my employee spends too much time pontificating, manager made me stay at work sick and soiled, and more

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

1. My employee spends too much time pontificating

I am a manager for a small but extremely busy office. I have one member of staff who is part-time and comes in only a few afternoons a week. She is a perfectionist and likes to always get everything right, but she wastes a huge amount of time pontificating about every little detail about her job, always making suggestions of how things could be done better, and constantly seeks my advice for even the smallest thing. I am always open to suggestions from all staff, but when she makes suggestions it is normally a long-winded conversation about how and why, etc. and I mostly end up explaining how we have either tried to do this before and it hasn’t worked and these are the reasons why, etc., but I am extremely busy and I am finding it really frustrating and a waste of time. She is also very quick to put other staff members down to me about mistakes she finds, even though they have more complicated and busier workloads and they are all there full-time.

We have two monthly team meeting and I always recommend for staff to email me suggestions for the next meetings, but she has emailed me more suggestions herself then everyone else put together in the whole team. She has also started to text me on my day off even though there are senior staff members to address queries to on that day. Any suggestions of how to handle this would be really appreciated.

“Jane, because you’re only here a few afternoons a week, I need you to spend that time focusing on your work. I’m finding we’re spending too much of your work time talking — going over suggestions and very small details about your job. Let’s plan to have one short meeting to check in each week (or every other week, depending on the nature of her work), but otherwise I need you to stay focused on your work the rest of the time you’re here.” Then make that meeting for a specific amount of time (maybe 30 minutes, depending on what’s needed for her work), and stick to an agenda for it. This time should largely be for checking in on her projects, but you can set aside time at the end for anything she wants to raise. But stick to the time you’ve allotted for it, and stick to the ending time.

When she puts other staff members down: “Lucinda is a great staff member and I’m surprised by your tone there.” And then if it happens again: “I’m concerned by the tone I’ve heard you using about this kind of thing a few times. What’s going on?”

When she texts you on your day off: “I’m not working today. Please contact Cecil.” (Or, if you can reasonably expect her to know what days you don’t work — if they’re always the same each week — it’s fine to address it once and then, after that, not respond until you’re back at work.)

But also: How good is she at her job? Is she a high performer? My hunch is that she’s not and that this might all be symptoms of a larger problem that you need to address. If I’m wrong about that and she’s great at her job, then just be really direct about these specific changes you need from her … but I suspect it’s worth taking a broader look at the situation.

2. Can my manager make me stay at work after I got sick and soiled myself?

I haven’t been feeling good for the past three days and today I ended up getting sick in the bathroom. I hadn’t used the restroom in a while so it caused me to urinate on myself. I found a female supervisor and she told me I couldn’t leave, and that because I’m wearing black no one would see. If I had left, I would be fired. I had to sit in my own urine. Can my manager do that?

Legally, yes. By any other measure — ethics, logic, basic humanity — no.

Throwing up at work is on its own a reason to let you go home. Hell, simply saying you were sick and needed to leave should be enough, even without throwing up. Then add in the rest of it, and you’re dealing with someone who’s most likely drunk on a small amount of power and has no idea how reasonable employers operate.

You said she’s a supervisor, not the supervisor, so it’s worth considering talking with someone higher up and/or in HR about what happened and finding out if they really endorse her approach. If they do, know that you are working for unusually awful people and should proceed accordingly.

3. Explaining why I’m looking to leave a job after three months

About three months ago, I accepted a contracted position under the guise that it would be more of a business analyst position. When I got here, it was actually data entry. I was understandably upset, but after talking to my recruiter, it became clear that there was nothing that I could do (besides look for another job).

I am now onto the second and third round interviews for two companies — both jobs I would love to have. The one recurring issue, however, is that my interviewers at both companies have had some very direct questions about how I came into my current position. I don’t want to say the truth — that I was lied to and am now stuck in a dead end contract — so I have been taking the candid approach. I gingerly let them know that I am grateful for the opportunity, but it just wasn’t what I expected. Sometimes this has a positive response, but sometimes it doesn’t. I am sure this is a common issue, so how can I gracefully overcome this career misstep?

Being ginger about it is probably making them think there’s something more to the story. You don’t need to dance around this. It’s better to just come out and say, “I was hired to do a business analyst position, but it’s turned out the work they need done is mainly data entry.”

I suspect you’re thinking that you’ve been told not to badmouth an employer in an interview, but this isn’t badmouthing them — it’s just giving a neutral and understandable explanation for why you’re looking to leave so quickly, and it’s an explanation that makes sense. If you said it in an angry tone or expressed personal enmity toward them, that would be a problem — but saying it calmly and matter-of-factly is fine.

4. How should I handle unsolicited vendor and recruiter emails?

My question is how to handle unsolicited business-to-business interactions. I work in a hot field (IT/security) and I have “manager” in my title. However, I do not have any direct reports, nor do I make hiring or buying decisions for my organization.

I get a LOT of unsolicited email. Some of it is straightforward junk, which I block and that’s that. However, some of it is from vendors or recruiters I don’t necessarily want to blow off — that is to say, if in five years I do have more hiring or buying authority, I don’t want to burn any bridges.

Until now, I’ve been ignoring both emails and Linkedin connection requests from these folks. I understand (although dislike) the kind of scatter-shot sales approach (email is cheap! even an insanely low conversion rate is revenue!). Should I start sending a short, canned response, clarifying my position and letting them know I’ll keep them in mind for the future? I don’t want to get into a sales-y cycle where they push for contact info for my organization’s buyers, but I also feel like leaving them hanging is a less-than-satisfactory answer for my career in the long term.

You are 100% okay just not responding. Delete and move on!

They are very, very used to get a high rate of non-responses to their emails. They expect it. It’s part of the job. It will not burn a bridge if you just don’t respond. You do not need to take time out of your day to send a polite “no thanks” to people trying to get you to buy things; you are allowed to treat it like any other unsolicited junk mail and just ignore it.

And if at some point in the future you decide you do want to contact them about potentially working together, they will be delighted by that and not irate that you didn’t respond earlier.

(All that said, if someone emails you repeatedly, it can be better for your in-box to reply and say, “I don’t have any purchasing/hiring authority, so please take me off your list.” And if they ask you to connect them to whoever does, you can say, “I’m not sure about that. But it’s definitely not me! Thanks for removing me.” But that’s only if someone is repeatedly contacting you.)

5. I was asked for an Informational Interview but I’m not sure I’m qualified

I just received a LinkedIn message requesting a 15-20-minute informational interview with a current student at my alma mater. She was very polite in her message and said she wanted to get more information about entering the field in which I work.

I’m generally someone who enjoys helping others and providing feedback or advice when I can. But I’ve only been working a little over a year. I graduated college back in May of 2017 and have been in my entry-level role for a little over a year. Am I really qualified to give advice to others when I’m so early on in my career myself? I know you’ve talked about imposter syndrome before, so I’m not sure if I’m experiencing that, or if I’m really just not qualified and should suggest she meet with someone more senior in their career.

You might actually be perfect for her to meet with, depending on what she wants to know. You’re well positioned to talk about entry-level work in the field — what hiring processes are like, what has surprised you about the field, the nitty-gritty of your day-to-day work, and lots of other things that people 10 years ahead of you might not remember nearly as well as you will since you’re right in the middle of it now.

But if you want to, you can make it clear to her that you’ll be bringing some limitations in your perspective by saying something like, “I’d be glad to talk to you, but I do want to make sure you know that I graduated a year ago and have only been working in the field since then. I’m happy to tell you about my experience so far, but I wanted to flag that in case you were seeking out someone with more experience to share.” My bet, though, is that she’ll find real value in talking to someone who’s just a little further along than she is.

{ 363 comments… read them below }

  1. TL -

    #5 – it was way more helpful for me to talk to people just a bit ahead of me when I was first starting out. People who were far along in their career didn’t have the best view of what lower level positions actually entailed anymore! They were great for figuring out long-term career goals, but if you asked them about starting in their career, they only remembered the high- or low- lights.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Agreed. Recent grads also knew the hustle way better and could tell me what they did right/wrong. If someone asked me for job hunting tips, now, I could tell them broadly what I look for when I’m hiring, but my experience re: the hustle is so far removed that it’s probably not useful.

    2. Psyche

      Exactly! Someone who was just hired for an entry level position in the field knows exactly what it takes to be hired in an entry level position in the field and what the process is like. Some of the best advice I got was from recent graduates because they had just been though it.

    3. PM Punk

      I totally agree. I’m only a handful of years removed from starting out, but recognize that I’m already forgetting some of the struggles that came with trying to break into a field just out of college. That’s a really valuable perspective to have, and #5 probably remembers how to effectively interview better than someone who hasn’t done one in a few years.

    4. ElspethGC

      My university careers service (which appears to be a lot better than some referenced on AAM!) arranges for people who graduated last year and the year before to come back and talk to current students about entering the field. It’s definitely a recognised thing that recent grads are very useful to speak to when it comes to that sort of advice.

    5. Washi

      Plus a new grad is less intimidating! Anyone asking for an information interview should do their research, of course, but there will be less of a fear of asking a dumb but genuine question about how it all works. Your position is also a much more attainable goal – when I first started out, I had a lot of doubt that I would ever end up where fellow alumni were 10+ years out, and it was comforting to talk to people only 1-2 years after graduation who were doing something interesting, but not unachievably so.

    6. Someone Else

      I agree with this, but at the same time one thing #5 should be mindful of is I know a lot people new to a field sometimes learn what is the norm at their specific workplace, and extrapolate that to the norm in their field. Sometimes they’re right! But it’s something to be mindful of, and also sometimes difficult to be sure about when one year in. If the student wants info specific to this company, then great, not a concern. But if you’re not sure if something is standard at that company vs standard in that field, be careful to frame the answer in context. If you’re sure it’s true of your company say that, but don’t assume it’s true of most companies in that field, because it may not be (unless you have evidence supporting it as a wider thing).

      1. OP

        Hey, I’m the OP. Thanks for that advice, if I do decide to help the student, I will be sure to be aware of contextual things that might depend on the company/workplace environment. It would be truly unfair to make any blanket statement about an industry and expect it would apply to each and every company and job. I can only speak on my experiences, and can’t speak for every single company in my field, but that’s true of most industries.

    7. Leela

      I work in games and the advice from so many long-term people in industry is “you know I just started out in QA and in 6 months or so I was a Project Manager/Game Designer/Artist/whatever!”

      But that’s far, far less bankable now. Schools are pumping out new grads with specific training in those areas every three months and the industry is totally flooded, as AAA studios implode taking hundreds of jobs off the table every time. It’s hard to find someone whose advice is applicable to new grads because most of us get choked out of the field before we have a chance to start.

      1. Hummus

        This is the case for so many industries. The experiences of someone starting the career 10+ years ago were vastly different to how things work today.

      2. Chris Hogg

        Hi Leela – you’ve touched on a very important but generally unknown / unrecognized phenomenon, that being a field or particular job becoming wildly popular, huge numbers of folks entering that field / striving for that job (i.e., going to college for, getting a masters in, etc), and that field / job becoming saturated relatively quickly, with the “latecomers” left hanging out to dry. This is adressed in the book, What Color is Your Parachute? by Bolles. And supports the idea that when choosing a career field, we should, whenever possible, choose one that appeals to us, that can use our strengths, and that will sustain our interest and use our abilities over the long haul, as opposed to choosing a field that’s “hot” right now and pays big bucks. In some sense, “hot” careers and jobs are like multi-level marketing (MLM) companies: if you get in at the very beginning you have a chance of doing very well, but after a while, not so much.

    8. Bulbasaur

      Yes, this is me. I’m very keen to help out and do informational interviews, career talks etc. and I do have a lot to offer in terms of describing workplace norms, kinds of jobs, typical challenges etc. But if you want to know about the challenges involved in transitioning from study to your first job in today’s workplace? It was 20+ years ago when I did it, the market and economy were totally different, the jobs weren’t the same as they are today etc. To get a really relevant answer to that kind of question you need somebody like OP #5.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#2, that is absolutely horrifying, and I’m so sorry. It’s likely legal, but that certainly doesn’t make what she did ok. Your manager sounds like she took classes at the Agatha Trunchbull School of Management.

    I hesitate to ask this, because I suspect that any workplace that has a manager like this is Toxic, but could you go over her head to report this to HR? What your manager did was abusive and bullying, and I can’t imagine that any halfway decent workplace would tolerate that kind of behavior.

    1. Bowserkitty

      Agreed with this and I shudder to think of all the other supervisors who may have attended that “fine” institution.

      I also second the HR notion if it is available.

    2. uptoolate

      It could be illegal depending on where you are! Some very few states require employers to offer earned sick time and/or make it illegal to fire an employee for being sick (proud to say that Mass. passed this law a few years ago).

      1. D'Arcy

        Oregon requires it too — any business with ten or more workers *must* provide full-time employees with at least five days paid sick leave per year. In the City of Portland, this is broadened to any business with six or more employees.

      2. LQ

        Some cities have these laws as well, even if your state doesn’t, you may live in a cities that has some protection from being fired for being sick.

      3. ThankYouRoman

        The rub is the OP must have sick leave time left to use!

        If you’re out of banked sick time, you’re still out of luck despite the law.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood

          That depends on the law. If I understand it correctly, some jurisdictions have passed language that the company need not *PAY* you if you are verifiably sick beyond your paid sick time, but they may not *FIRE* you. Sort of “FMLA lite”.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Do you have specific jurisdictions in mind? I don’t know of any law in the U.S. that prohibits employers from firing someone who continues to miss working after using up all their sick time other than FMLA (which gives you up to 12 weeks if you, your company, and your circumstances qualify). But there could certainly be a local law I don’t know about.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                Yeah, but that’s giving a certain amount of sick leave (even if unpaid), which is different than what I think Seeking Second Childhood is talking about.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  Agreed, and the same goes for Massachusetts. Neither state has an FMLA-lite provision. They have mandatory sick leave provisions, but there’s nothing in those laws that protects your job if you fail to avail yourself of FMLA and you also take leave beyond your sick leave allocation.

    3. Traffic_Spiral

      How is it legal? Isn’t it some kind of health code violation to make someone sit in their own bodily fluids like that?There has to be some basic health and safety issues!

      1. Grand Mouse

        Urine doesn’t count as a biohazard (I work in cleaning). It IS gross, and unpleasant, and very unfair to be in that situation. I have a neurological condition that caused me to soil myself once. I was so embarassed. I couldn’t bring myself to tell my manager what happened so I just told him I had a neurological incident (keeping it vague but he is aware of the details). It was very unpleasant emotionally and physically. That was a long ride home.

        But anyway, unfortunately health code doesn’t apply here. I don’t believe in legislating everything but it would be nice to have legal backing to protect yourself. I hope the US gets better at implementing and following through on sick leave policies.

        (as an aside, I feel like I’m cheating sometimes by bringing up Serious Neurological Condition as a way to get excused from work. I don’t think I abuse it, and I’ve never used it when I’m not actually unwell, but I’ve used it as a cover for things I’d rather not discuss.)

        1. Sally

          You shouldn’t have to go into detail about why you need to go home sick anyway, so giving a vague reason sounds like a good alternative.

        2. Lara

          Question: if she had gotten sick on herself, would that have counted as a biohazard? I mean, I’d hate to suggest that if you’ve already urinated on yourself but…

          1. Jack Be Nimble

            Grossness to follow!!

            I don’t work in the cleaning industry, but I received biohazard training as an undergraduate as part of my job! We were told that sick isn’t a biohazard in and of itself, but it can be if there’s blood in it.

            Grossness over.

            1. JustaTech

              I guess vomit wasn’t called out specifically as an Other Potentially Infectious Material (which is basically any bodily fluid that’s not from the GI tract/ otherwise normally excreted), but that’s talking about bloodborne pathogens. If we were talking about something like norovirus (not to start that again) or salmonella or some other GI bug then it *would* be a biohazard.

              OP2, regardless of the biohazard status, this was nasty and cruel on your supervisor’s part. I’m very sorry this happened to you.

                1. Noobtastic

                  Yes.

                  Next question: Would it be a form of bullying if someone (who doesn’t work there, but just read this letter and was thoroughly outraged) broke into that office and peed on the supervisor’s chair? Shortly before opening, so it would still be as wet and stinky as possible when she first sat down on it?

                  Because I REALLY want to do that.

      2. Clementine

        I agree. I hope no one tries to argue otherwise with the statement that urine is sterile (not exactly true).

        1. Noobtastic

          Technically, urine is *created* sterile, but then, it passes through the urinary tract, and has all sorts of opportunity to be contaminated along the way. There IS bacteria in urine, because no one has a sterile urinary tract.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Unfortunately it doesn’t fall within most health and safety provisions. OSHA rules about bodily fluids are primarily keyed to whether items are likely to pose a public health risk (i.e., to be likely to cause or promote infection). The technical definition of biohazard is: “any biological material that poses a potential threat to the health and safety of humans, animals, or the environment.” Unless there is blood or pus in your urine, it’s not considered biohazardous and doesn’t fall within most federal or state worker health or public health provisions.

    4. The Grammarian

      I think this is an issue that should go to HR, or whichever manager is above your manager. No one should have to sit in their bodily fluids all day.

      1. SigneL

        Adding my voice to the chorus. And surely, if you’re throwing up, you are too sick to be at work anyway?

        OP2, I’m really, really sorry this happened to you. Can you send an update, please?

        1. Rusty Shackelford

          This. Whether or not anything else happened, you were vomiting. You wouldn’t be allowed in a daycare or school. I’m pretty conservative about when I call in sick, but vomiting is a slam dunk, do not pass go, do not collect $200 sick day.

          1. myfemmebot

            Many years ago when I worked in a grocery store, the rule was that if you puked within the last 24 hours you couldn’t come to work. It might have even been Mass law, but I don’t remember.

            1. Noobtastic

              I never knew about laws and such, but I did learn fast that if you don’t want to have the “are you really too sick to work” argument when you call in sick, just throw in a “gastrointestinal distress,” and suddenly, there is no argument. 1) Nobody wants details, and 2) nobody wants to risk the possible contagion. Risk of a cough, cold, fever, flu? SURE! Suck it up and be tough! I work through that, and so can you? But vomiting and/or diarrhea? NOOOOO! Keep that stuff away from all of us!

              Seriously, I have never worked anywhere where it has not been a magic word, even among the most hard-core perfect attendance during the Swine Flu types.

              In fact, when I came down with the Swine Flu, some people STILL wanted me to come in to work. These are the same people who literally made crosses with their fingers at me, when they found out I vomited into my trash can, because I couldn’t make it to the toilet.

              People are weird.

        2. Fergus

          My fiancee was at a Social Security office one day and she said she needed to use the bathroom. She was told for employees only. She vomited in the nearest trash can. I told her she should have done it on the floor and make sure it splatters on the shoes who told her employees only.

          1. CmdrShepard4ever

            While this seems like fitting revenge it would not have been the employees who denied her access to the bathroom who would have had to clean it up. It likely would have been the custodial staff.

            Also it may not have been the staff person’s choice to deny her use of the bathroom, a Social Security office has sensitive private information and is a federal government office. If the bathroom was in the back near work spaces it could have been a security breach to allow her in to use the bathroom. The staff person could have gotten in serious trouble.

            Now should the building have a public bathroom yes, but again that would be above the heads of the people working on a day to day basis.

            1. Leela

              Seconded! In college I used to work in a retail store that had a hardline absolutely no customers in the bathroom rule. This was because our safe was kept in there, as were all employee purses, wallets, etc. We didn’t even have cubbies.

              Even if we’d felt like we should let someone use the bathroom, there were cameras in the back that would have showed us leading someone through all of our backstock to the bathroom and we could definitely have gotten fired, hours cut, etc for doing so.

              Our corporate office who made this policy was half the country away and we had no contact upward with them. People would allow their children to pee in the store all the time to “teach us a lesson” when we wouldn’t let them use our bathroom. It didn’t affect any change, and it wasn’t our fault they couldn’t use it. They just made a terrible job even more terrible in their tantrum, which is what throwing up on the shoes of a worker who doesn’t get to choose would be doing.

              1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

                Not to mention a lot of retail stores (especially in malls) don’t actually have bathrooms.

                Ughh…

                1. Noobtastic

                  Yeah, I worked in one of those, once. Fortunately, it was before my body developed certain issues. And we were close to the food court, and the only bathrooms in the mall. WHO DESIGNED THAT MALL?!?!?!?! Even the Sears didn’t have bathrooms! They did have to clean their changing rooms every night, because they were on the far end of the mall from the food court. GROSS.

                  Anyway, the point is, some architects are too stupid to live, and I will never again take a job at a mall.

                  If I ever design a mall, I’ll have a whole lot of restrooms, spread throughout the place. Not one big bank of booths. More like a whole lot of single-room “family bathrooms,” designed to be handicapped accessible, with room for multiple people inside (parents helping children, or health-aides helping handicapped people), and have them *all over the place*. Like, never further than two store fronts away. Also, the big stores would have bathrooms inside them, as well. I think I’d put them right next to the changing rooms, so that you can safely leave your merchandise with the changing room attendants, and not bring it into the bathroom with you.

              2. FaintlyMacabre

                Oh god. I used to work for a beverage company and when the high fructose corn syrup came, the truckers would always ask to use the bathroom. They just spent hours driving, their time was closely monitored- while the syrup was pumping was really the only down time they got. We weren’t supposed to allow them to use the bathroom, but a lot of us did. It was a messed up situation. There was one guy who would pee in a bottle and leave it on the dock, but he got fired. I suspect his disgruntlement was deep.

                1. JustaTech

                  This is how people get kidney problems. What kind of dislocated from humanity and reality do you have to be to not want to let your employees perform the most basic of bodily functions? “Taking a pee cost the company $0.47, you’re fired.”

              3. Rusty Shackelford

                I was a volunteer at a charity shop that had to institute a “no public bathroom” rule because we literally couldn’t afford to keep calling the plumber. I don’t know what makes people go to a store that supports a charity and say “I know, let’s flush a golf ball down the toilet!” but they do. And yes, people decided to use the dressing rooms as bathrooms instead, so those got shut down as well. This is why you can’t have nice things, people.

              4. Noobtastic

                While it is true that it’s a bad idea to allow customers into an area with the safe/employee possessions/files/etc., it’s also true that “life happens,” and people NEED to use the bathroom, sometimes very, Very quickly.

                Just as I believe that, in an ideal world, all public bathrooms would be handicapped accessible, as well as unisex, I also believe that, in an ideal world, all businesses would have at least one publicly accessible bathroom.

                Really, why did they think the toilet was the best place to store all that stuff, anyway? I would be grossed out every day, when I had to collect my purse. UGH! And to top it off, having desperate people getting desperate revenge, because the Corporate couldn’t be bothered to make a simple *closet* to store that stuff?! Heck, you can actually get a free-standing wardrobe, with a lock on it, for a lot of that stuff. All of it, if you’re willing to get a custom-made job. And then, everyone can use the toilet!

            2. Fergus

              My fiancee was in the back and the bathroom was in the hallway. Also if you fly delta you might have to sit in feces

              1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

                Well to be fair, that was dog feces, so I’m not sure that access to the airplane bathroom would have helped much.

              2. Observer

                You’re missing the point –

                The people cleaning up would almost certainly NOT be the person who made the rule. And the people who didn’t let you use the bathroom quite likely were not the people who made the rule, and could have been risking significant consequences for allowing it.

                1. Rusty Shackelford

                  I don’t actually think vomiting in a trash can is worse than vomiting in a toilet. No one has recently pooped in the trash can. I hope.

            3. LQ

              Yeah, my immediate thought was, of course they can’t let you use a staff only bathroom that would be a huge security breach, that is absolutely on our list of things we could get fired for. I don’t even work for social security (they are in our building) but it’s still on the list of stuff I know they can’t do, we can’t either. (I’ve definitely heard people get real upset that they don’t have a public bathroom, there is one in the building but I don’t know where it is, I always have to direct people to the security desk.)

            4. Turn up NPR

              100%.

              No way the staffer who told her there’s no bathroom would clean it up. They’re civil servants and they are unionized. It would more than likely have been the building’s custodial staff.

              Now, being told there are no public bathrooms depends on who is the owner of the building. If it’s owned by the federal government, they make public restrooms available. If the SS office is leasing space in a privately owned building, there may not be any made available. In that case, I’m sure the staff is told not to let the public use the staff bathrooms. In many government offices that I’ve been in, you need a key.

        3. Laurelma_01!

          I had a boss that refused to let me go home sick one time. I would wait on a customer, throw up in the back, and come back out. The customer’s could hear it. A couple of customers complained, then I got sent home.

          1. Noobtastic

            So, the boss didn’t care about *you* but did care about the bottom line (customers not wanting to shop there, anymore)? Wow, what a shocker.

            Take note, people! If you are a customer, and feel the need to complain, please do so, because some poor sucker may very well be relying on you to save them!

            One of my female relatives will *never* complain (to management, just to us), no matter what goes wrong. Drives me nuts.

        4. Emelle

          I am stuck here too. You threw up, go home. I cannot imagine making someone stay at work after they vomited. (I would be finding you a bag and calling someone to come get you.) Do not hang around me with your potential stomach bug.

          1. NurseZoey

            I’m a hairstylist, I became suddenly ill and unfortunately couldn’t make it to the bathroom. I threw myself into the wax room and basically projectile vomited my soul everywhere. I cleaned up, barley able to function, told my boss I’d just gotten sick and needed to leave. I was told I could leave AFTER I finish whatever I had on my books. I’m always booked, she knows I’m always booked and would not be able to leave till I was already scheduled to leave. I’m paid in commission, I only get paid for services performed and we have no sick days or paid sick leave. If I’m asking to leave it’s because I’m truly sick, I can’t afford not to work just for fun. So I stayed. People were complaining to me that I shouldn’t be there but I would have been fired if I’d left.

    5. Lexi Kate

      With the exception that you are not a 911 operator, air traffic controller or in some other position where they may not be able to work reasonably without you when you are scheduled. Then its time to find a new job this is not somewhere you or anyone else wants to stay.

      1. Cat Fan

        Right, there is a person walking around out there who knows that she threatened a dick employee into staying at work in clothing that she vomited and urinated on, and feels good about that decision.

          1. Pomona Sprout

            Thanks for clearing that up. I was trying to figure out why the word “dick” was being applied to the employee, not the supervisor. Because not letting that employee go home was a real dick move, lolol!

    6. Faith

      After reading a story (on Reddit, I think) about a waitress who was forced to finish her shift after she started having an active miscarriage, I think nothing can surprise me anymore.

      1. Noobtastic

        OMG! That’s beyond cruel. That’s a bio-hazard! Miscarriages mean bleeding. Lots of bleeding. Bleeding uncontrollably all over the floor.

        For goodness’ sake! This is in food service! Think of the customers getting “Let’s get the heck out of here, and forget the bill” sick from seeing that! Not to mention the SLIPPING HAZARD!

        I just… There is not enough even in the world for me to can.

        1. Ego Chamber

          Your idea of what a miscarriage looks like is far from universal. Over the decade I worked in Call Center Hell, I knew 4 coworkers who had miscarriages while at work and only 1 bled out in a noticeable way—1 of the others even stayed at work while having her miscarriage because she didn’t want to “waste a sick day.”

          It’s not always the elevator scene from The Shining, is my point.

    7. Anon Anon Anon

      I’m having a hard time believing this is legal. Employment law might not cover it, but it must be illegal to force someone to sit in their own urine (“force” here being the threat of being fired). Could other laws apply?

      1. Justme, The OG

        Other laws like what? The US (and I’m only assuming that OP#2 is in the IS) is rather lax in its worker protection laws in comparison to other countries.

        1. Anon Anon Anon

          Right, but what about laws that are not specific to work? I think it would be illegal to do this to someone outside of work. Could those laws apply to the workplace as well?

          1. JB (not in Houston)

            The issue isn’t whether it’s legal to force someone to sit in their own urine. The employer didn’t hold a gun to her head to force her to sit in her soiled clothes. She could leave if she wanted to.* The issue is whether it’s legal to fire someone who leaves work so they don’t have to sit in their own urine. And it is. So the law doesn’t really cover it.

            *It’s awful, but the law rarely recognizes risk of firing as coercive, outside of the context of things like sexual harassment. In reality, of course, fear of getting fired is hugely coercive for many, many people.

      2. ThankYouRoman

        No. If it’s an at will state, they can fire you.

        The only protections are if a healthcare provider neglects a patient who is in their care. You see this terrible stuff in shoddy nursing homes and such.

        Being threatened with being fired isn’t seen as force. You still have a choice.

        Also it’s not a soggy diaper. It dries.

        She should have been able to go home, don’t get me wrong, it’s gross to be so cold hearted, but it’s no where near a legal issue.

        1. Beancounter in Texas

          That’s what I was wondering, whether the urea would affect the OP’s skin, to add insult to injury.

          1. Anonyish

            IIRC while urine can irritate, it isn’t going to be a significant problem for a one off. Think of babies – you need to change a nappy with diarrhea in it quickly, because it can cause significant skin problems quite fast. But if your post-nappy toddler wets himself though it can be a mild irritant it is not going to be terrible. The horror here is the social one.

            1. Other problems, though

              Urine itself may not be damaging, but at least for women, sitting in damp clothing can cause a yeast infection/UTI thanks to warm/moist conditions causing bacteria growth. This manager is just a bad person.

      3. Beancounter in Texas

        Unfortunately, I think laws tend to restrict what cannot be done and what must be done. Unless this basic, humane issue became such an issue that a law had to be put down in the books to cover it, it’s not written and therefore, not illegal.

      4. CM

        It would 100% be illegal to physically stop her from leaving the building, but it’s probably not illegal to fire her if she chooses to go. This is what happens when we build a culture that leaves working class people to the whims of their employers and doesn’t provide them a basic universal income that would let them walk away from abusive jobs.

          1. Noobtastic

            And homes! Homelessness can’t just be “bootstrapped” away. Do you know how hard it is to get a living-wage job, when you are living on the streets? No address to put on the CV, if you can write and print one, at all (assuming you have access to a library with computer/printer use). Likely not having access to bathing facilities, let alone having access to proper business attire and laundry facilities to clean and press the business attire.

            In other words, if you want a well-employed populace, ensure that everyone has at least basic housing and basic income. Because you can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you are so poor, you don’t own any boots!

    8. Linzava

      Hi OP 2,

      I agree, this supervisor is lacking humanity. Because you know this, I’d recommend keeping backup clothes in your car, just in case. I did this at a toxic job I had, kept spare clothes in my trunk. Might do that again now that I work 20 minutes away from home.

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

        This is good advice for anyone who works. If not in your car, then your locker or desk. You never know when an illness, puddle, or in my case cup of coffee is going to strike. You can count on it happening at the worst time!

      2. Not So NewReader

        I did this at a toxic job also. We have to do this stuff to survive. OP, I hope you can get out of this place asap.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood

      I’m suddenly giving the side-eye to all those lovely upholstered chairs they have in this office.

      1. TardyTardis

        Sadly, Stuff Happens (like the small child who was sick all over one at the tax place I worked at). Lysol is your friend.

  3. FTW

    OP5 – you are absolutely qualified to give an informational interview!

    Topics that are frequently asked where you have a great source of knowledge include:
    – what a typical day is like in your role/department
    – what it is like to work for your company
    – how you got your job
    – if the work is what you expected
    – what were the classes you took that were helpful to the role

    1. It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's SuperAnon

      Absolutely. I started giving informational interviews after a year in my role to interns hoping to transition to full-time employees. Not only did they ask about how interning was different from full time work and what the learning curve was like, but I was able to give them a pretty accurate timeline and “secret” information that managers sometimes forget to give new hires.

    2. LQ

      Strong agree that the OP sounds like they are in a great spot to do some informational interviews for people looking to get into similar work. You may be surprised at how much you know when someone asks you questions!

    3. Alldogsarepuppies

      I’m going to add what did you do in the summer to help make you competitive for roles in the industry.

    4. LibraryMan

      I’d definitely cover what you needed to know starting that *wasn’t* covered by your classes. I remember being plopped into my desk and then being asked to deal with major issues that hadn’t been covered in my classes at all.

      A heads up to newbies is a kind thing to do, at the very least … wouldn’t you have appreciated it?

    5. A-No

      It’s also a really really good place to tell people what you learned in your first year working on professional norms. I learned a lot of them the hard way (I was really lucky I had a mentor who was pretty forgiving about a lot of it and willing to explain to me more if I asked) but I would have loved to have someone tell me some tips and tricks to avoid those conversations. I work in the “Cowboy Construction” industry (read: Alberta Oil industry) and while it appears casual, it’s not actually that casual – an obnoxious amount of subtle politics. There are a lot of nuances I wish someone would have tipped me off about.

  4. TL -

    #1 – your manager is pretty awful. I would bring this up with another supervisor or honestly, HR if they’re available.

    Also, I’d suggest checking in with a doctor to make sure you don’t have a UTI. Losing control of your bladder as an adult usually means there’s something going on.

    1. MommaCat

      I’m guessing she lost control of her bladder because she was vomiting; that can entail some definite stomach contractions, and if your bladder is full at the same time, I can absolutely see losing control. That being said, I’d be sorely tempted to vomit on the supervisor’s desk, or sit at her chair, but I know I wouldn’t actually do it.

      1. A-No

        I would sit in her chair. Smugly with my wet pants. Because what that supervisor did was absolutely awful and deserved to get a pee chair if I had to have one too.

    2. Artemesia

      Not when you are throwing up. In fact most women with a very full bladder urinate when vomiting. Of course, just throwing up should be enough to allow an employee to go home.

      1. Noobtastic

        Yeah, I try to sit on the toilet with a bag or bowl, when I need to vomit. The contractions all along my entire core mean nothing is staying inside.

    3. beth

      I don’t think there’s any reason to assume that OP’s control of their bladder is unusual. There was something going on–they were vomiting. That involves a lot of muscles in the gut area contracting intensely and uncontrollably with very little warning, which could easily press on the bladder and cause an accident.

      1. Bostonian

        Not only that, but I’m guessing OP hadn’t gone to the bathroom in a while because the employer is the kind that strongly discourages bathroom breaks.

    4. restingbutchface

      You mean #2, right? Just noting the number in case OP searches for responses to her letter and misses this. Sometimes difficult to find responses if this turns into a 1000+ comment post.

    5. Amelia Pond

      Without going into too much detail, I want to say that I am absolutely positive it’s not abnormal to pee yourself when you’re throwing up, especially if your bladder is full, and the LW mentioned she hadn’t gone to the bathroom in a while. If you’re having other UTI symptoms, absolutely get it checked out (I know the horror of them particularly well) but if that’s the only symptom, along with knowing you had a full bladder, I wouldn’t worry too much.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          It’s usually called stress incontinence. It happens anytime there’s pressure on your bladder, which can happen from vomiting, coughing, sneezing, laughing, or heavy lifting. It’s also super common when women are pregnant or have had children (oh the pelvic floor).

          1. Jenn

            Oh gosh does pregnant weaken it. The worst part is that you can feel it when that control weakens. I am third trimester and I know my bladder control is weak now. I have been doing tons of pelvic floor exercises to try to combat it, but the combined effect of the pelvic separation, hormones, and the extra weight is just too much.

            But my boss would 1000% never make me stay if I peed myself. That honestly reminds me of stories people tell of abusive caretakers for small children. Plus it could trigger skin issues or a UTI to have to sit in soiled clothes. It’s pretty sick.

            1. jenkins

              Yup, my kids are 8 and 3 and although I have regained a lot of control, I still have to ‘brace’ before sneezing. When actually pregnant I have definitely peed on my own feet while throwing up in the sink, and I could see it happening still if I had a particularly full bladder. Super glam.

              I’m horrified that OP was made to stay in that state. I’d be horrified if they were made to stay just after vomiting, to be honest (and who wants to risk a vomiting bug getting around the workplace? I guess a manager who intends to issue buckets and make people keep working??). Forcing someone to stay and work in soiled clothes is inhumane.

            2. Amelia Pond

              I believe France actually pays for women to have pelvic floor physical therapy after they’ve given birth, because not getting those muscles in shape can have dire consequences for women with things such as vaginal and uterine prolapse (I googled to make sure those weren’t the same and found a list of just how many other types of prolapses you can have in that area and… it’s a bigger list than I thought). Doing preventative physical therapy will save not just money but a lot of pain  and suffering. The U.S is actually pretty horrific in how we treat mothers who have problems that stem from giving birth really badly. (Well, it’s been proven women in general aren’t treated well in the medical field. Heaven forbid you’re overweight on top of being a woman…) Most women don’t even know that you actually aren’t supposed to pee yourself for the rest of your life! And oh my god, what’s happening with transvaginal mesh makes me want to weep. So many women have had permanent damage done because of how unsafe that mesh is. Women are brushed off so often, especially when it comes to exclusively female issues and it has to stop. /rant over.

              1. Loose Seal

                My physical therapist and I were talking about this* and he said that obstetricians in the U.S. can write orders for physical therapy but most don’t. And most new mothers don’t think to ask for it. He said that in the 9 years since he’s been working as a physical therapist, he’s had only 3 post-natal clients and they all were in the U.S. on work visas or spouse visas from France.

                *My SI joint dislocates (probably not the correct term) and he compared it to what sometimes happens to women while pregnant when their ligaments start to loosen. It led to the conversation about pelvic floor issues and other post-natal PT problems.

          2. t.i.a.s.p.

            Yeah, me too. If I’m going to be sick, I pretty much have to sit on the toilet and puke into the garbage can.

              1. Amelia Pond

                I discovered the particular joy of all three at once when I ended up with c.diff from an antibiotic I was taking. (This is a bit of a tangent, but this is something I warn people about. I’m still so angry that I was never, ever told c.diff was a possibility with antibiotics, nor that it was so incredibly contagious. Because once you’ve had it you are much more susceptible to getting it again. My mom nearly died from events tied to that initial infection. I was hospitalized due to it and another health problem combined so ended up in the ICU. The nurses were using infection protocol but we thought it was just what the ICU did for normal safety reasons (maybe they do, I still don’t know) but never explained that to me. They let my mom the room, without infection protocol, without telling her it was contagious. The doctor hadn’t told us it was either. So, of course, my mom contracted it. Medication got rid of it but the next time she was on antibiotics, which was only a few months later. This times it would not go away. They tried multiple rounds of several different medications but none of it worked. This went on for a year, and it was so terrifying. She couldn’t eat (even if you don’t eat, you’ll still have, uh, stuff that the body expels), couldn’t leave the house, couldn’t really even more. She lost so much weight. Thank GOD she ended up getting referred to one of the doctors that developed fecal transplants, which were still experimental at the time (though on the verge of being an approved procedure). Despite being experimental her insurance actually was going to pay, because obviously all the treatments had been expensive and would continue to be, but the doctor actually did it for free. It worked, and it saved her life. But she never should have gotten it to begin with because of that hospital’s negligence.)

                1. Not So NewReader

                  Hospitals are supposed to keep track of their institutional illnesses. But they bury the numbers in all kinds of ways.
                  My aunt went in for a broken hip. She picked up c.diff and died. I still recoil thinking of this story. They had no rooms left, so they kept her in the hallway. What a way go to go, omg.
                  I am glad your mom came through, what an awesome doc.

            1. Amelia Pond

              Me too. But I would do that anyway because I don’t really want to put my face down close to the area where people poop.

          3. Michaela Westen

            For those who do have stress incontinence, there’s a simple surgery that helps. As I understand it, it involves installing mesh in the area to strengthen it.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              I think we should refrain from giving medical advice, especially when it’s not responsive to OP’s question. Although folks shouldn’t take their medical advice from strangers on the internet, getting into treatment options opens the door for derailing arguments over whether a suggestion is dangerous or appropriate.

            2. AnonNurse

              We don’t usually give medical advice in the comments here. That aside, characterizing any procedure as “a simple surgery” is very misleading. Surgeries carry risks and that particular surgery carries many. Even after surgery, vaginal/bladder mesh is becoming more controversial due to the reported complications and possible problems it has caused. It’s definitely not something I was just flippantly being up off the cuff.

            3. Michaela Westen

              I just wanted people to know it’s an option. My colleagues say it’s simple. Of course all surgery has risks.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                I don’t think it’s helpful to tell people it’s an option, or to characterize it as “simple.” What’s simple for a physician is not always simple for the patient. If folks need medical options or referrals, they should consult their treating physician.

                For context, the kind of mesh you’re describing has been banned in the UK and Australia, and it was recently reclassified as “high risk” by the FDA, all because of its complications. There are literally hundreds of lawsuits pending in the U.S., right now, for medical malpractice for failure to disclose the risks of the procedure.

            4. Amelia Pond

              That mesh is bad news! Very bad! It’s hurt and permanently damaged a lot of women, and I believe it’s banned in Australia. It’s not a simple surgery at all. Physical therapy for the pelvic floor is much more simple and should definitely be tried before any kind of surgery. Frankly, most women shouldn’t be at the point they need a surgery at all. Much of it can be avoided with physical therapy after having a baby. France actually pays for new moms to have it and they don’t have the same problems we do as a result.

            5. Marthooh

              The FDA classifies transvaginal mesh as a high-risk device, so maybe that’s not such a great idea.

          4. RUKiddingMe

            Interesting (to me anyway) that I just explained this to my husband last night. He doesn’t “get” why I “go” and then 5 or so minutes later have to “GO” again. I got to intersect female/older person/mother though, so that was cool. :-p

          5. Normally a Lurker

            Side note, not just women who have children.

            I have zero children (well, one, but she has fur and poops in a box).

            What I do have, however, is a life time of Irish and Scottish Dancing. Heavy on the jumping.

            Suffice to say, my bladder works about the same as a woman my age (40) who had a child.

            What’s worse for me is that it’s harder to talk about because there is no child involved.

            But yea, 1 of every 3 women have stress incontinence problems. It’s a real thing that we very much don’t talk about but should.

      1. The Other Dawn

        I agree, Amelia. Everyone is different, and I just happen to be someone who vomits pretty forcefully. Peeing happens to me almost every single time, even without a full bladder. And if I have the stomach bug? Really unpleasant.

        1. Amelia Pond

          Throwing up for me is so bad it feels violent, every muscle in body just contracts at once, ugh. I’m also not quiet when I throw up, I actually sound like I’m dying. My mom is even louder than I am, which is somehow both disturbing and impressive, because I’m loud enough as is! We both used to try and keep the volume down but it just isn’t physically possible. I have a bit of emetophobia (though it’s not anywhere as bad as it used to be) between what I’ve already said and the fact that if I start throwing up I can’t stop without IV anti-emetics, so it means a trip to the E.R when I start.

    6. Perse's Mom

      I mean… if I reeeeeeeeeeeally have to pee, I get nervous if I think I’m going to sneeze, nevermind the much greater full-body tension that goes with barfing.

    7. Mookie

      Given the draconian reaction, it’s possible this workplace is rigid about ‘bathroom breaks,’ as well, but, no, it’s not unusual to experience incontinence when you’re very ill, much less when experiencing violent abdominal spasms.

  5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#3, it sounds like you may be overly focused on the idea that you were lied to? They may have intentionally lied to you, but it’s also possible that needs changed and they didn’t communicate that well.

    Shifting into a mindset that assumes carelessness instead of malice may help you let go of your feeling of being deceived when you’re in interviews. This isn’t because your current employer deserves the benefit of the doubt—it’s more about helping you transition your tone and framing in your job interviews. Then Alison’s script, if delivered warmly and matter-of-factly, should work fine without triggering the yellow flags that a ginger tone could trigger.

    1. Trout 'Waver

      I disagree. OP#3 was lied to, and they shouldn’t be shy about saying so. Obviously they shouldn’t show any negative emotions during a job interview. But it’s perfectly fine to state it bluntly. I wouldn’t straight up say they lied in the interview. But, “They misrepresented a data entry job as a business analyst job, which I’m uninterested in.” is a perfectly valid reason to me that wouldn’t raise any red flags.

      As to whether they lied intentionally or not: Of course they lied intentionally. It’s curious how nobody ever takes a data entry job and winds up working as a business analyst.

      1. Washi

        I agree that it’s not likely that the mistake was unintentional, but I think what PCBH is saying is that the OP gains nothing by coming across as accusatory in the interview. Since it’s unusual to leave a job after only a few months, her interviewers will probably be listening to her answer very carefully and a bitter tone might raise suspicions that it’s not just about fit but about personality too.

        1. NotAnotherManager!

          I agree with this. I actually interviewed someone recently who is looking to leave her position after only a few months in, and both HR and I asked why (of course). The candidate’s answer was clear and direct while not disparaging the current employer and allayed concerns of job hopping immediately. It would not concern me at all if OP3 explained that the role turned out to be X instead of Y, and she is looking for a Y position.

          This is also why I try to expose what I consider to be the least appealing parts of the jobs for which I hire in interviews. It does no one any good for someone to join and then realize a few months in that the position isn’t what they wanted. I’d rather people know up front that there are less-than-glamorous parts of the job.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          Yes—this is exactly what I meant :)

          When you think someone’s lying, it has a tendency to creep into your tone. OP doesn’t want to come across as bitter or unhappy (even if they really do feel that way!) in their interviews. Sounding neutral or being a little emotionally detached will go over more smoothly than if there’s unintentional bitterness/blame seeping through.

      2. Psyche

        I would probably steer away from that wording because it does cast blame. Not that it isn’t deserved, but staying neutral in the interview is important. “I was hired as a business analyst but the job turned out to be mostly data entry” gets the point across without overtly casting blame. You don’t want to come across as angry and bitter, even when you have every right to be.

        1. fposte

          Right. This isn’t confronting the people who did you wrong, this is relating information about your search to total strangers. Bitterness certainly won’t help you in that situation, and it could hurt you.

        2. Trout 'Waver

          I’m not a huge fan of that wording because it sounds kinda like “If my job duties change, I’ll quit.” Putting blame where it rightfully lies is neither bitter nor angry if done in a matter-of-fact way. Especially if you generally give an upbeat and positive vibe during the whole interview.

          1. rogue axolotl

            On the other hand, if any of the employers she’s interviewing with are also planning to transition her job to mostly data entry, it doesn’t do her any favours to have them hire her anyway.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            I don’t think it sounds at all like “If my job duties change, I’ll quit.” A business analyst is sufficiently far away from a data entry person that most reasonable employers are going to understand that the job OP was hired to do ended up being fundamentally different from what they’re now doing.

            1. Chicken Parm

              LOL RIGHT?! Business Analyst roles are nothing like data entry roles. Would love to hear any input from recruiters out there who have seen this happen

              1. Detective Right-All-The-Time

                No, that’s fully reasonable. I have people tell me this as a reason for leaving a position after a short stint all the time, and I think most recruiters will understand that. Especially if the role we are looking to fill really does fall more in line with their career goals.

                This alone is not going to make me think that a candidate will be unwilling to take on extra or new duties as they come up, but it could contribute to it if there are OTHER answers that give off a tone of “I don’t like when things change” or “I was forced to do this thing I don’t like and therefore I’m going to leave”

      3. RUKiddingMe

        “As to whether they lied intentionally or not: Of course they lied intentionally. It’s curious how nobody ever takes a data entry job and winds up working as a business analyst.”

        Yup.

  6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#1, I’m with Alison—I would be mighty tempted to let this employee go. Perfectionism, put downs, and questioning your reasoning are not great traits for a successful employee (the last one can be appropriate and necessary, but not at the frequency and minute level that you’re describing).

    Probably the fair thing to do is put her on notice, first, but it sounds like she’s projecting her perfectionism onto others in unhelpful ways. In addition to Alison’s scripts, I think it may help to name what she’s doing as perfectionism and emphasize that she’s missing the forest for the leaves. If she’s really that focused on her superior performance relative to others, it would be helpful if she were actually performing at a high level.

    1. Teacake

      I wouldn’t call it perfectionism, actually. I would call it being nitpicking, disruptive and not a team player.

      1. SusieQ

        I know what you mean. She is a good team player in other ways, always willing to help out others or do extra hours if someone needs time off etc but then there is the other side of it all as well. My patience is wearing thin at this stage.

        1. LGC

          I didn’t know one of my employees worked for you in her spare time.

          But seriously, I’m also going to jump on the Serious Talk bandwagon. She might do a lot of work for you, but she’s also being toxic in the process. Also – is it just you that she’s sending her suggestions to, or is it other staff?

          Hopefully she can correct course – it seems like it’s worth a try (but I wouldn’t dump too much effort into it).

        2. RUKiddingMe

          “Just shut up and do your work.”

          Don’t say this of course…

          I wish I could help beyond saying lidten to Aluson, but I think she has it pretty spot on.

        3. Glitsy Gus

          I had a coworker that would do this kind of thing and a big part of it came from a place of feeling kind of unstable and outside the main team since she was “only” a part-timer and this led to her overcompensating by trying to look for solutions to every problem and being overly critical of other people to show how ‘valuable’ she really was.

          I have no idea if that is at play here, and even if it is it isn’t a good excuse. It may be a reason, though, so I figured I’d throw it out there in the off chance a little reassurance that she is just as valued as a full-timer might help the, “you need to stop talking and do your work” medicine go down a bit easier.

      2. Legal Beagle

        Agreed. It’s also important to look at how her behavior is impacting the other employees. It’s really demoralizing for high-performers to see a low-performer being tolerated (or coddled), especially if they know – which they probably do – that she has taken it upon herself to evaluate and criticize their work to their manager.

        1. MusicWithRocksInIt

          Yes – you should check with your other employees and make sure she isn’t badgering them about fixing their job processes or systems. If he work involves getting anything from coworkers or passing things off to them I would check in with them first on how that’s been going – make sure she isn’t making things difficult on them.

        2. Dust Bunny

          Yeah, this woman might be a perfectionist but mostly she sounds hugely spoiled. It’s way past time to tell her to mind her own business about other employees, and then buckle down and do her work. I’ve had plenty of perfectionist coworkers who don’t waste time.

        3. RUKiddingMe

          Yeah. Whenever I’ve had people evaluating their peers to me unasked, I told them “eyes on your own paper” (literally I say that).

      3. LQ

        Strongly agree. “Perfectionism” has gotten a bit of an (undeserved imo) good reputation and people sometimes use it to mean something that isn’t really perfectionism at all. There may be some analysis paralysis and some just hostile behavior to coworkers. Changing from thinking of it as “Oh she just wants thing to be perfect” into it’s component parts may help the OP have a different view on what is happening.

        1. NotAnotherManager!

          As someone who has struggled with perfectionism and works in an industry with unreasonable standard of perfection under tight deadlines, I totally agree with this. Perfectionism is MY issue to sort out – my boss is a great help with the analysis paralysis part, and actively looking/playing to my coworkers strengths has made me much happier at work. We’re working towards a common goal, and no one wants to work with an asshole. We’ve got enough to deal with on the deadlines without fighting each other.

          Also, though I doubt it makes anyone who’s been the victim of a perfectionist feel better, I am harder on myself than I ever could be of other people. My mom used to call me the self-punishing kid because nothing she could do would ever equal the internal beating I’d give myself.

      4. Dr. Pepper

        Me either. I’m a perfectionist, but it manifests more as a personal problem than outwardly being a nitpicky long winded complainy pants. For me, it’s more about how *I* evaluate my *own* performance. I could always do more, do better, be more thorough, learn more, be quicker, etc etc. There is no “good enough”. Even if I achieve “excellent” on performance evaluations, I’m still finding ways to make myself feel inadequate for not being “perfect”, even though “perfect” is a concept and does not exist in the real world. I might as well beat myself up for not being a unicorn. It’s something I recognize in myself, and I’m working on it. While it does make me rather intolerant of incompetence and laziness in others, I don’t spend long hours griping to my boss about it. I’m far more likely to just pick up the slack myself then yammer on about how much Jane sucks at this or Fergus is lazy about that.

        1. PM Punk

          The griping about others is what concerned me the most about this situation. Above all the other concerns that can really hurt morale if her coworkers were to hear or find out about this tendency, and if it’s allowed to continue it could make OP look like they’re giving tacit approval for this type of behavior.

      5. JB (not in Houston)

        Others-oriented perfectionism is a thing, though. Most people use to term to mean people who hold themselves to a perfect standard, but there are actually several types of perfectionism, including others-oriented perfectionism where you hold *others* to high standards.

        1. Observer

          This reminds me of something I heard a number of years ago. This was at a seminar on OCD and someone asked the difference between OCD and OCPD. He said “Someone with OCD is miserable. Someone with OCPD makes OTHER people miserable.”

          1. JB (not in Houston)

            I don’t want to derail by going into that further, but I think that person speaking at the seminar might be on to something!

        2. Michaela Westen

          “others-oriented perfectionism where you hold *others* to high standards.”
          This sounds like it could easily spiral into abuse – no one is ever good enough. My father did that.

        3. RUKiddingMe

          Essays…I have to read so many essays and research papers over the course of a year.

          So, so, so many are simply not at college level (even the most minimal “college level” level).

          Personally I’m a pretty great academic/formal writer. That’s not bragging. It’s an honest assement.

          That doesn’t help with my judgement about the quality of a given paper. I am not inclined to look the other way or give undue credit for crappy writing. I am a perfectionist in that particular area (unlike on the internet…).

          Those papers make it so much more difficult for me. Having a very clear rubric is a must. I can just grade based on requirements and not on my idea of how someone else’s writing (barring really egregious errors) needs to be.

          1. Not So NewReader

            This is a good point. In mass production work there is a tolerance range. If it measures between 1/4 and 6/16ths of an inch then it passes. If it is outside of this tolerance range then it fails.

            Production line work is a great example because it is so specific. But many other jobs do not lend themselves well to hard numbers or even any type of measurement.

            OP, there is a difference between getting the ideal done and getting the job done. Many workplaces do not strive for the ideal, their aim is to get the job done within given guidelines. If she is new to the workforce she may not realize this. If she previously worked in a very exacting field she may not realize other fields have more wiggle room.

            What’s missing here is your guidelines, your firm handed guidance saying “Here we do not worry about X, both X1 and X2 are acceptable here. My suggestion is that you pick which one you will standardize on and let that be your solution. On this point your consistency will prevent distraction (or what ever other advantage you can think of).”

            Explain to her that if everyone waited for the perfect or the ideal, then no work would ever get accomplished.

            I am not sure why you haven’t had a go-around with her by now. You are much more patient than I am. I would have said, “We are not going to discuss reinventing the wheel everyday. You are wasting valuable company time by turning everything into a debate and this has to stop today. All we really need to know is how the company expects us to handle things. We do not need to create an brand new ideal wheel every day. That is not what we are being paid for.”

            Another thing you can do is refuse to answer the same question twice. “You asked me last week about the choice between A and B. I answered you. Do you remember what we landed on with the A vs B question?”

            You can also tell her that you need her to work more independently. Long drawn out discussions about font size, break room cups, etc are not an appropriate use of her time. If you have further instances of the same behavior, then you can briefly recall these conversations. “We talked about new wheels, X1 vs X2 and this types of unproductive discussions. This is another example of an unproductive discussion. The company standard in this example is ABC, I want you to use that standard. I know it’s not ideal in the big picture but it is workable and it is what we are paid to do.” Shut the conversations right down.

        4. Mallory Janis Ian

          When you said others-oriented perfection, I thought it might be when people have an overblown perception of what others expect of them. I’ve gotten better about this with age and experience, but I used to make myself miserable with self-doubt over whether going by my own standards would be sufficient to meet others’ standards. I would bog myself down in unnecessary details because I thought something above and beyond my own standards might be expected.

    2. SusieQ

      Yes I agree, I have been thinking that she just might not be the right person for the job but I want to try and give her the chance to improve or possibly change some of her tasks if I can before I make that decision. I previously gave her accounts work to do when someone was away and it was accurate, completed quickly and there was no questions etc

      1. Phoenix Programmer

        My guess is that she want FT work and is trying to show you why she would be better. Especially if she is young it’s easy to miss the mark on both the volume and consistency of questions as well as handling other people’s mistakes.

        Not sure if you have, but from the letter it doesn’t sound like you have been Frank about any of these mistakes with her and then are surprised it is continuing.

        Tellherwhats wrong once. If it happens again tell her again. If it continues address the pattern and stress this can firing.

        I believe everyone deserves at least the above before firing is on the table. Except egregious stuff like racism.

      2. Smarty Boots

        Whatever else you do, I think you need to clamp down hard on the put downs of the other staff members. That has really got to stop asap. AAM’s script for a first remark is fine, but I would not go as soft on the second instance as AAM suggests: Name, I’ve told you not to criticize your colleagues like that. You are not their supervisor and your tone is unacceptable. [or something akin to that].
        It has to stop — your other employees pretty likely know it’s going on, and your taking a strong stand on it will let them know that you support them.
        I’ve been this employee’s coworker — the manager was conflict-averse and did not stop it. It was terrible for morale; people felt angry and unsupported. Even after we got a new manager and she got the criticizing employee under control, it took a really long time for people to trust management.

        1. RUKiddingMe

          Agreed. In the absense if anything super critical/damaging/embezzlement/sexual harassment/etc. I don’t want a tattle tale. Especially if it gives me the vibe that they are doing it in order to shine a light on how “totally awesome” they themselves are.

      3. Psyche

        It is possible that she is trying too hard to prove herself, especially if she is young. If that is the problem, then pointing out how disruptive it is should make it stop. If it is more of a personality issue or that she doesn’t know how to do the job, then it won’t. In this case, being blunt is probably the kindest thing you can do or she won’t even know she is messing up.

        1. Salamander

          It does sound as if she’s pretty inexperienced in the work world. It seems as if she’s bringing a lot of behaviors that might have been positively reinforced in a classroom setting (the constant question-asking, the tattling on others, the “lookit my new idea, aren’t I smart” proposals) to a work setting where it is not appropriate. I think it’s worth it to have a direct conversation about how to stay in her own lane and focus on her own work. If she’s fresh out of school, it would be worth it to explain – once – that the work world is different from academia. And perhaps also take this time to talk about her workload. If she has enough free time to be nibbing into other issues, then perhaps she needs some more tasks. That’s a double-edged sword, though – only give her things you can trust her with at this point.

          But frankly…this sounds exhausting. I would give her one good-faith chance to course correct and clearly explain that her job is on the line before letting her go. She might truly believe that she’s impressing you – but you are not her teacher. You are her boss.

          1. Observer

            Most of my teachers actually did NOT reward tattling. Post High School, I took a fair amount of teacher training, and all of the (good) classes on discipline and classroom management came down against rewarding this behavior.

            This actually comes up a lot – teachers who go so far in not rewarding “tattling” that they won’t allow kids to bring things they SHOULD be bringing to staff (eg dangerous behavior or actually bullying, etc.)

        2. Squeeble

          I think this may be right. She’s young and part-time, and is trying to prove her value. She needs to be told explicitly to dial it way back.

          1. Jennifer Juniper

            Ugh. That employee sounds like she’s coming off as insubordinate at best and actively unlikeable at worst. Either one would get her terminated at many companies.

      4. Sara without an H

        I think I agree with Phoenix Programmer — she’s trying to impress you with her diligence so that you’ll take her on full time. Obviously, don’t do that.

        It sounds as though she does good work, but she’s eating too much of your time, particularly for a part-time employee. You need to have a very explicit conversation with her in which you describe the pattern you’ve observed, and make it clear that it needs to stop if she wants to continue to work for you.

        I like Alison’s idea of having a regular 1:1 meeting with her, but be sure you control the time — make her submit an agenda in advance, and ruthlessly cut short any attempts to wander from it or to use the time to trash her co-workers.

        And as to that, I would just shut it down. “You are not the supervisor, and you are not tasked with monitoring your co-workers. Concentrate on your own work.”

        Short version: A part-time employee shouldn’t be eating up this much of your time and management focus. Give her very clear expectations for her behavior, ration the amount of time you invest in her, and then decide if she’s worth retaining.

        1. SusieQ

          Thanks for all the good advice, it has been really helpful. I have since had a discussion with her and among other things I discussed her bringing up other peoples mistakes and errors. I gave her examples ie. you deal with 10 of these quires a week, other staff deal with over 200, so understandably there would be more errors etc and even though your part time at this point you should be dealing with alot more quires yourself than you are but I could see at times you where already struggling dealing with the 10 I had given you, we will need to increase that going forward, it’s very easy to keep a tidy corner but a lot harder to keep the whole house clean etc. Overall she seemed quite shocked at how little she was doing and my version of how it was progressing, she said that she really was just trying to help as she could see everyone was under pressure. I think she thought she was coming in and saving the day for us all but it was having the total opposite effect. I said if you really want to help, fix the small errors you come across and inform someone politely if they are regularly repeated (that is standard protocol in our office) concentrate on your own work load only which will be increasing over the next few months and keep suggestions for team meetings only as we do not have time during the day to discuss. I did give her positive feedback on things she was doing well and I thought overall it was positive, although she was slightly paler leaving the room.

          1. Glitsy Gus

            I think that was good. Sometimes you need to be checked, especially, as you told her, she isn’t there all the time and so doesn’t have a full picture of the situation. You gave her the lay of the land: you are here, which is fine, but ultimately, I need you at this level. We all appreciate good ideas and suggestions, so don’t stop thinking about or sharing possible improvements, but there is a time and a place. I think that’s the best you can try for- tell her clearly what you need without crushing her spirit completely. Now it’s up to her.

      5. ThankYouRoman

        She sounds like she needs a come to Jesus moment. It’s always worth the shot, just to save yourself some guilt in the end, to give an employee who’s personality quirks are the only issue, the choice of “fix it or you’ll be removed.” She may at least be able to stop a good portion of the bad behavior.

      6. Not So NewReader

        Please tell her this. Be sure to use the example of when she was working the way you expect her to work. It might be interesting to ask her why she did not ask a slew of questions then.

    3. Lexi Kate

      I would think about letting her go if she is telling you little things other employees are messing up on, because she is driving everyone nuts. Also wanting to change things all the time is good in some aspects but with her being a part time employee in a busy office it’s not helpful since she likely doesn’t know the full process and how it affects everyone end to end, then having to explain away each instance that may have already been tried. Maybe on this front you can let her know that you will look at and pass on any new ideas she has but for how busy you are you are just going to let her know the ones that work for the team. I agree with Alison’s advice I schedule a 30 minute meeting bi-weekly for everyone on my team, I would encourage you to have a agenda for the meeting to get in what you need to discuss first then to leave time to talk about what she wants to discuss.

    4. thankful for AAM

      Re #1, In some ways I can see myself in the critical employee (who is critical of both work processes and people).
      What helped me, was to realize that there is an organizational culture at work and my behavior was not fitting in. It sounds silly to say I did not realize there was an org culture that I was pushing against but I assumed that we were all working to make everything better, that is my default org culture. That means, to me, that there is no such thing as putting down others, only that there is a thing that could be improved. I was horrified when I realized I sounded like I was putting down others or that my multiple suggestions were stressing others.

      There is a new part time employee in my dept and he is very much like me in his approach to work (let’s make it better!!). I held back at first (i dont manage him and I know my approach can lead me to butt in) but eventually I just said, hey, there is an org culture here, I think that means do x when you want y to change but I might not be reading the culture correctly. You will have to read the work culture and form your own take on it and how you want to operate in it. Later he thanked me because he said he did not look at things that way (he meant he did not “see” there was a culture) and it had helped him navigate some things at work.

      If I am like the employee in #1, this is what would have helped me, hearing, #1. I trust you to do x and y on your own, here is when and how we will check in with each other, #2. Part of the expectation of employees is they observe the org culture and note how they can best operate in it, and #3. Here is how to make suggestions, like at the meetings AAM suggested, and I would expect no more than about x number a month (Alison gave a number for this once, it was much lower than my comfort level!) so if you have more than that, please prioritize them so you only submit your top suggestions.

      And it is possible to be a pain in the a$$ and contribute a lot. I have done both. And the new part time guy gets the most positive reviews from customers (awesome!) And he also kept hanging around and working after he punched out (he wants to contribute!) Thus leaving us open to violations and fines for not paying him for his work.

      I think I also have issues that might put me on the aspergers spectrum or something like that. We all realize now that our dad and my brothers and one nephew have some issues along those lines. Growing up, I was the clever one at explaining the social world to everyone in the family. But maybe I am just skilled by comparison. Like the one sighted person in a land of the blind. I only have 25% vision in one eye but we think I see everything!

      1. Dust Bunny

        This overlaps with choosing suggestions judiciously and realizing that the obstacle might be something other than “org culture”, such as funding, government regulations, safety rules, etc. Employees who spout suggestions for improvement all the time without first finding out why those things haven’t already happened are a special kind of nerve-grating.

        My coworkers collectively are bursting with ideas that my organization would looooove to implement, but we’re a nonprofit struggling with public image and funding after a stint with a bad executive director, and there simply is no way to make them happen right now.

    5. Katie McG

      I think it can be helpful to give feedback that is specific such as “you have more meeting agenda items that all other staff combined and you only work here part time. This is a problem.” I had a situation where one employee was doing something that wasn’t inherently wrong (like making agenda suggestions) but she was doing it at a rate double everyone else. When I let her know that she was genuinely surprised. After I gave her that feedback, with some specifics about what was and was not an appropriate “agenda item” she cut down significantly. Sometimes behavior that is obvious to everyone else is not obvious to the person doing it.

  7. StatGeek

    OP #2 if you work with anything related to food or even other people it’s likely an occupational health and safety violation since it’s known. And possibly contagious.

    1. Artemesia

      It is the norm in food services to force people to work while violently ill and even if they are not forced to keep working, they rarely have sick leave and so lose pay if they go home. Probably a fairly common vector for 24 hour type flu viruses.

      1. CastIrony

        It shouldn’t be, though. I’ve seen a cook work through vomiting; there was nothing I could do, much less say, “Hey! You need to go home! We’ll manage somehow!”

        1. Amelia Pond

          She isn’t saying it should be normal, just that it is. But sometimes people are forced to chose between going home sick or losing their job and many people can absolutely not afford to get fired.

      2. Foreign Octopus

        Unfortunately this is true.

        McDonald’s has a policy that if you call in sick you have to be off for 48 hours afterwards in case of infection but I worked there for four years and I never saw a single manager implement that. It’s expected that you work through it.

        1. Someone Else

          Well the other problem with that policy from the employee’s standpoint is they may feel terrible day 1 and need to be out (and can afford to be out) but if they don’t have two paid sick days, they might not be able to afford that second day off (by which point they may have felt OK). From a contagion perspective, I respect the buffer, but from an empathy perspective, I understand how the effect of that policy is that people work while sick. Regardless of whether managers encourage people to power through, the policy itself is a deterrent to taking sick time.

          1. Noobtastic

            And what if you called in sick for something that is known to be definitely *not* contagious? Such as an injury (calling in sick while you’re getting to the hospital to get it treated) or migraines, or that awful first day of your cycle, or you fell asleep on the pool-side chaise, and now you can’t get dressed without screaming in pain, and there isn’t enough Noxema in the world!

            I like the rule for anything contagious, but I prefer to allow people to take as much paid sick time as they need, and trust that most of them will be reasonable adults and not abuse it.

      3. UghThatGuyAgain

        Yep. When I was the only waitress in a small restaurant my manager once made me up a little bed in the waitress station (!?!?!?!) and told me to sleep off my 103 degree fever during the slack time between lunch and dinner rush. She thought she was being extremely generous.

        1. Noobtastic

          Oh, no! That kind of fever almost always means some sort of infection/contagion, and you’re serving food to innocent paying customers?!

          The manager should have sent you home, and taken over service, herself. Or called to see if an off-shift server could come in. Or, for the sake of not spreading disease to all the customers, closed for the day.

          I’ve actually seen restaurants close due to illness. I know, the profit margins of restaurants are ridiculously low, but it’s a whole lot cheaper than being sued right out of business, if they can track an epidemic back to your business. Some restaurant owners save up just for such emergencies, considering it a cost of doing business. They are, however, very rare.

          And now, at this moment, I never want to eat out, again. I probably will, eventually, but yeah.

    2. CastIrony

      I second this! I work in food service and have recently renewed my ServSafe Food Handler certificate (sorry for bragging), and these are the four reasons a worker should be sent home when sick: diarrhea, vomiting , sore throat with a fever, and jaundice (It’s yellowing of the skin, which is connected to the liver, I think.)

      I also feel for OP#2! That’s the worst thing ever!
      Imagine my horror when a toxic boss I had (he wasn’t certified) didn’t let me go home when I had gone to the restroom 4-5 times over diarrhea (I just said I wasn’t feeling well) because I had eaten food that he prepared for me with his fingers that he licked/sucked the day before!

      1. Jenn

        When I was a teenager in food service, my manager once screamed at me for.bit getting orders done while I was throwing up in the bathroom. Of course, she was equally capable of making the food, but of course right then she had to do “paperwork”. She was just the worst. Being a student I was in a financial place to quit a week later, but a lot of people wouldn’t be in that position. Minimum wage food service was by far the worst working experience I ever had.

        1. Noobtastic

          They say everyone should work retail and food service. I agree.

          I also freely admit that I only lasted one week in food service.

      2. Slartibartfast

        Yes yellow skin/jaundice is related to the liver, and could potentially be hepatitis. Some forms of hepatitis can be transmitted through handling food. (I think hepatitis A). There’s lots of other liver diseases that can cause jaundice, but contagious hepatitis is the big public health concern.
        As a consumer, I hope your place of work posts your certificate. You’d get my repeat business.

        1. JustaTech

          Yes, it’s Hep A. I think now doctors recommend the Hep A vaccination series for people who work with food (or blood), but it’s a 3-shot series and you usually have to ask for it (and then there’s the issue of insurance coverage), so I doubt most people working in food service get it.

        2. Noobtastic

          A relative of mine caught hepatitis from food service. Never really got over it. I think for most people, they can get treatment and it goes away, but for this relative, it just kept coming back, bouts of jaundice and pain, for years and years.

          It is not something to just shrug off and work through.

      3. Anon this time

        Getting the ServeSafe Cert is hard….good for you! Hubs is an instructor. He says it is not easy to pass.

  8. Susan

    You don’t ask your supervisor to go home when you’re sick like that. You inform your supervisor “I’m extremely physically I’ll and I will be taking sick time for the rest of the day. I’ll keep you posted on whether I’m well enough to show up for my next shift.” Appropriate supervisor response: “don’t forget to log your sick time in the t&e system. Feel better!’

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Agreed with valentine—this is a great approach in theory. But unfortunately there are many employers who will force you to get their approval to leave, and it’s legal to fire you (because at-will employment) if you leave after they’ve denied your request to leave (assuming no FMLA/ADA issues).

    2. This Daydreamer

      Unfortunately that just isn’t true in many jobs, especially retail and food service jobs. The store where I used to work was considered to be one of the better retail employers out there, but I would have gotten fired if I left without permission. There were many times when I had to work sick because the manager on duty wouldn’t let me leave early.

    3. Amelia Pond

      That would be nice but could very well get someone fired. Most people can’t afford to suddenly lose their jobs. This was obviously not an appropriate response by the supervisor so I don’t see how your comment is helpful.

    4. anon for this

      THIS. Not sitting in my pee for anybody. If I was fired, let them explain why. Ridiculous. I wish OP had done this and I hope they do this if it happens again. It is terrible that employee abuse is not only legal but tolerated.

      1. Observer

        If you are fortunate enough to be able to afford to lose your job suddenly, good for you. You are fortunate. Other people are not so fortunate, so telling them that *you* wish that THEY had done something that risky is beyond unhelpful. It’s really unfair.

    5. NotAnotherManager!

      That’s not a privilege many people have in their jobs. My mother works in a call center and has been written up for leaving work when violently ill. Same for calling out or arriving late. If she is written up X number of times, she will be fired. She needs the job to pay her mortgage, so she stays at work when she should really be at home.

      It breaks my heart. She’s in her 70s and has a couple of chronic health conditions that are manageable, but, when they spin out, make her immediately and very sick. The “strikes” on her record have also held her back from more back-office promotions that would provide more flexibility with her health, even though her quality reviews are excellent.

        1. NotAnotherManager!

          Thank you. My mom is the poster child for worker protections – she has a college degree, was a small-business owner for 20 years, worked with exceptional reviews for the same organization for 15 years before her job was outsourced and she was laid off at 60, and it took her a year to find a contract position and other for one with benefits. I help where I can but have a family of my own and children with health issues of their own. I anxiously await the day her mortgage is paid off, because she can live on her retirement and social security without the house payment. I just hope she lives that long. :(

          1. L

            Ugh! I wish there was a way to help. Stories like this break my heart. No one should have to suffer that way. What state is she in? Perhaps she could file for some tax relief in her county?

            1. Labradoodle Daddy

              Hopefully we as a country eventually move away from tying health care to employment. That’d be a hell of a start :/

              1. Noobtastic

                No kidding! The people who are most in need of health care are also the ones who have the most difficulty finding and keeping work, because they have health issues that prevent them from working in a lot of jobs (like, can’t even take that job, sorry), or from working full time, or require flexibility in their hours that their job won’t allow. It’s easy to say, “Get a different job,” but if you’ve trained all your life for THIS job, it is very hard to get a job in a completely different field, starting from scratch. Hard to get hired. Hard to make ends meet on the entry-level pay. And it’s so easy to get fired for being sick.

                I had a co-worker who, on her first day back at work after having a life-saving operation (for a chronic condition), was greeted with an official letter, saying that if she missed one more day of work that year, regardless of the reason, she would be fired. Oh, and by the way, welcome back, and we’re so glad you didn’t die! And no, we won’t approve cross-training for your duties. If you’re out sick, no one can cover for you, and we have no intention of changing that, because, you know, you didn’t die, so we don’t need to.

                So, no matter what the flare-up was like, she didn’t dare call in sick, but just came to work, feeling awful and stupid, and making simple mistakes that were not-so-simple to fix, later, because she could not afford to lose her health insurance. In doing so, she cost the company lots of money in fixing those simple mistakes that she would not have made had she been allowed to stay home and take care of herself, and come back to work feeling well, and able to catch up.

            2. NotAnotherManager!

              Virginia, which as some of the least generous social support programs in the country. She had to apply for unemployment during the year she was job searching, and she said everyone she had to work with at the unemployment office treated her like she was a lazy mooch, even though she was doing everything required and filling out way more applications than required – all for a a pittance check. It also took months to be approved/backpaid.

              This was also before the ACA was passed and certainly before Virginia passed medicaid expansion earlier this years, so, despite being 60 and having two chronic health conditions, she was too young to for Medicare, not sick enough to qualify for disability, and unable to afford the monthly healthcare premiums that were more than her mortgage payment. She literally survived for a year off of samples her doctor gave her, pharmaceutical hardship programs, and money from her kids.

              She also, unfortunately, did not qualify for tax relief in her county. I think they told her that it was her retirement savings (which she couldn’t touch at that age without a steep penalty) that disqualified her.

              1. Noobtastic

                And if you qualify for Social Security Disability, they still make you survive off “something else” for about five months, before they will actually pay you. Because… I have no idea. I think they’re hoping you’ll just die of starvation, or whatever your disability actually is, before they have to pay you.

      1. Database Developer Dude

        NotAnotherManager! Where does your mother live/work? If it’s in the metro DC area, I would gladly refer her to my company. We don’t do that sort of crap here…..

      2. MrsCHX

        HR Mgr here.

        PLEASE tell your mom to get a request for accommodation from her physician. If she’s been there long enough and they are large enough to participate, intermittent FMLA will offer job protection. If they do not provide FMLA or she hasn’t been there 12 mo/1250 hours, she likely qualifies under the ADA (employers only need to have 15 employees vs FMLAs 50).

    6. That Would be a Good Band Name

      I agree with others that there are a lot of jobs that don’t work like this. I’ve worked in retail where only one person was at the store at a time (gas station). You couldn’t just leave without getting someone else there. However, I would change my approach and instead of asking if I could leave try stating that I need to leave. And for a manager like this, I’d play up the throwing up aspect. “I really need to leave. I’ve already thrown up a lot and I’m just going to have to keep running to the restroom to be sick”. It’s still not a declaration of “I’m leaving no matter what”, but it changes the dynamics just enough that for most managers they will realize they are being an @ss if they tell you to stay at that point. If they do still say you have to stay at that point (and I’ve worked for managers that would) then job searching is about the only next step you have unfortunately.

      1. LGC

        Basically, yeah.

        I think Susan just assumed that LW2 was in a professional position, which…yeah, it would be acceptable in a lot of knowledge-based jobs that don’t require physical coverage. But for a receptionist, for example (which I hope LW2 isn’t for multiple reasons), they might need someone at the front desk. Even in my line of work, I’d be slightly thrown off by someone demanding to leave. (Usually, it’s phrased as a question, but it’s also usually a formality – if someone says, “I’m sick, can I leave?” the answer is almost always going to be “Yes, of course, feel better.” It’s weird, I admit.)

        Even outside of that, the supervisor’s heartless response indicates that she views her team as disposable (because it’s degrading to make someone spend the rest of their day in wet pants). It might be easier for you to put your job at risk, but considering that LW2 came in on a day she was vomiting suggests that she might not be in that position to begin with.

    7. Not So NewReader

      In many retail or food service positions, telling the boss that you are going home would get you fired. You ask, you don’t tell them. It’s considered super, super rude. It’s up there with the f-bomb.
      We have to trust that people know their work environment and are behaving accordingly.

  9. Wes

    For OP 1

    As a professional who works part time, I tend to be a bit insecure about it. Not really sure if I’m a real, contributing member of the team.

    So I don’t think going for the “you’re barely here! work!!!” angle. Instead, I’d go for the, “You are a very valued member of the team. I want you to start working with more autonomy though. I also want you to be more focused while you are here” and then continue with the rest of Alison’s advice.

    That might work better if she feels similarly to me at all.

    1. Wes

      I somehow skimmed the part about her putting others down. That’s not cool at all. But again, could it be due to insecurity about being part time? Not saying it’s right though. At all.

    2. Well Red

      With all due respect, I think you are projecting your own issues onto this. There’s absolutely nothing in the letter that indicates such an insecurity, and there are plenty of other reasons someone could be behaving like this. I’m sorry you feel so insecure and I hope you are able to overcome that, but I don’t see that it’s relevant here.

    3. Dole whip

      I disagree if she is always putting down other employees, spending her time coming up with “better ways to do things”, and questioning everything as a part time employee then she is not a “Valued member of the team” and it would be a terrible idea to let her think she was especially if she is going to be fired soon. Which if she was my employee would be my next steps. As a part time employee I am looking for people to work to make my full-time employee workload easier, when they start causing problems its a bigger offense than a full time worker.

      I’m not sure what is causing your insecurities, but if you are the same as this Part timer and spending your time at work looking for multiple ways to improve the process, asking questions all the time, and complaining about anything then you may want to read through these comments to see how you are coming across. If your not then suck it up, if no one is complaining or sending your work back then you are fine, as a part time employee your not going to get as much time with the boss or as many accolades about your work. Reasonably once a month you can ask for 15-30 minutes to chat with your boss to see if there is anything else you should be doing or if there is something they think you can do better on, this will free them up to say no you are doing great or hey we were hoping you could do this.

    4. Colette

      This part-time employee may feel insecure about whether she’s a contributing member of the team – but the way to solve that is to encourage her to become a contributing member of the team. She’s there to make the team more productive, and what she’s doing (putting people down, having long conversations that aren’t necessary) is doing the opposite.

    5. Dr. Pepper

      This is possible. It can be hard to be the only part time person in an office of full time employees. You’re just not there for a lot of what happens and it’s easy to feel left out. Perhaps Jane feels that her lengthy conversations with the OP are somehow establishing her place in the group. In a “all this face time with the boss makes me feel like I’m really *here*” type of way. However, she is still behaving inappropriately and not actually getting her work done, and that is the root issue. Consider that this may be where she’s coming from, but don’t soften the message of “you really need to do your work and quit the long winded check-ins and complaints over everything”.

      1. Wes

        Yeah, I completely agree and perhaps I didn’t express myself well.

        Her behavior is completely inappropriate, but I just think saying “you’re only here a few afternoons so please spend that time working” is a bit of a low blow. She knows how often she is there. Why even bring that up? There has to be a better way to phrase that which doesn’t emphasize the fact that she’s part time. Because that’s not really the problem anyway.

  10. Rose Burkhardt

    I feel terrible for the poster who was sick and had to stay at work soiled. My employer has done that, and that’s their policy – “no-fault” attendance, meaning you can go for any or no reason, except they document your reasons and don’t care what they are. My work locker and car now have extra clothes, baby wipes, mouthwash, and toothpaste; and a veritable pharmacy of anti nausea, anti diarrhea, indigestion, cold & flu and allergy items. I work in manufacturing and once split the crotch of my jeans in the course of the day. Had to duct tape and carry on because I’d have gotten an attendance occurrence. It hurts to have to plan ahead this way rather than have the dignity to leave and return.

      1. Rebecca

        Except for hospital staff, if you split the crotch of your pants, you could at least grab a pair of scrubs pants and not have to use duct tape.

      2. RVA Cat

        That’s got to be a vector for hospital infections. “Let’s force people to work sick around our sickest people! What could go wrong?”

      3. MatKnifeNinja

        I had all that in my hospital locker.

        Get sick on yourself
        Go to employee health.
        Cleared go back to work.
        Change into scrubs and go back to work.

        It was really really hard to go home. Fever and diarrhea were usually the only things green lighted for home. Barfs? Just once? You probably wouldn’t get cleared to go home.

        1. Sara M

          My standards are skewed because I have IBS. When you guys say diarrhea might be excused… What level are we talking about? At what point do you (personally) go home for diarrhea instead of toughing it out?

          1. Kyrielle

            Yeah, IBS necessarily skews this (I have it too). If I didn’t have it, I think I’d use the school version – three or more loose stools or one watery.

            With IBS, I don’t go home for diarrhea unless I have an additional non-IBS symptom or it’s so bad I can’t work, and doesn’t get better with my usual methods and medicines.

          2. Anon now

            Well, I don’t go home when it gets bad because my commute is too long to make it home. But if I can’t feel secure I can make it into work, I stay home. It caused a lot of problems until my doctor found a medication that helped.

            1. Anon now

              My rule of thumb was if I couldn’t make it half an hour before dashing for the bathroom, I would not be able to make it into work (or make it home).

    1. Dr. Pepper

      I’ve had jobs like that. I essentially had an overnight bag and small working pharmacy with me at all times because there was no leaving. “Be prepared” isn’t just for Boy Scouts.

    2. Temperance

      That really sucks. I hate policies that treat adults like toddlers. I’ve had accidents like the LW, and it’s just humiliating. Having to stay in the office makes it so much worse.

      I currently have the kind of job where I can work from home for a few hours, like I am now, and then spend a few in the office. I am very fortunate.

    3. Close Bracket

      I am sorry you have to do this. I have worked in manufacturing as an engineer. The way they treat the people in the fab is terrible.

    4. Noobtastic

      They document the reasons, but they don’t care what they are? Why document the reasons, then? Why not just document the attendance, without recording the reasons?

      If they’re not going to count the reasons, anyway, and they’re going to treat “I forgot to set my alarm” the same way they treat “I nearly died in a car accident on the way to work this morning, and the doctors at the hospital won’t let me leave until they finish treating me, and so I can’t come in until tomorrow, at the earliest,” then why do they even bother to find out the reason?

      You know, I went to a junior high school like that. We always had to give a note explaining our absence, but every absence was noted as “unexcused.” Every single one. Sometimes, if you had a real doozy of a note (see car crash above), then you’d get “approved unexcused,” but there was simply no such thing as “excused.” They didn’t believe that there was any excuse, ever, for a child not to have their butt in their desk at school, every day of the year. “Oh, you have a highly contagious disease that has been known to permanently disable and/or kill high percentages of humans in this age group? Well, we’ll call that absence approved unexcused. And your doctor says you’re to stay home until next Thursday? See you on Tuesday, then!”

      I think they cranked out some employers that make the pages of AAM. Thank God I moved away.

  11. restingbutchface

    #2. OP, I am so sorry. I am horrified and so sad for you; what a terrible and humiliating thing to do to another human being. I think this is unforgivable behaviour from your supervisor – please don’t let any embarrassment prevent you from following Allison’s advice. If your company doesn’t come down on your side, hard and immediately, this is a sign you are working for terrible people.

    1. Jennifer Thneed

      Thank you! That’s just what I was coming here to say.

      In five years, technology will have changed so much there’s not much point to you keeping contacts with current sales people. (In fact, odds are very low they will still have those jobs 5 years later. Salespeople move around.) As for recruiters, I have a handful who have made a career of it and who I keep in touch with, but from how most recruiters act, it’s an easy sales job to get and there’s a ton of turnover. And again, recruiting is a sales job, and salespeople move around.

      1. OP 4

        Thanks to you both – I figured I was overthinking it, but didn’t want my annoyance to color my response. I just get so much darned junk!

  12. Akcipitrokulo

    OP4… remembet you can block *and unblock* people – so you can block at the moment (they will never know the difference between blocked and just no response) and then unblock when you are interested in their contacting you in the future.

    You get to control this :)

    1. MusicWithRocksInIt

      Create a folder with all the contacts that seem interesting for use in the future – make sure you have their contact info and what makes them appealing, and then set it up so their emails go strait to junk mail. If you get promoted in a way you want to work with them you can go back to that folder (or spreadsheet or word doc, however it is you roll) and get their contact info to reach out to them. As long as you have their details there is no reason to keep looking at their emails.

      1. OP 4

        Excellent idea, thanks! I’m definitely the type more likely to reach out if I have a need to fill, but having a back pocket full of contacts isn’t the worst place to be in.

    2. JustaTech

      Would you even have the same sales people to contact in 5 years? My experience has been that sales forces have a higher rate of turnover than other positions, so even if you did manage to mortally offend a sales person by not responding to their email, the chances of that sales person still being there and remembering you are pretty slim.

  13. Flash Bristow

    OP2 that is just disgraceful. The way you describe “finding a supervisor” and their emphasis on staying to work in a “you’ll get over it” way reminds me of working hourly in a call centre. Ugh, it was just a factory to all intents and purposes.

    I think it’s irrelevant whether your clothes were dark enough not to show – what about potential damage to the chair? What about getting sores from sitting in urine-soaked clothing? Surely if the company is more worried about money and having bums on seats (literally) than your dignity, they will be worried about these liabilities once they are pointed out?

    When this has happened to me (vomiting) I’ve told the nearest supervisor that I’m going, as well as the nearest coworker on my team, and taken myself home immediately. When I’ve soiled myself but been well enough to continue work, I’ve let the nearest coworker know “I need to pop out for a few minutes – it’s urgent and cannot wait”. If anyone noticed me return in a pair of cheap tracksuit trousers, a different colour to my usual attire, they were polite enough not to comment.

    Honestly I think those kind of actions would be difficult to challenge – you’re doing the quickest and minimum thing in order to fix the issue and return to being productive. I’m so sorry that you work for a company where it wasn’t possible and I agree with Alison – raise it with HR, not in a “telling on the supervisor” way, but in an enquiring manner to find out what to do if it happens again. I really hope there’s at least one decent human being in HR, and even if there isn’t they will probably be concerned if potential liabilities are brought up with them.

    Good luck. I know from experience that it’s a really horrible situation to be in.

    1. Birch

      I have also been there. I think it’s really tough sometimes for people to judge what’s appropriate supervisor response and when they really need to stand up for themselves, especially when they don’t feel like they have a lot of power or don’t have a ton of experience in non-toxic work environments or need cover–then the question becomes, what’s more important: inconveniencing someone else or your health and wellbeing? There’s a pressure to push through whatever it is, and usually people are able to do that, but at what cost? It really sucks that the employees have to judge what is reasonable supervisor behavior when we all know the reasonable human thing to do is to go home when you’re sick.

      1. Anon Anon Anon

        Unfortunately, people do get fired over those kinds of things, and it’s usually people who don’t have a lot of options job-wise. Which I say in agreement with the comments above. Just adding to it. I’ve had some jobs like that. The slightest misstep and you were out the door. Because there were more workers than jobs and they could quickly replace you.

        I like it that Allison includes letters from all kinds of workers. It’s good for us all to be aware of the variety of working conditions out there.

  14. WannaAlp

    OP#1, I would use her perfectionism to help solve this.

    Use her desire to get things right to fix the “people errors” she’s making. She needs to cope with the idea that people are human and make mistakes sometimes and putting down other people about mistakes does not contribute to a positive atmosphere (doesn’t magically fix the mistakes either). She needs to explicitly know that she should be optimising the time she spends, and her over-focus on details is wasting time.

  15. Rebecca

    #2 – I am so sorry this happened to you! Honestly, I’d start job searching. Your supervisor’s response was beyond the pale, and no one should have to do this. I believe another poster up thread said they kept extra clothes, etc. in their car in case of emergency, I suggest putting together an emergency kit and keeping it at work or at least in your car for now, and seriously think about trying to find another job.

    And I know we don’t do this, but my first thought was, I wish I knew who this company was so I could boycott them.

  16. AdAgencyChick

    #4: I feel your pain. I especially hate the ones from vendors who cold-email you acting like they know you’re already interested (“when can I set up a call with you?”) and then, if you ignore the message, another one comes pretending that you’re interested but it just slipped your mind to respond to them. I just keep deleting. These guys don’t even know whether your email address belongs to someone who still works at the company. I prefer to keep it that way.

    With LinkedIn, I ignore any requests to add me as a contact (if you’re a recruiter, friggin’ spring for a premium account so you can message me without adding me as a contact). If I get a message from a recruiter and I’m not interested in the job, I either ignore the message or reply saying I’m not interested in X roles, only Y roles. But more often than not I ignore, because recruiters can get pushy too (“you suuuuure you wouldn’t consider relocating to [city 1000 miles away]?” “do you have anyone else I can contact about this job? do ya do ya do ya?”).

    1. Amy Farrah Fowler

      Yep, I roll my eyes at those vendors. I’m not a decision maker, but have the word manager in my title so I get my fair share of those.

      1. JustaTech

        I don’t have anything like manager in my title (maybe it’s the “senior”?) and people email me all the time wanting to talk about my hiring needs. That was especially funny-not-funny when my company was in the middle of bankruptcy that was all over the regional news. Like, a single google would have told anyone that we weren’t hiring.

        At this point I’m pretty sure that most of these emails are automated and humans only get involved if you reply.

    2. ArtK

      Oh yeah. The “Hi. I’m selling something. Would 2:00PM tomorrow be a good time to call?” ones bug the crap out of me. There must be someone teaching them to do this.

      For a while, I was ignoring and only responding when someone got to 3 e-mails. Just suggesting that if someone doesn’t respond after 2, they’re probably not interested and the vendor is wasting their time. Now, I just hit “block sender” and move on. If I need a service/product like the one that they’re offering, I’ll find a vendor.

      I did send a somewhat snarky reply to one vendor though. They’re a direct competitor of ours and probably got my e-mail off of a standards committee list that we’re both on.

      1. Observer

        I don’t keep track of how often a given vendor emails me, so I couldn’t tell you if they’ve hit the limit. If it gets to a point where I’m noticing you’re emails, I’m not spending time on teaching you the basic of your job. Instead, I’m blocking you at the filter and possibly letting others know that we are NOT doing business at this company.

      2. T. Boone Pickens

        To your first comment, it’s a pretty aggressive sales technique and I can easily see it rubbing some folks the wrong way.

        I will push back on your 2nd comment that if you don’t hear back from someone after 2 attempts you should give up. In my recruiting career, I chased a couple client companies for over a year trying to land their business and tried different avenues and marketing channels. Granted, I did my due diligence and knew that they were a qualified prospect and my efforts wouldn’t be wasted if I could land them. It took a while but I was able to land that business.

    3. Dr. Johnny Fever

      Made the mistake once of adding a vendor as a contact and listening to the spiel for a new Java tool. It seemed interesting, but I told them I don’t make those decisions. They continued to pester me then brought up the name of my grand-boss, which I hadn’t given them, and asked if I would talk to him. Found out the vendor was stringing along four of us trying to sell the tool and grand-boss had already said no. He reached out to the vendor and shut down the communication.

      I was naïve. I thought they wanted to connect over mutual interests, not to sell me something. I scrutinize requests as they come in now.

    4. Elizabeth Proctor

      Also “If I don’t hear from you I’ll stop reaching out,” and then you don’t respond and next week you get an email!

    5. SusanIvanova

      Yesterday I got a “GenCo needs no introduction, and you’d be perfect for them!”

      Yes they do, and no I wouldn’t, because I have no clue what they do. Sure, it’s software, but that’s like saying it’s painting – houses? Road stripes? Exquisite watercolors?

    6. T. Boone Pickens

      I can’t add much to your comment outside of if you’re getting a fair amount of InMails it is a kindness to click the ‘I’m not interested button’ that you can choose so the person sending the InMail can get that credit back and use it again. The only reason I suggest it is InMails are pretty pricey at $10/pop. In the interest of full disclosure I own my own recruiting firm so my view is certainly skewed that way.

      I totally get your annoyance on the vendor side. If you’re going to cold email someone you better have a) have a kick butt value proposition and b) have a pretty good idea that the person you’re targeting is actually someone with buying authority.

      1. Observer

        It’s just not realistic to expect people to actually do this. People are repeatedly advised not to respond in any way to an unknown company, because it’s likely to cause you to be put on ever more mailing lists. Also, people who are getting a lot of cold emails don’t want to spend even an extra 1/2 minute to check the email to see how they can opt. Telling them that it saves you a lot of money if they do that actually gives them LESS incentive in most cases. The idea is that if it costs the mailer money to do this, they won’t keep pestering me.

        1. Avasarala

          Agreed. If you’re going to cold-email me when I’m not even a decision maker, then sorry that’s the gamble you took. You lost your money, should have done more research first, hope you learn for next time.

    7. OP 4

      Yeah, I don’t mind adding you if, say, we met at a conference and had a conversation about business, or even if you send me a direct message spelling out SPECIFICALLY why you want to connect with ME (not just my company). I did recently make a good recruiter contact that way.

      I do refuse invites with the ‘I don’t know this person’ option on linked in most of the time. The spam calls and emails are unending though.

    8. ThatGirl

      Yep. My title makes people think I work in social media or digital marketing (I’m adjacent, but not quite, and not a decision maker anyway) and I get tons of solicitations. I always delete the first, second, third ones – but sometimes they are SO persistent and address me by name and I have, one or two times, said “please remove me from your mailing list I am not the right person to talk to.”

      (It’s way more annoying when they call – I have to answer the phone, no way of knowing if it’s a legit call or not.)

  17. Quasimodo

    OP3 – your letter highlights a big issue in “contract” work – it’s not A Job. It’s a consulting engagement. There is much less commitment to you from the employer… and unfortunately for them sometimes that results in the reverse.
    I’m in a field/role where most of the work is a string of consulting engagements and a lot of people don’t get that. But, lather, rinse, repeat.
    “I took this contract for (X reason that makes it sound like a strategic choice). It turns out to be data entry when I’m a business analyst so I’m looking with something more in line with my goals, as well as I would like a permanent role.“

  18. LGC

    I’m also mad at LW2’s terrible supervisor for making her COMPLETE HER SHIFT IN HER OWN URINE. Also, she was violently ill enough TO URINATE HERSELF.

    One thing, though – am I reading this correctly, or did LW2 only ask to go home because she’d wet herself instead of throwing up so hard she wet herself? I can imagine if I heard that an employee had peed themselves, I’d take the former a little less seriously than the latter. (For the record, I’d ask if they wanted to get changed in the former case. In the latter, I’d probably cut them off after “throwing up” and plead with them to go home. In any case I would NOT say, “Well, you’re wearing black pants, Betsy Wetsy, so stew in your own juices,” because I’m a decent person.)

    Another point – from the situation given, it sounds like the LW was afraid of being penalized if she left early, and that indicates she might be in a call center or similar type of job. And she might have been afraid to lose pay. I encourage everyone to look up their local sick leave regulations if they apply – for example, in my state (New Jersey), ALL employees who work more than a certain amount per year (80 hours/yr, IIRC) at larger employers (I think 15+ employees) are now eligible for up to 40 hours of sick time per year.

    (I haven’t read the state law yet, but I think it’s based off of the Newark and Jersey City ordinances. And I believe it just went into effect last Monday statewide.)

    I hope you’re feeling better now, and that you’re looking for a job somewhere that actually treats you like a human being. (And gives you time off when you’re sick.)

      1. LGC

        Like, I think she’d have just said to go get changed. Quickly. And to clock out while doing so. (And…if LW2 is in a coverage-based position, the supervisor might have just told LW2 to clean herself up the best she could regardless. For the record, I am NOT here for LW2’s supervisor OR her noise, and I hope she gets the same bug that LW2 had.)

        And for what it’s worth, I don’t think any of this is LW2’s fault, and I don’t know if saying that she’d vomited would have changed the outcome.

      2. Tiny Soprano

        Yes it’s starting to sound like the only solution would be to wear white in future… Which is totally bonkers!

  19. Delta Delta

    #1 – I think this employee probably needs to go. But I also think it’s fair to give her a little coaching/managing first to give her the chance to reel in the behavior. Unchecked, she has the potential to bring down morale, which isn’t at all what you want, obviously.

    I worked with a person like this once. She had some valid points about how certain processes could be streamlined. But her method of communicating that was not to say, “I noticed we could make this process better by ____” her method was to simply not do what she thought was cumbersome. Because we worked with a spineless manager, he let it go, morale came down to the point that people wouldn’t speak to this co-worker, and she ultimately did something that caused her to get fired in a blaze of glory. But, 5 minutes of coaching might have saved everyone that horrible 6 months.

    1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

      “she ultimately did something that caused her to get fired in a blaze of glory”

      Well now I’m curious!

        1. Delta Delta

          I don’t want to say too much, as I don’t know if this person reads this blog. We’ll call her Felicia. There was an out of office meeting that one of the managers in our office needed to attend. At the last minute he determined that he needed a second person who was familiar with the file involved in that meeting to go with him. Two people had worked on it with him: Lucinda, who had been full time for several years and was very familiar with it, and Felicia, who was part time, relatively new, and somewhat familiar. He asked Lucinda to go, due to her history with the file.

          Also, for context: we had a related department normally staffed by 3 people. 1 was on vacation that week. 1 ghosted and stopped showing up for work. The other got injured and couldn’t work, so that department was empty that week. Felicia had been asked to cover that department, but felt it was beneath her.

          So, Manager and Lucinda go to the Big Meeting. The whole time they’re there, Felicia, feeling put out that she’s doing a different job and that she wasn’t invited to the Big Meeting, sends Lucinda a series of nasty texts, all about how she should be there instead of Lucinda. Lucinda tells Manager, who tells her he’s sick of hearing complaints about Felicia and that she needs to deal with it herself. They return, but just before, Felicia decides she’s leaving early, so she never sees either of them. The next morning, Manager pauses by Felicia’s desk to tell her about the success they had at The Big Meeting. Felicia unleashes a holy tirade, laced with profanity, about how backward the office is, how she could make it better, how nobody listens to her, and how she could have gotten a better outcome at The Big Meeting. There was yelling. There were F words. There might even have been accusations of sexism. There was a lot of “and another thing.” Manager had to use his body to sort of block her out, and eventually scooted her out the door (which luckily was open because it was a warm day and sometimes the door would be open for fresh air). She was standing just outside the office and Manager told her she was fired and not to come back. she tried to come back in, and kept yelling about Lucinda, etc. Eventually she left and mailed back her keys.

          I happened to be in another part of the building when all this happened, so I heard it all. Felicia has since listed me as a reference. I don’t return those calls.

    1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

      Not terribly helpful advice if the OP needs the job. Let’s put it this way… I’m a white collar worker and I’d stay in the same situation if leaving meant that my job would be in jeopardy. Yes, I have more leeway than some, but in other ways I don’t. So unless the OP forgot to mention that they are independently wealthy and just works for something to do, I think it’s a fair assumption to think that the OP needs the income.

  20. 1st Grade Teacher

    I once had a terrible principal who wrote me up for running out of my classroom while I lost control of my bowels. I was VERY pregnant and umm…things happen. I made it to the restroom on time but because get my class covered, I was in trouble.

    1. Database Developer Dude

      See, things like this make me want to be an elementary school teacher, so I can cover for my female colleagues when things like this happen. And then tell that principal to go reproduce himself.

  21. Database Developer Dude

    From Alison’s commentary about the guy who got misled into a data entry position: “I suspect you’re thinking that you’ve been told not to badmouth an employer in an interview, but this isn’t badmouthing them — it’s just giving a neutral and understandable explanation for why you’re looking to leave so quickly, and it’s an explanation that makes sense. If you said it in an angry tone or expressed personal enmity toward them, that would be a problem — but saying it calmly and matter-of-factly is fine.”

    Two things: 1. Many employers will take even matter-of-fact declarations of this as a problem. Be careful.
    2. Alison speaks the god-honest truth here, and this is part of the problem. Employers and prospective employers have all the power and misleading a candidate into taking a job because you know if you were truthful he or she would decline…. that’s something that it’s justified to be angry about. It is what it is, so we can’t actually express that anger, even in a professional way….but it seems to justify an employer treating candidates and employees any old way…

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I disagree that many employers will take a matter-of-fact declaration of this as a problem. They’re really not. Only a pretty awful, unreasonable employer is going to have a problem with that, and that’s useful data about them to have.

      1. ArtK

        We see a fair amount of “but if I do/say this perfectly reasonable thing, they might not hire me. What do I do?” The question contains the answer, really. Do you want to work for someone who would make a decision like that? Being rejected for doing something reasonable is a very clear signal.

      2. Database Developer Dude

        That’s because YOU, Alison, are reasonable, logical, and rational, and because you’re a manager. The former makes you a minority among the latter.

        I’ve had ten employers since July 2001. Booz Allen Hamilton is easily the best, most military friendly one of them all, but even keeping just to stories *I* could tell, I have plenty of horror stories. If I ping my network, I can supply horror stories from now until after the ball drops in Times Square.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I don’t give advice here that’s just just based on what I would do in the interviewer or manager’s shoes. That wouldn’t be broadly helpful. I give advice based on what I’ve seen, which in addition to my own career includes years of coaching a wide range of organizations and managers plus 11 years of people here writing to me about their experiences (and so reading a couple thousand letters a month). It sounds like you’ve had some bad experiences, but it’s really not true that many interviewers will react badly to this. Certainly not enough that the OP needs to handle differently.

    2. NotAnotherManager!

      Two things:

      1. Employers who think it’s a problem that OP doesn’t want to do a substantially different job than she was hired to do and speaks about it in a neutral, objective tone are probably not going to be any better than her current ones. That’s bullet dodged at the interview stage.

      2. Misleading a candidate about a job is short-sighted and doesn’t work to the benefit of the employer either. I view that as a sign of poor management and a bad reflection on the employer, not the candidate. People who find that their job is not as advertised are going to be short-timers and/or unhappy employees. This doesn’t work out any better for us than it does the employee. Hiring and training is expensive and time-consuming.

      1. Noobtastic

        #2 – Absolutely!

        I once had a job for a day. You see, I trained in System X. My resume said that I was a wiz on System X. The recruiter said, “This job requires System X.” I went to the office, and was told, “We only use System Y. You can use that, right? We figured anyone who can use System X can use System Y, so we just lied to the recruiter, since it’s harder to find someone who can use System Y.” Note – System X is windows based, and System Y is DOS based. NOT the sort of thing where “if you can do X, you can do Y.” There was no way I could do Y.

        “System Y is waaaay outdated, and my school didn’t even offer training in System Y, which is why I am trained in System X. Do you have any System X work for me to do?”

        “Sorry, no. I suppose you could do some filing. We have a big pile of it.”

        “OK, I’ll do the filing. However, when the big boss comes in, I need to talk to him.”

        I got in to see the big boss, and presented my case, as follows. “I am trained in System Y, not System X. I was happy to do your filing for you, because it needed to be done. However, please note that people trained in System X get paid $X. File clerks get paid $Z, which is significantly less. You overpaid for a file clerk, and in addition, your System Y work is still not getting done. For the sake of your own bottom line, you need to contact the recruiter and tell them the truth about your needs. This recruiter can find you a file clerk at file clerk wages. This other recruiter can find you a person capable of using System X, probably for the same amount as you’re paying me. Now, I finished the filing, so unless you want to overpay me for any other entry-level work, I’m going home.”
        “We have some accounting work that needs to be done. Can you handle that?”
        “I have done book-keeping, but it’s certainly not my strong suit, and it’s been several years, so I’m rusty and have no texts to study to brush up. Also, here’s the number of a recruiter that handles accounting, specifically. Bye!”

        He looked like he thought I was just going to complain at him, about the bait-and-switch, and was tensing for defence, but when I pointed out that he was wasting company money, and handed him the solution, he thanked me, and said goodbye kindly, rather than trying to get me to do some other work, since I was already there. After all, he would have gotten sub-par work from me, doing “accounting,” all while paying my original hourly rate. Very wasteful, and potentially very damaging, as well. Once I pointed that out to him, he was glad to see me go, and not charge him for the afternoon.

        I still don’t know what possessed them to bait-and-switch like that, but I like to think I convinced them that it was in their own best interests not to do that. Advertise for the skills you want and need, and you’re more likely to get what you want and need. Forcing a square peg into a round hole, just because it’s easy to get a square peg, is just going to cause lots of waste, mistakes, and possibly a lawsuit (depending on the sort of mistakes that square peg makes), and a whole lot more money than you would have spent advertising for and paying for a round peg, in the first place.

        When I tell people about this, I don’t get angry. I laugh. No one has thought the worst of me, because of it.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

      I was in a very similar situation. I was hired by a Small Company to do New Thing X at their office (the location and benefits were terrible, and the opportunity to learn and get experience in New Thing X was my hiring manager’s biggest selling point in convincing me to accept the offer), and on my very first day, I found out that I’d been rented out to my boss’s friend, who owned a consulting company, to replace his friend’s only employee that had just left, doing Obsolete Thing Y at a client’s office that was 65 miles from my house. At first they said it’d be a part-time and temporary arrangement, and two months in, my boss confessed that it was really meant to be full-time and permanent. I started looking on the same day and had an interview with Large Fortune 500 a week later. It was a panel interview with seven people in it: the CIO, the hiring manager, the PM, several senior devs. Of course, the first thing they asked was why I was looking less than three months after I started. I told them exactly what I just said here. Everyone gasped, we moved on to the rest of the interview, they hired me, and I worked there for close to 7 years before leaving for another job. Honestly, I think that an employer that will take this declaration as a problem, might be prone to pulling a bit of bait-and-switch on candidates themselves, and are not the best company to work for.

  22. Observer

    #2 – Please do take it up with HR / your manager’s manager. And if they don’t respond appropriately, please really do take to heart what Alison said – They truly ARE terrible people and bosses.

    2 Things to do – 1. Check the sick leave laws in your state and city. If you are entitled to sick leave and you haven’t run out, then you should bring that to them. More importantly, though, start planning your exit. I know that it’s generally easier said than done. But outside of really really unusual circumstances, you DO have some options. Yes, your choices may mean that this is a long process, but the time is going to pass anyway. The sooner you start the process the sooner it will end.

    Oh, and apparently the only thing that Supervisor cared about was that no one should notice. I know it’s humiliating, but it might be a really good thing to start telling EVERYONE what she did. It’s illegal for them to fire or retaliate against you for this, as you are discussing the terms and conditions of your employment which is explicitly protected by law.

  23. Jennifer Juniper

    OP2:

    I’m sorry she did that to you! What kind of person would force an adult to sit around in the most unhygienic conditions possible?

    May a million cats pee in her shoes, her clothes, and her hair every day for the rest of her life.

    1. Database Developer Dude

      I’ve personally seen a person’s pet pee and poop in shoes *while looking at their owner*. Let’s let this happen to the OP’s manager.

    1. NotAnotherManager!

      Of all the things wrong with that situation, that’s an odd thing to zero in on. I would much rather tell my female boss who also has children about a bladder-control issue, if for no other reason than I feel she’d better be able to empathize than a man. And also I’ve been an invisible party to enough meetings with higher-up men who forget I’m there (and female) to know that losing control of a bodily function, regardless of circumstances, is just another reason to consider your female employees weaker (#NotAllMenButEnoughToBeWary).

      1. Database Developer Dude

        And this leaves me faintly ill. It shows me I can act right as a man and still be treated as if I’m not acting right. How is this different than someone treating me differently solely because of the color of my skin?

        Episodes like this are why I *want* to be in a position leading others…so I can be the compassionate dba manager. If this was me, OP would have been sent home with sick leave if it was throwing up, or sent home to change without deduction to their PTO. “Go home, shower, dress, come back”. Soiling oneself is embarrassing enough. There’s no need to add to someone’s misery.

        1. NotAnotherManager!

          If you’re treating your employees with kindness and compassion, then your employees may not feel they need to go around you. Clearly, OP2 felt that a female supervisor was preferable and, under the circumstances and not knowing her boss, I’m going to trust her judgment.

          You want to change things? If you’re in a room with other men using language that implies that their female employees are too emotional/weak/not as committed for doing the same things as their male peers, speak up, particularly if those women are in the room. Actively work against the culture that women are lesser and that stereotypically feminine characteristics like cooperation and empathy. Don’t fall into women are bitch/men are assertive tropes. Don’t participate in dude-bro jokes.

          And maybe, when someone tells you why they might feel more comfortable telling a woman about their bodily function concerns based on their 20+ years of professional experience, maybe don’t jump straight to how it hurts your feelings and compare it to racism?

        2. Close Bracket

          This would be a better reply without the first paragraph.

          Since it bothers you so much that women can’t read your mind to know that you wouldn’t judge an entire sex based on a built in biological weakness, what you are doing to change the minds of the men who cause us to be wary in the first place? Bc frankly, being compassionate to one hypothetical employee at an unknown future date is not going to make the problem go away.

          1. DFW

            It’s not Database Developer Dude’s job to change the minds of men or any man for that matter. It’s the job of that supervisors parents to raise them in a way that they can plainly see the callousness of not letting an employee go change. I think we have really drifted away from this in a very bad way as a society. Failing that, I guess you could argue that it is society’s job but it seems like were a little late here. It’s completely absurd to delegate this “job” on the basis of just being a “man”. This makes no sense.

            1. NotAnotherManager!

              So, if someone’s parents don’t “raise them right,” that’s just the end of it? Got it, I hope my kids internalize my messages and not the ones their peers and society immerses them in constantly, particularly during the teenage years when my IQ is sure to plummet in their eyes.

              Also, DDD asked how to show that he was a compassionate person and how to demonstrate that to his coworkers. Standing up for them is a way to do that. Telling people that sexist/racist/whateverist comments aren’t something they will tolerate is a way to do that. And, if everyone says, “It’s no my job to [insert way of improving society as a whole or standing up for someone with less social/political power here], their parents should have done that.”, then we’re screwed.

              1. Avasarala

                He didn’t ask “how” actually. He’s a frequent commenter here, I think he knows how. He said he /would/. So the lecture seems really unwarranted here.

                Actually I am also confused because I thought this was a pretty cut-and-dried case of OP feeling more comfortable discussing her body situation with someone of the same gender. But then you said “I feel she’d [a female supervisor] better be able to empathize than a man”. So you’re arguing against seeing women as weak, while also arguing that women are more empathetic? I can see why DDD felt damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.

        3. Observer

          If you really want to change things, start by not blaming people for acting based on relevant experience and (real) statistics in the absence other information, when they don’t have a good way to mitigate the risks they face.

          Refusing to hire blacks because “blacks are criminals” is racist and stupid. It’s an assumption that’s not based in reality. Refusing to hire blacks because there is more violent crime per capita among blacks and whites is racist because you DO have access to the information you need so there is no difference in your risk of hiring a violent criminal if you do your due diligence. On the other hand, if you’re walking down the street (at least in NYC) on a dark night, and you have a choice to walk down the street on the side of the street with a young black male in casual dress vs a black woman it’s not racist to walk on the side of the woman.

          The same thing is true in this type of situation. For most women here, actual lived experience is that a male boss is highly likely to have a negative reaction to this revelation, even if he’s a decent sort and sends you home, whereas a woman is far less likely to do that. Telling women that this isn’t the case, or that they should ignore what they know and take the risk, is not fair. It’s also not useful and does nothing to help improve the situation.

          1. DFW

            I agree that refusing to hire blacks because they are criminals is racist and stupid. It is also racist to avoid walking down the street because you see a black person on it. I am pretty sure that at least constitutes a microaggression.

        4. logicbutton

          I would say the difference is that when someone mistrusts you for being black, it harms or inconveniences you, whereas when someone mistrusts you for being male, it harms or inconveniences them. Generally speaking, anyway.

          1. Noobtastic

            It also doesn’t really work. My sister was once mugged by a man who crossed the street directly at her. So, mugger’s gonna mug, no matter which side of the street you’re on.

            That said, listen to your instincts. Read “The Gift of Fear.” If you feel the need to get away from a particular person, or situation, take a detour or turn around, or do what you need to to do get away from whatever it is that is tingling your spidey senses. And take some deep breaths, so you’re ready to run, if necessary.

            Also, it was a white mugger.

        5. DFW

          “And this leaves me faintly ill. It shows me I can act right as a man and still be treated as if I’m not acting right. How is this different than someone treating me differently solely because of the color of my skin?”

          I see your point. I am seeing a lot of rationalization in some of the other comments about how it’s OK to make judgments about one immutable characteristic sets but not others with no real underlying consistency. I am a long time reader of almost 10 years and enjoy AAM and the comments 95% of the time. I gain a lot of insight in to things but this has been one really big blind spot for them over the last few years.

          1. Avasarala

            I agree. And I think a good deal of it is a blind spot to issues that affect the individual themselves.

        6. Gazebo Slayer

          The thing is, women DON’T and CAN’T know that you’re “one of the good men” (if indeed you are) because we can’t see into your head. All we know about you is what we have seen.

          I suggest you Google “Schrodinger’s Rapist.”

          Also, the racism comparison completely ignores the power dynamic involved. Women being wary of men is not like anti-black hatred; it’s more like black people being wary of white people.

        7. chi type

          “How is this different than someone treating me differently solely because of the color of my skin?”
          Power. That is the difference. The same way racism toward white people isn’t really a thing. Prejudice + power= whatever-ism

      2. DFW

        There are plenty of comments upstream that are discussing everything that is wrong. There is nothing wrong at looking at things from another prospective. The empathy angle doesn’t make any sense. It’s possible that that approaching a women with children can elicit an empathetic response or it can elicit the response above. In my experience especially with things like childbirth and menstruation, discussing these things might elicit an empathetic response or you might get something like “My cramps, labor pains, etc are manageable why cant she deal with it”. Where as some men may look at this and think that they have no idea what a woman is going through and accept what she says at face value. Gender based solidarity seems to be a losing proposition.

        1. NotAnotherManager!

          I see. So, because some men may be more sympathetic than some women in Hypothetical Land, that upends the idea that someone more likely to have been in your situation is more likely to have empathy with it? I think that makes far less sense, to be honest.

          In social situations that may be embarrassing (bleeding through your pants, pee-sneezing, etc.) most people are going to seek out someone they believe to be similarly situated and able to empathize with them most quickly, and those people are more likely to be someone who’s experienced that situation themselves. Are there men who would sympathize with a bleed-through? Sure, but personal experience tells me most men would prefer to pretend mensuration doesn’t exist at all and are accepting so they can shut down any further discussion. (How many times have people here been advised to say “lady problems” to an overly inquisitive boss?) Are there women who lack empathy? Sure, I guess there’s going to be some asshole like OP2’s awful boss who thinks that I should have gotten heavy-dutier pads or something, but I’ve literally never experienced that. In the absence of other information, I’m going for the person who is more likely to have been in my situation. I guess it’s a calculated risk that has always paid off.

          Also, the ONLY person who told me that my labor pains weren’t that bad were? A former coworker’s husband who guilted his wife into giving birth with no drugs and went around telling all the ladies in the social circle that he considered having an epidural that a sign of weak character and that contractions weren’t that bad. (Guess his parents just didn’t raise him not to tell the ladies to stop exaggerating their labor pains.) You know who’s never said something like that to me? Women, even the ones I know who went for natural themselves.

          1. Avasarala

            I’m really confused why you are arguing that women are more sympathetic to other’s suffering. This is already a stereotype of women and the reasoning behind “women’s work” centering on caregiving and supporting roles. Are you saying OP asked a woman because a woman would be kinder, gentler, more caring? How is this not incredibly sexist?

            1. Jennifer Juniper

              I am a woman. However, I’ve never had severe cramps and never been pregnant. I’m in the same position as a cis guy when it comes to empathizing with labor pains and other childbirth horrors.

            2. Noobtastic

              I don’t think it’s about women being “kinder, gentler, more caring.” I think it’s about the likelihood that another woman has probably done the vomit/pee, sneeze/pee, cough/pee, laugh/pee combo than a man has, because biology makes women more susceptible to it.

              If you were a man, having a problem with sitting on your testicles, and you wanted someone who could respond with, “Oh, been there, done that, you take care of yourself,” you’d probably seek out a male, and not a female, who would only be able to respond, “Oh, is that painful? OK, uhhh, do you need an aspirin?”

              It’s not about who’s more nurturing. It’s about who is more likely to have shared experience.

          2. Jennifer Juniper

            If I were a manager and someone told me they’d wet themselves/vomited/whatever, I’d send them home sick and not let them back without a doctor’s note. Then I’d have the chair/desk/workstation thoroughly sanitized. I would be concerned for the employee’s welfare – and be terrified of germs going around the office.

    2. SusanIvanova

      Presumably LW2 is also female. Whoever gets told would have to have extraordinary self control to not reflexively look down at someone’s groin area when told “I peed myself”, and a woman at work does not want to have a man doing that. And the reverse is probably true as well.

    3. A. Ham

      I would guess because it was something she would have had more difficulty talking about with a male supervisor. It may not matter for some people, but when it comes to bodily functions, sometimes talking to someone the same gender is a little easier in an upsetting and potentially embarrassing situation.

    4. Alianora

      Probably because the LW is female and felt more comfortable telling another woman about this kind of issue.

    5. LGC

      Probably because LW2 felt more comfortable with discussing bodily functions with someone of her gender, I’m guessing. It’s not uncommon for that to be the case. I’m guessing she was already really embarrassed as she’d peed herself and was looking for what she thought would be a more sympathetic ear.

      (I’m gendering the LW, but that’s what makes the most sense to me! I’ve even seen it at my own job.)

  24. Database Developer Dude

    Forcing an employee who has soiled themselves to stay at work is one of those items where, had the manager themselves written in, I’d be more than comfortable breaking Alison’s “Please be kind” rule, and let the chips fall where they may.

    Some things are so far beyond the pale, that it is offensive in the extreme to act as if they’re okay and be nice to the people committing them.

    1. Fergus

      I had one job where the supervisor told me I had to ask permission to use the bathroom. I didn’t ask because there was a fish tank, a potted, plant a trash can, the floor, nothing was done because I would

  25. Database Developer Dude

    I’m also reminded of an earlier letter, talking about a female cashier (teenage) that got written up for justifying needing an extra bathroom break by saying she was “riding the crimson wave”. That particular shift supervisor got written up, demoted, and then quit…. but depending on the company it could easily have gone the other way.

  26. ChachkisGalore

    Speaking directly to OP #2 here: I know most people can not just up and quit their job, and I’m absolutely not saying that you should or should have. But please start job searching ASAP, please. It might take time to find a new one, and that is what it is, but you absolutely, 100% do not deserve to treated the way that that supervisor treated you. It breaks my heart that you must be working in an environment that has made you think there’s even the remotest possibility that the supervisor’s behavior was acceptable.

    I know there are many reasons that putting up with a not ideal work situation is necessary, and its really naive to just say “just find a new job”, so I don’t say any of this lightly. I say this because what your supervisor put you through is so abominable that for your own sanity, safety, health and dignity I think you need to get out of this situation as soon as is feasible. I can’t imagine what other health or safety risks that supervisor might require you (or other employees) to work through.

    You do not deserve the treatment you received and even if you need this job to survive, at the very least keep in mind that this was objectively atrocious behavior on that supervisor’s part. This is so far from normal and you deserve to be treated better.

    1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather

      Well said. Nothing about this is acceptable and I hope OP can leave this environment quickly and safely.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

      I’d start looking if I found out that *my teammate* had been treated like that. Yes, this is super not normal.

  27. RUKiddingMe

    OP2: That is outrageous!!!

    Even way back in the day when I was dependent on keeping whatever doesn’t-pay-enough-to-live-on-much-less-anything-extra shit job, I would have quit on the spot.

    Not saying *you* should quit, but definitely do as Alison suggests. Polish up your resume..you may need it.

  28. Temp Admin

    Wow, answer to #3 was particularly useful. I was let go from a job that I had specifically asked during the interview, “Is there any reception work involved?” And was told, “No, and like I said, we’re hiring a new receptionist anyway (said in an annoyed manner – guess that should’ve been the red flag on this company)” I ask so I don’t have to reveal during interviews that I now have a medical condition that interferes with the duties of absolutely having to stay in one place for an unknown/inconsistent amount of time/schedule, looked down on if I use the restroom while backing up a receptionist. I took the job based on him saying no, and had no reason to believe the known duties of my job would be an issue for my condition. This place talked out both sides of their mouths on so many things. When another supervisor in the company (who I was told I’m only under for event planning) expected me to be daily backup reception once I arrived, I was obviously confused, and there were quite a few times this interfered with what my supervisor said were my primary tasks. She was downright hostile and aggressive about it, and questioned my work ethic due to it early on. I brought it up with my supervisor quickly, cited a medical condition, offered to bring in ADA paperwork, and mentioned I would’ve brought this up in the offer stage had he explained this task during the interview. He said that wouldn’t be necessary, that he doesn’t know why she’s been behaving so weirdly lately, that he had my back and would take care of it. He didn’t for a month. I had to continually follow up while receiving more hostility from the department that expected this of me. I should’ve quit the second week, though I wanted to make it work somehow, because I was worried it would look bad to leave a job immediately (I’ll never make that mistake again!) I offered suggestions like a rotating schedule between multiple office personnel to cover, including myself. I never said outright I wouldn’t do it, I definitely never said it was beneath me (which they claimed, though it is inconsistent with my prior work experience and my volunteering to deal with their dishwasher when that other supervisor expected me to clean the coffee pot….). They said I snarkily told the new receptionist, “That’s not my job, go ask your own team,” when he approached me expecting I do backup reception his first day. I knew that wasn’t his fault though. What I had said to him, and in a surprised tone, “Oh! [My Supervisor] told me I’m not doing backup reception at all once the temp receptionist left. Were you told something else by the accounting assistants? I’ll definitely cover today, though maybe they can join in the coverage from time to time in the future.” This went on for another week, with the receptionist often failing to tell me once he was back from a break etc, leaving me waiting longer than I should’ve to use the restroom, causing medical issues and more sick days. They got mad at me when I did a perfectly reasonable thing of asking him when he usually expects to be taking his breaks and lunches, which was happening at inconsistent times throughout the day. I needed to be able to manage my time, restroom breaks, and lunches, so of course I asked. Oh and then they fired me after I got back from my best friend’s funeral, right before my benefits were about to kick in. I’d brought in a doctor’s note the day they fired me, and they had it in their hands when they fired me. I only learned they told these lies about me (among many more – unsurprising ) after making an EEOC complaint, which ended up dismissed. Guess my supervisor was unwilling to cop up to what he had been telling me, making the other supervisor’s assumptive narrative lacking all the info seem like the reality to the company owner and her department. At least given some of the evidence I did have, EEOC didn’t seem to buy all their BS and we had a laugh about it, though there wasn’t enough evidence to continue. They wished me well and told me not to worry about it impacting my future job prospects, but I have been worried about how to word this to future interviewers if it comes up. So thanks!

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