3 updates: the boss crush, the bad volunteer, and more

It’s officially update season! Throughout all of December, I’ll be running updates from people who had their letters answered here this year (or even earlier). We have a ton of updates this year — and I’m still taking more so please send yours in if you haven’t already.

Here are three to kick us off.

1. Should I tell my boss I’ve had a crush on him?

In the end, I didn’t tell him anything, just as you advised. On my last working day there, he gave me a tearful goodbye and a hug, which he then had quite some trouble disentangling himself from (because as you can imagine, I was not willing to let him go, so he had to kind of dance around the room trying to extricate me from his chest. How everyone stared!).

I deeply appreciate the advice that you and commentators gave me. I left that job to go into consulting work. Since then, he has thrown some work my way, for which I am grateful. Our contact is sporadic and very professional, and it will stay that way. I have to be honest: I miss him all the time, but the crush is lessening day by day.

2. I need to fire a volunteer (#2 at the link)

Your answer and the comments were very helpful. I ended up giving the volunteer a final chance to initialize the project. She did so, but was ineffectual for two meetings, and we got off to a slow start. At the third meeting, she announced another volunteer expressed interest in running the project, and she happily stepped down. I’ve not heard from her since, but she’s still listed on the website as the project leader, so my next task is to notify her of the formal “firing.” The new project manager is awesome, and the project is moving along wonderfully, so it all worked out in the end. Thanks again!

3. I’m a bad employee but there’s not much I can change

My son is actually doing a lot better this school year. The days I need to be late/absent have decreased significantly, although they do occasionally still happen. I also started to get better treatment for my own stress/depression, which has helped. Some of the things the commenters mentioned like the Tasker App and Family to Family helped a lot as well.

Even as things started to get better, work cracked down on me. I was given a long list (2 pages front and back) of rigid rules for a lot of things, including things that had only happened one time well into the past. Because some of them were almost impossible to conform to, I haven’t been 100% perfect on adhering, but I think my bosses see me trying hard and have been increasing my projects/responsibilities and have become much warmer toward me on a day to day basis.

That said, overall in our agency there’s been an increasingly nasty cultural shift that worries me. My bosses haven’t been directly involved, but our HR and Operations department has been implementing unpleasant changes. I’ve had issues with their enforcement of my FMLA – trying to force me to bring in medical documentation for *every* related absence, forcing me to recertify on a frequent basis based on flimsy or irrelevant reasons (the most recent was my son turned the minimum age to drive, and therefore I shouldn’t need to drive him to appointments anymore. Nevermind that he hasn’t yet taken driver’s ed). I know other people have been having FMLA issues as well.

We also are getting all kinds of technology upgrades that block or limit us in excessive ways – new web filtering software that blocks even work-related websites or stops you from uploading files on partner forms/functions, removing the ability to use flash drives, having to use and electronic id chip to log into our computers or to run the printers or scanners, shifting our intraoffice messenger to be archived as legal records, etc. All within their prerogative, but out of step with the other agencies here and much, much more strict than previously.

The most egregious thing happened to a former subordinate of mine, though. She was interviewed and favored for a position similar to mine in a different division. I was one of her references – she was an amazing employee. They offered her the job, and at that point she brought up that she has a mild chronic medical condition that requires a few ergonomic adaptations and in years when it’s worse, she sometimes needs FMLA. She asked how those would work, and instead of ordering a different keyboard and sending her to the medical compliance officer, they rescinded the job offer and reposted the job opening. In my position, I was seeing this happen from both sides, and I was horrified.

I’ve been looking to transfer to another agency, but I’m ineligible currently as my last review was negative based on my FMLA absences. I’m hoping this year’s, due next month, is better. Fingers crossed.

Me again. For the record, both of those things are flagrantly illegal (it’s illegal to take negative employment action against someone for FMLA use), and you and coworker could pursue that angle if either of you wanted to.

{ 190 comments… read them below }

      1. sunny-dee*

        She works for the government, and I know they generally exempt themselves from a lot of laws. Does that apply even to government roles?

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            We’re not talking title VII, though. It varies by statute for the feds (and sometimes there’s a parallel statute for the civil service), and it’s evaluated for commandeering at the State/local level. But antidiscrimination statutes are incorporated to the states, and the FMLA applies to state and local government under Hibbs.

            1. Call me St. Vincent*

              For federal employees, this would be covered under section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, which incorporates the non-discrimination aspects of Title I the ADA.

        1. Laura*

          The government (federal, at least–except the White House), is usually held to a much higher standard. If this is federal, there’s usually a union, and I’d be heading there if I were either of these employees, but especially if I were the one who had the offer rescinded. That was totally illegal under several laws. If there’s not a union, she should head to the EEOC.

          1. Susana*

            Yes, this. It’s not *government* that exempts itself from various laws (sexual harassment, anti-discrimination, wage and hour). It’s Congress, which os free to discriminate on the basis of color of socks if it wants. LW’s update makes the place sound so awful you don’t want to fight to work there, but it wold be great to sue their butts.

            1. sin nombre*

              Everyone’s free to discriminate on the basis of color of socks if they want. Unless “socks” was meant to be “skin” that’s not a protected category.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I think sunny-dee was referring to the way that state governments, for example, don’t have to follow the same overtime pay laws as other employers (they can pay out overtime in comp time).

            1. Your Weird Uncle*

              That’s really interesting….that explains why my husband’s job is so weird! I’ve wondered how that works for a long time.

            1. VermiciousKnit*

              I tried to get my former employee to file a claim. She did email the HR director noting that what had happened was illegal (and because we’re a government agency, that will be retained as a record), but is too focused on a job search and honestly too cynical about how corrupt our state government is to think it would do any good.

              I’m hesitant to file my own claim because they’re already retaliating against me, so what would happen if I made a stink about it??

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It applies to state and local gov. And it’s definitely illegal under the FMLA.

      2. Prince of Snarkness*

        Oh, what’s illegal and what’s enforceable are two things. They don’t fire/hold you back for your disabilities, they just enforce company policy and rules-lawyer you to death.

      1. Anonymoose*

        They retaliated against her alleged disability (I say alleged since it sounds more like a verbal request, not confirmed disability with doctors notes at that point). They did not retaliate against FMLA. They rescinded before it even got that far. Assholes.

        1. Duncan*

          They did retaliate against FMLA if it was a negative in the OP’s review and also prevented her from transferring to a different position because of that negative review. And the other person mentioned FMLA may be needed in the future before they rescinded the offer. The employer is also interfering with FMLA by requesting recertification on a basis not allowed by the law, such as the age of her child (who still meets the definition of a child under FMLA, so still qualifies regardless of whether they can drive.)

          So they have a good basis for both an FMLA retaliation claim and FMLA interference. I’d call the EEOC even if I planned to leave just because they need to be told formally to knock it off.

          1. Prince of Snarkness*

            They retaliated against his poor performance. At least that’s how it will look on paper. They’re not stupid. They are enforcing HR policy to the letter.

            1. VermiciousKnit*

              I’m a she, and I don’t have performance issues, even with an erratic schedule. 100% of the comments on my last review that were negative were worded something like “Vermy does a great job on XYZ, however, due to absences, this task has sometimes been delegated when Vermy should have been completing the task.” I commented in my section on the review that all the referred-to absences were FMLA related, but I didn’t fight the review at the time because I wasn’t intending to transfer at that time. Now I wish I would have.

    1. Jesca*

      This letter really resonated with me, because I am a single mother with full custody of both my younger children and very little support. My son also has severe anxiety and ADHD along with autistic traits. Working is so hard. So many people just don’t get the balancing act that I do. In the past, I have been such a high performer, that my mangers would allow me to work from home during sickness or emergencies or if I have to travel that day a great distance to see a specialist. My current job does not. They like me here even though nothing about my jobs actually requires me to be here at all. It is unfortunate. I even use all of my vacation days for this, but I still get heat for it. I have tried to apply for FMLA in the past, but was looked upon as though it was retaliatory of ME to suggest that! I just wanted to protect my employment. I feel for the OP here and she should know she is definitely not alone out there! Some times, I just sit alone and cry and really just consider giving it up all and collecting welfare. But not every place is like this!!! That is my driving factor. I will one day be out of it.

      I learned my lesson, and when I begin interviewing again, I will be asking about their flexibility. times, I just sit alone and cry and really just consider giving it up all and collecting welfare.

      1. Anonymoose*

        Oh sweet momma I hear you. I’m actually the disabled one who has been holding on desperately to my full time employment (despite serious lacks of face time in the office) because I personally just don’t want to be ‘that person’ who quits and is put ON disability. I’ve always been type A and the go-getter, and the utter change in my experience has been incredibly disheartening.

        I had an epiphany over Thanksgiving that I am basically just slowly killing myself by continuing to insist on struggling here, and no half time FMLA schedule was going to cut it any more. Hard decisions, you know? BUT, at soon as I decided that I was leaving soon, I got excited thinking of how I would fill in that free time with work that I could do one my own schedule. Look up UpWork. Lot’s of freelance gigs for a wide variety of industries. It might work better for your current situation. :)

        At some point you’ll get an a-ha moment and find your solution. It’ll get better but it may be a struggle before that happens. Good luck!

      2. Close Bracket*

        Jesca, I’m so sorry. You are the best judge of your situation, but since FMLA is not retaliatory on the part of the employee, I wonder if hiring a lawyer to advise you and reapplying is worth your time. I’ve had trouble with applying for FMLA, too, so I know it’s not always a hill you want to die on (and lawyers are expensive).

        You are on the right track applying to other jobs. Just a cautionary note bc sometimes desperation interferes with our better judgement (and sometimes desperation recognizes our better judgement and tells it to take a flying f***), don’t ask about flexibility until you have a written offer in hand. Then keep in mind that FMLA doesn’t kick in until you have been at your workplace for a year (and maybe there is a minimum size of company bf employers are required to give it).

  1. Managed Chaos*

    “he had to kind of dance around the room trying to extricate me from his chest. ”

    I just laughed at my desk and had to try to cover it with a cough.

    1. Rainy*

      Oh jeez, I just got such a stricken look when I read it. I’ve been the extricator in that situation and it was weird and unpleasant.

      1. SometimesALurker*

        Long hugs are great when no one feels the need to extricate themselves! But I’ve been on the receiving end of an unwelcome-ly long *handshake* that I had to kind of wriggle around to get out of after what felt like a full minute, and even that was weird and unpleasant.

        1. hbc*

          Ugh, yes, the handshake-turned-handholding. Totally not cool to turn a completely professional gesture into an intimate one.

        2. Anonymousaurus Rex*

          This is a cultural thing! When I used to train the military on cross-cultural interactions this was one thing we taught them how to get comfortable with in some places.

          1. SometimesALurker*

            Interesting! I’d be interested to know what cultures do this as part of regular interactions. Do you know if there are subcultures in the US that do this? The time I’m thinking of, my guess is that it was not a cultural thing.

            1. snow in the desert*

              I live in the Arab world, and hand-holding and prolonged touching is very much a thing here (between men and men — not between men and women, which is shied away from). I can imagine Western Army troops might need some training on how to handle tribal leaders wanting to to demonstrate their good intentions by holding on to their hands.

              Touching and hand-holding among women is also very common here, for what it’s worth. It sort of leads me to extrapolate that in a highly gender-segregated culture, demonstrative intimacy between people of the same sex might get cranked up… But then again there are lots of gender-segregated cultures that are not particularly touchy, so who knows, really.

          2. Jule*

            It can be, and it can also be unwelcome touching. It is good and important to trust people’s intuitions on when they have been touched in an unwelcome manner. That’s kind of what this whole news cycle has been about.

            1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

              Totally agreed. But it’s a common cultural thing in many parts of Central Asia and the Middle East. As SometimesALurker says above–this may definitely just have been inappropriate.

      2. Long Time Reader, First Time Poster*

        When my boss laid me off for political reasons, he REALLY wanted to have a “feel good” ending for himself even though it was an incredibly humiliating and difficult experience for me. I had to go in on the weekend to get my stuff, and he sat there chatting cheerily at me as I gathered everything up, and even tried to get me to have a beer with him (just, no!). He helped me carry everything out to the car, and as I said my goodbye I decided to be the bigger person and put my hand out for a handshake. Instead, he fucking HUGGED ME AND WOULDN’T LET GO FOR AGES. It was so horrible and unpleasant. This was many years ago and I’m still mad.

        1. Jan Finch*

          I had a boss who did that on my last day. She had treated me like shit the whole time she was there, and now acting like she’d miss me. It was in front of other people, so as much as I wanted to yell at her to get her hypocritical hands off me, I was afraid of seeming like a rude bitch, so I just went stiff without returning the embrace until she got the message. Still mad at her for putting me on the spot like that.

      3. LiveAndLetDie*

        That sounded so, so inappropriate to me, but if he’s still throwing work her way maybe it wasn’t as horrifyingly awkward and bad as I am imagining.

      4. Boss crush*

        LW1 here.

        Thank you for your comment, it really made me think. I wonder if I should offer my former boss a pre-emptive apology, at the very least. He doesn’t seem to have been too disturbed by what happened, but I have no idea of how it really affected him, and I think it might be better to clear the air as soon as possible. I’ll call him and tell him that there’s something I need to discuss with him in person. And if he consents to meet with me, I will offer him a heartfelt apology for my behavior.

        Thank you again.

        1. Heyanonynony*

          No. Don’t do that. Just let it go. But if you feel you must apologize, you can do it in an email.

          No need for an in-person meeting. At least, I’ll bet, no need on his end.

        2. Robots*

          LW1, I agree that you should just acknowledge to yourself that that hug was awkward and not a good idea, and decide not to do it again. Trying to follow up, especially calling an in-person meeting, would push it into weirder territory. A nice thought, and nice to see you took the reactions seriously, but move on this time.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Whoa, that was not my reaction. That must have been really uncomfortable for the boss, and incredibly inappropriate of the OP. I’m glad she’s not working there anymore.

      1. Managed Chaos*

        I agree it was inappropriate, but the visual it gave me of him with a horrified look trying to extricate himself was amusing.

      2. MuseumChick*

        I agree, very inappropriate and I wonder how different the reactions to that sentence would be if the genders were reversed.

        1. Agatha_31*

          Yeah I got seriously uncomfortable reading that, that whole paragraph reads like an extract from a book (“how everyone stared!”?) written from the pov of a socially awkward person who sees themselves as coy and cute but is actually inappropriate and kinda scary.

          1. Parenthetically*

            YEP SAME. Gadzooks. “How everyone stared”?!? This is… not the ending you want, LW, promise promise.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Yeah. It gave me the same rush of “whoa, not ok” that I would have if the genders were reversed. I guess I don’t find it as funny (although I can see why folks can see it as funny and inappropriate), but I think that’s because I keep imagining myself in the boss’s shoes, and it makes my stomach turn.

      4. Courageous cat*

        Yeah, I was surprised she was comfortable being so open about that detail. If he was trying to get out of it, then that’s not a good look.

    3. Mb13*

      Great thing that the op is a woman and not a man force hugging his female boss. Because then we’ll all be crying not laughing.

      1. pope suburban*

        That’s a pretty ungenerous assumption. I don’t think anyone here feels that what OP did was appropriate, on the grounds of both professional etiquette and it being wrong to initiate/prolong physical contact with someone who doesn’t want it. But a lot of people deal with nervousness or inappropriate situations by laughing, or by finding the genuine humor in human failings that we all have. Speaking for myself, forced hugs are always inappropriate, and only get more and more so when there are power dynamics like boss/subordinate in play. I don’t think I’m alone there. I’m unclear what the intent of this comment was, but it might be a wise time to sit down and do some soul-searching.

        1. JHunz*

          Seems to me that you’re being pretty ungenerous yourself. It’s much less likely that the top-level comment would have been posted at all if the genders were reversed. Pointing out that inappropriate touching by someone with an unreciprocated crush is not particularly humorous doesn’t seem like something to chide someone over.

          1. Delphine*

            That OP wasn’t pointing out that it was not humorous–other commenters have done that. That OP was suggesting that women only care about inappropriate touching when it’s done by men.

            Considering how pervasive sexual harassment of women is and always has been, with many people opposing the idea that it’s even harassment, I don’t think a single person on this website finding that situation humorous is a multiple-comment-worthy double standard.

        2. Jaguar*

          I don’t see it as necessarily wrong. I’m not the hugging type, but I’m fine with it if people are that type. I’ve been on the receiving end of hugs that go longer than I’m comfortable with (from men and women). But, in my case, I wouldn’t want it to stop because I place more value on letting people express who they are openly with me than the level of discomfort I feel – I’m willing to sacrifice a level of comfort to let people act freely around me. Obviously, the level of discomfort varies from person to person and individuals should take that into consideration, but I could easily put myself in OP1’s old bosses’s position and act the same way he did and it’s fine (like, I would do the move around the room thing as a way of diffusing the awkwardness of the situation and possibly save OP1 some embarrassment by communicating that I’m not offended by it, which is how I read the ex-boss’s actions). I’m somewhat saddened by the idea that everyone has to act more stoic with everyone else. Maybe it’s the only ethical way forward, but it feels like something valuable is being lost.

  2. Courtney*

    #1 – I’m failing to find the perfect kind words to point this out, but refusing to let go of someone you’re hugging when they clearly want you to let go is not great. Even more so in the workplace.

    #2 – So glad everything worked out!

    #3 – Is it even legal to rescind a job offer for that reason?

    1. EddieSherbert*

      #1 – yeah, that was a funny sentence :) but horribly awkward to imagine actually happening. Probably for the best that you no longer work for him (it just sounds terribly uncomfortable for him). Best of luck in your new endeavors!

      #3 *I’m pretty sure it isn’t…
      (*I’m not a lawyer)

    2. MuseumChick*

      Re #1, yes, I didn’t find that sentence funny, I found it mortifying on boss’s behalf. If you reversed the genders I think people would be having a much stronger reaction.

      1. Courtney*

        Yeah, I agree. I’ve had made coworkers being “playful” and refusing to stop touching me in a way that they thought it was funny. It earned them a very serious warning from the boss that they were to leave me the hell alone and if they so much as looked at me the wrong way, they were fired.

      2. A Turtle Without A Shell*

        Hoping this won’t be construed as piling on…but just a general statement:

        I look forward to a time when we can stop “switching genders” to evaluate behaviors as problematic. I see this all the time in stories about teacher/student relationships, domestic abuse where the victim is male, etc.

        I hope you know I one hundred percent support your intentions! I just think this is the first step toward combating sexism: stop the mental gymnastics to “see” things as problematic. Does that make sense??

        1. Courtney*

          I think that MuseumChick (like me) is saying that she already found it to be problematic as it occurred. But for some it doesn’t occur to them that the not letting go is inappropriate until someone asks them to imagine it happening to a female. But yes, I agree with you that it shouldn’t be necessary,

        2. Elder Dog*

          Hugging your boss too long when he is likely larger and stunreciprocatedronger than you as well as possesses more power is not the same as your boss hugging you too long. Maybe we need to start looking for better terms and phrases than ‘sexual harassment’ that don’t emphasize the sexual part, because it’s not about unreciprocated sexual desire. It’s about dominance and the imbalance of power. Calling it sexual is not just inaccurate but it also puts woman in the one-down position as the ones who are assumed to be “done to” rather than the “doers.”

            1. JessBee*

              Man, I’m a little disappointed that stunreciprocatedronger was just a typo and not one of those fabulous compound German words meant to describe “the feeling when someone smaller than you is hugging for longer than is socially or personally acceptable and you’re trying to extricate yourself politely.”

              1. Boss crush*

                LW1 here, and I’m afraid I burst out laughing when I read this! Because there was indeed a big size difference, 5ft vs. 6.4. It must’ve looked so strange. Like a squirrel clinging to a tree, or something. Oh dear.

        3. Lissa*

          Also a good part of the time, when someone says “oh, there’d be such a bad reaction if it was a man hugging a woman” it isn’t even true. There’s always people who will say “you misunderstood him” “he’s probably just awkward” “you’re overreacting” regardless of the genders…

        4. Close Bracket*

          We can stop gender flipping situations when the playing field between the genders is even.

  3. Lynca*

    “I’ve been looking to transfer to another agency, but I’m ineligible currently as my last review was negative based on my FMLA absences. ”

    What the eff? I’ve never had a job that counted FMLA absences against your performance. I actually question whether they can do that.

    1. ArtK*

      I think the point of FMLA is that they can’t. The whole thing was set up to give workers better protection against workplace retaliation when they have major life events.

    2. ss*

      It is illegal to use FMLA absences as part of negative performance reviews. You have a legal case if you have documentation showing that they used the FMLA absences as part of the review and used it to deny you employment opportunities.

      I’m not sure if AAM allows links in replies, but here are some references:
      The official federal website for FMLA:
      https://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs77b.pdf (4th bullet under prohibited conduct).

      Other supporting articles:

      1. Candi*

        Useful links are always allowed. But every single link goes through moderation because that’s the easiest way to sift out the spam every site inevitably gets hit with.

        Although there are a couple comment threads in older (like 2012 and earlier) before she started doing that, where the commentators found the spam posts before Alison noticed.

        AAM commentators. Spam post. Yes, it was hilarious.

  4. mia*

    #1 – Maybe if I missed something, but if you guys were both interested in each other AND single, why can’t you get to know each other/date now that you don’t work for him? I’d ask him for dinner to catch up.

      1. Boss crush*

        In the waaaay distant future I will ask him out for coffee or lunch just to catch up with him and to say thanks again. We might even become friends. But that won’t happen for a good while.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        This makes a lot more sense now, my thoughts were along the same lines as Mia. I understood why she shouldn’t confess the crush while she still worked there but it didn’t seem like a big deal to go for it once she no longer worked there. Since he is gay yes she should definitely let this crush die down.

        1. Anion*

          Yep, that was my first thought/suggestion to the original letter, too! But since he swings the other way, confessing would only make her look pathetic and destroy the friendly, professional relationship they have now.

  5. Wendy Anne*

    #2 – Is there really a need to contact the volunteer to formally “fire” them? She stepped down so she knows she’s not the PM anymore. I would just contact whoever is in charge of the website and have the information changed.

    1. OP #2*

      She stepped down from the project, but she never stepped down as the webmaster, so I can’t exactly do what you suggest. We’ll need to find another website manager, hence the reason for letting her know I plan to do just that.

      1. MerciMe*

        Archive the pages first, so she can’t nuke the site on her way out. Speaking from experience….

    2. SignalLost*

      I guess it depends on whether the goal is to redirect queries about the project, in which case just change the site content, or sever ties with the volunteer, in which case call her and tell her.

    3. PersephoneUnderground*

      I’d find a softer phrasing than “fire” even if there are other roles you want her to pass on to something else. Since it’s a volunteer role, say something like “since Xavier is the new head of the X project, we’ll need to transition the web master role for that over. Do you have any files that would be useful to him, or other passwords he should have? Thanks!” or, depending what’s applicable “We know you’ve been busy lately, and Susie just let us know that she has a lot of free time to dedicate to the website. I think it will be better if you shift to a normal volunteer role so you can stay involved, but she can take over the heavy workload of running the website. Thanks for all your help!”


    #3: Umm, your agency needs to be reported. ASAP. Retaliating against FMLA use is, to my understanding, super illegal.

    I hope you get a positive review so you can transfer. And please report these jerks on your way out.

    1. Lala*

      Yeah, this is the sort of thing that you–or at the very least, your coworker whose job offer was rescinded–could easily lawyer up for. It’s pretty blatant retaliation.

  7. Lady Phoenix*

    #3 Consult a lawyer and start job hunting. Your company is pulling some massively illegal bullshit and hurting you because of it. If they refuse to transfer you after retracting their illegal shit, you need to take the nope train to FuckThIsShitsville.

    1. You're Not My Supervisor*

      The problem with job hunting is that you don’t qualify for FMLA until you’ve worked somewhere a year (at least that was the case in my experience, when I had my baby last year). So changing jobs when you rely on FMLA to keep a job is problematic.

      1. sstabeler*

        That may or may not be true, but to be honest, I suspect it would be more “jump before you’re pushed”- the pattern of behaviour is characteristic of efforts to force someone out of their job, so it’s a good idea to job hunt in a situation like that so that you aren’t fired without having options.

      2. Lance*

        That is a fair point, but it’s difficult when the job itself is turning problematic because of/in spite of FMLA. That said, I would advise job hunting, on the caveat that OP should be prepared to let interviewers know she may have some difficulties arise surrounding her son/other issues.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        The FMLA and ADA likely apply to the candidate, though. It sounds like she may have been working within the same agency but applying for an internal promotion, in which case she’s still FMLA-eligible (i.e., the 1200 hours clock hasn’t reset). But even if the subordinate didn’t fall within FMLA, a chronic illness that impacts her health enough to require intermittent leave often (but not always) meets the definition of impairment of a major life function/activity. And the ADA certainly covers discrimination in hiring.

    2. always in email jail*

      Yes. I’m not normally one to jump to “get a lawyer!” because I know that is time-consuming and expensive and not easy for a lot of people to do (especially if you’re already worried about missing work!) but this sounds like blatant FMLA interference.

  8. Jilly*

    #3 – as terrible as your agency sounds for FMLA retaliation, the IT security stuff is pretty standard at the federal level. I am an offsite contractor, but when I do go onsite for whatever reason, I need my badge to log on to a computer (I can’t plug my work laptop issued by my company into anything other than a wall outlet and have to use my mobile phone as a hotspot so I rarely bring it) and it is absolutely forbidden to plug anything other than an encrypted flash drive issued by the agency into the agency computer (flash drive, phone charger, etc). Because of the nature of our work, they do have the internet filters set at a pretty low level so we can access what we need to.

    1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

      Same. I’ve done projects in the defense sector (albeit in another country than the US) and oh boy, was it annoying. But the security stuff made sense, y’know?

      I had a lengthy email thread with the global IT security department at my firm AND at the defense to try to get someway for me to be able to use a flash drive when I was there. In the end I gave up. (It took months for a client computer to arrive and I needed to get files from my computers to theirs and I couldn’t email them. And couldn’t use a flash drive. Fun times.)

    2. Anon.*

      Yes, exactly. Web filtering, no flash drives, more secure logon. That’s all pretty much standard, and not excessive at all. Irritating while you are getting used it, sure. But, standard.

      1. JessaB*

        Yes and when they first engage the filters you have to make notes and notify them of work required stuff that is getting blocked. They have to play tweak the filters until they work as needed. Takes awhile but if you’re actually being blocked from doing work required things, just tell them.

        If they don’t want you doing it that way, then they’re on notice that they have to give you another way to do the thing. Otherwise they can whitelist the site/procedure in question. They may have blocked some things temporarily whilst they sort out the security issues.

        And reconfiguring IM traffic to be discoverable isn’t at all odd, many agencies realise that their stuff could be subjected to discovery actions or FOIA or any other need to produce the records. Making it easier to do that is a good idea.

        1. Carlee*

          I work for the Feds and alerting IT that the internet filters are blocking you from accessing work-related website happens ALL THE TIME. You just call IT, who unblocks in for you one website at a time.

          (I am not a computer-y person at all, but surely it must be possible to create filters that can tell the difference between multilateral HIV/AIDS initiatives, studies/reports related to such initiatives and porn. Like, if it’s on a United Nations or WHO website, it probably isn’t pornography).

          My personal favorites include:

          – at USAID, websites related to global public health initiatives (Global Fund to Fight TB, AIDS and Malaria, WHO’s 3×5 initiative to provide anti-retrovirals to the HIV-positive in developing countries, etc) got flagged as “inappropriate” as filters mistook them for porn
          – in a trade policy position, access to a global trade data website (that my department pays big bucks to subscribe to) was flagged, also as porn. Because accessing stats on Chinese imports is, unfathomably, too sexy?

    3. Katastrophreak*

      Came here to say this. This year, specifically, is a big IT security push that is requiring all the things you mentioned in your update (electronic chip to log on to all computers/printers, no external devices like USB or phone plugged in to laptop/computer, etc). The deadline for implementation is coming up soon, and Federal components not in compliance or well on their way to compliance are facing fines and other fun stuff.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I agree. I’m in banking and this is all standard stuff. Sure, it was a pain coming from a much smaller, more lax bank, but I see the value in doing the things the way we do.

    5. Porygon-Z*

      Agreed. The web filtering at my agency isn’t too bad (occasionally I can’t get to a forum or something when I’m searching for solutions to programming problems, but that’s about it), but I log onto my computer and use the copiers with my smart card and nothing that isn’t approved can be plugged into my computer (and flash drives aren’t approved ever). We can’t have any personal electronic devices that have the ability to record or store data in the building either.

    6. Goya*

      Agreed. We have our own wireless access so that it’s considered secure when off site, as well as key chain log-ins.

    7. Jilly*

      The only issue I have is that in addition to going through building security, the spaces were the cubicles and offices are also require a badge to open the door. So when you have to go to the bathroom, you have to remember to take your PIV out of the reader so you can get back in. That’s why there are signs on the door as you are about to exit: “Did you remember your badge?”

      1. Porygon-Z*

        We have that at my agency too. There, it’s definitely a feature, not a bug. They always emphasize to take out your smart card whenever you’re away from your machine to prevent unauthorized access. If you accidentally leave it in, somebody will usually take it and then give it back to you once you return to your cube.

    8. Bryce*

      Back in the 90s/early 00s where my dad worked they would epoxy up any port that wasn’t specifically in use for security reasons. Fortunately I worked in a less secure area and could plug in headphones for music while I did gruntwork.

    9. Anion*

      Yes, and as a taxpayer, I can’t disapprove of the intra-office messages being archived as legal documents, either. They *are* legal documents, and they belong to us.

      1. Long Time Fed*

        Actually, many instant messages will be considered non-records if they are personal in nature and do not need to be maintained or archived. We can freely delete anything that is not work related, to include the, “I’m leaving for lunch, be back soon,” messages. We cannot delete anything that relates to our work.

    10. VermiciousKnit*

      I realize, which is why I said that I know these things aren’t totally unheard off, just that they are far, far more stringent than other agencies in our government, and thus it creates issues all the time when we can’t get to websites, we can’t use google docs, we can’t email them the presentation we’re going to jointly show tomorrow, and it’s an all-around huge pain in the rear.

  9. LilLamb*

    That is so illegal it made me angry. I’m so sorry OP. Also, doesn’t rescinding a job offer after a request for accommodation (the keyboard) also violate the ADA? So they’re violating MULTIPLE laws here

    1. MCM*

      # 3 .. I have been trying to write this and keep getting kicked out. Reference you comment “but our HR and Operations department has been implementing unpleasant changes. I’ve had issues with their enforcement of my FMLA – trying to force me to bring in medical documentation for *every* related absence, forcing me to recertify on a frequent basis based on flimsy or irrelevant reasons (the most recent was my son turned the minimum age to drive, and therefore I shouldn’t need to drive him to appointments anymore. Nevermind that he hasn’t yet taken driver’s ed). I know other people have been having FMLA issues as well.”

      You shouldn’t be required to do re-certifications. The only additional paperwork you would be submitting would be an extension of the FMLA, an increase in the estimated number of hours you are out of the office, or if you are going from being absent part of the time, to being on FMLA fully for the remainder of the 12 weeks. This can also nickle and dime you to death. Every time you have submit a new form, you may have to pay for a doctor’s note.

      Please go see a lawyer. They are so off in the behavior, that a lawsuit should be filed. At least make an appointment with a labor attorney and get an idea of your writes. I suspect that these people might be the people that will terminate you after you return from FMLA. Those 2 pages are the beginning of a paper trail that they are starting. Protect yourself. Protect yourself !!

      Your co worker should file a lawsuit. All of you should. She’s not going move forward with their attitude, and the same for you. I’m afraid that they’ll terminate you after your FMLA is over. Also document, document. Send everything that happens to you off site (your private e-mail address) with a date & time stamp.

      1. Nep*

        As a person who’s run FMLA for a department in a government agency before: the recertification is certainly allowed if we believe that there’s an abuse of the FMLA system. We could even request it monthly. I’m not saying that it’s a cool move, just one that’s permittable.

        Everything else, though, is bullshit.

        1. MommyMD*

          Recertification is allowed and so is requiring doctor’s note, even if it’s a jerk move. There is a ton of FMLA abuse out there which can result in termination.

        2. MCM*

          Isn’t it extremely hard to prove that FMLA is being abused. Say they posted photos on Facebook of them jogging, when they are out on FMLA with back issues, etc. People have seen them running around town, shopping or went on a trip while out on FMLA.

          Doesn’t there have to be a reason to suspect abuse, versus operating on the assumption that it’s being abused? I think it would be hard to prove that your child is having a panic attack and needs your help in this situation.

          1. Nan*


            I’m not on FMLA, and I have back issues. Some days, it hurts like a wicked biznitch to sit, stand, or walk. But I can still run. So, yeah, I could be off because my back hurts, and be out running double digit miles. You don’t know someone’s situation til you know it.

            1. MCM*

              I have pinched nerves in my neck. It flares up every 5 – 6 years since the original injury. I had to do intermeniant FMLA for the first time, and the two additional flare ups. When I was first injured it was terrible. I would get motion sickness in elevators and driving, or getting up as soon as I get out of bed if I would move too fast. I was throwing up every few miles driving to work, if I could do that much. I had a coworker get really ugly with me about it, thought I should be able to do the pain pills & physical therapy. I had to do the pain blockers so that I could do the physical therapy. I had to get past the vomiting and dizziness. Hard to drive if you have to stop every little bit to throw up. This person saw me in the parking lot a few times throwing up while hanging of the car. I had the shakes so bad it wasn’t funny. There are some people that have no empathy for others at all. It’s an inconvenience to them and they operate on a narrow scope.

              I’m lucky I can do the pain blockers along with physical therapy and it will not bother me for a long time. But it enabled me to be out physical therapy 3 days a week, along with time off for the pain blockers.

              NAN … I bet you could be in worse shape without the running. You are right you never know, but someone would question it if you were out on FMLA.

          2. Xarcady*

            I’ve gone shopping while out on a sick day. There was no other way to get my medicine and some ginger ale. If I were out on FMLA, I would also be out shopping and running errands, because there is no one else to do those things for me.

            You can be in a medical situation where you can’t work, but are still able to get to a drug store or supermarket.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          MCM is correct, however, that excessive requests can constitute FMLA interference. The FMLA allows employers to request recertification and doctors’ notes, but it doesn’t provide carte blanche on the frequency, type, etc.

      2. Lava*

        Yeah this is weird. I have an intermittent FMLA myself. I recertify about every 3-6 months. I don’t need doctors notes for fmla days because that’s the point of an fmla.

        My boss and grand boss never had a person with one before and did some shifty things at first that culminated in a meeting with hr on speaker. Didn’t end well as they never told her I had an fmla and I finally lost it and said that what they were doing was retaliation and not okay. The only explanation I can think of was they’re obsessed with things being fair and thought I just shouldn’t be able to have accommodations. The weirdest thing they did was tell me I wasn’t allowed to tell other people why I was out for fmla. So I’d get people who were really mad at me and then kind of puzzled and mad when I told them what was going on. Everyone knows now.

    2. Candi*

      I’m sure the EEOC would LOVE a report through their web site. How often do they get such egregrious -and therefore highly prosecutable- cases handed to them on a silver platter? If there’s any hard/digital proof, the agency may just as well start writing the settlement and fine checks now.

  10. Interviewer*

    OP3, I administer FMLA every day for my job. I saw red when I read your post and took about 2 hours to calm down. My heart hurts, and now my head does, too. I cannot even believe a federal agency requires you to document absences for intermittent FMLA, especially when you’re probably not going to a doctor most of the time. Can you just give them a copy of your original Certification, with a sweet smile on your face? There’s so much case law to back you up, too. And that recertification request, when your son became old enough to drive – oh my god, I would have absolutely lost it on them. Ugh ugh ugh, off to go punch some holes in the wall for you. And then giving you negative reviews for FMLA absences – someone please send these people to one dang FMLA training session STAT before the federal government gets sued to oblivion by everyone in your office who has ever had an FMLA issue!

    Please go talk to a lawyer outside of your office, don’t let them call you or email at work, but seriously get your ducks in a row now. Everything they’re doing is wrong. All of it. You should not be panicking about balancing your care for your son and your workload. They’re seriously violating your FMLA rights under the law. Start taking notes, start taking copies of stuff home, and do not let your current negative reviews stop you from doing what you want to do.

    1. Close Bracket*

      Oh, you are the person I should have asked before posting my own question! If you don’t mind, here it is:

      I’m more familiar with ADA than I am with FMLA. Under ADA, if your disability interferes with performing core job functions, or if the accommodation is not “reasonable”, you can be let go, and ADA will not protect you.

      Is FMLA really so broad that even when your absences interfere with your job function, that you still cannot be let go for using it?

  11. Lady Phoenix*

    Op 3. Get thee to a lawyer-ee cause something stinks in the state of denmark. And start job hunting too, cause chances are that all the shit is gonna hit the fan and everything will be razed with dragon fire. By the time the damage is done, I hope you will under the safety of a better job.

  12. Lunchy*

    OP3 – Just some words of encouragement for your son (and you too!). Don’t worry about not being able to drive if you don’t feel mentally up to it. I’m in my twenties and still don’t have a license due to spatial issues and anxiety stemming from my mom getting into a bad car accident when I was in 8th grade that permanently damaged her left arm, hand included. You’re not alone if you feel like there are things “most people” are doing that you “should be.” You don’t have to do anything except breathe, drink, eat, and sleep. You’re not “weird” or “broken” or whatever (Mom was told, “Lunchy’s…different…” by my teachers when she asked why kids were bullying me).
    You’re you, you’re great, and you’re obviously very loved. Keep on.

  13. Goya*

    So much crap from the company that does not sound legal in the least. Some of it sounds pretty standard (IT stuff).
    So happy that things are getting easier for the OP.

    General question though, at what point does business have the ability to say “no more”? I am SO grateful that I have a flexible boss, FMLA options, and haven’t had to (and hopefully never will) have to deal with a serious issue like this. But a business still has a business to run – no matter how sympathetic they are to their employees/co-workers. My family member had a major health issue this year (tl;dr – brain damage from an infection). His company is too small to qualify for FMLA, but the owners have been FABULOUS working with his situation. Hopefully he will eventually be able to return to work, but there may come a time when the company will have to say “enough” and I would not blame them one bit.

    1. always in email jail*

      There’s people on here more knowledgeable than me in this area, but I’m pretty sure in my agency they cannot say “enough” until someone has used up all of their leave and FMLA (and is not on any sort of disability). At that point, the individual would be requesting leave without pay (outside of FMLA) and that request could be denied.

    2. Kyrielle*

      About 12 weeks, if they’re subject to FMLA, is the bare minimum. Note that they have to preserve your job or a substantially equivalent role (*unless* changes would have eliminated it regardless, but they’re going to avoid that if they can, because it’s easier to avoid the appearance of retaliation – unless you’re OP3’s employer, apparently, they’ve got the retaliation down pat!). Doesn’t mean they can’t shuffle things around a bit and you end up in a different role, though. (Although for intermittent FMLA, it’s probably not worth it. Out for 12 weeks straight, it might be.)

      That assumes no extra state law. When you’re dealing with maternity and Oregon or California (and possibly others), for example, it can go up.

      If they can fill in with existing staff (or adding temps), it’s nice to keep it open as long as they reasonably can. (But also, hopefully short- and long-term disability insurance are in play, in case those are needed.)

    3. Goya*

      Thanks for the info! Like I said, thankfully I’ve never had to use FMLA, so I was unsure how it works.

    4. VermiciousKnit*

      LW #3 here – When we’re approved for intermittent FMLA, we get the number of hours equivalent to 12 weeks of leave, and we can use vacation, personal holiday, sick leave, or floating legal holiday or take time unpaid. Any time off you use for FMLA reasons is counted against that total. I’m not even close to using it up – I still have 279 hours left for 2017 – so it’s not as if I’m squeezing out every last drop of possible time off I can.

  14. Bob*

    Regarding #3 – the letter writer should consider giving the IT team a break. Those are all security measures that organizations with sensitive data or legal requirements are implementing. These measures aren’t aimed to control you or make your life harder. Security breaches cost people their jobs and cost organizations money (which could be spent on jobs), and protecting against them is in everyone’s interest.

    That said, they may be able to modify some of the new practices if you bring the issues to their attention. For instance not being able to upload forms to partner websites – they may be able to grant exemptions for specific uses. Try asking them if you haven’t already, but make your request specific, detailed, and to the point. If you are perceived as ranting about all their changes they aren’t going to listen.

    1. MCM*

      I think the IT stuff on top of the FMLA, is just another stressor. IT changes are stressors, any type of change is. But when one is dealing with stress the OP is regarding FMLA and HR, the IT changes are the top of the “stress cake.”

  15. cheeky*

    “because as you can imagine, I was not willing to let him go, so he had to kind of dance around the room trying to extricate me from his chest. How everyone stared!).”

    OOF. That’s not great.

  16. Laura Cruz*

    Hey Allison, did you did inform OP #3 of legal options just in case they don’t read the comments? I’m really worried about them.

  17. Lumen*

    OP#1: I too have had many an inappropriate and unhealthy attachment to people who were, for one reason or another, not available for a relationship or unable to reciprocate. Embrace the distance between you and your former boss, work on your inner #Stuff that may have led you to developing these feelings, and know that (as cliche as it sounds) “someday this pain will be useful to you”.

    OP#3: I’m so glad your son is doing better this year. In working with children who struggled in similar ways, I occasionally had to physically restrain someone who might hurt themselves or others if I did not. It’s exhausting physically and emotionally, and I cannot imagine how much more draining it would be for a parent and their own child. Then having to manage the resentment and misunderstanding and outright retaliation at work on top of that? You are a trooper. I don’t know enough to make suggestions regarding possible legal action against your current employer (though I believe Allison when she says this is OH HELL NO levels of illegal), but I hope it gets better or you get out of there soon. You and your kid deserve better.

  18. adulting*

    Not a lawyer, and can’t give legal advice, but for #3, some options for FMLA legal help include A Better Balance (does FMLA work), or if you’re in a state where there’s protections for caregivers, the National Women’s Law Center might have resources. If you want to just go straight to finding an attorney, the NELA directory is good.

  19. AcademiaShouldPayMore*

    Not to pile on, but since it’s been established that #3 is illegal, do we continue offering advice on the matter/ will Allison?

  20. Princess Cimorene*

    #1 – Since they no longer work there, would it be taboo to see if there’s anything there? (I have to re-read the first letter to make sure boss isn’t married already or something)

    1. Princess Cimorene*

      ugh before anyone replies to my query, I re-read the update and I see the LW was the one who didn’t want to let go. I read it too quickly and thought neither wanted to end the hug. I thought the BOSS shared LWs affections but LW was so cold towards him because of theirs that he was hurt and didn’t know they cared. So that’s why I was wondering if there was any reason the LW couldn’t now make their interest known to him and see if it could go anywhere if now-former-boss was interested too.

      1. Princess Cimorene*

        I also wonder if it was not a bit of descriptive hyperbole to be a bit humorous re: the never-ending hug …. and alas my question about seeing if there’s a possibility for it to go somewhere still stands.

        (nothing that I recall mentions LWs gender either, only the boss, so I’m not going to do the ‘imagine roles reversed’ thing here for the hug either)

        1. Princess Cimorene*

          Update: I’ve now learned that LW is in fact a straight female, while the boss is a gay male and so that changes my questions and helps me better understand why not revealing said crush and reining themselves in was a good idea. So, LW, I am glad you are in a new role and still getting professional work from former-boss. I hope he will remain a good reference for you as your career progresses! Good luck with your career and with shedding the crush — might open you up to being open to someone really good coming into your life if/when you’re interested! Cheers!

    2. Princess Cimorene*

      okay last reply to myself- rereading the comments on the original letter. a lot of good advice about why it would be a bad idea, which I understand. I guess I am in an “amorous-everyone should be happy and in love and coupled (or thruppled or whatever they’re into) and ride off into the sunset of soul-mate-bliss” right now so I am viewing this with a warped idealized perspective.

      I still don’t think it’s entirely horrendous to admit to someone that you’re interested in them, if you are wanting to see if they share the interest and wish to pursue dating/relationship, if it’s appropriate for your roles in each others life. Thats why I wonder, since the power dynamic is gone, if it would be such a bad thing. But only if LW was wanting to pursue more and if now-former-Boss was avail and interested.

      If revealing the crush for no other reason than to reveal it would damage reputation or references or whatever, then yeah, all the great advice from original letter stands.

  21. Princess Cimorene*

    #3 (the most recent was my son turned the minimum age to drive, and therefore I shouldn’t need to drive him to appointments anymore. Nevermind that he hasn’t yet taken driver’s ed)

    Holy cow. This made my stomach hurt. Then the rescinded job-offer blew my top.


    You shouldn’t have to justify, as a parent, why you need to take your minor child to therapy and doctors appointments. Period. But even if he had taken drivers ed and gotten his license, is your company now providing him with a vehicle and gasoline to drive himself!? The audacity! And as a person who deals with severe anxiety and self-harm behavior, is he even someone who it’s a good idea for him to be driving?! (I have a girlfriend with BPD who doesn’t drive because her impulse control is like 0 and her anxiety is crazy and she might do something really stupid that could harm herself or others, so she uses public trans exclusively) and I’m sorry but not every parent wants their 15-16-17 year old kid handling pretty grown up errands and tasks or being on the road that much as it is anyway!! I have nieces in that age group who aren’t driving yet and we aren’t in a rush for them to be. Certainly would never expect them to take themselves to the hospital or therapy on their own yet. We are still teaching them how to adult, and they are STILL CHILDREN. Not in a hurry to shove them out of the nest.

    LIKE WHAT THE #$%! The fact that they are even monitoring this child’s age, which is NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS. Omg. *exhales*

    I am just flabbergasted. I need to calm down. I am so sorry LW. So so sorry! You have a LOT on your plate. I am so glad he is doing better and that you are getting some care for yourself as well. As a caretaker, I know how very important is it that the care-taker get care too! This is hard. I’m sure there will be light at the end of this long tunnel. Maybe suing their pants off will be part of it.

    Hugs xoxo.

    1. Aeon*

      Yeah, reading that made me really furious as well.

      So what if he just turned 16, doesn’t mean he HAS TO drive himself now.

      1. Anion*

        My oldest daughter turned 26 in August, and we haven’t let her anywhere near the wheel of a car yet. She’s not ready. She’s a fantastic, intelligent, hilarious, responsible, beautiful girl, but she had some developmental delays as a child and still has some anxiety issues of her own and quirky behavior (she was considered to be on the spectrum as a small child, but after therapy tested off of it). She tends to panic when anything unexpected happens and freezes up, so Hubs and I think, and she agrees, that she just isn’t ready for the challenges of driving yet.

        I’d be pretty angry if someone tried to tell me that I MUST teach her to drive right now–to do so would be quite literally putting her life and the lives of every other driver and passenger on the road with her at risk. No way.

        (Don’t get me wrong, she’d do fine as long as everything was going well. It’s the moment when it doesn’t, and quick capable thinking is required, that would be the problem.)

        1. JessaB*

          Not to mention the insurance is insane for minor children and with graduated licensing a 16 year old may not be permitted to drive alone in the first year they have their licence. Rules vary by locale. Plus there are things an unemancipated minor can’t consent to without a parent around, and non emergency medical care is on that list from what I understand. Also most 16 year olds do not have credit cards, how do they pay for the visit, etc. Just from a logistics standpoint that office is well off the rails.

          And that’s not even getting into the fact that whatever reason they’re going to the doctor/therapist/whatever might be something that would impact or delay the child’s ability to drive EVER.

          1. Miri*

            My husband has bipolar. It’s usually pretty well-managed but just shy of two years ago he went into a downwards spiral and the mental health teams were painfully slow to recognise the severity of the situation… It is utterly terrifying when somebody you love leaves the house and you genuinely don’t know if they will come back or if you’re going to get a call from the police.

            Thankfully the call I did ultimately get from the police was to let me know that he had been taken in for assessment and had been prevented from jumping onto the dual carriageway…. And this happened on a Friday and his mum and sister were able to come over the next day so our then-15 month old stayed with her auntie while my MIL and I went to see him, track down my car key, and locate my car.

            And yes – he is perfectly capable of endangering himself without driving to do so – his regular commute to work is a 12.mile cycle. But him driving to try to clear his head was worse because (a) he could have gone ANYWHERE and (b) we live in a little village with shoddy public transport provisions – if he takes the car and something happens I am stranded…

            But I can definitely see OP3 and son making the call to leave driving for the time being for very good reasons.

    2. Lindsay J*

      And seriously, after therapy, depending on how intensive it is, they might just be mentally exhausted and not in great condition to be driving, anyway. Mine has never been that bad, but I know some people who schedule their sessions on Friday afternoons so they can use the weekend to recover before having to go back to work, etc, and who have a family member bring them to and from.

  22. Boss crush*

    LW1 here, and thank you for your comments everybody. I think the most awkward thing about that hug (which he initiated) was that it was in front of all our colleagues at a little farewell party after work. If they hadn’t been there it would’ve been much more relaxed. Saying goodbye was hard for both of us. Professionally, we were a great team (he thought so too) and I don’t think I’ll ever have such a smooth working relationship ever again. I learned a lot from that job.

    I am still blindsided by how quickly that weird crush kicked in. One minute he was my geeky boss, and the next minute BAM he could walk on water. At the time I was going through some physical health issues and feeling tired and despondent. I didn’t mention anything to him, but he picked up on it, and cut me a lot of slack until I recovered. I’m just sorry that my crush made me behave so strangely around him.

    1. Kaitastic*

      I sympathize with you. A long time ago there was a manager that I did not work directly with, but I saw him in the hallways often. I don’t know what happened, but it was like I was in grade school again. I almost couldn’t respond to him when he would say good morning because of how shy/embarrassed I became around him. I felt like an idiot, but I just kept my distance and with time my crush on him waned. Emotions can be a weird thing, but as long as you think realistically you’ll be ok.

    2. HappySnoopy*

      Glad you’ve been able to maintain a professional relationship as it helps your consulting gig.

      As for the rest…time will heal a lot. Good luck!

  23. Close Bracket*

    Question on FMLA:

    I’m more familiar with ADA than I am with FMLA. Under ADA, if your disability interferes with performing core job functions, or if the accommodation is not “reasonable”, you can be let go, and ADA will not protect you.

    Is FMLA really so broad that even when your absences interfere with your job function, that you still cannot be let go for using it?

    1. Newbie Manager*

      For up to 12 weeks of cumulative absences. Beyond that, someone using FMLA would not be legally covered.

  24. VermiciousKnit*

    LW #3. I’m sorry I ended up being off the day this was published because my son was sick (like… body grossness sick, not panic-attack sick) so I didn’t get to respond to comments as they happened.

    I just want to say I really appreciate the support in my perspective that this stuff is at best hinky and more often just beyond the pale. Our HR interacts as if it’s just doing the most normal thing in the world even though they’re asking you something totally insane and often not legal. It gives me confidence to stand my ground for my rights. I did just do the recertification right after his birthday, and I’m sure they’ll make me do another one for the next calendar year, but I’ll feel more confident if they keep pushing me to stand up for my rights. This is especially true if my review is bad again – I will just out and say that they cannot count FMLA related absences toward my review and doing so constitutes retaliation, which is illegal.

    It’s really hard to juggle all these things and I constantly feel like I’m always letting everybody down and not doing a good enough job on any front because I’m trying to manage too many things. Thank you all for making me feel confident that it’s not ok for me to be treated this way at work.

    1. ss*

      I wouldn’t wait until next review. I would request a retroactive review to clear your record, with HR involved about the FMLA absences issue.

      1. VermiciousKnit*

        HR is not going to bat for me with those. The new HR director is the person responsible for the crack-downs, the job offer being rescinded, etc. I’d need to go to a union rep or higher up the chain toward the governor’s office (which, in our state, is also not likely to be met with compassion.) The next review is by the end of this month, so the fuss required to do that vs. waiting is unlikely to be worth the effort.

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