my assistant refuses to call in when she’s out sick

A reader writes:

My assistant has been sick quite a bit in the last few months, and she does not “call in” sick (or email or text) to anyone. I have asked her twice to make sure she notifies me each day she will be out. And now for the third time in the past few months, she missed days without notifying anyone. Her pattern is to let us know the first day (or the day she leaves work early) that she is sick, then not contact anyone until she shows up several days later feeling better. We are a very small office (four full-timers), and it’s well-known we can just let any of the others know when we’ll be out.

Isn’t this sort of a common courtesy? I’ve told her face to face twice that I need to be notified each day she misses – but now what? I’m thinking my only real option is to explain that I will have to replace her if it continues, although the work of interviewing and re-training someone is more daunting that just dealing with it.

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

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • My company dinner is at a steakhouse, but many of us are vegetarians
  • I was promoted without a raise
  • Asking if HR mistakenly rejected you for an internal position
  • Resigning when I can’t give two weeks notice

{ 341 comments… read them below }

  1. caryatis*

    LW#2 is going to piss a lot of meat-eaters off. People understand that you have to provide vegetarian options, but since the LW admits that “I could easily find something to eat,” well…no one is going to understand the problem.

    My advice would be to just get over it. Being in our society means you have to deal with being near meat. It’s no different than walking past the butcher case at the grocery store.

    1. Sue Wilson*

      OP has ethical considerations, and it doesn’t make sense to compromise those before asking about it.

      1. fposte*

        I don’t think it’s just the ethics, either–these places smell of sizzled meat, which is great if you like it, but if you don’t eat meat that can be really unpleasant.

        1. AJ*

          I threw up into a nearby waste bin when a particularly smelly dish was put on the table. The smell of rotting, rancid flesh (it was meant to be like that) can do that to me.

      2. Jadelyn*

        Something being an “ethical concern” doesn’t automatically mean it’s a reasonable thing to expect others to work around.

        1. Rat in the Sugar*

          No, but Sue Wilson is only saying that it’s reasonable for OP to ask about it, not that OP should expect their coworker’s to work around it.

        2. Fish Microwaver*

          OP also mentioned that other staff members don’t eat meat either. There are enough of them to approach the boss as a group and request an alternative restaurant. Even if the OP was one out, it’s not reasonable to tell her to just get over it. That’s rude and inconsiderate.

    2. league.*

      Perhaps the “pissed-off” meat-eaters are the ones who should “just get over it,” as the email states – and Alison agrees – that the kind of restaurant where a bunch of animals are carved up at the table is different from just walking past a package of frozen muscle.

      1. JS*

        Alison agreed that OP should say something not that they shouldn’t eat there. She also said OP would be spending a lot of capital dying on the hill. It might just not be worth it. Fake an illness that day or put up with it but you don’t want to rock the boat here, doesn’t seem worth it.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Nah, I don’t think it’s going to be a LOT of capital — what I said was “it depends on how strongly the president wants people there (and how much capital you feel you have to spend on opting out).” I fully support the OP in opting out there.

    3. many bells down*

      As a staunch carnivore, I actually agree with #2. In a regular restaurant, if I order a steak it just comes to me and is on my plate. At the type of restaurant in the letter, they bring large slabs of meat to the table and carve off hunks in front of everyone. It’s a very different experience than a waiter setting a burger in front of me. I will order a steak while eating with my vegan sister-in-law, but I would not bring her to a Brazilian steakhouse.

      1. Clisby Williams*

        Agree. I eat meat, too, but thought of eating in a Brazilian steakhouse makes ME feel slightly nauseated.

        1. Stormfeather*

          While the thought of eating there doesn’t make me nauseated in theory (totally carnivore here, although with nervous and other issues that making eating out in general a bad experience), I also think that as awesome as that sorta place is for those of us who love meat, the idea of selecting it for a group that includes 2 vegans (that you’re closely related to?!?) and a vegetarian is bizarre and tactless, to put it mildly.

          Even if the people can find SOMETHING to eat, they’re a) going to probably feel totally awkward and singled out in this sort of setting, and b) still going to have to deal with being surrounded by MEAT MEAT MEAT and the smells and constant wafting it by their noses and everything else.

          That’s… pretty rude to do to someone who doesn’t eat meat TBH. Either for ethical reasons, because it makes them feel terrible mentally, or even for medical/other reasons because then they get to sit there and have things wafted in front of them that they’d love to partake of but can’t.

          1. Trinity Beeper*

            On top of that – those places aren’t exactly known for their top-notch veggie options. Sure, you can make a meal out of fries and salad but…why wouldn’t you want to opt for something a little more meal-like?

            1. Feline*

              My husband wanted to go one of these places and it’s not my thing, so I researched it. In this part of the country, at least, these places are known for fabulous salad bars. That’s what I ate while he got his meat-o-rama. I’m not vegan or even vegetarian, though. I just didn’t think I could eat that much meat. So I imagine someone who avoids meat for ethical reasons might find it uncomfortable. They wouldn’t have to go hungry, though!

              1. Doreen*

                Yes, some of them have a really good buffet ( it’s more than just a salad bar) . I know some non-red meat eaters who enjoy these places when they either 1) charge a lower price for just the buffet or 2) are having a seafood festival where fish and other seafood are brought to the table. But these people don’t avoid red meat for ethical reasons – it’s for health reasons or because they don’t like the taste. I wouldn’t bring someone who is vegan for ethical reasons to this sort of restaurant.

            2. Liz*

              Actually, all the Brazilian steakhouses I’ve been to have a *great* buffet. The last one included various types of cheese, salad, chickpeas, fruit, cooked and raw vegetable dishes, soups and then some. As a rampant carnivore I have to actively restrain myself from filling up there!

          2. ginger ale for all*

            It might also make it awkward for the staff there. Imagine being a waitstaff and asking people for their orders and hearing that a third of the party are either vegan or vegetarian.

            I cannot have alcohol due to medical reasons and it is weird to go to a bar with co-workers and try to fit in. I don’t think it is on the same scale as this is but being the odd one out isn’t fun. I basically go to show my face and leave after one soda.

            1. Drago Cucina*

              In my experience the staff is used to this. I’ve been to two different Brazilian steakhouse chains on multiple occasions and have only done the salad buffet. A few times have been with big groups. The staff quickly know who is eating the salad. It’s actually one of my favorite work dinner options during Lent. Lots of quality veggies.

              1. AJ*

                As a vegetarian for 40 years, I can’t tell you how pissed off I get when the only option is salad. I’d rather go without, and 99% of the time I do. And when there’s the unhygienic and cross-contamination aspects of so many salad bars. Ugh!

                1. J*

                  Yeah, I’m an omnivore and I LOVE salad bars (although they do indeed seem like a bit of a germ gambit when, say, you have the handle of the tongs used to serve one item resting directly *in* another item, eek) …..but even with my salad bar love I don’t think they’re necessarily a great option for vegans.

                  If the offerings include tofu and seitan and a variety of legumes, then awesome. But if the only plant-based protein source in the whole salad bar is sunflower seeds, that’s pretty limited. When I go out to eat with my vegan bf, I want to make sure he has options, not just *an* option.

        2. Valerie*

          I was just coming here to say the same thing. I can’t even stand the smell coming from the Brazilian steakhouse up the street from where I wait for my evening train. I went to one of these types of restaurants one time for a colleague’s retirement and was nauseated by the end of the lunch from the site and smell of so much butchered meat.

      2. Bagpuss*

        This is where I fall. I love steak , and would enjoy the kind of restaurant which the LW is describing, but I’m well aware that there are a lot of people, including quite a few meat eaters, who would be very uncomfortable (lots of people eat meat but don’t want to see it when it is raw and bloody) and the smell of raw or cooking meat is deeply unpleasant to a lot of vegetarians and vegans.

        I think that unless LW feels their employer is very unreasonable, it is worth raising the issue and politely declining to attend, if she doesn’t feel comfortable going.

    4. McWhadden*

      I’d agree maybe if it was a normal steakhouse with some non-meat options. But bringing vegans or vegetarians to a Brazilian steakhouse is just wrong. Not only because they are literally surrounded by people with hunks of meat on stick. But because it’s not like you all just order your meal and get it at the same time and have that be that. People get their food on an on-going basis off of the people circling with the meat until they indicate they are done. While the people having to order (or get from the buffet) a vegetarian option will be eating what the have in front of them and that’s that.

      It totally messes with the rhythm.

      1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

        And a HUGE part of the Brazilian steakhouse experience is the entertainment factor. It’s like Benihana but with carved meat. It’s a meat show. The carve-at-the-table thing isn’t just incidental, it’s the point.

        Totally understandable for vegetarians to feel ill at ease. Some people love watching meat carved. (Me, kinda!) Some people like seeing horror movies. (Me, definitely!)

        It doesn’t make people who don’t like those things wrong, or wimpy, or pathetic, and it’s totally reasonable for them to object to being obligated to watch them. (And in the steakhouse case, hear and smell them).

        1. Lissa*

          Yeah I love all food but can’t imagine it would be fun to go to a place like that with people who weren’t on board or were uncomfortable! I’d love to try it sometime if I was ever in a place that had one! But it’s like Game of Thrones – I don’t get why people pressure others into watching it, for me it’s only fun if everyone is equally on board!

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      People are allowed to draw their own ethical lines where they choose, and it’s not at all silly that someone would object to being at a table where animals are being sliced up in front of them, or perhaps feel complicit in that in a way they wouldn’t if they were walking past a butcher case at a grocery store. Please don’t tell other people to “just get over” their deeply held ethical beliefs.

      1. Tired*

        Come on, it’s not animals being sliced up in front of them, that’s needless hyperbole. However, it is tone-deaf to knowingly have non-meat eaters on staff and select a meat carnival for obligatory dining. OP should ask that the restaurant choice be reconsidered, or not go. I imagine the smell would be quite off-putting to her. I’m a meat eater, but I can empathize with the OP in this case.

        1. JokeyJules*

          no, they literally slice your portion of meat off of a long sword full of meat. “animals being sliced up in front of them” is not far off at all.

          1. Tired*

            I know what they do. Animals implies the creatures are alive, that’s all I’m saying. The most dedicated meat eater likely would not go for that.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              It’s an animal, one who happens to be dead. I get that people prefer not to think that when they eat meat but the reality is, it’s an animal. Just like a dead human is a human.

        2. AK*

          as a fellow meat eater who’s been to a few Brazilian steakhouses, “animals being sliced in front of them” is pretty accurate. Especially when some also bring around chicken which is still the basic shape of the animal. Not to mention the chicken hearts and other options that are sometimes available. I couldn’t imagine being vegetarian/vegan for ethical reasons and then having a dozen animal hearts passed around the table.

          1. Kyrielle*

            I…I think I would best be served by never going to a Brazilian steakhouse either. I’m not a vegetarian, I quite like meat, and I’m aware that the meat I eat comes from an animal, but I don’t think I could deal with that.

            1. Madame Secretary*

              If you cut meat up on your own at a restaurant or at home, then you can tolerate this. Brazilian steakhouses have some the best food preparation around. It is delicious.

                1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

                  Madame Secretary, are you maybe feeling a little attacked? Because nobody is telling you not to be a fan of Brazilian steakhouses or that there’s something wrong with liking them and wanting to share them. Nobody is trying to make you feel guilty for having the time of your life at them.

                  But doubling down (a little unkindly) on what other people should want (or even do want, they just don’t know it) as if your own experience makes you the ultimate authority is quite strange.

              1. Kyrielle*

                I can believe it is delicious! The places with the animal hearts would be too much for me. The others might. I’m not suggesting people who enjoy it not go, or that it shouldn’t exist. Just that I should probably not go.

              2. a1*

                Exactly. It’s like have having a roast shape hunk of meat on a spit that they slice portions off at your plate. It is NOT like having an animal shaped piece of meat, with bones and legs, and everything, being carved at the table. Even the chicken is pieces of boneless chicken on a spit.

                All that said, I agree with the advice to see if it can be changed. That’s a lot of meat parading around on spits for vegetarians and vegans to deal with the sites and smells of it, even with the abundance of vegetarian/vegan options.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  If you’re an ethical vegetarian or vegan, you’re usually very aware that “slab” of meat = a cow, a pig, etc. It doesn’t really matter whether or not it’s animal shaped at the moment. If you see it as an animal corpse, you still might not want it continually pushed in your face throughout the meal.

                2. KHB*

                  But (at least in my experience) it’s not really “continually pushed in your face throughout the meal.” At worst, it’s intermittently pushed in the faces of the other people at your table. If you signal that you don’t want any meat (whether you don’t want any at all or you don’t want any more for right now), then the servers with the skewers won’t come to you. And I think they at least offered to seat all the vegetarians in our party together on one side of the table, so the servers wouldn’t be walking past us at all.

                  Sure, some ethical veg*ns might still find that distasteful. But I’ve also known ethical veg*ns who found it distasteful to be around people eating meat under any circumstances.

              3. Parenthetically*

                “I don’t think I could handle that.”

                “Yes you can, it’s exactly the same as this other thing, and it’s delicious.”


              4. JS*

                100% agreed. People are acting like they are killing the animals at the table. It’s just a bigger cut of meat but the same as if you cooked it yourself.

            2. Teapot Tester*

              Have you ever cooked a rotisserie chicken and then cup it up? Or had a Thanksgiving turkey carved and then served? This is no different.

              1. Bagpuss*

                It really, really is different. There are huge differences between cutting up cooked meat (especially poultry) and raw red meat.
                But in any event, if people feel uncomfortable, they feel uncomfortable.
                .*Ethicially*, of course it doesn’t matter who cuts up or cooks the meat, whether it is the same person as is going to eat it or not, but that isn’t the question here.

                1. Doreen*

                  Maybe I’m misunderstanding – but are you under the impression that Brazilian steakhouses are cutting up raw meat at the tabke? I’ve never seen that. Which of course doesn’t mean someone can’t be uncomfortable with the idea just because the meat is cooked.

              2. Oxford Comma*

                I have found that most everyone has some kind of squeamishness/aversion to some type of food substance. It varies widely from person to person, but it is there. I know people who have no problem handling raw red meat to cook it, but who wouldn’t touch a raw chicken if their life depended on it and vice versa.

                I personally love steak, but I don’t think this type of steakhouse would be for me either.

                1. fposte*

                  Obviously different restaurants may vary, but IMsteakhouseE they basically just walk around with roasts–nothing raw, nothing whole. It’s sort of like a meat carvery parading by the table. So it’s not that it’s more visceral in a way that most meat-eaters would notice, but it’s more in-your-face, literally, with meat than most meat-serving restaurants would be.

                  I love meat, but the equivalent with fish would kill my appetite and enjoyment stone dead even before you get to any ethical considerations.

            3. MCMonkeyBean*

              Yeah, I am not a vegetarian because I’m a terribly picky eater and don’t like enough vegetables to survive if I didn’t eat chicken… but I don’t like to be actively reminded of the fact that what I’m eating used to be a living animal. Definitely not a restaurant experience I would enjoy.

              1. Valerie*


                I said above that I am a meat eater, but honestly, the types of meat I eat must NOT have bones, skin, or look in any way, shape, or form, like it used to once be part of a living thing. I don’t eat steak, pork chops, pork roast, beef roast or anything like that. I do eat birds and fish, but they’re processed (chicken strips, tuna fish in a can, canned chicken breast, sliced deli chicken and turkey, etc.). I’ve told people over the years that if I ever had to kill my own food, I’d become a vegetarian really quickly because I don’t think I could stomach it. :-)

          2. Blerpborp*

            “Animal being sliced in front of them” really paints the picture of live and or uncoocked animals being slaughtered live…in the parlance of the US which is a largely meat eating culture, it’s meat being sliced and that’s different. Also, the meat isn’t passed around or even presented directly to you if it is like most Brazilian steak houses and you put up a red “stop” symbol so they don’t offer you the meat. All that being said, it’s kind of varsity level meat event with a lot more meat on display than most restaurants and it’s really rude to make vegetarians go there. I’ve known vegetarians who would find it very unsettling and vegetarians who are such for ethical reasons but have no strong reaction to others eating meat but with multiple vegans and vegetarians involved, the odds are that at least one of them will absolutely hate it!

        3. Disaster Sandwich*

          It might be a tad hyperbolic but these places do bring large plates of meat that they cut up in front of you. Some are pre-cut, but not all.

      2. Free Meerkats*

        All I can see in this discussion is the Dish of the Day at the Restaurant At the End of the Universe.

        But yeah, even though I consider a Brazilian Meat-O-Rama heaven on earth, I wouldn’t dream of essentially forcing a vegan or vegetarian to go to one of them.

    6. JokeyJules*

      I’ve been to a brazilian steakhouse and it is quite different than walking past the butcher case at the grocery store.
      I would still mention it. There might not be options for the 2 vegan eaters, and they might be vegan for ethical reasons but too intimidated to say something. I think I would point it out and include alternative restaurants that have options for everyone.
      If your boss still doesn’t want to change their mind, just let your server know you are vegetarian and they will not bother you. they might even just bring out grilled veggies.

      1. many bells down*

        Every Brazilian place I’ve been to has had a robust buffet with the non-meat options, so I’m sure they will have plenty of vegetarian food (maybe not vegan though). I still don’t think they should have to have meat brandished at them all night long. The question isn’t really if they CAN eat anything there.

        1. Flinty*

          Yeah, as a vegetarian for ethical reasons, I would be pretty frustrated with this restaurant choice even if there was a decent salad bar. It’s a bit like the letters about team building exercises that not everyone can physically do and some people end up sort of sitting off to the side, which is the opposite of team building.

          I like to keep my vegetarianism on the DL, but at a restaurant where the theme is meat and everyone is watching the meat being cut up and talking about meat and comparing the meats and I just sit there with my salad…that would not feel very celebratory to me. And especially if 3/10 people were not meat eaters, I’d like to think I would definitely ask about choosing another restaurant.

          1. Just Another Attorney*

            Yes. This. I am also a vegetarian for ethical reasons and things like this take all the “celebration” out of events for me. My office recently tried to “treat us” with a paid fly fishing trip and attendance was mandatory. As a vegetarian for ethical reasons, I was allowed to “decline participation.” Everyone else had a fun time I suppose, but I had to spend nearly 5 hours watching people do things that I believe to be unethical all the while having to take their photos and try not to be sick over it all (not to mention all the little jabs about me not joining in on the “fun” of the day). I’m glad they didn’t push me to participate, but just having to attend it was the opposite of a “treat” for me. It was terrible. Going to a dinner like this would be much of the same for me — the exact opposite of a celebration.

          2. Alton*

            Yeah, it’s just not much of a celebration if you’re not into it.

            I’m not really vegetarian for ethical reasons (though it is a factor), but I find the smell, texture, and appearance of meat really unpleasant. Someone ordering a steak would be all right, but having meat carved in front of me would kill my appetite.

        2. samiratou*

          Yeah, the Brazilian steakhouses I’ve been to have pretty epic salad bars an non-meat options on the table, but…so do regular steakhouses that don’t have the in-your-face experience with meat, which I can totally understand being problematic for vegetarians/vegans.

          LW should speak up, or maybe speak to the other non-meat eaters, if she’s comfortable, and see if they can do the group approach.

        3. sb51*

          I’ve been to one too as an vegetarian, and I could eat plain salad and plantains and that was pretty much it. It was for a birthday party for a friend, though, so I knew that was going to happen and was happy to attend anyways, I just ate beforehand. Yes, the salad bar had a lot of items, but basically none of them that were identifiably vegetarian (some were not distinctly non-veg cold side dishes) that were actual caloric food. This one didn’t have a separate salad-only price, either.

          And if I was there as part of a work function I definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable asking about ingredients, because people get weird about vegetarians.

        4. Jaid_Diah*

          I’ve asked a couple of Brazilian places near me, they cook their grains using chicken stock. The mashed potatoes are cooked with dairy… Yeah, even the salad bar isn’t vegetarian friendly.

    7. Turquoisecow*

      Brazilian steakhouses don’t have a lot of non-meat options. It’s not like normal steakhouses – these restaurants are pretty meat focused. Unless the boss has never been to one before and doesn’t understand the format, he should completely understand why vegetarians and vegans wouldn’t want to be at one.

      I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he never considered other people’s dietary needs, because most people who don’t have anything they can’t or won’t eat don’t think about the fact that others have these restrictions.

      1. Antilles*

        Yeah, this. “Walking past the butcher case at the grocery” is not a remotely reasonable comparison for a Brazilian Steakhouse.
        Unlike regular restaurants or even other steakhouses, a Brazilian Steakhouse is basically designed around the sole concept of bringing as much meat as human possible and shoving it right in your face. It’s not a normal menu, it’s more like (a) salad and a few appetizers and (b) everything else is meat, meat, meat, and more meat, brought right to your table so you literally don’t even need to stand up before getting yet more awesome meat shoved on your plate.
        (For the record, this is GLORIOUS and I highly recommend it to anyone who eats and enjoys meat. But I can fully understand why a vegan or even someone who’s just vegetarian wouldn’t want to go there)

        1. Bee*

          God, I DO eat meat, and it still sounds like I would not enjoy this. This is a meat-enthusiasts-only situation.

            1. The Original K.*

              I’ve been twice. Both times they were for birthday celebrations chosen by the person whose birthday it was (different people), and the events were a couple of years apart. There is SO MUCH FOOD. It’s all delicious (including the veggies; there were salad bars at the two I’ve been to), but there is SO MUCH FOOD. They bring it to you until you tell them to stop – there’s a little stop/go circle you turn over at your place and unless you turn it to the stop side, the food just. keeps. coming.

          1. the gold digger*

            Not to mention it’s almost impossible to get your money’s worth. Go only if your boss is paying.

            (But yeah – if you have vegans and vegetarians on the team, it’s not that hard to find a place to get great vegan food that will also make meat eaters happy. I am an omnivore – except for tripe – and will happily eat vegan or vegetarian or whatever. I can sure accommodate someone else’s ethical or allergy or religious or whatever food constraints for a meal or two.)

        2. Madame Secretary*

          I was going to say, if that’s all you get out of it, then you’re doing it wrong. lol

      2. JS*

        This isn’t true YMMV. Brazilian Steakhouses I’ve been too have all had elaborate buffets of plenty non meat options including seafood.

        1. kitryan*

          Yes, the one I’ve been to had lots and lots of options for non meat eaters. Doesn’t mean that it’s not conceptually problematic for anyone who doesn’t want to *see* that much meat (all cooked and no more reminiscent of its source than it is at a kebab stand).
          It seems weird to me that many people seem to consider it a sort of slaughterhouse environment. At least the one I went to wasn’t like that at all – the Benihana comparison is the most apt, I think. Also a bit like at a fancy buffet where there’s a person slicing a roast, only the roast is on a sword and they bring it to the table to slice.
          When I went there was salad, plantains, potatoes, rice, other cooked and raw veggies, definitely enough for a meal, though maybe a bit of a miscellaneous one.

        2. J*

          A vegan definitely wouldn’t eat seafood, though.* Nor would a majority of vegatarians. It depends how strict a vegetarian someone is, but a lot of folks exclude not only meat but also fish, eggs, honey, and dairy (including butter, which as other commenters have mentioned may be used in cooking veggie or grain side dishes). So you can end up with a large buffet that actually has very few vegan-friendly options, and few or no vegan protein options.

          *I suppose there *could* be someone out there who identifies as vegan while eschewing only land animal products and still eating wild caught fish, but I think they’d probably just refer to themselves as pescatarian or something similar.

    8. Zip Silver*

      Brazilian steakhouses tend to have a really well done salad bar inside them. I get there’s ethical objections, but if the company president doesn’t care, then it’s easy to get a rather filling non-meat meal.

      1. KHB*

        And they usually offer a special pricing scheme for people who just want the salad bar, too. So they intend for it to be possible to have a satisfying meat-free experience – and based on my one experience as a vegetarian at a Fogo de Chao, they succeed.

        I personally didn’t find the meat-carved-in-front-of-you part particularly disturbing. It’s not really that much different than watching someone carve a Thanksgiving turkey or eat a big steak. (But I’m not terribly bothered by those things either, and I understand that some people are.)

      2. KimberlyR*

        The ones I’ve been to (2 different ones) had an ok salad bar and sides bar, but not great. There can definitely be differences between restaurants, of course, but I’m sure vegans and vegetarians are tired of being relegated to the salad bar instead of getting to order a hearty meal off a menu.

        1. Oxford Comma*

          “What? You mean you don’t find some iceberg lettuce, a couple of carrot strips, a tomato slice and a roll satisfying?”

          I have seriously been to banquets where the above was the vegetarian option…

          1. Zip Silver*

            No, the salad bars at these places are very elevated. It’s easy to get a hearty meal there.

            1. ket*

              Not all Brazilian steakhouses.

              Come on! While you may have had one experience, you haven’t tried every one out there! There are some with sad salad bars that still charge vegetarians full price! It does exist!

            2. Tara2*

              At the small handful of places you’ve been to. I imagine you haven’t been to every brazilian steakhouse. The one near me has a dreadful selection for salad bar items. You can’t just throw out a blanket statement like that when you don’t know the specific restaurant LW is going to.

            3. Oxford Comma*

              Well, until today I have never heard of Brazilian steakhouses, but it still doesn’t mean that they are all the same or that it’s possible to eat vegan at all Brazilian steakhouses or that it might not squick the OP out. In any case, the OP wrote: “I could easily find something to eat. That isn’t the problem. I really don’t think I can stomach the environment.”

              Also, my comment was directly related to the one above it.

            4. EatYourFives*

              One thing to remember though is that just because something doesn’t have obvious meat doesn’t automatically make it vegetarian. Sometimes dishes or sauces have eggs, honey, fish sauce, dairy, or chicken broth included which would make the dish inappropriate for a vegan and many vegetarians. For the record, I do eat meat but I don’t understand all these Brazilian steakhouse apologist posts. Is it really that crazy to understand why someone who doesn’t eat meat would not enjoy this meat centric experience?!

          2. KHB*

            So, I completely understand (and agree with) the idea that if plain salad is the only thing on offer for some people in your party to eat, then you need to choose another restaurant. But that’s not really what we’re talking about here (at least, not at the Brazilian steakhouse I went to – it looks like there’s a lot of variation in the quality of veg offerings among different places). The “salad bar” isn’t just a bunch of bland, watery raw vegetables that have no flavor until you slather them with dressing. Rather, it’s more like a vegetable buffet, with a lot of dishes that are cooked and individually seasoned.

            It still might not be to everyone’s taste. But that’s a risk you run with any group dining experience.

            1. Guacamole Bob*

              “Vegetable” buffet and “vegetarian” buffet can be different, though. This probably also varies by restaurant, but a lot of meat-focused places use a lot of meat products in their vegetable sides, too. Some vegetarians will ask if the mashed potatoes have chicken stock or the biscuits are made with lard or if there’s bacon in the brussels sprouts, and some will take a “what I don’t know won’t hurt me” approach. But unless stuff is labeled as vegetarian or the OP calls ahead, they may still be stressed out about getting a good meal of vegetarian food.

              1. KHB*

                I can’t speak to other places, but Fogo de Chao, at least, takes its vegetarian diners seriously. Not everything on their “market table” (buffet/salad bar) is vegetarian, but a lot of it is, and it’s pretty easy to figure out what’s what. I don’t remember if it was labeled, or if the staff explained, or if it was just that everything that wasn’t obviously meat was vegetarian, but I definitely got a good meal for myself without feeling like I was navigating a minefield.

                1. many bells down*

                  There’s one near me called Novilhos that labels everything on the buffet really well. Which was nice, because Brazilian cheese bread is usually gluten-free, but theirs was not and my celiac spouse would have happily eaten a bucket of it before he realized.

            2. rogue axolotl*

              It’s possible that this line of thinking is what prompted the LW’s boss to make this choice, but I think it’s totally understandable that someone ethically opposed to meat (or even just someone who doesn’t like to eat it) would find a highly meaty atmosphere uncomfortable, and hopefully the boss just hasn’t thought it through in those terms.

              1. KHB*

                I wasn’t really trying to speculate on what was going on in LW’s case, but if I had to guess, I’d say that maybe the vegetarian/vegan members of the family actually like the steakhouse salad bar and aren’t bothered by the atmosphere at all, and the boss knows how they feel and assumed LW would feel the same.

      3. rogue axolotl*

        But if you know that nearly a third of the people going to an event don’t eat meat, it’s just inconsiderate to host it at a place that’s so meat-centric. It would be like hosting an event at a bar when you know a third of the participants don’t drink–sure, they can get a root beer or something, but it’s not very welcoming.

        1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

          Another example: my work was planning to hold a lunch at a raw bar, and there were plenty of objections to that. Lots of people don’t eat shellfish for religious/ethical/personal preference reasons. And while there was plenty of non-shellfish on the menu, the point of the place was to eat shellfish, and the sight and smell of oysters is not very pleasant if you’re not partaking. So we didn’t go, and nobody complained about the wusses who didn’t want to sit in a miasma of bivalves for two hours.

    9. Oryx*

      The meat-eaters can deal. And I say this as a former vegetarian who now eats meat. I’ve gone to weddings where I found “something” to eat and it was basically a side of potatoes and green beans because that was literally the only thing available for me to eat, but it was something so I should have been just fine with that, right?

      There is a range of restaurants between “Brazilian steakhouse” and “vegan only” that the company can choose and will provide multiple options for everyone.

      1. k.k*

        Yeah, finding something to order and finding something good to order are very different. The restaurants like theses I’ve seen have buffets and salad bars that offered for sides for the meat eaters and an options for vegetarians. A rando collection of sides and salad isn’t the same as a nice entree. Since this is a thank you dinner, it doesn’t makes sense to go somewhere where a third of the attendees won’t enjoy the food.

    10. SusanIvanova*

      I’ve been to one of those places. It’s *not* that easy to find something else to eat, and as a meat eater I wouldn’t be pissed off at the vegetarians, I’d be embarrassed that we were in a place so obviously inappropriate for them.

      1. Disaster Sandwich*

        I’ve been to several of them and they all had huge vegetarian buffets. Not that I think OP should have to go, but I’ve been with vegetarians and they filled their plates plenty.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          See, I’ve found the buffets lean heavily to “different things in mayonnaise” and I hate mayonnaise, so this would not be my choice for a ‘cater to many diets’ outing. (And I’m an omnivore.)

            1. Guacamole Bob*

              I was wondering about this – a lot of vegetarians and vegans would be reluctant to eat side dishes in an environment like this unless the food is very plain. I tend to assume mashed potatoes in a meat-focused place are made with chicken stock, the veggies are sauteed with bacon or other animal products, mayo-based salads have seafood in them, etc. Unless they specifically label stuff, the OP may feel like they have an uncomfortable choice among a) ask the staff a bunch of questions in front of coworkers who might think they’re making a big deal over nothing, b) eating stuff that might not adhere to their dietary restrictions, or c) eating only very boring/plain stuff.

    11. Blue*

      I don’t think “LW is going to piss off meat-eaters” is a natural assumption, at all. I think most reasonable people wouldn’t want those around them to be actively uncomfortable for the sake of a meal. I know that everywhere I’ve worked, if someone pointed out that a restaurant choice wasn’t very hospitable to some of our colleagues, plans would’ve been changed, with no hard feelings and probably even an apology for not considering that ahead of time. (And, yes, I’m a meat-eater.)

    12. BRR*

      Pissing off the meat eaters is a know your audience situation to me. I don’t think there is harm in asking to change restaurants with the vast majority of people. I can see some people irrationally judging the LW if the LW pushes a more or opts not go, but there are enough people in this situation who would prefer a different restaurant that it likely wouldn’t piss anybody off.

    13. Parenthetically*

      Hm. Your response to, “I have a serious ethical issue with this place I’m being asked to go to and sit at for a couple of hours for a work event,” is “Get over it, it’s no different than a (completely avoidable place in the grocery store where no one is asking you to sit and look at meat being cut up for a protracted period of time)”? That seems very unhelpful.

    14. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m a meat eater, and have no problem understanding why this is a weird choice for an outing that isn’t all meat eaters.

    15. Observer*


      That’s ridiculous. The OP is being asked to sit and have something they do NOT eat shoved in their face for a couple of hours. That’s REALLY not pleasant.

      I’m a meat eater. But, I’d still say that it’s not the OP who needs to get over themselves – it’s you and the people who must shove meat eating in people’s faces.

    16. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      If the organizer is intending it as a thank-you dinner, then even if you take the ethical considerations out of it, it’s not a great thank-you. “Finding something to eat” doesn’t mean “having a great meal.” If a third of the staff couldn’t eat gluten, then taking them to a donut shop wouldn’t be a good celebration even if the shop also sold coffee and prepackaged yogurt – sure, the gluten-free folks would have *something* to eat, but it wouldn’t be very festive or make them feel very appreciated.

    17. OlympiasEpiriot*

      There is a huge likelihood of cross-contamination at a place like this. You may think that trace amounts wouldn’t matter, but one’s gut flora are really different between long-time vegetarians and omnivores. People who don’t eat any meat can get really ill if they consume traces of meat.

        1. KHB*

          I do too. Why should the risk of cross-contamination be any greater at a Brazilian steakhouse than at any other restaurant that serves both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes? All that’s really different between them is the serving style, and I struggle to see why that would make any difference.

        2. LadyL*

          Was raised vegetarian, and I can confirm that the times I’ve accidentally consumed meat/meat products I’ve gotten horrible diarrhea and stomach pain from it. Certainly not deadly, but absolutely unpleasant and something I avoid. If I’m not sure if something is cooked with lard/chicken stock/etc I just don’t eat, I’m not risking being sick after.

    18. Tara2*

      I feel like you might be unclear about what a Brazillian barbeque is. It is basically a *parade* of meat. Like, every 30 seconds they bring a new spit of meat to your table to cut off a slice. That’s the meal. 100’s of bite size portions of meat cut for you before your eyes, much of it bloody and at fancier places I’ve been to, still in animal shape.

      By “Find something to eat” she means there’s probably a salad bar in the back. That has been my experience at a few of these places I’ve gone to. I could not imagine being vegan in a place like that. It’s not at all the same as being at a steak place.

    19. Could be Anyone*

      I’ve been a vegetarian for a long time and I am generally extremely easy going about it and fine with other people eating meat. I’m aware that it was my decision and I don’t ever expect people to go out of their way to accommodate. I’ve known people for years and they have no idea I don’t eat meat. I wouldn’t mind having a salad at a steakhouse, but I wouldn’t be comfortable with the meat-in-your-face style of Brazilian steakhouses and I wouldn’t go to one.

      Also I don’t walk near the raw meat at grocery stores. It’s easy to avoid.

      1. many bells down*

        Funnily enough, people I’ve known for YEARS still assume I’m a vegetarian randomly. I have never been vegetarian. When I was younger, I thought it was because I was really skinny, but I’m not anymore and people still assume I am.

    20. teclatrans*

      I am a meat-eater, and entirely sympathetic to OP’s feelings on the matter. Meat has a very strong smell, and the nature of this restaurant is to pile meat in front of the diners. I hope they got/get to change restaurants.

      1. Cat wrangler*

        I’m a fairly recent vegetarian. Even in my meat-eating days, I don’t think that I would have enjoyed this sort of restaurant, too much food for me back in the day and now the smell/look of the meat around me would probably make me feel queasy although I could probably tolerate it for office politics’ sake. I know that you can’t please everyone but it seems a bit time deaf to choose such a specialist restaurant given the amount of options available.

    21. TootsNYC*

      As a meat eater–I would understand the problem!

      To go to a restaurant where MEAT! MEAT! MEAT! is the centerpiece of all the food, and it’s not just a piece of meat on someone else’s plate? For some vegetarians, that’s going to be pretty upsetting.

      Not that this is helpful to the OP, since I’m not the president of the company, who made the reservation.

      I just want to push back on the idea that carnivores can’t understand the reasonings and reactions of vegans or vegetarians.

      1. Elsajeni*

        Yeah, it’s not the presence of meat — it’s the fact that this is, basically, a themed dinner where the theme is: Meat. It’s the same as the conversation we have periodically about Office Happy Hour vs. Office Dinner At A Restaurant That Serves Alcohol: yes, a non-drinker can go into a bar and order a soda, but one of those is “an event at which some people might drink alcohol” and the other is “a Drinking Event.”

    22. Catherine*

      I’m vegetarian and have endured many of these kind of dinners over the years. I’m quite introverted so having the litany of “oh you’re vegetarian – is that for health/moral/religious reason? Does that mean you eat chicken? Why don’t you eat fish? I don’t eat much meat myself. My auntie’s friend’s brother was vegetarian. Can’t you just pick the meat off” type conversations gets really old. In 15+ years of around 30 – 80 work dinners per year, I guarantee I get at least one of these each time. It’s become the very last thing I want to talk about but my goodness it is hard to avoid. Whenever I’ve got through whole dinners at veggie friendly restaurants without anyone noticing or commenting that I didn’t eat meat, and me not having to explain my personal values, or defend myself – victory!

      I ducked out of a dinner in Madrid once because I knew it would be meat only, the next day a colleague said “oh you should have come, there were so many vegetarian options!” When I asked him what exactly – he said “well, there was a green salad, and a tomato salad…”. Yes, because after an 11 hour day in the office I totally want to eat a green salad for dinner while you eat suckling pig in front of me. Of course I do.

      Was once taken to a steakhouse in Cologne by a local colleague who lied about it because she really wanted to go there and knew I wouldn’t agree if I knew. I ended up eating a couple of grilled vegetables on a plate. I got a lot more cautious after that – she had driven us 30 miles there and I couldn’t get out of it without making an almighty fuss. Then there is the buffet roulette of trying to work out what is in unlabelled dishes or those labelled in a language you don’t speak etc.

      I got through all of these but they were mostly not enjoyable. If the company dinner is meant to be team building or a celebration or whatever, I wouldn’t imagine it will be achieved if some of the people are just enduring it.

  2. Greg NY*

    #1: You might want to change the process so she doesn’t have to call in when sick. She might prefer email or an entry on a shared calendar. But it’s imperative that she communicates, in some manner, that she will be out, just like it would be expected for an employee that sometimes works in the field or in another office location to communicate where they will be. Same goes for someone on vacation, they don’t just take days off without telling their colleagues or manager. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect a heads up, in some way or another.

    1. Murphy*

      I assume OP didn’t literally mean “call” in, especially since they had “call in” in quotes.

    2. Turquoisecow*

      OP says the person doesn’t call or email. It’s reasonable that people might prefer not to use the phone (I’ve always emailed when I had that as an option), but expecting to be notified of sick days is completely reasonable. The employee needs to comply.

      1. Bee*

        Yeah, they need to know whether or not they can expect her, especially as an assistant. Is the work going to get done, or should it be handed over to someone else? Does someone else need to handle the phones today? How long do they wait before assuming she’s not coming in? (It actually drives me nuts when my boss doesn’t let me know she’s not coming in, but at least I can still do my own work. Sometimes more easily!)

    3. Greg NY*

      I did miss that little blurb, and in that case, the solution is clear: ask her whether there is anything she needs to facilitate communicating her absences. If so, consider those requests, but either way, it has to be made clear that being incommunicado is not OK.

      I will add, I am very pro-employee and would do everything I can to accommodate, but there are others (and they wouldn’t be wrong for doing so) who would say that, especially as an assistant, they simply have to fall in line and use the preferred company method (which in this case would be calling).

      1. Oryx*

        The OP says that they have twice now told the assistant she needs to notify her. And she continues to not do so.

        Every place I have worked, three no calls no shows is an automatic dismissal.

      2. ThankYouRoman*

        I’m pro employee too but it’s absolutely asinine to think anyone is above adhering to an agreed upon schedule.

        Even business executives and owners let others know if they’re out sick. Good grief.

      3. Dust Bunny*

        I’m pro-employee but at some point the employee has to be pro-job. She has the option of texting or emailing, which means she could notify them at any time (say, the evening before, so she wouldn’t have to wake up from a sick sleep during business hours. She’s pretty well out of excuses here.

        1. AJ*

          “…t some point the employee has to be pro-job”

          I like this. Pro-job. Pro-paying the rent. Pro-paying bills. Pro-having money to buy food.

          You can be as “pro-employee” as you like but the employee has to do the job.

      4. fposte*

        I think you’re reading this as the OP trying to get the employee to use the phone, and that really doesn’t seem to be what’s happening. She just wants the employee to communicate her absence, whether it’s by phone, email, or text. That’s a pretty standard expectation.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      The only time I have seen this was with a paper mill (?) it was shift work at any rate.
      You called in once and then the next time they saw you they knew you would be working that day. So you could go a week or so without calling in. (I have no idea how this plays out, it sounds like it’s chaotic.)

      Perhaps OP is not familiar with the system of calling in every day. My coworker almost got written up for failing to call in because he could not wrap his mind around the daily call system and just did not do it.
      Like Alison said it took a threat of a write up to make Cohort change what they were doing.

      I would suggest to OP that the employee could call in on the first day, state her best estimate of how many days and then call you either way on the last day of her estimated time with an update- needs more time or will be in tomorrow.

      I am also wondering about the amount of time. OP if the amount of time she is using is not acceptable then you also need to mention that. “You have two more days of sick time for the rest of the year…” Or whatever.

    5. Zennish*

      I’m thinking it’s no longer an absence or communication issue. You’ve told her what you require several times, and she hasn’t complied, so it’s now an insubordination issue and should be handled as such.

      1. Hunting boss*

        I agree with this! My issue is that while HR has told my direct report that they have to say they are not coming in, they have specified. I actually prefer text as it is a real-time alert for me and I can put things in place for their absence. Some staff have said that they are not using their personal phone to do work related activities so some staff email in their absence while some text me. Some call the secretary to my boss as I don’t have a secretary. So what happens is that I am quite often hunting around for staff if they didn’t text me as I may not have sight of the email until a bit later on in the day (my personal phone that I use for work doesn’t have enough memory for email).

    6. TootsNYC*

      Greg NY’s mention of vacation may point to part of the problem.

      When I take vacation, I make blanket plans in advance, but I don’t call in for every day.
      I wonder if this woman if thinking it’s like vacation?

      But that doesn’t make sense because her boss has told her directly.

      I do think it’s time to say: The next time you don’t call us to tell us you are sick on Day 2 and Day 3, we will assume you have quit.

      That’s what my job’s employee manual says: If you don’t show up, and you don’t call, they consider you to have abandoned your job. Or, that they reserve the right to assume that.

      I suppose if I thought I’d texted, and it didn’t go through, and I showed up the next day, my boss wouldn’t fire me over it.
      But that’s not what this is.

  3. TooTiredToThink*

    I knew someone who believed that their supervisor should know that if they didn’t show up to work that it meant they were sick. I was gobsmacked about that. I mean; I had the flu once, 105 degree fever and was delirious and I still managed to contact the appropriate person. I don’t understand that mindset.

    1. Boo Hoo*

      Right! I once had to have my mother call in for me. I was so sick in the night she drove 45 mins to my house. I had a huge fever, was hallucinating, insisted on sleeping in the bath tub apparently. ha

    2. henrietta*

      Most of the jobs I had were clear: No Show/No Call was considered resignation, and that was that. (I mean, there were warnings and stuff, but repeated violations? Buh-bye.)

      It’s one thing if you can say “I’m having surgery, will be out for a week”, or, “got flu, will be communicable/won’t be in for 3 days) but for day-to-day illnesses? Contact every day you’re out. I even leave a middle-of-the-night voicemail if I fear I’ll be sleeping when the workday starts.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Exactly! When the doctor says your strep throat is highly contagious for 3 days and then the antibiotics will kick in — that’s 3 days you can tell your manager in advance. Otherwise? Leave. A. Message.
        Otherwise there’s that subtle wonder of whether she’s actually in Cancun or the casino or high as a kite.

        1. kitryan*

          Yes! If she thinks or knows that certain symptoms will keep her sick for 2 days or 3 days, I think she should be able to say in the initial call out ‘I am sick and will definitely be out today and tomorrow’ but then, she’s got to call in or come in on the third day.
          Like if you have surgery and it should take a week to recover, you’re out that week but if you still need more time, you’ve got to check in before/at the start of the next week!
          My office has an email group with all the staff supervisors – you just email out sick to that group and to your supervisor and/or team and you get marked out sick. It’s so easy I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t just email or text, even if they didn’t want to phone.
          And, if there was some reason why she doesn’t want to, it’s on her to *say* so and maybe it can be accommodated.

    3. Decima Dewey*

      I had bronchitis once. My doctor told me I wasn’t going back to work for a week. Telling my supervisor that when I called out the first day was sufficient.

      But not calling out at all? That would get an AWOL designation in the notes field of the timesheet for the day.

    4. Glitsy Gus*

      Exactly! I had an emergency appendectomy and even in my morphine and fever delirium I told my roommate to call my boss. That call came in a little later in the day than a sick call normally would have, but it still happened.

    5. AdminX2*

      AAM once had a letter writer who had such wonky illness stuff that she did recommend that they consider no call meant no coming in, but that was a long standing specific case.
      Even if you do forget once cause of whatever reasons, ok, but this is a persistent issue and agreed to the point of becoming a performance problem.

    6. Arielle*

      I don’t understand that either – if nothing else, wouldn’t people start to worry? Someone on my team (usually very reliable) recently didn’t show up to work and by noon I was about ready to call the police for a wellness check. It turns out he thought he had emailed in that he was sick, but since he had a fever and was pretty out of it, the email didn’t send and he didn’t notice.

      1. Windchime*

        This happened to me a few weeks ago. I sent an email at 5 AM to the team email address, and it got hung up and didn’t get delivered until early afternoon. Around 7 AM I started getting texts from teammates, who were worried that I wasn’t in and wondering if I was OK. So now I text instead of emailing.

    7. Gaia*

      I am a worrier by nature. My employees were all well aware of this early on. If they were sick, they needed to notify me in some way. Call. Text. Email. Carrier fox. Something. If they didn’t, I would worry. And when I found out they weren’t dead in a ditch somewhere but just home with a (admittedly, probably miserable) flu, I would not be amused.

      But they were always great about notifying me, probably because I made that expectation clear and I made it easy for them to do so. And, I didn’t reprimand them for taking time for being sick (our industry has a terrible habit of doing this and it is absolutely the worst part).

      1. HannaSpanna*

        Honestly, feel this a bit harsh. I agree with Alison, give her one more very clearly worded warning (as I suspect that the OP may not have been being as clear as she thinks, and perhaps the assistant has come from a less rigid workplace, where a call in at the start was all that was required.)
        Then, if it happens again, go ahead and fire.

      2. valentine*

        OP1, the effort to replace them will be worth it when you have someone who can follow this simple instruction.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I’m tending to agree. This is really bad, and worse she’s been warned and STILL DOES IT.
      I can make a case it’s ok if you leave work early sick Tuesday afternoon… and tell the boss you’ll also be out Wednesday (sometimes you can just tell you’ll be worse next day). But to not communicate after that is really bad.

  4. Greg NY*

    #2: If you feel you can’t opt out, then go without eating anything. The president will take notice, especially since three of you feel this way. This is what kosher employees often have to do when there is a work function in a non-kosher restaurant and the venue can’t be changed to a kosher restaurant. Sometimes the silent method works just as well as verbal methods when you don’t feel you have the capital to speak up (although really, in management, you should!) or if you are outnumbered.

    1. Gigi*

      It’s more than not eating….it’s the fact that large slabs of meat are brought to the table and will be carved in front of her. As a vegetarian, she says she can’t stomach that. I’m a vegetarian too and there’s no way I’d sit at a table like that. I’d respectfully opt out.

      1. boo bot*

        I think Greg NY is saying not to eat as a form of silent protest, basically. It’s a way to demonstrate that the situation isn’t okay, if bringing it up directly isn’t possible or hasn’t worked.

        I actually think this is a good idea, as long as the OP can pull it off while being completely engaged in the conversations – if she is withdrawn at all she’ll be accused of sulking, which would be dumb, but dumb things happen.

        1. Justme, The OG*

          No, the OP should not have to go to a celebratory dinner and not eat in protest. That’s bull. If the management valued the vegetarian and vegan employees they would find an alternative.

          1. TootsNYC*

            Agree. And anyway, you can have just an effective a protest by clearing and straightforwardly communicating your refusal to come.

      2. Madame Secretary*

        It’s not large slabs of meat. It’s not like they are walking around with a side of beef carving it up. As someone mentioned before, it’s about the same as cutting a Thanksgiving turkey or a roast at meal time.

        1. Murphy*

          They kind of are though? The one I went to had humongous platters of meat that were already pre-carved or that they carved in front of you. They were circling the tables with them constantly.

        2. Who the eff is Hank?*

          It depends on the restaurant you go to. I’ve been to a Brazilian steakhouse before and they literally had huge slabs of meat on long metal poles. The hunks of meat were larger than my torso.

        3. Kelly*

          Yes, yes it can be. The one’s I’ve been to (YVMV), have huge skewers of large meat they walk around with. And if someone is vegan/vegetarian, cutting up a turkey or a roast may not be tolerable either.

        4. Parenthetically*

          They really are though?

          Besides, we need to stop legislating exactly how large the piece of meat has to be and how frequently it’s going to be cut in front of her and etc. etc. etc. before OP is “allowed” to feel like she can’t ethically participate. She doesn’t feel right about it; everything else needs to be aimed at practical next steps.

          1. kitryan*

            Agreed. I come down firmly on the side of ‘Brazilian steakhouses (that I have experienced) are pretty cool and the food delicious and plentiful, both meat and non meat options’… but I still think that if people in the group were ethically based vegan or vegetarian, or if the local place happened to have bad/few veggie options and there were any vegetarians in the group –it would not be a good choice–, because the ambiance is –not appropriate– for that sort of party.
            In my family, we all eat meat except my sister, who just prefers not to for overall health and preference reasons, but does still eat fish and does not necessarily avoid things involving broths and stocks. It would (and has been) a fine treat for us to have a family dinner out, especially since my father really enjoyed it.
            But I would not bring a group of friends that included vegetarians to it .

        5. Seeking Second Childhood*

          That depends on the restaurant. Some rotisseries are strong enough that yes the critter’s identifiable.
          And honestly for some people, a Thanksgiving turkey & a roast are appalling.

        6. FaintlyMacabre*

          I’m a vegetarian, and I leave the table when my meat eating family carves the turkey. They realize I’m uncomfortable and not passing judgement on them, and I get to not be distressed. Please stop telling people what they should or should not be made uncomfortable by.

        7. ket*

          You’re going to the wrong Brazilian steakhouses if they’re not carving a side of beef for you :)

        8. Observer*

          Not true. It’s a turkey, then a roast, the a pig with an apple in it’s mouth, then it’s a different type of roast, then… then… then….

          Not literally the turkey etc. But every couple of minutes they come over with a NEW kind of meat and carve it at the table. And they keep on doing it. (Depending on the place, they will cycle the kind of meat, but still…)

    2. Temperance*

      Eh, I disagree with this advice. Going in protest and visibly protesting is worse than not going at all, especially if it’s not for religious reasons but personal, ethical ones.

      1. Tardigrade*

        As an atheist, something about your last sentence is upsetting to me. I still have deeply held values and ethics that I feel strongly enough to visibly protest.

        1. Magenta*

          I agree!
          It is very dismissive and puts religion above ethics, when ethics can be much more well thought out, rational and beneficial to society.
          I also have deeply held values and ethics that I have thought about and developed throughout the course of my life. Being asked to act against my ethics would upset me as much as a religious person being asked to act against the tenets of their faith.

        2. Tara2*

          Yea. I don’t know why religious beliefs should be held to a higher standard than ones like veganism.

        3. bookartist*

          Co-sign. My values are derived from my own non-theological considerations and thoughts. Just because you include the divine in your considerations does not make your values “better” than mine.

        4. bonkerballs*

          I agree with you in the abstract, but I wonder if Temperance just meant in the workplace, religious beliefs must be accommodated whereas your personal ethics don’t have to, and so such a protest could be harmful to you keeping your job.

        5. TootsNYC*

          As a Christian, I object to that last sentence. My religious beliefs are my personal, ethical ones.

          And if someone is not a member of a religion, they will still have personal, ethical ones.

    3. Parenthetically*

      I really think this isn’t going to work. OP is mostly concerned with the atmosphere of the restaurant, not with the fact that meat will be consumed, and attending but going hungry as a form of protest is not only passive-aggressive, it also doesn’t address the fact that OP and the other vegans/vegetarians are still stuck there surrounded by people offering and carving up meat the whole evening.

      1. TootsNYC*

        attending but going hungry as a form of protest is not only passive-aggressive
        In fact, it is ACTUALLY passive aggressive.

        Lots of people use that term to mean “being snotty with plausible deniability.”

        But this literally is passively communicating your antagonism.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yes, Parenthetically is saying that it is both passive-aggressive and also not addressing the problem.

    4. Claire*

      I’m a vegetarian, and this is the LAST thing I would want to do. If I’m asking for a change like this, it’s so we can all feel comfortable, but sitting there not eating would not only mean still being surrounded by carved meat, but would also really amp up the awkwardness that I’d so like to avoid in a work context.

      Personally, I’m generally not that squeamish about meat, and I’ve been to Brazilian BBQ places a few times (mainly for friends’ birthdays) and felt OK about it – but it is a bit confronting. I wouldn’t hold it against another vego or vegan to say that they were too uncomfortable to attend.

      I joined a previous job in the middle of the year and had only been there a couple of months when they started talking about where to hold the work Christmas party. The two options initially suggested were Argentinean and Chilean, if I recall correctly, and from checking their websites online I learned that my options would be chips and garden salad or equivalent at either of them. I responded by suggesting a Lebanese restaurant where we could get a banquet that included a lot of meats on skewers as well as lots of delicious vego things. The idea gained traction and that’s where we ended up going – and ultimately it was hailed as a great success, though I was nervous about how it was going to go. Significantly, I wasn’t the only vegetarian in this situation (I’m not sure what the others planned to do or if I was just the first one to speak up) and in this scenario it was a vountary meal where we’d all be paying our own way – probably a bit different if the boss/the business is paying, but still not a bad idea to have a suggestion in mind that is a similar price point and can comfortably accommodate everyone.

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      That’s a really passive aggressive response. I’m not sure what on earth that would accomplish. Either 1) no one will notice or 2) they will notice and ask and when told “I’m a vegetarian and there’s nothing for me to eat here” they will probably say “why on earth didn’t you say something sooner?” It will look very clearly like you are trying to make them feel bad, which will then reflect back poorly on you.

      1. Sacred Ground*

        Exactly this. If you don’t express your objection clearly and give them a chance to address it, you don’t get to complain that they never addressed the objection that you never expressed.

  5. purlgurly*

    Re: the steakhouse, given what LW mentioned about the other two managers being vegan and family members of the president, I wonder if this choice of restaurant isn’t reflective of some family dispute or power play. Perhaps the president doesn’t approve of his family members being vegan and is choosing to make them uncomfortable. If so, I’m sorry the LW is stuck in the middle!

    1. Guacamole Bob*


      This was my first thought. If the person who chose the restaurant knew vegan family members were expected to attend, this is unlikely to be a simple oversight or misunderstanding. There’s something deeper going on here, that probably doesn’t really involve LW.

    2. boo bot*

      You beat me to it! Anyway, I totally think this is it – if the LW knows the father and sister are vegan, then I’m sure the president does, and if he knows, then it feels too aggressive not to be deliberate.

      If so, what an uncomfortable dynamic to be caught in the middle of! Though on the bright side, she might find the dinner falls apart all by itself. (It’s an archival letter – I wonder what happened.)

      1. Tara2*

        I feel like the comment section on this post proves that for a lot of meat-eaters, they simply can’t wrap their minds around the difference between something like this restaurant and seeing the deli section of a grocery store or carving a turkey for thanksgiving.

        So, I think it doesn’t necessarily have to be malicious. It is weird though that it would get to this stage without the family members in this team having not spoken up, but maybe they don’t know what a Brazilian Steakhouse actually entails?

        1. Alton*

          Or, for that matter, that things like seeing a turkey get carved or raw meat in a deli case can also be unpleasant for people. I don’t watch if someone is carving a turkey. I don’t go up to deli cases. I don’t make a big deal about it, but stuff like that is really unappetizing to me and a big part of why I’m vegetarian.

          (It’s like when people act like giving up bacon is a huge hardship. Dude, pork absolutely disgusts me. My big “I’m an adult now!” moment was the day I realized I never had to feel obligated to touch it ever again.)

    3. Bunny Girl*

      While that might be the case, I think a lot of people honestly just don’t think about it. Especially if the person or persons in question aren’t very vocal about their dietary choices or their difficulty finding something to eat when dining out. I’ve been vegetarian for over ten years, and I recently have cut most, if not all, dairy from my diet. But I sort of operate on a need-to-know basis. Most of my friends know I don’t eat meat, I think, but it’s not something I advertise to them and the only time I’ve said anything at work is if food ordering is involved. I only have one friend and my boyfriend who ask me if I can eat something when we pick a restaurant to go out to. If people don’t have a ton of people in their life who have dietary restrictions, I just don’t think it crosses their mind. Which is perfectly fine.

      1. Blue*

        I think there’s even a reasonably good chance they *did* think about dietary restrictions, checked to be sure that there was food for the non-meat-eaters, thought, “Ok, cool. This works for everyone,” and simply didn’t think about the larger environment.

        1. Bunny Girl*

          Yeah my dad thinks that if they have a salad on the menu I’ll be happy. I am most of the time.

      2. Decima Dewey*

        Agreed, some people don’t think things through. I worked with a manager who always wanted to order a local pizzeria’s Meat Lover’s Pizza whenever we had a celebration. Never mind that a third of the circulation staff did not eat red meat.

        Of course, this manager was proud that she’d bought an espresso maker for the branch, when she was the only one to drink espresso, so there’s that.

        1. Bunny Girl*

          Yep we had someone at my old job like that too. She always ordered meat pizza. But since I would only eat a slice or so I never really corrected her and would just pick stuff off.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      This was my thought, too.

      I do eat meat but I’d be disappointed in the choice because, wow, those places are REALLY MEATY. Like, “I need a shower after this” meaty. It seems like an extreme choice in general.

    5. FD*

      Yeah, this seems so bizarre to me! I mean, if it weren’t for that detail, I’d assume that the president simply likes this restaurant and didn’t think about people’s restrictions but with it being the president’s own family members…


  6. boo bot*

    From the Brazilian steakhouse letter: “This seemed like an odd choice, considering two other managers (including the president’s father and sister) are vegan…”

    I’m just speculating wildly, but I wonder how the president’s relationships with his father and sister are?… Perhaps the choice was all too deliberate!

    1. boo bot*

      Drat, I totally assumed the president was a man with no evidence to suggest that! Internalized misogyny, thou art a wily beast.

        1. Tara2*

          Wait. Ignore me! I see what you mean now. I thought you were suggesting that there was evidence that it was a woman because of the phrase “the president’s father and sister” and I was confused.

    2. McWhadden*

      Eh, I have vegetarian friends who love Brazilian steakhouses because of the buffet (I think it’s more than a salad bar there’s a lot more going on it) with lots of veggie options.

      The LW is for ethical reasons but the other two might not be and might really like this place.

    3. ThankYouRoman*

      All my personally known vegetarians and vegans are happy to go into the establishments that specialize in meat. They’re geared towards their own bodies and health more so than ethics. So I’m assuming more so that the president understands their family to be one way and didn’t know OP is not cool with it.

      But also knowing jerkbags who do try to feed vegetarians meat on the sly, it could be the case as well. You never know without more personal knowledge.

    4. MatKnifeNinja*

      Never underestimate family turf wars over food. If these two family members are truly vegan, there is no way they are going to a steak house. My vegan friends ONLY go to vegan restaurants. Period. They don’t even eat honey. There really isn’t any compromise to search the menu. They figure everything is cross contaminated, so no point eating a cherry almond spinach salad. Nobody is being that careful in the back.

      My SO’s boss had a similar issue with a end of the year party treat. There were two strict vegans on the team, so the only default was a vegan restaurant. I live in the Midwest. Not an easy find. First year they had it at the vegan restaurant. 5 out of the 20 team members showed up besides the boss. The rest went to a cigar and steak place on their own dime.

      The next year the boss had two parties. One at the meaty bits restaurant, the other at a vegan restaurant of the veg/vegan groups choosing. The vegetarians could only go to one, and for some reason picked the meaty bits place. One party has 15 people (meaty bits) and 4 to 6 at the vegan place.

      The boss didn’t mind because a compromise is a waste of money. No one was going to be happy, and seeing people pick at food or not show up isn’t fun either.

      The area I live in doesn’t have a clue about veganism, and people don’t really, truly accommodate. My one friend hasn’t been to Thanksgiving at her relative’s place for years because “she’s hard to please, so she can just not come.”

      Maybe two different venues might be an option?

  7. Plain Jane*

    I’ve been an assistant who was a backup for assistants who were out sick. With such a small shop, I would imagine your other employees resent not knowing if they will have to cover for her that day or not when she’s out but doesn’t tell anyone. For me, I’d rather deal with the stress of finding and training someone more reliable than putting up with this.

  8. MeMeMe*

    #1 — How does this person still have her job? How do people get away with just plain not showing up for work and not get fired?!

    1. ThankYouRoman*

      Yeah. I thought the one universal rule is you can’t no call, no show. Even my most relaxed jobs didn’t allow it and thankfully everyone was responsible enough to call in. Even a after hours voice mail at 8pm the night before confirming that they’re still out is good enough.

      I have to be able to know if you’ll be here at some time so I can plan on doing your job or if it’s something that can wait. Otherwise you have a ton of pile up and frustration for people who actually show up and communicate.

      1. McWhadden*

        “Even a after hours voice mail at 8pm the night before confirming that they’re still out is good enough.”

        How is that not enough? That seems ridiculously burdensome.

        1. Ashley*

          If night time call ahead is an option that’s one thing, but having to wake up at a certain time every morning when you are sick to report that you are still sick is a major pain and can slow down the recovery. (The upside of a planes sick day is you can keep taking NyQuil and just sleep.) I think employers should always give people the option to call out when you know you are going to be out and not have to wake up for your start time to report off. (Thinking of those emergency room midnight visits where you get home at 4 and just need sleep.)

          1. ThankYouRoman*

            All I’ve ever cared about is it’s prior to your shift. So you leave early Tuesday sick. Just say you’ll take Wednesday off or you’ll communicate if you feel better sooner and can come in.

            Then you should make up your mind before 8am or whatever time you start on Thursday. No need to struggle while you’re ill.

            I had a bad health spell a few years ago. I know sometimes you end up in the ER or things happen. So I’m not ever lobbying for immediate termination on the first issue. That’s when you work together if someone needs accommodations that can be offered. But at the same time, depending on someone’s duties, they can only have so much wiggle room before it’s not working out mutually.

          2. HannaSpanna*

            Yeah, this annoys me. I can ring in before the start of the day, but need to be awake for my manger to call me when she gets in to, I don’t know, ‘confirm’ my illness.
            I don’t take sick days unless I really really can’t make it in. My body has to crash. I just want to be sleeping.,

        2. ThankYouRoman*

          As a mild dyslexic myself, I hope you notice I did say it’s enough. I’m all for being as easy going as humanly possible. I’ve sacked countless crap hardline rules in my life in HR.

          Any form of communication is enough in my eyes. Just to show good faith effort and common courtesy

        3. Justme, The OG*

          I had a manager who would want to speak to us that morning, every morning that we were calling in sick. No texts, no emails, no late night messages. It was dysfunctional overall though.

    2. Gaia*

      More than the not calling and not showing she is not following really explicit (and reasonable) instructions.

      This is a pet peeve of mine. And I wonder if this is the only area in which she does this.

  9. Nita*

    What IS it with Brazilian steakhouses? I haven’t flown anywhere in a few years, but back when I spent more time in airplanes, they were always showing up in the luxury goods ads. Are they some kind of “must” in certain executive circles?

    1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

      I think they just have the reputation of being “fancy.” Maybe because the food is served in a performative way, maybe because it’s exotic, maybe because the food is a very intense type of meal that takes hours to cook….who knows why

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think you’re right about the performative aspect. Like places where you grill the food at the table.

    2. KimberlyR*

      They tend to be expensive and you know some people equate cost with quality. I have eaten at one that was delicious and well worth the price, and another that was ok but not worth it.

    3. Madame Secretary*

      Brazilian steakhouses are a production. These are very often places for celebrations – I had my wedding dinner there. Great for business meetings, date nights, anniversaries, birthdays. It’s a splurge. They usually provide the table with Brazilian mashed potatoes, fried polenta, and cheese bread. You make your way to what is usually an outstanding buffet of salad items that features the prettiest produce, cheeses, and cold meats you will ever see, along with rice, potatoes and soup. At your table you are given a card that’s red on one side and green on the other. When you are ready to be served meat, your flip your card to green and the gauchos (servers) circulating the room come to your table and cut the meats and/or serve them to you. When you want a break, you flip your card to red. Brazilian beef is some of the best in the world.

    4. mark132*

      If you like freshly cooked meat with show, they are really enjoyable. It’s really not a snobby thing, if you think about it they really are just a fancy buffet. There is a definite market for these restaurants.

      I enjoy them, but I don’t go hardly ever because of the amount of food I end up eating makes me feel sick.

    5. Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way!*

      Also, if you are entertaining a large group, it makes it easier for people to find something they would like and the price is the same across the board for the most part.

    6. Lissa*

      This thread has made me want to try one really badly! Sadly I just looked up and there is not one in my city. THere is one in the next city over but I always go there to see my best friend… a vegetarian! Oh the irony.

  10. Mommy MD*

    No call no show =fired at many jobs. I would have made this very clear the first time she did it.

        1. HannaSpanna*

          Yeah, but seriously, if someone calls in sick the one day and then no call/no shows the next, it would be ludicrous to fire them.
          FWIW the no call/no show equals resignation seems understandable in low paid / high turnover jobs, but feel its weird in most professional fields.

          1. MissDisplaced*

            It’s very much NOT ludicrous. Especially if the employee has been warned about doing it! This employee sucks.
            Unless you’ve communicated needing multiple days (as in saying I’ve got the flu, and will likely be out sick 2-3 days so do I have permission not to call each day), it is your obligation to check in each day. Even if it’s just a text or email, which if doable if sick aside from an emergency situation or something.
            Even with high level professional & salary roles, you’re expected to communicate absences every day.

  11. Sarah*

    I just read question 1 out loud in the lunch room that currently has seven people of varying levels (entry level through executive) and every single one of them said “You fire her.”

  12. ThankYouRoman*

    The last one hits hard given I just received notification that an old employee who quit effective immediately awhile back is now seeking unemployment. I’ve seen it happen so frequently with “I have to go now, they can’t wait for 2 weeks!”.

    We’re never mad at the people leaving in terms of a scorched bridge if contacted for a reference but unless you’re a mega star, you’re not considered rehireable.

    1. Kbell*

      What I don’t get is, if the person had a week to think over giving a week’s notice, isn’t that two weeks?

  13. Critical*

    The Brazilian steakhouse in my city has an extensive salad bar which is famous enough that people go to the restaurant just for the salad bar. Maybe they actually like the restaurant, even without eating meat? The meat may be served tableside, but there are so many non-meat options that can be ordered.

    1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      I do think that the LW shouldn’t assume that the vegan colleagues will also have a problem with the place, but that doesn’t mean her own objection is invalid.

      The Brazilian steakhouses I’ve been to have all essentially been dinner and a show, and that show is “Bring out the meat! Watch it get carved! Compare/discuss the different meats!” It’s like Benihana, or fondue, or tableside flambe; entertainment, not just food. There are definitely vegetarians/vegans who won’t mind that, but if their diet is for ethical reasons, it’s also not crazy to have a visceral reaction to it.

    2. kittymommy*

      Same. I think that the people I know who go, go for the salad bar more than the meat. The few times I have been I have only done the bar and tapas.

    3. Fish Microwaver*

      Yes, the ones I have been to have had salad bars and delicious vegetable dishes. Many also have a spectacular show to accompany dinner.

        1. Fish Microwaver*

          Definitely a consideration. I wouldn’t book such a venue for a group of vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters.

  14. Disaster Sandwich*

    #1: I wonder if there is something more going on here, like a chronic illness. I have fibromyalgia and when I am out for a flare it can actually be quite difficult to make that call every morning. I sometimes am in incredible pain at night and then sleep until 12 or 2 pm. I sometimes end up emailing my manager in the middle of the night in anticipation that I’ll be out and a few times I have woken up feeling better and worked anyway. Which is better than not calling at all, and she should make an effort. But I just have to wonder if there is an unknown element at play.

    1. Disaster Sandwich*

      To be clear, I’m not saying the manager is wrong here. Just thinking about why the employee may be struggling with this.

    2. JR*

      I had a variation on this thought – if she’s sick, it’s reasonable to want to sleep in and rest up to get better. But then notifying the night before is a completely easy and workable solution.

    3. ThankYouRoman*

      The letter states email or text are fine. So even a “not getting better…will be out again” note after hours should be all good.

      I had an old coworker with a chronic condition. I came in frequently to a voicemail from some random time saying the next day is a no go. I can’t imagine being a stickler for “you must call during business hours and speak personally with so and so.”
      Don’t get me wrong…I have seen crap in old procedure docs I’ve purged showing those crappy policies do exist in the world (ew) but we have moved away from it. The OP seems to be up to speed on that!

      1. Disaster Sandwich*

        It’s not that I think she shouldn’t find a way to notify her manager. I was just thinking about how hard it is for me and I can easily imagine a scenario where she’s not looking at the phone or email or texts for more than a full one or two days.

        1. ThankYouRoman*

          Totally understand that.

          If I’m the employer and you tell me this, even leaving out your specific diagnosis, I’m okay with it.

          I’m cool with “flare up. I need to book 2 days sick time, just to play it safe” as well. Then it lessens the every day burden and I’m happy to extend that as an accommodation.

          1. Auntie Social*

            Which I’d really appreciate. For two days, I’d call for a temp, rather than letting things pile up. There are so many ways to communicate. The employee just needs to pick one.

    4. Not All*

      In that situation (and I also have fibro as well as some other odd issues), a reasonable employee would have said “I’m sorry I’m dealing with a medical condition that makes calling in daily difficult. It typically lasts X number of days when it flares up so can we assume that I’ll be out X days each time and I will reach out to you by email if it is going to be longer than that?”

      1. Disaster Sandwich*

        It would be reasonable to tell that to your manager but its not always easy. I can’t speak to this situation but I was very worried about talking to my manager about it when I was first diagnosed. Things she had said led me to believe she would not be so understanding. Some people don’t even believe fibromyalgia exists!

        That’s probably not what’s happening here as far as her manager is concerned but I think its normal for people to be hesitant to divulge medical conditions, particularly when they are ones that don’t have an end in sight and it essentially means you’re openly telling your manager that your absences are going to be an ongoing problem.

    5. Not a Blossom*

      It seems that e-mailing or texting would be options, so I really don’t see an excuse. I once got home from the emergency room at 3 am drugged off my gourd, and I still managed to call in and tell my supervisor I wouldn’t be in. (This was in the olden times when e-mailing and texting weren’t even an option.)

      In situations like this, if the supervisor were willing to give one more shot, she should make it clear that the assistant must call, e-mail, or text (say all 3 explicitly) each day she is out and note that she can call/e-mail/text the night before if necessary. She might even suggest guidelines, like “if you’re still feeling bad by X o’clock in the evening, assume you will be out the next day and call in.”

      1. Disaster Sandwich*

        Like I said, I was just trying to understand why the employee could be struggling with this. I definitely agree she needs to find a solution and make sure her manager knows she will be out.

      2. kerlin*

        I once called in sick while being prepped for emergency surgery, after getting to the ER at 1:30 am and not having slept a wink in between. That’s an extreme example, yes, but if I hadn’t shown up that morning I’d fully expect them to have been pissed.

        In that situation the next morning I also checked in and said “I’ll probably be out X days, and will touch base early next week to see how things are going.” So there’s room for longer periods without a second call-out, but you HAVE to at least communicate.

    6. Blue*

      Yeah, I’m kind of sympathetic to the employee, because I know the one time in recent memory that I called out multiple days in a row, I very nearly forgot to call in again the second day. It was like I had checked “tell them I’m sick” off my mental to do list and it wasn’t on my radar at all. But the fact that this is an on-going issue changes things – it’s not a new or unfamiliar situation to her, and she’s clearly aware of the correct procedure. It’s definitely time for some sort of consequences.

      1. Oxford Comma*

        And the OP has spoken to her about it. So it’s not a one off. And since it’s not a one off and presumably since the employee has been well enough to either come up with a solution herself or work with the OP to find one, as another commenter suggested above, now this is becoming an issue of insubordination.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, as a one-off I’d cut the employee a fair bit of slack, but at this point she’s been told what she needs to do and she’s simply not interested in doing it.

      2. Elfie*

        Late to the party, I know, but I’m wondering if there’s something like anxiety at play. I HATE calling in sick, especially if it’s because of a mental health issue (because then you don’t sound sick). I regret to say that I have no called, no showed in my time (I was much younger, and very lucky that I didn’t even get disciplined, let alone fired!). It’s not because I wasn’t taking my job seriously, more that I took it too seriously. It causes me a stupid amount of anxiety to physically call in sick, and a bit less, but still stupid amount of anxiety to text in sick, even now (I’m 42, ffs!). I do it, because you can’t just not show up, but if the employee is younger, and struggling with a mental health condition that is triggered around this, then maybe that’s at play. What makes it easier is if I know that I’m not going to be judged for being out. Of course, none of that may be the case, and she might just be very very cavalier about her job.

    7. rogue axolotl*

      If it’s okay to notify by email, you can just set an email to send the next morning, and cancel it if you don’t end up needing it.

    8. ACDC*

      So what would your proposed solution be? It doesn’t seem like you particularly favor any of the suggestions here, but keep saying “she needs to find a solution.” The manager doesn’t seem to be lacking empathy, in my opinion, as they haven’t fired her yet. The issue is the lack of communication full stop.

    9. Observer*

      Well, it’s on the employee to make the unknown, known then.

      It is NOT reasonable to expect the employer to start guessing at all the possible reasons this might be happening and then offer possible accommodations.

      To be clear – if the employee comes to the employer with a problem and a reasonable work around, then a reasonable employer should definitely try to accommodate. But that’s not what’s happening here.

  15. Escapee from Corporate Management*

    OP3, Alison is spot on. You never used the words “salary”, “title”, or “promotion” when discussing this initially with your manager. I bet They were almost certainly thinking “organization” and “authority” based on the words you did use. They may not have even been thinking of this as a promotion.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I did not get “… by which I mean salary” AT ALL from OP’s word choice.

      Indirect communication only works if everyone in the group understands what the indirect signals are and mean. “Change the org chart” ≠ “raise my salary a specific amount.”

    2. Mary*

      The only way I can se that working is if they have the kind of strict org hierarchy where you are supposed to be at Director Of level to manage a Head Of level, and the salary bands for those levels are fixed.

      I got promoted from X Officer to X Consultant in a previous role, which should have meant going from the £25-30k band to £30-35k band. But even though I changed line manager and changed my email sig, it wasn’t made official with HR so I stayed on the same salary.

      1. doreen*

        My job has that sort of strict hierarchy – the only deviation is that very occasionally a middle level might be skipped. For example, the Widget Makers usually report to a Senior Widget Maker who reports to a Chief Widget Maker , but in this one location, the Widget Makers report directly to a Chief Widget Maker.
        The thing is, even with the strict hierarchy and salary bands, I’ve seen that result in something that looks very much like what the OP describes- but it isn’t a promotion. Because what happened is not that one person was promoted- it’s that the other person was demoted.

      1. ThankYouRoman*

        This varies state to state regarding job abandonment.

        If you have safe law involved, you have to make accommodations for those who may displaced due to domestic violence.

        But all this should be in any employee handbook that’s not a messy joke.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      She gets 1 more warning that she must call, text or email EVERY day she is out sick, even if that means sending an email after hours for the next day. A non-response for each day equals no call/no show = firing.

      I have little sympathy for this, as she has been warned about it perviously. It is also not some emergency situation, where a normally considerate employee doesn’t call because they’re at the hospital or something (everyone should get at least one free pass).

  16. Aphrodite*

    I am a carnivore who also enjoys vegetarian and vegan food. However, I’d find this type of steakhouse, which I had never heard of until now, very off putting. I’d likely opt out just because the idea of slabs of meat being slapped down in front of you until you choose one is … unsettling.

    1. animaniactoo*

      fwiw, they’re not slapped down in front of you – waiters will come by with a cart, each cart will have something different, and you simply indicate that why yes, you would like to have some of that flank steak shaved off the ginormo skewer it was cooked on for you at which point they’ll shave a few slices onto the carving board, and put it on your plate. Or you pass and wait for the cart with the pork loin or the bacon-wrapped shrimp skewers to come by. The idea is that it allows you have just a few bites of several different kinds of meat or meat preparations without having to commit to having a lot of just one.

      Usually there’s an indicator on the table that allows you to “pause” new offerings until you’re ready for more.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I think some descriptions are leading people to think you choose your meat raw or it’s, like, whole. It’s basically just a traveling carvery. I like it, but it would be a lot to put up with as a vegan, and I sure wouldn’t knowingly host a vegan there.

      2. Just Another Attorney*

        Yeah, as a vegetarian (for mostly ethical/moral reasons), what you just described turned my stomach. Barf.

        1. namename*

          I literally went vegetarian in the middle of a meal at a Brazilian steakhouse. They were carrying around hunks of cooked meat on swords and cutting slices for each person tableside. I had some at the start of the meal, but something about the sight of it—especially juxtaposed with all the nicely dressed people, because it was a fancy place—was so off-putting that I just stopped. It’s been 10 years.

          1. Just Another Attorney*

            I get that. I grew up eating meat but always made an effort to disassociate what was on my plate from the fact that it had once been a real, live animal that breathed, ate, slept, etc. But one day, it was like I couldn’t do that anymore. When I see meat now, the only thing I can “see” is a corpse. Just like any other corpse. And the thought of eating that makes me very sick to my stomach. I think Mr. Rogers once said that he didn’t want to eat anything that had a mother — that’s a sentiment I can completely relate to!

  17. JJJJShabado*

    I have two perspectives on #3.

    When the economy was in worse shape, I was given a title bump and no raise. I didn’t care because my responsibilities didn’t change. There was basically a wage freeze after some layoffs. When economy recovered, I was fairly compensated and have been since. I didn’t have an issue because my work largely didn’t change.

    However, when there is a change in responsibility (an increase), you should be compensated for this. This is what is going in on #3. The situation I point to in this case is football player Jason Peters. It’s not exactly comparable because there are contracts involved and sports isn’t exactly the office. Jason Peters displayed talent as right tackle and signed a 5yr/$15M contract after the 2006 season. In the 2007 season, Peters became one of the top left tackles in the league. Left tackle is a promotion over right tackle. Prior to the 2008 season, Peters held out because he thought he should be paid more in line with what left tackles made (which would be 2-3X more what he was making). He and the team did not come to an agreement, he played the 2008 season under his current contract, was traded the next offseason and signed a new 6 yr/$60m contract.

    People will criticize athletes for holding out. They are using the leverage that they have. Everyone deserves to be paid what they are worth. You should also be paid in line with your job. There is always talk about contracts that are good for teams. However, that implication there (which true) is that the contract is bad for the player. It results in players being vastly underpaid.

  18. Mary*

    I completely don’t understand the maths of #5. How is there enough time for an extra week to think about it, but not time for a extra week’s notice?

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      What are the ethics of #5 taking vacation time from current employer to attend the training program — and THEN giving two weeks notice?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I’m pretty sure you need to be employed by them to attend the training. They don’t want to train someone they haven’t even hired yet.

        1. ACDC*

          Unless they made some exception where she would be hired by the time of the training, attend the training, then have the official start date be two weeks after that.

          As I write that out I realize how much work that would be, so nevermind…

      2. JSPA*

        I’d try to negotiate attending the training program, but then having two weeks unpaid leave, in which to return to the current employer in a consulting capacity (also unpaid, if need be, which may be doable, if the new salary really is so much higher) to make sure their transition goes smoothly.

        This gives current employer de facto three weeks notice, and lets both old and new employer know that you care about your duties to your employer and your team.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Me either! The whole thing is pretty red-flaggy to me and I’m glad Allison pointed out the potential problems of a company that’s this urgent/pushy about a start date.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Eh…it’s a major event which only occurs once a year. I can understand wanting to bring a new hire on in time to attend it, rather than literally one week too late so they have to wait a full year before being able to go. It sounded to me like they were pretty clear that this was specifically about that training event, so I’m not sure why people are seeing it as red-flaggy or thinking the company is being cavalier about it.

        1. Mary*

          But then how does “an extra week to think about it” work? Do they mean she can decide to accept the position literally the dat before the training starts and give no notice at all?

          1. Ha2*

            Yes, they mean that any day until the start of the training, you could accept the offer and go to the training.

            That part made sense to me. New employer is saying they don’t need to know until the training, but after the training it’s too late.

    3. ACDC*

      I was wondering the same thing. I get that this training is important and the dates aren’t negotiable, but the timeline isn’t measuring up for me either.

    4. Antilles*

      I read it as follows:
      Let’s assume the offer came in on Monday the 1st. The company wants OP to start on Monday the 8th, so she can be in the annual training session.
      OP asked for some time to think about it, and they told her that she can think about it, but the start date will be the 8th no matter what. So it’s not really providing an ‘extra’ week, it’s more just that the ‘week to think it over’ coincides with the week between now and the 8th anyways – so if OP takes till Wednesday the 3rd to tell her current company, she’ll be providing them with even less than a week’s notice.

    5. CupcakeCounter*

      Either OP has right up until the start of the conference to make the decision or OP doesn’t want to turn in her notice until all background checks, drug tests, physicals, paperwork, etc…are final so they aren’t putting their livelihood at risk.
      As for red-flaggyness…since this specifically relates to a annual training specifically for OP’s management level I don’t think the new company is being pushy.

    6. Elle Kay*

      I don’t understand how the timing here works?
      Either they’re giving her a week to consider + a week of notice (which is 2 weeks, right?)
      OR they’re giving her a week to be onboard- either a week of notice or 1 week – however much consideration time she takes.

  19. Seeking Second Childhood*

    LW1, I work for a corporation where it’s *really* hard to get yourself fired. Layoffs are not uncommon…firings are rare. Failing to call in your absence is one of the paths to manage it — and we’re told on Day One. It’s in our hiring materials.
    What did you tell HER when you hired her?

  20. Labradoodle Daddy*

    A piggyback on #1: how do I ask my manager what I do if I, say, get the flu, when I have no vacation/sick time left (due to ongoing medical issues) and have had my job threatened?

    1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      My sympathies–that really sucks. One thing you can maybe do, if they’re somewhat reasonable/sympathetic, is offer to make up the time when you’re well again. If you say you can plan to work long hours and weekends to catch up on work or butt-in-seat hours it may show them that you realize that going into the red on sick time is serious and you care about your job.

        1. fposte*

          If you’re eligible for FMLA (check your state to see if it has any earlier or better coverage, too), that sounds like the thing to go for.

    2. Jasnah*

      That’s what unpaid leave is for, I guess. But under those circumstances I’d assume I’m not long for the company anyway.

    3. AJ*

      Don’t ask. Go into work. “Sorry, I have the flu but don’t have any sick leave left.”

      Sneeze and cough all over the place and over everyone else, act delirious (walk into the male toilets and demand to know where the photocopier is), throw up in the kitchen/reception/boardroom, and fall asleep at your desk.

      I think very little of employers that sack people for daring to be sick.

  21. A.N. O'Nyme*

    #2, even if we forget about vegetarianism and veganism for a moment, Brazilian steakhouses (I had to look up what they are) sound a bit extreme for a work dinner anyway? As this comment section alone shows, plenty of meat-eaters would find this environment off-putting.

  22. Parenthetically*

    All the rules-lawyering about whether or not OP2 is allowed to feel bothered by the atmosphere of the restaurant (how much meat? how big are the pieces? how is it sliced? is it different than a butcher counter? or Thanksgiving? what about the smell?) is a REAL BUMMER, you guys. Can we knock it off please?!

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      (Personally I’m a happy carnivore – but I won’t presume to tell a stranger what opinion to have!)

  23. Observer*

    #2 I don’t have time to read all the comments now, but something jumped out at me – You said that the President’s father and sister are vegans!

    Depending on the place, there might be a pretty set of vegetarian options, but it’s really not likely to be the case for vegan options. It’s hard to believe that President doesn’t know this, given the family connection. So, he’s asking his father and sister to go to a place that ALL ABOUT MEAT. That’s a seriously messed up dynamic.

    Which means that either your comment will make him realize that whatever he’s playing at is going to have collateral damage and stop him. Or he won’t care.

    In any case, I would VERY much be on the lookout for other signs of dysfunction.

    1. McWhadden*

      While I strongly believe the LW should not have to attend a place where she’s literally surrounded by hunks of meat on sticks, most Brazilian steakhouses do have lots of stuff that would be considered vegan friendly in the buffet.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, that could be the family compromise, as opposed to a place that offers just salads for vegans.

        2. Observer*

          I’m totally sceptical. Even with a good buffet, this is not really a great place for someone who avoids meat for ethical reasons or who is long term vegan.

          1. McWhadden*

            Nothing in the letter suggests the other two are vegans for ethical reasons. And I have several friends who are vegetarian who love Brazilian steakhouses for this reason. I know that’s different from vegan but it’s still plausible.

    2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Yeah, I immediately thought that MAYBE President picked this place because he has some sort of hostility toward the family members. Like, “You’re ruining Thanksgiving with your vegan tofu turkey and talk about meat ethics, so now I’m going to pick this restaurant to spite you. Please feel free to stay home.”

  24. Agent Diane*

    We work on a system where when you call in sick day 1, you give an estimate of when you will be back. That enables managers to plan cover. That means if you’ve said on Mon “should be back Weds” then you can update Tues night with “nah, still off. Thursday”. After 7 days you need a sick note signed by a doctor though.

    (NB: in U.K.)

    1. Matt*

      Same thing here (Austria). The “call in every day” isn’t common here, it seems like an “American thing” – the downside is that doctor’s notes are required from day 3 onward. So the usual procedure is to drag yourself to your G.P. doctor on day 1, get “written sick”, get a re-appointment whenever depending on your illness, and until that day you’re legimitately “out of order”.

  25. mark132*

    #2 I’ve been in groups where I feel like we end up with the “Vegan Veto”. I don’t want to make Vegans uncomfortable, but occasionally can we get a steak?

  26. ReginaPhilange*

    #4: The EXACT same thing happened to me, also at a public library! I wrote a similar email to what Alison suggests there.

    It turned out they never received my application, which was super weird given that I submitted through an online automated system. I never found out, though, whether I would have gotten an interview if they had found my application. They ended up hiring the intern, which I found out by asking around, not directly from the supervisors. The whole thing was very strange and seemed uncharacteristic of librarians.

  27. soupmonger*

    #1: I had this exact situation with an employee who just wouldn’t call in when she was sick. I told her she had to call, not simply not turn up – she would agree to do this, and then – be off sick without calling. I sacked her. It was a real shame, as she was great at her job when she was in, but she just didn’t let me know when she’d be out.

  28. SJ*

    I think the better way to phrase the potential HR mistake (didn’t get an interview) would be to just let the people who encouraged her application know that she got a thanks but no thanks letter. Let it sit there. They will either follow up with HR or they know why she didn’t. I saw one young lady get an offer letter and a rejection letter the same day. She was unaware that they were considering her for two similar positions. Fortunately, the offer was real and she got a job she loves.

  29. CupcakeCounter*

    #2 – Since it is a thank-you/appreciation dinner, I would decline the invite and include a note saying that while you appreciate the invitation and the gesture you aren’t comfortable with the chosen location for the event. If you get some push back or questions about it I’d say essentially what you wrote in this letter – you don’t begrudge anyone else eating meat and don’t try to push your beliefs on anyone and know you will be able to have a decent meal but the particular setup of that type of restaurant essentially ruins your appetite and you would appreciate not having a pike of meat dropped on your plate.
    If it really was a true business dinner with clients and they had chosen the location my take would be different, but this is a business event that is supposed to be about you and your coworkers not going to the President’s favorite restaurant on company’s dime. I’m guessing he maybe just didn’t think about it for a variety of reasons (great salad bar, dinner and a “show”, no one has turned green and vomited on the table when he ordered the pork chops at other business dinner) as opposed to a diabolical act against his father and sister and all other non-meat eaters.
    I once got stupid excited about taking my friend to this awesome fish and chips place. Right outside the door she stopped dead and looked at me like I was crazy – big sign on the door stating that everything was fried in peanut oil. Her son was deathly allergic to peanuts and even though he wasn’t with us she would have come home with peanut oil on her hand and face etc… I know all about his allergy but in my brain he wasn’t with us so NBD. We got pizza instead.

  30. P*

    I feel a little obligated to report that most Brazilian steakhouses I’ve been to have REALLY NICE salad bars. (I think salad bar only costs like, $25? Maybe more?). They also have some awesome sides like fried plantains, etc.
    Now if folks are simply offended/disgusted by meat in general, it’s a crappy choice. But if they can tolerate people eating meat around them, most of the ones I’ve been to have plenty of awesome vegetarian food.
    I do agree overall it’s in questionable taste, just stating there are non-carnivore options at many of those places.

    1. fposte*

      I don’t think that’s the issue, though; the OP indicates in her letter that she knows she can find something to eat there. It’s the constant in-your-faceness of a food she’s opposed to that she’s having trouble with.

      1. P*

        Yeah I just reread the email and realized I’d managed to skip over the last line “I could easily find something to eat. That isn’t the problem. I really don’t think I can stomach the environment. ”
        Got a little too caught up in thinking of the delicious plantains :d (seriously, I need to learn how to make those one day, although I’m also afraid of the consequences if I do…)

  31. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

    For the no-call employee: I also agreed that she should be fired, but since the OP indicates a strong unwillingness to do this I have suggestions for how to handle it.

    It might also be better to set how many days she thinks she’ll be out at the start. If she goes home sick, or calls out sick on day 1, at that time ask if she intends to take multiple days off and make a note. If I’ve gone home sick, or can’t make it in to work, I’ve always been able to say to my boss, “I anticipate that I’ll be out for the rest of the week. Here is a quick overview of my projects and what might need to be taken care of in my absence.,” or something similar and not been required to give a daily update — but I’m exempt so that might be a difference here.

    Or — I can’t tell how the manager handles it at the time of the no-call/no-show, but if all she’s doing is having a “gentle reminder” conversation when the employee returns, it might be time to make it a bit more irritating to the employee. At 20 minutes past the normal start time if No-Call isn’t there, call, send a text, AND send an email asking her if she’s coming in. If there’s no response in an hour, do it again, until she responds. Make it very inconvenient for her to no-call. The only way out is for her to communicate her intention to work or not. I think that, while this makes more work than it should for the manager in the short term, it won’t take too many days of this before the situation resolves itself. She’ll either get trained to call, or she’ll quit.

  32. Dzhymm*

    #5 – On the one hand, “two weeks notice” is a courtesy, not a legal requirement. Unless you have some kind of contract with your employer, in an employment-at-will situation you can theoretically quit at any moment for any reason or no reason at all.

    That said, I *am* getting a pretty sketchy vibe about the new job opportunity that promises “three times what you’re earning” but requires you to “act fast to attend our training”. In short, I’m getting a MLM or other sketchy-business vibe about it. What are the details of the compensation in the job offer? Is it an actual salary, or is it “potential earnings”? A 200% pay raise to me falls under the “too good to be true” category, unless there’s information that I don’t already know…

  33. Lucille2*

    #1 – Have you tried explaining to your employee why her method of taking sick time is so inconvenient for you? For some reason, I’m getting the vibe this employee is inexperienced and doesn’t really understand what most of us consider pretty universal workplace norms. You’ve told her what you expect, but she continues to do things her way. Perhaps explaining to her why her lack of communication is creating problems would help. If not, proceed with Alison’s advice.

  34. Lucille2*

    #2 – I literally had the same experience when I worked for a local family owned chain of retail stores. Every year, our multi-store holiday party was held in Jan (after holiday season, of course) at a Brazilian steakhouse. We had several vegetarians in my store who one year decided they’d had enough and campaigned for a different location. Our store manager told us we had permission to have our own store holiday party at a vegetarian friendly restaurant of our choice. I’m not sure if we actually had permission or what happened exactly, but there ended up being no option for our own vegetarian-friendly party, and we ended up uninvited to the multi-store party at the Brazilian steakhouse.

    Fast-forward a decade plus, and I have been the organizer of many a company-paid dinner. I have tried everything in my power to accommodate the variety of diet restrictions, allergies, and religious needs. I agree, a steakhouse is the fastest way to exclude vegetarians so I usually avoid that option. But it’s pretty much impossible to please everyone. So I now look at it as the offer of a free meal. Enjoy it for what it is, or don’t participate. Food-related drama turns petty really fast.

  35. Duchess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    As someone who has some dietary restrictions which I don’t like to discuss, I’ve in the past gone with RSVPing yes and then mysteriously coming down with something the day of.

  36. xyz*

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned for #1 is mental health problems. It may sound silly, but calling out (by email) gives me major anxiety. I sometimes have to ask my partner to send the message and read the reply because in my head I think I’m going to face some kind of diatribe about how I’m letting people down/faking it/generally a bad person. This hasn’t happened to date, but I still obsess about any reply/non-reply I get and how it probably secretly means I’m a terrible person.

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