my boss is refusing to pay a nonprofit money we owe them, my office lights turn off every 10 minutes, and more

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

1. My office lights turn off every 10 minutes and my manager doesn’t care

I am hoping for your perspective on this workplace issue. I just started a new job (yay!) where I share an office with my manager. He often works out in the field so I’m usually the only one here. The lights in this office are on a motion sensor so they turn off automatically if no one is in the room. When my boss is in the office, this doesn’t affect anything, but when I’m alone (which is often), the sensor can’t detect me and the lights turn off every 10 minutes. There are no windows in this office, so I’m sitting in total darkness. It’s very silly!

I brought this up to our office manager, who looked at the sensor but wasn’t able to turn it off/fix the issue. The only solution seems to be for me to get up and walk across the office every 10 minutes to activate the sensor when it turns off. This breaks up my workflow and has become a distraction. When I told my manager and office manager that this solution wasn’t really working out because it was a frequent distraction, the office manager said, “I know it’s impacting you but honestly it’s a pretty low priority to me.” My manager offered to get me a small desk lamp, but again there are no windows so I would still be sitting in a dark room with just the tiny desk lamp until I get up to activate the sensor. Because of our equipment, I do not have the option of reorienting my desk in the room to be in the view of the sensor or moving elsewhere in our building.

Would you consider the solutions they have offered reasonable/workable? As a manager, is the distraction of office lights turning off every 10 minutes something that you think an employee should/could live with, or is it something that demands more attention to be fixed?

This isn’t any kind of high drama situation, I just wonder how you would approach this since, if I was a manager, I would find it unreasonable to ask an employee to work in a space where the lights turned off every 10 minutes and they had to get up out of their chair to turn them back on. The people in this situation are not otherwise uncaring or inattentive, I just think no one knows how to fix the sensor and it doesn’t affect anyone in the office but me so they don’t care about it.

Nope, that’s silly — they should take care of this. Any chance that bringing in a fan would create enough motion that the lights would stay on? If not, I’d find the brightest floor lamp you can (not a desk lamp) and ask them to purchase it for you.

2. My boss is refusing to pay a nonprofit money we owe them

I am an entry-level employee for a small company. We do community outreach with a lot of different nonprofits and I am the liaison between the nonprofits and my company.

We sponsored one of those nonprofits and were supposed to send the check a few months ago. I was told it got sent to the wrong address, and supposedly accounting sent it again (after I verified the correct address). I was informed by the nonprofit that they still haven’t received the check.

Now when I bring it up, my boss (the CEO) ignores me when I mention it and I feel as though he’s avoiding the topic. This may not be the case; it just may be on the back burner because this is the busy season for the company, but this is a simple matter and can be resolved easily, in my opinion. This also doesn’t sit well with me especially because the nonprofit put the company logo on their marketing materials, so the company got free publicity that they have yet to pay for.

I’ve been thinking about leaving for a while, but when this happened it was the last straw and I began the job hunt. I found a new job and I gave my notice (yay!), but I think I have even less ground now to advocate for the nonprofit. I get the feeling that my boss is pretty upset that I’m departing from the company so he’ll be even less likely to listen to me. I’ve already apologized to my contact at the nonprofit multiple times and while they are being very kind and patient, I want to see them get the money they were promised soon. I plan on letting my contact know that I’m leaving but other than that I’m not sure what my next steps should be. What should I do?

Your boss is being a jerk. You don’t have a lot of options here, but there are two things you can do: First, say to your boss, “I want to ensure Teapots United gets their check before I leave. What can I do to get it taken care of?” Second, send your contact at the nonprofit your boss’s contact info and say that they should follow up with him directly since you’re leaving, so that they at least know exactly who to contact.

3. Company wouldn’t let me resign instead of being fired

I was terminated last Friday for cause. I do not dispute the termination. I was informed at the end of the day that my supervisor’s supervisor wanted to see me. My supervisor was on vacation. I asked the acting supervisor what the meeting was about. She said she didn’t know. When I went to the meeting, I asked what the meeting was about. I was told she would rather wait until her supervisor showed up. When she did, I asked what the meeting was about. She then proceeded to read the letter of termination.

Afterwards, I asked if I could voluntarily resign instead. I was told no and that after the letter had been read, resigning was no longer an option. I had believed up until then that I was improving and was not expecting to be terminated that day. My question is: Is she correct that I cannot resign after the termination letter was read, or was it still an option? Also, can HR change the termination to a resignation if they were so inclined?

It’s really up to the employer. They can decide to allow you to resign after all, or they can stick with calling it a firing. Technically, it was a firing; you were resigning only because they were firing you. So this is really about how it will be recorded in their files and possibly what they’ll tell future employers. But ultimately, that’s up to them (as long as they’re not lying about it, and they’re not).

For what it’s worth, they sound pretty weirdly rigid; firing someone by reading a letter to them is pretty odd.

4. Can I get a second chance after this rejection?

Just this week, I had an interview for a dream job at a company which I admire. I feel that I fit many (if not all) qualifications stated on the job description, so I was determined to land this job. I applied to the position through the application portal and submitted my resume to the recruiter directly, as I had her email address from a previous interview. The hiring manager very quickly (within a week) scheduled a phone interview for a couple days later. She was very impressed with my background, which including much direct and hands-on experience in the field. She was excited to bring me in for an in-person interview, which was scheduled for less than a week after the phone interview. I went in for the interview, met the team, and discussed the opportunity. Many of them mentioned that it’s difficult to find someone with my background for the role. I left the interview feeling pretty solid — maybe weak on a few points, but overall a good interview. The next day, as I was writing my thank-you emails, I received word that they will not move forward with my candidacy.

I very politely followed up with the hiring manager, saying that I was sorry to hear that I was no longer being considered, but that it also opens a great opportunity to discuss any concerns she has. I included a very strong reference of someone who can vouch for my background and professionalism. She responded that while everyone enjoyed meeting me, she had a clear idea in mind for what the candidate looks like for the role and that I had a “couple areas where (I) didn’t exactly meet this profile during the interview.” She mentioned that she is traveling overseas for the next couple weeks and that she will reconsider my application and be back in touch afterwards.

Is this just false hope? Should I pursue this as a potential second chance? I still believe that I would fit in great with the team as well as the position. Do you have any recommended steps that I should take?

You should do nothing! It was pretty aggressive to respond to a rejection by telling them that it was a great opportunity to discuss their concerns; that’s not what job rejections are typically an opening for.

It’s certainly possible that the hiring manager’s response was genuine, in which case you’ll find that out when she contacts you again. But it’s also pretty likely that she’s just putting off dealing with this for now because … well, because it’s pretty annoying to have a candidate do this. She told you pretty clearly that you don’t match up with what she’s looking for, so there’s a good chance it’s the second possibility.

So for now, do nothing. If she gets back in touch with you and wants to talk further, then great. But you’ve already been pretty pushy here, and you won’t help your case by doing more of that.

For what it’s worth, it sounds like you got pretty invested in this job (thinking it’s a dream job, which is really impossible to know from the outside). Keep in mind that if the hiring manager isn’t enthusiastic about your fit for the role, it’s not usually a great idea to try to change her mind. She knows far better than you do the nuances of what she’s looking for and what it takes to succeed in the role, and you really don’t want to talk your way into a job that you’re not quite right for.

5. Should I mention that my husband works for the company I’m interviewing with?

I have just interviewed for a position in my husband’s company and in the same location he works in. Should I let the HR know my husband works for their company? There are so many couples who work together in that same company, but I’m not sure if they disclosed this to the employer. I don’t want to lose this job opportunity, but neither do I want to hide the fact that my husband works there in case they eventually find out.

Yes, you should absolutely disclose it! If it’s going to be a problem, you’re far better off finding that out now rather than later after you’ve already accepted the job. You can simply say, “By the way, I should mention that my husband, Rupert Pluffington, works at this location. I wanted to mention it in case that’s any kind of conflict.”

{ 176 comments… read them below }

  1. Troutwaxer

    My advice is that you should burn down their village, drive their cattle before you, and listen to the lamentations.

  2. AcademiaNut

    How about a supply of beanbags? When the lights go out, you throw something at the sensor.

    Or is it possible to rig a small, moving device in front of the sensor, so it’s constantly activated? Like a battery powered fan, say.

    1. Panda Bandit

      I like the idea of one of those 10 ft tall inflatable air dancers, the kind that you see outside of car dealerships.

      1. Random Lurker

        They are super loud (powered by a high speed fan). I have one I use in an immature war with my neighbor, but that’s another story for another site.

        1. Hotstreak

          Ohhh or one of those plastic flowers with arms that wave around. I think they’re solar powered!

      1. Perse's Mom

        Yelling “I CHOOSE YOU, MOTION SENSOR!” followed by a THUMP as you throw something heavy at the wall every 10 min might annoy everybody else in the office enough that they finally fix it, at least.

    2. Nea

      I was thinking toy train with a big flag on it. Set it up to go around in circles in front of the sensor.

    3. JessaB

      Or just tie a couple of streamers to a small fan and put it near the sensor, the movement of the ribbons will keep it going.

    4. Ann O'Nemity

      Mylar balloon (the shiny silver one). Something about that shiny reflective surface trips the motion sensor. Just hang from ceiling; it will work after it goes flat. (We had the same problem at a previous employer and after many experiments found that the balloons worked best.)

      1. Clewgarnet

        Make sure your building’s fire detection system can cope with them first, though.

        It took six evacuations on the morning of our big opening day and a visit from the fire brigade to discover that ours couldn’t.

    5. Chickaletta

      I’m the kind of employee where I’d go all detective mode, find the control box, and google how to fix it myself.

    6. Ultraviolet

      The sensor in my office also responds to loud noises (sometimes clapping your hands is enough), so I was going to suggest OP get an airhorn. Then I reviewed the letter and saw that they’re alone in the office, so that idea lost some appeal.

      1. Youth Services Librarian

        Someone lost to the mist of time thought it would be a brilliant idea to have motion detector lights in our study rooms. At least you can activate them by waving your hands in the air, with the bonus both of stretching (you really shouldn’t sit still for long periods of time. blood clots!) and amusing the librarians.

    7. stevenz

      I think you need a certain amount of mass or surface area to trip those sensors. I’d try a beach ball. Just toss it in the air when the lights go out, or before they go out. It won’t break anything, and it will look really festive.

  3. NN

    #1 This sucks that they won’t recognise this and get the sensor fixed. I totally agree with Allison re getting a strong floor lamp. this also happened to me at my old job, although only after 5pm. I also didn’t have to walk over to another area, just stand up and madly wave my arms in the air until the sensor recognised me. I asked for the sensors to be delayed until 6pm, as I commonly worked until then, but was similarly told it wasn’t a priority. I started throwing my stress ball in the air to activate the sensor. It wasn’t ideal, but better than having to get up and wave madly. Plus my throwing/catching improved.

    1. JessaB

      The weird thing is that most of those sensor switches have a position for always on, why on earth would they put one that didn’t? If you have a facilities department, I can’t see that this would be expensive or a long fix, is there someone above your boss? Because it’s kinda bad to have someone sitting in the dark, not good for their eyes (can cause headaches,) etc. Hard to work when you can’t concentrate.

      Also would a piece of tape over the sensor make it think it’s on? I dunno if those work only by motion or also by infrared?

      1. MissDisplaced

        The one in my office didn’t have an “always on” either, and the same thing kept happening. I think they just become faulty after time or distance is too much.
        I placed a work order with building maintenance and they replaced it with a normal switch.

        That is what I suggest doing: place the work order yourself with building maintenance or call a handyman service to get it fixed. It will only take a few minutes and is quite easy.

      2. Case of the Mondays

        My former office wouldn’t do an always on because the purpose was for energy savings. Many people were leaving their lights on when they left so it would look like they were working late. The office took away “always on” so we couldn’t do that.

      3. twentymilehike

        A little late to the party, but I work in property management and I thought it would be worth mentioning that the “always on” option is actually no longer an option for new construction due to certain state energy savings regulations (I’m in California), so there is a distinct possibility that this really isn’t an option.

        This issue is now actually quite common and if the OP’s office is leasing their office space they should be able to have the property management company come in and move the sensor and it should be a very minor deal. We do it all the time.

    2. Interviewer

      Have you tried googling for pictures of your switch to see if you can find the manual yourself? I had to do that when we moved into new office space – several of the switches were set incorrectly, and I had to do a lot of adjustments. But the electricians left us with zero documentation. So I googled for our light switch, and with one manual and a small letter opener, I learned that the cover popped off and there were 2 dials inside. The manual spelled out all of the settings. Very easy to adjust.

      Good luck!

  4. Jerry Vandesic

    #3, you don’t want to resign. If you resign you are not eligible for unemployment. If they fire you, you can file for unemployment. Unless the reason you were fired was egregious, you should receive unemployment benefits.

    1. HRChick

      That’s not true and I hear it quite a bit. And even sometimes result in people trying to get fired so they can try to get unemployment, since I’ve heard this and think that it’s a good possibility

      If you are fired for cause and the employer can show that, you don’t get unemployment.

      We recently terminated someone for frequent tardiness. He appealed to get unemployment and we had to talk to an investigator about it. They did not get unemployment. You’re firing does not need to be egregious for you not to be able to get an appointment

      1. Christopher Tracy

        Actually, it depends on the state. Some states will give you unemployment as long as you weren’t fired for gross misconduct. Since we don’t know exactly why OP was fired, it’s possible she could still get unemployment even though her termination was for cause.

        1. chocolate lover

          Ditto on the state mattering. I know several people fired for cause, including my brother a few years ago, and they still got unemployment.

        2. AMT

          Right. This is an important distinction. Fired for cause according to your employer is NOT the same as your state’s definition of fired for cause!

          1. Natalie

            Indeed, we just told someone that in fact – that they could file, and we wouldn’t contest. It probably was for cause (the firing happened before I started there) but why contest?

      2. Duncan

        Depends on the cause. In my state, attendance issues are considered willful misconduct, so they would disqualify you for unemployment. But just being a bad fit for the job (which it sounds like this was, given the improvement the OP thought was occurring) would not disqualify you.

        1. Jerry Vandesic

          Exactly. Stealing from your employer would be “for cause” and you wouldn’t be eligible. Inadvertently screwing up a presentation would also be “for cause” but you would likely receive unemployment.

      3. Mallory Janis Ian

        I fired a person once for pure laziness that he would not be coached out of. He was hired by my predecessor, and I hardly ever saw him actually do any work. His customer files would sit on his desk while he piddled around, and other employees would come get them from him as they grew anxious about approaching deadlines. He openly browsed the internet and looked at videos all day. I think he was trying to get fired and collect unemployment.

        Anyway, I think the people at the unemployment office suspected him as a serial moocher, because after I fired him, one of them called me and asked me several pointed questions about why he was fired. After I told them everything, they denied his claim.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian

            No, he didn’t. I think he was busted after scanning the system several times, and that was the end of it.

            1. Jerry Vandesic

              The key is that he didn’t challenge the denial. You won by default, so we don’t know whether he would have prevailed if he did challenge it. He might have won a challenge, as simply being bad at your job is probably not enough be denied.

      4. Episkey

        That’s not true everywhere. In my state, it is has to be gross misconduct, like you were caught embezzling or something as egregious as that. Tardiness would not be sufficient.

      5. BananaPants

        It depends on the state. In some states it has to be willful or gross misconduct – something like theft, fraud, violence or threats of violence, etc. My husband was fired “for cause” (from the job from hell) because he missed a sales quota by a few dollars. He applied for and received unemployment with no issue and without the former employer appealing his claim.

        1. Moonsaults

          And even if it’s theft, threats of violent and fraud you better have solid proof, like video evidence proof and a police report. I’ve known many small businesses who don’t document properly, jump the gun on firing because you just know someone is stealing from you under your nose but have no solid proof to bring in a case. Therefore those people are given unemployment along with get to skate on to their next victim.

          1. Callie

            Yes. My husband was fired from a retail job because they thought he stole something, but they had no proof (he did NOT steal anything). He applied for unemployment and got it.

        2. EmmaLou

          Yes, that kind of thing happened at our house too. His company had a new GM and he’d been nudging people out. My husband was the last of the original employees in his group and the highest paid at the time. Husband was fired for breaking a rule that didn’t exist. The company bragged that it never paid unemployment. They have now. It took an bit of a process and an “Administrative Decision” on the part of the unemployment case worker. The company fought it hard and it still looks bad when they get called for references as the prospective employers don’t know the Real Story, but he got his full unemployment out of it. The case worker was awesome. Asked all the right questions and investigated thoroughly.

      6. Jerry Vandesic

        “We recently terminated someone for frequent tardiness. He appealed to get unemployment and we had to talk to an investigator about it. They did not get unemployment.”

        It just goes to show you how much variation there is when you are fired. I fired someone on my team when they made veiled threats against their manager. He was denied unemployment based on information we provided, but he challenged the denial and was ultimately awarded full benefits.

        All that changes, though, if you resign. Except in extraordinary circumstances, a resignation letter is a solid defense against a challenge to the denial of unemployment benefits.

      7. De Minimis

        Was fired for poor performance, got unemployment with no problem and probably would have even had they appealed.

        I can see someone not getting unemployment for being fired due to tardiness because that starts crossing the line into job abandonment. But if you’re at work and just not doing well at your job, you have a good chance of getting unemployment if fired. If the OP files they probably have a good case even if appealed by the employer.

    2. Denise George

      I had actually been in this position for almost ten years, over 20 years with same company. I had had this supervisor for almost 8 years. All of my reviews had been very good until about 2014. We got a new dept. director and my supervisor began catering to him instead of representing us. I was the most vocal in her change in attitude. This past year, our relationship had deteriorated enough that I got 2 final warning letters about my attitude. I did have a small mental breakdown due to this, which probably delayed the firing for 12 weeks. I just felt I should have been allowed to resign instead of fired when my boss was on vacation and I thought things were improving.

      1. Noble

        I think you most definitely will qualify for unemployment Denise. At least then you will have that bit of a cushion (although it’s not going to be the same as your earnings) while you get past this and look for new employment.

        If you can afford to take a little break, perhaps it will do you good. But if not, I think step 1 is you are on the perfect site to get your job search going. You’ve had the same job for a very long time, so your resume is the first thing you’re going to have to address. Spruce that up. Write an amazing cover letter.

        You’re a valuable employee, you were kept on for so long, you had to have been contributing well. But things change sometimes, that doesn’t mean you aren’t a good employee now. It just means it’s time to be one somewhere else. You’ll be happier somewhere new. Don’t be too hard on yourself or too down about this for too long. it’s crappy and it hurts but things will turn out.

        1. Denise

          Update: I was denied UI benefits. I appealed. That hearing was held two days after I had major surgery. My ex-employer sent 2 people to fight against me. I lost the appeal. I did find another job making significantly less than I was previously. I am also in counseling to help me understand what happened. Things have been pretty bad since my termination, emotionally, mentally and financially. I’m now contemplating leaving my husband for weeks at a time to work as a travel nurse.

  5. Renee Stephen

    Those lights are the worst. but! I used to work in building maintenance: often these sensors have a front or side panel that pops opens: inside is a little dial or flat bit that can be turned with a coin/screwdriver to change the sensitivity (this setting is because random air con often turns them on at night by accident.)

    Or, get one of those little solar powered nodding flowers/dolls and put it a few feet from the sensor. There’s enough light in an average room to keep one of those going and it should be enough.

    1. TootsNYC

      great, helpful info!
      I was going to suggest a small fan aimed at a Post-it note stuck to the wall so it will flutter near the sensor.

      Or a laser pointer or penlight that you can aim at the light. (But really, you want something that just keeps it going.)

      10 minutes is REALLY short for an office in which people are actually working. I’d think that would be appropriate for a closet or something.

      1. Miss Betty

        The sensor in our restroom at work lasts longer than 10 minutes! We can also switch it to be completely off or completely on as well.

    2. Joseph

      Interesting info – did not know about the sensitivity.
      I actually had a similar issue at an old job. We ended up buying one of those stand-up rotating fans from target – due to the height and rotation, it’s almost like having a person standing in front of the sensor constantly turning around.

      1. Meg

        Oscillating fan set on low was my thought as well. Solves the problem and is relatively inexpensive.

        1. JessaB

          And if you need to tie a couple of ribbon streamers and it’ll absolutely fix it cause that’s more than enough movement.

    3. VA anon

      I shared an office with these type of lights years ago. I remember we kept a piece of tape over the switch. I can’t remember if it was to keep the switch pushed down or what, but I know the tape helped.

    4. Ultra Anon

      The bobbing flower is an excellent idea!

      I’d also suggest putting it in number terms to the managers. Every 10 minutes obviously wasn’t enough but maybe something more like “that interrupts my work flow 48 times in one working day”. You have to get up to deal with it 240 times per week. 12,480 times per year. If it takes about 10 seconds to reset it every time that ads up to 40 minutes of lost work every week or 34 hours a year. It’s basically a week of pay just for waving your arms around. Not to mention that it completely eliminates the opportunity to focus on any aspect of your work. Then multiply that number by how much you’re paid per hour and give them the dollar figure. That’s the ROI on fixing the issue. Maybe that will help them prioritize it.

    5. Chickaletta

      Yes, this to the first part. Why not just fix it yourself, OP? A couple minutes on the internet and I bet you can figure out yourself how to change the settings so that the lights don’t go off during work hours. All these suggestions for putting gadgets around your office seem a bit silly, but maybe it’s just me… I’d rather solve the original problem then create a work around.

  6. irritable vowel

    #1 – If there was a plumbing problem in the bathroom, is there someone who would come fix it, or would the office manager just look at it and say he couldn’t figure it out? If the former (obviously it’s the former), there is someone out there who can fix the light problem. If for whatever reason, no one seems to think this is worthy of their time, can you offer to make contact with the super or whoever takes care of other building issues? (Or, failing that, look up how to fix it yourself online…)

    1. Augusta Sugarbean

      That was my thinking. I’d say go to the office manager/boss and tell them that this needs to be resolved. Ask for contact information for whomever does maintenance and put in the work order yourself. Just approach it like Alison often suggests, like they are perfectly reasonable people and of course any reasonable person would agree with you that it needs to be fixed. In fact, this is probably an appropriate time to use of “needless to say”. I.e., “The sensor turning the light off every ten minutes is impacting my work. Needless to say, the sensor should be fixed. So if you’ll just give me the contact information for our maintenance person/company, I’ll take care of it! Thanks!”

    2. irritable vowel

      I would also add that it’s not really cool for your office manager to tell you that this issue that seriously impacts your work environment is not really a priority for him. It’s one thing if the CEO or something was saying that, but this is solidly within the realm of things that *should* be this person’s priorities. (Office. Manager.) And if your boss’s solution is not telling the office manager to get off his duff and call the maintenance person or an electrician but getting you a lamp, that’s a little uncool as well.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        I know, right? What kind of office manager says, “This isn’t a priority for me,” to something that is impacting an employee and clearly falls in her domain?

      2. Moonsaults

        Right?

        As an office manager for over a decade, it was my priority to make sure things were in working order so that productivity was at it’s fullest. All OM has to do is say “I’m so swamped, would you mind calling a couple places to see if they can fix it? Jim Handy and Bill FixIt are the two places we use for maintenance issues, numbers are in the contacts file on my desk.”

        Literally as an office manager a lot of my job was just saying ‘Oh you need to call XYZ’ on the days or things i couldn’t fit into my schedule. Since getting some things fixed is so much easier if the person who’s experiencing the outages can give them the details anyways. Yes it may only be a 5 minute phone call but it could also be a phone tag race too. So I wouldn’t fault them for pushing it off onto the letter-writer but still, brushing them off is a jerk move.

  7. Uyulala

    Would the pendulum of a grandfather or wall clock be enough motion for the light? You could even get one of those where the cat’s eyes go back and forth — or I’d be tempted to get a cuckoo clock. :)

  8. KiwiLib

    There’s no way I could cope with no.1 situation. I’m scared of the dark, and have been known to let loose with rather vile language if plunged into sudden darkness. I’d never get any work done: I’d be watching the clock waiting to jumping up every 9 minutes. I get the need to save power, but why do they even need a sensor – people could just switch the lights off when they leave the office. I assume that there no way to switch the sensor off? Good luck.

    1. Meg

      They need the censor based on the code in some cities (like Chicago). It’s required in some places.

      1. JessaB

        Yeh but most sensors have an always on switch that you can use. I’ve never actually seen one that you can’t either adjust or switch one way or the other. The adjustment may be hidden under the plate like someone else said, but it makes zero sense not to have one. In an office an 8 hour cycle would at least be reasonable.

      2. M-C

        In corridors or bathrooms, but not in an actual -office-, where people are trying to work. Typing fingers or moving lips are not enough to keep these things going.
        OP, can you get close enough to this thing to find its model number, so that you can look up the manual online and figure out how to adjust it? For that matter, it sounds like it’s set to record your boss’ movements but not your own, can you crank it over, change its orientation so it annoys him instead of you? That’d be a big improvement on all levels, and I bet it’d be taken care of quickly :-). Don’t tell anyone you’re doing this though..

  9. Kimberly

    Oh our school installed those – and increased the electricity usage while reducing the visibility of our brand new IWB and projectors. See before we had 2 switches and most teachers kept only 1/2 the lights on. They kept the set that controlled the lights over the IWB off. When the put the sensor in, they hooked up all the lights to it. Add the fact we are in tornado country so most of our rooms only have 1 window in one corner of the room (secondary fire exit).

    One of the crafty teachers came up with a solution to them turning off when the kids weren’t in the room. A clip on fan with ribbons attached. At the end of the ribbons she attached reflective tape. She would clip it to a chair in front of the sensor and the lights stayed on.

    1. Lily

      My father is a teacher, and they installed one of those systems in the high schoool/college where he works (Different educational system here – it’s like some mixture of college and high school).
      So, now, whenever they write exams in winter, every few minutes the light goes out, then a student jumps up and waves with their arms, then the light returns. I can’t imagine writing an exam under that conditions and I still want to know who the f*** thought that this is a good idea for a room where people should sit and work. That’s so stupid.

      1. Seal

        The school I attended a few years ago for my masters degree had those installed in the bathrooms. The lights would go on when someone came in, but would only stay on as long at motion was detected. So if you were the only person in the bathroom, after you sat down to do your business the lights would go out. You either had to finish up in the dark or wave your arms around to get the lights to come back on.

        Even better, the toilets all had automatic flushers that were also activated by motion detectors. If they detected even the tiniest movement, the toilet would flush. Between the usual things you do when using the toilet and waving your arms to get the lights to come back on, the toilet would flush at least 3 times during the average visit. I find it hard to believe that any money was saved on electricity or water by using those idiotic things.

        1. Kelly L.

          Same thing at my college–there was this one bathroom that was in a basement computer lab, and totally windowless…

        2. Simonthegrey

          We have those in the bathrooms at the community college where I work. They’re on a fairly reasonable timer, I think 10 or 15 minutes – I don’t know as I never have time to camp in the bathroom for that long – but I do know of one other employee who has a habit of going to the bathroom a while before her lunch and playing around on her phone (in order to basically have a 45min or hour long lunch instead of the 30 min she is supposed to take) and she has complained about the “short timers” shutting down the lights on her more than once. I don’t care if she wants to read in the bathroom for five hours, since her job and mine have no overlap, but I think of it as a kind of karmic justice to remind her that she maybe shouldn’t just hang out in the throne room all day.

        3. sometimeswhy

          The locker room at my old gym had automatic lights. And sometimes I was the only woman there. I figured out the timing right quick. Showering was, let’s say, a challenge.

        4. Mickey, like the mouse

          I used to volunteer in a public library where the staff bathroom was fully automated, but also fully backwards. The faucet would only turn on when there was NO motion from your hands, and the lights would only turn on when there was 1 minute of no motion. The toilet worked correctly, in theory, but since the lights went out when you stood up, the toilet didn’t sense that you were done. I sort of admire the evil genius that automated that bathroom.

  10. Alter_ego

    So I, amongst other things, design occupancy sensor locations for a living, and this is definitely a result of either bad design or a bad product. Most newer sensors have two methods of detection so that they can sense small and large movement. If you can contact the manufacturer of the occupancy sensor, they’ll be able to tell you if there’s a way to increase the sensitivity of the sensor, so that it picks up the small motion movement of you at your keyboard. If it can’t do that, they may have a sensor they can replace it with that does, without having to rewrite all the lights, but you would still have to hire someone qualified for lv installations to put it in. If the location is just bad, then unfortunately fixing it would require moving the sensor. While I agree that the boss should do what it takes to fix that, it’s definitely going to be more money than he wants to spend.

    1. Joseph

      I don’t think it’s a sensitivity issue. OP said it was impossible to move her desk so that she was in range of the sensor, so I’m guessing it’s just poor office setup. Something like the sensor being located right near the door (for obvious reasons) but her desk is on the total opposite end of the room so she needs to physically get up and walk up to it to be close enough to trigger.
      Also, if you design occupancy sensors, is 10 minutes really a common time frame? I obviously have never sat in my parking lot watching, but it seems crazy short for an occupied building. Heck, it seems short even for something like a warehouse since you could easily spend 5-10 minutes inside the back of the delivery truck trying to rearrange the boxes and checking paperwork.

      1. Alter_ego

        Yeah, if it’s a location thing, that’s on the engineer who did the design. Near the door isn’t actually very useful for occupancy sensors (vs vacancy sensors). But either way, at my firm, we’re super careful not to have any dead spots in the occ sensor design. It’s the number one complaint we get on the electrical side of things about client’s old offices.

        10 minutes is pretty common. What code allows varies by state, but I believe the max time in the state I work is 15 minutes. The thing is, in a well designed space, the time shouldn’t matter, because as long as you’re in the space, the occ sensor knows you’re there, and won’t shut off. In your truck scenario, the light would just come back on as soon as you left the truck. I haven’t done a ton of warehouse design, but the typical layout is an occ sensor built in to each individual fixture, so the fixture won’t turn on until you get close enough to it.

              1. Alter_ego

                It’s almost never pitch black though. Almost every job we’ve ever designed, and 100% of every warehouse we’ve designed has some night lighting that will be on 24/7 for safety reasons. Those lights are on a battery backup so that they’ll stay on in an emergency, and they aren’t switched, so even when it isn’t an emergency, they stay on when all the other lights are off. The interiors of most trucks, in my experience, are also lit.

          1. Alter_ego

            Well, it’s dark for the split second it takes to detect your movement and turn on. There’s almost always some night lighting that’s on 24/7, so it’s not pitch black. And it’s not all on all the time both because energy code doesn’t allow it, and because hi bay warehouse lights are massively powrful because the lumen levels it takes to light up the ground 40 feet below, and it would be very expensive to keep them running all the time.

  11. Noble

    #3 – with being fired, at least you could try to file unemployment while you look for new work. Sorry that that happened, but it does. Being fired typically qualifies you for UI benefits, so at the very least put that application in to pad you until something better comes along. Perhaps, also, reach out to your supervisor since they were away, and discuss what their recommendation or reference for you would look like going forward. Best wishes!

    1. Joseph

      +1
      If you wanted to “resign” for future employment reasons, it’s worth talking to your former supervisor and asking if they can call it a “resignation” or “mutual decision” when future employers call. Most managers, even experienced ones, absolutely HATE firing people even if it’s justified, so they’re usually willing to do this to help you out.

      1. Graciosa

        Savvy reference checkers will ask whether an employee is eligible for rehire to identify those who genuinely resigned from those who resigned in lieu of firing or were fired and talked someone into calling it a resignation.

      2. Denise George

        I have actually gone to HR with that request and was turned down. Then I filed a “termination review” form with the letter of termination and addressed every reason given in the letter. I do admit to some of the things listed, but rebutted several of them. They can still deny me unemployment benefits. Have labeled me ineligible for rehire. 20+ years with this company. It is one of the largest employers in this area. I have requested a meeting with my former supervisor (who was a friend and coworker before she was promoted).

        1. Noble

          All employers typically deny the benefits, but you can dispute the denial depending on what happened. I’ve been denied benefits before (still reported weekly while appealing) and was then approved upon appeal and all the weeks of back-pay were deposited into my account once approved.

      3. Afiendishthingy

        Last week one of my reports resigned (via email) two hours before we were going to fire her. It was honestly one of the high points of my day- was not looking forward to that meeting! (She doesn’t work on site, but we had asked her to come in to follow up on already discussed Major Concerns.)

    2. Moonsaults

      It depends on the location of the OP but another thing to remember about unemployment benefits is it depends on how long you’ve been there. If you’re let go within your probationary period, you are frequently excluded from benefits, unless you had full time employment prior to that job, then they’ll use your previous employers information.

      This is because you use the previous 5 quarters to calculate unemployment. If you’re fired within that quarter, then it’s not going to come up on their database.

      1. Denise George

        I was with this company 22+ years. I have never been fired before and am having emotional difficulty dealing with this now.

        1. animaniactoo

          I’m sorry. That’s got to be very tough to deal with. I think that at this point, you have to just cut your ties and not keep going back to this. If you can take a month or two off just to deal with the emotional fallout, and figure out what your future path might look like, that would be your best focus to getting back to a feeling of having some control over what’s going on in your life. To rebuilding and recouping your work reputation.

          This has been a hit, but how you handle it from here is going to be the difference between you being seen as intransigent and intolerant of change and being able to pass off “fundamental differences” with your company’s approach to these particular changes. Pick the path which best helps you going forward, which is most likely to help you given your former company’s ongoing resistance to working with you on this in any shape or form.

        2. Noble

          I’m very sorry and I’m even more sorry with how this was handled. But yes, you probably certainly qualify for UI benefits. Even if they deny them, (many companies will as a matter of practice whether legitimate or not) appeal a denial if the state sides with them. They may not and decide to award them to you right away. But if they do deny, appeal in writing, continue to report weekly/biweekly as mandated by your state (start on this process right away!) and if you can talk to someone in person that helps on appeal. You want to start reporting right away so that once you’re approved you can be paid for every week you are out.
          —-

          That being said, after such a long time with the company the way this was handled and while your supervisor was away really stinks and I am so sorry! I would definitely reach out to her about her referral/recommendation going forward.

          Hopefully once you come out on the other side of the grieving period of this change in your life you can find the silver lining. I hope all things work out in your favor. A better opportunity somewhere else where you’re happier than you were there. Some time to spend with yourself. Some time to catch up on personal matters… something light at the end of the tunnel.

          Things will turn out. I wish you well

        3. AK

          I am so sorry that happened to you, I have been in a similar situation and it is so hard!
          If you can swing it, consider seeing a counselor or therapist – I know, that’s such a common suggestion, but when I was let go the last time, my counselor really helped me keep things in perspective – I was so sure I’d NEVER get hired again, I was worthless, etc. and just having someone to talk to to break that cycle of thinking was really helpful for me. The cost was not as big a barrier as I’d feared since unemployment qualified as a “life change,” and I was able to apply for my state’s low-cost insurance plan. It was such a scary time, but I was able to find an even better job and I’m much happier now.
          I wish you all the best!

  12. Megan Schafer

    It’s blowing my mind that they don’t think that their employees having light to work by is a high priority. I feel like I would be incredibly mad about this. It’s equivalent of saying “you and your work are not a priority”.

    1. Chinook

      This doesn’t surprise me as our office manager doesn’t see it as a priority to fix a printer with error messages or trust us with extra toner for the drafting and GIS mapping department (and complains about how frequently we need toner). She treats us like a regular office without realizing we have specific printing needs. It took breaking 2 printers until she reluctantly upgraded us to one that could handle our workload.

  13. AthenaC

    #1 – My sympathies, OP. Somewhat related issue – my former employer had those motion sensors for the lights in the restroom and I think they would shut off after something like 2 or 3 minutes. I never timed it, but somewhat frequently any one of us would be in the restroom and then have to suddenly navigate in the dark. Heaven forbid you need a minute in the bathroom! I started bringing my phone with me simply as an alternative source of light.

    Good luck!

    1. EmmaLou

      That just gave me the image of Frodo holding up Galadriel’s phial for light just trying to find the handle for the stupid door. I hate those sensors in the bathroom. There are things in public bathrooms we all try to never touch and sudden pitch blackness does not help.

    2. Former Cemetery Admin Clerk

      They had a short motion timer in the public ladies room at the funeral home. If you didn’t remember to bring your phone you often found yourself in the dark. If you were supremely talented and had a great hook shot you could trip the sensor with a spare roll of toilet paper. It tended to be somewhat creepy to our patrons. It was installed by one handyman, and the guy who replaced him claimed he couldn’t fix it even after I downloaded the instructions for him.

  14. Insurance Wife

    I showed my husband letter #1-he used to do accident prevention for workers comp. He said It sounded like an accident waiting to happen and the kind of thing he would write up as something that had to be fixed. If your employee gets hurt because of a known hazard, the premium increase will cost more than just fixing the switch or buying additional lighting. I used to work in a big old fire prone mill building and the fire department would come inspect extinguishers, sprinklers, and exit lighting, so there are probably some rules there. My husband could afford to be stern with his clients because he didn’t actually work for them, but you have to work with these people every day. Find some diplomatic way to say “gosh, I hope I don’t get hurt” without sounding like you’re going to sue them!

    1. Beefy

      I’m also wondering if this would be an OSHA situation, as they require a certain amount of light, depending on the setting (20-50 foot candles for office work).

        1. Artemesia

          foot candle — it is a measure of light — originally it was the amount of light a candle puts out at one foot.

      1. Moonsaults

        Sadly when you call OSHA for something like this, they aren’t going to give a name of whomever reported it but they will say “Someone said this is an issue, how are you dealing with it?” In the OP’s case, they’re going to bring it right back to the OP. It’s frowned upon to fire someone for reporting it to OSHA but you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll find a way to get rid of OP somewhere down the line with that in the back of their heads as a go-get-’em.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          But the OP could take the knowledge that it’s an OSHA issue and say that to her manager and the office manager — “We’re violating OSHA regulations here and could get in trouble for creating a safety hazard. We could also be looking at workers comp if it ever does create a safety issue.” That’ll get a lot of people to act.

  15. animaniactoo

    OP3, admittedly this is the impression of an internet stranger, but from your letter you should like you are extremely procedure based, and need things to be done in a very formal manner before you accept them. If that’s true, I suspect the reason for the way you were fired is because they were working to make it formal enough that you wouldn’t argue with it, they wanted to make sure you truly heard the reasons for firing and that it was a firing, period non-stop.

    I also suspect that it’s the reason they’re unwilling to allow you to voluntarily resign vs being fired. They are trying to make sure that you are very clear about whose choice anything was and what options are open to you based on that choice. i.e. If they fired you, you are less likely to think that you can be re-hired in another role, etc. However if presented it to you as a choice at that point vs a “must do”, you are likely to argue back about what you want to do, so they’re telling you there’s no choice. It might be that they are genuinely that rigid, but it’s worth looking at whether they felt they had to present all of this to you as no choices available on their part in order for you to accept it and not continue to pursue it.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Hmmm, I’m not getting “extremely procedure-based” from the OP’s letter. Which part of it is making you think that? (In fact, I might argue that it’s the employer that sounds extremely procedure-based!)

      1. animaniactoo

        Very short almost blunt sentences. Repeated action (and statement) “I asked what the meeting was about”, no real variation in that wording. It’s a very clean detailed presentation that gets straight to the meat of the relevant facts, but it also feels very transactional (think Sheldon Cooper here) “When I do X, Y is the result/necessary detail. Z is what follows (or should).”

        I know that I have a “ships-passing-in-the-night” relationship with the words “concise” and “succinct”, but this reads like the other end of that extreme in a way that feels “procedure-based” to me.

      2. HR Expat

        I work for a large multinational conglomerate that sends a letter to all US employees termed for cause. In cases where a manager doesn’t have much experience terminating employees, I provide them with the letter in advance of the meeting and advise them to use it as a script. I’m guessing that this is similar to the situation with the OP.

        OP- With larger corporations, it’s not always about whether they are allowed to let you resign or not. It’s also not always about unemployment. It’s more of a record of whether you’re eligible to be rehired. You’re usually eligible for rehire if you resign, but in cases of involuntary termination (performance or misconduct) you’re not eligible. Also, I’m more likely to advise a manager to accept a resignation before we get to the termination meeting. By the time that we get to the termination meeting, there’s been a lot of documentation, meetings, and signals to the employee that this is a serious issue, so I struggle with an employee who asks to resign in what appears to be an attempt to save face so that they don’t have to report they were fired from a job. I’m using that as a general statement, since I don’t know your particular circumstances.

        Here’s the thing, though- it’s all about how you move forward. I’ve been fired from a couple of my early-career jobs due to my own stupidity, but I’ve been fortunate in that I was able to turn things around. Take some time to reflect on what happened and what you’ve learned from it before you start interviewing again.

        1. Rebecca Anne

          I’ve unfortunately been in OP3’s situations. The HR director was also the Finance director and was basically just following procedure. When I got called for a disciplinary meeting, it was just a call to the meeting room and the letter was read out. When I got my termination notice, it was the same, just a call to the meeting room and the letter was read out. No discussion and no conversation.

          The HR director and my line manager sat on the opposite side of the table, read the letter and then the HR director asked me for thoughts while my head was still spinning. I had genuinely thought that I was getting better, that I was doing everything that had been outlined but my line manager had added some “nebulous” goals to my PIP and it was those that she used to shove me out the door. I was absolutely stunned.

          I fought back over the PIP with the HR director directly and the nebulous goals and managed to get myself an increase in severance.

          My golden lining is that the client (very difficult) client that I had been dealing with thinks that my termination was unwarranted and spent the next six months saving up every little niggly issue that they had and calling my old line manager at 4:55 on a Friday evening and spending about 2 hours on the phone while she was trying to get out the door at exactly 5pm. :D

          1. HR Expat

            I’m so sorry that you’ve been in this position. It shouldn’t happen like that. I’m very cautious in all situations that I recommend for termination. To me, it should absolutely be a last resort and I’m very clear with all the managers I support that they need to provide firm evidence that the employee is aware of the issues and that they aren’t improving. This is doubly true for performance issues. Say what you want about really large corporations, but a lot of them are so risk-averse that they have very stringent policies in place to make sure these things don’t happen.

            One of the great things I’ve seen in my expat role are some of the employee protections in place to prevent these issues. And every employee has the right to appeal a disciplinary or termination decision.

  16. Amanda2

    #1 we have those lights in my office too and there is no button to press for it to stay permanently on. However, we found that if you take a push pin and wedge it in the crack between the switch and the wall plate, it causes the light to stay permanently on. I don’t know why it works but it does.

    1. Renee

      It works because it forces the switch to send a continuous digital signal across the lighting network to turn the light on. The ‘on’ signal is constantly being sent so it overrides the motion-sensor’s ‘off’. (Wadded-up paper works too.)

  17. SophieChotek

    This is more for AAM Community than OP#4 but relates to Letter #4
    So AAM said “It was pretty aggressive to respond to a rejection by telling them that it was a great opportunity to discuss their concerns” — which I understand. It’s probably not great to change HR minds and might leave a bad impression (and less interested in one if a different opportunity came up.)

    But I’ve also heard that if one is rejected, it does not hurt to ask for feedback on how to improve (i.e. maybe what were the weakness that you saw that I needed) — and that one would ask once, and most HR/directors don’t have time to do that with a candidate, but every once in a while someone will, and one might good feedback on one’s interview style, weaknesses in resume that are pertinent to the field, etc. Or would the AAM community say that also is passe advice?

    1. Artemesia

      If you are fairly far along in the process i.e. have been interviewed at least, then politely asking for advise on how to strengthen your candidacy is acceptable. It should be clear that you aren’t asking for a re-do but looking for personal development as you continue to build your career.

      1. TootsNYC

        though, that’s a pretty big request; so you should really only ask it if they seemed to have invested a bit in you.

        Then again–when I’ve invested in interviewing someone, and I pick someone else, it’s always a matter of the other candidate just edging them out somehow. (I often say that: “You were a strong candidate, you should feel confident in your job hunt; it’s just that someone beat you out this time.”) So I really can’t answer that question in those situations.

        It’s an easier question for someone to answer quickly when you’re farther from consideration: You don’t have X skills. You’re coming across too casually. This role is more senior than your experience. We needed more evidence of supervisory ability. You were late, and we don’t hire people who blow it like that.

      2. TBoT

        I agree with this. I’d be more likely to provide that feedback for someone who had gotten well into the interviewing process than someone who had just submitted an application and been rejected, or someone who maybe made it to a phone screening and got rejected.

        That said, though, I’ve had some people ask for feedback and then take that feedback badly, which is something that has come up on AAM and in comments before. So there are lots of people who don’t give feedback to candidates as a general rule because it it so often goes poor.

    2. animaniactoo

      It was the framing – this wasn’t “I see. Would you mind letting me know what you think I need improvement in?” with an implicit, “I’m shutting up and going away, but am looking to improve myself for future and would appreciate for help on that.” The very phrase “discuss your concerns” along with pitching as a “great opportunity” (for who? why?) leaves the implication that this is a maneuver to try and address those concerns and be back in the running for *this* position.

      1. John

        Op#4 here. I phrased it as “great opportunity” for both of us because those are words she used in the phone interview. I wanted to use similar wording that has already been said.

        1. MillersSpring

          Yeah, but the hiring manager was rejecting your candidacy. Even if she’d used the words “great opportunity” during the process or interview, the “opportunity” is over after they reject your candidacy. It was tone deaf of you then to say that it was a great opportunity to discuss concerns. They’re done with you, and while you could *maybe* get advice for the future, it’s no longer an opportunity for them. Let it go.

    3. BRR

      If you’ve made it to an in person interview or final round you can ask for feedback. You just phrase it like thanks for the time and I was wondering if you might be able to provide any feedback for when I pursue other opportunities going forward.

    4. Op4

      Thank you for all your comments. It’s been tough for me to get in this company. I’ve had two in person interviews with 3 phone interviews for various positions. There might be additional positions in the future.

    5. MK

      As others said, it’s the phrasing. When you ask for feedback, you are asking them to do you a favor, and your phrasing should reflect that you understand that.

      1. Chocolate Teapot

        I remember that my copy of Great Answers to Tough Interview questions has a whole chapter on how to get a rejection reconsidered. It seemed to think that it was merely oversight on the part of the interviewer, and with a persuasive phone call, it was easy to get a second interview, and job offer.

        I tried it once and it didn’t work.

        1. addlady

          Ha! So what happens if everyone calls? Does the interviewer say “Sorry guys, I didn’t realize how awesome you all were! Let’s make a brand new department for all of you”?

    6. RG

      80% of the time, when I get this question from candidates, there isn’t anything they could have done, at least not in the short term. The candidates who ask (usually people we haven’t even interviewed, or who only got a phone screen) are almost always the ones who don’t have enough experience in the specific areas we’re hiring for. It’s never what anyone wants to hear, though, because it’s not something that’s immediately controllable (and because everyone always thinks they’re the exception, and will be able to learn the skills quickly without any experience).

  18. Anna

    We used to have the light timer problem in my old office. My coworker tried to solve it by getting one of those perpetual motion desk toy thingies. He could never figure out a place to actually put it, but maybe the idea would work better in your space. If you can put it on a high stool or something in the line of “sight” of the sensor, I think it would work.

  19. Collarbone High

    I used to live in an apartment with motion sensors, and I worked from home. Typing and mouse-clicking wasn’t enough motion to trigger the lights, so I kept a basket of rolled-up socks on my desk and would throw one when the lights went out. It was kind of therapeutic.

    (Even worse, the bathroom had a sensor and the eye couldn’t ‘see’ into the shower, so when my shower hit the 10-minute mark — I have long, thick hair, so they always do if I’m washing my hair — I’d be plunged into darkness and have to stick a wet arm outside the shower curtain and wave it until the light came back on. Forget about taking a relaxing bath.)

  20. OP 2

    Thank you for answering my question. I figured I didn’t really have ground to do anything, but it makes me feel a lot better to hear it from you. :(

  21. Moonsaults

    About the boss who refuses to pay for the ad space they took up.

    This is an accounting issue that I understand all too well. There are a couple set ups for accounting and I’m not sure how your boss has his set up. If he’s signing checks personally or if he’s having a bookkeeper/accountant do it for him, if he’s authorizing everything personally, etc.

    As a liaison between the company and these groups, it sounds like you’re running the in between route and you’re not actually in accounts payable? That’s their mix up, they need to be talking to whomever is in charge of payables, not their representative…you are the go between gatekeeper that is either put there on purpose or perhaps it’s just how the chips fell in this case. As a bookeeper, I don’t talk to my reps, I call and talk to the person in charge of payments. I know you’re being helpful but most bookeepers aren’t going to deny another call from a bookkeeper of another company, if you know what I’m saying?

    1. OP 2

      He has one woman in charge of paychecks and expenses and things like that. He authorizes everything, at the end of the week I send my timesheet to him and he okays it and forwards it to her. I CC’d her on the email I sent to my boss letting him know the nonprofit still hasn’t received their money, so she’s aware that the check hasn’t made it.

      1. animaniactoo

        I think Moonsault’s point is that you should do whatever you can to tell the other company to stop having their rep going through you/your boss, and just have their bookkeeper/accounts receivable chasing your bookkeeper/accounts payable directly. Because that might have a better shot of getting them their payment.

      2. Moonsaults

        Ah so what you should do when you leave isn’t give the company your bosses contact info but say ‘Our bookkeeper is Sally, here’s her direct contact.”

        Believe me, when you’re getting things forwarded to you, it’s less important than when that charity starts calling with the “Hey check isn’t here yet, how are we going to fix it?” They’re using you as a go-between and that’s not helping them because the ‘notes’ keep getting lost.

  22. MissDisplaced

    #1:
    My office also did this and it was really annoying. It was because my dual monitors blocked the sensor.
    Call your office’s maintenance and place the work order to have the light sensor changed to a regular switch or timer.
    If that’s not an available option, you can always get a handyman service or some such to come and do this for a minimal fee (seriously, it will take only a few minutes). This is not a terribly difficult fix.

  23. GertietheDino

    Several years ago, this is how I was fired. My manager wasn’t very effective and this is the route he took. Couldn’t even look me in the eye.

  24. TallHobbit

    With regard to question #1: is your manager Dwight Schrute? Because this was definitely a subplot in an episode of the Office…

    I second looking into OSHA or other regulations that might compell your employer to take this more seriously. It does sound like it could be dangerous and it should be a priority for your manager.

  25. Mirage

    My office has those motion lights too and they drive me nuts! Ours is around the corner from my desk so it’s not even a matter of me moving my arms or anything to get it to turn on. I have to physically walk around to the sensor for it to notice me and it’s a good 30 feet from my desk. I work weekends and there’s only 2 of us in the office, so if we get really engrossed in what we’re doing it really sucks because suddenly the lights will go out and one of us has to go get up, walk over to the sensor and turn the lights on again.
    I’ve complained to HR (who does our building maintenance as well) and they basically said “too bad”. We’ve been trying to brainstorm ways to have something in front of it at all times to keep it on but keep coming up empty. We want to do something that costs nothing, and there are no fans in my office (a million heaters but no fans).
    Starting to think I might go on ebay or something and buy one of those birds that drink the water and move all of the time, and pile that on a ton of books or something.
    The situation is incredibly annoying!

    1. CM

      This sounds like one of those things where when you tell somebody about it, they’re like, who cares, just get out of your seat once in a while, but when it happens to you and the lights are constantly turning off, it drives you insane. I like the balloon idea above, or could you have some sort of pendulum attached to the ceiling? Maybe even just a tennis ball attached to a ribbon, and every time somebody walks by, they can give it a push?

  26. Wacky

    Op#4-You are already looking for another position at that company? You sound like you never take no for an answer. You don’t sound like someone easy to work with. I see “insubordinate” red flags here.

  27. specialist

    I love the automatic thing that waves. That is truly a great solution. I’d get a back up, a high-end nerf gun. And I would leave the ammo laying around.

  28. Matt

    #3: the letter reading part reminds me of prison movies with the warden reading the death sentence to the inmate in the electric chair.

    1. Petronella

      Yes, it kind of rubbed me the wrong way too. Maybe the LW is rigid and procedure-based (an impression I got as well from the letter), maybe he/she did something really egregious to get fired, but still surely they deserve the minimal respect of their employer looking them in the eye and speaking to them directly? If I got fired in that manner it would make me more likely to get angry and cause a scene – something that I presume is what employers are trying to avoid at all costs.

  29. Rainbows and Bunnies

    I had the same problem with the office light going on and off all day, and it drove me absolutely INSANE. It would make a loud click as it went off too, so it was very distracting and nerve wracking.

    I called building maintenance, and when I asked them to get over here and rip this switch out and put a normal one in, they told me that the energy saving lights were a city regulation. I don’t know if I believe that, but whatever.

    I went to the dollar store and bought a fan, then one of those solar motion sensored thingys that move back and forth, neither worked.

    I finally decided it was time for a stand up desk. I re-oriented my desk towards a different wall, and built a stand-up desk from an IKEA hack website. Now I move around more, and my light has not gone off even once since then.

  30. A-Non-Manager

    Interesting: you say it’s pushy to open the discussion for any concern on his/her candidacy, but a lot of coaches, blogs, and even managers say if it is in fact your “dream job” or a function your invested in performing you should ask what could make your candidacy stronger. If not for that particular company, further pursuing that position or line of work. How else would you suggest the rejected candidate go about this? Simply move on? I work with a lot of senior executives who give that same advice to out interns and part-time employees. I’d love to tell them suggestions of better advice if hiring managers actually see the candidate is being pushy an annoying.

    Otherwise OP4, definitely accept the gesture as genuine but keep looking. I think she gave you pretty solid feedback.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      The OP wants to reopen the discussion on this particular job. It’s fine to ask for feedback for the future if you make it clear you’re not trying to push to be reconsidered for the original job.

  31. CoffeeandCats

    #1…there’s an episode of Better off Ted where some of the employees can’t be seen by the light sensor, only there’s also controls whether the doors lock or open. Your tale reminded me of this. This show was only on a short time, so I don’t know if anyone else even remembers it, but thought it was humorous none the less.

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