I’m getting a smaller raise because I negotiated when I was hired, talking publicly about career struggles, and more

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

1. I’m getting a smaller raise because I negotiated when I started

I’ve been working for my current company for just over a year now. My boss has been thrilled with my work, and a few months ago he verbally expressed that he would like to give me a merit raise. He said we would discuss it at another time as the raise wouldn’t kick in until performance review time, early this year.

Now that performance reviews are here, my boss shared that my “great” merit raise was only 1.75%. I was taken aback by this because I was expecting something more, given my review for the past year exceeded expectations. Later on in the meeting, I was able to express to my boss that the raise was less than I expected. He countered that because I negotiated my initial salary before joining the company last year, that he could not give me more now.

I was very jarred (and angered!) by this. Why would my initial salary, one that was set prior to me working for the company and my boss seeing my skill set in action, negatively affect me now? Shouldn’t I be rewarded for exceeding the expectations that were set under my initial salary?

As a young woman with eight years of career experience, this discourages me. I was originally proud to have negotiated a small additional sum for myself (I was making a big job change — and I followed tips to negotiate from Ask a Manager!), and now I feel reprimanded for it. Is negotiating your salary a valid reason to not receive a raise at a later time? If I do petition for more of a raise now, will they hold it against me for future salary reviews?

Agggh, this is really irritating. If increasing your initial offer meant that your future raises would be limited, he should have told you that at the time. But I doubt that was his intent at the time — I think he’s using it as a way to justify things now. And it’s not reasonable. Your starting salary was based on your worth to the company, and your raise now should be based on that as well.

It’s possible that he’s saying that he brought you in close to the top of the salary band for your position and so he’s limited in how much he can raise it now. But if that’s the case, he should say that explicitly.

You could go back to him and say something like this: “My understanding was that my starting salary was based on my worth to the company was when I first started. If my performance since then can’t earn me much more than I started at, we’re canceling out the benefits of that initial bump to my starting salary. Give the results I’ve gotten over the last year like X and Y, I’m hoping we can go up to closer to $X, which I think fairly reflects the work I’m doing.”

(That said, make sure X is realistic — research the market rate for your work in your field and in your geographic area. And also know that the average raise is actually pretty small — about 3% on average, and about 5% for top performers.)

2. Talking publicly about career struggles

I’m preparing to begin a career in academia. As everyone probably knows, careers in this field have grown increasingly precarious, and more and more early career scholars find themselves in cycles of short-term contracts, adjuncting, and a general lack of stability. There is a vibrant community on Twitter in the particular area that I hope to enter, and there has been more and more of a push for and acceptance of scholars of all ages being candid about career difficulties and the mental health strain that often attends a life in scholarship.

I think more honesty on these topics is good for everyone. However, I’m also unsure about how to balance honesty with a fear of turning off employers and gaining a bad reputation. In my previous field, I had a mentor caution me about talking too frankly on social media about my struggles with finding a job, because prospective employers might see it and think I seem cynical or lack circumspection. I really took that to heart, and have been very cautious since. However, I see a specific colleague tweeting with frustration about specific interviews, hiring committees, etc. (never naming names, but surely it would be obvious to anyone involved who she’s talking about, because she’s complaining about an interview she had that day, and they’d know she interviewed with them that day). This seems like an example of exactly the kind of thing my mentor cautioned me against, and seeing someone else do it makes it clear to me how off-putting it often can be. But maybe I’m just reacting out of an outdated sense of propriety, and these are exactly the kinds of conversations and complaints we should be more comfortable hearing? And what are the odds an employer will see them, anyway? How can I balance my desire to push these conversations out into the open with the fear that I’ll turn off prospective employers in the process?

It’s useful to talk in general about career difficulties in the field. But that’s a different thing than venting on social media about specific employers or specific interviews. The latter comes across as very personal venting and, as you noted, can be really off-putting. (Who wants to interview someone who may then go complain about them on Twitter? And those vents by nature will come across as naive — everyone has tough interviews and disappointments, regardless of the broader conditions in the field.)

And the odds of an employer seeing her comments aren’t terribly low. Employers google candidates! Sometimes they do it post-interview. It would just take one person from the hiring committee thinking, “I want to read more about that piece she wrote on X,” googling her, and seeing her Twitter feed.

She’s also making herself look bad to people she might want a job from (or to network with) in the future. Even people who are sympathetic like you might think twice before connecting her with someone about a job, knowing that she might complain about the process on Twitter.

You don’t have an outdated sense of propriety; it’s still bad judgment to vent about your job search in the equivalent of the town square. There are better outlets for that, like talking with friends and colleagues in more private spaces. And there is room for public conversations about career struggles too, but those typically take a broader perspective, rather than “I’m really frustrated with how my search is going this week.”

3. My coworker has a degenerative condition and wants me to drive her to work every day

I have a colleague who suffers from a degenerative condition. We are also what I call “work friends” — we get on well, but I wouldn’t arrange to meet up outside of work, mainly because I prefer to keep my work and social life separate. This colleague doesn’t drive, and as she lives on my route to work I routinely drove her there, back, or both. Her condition unfortunately deteriorated and several times this resulted in her not being ready when I went to pick her up. This resulted in both of us being late, for which I was reprimanded and she was not, due to her condition. I don’t think this was right, but it’s not the core of the issue.

She was away from work for the better part of a year following the above, and having gotten medication under control is now ready to try working again. Her condition has deteriorated to the point that she will need to use a wheelchair.

It has become clear that she still thinks I am going to provide transport for her. I’m unwilling to do so for two reasons. First, I have no reason to believe that she’ll be any better at being on time now, and I don’t want to be reprimanded for being delayed by someone else. Second, I’m just not willing to lift a heavy wheelchair in and out of my small car twice a day. I’m a 5’2″ woman in her 40s, and I just don’t want to do it.

I’m a bit stunned that she hasn’t even thought to ask if I’m okay with this, to be honest – I’m getting the impression that she thinks we’re better friends than we are and that I will of course do this out of friendship. How can I bring this up with her — any advice? Is it possible for it not to become a big thing? At what point, if any, do I need to get our manager involved?

The easiest way: “Jane, I’m so sorry, but my schedule has changed since last year and I won’t be able to drive you to or from work anymore. I wanted to let you know right away so that you can make other arrangements.” (There’s more advice here on how to explain that.)

It might be better, though, to explain where you’re coming from — that you can’t risk being late in the mornings and that you’re not comfortable lifting a heavy wheelchair. But those both open the door for some pushback (she could promise she won’t make you late, she could tell you the wheelchair is easy to lift, etc.), so you’d need to figure out whether or not any of that would change your answer. If it wouldn’t, you might be better off not opening the door to that — but it depends on your relationship with your coworker and how reasonable she is.

4. My coworker doesn’t want to hire a candidate because she’s engaged

I’m in charge of coordinating the hiring process at my job. After a first round interview today, I was debriefing with my coworker, who was the sole interviewer. My coworker said the candidate seemed qualified and a good fit, but then brought up that the candidate was engaged to be married. He then said something along the lines of “well, there may be big changes in her life which could be a concern” and “there could be circumstances in her family life that arise.” He never used the words pregnant or baby, but it was definitely implied. I was silent in response, but I think I should have said something. For context, I’m a woman in my 20s and he’s a man in his 50s. We’re a small organization and I hold all HR functions but am new to this role. Was this an inappropriate comment for him to make? If you were me, would you have said something in this situation? If so, what would you say?

Yes, it was inappropriate! He’s using veiled language to say “I’m worried she’ll have a baby.” Federal law says that’s discrimination against women (because that concern is disproportionately applied to women).

Because you’re HR, you’re in a perfect position to address this with your coworker. Go back to him and say this: “I should have said something when we talked the other day, but I wanted to flag it now. It sounded like you were saying you were wary of hiring Jane Smith because she’s engaged and she might get pregnant. Federal discrimination law actually specifically makes it illegal to use that as a reason not to hire a woman, so I want to be really careful that we’re not letting that play any role in the decision. And of course, even beyond the law, we wouldn’t want to avoid hiring women of child-bearing age! We’d be a weaker organization if we avoided anyone who might have a baby at some point.”

5. Can I have guests in my hotel room when I’m traveling for work?

I’ve recently transitioned to a new role in my company that requires helping to oversee the operations of certain industry conferences. These conferences last several days and require long hours, and my company always provides a hotel room at a hotel close to the event location that has been booked on our behalf. (We don’t have the option to book our own travel.) For an upcoming conference, I will be travelling to a city where I have a few close friends, and I want to invite my friends to hang out with me in my hotel room in order to catch up. This would take place after my work for the day has entirely concluded and I would be on my own personal time.

Our company has no handbook or guideline on hotel usage so far as I can tell. Should I ask for permission from my supervisor before inviting friends over to my hotel room? I feel silly going to my supervisor with this question because I do not see how this could affect my employer in any way. However, I’m new to workplace travel and I don’t want to inadvertently violate a workplace norm.

No, that’s fine for you to do. You’re an adult who’s allowed to have guests in your room. My only caution, which probably doesn’t need to be said, is don’t have a raucous party or otherwise be disruptive, especially if any coworkers are staying in the same hotel. You don’t want a coworker to walk by your room and hear what sounds like a loud party or see bourbon bottles scattered in front of your door, etc. But otherwise, you’re fine.

{ 465 comments… read them below }

  1. Thornus67*

    With #4, the law recognizes the legal fiction of the Fertile Octogenarian. So really, any woman who can be legally employed is presumed to be a woman of child-bearing age!

    He said knowingly disregarding which area of law the Fertile Octogenarian comes up in as an attempt at humor.

      1. neverjaunty*

        To be fair, one could give Boss Dude a pass for screwing up the Rule Against Perpetuities. But not for talking himself out of hiring someone who might someday be pregnant, which just makes him a glass bowl.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          My favorite fact about RAP is that it is one of the only principles for which a lawyer cannot be disciplined/disbarred in California. That is, if you mess up on RAP for whatever reason, it is not considered evidence of incompetence because it’s so easy to screw up that they’ve given attorneys a perma-mulligan.

          1. Noah*

            I’m a disciplinary defense lawyer in California. There are about 20 things incorrect about what you said.

      2. JB (not in Houston)*

        Ha! I’m guessing I’ll be the minority of Alison’s lawyer commenters on this, but I love working with the Rule against Perpetuities. I don’t want to derail, so that’s all I’ll say on that.

        More to the point, what this guy is doing is not ok, but it’s also sadly not at all surprising. I understand the OP not pushing back in the moment. As many have noted before, sometimes when people say something like that, you’re so surprised that you don’t know what to say.

    1. Temperance*

      I literally twitched when I saw that you used the phrase “Fertile Octogenarian”. If I never hear it again, it will be too soon.

        1. Temperance*

          LOL I may suggest this to Booth. Only my lawyer friends will get the joke, but that’s hilarious.

      1. Thornus67*

        It’s better than the other side of that legal fiction – the Precocious Toddler, the assumption that a woman is fertile from the time of her birth.

    2. Triumphant Fox*

      I mean, you’re not that far off. Isn’t the oldest woman to give birth in her early seventies?

    3. JGray*

      This is more personal than work related but I know someone who had an “oooops” baby at 52. It was genuinely an accident- her and her husband have grown children in their 20s. She thought she was going through the change but nope baby. She has since had another child too. So as you said anyone can be of child bearing age. What would this coworker say if they pass over the engaged woman in her 20s for someone older who then has a child (or two).

      1. bookish*

        Uugggh. Not only is it not okay but it’s not even like she indicated that she wanted to have kids, or have them anytime soon! It’s entirely on this guy’s assumption! Just so many annoying aspects of this….

  2. Namelesscommentator*

    #3 a second vote for leaving no wiggle room, just a “my circumstances have changed and I’m no longer able to give you a ride to work.”

    I am also appalled at you getting into trouble for the tardiness. I would have a hard time biting my tongue at that.

    1. Augusta Sugarbean*

      I like “circumstances” better. If the LW’s schedule really hasn’t changed, that could be another point the coworker could argue.

      1. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish*

        I like “no” even better. Her mobility issues are not anyone else’s problem, especially someone who gets reprimanded for trying to be nice to her.

        1. Squeeble*

          There’s no reason not to soften the answer, though. A firm but kind “no, because X” will get the point across without being unnecessarily cold.

          1. Aphrodite*

            I agree. Justifying your “no” may, depending on her personality, get her to argue whatever reason it is you give. A simple, gentle but firm “no, I’m sorry, but it’s not possible” repeated if needed is all you really need and should use.

          2. disconnect*

            Reasons are for reasonable people. “No, because X” invites “but A or B! therefore yes!”. A reasonable person would understand that no means no. Is that what you have here?

            1. Squeeble*

              I was mostly responding to the idea that OP should just say “no” and nothing else. If you’ve had an arrangement for a while and suddenly that arrangement is going to change, it’s reasonable to have some kind of conversation about it.

              1. Jennifer Thneed*

                Agree that it’s nicer to say more than “no”. However, there was an intervening break in the arrangement which really makes it easier to make a change. (LW says of the coworker: “She was away from work for the better part of a year”.)

      2. Topcat*

        I’m astounded that the woman would presume she would be getting (free?) transport now she is in a wheelchair. That probably wouldn’t even fit into many people’s cars.

        As hard as her condition is, she is now disabled and needs to reach out for appropriate support that is hopefully available to her. This might included free or subsidised transport, a disabled badge/adapted vehicle, or whatever else.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I’m wondering what medium she’s using to contact the OP, as she’s not back at work yet and the OP prefers to keep work and home separate. I’m wondering if, for example, it’s work email or text messaging or social media. If it’s anything other than work email, you might want to have a think about very carefully withdrawing some boundaries, like not replying quickly to text messages. Just a thought.

      1. Espeon*

        Yeah, I keep my work and personal life separate and that means no one has my personal number or email address, and no one on my (almost-impossible to find) social media accounts. You want to find me outside of work? Hire a PI!

      2. Willow R*

        OP here – I probably should have mentioned that, she has come into the office a couple of times to check accessibility/meet with managers. On these occasions she gets a taxi to the office and will usually join me for lunch.

      3. Ra hel01*

        Block her on social media. Say no. It’s not your responsibility. If employer pursues it, remind them about getting in trouble for her making you late.

    3. Casuan*

      Sorry that you’re in such a sensitive situation. From my own experiences, here’s a perspective from how Jane might react when you talk with her. I hope it helps.

      Be as kind & direct as you can, in that directness itself can be a form of kindness. Resist the temptation to over-explain & be okay if there’s an uncomfortable silence.
      assuming Jane is a good & reasonable person… At first, Jane might be a bit put off because she’s surprised at your change of heart*. She might try to bargain. Just be clear with what you can & can’t do as well as the time-frame. Depending on her condition she might get overly emotional [without meaning for it to happen] from embarrassment & frustration… not only would she be processing that she’ll need new transport she might realise how much you really have done for her for so long.

      You’ve been amazing to have helped Jane for so long & I hope that after she gets things settled she can tell you how much she appreciates all you’ve done for her!

      *You haven’t had a change of heart, although Jane might perceive this as such.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I don’t know that OP needs to have Jane’s feelings for her. I also don’t think Jane needs to be treated like some kind of fluffy bunny who can’t handle hearing no. That will help exactly nobody.

        1. Casuan*

          Oops, that isn’t at all how I meant it- especially not the fluffy bunny scenario!
          Rather, my comment was an attempt to show the OP how Jane might react when OP tells Jane that her circumstances have changed. This is why I suggested that OP be as direct as possible. Also I think that Jane should know that OP has gotten reprimanded bcause she helped Jane.

          It’s one thing for us to advise the OP, yet it’s totally another for the OP to talk with Jane in the moment & perhaps in person. My comments were meant as a type of prep; Alison said that certain approaches might “open the door for a pushback” & I suspect that anything OP says might have a pushback.
          Some of this might have to do with how they communicate, which can preclude certain pushbacks.

          1. Drama Alpaca*

            Well, she MIGHT react in all sorts of ways! Why did you choose this particular (fluffy bunny) possibility to single out for comment? Why not the reaction where she flies into a furious rage, or the one where she shrugs and says “OK”, or the one where she sulks in silence, or any of the other many reactions a person might have?

            The OP needs to clearly and firmly communicate “no”. How the coworker feels and reacts to that is not OP’s problem to manage.

            1. Casuan*

              Drama Alpaca, I was just trying to help the OP with a perspective from Jane’s POV. I don’t presume to know how Jane will actually react so I chose the most likely scenarios based on my own experiences. Sometimes it helps to look at something from another angle & that’s what I was doing here. Discussing this on a blog & doing this in real life are two very different scenarios.

              I just don’t think this discussion will be as simple for OP to say “No” & then walking away & leaving the colleague to her own reactions. This doesn’t mean that OP should be prepared for a long discussion & as I said she should be as direct as possible. Of course OP can say what she thinks best & Jane can react & feel however she wants.

              Oddly, it is just as likely that Jane will shrug & say “OK.” That’s the scenario I’d like to happen!

              1. MLB*

                But honestly, the only thing she needs to prepare for is to say no until Jane accepts this answer. There is no need to explain further, provide reasons or excuses as to why she’s saying no. She just needs to say no and hold her ground.

                1. Mikasa Ackerman*

                  You can keep the cold “no’s” for if she reacts badly and keeps asking. But this is the first time it’s being brought up, so why insist that being nice is so horrible?

                2. ket*

                  Not true for those of us who get a bit anxious about these things. Making sure I had some lines ready for various scenarios would make me feel much better about this discussion. Sure, in some just world you don’t have to think about how people will react or be prepared for it — your answer is your answer — but I’ve been blindsided or talked into something too many times to be comfortable for that.

            2. Reba*

              No need to tear apart Casuan’s comment. As they said they are sharing something from their own experience!

              1. Bostonian*

                No kidding! Holy crap, talk about the comment police. Just because Casuan’s advice doesn’t fit into the box of what some people would find useful doesn’t mean they have the right to take her words and exaggerate them x 100.

            3. LBK*

              Oh, come off it. Sometimes people try to be nice and considerate in approaching a difficult topic, especially in cases where the person is undergoing some hardship and where they have a vested interest in being able to get along as coworkers. Empathy is not a weakness and there’s no reason to be so harsh and stick to a flat “no” in a situation like this. It’s way too aggressive and borders on mean. Save that for when people are actually doing something wrong.

          2. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

            I’d be careful about mentioning the reprimand. Jane may go to OP’s boss and secure permission for OP to arrive later/leave earlier because she is now the “official” designated driver.

            1. Willow R*

              OP here – Jane already knows about the reprimand, because we have the same boss. That’s what’s so annoying about getting that in the first place – we were arriving on the same team, at the same time, and the boss was well aware why I was late as well as Jane.

              I suspect – though I don’t know – that Boss is getting tired of handling Jane’s needs and would rather Jane quit work due to her condition. That actually isn’t as brutal as it might be elsewhere, since the company offers an insurance which would give Jane 60% of salary until retirement, and I think that in time it might be what happens. But obviously, it’s not up to Boss to decide that Jane needs to do this, while she is still capable of working with accommodations and wants to continue as long as possible. I think that by issuing reprimands to me previously, she wanted me to stop driving Jane – which I would probably have to have done even had the additional complication of not transporting a heavy wheelchair come into play.

              1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

                That is terrible. Just to be clear – there is nothing wrong with you deciding not to go to all this extra work and trouble, you have every right not to. But for your manager to reprimand you in an attempt to manipulate you into not helping her – that is a shitty move up one side and down the other.

              2. Midlife Job Crisis*

                OP – has Jane looked into contacting social services or other transportation methods?

                1. Willow R*

                  Not as far as I know. I think I need to speak to her as soon as possible to give her the chance to do this.

                2. Tuxedo Cat*

                  She absolutely should… Relying on the OP is just a bad idea, even if OP didn’t mind. There are a million reasons why the OP might not be able to help.

              3. Boredatwork*

                Your boss sounds like a passive aggressive jerk. I think the sooner you can tell Jane the better, she’ll need to make arrangements for transportation and that may take some time.

                OP – this is 100% not your responsibility and you are a wonderful human being for driving your co-worker to/from work for as long as you did. I have a friend who does not drive for mostly personal reasons and I have to hold extremely firm on my boundaries to not become her personal chauffeur. I’ve had this friendship over decades, and even though I frequently tell her no, we are still friends.

              4. the gold digger*

                That actually isn’t as brutal as it might be elsewhere, since the company offers an insurance which would give Jane 60% of salary until retirement

                I doubt LTD would pay out if all she needs is a ride to work. She has to be unable to do her job, not just unable to drive.

              5. Observer*

                Hm. I have mixed feelings about your Boss’ reaction. On the one hand, it’s good that she is clear that transporting Jane is not your responsibility. On the other hand, she could – and i think SHOULD – have handled it very differently. She should have told you directly that as it is not your responsibility to transport Jane, you can’t come in late, preferably not reprimanding you the first time but putting you on notice.

          3. Ktelzbeth*

            I guess it doesn’t sound fluffy bunny to me. My take away from Casuan’s post was to be kind but clear and direct, regardless of whether Jane became emotional. There is seldom a reason to be mean to someone and being kind to someone doesn’t mean you are treating them like a fluffy bunny. I know I have to prep myself for tears, bargaining, poor behavior, and the like when delivering a hard message, so that I stick to my resolution and don’t give in to make the other person feel better. It’s in that vein that thinking ahead of time that Jane might be emotional but I have to stand firm would be helpful to me, not in having her feelings for her.

            1. Casuan*

              Yes, this is precisely what I meant, Ktelzbeth. Thanks to you & others for putting my comments into perspective!

        2. MM*

          What Casuan actually said was to be direct and firm. They then added that if Jane is silent, or gets very emotional, OP shouldn’t necessarily interpret this as being a singular or direct response to the OP’s actions, but rather the result of a number of complex emotional things going on with Jane. Casuan is trying to help OP not have Jane’s feelings for her, while allowing OP some potential insight on how Jane may feel. OP did open by saying they were friends; it’s not like this is some annoying hanger-on OP has been trying to get rid of for years. I’m all for boundaries, but come on.

        3. Yorick*

          I don’t think this is having Jane’s feelings for her. It is a normal human thing to think about how you might make someone feel, and it can be super helpful to anticipate a potentially uncomfortable reaction they might have.

        4. Mikasa Ackerman*

          Dude… Causan’s comment IS saying no. It’s just not being said in a cold way. How is that treating her like a fluffy bunny?

      2. Jenny D*

        Seconded. Do not over-explain, do not give specific reasons. If you do, chances are that she will negotiate with those reasons – “but I will make sure to be ready on time! And if I’m not, you can just drive on and I won’t be mad! I’ll talk to the managers so you won’t get reprimanded if we’re late! I’ll get a wheelchair that weighs less!” etc. Instead, just say “sorry, this just won’t work for me.” Even if she asks for reasons, you do not have to give them! “No.” is a complete sentence and it is perfectly legitimate for you to use it. You understand that she needs help, but the fact is that you are not able to provide it, and you do not have to answer to her or anybody.

        I know that this is really difficult, especially if you have been socialized to be nice and accommodating. Good luck with it!

    4. Engineer Girl*

      I agree to be kind but clear.
      You’ve helped her in the past but she should realize that transportation is her responsibility, not yours. Asking someone to help on occasion is not in any way the same has being under obligation to do it every day.

      1. Safetykats*

        Being able to just tell someone that you aren’t able to do something, without explaining or justifying your decision, is an important skill. It’s important for two reasons – first, because most of the time you don’t owe anyone an explanation of your reasons, and second, because often giving reasons invites arguments or sounds like negotiating. For example, if you bring up the issue with your coworker making you late in the past, it’s easy for her to interpret that as you actually saying you would be okay being her taxi service if she was prompt.

        Ramona is right; your coworker is an adult and deserves to be treated as such. As a responsible adult, she should be able to arrange her own transportation. Most communities in the US have Dial-a-Ride or some equivalent, and she should be eligible for that service – or it may be possible for her to get a car with hand controls. She has apparently been arranging her own transportation to the grocery store and for medical appointments and such while she’s been off work, so I’m sure she can manage.

        1. Willow R*

          A lot of people – including Alison – are touching on the ‘don’t justify the decision’ aspect, and I think that’s the way I’m going to go on it. Anything else, and it’s going to turn into a big thing.

          Another factor is that Jane, like a lot of people in our country (we’re not in the US), receives a payment from the Government specifically intended to cover extra expenses of getting to work, so in theory extra costs for organising her own transport should be minimal. Unfortunately she has been told that she won’t be eligible to drive, due to issues with her eyesight.

          1. BananaPants*

            Then she’s perfectly capable of using those funds to arrange for her transportation. Just kindly tell her you won’t be able to drive her to/from work anymore, and if she gets mad about it, too bad. It’s not your job to provide her with a ride.

          2. Stella Maris*

            If you changed jobs, moved, were in the hospital, on vacation, etc etc, she would have to find her own way to work then. She needs to do that now, too.

          3. Turboencabulator Engineer*

            I think it’s the best way to go. You definitely want to avoid any reasoning that suggests you can’t drive her specifically because of her disability, just because there are ways people can twist the meaning of that (i.e. don’t mention the lifting wheelchair reason, or the tardiness reason.) I like Alison’s recommendation of “a change in schedule” because it makes the whole thing into a “it’s not you, it’s me” kind of situation. If you feel the need to elaborate, you could say that you no longer go straight to/from work and so aren’t able to pick or drop anyone off anymore.

        1. Dan Rather Not*

          The OP mentions that Jane seems to think they are better friends than they are. I have an acquaintance that is legally blind and she, too, can seem overly familiar with people. I think it’s because she is so often dependent on others, she can misconstrue kindness and/or obligation with more of a close relationship.

          1. Monica*

            As a disabled person, it’s more likely to be the other way round. I am 100% independent (CEO, travel all round the world solo) but people constantly take a interest in me or make an effort to “help me” or take me under their wing, completely needlessly, just to make themselves feel good and bolster their own ego. I naturally interpret such pushiness as interest in me on a personal level, and it’s very hurtful to discover that, for example, an attractive man who keeps calling and texting me has zero interest and is just trying to get good citizen points.

            Tl;dr: it’s not “kind” to treat a person with disabilities any different from anyone else.

            1. OhNo*

              Another disabled person here, and I agree. People who want to help so often approach it as “just being friendly”, that it can be nigh indistinguishable from people who actually want to be friends.

              When I’ve asked in the past why some folks approach it that way, instead of just offering to help like they actually mean to, they’ve said it’s because they don’t want me/the person they’re helping to be embarrassed at needing assistance. Which is silly! Believe me, most disabled people are very familiar with needing or being offered assistance. We don’t need it hidden under the guise of friendship to save our blushes.

          2. MK*

            I would argue that the issue isn’t so much that disabled people misconstrue the bahavior of others, but that some tend to behave towards disabled people with a friendliness that is rooted in “charity”, not genuine liking.

            Also, a lot of people misconstrue the level of their coworkers’s attachment to them. I suppose people with sight-related disabilities might have extra difficulty in that area, simply, because humans rely heavily on visual signs.

    5. BRR*

      I think this is the way to go. Don’t give a reason; just say you won’t be able to. If asked why say because you won’t be able to.

    6. Isabelle*

      I was appalled at her getting reprimanded for being late too!

      I don’t know if this service exists where LW3 lives, but here people in Jane’s situation are taken to and from work in wheelchair friendly taxis. The cost of the transport is taken care of by the employer and/or the person’s medical insurance.

      1. Willow R*

        Jane does receive a payment that’s intended to help with this – it actually took a while for me to remember this – so hopefully it won’t be too much of a hardship for her.

      2. Kelly*

        Something along those lines or a paratransit service was my first thought as well. The OP likely doesn’t have a vehicle that is designed for wheelchairs, including a ramp and space to secure it. There are multiple taxi services where I live that have wheelchair friendly options, in addition to paratransit service provided by public transit.

      3. Topcat*

        My sense is that she may be in denial about identifying as a “disabled” person. For example, if she were hoping to rely on free rides from OP, you might think the first thing she would offer would be a disabled sticker for OP’s car (which OP would surely be entitled to display if she is transporting a disabled person, that’s how it works in the UK anyway).

        The fact that she didn’t suggests to me that she hasn’t really starting looking into the resources she is now entitled to.

    7. Temperance*

      Seriously, it pisses me off that the coworker didn’t make a stand for her friend and admit that it was her damn fault. I would have stopped giving her rides at that minute, but, TBH, I am not the kind of person who would carpool with someone daily anyway.

    8. MLB*

      I’m not understanding why a simple “no” won’t do. It’s like when you get invited to go somewhere, people think they need to make up an excuse when they really just don’t want to go. She requires no explanation. A simple “I’m unable to drive you to work” is enough. She’s not her personal driver, and owes her nothing.

      1. Yorick*

        Well, OP was driving her to work before. It’s unlikely to be a simple conversation where she asks, “can you give me a ride?” OP can’t very well just go up to Jane and say “no” and walk away in this scenario.

      2. Casuan*

        A simple “no” might do & we’re all hoping this is the case.
        The snag is that we’re complex human beings & there are logistics & emotions at play for everyone.

        The image I’m getting is there are those who think that OP should say “Jane, my circumstances have changed & I’m unable to drive you any longer. Gotta go, bye.”
        If someone can do that, then okay.
        I’m not one of them. One can stick to the direct script & still be compassionate enough to listen to Jane’s reply, whether Jane accept that, has negative emotions or tries to bargain. That’s who I am & I like that there are those different than I because they help me to be a better person.

        OP, now that I think of it, you really don’t need more of a script than “No can do” because there’s a good chance that the only thing Jane will hear is “No” & anything else will be just noise.
        As one would do with work scenarios, decide in advance what you’re willing to do or not do to help her in the future. You don’t need to tell her any of these things although it’ll be good to know for the future.
        eg: If Jane’s transport can’t do Tuesdays & she asks if you can.

        Above all, OP, know that you’ve gone above & beyond & you’re not at all a monster if you say no to any future requests.
        Please let us know how this goes.
        Good luck!!

    9. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Seriously! OP gets in trouble and the coworker does not – I am very curious if the ill coworker knows that OP got in trouble and if they did anything to try to explain to management the circumstances. I made a coworker late once and immediately went to our manager and told him it was all my fault that we were late. He listened and fixed her time card then gave me a short lecture about personal responsibility and making sure that my actions don’t negatively impact others. I was 18 at the time so wasn’t upset about the lecture – he was great about teaching norms and what is expected from an employee while balancing that with hiring a bunch of high school and college students.

    10. Josie*

      What is that lady going to do when the OP is on vacation? Carpooling with ANYONE is a HUGE NIGHTMARE! I try to be ‘green,’ but oh HELL NO!

  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    #4 totally has me seeing red. If the candidate were a man who had just gotten married, would he say the same? Parental leave is, after all, on the rise among men. No, of course he wouldn’t, because who assumes that men will have children (and take leave) after they marry?

    OP, please say something. Your coworker’s comments and assumptions materially contribute to a system that harms women for being the only population who can carry children, and it’s wrong, outdated, and deeply patriarchal.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        What if they can’t have them? What if she’s marrying a woman and won’t be the one carrying a baby as her wife is going to?

        My godmother lost out on a job in the 70s because she was a newlywed. It was unacceptable then and is unacceptable now.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Not that any of that is relevant to whether someone should get a job.

          You know what the worst part is? In the UK they found it actually costs more to replace a woman who has a baby than have her return from maternity leave. In sexism land, nobody wins.

        2. Espeon*

          ^ What all of you said. You’ve been far more eloquent than I was about to be – my blood is boiling!!

        3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          My childhood friend’s wife was turned down from a job in the 90s, because she was a newlywed and, even thought she said it in the job interview (when asked about it directly) that they weren’t planning to have kids right away, “yeah yeah, that’s what you all say”. To make it even more awful and unfair, they ended up never having children, because my friend could not have any. They didn’t find out until 15 years later. It wrecked both their lives.

        4. RUKiddingMe*

          I remember reading want ads in the 70s. “Employment Male” “Employment Female.” No, seriously.

      2. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

        As a childfree married person I thought about this too. We don’t want kids at the moment, maybe never. When we got married we didn’t know whether we want kids or not, we only knew we didn’t want them immediately. Still marriage was and is very important to us. It’s not all about kids! And non-married people have kids too.

        1. Casuan*

          there could be circumstances in her family life that arise”

          There could be circumstances in any family life that arise.
          There are circumstances in everyone’s life that arise.
          Planned things happen. Accidents happen.
          It’s just life.

          Please speak up to your colleague, OP!

          1. Ama*

            I’ve lost two coworkers in the last year because they had a parent with serious health issues and had to move closer to home to take care of them — does OP’s coworker propose they also avoid hiring people who have parents living out of state?

            1. what the hot buttered heck?*

              Or, heck, let’s just refrain from hiring anybody whose parents are still alive – even those in-state parents can be a real drain on productivity! Let’s hear it for the orphan-only workforce!

        2. Wintermute*

          This is why mandatory maternity leave is a bad idea. It makes women less employable overall. It comes from a good place but you can’t MAKE employers not be jerks, just like how “ban the box” (banning asking if people have a criminal conviction) has horrific effects on minority employment rates.

          Sure you can change the law but it turns out when you do employers start making some really awful sexist, racist, etc. assumptions.

          1. Bagpuss*

            I disagree. If you have mandatory leave it levels the playing field. Make it parental leave which both paretns can share and it’s better still.
            Yes, some bosses will be jerks, but things such as mandatory maternity leave help to build a society where it isn’t acceptable to be that kind of boss

            1. peachie*

              Yes, I think that parental rather than specifically maternal leave is a specific distinction. At least some leave is necessary for having babies. If the leave is unpaid, it disproportionately affects lower-income families, and if it’s only offered to child-bearers, it disproportionately affects women. I am copy-pasting from a comment I made elsewhere in the internet (in the context of “having babies is a reasonable explanation for the wage gap”), but:

              Regarding [using “babies!!” to justify why women earn less money], I’ve always found this argument troubling. Men and women both want to have children (per a study done by SUNY Binghamton commissioned by Match.com, “men in every age group are more eager than women to have children. Even young men. Among those between ages 21 and 34, 51% of men want kids, while 46% of women yearn for young” [http://blog.match.com/2011/02/04/the-forgotten-sex-men/]). In the vast majority of cases (i.e., excepting cases of adoption, surrogacy, or non-binary/trans parenthood), women have a non-negotiable medical need to take at least some time off work for their family to have children. The common argument that “women are paid less because of maternity leave, and having children is a choice” ignores the fact that both men and women desire children, yet only* women face professional consequences for this choice. (A “choice,” by the way, that a majority of people make: https://www.quora.com/Children-What-percentage-of-people-become-parents) Should women–but not men–be paid less for having children? Some might argue “yes,” but I find that troubling.

              1. New name*

                I wish there was a way to bank “leave” that has nothing to do with your familial status. You want to take time off to have kids, great?! Want to take time off to take care of a parent, great?! Time off to travel the world and find yourself, done?! Time off to sit around, do nothing and just take a break from work?! Do it!

                I know the easy argument is to just quit a job, but not everyone is in that position and it sucks to not know when your next paycheck will be coming. We all have life goals and work should just be a way to supplement that.

                I would love some kind of personal life insurance policy that isn’t tied to your employer or your reasons for taking time off.

                Not saying it is practical, but I can dream….

              2. peachie*

                *an IMPORTANT distinction. Fuzzy brain day!

                (Also, not that this matters, but I am not personally planning on having children–I’m just aware of and frustrated by the extent to which the burden and financial consequences of doing something VERY NORMAL are mostly heaped on women.)

          2. Anon for this*

            I’m Swedish.
            Please, do tell me more about how mandatory leave makes women less employable.
            Preferably with some statistics to back up your answers.

            1. TL -*

              Both Britain and Australia have seen some evidence of systemic discrimination based around mandatory, long-term maternity leave; Germany also has some interesting things going on with mothers and the work force. Sweden still has a wage gap (both in between men and women within the same careers and between men/women in general because of unequal sex distribution in career fields.)

              Sweden also still has majority male managers and the less visibility a group of power has, the more likely it is to be male-dominated. Women also still take the majority of parental leave (75% versus 25%.) These are all from 2016 figures and articles.

              One paper, looking broadly, suggests that leave longer than 6 months has a negative effect on women’s wages; this isn’t seen in 3-6 months leave range.

              What the solution is, I cannot tell you, but extended maternity leave will have some downsides as well as benefits. The decision of how to weigh those factors comes down to the society.

              1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

                Absolutely, there is a wage gap here still, and other issues besides.

                But that those things exist and/or get worse BECAUSE of mandatory leave….

                1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

                  Basically, what countries without mandatory leave have more women in the labor force, less wage gaps and more equal life time earnings?

                2. TL -*

                  Eh, I don’t think you can argue that mandatory leave has made it better – Sweden has a lot of other laws addressing sexism in the workplace, IIRC.

                  I think it’s extremely disingenuous to suggest that a society struggling with sexism somehow puts on magic sexism blinders when looking at women likely to have a child, and take a significant amount of time off, in the near future. The impact could certainly be lessened by culture/society/laws, but I sincerely doubt that it’s not having a least a low-level impact on Swedish women.

              2. TL -*

                I should mention the paper also found that no maternity leave at all tends to increase the number of women who leave the workforce entirely after having a baby by about 2% more than if you do provide maternity leave.

                1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

                  I can’t reply to your comment above, so I’ll do it here!

                  No, of course it! I completely agree. There’s a LOT of sexism, and I’d definitely be wary of telling an employer about pregnancy at “the wrong time”.

                  I do think that women’s chances here have increased partly because of mandatory leave and other protections.

                2. TL -*

                  I’d agree that women’s chances of having a good work/life balance and support for a working mother look better in Sweden! :)

                  I think that if you’re a woman whose top priority in life is to climb to the top of your career, there’s a lot less evidence suggesting Sweden would have better chances than the USA (the USA just because I have a better idea of it as a comparison marker.)

              3. Jenny D*

                Since you mention Sweden, I think it’s also relevant to add that *parental* leave is mandatory, not *maternity* leave. The general rule is 18 months of parental leave, and of those 18 months, each parent has three months that cannot be handed over to the other parent. This means that both women *and* men take parental leave, usually for several months.

                There are a lot of complications, and leave can be stored and used later until the child is 6 or 8 IIRC. But the amount of parental leave taken by fathers increased a lot once they got the first dedicated month.

              4. ket*

                As far as I see it, as a woman you’re screwed if you have it and screwed if you don’t. Women are discriminated against — the stats are clear. So do you want to be discriminated against with leave or without leave? Ask yourself that as your 6-week-old is being delivered to daycare and your C-section incision is still hurting.

              1. Lora*

                OK, I’m looking at Fig 1 in the RAND report and it is factually incorrect. Literally the number of weeks is wrong for several countries. It appears they got the information from the European Parliamentary Research Service At-A-Glance table, but this graphic elides quite a bit of additional benefits. In the EPRS, these are noted in a separate paragraph, but the RAND report simply ignored the footnotes.

                Also, the rest of the RAND report is saying literally the opposite of your argument: That parental leave improves workforce participation of parents, specifically improves the workforce participation (hireability) of mothers. It notes that there is some impact on companies but that the use of temp workers has risen to meet needs for low skilled jobs.

                The Pew Research one has…flaws. I thought maybe because it’s several years old? But I went to their raw data (OECD) and downloaded the whole table for the history of wage gaps since 1975. Then I put in how the maternity leave changed over time per CESifo (in Finland it actually decreased), to control for cultural differences between countries – there’s the long standing argument that Mediterranean countries have historically been more sexist than Scandinavian ones, for example. I got up to the Ns so far, so, you know. Only 12 countries. It’s lunchtime.

                The only country to show a change in wage gap as the maternity leave policies increased was Germany. And Finland was a bit weird, all over the place. The rest had a slope of 0: no correlation between increases or decreases in parental leave policies and wage gap. Belgium’s went down a bit (i.e. lower wage gap with increased parental leave) but it doesn’t look significant.

                If I was being fancy I’d do a two-way ANOVA, or a one-way ANOVA but leave out Finland as a weird outlier (only country in the data set whose maternity leave went down). Sadly I need to get back to work…

                1. fposte*

                  Oh, this is fascinating. I was a bit frustrated that the news articles seemed pretty casually summative of complex data, but I didn’t have the skills to do what you did.

                2. Lora*

                  I can’t post my fancy Excel chart here but I’m happy to send it to Alison if she wants to post it. I just went to the raw data source – the OECD will let you download the full table as a csv. Then I looked up the history of parental leave laws in each country and found a synopsis of many of them on CESifo-group. Put the weeks leave in (combined parental leave) over time and compared x vs y.

                  If there was discrimination happening due to maternity leaves, you would expect to see a change in wage gap as leave allowances increased over time. Some of the increases were quite big: from a few months to multiple years in some countries, so even if you didn’t see a change due to a slight increase (as you might expect from attitudes changing over time) you’d expect to see a backlash over months changing to years all of a sudden. But there wasn’t. Flat as a pancake for everyone but Germany, and the rise in Germany was quite gradual.

                3. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

                  Interesting info about Finland vs other countries. For a reason I as a Finn would guess it has something to do with the fact that we have several different types of leave for childcare. (For example, it’s not all about paid vs unpaid, there’s a part that’s unpaid but you get a child care benefit from the state.) I’m not familiar with the details myself as I don’t have kids. It’s easy to believe that in different researches and comparisons people may have classified things differently and been confused about what parts should be considered maternal leave, and this would mess up the statistics.

                4. Lora*

                  NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter, yes, I looked only at leave in which jobs were held for the person taking leave, but you are correct – there were many changes to legislation in several countries which covered child care funding and how much % had to be taken directly after the birth vs. could be taken before the birth, how much of the leave could be taken by fathers vs. mothers, how much allowance was covered by the government vs. employer funded.

                5. Lora*

                  Filled in more country data. Poland also had increasing wage gaps correlated with parental leave increases, in line with the same rate as Germany. So, two out of 18 countries.

                  It decreased pretty significantly in the US: the wage gap has decreased between the period pre-FMLA and post-FMLA. Wage gap in 1973 when no parental leave was guaranteed was 38%, now at about 19%.

                  Clearly the parental leave policies are not causative, as there’s no correlation. I can’t even reasonably cluster these things by region, like you would expect if it was a “oh those progressive Vikings!” thing. All I can say for sure is that giving a lot of parental leave doesn’t affect the wage gap: in which case, go ahead and be generous and give people whole years of paid leave, it won’t make any difference in wages. Employers might meow a lot to the media outlets, but apparently they build a bridge and get over it.

                6. Myrin*

                  As a German woman, that makes me sad. :(
                  (And is also the complete opposite of what I’d have thought given what I know of friends’ and family’s wages. Oh my.)

            2. Kate 2*

              That’s a fact, actually. Women in countries with lots of leave have more women in the workforce altogether, but far more in lower positions than countries without it, like the U.S. This article has links in it to the specific studies it discusses.





              Just google “does maternity leave hurt women” and you will find studies from all over the world answering “yes”.

                1. ket*

                  Reading the NBER paper is really interesting and much more nuanced than Kate 2 indicates. The gender gap in labor force participation reduced more in countries that instituted leave policies. Is a higher participation in the workforce bad for women? More women work part-time in these countries. Is that bad for women? If you want to see as many women CEOs as possible, a system in which rich women hire substantial home support staff and don’t take leave ever is probably the best. Is that good for women in general?

              1. Lora*

                See my reply to Wintermute above. Raw data says the opposite, there is no correlation.

                I don’t think the people who put together the RAND and Pew studies had any particular agenda, I just think the analyses are extremely shallow and don’t tell you anything useful or interesting. It’s basically the type of report I’d expect from someone who pulled a C+ in undergrad Statistics 201, just kinda thoughtless.

          3. Mookie*

            Mandatory parental leave prioritizes the rights of the laborer, so of course any progress in that regard is going to be met with employer resistance and retaliation, even when it costs them very little. What it does not do, however, is hamper women’s immediate employment prospects as well as future professional development and chance at promotion. You’re arguing against what the bulk of the world already does successfully and with very little fanfare because the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Let’s dig in, already.

            1. Wintermute*

              But the bulk of the world has negative labor effects from this. Women in countries with more leave suffer from worse gender pay inequality and worse unemployment.

              And since I know I can’t get away with saying that without proof, there’s studies I linked above from the RAND corporation and Pew Research and here’s a NYT article that summarizes nicely, with links to more studies: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/26/upshot/when-family-friendly-policies-backfire.html?abt=0002&abg=1

            2. RVA Cat*

              This. I’m imagining that people argued against Child Labor Laws because daggumit those 6-year-olds really do want to work 18-hour shifts in the coal mines…!

              1. fposte*

                I don’t think anybody is saying “Women! Pregnancy! Bootstraps!” though. What they’re saying is that research suggests there are unintended economic consequences to something that sounds like an unmitigated good, and that it’s important not to consider the practice in isolation. Compare it, for instance, to “Ban the box,” the movement to make it illegal for job application forms to have a rote question about criminal records, since it disproportionately disadvantages minorities. Unfortunately, it looks like when you ban the box *all* minority hiring is impacted–rather than treating everybody as if they don’t have a criminal record, employers ended up treating all minorities as if they did.

                That kind of unintended consequence isn’t uncommon, and I think it’s really important to consider how things actually play out as well as how we wish they’d play out. I don’t think it means that maternity leave is automatically/always a bad thing for women either, because the complexities obtain on both sides; I suspect that there are ways to implement it that limit the downside and that we’ll eventually get better at doing that. But that won’t happen if we ignore the negative consequences right now.

          4. bloody mary bar*

            This is classic misogynist propaganda: we can’t help women because that would actually hurt them (and it’s not like we can trust women to tell us what they need, it must be decided for them). Lovely.

            If you don’t make employers “not be jerks”, they won’t just stop on their own. The alternatives to paid parental leave is either that people lose their jobs when they become parents or that people who want to be parents cannot do so.

            The coworker doesn’t even mention benefits as the reason not to hire this highly qualified candidate because the problem is far worse: he can’t see her as a highly qualified candidate because all he sees when he looks at her is a walking, talking uterus. This is why we need workplace protections, because this attitude is still so engrained that I doubt that the coworker even realizes that what he is doing is straight up discrimination.

            1. Jesca*

              I agree. I forget where I read it, but I saw a study that stated that laws SHOULD keep up with popular sentiments among the younger population anyway. For instance, successful change occurs not instantly, but over time. Quick forced change creates culture shock and results in a whole slew of problems backlash (like entire civilizations stop thriving). But, here in the US, it is not uncommon or looked down upon in my generation or younger for a father to stay home with his children. Of course this does not speak for everyone, but it certainly speaks enough. There is a current cultural shift in how people view parenthood and pregnancy in the work place. It will be imperative in the coming years for employers to latch on to this to retain new talent. It makes sense to NOW make that a law to ease into the the already trending cultural shift in regards to women in general.

              There are flash pan revelations currently happening, but the slow burning fire of change has already been rolling in the undercurrent. Awareness of women being held back within society is a certain social awareness coming to the forefront of political and social discussion and discourse. (see: how people, particularly women, reacted by in large to Monica Lewisnki compared to how people react to the women who came out against Weinstein)

          5. Sue Wilson*

            No mandatory maternity leave is not a bad idea, lmao. The implication you’re making is that employers weren’t already refusing to employ women because of the specter of pregnancy. Start! jfc. What do you think we had to overcome to get jobs in the first place! The fact of the matter is that you can’t actually have a national workforce of just men and post-menopausal women, employers know this, and therefore women being employable is not the issue. The issue is that employment being equitable for all genders which parental leave, for both and any parents, solves.

          6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Even if we do away with all parental leave tomorrow, no employer is going to assume that a woman is going to have a baby on Monday and hop right back to work at 8AM on Tuesday. The employers who want to make assumptions, will still make their assumptions, at least as far as the laws allow them. But at least the new parents will have a leave.

            Also, certain types of employers (and even employees, Exhibit 1: James Damore) have been coming up with reasons why they think women are unemployable since the beginning of time. If there’s no parental leave for them to use as an excuse, they’ll just think of something else.

          7. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            Soooo under that theory, women were better employed before mandatory parental leave policies came into effect in most of the world? And women in places that don’t have mandatory parental leave (ie the US) are treated more equally in the workplace when their job doesn’t offer that leave as a benefit?

            I don’t think your cause/effect analysis works out here.

          8. J.B.*

            I believe that a law applying *only to women* is a bad idea. I believe that laws mandating leave and available to parents, children caring for aging parents, people who have health issues themselves, etc etc makes for better functioning of people as human beings.

          9. Observer*

            This is why mandatory maternity leave is a bad idea.

            This has nothing to do with mandatory maternity leave. FMLA doesn’t just apply to pregnancy, for one thing. And for another it’s fairly short, all things considered.

            Besides, the assumption that this woman is going to go on leave is flawed – you have zero idea what her plans and REALITY are. Also, the assumption that the only leave that people take is for maternity is ALSO flawed. Again, you have no idea what plans a guy might have, nor HIS reality. And you simply do NOT know what the future holds.

            Beyond that, it’s also pretty clear that he’s not just worried about her possible pregnancy. But she’s getting MARRIED. Don’tchano that married women aren’t invested in their jobs? And what if her husband decides to move? She’ll just up and go.

            1. fposte*

              Please don’t personally insult people. While the research isn’t provative, she’s not making this stuff up out of whole cloth, and it doesn’t mean she thinks it’s dandy that the research indicates this.

              If you want to challenge the contention, see Lora, who went into the studies and crunched the numbers, or you could go find research on your own.

          10. Gazebo Slayer*

            Oh yay, the “you can’t make employers not be jerks” argument that gets brought up by free-market fundamentalists every single time anyone proposes any sort of employment-related law that might infringe on the whims of the sacred Job Creators.

            Well, guess what. You can penalize discrimination AND require leave at the same time. And while unintended consequences of laws can happen, they can also be mitigated, and most “we shouldn’t legislate anything because unintended consequences” arguments are disingenuous self-serving BS.

            1. Former Employee*

              That reminds me of Rand Paul’s argument against the Civil Rights Act requiring businesses not to discriminate on the basis of race because the South would have eventually come to that on its own. Apparently, based on the idea that discrimination is just bad for business. Yeah, right!

              1. Pomona Sprout*

                Yeah, the south had 101 years from the end of the Civil War to
                the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Exactly how much more time did Paul think we should have given them? Rme

          11. chomps84*

            The solution is to have mandatory PARENTAL leave. Dads get to take time off too. Not offering maternity leave is awful.

        3. Observer*

          And non-married people have kids too.

          >wide eyed gasp< NO! Oh, where is my fainting couch?! It's such a shame that I don't have any pearls to clutch today :(

          Seriously, this guy is in hos fifties, not 90's Which means that the problem is not that the candidate is engaged, but that she's female who isn't a man-hating wanabe man. (If she were, then he'd have a problem with her "fit" no doubt.)

          1. Turquoisecow*

            Yeah, that was my reaction as well – her getting married doesn’t necessarily lead to pregnancy, and a woman’s (hypothetical) pregnancy doesn’t necessarily result from marriage.

            As a fairly recently married woman, I can assure you that the pressure to reproduce did not begin with marriage. It grew more intense when I started seeing my now-husband, but those who were bugging me/us to have kids – a few friends and his mother, mostly – did not wait until we were married, or even engaged. So, if we follow this guy’s logic without the outdated “you must get married before reproducing” line of thought, basically any woman might be a hiring risk.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      This. It’s wrong and as HR you have an obligation to push back HARD. Discrimination based on marital status is illegal.

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        Yes, and I want to stress the word “obligation” here – this is actually your job. If you let this go, it looks like you agree with what this guy has said, and you’re opening the door to further problems down the road. This is very likely going to come up again in some form, so you might want to look into getting some training or resources on how to address it. Good luck!

        1. Observer*

          Yes it is. This is not pregnancy discrimination, it’s sex based discrimination. He doesn’t want to hire her because she is a female and females get married and then go “poof”.

    2. Tuesday Next*

      Also, if you don’t push back on this, he will assume that you’re okay with it, and that will have repercussions for future candidates. Please do say something.

    3. doctor schmoctor*

      A while ago our HR gave all managers a list of questions they’re not allowed to ask during interviews. They include:
      1) So, do you plan on moving back to ?
      2) So, you just got married. Congrats. Are you planning to have kids? (the one manager was just making friendly conversation, without realising how it sounded)

      1. Cordoba*

        “1) So, do you plan on moving back to ?”

        Am I misunderstanding this, or are you not allowed to ask interview candidates if they are willing to relocate to the place where the job is located? That seems like a fair and reasonable thing to discuss, especially if you’re talking with somebody who flew in from a far away place.

        1. Orca*

          My guess would be if the work history shows you’re from somewhere else rather than relocating specifically for the job you’re intervieing for. I’ve lived in my current state 6+ years but get asked where I’m from a lot (accents are different). It also feels frequently like people think I’m visiting. No! I’ve been here a while! I have no plans to move back to my original state. It’s cold there.

        2. Semi-regular*

          I actually think it’s a national origin thing. Like if you’re interviewing someone who is Asian and you ask them if they plan to move back to whatever Asian country. National origin is a protected class, but state of origin is not.

          1. fposte*

            That was my guess. It could be an easy thing to want to ask, especially for somebody with roots in the same country, and it could still be legally problematic.

        3. Triumphant Fox*

          I think this is more, “Oh you’re from California/Germany/New Zealand…plan on moving back any time soon?” when the job is New York.

        4. CM*

          For question #1 (do you plan on moving back to __?), if you’re originally from another country, this could very easily be a thinly veiled discriminatory question.

          I’ve also encountered what Orca mentions below, which is not a legal issue but more of a provincial issue where people assume that if you weren’t born and raised in the area, you’re not “from” there. I remember getting a question like this, and when I said, “I consider this my home, I have no plans to ever return to [birthplace]” the guy said, “Well, you have no ties to the area, so I have no reason to believe you would stay here.” I found that really off-putting. I was in my twenties at the time, so my adult life was only about six years long, but I had chosen to live in the area for most of that time, had bought a house, was involved in community organizations, and most importantly was applying to a job in the area! I still get annoyed when I think about that. Obviously I did not take that job.

        5. Lora*

          No, it’s more about asking people who appear to have non-white heritage if they plan to move back to the country their relatives might be from, even if those relatives moved to the US three generations ago and are long dead.

          Example: I used to work with a guy who had immigrated to the US decades ago. People would try to make small talk asking, “where are you from?” meaning, “India or Pakistan or…?” and he would glare at them and say, “Pasadena.”

          More recent public example, politician asking an expert on Afghanistan why they didn’t have her working on Korean international affairs, simply because she had Korean heritage, even though she was born and raised in NYC.

            1. fposte*

              He came into the office from Pasadena. He is therefore from Pasadena. He’s rejecting the racial/xenophobic inflection on the question, since “from” doesn’t automatically mean “country of birth,” and its use to mean that is disproportionately leveled at visible minorities.

            2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              Ahh, the infamous, “no, where are you REALLY from?”

              If he’s lived in Pasadena for 30 years, he’s from Pasadena. Period, end of. He might someday open up to talk about a country he used to live in decades ago, but not with a stranger making small talk.

                1. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

                  A friend of a friend was born in India and his family moved here when he was still an infant. He answered, “California” (IN HIS California accent, no less) to that question, and they REPEATED

                  “NO… WHERE … ARE… YOU… *FROM*?”

                  He was so pissed. He answered with, “CALLLL….IIII….*FORRRRR*…NIIIIII….AAAAAAA!”

              1. Turtle Candle*

                Yeah. I was an army brat and so ‘where are you from?’ is a complex question, plus most people aren’t actually asking for my entire life story when making small talk. So I just say “Seattle,” because Seattle is where I live now and have lived for ten years. Nobody ever presses; the fact that I hopped all around the world when I was younger only comes up if we’re discussing other things (like if someone else is visiting a place where I used to live, or is from there, or they or a family member is in the military, or something). It’s a distinct privilege of being white; even though I actually was born overseas, nobody thinks twice about me saying I’m from Seattle, whereas people who were born in Seattle but aren’t white often get the “no but where are you REALLY from?”

                1. RUKiddingMe*

                  Another take on this is when people ask “what is your nationality?” My husband answers “American” because he is a US citizen. “No your real nationality.”

                  Apparently the US government saying he is a citizen isn’t ‘real’ enough. Or something… He’s an American. I was there.

              2. Former Employee*

                I have to disagree. I’ve lived in California for all of my adult life and most of my teen years as well. That doesn’t mean I’m from California originally. I’m from (in the sense of where is your place of origin) a completely different state, i.e., the state in which I was born.

            3. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

              I think she meant that her coworker had immigrated himself, but it was so long ago that he’s spent more of his life living in the US than his birth country (potentially even young enough that he doesn’t remember his birth country much at all and doesn’t identify with it).

              “Where are you from?” Can feel really alienating and othering.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            This is like when a congressman asked two South Asian American employees at Department of Commerce to relay messages back to the government of India. Obviously they don’t work for the government of India, and his comments were racist af.

            As someone who constantly gets, “Where are you from?” I heartily approve of your coworker from Pasadena.

            1. fposte*

              Then there was the Navajo state rep in Arizona who was asked by anti-immigration protesters if he was “legal.”

          2. RUKiddingMe*

            My Moroccan husband, an immigrant with an accent gets asked “where are you from” a lot. His answer: Seattle

            My son who was half Asian was always asked “where are you from?” His answer: Seattle (lived here) via California (born there).

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        And just to be clear, these questions are not in and of themselves illegal (a common myth), but they can lead to illegal places in employer’s decision-making. Well, at least #2 could. #1 (do you plan to move back to X?) isn’t problematic in most cases unless it’s tied to ethnicity/national origin.

    4. anonforthis*

      We recently replaced a team member who resigned. The final candidates were 2 women and 1 men. The man got the job, he was an excellent candidate and I’m happy to have him on our team.
      However I also found out one young woman was excluded because my boss thought she was going to have a second child soon.
      I pushed back and my boss said nobody was going to know the reason why we didn’t hire her. My boss is female and she has a bad case of internalized misogyny. This stuff is sadly all too common.

    5. 2 Cents*

      Add me to the “rage flames on the side of my face” bandwagon. What an ass. OP, please say something because this is exactly what the anti-discrimination policies are meant to prevent. You know who else will be undergoing major life changes after a wedding? The groom. Because, you know, I doubt that young woman is marrying herself.

    6. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Well obviously he’d be better off he hired Fergus from yesterday’s GoFundMe letter! That would be far less disruptive than a potential hypothetical pregnancy.

    7. Lora*

      My first job out of college was at a medical device manufacturing facility that had had multiple violations and gotten out of each violation by blaming someone on the bottom of the hierarchy and firing them, then telling the FDA that everything was now sunshine and roses because they fired the one bad actor.

      They deliberately hired young women who were recently married, because, and I quote, “you guys can just go home and have babies, it’s not like you’re going to make a career out of this.”

  4. Enough*

    LW#1 – I’m sorry this happened. Unfortunately it does happen. My son was told a range for his upcoming raise. About 3 months before that he agreed to move offices to the other side of the state. He negotiated a raise at that time with the expectation that it would be an partial advance of his upcoming raise. Well when it came time for the raise the new raise with the negotiated raise was lower than the bottom of the range he had been told. When he asked why it was lower than expected he was told the president decided that my son had gotten too many raises and more than any one else had ever gotten in such a short time, therefor couldn’t have it all.

    1. Bea*

      This is what I was thinking possibly happened. My partner negotiated for the top rate when he started and that meant no raises until a new CBA was drafted and they weren’t close to a renewal.

    2. finderskeepers*

      I don’t see how the situation in #1 is that unusual. A position has an associated pay band and if you negotiate your starting pay to the top of the band, then your future raises will be limited without a promotion

      1. Strawmeatloaf*

        Then the company shouldn’t allow for negotiation of wages and should tell people up front that raises will be based on negotiation instead of springing it on workers when it comes time for the raise.

        1. Judy (since 2010)*

          If she negotiated even a 5% increase on hire, that means she would have had to been given a 6.75% raise this year just to have the same current salary. And then she has a year’s worth of an additional 5% of salary.

          In my experience, your current salary always affects your raise. Pay bands exist for many companies.

          1. Steve*

            It’s always important to set expectations, of course. But if a prospective employer offered me a choice between a 5% increase in starting salary now but a smaller (unspecified amount) raise in the future; or a larger (still unspecified amount) raise in the future. Then heck yes I would choose the increase now. Not only do you get to collect it for a year, but vague promises of raises in the future are not something that you can count on at all.

            Of course I’ve never been offered that choice. I’ve had the opposite happen – my current employer refused to negotiate my starting salary, because they said it would just hold me back for future raises. In their defense, those future raises did come, so all’s well that ends well, but at the time it was a slightly frustrating response to a good faith attempt to negotiate.

      2. The Friendly Comp Manager*

        HR Compensation Manager here … I came here to echo this. Without seeing the market data or the internal ranges in place, I suspect a couple things happening.

        * You were hired high in the range, or high to market, OR even high compared to others in positions with similar scope and responsibility


        * Merit increase budgets are tight, and there are limited funds available. It’s possible that there is another outstanding performer who is paid super-low compared to market/range/internals, and the manager HAS to make the difficult decision for how to allocate those funds, and they have to go to correcting internal equity issues.

        I think your manager could and should have done a better job of setting your expectations when you were hired, and that is his fault. But he *likely* did nothing wrong with allocating the increase you received. There are so many constraints budget and comp-program wise that managers have to deal with. Some deal with it (and communicate to their employees about it) better than others. Unless this becomes a pattern, this is forgivable.

        That said, I would make sure to set the groundwork with your manager now and going forward to be able to have open conversations with him/her about your pay, so it’s not a taboo topic and can be comfortably addressed in the future. Lots of managers are not very comfortable discussing pay, for a variety of reasons (lack of experience, lack of understanding, general dis-ease about discussing money, etc.), so you may have to be the assertive one here — and that’s okay!

        I totally understand how demoralizing this can feel, but if you are paid well for your position and they brought you on “high” — that actually says a lot more about you than a smaller-than-expected pay increase.

        Just my two cents as a Comp Manager without all the details. :)

        1. The Friendly Comp Manager*

          One other thing I thought of after hitting “Submit” — it’s also possible this increase was prorated due to OP being a new hire. Many companies (every one I have worked for) prorates increases for new hires, so if you are only present for 75% of the year, you get 75% of what your normal increase would be. This is for two reasons: to treat current employees fairly and not give new hires the unfair advantage of a full raise without a full year of performance, and to try to somewhat address compression issues, because reality is new hires often times make more than people in the same job but who have been with the organization longer. That is a big challenge for every company I have worked for — how do we increase pay for current employees to help them keep up with new hires, without completely blowing the budget out of the water.

          1. LW#1*

            Hi friendly comp manager! This is LW#1. Thank you for the feedback. I feel that both you and Allison are spot on about a salary band. I suppose I could be high within one, however a band was never shared with me–not in my initial interviews and not now! Nor was a salary ever shared for the position before I accepted it.

            I agree he could be justifying the high initial salary now because he could not help but continue to say “how much” extra he gave me initially (meanwhile, it was approx. 5%). He’s also stating he “fought” for the 1.75%, so it’s possible there are salary bands/budget constraints, however he’s not verbalizing this properly to me. I reacted negatively to him returning to the fact that I negotiated and feel like he will continue to hold it over my head.

            Also for background, I have been here for 15 months, so I worked 100% of 2017. I am the second highest in my department (behind my boss, who I conducted these conversations with).

            1. The Friendly Comp Manager*

              Hello LW#1! I’m sorry this happened to you. The last thing an employee should experience is a negative surprise when it comes to raise/bonus/anything-comp-related time, and as the administrator of a lot of these kinds of programs, I also do understand the human element here.

              From what I have seen, heard, and experienced, many times employees have to advocate for themselves when it comes to getting this kind of information (range, position to market, etc.), and a good manager and company will be forthcoming with this info once asked. You should understand how the pay structure(s) work in your organization, or at least the one(s) that affect you.

              Good luck, and I did not say it before, but good for you for negotiating! :) Love to hear it. Sorry again that you received a demoralizing increase, and I hope things improve for you!

        2. Matilda Jefferies*

          This is what I was thinking as well. I bet the boss meant to communicate that he can’t give you a higher raise because your salary is already at or near the top of your pay grade, not that he can’t give you a higher raise because you negotiated.

          I mean, yes, obviously the higher salary is the result of you having negotiated, but I don’t think the *act of negotiating* is the reason for the lack of a raise. Again, based on the limited information we have in the letter – obviously there are lots of other things that could be at play here! But absent any other details, I wouldn’t assume that you’re being punished for asking for a raise, but rather that the boss’s wording was a bit clumsy.

          Sorry about the raise, though – whatever the reason, the outcome does kind of suck for you right now. I hope you can work out something better for next time!

          1. Lil Fidget*

            Yeah, this can be good to know OP – because it means that unless you see a promotion in your near future, you shouldn’t plan to stay long at this company. You’re already near the top of the pay band, and they’ve admitted that to you shouldn’t expect a lot more compensation. Can you get it elsewhere? This conversation to me changes my expectations of how long I plan to stay at a job – from five years + down to two, maybe three years before I’m out.

            1. The Friendly Comp Manager*

              Most companies adjust their pay structures every year or every other year to help make sure people who are at the top don’t get stuck forever — but not every company does. It’s worth having a conversation with your manager or HR to ask how often the pay programs are reviewed. We review ours every year for every company, and adjust every 2 years typically based on market movement. We also adjust jobs based on market changes, like if a set of jobs changes and is overall higher than they were when the structure was created, we change the grades and therefore ranges.

              I really wish more companies did a better job explaining pay structures to managers and employees. I have a training I do for our managers that explains EXACTLY how pay structures are built start to finish, how we update them, etc., and I have images from the Wizard of OZ because I tell them I hope they can see that there is no wizard behind the curtain, just analytical people who want to help the company hire, retain, reward good people for doing good work — and I want them to know how it works so they can help their employees understand! :)

            2. LW #1*

              Hi Lil Fidget,
              Thank you for the comment. LW #1 here. Boss also stated he is aiming to have me promoted at the next employee review in a years time, but this isn’t guaranteed. Given he has not been clear with the salary for my current title, I’m already concerned about what the promotion raise could be. How do I find out now what that salary could be, before I put in another year? It’s a very stressful position, so I want to keep fighting for a competitive salary given my employee review for handling the work load was great.

        3. Liz*

          My initial thought was that there was a misunderstanding. Being new to the company, it could well be that 1.75% is considered a great merit raise (if your boss actually used that word).

          Where I work, we don’t get anything for COLA and often go without any increase for 2-3 years, so getting any raise after just 1 year would be wonderful. The max increase (not adjustment) I’ve had was 3.5%, and that was after 3 years of no raises and my boss petitioning hard on my behalf. (Others got between 2-3% that year.)

          Second thought: as others have mentioned, you might be near the top of the salary band.

          Another consideration: that 1.75% is on top of the higher salary you already negotiated. So by starting higher, you’re getting proportionally more money each time.

          All that said, it can be disappointing. Just be sure to only compare against people in your industry and region – don’t look at somewhere where 20% bonuses are typical and you get 5% COLA unless that’s actually normal for where you work!

          1. Marty*

            1.75% isn’t a good raise this year. Inflation in 2017 was a bit over 2%, so any annual raise of less than that is a pay cut. They should at least try to track inflation.

            1. yasmara*

              I got 0% last year (2017) & I’m one of the top performers in my department. Raises are VERY tight where I am (we also have the band, band limit, promotion issue, but I just jumped bands 18 months ago, so that doesn’t apply to me anymore – and I did get a pay raise with my promotion).

            2. The Friendly Comp Manager*

              Reality is that some industries cannot afford any increases at all. Every company I have worked for knows inflation is there, and would love to keep up with it, but sometimes that is not possible. It is VERY unfortunate, but as yasmara said, some places are barely in the black and can’t give anything. I worked for an organization about 6 years ago that had salary *reductions*. They were hurting, and did not want to have layoffs; they eventually reversed the reductions, but the company I worked for after that had had reductions, too, and was never able to reverse them, so 5 years later people were still getting back to where they had been! (I was hired after that). Most good companies hate giving zero. It’s demoralizing for everyone, including the message-bearers.

        4. RL*

          It’d be awesome to get a Q&A with Friendly Comp Manager, if they are willing! A lot of this is stuff that gets discussed very generally, but hearing the perspectives form the actual person in HR working on it would be helpful.

    3. John B Public*

      Does this boss want high turnover? Because this is yet another good way to make that happen. Wow.

    4. Lunching*

      OP#1 – Thank you for asking this! I’ve had this experience at two jobs now and had been thinking of asking about it myself. It just seems disingenuous to come up on salary in the offer, only to deny real raises later on because “you get paid so much already.” If a starting salary means future increases will be unlikely or not possible, then the employer should state that up front.

    5. AP*

      LW1: Could you do a little sleuthing about the payscales at your company? At the last place I worked, they were very fixed from title to title. Once you hit a certain pay rate, you had to get a title change or you were ineligbile for raises: new hires couldn’t negotiate above 50-60% max pay because “room for raises” was required to hire someone in a particular title.

      If you looked at the pay chart from HR, it was absolutely nuts. We had people doing the same jobs on two different pay scales, and people doing harder jobs who were on a lower pay scale than people doing an easier job. We had people whose pay was pegged to an existing coworker’s pay. It was crazy, but it wasn’t the fault of anyone you could blame, like your boss.

  5. Spero*

    #1 – Was there a salary range posted for the position when you applied? I’ve had an employee negotiate to the high end of a range before and not realize this would affect our ability to give a raise, whereas I assumed she realized it because our discussion during the negotiation included me saying our grants couldn’t support more than x amount for the position. I realized she saw that as ‘starting salary’ and I saw it as ‘total salary.’

    1. all aboard the anon train*

      To be fair, I would interpret “grants can’t support more than X” as the starting salary for that particular year, too.

      While I think it’s on a candidate to ask whether the agreed upon salary includes raises/bonuses, I also think someone who’s hiring has a responsibility to clearly explain what the salary mean. I’d be pretty annoyed if I had a discussion about salary and the hiring manager knew that the figure I wanted meant they could never give me a raise or bonus, but never brought that up during the interview process.

      1. Safetykats*

        To be fair, it’s really standard that if you’re at the top of your salary grade you may not be eligible for anything other than cost of living increases (if that) until you qualify for promotion to the next salary grade. It might not occur to me to explain that in salary negotiations, just because it’s so standard – and because you still ought to want to get the additional money up front, rather than slowly, over time.

        The thing to do is to make sure you understand the salary range for the position, and the experience and abilities that make up the salary grade. Always know where you are in your salary grade! It’s important, and it should tell you about what you’re making in comparison to your coworkers at the same level. And the thing for OP1 to do is to find out what they need to do to justify promotion to the next salary grade – whether that is gaining skills or just more time in the job.

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          If someone’s supposed to understand the experience and abilities that make up the salary grade, I think the hiring company or manager should elaborate on it instead of assuming the employee knows it all. If a job listing doesn’t list a salary grade or range, how is an employee supposed to know they’re at the top of the range or might not get a raise if the company/hiring manager doesn’t tell them?

          I’ve never once worked in a company where the salary ranges for the position were released and it’s really rare where interviewers will actually tell me what the salary range or grade is, so it may be standard for your industry, but not for everyone.

        2. Yorick*

          But it’s often not clear what the top of the range is for that position, so you may not know how close you are.

        3. Anna*

          Then that needs to be made clear. It seems pretty dumb for a company to tell someone they are worth X coming in, but not worth a raise after proving themselves “because salary bands, oops!”

      2. Flower*

        I’m curious if this is field-related. I would interpret that phrase to mean for the duration of the project, because I assume the grants are from year to year the same and/or a block grant for a certain amount of money each year, are project specific, and are earmarked in various ways (“this much can be used for salaries, this much for equipment, this much for marketing/recruitment, this much for sending samples for analysis, this much as wiggle room”).

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          It could be. I’m used to grants or contracts to have to be redone every year, so what works one year, might be different the next year.

          But more than that, I just think it’s important for the hiring manager or company to be clear since they have knowledge of financials and salary that an applicant or employee doesn’t. A lot of companies are reluctant to give financial information at all during an interview, and it leaves the candidate at a loss if they’re not told upfront they won’t be getting a bonus or raise because of their salary.

    2. Dan*

      It’s too hard to read between the lines from the outside. My company uses outrageously wide paybands — in my payband, they will put you into it with a MS or a BS+ a few years of experience. Some people can retire in this band, although if one does, they probably screwed the pooch along the way. That said, this band tops out at like $130k (midpoint is above the six figure mark) so hanging out there for a few years isn’t the worst thing.

      But given that we will hire college grads into this pay bad, advertising to them that “the band” tops out at $130k is absolutely stupid. We all assume things to our detriment, but I assume that when pay is advertised, “the range” is something that the company is willing to pay to a new hire. This is more true when the job ad is targeted to those on the more inexperienced side.

      As a point of comparison, I once applied for a job that required two years of experience, preferred an MS in a technical field, and considered “knowledge of the domain” a plus. (Domain knowledge is a real thing, it’s not mythical. I had it.) Advertised pay? $45k-$55k. When I interviewed and salary came up, I told them the top of the range would work. They told me they weren’t prepared to offer it. (They actually used an internal reference code that I googled and got hard numbers for.) My first thought with pay that low is that they were stupid for putting that down without being willing to offer it. As it was, I accepted an offer for $70k elsewhere.

      Since long term pay progression is almost never part of the interview discussion, I feel it’s incumbent on the employers to volunteer if someone is going to get paid such that they won’t get a raise for awhile. That in and of itself won’t make me reject an offer, particularly if it’s a *good* offer — I prefer to lock my comp in as early as possible, and leave little for “negotiation” or “review” later. I mean, if I take a lower salary now expecting a 5% raise at my review, and I only get 2%, where does that leave me? I’d prefer the 5% up front and leave nothing to chance.

      1. Safetykats*

        It is weird that your salary grades are so wide. I think everywhere I’ve worked the lower grades are pretty narrow, such that as long as you’re gaining skills you should expect a promotion every 4 – 5 years. That said, I do know managers that hate to do progression paperwork, and just don’t unless prompted by HR or the employee.

        Also, while you often had to get salary progression information informally, most companies I’ve worked for don’t control the salary grade definitions that tightly that they wouldn’t be available at least for discussion with a candidate we were serious about.

        1. TL -*

          My experience has been similar to Mike’s – very wide salary bands (10k is nothing; my position at MIT had a 30+K band) are pretty common.

          1. SarahKay*

            Thirded. I work for a large global company and people in my pay band can be on anything from £20k to £60k (approx $26-$80k) – that I know of! It may be an even wider range.

  6. New Bee*

    #2, I’m in a different area of ed (K-12), but I wanted to chime in and agree with you. It’s common here (Bay Area) for educators to be social media friends across roles, and the who-knows-who pool is small, so I wouldn’t risk it. Our hiring season is starting and I already know of a few people whose social media (mis)use is the reason they aren’t being considered for roles that are opening up.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I think social media works as a big amplifier of any small negative traits, because everything is addressed to a uniform audience. Things that would be trivial and mundane said to two friends over lunch on Thursday feel much more manifesto-y when broadcast over an open account.

      If most of us were asked about whom we want at the next desk, “the person with a lot of angry manifestos” would be a quick disqualifier.

  7. AcademiaNut*

    If someone is spewing bile about their job search process on Twitter, with reference to specific interviews and employers, it means it’s time for them to leave academia.

    And I have seen people shoot themselves in the foot by being too vocal about their negative opinions. Specifically, someone who lost a chance at moving from a temporary to permanent position because he couldn’t stop denigrating his employer publicly. His work was good quality, but they weren’t willing to deal with his negativity.

    1. LW2*

      LW #2 here– it’s hard, because she does always frame it with buzzwords (“respect the time and money of ECRs– unlike the hiring committee I saw today!”– not a direct quote), and I think she genuinely does believe she’s contributing to the broader discourse in an appropriate way.

      1. rj*

        Hey LW – I am an academic and was looking for a job for a long time, and now recently had the opportunity to be on a search committee. We look at social media and I would be very reluctant to move someone from skype to campus if they had this kind of presence because I would not want to work with someone with this kind of social media presence! I have a couple of friends on fb who post all the time about their students or colleagues in negative ways. It reflects badly on them in the field. Don’t do it. Talking about mental health is good, but social media is public – I wouldn’t talk about any health issue in public until it was on the way to being managed. My rule of thumb is to check out the 5 people you admire in your field. If you are a woman, or person of color, it might be wise to check for people in your specific group, because people judge different groups differently/more harshly. Be like them on the internet.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Cringing so hard on the students, because I remember feeling that way when another mom volunteering at the elementary was unloading about someone in her kid’s class. Different grade, I never knew the kid, she even tried to give it a positivish kinda spin, but all I could do was wonder if any parents were ignoring the confidentiality forms and complaining about my kid like this. And this was a one-on-one conversation, not social media.

        2. AKchic*

          rj’s advice is spot-on. If you must vent, do it as anonymously as possible, under a “sock” account that cannot be tied back to you, under an assumed name, with fictitious names, places, etc. Never reveal true details publicly. Make sure it’s in closed/private groups, and that your profiles are closed/friends only/you only.

        3. Anonymoose*

          As someone involved in scholar career development evaluation, I too would suggest shying away from this type of discourse. Your colleague seeems more abrasive in her testimony and it isn’t helpful. If one wants to help the community at large, sharing resource is pivotal. Is there a way for this particular group to have a private community by way of a Facebook group (closed group)? Of course a recruiter could also ask to join/sneak in but it would be up to the admins to determine if they’re truly holding a PhD/MD/what have you or if they’re just there to spy on scholars.

          Because I 100% agree that newer scholars get the short straw these days and I believe more focus needs to be directed toward the lack of early support, both time/finance and mental health. I applaud you for your efforts to contribute. :)

      2. Academic Addie*

        Hi LW#2, I agree that she probably does think she’s contributing to the broader discourse. And she might be! That tweet, if it had specific info might help me on our next search … but it might make me not want to hire her, as well.

        I didn’t tweet or blog anything about my job search until my contract was signed. Part of that was not wanting to look negative. Part of that was not wanting to contribute to the culture of “Oooh, did Addie apply to X job??” And even after my search, I kept it fairly positive. I was looking for a job at an institution that was very different than my grad or undergrad institution, so I blogged a little about how I handled approaching these cultural differences, a little about how I worked out childcare so I could go on interviews, balancing interviews with your other work, etc. Helpful stuff, not blamey stuff.

        The one exception is that a search comm member did something very weird and racist to me in one of my interviews. The search failed, and I have publicly told the story a couple times. No identifying info, but the situation was so weird that someone who was there could ID it. But that institution had so many issues that no one should accept a job there.

        I think something that people, including ECRs, should realize is that tweets look different than talking to someone. I might know your colleague is a ray of sunshine, but if all she has on her feed are venting hashtags and commiseration with others about the job search, a stranger will not know that, and might perceive her to be a very negative, hard person to be around. And search committees are usually made up of strangers. Sometimes really strange strangers.

        1. Anonymoose*

          Is it terrible that I really want to read your blog post about the racist a-hole on the search committee?

          1. Academic Addie*

            I think that makes you human! I wish I could link it without doxxing myself. I’m proud of the way I reacted, and I shared it because it’s a hard, scary situation that I thought others could learn from.

      3. Observer*

        I’m not in academia, but come on. This is silly, and your gut was guiding in the right direction.

        A general comment about “It’s important to respect the time and money of ERCs” ok. Taking on the “unlike the committee I saw today” clearly moves it over into the personal venting about a particular employer channel.

      4. A Professor*

        Hey LW #2 – I wanted to give you some broader feedback about how to use academic Twitter/social media. I’m also an academic, and RJ’s advice below is spot-on. Social media and online presence is something that we look at in academic hiring (and during applications to graduate school, for the potential applicants out there). Your web presence should be an extension of your professional persona, which means that the key word here is “professional.”

        Your social media, if it is public and under your own name, should be focused on promoting your research and that of your colleagues, sharing news stories or similar which relate to your research area, and perhaps networking or talking about conference attendance, etc, and you should look for models of “good” social media in your subfield, especially up-and-coming faculty you admire. It should not be used for whining or sharing any sort of overly personal info, including complaints about the job market. I do know some academics who do this, and it is off-putting and does not help them in the long run. I find it interesting that the two academics I know who do post very publicly about how unfair the job market is are also the two who have been contingent for the longest – perhaps contingency came first, but it’s hard to look at the bitterness of their feeds and see someone who would be a positive colleague, as collegiality is a part of the elusive “fit.” Having a Twitter can be more of a hindrance than a help if it is only showing you in a negative light. If you do want to comment on the job market at all, I would suggest limiting yourself to sharing relevant posts about job statistics from the Chronicle, IHE, or your professional organizations, and keep your commentary light.

        I think you have to make a choice with social media – if it is public and attached to your name, you have to be unfailingly professional. Think of it as promoting your brand and your work – you want to be on-brand. If you want it to be private and share other sorts of things, keep it private, keep your name off it, and try to keep it from being searchable (at least when you’re on the market). I think in general this is a good practice. I have a very locked-down Facebook where I do mostly post personal things (mostly food pictures), but I don’t post anything political in nature or anything that that could be construed as a complaint about my job, students, other faculty, or school, even though I have a lot I could complain about. Faculty have gotten in trouble in the past, even on their private social media, for posting about their political opinions, complaining about students, or other kinds of over-sharing. Why risk it?

        I do think that you have a very good point about being more open in general about the challenges of the profession. Mental health, the over-production of PhDs/lack of jobs, sexual harassment, etc., these are all topics that more academics are talking increasingly openly about. However, I think you’ll find that the loudest voices on these topics come from a place of privilege (and tenure). I think you can participate in these conversations, but it might make more sense to hold back until you have some of your own security. When on the market, focus on promoting you – your research, your professional identity, etc. Once you have the job, you will have more space to talk about some of these other things, if you would like to do so. These conversations need to happen, but the best way to earn a place at the table to be able to participate in these conversations is, ironically, to mask the parts of you that care deeply about them under a veil of professionalism. Once you have a position and some job security, you will have more power to literally make change, perhaps in your institution, or perhaps by participating in these broader conversations. Don’t underestimate the legitimizing power of the institutional affiliation or the tenure-track job.

        1. LW2*

          This is all fantastic advice, thank you. I think the point about speaking from a place of privilege and security is unfortunately especially apt– while we’re still in the process of breaking down these stigmas, it does no good for people in precarious positions to risk those positions by speaking out.

    2. fposte*

      I was once in an airport snafu with a lot of people from a conference; the grad student in line next to me was mean-tweeting highly inflated statements about the airline’s reaction and the wait time, and I thought how unwise that was given how many people around her would 1) know she was fabricating and 2) be evaluating her application.

    3. Max from St. Mary's*

      The hiring committee I’m on is meeting this week, and I guarantee everyone will have checked social media for the top candidates. When we narrow it to the top three and announce the names to the department, everyone in the department will also check, and will tell us if they found something like what your friend tweets.

      Unlike the private sector, most academics who get a tenured position stay at that institution for their entire career, so most of us are aware that the faculty member we hire today will likely be our colleague for the rest of our working lives. There are exceptions, of course, but that’s why we’re so invested in the hiring process…and that’s one reason why your friend is shooting herself in the foot with her complaints. We all have that one department member who complains about everything and, rightly or not, we don’t want to add to that number.

      Which is a very long way of saying that you’re right LW2 and she’s going to have a tough time in an already very competitive market.

  8. LouiseM*

    I agree that OP #3 needs to say something to her coworker so she can take her commute back, but I wouldn’t suggest the paratransit system as though the coworker wouldn’t know about it. She almost certainly knows it exists, and if it’s anything like the transit in my city it’s considered sketchy and unreliable and she just prefers to carpool or make other arrangements. If someone asked me if I knew that there was such a thing as paratransit, I would react like the coworker from yesterday’s letter when the OP shared a resource she found in a few minutes of googling. Don’t insult her intelligence–just tell her you can’t drive her without telling her about something she almost certainly knows about.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Is this definitely a thing someone would know about if they’re newly disabled?

      I ask because I can’t drive due to a medical condition, and I had to figure everything out on my own – nobody told me about any of the things I could access. Me: you should tell people about this stuff. Doctor: oh, that’s a good idea. [Does nothing about it.] And when a colleague had to surrender their license due to a different medical condition I mentioned a few things I thought were really obvious (as I had forgotten what it was like not to know them) and she said nobody had told her either.

      I’m not American and had to google paratransit, and it may be that this is obvious information 101, but it’s also possible she doesn’t know and it might just be worth mentioning in passing.

      1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

        Depends on where you live and how the system is. Where I live, the wheelchair taxis have a easily recognizable wheelchair symbol on them so most people would have seen them on the streets and know it’s a thing. But without hearing users’ personal experiences you probably wouldn’t know how exactly it works and for what kind of situations it could be realistically used. So asking someone “would this system work for you” wouldn’t in my opinion be insulting because you really can’t know the answer, and nobody should be upset about such a question.

        In general, I’ve noticed a trend where it’s considered impolite to offer any kind of suggestions how someone could manage their health condition. I completely understand this because I’ve also heard a lot of “helpful” suggestions that are either completely unscientific miracle cures or for some reason not a good option for me. It’s probably good to assume that people know more about their health situations than for example their coworkers. But I also think this could go too far if nobody dares to suggest anything. People don’t always know everything, especially if they have a newly diagnosed illness or a new stage in their illness, and it would be awful if trying to be polite would prevent them from hearing about useful and genuinely helpful things. I think there should be some kind of middle ground in this.

        1. Safetykats*

          It’s amazing what people don’t see when it doesn’t apply to them. I wouldn’t assume that people know what resources are available if they haven’t used them before.

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          There’s a difference between wellsplaining a non-cure and telling someone they’re eligible for a service, really.

        3. Dan*

          Where I live, as I mention below, our paratransit system sucks so bad that I don’t think one could offer that up as an alternative in good faith. OP would be in a jam in my city because “I can’t give you rides, will para transit work for you?” Would be met with a resounding no. So OP couldn’t offer than here as an “excuse” to get out of the old routine without coworker thinking OP is naive at best and uncaring at worst.

          But OP is not obligated to be coworker’s ride service. A simple, “I’m sorry, but I can’t continue with this arrangement” is sufficient.

          To your point, we’ve swung pretty hard into the MYOB territory in the US. The problem with “helpful” advice is most of the time we don’t know anything about the source of such advice. If you truly have something useful to offer, I think one could say, “I have had a lot of experience with X. If you would like to talk/need advice, just say the word.” For the love of god, though, avoid using the words “you should”.

          That said, I went through a rough period in my life a few years back. I said something to a coworker, to whom I am forever greatful for suggesting I speak to coworker X, who had personal experience with what I was dealing with. (More specifically, coworker X actually was diagnosed with the same mental health issues my ex wife claimed to have. Coworker X was instrumental in telling me what bullshit was real and what BS was just that. And when I got divorced, coworker X was quite helpful in telling me that I should cut my losses and not waste my time trying to “work it out”.) So there’s something to be said for offering help without pushing it.

          1. TL -*

            Yeah, I tend to mention when I have a lot of experience and/or am an expert in something so people can ask if they have questions, but it takes quite a lot for me to actually answer advice.

            Usually it’s an, “I’m sorry but you do know that is incredibly dangerous/really counterproductive” type of situation

          2. KellyK*

            If you truly have something useful to offer, I think one could say, “I have had a lot of experience with X. If you would like to talk/need advice, just say the word.” For the love of god, though, avoid using the words “you should”

            I think this is perfect. Jumping in with advice can be presumptuous, but asking if advice is welcome is respectful and helpful.

      2. Dan*

        Your point is well taken, but there is something you’re missing. By and large, many paratransit systems in the US suck. I think they’re only in big cities where there is other public/mass transportation, but the mass is inaccessible to people with mobility issues. Paratransit is expensive to provide, and it is often a legal requirement to provide. My “local” (strange choice of words when you live in the nation’s capital) paper often has stories about how the paratransit service is several hours late and people miss appointments, can’t get to a job, etc. I think we’re experimenting with subsidizing Lyft and Uber as a replacement for the dedicated paratransit fleet.

        So, to answer your question, I would consider it to be insulting or patronizing to tell someone here “oh just take paratransit.” It would run a real risk of being extremely tone deaf, given just how bad the system is.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Okay. I’m not an American wheelchair user and don’t know about any of this, but I definitely wasn’t advocating anyone say “just do x” (about anything ever). Just saying that from experience I know it’s not a given that people are aware of the options available to them.

          1. Dan*

            That came acros too trite, sorry. I meant to say that even a more polite suggestion “have you looked into paratransit” wouldn’t be welcome — it’s only an option if you can be three hours late to your appointments on a not-infrequent basis. You can’t read the newspaper where I live and not know that our paratransit is in shambles, and therefore not a helpful suggestion. My city isn’t the only one like this, it’s a common problem on this side of the pond. (I think it’s universal knowledge, but that’s only because I know absolutely nobody who relies on these services, have no other connection to them, and only know what I read in the paper.) The biggest reason these services are terrible is we contract them out to the lowest bidder, e.g., a for-profit enterprise. Unlike the rest of city transit, which is operated by the municipality, these guys are out to make a buck and do so at the expense of employees, who often make like $8/hr, and service reliability.

            1. TL -*

              We’ve had several conversations on AAM about how bad the paratransit services in the USA are, actually! That’s how I know that it’s not a good suggestion – I think someone wrote in about that specifically (and needing to get to interviews…?….) and people were piping in with all these awful stories about really bad services.

            2. Observer*

              In NYC, the paratransit system is surprisingly good. For one thing, it’s generally not for-profits that are bidding. More importantly, the vendors are measured on metrics like on time percentages. So, it’s not great and there are some real issues, but I do know people who have actually been able to use it to go to work on a regular basis.

                1. Observer*

                  It’s a mixed bag, to be honest. Part of the problem is that it’s not fully funded, so not everyone who should be eligible can actually get the service. But, there definitely are issues and it’s not a fit for all circumstances. Enough so that I’d never *assume* that someone could definitely use it for their commute.

      3. SusanIvanova*

        I’d never heard of it, but then when I broke my ankle, my company said that if I couldn’t drive they’d arrange a taxi for me. Fortunately it was my left ankle and I swapped my stick shift car for a friend’s automatic jeep.

      4. Translator*

        I feel like if the non-disabled LW knows about it offhand or from the first page of google results, it’s only polite to assume that the disabled co-worker would know about it.

        It’s like if you’re newly diagnosed with a medical condition, and someone who isn’t a medical professional and doesn’t have any specialized knowledge or firsthand experience starts telling you all about the treatment of first resort.

    2. Casuan*

      It’s very subjective, thus difficult to know what is right & wrong to say. One person would welcome the infos & another would take offence. Usually you don’t know until you try.
      At the end of that day, if you can say that you tried to help someone & you truly meant well, then that’s what matters.

    3. hbc*

      Well, maybe it shouldn’t be mentioned without prompting, but what is OP supposed to say if Coworker gets all “But how am I supposed to get to work?!” “That’s not my issue to figure out” is true but pretty harsh. A softer deflection might be “I’ve heard of paratransit though I don’t know how good it is. And maybe you can talk to Manager about options. But regardless, I can’t do it, sorry.”

      1. Observer*

        Assuming that paratransit is a realistic option, yes. But if it’s not and that’s public knowledge, it is STILL not the OP’s problem. “I don’t have good answers to that. I’m sorry.” Is really all the OP needs to say, although I’d be tempted to add “I guess that’s why they give that subsidy.”

        1. Alpha Bravo*

          Actually I think you could use the subsidy in your answer to that question without being hostile. “I don’t know the answer, but you are getting some funding toward travel, right? Would they have a list of transportation services providers?”

          1. AKchic*

            Which actually brings up another issue. If the coworker gets a subsidy for travel, why hasn’t OP been getting any payment for providing rides previously?

        2. Turtle Candle*

          Right. It’s possible that paratransit really isn’t a feasible option for whatever reason (its usefulness varies a lot even within the US, and I imagine just as much if not more so outside–I know it’s not great in my area because I have a blind relative who lives here), but that’s really not the LW’s concern. They still don’t have to do the driving, and bringing up/researching alternatives just opens a huge can of worms and invests them further in this problem that is not, in fact, theirs to handle.

    4. Thursday Next*

      This strikes me as s potentially good open-thread topic—when is it appropriate to offer information, and when might it be construed (as Ramona Flowers puts it) as “wellsplaining”?

      For instance, I’ve learned a lot about disability providers and services through word-of-mouth. Some of this information has come from people with no direct or personal connection to consumers of these services, and I’m glad they didn’t assume I was well versed in all the available options.

      (OTOH, I bristle at recommendations about dietary choices. So clearly, I don’t welcome *all* advice.)

      1. Xarcady*

        Word of mouth seems to be how a lot of people hear about disability services. My nephew is physically disabled. His parents learn about various services from his caregivers, fellow parents of disabled children, his school, their insurance company, their pastor, and by Googling. And they live in a state with good services for the handicapped. And my brother is a teacher and SIL is a doctor, so just based on their occupations, you’d think they’d have access to a lot of the info they need, but not really.

        If you have a disability, you, or your caregivers, have to be really proactive to find out everything that is available to help. My sister-in-law called a state office to find out about something about one-on-one aides in school and through a passing remark that the person on the other end of the phone made, discovered that Nephew was eligible for art and music therapy, as well as a free summer camp for kids with disabilities.

        SIL is involved with a parents’ group for parents of kids with disabilities and one of their main functions is is spreading the word about what kinds of assistance are out there.

        1. JessaB*

          This because there really is no one clearinghouse for this information. Even disease/disability specialty groups have differing opinions on what’s good, what they recommend, what services are provided. It’s really not well set out for people newly ill/disabled, or their families/caregivers.

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        I feel like a lot of the key for word-of-mouth is that it comes from people who, if not themselves disabled, are in some way adjacent (caretaker, relative, good friend, etc) of someone who is. It means that their suggestions have actual meat to them — “Try X, my bestie had a good time with them” or “Ugh, avoid Y, they’re awful.”

        When it’s coming from someone who’s more or less going “hey, I’ve seen transit cars around, but I know nothing besides the fact that they exist” that’s really not much to go on, and it’s more likely that you’re going to be the five thousandth person saying it.

      3. Natalie*

        I feel more or less the same as you – mentioning some kind of organization or service, especially if you have actually heard something about them beyond their existence – also feels different to me than recommending dietary changes or yoga or chiropractic or astrological charts. I’m not entirely sure why but maybe part of it is that we recommend service providers (stores, restaurants, contractors, daycares) all the time so why would a paratransit service be any different? (Again, assuming you actually had some experience with them.) Whereas dietary suggestions are medical advice and thus generally more unwelcome unless its coming from your doctor.

        1. Thursday Next*

          You’re right–I think medical advice clearly falls into a separate category. And it’s different when suggestions come from someone with direct experience.

  9. Dan*


    Your boss is an ass. Many companies are very formulaic about pay (mine is one of them) and with that, comes very little flexibility. I prefer it that way, I think — I know exactly where I stand and what reasonable long term expectations of pay increases would be. In keeping with the formula, I got some fat raises last year, but also got very little this year.

    I also came from a company where I was hired at a pretty good starting salary, and then did not get a raise until my *third* annual review. I got hired in that job in 2009. The first year I was told, “Bad economy, everybody’s raise sucks,” Second year I was told, “we just put in formal pay scales, you’re at the top of yours, you won’t get a single penny until you get promoted.” WTF? You mean these are new scales and I am at the *absolute top of mine* and you didn’t bother putting me at the bottom of the next one? F U.

    Your boss is an ass — you do not tell somebody at the top of a pay range that they’re going to get a great merit raise unless you are in a position to *make* that happen. In this economy, 1.75% is a lousy raise. My formulaic raise was 2.1%. If your boss thinks that 1.75% is great, he’s failing at a major part of his job — keeping the troops happy.

    1. I am Fergus*

      I have heard worse. This didn’t happen to me but to somebody I worked with. My boss said he couldn’t give Cersi a raise because when he hired her last year he made a mistake and gave her too much, a whole quarter too much an hour. What an idiot

    2. John Rohan*

      You said “your boss is an ass” twice. You do realize that there is a limit to salary budgets, and if the salary is already at the top end of that budget, there is very little that boss can do about it? Whether he’s an “ass” or a nice guy, he can’t magically pull dollars out of his ass.

      BTW, per the letter, the boss just said she was getting a merit raise, it’s not clear if he ever used the word “great”.

      1. krysb*

        Sure, but there’s a huge BUT here. She may have negotiated the market rate based on her skills and experience. Companies aren’t exactly great at keeping their employees at market rate during their tenure because they use such formulaic raise systems.

        (Sorry, this is just something that irks the hell out of me. I love how businesses use economic excuses until the economic situation benefits the worker. Signs are showing that we’re entering an employees’ market. I can’t friggin’ wait.)

      2. Mike C.*

        Do you not realize the trillions of dollars being held by private companies while they continue to complain that they can’t find find employees with the skills they need? Do you not realize the sheer decades of wage stagnation in comparison to productivity?

        Claiming that “there is no money” is absolutely insane given the huge stock buybacks and dividend increases going on everywhere.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          Yes, this. Certainly there are companies where it’s true that they aren’t sitting on stockpiles of cash, pay their employees fairly, and have tight budgets for raises. But there are many, many companies that are holding plenty of cash and haven’t paid their workers to keep up with productivity or inflation (often while their CEO compensation has written dramatically and disproportionately).

          And in any case, none of that changes the fact that this boss is an ass regardless of the company’s budget because of *how he handled this situation.* Either he could give the OP a better raise but is penalizing her for negotiating, or there’s a legitimate reason that he has failed to fairly explain to her, either at the time of the offer or now.

        2. Jesmlet*

          Agreed, but there’s a difference between “there’s no money” and “I can’t get the clearance to give you more money”. The boss is not automatically an ass simply because he can’t give her more. It may very well be out of his control.

          1. Steve*

            And what about existing employees? I have a teammate for 3 years and a new hire, with roughly the same amount of experience. The former learned that the latter had started at a $20k higher salary, so now he is job searching. Unless the pool for raises is unlimited and/or the company is unusually enlightened, the raise money might be better allocated to attempt to keep the other teammates (who perhaps have more domain knowledge, plus even after a raise they’re probably still cheaper than a new employee, depending on how fast salaries have gone up in the relevant field).

            1. Jesmlet*

              There’s no perfect answer because the fact is, companies often choose not to allocate extra resources toward keeping current employees happy. That really sucks for your coworker but in my experience, it’s much easier to increase your compensation by going to a new employer than to sit around waiting for a comparable raise.

        3. Yorick*

          Sure, the company overall could afford it, but your immediate manager often has very little money for your raise.

      3. Dan*

        I’d say it three times, but I think I got my point across.

        As far as the word “great” is concerned, OP writes this: ‘Now that performance reviews are here, my boss shared that my “great” merit raise was only 1.75%.’ We can debate the semantics, but it’s on the boss to manage compensation expectations. In this economy, 1.75% is a COLA, not “merit” raise.

        The boss may not be a magician, but in my book, a 1.75% merit raise is an insult, regardless of the boss’s budget. What a boss should say in this circumstance is, “I appreciate your hard work this year, and unfortunately, budgets being the way they are, this is the best I can do.” I absolutely cannot stand bosses who give out meager raises and act like one should be “grateful” for it. That’s about the fastest way you can send me packing. If you want to keep me but can’t pay me, acknowledge it for what it is, and maybe we can work out some other ways to retain me. But acting like a small raise is “great” and the employee “should” be happy is just an insult.

        At my last job, I went three years without a raise. I describe the situation a little bit more elsewhere, but the nuts and bolts was “no raise until you get promoted.” The year I got promoted, I got a 7.5% raise. Great, right? Sure, but the reality is if I didn’t get promoted I was going to quit that year. So running around saying “you got promoted, aren’t you happy?” No. I’m satisfied — my employer should be happy that I wasn’t going to quit that year.

        1. Steve*

          A 1.75% raise is actually a pay cut if inflation went up 2% in the same time. It’s pretty ballsy that companies get away with calling inflation adjustments “merit raises” but they all do it.

  10. MommyMD*

    You are not in charge of your coworker’s transportation needs and are not obligated to her. No way am I being late because of someone else. No matter her health matters she is responsible for herself. A ride on a rare basis, yes. Personal Uber, no. I’d simply tell her it doesn’t work for you and she will have to look into other options. Do not feel guilty and don’t apologize.

    1. MommyMD*

      If she has not asked you your feelings about this and was late in the past, she really doesn’t care how it affects you. Yes her condition is unfortunate. No, it’s not your responsibility to fix her issues.

  11. Borne*

    #3 – Might it be possible for your co-worker to work from home instead of having the logistics problems of having to go back and forth in a wheel chair.

    1. Oilpress*

      Maybe, but this is not something the letter writer should explore. She really needs to withdraw herself from the situation entirely.

  12. MommyMD*

    A small raise is still a raise. Eight years is not long in the job market. You may be nearing the top of your pay scale for your position. Some people do not receive raises. It’s disappointing but I’d tread lightly on complaining aggressively or demanding more. I’d also have expected I was not going to get more than a two or three percent raise at the onset.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      It’s pretty galling to talk someone up and promise a raise, and then deliver a “raise” that’s less than inflation.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      But no one is suggesting complaining aggressively or demanding more! My suggestion was normal salary discussion/negotiation, and we really, really shouldn’t discourage people from doing that.

    3. Dan*

      It’s not just “raise or not”, the amount matters. 8 years may not be “long”, but it’s still substantial. For reference, I’m on my 10th year of experience in my field, and I now make $36,000 more than when I started my professional career. I’ve spent roughly the same amount of time at two different employers — during the time I was with employer #1, my salary increased about $8k from when I started. At employer #2? It’s increased more than 2x that. (Never mind that employer #2 brought me in at $10k more than what employer #1 paid.)

  13. Sally*

    I don’t agree. I think that in places where decent maternity leave is legal and expected (in Australia unpaid parental leave is for 12 months) there are really strong cultures of protecting employees in the workplace. There is in general an understanding here that employee rights are good for everyone including employers (even the jerkiest manager will have someone he cares for benefit from the system). At my pre-maternity job I was a casual contractor (so had no right to mat leave) but my employer signed me on as permanent when I was about 6 months pregnant because they (he actually) was keen to lock me in to returning – and that employer had a voluntary 2 year maternity leave scheme.

  14. NewMamaNewJob*

    OP#4: I had something similar happen to me, although I was a married and recently promoted woman who was asked what my plans were for having a family prior to discussing my raise. It was the most awful point in my career, knowing my worth was being judged on gender, not merit. Point of my story is, say something and be careful because attitudes like this can pop up even after hiring situations, so best to try to address it now.

  15. Jemima Bond*

    Lw#3 – you shouldn’t have to do this but if it were me I might mention some mythical nebulous back pain issue which doesn’t normally give me any problems but the doctor has advised against lifting large/awkward items…
    Re #4 probably not helpful but did anyone ever read Asterix as a child? In one of the books a ruckus breaks out in the village and everyone keeps hitting each other in the face with large wet fish. That’s kind of what I want to to with probably-sexist Boss. *splatch*

    1. please*

      Lying is bad. It’s better to practice saying “no” in firm yet polite ways.

      It’s a skill that we can work on.

    2. Beth Jacobs*

      If OP says it’s back pain and the coworker arranges for a family member to load the wheelchair, then what? Giving excuses opens the door for people to try to refute the excuse. But OP just doesn’t want to drive her coworker every day and that’s a completely reasonable position.

  16. nnn*

    For situations like #4 in general (but not for OP#4 specifically), I think it would be useful if people in general replied to those kind of comments with something like “Oh yes, once people get a spouse to support, they’re far more dedicated workers! It’s one thing to accept some uncertainty if it’s just you, but when your loved ones are depending on you, you have a lot more need for stability!” Don’t even acknowledge that the stereotype he’s alluding to ever crossed your mind, just enthuse about the opposite.

    This wouldn’t be a good idea for OP because OP is HR and this is something specifically set out in law, as Alison described in her reply. It is important, in terms of both the company’s functioning and doing what’s right, for OP to fulfill this part of the HR role.

    But in life in general, women support their families. It serves no one to act as though it’s normal to think otherwise. Even if it’s common to think otherwise, it shouldn’t be treated as normal.

    1. anonagain*

      I think there are ways of addressing sexism without throwing employees who don’t have families under the bus.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, agreed. This is basically accepting the boss’s faulty premise that family status is an important selector; it’s just choosing somebody else to discriminate against under that premise.

    2. TL -*

      It also plays in perfectly to the idea that men are providers who need to be paid more because their families depend on them and women are the nurturers who are only getting spending money. Not really sure that’s the mindset you want to enforce…

    3. Lady Phoenix*

      So because I am single, I am not a dedicated worker because I don’t have my non existent SO’s money to rely on?

      To quote Bianca del Rio: “…. Really queen?” Plus the “that is bullshit” look.

      1. AKchic*

        Throwing in some “not today, Satan”.

        And if you haven’t watched it yet – watch Hurricane Bianca. It’s beautiful.

  17. CityMouse*

    Without being too specific, there is a place online where people anonymously post about being hired into my organization. It isn’t even kind of hard to find, it is the third or fourth result when you search the organization. And while the postings are anonymous, some people share so much detail it can be completely obvious who is who. And some people say some extremely inappropriate things. Fortunately, the identifiable bad posts pretty much always come from people we had already decided against, but it does show some extremely poor judgment. People should really know better. Vague comments about job hunting are fine, as long as you keep it professional and calm. Specific call outs, not so much.

  18. Software Consultant*

    For #5 – if you’re next to colleagues/coworkers, just make sure they don’t end up writing letters to AAM about loud sex noises (I’m sure there’s been some of those before ;-)

  19. MuseumChick*

    #3, I agree with the others. Keep it simple and firm

    You: “Unfortunately my circumstance have changed and I won’t be able to continue giving you rides.”
    Her: “What? What do you mean? TELL ME EVERYTHING.”
    You: “It’s some personal stuff I would rather not get into.”

    1. Myrin*

      I love this!
      I’m usually really straightforward but I always have a surprisingly hard time being direct in situations like the OP’s (probably because what I really want to say is “NO! You annoy me. Go away!” and obviously that’s not something you do while still coming across like a polite and friendly person), but I’ll definitely have to remember this skript, it’s perfect!

    2. CM*

      In this type of situation I prefer not not even refer to vague “personal stuff” — I think even that small amount of reason-giving invites probing. I would just say, “I want to let you know that I need to stop giving you rides. I want to give you some notice so that you can find an alternative, so I can keep giving you rides for the rest of the month.” “Why?” “I’m glad I was able to help, but I’m not willing to do it anymore.” “Why?” “I’m not willing to do it anymore.”

  20. ShellBell*

    #1 This is not uncommon in the corporate world. There is typically a market rate. If you negotiated to get close to or over the market rate, your raises will be lower even if your performance is good. Eventually, if you want significant raises, you’ll need a promotion into a role with a higher market rate. If you get to 120 or 150% of the market rate, you may not be eligible for raises. You can’t infinitely increase your salary in the role. Congratulations on negotiating. It is better to have the money upfront rather than getting to that pay rate with raises over many years. If you think the rate is really too low, look into other similar roles in other companies to see how they compare. Also, you’ve been working for 8 years and did a great job negotiating. It’s time to stop calling yourself a “young woman”. You may be young, but sounds like a term used to talk about teens or college kids.

  21. Joie de Vivre*

    OP #3 – when you tell your coworker you won’t be giving rides anymore, if you get pushback, you can say that it is due to a private personal matter. And keep repeating it every time they ask. This has really worked well for me in the past.

  22. Boundary Maker*

    #3 The fact that she hasn’t asked if you are OK with providing her a lift is an indicator that clear boundaries are warranted. A simple no is best without an explanation that she can argue or use to guilt trip, and Alison’s suggestion to say “so you can make other arrangements” puts the responsibility back on her shoulders. I hope that your colleague doesn’t use manipulative tactics, but right now I am biased because it is happening within my family, and the family member with the degenerative condition is using these kind of tactics to make unreasonable demands on other family members who won’t say no, or yes I can do this, but not that.

    1. Red Reader*

      But, I mean, also if she hasn’t actually said anything to you, definitely don’t you be the one to start the conversation.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think that’s an approach that lots of people (most?) aren’t going to be comfortable using. They’re certainly entitled to, but it’s going to feel rude. I know that’s a popular suggestion to make, but I’ve never understood it — there are kinder ways to say it.

      1. fposte*

        I was thinking Red Reader was really focusing on the “stop talking” part, which I think is a useful point. While I’d soften her statement a little (“I’m sorry, but it won’t be possible for me to give you rides any more”), it doesn’t seem that different from yours save for the lack of an explanation, and I would actually discourage people from feeling obliged to give an explanation.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ah! Whenever this kind of topic comes up, I see suggestions for “that won’t be possible” or “no is a complete sentence” and it always bugs me — because I think it’s unnecessarily rude and most people won’t be comfortable with that approach anyway. Softening language doesn’t mean you have to soften the substance! But I see what you’re saying here.

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, I think in reality, “No” with no other words is 1) nearly impossible to give in a situation like this and 2) inappropriately rude. I think that axiom usually really means “For the love of God, stop explaining your reasons why you can’t do something” rather than literally meaning “Say only this word and nothing else.” It also goes to what stitchinthyme is saying elsewhere in this thread and what we’ve talked about before in all kinds of circumstances–people sometimes feel the impulse to talk until the other person agrees with them or is happy with the plan, and I think it’s really useful to be aware of that tendency and see it as the pitfall it is.

            1. CM*

              I agree, “no is a complete sentence” means “don’t continue to engage with this person on the same topic that you have already said no to,” not literally a stone-faced “that won’t be possible” and then you walk away. Thinking about this more, I think a really effective way of dealing with followup questions is to ignore the question and respond to the feeling the person is expressing, which may be anger or panic or betrayal. Politicians do this all the time in response to direct questions. So “Why won’t you do it anymore?? I was counting on you,” can be answered with, “I hope you can find a good way to get to work,” or “I’m sorry this is tough for you.” But this only works if you’re already committed to the “no explanations” principle and aren’t tempted to start making concessions (“Well, maybe just until you find a substitute… maybe just for the summer… but call me if you can’t find something…”)

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Yeah — but I think the problem with the expression is that a lot of people take it literally and think you’re literally suggesting they respond with “No.” So then they think you’re giving weird advice that won’t make sense in any context they operate in, and they ignore it. I think it’s a bad expression for that reason and wish we had a similarly catchy-sounding alternative.

              2. oranges & lemons*

                I also think some of this advice was originally written specifically for the context of dealing with difficult people. A lot of people will understand the subtext when you try to soften an answer, so I’m not sure that this hardline approach is always necessary. It depends on the audience.

                1. fposte*

                  Yes, I think some of it is about what you’re trying to correct. (And of course the epigrammatic pleasure of the sentence.) I am reminded of how it was standard for high school driver ed to show footage of real accidents to temper our reckless impulses–which made those of us *without* reckless impulses worse drivers because we were more nervous.

                2. Turtle Candle*

                  Yeah, the first place I heard this was in dealing with abusive people (whether harassers, semi-estranged abusive parents, etc.). And yeah, there, “Do not touch me like that. Never touch me like that again” or “No, you cannot see my daughter, ever” may be appropriate. But it’s not advice that’s easy or even helpful to put into play with everyone who you have to say ‘no’ to. (Unless their boundary-violations escalate, of course. But it isn’t necessary to assume that they will from the get-go.)

          2. Yorick*

            I agree. Do the people giving that advice actually just say “No” or “I’m not willing to” over and over until the person walks away? I doubt it.

          3. Turtle Candle*

            This is something I think a lot about, because I am a fairly confident person, and yet a lot of this advice seems basically impossible to me short of someone who is already an abuser. Like, in a different forum, someone was asking advice about a friend whose they did favors for, and those favors had become more frequent and onerous over time and she wanted to cut it off. I suggested, “Sorry, I can’t do that for you anymore.” The response from some other commenters was that ‘Sorry’ was inappropriate because it implied fault on my part, and ‘can’t’ was inappropriate because it implied that there was a reason that could be argued with, and that instead it should be something like, “No, I will not do that,” followed by changing the subject or walking away.

            Which… I’m a fairly confident person, and I quail at the idea of having a friend (or even acquaintance) ask me for a favor that I had done before and replying with a blunt “No, I will not.” (Unless they were a raging glassbowl rather than just someone overreaching on favors.) Honestly, if the choices were between that and continuing to do the favor even though I didn’t really want to, I’d probably continue to do the favor. But if I can say something like, “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that for you anymore,” then I can say the no. And often it works! Many people will accept that!

            I dunno. It feels like advice that is ironclad but that nobody will be able to bring themselves to actually take is still basically useless. It’s bulletproof in theory, but in practice, if many people won’t say it, then….?

            1. Turtle Candle*

              Whoops, that first sentence is a mess. What I mean is, I can see using the super-blunt no-discussion “no”s on someone who had abused or harassed me, or someone who repeatedly refused to take no for an answer, but not otherwise.

      2. Red Reader*

        And you know, when I first posted that I debated ways to soften it, but I figured people would point out that softening it left wiggle room for coworker to push back more! Haha. No perfect solution :)

        But yeah, as Fposte suggested, the major takeaway I intended was, however you say no, stop talking afterwards and don’t go overboard explaining reasons or whatnot.

        (And also, like I said, if she hasn’t actually asked for a ride, don’t be the one to initiate that discussion. Even if she’s all “You didn’t pick me up this morning, raar!” you then have the deniability of not having actually agreed to anything, and sorry, that just won’t be an option for you to assist with, best of luck finding a solution!)

  23. John Rohan*

    #3, you are not obligated to do this, but would it be possible to talk to your company and explain you will be regularly late because of the other employee’s health condition?

    1. Myrin*

      It sounds like OP doesn’t want to be a means of transportion for Jane regardless of the tardiness issue, though.

      1. Willow R*

        Correct, I’m afraid. Had her condition not deteriorated and the wheelchair become necessary, this might have been an option with a more reasonable boss. But not with our boss. Just to make it clear how blatant this reprimand was – Jane and I walked in through the same door, at the same time and sat down at seats less than ten feet apart. Boss immediately said she wanted “a word” with me. She’s not going to give me flexibility to help Jane – as I mentioned in a post above, I think this has more to do with her attitude to Jane than her attitude to me – and I can’t risk it again. It’s the kind of thing people lose their jobs over in our company, even if everything else is spot-on.

          1. Willow R*

            She’s a lot of an ass. So long as things run smoothly, she’s fine, but she doesn’t like having to go out of her way and make extra effort. I suspect that she has long since begun to see Jane as ‘extra effort’. She’ll do it, because she’s obliged to, but she’d rather the ‘problem’ just went away.

          2. Eye of Sauron*

            I can kind of see why the boss did what she did. Jane presumably has special arrangements and accommodations with the employer, OP does not. OP willingly took on the driver role and unfortunately all the baggage that comes with it.

            Yeah, disagree with me but the manager isn’t obligated in any way to make allowances for the OP. If there is a strictly enforced late policy then it should be applied evenly without consideration.

            1. TL -*

              It’s not the enforcement of the timeliness rule (though honestly that sounds petty); it’s the managing Jane out by making things difficult for her while technically meeting the letter of the law.

              That’s bullcrap. Either build a position where she can be both accommodated and productive, or start speaking with HR/lawyers about the fact that she can’t be accommodated reasonably and she needs to be transitioned out.

              1. Eye of Sauron*

                The needed accommodations for Jane doesn’t mean that the OP should be obligated to drive her or receive special treatment if she does.

                The manager isn’t doing anything to affect Jane’s accommodations. The OP can certainly still be her ride if she wants to, but she faces consequences if that decision affects her timeliness. The OP said that lateness (I assume that’s what they were referring to) is something that people lose their jobs over. So it’s reasonable to think that the manager is applying the same standard to everyone, except for Jane with an accommodation.

                1. TL -*

                  Ah, I’m sorry: I’m responding to most of Willow’s comments, which provide additional background, rather than this one comment + the question.

                2. JessaB*

                  Not necessarily. If Jane asks for ADA accommodations that end up being OP drives her, part of that accommodation, if I were the OP, would be a requirement that if I am officially driving Jane I do not get penalised for the fact that Jane’s disability makes us late.

                  Doesn’t matter however, since OP won’t be driving Jane, but flexing the schedule of the employee who drives her can very well be made part of the accommodation that has the employee drive her.

            2. JessaB*

              Unless they’re in the US and Jane can make a case for OP driving her as her accommodation. Not punishing OP if Jane is late would be PART of that accommodation. Jane however would have to proactively deal with this.

              Which is really not an issue at all, because OP doesn’t want the responsibility and work of driving Jane. So the fact that Jane might make OP late doesn’t matter. IF however it was the sole issue of problems, the above would apply. It isn’t however.

            3. Observer*

              Actually, the boss does have the obligation as a decent person to cut the OP slack – at least the first time. Sure, the boss would be within her rights to say “I need you to be here on time regardless of Jane. If the means not giving her a ride, so be it.” But to reprimand her the first time is just gratuitously nasty.

        1. Midlife Job Crisis*

          Can Jane speak with HR? I’m assuming you’re in the US; if so, Jane should look at federal requirements and what protections she should have.

          1. Eye of Sauron*

            It sounds like Jane has protections and accommodations, the OP does not as she is not covered under ADA. The employer doesn’t need to accommodate her tardiness because of Jane.

            1. Willow R*

              That’s correct – Jane has already spoken with HR to arrange various things around work. They’re doing all they are obliged to do for Jane, and to be honest our company (note: not our specific Boss) are considered very good in this area, they take care of employees who need accommodations to work, and those who eventually find they can’t, very well.

              I don’t have any such official protection. Some managers in my Boss’ place would probably offer me flexibility for my start time, to help another employee – our job isn’t time-sensitive and the only reason we don’t have flexi-time in the first place is because ‘other areas of the business can’t do it, so neither can you’. But they’re not obliged to, and she isn’t going to. It’s only half the issue anyway, so I’m not going to push it.

              1. Casuan*

                Willow R, most of the comments have been on whose ressponsibilty it is for Jane to get to work. You & others have touched on another important aspect that I think has gotten a bit lost in those comments.

                There’s a concept at play where if Jane is mentally able to work & physically able to come to the office then she is presumably able to do some things & think for herself. She should be treated just as any other colleague who is going through some difficulties or a major life change (& needing a wheelchair is a major life change). For what it’s worth, I think that you’re trying to do just that.

                Jane’s disability does not give her the right to take advantage of others. Just because one is willing to help her doesn’t mean she should accept it if she is capable of doing it herself. Her disability adds some thought & emotional layers that others can’t quite understand unless they’ve personally experienced disability, yet that doesn’t absolve her of being considerate of others.
                From your original letter & your comments, I question if Jane is really owning up to her responsibilites. She’s gotten a ride to & from work & she has spoken with HR about what work accomodations she needs. It sounds like she thinks that after doing those two things then she’s absolved from further responsibilities, If true, she’s being very inconsiderate of you & her colleagues.

                The exemplar is that when you got the reprimand & Jane didn’t, Jane should have spoken up. If she’s late for work &or causing others to be late, Jane should realise she needs to adapt by altering her schedule so she arrives on time. If that necessitates a taxi, then so be it. If Jane knows that once she’s in the building & needs to rest/get coffee/whatever before she gets to her desk on time, then she needs to plan for that extra time (this is the same as if someone walks to work & needs to freshen up before one’s shift: one arrives enough in advance of the start time to make it happen).
                Probably there are other scenarios throughout the day where Jane should be speaking up that she can or should be doing something herself or determining what reasonable accomodations will help her.

                Your manager is handling this very badly. Although we already knew that.

  24. sssssssssss*

    Haven’t read all the comments but based on where you live, wouldn’t there be a adapted transport available? Where I am there’s a Paratransport for folks with wheelchairs and other situations where getting on a off a regular bus is tricky; they pick you up and drop you off door to door.

    Costs are sure to vary.

    But frankly, the moment she got that wheelchair, to somehow expect a coworker to continue to voluntarily pick her up and put the wheelchair in and out of a car for her was an unreasonable expectation. And not be ready on time on top of that?


  25. Parenthetically*

    “And also know that the average raise is actually pretty small — about 3% on average, and about 5% for top performers.”

    I have no idea how raises work in the real world, having spent the last decade in a tiny private school (where I make about 60% more now than when I started). Does this apply to hourly as well as salaried workers? Seems like a bump from $16/hr to $16.80 effectively does nothing to your take-home pay.

    1. Chloe Silverado*

      It usually does. When I worked my first retail job my boss was excited to offer me a raise – it was 11 cents/hr.

      I’ve recently taken a step back in my career due to some mental health and family concerns. At my current job, my next raise will be $1/hr. At the time of hiring I asked my boss if I could start at the top of the pay band since I had years of more advanced experience in the field. He told me he was required to leave room for raises so I had to start at the lowest hourly rate with room to increase by $2. The job has been great for allowing me to deal with my life circumstances so I didn’t complain too much, but in my case I would’ve rathered start at $X+$2 than be rewarded with a $2 raise over the course of 3 years.

    2. Cordoba*

      Yes, from what I’ve seen that average does apply to hourly wokrers. If anything the hourly average is lower because (typically) hourly folks have less leverage with their employer than salaried.

      The bump from $16 an hour to $16.80 represents an additional $1,600+ per year for somebody working 40 hour weeks. I do not regard that as “nothing”. For many people that could be several months rent, most of their utilities, or an important vehicle repair etc.

    3. Judy (since 2010)*

      In my corporate experience, the company announces a raise pool, supposedly depending on lots of factors (inflation, how well the company is doing, etc). Most years the raise pool is around 3%, but there have been some years with no raise pool, and some years with as high as 5%. At some point, the pool is split, usually where it would work across 20-30 people. The manager of that group, if the combined salaries of the group equaled $100,000 for example, would have $3000 in raises to give if the raise pool was 3%.

      Usually there’s some direction from HR about where someone is within their range vs. the performance rating. One company published a table with 20 spots, ratings 1-5 on the vertical axis and quartile within the salary range on the horizontal range. So someone within the lowest 25% of the salary band that gets the highest rating of 5 might have direction in the table to get 6-8%. In larger corporations, HR also would be looking at salary equity.

      Note that promotions came out of another pool of money and usually didn’t happen at the same time. At one large corporation, they also had a separate salary equity pool that also gave off cycle raises.

    4. Dizzy*

      When I worked retail I got semi-annual raises of .25/hr or less. At least one was just an adjustment to meet higher minimum wage requirements framed as a “raise”, though.

    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Hourly here, and yep, that’s exactly it.

      Changing jobs is how you get meaningful pay increases. The best same-job raise I’ve ever gotten was 5%, and that was when I went all-out in an effort to get promoted. Compare that with when I started with my new employer, who paid me an extra 25% right off the bat, then bumped me another 12% when I changed job functions. That’s meaningful money.

  26. Mt*

    Op1 my only question is that it was called specifically a merit raise. Could she also have gotten a cost of living eage increase as well? Many companies have both.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, my boss once told me they really fought for me to get this merit raise–it was like 1%. It meant that my total raise was like 3.5% to everyone else’s 2.5%.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Also when you’re starting salary is low, one or two percent is sooooo little!! I remember my boss marveling over my five percent raise one time, but … I was making peanuts, and five percent of peanuts is … not a lot of nuts.

  27. cncx*

    IDK, i’ve been in a similar situation to OP1, i didn’t negotiate hard, but because i was coming from a different field with higher pay, my boss’ boss hired me in at the top of the pay range for my salary and seniority to make it worth it, so when that first year’s performance review came up, i didn’t get as high as a raise as some other people, it was also around 1.5 percent, . I wound up getting a bigger raise the second year, closer to 3%. If this is the only red flag, i wouldn’t read too much more into it, especially if it is a big company- they (supposedly) only have so much in the pot in a given fiscal year/funding year. I do think OP’s boss should have explained it better/differently like mine did- it wasn’t about my performance, and it wasn’t about my starting salary being fair or unfair or merited or whatever, it was really about the pot that year. Now if next year the raise is teeny tiny, that is a different story. Or if op’s company is really small and only one person makes payroll decisions. But in a big company i don’t see this as a big deal.

  28. Jaune Desprez*

    OP#3, is it possible that you may get pressure from management to provide rides for your coworker? You may want to think about how to handle that conversation if it comes up.

    My mother was in a similar situation some years ago: her manager called her in and told her that she was being assigned to provide transportation for another manager who was temporarily unable to drive, and that she would also be responsible for finding other colleagues to drive him if she was sick or on vacation. Knowing her manager to be an ass, my mother didn’t even try to argue. She instead asked how she should record the extra hours on her timesheet and who would be arranging for her commercial driver’s insurance. He told her that he’d get back to her, and she never heard anything further about it.

    1. Willow R*

      If anything, the pressure is in the other direction – Boss most certainly does not want me to do it. I suspect she thinks that the harder it is for Jane, the more likely she is to quit, but as Boss ‘ticks all the boxes’ to do what she’s required to do for Jane, it’s hard to know that for certain. That’s why I’ve been reluctant to involve Boss, aside from it being something which I should be able to deal with myself.

  29. HR Here*

    #4, I’d actually push for that hire. He raised a discriminatory reason not to hire her. You can have a talk where you both say, of course we can’t consider x… But he is, and he said it out loud to you in HR. Then watch and make sure he’s treating her fairly at work.
    It’s uncomfortable when you’re young and fairly new, but your position in HR necessitates your calling this stuff out (professionally).
    I had a similar with a pregnant interviewee. And I said, “sounds like you found your hire!” And explained bc they had written down a discriminatory reason not to hire someone, we now had to. And she was highly qualified and an otherwise great choice!
    I see stuff like this and as woman in HR we are in a position of being able to change it.

    1. Chriama*

      I like that idea, but caution against using it if the employee is not a great choice. Unfortunately due to confirmation bias it will affect future applicants.

      Also, this boss is an idiot. At 24 I would really like to be married in the next couple years, but I don’t want to have kids until my mid 30s or even later. So a recent marriage is not an indicator of anything.

  30. Swingline Slinger*

    #3: After the first reprimand, I would’ve refused to drive her ever again. Is the company compensating you for driving her? Is she even tossing you gas money? Probably not. In my book, she can take an Uber. Tell her that you can no longer drive her. If she asks for a reason, just tell her you can’t. Be the broken record. You don’t owe someone who got you in trouble (but not herself???) an explanation.

  31. Murphy*

    OP#3. I second everything Alison has said. I once got roped in to driving a disabled co-worker until my boss finally had to put a stop to it. I didn’t have to lift her wheelchair, but often she wouldn’t be ready, so I’d have to wait for her, and sometimes she would made me stop at a gas station on the way so she could pick up food. She just seemed totally unaware of the imposition.

    1. TL -*

      This is less about what you said and more about a rant on society in particular: “she would make me stop at a gas station.”
      Unless she held a gun to your head or was your superior, she didn’t make you stop. I’m guessing she became really unpleasant to deal with and that can be touch. But an adult being unpleasant is not inherently *your* problem because you happen to be in their vicinity and/or have the power to fix their problems. You can just ignore their rude/hungry/angry behavior – really, you can just decide it is not your problem. You can do that and be kind and polite – kindly saying, “No, I’m sorry; we just don’t have time for that today” is not mean.

      And short-term unpleasantness often pays off with long-term pleasantness. People become difficult because they know that being unpleasant to be around often gets them what they want. When you decide that unpleasant behavior isn’t going to “force” you in to doing something, most difficult people become much easier to deal with. They either get their sh!t together because being hungry is unappealing, or they start asking nicely because they see that’s how others get you to comply with their requests.

      Throwing fits is exhausting and most people aren’t going to do it if it doesn’t get them results. And the only thing you have to control in that situation is your behavior; you can decide that you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to and still be a perfectly polite and nice person.

      1. Murphy*

        No, it’s more of a “if you give a mouse a cookie” type of situation. When she was already in my car and we’re literally driving past the gas station, it would have felt weird to say no. (Plus then what would she have done for food? I or my boss probably would have ended up going to get her something.) I didn’t mind driving her in theory, but I did mind waiting for her in the mornings and making an extra stop. After the first pit stop, I probably could have proactively said I wouldn’t do it again, but I didn’t.

        1. MuseumChick*

          Murphy, I totally get your logic. It’t really hard to say no even when you are being terribly inconvenienced. It feels weird and wrong at first and the other person usually puts on a massive guilt trip.

          I listen to a wonderful podcast about true crime, the hosts are two hilarious woman who offer some great life advice. On their go-to lines is: “F*** Politeness” (in the context of the show its often said when their are going over a case where a woman was assaulted or killed because she didn’t want to be rude). It’s a concept I have been trying to embraces more. In the case of your co-worker it would have been very reasonable to say any of the following:

          “Hey, I can’t be late again. If you are not ready within 2 minuets of me arriving to pick you up I will have to head to work anyway.”

          “Sorry, I don’t have time to stop at the gas station. I can’t be late again.”

          “Jane, manager and I swamped, we can’t go get you food, I’m sorry.”

          Again, in the moment in feels really weird and the other person usually throws some kind tantrum. But its perfectly reasonable to set this boundaries.

          1. TL -*

            This. And going hungry is a perfectly normal and acceptable response to not allowing time for breakfast. If it’s that important that she eat, she’ll remember to grab food next time.

        2. TL -*

          That’s exactly what I meant, “it would have felt weird to say no.”
          You could have said no, and then after the first time, it wouldn’t feel so weird anymore – you would be the person who says no. You could have yes thirty time and on the 31st said no – it would have still be okay.
          I’m calling this out because I think this is part of the question the OP is asking; it’s perfectly okay to say yes to one favor and no to another, even if the second favor would have been super easy to combine with the first. Part of setting boundaries is learning to sit with the weirdness of deciding the ultimate consideration for any action you take is whether not you want to do, not whether or not other people think you should.

        3. MCMonkeyBean*

          Why would it feel weird to say no? If you’re already doing someone a favor by picking them up on your way to a destination there is no reason it would not be okay to say “sorry we can’t make extra stops.”

          1. MuseumChick*

            Part of the reason (not true in every case) for woman at least is we are socially conditioned to be nice/polite, to be care givers, to not cause a fuss etc. Its can be really hard to break out of that pattern.

            1. fposte*

              Though I think that’s where TL was going with the “making you” part of the discussion–the fact that we would feel bad if we didn’t isn’t the same as the other person’s requiring us to do something.

              1. MuseumChick*

                I think we should keep in mind that breaking cultural norms is often incredibly difficult for people. Not impossible but changing your behavior when society has conditioned you from birth to act one way is much more challenging than “Just do something different!”

                1. JB (not in Houston)*

                  This. It’s worth pointing out, as TL and fposte did, that we do, in situations like Murphy’s anyway, have the option of saying no. We have to mentally give ourselves permission, and something of a pep talk, before saying no and breaking what feels like a societal expectation. But it’s also not as easy as saying “you don’t have to do it so just don’t.”

                2. fposte*

                  I totally agree! That’s why I think it’s really important to break the steps down mentally and realize that it’s a series of choices on our side and that we actually can make different ones.

                  And I don’t think this is exclusively a cultural norms/gender thing. If you look at behavioral psychology, the small first yes is always going to make it harder to say no subsequently; it’s really popular tactic in sales and other fields.

                  And you’re right that it’s not as simple as “just do something different”–even the people who write about financial irrationality can have a hard time living by their own findings (Cass Sunstein is a well-known example there). But knowing that it’s possible and understanding how these behavioral anchors work can give us a fighting chance.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      One little thing my boss does routinely is to say, “Okay this time, but don’t ask again.” Or “We can do this once to give you a chance to build a plan, but we can’t do this again.”
      It’s not something that is at the forefront of our thinking.
      However, I find that for the most part people are very cool with whatever boundaries I set. There have been a couple times where a friend really helped me with something. So I helped them with something else, when I made the offer to help, I said, “This is between you and me. I cannot do this for other people.” Or, “I am doing this now because you did x for me. But I won’t be able to keep helping with this.” Generally, I hear, “That is fine. I am so glad just to have the help this time.”

      OP, I think that you can come in on a softer plane, be classy but say no. The big concern is what if she escalates? Well so what if she does? If she starts yelling at you, tell her that you won’t be yelled at and walk away or return to your work in front of you, whatever. If she starts yelling quit talking about the rides entirely. It’s now about yelling. Just calmly say that you won’t be spoken to like that and exit the conversation. If leaving is not possible then change the subject.
      Going the opposite way, if she starts crying, you can softly say, “I am sorry, Friend. I hope you are able to find a solid solution for this.”
      Before you go into the conversation decide not to wear her emotions for her. She is allowed to feel however she feels, that does not mean you have to be responsible for how she feels. She has two responsibilities here, her emotional reaction and her transportation question.

  32. Allison*

    2) Being negative about your job on social media can absolutely impact your status at your current job, and it can be off-putting to potential employers as well. Bringing it up with someone who’s doing it might be tricky though! Maybe go with “I get that you’re frustrated, but even though your concerns are valid, this level of negativity can really turn off potential employers! Try to save it for more private conversations.”

    3) “I’m so glad you’re coming back to work! But while I was able to drive you on an occasional basis, I can’t commit to being your means of transportation, even one-off rides to or from work won’t be feasible anymore for reasons I’d rather not get into. I hope you’re able to find a way to get to work, it’ll be great to see you in the office again!”

    4) He could also be worried that she’ll quit the job if her husband gets a job somewhere else and they have to move, or if he gets a high-paying, high stress job and she quits because she doesn’t have to work, and her help is needed at home. Still, it’s not okay to hire her based on any of that!

  33. Strawmeatloaf*

    Don’t do it #3. She will not have improved.

    In grade school, my brother got to go to a counselor to check in, while I had to go to regular class. Well, because he could go in late, we got in late enough times (because my parents would have to take us and they wouldn’t make him go faster) and I got in detention for it. Doesn’t matter that it was my brother making me late, somehow I was supposed to make him go faster. I was so angry at it and made sure to tell my parents why I got detention (because I was late 3 times) and it didn’t happen again.

    Don’t get guilted into giving your coworker a lift. I would definitely follow the advice of other people here and if they continue to push, then you might have to go into ‘rude’ territory and just say “No, I’m not doing it.” I wouldn’t explain it because then they could come up with an ‘excuse’ that really means they don’t care how it effects you.

  34. Art Vandelay*

    Something similar to Question #1 happened to me recently: I was told that my company recently increased the salary for my position/grade, and that I would be receiving a raise. Nice surprise! But then I was told that because of the automatic raise, I would receive a small/incremental merit increase. My boss explained that it would be like getting a double raise if I were awarded the merit raise and automatic salary increase-and that it was unfair. I’m not sure how to feel and would appreciate some insight.

    1. CM*

      That sounds reasonable to me. Your total salary increased by a certain percentage. The company used a combination of a grade salary increase and a merit increase to get there. They didn’t do a good job of setting your expectations, but what they did seems reasonable.

      For OP#1, I was also wondering if this merit increase is on top of a standard COL increase. If so, 1.75% sounds pretty decent. If that’s your entire increase for the year, and your boss has been talking up what a great merit raise you’re going to get, I’d also be annoyed. Do you know what others are getting and how your raise compares?

    2. Trout 'Waver*

      Your boss is being a jerk about this one, but you can’t really push back on this one. They’re essentially saying that because they underpaid you in the past, they can’t reward you for good work now.

    3. BurnOutCandidate*

      I’ve had a similarly bizarre experience recently.

      To deal with the Obama overtime regulations, I was bumped from salary to hourly (I wasn’t close enough to the $47,500 threshold to get a raise to stay salary as happened with some colleagues), and because I typically worked 45 hours a week, my hourly pay rate was calculated with overtime factored in. (However, I was allowed to work all the overtime I wanted.) My official pay rate was cut, but effectively I got a pay raise.

      When those overtime regulations didn’t go into effect, I was moved back from hourly to salary this year. For economic factors, the company gave minimal raises this year (about 1%, and that was literally a last minute decision, as management had decided against any raises at all). I got a slight raise on paper, but I lost the overtime hours, so effectively I took a pay cut (about sixty dollars a week) in October.

      It’s irritating, to say the least.

  35. Candi*

    #3 -I’ve had to ask for rides from people, and I will never understand those who think that of course you’ll give them a ride, you did it before! To me, if a friend or coworker chooses to give you a ride, they are being kind. I’ve never had to do a long-term arrangement, but to me it makes perfect sense to revisit the agreement at least once every month or so. Things change!

    #4 -what the what!? Talking around the topic won’t shield him if the candidate can prove that they weren’t hired because they might get pregnant, which is discrimination. Big if, true. But it’s not worth the chance, and it’s mean, nasty, and rude to discriminate.

    1. Allison*

      I absolutely hate and dread becoming someone’s go-to driver for stuff. The company can be nice sometimes, but I like my “me time” and especially during busy times, that often comes from driving by myself, and being alone in my car with my music, and not having to plan around someone else’s schedule. I hate it when someone makes plans under the assumption I’ll drive them somewhere, or when someone introduces me to someone and then asks me, right in front of them, if I’ll give them a ride, already pretty sure I totally will because I’m sooooo helpful, and putting me in the awkward position of telling them that no, I can’t drive them, sorry.

  36. BadPlanning*

    #4 is why I’m all for parental leaves for both parents. If men or women could be gone similar amounts of time for a child (medical complications aside) then it (hopefully) removes the barrier for skipping someone because you think they’ll be out on maternity leave.

  37. CMDRBNA*

    LW #4, your coworker sucks and you’re in a position to speak up. Please do! I worked for a small organization whose executive director was a horrible sexist – he actually said out loud that he wanted to hire a particular candidate because we could pay her less because she was married, so it was fine because her husband made money, right?

    Aside from that being 100% crap, I think her husband was actually a full time student (not that it should have mattered if he was a Rockefeller). That organization also had a history of discriminating against employees who had children or became pregnant during their employment.

    I think the other comments are right – you kind of have to hire her now (unless there’s some other very pressing reason you can’t) because your coworker has basically admitted that he wants to discriminate against her.

    And it’s a bullshit reason. You have no idea if this person is going to have kids soon, or ever, and I can guarantee you your coworker wouldn’t have said the same thing to a man who is engaged to be married.

  38. Observer*

    #5 I’d add one thing. If you know that your friends are likely to be disruptive, or the like, perhaps go out to hang out. And, practice putting a stop to the party if things do get rowdy. I know that it can feel rude to tell your guests ow to behave, and you also don’t want to damage the friendship. But you also don’t want to damage your working relationships.

    So you need to be prepared to say – and stick to – “we’re not ordering up any (more) booze”, “cut it out” and Good night. It’s for you to leave” should it become necessary.

  39. B*

    #1 – 1.75% is actually, in my experience, a decentish raise considering you have been there for only a year and started at a higher salary. Many times a position has a salary max so being close to it can be a detriment if you are expecting big raises especially within your first year.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      Assuming you’re in the US, inflation was 2.11% in 2017. A raise of 1.75% is a decrease in net income in current dollars.

      1. B*

        Yes and I have been at many companies that were unable to do a cost of living increase. It is not a good thing of course and very sad but not something unheard of.

        1. Natalie*

          A company shouldn’t need to make their workers take a pay cut every year to survive. If you can’t afford COLA, you can’t afford to be in business IMO.

          1. B*

            And we can debate that as much as we want. While I agree with you that is not the point, nor helpful, for the poster who is angered over her raise that she doesn’t think is a raise.

  40. Anna Sun*

    #1 – I don’t think this is too uncommon. My company’s philosophy is that while we may have to pay more up front to attract an employee, over time we bring the ‘new’ person in line with their more tenured peers with slightly lower annual raises. It’s a fine line to walk because you want to reward people adequately for their performance, but also not pay newer employees so much more than their peers that others in their salary band are incentivized to leave the company/jump around just to get a higher salary.

    In terms of asking for a higher raise, as they say, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. However, you don’t want to overdo it. You want to be assertive and bring this up often enough that your boss knows they need to go to bat for you, but not so much that they just roll their eyes and ignore it because you bring it up constantly. Unless you are underpaid for the market, which you can find out by contacting a recruiter (or your peers, if they are willing to discuss it with you), I would recommend thinking carefully about whether you might have more leverage in six months or a year from now, and setting your strategy accordingly.

      1. Anna Sun*

        I work for a Big 4 firm, which definitely colors my position on this issue, but these decisions are not made in a vacuum. Maybe she was brought in at an above-market rate and is still being paid above market. Her peers may also be performing at a high level. She may be in line for a promotion in the next couple of years, which would would result in a large raise (at Big 4 it’s very much up-or-out). The biggest issue I see here without more information is that OP’s boss communicated poorly by not defining what “great” means or giving her comparative information as to where 1.75% falls in relation to others in similar positions. Early in my career I had a similar thing happen to me. Based on that experience, I learned to ask these questions before compensation decisions (in my case, raises/bonuses always come at the same time of year, so I know how to time it). Doing that has given me more educated and grounded negotiating positions. It would be beneficial for OP to do this in the future so that she doesn’t get blindsided again.

          1. CM*

            What if you were one of the underpaid peers and knew that a coworker doing the same job as you was making a lot more money due to their initial salary negotiation?

    1. nonymous*

      I’ve definitely seen it used to realign salaries according to workplace seniority. My mom took an internal transfer and because of her history with the company and because she was bringing in new skills to the department, she was offered a fairly high salary for the job title. However, her supervisor felt that coworker with the same job title had seniority, coworker deserved higher pay. And so my mom did not get any merit (only COLA) raises for the next 5 years. My mom built all the databases and spreadsheets for the department as well as processing her own caseload plus forgoing temp help during tax season and this other lady was clinging to her manual ledgers (for two years!! writing into ledgers and then re-entering the numbers into Excel!), but because coworker was senior in the group, coworker kept getting merit raises. And overtime. smh.

  41. BlueWolf*

    Regarding #3, I definitely think using the vague “circumstances have changed” line is the way to go. Especially since it seems like she has been out of the office for a while, it would be reasonable to expect that changes may have happened in your life since she was last at work. Maybe you have a different commute, or like to stop for a coffee on your way, or whatever. You don’t have to provide details.

    As someone who was once basically a personal chauffeur to a coworker (although not one with a disability), I know how difficult it can be to extricate yourself from that situation. I was fortunate that my circumstances actually had changed and we were working in different locations and different schedules so it actually wasn’t feasible anymore for me to drive my coworker anymore. But I wasn’t assertive enough and should’ve stopped it a lot sooner.

  42. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    In addition to what has already been said on #3, I cannot for the life of me understand how OP3’s coworker expects OP3 to be her regular, 100% reliable means of transportation to and from work every day. What does the coworker expect to happen if OP3 has an appointment right before, or right after work? Gets sick? Changes jobs? Goes on vacation? Her car breaks down? This really sounds like a job that OP3 did not sign up, and does not really qualify, for.

  43. CBH*

    OP3 something else to consider… maybe your coworker has not fully accepted her condition yet. Can it be she (?) hasn’t faced reality that there are certain aspects of her life where she needs professional help. I’m sure she knows how her future looks and all power and emotional support to her for working as long and as productive as she can. But as you stated this isn’t just picking someone up – it’s working with someone who may need more help than you can provide. I feel like the coworker is going to take “no I can’t help you” personally. Unfortunately that again leaves you in an awkward situation.

    1. Lady Phoenix*

      I don’t think that is up to the OP. Really, the only thing OP can do is say, “Sorry, I can’t.”

      I think it is up to management to tackle this if it affects coworker’s work.

  44. stitchinthyme*

    #3 – So many letters to advice columns (not just work-related ones) are some variation of “I want to do (or not do) X but I want (Person) to be okay with it.” The answer is always the same, in my opinion: you can’t control other people’s reactions. They may in fact be hurt or angry no matter how politely or delicately you phrase it, but if you really want (or don’t want) to do whatever it is, you need to grow a backbone and own your choices. In this case, yes, it is complicated by the fact that the other person has some crappy circumstances, but that’s not the LW’s responsibility to deal with.

    1. stitchinthyme*

      And also: in a case like this, you may feel guilty for saying no, and what you really want is for the other person to tell you that no, it’s totally fine, and absolve your guilt. Don’t expect this to happen; your choices may well be to either live with the guilt or suck it up and do what they want you to do. What you have to decide is which of those you can live with, and act accordingly.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I think that’s a really good point. OP, I really recommend trying to find a way to make this a choice you’re okay with independent of Jane’s reactions.

        1. nonymous*

          but it’s not all or nothing, right? OP could take some time at lunch and research the accessible transport options in her area. This might bolster any push back about whether it’s physically possible for OP to deal with the wheelchair – even the Senior Bus has lift devices, those bus drivers aren’t doing any lifting! OP might also mention it in passing to supervisor and coworkers (if they have that kind of workplace) in a casual manner so that the workplace presumption becomes that coworker is relying on community services.

          The point is that OP can extend an offer of help without doing labor. Coworker might be a demanding person without boundaries, or she could be bad at understanding what community services are available.

          1. fposte*

            She could, but I think she shouldn’t; it *is* still doing labor, and it’s accepting the notion that Jane’s transport is the OP’s responsibility. She doesn’t need bolstering on the details, because if she gets down into the details she’s already made a tactical error.

            And Jane can research if Jane needs to. Even if the OP did want to be partially involved–which it doesn’t sound like she does–it doesn’t make much sense to offer to do something that Jane could do for herself when the big problem is the thing Jane *can’t* do for herself.

      2. LBK*

        I agree with this piece of what you’re saying, but I think it’s still worthwhile to at least attempt to have the conversation in a kind way. No, you can’t control someone’s reaction, but you can try to set yourself up for the best chance of the conversation going well. Your approach does make a difference – I think we can all agree that if the OP just said “I’m sick of your shit, find your own ride,” there’s a low chance of that going over well, and it wouldn’t be purely the coworker’s fault for having a negative reaction.

        I just don’t like the implication I get from some comments like this that the OP is wasting her energy figuring out the best way to have this conversation because it’s all a gamble how the coworker will react anyway. Think about it from the other side: how many times have you thought to yourself “I wouldn’t have had such an issue with what Bob said if he hadn’t said it in such a rude way” or “Well, that was crappy news, but at least they were really sympathetic about it”. Tone and approach do make a difference in how someone reacts.

        1. stitchinthyme*

          No arguments there; my point was just that no matter how tactful and polite the OP tries to be, the reality is, she does not want to keep giving her coworker a ride, and she wants her coworker to be okay with this. That may not happen no matter how she phrases it, and she needs to be prepared for that possibility. Otherwise, she’s either going to have to live with the massive guilt trip, or cave and keep driving her coworker. I was only trying to say that no matter what you do, you can’t predict or control another person’s reaction.

        2. fposte*

          I’m intrigued that this topic is leading is to dive into shades of saying no and how we think about saying no.

          I think the OP should say no kindly and be sympathetic about the fact that Jane’s position really sucks, and I think it’s okay to consider how Jane might respond.

          But I also think we can dive into risk management on these questions with daunting depth and breadth. (I always think of a group of people trying to corral small wildlife, like a mouse or lizard or squirrel, out a door–“Maybe you’ve blocked off that way, but what if it darts *this* way?”) And that can make it seem like preparing for Jane’s response is the important task here rather than pulling yourself together to say that kind and sympathetic no to Jane, and it also risks making it seem like if the OP can’t forestall an unhappy response than she’s said her “no” wrong.

          So that’s why I like to focus on finding the way to say no rather than the emotions of the hearer, but I also figure there are enough people commenting on the other aspect that the topic gets pretty well covered from all points.

    2. Oilpress*

      This is a great point. I think there is a good chance that there will be some negative consequences to refusing to drive this person. Maybe she will spread the word to her peers, who may choose to view this in the harshest light.

      “I can’t believe OP isn’t driving her…I would have done it if I lived where she does.”
      “Can you believe OP just cut her out of her life like that? How cold is she!”
      “What? She said you were too much trouble? What a selfish jerk!”

      I can totally see coworkers expecting generosity from the OP because it’s always easier to expect such from others than to be so yourself.

  45. Lady Phoenix*

    #4: since you are HR, you need to sit down with this dude and explain to him why the thing is he said is HELLA NOT COOL.
    1) It is discrimination and can open yourself to a lawsuit for sexism
    2) It is completely invasive, presumptuous, and Ruuuuuude as fuuuuuck
    Then guage his reavtion: if he apologizes then he is cleared, if he acts hostile then proceed with disciplining this employee like you would any other secual harassment case.

    Since you are also HR, you can probably also override him and hire her if you believe she is qualified

  46. NW Mossy*

    I’ve talked about this in response to other letters about raises, but it bears repeating here: in many organizations, raises for everyone in a group/unit are intertwined because there’s a single dollar amount that’s intended to cover all individuals in the group/unit. This means that your raise isn’t just dependent on factors specific to you – it also depends on how your raise fits into a larger scheme.

    This year, I was part of a team of 6 managers figuring out raises for 55 people. We had baseline budgets for our individual teams, but we could swap money around between us. We debated for many hours, and here’s some of what we had to face:

    * A tight overall budget, due to weak divisional performance during the year
    * Guidance from HR with recommended % raise ranges for each employee based on their current position in their pay range (below/at/above market) and their performance rating. Raises outside the suggested range require additional approval from senior leaders.
    * Long-serving employees who are high in their pay range, limiting their upward growth potential
    * Underpaid, well-performing employees who are very low in their range and need to be brought at least to market value (spoiler: this is where the majority of the overall budget went)
    * Employees who are ready for promotion to the next level or whose jobs have changed and require regrading
    * Employees whose pay is wildly different from that of others at their same level (either on the high or low side)
    * Employees whose positions are at risk of being eliminated in the next 1-2 years

    Long story short: your raise (or lack thereof) does not dictate your value as a human being, and you often won’t have enough information to even see what it says about your relative value for the organization. In your boss’s eyes, 1.75% might actually be great because he worked within constraints even more difficult than those I outlined above. Rather than reading the raise as malicious, ask questions to seek to understand how raises get determined in your org – I suspect you’ll find that it’s a complex calculus, and not everyone comes out a winner every time.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      This is an inflexible way to lose your best workers. If someone is below the market rate, you either have to pay the market rate or risk losing them. You can’t blame a complicated process that the company itself controls. And there’s no way you’re ever going to make someone who is underpaid happy by explaining such a process to them.

      1. NW Mossy*

        And that’s why we focused the lion’s share of our budget on exactly those people – those getting paid way too little relative to their market value and the value they add to our organization specifically. However, it tends not to leave much left over for those in the OP’s situation, who were hired in recently at a market salary but desire more based on performance.

        The purpose of explaining the process is not to make someone happy, but to provide context in which they can evaluate whether or not they think the process is fair and/or sufficiently likely to reward them as they feel appropriate. Some people will indeed decide that there’s not enough upside potential in a system like this to want to work there, and they’re probably better served hanging out their own shingle or working for a small shop that consistently pays above-market rates but has less advancement potential. Others will decide that it might be limiting, but the structure of ongoing smaller raises works better for them than the instability that can come from feast-or-famine approaches. It’s a trade-off, and different people value different things.

  47. essEss*

    In my opinion – if something is truly a “merit” raise, then it is based on the quality of your work. It should be calculated outside of any other factor such as other raises since you would have gotten the other raises no matter what the quality was of your work. If they feel your work was 2% better than others, then it needs to be the full 2% on top of the base salary (which now includes the new non-merit raises).

  48. Not Australian*

    Just wondering whether #3 has considered changing her car to one that won’t accommodate either Jane or the wheelchair? “Oh, sorry, we had to cut costs and this is cheaper to run!”

    1. fposte*

      I think buying a new car to avoid saying no is a great sitcom episode premise, but in real life it’s a high cost for that evasion.

    2. Aurion*

      Changing a car specifically to eliminate all possibility of being Jane’s chauffeur seems like a drastic step (and a pain in the neck).

      If Jane does not gracefully respond to OP’s no, that’s on Jane and can become a work problem, but OP shouldn’t have to twist herself into a pretzel beforehand.

  49. Lumen*

    OP#1 – Something similar happened to me once. I negotiated for a raise at what I thought was an appropriate time (increased responsibilities, etc.), and then several months later when I should have been given an annual raise, I was surprised to learn that I would not be getting ANY increase. Not a reduced raise, just nothing at all, because they didn’t think it was fair for someone to get two raises in a year… even though I knew of (male) coworkers who had gotten up to three raises in a single year. I also did the research that Alison suggests and for my experience level and the job I was doing, I was being underpaid by… oh, just 19% or so.

    I do not work there anymore.

    It sounds like you absolutely were reprimanded for negotiating, and this is why the whole “women don’t negotiate, that’s why they’re paid less” thing is so aggravating. When women DO negotiate, we often get punished for it.

  50. EvilQueenRegina*

    #4 reminds me of the time in 2007 when I applied for a job and the interviewer made a big point of asking me if I was married and had any kids, then made a big show of writing “single” on my application form. I wasn’t sure whether that was legal (I am in the UK) but wasn’t sure enough of my facts to challenge it at the time so just answered the question.

    Asking around afterwards got so many different answers that 11 years on I still don’t feel any the wiser. However, when my recruiter called me to tell me I hadn’t got the job (bullet dodged) and I asked her about it, she said “It’s a legal requirement, they have to ask, the next question would have been what would you have done about childcare issues?” I did know that that is definitely not a legal requirement to ask that here and that was the only time I’ve ever been asked that at interview. The tone in which the recruiter responded made me wonder if she had interpreted the question as sour grapes rather than a genuine query.

  51. AngelicGamer aka that visually impaired peep*

    OP3, tell your co-worker no. Don’t justify, don’t give her ways to push back, just go with a “This isn’t possible anymore”. If you want, cushion it with an “I’m sorry”, but yeah. Your co-worker should be finding another way to get to and from work. Push her towards seeing if there’s a pickup service through your public transport. There’s a decent / sometimes goodish one for me in the Chicago suburbs, so she really should be looking through her options. That said, considering how your work is flexible towards her, she might also want to ask work if they could provide a service to pick her up / drop her off.

  52. Davysmom*

    When it comes to giving your co-worker rides, one very good reason to say no to this arrangement is that it’s in Jane’s best interest to be in charge of her own transportation (or wfh arrangements or whatever it may be). How will she get herself to work if you were to be sick one day, have car trouble or an accident, or just change jobs? That said, it’s often a good idea not to over-explain when saying no. Some people simply take explanation as the opening of negotiations.

  53. Laura*

    I don’t understand the colleague’s transportation problem for OP#3. Around here, there’s a public transportation system for handicapped persons (which I believe is free) called HandiTrans and is fully set up for transporting wheelchairs. They also get people places on time. I was under the impression that it was a federal law, because Utah is so stingy with everything (except oil companies) that I can’t imagine them funding HandiTrans unless required by law and the Republicans in the state legislature would never allocate state money anyway. So, OP3, connect the woman with your local HandiTrans and drive yourself without guilt and without excuses…true or not.

    1. Observer*

      Well, it’s not universal in the US. More to the point, the OP is not in the US and it sounds like they don’t have much of a para-transit system.

  54. Lisa*

    PO#3: you had a great out when you got in trouble, she didn’t, and she didn’t speak up for you. A situation like that – so unfair – is begging for you to clarify with your boss. What if she was running late and called the boss to tell them that you hadn’t arrived to pick her up? Paranoid maybe, but something is off about how you ended up the fall guy.

  55. Old Jules*

    #1 This is my pet peeve about hiring managers. If they want to hire someone close to the maximum of the range, they could but at least let the candidate know that they’d be maxed out and red circled in a year or 2. As HR we advice against it and if they are doing it, to make sure the candidate knows. Because it’s a terrible employee experience when they go to their merit review after performing an outstanding job and not getting a merit or getting less merit that co-workers who is not performing as well.

    For reference:
    Red-Circling is when an employee’s pay rate is approved to be above the established salary maximum for that position. Hence, the employee is usually not eligible for further base pay increases until the range maximum surpasses the employee’s pay rate.

    1. Jerry Vandesic*

      I lost a top performer for just this reason. They were maxed out of the band by their second year, so no annual raises. They left about four weeks after their last performance review, taking a new job with a significant raise (our salary bands were too low).

  56. Tiger Snake*

    #3 – Easiest solution of all? “Oh, I’m parking much further away now, because I wanted to get extra exercise in my routine. Its gives me a 30 minute walk twice a day. It can get pretty tiring in the evenings with my bag, but I’m glad I’m doing it.”
    It is amazing how quickly the requests for a lift dry up when they realise/think they actually have to walk to get to the car.

    1. Jerry Vandesic*

      The response might simply be to “drop me off at the front door before you head to the remote parking lot.”

      1. Tiger Snake*

        “Oh no, that adds too much extra time to my trip. Its too much hassle now that I’m walking this far.”

  57. rachish*

    #4 makes me wonder how the interviewer new she had just gotten engaged without asking improper interviewing questions. Whenever possible HR should sit in on all interviews to prevent this type of questioning from happening.

    1. bonkerballs*

      Interviewer: Why are your looking to leave your current position?

      You: I just moved after getting engaged and am looking for something with less commute time.

  58. JSR*

    LW #1 – do we work at the same small company? Sounds exactly like something my boss would say.

    I’ve never thought to ask about raises in the initial job acceptance negotiation because before my current job, I never got raises. No one did. Moving up in the org was the only way to get one. My raise last year was 3%, which while not amazing, was more than I’ve ever gotten while staying in the same position.

    Talk to your coworkers about salaries and raise percentages, if you can. Having more info about where you fit in the salary bands and how your raise compares to others could help sort out the best way to respond.

  59. Not So NewReader*

    OP 3. The softest (yet workable) NO I have ever come up with on the fly was when I told someone, “Because of my commitments, I will not be a reliable person to do this for you. This is not fair to you. So I need to tell you up front that you should find a plan/person who is reliable and will not let you down.”

    Of my many commitments that were concerning me was my not reliable car, my very long drive way covered in snow and so on. Not what one normally thinks of as “commitments”, perhaps “constraints” would have been a better word. But commitments sounded more unbreakable to me at the moment.

    I was talking to a person who… was known for being strange. I had no idea what to expect for a reaction. By going to what was the “most fair thing from their perspective”, my no was accepted graciously and life went on.

  60. Pomona Sprout*

    Yeah, that ticked me off, too. After all the help and support coworker hasgotten from the o.p., that was kind òf crappy, imo. But then, coworker comes across to me as ķind of entitled*, so maybe it’s got to do with that.

    *I say “entitled,” beecause I feel like her apparent assumption hat o.p. is OF COURSE perfectly happy to be her personal chauffeur forever and ever amen honestly does strike me rather entitled. That goes beyond just thinking they are better friends than they really are. I wouldn’t expect that of my very best all-time bestie without a very frank discussion and lots of reassurances from them that they really were fine with it.

    1. Pomona Sprout*

      Whoops, this posted in the wrong place, for some reason. It was meant to be a reply to Temperance saying that o.p. 3’s coworker not standing up for o.p. 3 when coworker made them late for work and ONLY o.p. 3 was reprimanded being late pissed her off. Not sure why this ended up all way down here.

  61. Noah*

    Re OP#1, this: “It’s possible that he’s saying that he brought you in close to the top of the salary band for your position and so he’s limited in how much he can raise it now. But if that’s the case, he should say that explicitly.”

    It seems almost certain that this is what he’s saying, or, probably more like the salary she came in at is close to the top of the salary band for her position and experience. This is very normal. He should be more clear, though.

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