coworker brings food to every meeting, pushing back on daily morning meetings, and more

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

1. Can I ask my coworker to stop bringing food to every meeting?

I work in an open office environment with about 75-100 people on my floor. We have no set lunch period, and many folks eat lunch at desks or bring food to meetings.

I hate the sound of chewing. I can currently hear a colleague slurping coffee from 10 yards away. I realize this is one of my idiosyncrasies that I need to overcome to be successful with colleagues.

One of my colleagues, regardless of the time I set up a meeting, will bring food. Every. Single. Time. I have tried scheduling early meetings — he brings breakfast food. I’ve tried late afternoon meetings — he brings chips. He eats loudly, with his mouth wide open, and speaks with food in his mouth. I’ve recently left a meeting where he consumed an entire salad. He, incredibly, kept putting huge mouthfuls of greens and toppings into his mouth immediately before he would talk. At one point, he had to cover his mouth to catch the food that was coming out and landing on the table while he talked.

How do I politely ask a colleague to not bring food to a meeting? Is there a polite way to curb this behavior? Or, am I out of line? Is this just something I should get over?

I don’t think you’re out of line at being put off by food flying out of his mouth. And depending on the culture of your office and the relationships involved, when he’s talking with mouthfuls of food or otherwise displaying gross table manners, in some cases you could just say, “Dude, cover your mouth! This is gross.”

But beyond that, I don’t think you can ask him not to bring food to a meeting, unless you’re senior to him (but it doesn’t sound like you are) or unless it’s, like, a client meeting that you’re in charge of.

I suppose that if you really want to, for the meetings where it’s just you and him, you could say something like, “Can I ask you a favor? Would you mind holding off on the chips until after we’re done? I find it’s harder to focus otherwise.” Or, “Oh, I didn’t realize you needed to eat! I’d rather wait until you’re done, so I’ll give you 10 minutes and then come back.” But things like lunch meetings are so common that it’s likely to sound a little … precious. Which doesn’t mean you can’t still ask it.

2. Can I push back on daily morning meetings before my usual start time?

I work remotely with a team spread out around the world. This is a big change from my last job, which was unionized. We had to be at our desks at 8:30.

I was excited by the prospect of some flexibility and the first year has been great. I start at 9:00 most days and now and then have an 8:30 meeting. This is a nice perk since I’m really not a morning person. I’ve been so much happier and more productive with this start time!

This week my team started discussing having a daily 8:00 a.m. meeting :(

Since this job did not come with clearly spelled out expectations, I’m not sure whether or not that’s reasonable. How do I know how hard I can push back on this?

It depends on your employer’s culture around work schedules, but in many places where people work flexible hours, it would be fine to just matter-of-factly, “My schedule is generally 9-5:30 (or whatever it is) — would 9 work for people instead?”

Particularly since the proposed meeting would be daily, it should be okay to speak up about this. Otherwise this would essentially erase your flexible schedule. (That said, I wonder if they’re picking 8 a.m. because you’ve got team members around the world, and doing it later on your end would be too late in the day on their end. Still, though, it’s worth speaking up and seeing what the options are.)

Read an update to this letter here.

3. Hiring when I might be leaving very soon myself

I’m hiring to fill a vacant role in my department (my only employee), and also midway through the hiring process myself for a position at another company. Up to this point, I’ve been taking your advice to move forward in my current position as if I’m not leaving, since I might not. But as we get closer to the end of both searches, the timing raises some issues.

If I stay, my preference is for an entry-level candidate who can grow in the role. If I leave, my employer might prefer a more experienced candidate who could better support the new person in my role. They might also prefer to put the search on hold so my replacement could have a say in hiring their only employee. There’s no way I can verify that without alerting them to the fact I’m considering leaving, which could make things very uncomfortable if I don’t leave. I think the only solution there is to continue on as if I was staying. If the company isn’t happy with the result, well, that’s the natural consequence of setting up an environment where I’m unable to discuss professional growth. Which is, of course, one of the main reasons I’m thinking of leaving.

Which brings me to the thing really bothering me. I may be in the position of finishing my own hiring before I know whether I’m getting an offer. For the entry-level candidates I’m interviewing, the fact I possess a specific license means that the experience they get in this position will qualify them for that license. There’s probably a 25% chance that someone hired to replace me would have that license, so me being in this role is a key decision factor for at least some of these candidates. I can’t delay the hiring process more than a couple days without raising eyebrows, see above.

The company I’m interviewing with isn’t going to care that delaying another week or two would impact the career of a random third party new grad, so the question is, would it ever be appropriate to tell someone, as part of a job offer, that you, the manager extending the offer, may be leaving the company shortly? To even hint at it? Maybe a vague, “the company is in a period of transition, so it’s possible that I may not be your direct supervisor for the time period necessary to get your required experience.” Or is this one of those, “it is what it is” things, and I need to accept any unfortunate results for the person I’m hiring are beyond my control?

Yep, sometimes the timing on this stuff just doesn’t work out. It would be great if you could give your employer a heads-up that you’re planning to leave so that they could tweak the role you’re hiring in light of that knowledge, but they haven’t made it safe for you to do that, so that can’t happen. That’s not the worst thing in the world; sometimes that’s just how this stuff goes. (That said, you could think about whether there’s a way for you to nudge them more toward the profile of candidate you’ll think they’ll want later on, without compromising your own plans.)

But I agree with you that the bigger worry is how it might affect the person you’re hiring, if being supervised by someone with your particular license is a key reason they’d accept the job. I think your proposed language about things being in transition is good, making sure to be really explicit that you not necessarily being their manager for the time needed to get their license requirements in. Alternately, depending on how much you want to put your trust in a stranger, you could level with them about the situation, stressing that it’s confidential for now and you’re sharing it only so they can make the right decision for themselves. There’s obviously some risk to that though (especially if you end up not leaving after all).

Also, if you end up hiring someone and then accepting a job yourself before that person starts, it would be a kindness to contact them right away to let them know, and to use language like, “If this changes your calculus about accepting the job, since my replacement may not have an X license, I’d completely understand that.”

4. Is my boss unethically accepting double reimbursement?

I work as an admin for a C-level executive in a very prominent tech company. Being an assistant is not my long-term goal but this job is cushy, so I am mostly enjoying it despite having to do what I feel is often menial work. One of the tasks I have grown to hate is handling the customer service complaints when my boss’s travel goes awry.

Four months ago, he traveled internationally and when his flight home was cancelled he had to book a new one. Our company immediately reimbursed him for the costs of the second booking but he still had me file a complaint and request for reimbursement with the airline. Given that it’s now four months later, you can assume this ongoing process has been quite tedious, but I achieved getting him a small portion of the requested refund for him; he’s asked me to continue pursuing the rest.

My question comes from the concern he does not intend to give the money the airline reimburses him back to our company. If he did intend to do so I would know, as he would be asking ME to handle it as well. Therefore he’s basically seeking to be reimbursed twice. After yet another fruitless attempt to contact the airline, I phrased to him the question, “Since our company already fully reimbursed you without any trouble, do you need me to continue to pursue this?” He said yes. That was my attempt to point out the potential ethical gray area he’s entered, and I don’t intend to push it further with him since he generally takes “following the rules” very seriously.

My question is whether this is unethical. It seems like stealing money from the company if you asked to be reimbursed from both parties. However since he spent his own money up front (which is not a requirement but his preference, to earn the credit card rewards) I don’t know whether he would be owed more reimbursement based on principal or what. It just SEEMS wrong, based on math.

In most cases, yes, getting reimbursed twice would be unethical. Any reimbursement he gets from the airline would rightfully be your company’s. That said, if he incurred a tremendous amount of personal inconvenience due to the cancelled flight — like if he had to sleep in the airport or missed a personal event of great importance or something like that — your company might be fine with seeing this as a sort of hardship pay for him … but that’s a decision that they should make themselves; he shouldn’t make it for him.

If the airline reimburses any additional money, you could just say to him, “Since the company already reimbursed this, how should I handle the double payment? Should we transfer the airline’s refund over to the company?” In other words, approach it as a given that of course he’s not going to double dip and see what happens.

5. How binding should a contingent job offer be?

It’s not unusual for job offers to be contingent on stuff like background checks. My question is how “binding” acceptance of a contingent offer should be. For example, what if you accept a contingent job offer and another offer comes in while you’re waiting on the background check to clear?

I’d argue that if the company hasn’t fully committed to you, you shouldn’t be bound to fully commit to them. However, most companies assume that someone who accepts a contingent offer has really accepted it and isn’t going to consider other offers, and will be annoyed if you do. In other words, they consider your acceptance binding (or as binding as anything that isn’t a legal contract can be) while theirs isn’t. Their thinking is that they’ve laid out the very limited circumstances under which they’d pull the offer (i.e., if you fail the background check, not just if a better candidate comes along). But I’d argue that if they want full commitment from you while not offering it themselves, they should complete the background check before they make a formal offer — and if they don’t, then they have no ground to stand on if you take something else before they release your contingencies.

The short version: I think you’re fine ethically and morally to accept another offer while the contingencies from your first offer are still pending … but the employer may not see it the same way.

{ 419 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, there’s also the possibility that he needs to eat for medical or other reasons. I’m not saying this to speculate about why your coworker eats, but rather, to clarify that bringing food/eating might not be inherently wrong in light of your office culture.

    So I agree with Alison that you have to focus on the etiquette issues, like the open-mouthed chewing and speaking while chewing. You could gently take him aside and let him know that it’s difficult to understand what he’s saying when he’s speaking with food in his mouth, or that you’re finding it distracting that he’s open-mouthed chewing. I think you can also ask him to try to limit “noisy” foods (e.g. chips) in exchange for “quieter” foods (e.g., salad, yogurt), with the rationale that the “noisy” foods are distracting.

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      One of the things OP complains about him eating is a salad, though.
      For me, it’s his eating things like crisps that take it into the territory of being odd in any workplace (except a snack food company) and also point away from it being a medical issue.
      I’ve always thought of a lunch meeting being a meeting where everyone has lunch, not just one person. I can really imagine the dynamics of the meeting being changed like this.
      Possible reasonable explanations could be that he’s in back to back meetings all day without a lunchbreak or otherwise has to work without stopping for the rest of the day.
      Maybe OP could ask something like ‘We always seem to be scheduling meetings during your meal and snack breaks. Is there a time we could schedule them for that would mean that you wouldn’t have to be eating during them?’ And then lead into the conversation about the meetings being less productive.

      1. Kay*

        He might just be one of those people who grazes throughout the day instead of eating meals, and because there’s no scheduled lunch break people take the office is generally okay with it instead of the OP

        1. Jen*

          I have worked at many offices where the norm is to eat at your desk or in meetings, including scheduling long over-lunch hour meetings. Which is such a pain if you then don’t bring food and have to eat way late (especially when the meeting is running late for inane reasons).

          It does seem to be this coworker’s total lack of manners that seem to be the issue. I think a little bit of “We can wait until you are finished chewing”, slightly blunt but not outright “ewww” might do the trick here. I can’t see how others aren’t totally grossed out by him too.

          1. Kay*

            Yeah I agree that OP should focus on the manners and not the eating assuming it’s within office norms

            1. OP*

              OP Here – you guys are totally right. its not the food, its just the manners. I’ve been reading through the comments and I like hearing the different perspectives. My biggest takeaway, I think, is that I need to be kind but direct. I can’t be passive aggressive or just get frustrated. I really like the idea of asking when an ideal time when he would like to meet is – instead of “during his meal time”.
              Thank you – all!

              1. GreenDoor*

                It’s not uncommon in my workplace to eat during meetings….however, unless it’s the whole team eating a meal together while they work, the common practice (and, quite frankly, the mannerly thing to do) is to say, “I’ve got back to back meetings that day. Would you mind if I ate while we talked?” Or “That’s close to my break time and I’m a crab if I don’t eat regularly. Can we grab a snack in the cafeteria and chat there?”

                I mean these eaters should be showing other meeting participants the courtesy of asking if it’s OK – and then honoring the wishes of those who say the prefer no food in a meeting. Manners, people!!

              2. Database Developer Dude*

                I’m going to disagree, OP. I eat during meetings too, but I don’t do the things that your guy is doing. You can be direct, but I wouldn’t be kind. Grown-ass adults should know not to do the things your guy is doing while he eats.

        2. Snark*

          Kay, can you explain to me why you’re striving so mightily to find some explanation for his behavior? We can’t possibly know. We can’t possibly guess. And even if we could, does it change the advice Alison gave? No, not one whit.

          I understand your heart is in the right place, but this is the advice column fanfic, “let’s speculate about any possible illness, disability, unfortunate personal circumstances, or problematic social dynamics that could possibly inform this scenario, no matter how unlikely” dynamic that feels like it has completely taken over the comments of late.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yes — I’d really like any speculation on facts not in the letter to be accompanied by an explanation of how that affects your advice for the OP (as often it doesn’t). New commenting rules are coming soon that will include this.

            1. Hiring Mgr*

              I’m probaby in the minority here, but as a reader I don’t mind the speculation/derailment that can happen… It seems like there are always plenty of legitimate answers even if things go off on a tangent, and you can always collapse replies.. And for me, sometimes the derailing is as interesting as the main topic of the letter…but I get the point, Just my 2 cents.

              1. Anon for this (again)*

                Derailments can be interesting, but excessive derailments – or derailments for derailments’ sake – can limit enjoyment of the comments section.

                I really like Alison’s framing here: Want to speculate? Fabulous! Just make sure to include how it’s relevant and what different, actionable advice you’d offer instead. (key word: actionable).

                1. Snark*

                  Yeah – does this speculation a) plausibly and probably fill in a gap in the OP’s, or our, understanding of the situation and b) is it actionable or otherwise change the advice given in a useful way. Note that “wellllll the OP might want to keep {wildly speculative factor} in mind as a possibility” is not really actionable.

        3. Grazer*

          I graze all day, but eating in meetings is the exception, not the rule. That said, I am in a role that doesn’t have meetings all that often. In fact the exceptions tend to happen when I somehow end up with 3 or 4 hours of meetings back to back. In which case, when am I supposed to eat? If the OP’s cow-orker is in a role that requires that many meetings on a daily basis, there might not be time between meetings for his snacks.

          Also, if you schedule a meeting anywhere near noon, you take the risk of one or more people eating lunch there.

      2. Mystykyn*

        Misophonia is a condition involving acute sensitivity to sound and apparently the most common trigger – some 80% of cases – is the sound of eating. Certainly under the UK’s extreme equality laws it would be regarded as a disability requiring adjustments. Is it worth exploring this?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’m going to ask that we not armchair diagnose the OP. (I also suspect that misophonia wouldn’t rise to the level of ADA protection in the U.S., but I don’t want us to derail on this.)

          1. Wanda*

            My husband’s aunt got a partial work from home accommodation from her company for misophonia. It’s a job that could be done entirely from home, but her company is big on facetime for everyone. I’m not saying that that will always happen, but it happened for her.

        2. Snark*

          Honestly, even if she does have misophonia, and even if it triggered ADA protections (which it probably does not,) I think she’d come off very badly indeed if she tried to invoke a disability to police someone’s meeting eating.

        3. Bambam*

          Good god do I have this but I’m in the UK and this is (as far as I’m aware..?) not part of our ‘extreme’ equality laws…I’ve had many conversations with colleagues about it but it’s still kind of a joke subject like ‘haha s/he’s like super sensitive so dont eat that *loud, open mouthed, crunchy* snack during her telecom cause s/he will tell you to knock it off! What a killjoy!’

          I also don’t mean to sound snarky but are our equality laws ‘extreme?’ (Also not wishing to derail!), and as an aside from that, I’m kinda sure misophonia isn’t considered worth of ADA level adjustments in workplaces, and I work in government sector where they loooove to be super on top of those kinda things!

      3. JustMe*

        My registered dietician told me to eat chips/crisps to address some medical issues I was having. You can’t judge people’s food based on what is healthy for you. You don’t know what other people have going on.

        1. Cambridge Comma*

          I said ‘point away from’ not ‘prove that’. I’m not judging the food, just that it isn’t very appropriate for a meeting so if someone really couldn’t eat the crisps ten minutes before the meeting instead of during it, then they might want to offer an explanation/apology for it.

      4. Observer*

        His choice of foods says nothing about whether he has a medical need or not.

        The bottom line is that the OP doesn’t know why CW is doing this, but there is a significant possibility that it really is necessary. On the other hand, the bad manners aside – which IS a genuine problem – the fact that he actually eats at meetings is not something that is inherently wrong. This is very much the OP’s personal issue. It’s tricky enough to ask someone to ask someone to change their behavior to accommodate what sounds like a personal quirk. It gets exponentially harder if there is some sort of medical (or medical adjacent) need involved.

    2. Les G*

      I don’t think we need to speculate on why the OP’s coworker is always eating during meetings. And frankly, I’m not aware of a medical condition that requires someone to be eating *at every moment*, so there’s no reason Alison’s “I’ll come back” script wouldn’t work (though it may make OP seem odd). OP needs to be direct and not passive-agressively act like she considers this guy some sort of derelict for eating in the office, but she should do this regardless of cause.

          1. Kay*

            Well it can be as frequent as 20 minutes but I think it’s more likely the co-worker just happens to be eating when there’s a meeting not that he’s literally eating every second he’s as work

            1. Nym changed for this comment*

              And as someone who has an undiagnosed medical condition at the moment which has landed me in hospital by ambulance more than once, no-one knows what the cause is but I have medical support that ‘eating right now’ while we are trying to get a diagnosis (and it’s not the blood sugar levels) is alleviating the symptoms and I have been ambulance free for 2 months. I even had a concussion from falling over light headed. It’s not all black and white and every X number of minutes / hours etc especially when they don’t even know what’s causing it.

              I agree this may not be the case on this occasion. But neither is it helpful when people chip in on medical issues that even Drs can’t work out (so thanks Kay! :) BTW I work for a multinational and have been working from home for 3 months with no problems since symptoms first cropped up (first ambulance trip). They have been awesome at flexibility and had no issue with Drs saying ‘we don’t know what it is, but these things will helps so better to work from home.) I’m also not medically allowed to drive due to sudden and random onset of stuff.

              To get back to OP, if this is affecting you so much, another option might be to see if you can do phone or IM type meetings? Do you actually need face to face meetings?

              1. Julia*

                I’m very sorry for your medical issue, that sounds tough.
                I understand people having to eat something very frequently, but the issue here seems to be a) the kinds of food OP1’s co-worker consumes and b) the way he eats them (and eating them right before he wants to speak). Chips aren’t quiet food to begin with, and then chewing them with his mouth open doesn’t improve the situation. Surely there’s something else co-worker could be eating instead? And with his mouth closed as well.

                1. Observer*

                  but the issue here seems to be a) the kinds of food OP1’s co-worker consumes and b) the way he eats them (and eating them right before he wants to speak).

                  That’s actually not the case, though. Yes, these things ARE a problem and they are clearly making things worse for the OP. But the OP is clear that they also just have a problem with the sound of people eating. Notice what they say about the colleague 10 yards away “slurping” their coffee. Also that the coworker brought “breakfast type” foods – most of which are not especially noisy.

                  The OP has two problems here. The terrible manners and noisy foods are one problem, and I think Alison’s scripts here are perfect. The issue of just objecting to bringing food at all? The OP needs to back off there.

                2. Julia*

                  She said he’s eating chips in some meetings, which are pretty noisy, and that he shoves salad into his mouth before speaking, spraying his food everywhere.
                  I agree that she can’t tell him not to eat a sandwich or curry or whatever, but she can probably tell him to swallow first.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            I’m thinking the meetings are a time he uses his hands less, since there is more talking and less typing. And coworker isn’t registering that it’s a time he uses his mouth more, so not actually the ideal time to efficiently pack in some more nutrients.

        1. Myrin*

          That’s not what Les is saying, though – he said “at every moment” (i. e. literally always) which, from the OP, sounds pretty accurate.

        2. Les G*

          I’m familiar with hypoglycemia, but I’ll thank you to point out where I said there are no medical conditions that require people to eat *at frequent intervals.*

        3. Snark*

          It doesn’t matter. Even assuming the need to eat at frequent intervals, you can space it out so you’re a) not doing it during a meeting or b) eating/drinking something that isn’t messy like salad or potato chips.

          1. Specialk9*

            Agree with b, but some jobs are laden with meetings. I easily have 8 meetings a day, and happily (we get stuff done). Without mute for munching, I’d be screwed.

      1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        I wonder if he’s bringing food to help him focus? It gives him something to do, so he can pay attention better – like the girl not too long ago that always had ‘slime’ in meetings. I know when I have something to eat in a meeting (when food is provided) it’s easier to stay engaged and not fidget.

    3. she's a maniac*

      Come on now. It’s extremely unlikely that this guy is always eating in meetings because of a medical issue (and I’m not sure what you mean by “or other reasons”), especially given that the letter writer has tried scheduling the meetings at a variety of times. And I don’t really understand what the potential “medical or other reasons” mentioned have to do with the office’s culture?

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        What do the reasons matter when the core advice was to focus on the bad behavior instead of the existence or consumption of food?

        1. she's a maniac*

          They don’t. However you brought them up, despite saying you didn’t want to speculate. Anyway, I just didn’t really follow your connection between ‘medical or other reasons’ and the office’s culture.

    4. HeyAnonnyNonnyNo*

      I know ‘but but but medical condition!’ is the stock response to all crappy behaviour on here, but I really don’t think there are any conditions which require you to talk with your mouth full. The coworker’s continous eating would probably be less of a problem if he had any manners.

      1. Basic Anonny*

        Thank you! It is the stock answer around here. And then the “accommodations” talk. This guy eats like a caveman. That’s what he needs to be called out on. Not everything is a medical condition. Most aren’t.

        1. Jen*

          Doesn’t sound like OP wouod be so annoyed if it weren’t for his horrible manners.

          There is no medical condition that necessitates talking with your mouth full and spitting salad pieces out on a table.

        2. Snark*

          Yes! Whatever possible reason might be informing it is irrelevant. All OP can do is say, “Hey, Barry, can you finish chewing before you finish that thought?” or something similar. She is a coworker, a peer, not a manager, not his spouse, not a doctor, not Emily friggin’ Post. Her agency here is limited.

        3. Courageous cat*

          Yep. I find myself saying this a lot all over the internet. Yes, it could be a mental/physical disorder/disease/etc, but guess what – most of those are uncommon to downright rare, and people love to play up the possibility of a pretty uncommon disease/disorder being the cause of things. It’s just not the simplest or most likely explanation and rarely worth exploring in such detail.

          1. Zweisatz*

            Also you can have a medical condition and still have MANNERS. I need not eat regularly and sometimes a meeting nears, so I’ll ask people if they’d rather postpone, bring soft foods and mute myself in calls.
            So I entirely concur: this is not about what hypothetical underlying condition is driving the behavior.

      2. Observer*

        There are two different issues here.

        Talking with your mouth full? Hard no. The OP does have standing to say something. And no one is talking about medical possibilities regarding that part of it, either.

        Eating during meetings? That’s hardly “crappy behavior”. It’s something the OP doesn’t like, but they clearly have an issue. I’ll give them credit that they realize that at least some of it is on them – They specifically say that they realize that they are going to have to learn to deal with the sound of “a colleague slurping coffee from 10 yards away”.

        Now, the OP definitely CAN ask the CW to choose quieter foods because the noise is distracting. But that’s pretty much the limit in a company where bringing food to meetings is normal.

      3. AKchic*

        Thank you.

        I had a roommate who liked to claim that chewing with her mouth open was a medical condition. It really wasn’t. She just overfilled her mouth with every bite.
        Add in the burbling, orgasmic moans, snuffling/snorting sounds because she could barely breathe while she chewed and occasional grunts… yeah, I didn’t dine with her often. She was an older version of my little sister, minus the purposely loud burps (oh, don’t make me describe my younger sister’s eating habits, it makes me want to get very violent, very quickly).

        I swear, I seem to attract all of the weird eaters. I have a list of people I won’t dine with because of their, ah… quirks.

      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I’m confused about your frustration because I literally wrote what you just said. I said that getting rid of food during meetings may not make sense because of ~reasons~, but that the reasons don’t matter because OP can and should focus on the manners problems.

        1. Katey*

          Sure, but you first paragraph is about possible reasons for this guys behaviour – you say you don’t want to speculate but then do so – that is what people are responding to. If you didn’t want the reasons issue to be part of the discussion, then why … make it part of the discussion? You are a frequent commenter here, you know how these comment sections go and how easy it is to derail on something.

          (I think my other comment got swallowed – sorry if there is a double post)

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            From my perspective, there’s been a significant uptick in sniping between the commenters, and that sniping is often uncharitable and based on an incomplete reading (or assumptions made based on a skewed reading) of one another’s comments.

            This is why I find it so frustrating when folks read one sentence, react to only that sentence, and ignore literally the entire content of someone’s comment. It’s a good reminder for me to reframe how I lead into a statement, but the overall increase in derailment and sniping is extremely frustrating, likely for everyone. Personally, I’m finding it bewildering, unkind, and extraordinarily uncharitable when subcomments fail to engage with the substance of my comment in order to pillory me for some other perceived failing.

    5. Decima Dewey*

      I do have a medical condition that means I have to eat regularly, and a job that sometimes can’t accommodate that. I deal. If I have a meeting elsewhere and I know lunch won’t be served (or the refreshments will be something I shouldn’t eat), I grab something *before* the meeting and hope the effect on my blood sugars isn’t too bad. I carry glucose tablets in case my blood sugars drop. And I wear a dog tag with DIABETES on a chain around my neck, so people I work with and/or the paramedics know what to do if I end up unconscious (hasn’t happened yet).

      What I don’t do is show up with kielbasa with sauerkraut and a bottle of water at the meeting, eat the kielbasa with a plastic fork, and talk with my mouth full.

      1. Observer*

        You know, I think that any adult can be expect to use reasonable manners in how they eat, regardless of medical issues.

        But, expecting people to carry glucose tablets around (or similar measures) to accommodate meetings is a bit much. ESPECIALLY since eating at meetings is the norm at this company!

        1. Arielle*

          Well, I’m going to push back on that a little. If I have a pre-lunch meeting and I think my blood sugar might drop in the 11-12 hour, I absolutely put glucose tablets in my pocket. I think for people who have conditions where glucose tablets are a necessity, that’s a pretty normal thing to do.

          1. Observer*

            Well, obviously, if you are going to be somewhere where you really can’t eat, you should have the glucose tablets. But when eating is not an issue, it’s ridiculous to expect it.

            The OP says that eating in meetings is normal in this culture. Even if it’s not the norm, there are lots of meetings where it’s just not that big of a deal and it shouldn’t be made a big deal of or treated like some bizarre and outlandish thing.

            To repeat – I am ONLY talking about actually eating, not about the bad manners. No one needs to talk with a full mouth.

      2. Former Employee*

        “What I don’t do is show up with kielbasa with sauerkraut and a bottle of water at the meeting, eat the kielbasa with a plastic fork, and talk with my mouth full.”

        I did laugh out loud. Thank you.

    6. Dr. Pepper*

      It really doesn’t matter WHY he’s bringing food to every meeting and eating it. He may have a medical condition. He may just see meetings as a really good meal/snack time and act accordingly.

      What matters here is that he is being obnoxious about eating at meetings with his poor manners. Frankly he’s behaving like an over-eager child who wants to tell you all about their day while stuffing their mouth with food. If you’re going to speak up, make it about the loud noises he’s making and the talking with his mouth full (and dribbling food while he does it??). He will likely be oblivious to the first line of defense, so to speak, of pointed stares and disgusted looks on colleague’s faces. I would calmly and politely ask him to finish his bite before speaking, each and every time. This may be a war of attrition type situation. Annoy him enough and he may get the message. If we were one on one I would flat out ask him not to save his food for after the meeting. Unless of course he’s really senior to you or levels above you. If so, you may just have to grin and bare it.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I feel like folks are only reading the first paragraph of what I wrote and ignoring everything else, which was entirely about the manners problems.

    7. Annoyed*

      I dislike the excusing everyone for every douchy behavior because “s/he might be/have XYX…” thing.

      Sometimes people are just ill-mannered and inconsiderate. Sometimes people are just assholes with no “but, but, but whatabout…” possibilities.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        What douchey behavior am I excusing? I said he may have to eat food, but he doesn’t have to breach etiquette norms and might be able to find foods that are less noisy but still meet whatever his needs are. And then I gave concrete advice to OP about how to address the etiquette issues.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    Wait, I’m confused re: #4. OP, when the flight was canceled, was his ticket refunded? If not, isn’t he still out for the cost of the original flight? If so, then I don’t think there’s anything unethical about his approach, except that he should probably double check whether it’s appropriate for him to use your work (on company time and payroll) to field a work-related issue that ultimately is about his personal finances.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Since the OP is talking about him being reimbursed twice and she says the company immediately reimbursed him for the cost of the new flight (and presumably had already paid for the first one), I read it as him seeking a refund from the airline for the new flight (thus double dipping).

      1. Kay*

        The wording confused me as well. it seemed to me as if the company reimbursed him for the flight of the second trip and he wants the airline to reimburse me for the original trip

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          That wouldn’t be in any way unethical though and I don’t think the OP would worry about that, since her concern seems to be that any refund would mean he was being reimbursed twice.

          1. Kay*

            I guess I was wondering considering my confusion is it possible the LW and her boss are talking about different flights, but it’s probably just the wording.

            1. Not A Morning Person*

              This sounds confusing to me , too. There were two flights. The original flight got cancelled. Then the boss booked a different flight to get back. If the OP’s boss paid for his first flight that got cancelled and he had to book a second flight, it sounds like boss’s company immediately reimbursed for that second flight, what happens to the expense for the first flight? Did the airline already refund for that one, because it was cancelled? Or is the OP’s boss still waiting for the airline to reimburse for the first one? Which one is boss asking the airline to pay for?

              1. OP4*

                The expense for the first flight was immediately reimbursed, before he went on the trip. Then, when he got back, the company immediately reimbursed him for the cost of a second flight. So technically, by seeking reimbursement from the airline (which very well is partially rooted in principal) he’s seeking more money than he spent.

        2. OP4*

          For clarification: the original flight WAS reimbursed, before the trip itself took place. Therefore the ethical dilemma is exactly as AAM Alison has interpreted it: technically the boss has already been reimbursed for every cost he incurred, so should he be seeking supplementary reimbursement from the airline, knowing his expenses have already been evened out? Methinks not and I’ll do my best to use her suggested phrasing when this comes up next.

          1. Cassie the First*

            I feel like this was the starting plotline of a novel I read, The Assistants – where the main character’s boss got reimbursed from the company for an airplane ticket, but (I think) then asked his assistant, the main character, to request the airline company refund/comp the ticket. The assistant does manage to get the refund from the airline company and is in an ethical dilemma over what to do with the refund check (spoiler alert, she ends up “borrowing” it to pay off her student loans, and then turns skimming travel reimbursements into a whole operation).

            I would say it is definitely double-dipping. If the boss insists on getting a refund from the airline company (maybe for the principle of the thing) – fine, but the money should go right back to the company. I’d say it’s probably not the best use of the OP’s time, though (and would hope the boss would just let it go).

      2. cchrissyy*

        since the LW specified it was international, I wonder if we’re talking about the EU passenger protection laws.

        In that case, it sounds entirely proper to me that the company would pay for the flights but that he, the individual, would be the rightful recipient of the EU payment, which is a penalty for airlines that fail to meet their version of a passenger bill of rights, paid directly to the inconvenienced individuals.

        1. The Other Katie*

          This was my thought too. The EU flight compensation rules aren’t about expense compensation (which is covered separately), but about passenger inconvenience.

        2. President Porpoise*

          Yeah, if the guy is due a refund for a cancelled flight under law (EU or US) then there is nothing wrong in my book with demanding that payment and not giving any of it to the employer. The same would apply if he was involuntarily bumped and given the cash payout that is required by law and airline policy.

          Hold airlines to account if they fail to meet their legal and contractual obligations. The payment is legally the traveler’s and it’s not unethical for him to keep it. However, it’s probably unethical for him to have his assistant pursue it on work time.

    2. Just Employed Here*

      Yeah, I was wondering about the original flight as well: was that one paid directly by the company, or did the by that himself (since OP mentioned he likes to earn the reward points)? If he paid for both flights, he should be reimbursed for both.

      And technically, the airline shouldn’t be let off the hook just because his employer didn’t seem to mind reimbursing him. Based on the very limited information here, they are the ones who screwed up, not his employer.

      Which of course still doesn’t mean he should be reimbursed more than he spent, *unless* its been OK’d by the employer (which might be the case — maybe he just hasn’t mentioned it?).

      1. Kay*

        Yeah I was thinking maybe he’s actually pushing it for the principle because the airline refuse to refund him after having to pay for a new flight

      2. OP4*

        The expense for the first flight was immediately reimbursed, before he went on the trip. Then, when he got back, the company immediately reimbursed him for the cost of a second flight. So technically, by seeking reimbursement from the airline (which very well is partially rooted in principal) he’s seeking more money than he spent. Your last sentence is possible but I HIGHLY doubt it for the basic fact that I’m “in charge” of all his finances as they have to do with the company (ie: he’d have had me ask about that).

        1. CAconsultant*

          My take on this (as someone who travels a lot) is that the company should reimburse him for both flights (and did) — but that anything else he seeks to get from the airline would be totally okay IF HE WAS THE ONE DOING THE WORK TO GET IT. (and apologies if someone said this somewhere else – didn’t really get through all the comments). By having you spend your time and energy, he’s using company resources to obtain the additional reimbursement. If he did it himself on his own time — I’d say hes totally entitled to keep it.

          That said, I have no idea how I’d handle this if I were you. I like Alison’s reply — but its also possible that may piss him off and cause strain on the working relationship (it should’t because using you to get that $$ is totally shady) but still… Do you like working for him apart from this issue? If so, I’d personally just stop trying so hard, tell him you weren’t getting anywhere and it didn’t seem like the right use of your time at this point.

    3. Worker Bee*

      Refunds are issued if a flight is canceled. This guy wants his new flight covered because of his inconvenience.

      1. Kate R*

        Yes, this. Since the airline cancelled the flight, they would have either tried to re-book him or refund him for the original flight. I don’t think they are allowed to charge a customer for a flight they themselves canceled. The boss is trying to get compensated for his inconvenience, which is probably why the OP is stuck struggling with the airline over the refund, because, while I know the laws differ, airlines are not always required to provide that.

    4. Anon Today Anon Tomorrow*

      Flight refunds are almost always tied to the ticketed passenger. I suspect a refund would most likely be a credit of some type with the airline (versus a check). So even if the OP’s boss wanted to send back the credit to his employer he couldn’t as the airline simply won’t do that.

      We’ve tried where we’ve worked to get refunds for flights booked for employees that departed, and we’ve never been successful. Once the flight is booked the credit belongs to the ticketed passenger. So I guess some of this depends on what the refund looks like. To me if it’s not a cash refund then it’s not crossing the ethics line.

      1. Kate R*

        I think this might depend on the reason for the refund though. If the passenger cancels their reservation, airlines will often just give you a credit for another ticket (under that passenger’s name), but if the airline cancels your flight, I think they have to refund your money (or tend to, I don’t know the law). But even then, the refund will likely come in the form of a credit to his credit card (since he purchased it), so, while I personally think the boss is being shady, I don’t think the OP is in a place to do anything about it. If she’s successful in getting the full refund, it will just be put back on his credit card, so there will be nothing for her to process.

      2. OP4*

        The airline is actually depositing cash into the passenger’s (my boss’s) account, which is why this whole situation has me feeling…. iffy.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I don’t think pursuing a refund is inherently wrong or unethical (there’s all sorts of policies about compensation owed to the flyer for the inconvenience of a cancelled flight, even if the cost of the flight is covered). But I do think it’s problematic that he’s asking to use your time to secure that refund. Given that this is no longer a business expense issue, but rather, a request for remuneration for the delay, I think it’s on him to seek his own compensation instead of using you to do it.

        2. Elton John*

          Based on what you’ve written, I agree completely with the way your boss is asking you to handle this. The airline must be punished for canceling the flight, so refunding the ticket is necessary. Your boss isn’t required by his job description to deal with these matters — that’s what YOU get paid for. My finding: Your boss is behaving 100% ethically and you should not suggest, in even the mildest way, that he should pay the company anything.

          1. PersonalJeebus*

            I think I agree the OP should not say anything more at this point. Some commenters have said it’s the boss’s use of his workplace assistant (and therefore company resources) to get reimbursed that is the problem. There’s some logic in that argument, but I still wouldn’t bring it up if I were in the OP’s shoes. He’s a C-level executive who likely doesn’t have time to deal with tasks like this, and he may view his executive assistant as a sort of personal assistant whose job is to help him with things he has no time for. OP, has he ever asked you to help out with personal tasks, like shipping a Christmas gift to his nephew, picking up his dry cleaning, or scheduling his dental appointments?

            I doubt we would find it unethical for him to ask this of a personal assistant whom he employs for help with his life tasks outside work. If the OP functions as that sort of helper at least some of the time, then it’s not so crazy for the boss to want to fold this obnoxious chore into her duties.

            OP–I get why you feel weird, but you’re better off not pushing back or questioning this any more than you already have. You’ve already asked for and been given explicit instructions to do this, so if the company does someday decide he’s behaved unethically or violated their policies, your ass will be covered; you were acting on his direct instructions. And it’s most certainly not your job to coach him on his own ethical obligations. Right or wrong, this decision is on him.

    5. Mary*

      I would clarify what to do with the refund, but not with an insinuation-laden “Since the company already reimbursed this” statement. I personally would not burn social capital on a situation like this.

  3. Lissa*

    I was all ready to roll my eyes at the person wanting to ask for no food at meetings but that description… eek it sounds vile!! I still think you can’t really ask for it. But could say something about the open mouth etc maybe? Probably not normal eating sounds. I hate them too but i don’t think there is a way to stop it without coming off as controlling or extremely high maintenance…

    1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      If the LW is running the meeting (because she is the one scheduling them) then she could try cutting this guy off when she starts speaking with his mouth full. “Let’s get back to Bob once he’s swallowed his food – Tracy, do you have any thoughts on this?” Very matter of fact. Act like you’re doing him a favor, but also call it out and maybe he will catch on? Or would that be mean? I’ve had good results using this on a coworker that you have to publicly call out to get through with, so my perception may be skewed.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        Someone who brings chips to a meeting is likely beyond the point of picking up on such subtleties.

        1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          Then you just keep doing it. Never let him talk if he has food in his mouth. Either he gets it and he stops talking with food in his mouth and he doesn’t and never gets to talk. One way or the other you don’t have to see him talk with food in his mouth.

          1. Quackeen*

            Yup, be consistent, insistent and persistent and he’ll either change or just never get his time to speak.

          2. Dr. Pepper*

            Yup. War of attrition. Make it annoying enough for him to talk with his mouth full and eventually he may decide to stop. Like animal training, make the wrong thing hard/annoying/uncomfortable and make the right thing easy/pleasant. Cut him off each and every time he tries to talk with his mouth full, in a calm and matter of fact tone. Allow him to speak uninterrupted when his mouth is empty. Every time. Every. Single. Time.

        2. spock*

          What’s so horrible about bringing chips to a meeting, that it tells us something about his personality? The speaking while chewing is gross, yes, but eating chips during a meeting is pretty normal in my office.

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            They’re loud and you are annoying the other people by eating chips in a meeting. Even if it is pretty normal there.

            1. bonkerballs*

              My coworker annoys me because her shoes make a weird noise. Doesn’t tell me anything about her personality. You can react to someone’s actions any way you want, but that’s about you. Not them.

              1. Whaow*

                Surely you see the difference between ‘thing that can’t be controlled (shoes)’ Vs thing you choose to do (eat chips)’

              2. Trout 'Waver*

                100% nope. Doing behaviors that are well-known to be annoying tells me that the person in question is either socially oblivious or outright rude.

      2. Genny*

        I like this approach. If you keep it matter-of-fact, it reads like you’re being thoughtful and giving Bob a chance to chew and swallow vice being a rude jerk (not that it’d be rude to ask him use basic manners, just that some people might read direct language as rude).

        1. Consuela Schlepkiss*

          The other thing with that is that human anatomy vastly increases the possibility we might choke to death vs. other animals because of how our speech and digestion use the same pipe. We have to be very, very careful about not talking while eating because we are incredibly choke-prone as a species. The food and the air need to go to separate locations. He needs to swallow before he talks if he wants to live, basically. OP 1 can feel free to cite this linguist’s safety briefing if she says something to him. Table manners vary (and I am completely with the OP on this being gross), but this.

          1. Hiring Mgr*

            This is why at meetings I run, the people are not allowed to bring food, but the otters are more than welcome to snack during the discussions.

            1. Windward*

              Ok, what – other than snacking – is the role of otters in your meetings? And what else do they do with/for you?? I’m so curious – & enjoying speculating.

            2. smoke tree*

              This makes sense, since sea otters have to eat a quarter of their body weight each day. In my experience, they don’t always have the best table manners, either. Given these facts, I’m led to suspect that the LW’s coworker is probably a sea otter, in which case he should be free to follow his natural behaviours as long as he doesn’t microwave his sea urchins before eating them.

            3. Anonymeece*

              I support otter snacking at all times.

              Presumably they also have a buddy system and hold paws on the ways to meetings to avoid getting lost.

      3. Yojo*

        I don’t think she has to be the one running the meeting–anybody should be able to say “can you make this comment after you’re finished chewing” or “could you crunch a little less loudly?”

      4. GlitsyGus*

        I think that is the best way to handle it. It’s clear and to the point without undo embarrassment.

    2. J.B.*

      I have an evening class – the professor said feel free to eat as long as it’s not smelly. I have issues with chewing noises, and this guy had very loud food he chewed WITH HIS MOUTH OPEN! Don’t 5 year olds learn about this? If it happens again I will bring up the mouth open part but eeewww!

  4. Viki*

    Re: #2 are you in the same time zone as the majority of the others? If yes, this could be pushback depending on the people in the meeting-is this your team/manager (ie people on the same level as you) or is this people junior than you? Or senior?

    If it’s senior than you-you might not have a leg to stand on-if the VP or your grand boss etc needs the meeting at 8-well it’s at 8.

    If it’s a time zone thing-that could be something to ask about but again, if this head office/big location their time zone can and will take priority.

    1. Greg NY*

      If the VP *needs* the meeting at 8, if that’s the only time the VP can have the meeting or it would be too disruptive to have it any other time, AND their schedule is more important than multiple others’ schedules, then yes, the best thing to do is have it at 8. Otherwise, everybody (up to and including the CEO) needs to realize that everybody in the organization matters and their schedules need to be taken into account. It would be terrible for an organization (or a specific manager) to try to take away the perk of a flexible start time just to make their own life easier. Part of being a manager is doing what’s best for your team, not just what’s best for yourself. If they don’t, morale will suffer, and that will make the manager’s job even harder, not easier.

      Same goes for different time zones. How many times have people mentioned that even people that work at the headquarters handle calls at home in the evenings or early in the morning to accommodate people in different time zones? It’s not necessarily true that the head office’s time zone governs.

      That said, the LW didn’t specifically mention that flexibility was an official perk in the organization. It might be that they can arrive when they want (within reason) if there isn’t something specific that needs to be done at a certain time (i.e. as long as they get their tasks done, it doesn’t matter what hours they actually work). But a meeting would count as something that has to be done at a certain time, and a daily 8 AM meeting would effectively mean a hard start time.

      1. Tea Earl Grey Hot*

        Yeah, there may not be a way around the 8am daily meetings (cringing at the thought), but it may be that this turns out to be temporary. 8am doesn’t end up working, office realizes they don’t really need daily meetings, etc., and this goes away or is adjusted on its own. Certainly not a guarantee, but if it’s going to cost OP a lot of capital to push back on this, it may be worth waiting and see how it goes.

      2. Genny*

        I think the key point here is what time zones they’re working with. If you’re trying to get the Sydney office and the New York City office on a call, the timing is going to suck. At that point, you’re trying to find the time of least suck for the most people. If you’re trying to get the London, Berlin, and Boston offices on the line, there’s a lot more flexibility. I’d suggest LW try to figure out why 8am was selected before investing too much capital in changing the time.

      3. JessaB*

        But if there’s office differences you alternate. When I worked in the US for a Japanese homed company we alternated, this week we all stayed late in NY, the next week the headquarters people came in early in Japan. Not every single meeting necessarily has to be at the same time.

    2. JSPA*

      Given that it’s all Skype / conference call, maybe OP could suggest being on the clock at home for the morning meeting (ideally no video / muted = breakfast) then off clock until (say) 10 a.m., at work.

    3. JamieH*

      That may be, but plenty of people that normally start at 9 would not be able to start at 8 even for a good reason (I’m thinking child care drop off, but I don’t think you need to say anything other than “I’m sorry, I’m not available before x time.” ). Do be sure you are considering what your pushback means for other time zones though!

      1. Annie Moose*

        It’s so normal to have to start work at 8 AM that I think you would get a lot of weird looks if you refused to explain why you couldn’t be at work at 8 AM, and a manager would be perfectly within their boundaries to say “no, really, I need you here at 8 AM”.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          That totally depends on the organization — and because this org doesn’t have a set start time and is comfortable with the LW starting at 9, it doesn’t sound like this is a place where they would be dumbfounded by someone who can’t/doesn’t want to start work then.

          I’ve never worked somewhere where folks would look askance at pushing back on this.

          1. Guacamole Bob*

            Agreed. Any place I’ve worked that has somewhat flexible hours, there are people who have child care arrangements, or elderly pets, or morning AA meetings, or morning religious observation, or a morning exercise class, or a commute that’s much easier at some hours than others. (At one place it was our CEO who had several of these, actually – he got up super early and went to his meditation group, worked out, and/or went to AA meetings, depending on the day, then drove an hour to the office in bay area traffic). It wouldn’t be out of line for the company to decide there’s a business need for everyone to start at a fixed time, but people usually have set up their lives in a way that suits them and a) would need some warning to shift their schedule, and b) might decide to leave for a job with more flexibility.

          2. Dust BU*

            If the team starts requiring 8:00 a.m. meetings, then isn’t that the new set start time? I don’t think flexible hours mean *endlessly* flexible. They’re not asking her to be there at 5:30; 8:00 is well within the normal range of start times. My normal hours are 7:30-4:30 because my employer allows us to stagger start times as long as our overall office hours are covered. This is with the understanding, though, that at some point they might find this isn’t working and we all need to be there 8-5.

            1. Project Manager*

              Everywhere I’ve worked has had a flexible schedule policy, and I don’t normally start at 8am. However, the expectation is that if you need to have an 8am meeting for whatever reason (right now I have two recurring on Wednesdays and Thursdays), you’ll be there. You could ask people to change, but if that’s the time that works, that’s that. Any time between 8am and 5pm should be fair game for scheduling meetings, even at a flexible org. (And truthfully, at a company with a global presence, I find that my “meeting” hours extend way beyond that time frame, but the “flexible” part comes in with being able to arrive late on days when I don’t have morning meetings or leave early on days when I have an evening meeting scheduled.)

            2. a1*

              Right. Having a daily morning meaning doesn’t mean the rest of your schedule isn’t still flexible. There are so many ways to be flexible, it doesn’t have to mean work whatever hours you want no matter what. You could work 8-meeting end, take a 2 hour break, work the remaining day. Or work 8-meeting end, and work on and off every hour. Or work 8-12n, and then again 8pm-midnight. Or decide starting even earlier works better with this new meeting and now work 7am-meeting end and any other option to complete the 8 hours, and so on. The options are endless. Everywhere I’ve worked with flexible hours basically means as long as you’re not missing important meeting, and you’re getting your work done, you set your schedule however you want around that.

            3. AMPG*

              But if you take a job with the expectation of a flexible start time most days and suddenly the start time is fixed every day, that’s a pretty significant change. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a “normal” start time or not – taking the choice away from the employee is the part that’s a problem. I realize my circumstances are different from the OP’s, but in my current position, I would consider leaving over a change like this, because of what it would cost me in additional childcare.

          3. Annie Moose*

            I don’t think they’d be dumbfounded, I just think OP is probably not going to be able to just flatly say “I’m not available” without further explanation. And I think OP needs to be prepared that for the possibility that the rest of the team or her manager goes, well, sorry, but this is the time that works for everyone else, so that’s when we’re holding the meetings. This isn’t a social engagement where you can just go “oh, I won’t be available”.

      2. Coffee break*

        I’m going to disagree on op telling work they are not available for a daily team meeting no matter the reason. OP is on a international remote team, OP had to know going in that they were going to have to change their schedule to accommodate the others, that is kind of the thing being remote is that you make yourself available. I’ve been remote for 2 years now and excuses for remote workers (childcare, dr. appts, internet issues, etc) don’t usually fly over well especially with anything international. Not being available is a huge no for remote workers, that sends up red flags to management. So unless OP is a star performer, and can’t be replaced OP can ask if there is a better time but OP cant say I’m not available.

    4. Grumblepuppy*

      If the team have survived this long without a daily meeting , that’s a good sign that they don’t need a daily meeting.

      And a daily meeting first thing ?
      What about the overnight fires ?

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        Eh, I don’t know about this. I joined a small team in a newly-created position, making it a team of 4. When it was two people and they shared an office they never needed actual meetings, and then when they added a third they spent a year or so being a bit uncoordinated and the third person (who was down the hall) felt a bit out of the loop. When I joined we added a quick daily meeting where we all just mention what we’re working on that day and any issues we’re having. It’s hugely helpful for our particular work flow. So maybe OP’s team just grew a bit, or added a new responsibility, or hasn’t actually been doing well in terms of coordination.

        We’re all in the office and do our daily meeting in one of our offices whenever the last person rolls in and everyone has had a chance to get their coffee and such, which is often almost two hours into my day. And sometimes it gets bumped to late morning if someone has a meeting before everyone else is here, or we skip it if a couple of people are out.

        1. Turquoisecow*

          I practically begged my old job to have team meetings, even weekly. I would have settled for monthly, even. I felt that they helped us to feel like a coherent team, and helped me feel like I was connected to what the company as a whole was doing, as the manager would share updates. Too often, I’d get chided for doing something a certain way, because of something the Manager(s) discussed in a company-wide meeting I wasn’t included in. A periodic team meeting helped with that, instead of me feeling like I was working in an unconnected silo.

          Daily meetings might be a bit over the top, but it’s also important for remote teams to be connected, and it requires more effort than in-person teams since you don’t see everyone physically. And I can see the benefit of doing it first thing, before anyone does something “wrong” based on information that someone else hasn’t passed on yet.

          I’d probably do a little pushback on an 8am start, because I hate early mornings, but if OP is the only one starting at 9, she may just have to adapt to the majority.

      2. debonairess*

        We’ve recently started having daily meetings where I work. No one asked for them – someone Higher Up decided it would be good if all teams in our unit had them, seemingly because all the teams in a different organisation do them.
        Totally agree that if a team has managed to perform well for this long without them is a clue as to whether they are needed or not in a particular context (most of our is independent projects and doesn’t intersect that much with others’ on the team, in addition to which we have a meeting rambler).
        In our context, weekly meetings – useful update on progress and people’s goals for the week.
        Daily meetings – total overkill and I now resent them and hate meeting rambler more than ever.

    5. Teapot Inspector*

      The company I work for has offices around the world, and I frequently have meetings at odd-ball times (early/late), on a recurring basis. One way it is handled is that a call will be taken from home, before leaving for work or after arriving home from work. Would it be possible for you to take the call from home, then commute to work?

    6. Someone Else*

      I am often in#2s position and in my case this generally happens because I’m the west coast of the US and some of the other meeting participants are in Europe. So 8am Pacific is practically the only hour that doesn’t significantly extend anyone’s business hours (and because they’d generally rather err on making someone come in early than make someone else stay late). I don’t know if OP’s situation is the same, but if it is, there may not be much they can do because the change for her convenience is an inconvenience to someone else and it’ll just go back and forth constantly.

  5. Kay*

    OP 4, if he’s generally a stickler for the rules is it possible he’s already discussed it with whoever is in charge of reimbursement at the company? Or maybe he’ll ask the OP to pay back any difference to the company after the issue with the airline has been sorted etc?

    1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      A flexible schedule is just that, flexible. That means it can run both ways. I used to set my start time for the most part, but I have daily calls at 7:30 that I have to attend. I usually take a break after those calls until my usual 9am start time. On the other hand, I work later occasionally when the situation demands.

      A flexible schedule doesn’t mean that one gets to set their own 9-5 hours, but that one must cover the spread to complete the work at the time the work demands it.

    2. OP4*

      I HIGHLY doubt your first idea for the basic fact that I’m “in charge” of all his finances as they have to do with the company (ie: he’d have had me ask about that). It is totally possible he will suggest we pay the company back later and obviously that is my hope! He’s a very visible executive for our VERY well-known company and he really always tries to set the example.

  6. CAA*

    For #5 – Since a background check generally requires contacting the candidate’s current employer, and candidates will not consent to that without having accepted a contingent offer, it’s not usually possible for the new employer to complete the background check prior to making an offer. If you’re not currently employed, then it’s likely they are just using the standard process that was developed to handle the majority of candidates who don’t want their current company to know they’re job hunting.

    It is very off-putting when a candidate reneges after accepting an offer, even a contingent one, and it does burn a bridge, especially if the offer was negotiated and the hiring manager used political capital to improve the terms; so only do this if you’re o.k. with not being able to apply there again in the future.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s possible to make an offer contingent only on the reference from the current employer and complete the rest of the background check beforehand. But that’s not what contingent offers usually do. Hell, some contingent offers don’t even complete the background check until after you’ve started working, which is particularly ridiculous.

      1. blackcat*

        Yes, this.
        One of my friends was in this exact scenario: he had already started at a new job when they did the “background check.” He was fired after the background check (read: credit check) showed he had declared bankruptcy two years prior.
        The reason for the bankruptcy? Cancer. He explained. They didn’t care.
        The job had nothing to do with finances.
        It was very, very terrible, particularly since the firing left him, someone only barely in remission from cancer, without health insurance.

        1. Yikes*

          They don’t care about the reason for the bankruptcy, because the point (to them) is that you pose a risk of embezzlement or theft because of your desperate financial straits. Which, imo, is just further ridiculous fuel to the vicious cycle of poverty. “Oh, you suffered some crisis and are now poor? Well, you can’t work here, because we don’t hire poor people.” It’s part of why many people are working to make it illegal to base employment decisions on credit checks.

          1. Lucille2*

            This is the norm for financial institutions. The reason being that a person handling other people’s money can be a risk if that person is in financial trouble herself. I’m not sure how common a credit check is for non-financial institutions, or the reason if it is common. I mean, this really sucks for this person, but the company should make it clear what the background check includes before hiring. And a candidate can always ask. I guess it was assumed the background check was only criminal, not financial.

      2. Not Today Satan*

        Every job I’ve had that did a background check did it after I started… often months later, too. I hate it.

      3. Josh S*

        Very recently, I received an offer for JobA while I was still in the running for JobB (which I would have much preferred). The offer letter said it was contingent on an “IP Protection Agreement” (basically an NDA for company trade secrets, pretty standard in the industry). No big deal.

        I tried to push back the timeline for accepting JobA by a couple days to give JobB a shot, but they required a response in 48 hours. I reluctantly accepted (but enthusiastic to my new would-be employer!), and continued interviewing with JobB.

        Turns out that was the right move, because a day after accepting the offer, I got an email from NewHR asking for my SSN for a background check. Oops….seems my job offer was “contingent” on that check, something they hadn’t ever said.

        Then 2 days after that, HR emailed again and requested References, which I provided. Apparently my job offer was also contingent on reference checks?

        At this point, I was wondering if there were going to be surprise contingencies around drug tests, or health requirements, income verification (W2s) or some other bizarre hoops to jump through. It was VERY clear that they were making a strong demand on me to commit (no flexibility on a 48 hour timeline to respond, etc), even though they didn’t share that level of commitment. As a new hire (with potentially other offers in the works), it was really off-putting and soured me on the initial relationship.

        In other words, what seems like a ‘routine process’ for someone in an HR role, can be REALLY negative to a strong candidate with options. If you’re in HR or a hiring manager role, be aware of this, and do it right.

        1. OP5*

          So did you end up being able to take the job you preferred? Perhaps it’s a balancing act — not vetting candidates at all can lead to grief, but a process that drags on too long can increase the risk of people backing out of offers.

          1. Josh S*

            JobB (the one I preferred) did not end up making me an offer, so I took JobA with the less-than-great Contingent Offer process.

            Job so far is good.

      4. Kyrielle*

        My contingent offer was on the background check. I’m not sure what background they checked, but they didn’t contact my provided references or my then-current employer. (I think they ran my credit? Though I’m not sure what that has to do with my job, which doesn’t involve money.)

      5. CanCan*

        Depends on how likely it is that the offer will get pulled. My offer was conditional on Level 2 security clearance. I got Level 1 before I started, and Level 2 around my third week on the job. I didn’t have any reason to be concerned that I won’t get one, since I had a similar clearance some years previously. If, however, the requirement had been “Top Secret”, I would have wanted them to finish the clearance process before giving notice at my previous job.

        I’d say the only ethical way to “get out” of the first offer is to tell them that you have a second, unconditional offer, which you would not wish to let slip if Company A is not satisfied with the background check. So you’re asking them to make the offer unconditional before such a date/time, and if not, you’ll be forced to accept the other offer. If Company A is seriously concerned about the background check / inflexible in their procedures / doesn’t want you badly enough to do what they need quickly, you’ll be free to take Offer B.

      6. Lurker*

        In fairness, some states and cities (e.g. California; Tacoma, WA) require a contingent offer prior to background checks. Many employers adopt the practice regardless and view it as a final formality.

        I agree with you that she’s under no obligation to accept. I also agree most employers will be pretty unhappy with the decision. Many may also exclude her from future candidacy.

    2. Magenta Sky*

      I’d be inclined to respond to a contingent offer with a contingent acceptance.

      “We’ll hire you if you pass the background check.”

      “I’ll accept if I don’t get a better offer in the meantime.”

      That’d likely be the end of the offer, but I’d be OK with that. I have a very strong dislike for double standards.

      1. Kay*

        Is a background check really a double standard? If they agree to hire you then the background check reveals you stole from your last work place or you harass people online or something that seems like a reasonable reason to rescind an offer.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The issue is that it’s not always that black and white. It might not be something egregious like those examples but rather something more nuanced. They’re basically saying “we’re not fully decided on you yet, but we want you to be fully decided on us.”

          1. Kay*

            Yes but in my experience, especially for government jobs my position is contingent on a police check and potentially an additional background check. They might just be unsure or they might be checking credentials or security factors. I don’t think that’s inappropriate. Also, by that logic do probationary periods have the same issue because your permnent hire isn’t guaranteed?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              They’re not always just criminal background checks. They’re often the reference process too.

              And probationary periods aren’t typically “we haven’t really committed to hiring you yet.” They’re “if we let you go within the first six months, we may do so without following our own internal process for progressive discipline.” (That’s really all a probationary period is; at-will employment means your continued employment is never guaranteed.)

              To me, the issue here is the double standard. No employer would be okay with a candidate announcing, “Sure, I’ll accept your offer, but be aware that I might retract my acceptance if I uncover anything I don’t like about you between now and my start date.” They’d rightly expect you to have done your due diligence earlier on.

              1. Kay*

                But why waste resources checking your background at an earlier stage when they’re not sure they want to hire you? I don’t know I guess I just don’t see this as an egregious double standard when the whole process of job seeking is a double standard because 9 times out of ten the employer is in the position of power.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  You do what other employers do: Once you know who you want to hire, you do your remaining due diligence, and then make an offer.

                  I don’t think it’s egregious as long as they’re fine with candidates pulling out before the contingencies are removed … but they tend not to be.

                2. Mookie*

                  I don’t see vetting your top candidate prior to a firm offer a waste of resources. It’s a small investment towards mitigating potentially greater future waste and it’s not really an excessive drain on anyone’s time; if anything, it shortens the time-line between offer and acceptance because the invisible bureaucracy behind the scenes, steps that don’t require any action on the applicant, has been over and done with. Employers spend money and energy when they hire. That’s as it should be, because they’re the ones with the resources. Good employees are worth that fairly negligible cost to make the process, which is always more nerve-wracking for the hire than the employer, smoother.

                3. Rusty Shackelford*

                  But why waste resources checking your background at an earlier stage when they’re not sure they want to hire you?

                  No one is suggesting that. The idea is that they should check your background once they’ve decided they want to hire you, and *then* make an official, non-contingent offer.

            2. McWhadden*

              It doesn’t matter that it’s not inapproriate. They can’t hold someone to an acceptance on an offer that is not binding. They don’t want to waste resources? That’s fine! And the consequence of that is that occasionally this will happen. Every choice has consequences.

            3. Washi*

              I once had the experience of getting an offer, and a week before I was supposed to start, being sent a list of my international friends with whom I was no longer allowed to be in contact with if I wanted to get that particular security clearance. (I declined and backed out of the job.)

              It sounds like in this case the OP’s job would be at a university, in which case doing a background check is probably a much less mysterious thing, but in a lot of cases, you can’t really be confident that the background check will come out in your favor, even if you’ve been a law-abiding citizen all your life.

              1. Helena*

                Just to be clear for people not familiar – security clearances and run-of-the-mill background checks are very different. A typical background check takes a few weeks. Security clearances right now are taking a year or more, and it would be wildly impractical to leave someone on a contingent offer until their clearance went through. When I was hired as an uncleared person for a clearance job, they ran a typical background check on me and had me fill out paperwork with things that might be a problem in the clearance process that go beyond the background check (e.g., drug use, international ties) before I was hired, so we could both walk away from the offer if the clearance was unlikely to go through. The clearance process didn’t start until I already started working.

                Washi, it’s a shame they weren’t up front about the clearance process with you. That’s just crummy hiring.

                1. Not James Bond*

                  Depends on the security clearance and organization.

                  I interviewed for a CIA-type department (different country), and their interview process included at least 3 face to face meetings for the Top Secret clearance, to say nothing of the paperwork/information I had to provide. They wouldn’t give an offer before the clearance came through.

                  (I met with them multiple times, and they disappeared around the 6-month mark without a word. They had warned that they may terminate the process at any time and I wouldn’t know why – whether it was clearance, or fit for the position, or they no longer required a person for the position with my profile. Oh well.)

          2. SheLooksFamiliar*

            ‘ They’re basically saying “we’re not fully decided on you yet, but we want you to be fully decided on us.” ‘

            Corporate staffing here, and not necessarily. It’s quite common to extend an offer that’s contingent on successful completion of a drug and/or background check because this is usually the most challenging part of the onboarding process. False positives, schools that don’t respond to cred confirmation, negative info on criminal background checks… you get the idea. We’re actually quite confident in our choice of candidate but we know this isn’t a perfect, precise process. It’s a bad practice to run checks after the fact, so it’s best to handle it before wrapping up the hire in a bow.

            Also: In my experience, it’s quite common for the candidate to ask that we make a start date contingent on the completion of the background check, etc. Then they give notice and we can complete a current employment confirmation. Works both ways, folks.

            Finally, if they are in an employment at will state – and they probably are! – and no employment contract has been executed – and there probably isn’t one – the candidate is absolutely within rights to decline an offer at any stage, just as an employer may retract the offer at any stage. Again, works both ways. No one has to like it, but it can be done.

            1. Magenta Sky*

              “Works both ways, folks.”

              That’s my point. A contingent offer warrants a contingent acceptance.

              And a potential employer who has a problem with that is one of my personal red flags.

              1. SheLooksFamiliar*

                I was making a general point about this, not responding to you directly – sorry if I missed something.

            2. miss_chevious*

              Yes, the recruiters at my company make very clear to our candidates that the offer is contingent and they should not resign from their current position (assuming they have one) until the background check comes in clean because of delays that might occur. We don’t set a start date until that comes back clean. I’d be horrified if we waited until they were already working here to do something as important as a background check.

          3. Lucille2*

            But it can be a company’s policy to run a background check only after an offer is accepted. It likely comes down to the cost, especially for a large corporation. As a hiring manager, if I’ve made an offer, it means I’ve fully decided to hire you, but company requires a background check. Of course, clear expectations should be set during the hiring process like generally what the background check means (i.e. criminal, credit check), so a candidate who knows she is at risk of failing the check can back out before accepting an offer. It should also be clear how long a background check might take so a candidate doesn’t quit another job and risk going without income.

        2. Persimmons*

          Someone above lost a job due to a bankruptcy caused by cancer. Failing a background check doesn’t mean you “deserve” to lose the job.

          1. SheLooksFamiliar*

            So true. I caused heartburn with a previous employer when I told them we should discontinue credit checks. I showed them studies that said theft and poor performance were not tied to bad credit; in fact, one of our well-paid warehouse managers with good credit was caught stealing thousands of dollars of inventory, so much for that.

            I also said credit checks were invasive and could lead to discriminatory hiring behaviors. This was when many HIV patients financed their care because they didn’t want an insurance record to haunt them. But run a credit check and there it is for all to see, and for no good reason. And there are too many studies that show medical costs are still the main reason why people filed for bankruptcy. IMO, that has no bearing on character or ability to do a job.

            Credit checks aren’t as prevalent as they used to be, but it burns me up that candidates who are nowhere near the corporate checkbook are subjected to one.

        3. AKchic*

          It can be.
          I have passed multiple state and federal background checks. I am cleared to work with highly sensitive data. I am cleared to work with dangerous people and small children and large sums of money.

          A local bank rescinded my employment offer because I didn’t have enough credit and because I’d had identity theft happen to me (which I’d explained already) so my credit score was too low for them and they felt I was too high risk to work as a teller.
          Nothing I personally did was the reason for their dislike or distrust, other than my refusal to take out loans for things I didn’t need and couldn’t afford and my ex-husband stealing my identity when I was 18-19.
          Luckily, I did a lot better without going into banking.

      2. Nom Nom*

        I’ve had job offers made and started conditional on detailed security checks which are known to take 3 months. It’s always made clear that if you fail the check, they will have to let you go. It’s also clearly stated up front what kind of things are an automatic fail and what will impact etc. You also have to declare anything on the auto fail list. I’ve also started subject to medical clearance which can take a few weeks. Never had a problem and it is always clear you get paid for any time worked.

        1. RedPsycho*

          That just seems like a really bad idea to me. Someone could easily lie on their auto fail list (the employer hasn’t done the check yet, how would they know?) and steal from their employer and run off within those 3 months.

          Plus, waiting on the background check til after you’re working there isn’t fair to employees either. I used to work for a company that never hired people directly – it was always temp to hire. It was the kind of place that people with criminal backgrounds can generally find work (think factory/manufacturing work).

          Because people were temp to hire, they didn’t do background checks until they were ready to hire them permanently (which could take years). I saw several occasions where people were let go based on their background checks and had to either fight to keep their job or find a new one.

          Now one could argue that this is the consequences of what they did, but to me that doesn’t seem fair. These people have done their time, and now they’re trying to live decent lives and make an honest living. I could understand if they were working with children or something, but this is exactly the kind of place these people usually can find work. If they can’t find ANY work, how are they going to rehabilitate themselves back into society?

          Anyway, my point being, that hiring before a check is done seems unfair to both the employer and the employee.

          1. Sally*

            I agree. I just started a new job, and the hiring process was really good – they called when they said they would, they arrived to interviews on time, they clearly prepared, they answered all of my questions, etc. But I was concerned about references because I had worked for my last employer for many years, and I was going to have to ask a previous manager at the company, as well as my current manager, to be a reference for me (I was being laid off in several months, so it felt safe to use her as a reference), and I didn’t want to ask them until I had to. I was so impressed with their hiring process that when they offered me the job, I was disappointed that it seemed that they weren’t going to ask for references. Turns out they wanted references after I accepted their offer (which was also when they did the background check). Everything turned out fine, but I think I’ll mention this to them after I’ve been there a little while.

          2. Chinookwind*

            But that’s the difference between a background check (which should be done before the start date) and a security check (which will take months). Background checks can be done easily but security checks require some deeper dives (Ex: DH’s NATO clearance required information about my father’s immigration to Canada and my travel history). The auto fail list is meant to give the applicant a heads up about what may be problematic and give them a chance to self-select out of the process.

            The flip side is that you are usually stuck doing lower clearance jobs until you pass (and if you are probably closely monitored as well). DH talked about how, on certain floors, when he entered a room, someone would turn on a red light to let people know that someone without clearance was in the area and certain things couldn’t be discussed or displayed. Once he got clearance, he was no red light and he was no longer asked to leave during parts of meetings.

        2. Antilles*

          I think the difference in your situation is that the company is being very upfront and methodical with what’s covered and what sorts of items will cause you to fail. That’s a world of difference from the typical way companies handle this where their ‘background checks’ could include anything whatsoever and they’re judging based more on ‘feel’ than anything concrete.

    3. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      I’m one who has accepted another offer while a background check was in process for another offer.

      In my case, I was upfront with both recruiters about the upcoming offers, so that it wouldn’t be a surprise if I declined one of them. One offer came first but the background check was stretching and my first day kept getting pushed back. In the meantime, I got a better offer from the other party, accepted, and called the first party to backout. They weren’t happy, but they were informed on my situation and took it OK. I don’t know if I burned a bridge, but the market is competitive enough in my sity for my role that I’m not too concerned. In both cases, the offers were contingent on background checks.

      The first party did apologize for the delay in the check which was two weeks at the time I backed out.

      The second party completed the check within two days.

      My point is that the timing can happen, you have to do what is best for you, and if you back out during the background check it’s not a career killer.

      1. Kyrielle*

        This. We once had a new hire (who we actually still managed to hire – he didn’t back out!) who had to wait a month or a bit more for the background check process to clear. My boss at the time was on the phone with HR quite a lot in that period because it was ridiculous.

      2. AMPG*

        I definitely think that any company that can’t stick to its advertised timeline for background checks forfeits any claim they might have had on your loyalty to them.

        1. OP5*

          The thing of it is that there’s generally no “advertised timeline” for background checks. But that does raise questions about whether whether there’s a reasonable amount of time to wait for a background check to clear, and if so, what it is.

          1. chrome ate my username*

            This has been a problem at some of the places I’ve worked, where the reference/background check and drug test (if the company requires one) have to be completed before the person’s first day of work, because all staff must be child-safe, even if they are not interacting with children in their role.

            It is an absolute disaster in hiring part-time workers, because the reference checks can take weeks (references on vacation, in different time zones, are teachers who can’t talk during the day) and the background check process can take forever, if there’s a backlog due to high seasonal volume. Between this and internal onboarding policies, you’re looking at a 4-6 week delay from “OK let’s get your hire paperwork started,” and “Come to orientation on X day.”

            Part time workers are usually younger people who need cash now, and we’ve run into situations where we call someone about the process or to tell them their orientation date, only to find out they’ve accepted a job elsewhere because most other places don’t make them wait 4-6 weeks to start working. Which means, if you’re short staffed, you’re not only out someone to cover certain shifts, you’re out any onboarding expenses the organization may have incurred.

            It was frustrating.

  7. SusanIvanova*

    My first job at a very tiny software company (under 20 employees) was very educational – I learned about all sorts of things I should watch out for. One of them was when the boss/CEO decided the best time for daily meetings was half an hour before the official start time because then it wouldn’t conflict with our working hours. No, I wasn’t hourly, and I don’t think anyone else was either.

  8. Not A Manager*

    Regarding #4 – “If the airline reimburses any additional money, you could just say to him, ‘Since the company already reimbursed this, how should I handle the double payment? Should we transfer the airline’s refund over to the company?’ In other words, approach it as a given that of course he’s not going to double dip and see what happens.”

    I wouldn’t. This seems to pose a potentially high risk of irking the manager, for not very much upside to the employee. If the employee were being asked to specifically commit fraud, I’d feel differently, but this is really a matter of the employee putting some information together and drawing an inference that sounds outside of the scope of the employee’s responsibilities.

    1. Up at Dawn*

      I agree. Implying that manager is intending to commit possible fraud over something relatively minor may not go over well. The wording sounds a bit condescending.

      1. bonkerballs*

        Especially since she already did something like this when she asked if she needed to keep pursuing the issue since he’d already been reimbursed by the company.

        1. OP4*

          “…this is really a matter of the employee putting some information together and drawing an inference that sounds outside of the scope of the employee’s responsibilities.” This is my reason for trepidation. It’s still entirely possible that, upon receiving the money he believes he’s owed, he will say “ok so now that we got this handled we need to pay back the company” it’s possible!

          1. A manager who travels*

            Even if your boss doesn’t behave the way you think he should, you don’t have enough information to make a judgment about his ethics. I recommend doing exactly as he directs and don’t try some subtle nudge (it’s completely transparent).

  9. NightOwl*

    Ugh, so many “flexible” remote working jobs I didn’t bother applying for because they had daily meetings at 7am. No, just no. That’s not allowing for a flexible schedule!

    1. Matt*

      I’m an “early bird” and wouldn’t mind an 8 or even 7 a.m. meeting, but at my place we have a “late” culture and I always have to push back on late afternoon meetings well after my usual working hours. I’ve started to mark all times outside my normal hours as absent in the Outlook calendar, so that everybody who “invites” (commands) me to such a meeting at least knows that they hereby sentence me to mandatory overtime.

      1. Julia*

        That’s why I try to find out the core hours of any “flexible” establishment, although I guess that doesn’t help much if people just blatantly ignore them.

      2. Tardigrade*

        I wouldn’t mind a 7 a.m. meeting… once in a while. But a meeting at any time every single day, ad infinitum, would be a big nope out for me.

        Although it might not help much, I do like the idea of blocking off your calendar just so the organizer might realize.

        1. Birch*

          Yep, it’s the every day part of this that’s so weird! I had meetings at 4am once… was corresponding with a supervisor who was 7 time zones away and it was the only time we could both meet. But it was once every week or two, not every day. Who needs international meetings every single day?! How can you have done enough in the meantime to make that efficient?

      3. Elle*

        Ugh yes. I carpool with my husband, who has non-flexible hours of 7-3:30. I was told this would be fine, but now there is a mandatory team meeting on Mondays from 3-5pm, and it inevitably goes to 6 or even 7pm. One of our team members has evening classes and HAS to leave by 5:15, and every single time she gets flack for it. Its horrible.

        1. JokersandRogues*

          3 or 4 hours? Good grief, somebody isn’t keeping control of the meeting, and it stinks to high sky that somebody would get flack for leaving 15 minutes after the SCHEDULED time. Ugh…..

          1. Elle*

            Yep, its an utter disaster. The worst part? The meetings were started because people kept fighting in front of the customer during our Tuesday morning customer status meeting. This meeting is supposed to be a chance for us to ‘work everything out’ in advance. So we have this 3-4 hour meeting on Monday, and then at 8am Tuesday we have to go through the same exact meeting all over again, for 2 hours. It has not helped reduce the fighting.

            I am actively working a hasty exit from this toxic environment.

            1. Lucille2*

              Let me guess, the meeting to resolve issues internally has lead to a outlet for everyone to air their grievances? I’m familiar with those meetings. They rarely work. There’s an underlying issue going on that isn’t being addressed. A 4 hour weekly meeting is just killing morale, not solving anything.

              1. Elle*

                Honestly, less ‘air our grievances’ and more an additional 4 hours a week for our boss to scream at us because we don’t have impossible amounts of work done (ironic seeing as that’s 1/10 of our work week wasted). But don’t worry, HR swears he is ‘extremely invested’ in helping his team become more cohesive and welcoming. After all 9 of us went to them with complaints like “I dread coming to work every day” and, “When he isn’t screaming at me, he’s talking to me like I’m stupid.” Ugh.

        2. chrome ate my username*

          I worked somewhere that did “Happy Hour” team meetings, Fridays at 4:30 pm. But of course people kept being in other, more important meetings, or were working on something really important, so it got pushed back to 5, then 5:30, then 6, then 6:15.

          Well, in that city, the last rush hour commuter train was at 7. So people who took the train were missing their trains, getting home hours late, then got fed up and started just walking out in time to catch their train.

          The company folded not long after that.

    2. Antilles*

      I think that’s because companies have a wide range in what they believe the phrase “flexible hours” means – even within the same industry.
      To one company in my field, flexible hours means that you can set your own hours completely at your leisure – as long as stuff gets done, we don’t care if you’re here at 8 to 4, 9 to 5, even 4 am to noon if you can somehow make that work.
      And on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, my old company used “flexible” to just mean that they allow you to go to a doctor’s appointment or whatever without using PTO…but you’re still expected to make that time up in the same day even if that means you’re working till midnight.
      Most companies seem to fall somewhere in the middle – there are core hours where everybody is generally expected to be in office between 9:30 and 3:30, but your 8 hours can be an 8-4 or a 9-5 or something like that as long as you’re there for the core time.

      1. Sleepless in Seattle*

        If you have an international team, early meetings can’t be helped. It does no good to block off a calendar when you’re PDT and your team is in Asia. I have two kids to get to school myself and too bad, I have to take those meetings. I had to get a nanny. That’s the reality of life now.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      It is if the rest of the day is flexible. A lot of people are willing to make that tradeoff and it’s actually quite common if the job is global.

    4. Someone Else*

      I realize this wasn’t necessarily the case with the jobs you’re referring to, but something I’ve encountered a lot in hiring for remote jobs is that a lot of applicants assume remote=flexible hours. My company does not have flexible hours. People are hired to work specific set schedules, even the remote employees. Our job posting never indicate flex time. But there seems to be a lot of assumptions out there (at least in our applicant pool) that if you work from home of course you set your own hours. Not true with us (and I expect plenty of other companies as well). This usually comes up during the interview process though, either at the point when we’re discussing the normal hours, or occasionally when we ask what attracted them to the job and they mention the flex hours and we have to let them know they’re incorrect. I’m saying this as an FYI to anyone out there who might be seeking a remote job and assuming the hours are not set.

      1. NightOwl*

        It’s great that your company is clear about it! And these postings have been clear too, which is why I don’t apply. It’s just frustrating to see “tired of the 9-5? want to set your own schedule? we’re flexible!” and then tucked away somewhere the posting “7am PST daily standup meetings”.

    5. Lynn Whitehat*

      I have young children who go to school at 7:30. I would seriously have to consider resigning if my employer had daily 7 AM meetings.

  10. scmill*

    #2, since you have flexible hours, see if you can do the 8am meeting from home, and then go into the office once it’s over.

  11. Westcoast pastor*

    OP#1 it sounds like you are talking about having a form of misophonia. I linked an article about it in my username. I empathize because I suffer from this as well and it is not just irritating it can feel unbearable to listen to people chew. When my doctor finally talked with me about it, it was a relief because I thought I was just overly sensitive and so did everyone else. Turns out it is a studied and researched brain condition. I have to get up and leave the room in my own house sometimes, esp when my husband eats cereal or chips. I can’t even eat cereal myself in the quiet, I have to have tv or music to help cover the sound.

    That said I don’t think you can ask him to not eat but it couldn’t hurt to try and gently ask him to refrain if possible. I like the previous commenter’s suggestion to ask he bring quiet foods. I have practiced different kinds of mental exercises to get me through meetings and sometimes just have to get up and go the bathroom to take short break so I don’t grab the bag of chips and throw it /s/. Honestly I could not imagine bringing food to a meeting that wasn’t over a scheduled meal but that is me and I know other ppl see it differently or have health issues that necessitate it.

    All that said eating with your mouth open and talking while eating to the point food falls out of your mouth is not okay and I do think you can definitely bring that up in gentle manner- perhaps even as he starts says “why don’t you finish you bite first, I don’t mind waiting.” Just know you are not alone and I empathize with how you feel, even while agreeing that this s something you are going to have to own and learn to manage.

    1. Jen*

      My husband has this too (if we start the dishwasher, for instance, we put on music to cover the noise) although I think coworkers general grossness factors in too. Pieces of salad falling out of his mouth on the table? That is beyond disgusting.

      1. annejumps*

        Yeah… I hate chewing noises, but I myself eat throughout the day (although never in meetings). The problem is not really that he’s eating, or how often, but that he’s literally talking with his mouth full of food and food falling out of it. It may, in that light, be a challenge to get him to stop; I’m not sure what’s going through the mind of someone who’s talking in a meeting with food actively falling out of his mouth, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of self-awareness here. I think the only hope is stopping activity until he’s done, but… he may never actually be done, lol. And he might not pick up on there being a problem.

    2. Les G*

      I feel like this is getting into unactionable armchair diagnosing. Whether the OP has this rare condition or not, the advice doesn’t change, so why bring that aspect up? And frankly, nothing in the letter suggests that OP is more annoyed than the average person would be by this.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      A reminder that the site rules prohibit armchair diagnosing. (Although it’s fine to say “I have a condition that sounds similar to this and I do XYZ to handle this kind of situation.”)

      1. Butter Makes Things Better*

        To use Alison’s wording, I have a condition similar to OP’s, and I agree with AAM’s suggested wording. If your coworker continues to bring food and still doesn’t improve his manners (aiee), what’s helped me is daily meditation (I do around 20 mins) without music or headphones or a meditation guide. The reason that last part is important for my condition is that if there are distracting, disruptive sounds while I’m meditating, such as construction work, loud talking in the hallway or subway, etc., I’ll remind myself in that moment that I’m “noise neutral” and continue meditating. It’s not my natural state to be unbothered by jarring noise or chewing, but over time, this has really reduced and in some cases totally eliminated my discomfort. I wasn’t expecting this result (I thought I was doomed to suffer the rest of my life because of the nature of the condition), and didn’t pursue meditation to conquer the condition, but it has been a very happy by-product of the form of meditation I practice.

    4. WS*

      I don’t have misophonia but I wouldn’t want to try to have a meeting while someone shovelled food into their face with their mouth open and dropped it on the table! It’s a distraction and downright rude. Someone discreetly having a snack or a drink is fine.

    5. straws*

      I also have misophonia, and music is the only reason we can have family dinners together! That said, even if the OP doesn’t have it, they sound like they have at least a degree of sensitivity. In my experience, bringing it up casually as a “me thing” could help the situation. My boss is always tossing down some sort of food at internal meetings, mainly due to a busy schedule. I always just dealt with it, for numerous reasons, but I made a comment about my noise sensitivity in casual conversation and he jumped on it. He asked if his eating bothered me, and while I told him I wouldn’t stop him from eating, he now checks with me on his distance and the type of food he’s eating to make sure we can have a productive conversation. Now, my boss is an understanding person in general, but the productivity would be a huge concern even if he cared nothing for my comfort. If most of my energy is going into controlling my reactions to his eating, then my focus and contribution to the conversation won’t be as good.

      All that to say, bring it up! Don’t do it with any expectations, but a simple “hey, I have a sensitivity to chewing noises and I find it hard to be productive at meetings when you’re eating throughout. I understand your need to eat, but if there are some times that you could do so before or after a meeting that we’re both attending, or choose a quieter food for that moment, it would help me a lot.”

    6. Decima Dewey*

      You don’t have to have misophonia to object to someone talking with his mouth full or inadvertently spitting food onto the conference table.

    7. Christy*

      I’m glad someone knowledgeable raised this. I have heard of it. If the letter writer were to get a diagnosis it could possibly meet ADA criteria for a reasonable accomodation.

  12. OP5*

    OP5 here. Additional background: the employer is a large Midwestern university that made headlines in 2014 for withdrawing a conditional job offer to a faculty member after he’d resigned from his previous job and relocated there. (Google “Steven Salaita” for details.)

    1. Not A Manager*

      I read some articles, but I’m not seeing the immediate connection between that situation and yours. You accepted an offer but now you don’t like their tweets?

      1. OP5*

        Ok, the Salaita offer had been “contingent” on Board of Trustees approval, which up until that point had been a rubber stamp. It was not unusual for people to have already started working there before the BOT officially approved their hire. In his case, the U had already paid his expenses to move their and set his teaching schedule for the following semester. Then there were complaints about some of his tweets involving Israel and Palestine, and the U was like, “Oh wait, your job offer was conditional.” There was a lot of external condemnation and a lawsuit, which ended up being settled.

        1. Not A Manager*

          Yes, I understand the story, thanks. I’m not understanding your reasoning. “The university pulled their offer for complicated high-profile political reasons, so they deserve to have no one ever commit to them again?”

          If you have a better offer, then take it. If not, don’t try to teach the university some kind of karma lesson.

          1. OP5*

            Trying to teach someone a lesson about karma wouldn’t make sense — that’s not how it works. It was simply doubts about whether to trust their processes enough to turn down another offer.

            1. Higher ed anon*

              I remember this well. I work in higher ed in Illinois. I feel like with this particular institution, they are not likely to do something like that again. That was a pretty extreme situation, and I doubt they want to go down that road again. It’s also so far outside the norm for higher ed to function that way that I personally wouldn’t assume the worst.
              If that put into doubt my feelings about their handling of intellectual freedom generally, to the extent that I’d really rather take the other job, I would personally take the other job, but knowing that the bridge with that school is probably burned.
              I know it’s getting more common for schools to have academic freedom problems where the AAUP is involved, but actually withdrawing an offer is pretty rare.
              That’s also a unique subject matter that is going rile up donors/alum, whereas most Twitter opinions wouldn’t raise a stink.

              1. OP5*

                Thanks! Yeah, in fairness to them, it’s not like they routinely back out of hiring people after extending offers. That particular situation just wasn’t a good look.

              2. jolene*

                Oy, I did just google him and some of those tweets – made after the offer so that the university couldn’t be accused of not doing due diligence – are Godawful. If there were ever a reason to pull an offer, that would be it. Can’t blame them here.

          2. McWhadden*

            I think you are nitpicking a bit much here. OP is saying that they have pulled offers before for reasons other than their stated contingency and could again (not for that specific one but generally.)

            1. OP5*

              Yes, that was the big issue. If it was a situation where an applicant had gotten caught deliberately lying on their application and had an offer pulled, that wouldn’t have bothered me.

        2. Observer*

          I think that’s a different situation, though. In theory, what he did could have been a firing offense, especially if he were on probation. It’s not like these tweets happened before the offer and they just never looked for them.

          1. Observer*

            Of course, given the academic freedom issues implicated here, it’s possible that he would not have been fired, in which case using the “contingency” bit really does come off as a bad look.

      2. Julia*

        I think OP5 is worried about that employer having a history of withdrawing offers extremely late in the process.

    2. tra la la*

      Are you saying that this university is the employer making the contingent offer, or are they making the second offer? (I’m familiar with the story).

    3. BRR*

      Is this specifically about the Salaita situation or does this just happen to be a situation with the same employer? I’d argue that the Salaita situation is pretty unique and narrow as it involved accepting a tenured position and had a long period of time between an offer and start date. That’s much different than most conditional job offers because most employment is at will.

    4. MK*

      It sounds to me as if this Salaita case is not really about withdrawing a conditional offer because the “condition” wasn’t met; they wanted to fire him and they used the board’s non-approval to do it more easily. What I find unacceptable is that they made a conditional offer at all, when the condition was completely dependent on them (the board meeting and granting approval), not something they had to wait for (like a background check).

    5. epi*

      I attend this university and made calls as an alum when they did this. It was awful! I had known and liked a lot of people in their Native American studies program too, several of whom I think left.

      Anyway I don’t think you need to be concerned that this is the school’s normal way of operating– it made the news for a reason. The technical contingency period is particularly long and dumb, but I’m not sure it even applies to people who aren’t faculty or leadership– assuming it hasn’t been reformed. And there’s no guarantee you’d find a better contingency practice at another university. I’d be weighing whether to still entertain other offers based on other criteria– how much you want each job, how important it is to you not to burn a bridge at this university, how likely you *really*think it is that your offer could be pulled that way then what you know about yourself and the school. (Probably not very likely.)

      1. LabTech*

        I was working here (as staff in an unrelated role/department) when this happened. I just started this job after long-term unemployment and had a bit of familiarity with the American Indian Studies department, and am Palestinian-American myself (for those who didn’t follow the link, the tweets were Israel-Palestine related). Suffice to say, I had Strong Opinions about what had happened, but was in no position to do anything about it.

        Given the serious fallout that the Chancellor received as a result of withdrawing the offer, the above commenters make a good point about it not being likely to repeat. But if your rationale is more to do with not wanting to take the job due to the scandal, the politics, or the underlying organizational problems it exposed, those are all perfectly valid reason, but just be clear with yourself on why you’re not accepting the offer.

  13. It’s all good*

    #5 – stuff happens. I accepted a job contingent on my references. I called one to let him know a phone call was on it’s his way. He offered me a job! I had worked with him on a project for a few years and I really respected him and it was a remote position. I said yes! in two seconds. It was hard to rescind my conditional acceptance but it was an offer I could not refuse (the “almost” job did increase my offer, but it still wasn’t worth it).

    1. Artemesia*

      There is something especially sweet about this ‘reference check’ jeopardizes original job offer story. Kudos.

  14. Knitting Cat Lady*

    #1: General question: Can one tell a coworker to chew with their mouth closed and don’t speak with their mouth full?

    Because having to watch this makes puke.

    1. Myrin*

      I mentioned this below but I honestly don’t see why not. It’s such bad manners (and so disgusting) that I wouldn’t think twice about it.
      (I’ve totally said “‘tschuldigung, können Sie bitte schlucken? Ich seh… alles.” to people, and I have the kind of voice and demeanour where that doesn’t come across as condescending (like it could) or exasperated (like it is) but rather… funny?)

        1. Myrin*

          Ah, sorry! That was a bit of an aside for KCL in particular because she’s also German and I can never really gauge how appropriate stuff like this would sound in English; it means “Sorry, can you please swallow? I can see… everything.”

          1. Femme D'Afrique*

            Thanks! I found it quite hilarious – and definitely not appropriate in English, haha!

      1. FLuff*

        Fellow Germanic here – at times I have let out a “Pfui!” or “Pfui Teufel” which luckily folks in the US don’t understand (and think I sneezed). It literally means poot devil – but really is just a quick outburst of gross me out. One day another German is going to be in on these meetings and out me. I am going to use “I see everything.” (Like the kid in the Bruce Willis movie instead of dead people I see all your food particles).

    2. Dr. Pepper*

      If the coworker is more or less a peer, I don’t see why not. If they’re really senior to you or levels above you, then it can get a bit tricky. Basically for me it would be the difference between “Ew, seriously?? Chew with your mouth closed!” and a more diplomatic response such as, “Sorry, can you repeat that?” ad nauseum until they swallowed their bite. Or if I was really junior and they were the CEO or something, a slightly disgusted look.

  15. Flash Bristow*

    The food thing: OMG do I get this! I have hearing issues which a) mean I lip read as well as listen, so eating means I can’t tell what you’re saying, and b) certain sounds are ALL I can hear. Someone rustling a crisp packet or sweet wrapper takes all my focus.

    Some tactics I’ve got are if someone talks while eating I just say pointedly “don’t worry, we can wait for you to swallow before you speak” – OK a bit arsey but nobody wants food gobbed about or to see the contents of his mouth. And then, we all, silently, wait. This works best when I’m hosting the meeting tho.

    Also for the crisps I say “do you mind if I fetch you a bowl? The rustling drives me to distraction and I’m sorry but I just can’t think!” but done in a tone of “it’s my problem, silly me, but please just humour me”.

    Maybe those might help, OP1? It isn’t your fault, but the distracting noise thing isn’t your colleague’s either, so making them aware and trying to provide a solution is a way forward. The talking with mouth full? That’s just gross.

    1. Magenta Sky*

      If you’re in the US, I’d think that a) would put you into ADA accommodation territory. (And not being disgusting certainly sounds like a reasonable accommodation to me.)

      1. serenity*

        What? Can we not pull out “ADA accomodation” stock responses to absolutely everything on here? This appears to be a guy with less than ideal food etiquette which OP is mildly annoyed by and wonders if she should address.
        Where are we seeing medical issue/potential disabilty? This is absurd.

        1. Tardigrade*

          I generally agree, but I think Magenta Sky was referring to Flash Bristow’s hearing issue.

          1. serenity*

            Oh, I see. I still think hearing impairment/policing people’s eating and chewing have nothing to do with ADA but I’ll leave it there as this is derailing to the OP’s question.

            1. annejumps*

              It’s not even hearing impairment, it’s being annoyed by sounds. I have it too, I suspect, and I can’t imagine making it an ADA thing at work.

      2. Snark*

        No, it does not. This is not how ADA accomodations work. As a hearing impaired person myself, my ADA accomodations are things like my hearing aid compatible phone and a corner cube where background noise is less of an issue – routine, daily accomodations for reasonably foreseeable issues. You don’t, and shouldn’t, try to use ADA to police annoying people who occasionally produce noise.

    2. Lexi Kate*

      When I worked with Gross Cookie Monster a thing that sort of helped us was when possible we had working meetings or would schedule stand up meeting at someone’s desk. This ment Gross Cookie monster was limited to
      how much he could crunch at high decibels. Our gross cookie monster also thought meeting time ment it was ok to clean his wax filled ears with his pen, and to pull the sleeves of his polo shirt up over his shoulders and put his hands under his armpits and sit.

    3. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      This is giving me flashbacks to recent letters, about how it’s unreasonable to expect people to accommodate one person, as in the sniff test and OCD Casey.

      I sympathize, but even misophonics have to find their way in the world, if that’s even the issue.

      OP needs to address the behavior as it happens. And no fetching of bowls for the eater; that just enables the behavior.

  16. Chantelle*

    OP #2 – time zones of your coworkers is certainly a factor to consider but if you have stakeholders and your 9am start time better supports your stakeholders then I would come from that angle. I work with people across the country and off-shore but 70% of my stakeholders are 1 hour behind me which is why I start at 9am. Good luck!

  17. Cordoba*

    For #4, I had a previous job where the policy for similar things was “if you want to spend your personal time chasing down a refund from that airline/hotel/etc you can keep whatever they give you”. This always struck me as very fair, so the double-reimbursement aspect of this doesn’t bother me.

    Often airlines will reimburse frustrated customers with travel vouchers or rewards points. I’m not going to give those back to the employer, so I’m not inclined to give them the cash either. It wasn’t “the company” who was sitting in a crowded terminal at Newark all day – it was me.

    However, if the exec intends to pocked the refund he should be pursuing this himself on a Saturday afternoon, not having his assistant do it during work hours.

    1. NYCWeasel*

      In a similar vein, we pay our vendors to drop ship materials to a list of locations. With every shipment, there’s a small percentage of shipments that arrive damaged. We only pay them for one shipment, so on our end we aren’t being charged twice. On their end, they are free to pursue damage claims with the shipping companies. It’s quite conceivable that they are fully refunded for both the initial shipping costs as well as the replacement costs within these claims. Our company doesn’t care that the vendor “profits” in these situations, nor would I immediately expect them to care that an airline reimbursed an employee for inconvenience.

      1. Bea*

        If they’re not paying you for the damaged items, if they’re filing claims on the damages, that’s insurance fraud. You have to prove you gave the customer X amount of credit or a replacement. They’d have to fudge paperwork…they’re most likely just building the shrink costs into your pricing.

        1. President Porpoise*

          I’m not sure it works like that with shipments. Typically, they’re pursuing the damage claims with the actual shipper, within a very narrow and defined period, and the shipper pays damages. What’s happening here is that NYCWeasel isn’t pursuing the claim – his vendors are, for the value of the items they have to replace because of the failure on the carrier’s part, plus the value of the shipping charges. Very common, not fraud, totally ok.

    2. BRR*

      That was an aspect that was bothering me. That the LW, as his admin, has to spend their time chasing a personal refund. I know it might be within the scope of the role but from what I’m gathering from the letter the LW is spending a lot of time on this.

    3. Washi*

      This is what I wanted to say! It would be one thing if the exec spent like 20 hours of his personal time pursuing this reimbursement so that he could pocket it. But he is using company time and resources to earn money for himself that will not really have a positive impact on the business (unlike asking your assistant to pick up your dry-cleaning, which at least can be argued allows the executive more time to generate revenue.)

      1. OP4*

        Interesting point on how much time I spend on his personal “stuff” or in this case, finances – it’s a LOT, but only because he uses his personal credit cards for business travel to earn the points. This means I often sift through his credit card bills to match company costs for reimbursement. It’s extremely tedious and I dislike it immensely :) but that’s why this lends itself to a gray area. Mine is the notorious “needy exec” who grays the area between professional and personal support. I truly don’t mind the principal of it, as he’s afforded me some personal support in times of need as well.

        1. CAconsultant*

          Okay – getting to the rest of this thread where my point above was originally made. Perhaps re: the credit card issue, you could ask him to get an additional personal card for business expenses, separate from his standard personal card? I imagine even if the fee is $400 (the most I’ve really seen) and he charges that in, its still worth more than $400 of your time to sift through it all…

    4. OP4*

      I would have no trouble communicating this point to him if I were certain he’d be keeping the money from the airline! He is reasonable enough to agree if I were to say that. But it’s still *possible* he intends to give it back and thus I hesitate to question his integrity before I know (especially with nothing prior to this indicating he’d make a questionable call).

  18. Myrin*

    OP #1, I’m in complete agreement with Alison on all counts – I don’t think you can ask him to not bring food unless there’s something like the caveats Alison mentions, but I believe it’s totally fine to veto particularly crinkly or crunchy food like crisps.
    Also, I really need to disagree with some of the comments above who seem to favour a tip-toe approach with regards to his chewing with his mouth open and having food flying around – there’s really no need to be in any way gentle when it comes to behaviour like that! I’m a bit notorious for not being squirmish at all but that is both disgusting and bad manners. I really don’t see why you can’t say something to the effect of “Dude, will you swallow before you start talking?!” (more professionally, of course), especially since I highly doubt you’re the only one bothered by that.

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Agreed. The behavior that LW#1 describes is up there with clipping fingernails at the conference table during a meeting: both rude and unsanitary. It’s not professional, it’s not normal, and I’m sure that LW#1 is not the only person who finds it irritating that a grown person can’t handle their food better than a kindergartner.

    2. Lily*

      But at the same time OP risks alienating herself in the meetings. This may not be bothering other attendees nearly as much… so being too aggressive or embarrassing him by constantly pointing him out will make her look bad, not him.
      Unless she is a senior to him, it isn’t her place to call him out infront of everyone. She could offer to wait of he is chewing and trying to talk but to tell him to eat with his mouth closed (or some other suggestions) will not come across well.
      She either needs to pull him aside privately to explain and politely ask him to be considerate or speak to management about a blanket ban on no-food at meetings.

      1. Myrin*

        I don’t think I said anywhere that she needs to call him out during the meeting (although I personally probably would), nor that she should be doing it “constantly” (I was actually imagining a one-time-talk because until I read this comment, I didn’t even think of someone being told something like this and then just… continuing being gross, I guess?).

      2. Holly*

        I think that’s even more awkward because it makes it into a bigger issue than it is. It’s fine to briefly ask someone to stop the crunching and move on, or simply request that meeting participants not bring crunchy/noisy food. Of course this depends on the good will or rapport OP has with their colleagues.

      3. MatKnifeNinja*

        The risk of going scorched Earth on this guy, is you assume he will 1) stop, 2) others feel the same and will have your back and 3) this won’t escalate to make your life living hell.

        Either this guy has no clue or really doesn’t care. Punt this to management. Why? Then it’s “This is how you behave in a office setting.”, and you aren’t main reason. Also if he doesn’t care, if the higher ups talk to him, he’s less likely to geer it up to drive you mad.

        You think eveyone hates Chewer’s chewing, until you find out no one else cares, and they start wondering what your issue is.

        Office food smells and sound wars can get down right vicious. People know is guy is etiquette challenged. Why wasn’t it brought up before? That’s why I would be leary of going full ham on him myself.

        My coworker allegedly was a crunching machine, I never noticed. Another coworker complained to her, and Cruncher started popping gum when she was around the other person. Not all the time. Not when the supervisors were around. Not during meetings. You never know who will escalated to full bore crazy over a reasonable request.

        I’d let the supervisors be Ms. Manners and train him. You can frame it that it makes him look unprofessional as hell, and that reflects on the company.

    3. Fish Microwaver*

      I’m sorry but unless the meetings are scheduled without notice to coincide with regular meal breaks, I don’t see why an adult can’t eat before or after the meeting. Certainly there is no need for loud foods like chips or messy stuff like salad. A person with a medical need to eat could and probably would, take something discreet like a snack bar to meet their needs. OP, your coworker is an inconsiderate glutton who needs to be pulled into line.

      1. Colette*

        Some adults have more than one meeting in a day. In fact, some adults have back-to-back meetings and have no other option if they’d like to eat.

        And you can try to pull a coworker into line, but there’s a good chance that will not end well.

        1. medium of ballpoint*

          This is really common in my industry. Someone might be presenting during their 11:00 meeting, have a 12:00 phone meeting, and a 1:00 meeting with external clients, so if all folks are doing during their 2:00 meeting is listening to coworkers/bosses, heckin’ yes they’re bringing their salads/sandwiches/chips/crackers/carrots. It’s so typical that it’s not a big deal at all.

      2. Yojo*

        It communicates a bit of “this meeting isn’t work my full attention, so I might as well snack.”

        1. smoke tree*

          Yeah, if I worked with someone like that, I would probably assume they just snacked through meetings out of boredom. Either way, he’s probably going to be reluctant to stop eating altogether, but maybe the LW can make some headway with his terrible table manners and possibly asking him to save something quieter/less messy for meetings.

      3. J.B.*

        I’ve been running back and forth before and eaten a granola bar or something. IMO totally fine if it’s quiet and not smelly. But normally I’ll step out of a long meeting for a handful of almonds.

  19. Cordoba*

    For #5, my standard response to conditional job offers is “OK, but I’m not notifying my current employer of my departure until you come back with a non-conditional job offer.”

    Often their response is “We really want you to get here and get started soon. Why don’t you could give notice now and then while you work out your last 2 weeks we’ll do the background checks and drug test?” Hahaha, no.

    After I’ve accepted a conditional offer I’ll stop job searching, but no way am I upsetting things at my current meal ticket based on a maybe offer.

    If the new employer really needs me onboard right now to start making progress with their synergies and paradigms then they can either hurry their background/drug checks along or they can just skip them and give me a real offer.

    1. OP5*

      That makes sense. What I’d been wondering about was whether it made sense to turn down the possibility of a better meal ticket based on a maybe offer.

  20. ShopLady*

    OP 4- for a comic take on your situation, you should read The Assistants by Camille Perri about an executive assistant who is accidentally reimbursed twice for her media mogul bosses travel. If you’ve ever had crushing student loan debt or felt exhausted from booking another persons (expensive!) lifestyle, it’s a great quick and hilarious read

  21. londonedit*

    I’ve never worked in an office where it’s acceptable for people to bring food to meetings, let alone eat it while they’re actually speaking. People bring water or tea/coffee, and sometimes in meetings there might be a plate of biscuits (although often people don’t even take those, maybe just at the beginning or end of the meeting). Is this a normal thing in other people’s experience? Everywhere I’ve worked, you plan your eating around whatever meetings you have. I’d find it totally bizarre and pretty rude if someone turned up to a meeting and started eating their lunch.

    1. MK*

      I have to say I agree, especially if the meeting is one-on-one, where you are supposed to be an acrtive participant (as opposed as to quietly munching on something while listening to other people talk).

    2. Myrin*

      Oh my, that’s what was bothering me about that letter! I couldn’t quite put my finger on it because I’ve never worked in a “traditional” office, but in my experience with academic/university (-adjacent) meetings it’s been exactly like you say.

    3. DJ Hammerhead*

      Same. Food can be smelly and unpleasant to be around, especially if you have a table of people all eating different things and the smells mingle. Plus you can’t really start laying down arbitrary rules like ‘cheese is okay, the cheddar kind but not the stinky blue kind, tuna is forbidden but peanut butter is okay’ etc. as everyone has different ideas on what they like to eat.

      It’s rude too, it signals ‘this meeting wasn’t important enough for me to schedule my break around, I can’t give it my full attention’ and also makes someone seem a little disorganised or impulsive (really, you couldn’t find any other slot in your day to scarf a sandwich down? Or you’re so beholden to your stomach you just can’t wait to eat a full meal, instead of grabbing a snack beforehand if you’re ravenous? Medical issues aside).

      I’ve seen it happen once or twice but it’s alwas side eyed and frowned upon, the optics aren’t great and I do think it makes the eater seem a little tone deaf to how they’re coming across to others. If it was just a meeting between the two of us I would absolutely say ‘oh, I didn’t realise you were taking your lunch now: I’ll give you ten minutes and come back’. And if it happened more than once I would be having a discussion about professional office norms. It’s disrespectful. Nobody wants to sit and watch their coworker eat when you’re supposed to be working, with all of the attendant smells and sounds and sights!

    4. Birch*

      Yeah, same. I cannot believe people are actually this rude (well, I can, but I don’t want to). In my experience lunch meetings are where EVERYONE has lunch, and typically there’s a main presenter who doesn’t eat at the same time as everyone else, not this situation where people are trying to eat and talk at the same time! That’s so inconvenient and inefficient! I’ve always thought it’s rude to eat when nobody else was eating, unless it’s absolutely necessary, which it doesn’t sound like is the case here. Nobody NEEDS to eat salad and chips at all hours of the day. If I was in a situation where I absolutely had to eat and needed to get to a meeting I would either 1. come 5 minutes late after shoving some food in my face or 2. bring a power bar. Not a full meal. This guy is SO RUDE.

    5. Glomarization, Esq.*

      If my schedule/workload that day has been wack, and some afternoon meeting is the first time since breakfast that I’ve been able to catch a break from my tasks, then I’ll bring in whatever portion of my lunch is quietest and try to finish it quickly.

    6. BRR*

      It depends on the office. In my office it’s common to do this and i was surprised because I’ve never worked anywhere where it was acceptable. I really don’t like it. I feel like people aren’t paying attention, I feel like I’m ruining their lunch, and it can be gross like letter 1.

    7. Sam.*

      In my office, if one person is eating during a meeting, it’s because their schedule that day precluded them from taking an actual break for lunch or a snack. It’s generally restricted to smaller meetings, where there are fewer people to distract. I don’t find this disrespectful or rude. If someone needs a pick me up in order to function or better focus, and this is the most informal setting they’ll have all afternoon, I’m not going to begrudge them some yogurt while we talk.

      But I do think it’s polite to either apologize for eating in front of them or ask, “Do you mind if I have a snack?” before diving in. If the coworker isn’t giving her the chance to shut it down, I think Alison’s, “I’ll give you 10 minutes” script is a good place to start. I imagine he’ll protest that he doesn’t need time and they can get started, but that opens the door for her to say something like, “I actually find eating really distracting, so this way you get your snack and then we can both fully focus on our conversation. Win-win!”

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        This is my experience as well. It’s unusual, but not wildly outside the norm, and the person who’s eating generally makes a point of a) apologizing and b) keeping it tidy and quiet. Then we just move on with the meeting and nobody thinks anything else about it.

        Which sounds very much *not* like what’s happening with OP1, if the coworker is being this disruptive! You’d be doing yourself and everyone else in the meeting a favour, if you speak up about it.

        1. Washi*

          Same, and it would usually just be a small quick snack, like a granola bar or some nuts, to tide the person over. I don’t know about anyone else, but I kinda need to concentrate to eat a salad! You have to spear the greens, get the toppings on there, put it in your mouth all in one go without bits falling off or sticking awkwardly out of your mouth. It’s not a subtle food, and the fact that the coworker is talking with his mouth full makes this even more egregious.

          I agree with other suggestions that you can’t tell him not to bring the salad, but if he’s trying to talk with his mouth full, you can just say “it’s ok! we can come back to you” and move on for a bit.

    8. CheeryO*

      No, I find it bizarre too. The only time people eat during our meetings is when everyone, or almost everyone, is eating – either early morning meetings when someone brings donuts/muffins or lunch meetings with pizza or sandwiches or whatever.

      I can think of a time or two when someone was eating an apple in a meeting, and I found it really distracting and obnoxious, only because our meetings are infrequent and fairly short, so there’s no reason you need to be crunching away while everyone else is trying to listen.

      1. Fish Microwaver*

        Yes, eating meetings are usually signaled by the plate of pastries or sandwiches and some juice or coffee. OP1’s coworker sounds like he doesn’t care and is more engaged with his food than the meeting.

    9. Tardigrade*

      No, this is not typical in my experience. On rare occasion the organizer will provide lunch and/or encourage attendees to bring their lunch due to the timing, but it’s even more rare that a single person is eating a meal. And even then, it’s because they have no other time and apologize for it, aren’t loud, and finish quickly.

    10. Trout 'Waver*

      I totally agree here. In my experience, you don’t eat a meal during a meeting. If lunch is called for during a meeting, we stop the meeting and socialize while eating together. Then resume the meeting. I thought “don’t conduct business over food” was basic manners?

      The only exception is a “lunch and learn” where one person presents a less formal talk while everyone else eats and listens.

    11. Rusty Shackelford*

      Yes, unless it’s literally a lunchtime meeting, this is odd to me. I used to have a coworker who would always eat her breakfast at our weekly staff meetings. They didn’t start until she’d been in the office for at least an hour, so it always seemed like she saved her breakfast so she could eat it at the meeting, rather than not having had time to eat it earlier. No one else ate during this meeting unless someone brought snacks for the entire group, which occasionally happened. It wasn’t bad, just… I don’t know. Odd.

    12. Holly*

      I’m an attorney, so no, it wouldn’t be normal in my job. But in other contexts for example start up world or other casual environments, I expect it wouldn’t be rude at all.

    13. Murphy*

      When I was pregnant, I brought food to meetings all the time. Granted it was a snack and not a whole meal, but I don’t think it’s all that weird.

    14. AliP*

      Totally normal, in my experience. I work in marketing and folks are often in back-to-back meetings and on tight deadlines. Sharing snacks, bring food to meetings: all normal and understood that it’s part of the tight scheduling and deadline-driven environment.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Agree, I guess this varies more than I thought by office. Nonprofit here, and it wouldn’t be unusual in this or past jobs at all – I’ve always worked at pretty casual offices.

      2. bonkerballs*

        Same, totally normal in my office. There’s no way to know exactly what the day’s going to be like, so you can plan for a lunch break but it’s not necessarily going to happen. And pushing back on someone eating in a meeting with you would be extremely weird.

    15. Not A Morning Person*

      In my current office we occasionally bring our own snacks into the morning staff meetings, coffee, a breakfast bar, a yogurt, or fruit, but it’s never been a problem and it’s the only meeting where people typically bring their own food. If the food is provided for a lunch meeting or some other type of meeting, that is different and people are expected or encouraged to partake of the treats offered. Most people have coffee or water or something, but I’ve never seen anyone bring a meal to a meeting. But even then most of us if not all of us would be grossed out by someone chewing with their mouth open, talking with their mouth full, and having food drop out of their mouth. It hasn’t happened that I’ve noticed, but I would hope that someone would speak up and say, “close your mouth while you’re chewing, please” or “no talking with food in your mouth, please”.

    16. Someone Else*

      Not typical in my experience. Either the meeting was planned in advance and known to be a lunch meeting (in which case food id provided for everyone) or if one of the participants is in back to back to back and had no other chance to eat, they’d usually acknowledge that right at the start and say something like “do you mind if I eat this while we talk? I’m in 5 hours of consecutive meetings today.” It’s never considered a given that one person would randomly bring food along. Beverages sure. Not food.

    17. smoke tree*

      In my office, it’s not unusual for someone to eat their lunch during a meeting, if the timing works out that way. But I think it would be weird if it was just one coworker constantly eating in every meeting. It kind of reminds me of someone I went to high school with, who would bring a five-course meal to class every day and spend a lot of time laying it all out on his desk and working his way through it. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he started bringing table linens and a candle.

    18. Book Lover*

      We always have food at meetings. In the morning, people bring breakfast or it is offered. At lunch, there is lunch or people bring their own. If there is a longer meeting (all morning or afternoon for training) there are usually snacks and coffee and tea available. I work in medicine and we don’t have the ability to eat before or after meetings, typically, as we would be seeing patients at those times.
      In CME, people would revolt if there weren’t meals and snacks offered, I think :)

    19. Lucille2*

      I think it’s rude to bring your own food into a meeting. The exceptions being working lunches, meetings where food is brought in, all day meetings (again food is usually brought in). Drinks are fine. I guess if it’s ok in the office culture, there isn’t much OP can do. But someone will always be annoyed somehow. I doubt the OP is alone.

    20. pleaset*

      ” Is this a normal thing in other people’s experience?”

      Yes where I work – we’re really busy, dealing with multiple time zones, travel, external meetings. Sometimes people are not able to eat lunch or breakfast at “normal” times and are hungry or will be.

  22. RedPsycho*

    Op 1, if everyone else eats during meetings sometimes, I don’t think you can make an exception for just one person. However, for the sake of everyone involved, I’d ask him to have better manners. I’d just politely ask him not to chew with his mouth open or speak with food in his mouth. This is a grown man, he should have learned this by now, and you’ll be doing him and everyone around him a favor by kindly asking him to stop.

  23. Anon for this one*

    OP#3 – Speaking from personal experience here, as I’m about to leave a job where this occurred. The position ended up being a total bait-and-switch in terms of the workload, the focus of the work and the scope of responsibilities, simply because the person who left didn’t properly instruct the person who took over for her about a lot of things – the scope of both jobs (the leaver’s job and my job), and now I’m being micromanaged by someone who’s learning her new job herself, and not giving me any work except cleaning up her messes. If I’d known this was what I was walking into, I would have totally steered clear of this job.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      I’ve definitely been interviewed and hired to work closely with someone (meaning I had factored our chemistry into my decision) only to have that person leave before my start date. It sucks but it happens. Perhaps one reason its quite common is because lack of the needed position burned out the supervisor faster and they started looking.

  24. Juli G.*

    OP5: It’s a little annoying but we’re usually pretty understanding when people pull out of job offers as long as their professional (as opposed to ghosting after completing their paperwork.

    I guess I’m a little confused- are employers doing criminal backgrounds before offer? We do references pre offer but avoided criminal until offer due to ban the box laws and our background provider told us this was typical.

    1. Emi.*

      When I got my government job, they conditionally offered me the job and then did a background investigation that involved interviewing my tutoring students about my loyalty to the United States (how I imagine this went: “Do you believe that Emi has any allegiance to a foreign power?” / “Uh, she seems pretty obsessed with this German number theorist from two hundred years ago, does that count?”)

      1. Juli G.*

        Yeah, that sucks. And other employers may do it wildly different than we do – I’ll admit my experience is limited. But I also don’t feel bad because by the time we get to the offer, we’re committed unless we find out you’re a recent violent criminal or you’re an accountant with a history of financial crimes. Neither of those will likely come as a surprise to the person.

        1. Emi.*

          I was pretty sure I would pass, but they did stress that I shouldn’t move or give notice until I got a firm offer, so at least they were being up-front with me. (Then I got a firm offer, accepted, gave notice, moved, started, and … was notified of the favorable adjudication of my background investigation four months later, so who even know? *gestures vaguely* Government, man!)

      2. McWhadden*

        Federal government (and some state government jobs) are so much more intense than I think most people can imagine. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the reasons for it. But I wouldn’t be at all surprised if someone found it way too invasive and pulled out of a job over it. People don’t expect the tracking down and questioning of people in your life you didn’t name and may not have spoken to in years. And it takes so long.

  25. Champagne_Dreams*

    There are too many jurisdictions where the law says a criminal background check must not be performed until after a conditional offer is made. It’s simply the law — first the offer, then the background check can begin. My HR advice to candidates is always that they should never put in notice at the old job until our background results are confirmed as clear, and we also talk our hiring managers down off the ledge on that point regularly (i.e., “I know you really want her to start ASAP but it’s not ok to pressure her to put in notice yet”).

  26. Juli G.*

    OP 2: Not sure where your colleagues are but we had a regular meeting with participants in the EST, the CST, Italy, Germany, India, Hong Kong, and China. 7am or 8am calls for the US sucked but it meant 7pm or 8pm for China. If I just was meeting with China, I could offer them the inverse and do 7pm but it wouldn’t work if I needed any Europeans or Indians.

    The point is that scheduling global calls suck and a lot of people that leave our company complain about how much global work there is.

    My advice is to understand what daily global calls are trying to accomplish. If this is just a daily recap call, could email 4 days a week and 1 meeting accomplish the same thing?

    1. Tardigrade*

      Yeah, it being daily is what would bother me most. Does absolutely everyone have to attend? Could a couple of rotating people attend and send minutes to the others?

  27. doingmyjob*

    A slight rant–I really hate it when people refer to certain tasks or certain types of jobs as “menial.” Honest work should be respected. After all, it’s important enough to someone to offer pay to someone who does this work. Can we think of another word that doesn’t disrespect the millions of people who feed their families and pay their bills doing what some might consider “menial” work?

    1. Find A Better Word*

      I 100% agree. If there were not those of us taking care of those “menial” tasks and executives had to take care of them, some companies might be a lot less successful.

    2. Anonygoose*

      Well, seeing as the definition of menial just is “not requiring much skill and lacking prestige”, I think that accurately describes a lot of administrative jobs. I don’t think menial is a derogatory term.

    3. Bea*

      These tasks also expose you to many things about a position that can and do lead to growth. It’s why I now advise executives and have had businesses dropped in my lap. So thumbing your nose at calendars and phone calls makes me roll my eyes heavily.

    4. Roscoe*

      But it is menial work. That doesn’t mean its not honest. There are plenty of jobs that are just very basic tasks that need to be done. I’ve had them. I’ve never had a problem saying “I spent all day just doing menial tasks” . I think people need to not get so hung up on word choice here.

        1. doingmyjob*

          Hello. I made that original comment and it honestly was not my intent to police the letter writer. It just spurred some thing on my part. I have been guilty of using that language myself and I should have included that in my post. I heard our admin assistant in the bathroom crying last week because someone had referred to her job as doing menial work. She is a single mom and works really hard. It made me more aware of how I speak of other’s jobs and to be respectful. My apologies to the OP and to the group. . I like AAM and appreciate how much good information is here.

          1. OP4*

            For what it is worth, I did second-guess my use of that word :) but ultimately it’s being used to reflect my personal feelings towards my specific tasks, and was appropriate for this letter because a long-term hunt for a double-refund I can’t/shouldn’t question feels very menial indeed.

  28. LKW*

    OP#2 – While your schedule is important, I think you need to really think about who is also getting on the call and if the situation were reversed, would that be acceptable?

    For the last several years I have been working with global teams – as in 1, 4, 6, 13 hours time differences all on the same call. Everyone has to give a little in order to make it work. If the time is being set because you have some team members who are in a time zone 12 or 13 hours difference – that’s 8 or 9 pm for them.

    I say this as someone who has to get up and be in the office sometimes for 6 am calls and be on the phone for 7-9 pm calls on the same day, so my sympathy is admittedly limited.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Yeah, if I had to be in work mode at 9 pm just so you didn’t have to be in work mode at 8 am, I wouldn’t have any sympathy either. 8 am is very, very standard.

      But if that’s not the case, and meeting at 9 am wouldn’t put anyone else on a crazy schedule, I’d go ahead and suggest it.

  29. Persimmons*

    #2 I would push back on this daily meeting as soon as possible. I am very familiar with being assured of flexible scheduling, only to have it eaten away by meeting after meeting. Higher ups love to roll in after 9:00 and then expect everyone to come to their daily “tell me what I missed” meetings after 5:00.

  30. Delta Delta*

    #1 – Wasn’t there an episode of Seinfeld where George said he would always start eating an apple before he called a woman he was dating because it made him seem more casual or relaxed, or something like that? I sometimes get the sense that people think if they’re eating it makes them seem more open.

    You’re totally within your right, during 1:1 meetings or smaller meetings to tell the dude you find the eating distracting. Especially if these meetings happen in your office or your workspace.

  31. grey*

    As a prospective new hire I would be very wary of joining a job where my immediate manager hinted at structural changes that might happen right as I was being hired or if they told me, in confidence, that they were looking for work elsewhere. It would have nothing to do with licenses but everything to do with how I’ve seen very similar things happen and how it affected the morale of the new hire (I’ve seen it happen twice now where a new hire starts and fairly quickly after their hiring manager is walked out the door. One of those times it was the same day the new hire started).

    1. Lil Fidget*

      I agree, if OP confided in me during my interview that was looking to leave, I might be taken aback. I’d also probably assume the place was awful since OP is leaving because they were unhappy.

    2. Kathleen_A*

      It would just be so awkward – and I don’t think it would be all that helpful, either. Hearing “I will definitely be gone” would be useful, but “I might be, but then again, I might not” just would not. Really, any time you’re hired, the plain fact is that the person who hired you might be gone soon after you start. Life happens, you know?

  32. LGC*

    LW1, has he ever brought crackers? I’m asking because it sounds like he’s your BEC, and I want to know if he’s gone all the way.

    But…I totally feel for you. I have that same issue (and feel slightly like a crazy person for it). I’m just curious – is he the only person that brings food to meetings though? Because I feel like if he’s the only “offender”, that makes things different.

    Also, aside from his terrible table manners (can we send him to a finishing school? I’ll start a scholarship fund), how is he? Because I know I’ve been at BEC stage with some people, and…it’s hard to see past what annoys you. If you can, try to get him in a context where he’s not eating.

    Finally, how long are the meetings?

      1. LGC*

        That was my thinking!

        LW1 doesn’t detail everyone else’s behavior or how often they have meetings that include Fergus. And the context matters – if it’s multiple hourly meetings per week, that’s different than a weekly 15 minute meeting.

        (And I feel like I’m coming off as blaming LW1 for their reaction! That’s not what I want to say – it’s that LW1 sounds very annoyed by Fergus’s extremely impolite but not very harmful behavior. And that’s spurred by something that can be socially acceptable in certain situations. So there’s a lot of context missing, and as repulsive as Fergus is, in the end he’s only making himself look like a boor.)

        But at the very least – I’m not sure if they can manage it, but I feel like humor might be able to defuse the situation (especially if it’s a smaller meeting amongst peers). The problem is that to execute this properly you have to not seem like you’re angry. Alternately, if LW1 can mention this to him before or after the meeting benignly, that might be effective as well – I don’t know if LW1 has ever mentioned that they’ve told Fergus that they have a habit of talking with their mouth full.

  33. Ann Onimous*

    #5 I have related question here.
    In my “neck of the woods” background checks are mainly the exception, but foreign companies have started doing them as well. How do you know if you’ve passed the background check?
    Do you get an actual yes/no before your start date? Or do you just assume, that no news is good news?

    1. Skeeball*

      I recently went through a background check where the company used GoodHire to run it. I filled out my personal info and when the background check was done I received a link to the results the company was getting, and could log in to view them. I think there was a way to contest info that you thought was wrong. Mine was fine except that it showed me as having been a resident in Texas, which I never have. But I didn’t bother to try to correct that.

  34. sheworkshardforthemoney*

    OP1 Your only recourse is to say no messy, noisy foods or anything that requires two hands to consume during meetings. Or state that food crumbs attract vermin so no more eating in the conference room. You can’t be the only person who doesn’t want to see half eaten food fall on the table. We re-furbished our library/media room and made a hard no food or drinks rule for it.

  35. Tech Writer*

    To Letter Writer #1, has your doctor checked you for Misophonia? I have a coworker who has this diagnosis, and our office accommodates his particular sound sensitivity (also chewing) by banning gum in the office and requesting people not bring food to meetings (also helpful as most of our meetings involve web conferencing!).

    1. McWhadden*

      I don’t have that but I am usually pretty laid back and not about creating new restrictive rules at work but I would LOVE a ban on gum. Man, that’s the dream. The woman in the office across from me pops her’s all afternoon long.

    2. WellRed*

      I would love love love a ban on gum! My boss, who I otherwise adore, snaps/cracks and pops. I sometimes mentally refer to her as Rice Krispie Treat.

    3. Astrid*

      I have never heard of this type of ban in an office – it sounds awesome!

      I’ve already trained my family not to eat crunchy things in my presence. It was pure hell at my last firm, where every meeting was fully catered. I would usually sit through the meetings discretely plugging one ear (or finding every excuse to avoid attending). When I hosted a meeting and got to choose the menu, I was horrified to see a bowl of chips and salad – the coordinator said he thought I had overlooked these items because we always have them Ugh!

      Thankfully misophonia is more widely known these days, it doesn’t seem to odd to tell people that you’re adversely affected by seemingly routine sounds.

  36. Erin*

    To OP#3 I was the new hire employee in a situation similar to yours. The man who hired me planned on leaving the company within a couple months. It worked out great. But it’s also because he was leaving because he was retiring so upper management new well ahead of time. You should’ve saw his face light up when he found out about the wedding countdown app. He used his retirement date instead of a wedding date. I kinda miss him.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      I guess the only difference is that OP may get a job offer like, before this person even starts, perhaps during the offer period.

  37. CleverGirl*

    #2: I left a job over a standing morning meeting. I used to get to work at 8 am and we had a daily meeting at 9 am. It was mostly a waste of time (just everyone giving “updates” about what they were working on, which in my case didn’t change much from day to day) and it was very disruptive to my work. I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on anything when I knew I was going to be interrupted in an hour or less to go to the morning meeting, so I ended up just wasting time between 8 and 9 checking email and surfing the web. My coworkers and I brought this to our manager hoping to get the meeting time changed to afternoon (when things are slow anyway) to no avail. I suspect the true purpose of the meeting was to make sure people were getting to work on time since we had somewhat flexible schedules. I hated it and found a better job and left.

    Maybe you could inquire why a daily meeting is needed in the first place. I suspect it isn’t actually necessary.

    1. Not Today Satan*

      Yeah, that’s annoying. At my last job I had a regular 9am meeting with an executive leader. It sucked because I couldn’t be a moment late, but she was late every other time. Also it was in her office (not a conference room), so I couldn’t just wait in the room, I had to keep creeping by her office to see if she was there. It all seemed very “power move” to me.

    2. Turquoisecow*

      My old job’s official hours were 8:30-4:45, and many people were hourly. Sometimes managers would schedule meetings at 8:30am, and I’m sure they knew full well that some people really came in at 8:35, or came in at 8:30 and then went to get breakfast (we had a cafeteria on site), or pour some coffee, or heat up some breakfast they’d brought from home. It was definitely a power move.

      I was usually on time, but I liked having a few minutes to sit down, get settled, scroll through the previous day’s emails, and just generally mentally prepare myself for the day. And sometimes I’d hit traffic and be late. And sometimes my boss would leave a note on my desk “come see me!” or be literally waiting for me when I came in. So annoying.

  38. McWhadden*

    Re #4 I think you got his answer on this when he told you to keep pursuing it. As others have noted, in some countries there are laws to give people some money for the inconvenience and hassle not just reimburse costs. Some companies have policies that address that sort of thing but most don’t.
    It sounds like this is a SUPER annoying thing to have to do. He obviously does alright for himself and got all his expenses back why make you go through all of this hassle? (Not that you’re complaining but that would annoy me to no end.) But I’m not sure it really is an ethical violation unless it violates a specific policy.

    Re #2 I am 1000% in favor of flex schedules no doubt. But… sometimes they can be a bit of a scam or misleading. Most places (although I know there are exceptions) wouldn’t schedule something for hours outside of business hours. But with flex time there are none! That being said it is very difficult to accommodate international schedules. So, maybe push back in other ways than time. Does it need to be daily?

  39. MissDisplaced*

    #1 Ban anything other than drinks from meetings. Period.

    #2 It’s very common to move meetings earlier due to time zones, so I’d ask if there is a particular reason for them moving to 8am. If that is the reason, there might not be much you can do about it, as the rest of your day is still considered flexible. I work from home a lot, but my day is still expected to be 8-5 availability for the most part. I work with a lot of others that have Asia calls, and their work at home time flex time does reflect that.

    #4 Do you not use corporate credit cards? Normally, any refund would go back onto the card and thus back to the company. But yes, any type of refund like this needs to return to the company unless there are special circumstances where he was out-of-pocket for alternate travel or accommodation that resulted from the cancelled flight and the refund is being allocated to him for that purpose. Typically, if that were the case, the company would still collect the airline refund, and then reimburse the employee. I always think of my travel costs as “company money” and keep everything separate. I’d never want to use my own personal card unless it was a dire emergency as that blurs the lines between my money and company money.

    1. McWhadden*

      She explained that he uses his own card and is reimbursed so he gets the points. (I know some corporate cards in your name you can still get points but that’s his system.) And this may not be a reimbursement. It may be compensation on top of reimbursement, which is allowed under the EU laws.

    2. OP4*

      He uses personal cards for the rewards, ie: miles, cash back, points etc. – believe me I have TRIED to get him to use the company card for even just airfare, to no avail :)

  40. Not Today Satan*

    I hate meals in meetings. Hate it so much. Well simple things like a muffin is ok, or the OCCASIONAL “sorry I got booked in meetings all day” situation, but certain people bring heated meat and broccoli, or a crunchy salad, or other fragrant or otherwise annoying foods literally every time.

  41. Roscoe*

    #1 I’m someone who always snacks during meetings. I hate the majority of them (since I feel like many are pointless) and it keeps me alert. If its around lunch or breakfast time, I’ll definitely bring a meal. If someone asked me to stop bringing food because of their own idiosyncracy, I’d be PISSED. I not only wouldn’t do it, I’d probably start bringing louder stuff since they think they can dictate when I can eat. Don’t say anything. This is your issue that you need to deal with on your own.

    #4 . I also disagree with Alison on this . I don’t think you have to be missing a significant life event or something. If you got stuck in an airport an additional 3-4 hours, you deserve to be compensated for your time. Airlines will often offer a travel credit along with a refund or something, do you think that belongs to the company too? Probably not. I think as long as the company is getting their money back, any additional money the boss is able to get is fine. Now I can understand the assistant not wanting to deal with it, but I don’t find his behavior unethical.

  42. epi*

    For OP 3, I would be focusing on what they do know and trying to split the difference.

    I don’t know how actively they are job searching besides this one opportunity, but in their letter they sound unhappy with their company in general. They can’t know that they will be leaving the new hire on their own immediately, but it sounds like they probably will leave within a year or two. I think it would be pretty reasonable to look at candidates that could at least handle that, unless the pay difference would be huge or something.

    1. Kes*

      Yes, this is what I was thinking as well. I suppose it’s possible this is a one time offer that came up, but if the OP is considering leaving in general I would lean towards getting a more experienced hire. It seems to me that having a more experienced hire if you do decide to stay is likely a better outcome than having an inexperienced hire and deciding to leave, both for the hire and for the company.

  43. Bea*

    If he’s been reimbursed and this isn’t an “inconvenience” fee some are confirming is possible for places, yes he’s being dicey and getting money that should be given to the company. Tax wise he’s receiving income for anything over his reimbursed amount. However, barring him cooking books completely or triggering a personal audit along the way, it’s something done regularly by many,the risks are low enough.

    It’s not your place to speak to him. If you’re concerned, ask accounting. Either way your job is going to be at risk for pushing back and questioning him. So proceed cautiously. Unless he’s breaking major laws that can land everyone in hot water or you want to try your hand in the laws that should protect you, I just wouldn’t.

    1. OP4*

      “However, barring him cooking books completely or triggering a personal audit along the way, it’s something done regularly by many,the risks are low enough. It’s not your place to speak to him.” This is the direction in which my heart leads me, honestly. He’s been with the company 20 years, I’ve been here two, and I don’t even intend to be here three. I want to ask though because I know this man would not intentionally do something shady, and he’s thanked me in the past for pointing out a “gray area” which could potentially paint an awkward situation. But this is tricky!

  44. Fluff*

    For the hive mind with OP #1 – what if the grossness is your boss or a higher up? I had this happen recently where he was inhaling food and talking directly across from me. I feigned a quick potty break (which usually works for all sorts of situations). However, my expression unfortunately was obvious – my co-workers said it was so obvious when he started talking and yes, food was unsuccessfully corralled by his hand, that I had the just-thew-up-a-bit -in-my-mouth-epxression as I made my temporary exit. In these situations I cannot look at the speaker. Reminds me too much of the farm and cows and pigs chewing and drooling.

    Do you do the same surprised “We can wait until you are done chewing” to a boss or grandboss?

    1. McWhadden*

      It depends on the relationship but, in most cases, I don’t think you really can with your boss. Especially if other people are present. You shouldn’t embarrass your boss, even though he is clearly embarrassing himself.

    2. BRR*

      I also think it depends on your relationship. This might be one of those times where you present something as one of your weird quirks (even though not talking with your mouthful isn’t an unusual preference).

  45. Mother of Cats*

    I’m a grazer – especially when marathon training – and eat pretty much every hour, or else I’ll get really sleepy. It’s something I’ve done since grade school (teachers allowed it for me). Sometimes I’ll even get migraines from not eating. People have made comments about it, all out of amusement, and fortunately no one has actually told me to not bring food to a meeting. That would be out of line, and unless that person was senior to me I’d keep eating.

    One time a manager did ask me not to talk while I was eating, so I am conscious about that. OP #1, I’d focus more on manners than the eating itself. Take your colleague aside and ask him not to talk while he’s chewing. That’s way more reasonable. No one’s going to stop eating during meetings unless you’re the boss.

    1. Elle*

      I don’t think its unreasonable to bring food to meetings, I have a very similar story to yours, but I do try to be respectful about it. For instance I save my celery and carrot sticks for non-meeting times to avoid loudly crunching into the telecom, lol.

      1. Mother of Cats*

        I agree! I’m mindful of “louder” foods during meetings, especially if it’s a conference call. Or I’ll just put my phone on mute if I’m not speaking. :)

    2. LGC*

      Definitely! He may not even be aware that he’s being gross and rude, and the more I think about it, the more I feel like he should be given at least a chance to save face.

  46. You know what I've learned...*

    Reading this column, everyone complains about everything. Today I am dealing with an employee who claims he has “sensitivity” to his name badge. We are government contractors. You have to have a badge. You have to wear it above your waist. We have offered him various options–lanyard around the neck, retractable lanyard on his shirt pocket, etc. Nope. He claims it “bothers” him. This is the world we live in. People can’t follow simple directions or accept there are things in the world that annoy them and they must work around them.

    I get there are medical situations, but the mentality of “I don’t like it” or “it bothers me” crops up in this column so much IDK how these people function at life.

    1. J.B.*

      Someone eating in a meeting, especially chewing with his mouth open so food falls out, is a legitimate thing to be grossed out by. And often the questions tend toward the “this is weird right” gut check. I’m sorry about your employee, that sounds irritating – but you are generalizing A LOT.

    2. Fluff*

      Reading this all I hear is Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy complaining about not wearing the space suit “It hurts my nipples.” (Drax is a big muscular built 7 foot tall tough warrior dude). Your employee needs a little Drax sticker for his lanyard. Oi.

  47. checkert*

    LW1: Sounds like it’s time for a general: no food at meetings that aren’t lunch meetings. Could always be under the guise of possible food allergies?
    LW2: Am I the only one that’s raising eyebrows to having a recap meeting EVERY DAY?

    1. Cereal Morning*

      The daily meeting for remote/work at home teams (where no one is in the office) is pretty normal, they often get cancelled depending on what is going on and how busy it is. My remote job does it and it was a big point in most interviews i’ve had for remote work that this meeting would be mandatory but I work in Marketing consulting, so maybe not as big of a deal if you were in another field.

  48. Cait*

    OP #2 – I work the majority of my time remotely, 8AM at my company isn’t unusual and most people would get some side-eye if they insisted their “start time” was 9AM (assuming you’re a salaried employee). It’s one of those expectations of remote work, that you don’t have to commute so you can accommodate earlier and later meetings (I’m speaking from the perspective of my org, not all act this way of course). My company doesn’t have definitive start and end times. Maybe this is adjustment coming from a union background?

    For me, if I have an 8AM call (or sometimes earlier depending on where in the world my colleagues are), I take the call and then break off for a half hour or so and grab some breakfast. I adjust my personal schedule.

    1. Yojo*

      I agree. If a single suggestion doesn’t get any traction, I don’t think “I’m not a morning person” is a good excuse for pushing back on a meeting time that’s presumably convenient for others.

  49. Elle*

    #5 raises a more general point I’ve wondered. Is it unethical to accept a job offer (not conditional) and then accept a different job before starting? I understand you would be burning a bridge… but is it really worse than working at the job for 6 months to a year and then bailing? This is particularly true for people coming out of college when every company is on a different timeline, and your dream job might not start interviewing until after your second choice has sent out all job offers.

    FWIW, I do government work so the offer being conditional on a full background check and drug screening, etc is legally required. But one thing that really frustrated me about the last job was the timing. I accepted 6 months ahead of the start time, and it required a cross country move. But they didn’t start the background process until a month before I started. So I had to quit my job and move all the way across the country without any real promise of a job! I didn’t have anything to hide, but I was terrified there would be some kind of mistake. Plus, if that had happened, I would have had to pay them back the relocation bonus… after spending it on a move, and now jobless. It was so stressful for no reason other than ‘its our standard practice to wait’.

    1. Bruna*

      This is something I am struggling with as a soon to be recent grad. Companies have different timelines for graduates and there are a couple of opportunities that I would say are my “dream” opportunities, but their hiring process starts in April. But I am also not in a position to now work until then, and of course, there is a chance they will not hire me and I will regret not taking a job that while not my “dream” job, is still a very good or decent starter job in my field. But I don’t want to feel “locked in” to a job that is just OK or decent when my dream job is an option.

      1. Elle*

        Obviously I don’t have the answer, but I can give you some feedback on my experience. I, like you, absolutely did not have the resources to risk time off between school and work. I had a dream job in mind and an ‘in’ at the dream company. I started talking to him the beginning of my senior year and I was told there *may* be an opening in April, and it was mine if it materialized, but he couldn’t be sure.
        I ended up taking my #2 job, which was offered to me in November. Maybe its because the job I took didn’t end up being what was sold to me, but I spent a lot of time wondering what could have been. Ultimately though, I know there will always be a chance to go work for the #1 company, and my experience here will only help me be more valuable to them when I get there. There are many people at my current company who have never worked anywhere else, and its really toxic for our culture because there are no fresh or different ideas.

    2. BRR*

      I think it is unethical. It’s better than leaving after starting because they haven’t invested in you but it’s really not great. Unfortunately differing timelines is just part of the job hunting process.

      For your situation, that’s terrible and they should have started earlier. I know people who have had processing errors with background checks and almost had offers revoked (thankfully all were corrected). That’s a huge amount unnecessary stress.

    3. Roscoe*

      I wouldn’t say unethical necessarily. It is definitely burning a bridge. But you have to do what is right for you.

      I once had a job that made a decision about 2 months later than they told me, so of course I kept looking. They eventually decided to give me an offer, and in that time, I found a job I liked more. I was supposed to start on Monday, and the Friday before I got a job offer from the other place. It was also signficantly more money. So I told the first job I could no longer take it. It was definitely the right call and I didn’t feel it was unethical (I did feel bad about it though).

    4. Lucille2*

      I think it’s worth being upfront with the recruiter or hiring manager about your situation. It’s not unusual for a candidate to be looking at other opportunities as well, and there is always the possibility that something better comes along. My experience as a hiring manager has been with mid to sr level employees, not entry-level of recently graduated college, so there may be more bargaining power for a candidate with more experience. I have had candidates who accepted an offer back out when there was a long time before the start date. Do what you feel is best, but understand it may run the risk of burning a bridge.

      As for background checks, my company does those too, but they don’t start until after a candidate has accepted an offer. I usually advise my candidates not to resign from their current job until after the background check is complete as it can take a few weeks. If you’re unsure how long the process takes, just ask! You may not be in a position where you can go a few weeks without income and a hiring manager would understand that.

  50. Bruna*

    #4: Could it be that he is complaining to get compensation for the inconvenience caused rather than the money of the flight. People will often complain about the inconvenience so they can get vouchers or miles. In some countries, the airline is actually legally obligated to give compensation for inconvenience.

    Say my flight has been delayed for hours. I have had 8am flights delayed until 6pm before. My choices are to sit in an airport with not enough seats and use my meal voucher to buy Burger King or a soggy sandwich, or go downtown – but then I have to pay for the airport to city train (an they can be as much as €40 in some places) and my own meal and my own coffee. But I’d really just rather be home. If there isn’t enough time to go downtown, I am stuck in the airport with nothing to do and if there are not many power outlets, I can’t use my phone, so have to go and buy magazines or a book. If I have been delayed overnight and given a hotel, ok fine, but now I now miss out on the brunch with friends I was supposed to attend the next day, or can’t go to my University class the next morning, and now I am stuck going and buying toiletries because I tossed them out at my previous destination because of the liquids requirement.

    It is annoying and inconvenient to be delayed. Even if you get reimbursed for the major expenses, you are often on the hook for little things unless you want to eat Burger King and twiddle your thumbs at the airport.

    But that said, I would never make someone else chase a complaint down for me.

  51. Anonymosity*

    If this guy is talking with his mouth full and spitting food everywhere, I seriously doubt that OP #1 is the only one who is grossed out by his disgusting table manners. Ewww. It would probably make everyone happy if somebody spoke up!

  52. Hiring Mgr*

    I feel like i’m missing something with #4… It sounds like he booked two flights and was reimbursed for one.

    Either way, if you use AAM’s wording here, just be prepared for the job to no longer be so “cushy”

    1. Lehigh*

      Unfortunately, I agree with the second paragraph.

      If he really is using his assistant’s company-paid time to seek a second reimbursement for the ticket cost of already-paid-by-the-company flights (and not an inconvenience fee, as others have suggested), that feels pretty shady to me, too. But as an assistant, I’d imagine a happy boss is what makes your job so good to be in–I’m not sure I would jeopardize that.

      1. OP4*

        “I’d imagine a happy boss is what makes your job so good to be in–I’m not sure I would jeopardize that.” Right, he has absolutely been good to me, and when I am ready to leave here I’ll get recommendations people only dream of…. don’t want to bite the hand that feeds me! However, I do know he’s been appreciative in the past when I’ve pointed out “oh that wouldn’t look good” or “that’s against policy” because he does care about setting the right example. So it’s a rock-me-hardplace situation as long as I have no inkling of how he will spend the cash refund.

  53. Consuela Schlepkiss*

    I commented on this above, but figured it might be worth putting into a separate posting. The co-worker in Letter 1 is creating a huge choking hazard for himself, and OP 1 should be prepared for that. I am a linguist, and this is something I tell my students from day one: Humans were NOT made to speak and eat at the same time – food in the mouth and throat keeps air from going where it needs to, either in or out, and you do not want to get food or drink particles in the lungs or trapped in the throat. So if saying something about the unseemly way he eats seems hard to do, the flat truth is that humans choke to death at a higher rate than other species, and we have to be really careful about that. For safety reasons, it is entirely appropriate to tell him to swallow so he doesn’t die.

    1. Yojo*

      I think choking because of eating and talking at the same time is is unlikely enough that bringing up “choking hazard” would look both very peculiar and entirely disingenuous.

  54. NewJobWendy*

    To OP#3 – I think you should be straight with your candidates. I had a co-worker who was hired by my manager (this co-worker and I were peers). Prior to the co-worker’s start date, our manager said she was leaving the company in a few months and we were instructed not to tell the new hire. The hire was there a month, than informed her manager was leaving in a few weeks, and that the rest of the team had been keeping this secret from her.

    She was crushed. She felt she had been lied to, and she felt it had been a bait-and-switch. Candidates for whom the liscensure is a key part of their decision should be informed that may change. Otherwise they can feel stuck in a job that isn’t going to provide the growth they were led to expect because (rightly or wrongly) they may not feel they can begin a new job search within weeks or months of just starting a new job. If they are in your office job searching and are your final candidate, they surely understand the need for confidentiality.

  55. Em*

    OP#4 – My reaction was that you might not need to be spending company hours doing this. It depends on your situation and the details on the flight. If this is something that he’s paid for with personal money and you’re pursuing a personal reimbursement, that’s doing work for his personal life in a way that I think steps outside of the bounds.

    Can you talk to your reimbursement team lead and ask if you are allowed to be spending hours tracking his personal reimbursement down? Keep track of your hours spent on the project, or give them an estimate. “[Boss] is having me pursue a reimbursement from the airline directly. I wanted to clear that I am ok to spend estimated [X] hours tracking down reimbursement for [flight number] on [date], even though it has been repaid through company funds.”

    Better to have the conversation in person, most likely! Good luck.

  56. bird birg girb*

    First time commenting, so sorry if this is considered off topic, but I have a similar situation to Op #1, only slightly different and would like some guidance. My assistant, who sits next to me, eats at her desk (lunch as well as a 3-4 snacks a day). She often brings noisy things to eat, like rice cakes, but in addition to that she eats loudly and chews with her mouth open.

    I suspect I have misophonia, and have mentioned my condition to her before. The issue is that she genuinely doesn’t seem to have the awareness that she’s eating loudly (she also yawns really loudly, even in meetings with customers, so I suspect she just doesn’t have that level of self-awareness). I did in fact mention to her once that I felt she was eating loudly and she seemed genuinely embarrassed but blamed it on the fact that the cookie was extra crunchy.

    At the company we work for, lots of people eat at their desks, and I regularly do as well, so I don’t think it’d be appropriate to ask her to stop eating near me. So far my solution has been to either put in headphones with loud music or to just walk away. Is there something I can say or do to address things or should I just continue as I have been?

    1. Em*

      I think it’s more than fair to catch the open mouth chewing in the moment and say “Could you chew with your mouth closed? It’s distracting me.”

      For the longer term conversation, there’s not a great way to address it. Maybe, “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but a lot of things you snack on are very crunchy. Could you bring quieter things to eat? Crunching sounds are distracting and we work so close to each other.” Really depends on your closeness level and temperaments. Definitely address it in a moment where neither of you are eating.

  57. Bunny Girl*

    Ugh LW#2 I feel your pain. I used to work someplace that was across town that held staff meetings on a Saturday morning at like 7:30am. I didn’t work Saturdays so I had to get up early and drive all the way across town to go to a twenty minute meeting. The first one I went to, I work up and put on clean (and nice) clothes, but I just pulled my hair back and didn’t put on make-up, and my manager ripped me a new one, even though we had no clients in the store at all. Apparently I was supposed to look like I was there to work even though, I wasn’t scheduled, there was no one in the store, and it was 7:30 on a Saturday morning. Bonus, we weren’t paid for these.

  58. M. Albertine*

    OP#4, I assume your reimbursement policy doesn’t address this situation? Do you have the feeling that this situation was overlooked or whether TPTB don’t care? I understand that you feel icky about his using your (company) labor to pursue double reimbursement, so it might assuage your misgivings by bringing the situation up to whomever is in charge of the policy as a suggestion for future revisions. It might not be retrospectively applicable to the situation you are in now, but would certainly provide clarity going forward.

  59. Barney Stinson*

    Regarding contingent offers: I do not understand them. The reference check is a key step for determining fit, not just ‘did Barney show up on time’ and ‘does Barney have any felonies’? Offering to me before that’s done is nuts, and it reduces the chance of there being a good fit between me and the new employer, and….I’m speechless.

    As far as I’m concerned, I don’t give notice until the background check is done. I can’t imagine anything worse than giving my notice and then finding out that one of my references, while giving me a good reference, volunteers something that betrays a bad fit (because you can be a great employee but a poor fit), and then they pull the offer. Now what am I supposed to do? Convince my boss she never heard that resignation?

    1. Bob Loblaw*

      OldJob required background checks after an offer was accepted. The background checks could take a few weeks due to backlog from the vendor we used. For this reason, we usually advised new hires not to give their current job notice until after the background check was complete. Figuring out start date was always a pain, but we didn’t typically relocate candidates so, fortunately, that never entered the equation.

    2. chrome ate my username*

      References can also be ethical/safety related, if the job is in an organization that deals with vulnerable populations. A key part of the reference checks I’ve done involved asking, several different ways, if they felt the candidate was safe to be around children. Their punctuality and fit is secondary to whether or not they are using us to gain access to children for the purpose of harming them.

  60. Lucille2*

    #1 – If you’ve ever watched Curb Your Enthusiasm, then what you need is a Social Assassin. In other words, someone else to put their own relationship at risk with Food Talker and call out annoying behaviors so you don’t have to.

    #2 – Please consider where others attending the meeting are located at what you’d be asking them to do. I also work for a global company. I’m located on the West Coast while most of my colleagues are on the East Coast or EU. I typically have to take a hit and attend the early meetings since there are far more people attending in other timezones.

  61. Lucille2*

    #4 – Have you checked your company policy on travel reimbursement? It’s possible the company has no issue with his seeking to be reimbursed by the airline after receiving company reimbursement. Some companies have pretty generous travel policies when employees are inconvenienced by air travel delays/cancellations. You may find it’s all on the up and up.

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