I posted a rant on Facebook about an ex-employer, our office AC won’t be fixed for months, and more

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

1. Office AC is broken and won’t be fixed for months — and it’s 90+ degrees

I work for a small nonprofit which has a history of trying to pay as little as possible for everything. About seven years ago, they built their own building and paid as little as possible for the heating/air-conditioning system. Now it’s coming back to bite us all, as the A/C has worked for only about a week total this summer, which has been unusually hot and humid to boot.

They have been trying to get the A/C fixed, but have finally admitted that they are going to have to put a whole new system in, which will take six months to a year. While they were still trying to fix the A/C, they did very little to give us any relief. It’s only in the last few days that we’ve even gotten fans. Now there’s talk about getting portable A/C units, but from the sound of it, that will take another month or two. By which time, of course, we won’t need them any more.

Is there a good way to strongly request we be able to work from home while it’s 90+ degrees in the office? In the past, there has been a lot of resistance to letting any but the senior managers work remotely. There are definitely times when we all need to be on site to meet with clients or hold classes, but there is still a lot most of us could do remotely. The head of my department might allow it, if it were just up to him, but it’s a small enough office that if he did it for his team, it would be very obvious and definitely lead to resentment. But I don’t see him fighting for this for everyone, so I don’t want to go to him.

I know most of the non-management level people are frustrated about this, so I’m wondering if we should band together to ask for this, or would that be too aggressive? What would be the best way to approach this? There is a management team meeting next week, which would be an ideal time to approach all the senior managers together.

Yes, you should absolutely band together to request this, and no, that would not be too aggressive. They have you working in unreasonable working conditions, which is exactly the kind of thing that the National Labor Relations Act (which protects your right to organize for better working conditions) was designed to address.

Go talk to a decision-maker as a group and frame it this way: “The current temperatures in the office are unacceptably hot. It’s not realistic to expect people to work in 90+ degree offices, so we obviously need another solution. If repairing the A/C can’t happen immediately, we need different workspaces. The most cost-effective thing would be to have people work from home as much as possible. Should we do that or is there another solution you’re implementing?”

You could also point out that OSHA recommends that offices be kept at 68-76 degrees. (Although note that OSHA doesn’t require that employers maintain a particular temperature; this is just a recommendation.)

2. My coworkers brings up all problems at team meetings, even small interpersonal things

I am leaving my job in two weeks, but I just want to know if I am off-base or not here. I don’t have conflicts with my coworkers a lot, but I have noticed a pattern that seems troubling to me.

Any time a coworker has a problem with how something has been handled (whether it is personal, a mistake, or just a miscommunication), they wait until the Monday team meeting to bring it up and then do it there. In the rare cases that they have a personal conversation with the parties involved beforehand, they still bring it up in the team meeting, even if they said they felt the issue had been resolved.

It feels like they are trying to make sure that the manager knows there has been a problem, even when it has already been resolved. It is frustrating to me, because it feels like it diminishes the feeling of a “team” (everyone is trying to look the best and make others look bad) and it also is a pet peeve of mine when team meetings last hours because every issue that could be handled outside of it is handled as a group.

Is this normal? Am I right in feeling like it doesn’t contribute to a healthy office environment? And when should a problem be escalate to a manager rather that dealt with by the involved parties?

Noooo, not normal, and yes, you are right to be weirded out by it. People should generally handle problems themselves when they can, and when they can’t or when something has become a pattern, that’s when they should bring a manager into it. Rarely would that kind of thing need to be brought up before the whole group, unless it’s something that truly impacts everyone (like “I noticed people have been entering data in X way, but it needs to be Y way instead”).

It’s odd that your coworkers are doing this, but it’s even odder that your manager isn’t putting a stop to it … which makes me think that maybe people are doing it because your manager has encouraged or rewarded it, which is very bad indeed.

3. Can my employer refuse to re-hire me because I posted a rant on Facebook about them?

I have a question about social media. In 2014, I left a very toxic work environment in my small town. Stupidly, three months later I posted a very negative rant on Facebook, which resulted in an online community discussion and leadership and policy changes at that place of employment.

Now, a couple of years later, leadership has changed at that employer and the environment is not so bad.

I recently visited with a manager about coming back to that employer, only to find out that the Facebook post has been printed out and placed in my HR file. Is it legal for my previous employer to add that post to my file months after I was no longer an employee there?

Yes, it’s legal. You badmouthed your former company publicly (and possibly shared information they considered confidential), and that usually means you’re not going to be welcomed back. And yes, they can add to your employee file after you leave if additional relevant information becomes available.

Sometimes this stuff becomes more intuitive if you put yourself in the position of an employer. If you employed a nanny in your home and after quitting her job with you, she posted a negative rant about you on Facebook but then reapplied for work with you a few years later, would you be inclined to re-hire her or would that be a deal-breaker? For most people, it would be a deal-breaker. Same thing here.

4. I’m temporarily mute due to a medical condition

I have a good job as an analyst in a great office. I feel valued, I’m well treated, and I’ve been able to advance in my career. I’ve worked here for 5+ years.

My problem is that I’m temporarily mute due to a medical situation/complication. No one knows when I’ll get my voice back: the doctors throw around terms like 1-3 months and the internet is less optimistic. I’m in week three right now: after teleworking for most of July due to medical situation, I was finally able to return to the physical office recently. My admin forwarded my phone to his weeks ago; I made flash-cards with normal response phrases on them, carry a notebook and pen with me, and have relied heavily on email and typing notes for people to read. I even gave a presentation last week by typing the script, having someone else read it, and using a Word document on a screen to type responses to questions asked during the brief. (It basically worked, not advisable.)

I’ve talked (so to speak) to my team leads, my boss and the coworkers most directly impacted: everyone has been very patient and understanding. My job does not require a huge amount of talking, but I do normally need a voice.

My question for you and the readers: how would you feel as a manager if an employee was in my situation? What about a peer coworker? Would it annoy you to have to read written responses (assume good handwriting) during a conversation or meeting? I fully recognize that I am so lucky that this is my problem. I can’t help feeling like I might be a burden or annoyance and I’d really like to hear the thoughts of others.

I would not be bothered by this at all, and I think most people would feel the same way. People are likely to feel compassion and concern for you, not annoyance or like you’re a burden. It sounds like it’s clear to people that you’ve worked to adapt and minimize the impact on your work, and your solutions sound like good ones. I think you can strike this off your list of worries, assume that people are understanding, and focus on whatever you need to do re: the medical situation.

Read an update to this letter here.

5. Holiday gifts and favoritism

I work within a team of 12 with two other managers. Between us, we are responsible for managing four of the staff members. Within the team there are strong friendships outside of work as well as in the office. Those people are in the habit of bringing holiday gifts in for each other, which highlights whether you are “in their clique” or not. I think this is totally inappropriate but as I don’t manage everyone I find it difficult to address this. Last year I suggested a secret Santa but it wasn’t viewed favorably. It is very uncomfortable and makes some managers seem like they’re favoring people as they tend to return the favor.

You can’t really police whether people give gifts to their coworkers, and you shouldn’t implement a “you have to bring something for the whole class” rule. People are going to form friendships with some people and not with others. You can certainly insist that they work well with all their coworkers, friends or not, but their gift-giving is their own business.

However, managers should either give something to everyone they manage or to none of them. That’s just part of being a manager; you need to appear reasonably impartial. You might point that out to your fellow managers, and suggest that all of you issue a joint “no gifts for us this year — your hard work is gift enough” request to your team.

{ 311 comments… read them below }

    1. Michelle*

      Maybe they should all buy the same fan and just march in holding them one day.

      Seriously, I would have brought in a fan months ago. If I get all sweaty and feel dirty, I can’t work. Well, I can but I would be distracted because I feel dirty.

    2. TrainerGirl*

      They should start a pool to see who will pass out first. The winnings could go towards a window AC unit. : – )

  1. Sami*

    To OP # 4: Sounds like you’ve got all your bases covered. If I were your coworker, I wouldn’t think the slightest bit less of you.
    Good luck as you work through this and here’s hoping your voice returns soon.

    1. stevenz*

      Agree. It wouldn’t bother me at all. If I had the condition, though, my coworkers would be delighted!

    2. Jeanne*

      It sounds like you’ve done the best you can. It sounds like your job isn’t phone sales so that’s good. Most people will be understanding. I would be really frustrated though. I’d want to talk.

    3. Marzipan*

      Agreed. #4, you would have my sympathy for your situation, and I’d be perfectly happy for you to communicate in whatever way suited you best.

    4. Connie-Lynne*

      OP #4 — I lost the hearing in one ear in January and it’s still not back to my previous levels. People at work have been making accommodation, but I totally understand feeling burdensome.

      What got me through on particularly rough days was not thinking about how annoyed *I* was at my new disability, but about how I’d react if it were a coworker. I’d mostly be kind and try to accommodate them, and be honest about if we needed to try something else, right? I think most people would feel that way, and not be secretly resenting the person.

      It’s scary and annoying, though. My sympathies.

      1. Newby*

        It is probably much more annoying to you than to your coworkers. I completely lost my voice for several weeks in college and freaked out because I had to give oral presentations for a larger percentage of my grade. My professors just had me write out the presentation and type answers, similar to your presentation. My friends and coworkers didn’t seem to care either. In fact, they bought me a small white board with attached dry erase marker to carry around with me.

    5. OldAdmin*

      All my best wishes, too.
      Another tool would be a chat system/ messaging/ IRC in the company. Where I work, we have a number of internal IRC channels we use way more than phones, as it keeps noise levels down, and people have more time to answer. :-)

      1. Happy Lurker*

        Yes, and maybe a tablet or laptop for meetings, if you are a decent typist. I can type a bit faster than I can write and it is far more legible.

    6. Trout 'Waver*

      OP #4. It sounds like you’re very resourceful in handling your temporary illness. If you were on my team, I wouldn’t feel annoyed at all. Best wishes on a speedy recovery!

      1. LQ*

        Totally agree about being resourceful!

        If you have to do another presentation (it sounds like you did well) but you might consider having the first part and then taking questions and sending them out by email later. But honestly? It really sounds like you’re finding good solutions to all of the things that are coming up.

        Chat is awesome, whatever chat tool your work uses is great for short “conversational” things.

    7. Kyrielle*

      Yes, this. I would be impressed by all the work you’ve done to minimize the impact, and I would be sympathetic. I’m very talkative (though my job doesn’t need as much talking as yours sounds like it does), so not being able to talk is a hard thing to think about – I think it is for most people, actually. Communication is basic. Which means I’d be (and am!) sorry for you that you are dealing with this, and impressed at all your solutions – it sounds like you’ve always got something ready to hand to let you communicate.

      I could see if it slowed down the process for something that I might find the *situation* annoying, maybe – but I would not find you annoying, and I would be assuming that you were finding the situation even more annoying than I was, since you’re living with it 24/7 and all its impacts.

      1. JaneB*

        I get full laryngitis for 4-6 weeks most winters. Although I use many of the solutions suggested, and my colleagues seem to appreciate my efforts, there are parts of my job I struggle with (lecturing – I record lectures as soon as I can whisper, then have students do active work in class to explore the ideas, using the typing on a projector method, and the students seem to be very sympathetic). My current boss gets really annoyed with me though, and has told me I AM NOT TO GET ILL this winter. Wish I knew how!

        1. KellyK*

          Wow, that’s unreasonable. But, hey, I’m sure your boss will understand if you leave the minute any coworkers cough or sneeze. And request gallons of hand sanitizer as a necessary office supply. I hope you manage—somehow—to not get sick this year. Maybe your doctor would have something helpful to recommend—vitamin C tablets or whatnot—but “don’t get sick” is like “don’t get stuck in traffic” or “don’t get rained on.” Life doesn’t actually cooperate quite that neatly.

    8. ginger ale for all*

      I think if I had a co-worker afflicted with something that made them mute, I would only be concerned if it was contagious. If it isn’t, then I would just try to be as helpful as I could. If it was contagious, I would be hoping that you would be staying home to recover. I have to admit though that I would be on webmd to find out more about your condition, I get curious about medical things and it would be interesting to read a brief summary of it. I know that might be considered rude though so I would try to not mention that I did that.

    9. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      Chiming in with others here for OP #4 that you have nothing to worry about. You are clearly making an effort to work around this problem and get work done (as opposed to complaining and shifting your work onto others). I work with both people who are near-deaf and people who have low vision. Accommodating them is a simple as typing questions and using large-font type. No biggie.

    10. neverjaunty*

      Agree. OP, this actually happened to a co-worker of mine. Nobody was bothered in the least and everyone went out of their way to make sure he could communicate with them.

    11. focusfriday*

      I have a co-worker who had to have her vocal cords removed. I’m sure it’s a HUGE problem for her, and I admire the way she’s coped with it and the related medical issues she has had to deal with, but it hasn’t been a problem at work. She asked me to record a new voicemail message indicating she’s not available by phone, and in meetings she’ll write notes and one of us will read them for her, and otherwise we all get by just fine with email and notes. Part of our job duties involves making phone calls, and she obviously no longer does that–the next person in the chain of whatever project it is just makes them instead. This would be a burden if it were more of the team, but we can easily absorb making one person’s calls for her. It’s an entirely reasonable accommodation and no one resents it or is irritated by it. If we (or you) were answering customer service calls all day, it might be trickier, but I think most jobs can work around something like that just fine. Anyway, as a peer: not annoyed.

      My only advice would be to make sure and still send occasional friendly chit-chat (if you did this aloud before) via email, to keep the connections you have with your co-workers.

    12. Janice in Accounting*

      Several years ago my dad’s vocal cords were damaged by a tube that was put in his throat during a minor surgery. He wasn’t sure he would ever talk again, and at the time worked as a sales representative–his voice was his livelihood. His company was very understanding, and worked with him on alternate ways of communicating until thankfully his voice returned completely. I hope for the same understanding and patience for you!

  2. Terra*

    Re: #1 – Question for AAM: If I were to work from home during the months of summer, using my own aircon at home (which would otherwise be off from 7:30 AM when I leave home for work til about 7PM when I return home.) this would raise my electric bill for the month *at least* another $160 per month—that is, $480+ for the summer. Is it reasonable to expect employees to shoulder such a major expense that they would not otherwise have?

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I think that would fall under the same policy as things like commuting expenses, which would be covered by the employee.

      If your job requires you to work from home, it’s something to consider when accepting the job. If working from home is optional, it’s a perk that comes with some personal expenses taking advantage of that (but you might save on commuting and drycleaning). If your job suddenly requires working from home, then it sucks, but would be like your job changing locations and your commute going from 20 minutes to an hour.

    2. Daisy Steiner*

      Is there any chance of at least claiming tax back on an expense like this, or would that only work if you were self-employed?

      1. Jeanne*

        If you have a home office, you can deduct various things. But you might need a CPA to get it right for you.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes. If your home office space takes up X% of your house, you can deduct X% of your utilities. To do that, you need to use that part of your house exclusively for work, and as a regular place of work. (That assumes you itemize deductions though.)

        1. baseballfan*

          And the home office must have been set up for the convenience of the employer. Most people working from home just because they prefer it don’t fall into this category.

          1. Megs*

            Anyone thinking about whether to claim a home office deduction should really talk to a tax professional at least the first year they’re planning on doing it. If you’re already itemizing your deductions, the cost of the tax consultant is deductible too, and home office is an area where a lot of people get in trouble. There certainly are benefits, but you need to do it right because it’s somewhat notorious as an audit-flag.

          2. Regular Lurker*

            I volunteered to work from home, but then my employer redesigned our office space and subleased a chunk of it to another company. I no longer had an office, so I was now working from home at the convenience of my employer.

            I did it for more than a dozen years, itemized my taxes and got a nice write off every year for the percentage of my mortgage and utilities that equaled the percentage of my house I utilized for my job. I definitely saved money by having to buy less (office appropriate) clothing, gasoline and lunches.

        2. Terra*

          I’m talking about when you specifically take a job because it’s NOT work from home—as in you would never remotely be interested in working from home and would never accept such a job. But then your employer forces an unsafe working condition upon you—for which the only alternative given is “work from home.” If your boss that won’t fix the aircon when it’s 95 degrees, isn’t that negligence? My home faces west, and on summer days reaches about 104 degrees when baking in the sun all day. That would be even more dangerous. If my employer were to force such a condition upon me because of his own negligence, forcing me to pay either $500 -or- get heatstroke to do my job… it’s not about my “comfort” it’s about basic safety. That is an extreme choice to force on an employee – heatstroke or $500. (This is a hypothetical scenario, but I am surprised to find commentors frame this about “comfort” when its relaly an issue about safety. For a great many people $500 is the difference between paying the rent and not, covering childcare and not, etc.

          1. Bellatrix*

            I’ve worked in a 95 degree office that did not have airconditioning and had no intent of having it installed. Sure, it’s stupid, kills productivity and morale but it’s not impossible by any means. Airconditioning didn’t use to be so ubiquitous as it is today and people got by.

            1. sara*

              There’s also the option of working from a public or university library for the day, if you really can’t be in the office and you don’t want to pay to run the AC at home.

      3. KAZ2Y5*

        I have a feeling you could only claim the added electricity as an expense if you were wanting an IRS audit that year ;-)

      1. What's In A Name*

        I had the same thought – or the public library where you can set up in a quiet location.

      2. Whats In A Name*

        I had the same thought; or a public library where there is more quiet and even less cost.

        1. finman*

          I had a coworker slowly working his way to retiring in Florida and didn’t set up wifi in his new house because the cost to use it only 1-2 months a year. The library was not as good of an all day spot due to the need to leave for conference calls, and some libraries only let you reserve rooms for 1-2 hours at a time.

          1. Library Director*

            That varies from library to library. We have several people who set up in our cafe area (vending machines) and take calls, meet with clients, etc. We let people rent the study rooms if they want a reserved space (out of town lawyers like them for depositions). Six hours for $6. A great deal, comfy chairs, wi-fi, and you can bring in your covered coffee. (In case anyone wonders, we charge a rental for people conducting business because otherwise they would all be filled and study groups wouldn’t have any place to meet.)

            1. DoDah*

              My local library system’s (Los Angeles) wifi is so glacial that it makes working there almost impossible. Plus the homeless people stake-out all the tables. They have study rooms that sit empty–but when I asked I was told they were ‘unavailable’. It’s too bad–I grew up loving the library and want to continue supporting it.

              I wish I lived in your city/town.

    3. Pwyll*

      I would imagine working from home would also decrease your commuting expenses, and perhaps even lunch expenses if you eat out during the week at lunch. Other than the tax issues listed below, I think this one squarely falls on the employee.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      They may be running it, anyway. Where I live, you might turn your a/c setting up a few degrees when you’re not home, but you don’t turn it off. (Mine is set to 80 all the time, which is fine in combination with ceiling fans.) The house wouldn’t cool off in time for you to go to sleep, and I have pets who need to not be in a miserably hot house all day. If it’s as hot as the LW says it is, employees may be running a/c, anyway, and might as well use it while they work.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Yeah, people don’t realize the heat gain after turning it off all day actually then uses more energy to cool the house off than if you leave it run but turn the setting up a few degrees.

  3. Not Today*

    I feel you #1 – Our AC has been broken for a couple months and I unfortunately work with machines that put out quite a bit of heat as well. Though I feel even worse for our Warehouse workers. No temperature control whatsoever, with dozens of loading docks constantly wafting the weather in. We have terribly unpleasant summers (+90F & high humidity) and winters that hover in the 20s and regularly dip into the single digits. I’ve always wondered why OSHA allowed this, especially for those doing physical labor. Good luck to you guys.

    1. Jeanne*

      I’ve worked in a factory with no AC and it’s rough. But it’s impossible to climate control many factories properly. I would be really frustrated with an office. So many of them have windows that don’t open and no ventilation without AC. Definitely band together and tell them it’s not working.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        I’ve worked in a factory without AC, but our hours were such that we got to work before the sun was up and left at the hottest part of the day. Also, we had fans, a very high ceiling, and doors that were left open. And the building was surrounded by old-growth trees. (The building was about 100 years old, so designed well before AC was an issue.) In addition, we could wear shorts and tank tops/t-shirts to work and show up with wet hair. Not the average conditions for an office.

        Every time the AC hasn’t been working properly in my office, I start to feel sick and ready to faint within a few hours. Enclosed, totally climate-controlled buildings are the worst in bad weather when something goes wrong.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Tell me about it. We had a glitch in the temperature control in our break room last year, and the heat was up to full blast in there for several hours. It was like walking into an oven. No windows to open–we just had to duck in, grab our food, and duck back out until Facilities could get it fixed.

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          And in offices, the servers need to stay cool or they’ll go down. Not sure how Op’s company is handling that unless the severs are housed in a separate building.

    2. Bob Barker*

      It’s not federal law, but some states do write OSHA recommendations into law. Massachusetts, for example, has “Thou shalt heat the office Oct. 15-April 15 to XYZ degrees” as well as “WTF are you doing thou shalt cool the office at such time that it is necessary.”

      (I think that’s the point of OSHA recs, really: provide standardized codes that states can easily implement. If they have any sense.)

      1. Kyrielle*

        Oh, I did not know this. OP, you may want to Google and see if your state has laws – though I’m not sure what the best search terms (other than, of course, your state) would be.

        1. EA*

          The red zone shalt be for immediate loading and unloading only. Thou shalt not stop in a white zone, else thou shalt be declared an idiot.

      2. Pwyll*

        I’m fairly certain the Massachusetts rule only applies to heating from October 15 to May 15. Massachusetts recomends OSHA guidelines to adequately cool the workplace in the summer, but they’re only guidelines unless the heat in the workplace becomes unhealthy or unsafe to workers. Then it’s a Board of Health or OSHA complaint.

      3. OP #1*

        I actually am in Massachusetts; do you know where I can find links to those? I did try to find regulations online, but couldn’t find anything beyond the regulation for cold temperatures.

    3. WhichSister*

      I worked at a manufacturing plant. I was in the front office, (which had a.c) but our plant floor did not. We had big fans, personal fans, cooling stations. But in some spots of the plant is was well over 110 degrees. Every day after lunch (peak heat) I would load up a wagon with iced waters and electrolyte Popsicles and pull it around the plant, giving it to people. That hour of pulling that wagon was BRUTAL for me but not nearly as brutal as them working a 8-10 shift in it. I am trying to remember that this week since the zone my current office (new employer) is in has a broken ac unit and its about 85 degrees in my office.

    4. Mel*

      I’m sure OSHA doesnt regulate inside temperatures because it’s a convenience that millions of people who work with heat or outside don’t get and do just fine. Just think of what foundry workers, welders, and construction workers in areas with 100+Temps go through.

        1. Katie*

          When I worked outside as a groundskeeper (union, Canada) there were OSHA rules as to work intensity as the heat rose. The provincial regulations here recommend you rest 45 minutes per hour at 28-30 degrees C, for example. Employers are responsible for putting measures in place to protect workers from the heat. Whether it’s enforced or not is another thing, but as someone who has worked outside at several jobs including a corporate farm, there are indeed guidelines for work intensity as the heat rises.

          Unfortunately now my work is mostly indoors at a desk, and “light” intensity work doesn’t merit a rest break until you’re over 30 degrees C here, depending on what index you use.

      1. Natalie*

        That’s not true, nor does it especially make sense. There’s nothing preventing them from setting guidelines for Workplace Type A just because those guidelines wouldn’t apply to Workplace Type B. They can just write different guidelines for B. (And they do have guidelines for heat exposure for outdoor workers, FWIW.)

      2. Mags*

        Yeah, that’s a bit nonsensical. If it can’t apply to all workplaces, don’t apply it to any? If that were the case there would be no OSHA guidelines. Furthermore, OSHA does indeed have guidelines for outdoor workers.

    5. neverjaunty*

      Sometimes OSHA doesn’t but nobody has made a report, so they don’t know it’s happening. Also, as Bob Barker noted in his comment, state OSHAs may have more stringent requirements.

    6. JAM*

      I did a warehouse with no AC in August when it broke. It was rough but we got fans and they had constant water. Then the roof had a small collapse and rain poured in. It was like a sauna in there and our equipment was ruined which was especially nice because it was the kind of sensitive government equipment that is used every 4 years (among other chosen intervals) and we had to attempt to salvage it all while all the screens had condensation. The day after the big event I was at a desk job.

  4. Library Director*

    OP#1 Your expectations to work in an office that isn’t a sauna are reasonable. The reluctance to provide fans wasn’t good management. Think of a temperature that work can work in. This will be different than your comfort temperature. Talk to your co-workers and agree on a temperature. Not everyone will agree. I keep my home at 77F with ceiling fans on. That would be uncomfortable to most at work. Once you settle on it, propose that you work in the office until the temperature hits that number. Then you will work from home.

    Our old library building had the original 1970 HVAC. Our last summer it would frequently go out. I set 83F as our high temp. Once the inside temperature hit this point we closed. We were mostly open in the mornings that year. We also ran several fans.

    Having a temp makes it a known factor rather than just a perceived comfort issue.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Tying it to a number sounds like a great way to manage it!

      Another accommodation the OP’s workplace could make would be to relax the dress code for when it’s under the “go home” temperature but still hot – that is, if the dress code is currently restrictive. So for example if normally men are supposed to wear long sleeve oxford shirts, temporarily allow short-sleeved seersucker shirt, polo shirts, etc. Even if they are meeting with clients, I have to imagine it’s more professional-looking to be in a polo shirt then to be red-faced and sweaty in a suit!

      1. Anna the Accounting Grad*

        Exactly. The high-temp workday cutoff and adjusted dress code are both very good ideas. (Heck, that first one has an added passive-aggressive bonus: when the cheap bastards in charge want to know why nobody was getting their work done, they’d be told that the temperatures were too high and the office had to close.)

        My house has central air and the catmometer has been registering “fully sprawled” for the past week or so.

        1. Unegen*

          Random cat cooling advice:
          The last time my state had a bad heat wave, my apartment’s AC couldn’t keep up and it was over 90 degrees inside (outside was 15 degrees hotter, thickly humid). My cats kept trying to go into the bathroom to lay in the tub, which I guess they thought was mildly cooler…but there was no air circulation in there (old building) so I was afraid they would get overheated. They were already panting.

          I managed to keep them safely sprawled on the kitchen tile, where there was air movement, by putting a bunch of lunch box freezer packs down on the floor. It cooled the tile, and the cats.

          1. DoDah*

            I’ve done the frozen water bottle thing. My cat stations himself directly in front of the fan, and it’s 73 degrees in the house–so he’s OK.

          2. Chinook*

            Are you sure they were heading for the tub? During one heat wave in Ottawa, my cat would wrap himself around the ceramic toilet. Once I discovered him (after the frantic search because the place was tiny and he was no were to be found), I touched the porcelain and wished I was small enough to join him.

    2. Newby*

      Have the people responsible for getting the AC fixed been in the building? It is possible that they don’t understand how bad it is. The heat near my desk stopped working properly last winter but the rest of the office was fine. When I said the heat was broken it was put on the bottom of the to do list but when I measured the temperature (4 C) and then brought my boss to my desk it got moved to the top of the list. She had not realized that is was quite literally almost freezing.

      1. OP #1*

        Sort of. The person who would normally be responsible left in May and hasn’t been replaced. Now I guess it’s up to the ED, who isn’t here all the time, he kind of makes his own hours. The other senior managers have been here.

        The other problem is that where most of the senior managers’ and the ED’s offices are stays cooler than the rest of the office. They don’t seem to get much direct sunlight whereas the other side of the building, where I am, gets direct sun all afternoon.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          And this is when it’s particularly helpful to provide actual temperature readings. If you just say “it’s too hot,” they’ll assume your office is no hotter than theirs. If you say “the temperature in my office is currently 90 degrees, and I find it difficult or impossible to work under these conditions,” you might get some traction.

          Also, is there a reason you can’t bring your own fans?

          1. OP #1*

            Yes, that’s true; I’m going to look into getting a thermometer. Especially since in the last few days it seems that the a/c is somehow working in the morning but off again by the afternoon.

            We can bring in our own fans, but I would have had to go buy one which I feel like shouldn’t be my expense and I don’t really feel they help that much anyway. It’s just pushing around hot, humid air.

    3. S.I. Newhouse*

      I think it’s amazing that you were able to close your library at a certain temperature. In our system, we have complex guidelines tied to both temperature and humidity. It’s technically possible for the inside of the building to reach 105 degrees F and still remain open because it hasn’t hit the “threshold” for a closure. Our AC went out a few years ago, and we remained open providing public service all day when it literally was 96 degrees in the building. Hell on earth!

      1. Library Director*

        I cannot imagine. I’m always cold, but that’s crazy. I bought a brand new (not expensive) thermometer and set it’s location. I had one staff person who kept putting it in the sun. There are sometimes advantages to being independent of the city and county systems. I don’t have to get permission to close for weather issues. I use good judgement and inform my board chair. When there are other emergencies we can be more responsive. If the power is out in the area due to tornadoes, but we have power, we’ve adjusted our hours to be available.

  5. stevenz*

    #1. I don’t know where you are, if it’s a place that is supposed to be hot in the summer (most places are these days!), so I don’t know what’s “normal” there. But in this day and age, air conditioning is not a luxury but a necessity. Not only does it cool and dry the air, it filters out particulates, dust, and other nastier things. It is not optional, and not having it may violate local building or health codes. It’s simply unreasonable for them to shrug their shoulders and treat this like the office microwave is broken. And it has nothing to do with what any individual’s temperature preference is.

    1. Anxa*

      Where do you live? I’m from the northeast of US, and the AC is considered neither a necessity nor a luxury in my social circles, but a nice thing to have that most middle class people splurge on. Some branches of my family have it and others don’t. My school growing up didn’t have A/C (but school was out for summer, so this was only an issue two months of the year), and I’ve certainly worked in jobs without climate control.

      I’m in the SE now, and it’s definitely more common here.

      In the states I’ve live in, heating was legally necessary but A/C was not to rent. In a disaster, the government looks to rehome people with heat, but A/C is not as high a priority.

      People work in the heat all of the time. I think cooler offices for indoor jobs increase productivity (until it gets too cold) and makes business sense (also helps retain talent, I’m sure), but so many people work in the heat and without A/C, I just don’t see how it could be considered a necessity.

      1. Jeanne*

        I grew up without AC for years and our schools didn’t have it. But most schools have a wall of windows to open if there’s no AC, your home has at least one window per room and you can use fans or install ceiling fans. But look around a typical cube farm. My last one had one wall with 5 offices. Those each had one small sealed window and the office had a doir to close. Another wall had two slim sealed windows. And the other walls were interior to the building. You can’t work in an environment like that without AC. It gets oppressive quickly.

        1. JOTeepe*

          Same here. I live in the northeast, and as far as I know most schools around here still don’t have A/C (though I imagine the Princpal’s suite has window units, especially since a lot of them do work in the summer). I also don’t have A/C in my apartment (mostly by choice – the layout of our apartment isn’t really conducive to a window unit working efficiently). Most years this has been fine as typically there are only about 3 weeks or so that are truly unbearable, with the rest of the summer being hot but mostly comfortable at night. This summer has been horrible, though, and being able to go to work every day in the A/C has been a godsend.

        2. Kyrielle*

          Yeah, I’m in a four-story building now and none of the windows open. I’m not on the top floor so I suppose I wouldn’t get the absolute worst of it? But it would not be fun. We do have balconies accessible from each floor so we could open all interior doors and balcony doors to try to help, but given the shape of the building, I think that would mostly cause a breeze in front of the elevators and nowhere else, without some high-powered fans (think the tornado fans) to move it along.

          Luckily, we have working HVAC, and I don’t think anyone would bat an eye if we all went home if that went out for any significant length of time.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        I also grew up in an area where AC was a luxury. But it also rarely got about 30 C in the summer. I currently live in a hot, humid climate (AC is standard, heating is not), and I need AC more at work than at home. At home, I’ve got multiple fans, good cross ventilation, thick curtains, a shower, and an extremely minimal dress code.

        Modern buildings, particularly office buildings, are constructed assuming AC. A big, rectangular concrete building with no trees to provide shade. No cross breezes, minimal ability to open windows, large, unshaded windows for a nice greenhouse effect, computers adding excess heat. In a cubicle farm, there often isn’t room for fans, and they’d blow paper all over the place anyways. People no longer take a nap in the middle of the day when it’s hottest out. And in many offices, you have to wear clothing that is certainly not designed for hot weather.

        So at home, I can happily go without AC during the day when it’s up to about 33 out (91 F).At work, when it gets to 28 C (82 F) I start to sweat onto my keyboard, and have trouble concentrating. Our AC at work, by the way, can’t be set below 26 C (79 F) by law.

        If the AC is off, I’m not going to die (for office work – if I do vigorous work outside in this weather, I will get heat stroke and collapse). But I’m not going to be working particularly well, because I’m distracted by the fact that I physically feel bad. And people with health issues, or the elderly, can be at risk of death or serious illness if they don’t have AC, like when there’s a heat wave in a place that doesn’t have standard AC.

        There are people who work outside – construction workers, maintenance people, and so on. But they take the job knowing that it involves working outdoors in the heat, and get used to it, which is not true of most office workers. And even they take a nap after lunch, when the weather’s at it’s hottest.

      3. Daisy Steiner*

        I think it definitely helps to draw a distinction between homes and offices. In the UK, air conditioning at home isn’t even a luxury. It’s just not needed except for about 4 days of the year. Whereas in an office environment, it’s much more the standard to have it (not everywhere, of course, but I’m generalising broadly here).

        Similarly, I’m from NZ and I’d never even seen an air conditioned home till I visited Australia when I was 20. AC for office environments, though, is again pretty standard.

      4. Gazebo Slayer (formerly I'm a Little Teapot)*

        Yeah, I’m from the northeast US too and A/C has been almost universal in my workplaces but a lot of people don’t have it at home, including myself. This isn’t normally much of a problem for me – I run cold – but this past Sunday I ended up with heat exhaustion. OP1, be sure you drink a lot of fluids! Keep a cold drink on your desk and remember to have some every few minutes.

        1. hugseverycat*

          In the Pacific NW, A/C is not very common in homes. I never had it. But every office building and retail location I’ve ever been in has A/C. It is definitely a necessity for working in an office. Not a single one of our windows opened. If we had to deal with 90+ temps indoors, nobody would do anything except lie around listlessly with bowls of icewater and complain.

      5. Clewgarnet*

        I’m in the UK and a/c is unheard of in homes. In offices, it’s a different matter.

        The a/c in my office has been broken for three weeks now. We’ve just been told it’ll be a few months before it’s fixed. (They’ve brought in portable a/c units, relaxed the dress code, and are being even more flexible with home working than they usually are.)

        However, the issue isn’t so much the heat as it is the ventilation.

        I’ve worked in old buildings without a/c and there hasn’t been an issue, because we’ve been able to open windows and doors, and use fans to get air flowing through.

        This building is less than ten years old and was designed, as are most modern offices here, with windows that don’t open. There’s no fresh air. Imagine a closed environment with approximately 500 hot, sweating people. It’s like working in a gym locker room. You get hit in the face by a wall of hot, smelly, humidity as soon as you walk into the office.

        Yes, a/c is a necessity when the building has been designed for it to be a necessity.

          1. Marillenbaum*

            Yeah, when I was living in Austria no one had AC in their homes, but you could find it in shops as a begrudging concession to the tourists. I basically just opened all my windows, gave up wearing a bra, and drank a lot of shandies. Harder to get away with when you aren’t a student, but it was a damned good system in my book.

      6. Allie*

        How a building was built can make a huge difference. I never had air conditioning in my dorms in college in the Midwest. In the newer building, this would be a huge problem as it just wasn’t built to minimize heat. But my dorm built in 1890 was and it was fine on hot days. Typically, buildings designed for AC are the worst for heat when the AC isn’t on because they often don’t have a another way to circulate air. Since LW’s office was built to have it, my guess is that it is particularly unbearable.

      7. Kelly L.*

        It probably does depend on where you live (the northeast being a cooler climate, for example), and it’s also hotter in general than when we were growing up.

        (And our school was a miserable oven at the beginning and end of each year. They tweaked the dress codes–shorts–and also the hours of operation during the hottest times of the year, so we started earlier in the morning and ended earlier in the afternoon.)

      8. Purest Green*

        Maybe this is only in the Southern U.S. but when we have heat warnings with dangerously high heat indexes, which is most of the summer, cooling centers start opening. When you have weeks with little to no rain, 100+ F temps with lows in the 90s and 80% humidity, hyperthermia is just as dangerous as its opposite. AC isn’t just a luxury here, sadly.

        1. the_scientist*

          I live in Toronto, and we’ve been under a heat warning for I think three of the last five days, so this definitely isn’t just a Southern U.S thing. For context, it’s been about 40C here, which Google tells me is 104F: all I know is that it’s unbearable. An op-ed about the growing necessity of air conditioning in assisted living facilities was just published in one of our major newspapers, actually, because as others have pointed out, the very young, the elderly and the chronically ill are at elevated risk for heat-related injury/illness. Many government-run assisted-living facilities were constructed in an era when a/c was viewed as a luxury and therefore don’t have it.

          I used to work in an old building with poor ventilation and windows that didn’t open, and it would be freezing in the winter and stifling in the summer. I’m in agreement with everyone else that a/c is basically an office necessity due to building construction.

          1. I'm Not Phyllis*

            I’m in Toronto as well and I’m with you – the heat/humidity has been unbearable this summer. Unusually so. I don’t know what I would do if we didn’t have air conditioning at work. My brother works in a factory with no air conditioning and I … just couldn’t.

            OP I don’t think you’re being at all unreasonable. Management needs to get this solved, or they need to come up with a different plan.

            1. JMegan*

              Hello, fellow Torontonians! So excited for the rain today, because it has indeed been a ridiculously hot summer.

              Toronto Public Health is starting to recognize that extreme heat can be just as dangerous as extreme cold, and they’re doing things like issuing heat alerts earlier and opening more cooling centres. It really is important. OP, I hope you can get things sorted with your office soon!

          2. Purest Green*

            I wasn’t sure if cooling centers were a thing elsewhere. It’s really sad A/C isn’t standard in assisted living facilities and places like it. :(

        2. Gaia*

          I grew up (and now live in) an area where for about 6 weeks every summer we cross over 100+ degrees. We get no rain from June – mid September and the rest of the summer we hover in the mid 90s.

          A/C is still a luxury for many. We can argue it shouldn’t be, but many cannot afford it in their homes and many small businesses couldn’t afford the cost to upgrade or run their systems.

      9. ThatGirl*

        I went to school in Indiana, and my middle & high schools and college dorm did not have AC – but the school year ended in May or June, before the hottest part of the year. In July or August it would have been unbearable. I’m in the Chicago area now and summers can be miserably humid.

      10. Not Karen*

        I grew up in the NE US and didn’t have AC at home or at most schools and it would get up to 100 F for days at a time. Absolutely miserable.

        1. Bob Barker*

          Yeah, I read an oral history a couple months ago about the big Chicago heat wave of 1995, and I think that was a turning point for a lot of cities in the north who hadn’t thought they needed stuff like that. That’s a southern problem, right? …Right?

          Here’s the article: http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/July-2015/1995-Chicago-heat-wave/

          My city has cooling stations when heat advisories are in effect, but I also noticed that our goalposts for hot weather have shifted in my lifetime: when I was a kid, 3 days in a row of 90F weather was a heat wave. This summer, you had to get up to 5 for it to count.

          1. the_scientist*

            This is a fantastic read, thanks for posting!

            Toronto Public Health has gone in the opposite direction- a heat warning is issued if extreme heat is expected to last more than 2 days, cooling centres are opened immediately, and public pools extend their free hours. “Extended Heat Events” lasting 3 days or more trigger further on-the-ground action, like visiting roominghouses and other dwellings where residents are likely to be vulnerable and not have access to a/c.

            Of course, cooling centres are only open during the day, and there are a limited number in the city, so while they are a stopgap measure, and better than nothing, they don’t entirely solve the problem.

          2. JAM*

            Yes, that same heat wave in my area meant that all my district’s schools got AC. Now that I live in the city it’s just window units in the public schools but at least they have something.

        2. Bob Barker*

          Crap, the internet ate my comment. I am same as you, but I think a turning point came in the late 90s for northern cities, after the Chicago Heat Wave of 1995 in which like 100 people died. Cooling centers used to be something southern cities had; now my city has them. It used to be okay for old office buildings to get by on fans; that’s really not gonna fly any more.

          Can I do links here? Chicago Magazine did a great oral history of the Chicago Heat Wave in their July 2015 issue, which is free online. (Probably trying to link is what got my comment eaten, huh?)

      11. Ann O'Nemity*

        It really depends on the location, doesn’t it. I’ve lived in northern and coastal cities where air conditioning was uncommon even in businesses. And there were only a dozen days a year where you really wanted it. But homes and businesses in those areas were also built and furnished differently – cross ventilation strategies, large windows, higher ceilings, transoms over doors, thicker walls, fans, etc.

        I’ve also lived in midwestern and southern cities where I’d consider air conditioning a necessity. In Chicago in particular, people have died when the temps hit three digits.

      12. Elizabeth West*

        I used to live in a house with little to no AC and it does make a difference in humidity levels. When we didn’t have AC on, the books in the bedroom started to mold. You don’t want to have to deal with mold remediation if the building is older and/or there are a lot of files and papers sitting around.

        I don’t remember how we dealt with no AC at school–I seem to recall open doors and windows and fans. And of course we had summery-type clothing. I think the enclosed offices had it.

      13. Pwyll*

        Yup. I grew up in Pennsylvania and my schools never had air conditioning (just those weird strip fan things that blew hot air) and the only ac in the house was in my dad’s bedroom until well into my teens.

      14. Dust Bunny*

        Good point. We had chronic problems with our old, overburdened air-conditioners until we finally dragged the upper-level staff in on a day when the units were, once again, not working properly, and convinced them that we needed new units.

        We’re spending a lot less now both on repairs and electricity because the new units are more efficient and are big enough to cool the office space.

      15. Dust Bunny*

        Houston, Texas, where you can literally die in your house without air conditioning. Rain doesn’t cool things off–it just raises the (already considerable) humidity. Circulating air doesn’t help, either, because the air you’re circulating is hot and waterlogged, and there is no evaporation to cool you off. Air-conditioning definitely a necessity, even if you had a house with cross breezes and a lot of windows.

        I don’t see how “well, people work without it” doesn’t mean it’s not a necessity. If you’re passing out Gatorade and ice pops to your workers, you’re just substituting one form of not-killing them for another: If you had a/c, you wouldn’t worry about keeping them hydrated and cool. It’s still an admission that they can’t work under those conditions without some kind of intervention, even if you’re not using a/c specifically.

        1. Purest Green*

          It’s still an admission that they can’t work under those conditions without some kind of intervention, even if you’re not using a/c specifically.

          Yes, exactly! Even people who regularly work in the heat have regulations about how long they can go before getting breaks in a cool(er) place and having liquids available.

          1. nonegiven*

            A lot of them are starting work as soon as it’s light enough to see, so they can go home earlier in the day. They are supplied big insulated jugs of ice water and take frequent breaks.

    2. Purple Dragon*

      Isn’t this an issue for your computer equipment ? I can’t imagine that your computers are going to function well long term if they’re working all day in high heat. I know they’re better than they used to be at cooling themselves but still….

      1. OhBehave*

        I wondered that same thing. Here in Illinois, the humidity can be horrible. It messes with the paper in printers and copiers as well.

        OP 1, Looking forward to the update.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Ah! Vindicated! I always used to say the printer jammed more when it was humid or raining. People thought I was doing witchcraft or something.

          1. Bowserkitty*

            This would happen at my old job! It made a lot of sense. Didn’t take the edge off the frustration, however.

          2. Amadeo*

            Nope, not witchcraft. I worked as a designer for a little locally owned printshop for a couple of years and our Xerox ‘digital presses’ jammed like fiends through the summer and the room they were in would become unbearable if we were running big jobs on both of them. Even with a fan and what little A/C made it into the room. It was fun, tell you. We never would have gotten anything done if we didn’t have at least some A/C in that room because the printers would never have run a single sheet of paper through properly.

      2. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

        I’m in the southern UK, where days over 30C are rare even in the height of summer. Last month our entire company’s computer network was down for several days (including critical services like billing and sales, email, and production systems) because the weather had been in the high 20s to low 30s celcius (around 80 – 90F) for a few days and the cooling systems in the server room failed. Huge loss of productivity, massive inconvenience for staff in the office and out in the field, and an enormous job to put right.

      3. M-C*

        Absolutely! Electronics are very sensitive to excessive heat, and may never work again correctly if allowed to overheat. A company I worked for opened a backup data center in Utah some years ago, the landlord wanted to save money and figured almost nobody was there on the weekend so turned the a/c way down, 50 $$$$ Unix servers eventually had to be replaced because their default auto-shutdown temperatures allowed permanent damage to occur. Imagine the lawsuit..

        Anyway, while clearly the cheap attitude of your company doesn’t extend to making the workers comfortable, the electronics damage angle might get you further in negotiating for reasonable temperatures/working from home? Good luck OP!

      4. OP #1*

        That’s true, I didn’t think of that. They’ve had a portable unit (or something) for the server room since the beginning, but the computers at our desks and in the two computer labs are all fairly new. However, they’re generally not very forward thinking, so I’m not sure if they’ve considered that.

    3. Vera*

      Correct. Mechanical air conditioning may not be a requirement, but ventilation and filtration usually is state or city building code for commercial buildings.

      1. Lora*

        +1. You’re required to have 20 cubic feet/minute per occupant of fresh air exchange in Massachusetts.

        Also, OP1, they are bringing in clients to this place??!?? They aren’t going to HAVE any clients if they don’t address this! I’d never come back for a second day of training somewhere with no HVAC, and I’ve worked in some horrible outdoor conditions. Why does it take a full month for someone to go to Home Depot/Lowe’s and buy some single room AC and fans? That’s an afternoon at most, and that includes going to Accounts Payable to get the money.

        You know what might work, if whomever is in charge of client meetings and trainings or whatever calls clients and says, “hey, just to let you know – wear something light and bring Gatorade because our AC is broken.” Clients calling management to cancel will have a lot more impact than employees complaining.

        1. Mononymous*

          If the office has no windows that can open, they may also not be able to use a portable AC unit–those rely on being able to vent the hot air exhaust out a window via a large hose. Without the venting, it’s just recirculating the hot air and will be basically useless. Not sure what setup OP’s office has, though.

          And I agree about the clients–I would certainly not spend time with a vendor in a miserably hot office, and I wouldn’t be shy about telling them why I wasn’t staying/returning!

        2. OP #1*

          I wonder how that could be measured? I am in MA, so if that’s not happening, that could also add weight. Our windows do open a little. They don’t push up, but out (so they’re at an angle to the building) about 6 inches. There’s very little chance for a cross breeze.

          As for clients, it’s a little different than if we were selling something. We do adult basic education and workforce development, so our clients are coming to us for mostly free classes and/or some type of social service (i.e. advice on immigration, financial aid, housing benefits, etc.) which they typically don’t pay for. So unfortunately, they probably wouldn’t have the clout to affect management. That said, it has been pointed out to management that we frequently have elderly clients waiting, which could be dangerous for them. That got fans in the waiting room.

          1. Vera*

            Depending on the building type, natural ventilation (i.e. opening a window) is not a compliance path for the code, since the “fresh air” which may have particulates, pollen, allergens, etc. is not being filtered.

            Assuming your building is a commercial building (not a house) and your HVAC systems is completely shut down, I think it’s safe to say your ventilation system is not operating.

            I’m not an expert in MA building codes, but it looks like they are following the 2009 version of the International Building Code. For ventilation, the requirements are in Chapter 4 of the 2009 International Mechanical Code. It’s pretty straightforward: “401.2 Ventilation Required. Every occupied space shall be ventilated… ” http://codes.iccsafe.org/app/book/content/PDF/2009%20International%20Codes/IMC/Chapter%204-Ventilation.pdf

          2. Lora*

            Whenever I’ve had it measured it was because of new construction and the fire marshal, HVAC validation contractor and building inspector measured it prior to issuing the occupancy permit, so not sure who would do it in already-occupied buildings.

            The hard part is that they own the building, but they are not big enough to have their own on-site maintenance staff. I mean, if the HVAC goes down in my building (also in MA), I just call up Facility Manager Frank and it’s fixed within a week at the latest. And even at startups, there was always a facility manager of some sort to call. But I work in pharma, and we have all sorts of chemicals and whatnot lying around, we have to have a facility manager. I wish I knew, sorry!

  6. I'm not a lawyer, but ...*

    OP #4, this happened to a coworker a few years ago. We changed their out of office voicemail to request email contact as an additional measure to what you have done so far. It was almost 9 months until their voice returned to normal and it was awkward, but only because we felt guilty for asking questions instead of us writing notes too. If you are too important to talk to me, there’s a problem. But if you have a medical issue? No worries. Good luck!

  7. Artemesia*

    #4. I taught weekend graduate glasses — students commuted so they bought tickets well in advance for flights and canceling a class was not an option and there was no one else who could step in. The classes were 4 hours Friday night and 8 hours on Saturday and one final class one year I had complete and total laryngitis.

    Like you I prepared material for other people to read. I would ask students to facilitate activities — I had the materials and provided written guidelines for the students to explain them. When debriefing I typed questions on the computer which were projected to the class. Etc etc. The class worked very well — It was the final weekend so there were some team presentations and usually low in lecture — but the lecture portion of Friday night was handled by a handout and then facilitated discussion — using the projected questions.

    It taught me that shutting up has its virtues. Everyone was very cooperative and the usually highly interactive class was even more so than when I could blather.

    I suspect you are more thoughtful about communication given the situation and are bending over backwards to make sure you are clear and attentive. You may well find that you are more effective than you might be otherwise. I know if I had a colleague who was working as hard as you are to make sure communication was smooth and effective I would be impressed and happy to cooperate. People who use issues like this to slack off arouse resentment; people who do their best to pull their oar and figure out how to make it work garner admiration. You sound admiral. I would not worry about it but just keep working as you are to communicate well.

    1. Rahera*

      This reply sums it up for me, OP 4. You’re clearly coping really well, and I’m sure that most people would see that and be empathetic and wishing you well.

      I am sure it’s an immensely frustrating time for you, and I hope your voice comes back soon. I was without a voice for a while last year, and it nearly drove me up the wall. You don’t realise how many times a day you laugh or make a facetious remark or in joke until you can’t for a while.

      Wishing you all the best with your voice and with coping in the meantime. Would be glad to read an update sometime if you’d like to keep us posted. :)

    2. Silence DoGood (Post 4)*

      Hi, I’m the writer from number 4. Everyone’s posts have really made me feel better (and a lot less guilty/burdensome).
      I also have a great update! After weeks of medication (I’m past 4 weeks now) and working with specialists, I have about 80% of my voice back! The Laryngologist cleared me to use whatever voice I have and it is SO GREAT. The underlying condition may be another few months to clear up but hopefully if I keep it controlled I won’t lose my voice again.
      My team continues to be great as I regain my voice.

      I deeply appreciate everyone’s words of comfort and affirmation; and Artemisia, I will absolutely take that promotion to admiral! :-)

      1. Purest Green*

        That’s great! It sounds like both you and your coworkers would be good people to work with.

      2. Elizabeth*

        Great to hear.

        Also, if it recurs (hoping it does not), you might look into software that reads out loud what you type. My understanding is that while this used to be thousands of dollars, there are ipad apps that do a pretty good job that are much less expensive.

        1. avidlurker*

          Yes, there are a few decent apps for smart phones and tablets that will speak text for you. Searching for AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) in your device’s app store will provide a good starting point. I use a couple of free apps but my favorite by far is called Let Me Talk.

      3. AnotherAnon*

        Yay! :)

        If it does flare up, consider this: I might get annoyed in that situation, BUT, I would not expect you to manage my feelings for me. I’d do my best to keep my feelings to myself and deal with them on my own time. Because, well, boundaries. :)

        …and, wow, I just realised that applies to something in my own life too. :) hooray for less guilt :)

  8. Nobody*

    #1 – I feel for you. Our A/C has been broken the last two weeks (which happens at least a couple of times every summer), and it’s been miserable. Even with portable A/C units, it’s about 85 degrees. If working from home were an option, we’d definitely be pushing for it.

    It should not take weeks or months to get fans and portable A/C units. Those are things they can buy at a home improvement store and start running them the same day. It will cost some money, but it’s a necessity — especially if you have clients coming to the office. Six months to a year seems like an awfully long time to get the system replaced, unless that’s just how long it will take to get funding for it.

    1. LCL*

      This is what I was going to post. OP#1, they are stalling. If you live in an area that AC is needed, this is one of the busy times of year for HVAC businesses. They are expecting to work long hours and have on as many techs as they can afford. It doesn’t take 6 months to a year to install a new system! It also doesn’t take 1 to 2 months to get portable HVAC units. I could have one this afternoon if I went to Costco, within the week if I wanted to order it on Amazon.

      Either your business can’t afford to get this repaired, or they don’t want to spend the money because of how they think it will appear to their donors. I can see someone alleging your non profit is squandering donations on air conditioning. People don’t understand how commercial buildings work, generally, and how much HVAC support is required to keep them habitable.

      1. OP #1*

        I actually don’t think that’s the problem (though I could definitely see them doing that). The repair guy has been here a lot, but there have been multiple issues. That’s what led them to decide they’re going to have to replace the whole thing. Apparently, the original system was a unknown, little used brand with few people qualified to fix it in the U.S. and which it’s hard to get parts for.

        I don’t know enough about HVAC systems to know if 6 months to a year is unreasonable for getting one replaced, but there might also be other factors. We’re in an older section of town which I guess affects the amount of electricity (or strength of electricity?) that we can get in our building, which limits choices for systems. I think they’re trying to figure out a way to also fix that issue at the same time, which I can imagine would take a lot longer.

        Oh, and I think part of the time is that they’re planning to have someone do a study to determine what the best option is for us, probably something necessary to justify it to the board.

        1. Vera*

          OP#1 – It depends on your building type, but there are quite a few companies (including the one I work for) that offer replacement units for commercial buildings within 24hrs. Even if you were looking for something more fancy, that requires less energy draw, you should still be able to get something out there and installed within 2 weeks. But, it sounds like HVAC redesign is required in your case… not just replacing a broken unit with a new one.

          Commercial buildings are different from residential homes. Something like an HVAC redesign is going to require a licensed Professional Engineer to design, draw, and stamp the drawings before any contractor can go in and make changes. If they are going first do a study, then hire someone to design it, and then install it….yes, 6 months is a pretty reasonable timeframe. In this case, though, the building should be considered uninhabitable if you cannot rectify building code issues like ventilation.

        2. LCL*

          A study? I understand why studies can take awhile…
          In the meantime, I would call the local electric utility and talk to them yourself. Ask for someone who handles commercial accounts in your section of town to talk you through the process of a service upgrade and find out what the limitations are. They might even have someone on staff whose job is to work with commercial customers and help them choose a solution. At least you will know what the issues are. Basically, it will cost serious money and your business doesn’t have it or doesn’t want to spend it.

          Someone is still trying to baffle you with BS, a little. What I am guessing, from the bits of information given here, is that the service to the building isn’t quite adequate for the power that was used when the HVAC was fully functional. The HVAC service people would know that, some power issues are one of the first things they check. Service to the customer’s building can be upgraded, but the customer pays for the upgrades. And this would take 6 months for a year to happen, in some places.

        3. Lora*

          For a little gov’t funded organization, I think the rules are, you have to put out an RFP and get three competing quotes and look for women and minority owned businesses to buy from. It depends on the size of the building, your building might be small enough to be exempt. Then once you’ve settled on a proposal you have to write the contract and go over the terms and conditions and that can take a couple of weeks. Then the contractor has to schedule their people and it depends on who their other customers are, where you are in the queue, the lead time for any parts. Then probably a couple of weeks for installation and testing. 3-6 months wouldn’t be unusual for a not-huge building.

  9. Nobody Here By That Name*

    OP #4, adding to AAM’s reply that you need not worry. Anyone who is bothered is a jerk, frankly.

    FWIW, have you tried checking out apps to help as well? There are a few out there for both iOS and Android which are low to no cost. Obviously they won’t give you a Stephen Hawking like replacement voice, but you may find them helpful for quick replies much like your flashcards.

    Much sympathies as you deal with this.

  10. Graciosa*

    For #3, this is a good reminder that the first amendment begins with “Congress shall make no law …”

    It does not mean that speech is free from consequences. Making the post was a choice, and this is the consequence of that choice.

    The best course of action at this point is to let it go, learn from it, and be thankful that this is (so far) only showing up in the files of one employer. If it’s still easily found in an online search of your name, I would recommend doing what you can to change that (where possible – it isn’t always possible to remove these things).

    Venting is human and understandable; it just needs to be limited to a few people you can trust, and preferably not in writing.

    If you learn from this, your career can survive even if you will never again be able to work for one employer.

    Good luck.

    1. Jeanne*

      The poster never mentioned free speech. It’s not an issue here.

      To me, it’s interesting that OP thinks they made changes to management based on her rant. I assume she still has friends there to get the scoop. I would be a little frustrated if they listened to me but don’t want me back but there’s no way to be sure why they made changes. The better time to explain your management issues might have been an exit interview. They may or may not listen but it’s not public.

      1. MK*

        I agree it feels off, but it does make sense for the company to feel that the inadvertant positive results don’t excuse the OP’s very ill-advised action. It’s not even as if the OP spoke out to promote the change; she ranted about her former employer publicly out of frustration.

        That being said, this doesn’t appear to be an instant dealbreaker for them.

        1. OhBehave*

          I find it curious that she posted the rant three months after leaving. That’s seems like a long time to stew. The toxicity of that workplace must have been eating at her.

          1. Oryx*

            I stopped going to parties of old co-workers because they would continue to rant about ExJob YEARS after they left. And, to me at least, it wasn’t as toxic as they made it out to be. Eye of the beholder and all of that.

            1. Random Lurker*

              I was at toxic job for 27 months. I found myself still complaining about it after 2 years. It took a great deal of effort and self awareness to stop. And I’m generally not a complainer.

              Sometimes, a toxic environment can really get the best of you.

      2. Bunny*

        I block coworkers on private social media and ensure settings are set so that what I post does not pop up in search engines. It takes some effort, but it’s worth it.

        1. Joseph*

          That’s a good step, but even so, you shouldn’t assume that it’s going to be private.
          First off, most people leave a gap somewhere in their security settings (e.g., are your settings right to block non-logged in people? what about friends-of-friends? are you sure your “do not post to search engines” setting is right? are you sure that none of your current friends won’t RT your rant?). Secondly, all of the social media sites operate under the principle of “we care about security only to the exact extent that media/user pressure forces us to”.
          If you want to let off some steam by ranting about your current/former company, do it offline. Or at least do it on a site that isn’t linked to your real name.

      3. LBK*

        I didn’t read Graciosa’s comment as implying that the First Amendment was being invoked here, but rather just using that as a lead-in to the idea that words have consequences and you can’t undo them. Given that the OP is approaching this from a “how do I get out of it on a technicality” angle instead of a “how do I take ownership and atone for messing up” angle, I think that’s warranted.

    2. LBK*

      One thing I wanted to note on this is the OP’s concern about whether it’s in her file or not – that’s a technicality that doesn’t necessarily have any relevance to whether they’re “allowed” to factor her actions into their decision not to rehire her. The only way it might matter is if everyone who knew about the incident left and new management’s only way of finding out about it is if it were in the file. There’s an undue level of formality being implied in this process where it doesn’t exist; they’re allowed to refuse to rehire you for any reason they want as long as it’s not on the basis of a legally protected class (race, gender, etc.). They don’t need a document proving why.

      And, moreover, I think it’s probably totally justified of them to do so. As Alison says, I certainly wouldn’t want to hire someone back who was badmouthing us unless they could somehow truly, genuinely show that they had turned their thinking around…but even then, you would’ve had to be a stellar employee otherwise for me to consider it.

      1. some1*

        I agree with this. Also, even though the LW thinks this is unfair, one bright side is that at least s/he knows s/he won’t get re-hired. I have seen people quit at other places where I have worked, and then re-apply and their resume always goes in the NO pile for various reasons and they don’t know why.

    3. Artemesia*

      The idea of ‘no fair’ doesn’t apply in this sort of situation. Of course if you attack your employer publicly they will never want to hire you again. Of course. But your biggest risk is that this is an impression that is out there and may affect employment elsewhere. If you can delete this — if you posted it on facebook I think you can delight your own posts — and get it off the internet, do it asap. And hope it didn’t get picked up and shared elsewhere where you have less ability to control it.

      You can also take steps to sanitize your google search by posting and clicking on things you would rather see come up when your name is searched.

  11. Jeanne*

    #2, That sounds really awkward to listen to or participate in. I think Alison is right though. Somehow the boss is rewarding that behavior. What does your boss say to these petty complaints? But you have your own limits. You don’t have to participate if you don’t want to. If someone accuses you of whatever, only respond if you decide it’s worth it. Otherwise, say “we already solved the problem” or “Sally and I will work it out after the meeting.” Take the high road.

    1. Jordan*

      I’ve never really thought of her as rewarding the behavior before, but I guess the fact that she actively engages is a form of reward. She definitely gives attention to the problems instead of shutting them down. That’s usually what I do, just say the shortest answer to let them know its been handled.

    2. I'm Not Phyllis*

      Even if the boss isn’t rewarding the behaviour, by not shutting it down they’re saying that it’s ok. It would be so awkward to listen to. Good luck with your next step though!

      1. Jordan*

        You are right. I like her though, so I think I’ve tried to pretend like that isn’t true. Anyway, now I’ m on to something new. Thanks!

    3. Happy Lurker*

      I think the reward is in itself just the meeting.
      Your ingrown toenail was stepped on 3 days ago by Fergus and he didn’t apologize enough. You complained and he apologized again, but you feel the need to discuss it in front of everyone at the Weekly Meeting. Sounds like a bunch of whiny people have all found their niche.
      I remember offices and meetings like this and am so glad I am not a part of it anymore. I used to sit in these ridiculously long meetings thinking about how I could be working, so I could go home at a decent hour. ugh!
      Good for you LW#2 for getting out and good luck.

      1. LQ*

        This is such a weird thing. I can’t possibly think of a situation in which I’d feel comfortable complaining about my coworkers in a team meeting, especially for something that was resolved.

        I’ve tried typing examples to see if they make sense and everything I write is a request to do something different in the future or a reminder of how something should be handled. How does this conversation even go?

        I like team meetings but for us they are usually hearing about projects other people are working on that we wouldn’t talk about normally since we don’t all work directly together but our work impacts each other, and then some big picture stuff, or learning some best practices. If they were …complaining about coworkers who were in the room? I still feel confused.

        1. Jordan*

          haha! I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks it is bizarre. Sometimes when you live with it for so long though, you just need someone to tell you that it really is weird and it’s not just you.

          1. LQ*

            It is NOT just you. This is so weird.

            I have a thing I say to a friend who has a lot of weird stuff. Water little fishy water! (Based on the thing about water being the last thing a fish discovers.) So much water here!

    4. Engineer Girl*

      I’d act concerned and state “I thought we already solved that problem. Did I miss something?”
      When she replies no, state: “We probably shouldn’t waste other people’s time with problems that have already been fixed. It’s inconsiderate. Let’s talk after the meeting.”

      If she says yes there still an issue state: “OK, I wish you let me know before this. Let’s resolve it after the meeting so we don’t waste other people’s time”. If she persists reiterate “this isn’t the venue for problem solving. It’s inconsiderate of others time.”

      If she raises first time issues in the meeting state: “May I ask why you are raising the issue here when you haven’t first spoken to me about it in private?”
      She’ll give some lame excuse
      Reply: “This is really an issue to be resolved by you and me only. I’m not willing to be inconsiderate by resolving it here publicly. Let’s work it together after the meeting.”

      If she persists in anything state: “we will resolve it after the meeting” If all else fails state “these meeting are for information, not problem solving. Let’s meet up afterward to work a solution.”

      I’m all cases you are publicly calling her behavior inconsiderate (because it is). You are tabling discussion until after the meeting. You are highlighting that she hasn’t communicated with you. Most importantly you are taking charge and shutting her down.

    1. AMT*

      Yeah, I would only think it was weird if someone seemed to be deliberately excluded — say, if someone publicly gives gifts to nine out of ten people in a department.

      1. M-C*

        OP specified 3 out of 4 people get gifts. How is the 4th not feeling left out? Plus on this scale it’s being stupidly cheap, it’s not like they’re getting out of buying 25 extra gifts, a box of chocolates establish equalityt. No, it sounds totally like a clique problem to me.

      2. dawbs*

        At my old job, there were 40 or so mailboxes in the office–35 of them were for people within certain job classes, the remaining 5 went to support staff (there were 2 admins, 3 who had my role)

        I came in at Christmas time to find a (small token) candy gift in 35 mailboxes–everyone except the 3 in my role. I will say, it colored my view of the gift giver. (probably because he was obviously an asshole)

  12. Elder Dog*

    OP #1.
    If saving money is an important concern, remind management using computers and other office equipment at higher temperatures can shorten the life of the equipment considerably. Letting you all work from home will save a lot of wear on office equipment.

    1. J.B.*

      All of it is so penny wise and pound foolish. We had regular temperature variations in our old building with some offices regularly over 80 degrees F. Periodically, the chiller would die and the office would approach 90 degrees, once when wildfires were burning a couple of hours away and the smoke was reaching us during the summer smog season. It was awful. They emailed something out saying you could either stay or take leave. Umm…couldn’t we have done that anyway? No possibility of suggesting to human beings that maybe its ok to work from home???

    2. Mike C.*

      At the food safety lab I used to work in, the A/C would go off regularly in the summer. This meant that all of the -80C freezers, normal freezers, fridges and incubators would start working harder to cool things down, making the rooms warmer still. It was an absolute mess and the owner treated the issue the same way as the OP’s boss.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I worked at a crappy little independently owned burger place one summer. The a/c went out, and the walk-in fridge couldn’t keep up with the increased demand – it regularly ran 5 to 10 degrees higher than regulations allow. The owner didn’t care, and an anonymous call to the health department had no results. So we just thawed smaller amounts of meat so the patties didn’t stay in the fridge very long, and warned our friends and family not to eat there. Gee, I wonder why it went out of business. :-/

        (I was always amused by the customers who walked in and angrily said “The a/c still isn’t fixed? I’m going somewhere else then!” and looked at us like we were supposed to talk them out of it or offer them a discount or something. Which never happened. Oh, I don’t have to stand over the grill and cook you a burger? I’m crushed. Please come back. Not.)

        (Apparently I was very bitter as a teenager.)

        1. Isabel C.*

          Hee! Yeah, I got a lot of the “I’m going somewhere else!”* when I was working retail during summers as a teenager, and I was always like…I’m supposed to care? Buddy, I get paid six bucks an hour and I’m out of here come the end of August.

          * Often because our toothpaste was too expensive or similar. We also got a lot of people noting that, well, Wal-Mart has it for a dollar less: so get in your car and drive the forty-five minutes to Wal-Mart.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I stopped in Dollar General last night to grab some emergency chocolate*, and a couple were loudly complaining that the school supplies section wasn’t as extensive as that at the Wal-Mart Supercenter. Well, look at the size of Dollar General and look at the size of the Supercenter; DG is probably about 1/4 the size; what do you expect?

            *Listening to Harry Potter on CD in my car, and the story kept mentioning how Harry and Hermione were in the hospital wing being plied with chocolate after a dementor encounter; it made me really, really want some chocolate.

        2. Lissa*

          Replace “burger” with “sandwich” and this was my experience too. A/C broke, it was awful, just a sauna to walk into and customers complained like we weren’t already working in the horrible conditions….

          They also went out of business, funnily enough.

    3. Lia*

      This is what finally worked to get the a/c fixed at a former workplace. Indoor temperatures were north of 90F and management refused to pay for the repairs (again, a small, cheap, non-profit). Wasn’t until a visiting consultant pointed out that the extreme indoor temperatures were going to severely damage the relatively new and expensive computer systems that there was suddenly money to fix the a/c.

  13. Jules the First*

    OP#4 – you’re doing awesome. I lost my voice a few years ago (thankfully it came back after a couple of months, although it still disappears a few days a year) and it was so hard. If your office has an IM program, that can be really useful for maintaining your social network in the office – it can be really isolating not being able to participate in the banter around the coffee maker, which definitely contributes to the feeling awkward about the rest of the accommodations you have to ask your coworkers to make.

  14. M*

    Oh man, OP 1, I’m very sympathetic. Best of luck to you!

    Back when I was a lower-tier person at my current job, they offered most of the (sizeable) team a chance to work remotely last June, which most of them took, and I and a handful of other people didn’t. So the management ended up moving us into the back room…which was tiny and half of the room was full windows AND the windows didn’t open. So when the sun started moving to shine in through the windows around noon or one o’clock…it was so bad by 3 or 4. But the other guy who was there most often didn’t ever complain, and I honestly didn’t know what to do about it, so I never said anything. I managed by wearing T-shirts and sports bras and discreetly taking off the bra when it got too hot, and nobody ever noticed or said anything, so.

    The upside to this terrible story is that now I appreciate our current, air-conditioned building so much! Even if it’s got other conditions that make my job difficult, at least I’m not melting into a puddle every day, lol.

  15. SandrineSmiles (France)*

    Re: Holiday gifts

    Well, tell you what. If the employees are such “strong friends” that they give themselves holiday gifts, why exactly do they need to give the gifts in the workplace ? They can gather at someone’s place, or at a café, or whatever. If it’s purely personal, do.not.do.it.at.work.

    I’ve said repeatedly how sad it makes me to read about how it works within the US system, but as for those gifts… come on. Call me cynical but I don’t need to show off a friendship in order to feel important. Those people are inconsiderate.

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      I am in the U.S. and I totally agree. Personal gifts should be given outside the workplace with no mention of it in the workplace.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Eh, it’s pretty common for people to exchange gifts with coworkers. Managers banning that on work premises is going to come across as overly controlling and a bit odd.

        1. Former Retail Manager*

          I didn’t mean to imply a “ban” per se. More of the fact that gift exchanges should be either kept quiet and done discreetly or done elsewhere. If these people are friends outside of work, they presumably see each other then so they could exchange gifts then. I’ve gifted co-workers but it’s always been outside of work or in the parking lot discreetly. I think it becomes more of issue when your workplace is “cliqueish” and either the giver or recipient make a big loud deal about the gift. In a workplace that is functional and professional, I haven’t known it to be an issue, but my personal preference is still to keep the personal outside of work.

          1. CM*

            I was thinking the same thing. While it wouldn’t be appropriate for a manager to try to control gift-giving, I think it would be reasonable to request that people give gifts privately and not in front of other co-workers.

          2. LA Gaucho*

            Seconded. I’ve given gifts to coworkers before but it was always discreet. I know other people in their “groups” give each other gifts and it was done quietly. As you say, it was wasn’t a big deal and no one made a big deal about it.

            As a manager, you either give gifts to all your minions or none at all :)
            (and I lean towards none because you shouldn’t expect anything. As much as “my hard work is good enough” is a gift to him, my manager being so damn awesome is his gift to me!)

    2. Colette*

      I’m not in the US and I don’t have a problem with it, assuming it’s not done in a way that makes it clear who’s not getting gifts. If, for example, three people eat lunch together every day and want to get each other gifts, why should they have to make arrangements to meet somewhere else instead of giving gifts in the office?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I agree–it’s obviously something they do among themselves and I wouldn’t feel left out if I weren’t ordinarily a part of the group. Anyway, this isn’t primary school–I don’t expect the manager to say, “You have to bring something for every kid in the class,” like we did on Valentine’s Day. We’re adults, not children.

        I’m with Alison though; if managers are giving gifts, it DOES need to be all or nothing.

    3. MK*

      I think that’s an overreaction; it’s possible to be work friends who exchange gifts but don’t socialise outside of work. I don’t think it’s obligatory to turn gift-giving into a covert operation, just be somewhat discreet (e.g. don’t walk into an all-staff meeting and hand presents to only some of the people).

    4. Temperance*

      I really don’t think it’s showing off. I bought my coworker a bottle of champagne for her birthday. She bought me a bottle of wine. It wasn’t showing off, it was a nice thing. We work with 750 people in our building, so not doing that for all. I’m also over criticism about how “sad” America makes other people.

      1. LBK*

        I’m also over criticism about how “sad” America makes other people.

        Amen. The condescension is palpable.

      2. I'm Not Phyllis*

        I agree with you … I’m not American but I don’t see another country doing something differently as them being “sad” or anything of the sort. All countries have their own customs.

    5. Cat*

      I don’t know what this has to do with the “U.S. system.” People certainly do get together outside of work with work friends in the U.S.

    6. CR*

      This isn’t preschool. Adults do not have to invite everyone to their birthday party so no one feels left out.

    7. Moonsaults*

      It’s not showing off a friendship, that’s a large conclusion to jump to. Unless they toot a horn and call everyone to gather around while Jan hands Judy her Christmas gift. Most people exchange gifts in a private enough manner at work, it doesn’t have to be a song and dance.

  16. Former Retail Manager*

    OP#1….your management is delusional. I assume you are somewhere further north than I am (Texas). These conditions would have prompted a “banding together” on day 2 here. With temps well over 100 that last for weeks at a time sometimes, no A/C is just BS. Also, if they can’t spring to fix the A/C, it leads me to wonder what salaries must be like or what they expect of their employees for the salaries they do pay. Call me crazy, but these circumstances would lead me to look for other employment. I realize that nonprofits operate differently and some run on very tight budgets, but this is just ridiculous and reads to me as a sign of other potential problems. Either way, best of luck!

  17. hbc*

    OP4: “Would it annoy you to have to read written responses (assume good handwriting) during a conversation or meeting?” Well, it would annoy me slightly in the sense that I wouldn’t choose that over the normal communication method. But since you’re not choosing this option (not “starting tomorrow, I’m taking a 6 month vow of silence, deal with it”) and are working hard to lessen the impact on people, exactly zero annoyance would be directed at you. If it became permanent, the annoyance would even decrease over time as I got used to this as Standard Operating Procedure.

    In other words, “I wish we didn’t have to do this” isn’t the same as “I wish that person hadn’t done this to us.”

  18. BRR*

    #1 I would also not accept promises of fixing it soon.
    Manager “someone is going to come look at it soon” or “w are going to get portable units soon.”
    You “thanks for fixing the issue. Until those units come in would it be possible to work from home.”

    Judging from your letter, I am skeptical about quick results.

    1. Joseph*

      Agreed. Especially if they just off-handedly said “oh yeah, we’re looking into portable A/C units”. If you’ve never owned a portable A/C unit, you might not realize this, but they are an incredible hassle.
      1. They’re pretty expensive, starting at about $300 for even a small room-size one and dramatically increasing based on the size of the unit needed.
      2. Most units require venting – aka “mounted to a window”. Not likely they’ll do this for a temporary solution.
      3. Units usually need to be directly plugged into a socket, no extension cords. Combined with #2, this can greatly limit your flexibility in location.

      1. BRR*

        All good information. And if the office actually purchases the portable units that aren’t window units, I don’t think they would make that much of a difference unless a large number was purchased. If they’re window units, it depends on the office set up but again I would think it would require a large number of units.

        1. Kyrielle*

          If they have enough windows that open to accomodate window units (or standing units near windows, that can vent out the windows), they might be able to solve it just with that and fans. That they haven’t, suggests they have standard non-opening office windows.

          Which will mean placement of portable ACs near outside doors, or where vent tubing can be run through the ceiling/walls to an appropriate place (usually outside), and runnign said tubing. Or use of portable ACs that don’t vent (do those even exist?).

          And oh yes, also, either you pay more for one that pumps the excess water outside, or you have people have to periodically emtpy the water bin, which is a real treat and would probably be needed 1-3 times a day depending on the unit, humidity, and space….

          1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            Air conditioners have to vent, or they will actually heat the room up. Like any device that uses electricity (or any other kind of fuel, even human power), they produce heat as a byproduct of the work they do. It’s just a law of physics. So while AC units cool one area, the amount of heat they produce is greater. If you can’t dump that heat outside the room then running the unit will make the room hotter!

            Similarly you can’t cool an enclosed room with a refrigerator by leaving the doors open. Cool air will come out of the doors, sure, but the coils on the back will heat up enough to outweigh that cool air.

            1. Kyrielle*

              Which is sort of what I was thinking but there were references somewhere in here that read as though non-vented might exist, so…I was a little unsure of myself.

              I do know our server room at $OldJob had a portable AC unit without a window, but that one was vented through the ceiling and out one of the exterior vents.

      2. OP #1*

        Yes, I’ve been wondering about where exactly they would put them. The room I’m in has two lines of cubicles, with a narrow aisle between. One of the lines of cubicles is up against an outside wall, but if a vent has to go out the window, it would have to be on someone’s desk to get it there.

      3. Observer*

        #2 and 3 are actually not correct. You can vent out using a hose that snakes out to a window, and you most definitely can use a UL listed extension cord.

        However, there is no reason on earth for this to take a month or so – these can be purchased in so many places that the process to purchase should not take anywhere near as long. Even if they need permission to use money that was earmarked for something else, this is the kind of thing that can go through an emergency type process. If it can’t then that means it’s not going to happen. Not officially, but practically speaking.

    2. Mike C.*

      So what do you say when the boss tells you that you’re still coming into the office like normal?

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        If I had sick leave, I’d go home every day as soon as the temperature became uncomfortable. I’d tell them the heat made me feel unwell, and I would not be lying.

        1. OP #1*

          But I don’t feel like I should have to use my sick time for this, though I have a couple of times.

  19. A. Nonymous*

    #1 I’m really curious about how the legalities of this pan out. I’m severely asthmatic, to the point where I’ve had to be on short term disability due to some complications in the past. I wouldn’t physically be able to work in an environment that wasn’t climate controlled. Anything over 85 degrees makes my breathing very difficult if not impossible. Would someone like that just have to quit without any recourse?

    1. FD*

      Not a lawyer, but you’d probably be eligible for some sort of ADA accommodation. Wouldn’t help the others in the office though.

  20. Laura (Needs To Change Her Name)*

    OP4, I was on the other side of a similar situation – a student in my discussion based class, not a colleague. She did the things you note, and also used text to speech on her laptop. I was never annoyed with her and was impressed by her creativity and effort to keep participating normally. After a short while it just became our normal – e.g., rather than relying on eye contact to judge when she was going to say something in discussion, we would notice she was nudging a notepad forward. The students who sat next to her would sometimes jump in verbally to make a space for her because it was harder for her to initiate a comment. I had no complaints and believe me anything students ever feel negatively about shows up on evals!

    1. fposte*

      Yeah, I was thinking text to speech myself and was surprised it wasn’t in the OP’s arsenal. Might depend on the tech and situation, of course.

  21. Anomanom*

    Ugh #1 I feel your pain. And I think it’s ridiculous OSHA won’t set a “it’s unacceptable to have workers working in this temp” standard. My brother is a chef, and has worked in kitchens where the AC went out and they were basically told, we will get to it when he can. Behind the line, in front of open flames, in chef whites. He kept a oven thermometer out on the prep surface so they could see just how bad it got. One busy night it broke 120F.

    1. Erin*

      I don’t think it makes sense to set a temperature in regulation in this instance. For example, some jobs are completed outside vs inside. It’s impossible to control the temperature outside, so if the employer provides adequate breaks, fluids, and cool down area for a warehouse there should be no more of an issue with the temperature. There is the general duty clause that can be cited for anything that doesn’t specifically have a regulation.

      For anyone who’s interested, Japan has been running a cool biz campaign which sets the building temperatures at 82F and relaxes the dress code to allow for looser cooler clothing. I’ll link below.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        But in a job that IS done inside, there’s no reason you couldn’t regulate it. Obviously it’s possible to run a/c in a restaurant kitchen. There’s a huge difference between a workplace that isn’t traditionally cooled, and a workplace that is traditionally cooled but the management is too cheap to keep it running.

        1. Erin*

          A warehouse can be cooled too, but it’s expensive. “Traditionally” is very hard to judge as things change – OSHA is very slow to update it’s regulations. Temperature isn’t the biggest factor either – sun exposure, air movement, humidity, etc. can affect the risk for employees to experience heat stroke. I can disagree about OSHA needing to set a standard while still agreeing with the fact that the company should be making arrangements for the employees to get relief. In a warehouse this means a cool down area, fluids, frequent breaks, shade, or cooling packs. In an office this means windows, fans, portable AC units, fluids, working from home, alternate rented office space, etc.

      2. Bowserkitty*

        I always felt horrible for the salarymen and women on the morning trains all suited up. That’s a good campaign but still seems super hot.

      3. Natalie*

        They already have different guidelines for indoor and outdoor employment. I’m not sure why these guidelines aren’t actual regulations, but the necessity of setting a few different standards isn’t one of them.

      4. Nanani*

        That’s really only for governments and government-affiliated jobs. If you don’t work for some level of government, cool biz is “recommended” but your boss can still make you wear full suits and set the AC wherever they want.

        Also, cool biz is kind of the opposite of what we’re discussing. The purpose of cool biz is to encourage *energy conservation* by setting the AC higher (28° or warmer) and compensating by letting people wear fewer layers to work.
        It’s not about keeping employees cool per-se, and in the offices I worked it cool biz time was noticably warmer than before implementation.

        The non-coolbiz standard is to require suits and uniforms and have the AC cranked considerably lower, which also contributes to “summer colds” due to people walking in and out of extreme temperatures all summer (too-strong AC + hot summer weather).

  22. Pearl*

    OP 1, if you do not have a desk thermometer I would recommend getting one. Maybe someone has one at home they can bring in for a week? When I complained that it was extremely hot in my office in the winter (it was so hot we had to run the A/C*, and I had to go outside sometimes to cool off), people thought I was exaggerating before I was able to show them an actual temperature reading. If you can say, “It’s already 88 degrees when we come in, by lunch it’s 93, and by the time we go home it’s 96,” that might help when you get together with your coworkers to complain.

    *We have steam heat and there are two settings: on and off. On assumes it’s 32 degrees outside, even if it’s 50 degrees. We were told we couldn’t just turn the heat off and on ourselves without paying the boiler guy, and to run the A/C instead.

    1. Parenthetically*

      Oh ye gods, steam heat. My college dorms had steam heat and keeping the window slightly ajar was a necessity, even in the bitter January cold of South Dakota.

    2. OP #1*

      Thanks, I’m going to look into getting one of those. As a bonus, I can use it at home this winter and maybe it will help me when debating with my roommate on the heat (but that’s a different blog)!

  23. GovWorker*

    OP #1: If I were invited to a meeting in a hot ass office, I would decline or insist it be held somewhere else. I can see they don’t care about employee comfort, but outsiders? There should be a fund for building emergencies that can be drawn upon in situations like this. I can’t tolerate much heat so a doctor’s note to work at home would be quickly forthcoming.

      1. OP #1*

        They have, but with the type of clients we have, it’s different than with paying customers. Plus, a large percentage of our clients are immigrants who are from places where they generally don’t have a/c.

        1. Observer*

          Get someone from an influential funder into the office. You would be surprised at how effective that can be. If Big Donor wants you to have AC, obstacles suddenly melt.

    1. JOTeepe*

      My thoughts exactly! I went to a job interview recently where the conference room was not even that hot (but stuffy and uncomfortable, for sure), and the interviewers immediately decided to relocate as a result. It’s been record temperatures in the Northeast this summer with about 900% humidity, no WAY would I be going to an offsite meeting with no A/C!

    2. Parenthetically*

      That struck me as well — meetings and CLASSES in a 90+ degree office?! Absolutely, definitely, entirely no. What are they thinking?

      1. OP #1*

        Yes, I don’t know how the students have dealt with it. They did get them fans for the classrooms awhile ago, but still. Last week, we made the director of our department use his contacts to get us a classroom at a nearby college to use for our exit test, since it was scheduled for the absolute hottest day and there was no way anyone would have been concentrating if we had it here. Since a large part of our funding depends on the students showing gains in the exit test, he was convinced.

  24. newlyhr*

    It’s unbelievable to me what people post on social media and then are genuinely surprised when there is some kind of backlash from a friend, family member, or workplace. Facebook is not a diary–it is a microphone. Posting something on Facebook is exactly the same as if you stood up in an auditorium and spoke those words to everyone in an audience made up of all your Facebook Friends, and their friends…………….

    LW, I am sorry that you had to learn this lesson in this fashion, but we have all had that experience (some of us the old fashioned pre-social media way–with people blabbing something we told them in confidence). Share your experience with your friends. You might help one of them avoid the same problem you experienced, in which case this situation might be used for some good.

    1. Eddie Turr*

      I think a lot of people are just mistaken about labor laws. I feel like I’m constantly hearing otherwise knowlegeable people say “That’s illegal!” about things that are absolutely legal. The other day, I over heard a co-worker saying it was illegal for any of us to discuss our salaries with other employees. Others have told me it’s illegal to tell a reference that someone was fired. Try again!

      1. LQ*

        Wow, the illegal to discuss salaries is sort of the exact opposite of what the law actually is on that one isn’t it? There is a law about salary discussions (broadly), but it is that the employer can’t prevent people from discussing working conditions. I’m trying to decide if I’m surprised about that, I think not.

        1. Student*

          It IS exactly the opposite of what the law states.

          However, many businesses get away with lies either stating or implying this to employees. They can lie to you all they want without consequences, and you can only really take action against them if they actually penalize you for talking salary and if it’s easy to demonstrate it was over salary discussions / working conditions. So, bar is very low for businesses to promote this lie and discourage you from learning your peer’s pay, because there’s no enforcement and all pressure ends up being on individual employees to call the employer’s bluff while also not getting fired for a spurious but plausible reason over it.

  25. JOTeepe*

    OP #4 – So happy to hear your update that your voice is nearly restored! However, this wasn’t addressed here, but I would imagine something like this would be covered by the ADAAA, anyway. Provided there are accommodations that could be made so you could perform the essential functions of your job (which sounds like you did on your own), then no worries. And, to add to the chorus, none of this would bother me, as your colleague, either.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Not covered under the “regarded as” but apparently covered if actual disability exists / accommodation requests are made.

  26. Wacky Teapots*

    to OP#4–Don’t sweat it! I work with someone who is permanently mute. She e-mails. We respond. We e-mail, she responds.
    IT’S OKAY!!!!! I wish you a speedy recovery.

  27. Anna No Mouse*

    OP #4 – Not precisely the same situation, but I have gotten bouts of laryngitis before where I’d have several days where I couldn’t speak. I used a combination of writing things down and even some basic ASL (for phrases such as “thank you” that many people know) to get by. Everyone was quite understanding, just as I would be in their shoes. What you have is a disability and most are NOT Fergus from yesterday’s post, but are compassionate about such things and just want to do their work and help you do yours if need be.

    1. Catalin*

      I’m also EXTREMELY prone to laryngitis. I also speak a moderate amount of ASL but none of my coworkers speak it and only a few of my close friends can sign-to-speech translate for me. At this point I think it’s just a quirk.

    2. AnotherAnon*

      ASL… how did I not think of that? :) thanks! sound is pain and so are my hands, but ASL might be less hard on my hands, or at least work different muscles. I just hope my brain can handle the learning still. poor overheated brain.

  28. Vera*

    OP#1 – where is your building located? I may be able to help your non-profit with an HVAC system and install.

  29. Fact & Fiction*

    Alison: Just pointing out a little typo so you can fix it if you’d like. “Mangers” in your last paragraph.

      1. A Bug!*

        I already visit askamanger.org on a near-daily basis thanks to typos. That last “a” is the typed equivalent of a tongue-twister for me.

  30. Tammy*

    LW #4: Last year, one of my coworkers had surgery, one of the consequences was that she wasn’t supposed to talk for 6 weeks or so afterward. She used some of the same adaptive strategies you did (and also carried around a small dry-erase board/marker, which worked better for her than a pad of paper). As far as I’m aware, it was a total non-issue with the folks she works with — if they thought anything of it at all, it was more of “wow, that’s got to be super challenging for Evangeline to not be able to talk” than “how dare Evangeline make me deal with the fact that she can’t use her voice at all right now because of a medical condition!” I wouldn’t stress about it.

  31. MV*

    OP #1 I wonder what I would do in these conditions. I had a chronic illness that leaves me heat sensitive. I work in the accounting/finance field and need to have my mind running at full speed. Unfortunately in the heat I start to lose cognitive abilities. Not an issue when relaxing with a glass of wine with friends, but a huge issue when trying to put together a budget forecast. I had to leave work and work at home when our AC was having a fit and the office was at 79 (though I work at home 2-3 days a week to begin with so I have an office set up).

    I would not be able to work at an office with no AC during this summer (temps 90-100 with high humidity) and for disability reason and not discomfort (though that would be great as well). I wonder if they would have to allow me to work at home?

  32. Anna No Mouse*

    OP #1 – I feel your pain. Three years ago I was about 8 months pregnant with my son during a very hot, humid summer (much like what this one has recently become) and the AC in my large office building (13 floors, around 1,500 people) was on the fritz. The temp reached over 85 degrees at my desk some days, and on those days, I just left early when I could. My manager not only understood, but encouraged me to do so. At a certain point, my health and the health of my baby were being put at risk.

  33. IT_Guy*

    OP#4 – Have you tried applications that can ‘talk’ for you? My aunt had ALS and used an iPad application that could talk for her. She would type and it would convert the typed words to sound. She could also program phrases as well. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name, but a quick google search turned up Speak It, Small for Aphasia, Locabulary, Proloquo2Go for the android.

    1. Lindsay J*

      When I worked in a speech pathology clinic Proloquo2Go was the app I saw used by most. It’s very well designed and very useful. IIRC it’s incredibly expensive though, so it probably isn’t the best choice for short term use.

  34. Allison*

    #3, no company wants to hire someone who posts negative rants about workplaces – past or present – whether that workplace was their own or a different one, whether it was true or false, warranted or not. By posting that stuff on social media for everyone to see, you present yourself as someone with negative tendencies who can’t be trusted not to tarnish the company name.

    It’s the same with people, really. If your ex posted a rant about how terrible you were, would you ever want to get back together with that person? No! Even if your feelings change toward them, even if you both change and grow and mature and become a better fit for each other, and you grow out of the stuff that caused the breakup, that’s still an ex who talked garbage about you online, where everyone they knew could see it! That’s not someone you want to be involved with, that’s not someone you even want to be friends with, that is not a trustworthy person.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I think never ever ever is a little extreme–I see your point, but since the OP’s rant actually precipitated some changes in the workplace, it might have been a wake-up call for them. She said she was talking to someone about coming back, so maybe they actually decided to overlook the delivery of the message in light of its useful content. I assume that if they thought she were untrustworthy, this conversation would not have taken place and she wouldn’t know about the personnel file.

      Same with dating–it’s possible for people to bring out undesirable behaviors in each other while in a relationship and then with time and understanding, forge a friendship after the relationship is over and they’ve moved on. It’s not very constructive to hold a grudge, especially if the person can acknowledge that the behavior was unacceptable and genuinely apologize.

      It does make sense to have the message in the file. Maybe the new leadership agrees with the rant, but they would still want to keep in mind that the OP did put it out there.

    2. Moonsaults*

      One of my acquaintances went through a separation with her husband and went all out ranting about how horrible he was, he cheated ,he’s a drunk, he’s a total POS…

      Then they got back together and it’s flipped to how much she loves and appreciates him, he’s the best dad, etc.

      Oh that was awkward to say the least but some people and companies are much more forgiving, it just depends on the circumstances. You may torch the bridge but sometimes it’s just a bit charred.

  35. Moonsaults*

    RE: Secret Santa

    I’m sorry that your idea wasn’t well received. Please know that I like the idea of Secret Santa but it sucks when you’ve been burnt by that game more than once in your life. I would flinch and not agree to it either due to personal past experiences where I’ve had mean gifts as a child and later Santa’s that are total flakes. Then you also have issues with people still going all out for their recipients, while the others due the bare minimum. So there are still hurt feelings involved in the end.

    1. Anon for this one just in case........*

      my office has a set up where we have a small stocking set up near our office and people are to surreptitiously drop things in the stockings throughout the month and then we all gather around the conference table at the party and open our stockings to share what we received. I do not like it.. some people got gifts ranging from expensive hardbound books, wine & liquor, gift cards, and jewelry (bracelets) . And then there’s others that got chap sticks, mini hand sanitizers and dollar scratch cards.

      Yeah, I hate these things. If you have a gift to give that is more than small tokens, give them privately.

    1. Silence DoGood (OP4)*

      Yeah, I used a lot of hand gestures, miming, texting, notepad-writing and signs. I still only have about 80% of my voice but anything is better than nothing. It should be considered as a form of torture. It was maddeningly frustrating.

  36. FCJ*

    #1, this isn’t just a comfort issue. If I worked even half a day in your office as you describe it, I would spend the next day in the ER for a massive migraine, and the day after that recovering. I’m honestly kind of surprised there haven’t been more extreme health consequences in your office so far. Get together with your coworkers and tell–don’t ask–your employer that you’ll be working from home unless absolutely necessary.

    PS. In the meantime, Gatorade is your best friend.

  37. A Nonny Mouse*

    Let me tell a story about Facebook, one that I have repeated at length on multiple occasions to coworkers at both my jobs, as management thought it might be a good idea for me to discuss it – especially with younger employees who may be inclined to do what the OP did.

    Once upon a time, when I was 25 and hadn’t managed my bipolar disorder properly (no excuse, but an explanation in part), I was “asked to resign” from an employer. Not because of performance or anything like that, but because my mother also worked there and the owner (an attorney) wasn’t comfortable with “family mixing with business.” I got another job and left. Around four months later, he also fired my mother.

    I was angry, upset, hurt, and defensive of her. Also, again, because I had unmedicated bipolar disorder, I had a habit of lashing out and being explosively reactive. I made the incredibly stupid decisions to a) post nasty comments about him on Facebook (and we’re talking really nasty, involving foul language) and b) report him to the state bar for a BS reason that I justified to myself, and then attempted to mitigate the damage when I was called to the carpet by disciplinary counsel (who investigate reports like mine). I also happened to be a law student at the time, which did not help matters.

    In response to their accusations of poor behavior on my part, I wrote a response saying, among other things, I didn’t remember calling him anything on Facebook (I didn’t, but again, crazypants me didn’t even think to check before I denied it).

    Two years later, I submitted my application to take the bar. They ask all your former employers for their opinion on your character and fitness to practice. Well, you can imagine what happened. Although the initial interviewers at my local bar association approved me, two weeks before the exam, the state board decided they needed to investigate me further because – and they were very specific – I falsely claimed never to have said anything about this employer on Facebook.

    By the way, my posts were set to friends only, but it turns out one of those “friends” shared them with the employer. So don’t assume that because you set your account to non-public that those posts won’t get out.

    Anyway, I was denied the ability to take the bar exam until this past July, and I plan to reapply for next July. But I still have extreme anxiety about the entire process, because they can still consider that evidence as part of my total character. It’s been three years, and I’ve since medicated myself and apologized to that employer (who was gracious enough to accept), but the moral of this story is that not only can these things linger in your employment file, they can affect you for YEARS to come.

    As I said, I now speak to people in both jobs (and have a plan to do this in law schools as part of my state’s lawyers’ assistance program) about proper behavior in employment and particularly online. If I hadn’t made the snap decision to post about that employer on Facebook (although reporting him to the state board didn’t help), I would probably be a lawyer now.

    1. Moonsaults*

      This is an incredible lesson to show people how they act towards a former employer can really harm them in the long run, especially if your career path involves a high ethics.

      I had to fill out a long form for a friend who was applying to work with law enforcement. They had the same to clear a friend to work at a veteran’s hospital during clinical rotations in medical school.

      When you put something out there that’s in writing, it’s going to stay with you in ways you never imagined. Memories can fade or change details, all they have to do is pull up that old post they screen capped and refresh.

      1. A Nonny Mouse*

        Yep. And that’s exactly why I have no problem telling this story to others who don’t think about it. I can’t tell you the number of young people (women, in this case, since one of my jobs is exclusively women) who don’t think about the future and how this could impact them. I certainly didn’t. Granted, again, I had a mental condition that didn’t help my decision-making skills – but I still did what I did, and it is my cross to bear for the rest of my life – particularly since if you Google my name plus my city, the state board’s determination is the first result.

    2. Anon for this one*

      My boyfriend had something similar happen. He got frustrated with the administration of his law school and lashed out at them via email and web posts. He was referred to take a psychological evaluation prior to taking the bar based on his behavior, and was deemed unfit.

      Several years and lots of therapy and meds later he has been psychologically cleared, but this basically entirely derailed his law career and basically changed his entire adult life from what he had planned. (And he still may well not be eligible to take the bar as I’m sure the entire issue would still likely be considered as part of his character. He’s still not sure if he ever wants to try at this point.)

      Stuff like this can have huge huge long-lasting effects.

      1. A Nonny Mouse*

        Tell your boyfriend that, for what it’s worth, my attorney for the whole matter said that it’s mostly CURRENT character and fitness that matters – meaning what you do and how you act from the day you apply. They may look at past behavior but they consider it in the context of how you are when you apply again. I wish him the absolute best of luck!!

        1. Anon for this one*

          That’s good to know. Thank you. :) I will definitely pass it along to him.

          Good luck to you as well!

    3. Nobody*

      Wow… That was a hard way to learn this lesson. It is nice of you to share your cautionary tale to help others avoid the same problem. This is why I rarely post anything on Facebook, especially about work.

      1. A Nonny Mouse*

        Yep, it’s a generally bad idea. I’m super cautious of ANYTHING I post online now. Everything is basically done under pseudonyms and I don’t link anything with Facebook or Twitter. If anything good can come from what I did, then I’m happy to do it.

  38. FiveWheels*

    OP4 – a few years ago I was in a similar position, though I was only mute for about three weeks. What you’re doing sounds absolutely fine.

    I also always carried a card that said “sorry, due to X, I’ve temporarily lost my voice” to start conversations.

    1. JMegan*

      I don’t understand this comment. Are you suggesting that the ideal coworker is one that doesn’t talk?

  39. Jerry Blank*

    I started to post a rant about not having AC growing up, but I had to stop and chase some kids off my lawn.

  40. Lia*

    FWIW, I was temporarily mute for a bit with a medical condition. I carried around a note pad or, if I was at a computer, typed what I wanted to say.

    Most of my coworkers were quite accommodating. (Honestly, since I’m fairly talkative by nature, I got an endless number of laughs about my inability to talk + frantic gesturing.)

    Either way, for me at least, it wasn’t a Big Deal. (An annoyance, sure, but it didn’t really interfere with work.)

  41. SeekingBetter*

    OP#1 I wonder if all the work computers heated up and fried as a result of this money saving measure.

  42. Norman*

    I was terrible at my job and they fired me. I have no reapplied for that job and they are refusing to hire me because I was terrible at my job when I used to work there. Is this legal?

  43. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot*

    Lol I read “AC” as aircraft, then corrected to air conditioner. I need help.

  44. Life insurance claims*

    Is there a similar rule to the one in #1 that applies to reasonable accommodation when an elevator is out? My office is on the 5th floor and there is a rumor that our elevator will be replaced and that it will take 90 days. I will be fine taking the stairs, but one of my co-workers has asthma and the other has plantar fascitis. The last time it went out for a week they took their time each day and eventually made it upstairs, but this seems like an unreasonable request to make of people with medical conditions for 90 days.

  45. spinetingler*

    A very dramatic fall from heat exhaustion, perhaps with a light strike of your head upon a nearby desk* right in front of the HR office should do the trick in getting the AC repaired ASAP.

    *look up “wrestling blading” if you want to increase the dramatic effect

Comments are closed.