open thread – December 9-10, 2016

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

{ 1,536 comments… read them below }

  1. ThatGirl*

    FLSA update: It’s so frustrating. My husband’s job let nearly a week go into December before on Tuesday they called him into a meeting to tell him that no, in fact, he’s not getting the $3200/year raise he was promised (or the two months off), because not only is the FLSA change on hold but they don’t expect it to go through at all. And I should add that he and all his co-workers had been subjected to paycuts this past year, so that wasn’t even a “real” raise, it would’ve just taken him back to just above where he was before. Argh.

      1. ThatGirl*

        In order to not pay him the full minimum nonexempt salary, he was going to be converted to a 10-month position (he’s staff at a university). So it was a smaller raise and two months “unpaid” instead of a bigger raise. Not the ideal maybe but he was on board with it.

        1. BAS*

          That actually wasn’t legal under the FLSA rules. There was no provision for pro-rating people who were less than full time.

          1. ThatGirl*

            You’re misunderstanding. The guidelines state a minimum weekly pay, and he would’ve been paid that. But it would’ve been for 46 weeks a year instead of 52, and he would’ve had 8 weeks totally off. It’s common in academic positions. Still full time, just not full-year.

          2. HRChick*

            You can’t pro-rate hours, but as long as someone is making the weekly minimum, they’re good. So, you can pro-rate the year.

    1. A European*

      I don’t think ours are all that anonymous – by the time you’ve broken down to gender, seniority and location you don’t need to be Miss Marple to know at least broadly who said what. So I keep that in mind. I do fill them out, however, because if you’re unhappy about certain things and get an opportunity to input about them you can either do that or stop complaining. Incidentally, our surveys are global and the Europeans normally come out on top in terms of being the last satisfied, whereas our American and Asian colleagues are normally more chirpy.

  2. 42*

    I’d like to take an informal poll. I have read the comments about anonymous employee surveys in the AAM archives, it was very informative. I currently have one sitting on my inbox, I haven’t filled it out yet.

    Our survey is handled by an outside company that ensures anonymity. So as an informal poll, do you complete employee surveys?

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Yes. Ours is administered internally (we operate a survey research service so although it’s best practice to use an outside company we just couldn’t make it make sense financially), so I was aware that distant coworkers might see it and was slightly circumspect, but mostly open.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I do, but our owners and upper management work hard to keep employees happy, so I have no reason to believe they’d violate anonymity, and if they did I wouldn’t worry about retaliation.

      It really depends on the environment, whether there’s any trust there. Although using an outside company should provide some protection, I would probably google the company name first if I had reason to worry.

      1. 42*

        Agreed. For the record I love my job and my company, they’re been nothing but wonderful to me in the years I’ve been there. I don’t know why I’m stalling on filling it out.

      2. Ama*

        Yeah, I would (and have) at my current company because I trust them (although here they have mostly been from outside vendors about how we use software or insurance benefits).

        However, at a previous employer information from a survey was once used by an executive VP to lecture everyone via mass email on not leaving work early (it was a survey about a potential bike share program and one of the questions asked you to estimate potential hours you “might” use the bikes — I’m pretty sure people gave generous estimates just in case they needed to come in late/leave early, not because people were doing so regularly). After that incident, I stopped doing any surveys for that employer because I didn’t trust them to use the information they were collecting for the purpose they said they would use it for.

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      I always did at my last job, and I was brutally honest in my comments. Now, I really didn’t care if anyone figured out who I was or not. But I did that 3 years in a row, and there was no blowback onto me personally for my comments. This was a large company (about 3000 employees), so it really would have taken some effort to track down which comments came from which person.

      1. The Rat-Catcher*

        Same. I am just sending out my first one via SurveyMonkey. I don’t know how it works exactly yet but I am thinking and hoping that they truly will be anonymous.

    4. Blue Anne*

      I do, personally, but I’ve only had surveys when I worked at enormous companies where individual were very unlikely to be identifiable. (Or where people were very unlikely to CARE about identifying individuals.)

    5. NW Mossy*

      I do, and in fact I’m presenting to my team later today about the results of ours. All of them participated, and I really appreciate that. Surveys are often more for the benefit of management than they are for individual employees, and it’s a big help to me when my team participates and gives me feedback I can use to be a better manager to them in the future. It’s really hard for most people to give face-to-face feedback to their boss because of the power dynamics, so this is sometimes the only way I hear about issues that are on peoples’ minds.

    6. NK*

      I do. My company is huge, and I trust that it’s anonymous. And frankly, I’d tell the CEO himself about my chief complaint lately if he asked me (surrounding the ridiculous confusion about how to take maternity leave/FMLA when it should be a clear process with documented procedures).

      1. SouthernLadybug*

        I’ve just gone through a round of conflicting info from HR myself. It shouldn’t be this hard. It’s not like it’s that unique of an occurrence!

    7. AndersonDarling*

      I answer them, but if there are identifying questions such as how long you worked there, your gender, age… I put “choose not to answer.” We’ve had executives run around trying to find out who said what and I don’t want to give them any clues. Not that I say anything terrible, but you never know who will be offended.

    8. DoDah*

      No–because I know they are not anonymous. Last year our VP (who got the lowest score in the organization) called out one of the staff (in a dept meeting) about a comment he made. He said, “Staff-member am I doing better about not calling you, texting you or emailing you on nights/weekends/holidays and expecting a response.”

      The Staff-member said that he was. But trust me he was not.

      1. Cambridge Comma*

        Our anonymous surveys are also not anonymous; a colleague whom I trust told me that they are saved to your personnel file each year.

      2. Juli G.*

        Look, sometimes you read the comments and you know who wrote it. But you NEVER call them out on it. Come on!

        1. DoDah*

          But–wait it gets better. That instance of Evil VP calling out staff member happened 2 years ago. Since then, all departments in the organization are now surveyed yearly EXCEPT those that report to Evil VP.

    9. Susan*

      I do. I’m not 100% convinced about the anonymity, but I’m not particularly afraid of being identified because anything negative I say is likely to be something that other people have already openly complained about. Of course, the surveys never lead to any changes, anyway.

    10. Lore*

      Ours is multiple-choice only, no individual comments, and they make a *big* deal about 100 percent participation. Like, in my division we hit 100% on the Monday of Thanksgiving week and the division head walked around personally thanking everyone and then gave us the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off, paid, and another “free” personal day to take in December. They also anonymize to the extent that if your supervisor has three to five direct reports, all of them have to give permission for their feedback about said supervisor to be reported to her, and if your supervisor has fewer than three direct reports, that feedback only goes to the survey review committee, not the supervisor. (If she has five or more, they consider that sufficiently anonymized that there won’t be blowback, especially since there’s no room for actual individual commentary.) The survey also seems to get shorter every time they do it, so that makes it easier though possibly less useful.

    11. Sherm*

      I do. I trust my company, and all the questions are of the “From 1-10, how do you rate…” variety, so there’s no chance I could leave a comment that would be attributed to me. I’m also sympathetic that they need a high participation rate for the survey to be meaningful. If not many people fill it out, it’s hard to tell whether those responders are reflective of the company as a whole. (Maybe they are the ones who are most dissatisfied and wanted to give a piece of their minds. Or maybe the ones who are most dissatisfied were more reluctant to fill out the survey.)

    12. Sophie Winston*

      I do. I respond with complete honestly to the numerical parts. I only provide free form comments I would be comfortable saying directly to my boss.

      My company responds to some items but not others. I think they are doing the best they can with the resources they have.

    13. Jubilance*

      Yes. My current company is really big, and they use an outside vendor. We get the results back relatively quickly and leaders work with their teams to improve. In my 4 years here, big changes have happened at my company that were directly from feedback from the survey – relaxed dress code, parental leave for both men & women, moving to 3wks vacation time as the minimum, more flexible work arrangements, etc.

    14. Augusta Sugarbean*

      Yes and I’m always completely honest but I’m union and not worried about getting fired or blowback. We also have very weak management and they can barely manage to fire someone for something totally egregious so they’d never do anything about someone stating in writing the problems they know exist. In a different workplace, I’d be honest but probably pick my battles and be more careful in how I described things.

    15. NJ Anon*

      Yes, but with the expectation that they will not really be anonymous. None of the ones I have ever taken were “kept” anonymous. However, they were in-house, not by a third-party.

    16. Ella*

      Yes. This is how our company gets feedback on climate, so I think it’s really valuable to be able to share my perspective.

    17. SaaSyPaaS*

      It depends on how busy I am, and what the survey is about. I did not bother with the last one they sent out because there were too many essay type answers for ridiculous questions, and you couldn’t just skip some of the questions. Answers to each were mandatory before you could submit the survey, so I passed on that one.

    18. Sibley*

      I do, except for one which they way it was designed really didn’t make sense for the way I work. I try to be open and honest as well.

    19. ITChick*

      I do and I’m usually very honest and blunt in my comments. Our hospital uses an outside company to maintain anonymity, and they also explicitly state that if the results or feedback for a question or comment is less than a certain number they will not report any demographic information for it. The demographics are things like job category (RN, CNA, Lab Tech, etc.), years of service, age group, and gender. In my smaller department no demographic information is reported because you could easily figure out what responses went with which person.

    20. Soupspoon McGee*

      I used to, the first few years I worked at my last employer, a college. But I saw how management responded to surveys–they took criticism personally but never addressed it. My second year there, in a large meeting, one of my colleagues said publicly that he didn’t feel the surveys were truly anonymous, so he wasn’t inclined to give truthful answers; the president respond with a very hurt, “But that sounds like you don’t trust us!” This colleague was not treated well after that.

      The last survey I completed had identifying information (gender, years at the college, classification–so faculty, staff, admin, etc.). There wasn’t an option not to provide those details, so I said I was faculty (I’m not). In admin meetings, management grumbled about the disgruntled faculty and dismissed any criticism.

    21. Sabrina the Teenage Witch*

      We were sent an employee survey to complete this year, but the results were meant to be shared with supervisors. I wouldn’t complete an anonymous survey unless I could verify that it was handled by someone outside the company.

    22. Beautiful Loser*

      Never. I don’t care how anonymous they claim it is. I have witnessed retaliation at several different employers due to these “anonymous” surveys

    23. SMT*

      OldJob did this, too. They did a good job of explaining how anonymous it is, and they talk a lot about the changes that they make in response to the survey.

    24. H.C.*

      I take them, it’s fairly anonymous (conducted by outside vendor, you can only see team scores/breakdowns if you have 4+ direct reports, otherwise it gets “rolled up” to your supervisor) – but unfortunately, follow-up actions addressing low scores in X & Y readily forgotten shortly after.

    25. DevManager*

      I do. We use an outside company that does warn us not to put anything too identifying in it as managers of teams over 6 people will see the full comments.

      I’ve also been the person compiling the results of surveys to determine what action items should be suggested to management to make employees happier. For some teams, because of their demographics, it was really easy to figure out who made the comments, so it’s something to be aware of. (I took the confidentiality seriously. Just because I knew that Wakeen was the only 20-29 year old male reporting to Julianne, it doesn’t mean that I told her that he was the one with x issue.)

    26. Wendy Darling*

      I do ones that are company-wide. Especially at my last employer, which had tens of thousands of employees. Even though it was administered internally, the company was so big I was comfortable that I would be anonymous.

      On the other hand the job I just quit my current job and they asked me to do an “anonymous” exit survey. This company has a few hundred employees worldwide, less than 100 in my country, and I am the only one who quit this week. So I did not do that because even though my name isn’t on it everyone knows.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        We do company-wide ones as well, and I fill those out honestly because we have 5k+ employees so no is going to go tracking down exactly who said what. My division also does there own year-end survey, and at first, I thought I wouldn’t take it because even though we’ve grown in size, it’s still pretty easy to tell who said what. However, after their last survey (which I didn’t get to take because I didn’t work there yet), I’ve seen how our SVP has been trying hard to address the things that are in his control, so I may take it after all since I now know action will be taken if it’s within his authority to do so.

    27. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve always worked in small orgs, so any employee survey I fill out I never leave detailed feedback, because it can almost certainly be traced back to me. Unfortunately, I’ve found the administrators and managers who are the most open to honest feedback are usually the ones who don’t need much criticism, and the ones who need the most honest and detailed feedback are the ones most likely to retaliate.

    28. Annie Moose*

      Yes. The only one I didn’t was because my company had just been bought by a larger company, and the questions were simply not applicable to me. (can’t comment on Program X, because I’m not familiar with it… can’t comment on the difference between last year’s whatever and this year’s, because I’ve only been a part of this company for two months… etc.)

    29. SophieChotek*

      Yes I take them.

      I think I have commented before that even though an outside company administers our surveys, the results/comments are broken down by individual store, so our manager (we have a staff of less than 20) could still figure out who was writing what/about who –and honestly, even tried to figure it out (by asking me).

      I took them less for my manager (despite the annoying habit she had of trying to figure out how wrote what) because she was a good manager, and more because I wanted corporate to see there were issue they needed to address that were beyond my manager’s control. (i.e. they would not give her a budget to keep our equipment in working order. One of the question was something like “Do you have the tools to do your job?” me: “No.”)

    30. Girasol*

      Our company had issues at the top that were often pointed out in surveys. HR ordered our direct manager to take immediate steps to solve these problems, which he could not since these matters were not in his hands. It left him upset that not only did he bear the brunt of the tops-down problems but that the interpretation of the survey showed that we blamed him for them. So I filled out the survey so that HR saw his team cooperating, and I kept the response blandly positive.

      Besides, if hundreds of people are surveyed, all the carefully crafted comments tend to overwhelm the action team and cancel each other out. Those tasked with winnowing out the three top issues from those comments and the check marks on ambiguous questions end up with such sweeping generalities that, with all the best intentions, they change the brand of coffee and call the job done.

    31. Purest Green*

      I did them for four years until this year when I finally realized nothing is being done with the information.

    32. Seal*

      I do and at times am brutally honest with my feedback. Based on conversations I’ve had with coworkers, I know there are others who have the same concerns I do. I operate under the assumption that at least a few other people will also provide brutally honest feedback about the same issues. My sense is that the administration is more likely to act if they see a pattern of complaints rather than if they come from one person.

    33. James*

      Only about things I care about. I work in a huge company, and there are a lot of things that simply don’t affect me, and which I don’t feel informed enough to comment on. I’ve closed out of online surveys before when it became obvious that they were talking about things that don’t have much if any impact on my job.

      Frankly, I consider most of them to be fairly useless. In a company big enough to need an anonymous survey you’re going to have significant problems disentangling signal from noise, and are often going to regress to the mean whether that’s a good solution or not. And most of them I’ve taken have been so poorly-worded and have made the “right” answers so obvious that they were completely worthless regardless of any other issue. Not that I think this was intentional–it’s just that drafting surveys is hard and most people fail horribly at it.

    34. AngtheSA*

      We don’t have one at my company but they do at my husbands. He took it and it lets you give comments about what you want most to change. He said their benefits and pay were not the best especially for the support/admin people and sales. He is privy to people salary information so he does see the discrepancy. They say that they are open to feedback so we will see.

    35. One Handed Typist*

      We are required to have an annual survey to our program participants. I administer it and take steps to ensure it is anonymous – but we are required to have 100% completion by program participants. They log in to complete the survey but I do not know which answers are theirs, only that it was completed.

      However, it’s pretty easy to look at some answers and know exactly who said it because of the nature of the complaints.

    36. Nancy B*

      I do, because I’ve seen how our management really does use the information in those survey’s to make positive changes to our workplace.

    37. Caroline*

      I recently filled out one. It was about job satisfaction. Maybe it is really anonymous, maybe not. I was perfectly honest. I also brought up some pretty controversial things, but I did it diplomatically. I didn’t write anything I wouldn’t be willing to stand by if called out, but I appreciate the anonymous nature to take the awkwardness out of initially bringing up problems.

    38. Juli G.*

      I do. But because of my role and the nature of my comments, I might as well have just signed my name this year anyway. But I have pretty decent faith that they’ll act appropriately anyway (or they’ll say “Eh, she moved departments since the survey. She’s someone else’s problem now.)

    39. ughhhhhhh*

      We had a fun experience this year. In a company of 20k++, we were told our surveys were anonymous. Then afterwards, found out that senior managers and above were getting the results of their teams surveys so they could discuss the results, talk through the pain points, and make improvements.

      I’m on a team of 6, and my role is semi-unique to my dept, so it’s fun that my manager (who is my BIGGEST PROBLEM at work) got an “anonymized” version of my complaints, ABOUT HIM, which by nature are not even remotely anonymous since no one on my team could have the same concerns. Cool.

      1. ughhhhhhh*

        upon reading through the comments that were posted while i was typing… i see it’s pretty common for supervisors to get results of surveys. i find that interesting, because it’s never been done before for us. (or they were given at a director level or VP level where there are like 100 employees in the group… never handed over to a manger of a team of 6 who is notorious for taking things out on you if he thinks you’re a complainer or a whiner.) i never would’ve participated honestly if it was sold to us as “anonymous in that your name won’t be on it, but it will be given to your boss to read.”

      2. Zoe*

        As someone who works in media/PR, my rule of thumb is to assume NOTHING you put in writing (emails, texts, IMs, your diary, AFM comments, etc) in either your personal life or work life is ever anonymous, or private. Is this paranoid? Yes. Has it saved me a few times? Yes.

        Still, shame on your company for not communicating to employees that they would share survey results with supervisors. That’s just going to demoralize employees and ensure they never take it seriously in the future.

    40. Clever Name*

      I do. I work for a small company, and I know for a fact that the owner takes the results into account when enacting new or changing policies or procedures. I keep in mind that “anonymous” surveys may not be entirely anonymous. Many surveys keep each respondent’s answers together in addition to aggregating the responses, so in theory someone could figure out who said what based on writing style, position in the company, etc.

    41. The Strand*

      The last one I took was for a national organization that ranks and analyzes other organizations like the one I work for. I received a “personalized” link but was told I’d have anonymity. I answered honestly, but also from a more anonymous wifi location) (e.g. Starbucks) rather than onsite.

    42. Kinsley M.*

      As an HR rep who actually has a hand in putting these together, I say take it. We also use a third party vendor. All I do is give the vendor current email addresses for our staff. We never see the individual answers. We only see the aggregate report given to us by the vendor.

      For my company, employee surveys are so important. Selfishly, I beseech you to take the survey and, most importantly, be honest. It’s always frustrating when we know that there are problems in locations (yet don’t have any definitive proof/no one will come forward), but when surveys come back everyone said everything was great. It’s really hard to get operations to act when ‘well the employees said in their anonymous survey that everything is great and management is awesome.’

    43. Charlotte Collins*

      I do. But I can be a bit cagey about some things, since some of the surveys (such as about management) could easily lead back to me or the one other person in my department. So, certain surveys are completed more honestly than others. (When you are one of two people in a department and one of two people with a particular job title, then you sometimes have to make sure anonymity is truly anonymous.)

    44. k*

      I do! Ours are done online, through sites like Survey Monkey so they’re anonymous. The results of them are taken seriously, and with our company’s culture I would find it hard to imagine anyone being punished for negative feedback if it were linked to them. I’ve actually seen some positive changes that have come about due to issues that were raised through the survey.

    45. Rob Lowe can't read*

      I do. Our annual survey is also handled by an outside agency, and my union leadership (who are all peers) emphasize the importance of filling it out and the anonymity of the process. I trust them, so I fill it out.

    46. Chaordic One*

      I did at first. One survey that showed widespread unhappiness about low pay (below market rates) did get some management attention (and a lot of lame excuses). Then came the survey about racism in the workplace and management attempted to “whitewash” the results.

      After that there two more surveys that were attempts to get onto a list of “best places to work” but I ignored them. One year there were supposedly not enough surveys turned in to qualify. The next year the company claimed to have been selected, but when I thoroughly looked at the actual business magazine running the survey, I could not find our company actually listed there.

      There was a lot of turnover and I expect most of the dissatisfied people have either left or been fired and it wouldn’t surprise me if they got back on the “best places to work” list again. You really had to have been there a couple of years to figure out how dysfunctional the place was and that they’d never give you the respect you deserved.

  3. Maria*

    We had our holiday party yesterday and I’m still trying to recover from the embarrassment of people bearing witness to my salsa “dancing.” I do feel accomplished however for organizing a successful event and not falling on my face (dancing or otherwise).

    1. Merida May*

      Congrats! Event organizing is no easy feat, and I doubt anyone remembers the finer points of your dancing – just that there *was* dancing!

    2. MoinMoin*

      I can’t dance so I’d never notice or critique someone else’s dancing. It would have to be comically bad for me to notice and then I would assume that was your intention.

  4. ThatGirl*

    I’m ticked off at the higher-ups at my husband’s job, but here’s something positive.

    A co-worker relayed last week that her cousin (I’ll call her C, not sure where she works) was facing no PTO left and a dying father in hospice and, upon telling her manager that she needed to take some time off to be with him, C was told “if you leave, don’t come back, you’re fired.” We counseled co-worker to tell C that she needed to talk to HR about this and I specifically said she should look at FMLA time because she would likely be eligible for that, and even though it wasn’t paid time off, it would ensure she still had a job. Co-worker reported back to us yesterday that C is getting her FMLA time and that the awful manager was being dealt with by HR and she was reassured her job is safe.

    1. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      That was very nice and helpful of you to counsel her, and I am very happy about that outcome! I hope her manager isn’t nasty to her when she comes back, but tell her if he is, to document everything.

    2. zora*

      And I’m glad C talked to her cousin and got good advice from her and you!! What a terrible manager, but yay for the outcome!

    3. Gadfly*

      I had to take FMLA for a dying father. Same sort of situation–a manager who thought she knew it wouldn’t count versus the actual text of the law. HR followed the law, or I don’t know what I would have done (being young and unclear of my rights and how to follow up on these things.) I hope they watch the manager for any signs of retaliation, and I hope she has been warned FMLA stops applying once the father passes (I was devastated and really could have used at least a day to process, but it wasn’t covered)

  5. AndersonDarling*

    I turned in my notice for my second job! No more two jobs! I was trying to remember how long ago I began working there, and I can’t remember the year, but when I started I bought a Zune to put my work music on. It was a long time ago… (in a Microsoft far, far away…)

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I am! Especially weekends- this will be the last Saturday that I need to work. I’m still going to be working with some of the customers through my own business, but I’ll make my own schedule and I’ll get the full payment. It is going to be so weird having all the time back.

  6. legalchef*

    I told my job that I am pregnant this week! I told my boss first, of course, and she was so excited for me! She asked if I thought about how much time I was going to take, and then said “you’ll be a little short of FMLA, but of course we will honor it.” She also said she is fine with me fudging my sick time within reason (which is great, since my doctor is 2 blocks from my office, I usually just use the lunch hour that I never take anyway for my appointment, but if I can’t do that or it runs over, it’s nice that she isn’t going to be such a stickler). And, she said that I should definitely feel free to work from home when I need to, especially closer to my due date. So, hooray!

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      Congratulations! Wonderful news! Having a supportive boss during pregnancy was a huge relief for me. One less stress!

    2. The Rat-Catcher*

      Congratulations!! Great that they’re not coming down on the FMLA thing. People at my org in a different city are asking about how to “get around” FMLA when it’s causing hardships. Luckily we have a pretty competent HR department so that won’t get off the ground, but the principle is annoying. (We are WAY too big for the size exemption.)

  7. Blue Anne*

    Insurance question!

    I’m in Ohio. I have a good friend who has health insurance through her employer, and is struggling with serious health problems. She is currently off work, using up her sick leave and paid time off. This will be used up within the next few days. After that time, she will be on unpaid leave until she is able to come back, at which point she will be moved into a different, part-time role in a location which works better for her disability. This all makes it sound like her employer has been awesome about working with her, right?

    She was scheduled for a major surgery on her foot TODAY. Yesterday, she found out that her employer had cut off her health insurance. She had spoken with the HR person about all the arrangement above on 11/28, and then they cut off her health insurance effective 11/30, without telling her. The HR person has known she had this surgery scheduled since October.

    The surgery isn’t going ahead until she has insurance again. (And after that, until they can book her in again.) I don’t know much about health insurance but it just seems like come on, surely they can’t DO that to her?!

    Help! Does anyone know anything I don’t?

    1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      Is she paying her portion? Still employed? What was the reasoning behind ending her coverage?

      1. Blue Anne*

        She is still employed. I know she’s been having money problems, but I don’t think it’s gotten to the point where she’s not paying bills, and her health insurance would be pretty much her first priority.

        They didn’t tell her anything about cancelling her coverage – she found out at the hospital – so I don’t think they’ve given her a reason.

    2. NacSacJack*

      She should be able to get COBRA within 45 days of Employer Provider Health Insurance. I’d call the insurance company to found out what is necessary, then call HR and walk them through the steps.

      1. Natalie*

        It’s 60 days. You have 45 days to make a premium payment once you have elected to take COBRA coverage.

            1. Natalie*

              Answered my own question – the 30 days appears to be their mini-COBRA, which extends coverage to employers that are too small to be covered by federal COBRA. It has no effect on the notice period if you’re covered by big COBRA.

      2. Blue Anne*

        She had discussed transitioning to COBRA once she was in the part-time role, but my understanding (and hers of course) is that she was going to be covered on her existing health insurance until then. I may be optimistic here, but I would think that knowing she had a bunch of medical stuff including a big surgery scheduled for the interim, the HR person would have made it very clear if the opposite was actually the case?

    3. TL -*

      Has she talked to HR? I think that at least she should bring up the possibility of this feeling like retaliation for using FSLA (which isn’t okay) – nobody that I know who has used that has lost their benefits.

      1. A Day at the Zoo*

        Legally if she is on FMLA, her employer MUST continue her health insurance — that is federal law and overrides any state laws. State continuation laws only override the feds if they are better than the feds (see CA or HI for example).

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          I thought this was the case.

          When a bunch of staff was reclassified at work, nobody was told that they would have to sign up for health insurance through the system (different benefit structure), and people didn’t realize that they weren’t covered until somebody noticed it when looking in the system after the first 5 days of the effective change (most people don’t just look at their benefit info on a daily basis).

          I submitted an online ethics referral noting that this was probably against the ACA (FT staff at company with well over 50 employees) and that none of us wanted to be responsible for the taxes for not being covered when we thought we were.

          They backdated everyone coverage pretty quickly.

          Oh, and this was an insurance company. That contracts to process government benefits claims. This made everyone much angrier about the situation.

    4. GigglyPuff*

      I’m wondering, would she have been covered by health insurance in the part-time position? If not, it’s possible they already moved her over to that position in the system to fill her old one, so the insurance got cut off. But dear lord, that’s really awful.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq*

          Well, if she drops below 30 hours, even if the employer is required to generally offer coverage, it’s probably not required to offer it to her.

          1. MsCHX*

            Again. The ACA requires a look back period. Dropping below 30 hours may not immediately result in loss of coverage.

            Once a full-time employee is in “a stability period” (a type of measurement period), they must generally be offered coverage until the end of the calendar year regardless of their current hours worked.

      1. Blue Anne*

        She was going to move on to COBRA once she started the part-time position. I’m really unfamiliar with health insurance (I’ve spent the last decade in a country with socialized health care) but from what she’s saying, the plan was for there to be no breaks in her employment and no breaks in her health insurance.

        1. Natalie*

          There won’t be a break in her health care if she opts for COBRA – continuation coverage is retroactive to the date she lost employer-sponsored coverage provided she elects for it and pays the premiums within the deadlines.

          1. Blue Anne*

            Okay, this is really good to know. I’m wondering if something was lost in translation between her and the HR person here. It sounds like maybe the plan was for her to go off the existing health insurance after her meeting, and transition onto COBRA with the retroactive coverage? Does that sound like a reasonable thing to happen?

            1. Natalie*

              Sure, that’s entirely possible. Is she on FMLA-protected leave, though? If she is, they can’t put her on COBRA, they have to keep paying their portion of the premium.

              1. Blue Anne*

                I think she is? I’m not totally clear on the definitions.

                Everything in this country is so complicated! :)

            2. MsCHX*

              Right. If she is eligible for FMLA, this isn’t relevant – they have to continue her coverage. And the onus is on the employer to begin an FMLA claim, not the employee.

      2. A Day at the Zoo*

        Another thought — if she was cut off from her employer’s coverage, they must notify her of her COBRA rights within two weeks. I have seen hospitals and medical providers pay for COBRA in order to get procedures done. How big is the company? FMLA only kicks in when there are 75 people and federal COBRA kicks in at 20, but some states are less.

      3. GigglyPuff*

        Since you mentioned further down she’s not the best with paperwork. You might also want to remind her, there’s only a few more days for open enrollment to get insurance coverage for next year. (If that’s an option where she lives, I don’t know too much about the exchanges because I have insurance through my employer.)

        1. zora*

          But if she’s dropped from her employer’s health insurance, that is a qualifying event, so she can apply at that time. She doesn’t have to be inside the open enrollment time period.

    5. Natalie*

      This is super hinky. They actually aren’t allowed to cut her off the insurance because of the claims or because she’s using FMLA. She should contact HR and find out what happened with the coverage.

      She also has the right to COBRA, which is expensive but would be the same coverage she made all these care decisions with. She has until 60 days after receiving the election notice to decide whether to use COBRA coverage.

      1. Natalie*

        If you want to do some internetting, both HIPAA (the P doesn’t stand for privacy) and ERISA have provisions that apply to employer provided group coverage.

      2. SouthernLadybug*

        This is super hinky. I think it’s worth her time to contact a lawyer as well as HR. She may be able to get information from the Ohio Dept. of Insurance, as well.

        The Health Policy Institute of Ohio has excellent briefs on insurance requirements in general (I’ll link in another comment).

        I wish her luck – this isn’t passing the smell test with me.

        1. Blue Anne*

          Good point, thanks. Come to think of it a family friend is actually a pretty well known lawyer in this city – I might give him a quick call after I’ve researched this a little more, ask what he thinks.

    6. MsCHX*

      Is she on FMLA? If she is on FMLA she should still have insurance – with the employer paying their portion and her paying her portion.

      Does her company offer short term disability?

      Is she *certain* that she wasn’t notified at the onset of her leave that her coverage would end? I had someone term and I notified him that as part of his severance we would continue coverage for 2 months, giving the end date, and he was upset and surprised when his insurance terminated. Just saying, sometimes in an emotional state (e.g. illness, injury, termination), things get lost.

      1. Blue Anne*

        I’ve wondered about this a little myself. This person is really lovely but… not the best on paperwork type things? (One of the things we were going to do when she was housebound post-op was sit down in her house with my accountant hat on and go through all her bills etc., get rid of unnecessary stuff and draw up a budget…)

        Is there a format for how people must be notified? Is a letter required, or is it possible she was notified during a conversation and didn’t realize the ramifications? I think if it was set out in a letter she’d been handed, she would’ve picked up on it.

        1. GigglyPuff*

          I feel like I’ve gotten letters in the mail with information on COBRA coverage if it’s desired.

        2. sarah*

          Every time I have left a job and gotten the COBRA paperwork, it is through a letter that also includes the cost of what my insurance would be if I chose to use it.

          I would also strongly recommend looking into exchange coverage for 2017 — while COBRA is fine for short gaps, it is insanely expensive and I think not really a long-term solution for all but the super-rich. (I think at my last job when I got the letter, it would have been something like $900/month — probably not realistic for someone working part time).

            1. zora*

              Well, have her look at COBRA anyway. I think ACA has affected that, too, because I’m currently on it and mine was only $250/month, so I have paid for it myself for a couple of months to stay with my doctors a little bit longer.

              1. zora*

                And, based on everything else you’ve said, I think she should still be covered by the employer. But if that is not the case, ask around to see if you can find a health insurance broker you could get advice from. I have talked to a broker twice in my life when trying to sort out health insurance options and they have never charged me anything, but they are so much more knowledgeable about the ins and outs and other programs people might be eligible for and how to find them. I found the brokers I went to by asking people at small businesses who their broker was, and they were both happy to help me out with a couple of phone conversations without charging me.

          1. MsCHX*

            And this is why I mentioned ACA. Moving to part time doesn’t necessarily mean she loses eligibility for health insurance immediately.

      2. Judy*

        When my former employer moved our location, and I chose to take the severance instead of moving, I was supposed to continue insurance coverage for 3 months after my end date, but my insurance was terminated at my end date. I had to call in and they reinstated it. (I hear this happened to more than 50% of the people who took the package.)

    7. Judy*

      She should probably verify with the company that it was on purpose. I took severance instead of relocating with a job, and part of the package was 3 months of health insurance. When I went to get my prescriptions the month after my end date, my insurance had been cancelled. I had to call in to the company and they did reinstate it for the agreed upon time. Sometimes the system is set up to do things automatically, and when things are otherwise (like FMLA time or special packages) the system doesn’t work correctly.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        Yeah, I’m wondering if someone in HR switched her status from full-time to part-time somewhere in their system and it triggered the insurance cancellation. Hopefully she’ll find out it was done in error once she calls HR and they will be able to manually reinstate it quickly.

    8. HRChick*

      Was she paying her portion?

      We’ve had that problem before where our organization was paying their part, but the employee on unpaid leave was not paying their part.

      Otherwise, yes talk to HR and talk to a lawyer if necessary.

      1. Natalie*

        They do have to notify you in writing in that case, before the coverage terminates, although if she’s not good with paperwork it’s possible they did and she lost the notice or something.

        1. HRChick*

          Yeah, we usually send several letters and place a few phone calls. So, even if this was the case, she should have been aware of it. But, if it’s an HR dept that does the bare minimum, they might not have given her much of a chance.

    9. MsMaryMary*

      If she is on FMLA, her employer should not be able to drop her from the plan unless she is not paying her portion of the premium. Even then, there is generally a 30 days grace period to bring her contribution payments up to current. I’ll post a link to a DOL FMLA page in my reply.

      If she’s currently on PTO and sick leave, it sounds to me like she is actively employed. In that case, she definitely should continue to be covered. I’d have her check her paycheck and see if there are still payroll deductions being taken from her check.

  8. Susan*

    There has been some serious bathroom drama in another department at my company, and I’ve been curious about what you all would think about it…

    This department has 55 male teapot makers and 5 female teapot makers (but it is shift work, so typically, only about 20-30% of them are working at any given time). They work mainly on the factory floor, and they have a large break room/office area that contains two single-occupancy bathrooms. The bathrooms started out as unisex, so anyone of any gender could use either bathroom, but one of the female teapot makers apparently made such a fuss about wanting a women-only bathroom that management designated a men’s room and a ladies’ room. The other four women were fine with two unisex bathrooms. There are other bathroom facilities for both genders fairly close to the teapot makers’ break room (one floor directly above, one floor directly below, and on the same floor at the opposite end of the building).

    One of the male teapot makers went to HR with a hostile work environment complaint against management for allowing the female teapot maker to “bully and intimidate” until she gets her way. Apparently, part of her argument for not sharing a bathroom with men was that men were peeing in the sink, which the male teapot makers say is a lie. I can see it both ways; on the one hand, I think it’s reasonable to prefer designated men’s and ladies’ rooms, but just based on math, it makes more sense to let the men use both bathrooms. If the female teapot maker didn’t want to use a unisex bathroom, she could have gone to one of the other nearby ladies’ rooms. If the men end up with a line because they can only use one of the bathrooms, they can go to one of the other nearby men’s rooms. I think both sides are being way too dramatic about it, though!

    1. Emi.*

      Oh boy, that does sound dramatic. Are the men having to stand in line, though? (Also, I really want to know if the men were actually peeing in the sink!)

      1. Susan*

        I’m not sure… There are normally only 12-15 teapot makers there at any given time, so as long as they don’t all go to the bathroom at the exact same time, how long of a line could there be? I have a hard time believing the sink-peeing allegations, because why would someone pee in the sink when there is a toilet a few feet away?

        1. OhNo*

          I’ve seen times when there is a line for the men’s room and guys were so unwilling to wait that they just piled in. The worst I’ve seen was when there were about ten guys waiting, so they cycled through three at a time – one in the toilet, one in the urinal, and one in the sink. It may have been faster, but it was gross.

          I felt really bad for the person working at the front desk – I told them what happened and they had to go clean the sink.

        2. Jessesgirl72*

          But they are all going to the bathroom at the same time- break time and lunch time, which in shift work, is normally not staggered in any way.

          1. Susan*

            Break times aren’t scheduled at specific times here, so people are generally free to go to the bathroom any time during the day. I’m sure the bathrooms are busier around lunch time, though.

        3. Shazbot*

          “why would someone pee in the sink when there is a toilet a few feet away?”

          Because they don’t like the fact that wimminfolks are working in “their” factory, so they’re going to pee somewhere they think will bother the wimminfolks but that the menfolks will overlook or think is funny.

          Which is pure speculation on my part, but not out of the realm of possibility.

        4. Kelly L.*

          The way a line happens in this scenario is if someone has to poop. If a man is pooping in the men’s bathroom, it might not open up again for a bit, and there’s the women’s one, sitting empty. Or vice versa.

    2. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      If they are single occupancy bathrooms, designating them by sex makes no sense and this lady sounds like an awful person to work with. I personally would not have granted the request

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        I agree. I really, really don’t understand why people aren’t comfortable sharing bathrooms with people of different genders than them. They probably do it at home. Why is it suddenly a freakout at the office?

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          (I mean single occupancy bathrooms, although I also don’t really understand why you’d care who is in the stall next to you in a bigger bathroom either.)

          1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

            Not gonna lie, when it is single occupancy, I ignore the gender specification anyway. If the “women’s” single occupancy bathroom is taken, I use the “men’s” one. I have to pee and my lady bits don’t prevent me from peeing in the toilet you arbitrarily decided was for men only. If I were a man at this company I would be doing the same thing there and using whichever one was free

            1. Viola Dace*

              Yep. I do this all the time with SOT’s. I’m not going to wait for a “lady” toilet when there is a perfectly good “man” toilet available NOW.

            2. justsomeone*

              Same here. If only one person is going to be in the room at a time, IDC who uses it ahead or behind me. As long as I’m alone when I’m going, I’m good. I have the same feeling about stalls. One of my favorite bars has single occupancy bathrooms and finally took the gender designations off of them. I was so happy.

            3. Manders*

              Yeah, I didn’t even get in trouble for going into the “wrong” single-occupancy bathroom in North Carolina. I think the bathrooms should go back to being unisex, and that they’re probably already functionally unisex whenever this particular employee isn’t around.

              1. Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys*

                Manders, as a NC resident, your comment made me giggle. Good news is we voted that governor out of office and a lot of restaurants (at least those vying for a more hipster crowd) with single-occupancy bathrooms are switching to unisex.

                Single/unisex bathrooms were also easier on moms. When my child was too old to go with me into the women’s, but still young enough for me to be concerned sending him to public restrooms alone, I did a lot of stalking outside of men’s rooms listening to make sure he was okay. I’m glad I don’t have to do that anymore.

                As for work bathrooms, as long as they are clean that is all I really care about.

                1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

                  I so wish more establishments had family bathrooms for this reason. My husband is the primary caregiver for our daughter, plus he has 3 older daughters we have split custody of. It is a pain when he can’t take them to a bathroom when we are somewhere we don’t really want them going alone.

                  Also, can we get more changing tables in men’s rooms please? Dad’s change diapers too…

            4. AnonAnalyst*

              Ha, I do this too. I actually have been in places where there is a line to use the “women’s” single occupancy bathroom, and the “men’s” bathroom is empty. Just, what? And I’ve asked the other women if they would like to go ahead of me into the “men’s” bathroom and have had no takers. Yeah, I’m not waiting for that.

              1. Dynamic Beige*

                This happened to me recently. Same “oh no, I really couldn’t” stuff. I made them go in to the men’s — it was either you go and I wait my place in line or I’m going right now. I said I would “keep watch” because did they honestly think I would let someone else go in? (Also, they lock from the inside, so that’s not really a worry) Turned out the first woman in line hadn’t turned the handle correctly on the Ladies’, there was no one in there.

              2. Kimberlee, Esq*

                TBH at bars and stuff I do this for stall bathrooms too. I’ve never run into a dude that cared if a woman came into their bathroom and jumped into a stall. But yeah, the women always seemed much more uptight about it (for reasons that make sense due to reality and social conditioning). If there’s no line for the dudes and a 3 person line for the women, I’ll usually sort of peek into the bathroom confirm there’s space, look expectedly over at the women in line, and if I get shrugs or weird looks, I just skip the line and pop over.

                Also tbh, the first time I did this I genuinely thought it was the women’s room, so having done it once by accident made it a lot easier to do forever on purpose.

        2. Emi.*

          It is weirder when it’s a public bathroom than when it’s at home, since that’s family. Like, I don’t mind washing my brothers’ underwear or them washing mine, but I’d feel weird about my male coworkers and me washing each other’s underwear (although I can’t imagine how it would come up).

          1. OhNo*

            I get the feeling-more-comfortable-with-family thing, but it’s not like you’re getting up close and personal with someone if you use the same bathroom. I just don’t get it. To me, that’s like saying you should have different kitchens for different genders or something. Why? Are they going to get their guy-germs or lady-germs all over the counters or something?

          2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            … would you be comfortable washing your female coworkers’ underwear? I sure as hell wouldn’t. But that’s about the level of familiarity and relationship with them, not their gender.

            1. Emi.*

              I wouldn’t, but I’d be less uncomfortable about it than I would be for my male coworkers. (More realistic example: I lived in a single-sex dorm in college, and I minded strange girl dorm-mates seeing things I left in the dorm laundry room way less than I would’ve if it had been a coed dorm.)

        3. Becky with the anonymous hair*

          Many women I know have been attacked in public bathrooms; I once only just got away. Therefore I prefer to know instantly that a man who is there is not supposed to be there and unisex bathrooms make me uneasy.

          1. Kelly L.*

            It’s single-occupancy, though. You open the door, you see the whole room. There isn’t anywhere for a predator to hide, and once you’re in there with the door locked, no one can get in either.

            1. Amy the Rev*

              This ^^

              Having single-occupancy (or ‘one-ers’ as my mom and I call them) be designated by gender makes zero sense.

              I’ve been in gender-neutral multiple-stall bathrooms and while it did feel a little weird at first, and while I wouldn’t be comfortable going into one at a bar or a club, for example, it wasn’t the worst. I can understand someone wanting a multi-stall bathroom to be designated as ‘only for folks who identify as women or are GNC/NB’, for safety reasons, but its redundant to do that for a one-er.

              1. Anion*

                Restrooms and other facilities aren’t separated by gender. They’re separated by sex, physical sex.

                1. Anoctopus*

                  Actually, in most cases they *are* separated by gender, in that someone whose gender isn’t the same as their physical sex is expected to use the restroom associated with their gender, not their genitalia. There are some people trying to change that, which is where all the kerfuffle about trans people and bathroom laws comes from, but it’s still the most common arrangement.

                  Which makes sense to me for the basic reason that I’m not going to see anybody’s genitalia in the ladies’ room (and a man wouldn’t see the genitalia of a trans man who had female lower anatomy in the men’s room, because he’d use a stall). I *am* going to see the rest of them, with their clothes on — at least if it’s a multi-stall location – – and I don’t really want a burly guy with a beard at the sink next to me, no matter what genitalia he might have. Both because it would feel pretty weird and because that seems, frankly, a much more plausible way for an anatomical male who was in there for nefarious purposes to cover for himself than pretending to be a trans woman would be. Wouldn’t have to attempt to present as female or anything. Just, “Oh yeah, I know I’m a big burly guy with a beard, but I still have female anatomy so I’m supposed to be in here. Really. Wanna see? Ha! Joke’s on you; I really don’t at all, but made you look!”

          2. sarah*

            But ANYONE else in the bathroom would be an alarm bell in this scenario, since it is a single use bathroom. You would also not want a lady in there watching you pee.

          3. Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys*

            I only agree with unisex when they are single occupancy. There are a few places where I might not care, but most open to the public restrooms (I’m thinking airport restrooms and any locker room) I’d vote to stay gender assigned if they allow more than one person.

            I’ve even seen unisex dressing rooms lately from my local Target to some trendier stores. I haven’t had an issue, but they still give me pause.

        4. Project Manager*

          If there are 10 men and one woman sharing a bathroom in a facility with old plumbing (meaning only tp can be flushed), the one woman may well prefer walking down two flights of stairs, across a parking lot, and to another building rather than having those men, whom she does not know or wish to know intimately, be able to track her menstrual cycle. (It also doesn’t help the woman feel secure if she is deaf and therefore very likely to not hear a knock at/footsteps approaching the bathroom door.)

          That being said, I would not have asked to change the bathrooms. I would have gone to the existing ladies’ room on the other floor. NBD compared to walking to another building, which I was and remain willing to do.

      2. paul*

        I wound up throwing a fit when the building we rent space did something similar; one was designated as a unisex bathroom, the other was designated as a women only bathroom, but they’re both single occupancy. I kicked it up the chain to my boss, who raised it with the building landlord (we rent space, we don’t own the facilities, so it wasn’t my work itself doing this). Apparently some lady at one of the other agencies in the building had complained about using a bathroom a MAN might have been in or something.

        1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

          Oh no! Man bits might have been in here touching things! That cannot be allowed! I might turn into a man if my lady bits touch something man bits touched! (That’s how it works, right? No? Sh*t.)

        2. Artemesia*

          IF guys are peeing in the sink then I totally understand the woman only bathroom. If the men are otherwise trashing the room which sometimes happens, same deal. Otherwise — I’d be ignoring the sign if I were a guy.

          I find amusing that men are so offended by waiting in line which women have been doing forever. In Nashville when the football stadium was built, it was done with ‘potty parity’ and they misjudged how many restrooms to designate for women and men in the attempt to meet that new rule. The first weekend game, there were long men’s room lines and no lines for the ladies rooms. You would have thought it was the apocalypse. This was a PROBLEM. A PROBLEM that MUST be solved NOW. It could not be allowed to go another week. Similar lines for women of course were never a problem, just the way things were what with women and their fussy make up and such. They fixed it in a week when men were involved by re-designating restrooms to men.

          1. paul*

            Except that has near-zero relevance to our building’s situations.

            Also, if you think *women* don’t trash a restroom on occasion I don’t know how much more wrong you can be. Sloppyness isn’t a gendered trait.

            1. AnonAnalyst*

              I have to agree with this. We have unisex bathrooms where I work and while I occasionally have seen things in there that I wish I hadn’t, they have never been as bad as what I have seen in some public women’s restrooms.

            2. LBK*

              My recollection is that usually on bathroom-related threads here, the consensus is that the women’s bathrooms actually tend to be dirtier than men’s bathrooms, despite what gendered expectations might make you think.

            3. Marvel*

              Mmm, as someone who’s been in both a lot (I’m transgender)… it’s much more common in men’s bathrooms. It took me a really, really long time to get used to.

          2. LBK*

            IF guys are peeing in the sink then I totally understand the woman only bathroom.

            As a man, can I get a non-sink-pee-er bathroom? Because I don’t want to stick my hands in that either.

    3. NacSacJack*

      I’m not sure employers are required to provide gender-specific bathrooms, especially if they are single occupancy. Every time I see one, I appreciate the employer/business even more.

        1. NACSACJACK*

          Sorry, I meant anytime I see a unisex bathroom (Woe to me, read, read and read again before posting) LOL!

            1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              Especially since gendered bathrooms are so common, it would be weird to be impressed with them (even if that were your preference).

      1. Stellaaaaa*

        There are regulations about needing to have a certain number of fixtures (toilets/urinals) per maximum number of employees on premises, however that might not be relevant here since it sounds like there are other bathrooms in the building. As per OSHA:

        “The employer does not have to provide separate toilet facilities for each sex when they will not be occupied by more than one employee at a time, can be locked from the inside, and contain at least one toilet.”

    4. LCL*

      Single occupancy bathrooms? The female employee is out of line. I guarantee the males are using the ‘Women’s’ bathroom if they have to. No well adjusted manager wants to monitor bathroom use.

    5. Prismatic Professional*

      Single occupancy restrooms having a specified gender is stupid. There is only one person in them at a time, so what’s the big deal? Also – how does she know the men were peeing in the sink? Why would they when there is a toilet *right there*? I think this woman is way out of line. It also particularly sucks for any non-binary/trans* people working there (and no, you/she wouldn’t necessarily know).

      1. Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys*

        I just keep thinking why would a guy pee in the sink when the physics of it are off unless said male is really, really tall. That alone would be my argument against that type of complaint.

    6. Tardis*

      This is kinda nerdy, but… this question is really similar to a grad school problem set I had when dealing with how to model queuing issues. If a disgruntled person at your office is good with Excel, you could mathematically work out what the ideal arrangement is to optimize average waits for the bathroom using a M/M/c queue formula.

    7. Rhys*

      I mean I wouldn’t be completely surprised if men were peeing in the sink because life is infinitely stranger etc etc, but maybe try having a “No peeing in the sink” sign first? Or maybe the lady is just upset with the cleanliness of the bathrooms in general, and if you have one that is only used by 5 people it’s definitely going to be cleaner than the one used by 55 people regardless of gender.

      1. Cass*

        It may be my pessimism showing, but maybe there’s a chance that could actually encourage someone to do it. (So weird, I’ve just seen people get strangely gleeful and take pictures of themselves flouting signage.)

        1. No, please*

          I did some janitorial work part time for extra money a few years back. I cleaned the same office for six months every week. They never fixed the broken urinal AND never stopped peeing in it. I stopped cleaning it!

    8. KellyK*

      We had a similar (much less dramatic!) situation, although our gender balance isn’t as lop-sided. There are about 25 people, 8 of whom are women. The two bathrooms were unisex when we moved in, and one of the women insisted on breaking them up because “men make a mess.” Having used the men’s room when the ladies’ is occupied, I haven’t seen an issue. I think that when the numbers are as skewed as they are at your workplace, unisex bathrooms make much more sense.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        Men at least put the seat up before peeing all over the place.

        I have never found a men’s room to be more disgusting than a women’s room. Women definitely make a mess!

        1. Rhys*

          Yeah, if I had a nickel for every time there was a pube on the toilet seat in the ladies’ room in my office…

          1. The Strand*

            I think the “lady” or “ladies” who pooped on the seat, on at least three occasions in my building, still win the gross-out contest.

        2. Shazbot*

          Yep, for every puddle on the men’s room floor there is a seat covered with hoverpiss in the women’s room.

        3. bunniferous*

          You obviously have never cleaned the Waffle House restrooms on third shift. Decades ago when I did I threw bleach all over the mens room floor before doing anything else. Oh how it bubbled up……

          1. Artemesia*

            This. It may not be men peeing in the sink, but rather peeing all over the floor. Wading in piss or having your pants get soaked at the hem when you lower them to sit on the toilet is pretty gross. If the men’s room is hazardous in this way — peeing all over the floor, peeing in the sink, whatever then the reasoning for separating them is stronger.

            1. sarah*

              But wait, why should the men at this company have to deal with a piss-covered bathroom either? I don’t get how it is possible for a restroom to be gross enough that we can’t have women using it, but somehow totally fine for all the men to use it. If the bathroom is that gross, then the cleaning schedule needs to be adjusted so it is cleaned more frequently.

          2. paul*

            McDonald’s, in college, in a college town.

            Frankly, I was tempted to just nuke both bathrooms at the end of every shift. Throw in some naplam, let *that* clean them out. Shudderworthy. Particularly after football games.

      2. Gene*

        In a former job, I was the night dispatcher/janitor at an air ambulance service/FBO. The women’s room was usually much messier than the men’s. And the male/female ration was about 60/40, accounting for employees and customers. Anyone who thinks only men pee on the seat has never been in a public bathroom.

        As an aside, I really miss working graveyard shift.

    9. Jessesgirl72*

      I think Management gave in to the wave maker, despite how incredibly unreasonable (and lying) she is, which inconveniences a lot of people, and the only way to get them to turn it around is to make even more waves- this time legal ones. The overkill is only in response to the bad management decision, and is probably warranted. If nothing else, to stop them from giving in to her next ridiculous demand.

    10. The Bread burglar*

      While I don’t normally care who is in the stall next to me. I can sort of understand where she may be coming from.

      Just because I once worked on a construction site with unisex toilets and had issues where the men were caught peeing in the sink. They also had a horrible habit of not locking the door. And I have no desire to see my colleagues (of any gender identity) bits. Don’t care what bits ya got I don’t want to see them.

    11. James*

      Yeah, that’s not a good situation. Especially if the woman lied about something like this. I mean, there’s simply no reason, as a man, to pee in a sink. I have never been that drunk!

      The woman raising a fuss about this is being unreasonable. If the ratio is 12:1 male to female, and the total numbers are that low, having unisex bathrooms makes the most sense. Frankly, directives otherwise will be ignored. If there is an issue with cleanliness it’s an issue that should be taken up with the staff (“You are adults, act like it”) or maintenance (“What can we do to help ensure the bathrooms are sanitary?”).

      I have to wonder if there’s something else going on. Does she feel that her privacy is at risk? Woman have different sanitary needs then men (tampons and the like, for example); are those being adequately addressed? Are the women being harassed or rushed in some way? It’s worth at least checking into.

      I’m not sure that this constitutes a hostile work environment, but I can understand where the men are coming from. They have been severely inconvenienced due to one person–and if she lied, it’s even worse! Management has created a situation where the staff believes that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and are applying that principle. The men are probably being too dramatic, and the woman almost certainly is (with the caveat that any of the issues I raised in the previous paragraph, or similar issues, would negate that); however, once the woman got her way, the men would reasonably conclude that they had no other choice.

      1. paul*

        Not to mention, most sinks are pretty high up, unless you’re like 7′ tall! Seems like it’d be a challenge

    12. sarah*

      This does sound like a lot of drama! But regardless, I can see no reason why someone can’t use a gender neutral bathroom, especially when it is SINGLE STALL. If it is true that 59 people want the bathrooms to be gender neutral, and 1 person does not, it seems like the 59 people should win, regardless of other available options. It’s not like there is a privacy issue given that only one person should be in there at a given time. And surely this person has shared single use bathrooms with men at some point in their life (i.e. every single home where there is at least one male living there).

      If indeed someone is peeing in the sink, that should be investigated regardless of whether it’s a gender neutral bathroom or not — why should men have to put up with a pee-filled sink just because it’s another dude doing it?

    13. The Rat-Catcher*

      I’m with you. If there is a women’s-only restroom nearby, then what exactly was the purpose of the complaint? She doesn’t want to walk to that one?

      But the man who went to HR is also WAY overreaching by classifying this as “hostile workplace environment.” I’d bet he heard somewhere that those were buzzwords to use to get HR to listen to you.

      1. LBK*

        Yeah, I’m not really sure how this qualifies as a hostile work environment. The way the guy’s complaint is phrased has zero interaction with the legal definition of a HWE.

    14. One Handed Typist*

      This amazes me, especially considering my university is constructing multi-stall unisex bathrooms! Yes, gender specific restrooms are available in the building, but most new restrooms added or remodeled are converted to all gender restrooms.

  9. RKB*

    We did a semester end peer review, and one of the anonymous sheets I got back said (seriously):

    I appreciate the content you contribute to discussions and your presentations have excellent delivery and thoughtfulness. Unfortunately I do believe that our classmates and professors are more prone to enjoying your presence due to your looks. You are very pretty but that gets you only so far in the real world.

    I still don’t know whether to be amused or upset. Currently I’m a mixture of both.

    1. Dawn*

      Uhhhh yeah that’s way more of a projection on the part of the feedback writer than on you. Definitely OK to feel pissed about it, because wow that is inappropriate! However, realize that “in the real world” (aka not the bubble of college) for the most part it doesn’t matter what you look like as long as you do good work and are professional- so this feedback is doubly stupid!

      1. Liane*

        And in the non-school World of Work, you will NOT endear yourself to your colleagues for being an ass–and if you are a stupid enough ass to put prejudiced brayings in writing, you risk getting in trouble. As AAM posts & comments frequently demonstrate.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      Ugh, that is so gross. I’m sorry! If that’s the only comment like that that you received, consider it an outlier, write off the person who wrote it as unpleasant toad, and move forward.

    3. Weekday Warrior*

      Well that peer is going to be sad when they find out that being pretty -or tall – also help in the “real world”. Especially coupled with excellent discussion contributions and presentations. Go you! :)

      1. Red Reader*

        I scrolled really fast from the above thread about restrooms to this comment and read “pee-er” rather than “peer”.


      2. RKB*

        The funny thing is I’m 5’3″. I’m also not considered part of the sociocultural standard of beauty. I just like makeup.

        Not to mention we’re in training to become speech therapists and kids don’t really care about what I look like, anyway!

        1. twig*

          My speech therapist wore these awesome bulky earrings! I was 6-7 at the time and I thought it was neato — but I cared more about the stickers she gave me when I did a good job learning how to pronounce me R’s.

        2. Tau*

          Some adults go to speech therapists, although I guess not as many and you may be going in a kid direction anyway! And I’d argue that even as a grown-up, if you’re focusing on the appearance of the therapist you’re probably not getting the most you can out of therapy…

          1. RKB*

            Oh, I know! I’m just going the peds route. I actually even have a job offer waiting for me pending completion of my practicum.

      3. Marisol*

        Yeah I was going to say exactly that. Unfair though it may be, being pretty can get you extremely far in this world. It’s just an asinine comment.

    4. Pearl*

      What the actual. “Your content is good, but I think ‘other people’ are shallow. By other people, I definitely do not mean me, even though I’m the one writing this comment.” Are you supposed to walk around in a partial mask, Batman-style?

      1. Hermione*

        But then what if they have a obscenely attractive lower jaw? Best go full clown mask for optimal feature distortion.

    5. J*

      Really? Anonymous negging? “I appreciate your mind, but I think everyone else just thinks you’re hot.”


    6. CM*

      I guess being amused would be the emotionally healthiest way to react, but I’m angry on your behalf! WTF. At least they started out by acknowledging your actual work. I don’t really know what they are trying to say here, in fact — the first and last sentence seem to contradict each other.

    7. NW Mossy*

      And their suggestion is what, exactly? Channel “She’s All That” in reverse and start wearing dowdy clothes and glasses, Hollywood-style?

      I think some people forget that the purpose of feedback is to influence future behavior….

    8. Phoebe*

      I’d do my best to let it go. The author should have quit after the first sentence. The rest of the comment is not only inappropriate, but has nothing to do with your performance. Sounds like sour grapes to me. Definitely their issue, not yours.

    9. vanBOOM*

      Wow, fuck that person! You can be both good at what you do *and* be attractive.

      I agree with others here: the first part of the comments is about you (content, delivery, thoughtfulness), and the second part of the comments that make reference to your looks is about them.

    10. Artemesia*

      There is all sorts of research that shows that female academics are judged entirely differently than male academics and tend to get lower scores when they fail to be appropriately feminine and if they are perceived as feminine i.e. catch 22.

    11. sarah*

      Assuming you are a student in this scenario, I would let your professor know about this. I am a professor and I never do anonymous stuff for just this reason (people can get super shitty when things are anonymous). I would want to know if students in my class were using my class and my assignments to harass other students, and I would probably change the assignment for the next semester to make sure it didn’t happen again. (It may even be possible that the prof has a way to trace this unprofessional and unacceptable comment back to the person who wrote it.)

      1. RKB*

        Well, we receive the feedback papers first (in our mailboxes) and then turn them into our respective advisors. I dropped mine off with a sticky note on that particular review, but I was so flabbergasted I just put a “?”

        I haven’t heard back from her yet but I’m sure they won’t just brush it off. My program is very small, less than 40 of us, so it’s not like it’s an anonymous drop in a sea of hundreds.

    12. The Rat-Catcher*

      They can’t even come up with an actual criticism of you. I’d take that as a victory and move on, with the understanding that Commenter is just awful.

    13. Rosamond*

      I’d ignore the feedback but consider saying something to the course instructor about receiving inappropriate feedback about your personal appearance. Not to try to get this person in trouble, but to alert the instructor they might need to provide more guidance about what kind of feedback is appropriate in peer reviews.

      1. RKB*

        I have tiny, tiny wrists. Are those sensual? When I gesture during presentations do I capture the eye of any willing suitor with my wrists? I must know now.

    14. General Ginger*

      So, in essence, “it’s nice you’re smart, it’s a shame other people, definitely not me, but totally other people, just don’t appreciate how smart you are”? What the hell?

    15. Panda Bandit*

      It reads like a middle schooler’s tantrum. You’re smart and pretty and everyone likes you better than me so I must flail around and try to take you down a peg.

    1. Jessi*

      I’m from NZ! What would you like to know? July is in the middle of the winter so make sure you pack warm layers too.

      1. TL -*

        Everything! How do I know if it’s a one bedroom apartment or 1 bedroom in a shared apartment? (This is so confusing to me!) What are good places to look for housing online? What should I bring? What should I leave?

        What’s the book scene like? What’s the internet situation (I hear conflicting stories)?!) What does a NZ cell phone plan look like/cost?

        I’m moving from Boston so I feel I’ve got this winter thing down; not super worried about that.

        1. Jessi*

          It won’t be Boston winter cold! Ever…… If you are moving to Wellington your best bet is a good raincoat

          Trademe (dot co dot nz) is an excellent place to look for accommodation. You have two options: ‘flatmates’ those looking to fill a room in their house, or ‘rentals’ for the whole flat (and you can specify just one room). If they use the word ‘flatmates’ there are other people living in the house.

          To bring – This year I’ve moved across the world twice. If you haven’t used it in 6 months don’t bring it.
          Cell phone plans – all of the companies are pretty similar: 2 degrees, spark and vodaphone are the big ones. You can go contract but they all have fine pay as you go deals too (ie Spark has $39 for 1G data 300 talk minutes and unlimited texts).

          Like textbooks? or reading novels?

          Internet situation – slow and way expensive by the rest of the worlds standards but unless you live in a tiny town (guessing not since you are a uni) it will function fine, slower than you are used to for streaming films though.

          Lemme know if you have more questions!

    2. LouG*

      I’m from the US and got my masters in New Zealand! It was amazing and I would go back in a heart beat. Would be happy to talk if you have any specific questions :)

      1. TL -*

        What did you bring that you found incredibly useful and what did you bring that you didn’t need at all? how much stuff did you take?

        How much time did it take you to set up the logistics of life once you’d moved there? Did you work – what was finding a job like? What was the university schedule like?

        (I’m a dangerous person to ask if they have any questions, clearly!)

        1. LouG*

          I got a job at the university where I was studying. I studied abroad in NZ as an undergrad so I had spent about 6 months in the country before and still had friends there which made it much easier to get started. The hardest part was finding an apartment, surprisingly expensive and took some time. I Most NZ homes are very drafty and not well insulated, so bring lots of warm clothes. My hot water bottle saved me on more than one occasion. I packed two big suit cases and a hiking backpack. Anything you would need for the home you can buy there cheap. University schedmany ule was fine, everyone in general is way more laid back (“no worries”) so I had to make myself treat it like a job, 9-5 most days with research, otherwise it would be very easy to have a masters that would last for many years! I’m so jealous! Even with alllll of the earthquakes (I was at UC) it was one of the best times of my life!

    3. acmx*


      No advice but I read a blog about an American woman doing her PhD in NZ (not sure what part). It’s a PF blog though. sensetodollars dot blogspot.

      1. TL -*

        ooh, that’s actually super helpful! I’m still working on figuring out the finance thing so that’s very nice to get a sense of what I’d need.

    4. TL -*

      Also if anyone here works in a biology lab (molecular in particular), in NZ, I’d have a few questions if you’re willing!

    5. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      Whereabouts in New Zealand? Advice will be VERY different depending on where you’re headed :)

      My email address is on the main page of my website, feel free to hit me up, between my husband and I we’ve lived all over the country so I’m sure we’ll be able to give you a few tips :)

  10. Sigrid*

    Tips for not crying when receiving feedback? It’s a purely physiological reaction; I otherwise remain calm. I’m talking about tears welling up, not sobbing or anything like that. It’s extremely frustrating and the exact opposite of how I want to appear when I get feedback but I can’t seem to stop it. I know this has been been discussed here before, but I’m not finding the relevant AAM posts.

    1. Orca*

      I have no advice, just commiseration. I’m the same way, I will never understand what logic my body uses for deciding when I need to cry.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        I had my exit interview at work this morning. I’m happy to be going to my new job, but I did tear up a little. (Even though I’ve been really unhappy there the past few years, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t have some good times the years before. Or that I won’t miss some great people. Many of whom I wish could also escape.)

        So, no suggestions. Just commiseration.

    2. Lee*

      I have this issue too. I’ve found that taking small sips of water can help a bit to alleviate the physical reaction. If it doesn’t work, I tend to say something “I’m not upset, just a weird physical reaction,” which can help. It’s definitely frustrating!

      1. AndersonDarling*

        And if you try to look up with your eyes (not your head), tears will drain into your sinuses instead of falling out your eyes. It helps with little well-ups, but not when its a full on cry.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      It took me a while to separate my work from, well, from “me.” I used to take everything personally and I’d get upset and well up. But I began to realize that the work I do isn’t the same as who I am. Because I messed up a report doesn’t mean I’m a bad person.
      And everyone has to get tough feedback to learn. It’s a natural part of work.

    4. JBPL*

      A former boss once told me that if you take small sips of water you won’t be able to cry (or, rather, he said it in the context of giving feedback to someone prone to tears– get them a glass of water first, not kleenex) and I’ve used that advice myself. I wouldn’t say it’s 100% foolproof but it does definitely help.

    5. 2 Cents*

      Just sat through a meeting where I felt like crying the whole time but couldn’t (for many reasons). I’d have a tissue on hand just in case, but I found biting the insides of my mouth, biting my tongue, pushing my tongue either at the top of my mouth or on the bottom all distracted me enough to keep me from the tears spilling over.

    6. Jubilance*

      Oh man, I’ve had the same problem almost all my life, though I’ve gotten better.

      My strategy is to distract myself in some way – snap a hair tie on my wrist, small doodles in my notebook, pinching my thigh, sipping from my water bottle, etc. I’ve also try to do a little meditation/pep talk beforehand, reminding myself that I’m not perfect and I don’t need to be, feedback isn’t personal, etc.

    7. MC*

      I don’t have this issue, but I have teared through a meeting when I put some capsacin ointment on my shoulders, touched my shoulders then touched my eye. You could always use that excuse.

    8. Annie Moose*

      I am soooo sorry. I do the exact same thing, if I am in a stressful situation at all, my body is like “CLEARLY IT IS TIME TO WEEP UNCONTROLLABLY”.

      If you figure out something that works for you, let me know!! I am probably going to try some of the techniques people have mentioned, the drinking water one in particular. Maybe just having something else to do (physically) will help!

    9. Anonymous Educator*

      I think how you approach this depends on whether you’re crying because the feedback is particularly harsh or you’re just crying with any feedback.

      If you cry at any feedback, just preemptively offer “I know this is silly, but I just have this physiological response of crying. I’m not being defensive or not processing the feedback. Just wanted to let you know, so you don’t think it’s weird.” And then just cry.

      If you cry at harsh feedback, well, it’s harsh, and that’s just a natural human response. Bring some tissue and wipe up the tears and then take notes or do something else to indicate that you are receptive to the feedback, even though you’re responding to it emotionally.

    10. Manders*

      Bring a notebook with you and write in it! It makes you look attentive AND distracts you just enough to keep the tears from flowing. And then you’ll have a written list of actionable things that you can look over later in private when you’re feeling calmer.

      Also, no one has to see what you’re writing down–once, during a really bad meeting at a toxic job, I wrote a list of things I needed to get done for job hunting. It kept me looking calm and attentive when I was actually pissed off and ready to be out of there for good.

    11. Marisol*

      google EFT tapping. you tap on acupressure points while describing your problem. it’s a little woo-woo, which some people object to, but I have found it to be effective with all kinds of personal issues, in particular things I’m insecure about, and there’s no harm in giving it a try.

    12. BestInShow*

      Clench your butt cheeks
      It really really works!

      I got over an hour and a half of negative feedback on my last review and did not shed a tear.

    13. Wannabe Claire*

      I’ve read about other people doing this, and it has worked pretty well for me: pretend you’re a tough fictional character. So whenever I have a conversation that might make normal-me teary, I imagine that I’m really Claire Underwood (or Professor McGonagall). It does feel a little silly when I’m doing it, but it works and the pretending hasn’t interfered with getting my points across; it only prevents the tears.

      1. Blue Swan*

        As someone who has cried quite a few times receiving both positive and negative feedback, I am totally going to channel a powerful fictional character next time I feel myself welling up. This sounds like a fabulous idea.

    14. AnonAcademic*

      For me very controlled breathing helps. When I feel tears well up I take a deep breath and redirect my thoughts for a few seconds. It allows the tears to drain into the sinuses and not continue producing. It also works for when a sappy commercial or movie scene gets me in the feels but I’d be embarrassed to cry in front of others :).

    15. Epsilon Delta*

      These are some great tips. I also have this problem, although as I’ve gotten older it happens less and less. I think what is happening in my case, is that I hear something negative and my initial reaction is to take it personally (“your work is not good” == “you suck”), so that triggers a little teary-ness. Then I am appalled/embarrassed/frustrated that I’m about to cry (“omg who cries over that?”), and it spirals (“omg I’m so embarrassed that I’m STILL about to cry”) until it pushes it over the edge to actual crying. When I figured that out, I was able to cut it out at the getting teary stage by noticing it and allowing myself to move on instead of focusing on the embarrassment. It works most of the time, but if I get caught off-guard it sometimes fails.

      Also, fun fact I learned on the radio recently – women have smaller tear ducts than men, which is part of the reason that women cry more easily than men.

    16. EmmaLou*

      I cry at beautiful things, amazing things, feats of engineering, criticism, compliments, weddings, new babies, graduations (although that may just be the speeches that never end), awesome things, surprising things. In an art museum, I’m a mess. Not sobs, just tears. I read an article for we weepers of much weepage, that it is our bodies way of balancing our strong feelings, of relieving all of the pressure of whatever we are feeling. When receiving criticism, I’ve had to say, as matter of factly as possible, “Please ignore the tears, I am listening.” (I also find y0ga breathing can help some.)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Dragging things out in the open such as “please ignore the tears….” can start to wear down the intensity of the tears. You may have to do it a few times before you start to see changes in you. OP, you might find this helpful, especially if you have no other way to cover the watery eyes, because there is too much water.

        When I am tired I stutter or look for words. Toastmaster would throw shoes at me, but I found that if I simply say, “excuse me, let me try that again”, I can remain on track so much better. Dragging things out into the open can be a powerful release.

        When I first started working I teared easily. I tried to analyze reasons for that and I found there were several. This is often the case, if the tears are flowing more than one thing is triggering the tears. Watch your self-talk. Don’t use your own thoughts to get yourself even more stressed. Tell yourself reassuring things such as:

        I will be okay here.
        I am safe here.
        The boss is trying to help me.
        I can do this.

        Don’t tell yourself things like this:

        OH crap. I feel the tears AGAIN.
        Here we go, how will I hide the tears THIS time.
        It’s the tears again. Will I ever grow up?

        This latter group will not console you; it will not strengthen you. A good rule of thumb is if you can’t say it to a friend, then you should not tell yourself that either.

  11. leftout*

    Question for everyone:

    So my company travels on occasion for trade shows. For most recent show, our team (of 6) rented a big house through Airbnb to stay in. I, the only woman on the team, was originally involved in the planning process, and even helped find houses to try.

    After weeks of looking into it, planning seemed to sizzle — or so I thought. Turns out, all the rest of the team got a house and didn’t tell me. I only found out when I asked the others where they booked their hotel. “Oh, we got an Airbnb.” By this point, many of the hotels close to the show were booked, so I scrambled to find an off-site hotel.

    Fast forward to now. We’ve got another show coming up, and they’re doing an Airbnb again. This time, I was told I’m expressly not invited.

    Here’s what sucks, though — one of the younger guys keeps talking to the others about it, like “hell yeah, looking forward to the house! Gonna have SO much fun!”

    So I feel left out here. I know at the last show, they had a lot of great bonding experiences, from late night talks to chats over breakfast. Meanwhile, I’m left to fend for myself.

    Am I wrong to feel so left out? Would it be strange to tell my boss that these comments sting?

    1. ThatGirl*

      That’s so weird. It sounds like the guys want to have “bro time” and yeah, I’d be hurt and offended too. Definitely talk to your boss.

      1. leftout*

        Little more background here: At the last show, I visited the house. BigBoss, after a few drinks, asked me if I felt left out. I lightheartedly said “yeah, a little,” and changed the subject. He proceeded to bring it up the rest of the night. For example, an off-color joke that I lightheartedly groaned at = “See, this is why we can’t have you here.” It was awkward.

        My supervisor asked me last week if I’d “be okay” with them doing the house thing again. So I’m put in a position of being honest — “It’s a big bummer that I’m not involved” — and prevent them from doing it again, or saying “I’d like to feel like part of the team here, but I don’t want to stop you — you can tell BigBoss that I’m fine with it.” I went with the latter.

        I was feeling good about it, too, until I hear the guys of the office talking about how epic this house thing is going to be. They have a nickname for it and everything.

        1. ThatGirl*

          It sucks that your boss is part of it. I’m honestly not sure what I’d do in this situation, but it does seem very much like sex-based discrimination.

        2. Anon This Time*

          I may be cynical, but I’ve been on trips like this and stayed in similar arrangements. I’d wager that some of the guys are planning on cheating on their SOs.

          That kind of arrangement was fun when I was in my 20s. Now that I’m older, I would prefer the single hotel room. I know it sucks to be left out, but nothing good is going to come out of that housing arrangement.

          1. sitting with sad salad*

            Agreed with this idea that some of the guys may be planning to cheat, and it sound like something nothing good will come out of. I would avoid it.

    2. Dawn*

      Uh, yeah that’s really not OK. That’s explicitly excluding you from something work-related because of your gender. Definitely talk to your boss and maybe even go to HR over it.

      1. leftout*

        Unfortunately, we don’t have in-house HR. We have an outside firm take care of our onboarding and such. No one, as far as I know, have called them in to help with conflicts — so my doing so would be seen as me taking it way too far.

        1. Temperance*

          You doing anything to assert yourself will be seen as taking it too far. They’re excluding you because you’re a woman, full stop, and keeping you from opportunities to develop and strengthen relationships that are going to help your career. This is the OBC in action, and I fucking hate your boss for going along with it.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Amen. I went through this in high school, so I relate. The two of us girls had to miss class every Friday because the guys wanted a rap session. They were saying things that they should not have been saying in a PUBLIC SCHOOL classroom, that was what was actually wrong here. It was not a mistake I made by being born female.

    3. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      It seems they are leaving you out specifically because of your sex, and that borders on illegal doesn’t it? Is your boss one of the ones leaving you out?

      1. leftout*

        My boss IS one of the people leaving me out. He’s tried to get an Airbnb going for years, so he’s been really invested in this whole process.

    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Um, yes. They absolutely shouldn’t be doing this. It’s not about feeling left out or the comments “stinging” — it’s about being explicitly denied meaningful professional experiences, because of your gender. That’s not allowed, and they need to stop immediately.

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      Yeah, I’d feel weird about that too. It’s oddly passive-aggressive on the part of the guys. Like ThatGirl said, they probably want dude time and think having a woman there would cramp their style. I’d mention it to my boss too — unless your boss is also a member of the douche-patrol that you apparently work with.

      Try to look on the bright side though. You get your own hotel room, your own bathroom that you don’t have to share with a bunch of guys, you can watch whatever you want on TV, and you’ll have plenty of alone time, if that kind of thing is important to you.

      Also, take it as an opportunity to network and make contacts in your field. You might meet some really nice people and make some new friends.

      1. leftout*

        My boss IS one of the people involved, unfortunately. He was the biggest proponent of doing the house thing. I know he personally wouldn’t have a problem with me being in the house, but BigBoss isn’t comfortable with it.

        1. Jules the First*

          So uh, if your boss is a proponent of the house thing and BigBoss is the one with a problem with you being there, and you have no HR, then it’s on your boss to explain to BigBoss why doing it and leaving you out of it is a problem. It is your boss’s job to advocate for the members of his team!

        2. Zahra*

          Well then, the solution is to not do the AirBnB thing. Everyone in the hotel, because, obviously, you can’t discriminate on a gender basis. By the way, is the organization big enough to be covered by anti-discrimination laws? Check federal and state regulations.

        3. Ask a Manager* Post author

          You need to speak up. Since there’s no HR, you need to say this to your boss: “You know that we can’t do this kind of thing based on gender, right? It’s illegal. So given that, how should we proceed?”

          Are you comfortable saying that?

          1. leftout*

            My concern with doing this: My supervisor had a chat with me about this last week and asked me if I’d be okay with it. I said yes, because:
            -I know the company is saving a lot of money doing this, which they’re proud of
            -They plan to use the house for events during the show
            -If I said I wasn’t ok with it, it’d ruin the above 2 points and force everyone to stay in a hotel.

            So it kind of felt like I had to agree. If I go to him now and express concern with the gender implications of this situation, they’d see this as coming out of nowhere and it’d tank my reputation here. So I’m in a really tough position.

            (I only say that for more background; I’m a longtime reader and really thankful you chimed in.)

            1. Mustache Cat*

              But you don’t want to force everyone in the hotel, you just want to be in the house, right?

            2. Temperance*

              So not only are they excluding you from bonding that will help further your career, they’re excluding you from events as well? This is bullshit.

              It would not be *you* ruining things, it’s their bad planning and sexism to even bring it up in the first place.

            3. One Handed Typist*

              So you are fearful of retaliation or a hostile workplace because you don’t go along with their gender discrimination? It’s such a hard situation.

              What if you wait until after this particular trade show, then bring it up to the Boss and BigBoss? It would prevent this from happening in the future but allow you the escape of this situation now.

            4. Undine*

              Well, could you say something like this: you researched this, or talked to a friend who is a lawyer (surely someone on here is a lawyer), and you hadn’t though of this before, but although you are personally fine staying in a hotel, you now realize it’s illegal. And what are we going to do about that? Because you didn’t know at the time you were asked. And it is important that it is illegal, not because you would complain, but because it is illegal.

            5. Not So NewReader*

              “-If I said I wasn’t ok with it, it’d ruin the above 2 points and force everyone to stay in a hotel.”

              1)If money is such an issue then they can send less people, maybe one or two people instead of everyone. The one or two people can stay in a hotel.
              2)What is their plan for when they have more female employees?
              3) They can probably find a place with a conference room to set up their event.

              You were supposed to feel like you had to agree. But it’s not up to you to solve their budget problems. It’s up to management to build a plan that is financially doable.

        4. Lissa*

          The BigBoss isn’t “comfortable” with it? What’s his reasoning for that? this seems super wrong on every level to be honest…yeah, please do speak up!

      2. leftout*

        And yes, I realize that for many, the thought of saying in an Airbnb with coworkers is a nightmare scenario, and I do plan to try and enjoy my space. It just sucks because we’re a closeknit team, and before now, gender was never even a factor. Now it’s there and at the forefront.

        1. The Rat-Catcher*

          Aside from the gender discrimination issues (which are rampant), this also sounds like a case of your boss getting too buddy-buddy with your coworkers. When it comes time to assign a big project, or for raises, is he going to let those personal connections be a factor?

          1. OhBehave*

            I think that’s where the concern stems from; boss being chummy with OP’s coworkers. Based on the comments/jokes made when you were in the house, you’re not missing much. However, I do know that in many of these cases, serious work discussions can take place mainly because of the chill atmosphere.

            If this was an event that took place every month or so I would be more concerned. If it’s just a few times a year, I don’t see where any closeness is lost. Outside of the inside jokes that you wouldn’t get that is. It all just takes me back to school and not being invited to THE party. That same party everyone talked about on Monday.

            However, it is absolutely discrimination based on your gender. The best solution is for everyone to move back to a hotel. The boss can have a large suite where entertaining clients/peers would still happen.

    6. Important Moi*

      Do you want everyone to stay at a hotel in individual rooms? Since your co-workers appear to have bonded on the last trip are you now willing to stay at a Airbnb with them? How we they able to not include you for this trip? What is your company policy?

        1. leftout*

          Yup! I was fine with staying with them both times. I was left out of plans the first time and expressly not invited the second time.

      1. leftout*

        BigBoss isn’t comfortable having a woman there. I think they’re afraid of “something happening.”

        1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

          I think you need to talk to HR. They are leaving you out because of your sex and that is against the law

        2. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

          And what does Big Boss think is going to happen? Two consenting adults might have S-E-X? Or that sharing a house with a woman will lead to those scary genetics that prevent men from controlling themselves that I keep hearing about?

        3. Pebbles*

          Oh FFS. I presume all of you are adults, sounds to me like BigBoss takes this situation as license to not act like one.

          (Sorry, I’m a female engineer in a male-dominated workplace and thankfully I work with adults, so hearing about this sort of thing happening really grinds my gears.)

        4. Alex*

          ” I think they’re afraid of “something happening.”” I can’t stand this type of mentality. So it appears that they want to something objectively concrete by excluding you on the basis of your gender due to this vague notion of “something happening” .

          I’ve encountered this before. I would ask them what they meant by “something happening” and watch them squirm for a bit before they come up with answers. If they mention anything about sexual assault, I would counter with “I didn’t know we were in the business of employing people who sexually assault their coworkers, shouldn’t we screen people like that out?” or if they take it in the direction of inappropriate fraternizing I would ask to explain to me why we are entrusted with the work that we do yet not entrusted with maintaining basic professional boundaries. At the end they would usually shut down the conversation and label me a troublemaker. I didn’t care at the time. To me, it is worth it to make people squirm when they inflict their vague generalities on to people in a way that is objectively sexist.

          ~I’m sorry you are going through this. I have been excluded from work things on the basis of my gender and I know a lot of other people that have been too. It’s not cool.

        5. Jessesgirl72*

          That is illegal. Full stop.

          It’s not taking things too far to go to HR about things that are expressly illegal. Having a culture that makes you think it’s overreacting is how they get away with doing unethical and illegal things.

          But I also think you should have been honest with your boss when asked about it.

        6. sarah*

          If that comment was really said “I’m not comfortable having a woman there”, then don’t call HR – call the EEOC!

        7. Temperance*

          Well BigBoss needs to get bent. I’m so sorry that this is happening to you, but there is nothing that I hate more than sexism at play. These are professionals who should know better, but they’d rather hang with their bros than act like adults. What the f.

        8. Not So NewReader*

          I wonder if the boss understands that he is basically saying he thinks his male employees are rapists.
          I wonder if the male employees are okay with being categorized as rapists.

      2. anonderella*

        woops, took too long. This is NOT ok. They can have bro-time off the clock – at work, they need to act like civil people who want to support their team. This is incredibly selfish of them, I am so sorry you have to feel this way. It’s one thing to want to have a particular culture at a workplace, but that absolutely canNOT come at the expense of diversity. They’re not even being sneaky about this.

        That said, it sounds like you DO have a choice to go – you’ll just make people less comfortable than they would have been. But I’d err on the side of making awful people who I don’t care about feel less bro-tastic, doing a damn good job at the trade show, and continuing on with the knowledge that you work with little boys – and look for a new job.
        If you boss/big boss knew that you would leave (not that you actually are planning/wanting that) over this, would he change?

        1. leftout*

          When my supervisor and I had a discussion about this last week, it was him telling me “this is the plan, and you’re staying elsewhere.” My choice was to say it’s okay and let them do it, or, I think, force their hand and make everyone stay at hotels. It was like, “Can you be cool with this, or are you going to be uncool?”

          Within this group, I’m really valued — told I’m excellent at my job, I learned the ropes really quickly and excelled. Not that I’m irreplaceable, but it would take a heavy search and a lot of time to find someone who could perform at my level. I’ve been lightly thinking about leaving — no raises here, not even cost of living, among other problems — but it’d be hard to find a job in my field. I’d likely have to try a new, related line of work.

          1. Natalie*

            “Within this group, I’m really valued”

            Not that valued, apparently.

            This is sex discrimination, pure and simple. Aside from the Airbnb part, it’s rather the old fashioned kind, too – people used to have business meetings & dinners in men-only clubs. If you feel comfortable pushing it, you will probably need to be more direct and get comfortable with letting it be awkward.

            But, it’s 100% okay to decide that you’re not going to fight this battle, for whatever reason. If it were me, I’d look for another job. Your boss sounds like an asshole and without raises, you are actually making less money every year.

              1. Gaara*

                Yeah. And they’re expressly excluding you from this kind of team-building activity that you want to participate in because of your gender — because it makes them uncomfortable. And if you get upset, they make you the bad guy who can’t just be cool.

                This isn’t just illegal, and it’s not just bullshit — it’s also likely to be career-limiting. You *are* missing out, and even if they think highly of you now, the more you miss out on this stuff, the harder it is to maintain that position when others are getting these opportunities to connect that you’re not.

                I would definitely be looking for a new job.

                1. OhBehave*

                  She stated that it would be difficult to find a job in her field. Even if she did, how could she know that the same thing wouldn’t happen at the new job?

            1. AnonAnalyst*

              Yeah, I would probably look for another job, too. My concern would be: even if you win this battle and force the boss’ hand, are you actually getting a fair shot a this company compared to your male coworkers? Or are you going to be continually passed over for opportunities so he can give them to his “bros”? Especially in a small (mostly male) company with no formal HR… there might not be many controls or oversight here.

              I honestly would probably still fight the battle because I’m not usually able to walk away from righteous indignation like that (just, are you kidding? REALLY?). But I wouldn’t be able to work there long term because I would always be wondering if my work actually mattered or if I would constantly be spinning my wheels in that company with no chance of advancing.

          2. Temperance*

            I’m trying to be gentle, because you don’t deserve this, but I don’t think that they’re valuing you. They’re discriminating against you solely because you are a woman.

            This isn’t just about a cool party house that they aren’t inviting you to. This is about critical, career-advancing opportunities that you’re being denied. This is about sexism, which is unfortunately rampant.

          3. NACSACJACK*

            I’m glad I read through the comments before responding with my suggestion. What you describe here gives me pause to put forth my suggestion which I will do, but here are my concerns:

            1) The person objecting isnt your boss, its the big boss, the boss that can make or break your career.
            2) It’s a bunch of guys getting together in a house, sounds like they have a “good” or “rowdy” time and dont want a female around (ummm, employment is not just for men anymore people)

            My suggestion with a pound of salt is this: Can you get a nearby AirBnB and participate in the evenings but have your own retreat?

            And frankly the idea of doing an AirBnB on the company dime just frightens me. With hotels, you have an expected standard. With AirBnB or Homeaway, no govt oversight, personal property, you could walk into a nightmare or be left with nothing if someone decides to scam.

            1. Gadfly*

              You hear about the big Oakland fire? I nearly rented there from AirBnB for a week when I was relocating and looking for an apartment in February…

        2. GigglyPuff*

          After seeing that you don’t really have an HR, I second anonderella.

          I wasn’t quite sure from what you wrote if you could push back or not. But I would probably go with the approach of when it comes up, start making comments that make it obvious you’ll be staying with them….but actually no, that probably wouldn’t work since your boss has already asked. Not sure how to push back, but I think you should.

    7. Alex*

      I have read a few posts here where the woman is having the opposite problem. The posts would basically go like~ my male coworkers are planning to stay overnight at a secluded place and I am the only female going. I feel creeped out so what do I do?~
      Perhaps they don’t want to creep you out or they are worried about offending you. If that is the case then one way of looking at it is that they are at least being conscientious of how inviting you a log may be perceived by you. However, I can’t say I am a big fan of this line of thinking if this is the case. They should ask you how you feel instead of just assuming how you would feel especially on the basis of your gender.

      1. SophieChotek*

        This was my thought too. On the principle it — I agree, it sounds like gender-based discrimination (if I understand it correctly) and the OP should be included, no question.

        I couldn’t tell from the letter if the OP would be offended/uncomfortable if there was a lot less (no?) “shop talk” or “business talk” outside the conference when at the house. Like if the guys did do all those (stereotypically “guy” activities one hears about)– as mentioned elsewhere in this thread, potential cheating on significant others, college-frat like parties, lots of off-color jokes, lots of drinking, etc. — Not sure if one could argue that is not appropriate for outside trade show work gatherings?

        Like Ann Furthermore wrote, the single hotel room might appeal – time to unwind, etc.
        But I do get the concern about lost-shared-bonding opportunities.

        1. sarah*

          But wait, why would people be allowed to make sexual jokes and drink heavily at a work-related event paid for with work money?? This is still work and you are still protected from a hostile work environment. (P.S. Not all dudes like to hear work-inappropriate sex jokes either!)

          1. AnonAnalyst*

            I know! I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask people not to do those things during a work event (which a BUSINESS TRIP is). Most people manage to avoid doing all of those things (even during business travel!) just fine, so I’m not seeing how acting in an appropriate manner for a professional environment is a big ask.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Yeah, this frosts me.

            A family member had to go to a convention for a professional group. She came back totally disillusioned with the entire arena. Drinking and drugs were the number one thing. Most people showed up to lectures and events stoned/drunk out their minds. The fact that they were supposed to be getting professional development was a mere blip on the radar. It was not long after that, she quit the field. Things were way out of hand and this was supposed to be work.

      2. Temperance*

        100000000% disagree.

        She has made it clear that she wants to be part of the team. They are excluding her. They first tried to mean-girl her out of it, and this year, they expressly told her she wasn’t included. F that.

        Events like this should simply *not* happen unless all are included. Point, blank, period.

        I know of what I speak: at my last job, my male peer was going against company protocol to arrange happy hours and lunches with our clients, excluding me because, and I quote “our clients are all married men, Temperance, so they can’t go out with you” and he said it was fine because he was developing business. So I threw a torpedo into his reputation by informing our Grand Boss, who I am close to even now, 8 years later. Grand Boss put a stop to that right quick.

        I don’t care about being liked, though, and frankly, I wasn’t in a situation where it was me vs. a bunch of men.

        1. leftout*

          You sound like a badass; let me sit next to you.

          Like you said, I really do want to be part of the team. That’s part of why this weirdly hurts from an emotional standpoint!

          1. Temperance*

            Thank you for the lovely comment. Honest, I think YOU are the badass here! Being the only woman on an all-male team can be really, really isolating and difficult. I’m only the way I am because other women have had my back along the way.

          2. Ann O.*

            There is NOTHING weird about why this hurts. You thought you were valued as a member of your team, equally and without gender bias. Now you’ve found out that’s not the case. This revelation puts you in a difficult position because you are outnumbered and because life is not fair. Your company is doing something very wrong–discriminating on the basis of gender–but it seems probable that any choice easily available to you will hurt you more.

            I wish I had good advice. I wish I knew of a great script that you could take to your boss that would solve the situation. Sadly, I don’t. :( But I can offer validation that you are being wronged; it is normal to be upset.

            Honestly, I would start quietly looking for another job. This is likely the tip of the iceberg.

      3. LBK*

        They should ask you how you feel instead of just assuming how you would feel especially on the basis of your gender.

        Not only should they do this because it’s ethically right, it’s also legally required. It doesn’t matter if they think they’re doing it for good reasons or because it’s what she would want, it’s still illegal.

    8. GigglyPuff*

      To be perfectly honest, if you know they’re talking shop without you, and you’re comfortable doing this, I’d go to HR and let them know what’s happening, and ask for their recommendations on what to do (versus coming off as complaining).

      1. Liane*

        Maybe it was after your post, but OP has said her employer doesn’t have an in-house HR, & so is not sure who she can take it up with to get this straightened out.

        OP, have you actually straight out told your supervisor, boss, &/or BigBoss, “The company requiring the only woman on this trip to stay elsewhere might put us afoul of the laws against gender discrimination”? I know I wouldn’t want to have this conversation, but that might be your best bet. Heck, say it in the next team meeting as well.

        1. hbc*

          At the very least, “I’m afraid this looks like gender discrimination. Do you want to check in the [HR company] to make sure we aren’t going to get into trouble with this?”

        2. leftout*

          I feel like I’m in a bad position to do this: I already said I was fine with them doing it (though, again, I felt pushed against a wall to do so), so to them, it would appear SUPER out of left field, right?

          Our company culture is also pretty casual, so this would do some serious damage to me and my reputation. Just another reason I felt pressured to say I was fine with it.

          1. been there*

            I worked at a company once with a similar culture, and I was similarly the only woman on a team of men. I put up with a lot of gendered crap for a long time because I was afraid of the damage to my reputation if I ‘made a big deal out of nothing.’ One of my coworkers eventually crossed a line I wasn’t willing to ignore so I did take it to HR. They handled it well, no one ever held anything against me, and I got a big raise soon after. I’d give your company a chance to prove that they are decent people before just assuming that doing the right thing will damage your reputation.

            1. Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys*

              Also, it’s the Big Boss that has the problem. He is treating your employment differently because you are a woman, that’s illegal discrimination. He should be addressing this from the point of how to include everyone. A B&B usually has individual suites with locks on the door. Rent out one of those versus a house on Airbnb and you’ll get the same effect and male employees that don’t want this environment on their business (and may feel equally obligated to go along with it) would benefit as well.

          2. Natalie*

            It’s completely okay to have changed your mind about something, or to have answered on the spot and then realized your answer was incorrect

            “As I’ve had a chance to think about the lodging situation we discussed yesterday, I realized that I am actually uncomfortable being left out of the networking and team bonding that happens when the men all lodge together. I don’t think it’s okay that I’m being denied that opportunity because I’m the only woman in the group.”

            1. leftout*

              Thank you. That’s great wording, and I really, really appreciate it.

              I’m going to take the weekend and think it over. I may come in on Monday and try this approach. I think the outcome may still not change, but I will have at least registered my concern — which they’ll hopefully keep in mind come annual review time.

              1. zora*

                I said this below, but also, I think being honest about the situation might help, too. Saying “you are putting me in a tough position here, because I don’t want to ruin everyone’s fun, but the end result here is that I’m being treated differently because of my gender.”

                Try to focus on being super logical, and removing any emotion about you being ‘bummed’ or ‘not okay with it’, because that’s not actually what the problem is. The problem is the facts of the situation and the illegality of it. But this sounds really hard, good luck!

                1. OhBehave*

                  That is a great response!

                  If nothing sways them, then make sure you get a rockin’ Air bnb. You can arrange to host a few get-togethers as well as the guys (this so sounds like we’re at camp).

                  Just remember that your efforts are not only for yourself, but for the next woman (who is in high school now) wanting to work in your field! You are breaking barriers.

    9. Mustache Cat*

      Ugh this is the worst situation. I feel so much sympathy for you, because if you complain or insist on joining the house, you’ll be seen as “uncool” and I’m sure there’ll be comments to the effect of “this is why she can’t be in the house to start with”. But it is really awful and unfair to let this continue.

      Long-term: I don’t think the attitudes behind this will go away, even if you get to join the house. Being included in the team shouldn’t be a prize you have to beg for. I can’t help but imagine that this will effect your career there in other ways, even if you feel valued now.

      For now: I’d be honest that you’d like to join. When the younger guys talks about how much they look forward to it, say something like, “That sounds like fun, I wish I could join!” You’re a woman, so unfortunately I’m guessing you know the tone of voice we have to say this kind of BS in: I’m-not-complaining-I’m-totally-chipper-about-it-I-just-want-YOU-to-be-happy! This will allow you to assess the attitudes of the other guys on the team to your exclusion. Do they all feel that you should be excluded, or is it just your supervisor? I feel like it only really makes sense, unfortunately, to push for inclusion if the guys on the team are cool with it. It sucks, but it sounds like you can only rock the boat so far.

      If you end up having to stay in a hotel by yourself, no one would judge you for engaging in petty revenge. Order the most extravagant room service you can think of on the company’s dime.

      1. leftout*

        Thanks for the advice. I think it’s just BigBoss who has a problem with it, and my supervisor was the one to deliver the message. I really don’t think the others care.

        I’m glad you understand the crux of the problem — I really felt backed against a wall when asked if I was okay with them doing it. Maybe I should have pushed against it and, as someone else said, be okay with some awkwardness. But it’s also hard because these guys have been good to me before. They hired me when I was in a tough spot, so I feel this sense of obligation to be chipper/cheery/fine with everything. Like a workplace version of the Cool Girl trope.

        1. Mustache Cat*

          It’s good to hear that the others aren’t actively excluding you. I do echo the other commenters in that it probably would have been better to be honest with your supervisor when he sat you down, but I 100000% understand why you weren’t. I probably would have done the same thing. It wasn’t a fair situation to be put in when you knew that BigBoss was against your presence. Your supervisor should have pushed back on it on his own, not made you bear the brunt of BigBoss’s effed-up thinking.

        2. zora*

          UGH! This whole thing is super crappy.

          Could you go with honesty and try to adjust the situation so that you are actually acting like a peer with these folks, and maybe that will end up creating that as the new reality? Like actually saying: “Listen, you’re putting me in a really tough position here making it like I can either be the ‘cool’ one, or if I am honest it makes me the bad guy who’s ruining everyone’s fun. But the end result is treating me differently because of my gender and that just seems like a crappy thing to do.” And see what boss says? Try to literally surgically remove any emotion or feelings out of it and just be super logical? It is sooooo much easier said than done, I know, but maybe it would work, and Boss would realize how it is and talk to the Big Boss about how it’s not fair and they should just let you stay in the house?

          I think I would either try that, or find a new job, if it was me. Because this is a self-perpetuating cycle, you will continue to be more and more out of the loop as they spend more and more time hanging out being gross in houses together. But wow, this is so tough. I’m so sorry you have to deal with this!!

        3. The Rat-Catcher*

          When people phrase questions as, “We’re doing X, that’s okay, RIGHT?”, I feel they have zero standing to act shocked or hurt when an answer gets changed.

        4. Cryptic Critter*

          How hard would it be to find a AirBnB with a separate suite for you? That way you are there yet not there for the ludicrous boy-stuff? I can see enjoying the informality of work chat and brainstorming after your trade commitments, but the reality is more likely they hang out in their boxers with a beer in hand. I would think that’s more the issue. Altho I hear the hysterical blindness wears off in about twenty minutes?

        5. Tau*

          They hired me when I was in a tough spot, so I feel this sense of obligation to be chipper/cheery/fine with everything.

          I admit I don’t know your situation but I still want to push back against this on general principle!

          Companies don’t generally hire people as a favour, to help them out or because they feel sorry for them. Companies hire people because they have work which they need someone to do. They hired you because they thought you’d be very good at that particular work. (Which, from what you said upthread, was indeed the case). It’s a business decision, not a favour, and you don’t owe them anything – especially not putting up with this sort of BS. Hell, from a different perspective you’re the ones doing them a favour because you chose to accept this job and do it to the best of your capabilities, you know?

          Seriously. From everything you’ve said here you are an awesome and capable person and your team doesn’t deserve you. Don’t make yourself smaller to please them!

          1. leftout*

            Thank you, the reminder is really helpful! It’s easy to get let personal thoughts cloud the more rational thinking of the workplace.

    10. Biff*

      You are right to feel left out, and don’t think for a minute that it has no impact on your work. I’m a good skier, and was not invited on the company’s mini-ski vacation, though other people, who hadn’t been on a hill in two decades, were. They knew what they were doing. It was reflected later in ‘lists’ that the company drew up when business turned sour. Those who had been given outside-of-work opportunities were all piled onto the ‘not critical’ list, even though some of us were the only people who did certain work.

      But, keep this in mind — you maybe don’t want to work for people who reward face time instead of overtime, dedication and ability.

    11. Merida May*

      You should take some time to figure out where this could be escalated to, because in my opinion it’s necessary at this point. They’re freezing you out based on your gender, and what’s worse, trying to press you in to giving them your blessing so they don’t have to feel badly about it. You’ve been doing a good job at letting them know this bothers you, that isn’t easy, but is there anyone above said boss that could hear you out? Your boss can’t be objective in this situation as he is clearly very invested in the outcome.

    12. sarah*

      Wait what? This is not just hurt feelings, the fact that you are the only female on the team means it’s a gender discrimination lawsuit waiting to happen. Go to your boss, but also HR. Sorry if it ruins their fun bro time, but…we’re not in the old boys club world anymore and that shit is not okay.

    13. Beancounter in Texas*

      Since it is BigBoss who is excluding you, if there isn’t anyone above him to which to appeal, and no in-house HR, I’m betting your outsourced HR might give you some freebie guidance on what to do, even though the company may see that as taking it “way too far.” If you’re not comfortable taking it to that level and perhaps seeking legal counsel, then you can either accept it, or leave, even though I know that means taking a job in a different line of work.

      To me, it looks like blatant gender discrimination. I think you have a good case (with a precedent no less!) if you want to pursue it legally. A consultation with an attorney may help you decide. Otherwise, I could only hope that all of the other guys insist on your inclusion to BigBoss or opt out altogether, all of them.

    14. Student*

      You’re right to feel left out, because you are being left out pretty explicitly.

      You are probably wrong to want to remedy this by inserting yourself into the housing arrangement, strictly from a “what’s in your personal best interests” angle and not a fairness angle. They are planning to do things they don’t want you to see – there’s a big behavior range that may cover, but every single bit of it is unprofessional and you know it. It may even be openly harmful to you. If you join in their reindeer games, you are not going to benefit from doing so. It’s doubtful you’d even have fun on a one-time basis, given that they seem to want to make you feel as awkward as possible even being int he house. They will think less of you than they do now, and they obviously don’t think much of you as-is.

      Your best bet is to look for a new job. You aren’t valued here; you’re viewed as the spoil-sport mom for a bunch of metal juveniles. Find someplace that values you for your talents and doesn’t view you as an interloper based on your gender. The harder you fight this, the more entrenched they will get in their spoilsport-mom view of you, and the more they will view you as a threat to be neutralized by other means. You have no winning moves, so go play somewhere else you can win. You could try to fight the sexism by involving HR, legal options, etc., and maybe drive up the cost to them of being jerks, but it won’t fix the culture or salvage your career prospects here, you probably won’t win, and it’ll absolutely make you feel like much more of a pariah than you do right now in the process.

      1. Anoctopus*

        Frankly, if I were in this position and I thought they DID value me as an employee, I’d leave, and call them on it explicitly in the process of resigning, when I had an offer I was able to accept. Preferably with both Boss and Big Boss in the room, I’d say:

        “To tell the truth, I’ve really liked it here and I didn’t want to leave. But you put me in an impossible situation with the whole AirBnB thing… either I could accept illegal discrimination which was going to harm my career prospects, because that kind of bonding is generally influential in who gets the best assignments or opportunities, which is why it’s illegal to leave women out of it in the first place; or I could speak up about it and be perceived as the spoilsport who was killing everyone else’s fun, and that would *also* eventually damage my job prospects, since in a small place like this, being liked matters a lot. Either way, once you’d set up the situation and made it my problem to either accept discrimination or be the troublemaker, there was no way I could win.

        “Which is honestly why they have antidiscrimination laws in the first place… so women will be protected from having to be put in this kind of no-win position. Now that I’m in it, I just don’t see a way forward for me here anymore. I’m sad about that, because I’ve really liked working here, but that’s the way it is.”

        Hopefully, losing an employee they value might make them think a bit. It’s not your problem at that point, but it might make them wake up and change their approach the next time they’ve got a woman working for them.

        They might, of course, apologize and offer to do things the right way going forward. Which is nice and all, but has most of the same problems as accepting any other counteroffer (which is what it’d be, just not in money). Gratifying to hear them offer, but not a good idea to accept.

    15. sniffles*

      wasn’t there just a question about a woman NOT wanting to stay with the guys on a trip becasue she was concerned that the men were going to be up to some hankypanky with the female staffers? Hot tub, bring your bathing suit, etc?

      AirBnB is great if it’s a bunch of friends getting together before or after the conference time for vacation time but for the actual conference? Everyone should be at the hotel so they can mix, mingle & network with people from other companies.

  12. Reg commenter anon for this*

    For people with chronic pain diseases (arthritis, lupus…diseases in that family which affect your everyday lives really strongly) – how does that affect what jobs you take? Have you ever passed on a job because it just seemed like it would take too much out of you?

    I’m asking because I have an employee who suffers from something in this category and I’m starting to be convinced that we can’t modify the job in a way that she can make it work. I feel horrible about it and don’t want to have to let her go but I’m wondering if it’s possible that there are jobs she just can’t do while also dealing with a lot of pain, medicine management, side effects, etc.

    It’s a desk job, nothing is physically required except being there every day, but coverage is important and she’s constantly missing the beginning of the day, taking more sick days than she accrues, flaking out on assignments when she feels ill…whenever something like this happens she blames being sick which makes me really hesitant to push her any further, but this job can’t function without someone there 90% of the time and I’m at my wits end. Any advice?

    1. NW Mossy*

      Definitely sounds like something you should discuss with HR (assuming your org is big enough to have it). Part of their job is understanding the rules around “reasonable accommodation” and helping you determine if it’s even possible to modify a particular role such that someone can reasonably do the work that needs doing. They can help assess if there are other roles available where her restrictions don’t make as much of an impact and/or guide you on what to do if that’s not an option. You’re not required to keep her in this role forever if she can’t perform the job functions.

    2. Mononymous*

      Mine isn’t exactly the same (autoimmune instead of chronic pain) but I specifically chose a job that is not tied to a physical location. I’m a programmer, so as long as I have a work laptop and an Internet connection, I can do my job effectively.

      As much as I empathize with your employee, I know that there are some jobs that I simply cannot do. I once turned down a call center job when I was desperate for work because I knew that scheduled/limited bathroom breaks was just totally out of the question for me. I’ve been having difficulties with my health so I work remotely full-time right now, with the blessing of my boss, and I absolutely won’t take a non-remote job until I am in a different place health-wise, even though I have worked in the office plenty before and I’m sure I will again in the future.

      Unfortunately, it sounds like your employee isn’t physically able to hold down a butt-in-seat job, at least not right now. That isn’t a judgment against her for being sick, or against your company for what work this role needs to be able to do–it just isn’t a match for this particular employee right now.

      As for advice: talk to her. Be honest with her that you have concerns, and ask what she thinks about those concerns. Are there any other roles in your company that she might transition to, that don’t require arriving at a certain time? If not, you may need to turn the conversation to transitioning her out of the role. It’s hard, but she is probably also stressing out about not getting her assignments done and missing work, and the stress surely isn’t helping her health situation any. Be kind when you speak with her, but also be very clear about what the company needs, and let her decide whether she can meet those needs consistently or not.

      1. Mononymous*

        Also, yes, definitely involve HR in all conversations and decisions for guidance on those tricky ADA/FMLA rules.

    3. Jules the First*

      I’ve never passed on a job for health reasons because I’m firmly of the ‘suck it up’ school of thought – once I’ve committed to a job, it’s on me to make it work and my chronic illness is no more an excuse for not delivering than having, say, a cat who pukes on the carpet 30 seconds before you leave the house, or a toddler who throws tantrums if you get on the 7.26 train instead of the 7.32 train. That said, I do try and manage the quantity of travel my job requires, because it’s difficult both logistically (because of my illness) and emotionally (because of past travel trauma). So I guess my answer is “it depends”: in general, a chronic illness is not an excuse for underperformance, and yes, there are some jobs that simply can’t be modified.

      I want to say that this mismatch you’re experiencing is less about her illness and more about the fact that her illness is not being effectively managed by her medical team – and while neither of those is your problem, have you explored adjusting her schedule to a later start time (if she frequently can’t manage the original start time but is fine later in the day), or turning it into a jobshare where you drop her to, say, two full days and three afternoons a week and get in a return-to-work mum or something for two or three mornings a week, so you maintain coverage but she doesn’t lose her job?

      Another thought – is the problem that she’s not physically there, or is the problem that she flakes on assignments and the work doesn’t get done when she’s not physically there? In the former case, you may be right that you can’t adapt this job to accommodate her needs; if the latter, then you need to be really explicit with her that while you’re prepared to work around her illness, she needs to be absolutely committed to getting the work done, whether she’s having a good week or not, and that if her productivity doesn’t improve you will have to let her go.

    4. Non runner*

      I have chronic migraines with intractability (basically a constant migraine that medication can’t manage fully), so I’m not sure how directly applicable my experience is. However, I fall under the camp of suck it up, buttercup. At least until I’m not safe to drive.

      1. A Day at the Zoo*

        I have had RA most of my life and have been blessed to be able to mostly manage it with low level pain meds(mostly OTC). However, I have seen a lot of people who are much more impacted. Could the issue not be the job itself, but her commute? Most days I would be able to stand on my feet for a period of time to take public transportation; other days not so much so I may need to wait for a train or bus with seats. Approaching her honestly about the impact of her sick days and late arrivals and how to address that would be a huge kindness.

    5. Soupspoon McGee*

      I’ve been in her position. I made sure to work with my boss and doctor to craft an FMLA plan to put me on a reduced schedule while I recovered from a flare, and my boss was really good about making sure I didn’t go over my allotted hours. So I suggest you work with your employee and HR to figure out whether it’s more reasonable to have her in a 70% position or 50% position, for example. Then figure out if you can function with her at part time, possibly with another PT person on board, if she can work elsewhere in the organization, or if she simply can’t be accommodated.

      Secondly, do NOT think of her as “flaking out” on assignments due to illness. The last thing I wanted was for my boss and coworkers to think I was a flake, so I pushed myself far too hard and beat myself up when I couldn’t do an excellent job. Think of it this way instead: Either she’s a good worker who lets you know when work is too much, or she’s not a great employee. Look at her other actions and work–is she as reliable and capable as she can be, or not? Does she give you enough notice when she’s not going to complete something? Is she a good communicator? Is she conscientious?

        1. AVP*

          Well, a few times she’s just flat-out forgotten to do major parts of her job or specific tasks that she promised the company owner she would do, and the only reason she gave was “oh I totally forgot about that!” In a position where that kind of thing can’t really happen more than once every few months, but it happens every week. So maybe those weren’t disease related but I guess I was trying to give her the benefit of the doubt on them, because if they’re not then it’s a bigger problem.

        2. Biff*

          I disagree. You can still have a major illness and behave poorly and flake on people. Someone who says “I’m sick” when asked why her job isn’t done isn’t handling her illness properly, and is definitely acting flakey.

    6. MsChanandlerBong*

      I can empathize with both of you. I have an autoimmune disease, and my pain is usually worse at night. So if the pain is so bad that I can’t sleep, I have a hard time getting going the next day. I can see why she might be late/have trouble getting things done in the morning. But, flaking out on assignments is cause for concern.

      Do you have any schedule flexibility? If so, starting a little later in the day might be helpful for her.

      Personally, I had to give up on working outside the home. I am extremely fortunate that I have a skill people will pay me to use while I sit with an ice pack on my knee or a heating pad on my back! Before I started working at home, a doctor told me to quit my job and file for disability because my health was too precarious to try to work a steady job. When I am able to work, I excel. But every time I took a job, things would go great for six or seven months, and then I’d be hit with the need for surgery or an illness that was so bad that I used up all my PTO and missed too many days of work.

    7. Biff*

      Ugh, I was actually coming here to ask this kind of question, albeit about mental illness. But to answer your question:

      I have a couple of chronic conditions that impact my ability to work. About once a month, I have a really bad day, and I have to stay in bed. That usually means about 6-9 sick days each year from work (since some of those bad days will happen on a weekend or holiday.) If it happens on a low-key day at work, I can often just go in and muddle through. That said, I’ve never found that there’s a job that is available to me that really doesn’t work with my condition. There are jobs out there, just not ones that I could get without training.

      It’s good to note that my condition doesn’t cause pain the way that many chronic conditions do.
      BUT, it’s not very predictable. I can go months without a bad day, and then I can have 4 or 5 right in a row. I know some of my triggers, but they only trigger problems 60-80% of the time. So they may not actually be the triggers. I don’t know. The lack of predictability is tough, and in some ways makes me resemble your employee.

      But I’ve never used my condition to explain away work that I ‘flaked’ on. But then again, I’ve had my problem since I was 11, and I’m now in my thirties. I’ve had a long time to figure out how to get things done in spite of feeling bad or having joints that don’t want to work that day. If your employee is new to her chronic condition, she may not have much in the way of coping abilities yet. If that’s the case, I’d recommend asking her to commit to a part-time schedule, and hiring another person part-time for about 6 months. If your employee has had it a long time, it seems likely to me that she either never learned good coping skills, is experiencing a flare-up that she feels like she should be able to manage and can’t, or has always used her condition as an excuse. She might just be in total denial, I guess, too.

      People who are handling their condition well will usually be able to give you an outlook for a few days, maybe even a week. They will warn you of unpredictability and will tell you what they plan to do if a flare happens. Something like this: “Okay, I know that the Brady Project is due on Friday this week, and that we’re almost there. I need to clean up the photos we took, fancy-up the graphs and figures, and then format the whole document. I haven’t had a flare up in a while so while I think I’ll be good, I’ve already asked Sal to have some room in his schedule after Wednesday if the worst happens.”

      To answer your other question — yes when you have a chronic condition, you should be aware that there are jobs you can’t do. HOWEVER, a lot of chronic conditions come with an element of unpredictability, and when you don’t have a lot of training you’ll find that the unpredictability kills your ability to get a low-level job, since most of them really just need warm bodies. Your employee may have no other choice than to go for jobs that don’t play well with her condition.

    8. Temperance*

      It sounds like this might not be the right job for her. A receptionist, for example, needs to be at his/her station. That’s the basic requirement of the job, and the most important.

      1. Lissa*

        Yeah. It sucks, but not everyone can do every job. My disability means I can’t drive, which lets out a lot of jobs for me. I wish it wasn’t the case, but them’s the breaks I guess.

    9. Spoonie*

      I’ve had a chronic pain condition for a number of years. In addition to the actual pain factor, my other issue is medication changes — sometimes a medication starts out well and then maybe two months in everything starts going down the toilet. I’ve finally gotten slightly better about listening to my body and recognizing those changes. If your employee is new to having a chronic condition (or in denial, or tired of dealing — which I’ve been there too), she may not be realizing the impact she’s having. She may even think she’s covering/dealing with everything well. I’ve certainly ensured that I have a specialist in my back pocket that can help me manage my health issues.

      I’m one of those “fake it ’till you make it” types, so most people don’t know that it’s a Bad Day unless they know the signs. At Old Job, there was no ability to work remotely, which was sometimes a problem. With New Job, I could, which will come in handy. New Job also doesn’t require me to be on the phones and have to be customer-focused and “on” — another plus for Bad Days since my thought processing is sometimes slower and I generally feel sluggish.

      I would approach the conversation that you’re concerned about her health since she’s unable to do xyz and what can you do together to help her accomplish her job — is it moving her to part time, adjusting her hours, transitioning to something else within the company or… If you have an HR representative in your company, I would certainly loop them in to see what sort of reasonable accommodations are legally required and if they have any suggestions.

    10. AVP*

      Thank you all so much for this! Everything you’ve said has been really helpful. We’re an extremely small company with no HR department or FMLA so I am really flying blind here. I had planned to do a review with her on Monday so I’ll read all of these suggestions over in depth again before we speak and try to come up with a list of things to go over without it feeling like I’m prying too much into medical details that I don’t need to know. I think there’s a lot of different possible issues that may be affecting her situation, so my goal will be to try to come at it from a point of wanting to understand what we can and can’t do, what she might or might not need, and how we can make sure the fit is right all around. Again, thanks so much for sharing your experiences so candidly.

      1. Natalie*

        If you’re a super small company (fewer than 15 employees) the ADA doesn’t apply to you, although state laws could potentially be stricter. If you have fewer than 50 employees FMLA does not apply (again, state laws can differ).

        Since you don’t have an HR department, spending a few hundred dollars to consult with a labor law attorney.

        1. AVP*

          Yep, we’re that small (less than 15 people) but have always tried to follow these laws to the best of our ability because we want to treat everyone well.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        And I think it’s important to separate out the flakiness from the illness related absences. Forgetting that you were supposed to do tasks is not acceptable, and if your illness makes you more inclined to forget, there are ways to compensate (like a detailed to-do list). So you can address that as a pure employee not doing well enough issue.

        With the rest – that’s a lot tricker. Can she be shifted to a job that’s less attendance dependant? Can someone be cross trained to cover when she’s not there (without being unfair to their own job?) Part time with another part-timer to cover the rest might work, if her absences are predictable, although that brings the problem of finding someone who can work part time with irregular shifts.

        But in general, if an illness or disability means that the employee can’t do the core functions of the job, even with accommodation, then yes, it’s probably not a good choice of job. The problem is that jobs that tend to be more flexible and easy to accommodate things like unexpected absences tend to be ones that require more training, education and seniority, so they’re not necessarily an option for some people.

      3. AnonForThisPurpose*

        Not sure if you’ll catch this (a day late, sorry!) but a couple of things if you haven’t already considered them

        – Chronic pain stuff can make mornings a lot harder. If there’s any flexibility about who does the morning cover of a desk or that can be rotated, that might help.

        – Are there things you could do that would make her work space and the practical management of getting to/from her desk take as little energy as possible? (Saving more for work is the idea). This might be adjustments to her chair, desk height, lighting, or something like an assigned parking spot near the closest door to her desk.

        (I have chronic stuff though mine is more about exhaustion than pain, and having a predictable parking to desk routine makes things so easier. When I was at a job where I never knew where I could park, it added a lot of stress and exhaustion – sometimes I could park close to the building I was in, sometimes it’d be a 5+ minute walk (university campus) There were definitely days when I went “If I knew I could park close to the door, I could do useful things at work and hold down the desk, but if I have to walk further, I can’t manage.” because I was that close to the line on what my body could take right then. Especially in winter, with uneven footing/ice/etc. to deal with.)

        Basically, asking her if there are things that would help her be able to be at her desk, on time, ready to do the necessary work, and what that would look like, even if she doesn’t think that’s viable for some reason, might get you some ideas.

        – My last job hunt, I definitely passed on some jobs because it was clear the workspace and my body were not going to be a good match – delighted at my current job where I have a lot of control over background noise, lighting, and how my space is set up, and deeply appreciate it because it helps me do much better work.

        – I also passed on some jobs because it was clear they’d want a level of absolute coverage I wasn’t sure I could maintain (I currently end up calling out sick due to annoying body about every 6-8 weeks. I can usually aim for a day I don’t have meetings or other necessary stuff and that’s fine with my job. But if I don’t take the day when my body starts complaining that loudly, I’ll be much less able to do good work for a week or two, plus a bunch of negative effects on daily life stuff like making meals and doing minimal cleaning.)

    11. sniffles*

      Yes it can affect your job choices. I passed on a job because my office would have been on the first floor & the main offices would be on the third/fourth floor accessible by an outside stairwell only (no elevator) and my arthritis (knees & ankles, soon to include hips) just meant it would be unbearable for me.
      Morning are hard for me too so I usually get in ~10 am but stay until 6pm, per an agreement at hiring.

      (Might I suggest the book “Old Age – A beginners Guide” about someone with Parkinsons and how it has affected his life?)

    12. Thomas*

      I, for a long time, was in the suck it up category myself, but I have come to realize that one would not reasonably ask someone with a different illness to suck it up, so it isn’t fair on myself to do that. That said, I’ve not ever given up a job because of my chronic pain (but I’m still young… one never knows), but I certainly do ask for and find modifications where I can (asking for new chairs, changing positions, having my supervisors in the loop, not lifting things, etc.). For me this is helpful. But I don’t think it’s a good idea to dismiss it. Empathy is important in situations like this.

    13. AliceBD*

      I have an autoimmune disease that when not well-managed indirectly causes a lot of pain, limited mobility, and trouble sleeping. I am very fortunate that I had been here for a couple of years when it appeared, so that everyone knew me as reliable, etc. so they knew I really needed to be off. Additionally it affects my appearance greatly so it is very obvious when I am flaring. I am also lucky I don’t have a “butt in seats” job like a receptionist — generally everyone works out of the office, but I do have the ability to work from home if needed. And I used it when my condition was bad, or I would go home to work from my bed because I couldn’t physically sit in a desk chair for the second half of the day. But I also got done what I promised I would get done, and told my boss what I couldn’t get done. And I did nothing else in my life for several months other than go to the doctor and work; I gave up all outside work activities in order to have the energy to work.

  13. Clemmy Clue*

    You see the stories of over the top ways people have quit their jobs. I love the video of a guy walking into the break room/cafeteria (with his brother as a cameraman), turning on some epic music from a giant stereo, and ripping off his shirt to reveal ‘I QUIT’ written in Sharpie on his chest.

    So what’s the completely crazy way you’d quit if it didn’t completely burn any bridges of good will between you and your job? (Or if you’ve witnessed one of these at your job, would love to hear that too)

    Recently, my entire office left me alone to hold down the fort while they all took long holiday lunches. I wanted to print out a giant banner with the words ‘ F— This, I Quit’, hang it on the front desk for all to see, and walk out, with inappropriate curse word filled rap music left playing on loop from my computer. Would have been a lovely post-lunch surprise for them to return to.

    A friend on mine works in a company with big Skype meetings between various locations. She’d love to walk into one of these recorded meeting with a ‘I Quit’ poster and just parade up and down behind her bosses for the other Skype contacts to see on the screen.

    1. anonderella*

      Playing the hour-long version of Goodbye Moonmen from Rick and Morty on loop, with computer screen locked, on very loud volume after sending a company-wide email announcing my departure.

      this doesn’t seem enough – gotta think on this more.

    2. not so super-visor*

      Sorry, I think that you just come off as the crazy one when you do a dramatic “I quit” scene. Your former coworkers will just remember you as that wacko who quit by doing XX.

      We had someone in another department near mine send out an email to everyone in the building (big bosses included) + several high value customers declaring that she was quitting because everyone in leadership was a bully and didn’t value her. Then she pressed send and threw up all of the papers on her desk in the air and stormed out. Everyone else had to clean up after her and apologize to customers. Needless to say, we still talk about in the view of her being the crazy one.

      1. anonderella*

        no these aren’t supposed to be real things you’d do! I’m pretty sure we’re fantasizing, here, while keeping to the hypothetical rule “don’t burn bridges, but exaunt fantastiqe!”

    3. Xarcady*

      Many years ago, when I worked at a library under a toxic supervisor, I had visions of taking the card catalog drawers and flinging the cards into the air as I ran out of the building, shouting, “I’m free! I’m free!”

      More recently, and with a slightly less toxic boss who “fired” me on a regular basis and then told me the next day he wasn’t serious, just really annoyed with me. He fired me yet again, and told me I would work out the rest of the week and then be gone. Next day, “You know I was just kidding, right?”

      To which I replied, “No, I thought you were serious. I have other plans. I can only work to the end of next week.”

      He hit the roof, screaming “You can’t do this to me! The big seminar is in a month! The conference starts next week!” Then babbling offers of increased pay, more vacation time.

      Me: “Sorry. Grad school starts in two weeks. I was going to give notice tomorrow anyway. Can’t change plans now.”

      That felt good, I have to admit.

      1. Mononymous*

        OMG. Could you have filed for unemployment? You were fired after all!

        Your boss was completely bonkers.

      2. Artemesia*

        Oh I wouldn’t have mentioned the grad school. This kind of jerk needs to be left holding the bag and thinking it was because he fired you one too many times.

      3. sniffles*

        LOL – a worked in a venue where it was standard for the techs to get pissed, shout “That’s it, I Quit”, and them storm out. They’d be given a grace period of ~ 10 mins (long enough to get a smoke & calm down) and then return and everyone would continue on their merry way with the rest of the day.
        My (at the time) boyfriend did this one day and was surprised to find the door locked & that he was not allowed back in (the other techs hated working with him and the wrong upper echelon heard him quit & storm out and took him for his word!)

      4. Lissa*

        That’s amazing. I hate assholes like that. I hope he learns his lesson and never fake-fires someone again. Makes me think of jerks in relationships who break up with you and then want you back or didn’t think you’d take it seriously, etc. Sorry buddy, you tell me “this isn’t working out” and I’m gonna walk, not beg you to take me back…

    4. paul*

      I’d like to play some good ol Johnny Paycheck, Take This Job And Shove it, but only if it’s during a major meeting with the state for our contract work.

    5. Kelly L.*

      This was one I never did, but I daydreamed about it.

      I used to work at Taco Bell, back around the turn of the millennium when they were pushing their late-night hours with the slogan, “It’s late. Eat more.” My particular Taco Bell was right next to the fraternity houses in a party-happy college town, and we got so.many.drunk.people late at night, ranging from the goofy to the belligerent to the literally getting arrested for DUI while waiting in the drive-thru line. I was tired of them. I was also about to quit.

      I didn’t have the guts or the money, but I wanted to have bags printed that looked just like our usual ones, but saying “It’s late. Go Home!”

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        I worked at a Dairy Queen where we occasionally got drunks. So sad how many times we’d forget to give them napkins, straws, and flatware in their orders before they drove away… (Usually to be stopped by the cops who were having coffee in the convenience store behind us. The best part was being on the border shared by three towns, so they could potentially get three tickets for the same offense.)

    6. Maria*

      LOL! I actually really like your idea.

      At my old job my boss was a real piece of work and I often daydreamed of explosive and hilarious ways to quit. I had already had a job offer so I was fortunate enough to be able to quit without notice. She was on one of her ridiculous tirades and my level of tolerance for her shenanigans was already through the roof. I interrupted her and said “I really don’t want to work here anymore.” It left her a bit stunned but I didn’t care. And then I just walked out. It wasn’t as explosive or hilarious as I imagined, but I felt so free in that moment and relieved afterwards.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        LOL. When I worked for Screamer/Thrower, he got himself all in knots one day, as usual, but this time he said, “Why don’t you quit?”

        In my normal speaking voice, I said okay. Of course Screamer/Thrower did hear me because he was busy screaming and throwing.

        I put my coat on.
        “What are you doing?”
        “I am quitting like you wanted.”

        When I left he was still screaming and throwing.

        I walked out feeling like queen of the world.

    7. Bossy Magoo*

      Well, this wasn’t exactly crazy, but it was so satisfying (to me as a bystander, and I’m sure to the person who did it). We worked for someone who likely has undiagnosed narcissistic personality disorder. My friend/colleague was working on a huge project and he was lying separately to her and to the people who worked on the project with her about what each side was saying, agreeing to, had an opinion on. So, for example, my friend recommended a launch date and gave her reasons why she felt that was the appropriate date. The boss told her that everyone else on the team felt strongly against that date and were pushing for this other date; and that he promised the rest of the team that he wouldn’t tell her that they said that (red flag). One day, in conversation about the project with a team member, he mentioned the date he felt they should launch and he said, “I’m warning you right now, if tries to tell you I didn’t agree with this date, he’s lying.” Apparently he had been trying to convince the rest of the team to agree to another launch date and when they wouldn’t, he just told her they all had. When she was in the senior leadership meeting where it was being discussed, sure enough the boss said, “we’re going to delay the launch date because everyone else on the team believes it should be delayed”. Some follow up discussion happened where he just kept telling lie after lie to her during this meeting and finally he told her something she was going to have to do to about the launch and she stood up and said, “I’m not doing anything because I DON’T WORK HERE ANY LONGER!” and walked out of the office, collected her things, and walked out of the building.

      She was a very professional person, but she had just had enough. She was probably the 3rd or 4th high level person at that company to resign that way – a very toxic place. But when she told me what happened, I was thrilled. Someone else who was in that meeting said after she walked out it got very quiet and then he went crazy screaming at everyone else in the room.

    8. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      I work for a company with several corporate catch phrases that get bandied about by upper management constantly. One of these is “People First”. Since this company acquired mine last year, they have taken away almost all of the benefits and perks that made my job enjoyable in an attempt to cut costs drastically. No raises, title demotions, reduction in benefits, taking away work from home opportunities and bonuses – you name it, we’ve been screwed out of it.

      My fantasy quit is to walk into my Facility Director’s office (as she is very unsympathetic to our dissatisfaction and continues to act like this acquisition is the best thing that’s ever happened) and slap a piece of paper with PEOPLE FIRST MY ASS written on it in 52 point Arial Bold in front of her in lieu of a resignation letter.

    9. OhNo*

      I actually like both of my jobs, so I would never do this where I work now.

      But if I had the opportunity to go back to one of my old toxic workplaces… I would probably find a way to hijack the speaker system and replace the horrendous Xmas music with the “F*ck this sh*t I’m out” song on repeat. If I was feeling particularly cranky that day I might sing it at the customers while I boogied my way out the door.

      What can I say? That song speaks to me on a personal level.

      1. Ama*

        I wouldn’t do this at my current place, but when I was at my last job, I occasionally fantasized about jamming all the copiers and running toner out of all the printers, then walking out of the building. I had a ridiculous workload at that job (they literally turned my position into 2.5 jobs when I left) and yet if you’d asked my colleagues what I did, 75% of them would say I fixed the copier.

    10. Mustache Cat*

      My old company owned the dot-org version of their domain name, but not the dot-com, which was for sale. I often spent time daydreaming about quietly buying the dot-com domain and filling it with I QUIT in giant letters, before having it redirect to our competitor.

    11. HRChick*

      Worked for an admin support government contractor. It was miserable. The project manager filled positions with people from his church/family who were grossly under-qualified. Part of that helped me – I didn’t have to be a superstar to look good. But, it was very frustrating and very toxic.
      Got an email from someone sent to the whole government organization AND contractors, basically outlining the ineptitude, the favoritism, the under-qualifications, the nepotism. She finished by saying that assistant project manager was horrible and probably only got her job because she had a picture of the project manager with a goat.
      It didn’t help anything, but it was funny and embarrassing all at once.

    12. Wendy Darling*

      I would forward the incredibly rude, bullying, unprofessional emails my boss sent me to the entire company, including the CEO. And then take out a job ad using all of their keywords explaining exactly why they’ve run through 5+ teapot analysts in two years.

    13. MC*

      Not quite the same but I got fired (I already had a new job lined up) and refused to give my boss the satisfaction of getting upset. He wanted me to be upset. He was toxic. The whole place was. So when he told me that “this partnership is just not working out” and I politely agreed he was stumped. When he asked if I was ok I told him I had “other irons in the fire” and I’d be just fine, that made him sputter. Ultimately they refused to send my last check because they wanted me to come in and be yelled at. I refused, called the BoL and they took care of everything. Still… a dramatic exit would have been fun to act out – but it would have given him exactly what he wanted. Screw that.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      Not me, but at one old job, one of the consultants got into a screaming fight with the manager (who could be a real asshole sometimes). At the climax of it, she yelled, “I QUIT!” and walked out. Not as dramatic as some of these stories, but I silently applauded her for not taking his shit.

      1. anon in the uk*

        My team of five now play the lottery. We dream of wandering into HE and announcing ‘¥^< % you. We're off'

    15. James*

      The best I did was to go up to a manager and ask where we turned in our uniforms (company-provided, and it was a cashier job) when we quit. He panicked and asked “Are you quitting NOW?!” I said no, but at the end of the period we had scheduled. He relaxed and told me how to go through the process. I was in college, and got a job working in the department on a research program–the money was worse, but my manager understood that having a research project on my resume was MUCH better than having a menial job!

      I did have a friend who quit a food services job by informing them that he had been infected, by order of the Department of Defense, with a virulent disease that wiped out millions of people. The manager gave him a dumbfounded look, to which my friend replied “I just got a smallpox vaccine!” The manager responded with “GET THE [deleted] OUT OF MY KITCHEN!!!” :D (The friend was active military being deployed, and the manager knew about it. It was just a surprise for everyone that the smallpox vaccine hit so hard.)

    16. So Anon It's Not Even Funny*

      I would say the following things to one of my past managers…
      -Work/life balance is a thing most people strive for. It’s not normal to expect people to work 90+ hours a week.
      -Working from home is a thing people can do successfully. Flexible hours are totally okay in our line of work.
      -You ARE a micromanager. Trust your employees and the good ones will reward that trust. Get rid of the bad ones.
      -Having, and receiving treatment for, a mental health condition does not mean your employee is “unstable”.
      -If someone comes to you with claims of sexual harassment, believe them. Don’t ignore them, or worse, blame them for the problem. Do something about the harasser.

    17. The Rat-Catcher*

      I worked at Big Box Store and always fantasized about doing a storewide page. “Attention, office. Attention, office. This is Rat-Catcher and I QUIT!”

      1. SOMA*

        I always wanted to do this when I worked retail! Just get on the PA system and go ‘Attention, shoppers. This is SOMA. I’d like to inform you that our management threw out all the items donated to charity last year, forces employees to work double shifts with no breaks, and is otherwise a giant bag of [Censored]. Enjoy your shopping!’ And then just run out the door.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I hope at some point you can leak it on the net or news that this company threw out donated items.

          I am sorry you had to put up with that crap.

    18. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

      Slightly different, but along the same lines… I was in the process of being fired/forced out of my role. My manager decided she wanted me out, so she basically lied about my performance to our dept. head and HR (being extremely careful that all examples she used were verbal or quantifiable) then put me on a PIP that included mostly subjective items (so that at the end she could just say I did not meet the requirements). There’s obviously a lot of back story here, but you’ll just have to take my word on the above. I saw the writing on the wall, and worked with HR (who was sympathetic, but also felt that their hands were tied b/c manager wanted me gone and dept. head believed her; HR believed me) to resign with enough notice to give me time to get a serious job search underway.

      I remained professional and cordial throughout my notice period, but I fantasized about all sorts of things I wanted to do or say to the lying manager on my last day. For the Game of Thrones fans: I shared an office with the manager and I so badly wanted to turn to her on my way out at the end of the day on my last day and just go “Shame, shame” at her (ala Cersei and the Shame Nun) and then shut the door and keep walking. I didn’t do it, but the running that scene in my head over and over again while working through my notice period was one of the few things that kept me sane.

      1. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

        Argh – that should have read “all examples she used were verbal or UNQUANTIFIABLE”

    19. literateliz*

      It’s been four years since I worked retail, but I STILL fantasize about flinging a bunch of folded denim onto the floor and screaming “I QUIT!!!!”

      I would never have actually done it because it would have been my poor coworkers who had to refold it and not the horrible manager I hated… but then again, if any of my coworkers had quit that way, I would have cheered them on (considering everydamnthing had to be refolded when we closed anyway).

    20. Girasol*

      There was one job I always wanted to just vanish from. My manager kept assigning me work he forgot he’d assigned to someone else. I’d get ripped up by whoever thought I was stomping on their territory, tell the boss, and he’d say, “She’s got it? Well, all right then.” Then he’d tell me to do my regular work (he never gave me any) and not speak to me for months before going through the whole exercise again. If I vanished my coworkers wouldn’t have said anything and my manager wouldn’t have noticed for ages. I wanted to be That Guy who everyone thinks is still employed so he gets paychecks for ages after leaving. It’s not very flamboyant as fantasies go but it woulda been great.

    21. JustaTech*

      I’m pretty sure one of my friends once quit via cake. Like, told his boss, went to a grocery store, bought a cake and dropped it in the break room. That place wasn’t just toxic but also super shady verging on illegal, so it wasn’t like he cared about bridges.

      I also had a professor once who accidentally quit via email. Prof was super pissed about something and send the whole department an email that ended with “I quit”. The department didn’t let the prof walk it back the next day.

      1. SOMA*

        So the professor was saying ‘I quit’ in a ‘Done dealing with this one particular situation’, not a ‘Leaving this job forever’, but the department forced it as an actual resignation? That seems a bit harsh.

      2. Susan*

        I seriously considered resigning from my last job by cake… I wanted to buy a cake that said, “Susan’s 2-week notice” and open the box at the morning meeting.

    22. Charlotte Collins*

      My dad once told me about somebody who won the lottery (1970s or early 80s). He hired a band to come in and play “Take this Job and Shove It.” I always thought that showed a certain flair. (This was in a skilled craftsman trade. They were an extremely creative group of people.)

    23. Tim*

      Everyone working at my location has a security badge they need to turn in if they leave, so any dramatic quitting usually involves flinging your badge at your boss and storming out. There’s a particularly terrible manager at one of the other companies we work with there, and it seems like the only way anybody quits is by throwing their badge at him.

    24. Rob Lowe can't read*

      I’m going to decline to share the details of most extreme example I know of, but suffice to say that for all the legitimate problems that existed with management in general and the management of the Quitter’s situation in particular, everyone IMMEDIATELY stopped thinking about management’s faults, because Quitter’s actions were so dramatic and so over the top. Furniture was destroyed, windows were broken, and a building was nearly set on fire. That’s not a good way to react.

      At my last job, a coworker was fired for something questionable he posted on his personal social media. (I don’t know the details, so I can’t opine on whether the firing was justified.) Boss called him in to discuss the incident/fire him. Once he realizes where the conversation is going he says, “You know what, f*** you and f*** this place,” slams her office door open, and proceeds to walk out the front door. (Heard about this secondhand from a coworker who was friends with Fired Guy outside of work.)

    25. Lissa*

      I like my job now but in the past, with retail/food service type jobs, I would fantasize about waiting until we got a particularly entitled customer and then, still in a super cheery voice, giving them “fuck you” answers. So somebody is getting really passive-aggressive and long-winded, I nod and smile sympathetically, then at the end say, “Hmm. I see your concern. However, the field of my fucks is barren, so bye now!” or just responding to some stupid “my sandwich didn’t have with tomatoes” with an over the top “OH MY GOD! Alert the authorities! We have somebody here who’s sandwich…only had THREE TOMATOES!” I know it’s all stupid and childish, but sometimes ..

    26. tink*

      When I was in college, a supervisor at my retail job accused me of trying to kill them in front of customers after I unknowingly offered them a slice of a food they’d said they enjoyed but that had something I didn’t know they were allergic to topping it. There were a lot of other issues with that supervisor, so looking back sometimes I wish I’d said something like “Since that didn’t happen, guess I’ll just see myself out” and then boogie out to the music our store ran on loop while giving them the double middle finger.

  14. 70K paycut?!*

    WWYD wise AAM’ers? I need help making a decision between two jobs. I’m keeping details uber vague to avoid outing myself but here’s the breakdown:

    Company A (new job)
    – Would require me taking a 70K (!) pay cut
    – Would require relocation to HCOL city
    – Is one of those jobs considered a “dream job” that I’ve always (thought) I wanted
    – Work is promised to be more meaningful and purposeful
    – Could be a great opportunity to have on my CV
    – Fed govt job under new administration with uncertainty as to direction of the agency (yikes!)
    – I still have student loans and, financially, this job would require major sacrifices
    – I’m single so I would have no secondary household income to rely on

    Company B (current job)
    – Pay is great
    – Love my current city (MCOL city)
    – Work isn’t terribly meaningful (to me)
    – Hours can sometimes be stressful
    – Private sector
    – Love my current lifestyle/able to save quite a bit

    With this very limited data – which option, on its face, sounds better? I’m at such an impasse…

    Or, anecdotally, has anyone out there took a job that required a major paycut? How did you navigate?

    1. Dawn*

      COMPANY B!!!

      This is a NO BRAINER. Do NOT take a 70K pay cut to move to a fed job (in, presumably, DC)!!!!!!! I live and work in DC, have a ton of friends in fed jobs, and if you want to “make a difference” do NOT get a fed job- work in the private sector or for a contractor instead.

      1. Dawn*

        Find something meaningful you can do in your free time to fulfil that aspect of your life. I absolutely PROMISE that a fed job, even in a sector you care about, will not give you the feelings of “meaningful-ness” that you’re seeking. Your time, money, and effort would be much better spent either volunteering, campaigning, or donating $$$ to charities that you do care about.

        1. AndersonDarling*

          Exactly what I was thinking. If you need more meaning in your “work” then write a blog or a book, or do training videos. Or find a new hobby like steampunk model trains.

          1. VintageLydia*

            Steampunk model trains sound amazing. Off topic but I’m gonna put that particular bug in my model train obsessed step-father’s ear…

        2. Pebbles*

          ^^^ THIS ^^^

          There are other ways to do something that’s meaningful to you, whatever that may be. And if you get to be feeling like your job is soul-sucking, you can still continue to look for a new position that won’t require so many sacrifices and still be paying off those loans in the meantime.

        3. 70K paycut?!*

          I’ve def stepped up my volunteering and have been trying to engage more with the community to fulfill some of these needs.

      2. Not a Real Giraffe*

        Agreed this is a no-brainer. It seems like the only thing pulling you towards A is the “dream” job aspect of it, which as we know from this site, is a false idea. A 70K cut is a massive, massive lifestyle change. A 70K cut changes your life enough that you may no longer get to do anything OTHER than your job.

        Take job B and find a contract or volunteer opportunity to meet the gap in finding meaning in your work. Plus you never know — you may find meaning in job B that you never expected to. That’s happened to me more than once before.

      3. MissDisplaced*

        Do NOT in no way take a 70k pay cut!!!!
        Money may not be everything, but jeez, that is too much to give up.
        Plus, “dream” jobs often turn out to be nightmares.

    2. AVP*

      B!! If you haven’t lived in a HCOL city before, this isn’t a good way to find out that you won’t be able to afford rent or the basics. Adding to it with the uncertainty in direction of the dept…sounds scary.

      1. 70K paycut?!*

        Hi AVP – I’ve actually lived in this exact HCOL city before while working for the feds (have also lived in even higher cost of living cities). I know, if accepted, this would require a radical lifestyle change wrt rent, basics, savings, etc.

      2. Biff*

        I lived in the HIGHEST COL city in the US.

        IT SUCKED. It’s not just rent. It’s everything. There is no cheap entertainment. Food costs trigger stress. You see yourself slowly slipping further and further behind your goals. Even cheap things cost more. The websites rarely adequately estimate how expensive it will really be. It’s just plain horribly stressful.

    3. NK*

      I would stay at B, no question. Alison has written about “dream” jobs before, I think they’re often not all they’re cracked up to be. If the job doesn’t turn out to be that awesome and you realize the work doesn’t feel as meaningful as you hoped, I think you’d have major regret about putting yourself in a more financially unstable situation.

      1. 70K paycut?!*

        Yep…ITA. That’s why I put “dream job” in quotes. It’s one of the jobs that I grew up thinking I might do and has been a professional goal of mine for years. Agency is like CIA, State Dept. or similar.

        1. paul*

          At the risk of politics, I’d run like hell from *anything* tied to foreign policy or diplomacy with a Trump administration in charge.

    4. fposte*

      I don’t think I could answer without knowing more about the relationship between pay and cost of living, eligibility for IBR or even PSLF, and what that pay cut takes you down to.

      It does sound, though, like there’s a ticking clock on your time at Company B–can you articulate what would make you leave it if not this, and what you’re staying for in the mean time? Like do you want to stay until your loans are X% paid or you have $X in your 401k? Because I think this might be a good time to think about when you’d look for Company C, too.

      1. 70K paycut?!*

        Hi fposte – this job would offer PSLF and I could go on a IBR plan (although, again, with uncertainties of new administration there’s no guarantee PSLF would still be in place for the 10 year forgiveness period).

        I’ve been with Company B for several years and my initial focus out of grad school was govt. It’s taken a looong time and 100s of applications to get this position. If I stayed with Company B my goal is to amass $XX in cash which I could use for emergency savings, investments, pay off some of the loans, etc. Right now I have about $30K in cash savings (but significantly more student loan debt)

        1. LadyKelvin*

          I still wouldn’t do it. If your student loans are forgiven after the 10 year period, you will have to pay taxes on the forgiven balance, all that year. And 70K is not pocket money. Try figuring out how much rent, etc would be in the new city, and how much your monthly income will be, then compare it to what you are doing now. I promise you, the job will never be fulling enough to make you feel like living paycheck to paycheck and not enjoying life will be worth it.

          1. Ella*

            There’s also the question of lost income. With PSLF, you still have to keep paying on your loans for the 10 years. If you add the amount you still pay, with the lower income that typically comes with PS jobs versus private sector, and also factor the uncertainty of this program perhaps being cancelled, it’s a big financial risk.

          2. The Rat-Catcher*

            I believe PSLF is exempt from the tax penalties of loan forgiveness. But that’s a minor point and I strongly agree with LadyKelvin to sit down and do that math.

          3. Anxa*

            PSLF is tax exempt.

            However, you have to be pretty confident that you’ll remain employed FULL TIME for 10 years. I know way too many people who studied to go into public service, only find part-time jobs in their field and never qualify. Or people who qualify only some years, then have to move, etc.

        2. Ella*

          I mean– if you’re seriously considering taking a 70K pay cut to do PSLF, why not keep your current job instead, and instead of forcing yourself into a pay cut, “cut” your income by 70K and save that money for your loans. If it turns out it’s too big of a cut, then since it’s your choice, you can just save less. But if you’ve moved and taken this new job, you’re stuck.

          1. Mononymous*

            Oh, this is good–stay at B, pretend you took the $70k paycut with regard to your lifestyle, and dedicate that money to paying off the loans ASAP. (Or even if not the full $70k, make it a big number for you. Big enough to be just this side of painful.) The loans will be gone before you know it, and then you can make different job choices in the future if you want to.

        3. NACSACJACK*

          I like your plan if you stay with Company B. Pay off your student debt, save enough money, then do what you want – wow you must get paid a lot right now. $70K would put me near poverty. But then this is the problem – you’re at the same cross roads I was – stay in a job I dont like just because I have student loans. Had I been smart about it (and had my parents been amendable to it) I would have lived at home, paid off my student loans, then taken a year off. Save enough to be financially able to do what you want even if you don’t get paid for it.

            1. Perse's Mom*

              Yeah, that would be the polar opposite of my current salary. Does that mean I would not be working for free but paying my employer for the opportunity to work for them?
              *dies a little inside*

    5. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Ok, so based on what you shared here, it seems super obvious that you should stay in your current job. The pay cut + the higher COL + the student debt + (and this is the big one, because money is just money and it sounds like you’re willing and able to trade money for meaning in your work) the uncertainty of the work in the context of a new administration = stay, no brainer.

      So, is there some other reason it’s attractive to you, that you haven’t shared here (or that we aren’t understanding from what you shared)?

      I took a substantial pay cut — about 40% — for the job I have now. It was incredibly worth it; my past job was a bad cultural fit and I was literally making myself sick with stress (and 50% work travel). Plus, I’m married, and my husband makes much more than I do, so the cut to our overall budget was closer to 15%, and we could afford it without too much adjustment.

    6. paul*

      Current job. Moving to DC or the surrounding area for a huge paycut when an agency doesn’t know what’s going to happen under a new administration? Hell no.

    7. Susan*

      Company B. For me, the stress of taking a pay cut and moving to a HCOL city would outweigh any benefits of meaningful and purposeful work (that may not be as meaningful or purposeful in reality as they are in the dream).

      At the same time, though, is Company A the only way to get that meaning and purpose in your work that you desire? Is there a compromise where you could find a more meaningful job that doesn’t require such an enormous pay cut?

    8. Emmie*

      Are there other benefits too? For instance, some loans allow for loan forgiveness after a period of time working in a federal job. You may also get into an income contingent repayment plan if your loans allow it. Will that offset some of your financial concerns? I don’t think it will, but it might. I wonder what percentage pay cut that would be. If you’re talking a 50% pay cut, that’s a lot. But, if it’s a 10% pay cut, that’s not so bad. Are there other intangibles to think of? Like, does the lower paying job offer more time off, lesser hours, life in a better climate (hello palm trees!), more post-employer career opportunities, or other quality of life enhancements? Ultimately, this comes down to what you value, what makes sense to your future goals, and whether the financial constraints are do-able for you. Good luck!

      1. 70K paycut?!*

        Hi Emmie – yep IBR and PSLF would be in play. Pay cut is more than 50% (!!) but lower paying job would offer more time off, a more flexible schedule and good exit opportunities to return to the private sector. Climate is a bit of a wash.

        1. Emmie*

          Getting an opportunity to work in a position you’ve always dreamed of, or held in high esteem is super exciting. It’s like the beer googles of job offers! Think with your excitement,but also with your logic and facts. It’s tough when decisions both have solid pros and solid cons. I am confident that you’ll make a great decision!

        2. MissGirl*

          What’s the worst that could happen if you take the new job? My practical side says stay, but you’re young and unencumbered. If there are good exit opportunities and you could easily get back to where you are then maybe take it. What’s being young for, if not taking risks?

          Are you paying on the student loans to keep them from accumulating? That’s big mistake people make; they let the interest accrue until the loan is unmanageable.

      2. H.C.*

        It depends on the type & size of the loan

        But for qualified student loans, if you are employed in government/nonprofit sectors and made 10 years’ worth of payments to your loans – the remainder of the balance is forgiven; furthermore, the forgiven amount is not considered taxable. More info on that here

        However, I presume the commenter doesn’t have such a gianormous student loan burden that would be worth $70k cut now (let alone the mid-six figures if spread out over 10 years)

        1. NACSACJACK*

          I did a calc with the above using both a low income and high income. The Lower Income still had to pay more than the original loan amount and the forgiveness was still like more than 50% of the original loan. The high income had no forgiveness no matter the size of the loan.

    9. Jubilance*

      There’s no way I’d ever entertain a $70k paycut – essentially I’d make less than when I started my career and was entry-level. And in a high cost of living area on top of it? Nope nope nope.

      1. H.C.*

        I’m also semi-amused at the thought that, a few years ago, a $70k paycut would’ve meant I’d be paying my employer to work there…

      2. Liz*

        The only way I would take a 70k paycut is if it would literally save my life. If I were working at such a crazed pace at my current job and my doctor said, “If you stay on this path, it may kill you,” I’d do it.

        That is the only circumstance I could think of that would justify (for me) such a drastic shift.

    10. Ella*

      Um, company B. It sounds like everything is great except for your job, but I don’t see you saying that your job is really bad, it’s just not your “dream job.” What happens if you do company B, and it’s not actually as great as you think it was? Relocating is really expensive, and with a HCOL city it will be even worse. Find something fun to do outside of work.

      I’ve taken a pay cut before (17%) to get out of a job I hated, which was worth it for me. But it took about 5 years to remake what I was making before, and I had to live frugally (this was even moving from a HCOL to a LCOL city). So tread wisely.

      1. Overeducated*

        I actually did move for a supposed dream job a few months ago, and the job has really really not turned out to be what I had hoped. I was not in a well paid job before so my choice was very different, but…bureaucracy is a bigger barrier to job satisfaction than you might expect. That’s all I have to say about that.

    11. Trout 'Waver*

      The new administration (assuming you’re in the USA) and their political allies are focused on cutting government spending and programs. The general consensus is that it really sucks to be the newest guy at a job that has budget cuts. You’re usually the first one out.

      Those two things would make me very wary of taking a federal job right now.

    12. KellyK*

      Unfortunately, taking a huge pay cut, with a higher cost of living, to take a job that’s so very uncertain has the potential to be completely disastrous. That doesn’t necessarily mean “don’t do it,” because doing something meaningful can be worth a lot. But it does mean you’ll need to carefully consider how you’ll handle it if things don’t go well. Do you have friends or family in the new city? Do you have enough savings to cover all the moving expenses? How hard is it to get jobs like your current one, if you decide later that it isn’t worth it?

      It sounds like the main motivator for you is doing something worthwhile and meaningful. If the agency’s direction changes drastically in January, or you’re prevented from doing the work you want to do because of leadership changes, how will you handle that? Will that make all the sacrifices you’ve made to take this job feel wasted?

      It’s also hard tell what your stress level will be like in this job compared to the old one. If the hours are more reasonable, that could help, but a lot of the other things you mentioned are major stressors (the money, the upcoming shake-up, etc.). There tends to be a lot more job security for government employees, but that doesn’t take effect immediately (and might not be worth it if the job adds to your stress levels).

      The only solid advice I have is that choosing to stick with the higher-paying job doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your ability to do something that feels meaningful to you. If you end up staying, maybe look at your less meaningful job as something that funds the things that are really important to you—which could include donating to non-profits in the same field as the government agency. It might also include volunteering, if your schedule allows it.

    13. Jessesgirl72*

      There is a job related question on Dear Abby today, and the OP referred to a potential job as her dream job. A commenter gave what I thought was really good advice- forget the idea of a dream job. Anything can look like a dream if you’re unhappy in your current one, and you never really know if you’re going to like something until you do it.

      Except that an unstable government job that required me to take a $70K pay cut (In DC? Seriously) would not, in any way, be a dream job.

      I definitely am in agreement with those who think you should find meaning and purpose in activities outside of work, if your work doesn’t provide them.

    14. Sled Dog Mama*

      As someone who is finishing their last day as contractor at a federal facility, You have no idea how different the government is from private sector. Do NOT take the job. It will not be as meaningful as you think

      1. 70K paycut?!*

        I’ve previously worked for the feds (before private sector) so understand the realities (good and bad) of gov’t life…

        1. Ella*

          It sounds like you’re really sold on company A, though it may not make sense to the rest of us. If that’s the case, go for it! But try to save as much as you can before the move, and also try to keep your contacts active in your previous profession, in case company B isn’t what you envisioned. Perhaps also try to do things like take on a roommate, or even better, live with a friend for a bit while you suss out if this is something that will work for you.

    15. AshK434*

      Company B for sure! I realize our priorities are different but this seems like no competition. I know doing meaningful work is important to some people, but unless the work you’re currently doing is completely unethical or morally shady, then I don’t see how taking a $70K paycut could be worth it. AND the new job’s direction is at the mercy of the new administration? Um, no thanks (apologies if that’s too political).

    16. MC*

      OH MY GOD – do not take a 70K pay cut. Are you insane? Volunteer, foster a puppy, donate time & money to be more meaningful. That is some serious bank to toss away and there is no guarantee that you will actually get benefit. There is no guarantee that this job will be there long term and no guarantee that you will like it. Work is not life, but work makes life possible.

    17. NoMoreMrFixit*

      I’ll second what the other posters have said. Dream jobs sometimes are anything but. Having spent bulk of my career in government jobs I found they tend to become soul sucking pits of apathy and lowest common denominators. Go with option B. The better pay will enable you to maintain a happier lifestyle and volunteering will give you the opportunities for making a difference.

      FWIW I found the gov’t jobs so life draining I’m now changing careers completely and will be looking exclusively at the private sector when I finish school in the spring.

    18. Ann Cognito*

      I took a 30K cut a few years ago, but it was for a much shorter commute (10 mins vs. 1 hour), more vacation time and a lot of flexibility. It was well worth it, and we barely felt the cut. But 70K – never, ever could I imagine taking a cut like that, even if I was in a toxic environment, which it sounds like you’re not at all. That much of a pay difference would make the “dream job” not a dream job for me!

    19. Jules*

      Don’t take a huge pay cut for a dream job. IF the job turns out less than what you dream, you just lost your ‘dream’ and your pay.

    20. Golden Lioness*

      I took an 80K paycut about 6 months ago….
      Let me tell you, I do not regret my decision, but it has been very challenging. There are some differences in my situation. I was working as a very highly paid contractor in oil and gas and with the downturn the contract leads were drying out. I was tired of the roller coaster and constant job- searching. I was also stressed by the high pressure and long hours. I did not need to relocate. I am also single with no kids (that actually helps a lot).

      After my last contract was coming to an end I applied to a job in a non-profit in healthcare. I was expecting and fully prepared to make less, and this job was wonderful from the beginning… I was not prepared for the low offer when I got it, but I was committed to get out of oil and gas.

      I love the place, love the work, love my boss and my co-workers! I did not have to relocate, but I had to refinance my house and rent a spare room in my house to absorb some of the hit. I am able to pay my bills and save a bit for modest vacations, but the cut has been a huge adjustment. I am much happier and less stressed to the point that my friends have all commented on it, but every time something breaks in the house or the car I really miss being able to “just pay it”… now I have to budget. I am no longer able to buy drinks or meals for my friends (loved doing that!) I am no longer able to buy expensive clothes or shoes, and I love that I go home at a decent time.

      Think carefully and go with your heart and do what you really want to do. There are no wrong answers here, either way you’d have a job. You can always change jobs or move cities later on if you decide to go for it and it doesn’t work out.

      Best of luck!

    21. Marisol*

      Here’s a way to gain some emotional clarity. Usually this is done face-to-face but maybe it will still work online. You’ll have to dialogue with me for best results though.

      So far you seem split down the middle, so I’ll do a coin flip to decide for you. I’ve got a penny in my hand that I’m looking at. If it lands on heads, you’ll go to company A. If it lands on B, you’ll stay with company B.

      Ok, I flipped. Are you ready to hear what the results are??

      Ideally you are still reading comments and can respond…

      1. Marisol*

        Ok, you didn’t respond, but the way this works is, I say to you, here’s what the result of the coin toss is, but before I tell you, I ask, “what do you hope it is?” and your answer is the clue to what you really want. This is something I learned from a highly regarded life coach named Michael Neill. Not sure if it translates in this forum, you might have to hear it in person.

    22. Girasol*

      Take it as proof that dream jobs are out there and wait for the one that gives you a $70K pay increase.

    23. Christy*

      So, I work for the government (have for 8.5 years) and I really do find my job meaningful. I love my job and I’m also confident I could get a $70k pay increase if I went to the private sector.

      It’s worth it for me to stay. I feel stable (even if the new administration feels anything but stable.) I’ll get a pension.

      I don’t know that I’d join the federal government right now, though.

        1. Ella*

          Yea. My bro is with HHS, and he said the climate was pretty bad right, with people worried about the new administration.

      1. Christy*

        It also depends on what the job is, what grade you’d be coming in under, and where you’d top out. Are you being hired under a 7/9/11 ladder? That would mean that in 2 years, you’d likely be earning $20,000 more (than what you started with) after two years. Maybe that’s tolerable for you.

        Is it a position that tops out at a GS-9? (Say, as a park ranger?) Then maybe don’t take the job, because you’ll never get back up to a high salary.

      2. 70K paycut?!*

        This is helpful! I appreciate everyone taking the time out to provide thoughtful comments! I have a lot to chew on and one of the reasons why I love this community.

        GS-9 with options to advance, agency is in national security arena

        1. Sophia in the DMV (DC-MD-VA)*

          My husband works in national security related agency and he says people even there are worrying about the new administration

    24. sniffles*

      I would just like to work in a job where I could contemplate a $7oK paycut…right now that’s almost double what I am being paid….

      1. Golden Lioness*

        Well, I am making about 45% of what I was before… so it happens. Sam job, different industry.

    25. Hester*

      I’ve done it and am glad I did it.

      I am a lawyer working for a federal agency. Many, if not most of my peers, came from large law firms, so we generally took paycuts of at least that much, and in my boss’s case, many many multiples of that. I think that is was worth it for all but a tiny percentage of people(that is, I have never met anyone who expressed regrets, but have to believe they are out there).

      I think you have to talk to someone inside about the agency’s history of hiring and RIFs, get a sense of day to day life to make sure you will enjoy it after private sector work (even keeping in mind you’ve done it before — certain govt issues can chafe the longer you’ve been in the private sector), and figure out whether/how you can transfer out if needed. In my industry, most of us are not lifers, and we recognize that we can make the money back over time, particularly because of the skills we acquire. But the job is meaningful (and fun!) and most people are thrilled to do it, despite the salary cut. It just becomes harder to leave that money on the table when the kids need braces, so people transition out.

    26. Chaordic One*

      It sounds like you’ve gotten yourself into a “cash cow” situation. If I were you, I’d milk it!

      You should continue to save quite a bit for your future, and if you want to do something meaningful seriously consider donating some of your time to a good charity or charities. And donate some money, too. There are a lot of worthwhile causes that could always use some financial support.

    27. NoTurnover*

      A few months ago, I took a 55k pay cut to work my dream job at an organization that is struggling to survive. I don’t regret it at all. But I still don’t think you should do this.

      How I think this is different:
      1. I was already working at this organization one day a week, so I had a very clear idea of what was required and what it would be like day to day. I had tested over and over again whether the “dream” was really a dream. (And the first three months have still been hella hard.)
      2. Since it’s a tiny place, I have a lot more influence on whether the organization survives. It’s a huge risk, but the risk is at least in the hands of myself and people I’m working with, rather than people who are making nationwide decisions. My job, as poorly paid as it is, can’t just disappear tomorrow based on the decisions of someone else.
      3. I don’t know your financial situation, but I had prepared for this cut for several years, saving up several hundred thousand dollars as a safety net for retirement and making some changes that reduced our cost of living.

      Good luck in your choice! I know how hard it is when your heart is pulling you in a direction that most people don’t consider practical.

  15. rosenstock*

    i successfully quit my job last week, and my last day here is the 15th!
    my boss is really angry/emotional in general but the conversation went surprisingly well.
    new job at bigger/better law firm starts on the 19th.
    thanks so much to AAM for helping me through this process!

    1. Alice Ulf*

      Good for you!
      I remember you posting that you were nervous about that conversation, so I’m glad it went well. :3

  16. E*

    I’m a junior in college who’s applying for internships for next summer. In interviews, is there a way to delicately ask how likely it is that they’ll give out full-time offers to interns at the conclusion of the summer (assuming high-quality performance)? This would be an important factor in choosing where to work, but I don’t want to come across as presumptuous.

    1. me again*

      You could ask about it historically… What % of your interns have become full time employees?

      I wouldn’t use that as a way to determine if the internship is valuable though. You could work the internship, get an offer but decide that you hated the company. Or they could be using this as a trial run and decide that it isn’t a good fit…
      Look at the overall experience you will have for the internship and see it as a stepping stone to bigger and better things regardless of whether or not it is with the same employer.

    2. J*

      I don’t think it’s presumptuous to be upfront with your question. They know (or, at least, they should) that this is something that a soon-to-be-grad is going to be thinking about. No one should be shocked by the question.

    3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      You don’t need to be delicate about it. You can ask this straightforwardly in interviews: “Do you often hire successful interns on as full-time staff?” (You could follow it up — after they answer — with more details, like “This really is the kind of work I’d like to be doing, and if it ends up being a good fit I’d love to have the opportunity to stay.”)

      1. Michele*

        Exactly, it isn’t presumptuous. It is reasonable. One of the hardest things for me to learn was that I had to ask for what I wanted at work. You can’t wait for it to be offered.

    4. Shawna*

      Sure! This is a reasonable thing to ask. You could be direct about it in the interview, and just say, “Have previous interns gone on to pursue full time roles at your company?” or “Is the intern program used as a pipeline for new hires?”

    5. mskyle*

      I know at my company we’re very forthcoming about this – when we interview co-ops (similar to interns), we actively point out our employees who are former co-ops and even have them on the interview team when appropriate.

  17. Sherm*

    So, I know the sentiment is strong in these parts that office gifts should not flow upward, *but* I have a really awesome boss! She’s kind, supportive, and a great teacher. We have similar outlooks and senses of humor and make each other laugh all the time. I could easily imagine her as a friend had life introduced us in a non-work setting. Also: She has had a grueling year, both professionally and personally. (Her son had a complete psychotic breakdown right before she was to leave on her single vacation of the year. That’s just one example.) Last December, I gave her a card, and she gave me a ~$15 gift. Would a gift from me be OK this time around?

    1. Sigrid*

      Honestly, I think a card in which you write exactly why you love working with her, and why you think she is a great boss, would mean more to her. I’m of the opinion that that kind of communication means more than just another “thing” that you hand over. Give specific details! Hand write it! Then if she’s the type of person to do so, she can look at it whenever she needs a boost.

      1. Michele*

        This. That would be so touching and mean much more than an impersonal card. It can be darn hard to tell people how we feel, though.

      2. Nerfmobile*

        Yes, card with a thoughtfully written note. Earlier this year I was transferred from one manager to another. I hated leaving my old manager – she hired me into the company and I reported to her for 5 years (a rarity in my company), and she was really awesome as a manager. So I picked up a very simple flower arrangement at the grocery store (seriously $10), and bought a fancy card in which I wrote a long note about how I’d enjoyed working for her. 9 months later she still has that card tacked up in a very visible place on her cubicle wall (which she doesn’t do often). I know she really appreciated it, probably much more so than the same amount on a bottle or wine or whatever.

    2. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      I have no problem with gifting upwards if you are doing it because you truly want to and not because you feel pressured

      1. Chriama*

        Yup. And if you have any other coworkers, don’ t let them know you’re doing it, and try to hint to your boss that this should be kept quiet. You don’t want her bragging about your gift within earshot of another coworker who now feels awkward about not having gotten you anything.

    3. Doe-eyed*

      For managers I like I do small thoughtful gifts. My hometown has a world famous bakery so I make a trip there and bring back little goodies that I know they’d enjoy.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Please don’t. It’s likely to make her uncomfortable.

      Write her a personal note telling her how much you appreciate her as a boss; that will mean far, far more to her than any gift.

      1. MsCHX*

        My friend manages a staff of 20 ish people and they buy her gifts all the time – Boss’ Day, Christmas, Birthday. She does NOT feel weird about it. lol. Should she??

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes. Some of them are almost certainly doing because they feel obligated to (because they see others doing it), and there’s a power dynamic that makes it icky. People shouldn’t feel obligated to purchase gifts for someone with power over their livelihood, and managers should never benefit from the power dynamic in that way.

          And she absolutely should put a stop to the Boss’s Day nonsense.

        2. The Rat-Catcher*

          My supervisor gets gifts for all the above-mentioned holidays. She never expresses discomfort to us, but I am reasonably certain based on an interaction last week that she feels it. I have the whole set of Harry Potter DVDs just laying around my house that I am looking to give away. (I now have the whole set on Blu-Ray and got it on Black Friday for next to nothing – also my DVDs have been used a LOT so I would feel sort of guilty selling them.) My supervisor expressed an interest in having them to give to her daughter, but she insists on paying for them. From that, I gathered that she probably doesn’t really like getting gifts from us, but feels like she would come across rude/ungrateful if she said so.
          (I opted out of Christmas for her this year due to budget issues.)

      2. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

        Baked goods are ok though right? Like a little baggie filled with cookies and candy and a lotto ticket

    5. Sophie Winston*

      Think long and hard about it. I have a great employee, and I know they really appreciate the effort I’ve put into both training and general career development this year. Rationally, I know that if they gave me a gift (which I’ve said they shouldn’t and hope they don’t) it would be coming from gratitude rather than obligation, the theoretical “right place.” It would still make me very uncomfortable, especially if it was anything more than the most token of token gifts.

      A note expressing that, despite her personal challenges, she’s been a great boss this year by doing x, y and z would almost certainly be more appreciated.

    6. Jules the First*

      Pitching in to say that a note telling her pretty much what you’ve said here is the nicest gift you can give your boss. Having just left a job, I can say that the leaving gifts and drinks and everything were lovely, but the thing I will remember most is the heartfelt note from one of the juniors on my team (well, that and the unexpected message from a colleague I thought hated my guts, acknowledging that I’d really raised his game and that he’d miss having me around).

    7. AliceBD*

      I would stick with a card saying you think she’s great.

      I do give my boss a gift, but that is because I make break-and-bake cookies and give 2 each (in a little baggie with their name on it) to everyone in my extended department, so it would look really odd to not give her something and would make me uncomfortable to single her out like that. People in my department regularly bring baked goods to share with everyone, so this is just a slightly more personalized version for Christmas.

  18. AnitaJ*

    Advice for a new manager?

    I have one supervisee this year and I’d like to get her a small holiday gift. Target gift card? (That’s what my manager has always gotten me and I find it a nice gesture) Regular gift card? What amount would be appropriate? $30?

    Thanks for any input! She’s great, and I want to give her something tangible in addition to the feedback and guidance I try and give her on a daily basis.

    1. Emmie*

      Your ideas are excellent. A nice card telling an employee s/he does a great job goes a very long way. I’ve varied my gifts recently: organic dog biscuits for a person who was dieting and loved their dogs; cookie delivery; Harry and David delivery; gift certificate to favorite lunch or coffee spot. But, always looking for new ideas.

    2. Emmie*

      Oh, I’ve done $30. It’s out of my own pocket and not reimbursed. Once I get more employees, I’m not gonna be able to spend that much!

      1. AnitaJ*

        I like the dog treat idea! I’ll definitely use that. I don’t get reimbursed either, so it’s all out of pocket for me, but I think worth it.

    3. Sibley*

      I’ve gotten a card w/ $10-15 gift card to some place in the past. Starbucks, visa card, etc. Target is a good idea because you can get so much there. I don’t drink coffee, don’t like Starbucks teas, etc so that one is tough.

    4. Phoebe*

      Why not write her a nice note about what a wonderful manager she is and how much that means to you instead? It would likely mean a lot more to her than any gift card.

    5. BRR*

      If you know for sure she would use a gift card to Target or Amazon I think that’s nice (if not I would do cash). If $30 isn’t too hard on your wallet that’s a generous amount. Anything more and it starts to feel like a lot to me.

    6. MWKate*

      This was hard for me when I became a new manager – as I had previously been the peer of both people I was now supervising. I did a gift card to some place I knew both of them liked, and a small trinket that I knew they would like personally but was also related to work and our specific jobs. (We work in international teapot processing and I got them each a little snow globe for their desk with an international landmark.)

    7. FrequentLurker*

      I’m also here hoping for gift ideas for a supervisee – in this case, my assistant.
      He only became my assistant two months ago so I don’t know his personal preferences as well as someone I’d worked with longer, and I always struggle with choosing gifts for males who I don’t know intimately.

      He’s early-20s, has just recently become a dad, and I know money is a bit tight, so I wanted to give him something that is just for him and that maybe he wouldn’t use family funds to buy for himself.
      I am alternatively considering a Visa gift card, because although I’d like for it to be a personal gift, when things are tight, money that can be used anywhere can help with stress even more than a present, but I feel weird about giving what equates to cash at work.

      Further complicating matters, my personal budget for Christmas is tight also, due to recent family issues, so I don’t have a lot to spend and when the amount is right there on the gift card, that might look stingy.

      Can anyone help?

      1. Emmie*

        Your ideas are excellent. What are you doing for others? I wouldn’t want to treat him differently (i.e. The others get cookies but he gets a gift card). If you’re still stuck:
        – Lunch gift certificate
        – Some yummy cookies, special coffee, or his favorite snacks
        – Something for the baby (defeats the gift just for him, but is still thoughtful)
        – Public transit card
        – Something indulgent like a subscription to a magazine in his interest area (airline miles can be used for this, but you may not know him well).
        – Small gift card to lunch spot and say “have lunch on me”. You could even do that on his Visa gift card, which might make you feel comfortable giving a smaller amount. He can use it for whatever!

  19. Tomato Frog*

    Mild irritation of the day:

    I wrote a blog post for my work place which got a fair amount of traction (yay), and today I see I got a message on Facebook from someone I don’t know regarding it. My Facebook is personal use only and not connected to the blog post. I open the message, fixing to redirect the person to the appropriate channels for any questions they have. But the sum of the message is “Did you write [blog post]??”

    I showed it to a coworker and she suggested replying “Who wants to know?” Which is really how I’m feeling.

    PSA: if you contact strangers about stuff, tell them why you’re contacting them about stuff. Also maybe make contact through the avenues indicated on the website you’re coming from.

    1. Sadsack*

      I would ignore it. They’ll catch on and try again through the blog site if you have a means of contact there. Writing back to the person through FB may just be inviting trouble, no matter what you write. If you don’t want to be contacted by strangers there, then do not respond to them there.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          And since you don’t want contacted by strangers, adjust your privacy settings so that strangers can’t message you.

          1. Tomato Frog*

            I don’t mind being contacted by strangers, per se. Usually they tell me who they are and why they’re contacting me — but it doesn’t come up that much.

  20. Doe-eyed*

    How do you deal with an incompetent manager that no one will say anything to? She’s blundering her way through managing our admin staff and anytime it’s brought up to anyone in a position to do something about it we get a talking to about how “they’re not going to fire her!”

    We don’t WANT them to fire her, we want someone that’s got some teeth to pull her back from going crazy about things that don’t matter.

    1. fposte*

      You either talk to her boss, if it’s egregious enough to hurt the business/organization, or you accept she’s going to be like this and decide if you can live with it. But odds are that if this was something the business cared enough about to change it would have been changed already.

      1. Doe-eyed*

        So I’ve talked to her boss (who is consequently also one of my bosses). We’re an goverment academic center so doing anything to anyone is almost impossible, which I understand, but I think if someone were to guide her she could do a better job. She’s just driving everyone crazy.

        The most recent debacle was holiday coverage. She started asking us about it the Friday before Thanksgiving and then got annoyed that we hadn’t told her when we were taking vacation. (Note: Prior to this, our manager told us to make sure we had everything covered, alert the people we worked directly with and then take whatever time we wanted). So we didn’t report it because we’d never been expected to. Now she’s running around the office setting up spreadsheets for coverage, but not really understanding that most of us can’t cover the rest of us. The admin for Spout Design knows nothing about the Handle Development department and so you can’t just swap them out. We’ve had at least six separate meetings about “what we do” (both in groups and individually), and she’s done our reviews, but she just can’t seem to grasp that it’s not like a factory floor that you can swap people in and out of.

        1. fposte*

          If you’ve talked to her boss, and her boss has managed to stave it all off with blather about the difficulty of firing people rather than simply managing her employee, then what you have is what you’re going to get.

          1. Doe-eyed*

            That’s pretty much what I’m afraid of. I don’t know a nice way to tell them they’re going to lose a lot of admin staff over the continual drama and micromanaging without sounding petulant.

            1. Jules the First*

              Can you pick a couple of concrete things that you would like her boss to do? If so, I’d take one more pass at her boss and say something along the lines of “I know you’re committed to having Lucinda in charge of the admin team and I think she has the potential to be a really good manager, but I’m concerned that she’s having trouble getting her head around everything the team does – and that’s a mammoth task in itself – which gives her a tendency to micromanage. I think it would be really great for the team’s morale if you could help Lucinda relax a bit, and that it would really improve communication.”

              If Lucinda’s boss is not particularly involved in her day to day work, it may not be apparent exactly what is going wrong, and if all they’re getting is vague complaints about how ‘Lucinda sucks – our old manager was way nicer’, that doesn’t really give them much to work on and it’s easier (not right, but easier) to just say ‘suck it up because we are not firing Lucinda’.

          1. Doe-eyed*

            Fair point! I was trying to think of something that had more interchangeable pieces but I realize that’s not a great analogy either. Actually, my difficulty in thinking of jobs that you can do that in that aren’t entry level retail type positions is making me wonder why she thinks it’s a good idea.

  21. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I started my new job on Monday, and… it’s great so far. I am refraining from saying “I love it” because I am so damn risk-averse, but so far I am so happy I found this position and that they liked me. The people are great (and many of them have been here for over 10 years, which is a giant plus in my book, especially for a small company), my boss has a very clear outline of his expectations for me and my goals, and the office environment is exactly what I like. I realized by Tuesday afternoon that they hired me knowing I knew next to nothing about this side of the business (I worked in teapots for over 10 years, now I’m in coffee pots– still hot beverages, just a different type and a different type of drinker), and that’s ok because they want to guide my learning. Huge relief. I also found out this week that the benefits are better than I expected because our founder believes in treating people fairly and well. We had the company holiday party last night and it was so fun– SOs were invited (new for me!), we got presents (even the SOs!), and people genuinely wanted to get to know us. Plus, no pressure to get super wasted and crazy like at my last gig. We left at 10:30 and were among the last to go home.

    I also discovered– and I don’t know how I didn’t quite realize this– that I’m considered part of the senior staff here. My last position felt like a big step back, but now I feel like I’m back on the right track. Senior staff goes out to lunch together almost every day, which puts a big wrench in my diet plans, but I think that’s a sacrifice I can make.

    Most importantly, though, I feel so lucky that my severance from my last job allowed me to really take a break, recover from the burnout and stress, and figure out what was best for me. When I first left my job back in August, I was so determined to get a new one that I talked to all the hot new agencies in town– I am so, so happy that I didn’t get hired there because I would have been miserable for the same reasons I was miserable at the last place. A big thanks to everyone for commiserating with me over these past four months and for being so encouraging! 2016 kinda sucked, but it feels like December might make up for most of it.

    1. Sibley*


      Re the diet and eating out – you can find something healthy at restaurants, it just takes more work. Do the prep work to figure out what they have that you like and meets your needs, it’ll be worth it. Also, it’s 1000% ok to only eat half of what you’re given. Ask for a doggy bag upfront and bag up whatever you’ll take home for later (or give away- I work downtown in a big city, and there’s always homeless people around, so I’ve given away food plenty of times.)

    2. FrequentLurker*

      Congratulations! You sound like you’re walking on air! Isn’t it amazing how much difference a supportive workplace makes? I’m very happy for you.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Congratulations! You sound so very happy, I am excited for you. Here’s to 2017! cheers!

  22. RadioGirl*

    My company has traditionally not used standard mileage reimbursement rates. For example, we usually get about 24-30 cents per miles, except when gas price decline, then the rate declines, too. It’s been as low as 15 cents per mile.

    Is this normal?

    1. Dawn*

      No, most places just use the IRS recommendation for reimbursing mileage as far as I know. Much easier that way.

    2. agree*

      Yes. The “standard” rate is usually what the Feds say is the maximum you can claim for deductions on your tax return and is an estimation of all costs of using your car (gas, maintenance, depreciation. At 24-30 cents you’re getting reimbursed for gas and a little extra.

    3. Trout 'Waver*

      It’s super common in academia, in my experience.

      If your personal cost per mile is actually higher, I think you can deduct the extra on your taxes. Maybe someone with more experience can chime in.

      1. Natalie*

        You can, although of course that only helps if you have enough deductions to exceed the standard one, which many people don’t.

    4. Pwyll*

      I’ve also heard of this. I think it’s a bad business practice, but it’s not necessarily abnormal.

    5. CDM*

      My current employer is similar, and I’ve done some research.

      It may not be “normal”, but it’s legal and it doesn’t appear to be uncommon. Basically, no business is required to pay business mileage reimbursements to employees. Many businesses do reimburse per the IRS guidelines on what business mileage is tax-deductible to the employee if it is not reimbursed. (Yay! You get to subsidize your employer’s business expenses with pre-tax dollars instead of post tax dollars!) Some employers don’t reimburse at all, my boss once had a sales job where he deducted over 30k unreimbursed business miles one year.

      Not only does my employer reimburse less than the IRS rate, but they also use an expense reporting website that deducts your commute mileage from all business trips that start or end at your home rather than your office, and uses Google maps to figure mileage based on the “fastest route”, rather than using your actual odometer mileage.

      So, when I drive from my home to the main office, which is fully deductible door-to-door per the IRS, I lose 28 miles for my commute distance, and another ten miles for taking a slightly longer but faster route that avoids a rush hour bottleneck, on top of being reimbursed at a lower rate.

      And for reasons that are none of my employer’s business, I do not itemize deductions. They save $35 every time I have to drive to the main office, and I eat the difference. Fortunately I do very little business driving.

    6. The Rat-Catcher*

      We get 37 cents for “standard” mileage (when there was no agency vehicle available) or 26 cents for “fleet” mileage (when we had an available vehicle and chose to drive). But we’re notoriously cheap.

  23. AnotherAnony*

    I applied for a position at a college and they checked my references BEFORE even scheduling an interview. Will they check them again at the end? If this something that I could ask them or not?

    1. kbeersosu*

      It is weird, but I’ve had it done to me before as a candidate. And it was also for a university position. I’ve found that some universities just have weird processes. For others, it’s because they want more objective (i.e. not directly from the candidate’s mouth) information before they get serious about a candidate. For some, it’s because they want to be able to move quickly once they get the interviews scheduled, so they do reference checks earlier to avoid that causing a delay when they do choose who they want to offer to.

      To your second question, I have had them do reference checks twice. So it’s possible they may call again…

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      Academic hiring is weird. If you want to work in it, this must become your mantra. Repeat it often during the job hunt, because it is so very true.

      Here’s how I would frame it if you want to ask, “Can you tell me a little bit more about the hiring process from this point out?”

      I wouldn’t ask specifically about the ref check, because I think if I was hiring, I would wonder why you asked and if there was some problem with your references. As for if they will check again, I doubt it. The only time I’ve checked references before an interview, we didn’t bother them a second time. We knew what we needed to know and we also didn’t want to be rude to them. After all, references are people, too.

    3. Buggy Crispino*

      I recently had a public school system check my references and I never once heard from them. They even called my current employer even though I had not checked the option for “can we contact your current job?” Somewhere along the way they chose to promote internally, so I was never contacted (not even one of the “we’ve received your application” type confirmations.) I do know someone else that works there and he confirmed to me a month or so later that my references were excellent and I had been moved to the “call to schedule interview” pile.

      But I did have to field questions from several of my references about that job. My current boss at the time was actually OK with it since we had already discussed my looking for work since a layoff was pending, but they could have really screwed up my current situation. It was kind of awkward to have them ask about the job that they thought I was in the final running for and I never even knew I was being considered.

    4. Anxa*

      I am actually amazed by the advice on this blog sometimes, because references before interview was the norm for my experiences, not the exception. It doesn’t make much sense to me because I feel like then you’re left with the question you have now…

      I would think they’d want to follow up on your interview.

    5. Frustrated Optimist*

      Not exactly the same, but twice now I have applied for a job at a community college. The first time, I was granted an interview, but then subsequently rejected. The second time (same institution, three months later), I was also granted an interview but asked to *supply transcripts* ahead of the interview. So I did. No telling yet whether or not I will be granted a second interview.

    6. Nye*

      That’s not unusual. When I applied for academic positions, they usually checked references before interviewing. It’s often how they get their longlist down to a shortlist to invite to an interview. (Not everyone phone screens before in-person interviews.) Academia can be weird.

      My guess is that they won’t check your given references again, though they may well reach out to other references. (Supervisors you didn’t list, any mutual connections, etc.)

      Good luck!

  24. Smiling*

    Just need to vent. Our small office planned a Christmas party (on a weekend) in a part of the city that I don’t go in, because I don’t feel it’s safe. The fact that I don’t go there is no secret and this was known years before the party was planned.

    I’m fine with this, this is the office’s party, not my personal thing. I’ve wished everyone a good time and politely said that I would not be attending.

    The problem is that everyone keeps coming to me trying to get me to go, offering to drive me, offering to drive my spouse. I’ve politely said no to several of them, but more people keep approaching me. I have explained to a few of them, more than once, that it’s not about how I get there, it’s being there in general.

    I only have the rest of the day to deal with this, but really hope that this stops now and does not continue until closing time.

    1. me again*

      I would say that you made other plans (even if that involves sitting on the couch eating takeout)…

    2. Central Perk Regular*

      You have my sympathies because this kind of stuff really aggravates me. I was in the same situation last week (except it was a friend’s party, not an office party). I think the key here is to be firm and be consistent – basically, the good old “broken record technique.”

      “Thank you, but I’ve already got plans for tonight. Have a great time!”
      “I appreciate the offer, but I’m going to sit this one out. Hope you have a nice time.”

      Friendly PSA to people who like to do this: If someone says they don’t want to go/can’t go to an event, just take them at their word and DROP IT.

      1. Smiling*

        Thank you, truly, for your sympathies. I just wanted to vent and felt I got slammed by some of these comments.

        Unfortunately, our group is so small (as in we all know each others’ business) that the “other plans” excuse may not have worked this time.

    3. Tuckerman*

      The only thing I’d caution is the way you’re explaining your decision. You may have co-workers who live in that are and disagree (or are insulted that you believe) it’s unsafe. Just politely decline, “I won’t be able to make it this year, but enjoy!”

      1. Hellanon*

        Yes, please. I ran my writer’s group for a year or so and had a potential new member tell me that she was worried about her new car, specifically driving it though my neighborhood. “You know, I’ve heard the bullets come up there from South Central,” were the exact words.

        To which my exact words were, “You know, I’m pretty sure we’re not the group for you. Thanks for calling, though.”

        1. AnonAcademic*

          Yeah, I have no idea what the OP’s reasons are, but the sentiment of “I don’t go to XYZ neighborhood because it’s too dangerous” is one I often see from people unfamiliar with said neighborhood whose sense of relative safety is more conservative than the average city dweller who is used to assuming some (small) risk anywhere in an urban environment. Occasionally “unsafe” is also code for “lower middle class, mostly immigrants or brown people.” All of these reasons make it challenging to take stated safety concerns totally at face value so I would suggest the OP not use that specific excuse.

    4. persimmon*

      I can see why your coworkers are reacting this way. Such a strong categorical fear of an “unsafe” neighborhood can be puzzling and even offensive to some. I think when you have a non-negotiable phobia like this, a little information can be TMI, better to just say you’re busy.

      1. Lissa*

        Yeah, I completely agree on this. It’s a bit more loaded than a phobia of spiders and they decide to have it at the bug museum. There’s almost no way to say you feel unsafe going there without causing potential hurt or offense in those who might live or work there.

      2. Smiling*

        The party is in a commercial (non-residential) section of town, very touristy. In recent years it’s had a rash of thefts, armed-robberies and murders with an occasional mass shooting thrown in. This is highly publicized in the news. Still it’s a very popular part of town to go to for it’s party style atmosphere.

        1. MillersSpring*

          We have a couple of areas like that in my large city. If my company planned a party in either area, I’d try to get a ride with a coworker, organize a car pool, ask if valet parking is available, or use a taxi or Uber. Eliminate the risk of parking your own car or walking to/from the venue by yourself.

    5. Anonymous poster*

      I agree with prior posters to say that one solution to your specific issue is have a prior commitment.

      To everyone else:

      I read this post as Smiling and husband being visibly members of a minority group and being invited to an event in a neighborhood that has a reputation for white power groups or a very wealthy neighborhood with a reputation for having security ‘move people who don’t belong along ‘. Unfortunately, both of these things are still real issues.


      If my read is correct, I hope you will consider being more blunt with specific examples. I think unfortunately quite a few nonracist ‘white’ people mistakenly blatant discrimination and racial violence is 99.9% a thing of the past.

      If my read is incorrect, please do some fact checking and introspection.

      1. Lissa*

        oh, that’s interesting! My read was totally different, but then I have only experienced people who say a certain place is not safe to mean the exact opposite thing as what you’ve suggested.

  25. Cath in Canada*

    My manager gave me a great present this year – a personalized online advent calendar! So now I start every day by sitting down at my desk to watch a new silly cat video, with my manager’s blessing. Highly recommended, especially because I have not one, not two, but three urgent deadlines next week, even though December grant deadlines really should be illegal.

    In return, I plan to send him a link to the upcoming Worst Bosses of 2016 post with a “thank you for being sane” note.

    1. fposte*

      Cath! I was going to post about you because it’s work-related for you–I just preordered your Introducing Epigenetics: A Graphic Guide. I was so excited to realize that was yours!

      1. Cath in Canada*

        OOH! Awesome! Thank you :D

        I’ll be going through the last of the illustrations this weekend – they look good so far! It’s so cool to see it all coming together. I especially enjoyed seeing the artist’s rendering of the one “character” in the book who I know in real life :)

  26. Weekend working*

    Working weekends- I recently applied for a job that listed “Availability and flexibility to work weekday evenings and weekends on a regular basis” under the qualification section. Anyone here have a job that requires the same? What should I consider? Is it manageable or too draining?

    1. J*

      I have had jobs that occasionally involved helping out at events on weekends and evenings. It has never been a chore, and those positions usually extended some flexibility during the week to “make up” for it. As in, being allowed to come in at noon on a day of my choosing the next week after working an event that went until midnight. It was only a handful of times a year, so it was manageable for me.

      The big question is what does “a regular basis” mean? Something like catering or anything wedding-related will likely require your time on most, if not all weekends. Other jobs might mean that you’re only working weekends seasonally or at some other interval?

      It’s definitely something to ask about in the interview!

    2. Phlox*

      It can be hard – I work in a job with a 6 month programmatic season where I’m working a lot of weekends/evenings. Its hard on my body to not have a consistent schedule and it really threw my social life out of whack, it’s been hard getting back on track from not being available much of the time. Keep an eye out for whether its consistent – is it a patchwork of random evenings or can you block Thursdays as work and plan for regular socializing on Wednesdays?

    3. kbeersosu*

      I would encourage you to try and get a really good understanding of what they mean by this. In the earliest part of my career I worked in a position that required a lot of this. Then I transitioned into a more traditional 9-5 job with only occasional nights/weekends (maybe 6 total/year). And then I relocated out of state to follow my husband last year and took a job that was advertised as occasional nights and weekends, which was a HUGE lie. I ended up working 2-3 late nights (sometimes until 11pm)/week and at least one Saturday/month. And it was awful. The big issue was that they underestimated how many nights and weekends I would need to work, and the kind of work was much more intensive and draining- i.e. the difference between floating at an event and having to run a committee meeting. After just three months I was looking for a new job because it was draining, because I could never feasibly find a way to only work 40 hours/week, and because it had a really negative impact on my home life. So as not to be all negative, the upside to this was that I did have flexibility in my schedule. So some days I wouldn’t come in until 2pm, which meant that I could run errands, clean the house, have lunch by myself, go grocery shopping when the store was quiet, etc. I do miss that. But not enough to go back to doing all those nights and weekends.

    4. LisaLee*

      This is how my current job works. I find it manageable, but that’s VERY dependent on how your company handles things and who you are. I also helps that I’ve almost always had weekend/night hours–I don’t feel the loss of a set schedule.

      At my job, I work a set number of hours. So I might get Tuesday off if I work Thursday and Friday nights, which is great. I love this arrangement. But I have a friend whose job gives her no comp time like that–she just has to work when she’s called, tough cookies–and she hates it.

      If you’re a person who needs a lot of winding down time at night, a set bedtime, or a full weekend to decompress, I’d reconsider.

    5. Susan*

      I think it depends a lot on what that means. For example, is it exempt or non-exempt? If it’s exempt, that could mean working extra hours on evenings and weekends without additional pay, and that would suck! If it’s non-exempt, that could mean overtime, or it could mean that some of your scheduled hours will be evenings and weekends. Would the evening and weekend hours be scheduled in advance, or would it be a situation where they’ll call you at the last minute if they need you?

      FWIW, I have a job with rotating shifts. I alternate a week of dayshift and a week of night shift, and I work different days from one week to the next. I actually like this schedule in some ways, because in weeks that I work nights and/or weekends, I have some weekdays off, so I can do things like make doctor’s appointments without using PTO. The rough part is switching between dayshift and night shift every week, which is very draining, but that probably doesn’t apply to this job (I’m assuming that “evenings” doesn’t mean overnight). This schedule also makes it difficult to have any outside hobbies, e.g., taking classes, because there is no day and time that I am available every week. I have noticed that people with children have more difficulty with an irregular schedule, both because of childcare issues and having to miss events because of work, so that may or may not be something you need to consider.

    6. BRR*

      It’s going to depend on the context of the position. Since they said regular basis that is very telling to me that it will be often. I’d want to know if there’s consistency in the schedule and do they expect you do that beyond M-F 9-5 or do you get comp time.

    7. Sunflower*

      This is something you’d definitely want to ask during an interview.

      I used to have to work some Sundays- I would say maybe 5-6 year? I have a friend who probably works 10 weekends a year. My friend works 2 weekends/month on average and isn’t happy. I will also say that all of our weekend work has been events and those are usually planned very much in advance. I was always aware at the beginning of the year what days I’d need to work which I think also makes a big difference.

    8. AliceBD*

      I think it would really depend on the type of job. I work every evening and every weekend because I do social media, so I’m working from home in my PJs, and unless there’s a crisis it’s not much time.

    9. Al Lo*

      I work in a) the arts, and b) a field dealing with kids. There are a lot of weekends and evenings, since our programming takes place mostly after school and when kids are available. For me, in a 40-hour/week job that’s a combination of office work and on-site work for performances and rehearsals, it works out well. My base schedule is 12-7-ish, and my Fridays are very flexible. Today I was in the office for 2 1/2 hours. Some weeks it’s a full 8-hour day. I work about 2 weekends/month — but sometimes that averages out to working every weekend between mid-September and the end of October and every weekend in August off as a normal weekend.

      My co-workers with small kids can find it challenging, and definitely need to have the right support system in place. For me, it’s great. I’m a night owl, and really dislike a regular schedule. I like the flexibility of my job and my days, and it never feels like shift work, since I’m not set to certain hours.

      YMMV, though. “Availability and flexibility” can mean a lot. We always put it in our job descriptions with a similar description to what I wrote above: Core hours are M-Th, Fridays are flexible, average of 2 weekends/month are required, but it may not be 2 weekends every month, some may be more, some less, and those dates are set ahead of time and you don’t get to pick or opt in/out of most of them.

  27. Batshua*

    Suggestions on how to deal with a toxic micromanager who is team lead but NOT your boss?

    Certain people haven’t been around lately and it has massively improved my physical and mental health, but I know eventually they will be back. I *am* looking for something else, but what do I do to keep my sanity while I’m still here?

    1. NoMoreMrFixit*

      I found that bombarding micromanagers with status updates helped keep them at bay. Yes they are hugely annoying but their need to be in control and informed overrides common sense. Keeping them informed feeds that and keeps them somewhat tamed.

      “delegating upwards” is a tactic I learned from a previous manager. Push decisions up to the micromanager whenever possible. Gives them the sense of power and control. And sometimes it results in them backing off and letting you do your job. Sometimes.

      Good luck

    2. MillersSpring*

      No advice except to adopt “This too shall pass” as your hourly mantra. I’ve been there, and it’s awful. Im so sorry.

      Here’s a HUGE F— You to each of the micromanaging condescending rude bosses I’ve had. Wish I could leave each one an anonymous scathing review on their LinkedIn.

  28. anon worker bee*

    How do you know when it’s actually time to move on or when you’re just annoyed by work in general?

    I like my job. Great pay, good benefits, nice people. But sometimes the slog of WORK just gets to me (like anyone, I’d assume) and I worry that I romanticize other opportunities that would have the same issues. I mean, I still have to commute, deal with annoying coworkers, deal with office politics, and occasionally question what I’m doing with my life no matter where I work, right?

    I feel a lot of pressure to move on because everyone I know seems to job-hop a lot more, and my industry is full of people who jump around every 2-3 years. But I don’t want to make this about what other people are doing. I guess I just wonder if other people feel this way and what questions I should ask myself to know if I’m annoyed with my actual job or just WORKING, in which case, how do I fix the latter?!

    1. Venus Supreme*

      What is it specifically about your job that you got excited about in the beginning? Do you get that terrible pit in your stomach when Sunday evening rolls around? I’d really explore what exactly is it about your job that you like and what exactly you want to see change.

      I combat the 40hr workweek slump with supplemental activities to look forward to. I started a mini anthropological project (long story, our building is historic and it’s being knocked down) on the side. I go to yoga twice a week and it gives me something to look forward to between Monday-Friday. Another coworker started exercising in her office. It sounds like you’re stuck in a routine and you need to change things up!

      It’s also good to understand that not every job has to be behind a desk. My boyfriend doesn’t have the typical office job and it works for him well!

      1. anon worker bee*

        No, I don’t really get that pit in my stomach on Sundays. I’m pretty happy to go to work for the most part. There isn’t a ton of room for growth, but I don’t know if I care about that.

        Now that I’m typing this out, I wonder if it really is just that I need to mix it up a bit with outside-of-work activities, since I don’t think it’s actually my job that’s the problem…

        Thanks for your thoughts!

        1. Venus Supreme*

          It sounds like you gotta change it up- and I’m totally with you on that! I just finished an 8-week improv class and it made me excited to go to work on Mondays. (also the winter months are also tough on me and I try to stay busy!)

          Maybe there’s a hockey team you want to join, or Gong meditation you’ve been itching to try, or you found there’s Bingo on Wednesday nights!

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      There are definitely people in toxic situations who have to get out now. Doesn’t seem you’re in that situation. But you’re clearly not happy. It’s not as if there are just two options (in “dream” job or in hell). You can definitely be in purgatory. I would say in some ways that’s great, because you know you want something else, but you have less urgency to find something, because you’re not miserable. So I would just stay and keep an eye out for other opportunities.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      In addition to looking at how you fill up your personal time, I’d recommend reading the job ads. If you find yourself saying “nope, nope, nope” a lot then it might be that the job is okay and it is time to jazz up life a bit.

      I think one of the biggest challenges of work is just going from day to day to day…. When you feel like you have hit a slog, see if you can find fresh ways of looking at the slog. Can you streamline something to make it easier? Can you find ways to work ahead, such as you know in six months you will need all Xs, can you start collecting Xs now?

      It sounds like you are trying to look at things as they are, rather than fantasy. Yes, most jobs have some sort of issues or challenges to overcome. Your challenge could be just following the routine. Sometimes that is the hardest challenge because it is not clear cut if the work is a problem or if we, ourselves, are having a problem. At least with a nasty boss or cohort, it is clear cut, they are nasty and it’s time to leave.

      Do you have an idea of where you want to be in five years? Do you have a few things you want to do in life? It might be time to pull out these longer term goals and think about how you will get there. Will this job help you get that house/education/dog/trip/whatever that you have on your list of longer term goals?

  29. T3k*

    Has anyone had experience working as a virtual assistant? I’ve been eyeing it as a possible job, but not sure where to even start, what to look for, etc. For instance, is being a VA contractor, full time employee, do you use a separate phone for customers, etc?

    1. krysb*

      No experience, but I have done a lot of research in this. You can start your own business, hire on as a contractor with a business that specializes in VAs – some may even hire people as regular employees, or find a job as an admin that is remote. There’s a book you may want to read, it’s called The Bootstrap VA. It may answer some of your questions.

  30. Venus Supreme*

    I mentioned on here a while ago that our business manager won’t switch to direct deposit and all the annoyances that has come with. Well, for Giving Tuesday she decided to make her OWN fundraiser campaign at 3AM one night with a $5,000 goal. She didn’t consult with Marketing, Development, or the ED (and you can tell it wasn’t thoughtfully constructed), but she did complain out loud at lunch why we weren’t donating our organization. The only people who gave were herself, a friend, and our BOARD CHAIR. She has yet to receive any repercussions.

    As a fresh college grad working in fundraising, this type of forgiveness around this behavior stuns me. I definitely expressed my concerns to the higher-ups.

    1. MWKate*

      She sounds ridiculous. Anyone who won’t switch to direct deposit immediately throws up red flags for me anyway.

      1. Venus Supreme*

        She’s been with this organization for over 30 years now. She’s our most senior employee- and it looks like people are scared to ruffle her feathers because of that. I’m just so frustrated she is able to get away with this behavior!

        1. MWKate*

          Unfortunately I’ve found that thing to be so common. It’s like at some point certain places give immunity to employees after a certain amount of time, or think that holding them to the same standards as everyone else (or having to fire them) will ruin morale – when really, establishing some kind of hierarchy on how fairly you are treated is what really sucks.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      She did receive repercussions, no one donated but two other people. In her world she got the ultimate telling off.

      It sounds like you will be seeing more of this type of stuff. I am sorry.

    3. Audiophile*

      The organization I work for now, only got direct deposit over the summer! Next year will be there 35th anniversary, and the ED who didn’t want direct deposit has been with the org for almost 30 years in some capacity. She doesn’t get her paycheck direct deposited and seems quite proud of this.

      Is there anyone above your business manager that could push for direct deposit?

      1. Venus Supreme*

        There is one person above the business manager who would have some say. Unfortunately she doesn’t exactly enforce anything. I asked her directly if we could have direct deposit and she laughed! I think that we can get direct deposit in a “power in numbers” type thing. My manager is on board with me and I think we can get our way through that approach.

        I mean, if the managing director won’t address anything to the business manager about making her own fundraising campaign at 3AM without ANY checking-in with the other senior levels, I can’t see her switching us over to direct deposit! It’s insane!

  31. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    My wife has been out of work on disability for a few weeks due to depression. I really didn’t want her to take that time, because I really wanted enough money to not burn through our savings again and have a decent Christmas, and she didn’t give me a definite timeline for when she planned to go back; so, I was really anxious. I mean, how do you plan financially that way?

    But now she’s feeling better and will be back to work on the 19th at the latest. And my work (I do contract work making a bit more than she does, but it’s less stable work), got extended at least through Christmas!

    And there are donuts at work today!

    1. ThatGirl*

      I understand it making you anxious, I really do. My husband has struggled with depression and I’ve been left to wonder sometimes “how long will this last.” But it sounds like she needed some time to focus on herself and her health, and hopefully she has a plan in place now and will be better off in the long run.

    2. Karanda Baywood*

      I’m not sure if you’re looking for comments or not… but this really jumped out at me:
      “I really didn’t want her to take that time, because I really wanted enough money to not burn through our savings again”

      Wasn’t it *her* decision to help herself get better? And why would you not support that?

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        Well, because she made the decision to file for leave without talking to me first about it, or first setting a firm get-back-to-work date.

        She can act impulsively and make decisions that aren’t really right when she’s doing badly, so I understood why she didn’t talk to me first. But I was (and still am!) annoyed about that, and I guess that came through.

      2. AnonymousX4*

        They’re a committed couple and mature people don’t just decide huge things like that without discussion, planning, and agreement. That’s why the OP has every right to be scared and concerned and mad.

        1. Caro in the UK*

          Unfortunately, making big decisions without properly thinking them through can be one of the results of mental illness. When you’re in the very depths of depression (or anxiety, or any other mental illness) rational thinking can be very, very difficult. And you often clutch at any possible chance to feel better (like taking a break from work) without fully thinking it through, because you’re so desperate to get even a moment’s relief.

          I’ve been on both sides of this relationship (both my partner and I suffer with mental illness, which can get very severe). So I completely understand his worry. And he has every right to be scared and concerned, I’d be worried if he wasn’t!

          But I’d try, as much as possible, not to be mad about this, any more than you’d be mad at her if she’d slipped on ice and broken her leg (and had to take the same time off work). Even though objectively it was her choice to take that time off work, I can almost certainly guarantee that it wasn’t a choice she wanted to make.

          1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

            Thanks! I’m thinking to tell her that I was worried and mad that she didn’t talk to me about this, and that in the future she at least needs to TELL me (not necessarily ask, just let me know X is going to happen). Springing things on me like this makes me panic and exacerbates my own problem.

            1. Caro in the UK*

              You’re welcome :) You seem like a very supportive partner and it’s totally understandable to be freaked out by this.

              Asking her to tell you if she feels like something similar is about to happen again is a good idea. Maybe when she’s feeling better, see if you can sit down together and have a discussion about what to do if she does find herself feeling like she needs to take a break again (unfortunately mental illness is often cyclical in nature). See if you can work together to come up with a plan that will make both of you feel more comfortable and less anxious about the possibility.

              It’s also important for both of you to recognise that just because she’s the one suffering, it doesn’t mean that you’re not impacted too. Getting some help for yourself (finding a therapist, counsellor, or just talking to a trusted friend) is important too; carrying all that worry by yourself and having to be the responsible one all the time can drag you down and build resentment.

              1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

                I already have that! Plus my counselor uses dogs in the office as part of sessions. So I get to pet and hug something while talking about hard things. It really helps. Although I am then covered in slobber!

                1. Caro in the UK*

                  Ha! :) Mine is blind (my counsellor) and has a guide dog which demands petting. It’s the best!

      3. Caro in the UK*

        I agree. I understand not wanting to use up your savings (believe me, I’ve been in exactly your position OP). But absolutely nothing is more important that your health. If she’s getting better after a few weeks off, then I’d definitely say it was worth the financial hit.

        1. OhBehave*

          I’m sure you also understand that there really isn’t a ‘shelf life’ for issues such as this. Expecting her to have a return date puts some pressure on to get better. That being said, she really should have at least told you what was going on so you weren’t surprised. I’m happy to hear that she is able to get back to work though.

    3. Kelly White*

      I’m glad she’s feeling better!

      I can empathize- my husband has had to take time off due to anxiety – and as much as I want to be loving and supportive, I also want to pay the mortgage and eat on a regular basis. It’s so hard to deal with, and I always feel like a big putz when I get frustrated. The last time he was out, his doc signed him back in, and it took a few weeks before his company found him a comparable position. I was freaking out (internally)!

      Yay for contract extensions and donuts!!

    4. Wandering Anon*

      Glad to hear that – congratulations on the contract extension!

      Good luck! Depression is a hard thing to deal with and I hope you both have the support you need.

    5. The Rat-Catcher*

      I feel this post so much. My SO left his job last month because of the effects it was having on his mental health. He’s starting a new job Tuesday that pays less, seemingly just when we were starting to get ahead a little bit. We both find this frustrating, but I feel like I can’t express it quite as much because then he feels guilty for not being “strong” enough to tough out the other situation. (We both grew up with some really weird ideas about mental health issues. I have what I feel is a pretty evolved view now, but he’s still going through that process.) I believe he did the right thing and he is visibly happier since leaving that job, but it does suck when these things happen around the holidays.

    6. bluesboy*

      I’ve never had this kind of problem so I can’t offer any advice, but I just wanted to say that I always notice your posts (unforgettable username!) and I love how honest and open you are. You seem a really nice person and I hope everything works out. All the best!

  32. AmyNYC*

    I have my own coffee mug that I use at work. If I’ve finished a cup of tea, the mug will have a tea bag left, so I will put trash (granola bar wrapper, occasional post-its) in the cup, so that the next time I get up I can dump the whole lot then wash my cup.
    No one has mentioned it, and the cup lives on the far side of my desk from my neighbor, but what does the AAM hive mind think? Is this gross or is it OK?

    1. Venus Supreme*

      If the garbage sits longer than a day, I might give it a lil’ side-eye. If it stays longer than a week, I might silently judge. But if it stays there for a few minutes or an hour, I wouldn’t think anything of it! Sounds like you’re A-OK.

      Also, I have an issue with food garbage (because mold is Really Gross for me), but since it’s papers and herbal water residue it’s totally fine.

    2. fposte*

      As long as it’s not inherently gross garbage to have out and it’s your dedicated cup, it’s fine.

    3. Mockingjay*

      It’s fine. At my job, the kitchen is downstairs, so I usually make the trip twice a day: midmorning for final coffee refill, and late afternoon, to dispose of food wrappers and wash the mug before leaving for the day.

      I also keep a small bottle of cleaner and extra napkins in a drawer, so I can discreetly wipe the desk if needed.

    4. hermit crab*

      I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Maybe don’t use your mug for temporary storage of banana peels, apple cores, etc. — but for wrapper-level trash I don’t think it’s gross!

    5. Pwyll*

      I’ve done this before. But don’t be me: one time I was in such a rush out the door that I forgot to dump and wash my cup. And then it snowed. So when I returned . . . it was pretty nasty.

    6. matcha123*

      I’d think “ew”. But it’s your mug and you’re not forcing me to drink from it.

      Sometimes I keep the tea bag in my mug and refill it with hot water until all the flavor is gone.
      I’m sure there are people that think that’s nasty, but I’m not forcing them to drink it.

      1. Marisol*

        Since you ask, it strikes me as ever-so-slightly gross, and makes me wonder why you don’t put the granola wrapper in the trash can at your desk–don’t you have a trash can? But it probably isn’t something I would notice if a coworker did it.

    7. The Rat-Catcher*

      On a coworker level, I agree with what seems to be the consensus here: if it’s not smelly or moldy, don’t care.
      On a personal level, if you’re washing the cup afterwards, same-day, I don’t see a problem. I might do a similar thing if I didn’t have a trash can in my cube.

    8. Cath in Canada*

      I do the same – we have trash cans at our desk but not food waste/compost bins, so I’ll often put an orange or banana peel in my mug on top of my used tea bag and dump the whole lot in the food waste bin on my next trip to the kitchen. I think as long as it doesn’t sit like that overnight it’s all good.

  33. Lucie in the Sky*

    ~7 months ago I left a job where I was working my ass off, being really good at a job but not making a good salary. (One of my close friends also worked there but in a different division) I had been expecting a promotion based on some promises by my manager (who isn’t the one setting the budget) — and her manager who was the GM said while he would like to they couldn’t make it happen for another year perhaps. I ended up leaving for a job making significantly more — the best they could offer to match was = 1/3 of what I was leaving for more. I really enjoyed that whole team, they were good to work with, and hard workers, I didn’t dread going into work. They were a bit more strict on attendance / timing and long hours then my current job. (It was my first job in a new area and I stayed there about 14 months)

    My current job I am not happy with. The culture isn’t a right fit for me. It has better benefits then my old job (higher 401K match, less insurance deductible etc) – and my direct boss is a really nice person, he’s flexible lets me manage my time as I see fit, has no problems with last minute days off whatever… But I am not happy. It’s so hard to come into work and I don’t want to look for a new job and have two short stays on my resume.

    So cue earlier this week I have been invited to go out with some of my former coworkers, and I accept and have dinner. And old GM who is not functionally the next person below the president (after some rearranging happens) — mentions three times that they’re hiring. I mention I miss them whatever, give him my current salary. He says he’ll see what he would do (it’d be a different type of job then I had been doing — but something that everyone says I have good aptitude for) — and I don’t think he’s really serious and leave. Now I’ve gotten a message that he wants to know if I am serious and they’re trying to work it out.

    Is it crazy that I am considering going when you weigh in that the benefits are less? Does the short stay read as bad if I go back to the same place (with clearly a higher level of title) — Is there something else I should be thinking about that I don’t know / should be concerned about?

    1. CM*

      It’s not crazy, but it is early in the process and you don’t have a lot of information yet. Go talk to the old company and see what they’re thinking. Also really think about what made you leave — was it purely the lack of promotion, or other things too? Would those things be fixed if you go back? How long are you willing to commit to go back for? A 7 month stay followed by a few years back at the old company is no big deal. A 7 month stay followed by 6 months at your old company, and then realizing again that it’s not right for you, is not good.

    2. Names Are Hard*

      If you were happy there, why not? This happens. Evaluate whether the work would be something you’d enjoy/be good at, and if the work would be a good fit. If so, you know you like the culture. A known quantity for you and them is a win/win.

    3. Jules the First*

      I did almost exactly that – left a job I loved for one that paid a lot more when my old bosses failed to give me the promotion and support they’d promised. I was miserable at the new job, but stuck it out for three months…until my old office called and said they were restructuring and would I come back and do something similar but not the same, if they matched my new salary. I said yes, and while I have no regrets, I ended up only staying for a year. I left again because while I the new work was interesting and stimulating and made me happy, the problems I’d had about being overloaded and not enough support were the same. So before you go back to a company, make sure that you’re going back for the right reasons – what you’ve just learned from this move is that you’re not someone who is primarily motivated by money, so you need to make sure you have good reasons other than money for every job you take.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yes, this. Be aware of allllll your reasons that you left and IF you go back make sure that most of your reasons have been resolved in some manner.

    4. BRR*

      The benefits are less but you should compare salary and benefits together. But happiness is important too. I took a job over a year ago that has severely affected my health because it’s so dysfunctional. I would take a small pay cut (being able to afford one is a factor) for more happiness.

      For the short stint. Think of it like any short stint. You can get away with it once if your other tenures are long and you can explain why you left your old job and the short job. The only fear I might have as a future hiring manager is would you leave us to go back to your old employer.

    5. The Rat-Catcher*

      I think going back to an old company reads differently on your track record than two short stays and then a third company. It won’t be hard for a future hiring manager to deduce what happened there.
      But I would consider what others have said above about why you left and if that’s being truly addressed as you go forward in this process of talking with Old Company.

  34. My Throat Still Burns*

    I posted an update a bit late last week ( to say the issue was resolved, but I guess I spoke too soon because yesterday Jane was wearing some new perfume and it’s very strong. I don’t know what to do. Did I somehow inadvertently give her the impression it was that particular scent that was bothering me? And now how to do reapproach the issue? The thing is, I like scents too, and this new one is much more pleasant than the last, but it’s too overpowering and is causing me to sneeze and my throat to feel irritated. What’s a nice way to say “can you please not use so much” when “so much” is subjective? Or would I be better off asking she doesn’t wear ANY perfume at all? I thought that is what I conveyed before but now here we are. *Sigh*

    1. CM*

      I don’t think there’s a non-awkward way to do this, but if it continues to happen I think it’s fine for you to say, “Jane, sorry to bring this up again, and I like the smell of your new perfume, but it’s causing me to sneeze and my throat to feel irritated. You were so understanding about it when we talked, and I really appreciated it when you started wearing less perfume. Would it be possible for you to stop wearing perfume to work, or just wear a very small amount? It would help a lot with my breathing.” (This script contains lots of softening language, and assumes that a little is OK with you… but I think mentioning how she’s so understanding and nice and helpful about this, and so you know that she would be happy to help again, would be a good approach.)

      1. Cryptic Critter*

        At this point I’d sort of point blank, but kindly ask her if her sense of smell might be off? People get “nose blind” and really don’t smell what you or I would. I have a friend who just loves her scents but cause she also uses those home air fresheners honestly can’t tell when she’s over done her perfume. Fortunately that’s my job!
        (laughing) You’d be surprised how many people are actually thankful you’ve said something instead of letting them walk around like that! Plus nose blind is an actual “thing”, so easy to chat about.

    2. You stink!*

      I’m so glad that I kept reading before posting my question because it is very similar to yours.

      I manage someone who wears WAAAAAYYYYY too much scent. No one in the office has medical issues with it (the one person on my staff who might hasn’t said anything about it–and they’ve worked together for 12 years) but he works with people in other departments, we have members of the public in our office on occasion, and sometimes we have volunteers, so I can’t say for certain that *no one* who he works with or near has no medical issues with his cologne.

      However, it stinks and is STRONG. Like, “oh, I can tell Fergus was here” strong. Here’s the problem: I’ve been his manager for over a year and haven’t said anything. Am I just out of luck and can’t say anything? Any advice for how to broach this topic? (I should have said something a year ago. I know that. But I didn’t, so that’s the position I’m coming from.)


      1. Natalie*

        “Here’s the problem: I’ve been his manager for over a year and haven’t said anything. Am I just out of luck and can’t say anything?”

        Just generally, in life, you can ALWAYS speak up. There’s no expiration date to register your opinion or, since you’re a manager, tell your employee what to do. If it helps to acknowledge that you should have spoken up sooner, do that, but don’t keep yourself from saying something because it’s awkward.

      2. CM*

        You could imply that it just recently started bothering you, or you recently learned about sensitivities to scents and want him to cut down because he has a public-facing job.
        -CM, the Stink Whisperer

    3. Venus Supreme*

      If your throat is irritated, it sounds like it might be an allergic reaction. Definitely approach her again using CM’s language. I’d say if she strikes again after this, maybe it’s time for a no perfume/cologne policy. Your breathing is compromised, for Pete’s sake! A coworker of mine is sensitive to scents and we can’t have candles burning or the like. As much as I love candles (at home), I think this is an absolutely reasonable request!

    4. sniffles*

      I’ve given up on this problem and just sniffle & suffer.
      Other people just don’t care and they forget until I feel like all I do is ask them to go easy on scents.
      At old job my office mate (a FRIEND even!) just would not stop with the perfume. I’d let her know that I was having a problem with it, she’s tell me it was the only one she found that didn’t bother her so she couldn’t understand why it bothered me. Oy.

      I currently have air purifier on one side of me & happylight on the other with box of tissues also to my side..

    5. MillersSpring*

      It will be awkward, but it’s completely reasonable for you to speak up again:

      “Jane, I’ve noticed that you’re wearing a new perfume, and I need to ask that you either stop wearing any perfume at all or only wear the tiniest amount that isn’t perceptible when you walk by or come to my desk. Unfortunately it’s causing my throat to itch and other symptoms. I’m sorry to have to ask again, but scents are an issue for me. I’d appreciate your help.”

  35. Chet*

    I manage accounts receivable and my supervisor is the head of sales. When she is stressed, she tends to micromanage and make inappropriate requests, and lately she has been skipping around me to talk directly to the person who processes incoming payments–asking them for urgent reports, questioning her priorities, detailed accounts of how they spend their work time, information about the steps involved in processing a payment and how long it takes, etc. She even asks this person for secretarial assistance in some cases! I try to be extremely conscientious in reporting the details of my team’s work, being open to input, etc. but she is not comfortable hearing things from me–she has to experience them directly for herself.

    I know that when you are working with this type of personality you have to tolerate a certain amount of the behavior and deal with it, but this week, the accounts receivable clerk became so rattled and confused with my boss’s requests for information and assistance that she accidentally threw away two incoming checks.

    I have spoken with my boss many, many times over the years (including once already this week) about stepping away from close management of my area, trying to focus on sales, etc. and whenever I do, she tends to become upset and say that she has to do what she is doing. I think I must be using the wrong language when I approach her, so does anyone out there have suggestions in how to request that she step back without offending her? Thanks!

    1. NarrowDoorways*

      I dunno if there is anything to say. You’ve been working with her a few years? She may just be really set with what she feels she needs to do.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Boss, you have hired me to manage. Please let me manage. When you ask my subordinate directly it looks like you are going around me for some reason. Not only is it confusing to the subordinate but it also causes her to set aside work that I really need her to do in a timely manner.

      [Borrowing your words here] I try to be extremely conscientious about reporting the details of my team’s work and being open to inputs. Perhaps we can look at additional periodic reports that would be helpful to you. I am willing to make changes in routines that maybe of value to you. But I really need you to let me manage my people.

      When she says she has to do what she is doing, ask her “why?”. Then listen. Worst case scenario she gives you some long rambling thing that there is no response to. Hopefully, she gives you an answer that you can work with. I think it is fine to say, “Look, I know I have mentioned it a few times and I see it’s stressful for you. It’s stressful for me too, because I need to know what I should do better so that you don’t feel you ‘have to’ oversee the details of our daily work.”

      Basically there is no point to you managing if she is doing all the managing herself. It’s tricky to say this, but it can be done. It goes something like, “you are paying me to do that for you, please let me do it.”

    3. MillersSpring*

      It sounds like she has some kind of reason for wanting to understand the clerk’s daily tasks, methods and workload. Is she maybe thinking of outsourcing accounts receivable? Laying off people? Justifying to her bosses that she *shouldn’t* lay off the clerk?

  36. bemo12*

    My company holiday party was just planned and this year it is mandatory for all management to be there. I work in a role where I do not see the non-management employees, like ever.

    Anyway, last year I brought my husband (I’m a gay male) to the party and we were harassed by some of the other attendees. My boss filed an HR complaint on my behalf, because she saw what was taking place, but nothing was ever done as it was deemed that the people were probably intoxicated and didn’t mean it.

    I do not want to attend this year, but am being told it’s not optional. Can I push back on this?

    1. Sadsack*

      Wow, that is terrible. I have no helpful advice, I just hope you are able to get through the party and work this season without incident. I don’t understand how being drunk and targeting other employees is acceptable to your employer.

    2. fposte*

      Not off your own bat (the fact that you don’t see the non-management employees is exactly why they want you there), but you can talk to your boss about the problem from last year and say you plan to opt out this year unless she has a strong objection.

      It’s up to you how to frame it–it is actually better for the business if you don’t have a second year of HR complaints that would establish a possibly discriminatory pattern, but the downside of that is you don’t want to offer to hide your sexuality if the company finds it awkward. And probably you’re mostly just personally interested in not exposing you and your husband to harassment and a company that did a shitty job about making clear that’s not acceptable. So how much goes into the conversation will depend on your relationship with your boss.

    3. Justme*

      I’m really sorry that happened to you. Can you speak to the boss who spoke to HR on your behalf about not wanting to go?

    4. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

      Do you live in a state with anti discrimination protections for sexual orientation? That might make you more sure about pushing back or not.

      Also, I’m so sorry. I’m a lesbian and my wife is bisexual. And most everyone at our jobs has treated us with respect. When I did encounter an anti gay colleague, they first told him to stop, then warned him he would get let go of the project if he didn’t and moved my cube away from him, then fired him.

      1. MillersSpring*

        Three cheers for your employer. Any harassers need to be disciplined on Monday morning. It’s BS to make it OK because they were drinking.

    5. Dawn*

      Uh… yeah? “Last year I was harassed by attendees because I am gay and brought my husband. HR did nothing. I will not be attending the party this year, as I do not feel welcome nor safe.”

      Wow that is ultra crappy and I am so sorry your company is so terrible that they can hand waive away homophobia with “Oh they were probably drunk and didn’t mean it” That is NOT OK.

    6. Sophie Winston*

      Do you live in a state with an anti-discrimination law? Do you feel you are a valued employee?

      If yes to both, I’d push back hard.

      If not, I’d have a last minute family emergency.

      I feel your pain. Good luck.

    7. Viktoria*

      Who is telling you it’s not optional? Your boss sounds like she had your back last year, so I’m hoping it’s not her. If that message is coming from HR or someone else, ask your boss to advocate for you and help you push back. Given that nothing was done to address the harassment last year, you have a strong case for not going.

      Also, your company sucks and I’m very sorry this happened to you.

    8. Caro in the UK*

      Because you’re boss sounds supportive, I’d discuss it with her and see if you could both go to HR about this together. Two people presenting a united front might have more of an effect (and there’s less risk of you being painted as a problem employee who’s overreacting).

      I say “might” because HR’s lack of action on last year’s complaint doesn’t bode well. But I think that this approach has the best chance of success. And good luck, I’m really sorry that you’re having to deal with this.

    9. Jenbug*

      That’s awful :(

      I would reach out to HR and say “in light of the events of last year’s party, I am not comfortable attending this year unless there is a specific policy announced prior to the event regarding anti-harassment”. Because people who felt it was okay to act that way last year are very likely to think they can continue to behave that way since (a) they weren’t told that it WASN’T okay and (b) well… recent events have made a lot of people think bigotry is socially acceptable.

      If that’s not possible, then I agree with the person who suggested a last minute family emergency.

    10. BRR*

      WTH is up with intoxication being a get out of jail free card? This HR person and/or your HR department sucks. Even if sexual orientation harassment is legal in your state, your company should not tolerate it and should not excuse it due to intoxication. Echoing others for who is requiring it? I would absolutely push back and say you felt unsafe. If sexual orientation is a protected class in your state I would emphasize that you were discriminated against based on your sexual orientation and will not be attending the party.

    11. Marisol*

      Anyone who harasses someone else at a party, for any reason, should be sent home in a cab. In addition to the obvious reason that harassment should not be tolerated, there is a liability issue when companies allow guests to drink to the point of intoxication and bad behavior. Is it possible to get some sort of policy established where guests who misbehave will be escorted out? If HR won’t create a formal policy, than perhaps it can be addressed informally: can your boss have a conversation with the harassers, or whoever it was that brought the harassers as their guests, explaining that their behavior was out of line, and that they will be escorted out if it happens again? Instead of addressing the past, in other words, which they clearly won’t do, maybe you can still have a plan of action to protect you going forward.

      At the very least, perhaps the boss can communicate disapproval and imply that demonstrating poor judgement could negatively impact their career.

      It makes me sad to think that you’re basically being bullied out of your own office party when you did nothing wrong.

    12. Marisol*

      Any party guest who harasses another guest should be escorted out, and if they are drunk, they should be sent out in a cab. Can you get HR to create a policy stating this? They may not want to address the past bad behavior, but they can get out in front of it for future parties. If they are going to require your presence, then they have to guarantee a respectful, non-discriminatory environment. I would approach it like, “how can we make sure this gets shut down if it happens next time” and make sure someone at that party has the authority to kick people out. Plus, there are other liabilities for companies that allow party guests to get intoxicated. It would be a mistake for the company not to address this.

      If creating new policy is too big a deal for whatever reason, HR should speak directly to the offenders, or whichever employee brought the offenders as guests, and let them know that this year, if they misbehave, they will be sent home. Or possibly your boss could do this, if HR won’t.

      At the very least, your boss should speak to the employees about what she saw, and depending on the hierarchical relationship between them, explain that demonstrating bad judgement can negatively impact one’s career. I would be very open and direct about their very bad behavior, rather than taking pains to be discreet. I’m not a big fan of “shaming” people, but this is an appropriate time to use shame. It doesn’t matter what the reason is–you don’t act obnoxious to other party guests, period, and you should be called out if it happens.

      It makes me sad to think that your solution is to bow out of your own office party when you have done nothing wrong. Please push back!! Your company is obligated to protect you!!

    13. The Rat-Catcher*

      “nothing was ever done as it was deemed that the people were probably intoxicated and didn’t mean it. ”

      Even if we stipulate that this asinine excuse is valid, unless they are banning alcohol this year, I see no reason the same thing won’t happen again. I’d bring that up. I’d be willing to bet they’d rather hold people accountable for their actions or exempt you from attending than have a booze-free party.

    14. bluesboy*

      So sorry to hear that. Being drunk is not an excuse for anything, and your HR knows that (I’m sure if someone had thrown a punch or crashed their car into the party while drunk) we wouldn’t be hearing that!

      As a concept, I would consider going IF the company has taken action to avoid it happening again, despite not taking action against the individuals concerned. Have they added something about discrimination to their company handbook? Have they spoken to employees to warn them to behave or this year there will be consequences? If not, like you, I wouldn’t want to go.

      I would probably speak to whoever is insisting on attendance and ask them “what is the company doing to ensure that the homophobic abuse of last year will not be repeated?” It might at a minimum make them think about it, and maybe give the offenders a warning.

      Go or not, good luck with it!

    15. Observer*

      Someone needs to have a talk with HR, as they’ve opened the company to a HUGE liability. You see, if someone gets harassed at a work function for impermissible reasons, then it doesn’t matter if the people who did the harassment were drink or not. It’s the responsibility of the company regardless. And because it’s mandatory, it’s even more of an issue.

      Someone, perhaps your boss, need to tell HR that if they are going to have a work event, then their staff needs to be protected, or they’re going to lose any discrimination suit that anyone (including the DOL and EEOC) might bring against them – even if it’s brought by someone other than the person being harassed, since it shows a pattern of irresponsibility on the part of management. Making attendance mandatory, makes things worse. And, if you are mandating attendance AFTER such an event, well, I suspect that their legal team would not be too happy.

  37. Reel Big Fish*

    I have an interview coming up! And I have a lot of questions that I hope will help me do better than I have. I’ve been told I interview really well, so I’m not /super/ concerned, but there’s always room for improvement. So:

    – I have resting bitch face. I try to control it during interviews but worry it looks unnatural. Typically, I wouldn’t care to adjust my face to others’ likings, but obviously it matters here. How can I deal with it?

    – Same for body language. I’m really short, so if we’re at a table, it’s even more awkward. I try to keep my hands above the table but when it means my elbows are almost at my shoulders, it’s weird. So, how are you mindful of your body language without it coming across as unnatural?

    – What kind of info are interviewers looking for when they ask if there’s more you’d like to share at the end? Is this a real question or are they just being polite? I have a lot of stuff that often doesn’t get touched on in interviews that I think would really showcase some of what I can/have do/done, but it feels awkward saying, “Yes! Let me tell you about the time I won X award and published Y paper.”

    – How do you track major accomplishments at work and what information do you include (for your personal records)?

    – If I get an offer (I’m going in with optimism), I’d really like to maximize my time between jobs. If they ask about a start date, I’d ideally want something like a month from the offer so I can give my two weeks and take two weeks. Is that reasonable or should I stick with a start date of three weeks ahead?

    1. Scorpio*

      Resting bitch face – try looking like you are listening/engaged. You don’t need to be smiling like a deranged person, but nodding, eye contact, smiling when appropriate, those will all help.

      Body language – if it’s comfortable, just fold your hands and leave them in your lap. Nobody will think twice about that.

      More you’d like to share – they are giving you the chance to address anything you were hoping to be asked about in the interview but didn’t come up. So you may not be able to prepare for that question now, and certainly don’t mention random stuff about yourself that you think is interesting. Use that moment to say something like, “Well, we talked about X, but I think my experience in Y is also important because…”

      Major accomplishments – You can start a file on your personal desktop or wherever that has emails, and a document where you can write up your accomplishments. This will come in handy for performance reviews.

      For the offer – ask their timeline for the position and if they say they want someone “ASAP,” that will give you an idea of what they’re willing to give you to transition.

      Hope that helps. Good luck!

        1. MillersSpring*

          Try scooting your chair back away from the table or desk so that more of your torso is visible. Take notes in your lap or just reach a little further to the desk/table.

          One month to your start date is reasonable, e.g. “I’d like to give two weeks’ notice, then take two more weeks for personal time.”

          Yes, when they ask if there’s anything more you’d like to share, that’s when you can highlight something in your expertise they didn’t ask about. You also can ask them about aspects of the company, role or team that they didn’t address.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        I agree with these suggestions, but I have an additional suggestion for your hands. Have a notepad and pen ready. You never have to worry about your hands then, and it helps you look and be engaged. (Also, you might be surprised how much you end up using them.

        1. Reel Big Fish*

          I do tend to have those with me and take lots of notes, but don’t like holding the pen when I’m speaking. I talk with my hands on occasion and am mortified at even the idea of it accidentally flying out of my hand and into an interviewer’s face.

          I also have ten pages of notes I took for this interview with some “cheat” answers. I’m hoping to boil those down to some phrases so I’m not walking in looking totally out of touch, but I’m hoping those well help as well.


    2. Not So NewReader*

      RBF- your tone of voice, exchanging pleasantries and how you answer the questions will help you over come that. Show a helpful/interested tone. Move your eyes around every so often so you do not seem to be staring them down.

      I usually put my hands in my lap if I am not writing or gesturing. You may end up with one hand in your lap and the other hand writing something, this is fine too.
      If the chair has arms you can alternate from lap to chair arms if you like or do elbows on chair arms and hands in lap. I feel comfy that way so I use that a lot.

  38. SNS*

    Any other Philadelphians see that the city will be banning employers from asking job applicants for their salary history?

    1. Audiophile*

      I think this needs to be a cause taken up by more cities/states. I despise this request as part of the application process, especially since I took a 5k cut at my current role.

  39. Michele*

    Oof, so I am kind of freaked out. I have been at my job for 14 years. When I started here, it was a small, but growing company. The founder died, and his successor has turned it into an international behemoth. Now they have decided that there are “international redundancies”. They have offered buyouts to people, but they aren’t very generous, so not many people are taking them up on it. They said that if they don’t get enough volunteers, there will be layoffs after New Years. No one knew this was coming. A good friend of mine is a VP, and he said that there had been a big meeting the day before the announcement, but he didn’t know what it was about.

    I am the primary income earner in my house, and there aren’t any similar jobs in the area. It really sucks, because this is our home. We have friends here and are active in the community. We have been slowly remodeling our house into something we love. When I took the job, they had never had layoffs in the more than 40 years they have been in business, and that was something that attracted me to it.

    I haven’t put in for the buyout–I am going to take my chances. In the meantime, I am polishing my resume and looking for jobs. We will almost certainly have to relocate.

    1. MissGirl*

      What a rotten situation to be in. Sounds you’re doing everything right. What a good reminder to the rest of us that no job is 100% secure.

    2. Triangle Pose*

      Can you start talking to recruiters now? Even if you are taking your changes, it might make you feel a bit better to get a game plan and discuss with a professional about what’s out there. After 14 years with the same employer, it’s possible the landscape is different than what you imagine.

      1. Michele*

        Yeah. I need to reach out to some recruiters. The problem with being in the same place for so long is that I no longer have outside contacts. In some ways, it is like starting over. Right now, I have written my resume, stepped back from it for a couple of days and realized what changes I need to make, and next is having my husband (the English teacher) review it for me. Once I have that and a working cover letter, I am going to reach out.

  40. Rhys*

    My company is hiring right now and my manager has been doing phone interviews all week. This morning she got through basically the full interview with a candidate before discovering that said candidate had no interest in leaving her current job and no interest in working for our company. This is a job she applied for! She had already had a call with HR! Pro tip: if you don’t actually want a new job maybe don’t apply for one? There are plenty of people who would be thrilled to get to the phone interview stage who are actually seeking employment.

    1. Emilia Bedelia*

      I would assume it’s leverage for her current job. She will probably go back to her boss and say something like “look, I got 5 phone interviews without trying- I could leave in a month if I wanted. Pay me more”
      Definitely rude to waste your company’s time!

    2. Collie*

      Maybe she got some information in the course of the interview that was really off-putting for her? I can’t imagine someone would go through all that trouble and waste so much time if they really didn’t have any interest to begin with.

      1. Mints*

        Probably both: “I’d leave if it’s more money and amazing perks and I love everybody I meet and the job function is great.” I think she wasn’t won over like she was expecting to

      2. Rhys*

        She apparently told my manager (after admitting that she didn’t want to leave her current job and wasn’t interested in this one) that even as she was submitting her application she was panicking! My current theory is that since she was a referral maybe the person who referred her pressured her into it, but that still doesn’t explain why she continued after so many steps.

    3. Cookie*

      I just interviewed for a job that I really wanted in a location I had no desire to move to ever. Ultimately, I decided I’d rather prioritize my personal life over my career. But sometimes it takes a little while to figure out your priorities.

  41. Dang*

    Have you ever started looking for a new job when you were reasonably happy in yours? When you started looking, was it a straw that broke the camel’s back situation? A toxic work environment? Or just the need for a change?

    My job is not perfect but I like the people a lot, and the day to day is generally okay. I just can’t shake the idea that I want to start looking elsewhere when I hit 2 years here (in a few months). My max at one company has been 3 years so there’s a big part of me that feels like I should stay unless I find something really fantastic.

    1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      I was happy at my job 2 positions before this one, but I felt under utilized, so I started looking. I ended up in a toxic environment BUT that led to the awesome position I am now in. I miss my job from 2 positions ago. But I am paid significantly more in this new position and get to do work more aligned with what I wanted. My plan is to stay here a few years, then try and find a position that combines the environment I loved from 2 ago with the work from current.

    2. Dawn*

      My job is incredibly comfortable but I am so under-utilized it’s comical. I can *feel* my brain turning into jelly. Since I hate being bored with a passion and get stressed out when I’m not accomplishing anything, I plan to start looking once I hit the 2 year mark.

    3. MissGirl*

      Money was a big one when I realized my cost of living had gone up and my raises hadn’t as much. Also, I worked in publishing so it’s always up and down. At one meeting, our manager talked about how we’d just had the most profitable year ever. Before we could celebrate for one second, she said next year was forecasted to be down and we all needed to do everything we could to be successful. I’m for giving it my all, but I realized in that moment my job was always going to precarious and never pay well. I started looking that week.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I also have looked around even though I am very happy with my employer and my coworkers both because I was underpaid and because I felt like I wasn’t challenging myself enough. I confirmed that I was underpaid and negotiated a raise (not a counteroffer, but my boss had been called as a reference, so they knew that it was possible that I might leave for better pay), and I started taking on new challenges. If neither of those had happened, I’d probably still be looking and going on the very occasional interview. The best time to look is when you can afford to be picky, not when you’re desperate. I’d only stop skimming the listings if I felt I was seriously overpaid, which I’m not. But I’m not that underpaid either, and the work environment counts for a lot for me.

    5. Caro in the UK*

      Loved my job… interesting work, good pay and mostly great coworkers. But… a micromanaging boss.

      At first it was a minor annoyance that we (the team) has a mutual laugh about. But gradually it began to drag me down more and more until the day I cried on the way to work because my boss was going to be back in the office after taking a three week vacation. That’s when I realised how oppressive the environment had become and I knew it was time to go.

    6. BBBizAnalyst*

      Yes, I like my job for most part but want to relocate to a more interesting city. I’m passively looking.

    7. Ghost Pepper*

      I’m in the same situation. I’ve been here for 2.5 years, like my job, like my coworkers & my boss, and feel valued as an employee. Nonetheless, I have been eyeballing job listings just to see what else is out there. I would only leave for an amazing opportunity at a growth-oriented company that paid at least 30% more than what I’m making now. (My significant other says I shouldn’t leave for less than a 50% salary increase.)

      It would take a lot for me to leave. But that’s not to say it couldn’t happen.

    8. Chaordic One*

      It seems to me that every time I’ve had a job that I really liked, something would change that turned the job into something unpleasant.

      Usually, it was a new manager, but other times it was a change in work description (more duties but not a commensurate raise in pay) or something like a new computer system that didn’t work well and made my job more difficult.

    9. MillersSpring*

      Yes, if I leave CurrentJob in the future, it will be for more money, more respect and less hassles.

  42. KTown*

    Job application/interview question:

    I applied to a position that would be a great fit for me in several ways. I worked hard on the application and was really happy to receive an invitation for an interview next week! However, when I went back to look over my application form, I realised that I hadn’t filled out a section that asked about hobbies, interests and voluntary work. I came across the job the day before the application deadline, rushed to fill everything out, and just didn’t see this section at the bottom of a page!

    I realise that this was probably the least important section on the entire form, and I did talk about my volunteering experience in the cover letter section (the job is at a charity and that section asked for a discussion of work with vulnerable groups), and obviously, I got the interview. The application stipulated that you should only apply if you were available to interview on one particular day (I hadn’t seen this before, but have now seen it on a few applications within the same sector), so I assume they wouldn’t have invited me for an interview unless they were very interested, since they’ll be interviewing a limited number of people.

    My question is what, if any, steps I should take to address this. Attention to detail is usually one of my strengths, and I also don’t want them to think I left that section blank because I have no notable hobbies or interests! I don’t think bringing it up in the interview is a good idea, since it would draw attention to a mistake I’ve made. Should I be aware of opportunities in the interview to mention my other volunteering experiences? If I’m asked about the blank section, how should I phrase my answer?

    I may be massively overthinking this, but I’ve been in the post-graduation, unpaid intern phase since the summer and I’m really excited about this job. I’m most concerned about how this reflects on my attention to detail. Any advice?

    1. Dang*

      I wouldn’t personally consider that a required section. I would be very surprised if it came up that you didn’t fill it out.

      I’m sure you will have opportunities to talk about your volunteer experience during the interview so I truly would not worry about it!

    2. Scorpio*

      Really really don’t worry about it. If this was the type of application where you also submitted your resume, I can tell you that employers look at your resume more than the computer generated application. Those seem to be for the HR/database more than the actual interviewers.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        Sometimes this is also a section where somebody who doesn’t have a strong work history can try to shine. When I was a teenager, this was considered an important section. And I can see where somebody going back to paying/FT work after an absence would consider it valuable. However, if you have a strong work history, it probably falls into the “nice to know but not vital” category.

    3. SaaSyPaaS*

      If you have an interview, then I wouldn’t even mention it or worry about it. Good luck! I hope it goes well.

      1. Hermione*

        I agree with SaaSyPaaS in that I wouldn’t mention or worry about it.
        For peace of mind, I would maybe have a sentence or two plotted in my head in case it comes up, but I would operate under the assumption that if it does it’ll be in a “What sort of things do you like to do outside of work?” rather than a “You didn’t fill this out. WHY NOT? Don’t you have hobbies?!” sort of feel.

    4. MillersSpring*

      I’m a hiring manager, and I want to assure you not to worry about this. If I even noticed that a Hobbies and Volunteering section was blank, I’d either think that you meant to put all details in the resume section, or I’d maybe guess that you had no hobbies relevant to the job.

      Online applications are a bear, so it’s completely common to have 10 candidates who each fills it out differently–some sections blank, etc.

  43. Scorpio*

    I’m job hunting and I had a tentative offer that was put on hold because of some sort of hiring freeze. That was about a month ago. Now, the manager for that job has asked to call me today. I have two interview next week and one two weeks that I’m waiting to hear back from. If she has an offer now, how do I keep this opportunity while still being able to interview for these other positions?

    1. Michele*

      Depending on the position, they might give you a few days to think about it. “I need to discuss it with my spouse and weigh my options.” The higher up you are, the more time they will give you to think about it.

    2. JustAnotherLibrarian*

      Ask her if you can have a little time to decide on the offer, but you won’t be able (nor would it be fair) to make her wait too long. You may just have to decide if the bird in the hand is worth two in the bush to you.