sweat stains and business clothing, employee might be abusing her medical leave, and more

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

1. I’m worried my employee is abusing her medical leave

I’m a director at a billing company and have been with them for six years. One of my staff, who has been with us for three years, takes intermittent FMLA on a regular basis. Her FMLA allowance from by her doctors notes are missing up to three days a month; she always takes all of them. I personally feel that she abuses FMLA because there have been stretches where she did not take any leave at all and the days seems to always be predictable (Mondays and Fridays); in one example, she was promoted to an assistant manager and didn’t take any FMLA leave during the 90-day trial period.

I don’t hold the FMLA against her professionally and do my best to evaluate her without considering that. She has disclosed to me what her chronic condition is in the past and she admittedly refuses to seek treatment for it.

I recently overheard other team members complaining about how she doesn’t get penalized for all her absences. I can’t tell them she’s on FMLA but I know how absenteeism hurts team morale and causes more work for everyone else. If she is not violating the terms of her FMLA leave, is there anything else I can do to address this with her or to encourage the rest of the team?

Well, it’s possible that she’s abusing FMLA, but I don’t think anything here indicates that. It’s possible that she purposely schedules doctor appointments for Fridays because she needs the weekend to recover from treatment (that would explain the Mondays too, if it stretches into those). It’s also possible that she pushed herself through the 90-day period after her promotion because she really wanted to impress, but that she can’t routinely do that. And the fact that there are other stretches where doesn’t take leave doesn’t really mean anything; she could have some months that are better than others.

Or, sure, it’s possible that she’s abusing it. But I wouldn’t conclude that from what you’ve written here. If her work is otherwise good and she’s trustworthy, go with that. If her work isn’t good and she’s not trustworthy, you can address those things without getting into the FMLA use at all.

As for your other team members, I would say this: “I’m not going to discuss anyone’s individual situation out of respect for their privacy, just like I wouldn’t do that to you, but in general you should know that when people have circumstances come up in their lives, such as medical issues, we work to accommodate them the best we can. Keep in mind that you don’t know what arrangements people have made with their manager or why. Meanwhile, if anyone’s schedule is causing problems for your work, you should come and talk to me — not complain to each other.”

2. Sweat stains and business clothing

I sweat a lot. Like, medicated antiperspirant, soaking wet in winter kind of a lot. The only way I’ve found to avoid this is by wearing sleeveless shirts year-round, with maybe a wrap or a scarf, which has served me fine as a university student. But I’m graduating in a few months, and all the interview and office clothing I’ve seen would be stinky and ruined before I managed to get to the location. What would be worse, showing up with massive wet patches, or showing a bit of pit and shoulder?

How about a combination — wear a sleeveless shirt on your way to the interview, and put on a blazer once you get there? There are lots of professional-looking shells or sleeveless blouses that will work well for an interview if they’re under a suit jacket.

Once you get a job, sleeveless blouses might be just fine for your office — but they’re a little too informal for an interview.

Also! This might be a good time to break out dress shields (which are little pads that go in the armpits of your clothes to protect them from sweat stains). Dark clothing will also be your friend.

3. Should I talk to my manager about why she lied about our office culture in my interview two years ago?

When I interviewed for my current job, I posed specific questions to my interviewer (now my supervisor) about the workplace culture. Unfortunately, the contrast between what I was told and how things actually are here is so extreme that there is no way she could have misspoke, that it could have innocently slipped her mind, etc.

Despite the admiration and enjoyment I otherwise derive from working with my supervisor (and the constant perspective-taking I have engaged in to find innocent reasons for how this could have happened), I have simply been forced to realize that I was lied to. I have been succeeding in my role for almost two years now in spite of everything, but my health and happiness has sharply declined at a pace that I did not realize was possible. (This has also been my first real “big kid” job; yay future professional trust issues!) I will soon begin looking for another job to replace the dysfunctional, hostile, and embarrassingly illegal environment I currently find myself in.

Upon resignation, is it even worth explaining to my supervisor that this is the reason I am leaving? I want her to understand that I was looking for the “real deal” (an org/role I’d be happy to commit to for several years minimum), that I had multiple interview invitations when I interviewed here, and that the interview information she provided me with led to costs for both me (opportunity cost) and her (failure to retain). Apart from some minor catharsis, though, I just don’t know if I have anything to gain from this conversation that would make the potential risks worth it.

People’s default response to this is usually “no, it won’t achieve anything and may jeopardize your relationship/reference.” Sometimes that’s true, but it really depends on your manager and your relationship with her. So, what do you know of her? Is she generally open to feedback? Willing to hear other viewpoints? Does she get defensive? Shoot the messenger? Appreciate candor? What kind of rapport do the two of you have?

That said, you’re wondering what you have to gain, and the answer is probably limited to the catharsis you mention. It’s possible you could get some insight into what she was thinking when she told you those misleading things, but it’s just as possible that she won’t remember much about the conversation or will disagree with your assessment of it or even think you were being naive. Catharsis and the satisfaction of saying something aren’t nothing — but you’ll need to weigh those against the potential downsides. The most likely downsides are tension in the relationship and possibly taking the glow off of her thoughts about you in the future, which could lead to a less enthusiastic reference (which can have real consequences, so that’s important to factor in).

4. Talking to my manager at a part-time job about working more hours

I work two part-time jobs, but I want to resign from one of them. My manager at my second part-time job is always dropping hints that she’d like more of my time. I like this job enough and I would be up for working more hours (or even being full-time status, but I don’t think that’s possible). But how do I ask? We have a check-in call every week (this job is remote). Should I ask then? Should I send an email ahead of time saying I’d like to discuss it as to not spring it on her, or add it into our meeting’s notes/agenda? Any tips on this and how to have the conversation would be really helpful!

Bring it up at your next check-in. Say this: “I wanted to let you know that if you’re ever interested in increasing my hours here, I’d love to talk to you about it. I’m thinking about moving on from my other part-time job, which means that I’ll have additional availability if that’s something that makes sense for you.”

I don’t think you have to give her a heads-up in advance, but if you regularly send over an agenda ahead of time, I’d put this on there, just as an item like “my hours — additional availability if you need it.”

5. Contacting people on LinkedIn when they’ve announced they’re hiring

I know that contacting hiring managers on LinkedIn is overly pushy and generally not a good idea. But what about when they’ve posted that they are looking for someone?

I’m not talking about company recruiters posting vacancies on LinkedIn, but when the hiring manager posts something like “Teapots Limited is looking for an experienced spout designer. If you know of anyone who would be a good fit, please send them our way!”

Sure, that’s fine to do. But they’re very likely to tell you to apply directly through whatever formal process they’ve laid out, so this really only has an advantage when you know them in some way.

{ 238 comments… read them below }

  1. Alanna*

    OP #2 – Have you looked into the medical options for reducing sweat? I know that you can get botox for sweat glands, for example.

    1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

      Botox works GREAT for me.
      I have hyperhidrosis (the medical term for sweating like crazy) and I get botox shots in my hands and my armpits. It’s been…. life changing. It doesn’t help with the rest of the body, of course (though there are certain diuretics that help a little with that) but just being able to shake someone’s hand or not ruining every piece of clothing I own with armpit stains has been sooooooooo amazing.

      1. OP #2*

        I have heard of that, and I’m really glad it works for you! I just… couldn’t. The sweat doesn’t bother me personally, and I feel pretty obstinately that I don’t want to do anything to my body to make other people feel more comfortable when my ideal solution (sleeveless button-ups! no chest or anything visible, still clearly work-wear!) is just thrown out as a possibility by the corporate world :( thanks for the dress shields tip though! I had no idea you could get disposable or temporary ones.

        1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

          That makes totally sense, OP2!

          You sound totally work-appropriate to me :)

        2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

          You’re probably not going to be able to wear sleeveless all the time in the work world, so developing a secondary go to right now is wise.

          I have an auto-immune (mostly in remission, yay) + menopause, which not only makes me me my own fricking furnace, but endangers me from being able to focus/function if I get overheated.

          I literally only own shells/sleeveless dresses. I don’t even wear cap sleeves. I put very lightweight, dressy cardigans over them, and that’s my look. I throw the cardigan off as soon as I sit in my chair, and put it back on to go about the office or in meetings.

          (the other day I did a shawl instead and I must say I rocked it. I now need to buy 50 shawls. It was an up to date style, more like a large scarf than what I think of as shawls back in the day.)

          1. doreen*

            Same here , and even though I spend most of the day with the cardigan on , I sweat less than I would with a sleeved blouse. Must be something about the fit at the armholes.

            1. Anxa*


              The classic structured business shirt? Pitted out in under an hour, without fail. I err on the side of cardigans, shells (nothing too loose because if I get chilly I sweat a lot more), t shirts.

              I still can’t believe there aren’t more companies making fitted women’s undershirts that cover the armpit, scoop at the neck, and otherwise give you sweat protection without ruining your silhouette. I would throw them my money so quickly…

              1. Jaydee*

                I’ve noticed the same thing. Button-front dress shirt, even fairly loose-fitting will be pitted out quickly. Short sleeves, especially cap sleeves, will get similarly gross because I have chubby upper arms so the fabric bunches right in my armpit. Give me a 3/4 sleeve, lightweight, more close-fitting shirt, sweater, or dress in a cotton/poly blend and life is good.

              2. irritable vowel*

                You might check out online clothing retailers that cater to Mormon and other religiously conservative women. They make half-shirts that basically go from a modest neckline to the bottom of your ribcage, to be worn under tops that are fashionable but might otherwise be too revealing.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  Can you wear them like a camisole, with part of it showing? The biggest problem I run into when buying blouses / shirts for work is that they are wayyy too low cut. Not that I mind if I’m just wearing it, but most workplaces do not want to see cleavage.

                2. irritable vowel*

                  Yes, I think that’s the idea – the top part of it shows between, say, your collarbone and wherever the outer top starts. (I don’t own any of these myself, but have seen and heard about them from Mormon women I know.) I agree with you about the cleavage! There are some tops that look fine at home in the morning, with a regular camisole underneath, but somehow by mid-morning I look like a serving wench at Medieval Manor…

                3. bridget*

                  Down East Basics is good for this (their Demi Tee is basically what you mention, and they have a variety of other tees and camis that are meant to supplement clothing to make them fit LDS standards). I spent a lot of money there in my former life as a Mormon.

                4. Random Citizen*

                  Halftee dot com is another one – most of theirs run around $20. I don’t own any, but have heard good reviews of them.

              3. Aurion*

                I wear almost nothing but those structured button-down shirts at work (the occasional very casual blouse or polo into the mix) and I also sweat like mad. I’m actually very thankful that I run cold, so I always have a long-sleeved undershirt on. I can’t imagine how difficult it’d be if I run warm and still wanted to keep my wardrobe!

                (I wear button-downs because it’s easy and always appropriate, even if they won’t win me any fashion points.)

              4. Claire*

                You could look into Uniqlo. I have a couple of their Heattech (thermal) tees which are short sleeved with a deep scoop to wear under winter dresses when I want to avoid dry cleaning. They might carry something similar in their Airism (cooling) line in the summer. 90% of my camis are also Heattech or Airism.

            2. starsaphire*

              Maybe look for blouses with dolman sleeves? You wouldn’t be able to wear a jacket over them, though.

              1. AMT 2*

                oddly, I find that I sweat even more in dolman sleeves than regular ones. Its very strange.

          2. Pwyll*

            This is basically my Aunt’s wardrobe as well! She swears by sleeveless sweaters, sleeveless dresses and shawls. And I think it looks very professional as well, for daily office wear.

          3. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

            I live in a place where 100 degree days are just part of summer and I live in a combination of sleeveless items and lightweight cardigans.

            It’s always a little funny seeing people on the walk into work, as I’m sleeveless and in flip flops, but it works well and I feel so much better during the day.

          4. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I have been wearing kimono wraps that I got for $10 each at Walmart, and I love them! They’re thin and light, made out of sheer scarf material, and drape in a flattering way. I’m wearing only light shells and camisoles now that it’s summer, and these wraps are so much cooler than the light, summer-weight cardigans I’d been wearing before. I need to look on Amazon or at other stores and get myself a dozen more of these things!

        3. Ruth*

          Have you heard of Certain Dri- it is amazing and has changed my life! For anyone with hyperhidrosis I would seriously recommend it. At first, you need to apply it a few nights a week but it gets less and less and I now apply every other month. You can buy it on amazon for around £7- very good value and to be honest I would pay more for the freedom it brings! May be more affordable option if botox was too expensive?

          1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

            Just a heads up – Certain Dri definitely works BUT the skin has to be ABSOLUTELY dry when you apply it otherwise it’s hellishly painful.
            And that means that if you sweat very very much (like I did), your skin is never dry enough for it to work and not be insanely painful.

            So it works but not for the extreme kind of sweatiness that some people experience.

            1. Cathy*

              You will look fairly silly while doing this but it works! Use your hairdryer on the cool setting to completely dry a body part preparatory to applying an ointment. I do this for certain fold-y parts, especially in the summer.

          2. Stranger than fiction*

            I’ve never understood why they tell you to put it on at night, though. What if you shower in the morning?

            1. Carly*

              You’re actually supposed to apply most deodorants at night so the ingredients can get to your sweat ducts and clog them. Applying in the morning, especially after showering, gives the deodorant less time to do its job.

            2. themmases*

              It dries/is absorbed into sweat glands overnight. It’s not a coating on your skin that will wash away like a normal deodorant would. Applying at night also gives it more time to be absorbed so it works better. I use it occasionally in the summer, and it is way less effective if you put it on in the morning like a deodorant.

              Plus, it can stain clothes.

          3. Kaybee*

            Add me to the Certain Dri chorus. It just works. I won’t shave on days I plan on using it, because omg the pain if I cut or even scrape myself with the razor. But I don’t have to use it that often. I first started using it years ago, and I maybe used it every night for a week, and the excessive sweating (I still sweat normally in conditions that would make anyone sweat) was resolved almost immediately. Now I use it maybe once every 5-6 months.

        4. Erin*

          Aadvardi makes some really good ones. I wear them all the time since I sweat even with sleeveless tops. They would definitely help through an interview.

        5. Carly*

          Hi OP2! I have the same problem, I’m constantly 20 degrees hotter than everyone else but I just rock sleeveless or cap sleeves all year (I’m a Business Development Manager so I’m in meetings with people face to face for most of my day) and I never cover up my arms or shoulders and nobody has ever said a word except to tell me that I’m consistently the most professional looking in our office so it’s not a given that you can’t wear sleeveless to work!

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            Just curious, do you have to make a conscious effort to not raise your hand in such a way your wet pit would be exposed?

            1. Carly*

              Honestly, the only time I worry about raising my arms is when I haven’t shaved in a few days. Wearing sleeveless (and having a fan on my desk) keeps me cooler and lets my skin breathe more plus I have easy access to wipe my pits dry when I feel them starting to get gross.

              However, I don’t raise my arms that much at work. Unless I’m stretching out they generally aren’t visible and I only stretch in the privacy of my own office. Alison and I have differing views on dress codes at work but I wouldn’t want to work anywhere sleeveless wasn’t acceptable and in the 14 years of my career it has never once been an issue.

        6. Bwmn*

          OP#2 – for an interview I strongly recommend AAM’s suggestion of a sleeveless shell with a jacket over it. However, I have also recently discovered that Calvin Klein specifically – a number of their “active wear” shirts are essentially cut as shells or more work friendly designs but are made out of sweat resistant materials.

          Shirts like this http://www.calvinklein.com/shop/en/ck/womens-clothing/womens-workout-clothes/11553861 when paired with professional slacks don’t read as work out clothing but can work.

        7. Elizabeth West*

          This makes sense. And if Alison hadn’t suggested the dress shields, I was going to! They are good because they will not only reduce any embarrassment, but they will protect your clothing. Excessive sweat isn’t good for clothes, which might be something to think about regarding the medical treatment.

          1. greenbeans*

            Yes, and there are also tees with built-in dress shields. OP, you might look at something like Thompson Tees. They need better options for women, like a deep v-neck, but there are some options there. I’m a woman and ordered one of the men’s v-necks. The padding/shield covers the entire armpit area, but also extends down to the edge of the tee.

        8. BTownGirl*

          One of my friends had Botox for sweating as well and it worked great for her! I use it on my face periodically (we family here, y’all, so I’m keeping it real!) and it really doesn’t hurt, I promise. I was nervous about it too and I can assure you that it’s very, very safe and even a neurotic like myself has gotten used to it haha! Keep in mind many insurance companies will cover it for a sweating issue, so cost may not even be a factor. Good luck with your job search!! :)

        9. DCiite*

          Hi OP! I know you don’t want to do anything to your body, but if you change your mind…I struggled with hyperhyrosis for years and a dermatologist finally recommended taking Robinul Forte. It’s not the be all end all, but it works most of the time and has definitely decreased the sweaty situations. I do deal with residual dry throat and mouth, but it doesn’t bother me much anymore!

        10. Anonsie*

          I don’t blame you. I have what I hope is a useful suggestion, though: athletic fabrics. I swear by them. You can find dress clothes of all kinds made of performance fabrics now, that are moisture wicking & fast drying and with antimicrobial treatments so they don’t smell. A huge proportion of my work blouses are like this now, and when I’m not wearing one of those I’m most likely wearing an undershirt made of some sort of performance fabric. That’s even easier to do because you can just buy a plain solid colored shirt meant for running or whatever and slap it under your dress shirt or accessorize however to make it look a little bit more dressed up. Ex Officio is the brand popular for this but Columbia, Eddie Bauer, Land’s End, and few others that are escaping me (Magellan?) are cheaper and often more functional in my opinion. My undershirts are largely Columbia because they’re cheaper but get the job done well.

          There are also fabrics that are cooling, some without moisture and some with evaporative cooling when you sweat. Now for me, my weird hyperhidrosis has nothing to do with the temperature so this doesn’t help for that specifically. But I do wear them when I work out or go fishing or whatever, and they legitimately do keep you cooler. So if it’s actually warmth related, give them a shot.

        11. ReanaZ*

          Where do you live? I’ve found in the hot climates I’ve lived in–even the fairly conservative ones like Texas–sleeveless tops and dresses were absolutely acceptable for a woman professionally. I find Allison’s east-coast-US advice to be a little puritanical anytime the issue of sleeveless tops in the workplace comes up. (This time it was okay, but in the past she’s said things like “you should never wear anything that shows your armpit” which might be true in some regions, but is definitely not universal advice). I agree I’d throw on a blazer for an interview, but pretty much every single work dress I own is sleeveless and I’ve never had a problem in 10 years. I actually find it really difficult to even find women’s professional dresses where I live that aren’t sleeveless.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I know, I’ve grown to realize that my anti-armpit stance has become outdated, probably by about a decade. I still hate seeing people’s armpits, but I accept that norms have changed!

            Not for interviews though!

            1. BTownGirl*

              Please, I remember buying a stack of flesh-colored (*screams*) hosiery for my first job out of college! It seems like it was a century ago, but I graduated in 2004.

              1. Claire*

                I graduated in 2013 and have worn sheer hose to work every day since then (except when it’s cold enough for thicker black tights). Clearly I missed a memo at some point.

        12. LizziMac*

          Also, you can find dressy kimono-type shawl/tops. They are open with large pit openings and often breezy or lace so would provide some coverage that is business appropriate (still not interview appropriate though, sorry!) while being very minimal.

          I own some Lularoe Monroe Kimonos that might be ideal for your situation. They are either lace or chiffon and very breezy/open. (Not sure if repping products is okay in the comments… sorry if it is! I’m not a consultant, just own several of these and might be magic for OP #2!)

    2. Meredith*

      I tend to have issues with armpit sweat, and my doctor recommended drysol. It’s a prescription antiperspirant that works well for me. I put it on maybe 2-3 times per week in addition to my regular deodorant. I do notice some minor skin irritation after I apply, but that wears off in an hour or two.

    3. AMT 2*

      My problem isn’t nearly as bad as this but all the tips here are really really helpful! I wear mostly sleeveless tops for work, short sleeves only if it is the right material (basically a t-shirt is the best option, anything else and I sweat even more). I cannot wear long sleeves at all without overheating, I sweat if I am hot, if I am cold, if I talk too much, if I’m nervous…. I hate it. Even so, it sounds like it could be worse. I’ve been using the clinical strength deoderants but not prescription, I might look at some of the other options mentioned here. Thanks!!!

      Oh – one suggestion. Totally depends on the job and desk setup and whatever, but I have a little fan on my desk which can be a HUGE help at times

    4. Alston*

      I do a dusting of baby powder/whatever dry powder lush sells over my deodorant on days I know I’ll be susceptible to pit stains. Clinical strength deodorant doesn’t always work for me solo, but with the powder it is not an issue.

      As a bonus–if anyone else gets sweat/sunscreen stains on light colored clothing a dusting of baby powder will stop it from happening.

    5. CanadianKat*

      Have you tried looking into your coffe consumption (if any). Until recently, I was sweating more than my deodorant could handle. But after I gave up coffee completely two weeks ago, my sweating/BO issue disappeared.

    6. Ana*

      Fellow hyperhidrosis gal here. I have tons of black in my closet. Black blouses. Black shirts. Black blazers. Black cardigans over coloured tanks. Blouses with random, multicolour patterns are also great. And some polyesters are great at hiding sweat stains, even if they make you sweat more. (Word of warning though — the H&M ‘sustainable’ line of blouses — made from recycled water bottles I think? — start reeking the moment a drop of sweat hits them).

      I second the Thompson Tee. I still manage to sweat through it, but that usually happens at the end of a long day, and it prevents uber-obvious sweat patches. I don’t love the bulkiness or the wetness trapped under my arms all day, but it gets the job done when I need to wear something coloured.

      And sweat has an incredible way of getting lodged in your clothes and not coming out in the wash — they smell fine till you put them on and warm them up a little. I soak all my laundry in vinegar before rinsing, and recently did a long sea salt soak of icky workout clothes with astonishing results. I also use a thick rubber band to erase stubborn deodorant residue from the armpits of my clothes.

  2. OP #4*

    I actually had this conversation with my manager already. Our check-ins were short for the past few weeks, and they’re going to remain that way (or not happen at all) for another month and a half. I opted for sending an email, because there was no way to bring this up organically with the shorter time, where I blurted out about the possibility of more hours. Got a very enthusiastic response minutes later. When the next check-in came around, I said something very similar to what you wrote here, Alison (I’m reading your blog a bit too much, methinks)! What followed was one of the most candid (always a good rule of thumb), open, and supportive professional conversations I’ve ever had. And I even got offered full-time status—which is intensely satisfying after a year and a half of being underemployed after college! So grateful.

    1. Sourire*

      Congratulations, so glad it worked out so well for you! And clearly there’s no such thing as reading Alison’s blog too much if it gets results like that :)

    2. OP #4*

      Thanks, everyone! We talked about my future career goals and what kind of experiences I want to have, and what kind of projects from my other role I like and wouldn’t want to give up, so we can build that into designing what a full-time role for me would look like. Have to agree: no such thing as too much AAM.

  3. Chaordic One*

    #2, Dress shields, yes!
    #3, Would posting something on a website like “Glassdoor” do anything? Maybe warn other naive potential employees?
    Are these kind of websites even taken seriously? Would a post there just be dismissed as the OP being a disgruntled malcontent? Sometimes former (or even current) employees have legitimate reasons for being disgruntled. Theoretically, at least, it is possible.

    1. Artemesia*

      There are little vest like things you can wear under blouses with dress shields built in.

      The lied to you about culture thing; let it go.

    2. T3k*

      I take glassdoor reviews into consideration if I’m thinking of applying to a job there. If I see a lot saying the same negative things spanning several years, that’s usually enough to deter me from applying. And of course, if many are positive, that encourages me to apply (though, being a skeptic, I’m more wary of the nice comments than the bad ones).

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Yes be wary. I know of a place that has disgruntled people leaving regularly and for each negative review, a PR person swoops in (disguised as some other title) and writes a positive one. It’s super obvious if you really look closely. They also get new hires to write reviews right away during the onboarding process to write reviews while they’re still fresh on the kook aid.

    3. Jinx*

      I have opted out of one interview process due to Glassdoor reviews, for two reasons:
      1) The reviews varied in specific complaints and level of hostility, but all had the same basic problem: work-life balance was terrible at this company. Work-life balance is one of my biggest factors when job-searching, so this was a big red flag.
      2) The interview process for this company was extensive. Like, six months of multiple interviews, tests, and visits to the location.

      Ultimately, I decided that the work I’d have to do just to apply wasn’t worth it for a company that probably wouldn’t fit my needs. If it had been an interview process more comparable to the other jobs I was applying for (phone screen plus one or two in person interviews), I might have gone ahead just to see.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, the Glassdoor reviews about my company are pretty universally negative about certain aspects (other than ones that are obvious plants), and they are all right on.

        And when I’m interviewing candidates, I certainly never talk about the shittiness! Everything I say is true, but I definitely focus on the positive, because otherwise, we’d never hire anyone.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          I take GlassDoor into account when there are a significant number of reviews. If there is only one review (negative or positive), I assume there it isn’t enough data. (As a former instructor and trainer, I’ve gotten pretty good at reading between the lines on any type of review or assessment.)

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          See that’s the thing, of course when there’s a shitty dysfunctional culture, they’re not gonna tell the interviewee. Unless you happen to interview with someone who’s completely checked out themselves and doesn’t care.

        3. DoDah*

          Same for me at old company. When I interviewed candidates, I used to ask them to give me an example of how they would respond in a situation where they were criticised unreasonably and often. This was me dropping a BIG HINT.

        4. Wehaf*

          But would you straight-up lie in response to a direct question from an interviewee? I feel like there is a huge difference between not volunteering some information and dishonestly covering it up.

    4. themmases*

      The pattern of reviews at my old company is quite accurate when it comes to a) what it’s like to have my old job, which could be found in every department, and b) the effect of organization-level policies like benefits, opportunities for advancement, etc. However you won’t generally see information about specific departments unless the writer is very naive or very disgruntled.

      I will say you should look at the pattern and not any one review. With something like Yelp reviews it’s pretty obvious when the writer is a brat (I once read one where the person left a negative review because they didn’t want the free juice they were given!). If someone on Glassdoor says they were micromanaged, you won’t really know if you would agree.

    5. Terra*

      I definitely read Glassdoor reviews as part of my process when applying for jobs. I haven’t had a situation yet where I’ve let it stop me from applying to a company but asking about some of the complaints during an interview can tell you a lot about how true they are and about how the company handles criticism.

    6. Recruiter*

      Glassdoor is taken very seriously, IMHO. My sister used to work for a large hospital in an HR capacity, and the HR Director was a nightmare-sexual harassment, intimidating and blackmailing (!) his workers to push his agendas, and very blatant discrimination in hiring decisions. He was very close friends with the VPs, so any claims or push-back from his horrible actions were met with a brick wall. My sister resigned to move to a different job, and as her parting gift to her co-workers, left a very detailed and specific review of the HR Director on Glassdoor……the very SAME day the CEO, VP’s, and said HR Director were having a conference on marketing/social media, etc. The third-party consultant hosting the conference pulled up the company’s Glassdoor account, and my sister’s (anonymous) review was there for all to see. The HR Director “went into early retirement” within 2 weeks.

    7. Stitch*

      Glassdoor was what I resorted to when I found myself in an eerily similar situation to OP3. It doesn’t really do anything, but it can give you the catharsis without the scene.

      However, it was a very small company with only 1 other review (a curiously positive one where the only con was the job-equivalent of “Oh my weakness is perfectionism”.) My review all but spelled out “dysfunctional, hostile, and embarrassingly illegal environment” with the TLDR of some specific examples – not the most professional thing I’ve ever written, but not off-base or unprofessional either.

      The owner replied to my supposedly anonymous comment calling me out for being clearly disgruntled, and saying that they knew who wrote the review and therefore discredited its accuracy.

      Now, no one applying to this small business is checking Glassdoor, I guarantee you. That’s not their demographic. But, if anyone does, I take some solace in that the owner of the company comes off as a restaurant owner responding negatively to poor yelp reviews, and even if they don’t listen, they have some warning before going into that place.

      For catharsis, it’s the best I could get without making a scene. I left on good terms, in fact. I’d be curious to know if they actually guessed who wrote the review, or just think they know.

  4. Sami*

    OP #2- It’s very very possible that your employee needs to use her FMLA days on a Monday or Friday in order to actually have three or four days off in a row. And isn’t that better than three or four work days in a row?
    And it does sound like you are pretty close to indeed holding it against her. I’m sure it’s difficult and you don’t want to, so be aware of how you think about her and her absences. It may be worth your time to read up on how FMLA is supposed to work- just to clarify everything in your mind. Good luck.

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      Isn’t there an old Dilbert cartoon about the fact that 40% of absences are on Monday or Friday. The PHB gets all worked up about this “issue.” But that is exactly what you would expect statistically if people *aren’t* abusing their attendance policy.

    2. themmases*

      There are good reasons to take a Monday or Friday when you’re sick, anyway. For the same reasons that three-day weekends are more fun and relaxing than a regular weekend and a Wednesday off, three-day weekends are also more restful when you actually need to rest!

      If you have the flu those weekdays aren’t interchangeable; you’re probably extending the time you’ll be sick if you force yourself to work Monday and take Tuesday or Wednesday instead. If you are having some kind of procedure it’s just good planning– and frankly more considerate to others– to make some of that recovery time be a weekend instead of PTO.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This–when I was at Exjob, I scheduled gallbladder surgery for the day before Thanksgiving. I was out the day of surgery, then the four-day holiday weekend, and then I was only out until Tuesday of the next week re my doctor’s instructions (I had a follow-up on Monday and he said I could go back on Wednesday). But only three workdays had to be covered. Luckily, it wasn’t an emergency surgery, but it did need to be done right away because I was getting rather ill.

    3. Stranger than fiction*

      I think the Op will feel better about it after using Alison’s excellent script to the coworkers.

  5. LadyCop*

    Am I the only one who thinks OP 3 has outdated expectations about there job. (Notice how I didn’t use the term ‘big kid’ there *eyeroll*).

    I don’t think even the best of my managers cared about my opportunity costs, nor see losing an entry level (or near entry level) person after 2 years as being costly to them. In police work that wouldn’t even necessarily be strange…

    I know I’ve entered places thinking I’d work there for 5 years or forecer, and then in a year saw how it wasn’t in line with my mid or long term goals.

    Maybe just me, but quit whining.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      But where are you getting that from the letter? The OP doesn’t get into what the issues in her workplace actually are, just says that what her manager told her in the interview is very different from the reality. (Also, I’d rather we not tell letter-writers to quit whining, particularly with so little provocation! It doesn’t make for a particularly good experience for people who write in.)

    2. Purple Dragon*

      I wouldn’t be bringing it up personally – but I can understand why the OP was a bit taken aback. If you’re straight up lied to in the interview that’s not good and I’d be wondering what else I was lied to about.

      But the OP’s been there for 2 years so I’d just let it go. If your manager does tell you that she’ll give you a good reference I’d be checking it given what you know about her.

      Great – now I’ve got that ruddy song stuck in my head again …. “let it go, let it go” aaaggghhhh !

      1. Artemesia*

        I was straight on lied to about the financial stability of the organization (which had been around for over 100 years); this was before the internet and I was also young and naive and didn’t know how to follow up. When the place crashed and burned and merged AFTER I had uprooted my husband’s career to move there — not happy. Several people remarked that they felt guilty about having lied; lotta good that did.

      2. INTP*

        I agree. At this point I expect to be lied to about culture, hours, and work-life balance, but I don’t think people should necessarily have to learn to expect everyone to lie to them. It’s still wrong.

        1. Tommy*

          Try to talk to more people at the company. People will sometimes spin the truth, but rarely in the same way. Plus, other employees will usually have no competing interest motivating them to lie, unlike a hiring manager.

        2. LawLady*

          I think this is a good lesson for the future for OP about asking specific questions. Everyone answers “what is the culture like?” and “what is work/life balance like?” with “great!” That feels like sugar-coating, not lying. But if you ask “what sort of things does the office do together?” or “what are the specifics of the flex-time available?” or whatever matters most to you, people are much less likely to actually invent events or policies.

          1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

            During the panel interview, one of the candidates asked th folks that would be their peers, “how often do you find yourself staying late?”

            It was a bit surprising to hear, but as a hiring manager who knew they had young children, I understood where they were coming from and why they wanted to hear from their peers not me!

          2. Murphy*

            I ask “what specific actions would you take to support the work-life balance of both me and my team.” That gets me more than a cursory “it’s aces!” answer.

          3. Anonsie*

            I watched a lot of very specific lies to very specific questions go out to potential applicants at my old job. They got far enough to understand that their departing employees didn’t like the workload, but then figured the solution was to tell prospects that the workload was light (I’m speaking very generally here, in real life I mean they gave quantifiable assignment sets and time commitments that were entirely made up when asked specific questions by interviewees– they put in some seriously detailed lies) then surprise them with a heavier one right away. This lead to a perpetual cycle of being short staffed which compounded the workload problem… And so on.

            I wonder if the LW is feeling lied to because of general statements that they subjectively disagree with (“the work life balance is great”) or something more like what I saw before where there are explicit lies (“you will have x# assignments with x hourly breakdown… jk here’s three times that many assignments make it work”).

    3. Mookie*

      She’s not whining, and a company behaving illegally is something to be upset and concerned about because everyone employed there is at risk, legally and reputation-wise, should the illegal behavior be made public. We’ve no idea what laws they’re breaking or how egregious those lapses are, but I don’t see why we shouldn’t assume she’s capable of accurately assessing and characterizing a situation she’s experiencing first-hand. She’s trying to responsibly salvage what she can from this situation and is concerned about the ethics in saying something or in remaining utterly silent. It’s an understandable dilemma. Her reputation could be marred over her association with this company. That could affect her entire professional life from here on out. She’s earned the right to be angry.

    4. MK*

      Do people in police work actually change jobs every couple of years? In my country, it’s usually a lifetime commitment.

      1. Laurel Gray*

        They do not. Maybe not everyone sticks around until retirement age/lifetime but I would say that the people who only stay in police work for a few years are exceptions. I’d argue that the stability, salary and benefits are a deciding factor for people to stay in once they get in.

      2. A Dispatcher*

        Where I live, it’s very normal to switch between departments. Various different towns and villages, the city police, the county sheriffs and the state troopers, etc.

    5. Macedon*

      Is the attitude necessary? Really.

      Work environment is part of the job perks and clearly factors into OP’s career decisions. OP wants a pleasant, legal office climate, and inquired after the particulars of her current job’s prospects in that sense. OP was lied to, and has thus found one of their job benefits forfeited. You wouldn’t tell someone to ‘quit whining’ if the hours or pay weren’t what the manager had disclosed at the interview stage.

    6. Pwyll*

      There are definitely ‘culture’ things that are important that would make OP’s question not ‘whining’. For example, if the boss discussed a laid back culture where people can come and go as long as their work is done, including taking work home if necessary, and the culture is one where you’re chained to your desk, that’d be a huge difference. Or if the culture was described as jovial and social, and yet the environment is such that coworkers rarely, if ever, socialize, that’d be a pretty big difference. And a hostile and illegal environment? Even worse!

      That said, I don’t see an upside to bringing this up. Chalk it up to experience, find a new job, wish them the best and don’t look back.

    7. Megs*

      Maybe most managers don’t care about opportunity costs, but good managers should absolutely worry about retention unless it’s a naturally high turnover occupation. Even if the job doesn’t require a lot of training (which even many entry level positions do), the hiring process itself can be very time consuming and can take people away from other work they could be doing.

      And yes, sometimes things just don’t work out and that’s normal, but the OP describes her workplace as “dysfunctional, hostile, and embarrassingly illegal”, which is really a different and more serious situation.

    8. LBK*

      What do you mean by “outdated”? We don’t even know what the OP’s expectations were or how they weren’t met. If you just mean that they’re wrong for thinking that a manager will care about an entry-level employee leaving, I totally disagree. Many managers only manage entry-level roles, so one of them leaving always has some impact on the department; it might be a little easier to replace them but that doesn’t mean those managers just don’t care about any of their employees.

      I do agree though that I felt something of a disconnect with the OP’s letter. It’s one thing to be lied to about the responsibilities of the role or more concrete elements like that, but I think info about culture should always be taken with a grain of salt because a) no sane hiring manager is going to tell you they have a bad culture, and b) often a bad manager will have blind spots about their culture, so they might genuinely think it’s good (especially if they’re the one creating it).

      I do also think trying to tie back to an interview that happened 2 years ago feels a little weird – it might be different if this were only, say, 6 months into the role and you already wanted out, because that would be a bit more jarring and would also more readily indicate how much of a disconnect there was between what you were told and what you’re experiencing. If it took you 2 years to get to this point, I’d wonder if either the culture had just shifted over time or if it’s not necessarily as bad as you think it is, you’ve just gotten tired of it – a mediocre culture can wear on you to the point that it feels like a bad one, especially if you’re getting bored of the work or are otherwise no longer feeling like it’s balanced out by other things you used to enjoy about the role.

    9. OP #3*


      Hi! Real person behind a computer screen here.

      I’m not entry level. I went to college, worked in the “real world” for a while, went to graduate school, then obtained this high status job.

      This org isn’t merely “not in line with” my goals. It is dysfunctional, hostile, and embarrassingly illegal.

      I’m not whining. Alison likes providing advice and cannot do that without readers asking for help.

  6. Engineer Girl*

    #1 – three days a month works out to around to 7.2 weeks per year. FMLA allows up to 12 weeks per year. You’re going to have a hard time proving abuse when the employee is taking significantly less than the law allows.
    You also state that she refuses to seek treatment. Is it covered under your employer provided health insurance? What are the deductibles? Is the treatment intensive and debilitating? Will it knock her out of work even more? What is the probability of a positive outcome if she does seek treatment?
    Sometimes it’s easier to live with the problem.

    1. Purple Dragon*

      Thank you for bringing up that it’s sometimes easier to live with the problem that get treatment. I personally refuse to get “treatment” for an issue that does impact work occasionally. But if I got the treatment there is a strong chance I wouldn’t be able to work at all for months (6 to 8 minimum) and there’s little to no chance that I’d be in better shape afterwards.

      And sometimes you can’t get treatment for issue A because issue B makes it too risky but issue B is no-one elses business. I had a relative who refused to get treatment for something because her husband got the treatment and then died shortly after the procedure from complications. For her it was an emotional decision but I can see where she was coming from.

      Please don’t hold the “not getting treatment” part against her.

      There is a caveat there of course – people who intentionally aggravate a condition – for instance a diabetic who binges on sugar and then takes a week to stabilize their sugar and use it as an excuse to be a big jerk (geez I know some weird people !)

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        As I posted below, I have lupus (SLE). I technically “refused” treatment, too, but only because the only treatment available to me can cause awful side effects. The first-line treatment is usually ibuprofen to treat the inflammation, but I also have kidney disease and heart disease, so I can’t take ibuprofen. Many of the other drugs used for lupus leave you immunocompromised or increase your risk for cancer, and they are not always helpful. Engineer Girl also makes a good point. If her deductible is high, or the copays are outrageous, or some services are not covered, she may want to get treatment but be unable to afford it.

        1. Anonsie*

          I’m in a similar boat, and it’s exactly what I thought of when I read the letter. When your first step is NSAIDs and the next step is chemo drugs, there is a very reasonable middle ground of what is I guess technically “no treatment” but couldn’t really reasonably be called that by anyone who knew the stakes.

      2. Temperance*

        I used to work with an asthmatic woman who used to spend all weekend at the club (when smoking was legal in my state, which it’s mostly not anymore, YAY). She would either call out on Monday or come in having an asthma attack so she would get sent home.

        I hated her. I ended up covering reception for her whenever she did that, and then got reprimanded for not doing my own work, which was impossible from the desk.

        1. Anna*

          Yeah, it totally sucks that she called out and you had to cover her shift, but this smacks of telling someone they shouldn’t do something they enjoy because it impedes on your life.

          1. Temperance*

            Well, she shouldn’t be hitting the club when the smoke triggers her asthma and causes her to miss work. And I actually am okay telling people not to do things when it harms me.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              They shouldn’t have reprimanded you, either. I make it very clear that when I cover the desk, I cannot do my work during that hour because of the constant interruptions. If that wasn’t enough for them, they needed to do it themselves!

        2. Anonsie*

          That’s lame but it’s not really relevant, unless your point is that folks with chronic illnesses wouldn’t need leave if only they’d just take good care of themselves, in which case: let’s not.

    2. Loose Seal*

      And she may have already gotten what treatment there is! With many medical issues that have occasional flare-ups, once you’ve been diagnosed and figured out your best medication (if any) and lifestyle changes (if any), you don’t have much else to do unless they come up with a new solution to your issue.

      1. Debbie Downer*

        Ugh. So many diagnosis seem to just be “we don’t really know what is wrong with you and there is no way to treat it, but here’s a fancy term for you to call it.”

    3. Jeanne*

      I think if she has a doctor’s note saying how much FMLA she needs that she IS getting treatment. She has a doctor she sees regularly who wrote the note. It just might not be the treatment that OP thinks she should get. I’m afraid there’s no good way to challenge this behavior. It’s really hard to explain to healthy people what living with a chronic illness feels like. You’re thinking she wants Fri off to start partying. But OP wants Fri off because this week has been so tough and she’s too exhausted to function another day. I would be in despair if I had an awful sick day and my boss accused me of abusing it.

      1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

        Yes, I noticed that too.
        If she has a doctor’s note for the FMLA, she presumably sees a doctor and is under care.

      2. Alton*

        Yes, I was thinking that. My understanding is that FMLA generally requires documentation, and if she has a doctor who’s helping provide that, then that sounds like she’s receiving some form of treatment and that her doctor sees value or necessity in her having the time off.

      3. Anonsie*

        Yes, and on top of this “she gets three days and uses all of them.” Yeah, because she is under care of a medical professional who has observed her need to be three days. That’s why they documented her need to be three days. They wouldn’t make it six to leave her buffer room just for funsies if she didn’t ever need it, that’s not how it works.

    4. Duncan*

      If you notice an absence pattern, you can ask her to recertify the FMLA and ask her health care provider to address the pattern (send a copy of the days taken in the past.) Unless due to an appointment/treatment (which you say she isn’t receiving), one wouldn’t expect all Mondays and Fridays. You should consult with whoever manages your FMLA and ensure they are aware of the pattern.

      And yes, to qualify for FMLA, she has to be seen at least a couple times a year for a chronic condition. That is treatment. She may not be getting a specific type treatment for her condition for reasons others mention, but she is clearly seeing someone who is certifying to that when they fill out the FMLA paperwork.

      1. misspiggy*

        One certainly would expect all Mondays/Fridays with a condition that causes fatigue. Several days’ rest is often the only thing that can stave off total disaster with a chronic condition involving pain and exhaustion.

        1. Anon for this*

          Similarly, with some mental health conditions the day of the week may play a role in the exacerbation of symptoms. My anxiety is worse on Mondays because “what if the whole week is going to suck and all the bad things happen and I can’t get all my work done and everything is chaos and I just want to hide under my desk and cry all week.” It’s usually not bad on Tuesday and Wednesday because all the terrible things *didn’t* happen on Monday. It spikes up again on Thursday and Friday if I feel like there’s no way I can possibly get everything done before the weekend.

          Missing work would be counterproductive for me, but if I were going to miss work because of high anxiety, Mondays would be the day.

          1. Megs*

            Amen! Mondays are the worst for my mean brain because it’s the beginning of yet another week of failure. Often it kicks in mid-day and leaves me a mess by the time I’m heading home. Taking time off wouldn’t work in my circumstance (although it would be awesome to take half days on the really bad, crying in the bathroom days), but it’s an example of a chronic condition that’s often time particular.

          2. Collingwood21*

            Interestingly, I find the opposite. I’m better on a Monday because I have rested/looked after myself/been away from work over the weekend; things then build up over the course of the week, and the longer I am here the worse it gets. I’ve never taken sick leave for anxiety, but if I did Fridays would be most likely.

        2. KM*

          This. I have a long-term health condition where sometimes I feel fine for months at a time and sometimes I feel terrible for months at a time — both the condition and the medication cause fatigue along with other symptoms. I’ve often been in a situation where I’ve rested for two days and woken up on Monday thinking, “If I could just rest one day more, I’d be able to get through the rest of the week without too much trouble.”

          I understand why it looks suspicious but, actually, if you need to rest, it makes sense that you’d align your time off with your other rest days.

      2. Belle*

        And sometimes the doctor can certify that certain treatments or medicines can cause side effects so the employee takes it around the weekend to avoid extra days off. We had an employee that got a treatment on Thursdays and then it caused severe side effects for a couple of days later. The weekend helped keep the employee from missing more days in the middle of the week than if done on say a Monday (this office wasn’t open on Fridays).

        1. Duncan*

          Yes, but the OP said she is not receiving any treatment that would explain it in this way, so I was basing my comments off that. And if she did have a chronic condition causing debilitating pain and exhaustion (to the prior poster’s point), then it would be surprising for her to be able to go 90 days without a single absence.

          I’m not saying she is abusing her leave, but I am pointing out that there are options to the OP to investigate concerns raised by the absence pattern. The result may very likely be that there is no change to the certification and she continue to use her 3 days of leave every month, but it will alleviate the OP’s concerns.

          1. Anna*

            How on earth would the OP know what sort of treatment she’s receiving? That is not something the employer would have to know to certify FMLA.

              1. Anonsie*

                I mean, I’m a doctor’s office every week, have all-encompassing lifestyle restrictions and changes, and I take a handful of pills 3x a day but if you asked me what I do to manage my condition I’d say “oh nothing, really.” Because I don’t want to tell you, especially if I work with you, my entire lifestyle and medical plan to manage my care.

                This isn’t hypothetical, I shrug and say it’s not a big deal literally every time someone at work asks me about this because it’s not their business and I don’t want them to think about it as a big deal. I don’t want to be The Coworker With The Condition, you know?

          2. Dr. House*

            Well it’s a good thing that the original poster is both detective, doctor, and cop!

            It’s also a good thing that it’s never lupus.

    5. Jenny F*

      I came here to say the same thing. This person’s medical choices are none of the manager’s business and there are a lot of complicated reasons to refuse treatments, or reasons they may not work, etc. I have a couple chronic health conditions whose treatment is nobody’s business but mine. This manager presumes to know everything about this person’s health and is judging them accordingly, but even if they did know everything about the person’s health, it would still not be the manager’s job to judge. As Alison says, judge the work.

    6. Stranger than fiction*

      I’ve kmown a couple people that have chosen to live with back pain, for example, rather than have the surgery that would take 6+ months and lots of rehab to recover from.

  7. Loose Seal*

    #2, I’m going to make an assumption here that you are 21 or 22? When I was your age, I also sweated through everything. Just wringing wet all the time. I used the heck out of dress shields. I would even carry a fresh pair in my purse so I could change them midday (and put the soaked ones in a ziplock bag). I don’t think I was stinky but I was awfully embarrassed about the underarm – and down my torso – wetness.

    However, my sweat issue cleared up on its own in the year or so after college. I don’t know if it was a hormone thing or if I was just a nervous sweater or what. I never mentioned it to a doctor because, frankly, I didn’t know then that they could do anything about it.

    So my advice to you, on top of Alison’s advice, is to ask your doctor. You could also ask if laser spas have a treatment that will work. I used the best antiperspirant (not deodorant, although sometimes they are both in the same stick) that I could find at the time: Mitchum. I also made sure I got up early enough in the morning so I had time to cool down from my shower before I got dressed.

    I am sending you good thoughts that you find a solution or grow out of it soon.

    1. Funfetti*

      OMG this was me high school through college! I would honestly carry deodorant every where I went.

      Two things helped – honestly loosing weight (Weight Watchers) because less fat meant less heat, plus healthier life style meant more active and less prone to sweating and DRYSOL. This is a prescription and it is AMAZING. You put it directly on your pits (its a clear liquid – not a deodorant) and I literally do not sweat under my pits. Like wear a white shirt without fear!

      I’m in my early 30s now and don’t need drysol nearly at all (I’ll put it on for job stuff and in the summer). But really my body has evened out from being healthy as well.

    2. Murphy*

      Yup! This was me in my early- to mid-20s. I finally grew out of it around 25 or so. I still sweat a lot more than the average person (I can’t exercise at lunch because my hair will be a gross, sweaty mass after), but I no longer have to worry about sweating through a suede jacket (that was hella embarrassing) like I did when I was 22.

  8. uh*

    #3 – The interviewer has a goal – fill the job. This may mean they have to “sell” the position. Think of them like car salesmen and you won’t be caught off guard next time.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Those are bad interviews/managers though. Good interviewers’ goal is not just to fill the job, but to fill it with someone who will do well there and be reasonably happy — which means you’ve got to be fairly up-front about both the good and bad of the culture. (In fact, that’s a good sign to watch for — if your interviewer won’t talk about downsides of the culture at all, you’re not hearing everything you should hear.)

      1. Tommy*

        Exactly! I usually ask my interviewer the best and worst part of their job. It usually tells me what I need to know (though people are rarely very candid, you can read between the lines) and no one’s ever seemed to think it was an overly negative question.

      2. LawLady*

        I do think it depends on the economics– jobs which require a lot of training early on or which are difficult to fill require a committed, happy employee. But there are jobs which just need warm bodies, so turnover/dissatisfaction matters less. I think job seekers should be thoughtful about what jobs they’re looking at, and factor that into what the hiring manager is saying.

    2. snuck*

      Another option is that the manager didn’t ‘sell you’ the job, it might be she thinks this actually is the way the culture is. You spelling it out to be different to how she believes it is isn’t likely to make a dent. I’m saying she might not have intentionally misled you, she might read the situation differently…

      Unless you believe that they are going to really listen and really change what they are doing is there any point? And if there is any way this could be taken as sour grapes on your end then think very carefully about it because if they can dismiss your concerns as not based in reality there’s a good chance they will do that.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      The interviewer’s goal should be to fill the job with the right match. High pressure, high turnover jobs that depend more on bodies than longevity of stay can create a need to oversell. In normal jobs that need employees to stay, an interviewer giving bad information doesn’t help the interviewer at all. Bad hires don’t get you points.

      I think it’s more accurate to suggest that an interviewer may or may not have a good grasp on/skewed perspective of her own culture and the interviewee will do better with more specific questions rather than general ones.

      1. hbc*

        That’s what I’m thinking. If she said, “No one ever works overtime here” and everyone is putting in 50 hour weeks, that’s a lie. If she said that they have a good work/life balance, well, that’s in the eye of the beholder. Maybe her last job was 55 hours a week, maybe she’s thinking of the onsite gym that only management feels comfortable using during normal business hours, maybe she’s truly blind to the fact that overtime-as-needed has become a weekly occurrence. She can be wrong and not a liar.

        And that’s for something pretty tangible. If you’re looking for, say, a collaborative workplace, not many people are going to be aware enough to say, “Oh, no, this place is totally backstabby” or “No one gets along so it’s a sea of headphones from start to finish” or “It’s great if you fit into one of the established cliques or are forceful enough to start your own.”

        1. AnotherHRPro*

          This was my thought as well. Culture is so very difficult to describe as people tend to use phrases that mean different things to different people. What I think is “laid back” means and what someone else thinks it means can be two totally different things. When asking questions about culture I always try to get examples of what that looks like so that I can interpret what that means to me.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        Yes to your last paragraph. We read here often how sometimes people are submersed in the dysfunction so long, it seems normal to them.

    4. Joseph*

      I don’t agree. Here’s the thing: It is not in the company’s interest to hire someone who doesn’t want to be there.

      In OP3’s case, since it was the first job out of school, he was likely reluctant to jump ship too quickly, so they got two years out of OP3. But if the job is really being misrepresented, employees with a longer work history would likely have bailed out much sooner. Most estimates I’ve seen from professional employers range from 3 to 6 months for employees to really get up to speed and perform at an equal level to “the last guy”. Depending on the industry, there might also be associated training/certification costs that the company has to bear. So if you have high turnover, then you’re wasting a lot of potential productivity.

      It’s also worth mentioning that OP3 used the phrase “embarrassingly illegal”. I don’t know what specifically that means or if OP3 is right about illegality, but if they are actually violating the law, then high turnover has another risk: Each additional person who leaves is another dice-roll on whether Leaving Employee is ticked off enough to tip off the police or [Relevant Government Agency].

      1. Laurel Gray*

        Strongly agree. Our summer intern applied, interviewed, background and drug tested and bailed on us. Didn’t show up on the first day. Completely ghosted. IIRC this costs us about $300 for lower/entry level employees. Seems like nothing and it definitely doesn’t happen a lot but who wants it to happen at all? That extra $300 would have been great to have in our “employee morale” budget this summer!

    5. Anon4Now*

      But lying about material things during the interview process crosses out of the gray area.
      I’ve experienced interview situations where the clear intent was to mislead the candidate on some very specific items, such as when they ask if there are promotion opportunities or contract-to-hire conversions. Experienced interviewers know to be cautions here, but some see no harm in promising the moon as long as they don’t have to put it in writing. Fortunately I suppose the only times I’ve faced it myself have been in job situations where I *knew* it was an exaggeration at best, and didn’t give much weight to the assurances that were being made — it’s just part of the complicated dance. Basically, what’s in writing in the job offer is all that there is; the words exchanged at the interview were pretty much forgotten by the interviewer.

  9. Heather*

    Do not accuse your manager of lying! That’s a quick way to put her on the defensive and jeopardize a reference. Plus, in her mind, that could’ve been how she really viewed the culture.

    Also I wouldn’t bring up the culture issue at all. Just say you’re moving on to something that’s a better fit and you’re grateful for the lessons learned. Because you did learn what doesn’t work for you right? That’ll serve you in the future.

    1. MK*

      Yes, “lying” is a very loaded term; I can’t see anyone who has been accused of telling lies being a good reference. If the OP does decide to say something, better to say something more vague, like “when I took the job, I specifically asked about the culture and what I got from your answers was A, B and C, but I found things to be D and E”. The one thing I believe can and perhaps should be mentioned is the illegalities; it would take a pretty delusional person to resent an employee objecting to breaking the law.

      1. anon for obvious reasons*

        “…it would take a pretty delusional person to resent an employee objecting to breaking the law.”

        Trust me, those people are out there and in management positions. The last person who pointed out obvious illegalities (as in federal offenses) to the owner of the company where I work was fired on the spot, and this was the CFO! Personally, I would simply move on and keep my mouth shut. If they are okay with the illegalities, then they would also probably be okay with resenting someone for pointing it out. Preserve your reference and get out of there.

      2. Gaara*

        You’re just describing a liar rather than calling her one; I wouldn’t even do that.

        If it’s worth giving honest parting thoughts/feedback, the illegal workplace conduct issue is a good one. Workplace culture problems may be okay as well, although they also could be less good depending on details (which we are extremely light on).

        But really, figure out what you want to have happen and then act accordingly. If your manager will take the criticism constructively, offer it. If she won’t, don’t, and preserve that reference (with the possible exception of whatever illegal things are going on — you may have a moral or possibly legal obligation to report that to someone, depending on what it is).

    2. themmases*

      Yeah, I would not even plan on using the exit interview.

      I was in this OP’s position a few years ago, in my first professional job and realizing I had been badly misled about the environment and values there. This was a very well respected children’s hospital so I was doubly disillusioned. Once I decided to leave I looked forward eagerly to my exit interview and any employee surveys that came along. On the last survey ever, I got brave and said frankly that I was told to do things, and treated in ways, that were unethical and illegal. Nothing was ever done and there was no exit interview. My old boss is still there, mismanaging (embezzling?) money and retaliating against my replacement for stumbling onto this information.

      Whether they lied or were wrong is not really relevant; the OP’s manager is in a position of power in a place that is dysfunctional, hostile, and engaging in illegal activity. They aren’t worthy of admiration. Take it from someone else whose “mentor” turned out to be part of the problem: even if they can’t fix it single-handedly, there is a lot they could be doing to mitigate the situation and reduce the damage to you. Don’t waste your time trying to fix such people or the environments they build; they will just see it as crossing them. Keep your reference, move on, and be great. Make a mental note about who you won’t be helping out in the future.

      1. AnotherHRPro*

        In an exit interview, it would be fine to say that you are leaving because you are looking for a company that is more (XYZ – whatever it is you are looking for culturally). This provides feedback that they are not XYZ without you implying or stating that your hiring manager lied to you.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        Wow, in the case of a hospital, I would think there’s some sort of governing body one could report that to?

  10. Bend & Snap*

    #3 big kid job = big girl job, which gets panned all the time. Just call it a first job :)

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      Yep that’s what I came here to say. No one will take you seriously if you infantalize yourself.

      1. Tommy*

        You have a point, but in an advice situation like this one, where upholding a reputation is not important, it does at least tell you the person’s perspective.

        For instance, with some managers I’d feel completely safe to tell them that I’m not sure I can cut it, because it’s true and I think they’ll be wise enough to tell me what I’m missing, even if it’s just self-confidence. With others, I would NEVER say such a thing because I’m sure it would not help or they would judge me negatively for it.

        1. anonderella*

          YES! What follows is just my two cents, and I would love to hear more from the opposing side here!

          I actually get kind of irked by the anti-“Big-Kid/Girl-job” sentiment. Someone chose those words because it was the best way to get across how they feel, not because they actually see themselves as an infant. It might not be the most literally appropriate word choice, but it gets the message across without sounding robotic: “Hi, I am a young person(or not young, and this is my point…), I am entering my first job with career significance and I have a question for the hive.”
          Just saying “big kid job” gets all that across without dozens of people having to exhaust their life story.

          It’s a short, simple, creative and effectively expressive metaphor (metaphor for growing up, as in this person has accepted starting and maintaining a career as a worthy lifetime venture).
          If so many people use it, even fully knowing they will be mocked or otherwise on AAM, how can it not be accepted that this is just how some people feel? You can question the validity of their feelings all you would like, but it seems to me that the phrase perseveres.

          I don’t have to agree with their feelings (though I do) to recognize the person using the phrase is just trying to pat themselves on the back a little, and to give them a high-five for their achievement and move on to the real question. Though this is an advice forum, you could do better than try to trip them up during a moment of self-congratulations while they are really asking about another topic.

          1. Heather*

            I see your point. But when I hear that term I think of a young privileged person who is unfamiliar with adult responsibility and wants a gold star just for showing up on time. Not young in general. This is because when I see it used it’s usually among a particular demographic that loves taking pictures of their Starbucks cups. And duck lips, lots of ducklips. So if a person describes themselves that way, my response is to instantly not take them seriously…and this is coming from a 27 year old.

            1. AnotherHRPro*

              Yes, when I see someone describe their job that way, I immediately tend to discount them as being immature.

              1. anonderella*

                @ Heather – your point makes complete sense to me, especially the first sentence. I guess if you know people like that (I do not. I am too mean.), you might think that. It’s not how I see it at all, because I am also 27 and just got my first… job. But see my dilemma? It’s *not* my first job. I have a full resume, just not a full “professional” resume. I am currently 6 months into my only resume-worthy enterprise, but it’s not the first job I’m proud of, nor the one I’d bring up in conversation, and I still struggle with the banality and vapidity of this stepping-stone (not that everyone’s first job is a stepping-stone, or banal or vapid.).
                As a kid/teen, I rejected a lot of the goals that would characterize American/Western ideals; as a result, I am only just beginning what I would call my ‘career’. The time I spent rejecting those goals, and the experiences I had while careening (as opposed to careeRing – get it? ha) through life, are how I came to where I am now; how I know what is most important (Conan, what is best in life?) to me. I had to learn the importance and usefulness of having a big kid job (please see second point below), and how I could use those goals to make myself happy, because this was not a way of life that came naturally to me.
                Today, I am grateful for my inherent criticism of concepts I don’t fully understand; I can respect the faults and strengths of my opposition, and have come more to terms with my instincts and urges; and I know that I really can grow up to be Robin Hood (by shooting my enemies with arrows of justice and reason). None of those things did I have even a sheer concept of as being possible reality, before going through years of self-teaching/learning.

                @ AnotherHRPro – Everything I said above, plus this : Using the term ‘Big kid job’ to me is a reminder of my personal journey through all the What Is Best In Life’s; from anarchist cynic to utter nihilist, to besotted philosopher to the wisest I have ever been, now. It is recognition, not that I have achieved a particular thing, but that I have grown wise (by my own, earned definition) enough to begin achieving, to hone my ambitions and be grateful for my, every day, newly established fortitude.
                I don’t think you’d disagree with me that these things are not immature at all – they are the opposite; landmarks of personal growth. When I use the term Big Kid Job, to me, it signals, not a return to any one group of ideals, but a consummation and reckoning of What Is Best In Life; the term is like a flag planted at the beginning of my journey. The flag being planted, not the message on it, is my personal achievement.

                Good god, sorry for the loooooooongest comment & unsolicited life-story.

          2. Dan*

            ITA. If there’s two things I’ve learned around here, it’s that 1) Language evolves, and 2) Different people attach different meanings to things.

            TBH, if “Big kid job” is taboo, “adulting” needs to go too.

            The only real hangup I have is the “dream job” expression. And it’s not about the word choice itself (we know what it’s short hand for) but what it represents.

            1. F.*

              Not to hijack the thread, but “adulting” has to be one of the most ridiculous words I have ever heard! Slapping “ing” on the end of a noun does not necessarily make it a verb. For centuries, even millenia, children grew up into adults and took on adult responsibilities. It was called “growing up” or “being an adult”. It has always been difficult, more so for some people than others. (end of rant…and Get Off My Lawn! LOL!)

              1. anonderella*

                I don’t understand adulting, never heard it before (and my spellcheck does not like it.).
                Do you “adult” yourself, as in grow up? Or do you “adult” others, as in bring them up/teach them?

            2. Stranger than fiction*

              True. Big kid job to me reads grown up job, but with maybe not the best word choice. Actually reminds me of a toys r us commercial, but doesn’t irk me.
              Dream job irks because you can’t possibly know that til you’ve had the job.

              1. anonderella*

                Yeah you’re right – I’m going to have a hard time hearing it now without “I’m-a-big-kid-now!”

    2. starsaphire*

      I kind of like “big kid job.” :)

      In my case, though, my first career/office/professional job was not, by any means, my first job. I had my first job at 12. I had my first hourly-wage, W-2, withholding-tax, regular-paycheck job at 16. My first “office” job, the first one that involved a desk rather than an apron or a hair net, didn’t come along until I was 18. And my first corporate-style, big-company, looks-good-on-your-resume job happened when I was 20, eight years/40% of my life after my “first” job.

      Personally, I think “big kid job” or “adult job” get the point across succinctly and really well. :)

    3. AnotherHRPro*

      I really dislike it when people say “big kid/girl/boy job”. It is sooooo icky. It is your first professional job. Don’t refer to yourself as a kid/girl/boy. You are an adult. I get you may not feel like an adult, but you are. And your company thinks of you as an adult.

      1. anonderella*

        But what if your standards of ‘adultism’ (or even professionalism) are different from mine? You don’t have to accept my perspective, but you can’t demean (as in actually reduce the worth of, not just insult – not that you’re trying to do that either!) my perspective by saying it isn’t yours.
        And I am not representing my company when I say it; nor would I say the term to my boss, because my intent of the phrase as I have written it above would be too intimate of a term to use with her; I’m not discussing future job prospects with her, as the term clearly denotes a node along the career path, and not necessarily the end result.
        I can’t function from a place of Adult because I don’t feel like I am there at the moment; it is a perspective I am currently scaffolding. If I were interviewing with you and said something like, “I’m looking forward to beginning my first Big Girl job with you on Monday!” then yeah, I’d expect an eyebrow wiggle and perhaps some unsolicited advice about propriety. However, if I’m trying to get a point across to a group of my peers, I’m going to use language that is convenient, efficient, and effective; language that does signal my intent, which is that, in the immortal, impassioned words of Skank (from the movie The Crow): “I feel like a little worm on a big f*ckin’ hook.”
        You can criticize that at this point in my life I shouldn’t be feeling that way; but I would hazard to say that most people, when starting on their journey and surveying all the possible future consequences of that path, feel similarly, no matter the age they find themselves. You can say that I shouldn’t be so self-degrading, or should have more confidence, or should lots of things – but it sounds like you’re slapping an assumption of my character, based on your perspective, onto my words; which however it may be necessitated to you as resulting from your experience, it is not based on a critical understanding of mine.

        Lots of words – TL, DR : My background makes me give people the benefit of the doubt when they use the term. I understand if my argument wasn’t strong enough, but hopefully it does make you see that not all people using the term are tweeting it with duck lips and starbucks in hand.
        I feel like I fought to get where I am; it’s self-degrading but that’s just my humility talking; otherwise, I’m proud of being able to say it because of what it signifies to me.

  11. Mochafrap512*

    Op # 2 there is an FDA approved procedure called microwaving your armpits. It gets rid of the hair and it helps with excessive sweating.

    1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

      Armpit hair does not affect (in any significant way) how much a person sweats or not.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        It doesn’t just remove hair; it also removes the sweat glands. I will put a link in another comment so this doesn’t get held in moderation.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          This OP has stated upthread that they aren’t interested in treatments. She came here for wardrobe advice, not medical advice!

        2. Badlands*

          Unless it’s surgery, I doubt the glands are being removed. Retrained, maybe. Or deactivated, or most likely cooked/killed off, along with the hair follicles.

  12. MsChanandlerBong*

    OP #1: Please do not assume that someone is abusing FMLA leave because of what you described. Sure, she might be abusing it, but there are so many illnesses that cause “flares.” I have lupus, and I don’t have daily symptoms; instead, I have periods where I am fine and periods where I have to use the motorized cart at the grocery store. I will be fine for six months and then wake up one day and be almost totally unable to do anything other than lie in bed or sit in a chair. I’ll feel terrible for a few weeks, and then I’ll wake up and be fine again, just like someone flipped a switch. I can’t remember all of the FMLA rules, but I assume FMLA covers time off for medical appointments, not just days of active illness. If so, she may not be actively ill on some of her days off, but she could be having tests or seeing a doctor for monitoring. That could also explain why the days off typically occur on the same days. One of my doctors does surgery Monday through Wednesday, and his office is closed on Fridays. The only day he does consultations is Thursday. So if I had several appointments with him, they would all be on Thursday.

    As far as employee morale dropping because someone is missing work for medical reasons: I’d much rather be slightly annoyed at a coworker than have to deal with the low morale of being bedridden and spending 25% of my take-home pay on out-of-pocket medical expenses every year for the past three years.

    1. Anon for this*

      Alison’s advice is spot on and I completely agree with your assessment. My MS is a sneaky, evil disease that likes to attack me at the most inopportune times. As I type this, I am sitting at my desk in excruciating, about-to-cry pain because I am embarrassed that I miss so much work and am terrified that they will get the opinion that they cannot count on me. I am a divorced mom raising two teens and my income is all we have. I have worked through unbearable pain just so I could get a promotion; because no matter what the laws are, there is almost always a way to say a denied promotion was due to some reason other than my illness.

      OP No 1: If your employee is abusing the system, you will most likely see signs of dishonesty in other areas of her work or interactions. Please give her the benefit of the doubt, for all of us that sit silently suffering.

      1. Jennifer*

        Yes, I was just going to say I get infusions roughly once a month for MS. The treatment itself takes 4 hours and I often do not feel great the rest of the day and the following day. I have Fridays off because I work 4 10’s, but I also travel almost 100% for work, so occasionally I will schedule my treatment for a workday because otherwise 1/4 of my weekends (the only time I’m home) are spent recovering from my treatment, and sometimes I have personal and social activities planned around the time of my treatments (on weekends) that are important to me. So now and then I take two consecutive days off for the treatments and recovery… but I may go months between doing that. It really just depends on my sick leave balances and my personal schedule.

      2. Artemesia*

        MS is what jumped to mind when I read the OP too. I have known several colleagues over the years with MS and it is characterized by being sporadic. Sometimes they are energetic and fine and sometimes it is all they can do to show up and sometimes they can’t do that. There are a number of conditions that vary like this and flare up.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      And I’ve had doctors who routinely schedule certain procedures for Fridays because “that way you have the weekend to recover.” (Yeah, it assumes we all work M-F.)

    3. Overeducated*

      Commenting to highlight your point about appointment scheduling since I think you are the first to mention it! When I was pregnant I had to see my OB on her “high risk” appointment days at the hospital, not her regular community health practice…and those days were every other Friday. So I missed work for appointments almost entirely on Fridays. I had a very visible condition obviously, but if I hadn’t I could see a manager like the OP judging pretty hard.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, I’ve now had two medical providers I only see on Fridays for various reasons, including the providers’ schedules. It’s actually not that much fun to leave early on a Friday…. to go to the doctor. But I’m sure it looks like I’m just taking off for the weekend early.

  13. Brightwanderer*

    OP#3 – I wouldn’t say anything, personally. If she had been honest with you in the interview, would you have taken the job? If the answer is no, then your argument that she’s losing you because of her dishonesty feels shaky: if she’d been honest, she’d never have had you at all. Instead she got your work for two years. Obviously, as Alison says, this is NOT how you should hire, and I completely get why you’d want to say something. But I think the time to speak would have been right after starting, not two years on, unfortunately.

  14. Juli G.*

    OP 1 – Just remember one thing. You are not a doctor. As long as the employee is within the doctor’s parameters, leave it be.

  15. Jessie*

    OP #5: I contacted someone directly about a position on LinkedIn and that’s the job I ended up with. Although he did have me apply officially through the online system, he set up my phone screening on the spot which probably made the process much faster.

  16. Elizabeth*

    #2: Drysol. I have issues with excessive sweating and it has seriously changed my life. Before Drysol I was the same way as you. My clothes would reek and be stained before I even got to work, after a 20 minute drive in an air conditioned car (on suburban/back roads where there was no rush hour traffic for me to get stressed about).

    You can get it over the counter in some places or purchase it online. You apply it before bed once a week or so. With Drysol I didn’t have to worry about being all sweaty and gross before interviews. I still sweat when I do something strenuous like working out, but the rest of the time I barely sweat at all and I no longer ruin clothes after only a few wears.

    Good luck in your job search :)

    1. March*

      +1 for Drysol! I used to stuff rolls of toilet paper under my arms as a teenager, I’m so glad my GP recommended Drysol yo me. It’s superb.

      If you use it, don’t apply it if you’ve shaved recently because that can irritate the skin. I’ll apply it and shave the next morning.

      1. Talvi*

        +2 for Drysol! Been using it for years and it made such a difference to my overall quality of life!

  17. wet gremlin*

    I always wear a sleeveless blouse or shell (under a blazer/jacket) to interviews or similarly important business events. Not only so I can stay cool on the way there by leaving the blazer off (I’m a big nervous sweat-er), but also because a sleeveless top is much easier to keep neat and straight under a blazer, which gives me one less thing to worry about during the interview!

  18. TotesMaGoats*

    #3-Boy do I feel you. Your issues were the bulk of the conversation I had with my singular work friend. On top of job responsibilities being undersold, the culture was not accurately described. I’ve passed the year mark, exceeded all stated goals and am actively looking. Work friend and I were hired within about 3 months of each other and are both kicking ourselves with the choice to come here. There was no real way for us to know how mismanaged, almost federal law breaking, and lack of strategic planning that promotes wastefulness that goes on here. It’s astounding really. One day, hopefully soon, when I can move on to somewhere better, I hope I’ve learned some good lessons about how to ferret out more of that culture information. I haven’t decided if I’ll share all of why I’m leaving with my boss. As I only see her for 30 minute meetings every other week, I’m not sure I’m really on her radar.

    1. OP #3*

      First of all, nice name. :) I am sorry to hear about your experience and hope you find your way to a more energizing place. I too have one close work friend who checks in regularly to talk about our favorite TV show, but it feels like a veiled sanity check/support meeting at times, haha. I hope you’ll post an update in an open thread or something in the future once you (and hopefully your friend, too!) get out of there.

  19. Allison*

    #5, “please send them our way” makes me think they’re primarily trying to encourage referrals among employees and coworkers, as well as from people they know. It might be best to apply through the company website and then comment “that sounds like a fantastic opportunity, I just applied!”

    It’s also totally fine to message the hiring manager, but don’t be put off if they ask you to go through the formal channels, especially if they don’t know you well.

    1. Joseph*

      Yeah. People forget it because they have so many “connections” at LinkedIn, but it’s really intended for networking – not random contacts. Posting “please send them our way” is an invitation for referrals among existing employees, former employees, and known colleagues at other companies, not an open invite for anybody whatsoever.

      You should certainly still apply using their normal process and you can even mention “saw it on LinkedIn”, but a cold-call message that you want to apply probably isn’t going to really do much – unless you actually know them and/or a colleague in common.

      1. Allison*

        And I should mention, whether your message about a job is “cold” or responding to a job post online, you really should try to keep things brief. A sentence or two max about why you’re qualified for the job, and ask what the next steps should be. I often get people message me their life story, or a very long cover letter or pitch about why there sooooo awesome, and then either ask when we can talk, or ask if they’re even qualified, or worse, ask if I have “any openings” they’d be good for. I’m not even the person who decides who gets an interview or not!

        AND if the person responds with “sorry, you’re not quite what we’re looking for right now,” take that rejection gracefully, don’t try to turn it into an argument.

  20. Erin*

    #2 – I feel you. I have those dress shield things but admittedly haven’t tried them yet (dur). I’ve accepted that no deodorant or antiperspirant is going to help – I’ve tried too many – so I make it about the clothing type. Figure out which types of materials you don’t sweat through, and stick to those. Black clothes are also good. The sweat stains are there, but much, much less noticeable.

    I know Alison disagrees with me on this, but I think sleeveless tops are fine as long as it’s not like, a spaghetti strap tank top. Whether this will be acceptable at your workplace will depend on individual work norms – you’ll have to watch what other people are wearing and gauge from that.

    Also, I have a couple of light cover up-type of tops – three-quarter length sleeved sweaters; a sleeveless, collared, button up; etc – that I often put over a tank top or light shirt underneath. You might be sweating through the first layer of clothing, but no one will see.

    1. Erin*

      Sorry, looked at your question again – for an interview specifically, no, don’t go with a sleeveless top. :) Unless you put a blazer over it as someone else suggested. But once you get hired, depending on work norms, you might be able to.

  21. NJ Anon*

    I am currently on disability for a medical issue. I always make doctors appointments on Fridays because I can’t drive and my husband has off on Fridays. I did this even before going on disability but I let my boss know. We are a pretty open office.

  22. Meg Murry*

    Obviously OP#1’s employee’s situation is going to depend on her specific condition, but would it be easier for everyone involved if the employee was allowed to go to a 4 day week (which would be 4 or 5 days off a month instead of 3, but it would be consistent)? Obviously that isn’t going to work if the employee’s condition is one that periodically flares up and she needs to take off whenever she wakes up with a flare-up or out of control blood sugar, etc, or as others have mentioned, the type of condition that needs a treatment that takes 3-4 days to recover from.

    But if it’s more a matter of needing days to recover at home because she’s run ragged and is out of steam from dealing with her condition, having a regularly scheduled 4 day work week instead of 5 might make a difference both to the optics of her situation (people know when to expect her and when not to) and for her personal health (knowing she has a day off scheduled rather than having to call off).

    Can you talk to the employee about being honest with her co-workers that she has a schedule accommodation due to FMLA? Not that she needs to tell anyone what her situation or condition is, just that she isn’t being sneaky about it or that you are playing favorites by not holding her to the same attendence standards as everyone else. I’ve worked at a lot of companies that gave lip service to work-life balance and working with good employees who were going through difficult times – but often those policies were only officially on the books, and employees that made use of them were subtly punished, or at least not allowed to advance. I’m not saying Jane needs to be the poster child for FMLA for the whole company, but when I worked places that were open about “if you need an FMLA accomodation, here’s how to go about it, and we’ll work with you because we want to keep our employees around for the long term” – that made a HUGE difference to me. I was also much more willing to pick up slack for other employees or work harder than usually for brief periods, knowing that when I needed to take some time for FMLA myself I was able to do so with out major harm to my career or reputation with my coworkers.

    1. LCL*

      This can cause quite a problem in the workgroup, when someone is on FML and the other workers don’t know. I think the concern for privacy has gone far beyond common sense if we are required to accommodate people on medical leave and not say they are receiving accomodations. Illness is nothing to be ashamed of, if we treat it as so private that we can’t even know a person is sick that stigmatizes illness.
      I have posted about how in the past, I had an employee go ballistic on me when I told the group he was taking a day of sick leave. This attitude is BS. The REASONS for your FML are confidential. The fact that you are getting it shouldn’t be a secret, because we want to encourage employees to apply for it if needed. If you attach too much secrecy to the process it creates a lot of stress for employees that should apply for FML.

      The abuse is a separate issue, and you can’t really do anything about it. People do abuse FML, I mentioned someone in a previous post who told me he was going to abuse it, and did. And I think is preparing to do it again. But you can’t stop them, just accept that.

      1. Dan*

        Yeah, I’m not a fan of complete secrecy.

        Employee: “Jane is out a lot on Fridays. It’s making work too hard to get done.”
        Boss: “Yeah, we’re aware of it. The situation is being addressed.”

        At that point, the work is still not getting done, and boss appears to be turning the other way to Jane’s impact on the team.

        Boss could say something more direct like this: “Jane has made arrangements for an alternative work schedule. Let’s discuss its impacts and how we mitigate them.”

        If the boss did want to reference FMLA, that’s fine. Because FMLA can be (and often is) used to care for family members, the mere fact that someone is using it does not mean that they have a medical condition themself.

    2. Tuxedo Cat*

      There is absolutely no reason an employee should have to share her private health information with her coworkers. Coworkers shouldn’t be gossiping, and a manager should back the employee on FMLA up, not pile on, and certainly not expect her to divulge her medical history.

      1. LCL*

        Yeah,I think we both agree that health information should be kept confidential. The fact of someone needing FML shouldn’t be secret. The REASONS should be confidential. Otherwise it appears to the rest of the workers that mystery absences are tolerated for some people because they are special.

        1. Anonsie*

          As someone who has to use intermittent FMLA, no, I don’t want my manager telling people about it reasons or not. They can say the exact same thing with Alison’s suggestion above, that it’s approved and they should only bring it to the LW if it’s causing a work flow issue, without bringing up that it’s due to her health. Adding the FMLA bit contributes nothing to the message or management of the situation here.

          You said upthread that this stigmatizes illness, but the reason we do this is because it’s already stigmatized. It’s all well and good to want to break that barrier, and believe me I do, but I can’t change the world by exposing myself individually. That has *always* worked out poorly for me, and I don’t want to do it again.

  23. Deb*

    OP #3 – Does your company have HR personnel, and if so, do they conduct confidential exit interviews (keyword = confidential)? If so, that can be a good place to share your reflections on the culture mismatch without damaging your relationship with your supervisor.

    1. OP #3*

      We do have an HR department, though I have heard that confidentiality is an issue with them. I’m not sure if I can trust that information, but it does make me err on the side of being wary. Now that I think about it, I have no idea if they even do exit interviews or anything like that here.

  24. Fifty and Forward*

    For OP #3, I’ve been there, very recently. A toxic work culture drains you physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is frustrating beyond belief, and you want your supervisor to know it.

    The thing is, I do no think your supervisor will agree that they lied. That’s not to say they you were not lied to, because you were. But you will never persuade anyone in management to see it that way. Because they just don’t want to hear it. Until their bottom line is affected, or a change occurs in senior management, they will cling to their toxic culture.

    Kudos to you for surviving two years in this job. Focus on your job search and moving forward.

    1. I'm Not Phyllis*

      Totally agree. And there are some places where the management is so disconnected from its workforce that they don’t actually know what the culture is like.

    2. Chaordic One*

      I hate to say this, but I really think you are right.
      Sometimes I think it goes beyond not wanting to hear it. The conflict between how they see themselves and how they act is just too great and they can’t cope with it, so they’re in denial.

    3. esra*

      This here. I’ve had several people leave my team, and each asked me if I thought they should say anything. I said that if management really wanted to change, they’d be pursuing more exit interviews, and they’d be interested in how employees think/feel before they were on their way out the door.

    4. OP #3*

      I think I agree with you. The funny/sad thing (can’t decide which) is that the specific details I’m trying my best to censor here really *are* effecting their bottom line. It’s….confusing. But anyway, I was already leaning towards not initiating a conversation and think I’m going to stick to that. I’ll have to think about what to do if I am asked, though. I see a 50/50 likelihood, and I’m horrible at improvisation and will need to keep some phrasings in my back pocket so that I don’t say the wrong thing or tip anyone off.

  25. SH*

    #1 While I didn’t need FMLA, I was in a similar situation last year where I was dealing with two illnesses at the same time. When one was finally diagnosed, it had reached a dangerous level. Since it’s not as serious as cancer, many people roll their eyes and assume I’m faking. Unfortunately, my now former supervisor was in that camp and made my life a living hell. For the other illness, I occasionally took a few hours off on Fridays (which are slow days) to attend doctor’s appointments and my supervisor refused to accept doctor’s notes or confirmation emails upon my return to work. I would urge the OP to give the employee the benefit of the doubt unless she has definitive proof that she’s lying.

  26. DCompliance*

    OP #1- The FMLA law can allow for a 2nd opinion by another doctor if certain criteria are met. (We actually had a situation in my company where an employee was telling her co-workers how to go on FMLA and what doctor you can see to go on it even if you are not sick so the issue of a second opinion came up) Do you know how you HR Department handles getting a 2nd opinion if they do at all?

    1. Duncan*

      If she is already certified for 3 absences a month, then the time to do a second opinion (and then possibly a third) has passed. That has to be requested when the initial certification form is provided, as in your example, where you had reason to doubt the validity of the forms received from those co-workers (if one ever actually tried it.)

  27. Lauren*


    Why not have an HR summit meeting to discuss policies per month? ie – the FMLA policy could be first. State it being their right, eligibility, what the process is, talk about medical considerations and if people need reasonable accommodations without FMLA. OP can prob say that we’ve had employees on what is called intermittent FMLA for chronic conditions that required a few days off a month (no names, i’d ask the FMLA employee if they are ok with the assumptions here, people will figure out its her). Talk about options, processes, and rights. Also, good to discuss long-term too. Anyone with elderly parents that may require them to FMLA in an emergency basis – may want to prepare by knowing what paperwork is involved and getting the doctors to assess the parent ahead of time for easier transition.

    And then end with – we will cover 1 HR subject a month – and I will put a board up for topic suggestions in the kitchen or something.

  28. Mental Health Day*

    Hi, OP, I feel for you. I am male so I can’t help too much in the female clothing suggestions department. However, I lived in Houston for several years and this was a major problem for me. A few things I did to mitigate it:
    1) Change workout time to the evening. I’m so sweaty, I’m still perspiring for several hours after a workout.
    2) Change shower time to evening too.
    3) Wear the minimal amount of clothing during your commute. Perhaps not as easy for women to do this, but I would just carry my work shirt in my car and not put it on until I arrived in the parking garage. I also always carried an extra work shirt.
    4) Stuff a hand towel or similar up the back of your shirt while you are driving.

    Fortunately, I now live in MN, where this is only a problem a couple of months out of the year, as opposed to Houston, where it was a problem 11.5 months out of the year.

    Interesting side note, I recently read that people that grow up in hot climates are usually sweatier than others regardless of where they live later on. As a native Texan, I’m pretty much cursed for life with this. Ah well…

  29. The Rat-Catcher*

    “If she is not violating the terms of her FMLA leave, is there anything else I can do to address this with her or to encourage the rest of the team?”

    …If she’s not violating the terms of her leave, what would you be hoping to accomplish by talking to her? I think it’s possible you are reading too much into things, like her not taking leave during the 90-day probation for her new position. Technically, she COULD have taken FMLA-covered leave during that time, and legally, you and your company would not have been allowed to penalize her for it.

    As for the rest of your team, Alison’s very nice wording of MYOB would probably work wonders. If they’re having workload issues directly caused by Jane’s absence, they can bring those to you and you can work on an alternate solution with them. But as far as the general “absences aren’t even-steven” thing….it’s just part of working?

  30. Katie the Fed*

    OP 1 – you have nothing to gain and everything to lose by pursuing this. She’s within her doctor’s parameters, and she’s well under the limits for FMLA anyway. You should focus on telling the other employees that they need to back off.

  31. I'm Not Phyllis*

    OP 3 I think you work at my old workplace! I’m going to disagree with those who say to chalk it up to being young or a first job. This is something that happens to a lot of people regardless of age or how long they’ve been working (let’s not forget, some people stay in jobs for a long time before moving on for whatever reason – there are people who are looking for their second job ever in their 40s or 50s!). First, to your original question, I would bring it up in the exit interview, though I may be in the minority with that one. They may sugar coat things when they bring you in, but you’re not doing them any favours by doing the same thing when you leave. That said, think hard about what you want to say and how you want to say it. They won’t take you seriously if it comes across as simple bitterness. I might not say “this person lied to me during my interview about culture,” but rather that x, y and z are the things that have led you to seek new employment.

    Also, if you do work in my old workplace (kidding – kind of) you know that sometimes management will put a positive spin on things that really have no positive spin. A hiring manager can’t say to you “yah, we have no idea what we’re doing here” so for the future, you’ll need to read between the lines. If you can, definitely do some research on Glassdoor and find out the general reputation of the company you’re interviewing with. I know that’s not going to help you in your current job, but hopefully it’ll help in the future. Good luck with your job search!

    1. OP #3*

      Hey, I *do* work at your old workplace! ;) Thank you for the advice. I like your strategy on what to say. I’m actually not sure if exit interviews are “a thing” here, but plan on prepping something just in case. I don’t think I’m going to initiate the conversation myself, but I’m super bad at improving in on-the-spot situations, so…I’ve got some thinking to do. I hope your new job is working out much better for you!

    2. TootsNYC*

      yeah, a hiring manager has no reason to tell you the truth about the culture at their workplace if there’s the tiniest bit of negative.

      So if you get an offer somewhere, ask to think about it, and then try to find an employee (someone who left recently?) to ask about it. That’s not always easy to do, even in the days of LinkedIn, but it might be worth it. Get your salt-shaker out, since employees can be biased too.

      I was worried about my current job; it has a bad rep. I called around, or emailed, to people in my industry, and one of them said, “Ooh, I have a freelancer who works there. Let me ask her.” That freelancer’s overview turned out to be spot-on: tough workload, but the team buffers one another really well. And they’re pleasant/nice/good at their jobs.

  32. SJ*

    UGH SWEAT. I’m not super sweaty, but I think my sweating during an interview a few months ago certainly didn’t help my chances! (I didn’t get the job.)

    I was in a suit with a fairly thin button-up shirt underneath, and I had a full day of interviews in the absolute stuffiest, hottest room you can imagine (really old building) — plus nervousness didn’t help, though I NEVER sweat as much as I did that day. I’m really sensitive to heat too, so I had a pounding headache after an hour. I couldn’t take off my jacket, obviously, and I didn’t feel comfortable even suggesting cracking a window, so I just suffered. I kept leaning forward in my chair (hopefully unnoticeably) to avoid having my back sweat through my suit jacket, and I know my butt and thighs were all sweaty and putting wrinkles in my pants. It was completely miserable. I pack deodorant with me everywhere I go, luckily, so I escaped to the bathroom when I could in between interviews to wipe down and deodorant up as best I could, but I know I was looking rumpled and gross after a few hours while the women were breezing in and out in sleeveless tops and the men had the sleeves of their button-ups rolled up. UGH. My deepest sympathies to anyone who has this issue on a daily basis, seriously.

  33. Rachel*

    OP 2: I think if you bring it up in a nice way, then it’s fine. I personally would bring it up in the exit interview and express how (with specific examples) the culture is not how it was expressed to you. I don’t think that’s burning bridges or anything, it’s just being honest. Companies that actually care about their culture/employees with value that feedback.

  34. Aurion*

    Tangentially related to question #2:

    Do other people tend to get skin issues with antiperspirant? I swear I’ve a 70% chance of developing at least one, sometimes more, armpit zits within a day or two of putting on antiperspirant. That’s why I prefer undershirts to daily antiperspirant (I only use the latter when I’m going to be at fancy/important events where sweat absolutely isn’t an option). That’s not an ideal solution, but it’s at least a workable one; I don’t smell as long as I shower daily (I work in an office with strong AC).

  35. Marty Gentillon*

    #2 One other thing to consider is the fabrics that you are wearing, as it can have a huge effect on how sweaty you feel. Some fabrics like Merino wool and polyester have moisture wiking properties which should help the sweat evaporate better. Getting an undershirt made of those fabrics can help.

  36. Anonsie*


    Oh look it’s me, you knew I’d pop up for an FMLA question didn’t you all? But yes, Alison is totally correct here. I can, when I have to, really push it through short periods of time (usually, sometimes this is impossible and sometimes it’s not) but then I have to recover. It’s not sustainable. Similarly, yes, chronic illness absences are frequently patterned because the things you do in your life are patterned. I’ve noticed a lot of people who don’t have experience managing something like this seem to take patterned absences as a sign that they’re not really necessary, but I want to stress that you can’t glean any information from this.

    Because we often do have a little flexibility- if I know Tuesday and Wednesday are going to be hectic but Monday is slower, then if I wake up Monday feeling like things are going south then I will choose that day to rest and come at a busy Tuesday refreshed. Otherwise I’m going to be run down by Wednesday morning, and that absence (or lack of focus or pain or whatever) is more likely to be problematic. Alternately, sometimes you’re more likely to be worn out on certain days because of your schedule. Fridays have been rough for me lately because my job has been very physically active and after four days of that, if I was at all unwell that week then it’s all compounded to me being wiped out by the end of the week. Sometimes it shifts so Wednesdays are harder because I can only do a couple days at a time. It varies, and you can sometimes have some degree of control over it by regulating your activities differently.

    Some folks seem to misinterpret that flexibility to mean that the leave isn’t actually necessary, but the rest (or treatment or whatever recovery) has to happen. You get good at adapting and pushing around when you do it, but that doesn’t mean you don’t ever have to.

  37. OP #3*

    Thank you, Alison, for featuring and responding to my question and for exposing my question to this great community of readers! I greatly value this community (and Alison’s books!) and have learned so much from everyone since stumbling upon this blog a few years ago.

    I’ve noticed a few common themes in the comments, so it seems best to address them in a single comment rather than responding to (most) readers individually.

    1) This may be surprising in light of the disappointment I’ve discussed in my letter, but…I do like my manager (who interviewed me). We work very well together, I have learned a lot from her and, actually, I know she’d give me a great recommendation. My co-workers on our team are great as well, but we are all sadly the interpersonal exceptions here rather than the rule. It is a shame that the org is the way it is.
    2) I did do research on the org prior to even submitting my application and again after my interview, Glassdoor and all. The information I found did not help or harm my chances of accepting the job offer, and the rare reference to the workplace culture was positive. I have since learned that upper management may have orchestrated an online scrubbing initiative of sorts a few years ago. I don’t know if that’s true.
    3) I can understand having a negative reaction to the use of the term “lying” in my letter. I struggled with this as well because, as I previously mentioned, my manager is likable, great at her job, and I enjoy working with her. But….that is what happened. I think I know why she made a mistake, and on a human level I could even somewhat understand the underlying motivation behind it, but I am certainly not going to endorse the mistake.
    4) Thank you to the readers who have “been there”. I appreciate your kind words.

    Oh, and about the “big kid” thing. I’m not a fan of the phrase, either. That is why I wrote “big kid” instead of big kid, and I used it to shorten my letter. Use of a potentially annoying but benign term does not provide a meaningful window into someone’s grit or professionalism.

  38. coffeepowrd*

    To OP #1,

    As someone who has needed to take exactly 2-3 FMLA days per month, and always needed them, if you question this employee it will destroy any trust they have in you and it will send a message to other employees on your team that you are a gigantic jerk who discriminates against people with health problems.

    It’s obvious to me that you have perfect health. Just wait until something bad happens to you sometime in life, then we’ll talk.

Comments are closed.