coworker wants a bigger retirement party than we want to fund, really intense job listings, and more

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

1. Coworker wants a bigger retirement send-off than we’re willing to fund

I work for a state government organization, which means we have no budget for anything extra or perks. When people retire, their office generally comes together to do something for them. It’s very usual to have cake and punch in a conference room open to the entire organization. We are a smaller office; there are eight of us working right now. The last person who retired got an engraved vase and a dinner out, which cost about $20 per person. We now have another person retiring (who is not a great coworker and has a very difficulty personality) who wants a lunch out, and a reception in the afternoon, and a gift. When it is up to us to fund our coworkers parties, what is reasonable? How do we manage her expectations when we can’t, or aren’t willing, to do a full-day retirement extravaganza?

It’s not great to treat people significantly differently with stuff like this, even when you’re funding it yourselves. If you know you won’t want to do a big hurrah for everyone, that’s an argument for keeping it relatively low-key for everyone. Sometimes people think “but if we’re funding it ourselves, why shouldn’t we be able to do something fancy for the good coworker and something smaller for the difficult coworker?” But this is work, and it’s unkind to do that, even if theoretically you have the right to.

Luckily, it sounds like that fancier retirement send-off was an aberration, and your usual mode is cake and punch. I think you can lean on that with this latest retiree. Say something like, “We realized after Jane’s send-off that we couldn’t sustain that because of the cost per person, and that the money involved meant people really wanted to stick to our traditional cake and punch like we’d always done before. Will you let Bob know what kind of cake you’d like to have, or if there’s another dessert you’d prefer?”

(But then you really do need to stick to cake and punch for future retirees, too, to keep it relatively consistent. That’s not to say, though, that people’s close work friends can’t take them out to lunch too, but that would something they do on their own, not the official send-off.)

2. What’s up with really intense job listings?

I’m job searching at the moment and have come across more than a handful of listings that are rather aggressive in tone. For example, they say things along the lines of, “Be prepared to work harder AND smarter than anyone else to get this position” or “This will be the hardest job you’ll ever have” or “You absolutely MUST have a lot of grit and a willingness to do WHATEVER is needed” (caps and all). I’m switching fields, so I’m not sure if this normal. These positions are all full-time in-office marketing positions and I’m unsure as to why the listings are so intense.

I consider myself to be a hard worker, but this kind of language leads me to believe that they’re one of those places where everyone is expected to be incredibly competitive and work themselves to death and … I’m just not interested in that environment. I’ve talked to some friends currently in the industry and they’ve got mixed opinions. Some agree with me and think I should continue to rule them out and others say I’m being too sensitive. I’d love any thoughts or insights!

Yeah, it’s fair to assume that a company that uses decidedly not-neutral language in their job postings is doing it because they want to create a certain image / attract a certain audience. And it’s reasonable for you to take what they’re saying about themselves at face value, and be turned off by it.

Since you’re switching fields, it might be interesting to interview for one or two of these positions so that you can check or confirm your assumptions. But you’re not alone in being turned off by this kind of language.

3. I’m still working at the job that fired me

I’ve worked for a company for seven years, and they recently let me know that I didn’t have a future there. Rather than firing me, they told me to resign. (I’m still eligible for unemployment, since it’s known that’s how my company fires people.) What puzzles me is that the company told me to resign within three months.

On the one hand, this seems generous since it gives me a chance to continue to receive a paycheck while I search for a new job and try to learn skills that will make me employable at other companies. On the other hand, it is exhausting to do an intense job search on top of a 40-hour work week, and it has been very difficult emotionally to continue to come to work everyday for a company that already fired me. I offered to help train my replacement to ensure a smooth transition, but my manager told me that wouldn’t take long and we could do that in the last week (ouch).

In the meantime, I’m in a weird limbo. I’m expected to continue meeting weekly with the manager who fired me to receive assignments, attend meetings about things the company will do in the future and welcome new team members. On the other hand, my manager can’t assign me large projects (since I won’t be there to complete them) or time-sensitive tasks (since I’ve been taking off so many half-days for interviews). Also, it’s not a good idea to assign me anything important, since in my job losing track of details or putting in less than maximum effort will affect safety, and I’m currently pretty distracted and unmotivated. (My team has cautionary tales about previously-reliable workers who did the bare minimum during their last months and caused huge problems.) I don’t even have the incentive to continue working to receive a good referral, since by company policy all my manager can do is confirm the dates I worked.

What’s your opinion on “delayed firings” like this? I appreciate the salary, but it seems like giving me a severance instead would have put me under a lot less stress and protected the company from risk.

It depends. Sometimes this can benefit both employee and employer. It can be a reasonable way to go if the person just isn’t the right fit for the job but isn’t terrible, and if they’re trustworthy enough that they’re not going to deliberately sabotage things on their way out, and if they’re mature enough that they’re not going to make those final weeks toxic for people around them. The advantage to the employer is that they get more time to transition the work and search for a replacement while the work is still being covered, and the advantage to the employee is that they have time to job search, can say they’re still employed, and often receive more in salary than they would have in severance. And when both parties are open to it, it can be a pretty fair and transparent way to handle it — saying, essentially, “let’s recognize this isn’t working out and set an ending date, but things aren’t so bad that you need to leave immediately, and as long as you keep up with the basics of the job, we’ll give you time to job search and accommodate you in going to interviews.”

But a lot of the time it plays out the way your situation is — with the employee feeling so demoralized and disengaged that it negates the benefits. So it really depends on the specific details of the situation.

Read an update to this letter here

4. My coworker is angry that I poached someone from her team

I’m new to management and want to know the best practice for recruiting staff on other teams. I had an opening on my team and before the job posted, my boss suggested I ask someone on another team to apply. When she did so, she closed her door and indicated that this could get awkward with his current supervisor (who also reports to my boss). I had limited interactions with this employee but knew he had some valuable skills and seemed to have a great work ethic, so I did approach him. We had to change the job posting to make it possible for him to apply, which my boss signed off on.

It was not until he was the final candidate that my boss told us that the employee would have to let his current supervisor know what was happening. This seemed reasonable. Once he had accepted the offer, I tried to work out a transition plan (offering a full month to make him available for training the new person) but was met with hostility. This was not a surprise because the supervisor is not known for being a nice person. What was unexpected is in our recent supervisor meeting, several of the other managers lashed out at me and told me that I had poached the employee. They demanded that moving forward, if someone was interested in another employee, we should reach out to the supervisor and let them know. My boss not only agreed this sounded like a good idea but failed to own up to her part. (I later had a very good discussion with her and she genuinely forgot that she had suggested him. She has agreed to have a meeting to make this known.)

Please weigh in on this. Was I out of line to not reach out to the supervisor before I approached the employee?

Nope. Different companies have different policies and practices on this. Some do require the current manager to be in the loop from very early on, and others only require a heads-up once things progress to a particular stage (generally because letting your boss know you’re thinking of leaving your job can have repercussions). But you were following your boss’s lead on this.

It’s true that when you’re a manager, learning that someone else who’s on the management team with you has been trying to lure away one of your people can be frustrating (because of the impact it can have on your team’s work and the increased work it can cause you in having to find and train a new person, who may not be as good as the first person) — but sensible managers understand that they’re not feudal lords and their employees are free agents, and that it’s better to keep someone really good within the company than to lose them to an outside employer (which is what will happen if managers block internal transfers).

Your boss definitely needs to get people better aligned on how she wants them to approach this kind of thing.

5. Employer is legally obligated to disclose their salary range — but won’t

In California, a recent law requires companies to inform job candidates of the salary range of that position upon “reasonable request.” I’m interviewing for a position at a California-based company. The manager I interviewed with refused to give me the salary range. The internal recruiter I spoke to similarly refused. I would think saying something like, “by the way, you’re legally obligated to give me that information” would not endear me to the manager. What are my good options here, if any?

Yeah, the key is to note that the law requires it without sounding adversarial. I’d say it like this: “Oh, I’m not sure if you know that California now requires the salary range to be disclosed!” Say it in an upbeat and cheerful way, like you’re assuming they don’t know and that they’ll appreciate being tipped off. If they have a problem with you politely mentioning a legal requirement, that is a huge red flag about them as an employer.

{ 340 comments… read them below }

  1. Jessica Fletcher*

    “Marketing” jobs with those kinds of descriptions aren’t with reputable companies, from my experience. I had a few interviews at places like that when I was just out of school and thinking I wanted to work in that field. The companies would change their names a lot and generally seemed untrustworthy at the interviews. If you Google them, you’ll probably find they’re scams. The “marketing” is something like putting flyers on cars, and that’s all you do.

    1. Wastre*

      Yeah, I was thinking that OP is trying to go into marketing even before I saw that that’s their field mentioned. Most (actually all) of the ads with language like this are either door to door selling or some other type of “direct” marketing. If they ask you whether you know the difference between direct and indirect marketing at the interview, you can be sure that the “marketing” work you’d be doing for them consists of harassing people to buy a useless product.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        Having naively walked into a door to door job when I was about 19 and then decided to give it a go since I was skint (ps. I sucked at it and ended up giving up after a couple months) I agree with these comments. I also found they tended to advertise for people who like “sport” (ie. Walking a lot from door to door) and “healthy living” (walking) and “socialising” (harassing people for sign ups) and frequently called their positions “graduate jobs”

        1. Wastre*

          Oh yes, I’ve seen the “sports minded” language, too. It’s not always there though. They have many different types of “jobs”.

          Even after getting burned with some of them and learning how to recognize the most obvious scams, I got fooled once and went to an interview because the ad mentioned that few programming languages (!!) as a requirement and it sounded legit. Then it turned out the interview was at the exact same office I had had an interview with one of the those scammer a few months prior and of course, the job was door-to-door sales. Of course, no programming languages are ever needed. As soon as I heard the “What’s the difference between direct marketing and indirect marketing?” question I asked them if they had something to do with the other company I had interviewed with and if the job involves door-to-door sales. They reluctantly said yes and then I told them I was no longer interested and I walked out. Of course, I left them bad reviews everywhere I could as well. OP, don’t even bother interviewing and if you get sucked into an interview that doesn’t seem right, don’t be afraid to walk out.

          1. Widsith*

            Many years ago I applied for an “entry-level computer operations” job. When I went to the interview it turned out they were looking for someone to drive a delivery truck! I asked what that had to do with computers and they said, “Well, you probably could learn a little bit about the computer when you pick up and drop off deliveries because they use computers to track shipments.” Watching someone print out bills-of-lading didn’t sound like much of an educational opportunity so I told them I wasn’t interested.

      2. alice*

        I learned this the hard way when looking for a summer marketing job in college. I was completely naïve through the entire process of interviewing (one phone screen, two in-person interviews). I didn’t get a job description, and I didn’t ask for one. Got to the first day of work, was told that I’d be travelling with two other employees to another office, and it turned out to be door-to-door selling. I was in heels and walked around for two hours with them before I got the courage to bow out.

        1. Susan K*

          When I was in college, these companies would advertise that they were hiring summer interns. My university maintained listings for internships in various majors, and these companies put themselves on the list of companies hiring engineering majors. Little did I know — since I wasn’t looking at the lists for the other majors — that they were also putting themselves on this list for hiring accounting majors, and elementary education majors, and anthropology majors, etc. I was fooled more than once into attending information sessions that I thought were about engineering internships, only to find out they were for college painters or door-to-door knife sales.

          1. Wastre*

            Oh yes! One way to screen them out is when they ask you what you’re looking for in a job and you say “hourly rate” then they will say that they don’t offer that.

    2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Yep, definitely sounds like a MLM/pyramid scheme to me. I’ve been spending a lot of time on the antimlm subreddit lately, and now that I know what to look for I like to play a game of finding MLM recruiting ads on craigslist sprinkled in among the legit job ads. A lot of “marketing” or “management trainee” positions are really for scams like Cucto, Amway, Primerica, etc.

    3. Marcy Marketer*

      I’ve worked at a company who would have written that as their job description. They were a “start up” and while I learned A TON, it definitely wasn’t a great place to work! They were looking for someone who would care about the business as much as the owner, which meant that if something didn’t go right for the customer, like a delivery was late, I’d get into my car and get it done.

      My role was marketing and I managed the website, vendors, print, and event marketing and I had very minimal experience, so it was a lot of Googling and doing “whatever it takes” to get stuff done. I would design the fliers, write the copy, get them printed, and then pass them out. Same goes for the events— plan and secure the events, set up the booth, and man it. Design the goodie bags and then assemble them! So yeah there was some pavement pounding and other low skill work, but also some high level work that allowed me to get a lot of experience I otherwise might have struggled to get in such a short time frame. Ultimately, though, I prefer working in a corporate environment where duties are more defined and spread out.

      1. KHB*

        “They were looking for someone who would care about the business as much as the owner”

        Let me guess: You weren’t going to stand to gain nearly as much as the owner from the business’s success.

        1. Marcy Marketer*

          No, I didn’t have stock or anything. But I think it was more of the idea of being personally responsible for a customer’s experience. Like if something goes wrong, working at it until it goes right, not giving up or shrugging it off. I personally like jobs with that expectation, a sense of urgency, because it makes me feel like I’m making a difference. But it’s not for everyone.

        1. Marcy Marketer*

          No, in my situation, it meant sometimes accepting that “done is better than perfect.” Or getting creative sometimes. Or purchasing some training. If I said “I don’t know how to do this,” then I’d be asked “what do you need to get this done? Training? Contractor resources? Okay go vet someone and get quotes. Come to me with a number.” While I have as much disdain as most people for ridiculous job postings like the one in the letter, I’m also saying that they’re not all MCM schemes and sometimes they are looking for a candidate with a particular solution-focused attitude.

    4. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      The bad thing about companies like this(besides the obvious) is they put a bad taste in people’s mouths for legit companies. There are actual door to door sales jobs for reputable companies that don’t advertise in this way and are upfront about what the job is. You can actually make a lot of money in these jobs and they don’t require you to buy the products yourself or any of that MLM stuff and understand that door to door isn’t for everyone.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, both times I’ve worked for a governmental employer, if someone wants a more elaborate celebration (for whatever event—milestone anniversaries, retirement, birthdays), they foot the bill for the difference. I’d be inclined to let your Difficult Coworker know you’d be happy to do the bigger shindig, but DC will have to pay for it. If DC is as unpleasant/difficult as suggested, I suspect they’ll torpedo their own event before they’ll shell out money for it.

    1. Myrin*

      I’m glad to read your “if someone wants…”, because that’s exactly something I wanted to ask about: how is that “want” expressed? Because to me, while I agree with Alison’s advice, it seems incredibly tacky to basically demand “a lunch out, and a reception in the afternoon, and a gift” for one’s own retirement, which is how I read the OP. But I assume there’s a more innocuous version – do people get routinely asked about how they want that stuff handled? Like “now that you’re retiring soon, what would you like to see for an appropriate farewell party?”. Or is that really something – like how I interpreted the letter – an employee has to actively bring up?

        1. Pollygrammer*

          Yeah, this is in really poor taste. I’m guessing she figures she’s never going to see her coworkers again, she might as well try to milk them shamelessly.

          1. Former Retail Manager*

            YES! We just had a mediocre employee retire after only a short time in this office. We’re also a Govt agency we all had to come together as a group and foot the bill. The employee was absolutely shameless in their list of demands…..specific cake made by a specific bakery, lunch at a restaurant that was an hour’s drive round trip and required attendees to either take leave or come in early/stay late, and requests for specific gifts from specific employees. I can say almost without a doubt that none of us will ever see this employee again so they thought “why not milk it for all its worth.” I’ve had people strongly “hint” at gifts they want, and I’m okay with that, but I’ve never seen this level of demanding. People still amaze me sometimes.

            1. Gazebo Slayer*

              After that, I wouldn’t blame you if you said “You know what, forget it. You’ve convinced us not to spend any money on your party.”

      1. PB*

        My previous employer asked what I’d like for a going-away party. I asked for cake and coffee, since that’s inexpensive and pretty much everyone likes it. Some people might prefer lunch out with their department. Some will prefer nothing. In my experience, most of the time, asking leads to a good party. Most people make a reasonable request, and it ensures they get a party they’ll enjoy. This case, however, is the exception. As WellRed notes, there’s no way to politely tell your coworkers to give you a gift.

        1. Lance*

          Being asked what you want is definitely one thing; from how this reads, though, I’m not sure whether the coworker was asked, or if they just flat out stated (possibly with their retirement announcement) that they wanted these things.

      2. Sam.*

        I was wondering about this. I recently left a job (still decades away from retirement, sadly) and my boss asked me what I wanted to do to mark my leaving and then ignored what I said (which was basically, “have people sign a card for me”) and did a lunch with a smallish group of people I selected, a reception, and a gift. The thought was nice, but it was way over the top, and I can’t imagine asking for all of that!

        1. Kat in VA*

          I was a temp filling in for maternity leave at my last job. I was there a whole of three months, give or take. I got dropped in fast and hustled my butt to keep up (preens a little).

          They bought Thai food for me and cupcakes as a going away party. So over the top. I was surprised they were even doing it at all. I mean, c’mon, it was a *temp* position.

          Does it go without saying that I absolutely loved that job, and my boss, and my coworkers? I’m only hoping the two companies I’m on tenterhooks between right now are half as good.

          1. AKchic*

            A long time ago, I was a temp at a prison. I was pregnant and when the other ladies in admin found out that I’d never had a baby shower for my previous two kids, my going-away party became a baby shower. It was very sweet of them, and we’d all been hoping that I would take over the mailroom position, but other things happened and it was better that I didn’t considering my personal life at the time.

          2. Butch Cassidy*

            I didn’t get a going-away party or anything for the time I temped at a consulting firm for a month, but everyone was still so sweet to me and sad to see me go. Multiple people tried to help me get a permanent position at the company (didn’t work out due to an anti-poaching agreement in my contract) and they bought me flowers.

          3. Nicelutherangirl*

            Thai food and cupcakes doesn’t sound over the top to me! It sounds like you did a great job in a short time, they appreciated your work and liked you, and your going away gave your co-workers an excuse to have a party (in order to thank you and wish you well, NOT because they were happy to see you go!). Win-win all around!

            1. Duffman*

              That reminds me. At Old Job, we had a “She’s Gone!” party after difficult coworker left.

      3. Persimmons*

        Agreed, I was taken aback that the retiree had expressed specific demands that included a gift. I wonder if the retiree also demanded wedding or baby showers in his/her younger years.

        I can imagine a few ways to request a retirement gift that aren’t tacky (“Oh, I’d love something like what you did for Bob.” or “I’ve always wanted one of those engraved thermoses that marketing gives to VIP clients.”) but OP rattled off a list of demands, so it doesn’t sound like it went down that way.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          I was thinking that the company-specific swag is the most likely/least tacky way that a gift request could have come up. My agency does a lot of signage in the course of business, so sometimes they custom-make something for a high-level retiree, along the lines of a street sign with your name on it when you’re retiring from a public works department. I could see someone mentioning that they’d really like one of those.

      4. The Other Dawn*

        That’s exactly what I was thinking. I’ve never heard of someone saying they want X, Y and Z for any event celebrated at work. If the person was asked, that’s a little different, but I think anything beyond “Yes, I’d love a party/cake/punch/whatever” or “No, I’ll just say goodbye to everyone at my leisure, no party is necessary” is weird.

      5. Massmatt*

        Well yes, asking for a gift (especially at work) is tacky, but really isn’t everything this coworker is expecting exactly what the LW described was done for the last retiree from that office? It sounds like the low-key cake and punch thing is usual for other offices but wasn’t done there.

        It’s understandable that a small office would not have a policy about retirement parties, but this is a danger of doing these things ad hoc. People who are well liked or with a big office network, or high up in the hierarchy (or just pushy!), will get more elaborate send-offs, and those without these advantages will not. You can either do the same thing for everybody or risk hurt feelings.

        1. Myrin*

          but really isn’t everything this coworker is expecting exactly what the LW described was done for the last retiree from that office?

          I don’t think it is, actually! We could equate the dinner (last person) and the lunch (current person), as well as the vase (last person) and the gift (current person), but that still leaves an extra reception for the current person, so that alone would already make it more. But I think it’s also the… distribution (?) throughout the day which makes this seem like much more – the OP is calling the coworker’s wishes “a full-day retirement extravaganza”, after all (although it’s probably more like a half-day or so).

          But all of that side, the problem here does indeed seem to lie in having left the usual course for the last retiring coworker, for just the reason Alison describes. I think this might actually be a good learning opportunity for OP’s office.

      6. Lucille2*

        This was my reaction too. Who actually requests what kind of farewell party they get? I’ve contributed to retirement and baby shower gifts, but I don’t recall the receiver ever giving instruction about what they want. The responsibility for farewell parties/gifts whether it’s for retirement or just moving on, should always fall on the staff who decides to gift, never the receiver. Although, I have been the coordinator for such things, and there are times when people give generously for some and the budget is pretty tight for others. I guess the proper solution is to budget the amount per person, but I’m not sure it’s truly optional at that point.

      7. Genny*

        I think you have some leeway to politely (and quietly) make it know that you prefer chocolate over vanilla or a team lunch over an office-wide party. I think it’s also okay to, say invite outside contacts to the office party, but let it be known you’ll chip in for that. I don’t think it’s ever okay to start dictating what kind of gift you want.

      8. HR here*

        Government is different. People talk about their retirement date for years. This is still tacky, but definitely seems to be the culture.

    2. Cambridge Comma*

      I work for a taxpayer funded organization with similar rules. It’s the culture here that each person pays for their own party. That way they get exactly what they want, people aren’t chipping in for things every few months, and it’s understood that they get to set the guest list they want — in general, introverts or people who’ve been unhappy at work tend to go for their immediate group only, while extroverts and/or those leaving on a high have hired function rooms and had big events. For sure it’s not a transition that can be made before OP’s co-irker retires, but it might be worth considering for the future.

        1. anonnym*

          that’s a phrase as old as the internet. i remember forwarded jokes in the early days of AOL about “co-irkers”!

    3. Not Australian*

      Funnily enough I’ve encountered the opposite. When my other half was leaving a particular post he wanted to do so in a low-key way without fuss, yet his bosses bullied him into have a presentation “because people expect it”. It’s an interesting question whether the ceremonial part of leaving a job is actually intended for the benefit of the leaver, or for those being left behind.

      1. Sam.*

        I just commented above that my former boss insisted on a lot of fanfare that I wasn’t comfortable with. When I protested, he explicitly told me that I didn’t have a choice because he was doing it as much for everyone else as for me, because “it’s good for morale to see a good, hard-working colleague recognized.” I told him that I was pretty sure it would be better for morale if management just recognized people’s hard work as it happened rather than waiting until they’re leaving, which he luckily found amusing rather than insubordinate.

      2. DQ*

        Someone on one of my teams was retiring and told their manager that they absolutely did not want a party or any type of fuss, which was outside of our cultural norms (catered party, gift, etc.). His manager (who reports to me) and I agreed to honor that. I got an earful later from my grand-boss (C level) because “people wanted a chance to say goodbye”. I took the stance that if the party was meant to honor someone, then we should defer to their preferences for how they want to be honored. Funny, since that happened, there have been a couple of other retirements and they all made similar requests. I wonder if this is a shift in attitude or maybe no one really ever wanted the party….?

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I got an earful later from my grand-boss (C level) because “people wanted a chance to say goodbye”.

          So you worked at a place without email? Or phones? Or… doors? How frustrating that must have been.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            For some reason I’m now picturing the individual working alone on a desert island. “But boating over to say goodbye is just too difficult!”

        2. Former Retail Manager*

          I think whether or not they want the party depends on their personality. I have a co-worker who could retire any day. He is absolutely refusing any sort of event, no matter how small and our boss has agreed to honor that. However, he does want to get together with the handful of us that he’s closest with and do a happy hour or barbecue at his house. For him, I think it’s more about not wanting to be fake nice to a bunch of people that you really don’t have substantial rapport with or who you know could care less about you and are just there for the free refreshments.

      3. AnotherAlison*

        Then you also have people like my dad. . .

        His job offers a big celebration when you achieve a particular production milestone (something that typically takes ~20 yrs to achieve). He was set to achieve it last summer, and allegedly he told his management that he didn’t want any fuss. Yet, he told my mom that she should come down to his work for the party. I told my mom I would go with her, because I felt I should, and then there was no party. My dad is a terrible communicator.

        I wonder if people get bullied into parties because management can’t tell the difference between the “Oh, no need to go to all that trouble for little old me” people and the “Seriously, no effing party” people.

      4. Pollygrammer*

        I think lots of companies do see it as a morale boost for everyone–like, stay at this job for 40 years and you too can have a piece of engraved crystal crap to gather dust in a box somewhere!

        1. Zennish*

          Unless you’re in public service. We can usually only afford engraved acrylic crap.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            hahaha! My office is too cheap for acrylic! We’ve taken to handing out ugly wood things with our logo burned into them. Hideous. (also public sector)

            1. JustaTech*

              At least they’re biodegradeable? Or you could burn it for warmth in a terrible snowstorm?

              The last time my company got bought everyone got these little clear plastic “awards” saying we were here on “day one”. Not crystal, not lexan, not even acrylic. Just cheap light plastic. Not even heavy enough for a paperweight.

          2. tink*

            If you make it to 50 years where I’m at (also public service), you get a fancy (good quality) tote bag and a plaque. Then again, you’ve basically dedicated your life to the place at that point, so you definitely deserve some sort of recognition.

          3. Decima Dewey*

            I got an engraved acrylic piece of crap for my 10th, my 20th and 25th years with my library system. At least the latest one doesn’t have the obsolete logo on it.

            1. roisin54*

              At my library, you get a chair for your 25th anniversary. Granted, it’s a really nice wooden Windsor chair with your name engraved on it, but still. A chair. Fortunately, they don’t present the chair at the actual ceremony (they send it to your house later.) They do one ceremony every year for everyone who got to 25 or 50 years that year. For your 50th, you get a plaque. There’s not a lot of those.

        2. Persimmons*

          Don’t forget watches. Because the moment you’re no longer a slave to the clock is exactly when people should be gifting you timepieces.

    4. AnotherAlison*

      The only thing I’m wondering about is that the office only has 8 employees. How many of them are retiring soon? Is this really going to be a huge problem in the next few years?

      It seems like the last retirement was more elaborate than usual, and if it was recent, it doesn’t seem like the current retiree is being audacious in their request. Also, it sounds like the backlash is really due to people not loving this coworker, rather than the request being over the top.

      I would lean towards doing what the coworker wants this time and then setting a standard policy for future retirement parties (if there are any that will be soon).

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        It seems like the last retirement was more elaborate than usual, and if it was recent, it doesn’t seem like the current retiree is being audacious in their request.

        But she *is* asking for more than the previous retiree received. A meal, a reception, and a gift, while the other person only got a meal and a gift.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          I’m debating that based on lack of detail. : )

          Perhaps all 8 people in the department went to dinner and chipped in on the gift. Maybe NewRetiree wants to be taken to lunch by 1-2 people, have a cake reception with the others, and the gift. Either way, the department can say no to one of those based on it being more than what FirstRetiree got. I just don’t think it would be right to knock the very next retiree back down to a crappy cake in the breakroom, unless there was a big difference in position or tenure. (I think most people would understand why FirstRetiree the executive VP who spent a career there gets a fancier send-off than NewRetiree the transfer who has been there for 2 years, and it would be easy to explain that FirstRetiree’s party wasn’t the norm, but I didn’t see that there was a big difference in roles — just that people don’t like the NewRetiree.)

          1. Pollygrammer*

            The LW sums the coworker’s “request” as a “full-day retirement extravaganza.” I’m sure that means that she’s asking for way more than the lunch and gift that the old coworker got. And maybe it might sting a little to get less value than the ~$20 per person that was spent on the old coworker, but…does it really matter? The selfish demand alone (remember, this isn’t the company offering something, it comes out of everybody’s pockets) would be reason enough for me to feel no guilt whatsoever saying Cake-Juice-Bye.

          2. OP #1*

            We’ve been told to anticipate 100 people for the afternoon reception. Coworker reserved the room for herself from 12:30 – 4:30 in the afternoon. So if we reserve 1-2 hrs for lunch, it’s all day.

            Old retiree had a very visible position across the state and actually was given the vase when she was being given a lifetime achievement award from one of our partnering organizations. But she had a difficult personality to work with, as well. State government tends to collect the dysfunctional…

            1. AnotherAlison*

              Ok, mind changed. Your coworker is ridiculous. If you want to invite everyone you’ve ever worked within the organization, then have your own party at your house. It would be different if the organization was footing the bill, but 8 people shouldn’t have to fund a reception for 100 people.

              1. doreen*

                My state agency tends to have big, expensive, retirement parties ( at night, at a catering venue, minimum of $60 per person) – but every attendee pays their own way. Nobody expects the 8 or 10 or 20 coworkers in the same unit to foot the whole bill. The immediate coworkers aren’t even always the people planning the party.

    5. BuffaLove*

      Yes, this. We have an unwritten rule at my state agency that retirees get a party that ends up costing each attendee $20-25 between food and the gift. If they want anything above and beyond that, they pay for it themselves. It’s fairly common for retirees to bring in a boatload of food and host their own reception in a conference room either in addition to or instead of an actual party, depending on how much attention they want.

      The key is to treat people consistently. Giving one person a dinner out and a fancy gift when everyone else has gotten cake and punch sets a bit of a bad precedent, although this coworker could also stand to learn a lesson in humility.

    6. A tester, not a developer*

      I think it’s also perfectly reasonable to say something like “Of course we’ll get you a gift, but we can either have a lunch out OR a reception. Which would you prefer?”

      1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        Sheet cake from Costco. I tried one for the first time at our last work birthday and it was great. This year we are trying a new policy, everyone gets exactly the same thing for milestone events. A cake in the cafeteria and a card. Apparently bad feelings happened when someone got A+ treatment and the next person got B-.

    7. Chatterby*

      It really depends on what she means by “reception”, but her request seemed doable on the same budget to me, with the added bonus of no one needing to spend their evening with coworkers.
      Lunch is cheaper in general than dinner, so the amount saved there could go towards a cake and some punch in a break room as the “reception”. It’s her very last day, so she either has nothing to do, or everything. If it’s nothing, having her out of the way, sitting in her reception, handing out cake slices to anyone who stops in during their break isn’t that big of a sacrifice.
      So instead of the $20 a person being split $15-18 for dinner, $2-5 for the gift, it’d be closer to $10-12 lunch, $2-5 gift, $8-3 cake and soda.
      A giant Costco cake runs about $30 and 2 liter sodas $1-2 each, so her reception wouldn’t be very expensive. Provide her with 3 or so lunch options that fit the budget to choose from so she doesn’t request an exceptionally fancy (read, expensive) one that will take forever.
      She might also go for the idea of combining the lunch and reception by having lunch catered to the office.

      1. Chatterby*

        I think this is more of a case of “We spent $20 a person on the last retiree because we like them, but we don’t like her, so how do we get her to accept cake in a break room because we don’t want to spend as much?” or even “We made the mistake of spending more than we should on the last person; how do we bring it back down when the next one now expects the same thing? We don’t want this to be the new precedent.” instead of a case of “She demanded the Four Seasons, a circus, and a gold watch.”

      2. Ali G*

        I was thinking something similar. OP says the last retirement turned out to be about $20 per person. So 20*8=$400 – that’s more than enough for a nice catered lunch, and then some cakes and snacks available for the rest of the day, along with a small gift.
        I’m getting the feeling that since the OP felt the need to point out that this person is “difficult” that people are generally less enthused about spending $20 on this person versus the other retiree. But that’s not fair, and you can’t pick and choose who gets “better parties.”
        OP can just tell the co-worker that based on past budgets, we have $X to spend and this is what we can and can’t do.

        1. Anon from the Bronx*

          $20 × 8 people is only $160, not $400. So a much smaller budget for lunch, gift & cake & soda reception.

        2. OP #1*

          I pointed out she was difficult because it makes it a little more complicated to evaluate whether she’s making a reasonable request or whether this is her being difficult/us being irritated.
          First coworker to retire was also difficult to work with, but the retirement planning was fairly simple.

  3. Gatomon*

    #4 I’m kinda surprised the employee didn’t let their manager know they were applying for an internal posting. I thought it was generally a good idea to let your boss know in case they were asked about the applications so they weren’t blindsided if they were asked about your work. I get the fear of not wanting to alert management that you’re job hunting, but I always figured you couldn’t really expect confidentiality with an internal candidacy.

    Either way, I do think it would have been better to talk to the other manager before approaching their employee. Chalk it up to a lesson learned, and hopefully it blows over soon.

    1. Just Employed Here*

      Also, it doesn’t seem like the candidate in question was really job hunting: they were asked to apply for an internal transfer by the possible future manager. That shouldn’t read as “job hunting” to most current managers.

        1. Life is good*

          Looks that way to me, too. At the very least, it is good practice to give the other manager a heads up that their employee is interested in applying. This seems underhanded. No wonder the other supervisor is cranky if this sort of thing is going on.

          1. Easily Amused*

            But even if she let the other manager know, wouldn’t it still be poaching? I certainly hope that the current manager doesn’t get to say “no, you can’t have my employee” because that limits the employee’s earning potential. I can understand giving the manager a heads up so they can prepare to hire a replacement but doesn’t that only make sense once the employee takes the position (OP stated that they were giving a month transition period)? Sounds to me like difficult current manager would be upset either way and it could put the employee in an awkward position going forward if she wasn’t ultimately selected or turns it down.

            1. Luna*

              Yeah I’m not sure what the point is of telling current manager- they definitely should not get the right to refuse the employee a better opportunity. And in this case since the employee was asked to apply by grandboss, it seems like the grandboss should have been the one to smooth things over with the current manager, not the employee.

              1. EddieSherbert*


                I think the miscommunication here completely falls on grandboss here for not articulating how she wanted this interview/recommendation/etc process to go.

                OP could have asked a few more questions to get the ball rolling with grandboss – but I can see how that might not happen with a new manager (now you know!) :)

                But again, since grandboss IS a grandboss…. they’re probably not a new manager and should know this stuff.

            2. A Non E. Mouse*

              But even if she let the other manager know, wouldn’t it still be poaching? I certainly hope that the current manager doesn’t get to say “no, you can’t have my employee” because that limits the employee’s earning potential.

              This is definitely the flip side of “tell the current supervisor” – in our company it’s expected that you will ask the manager about it at around the same time you are talking to the employee….and manager’s *can* refuse to allow the move.

              We’ve had people leave the company over this, and it’s still in place.

              So I can see both sides – courtesy to tell the current manager, but definite downsides to the employee.

              1. Antilles*

                in our company it’s expected that you will ask the manager about it at around the same time you are talking to the employee….and manager’s *can* refuse to allow the move.
                We’ve had people leave the company over this, and it’s still in place.

                It always amazes me that companies have this policy, because there’s a very simple and blindingly obvious chain of events:
                1.) If you’re working in a large organization, moving up within your own group usually requires your immediate manager to move up or leave the company, since you’d be taking his vacant chair.
                2.) However, if he isn’t leaving his position any time soon, your only option is to accept a transfer/promotion into a different group.
                3.) If he is allowed to block that, you have literally no means to advance within the company.
                4.) Therefore, if you still want to advance your career, you have no choice but to leave the company.
                So ironically, the fact managers are allowed to block transfers actually just increases the odds that “too valuable to lose” employees leave the company entirely!

                1. Cassie the First*

                  I totally agree. The general idea for the company is to keep great employees within the company. If there is no room for advancement (as you stated), and/or if managers can actively block moves, I definitely would not want to stay there.

        2. PieInTheBlueSky*

          I don’t think that counts as poaching because OP4 was doing it at the direction of her own boss, who is also the boss of the other manager. OP4’s boss failed here in not giving clear direction to the other manager that this was her idea.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            Yeah, boss didn’t just casually throw out this employees name–they pulled OP into a closed door meeting to discuss the fact that the other supervisor was not likely to be happy about this. I find it hard to believe that the boss honestly “forgot” about that in the meeting. If I were OP I would be really upset about the way the boss handled this.

            1. EddieSherbert*

              I also found that weird. Grandboss made a whole production about telling OP this employee would be good a fit, changing the job description to fit the employee, AND letting OP know the other manager is likely to throw a fit…. and then just “forgot” about all that?

              I’d be skeptical, to say the least!

        3. Bananas*

          I’m the person that wrote #4. I can honestly say that it did not occur to me to inform the supervisor that I was going to approach the employee as I was following my bosses lead. There is a history here of employees being isolated and work being taken away when they’ve given notice. This did, in fact happen, with the employee. As soon as notice was given the supervisor stopped talking to the employee and instead of a real transition happening work was just taken away.
          As a follow-up to my letter, I had a conversation with my boss where I reminded her that this had been her idea and how she had acted when she made the suggestion. It really did seem like she had forgotten. She agreed to have a small meeting with those maangers who were upset to set the record straight. However, when I asked her about the plan the next day she told me she had told the main supervisor already and she would tell the whole group at our next meeting, which is several weeks away. Needless to say, I’m not happy with this.

        4. Schnoopy*

          Sounds that way to me too. I think it also depends on the hiring process at the company. My manager had two employees poached by another manager and was not able to backfill the positions because of a freeze on hiring externally. Our team was really left in the lurch for a long time.

      1. Gyratory Circus*

        At my employer (one of the major health insurance companies with tens of thousands of employees) you only have to tell your boss about applying for internal jobs if you’re called for an interview. Anything more than that is seen as premature and can put you in a needlessly awkward position. Also, “poaching” isn’t really seen as a negative here because the company wants to retain good people and put them in positions where all of their skills can best be used.

        1. Revolver Rani*

          “Also, ‘poaching’ isn’t really seen as a negative here because the company wants to retain good people and put them in positions where all of their skills can best be used.”

          ^^ That’s what I keep thinking in this discussion. If I learned that even the best superstar on my team were interested in another position in the company, I would certainly be sad, but I could not see having a rage-fit at the manager of the other position. I don’t own anyone on my team; I can only keep them for as long as the job meets their needs. Being weird or overly possessive about someone’s interest in transferring to another team just seems like a sure path to that person’s transfer right out of the company entirely.

          I don’t think my analysis changes if the other manager initiated the process, approaching my superstar who otherwise might not have thought about transferring. Sure, I’d be a little disappointed to lose my valued team member. But how does being weirdly territorial or using charged terms like “poaching” or creating animosity with other managers help to create an environment where your superstars want to stay with you? It just seems odd and overly personal and very counterproductive.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*


            Like there’s two dimensions here and they both suck: #1, having a rage-fit at someone else in the office is pretty much universally inappropriate, save for maybe in situations where inappropriate has already gone flying out the penthouse window and now you’re just in a fight for survival. #2, being more invested in keeping your employee, rockstar though they may be, in your department reporting to you, rather than wanting to see them grow and gain in value to your org as a whole is monstrously short-sighted as a manager and probably has some unfortunate implications for how they perceive their work’s relationship to the company product as a whole.

        2. MCMonkeyBean*

          Agree–at my company people are heavily encouraged to apply for other teams within the company to get different experience. I have two or three times had my supervisor tell me about an opening on another team. Only once did I actually move on the opportunity.

          I do understand though that the supervisor would be upset on hearing about this only at the end of the process. I think this kind of thing is generally better when it’s out in the open. Though if the supervisor has a history of reacting badly that could change the way things need to be handled.

    2. RabbitRabbit*

      I’ve done it two different ways at my current workplace.

      For the first, it was understood by the team I wanted to go to that my manager would be hostile to the process. She frequently designated employees who left the institution as “ineligible for rehire” out of spite; the department had a high turnover rate, partially due to her poor management, and people leaving made her mad. She was informed, by my new manager, after I accepted the position, at the recommendation of the AVP in my new department.

      The second time, my (new) direct manager recommended me for another position in the same department, under another reporting chain altogether. She knew that area really suited my interests and abilities, and suspected (correctly) that it would help retain me and my institutional knowledge; she told her own manager that it was better to let that transfer happen than risk losing me to somewhere else. I was looking around at the time outside of the institution because I wasn’t liking the advancement options in that role.

      1. FormerAdChick*

        I’ve had similar experiences. I have had an adjacent manager approach me about applying for a job in a different department and because of the circumstances I asked for my boss and Director’s ok before applying (I was back filling someone else’s role for a few months expected to return to my normal job after – both those jobs reported to the same Director.). I got the OK and got the new job.

        Same company, when leaving the department “new” department, I told my boss I applied for a job (which I interviewed for and didn’t get) and there were repercussions. I didn’t expect that. When I got the job I have now, I didn’t tell my boss I applied and interviewed for it until after I got the offer. My company promotes retention and moving around at a high level but how it plays out depends on the department. By policy, we don’t have to tell our bosses until we get an offer and they are not allowed to ask.

      2. RabbitRabbit*

        I should note that I wasn’t open about looking in the second position. My then-manager was just a really good judge of people and their aptitudes.

        Regarding the first one, I was a little shocked that the big boss would recommend the notification method that he did, but in retrospect, the old manager was really shady in other ways. She put a lot of pressure on me to give her a resignation letter, when my new manager had specifically instructed me not to do it. Since that time, I’ve heard about errors in internal transfers where someone accidentally resigned/was mislabeled as resigning and that led to major screwups with the transfer/benefits/etc. I’m wondering if she tried to game the system and label me as ineligible for rehire to try to mess with my transfer somehow. (I split the difference and gave her a formal transfer notification letter, cc’ing my new manager.)

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Yeah, that seems really weird to me. In the companies I’ve worked for, internal moves are something you coordinate heavily with your current manager about.

      But then again, in the companies I’ve worked for, internal movement is regarded as a net org benefit and managers are strongly encouraged to help their employees move between teams.

    4. CupcakeCounter*

      My read was that it was known to OP’s boss that the other manager would be difficult and take it out on the transferring employee (happened at OldJob often enough with a few different managers that my immediate response was duh…of course he didn’t tell boss until it was a done deal).

      I’ve also never heard of the hiring manager notifying another manager…it was always on the employee to do the notification. At my current job it is in the wording of all of the internal job postings that the employee will notify their current manager upon utilizing the application system for a position outside their current team. At OldJob the policy was to notify current manager if you were invited to an in-person interview.

      1. Seriously?*

        Yeah. It sounds like they knew that the other manager would not be reasonable and grandboss (boss of both managers) wanted this transfer. Maybe the employee had made it known to the grandboss that they were unhappy or grandboss decided that the employee would of more use on this other team. The problem came when they then forgot that they were the one to do this and leave former manager out of the loop.

        1. Massmatt*

          This is far too charitable a description of the grandboss’s behavior. Grandboss RECOMMENDED the hire, and then changed/approved the change of the job description to get the internal candidate. Then grandboss “forgets” their role in all this? I call BS. The hire’s original manager was “known to be unpleasant” and the hire expected her to be difficult. When she actually DID make things unpleasant, the grandboss threw the OP under the bus. Grandboss got the employee he wanted, and left the OP (his underling) to take the heat for it. Terrible.

          IMO the organization as a whole has an attitude that employees should not be allowed to move except by permission of their current managers, and that such permission will likely never happen. Grandboss is at least partly responsible for this dysfunctional mindset, and reinforced it rather than confronting it when given a major opportunity to do so.

      2. Adlib*

        This happened to me. A manager approached me to see if I’d be interested in a position, and then she approached my current manager about it. It wouldn’t have mattered if I approached her or if new manager did. She would have been mad either way. She certainly made that last 3 months (!) of transition as unpleasant as she could. She’s no longer here anyway, but man, that was a tough transition. It’s definitely something that happens. My company has a policy of wanting to promote from within, but that doesn’t stop some managers from being petty.

    5. CollegeAdmin*

      I applied to 2 internal positions at my company (and got the second one). For both, the hiring managers and HR knew that my boss at the time would be so unreasonable about it that they took extra steps to NOT inform them. The first hiring manager got HR to “encourage” me to apply, thus skirting the official policy of him having to ask my boss; the second hiring manager talked to my boss’ boss and they both agreed to keep my boss in the dark until I got an offer.

      And just like the first supervisor in #4, my boss pitched a fit to the second hiring manager when I gave my notice. My (female) boss followed the (male) hiring manager to the men’s bathroom to voice her complaints!

  4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#5, if they refuse after your breezy and upbeat, “Oh, I don’t know if you realize the law changed… AB 168 requires employers to disclose a position’s pay scale upon request” comment (and I would namedrop the bill number), you don’t want to work for them. Most employers know they’re no longer allowed to ask for salary history—although many still ask about it—but not as many are aware about the pay scale disclosure. Or they think the disclosure only has to be made internally, which is inaccurate, or that they can somehow hide it by describing it as a trade secret (it is not).

    So I would assume ignorance before the new law namedrop, but if they refuse after, it’s definitely a red flag about how they treat their employees and whether they think they’ll get caught for abiding by the new requirements.

    1. Aphrodite*

      If a company refuses to disclose the salary range even after a polite request I wonder if a tip off to the approopriate government agency would be in order

      1. LarsTheRealGirl*

        Alison, (or CA legal peeps) what’s the recourse for companies who don’t comply? What’s the grievance process?

        1. CAA*

          You file a complaint with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). This falls under “Other Violations”. I don’t think there’s any penalty to the employer.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Yup, this. You file with the DLSE, although I have no idea what the penalty would be, as the section is exempted from the default penalty (Labor Code § 433 makes violation of the sections within Labor Code Division 1, Part 2, Chapter 3, Article 3 [§§ 430–435] a misdemeanor).

          2. Autumnheart*

            I feel like it’s a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” dilemma. Either you report them to the DOL and then you get to be “the person who reports employers to the DOL before even being interviewed,” or they get to break the law without any blowback.

            1. SavannahMiranda*

              Does the employer know who their ‘accuser’ is? Is one’s name attached to the DLSE report? I wonder.

    2. neverjaunty*

      Ignorance, but also not reassuring: we won’t tell you how much you might get paid and therefore might waste both of our time, and also, we don’t keep up on employment law in our own state.

      Labor Code section 432.39(c): “An employer, upon reasonable request, shall provide the pay scale for a position to an applicant applying for employment.”

      1. Juliecatharine*

        Exactly. Ignorance of (or willful disregard for) the law makes the lack of disclosure worse but it’s bad regardless. I don’t think I would pursue a position without at least a ballpark salary range. That seems like a recipe for wasted time and effort. I also wouldn’t bother working with that recruiter again because while a hiring manager might not be aware of all the legal requirements a recruiter absolutely should be.

    3. irene adler*

      Here in CA, I’m finding that the salary topic is broached by the employer asking what my expectations are regarding salary for the position.
      They often preface this with, “I am not asking for your salary history or your current salary figures.”

      The flat refusal is troublesome.

      1. Kat in VA*

        This game has been the bane of my existence while interviewing. I ask, “What’s the salary range for this position?” after making it through various screens and calls, and the response is invariably, “What are you looking for?”

        Well, I don’t want to say I am looking for $250k, a Bugatti Chiron, and a whole stable of Labrador Retrievers, but I also don’t want to say $50k when you’re willing to pay up to $75k. Because I can’t think of a company that wouldn’t be happy to pay me $25k less than they’re willing to offer.

        The salary range varies *wildly* in this area for what I do – anywhere from $35k to $120k, so asking for what I want can be a dicey game. I’ve had recruiter flat-out laugh at me when I am forced to give them a figure, and had other ones express dismay that I want “so much”…when I know other companies do, indeed, pay “that much”.

        I managed to get salary ranges up front for the two I’m waiting on – for one of them, the recruiter actually stated the range RIGHT IN THE EMAIL (“This position pays between $X and $X based on your experience”) and the other one…well, that took a little more finesse. She asked what I was was looking for, and I told her I’d prefer to know what their range was – and that way I wouldn’t either lowball myself or shock them with a completely out-of-the-question number. She gave me the range. It was acceptable.

        Salary is so touchy – but for MANY of us (I hesitate to say MOST but come on), it’s a HUGE cornerstone of whether or not we want a job. I don’t care how fulfilling and happy the job makes me if I can’t pay my light bill!

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Yes, this is so frustrating. They’re trying to bait applicants into “voluntarily” sharing their preferred range, which is not unlawful, to get around flat out asking for a person’s salary history.

    4. OP5*

      Thanks, I’ll definitely make sure to namedrop.
      It’s a public company, so my assumption is that they’re not training their managers well (they have a legal department who should definitely know about this law). This, of course, is also a red flag.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        That’s pretty alarming! A public company with a legit legal department should have provided the opportunity for briefing and compliance, and if anyone failed to do that (or interfered with that ability), it’s often a sign of Uber-style dysfunction.

  5. all aboard the anon train*

    I was going to ask something similar to #5, except that in Massachusetts, employers can’t ask what your current salary is (I wish they added a bit about employers having to give a salary range), but I’ve had recruiters – from recruiting companies and in-house HR recruiters – ask me about for my current salary*. The law went into effect earlier this month, so I don’t know if they’re unaware of the law or just ignoring it all together.

    *I have my stock “not comfortable answering private financial info” statement, but it’s still annoying to have to answer this when they’re legally not supposed to ask. They’ve had two years to get used to this change before the law went into effect.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      They’re still doing it in CA, too, even though it’s unlawful :( It’s very frustrating.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        Honestly, it makes me worry for all the people out there who aren’t aware this is a law and who will share their salary and then be lowballed or taken advantage of by recruiters.

      2. KX*

        I saw a job ad in California just this afternoon that asked for your salary history in your cover letter. It’s a job I’ve been dithering about applying for, and it keeps popping up, and this is new language they added. It wasn’t in the ad before.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          If the ad is there, then gone for a few weeks/months, then back again, it could mean it’s so awful no one stays in it.
          Or it could mean they have hundreds of positions they’re trying to fill.
          Either way probably not a good sign.

      3. Mookie*

        Yep. A friend tried the breezy “oh, I’m a legal stickler, and since California adjusted its laws about salary disclosure I make it a rule not to share that kind of personal information,” kind of deal a few weeks ago and got nowhere.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      It is also illegal in NYC, and in my experience recruiters have been quick to pick up on the new law. HOWEVER, it does not mean they tell you salary ranges. It just means they ask you for your desired salary almost the very first thing, and no matter how many times I try to make them name their number first, they throw it back at me.


      1. all aboard the anon train*

        I’ve had the same experience. I currently have a job and as much as I need to get out, I’m at the point of bowing out of interviews with recruiters if they keep making me name a range first. Because honestly, making me name a range is pretty similar to asking what my salary is, just in a different way.

        I do wonder what’ll happen if I excuse myself from the interview if they don’t give me a range and force me to say a number first. Probably nothing, but some small part of me hopes it throws them off their game.

      2. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

        I had the same experience when searching in NYC a couple of months ago – recruiters were very good about not asking for my current salary, but still very unwilling to give out a range.

        It was annoying, but in the grand scheme of job hunting stressors – it wasn’t super high on my list of sh!ts to give. I just had a canned response ready (“well it depends quite a bit on the specifics of the role and the bonus scheme and/or benefits”) and then threw out a rather large range that was just a tiny bit higher than my actual, internal range (eg: realistically I wanted/expected 65-80k, but I told recruiters I was looking for 70-100k). Seemed to work well. That range is pretty wide, but it seemed to hit the sweet spot of not being ridiculously large, while also not really giving a chance to be lowballed.

      3. OP5*

        My go-to response to the desired salary question is always, “market rate.” If they’re willing to look so foolish as to say they don’t know what market rate is, bail.

        1. LCH*

          oo, that’s good. market rate.

          i was wondering what would happen if i were to say something like, you haven’t decided on a salary range yet for this position? but that might be too adversarial.

    3. Kat in VA*

      Here in Virginia, it’s legal to ask for salary information going back the last five or ten years. *aggravated eye roll*

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Just to be clear, it’s legal in the majority of the U.S. to ask for salary history as far back as they want. The only exceptions are the places that very recently have passed laws prohibiting it — California, Massachusetts, New York, Delaware, Oregon (until post-offer), and Vermont, and next year Connecticut and Hawaii.

        1. Kat in VA*

          Yeah – I had checked that and was hoping my state would be one of them. I am so sick of this “let’s see how low we can go game” that I’ve been playing with employers. Job hunting is soul destroying anyway; I’m certain that’s coloring my attitude at this point. SOON I WILL BE EMPLOYED

        2. The New Wanderer*

          Why would Oregon (or any state) have a clause that you can be asked your salary history post-offer? So you can’t negotiate up or so you don’t get a raise if the offer is for more than you were making?

          FWIW I’m in Washington and have not yet been asked my current (or previous) salary where it’s been required (like on an application), just salary expectation.

  6. neverjaunty*

    and others say I’m being too sensitive

    Those are the people who are so far into the weeds of ‘work hard play hard’ and giving up their lives for a paycheck that they can’t and won’t see that anyone else might feel different. When someone tries to shut you down by insulting you (which is what “too sensitive” is in this context) feel free to safely ignore them.

  7. Triple Anon*

    #2 – I agree that ads like that are usually for scam companies. If you find a reputable company with ads like that, it says a lot about what they think of the applicant pool. (I’m imagining, “These people tend to be lazy so we need to write ads that emphasize having to work hard.”) In other words, still probably not worth your time. But who knows.

    1. Lance*

      More than that, I’d be very concerned what kind of hours or work load companies with ads like that might inflict on any employees they manage to get in the end.

    2. Zennish*

      With legit job ads, you just have to be “Dynamic, innovative and team-oriented!” That’s exhausting enough.

  8. Bea*

    I’ll be happy to see that new Cali measure get full traction and work it’s way to other states.

    I’m still stunned a woman thought it was illegal for a job seeker to ask the pay scale without the employer bringing it up. A law like this would be wonderful to kill that myth with an appropriate amount of fire.

    Name the law and don’t work for someone so grossly out of touch! It’s concerning they’re refusing to disclose the information that is a deal breaking thing for most of us!!

    1. Observer*

      I’m still stunned a woman thought it was illegal for a job seeker to ask the pay scale without the employer bringing it up.

      That’s just bizarre. When and where did this happen?

      1. Bea*

        A woman we interviewed told us it was illegal for her to ask and was excited we told her up front so she didn’t have to wonder:(

    2. Kathlynn*

      I’ve done this (pointing out, and even printing out the law) at my current employer, and past employers. Sadly it hasn’t helped. Generally it gets me into trouble because I’m not minding my own business. (hey you’re breaking this safely law “who do you think you are”; hey I can’t pump propane, my licence is expired “do it anyways”; hey you can’t have 3rd shift work alone, we don’t meet safety requirements “well your coworkers don’t seem to care and you’re off that shift now, why do you care”

      So yeah, red flags if a company doesn’t keep up and/or respect the law

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        Woah! Name, shame and whistle-blow dude!
        Salary ranges and history are one thing, but blatant ignoring of safety rules that could get someone hurt or killed are more another

        1. Massmatt*

          Disregard for safety rules is disturbing but not everyone can afford to be a whistle blower. Retaliation against them is commonplace, few perpetrators face any legal consequence.

          1. Holly*

            This is a fair concern, but retaliation is also illegal, and I’m not sure where you’re getting that few perpetrators face legal consequences. What’s your support for that? (as a defense attorney I can tell you people do bring lawsuits that are taken seriously). People should be informed of the consequences but it seems like you’re straight up discouraging people from reporting safety violations, which is really harmful.

            1. Kathlynn*

              When I tried to get more information due to my work conditions the rep for WSBC didn’t answer my questions, completely ignored that I worked during the danger hours which have more extreme requirements for working alone, and lectured me about how it was legal for my employers to require me to work alone. All I wanted to know was more information on what Isolated meant in “alone or isolation”. (because I still don’t know if one coworker would notice before customers did that something had happened to me). Later the company I currently work for tried to force us to work alone, I pushed back, and but the manager didn’t care. told me to call HR. Having called HR due to his treatment of my during a health crisis, which could have killed me, I didn’t bother. And a coworker said that they contacted WSBC who did nothing, and in my city alone only 1-2 of the stores have 2 people on for graveyards. Yet we aren’t supposed to lock the doors (my boss still wants me to open the store for regular customers so we don’t loose sales, if I’m working alone. I’m back on graveyards, and that door stays locked as per WSBC laws). The company claims that all stores in our most populated area only have one person on during graveyards and it’s quite legal.

              But that’s what happens when you don’t hire/promote people with management training for management and don’t give them training. And when you only have one person for HR for multiple provinces. (my city alone has at least 80 people working for this company)

              1. Positive Reframer*

                I would look into the propane dispensing issue, I’ll bet that might be governed by a different regulatory body.

            2. Kathlynn*

              also to be clear, I do think people should report and push back when able. But in my area, I’ve seen the government ignore things to often to not roll my eyes and assume they are going to side with the employer, and either dismiss any issues or give them a light slap on the wrist.

              1. Holly*

                I completely believe you and my comment wasn’t meant to cast doubt on your experience – my response was more so in general to Massmatt’s comment. It also really depends on the agency and the state – if you think your state is really employee-unfriendly, try the federal government’s agency (like U.S. Department of Labor or OSHA vs. state Department of Labor). Also, sometimes it’s really hard to tell which is the right agency, but even calling your Attorney General’s office they might be able to direct you to which agency is the correct one.

        2. Kathlynn*

          I’ve worked at gas stations. Sadly I can’t risk naming them as I need my past and current manager for references. And the one company I would name is a number company that owns a whole bunch of franchise gas stations. So it would be very hard to avoid the company without a lot of research.

          And if I named my current company, I would loose my job. Because I’m not allowed to talk about the company online or to new sources or other people without their permission. What I would do, is if you visit a 24/7 store in BC canada between 11pm and 6am, and you only ever see one person there, ask if there is someone else on. If not, stop going there because they are breaking the law (danger hours, of the OHAS regulations. But for some reason work safe BC doesn’t give a fig about enforcing their own laws/regulations).

      2. Positive Reframer*

        Wow, that’s horrid! I hope you keep pushing back or take it way above their heads. Safety laws are there for a reason especially with things like that. If they are purposefully ignoring those are they also ignoring inspections and such for customer’s tanks? Someone could literally die because they aren’t willing to do their job correctly.

        Is there an industry group in addition to regulators that you might be able to appeal to? These wannabe murderers putting their pocket above the lives of their customers and coworkers fully deserve anything negative that would happen to them as a result of being held accountable for their actions.

        Thank you for what you have done to push back already and if you choose to move bravely forward I hope that you will reap rewards.

      3. Bea*

        I’ve seen this happen before too. I quit and reported them to all the appropriate places possible.

        Check state laws but you’re usually eligible for UI payments if you quit due to safety violations.

        These are scumbags who will kill or disable someone.

    3. OP5*

      Thanks, it’s good to see that so many people agree this should be a deal-breaker if they continue to dither. I was starting to think it was just me.

  9. beth*

    #1: Is it common in your workplace for people to plan their own retirement send-offs??? That seems pretty fraught, given that their coworkers are footing the bill out-of-pocket. I like the idea of defining your typical ‘cake and punch’ party as the official standard and sticking with that. Your difficult retiree-to-be will probably be upset, but their wish list is so out of line that I don’t see how you could NOT upset them, so they’ll just have to deal.

    1. TootsNYC*

      And, she’s retiring, so you won’t have to deal with her later.

      What strikes me is that you guys went upscale a bit for Jane (but still not terribly expensive), and this Retiring Colleague wants EVEN MORE!

      If Retiring Colleague wanted the same as Jane, that would be more understandable. But she wants TWO meals, and is ASKING FOR a gift?

      (wow, I sound kind of shocked, with all those caps. I think I am)
      I like the idea of scaling it back using the excuse that even just this one deviation raised alarm bells and made people realize they can’t keep it up.

      1. Marthooh*

        #1 – Whatever gift you decide to give this person, it should have “World’s Best Ex-Coworker” engraved on it.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        IDK that the retiring colleague is actually asking for two meals and a gift. Couldn’t the lunch be the manager and the retiree, followed by a cake & punch reception at the office, with a small company keepsake-type gift?

        I think that normally asking for a gift would be crazy, but if you’ve seen some people get gifts and others not, and you would actually like something, saying something seems polite. I personally would not want a gift, but recognition is important and meaningful to some people.

        Honestly, I keep commenting on this thread, and it just hit me why. I left my 2-previous internal position after 6 years, and I took a temporary-but-long-term relo this year (which I was requested to do as a “take one for the team assignment” after 4 yrs in the previous role), and didn’t get so much as a don’t-let-the-door-hit you. Meanwhile, my manager was forced out of his position and moved downstairs a couple floors and the department gave him a going away potluck the week after I moved. I hate gifts and a parties, but I thrive on actual recognition of my value.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I was about to leave a position I’d held for 12 years, and part of me was looking forward to the going-away gift (coworkers all pitched in for these). Other people who had left had been given really nice gifts, and I knew that I was well-regarded and well-liked, so I figured enough people would want to be part of it, and I knew it would make me feel good to receive it. (It was less about the item and more about the warm fuzzies.)

          I got laid off one week before I could quit, so I didn’t get any gift.

          But in either situation, it would have been rude beyond words to ask for a gift. In fact, asking for it, or hinting about it, would have offended people and they’d have declined to contribute, or they’d have given less money.

  10. Observer*

    #1 – Is this co-worker asking for a larger send off than the last one? And, why was the last one so much bigger than typical? It might help you to figure out a non-offensive way to explain why you can’t do the same for this retiree. “well, you know that Jane single-handedly did this ~~MAJOR THING~~ that made all our lives better” is a good reason for making an exception and it’s hard to argue that “so did I”.

    1. Yvette*

      Also, isn’t retiring age based and not length of service? I mean, there could be a difference in the treatment of someone who retires after having worked there from age 21 to age 65 and someone who worked there from age 50 to age 65. I don’t know if that applies in this situation however.

      1. Kathlynn*

        It can be either of those things. Mostly it depends on where you work, the kind of money you make (and thus can save)

      2. Government worker*

        In my government job, it’s based on both. You’re eligible to retire once your age and years of service add up to a certain magic number.

        1. not really a lurker anymore*

          We call it the “85 and out” as you need 30+ years of service and must be 55 or older to get full pension – 70% of your highest 3 years salary.

          1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

            It was known as “Freedom 55” here years ago thanks to a popular ad. Now it’s “work until you drop at your desk.” I wish I was kidding. So few people seem to retire now.

    2. Blossom*

      I don’t know, I think that might invite argument. I mean, essentially you’d be saying “Jane was a more valuable employee than you”. I’m not sure I would manage a graceful reply…

      1. Observer*

        True. That’s why it would have to be something specific. Not “Jane was better liked than you” or “Jane produced higher quality teapots.” More like “Jane single handedly saved all the puppies in the building when the boiler blew up” kind of thing.

        1. Blossom*

          Mm, I still think that’s inviting a response like “what about the time that I did something great too?” or “what about all the invisible work I do, that clearly nobody appreciates, but which has kept the company afloat?” or “actually I saw a different side to Jane…”.
          Even if the other person’s actually not that great, I’m not sure they will always happily accept that Jane was a stand-out employee who deserves preferential treatment.

  11. HA2*

    #3 – I don’t know about you, but to me being given 3-months notice of your firing seems like a good deal. I suppose not as good as a severance, but better than just being let go.

    You should feel free to decrease the amount you stress over your soon-to-be-over day job. Sure, do work to a reasonable ability while you’re there, but… if you can’t make a deadline working reasonable hours? Too bad for them, what are they gonna do, fire you? If you need a day off to go to an interview, you’re able to honestly tell them so instead of dancing around why you’re missing a day. And so on. And if you find a job earlier than the 3 months, just resign earlier.

    I guess I’m coming at this from the perspective of the industry I work for, when firings are more like “hi, we’re letting you go, take your stuff and walk out the door RIGHT NOW without talking to anybody.” So “hi, we’re gonna keep paying you to come in for 3 months while you job search” seems like a good deal to me.

    I suppose if you’re coming from an industry where generous severance is the norm, this would seem pretty bad by comparison, though.

    I’m also not sure why the employer does this, because it doesn’t seem like a good deal for *them*. I suppose it gives the company 3 months to determine if anything you’re doing is irreplaceable and needs to be transferred? I would guess that after such an announcement, most employees would NOT give their best for those three months, and a bad employee can cost a company a lot of money…

    1. chi type*

      Agreed, start caring less. Not to the point that it causes safety issues, obviously, but definitely leave early for interviews, fill out applications at your desk, etc.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I also don’t see any reason in the letter why the OP couldn’t decide to give their notice right now, if they aren’t happy at the job, and want to devote their whole time to job searching.

        I suspect I look at this differently because I work in an environment where contracts are standard. So to me, this situation seems very similar to one where you’re told that your contract isn’t being renewed – it’s not the same as being fired outright, and it’s not like a layoff where you might expect a severance payment. You would generally be expected to work out your contract (at your usual level of competence), but your employers would know that you were actively job searching, they might be contacted as references, and you might leave sooner if a good opportunity comes up. Working badly for the remaining time on the contract would be unlikely to get you fired earlier, but could very well affect the quality of references.

        1. FormerAdChick*

          I have been laid off and forced to work the notice period (few weeks), laid off and walked (mass downsizing) and I’ve done contract work with a clear end date. Nothing was as bad as being laid off (basically fired – but without cause and the company didn’t end up surviving but it took a while). Being forced to come in and work those couple of weeks was awful. It was completely demoralizing and really, really hard to stay positive and professional. It’s a good deal on paper, but not necessarily in reality. I can’t imagine doing that for 3 months.

          1. FormerAdChick*

            That should read, nothing was as bad as being laid off and being forced to work the notice period…

          2. Bea*

            Yeah I’ve only had one person laid off and work through a notice period. It was hell on the guy and hard for the rest of us because he was basically a reminder of things to come AND we all liked him. It’s bad for everyone but the worst for the person getting tossed in the trash essentially.

          3. LW #3*

            Thanks for the sympathy. I think a lot of the problem is that this is my first real job, I’ve worked here for 7 years in pretty much exactly the same position, and my new manager decided that I’m not able to meet the basic requirements of the role. It’s been very demoralizing, and I can’t help but wonder every day why anyone would still want me here doing work if my work is that insufficient. I’ve always had warm relationships with my coworkers, but now I feel awkward talking about the future with them or even what I did that weekend.

            1. chi type*

              That sounds awful, LW. I know I would be doubting my whole self-worth if that happened to me. But if you’ve been doing the job non-disastrously for 7 years this sounds like it’s about your manager more than you.

              1. LW #3*

                I know you’re right in my head, but my heart is taking a while to get there. (I’m working on it with my therapist.) It definitely helps that two of my previous managers offered to be references, so I couldn’t have been all that bad.

                1. Jennifer Thneed*

                  See, your manager can’t actually say out loud “I want to fire everyone and bring in new people” but that’s what a lot of new managers want to do. So they say things that are legit business-speak but don’t actually apply. Like your skills not being up to par for a job you’ve been in for 7 years. Do Not Believe This Person. THEY probably believe what they’ve said because humans do that, but please feel a measure of lip-curling disdain for them.

                  Of course you still feel crappy because you’re getting fired, but don’t let it hit your self-knowledge. This person thinks you could train someone in a single week? They clearly don’t know what they’re talking about.

    2. MsSolo*

      Is severance pay a thing in the US? My first thought was that this forced resignation was a way to get around paying severance, but obviously that only applies if it’s something you’d get anyway.

      To be honest, though it sounds nice on paper, it’s a massively demoralising way to let people go. A former colleague of mine was made redundant by her previous employer, only they weren’t quite sure when they were going to actually shut the office down, so she and her colleagues were stuck in the redundancy process for eighteen months. In theory, great, because you’re still getting paid and plenty of time for job hunting, but in reality it was eighteen months of hell because it’s so hard not to internalise the message of “you’re not wanted and you’re not needed” when you’re sat opposite a manager who can’t assign you work and watching other people come by to eye up your office, and you can’t just quit without something else lined up because then you don’t get the redundancy pay.

      1. MLB*

        In my experience, if a company wants to get rid of someone, they provide a nice severence in exchange for their “resignation”. I’ve never heard of someone being told they need to resign in 3 months. I was laid off (with the entire department in the early 2000s and we were given a 3 month heads up about it.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          We do the three-month window to let people avoid employment gaps, if they want, and receive full salary and benefits while they are job searching. It is entirely up to the employee if they take it or not, and we’re very, very flexible on time off for interviews, designate a reference, and offer resume review. If they get another job during that time, they obviously aren’t expected to give standard notice either.

          I had to do this recently with an employee who had been here for years but was unable to evolve with the position over time and became so ineffective at current requirements (e.g., keeping up with current technology and best practices, unable to communicate effectively). We did not want to simply fire a long-time employee, but we also had run out of people that were willing to work with them at all. Offering the three-month option is an attempt to help them locate a position better suited to their skillset.

    3. BRR*

      I was in a similar situation as the LW and thought it was at least better than being let go right away. It gave me some more time to find a job and the salary+benefits was much more money than severance-cobra would have been. Don’t get me wrong, it still majorly sucks but i really appreciated that I could look for a job while having a job since that usually makes the job hunt easier.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Agreed. My previous company did this with one of our senior employees. They gave him something like three to four months. During that time he was given plenty of leeway to job search. It was good for him because he kept getting paid, had insurance instead if Cobra, had plenty of time to do a thorough job search, and it was less stressful because he didn’t have to worry about a lot of things anymore. No big projects to deal with, stuff like that. I, personally, would see this as a good deal if it happened to me. Sure, it sucks to be told you’re not a good fit, no longer needed, etc., but at least I would have time to figure out my next move.

      2. LW #3*

        You’re absolutely right, this is better than being let go right away. I’m incredibly lucky to have three months to focus on my search while all my bills are paid, not having to say that I was fired, etc. I just feel guilty every day because my work is nowhere up to its usual standards, and I feel like I’m letting down all my coworkers. I try so hard to be responsible and reliable at work, but between the stress of being fired, the stress of job-hunting and the resurgence of my depression, I haven’t been the employee I want to be.

    4. Jen*

      This is a different situation because OP was fired, but I know someone who was riffed from a government job during a financial budget crisis, only to be hired back a year later. They hired back almost everyone, but permanently blacklisted a group who had severely misbehaved and created messes for the organization upon learning about the upcoming cuts. My relative uses this as a “always do your best work” story.

      OP’s situation is a bit different, because this is a firing, but given that the employer is doing a kindness by giving OP extra paid time to try to find another job, OP should do the job they are being paid to do. Extra hustle? Nah. But behavior that fails to meet basic standards? Not good. If OP knows they can’t do this, they need to quit. Fired or not, misbehaving during this time could have consequences. Sure, HR only verifies dates, but there are few industries where people don’t talk, or someone from your org may end up making a decision about you at a different company 5 years down the line. If these three months are going to hurt your reputation, walk away now.

      1. Observer*

        No one is suggesting doing bad work, much less causing problems. But no extra hustle, and no stretching yourself to the breaking point to keep up with unrealistic deadlines.

    5. Ali G*

      Last year I left a horribly toxic job with a manager that spent the better part of a year trying to push me out. She finally succeeded, but I negotiated a “transition” out of the company (90 days) and a 6-month severance. Severance is very typical in my industry because we have anti-compete agreements, so the company pays people not to go running to competitors when they are let go.
      I’d say the first 2 months were fine, it was actually great – I got to cancel a whole bunch of travel and I spent the majority of my time meeting with my co-workers and replacement to ensure my job duties were fully transferred. But the last month was harder. I just stopped having motivation and my former supervisor who was already on BEC status with me became insufferable as she played the role of “supervisor losing star employee” while I and everyone else really knew what was going on. I had to play along to, in order to get my severance.
      I finally just stopped showing up for meetings and just passed VMs and emails onto folks who would be handling those things. It was how I dealt with it.
      So OP, yes, stop feeling like you owe them anything. Just do what you need to do to get your paycheck for as long as you need it and then get out of there. It’s hard, but hopefully you will end up better off.

      1. LW #3*

        My relationship with my current manager is pretty toxic, unfortunately. I’ve never had so much trouble communicating with anyone in my life, and she snaps at me for having certain expressions on my face such as concern or confusion. A lot of me is relieved to be leaving my job, but until then I have weekly one-on-one meetings with my manager, where I practice my mannequin face and not reacting to anything she says.

        My company has a 2-year anti-compete agreement, but the real problem is that they’ve negotiated 1-year “no poach” agreements with every business that works with them, which turns out to be every business in the state that uses the antiquated technology I’ve been trained in. It wouldn’t be such a kick in the teeth if they’d let me transfer to using the newer and in-demand technology when I asked three years ago, but they always told me that I was desperately needed in my current position because I was one of their few old-technology experts. So I don’t have any experience with the new technology and I can’t work anywhere that wants experience with the old technology for a year after I resign. That’s one reason a severance would have been better.

        1. Observer*

          Hm. I don’t think that these “no poach” agreements are legal. I’m not sure if you can do something about that, though.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          Could you ask them about releasing you from the non-compete and providing a letter that states that they will not pursue the no-poach specifically related to your candidacy? If you’ve been there a while and they are giving you 90 days to job search, they may be willing to go a little further to help you with your job search.

          We take this tact with people who are good employees but simply no longer able to do the job we need, and it’s not intended to be torturous (that’s an unfortunate side-effect) – rather, we want them to keep getting benefit and to avoid an employment gap, if possible. We’re also really flexible on days off to interview and are generally willing to assist people with finding a more suitable position in any way we can.

    6. Susan K*

      I worked at a company that did this — but only for managers. Every time we saw it happen, people would gripe about how the managers got special perks even when they were bad enough to get fired, while the regular employees like us would just get kicked to the curb.

      I know it’s hard to be grateful in a situation like this, because getting fired sucks no matter how it goes down, but at least try to remember that it gives you a leg up on your job search. It’s always easier to get a job when you’re employed than when you’re not. You won’t have to disclose that you were fired from this job or explain why. You get to keep your salary and benefits while you job hunt, so you don’t have to jump on the first job you find just so you can pay the mortgage. You get to make a graceful and dignified exit rather than get perp-walked out the door by security. Try to make the most of it.

    7. Ann Perkins*

      I recently had this scenario with a direct report. He was a good guy but not able to pick up anything more than the bare basics of the job and just not a good fit for the role. Even though I was only getting maybe 3-4 hours of actual solid work from him, it was still 3-4 hours per day that I wasn’t having to cover that role on top of my own job. It wasn’t the most cost efficient method in that we were paying him salary and benefits for more than we would have given him as severance, but it brought a lot of value in that I didn’t burn out and crash trying to cover that much work.

      I did make it clear that if I saw sloppiness that was costing us money, we would let him go immediately, so he needed to still be alert when he was working.

    8. writerson*

      My former company handled layoffs this way, with a 2-month notice. When our team got hit hard by layoffs (I think 8 of our 20 were cut), my manager said, “Some people will keep working like nothing happened. Others won’t lift a finger towards this job and will invest all their time in job hunting/interviewing. I can’t really fault either approach.”

      1. The New Wanderer*

        We had a two month notice too, plus severance pay. However, if you left before your two months was up, you forfeited severance. So on the one hand, it was acceptable and encourage to seek out other employment during the two months, but if you did get a job during that time, you risked losing the severance pay… but then you’d keep having a paycheck from the new company so it was kind of a toss-up. I didn’t mind too much working out the notice but it was hard to be motivated.

        My previous layoff was being walked out before noon the day of notification, and severance began immediately. That might have been harder because I had only lived in the area for a year and my coworkers were just about the only people I knew, so being cut off from daily socializing was tough.

    9. LW #3*

      I definitely feel that it’s a good deal for me, but I’ve been feeling acutely guilty because I’m so demoralized and (clinically) depressed that I’m not getting nearly as much work done. I’m also worried that my lack of attention will result in a safety issue, particularly since I had trouble figuring out if I should tell all my coworkers that my work quality might be slipping.

      I think the main issue is that my manager didn’t give me clear expectations for the last three months, so I wasn’t sure if she expected me to continue putting in the usual amount of overtime and taking difficult assignments or if she expected me to just hole up in my office and job search.

  12. Nom Nom*

    OP3, that sounds awful – best of luck finding something new. On the referral / reference thing – don’t discount getting a reference or a referral from your manager despite company policy. It’s standard industry practice where I work (and think the last ten years of jobs changed every couple of years as I predominantly do project work and we move on when projects finish) that every company has had a no reference policy. Every single one. The industry would obviously grind to a halt if this was strictly enforced so the way it operates is that you get ‘personal’ references from the person who also happens to be your manager etc. What is bizarre about this is the same companies with the policies also expect references even tho they state you can’t give them.

    Depending on how your relationship with your manager is, it may be worth having a quiet word and your manager could always preface any reference with ‘I am not representing the company’s views as this is against company policy however I am happy to give a personal reference as to X’s performance based on my previous professional relationship with them’ Good luck

    1. Ali G*

      Yes this. My last job had a “no reference” policy (well the Director of HR says she is the only one who can give references, but she isn’t in a position to offer anything other than dates of employment, reason for leaving, etc.). However, 2 of my last supervisors told me point blank they would serve as a reference for me. One of them is a co-founder of the company, so I am pretty sure it will be OK :)

      1. Massmatt*

        I always wonder whether employers with “no references” policies expect references from previous employers. If all an employer will do is verify employment dates (which really can be verified without them via pay stubs and 1099’s) then that is all they should get. It’s hypocritical to demand something you yourself won’t provide.

        1. JustaTech*

          And if the company changes to a “no references” policy they should tell all the employees that, clearly, before it goes into affect. Not make it just one line in a great big document you have to sign.

    2. TootsNYC*

      not to mention–your manager might leave the company, and then they’d still be a good reference for you.

      Not a single one of my previous managers is still employed by the company where we worked together. People move around, and businesses fold.

    3. LW #3*

      I’m lucky because my two previous managers no longer work in those roles, so they can provide good references for me.

      I switched to my current manager about a year ago, and we have had so many issues that I actually started reading this blog just to try to understand where she was coming from. Despite a year of stress and my best efforts, I was never really able to understand her expectations or even how she was making assessments. (For example, I went into a review knowing that my work was of higher-than-average quality but lower-than-average quantity, according to the metrics. She told me that it was the reverse. When I asked her how she made the assessment, she said that the “perceived” quality was low. She also had a habit of jumping to conclusions and assuming every e-mail I sent her was sarcastic.) So I’m not exactly worried that she isn’t allowed to be my reference.

  13. Junior Dev*

    For #2, I work in tech, and the job postings like that tell me it’s a gross boys club. The one job I worked that had that kind of vibe was awful, the CEO was an emotionally abusive narcissist, there was an open bar with hard liquor which we were encouraged to drink throughout the day. It was awful.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I was coming here to say the same thing but you beat me to it. It’s code speak for “we want men”.

        1. Officer Crabtree*

          Stupid men who actually WANT to work harder. Ha!
          No thanks. I like my sanity

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        It made me think of the episode of White Collar where Neal goes undercover in the ‘boiler room’. I would assume that whatever “hard work” you’re doing is gonna be shady AF.

        1. Technical_Kitty*

          Thank you for the reminder, I am adding White Collar to my summer watching list.

      1. irene adler*

        Thank you for these.
        I passed on applying for a job as the title included “ninja”. Didn’t realize they wanted men to apply – not women. Doubly glad I passed thought. No need to bring embarassment to the employer by being a woman.

        1. many bells down*

          Ninja, rockstar, guru… those are all turnoffs for me. Sure, I’d love to be an *actual* ninja but as I am a podgy 45-year-old woman with bad knees I think that opportunity has passed me by.

          1. RVA Cat*

            Plus given the demographics of tech, ninja and guru sound like code for “just look at how diverse we are, we have Asian bros too!”

        2. Persimmons*

          Have you seen that meme about the ninja parade?

          I’d drop off a ream of blank paper. “Here are the ninja resumes.”

  14. Thornus67*

    #5 – The company is based in California, but is the job? If the job is located outside of California, their disclosure laws probably don’t apply.

    1. foolofgrace*

      I believe it depends on the state of incorporation, not the state where the work is taking place — that is what rules. I worked for a company incorporated in California and everyone was governed by California rules.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Generally, it’s the rules of the state where the work is taking place. (Which is why if my company is based in PA but you’re in CA, I have to follow CA’s rules for you.) But when it comes to hiring, is it the rules of the state where the hiring is taking place? I think it might be, but I’m not sure.

      2. CAA*

        CA has a reputation for having overall the most labor friendly laws, so often companies that are headquartered here do have just one vacation policy or one overtime policy that applies to the whole company and if it meets CA requirements, then it will also meet all the other states’ requirements because they’re equally or less stringent. There are some unique quirks in other states’ laws though. I’ve run into situations with remote employees in MA and WI in particular that only affected one person in each case where we had to do something slightly differently to comply with their state’s labor law. In both cases it was no big deal and we were happy to do it, but somebody did have to point it out because we just had no idea. I’m sure there are plenty of other cases too that have just never come up.

    2. OP5*

      The job and the company are both in California.
      The manager has reports in other locations, so I don’t know what the law would look like for people applying to a different office…

  15. chi type*

    #4 Wooow. My takeaway would be that you can’t trust your boss. She “forgot” that she recommended him, told you it could get awkward, and signed off on a specially changed job description. I would have a lot less trust in this boss going forward.

    1. chi type*

      Just to clarify- I suppose it’s possible that a very busy boss could forget all these things but I would still have much less trust in how much support you can expect in future tricky situations.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        It would be one thing to “forget” in the sense of you don’t think about it after it happened–but if you then find yourself in a meeting where this topic is brought up, I find it hard to believe that wouldn’t jog your memory. I definitely would not trust boss unless they pull a hell of a mea culpa at the promised future meeting…

    2. BRR*

      Yeah this wasn’t really mentioned in the answer but I’m kind of peeved at the boss (but I’m a bit biased because I’ve been delegated a few tasks recently where I needed it to be clear that I had the authority from the boss and I didn’t get this).

    3. Competent Commenter*

      Me too! How can you forget something that you recommended if you later chide someone because it’s not best practice?

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      She forgot or she decided to pretend she forgot. Either way, it’s NOT good.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        Excellent point. I kind of lean towards thinking she… “”forgot””. But if she legitimately DID forget about it… you still have a boss problem!

      2. chi type*

        Right? I think she hung OP out to dry when the (totally predicted) awkwardness happened.

  16. Rez123*

    #2- I haven’t come across job listings that are this bad, but I have noticed that a lot of job listings make the job sound super difficult and demanding no matter the title or the company. I’m looking for a job that pays the bills so these are bit of a turn off. The funny thing was that there was a listing for the same role that I’m doing and with wordings they managed to make it sound very different than what are the actual expectations. So hard to say what you can trust.

    1. Kat in VA*

      I have definitely worked in jobs where the listing for the job was entirely different from the actual job I performed. Or they’ll say it’s fast paced, or high energy, or constantly changing…and it’s almost more data entry than anything else.

      One big red flag for me is “Must be able to work with demanding executives.” I’m an executive assistant. I *definitely* know what a “demanding executive” is and if they’re demanding enough to put it into the job description? Hard pass.

      1. Ann Nonymous*

        Yeah, no kidding with the “demanding executives.” That and any variation of “high energy,” “work hard,” “dynamic,” etc. is a red flag for me. I give every job my best…at a reasonable, measured pace with many skills. Pay me well, treat me well, and I will work diligently for you. This “work hard” b.s. irks me to the core. If people are running around frantically, either the company is understaffed, disorganized or asking for people to make errors and/or get burned out.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          Yes, and in my field (data management) running around frantically is the worst thing you can do. The key to success is taking time to understand what you’re doing and checking the details. I would not work for anyone who tries to rush me, because it’s a setup for failure.
          I noticed the “dynamic” and “high energy” buzzwords as far back as the 90’s… IME “dynamic” means chaotic and unmanaged, and “high energy” means they think someone who is bouncing off the walls is doing better work. As we all know, that’s often not the case!

      2. Michaela Westen*

        “they’ll say it’s fast paced, or high energy, or constantly changing” – I think they’re trying to make it sound exciting.
        This isn’t very smart of them because someone who wants such a stimulating job won’t be happy doing data entry! Seriously, what are they thinking?

  17. No sales for you!*

    LW2, allow me to add some of the information that was cut from those job ads: “This will be the hardest job you’ll ever have, and you absolutely MUST have a lot of grit and a willingness to do WHATEVER is needed. That’s because you’ll be selling a crappy product or service that no one wants. To make sales, you’ll have to be an obnoxious jerk to everyone you know and complete strangers. It will be one hard sell after another, which you’ll be expected to continue even after complaints start coming from dissatisfied customers. P.S. We call this a ‘marketing’ job because no one would apply if we called this job what it really is.”

  18. Sue Wilson*

    Your boss had to do several active measures to get this specific employee and “forgot”? Yeah okay.

    Your boss isn’t willing to properly manage (….why is your boss allowing this other manager to be unpleasant? why didn’t she just tell him she was moving this new member? she is actually in charge here), and she let you take the fall, because she didn’t want to handle other manager’s rudeness herself, and didn’t apparently think through or didn’t care how this would make you look to other managers. Your boss sucks.

    1. voyager1*

      This. Your manager knew that the other supervisor wasn’t going to like losing her employee, thAt is why she drug her feet.

      Also that the other supervisor got others to gang up on you should also be noted and remembered. This other person may not let this go over time.

      I personally don’t think the LW did anything wrong either.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Yeah, I think Manager just didn’t want to confront her peers. Crappy move. The entire situation cheeses me off. What about what’s best for the employee? No one seems to care about that.
      I’m still annoyed that my former boss told me she would support me when I told her I wanted to move to a different department (after being with her for 4 years – and it would have been a promotion and the boss in the other dept told me it was mine if I wanted it). I was psyched and then crushed when the boss from the other dept. told me my salary was too high for their dept. budget so it was no longer in the cards. I was shocked and my regular boss expressed her dismay that it fell apart.

      Then, three years later, the boss who wanted me retired and confided in me that my old boss sabotaged me because she didn’t want to lose me. She complained to the president that the other manager was trying to poach me and they put a stop to it. I was still working for that former boss. I went behind her back and got an offer from another department – but instead of just asking for her support this time, I was aggressive. I confronted her and told her I knew that she is the one who put a stop to my transfer. I said I was transferring this time and that I would quit with no notice if she tried to stop it.

      I wasn’t bluffing, which is why I was brave enough to be so aggressive with her. She did not know what to say to me – I totally caught her off guard – it was awesome. She didn’t try to stop me and I thought it was some huge victory. Little did I know, she was already planning to resign the next week, so I have no idea how she would have reacted if she was planning to stay.

      1. Commander Shepard*

        I’ve had something similar before, people like that who just lie to your face pretending they support you while really stabbing you in the back are just totally shit. Though the other person should have let you know the real reason quietly

    3. EddieSherbert*

      Yeah, I’ve commented on a couple of these – but seriously, I’d be really wary of your boss from here on out. Whether she did it purposefully or not, SHE screwed you over here. You didn’t do anything wrong; you followed her lead and (like most people) assumed she knew what she was doing/would be upfront about that. So just be wary and proceed with caution.

      I really enjoy working with my boss – we get along really well, and can have very blunt conversations with mature/positive reactions from the other person. But I also realized early on that my manager won’t throw me under the bus… but if they send me to the bottom of a hill and then happen to see a bus careening towards me, they’re not going to let me know.

      So we’ve had awkward reviews and emails and whatever where I have to VERY explicitly say in front of grandboss and the whole world things like: “you and grandboss have been discussing X for months? You never told me that. This is the first time X has ever been brought up to me.” and “Here’s the email chain where you asked me to do Y last week. Is that correct or should I be doing X instead?”

    4. Massmatt*

      I agree, the grand boss here did a rotten job and it’s a huge red flag, I would be very wary about them.

      I think the overall attitude of the other supervisor was terrible. The employee being sought after (sought after!) was absolutely right to think his current boss would make things difficult, because she did. As Alison has said, if you cannot be reasonable to an employee giving notice, you don’t deserve being given notice!

      I disagree with the whole tenor of much of the conversation about this situation. Many comments upthread used the term “poaching “ or “blatant poaching”. As Alison said, managers are not feudal lords, employees are employees, not feudal serfs. Moving to different positions is part of anyone’s career path, if an organization cannot accommodate upward mobility then good employees are going to leave and take their skills elsewhere.

  19. The Doctor*


    It’s their job to know what the law requires, so yes, they DO know. Stay away from that company.

    1. Allison*

      I’ve known recruiters who frequently go on autopilot, and/or work with near-constant tunnel vision (it’s their “hustle” or something) and conveniently forget to follow rules they don’t like, or act like they’re too busy and too important to perform some of the smaller, administrative tasks their job requires.

      I’m not salty about it at all.

    2. Emmie*

      Sometimes people make genuine mistakes. There are people who ignore the law; however, it may be hard to remember laws in all jurisdictions if you are recruiting nationwide. I recommend taking an “assume positive intent” approach by referencing the law. If the recruiter / company handles it well then you have your queues about the company.

      1. OP5*

        I often feel like people in my field have their heads down and need a minute to think clearly about anything outside what they’re focused on. I agree that this manager should get a chance to correct the mistake, if it is that.

        1. Emmie*

          I agree too! Hiring managers hopefully don’t conduct many interviews, and I bet it takes a while to pull this from their memory. ;)

  20. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    Re #1: There’s a gender element to these kinds of postings, too.

    I don’t recall where I came across this — it may have been here — but I recently read an article (link in a subsequent comment so it doesn’t delay this post) in the Harvard Business Review about how the language used in job postings affects how many men and women apply. “Aggressive” language like you’re describing results in more applications from men and fewer from women.

    1. Officer Crabtree*

      Sounds like a dumb idea anyway. I mean, who would want to work for a company that basically tells you “we will make you suffer?” On the other hand, I had a boss who shot down my ideas to make our work easier and to save time, because (I think) he believed that if you don’t work 12 hours a day, you’re not earning your money. He burned out. What a surprise

      1. FD*

        I think it’s based on a misinterpretation of a valid, but very difficult to execute, strategy.

        If you tell people that they’re going to accomplish something difficult, give them the tools, and then help them do it–it’s a huge morale boost. It makes people proud and tends to make them feel closer because they had to work together to get something really tough done.

        But there’s this really hard line to walk between striving for a difficult goal and discouraging/burning people out. And it’s more common to do it wrong than right.

      2. Pollygrammer*

        My hunch is that some people read ““we will make you suffer” as “and also you will eventually get to make other people suffer.” Some people are attracted to the idea that they can claw their way to the top. Like a frat–pledges going through hazing are always aware that in a few years they’ll get to torment others.

      3. Michaela Westen*

        Workaholics. It gives them an excuse to work all the time – their job is so important! And they feel they’re accomplishing something.
        I’ve seen several examples in my career of hotshot types who would love this.

    2. Naomi*

      It’s very macho phrasing. All “you think you’re tough enough for this job?” Geez, it’s a marketing position, not recruitment into the army.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Yep, I see phrasing like that and it makes me tired. I really don’t have the energy to be Passionate about whatever and Own all the things and Disrupt this, that, and the other.

        Also if I never read “disrupt” in a job description again, it’ll be too soon. Trust me, if you were really going to subvert the dominant paradigm, your job ad wouldn’t read like, you know, every other job ad out there.

  21. Lemon Bars*

    #3 This happened to me a few years ago, take it as a gift start handing off your work so that you have time to go on interviews and in your free time at work send out resumes. Finding a new job is a job in itself to do it well you are going to have to spend a lot of time on it. Your job is helping you by not making you say you are unemployed , and not affecting your income and allowing you to look for a job at work, as you have less work to do that is their intention. So as long as you are not sabotaging your work, or bringing the office down moral wise take this opportunity and find a better job. It took me every bit of 3 months to find a new position that fit I interviewed like it was its own second job. Some advice that I wish I had used in the beginning of my job search your being let go your first priority is finding and accepting a new job, so move things around at your current job they know you are leaving, get their work done but put your job search first.

    1. LW #3*

      Thanks, that’s good advice. I’d really like to start handing off my work and getting other people up to speed on my areas of expertise, but my manager specifically said not to do so until my last week. It also puts me in an awkward place of just not volunteering for any new assignments, even when everyone is staring at me because I used to be the first to take them on.

      1. Observer*

        Just hand off, even if you don’t do formal training. She clearly doesn’t know what you are doing.

  22. Officer Crabtree*

    #2 Reminds me of those companies who are looking for “rock stars”. Trying to sound cool and millenial-y.

    #4 You have to understand this employee was in another manager’s team for a reason. Now their planning is (possibly) all messed up because they’re losing a resource. Really, the company should have a policy that requires employees to talk to their managers before applying for another internal position. Not to ask permission, but give them a heads-up.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Somebody’s going to be at risk. Requiring the employee to notify their manager before applying puts the risk on the employee. Sure, some managers will be supportive, or at least neutral. But others will not, and employees who reveal they’re looking to move will suffer consequences ranging from being removed from good projects/schedules to outright being fired or “managed out.”

      Not requiring advance notification puts the risk on the manager. And yes, it means a manager can be blindsided when they lose a good employee. But the same thing happens when that employee finds work outside the company, so it’s completely unpreventable. And not having this policy means a company is more likely to be able to keep good employees. If searching for a job at your own employer is so much riskier than looking elsewhere, who would look for an internal position?

      1. Been there before*

        When I was younger and much less confident, I applied for an internal promotion with a company whose policy required the employee to notify their current manager. My manager at the time talked me into withdrawing my application after the first interview. Maybe he knew something I didn’t, but my gut tells me he just didn’t want to lose me.

    2. Former Retail Manager*

      OMG….”rock stars.” I have found that virtually all of those jobs are sales-based or somehow related to sales. And at least one person you encounter in the hiring process is a bit of a d-bag. If you are not AMAZING, you will be living like a rock star in their early years……. coffee, Ramen & stale cigarettes because you’ll be broke.

      1. annakarina1*

        I worked a telemarketing job for a few months when I was broke, and it was awful. I was only paid about $7.50/hr several years ago, only got commission pay when I hit some standard in lieu of my regular pay, was treated like garbage by my manager, and hated calling people and trying to get them to buy memberships to a non-profit arts organization. I was desperate for a job at the time and did it, and quit after my boss yelled at me for trying to ask a organization staff member a question, forbidding me from talking to them unless spoken to first, and I felt incredibly low and awful. He later gave me a fake apology, like excusing himself more than actually being remorseful. It is likely the worst job I’ve ever had.

  23. Specialk9*

    This is such an important thing, and a lot of people on both sides forget this:

    “sensible managers understand that they’re not feudal lords and their employees are free agents, and that it’s better to keep someone really good within the company than to lose them to an outside employer (which is what will happen if managers block internal transfers).”

    1. Snickerdoodle*

      Yes. The description of the other manager as “not known for being a nice person” jumped out at me. If that’s true, the employee was probably looking to get out of that situation, otherwise they wouldn’t have transferred. Given the fallout with the OP’s boss, though, it sounds like management is a problem all the way around at that company.

  24. MLB*

    #3 – sounds to me like they’re trying to get out of paying you unemployment if you’re unable to find a job right away. Unless laws have changed (last time I was laid off was 2008) you usually can’t collect if you quit, but can collect if you’re let go.

    My question is this…what happens if you don’t resign in 3 months? Will they fire you? This just seems bizarre to me. If they’re not eliminating your position, and you haven’t been put on any type of PIP, I don’t understand how they can legally “ask” you to resign?

    1. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      I am puzzled by the unemployment thing too. In most cases in the US, someone who voluntarily resigns will not be eligible for unemployment, and it’s determined by state law. If OP is honest on his/her unemployment claim, he/she wouldn’t be eligible. And the employer has to support or deny that claim, right?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Many states consider being told to resign as the same thing as being fired, because it really is. The terminology being used is semantics; what matters is that you’re being told to leave your job. The key, of course, is that your employer needs to not contradict that account.

        1. Ali G*

          Yes and if at all possible, for the OPs protection, they should have a “separation agreement” with the company that lists, at a minimum, the last day of employment, how the last paycheck will be delivered to the OP, the agreed-to reason for leaving (which qualifies for UE) and a statement that he company will not deny the claim for UE.

    2. Holly*

      The relevant state agency will usually look into this on a case by case basis. If you can explain how your resignation was essentially being fired, you can collect (people who were “constructively fired” e.g. conditions have changed such that they have no choice can collect)

    3. LW #3*

      My employer used to challenge unemployment claims, but it’s so well-known that they tell employees to resign instead of ever firing people that the state told them to knock it off. There are only a handful of cases that I know of where an employee was actually fired: one was part of a felony case for assaulting multiple coworkers, one man snuck into the women’s bathroom after-hours to lick the toilet seats, and one refused to resign after 6 months of being told to.

      My case is a bit confusing, because it isn’t the standard way people are asked to leave. Usually one is put on a PIP, then given a month to leave. (There’s supposed to be a chance that you’ll improve enough during the PIP that you can stay, but in practice I’ve never known that to happen because the PIP is so badly implemented.) Apparently my manager got special permission to give me 3 months to leave instead. I’m grateful for the extra two months and avoiding the stress of the PIP, but it’s definitely weird to be singled out like this and not given a PIP.

      1. SavannahMiranda*

        Whoa…wait WHAT?

        “one man snuck into the women’s bathroom after-hours to lick the toilet seats, and one refused to resign after 6 months of being told to”

        More deets on both please? If you’re comfortable doing so.

        1. LW #3*

          I don’t have many more details about the toilet-seat licking, thank goodness. I think he was walked in on by the janitor? All I know is that he’s the only person to get fired from that department in over 4 years.

          The man who just refused to resign makes a lot of sense on his side. He didn’t want to quit, so he didn’t, and so he got salary for several extra months while they hemmed and hawed about actually firing him. He’ll have to say he was fired, sure, but there’s no chance of the company challenging his unemployment claim. Not sure why the company was so slow to actually cut him loose, but the company works in mysterious ways.

  25. TootsNYC*

    3. I’m still working at the job that fired me

    Our OP wrote this:
    I don’t even have the incentive to continue working to receive a good referral, since by company policy all my manager can do is confirm the dates I worked.

    Don’t lose sight of that referral!
    This may be the company policy, but many managers will break such a policy. Or they go somewhere else and don’t feel obligated to continue to follow the policy (since the company can’t really do anything about it).

    Or, as a former boss of mine did, someone may reach out to your current COLLEAGUES to ask about you.

    So do your best to leave a good impression here at the end. You never know when that will be valuable.

    (I once read dinner-part advice that said, “have a great dessert, bcs people will forget about the appetizers but they’ll remember the last thing they ate”)

  26. Ann Onimous*

    OP #1 How does someone come up with the idea that it’s acceptable to demand compensation from their COWORKERS(!!), essentially for having done their job?? The mind boggles.

    OP #5 While I can totally understand your annoyance at their refusal to disclose their salary range, reminding them, even if nicely about the law, is going to come across as adversarial IMO. Like the rest of commenters said, you probably don’t want to work for them anyway, and the company would probably not want to work for someone who creates “disturbances” even before being hired.
    Again, I’m not saying it’s right that such a thing should happen, but forcing their hand at this point isn’t going to work in your favor.

    1. OP5*

      This is what I was originally thinking, but others have convinced me that I have nothing to lose at this point, for these exact reasons. I’ll mention it in person so I can get the tone of the response (does the manager resent revealing the number, or are they apologetic?)

  27. AdAgencyChick*

    OP4’s boss handled this situation pretty ineptly. Since the boss is the one who was interested in having the employee move, and both OP4 and the employee’s boss report into her, she should have just told OP4’s counterpart, “A spot has just opened on OP4’s team, and I’m thinking about moving Fergus into the role. At the very least, I want Fergus to apply, and we’ll see how he stacks up against the other candidates.” Then, if the manager in the middle has valid objections, she should go ahead and raise them, but if she were pissed at anyone it would be the boss and not OP4.

    1. PieInTheBlueSky*

      I agree. Since it came from OP4’s boos, it was more like a reorganization than a “poaching.” The problem appears to be that OP4’s boss didn’t want to deal with the other difficult manager, and so ducked her own responsibility.

  28. seethingsdifferently*

    Throw your own party! (this is what I am going to do) It can be so much fun to shake things up and make your colleagues feel special. Thank them for being supportive of your career and the things you’ve learned.

    Some good words of wisdom from a wise friend: If you want to be appreciated, do things that people appreciate. If you want to be remembered, do memorable things.

    You will definitely go out with a splash and put some smiles on people’s faces.

    1. TootsNYC*

      This is how I used to handle my birthday at work. I was in charge of organizing potluck b’day celebrations, and I felt comfortable asking for contributions for other people. But I didn’t want to do it for myself–so I brought in the food. Like grade school!

  29. The Other Dawn*

    I agree with Alison’s advice in #1. Keep it consistent and do the same for everyone…everyone who WANTS something done, that is. Some people don’t want anything. I think OP/her company should ask people if they want something, and if they do, it’s cake and punch across the board. That way no one is left with hurt feelings because someone else got dinner out and a gift, rather than just cake and punch. If her coworkers want to do something outside of that, that’s on them.

    I’ve shared this story several times, but I’ll do it again. At a previous company, a woman was leaving for a job at another location within the company. She got the usual cake and refreshments. Her gift was an expensive leather briefcase. Not a $50 briefcase made of whatever cheap material, but real leather and it cost several hundreds of dollars. I left about a year later, maybe a little less, and I got the cake and refreshments and…Walmart bath products. Not only did it make me feel bad, but it also made me wonder if my coworkers were trying to tell me something about my hygiene. (I shower everyday, so I hope not, but one can never be sure.)

    1. LDN Layabout*

      Are the gifts done via collections? That’s how it’s done in my workplace (in fact I can see my envelope resting on my manager’s desk – it must be since I haven’t been asked to sign it XD).

      That’s where it gets iffy I find, because while most people understand someone might elicit more donations, it can still really, really sting.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        From what I remember, which was 10+ years ago, it wasn’t collections. At least, I was never asked for any money for the coworker that left before me. But maybe it was.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          I think if you weren’t asked, it probably wasn’t, at least here it’s very explicit (there will always be a card to be signed and a big envelope for cash).

          I’m sorry they were so obvious in their favouritism/lack of thought.

    2. A username for this site*

      At my last work, it was standard to recognize milestones with a lunchtime cake potluck (work provided cake, the cooking granny types brought other treats.) My boss retired from her full-time salaried role that kept her at work 60 hours a week, but agreed to stay on 3 hours a week to cover some of the classes she’d been teaching because she had a relationship with her adult students.

      Her boss said that, since she would still be present, it did not count as “retiring” and did not give her the lunchtime cake potluck. Also her boss was a gigantic beyotch. Everyone kept asking when the retirement party was planned, and she had to say that there was not one. So everyone gathered together and threw her one…except she’d worked with 3-4 different populations of employees and program participants. So she got 4 retirement parties. I think it was a solid two weeks of parties for her.

      Beyotch Boss tried to deny her any attention and had to put up with a two week long Retirementpalooza.

  30. Skeet Shooter*

    Those jobs with the aggressive listings read like MLM postings on Facebook to me.

  31. Thosetaxreturnswontfilethemselves*

    op#1 – I think how you should handle this will depend on how “co-worker” asked for these things.

    option 1 – You – “Jane, what would you like for your retirement sent off?” Jane: “Lunch/gift/cake/party (bleh, bleh)”
    You – “Jane after review, we don’t have the budget for XX, how about just the cake?” Use Allison’s script.

    Option 2 – Jane: “I’m retiring, I want a lunch and a cake and a gift because OTHER co-worker got those things”
    you – “Jane, we typically just do cake, co-worker was a very rare exception, that won’t be repeated” When would you like your cake/what kind?

    If you asked her, I think you should be more delicate with your “no” but if she’s demanding, I think a matter-of-fact follow up, asking what kind of cake she wants, and leaving it there is appropriate.

    When you have co-worker funded parties, these things just happen. We did wedding/baby showers and got “contributions” to buy a cake/gift. Some would be several hundred dollars, others would barely cover a cake/small gift.

  32. Marthooh*

    #4 – Don’t be surprised if your boss “forgets” to set the matter straight with the other managers.

  33. Nope*

    #1-on what planet is it acceptable to dictate what gifts people give you, especially people you aren’t overly close to? Unbelievable.

  34. AnonyMouse*

    #1- Yeah I think the mistake was made by doing something different for one colleague (my guess is that they were probably well liked). It probably would have been much better to stick to the “we always do cake and punch” celebration or set a per person money limit for the celebration (i.e. $10 per person) to keep it consistent. People catch on when they aren’t being treated equally. On my first day at my current job, the two coworkers took me and another new coworker to lunch. It was nice, but nothing extravagant. Our most recent hire had a potluck on her first day and the whole college was invited to attend.
    #2- More of a funny story, but I had a first round interview this spring that went HORRIBLY! The hiring manager wouldn’t let me finish answering questions, interrupted me, etc. It was going south fast, but at the end of the interview when we were talking about next steps they described their second round interview as “grueling.” I withdrew from that process within 24 hours and they had to repost it!

  35. foolofgrace*

    “We had to change the job posting to make it possible for him to apply, which my boss signed off on.”

    Oh joy — another fake job posting. These really tick me off. Of course, my viewpoint is colored by the fact that I’ve been out of work and job hunting for several months now. I have had some great interviews but no cigar. Grrrrr.

    1. Bananas*

      Hi, letter writer here–we had a very shallow pool of qualified applicants for another opening just a few months prior so expanding the job description to allow for more applicants served more than one purpose.
      Good luck-I hope you find a job in a great company soon!

  36. CanCan*

    #1 – If it’s funded by the employees, the organization shouldn’t be the one mandating how much each person should pay. In the government entity where I work, it’s the other way around: donations are collected in advance (on a voluntary basis: an envelope is passed around with a card), and then the gift/party/etc. is decided on based on the amount. The only exception is taking the person (usually for birthdays, about one outing a month in our group of 10) to lunch: the person’s lunch cost is split among the group, but that works out to maybe $3 per person.

  37. OP #1*

    I have lousy internet connection and can’t sit by the computer but I’ll try to answer some questions.
    First coworker asked for a small dinner with the office and her husband and a few friends. We found out she was getting a lifetime achievement award at a conference the week before her last day. So that’s why we got her the vase, to present at the conference. We didn’t realize how expensive it was going to be until my boss’ husband went to pick it up. Way more than we had anticipated!

    For second coworker we’re planning on cookies and punch. I’m going to get her a nice flowering plant, because we know she likes them. And maybe we’ll do yogurt parfaits for breakfast? She can be a bit demanding. Our office took her out for lunch on her birthday and she’s complaining that she needs a second lunch out because our boss wasn’t in the office that day, and she deserves lunch out by her boss…

    Luckily no one else in our office is close to retirement, so we won’t have to worry about this for awhile!

    1. Holly*

      That just seems like a due diligence issue – shouldn’t whoever is charge of organizing this have a confirmed number of what things will cost before its ordered? Clearly there was a slip up – you can explain it was for the lifetime achievement award, but that really shouldn’t be something that happens again.

      Lunch with her boss is something she can organize with the boss directly, not something that has to involve everyone else.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      She can be a bit demanding. Our office took her out for lunch on her birthday and she’s complaining that she needs a second lunch out because our boss wasn’t in the office that day, and she deserves lunch out by her boss…

      Okay, I’ve lost any sympathy I had for her.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        Yeah, notice that isn’t lunch out WITH the boss she wants, it’s lunch out PAID FOR BY the boss.

  38. tink*

    OP1-We had a coworker surprise retire a few months ago, and made them a cake and bought lunch for the office (there are only 9 of us total). A regular that knew the person was retiring also brought in a cake, so that and some drinks got shared in our conference room for the retiree and guests to mingle in.

    We did basically the same thing when our manager got a new position. Cake, lunch, and punch. (We also usually do a cake for people’s birthdays–my workplace likes food.)

  39. LawLady*

    #3 – I’m surprised by how many people think that soft firings are bad. My last company did soft firings, and I really appreciated knowing that if I wasn’t meeting expectations, I’d be given a heads up and have a chance to job search while still employed (still getting paid and not having a gap in employment, which would allow me to be more choosy), plus avoid having to answer “yes” if asked if I’ve ever been fired.

    At my firm, if you just weren’t working out, your manager would call you into her office and say something along the lines of “LawLady, we really want to help you develop your career in the best way possible. So, if in the next 3-6 months, you need to take some time off for interviews, or some feedback on your resume, or just to talk with me or other managers about what kind of jobs might suit you, we’d like to offer that to you.

    And then you’d know that within 6 months you needed to be gone. But they were really great about being flexible and helping their employees move on gracefully.

    1. LW #3*

      As I mentioned up-thread, my company pretty much only ever does soft firings. I think this was initially to avoid having to pay unemployment, but they’ve given up on challenging unemployment because they’re known for soft firings. As a result, I was actually expecting a PIP followed by a soft firing a month later and was confused by the three-month delay in my resignation.

      A large part of my reaction comes down to my relationship with my current manager and the way she delivered the news. I had a really close relationship with my previous manager, who gave me additional responsibilities and rewarded my taking initiative. When he stepped down a year ago I transferred to my current manager, who seems to always assume the worst of me. If I send her an email, she thinks it is sarcastic. If I question a project’s priority, she assumes I’m trying to get out of work. If I do the same things my previous manager asked me to do, she accuses me of undermining her authority. If I ask her how she wants me to do something, she tells me I should know how to do it already. She stripped my additional responsibilities, and she loses her temper unpredictably. Every time I try to talk with her about the way we communicate, she tells me that she’s always communicated this way and I need to improve my way of communicating.

      After a year of struggling to meet ill-defined expectations such as “improve the perceived quality of your work” and “don’t jump to conclusions about what I want you to do”, she called me into her office to say that I wasn’t meeting basic expectations and that I should pick a resignation date in the next three months and that I should e-mail her the date I’d chosen within the next week. No “we’ll be flexible around your job search” or “come talk to me about jobs that might suit you”, just “leave within three months”. I asked about a PIP and she said she didn’t think it would turn out well, so it wasn’t worth doing.

      So yeah, the hardest part of this whole firing thing has been continuing to meet with her weekly and keep my emotions on lockdown. I’m grateful for the three months of salary to job search, but it’s really awkward to work around the elephant in the room, particularly when my manager cheerfully congratulates me on my 7-year work anniversary a month after she told me to resign.

      1. SavannahMiranda*

        I’m so sorry. This is a beast of a situation. If it’s any comfort at all, at least you have hard evidence this is not you. Your prior manager loved you, rewarded you, expanded your purview, and retained you. Is there any chance that manager is now at a different company, allowing him to give more than just a date-to-date reference? If you haven’t already, definitely reach out to him!

      2. LawLady*

        Yeesh, that sounds terrible. I’m sorry. Sending you lots of good job-finding karma in the hopes that you’re out of there soon.

  40. The Doctor*

    OP #1…

    It often depends on the retirees themselves. When Captain Jack retired from the Tardis County Department of Regeneration, we had a fancy dinner for him at a local restaurant. When Martha and Bill retired, they wanted only lunch parties in the conference room. Rory wanted to go out for drinks after work. Clara wanted nothing at all — and actually announced her retirement AFTER the fact (“Hi, everyone, yesterday was my last day. Love you all.”)!

  41. Jana*

    OP #2: I also see a number job announcements using that kind of language. My favorites are the ones with typos or grammatical errors like this one: “Extreme attention to detail is crucial in this roll!” I don’t apply for jobs with aggressive (sometimes condescending) descriptions, but I am ALWAYS tempted to email them to point out mistakes.

    1. Barbara*

      I think you should email them. There is nothing to lose if you don’t intend to apply.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      The one that got me was a Glassdoor posting for some editing job, and the third paragraph down said something about close attention to detail and “And if you caught the error [singular] above, you’re our kind of editor!” Except, Glassdoor frequently has posting fails that omit formatting and basic punctuation. In that entire post, there wasn’t a single apostrophe in the contractions or semi-colon where they were clearly needed, including at least six instances above the ‘error’ line. Whether it was a GD fail or a company fail, I figured it wasn’t worth responding.

  42. Not Passionate, Just a Mercenary*

    OP#2 I’m seeing a ton of toxic-looking job postings lately too. “Obssession with the thing” as a job requirement. Um, obsessions are unhealthy. Goes right along with “it’s not a job it’s a lifestyle.” Fuck that. Being vegan is a lifestyle. Being an amateur athlete is a lifestyle. Selling my time — my life! — because I need food, shelter, and medicine is not a lifestyle. Job ads are full of similar phrases that are code for “we want a young person who’s immune to burnout and not concerned with relationships or household chores.”

    1. Michaela Westen*

      “who will spend their life at this job for a very low salary and never question this”

  43. Not Passionate, Just a Mercenary*

    OP#2 I’m seeing a ton of toxic-looking job postings lately too. “Obssession with the thing” as a job requirement. Um, obsessions are unhealthy. Goes right along with “it’s not a job it’s a lifestyle.” Duck that. Being vegan is a lifestyle. Being an amateur athlete is a lifestyle. Selling my time — my life! — because I need food, shelter, and medicine is not a lifestyle. Job ads are full of similar phrases that are code for “we want a young person who’s immune to burnout and not concerned with relationships or household chores.”

  44. Regina*

    You could report the employer to the Labor Commissioner at the Department of Labor. They are the agency that oversees that law in California.

  45. Barbara*

    I don’t understand when employers don’t disclose salary (even where that’s not illegal). I hope it’s not a way to pay lower salaries to women…

  46. Canadian Natasha*

    “sensible managers understand that they’re not feudal lords”
    Who’s thinking we have another quote that should be on a t-shirt or crosstitched on a pillow?

  47. Cassie the First*

    Our dept usually pays for a catered lunch – staff and faculty are invited, and the retiree can also invite their family members. The dept is also allowed to give a gift if they want to – I work in a public university so there is a max dollar limit of $400 for retirement gifts (a gift card might be allowable). This is usually what happens when it’s a long-time employee (e.g. over 25+ years of service) that is retiring. We’ve had a couple of retirees who worked for less than 10 years but we still had a lunch for them. I don’t know what the dept would do if it was an employee who worked in our dept for a shorter period of time (say 1 or 2 years). It’s still a retirement, right? The right thing to do would be to have the lunch and give a gift, even though the employee spent most of their career in a different dept.

    A couple of employees opted not to have a lunch when they left (they weren’t voluntarily retiring, so to speak, and they didn’t want some big happy event where people pretended to like each other). For one of the employees, the dept still insisted on buying a cake. I thought that was sad – they wouldn’t even honor her very simple wish.

  48. cataloger*

    I misread #4 as “My coworker is angry that I punched someone from her team” which is quite a bit different.

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