I found a bedbug at work, my bosses spend a half hour at early morning meetings on small talk, and more

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

1. I found a bedbug at work

So recently, I found a bedbug crawling on me at my workplace. As a result of it actually being found on my person, I was forced to leave work until I had a home inspection done proving I didn’t have bedbugs at home. I was told that this would be unpaid time off. I have since had my home inspected and, no surprise here, I don’t have bedbugs. My question is: is this normal workplace procedure? To force an employee to leave and not return until they can prove either they don’t have bedbugs or that the bedbugs have been eliminated at home? And if your home is found clean, can I do anything to recoup my lost wages?

I honestly don’t know what normal procedure is for this; I’ve never dealt with it. But it certainly seems really unfair that you’d need to lose money for something that you had nothing to do with. I certainly get why they want to make sure people aren’t bringing bedbugs to work, but if they’re going to require a home inspection on such flimsy grounds, they should send you an inspector who they pay for and pay you for the time off (which hopefully should only be a day or two, if they can find an inspector who will show up quickly). And I certainly hope they’re having the office itself inspected (and treated if necessary) now that a bedbug has turned up there.

I think you can reasonably try saying, “The fact that I was the one to find a bedbug at work only means they’re in the office; it doesn’t indicate they came from me, which is backed up by the inspector’s findings that my home is free of them. Given that the bug was only on me because I was at work, I’d like to request that the wages I lost during those three days be repaid to me. I’m already out the money from the inspector, and it doesn’t seem right that being the first witness of the bugs in the office would mean such a large financial loss for me.” They may or may not agree to that, but it’s a reasonable thing to ask for.

More broadly, people with more experience dealing with this at work, how have you seen it handled well (or not so well)?

2. My bosses spend the first half hour of early morning meetings on small talk

I have a couple bosses who are very social and outgoing. They talk about non-work stuff a lot, which is generally fine, but every Monday we have a meeting the first thing in the morning. I am in a different time zone, so I have to attend very early in the morning on the first day after the weekend. It’s work so I am okay with it, of course, except we only start talking in the meeting about actual work about 30-45 minutes into the meeting. The first half hour is just water cooler talk about sports, what happened in the news, or any other topic with zero relevance to work. They are very talkative and and I’m on the other end of the phone, which means I can’t get a word in edgewise and I have no input at all into the conversation. So I basically get up really early to listen to other people talk about nothing for a half hour, when I could be getting another half hour of sleep.

Is it acceptable to start showing up late to these meetings? Or do you have any other idea how to handle this? I know for sure that they would respond negatively if I asked them outright or asked them get down to business sooner? Not sure if it matters, but they are about 10 years older than me and obviously get to decide whether I keep working here. My quality of work is good and we get along in other ways, although we probably wouldn’t be friends outside of work.

Don’t just start showing up late. They may not realize how long they spend doing this, and so you’ll just look like you’re suddenly showing up late with no particular reason. Instead, at the end of the next meeting, say this: “Hey, as you know, I’m calling in at 5 a.m. my time for these meetings. I’ve noticed that typically the first half hour of the meetings are spent catching up on news and personal stuff. Since I’m getting up so early to make these calls, would it be okay if I joined at 5:30 instead of 5? If I’m not needed for the first part of the call, it would be great to be able to call in a little later.”

3. Should I tell my boss about the personal financial info I learn as the staff accountant?

I am the accountant for a small nonprofit of about a dozen people, and I handle HR as well. As the financial and HR person for the organization, I am involved, whether I want to be or not, in a lot of intimate details of my staff’s financial lives. No one currently has any garnishments, but if they did I would know because I’d have to process them with their payroll. I have to process any alimony and child support from people’s checks, and I also handle any calls from bill collectors, reference checkers for financial matters, etc. Granted, this rarely happens so it’s not a burden or a huge deal, but is an occasional issue.

I’ve always treated these issues as private and kept them between me and the employee. Should I be notifying my boss if I know or suspect that an employee is having financial difficulty? I certainly don’t want to embarrass my staff in any way, but I also don’t want to not provide my boss with information that he may need, if this is something he may need. As a former manager yourself, is this information you would want about your employees?

None of the staff I am referring to are in charge of the organization’s finances, so any financial issues they are having personally are not a concern for the organization’s financial well-being.

Nope, do not report that kind of thing to your boss. That’s private information that your boss doesn’t have any need to know about, and it would likely feel like a real violation to anyone who found out you’d shared it, even upwards.

You don’t need to be cagey about it if it comes up in a work-relevant way (like if your boss is reviewing payroll and is unsure about the reason for one of these deductions, you wouldn’t refuse to tell him on privacy grounds) but there’s no need to for him to know or for you to report it beyond that kind of thing.

4. “Compensation cannot be discussed until after the next interview is completed”

I am having a somewhat bizarre experience with a company not wishing to divulge what they pay (not even a range) until some further step, over and over. I have completed my fourth interaction with the company, and when I asked about pay she stared in my eyes and repeated, “Compensation cannot be discussed until after the next interview is completed.”

In essence, is this a legitimate business strategy that I don’t understand? Why waste everyone’s time if the pay may not even be worth it? I’m already leaning on a “no” simply because I’d have to go in for yet another interview. It’s just a bank teller.

It’s not uncommon for companies not to discuss pay until very late in the process — but presenting it as a policy (“compensation cannot be discussed”) that she has no control over is obnoxious. And of course, the practice itself is obnoxious too — common, but obnoxious. After multiple interviews, it gets even more obnoxious, since it’s not reasonable for them to ask you to keep investing time without giving you the chance to make sure you’re in the same ballpark on salary.

5. Company wants me to extend my end date

About two months ago, I was taken on as a temporary one-month consultant, while the organization finds someone for the permanent staff position. They took me on with the intention of possibly hiring me, and encouraged me to apply for the permanent position. My original contract ended, but they weren’t ready to hire yet at that point and asked I extend my contract another month.

Now throughout this whole time, no one gave any indication of whether I would be hired or not, and they continued to interview people for the permanent position. Throughout all this, I continued to apply and interview for other jobs, since the permanent position wasn’t guaranteed and I needed to keep my options open.

Last week I was offered another job that is an absolute dream opportunity, with great benefits and fits much better with where I am in my career at the moment. I told my current employer that since my contract was coming to an end, I accepted another great job and would rescind the application for the permanent position. This wasn’t received well. Now my contract technically ends this week, but I’ve gotten a lot of push back to stay for as long as possible until they find someone for the permanent position. They even said they were planning on hiring me, but needed to go through the full recruitment procedure of interviewing others and that’s why I hadn’t been hired permanently yet. They offered to match the other offer, and I tried to politely decline. My new job wants me to start in two weeks, but I also want to make sure a take a few days for myself in between jobs. I’m willing to extend my contract here for a few days to finish up some pieces of work, but I know I will get push back to stay even longer while they fill the position since there’s no one else to do the job.

I don’t want to burn any bridges here, but I gave them ample time to hire me up until the end of my contract. How do I stand firm and tell them of my final day and that I can only extend my contract for a few days even though it’s not ideal for them? And am I in the wrong here? Should I be giving them the full extended time they seek from me?

You have to just say it, and believe that it’s 100% your prerogative and not rude in any way. It is normal — very, very normal. Say it this way: “Because of my start date with the new job, I’m not able to extend my last day here beyond the end of our contract.” And if they push, you just say, “I’m sorry, I can’t.”

And by the way, they’re being unreasonable in expecting that you’ll stay until they hire someone else. They might have expected you to give a standard two weeks notice, but they had you on a contract that was set to end in less time that than. Contracts go both ways — if they weren’t willing to commit for longer than that, they can’t reasonably expect you to, regardless of what unwritten promises they had made to you.

{ 373 comments… read them below }

  1. WhiteBear*

    1.) Also mention the fact that punishing employees by docking their pay for reporting bedbug sightings at work may negatively impact morale, and discourage other employees from reporting more bedbug sightings for fear the same could happen to them. This could cause the problem to be ignored for as long as possible and could end up being very costly to the company.

    1. Fiona the Lurker*

      I totally agree with this. The employer has a great opportunity to handle this sensibly and set a template for the future; if they botch it this time, other staff are going to be less willing to report problems in the future for fear of being penalised. This is a great example of shooting the messenger just because you didn’t like the message.

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        The issue now is the the employer’s facility is known to have bedbugs. They need to treat their facility. And, if an employee brings those bedbugs home, then the company has liability. The employer needs to deal with this immediately.

      2. OP*

        OP here… That’s exactly what my co-workers and I were thinking. That next time, we will just dispose of the thing ourselves and not say anything. We are hourly workers and me personally, I just got back to work from having knee surgery. I can’t afford not to be able to work right now!

        1. AJ*

          Don’t dispose of them. Try to gather a nice little collection and put them in office of the brainbox who thought docking employees’ pay like this was acceptable.

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Yes, exactly! Even if there ARE bedbugs in an employee’s home, if that employee knows that having bedbugs means losing wages, that’s an incentive to be quiet about it and potentially bring them to the office.

    3. Joseph*

      “discourage other employees from reporting more bedbug sightings for fear the same could happen to them”
      Um, yeah. Let’s think this through:
      1.) OP reported bedbugs.
      2.) OP was forced to take unpaid time off and pay out of her own pocket for an inspector.
      3.) The inspector found that OP is not the source of the bedbugs.
      So the real source of the potential infestation has not been found – but you just clearly discouraged everybody from reporting more. This seems…counterproductive if your goal is to prevent an infestation.

      1. Chicken*

        Yep, this exactly. This is the ideal way to ensure that no one reports bedbugs in the future. If I was your coworker and found another bedbug, I might privately pay to have my own home inspected but I sure wouldn’t mention it to anyone at work.

        1. Lisa*

          I would mention it mainly, because I wouldn’t want the infestation to get bigger and accidentally have new roommates that multiply like crazy, and take 3-4 times to kill off using steam method $1000 – $1500 – which really never gets them out anyway as they seem to just keep moving. Heat method is very expensive, but most effective – but can kill your electronics and damage your home )$2000 – $5000. Then once they are killed – you have to find them and remove them – bag all clothes, fabrics, toss some furniture depending on what it is. Its a nightmare – call the board of health and tell them bedbugs were found at your building and management is choosing not to exterminate. It all sounds like they want to blame you and not get an exterminator. The heat method can be done over a weekend, and would prevent contamination to and from homes – encourage your bosses to nip this problem NOW.

          1. Case of the Mondays*

            I wish cities would set aside public health money for eradicating bed bugs. The average citizen does not have a $5,000 emergency fund, sadly. Bed bugs are more common in places people move around a lot and that tends to be lower income housing. They are just going to proliferate if not properly eradicated. Rather than seeing it as the tenant or landlord’s problem, the city should just treat it as a public health problem and handle the extermination.

              1. OhNo*

                Agreed! I wish cities would treat it this way. I have a feeling that would cut a lot of infestations off before they have a chance to spread.

                1. Lisa*

                  I wish condo boards would use HOA fees to treat the entire building vs. just single apartments paid for by owners. We have had 4 apartments that just keep infecting each other. All stacked on each other where the pipes, heating, holes are so the bedbugs just keep moving up and down, but each block of connecting 4 apartments is at least concrete surrounded and it hasn’t spread to the hallways – but it still could.

                  Treat the hallways any time an apartment is found to have them.

            1. Natalie*

              While I don’t mean to downplay how annoying bed bugs are, the fact is that they are not much a public health risk. They do not transmit any diseases and, unless you’re allergic to them, don’t really harm people any more than many other bugs. They are absolutely a nuisance, no doubt about that, but our public health dollars are better spent IMO.

                1. Kix*

                  I spent a year in a public health assignment in Tallahassee and in my off hours was constantly love bombed by palmetto bugs, LOL

              1. Sarah*

                As someone who has actually had bedbugs, I really, really, REALLY disagree. The bites are of…another world. It’s not like a mosquito bite or chigger bite, AT ALL. It’s a hard lump that feels like fiberglass is embedded under your skin, CONSTANTLY. Cortisone creams barely help. I feel like a lot of people get some bug bites and are like “must be bed bugs!” but they are not.

                One of my exes had an apartment infestation that the management would not take care of, and it was a miserable nightmare for so many months. I would say bed bugs aren’t as bad as people think, in the realm that they aren’t these tiny, invisible microscopic bugs hiding on every piece of furniture/clothing waiting to leap out. But they can very easily become a huge problem from a small problem and I would argue their bites are a public health issue (the same way, if like wasps started infesting places and stinging people, it would also be a public health issue).

                1. M-C*

                  Let me second that. People’s immune systems are different, but I know I’m not unusual in getting 8″ welts that itch like crazy and hurt for 2+weeks from each bite. You can imagine what that looks like, on top of the feelings. I never use insecticides, but I sprayed my bed in this case, as well as boiled the entire household. If someone else found a bedbug at work, and especially if they turned out not to be the source of them, I’d be looking for another job immediately.

              2. mm*

                as someone who spent two months on two rounds of prednisone due to the insane itching and scratching and pain, no.


              3. Candi*

                They may not be known as transmitters of disease, but they do carry disease-causing organisms.

                A healthy person will be plagued enough by the welts and pain from the vicious bites. But what about the immunocompromised? Those who have to be cautious about even the least contact with normal pathogens because they could become severely ill or hospitalized? All they need is to have their home infected by a neighbor’s.

                Yes, that’s a fairly rare mix of circumstances. But it can happen, and it is within reach of current resources to prevent it.

      2. Chriama*

        I wonder if phrasing it like this would make a lot of sense to them. Even if they don’t feel like paying OP for the time off, if the implication is that whoever actually brought the bedbugs in is now not willing to say anything, maybe they’ll grudgingly give in.

    4. Case of the Mondays*

      I would think if you are salaried and worked part of the week, they have to pay you and can’t dock you. If you are hourly, maybe you could try to phrase this as retaliation for reporting a workplace condition issue?

    5. TootsNYC*

      People forget about disincentivation.

      My co-op apartment’s board of directors decided that if you lose your keys, you have to pay to have the whole building rekeyed, and you have to pay to replace everybody’s keys. These are expensive magnetic keys, so you’re talking easily $1,000.

      One of the directors pointed out, “This will just encourage people to never say anything. Or to lie about what happened to their key when they ask for a replacement.”

      The rest of them didn’t care; they outvoted him and me.
      And now they’ve pissed me off in other ways, so you can be sure I’m not going to be jumping to tell them if my purse gets stolen again–I’ll just wait and see what happens.

      1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

        My old company had a ridiculous replacement fee for our cards, so people would wait months trying to see if they could find their lost card, rather than reporting it right away and having their card shut off.

      2. MilesofMountains*

        That is exactly what happened with me as a student: I lost one of my keys and my lease said if that happened I’d have to get the whole building re-keyed. There was no way I could afford it, so I told the landlord that I dropped it in a lake so I wouldn’t have to pay. I actually have no idea where it went.

      3. TootsNYC*

        For the co-op, it’s especially annoying, because the real way to deal with it would be to have insurance cover it. But it’s such a small expense that having “self-insurance” would be far smarter. 10 apts * $100 = $1,000 in the pot to cover everybody. Heck, the board has been charging us a little more money per key than the keys actually cost.

    6. Rick*

      The company should have it in their best interests to pay for the bed bug inspection. Otherwise, they have no idea if the inspection is any good.

      Having the OP pay for the inspection is like a home seller paying for the home inspection. There’s a reason the buyer always pays (at least in the US).

    7. OP*

      Apparently this has been an issue for far longer than I know of. But my company doesn’t even handle it the right way. I was informed today that they brought in the dogs to find the bed bugs and they sniffed the area I was sitting in and didn’t locate any so they didn’t spray and that they didn’t sniff our whole floor just the one area!

      1. Lisa*

        Bed bugs don’t go away by spraying pesticides that are legal, only extreme heat and steam get rid of them.

    8. OP*

      Apparently this has been an issue for far longer than I know of. But my company doesn’t even handle it the right way. I was informed today that they brought in the dogs to find the bed bugs and they sniffed the area I was sitting in and didn’t locate any so they didn’t spray and that they didn’t sniff our whole floor just the one area!

      1. Candi*

        What the actual [unprofessional language]. You check at least the whole dang floor -as in floors of the building!

  2. Mike C.*

    Now my contract technically ends this week,

    Unless there is a provision for extending it, this isn’t some minor technicality. Alison was nice and professional about this, but I’m going to be blunt:

    If they wanted you, they would have hired you already. That excuse about “procedures” is more than likely a load of crap. That they haven’t hired you isn’t some mark against you, but you fulfilled your part of the contract in their time of need. Instead of shaking your hand and wishing you well, they are pushing you to keep working as their placeholder for how long? Another week? A month? Six? All the while you’ll be wondering why you haven’t been hired for the job you’re already performing until it dawns on you that you’re now a permatemp.

    Screw that, the fact that you were already looking shows that you’re smarter than that. Yeah, you may to have to worry about burned bridges, but only because your soon to be forever employer will be the ones who set fire to them, not you.

    Other than that, congrats on finding a new position so quickly! Make sure you get those days off in between to clear your head and prepare for the challenges ahead.

    1. Red In SC*

      I agree, this isn’t the LW burning the bridges.

      And really, unless this is some government type of position where they really do have these very strange regulations about hiring and interviewing, a company can do anything. They could say, we love your work, have the job. Or if they want to compare you to other candidates, then do an open recruitment. But really, I think the LW should leave at the end of the contract and not feel guilty at all.

      1. MK*

        In any case, even if policies do require that X number of candidates be considered, they would have kept you in the loop, not leave you wondering what’s going on. And it’s highly suspicious that they are suddenly saying they definitely would have hired you, now that you are leaving.

        1. SophieChotek*

          I agree with that. Suddenly they want the LW, since so far their other candidates have not matched up. (But presumably the LW is not up to their “imagined perfect candidate”, until suddenly they lose the LW.) Just my sarcastic thoughts.

          LW congrats on new job – go for it and like everyone says, work the end of you contract and no more. Take that time off you need.

        2. Mike B.*

          Yes! This is the risk you take when you aren’t transparent with people. They wouldn’t have been guaranteed to keep the OP if they had told her earlier that they were planning to hire her (though they should have just hired her once she demonstrated that she could do the job), but she would probably have been more casual about the job search with that in mind.

        3. CMT*

          This reminds me of an ex-boyfriend, who when I dumped him said, “but I was looking at engagement rings!” No, you weren’t, and that is a manipulative thing to say.

          1. Snazzy Hat*

            Good thing he wasn’t, since he would have realized he wasted his money when you said “absolutely not, you jackass” to his proposal. >_<

    2. JM in England*


      At the end of the day, you have to look after your own interests first. As others have said, you’ve held up your end of the contract and thus owe this employer no loyalty whatsoever…………….

    3. Cambridge Comma*

      It may be true that if they wanted to hire OP, they would have done so, but it may also be that they believed that OP would wait around until they deigned to decide. Many employers don’t realise that their employees have other options and that they are competing with other employers for good employees.
      A similar thing happened to me when I took on a short term contract after grad school to avoid unemployment. I asked at halfway through the contract and again a few weeks before it expired whether they would be interested in renewing it or whether I should look elsewhere. They said they would decide the day before the contract expired. The day before the contract expired, they came to me with a permanent contract, said they were incredibly pleased with my work and desperately wanted me to stay and were shocked when I didn’t want to sign up because I had found another, better job that paid twice as much. They thought that I would be waiting around to suit them permanently. They also thought that I would wait around for 3 months so that they could find someone else, but I didn’t.
      OP, you can leave at the end of your contract with a completely clear conscience.

      1. Rebecca Anne*

        I remember working on a contracting basis. Most places it was fine, got to the end of the contract and left, or got significantly through the contract and it was renewed. There was one employer however who I was contracted to work with for 6 months. At the end of 6 months, they asked me to stay on another month, so I did. And then another month, and another.

        It got to the stage at the end where I honestly didn’t know until I was leaving on Friday whether they wanted me back in on Monday. I had no way to plan my vacation, no financial security. It was a week extension each time so I couldn’t even plan for interviews.

        I was contracted to work for 6 months, and ended up staying for 16 months before I finally called it quits. That was up there with my list of bad employment related things (but not in the top 3)!

        1. Unegen*

          I call this the “Dread Pirate Roberts” maneuver:
          “Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.” Three years later….

          1. Unegen*

            Ugh, and again I hit post before completing a thought.

            I meant it’s like that line from the Princess Bride. The employer basically refuses to tell you whether you’re going to have a job tomorrow, next week, next month…but they don’t let you go, either, you’re just in a nebulous spot.

              1. catsAreCool*

                Cary Elwes’ book “As you wish” is in CD form now, and he’s the one reading it! And other people from the movie read bits here and there.

        2. JM in England*

          One of my early jobs ended up being a weekly rolling contract. Therefore, I had an extra reason to dread Monday mornings………….Ugh!!

      2. Xarcady*

        My story is that I was hired for a state job, as a temp in a permanent position. There was a hiring freeze, so they couldn’t hire anyone permanently for a while. My job would get extended for 6 months, then 9 months, a year. I worked there for 4 years. Finally, they were able to permanently fill the position.

        I applied. One other person applied. He got the job.

        But my contract was for another 3 months, so I was expected to work those 3 months. The new guy wasn’t starting for 2 months, and then I was supposed to train him for a month and then leave.

        People were pretty upset when, two weeks after I heard about the new guy being hired, I gave two weeks notice, having found a very nice job. Two of the people who were on the hiring committee that didn’t hire me were the most upset, because they were the co-workers who would now have to take turns staying at the library until midnight 6 nights a week, covering my hours as Evening Supervisor.

        I was told I couldn’t leave. That I had to stay. That I was acting unprofessionally.

        Nope. Double Nope.

        1. Whats In A Name*

          This is just crappy. You were good enough for 4 years but not good enough for permanent. Sorry that happened to you but you 100% did the right thing. But you already know that part!

          1. MK*

            But the question wasn’t whether Xarcady was good enough, but whether they were better than the other candidate. What exactly would you suggest the hiring committee should do, if he were better qualified and with more experience? Ignore who was better for the job and give the job as a prize for staying the course? This would only be fair if the temp in question had been promised the permanent position.

            1. KellyK*

              Not hiring him isn’t the problem. The problem is expecting him not to look for other employment and leave as soon as he finds it, and believing that training the new person they chose to hire is somehow his problem.

              1. MK*

                If there is no contract or it has run out, like in the OP’s case, I absolutely agree. But it’s not unreasonable to expect someone who has a fixed-term contract (which is how I read Xarcady’s case) to stay for the contracted time.

            2. Jerry Vandesic*

              There’s always someone better. None of us would have any job security if our employers were willing to replace us with someone that would be slightly better employee. The reason it usually isn’t an issue is that onboarding new employees takes time and effort, as Xarcady’s employer found out.

              1. MK*

                I don’t think that’s relevant in the context of a temp job, where you know for a fact that there is a time limit to your employment.

                1. Anna*

                  Xarcady’s time limit was 4 years. That’s a little beyond the “temp” timeline. By about 3 years and 11 months, I’d say.

                2. MK*

                  I don’t know if you are being sarcastic, but the time line they agreed to, with an actual contract, seems to have been 3 months longer than they in fact stayed.

                3. Mike B.*

                  Yeah, there are several people I’ve hired as temps for decent lengths of time, and would consider having back, but whom I’d prefer not to hire if better candidates can be found. For instance, one extremely competent editor refuses to rely on her own judgement and asks for guidance on even simple issues–that’s worth putting up with when we need a qualified interim cover for a few weeks or months, but under no circumstances would I want to deal with holding someone’s hand on a permanent basis.

                  But I wouldn’t do that to someone in a temp-to-perm situation.* I once took a job like that, three months of admin work with the expectation of a permanent editorial post at the end. But when my contract was up, I was told that I’d tested poorly (something that has not happened in any of my job applications since) and that they were instead considering me for a more junior, lower paid role after another contract extension. As I’d given up a permanent job with benefits and a much shorter commute for this place, I was not thrilled. At least they were not surprised or upset when I ended the new contract early to take the job I’d been trying to get for a year.

                  I’m not fond of the bait-and-switch, wherein you’re given a temp job with the promise of a staff position, do your job well over a long period, and then get shown the door when a superstar appears and thanks you for keeping his seat warm.

                  *We did decline to hire someone in that situation once, but for performance issues that emerged in her first two weeks with us. She ended up leaving me a nasty review on Glassdoor, which made me feel better about not having kept her.

          2. Chriama*

            You know, I kind of get things from the company’s perspective. They had this person in the role because it was either that or no one. But then they were free to hire, did an interview with full intention of hiring the incumbent, and the other candidate somehow met their needs better. Their only error was in assuming that the temp would adhere to their timeline. Knowing that their contract wasn’t going to get extended and that they had lost their opportunity for a permanent position, why assume that they would stay just to meet your convenience? That part was unreasonable.

        2. CheeryO*

          Yeah, we have that happen fairly often in certain positions at my state agency. To add insult to injury, the temp positions are several pay grades lower than the permanent positions, for the same exact work. Most of the people in those positions have the full support of their supervisor to keep job searching either within or outside of our agency until they can get something permanent. You definitely did the right thing in your situation, and it’s a shame no one had your back.

        3. MK*

          Eh, I am not sure I understand your indignation here? It sounds to me that you knew straight off the bat that there was a hiring freeze, so why did you stay for so long? Were they telling you that it was going to turn into a permanent position anytime soon? And did they promise to hire you when it was possible to do so? Unless so, I don’t think they did anything particularly wrong, if a better candidate came along.

          And if you actually did have a contract that stipulated you would work for them for X period of time, you did act unprofessionally by leaving early. And they might have sued you for breach of contract, though it would probably not have been worth the hassle.

        4. Lora*

          They are the ones acting unprofessionally – the generally accepted department of Labor rule of thumb is, temps are only temps for a year unless they are working for an extremely specific time-limited project (e.g. a construction project that will take two years to complete). If employers need them for longer than that, for whatever reason, and they CAN fill that job with a permanent worker, then they absolutely SHOULD make the employee permanent after a year. Otherwise the department of labor can very well decide that the company owes them $$$ to compensate for the benefits etc that they missed while they were temping, because the business had incorrectly classified the position.

          If someone is a temp or contractor it absolutely is unreasonable to expect them to stay a single day past the end of their contract. That’s the whole point of being a contractor, that you assume and plan for a contract ending and you have the ability to line up another contract (potentially with the employer’s direct competitors, potentially with the employer’s customers…) based on that end date. If you don’t want your contractors going to your competition or you don’t want your contractors to know how the sausage is made and then tell your customers about it, then probably that should be a permanent role rather than a contractor.

          1. HardwoodFloors*

            +10000 A temp position should never have the same person working in it for more than a year. Unfortunately companies have policies where they let go that person and hire another temp for a year.

            1. Snazzy Hat*

              One of my coworkers at my last job got a new job elsewhere. When we were talking about her exciting new opportunity, she revealed she had been a temp for over three years and seen external hires come in above her. All I knew was that she was a temp. I was one too. My morale dropped like a lead weight and all hopes of becoming a full employee went out the window.

            2. JM in England*

              Surely doing this costs more in the long run, as in the time and labour costs of onboarding the new temp? Makes no sense to terminate someone who already knows the job and company culture, thus making this practice a false economy……………

        5. Serafina*

          “I was told I couldn’t leave. That I had to stay. That I was acting unprofessionally.”

          LOL! Did you invite them to consult the US Constitution, specifically the amendment which outlawed slavery, in response to their assertion that you couldn’t leave? *snerk* Why, yes, as a matter of fact, you could, and good on you for doing it!

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I’m sure you didn’t intend this meaning, but this is a wildly inappropriate invocation of the 13th amendment/slavery, particularly because there are thousands of people living under “modern slavery” in the U.S. (and that doesn’t include forced prison labor, which is exempted from the prohibition against slavery).

            I’m not saying all contracts are inviolable and should be adhered to, but contracting for a position of paid employment for a fixed term—and leaving before that term expires—is world’s away from forced bondage/servitude. (I would also argue that while Xarcady’s contracting employer sound like jerks, without any additional details, it IS unprofessional to terminate a contract 3 months early).

    4. Colette*

      They may very well want to hire the OP but are working through budget issues, potential reorgs, or any number of other obstacles.

      But that doesn’t obligate the OP to wait around, and good manager will recognize that and wish her well.

        1. Chriama*

          I honestly think permatemping is often a matter of complacency as much as it is a deliberate strategy. They have someone in the role so don’t feel urgency to get a permanent position created, they’re fighting back with HR or management about budgets and pay grades while juggling their regular job duties, and they forget that this is a real person with real needs and a desire for stable employment.

        2. Mockingjay*

          Unfortunately permatemping gives employers the productivity of a permanent employee without the costs of benefits. It can be a profit motive.

        3. M-C*

          Totally agree with Mike C. These people pretend they can’t get it together to hire anyone in 2 months? The OP did well to flee, they would surely not be good long-term employers either.

        4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I generally agree, but I’ve also seen companies permatemp people who frequently filed unmeritorious lawsuits against their previous/prospective employers. So although many places use permatemping to avoid paying benefits or conducting an actual hiring search, some seem to do it to minimize their legal liability with adequate employees who are otherwise difficult.

      1. Whats In A Name*

        Yes, but in *most* cases like this they are saying to the person some variation of the following daily: “You are our person, we want you, we have to get through the red tape but the job is yours”

        1. Colette*

          I’ve been in that position, and hearing something like that daily would be odd. Maybe a comment every month or two that they’re working on it, but not daily and certainly not a guarantee, if they’re operating in good faith (because there’s no position until the red tape is dealt with).

      2. Newby*

        My sister was in a position like that once. She was promised a job but hired as a temp while they worked through their budget issues. She ended up getting a job elsewhere because they were taking too long to get everything in place to hire her. When she told them that she was leaving the finally offered her the permanent position but at that point she wanted nothing to do with them. Even if the company does fully intend to hire the temp, taking an unreasonable amount of time and refusing to put a timeline in place is a red flag that working for them might not be a good idea.

        1. Colette*

          It can be a sign that they’re disorganized or buerocratic. It can be a sign that there’s resistance at upper levels, or changes are coming to the company or group.

          But none of that means they’re operating in bad faith.

    5. Joseph*

      The key here is OP’s words: “Now throughout this whole time, no one gave any indication of whether I would be hired or not”. Even if they weren’t 100% sure if they’d want OP, if there was even a decent chance, they would have given her some positive reinforcement about “Yeah, you’re still in the running and we do like your work”, “Just wanted to say that while we’re interviewing others, you’re a front-runner”, and so on.
      Frankly, I’ll bet what’s going on here is that they fully expected OP to just be a warm body holding down the fort with no real intent to hire long-term (which is their option), then found the search process took much longer than they expected, and figured they could keep OP on until they found someone. But then OP gave her notice and they panicked. So by dragging on the contract and playing on the guilt, they’re just trying to buy time by keeping OP on the hook until they find someone they actually want to hire. At which point, they’ll tell OP to get out and don’t let the door slam on the way out.

      1. Gaara*

        Yeah, I don’t believe for a minute that they really planned to hire you, OP. They would have periodically told you how they felt you were a really strong candidate and still in the running — at the very least!

        I wouldn’t even extend your contract for a day. Their time to handle this was before your contract was ending and you accepted a job elsewhere.

        1. Violet*

          Hey, OP here. I just wanted to let you know that maybe once or twice they would update staff on the status of the position saying, “we’re going over candidates this week, but OP is still our top candidate.” I hadn’t heard this for about a month though, so I was unsure if they still felt this way after interviewing others.

          At the end of the day, it seems that they genuinely were planning on hiring me, and even told me that was their plan and they were just going through the motions of interviews. I feel bad for leaving, but this is an amazing opportunity I have ahead of me. It does bother me a little that it seems they expected me to be waiting around for them to hire me, however long it took.

          I did stand firm and give them an end date that would give me a 4 day weekend before my next job. I was hoping for more, but I didn’t want to deal with the push back and definitely still wanted to help the team. I figure it’s a nice compromise at least.

          1. Chriama*

            It’s definitely inconsiderate and I’m glad you’re still giving yourself time to rest before starting your new job. Hopefully your departure makes them less likely to pull this crap with future employees, though I wouldn’t hold my breath.

          2. Gaara*

            Why would they keep going through the motions if they were set on hiring you? It just… doesn’t make sense? It’s a waste of their time, and it’s inconsiderate to you and all the other candidates. Even if true, this says something really bad about how they handle things, at last unless they’re a government and there are some strict rules in place about hiring.

            Regardless, good for you for sticking to your guns but also trying to help them out.

          3. TootsNYC*

            But here’s one other thought:

            Taking a full-time job is a move that says, “I want to work with this company for quite a while now.”

            Do you really want to work with a company that can’t get its act together? Instead of this other company that enthusiastically made you a solid offer, and apparently CAN make a hiring decision effectively?

            And I think “compromise” is the WRONG word.

            You are doing them a HUGE favor by staying past the end of your contract. That’s a favor, not a compromise.

            1. Mike C.*

              I agree with all of this. It’s difficult when you’re right in the middle of the situation but you have to look out for yourself.

              1. M-C*

                And also, this company has been doing interviews but going through the motions. At the very least they’re being unfair to the interviewees. This doesn’t make them look any better, even if you abstract the shitty way they’ve treated the OP.

                Go enjoy your new job OP, don’t even give them an extra day. That’s what contracts are about, employers just tend to forget that they work both ways..

      2. Chriama*

        I’m most irritated/amused by the fact that they’re asking OP to extend her contract. Not offering her a permanent job, just more of the temp job. Who in their right mind would jeopardize a permanent position for a temp one?

          1. Happy Lurker*

            Yes, OP they showed you how they do business. Take this as the gift it is and run…you know this, that is why you have a new job (better job). Do not let these people (jerks) make you feel even slightly bad that you gave them 2 weeks notice. Put on your RBF and get out in your time-frame, not theirs.

    6. K.*

      Totally agree. You have to look out for your own best interests – no one is going to do it for you. Quit, make sure you do so in time to take those few days off (I’m a huge proponent of that!) and don’t feel guilty for a second. Don’t “try to politely decline;” decline firmly. And congrats on the new job!

    7. Jules*

      I agree. I work under contract for a while and when they needed me gone, I was let go. Did you think I could negotiate my end date? Would they even have considered it?

      It’s perfectly ok to leave. Be nice about it. But don’t be a door mat. Value your skills and move on to your dream job. Extend if you really want to. Otherwise, move on.

    8. TootsNYC*

      Now my contract technically ends this week,

      Unless there is a provision for extending it, this isn’t some minor technicality.

      Yeah, this is not a technicality.
      Your contract doesn’t “technically” end this week.

      It DOES end this week. It ENDS this week.

      Say politely, “I’m sorry, that doesn’t work for me. Good luck!” And leave leave leave.

      Inside, I think it’s OK for you to get a little mad. They’ve been stringing you along because they’re lame, and that was OK because it worked for you, since you didn’t have a different job.

      But now they want you to GIVE UP something of yours, so they can continue to string you along?

      Blow that popsicle stand!

    9. Lucky*

      I’d be tempted to respond:

      In the words of the great philosopher, Beyoncé, “if you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it.”

    10. Jaguar*

      Seriously. OP, you fulfilled your contract and you found a really good job. You don’t have any obligation here, regardless of the state of anything you were working on. They can ask you work longer or whatever, but they can’t reasonably expect anything out of you. Any pressure they put on you is totally unfair and you should mentally treat it as such.

    11. Liz*

      Well said. I moved across the country and got a great job starting as a contractor in a financial services place, very nice, very solid. I had been told they do long term contracts before hiring so at first it was fine. I did really well (though not a perfect mesh) and was consistently praised and told they completely planned to bring me on, but they had some restructuring to confirm first. But after 6 months, 1 year, year and a half…with no benefits and no paid time off as they continued to create and hire new positions in the division- I just needed to take care of me. Even as I handed in my notice they said they had hoped they could keep me but those are just words.

  3. LadyCop*

    OP #1. I used to work in a hotel, pretty high end at that. From time to time, bed bugs would show u0 because people brought them in. We would lock down the room until the room could be treated, but we as security and the engineers could access the room, and never did we have special procedures to make sure we weren’t contaminated… though, one bug is usually all about anyone could find.

    I could understand the employers side if there was greater evidence the employee had bedbugs at home….multiple bites, bugs etc… but one bug is not an infestation and can be easily transferred. I don’t know how much recourse the OP might have, but I would definitely try to talk to someone about it rationally.

    1. Wendy Darling*

      Personally I am completely incapable of talking about bedbugs without shrieking and hyperventilating… I think I would need a sedative. Or to do it through email.

      I can’t decide if my incredible freaked-outness re: bedbugs is a phobia because is it still a phobia if you’ve got a good point?

      1. Emma*

        It’s a phobia if it crosses over into being out of proportion or causes other issues, like significant distress or extreme avoidance. And, well, it’s possible to be phobic of spiders despite the very good point that spider bites can sometimes be fatal.

        Assiduously avoiding bedbugs is fine, but not even being able to talk about them is, yeah, kind of extreme, though it may or may not be an actual phobia. (Not judging. I’ve got my own Thing I Do Not Handle Well.)

      2. Gaara*

        I don’t think your point is that good, if it matters to the phobia question. They seem like a pain, but they’re not that big of a deal in comparison to so many things.

        1. Katniss*

          They’re way more than a pain. They can take months or more to get rid of and require you to throw out many items. I’ve known people who have had to throw out 90% of their belongings. Bedbugs can be prohibitively expensive. When I had them, I had it “easy”, but I still had to toss my bed and frame, some other furniture, and live with my clothing outside in bags for months.

          1. fposte*

            But the reactions to them aren’t based on that–there are even other critters that can cause similarly expensive damage that don’t elicit the same response. It’s more the psychological horror of bedbugs and their associations with pollution and taint that elicits the strong reactions. A dead tree hanging over your house may end up costing you into the five figures but it doesn’t make your skin crawl to contemplate.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Yeah, they suck your blood at night–creepy. They leave miserable bites too. Having bugs is a huge stigma as well, even though it doesn’t mean you’re dirty. They’ve proliferated on public transport, too, so if someone in the OP’s office travels on a train or a bus to work, they could have unwittingly brought them in from there.

            2. A Cita*

              I’m going to have to respectfully quibble with this a little (and I’ve had this page open for a while, so it’s possible that others have chimed in before I hit submit, so if so, apologize for any redundancy).

              Living in NYC and seeing first hand experiences, it’s less about the stigma of pollution and taint and more about the high level of easy transfer + the near impossibility of getting rid of them. Sure other bugs can potentially do just as bad damage (though I’d debate that), but bedbugs are nigh impossible to fully get rid of and are very easily transmitted, if you will. You spend a ton of money not only going through the process of pest elimination but also in loss of furniture, clothes, personal belongings–paying thousands of dollars you don’t have (especially in NYC)–only to find your infested again 6-12 months later.

              1. Candi*

                Termites and carpenter are high on the amount of damage they can cause, but they are very low on the transferable range. (Unless you pick up the light railroad ties when looking for decoration for your home in another state.)

                Bedbugs can cause a lot of pain, and humans prefer to avoid unnecessary, for very good reasons. So an infestation becomes a tossup between physical and financial pain, with potential relationship problems for good measure.

      3. Temperance*

        To me, that’s a completely rational reaction, but I have a phobia of bedbugs and cockroaches … to the point of me accidentally running into traffic to avoid a sidewalk roach and ending a friendship because someone with bedbugs invited us over to the their apartment.

        1. Mustache Cat*

          I don’t have a phobia and that would be a friendship-breaking moment. That’s just completely thoughtless.

          1. Temperance*

            I didn’t even share the worst part of it – they invited us over because they just had a baby and thought we would bring him a gift. (Which we would.) They suggested diapers.

          2. KellyK*

            Very. The only way it wouldn’t be a friendship ender for me is if they didn’t know yet, and even at that, I wouldn’t set foot in their place again.

            1. TootsNYC*

              I had a friend who told her post-college son he couldn’t come to her home because he wasn’t taking care of bedbugs at his place.

      4. Kittymommy*

        I don’t think I’ve ever really seen a bedbug. If I did I didn’t know it. They seem like they’re pretty horrible though. I have a phobia about roaches. Even though I think it’s reasonable to have some fear/issues with them, mines a true phobia. If I see one I start getting this crawling sensation all over me and stay scratching and clawing at my skin to get them off. Once I had a “friend” (coworker) decide to play a practical joke on me and throw a realistic looking fake one at me. My boss thought she was going to have to sedate me.

        1. Perse's Mom*

          Every time this comes up, I madly google what they look like and compare it against any bugs I’ve seen in my apartment, and now I know what a larder beetle looks like.

        2. A Non*

          People who think it’s funny to exploit someone’s phobia are the worst. I wish them a phobia and then being covered in said phobia.

    2. Lisa*

      Transfer usually happens in bags, as it takes maybe 20 – 30 steps for a bedbug to fall off a moving person. My building had them, but not my apartment. I wore sandals all the time, avoided the laundry room / didn’t take the elevator FOR A YEAR, and pinned the bottom of my pants and jeans 80s style. I would also do a little dance before getting into my car. Bed bug removal is expensive as hell, unless you have up to 5k lying around, you can’t be sure its taken care off – but every single item, piece of clothing needs to be screened and bagged during the steam / heat process. I became an expert on this – we got a dog inspection, since visually finding evidence is only usually when its a bigger infestation.

      1. Natalie*

        That’s a fairly extreme case. When I had them regular pest control treatment was just fine, for about $500. And it’s been years, so yes, I am sure it was taking care of.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, a friend just had them and that was more in line with what she paid. She did have to do the laundering bit and cleaning all the kids’ toys, which is a PITA. Her workplace just sprayed preventatively and put out traps to see if anything had made it into the office (nothing had).

          1. Natalie*

            It sucks, I absolutely agree with that. I’m just mystified by the reaction to bed bugs as though they were radioactive or something. I’ve lived in two houses infested with mice (and I mean actually infested, not “oh, I saw a mouse once!”) and that was 1,000 times worse than bed bugs. And I don’t live in an area with rats, but everything I know about rats is that they are the devil.

            Most of the negative fallout I experienced from bedbugs was from the social stigma and internet-induced fear.

            1. fposte*

              And I think that’s a pretty old stigma, so I suspect the internet just amplified it. Lice is another of those–it’s not even that expensive to deal with, but they still freak people out, because we’ve had decades of culture categorizing them as signs of filth.

              1. Natalie*

                Well, it wouldn’t be that old – for most of human history bugs were a routine part of daily life. I would imagine we didn’t get to a point where bugs weren’t to be expected until maybe the 20th century.

                1. fposte*

                  I think it’s varied, but yeah, 19th early 20th century is about what I was thinking–that’s the era where having/not having bugs becomes part of class distinction. So while I don’t mean prehistoric times, I think it predates the internet by quite a bit :-).

              2. Natalie*

                Also, I should clarify, the internet-induced fear that annoyed me wasn’t about dirtiness, it was what we’re seeing in this very thread – outsized panic about how I was going to have to spend thousands of dollars and burn all of my things, and then they would still probably pop up like Jason at the end of all those movies. I had to talk my then-boyfriend off the ledge *multiple times* and manage other people’s fear of being near us, because they were so afraid of the mythic impossibility of getting rid of bed bugs.

              3. Talvi*

                To be refectly honest, I’m more concerned about lice now than I used to be. Because now I know that lice are becoming more resistant to the shampoos that are supposed to kill them – they’re harder to get rid of today than they used to be :(

                1. Candi*

                  When I was living with my ex and his family (long long story), my parents-in-law’s youngest daughter kept bringing home lice from a girl whose parents refused to place boundaries on her in any way. (Yes, the daughter was still allowed to visit her after the first infestation at least until I moved out.)

                  I found that home hair dyes work wonders, the chemicals, not the herbals. And make the little bastards easier to find.

                  For treating the last infestation after I moved out, shaved head for my son, olive oil treatment for my daughter (five months old), and I dyed my hair auburn. Haven’t had lice since.

            2. boop*

              I’m pretty sure the negative fallout is the huge swollen welts that are 100 times itchier than mosquito bites, and the inability to sleep while the rental management company gets their shit together long enough to spray the building. And probably the three weeks of living in a smelly, poisoned apartment once they do. Ugh, never again!

              1. Natalie*

                Yeah, did you miss that I’ve had a bedbug infestation? I’m not suggesting they’re not a pain – they are – but having people *physically recoil*, immediately start panicking about thousands of dollars in pest control, and genuinely say they’d rather burn their home down than have them again was a bit too far.

                It’s equivalent to talking about your mom’s neighbor who died of the flu anytime you hear about someone getting sick.

                1. Lisa*

                  One of the apartments was so bad in my building, they had to cut into the walls. That is when the city got involved, and the 5k price was for the service of heat method / having help with bagging / removal / cleaning. You can do the steam method for around $1000 – $1500, though I’ve heard of cheaper as you said. I’m not recoiling from the bedbugs, I’m recoiling from the cost and months of living out of bags, and watching my neighbors go cheap, and end up having to do the steam method 3x. Steam method price included 3-4 times, and they still didn’t get them all – so another 2 rounds of (3-4 times). So yeah my building continued to have multiple infestations that kept moving up and down across 4 apartments. Prob very diff if you are in a single house, where eradicating them is easier if you treat the whole house at once.

                2. A Cita*

                  I need to ask, are you in NYC? Because that’s a normal reaction here because most people don’t live in individual homes and densely populated apartments make them really hard to get rid of. Also, my personal theory, NYC bugs in general are just plain immune to standard pest control tactics. I mean, you spray a roach with Raid here, and they just run around angry, but THEY DON’T DIE. They refuse to die. They are inured. I think only the strongest, most mutant, modified DNA has survived. NYC bugs are the warlords of the city and they RULE. Roaches aren’t deterred by light here, and they will TARGET you if they suspect you are *trying* (emphasis on try, because you won’t succeed) to be a threat.

                  You get up in the morning, and NYC bugs are hanging out on your couch, drinking your coffee, and reading your newspaper. And giving you the finger if you try to shoo them away.

                  Yeah, humanoids of NYC are defeated.

            3. Wendy Darling*

              In my case I was in the middle of being thoroughly traumatized by something tangentially related when I ended up in a hotel room that was absolutely infested with bedbugs. I didn’t notice until my belongings had been there a few hours and I sat down on the bed and many, many bedbugs began appearing.

              It all got tied in with how awful I was already feeling. I was then fired from the job I was traveling for and had to slink home in disgrace and throw away everything I couldn’t dry on super high heat to ensure I had not brought any bedbugs home.

              Now my reaction to any realistic likelihood of being exposed to bedbugs is to make a noise kind of like a whistling tea kettle. It is really not rational but it also isn’t really worth messing with as it doesn’t particularly interfere with my life, other than this thread giving me the skin crawlies. By some miracle I can actually still stay in hotels without anxiety, although I have a fairly distinct preference for white bed linens.

  4. Wendy Darling*

    I had a phone interview today where the person discussed compensation right up front. Which was awesome because their range was 3/4 of my current salary and we could go “Oh, well, we’re really not going to come to a mutually agreeable number, clearly,” and decline to waste each other’s time.

    I’d have been pretty annoyed if I’d had to call out of work to go to an in-person interview to find out that the salary was so low I wouldn’t take the job unless one of the benefits was paying my rent for me.

    1. Red In SC*

      Yeah, I agree. In the job postings at my organization we list the salary range, because if you have seriously different expectations, then there is no reason to waste time.

      Plus for this LW, if it really is a bank teller position, there’s got to be a pretty well set range for starting. Seems really weird that they’re not just listing this.

      Since LW already has a job, I would probably not go to the next interview.

      1. Jeanne*

        They are very weird, four interviews and no salary information. (OP says interactions but I assume that means phone screens or in person talks, not a call to say can you make it tomorrow.) A bank teller salary is not a state secret. I wouldn’t go back.

    2. Recruit-o-rama*

      Seriously, why wait?? We don’t post our ranges (not my choice and I can’t change that) but it’s the first thing I discuss in my phone screen after the “why are you looking for a new position” ice breaker. I state our range and ask what their expectations are and either proceed or end based on the ensueing discussion. I will never understand the caginess around salary ranges, it’s such a waste of everyone’s time.

      1. Joseph*

        I don’t get the caginess either. It’s a critical piece of information about the job that directly determines if it’s even possible to go further.
        This is like a candidate saying “I’m sorry, I can’t discuss my Teapot Design experience until the third interview”.

      2. Elle*

        I totally agree. It’s a waste of company time, too. Who wants to interview someone three times, only to find out you’re on completely different pages salary-wise??

    3. Caroline*

      The only employers that I’ve ever found to be cagey about salary are the ones who are underpaying (and know it). Employers who are paying above market rate generally put that out there, because (normally) the reason they pay well is to attract the best applicants, so not advertising the higher than average salary kinda defeats the point. Even the ones paying market rate tend to do the same.

      There may well be employers who pay well, yet are cagey about salary during hiring, but I’ve not found any yet!

      1. Chriama*

        Agreed. This is a stupid policy. People with lots of options won’t jump through their hoops – 5 interviews before hearing pay? Yeah right! So if they continue to do this and are still managing to hire people, they’re obviously used to dealing with people who are desperate and don’t have other options. And their pay likely reflects that.

      2. Lucie in the Sky*

        My current employer I almost dropped out of the process midway because it was becoming drug out and I got a promotion at the current job. The only salary discussion I had was early in the process where they asked me my desired salary and I gave them a range, they said it was in Target during the phone screen. I ended up with an offer letter that was 15K higher then my high range — and towards the upper end of the spectrum on pay in my field. I can’t help but think had they just advertised salary they’d probably get much better options in staffing.

      3. TootsNYC*

        Yes, I think this caginess tells you something important about this employer.

        I was going to suggest that the OP say: “We really do need to discuss salary. If you won’t disclose the range or the expected salary, then let me tell you that the offer will need to be $XX,000. If that’s not what you’ll offer the final candidate, then I don’t want to waste your time or mine.”

        But then I thought, “Wait, why would the OP want to work for a company this screwy?”

        The OP obviously is a good candidate–4 interviews tells us something about her interviewing ability and her skills. My vote: move on.

      4. M-C*

        That’s a very good observation. And the employer is probably hoping that the ‘escalation of commitment’ fallacy will kick in, that after throwing so much time away by doing these multiple interviews the OP will be worn down and can be persuaded to throw the rest of their entire life away for peanuts.
        Just look elsewhere OP, you’re worth more than that..

    4. Jubilance*

      Agreed. I’m at the point in my career where I can be picky (knock on wood), and if a company can’t disclose salary in the initial conversations, it’s not the role for me. I couldn’t imagine doing multiple interviews and not knowing if the salary would be something I’d even be willing to entertain.

      Companies forget that candidates are evaluating them for fit as well, and I’d be leery of a company that felt that they could withhold information that I clearly need to know.

    5. Kore*

      I totally agree. I understand that a company might want to keep things somewhat private, but at the same time most people know up front what they’re willing to accept. If you know right away that the salary wouldn’t work, it saves everyone time.

    6. Q*

      I agree. I had a phone interview during which they asked for my salary range. Then I was invited for an in person interview. An hour into the interview I’m asked about expected salary and I stated the same exact thing I had on the phone. Then she says that their maximum is $13,000 less than my minimum and they could not/would not negotiate it higher. I wasted a vacation day to go to this interview when if they had just told me the salary limit on the phone I would have politely bowed out.

  5. Honeybee*

    OP #2 – There’s some interesting research about meetings in the workplace showing that for some people – I think mainly extroverts, as that would make sense – the chatting and catching up at the beginning of each meeting is viewed as an important part of the meeting that is almost as necessary as the business. It helps those types of coworkers form bonds and feel connected, and work together better as a team. (Admittedly, I’m one of those folks – not 30 minutes’ worth, but even in 1:1 meetings with my manager we’ll often spend 10-15 minutes chatting about our weekends, her kids, my dog, etc.) That’s not to say that you should suffer through 30-45 minutes of this at 5 am (!), just that it might be a useful background to know when approaching the issue. If you’re on an entire team of extroverts, they may regard it odd if you ask if you can call into the meeting a half-hour later to skip all the small talk.

    1. Iain Clarke*

      But they can do that bonding on their own time, not on my time if it’s cutting into my precious 5am sleep time. Especially if OP is not getting their chance to chip in.

      Assuming it is 5am, I hope you’re having this meeting from home. If so, just call that your breakfast time, and you can enjoy your coffee, noisy cereal, and slurpy spoon. Oh, and mute yourself.

      I am in the office one day a week, and engage in some small talk then. But I am quite ruthless if a meeting with me in moves too far to a topic that does not require me. I don’t want to catch a later train because you’re chatting about something that can wait until I’m gone… (Not exactly the same, but parallel)

      1. Blossom*

        Agreed – just go on mute, and keep half an ear on the conversation while having some breakfast/ browsing the news/painting your toenails.
        It doesn’t sound like the OP is really in a position to influence the chatty-boss norms.

        1. OP #2*

          OP here. Yeah, that’s what I’ve been doing. But it would be sure great to get back that half hour or more of sleep…

    2. Cat steals keyboard*

      I’m an introvert and I also like a bit of small talk in meetings. Might feel differently if I was calling in at 5am, though!

    3. Cambridge Comma*

      I’ve seen similar research comparing behaviour around meetings in different cultures and graphing the amount of small talk at the beginning. If the other office is in a different time zone I thought it might also be in another country. In many countries, the small talk at the beginning is a way of beginning the negotiation. However, people aren’t necessarily aware that this is how their culture do things (I would have disagreed that my own culture was big on small talk before I saw the evidence and observed it with new eyes myself) so it may be a difficult thing to negotiate around.

      1. OP #2*

        OP here. This is an internal meeting with no customers. Some of the attendees are from outside the US, but the bosses and I are in the US.

    4. Sandy*

      There’s also a bunch of advice out there that this is exactly how to run a meeting when you have full-time teleworkers- because otherwise they do miss you on the intangibles of workplace life, like water-cooler talk, and can feel really disconnected from the team otherwise.

      1. OP #2*

        OP here. That would be great, but 90% of the time the conversation is between just the two or three guys in the head office on topics in which I or some other attendees have no interest and are not in a position to affect the course of the conversation.

    5. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I’d also worry that they won’t always keep their chatting to 30+ minutes and the OP might miss out on part of the business part of the meeting.

    6. Parenthetically*

      You know, just on the flip side of your point, Honeybee, it occurred to me as I was reading that that the bosses might very well be extending chit-chat time as a kindness to LW, without realizing it’s a burden to her. If I had to be “at work” at 5 a.m., I think I’d rather have a bit of meaningless small talk while I’m hatching, rather than launching straight in to work mode, but since LW doesn’t feel that way I think she does need to speak up.

        1. Parenthetically*

          After I hit “Submit” I remembered that detail. I still think I’d personally prefer that easing-in time, but I did agree with the advice given, that she needs to speak up.

        2. Marisol*

          She said that, but I got the impression that it was more like since they were chatterboxes and she wasn’t into the conversation anyway, she didn’t make a huge effort to be included. I think she should suck it up and schmooze in order to build political capital.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            If they’re only talking about sports and it’s something OP isn’t interested in, maybe she could bring up another topic. If they’re uninterested in talking about that, I’d just follow the advice to eat breakfast, etc. while waiting for them to finish rehashing last night’s handegg game.

          2. OP #2*

            OP here. That could be but I doubt it is the case. I’m a guy by the way. I have attempted to chime in before but the combination of being remote + their very strong personalities + not being an expert in whatever they are talking about – means that I am usually almost ignored. It’s weird because I’m socially normal in other settings.

    7. Sarah*

      I agree it is important, but it is next to impossible to do remotely, especially if there is a larger team on the other end. I work remotely from a large portion of my team, and often get annoyed at small talk chatter when I call in to meetings – but when I happen to be there in person, I enjoy it.

      Maybe there is advice out there on how to do this for telework teams, but I’ve yet to see it be done successfully. Video chat helps a bit, but… it just isn’t the same.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I’ve yet to be in a meeting with people who are remote where the technology actually made it possible for them to participate in those sorts of chatting in any meaningful way. And even when the technology is pretty good, it’s just not a good method, in my own experience. Maybe if the individuals participating had more experience and therefore better skills at it, but…

    8. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I agree. I’d actually be pretty put off by that request; connecting as humans is an important part of many meetings. (Also, this chat time usually is covering for late arrivals; the meeting may not be able to start into business on time if folks are dribbling in for the first 10 minutes).

      That being said, in this particular case the greater obligation is to the employee who has to get up at an unreasonable time — and 30 minutes is too much time spent on this kind of chatting. Maybe a better solution would be to move the time of the meeting (how many people are in this meeting?? surely there is an available time that doesn’t require someone getting up at the crack of dawn) and limit the chat to 15 minutes or so.

      1. Emma*

        And I’d be pretty put off by being expected to waste half an hour on useless chitchat, so. I’d rather connect as fellow workers doing our actual job together; I don’t need to be social buddies with my colleagues.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          My point is that many people (including me, an introvert) don’t see it as “useless chitchat,” and as a result a request to just skip out on the meeting may be received poorly (just as spending time on it is being received poorly by her). There’s no inherent right or wrong here.

      2. OP #2*

        OP #2 here. It’s an international meeting so it has to be set early in the day – the time can’t really be changed.
        In addition to me, there is a manager from London on the call (he’s still in the middle of his work day) and another manager in India who is attending at like 10pm – there really needs to be greater respect for the personal time of other team members…

    9. OP #2*

      Hello, OP here. Yes, it is an entire team of extroverts who seem to go into a feedback loop. I obviously understand the importance of a little small talk but this takes up 25% of a 2 hour meeting — which probably could be finished in an hour with a little discipline.

  6. Wendy*

    Don’t keep interviewing with a company that won’t talk about pay. If this is how they treat you when they’re possibly interested in wooing you, they’ll be opaque and unreasonable as a chronic thing as employers.

    1. Beancounter in Texas*

      That’s my sentiment. I think they know the pay is low for the market and they’re hoping to attract a candidate with other features first so that they decide to accept the job because the lower pay is worth getting in with the company.

    2. JMegan*

      Agreed. I think OP 4’s next response should be “I can’t continue with the interview process until I know the salary range,” and if they still refuse, then walk.

      Of course this is very dependent on the situation, and I don’t know how much OP is counting on *this particular job* for whatever reason. But honestly, if OP has any options at all other than this one, I think they should let this one go. Most jobs are not worth this kind of game-playing, especially when you’re not even in the door yet. Good luck.

  7. Greg*

    I’m gonna reference a song I don’t care for much but is very applicable here. It’s something companies need to learn:

    if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it

    if you like the employee and want to hire them, then hire them. Find a way to make it work, don’t leave employees on the hook, don’t jerk them around. All your little game is gonna do is cost you a good employee.

      1. Jayn*

        I’m imagining an annoy-a-tron programmed with that snippet, but that would be pouring gasoline on the burning bridge. (Plus they’re not programmable)

    1. KR*

      This is how I feel to my current job. I have no qualms about leaving now since they’ve taken their sweet time getting my full time position in place.

    2. Candi*

      Really. Even “I wanna hire you, My bosses won’t let me, I tell you true, I know you’ll probably leave me” is better then that.

  8. annabel*

    Yes, usually at the end of the first phone screening, if it hasn’t come up already I’ll ask what is the pay scale you have in mind? If they flip it on me I’ll say a little higher than what I actually want. Once when I did this the screener fessed up that not only were they not paying anywhere near what I would want, I would also be expected to use my own laptop and phone as my work equipment “oh, of course there will be a stipend.” give out my personal phone number as my work number? I think not

    1. TootsNYC*

      Well, you could use a Google Voice number as your work number. But not providing the equipment is kinda cheap. I can totally see a company saying, “Look, instead of us buying a smartphone and you having two pieces of equipment to tote around, what if we just pay your phone bill?” That might be a bit of a bonus for someone, esp. if the phone number can be worked out (and it usually can).

      1. Elizabeth West*

        To piggyback off the BYOD discussion the other day, if I were going to accept that, I’d just buy a cheap pay-as-you-go phone for work purposes and they could pay that bill. I wouldn’t want work stuff on my personal phone.

  9. The Bimmer Guy*

    OP1 — Your company is handling that in an absolutely-ridiculous manner…and it absolutely *will* reflect poorly on upper-management and cause problems not to be reported when other employees hear how you were treated because you found *one* bed bug.

    I’m appalled.

    Do you work for a smaller Mom-and-Pop-type operation? Because those seem to be the kind of companies that operate this way.

  10. FlummoxedByLetter1*

    Re: the bed bugs, for heaven’s sake! This was the business equivalent of “he who smelt it, dealt it!” It doesn’t work that way with flatulence, nor with bugs. You don’t just get to pin the blame on whoever noticed the offense.

    I would be fighting not only for lost wages, but for the cost of the inspection. Bugs have legs. It having used them to wander in your direction gave them no basis for assuming you were its vehicle.

    1. Ama*

      Yup, bedbugs are an epidemic in my city. I’ve had them at my home (my entire neighborhood basically had them at the same time – thankfully, mine were caught very early so I was able to take precautionary measures to prevent spreading them while my apartment was being treated), and my current office has had them (prior to my arrival). There have been breakouts in movie theaters and people have reported seeing them in the public transit system. There’s almost no way to know, once you have them, where they really came from. I’m pretty sure mine came in from a neighbor’s apartment through a crack between the floor and the wall in my bedroom, but I could just as easily have carried them in myself accidentally.

      Because of the prior office infestation, though, every so often a coworker will find a small brown bug in the office and freak out that it is a bedbug, and our office landlords will send in the bug-sniffing dogs to make sure there isn’t an infestation. (So far all of the times I’ve been here, it has been a false alarm.) That’s what the OP’s office should have done — because at this point, even if they did come in from an outside source there’s a possibility they may have already established themselves in the office itself.

  11. Gene*

    For #1, it’s been proved that your home wasn’t the source. If you don’t use transit to commute and got the hitchhiker there, the source is a co-worker. Since management is being stupid, you have standing to request they either pay you for your lost time and expense or subject all your co-workers to the same requirements.

    Anyway, bedbugs are just an annoyance unless one is allergic. Straight from the CDC FAQ:

    Do bed bugs spread disease?

    Bed bugs should not be considered as a medical or public health hazard. Bed bugs are not known to spread disease. Bed bugs can be an annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep. Sometimes the itching can lead to excessive scratching that can sometimes increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.

    What health risks do bed bugs pose?

    A bed bug bite affects each person differently. Bite responses can range from an absence of any physical signs of the bite, to a small bite mark, to a serious allergic reaction. Bed bugs are not considered to be dangerous; however, an allergic reaction to several bites may need medical attention.

    1. Bookworm*

      Well – wait, can’t they completely infest apartments and be impossible to get rid of? I’ve heard of people having to discard thousands of dollars worth of furniture. That seems like way more than an inconvenience.

          1. Cat steals keyboard*

            Haha! Thank you. My husband worked at home today and our cat was most unimpressed at not being allowed to sleep on his keyboard while he worked.

        1. Bookworm*

          Sure. And I want to be clear here that I’m not condoning the behavior of OP’s company.

          But it seems incredibly dismissive to call anything that might cost people so much money a mere annoyance.

      1. Nina*

        All are true. They’re not a health hazard, but speaking from personal experience, they are an absolute nightmare in your home. Emotionally and financially. It was 2 years ago and my mother still has scarring from the constant scratching. To this day, when anyone sees a bug we practically cross-examine it. My neighbors were evicted for bringing them in the building and neglecting to tell mgmt until it was too late.

        I’m not surprised that OP was sent home, since they spread so quick, and even 1 bedbug can do damage. But since OP didn’t bring them in the office, they really should be compensated for that time off.

        1. EW*

          I’ve dealt with bed bugs in an apartment before, and I take the stance that I’d rather have my dwelling burned to the ground in a fire than deal with them again. Anyone who says they’re just an annoyance does not understand what living with them is like.

          1. Emma*

            Or… we’ve dealt with them and it’s not actually been a big deal. Some infestations are bad, sure – but that’s honestly true of any critter, and it’s the bad stories that tend to be memorable.

            I mean, I knew someone with a ladybug infestation that they couldn’t stop no matter what they tried.

          2. Natalie*

            Yeah, I’m with Emma. I mentioned upthread that I’ve had mice infestations twice and those were much worse.

          3. Nina*

            I don’t blame you. Before, I would have laughed at being traumatized by something as innocuous as bedbugs, but they can be a traumatic experience.

            They were in our apt twice and when they hit me first, it really wasn’t that big a deal. Only found a few, made sure everything was clean and sealed off, and that was it. It was when they migrated to the other side of the apartment months later that it got serious. My mother broke down in tears so many times because we couldn’t find them, despite her waking up with numerous bites every day. The doctor thought she had scabies and prescribed the full-body cream, it worked for a few days, and of course the bedbugs returned. They hit her a lot harder because she’s older and not as active, so she naps a lot more. That’s one of the reasons bedbugs are so bad in retirement communities. Mom dealt with it for nearly 2 months before I finally found the little bastards hiding in a fold of our couch and we took it from there.

            For some, bedbugs are just a general nuisance, but when they infest, they really infest. I wouldn’t wish them on anyone.

      2. Natalie*

        They can, but that’s not necessarily the most common circumstance. My suspicion is that those folks are just very willing to talk about their experience, whereas “pest control came out a few times and no more bugs” is a pretty boring story.

        1. Miss Nomer*

          We had them, pest control came once, we religiously adhered to The Bug Protocol and it was fine. Some people aren’t that lucky, or they have enough larvae around that they need multiple rounds. Honestly, the hysteria bothered me because there was a sense of judgment there. “Oh, you had bugs but you’re going to the grocery store where other people are?” “You had bugs but you still drive your car that might one day have other people in it?!”

    2. Jeanne*

      While those statements are accurate, a bed bug infestation is more complicated than that. However, the workplace still handled it badly.

      1. nicolefromqueens*

        Yes. They’re not a public health hazard l, at least not for able-bodied people with healthy immune systems, but bites can become infected. If you rent and/or live in a multifamily, you could be held liable for your landlord’s or neighbors’ losses.

        I know of someone who is physically disabled and had an infestation. He had to go to the hospital because he had so many bites and they got infected.

        1. Natalie*

          “If you rent and/or live in a multifamily, you could be held liable for your landlord’s or neighbors’ losses.”

          Generally speaking this isn’t true – you would have had to have behaved negligently in order to be held responsible for anyone’s losses from pests in a multi-family building. Existing in the world (the way most people get bedbugs) doesn’t come remotely close to that standard.

          1. nicolefromqueens*

            It’s you vs the landlord in court. If you’re the plaintiff, the burden of proof is on you. It could be written in your lease that you are responsible for damages. Even if you win, you still have to pay the attorney, lose time at work, etc.

    3. Undercover Mental Health Professional*

      My (former) office would occasionally have issues with bedbugs that came to our office with clients (not staff). They had a procedure where bedbug sniffing dogs would be brought out to the office periodically, and offices where bedbugs had been found would be closed and labeled with a Do Not Enter sign. Nobody got in trouble for finding bedbugs. The way OP #1’s office handled this sounds ridiculous, unfair, and unlikely to lead to the desired outcome of a bedbug-free workplace.

    4. N.J.*

      Bed bugs are a HUGE deal. A pest doesn’t need to be life threatening or disease bearing to cause a significant quality of life issue. The bites itch severely for many people and I can tell you from personal experience that they itched so badly for me and I scratched so thoroughly that some of them got infected. Not to mention the health costs of being stressed out about them and not sleeping well. I can also say that it cost me over two grand several years ago to get rid of an infestation. Just because something isn’t a traditional health hazard doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a very real toll on quality of life. If we took the view of only caring about strict health risks, then we wouldn’t view head lice as a big deal either, Because they aren’t, as far as I know, a health hazard. Maybe a melodramatic comparison, but hopefully it illustrates the true “cost” of bed bugs.

      1. JLAC762*

        I work for a very large pest control company in a NYC suburb. We do A LOT of bed bug work both residentially and commercially. I’m sorry this happened to you, especially at work, it is without a doubt our most emotional type of service. I have had people crying on the phone and saying things like they handled their cancer treatments better than bed bugs.

        We have had companies pay for inspections (human and canine) at their employees’ homes and then split the cost of treatment at one home. Sometimes building management companies will have a deal for services, its in their best interest to keep apartments free from bed bugs. It is possible to treat and eradicate bed bugs, the most effective solution is thermal heat treatment but that will cost thousands. There are less expensive options (cyronite, chemical treatment) but those require an enormous amount of prep work and multiple service appointments.

      2. Katniss*

        Yeah, they’re a huge deal. Without getting too personal, for years I dealt with severe PTSD for unrelated issues. When I had a bedbug infestation I realized after that after I had PTSD symptoms from it. It’s emotionally and financially awful, and I still freak out if I get bites in a row or anything similar.

        1. Lunch Meat*

          Before we got bedbugs, I already had phobias related to insects. Our infestation wasn’t even that bad but it made my anxiety much worse. My sleep schedule, my quality of work, my quality of relationships were all impacted. I was a mess. I still panic when I see spots on ceilings, walls or beds.

          1. Temperance*

            I have so much sympathy for you. My husband and I thought we might have an infestation due to getting the bites, and I was sick, stressed, and honestly throwing up from the strain of thinking I had them. We think that we were bitten on a bus. :-/

        2. EW*

          The bites in a row… I flipped out on my roommates one time cause I had three “bites” in a row. Turns out it wasn’t from bedbugs, but what a mindf*ck.

      3. Natalie*

        FWIW, schools and public health officials are trying to relax the stigma around head lice as well, because the social/emotional effects of the stigma seem to be far more harmful than the lice themselves.

      4. nicolefromqueens*

        It cost my neighbor over $4k for multiple treatments. Then the house burned down, and she wasn’t all that mad about the fire at the time. Months later, as they’re still rebuilding the house, they found a bed bug!

    5. Temperance*

      No. They are not a mere annoyance. An annoyance is the office whistler.

      An infestation costs hundreds to thousands of dollars to remedy, and frankly, will also have a huge mental toll.

      1. Natalie*

        Bedbugs have been part of human life for literally thousands of years. If they were disease carriers we would likely know by now.

      2. Candi*

        With science, it’s always about what we don’t know, and what we don’t know what we don’t know.

        Just a few months ago, they announced the discovery of a connection between the brain and the immune system that at most only a few only suspected of existing. (“It was only last year that Kipnis, the director of UVA’s Center for Brain Immunology and Glia, and his team discovered that meningeal vessels directly link the brain with the lymphatic system.”)

        When I searched for information on women’s reproductive systems shortly before that (after 2016 began), I came across articles that talked about how much isn’t known about reproductive function and health.

        Let’s not even get started on the gaps in physical and psychological knowledge of the brain.

        And this is lack of information about humans, a fairly large species in size and numbers where members deliberately donate their remains to scientific study.

        So lack of information on whether bed bugs spread disease or not is ‘we are pretty sure they don’t’, not ‘they absolutely don’t’.

        With people carrying fewer diseases for slow-moving bugs to pick up, it’s less likely that they can spread anything the way body lice spread typhus -but the jury is still out in my mind.

  12. Cat steals keyboard*

    #5 You have been transparent about your timeline. They kind of haven’t. And anyway, it’s super clear from your letter that you’re way more excited about the new job – congrats by the way – and honestly it’s okay to put yourself first. Your contract is ending and you want some time between jobs which is great to have if you can. They are focused on the needs of their business and what’s convenient for them. You need to focus on your own career. To do right by them – which you absolutely have – without sacrificing doing right by yourself.

    I was kind of in a similar position recently. I had been working part-time while also freelancing and my part-time employer kept telling me about a full-time position that was going to materialise soon. They ended up asking me to stay on full-time on a fixed-term contract and I turned it down as I landed a better-paid job I wanted much more. They put a bit of pressure on me to stay on and help with x and y urgent thing. I almost gave into it as I felt flattered to be valued (when it wasn’t really about that). But I wanted to start New Job (and its accompanying salary) so I politely and firmly said no. And they coped fine, it just caused them a bit of extra effort arranging cover and shifting some duties around.

    One thing that did help was offering to do what I could to help the process e.g. writing a handover. And try to remember they knew this was coming, they could have planned for it and it’s not your fault they didn’t. Almost nobody is irreplaceable, they just want to follow the path of least resistance.

    Enjoy your new job!

  13. befuddled*

    There’s this unfortunate stigma that bedbugs are somehow a person’s fault, that it’s because your home isn’t clean or you have bad habits. But that’s not true – cleanliness has nothing to do with it. You can pick one up anywhere – buses, the movies, waiting rooms, work. They feed on only one thing – us. They are on the upswing – and we’re all going to be exposed at one time or another. I live in a large city and my building is swept quarterly for bedbugs by trained dogs. The inspectors always tell us one bug isn’t a problem – it’s a breeding pair that’s trouble.

    Their penalizing you is just wrong. And I do think you need to push back because you have been branded the cause of bedbugs and most people will have a negative reaction to that. Your workplace needs education on bedbugs.

    1. Jeanne*

      I was exposed recently at a doctor’s office. The patient before me had them. They closed the office to get it fumigated. I was paranoid a few days but now I’m ok. Even if OP had been the source, the workplace was awfully lax if they didn’t treat the office. I recommend pushing back, too. I wonder if you need a lawyer or if talking to them will work.

      1. Temperance*

        Yikes. I always wonder about the liability of the person spreading the bugs around, and whether they’d have to pay for remediation.

        1. Natalie*

          My understanding is that you’d have to prove negligence, and regular human activity like going to appointments doesn’t meet the bar.

          1. Temperance*

            Hmmmm … although failing to take precautions (like wearing a safe outfit) should be negligence, no?

    2. Nina*

      +1. There’s a definite stigma with bedbugs, like you must live like Pigpen to get them. But they’re in so many places and very easy to pick up, no matter how clean you are. When I had them, I felt so gross, and nervous that I would spread them to people I knew.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Oh, this so, so much. I was so ashamed! The super in my building even told me repeatedly that it had nothing to do with being dirty because he knew how clean I kept my apartment. I only told one or two people while it was happening because of the stigma. You know that episode of 30 Rock where Jack gets on the train and tells everyone he has bedbugs and the homeless guy moves away? It’s a very good illustration of how that feels.

      2. Katniss*

        It’s such an awful feeling, and it’s unfair that the stigma exists even though having bedbugs has nothing to do with cleanliness. I remember when I had them my best friend thought he found one at his place, and I was sobbing with guilt because I thought I shouldn’t even visit friends anymore for fear of spreading it to them.

        1. Nina*

          Hugs to you and AvonLady Barksdale. It’s so unpleasant, I swear. The “skin crawling” phrase never rang so true. And talk about being paranoid for a long time afterwards.

          The first thing I did after the inspector left was to call my sister and tell her not to make any impromptu visits to the house, so the bugs wouldn’t hop on her or one of her kids. Ugh.

    3. K.*

      The Plaza Hotel in NYC has had bed bugs. http://bedbugregistry.com/hotel/NY/New-York/Plaza-Hotel
      There’s a movie theater that I straight up stopped going to because bed bugs were reported there (and it’s a crappy theater in general, and thankfully I have lots of other options). I do a bed bug check every time I go to a hotel, keep my luggage in the bathroom and my luggage doesn’t come in my place when I get home. I’m paranoid. Been lucky so far, knock wood.

  14. Susan C.*

    WHY, #3? Why WOULD you? I honestly can’t wrap my head around this.

    Yes, sure, if there’s reason to suspect sticky fingers, it’s fair game to start the investigation with the guy with the gambling problem, an auditor will love this kind of info – but what possible advantage could there be for management to know who’s not paying their alimony on time?

    1. Jeanne*

      I think some states have child support (and maybe alimony) removed from paychecks as a matter of law without waiting for someone to be behind. I was garnished once for some taxes. I lost the bill and forgot about it. In the end, why make it a bigger deal than it is?

    2. Maria*

      I don’t get this either. Second-guessing whether to keep personal financial information private? It should be the default, unless given a darned good reason otherwise.

    3. Nobody*

      I think it’s a fair question. She even says that she has been handling these things as private matters, and just wants to confirm that she is right not to mention them to her manager. I can see how she could feel weird about it, like she’s keeping secrets from her manager, and wonder if she’s handling the situation correctly. It looks like she cares very much about employees’ privacy but wants to make sure she doesn’t get herself in trouble.

      1. Susan C.*

        But what benefit could the manager possibly derive from that knowledge? You wouldn’t have a crisis of conscience about keeping it from you manager if, say, a colleague had confided in you about her yeast infection!

        Unless you’re advocating for blanket, bordering-on-paranoid suspicion as fraud prevention policy, and at the same time consider your management completely beyond reproach… I’m just not seeing it?

        1. Bookworm*

          Come on. She’s asking with an open mind. For all we know, she’s been reprimanded in the past for not sharing information she didn’t realize needed sharing…or her best friends work at dysfunctional companies and told her that this was normal….or she’s wondering if HR needs to make some changes to the employee’s files. Whatever.

          No one is advocating for paranoid suspicion – she’s just checking to make sure her instincts are on point. That’s a fine thing to do.

    4. Pari*

      I think you could certainly mention it if it’s an an administrative issue for you. It might also be a character issue depending on how you find out. I’ve seen some employees be proactive about court ordered deductions and try to get the deductions started ASAP. That’s responsible and honorable. I’ve seen others that say nothing to payroll/HR and the company only find out when the state finally tracks the employee down and sends a letter to the company.

      1. Eddie Turr*

        I’m not sure I see a potential character issue with not alerting your company that a court-ordered deduction is coming.

          1. Partly Cloudy*

            It’s none of the company’s/management’s business. Not all child support orders happen because a parent is being a deadbeat; some states REQUIRE child support to be paid as a garnishment and don’t even offer the option of letting the parent pay directly.

            1. Pari*

              Sure it is. An employee who proactively comes into payroll/HR with a copy of the court order so the deductions don’t miss looks a lot more responsible and honorable than someone who doesn’t say anything. I’m saying that because it usually takes a while for the state to track down an employee’s workplace so they generally receive a number of checks before the deductions finally happen

              1. Candi*

                That’s between the employee and the state to hammer out, whatever it might indicate about character. As a private matter, the manager is not in the NTK loop.

                I say this as some who’s ex quit his job three days after support was ordered via DSHS filing*, has paid less than $100 total, hasn’t paid a cent in twelve years, and mostly dropped off the grid about eight years ago after a round of harassment toward me uncovered outstanding warrants after I called the police.

                It’s still not the manager’s business unless they are also payroll.

                *I was on DSHS at the time, and my caseworker had me fill out a form to claim child support via administrative order until a court order could be processed. Did not know that was a thing.

    5. PK*

      Depending on the field, this may be pertinent information for management. I know that financial issues were a warning flag for my last employer (a bank).

      1. Susan C.*

        Not disputing that – but compared to other jobs, in a bank you have a pretty strong ‘opportunity’ factor compared to most other jobs, so combined with ‘financial distress’ you’d have fertile ground for fraud. Sure, you don’t have to be in charge of financials to take kick-backs or conduct other fishy business, but in the vast majority of situations I’d find this kind of forced transparency way overkill.

        1. PK*

          Well absolutely. Plus, there’s the whole bonding issue that comes with working in a bank. If you can’t be bonded because of financial issues, the bank can’t keep you on. That’s pretty specific to that industry though as you said.

          1. Natalie*

            It’s not payroll’s job to do those checks, though. The bonding company is presumably getting whatever information they need from a proper background check, rather than assumptions made by an employee.

      2. JM in England*

        Years ago, I applied for a job in the ink development lab of the Bank of England. One question on the application form asks if you’re financially solvent. Hmmmmm……………….

    6. anon3209*

      Seriously! The fact that the OP thinks they should divulge this personal information is kind of worrisome. I don’t understand what relevance it might have in a work context.

    7. DoDah*

      I had a wage garnishment for some taxes. I called the government entity, worked out a plan and they lifted the garnishment. Our Accounting Manager (who has several relatives in his employ) told his entire family—who then told others and so on. It was hugely embarrassing. Our CFO talked to him but he denied telling people. Essentially the CFO told me I had no actual right to privacy when it came to my financial affairs in the workplace.

      1. Anna*

        Your CFO was a big effing jerkface stupid head.

        There’s absolutely no way this isn’t a HUGE breach of employee confidentiality and anyone who would argue otherwise to get you to shut up is intentionally missing the point.

      2. Moonsaults*

        I handled garnishments and they come in huge thick government envelopes that are very clearly “something”, they also involve some paperwork at times. So I can see how this can be found out by someone just shorting the mail or seeing fat envelopes on a desk somewhere. I had a nosy boss for years that would flip through my stacks of mail, he was the owner, it was his right to look at whatever he wanted and so that’s how he found out most of that stuff :(

        However I also know the gossip nests that are created in offices big and small at this rate, so I really do feel for anyone that has been in your position. My point really is that sometimes it’s going to get out and not be a private matter given how many hands touch mail in most places or eyes fall on things and go “Oh what’s that?”. Which of course if it’s your manager/superior you don’t respond with “That’s private”, then it peeks more interest.

    8. OP #3*

      I’m not sure the best place to jump in here, so I’ll post here and hope that all of the commenters on this topic see it: Thank you all for your advice, it confirms what I was thinking, that is that I should continue to not say anything.

      However, to clarify some things that weren’t explored, I was also curious from the sense of would a good manager (which we have, our manager is a good guy, he wouldn’t do malice with the information if he had it) want to help if he had the information, or at the very least make sure he didn’t cause additional hardship. I.E. if the manager knows that lots of people have financial difficulty then he will think that through when deciding if to move the office to a new location that isn’t accessible to public transportation. If he has an idea on how to provide a “bonus” of sorts (a vacation versus cash) he may decide to go with cash as a vacation might add to the burden while cash could really help out. These are just simply examples and not things happening in our office, but they are things a manager might decide differently if they know employees are going through difficulty.

      I will, however, continue, to keep the information to myself as it seems like the best thing to do.

      1. MK*

        OP, you might mean well, but please don’t meddle in other people’s bussiness “for their own good”. If they need help and they are ok with having their workplace know about it, they can let the boss know themselves. And it’s an especially bad idea to pre-emptively give out information about people that they might not want known, just in case an unlikely scenario comes up in which it will be to their advantage for the boss to know.

      2. Stardust*

        I agree with keeping the financial matters private rather than sharing with your manager. (Plus you are assuming you can see the employees financial situation but really a paycheck from an employer can be one source of income but not really showing all the persons income.) For example, perhaps they have a trust fund from a wealthy relative with limited usage (trusts cannot necessarily be used for alimony or paying tax debt or garnished, if I’m not mistaken.) Or employees could own rental apartments as a landlord, or has a lot of freelance work on the side, or other side business. Or a partner pays for living costs and makes significantly more than the employees. I’ve worked in a position that gave knowledge to whether employees had garnished wages or were required by court to cover child(ren)’s health insurance. In my opinion, keep their information private. I hear your good intentions for why you want to share thinking it would be “beneficial” for management decisions on cash bonus vs vacation etc. but you would be assuming to know what’s best for someone else without consulting their wishes and without necessarily knowing the full scope of their financial situation.

        1. Candi*

          You can also make general recommendations for that sort of thing without divulging anyone’s specific information. This is the kind of thing ‘some of them might’ is for.

  15. babblemouth aka One Of The Greatest Minds Of The 21st Century*

    OP 5: I had a colleague who was hired on a temporary contract who got offered a job elsewhere. She was wonderful, and we hoped she could stay, but had a hiring freeze due to an upcoming re-org. When she took the other job, everyone wished her well, even though we were bummed to lose her and had hoped we could offer her a permanent position afterwards – everyone understands that between the security of a permanent position, and the maybe-hopefully of another one, most people will go for the solid offer.

    All this to say: your company are being jerks. If they can’t commit, you can walk away; if anyone is burning bridges here, it’s not you.

  16. Workfromhome*

    #4 Compensation cannot be discussed until the next interview.
    Thanks for letting me know that policy. Unfortunately my policy is that another interview can’t take place until compensation is discussed. So it appears we are at a stalemate. :-)
    Unless you are desperate to be able to pay your bills. (Which happens and I’d never fault someone for do what is needed) you are best to walk away if they won’t give you any idea of the pay. It’s a clear signal how you will be treated if you get hired. I mean if they are so high and mighty not to mention rigid when they are supposed to trying to sell you on their company as a great place to work what will it be like once you actually work there? Essentially they are treating your time as if it has 0 value.

    5 I agree with many others. If they wanted you they would have hired you. If they were so concerned about the next couple months and “couldn’t ” hire you because of some unbreakabke policy then they should have offered a 2 month contract extension months ago. They new the end date. They could have said “We want to hire you but can’t till x date..so why don’t we give you a contact that runs until the time we can hire you to give you some security and keep you here while you wait? The just took you for granted and assumed you would stay as long as they wanted on the hope you would get hired even though they could have given that position away on a whim.

    Don’t offer to extend your contact for even one day. Say I have based my pans on the contact end date. I need to abide by the contract we signed. If they say “well can’t you bend in this” I’d be tempted to say well you couldn’t bend in the hiring process so I can’t very well be expected to bend in this but that wouldn’t accomplish anything positive.
    I really wouldn’t extend. I switched jobs after 13 years and because of vacations at my new job I was only able to take 2 days off to recharge (otherwise I would have had to start a month later) Although it was worth it to get out my old job asap those recharge days turn out to mean more than you think . Also once you have decided to move on in your mind every day you stay at your old job just drags.

  17. NJ Anon*

    Re #4. The pay probably sucks. I can’t imagine any other reason. I always put a pay range in job ads. And while job hunting, it makes me crazy when the pay range is not included. Why waste everyone’s time?

    1. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      I worked as a bank teller for a few years (from 2000-2005) and the pay was around $3/hr more than minimum wage. I recently saw a bank advertise for a teller position with $10/hr as the starting rate, so it doesn’t sound like that’s changed around here. I do live in a low cost-of-living area though.

      1. PK*

        Yea, I worked in a bank as well and tellers aren’t paid much above minimum wage. For an entry level position, the pay is very unlikely to be negotiable. Seems odd to hide it this long.

  18. AdAgencyChick*

    Bravo, #5, for doing the right thing for yourself. Hold firm and don’t let them push you into staying beyond your notice!

  19. Rebecca*

    #3 Please keep this information to yourself. You don’t know if the debt collection calls you receive are even real, or some scammer who has resurrected zombie debt. I get calls at home frequently from phone numbers that 800 notes report as scammy debt collectors from USA Bank, etc. It doesn’t mean I owe anyone any money. I would be really miffed if someone told my manager a debt collector was trying to contact me.

    As far as alimony, spousal support, child support, etc, also, not your business and the person’s manager doesn’t need to know. For all you know, the person isn’t “behind” or being garnished, they may want the funds to be deducted automatically.

    Bottom line – please do not do this.

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      Plus income & employment verification are required for any number of things, including: refinancing a mortgage and extending the limit on a home equity line of credit. Sometimes the different divisions of a bank won’t talk to each other and refuse to share paperwork.

      I’m sure that our business office manager wonders what the heck I was up to when she got two different sets of paperwork in less than 30 days, but when I refinanced my house, the appraisal came back much higher than it had 5 years ago. I had some work I wanted to get done around the house, so I asked the bank to up my HELOC and the only thing they could reuse from the refinance the previous month was the appraisal. Every other financial document had to be resubmitted, including the employment & income verification documents from my employer.

    2. Pari*

      One or two random calls no, but I’ve told employees about debt collectors calling work mainly to find out if it’s legitimate or not. If it’s not, I can use a little stronger language if they continue to call. If it’s legitimate I’m going to ask the employee to take care of it so that they don’t call work anymore.

      1. Lunch Meat*

        Debt collectors are only allowed to contact someone other than the debtor once, to try to get contact information for the debtor. They are not allowed to continue calling after the first time. In addition, they must stop calling work if the debtor asks them to. Continuing to call someone other than the debtor is basically using harassment and peer pressure to try to get them to pay a debt that may not be legitimate.

        (This is all in the US.)

      2. Lunch Meat*

        Debt collectors are only allowed to contact someone other than the debtor once, to try to track down their contact information. They are not allowed to contact you after that. They also have to stop contacting work if the debtor asks them too. Continuing to call someone other than the debtor is using harassment and peer pressure to try to get them to pay a debt that may not be legitimate.

        (This is all in the US.)

        1. Pari*

          Oh sure, but I would want my employer to tell me so I can make sure my credit isn’t being affected whether it’s real or bogus

      3. Lunch Meat*

        Whether or not it’s legitimate, you can tell them to stop calling after the first time. It’s illegal for a debt collector to call anyone other than the person owing money more than once.

        (I’ve tried to post this a couple of times and I think something is triggering a mod filter, so I apologize if this shows up more than once.)

      4. KellyK*

        Giving the employee, who the debt collectors are trying to contact, a heads up is totally reasonable. It’s the boss who really needs to be left out of it.

    3. Whats In A Name*

      Oh, the scamming debt collectors. This is a great point. And I agree that it can really send up red flags where there don’t need to be red flags. In relation to the not your business I agree with that, too. Unless it is directly impacting their work I don’t see where it is relevant to tell the manager.

      I had one call me a few months and tell me if I didn’t give them the $10,000 I owed to Bank of America from 2005 they were going to serve me with papers and put a lien on my house. Too bad I have never had a credit card with Bank of America. I told them to serve me and that I would fight it, then. Guess who never got served? I couldn’t imagine if my boss found out about that and believed it or if I had to convince them it was fraud or scamming.

    4. Mom*

      Yes to the support payments coming out of pay. This is has PA does it automatically. It has nothing to do with any issues with either party.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      The only time I would say something is a situation like the one we had at Exjob. A coworker had someone calling him repeatedly about a debt. They called the front desk, which was me, and I would take a message (name and phone number only) and post it for the worker per protocol. He came to me and told me that it was a phony debt relating to identity theft, he was sorry about the annoyance, and he was trying to get it to stop. This guy was honest to a fault and so of course we gave him the benefit of the doubt.

      But it got to be a huge disruption. These jerks would call over and over and over, and I finally did have to ask my dope of a boss what he wanted me to do (Coworker had talked to my boss about it to head off any other problems). I asked him if it was okay to tell the callers that I can no longer take messages for him. He told me to note down the numbers they’re calling from and the exact time. Then I said we don’t have the number they’re calling FROM, just the callback number they leave. They block it and it doesn’t show up. He goes “Okay….just tell them he no longer works here.”

      The next time we got one of those calls, I told the guy that. He called me a liar and hung up, but that took care of it! I never did find out if Coworker got this taken care of, but I hope so. He was too nice for that crap.

  20. Audiophile*

    #4 Were these four interviews? How long is this process going to go on? I don’t know that I would keep speaking to this company if they keep saying that compensation can’t be discussed. When do you finally learn the compensation – when they make an offer?

  21. Em Too*

    #2 – I fear your bosses consider this to be bonding and networking and improving team spirit and other such things, and just asking to skip it will be thought of as unfriendly or disengaged. But it feels like you are entitled to say that because you can’t engage with them you are finding this very nice idea of chatting in the morning doesn’t work for your situation.

    You could suggest an alternative where the phone meetings are made shorter and more businesslike (and start later) and strategy x is used to get to know each other instead.

  22. Xarcady*

    #3. Before I even graduated from college, I started getting bills to repay my student loans. Somehow, somewhere, my name and that of an upperclassman with the same last name got mixed up in some computer system. I was getting her bills, with my name and address, but her account numbers.

    That took almost a year to clear up. Then five years later, it happened all over again, but this time with debt collectors calling. Took a while to clear up. Then three years later, it happened again–more debt collectors. Her student loans have been sold and resold, and apparently she isn’t paying them. And my name still gets connected to them. And sometimes they call my office.

    Very frustrating for me. I’ve paid all my student loans off. I would be very upset if someone were to report this to my boss.

    1. Brandy in TN*

      I met my doppleganger once, we have the exact full name (first, middle & last). Ive gotten bills for her, never calls and its been a long time. The last was a Verizon bill she owed for the past for $75. I had the money so I just paid it to be done with. I wouldn’t do a big bill but it was a quick pay and be done with it.

      1. anonderella*

        You are awesome – even if DoppleBrandy was possibly irresponsible, or under strenuous circumstances, I just wanted to pass along that you are pretty damn awesome. That was incredibly kind of you.

        1. Marisol*

          I assumed she did it to avoid having a negative on her credit rating, but if it was out kindness, then yes, kudos…

          1. Brandy in TN*

            oh yeah, me and my doppleganger can totally pass for each other. Were both in Tn, both short, shes 2 years younger then me and her ssi starting 3 #s are so close. She doesn’t know of me, but I do her. I used to work at a nightclub around 21 and carded her. I never said anything.

            My intention was out of laziness. I didn’t feel like calling and dealing with it and all and I had the money.
            Yeah our credit reports get mixed up. I have to deal with that. I pulled my histories and it shows a mortgage and I paid my house off, never had the mortgage.

      2. AMPG*

        I had the same thing happen to me, AND we were born in the same state! I actually think our student loan records got combined in the state system, which started the problem. And this woman apparently never paid a bill in her life. At one point I pulled my credit report and had over 20 credit accounts (a lot of store cards and the like) that weren’t mine listed. I even got a couple of her Social Security balance reports, and when I called, the employee on the help line told me I should legally change my name. It took a couple of years for everything to sort itself out.

      1. Myrin*

        I’d assume that when Xarcady says that it eventually “cleared up”, that entails the people sending the bills finding out the right name and address in the end.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I used to file the invoices and checks for a job and I saw stuff like this a lot. It didn’t come over my desk, but I saw files in the cabinet. They were things like “Family Court–employee name.” As far as I was concerned, they didn’t exist.

      1. Brandy in TN*

        people do kill me. I once found an employees taxes and lien for child support on the fax machine in the main copy room. It was a room for the entire company to use.

  23. Whats In A Name*

    OP#5 Outside of the fact that I agree with the posters saying you did the right thing I also want to address this particular sentence because I read it 3 times and haven’t seen anyone else address it (apologies if I just missed it!)

    Last week I was offered another job that is an absolute dream opportunity, with great benefits and fits much better with where I am in my career at the moment.

    This, in itself, is enough for me to say you should take this opportunity and not feel bad about it. All the current employer’s screwing around aside, who knows when another great fit might come up. They gave you some chops, now go use them to do something you love!

    1. Chriama*

      That’s true! Even permanent employees leave good jobs to move on to better things.And even if it would be inconvenient for their current employer for various reasons we typically to move on if the job is worth it and you’re acting in good faith (e.g. didn’t just accept a permanent offer but continued to job search and are moving on after a few weeks or months). It’s so silly to act like OP owes it to the company to stay on for as long as they’ll have her, completely ignoring her own agency.

  24. Whats In A Name*

    Oh and for OP#2 I feel for you and think you are in a pickle. I wouldn’t want to get up so early either to hear the banter but if you ask to be excluded will their perception be that you are being anti-social and could you miss out on important information down the road for asking to be left out of the personal convo.

    I feel for you, and am on your side 100%. I know you also said you don’t participate, but I wonder if there could be some consequence in communication down the line?

    1. OP #2*

      OP2 here. Yeah it sounds like non-participation is not really an option. These bosses are talkers, not listeners. One idea that came up (to make the team more intergrated–not to specifically address this communication challenge) was to plan travel to be onsite at least once a month, and I asked to do so several times, but the travel budget never pans out.

  25. Christian Troy*

    #4 – I’ve encountered this a couple times in my job search. I was far enough into the interview process where they requested references and I asked if they could share compensation with me. I was not a local candidate so I needed some numbers to gage rent and all that. In every situation where I asked, the hiring managers disappeared. In one situation, there were definitely some yellow-red flags that made me think I’d be really frustrated in the environment. In another situation, there was some contradictory stuff about the what job actually entailed.

    My own pet theory is, I think certain managers and companies have been led to believe through whoever (external consultants, internal HR, who knows) that the employees they should be seeking and recruiting are ones that are passionate, drink the Koolade, and ask no questions about compensation or benefits. In their minds, employees who ask about salary are greedy and disloyal and should be avoided since they won’t stay in the role long term. Like I said, just a theory.

    1. Caroline*

      I don’t doubt your theory, but the fact that people think that way just boggles my mind.

      Of course we all want enthusiastic, loyal employees. But does anyone really not think that at least some of those fantastic employees have financial obligations which mean that they need to know what they’ll be earning, no matter how dedicated they are? And that having a minimum income that you need in order to be able survive financially doesn’t necessarily meant that you won’t be loyal and will jump ship at the merest sniff of a bit more money.

      I just cannot deal with employers who think like that and I’m very grateful that it’s never been an issue that I’ve personally had to navigate.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Or that part of WHY you are an enthusiastic, loyal employee is that you are treated well and made to feel valuable–which includes being compensated fairly?

        1. Emma*

          Yeah, no kidding. My loyalty evaporates when my paycheck does.

          I mean, my compensation is not the sole determining factor of how loyal I am to any given workplace, but there’s kind of a baseline there where if you fall below it you’ve been disloyal to me, and I do think loyalty is a two-way street.

        2. Marisol*

          Yes, and high performers know they are high performers and expect commensurate compensation. Following that “employees must drink the Koolade” rule just means that top performers will self-select out. So instead of helping the company, that idea hurts it.

            1. Candi*

              Being treated like this would be the almost-equivalent of being asked to drink grape flavor.

              (General nitpick. It was Flavor-Aid. Kool was just more popular.)

  26. Secret*

    For letter #1. I am a manager for a company in the NY area that has had multiple bedbug infestations. Generally what we have done depends on personal politics. [major flaw of being with a family owned company] Upper management pinned the BB problem on an employee that had recently filed a complaint against us for owing OT hours and forced him to go on unpaid LOA and pay for an inspection. When the inspection would come back clean, upper management still insisted he was infested and wouldn’t permit his return for safety reasons which resulted in the employee quitting. Another employee did come forward saying they had a bug issue but the company refused to force the other employee to get an inspection because he’s friends with the owner and was down on his luck living in a homeless shelter at the time of this incident. Thousands of dollars in inspections and treatments later along with a move to a new building and we have them again but no one will come forward saying they have an issue at home because of how we handled the issue the first time. From what our HR consulting company told us this is all legal to do.

    1. Chriama*

      Hmmm. I wish the first employee had spoken to someone about illegal retaliation for complaining about wage theft.

        1. Natalie*

          Not relevant in this case. At-will employment allows the employer to terminate employment for any reason *except those prohibited by law*. Retaliation for filing a wage claim is specifically prohibited, so it’s an exception to the at-will doctrine.

        2. Anna*

          At-will has nothing to do with it. A company still has to abide by non-retaliation laws even if they live in an at-will state. At-will doesn’t magically make breaking the law go away.

    2. HRChick*

      Um, you need to fire your HR consulting company. That’s absolutely retaliation.

      I hope that poor employee is able to file a complaint and sue the company.

      1. Secret*

        His friends urged him too but he didn’t want to deal with the stress of it after a while. I was told we prefer to hire students and disadvantaged people because they know they need the money and won’t bother to fight back. When I handle the main line I always get a few calls/faxes from the state DOL about wage related complaints like the fact we don’t pay hourly people OT till 42.5 hours or we magically modify time cards to reflect less hours worked.

        I’ve been working on getting the hell out of here.

  27. Amy*

    Regarding bedbugs- It was reported to me (HRM) that an employee had an infestation. I called the health department for direction and they stated that bedbugs are a nuisance, but don’t pose any health risks, so they told me to call a lawyer for direction. Our legal counsel told me I couldn’t send the employee home. I ended up going to the employee with printed instructions on how to avoid spread of bedbugs. We were really fortunate that he was able to get rid of them and they weren’t spread. But… lawyer says you can’t really do anything.

    1. Chriama*

      Are you sure the lawyer meant you couldn’t send him home without pay? Because sending him home and paying for an inspection seems to be the smartest and safest course of action here.

      1. Amy*

        That’s what I thought, but it goes back to the nuisance thing… They’re not a health hazard, so you can’t make them leave.

        1. KellyK*

          I thought you could make someone leave for any reason from “We don’t have anything for you to do,” to “Go change your shirt. I don’t like that shade of blue.” But if they’re salaried, you have to pay them for the day. Was the lawyer concerned that this would look like protected class discrimination, or violate a contract?

          Just legally, I mean. Ethically, I think if you send someone home over bedbugs, you should pay them for the day, and pay them for an inspection if you’re requiring it.

        2. Chriama*

          I’m giving the side-eye to your lawyer right now. Sending him home with pay and paying for the inspection is the right course of action. Health hazard or no, they’re really inconvenient and expensive, and if someone comes after your company for knowingly exposing them to this, I don’t think “it’s not a health hazard” is going to protect you from owing damages. Not you personally, of course, but this lawyer sounds plain wrong.

  28. Dweali*

    OP #1

    I work at 2 hospitals and the employee is never sent home after finding one. Upon recognition that the bug is, in fact a bed bug the room/area is shut down (if it’s a patient that has one on them they get a shower with special soap and all their belongings get put into a bag (like a trash bag) and sealed up as good as possible) and an exterminator is called. Once the exterminator sprays the area/room it stays shut down for about 4 hours which is then safe to open the room/area back up.

    Last year I was actually getting bit by a bedbug every weekend when I worked at the second hospital and had no clue what type of bug was biting me (come to find out other co-workers were having the same issue). One night I finally caught the stupid bug and had to go through the process of calling my boss, risk management (2 different people), infection control (not really sure why but was told to), and our employee health in order to get our area sprayed but they never penalized me by not letting me work (and luckily I never took them home).

    Not sure how this differs for offices outside of healthcare though.

  29. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

    #4 I think this sounds like the sort of place that leads applicants to do crazy things like invoice for their time. https://www.askamanager.org/2013/06/a-job-candidate-sent-an-invoice-for-her-interview.html

    This info is outdated, but when I worked in banking (2000-2006), entry level tellers made about $3/hr more than minimum wage. I recently saw a bank here post a teller position at $10/hr, so I don’t think that’s changed much. I am in a low cost of living area though.

  30. HRChick*

    We had a bed bug problem at the university – not in the dorms, but in a department. First, we got a report that there were bed bugs in the offices and so we treated the offices. Then we started hearing that people had them in their homes and then again in the office.

    What we did is we sent everyone home – with pay as long as they kept the appointment we made for them to get their home treated. We paid for their homes to be treated. We also, of course, treated the offices.

    We took it so seriously because this was a department that had a lot of contact with students and the last thing we needed was to have students bringing bedbugs to the dorms. But, we had the dorms checked just in case!

    Now, did the bed bugs start at the university or did someone from that department bring them in? Doesn’t matter. It’s our responsibility to make sure that our students and staff are in a healthy environment and bedbugs are so hard to get a handle on!

  31. Violet_04*

    #1 – There was a bedbug issue at my work this week. They were found on a different floor than were I work, but real estate recommended that everyone leave the building while it was treated. Everyone from my company is able to work from home so that’s what I did for a couple of days. There’s a different company on the other floors so I’m not sure where the bedbugs were spotted or how employees were treated. I think it’s unfair to make an employee take unpaid time off for the issue.

    #2 – I don’t mind a bit of chit chat before a meeting, but 30-45 minutes is excessive. It would be especially annoying that early in the morning. Many days, I have back to back meetings. If non-work talk took up that much of a meeting, I wouldn’t be able to go over everything on the agenda and I don’t have time to extend the meeting to cover what was missed. It’s tough when you’re not the moderator and can’t move things along.

  32. Dina*

    OP #5 – that company seems like an SO that just can’t commit “let’s keep this relationship open” – having their cake and eating it too.

  33. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

    I can’t believe no one has commented that there have been multiple interviews for a *bank teller* position. Never mind compensation … why so many interviews for something that is essentially entry level work?! Don’t the hiring managers have anything better to do?

    1. Mom*

      That’s what I wondered, too. This has to be some snowflake of a bank. Teller jobs are entry level and experience is not usually required or minimal and all you need is to have graduated from high school.

    2. DoDah*

      I was chatting with a Bank Teller with Bank of America the other day. I don’t remember how it came up but she told me it took 4 interviews for B of A to hire her.

    3. Christian Troy*

      It’s not uncommon unfortunately. I think it’s hard for people who don’t job search or aren’t job searching to understand how BAD it is out there. I’ve had a really awful job search and people just don’t believe most of what I tell them because it is SO ridiculous.

    4. leslie knope*

      i’m pretty new to the work world and i always boggle at the idea of up to seven or more interviews for one job. is that typical? what would they even be discussing at interview #7, or is it just that they bring different people in to talk to?

      1. Candi*

        For higher level positions, it’s sometimes about meeting people when they have time in their schedules. (I think that was in an AAM comment thread once as well?)

        But most of the past discussions on salary I’ve read here indicate salary comes up generally by third interview at the latest if the candidate hasn’t brought it up sooner, and usually in the first two. When it hasn’t, or when the person asks and the potential employer does the avoidance sidestep, 99% of the time it’s a scarlet-red flag.

  34. Hotel GM Guy*

    I know a thing or two about bedbugs at work. Luckily none of my staff have ever taken them home, but it is way expensive to get rid of them. It’s not so bad when it’s caught early in a single room (about $1400 per room between buying new furniture and using pesticides,which is why my housekeepers are trained to look for it), but naturally if it does beyond that the costs multiply.

    I’m not surprised your bosses sent you immediately home. In case it were you bringing them in, then they would want to minimize the damages to the office.

  35. Natalie*

    My husband’s company handles it poorly. They manage a number of large apartment building (25+ stories) which means you can’t eradicate the bedbugs. You spray one floor, they move to another one. Even if it were somehow feasible to move everyone out and heat-treat the building, with that many tenants someone would reintroduce bedbugs within a month.

    You’d think, given the situation, they’d give their employees some information on how to reduce the risks of bringing them home. But no, they stayed completely silent even after an employee accidentally infested the home where he was staying temporarily. And they’ve refused to cover the treatment. But, as in many things, this is just one example of how they crap on their employees.

  36. Meg Murry*

    While I agree with everyone else that OP#1’s company should not have penalized the employee whether or not the bedbugs originated from his home, if that argument isn’t going to fly with the company, could OP at least look to see if they have any other similar policies about sending employees home until an investigation is cleared? For instance, in past companies I’ve worked for, (manufacturing, involving the use of heavy equipment like forklifts) – if an operator got into a forklift accident or was otherwise suspected of being drunk or under the influence of other drugs while on the job, they were sent for a drug test (at the company’s expense). The employee was then on a temporary suspension until the test results came back – if the results came back negative, the employee was paid for that time, but if they came back positive the employee was terminated and wasn’t paid for that time off.

    Can OP look to see if the company has a handbook with any other policies regarding people being send home pending the results of an investigation, and being paid if the employee is found not at fault? While I think the company really shouldn’t be penalizing employees *regardless*, right now OP probably wants to fight his/her personal battle and recoup their own losses at the moment, and then later can band together with colleagues to try to craft a better overall policy that doesn’t penalize employees.

  37. oh123*

    Re: #4 – you can be sure the pay is lousy if they are working so hard to avoid discussion of it. I think this workplace sounds like one to be avoided, both for the weirdness/holstility over salary discussion and the probably low pay.

  38. Marisol*

    OP #1 – you might want to take some steps to make sure you don’t bring those critters home with you, such as finding the places at work where they are likely to hide and if you are storing personal belongings in that area, try to put them someplace else and/or keep them in tupperware boxes, etc; and if you don’t have pets that will breath it, buy some diatomaceous earth and sprinkle it around the perimeters of your home in case you do bring a bug home; invest in some mattress covers, stuff like that. Bedbugs travel very slowly so there might not be any danger of you bringing them home; on the other hand, you are at work every day so the likelihood increases. But your inspector might have told you stuff like that.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I think everybody ought to invest in mattress & pillow covers. Just so you’re protected and don’t have to deal with treating the mattress.

      My BIL and SIL had them, and they fumigated the mattress, and she has vulnerable lungs–and then slept on that mattress. I kept thinking, “Why didn’t he just get two mattress covers and put them over the mattress, from opposite ends? Then the bugs would be trapped inside and die–even if it took years. And you’d be safe.”

  39. Marisol*

    OP #2 – show up to the meeting on time and use this as an opportunity to build political capital. Don’t stay mute on the other end of the phone. Get informed on the topics your higher-ups are shooting the breeze on and join in. At the very least, you can ask some questions and let them mansplain to you (although it’s not really mansplaining since it sounds like you actually do know less than they do on the topic of sports or whatever it is.) The chit-chat is NOT secondary to the purpose of the meeting. Managers promote people they like. Now go out there and kiss some ass!

  40. Lillian McGee*

    I am fascinated by bedbugs! Did you know that bedbugs have been constant human companions ever since we moved into caves? Bedbugs evolved from batbugs–once we moved in they adapted specifically to humans and have been with us ever since. We’re only noticing a ‘resurgence’ of them now because DDT all but eradicated them in the US before it was banned. Then international travel got a big boost in the 80s and well… here we are.

    We are still working on a formal bedbug policy in my workplace but we have seen them pretty often. We work with renters who are disputing with their landlords and bedbugs are a very common complaint, and they often hitch rides to our office. Our first line of defense is having our waiting room furnished in a way that infestations are not possible: no carpet, no fabric covered chairs. We also restrict renters (clients) to specific areas so that if they do bring a hitchhiker we know where to inspect first.

    As someone else mentioned, the best inspections are done by dogs who are trained to alert when they smell bedbugs. So if we have a sighting, we call in the dogs! Trained humans can also do inspections, but it’s really hard to spot them in an office because they are really good at hiding and there are no real definite “hotspots” like there are in a home. Bedbugs are attracted by heat and carbon dioxide, so wherever a human sits for a long time is where they will go looking for food. People tend to move around a lot in offices (at least in ours).

    So far, we have never had an infestation that needed treatment, but some of our staff have had to treat their homes (specifically folks who do home visits with clients, so we figure that’s how they got em). It’s pretty much understood that bedbugs are likely to pop up every now and then and everyone here is educated on how to prevent letting them loose in their homes. Similarly, staff knows that if they have a problem at home they need to isolate their work stuff to avoid bringing bedbugs here.

    EDUCATION IS KEY! Find some kind of advocacy group in your area who can train your HR staff. Here in Chicago, the Midwest Pesticide Action Center is our go-to. They’re great. Pesticides are the least effective way to treat bedbugs, so their true agenda is really relevant. Finally, bedbugs are extremely prolific breeders. The males are AGGRESSIVE maters (it’s fascinatingly disgusting, if you care to google it) and a single pregnant female can lead to a serious infestation in a matter of weeks. Therefore, it is important to act quickly when a bedbug is spotted. Having periodic professional inspections done is ideal (and something I will be asking for in next year’s budget.

    I’ll reply below with a link to some bedbug resources from the MPAC.

  41. Anon Guy*

    #1: Your company’s approach is *REALLY* shortsighted. It means NO ONE is EVER going to report anything they see again for fear of being sent home without pay!

  42. Student*

    OP #1 – I strongly recommend you insist this be treated as a business cost, since you were not responsible for the bedbugs.

    Please be a little understanding toward the harsh tactics to stop the bedbugs that were imposed on you (understanding from an emotional, not financial standpoint). This really is exactly what a company should do, procedure-wise, to handle bedbugs, and from their standpoint the odds were very good that you were the bedbug infestation vector. Bedbugs are a menace to get rid of.

    Now that you are found to not be the vector, the office itself needs an inspection, and a general note should be sent out to employees if bedbugs are found to be an office issue. You should keep vigilant for more of them in your work area; since you aren’t the vector, it’s somebody near you. Consider putting plastic covers on your office furniture, and/or hot-drying your clothes immediately when you go home, for a week or until it’s found there’s no office-wide problem. You don’t want to bring these home or into your car; it costs even more than you’re already out to eliminate them once they get a foothold.

    1. Student*

      Also – diatomaceous earth. Sprinkle some around your sitting area at work. Cheap and effective way to keep bed bugs out. Reapply after carpets are vacuumed until you’re confident the bed bug thing was a one-off and not an infestation.

      1. EW*

        This is not something you really want to “sprinkle” all around a place you spend 40+ hours a week!

  43. Jules*

    #3 The information that flows through pay related work are confidential. Unless there is an audit, confidential work is confidential. You don’t share about any pay information with anyone. This is why I prefer finance to only get the gross number rather than in details. Really is not anyone elses business except the employee. So what if someone wages are being garnished? Is he currently stealing money? No? Leave it alone.

  44. crazy8s*

    here’s an interesting issue–I work for an organization that does rental management. The handymen have come to management with concerns that they have picked up bedbugs from working in these units–cleaning them out when someone leaves, doing pest control management, etc—and they want the company to pay to exterminate their homes. Our position is that it’s not possible to know for sure what the source of their home infestation is and so we cannot pay to exterminate their homes. Thoughts?

  45. ASD*

    OP 1, at my last job they found bedbugs in a cubicle on the other side of my (rather large) floor. The company had the entire floor cleaned and inspected and paid for a bed bug inspector (a beagle named Daisy!) to come to each of our homes to check for bed bugs. I luckily didn’t have any, but several of my coworkers did. The company helped pay for the cost of cleaning/removing the infestations in their homes but did not reimburse them for the items they were forced to throw out. I think because it couldn’t be proven where the infestation began, there was no way to know who brought the bed bugs to the office and who brought the bed bugs from the office to their home.

  46. Safety Anon*

    About the bedbugs! I’m a Certified Safety Professional working in oil & gas as an occupational health & safety subject matter expert, and can speak to this with certainty regarding OSHA requirements. Take this back to your employer, they do have certain obligations here, and you may have a legal case – I’m not a lawyer, so consult an attorney for that. Here’s the relevant section of the standard and a link to the full OSHA standard. Supervisors/safety team/Human Resources are all the proper places to start with this. The incident should be reported in accordance with workplace practices and procedures.

    29 cFR 1910.141(a)(5)
    Vermin control. Every enclosed workplace shall be so constructed, equipped, and maintained, so far as reasonably practicable, as to prevent the entrance or harborage of rodents, insects, and other vermin. A continuing and effective extermination program shall be instituted where their presence is detected.

    29 CFR 1910.141 – OSHA General Environmental Controls. Sanitation. Vermin control.

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