my noisy coworker won’t mute himself on conference calls, checking references after someone’s hired, and more

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

1. My noisy coworker won’t mute himself on conference calls

I have an etiquette question today that is driving me nuts. I work on a team where most of us are remote. We have a lot of daily check-in calls on Webex or Skype where the entire team gets together to talk about project work or issues we are having. Most of the time, this process works well and everyone mutes until they want to talk, which cuts down on the background noise and makes it easier to follow the conversation.

We have one coworker, however, who will never mute himself upon joining a call, despite people asking point-blank for him to do so. The background noise around him is one thing, but he’s also constantly making bodily noises (coughing, snorting, throat clearing, etc). Sometimes he’s even eating on these calls — unmuted! It makes it so hard to pay attention to the person presenting, and it’s disrupting to the meeting to need to consistently stop and ask him to mute. When people ask him to mute, he will do so, but it’s only effective for that one call we are on. During the next call it’s the same song and dance.

Do you have any advice on how to get it to stick that he needs to go on mute so that I can regain my sanity?

You have a few options:
* You could ask the person who most often convenes/moderates these calls to address it with him: “Hey, could you ask Roland to be more vigilant about muting himself? He usually forgets and it can be really distracting on the calls.”
* Depending on the dynamics on your team, you could say something yourself at the start of the call: “This is a reminder for everyone to mute themselves.” Or even, if you have a decent relationship with this dude that allows for some ribbing, “Roland, this means you.”
* You could message him during the call: “Hey, can you mute yourself? I’m hearing a lot of distracting noise.”
* You could address it with him directly outside of a call: “Hey, I’m having a lot of trouble hearing clearly on conference calls and I think it’s because you don’t reliably mute yourself. Could you make more of a point of doing it?”
* If you try all that and none of it works, you could ask his manager to address it.

People are weird.

2. My company is checking references — after someone is hired

Due to my role, I support every function of our HR team. One of my tasks is to check references for candidates who we have extended offers to. However, lately the recruiter who sends me the references to check has gotten in the habit of sending the references to me after the person has already begun working for us! She will tell me no rush on getting it done (because the person is here already) but send her the feedback when I get it. This puts me in an uncomfortable position when I call said references because they usually know we have already hired this person and they have started and they call me out on this. What can I do to avoid this? I have already told this recruiter about some unfriendly encounters with references due to this, but nothing has changed. Also, from emails I am forwarded, she is not asking for candidates references until after they join either. Should I approach this uncomfortable situation with my boss since it has happened multiple times?

Yes, absolutely you should. At best, this recruiter is making your company look ridiculous to new hires and their references — as if the reference-check process is such a bureaucratic rubber-stamp that it’s not even getting done until after someone is hired. (And there’s really no point in checking references at all if you’re waiting until someone is hired; the idea is that it’s supposed to be part of the hiring decision, not some sort of dotting of i’s and crossing of t’s after the fact.) But worse, and more likely, she’s probably causing your new hires a lot of angst and concern — because they’re going to wonder what the hell is going on and whether this means their new job is not in fact a done deal.

So yes, talk to your boss, tell her that you think this is making the company look terrible to references and freaking out new hires (and that you’ve already had some references respond badly, as well they should).

3. I think I know who the office pee-er is

I have a question that isn’t exactly Earth-shattering but I’m curious on your take. I feel weird asking this, but we have a coworker who pees all over the seat and floor around the toilet on a regular basis. I work in an office with 120 employees that is a retail location. While there are no issues in the public customer restrooms, someone keeps peeing all over the seat and the floor around the toilet in the mens’ and womens’ bathrooms reserved for employees. It’s the norm here to use the other bathroom (mens/womens) if the other is in use. The bathrooms are only 1 room with a locking door and don’t have stalls, so you are never in a bathroom at the same time as another person.

It’s been a source of frustration in the office and the HR Director has sent emails and posted signs about how to appropriately use a bathroom. I have gone to the bathroom after one woman who I think is doing it. My reasons are: (1) I have used the bathroom before her, and then shortly after her and the pee mess wasn’t there before but it was after. Sorry for the TMI, but I had just drank a 32-ounce water so it was only about 20 minutes between each trip and the office wasn’t very crowded. (2) The woman wears a very strong perfume that lingers for some time after she leaves the bathroom so I know that she has just been there.

Now, I wouldn’t normally bother with this except that I know the HR Director (also a woman, as am I) was trying to figure out how to stop this. Everyone thinks it’s a man. I still think that the correct action is to keep my mouth shut, because I’m not 100% positive and also, pee in general isn’t something I want to talk about with my coworkers in the first place. I don’t have an obligation to report this, do I? Can I just ignore this whole thing without guilt?

You do not have an obligation to report on your coworkers’ bathroom habits! I free you from this burden.

Read an update to this letter here.

4. My company made me a counter-offer so I turned down another offer — and now they’re not coming through

I was recently offered another job in a similar position for a new company but for slightly more money. When I informed my manager, she informed me that she didn’t want me to leave the company and would work on a counter offer. The counter offer included a pay increase (more than the salary I had been offered) and the chance to transfer into another department of the company that would allow me the progression and growth that I am ultimately looking for, as my current position doesn’t have any scope for growth. However, the managing director was away on holiday for two weeks so was unable to sign off on the department transfer, but as a managing team they had the ability to sign off on the pay.

Now the director is back and the transfer hasn’t been mentioned since. I asked for an update from my manager and she told me that they would be creating the position and will be interviewing. I hadn’t been informed that I would be required to interview, or that there would be other candidates.

It’s been almost four weeks since I turned down the other offer, and I’m starting to give up a little. I am now unsure that I made the right decision to stay. Should I inform my manager that I shall be continuing my search for another position if the transfer doesn’t materialize, or should I just cut my losses and go?

Your company screwed you.

You turned down another job offer because they offered you a different position, and now they’re telling you that other position isn’t a sure thing at all and that you’ll need to interview for it along with other candidates?!

They really screwed you. You took them at their word and gave up something of value to you, and then they changed their story.

There’s no real point in telling your manager that you’ll go back to job searching if they don’t come through for you, because they’ve already shown that they’re operating in bad faith and can’t be trusted.

Absolutely do resume your search — but even if they ultimately give you the position they promised, these aren’t people you want to be dealing with in the long-term.

5. Will I miss out on my bonus if I give extra notice of my resignation?

I am planning on quitting my job this fall in order to attend school, specifically, I am taking a CNA course. I want to provide my employer with as much notice as I can, but I also want to make sure that they are not going to use it against me. My concern is the company has not announced the bonuses yet. Bonuses are normally paid around the middle to end of July, and I won’t leave my job until late August or September. If I do the nice thing and give them plenty of warning so they can hire and fill my spot, can they use that to not pay my bonus?

They can, unfortunately. And some companies don’t pay out bonuses to people who are leaving (with the thinking being the bonuses are a retention device and you’re already leaving). Your best bet is to check your employee manual to see if this is addressed in there and, if it’s not, to see if you can find out how they’ve handled this for other people in the past. If you can’t find out for sure, then it’s a gamble based on what you know of them and how they operate — but you wouldn’t be wrong to decide to play it safe and wait until bonuses are paid before giving your notice.

On the subject of giving more-than-usual notice in general, you’ll find people who will tell you never to do it, that you only owe two weeks, etc. But there are cases where it makes sense to do, will generate significant good will, and you know you won’t be penalized for it. But it really only makes sense if you’re sure your employer won’t penalize you in some way — push you out early, deny you a bonus, etc. When you’re not sure about those things, err on the side of caution.

{ 412 comments… read them below }

  1. Ferry Fairy*

    LW#1. I run large sessions on multiple platforms inc. Skype, WebEx and Cisco.
    Ugh to the snarfing and coughing and eating on conference calls. My misphonic self is cringing.

    Can you forcibly mute him alone, or mute all attendees and force him to unmute himself? And repeat as needed. Usually it’s a presenter privilege – on Skype, for example, any one can see who has a live mic and any presenter can mute anyone (or everyone). Sometimes I just say “I’m muting everyone, as we’ve got a lot of background noise today!” Instead of mentioning that someone’s kid/cold/parrot/phlegm is destroying our call

    1. HMM*

      Yes I recommend this exactly – usually the hoster or if you have conference rooms hooked up to the system with an iPad dock, you can and should have whoever is manning the meeting just mute everyone. People who talk will soon realize they just need to unmute before talking. It’s a little tedious having to babysit it but is, imo, much preferable to the noises. Ick. My sympathies!

    2. Akcipitrokulo*

      Link in last comment of hoe to do it on sfb… but yeah, whoever is presenting/hosting the meeting should be able to mute participants.

    3. PX*

      THIS. If its Webex, the presenter or host should be able to mute obnoxious coworker, and can even set it up to automatically mute everyone upon joining. If its Skype, last I recall, anyone could mute anyone – and I was absolutely ruthless about using that feature!

      1. paul*

        That’s exactly how we set ours up.

        “All attendees are in listen only mode” as you log in.

        1. Anna*

          When we do trainings, the host usually gives us plenty of time and warnings to mute ourselves, but inevitably there’s one or two dingalings who can’t get it sorted. Then they mute us all. It’s so freaking obnoxious to not automatically mute yourself when you log on!

    4. LouiseM*

      Agreed. In every conference call I’ve been in, everyone is automatically muted as they come in. It’s helpful not to have to hear everyone’s loud typing. Since this coworker never remembers to mute himself, something like this is the obvious solution.

    5. Minerva*

      I didn’t know this was available in webex – will have to look for it. Our problem is when someone from our customer support group puts the call on hold (rather than mute) so we get the hold message drowning out the call. Solution now is for everyone to hang up and restart the bridge. Ugh.

      1. You don't know me*

        Oh no! One of the first things said at the beginning of all of our conference calls is DO NOT PUT THE CALL ON HOLD!!!

        1. Lil Fidget*

          On ours, it also can happen if they receive another call during the meeting and switch over to it, even quickly – they don’t recognize that this is in effect putting us “on hold” so I have to give them a heads up of both scenarios. It’s really a flaw in the system TBH – it ought to be possible to mute the offender in some way.

      2. Kate*

        I was in a meeting like that recently, only it was hold music rather than a message. Our telecon service holds the number as long as any person has called in too (doesn’t have to be the host of the call), so even if the rest of us hung up, this person was still on. We had to dig up another telecon number to call. I couldn’t believe someone could be so clueless.

      3. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

        We had a way at oldjob to kick someone off the call. I saw it used when someone had a poor cell connection that was creating a ton of static and they wouldn’t hang up (likely didn’t realize it was them) and used for when someone placed the call on hold. Might want to see if that’s an option?

      4. Chalupa Batman*

        I accidentally did this once. I had to step away from a conference call (because EVERYTHING was an “emergency” at OldJob), and an entire committee of colleagues from various companies, many of whom had never met me before, had to hear the peppy hold music, complete with “did you know…” style commentary on how great my employer was, for almost 10 minutes. OP, you definitely want to know if your system allows you to administratively mute people, even if this guy gets it together. (Who doesn’t mute themselves after being directly asked to do so?!)

      5. Brett*

        The host on the webex (whoever holds the ball) has the power to mute any specific person or everyone.
        Just click on the dimmed out mute icon and it will turn red and mute them.

    6. LW#1*

      Thank you for the suggestions! I was hoping to avoid needing to mute everyone, but it seems like that could be a viable option, at least to try to “train” him. The problem we face is that I think he knows he’s the culprit of much of the background noise but just waits until someone says something, rather than being proactive about it. I know for me, all it would take is one time for me to be un-muted and asked to mute, and I would forever make sure I hit my mute button!!

      1. Natalie*

        Don’t worry about training him. Who cares? He may never be the kind of person who responds that way, and if you’re not his manager that’s not your problem. The goal is a conference call with minimal background noise. If force-muting his line achieves that goal, then you’re done.

        1. Samiratou*

          Agreed, if he’s that clueless or entitled he doesn’t mute after being called on it repeatedly, just mute him. Webex allows the host to mute people singularly, and since you can tell who is “speaking”, it’s not hard to mute the offenders.

          If the call is large, though, it may be easier to do the listen only thing for everyone. If he unmutes himself and leaves it that way (be prepared for that!) then mute him again. Again, feel free to call him out on it, individually, if he persists. That stuff is super rude and don’t worry about looking rude to someone who is so rude to everyone else.

          1. EmKay*

            Agreed, definitely do not be afraid of being rude by calling this guy out. Naming and shaming can work wonders.

            1. Jadelyn*

              Honestly, it’s not rude – he’s being disruptive, there’s no rudeness in intervening to stop his disruptions from causing problems for EVERYONE ELSE ON THE CALL. And if there’s any awkwardness, consider force-muting him to be “Returning awkwardness to sender”.

      2. Akcipitrokulo*

        Some will allow individual muting by presenter/leader – in any event, most people don’t mind if they don’t have something to say at that point!

        1. Jadelyn*

          I always default mute myself when I join a conference call – I like my freedom to snark at my office-mates about the meeting without worrying about being overheard, lol.

      3. Akcipitrokulo*

        And yeah, I forgot a couple of days ago on an evening call – and after everyone said “what?” when I told my kids “don’t do that!” I remembered….

        1. Witty Nickname*

          My favorite “remember to mute yourself” story is the first time my husband worked from home because our then 3 or 4 year old was sick and couldn’t go to school. Usually, I was the one who would do that, but I had a lot of meetings that day, and he only had one call. So when I left for work, I told him “make sure you are on mute during your call unless you need to talk.”

          He didn’t mute himself. And the whole call heard when my son yelled from the bathroom, “Daddy! I went poop!!!” He learned after that.

          1. Sapphire*

            My favorite was when I was working at home and on a conference call, I forgot to mute myself and I tend to sing when I work from home. Apparently everyone heard a few seconds of it before I remembered.

      4. BenAdminGeek*

        Yup, mute him specifically and ruthlessly. I have a colleague who travels by train, and joins important calls from the train station, then talks softly. It’s The Worst.

      5. paul*

        Yeah, for most of us its’ pretty cringe inducing to realize our typing/sneezing/yawning just got broadcast to 100+ random people.

        1. JustaTech*

          We had someone do that on an all-company call and the CEO asked *repeatedly* for everyone to mute and this one person just was not getting it. If it had been me I would have had to quit on the spot.

      6. MCMonkeyBean*

        I can’t really understand people like him–I’m SO paranoid about not being on mute! I would be so embarrassed if I were making a bunch of noise on a conference call!

        1. BadWolf*

          Me too!

          We have the side problem that sometimes people join the audio from their computer and don’t mute either the microphone or the audio and then you get this horrible echo of doom.

          We frequently do mute-all and then you have to remember how to unmute the line if you need to talk.

        2. LBK*

          Seriously – I check it constantly because I’m so afraid of having accidentally unmuted myself or thought I did and forgotten to.

        3. Academic Addie*

          Same! I can barely even check email if I’m on a conference call because I’m paranoid about accidentally unmuting somehow.

      7. KimberlyR*

        Even though I’m not a noise maker on conference calls, I would rather enter a call with everyone on mute. It saves me the trouble of remembering to mute myself. I typically continue working right until someone starts talking so I don’t want my typing to be heard throughout the call while everyone is getting settled.

      8. Anon.*

        I was going to say, people tend to think they and others have a better tech knowledge than they actually do. I know this sounds overly simple, but maybe he just doesn’t know how to mute the convo.

          1. Anon.*

            Thanks, I had seen that. I love my users, I really do, but just because they knew something yesterday does not necessarily mean they still know it today. — sincerely your happy local tech support person

      9. Seriously?*

        Has anyone told him that this is a problem in general and not just occasionally? He might really be clueless and think that the level of background noise is generally fine and when it gets excessive someone says something. Or he might think that person is obnoxious about normal amounts of noise but if they ask him to mute he will not make a scene. The solution may be for the person running the call to talk to him before had and tell him that muting should be the default.

      10. AKchic*

        Some people simply don’t *care* about the noise they create for other people. I used to have to set up conference calls 4x a week for a previous boss. If he wasn’t sitting right next to me in front of the speakerphone, he was on his cell phone. If he was on his cell, he was a menace. Why? Because he roamed. Office to office, the kitchen to prep food and coffee, sitting in on other meetings (that he usually hadn’t been invited to, but gee, it looked *so* interesting!), and the bathroom. Yes, the bathroom. He was famous for taking calls in and *to* the bathroom. Without muting. Because he was *still* talking.

        No amount of reprimands would get him to stop doing it, either. The CEO came down on him about it, and he still didn’t change. He actually took a call with our governor and a federal grant coordinator to the bathroom.

        Luckily for you, this person isn’t leading the calls, so you have more leeway in getting the leader of the calls to call him out every time and tell him to mute, or to force mute him every time. It sucks, but if he can’t show basic manners for a conference call, then he’s going to have to be managed.

      11. Jen S. 2.0*

        You can’t want him to want to mute himself (ha, a friend of mine at girls’ night about her husband, earnestly: “He absolutely does more than his share. But I want him to WANT to change diapers.” The rest of the girls: *collective side-eye, then gales of laughter*).

        Agree with the masses — focus on your end goal and get there however you can. Mute him yourself.

    7. PhyllisB*

      This is what I came here to say. I have several conference calls a month and one of them is nation-wide and the leader has started putting us in silent mode as a matter of course because there are some people who just cannot or will not mute their phones. Makes it much easier to hear what’s going on.

    8. RabbitRabbit*

      Funnily, we usually have the opposite problem – we have two board meetings a week and typically one or two people will join by phone at one or both meetings. At nearly every meeting we get a pause to hear the input of someone attending by phone, call their name, and hear “sorry, I was on mute.” Definitely the better problem to have!

    9. MissGirl*

      We had to do all mute on a conference call with whom I can only assume was Darth Vader.

      1. LBK*

        I worked with a project manager who we used to describe as sounding like a walrus breathing on the call. And he was also a never-muter. It was so goddamn annoying.

      2. zora*

        I used to have regular evening conference calls for a volunteer group I ran, and one woman from Europe insisted on joining but they were so late her time that she would fall asleep and be snoring into the phone, her snoring sounding like a drunk walrus that ate Darth Vader. At the time we used a system that didn’t allow the host to mute callers and it almost drove me literally insane.

    10. I Love Thrawn*

      Whenever I read about stuff like this, it just screams ‘control freak’ to me. You WILL pay attention to me, just like some little kid misbehaving. Otherwise, one reminder would be sufficient.

    11. Long Time Reader, First Time Poster*

      Yeah I am also extremely ruthless with the mute button when I run a call. My boss is the WORST snarfing snuffling hacking phlegming call participant I have ever heard — it’s like every five seconds. I constantly mute him.

    12. HyacinthB*

      I really should read comments before I post because I recommend this also. It really helps!

    13. Cromely*

      Can you call him out directly? If he’s a repeat offender, can you get away with, “Fergus, that sounds discussing. Mute yourself.” I’m not generally a fan of shaming, but if he’s aggressively noisy I think you can go with it.

    14. ENFP in Texas*

      One of my jobs on training conference calls is to play Whack-a-mole and mute people who can’t be bothered to do it themselves. It is such a huge pet peeve of mine…

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        Years ago, long before Skype, I was in a HUGE project with HUGE status meetings, so everyone was on mute all the time, and the conference calls were the kind with operators available. My contribution to the calls was minor, so I felt free to be the person who dialed the code to get a call operator to mute or disconnect someone’s line. I did this, oh, almost every call. It made so many people’s lives just that little bit better.

  2. Namelesscommentator*

    #3 my sympathies. People are gross. I would … not want to be in your position. At least at my office we are all equally perplexed at the state of the women’s room. I would not want to be the holder of who the grossest among us is.

    #5 Wait until bonuses are announced and then give notice … you do not want to lose out on money because you are a good person. Giving them 2+ weeks should be perfectly acceptable (unless norms are way different in your field) and removes any chance of them not coming through on your bonus.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      #3, whoever is the pee-er is being absolutely disgusting (even if they have reasons for why they struggle to pee into the toilet and not around it, continuing to foul up all employee bathrooms is not a reasonable resolution).

      But you also have no obligation to report it. And because you’re not 100% certain, if I were in your shoes, I’d be loath to report her because… what if I was wrong and then she had to deal with a lot of embarrassing stigma and awkward HR convos?

      1. Susan Sto Helit*

        I assume, if it is a woman, it’s because she’s one of those people who doesn’t want to actually sit on the toilet seat because…other people sit there too? And she therefore chooses to hover instead.

        If that’s the case, you may be able to fix the problem by providing paper seat liners and/or antiseptic wipes/spray in the bathroom. Along with some helpful posters about how you can’t actually catch anything from sitting on toilet seats :-/

        1. Birdlady*

          +1 !! (Both liners/antiseptics AND posters)
          I hate it when people spray their urine all over the seat and leave it for the next person to either clean up or accidentally sit in it.

          1. Jesca*

            At the same time, though, who feels so entitled about themselves that they don’t feel a need to clean up after themselves. In this case it doesn’t matter why because the employee just flat out refuses to recognize that they are leaving their bodily fluids what sounds like all over the bathroom. Even if you had some really medical condition that caused this, clean it up! Sure, add the other stuff, but I doubt they will use it or even care.
            Haha I have second hand outrage about this for some reason.

            But I do agree that OP has no obligation to say a thing. I know I would not. I didn’t walk in on it and see it with my own eyes. And even if she was walking out of the bathroom right before I went in, I still would not be able to say in any certainty it was her. I mean not only would it be hugely embarrassing if OP is wrong, OP could also find themselves in some huge fall-out as the office gossip or worst the bully!!!

            1. Susan Sto Helit*

              If this were me, I would be so tempted to start a workplace rebellion. Next time someone pees on the seat and doesn’t clean it up, /that seat will not be cleaned/. Everyone will unite in either holding it or using a different bathroom until the point has been made sufficiently.

              Completely impractical of course, and it’ll never happen. But you KNOW the hoverer isn’t behaving like this in their own bathroom where they have to clean it up themselves. If the cleaning fairies stop showing up maybe they’ll discover actual consequences.

              1. Pollygrammer*

                I think there’s a real risk of the men rebelling and insisting that the men’s bathroom be reserved only for men if the ladies can’t keep their urine to themselves.

                1. AKchic*

                  The men may be thinking it *is* another man, though. It is a pretty fair assumption for a guy to do such a thing.
                  I know in my house, it’s typically going to be a male member of the house if I see urine on the toilet seat, or around the toilet. I can generally figure out *who* it is based on which toilet, and what time of day it is (if it’s in the morning, it is a teenager thanks to certain, um… morning issues; if its during the day, it’s a 9 or 10 year old because they were distracted and wanted to hurry out of the bathroom as quickly as possible).
                  Luckily, the women in my house completely sit because we do clean the toilets often (thanks to the boys).

            2. Gabriela*

              This is one of my biggest pet peeves. Women refuse to sit on a toilet seat because they think it’s gross, but will shamelessly look you in the eye as you enter the stall after them having left their own urine all over it. It takes everything in me not to yell, “you should be really embarrassed for having urinated all over a public place!”

              1. Amber T*

                It’s the vicious circle of ‘pee-ers on the seat-ers.’ People don’t want to put their butts on the seat because there’s pee on it, but there’s pee on it because people don’t sit while they pee. It also isn’t that hard to take a wad of toilet paper after and just wipe, buuuuut….

                Regarding the pee on the floor… that’s confusing. Is it possible the flushing water is crazy and spits water (or, probably a mixture of water and pee) back out to the floor? I remember one of the toilets in my high school did that. Not a plumber, but something to do with the water pressure?

                1. Merida Ann*

                  That’s actually happening in my office now – the over-flushing. We have a single-stall bathroom and after we had several new employees start at once, we started having wet spots on the floor in front of the toilet. I thought maybe someone was missing, but I’ve finally realized it’s actually that they leave the seat up (I’m the only woman out of 10 people in the office) and now the flushing water splashes out a little, whereas before everyone (still majority men, just fewer people overall) was putting the seat down and just the little bit of overhang was enough to keep the splashes inside.

                2. Not a Morning Person*

                  But then wouldn’t that happen all the time and not just occasionally? And it seems to be happening in both bathrooms, too. It’s a problem I’ve seen, but it’s usually something that happens every flush, not just sporadically.

              2. Susan Sto Helit*

                It’s incredibly selfish. “Obviously I can’t be expected to sit on a gross (clean) toilet seat, but all you lesser mortals should be cool with sitting in my own personal urine right?”

                1. Seriously?*

                  I worked with someone who was not only a squatter who would not wipe the seat, but would then immediately go to the paper towel dispenser, pull the lever a few times and THEN wash her hands. It drove me nuts!

              3. GlitsyGus*

                I wouldn’t do it at work where I actually know people, but I have said to strangers out in public, “Dude, seriously, clean up after yourself!” when I walk into a just abandoned stall that is a mess.

            3. Nita*

              Agreed! But maybe the office also needs to supply a mop and paper towels for each bathroom? If they use hand dryers, they may not have towels, and most places won’t have a mop in an easy to find place.

            4. Clorinda*

              OP has no obligation, but … all the men are under suspicion. Maybe OP can call out that assumption next time it’s made? “You know, it’s not always men who do this, sometimes a woman has bad aim too.”

              1. LCL*

                Yeah, I wouldn’t start any discussions about this but would feel obligated to say ‘how do you know it’s the men/women who are doing it’ if I heard someone say that.

          2. Allison*

            This is becoming an issue where I work, I’ve accidentally sat in pee twice in the last week! It’s just a little and always in the same spot, but I just don’t get it, why not lift the seat up (we can do that here), or at least look at the seat and give it a courtesy wipe before leaving the stall? Are people really too “busy” for that?

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              Yes, if you must hover, then you have no reason not to raise the seat.

            2. TootsNYC*

              why not lift the seat up


              Look, men normally pee standing up, and they are taught to always lift the seat.

              So if a woman is going to hover to pee, she should “pee like a man”–standing up, and lifting the seat out of the way.
              (I’d think it would be more comfortable anyway; the seat sticks out on each side. The one time I tried to hover, I found it much easier w/ the seat out of the way)

              Of course, for our OP, it sounds like it’s messier than that. How does she not get it on her clothes?

              1. paul*

                There’s nothing worse than dropping trousers….and only then realizing there’s a puddle on the floor. God that makes me mad. Gee thanks random stranger whose pee is now on my pants, I hope your day sucks.

                1. Allison*

                  OH NO! Oh no . . . I am so sorry, that’s the worst. At least when someone’s pee gets on my bum, I can wipe it off.

                2. Plague of frogs*

                  I used to be a housekeeper in an old folk’s home, and there was this guy whose pee was blue. How do I know? He couldn’t aim at all, and would leave it all over the floor of his bathroom for me to clean up.

                  He tended to get lost, and end up in other people’s bathrooms. I could always tell when he had been there. Sometimes even without looking! It had a pretty distinctive smell.

                  Great guy in general, but I wished he would just sit down….

              2. RabbitRabbit*

                Well, then she has to *touch* the seat too, and she’s far too dainty and precious for that… better to just pee everywhere and let other people deal with it. /s

              3. Free Meerkats*

                Male, I raise the seat, and when I’m finished I leave it that way. I’m not taking blame for the hoverers.

                This is obviously a Thing in your office if the HR person is involved; and the hunt for the phantom pee-er is going to continue. This may be a rare good time for an anonymous note or email (doesn’t everyone have an anonymous Gmail?) to the HR person to “keep an eye on Mabel.” You’re not directly accusing her and it can’t be traced back to you.

            3. Cruciatus*

              Sometimes certain toilets flush with so much force that water is sprayed onto the toilet seats. Any chance that’s happening here (or in some of the other cases mentioned)? I am so thankful for our current restroom at work! There are technically plenty of stalls around just in case (academic library) but we have a single toilet and sink in our workroom and the worst I can say is sometimes the men leave the seat up. I never knew I had it so good!

          3. LBG*

            We have a poster. “If you sprinkle when you tinkle, please be neat and wipe the seat.”
            Doesn’t really work. We have 5 stalls and by the end of the day we have: non-flushers; clogged with multiple (at least 20) seat covers; sprinkled upon; and someone who props the lid of the trash bin open with wet tp. We have a cleaning crew, so it is spotless ever morning, but I’ve taken to going to a different floor some days. We have a lot of females on our floor, and the floors with a higher concentration of men generally have cleaner ladies’’ rooms (less traffic).

            1. JS*

              We have a poster in our stalls as well “If you sprinkle when you tinkle, be a sweetie and wipe the seatie” LOL!

              1. Just J*

                We personally like this notice in our bathroom: “Please pee with elegance and precision.”

            2. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

              I want to make posters that say:

              [nice normal font]
              If you sprinkle when you tinkle
              [all caps with a more angry or ominous look]
              Clean up your filth, @$$hole!!!

            3. sleepwakehopeandthen*

              In one of the buildings in our work, there is the most aggressive be neat poster I have ever seen. It was also posted in a bathroom that I have never found to be excessively messy, even before they posted this sign. I am going to share because I think it is hilarious. Also, it’s in all caps and red ink:

              Clean up after yourself!!!! Flush the toilet!!!! Wipe the seat and floor if you contaminate it with:
              These are biohazards that transmit diseases!!!
              Be respectful of otheres that work and learn in this building. If you are old enough to be here then you are old enough to be responsible for cleaning up your mes!!!!!!!!
              And wash your hands!!!!!!

            4. Allison*

              Part of the problem might be that people don’t know they’re “sprinkling,” so it doesn’t occur to them they need to wipe the seat. Instead, encourage people to check the seat. People leave behind all sorts of gross stuff without realizing it.

              1. Former Employee*

                That is something I would expect from a child, not an adult in a work place.

                Per the sign referenced by the person who commented above: ” If you are old enough to be here then you are old enough to be responsible for cleaning up your mess!!!!!!!!”.

                I think that says it all.

            5. myswtghst*

              It is borderline unreal to me how gross our bathrooms get by the end of the day. We have about 10-12 stalls for all the women in the building, and by the end of the day, it’s nearly impossible to find one that isn’t fouled up in some way. We’re at the point where we don’t have paper towels at all (because people kept trying to flush them), and they have put signs up asking people not to flush really concerning things (underwear, tights, etc…), because apparently that became an issue too. And to top it off, several times I’ve gone in before I leave for the day and found the remains of someone’s afternoon snack (candy wrappers, mostly empty soda bottle, etc…) sitting on the toilet paper dispenser in a stall, which just confuses the hell out of me, because there is a break room like 10 steps from the bathroom.

              1. Susan Sto Helit*

                That sounds like a woman who’s also, at some point in her life, been given the message that she shouldn’t be seen eating in public. Ugh.

              2. Anonymoose*

                Trying to save time? In one way, out the other? Odd. You know there are still a ton of casino bathroom stalls that still have cocktail trays and ashtrays still in them. It makes me wonder what the hell people did in the 50’s/60’s when using restrooms. Throwing a party?

                1. Chicken*

                  I like the casino bathroom drink holders! It actually makes sense to me, I’m not going to leave my drink unattended in public.

          4. Edibleflowerarrangements*

            Related: I hate when people do this in the handicapped stall. Handicapped people usually need to sit – they don’t have a choice.

            1. Edibleflowerarrangements*

              ETA: I don’t think it is handicapped people peeing on the seat , and sitting is often not a choice for handicapped users, they have to sit.

        2. Lora*

          I have known far too many women who swear up and down they got an STI from a public toilet seat so that’s why they won’t sit down. On further questioning, the reason they thought it was even possible to get an STI from a public toilet seat was because their partner insisted they couldn’t POSSIBLY have gotten it anywhere else.

          No, honey, your partner is cheating. For real. Nobody ever got chlamydia from a toilet. No, not even once, in the whole history of the universe.

        3. Parenthetically*

          UGH this makes me crazy. I was in a (perfectly clean but busy) bathroom last year in a national park and a woman came in with four teenage girls and spent about 30 seconds LOUDLY scolding them about never, evER, EVER, do NOT whatever you do eVEr sit on the seat in a public bathroom, it’s disgusting, do not not not not not sit on the seat!!!!11!!1!!

          It was ridiculous and I wanted to make an equally loud comment about how her phone is definitely dirtier than the toilet seat.

          1. Anonymoose*

            Watch, and shes also the kind of woman that doesn’t wear underwear when she tries on swim suits. *eyeroll*

        4. Anonymoose*

          Yep. I noticed a lot of urine-friendly (I’m trying to be PC…is it working?) toilets on the east coast where seat covers aren’t as prevalent. So that would be my first step. The next is to maybe…I’m embarassed to even suggest this (oh, the internet can be a rabbit hole, yes?) but there are ladies stand-up urine funnel thingies to that the pee-er might really appreciate. Since she is a hoverer, maybe she’d prefer to stand?

          I just keep thinking that there are a lot of surfaces she’s hitting, which means splashing, which kind of explains why she wears so much perfume. *gag*

          1. Star Nursery*

            GoGirl is Great for camping or really any reason women may want to pee standing for any reason.

      2. AnonForThis*

        I had my large bowel removed about 20 years ago. This means that I do no 2 more often and more “splashily” than other people.

        The toilet cubicle is always spotless when I leave it. I clean up if needed.

        1. A tester, not a developer*

          Yep – active Crohn’s disease here. I always clean up after myself. It’s not that difficult.

        2. TootsNYC*

          based on this, I wonder if things would be better if the company made sure to provide clean-up materials and equipment? There isn’t anything in my work bathroom that I could use to clean up if I had a mess problem. Just toilet paper.

          1. AnonForThis*

            Good point. All of our stalls have brushes with bleach in container which makes it easier (though TP usually suffices).

      3. OP 3*

        I definitely do not want to harm someone, and I’m so glad I can just ignore this whole thing. I like the woman—she’s a very kind, easy to work with person. I’m just leaving this to HR to sort out. I’ll just use the other bathroom if I need to.

        1. Nita*

          Maybe you can have a quiet talk with her directly, without involving HR? Of course you don’t want to get her in trouble, but this is not something you and your coworkers should have to deal with constantly.

        2. OhBehave*

          No one is going to admit to doing this no matter how insistent HR gets. There will be a point when this person is the only one to use this bathroom! Based on your proof, I would say you have the pee-er. I would be sorely tempted to jokingly say to her as she’s leaving the bathroom, “Did you clean up in there?” HaHa
          It’s gross enough when it happens at home.

    2. JHunz*

      In regards to #5, I personally would recommend waiting until the bonus is paid out, not just announced. A bonus can be revoked at any moment up until you have the money in hand.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Seriously—this is terrible behavior on the employer and managers’ parts. Even if they had good intentions at the beginning and did not intend to bait and switch, they are not behaving honorably, now. OP#4, I wouldn’t even bother saying you’re continuing your search; I would go back on the market, get a new gig, cut bait, and leave.

      It’s already a mark against them, imo, that they were only willing to offer you a pay raise and advancement potential when you had another (better than your current job) offer in hand. If they wanted to retain you, they would have worked harder to keep your pay competitive and to provide you with professional development opportunities (or we can cut them slack and say they were oblivious but willing once the problem was flagged). But then they don’t even come through? HELL NAW. They are screwing around, and the longer you stay, the worse it will feel.

      1. Lora*


        You are working for a-holes. It’s not going to get better.

        Every time I’ve seen this sort of thing happen, in order to really fix the situation so you’re not working for a-holes, not only would your immediate boss have to be replaced with a decent human being, about three layers above her would also have to be replaced by decent human beings too. Which isn’t going to happen any time soon. Even when I’ve seen major hostile takeovers in which whole swaths of people were deservedly let go and replaced, the decent folks were usually caught up in the layoffs too and essentially punished for the sins of their bosses and colleagues. You cannot win this one. Ditch them, give them one star on Glassdoor and live happily ever after somewhere else.

    2. HarperC*

      That’s what I was thinking — the manager made some promises to keep OP and then couldn’t deliver. That seems likely to me.

    3. Beth Jacobs*

      Here’s the thing: if I asked my boss to put every promise in writing, it would look weird and out of touch. And if OP is in the US, having it in writing doesn’t change much, as most employment is at will anyway and suing for damages might not be worth it. Presumably, OP trusted her boss enough to take their word for it – it’s her company that violated the trust here. So that company is not to be trusted anymore, even she gets the internal promotion and gets it in writing.

      1. Oilpress*

        I agree. There isn’t much advice to be given here other than find more trustworthy employers.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I agree that not everything can be put in writing, but this is a case where OP could have emailed her boss and said, “following up on our conversation” and then outlined the terms. It might not create contract liability, but it may have helped as an accountability measure.

        All that said, if OP’s boss was going to renege or make promises that can’t be delivered, reducing a promotion to writing would have no benefit. The employer is not trustworthy; OP should seriously consider leaving.

        1. LBK*

          Agreed – it might not hold up in court but it at least gives her backup if the boss now tries to say she never agreed to that or the OP must have misunderstood her. That way she has proof if she wants to try to escalate the issue or she has peace of mind that she wasn’t crazy for believing that was the promise if they renege/try to gaslight her and she ends up quitting.

    4. mrs_helm*

      Doesn’t help. I had similar situ at past job. It WAS in writing. I got the new position right away, but not the raise. Kept asking, and pointing out it was in writing. Months later, new position was “eliminated”…I got my raise retroactively, but also lost my job.

      I was later told by someone who did presentations for other HR people that you shouldn’t do the thing where you stay with your employer because they counter-offer a position you’ve been offered and are willing to leave for. Both of you know you are willing to leave, so you’re really just giving them more time to replace you, and now you’ve turned down a good option. It’s also not good for the company, as they’re paying someone to stay who was willing to leave, meaning not a really invested employee. She said usually it is not ONLY the money that makes people leave.

      1. neverjaunty*

        This. If it takes leaving for them to give you what you want, might as well leave.

      2. Lil Fidget*

        This is not uncommon, apparently. Most people who take a counter-offer either quit or are fired within the next year. You’ve kind of outed yourself as someone who’s “disloyal” (which is not a real thing).

  3. Mom MD*

    If you REALLY believe it is her, turn the pee-er in. This is filthy and may be passive aggressive. She can clean up after herself if she has an aim issue.

    1. Where's My Coffee?*

      No kidding. Like if I entered the bathroom after my coworker Polly Pissmisser made a big ol urine mess, I’d say, “Hey Polly, you left the stall messy.” (Maybe I’d church it up a bit if I otherwise liked Polly, but I doubt I would because, eww.)

      If she kept up her urine shenanigans, I’d escalate with her directly, her boss, whatever. It’s gross. She needs to knock it off. This reminds me of the discussion involving all the handwringing over hand washing–if someone’s gross, address it. Directly. Immediately. They are gross.

      1. Discordia Angel Jones*

        *sniggering at the name*

        Yeah if you can’t get it in the toilet, at least clean it up ffs.

      2. Quoth the Raven*

        I used to work in a small office of five and I was the only woman, and one of the men would always leave urine on the toilet seat. Daily, without fail (they’d also use up all the toilet paper, which was stored in a cabinet outside the restroom, and never replace it, but that’s another story).

        I didn’t know who it was, but it had to be one of them — no one else used the restroom. So at some point I walked out of the restroom and addressed them all with “Uh, guys, either fix your aim, get a bigger toilet, or clean up after yourselves, but please stop leaving the toilet seat dirty” (it helped a lot that we were all friends in and out of work and we’d joke and banter with each other so the comment made them laugh). Because I wasn’t pointing fingers at anyone in particular they didn’t take it personally, and it stopped after that, for the most part.

        1. Annon for this*

          I also work with 6 men. I know which one leaves his short curlys on the seat, because in 12 years they only showed up directly after his hire, 18 months ago.

          I purchased bathroom cleaning wipes on the company’s dime. When the bathroom is gross, I leave them on top of the toilet. The men get it and they clean it pretty quickly. No one wants to use a gross bathroom.

          OP good luck with your nice coworker with the bad aim. I am sorry, but I have no advice except to use the other bathroom.

    2. Recovering journalist*

      This is not necessarily true. I worked with a woman who did this. It was a medical issue.

        1. Hellanon*

          Yes, exactly. It’s not *my* medical issue, misguided hygiene issue, potty training trauma, or whatever – it’s hers.

        2. Triple Anon*

          Exactly. It could be a medical issue, but there are ways to deal with it. And she could at least clean up.

          But what happens if OP reports her? How would they verify that she’s telling the truth? They can’t put cameras in the bathrooms. I guess they could have HR people check after each use. But they could be doing that anyway without anyone reporting anyone. So I think it’s kind of a lost cause. I think the OP has more to lose by reporting it (potential backlash) than anyone has to gain.

        3. TootsNYC*

          and the company needs to provide something that will work. Maybe something better than TP.

          1. Yorick*

            Honestly, I think if you pee all over the seat you can clean it up with whatever the company provides. Toilet paper wipes up pee just fine.

      1. Temperance*

        Sure, but it’s still on her to clean up said medical issue. It’s disgusting not to.

      2. aes_sidhe*

        A medical issue doesn’t mean she has to be gross and leave the mess she made for others to clean up. She can’t help the medical issue(if that’s what it is), but she certainly can control leaving the mess.

        OTOH, some people are just gross and nasty and don’t have any medical issues.

      3. Bea*

        When I’m on my period it’s a medical issue so imma just leave smears instead of cleaning the seat…NO WAY GROSS!!!

    3. Not Alison*

      Yes, please turn her in. And it doesn’t have to be a “it’s definitely her” but rather just mention the same facts that you did in your letter (i.e. I noticed {the facts} which suggest that it is her, but I don’t know for sure that it is her)

      If you don’t turn her in, then nothing will change for you and you will still get to go into a bathroom with pee on the seat.

        1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          I thought that was part of the job for HR, to dump all your awkward conversations onto :)

          I kid… I’ve never worked in a location where HR is readily available, and my experience with them is they have a habit of dropping the awkward conversations they should be having on us managers.

          1. aNon*

            I’d argue that most conversations should be being done by the manager, not HR. I may be biased as an HR person but it’s not up to me to tell your employee they smell or that no one in your group likes them when you are the one managing them. Considering the managers here all make more money than me, I’d say they get paid to have that type of awkward conversation. I get paid to support them in that endeavor with advice in wording, role-play to act out how to say it, and assistance with documentation.

            Now awkward in terms of having to reduce benefits or company-wide policy change or something actually HR-related, I get paid for that and will have all the awkward conversations you want (although I still hate it, at least it’s something I signed on for).

            Someone peeing on the seat is not something I would want to deal with but because this HR person/department has taken it on, power to them and I wish them all the best with that awkward conversation if they find the culprit.

        2. TootsNYC*

          HR has already started the awkward conversation on this topic. Telling them “I think I know who you might want to speak with privately about this problem” is just giving them more info so they can target the conversation.

          If I thought HR was going to scold her, I might not tell. ut if I thought HR would say, “hey, what’s up with this? what can we do to make it possible for you to clean up after yourself, or to avoid the mess in the first place?”

      1. UptheDownStaircase*

        but it might not be her. maybe she went into the bathroom, saw the state of the toilet, went’ “nope” washed her hands and left. then LW came in and made assumptions.

    4. OP 3*

      I think it’s probably her, but I have enough doubt that I am only about 80% sure and I just don’t think that’s enough. It’s definitely gross though.

      1. aes_sidhe*

        The next time she goes in there, could you be waiting to use the restroom or no? It’s the only way I can think of for you verify it for sure.

        1. Jessie the First (or second)*

          I don’t think OP needs the burden of doing detective work. OP has said she’d rather NOT be the one who has to solve this and report the woman.

          She doesn’t have to be that person. She can be free to ignore and just go about her day, even if there are ways she could rearrange her day to “catch” the culprit. This is not her circus.

      2. Pollygrammer*

        Could you be super sneaky, and clue her in to the fact that other people are starting to suspect it’s her?

        “Hey Susie, I just wanted to let you know, a couple of people have said that they think it’s you leaving pee on the toilet seat. I know we both think it’s gross, so I wanted to give you a heads-up.”

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          I really don’t think that lying to her about something you’re only 80% thinking is really her anyway is a good path to go.

          I might mention it to HR but I’m much more likely to leave it alone – that’s a pretty high chance of error.

  4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, I used to have to do coalition calls with someone (from another org) who would breathe heavily into the phone. When we’d ask him to mute himself, he’d insist it wasn’t him—it very obviously was! Some people are impossible. I like Ferry Fairy’s suggestion about forcible muting, although I realize it would be hard to unmute him when it would be appropriate for him to chime in…

      1. LouiseM*

        You think he had a fetish for making people listen to his heavy breathing on the phone? Or he was jerking off during the call? Much more likely he just had allergies or asthma and breathed loudly.

        1. Lance*

          Yeah, there’s a long line of other possible (and likely) reasons before making a leap to something like that.

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          This. I once filmed a series of sessions for a project and when I watched the video, you could hear me breathing. I was mortified. I was also, apparently, the victim of an excellent microphone and, unbeknownst to me at the time, suffering from a sinus condition that made breathing through my nose quite difficult.

          I also have a co-worker who is a very heavy breather and we always tease him about muting himself, and he is certainly not “pervy”. It’s… not something most of us would jump to first, I think.

          1. [insert witty username here]*

            My phone ALWAYS picks up my breathing when I take video (99% of the time of my dog). I am, admittedly, a somewhat heavy breather, but it has made me super selfconscious about it and I ask people (friends, close coworkers) all the time if they can hear me breathing. They insist they can’t, so it drives me crazy when it’s always picked up on my phone. I try holding my breath and I swear one of these days I’m going to pass out doing it……

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Thankfully it wasn’t pervy. He’s just a mouth-breather (as am I), and he would hold his phone super close to his face (probably resting between his shoulder and face). So the breathing sounded Vader-esque because his mouth was insanely close to the phone. In person you can notice his breathing it a bit if you’re listening for it, but it’s much less pronounced.

      1. Ama*

        Yeah our most problematic non-muter is a guy who just isn’t very good at technology (he’s also a long-time volunteer so we don’t have a lot of leverage for making him learn). He has a tendency to join calls from his cell phone when he’s out on the street, and when he calls from his office his assistant will call and put us on hold until he picks up so we all get to listen to his office’s hold music.

        I have some issues with Skype, but I do like that since we’ve switched to using that for conference calls I can forcibly mute him during the parts where we’re not inviting comments.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Unfortunately he did. He just refused to believe that he was engaging in the behavior that made it difficult for everyone else on the call to hear.

    1. TootsNYC*

      it would be hard to unmute him when it would be appropriate for him to chime in…

      How does un-muting work? Do people have the option to unmute themselves when they specifically want to speak?

      1. Judy (since 2010)*

        In the conference call systems with web interfaces I’ve used, each participant has a mute at the bottom of the screen for themselves. All of the participants can see an icon when a particular person is speaking. The person signed on as hosting the meeting has the ability to mute all of the speakers or just a particular one. So if the host mutes him, he can unmute when he wants to talk.

        Before we had the web interfaces, we would just send IMs to who we thought was making random noise and ask them to mute.

      2. BadWolf*

        On phone conference systems that I have, often the moderator can access a “mute all” option and then people have to put in a code to unmute their line (in addition to the “mute” on their local phone if they kindly enabled that). So I might have to do a *1 or *6 to unmute my line if a global mute-all happened.

        On the breathing front, we sometime announce “Everyone check your mute, someone is Darth Vadering the call”

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        We have two systems we use. The system with less host control requires individuals to mute/unmute themselves. The one with more host control mutes everyone and makes it impossible for them to unmute unless the host directly unmutes that person.

        But I like the idea of starting the calls with everyone (or just the offender) automatically on mute until he unmutes himself to participate.

    2. MissGirl*

      On my system you can raise your hand electronically. That would signal to the host to unmute you.

  5. Mom MD*

    I think Manager should inform clueless Muteless to cease with eating on calls, cut down on the snorting, and learn to use the mute button. Gross.

    1. Brandy*

      Its easily done too. I was once on a call with IT, just a regular call and he was remoting in on my computer as I sat and watched him doing enjoying some Doritos. I had the part I speak into on my headset up at the top of my head well away from my mouth but he asked me how the chips were? I didn’t realize he could still hear me eating. It gave me pause since I thought I was doing right I could still hear him but had the microphone away. I stopped eating until the end of the call. And he wasn’t ugly or nothing, I apologized. It was an easy solve.

  6. Leela*

    LW #3 I have no reason to doubt you that you suspect the correct person but I’d like to throw in my two cents: don’t come forward unless you are positive beyond all reasonable doubt! In a previous company I worked for, we had our own office pee-er, who not only peed EVERYWHERE but also managed to get those paper seat covers half-in, half-out of the toilet so that her unflushed mess soaked its way up the cover and dripped on the floor. We had a multi-stall bathroom, maybe not your case, but there’d usually be a line of women waiting and you’d realize it was because the bathroom pee-er had struck again rendering one of the stalls unusable.

    We had sent out multiple e-mails about needing this behavior to stop immediately, that if this is a medical-related issue and someone needed something out of a bathroom we weren’t currently providing we would accept input and work with them, even anonymous notes if it came to that, and that we understand that bathroom messes happen but the bathroom absolutely needs to be sanitary when you leave. It just wouldn’t stop!

    My direct manager had a similar situation: went in, bathroom was clean, about fifteen minutes later had to go back in but saw Sansa leave the bathroom and in fact Sansa’s lipstick-blotted paper towel was in the empty garbage when she went to throw her paper towel away after drying her hands. She figures it’s Sansa and informs the HR lead who informs Sansa’s manager and it becomes A Very Big Thing where Sansa is loudly berated by her manager in an office without closing the door about peeing everywhere, making a mess, ignoring rules and now her bonus was in question. We could all hear it, it was horrible. It was a horrible situation, and it was handled horribly. But it turns out it wasn’t actually Sansa, because DURING THIS BERATING a different woman went into a different stall in the same bathroom and left exactly the same mess. Sansa was falsely accused, publicly humiliated, and was seriously talking legal action with HR over it.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I came here to say similar. HR can be a funny beast and may assume guilty until proven otherwise. Then that person becomes a permanent “problem” in the eyes of HR even though they are innocent.
      I’ve seen it too often. HR doesnt care about getting the right person as much as making a show for management. They will never apologize when they are wrong. They will do nothing to restore the persons reputation.

      1. Where's My Coffee?*

        Ugh. Not everything is an HR issue. Perhaps if Polly Pissmisser’s continues to make verifiable messes in the bathroom, her manager Ned Needsapair can address the behavior. If for some godforsaken reason it involves an ADA protected condition such as pissmissophonia, then Ned can partner with HR on engaging in the interactive process for an appropriate accommodation.

        No HR person could possibly satisfy the level of need present within the forum. Sometimes part of being a manager is, you know, managing people.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          This isn’t about management. It’s about making sure you have the right person before you raise the issue to others.
          You can do a lot of damage jumping to conclusions.
          The evidence presented by the OP is still at the circumstantial level. Several people could have used the toilet in the 20 minute time. You’d need to collect a lot more data based on the evidence provided.
          Personally, I’d just set up a toilet overflow alarm. Those things shriek when triggered and it becomes obvious who it is.

          1. Where's My Coffee?*

            I respectfully disagree. It is often difficult to *prove* who did something, but everyone has a pretty damn good idea. The workplace is not some court of law, and you don’t need incontrovertible proof from CSI: Pee Investigation Unit in order to just tell someone that you’ve noticed that the stall has been messy more than once after they’ve left it.

            You don’t have to escalate this to HR, which makes it more of a “thing.”

            Case in point: my office had a closet door booger-wiper. Same sort of deal–I wasn’t going to have it, like, DNA tested, but everyone was kinda tip-toeing around the guy we all were pretty sure was responsible. So I just brought it up with him in a nice-ish but direct way; he seemed oh-so-baffled about the identity of the booger bandit–BUT YET the booger behavior ceased immediately. Didn’t have to turn into some big public berating, isn’t in his file…but yeah, we don’t have to look at that crap any longer and dry heave when we see that door.

            1. Mad Baggins*

              That’s a good idea. “Hey Polly, you know that toilet issue? Dunno who it is, but it’s really gross and unsanitary and quite frankly disrespectful of the office and other people. It’s creating a level of distrust and I hate to think what will happen when that person is found out. All we want is for it to stop, you know? Anyway, have a good Tuesday!”

              1. LouiseM*

                I hope this is not a serious suggestion. It’s unbelievably passive aggressive and if I were your coworker–especially if I was not the pee-er–I would be cringing through that whole long monologue.

                1. Leela*

                  Yes! I have to imagine that unless I was pretty close to the person doing this to me, I would definitely assume it was a veiled accusation and be pretty annoyed that I couldn’t *really* defend myself since I wasn’t *really* accused but basically was. Especially if it was said only to me as far as I could tell

              2. What's with today, today?*

                No. When I was in college I worked at a restaurant and we had a toilet spitter. This woman would set on the toilet and spit on the tile floor(woman’s only bathroom). I was getting sick with a very serious stomach illness and spent a lot of time in the bathroom, so she thought it was me, and convinced others it was me. And she did pretty much what is said above, a lot. Except it wasn’t me. I grew to hate her, and we did not work well together because of her accusations. I ended up in ICU (where I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease), and guess what? The entire week I was in the hospital the toilet spitter remained. Never figured out who it was, but it sure wasn’t me. I made sure to let everyone know how baseless her accusations had been, I also told her she owed me an apology and she lost a lot of credibility with the rest of the staff. She left within a month of my returning.

                1. Leela*

                  I’m sorry that you were hospitalized but am definitely glad that you had a way to prove your innocence here! This is exactly what I was cautioning about, you can really do some damage by throwing around accusations because something seems logical enough to pull the trigger on. Having everyone believe that you’re creating an unsanitary environment and in general just not able to be an adult about the facilities harms your standing, both in the company you’re currently with at and if you try to leave (are people really going to recommend you as highly if they believe you leave body waste on the floor?)

            2. Engineer Girl*

              It’s certainly better to bring it up with the suspect. That said, most people are prejudiced, jump to conclusions, and in general are quite bad with performing critical analysis. I’ve seen the wrong person ostracized on several occasions. Most of the time it’s becauee they are different in some ways from the regular crowd. I’ve also seen group bullying based on these sorts of rumors.
              I’m not demanding an absolute proof but instead am suggesting that more data needs to be collected. Maybe because I’ve seen really bad engineering with jump to conclusions analysis.

              1. Julia*

                This. If a court of law and the police can get the wrong person for a crime, maybe a bunch of office workers who aren’t professional detectives don’t always do the best job either?

          2. Lora*

            Yes! Toilet overflow alarms are awesome!

            I had sinks with moisture alarms under them at LastJob. They went off due to condensate if you left the cold water running awhile or were dumping expired buffers from the fridge but generally worked great and they were LOUD. And people generally have a hard time figuring out how to disable them when they’re trying to be sketchy.

    2. LouiseM*

      What an awful story. Personally, even if it was Sansa I think this would not be an acceptable reaction for the manager. Yelling at someone in an open-door office where everyone can hear should probably never happen for any reason.

      1. Leela*

        I agree, the manager was way out of line here and I’m not crazy about publicly bringing up issues with your employees versus privately outside of bizarre cases I’ll leave room for but can’t think of any offhand.

    3. a1*

      We had a multi-stall bathroom, maybe not your case,

      Definitely not their case.

      The bathrooms are only 1 room with a locking door and don’t have stalls, so you are never in a bathroom at the same time as another person.

    4. OP 4*

      Oh wow. That seals the decision for me. I’m not saying anything. I like everyone I work with and I don’t want to be the one who blames an innocent person, accidentally bullies them, or causes unnecessary drama. Thank you everyone for your comments!

      1. SophieK*

        Also consider that she might have walked into the bathroom, seen the mess, and then declined to use the facilities. It’s what I would have done, and I’d hate to get in trouble for that.

      2. Leela*

        Glad to hear it OP! Having said that, I don’t think it’s a problem to pay closer attention and see if it really does seem like this person is the culprit. Making a mess of that level definitely needs to be addressed and stopped, and it’s totally possible you’ve pegged the right person. Also, not knowing your office, I worry just a little that if you came forward without more they might view you as a drama-stirrer even if your intentions aren’t that at all. Good luck with this situation, I hope it gets resolved soon!

      3. smoke tree*

        Yeah, personally I would be inclined to stay out of it even if I was 100 percent sure. There’s a reason I’m not in management–you couldn’t pay me enough to have a conversation with a coworker about their bathroom habits.

    5. Genny*

      I don’t think the problem was talking directly to Sansa about since it seemed the evidence pointed that way. The problem is the way Sansa’s manager handled it. That was a completely inappropriate way to handle any performance problem, but it was an especially inappropriate way to handle something so private.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        The problem is that you can’t control others actions once you make the accusation to someone else.

    6. Seriously?*

      Yeah, the risk of accusing the wrong person would be too high for me. The most I would do is mention that it might be a woman hovering instead of a man.

  7. RioC*

    LW#4: Not to be semantic but “the chance to transfer into another department of the company” seems to imply that this may not have been a guaranteed transition? Your company is still in the wrong here for misleading you with a lofty promise but it doesn’t sound like they were 100% moving forward with the idea of getting you transferred.

    1. JamieS*

      I think by chance OP was just articulating they viewed the transfer as an opportunity not that they were just told it was a possibility.

    2. LBK*

      Yeah, I thought the same thing – I don’t know if that was the OP’s own wording or a verbatim quote, but if that is actually what they said then “a chance to transfer” doesn’t actually mean “we will transfer you.” It means you’ll have a chance.

      1. voyager1*

        Yep I agree. And 4 weeks isn’t a long time. If it has been 6 months then I could see wanting an update. Not sure I agree with AAM that the LW got screwed. She did get the pay increase.

      2. Basia, also a Fed*

        Yes, I agree with LBK. Interviewing several candidates, including you, IS “a chance to transfer.” It would be different if they promised her a transfer. If they actually said “a chance to transfer,” then I don’t think they’ve done anything wrong or shady.

    3. Michaela Westen*

      I don’t agree. It was used to mislead LW to turn down another offer. It was deliberate manipulation. If it was only a “chance” and LW has to interview and compete with other candidates, that should have been made clear at the time.
      I saw this so much when I was young, usually in restaurant jobs – they’d say, “You can make $$$$ in tips!” and it turns out that’s not possible because of the low customer volume. This is similar.

    4. OP4*

      ‘Chance’ was not actually used in the conversation, that was just my rewording for summary purposes. After discussing the job offer with NewCompany with my manager, I was asked to meet with the manager of the department I wished to transfer to, where we discussed growth opportunities, bonuses, role expectations etc.

      However I was told that the Director would be required to sign off on this transfer, but as the role was already in the works it was a ‘done deal’.

      The Director has since taken me aside to remind me how valued I am and has expressed that if the transfer does not go through, he would find a similar role as the company would prefer to retain me.

      However, I have since been looking for other roles and have an interview this week, in the same department that I wanted to interview- in a company closer to home.

      Thank you for your advice so far everyone!

  8. Mike C.*

    If you have a system that indicates who is speaking during the conference call, then I see no reason to say, “Hey John, put your mic on mute, there’s a lot of background noise”. I’ve done this, and I e seen others do it without any regard to rank, and it works just fine.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      OP says they’ve been asking him, directly, to mute himself but he’s not doing it.

        1. Agent Diane*

          Everyone could loudly eat, cough etc when he is presenting his bit? Then say “sorry, could you repeat that bit – someone was coughing?”

            1. Mike C.*

              Given the circumstances, I think it’s not a bad idea. It’s not like his daily update is all that important to begin with.

              1. SarahJ*

                I don’t know, this is a lot more passive aggressive than what others are suggesting. I think it works best to be direct.
                Also, we don’t know that he’s unimportant. Clearly he’s on these calls and contributing.

    2. LW#1*

      Mike C., the problem is that we need to ask him to mute almost every day. It gets pretty disruptive so I’m trying to find a way to avoid keeping it up. I think based on the advice that he’s not going to listen to his peers, so maybe we need to go higher up and have one of the managers talk to him to see if that changes. I wanted to see from Alison’s advice if it was appropriate to go to his manager, but it seems like it is!

      1. Lynca*

        It was suggested below but whoever is managing the calls can mute the lines themselves. If the behavior doesn’t correct itself when a manager gets involved, I would bring up this option.

      2. Natalie*

        I don’t know, if he actually mutes his line when directly asked, I think you have your solution. It’s annoying, for sure, and it seems weird to me that he wouldn’t start remembering to mute it by himself. But I’m not sure “John should learn from this pattern and mute his line before we ask” is something I would escalate to a manager.

      3. Penny Lane*

        LW1 – treat it like any other work issue. Suppose in your weekly meetings Bob was responsible for providing last week’s teapot sales. And each week he forgot to have the data at his fingertips and had to be reminded anew – Bob, you need to go get that data and report back to us. And he never proactively brought that data, but would provide it if someone bugged him about it.

        What would you do? Treat this the same way. There is a weekly reoccurring obligation he’s failing to do. Whether it’s provide updated teapot sales or mute himself, he’s failing to do so and it’s not remotely rude to be direct and tell him you can’t be reminding him every week, he needs to get his act together.

    3. LBK*

      It sounds like he’s doing it when asked but not doing it as a default when he gets on the call like most people do (at least in my experience as someone who went through a period last year where I was basically on conference calls all day). It’s really annoying to have to constantly ask and not have the person pick up the pattern – no one ever had to tell me that I should automatically mute myself when I get on the call, it just seemed like the logical thing to do.

  9. Beth*

    #5: Unless you know people who gave early notice and still got their bonuses, or find other evidence that you’re protected, I think you should wait until after you get yours to announce you’re leaving. I personally like giving early notice when I can safely do so; it builds goodwill, and even beyond that, it’s nice to be able to wrap up projects, identify good people to take over long-term responsibilities, document things, etc. in an unhurried way. But it’s only a good idea when you’re confident it’s not going to hurt you. It’s not worth putting your income at risk, especially since it sounds like you’ll have plenty of time to give notice after bonuses come out.

    1. Beth Jacobs*

      I agree. OP will still be giving 4+ weeks of notice. That’s very generous.

    2. Happy Lurker*

      It’s not even worth the risk. Take the bonus, explore the school idea. Give 3-4 weeks notice and offer to come back and help during school breaks or move to part time, if you wish. But, don’t be over generous with your notice to your own possible detriment.

    1. Where's My Coffee?*

      Hey, Roland, sounds like your washer beeped. Better move that over before mildew sets in.

      Hey Roland, sounds very sandwich-y over there. Turkey? No, wait, peanut butter? It’s peanut butter right? I can totally tell from the smacky-ness!

      Roland…sounding a little rumbly in tumbly today, my friend. Do we need to take 5 for a bio break hahaha?

      Or just tell Roland to knock it off and mute the dang phone and if he won’t, talk to his boss. People are so gross

        1. Rat in the Sugar*

          Wow, I was sitting here trying to figure out how on earth “your washer beeped, it’s time to move the clothes over” was supposed to be a euphemism for “go flush the toilet” and getting very confused, lol.

    2. LouiseM*

      That seems like NBD to me. Just flush the toilet before using it. You never have to touch the poo. The problem with the OP’s situation is you need to wipe off the seat or get someone else’s pee all over your butt.

      1. Yorick*

        It’s NBD until it’s happening all the time and you wonder why someone can’t flush their own poo away.

        1. MissDissplaced*

          Sounds more like a malfunctioning toilet than personal non-poo flushing. Some toilets have backwash and the bowl won’t fully clear.

  10. Augusta Sugarbean*

    #2 I don’t think I’m understanding the situation here. If the company wants references checked, why are even conditional offers being extended (and people hired) before references are checked? And why is the recruiter dictating this sequence of events? Is this an internal recruiter? And what happens if the references for someone are all bad? Does that person now get fired (after presumably quitting another job and taking this one)?

    1. Willis*

      Yeah – besides looking weird to the reference and the new employee, the reference check is meaningless to the employer it someone’s already started work, which I think is probably the bigger deal here. The recruiter is totally dropping the ball on what should be an important part of the hiring process. I agree with talking to their manager, but I’d also let them know I won’t be doing reference checks on anyone already hired (if the OP has the ability to say that). It makes the company and the OP look odd, and serves no purpose.

      1. TootsNYC*

        and checking after they’re hired is a total waste of time. Nobody, and no company, has that much extra resources.

    2. hbc*

      The company (or their auditor or whoever) wants references checked, so they have a rule that they must be checked to complete the New Hire paperwork. The recruiter (and possibly others) disagree with the importance of this, at least in relation to other things—likely speed of hiring. So it becomes a pointless paperwork exercise to satisfy the letter of the law. I’m guessing the recruiter has gotten all positive references and hasn’t considered that a negative one might turn up someday.

      1. Clare*

        I do wonder whether others know the recruiter is doing this. I hope she is not lying to the hiring managers about the timing of the refernce checks. Even if the hiring managers know it is still bad, but misleading them about a candidate’s references would be even worse.

    3. NJ Anon*

      I worked at a job where they never checked references until after the fact. Never understood why. I’m sure i asked but dont remember the reason.

    4. Happy Lurker*

      An honestly curious question posed to OPs manager might solicit either an interesting conversation or a change in policy. Either one would be sure to satisfy OP, but then I wouldn’t know, so please update us OP!

    5. Antilles*

      If the company wants references checked, why are even conditional offers being extended (and people hired) before references are checked?
      I had the same question. Like, if you want to check references and the recruiter isn’t providing them on time, there’s a very obvious solution: “Mr. Recruiter, I have not yet received Candidate’s list of references. As such, we cannot extend an offer until these are received.” Then you hold firm on that.
      Given that recruiters are typically only paid after someone accepts an offer, this will probably solve the problem immediately, because now the recruiter has an actual reason to push Candidate for references (if that’s the problem) and/or send the list along ASAP (if the recruiter’s laziness is the issue).
      (This all assumes that OP’s company agrees that reference checks are important; if the hiring managers don’t see the value in reference checks, then *that’s* the real issue here; whether the recruiter is providing a list or not is kinda irrelevant)

  11. Gently Whispering Into the Void*

    #4, now is the time for selective disclosure. Quietly resume your job search, gracefully accept another position, and then loudly make sure each person you work with knows just how shady management is. It’s an awful lesson to learn, but an important one.

    1. Artemesia*

      This. It is almost always a bad idea to accept a counter offer except perhaps in Academia where that is often the only way to get a real raise and is an accepted thing and there is tenure. It is very common for someone to accept a counter offer and then get riffed as the fact that they were looking makes the company start planning without them (or even behave with hostility.). The company didn’t reward you for your work until you had them over a barrel; there were probably other reasons for looking for a new job as well that haven’t gone away. Once you decide to move on, move on. And now that the company has screwed you over, know that you MUST move on as soon as you have a good opportunity and don’t look back. Don’t tell the you will search; do it, but keep it to yourself until you give notice.

      1. Sarah*

        The best advice I received early in my career was to never accept a counter offer in jobs or in Love. There is a reason you were looking to leave and if they are appeasing you with what you want because you are leaving then they are not good leaders, and you will not thrive there only work.

        1. Clare*

          +1. I made the mistake of doing this once and regretted it immensely. Ended up leaving about 6 months later anyway because nothing had changed.

        2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          I got the same advice but the reasons were different… You’ll get the counter offer to keep you there long enough for them to find a replacement.

          To be fair I have seen successful counters at my company, but the circumstances were pretty unique and rare. I wouldn’t count on it in all situations.

        3. Oilpress*

          Just to provide another data point…I accepted a counteroffer and couldn’t be happier with the decision. Sometimes employers need a little push. Many employees (myself included) assume that their hard work and enhanced capabilities will be rewarded through automatic promotions and raises, but a bit of reminding/demanding/asking is generally required.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Sure, and sometimes when you tell a selfish jerk SO “I’m leaving”, they actually keep their promises to shape up and do better from here on in. As a general rule, though, it doesn’t work.

          2. straws*

            Yeah, although I do believe that counteroffers are primarily a bad idea, my husband accepted one and it was a great decision. His primary reason for leaving was money, they offered more money (supposedly a raise had already been in the works, but he probably got more because of the other job offer), so he didn’t have to change jobs to a company he didn’t know very well. I think a key factor is that you have to be confident that the company you’re staying with actually does care about you and not just having a body in your role.

        4. myswtghst*

          Yep. When I left my last job, I really appreciated that my boss (and her boss) both expressed how valuable I was, and asked if I would consider a counter offer, then were totally cool and respectful when I said that I would not. While more money would have been nice, I knew that it wouldn’t fix the things I was looking to leave because of, and I knew those things were unlikely to change anytime soon. Unless the only reason you are leaving is a salary increase, a counter offer is unlikely to fix what’s wrong, and even if it is only about the salary, that counter offer may be the only increase you get for a long time, so it’s still not likely to be worth it.

      2. Beth Jacobs*

        Yup. If you’ve addressed the issue with management before (ie. asked for a raise or new responsibilities) and they turned you down until you were ready to walk out, that’s a bad sign.

  12. tamarack and fireweed*

    #2, checking references after someone is already hired was completely normal during my time in the software industry in London. The idea was that a) we needed to bring on people quickly, b) during the 6-month probationary period both employee and employer could walk away from each other easily (which overall in European and even UK law is much much harder, for both, after the end of the probationary period – the US is different here, usually) and c) we pretty much never expected anything prohibitive to come out of the reference check, ie., it being in any way decisive was extremely rare. So while of course you should address whatever makes your work complicated, I’d expect this to be something that you can be just assertive about (“oh, this is how we do it, no biggie”). In any event, whenever I’ve served as someone’s reference, I couldn’t have cared less whether they already hired them or not. (Also, I once had an interview with an FBI agent which was for a background check for a co-worker who joined a Navy program — and who at this stage was already training with the program.)

    1. Where's My Coffee?*

      This is why I often advocate for getting rid of reference-checking altogether. The cost/benefit just ain’t there.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        What? No! Reference checking can be so important—it has bailed me out of several bad hires, and I’ve also seen what happens when no one does a check and you hire a nightmare. In get that there are also industries where reference-checking tends to disproportionately harm women/POC/LGBT folks who are similarly situated to white dudes, but my impression is that on the margin, they’re more exceptional than the rule.

        I’m sure this varies by industry and person and geography, etc., but I don’t think I buy that the cost/benefit doesn’t favor checking.

        1. Where's My Coffee?*

          My org does it, but I find it of very little value, and generally then only if it’s an internal reference, say from one division to another. (Note: I’m speaking strictly to referencing checking, not verifications of education or employment, which is important.) As with any hiring practice, YMMV.

          My company hires, idk, perhaps 3500 people a year. Only a small, small fraction of these have any sort of red flag related to references, and frankly the cost per hour involved in gathering the info for these numerous ppl is not offset by any small risk avoidance on the other side. We’ll continue to reference check when/where the risk payoff makes sense, but in general, we’re considering getting rid of it.

          1. NJ Anon*

            My current job does not check references. They do some testing and a background check. I guess thats good enough for them.

          2. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

            Just curious – is your company US based?

            Personally – I just feel like the information provided in references (a single person’s opinion on a candidate’s performance) is so, so subjective. Plus there’s all sort of subconscious stuff going on in our brains. (Ie: reference: “well Jill was a bit unreliable”, checkee: “could you eleborate?” reference: “The biggest issue was that Jill struggled with punctuality” – ok – but does that mean that Jill was 2min late twice a month in a role where it didn’t even matter at all, but this reference is just a butts-in-seat type of person OR was Jill 30min late once a week in a role where there was some effect?) I would have a hard time taking anything aside from very specific, objective examples into consideration – and really how many reference providers are going that into level of detail? And even if they are providing details – I don’t know this reference – how am I to know if they are accurately assessing or describing the situation?

            I guess I sort of see the value in checking multiple references and looking for patterns – ie: three reference say the candidate has issues with punctuality.

            A good reference checker will be aware of the limitations (the subjectivity mostly), but that’s so much easier said than done (sort of along the lines of implicit bias). It’s just one of those situations where the power scales seem to be tipped far more in the employer’s favor than the employee. Plus – to the cost/benefit point – is it worth it to pay that cost per hour to gather data that is so subjective?

            Though I will admit – I do see this through my own dirty lens. I worked for a string of toxic/dysfunctional workplaces early in my career, so I’ve probably seen more unethical reference behavior that the average person has.

          3. Brett*

            You have way better outcomes that some organizations.
            At last job, in public safety, about 20% of conditional hires failed the reference check and lost their job.

            The vast majority of those was for giving intentionally false or misleading information on their application, which was a massive 20 pages and extremely invasive, including signing over an IRS 4506-T 4-year income tax transcript.

        2. alana*

          Agree. I’d add that I don’t find reference checks all that useful for hiring because we’re usually pretty set on someone, but they have been invaluable to me when I ask about how to manage the new hire / what skills the reference thinks they should work on / what I need to know as their future manager. I made a few great hires this year who are generally fantastic, but like all people, they have their weak spots, and the references I talked to were spot-on. It’s so much easier to manage people’s weaknesses when you know them going in.

      2. Media Monkey*

        it is rarely done in my UK industry either – i can’t remember the last time anyone every actually asked me for the references (or called me to check even though people i have worked with have asked to list me as a referee)

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

        I can’t recall ever having my references checked. I’m not sure who I would even ask for a reference at this point.

      4. Lora*

        It’s SUPER important in my field (pharma). If you have a good reference from someone well connected, that’s quite meaningful. If your references are from Joe Schmo, well, that’s just neutral at best. What’s even more important is what people who were not on your reference list have to say about you: I know of a great many bad hires who could have been avoided if the hiring manager had called around to folks who used to work with the person and asked a simple open ended question about what the person was like.

    2. Emi.*

      What? So you might just jettison someone during the probation period for something you could easily have found out before asking them to quit their old job? That sounds wildly unfair to me.

      1. neverjaunty*

        And really expensive. Instead of weeding unsuitable hires out early, now they’re incurring all the costs of turnover and replacement.

  13. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    Use the tech to your advantage Op1! In Skype for Business, demote noisydude to an attendee then forcibly mute him. Ditto in WebEx / GoTo. If he complains, innocently say that you had to mute everyone because of the noise.

    1. Lynca*

      This. Assuming management is initiating the calls this is the easiest solution since he hasn’t listened to reason. I wouldn’t beat around the bush as to why either. He didn’t mute when asked and this is the solution to the issue that has been raised with him numerous times.

    2. Mike C.*

      No, if he complains tell him he never put his mic on mute so someone had to do it for him. There’s no need to sugar coat this.

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        Agreed… I’m pretty ruthless about muting people on conference calls. I spend ~50-75% of my day on them, so I’ll admit my tolerance level for background noise is pretty low. Nobody has ever said “Hey Random..why did you mute me”.

        Skype for business is great, because it shows you who’s ‘talking’ so there’s usually no mistake in it. I also remove people from meetings who put the meeting on hold and leave the rest of us to listen to their hold music.

    3. LW#1*

      At first, I wanted to avoid the route of needing to mute everyone, but after reading the comments I’m starting to see that the goal is really to get through a conference call without missing some important info due to background noise or needing to interrupt everyone to ask a specific person to mute. The easiest and fastest way to do that is to just enforce the mute button as the administrator.

      1. Rat in the Sugar*

        I like they way you’ve reframed the issue here-it’s not about getting Roland to be more considerate, it’s about getting through the call successfully. I think that’s a really useful way of looking at things.

        1. smoke tree*

          I find that it can be really easy to get caught up in the “but why doesn’t he understand what in a pain in the ass he’s being???” mindset, but it’s usually more effective to just find a solution to the problem, even if he never figures it out. On principle this kind of thing is so frustrating though.

  14. Susan K*

    #4 – Is there any chance that this is just a case of stupid hiring practices, such as a requirement to interview a minimum number of candidates for any open position even if they already have someone (i.e., you) in mind for it? It still sucks that they’re dragging their feet on what they promised you, but it might be worth getting a little more clarification on this if you haven’t already: “I turned down my other offer based on your agreement to allow me to transfer to ABC department, but now it sounds like you’re also going to be considering other candidates for the position in ABC department. Am I understanding that correctly?”

      1. Yorick*

        But it doesn’t actually increase diversity since the candidate has already been picked, it wastes people’s time having them interview for jobs they aren’t being considered for.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Yeah, and doing that is actually especially detrimental to marginalized folks because you’re specifically wasting their time and stringing them along to dishonestly make your company look “progressive.”

  15. Quake Johnson*

    Back in my old Coffee-Shop-Inside-A-Grocery-Store we had weekly conference calls and everyone was supposed to press “mute” but someone would inevitably press “on hold” instead. This would trigger the grocery store’s muzak to start playing on the line. It was quite difficult to talk over “THIS IS THE STORY OF A GIRL” or “WE WILL BE INVINCIBLE.”

    Annoying at the time but looking back it was pretty funny. I kinda miss it.

    1. Anon for this*

      A friend of mine was on a large conference call where one of the attendees was watching noisy porn without muting his mike. It was not the most productive of meetings!

      1. Myrin*

        Friendly reminder that we actually had a letter where OP’s roommates, much to her embarrassment, were having sex in the background while she was on a conference call, and it turned out that her coworkers thought she was watching porn on the side!

    2. Pollygrammer*

      This happened on a webinar I was on once. They were able to mute the participants’ lines, but the hold-music kept playing. Because it was one of the presenters.

  16. Greg M.*

    #4 So you’re going to be doing the “should I have” dance for a while probably and I hope I can alleviate that a little. You made the correct choice. You used the limited information you had and took your company at face value and that was not the wrong choice. This is a situation where it didn’t pan out but I hope you don’t torture yourself over it.

    1. Art Vandelay*

      The same thing happened to me and your advice matches that from several of my friends and family! It helped to relieve a lot of the regret and bitterness I had, and luckily, I was able to move on. Handing in my resignation was so satisfying, as was all of the hand wringing once I had left. I hope LW #4 sees what you wrote!

  17. Em too*

    I wonder if it’s worth #4 getting back in touch with the original company if it’s only 4 weeks? They might well have filled the post but it’s possible they haven’t. ‘My other offer didn’t turn out to be what I thought’ seems a good reason.

  18. Drama Llama*

    Re: employer responses to long notice, doesn’t that largely depend on the kind of employee you are? At my company a well known bully gave a 3 month notice; he was pushed out quickly (he was close to being fired anyway). Another person also gave long notice but she is a strong performer as well as being a pleasant colleague to work with. She will receive all her entitled bonuses (probably a generous farewell gift too), continues with the big projects she’s in charge of, and is not treated any differently to those who haven’t resigned.

    1. MLB*

      I would venture to say that any company that can save money will do so. As Alison said, bonuses are a part of retaining good employees and if they know she’s leaving, they probably won’t give her one. But I also don’t think it’s underhanded to wait to give notice.

      1. Drama Llama*

        It would be pretty short sighted of companies to do that. One person’s bonus typically isn’t a great deal of money to most businesses. It’s better to give the bonus as budgeted as a gesture of goodwill and to demonstrate staff aren’t penalised for giving early notice.

        1. Canadian Teapots*

          Never underestimate the willingness of a company and its people-in-charge to try and find ways to be cheap skinflints.

  19. Drama Llama*

    LW4: This is really, really concerning. I would try to find out what the back story is. Unless your company is managed by complete idiots, it makes no sense to string someone along like that because the employee will almost certainly quit short term. Is your company typically bureaucratic and slow with promotions/pay raises? Was your counter offer not communicated clearly with the top boss? If you’re keen to stay at your current work I would give them the benefit of the doubt. But if there’s no valid explanation and quick action on your counter offer, absolutely look for a new job.

  20. A commenter*

    OP #4. Take this as a lesson to never accept counter offers. It wouldn’t surprise me if they’d now consider you a flight risk and would lay you off at the earliest possible convenience, too.

    Definitely resume your job search.

    1. Iconic Bloomingdale*

      Exactly! This is my operating philosophy as well.

      Something (or numerous things) about your current employer made you begin a job search. So once you receive an offer from another company, only then the current job recognizes your worth and value to counteroffer? Then they have the audacity to go back on their word? Ugh. No.

      Unfortunately, now the current job knows you were discontented enough to job hunt in the first place. Trust me, they will keep this information in mind and it may be held against you when it comes time for bonuses, promotional/career growth opportunities and downsizing.

      Keep job searching and the next time you receive an offer, take it, go and do not look back.

    2. Irene Adler*

      I read a statistic that almost 50% of those who accept counter-offers are gone within 18 months-for one reason or another.
      Usually the counter-offer does not remedy the original reason for wanting to quit the job. So it doesn’t ever really fix things.

      1. TootsNYC*

        “doesn’t ever”? but you just said 50%. So that’s half the time.

        But yes, I agree with you, the counter0offer doesn’t remedy the original reason to wanting to quit.

        I said upstream that a counteroffer might be sensible if someone hadn’t been looking and does really want to stay, and if the “fix” is something easily delivered, like money or an actual promotion.

        1. neverjaunty*

          But if it was so easily delivered, why did it take the threat of leaving to deliver?

        2. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

          My thoughts on counter offers are – if you ask for something, company said no, then you get a new offer and after hearing about the new offer the company makes a counter offer where that original request can be granted – nope, nope, nope. No way. Don’t even think about accepting that counter offer.

          I see it as a bit more case-by-case and situation specific if you never specifically requested and were previously denied (or blown off) what’s in the counter offer. Or never alerted anyone to the issue(s) that were causing you to look elsewhere.

  21. GM*

    OP #5, wait for the bonus to arrive before notifying. A friend of mine informed our manager well in advance about her planned move out of the country after marriage, and of course all her late hours and extra working was rewarded with almost zero bonus and change in salary.

  22. PB*

    OP1, I’m having flashbacks to a webinar I was in a couple years ago. The topic, ironically, was “Dealing with Difficult People.” Attendees all called in. The presenter asked us to mute our phones. Maybe half of us did. For the others, we kept hearing typing, background noises, etc. Worse, some of the attendees were carrying on side-conversations, with their phones unmuted. The presenter kept asking them to mute; they just wouldn’t do it. About halfway through, apparently someone wandered into one of the attendees’ cubicles, so he said “I’m in a webinar,” which of course came through to all of is at the same volume as the presenter. So the presenter said, “Yes, you are in a webinar, so please mute your phone!!!”

    I agree with others’ suggestions of forcible muting. If you’re all just calling in now, maybe you could switch to a conferencing platform that will allow a moderator to forcibly mute people.

  23. Asmodeus*

    #2 – something similar just happened to me. My references were checked and I was extended a conditional offer, based on successful drug test and background check…then I was asked to start immediately. I ended up being asked to leave the office my first day to go get a drug test, and am still waiting on the results of both. I work in a creative industry where both of these checks are super uncommon. I don’t expect anything negative to come back, but I can’t help but feel uneasy. Oy.

  24. Nox*

    1] I mute lines when I host any call. Not only do I not care for background noise but I also don’t want interruptions on items presented till its concluded as many questions are answered by waiting.
    3] In our building our place gets blamed for bathroom stuff because we are the largest company and receive fines from building management. We have busted a few of these seat pissers and have HR advise them they will need to correct the bathroom vandalism or they will be subject to paying the 150 dollar cleaning charges. Magically the bad aim stops!
    4] reason #1000 why you don’t accept retention offers.

    1. Adlib*

      Yes, that is another good reason to mute lines – questions that people think they must ask now when it will be answered later in the webinar. Huge pet peeve of mine.

    2. only acting normal*

      I wish you could *mute until finished* for face to face presentations too. My work mantra seems to be “It’s on the next slide.”

  25. Anonyna*

    #1-just had someone use the washroom while on a WebEx call yesterday, unmuted. The people in the room were suspicious but politely ignoring it until the toilet flushed. This was after two reminders to be put on mute. Just…no.

  26. Argh!*


    I would turn in office pee-er because there could be an issue that HR can solve for her. It’s not necessarily intentional. I once worked with a less severe pee-er and I just assumed she had some kind of thing about sitting where others have sat and tries to do her business standing up. If your mess-maker has a phobia or medical issue, HR (or your boss) could provide the restroom with disposable seat covers or figure out another accommodation. She’s not likely to come clean (so to speak) with the people who are affected, but may be willing to talk to HR. If she still makes a mess, then you’d have those available to use for yourselves.

    At the very least, there should be cleaning supplies handy for her to use & a sign saying “Please clean after use.”

    Even if nothing changes, you can decide in your mind that it’s medical or psychological, which would at least make you a bit less annoyed.

  27. You don't know me*

    At OldJob we had an issue with the men’s room. Someone was balling up paper towels and purposely clogging the toilets and flooding the bathroom. It ended up costing so much in maintenance fees that they had to do something about it. First, they put a hidden camera outside the bathroom, focused on the door, and told no one. Second, they had a meeting with all the men and told them point blank that this was costing the company money and if it didn’t stop immediately, when they found out who did it, he would be held responsible for the plumbing and maintenance cost. It was strongly suggested that if you knew who was doing it, you rat them out. At this point most of them were ok with this as they wanted it to stop too. Every time it happened the bathroom was shut down for hours (once for days) and they had a much further walk to get to the next restroom.

    Within a week they found the culprit with a combination of the camera footage and the other men banning together to narrow down when it was happening. It came down to John saying he was in there at Noon and it was fine and Bob saying he was in there at 12:10 and it was clogged. Security reviewed the footage and the only person who entered the restroom between when John was in there and when Bob was in there was busted. Confronted with this the man confessed, said he did it was because he was angry with the company. They didn’t fire him! They made him pay back all the fixing and clean up fees and he was suspend without pay for a week.

  28. MicroManagered*

    #3 As gross as I think the whole hovering/not-wiping-up thing is…. I gotta say I’m really put off by the idea of policing the restroom habits of others in the workplace. I’m also shocked at the number of people recommending that OP do so and report it to HR. Really?

    OP3 does not sound sure enough to report to HR… but even if she were… I dunno. I think this is a situation where you need to stay in your own lane OP. It’s gross but it’s a part of life, unfortunately.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      … As a user of shared restrooms, I really don’t think it’s part of life? I remember once going to the librarian to relay that someone had rubbed poo on the wall of the restroom, and had the impression I was not the first person to relate this this month. But that’s a public space where hundreds of people might use the restroom and occasionally you get someone this gross. When it’s a private space, and only, say, 8 people use the restroom, you shouldn’t expect your coworkers to shrug and say “Well, sometimes people rub poo on the walls, or stuff the toilet with paper towels so it floods, or spray pee everywhere–whaddayagonnado?” They are going to want you found and removed, so they can use the shared toilet without encountering your effluvia art installation.

      1. MicroManagered*

        It *is* a part of life, and I say that as a fellow user of shared restrooms. If I thought dedicating my time and mental energy toward nosing out those with poor hovering skills, believe me, I would.

        I don’t think it’s really a fair comparison to equate the hovering thing to smearing poop on the walls or deliberately clogging the toilet. Those are pretty deliberate acts of vandalism, so it’s a straw man argument to bring them up here, I think. Certainly, if OP believed this person was deliberately urinating as an act of vandalism, and had a reasonable basis for that belief, this would be a different issue. As it stands, I do not believe she has reason to believe either of those things.

    2. Yorick*

      These aren’t really restroom habits, any more than leaving a huge mess in the microwave because you don’t cover your soup is an eating habit.

      OP doesn’t want to monitor how often the coworker goes, or how much she pees each time, or how it looks or smells. She just wants to use a clean bathroom.

    3. Temperance*

      Your right to piss on everything stops where other people’s rights to use a clean restroom begin. So yeah, since Jane is apparently peeing all over the seat and floor with abandon, and not cleaning up after herself, it’s a hygiene issue and something that needs to be stopped.

    4. OP 3*

      I think you’re right. I’m relieved (no pun intended) to have so many people agreeing that it’s not a good idea to speak up.

      1. Yorick*

        It’s not a good idea to report her to HR or whatever, but you could say something to her (in a kind way and in private).

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          No, I really think the uncertainty means you can’t say something to her. It’s easy to see a scenario where 2 people used that restroom in the 20 minutes, and the one that OP knew about was the 2nd, and she just went in to wash hands.

          It’s HR’s to deal with, not OP’s.

    5. aes_sidhe*

      You don’t get to pee all over the bathroom and then expect others to clean up after you.

    6. Marthooh*

      No, lady, don’t blame your mother. You’re a grownup, figure out how to clean up after yourself. If your mother didn’t teach you that part, then your mother was evil.

  29. Aphrodite*

    OP #3 I sympathize. We had a dean at one time who did this. We had gender-separated bathrooms. I was once the victim of a wet seat so I put up a blunt notice about it which she tore down in anger. But I always made sure to use 4-5 paper toilet seat papers after that. (I didn’t trust that one would be enough any more.) She told me a bit later that her mother taught her never to sit on the seat but “hover” and that’s how it happened. I was so happy when she was fired a short time later.

    1. Susan Sto Helit*

      That many seat covers sounds a bit excessive – but I do remember an ex explaining to me about his habit, whenever he used a public bathroom, of getting a bit of paper and wiping the seat down. It serves a dual purpose – both ensuring you don’t get a wet seat, and alerting you before the point of no return if a no-toilet-paper situation is about to occur.

      1. Is This How We End Up On 20/20?*

        I gagged at wiping the seat. I would rather sit in someone’s pee than touch it. But I’m also never worried about getting my butt dirty so I sit and if it’s so gross I wouldn’t want to sit, I’ll find a bush if necessary.

          1. LBK*

            And it’s much easier to wash your hands in a public bathroom than it is to wash your butt!

          2. Susan Sto Helit*

            Also it’s easier to wash your hands than your ass!

            (But I agree, the aim of wiping down with the toilet paper is never to touch it. That should be easily avoidable)

          3. Rat in the Sugar*

            I see what 20/20 is saying tho–she doesn’t care if it touches her butt, because butts are dirty anyway. Pee on the hand is a bigger deal because hands are supposed to be clean and they touch everything else.

            Or maybe I’m just projecting! I feel that way about both butts and feet. Whenever someone brings up the TP-v-bidets debate someone always says “but if you got poo on your arm you wouldn’t just wipe it with paper!”, to which I respond “no, but I care way less about poop on my poopin’ place than I do on my arm!”. Same way about feet–they are unclean to me, so I will throw away things like hairties that touch them/the floor, but I just shrug off stepping in grossness like dog poop (even barefoot!) because it’s not like they can get more unclean than they already are. So to me it makes perfect sense that 20/20 would be cool with sitting on a pee-seat but not with using her hands to wipe it.

      2. Not the only one*

        I do this too! I’ve never met anyone else who did this!! My parents took this like long train trip of Europe when I was potty training and so it was just part of how I learned so sometimes I’ll notice myself do it in my own house…

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That’s what irks me so much. Just wipe it off! If the response to that is, “Ew, no, that’s gross,” then why is it ok for the next person to have to deal with your pee? Part of using a public restroom is keeping it as neat as possible.

    2. Is This How We End Up On 20/20?*

      Hovering is how we make the messes we do not usually have sprinkle issues otherwise! I’ve never used a toilet so disgusting I’ll hover like I’m urinating outdoors. At least outdoors you risk getting it on yourself and you concentrate extra hard.

    3. Have inadvertently sat in someone else's pee too many times*

      Can anyone tell me why people can’t just sit on the freaking seat? What terrible contagion is going to occur? Or why they can’t just use a seat cover or make one from a couple of sheets of toilet paper? Or, if they just CANNOT sit down, why can’t they wipe off the seat? I have checked before sitting before and been bamboozled by dim light.

      I have seen seats (interstate gas station restrooms in particular) that I don’t want to sit on, but I wipe it off and/or make a little cover and I am good to go (haha).

      I did have a *doctor* in a previous job, at a small clinic, take an epic dump that went onto the seat/floor. His solution was to put an ‘out of order’ sign on the bathroom. We had one bathroom and no janitorial service and he knew it. No one else would come near it so I had to glove up and clean that abomination. Boss wasn’t there to make him do it. I definitely have some rage issues around jerk toileting moves.

      1. JS*

        You are a saint. The only sh*t I would ever pick up is my dogs. A grown man? HELLLL NOPE! I would have told him myself to pick it up.

      2. MissDissplaced*

        Mythbusters did a toilet seat study and found there are more germs and bacteria on your hands, in you mouth and on your cell phone than on a toilet seat. So quit hovering and sit your ass down!

    4. fposte*

      Though then you get into the other problem–people who like to “nest” and who then clog the toilets when they flush the nest. I worked at a building with a nester and that got expensive real fast.

    5. Pollygrammer*

      A dean? And she knew she was peeing on the seat and was angry about being asked not to? What a ridiculous, disgusting woman.

      My mother told me all kinds of nonsense, which, as an adult, I have learned how to ignore. (Love you, Mom).

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yup, my mom didn’t like it when I grew up, learned some thing and then called on some of the nonsense she used to tell me. We laughed about it, as it was all in good fun, but I always made it a point to call her out when I heard the nonsense as an adult. She would always say that that’s what her parents taught her.

      2. Aphrodite*

        Would you believe she actually got angry at me when I told her it was my note. I knew right then she was the guilty party though she didn’t officially admit it. That’s when she told me about the hovering. I know a couple of jobs she got after she left she couldn’t hang onto either. I can’t say I felt sorry for her.

    6. TootsNYC*

      I do NOT understand why people who hover do not lift the seat.

      We expect men to lift the seat when they pee standing up. And they have an external body part they can AIM.

  30. Sweet Summer Child*

    #2 – thank you.

    My company checks references as part of the hiring process. But once you are hired they want to check references with the last place you worked. It’s one of the most ridiculous things I have ever seen in my life.

    In my case I was working on a temporary assignment for a large event. After many issues with this temp role, that the agency I was working through were not dealing with and seeing this event let other temps go early without notice, I decided to start looking for a full time job. I gave two weeks notice when I got one, they waited until I got home to tell me not to return. I had to return to the city to get my personal items and while I did nothing wrong it was very uncomfortable.

    No one at the event or agency got back to my new company. They actually asked me for a pay stub given they could not “confirm my last position” or they would want to know my pay rate to use a website to confirm I worked there… I forgot the name of the site but wanted to have no issues with this new job so I gave them a pay stub. I should have run in the other direction.

    Good luck LW… a bit of a different situation but so absolutely ridiculous to do this after the fact.

  31. essEss*

    OP #2…. this is mostly the fault of your company. Why are you hiring someone BEFORE checking their references? If the recruiter wants that person to be considered for a final offer, then they need to supply you with the references. An offer letter shouldn’t go out until the references are completed. You could tell a candidate that you intend to make them an offer, contingent on checking references. Then both your company AND the candidate can apply pressure to the recruiter to hand over the information.

  32. Is This How We End Up On 20/20?*

    Don’t give notice before your bonus. Unless it’s a contract you have, most places do not extend them or they cut them drastically for exiting employees. The same idea behind if someone started in May, they will get a much smaller if any bonus in July.

    Bonuses being covered in a manual is interesting idea I’ve never seen but can imagine happen. The memos I’ve seen are usually strongly worded about how it’s not a promise and they extend them only when they feel they can.

    You’re going back to school. Give them notice after bonuses. It’s normal practice nobody holds it against you.

  33. Pee Pee Police*

    I (a woman) confronted the pee-pee mess maker in my office. It was also a woman. She said she had a “fear” of public toilets and would “squat” over them so she would mess up the place. I told her fine but she needed to clean up after herself because the rest of us were sick of it. She got mad, and I told her if she didn’t start, I’d tell the whole office who the pee-pee mess maker was…and guess what. It stopped.

    1. Have inadvertently sat in someone else's pee too many times*

      Trying to fathom how someone who is peeing on the seat and making a bodily fluids mess that others have to clean up could get mad at YOU for asking for her to stop. The psychological gymnastics involved in being mad at someone else for your jerk behavior must be Olympics-worthy.

      1. Adlib*

        Yes, but people HATE being called out on being inappropriate so it’s likely misdirected embarrassment. I’ve done the calling out enough that that’s my theory at least.

      2. LBK*

        “I think toilets seats are too dirty to sit on, thus I will ensure that this one is extremely disgusting so no one else will want to sit on it” is quite a mindset.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      I think I really like the ‘so, lift the seat!’ solution.

      I’m not a hoverer – didn’t even know it was a thing until my 30s – and I’ve never heard of this solution until today, but it’s a really good one.

    3. CristinaMariaCalabrese (do the mambo like-a crazy)*

      Did you ever know…that you’re my heeeeeeeero!

  34. JS*

    OP3 –
    I wonder if this is a cultural issue? I know tech companies have had similar issues because in many East-Asian countries people squat over toilets, they don’t sit on them. This had lead to people standing on and squatting on US toilets. To be fair, health wise, squatting is easier on your system/body when defecating. That said regardless people need to wipe up after themselves , flush and leave the bathroom in a similar condition to what they found it in.

    1. Rat in the Sugar*

      Personally I wouldn’t think that was the issue unless someone had come fairly recently from a squat-toilet country; I could be very wrong but I feel like that’s the kind of thing you’d figure out pretty fast.

      However, there are signs you can buy to put up in the bathroom that have little diagrams showing that you should sit on the toilet instead of squatting on the seat, which are designed as guides for those from squat-toilet regions.

      1. JS*

        I mean I don’t think a lot of people in US realize other countries don’t use the bathroom the same way to notice that Foreign Person must be the culprit (also that would be horrible to just assume outright so I would consider it but proceed with caution).

        Yeah Amazon and other companies had to put up those signs in the bathroom which I hear didn 100% solve the issue but helped.

        1. Rat in the Sugar*

          Yeah, it’s true that they could be having a weird miscommunication–OP and other coworkers don’t realize other countries have different toilets and think it’s someone just being messy, and the one coworker who’s from one of those countries doesn’t realize these are sit-down toilets and is confused about why everyone else is fussing so damn much about the state of the bathroom.

          After leaving my earlier comment I thought about it some more and decided this is actually a more likely scenario than I thought–I can remember several stories of people with relatives from countries where the plumbing isn’t sturdy enough to flush TP, and how they had to ask them to flush it instead of putting it in the trashcan even though the relative had visited before. I think when it comes to toilets it’s such a private thing that you just do what you’re used to, and it’s not like there’s someone else right there to point out that you’re doing it wrong in the moment…

          1. Observer*

            I don’t buy it. Even people from squat cultures get that pee all over the place could present a problem. Like the relatives who didn’t flush the TP – they didn’t leave it on the floor – they put it in the trash.

  35. Salted French Fry*

    I feel your pain #3. We recently had an office smoker who was smoking in the ladies’ room every day between 5 and 6pm. It’s gross enough but I’m immunosuppressed and smoke is particularly dangerous to me. Luckily it stopped after a few of us loudly discussed it and mentioned going to HR. It seems your thoughtless coworker has less shame.

    1. shiraz*

      We had a bathroom smoker once too! It turned out to be a member of the cleaning staff, and she cut it out after awhile, but that combination of stale smoke and bathroom smells… blerggghhhhhhh.

  36. MatttheHapple*


    Re-read #4, “The counter offer included A PAY INCREASE (more than the salary I had been offered) and THE CHANCE to transfer into another department of the company that would allow me the progression and growth that I am ultimately looking for, as my current position doesn’t have any scope for growth”

    The LW got the pay increase, but was told they had to apply for the transfer. But they weren’t promised a transfer, they were promised “the chance” of a transfer.

    Does this change your advice?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Given the context of the letter and the OP’s surprise that other candidates will be interviewed, I read that wording as the OP meaning the transfer was an opportunity, not that they were only being offered a chance to interview.

      Certainly if they were clearly told they’d just get to interview for it, that would change the answer. Hopefully the OP will clarify.

      1. OP4*

        Hi! OP4 here,

        The word ‘Chace’ that I have seen commented on a few times was just my summary. After informing my manager of the offer from the NewCompany but prior to the counter offer being offered I was asked to meet with the Department Manager that I would be transferring into to discuss role and expectations, plus bonus opportunities for the future. I was told that the Director would be required to sign off on the offer but that as the role was already in the works that this would be a done deal.

    2. Yorick*

      I don’t know why people keep saying this. “Chance” has more than one definition.

      1. LBK*

        I think that’s the point, though – if that’s the actual wording they used, it’s ambiguous.

      2. UptheDownStaircase*

        Agreed. Did the manager mean “Chance” as – “an option” for employee to transfer, with the timing being in the near future, or elsewise communicated or as “an opportunity that the employee may be selected for”

        Is the “Chance” something the employee makes the (final) decision on acceptance ; or is the “Chance” a situation where the employee is ‘eligible to win’ (a lottery ticket)

  37. CustServGirl*

    Allison is wrong, I’m sorry. For the “pee-er” story, I think it would be important just to tell the HR manager about what you noticed. Not to put the woman on blast, but perhaps The HR manager could re-frame it like “Hey, so-and-so said she used the restroom the other day and passed you in the hall. There was another pee incident- did you encounter a mess at any point that day?”

    NOT saying anything, IMO, ignores the issue and could prolong the problem, which effects everyone’s health safety and comfort levels while at work.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      And if she’s wrong, now the coworker has been told that the OP reported this to HR, which is really not great for adult working relationships.

      1. essEss*

        However, if HR is given a heads up that this is a ‘likely’ perpetrator then they can continue to monitor by checking the bathroom right after she uses it a few times to verify if she is really the person doing it before making any accusations.

        1. Iris Eyes*

          I hear that and it sounds way more icky than urine on the seat. (But I may be desensitized after dealing with brothers) I don’t know that its appropriate for HR to be creeping on people like that just for some urine. Now if someone was smearing feces on the walls that’s a whole different issue and might require such methods.

      2. CustServGirl*

        But it isn’t saying that OP said she did it! It’s in the vain of trying to solve the mystery, essentially, by talking to witnesses. I wouldn’t dare suggest that OP or the HR Manager out-right accuse her or ask if she has a medical condition.

        And if she’s wrong, she’s wrong. A simple “no, wasn’t me/I didn’t see anything” should suffice as the answer (even if it’s believed to be untrue).

        1. voyager1*

          This is one of those times annyonous letter to HR might be warranted.

          I am so glad I have never encountered this in any of my workplaces, if I did I might consider using a Trucker Bomb *sarcasam*

        2. Observer*

          Well, no it wouldn’t suffice. Because people are still going to assume things.

  38. Stephern*

    #3, I’ve actually gone into a single toilet restroom and turned right back around because it was a mess. It’s possible that someone could see me leave, come in behind me, and believe I was the one who did it. So I would be very hesitant to report a suspect unless there was solid, indisputable evidence.

    1. Vodka Quiet*

      I’ve done this too. Sometimes you walk into the restroom and realize no, it’s not worth it, I can hold it.

      Other times, I’ve bit the bullet and cleaned it up myself. The worst was the time I discovered a used tampon from the floor of my company’s restroom. There were only six coworkers there that day who could have been responsible. If someone else came in after me, they would naturally conclude *I* was one of “only six coworkers who could be responsible.”

      So I used toilet paper to pick it up, then scrubbed the floor a bit, washed my hands, and fled back to my desk to text a friend in horror.

  39. DonnaNoble*

    OP3: My grandmother had an adorable cross-stitch in her bathroom that said “if you sprinkle when you tinkle, please be neat and wipe the seat.” Perhaps your office should invest in some “artwork” for said bathrooms….

    1. Rosemary7391*

      Signs without cleaning gear are a bit useless – it was mildly amusing to me when the “how to use a toilet brush” comic appeared in the stall at work without a toilet brush…

      Perhaps this person can’t bend down to clean up? Might a mop help?

  40. HyacinthB*

    LW1 – Someone may have said, but depending on the set up and platform used, the presenter (or whoever “owns” the call) may be able to mute all and unmute lines individually. Worth looking into whether yours does that.

  41. aes_sidhe*

    As far as Pisspot goes, I’d send an anonymous email to HR (new email address and use a VPN) to report it. If nothing else, they could start keeping an eye on the bathroom after Pisspot to see if she really is th culprit with the added bonus of OP not getting caught in the crosshairs with HR blabbing who told.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      OP3: I think you should suggest to HR that they ask people to LIFT THE SEAT if they don’t sit on it.

      The issue is relatively new to me, and I’ve not heard that solution before, but it seems pretty genius to me. I *think*, from the few women I know who don’t sit on seats, that it’s not something they’ve considered doing, and it’s not part of the ‘hover’ training. (I feel so sorry for those women.)

      1. Susan Sto Helit*

        100% agree on feeling sorry for those women. Life is complicated enough without being raised with/developing a conviction that your fellow humans are so disgusting and unsanitary that you have to jump through hoops in this way.

        It’s like those people who’ve taken the idea of ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’ too far and insist they can only feel clean if they’re showering multiple times a day which, environmental concerns aside is…really not a practical way to live.

        The world is never going to be totally clean, but humanity has made it this far somehow nevertheless.

    2. LCL*

      I doubt HR at any company would take on the bathroom monitoring job, no matter how many anonymous notes they received.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        From the question:
        “It’s been a source of frustration in the office and the HR Director has sent emails and posted signs about how to appropriately use a bathroom.”

        HR is already involved. And I’m sure they want to Hey this resolved so they don’t have to be involved any more.

  42. Oatmeal*

    A friend at a previous job was going to quit to go to grad school in September- but she would only get her bonus if she stayed until October 1. She was a field sales rep who would travel solo (on most days) to the sites in her territory. So for a month, she basically just pretended she was doing the work, or did as little work as possible, so she could get through that month, get the bonus, and leave. I have no idea how she managed to do that undetected, but she did. I wouldn’t recommend it, though.

  43. Narise*

    OP #3:
    Wouldn’t the easiest way to identify the culprit be to watch if it happens when people are on vacation? If it stops for a week and then starts happening again I would start with who was absent that week.

  44. Texan Party Gal*

    I work in an office full of men (actually construction trailers on sites. I’m the only female). I put up a sign that said “Those with shorter pistols, please step closer to target.”

    Guess what…the peeing on the floor stopped.

  45. AKchic*

    LW 4 – please continue your job search. Your boss offered you something that s/he probably had no authority to offer you, and now can’t make good on. I had this happen multiple times at my last job. I’d get offered a position elsewhere, and being naïve, I’d share the news with a coworker, who would immediately tell our boss, who would tell upper management, and they would give me nebulous promises of “big and new exciting things coming down the pike” and a piddly 25 cent an hour raise. Once I got a title change to “senior” program assistant and a small raise that actually was somewhat decent, but I still was only bringing home $700/every other week after my insurance and taxes were taken out. 30 years old, married, 4 kids. Yeah, not great. And my job never really changed, I was burnt out, and I was dealing with Negative Nancy (coworker) and Backstabby Gabby (my supervisor).

    I loved what I did, but I was tired of nebulous, broken promises and a company that couldn’t give me what I needed. When an offer dropped into my lap that I hadn’t asked for or was actively looking for, I jumped at it. I was also silent about it. I didn’t tell anyone. What was I leaving the office for? Doctor appointments and other commitments for my kids, volunteer stuff, etc. I had plenty of leave time to use, so they really didn’t care.
    When I was hired, I was told while at work. I didn’t give any indication at my desk of the good news. I told nobody. Instead, I finished my day and planned how I’d draft my resignation letter. I knew I wouldn’t be starting for another few months (new fiscal year). The next day, I spent a little time writing my resignation letter. I turned my notice in on Friday the 13th (a week later) and gave a long notice. They asked if they could match my offer, but they’d have had to triple my salary to match it.

  46. Iris Eyes*

    #3 The most plausible reason for a woman to do this is because they are hovering and it might be related to the non gender specific restroom situation (I can’t quite wrap my brain around why this is such a BIG deal but clearly it is for some people). If there aren’t already sanitary seat cover thingies (of if they are always out of stock) you might look into that as a possible solution. Knowing who the person in question might be could possibly help you determine if this might be a viable option.

  47. Catabodua*

    We do the automatic mute as well.

    A different issue has actually cropped up in that we have a conference system that puts you on screen with each other. So if most people don’t use it you get a bunch of little black boxes and then one person who’s head / face looks disproportional and odd and it’s kind of awful.

  48. Catabodua*

    # 3 I’m curious as to how this is usually resolved. Does the next person clean up? Is it just left there and then everyone avoids one of the bathrooms all day?

  49. Granny K*

    #4: Eeeesh. I’m so sorry this happened to you. If it were me, I’d resume the search, get an offer, probably write a transition plan and leave somewhere and then quit with no notice at 4pm on a Friday.

    But that’s just me.

  50. nora*

    Re: bonuses.

    I left my last job around the same time as another employee. At that job all employees traditionally got a fairly large bonus at the end of the year. The other person was the boss’s pet. I was not. We both gave considerably more notice than required. She got the bonus. I didn’t. I’m still mad about it, even though my new job came with a raise 10 times higher than the bonus. It’s the little things.

  51. LovecraftInDC*

    I have a slightly different opinion on #4, but only because of the way my company operates. If this were my organization, and they were creating a position in a different department in order to meet my career desires, what you’ve described is exactly how it would have to go.

    Getting a position created takes time and justifications and negotiation with HR, even if the budget has already been approved. There’s job descriptions, HR has to research salaries internally and externally, and postings have to be made, even if an internal candidate has been selected. My manager just gave his two weeks, and I am his successor in the successor plan. I’ve met with my grandmanager, who has started talking strategy for both how to fill my current role and how to hand off duties. But HR still has to post the job, have it open for a couple of days, then conduct interviews with anyone who applies and is appropriate.

    So if I were in your position, while I’d be pushing my manager pretty hard for more updates than the vagueness you were given, I would assume things were just working their way through the system.

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