed with a company which had a salary range of $40k- $64k on their job ad. It got down to the question of “What are your salary requirements, and what did you make at your last job?” I threw the ball in their court a couple of times, asking “Based on the range of the job, what is your department’s budget, how much does this position offer?” and it got to a point where I said, “I am looking for something within the range of $55k-65k.” The interviewer replied, “Our budget is $43k and that’s the maximum we can go for.” Why would they post a higher range? Isn’t this falsification on their part?

It’s possible that they’d pay some candidates the higher end of the range if they had the right experience or skills, but were only willing to pay the lower end of the range to others. It’s also possible that they changed the range after the job posting went up. It’s unlikely (not impossible, but far less common) that it was a deliberate attempt to mislead candidates about salary; the real explanations for this stuff are usually much more boring.

4. Mentioning in my cover letter that my mom is a teacher

I am a college senior and I am applying for a lot college admissions prep/ tutoring type jobs. I have experience working in college admissions because of my on-campus work-study job (which I really love!) But in addition to that, I was wondering if I could mention that my mother is a teacher and I have pretty much grown up in the classroom, helping her with everything from grading to individual tutoring. I would only mention this in the cover letter to provide context for why I’m interested in pursuing education. However, I still feel weird mentioning my mom in cover letter. What do you think?

I wouldn’t. It’s not that you can never mention your mom in a cover letter; for example, if you were applying for a job at an organization devoted to solving Disease X, I could see mentioning that the cause was close to your heart because your mom had Disease X. But in this case, I don’t think the mention would actually strengthen your candidacy. I do think you could say “I’ve been doing individual tutoring since I was 16” or something if that’s true, but I’d make that the focus, rather than the fact that you did it through your mom’s work.

5. Can my employer make me work on Sundays despite my religious beliefs?

When I first applied to my company, there was a section on the application that asked if there were any days I needed off each week. I wrote down that I needed every Sunday off because of church, and because I did not work at all on Sundays for religious reasons. I was hired as a part-time employee and had every Sunday off. I have since changed managers twice, been promoted to full-time, and have still never worked a Sunday.

Recently, my manager was talking to his boss about finding people to work Sundays, and his boss told him that for now on everybody has to be able to work on Sundays. If I refuse to work Sundays, can they fire me? Even though they agreed to give me every Sunday off by accepting my application in the first place? Can they fire me for me not working Sundays because of my religion?

If it’s relevant, I am in California. Currently I believe that we have about 12 workers, and we just hired two or three more who should start any week here.

The number of employees at your company is actually very relevant here. The federal law that requires religious accommodation, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, only applies to employers with 15 or more employees, so it’s not in play here. However, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act applies to employers with five or more employees and requires employers to accommodate employees’ religious beliefs as long as doing so wouldn’t create an undue burden. In general, courts have found that schedule changes are a reasonable accommodation for employers to offer.

I’d say this to your employer: “As you know, when I was hired, we agreed that I wouldn’t work on Sunday for religious reasons. I understand that our policies around working on Sunday are now changing, but because of my religious beliefs, I’m requesting an exemption from that as an accommodation under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.”

{ 438 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I’ve addressed this further down, but I’m putting it up here in bold so people see it before commenting. This isn’t the place for a debate about the merits of religion or lack of religion. Please resist any urge to get into that here (and I’m likely to delete further comments that do). Thanks.

    1. Mookie*

      Same. To do so would not exactly be courting such a response (to say so would be victim-blaming, I feel), but based on what you already know, this applicant has no qualms about overstepping boundaries and is likely to become aggressive. If you’re comfortable receiving a few hyperbolic protestations in response — or, worse, an in-person visit for more rude, entitled behavior — chance it. But I’d give your front staff a heads-up and, if they exist, follow in-house best practices for handling applicant rejections.

      1. Allison*

        Yeah, I have to agree. There’s a big difference between good people who make mistakes and respond well when corrected, and jerks who don’t see anything wrong with their behavior and get angry and defensive when someone points it out.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        +1. If he’s been this rude thus far and has sent so many emails just wanting to know why he was rejected, I bet if OP tells him, she’s just going to get a barrage of nasty emails telling her why she’s wrong.

      2. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

        This. I’ve sent feedback to candidates who seemed genuinely interested in improving, but this guy has already showed his true colors.

    2. Vdubs*

      So tempting! I would not respond at all to any further contacts from this individual. You told him it’s off; there is no need to discuss anything else. Also, I’m in the middle of reading The Gift of Fear, and this candidate sounds just a tad like one of the stories profiled.

    3. Menacia*

      I don’t think it would even be worth responding because it sounds like:
      a. He would not be able to comprehend what he was being told.
      b. If he did comprehend it, he would not care.
      He let the door hit him square in the ass on the way out, just leave him with the sting of that.

    4. Kimberlee, Esq*

      In response to the other replies here: the one time I gave harsh feedback to a candidate who had been a jerk in his application process, I was expecting to get back no answer or a jerky answer, and instead I got back something like “Looking back over our correspondence, you’re right. I’m sorry to have acted inappropriately, and I won’t contact you again.” He took full responsibility and I think genuinely took something important away. YYMV!

      1. pieces of flair*

        Interesting! I’ve only provided semi-negative feedback to a rejected candidate once (she’d made some comments in the interview that made us concerned about interpersonal drama in the workplace) and she also took it well. I’d be interested in hearing more details about what happened with your jerky candidate.

    5. LBK*

      I want the OP to do it just for my vicarious desire to see how the conversation plays out, but that’s probably not a good enough reason for her to have to endure what I’m sure will be a contentious exchange.

      1. One of the Sarahs*

        I want that too, and a follow-up – but of course it’s more important she has an easier time without jerks in her life!

  2. Bookworm*

    For #2: I would be so tempted if I were in your shoes, although you could be opening a huge can of worms.

    But like Alison said, I think you should focus on their actions, not speculating on their motivation. Not that it’s impossible, but it’s a lot harder to argue with someone who says “You did x” rather than “You thought x”.

    1. Artemesia*

      No good can come to providing feedback to people who are rude. I would consider feedback to a candidate whose problem was something else and that was fixable, but if they are rude in the interview, to colleagues and then ‘demanding’ in follow up, providing feedback just escalates the potential for ugliness. Let him twist in the wind.

      1. Bookworm*

        Oh, I think you’re absolutely right. Honestly, I really can’t think of many times where I’ve ever really told someone off. (Never, I think, in a work context.)

        But there’s something so juicy and satisfying about imagining it. (And I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as a vindictive person at all, it’s just when someone behaves so egregiously, you want to believe you can hit the right cutting remark to make them reconsider their behavior. But alas: wishful thinking, I’m sure.)

        1. neverjaunty*

          I prefer to imagine him raging into the silence instead of getting the response he demands. That’s so much worse for egotists than telling them off!

        2. Yetanotherjennifer*

          That’s why I used to love “Murphy Brown” back in the day. She could get away with saying all the things I wish I could have.

        3. BethRA*


          I’ve written a couple of imaginary emails to an applicant who sent an email full of snark and condescension to ask for an update on their application (everyone who applies gets an immediate notification that we have their application and will be in touch if yada yada yada, so it’s not like they hadn’t gotten any notice at all). It was bad enough that we’re not going to bother looking at their resume, and that’s saying something.

          But what’s the old saying? “never try to teach a pig to sing, it wastes your time and annoys the pig”? They’re not going to listen, and nothing good is going to come of my trying to engage. Thinking about it is fun, though.

      2. Just me*

        I had a candidate like this. He would not stop calling me, demanding to know why he wasn’t chosen. He also left me a two minute nasty email. I finally told him I was calling security and he stopped.

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Sometimes the good that comes of it is simply that it’s satisfying when someone has behaved really badly to tell them that. I’ve done it on a few occasions in similar contexts to the OP’s, and I didn’t do it because I expected to teach the applicant anything; I did it solely for the satisfaction of saying something. I’m not going to go out of my way to point out bad behavior from an applicant, but if directly solicited to do so in case like this? Sure, as long as the person hasn’t shown themselves to be scary or litigious. If it results in a further barrage of rude emails, I can handle that. (Interestingly, it never has.)

        1. Myrin*

          That’s where I’m coming down. I seem to be pretty much the only person in this thread to think that, but I’d totally send that email. I can still block/ignore/not answer him after that.

          1. Anna*

            I think I might do it. There are some things I’m really okay with letting slide, but if it’s egregious, I’m of the opinion it should be brought up if only for my peace of mind.

        1. Anna*

          It doesn’t always have to be because you’re doing that person a favor. Sometimes it’s just to air out the cupboards, especially if it were really offensive.

    2. Sophia in the DMV*

      I think even focusing on behaviors would get a response from this person re how wrong they are to interpret their behavior that way.

  3. After the Snow*

    #3 – while it could be a little of a bait in switch it could be as simple as people with this position can make 40-64k over their career. That is they start at 40K and will get raises over the years till they get to 64K.

    1. MK*

      I think that’s more a deliberate misrepresentation than “a little of a bait in switch”; unless one is epically clueless, they understand that “salary range” means what one is likely to be offered as salary, not how much they might be earning after 10 years on the job and 2 promotions later.

      If what the interviewer meant that a maximum of 43K is what they are willing to offer a candidate with the OP’s level of skills and experience, or if their budget was cut between posting the ad and the interview, that’s fair enough. But to advertise a range of 40-65K (which sounds oddly wide anyway) when you know the maximum you can offer is 43K is misleading.

      1. Evie*

        Yup. Seconding this. I’ve never know an $x-$y range to suggest the overall career range but what the highest and lowest the company is thinking of for that position – the highest if you’re their perfect candidate who ticks all thee boxes plus more, the lowest for those who just scrape in and the middle for everyone else. So a situation where $43k is their limit? Then the ad should have said $40-$45. The range posted is very misleading.

        Plus people assume that their salary will increase over time (in some cases any way) with raises and promotions and stuff. If a job says $40k, people would likely not expect that to stay their salary for ever.

      2. NJ Anon*

        I agree. I interviewed for a position last week. The job ad had a salary range of $60k to $90k. To me that means they are willing to pay somewhere in that range depending on experience, not that I’d start at $60k and eventually work my way up to $90k.

      3. Chocolate lover*

        I work at a university that has “grade” levels. Each posting lists the grade level of that job, and if you looked up the grade level, it could show a range of $20k or more. But that’s the range for the entire grade level as classified by HR, not any one position within the level or reflective of a particular department’s actual budget. My former dept always had a clearly defined budget, that was near the lower end of the range. There was no option of paying close to the high range, regardless of who the candidate was.

        I can see how the salary posting would be viewed as misleading, but we had no control over it.

        1. MK2000*

          I had been thinking about pay grades, too, because I have always worked for universities or for the state and knew that I could never be hired above the midpoint of a range, etc. However, the LW mentions that they were interviewing with a company, and the private sector isn’t usually subject to pay grades in such a strict way. I feel like the LW’s question is unanswerable without insight into the specifics of this department/organization (like Alison and MK said, was the budget cut? did the LW’s skillset merit, in their eyes, the bottom half of the range? etc.) and is just another frustrating part of job searching.

          1. Apollo Warbucks*

            My last two jobs at private sector firms had very ridged job and pay grades and I think thats’ quite common for corporate firms.

        2. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

          I applied for a county position that was like this. The pay was listed as $50k -$70k, but that was the pay grade range.

          During my initial phone screen the interviewer was very honest with me though that my salary was near the top of the pay range and they had only budgeted $x for the position.

        3. JMegan*

          Totally normal in government as well. Everywhere I have worked, jobs are classified by level and pay grade. The range for the job *classification* is posted in the ad, not the salary for the position itself. A new hire would almost always come in close to the bottom of the pay grade, unless they had a proven track record of working at that level.

          Think of it as the salary range of everyone working in this position, rather than the starting salary of someone who is new to the organization.

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            Oh that’s very interesting. Maybe I was wrong below. I’ve always known pay grades exist, of course, but I didn’t realize they’d publish the entire range in the job ad if one could never start near the top.

            1. doreen*

              Sometimes it’s not that no one can ever start near the top – it’s just that only internal candidates can. At my state government job, new hires nearly always come in at the bottom of the range and it takes seven years to get to the top of the range. But that’s only for new hires. If a current state employee is promoted, they are guaranteed a salary increase based on the difference in grade. If someone at the top of grade 24 earning approximately $88K is promoted to grade 29, they will earn about $95K while someone hired from the outside will start around $90K. Someone promoted from the top of the grade 28 range (earning about $105K) will earn about $109K, close to the top pay of $111K .

              1. MsChandandlerBong*

                My mom’s employer does the opposite, which I think is ridiculous. She was going to take a position in another department because it paid $2+ per hour more than she makes now, but it turns out it only pays $2+ more per hour if you are an outside candidate. If you already work for the company, they just keep you at your current pay rate. The job is a lot more responsibility and requires more technical skills than her current position, so she decided not to make the move if she wouldn’t be paid more.

          2. Joline*

            Yup. I work for a city and all of our job postings show the entire pay range because it ties to the job title on the ad.

            There are actually six steps (no one ever makes an amount that isn’t one of the six step amounts) and the highest I’ve ever seen someone start at is step 2. So my job has a range of $22,375.85 but I’ve only seen someone start at either the bottom or $4,402.40 in. But – it’s union and well-labeled as such, and it takes…three and a half years, I think? to get to the top of the pay range assuming you meet expectations.

            1. De Minimis*

              Fed jobs work the same way, they post the range for all steps of the job grade. And if it’s something where people could potentially be hired at multiple grades, they will post the range from the lowest grade, step 1 to the highest grade, step 10.

              When it’s a nationwide posting where people could be hired at 4 different grades the range gets pretty ridiculous, because then they may start to include locality adjustments.

        4. LBK*

          Yeah, this was my guess if we want to give a charitable interpretation of the listing: they gave the range for the job grade, not the job.

      4. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I don’t know. Coming from a state university perspective, the salary bands do mean exactly that: minimum starting salary through the amount at which the job title ‘maxes out’. A candidate is unlikely to start at (or even very near) the max for the position.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I was posting at the same time as Chocolate lover, and I meant exactly what she said about the salary bands.

        2. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

          I think that depends on the University. When I worked for a state school, I was hired on at $8k below the top of my pay-grade, which was $12k above the bottom.

        3. Mona Lisa*

          Exactly. I recently started a position at a university, and during the negotiation stage, there was a lot of confusion between me and my now employer. The pay range listed was $14-21/hour, and given my experience, I expected to come in at the upper third of that. However, it turns out you can’t access that upper third without five years’ experience in that role. Now knowing that about universities, I can evaluate job postings better, but it was really confusing as someone from the outside looking in.

        4. AnonInSC*

          At our local state Uni, it’s very difficult to hire about the median of the band. They do post the band range and the hiring range – but that usually truly is a range that is influenced by experience etc.

          1. Elsajeni*

            Yeah, my university lists both the grade and a narrower “hiring range” that represents what you might actually be offered. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

          2. Anna*

            Yes. I applied for a job at a community college that gave a range and then right under it said that the person hired would start at the low end of the range. It was explicitly stated.

        5. pieces of flair*

          Yup, that’s how my university does it. The posting for my current job just listed the range for the pay band it was in, something like $34,000-$64,000. I found out at the interview that they had a strict budget of $34,000. Next time they list it I’m going to recommend that they give the actual number from the start. (I think if they leave that field blank, HR just fills in the pay band information?)

      5. Kyrielle*

        Yes, in a job ad the range should be what you’re willing to offer, IMX. However…at many tech jobs, for instance, that range covers 2-3 possible starting titles, depending on your experience and knowledge.

      6. Stranger than fiction*

        Yeah, the only time I can think of where they really do inflate the maximum is when it’s Sales and you really can earn “up to $X”, but they don’t say that specifically, and it’s not usually until you ramp up. But people understand in Sales, they want to lure you as to what the potential is. Otherwise, I agree it was most likely meant as the starting range they’ll offer, and for whatever reason they’re lowballing now and offering the Op the lower end of the range. No harm in asking or negotiating. Even though the HR person made it sound firm, you never know, maybe that’s just what they do. Of course they’re going to prefer someone not negotiate.

      7. FlamingTurtles*

        #3 actually sounds just like the company I used to work for. I was hired before they started even advertising positions, but the more recent hires all told similar stories. They saw a job posting for a full-time teapot developer, with range 45 – 60k. They would apply, and do well in interviews. Then the offer would come, and sometimes it was for teapot intern, or associate teapot assistant, or something else. Sometimes the position was correct, but the salary was always below 45k, and never full-time. Sometimes excuses would be given because the new hires were usually new graduates, but that’s all the company could hire, because no one else would agree to work for so little with such crappy benefits. And no surprise, none of the new hires worked out too well, since they all only took the low-paying job to get a few months of pay before they could find a good job. It was embarrassing to work for a company that continuously misrepresented job opportunities to sucker in cheap labor.

      8. LD*

        Often the range is the range for the position and new hires are hired into the organization closer to the bottom of the range. The top is not what you can expect after promotions, but is the top of the range after someone has been in the role for a few years and gets excellent performance reviews over a time frame as they become experienced in the role. So not a bait and switch, just a fundamental difference in the way companies look at job postings and the way applicants interpret the information provided. As Alison said, it’s typically a boring reason.

    2. Artemesia*

      I think posting a range from 40-64 when it means ‘someday you might make it to 64’ is deceptive on its face. A candidate with strong experience should fall at least midway in the range posted; to insist that this is the range but we don’t go higher than 43 is to lie to candidates.

    3. LQ*

      This is my guess too. In the place I work that is called your salary range and referred to as that. I think it is more a total immersion in that world and people start to forget that words me other things. I don’t think it is intended to be deceptive, I think it is more like how people start to use the jargon from their industry and forget that abbreviations mean different things or nothing.

      I find myself frequently saying, “That’s not what anyone who doesn’t work here calls that thing.”

    4. INTP*

      Yep. I do think it’s a bit of a bait and switch because I just don’t buy that so many HR people are clueless that someone hearing “The salary range is $55-75k” might assume that’s the potential starting salary, but it’s a not-uncommon one. At my staffing agency job we had a client who had an official salary range for each position but they were only willing to hire people at the midpoint or below, no matter their level of experience. Fair enough, but give potential hires the salary they might be offered or they will be pissed that they’re offered less than they expected!

      1. TootsNYC*

        Plus you could waste some time and energy. Because people who are already earning at that midpoint range might apply, and you’d interview them, and then discover it’s a no-go.

    5. TowerofJoy*

      Yes. This is how many local governments function. They will list the entire range of the salary, but it will be very very unlikely, regardless of your background, that you will get more than what ever the bottom number is. So if its 40-65K – they are going to be offering 40, or very close to that because that’s all they will have a budget for.

    6. Jen*

      I’m so glad to hear so may people saying this sounds ridiculous; I recently turned down a job offer where the salary range listed seemed reasonable (from $6k below my current salary to about $3k above), and then when we got through the interview process HR explained that everyone starts at the bottom, no matter what. (And then laughed at me when I suggested that my experience warranted something a little higher.) I always assumed that the range listed in the job ad meant that was the range within which they’d offer a starting salary – not the range you’d move through for working there for ten years!

  4. Artemesia*

    #1 I would feel as a contractor that I was poaching from a client if I took another client from him. I do think that it makes sense to say something like ‘The Ferndock Associates have approached me about doing some work for them on depot design; I pointed them back towards this organization but they made it clear to me they didn’t want to do business with you so I wanted to let you know I am going to take the contract.’ I wouldn’t offer to split the money.

    So is this a bad idea? I would think taking the business would get a contractor a reputation for poaching that would make other companies reluctant to hire them.

    1. Tau*

      That was my first thought. I’m a… non-independent? contractor and I suspect that for me, doing this would not be kosher and may in fact be explicitly forbidden by my contract. Not sure, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

    2. Sue Wilson*

      Can you explain why this would be poaching? I thought for poaching relevant, the company OP works for would have to be able to obtain the contract and OP would be cutting into that opportunity, which isn’t the case since the boss ruined that relationship on his own. I guess I don’t understand why you think you would be taking a client from someone, when they had no chance with that client?

      1. nofelix*

        Perception can be reality: your reasoning is sound but it relies on the boss being aware that he was out of the running. If he lacks this awareness then he’ll see it as poaching and that’s what he’ll tell other people. If the boss if influential then it might not be worth taking the work.

        1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

          I had an aquintence who was burned in this manner. He has a contract with a local marketing firm for 120 hours per month of design time.

          Short version of the story is quite a few people who work at this firm are jerks and are constantly churning and burning clients. But people do put up with it for awhile because their work is good.

          Contractor designer was approached by a company that was feed up by the firm, but really liked his work, to do some contract design work. Because his contract has nothing it that would pervent this, he does the work.

          The firm terminated his contract over this and he had to fight to get what they owed for the month :(

        2. Sue Wilson*

          Sure, if perception was what Artemesia was talking about, although in this case, the OP says her boss is a good guy, just clueless, so I would assume some reasonableness considering that even OP is aware the contract before with the boss ended badly.

          But Artemesia seems to be dealing with a completely different definition of poaching altogether in her first sentence of what she considered poaching.

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            He may be clueless about some things, but if it ended that badly with this former client, he has to at least be aware of that fact and that they’re unlikely to do business with him again, I’d think.

      2. Artemesia*

        If the reason they know of your work is that they worked with you at X company it looks like poaching. For example, I worked through an organization for a business in Kuwait that hired us to do some training; the contract was fairly pricey but my pay not so much. The organization later offered me a private contract that was more lucrative for me personally, but much as I wanted to do it and while I had no contractual language forbidding it, I passed on it because they only knew of me through that original contract. If you are a consultant/independent contractor getting this kind of reputation dries up consulting fast with larger organizations.

        1. Sue Wilson*

          That’s genuinely how independent contracting works in many industries though. Besides which, in your case, the business hadn’t told you that the possibility for your organization was nil, which is different that what’s happening here.

          I understand the concern for appearances noted above, but y’all seem to be dealing with a completely different definition of poaching.

          1. Anna*

            Agreed. This is not poaching and it’s not even unusual. The OP should follow Alison’s advice and not feel any guilt about it.

        1. Anna*

          Why not? NJ Anon is absolutely correct. The boss will not get this account back no matter what, so the OP (who is self-employed) should be able to take it on.

          1. Anna*

            And as someone else pointed out elsewhere in this thread, the person OP calls Boss is not actually their boss. They are a self-employed contractor.

    3. TootsNYC*

      I wouldn’t say this exactly: ” they made it clear to me they didn’t want to do business with you”

      I’d say, “They made it clear that they preferred to book me independently.”

  5. neverjaunty*

    OP #2, you know what’s going to happen if you reply to this guy. He’ll just argue with you and/or try to contact somebody at your company to go over your head. Anyone who DEMANDS to know why you didn’t hire them has signaled they’re not interested in self-improvement.

    1. Purple Dragon*

      Quote ” Anyone who DEMANDS to know why you didn’t hire them has signaled they’re not interested in self-improvement.” /Quote

      NeverJaunty sums up my feelings on the situation with this one sentence. You’ll just get an argument and a flood of emails telling you why you’re wrong – as tempting as it may seem it’s not worth the fallout.

    2. Artemesia*

      I didn’t respond to a similar case except for one brief — ‘sorry you are disappointed but we felt other candidates were a better fit.’ (his email handle had put me off — not alone disqualifying, just heightened my sensitivity to looking, he had done work elsewhere in our org and so I spoke with those he had worked with which further reduced interest, and then he harassed our secretary with endless phone calls demanding an interview) His response was to go to the top claiming age discrimination. When the CEO’s assistant followed up with me, I pointed out we had hired a 58 year old woman for the position and the previous hire for a similar position was a 60 year old man. That was the last I heard of it.

      1. Winter is Coming*

        We had a similar situation, only the guy made it to the interview. We ended up selecting another candidate, and when I let him now he hadn’t been hired, that’s when the e-mails started. First, it was age discrimination. The guy we did end up hiring is 60, so we were good there. Then, he claimed that we didn’t hire him because of his “medical condition.” What that condition was, I still don’t know. He went away, then re applied again few years later. I did not call him in for an interview. Then, a year or two after that, when we were looking to fill a position via a staffing agency, they sent me his resume. He was like a bad penny!

        1. Artemesia*

          LOL. Like someone who has already accused you of several violations is going right to the top of your list for interviews. In our case, I would have interviewed him based on his resume alone but his email handle was bizarre and inappropriate although not obscene or anything like that and so that caused me to do some checking up on him to see if it was just a minor quirk or indicative of further horseassery. That led to input that took him off the table. The reference was mixed but the one thing they were quite negative on was precisely the thing we were trying to avoid. When they are entitled they don’t give up though.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Right? “Oh no! Please don’t sue us, we’ll hire you right away! said no hiring manager ever.

    3. Allison*

      Agreed. Asking for feedback is fine, but if someone demands a reason, they don’t just want an explanation. They feel you owe it to them to re-open the door and give them a chance to argue their way into the job. The logic is faulty, of course; being persistent is important in some fields, but no one wants to hire someone who’s always combative and can’t accept decisions made by higher-ups.

      1. LQ*

        I agree very much with these points. They think they are going to be able to Logic their way into the job if you’d just tell them why. Do not engage.

        1. Artemesia*

          The same guy wants a reason she broke up with him. The idea that there need be no ‘reason’ except ‘don’t wanna’ doesn’t register.

          1. Allison*

            And of course, no reason she gives is gonna be good enough for him. It’s why I often don’t give a reason when I reject someone’s advances. If it’s someone I don’t know, it’s “not interested” and if it’s someone I do know I say “I’m not attracted to you” or “I’m not into you that way.”

          2. LQ*

            The thing is often the answer is sort of a handwave and point at exactly the behavior that they are currently expressing. The “demand” that’s enough. That you would demand after 1 date or an interview (or less!)… anything? You can maybe “demand” an answer after you’ve been employed for years or have been married, but even then, that’s probably part of the problem.

          3. neverjaunty*

            Yep. The mentality is the same: I want something from you and you have to give it to me unless you have an acceptable explanation why not.

      2. Bwmn*

        Exactly this.

        I used to work for a highly specialized cause nonprofit where certain life choices simply made some people inappropriate to work there. Every now and then people with resumes who had these incompatible points would challenge why they weren’t hired or even why they weren’t invited for an interview.

        It was often clear that there was no interest in actually hearing why Drink Tea, Never Coffee Org felt it inappropriate to hire a professed coffee drinker – it was just a chance to argue. As much as the desire was there to soapbox, it was just never a good idea.

  6. Sara smile*

    #2 – this issue seems to have come up a few times recently (maybe in comments), where there is really poor behavior by interviewees. I am curious why interviewers don’t address it in the moment? Especially if interviewers later consider giving feedback.

    1. LisaLee*

      They did–the LW says she informed him several times that she was the manager for the position to try to get him to talk to her. In general, I don’t think a more direct “Do you realize you’re only speaking to Colleague #2?” is a good thing to do in an interview, because you’re basically turning it adversarial at that point.

      I also think that people are pretty loathe to directly confront people especially when they have no real need to do so.

      1. Sara smile*

        Fair enough, they did try to address it to some degree. I was more thinking the direct, “is there some reason you aren’t replying to me directly,” approach though. I am not sure what I would do myself but I do wonder how interviewees would respond if the interviewer asked them about it in the moment.

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          I dont think interviews are the place to be providing feedback or correcting people behaviour, the candidate should be on their best behaviour and the company should be able to see how they really act.

          1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            Agreed. IMO you get more revealing information when you don’t tell an interviewee that they’ve misstepped. If “Jane will be the manager for the person we hire” isn’t enough to make them treat Jane with respect, I don’t think the reason why matters.

            1. KiwiLib*

              Not only that, but interviewees should treat all interviewers with equal respect, regardless of whether they are the hiring manager, coworker, manager’s manager, or HR. it’s a big flag to me.

                1. Pwyll*

                  +1,000. If you’re rude to our support staff prior to or after the interview, you’re not going to get the job. And we definitely ask.

                2. neverjaunty*

                  YES. That is an automatic thanks but no thanks for your time. Someone who is blatantly rude to staff is going to be a subpar employee, period.

                3. INFJ*

                  Absolutely. I recently was part of the interview team for a candidate that would be in a role for which I would be in a relative support position. It really impressed me that he was still engaged/responsive/respectful and tried to “sell” himself to me even though I wasn’t a manager or would be at the peer level.

                4. Stranger than fiction*

                  Absolutely. I found out at some point after I was hired at my current job, that the “receptionist” up front was really a plant. She was actually an assistant from the other building. But when someone’s coming in for interview, they sit someone up there, not just to greet them and give them the application, but they’re told to note the interviewees attitude and things they say and give that feedback back to HR.

                5. Ad Astra*

                  I see “be nice to the receptionist!” in a lot of job-advice articles and it kind of bugs me. It’s like they’re leveling the playing field for candidates who are such jerks that they hadn’t considered being kind to the receptionist until someone pointed out it could help their chances. (Still, it is good advice, and it’s wise for hiring managers/HR to ask the receptionist about a candidate’s behavior.)

                1. Stranger than fiction*

                  Right? I once went on a first and last date, where the guy put a $10 on the table shortly after we sat down. As the dinner progressed, he’d remove a buck, and I asked him wth he was doing and he said “each time she doesn’t do something right or pisses me off, her tip goes down”. I was like nope.

              1. Graciosa*


                You don’t have to be a manager to be worthy of basic courtesy.

                I had an unusual experience once on an interview panel where the interviewer was incredibly rude to the (older, male) hiring manager and quite kind to my younger, female self (with the same title and position). When it was over, the only explanation we could come up with was that the candidate’s ego was threatened by the male manager, and not at all threatened by me (his kindness was on the head-patting side, which is not appropriate for work unless you’re dealing with actual children).

                I was able to smile and get him to answer questions more fully than my colleague, but neither of us would ever have hired him.

                1. Graciosa*

                  Sorry – very bad typo above. The *interviewee* was incredibly rude. I would like to think that I was fairly polite, and my hiring manager colleague was certainly deserving of a lot of credit for behaving well when the candidate was not only rude, but aggressive and combative.

          2. RVA Cat*

            Also, if this is the guy’s *best* behavior, what’s his worst?

            I would route all of his emails straight to the spam filter – or maybe to corporate security in case he makes a threat.

            1. Kyrielle*

              Yeah, I’d save those emails, maybe routing them already-marked-read to their own folder. Just in case. He’s probably just going to send demanding emails, but…still worth saving (and mentioning to corporate security if the company is big enough to have it).

          3. LBK*

            I actually think this is one situation where leveraging the power imbalance of an interview is appropriate. I don’t think it’s wrong to use the level of control you have over a candidate to say “You’re attempting to convince me to hire you for a job and this is how you choose to present yourself?” (not literally, perhaps, but expressing that sentiment).

            If it’s been made clear that they aren’t someone you want to hire, I don’t think you lose anything by calling them out once that line has been crossed; it’s not like you have to correct them, then start the interview fresh and allow them a second chance to fix it.

            1. Green*

              I can see wanting to reconvene as a group to check in before making an interview-ender or otherwise antagonistic comment though.

      2. TootsNYC*


        Also–honestly, I don’t want to hire someone whom I had to remind to speak to ALL the people in the room. It’s just too damned much work.

        There will be plenty of things that I’ll need to coach my employees on. I don’t want to start behind the curve with something so very, very basic.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Eh, I may have tried, “Can you turn this way? I can’t see your face as you are speaking.” Or may I wouldn’t have tried it and just let it go on to see how it plays out. Sometimes when you have to describe what you want at that basic a level, it’s over anyway.

    2. BRR*

      When interviewing you want to get a sense of how a candidate acts. While there could be an argument made for giving an interviewee feedback to see how they take it and adjust, I believe it’s more important to witness their behavior in the raw since a new hire is a big decision.

    3. Hiding on the Internet Today*

      I see interview behavior as the candidates interpretation of their best behavior, how they will behave in important meetings, etc, and judge from there. If they get a little nervous but can work through it, that’s something that can be managed. If they, as I’ve had happen, decide an interview is the time to pull out racist epithets or sexist behavior, well… I’m not interested in managing that. If they are coming in for an entry level position, I’m looking for signs of what training I’ll need to give them, and there is some training I’m not interested in being responsible for.

      I’ll give some corrections in the moment for intern or entry level candidates, like explaining why it’s important for them to have questions in an interview and helping them figure out how to draw connections between relevant academic experience and what industry looks for. Once someone has had a few jobs though, or we’re talking about uncivil behavior, I just take the information offered and use it to help narrow my candidate pool.

        1. Allison*

          Just yesterday, one of our hiring managers was talking about how it’s not uncommon for entry-level sales candidates to come in high. He recounted one interview where the guy was clearly stoned, and yesterday he had a phone screen with someone who was likely high on cocaine. Sometimes we take common sense for granted.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            We used to get encyclopedia salesmen who would come around to different businesses in town to try to solicit business, and they nearly always seemed to be all hepped up on cocaine.

            1. Kelly L.*

              From what I’ve read about those book sales companies, you’d almost have to be, to get through the grind they’re put through! It’s pretty awful.

          2. Roscoe*

            I question how on the phone you can tell someone is high on cocaine as opposed to say an Espresso. In person, sure I know how they act. Over the phone with someone you’ve never met? Nope, too much judgment there

            1. neverjaunty*

              Disagree. It’s way beyond being hyped up; there’s a particular repetitive stupidity to the speech pattern.

              1. Blank Space*

                This is not universal. People react differently to different drugs, and depending on how long they have used. I have known some incredibly high-functioning cocaine addicts. In some cases they held vital positions in fortune 500 companies. One company didn’t realize until the person OD-ed. I knew one of the people very well and I had trouble telling when they were or weren’t using.

            2. Allison*

              (to clarify, I wasn’t on the call, I’m not the one saying he was on cocaine. I am not the one making the judgment)

              It was a combination of his speech (very rushed and excited) and constant sniffing. I actually suggested he might have a cold and had taken some medicine that contained a stimulant, but this guy was pretty sure it was cocaine.

            3. Anon for this*

              I once described the odd behaviour of a friend of mine to two other friends (separately.) Both of them replied instantly with “Was he on coke?” I didn’t know it at the time, but it turned out that he was.

              I’m not familiar with it myself, but it sounds like the behaviour is distinct enough to be recognizable by those who are.

            4. Stranger than fiction*

              I’m agreeing with you because of one thing I’m experiencing currently. A family member is dating someone whom the rest of our family insist is doing Meth. But the family member told us no, he’s actually bipolar and doesn’t take his meds, so he’s always in this hyper/manic state whenever we’ve seen him. But, I don’t know how common that would be compared to drugs.

              1. Rebecca in Dallas*

                Sidebar (because I think this topic is so interesting): I took a really fascinating class in college about brain science, the professor did a lot of research on cocaine’s effect on the brain. It affects your brain the same way schizophrenia does, same areas of the brain and same neurotransmitters are affected. And when you think about the classic signs of schizophrenia and the side effects of cocaine, they are eerily similar. Delusions of persecution, delusions of grandeur, agitation, etc.

        2. Tris Prior*

          I had been at my current job for all of 2 weeks when I was asked to sit in on a group interview for a new manager candidate. He made an anti-Semitic remark during the interview and I was flabbergasted. Since I was brand new and not in a hiring/firing authority position, I didn’t say anything about it. I figured, well, those who actually have the decision-making authority were right there in the room and heard it as well.

          NO ONE ever mentioned it and he was hired. I was shocked. I mean, seriously, who does that in an interview??

          He didn’t last long here, for unrelated reasons.

          1. LD*

            That’s why it is important to say something! You were there to provide your perspective. I understand you felt you didn’t have the power to hire and fire and make the actual decision but you did have the power to share your observations. If I missed a comment because I was making notes and then found out later that someone didn’t share that they’d observed or heard a disrespectful or disingenuous remark I’d want to know why they chose to keep that to themselves rather than share so all relevant information is being considered.

        3. Person of Interest*

          I once interviewed a woman who said all kinds of racist things, and then stated it was okay for her talk this way because her boyfriend was black and she hung out with “those kind of people” all the time.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            That just makes my jaw drop. I wonder what her boyfriend would think about it being “okay” for her to say racist things?!

            That reminds me of something I saw in the grocery store one time, years ago, that made such a negative impression on me that I’ve never forgotten it. These two white women were going through the line of a black cashier, and one of the women knew the cashier very well and they had a very friendly conversation (laughing, talking about people and events that they both knew, etc.). I got the impression, from witnessing the exchange, that they were pretty good friends. Then, both of the white women went into the bathroom, and the one who had been so friendly said, “She is just the best little [racial slur]; I just love her,” and then went on to say several demeaning and belittling, back-handed-compliment type things about her. I knew at the time that that sort of talk happens, but I wondered why the hell was she being so friendly if that’s how she really felt?? I hope the other woman, the cashier, knew that she wasn’t really a friend.

        4. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Back when I hadn’t been doing hiring for very long, I had a candidate make an anti-semitic remark in an interview. I was stunned into a silent rage rather than saying anything. I was doing the interview with another person, and I just let him take over while I sat there shocked and angry. If it happened now, I’d tell the person that what they’d said was offensive and we’d be ending the interview, but sometimes being prepared to handle it differently in the moment takes (a) having an experience like that and resolving to say something the next time, or (b) just having a bunch of experiencing hiring — and asserting yourself — under your belt.

      1. F.*

        I had a female candidate for our receptionist position make disparaging remarks about men on three separate occasions during her interview. She was addressing me but totally ignoring our male general manager, who would have been her boss. This was at a heavily male construction-related firm. Needless to say, she was not hired. Talk about tone deaf!

      2. Just Another Techie*

        I once interviewed a candidate who everyone else on the interview panel (coincidentally all straight white men) ADORED. Bright, eager, friendly, easy-going. In my interview he was downright rude, condescending, at one point put his finger in my face and told me to be quiet. (Also he had a blatantly embarrassingly wrong answer to a technical question I’d asked, but that wasn’t even the point anymore.) I didn’t have the standing to just cut short the interview, but I was very clear in my feedback that I did not want that dude.

        And this is why you need women and minorities on your interview panels. Because candidates will act out toward us in ways they won’t around white men.

        1. Blanche Devereaux*

          “In my interview he was downright rude, condescending, at one point put his finger in my face and told me to be quiet.”


          “And this is why you need women and minorities on your interview panels. Because candidates will act out toward us in ways they won’t around white men.”

          Absolutely true. Especially in the tech field (which I’m assuming you’re in based on your handle).

    4. Lefty*

      I’ve never experienced anything like this, but if I was to find myself interviewing someone who refused to give me proper acknowledgement, I would simply end the interview. That’s about as direct a feedback as someone can get. If you treat me poorly and I say, “Ok, I believe we have everything we need”, stand up and walk to the door, I think you’d get the message that you just blew it.

      If the candidate questioned my actions, I would say something like, “Your disinterest in talking to me has led me to become disinterested in talking to you. Best of luck in your job search.”

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        That’s what I was thinking, too. Just cut the interview short at the point where the deal-breaker behavior is displayed. Ideally, your interview colleagues would be savvy enough to follow your lead without any outward displays of surprise that the candidate could latch on to. Of course, the cutting-short of the interview would have to come from the interviewer with the standing to make that call (i.e. the hiring manager). I’d love to see the look on the jackwagon’s face when the ‘inconsequential’ member of the interview team brings his chances to a screeching halt. Ooooh, the satisfaction!

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I imagine her doing it with the steely-sweet manner of ‘The Closer’ when she’s interrogating a perp: “Why, thank you! [standing, with a big smile] I believe we’ve seen enough here! [holding open the door to show him out; more smiles] You have a nice day, and don’t forget to validate parking on your way out! Bye now!”

      2. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

        One of the great tales around my job is that our VP was interviewing a candidate for a position and he made a pretty racist remark (one of those horrible subtle, but still racist comments).

        The story goes that as he finished his sentence, she said, “well, I think I have everything I need. Thank you for your time.” And instead of walking him to the next part of his interview (we do all-day interviews for finalists), took him back to HR and said the interview was over.

        I don’t know how much has been edited in the retelling, but the story fits with her no nonsense personality

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I love that story. That’s the way to do it: If they say something that is a huge deal-breaker, just end the interview in a no-nonsense manner and show them out.

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

            I really, really hope it’s all true. She won’t say what happened, but we are all hoping that when she retires or moves on she’ll spill the beans!

    5. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

      The only time I have every addressed interviewers missteps I an interview was when I was hiring student workers. Even then, it was more along the lines of, “that was good, but could you share a work/school related answer?”

      It’s been hard sitting in on panel interviews where it’s clear a younger candidate just needs interview practice and you want to help them.

      But someone like the OP describes isn’t going to take any criticism well, whether it’s in the moment or not.

    6. Observer*

      Why should an interviewer do that? I can’t really think of any reason a person would do that, that would be useful in a workplace context. And, to be honest, unless you are offering a position where intensive coaching on basic workplace norms is going to be part o the package, I can’t see any reason to to explore the issue. Even if the person is “trainable”, I can’t see why any manager would knowingly sign up for that – even, in most cases – for a “rock star”.

  7. Engineer Girl*

    #5 – One thing in your favor is that you have already demonstrated your religious beliefs for several years and the company has previously accommodated them. That should demonstrate that no undue hardship is occurring to the company unless some situation had radically changed.
    It’s important to demonstrate that you’re not trying to get out of work in these situations. Working on Saturdays, at night, swings and covering for others (except Sunday) shows that you are a team player and not using religion as an “excuse” to get out of work. I’m not saying that you are, but some crazy managers believe that. If all else fails you may need to appeal to HR. The manager many not penalize you for accommodation either.
    I’ve found that most of my managers were fine with Sunday’s off when they saw me working hard all of the other times. I clearly demonstrated I was pulling my weight. My only problem came on one program with horrific management. I had to gently remind them of the law of that one. I also reminded them of all the times I worked until 3 AM to meet their deadlines, etc. If they want flexibility in work schedules they have to give it too.

    1. INTP*

      Taking on other undesirable shifts like you mentioned is a good idea. I think the other employees will be more supportive if you not working Sundays doesn’t result in a net increase in the number of undesirable shifts they have to take, especially if you’re taking a disproportionate number of the ones that are even more undesirable (nights, early morning, etc.). And if the others aren’t objecting it would be very difficult to justify why it’s still a hardship to the company.

    2. LQ*

      I think this is a great point. Especially since it is such a small place, being able to work with your coworkers and boss is very important.

      I would leave off talk of they agreed when they hired you, because things change. But focus on that it has been doable until now, and working on other shifts.

      The other thing this brought to my mind was is this a business with a lot of religious employees it might be harder since they are having a hard time finding people to work on Sundays this may be the case? (Otherwise Saturdays or Friday nights are often harder shifts to get people in.)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Most businesses around here with a lot of religious employees tend to be closed on Sunday–Hobby Lobby, Chik Fil A, etc. I understand that depending on what type of business it is, that may not be possible. If you have enough non-religious people to cover, the accommodation shouldn’t be too difficult. Some of them might want to work later in the day, after church is over, if they’re not prohibited from doing so.

        This would be hard if you had a lot of people who didn’t want to work at all on Sunday and only a few with no exemptions, though. I wouldn’t want to be stuck working Sundays every single week unless both Saturday and Sunday were part of my normal shift.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        I’m giggling to myself a bit because I remember this one restaurant I used to work at, there was like four or five servers who always had Sunday off to go to church…but they didn’t really. They just wanted that day to sleep in and nurse their hangovers lol.

    3. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

      This. My ex had a notoriously inflexible job, but because he was always willing to cover the overnight Christmas shifts, it was easier for him to get the holidays he needed off.

    4. Ife*

      “It’s important to demonstrate that you’re not trying to get out of work in these situations.”

      Agreed, this is important. I worked at a bakery where about 3/4 the staff was very Christian, and did not work on Sundays. The other 1/4 of the staff ended up working pretty much every Sunday because of that, but we were ok with it because the others worked longer and earlier hours than us during the week. Because of that, it was easier to accept that they were legitimately following their beliefs and not just trying to get out of working on the weekends.

      Looking back, I think that was a really fair way to approach an accommodation like this, when it means that some staff members are going to be stuck with a less desirable shift/duties – if you get out of undesirable thing A because of an accommodation (religious or otherwise), then you should pick up more of undesirable thing B so that your coworkers don’t feel like they’re stuck with a disproportionate amount of that work.

    5. Beezus*

      This. The one time I resented a coworker who needed Sundays completely off for religious reasons, it wasn’t really about the Sundays, it was everything else. We were a very small customer-facing team and had minimum staffing requirements and nights and weekends to cover. Accommodating PTO/sick time/etc always necessitated a scheduling conversation to figure it out, and she was the most unwilling to pitch in and help out with evening/Saturday/holiday shifts. Hearing her moan about being scheduled for a Friday night shift and the following Saturday because I had a wedding/rehearsal dinner was extra grating when I worked 3 Sundays a month, every month, because of her accommodation.

  8. ThisAnnoysMe*

    I actually really hate the way religious people demand exemptions for a lifestyle choice but if people ask for exemptions for other choices, such as wanting to watch a sports team on Sunday or hike on Sunday, that’s not acceptable. Religion is a lifestyle choice but seems to be one people want special treatment for. Church is no different than wanting to go to a sports game. Stop asking for special treatment because you are religious!!!

    1. Grand Mouse*

      I’m not sure if you’re worth engaging or not. My instincts tell me no. Alison, leave this alone?

    2. LisaLee*

      I’m agnostic myself, but I do think that religion is different from something like sports. For one it’s a major component of identity and community in a way that hobbies just aren’t. For another, if you are a religious person, practicing the tenets of your religion (including attending church services) is less of a fun, optional thing and more of a spiritual obligation. Legally speaking, religion is a protected class just like sex, sexuality, or race because of the place it occupies in our identities and society.

      1. ThisAnnoysMe*

        But people like myself who have been involved in a sporting hobby their entire lives, that sport is a major component of my identity and my I am heavily involved in the local sporting community, not unlike someone who is heavily involved in their local church community. Some people grow up in religious families, some grow up in sporting families. Without being antagonistic, I do consider it a bit unfair that their choice of community/weekend activities is considered to be a protected class while other people who have lifestyle choices they value just as much get disregarded and scoffed at. This is one area where the law hasn’t caught up with changing times. I’m not advocating for discrimination of religious people, I’m saying they shouldn’t be given any more special treatment than others when it comes to time off.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Federal law requires employers to make religious accommodations for people. There’s no reason people shouldn’t take advantage of that, just like they’re entitled to take advantage of family and medical leave, disability accommodations, protections against discrimination, and other rights provided by law.

      Please be respectful of people with different beliefs than you here.

      1. ThisAnnoysMe*

        I’m not trying to be disrespectful of people’s beliefs, merely asking why the way religious people want to spend their Sundays is considered more important, valid or worthy than the way non religious people wish to spend their Sundays and why those who are not religious are expected to suck it up while religion gives makes people bend over backwards.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          You can take that up with your legislators, but what’s relevant to the OP’s question for our purposes here is what the law requires. There could certainly be an interesting discussion about why we choose to protect the things we do, but this post isn’t the place for it.

    4. Engineer Girl*

      If you were in the US and stated this as an employer then you could be investigated by the EEOC. The constitution guarantees the free practice of religion (not merely belief). Many religions require attendance at worship service as a key component of that practice. Judeo-Christian belief requires setting aside Sabbath and keeping it Holy (it’s one of the 10 commandments). It’s not a side activity like a potluck or football game.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        In this context, it’s not about the Constitution (which only prevents the government from interfering with the free practice of religion, not private employers). Here’s the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that requires employers to provide reasonable religious accommodations — so federal law, not the Constitution. And yes, an employer who held ThisAnnoysMe’s stance would be in violation of that law.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          Well technically, civil rights are defined by the constitution. They are codified by further law. But we agree that you’d be in big trouble legally by ThisAnnoysMe’s stance. Other countries is YMMV.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            Technically, Alison is right. Some civil rights are defined in the constitution and others are not. The Constitution does not in any way make it a civil right to have your employer provide you religious accommodations.

          2. Broke Law Student*

            The constitution doesn’t regulate private behavior (except 13th amendment), including by employers. The bill of rights is just about what the federal government, and since the passage of the 14th amendment, state governments can’t do.

        2. Tommy*

          Yep, the language is, “Congress shall make no law …”. That’s why you can’t just say whatever you want at work and claim freedom of speech when they fire you over it.

        3. TootsNYC*

          “And yes, an employer who held ThisAnnoysMe’s stance would be in violation of that law.”

          Well, if the employer’s stance was, “I think hobbies should be on the same level as religion,” and the way that played out was, “You can have special accommodation for hobbies, too,” there would probably be no violation.

          And maybe that’s what the lobbying point should be: that employers should allow employees to declare one thing to be their Religion Equivalent, and accommodate that.

    5. Katie the Fed*

      By all means, please petition your congressperson to change the law. Best of luck with that! But you also might want to read up on the history of this country to understand why these protections are in place.

      Meanwhile, I’ll continue to have happy, productive employees like my Muslim employee who prays 5 times a day and Catholic employees who went to a noon Ash Wednesday service yesterday.

      1. Xarcady*

        This. At my retail job, there’s one person who never, ever opens on Sundays, even if the computer schedules him to. Someone pressured our manager about this, and she has a stock reply, “As long as he says a prayer for me, he gets Sunday mornings off to go to church.” Said with a big smile and a clear “that’s the end of this discussion” tone of voice.

        He works closing shifts, he works Saturdays, he is not slacking off. He just doesn’t come in until 2 pm on Sunday–so he misses the three hours that the store is open before that. Three hours in a week that he won’t work. It is not enough to make a big fuss over.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Someone came back with ash on his forehead yesterday and even though I don’t go to church anymore, for just a second I still felt guilty for forgetting. Damn you, Catholicism. ;)

        1. Julie Noted*

          LOL, every year on Ash Wednesday colleagues and strangers identify themselves to me as:
          * polite and not Catholic (subtly saying to me “hey, just quietly, you’ve got something on your face”)
          * blunt and not Catholic (loudly declaring “hey, there’s some black shit on your face”)
          * lapsed Catholic (glancing at me and instantly breaking into stammering apologies about how they really should get back to mass one of these days)

          1. SpaceySteph*

            I hope you take the opportunity to educate the first group on why you have some stuff on your face?

            -signed, formerly a Jewish private school kid who made that mistake once, too, and is very sorry

  9. Melanie Z*

    I agree that OP5 is asking for way too much here. Why should other employees have to work MORE Sundays giving up whatever activities and family time they enjoy so the OP can go worship some god that probably doesn’t even exist?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Please don’t debate religion here, and be respectful of people with different viewpoints.

      And I want to ask everyone not to engage on this point either, so that we can stay on topic. Thanks, all.

    2. ReanaZ*

      Look, I’m a hardcore atheist, and you all are the reason people hate us. Grow up. If you want to be able to work for an employer who can’t force you to pray at their whim, then we have to support the same workplace protections for people who are sincerely religious.

      1. INTP*

        Standing ovation from a fellow hardcore atheist.

        Plus, I’m sure there are other undesirable shifts besides Sundays. If Sally works zero Sundays but twice her share of 5AM shifts or does Saturdays every single week instead, it’s win-win for most of the staff.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      I’m not religious at all, but I think that’s quite harsh on the OP. They are entitled to their faith and why should they not make use of a ore existing employment law that gives them the right to have Sunday’s off?

    4. Engineer Girl*

      Hey Melanie, when done correctly the religious person doesn’t work less than anyone else. You work Sundays and I cover for you when you want to leave early for your kids soccer game. Win-win.

      1. Aim Away From Face*

        “… when you want to leave early for your kids soccer game”

        Please don’t be condescending. Some people have more to their lives than wanting to leave for their offspring’s “soccer game”.

        1. Daisy*

          I took her point as being people have different priorities. So it’s religious services, some it’s their kids or something else. Things often balance out at the end.

        2. Tommy*

          The fact that you took that example as offensive says more about you than about Engineer Girl. For many people, their kids are the most important thing in their lives.

        3. TootsNYC*

          Well, isn’t “leave early for your kid’s soccer game” simply a euphemism for “not be at work because of some important thing in your life”!?!?!

          Maybe it’s “not work Saturdays because that’s when the SCA meets.” or “Not work Wednesday evening because that’s when my class is.” or “get out early on Thursday because my MIL needs me to help with a family dinner.”

          1. Anna*

            Don’t be condescending. Some of us hate our MILs.*.

            * I love mine. This is a joke because Aim Away From Face’s comment was…weird. **

            ** If you do hate your MIL, please note this comment was just an example and is in no way a judgment on the relationship you have with your MIL.

            1. Daisy Mae*


              * I in no way mean to imply anything other than that your reply is brilliant

              **Mine is nowhere near as clever as yours :-)

        4. Note*

          This just in: If you would like time off from work to attend your child’s sporting event, you are an inferior human being (or at least an oppressed one).

      2. Elysian*

        The point still stands, though – the OP isn’t asking for additional time off, just that Sunday be a day off. Presumably the employees working on Sunday will get a different day off when the OP is working.

        1. neverjaunty*

          I don’t believe she was either, but sometimes when these discussions about time off come up there are a lot of comments about how parents are all slackers who get special privileges everywhere, and I suspect the response may have been a reaction to that (even though that’s not what EG meant).

      3. Temperance*

        To be honest, I have never seen this done “correctly”. Not the religious exemption issue, but I’ve never seen a true scheduling quid pro quo. (This reminds me of my coworker who couldn’t ever work late due to daycare pickup, so she claimed all the early OT because it wasn’t “fair” that she never got to work late.)

        1. neverjaunty*

          I guess it depends on your work environment. I’ve seen it done all the time, in the kind of workplaces where people proactively volunteer to help each other out.

    5. CADMonkey007*

      This is where some additional policies can make it fair for everyone. For example, perhaps the policy is everyone gets the same number of weekend days off within a month. OP have Sundays off but in change work a lot of Saturdays, whereas other employees might have a mixture of Saturdays and Sundays. And if Sundays are that uniquely desirable to everyone to have off, then employer should offer higher compensation to work those days.

  10. Mando Diao*

    Okay I’m soooooo not trying to start sh!t here, but is there any burden of proof for requiring religious exemptions? Does an employer simply have to take an employee’s word for it when she says that she attends church every Sunday? Or does the employee have to verify it somehow? The scheduling stuff makes it sound like a retail or serving job, and shift issues can become heated, especially if one employee is exempted from required Sunday availability. Hypothetically, concerning a business that is presumably open every day, what would happen if the majority of employees appealed to their Christian upbringings and claimed that they too attended church? We’re not talking about something relatively rare like, say, Orthodox Judaism. I’m just curious about the process of claiming devout Christianity among coworkers and management who are probably also some degree of Christian.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      All the law requires is that the religious belief be “sincerely held.” Generally employers need to proceed as if the belief is sincere unless they have specific reason to believe it’s not. For example, if the person was happy to work Sundays up until now, then asked for next Sunday off to attend a football game, was denied, and then came back with a religious request for the day off, that might be grounds to probe more. That’s quite different than the case of the OP, who has been consistent about this from the start.

      More here:

      1. Melanie Z*

        Why does the law give her “sincere belief” in a skygod more weight than my “sincere belief” that I want to watch the Super Bowl of my “sincere belief” that I want to sped more time with my s./o on their day off, or my “sincere belief” that I wanto accept a friends invite to go to their lake house for the day?

        1. fposte*

          If those are things you believe as religions, it doesn’t.

          And it’s really worth understanding the history of all this. It’s not about somebody getting one over on us atheists.

        2. Kat*

          I don’t think it’s worth discussing law here–that doesn’t help the OP or anyone else navigate this situation. By all means call your state legislators and governor and lobby for Congress to make change, but the fact of the matter that “religion” is protected and football isn’t.

        3. Katie the Fed*

          When I take my EEO training classes someone always brings up this slippery slope argument.

          But here’s the reality: they’re not getting much special treatment, and it’s actually very unusual in my experience for anyone’s religious observances to be much of an impact.

          It’s not like they’re getting extra benefits – if my employee ducks out to pray 5 times a day, he’s not being paid for that time. We just work around a few 15-minute absences. Nobody even notices. And my employees who went to Ash Wednesday services yesterday – some went before work, some after, and a couple during the day. Not a big deal.

          The real question is not whether it’s a legit religious belief, but whether it’s an undue hardship. If it’s not an undue hardship to accommodate, why wouldn’t we try our best to make it work?

          1. Kimberlee, Esq*

            I love this framing! Aside from the fact that religions are currently protected classes, when employers are thinking about accommodations, the part they focus on shouldn’t be whether or not it’s a “legit” religious belief or a “legit” disability or a “legit” football game, but whether it’s an undue hardship. Protected classes have the benefit of a higher power (sorry, couldn’t resist) saying “it’s gotta be a REAL burden for you to not accommodate this” but it’s true that we all have stuff in our lives that’s important to us, and it’s probably good for employers to refrain from making too many judgments on what should or shouldn’t be important to their staff, and focus on trying to make it work for everyone as much as possible (instead of trying to get as much out of each person as possible).

        4. Lily in NYC*

          Is there a reason you are ignoring Alison’s directive? This is her site and she gets to make up the rules. So please, enough already.

          1. Dot Warner*

            Or to put it another way: Alison asked us to stop discussing this, but I see that you’re still bringing it up. What’s going on here?

        5. MCR*

          Ask the framers of our constitution and the Congress that enacted the Civil Rights Act? Please, do some research about what rights and classes of people are protected and what aren’t. You don’t have to like it, but it’s not some arbitrary ruling by one court – offering special protection to religious beliefs is a fundamental part of American law.

        6. Ms. Didymus*

          Because we have a history, as a country, of having been founded at least in part on issues around religious persecution and so – as a country – we take things like religion very seriously.

        7. Biff*

          The ability to watch the Superbowl doesn’t impact your immortal soul or good standing with your deity (or lackthereof.) Now, my ability to commune with my skygod is something I believe DOES impact my soul and my good standing with my deity.

      2. Biff*

        Alision, I’m curious about something. My religion has specific DAYS that are important. So it’s not every Sunday. But it can sometimes be THIS Sunday. Or if something has happened, you might have a sudden need to take time for religious observances. How does the law respond to that? It is mostly written from the judeo-Christian POV, in which there are regular times/holidays for religious observances that don’t move much. Pagan religions tend to have a different cadence.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      I’m in the UK and when I worked retail there was an opt out for Sunday working mentioned in the staff handbook. There wasn’t any mention of it only being a religious exemption although I’m sure it must have started off as one or that was the original intention.

      I just looked up the details and any shop worker can opt out by giving 3 months notice.

      It seems like a good idea to me and stops any debate about the reason for not working Sundays if it’s open to anyone

      1. Sarahnova*

        As I recall, Sunday shifts in the UK are shorter (since opening hours are restricted for most businesses) and you often get time and a half for them, so I think it’s rarely that hard to find takers.

        1. TootsNYC*

          And this is the answer to “what would an employer do if all his employees claimed a religion exemption to Sunday scheduling?”

          I suppose the employer could claim “undue hardship,” but they could also make it more appealing to work on a Sunday. Or, since this is shift work (and probably paid by the hour), seek out someone to specifically work on a Sunday.

        2. Apollo Warbucks*

          It’s only trading that is restricted not working so shifts are not always shorter I used to work my normal hours because I worked the night shift stacking shelves and cleaning the store. It was paid at time and half though.

      2. Sarahnova*

        It also seems common in my experience for parents to stagger work hours so one parent works primarily weekends and evenings in order to avoid/minimise childcare costs. I don’t think offering an opt-out on Sunday working – for whatever reason – is an excessive hardship in most businesses, especially if the Sunday shifts are more attractive because of pay/being shorter.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          This–and I worked plenty of manufacturing/food jobs that had varying shifts, where this sort of thing is very common. When I was with a cafeteria company who worked in factories, we had the same shifts the factory did. So when I was on 3-11, I went in for my first shift of the week on Sunday night. I knew quite a few parents who worked days/evenings or days/overnights and sometimes would trade off if they could.

        2. Temperance*

          When I was a teenager, I used to purposely beg for Sunday shifts to get out of going to church, lol. I can actually see it being quite attractive for some, especially those who want to skip religious service but for one reason or another simply can’t just skip it.

          1. Treena*

            Yup. For some reason my very, very religious parents didn’t even bother about asking if I could ask off. They just accepted that I was working. In retail, Sundays were slightly less desirable than Saturdays because we worked on commission and people came to BUY on Saturdays and browse more on Sundays. This is why it was easier to beg off Saturdays in favor of Sundays.

    3. I'm a Little Teapot*

      I’m curious as to what would happen if *all* the employees declined to work Sundays for religious reasons, or enough so there wasn’t full coverage. Is there a way to determine whose exemption “wins”? Would the employer just have to close Sundays, or hire someone new to cover them?

      1. Faith*

        Maybe in that case accomodating people’s religious beliefs would constitute “undue hardship”?

        I’ve always had a similar question about Jewish temple shuttle drivers. We live close to a conservative Jewish community, so I often see signs by the temple reminding the congregation that a shuttle service is available on Shabbat for those who live too far away from the temple to walk (since they are not supposed to work on Shabbat and driving constitutes work). Made me wonder if the temple had to hire specifically non-Jewish people for the shuttle driver positions or if there was some religious rule that allowed this type of work to be done.

        1. Turanga Leela*

          There is a long tradition in Jewish culture of hiring and working with non-Jews for exactly this reason. Jews don’t expect people of other faiths to follow Jewish religious law.
          There are exceptions to Shabbat rules (like for medical emergencies), but I don’t know if there would be for a shuttle, and it might depend on the sect.

          1. TootsNYC*

            Although, it’s really funny, because with the Sabbath (like dietary stuff), there is a specific interdiction on “the alien in your town” ALSO not working. (Deuteronomy 5:313)

            1. SpaceySteph*

              I think that the argument would revolve around what is “your city” and whether this requirement really has any bearing outside of a) the Jewish empire (extinct for thousands of years) or b) modern day Israel. Certainly America doesn’t count, except maybe Brooklyn ;-) Also I think someone would probably posit that it would be wrong to force the proselyte to work (per this rule) but not to employ them if they wanted to work– as in you could let them have the day off but not FORCE them to have the day off.

        2. jhhj*

          Nope, that would not count as allowed work, so you’d need to hire a non-Jew, or at least not a religious Jew. (I don’t know if they could refuse to hire a secular Jew for it.) But that’s altogether weird, because the work you’re not allowed to do isn’t the driving, it’s running an engine, and I can’t imagine the weird contortions done to make it okay to have someone else drive you. Maybe a bus that would be driving anyhow — that’s sort of like the Shabbat elevators? — but a shuttle just to go to synagogue?

            1. neverjaunty*

              I feel confident that RIGHT NOW, there are rabbinical debates going on about the use of self-driving cars on Shabbat.

              1. jhhj*

                At least one person thinks a self-driving car is just a high-tech golem, so as long as you only use voice activation and not press buttons, you’re good to go.

                (Also this is clearly ripe for a short story plot.)

      2. sunny-dee*

        Just interesting to point out, there are major employers (Chik-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby) that are closed Sundays because they are owned by religious families, and they give everyone Sunday off for religious observance or to simply have a break. (And, at least for Chik-Fil-A, apparently they are really accommodating of other schedules — it was a pretty valued job when I was in college because they would give people extra time off during finals week to study.)

      3. Allison*

        That’s why there are small, family-owned businesses that aren’t open on Sunday. The family is religious, goes to church, and doesn’t believe in working on Sunday, so the shop is simply closed, or is open but with limited hours. Or they’re not really religious but the owner’s still human and wants a day off each week, so they take advantage of the fact that businesses like theirs are closed on Sunday, and that’s fine too! I’ve come to accept that if I want an oil change, a haircut, or a dress taken in, I have to plan to get that done sometime other than Sunday. Slightly inconvenient, but ultimately not a big deal.

        If an owner does want to be open on Sunday, they just have to hire some people who are willing to work Sundays.

        1. Temperance*

          FWIW, I tend to patronize businesses that are open on Sundays because it fits my schedule better, but I also get why some businesses would close.

          1. Anna*

            Yeah, I wouldn’t not go to a business ever because it was closed on Sunday; I would just know not to go on Sunday. Example: sunny-dee mentioned Chik-Fil-A. When I got to Atlanta, I know Sunday will not be a Chik-Fil-A day. Easy-peasy.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Religious discussion aside, I think we were healthier when we had a day of rest each week.
          Not a church goer? Then hang out at home, or with friends/family, recharge for the upcoming week. It does not matter what a person believes or doesn’t believe religion-wise taking down time each week is important to our health and well-being. We all need that.

      4. Katie the Fed*

        There’s really no point in planning for a highly, highly unlikely hypothetical situation. Mostly likely, they’re not all going to want Sunday off. And if they do, you handle it like everything else – you figure out a way to deal with it.

        1. Allison*

          Right, if a certain day or shift becomes undesirable, you:

          A) find ways to make the shift more desirable, like with time and a half (if possible), extra breaks, etc.

          B) When hiring new people, put in the job post that you must be able to work weekends, including Sundays. People who don’t or can’t work on Sundays just won’t apply.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yep, and like we’ve seen with holidays, some people might prefer to work the weekend shifts for whatever reason. Maybe their SO works that shift also and they like to spend their time off together. Maybe their family sucks and they don’t want to hang around all day on Sunday. Maybe they like having a weekday off to run errands. :)

      5. LQ*

        Then it would be a good idea for the employer to consider a more diverse hiring practice, or to decide since they are a business that hires a lot of people who want Sundays off to close on Sundays. Both would be entirely reasonable and things businesses do.

      6. Observer*

        Probably that would change the game in that it would move it to undue hardship.

        I remember a case a few years ago that the ACLU litigated. Sears had a policy of not hiring appliance repair people who are Sabbath observant on Saturday. (It was pretty obviously aimed at Orthodox Jews.) Sears lost at trial because their claim was that they “had” to have this policy in order to have appropriate coverage. The ACLU forced them to turn over their repair request logs, which proved that Saturday was NOT their most heavily requested repair day – it was not even a tie. Tuesday and Sunday were the most requested days, in that order.

        The point here was that had the company been able to prove a genuine coverage issue, they probably would have been able to continue to keep that policy.

      7. Creag an Tuire*

        Odds are, if your business is in a community with that many religious Christians, there’s little benefit to being open on Sundays anyway. (And in for the odd positions where working Sunday is absolutely necessary, you’d already know enough about your community dynamics to proactively seek out people willing to work on Sundays.)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This is the thing that slayed me. I got stuck working Sundays and people from church would come in and say, “Why are you working?”

          Uh, because YOU are in MY store.
          They could not make the connection.

          1. Annie Moose*

            One of my favorite Not Always Right stories is on this very topic:

            Short version: A gaggle of church ladies likes to berate a restaurant owner on a weekly basis for being open on Sundays. Restaurant owner claims to have seen the light and to stop being open on Sundays. Gaggle suddenly decides it’s not such a sin after all.

      8. overeducated and underemployed*

        Either one. But hiring someone new to cover one weekend shift a week is actually…not that insane. I work with an organization where the front desk person works full time M-F, but open hours are M-S, so for years a second person came in just on Saturdays to cover the desk. She just got a promotion at her full-time job and left, so they hired a new person just for Saturdays. Totally possible. Maybe a “Sundays only” job isn’t anyone’s ideal, but for someone looking to make extra cash on the side, it can work.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          In a lot of positions where weekend coverage is necessary, it gets stipulated in the job description! “Must be willing/able to work at least on full weekend a month…” or whatever the employer needs. Boom.

    4. neverjaunty*

      Not sure why the rarity of the belief has anything to do with it. IME, employers are far less accommodating of minority beliefs – it’s much more common for businesses to work around majority faiths, like being closed on Christmas or opening late on Sunday.

    5. voyager1*

      LW5: What jumps out at me in your letter is you don’t mention anywhere else in your letter what you do to be a team player since someone else is working Sundays.
      If people have to cover for you every Sunday, I would seriously consider a different job. They are going to come and resent you over time.
      If this is a Sunday every now and then, make sure you at proactive in making sure the same person isn’t doing it every Sunday. Try and work with your a manger so they know that you care about the others who are working and having time away from their families.

      1. Anna*

        I don’t think the OP has to assure us they’re being a team player. That has nothing to do with the question. OP isn’t required to reassure us they’re not taking advantage of their coworkers.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        It’s not the employee’s job to make sure other employees are ok with it. It’s the manager’s. The manager’s job is to figure out how to accommodate these things – we get paid more because we’re supposed to make hard decisions.

        If other employees resent OP, deal with that. But that’s not a guarantee at all – plenty of people are fine with helping out a colleague.

    6. janice*

      When I managed the local outlet of a major coffee retail chain, we had a very hard time staffing Sundays (mostly because there was little/no public transportation on that day to our area). We just advertised all retail positions as being required to be available to work Sundays. Then people could choose whether to apply or not based on knowing that requirement. I hope that wasn’t illegal but since I was laid off years ago I don’t really care.

      1. Ms. Didymus*

        I don’t think advertising it would be illegal, but I am pretty sure declining to hire someone who stated they were not available for religious reasons would have been unless there was an undue hardship. But it is never black and white – it is always shades of mish-mashed gray.

  11. newreader*

    #5: While you clearly remember noting on your application that you are not available to work Sundays due to religious reasons, your employer may have forgotten. I like Alison’s advice to approach the conversation by reminding your manager of that information. You were upfront for the beginning about the need for Sundays off and are within your legal rights.

    1. Eliz87*

      That was my first thought also. Especially since OP mentioned changing managers twice. The current manager may just not realize there was ever a religious accommodation in the first place.

    2. blackcat*

      Right, and I think it’s worth being very clear that OP5’s religious beliefs imply no working on Sunday.

      I work closely with someone who is a conservative Jew, and I live in a place where the sun sets really early in the winter. He has to leave work by 3pm on Fridays in December & early January in order to make it home before the sun goes down. Once the sun is down, he uses no electronics, does not turn on anything with a electrical current (including motors), etc. That’s different than most people’s idea of “a day of rest,” but is entirely consistent with typical beliefs of several Jewish and Christian groups. The manager might think that OP5 just wants the rest of the day after church off, when actually, there’s a sincere religious belief at play.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Most HVAC systems have programmable thermostats available, I would assume this is your best option.

          Many ovens also have “Sabbath mode” that keeps it on at a certain temperature over a longer period so you can keep food warm for dinner.

        2. jhhj*

          You typically can’t turn it on (or sometimes off), but if it’s already on you can let it keep running. You can have a non-Jew turn it on if it’s super cold or if there are kids/elderly/ill people around. There are all sorts of very picky rules about this — can you put your clothing on a currently running radiator to dry? (no) can you use a fridge? (yes, most of them come with Shabbat mode which follows the arcane halakhic rules) can you keep an oven running? (yes, but you need to leave the door slightly open so the elements don’t keep turning on and off) can you use a water kettle? (depends on so many things and how hot you make the water) can you tear toilet paper? (nope!)

          It is ENTIRELY CONSISTENT with Judaism (and really, part of the point of the religion) to nitpick your way into very arcane letter-of-the-law arguments allowing you to do more; this is really different from Christianity and something people don’t always quite understand.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Wait, YOU CAN’T TEAR TOILET PAPER?! Do you have to pre-tear it the day before?? I’m not trying to be a jerk, just wondering how someone would get around this!

            And now I’m imagining a family scene–“How much should we rip?” “Do the whole roll–I’m having a little trouble this week!”

            1. jhhj*

              Yes, many religious people have a little basket of pre-torn toilet paper available. I do not have any idea how you decide how much to tear.

          2. Dr. Johnny Fever*

            Tear toilet paper? I had never heard of that.

            Meant as a sincere question: Does one prepare by tearing toilet paper ahead of time, or use tissue-stacked type paper, or something else during Shabbat? I’m honestly curious.

            1. jhhj*

              Either of those options are fine. If you don’t have pretorn paper (kleenex or toilet paper already set up), you are allowed to tear the toilet paper but not on the perforations. (I don’t understand the rules there.) You can’t tear words, though, so no kitschy toilet paper with jokes on it.

        3. Naomi*

          It can probably be programmed or put on a timer so he doesn’t actually operate it during Shabbat. It’s fine to turn stuff like lights or heating on before Shabbat and just leave it on. Some people also have a non-Jewish person (“Shabbos goy”) who comes by and does stuff for them.

    3. Not me*

      I think that is probably what happened.

      Or, since OP is likely far from the only Christian in their office, their employer thought that what works for them, personally, should also work for Christian employees. I’m not religious myself, so correct me if I’m wrong, but that shouldn’t be hard to clear up, should it?

    4. Chalupa Batman*

      Yes-when managers change and time passes, it’s easy for the original understanding of “my religious beliefs do not permit me to work on Sunday” to be reinterpreted as “I prefer not to work on Sundays because I have church.” They’re very different. I’m guessing that clarifying that OP5 is in the former category will solve the issue if the employer is reasonable.

  12. nofelix*

    #1 – There are industries where paying a ‘finders fee’ or giving a gift is appropriate if someone helps you get work. In all instances I’ve encountered though, it’s a reward for a successful lead on a specific piece of work and not a general introduction. In your case, it sounds like your boss didn’t even introduce you to the lead, it was just coincidental.

    1. nofelix*

      Adding to say: the appearance of paying for introductions is pretty creepy and imho should be avoided. Connections with people should be pursued on the ostensible basis that they’re mutually beneficial and friendly. People rarely like the feeling that they’re being bought.

  13. Nobody*

    #3 – My company advertises salary ranges, but their policy is never to pay a new employee more than the midpoint (e.g., if the advertised range was $40k-$64k, the most they could offer would be $52k). In theory, they could get approval to go higher than the midpoint, but it would require the signature of the company VP, so it almost never happens. One can only get to the top of the range through raises (which is not easy to do, either, since the highest possible raise is 3.5%, and that’s only for employees who get a rating of “exceeds expectations”).

    1. MK*

      Frankly, I find that unethical. Why advertise that you might offer a salary that you do not in fact offer? However, even that is better than the OP’s example when apparently they were only willing to offer very little over minimum of the range.

      1. Charity*

        It’s possible that they can get to the upper end of the range through raises while working there, but they can’t start at the upper end. I still don’t like it though; an applicant isn’t going to understand that if it’s not clearly stated, and it comes across as manipulative. (Would someone who was already making $60K a year doing that job at another company apply if they knew that the maximum salary on offer was $52K? Maybe, maybe not, but if they don’t want to take a pay cut they might be annoyed by the misleading salary information.)

      2. Sunshine*

        Also, I don’t understand what the employer is gaining here? A bunch of wasted time interviewing people who won’t accept the salary they’re actually going to offer? What’s the point?

        We don’t publish our salary ranges in our postings, but we certainly make it a point to discuss in the first phone interview. It’s a waste of our time as much as the candidate if the salary range isn’t what they need.

        1. Tommy*

          It comes down to the difference between your ideal salary and the minimum salary you’ll take, plus the difficulty of the interviewing process. After you’ve gone through the pain of interviewing and got an offer less than your ideal but more than your minimum, you might take the job because you need a job now and you don’t want to interview all over again at other companies where you could even be rejected.

          The salary range posted convinced you to apply here instead of spending the same time applying elsewhere, but the pain and risk of rejecting the offer convince you to accept the less than ideal salary.

          This is a classic and widely used tactic: the bait and switch.

        2. Natalie*

          I’d bet that doesn’t actually happen often, or if it does the employer wouldn’t necessarily know. It’s not like the employer is telling people “we have a policy to only pay midpoint.”

          Jobseekers are generally advised not to assume they’ll get the top of the range. So someone applying has probably decided midpoint is okay with them. They go through the whole application/interview rigmarole and get an offer that they probably assume is a fair offer. Plus the sunk costs of interviewing can push people to accept.

        3. Stranger than fiction*

          This is what I’m dying to know. Are they constantly like “well another one bites the dust ’cause the salary is too low”.

          1. Nobody*

            Actually, that’s exactly what happens. Every time my department has hired, the top candidate turned down the offer.

      3. neverjaunty*

        Right – there isn’t actually a “midpoint”. That’s a fiction they’re using to justify the salary ceiling.

      4. Shelly*

        Thanks for your reply, I think you are right. They did mention (non-academic salary only) next to the range, but that doesn’t necessarily justify heir low offer of 43k. It is indeed misleading. Plus, their requirement is minimum 3yrs exp with bachelors, I have 5+yrs of exp with masters and like me, there might be others who are more qualified too.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Wow, I don’t like this at all! If getting to the top of the range is almost impossible, then they shouldn’t be advertising it.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Yes. What should go in the job posting is the range *they are willing to offer the new hire*, not the total range of the position. If ‘salary range’ has a specific meaning to them and HAS to be paired with the total range of the position in their minds, then the posting should say ‘starting salary from $X-$Y’ and then add ‘position range with raises from $X-$Z’ if they want to. I’d frankly leave the second part off entirely, but in some markets maybe giving the whole range provides additional important context.

      2. Merry and Bright*

        Yes! Normally they play paycheck poker but when they do list a pay range it is misleading. So crazy.

    3. BRR*

      My old organization was similar but positions didn’t have unique ranges, they fell into preexisting salary grades which were huge. You couldn’t offer above the midpoint without signatures from someone high up. This was because a good number of employees would stay for a very long time in a position and reach the max. BUT, starting salaries were above the market average and the benefits were really good.

      1. periwinkle*

        At my organization the non-union positions have a certain range of possible pay levels (1 through 5 plus managerial levels if applicable). The pay range within each level is huge. For my job classification, entry-level non-exempts could be paid anywhere from $21 – $37 an hour. At my level there’s a $45k difference between minimum and maximum; for the highest management level for which I can see numbers, there’s an $85k min/max difference. It’s not a bad thing to have that wide a range; if I lateral to a position at the same level, the new manager could give me a hefty pay bump without having reclassify the position at a higher level. If a manager isn’t allowed to reclassify a 3 as a 4, she can still offer a mid-range 3 salary that’s equivalent to a 4 salary.

        With ranges like these, however, you can understand why our posting don’t include salary ranges. It’s complicated.

    4. Laurel Gray*

      If a salary range is for the life of the job, I don’t believe it should be posted. I think the only figures that should be posted are salaries one could realistically start at. We are taught to negotiate. If a person has 5+ years of experience and they push for $60k+ but the most they can get is $52k because of some internal “rules”, it’s very misleading.

      It amazes me how employers, in an effort to be more transparent about salaries, end up being more opaque instead.

      1. TootsNYC*

        And it’s actually very de-motivating to the person you hire, no?

        “Our range is $40k to $60k. We’re offering you $52k.”
        “Our range is $40k to $52k. We really like you, so we’re offering you our very top amount, $52k.”

        I did that once, as a hiring manager. I was given a range, and I decided I didn’t want to negotiate, so I said, “I’m offering you the very best I’ve got. There’s no sense negotiating, because I -can’t- go up, but I want you to come work for me enthusiastically, and I want you to know how good we think you are. And I want you to know I’ll look out for you.”
        One of my best hires ever, and a really great working relationship with her.

        Maybe it was irresponsible of me, from a corporation standpoint–I could have saved the company $3k! But it felt right.

        1. LQ*

          Eh, I think it depends on how it is explained. I don’t see how it is more demotivating than the fact that you could have paid that person 3K more but you decided not to because you’re rather not negotiate (I say this as someone who despises negotiation more than just about anything). Sure yours is hidden, but I’d like to know that if I continue to do well I can get up to 60K eventually. And if I want to make more than 60K at the top bracket I need to move on. Knowing that hey, I’m making 45K and the top range for this position is 60K lets me know there is room to grow salarywise in this position. Otherwise how do I know if you’re saying “Oh I can’t pay you anymore” is that true? Are you just saying that because you want to save the company money? Should I go, ok then I’m looking for something new or push back?

          I’d rather have more information (though knowing what the actual starting range of that salary band is, is incredibly important). I think this is a part of the open salaries vs no one talks about salaries thing though. I’m very firmly on the openness scale so I’d rather have more information.

    5. INTP*

      I worked with a client that had the exact same policy. I understand not hiring anyone above the midpoint, but I still don’t understand putting the entire range in a job posting and I don’t buy that any misunderstanding is entirely unintentional. You have to be pretty clueless to not realize that most people will interpret the salary range in a job posting as the range of the potential salary offer. It’s a given that you might move up from that via raises over time. And it’s counterproductive – people are insulted when they are exceptionally qualified for the role and receive an offer in the bottom half of the salary range.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s funny how when the shoe is on the other foot it’s the opposite story.

        “Boots for sale! Sale prices ranging from $30 to $240!”
        You get to the store to see the selection and all that is available is the upper end of the range.

        If it’s a sale expect to see the upper range, if it’s a salary expect to see the lower range. And you are supposed to be understanding about all this.
        Businesses just don’t see the irony there.

  14. Crazy cat lady*

    Lw #1: small but important distinction, if you’re an independent contractor he’s your client not your boss. A 1099 means that *neither* side owes the other the loyalty of a W2, and employers need to stop feeling otherwise entitled.

    1. Ashloo*

      Yes, this. The exception is a non-compete clause in your contract. I’m an IC and definitely have a strong non-compete for the type of work I do for my (only) client. Sounds like OP thinks they have no legal obligations and can pick up this other company as a client, but I would double check the contract to be sure.

    2. Artemesia*

      Stealing a client from another client is unethical and a good way to hurt your own business though. This example is arguably different but it is not arguable that the OP didn’t become known to this new client by doing work for her while on a contract serving the new client owned by another client.

      Say you were a law firm that hired a free lancer to do your divorce work because you only did securities law and business transactions. Would you keep hiring that person if they suddenly ended up with one of your business clients after assisting them with a divorce? I don’t want someone networking my own business away and I am not hiring someone who steals my clients.

      1. Temperance*

        I don’t think it’s stealing in this scenario, though. The client found her boss difficult and unpleasant to work with, and offered her work instead.

        The client isn’t going to work with her boss anymore, regardless.

        1. Artemesia*

          I agree but it is easy to do this with a wink and a nod too. ‘Hey, I can offer you X to work directly with us’ in a case where they are paying X plus y in the current arrangement but X is more than you are getting. This is actually a rather common way to arrange this sort of thing. You can say ‘oh I didn’t solicit this business’ but do you want to hire a contractor who is walking off with business they only got through you? That is why I suggested the OP have the conversation with their client ‘They said they are not willing to work with you but offered me the work.’

          1. Tau*

            Yes, this is what bothers me about it. It’s not just “would the client rather work with OP than with boss” but “would the client have stopped working with Boss even if OP had never turned up?” If the answer to that is no, then OP is benefiting from the current contract at the expense of Boss. That’s not exactly a trait people look for in contractors, and needs to be addressed. (And even if the answer is yes, Boss probably doesn’t know that for sure. In which case it still looks bad.)

            I’m under a hefty noncompete to prevent this sort of situation myself, which may be why it’s putting me off so much.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Some arenas have enough work to go around. And some companies end up with people they do not want.
        I had a friend who did X (professional service). She became my friend because of her biz. I went to her for years. Then she sold her biz. Contractually, she had to let me go to the New People. I went there for a couple years and HATED going there. I was wondering what to do and I complained to a second friend. My second friend, unknown to me, is good friends with my business friend. My second friend re-linked me to my old business friend after realizing how totally unhappy I was with the New People.
        My business friend explained that the complaint had to come from me. I had to express dissatisfaction and a willingness to find another place to do business. (Secondary lesson here: Whinning DOES work!)
        I have to wonder if the company that acquired my friend’s business did not want to work with individuals in my category and that is why I felt so uncomfortable there. It could be that they pushed me out the door and I willingly went. I will never know.

        It’s hard to know all the ins and outs of OP’s setting. I think a good starting point, OP, is to find out what other contractors like you do in these instances. It sounds like you may be new to the industry or to contracting, so caution is good. But if the standard in your arena is to just accept the new work, then that is what I would do.

        Separately, a good rule of thumb is to never be the third person trying to bridge a relationship between two people. Take Alison’s advice and say you don’t know why this person approached you. If your current boss presses you, just say that he should go talk to this other client if he wants more inputs. You can say you can’t speak for anyone else, to do so would just be making assumptions on your part.

  15. Katie the Fed*

    #2 – I wouldn’t send him a response. The fact that he’s been “demanding” means he’s not going to be receptive and your attempt at explaining is going to be met with further arguments, accusations, defensiveness, etc. It’s not worth your time.

    I was on a panel for interviewing once, and the candidate was clearly sexist toward me. He did the same thing as your candidate, and went so far as interrupting me when I was asking him a question. I think he thought I was the token diversity member of the panel. Too bad for him I was the selecting official.

    1. Lizabeth*

      Aren’t you tempted to stop the interview immediately and walk them out when someone acts like this? I’ve done it on the interviewee end once or twice over my career and the look on their faces was priceless.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Ha, it never occurred to me. But I did give him a long, icy stare when he interrupted me. Uncomfortably long.

  16. Felicia*

    A very similar thing happened to me as #2, except the candidate would only look at my male colleague, not me, or my female colleague (and she would have been his actual direct manager), even when the male colleague wasn’t speaking, and I was the one actually asking the question. Was that guy sexist? Maybe , that behaviour indicates that’s highly possible. But he also demonstrated unprofessional behaviour by not making eye contact with and turning his body away from two of his interviewers.

    1. Felicia*

      Though he did talk about a challenge with a coworker by adding “you know how those women are.” so probably sexist.

      1. Hornswoggler*

        Blimey. I’d be tempted to ask “No, I don’t know. Who are these women and what are they like?” – and hope that any colleagues present would back me up with comments like “Hmm, good question – do explain!”

        1. Creag an Tuire*

          “You know how those women are.” :: points to group of women standing behind you, stalking interviewee and making faces for some reason :: “They’re so damn annoying.”

          That’s the only context I can think of.

          1. Liza*

            Creag an Tuire, I love your comment and it made me think of the Greek Furies! Now I’m picturing a harassed and/or scared-looking candidate with the Furies behind him.

    2. jhhj*

      Especially given your followup, I don’t know why you’d give the guy any benefit of the doubt about not being sexist. (Which is itself unprofessional behaviour.)

    3. Tammy*

      I interviewed someone once who was completely dismissive of me (and would only pay attention to my male colleagues) in a group setting. In a one-on-one interview context, he tried to BS his way out of something he didn’t know the answer to, and muttered (under his breath but plenty loud enough that I could hear it) “f***ing b*tch” when I called him on it.

      Needless to say, he did not get the job, nor did he get called back for a second interview. ;-)

      1. Chalupa Batman*

        How did you respond to that!? In the OP’s case, it would be a little harder to call out indirect cues, but when someone is so inappropriate *out loud*, even muttering, what do you even do? I’d love to know how, or if, you addressed it in the moment.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ideally, you say, “Wow, that’s totally inappropriate, we won’t be hiring you, and we won’t consider applications from you in the future,” and then you stand up and walk him out.

          Whether or not you have the presence of mind to do that in the moment is the question, of course.

        2. Katie the Fed*

          I’m really bad at figuring out the right reply in such a situation at the time. An hour later I have the perfect response, but I’m usually so flabbergasted I just stutter my way through it. Because no training can possibly prepare you for that moment.

          1. TowerofJoy*

            So true! I’m also usually really mad about the fact that I have the perfect response an hour later.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Yep that’s it. It’s when you are so stunned you can’t think of the retort until you have reached the bottom of the stairs (and are already out of the situation).

            2. Libervermis*

              I know the same concept in German as Treppenwitz, “staircase wit”. Obviously a feeling that crosses cultures.

        3. Tammy*

          I wish I’d just stood up and ended the interview at that point, but sadly, I was less mature and confident than that back then. As I recall, I actually went through the rest of my interview questions, escorted the candidate out, and then walked into my boss’s office and told him what happened. I’d like to think that now, with more experience and wisdom, I’d respond like AAM suggested, but the situation has (thankfully) not arisen again in my career thus far.

  17. TL17*

    #4 – I’d hold off on mentioning your mom. Your job search is about you, and I think mentioning a family member would detract from the hard work you’ve done and your experiences. It could also come across as a little like you’re riding someone’s coat tails, and based on what you said in your letter, I don’t think that’s the case at all.

    I’m a lawyer and I once consulted with a young woman. She made it clear she wasn’t interested in my advice. Finally she said, “you know, my dad is in . He went to law school. So, I think I know more about this than you do.”

    This is so opposite of how OP 4 presented his/her letter, but was so ridiculous I had to share.

    1. Artemesia*

      Great example, but I had a different reaction to growing up with a teacher and becoming enthusiastic about teaching through being in a teaching family especially since she engaged in tutoring and such. In a very inexperienced applicant just starting out that would seem a positive to me in a cover letter. This is a person who knows what the life of a teacher is like and is enthusiastic about joining it. Many people drop out of teaching quickly when they find out how time consuming and challenging it is.

    2. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      I think it would depend on the framing. I have family members in education, and I do corporate training in various forms. While I don’t talk about family members’ experiences as informing my expertise, I do discuss their *influence* on my career and passion to teach others in a different setting.

      Being the daughter of a teacher didn’t make me qualified to teach, yet it did provide a powerful template for pursuing my own twist on that interest, how it reflects in my work ethic and approach, and how it contributes to accomplishment.

      This would be appropriate to discuss in response to a “why are you interested in us?” type of question, but not appropriate for a skills-based question about your specific background.

      1. LW #4*

        LW #4 here! That exactly how I framed it in my coverletter! I realized I misspoke a little in my letter to Alison but I actually didn’t mention it at all as proof of experience but rather to provide context for why I was interested in education in general. Being a “teacher’s kid” is a big part of my identity and growing up I spent after day after school and every week in my mom’s class room. But after everyone’s responses I might take it out because I don’t want it to be misconstrued. Thank you all for your responses!

        1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

          It could be misconstrued in the cover letter depending on the tone you use in the letter. I could see where, with the right phrasing, it could help show your deepened interest yet risk falling flat.

          That said, what you’ve shared about being a “teacher’s kid” is absolutely something you should talk about in an interview as you framed it – how that inspired your desire to follow suit. As you gain experience, you’ll be able to provide examples of how that passion influences your outlook and accomplishments, and you can use those examples in a cover letter successfully by pointing to how your early passion drives your success.

          1. Jay*

            I recruit teachers and I definitely think there is a place for saying that you come from a teacher family. There IS something to be said for being around education as a child (even passively) so I’d find a way to drop it in. If not in the cover letter, then definitely while interviewing.

    3. Tau*

      wow, that’s bad.

      I struggled with this during one interview. It was in an industry which a lot of people have ethical qualms with, but also the industry my dad and aunt work in. They were apparently really concerned about undercover activists, judging by the amount of “are you okay with X? Are you sure? Really sure? Have you ever not felt okay with X? Do you have any friends who aren’t okay with X?” I got asked. (They even asked my references!) I really wanted to say “it’s fine! this is almost the family business! I know the drill!” but was worried talking about my dad’s profession in my job interview would make me come off as really immature and/or like I was hoping it would give me an in. So I didn’t mention it, which meant I didn’t have a great answer to why I was okay with X, which probably left them with unnecessary concerns about me being a possible security threat. Still not sure I made the right call on that one.

    4. Callie*

      I once had a student teacher in my classroom who, when I corrected him on the way something needed to be done in my classroom, said, “Well, my daddy is dean of the college of education, and he says I don’t have to do it that way.” I reminded him that I’m an employee of the school district, not of the university, so I don’t care what his dad says. It’s my classroom and these students and their learning are ultimately my responsibility. If he could not follow my suggestions, he was welcome to find a new placement. He did not ask for a new placement.

  18. Jozie*

    Question about #5 – OP mentioned they have several new hires there. If that puts them at 15 or more employees, does that count at this point as meeting the standard as opposed to when they actually start? Does it matter if they’re part-time versus full-time? Just curious as to whether OP has additional options as well (if needed)!

    1. Natalie*

      As far as I understand, federal law cares about how many employees you have now, not how many the OP had when they started and asked for Sundays off. So if they have recently jumped up to 15 employees than the federal civil rights laws and definitely in play.

  19. LuvzALaugh*

    OP#5 Keep in mind the ‘undue hardship on the employer’ in that law. If your employer does not grant you the requested accommodation it does not mean they are doing something illegal and I would steer clear of sounding accusatory if denied. I m not sure if Cali is an at will employment state or not. However your application does not constitute a contract and asking for your availability helps the employer weed out applicants who can not work when needed. It is a screening method. The employer can change the terms of employment when business needs change and not be running afoul of title VII as long as they can reasonably show that working on Sunday is a vital business need and not having employees work on Sunday would place an unfair burden on them. An example is I have worked for some time in manufacturing, religious accommodations for Sunday have always been denied. Due to the nature of the business, working on Sunday was vital to the business. I can tell you that an alternate solution for a Pastor who worked at one of these manufacturing places came up with was to give away his Sunday shift or swap shifts. He was able to work this out as someone would always accommodate ensuring his shift was covered on Sunday. I have seen others work out the same arrangement when they needed certain days off as well.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Well, not quite. The employer would need to be able to show that having every single employee working on Sundays is a vital business need.

      IIRC there have been cases along these lines where the employer claimed they absolutely had to have employees working on their particular Sabbath, and it came out that they were actually less busy on those day than they were on days they didn’t treat as “all hands on deck.”

    2. Graciosa*

      I think you really need to be careful here in assuming that the fact that the business is going to operate on Sunday means that not scheduling a particular employee for Sunday shifts in necessarily an undue hardship. It isn’t.

      Whether or not it would be an undue hardship to allow the employee to consistently take Sundays off is going to depend upon the facts and circumstances of the specific case. If there are a hundred employees who all do the same job and one requests a religious accommodation to avoid shifts on a particular day, the business can probably accommodate the request without undue hardship.

      And I want to be clear that the business has an obligation to accommodate it in making the schedules. It’s not meant to be left to the employee simply to try to find trades every week – the business has to take action.

      On the other hand, if the company has only two people who perform a specific task (for example, signing off on a regular activity which requires a particular qualification) and both request the same accommodation, granting both requests could be an undue hardship if no one else could be made available to do it.

      However the business does need to tread a lot more carefully here than you seem to assume. Even in places with at will employment, a covered employer would be breaking the law to dismiss an employee because of a request for religious accommodation that was not an undue hardship.

      1. LuvzALaugh*

        You are looking at it from the perspective of one person needing to be accommodated for a Sundays off and therefore not a hardship on the employer, however make the accommodation for let’s say Mark and you cannot tell Jason, Peter and Ann no when they ask for the same accommodation. The question is not whether one person not working Sunday is a business necessity. I think we would have to look at the business on a case by case basis to make that determination a well. Also as far as past employer violating a law the missing information I should clarify is that that workplace was governed by a labor agreement governing seniority and work assignments. Accommodating even one person’s scheduling accommodation would have been an undue hardship in that scenario as it would have violated the agreement the employees bargained for. I wasn’t insinuating it isn’t a possibility in the OP’s case to get the accommodation. I was just cautioning against demanding it and not being willing to listening to the rationale of why the denial was being made and not jumping right into this is illegal you can’t say no mentality.
        Also, speaking as one who also does not work Sundays and found a position that does not under normal circumstances require working Sundays, if the needs of the employer change such that the expectation becomes working Sundays I will be searching for another job not demanding an accommodation. Business needs change….my needs may change as far as availability or desired salary as well. When those needs no longer match the others, yes negotiating is an option but making demands not so much.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think you’re misunderstanding what the law requires though. Here’s some of what the EEOC says:

          “To prove undue hardship, the employer will need to demonstrate how much cost or disruption a proposed accommodation would involve. An employer cannot rely on potential or hypothetical hardship when faced with a religious obligation that conflicts with scheduled work, but rather should rely on objective information. A mere assumption that many more people with the same religious practices as the individual being accommodated may also seek accommodation is not evidence of undue hardship.

          If an employee’s proposed accommodation would pose an undue hardship, the employer should explore alternative accommodations.

          …Does an employer have to provide an accommodation that would violate a seniority system or collective bargaining agreement? No. A proposed religious accommodation poses an undue hardship if it would deprive another employee of a job preference or other benefit guaranteed by a bona fide seniority system or collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Of course, the mere existence of a seniority system or CBA does not relieve the employer of the duty to attempt reasonable accommodation of its employees’ religious practices; the question is whether an accommodation can be provided without violating the seniority system or CBA. Often an employer can allow co-workers to volunteer to substitute or swap shifts as an accommodation to address a scheduling need without violating a seniority system or CBA.

          …What if co-workers complain about an employee being granted an accommodation? Although religious accommodations that infringe on co-workers’ ability to perform their duties or subject co-workers to a hostile work environment will generally constitute undue hardship, general disgruntlement, resentment, or jealousy of co-workers will not. Undue hardship requires more than proof that some co-workers complained; a showing of undue hardship based on co-worker interests generally requires evidence that the accommodation would actually infringe on the rights of co-workers or cause disruption of work.”

          1. Katie the Fed*

            “A mere assumption that many more people with the same religious practices as the individual being accommodated may also seek accommodation is not evidence of undue hardship.”

            That’s my favorite part. It shuts down all of the hypotheticals. Deal with the situation at hand, not what could happen.

    3. fposte*

      In addition to what Graciosa says, keep in mind that unless those accommodation practices have been vetted by the EEOC or tested in court you don’t know for sure that what your employers have been doing is legal.

    4. Judy*

      I personally would say that if that Pastor was able to always find someone to swap shifts with, then obviously it was not an undue hardship for that Pastor to not have the Sunday morning shifts. Therefore the company should have made arrangements to not schedule the Pastor for those shifts.

      1. doreen*

        It depends. If the employer is in charge of scheduling, that can be done. If it’s the sort of job where people bid for schedules based on seniority once or twice a year, it’s entirely possible that the Pastor can trade days with a number of people who wouldn’t mind working one Sunday every month or two on a voluntary basis but who would assert their seniority if they were assigned to work every Sunday for the next six months or a year.

    5. neverjaunty*

      California is an at-will state, but you are not accurately describing the legal issues involved.

      1. Ad Astra*

        Montana is the only U.S. state that is not an at-will state, iirc. California workers do have a lot more legal protections than workers in most other states, but most of those laws are related to breaks, hours worked, compensation, and discrimination — it’s still not any harder to fire someone (or quit).

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The bar for “undue hardship” is quite high and it’s likely that since the OP has been working there for a while without working Sundays, the employer would have a tough time arguing it’s essential for her to.

    7. TowerofJoy*

      I worked at a place similar to a 911 call center where it was vital for many reasons for there to be enough people on the floor at any given time and there was no accommodating any issues. You could use your PTO or you could swap shifts or you could take a demerit point. They were generous with their demerit program to allow for things like this but it was the way it was. I wonder if that constituted undue hardship or if the demerit system gave enough wiggle room that it was allowed.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        If someone is doing shift work in a place that runs 24-hours a day, it’s easy enough to swap shifts. But if you’re a member of a religion that prohibits working on your holy day, that’s a bit more problematic. However, with something like an emergency dispatch job, you would know that going in.

        1. TowerofJoy*

          That’s true. It was pretty easy to swap shifts. You also got your shift of choice based on seniority so I suppose on a long enough timeline, the place had high turnover – surprise, surprise – you wouldn’t have to worry anyway. I just had never thought about how that issue might work in that environment. Always learning something here!

  20. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    #5 – When I worked retail, I also had a Sunday-off request — in my case, it wasn’t the whole day, but enough time to go to church (several towns over — churches for my denomination aren’t common), get back from church, and get something to eat before making it to work. For the first year or so, that was fine. But then a new manager came in, and he had a beef with religion. Our scheduling computer had my availability listed, and it wouldn’t put me in for Sunday mornings — but then he would go through and manually write me in later. Anytime he was called on it, by me or by the ops manager, he would just shrug and say that he wanted me working then — he did the same thing to another worker who was in her church choir. Being unavailable Sunday mornings and one workday evening for rehearsal had not been a problem for literal decades, but suddenly it just couldn’t be accommodated.

    He was universally reviled at our location, though, so our ops manager basically went behind his back and told us to keep practicing our religious obligations, and she would take it up with him if he got pissy about it.

  21. Pokebunny*

    #3 A company I am applying to have public records of all their employees’ salaries. The position I applied to is Junior Backscratcher, and its advertised salary range is $50k-$65k. However, looking at the employee database going back 5 years, every Junior Backscratcher get paid $50k-$53k. The ones making $59k-$65k all have the title Intermediate Backscratcher. It could be the case here, that although they advertised that range, they really only pay the low end of the range, unless you have high-end experience, in which case they might even move you to a different title (with a different salary range that overlaps with this one).

  22. Allison*

    #3, either the employer is lying or someone messed up here. It’s possible they had to reduce the maximum they were willing to pay after posting the job, but if they’d reduced it that much they should have edited the job description to reflect it. When you list a salary range, you’re listing the range you’d be willing to pay a new hire in that role, NOT how much someone could expect to make eventually. And while it’s commonly accepted that a person’s offer is in line with their experience, you can’t offer someone a number in the lower part of the range and tell them that’s the most they can pay.

    This is why a lot of employers don’t like listing salary at all. It’s not because they’re planning to pay below market rate and are trying to hide that fact, it’s usually because they don’t want people to apply expecting the highest number possible and then get mad when they’re offered the midpoint salary, but sometimes it’s because the range they’re willing/able to offer changes and they can’t always keep up with changing the description.

    1. Shelly*

      Thanks Allison, I find it totally misleading, because there is no mention in the posting that the higher salary is what you make eventually. In fact I am more experienced and have higher education than what they have listed in their requirements. Also, I don’t think it’s budget cut as well. To me it makes more sense if the employer would list what they are willing to pay or not list the salary at all.

    2. LQ*

      I think (as mentioned above) this is very common practice in some areas where there are specific set salary ranges for what someone could ever get paid, from the lowest entry level, to what the top most experienced, highest paid person in that job gets currently.

      I think that it is more they assume everyone knows what they are talking about and you assume everyone is speaking the same language as you and there is a significant miscommunication rather than an active attempt to lie.

    3. LD*

      “When you list a salary range, you’re listing the range you’d be willing to pay a new hire in that role, NOT how much someone could expect to make eventually.” It would be great if there were a universal agreement and standard for salary information in a job posting, but that does not exist. We want to believe we can get the job at the high end of the range, but that is exceedingly rare. Most often the company is providing the entire salary range for the job, not the typical starting range. And it is a fundamental difference in the way companies communicate and the way applicants interpret the information provided. Again, it would be great to have a standard, but don’t assume that one exists and that companies are violating some standard practice in their postings.

  23. Kat*

    For #2, OP, I would take a step back and think about what you’re hoping to accomplish by writing the interviewee and telling him his behavior was appalling. What do you want to happen and what do you expect to happen? Do you want him to have an epiphany and write you a gracious apology? I think you know that isn’t going to happen. More than likely, he’s going to be outraged and either contact your work to complain or just write it off as a dumb interviewer who doesn’t “get him” (not saying you’re dumb! But if you do this the jerk will think it).

    Go ahead and write the email in draft and pound out what a jerk he was and how you’d never hire him. Pour it all out, then take a breath and delete it. No good can come from sending it.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      well, he’s the one bothering her for an answer. I didn’t get from OP’s letter that she was hoping to accomplish anything. Just wondering if she should answer his repeated requests.

  24. Recruit-o-rama*

    Op#2- in my capacity as in an house recruiter, I get “this guy” at least once a week. Here’s what you say, “we’ve decided to moved forwars with other candidates who more closely match our business needs. We are not able to provide individual feedback. Thank you for the time you took to interview with us, I wish you the best of luck in your career search”.

    Engaging further will only give him things to argue with you about. Beyond that, either block him or mark his name as “no Anwser” on your phone and mark his email as spam. Direct any gate keeper to direct his inquiries to your email and be done with it.

    There are only very rare and specific instances when I will give feedback and it’s because of candidates like this; the attitude is very common, unfortunately. I have a very long list of people in my contact list who are “no anwser”. Everyone who applies to or interviews for any position is notified of their status in a timely manner because my process is very organized, but I don’t tell people “why” anymore. Some people call and email for months after a rejection looking for an explanation.

    1. Hornswoggler*

      I once had to select 13 artists from an applicant pool of about 40, many of whom had recently worked with me on a similar, but larger project. I had to reject some good candidates, and also one young artist in particular who, in the previous project, had not lived up to expectations.

      I wrote a general letter to all the the people I didn’t appoint, listing a number of reasons why I chose the specific candidates who eventually got the job. This was partly to let them down lightly and enable me quite honestly to say things like ‘It was a very strong field and we had a hard time choosing’. The list was something like:
      – I had to get a balance of disciplines. I had many applicants from one particular discipline and could not include them all.
      – Some people where not sufficiently experienced in working with this age-group (it was a schools’ project)
      – Some showed great artistic skill but insufficient understanding of the type of work we are doing
      etc. etc., I can’t remember exactly what, but that kind of thing.

      The only person I got any push-back from was the unsatisfactory candidate mentioned above, who reportedly blew up (not in my presence, happily) and said none of the rejection criteria applied to her and that she was furious because I ought to have employed her.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I just want to give you points for notifying. Thanks for that. :) I got so tired of not receiving any notification after an interview. I didn’t much care why, but as we’ve talked about before on this site, it’s so rude after I put in all the time and prep to attend an interview.

      Only once have I ever asked for feedback, and it was for a construction firm where I had a very good interview and had a recommendation from the HR person. The rejection surprised me, and I called her to thank her for referring me (email wasn’t as ubiquitous then and we had talked a couple of times). In the course of the conversation, I asked her if there was anything I could work on to improve my chances at my next interview, and she said, “I don’t know. You nailed it. Hiring manager couldn’t stop talking about you.” Then she said, “The person they hired was someone’s relative so maybe that’s why.”

      Ever since then, if I knew I did well but didn’t get the job, I would just assume that the reason was out of my hands. It helped me to move on. Too bad the OP’s jerk of a candidate didn’t learn the same lesson.

  25. Ms. Didymus*

    #5 – This seems like something the employer should just do. While I don’t have any employees with religious accommodation requests I did receive a medical accommodation request from an employee to every every Wednesday off (several appointments that need to fall exactly on schedule). Was it a pain at first to rearrange our schedule? Sure. But this is just the way it works and a decent employer will be willing to undergo a small amount of difficulty at first in order to accommodate such an important matter – to say nothing of obeying the law.

    1. Not Karen*

      I agree. I don’t see why it’s a big deal that ONE employee wants ONE day off a week. If that screws up your entire scheduling plans, you’re not a very good scheduler!

      1. Rae*

        Not necessarily. If you have 30 employees than yes, having one request and having a tough time accommodating that is a scheduling issue with you, but if you have 3-5 employees and a new request comes up, than yes, it can be tough scheduling especially when you’re looking at a store that is open 40+ hours, needs coverage and no one can regularly work more than 32hrs else they are eligible for full time. Keep in mind many states have minimum shift requirements (eg 4-5 hours) so you have to now plan your day around meeting that standard and the employee’s needs. Which again, means that you will have to change things up for the other 2-4 employees. It isn’t always easy and it doesn’t make one a bad schedule if it takes time to figure out an an accommodation.

        1. Rat in the Sugar*

          A store that had so few employees wouldn’t be subject to the law requiring accommodation, though, to avoid the very difficulties you’re mentioning. As well, it doesn’t matter if it takes a little while to figure it out, that’s just what you do.

          Also, I don’t an insistence on keeping employee’s hours down so you don’t have to classify them as full time or give them benefits really counts as undue hardship.

          1. Rae*

            So, there are stores subject to laws because they are part of national chains. My store had 3-5 part time employees, but we were a national chain with employee numbers easily in the 6 figures. The problem with full time is that we couldn’t ever guarantee year-round full time employment for those 3-5 non managerial staff. Many times during summer breaks, holidays off, etc 3 employees would only work 10 hrs in a week a piece, not even totaling 40 hours among them. So it’s not as clear cut as simply not giving them benefits for full time work, it’s a matter of really wonky business needs. (Even more fun when board retiree gets a pay raise and goes ballistic because that means he can’t work as many hours. We solved the problem by firing him for 60 days are rehiring him at minimum wage. HR contacted him to make sure we weren’t screwing him over and he just about got fired again giving them an earful.)

    2. Katie the Fed*

      Seriously. I have people taking classes, and people with religious observences, and people who have family obligations. I can usually figure out a way to accommodate. It makes for happy and productive employees.

  26. Mena*

    2. You are speculating that the candidate’s behavior was driven by age discrimination so any feedback you provide shouldn’t include this assumption. The candidate was professional and you can describe examples of this behavior. And he also seems to lack common sense … if invited to interview, anyone the interviewing company chooses to put in the room deserves attention and focus.
    No, he wasn’t a good fit and sadly, he doesn’t understand that ‘fit’ distinguishes like-qualified candidates. I once was offered a job purely because of personality and fit (it came down to me and another well-qualified candidate … I got the offer and learned later it was because the other person was “..a stuffy, condescending jerk”).

      1. TootsNYC*

        I think Mena meant that as an example of how powerful and important “the right fit” is. Mena knows that, the stuffy and condescending jerk doesn’t. And that’s why Mena got the job.

        Be like Mena. ;)

  27. Muriel Heslop*

    #4 – I work and hire in education. PLEASE do not mention your mother in your cover letter. Please DO mention why you want to be a teacher and include examples of why you like children and work you have done with them. Mention the tutoring! We interview people all the time who think they *know* all about teaching because their mom or dad was a teacher. You may have a greater familiarity with the work behind the scenes, but until you have been responsible for your own class, your own grading, and your own parent conferences you really have only had end-user experience. I love hearing why people want to teach and I encourage you to mention in interviews that your mom was a teacher and it sparked your love for it. YMMV, but in a cover letter, I am looking for reasons you want to teach based on experience you have already had; in interviews, I am looking for passion and soft skills.

    Education has changed a lot since I started over 20 years ago, but kids haven’t changed much. They still need people who care about educating them. Good luck! Teaching is a challenging career but it can be incredibly rewarding. We need more dedicated teachers!

    1. Anonymous Educator*


      Leave your mother out of it completely. If you’re a college senior, most schools know you don’t have a ton of teaching experience, so there’s no need to try to bluff it with “my mother’s a teacher.” In fact, by saying you saw the ins and outs of teaching simply by being her child and helping her out every now and then, you’ll appear naive and out of touch. Sorry, but you do not have a real sense of what teaching is like by just helping out your mom. Did you prepare curriculum? Did you actually teach a class full of students? Did you have parent meetings? Did you create rubrics?

      This reminds me a bit of that line from Groundhog Day when Bill Murray’s character takes piano lessons for the “first” time, and the piano teacher compliments him, and he replies, “Well, my father was a piano mover, so….”

      Own the experiences you have had and use those, but recognize that schools will recognize you don’t have that much experience. That’s okay. You’re young. That’s normal.

  28. Observer*

    #2 – Allison, thanks for calling out the issue of not assuming ageism. Not that ageism is ok – it’s obviously not. But, beyond the issue of this being speculation, it really does not matter WHY the person was behaving this way. It was rude, unprofessional, and (as others have pointed out), it shows really bad judgement. That’s a deal breaker, no matter what the reason.

  29. newlhr*

    #5 I wish you success. I too am one who wants all or part of Sunday off. I am willing to work holidays, Saturdays, cover for my colleagues with kids on teacher workdays, work nights, snowstorms, I will be the first responder in any situation. I don’t think its too much to ask for some time on Sundays to practice my faith, and I am glad the law supports that the same way they support job protection for people who birth or adopt children. Not everybody has kids, but we as a culture have decided that supporting parents is important. Same with letting people go to church or synagogue, or mosque, or whatever they doo.

  30. Rae*

    #5 My own religious practices are a bit different allowing for either Saturday or Sunday to me a day of rest/worship. This was tough on my employer at times since everyone wanted a weekend day off but most didn’t practice any religion. In order to make this fair I sometimes took on crazy shifts. The store was open for 16 hours a day, so we worked 6 hour shifts. (hour to close and an hour to open). There were many times when I worked 12 hours straight or came in for the 5am opening shift, went home for 6 hours and didn’t leave until 11pm. (My state defines overtime as 40hrs in a set week). Sometimes this meant being the closer on Friday and opener on Saturday because no one else wanted to do it. My employer was very good about ensuring I had one of the two days off always, but that often meant I got some really wacky shifts. It also meant that my employer would give others the choice for holidays (double pay) as I had already received a schedule accommodation. It was always very clear that religion was simply a scheduling concern and how the rest of the schedule fell was completely based on my choice to have Saturday or Sunday off.

    1. Temperance*

      I think that this is the best way to handle it, honestly. One of my coworkers at my last job is a Jehovah’s Witness, and she liked going to meetings at a certain time, although it was NOT a requirement of her faith to attend these specific meetings. Our boss granted her a schedule change, allowing her to leave at 5:00 p.m. every day when our hours were 8:30 – 5:30. This was especially obnoxious because she was the receptionist, so one of us had to cover the phones and do all her closing duties (because of course she wouldn’t do them prior to 5:00) and then abandon our own, so as not to go into OT. Which of course got us into trouble, because we weren’t closing properly … which wasn’t possible because we had to cover reception. We tried to negotiate a deal where we got to alternate the early departure, and that was shot down.

      In case it’s not obvious, our goodwill bank with both that coworker and our boss was in the negative, and I refused to ever cover a weekend shift/event after, and threw it all on her.

  31. BananaPants*

    Re: #5 – does it make a difference if the objection to working on a religious holiday occurs after the employee has started working there, or does the religious accommodation have to be negotiated during the hiring process?

    My husband’s shift rotation requires him to work every other weekend and he’s not allowed to use PTO on weekend days, only during the week. If he wants to take a weekend day off, he has to switch shifts with another employee (basically working a day on what would be his weekend off). He knew this was the required schedule when he applied for the job (although he didn’t know that he could never use PTO on the weekend) and it was made clear up-front that anyone applying for the position needed to be able to work the schedule as written. It is a small, specialized call center and new hires are hired for specific schedules, all of which include rotating weekends.

    We are religious and while having second shift work hours does allow him to attend church on Sunday mornings he has to go to work afterwards every other Sunday. If he now decided that his religious convictions prohibited him from working at all on Sundays (which isn’t the case – this is hypothetical) would he have any standing to negotiate schedule changes to accommodate religious observances or would his employer be able to say “too bad, this was OK when we hired you – if you don’t come to work on Sunday you won’t have a job”?

    1. Rae*

      I don’t think so…I mean people change religions all the time. Employers have to go by the person’s current religious beliefs. I can’t think of any religions that request both Saturday and Sunday off, so even if weekend work is required it should be transferred to Saturday and the employer needs to respect that. I believe there was a case not long ago of someone who became a hassidic Jew and needed Friday nights and Saturdays till sundown off. The employer refused as the person was not hired for this, and the employer lost the case.

    2. Temperance*

      I don’t think that it would work, if only because it would not be a sincerely-held religious belief in this case. If he was okay working on the Sabbath in the past, and it’s merely a long day for him, I don’t think that’s the same thing.

      1. BananaPants*

        I was wondering more about whether it matters if the sincerely-held religious belief came about while working there rather than from the start of employment – like a conversion of some kind, or deciding that one is obligated to follow a religious tenet that they were not convicted to follow at the time they were hired. It seems like the employer would still need to make some kind of reasonable scheduling accommodation, rather than keeping the original schedule and expecting the employee requesting religious exemption to try to switch Sunday shifts with coworkers every other week.

        Like I said, it’s purely hypothetical – Mr. BP has no issue with working every other Sunday and our faith does not prohibit working on the Sabbath. I was just wondering how that would work if a sincerely-held religious belief did occur after an employee began working for a company.

        I also wonder how religious accommodation works in hiring – if an otherwise qualified applicant had said, “I can do this schedule except for Saturdays due to religious observance, can we shift things around?” and the employer did not consider them further because they couldn’t work the required schedule, would the applicant have had any recourse?

        1. Katie the Fed*

          In your latter example – that would be illegal discrimination. But, it’s really hard to prove in such a case unless the employer was dumb enough to actually cite that as the reason. That’s why it’s better to wait until you have the offer to bring that up.

        2. Rae*

          Given the recent girl that was not hired at one of those swanky teen mall stores because of her hijab and successfully won the case, I’d say yes, if the applicant could prove it was because they couldn’t work on Sundays and working on Sundays was not a part of the job that was vital (eg icecream shoppee only open on weekends) and they fell under federal guidelines, they’d have recourse by law.

      2. Rae*

        The employer can’t really decided when faith becomes sincere, however. Look at the statistics and organized religion. Many people come to, or fall back on, a religion because of a serious life event (sickness, traumatic accident, death of a loved one, birth of a child). I really don’t think an employer would win a case where an employee did suddenly start taking their religious beliefs seriously after one of these things and still denied the accommodation.

      3. Anna*

        Well, this was a hypothetical. It’s entirely possible that BananaPants and her family could start attending a church that does adhere to the idea that one should not work on Sunday and set it aside for religious observance. At that time her husband could approach his employer for that discussion and it would have to be worked out.

  32. A.*

    Technically, ageism or age discrimination can only occur upward, no? I.e., against people who are 40+ years old, with an emphasis on senior citizens. Not that it makes him any less of a jerk for treating you the way he did, including if it was because you’re younger, but my understanding is that ageism is usually a specific type of bias against older workers.

      1. TootsNYC*

        That’s interesting to know!

        I once was admonished for saying (in an email) of an inexperienced candidate, “She’s pretty young,” where “young” = “not very experienced.” I meant, “not very experienced with life,” as opposed to “not very experienced with this specific job.”
        The person told me we didn’t want to be on the hook for age discrimination.

        It seemed sort of unfair to not be allowed to let someone’s lack of life experience or lack of maturity influence a hiring decision. In this situation, I felt it was germane.

        So I decided to just always use euphemisms like “a little green” or “not that experienced” or “doesn’t have that much confidence.”

        They’re still probably better–more distinct, and of course some people might have lived quite a bit of life even at age 23.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I sometimes use “not very professionally seasoned yet,” “experience level means she doesn’t have the professional maturity the role needs,” etc. There’s no legal issue with saying “young,” but I feel like these hit it more on the nose anyway. Sometimes it’s really just “not experienced enough,” and that’s of course fine too.

        2. Katie the Fed*

          Yeah, I was pretty surprised to find that out when I was passed over for a promotion at 26 because I was too young (they told me that was why). I thought I had some legal protection. Nope.

      2. Anna*

        I think the OP is making a distinction between ageism, which could be applied up or down, and age-discrimination, which would be the legal definition.

    1. Winter is Coming*

      When I read the title of the post, I was thrown off by the use of the word “ageist.” I finally figured out that the OP was on the younger side, not the older side.

    2. Observer*

      I think that you are correct legally, but in terms of “regular” usage, it goes in either direction.

      1. K.*

        Sure, but then it’s more likely that using the term “ageism” in a response would be taken even *less* seriously, since it’s not really a thing except colloquially.

        Plus, as a more general musing, I could see an argument that a younger person claiming ageism diminishes the real difficulties and prejudice faced by older workers…sort of similar to so-called “reverse racism” or racism against white people. Or misandry (prejudice against men). Etc. Just a thought; maybe not a fair comparison!

        1. K.*

          But to be clear, I agree the applicant was SUPER rude and his behavior was unacceptable. I just wanted to add another layer to why I’d personally be hesitant to explicitly call out the fact that he might have been dismissive because they were younger.

        2. Observer*

          Except that discrimination against young people is far more pervasive, structural and damaging than most “reverse” racism. And, it’s often far more subtle, and unrecognized, than in the OP’s situation. Katie the Fed mentioned that she was denied a promotion in a prior job because she was “too young”. This kind of thing happens all the time. And there are all sorts of excuses for it. “Too young” is often shorthand for the, often inaccurate, assumption that the person is inexperienced, immature, lacking seriousness or in some other way conforms to a stereotype about “kids these days” / millennials / gen whatevers. “Young” also often an excuse to dump things on a person because he doesn’t have commitments, a life, the standing to expect basic respect or “hasn’t paid his dues”.

          I’m over 40, so this is not about me kvetching about myself. But it’s a pattern I have seen, and it’s hugely destructive.

    3. Kelly*

      I work for a public university and my department conducted a diversity/workplace climate survey last summer. The results were interesting. Some of them weren’t shocking – over 90% white, over half above 45, and majority female. Those results are common in US higher education. Some concerns raised were valid, including that younger staff members don’t feel as respected and that they feel bullied by their older peers, especially when it comes to getting time off and taking advantage of flex scheduling. The results must have hit a sore spot because one of the admin heads is requiring mandatory staff meetings to discuss them. My boss, an older woman, seemed dismissive about the need, which shows there is a need.

  33. Chicken*

    #5 – I’m a bit late, but I don’t think anyone else has mentioned it. The CA state agency that enforces CA’s Fair Employment laws is DFEH – It might be a good resource for you – you can learn more about your rights, and if your employer pushes back, you can suggest that they look at it as well. And hopefully it won’t come to this, but you can also file a complaint if you believe that your employer isn’t complying with the law.

  34. The Butcher of Luverne*

    Grrr. Alison, many times I’ll be halfway through reading the comments on a post and the video ad at the top of the page will somehow load up, bring me back to the top and I’ll lose the place where I was reading….

  35. Laura*

    Regarding #4:

    I work in university admissions. Definitely do not mention your mother’s profession. That in itself is immature and unprofessional. If you really feel that your work study job has prepared you for a career in admissions, it should stand alone just fine if you make it to an interview.

  36. Jen*

    Hi Alison,

    While reading the comments on this thread, I keep getting redirected to the video line. This has happened three times (so far) today, while I’m paused in the middle of reading something and also while I’m active scrolling with my mouse. Then I have to scroll back down the page to find where I was reading. I’m on a MacBook using Google Chrome. Thanks for checking into this.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Also! If anyone has this happen again, please tell me what ad is playing in the above-comments ad box when it happens, so they can block that ad (for example: Academy Awards, Progressive, Campbell’s Soup, etc.).

  37. Betty Boop*

    Please… I need some advice.

    I am an office manager of a small business. I handle HR, payroll, etc. The business owner has informed me that he wants to change the classification of 2 employees from salaried exempt to hourly, because he is worried that he has had them wrongly classified for several years. He has decided that their new hourly rate of pay will be such that they MUST work a minimum of 43 hours to equal their current pay rate. In other words – he is forcing a pay cut upon them. In addition, he is capping their OT at no more than 5 hours per week. So, in order to make the same rate, they will have to work 43 hours/week, they could work 45 and get what amounts to a small raise.

    I feel like I could vomit over this. These are really good employees. They are loyal. They have each been here nearly 5 years. I think this is demoralizing and indicates that they are not valued, even tho he sings their praises all the time. Making them hourly is fine, but I do not feel we should cut their pay in doing so.

    I have stated how I feel about it and been shot down. I am going to try one more time before we speak to these 2 employees about the change.

    Any advice for me on making my case to the boss?

    1. Isben Takes Tea*

      Hi Betty Boop, this sounds like it should come up in tomorrow’s open thread or in an email directly to Alison. Comments here should stay on-topic for the thread.

  38. SunnyLibrarian*

    This makes me wonder, often in interviews, I will tend to make eye contact with one interviewer primarily. I am not sure why, I may just feel more comfortable with them, but I hope that does not mean the others think I am ignoring them!

  39. catsAreCool*

    Your remark to LW2 “there’s an argument that you should let him go on revealing this side of himself to other employers, so they know what they’d be getting if they hire him.” I was thinking this, too.

    Someone who is rude for no good reason is not someone you want working for you. And might be someone who shouldn’t get tips on hiding the rudeness.

  40. Alternative*

    Re: #2 Rude Interview Guy – Looks like I might be the only one, but I would TOTALLY send him a response with the wording that Alison suggested. I couldn’t care less what his response will be – it’s for the personal satisfaction of telling someone who was so rude what they did.

  41. Miles*

    #3 You wouldn’t believe how quickly the budget can change when you get up and walk away from this sort of thing. What they’re willing to pay is so different from what you were expecting that the job is also most likely very different, if you did your homework on what this position is usually worth at least.

    And if it’s not different, expect to be marginalized on a regular basis at this company.

  42. Tutor Hiring*

    Hey Alison,

    Thanks for your site. I’m finding it really helpful as I do the bulk of the HR work for a growing Tutoring company. I wanted to chime in about the poster who asked about mentioning that her mom is a teacher and she gained a lot of experience through that. It’s something that comes up in a lot of my phone interviews and I think something along the lines of “I come from a family of teachers ..” would work well in a cover letter. There is a lot of benefit in education work that comes from experience, intuition, and having some kind of support network.

    Keep up the great work!

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