I’m being assigned “make up” work before maternity leave, coworker is pushing prescription pills, and more

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

1. I’m being assigned “make up” work before my maternity leave

I work in an academic library in a tenure-track position. All of the librarians are expected to work some evening and weekend shifts, which are divided up equally according to a schedule created by a colleague.

Here’s my problem: my colleague made an error in the spring semester evening/weekend schedule, accidentally including a librarian who has special permission not to work those shifts. Knowing that I’m going on maternity leave in three months, he asked me to cover their shifts, on top of my own, in the two months preceding my leave. He said that this way, I would “make up” the shifts so that everyone would still be responsible for the same amount over the course of the semester. I can’t imagine taking on this much extra work (seven extra shifts), especially while I’m hoping to use my free time for things like putting together the baby’s room and finding child care. Is it reasonable for me to say no? I know that my being on leave will be a burden to the rest of the librarians, so I’m afraid to look like I’m not being a team player.

Yes, it’s reasonable to say no. The idea with maternity leave isn’t that it’s time you only get if you store up extra time beforehand; it’s actual leave from work, period. It’s reasonable for you to simply say, “I’m not able to work additional shifts right now.” If pressed, you can add, “There’s no expectation with maternity leave to ‘make up’ the time I’ll be out. It would be a bad idea for us to appear to be pushing pregnant employees to work extra hours because of upcoming leave.”

2. How to thank people for support with a disability

I was hoping for some input on what’s professional in this situation! This is my first job after university so I’m not quite sure what would be okay. Long before I started working at my current job, I was involved in a serious car crash which left me with an invisible illness. On a day to day basis I can manage it well, but from time to time I get flare-ups of pain which are totally disabling. Over the past couple of months, my condition has worsened drastically, but I feel like it’s slowly improving now after some time off.

I work for a regional office of a large company, and they have been absolutely amazing. Three people in particular have been incredibly helpful and supportive — they’ve arranged for me to have a flexible working schedule, ordered a very expensive sit/stand desk and other equipment, and encouraged me to take a month off to recover. I’ve just returned and they’ve set up a phased return where I only need to work 20-25 hours a week (on full pay). A few times I’ve approached one of them and said “I’m not feeling well right now but I’ll take my laptop home and catch up on the work over the weekend/in the evening,” and been told (warmly) not to do so and just rest. They’ve even provided emotional support at times when I’ve felt overwhelmed.

On top of this, the culture at my work is great, something that management work hard to foster. Everyone has been incredibly warm and encouraging on my return. This support has been wonderful. It has made me feel very secure in my employment and has really mitigated the stress of being ill. I am so, so grateful for all of this.

I wanted to show my appreciation, especially to these three people. None of them manages me directly and only one has any visibility over my work. What would be a good way to show my gratitude? A small gift for each would be easily within my budget and I’d be happy to do this, but all three outrank me quite significantly so I’m not sure whether a gift would be appropriate. I imagine their response to a gift would be to tell me that they were just doing their jobs, but I really do feel like they’ve gone above and beyond what was necessary. Would it be okay to write each of them a Christmas card setting out how their support has helped me, or would this be too personal? Any other ideas? For extra background, these people are very familiar with the nature of my disability and I have friendly relationships with all of them.

A personal note to each telling them how much you appreciate their support would be a lovely thing to do. It doesn’t have to be tied to the holidays — you could do that at any time. I wouldn’t do the gifts — for all the reasons you normally shouldn’t gift upward and because it might make them feel uncomfortable, and because the heartfelt note will almost certainly be more appreciated and have more meaning anyway.

3. Coworker is pushing her prescription pills on people

I’m writing on behalf of a friend who doesn’t know if anything can be done in this situation. She works in a small office that rents out space in the same building, so she has some daily interactions with the employees of that renting company. I’ll call the problem employee Nina. Nina works for the other company but is widely disliked throughout my friend’s office. She’s rude, vulgar, nosy, and loud. She is also apparently a walking pharmacy, as she carries dozens of medications with her and has pushed prescription painkillers on my friend when she wasn’t feeling well. I’m talking drugs like morphine and dilaudid, serious stuff. It is now public knowledge that she has these and likes to push them so many other employees avoid her. One of my friend’s coworkers has a complex medical condition I won’t get into, but Nina frequently pushes this employee to take some of the medicine she carries, saying that her doctors are wrong and she knows better how to fix it.

Today, Nina went to my friend to offer her a small Christmas gift. My friend does not celebrate any holidays for religious reasons and was extremely uncomfortable with accepting any sort of Christmas gift. She is not passive about not celebrating; it’s a firm belief and she refuses to participate in anything related to the holiday — she didn’t even go to the company Christmas party. When she tried to explain that she doesn’t celebrate, Nina exclaimed, “Tough shit, because I do! I celebrate and it’s my holiday so you can’t take that from me.” She then went on to say “I buy my Jewish friend Christmas gifts every year too, and tough shit because I like to celebrate so she better deal with it.” My friend doesn’t believe there’s anything she can do about this crazy lady, but I’m wondering if between the pill pushing and religious insensitivity, wouldn’t Nina’s boss want to know about these incidents? I find the comments she made extremely offensive but surely offering/pushing prescription drugs to others illegally would be something her manager should know about, right?

Most managers would, yes. It’s true that Nina and your friend work for different companies, but since they share space, your friend could talk to Nina’s employer, alert them that Nina is pushing people to take her prescription drugs, and ask them to rein her in. If she wants to, she could also mention the rude comments about religion.

4. I want to quit my job but my CEO is offering me a new position

I work for a nonprofit that has had a really bad year. Our board hired a new CEO in January, and the changes she’s made has made no one happy to be here. Many people have talked about leaving the company and a few friends have already left. I am about to leave as well, but when I let my supervisor know I was looking, she talked to the CEO and they have now come up with a new position for me in the company.

I have been here two years and have previously tried to move up within the company and our CEO let me know there was no where to go right now and no money for hiring anyone new at the moment, but once I let them know I was looking, money magically appeared to promote me! Our CEO spoke to me about the new opportunity and I honestly have no intent on taking it due to it basically being three positions merged into one (due to our scarce staff) and the low, low pay. The culture of the company is also horrible. Our new CEO hired a few friends with great salaries and they do not do the work they are supposed to do, so other staff have to pick up their slack. Also, the person I will be in charge of supervising has a horrible work ethic and I would not like to be her supervisor.

That being said, I do have an opportunity lined up with another company and wanted to know the best way to let them know I will not be accepting the new position while also giving them my two weeks notice. I am just having a hard time coming up with a way to do so because my supervisor is a genuinely nice person and me leaving will cause her to do twice the work. Also, my birthday is the day I want to turn in my two weeks notice and they will likely have a party for me at the office. I think it will be a very awkward, horrible situation.

“Thank you so much for offering me the new position. I really appreciate you looking for a way to make this work. I’ve given it a lot of thought, but I’ve decided to accept a job with a different organization instead. So I actually need to formally give notice and let you know that my last day will be (date).”

If there’s a birthday party for you that day, it doesn’t need to be horrible and awkward. Depending on the timing of your resignation conversation, it might make sense to announce your departure to people then — or you can wait and do it later. But people leave jobs all the time; it’s normal and not a personal betrayal, and you’re still allowed to eat birthday cake even when you’re leaving.

5. Negotiating for assistance with my master’s degree

I have been offered a good position (much better than my current position) in a different division in the government agency that I work for. After the offer, I met with my supervisor and asked him some follow-up questions. I asked him if I could receive some money to pursue my master’s degree, which others have done. He said he hadn’t done that before, but that it was an option.

This is a benefit that I would really like. Should I negotiate harder for it or just settle that it is an “option”? I may have another job offer that could help me feel like I have more leverage, but I’m not sure how to proceed.

Yeah, “it’s an option” doesn’t really tell you if you’ll definitely be able to do it or not. You could go back and say something like, “You had said that some assistance with the costs of my master’s could be an option. Is that something we could work out as part of the offer, so that I can factor it in when I’m weighing the offer as a whole?”

{ 162 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, you may also want to double check your academic personnel policy. Everyone on the tenure track here gets 1 semester off (paid), up to another semester off (unpaid) or the equivalent in teaching relief, and a stop clock during parental leave. For some of the tenure-track positions, the CBA wouldn’t allow what your colleague is proposing (not that this matters most, but it may make you feel more empowered to decline if his “solution” also happens to be disapproved). In our case, there’s no such thing as “making up” hours when you’re on leave because that completely defeats the purpose of an equitable parental leave policy.

    I realize institutions vary greatly on these policies and that it’s different for librarians [hopefully the amazing commenter-librarians can chime in], but this is on your coworker. It’s not your fault that there may be extra demands from light coverage—it’s his fault for screwing up. He should be the first person offering to pick up the slack, not the first one trying to guilt a colleague with planned parental leave.

    1. Kuododi*

      I would also encourage you to follow up with your place of employment and clarify their policy regarding academic support for employees. I suspect you’ll be pleasantly surprised. DH has one last semester to wrap up his second Master’s Degree and his company had funds in place to pay for up to half of applicants desired program of study. Of course it had to be professionally relevant and he had to go through an application and reference process. After the degree is earned, DH is expected to”work off” his debt in the course of his employment. Not a problem….he loves his job and we’re very pleased where we are living. Good luck and I hope you have the best success in your studies!!!!

    2. dear liza dear liza*

      Academic librarian here. I’m guessing this is about desk coverage, and there’s always drama about covering the desk, but that’s so not your problem. I bet your colleague has no idea about leave rules and is just frantic about getting the desk covered without making any other librarians mad; we are such a conflict-adverse profession. He’s asking you so that he doesn’t have to ask other people to cover the special-permission person, and he’s rationalizing it as “being fair.” Just use Alison’s script, don’t feel any guilt. (And fwiw, in my library, I’d be going to whomever gave the other librarian special permission to skip the desk and make it their problem. When a similar situation happened, with me in your colleague’s position, I went to the powers that be and said: Either pony up money to hire a part-time person, or we cut desk hours. Magically, even in tight budget times, they found the money.)

      1. Bibliovore*

        yes. This. I was suddenly placed on a two hour desk on Friday afternoons to “be fair” despite that fact that my position had me on “ready reference” for the entire academic population plus fixed blocks of classes during my work week. After I had calmed down, I was able to get her to understand that her solution to her scheduling problem was not going to work for me.

      2. Another Academic Librarian*

        I assumed this was desk coverage as well, and I agree completely. Desk schedules can cause a lot of sturm und drang when you’re trying to accommodate everyone’s preferences and commitments. I’m sure your colleague is trying to save himself the stress of asking everyone else to cover “extra” shifts, and I suspect he also has not thought about his request beyond, “oh, OP#1 is out for half of the semester, so doing twice the work for that half will make things come out equal.”

        The thing is, this kind of thinking sometimes makes sense. If I know I’m going on vacation and someone else is taking my desk time for two weeks, I will go out of my way to make sure that I’m very accommodating to my colleagues’ requests for coverage before and after. Or if I have schedule restrictions for a semester, I might agree to a couple extra Saturdays or volunteer to stay until closing the day before a holiday. But parental leave is different, and assigning you extra work because you’re going to out on leave is unfair, possibly illegal, and most likely something your union (if you have one) would like to know about.

        Being untenured can sometimes make it hard to push back on requests like this, especially if they come from a tenured librarian. If you don’t feel comfortable telling your colleague that you are unable to take all of the extra shifts (–but of course you’d be happy to take your share if the hours are divided up among the group–), I would do one of two things. Explain to your director/chair/department head that you are unable to take on more than your share or ask a senior, tenured colleague for advice, especially one who has shown that they are willing to advocate for you. In my library, there are two tenured librarians I would approach if I were in your situation, and I have complete confidence that they would go immediately to our head of public services and tell him to knock it off and create a new schedule.

    3. Engineer Girl*

      I agree that you don’t “make up” leave.
      I’m concerned with the colleagues wording. They are basically giving the OP extra work because of their pregnancy. That’s discriminatory and illegal. It needs to be shut down ASAP.
      I’d use Alison’s script first. If they continue to push then tell them that asking you to shoulder a larger burden than your colleagues violates employment law. I’d also go to their manager at that point to make sure you’re protected.

    4. Kelly*

      As someone who works in a library but doesn’t have the librarian title, being an hourly employee rather than salaried, it’s very rare for the salaried staff to even work a desk shift. It honestly really only happens during academic breaks when we have half of our usual amount of student help or like this week, multiple people are out for all or part of the week. My boss the director is covering the desk some of the day tomorrow with myself and one other person gone. It’ll likely be very quiet, with maybe a dozen people coming in all day.

      We hired a new reference librarian last winter after a retirement. I thought it was telling how direct public service was not seen as priority for the person with not requiring a certain number of hours at the desk each week to be familiar with using our software and being able to be the first person to interact with someone who may have a potential reference question. I’m not honestly sure how at ease she is at the desk, but then again, my boss routinely requires refresher training on how to do basic circulation because she does it so rarely.

      The new reference person seems to view outreach and socializing with other library staff, usually outside our library, as her primary duty. I’ve lost track of how many reference queries I’ve had to give out the catch-all email address to patrons asking them because of how frequently she’s at a meeting or getting coffee with someone.

      She’s still in her probationary period through this spring because of taking a maternity leave. She’s frequently at least a half hour late in on her better days. I’m honestly not sure if she works 40 hours a week most weeks. With her tardiness, pumping breaks, and frequently leaving early, it’s likely closer to at most 35 hours. Given that my boss puts in at least 50 hours a week, that’s going to bite her in the butt during her 12 month review.

      She’s also starting her campaign for our boss’ job, once she retires in two years. I’m sure they’ll want someone from our group on the search committee and I’m interesting in participating, if only to make sure that the new reference librarian and one other person’s, someone who got her MLS while working at the library but was borderline incompetent at managing and supervising student workers and got a job elsewhere post graduation, don’t make it pass the initial screening stage. I’m sure that my boss will suggest that she not be hired, and I think she may have annoyed one of the higher ups recently over her overly aggressive criticism of the current libraries’ master plan.

      1. Another Academic Librarian*

        Just FYI, this kind of thing varies greatly between libraries. In my library, we have two service desks, and the reference desk is staffed only by librarians (who are salaried, tenure-track/tenured faculty) as a matter of policy. A librarian is at the reference desk until 11PM on weekdays and on both Saturdays and Sundays.

        This may not be true at your library, but at mine librarians don’t have working hours, so we can’t actually be tardy. We’re expected to be in the building for meetings, classes and the desk, but otherwise we prioritize our own time. Most of us work extensively at home too, doing chat reference and answering email from students and teaching faculty, in addition to a variety of other things (our own scholarship, committee work, preparing documents for our boss when needed). I’m on duty to answer reference questions from multiple campuses several days these week even though the university is technically closed and all the hourly staff have off.

        1. Kelly*

          Who staffs the public services desks, both circulation and reference, where I work depends on the hours and staff preferences. Usually during the day, it’s permanent staff, hourly for circulation and salaried for reference. On evenings and weekends, it’s more likely to be students with permanent staff evening/weekend supervisors present at the larger libraries to help with more complicated questions.

          Salaried staff are expected to work 40 hours a week, and sometimes more depending on external events, staffing, and projects. They’re also expected to be available during the work day. She’s simply not meeting those expectations, with her persistent tardiness and being out of the office during a decent portion of her workday.

          Remote work policies vary depending on your supervisor. Mine isn’t a fan of allowing it, but has allowed the new person to work from home a couple days. I’m not sure how much she gets done if both the toddler and baby are home. I’ve tried getting permission to work from home when I have projects that need to get done and they could get done faster with more accuracy if I wasn’t in the office getting constantly interrupted by phone calls to go cover the desk. My public services counterpart has a tendency to make himself scarce from his office I’m usually the one getting called to the front desk. I was denied because I’m hourly. But it was fine for the salaried person still in her probationary period to “work from home” with two young kids around.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, Nina is engaged in pretty serious criminal activity (you do NOT push your pain pills on people!). I don’t mean to open a debate on drug policy, but I think it could be worth saying something bluntly to Nina before escalating to her boss. For example, don’t say you prefer not to, no thanks, etc.—name the problem behavior: “I’m not really interested in facilitating a federal crime.” “If you continue to harass [name here], I’m going to have to report this to [your employer / the DEA / pick an agency].”

    The religious stuff is obnoxious but mild compared to pill pushing.

    1. Dot Warner*

      I came here to post this Nina is breaking a federal law here (assuming that y’all are in the US) and needs to be stopped ASAP! Other things you could say: “You do realize that offering me your narcotics is illegal, right?” “You are breaking the law and I am not interested in being an accomplice. If I hear about you offering these pills again to anyone, ever, I will call the police.”

    2. Menacia*

      Yeah, I wish I could have said something similar when my FIL offered me a Percocet for an upset stomach! He pops pills for everything and smokes pot to boot (he’s almost 80!). My husband is in recovery (over 20 years) due in great part to his father pushing drugs on him as a teen. This is no way okay and absolutely should be reported to Nina’s manager if not the police. Addicts are completely narcissistic and feel they can get away with doing whatever they want.

      1. Former HR person*

        I agree that this needs to be reported, but honestly, I’d skip Nina’s manager and go straight to the police. While you only know she is pushing drugs at work, she could be pushing them elsewhere, including children.

    3. Victorian Cowgirl*

      I agree entirely and want to add a caveat, that in my experience it is always a bad idea to let a dealer or user know you reported them. I would not give her warning, but do it anonymously. What she’s doing is so beyond the pale that I feel giving no warning is fair play so to speak .

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I guess I think retaliation depends on the dealer? There are tons of dealers who I hold feel comfortable threatening with reporting their activity, but there are also loads where doing so would be an invitation to severe bodily injury. I suspect someone dealing openly at their workplace is not super sophisticated.

        But you’re right that OP can always opt for an anonymous complaint if they’re worried about the possible safety ramifications of reporting (or threatening to report) Nina.

      2. Wintermute*

        Okay, lets dial it back just a little here. She’s a co-worker who thinks these are miracle drugs (possibly because she’s still in the honeymoon phase of addiction), not Tony Montana. She’s not a gun-toting street dealer, she’s not a hardcore criminal, it’s not going to be dangerous to talk to her, you’re not going to end up chained in a bath tub being menaced with a chainsaw or something…

        1. Junior Dev*

          We don’t know any of that. She’s already proven to get angry over small things. I think the advice to avoid antagonizing her and go over her head is sound.

          1. Wintermute*

            I agree but I think some of the commentary is getting a little hyperbolic in painting her as a dangerous drug dealer that is a physical danger. There is little good to come of telling her you’re dropping a dime, but at the same time she’s not a hardened criminal and it’s not a physical risk.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It doesn’t sound like she’s a coworker? It sounds like she’s the building/facilities staff person? But I agree that describing her as a “drug dealer” and implying that she’s Walter White or the head of some complex organized crime scheme is likely inaccurate and not helpful to OP.

      3. LBK*

        Does someone giving away pills count as a “dealer”? It doesn’t sound like she’s trying to sell them. I mean, maybe in a very literal sense she is, but I don’t think as described she’s a dealer in the sense that comes with dangerous connotations.

        1. Nita*

          Probably not… but she may end up getting people addicted anyway, whether or not she gets money for it. Luckily there are laws to stop this particular office misbehavior.

          1. Anna*

            That’s not how addiction works, but it’s still wildly inappropriate and illegal to pass out prescription narcotics like their candy.

            Also, Nina’s Christmas gift bullshit is pretty much standard religious harassment.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I think it depends on if she’s pushy and giving away pills (not dealing, but certainly still illegal) versus offering pills in the hopes that someone will get hooked and come back for more. That said, I don’t think there’s enough information in the letter to call Nina a “drug dealer.”

        3. Kuododi*

          I’m not an attorney so I can’t comment on the legal question however whether she is receiving financial or emotional benefits the end result is the same. People are being pressured to take medication which has a high risk of compromising their health, safety and well-being. That has the potential to harm themselves, potentially the general public, as well as present all kinds of risk factors for the company they work for. This needs to be stopped yesterday by the person in the company with the knowledge of the situation to make the report.

        4. AKchic*

          Pill dealers will offer the first few as “freebies” to hook their potential buyers. It gets the customers in the habit of coming to them for the supply, gets them used to the idea of using the product and coming to them. Once the buyer is “hooked” and comfortable coming to them, then they start charging.

          1. irritable vowel*

            Exactly, and these are obviously not pills that have been prescribed to her for a medical condition because if they were, she wouldn’t be giving them away. Nor is she an addict who wants to share the wealth, because that’s not how pill addiction works – you want/need to keep them for yourself. She is definitely a dealer.

            1. irritable vowel*

              (Replying to myself to say another clue that these are not pills that have been prescribed to her for a genuine condition is the type of medication they are – anyone with a legit prescription for morphine or dilaudid is in pretty serious pain and would not be coming to work every day like no big deal…)

              1. AKchic*

                It depends on the dosage. Morphine in low doses, especially for those of us with high tolerances to the medication (from prolonged use), do act “normal” to people. I take a lot of painkillers daily, and the only thing people notice is for about 30 minutes I may be more chatty (it’s a once-in-a-while reaction), or occasionally my nose will itch. If I take my anti-nausea meds (because once in a while I will get *that* reaction), I get super hungry, but again, I’m a heavier woman, and it’s Alaska.

          2. Night Nurse*

            This behavior is that of a pushy co-worker, not a pushy pusher.

            And all of you judgemental assholes need to go learn that drug addiction is a medical condition, not a reason to send them to jail–or judge them.

  3. Magenta Sky*

    #1: Maternity leave isn’t “shifts you’ll be missing,” it’s time off you’re legally entitled to.

    #3: This woman is a drug dealer, and what she’s doing is a (or many) felony (as is supplying them to her – she’s not making them herself). If you want to be generous, tell her – once – that if she ever tries pushing narcotic painkillers anywhere, and you hear about it, you’ll be notifying the police (who *love* easy busts of drug dealers, especially, these days, narcotic painkillers). And mean it. If you’re not feeling generous, just file a police report. The woman belongs in prison with all the other drug dealers.

    1. Chinook*

      I agree – #3 should be an easy firing as she is blatantly breaking the law. I have seen a boss fire someone for this exact activity (offering drugs to a coworker who then mentioned it to the boss) and have never been happier to see such quick results. It was one of many reasons I loved for working for that boss.

    2. Observer*

      The OP isn’t in a position to file a report, as she only has hearsay. And her friend might not be to thrilled either – I would be worried about retaliation (of a physical sort.)

      1. Magenta Sky*

        Where drug dealing involving narcotics are concerned, the police will cheerfully take an anonymous report from absolutely anyone. They know precisely how to deal with such circumstances. Because it happens all the time.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yeah—this is not the kind of case where hearsay matters for making an initial report. Without getting into a debate, pushing prescription drugs is a very big, very illegal deal. Given that opioids are in the mix, I’m sure most police departments would rather hear a second-hand report than none at all.

          1. Observer*

            Oh, I agree that this is a VERY big deal.

            If the police will take an anonymous tip, then I’d go with reporting – and I would NOT warn Nina. Even aside from the drug pushing, this woman is highly unreasonable and insanely entitled. She’s NOT going to react well to such a warning and if something happens I have no doubt that she’ll try to retaliate.

          2. MamaSarah*

            Agreed. I’ve always consider narcotics a last resort (I took Ibprofren when I had impacted wisdom teeth removed) and generally regard pill popping as a very dangerous behavior. I would not want to share office space with Nina.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I commented on this (maybe it’s stuck in moderation?), but I think OP/OP’s friend should say something blunt to Nina. Something like, “I’m not interested in facilitating a federal crime” or, “I’ll have to report this to [your employer / the DEA / the police].” And then follow through.

        I would be surprised if a firm, no-nonsense set down results in physical (or other) retaliation. I think the religious stuff is obnoxious but not meaningful when compared to pushing prescription drugs.

        1. Observer*

          The problem with the religious stuff, beyond just being obnoxious and rude, is that it show a level of entitlement and inability to respect clearly drawn boundaries that I don’t think she’ll respond well to a clear and blunt statement.

          The combination of “I know better than everyone” and “though on you, you’d better just deal because this is what **I** want” doesn’t bode well for normal boundary setting.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Strongly agree! Frankly, she sounds like a bully who is used to getting away with bad behavior.

          2. Engineer Girl*

            If someone forced a gift on me while saying “tough” about my beliefs I would look them straight in the eye and then drop the gift into the garbage can.

            1. Chinook*

              I agree. By recognizing that she is doing something that is explicitly not wanted by the other person, she is showing a lack of desire to empathize with others. I suspect that person would be a horrible coworker because that attitude of “my opinion is the only one that xounts” would not be contained to gift giving or medication pushing. I suspect that finding a legit reason to fire hire would be easy if she is given enough rope.

        1. Wintermute*

          I disagree, she’s an enthusiastic drug user, possibly in the honeymoon phase of addiction where your drug of choice seems like compressed pills of pure sunshine and love, not a hardened criminal involved in drugs as a business.

          1. Observer*

            You don’t know that. What we DO know is that she’s entitled, disrespectful, willing to enforce her desires on others and is getting access to too much controlled drugs. This is not just about someone sharing their newfound love of ~~pick your subject~~

          2. YuliaC*

            How do you know that? She could be as easily pushing drugs for free as the first step in recruitment of new clients for her or her associate’s drug business. Giving drugs to people initially for free is a well known tactic of hardcore dealers.

            1. Wintermute*

              Giving people free drugs is something sunday morning cartoon drug dealers do and approximately no real drug dealers…

    3. Yada yada yada*

      I think you make a great point here regarding language, and I would use yours when confronting this issue . If I were the OP and went to my boss with this, I would consider using the words “Nina is dealing drugs in the office” instead of the gentler language that she’s offering prescription pills to people. Just to make sure it’s taken as seriously as it should be (i.e. Not just having a conversation telling her to knock it off, but firing her asap, which is what should be done regardless but I suppose you never know). And I didn’t really think about it this way until reading the comments, but not only are Nina’s actions awkward and weird but they’re also potentially dangerous. Especially in these times since we’re hearing so much about opiod addiction. I was just reading recently about Patt Oswalt’s wife who died due to a combination of drugs in her system, some that were prescription and some not. I think we sometimes forget how dangerous prescription drugs can be, especially when people mix them. Oddly I didn’t really think about these other implications until I read the words “drug dealer” and then I thought “wow, yes”

    4. Sylvan*

      +1 on #3. What she is doing is very illegal and, besides that, very dangerous. Medications can have surprising interactions and contraindications.

      1. Sylvan*

        If it’s relevant when anyone’s looking for information, the medications mentioned in the letter are class II controlled substances in the US.

        I spent some time on class II stimulants (so different from class II narcotics) and they are very tightly controlled. You wouldn’t want to mess around giving them to other people. The best case scenario is that, if nobody other than your doctor finds out, your doctor refuses to prescribe more and you have a lot of difficulty treating any genuine medical problem you might have been taking the medication for. The worst case scenario is that your dumb ass kills somebody.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          One of my medications is a controlled substance and it’s harder to get because of people who take it recreationally and sell it to others. I can only get small amounts at a time and it’s a real pain. So I have a special dislike for people like this woman.

        2. Observer*

          Someone is enabling this woman. As you know from your own experience, doctors normally do not prescribe more than a limited amount at a time and they review the meds periodically. Even when they are more lax than they should be it’s highly unlikely that any competent doctor is actually prescribing enough of this stuff to allow her to take her eds as needed and ALSO push them on others. So something smells very, very bad here.

            1. Observer*

              Stealing, possibly. Gaming the system means someone is not doing their job.

              In any case, she is clearly doing something that she has every reason to know is NOT ok.

          1. Annoyed*

            Yes and no.

            I have chronic pain for which I take controlled opioid pain killers.

            There is a specific amount “per day” but some days are better/worse so my daily dose varies. My rheumatologist knows this. As long as I don’t go beyond “X” per day I’m safe. We’ve been doing this for years.

            In order to not be a giant pain in the ass my doctor prescribes all of my meds one month at a time. That’s a *lot* of painkillers. However he (rightly) trusts that I can/will manage them like a grown up.

    5. Steve*

      I would not threaten to call the police before trying what Alyson suggested. You don’t always have to hurt someone to get them to leave you alone. You often do not need to immediately escalate to the harshest option. The woman does not belong in prison. Most drug dealers do not belong in prison. She is not trying to sell drugs. Maybe she is misguided, certainly she sounds horrible to be around. None of that is worth trying to destroy her life over. Tell her to stop in no uncertain terms. If that doesn’t work escalate to yours and her bosses. If that doesn’t work then maybe threaten to call police.

      I’m just giving my opinion for what it’s worth. People are more then free to disagree.☺

      1. Safetykats*

        Legally, it doesn’t matter if she’s asking for money for the drugs. It’s a felony to supply a Class A substance, and a felony to have one in your possession without a valid prescription. Everyone involved could end up in serious trouble – although it’s doubtful anyone would go to prison. But since this person doesn’t seem to understand that what she is doing is illegal – and that she’s also asking others to do something illegal – someone needs to tell her.

        I am interested in why it seems appropriate to other commenters to report an employee committing a felony to management rather than law enforcement. Is that something that you would think appropriate for any felony, or just this one? Is it because while you might like to see something done about this, you wouldn’t want to be the one to do it? It seems like a really passive response to knowing that crimes are being committed in your place of work.

        1. Steve*

          I have had well meaning people offer me prescription drugs before. Antibiotics for an infection pain pills for a sore muscle. I got some pain pills for a tooth problem once and gave them to someone else. You don’t have to be a doctor to know a bit about if you should take someone’s prescription drug when offered. I think the person should be told not to offer prescription drugs to other. I just disagree about involving police as a first resort. Could you imagine your child offering a pain pill to someone if he/she thought doing so was an act of kindness? It is not an uncommon action.

          As far as what is appropriate for this felony or any other, i think common sense would apply. If you think you should report this to police, you should use your own judgement and do so. My judgement is as I stated and i think it is a terrible idea and makes the people involved either worse off or at best no better off then starting with Alysons advice.

          1. Cara*

            I’ll cheerfully hand over ibruprofen and similar, but Nina is pushing opiates, not generic pain pills – morphine isn’t something to cheerfully hand over, and isn’t there a big push on opiates addiction in the US at the moment? It’s not like she can claim ignorance that this is a deeply inadvisable and wholly criminal thing to do.

            There’s also a long rant I could go into about not finishing antibiotic scripts, sharing antibiotics and antibiotic resistance, but it uses quite a lot of rude language and besides, it’s xmas. It may not be an uncommon action, nor illegal, but it is a stupid one.

          2. Ramona Flowers*

            Look, I’m one of the most non-judgemental people around but I don’t like this kind of “you could ruin their life” track. So you don’t want people to report crimes because then it’s the messenger’s fault for ruining the person’s life? There is no way anyone can accept that degree of responsibility over someone else’s choices. Talk about shooting the messenger.

            1. Cara*

              I was told not to report sexual assault because that would ruin their life. Le woe, don’t push opiates or assault people if you don’t want to deal with the consequences of such.

              1. neverjaunty*

                Exactly. It isn’t ruining someone’s life to stop putting up with their terrible behavior and getting help when they don’t take “no” for an answer.

              2. Julia the Survivor*

                Wow Cara, I’m so sorry that happened! It’s an outstanding example of chauvinism and blaming the victim. I hope you did report it and make sure your attacker got what he deserved!

          3. Mookie*

            You don’t have to be a doctor to know a bit about if you should take someone’s prescription drug when offered.

            Sure, it’s possible Nina will find a taker because they want to use her medication recreationally or because they don’t have regular access to healthcare and a prescribing doctor. (And that’s one of the reasons, in addition to draconian laws involving personal use, that marginalized people are disproportionately vulnerable to drug addiction and less likely to seek and successfully find assistance.) But lay people are not qualified to self-prescribe and just because we inhabit our bodies doesn’t mean we have any intuitive sense of whether a medication can exacerbate an underlying condition or is otherwise contraindicated for us. We’re also not walking laboratories and we don’t independently generate and interpret bloodwork or imaging of our insides. We also may not be aware of pre-existing allergies and intolerances nor are we necessarily educated enough to swiftly recognize and treat the signs and symptoms of a reaction to a mystery pill or an incorrect dosing.

          4. TL -*

            For the most part, if prescription drugs were thought safe enough for a non-doctor to determine when they were advisable to take, they would become an over the counter drug.
            You do, actually, need to be a doctor to make safe calls about whether you should take someone else’s pills. There are scenarios where it’s lower-risk (still inadvisable – if it’s an option, it’s always better and usually free to call your doc and ask first), but it’s still risky and should be avoided.
            Also. This is not one of those scenarios.

          5. blackcat*

            Nopeity nope nope when it comes to opioids. You do not share dangerous, addictive drugs. And sharing anti-biotics causes situations that encourage anti-biotic resistance.

            I have shot someone else with my epi-pen and let someone else use my albuteral (rescue) inhaler. The first situation is legal example of “giving a prescription drug to someone else,” and the second is questionable (but, f-it, if someone’s having an asthma attack and I can make not be blue anymore, I’m gonna do it). So far as I know, it’s only legal to give someone your prescription drugs if it’s done in a life and death situation. In that case, it’s is protected by good Samaritan laws in most places.

            1. This Daydreamer*

              Yeah, I had to “borrow” a rescue inhaler once. It turned out it wasn’t asthma, but it helped me breathe in the moment. I admitted to to my doctor and she didn’t bat an eye.

              If I ever let someone “borrow” my anxiety or ADHD meds? Pretty sure she’d do one hell of a lot more than blink an eye.

          6. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

            I was offered morphine once for a headache. My friend’s father has passed away from cancer and she kept all of the leftover pain medication. Ignorance is no excuse but some people have absolutely no idea of the different levels of painkillers. Still, I would report Nina because this is not a one off. She is actively hawking controlled drugs.

          7. Observer*

            Except that she’s not OFFERING these drugs. She’s pushing them. And, anyone who allows a child this kind of access to drugs this risky should have CPS (or the local equivalent) called on them.

            This woman is NOT acting in a kind manner. Treating it that way is not reasonable.

          8. Temperance*

            I hope you educated the person offering antibiotics about antibiotic resistance and why you need to take every pill.

            1. Thread*

              ID pharmacist here. The idea that you have to take every single antibiotic tablet to prevent resistance, although pervasive, is incorrect for almost all infections. On the contrary, prolonged antibiotic courses actually promote MORE resistance, not less, by increasing the likelihood that your commensal bacteria will become resistant and lead to your next infection being more resistant and potentially more difficult to treat. I definitely agree that patients should not be hoarding and distributing antibiotics, but when too many prescribers are writing antibiotic prescriptions for viral infections, or writing from software that clearly hasn’t incorporated any evidence based medicine from the last couple decades (e.g. I’ve seen offices where selecting a “cellulitis” diagnosis defaults to a 10-day Rx when we have excellent RCT evidence that 5 days is all that’s needed) patients on the whole are actually taking more antibiotics than they need or should.

              1. Cara*

                Overprescripion of antibiotics is a hideous problem – cf my various aunts who complain when their Gp wont give them antibiotics for their ‘flu’. But surely it’s a two pronged attack – against providers who write bad scripts to get an awkward patient out of their office, and patients who take 3 days of a 10 day antibiotics script for their stomach bug, then give two days of that to their friend and their tooth pain and 3 days to their kid for their cold….

                Basically, antibiotics are a major intervention, not a pseudo-placebo, and all parties involved should treat the as so

          9. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            Google informs me that combining either morphine or dilaudid with alcohol can cause respiratory distress or death. What do you think the odds are that Nina gives someone pills without telling them this, and they have a few drinks? I mean, its not necessarily to happen, but its very possible.

            Its probably better to get Nina in trouble for pushing pills than for her to be in trouble for getting somebody killed with prescription narcotics.

            1. Anna*

              I’m sorry, are you suggesting Nina would drop pills in someone’s drink to dose them without telling them and they that person could go on to have an alcoholic drink and die from suppressed respiration?

              I mean, Nina is being an asshole and is definitely breaking the law, but y’all have some pretty active imaginations.

              1. Julianne*

                That’s not at all what Eslpeth was suggesting. She laid out a scenario in which a person takes a pill, obtained from Nina, and later that person (the one who obtained and took the pill) drinks alcohol. I didn’t see anything in this comment or in the original letter to suggest that Nina is deliberately attempting to maim or murder anyone.

        2. MK*

          I agree that what she is doing is dangerous (though in practise it seems more to annoy the coworkers than to convince them to take the pills). But saying that she is a drug-dealer, as if there was no difference between a dealer who gives out free drugs (presumably so that they can hook their victims and ring every penny out of them later) and this ignorant, obnoxious woman who thinks her magic pills can cure all ills is pure hyperbole.

          If you want to be a stickler for the law, is there a legal obligation to report felonies in your jurisdiction? (In my country there is short list of felonies that absolutely everyone is mandate to report) If not, it appears that the law is leaving to the individual to judge if this is something they feel morally obligated to report. And it isn’t completely unreasonable to think that “annoyning person who offers pills to me” doesn’t fall in that category; the opposite isn’t totally unreasonable either, for me it would depend on the circumstances. In this case, it appears there is no intent to traffic drugs and it is done mostly out of ignorance, so beginning with a stern warning (and then escalating if she continues to do it).

          As for why it is more appropriate to notify the employer first, a) the behavior is causing a work problem that should be handled by the employer, regardless of illegality, b) the employer is in a better position to deliver the stern warning, and c) reporting to the police might come better from the company.

          1. Mookie*

            I agree that characterizing her as a drug dealer is a bit of an exaggeration, but it wouldn’t hurt for Nina to understand that she may look like one if she keeps this up. The LW writes:

            One of my friend’s coworkers has a complex medical condition I won’t get into, but Nina frequently pushes this employee to take some of the medicine she carries, saying that her doctors are wrong and she knows better how to fix it.

            “Fixing” or managing a chronic condition through medication generally means the sufferer will either need to use that medication for the rest of her life or for a goodly amount of time. Is Nina offering to supply the LW’s friend’s co-worker with this medicine free of charge and for perpetuity? That prospect is going to sound very alarming to a third-party.

          2. Doc in a Box*

            I’m a physician. If this were ibuprofen or home remedies or something like that, I would be inclined to agree with you. But it’s not. It’s highly potent, highly addictive, possibly deadly drugs. In the US, at least, you need a special license to prescribe these medications. And there is growing attention in wider culture of the problem of prescription drug abuse, not to mention high-profile celebrity deaths attributed to these drugs (e.g. Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger, Prince) so it’s not like Nina is unaware of the dangers. Nina is breaking the law just as much as the guy in a hoodie on a dark street corner. And because she’s doing it at work, she’s making the company liable.

            If I were in this situation, even as a non-physician, I’d go straight to the police.

            1. Wintermute*

              She’s breaking the law just as much but some people here are saying “don’t EVER let her know you’re reporting her, just call the cops and leave an anonymous tip, so she can’t track it back to you! Avoid being alone with her! She’s dangerous!” As if she were Pablo Escobar and if she finds out you called the cops you’re going to end up with your tongue cut out, as opposed to what would really happen which is probably a lot of yelling and crying and absolutely no gunplay.

              It’s serious, but she’s hardly a hardened street dealer that you should be afraid of.

              1. Mina*

                I keep wondering how hardened HER source is though. What might they do if Nina reveals that the police might come looking for her ?

          3. LBK*

            Agreed with this comment. I agree what she’s doing is messed up especially with opioids involved, but I don’t think it’s right to place her in the same box as a predatory dealer who’s enabling recreational users. She sounds like she is a recreational user herself and probably escalated to self-medicating with those drugs because OTC meds didn’t work for her, so she’s become deluded into thinking the same is true for everyone else – she would pop one of these pills if she had a headache, so why shouldn’t anyone else?

            I think she probably needs rehab more than she needs jail time, and I think going the route of informing the authorities is more likely to result in the latter than the former. She certainly sounds like an asshole but more of a danger to herself than others, and I don’t know that I’m comfortable starting a chain of events that would probably put someone like that behind bars.

            1. Engineer Girl*

              Reporting her would probably set off a chain of events to get her into rehab. Doing nothing certainly won’t.

        3. Relly*

          It would depend on the felony. Violent offenses aren’t the same as embezzlement, and both of those strike me as far more serious than violations of drug policy.

          1. Relly*

            (This comment is in response to “would you report felonies in your work place?” I agree this woman’s actions are dangerous and she needs to be stopped; I’m not sure I agree on involving the police as a first step.)

          2. Observer*

            “Violation of drug policy” makes it sound like a relatively innocuous action. But, it’s not. She’s actively and fairly aggressively pushing dangerous drugs.

            1. Relly*

              I was responding to the general question, though. I agree her actions are dangerous, but the hypothetical was “would you not report a felony?”

              If I found out a co-worker was violating the drug laws, but not doing anything else – eg, not driving under the influence, not using at work – I wouldn’t report it.

              And while “violating the drug laws” is an understatement, “drug dealer” is about the same level of overstatement.

        4. Julia the Survivor*

          Apologies if this was already said, but I think it would be a workplace courtesy for OP’s friend to inform her manager that she is informing the other manager, and if she decides to involve law enforcement, to inform both her’s and Nina’s managers so they won’t be blindsided if the police come for Nina at work, or if Nina doesn’t show up because she’s in jail, or similar results.

      2. Recruit -o-rama*

        You clearly have no idea how dangerous taking some of these medications can be while not under the care of a doctor. They are extremely dangerous while under the care of a doctor, in fact.

        Further, she could ruin someone’s life by killing them, and she is committing a felony. She knows this because doctors generally make their patients sign a form the that effect when they prescribe the medications. If some one turns her in for dealing drugs, they would not be ruining her life, in fact they could be saving someone’s life. She WOULD be suffering the consequences of her actions.

        1. Agatha_31*

          Agreed. Even if you do somehow manage to miss the very regular stories about the opioid crisis, you don’t get drugs like that (legally) without written instructions & warnings, and some *serious* discussions with your doctor/surgeon/pharmacist/etc. Whatever her motivations or intentions are mean shit. She is ignoring clear instructions by professionals and taking other people’s health, and potentially lives, into her own ignorant, uneducated, hubristic hands. And honestly, even if she did get a talking to/fired, what would that change? She’s convinced she knows better than doctors, what’s an employers actions going to do but add a layer of martyrdom to her decision to push prescription drugs on others? She’d probably just be more careful about it in the future. She *needs* to have the seriousness of this come down on her from people with the authority to do something about it, and who will also be able to track her actions even if she does change jobs. Particularly since if she’s pushing them at co-workers, she may be pushing them on others outside her work life, including elderly or children. Speculation, yes, but imo relevant speculation when asking “is there any good reason to report this to the authorities over the business?”

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            And some drugs have all kinds of unexpected side effects.

            My medication will a) stop your contraceptive pill working and b) cause birth defects.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              My husband had to sign a document promising not to try to procreate for one of the pills he was supposed to take. The doc would keep the document on file, you know, just in case.

      3. Mookie*

        You don’t always have to hurt someone to get them to leave you alone.

        Every other available option has probably not been exhausted here, but people have tried and failed to get this woman to stop doing this.

        None of that is worth trying to destroy her life over.

        I don’t think Nina is being malevolent here and I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt with respect to her motives (and clearly you are willing to do so as well). But impugning the motives of people here in this discussion is unfair. Involving the police is not an act of revenge or an attempt to “destroy” her; it’s one of the last resorts available when a person continuously refuses to take no for an answer and behaves in ways that could, in fact, ruin her life and the lives of the people she is pestering if those medications end up harming someone.

        Yes, there are absolutely risks involving the police and I’m wary of seeking their help in certain situations, but Nina repeatedly chooses to engage in risky behavior herself, and in doing poses a plausible danger to other people. I do think she should be given fair warning about that possibility and her employer needs to be looped in at some point if it continues. I also think it’s a touch callous to privilege her safety over others’s.

        1. FD*

          Yeah. Sometimes, people make choices that ruin their own lives. It sucks, and you can even have empathy for them or sorrow at someone wasting an otherwise bright future.

          That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t stop someone from causing harm, or even see that they face consequences for the past harm they’ve caused, even if they might not do it again.

          What Nina’s doing can easily kill someone or get them addicted to narcotics. I doubt she intends that, but her behavior can still harm someone. It needs to stop. Talking to her boss at best will get her to stop doing it at work, but this behavior is dangerous enough that it’s genuinely a concern that she’ll hurt others by doing it outside work.

      4. Elizabeth H.*

        I agree with this – just detach yourself from the situation and don’t get in the middle of anything related to her distributing prescription drugs.

      5. Observer*

        I don’t know if she’s trying to hook people on drugs or is just “misguided” and arrogant. But what she’s doing is not just illegal but actively dangerous to people. She’s not just letting people who want this stuff have it. She’s trying to pressure people into taking dangerous drugs and into messing with their treatment plans for serious conditions.

        She needs to be stopped. HARD.

      6. Temperance*

        Maybe she doesn’t belong in prison, but she certainly doesn’t need those prescriptions if she’s trying to push them on people.

      7. Magenta Sky*

        There were 0ver 60,000 deaths from opioid overdose in the United States last year. Opioid painkillers are very, very addictive, and she is a clear and immediate danger to anyone she’s giving morphine to.

        This woman is dangerous, and needs to be removed from society.

      8. Engineer Girl*

        This woman absolutely belongs in prison. You can’t get hold of that many drugs of that type without either stealing them or gaming the system. It takes serious work to get these kind of drugs. This isn’t merely misguided. These aren’t antibiotics.
        Then there is the additional issues of trying to force them on others. Its called practicing medicine without a license.
        These things are illegal because they cause significant harm to others.
        So it’s absolutely right to “hurt” her to prevent harm to others. She is doing this of her free will.

        1. Steve*

          Have you ever practiced medicine without a license? I once told my daughter that she should take some aspirin or ibuprofen for her ache. I once diagnosed someone as having the flu.

          Encouraging some one to do something is not force. I often encourage my child to exercise. She likes to exercise and has some gosls. Encouraging her is not force. No one is forcing drugs on anyone in the scenario described by lw.

          I don’t know if we are to assume letter writers are saying the absolute facts or just think they are. But morphine is hard to get and it makes more sense to me that letter writer might be wrong on some facts. I think lw needs to sure of her facts before calling police, if even then. It would just be so much easier to address the person you want to change directly first. Or talk to your boss first.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I’m asking for my own clarification—are you suggesting that a parent recommending an OTC anti-inflammatory is the equivalent of a relative stranger attempting to push a highly-restricted opioid, like dilaudid (or other Rx opioids/narcotics), is the same thing?

          2. Observer*

            Alison asks that we take the OP at their word. Absent a compelling reason to question, we accept that they actually are factually correct. The fact that morphine etc. is hard to get does not mean that she’s not doing what the OP says she is doing. But, it DOES indicate that even “offering” people her medications is something that she should ABSOLUTELY know is a non starter.

          3. Engineer Girl*

            Steve – I’ve certified as an emergency rescue worker and understand standing orders. I know very well what is – and is not allowed.
            There’s also a huge difference between over the counter drugs and narcotics. And while narcotics are hard to get legally, people that want them can get them. That’s why we’re having a opioid crisis.
            You are creating a logical fallacy called false equivalency.

          4. Engineer Girl*

            Another point that was raised by others. One of the key discriminators is if a drug is prescription or over the counter. It is illegal to give away prescription drugs. So your use of aspirin or ibuprofen is not an equal example. Nina is giving away not just prescription drugs, but narcotics. This is a whole level of serious. It is not the same as pushing someone to take aspirin. Even if these were not opiates it would still be illegal. And Nina is not taking “no” for an answer, which really crosses into fireable offense.

          5. Not a Morning Person*

            It is absolutely illegal to distribute, share, offer, encourage, push, or allow anyone to take a prescription medicine that is not prescribed to the person taking the medicine. Even if it’s something relatively innocuous, like a vitamin. It is illegal for both the person offering and the person accepting. Both persons have committed a crime. Lots of people are unaware that it is a crime and would be horrified to know that they have “innocently” offered a pain killer or an antibiotic to a friend in need or been the friend who accepted. People need to be informed and then they need to stop. Perhaps the first step would be more like “You know that’s illegal, right?”, and see how they respond before calling the police. However, there is a U.S. epidemic of death from misuse of opioids, (the recent reduction in life expectancy in the U.S. has been attributed to opioid misuse) and even people who take them as prescribed can get addicted; so law enforcement may be the most appropriate first step. OP, please at least let your coworkers and others know that what Nina is doing is illegal and help them to “push back” and tell Nina that they are not interested in committing a federal crime or in helping to put her in prison for pushing. I’m sorry you are having to figure out how to handle this, but your question may have helped others learn a bit about “pushing”.

      9. AKchic*

        The harshest option is actually warranted here.

        She is pushing medications without a medical license or pharmaceutical license, and does not know anyone else’s medical history. She is willing to risk serious harm and / or death simply because she *thinks* her bag of goodies is better than whatever their medical advisors have prescribed. She will not take “no” for “no”. She is pushing powerful medications (read: drugs) on people. She didn’t just buy these at any gas station. She had to get them from a doctor. Or a drug dealer who got them from a doctor, or stole them from someone, or bought them from someone who got them from a doctor. Either way, they came from a manufacturer who intended them to go to people who were in a lot of pain (I know, I take some of these medications in order to function like a person who isn’t in pain 24/7). The hoops a person has to go through to get some of these medications, and then to just offer them up to strangers? Yeah… I’m not buying it. I’m calling her out as a potential dealer.

        Dealers are not misguided. They are not sick science teachers glamorized by a tv show. They are generally violent people who will happily do violent things to you and recruit stupid people who will happily learn to do violent things too. I also know *this* from my own past (which I won’t explain here).

    6. Keep it Professional*

      I don’t quite understand, if she possibly does have a legit reason for having these pills, why she would be giving them away?!
      Maybe she goes to a pill mill?
      I dunno, but having been in the type of pain where docs prescribe that stuff to you, I would never share my pills.

      1. Observer*

        Exactly. The fact that she has so much extra narcotics to share says that she doing something very shady to get them.

        Which is another reason to report her to the police. Someone is either helping her get these drugs or is being incredibly careless about their prescribing. The police will certainly be looking for her source. I’d be willing to bet that they will be MORE interested in her source than in her.

      2. AEM*

        OP here and I agree, my friend and I are trying to make sense of this as well. Nina told my friend her prescribing doctor is no longer in the picture so I’m totally baffled.

        I have a chronic pain problem that is not well managed at the moment and I am dreading the day I run out of narcotics since I’m no longer seeing the doc that prescribed them. I take pride in the fact that I take them responsibly and it would be very hard for me to part with any of my pills. I’m worried I won’t be taken seriously even with a documented history. So I don’t know what’s happening here but I’m positive it’s nothing good.

        1. AKchic*

          Yeah, none of that adds up. Make the anonymous report at the DEA’s website. I have worked with them for the last 7 years on a volunteer project and they are great to work with.

      3. Decima Dewey*

        As a librarian, I’ve had trainings on medical resources. And in every one it’s been stressed that I’m not allowed even to paraphrase medical or pharmaceutical information. Or give any advice other than consulting a doctor. Doing so would put me in danger of being charged with practicing medicine without a license.

        It sounds to me as though Nina is dangerous and needs to be stopped.

  4. ..Kat..*

    Pushing prescription medications (I.e., medications that are only available by a prescription) is illegal. Pushing Schedule C drugs is really illegal. Giving medical advice that she is not qualified to give is bad. Does her company know she is pushing narcotics on their property? Do they know that she is practicing medicine without a license? On their time? On their property? While acting as a representative of their company? These are all actions that her company should be very unhappy about and should shut down. If not, as Magenta Sky says, easy bust for the police.

    1. Cathy*

      At least in my state, sharing Schedule II narcotics is a felony. It doesn’t matter that she is not (from what I could tell in the letter) selling them, just sharing/trading them is still a felony.

  5. Ann Furthermore*

    OP 1, if you feel it wouldn’t be too hard on you, could you agree to cover one of the extra shifts in the interests of being a “team player?” If you think saying no will cause drama and unpleasantness, this might be a way to smooth things over.

    Your colleague’s suggestion, is, of course, ridiculous, and it’s a stupid way to handle it. It sounds like he’s being lazy and doesn’t want to redo the schedule. And if you’re not up to it, then you should absolutely feel fine saying no. In my 3rd trimester, my OB instructed me to have 30 minutes of bed rest per day when I was working, and gave me a note if I needed it. She would have been pissed if I’d told her I was going to be working more.

    Since you referred to him as your colleague, is it safe to assume that he’s not your boss? If you’re unable to reach a resolution, then it’s time to involve your manager.

    1. SignalLost*

      I get what you’re saying, but it seems like a give an inch take a mile situation. I’d worry the coworker would expect OP to always be that flexible, when flexibility isn’t really the issue.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Fair point. The dude sounds like a tool who had no idea what a woman goes through when she’s pregnant. Even the biggest a-hole I ever worked for was pretty understanding in that regard. A couple of times we disagreed about something and to my horror, I started crying (so unlike me). I apologized for being so emotional and unprofessional, and he told me not to worry about it since he’d been through 2 pregnancies with his wife and understood the number it does on your hormones. If only he’d been so reasonable about other things….

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          When I was heavily pregnant and working in an office, extra shifts were the last things I needed. I was desperate to lie down by 3; I can’t imagine working late into the night instead.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        But it sounds like if the schedule had been done correctly, OP would probably be covering at least one or two of those shifts anyway since they included a person who doesn’t normally work those hours.

        OP should modify Alison’s suggested script and say that of course she’ll work the shifts she should have been scheduled for, but she simply can’t cover them all.

    2. Mookie*

      If you think saying no will cause drama and unpleasantness, this might be a way to smooth things over.

      I think Alison’s script for pushing back against a dramatic reaction to a calm “no, I won’t be able and am not interested in doing that” works well because it just sort of reflects reality. It is really weird to expect someone to “make up*” in advance time off they are legally and ethically entitled to, and if doing that unapologetically and cheerfully results in unpleasantness, the source of that unpleasantness is not the “no,” but an unreasonable person being unpleasant because they themselves made a mistake and they expect the LW to fix that for them.

      I don’t want to encourage the LW to think that she has to smooth anything over because she didn’t do any ruffling and any ruffling that exists has nothing to do with her planned time off, but someone else making a mistake in the schedule. The source of that mistake is this colleague, who apparently flubbed it when scheduling a third colleague who has a certain accommodation to taking specific shifts. That third colleague isn’t being asked to make a sacrifice here or be a team player, to take up a shift they’ve arranged in advance to be exempt from, so it’d be weird to single the LW out to a fix a problem that has nothing to do with her at all. They’ll manage.

      *also, the colleague framing it like this is being disingenuous; the problem he’s trying to get the LW to solve for him is not her upcoming leave but his error, so it’s not about “making” anything “up” but about trying to guilt her into to taking on additional hours to make his life easier instead of figuring out a more sustainable solution that doesn’t put the onus on the LW. Her maternity leave is a red herring or, at best, a pretext.

      1. Mookie*

        He said that this way, I would “make up” the shifts so that everyone would still be responsible for the same amount over the course of the semester.

        I mean, again, this wasn’t proposed when the LW announced her upcoming maternity leave, but only after somebody borked the schedule. Encouraging this line of thinking — somebody taking time off they’re entitled to are required to pay for it, even after having earned it — or creating a precedent for it smacks of discrimination, informally at least. That’s not how it works, and the request would sound more reasonable if everyone was expected to help solve the actual problem, which is not and has never been the LW’s maternity leave. It’s seven shifts. Asking everybody to chip in over the course of an academic term is an easy fix.

        Giving this colleague the benefit of the doubt, they should accept this without complaint. It’s understandable for the LW to be nervous about declining, but I think it’s likely this will be fine.

      2. Defrocksyoursocks*

        Not to mention it’s a dangerously stupid request for a pregnant woman, let alone one in her third trimester.

        Say she agrees to go along with co-worker’s idea, exactly as planned. Except, the extra work stresses her out, which causes complications with the baby. Best case scenario is OP goes on doctor mandated bed rest, and now the entire team is left scrambling to not only cover those extra shifts OP was covering, they also need to find people to cover most, or all, of OP’s regular shifts. And that co-worker is still left with the dilemma of his own construction. No one wins.
        Worst case scenario… is grim…

        OP, say “no”. For your health, for your baby. You’re not obligated to make-up time, as you’ve already earned the time off through your previous work as an employee. He can be as bitter about it as he wants, but he created it, he needs to solve it a different way than shoving all of the responsibility on a someone else. If he still has a problem with it, let your boss know.

        1. namelesscommentator*

          This seems oddly dramatic about the dangers of extra shift coverage. Pregnant woman will not keel over with normal work practices.

          The OP should use Allison’s script and escalate to HR of necessary, because this is active pregnancy discrimination. But suggesting that working extra shifts might cause major pregnancy complications isn’t logical.

          And – this line of thinking seems incredibly dangerous for pregnant woman who ARENT asked to take on the project because their boss doesn’t want to stress them out. Treat pregnant woman like you would treat any other employee.

          1. just another day*

            Way too much tip-toeing going on here. While OP is on the job and not under any doctor’s orders, she should be treated like everyone else.

            I don’t understand why it is being framed as 7 extra shifts, when if scheduled correctly everyone would have had one or two additional shifts, but wouldn’t be “extra”. Why wouldn’t the schedule have been re-written and re-published (and include OP as one of the team members scheduled) when the error was discovered? The schedule-writing colleague seems to be logically-challenged.

    3. VerySleepyPregnantLady*

      I read this one as “work extra in the third trimester,” to which I thought “HAHAHA LOL. No.”

      Second trimester? Ok. Third? That’s just not going to work!

    4. neverjaunty*

      This is a problem created 100% by her colleague. Why it is the pregnant woman’s job to “smooth things over” by giving up her time preparing for the birth of her child?

  6. Daria Grace*

    In addition to possibly reporting the drug dealer to their own employer and the police, I think you should yet your own employer know what’s going on. If one of your company’s staff buys the drugs and has an overdose or other adverse reaction, your company could have all sorts of problems on its hands

    1. Mookie*

      (Just as a reminder, the LW doesn’t work at the company that shares space with Nina’s company; she’s asking for advice on behalf of her friend who works there. But I understand the confusion because, boy howdy, this is a weird one and it’s easy to get distracted by how bizarre Nina is behaving. That that behavior is apparently common knowledge is making me side-eye both companies. Somebody needs to intervene.)

    2. Momofpeanut*

      Calling the police is using a sledgehammer on a problem resolved through notification of management. Yes, what she’s doing is wrong and dangerous; she appears to be motivated by an f*’d up helpful instinct, not an attempt to start a criminal enterprise.

      We should all tread lightly before subjecting another human being to the U.S. criminal justice system.

      1. Someone else*

        You seem to be assuming that notifying management won’t result in them immediately calling the police. I think there’s a 50% chance this situation will result in someone calling the cops. It’s just a question of whether the OP’s friend does it or Nina’s employer does it.

      2. Former HR person*

        Since Nina has made the decision to do something that is illegal, I’m not sure how anyone but Nina is subjecting Nina to the US Criminal Justice system. Maybe the opiod crisis isn’t an issue where you live, but it certainly is where I live, and Nina is part of it.

        1. LBK*

          Not that marijuana and opioids are remotely comparable, but it is kind of flimsy logic to say “if you don’t want to be subjected to the justice system, don’t do something illegal” when marijuana convictions have decimated POC communities. It suggests that the criminal justice system is always right, which is predicated on the logic that a) laws and morals are inherently aligned, b) no bias occurs either in the system or in the people running it, and c) the likely consequence of jail time will achieve the best end result. I think our criminal justice system generally treats non-violent drug offenders the wrong way and makes problems worse rather than better; I’m kinda with momofpeanut that sending Nina off to jail is just putting the problem out of sight, out of mind. Which is find if that’s all you want so she’s not your problem anymore, but it would personally make me uncomfortable.

      3. Lady Phoenix*

        Pretty sure that management will have to call the cops anyway since Nina is giving away veey potent and addicting drugs.

      4. Observer*

        I don’t really believe that it’s just a misguided desire to be helpful. Keep in mind that she’s shown in other ways that she doesn’t care about what other people want or need. Also, there is no way she has this much extra medication without doing something shady. It’s kind of hard to believe that she has so much self sacrifice for her coworkers that she’s willing to lie and do illegal stuff in order to get them narcotics.

        1. LBK*

          But I don’t think she’s doing it out of a desire to get her coworkers hooked on addictive medication, either. I think a bossy know-it-all like this can be motivated by a desire to “help” that’s more condescending than altruistic. It’s not about self-sacrifice, it’s about being smarter than you and therefore knowing what’s best for you. It’s still crappy, but it’s not as crappy as intentionally trying to get someone addicted as people seem to be implying she’s doing.

          1. Observer*

            I don’t think that it’s even a desire to “help” though – the attitude she displays in other contexts indicates that it’s all about herself and controlling others in her environment.

            Even if she’s not trying to hook people on drugs, at this point it doesn’t really matter. She’s gone way past stupid but well meant offers to aggressive pushing of dangerous medications, for reasons which pretty clearly don’t have much to do with the needs of the people she’s pushing this on.

      5. Perse's Mom*

        This feels like passing the buck to me. If her employer finds out about it, they may not inform the police either; they may simply fire her in the hopes of protecting their reputation as most companies probably don’t want to be mentioned in an article accompanying a headline like Local Woman Arrested for Handing out Narcotics on Company Grounds.

        In which case, she’s still out there, pressuring people to take highly restricted medication. Possibly to a whole new set of people in a new job, probably to the people in her immediate social/family circle.

      6. Kuododi*

        Devil’s advocate here…on the other hand the criminal justice system may be the wake up call she desperately needs. Choices come with consequences and in my experience with court ordered addiction clients…the jurisdictions where I worked non- violent first offenders we’re always sent for rehab and social services. I can’t speak for all jurisdictions in the US but I’ve treated my share of dealers and addicts in my time who have been through the system. I’d say it’s about fifty fifty as to which one’s chose to make changes and which ones were so far gone in their pathology nothing could have made a dent.

  7. Drama Llama*

    LW1- Wow! The ignorance of your colleague is almost comical. Going on maternity leave is not “not being a team player.” Yeah, it’s going to be inconvenient. Just like it’s inconvenient when staff get sick, resign, take bereavement leave, or experience some other personal or health crisis that make them less productive than usual. But that’s a normal part of dealing with humans in the workplace. If an organisation cannot cope with reasonable levels of staff absence/resignations/parental leave, that’s an indicator of systematic dysfunction that management needs to address.

    If an employee *always* turns down occasional extra work, yes it can look like they are not a team player. But that’s not what’s happening here. You’re refusing unreasonable extra hours because actually don’t have to “make up” for a legally entitled period of absence.

  8. Not So NewReader*

    #3. Mind boggles. I definitely would move forward somehow if I was in your friend’s shoes, OP. But eyes wide open, she is getting that supply of drugs from somewhere. I know in my area some docs are known for writing too many scripts for heavy duty stuff. I also know that some pharmacy people can skim. This maybe part of a larger story. My best thought is if your friend goes forward she should make sure a number of people know what she is doing, she should keep in contact with responsible people as she processes through this.

  9. ChaoticGood*

    OP #4, glad to hear you aren’t considering their offer to stay. Sounds like you have a great script in hand. But just for anyone who might read this, here is a career truth I saw in your letter: It’s never worth it to stay somewhere if they magically cough up an offer *only* because you’re going to leave because of it.

    If you made it clear that your needs were a big deal, and only *now* they think you’re worth it (and nothing else substantial has changed, i.e. a personnel change-up), that means you also were worth it back when you asked. So – what, they’ve been underpaying you this whole time, and their offer going to retroactively include the extra pay that it’s now clear you were worth that whole time? Of course not.

    Why would it take the ‘threat’ of you leaving for them to cough it up? Because this is not a workplace that will respond even if you present a good case. This is a place that will only respond to ultimatums. And the next time, they’ll respond in the same way: in fact, you’ll have ‘trained’ them that it’s not important enough for them to act unless you have gone looking for another offer to use as the threat. All that extra work – job seeking, interviewing, scoring an offer – just to get what you want at your current job? No.

    You want a workplace that doesn’t require all that. You want a place that will hear you out on the big issues.

    Good luck!

    1. neverjaunty*

      All of this. As someone once wisely said, people whose attitude is “it didn’t matter when it was a problem for you, only when it became a problem for me” are never going to treat you well.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      This is such a great comment.

      And really, I think in a situation like this, you need to ask yourself two questions:
      1. Why did I want to leave?
      2. Will those things change if I stay?

  10. MommyMD*

    Tell the pill popper it’s against Federal law for her to furnish narcotics to any other person and unless she wants a visit from the DEA or the cops, to knock it off.

    1. DArcy*

      Given how aggressive and persistent the OP describes this coworker as being, it would also be completely reasonable to say that she’s already had more than enough chances and that the OP should report her directly to the DEA. They even have a convenient online form for doing so: https://www.dea.gov/ops/submit.php

  11. Defrocksyoursocks*

    #2 I don’t see anything wrong with adding a handful of cookies, or other small, easily made treat, along with the card. Sometimes it adds more of a personal flare, without really being considered a “gift”.
    If that’s your style, of course. Kind of like the giving your teachers an apple thing? Nothing really fancy enough to call a gift.

  12. AdAgencyChick*

    #4, it’s kind of you to worry about your boss, but her workload is not your responsibility. She’s in charge of taking care of herself — so if you quit and that means she’s asked to do your work, she can try to manage up and get her boss to redistribute the work more equitably (or hire your replacement quickly), or she can also look for a new job. But none of that would be your fault. You take care of you!

  13. Wintermute*

    #3– I…. my brain just broke a little. Not only is she enthusiastically committing a felony, at work, she’s being unusually conspicuous in doing it!

    I’m vaugely nervous about people knowing I have PERFECTLY LEGAL over-the-counter nootropics in my desk because they might look a little bit strange, I’d be nervous to give a co-worker anything more than advil even if legal!

    As much as I’d love someone to come up and offer me high-grade narcotics, this is a workplace, not a rave, and she’s a co-worker not a club kid in a Dr. Suess hat and heart-shaped sunglasses.

  14. a different Vicki*

    #3 isn’t a case of someone sympathetically offering an oxycodone pill to a coworker in response to “my toothache is so bad I can’t concentrate, the dentist can’t see me until Monday, and I already took Advil and Tylenol.” It’s someone aggressively telling people “your doctor is wrong, ignore them and take these pills I just happen to have here.” I don’t know what’s going on here, but the fact that she won’t take “no, thank you” as an answer is a bad sign.

    Put that together with the weirdness about Christmas gifts to people who actively don’t want them, and it might be some kind of control/dominance thing rather than a set-up for “now that you’re used to the benefits of this pill, I can get you more for a low, low price of only what the traffic will allow, in small unmarked bills.” But it’s neither legal nor intended kindly. (I know someone who is cavalier about “here, have a few” with her prescription stimulants, but it’s an offer, not a demand: when people say “no, thanks” she doesn’t insist.)

    1. AEM*

      Hmm looks like the post I made recently did not go through. OP 3 here and I have to agree she was too pushy to be ignored. My friend (who, full disclosure, is actually my mother) said at first she thought Nina was just trying WAY too hard to make friends/connections in a new workplace but it ended up progressing past that. However she’s still unnerved from being offered drugs illegally for the first time in her life and I think she was so uncomfortable she was having difficulty seeing how important it was to say something. That’s why I wrote in, I hoped Alison and all these lovely commenters would help her know that she needed to speak up. And you all really did, so thanks. She thought there was nothing she could do about this crazy woman in her office and y’all helped her see that there was something she could and should do. (And she says thanks for that too by the way.)

      But she never got the chance. Nina was fired last Friday. I don’t know who my mom heard this from but it was supposedly due to ‘repeated mistakes’ and that Nina ‘was not a good fit’. We think it’s more the latter in this case, considering how disliked she was in that office and perhaps word about the drugs reached her boss.

      As far as I know the police were never involved and Nina walked out on her own with her things, saying she’d be back to say goodbye but never did. Once the shock blows over I’m going to try and get my mom to make a call to authorities anyway but I don’t know if she’ll be willing to take such a step. I’ll read her some of these comments again and see if I can help her work up the nerve to report it.

  15. AKchic*

    #3 – the pill pushing is in a grey area of illegality. It’s one of those he-said-she-said issues until it’s recorded or law enforcement is the one she happens to offer it to/push it on.
    She’s not a doctor. She’s not a licensed pharmacist. At this point, she is a wannabe dealer. She is pushing heavy narcotics on people without knowing their medical information and that is extremely dangerous. If someone were to actually *take* anything she offered and got sick off of it (or worse, died), she would be held liable.

    If she is on a pain contract (and she should be, considering all of the narcotic pain medications she is pushing on people, and is supposedly on), then what she is doing is actually against her contract and would void her pain contract. By offering to share her prescriptions, she voids her contract, meaning her doctor (and the office she goes to) would refuse to see her anymore.
    If she is not getting these medications via a doctor and pharmacy – where is she getting them?

    Her manager needs to be aware of this. However, I’m going to assume that if she is offering everyone within the building her medication, she’s probably already done this to her manager at least once and the manager spoke to her and thought the situation was “taken care of”.
    I am shocked that anyone would offer up so many different choices for painkillers in an office setting so brazenly. It suggests that she is either trying to bribe people into liking her, or she is trying to set up her own “shop” for dealing.

    I’d call the authorities. Let them handle little miss wannabe doctor.

  16. SenatorMeathooks*

    Pushing schedule 2 medications to those without a prescription for it is a felony. If it’s ‘public knowledge’ and someone dies from accepting some pills, it’s not just that co-workers ass on the line, the company might have liability. Shut that nonsense down right now, that woman is a liability beyond the religious mockery.

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