interviewers didn’t leave me any time to ask my own questions, my boss wants to sue me for quitting, and more

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

1. My interviewers didn’t leave me any time to ask my own questions

I just had an interview that I think went pretty well, but no one left any time for questions!

For context, this was the third interview in the process — the first (a phone screen with the hiring manager) had some time for questions; the second was with someone not deeply familiar with the role and the hiring process; and this one (the third) was for the finalists and had three mini-interviews/tasks with various stakeholders. None of the interviewers left any time for questions (and did not suggest that it was only because we were running late, for example).

I know that I should hear next steps within the next week or so. Is it better to wait until when/if I get an offer and ask my outstanding questions then? To put them in my follow-up/thank you email? Or to ask the hiring manager if she has time to chat about them? The hiring manager has been only somewhat responsive by email, and my questions are things about the structure of the role and the work environment that did not feel appropriate for a first interview, but that I would want to know answers to in order to decide if this is the right fit.

At this point, wait until there’s another interview or they make you an offer. If you get an offer and you haven’t had a chance to get all your questions answered, it’s perfectly appropriate (and in fact necessary) to say, “I have some questions about the position that I’m hoping to ask. Is now a good time to do that, or would it make sense to set up a separate call?”

The reason to wait rather than asking them now is because they may have decided not to move you forward, in which case they’re not going to want to spend time answering detailed questions about the job. If it were just a single question that likely had a quick and easy answer, then it would be fine to email that — but since you haven’t had a chance to ask any questions and presumably have more than one, hold them until the next stage, whatever that is.

The only exception to this is if they’re indicating that they’re strongly interested in you, that you should expect an offer, etc. In that case, it makes sense to let them know that you have a bunch of questions you haven’t had a chance to ask yet. In that case, you could say something like, “I actually haven’t had a chance to ask my own questions of anyone I’ve met with, and I’m hoping there will be some time for that before we move forward.”

2. My boss is threatening to sue me for quitting

I quit my job without giving prior notice because I tried quitting before but the boss doesn’t accept it. I couldn’t handle the amount of work hours, not getting paid for overtime, and stresses. I am the only person at the company and the boss was out of the country, coming back in a few days. So emailed my resignation, gave an update on ongoing projects, locked up the place and gave the keys to our neighbor.

The next day, the boss emailed back as if I hadn’t resigned and threatened that there’ll be consequences for my action. Then he asked me to come by and show him where things are (without compensation mentioned) but I didn’t respond. He emailed and said if I don’t answer his questions, it is a “refusal to cooperate.” Then he threatened to sue for losses due to me leaving.

Can he do that? I want to answer him, but I don’t want him to harass me every day when I’m no longer his employee. In the past, he still emailed people who left a month already about projects and said it’s their duty to do what he asked. He blames customers leaving on me for not able to complete projects when I’m not trained for it and he also blames me for the company losing money.

Ha, your boss is very funny, and very misguided.

Assuming you’re in the U.S. and you didn’t have a legally binding contract committing to staying for a specific period of time or provide a certain amount of notice (which would be an unusual thing to have in the U.S.), then no, your boss can’t sue and is being totally ridiculous to try to threaten that. You don’t have any obligation to “cooperate” with him once you’re no longer employed there, and there’s no legal cause of action against you for quitting your job. Quitting is a normal thing that people do every day, and employers make do.

I’d send this back to him: “Hey, Bob. I’d normally be happy to answer a few questions for you, or more than a few if we worked out a payment agreement, but obviously I can’t do that if you’re threatening me like this. Best of luck.” And frankly, if you weren’t getting paid overtime that you were entitled to (meaning you were in a non-exempt position), you might consider filing for those wages with your stage department of labor.

For what it’s worth, you can always quit a job whenever you want. It doesn’t matter if your boss “accepts” it or not. It’s not up to them; it’s up to you, and that’s true no matter what your boss says to you.

3. My employee won’t stop talking about my pregnancy

I’m currently 24 weeks pregnant, so it’s kind of obvious. I’ve told a few people at work (my boss, HR, my direct employees), but I haven’t made a general announcement. I’m a really private person and don’t like to discuss my personal life at work too much. To me, this feels like the most personal thing that could happen to me. I talk about my pregnancy and plans with my family and close friends, but I don’t like discussing it at work. Of course, I don’t mind discussing my maternity leave or planning for it.

My problem is that my direct employee doesn’t seem to understand this, even though I explained to her that I’m a private person and wouldn’t be making a general announcement. She continually brings up my pregnancy loudly and publicly, commenting that I’m going to have soccer practices to go to, how my life is going to change, telling me what she thinks the sex is based on the way I look, etc. This makes me unbelievably uncomfortable. I’m​ pretty sure this is a me problem and that it shouldn’t bother me, but this just seems so personal to me. Is this something I could address? Is there a way to do so without seeming rude or cold? Or is this something I just need to come to terms with and get over?

No, this is a her problem, not a you problem. Well, let me modify that: It’s a you probably only to the extent that you haven’t shut it down, which you can do as her boss.

If you haven’t been super clear with her yet that you want her to stop (meaning something more direct than saying you’re a private person and don’t plan to tell others), then that’s the first step: “Jane, I know you mean well by taking an interest but I prefer not to discuss my pregnancy at work and so am asking you to stop commenting on it. Thanks for understanding.”

If you’ve already done that — or if you try it now and it doesn’t solve the problem — then you escalate in seriousness: “Jane, I’ve asked you to stop discussing my pregnancy at work, but you’ve continued. What’s going on?” … followed by, “It does need to stop, and I need to count on you to respect that.”

4. My boss leaves papers all over my desk

This is more of an annoying quirk than an actual problem, but I’m stumped on how to fix it. I work several cubicles away from my manager who prefers to print out work to review rather than review it on a computer. She likes to jot notes on the printouts as she goes over corrections. This would be great except she likes to leave all of those printouts on the end of my desk! Mostly, but not always, they’re for my work, which makes sense, but the kicker is she says she likes to keep them to file so I’m not allowed to throw them away or move them when they are no longer relevent, and she will refuse to pick them up for weeks as they pile higher and higher. It’s more like she treats my desk as an extension of her own.

I’ve asked nicely when the pile has gotten big (or is full of printouts for my coworkers and not me), but she doesn’t actually come and get them for another week or so. I don’t know how to fix this without coming off as passive aggressive or rude (i.e., just bringing them back to her desk). It’s not impacting my job, but when we have bigwig visitors to our department, the clutter that I can’t remove makes me look unorganized and unprofessional, which is kind of a bummer. What do you think? Should I resign myself to living in papersville?

I actually think you can just bring them back to her, and that it’s not rude to do that. If they’re her papers that she wants to keep to file, it should be fine to return them to her with a cheerful “wanted to bring these back to you since I know you like to keep them.”

But if for some reason you’re positive that’s not an option, I’d just set up a box in your office, label it “for Jane,” and keep them in there until she eventually retrieves them.

5. Explaining my degree status when I have a grade pending post-graduation

Approximately two weeks ago, I graduated with a master’s degree—sort of. I completed all of my coursework and submitted my thesis on the day that grades were due (though past the deadline for submitting the assignment) but my professor said she didn’t have time to grade it that day and submitted a “credit pending” status in lieu (temporarily) of a grade for the class. I never received any type of notice from the university that I was not officially graduating, and participated in the commencement ceremonies without incident. It is my university’s policy to mail diplomas 6-8 weeks after graduation, so no one has received theirs yet. In addition, most of the students I spoke with didn’t seem to have all of their grades in by graduation. I have since followed up with my professor and she says that my thesis is good and she is just making some comments on it for a revision (a normal part of the process), and wants to ask a professor with more expertise in the subject to do the same, and they should send me these within a week or so.

How do I address the issue of my degree in my job applications? Can I say I’ve earned my master’s degree or is that dishonest? I am not 100% sure whether or not I have officially graduated and I don’t know whether the date of my graduation or some later date will appear on my diploma. (This also makes the date on my resume trickier, since I’m not sure whether it should be May or June.) I am not trying to hide anything and I am happy to explain the situation to employers if they ask, but explaining the whole situation in an initial application seems like too much detail and could make a bad impression or raise red flags for an employer. My university isn’t making a big deal (or any deal) of this, so I’d rather not either.

In a recent application, I had put an asterisk after stating I had earned my master’s degree (with something like “thesis grade pending”) but my boyfriend told me to take it out and I did. I have since received notification that my application was referred to the hiring manager. What are your thoughts on the best way to handle this?

I think your “(thesis grade pending)” is probably better .. but I would call your registrar and ask them your current status. You want to make sure that you’re not claiming a degree they haven’t yet conferred, and you want what you put on your resume to match what an employer will see if they verify it.

Depending on what they say, it might make sense to mention in the interview that you’re waiting on that final grade — but see what they’re saying first.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 261 comments… read them below }

  1. Magenta Sky*

    #2: If you can afford it, you might consider not sending any message to your former boss directly, but having a lawyer send a notice that, since he’s threatening to sue you, that *all* future communications *must* go through the lawyer *only*. This is enforceable, and he can get in a lot of trouble for ignoring it. (If you can afford it.)

    And if you weren’t salaried exempt (and do *not* accept the former boss’s word for it – talk to the labor department about it), definitely go after the unpaid overtime (if you can document it). A lot of companies misclassify people as exempt who should be getting overtime, not always by accident.

    As Alison says, it’s up to *you* whether or not you quit. There’s nothing he can do about it that wouldn’t be a serious crime.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yeah, this is one of those situations where an attorney sending a nastygram may be the most effective way to nip this in the bud.

      OP, if this was normal at-will employment (i.e., no signed contract or other agreement re: length of tenure, notice period, etc.), then you have nothing to worry about. Frankly, your (ex-)boss sounds seriously deluded, and I don’t think any amount of rational responses will stop him. So you can reply if you want, or ghost him if you want, but I would vote for ghosting. This guy sounds incredible (in the bad sense).

      1. Cam*

        I don’t think the boss sounds deluded, I think he knows exactly what he’s doing and has probably seen positive results from doing it before. Another reason a lawyer is a good idea! Though I imagine he’s the type who just likes intimidating people and has nothing to back it up, so if you can’t afford it, OP, you’ll probably be ok just cutting off communication with him (after sending the email Alison suggested). But in any case, keep logs of his contact with you (dates, times, subjects, etc.) and save any emails or voicemails he sends. It’ll help if you do end up needing a lawyer in the end.

        1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

          If LW2 tried to quit before and he acted like he had veto power over that and has a history of extracting unpaid labor from current and former employees (ie emailing former employees for months), then I have odds on him using these tactics successfully on others in the past. This is way too strategic for delusion

        2. LBK*

          I don’t think deluded and intentional are necessarily mutually exclusive; he may indeed be repeating it because it’s worked in the past while still not understanding that this is insanely far afield of how normal companies work.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Yeah, this is where I land, although I think he probably knows this is far afield. I don’t think he’s delusional in the “doesn’t know better” sense. I think he’s drunk on how powerful he thinks he is (which is not necessarily backed up by reality or facts), and he’s a bully. He’s probably threatened people this way in the past with success. I just find his threats hilarious because they’re so obviously not how this works.

            1. Chalupa Batman*

              He sounds like he may be one of those who know his behavior isn’t normal…and thinks that’s because something’s wrong with the rest of us. He likely sees his behavior as being a bold, effective businessman and sees the fact that other people have responded to his tactics (probably because they didn’t know how else to react in the moment) as evidence that it works. Now that he’s not your boss, he doesn’t have any control, and he’s using threats of suing to try to get it back. You do not have to play, OP.

        3. Antilles*

          Agreed. I don’t think the boss is deluded about the law. I think he just knows quite well that most non-lawyers hear the threat of a lawsuit and immediately start worrying. It’s a card he can play, under the (usually pretty good) assumption that the merely putting the “lawsuit” word on the table is going to make you much more willing to acquiesce to his demands.

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            That, and he probably assumes his former employees can’t afford an attorney and/or don’t knew any better. But there’s plenty of lawyers who will do a free consultation or write a letter for only a couple hundred bucks, which is often all it takes for the other party to ack down.

        4. Artemesia*

          This. ‘Failure to cooperate’ LOL. OOOO OOOO ‘Failure to cooperate.’ This guy has obviously gotten used to bullying people and it usually works. The fact that the OP was discouraged from resigning because the boss wouldn’t accept the resignation suggests he has her identified as naive and easy to push around and is doing that again. She should stop responding at all unless she has a cousin who is a lawyer who will send a nasty cease and desist for her. If she does communicate again it should be to say, ‘I no longer work for you; you need to cease and desist making demands on me.’ Then never respond again.

        5. Anonymoose*

          “I imagine he’s the type who just likes intimidating people and has nothing to back it up,” Oh god yes. I actually pictured him in my head and remembered that I had worked/lived with someone like that before (roommate). The only thing I could do when he got stalker-ish was leave no trace of myself anywhere that was easily accessible. I still get occasional nudges from him via LinkedIn (which I completely ignore) but he was similarly deluded. Embrace the situation by entirely shutting down. Now, this doesn’t work if you’re still owed a paycheck – at that point, I would probably consult an attorney or your state board.

          He sounds like a total choad. Sorry, buddy. The good news is that most bosses aren’t *that* bad. It’ll improve!

        6. femmebot*

          This. I had a similar situation, made worse by the fact that I ditched that company to work for a company that shares the same office space. He harassed me and tried to blackmail me. It took a big whig from my current company striking the fear of god into him for him to leave me alone. I have no idea what was said, but hot damn it was effective.

          At some point, if you respond to a harasser you will only get a flurry of messages in the future. When do you stop? It’s an important question to answer before sending the script that Alison suggests.

      2. ThatAspie*

        Hahahahahahahahahahaha, “nastygram.” I’m going to have to start using that one! xD

      3. Queen of the File*

        Even an “if you wish to continue this discussion, the next response will be from my lawyer” will often end the discussion, in my experience. If the boss knows he has no legal standing and is just trying to intimidate the LW into doing what he wants, just the threat of a lawyer may be effective.

    2. Fafaflunkie*

      Exactly this. Depending on how much overtime you haven’t been paid for, maybe you can find an employment lawyer that will work on contingency. If that’s the case, then sick that lawyer on that (former) boss’s badonkadonk. I assume you’re in the U.S. whereby in 49 of the 50 states (sorry if youre in Montana) absent an employment contract, they can fire you on the spot for any reason other than protected classes, and consequently you can quit on the spot for any or no reason at all!

    3. Purple Dragon*

      If you do go the lawyer route maybe consider getting them to have your ex-boss agree on what a future reference would be. I can imagine someone so far out of touch with professional norms being vindictive.

      1. Artemesia*

        I never understand this. Can you ever compel someone to give a good reference? I know that I can certainly communicate ‘do not hire’ while giving an apparently bland ‘good reference.’ I imagine any nasty boss can. Unless the agreement is to only confirm dates worked and indicate that is policy.

        1. SarcasticFringehead*

          I work for employment attorneys, and your last sentence is essentially what most of the agreements say – reference requests for the former employee will be directed to __________, who will confirm title and dates of employment, and they won’t give any other info.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Based on the description, I don’t think it makes sense to try to negotiate a reference from this guy. But I do think it would be helpful to have a lawyer, in the nastygram, say something oblique about defamation.

    4. Delta Delta*

      It shouldn’t cost much to have a lawyer send a nastygram (different lawyers have different names for these; since this is pleasant company I’ll refrain from saying what I call these letters) that essentially says, “dude, buzz off.” I am a very non-threatening-looking person but as soon as the word “lawyer” escapes my lips people freak out. Letterhead does the same trick.

      1. K.*

        Yep. Firm letterhead works wonders. I’ve also had good luck simply mentioning that my best friend is a lawyer. In the OP’s situation, I’d be consulting her. And DEFINITELY get your due overtime pay, OP.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If you can’t afford a lawyer (and don’t assume that you can’t, you might be able to get some free advice from a law school clinic), then remember that once you quit, this boss has absolutely no say in what you do, and you have absolutely zero responsibility to him. Start letting all his calls go to voicemail immediately, and consider sending him a registered letter stating that you do not want any more contact from him. Then save all voicemails and emails, you might be able to get a restraining order depending on your local harassment laws.

    6. paul*

      And for the love of Blackmun and Thurgood Marshall, if you are served with court summons, you NEED to respond.

      1. Magenta Sky*

        This cannot be stressed enough. Anybody can *file* a lawsuit against *anybody* for *anything*. Something this ridiculous won’t go far, you but *have* to show up at *every* scheduled appearance or he wins by default.

        He won’t file anything, though, because no lawyer who wants to stay a lawyer will take the case without a hefty up-front fee, and probably not even then. Bogus lawsuits can produce SLAPP fines for the client, but for a lawyer it’s barratry, which can rise to being a crime in most states if they make a habit of it.

        1. Mokiva*

          Actually, he won’t “win by default” if there’s no case at all b/c no laws were broken.

          I can’t sure you for, say having blonde hair and I don’t like it and win just because you don’t show up.

          Default judgments are only issued when there is a valid case. If, however, this guy alleges that you stole money or did X, Y, or Z that is a legally valid case, then show up.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            It is helpful, though, to remind people that you can lose a lawsuit even if you never show up. I see this surprisingly frequently by people who think that if they aren’t personally served, they’re somehow “immune” from the lawsuit.

            Yes, of course, you can’t win a lawsuit that has no basis in law or fact, even if the other person doesn’t show up. But as a general rule, people should show up.

          2. Magenta Sky*

            Not all judges look that closely at the complaint. They should, but sometimes, they don’t.

            And if the other side isn’t there, they can claim *anything*, and the judge will likely take them at their word.

        2. Noah*

          “you but *have* to show up at *every* scheduled appearance or he wins by default.”

          It would be very unusual to get a default for missing a single court appearance.

    7. TheBard*

      In some states, you wouldn’t necessarily need to engage a lawyer to go after the unpaid overtime. The state’s Attorney General or Dept of Labor or similar may have an enforcement arm for exactly this type of thing. You may be able to file a claim with your state and not have to find an attorney for this. I would recommend looking into this. If you file and nothing comes of it, there’s no harm done, and no attorney’s fees to pay.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I think you can file a claim even if you’re not sure you were exempt/nonexempt/owed overtime, etc.

        I *think* you can file a claim that says, “I think I was owed…” and then the Labor Dept. will investigate. If it turns out you were mistaken, they’ll say, “Oh, no, sorry, we looked into it, and it was all kosher.” But they don’t then fine you for wasting their time.

        I would be really tempted to just file the inquiry/complaint anyway. That way the state government will bring up legal stuff to him.

      2. Anonymoose*

        Yep, the CA employment board is actually incredibly responsive and very…effective…at getting back at crappy employers. I wish everybody had the validating experience that my husband went through last year. Kaching (!), and relatively stress-free experience on his part.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Not really. My bf is still trying to get paid money he’s owed from working somewhere for three weeks in dec 2015/jan 2016. The first hearing last summer the employer merely needed to say he didn’t agree that he owed him what he said (despite enormous amount of documentation) and the second hearing was just last month (yep the courts are that backed up). And so he’ll win when the final decision is made any day now, but that employer can still choose to not pay, say he doesn’t have the money or what have you. He’s done it to other former employees and had to say he’d pay them on a payment plan etc. we cant believe this place is still in business and allowed to hire people! (for clarification it’s not just straight wages he’s owed, there was holidays during that time they’re disputing, a sign on bonus etc)

    8. Student*


      Since he has threatened legal action and you don’t actually want to do further work for him, I also wouldn’t include any softening words whatsoever about doing more work temporarily for him for some agreed-upon fee. He might try to use that against you or merely try to bully/browbeat/exhaust you into further work when that’s not what you want anyway. I think AAM was generally on, but missed the boat in suggesting opening with that kind of language here.

      Your biggest mistake might be giving the business key to a neighbor. That wasn’t a good move, even if the neighbor is “nice”. It would’ve been better to give it back to the owner directly or through certified mail or something. I understand you’re afraid of the owner, but this wasn’t an appropriate step in any way and would’ve made a reasonable person quite angry too. It may open you to actual legal consequences if there was any harm done over it, or if the owner decides to re-key over it.

    9. Noah*

      since he’s threatening to sue you, that *all* future communications *must* go through the lawyer *only*. This is enforceable, and he can get in a lot of trouble for ignoring it.

      –It’s not enforceable. His lawyer can only call your lawyer, but he can continue to call you (short of violating harassment laws or something of that nature).

    10. OP from #2*

      I am in California. My employment contract was basically “you’ll be doing tasks A, B, C, etc for this salary and vacation/holiday.” The hours are flexible: as long as the work is done and someone is available from 8-5 to answer phone call and receive packages. When I had another coworker it wasn’t a problem. Some days we work 7.5 hrs, some days 9 hrs and gets paid 8hrs/day regardless of how many hours we worked. But when projects become urgent, he would ask us to work weekends. We ask for compensation and he either says “no, because it’s your fault you were late on projects” or “no, the company is losing money, I don’t even get anything, but you have your salary. Plus you are on a reward program.” There’s only 2 people at the company and we can only do so much, meanwhile he promises customer ridiculous deadlines. My coworker left and then I was the only one left.
      Yes, he’s definitely crazy and he has taken advantage of people in the past before. The company was started 6 years ago but absolutely no employee retainment at all. I can’t afford a lawyer but will reply as Alison suggested.

      1. OP from #2*

        P.S. I gave the keys to the neighbor because I don’t know his home address to mail it to. He already got the key and didn’t have to re-key. He also threatened to sue for the place being “a mess” when he got back, he didn’t mentioned what the mess was but says the lights and A/C weren’t off.

      2. Anonymoose*

        You’re in CA – you’re so cake. Call the employment board today. They’ll handle everything for you and most of it is over the phone. Do you have emails about the ‘your fault/weekend work?’. My husband recently went through a similar situation last year and it was a total breeze to get the employer, well, less of an a-hole and to collect past earnings + interest + penalties. It was a glorious payday. It was very validating. CALL THEM TODAY. :)

        1. Anonymoose*

          Oh, um, forgot to mention that this is all FREE. So, don’t worry about paying for a lawyer. They are the lawyer in this case.

              1. OP from #2*

                Update: I got an email from my boss expecting me to pay for him losing customers and damages. The letter is below: “You left me a huge mess at all levels with the company loosing many customers because of your negligence and because you did not follow my advices nor perform the requested tasks. You also left the company in a very dirty state and I had to have the entire space cleaned and decontaminated. The lost for the company is significant. The damages to the company’s image are unprecedented.

                I could not find most of the samples that you were supposed to leave me and we have to repeat most of them as a consequence. Employee A, because you suddenly decided to leave, the company had to pay extra costs. The company should not pay for these mistakes so I am requesting the full attached payment from you. On the items where you share responsibility (green in the attached file), I let you decide how to split the cost [between you and employee B]. If you cannot find a compromise, then I am expecting an equal shared payment from both of you. Please find the requested amount attached with their corresponding description. Let me know if something is not clear to you and I will explain it. Assuming an equal split of the shared responsibilities, Employee B you own the company $373.77 and Employee A you own the company $1,415.15.

                To be clear, at this point, I am not counting the damages to the company’s image, nor the lost in customer’s revenue. I am also voiding the cleaning and decontamination fees and the cost of FTEs to repeat the tasks. I am obviously at this point, only requesting a fraction of the real cost to the company. I will though follow legal advices and start legal proceeding to request full damages if I do not receive the attached payment from you on or before July 21st 2017. Please send your payment via Paypal to Let me know if you prefer to send a check.

                Employee B, to answer you comment about the state of the company’s equipment. Look at yourself in a mirror; the cause to most issues we encountered during the time you were in the company might be in front of you! I came through pretty disturbing emails! Don’t blame the equipments or anybody as a matter of fact.”

                He had threatened to sue over the state of the company before, even though its a rented warehouse. And B told him we did the best we could to clean and organize but it’s not going to be perfect. This guy is so crazy, what should I do???

    11. Vin Packer*

      OP is most definitely not overthinking this. There are really strict rules regarding grade and deposit deadlines for degree conferral that don’t apply to the ceremony.

      However, OP, this is like 95% your professor’s fault. It is unacceptable to leave a student hanging like this–if you don’t want to deal with follow-up on an I grade, don’t agree to give one. You should email your professor, like, YESTERDAY, in addition to getting in touch with the registrar as Alison suggests.

      1. Vin Packer*

        Whoops, this was supposed to be a reply to a comment below. I’ll just see myself out now *bonks head on doorway*

    12. jasmine*

      Also: most states have laws about employees’ final paychecks having to be paid in a timely manner, so if the paycheck is late, the employee should file a complaint with the state’s labor department. (This sounds like the kind of boss who might want to play games like that.)

  2. Mike C.*

    I couldn’t handle the amount of work hours, not getting paid for overtime, and stresses.


    If you aren’t being paid overtime you are legally due, then report this simpleton to your state labor board. Unlike his claims that he somehow owns you, your claims are justified in the law.

    If you’re looking for more information, search for “wage theft”.

    1. Myrin*

      I’m loving the casual use of “simpleton” in this comment, it’s one of those words I think are particularly great and used not nearly enough.

      But anyway, I absolutely agree with Mike. OP, you have all the power here – if you feel at all up to it, use it!

    2. sunny-dee*

      It’s also possible that the OP isn’t *owed* overtime but is upset about some kind of offset for working more than 40 hours per week.

      1. TootsNYC*

        True. But filing the claim will get the state labor department to rule on that, and then she’ll know.

        Meanwhile, she’ll have really inconvenience this boss.

        The reference is the only problem.

      2. Mike C.*

        Right, that’s why I said, “If you aren’t being paid overtime you are legally due”.

  3. Junior Dev*

    Alison, I think the OP in #5 took out the “thesis grade pending” on their boyfriend’s advice, and is worried about addressing it in the hiring process because of that. At least that’s how I read the letter.

    How would you advise the OP if that’s the case?

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yeah, the lack of disclaimer seems to be what worries OP. Personally, I think OP should be fine (when I graduated, it took a minimum 6-8 weeks for grades to post, but we all knew we had passed our classes and represented ourselves as graduates on our resumes). But I’d be interested to hear if this is a bigger deal to others.

  4. Mike B.*

    #5 – You’re overthinking this. You marched in the ceremony, your thesis has been confirmed worthy of a betterpassing mark–it’s in no way dishonest to claim to have completed the degree. The additional details would just confuse people, and no inconsistency like a mismatched date is going to stand between you and an offer of employment.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      There shouldn’t even be a mismatched date! Most schools I know of acknowledge the date of the ceremony as the graduation date, or, at minimum the end of the semester – for those who only hold commencement in May, but students finish in January.

      1. Blue*

        I work with university records, and I have not found this to be the case. Walking means nothing on its own; many schools let people participate in graduation ceremonies before they’ve completed their requirements. She doesn’t have her degree until her transcript says she does, and Alison is right that she should call the registrar and ask. I have seen *many* students who are equally close to graduation who did not actually earn their degree for months or sometimes even years.

        It’s fine for her to put the degree on her resume with a disclaimer, but she can’t claim to have it. I don’t think she needs to send an immediate correction since it may well be resolved before that search progresses, but I’d probably err on the side of disclosing if the degree has not been conferred by the time she started working.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Sure, you can walk without having graduated, but the OP has been told she’s going to pass this class, and knows that is the only requirement left- but is still worried that her graduation date will be off by a month. She’s not taking an entirely new course- when the grade comes in, it will be for the previous semester, and her date will say May, not June.

          1. gladfe*

            What you’re describing isn’t how it works everywhere, though. At my university, the graduation date would be the end of the semester after the professor submitted the last grade. Calling the registrar is really the best way to know for sure.

            1. Sarah*

              This is how it would be at the university where I did my grad degree, too. They would issue you a little certificate saying you’d completed all requirements to show employers once all grades were in, but your degree date would be delayed until the end of the next semester. The university I currently teach at does it the way most people are assuming (it would default back to the quarter you took your last class). So everywhere really has their own policy and it’s best to check.

              1. Pineapple Incident*

                I agree with this- if the registrar’s office says that you have met the official graduation requirements, you should definitely request a letter substantiating that (just in case you need it). I work for the government, where we have to have proof of a Research Fellow/etc.’s education in order to pay them in an appropriate range for their experience, so it could end up helping you until you have your diploma in-hand.

                The letter we give students to have their registrar fill out uses the following wording:
                To whom it may concern,
                Re: (STUDENT NAME)
                This is to certify that the above named individual has fulfilled all the requirements for a (degree earned) in (major/minor) at (University).
                The degree is to be conferred on (DATE).

                1. jojo mcscroggles*

                  OMG WHO GIVES A CRAP?????

                  Do you want to know how much time I set aside to scrutinize employee college transcripts? About 0.0 seconds…”HA! Got ya sucka! Didn’t think I would notice that these dates are A MONTH APART DID YOU FOOL??? This is a clear refusal to cooperate and I do not accept your resignation!”

                  For the OP…
                  Seriously, it doesn’t really matter. You got the piece of paper, you checked that box. Now welcome to the real world.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  @Jojo, I feel the same — but there are many, many companies that verify this stuff and will disqualify people if it’s wrong. So the OP does need to be careful about it.

            2. BananaPants*

              Yup. Commencement was held a day after the end of final exams, and not all professors had their grades in that fast. We all received empty diploma folders at graduation and had the actual certificates mailed several weeks later. Every year, some number of “graduates” end up getting a D or F in a class or would up with an incomplete and found out a few days or weeks later that they didn’t graduate after all.

              My alma mater was happy to provide a degree completion letter and official transcript from the registrar within a few days of the close of the semester. What the OP is describing – handing in her thesis late and the prof being delayed in grading, would be an incomplete, and she wouldn’t be considered a graduate until it was resolved. It’s OK to put (pending) on her resume.

        2. BananaPants*

          Mr. BP walked in a graduation ceremony and thought he was done a full 2.5 YEARS before he actually graduated. His advisor had based his entire plan of study on an earlier version of the university catalog, forgetting that as a transfer student the catalog in place at the time he matriculated was the applicable one. The registrar realized when they were processing the degree completion forms that an error had been made. After MUCH back-and-forth and arguing over whether he should be allowed to graduate anyways, he spent another 2 years taking the classes he needed to graduate under the correct catalog.

          I agree, she can’t claim the degree unless she has it.

            1. BananaPants*

              Especially since he had accepted a job based on finishing said degree, and then had to go back and decline the offer! He ended up working in retail and when he finally graduated it was right at the very start of the Great Recession – worst timing ever. It was partially his fault for not double checking his advisor, but she was the one who established and signed off on the plan of study. He assumed that she knew what she was doing.

              In retrospect he should have taken out student loans in order to go back to his original college for his senior year. No lie, he would have had his degree 5-6 years earlier than he did and that likely would have led to a very different (and higher-earning) career path.

          1. Alton*

            Ugh, that was my fear when I was a transfer student. In my case, the school I transferred to would waive certain gen ed requirements if you had an associate degree, which I did, but I had to trust my advisor about was waived because the info wasn’t easily found. I had a brief freak-out in my senior year when a more junior advisor thought I needed to take all sorts of freshman-level gen ed requirements, but fortunately my regular advisor correctly determined that no, I didn’t need stuff like the “life skills” class freshmen were supposed to take, and I got my degree.

        3. TootsNYC*

          She has completed her requirements.

          Well, I supposed “having a passing grade recorded with the registrar” hasn’t been completed, but it’s not like “needing to take 1 more class over the summer.”

        4. Artemesia*

          This is one of those mistakes that is black and white to a company and can cost you your job later. I personally know someone who was fired from a very good job when it came out that the masters he claimed for X was not earned then. He was an hour short or something like that. Don’t mess with easily verifiable lies. It isn’t awarded until it is awarded. ‘Pending’ covers it in this case; if asked you can say, we are waiting for the grade on the thesis which has been submitted.

      2. Ashie*

        She can just say “Spring 2017” and be done with it. I seriously doubt anyone will care whether it’s May or June.

    2. Another person*

      I have worked in this field and agree there is most likely nothing to worry about here. There’s generally a buffer period in which grades can be turned in and still be credited to that semester for graduation, but the amount of time given varies by school.

      If the OP wants peace of mind over this, they could contact the registrar’s office to confirm what the deadline is and then follow up to make sure everything is on track for that date.

      If the degree is still pending at the time of interview, I think that should be mentioned.

    3. Professor Ronny*

      It’s not that simple. Many schools allow you to walk when you are close to finishing but not yet done. This is especially the case at schools where they do not have a graduation each semester. At the last school I taught at, you would walk missing up to six hours. Students did it all the time. They would have family coming in for the graduation and would fail one class their last semester. They would walk and take that last class over the next semester.

      Very few schools give the actual diploma at the graduation (called a live diploma) and rather mail it later. They do that at my current school because the grade deadline is after graduation so none of the students walking are sure they have passed everything. (You would be surprised at how many students who are failing and do not realize it.)

      The professor almost certainly has a final deadline for getting in grades unless she gave the student an official Incomplete. The registrar has dealt with these types of issues all-the-time and is the best source of information.

      1. Sarah*

        On final grade deadlines…depending on the school, these can be really mushy. We have a theoretical “drop dead” deadline that they act extremely serious about, but I dealt with a complicated cheating incident a year ago during which I discovered that if it’s just a couple of grades and the rest of the class has been submitted, they actually don’t care about the deadlines. Especially if the professor can point to a late assignment, they really may not enforce any deadline if it’s just one student grade that’s late.

      2. Yorick*

        Many universities have a deadline for turning in the thesis that is much earlier than the deadline for regular grades. The OP may not actually have a degree conferred until the following semester.

        1. Caitie*

          The university at which I work is this way, so that a late thesis or dissertation is not at all similar, process-wise, to a late term paper. If your thesis is in after X date (about 2/3 through the term you intend to graduate), they won’t process you till the following term. Here you’d contact the Graduate school, as well, not just the registrar. Another thing to possibly look into for the LW, and possibly her department head.

        2. Artemesia*

          This. The OP turned it in late. At the University I taught in she would not have been allowed to walk as diplomas are presented and are not prepared until the degree is completed; a thesis would be due well in advance of graduation. But it is quite possible that a late thesis would mean the official degree date will be August rather than May.

          1. Mike B.*

            All very good points. But I’m not inclined to believe that this would be the case without OP’s knowledge. The advisor, who is deeply involved in the process, would have said something like “you realize this will result in your degree being conferred a semester later, right?” Not guaranteed, certainly, but very probable.

            In any event, I see two issues: is this dishonest, and is OP in any danger? And the answers are “no” and “probably not.” She has to the best of her understanding completed the degree requirements to her school’s satisfaction and participated in commencement. She can include it in good faith. Would an inconsistency in dates trouble an employer? OP would know that better than us–if the degree is a rigidly required accreditation for the jobs she is seeking, there will certainly be a problem if she doesn’t have it in hand on her first day. But I don’t think she’d have written Alison if that were the case, because asking the registrar about her status would be the obvious first step.

            If you want to play it safe you can say (pending) until the situation is resolved, and you might as well do that. But that’s to forestall scenarios that are pretty unlikely.

      3. Allison*

        The college I attended had commencement ceremonies in May and December, but May was definitely the one everyone wanted to walk in. It had a better turnout and a big-name speaker, so people would finish in December and walk in May, or walk in May when they needed to take summer classes to complete their degree. Technically, if you finished in spring semester you completed your degree in April, because that’s when everyone had exams, and senior week was the first week in May, but you said you “graduated” in May. If you finished in a different semester, the actual month you finished was when you completed your degree, regardless of when you attended the commencement ceremony.

    4. AnonAcademic*

      Well, it can be a grey area. I was offered a job through a federal fellowship program and they needed proof I’d earned my degree by my start date in July, even though my degree would not be conferred until October. It took a lot of negotiation with the graduate office to have a letter written stating I had completed all degree requirements and was fully eligible to be granted my degree in the fall – they could not say I had the degree itself, only that I earned it and they would give it to me in the future.

  5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#3, your employee is being obnoxious. This is not a you problem (except to the extent Alison described). Subtlety isn’t working, so be direct. The scripts are perfect—use them to reset boundaries with Jane, who has seemingly lost hers on this issue.

    1. Purplesaurus*

      Even women who aren’t as private about their personal lives would probably be bothered by this person, particularly comments about how her body looks. Ew.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Also, soccer is way, way off in the far distance. Tiny tiny socks are in your future. And little hats.

      1. Putting Out Fires, Esq*

        Though at 2 am when the baby starts kicking you in the bladder, the thoughts of soccer are hard to avoid.

    3. Van Wilder*

      Agree but bigger than a Jane problem, it’s a society problem. Why can’t people stop commenting on pregnant women’s bodies (or worse, post-baby bodies)?

      And why are we still pretending that the shape of a bump can predict the sex? I suffered through so many of those comments. What offends me more than people commenting on my body is people being so ignorant to science. Now that I’ve had the baby, people tell me I must have had a lot of heartburn because she was born with a lot of hair. k..?

      1. Avocado Toast*

        “Now that I’ve had the baby, people tell me I must have had a lot of heartburn because she was born with a lot of hair. k..?”

        There actually is an empirically observed correlation there. See:

        That doesn’t change how unwelcome the comments on your body/pregnancy/baby are, however. I just thought it was a quirky little fact.

  6. dragonzflame*

    Haha, #3 is exactly why I left my last job and went to full-time self-employment (well, okay, not entirely why, but it was one of the reasons I called time on it). I was only about 12 weeks when I left and I was already over discussing it with workmates. I couldn’t face actually showing and having everyone under the sun asking personal questions and throwing their 2c in; being a public library, I just knew I’d get it from the regulars and the old ladies. I’m not keen on discussing my personal life with people who aren’t in my personal life, so I completely understand the discomfort.

    Out of interest, is Jane a younger person or an older person? Rudeness is still rudeness, and I hope you can shut it down swiftly, but I’m kind of curious as to whether she’s young and inexperienced with such things in the workplace (you know how on TV etc., pregnancy is all anyone can ever talk about), or if she’s older (and a mumsy type who’s just a little bit too interested).

    1. mreasy*

      My husband and I aren’t planning to have children, but we married later in life, and once we got hitched the speculation began! It’s slowed down a bit, but now I’m on a medication that requires I don’t drink any alcohol, and we have a lot of work-adjacent events that involve drinking. I’m slender but busty and sometimes I even worry that my outfit makes me look like I’ve been hiding a bump. It sounds ludicrous, but people really do think they have the right to comment and speculate on these things – it’s nuts.

      1. Julia*

        Oh God, not drinking alcohol eliciting “are you pregnant???” is the worst. Considering I haven’t had a drink since 2015, I would have a gestation period longer than an elephant.

        1. Delta Delta*

          That is irritating. I”m a lady who enjoys a beer, but sometimes I am just not in the mood, and something else sounds better. The second you order a coke or a seltzer at a networking event people are planning a baby shower. Argh!

          1. Van Wilder*

            It’s so infuriating! Nobody questions if a man doesn’t feel like drinking. Can people just mind their own business?

        2. Amber T*

          This past weekend I was at my boyfriend’s work party. Now, my boyfriend and I have been dating for a couple of months… long enough to play the whole meet-the-friends game, attend work parties together, etc., but not long enough to discuss a long term future, like marriage and children. I was on antibiotics for a personal female matter (which boyfriend knew), but it wasn’t something I wanted to bring up a) with people I didn’t know that well and b) at a work party. So while the alcohol flowed freely, I passed (I’m not much of a drinker anyway, but I would have had 1-2 drinks normally). I got so much side eye from people when I turned down a drink, and I overheard one of his friend’s whispering to my boyfriend “dude, is she pregnant??” (he shut it down quickly).

          PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT – When a woman doesn’t drink, it could be for a variety of reasons! It could be because of antibiotics or other necessary drugs. It could be because she’s made a lifestyle change for reasons that are none of your business! It could be because she doesn’t like alcohol. Please, for the love of everything, stop asking if she’s pregnant!

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            If it occurs to me to wonder (which it usually wouldn’t, as it’s none of my damn business), I would usually assume they’re the designated driver, because 1) in my experience it’s the most common reason, and 2) it doesn’t require me to assume anything about them that is none of my damn business!

          2. New Bee*

            Yes! I’d also add she could be in very early pregnancy (and not ready to announce) or trying, which makes folks’ nosiness even more annoying.

            1. Faith*

              Exactly! If a woman thinks you are entitled to this information, she will let you know. If she hasn’t volunteered it, then it’s as good as her explicitly telling you that it is none of your business. DO NOT ASK! Sorry, this is a sore subject ever since a friend loudly said “Hi preggers!” at a crowded event, when I was indeed 8 weeks pregnant (which he didn’t know and just made a blatant assumption because I was bloated) after having miscarried a previous pregnancy at 6 weeks. He actually messaged me later and and said “I hope you are really pregnant. Otherwise, I would feel like an asshole.” I responded with “The fact that I am really pregnant does not change the fact that you ARE an asshole”.

          3. JustaTech*

            Or she could be driving! My husband and I will rock-paper-scissors for who is driving home. We be sure to do it in front of people so there’s no questions about why someone isn’t drinking.

      2. Future Homesteader*

        I have been blessed with a family that does not believe in speculation (at least not to one’s face), but I’m a (mostly) non-drinker and we have some in our friend/acquaintance group who will forget that, and then freak out and ASK when I don’t have alcohol at a given event. Which is frustrating because a) I’m not and b) If I were and hadn’t told you, why on earth would you think that your asking like that would suddenly make me want to tell you?

    2. OP# 3*

      She’s older, and I think she’s making comments because she’s just a bit too excited for me/interested.

      1. AlastairCookie*

        Well, at least she isn’t your boss, and asks you one week after you informed her you were expecting:

        “Do you think that you are showing yet? Because you’ve certainly put on a considerable amount of weight.”

    3. BlueWolf*

      I’ve never been pregnant, but I have certainly heard plenty of anecdotes about pregnant women being asked all sorts of probing questions and receiving comments from both strangers and non-strangers alike. I can’t understand why being pregnant suddenly makes people think that your body and health gets to be a constant topic of conversation. I worked at the front desk at a medical office and a patient told us (quietly) that she was pregnant because obviously it would be relevant to her medical care (although our office did not provide pregnancy related care). I could tell from her body language and tone that she really didn’t want a big deal made out of the situation (and maybe didn’t seem super enthused by the situation?), but my coworker told her “Congratulations!!!!” in a fairly loud voice in our quite small office. I don’t think she was too far along at that point, so for all I know we may have been one of the first people she told. It felt super awkward.

      1. TootsNYC*

        “I can’t understand why being pregnant suddenly makes people think that your body and health gets to be a constant topic of conversation.”

        Well, having a womb makes people think that your body and health get to be theirs to control…

        I like the idea of babies being a community interest–we need future people, so we should care about their welfare, and wish them well, and welcome them. But this welcome should come in a *community* and *supportive* way, not a personal and intrusive one.

      2. BananaPants*

        It never happened at work, but it was amazing how many people felt they were entitled to touch or rub my belly. Total strangers, even!

  7. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

    #5: I really think this is a non-issue and you may be borrowing trouble that isn’t there. At my university, grades are due from instructors two weeks after the end of the semester yet commencement is the final day of semester. Very few people have grades by then but they all participate. In fact, degrees are not even begun to be conferred until about 3 weeks after semester ends, and those evaluations can take 10 weeks. However, we use a Degree Progress Report to see if all requirements are met. It’s a tool that is available to faculty, staff, and students in their account portal. I’m certain your school will have something similar that you can check daily until the grade is finalized. Even then I bet your report shows that pending in-progress work, you’ve earned the degree.

    1. New Bee*

      I agree–my sister graduated last month (walked the stage, in the program, the whole shebang), and she even still has a class to take this summer. It’s not uncommon, ime, to “round to the nearest semester” when folks have one outstanding assignment or class.

      1. Sam*

        Walking =/= earning a degree. You don’t have the degree until all grades are in and successful completion of all requirements can be confirmed. Even if there’s no reason to expect a problem, I’d still add a “degree expected by [date]” note for the period between requirement completion and actual conferring of the degree. (I work with university records, so this is a conversation I have with students not infrequently.)

        1. hermit crab*

          Yeah, when I got my masters, I walked in May but officially graduated in August — in our program, students can graduate at the end of either semester or at the end of the summer but there’s only one commencement ceremony per year. I think I actually participated in commencement on a Sunday and then had class again at like 8am the next morning. :)

          1. Meryl*

            I did the same thing. My alma mater only does one ceremony per year (in May), so plenty of people walk without quite being done. (I think one is required to be within 6 credits of completion at that particular school, I’m sure that varies among universities though.) My degree was officially conferred in September.

          2. JustaTech*

            Are you me? I did that too, except my classes were online. I walked in May with everyone, I took my comprehensive exam in August, I “graduated” in December and I finally got my diploma in April.

      2. Libervermis*

        Exactly, I know someone who walked last month who still has classes to take both summer and fall to complete degree requirements. And it’s not uncommon for students in the summer classes I teach to have already walked but need a final class or two for their degree.

        Definitely call and talk to the registrar. Certainly it’s possible that it’s just bureaucratic formalities from here on out, but maybe not – my master’s program required us to apply for graduation and have that confirmed by the registrar, so if you missed the deadline you had to wait until the next semester (or go butter up the administrative powers that be).

  8. MadGrad*

    People who threaten dire consequences for leaving them are almost always people who impossibly crappy to be around.

  9. Fafaflunkie*

    Sorry Alison, but I have to disagree with your advise to OP#2 on this one. As the (now former) boss has threatened with legal action, the best course of action is to remain silent, and have a lawyer look into this. Much in the same fashion as when an unruly customer calls a company’s support line complaining and harassing the poor CSA on the other end demanding something that said staff member cannot remedy. Unruly customer then screams “I’ll sue you if you don’t fix this now waaah waah wahh!!” The next line of the CSA’s script says “I must end this conversation now. Please direct all further correspondence to our legal department at”

  10. KR*

    4) I like the idea of a box – can you get a paper “inbox” type tray for your desk? I’m also imagining one of those larger box that reams of copier paper come in – you could put a little sign on it that says Jane [Lastname] and slide it under your desk or keep it at the end of your desk. You could even decorate it to match your office and keep the lid so it doesn’t look messy. I feel like it would be all the more dramatic when it was finally full and you dropped it off at your boss’s desk because they hold a lot of paper.
    2) Run, run, reindeer. I really like Alison’s script. You could even, if you’re feeling sassy, say something to the effect of, “I’ve given my notice several times in the past and you haven’t taken it well. As much as I wanted to give you notice, I really need to move on from this job now and cannot wait any longer. I’m not available to answer any more questions or take your threats.” Good luck and remember that he was the one being an awful boss. This is a reflection on just how misguided and out of touch he is, not a reflection on your character and work ethic. I think you acted with consideration and grace.
    3)That sounds obnoxious. I’m sorry.

    1. KR*

      Also, they make hanging folders for cubicles! Could you put one up by the entrance to your cublicle for Manager to drop her papers in? They’re generally not very big so she couldn’t go bananas. You could put in pieces of fun colored paper to make it look nice.

    2. Happy Lurker*

      Second the copy paper box with BOSS NAME printed in 72 Font. Store under your desk, use it as a foot rest and leave it there until the apocalypse. Hope like heck she never asks you to file it! Keep all the papers neatly lined up, not tossed in. Boss may even appreciate it.

  11. Science!*

    #3 Commenting on the OPs sex life puts it over the edge for me. That would make me intensely uncomfortable with or without the pregnancy. If the employee doesn’t stop talking about the your pregnancy with a firm “I don’t wish to discuss this anymore.” then I would say go to HR.

    1. GH in SOCal*

      I think it’s the (presumed) sex of the baby the co-worker is commenting on, not the sex with her husband or partner! Not that that’s great, but it’s less outrageous.

      1. dragonzflame*

        Yeah, I think it’s scrutinising the bump and speculating based on that – carrying low? MUST be a boy. Showing from the back? Must be a girl, etc. It’s really annoying. I’m currently 36 weeks, know what I’m having, not telling anyone, and people keep doing it and guessing wrong.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Don’t forget the oh-so-complimentary “The baby is stealing your beauty, so it must be a girl!”

            1. Amber T*

              Taking a mental note of this and filing it away for if/when I’m ever pregnant and some asshat is being an asshat.

            2. Panda Bandit*

              Or “What’s stealing your intelligence? Oh right, you didn’t have any to begin with.”

          1. Lefty*

            UGH! I’ve only heard mothers-to-be say this about themselves, usually in jest because they are tired/over being pregnant/feeling down. I cannot imagine someone saying this to another person! Wow.

            Purplesaurus, your response is perfection!

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              I’ve never heard it, only heard women say that someone said it to them, but apparently it’s a thing in some areas.

      2. Mookie*

        Is that what she means when the LW describes her as speculating “what she thinks the sex is based on the way [the LW] look[s]?” I was legitimately hyper-ventilating there for the moment, thinking this employee was literally fantasizing about her boss trying sex in different positions until she finds the best one, Red Ridinghood-like.

          1. Poohbear McGriddles*

            Lordy, I hope so. Otherwise gives a whole new meaning to “the better to eat you with”.

            1. Mookie*

              This is like flunking pre-school all over again. I need a refresher course in folk tales.

        1. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

          Oh my. Now THAT would be a letter. But I took this one to mean that she was speculating on the sex of the baby by how the LW is carrying. I can’t remember what people say, but carrying high is supposed to be one sex and carrying low the other. It’s all a bunch of crap but people just seem to love speculating on it.

      3. Science!*

        Oh duh, that makes a lot of sense. I should have guessed, I got a billion of those comments when I was still pregnant two months ago (as well as “are you sure you are not having twins?”)

        My best excuse for misreading is my 5 week old is going through a growth spurt, super fussy and will only sleep in arms, so I’m a wee bit sleep deprived :).

        1. Morning Glory*

          I did the exact same thing and was so confused why nobody seemed outraged by that part.

        2. In Lou Of*

          I thought the same thing, initially — that the employee was speculating about sexual acts versus sex of the baby.

      4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Ohhhhhhhhhhh. I definitely thought the coworker was asking about their sex life, and I was confused as to why nobody was talking about that. :)

    2. OP# 3*

      Oh no! I meant she was guessing whether it is a boy or a girl. Fortunately, there have been no comments on my sex life!

      1. Science!*

        Haha, I had a brain fart. Comments on the babies sex is still annoying. My least favorite was how everyone would stop me in the hallway and ask in a super concerned voice, “How are you feeling?” Sometimes while rubbing their own belly a little. I know they all meant well, but getting asked that 10 times a day got tiring.

        1. fizzchick*

          My stock reply to that: “About X months pregnant, thanks.” Flatten your tone or add a snarky look as appropriate. A few people then will have the good grace to say “No, really, how are YOU doing?”, to which I respond as I normally would. For the rest, I hope that they’ll think twice about asking it of the next pregnant woman they see, just because she happens to be incubating a baby.

  12. Ramona Flowers*

    #5 I hadn’t graduated at this point so it’s slightly different, but I applied for jobs while waiting for my postgrad to be confirmed. I put something along the lines of: “result expected: date” and added a line saying I had met all requirements and was waiting for my final result to be confirmed, with my expected results.

    I think your thesis line was totally fine. And really you’re not lying – you did complete the course, you just don’t have your final result signed and sealed.

    1. Definitely Anon*

      Also, if your thesis adviser is one of your references, you could mention that so that they can easily verify that you have completed (or almost completed) the degree requirements and will have it before starting the job.

  13. Ramona Flowers*

    #4 I really think it would be fine to tell your boss you need your desk space to work and that having those papers there is affecting your productivity. It’s not unreasonable to say you can’t keep them right there, but you can hold onto them in another way. And I think you need to stop asking nicely and operate on the proviso that it just isn’t possible to have them there. She doesn’t come and get them – she doesn’t actually need them to be on your desk.

    Maybe say something like: “It’s distracting for me having them there and I’d prefer to be able to focus on getting my work done.” You could even ask: “Is there a reason why you’re wanting them to be in this particular spot?” Or just keep saying “I moved them because there wasn’t enough space” or “I moved them because they were in the way”. On repeat.

    Also she likes to keep them to file – is it an option for you to file them for her?

    You have my sympathy as I have ocd and this would aggravate me beyond belief. I can’t stand people putting things on my desk – but I don’t claim jurisdiction over anyone else’s.

  14. Ramona Flowers*

    #1 feels like a bit of a red flag to me – they should be actively asking if you have questions for them. So I would take this as important information to factor into your decision making.

    1. Allypopx*

      So many people are so crappy at interviewing that I have a hard time seeing it as a red flag, but I probably would have said something in the interview like “Oh, I actually had a few questions. Is there time now or could we schedule a followup call?”

      If OP asks questions and is actively shut down, then yeah that’s a red flag.

      1. OP #1*

        OP #1 here. The interviews were so highly structured that I don’t remember feeling like there was space for that type of interjection. I am not sure if it’s a red flag, but I do think it’s a reflection of office culture. People I’ve spoken to who worked there have said that its very fast paced, and people have a hard time doing things that are off of their set agenda.

  15. PatPat*

    #5 – Why on earth is this boss printing and filing things to review and why is she correcting on a hard copy? Does she not understand how to make files on her computer or how to add corrections to a document? What a waste of paper and space.

    OP, I don’t blame you for being irritated by having her mess on your desk.

    1. Jenny*

      Some people are more comfortably going old-fashioned with pen and paper (my supervisor does the same thing), I’m not sure why this is an issue. It’s the mess that’s the problem and there are ways around that.

      1. Miso*

        Yeah, my boss always prints everything as well for reading. To be honest, there is stuff where I think it’s a bit unnecessary (for example, she gets a newsletter she prints to read and then gives us to read as well. It always contains a lot of links, so if we want to check out one of them, we actually have to type the whole link, since we obviously can’t click it in the paper version…).
        But especially if it’s looking for typos etc and it’s a longer document, I prefer doing it on paper as well. It’s nicer to the eyes I think, and I catch more stuff.

          1. kavm*

            In my position, I have ownership of documents like that. My boss reviews them and frequently prints them out like others have described, and then I’m the one who has to edit the PC version. He doesn’t have the software that I use to create the documents so even if he were digitally marking up a pdf, I’d still have to go into the original file and make the edits.

          2. JanetM*

            I do a lot of proofreading for other people. While I am comfortable with, and do use, Microsoft Word’s Track Changes function, I much prefer to proofread and mark-up on paper.

    2. BananaPants*

      I do the same, and I’m not even that old. I process very technical papers and documents more easily when it’s a hard copy versus a PDF or other document. It doesn’t mean I don’t understand how to make a file (seriously?) or correct a document, it means that this is how I work best.

      Note: I don’t leave my printouts lying around, and I recycle them when I’m done.

      1. Jen RO*

        I also did my copyediting on paper. My eyes got very tired after staring at Word for hours and paper did not strain them that bad. I’m not a copyeditor anymore, but I still print out things. If I’m working off chaotic specifications, I find it easier to print them out and highlight things (one color for “I included this in the documentation already”, one color for “I need to ask for clarifications”, one color for “This looks wrong”, etc).

      2. Mockingjay*

        Me too. I

        Also, I had a boss a few years ago who had vision problems. I always did printouts for his review. It was a little more work for me to implement his hand-written comments; but the value of his feedback far outweighed any inconvenience.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      There are lots of times when printing something out for review and editing is much easier that doing so on a computer. It’s not a matter of not understanding how to do it. It’s just easier to read sometimes.

    4. fposte*

      For actual publishing editing, if you only edit/proof on a screen you’ll miss a ton. I do on-computer only for communications and smaller stuff, but not for actual copy (or grant writing).

      1. FDCA In Canada*

        Yeah, I copyedit for a magazine and always do two rounds–on the screen for major issues, sentence restructuring, that kind of thing, and a hard-copy round for missed punctuation, layout errors, and the occasional “wtf???”

      2. Liane*

        Oddly, I don’t usually have a problem with missing errors copy editing on screen, but I am not working with long, complex documents.
        The exception is when it’s my writing. Fortunately, WordPress has a preview option and since it looks so different than the working screen I can spot my errors.

    5. Layla*

      Just did that yesterday on a bunch of firewall rules. I do not have a large screen monitor to look at too many rows/ columns at once.

    6. INeedANap*

      “Why on earth is this boss printing and filing things to review and why is she correcting on a hard copy?”

      I can think of lots of reasons for this, since I do it myself. Computer screens hurt and strain my eyes, and my eyesight is terrible enough as it is. When I have a lot of editing to do, I prefer to print and mark things up by hand because it’s much easier on me physically.

      Plus, having a hard copy means that I can work on it in places where my computer isn’t. The other day I had to leave work for an appointment, and was very productive during my (irritatingly) long wait in the waiting room.

      Writing things by hand cements them in my memory in a way that typing doesn’t. When I write a comment, I remember the comment – so doing it by hand means I don’t have to be going back and re-checking my notes as often because I remember them better.

      Finally, I find doing things in hard copy less distracting. When I’m on my computer, my e-mail and other notifications are constantly pinging at me. When I want to concentrate, I turn off my monitors and focus just on the document in front of me.

      Of course I agree the irritation over the mess is valid, but doing things by hand in hard copy certainly doesn’t mean I’m (or anyone else is) computer illiterate; it means that this is the process that works for that person.

    7. Observer*

      Actually, it’s often much easier to mark up a paper copy than a file, especially if there is going to be some back and forth. A lot depends on the work and on the person. So, it’s really hard to call that a waste.

      On the other hand, if the boss wants a record of the work, why not scan it in and then get rid of the papers?

  16. Alice*

    Congrats LW5 – can you follow up with your advisor, any faculty you have a good relationship with, the registrar, the Dean of students? This shouldn’t be dragging on. Try and pitch it positively – I am excited about moving on and using this credential I’ve earned; how can I tie up this loose end?

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      To be fair, the reason it’s dragging on is because the OP missed her own deadline.

      1. BananaPants*

        Yeah, if she’d met the deadline it sounds like this wouldn’t be an issue.

      2. Hedgehog*

        If her grad school was anything like mine, it was probably a pre-approved extension. I think I was the only person in my masters program who ever turned on all papers before the semester was over. Taking extensions was so commonly I almost wondered if my professors looked askance at me for never doing it.

        1. LaSalleUGirl*

          I was years into my graduate program before I realized that my peers were regularly requesting extensions on projects without any negative consequence. I wish I had realized that sooner. I once forced myself to pull an all-nighter while recovering from the flu because I was afraid of missing a deadline.

        2. Jessesgirl72*

          Obviously with an approved extension (I have too many friends who teach in colleges to assume “pre”) but that doesn’t change the fact that her delay is the cause of the grade delay- if she had submitted on time, presumably the professor would have already submitted her grade.

      3. Artemesia*

        This. The advisor probably has a busy professional life and her own deadlines. When the OP missed the deadline, her stuff went to the bottom of the stack and will get read when everything else is done. She needs to put ‘pending’ on the resume and go slow on the nagging.

  17. Jessesgirl72*

    OP5: You are overthinking this date thing way too much. I know a university where Commencement is in June (their semesters shift later than normal) and they don’t send out the diploma or official final transcripts until October, when the Admin staff is all back from their summer vacations and gotten the new school year started up. The graduation date is still June.

  18. Katie the Fed*

    #3 – my sympathies! I announced this week to my team. It was really early but I had been out so much (I’ve had a REALLY rough first trimester and was out a lot for doc appointments) and was starting to show and I didn’t want them all speculating on it.

    I’m already sick of talking about it. One my employees started talking about a baby shower and I had to tell her that government ethics laws don’t allow it, and other people keep giving me unsolicited thoughts. I’m hoping it will wear off soon because I’m over it :)

    1. Jubilance*

      Get ready – the unsolicited opinions and questions are just beginning! My baby girl is 5 months now and I get SO MANY UNWANTED COMMENTS. I just smile and change the subject, or say we have our own parenting style and change the subject.

  19. Red Reader*

    #2’s boss is definitely awful and hilariously beyond his bounds in threatening to sue. But at the same time, I gotta say, it seems pretty tacky (at best) for LW2, being the only other employee, to have deliberately waited till Boss was out of the country, THEN quit with no notice, quite literally shutting the company down until boss’s return, and given the keys to someone who had nothing to do with the company to boot. “I tried to quit before and he wouldn’t let me” is a pretty flimsy excuse — he can’t “not let you” quit, unless you have a contract — and if you have a contract, you now have even bigger issues.

    1. LBK*

      If she knows she’s going to be attacked and pressured into staying when attempting to resign in person, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to quit when the boss won’t have that option. To an extent, dire circumstances like this relieve you of professional norms in favor of pragmatism; she at least still did him the courtesy of formally resigning instead of just ghosting, so I think she’s done her due diligence as the situation allowed. And frankly, doesn’t seem like this is a manager who’d be useful as a reference anyway, so I don’t think there’s much harm in burning bridges for your own sanity.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      A lot of employees really don’t know their rights, and that definitely seems to be the case in LW2. Unpaid overtime, thinking a boss can sue you for quitting – she’s not aware of what her rights are. Under those circumstances, her decision may very well have made the most sense for her at the time.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

        I completely agree. Plus, given what we know, it’s not unfair to speculate that this was an all-round toxic workplace. If the boss doesn’t show you professional curtesy, you don’t owe them any on your way out.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I’m pretty anal about conventions, but they don’t exist in a vacuum; in most situations I’d be pretty unhappy with the OP, but in this one I can only admire her execution.

          Short version: you want notice, you don’t steal from your employees.

        2. K.*

          Exactly. Notice is a courtesy, not a requirement. The OP’s boss proved that he didn’t respect professional courtesy, so the next time around he didn’t get any. I think that’s fine.

    3. paul*

      Hell with that. boss seems like an ass.

      Maybe OP could stand to work on standing up for themselves (I had the same reaction to “not let me quit”) but really if you know from experience the boss is going to throw a fit, why not quit like this? If there’s not a bridge to burn, and the boss is going to make your life unpleasant, protect yourself.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Seems like straightforward reaping what you sow. Won’t accept a resignation and bully the employee into staying? Then the next time they quit, they’ll make sure they don’t have to deal with you in person.

    5. sunny-dee*

      Since I’m the only one, I’ll pipe up — I agree with you, Red Reader. I’m even cool with quitting without notice, but quitting and effectively shutting down the business (both in its physical location and the ability to maintain projects, since the boss is gone and it’ll be more difficult to check in) — that is beyond unprofessional. (If she didn’t want to see the boss, she could have just emailed after whatever her mental last day was and then just not showed up. She didn’t need for the boss to be traveling to do that.)

      The boss sounds awful, but doing that is awful of the employee. As my mom said — two wrongs do not make a right.

      1. Case of the Mondays*

        I agree. Also, while you normally can’t sue someone for quitting, it made me wonder if you could sue for lost profits if someone just shut down your business without you knowing. Let’s say OP worked at a gas station and just closed it when he quit. Boss comes back from out of the country a week later to learn that his gas station has been closed for a week. There might be a means to get some damages there.

        1. Observer*

          Except that’s not what happened here. She actually emailed him with all of the relevant information. He didn’t find out about her quitting a week later. There is also no reason he couldn’t deal with getting extension etc. even while out of the country.

      2. Observer*

        Horses for courses.

        If someone is abusing you, you don’t have any obligation to give them further opportunities to abuse you. And you don’t have any obligation to give them an opportunity to block your escape.

        She didn’t shut the business down – he could have carried on from wherever he was.

      3. Michelle*

        And yet, despite the OP going to the extreme official quitting while her boss was out of the country, he’s STILL harassing her, and she’s STILL not free off his abuse. Seems like she was totally justified in being as removed as possible from the boss when she quit.

        This reminds me of when I broke up with my ex. I had one friend keep him busy out of the house, another helped me pack, and a third found me a place to stay with people I didn’t even know so he couldn’t find me.

        Under normal circumstances, breaking up with someone like that goes beyond rude and into crazy. But it makes sense when you know that the first time I tried to break up with him, he faked a suicide attempt.

        Crazy people rely on others to be polite, compassionate, and sane. They take advantage of your reluctance to push back. It’s not rude to protect yourself from crazy.

    6. Leenie*

      I don’t know. That sounds like a normal and effective way to leave an abusive relationship.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Thank you, that’s exactly what I came here to say. Under normal circumstances of course this would be unprofessional, but when dealing with a verbally and/or emotionally abusive person, I think this is not only acceptable but recommended to protect the safety and well-being of the victim. And the OP definitely sounds like they are in an abusive relationship.

      2. Kyrielle*

        Hmmm. I was wavering back and forth on whether it was fully professional, but this convinces me of it being reasonable in this case. (And whether it was professional or not, has nothing to do with whether the former boss can sue – or the fact that he’s clearly a loon _at best_.)

        Also, when did OP2 first give two weeks’ notice? And when did OP2 last give two weeks’ notice? It’s also possible to view this as “boss got OP2 to work X amount of time after they quit instead of just two weeks”. I’d think that if it’s been a year since the last attempt to give notice that argument doesn’t apply, but if the most recent attempt to give notice was actually recent, it does.

        And, again, even if that’s not the case, the boss has treated OP2 in a way that made it hard for them to leave.

        OP2 – for reference, although hopefully you never face this again: A perfectly reasonable response to the boss refusing your resignation might be, “Nonetheless, I am resigning, and that is my last day.” Followed by not showing up after your stated last day, and when the boss gets furious, reminding them that you gave two weeks’ notice, and that your last day was, as stated, X.

        But again, the boss should not have tried to refuse the original resignation. That’s really not an option they have. (Trying to bribe people out of it, or beg them not to, yes. Refusing it? No.)

    7. Observer*

      Considering the Boss’ reaction, it’s far from a flimsy excuse. The ex-boss is making threats and insisting the the OP has obligations that she most definitely does not have. If he tried that in person the last time(s) she tried to quit, it’s no wonder that she did it this way.

      If you want people to be nice, don’t treat them like garbage comes to mind here.

  20. Luke*

    #5 – In that situation,I would err on the side of caution and not state in any way that I’d graduated. It may seem harsh ,but that’s the fact of matters at this time. 99% complete is not equal to 100%.

    University bureaucracy can be an unpredictable thing ; you might have to take more time then expected to revise your thesis , or perhaps red tape will delay your graduation for another few months. If your employer is under the idea you have the degree or will have it by date X and that’s not the case when they verify it with the college registrar after Date X, big problems may result.

    1. Meryl*

      This is what happened to my sister – she expected to have her degree in May, but revisions and bureaucratic processes pushed that back to August. In her case, it wasn’t a huge problem – she had a job offer from a company where she’d interned and they had no issue with her “expected August 20XX” degree – but it was a pain in the butt for her after she’d planned to be done with student life 12 weeks earlier!

    2. WS*

      Agreed. My older sister got verbal confirmation from her professors and adviser that she met all the graduation requirements, walked at commencement, and then found out a few weeks later that somehow one of her courses couldn’t actually fulfill a specific degree requirement so she was missing 3 credits. At which point she had an offer contingent on providing proof of education which the school was now claiming she didn’t have.

      She ended up fighting with the university to accept that course as a substitution (I think her adviser went to bat for her as well) and got the job, but it took awhile and was pretty messy and stressful for awhile. I think you do need a caveat in there that you don’t know 100% that you’ve graduated. It sucks but I think it’s the safest course of action.

    3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Yep. I had a similar situation to the LW — I had a health crisis and got an extension for two assignments. My program only graduated folks in the spring, so while I left campus (and “walked”) in 2004 my degree is from 2005.

    4. Brett*

      Revisions are such a huge wildcard too.
      My own revisions took 72 hours. One of the other students in my lab had no revisions at all.

      Yet, someone else in the same lab with nearly the same committee never finished. Her revisions took over 18 months, and she ended up abandoning her program.
      And a fourth person in the lab ended up dissolving her committee because her revisions were so extension and completed her PhD (she was an MS student) with a different department.

  21. AdAgencyChick*

    OP4, my deepest sympathies. That would drive me BATTY.

    I don’t think it would be rude at all to bring the papers back to your boss.

  22. Kalamet*

    #2 Alison, is it true that the boss “can’t sue”, or is it just a ridiculous thing to sue over? IANAL, but I thought the US civil court system would let you sue anyone over basically anything. It doesn’t make the case valid, but if OP receives a real summons she shouldn’t ignore it.

    1. Aveline*

      You can’t bring a suit without legal grounds. If there are no legal grounds, you can file it, but it will be dismissed immediately. In some states, the other party can then ask you for attorney fees since you knew the suit was frivolous. Thus, it’s a very dangerous thing to do.

      There is a myth based on US television bullshit that anyone can sue for any reason. It’s a myth.

      In reality, bringing a successful lawsuit is hard. There are a lot of people who are severely injured and have just cause who never see a day in court.

      The whole concept that American sue over anything and are successful at it is Hollywood + right wing media bullshit.

      I’ve never seen a case that shouldn’t of went to trial go to trial. I’ve seen plenty that should’ve had a trial that never saw a day in court.

      The actual problem in the US is lack of access to justice for a lot of people and not people suing for bullshit reasons.

      1. paul*

        You still need to actually respond though. Yeah the case’ll be dismissed, but you really want to show up and say *why* it should be dismissed. Summary judgements suck.

          1. paul*

            That’s my point.

            If you don’t show up, you risk a summary judgement against you.

            If you do show up, or your lawyer shows up, should be an easy case to get dismissed with prejudice.

      2. krysb*

        This. You can file suit, but the court may not except it. We have a constitutional right to seek redress through the courts – that’s why so many suits are filed – but judges can decline to hear to any suit if there is no legal basis to stand on.

    2. LBK*

      If you can find a lawyer to bring the suit you can sue for whatever you want, so the boss will have to pony up a hefty retainer because I seriously doubt any lawyer is going to take a case this pathetic on contigency. Realistically, it’s not likely to end up materializing.

      Also, from a technical standpoint, yes, you can file a suit for anything, but colloquially I usually understand “Can someone sue me for x?/Can I sue for x?” to mean “Is there a law this violates that would make a lawsuit likely to succeed?” even if the literal answer isn’t the same.

      1. Aveline*

        It’s not just “likely to succeed.” That’s a valid point but separate from what is being raised here. You can file a suit for anything. If you aren’t breaking the law or can’t staw a case, you will be kicked out with prejudice at the first opportunity the judge has to do so.

        For example, I find your username offensive and file a court action against you. Your attorney would file stating there is no case and the reasons why. The judge would then agree and dismiss the case. That’s different for me suing you for allegedly running over my dog and setting my house on fire. Those are actual civilly actionable wrongs. Now, if you didn’t do them and weren’t even in the state on the day in question, my chances of success are pretty low.

        TLDR: there’s a difference between something not being a civally actionable wrong and something being actionable, but unlikely to succeed because the facts are made up.

        In this case, unless this employer lives in a very weird jurisdiction or there are highly unusual facts, this falls into the category of no civally actionable wrong.

        It is not a tort or civil wrong to quit a job unless thwre something more we don’t know.

        This is why it makes sense for the letter writer to hire an attorney and pay them $150 to write a very stern letter to the employer stating that he is threatening something that he can’t sue for.

        In my state, the bosses’ actions are something LW could sue for. Boss has no case (absent something unusual)

        1. LBK*

          …I think you misunderstood my comment, I was just talking about in the context of what people mean when they’re asking for advice from an advice columnist, not anything related to the law.

      2. MegaMoose, Esq.*

        Absent some really weird contract, I am pretty confident that any attorney taking the bosses’ case would stand a good chance of sanctions for filing a case like this. Take on too many cases like this and we’re talking professional discipline. We have an independent duty not to file baseless, harassing lawsuits and can face much harsher consequences for doing so than a layperson.

    3. Aveline*

      If anyone received a summons for any reason, go get theee to an attorney immediately.

      I’ve had plenty of spouses try to ignore our divorce filings thinking that that meant they could veto the divorce by inaction. It doesn’t work that way

      In this specific case, boss is full of hot air and is a bully. I bet that if the Lw pays an attorney $150 draft a cease-and-desist letter, it Will be the last to hear from their boss. I’ve drafted hundreds of letters like this. Never had one react by getting their own attorney and suing. if the boss had a case and intent to act on if, he’d already be taking legal action.

      He is just a big cry baby bully

      1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

        I forgot you were an attorney for a minute and was raising my eyebrows at your “plenty of spouses” comment. I mean, have all the spouses you want, but still! Happy Friday!

    4. Jessie the First (or second)*

      Given OP’s uncertainty about her rights and the law, it is important probably to emphasize that “can’t sue” does NOT mean the boss would be literally barred from filing a lawsuit, or that she could ignore any summons if he did file. The boss could file a lawsuit on his own, without a lawyer (so, it wouldn’t cost him money up front outside of filing fees to try to harass the OP).
      And if he did that, the OP would have to respond to the summons. But she would respond, presumably, with the help of a lawyer who would draft a quick “motion to dismiss” so that case could get thrown out immediately.

      People can *file* a lawsuit for any reason, but a lawsuit cannot proceed unless there is a legal basis for it OR unless the defendant neglects to respond to the summons.

    5. Jessie the First (or second)*

      Yeah, given the OP’s uncertainty/nervousness/ignorance (in a “I don’t know this” way, not a “you idiot” way) about her rights, I think it is important to emphasize that “can’t sue” means the boss has no legal basis for suing. But it does NOT mean that the boss would be literally barred from trying, or that if OP could ignore a court summons if she got one.

      Anyone can *file* a lawsuit, but it will only proceed if the person has 1) a valid legal theory for the lawsuit OR 2) the defendant doesn’t respond to the summons. If OP gets a summons, she can have a lawyer draft up a quick motion to dismiss and get the case tossed out, but if she ignores it, then she could get a default judgment against her even though the case is baseless.

      TL/DR: as Paul says, always always always respond to a summons. If the boss “can’t sue” then that means you get get the lawsuit dismissed right away. But you have to ask the court to do that.

      1. Jessie the First (or second)*

        Ugh, sorry about posting the same basic response twice. My computer is wonky today, and also I am super impatient. Probably mainly the second is to blame here.

    6. TootsNYC*

      He can sue.
      He won’t win.

      But he can sue, and some people have done such a thing as a way to continue to abuse the person they are tormenting. Because you now have to show up in court -every- time, or you “forfeit” or “abdicate” or whatever the terminology is, and that means the abuser gets to be in contact with you still.

      That’s why I like the idea of siccing the State Labor Dept. on him about the overtime, AND I agree with the idea of having an initial consultation with a lawyer (often those are fre) and finding out what they’d pay to send him a “cease and desist” letter.

  23. TotesMaGoats*

    #5-Technically, your degree has not been conferred. You do not have a master’s degree. Walking at commencement means…nothing. Sorry. It’s a celebratory event but does nothing to confer your actual degree. Most people at most colleges don’t have all the final grades in when graduation happens. It’s pretty normal. I had a student emailing me while I was lining up with the stage party because her final grade came in and she didn’t have the GPA to graduate. She still walked in the ceremony that was a couple hours later.

    You need to stay on top of your professor to get the grade entered. Your Registrar WILL NOT and CAN NOT confer your degree until all your grades are posted.

    1. Dazed and confused*

      This same thing happened to me when I was in graduate school. I knew my grades week before they were officially posted. My courses ended in July but my official “graduation” wasn’t until October 1st because that was the random school graduation date. So I had passed all my courses just lacked the updated transcripts. Sometimes bureaucracies don’t line up with reality. I’m sure OP probably has a better feel that us if she passed her courses.

    2. Experienced diploma orderer*

      I agree with this! I manage college graduation ceremonies. If our students are not 100% finished with their degree requirements on the day of graduation, their degree will not be conferred until the next semester. It doesn’t matter if the student finished the requirements the very next day, or two months later. In our case, you can “walk” in May’s graduation, but not actually “graduate” until August. And when an employer calls the school to verify a graduation date, they will use the August date.

      1. Amber T*

        I had no idea about this… this is all very interesting. I wonder how much a hiring manager would care that a date is wrong, specifically in a case like this, when it’s a May/August issue. Would I hiring manager consider this a ‘lie?’ My thought process would be, “she finished her coursework in May, but because of a delay with grades, it wasn’t made official.” As in, applicant wasn’t leading me on or attempting to misinform me, just didn’t understand weird, complicated regulations.

  24. Dazed and confused*

    #2 reminds me of the first job I had in high school. I was a cashier at a well known thrift store chain. It being a minimum wage job and the fact we were in a college town, there were a lot of college students that worked there. Each semester these students would give our assistant manager, Cruella, their class schedules so she wouldn’t schedule them on nights they had class. Well a coworker of mine, Devon, had class on Tuesdays nights. Devon’s partner had gotten fired three weeks before for getting into an argument with Cruella. To mess with him, Cruella started scheduling Devon on Tuesdays nights, even after he asked her to stop. Eventually she started scheduling him only days he had class. Well he told her that if she is going to schedule him on those days he’s not coming to work. After that she started going around gleefully saying how she was going to get Devon arrested for job abandonment? I was 18 and very impressionable so I called Devon and warned him not to come to the store. It wasn’t a far leap for me to make since after Devon’s partner got fired from the store and came back to do some shopping, Cruella called the cops on him for being in the store. I quit after six months, only 2 cashiers were left of the original six that worked there.

    1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

      Whaaaaaat? That is bonkers with a capital B and that rhymes with T and that stands for trouble.

    2. Amber T*

      Out of curiosity, did the cops do anything? I hope they reprimanded Cruella for wasting resources/false claim/whatever. That woman sounds like a nut case.

      1. Dazed and Confused*

        The partner left when they threatened him, so they never actually called the cops. He didn’t want to deal with Cruella’s drama anymore.

  25. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

    LW5, if you get called for an interview at this latest place, explain up front that your thesis grade is still pending but you expect to have your degree officially conferred sometime this summer, and apologize for the oversight.

    I think using “Thesis grade pending” or even “Expected Summer 2017” would suffice in this case.

    Stay on top of your professor, and if it gets too out of hand, mention that it is affecting your job search. Academics often don’t understand how non-academic employment works, and it sounds like your professor is trying to be thorough and wanted to wait until she had proper time to devote to this. While in some senses that’s laudable, it’s very unfair to you if it is dragged out for too long.

  26. Not Alison*

    Too bad that OP#3 employee doesn’t work with that gal from yesterday who wanted her co-workers to e-mail/talk to her about her Mom’s concussion. That duo sounds like it is similar to how they would prefer to talk about their private life at work.

    I’m with today’s OP. I prefer to talk about my private life with my friends and not chat-chat with co-workers about stuff in their private life. Sorry that I don’t have any good advice for OP.

  27. jhhj*

    I know AAM is generally answering legal questions in the US and specified that her answer was about the US, but — at least in Canada — if your boss has specific costs due to you providing insufficient notice, they can sue and win to collect those costs.

    1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

      I would suspect that’s connected to laws requiring a set notice period, right? I find those laws fascinating, having never worked outside of the US. My understanding is that mandatory notice protects both the employer and employee, so the provision you note wouldn’t be as harsh as it would seem to US ears?

      1. jhhj*

        Usually it is a set notice based on years of work for being let go, and “reasonable notice” for quitting. I don’t know the rules in all the provinces, but at least ON/BC/QC have this. For instance, in QC you need to give no notice for up to 3 months, 1 week for up to 1 year, 2 weeks for up to 5 years, 4 weeks for up to 10, and 8 weeks for 10+. (By notice, read any combination of pay and work.) But employees have to give “reasonable” notice — for instance, someone who had worked for 6+ years, gave 1 week’s notice and refused to work 2 more weeks as the company requested, ended up fined $1500.

        You also still have to pay out the notice period that an employee gives — if you say “I give notice in 3 weeks from now”, they need to pay the three weeks, whether or not they let you work. (I think if the legally mandated notice period is shorter, they only need to pay that.)

        But since unemployment benefits are also different here, there isn’t much fighting about that.

  28. boop the first*

    4. Is the printer at your desk? How are they getting there? That would drive me batty – I am so fussy about workspace organization that that wouldn’t work for me. I would also just take them to her desk.

    It’s odd that these things are so precious, but not so precious as to leave them lying around unaccounted for. I would do the box idea, though if it never gets picked up, that box would become a generic recycling box so fast manager can sift through the entire thing if she likes, but…

  29. Susan*

    #5 – I think, to be on the safe side, you should include “thesis grade pending” or something similar, because many employers will request transcripts and/or verify your degree in a background check, and you don’t want to look like you were trying to pull something over on them. If anyone asks about it, however, I don’t think you need to, or should, go into nearly as much detail as you put in this letter. All you have to say is that you are awaiting the final grade on your thesis from your professor and expect to have it by the end of June (or whenever). Don’t get into explaining how you turned in your thesis late and the professor didn’t have time to grade it the same day grades were due, or that she is making comments for a revision and having a more experienced professor look at it, etc. All of that detail kind of makes it sound kind of iffy and might make employers nervous about you.

  30. WS*

    OP #4 you have my sympathies, because my boss does the exact same thing. I actually just purged my desk a few days ago, but I still have two stacks of project files in the corner. If I try to bring the papers back to my boss he freaks out because they’ll mess up HIS desk (um, but they’re messing up MY desk right now?) so here’s what I found to help:

    1) I file papers myself I know he doesn’t actually need to refer to them again soon, because 99% of the time he forgets they’re on my desk and will check the appropriate file first. If I don’t know if I can file it but it’s only one paper (as opposed to a whole project) I’ll put it in his mailbox and most of the time it doesn’t end up back on my desk.

    2) I have designated the corner behind my computer monitor as “his corner”, because it’s an area that’s out of my line of sight and that I don’t use when I’m working on my own projects. His things stay there. If he puts them somewhere else on my desk, they get moved to the corner.

    3) Every few weeks I clean up my desk. Any of my boss’s projects that are on my desk (that he’s not referring back to on a semi-regular basis) get put in a file box, labeled, and tucked in the corner of my office by the door. Any loose papers either get put in his mailbox or given to the coworker whose project they’re actually for. My boss does this to EVERYONE in the office so we’re all used to get random stacks of paper from coworkers every once in awhile.

    4) I keep my portion of the desk meticulously neat. All of my papers are kept in file organizers, not piled on my desk, I don’t have any desk decorations so the excess “clutter” is kept down, and my boss’s papers are kept in a neat pile in that one corner. If anyone comments on his pile I reply with a cheerful, “Oh, we’re waiting on approval before moving forward with that project so I didn’t want to file it yet!” (but, again, all my coworkers understand my boss’s messes and I only occasionally get comments from external visitors).

  31. CM*

    OP#2: This is like your ex not accepting a breakup. They can yell and cry all they want, but they can’t force you to stay. Or sue you over it.

    And like an ex who starts blaming every problem on your character flaws, your boss is blaming you for problems that are his. He should have had a backup plan, and if he was depending on you so much that the entire business shuts down when you’re not there, he should have treated you a lot better.

    1. TootsNYC*

      The scary part is that people sometimes get pressured into feeling that they have to have “permission” from the person they want to break up with.

  32. whatwhat*

    HA I had a boss once who refused to accept my resignation, which was strange because she *really* did not like me. She acted as if my quitting was a possibility but not definite, even though I *handed her my letter of resignation which indicated my last day*.

    A few days later she was off-site and called me to ask if I “had made my decision yet”. I told her the decision had been made before I gave her the letter of resignation and that my last day remained firm as the final day I would be working there. She acted very surprised.

    I waited until the next week and then set an email to her and all our colleagues in the department, saying “As you know, I gave notice on [whatever date] and my last day will be [two weeks after the date I gave notice]. I am sorry I won’t be able to say goodbye to some of you in person due to summer schedules [I worked on a university campus]. [I followed this with some details of wrapping up my duties, where info could be found etc.]” I cc’d her boss.

    Needless to say although I suspected it, she hadn’t told anyone, and the stuff hit the fan for her as I now had only a few days left before the last day. Not my fault, not my problem. She didn’t threaten to sue though, that’s extra-cray.

    1. Kristine*

      Your boss liked your work and probably also you – she was just most likely an exacting and unforgiving control freak like the loons I have had. Relentless criticism is a form of dependency, I have found. In my case anyway, it was the exacting and unforgiving control freaks and the backstabbing bosses who became frantic and even tearful when I left. Heh, bye-bye! ;)

      1. whatwhat*

        I really don’t think she liked me, she was straight up abusive and instructed me to lie to co-workers, prospective students and visitors from an accrediting organization, and when I said I wasn’t going to lie to anyone for her, she said, “So you’re saying you’re refusing to do your job?” I said, “Are you saying that lying is part of my job?” and she replied, “Your job is whatever I say it is.” (and that was only part of the insanity). This was beyond being a control freak.

        I think she knew that our colleagues would know that I was quitting because of her (which I confirmed via in-person conversations with some of them later) and that it would make her look bad. But again, not my fault or my problem. It IS weird when someone who has been a toxic backstabber is upset that you’re leaving. She sent me an email before I left thanking me for all my work, which was a real WTF moment. Glad to be out of there. Buh-Bye! (She was forced out a few months later)

        1. Amber T*

          “Your job is whatever I say it is.”

          Was she a mafia leader? Because that’s the only time this might fly.

          1. whatwhat*

            She also told me I had to do someone else’s job in addition to my own (no change of title or salary though) and that no one must know about it. That was one of the things she wanted me to lie about.

            Yeeeeeeeeah, no.

            She also drank during the day, great quantities of wine. Sometimes she’d announce that she was opening a bottle and invite people to join her. There are many details I am leaving out here. It was BEYOND.

  33. #3 but opposite*

    Does anyone have advice on the opposite of letter #3? My boss is pregnant and it’s her only topic of conversation. I’m a pretty private person and have no interest in knowing the details of her uterine happenings. I’m happy for her but tired of talking about it!

    1. Is it Friday Yet?*

      Have you tried changing the conversation? What did the two of you discuss before? Maybe restaurants in the area, new shows on Netflix, etc.? At least you know it will be over at some point once her pregnancy ends.

  34. stephistication*

    #3. There was a woman in my office that commented on my pregnancy everyday, all day. Her favorite topic was about how small my stomach was, how I hadn’t gained weight and the fact that I didn’t need to wear maternity clothes – even at 9 months. It also seemed to bother her that I didn’t suffer from the normal pregnancy experiences like morning sickness, food adversions etc. Her observations were correct but she seemed so invested in what my experience was. It was almost like she was jealous.

    I too thought that I was being overly sensitive so I never shut it down. That was 6 years ago – the older me knows better. If it makes you uncomfortable then you are within your rights to shut it down. She is within her rights to figure out how to deal with it w/o subjecting you to her needs.

    She may mean you well but in the end she needs to respect your boundaries.

  35. Student*

    #5 – This is extremely common, but more so for PhD than Masters degrees (because not all masters programs require a thesis component, mainly). Extremely common.

    Just list your degree is “expected” on whatever month you expect to get it. Masters in Disasters from College of Hard Knocks – expected August 2017.

    If you have any genuine concerns about it, as in you are worried about getting your degree in hand appropriately due to technicalities, call up an appropriate college administrator to find out the potential impact, likely timeline, and any potential extra costs to you. Most places would just issue your degree in about 1 month from when your thesis is finalized, not caring at all about quarters/semesters. They might charge you for another credit-hour or similar, though, and hold the degree if you don’t pay. A handful of colleges issue them the next semester – jobs won’t care as long as they understand the degree is coming and have a decent idea when; they know this happens with Masters and PhD degrees all the time.

    Please note that most professors have no idea how timing of a degree impacts students financially or practically. Some do, but most will just do what’s personally convenient and expect the student to manage the impact or alert them if special haste is needed to avoid substantial financial impacts.

    1. Letter-Writer #5*

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment! I have found your last point to be insightful: when I followed up with the professor after the initial submission exchange, her reply suggested a fairly drawn-out process of working with another professor. I was very careful in my response to hit the right note between being very willing to do anything asked of me and conveying the information that this was my last tie to this region of the country and I was looking forward to moving on with my life. When I met with her after that, she was very understanding and said I could do the revisions remotely and they would only be minor. She actually sent them today, stating “well written with minor comments.” I hope to finish the revisions over the weekend and submit them Monday so hopefully this will all be over soon.

  36. ArtK*

    “I tried quitting before but the boss doesn’t accept it.”

    Alison, I think you should add this to your list of job myths. I had never heard of this attitude (in employer or employee) until I started reading AAM. Personally, I’d start quoting the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. Slavery and indentures are very explicitly banned in the US.

  37. Sabrina Spellman*

    #5. Don’t call your registrar’s office and ask about your status. There’s a lot of information that can’t be released over the phone. Your best bet is to order a transcript which will show your grade and whether you’ve been moved from an active student to a Graduate.

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