my employee is snarky and rude

A reader writes:

I recently started a new job and learned through my manager that a person on the team had interviewed for the role I was offered. This is a new position that was formed as part of a restructure and from what I understand, the person who applied felt he was a shoo-in for the position since he has been working here for several years.

Anytime someone from the team asks me a question, this person is quick to respond, “Why would she know? She’s new to the business.” I try to ignore it, but it has been making me feel insecure and has me wondering what I can do to protect my credibility. I tried involving him in my business processes to diffuse hard feelings, but he continues to comment on my limited knowledge of the business. I realize he has more knowledge of the business, but for whatever reason (I suspect poor people skills) he was not offered the job. It’s difficult enough to adjust to a new job. How do I deal with this?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • How long of a gap on your resume is too long?
  • All-day interviews when you’re breastfeeding
  • Company docks our PTO in tiny increments even when we work long hours
  • Am I misrepresenting my commitment to a job?

{ 127 comments… read them below }

  1. Akcipitrokulo*

    “Employee. Knock it off. Now.”

    Then take action if they don’t. This is so not ok!

    1. SarahTheEntwife*

      I’m not clear from the letter whether the LW is this person’s manager or a higher-tier coworker.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        I just re-read, and I agree. It *feels* like the LW is the person’s new manager, but it doesn’t say so explicitely.

      2. Akcipitrokulo*

        Good point… I assumed from the context they were managing Problem Person, especially from the bit about including them, but possibly not.

        In which case, PP’s manager needs to lay down the law.

      3. Triplestep*

        I actually see nothing in the letter itself that indicates he is a member of the LW’s staff. Just the headline.

        1. Zombeyonce*

          Same here. I’m wondering if there was something Alison edited out of the letter that would indicate LW is the manager. From what was there, it sounded like they just shared a manager.

      4. Penny Lane*

        It doesn’t matter. It’s unacceptable and rude to talk like that, and I think an equal-level coworker is fully justified in saying cut it out.

    2. Artemesia*

      I agree. Nip this in the bud yesterday. Do it off line first, but if it continues do it publicly. If you are boss it can be ‘you need to knock that off’ if a co-worker, then ‘What would compel you to say something like that? I’d be interested in knowing what you intend to accomplish by that?’ Most co=workers probably understand why this seething mass of social dysfunction wasn’t promoted. But let him roll over you and they will think less of you.

  2. Alexandra Hamilton*

    You should not be putting up with this AT ALL. I suspect this comes from both 1) his disappointment in being passed over and 2) the fact that you are female. 100 to 1 he would not be speaking to a new male boss this way. Nip it in the bud HARD. “That is rude and inappropriate. I am your manager and you will not speak to me that way. The next time it happens there will be formal discipline for insubordination.” Don’t put up with it!

    1. LouiseM*

      Oh, whoa, I *totally* read that the employee was a woman. Oof. Your theory seems plausible to me.

      1. Specialk9*

        The OP is female, the lower rank snarky guy is male. It’s unclear if the female boss OP is actually snarky man’s boss.

        1. Specialk9*

          Though in the original letter, OP commented and used “she” for the co-worker, where above the colleague is definitely male. Weird.

          1. Merida Ann*

            Yeah, the wording of the letter has been changed from an unspecified “they” in the original, with the OP referring to the coworker as “she” in the comments, to “he” here in this version. I’m assuming that was just done to make the letter less confusing on the other site, but the gender dynamics weren’t actually “him” versus “her” in the original.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yeah, sometimes when I’m editing letters for use over there, I’ll realize that something like “they” is making the letter unclear and will randomly assign pronouns or names to make it easier to follow.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Oh, I just saw above someone noted that the OP referred to the coworker as “she” in the comments on the original post. (Sorry, am swamped today and only skimming.) If that’s the case, then I guess the coworker is indeed a woman! (I don’t normally review comments on posts before selecting them for Inc.)

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I made the mistake of trying to accommodate someone’s fragile masculinity, and it was to my detriment. I’ve found firm and no-nonsense (but with a calm tone, not a tone that sounds defensive or domineering in any way) can be effective. But someone who’s out of bounds needs to be put on notice, warned, then removed.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, the employee will probably just keep doing this and probably accelerate by moving on to a wider array of smart-a$$ remarks. The rule of three. We see something three times we have a pattern that needs to be addressed. Some actions/sentences are so bad that we only need to see it once. For everything else, there’s the rule of three.

  3. LouiseM*

    What sort of script would you suggest for the private conversation with the snarky employee? I wonder if the best course of action is to act confused about why she’s acting that way (because, frankly, it *is* confusing that an adult would behave like a snotty teen bully), or to cut to the chase and say that the the employee is clearly acting out because the OP has “her” job and it needs to stop.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      “Your commments are unacceptable. I need to you confirm that there will be no more. Are you able to do that?”

    2. the gold digger*

      I wouldn’t care about the why. I wouldn’t act confused. It doesn’t really matter why. There is no why that would make this behavior acceptable. It just needs to stop.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Yep. Reason may be fairly obvious… but it’s not relevant when faced with this behaviour. Dealing with the behaviour is the priority.

    3. Penny Lane*

      No. No confusion. When your 3 yo throws his peas on the floor, you don’t say you’re confused as to why he’s doing so. You tell him to cut it out. There are times to deploy the “I’m confused why …” aircraft but this isn’t one of them.

  4. Anna*

    I got the sense the OP wasn’t the manager, just another team member in a new and more coveted position than the rude coworker. How does the advice change if she doesn’t have formal authority over him?

    1. Susan K*

      Yeah, I thought the same thing. I didn’t see anything in the letter that said the OP was the rude employee’s manager, or anyone’s manager, or had any authority over the rude employee, and I think that makes a big difference in how to handle this (well, the part about interjecting to answer the question still stands, but not the part about talking to him privately about standards of behavior).

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Oh! Interesting. In that case, she should respond to the person’s questions calmly in front of others to show that she’s not rattled, and talk to the person in private to ask what’s going on.

      1. Anonymoose*

        Precisely. And since this has been going on for FAR too long, it can be said with a little tongue in cheek smile – could be genuine, could be mocking: ‘well…I must know *something* right since I was given this role’ and then moving on to answering the original question. The sting will be obvious to the bully but still appear harmless to other, making your point while allowing the bully to save a smidgen of face. It’s just like junior high all over again. It’s funny how this behavior still exists in the adult world.

        1. Lafayette*

          You say “I don’t know but I will find out and get back to you.” And then you do so. Calmly, confidently and without apologising for not knowing. No one knows everything, so it’s how you handle it that matters.

    3. hbc*

      I thought so too “the team” rather than “my team.” I think that means OP should probably go to her manager first, at least to give a heads up. Then she can have a conversation with Surly about how inappropriate his interjections are.

      I think she should also plan a few simple replies if he’s being this predictable. “Why are you asking her?!” “I presume because I’m the lead engineer. Anyway, to answer your question, Jane….” Or “Manager asked me to take the lead on these topics.”

      1. BRR*

        Oh wow, that’s very interesting. I didn’t read it that way at first. The coworker is likely taking out their frustrations at the LW. I can understand why the coworker is frustrated but it’s not the LW’s fault.

  5. Engineer Girl*

    #4 – You get what you give. Your best best is to bond together with other employees. Point out that you often work in excess of 40 hours without additional compensation and that you should get slack the other way too. This is especially true if employees are willing to work flex time.
    If they refuse then the office (not just one or two) need to work exactly 40 hours a week. And let the projects fail. Failed deadlines usually bring attention.
    I wonder if HR came up with this as a “cost saving measure”? They would know about the PTO but not the free labor in the other direction.
    BTW, one company I worked for did track the free hours in excess of 40. Mainly because not tracking the free time made it impossible to get actual hours to complete a job. Without the real hours they would underbid a job.

    1. Czhorat*

      I’ve been exempt for a long time. The day an employer tries to charge me an hour of PTO for leaving an hour early is the day I start looking for a new job.

      Is it legal? Sure it is. Is it reasonable? Absolutely not.

        1. Czhorat*

          And I immediately get to work on my resume.

          Exempt positions are usually about the work output, not the hours. They generally expect certaon hours, but that’s an expectation, very rarely an ironclad rule. To be honest most employers wouldn’t care about a half day so long as it’s not too frequent.

        2. HS Teacher*

          Yep, this is a good way to end up with employees who will do the bare minimum. As a teacher my contract is a little more complicated, but my principal never makes me take PTO for coming in an hour late or leaving an hour early because she knows how frequently I work weekends, come in on holidays, and come in as early as she does. If she started nickel and diming me on PTO I would be less inclined to work all the extra hours I do.

    2. Antilles*

      Agreed – if you’re working extra, they should be willing to cut you some slack on certain things. End of story.
      Even from the company’s perspective, it seems like a dumb idea, since (a) it drives off good people and (b) it ‘s likely to cause your employees to give that ‘stickler’ attitude right back.
      You’re going to be an exact on “if you want to leave before 5:00, you need to use PTO”? Then don’t be surprised when people start being equally inflexible on other things – no conference calls after 4:30 pm, making sure they get exactly 60.00 minutes for lunch, being less flexible with adjusting their PTO, working fewer excess hours, etc.

      1. CarolynM*

        This – at an old job I got chewed out for being 3 minutes late back from lunch (not a position where I was needed for coverage and coming from a boss who regularly came in late, left early, “worked” from home and took extended lunches.) I usually came in at least a half hour early, rarely even took a lunch let alone a full one and usually wound up leaving late. From that moment on I would sit in my car until start time, I would take exactly an hour lunch and I would leave exactly on time … while I job searched like a fiend!

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          Good! Since not taking a lunch at all is not only really bad for your health, but also illegal.

          1. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

            It’s not illegal everywhere. My state has no laws regarding lunch or breaks for anyone over 18.

            1. Jennifer Thneed*

              Wait, what? Shit. I really did think that was one of the few federal protections we have in common.

        2. Samata*

          I had an experience similar at an old job. One time I worked from home due to a water main break in my apartment and later found out I had to take PTO since hours worked from home “don’t count”. I did what I could do, and sometimes more, after that. But never again did I stay even 10 minute late.

          It particularly disconcerting when the person who disciplined me routinely came in late without using PTO because she was “checking email from 10-12 last night and slept in”.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      That was the most horrifying letter of the batch to me. You can put in 60 hours, but if you have to run out to see a doctor at some point between 8 and 5, you’d still have to take PTO? I’ve never seen anything like this.

      My prediction is that everyone is going to use up their PTO, in 2-3 hour increments, on job interviews, and leave.

    4. Decima Dewey*

      If they insist on charging you 2 hours when you’ve only been gone for 1, take the full 2 hours from then on.

      1. Engineer Woman*

        I’d be so tempted to do the following – If I’d gotten back to work early, I’d do personal things at my desk and if questioned: I’m on PTO for 2 hours…my 2 hours are up in 20 minutes and I’ll start working then.

        This nickel-and-diming is never good.

  6. Anon here again*

    What if you are co-workers with the person? I’m new to my job and most of my co-workers have attitudes like this.

    1. Specialk9*

      It’s really hard when everyone complains and snarks. The most effective thing is usually to leave. But you can also choose not to mirror moods or attitudes, and just be your own positive happy self.

  7. KWu*

    #3 on pumping during all-day interviews: as Alison frequently advises, just be matter-of-fact about the breaks and accommodations that you need. It is not unprofessional to show indications that you are a human and that you have a baby! I get that it feels weird to be bringing a thing involving one’s breasts in the workplace, but it is what it is. If you clearly and concisely state what you need and show that you put thought into it, it should go over well.

    Re: carrying all your pumping gear with you, if you can get a large diaper bag in neutral colors/plain pattern, or even if you just use a small suitcase, I think that will look fine. Unprofessional would be if you were carrying a bag that had stuff spilling out of the constantly, that had messes on the outside, etc. I feel like it shouldn’t look too different than if you had flown in for the interview and just had an overnight bag with you, but happened to need to keep the bag close to you rather than keeping it a reception. Who knows, maybe they can set aside a windowless, locking office with a key that you can use for the day. I believe at least some states also require offices of a certain size to have dedicated pumping spaces that are not in the bathroom.

    Congrats on getting this far with a dream job!

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      There are now diaper bags aimed at SAHD’s, that are plain colors and just happen to be fitted out to be diaper bags.

      (If I’d raised infants, I’d’ve wanted something like this so bad, but it wasn’t yet on the market at that time.)

      1. Snark*

        I recently purchased a bag from Patagonia called the Black Hole MLC, which is carry-on size (45L) though there’s a 25L courier bag version (and backpacks, and duffels!) as well. It’d be an ideal stealth diaper bag because it’s made from a coated ripstop that’s basically waterproof, and it wouldn’t get stained or stinky. Pricey, as Patagonia tends to be, but bombproof – I use the backpack a lot too, and it’s taken plenty of abuse.

    2. Penny Lane*

      FWIW, my office interviewed a woman who at the time was home on mat leave and was bfing (and hence needed to pump). She explained it matter-of-factly and we accommodated it matter-of-factly by building in the break that she needed and providing her with a private room. NBD.

    3. Ophelia*

      Seconding all of this – I haven’t had to pump during an interview, but I have had to do it during all-day meetings and conferences. It’s definitely a reasonable request, and from my experience, people will really try to work with you by finding chairs and private space, even if the office/venue isn’t already set up for pumping (looking at you, supply closet at the National Zoo).

    4. Legal Beagle*

      This is great advice! OP, don’t apologize or beat around the bush; just be matter-of-fact about your needs, and they should take their cues from you. Also, a large work bag can carry a pump, pump parts, milk bags, and a small cooler bag. There’s no reason it can’t look perfectly professional. I know a lot of working moms like the fancy Sarah Wells (is that the right brand name?) pump bags.

      1. margarita mama*

        I have been the scheduler for many all day interviews. I always ask the candidate if I need to build in break times (I don’t ask why) in the schedule and if any accommodations are needed. I then block out the time and find a room with a locking door. It should be that simple on the scheduler’s end.
        Candidates should feel no difficulty in saying they need a half hour every 3 hours and a private room, but I understand why it feels difficult. One way to look at it: if the employer balks at that request then it’s a sign that you might not want to work there.
        A rolling briefcase is not uncommon, they come in all sizes to hold various equipment, and should work for any sort of interview.
        Good luck.

    5. Academic Addie*

      Agreed. I had multiple all-day interviews while nursing. Told them matter-of-fact, no big deal. One schedule I did have to send back and just say “Hey, I do require X breaks of Y duration.” I was offered every job I nursed during the interview at, so obviously no one thought it was a big deal.

    6. Sand(wo)man*

      Agreed. Also, my pump’s carrying case was really plain and just looked like a structured shoulder bag; I doubt anyone not in the know would have given it a second glance.

  8. BRR*

    #2 Resume gaps. I’m on professional job number 3 and currently looking. In this job hunt and my last job hunt (between jobs 2 and 3) nobody has even asked about a five-month gap between my first professional job that I was fired from and my second job. I don’t know if they didn’t notice or didn’t care but I find it odd. Not saying it’s the norm, just felt like sharing my experience.

    1. Tardigrade*

      I was asked about a four-month gap for government work, but no other employer has ever mentioned it.

      1. MLB*

        Yeah the government is hard core. My husband works for the govt and he had to fill out a 127 page report to have his security clearance renewed.

        I’ve been laid off twice, and the first time I was out of work for a year and half. It wasn’t because I was an undesirable employee, but because I was a developer and had only worked with an ancient language (which actually ended up helping me get a job and start a related but different career).

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I’ve been out of work since June and only one recruiter so far has asked about it. The recruiter also phrased it in a way that indicated it wasn’t a concern, more curiosity. I was honest about taking some months off and being very selective about where I applied (didn’t mention it’s by necessity – not many jobs available for my skill set/experience combo!), and that seemed to be an okay answer.

      The other thing I have done is only put years, not month/year, on my resume. It simplifies things a bit if you have a month or more off between jobs. However, you can’t always do this on an application (sometimes they want specific-to-the-day start and end dates, which seems excessive).

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        I’ve been known to start a job on New Year’s Day and end it on New Year’s Eve Day in cases like that one. (And for an application for that didn’t accept just month/year, they got that I started a job on April 1.)

        Ridiculous forms get ridiculous answers, in my book. If someone is actually looking at those tiny little details and caring, then I will worry what else they nitpick about.

    3. dragon_heart*

      Normal recruiters wouldn’t mind a few months gap, but sometimes job hunting can surprise you. For example, I have a 1 month gap and the HR person asked me about it. The gap was December of the year. I answered that I already had an offer( the next job listed started in January the following year) but they wanted me to start in January instead of December.

      He kept pushing and pushing about what I was doing on that 1 month gap. I said I wasn’t working but that wasn’t good enough of an answer for him. I finally said I was sitting on the couch all day marathon watching all my favorite TV series. I didn’t get the job.

  9. TeacherNerd*

    LW #3: I was underemployed for a very long time after graduation (years!) because of the 2008 economic downturn that happened right about the time I graduated. I hated the “why can’t you get a job?” question because, really, how is one to answer that? I was doing all sorts of other stuff – teaching part-time at the local college and subbing extensively in the local school district – so I had no idea how to answer that, even snarky responses in my mind. I still don’t know how I should have responded to that; it absolutely wasn’t for lack of trying.

    1. Specialk9*

      That really stinks. You had a job – several! – so anyone giving you a hard time was healing insult after injury. I’m sorry you had to deal with that.

  10. Not Today Satan*

    I’m in a similar situation but the reverse. I wasn’t snarky and rude, but I was a little too combative with my manager. Not purposely, but I’m very forthright and especially as a manager of people I can fight a little too hard for what I think it right (e.g. advocating for my people).

    Not once did she coach me that she needed me to push back less….. but a year later I’ve heard that she thought I was very difficult and passed this on to my next manager. It’s very confusing to me because she even offered to be a reference and I gave her as a reference a few times, not knowing that she thought I was an a-hole.

    So anyway, it might be different in this case because rudeness is a little different, but if nothing else you owe it to the people you manage to coach them and give them a chance to improve personality issues, rather than just passing the buck and letting them think you had a better relationship than you did.

    1. mrs_helm*

      Being difficult or challenging to work with doesn’t mean the same thing as being an a**hole. I’ve worked with several difficult/challenging people over the years….people who might question my choices, nitpick issues, etc. … Often those people made me work harder. (And, new manager, thanks for the headsup about who I am working with, so I can be prepared.) The difference between ‘tough’ and ‘jerk’ isn’t even about why they were the way they were…IMO…just if the feedback was legitimate stuff or not. (Though I realize some people would think tough=jerk always.)

  11. Sled dog mama*

    For the commitment question, I am on call on weekends but I know that my boss is only gonna call if its a “this person is going to die if we don’t treat them right NOW” kind of emergency. Am I less committed because I have weekend plans, no, because my I trust my boss is only going to ask me to drop plans in that kind of emergency and my boss trusts that if she asks I will move mountains to get there.

  12. Lynca*

    #5- I’m going to be honest. In my field where OT is common (not only working late but being on call and available for emergencies), you’re not going to be seen as committed by being inflexible. No matter how good the work produced is, you’d ultimately be shirking duties. And honestly also missing opportunities to do excellent work for a lot of recognition. We don’t expect people to take every OT assignment but being completely inflexible is going to be a problem that hinders advancement.

    Our managers have to do a lot more OT than their reports.

    1. Snark*

      Which is fine, but if you’re going to make OT a condition of recognition and advancement, if someone needs to pick up their laundry or run by the grocery store or just sit in a quiet bar with a pint, don’t nick them 30 minutes of PTO here and there. The flexibility has to go both ways.

      1. Lynca*

        I agree it does. And I’m not saying that the employees get nothing back. It’s really more I think this struck a cord because I have a batch of newer employees that are firmly inflexible. I value my time off but I also understand that the job I took has these requirements. And their inflexibility ends up causing a work load imbalance.

        I currently have a serious problem with newer hires never wanting to do work outside 8-5. Even though we’re upfront that we have on-call responsibilities and emergencies. But being on-call and OT are part of doing the work. We can have work scheduled nights, weekends, and holidays (if necessary). So not calling people back or responding to emails when we have work scheduled is a huge deal.

        1. Czhorat*

          I could argue that if you can’t get the work done during normal business hours then you’re understaffed.

          Expecting employees to have few enough demands on their time that they can work evenings and weekends is a way for you to avoid having to pay someone else to work a regular evening shift.

          If your expectation is “once every six weeks or so we might need evening coverage” that’s very different than “this place can’t run without having the team be on call”.

          1. Lynca*

            I don’t want to get into what I do- but we have legal (and really it’s for safety too) reasons why we would perform work at night or on weekends. So it’s not a straight up staffing issue and this isn’t a strict desk job.

            I said OT is common, not regular. We’re talking being on-call or working OT every 3 or so weeks. Or working a brief spurt of OT for a week or two.

          2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Some places do need a team on call. In my case it was a 24-7 manufacturing operation. If something went wrong with our software at 2:30 AM, they couldn’t wait for us to get into the office at 8:30 AM to fix it if the product had to be on a truck that leaves at 3:00. I am okay with a business having to operate that way, I just don’t apply for jobs at that type of places anymore.

          3. Dankar*

            Just chiming in to say that I also work in a field where employees need to be on-call 24/7 some weekends/regularly work nights during busy seasons.

            The emergency on-call stuff is all necessary risk management, so it’s non-negotiable and anyone working in this field would be seen as unreasonable if they took the role and pushed back on that part of the job. I don’t want to do it, so I remain in a lower-level position, which is an okay trade-off for me right now.

          4. Specialk9*

            Yeah, Czhorat. I am apparently very efficient compared to my peers – I can bang stuff out at high quality, and get a ton done. I don’t generally need to work nights and weekends to get my work done. If I did, it would be a sign that they severely understaffed the position, or that we’re having a legit crisis-crisis.

    2. Czhorat*

      That’s a tradeoff some people are willing to make.

      I’m exempt, but I’ve declined job offers which wouldn’t allow flexible scheduling, including remote work one or two times a week. If it means not being able to make quite as much money or climb as high in a given role then that’s a tradeoff which is – to me – worth making.

      Many of us want to work to live, not live to work.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Same. I had a job where I was on a 24-7 on-call rotation. I left it 12 years ago for that exact reason. I don’t mind occasional late hours, or a very occasional weekend (even did an all-nighter a few years ago, hope I’ll never have to do that again though!), but I’d be miserable in a job where I could not make evening or weekend plans because there would always be a possibility that my phone would ring or an email would come in, and I’d have to drop everything and log into work. Or in a job where I would always be expected to come in early, stay late, and only go home to sleep. I missed a few milestones in my children’s lives when they were young because of my on-call schedule. They are now adults and say that they don’t mind it that it happened and that it wasn’t a big deal. But they did mind then, and it is a big deal to me.

    3. NotAnotherMananger!*

      I work in legal, which, as Alison specifically mentioned in her response, does expect you to routinely work outside business hours and be mobile-tethered waking hours. Someone who didn’t want to work OT and didn’t check their email outside of the office wouldn’t last long. HOWEVER, we are very, very clear about that in interviews, so it’s not a surprise and people who aren’t up for that can opt out (or can ask for appropriate compensation for the intensity of the work). It’s not for everyone, and it’s a waste of both the candidate’s time and ours if it’s not a good fit.

      Personally, too, someone telling me they’re committed and a hard worker doesn’t really tell me much because of how subjective those phrases are. I would want to know what that means from their perspective and how they’ve performed in prior work and actually shown that.

    4. Michaela Westen*

      I don’t care how you try to justify it, IMHO constant overtime and on-call indicate a poorly managed or stingy workplace. A good employer hires enough people so no one, including managers, has to work all the time. A good employer rotates call so no one is doing it all the time.
      Even in fields like law where it’s common to try to work people to death, I think it’s wrong. A good country would have and enforce laws against it.

  13. Delaney*

    #4-I’m in a sort of similar situation, however I am non-exempt. So if I need to leave an hour early for a doctors appointment, our increments are 4 or 8 hours. So if we leave an hour early, they just announced that not only are we no longer allowed to stay later or make up time during the week, but we can either accept no payment or use an excess of the tiny amount of PTO we receive (5 days for sick, vacation, etc. A year) to cover.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      At my office we have something similar as the formal policy, technically. You can always work MORE than 8 hours a day, but you can never work less unless you’re going to take 4 hours of PTO (and it can’t be taken in hourly increments). However, it’s up to supervisors to enforce this, and most supervisors don’t – especially since they need the flexibility of occasionally coming late / leaving early themselves.

      1. only acting normal*

        This is the policy where my husband works – he doesn’t enforce it for his staff either. They even have clocking in, but managers can sign off any discrepancies.

    2. Observer*

      Well, it’s not legal for them to not pay you. You need to be paid for EVERY hour you work. So if you only left an hour early they HAVE to pay you for the other 3 hours.

      1. LQ*

        But they are paying, they can force you to take the PTO, they couldn’t force you to do it unpaid, but they can (legally, not as decent employers) force you to take the 3 extra hours of PTO.

      2. Lil Fidget*

        Yeah, late to the party but this probably *would* be the case if I was non-exempt. However, I’m salaried, so they ARE paying me for a full eight hours of work (they’re not paying me any extra on the days I work ten or twelve, of course, but that’s not the deal). It’s that they’re dinging my limited (paid) PTO.

  14. Strawmeatloaf*

    Yes Mr. Employee, you certainly are going to get a promotion that way by putting your superior down in front of others and making yourself look bad.

    Might be time to switch jobs if you’re so miserable. Or try and see someone for that.

  15. MLB*

    After reading the comments, it seems most think that the LW from #1 is the rude employee’s manager. I do not get that sense at all. I would hope that as his manager, she would speak up if he’s being that rude, because while it’s uncalled for regardless, if he reports to her and she lets him talk to her like that, it’s a bigger problem.

    1. Specialk9*

      It is unclear. What is certain is that OP is of higher rank than the snarky one, since snarky applied for but didn’t get OP’s position. It’s just not clear what the reporting structure is.

  16. voyager1*

    LW1: You can’t manage how the guy feels about being passed over but you can manage his behavior around you. If you have the authority to discpline him do it, if not get it to someone who can.

    I have been the passed over employee. I was never rude or anything to the new manager. But it was clear upper management told her I was passed over for the job and it jaded every interaction she had with me causing tension that wasn’t necessary . I personally couldn’t have cared less if she succeeded because I had already been planning on leaving and was pretty far along in a hiring process at a anothe employer when she started (I left 12wks later). I actually went out of my way to help her, but because someone decided to tell her I had applied to the job she was in, well she always thought I was a threat.

    1. Specialk9*

      That’s so interesting. I found out someone applied for the job I got, and I filed it away and helped her get a different job in the dept. It let me know she was ready to move up, and she was always pleasant to me.

      1. FaintlyMacabre*

        I’ve had it go both ways. At one place, I started the job and one of the employees told me he’d applied for my job and was super snarky about it at first (until he realized that yes, I was good at the job, and if he worked with me, it helped him out). Other job, when an employee told me he’d applied for my job I braced myself for the snarkiness, but he was actually a decent dude and asked a lot of questions about my previous jobs and experiences and when I left, I gave him a heads up so he could get his resume in order to throw his hat in the ring. Life’s rich tapestry!

    2. The Supreme Troll*

      Voyager1, I know I’m really late for this, but your upper management at that company made a huge mistake letting a new manager know that someone on her team had wanted the position that she now has.

      It is absolutely none of the new manager’s business (and I don’t mean this in a harsh way, just as a way that privacy boundaries need to be respected) for her to know that you had applied. I completely understand how you feel in that regards – and really all of this could have been avoided.

      Nonetheless, I’m really glad that things worked out much better for you.

  17. KX*

    I have been employed since 1997. My resume goes back to 2002. I have a one-year gap from 2010 to 2011. When I was looking for work in 2015, it never came up in any phone screen or interview. One year gap! But, four years old at that point. If they noticed, they didn’t care.

    1. voyager1*

      I csn’t remember where I read it (might have been even on this blog) that gaps in employment are not looked down on as much because of the economic downturn a few years ago.

  18. Observer*

    #3 – There is absolutely NOTHING “unprofessional” about having your pumping equipment with you. You’ll be doing yourself (and all other women who want to nurse) a HUGE favor by acting on that attitude.

    Of course, you need to be put together, but that’s true no matter WHAT you’re carrying. As a practical matter, besides the diaper bags people have mentioned, some pumps (good ones!) actually come in / with a carrying case that basically looks like a large tote or shoulder bag. It has everything in one place and looks pretty good.

    Link to one example in the response

      1. Specialk9*

        I am a huge fan of FREEMIE. It’s *so* much more comfortable than the awful cones, you can pump while commuting or flying (so long as you have a plug) without anyone noticing anything, no need for sports bras with holes cut in them or feeling like a cow hooked to a machine. It’s magical.

  19. Anna*

    One way to make it absolutely clear in the moment is to ask to speak to them right away. Within moments of the conversation being done, asking them to come to your office for a minute.

  20. Science!*

    I had an all day interview when I was 9 months post-partum. I regret not speaking up more. I had to travel to the interview the night before and left the morning after. The first night was fine because I was able to pump in my hotel room before dinner and after dinner. But the day of the interview I pumped in the morning and didn’t bring anything with me because I felt awkward about it. So during bathroom breaks I would hand pump into paper towels to relieve the pressure. But I had to insist on going back to my hotel room after the official interview was over and before we all went out to dinner.

    I wish I’d spoken up and told them I needed at least 20-30 minutes and a private place. Luckily my son was 9 months at the time, so he wasn’t as little as a 3 month old and I could manage with hand pumping.

    As for nondescript bags: I use an LL Bean messenger bag as a diaper bag because my husband used to be a SAHD and he still does a lot of the caretaking of our kids, so we prefer a generic bag.

    1. Specialk9*

      Yeah, this was one reason I lost my milk. I was already on the skids due to some other issues, and waiting too long made it dry up.

      1. Specialk9*

        This sounds like I was shooting heroin between my toes while pumping. I just meant there were other health issues.

  21. Argh!*

    I took a position that had been vacant for a year, and my supervisee filled in on some of the job duties. He was a real PITA for several months. He didn’t meet the basic qualifications for the job, yet thought the place did “fine” before I got there. Considering the numerous goofs and problems in performance and conduct, I seriously doubt that. I had to tell him that my boss obviously thought the position needed to be filled and I was the person to do it.

    It’s been ten years now and he still thinks he should be consulted about issues that I’m looped in on. In that time he could have earned the required degree, which I remind him of every time he slips up.

    Some people are just jerks. We can’t change the way they feel but we can insist on a certain level of professional decorum.

  22. Brett*

    #4 I was curious about what happens if the OP uses up all of their PTO early on, and then just takes time off against a zero balance (but never full days).
    That’s when I came across a really curious DOL letter on the concept of “bona fide” sick leave plans, one that gets referenced a lot.

    What makes the letter really interesting is that the DOL specifically mentions of the plan in question, “they do not have to use leave if they are out for only an hour or two due to illness or a doctor’s appointment”. The letter never says that this is a requirement or even a key factor, but does strongly imply that being able to take 1-2 hours off due to illness or a doctor’s appointment without using leave is a factor in making the plan a bona fide leave plan.

    Why does this matter? If the plan is _not_ a bona fide leave plan, then they cannot deduct pay for absences due to illness or disability once the OP is out of sick leave. (That goes along with this letter:

    I’m curious if anyone else has seen references to the bona fide leave requirement and the ability to take short amounts of time off without using leave? Is this all the DOL has ever said about it?

  23. Mary*

    Breastfeeding whilst interviewing – oh hai, that’s me in *checks clock* four hours! It’s a 45min interview, hour and a half wait, then a tour of the facility and lunch with all candidates. The baby is five months old and has never had a bottle or been away from me for more than half an hour’s dash to the shops.

    Fortunately me partner works nearby, so she’s going to hang around with the baby and I can meet and feed her between the interview and the tour.

    Wish us luck!

  24. LM*

    The pettiest move in a viciously awful partnership dissolution involved coffee.

    The setting: partner A, The Problem, immediately stopped billing upon being told the partnership would be dissolved. Partner B and I tried to keep the place afloat while we wound it up, but money was EXTREMELY tight. At some point, I made the error of mentioning that, as a cost-saving measure, I had started personally buying coffee grounds, since I was the only coffee drinker.

    Cut to: every evening when I left the office, Partner A poured as many grounds into the machine as could be crammed in there, ran a full pot, and left it to go cold overnight and to greet me in the morning. How extraordinarily charming, no?

    1. LM*

      Oh no! This was meant for the coffee post—I don’t know how it got here. The comments thing froze up on my a few times but I thought I was in the right place. Sorry!

  25. (another) b*

    Yeah but what about unemployment? I didn’t have a full time job for 7 months last year (laid off, company sale). Fortunately I bridged the gap on my resume with my freelance work, but that should’t be a red flag.

  26. Laura in NJ*

    Allison’s answer to the gap question actually made me feel worse about finding a job. Mine is currently 5 years due to not being able to find anything. Why don’t employers get that the economy still sucks and there are still people struggling to find work?

  27. jo*

    OP1, go ahead and make an Instagram for your dog! I for one am always happy to find another adorable dog Insta. :)

    On a more serious note, it sounds like that hiring manager was looking for a candidate who seemed like a creative type, a self-motivated go-getter, an offbeat sort of person, or something like that. Don’t read too much into it, because not all hiring managers in marketing will place great emphasis on those specific things, especially compared to your professional qualifications. But it couldn’t hurt to put some of your leisure time (if you aren’t already) into activities you can talk about in interviews that will show what kind of person you are and how you see yourself. Do things that are important to you, talk about your interests outside work, and you’re more likely to land in a job where people are excited about you.

    1. jo*

      Um, sorry all, how weird … I was trying to comment on the April 20th short answers post, and I have no idea how I ended up two entire posts earlier than the one I thought I clicked on. Oops!

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