my intern’s academic credit was revoked, boss keeps emailing on maternity leave, and more

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

1. My intern’s academic credit was revoked by his professor

I just found out that one of my unpaid interns is not going to get academic credit for the 100+ hours he worked for us this semester. He was one hour late on an assignment for his university’s internship class. He said that this professor granted extensions to some students, but not to him. I have since learned this is the second time this has happened to one of our interns with this university’s program.

I see it as an added injustice to an already inequitable system. One of the only arguments for unpaid internships is academic credit, and now this person has essentially worked four months for no benefit. My boss, who is also the supervisor for internships, has said he will not write a letter to the university. He says internships are supposed to mirror “real world employment,” which includes real consequences. However, no employer is allowed to withhold benefits you have already earned for minor infractions. I hurt so badly for this student, and I am more furious because this might mean he won’t graduate on time.

Also, does this open up our organization to legal ramifications, since the student is no longer is receiving credit? We are a nonprofit, if that makes a difference.

If you’re a nonprofit, you’re allowed to use volunteers (in most circumstances) so legally you’re fine. But ideally your boss would raise hell with the university — saying that your organization took on this intern with the understanding that he’d be receiving course credit and wouldn’t have done so otherwise, and that you feel it’s unethical to accepted his labor for four months if he’s getting nothing in return, and strongly urge that the decision be revisited. Unfortunately, your boss is being a real ass here — as you note, there’s no “real world employment” where being one hour late on something would result in your compensation for four months of work being pulled. Assuming you can’t change his mind, you could ask for his permission to contact the university yourself since the intern was working for you (perhaps pointing out that “real world employment” also means the intern’s own manager would have some say). And you should definitely make sure the intern knows you will bend over backwards to be a reference, etc. But otherwise your boss may get to make the (crappy) call on this.

2. My boss keeps emailing from maternity leave

My boss recently left to have her baby, and we’re all so happy for her! She’s scheduled to be out until mid-February and things are running smoothly so far. We have weekly meetings with her manager, but for the most part we are managing ourselves (which has been working fine so far).

However, she’s recently been sending work emails out and messaging us on Skype a fair bit from her maternity leave. For example, she IM’ed me the other day asking why a certain announcement post hadn’t gone live yet, but what she didn’t know was that we’d already planned to launch it a few days later.

I totally get that she might be feeling a bit isolated but it’s getting to feel like she doesn’t trust her team. And even besides that, I believe that she may actually be breaking some rules by accessing her work emails and files while she’s on maternity leave. How can we let her know (in a polite but firm manner) that we’ve got things handled?

Two options: One is that the most senior person on your team or the person with the best rapport with her can talk to her about it, pointing out that it’s actually making your team less efficient because you don’t know when she is or isn’t going to want to weigh in on something and that because she’s not fully in the loop, she’s asking people to spend time responding to things she wouldn’t be asking about it if she were at work — and that there’s a plan in place to keep things running while she’s away, and she should trust it and take full advantage of her leave. Or, the other option is to say something to her boss, the one you’re meeting with weekly while she’s away. You could explain to that person what’s happening and the issues it’s causing, and ask if they can intervene so that you’re able to keep work moving forward without having to guess when she might pop up with queries that she doesn’t have full context for.

3. Attending the holiday party after being laid off

I was recently laid off unexpectedly from my company a few weeks ago. While employed, I made a wonderful group of friends that I still get together with on the weekends.

The company party is coming up and one of my friends wants me to come as their guest. I’m unsure if it’s appropriate for me to go. On one hand, I don’t harbor any ill will towards the employees who are still there, but it would be awkward to see the department head and CEO involved in my layoff decision. On the other hand, It would be a great opportunity to see my friend group and other current employees that I miss. Should I go to the party or decline?

Well … Some companies would welcome a laid-off employee at a staff party, and at other companies at least some people would feel awkward about it. So to some extent, this is about knowing your company.

Did former employees ever come to the company’s parties in the past? If so, I think you’re fine showing up, as long as you’re willing to deal with any awkwardness you might feel. But if you’ve never seen that happen, it’s possible that it will feel uncomfortably awkward to some people there (or even be sort of a downer — part of the reason employers often have laid-off employees leave immediately is because it can make it hard for the remaining employees to move forward otherwise). I’m sure some people will tell you that you don’t need to worry about that and that it’s the company’s problem, not yours, but most people want to navigate this type of situation with grace, and so it’s a reasonable thing to factor in.

But if you decide not to go, you can always reach out to the people there who you’d like to see and arrange some kind of outside-of-work get-together of your own.

4. My employee gave me a gift

A few weeks ago, four people started reporting to me after a reorg. Previously I only had one direct report, so I decided to have a team kickoff meeting to introduce everyone. A couple days ago, one of the new employees gave me a book (on leadership) as a holiday gift. I have never given or received personal gifts at work and don’t want to start. How do I acknowledge the gift without encouraging repeat or treating my employees unequally?

Yeah, ideally your employees wouldn’t give you gifts (for all the reasons I talk about here), but some people are going to do it anyway. As long as it’s something small, it makes sense to just accept it graciously so you don’t make the person feel bad. So “thank you, this is really kind of you!” or another expression of thanks is all you need.

However, next year, you can try to preemptively ward it off by saying something to your team in early December like, “I don’t want to assume anyone is thinking of getting me a gift, but just in case, I want to say that while that’s very kind of you, please put that toward family and friends instead. Doing your jobs well is enough of a gift for me.”

5. My company wants me to pay for a parking citation received in error

I travel frequently for work, and a couple of months ago my company had rented a car for me to use for a day trip to a client’s city. This week, two months after the trip was uneventfully completed, I received a notice from my finance department that there was a parking citation billed to the company for this rental car, and my company wanted to deduct the cost of the citation plus the rental company’s administration fee for paying it out of one of my upcoming expense reimbursements.

The accompanying information about the citation included a link to CCTV footage of the parking citation, which had been issued via an automatic remote camera, and after viewing it, there is no question that the citation was made in error and no illegal activity had occurred. (I asked several other people to view it and all agree on this matter.) The problem is that due to the rental company preemptively paying the fine and the amount of time that passed before I was made aware of the issue, there is no longer any way to challenge the fine.

Who should be liable for paying this charge, amounting to about $100? Should we try to go back to the rental car company, should my company take care of it, or am I responsible? If the answer isn’t “me,” how do I gently but appropriately push back on this with my company? (If it matters, I have never received any other citations or charges like this while driving a company-hired rental car, which I do frequently.)

Ideally you and/or your company would push back with the rental company, pointing out that the footage clearly shows that you weren’t at fault. If they’re going preemptively pay people’s fines without first communicating with them, they should have to eat that cost when they get it wrong. But if the rental company won’t budge, then your company should cover it for you. You shouldn’t be on the hook for a fee that you didn’t do anything to incur, simply because you were on a business trip. You shouldn’t lose money when you travel for work, and your company should consider this a cost of doing business.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 329 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#3, I wouldn’t go. Even in the best of circumstances, I think it will have an underlying vibe of weird/awkward.

    Could you get together with your colleagues right before the party and grab drinks/coffee at a nearby bar/restaurant so that you can go home when they leave for the party? Or maybe plan something small for a different day?

    1. The Original OOF*

      I agree. OP, the odds are just too high that people will find it odd and uncomfortable to have a laid-off employee in attendance. I’m really surprised at Alison’s answer on this one. For every work place I’m familiar with, this simply wouldn’t be “done.”

        1. Ashley*

          This sort of thing is absolutely fine in my company, this year we had 2 leavers join the Xmas party as +1s (not partners). Unless they left on totally scandalous terms nobody has any issue with it.

          1. Cindy Featherbottom*

            My spouses former company is the same way. If you left under bad circumstances (stealing something, misconduct, etc) then you wouldn’t be welcomed back. Otherwise, its totally fine. In the years they worked there, almost every year former employees would come back. It was never awkward and most people enjoyed catching up with former colleagues.

            1. Yvette*

              But were these people laid off or did they leave voluntarily for the proverbial greener pastures? (Without being a jerk about it “So long suckers I’m getting twice what this dump was paying!!!”)
              I think that might make a difference.

              1. pleaset*

                The OP said laid off. To me, the question is whether the laid off person wants to come. The company should still welcome them insofar as a layoff is not about the person being fired, but rather the position being ended.

                If the person was fired, then no way should they come to a party.

              2. Holly*

                I’d like to point out that in my job plenty of people who have left on their own terms to make more money come back to visit and everyone’s happy to hang out with them, but that’s also the culture of my office.

                1. Yvette*

                  I was referring to not just leaving on their own terms but meant if when they left they didn’t have a “sorry to go but I can’t miss out on this opportunity” vibe and more of a “ha! so glad to be leaving this dump in my rear-view mirror, can’t believe you suckers are sticking around” vibe.

        2. BWooster*

          I worked in a place for a while where people who haven’t been with the company in years came to the Xmas do. It definitely happens.

        3. Turquoisecow*

          My company has it’s Christmas party as a lunch mid-week, so spouses/outsiders aren’t invited as it’s during the day and they’d be unlikely to be able to attend. However, they do invite retirees to attend, and many of them do.

      1. Mommy MD*

        I would not go. At least a few people will be uncomfortable. Sadly, you don’t work there anymore. Going as a guest of an employee seems off.

      2. Snow Drift*

        I’ve always worked with IP, so trying this at my companies would be a major problem and could affect any good reference you’d previously expected. In my field, you get out and stay out as a matter of integrity.

        That said, I can imagine some fields where it wouldn’t be a big deal.

      3. Magenta*

        A few years back my company was taken over, a few people were made redundant, but to be fair they really needed to go, they all had attitude or performance issues and the old owners had let it go on for too long. The new company was being kind to make them redundant, and so ensure they had a financial pay out, gardening leave and longer than average notice. It was handled discreetly and as respectfully as possible. The people who were let go were not replaced and departments were re-organised to make this work.

        One woman who was let go I knew well enough to talk to at work lunches or events, had never really worked with, but liked well enough on a superficial personal level. However I have heard she was a nightmare to work for and several of her direct reports had quit because of her. She was given notice late November/early December, she had gardening leave and did not need to come back in.

        She turned up at the Christmas party, got incredibly drunk and decided to *sob* on my shoulder in the middle of the room. It was seriously loud, messy crying, all over me. She was *really* bitter about the whole thing and kept loudly calling all the new directors a four letter word that as I understand it is seen as completely unacceptable and misogynistic in the US and is still pretty damn offensive in the UK. Everyone was looking, the new management were staring; I was in a panic, public emotion is not my favourite thing and all I could do was pat her a bit, say “there there”, and hope it would end soon. It really looked like I had “picked a side”.

        It was possibly the most awkward work situation I have ever been in! I obviously felt awful for her, but was also a bit worried that there may be repercussions for my reputation at the company.

        Everyone was completely stunned that she came and flummoxed as to what her motivation for coming would be, she didn’t have loads of friends at work and didn’t gain anything from attending, other than a free hangover.

        It was talked about for a long time after, it lasted longer on the gossip mill than the time a guy called his manager the same word as above, told him he quit and never came back.

        The drunk crying colleague came up in conversation at this year’s Christmas do and we still couldn’t understand why she turned up.

        1. That girl from Quinn's house*

          I very much love the UK term “gardening leave.” It sounds so delightfully pleasant.

        2. else*

          Oh, lord. Unhappy disturbed people ALWAYS come straight for me, like I’m a magnet – they’ll even start talking to my back, so it’s not like I have some kind of talk-to-ME-sad-person! face. This is exactly what would have happened to me. Deepest sympathy, Magenta. It’s always the worst when you do feel badly for them but also just need them to go away!

    2. valentine*

      OP3, your colleague should’ve asked before inviting you. Bringing you/showing up out of the blue may seem a defiant gesture and you don’t want to surprise the DH or CEO or find out the staff can’t let you in or, worse, have to turf you.

      Let this job go and meet your friends elsewhere, at unrelated times, to reset the friendships away from the job so you’re not stuck or returning to a negative space.

    3. sacados*

      Something like that is pretty common where I work. Most of the people are on project-based contracts, and in our industry it’s very common for people to move around from one company to another, and then sometimes back to the first at some point, as various projects come and go.
      And while sometimes it is a personal decision on the part of the employee, there are definitely also times where it’s the company saying “we don’t have an appropriate project/role for you coming up so we are not going to renew your contract at this time.”
      Which I think is not dissimilar to a layoff.

      And for us it is quite common for former employees to still come back for parties, etc — even those taking place in the office.

        1. JSPA*

          If it’s really a layoff–especially if it followed some sort of predetermined, “last in / first out” rule, or if the position ended in a project-specific sort of way–the essential aspects of the scenarios are very similar, even if the surrounding details are superficially very different.

          If it’s a place where people are laid off as a polite and helpful alternative to firing, then that’s indeed different (and I’d be very leery of attending the party).

          OP may not have total clarity on the situation. But if they do–that’d be a significant deciding factor.

          Before anyone says that it can’t be a formulaic layoff because if so, why would it be “awkward to see the department head and CEO involved in my layoff decision,” awkwardness can come / could have come from how they did it (not that they did it). “No warning” may or may not be normal in the field. Or maybe they presented the project as something solid and long term when it wasn’t.

          1. FirstTimeCaller*

            This is a good point. At my old job they never ever fired anyone, but they did a lot of very targeted (like 10 people / 100,000) layoffs where they get walked out. Someone getting laid off would never go to a work event after because the culture around it was very identical to a firing.

            It was interesting for me to hear from so many people where layoffs are more routine and it’s normal to revisit – good to know!

    4. SheLooksFamiliar*

      OP #3, I wouldn’t go to this event, even if it’s ‘done’. I handled layoffs in a previous worklife and vividly remember a client whose laid-off employees asked to be included in their now-former employer’s holiday events. First, the awkward level high – survivor’s guilt is a real thing. Second, several laid-off employees later told me they felt worse when they saw the happy team members at a party and realized ‘I’m not part of that anymore.’ Others said going to a company event made it hard to truly separate from their employer. They felt like they were still part of the team…and, of course, they weren’t.

      I agree with Alison that you should connect with your friends for a ‘class reunion’ at another time. Don’t lose your friendships, but know that the dynamic is going to change. Please be kind to yourself during this time, and keep us posted.

      1. Dr. Pepper*

        I was coming here to say the same thing. I was in that position; I wasn’t laid off but my contract had ended (as I knew that it would so no surprises or ill will there) and I attended the retirement party of a former colleague. It wasn’t awkward or weird, but I ended up feeling sad and “out of it” because, naturally, things had moved on without me and everyone else was still part of the team while I was not. It was an isolating feeling, and I’m still not sure if I should have just skipped it. It was great seeing certain people, but I think I would have been happier seeing them in a different context, without the *whole team* that I was not longer a part of. Something to consider.

    5. Mediamaven*

      I agree. If the company didn’t invite you then it should mean you weren’t intended to go. I would feel weird if an ex-employee came to our holiday party if they weren’t invited despite the circumstances.

  2. Clementine*

    I have been a guest at an Xmas party after being laid off. It was a startup where many of us were laid off after 9/11 (although it would have happened anyway, and the company folded in 2002). I am still friends with several people from there. So I can say it worked fine for me.

      1. Sam Sepiol*

        Not Clementine, but a load of my friends were laid off immediately after 9/11. They worked for an airline.

      2. Poopsie*

        This happened at the company I work for, though we weren’t a start up. The usual reason for start ups would be that the financial markets tumble when big events like 9/11 happen and that has a knock on effect on the money being invested in firms, shares tumble, so people unfortunately get laid off as a result.

      3. The Gollux (Not a Mere Device)*

        My spouse’s NYC start-up folded after 9/11 because they were supposed to have a meeting with (likely) investors on 9/13/01, and the investors cancelled the meeting. (This many years later, I don’t remember whether this was “we can’t fly into New York right now, sorry” and not willing to reschedule, or just “conditions have changed, sorry” from someone who could have called a cab from elsewhere in the city.)

      4. Autumnheart*

        There was a major economic crash as a result of 9/11, which occurred not long after the dot-com crash. Overall major contraction in IT and tech. A lot of offshoring as well.

        1. Aitch Arr*

          From 2001-2003 I was laid off 3 times. All were mergers/acquisitions/downsizing/bankruptcies. Dot com became dot bom.

  3. Viki*

    #1 the only way I can see this being feasible is if the intern is constantly late with assignments or other course work that generally goes adjacent with internships for academic credit was not done to a passing grade. If that is true (and I have seen that happen), more is going on. If it isn’t, be the best reference you can be

    1. Artemesia*

      The OP only has the intern’s word that he was unfairly penalized for ‘only turning in one assignment an hour late.’ and that ‘other people were late and not penalized.’ Maybe this is so and there is a monster running the internship program, but it really seems unlikely. I suspect there is more to the story .

      1. Engineer Girl*

        Other people late may be due to ADA accommodations, family emergencies etc. in short, they were pre approved.
        It’s hard to tell from here.

          1. Limenotapple*

            It’s not a matter of weighing one heavier than the other. In order to get credit, you have to complete the work side and the academic side. It’s still a course. Both have to be satisfactorily completed for course credit.

            1. Ren*

              The professor has done this TWICE to intern just from this one nonprofit. This is an abuse — it’s wage theft at the very least — and if the university is public I hope it exposes the university and professor to an eventual suit or class action. You know, working world consequences.

              1. Tyche*

                Sincerely I think it’s quite a leap to claim it’s abuse.
                Maybe the professor is too strict and pedantic, maybe there were other problems with the intern’s assignment.
                We don’t know if it happened with other interns working for other nonprofit or companies. It’ss very hard to tell.

                1. Ren*

                  I don’t disagree with you! I will just say this is part of the risk the professor takes in not applying the same standards to all students. Not one but two interns from this single nonprofit have been denied credit outright for 100+ hours of work completed — a very harsh form of discipline — while, at the very least, we know, because OP says, other students have been granted extensions. It already looks dangerously close to discrimination without knowing whether the nonprofit is associated with a social cause or issue that would make it 100 times more obvious. At the very least, if I were a student on campus and learned that not one but two interns who spent 4 months working at one organization were denied extensions and credit while interns at other organizations received those extensions, I would at all costs avoid interning at that organization.

                2. Amy Farrah Fowler*

                  @Ren – And from the other side, as the organization, I would be horrified (as OP is) and refuse to take future interns from the university because knowing that your previous 2 interns were denied credit, it doesn’t seem like this internship program is having it’s intended effect.

                3. Sally*

                  @Ren – I hadn’t thought about potential discrimination based on the mission of the non-profit. That would be truly awful. It actually reminded me of my internship in my freshman year of college. I interned for NOW, and my professors acted like it wasn’t legitimate, like the people interning for groups that work with children, etc. Really pissed me off, and I was surprised at such an obnoxious response to a student who they should be mentoring, not discouraging.

                4. Ego Chamber*

                  @Ren You don’t have enough information to say any of this, you’re making enough speculations to border on writing fanfic in the comments.

                  OP didn’t say whether it was “the last 2 interns” or just 2 interns out of however many. OP’s boss should protest this with the university, definitely, but jumping to accusations of wage theft and discrimination is premature at best and seriously overreacting until they get some information to support those accusations.

                  I’ve been in classes with people who didn’t get credit for things they turned in late—hell, I’ve been that person. This is a normal (serious) penalty and it’s usually done when the student didn’t attempt to make arrangements with the professor (intern says they weren’t given an extension but they also don’t say they ever asked for one, so), and when the thing that was due was really, really late (like more than a week) or has a hard deadline for whatever reason (some schools don’t accept work submitted after the term is over, unless prior arrangements are made).

              2. EPLawyer*

                That at least merits an inquiry. Why are interns that go to this non-profit being denied credit? Are other non-profits having this problem? Is it an issue with how the internship at the non-profit works? Reaching out to the internship coordinator at the university for more information in the spirit of genuinely making sure this internship fits the criteria for the university would be a good idea.

                If the internship itself is not the problem, then they can move on to more specifics of each intern.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Sure, but the OP probably isn’t positioned to do that. The person who’s in charge of their internship, her boss, has specifically said that he’s not doing that.

              3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                The university has done it twice; there’s nothing saying it was the same professor.

                I agree the nonprofit should absolutely find out what they hell is going on. But the OP may not be in a position to do that herself.

                1. Anna*

                  I run internships for my program and if I suddenly decided one of my students was not getting credit for the time they spent on their internships, I would fully expect their internship supervisor to reach out. My program is far more involved in the internship process than most universities, so we expect that kind of communication. This is one area where “standing” means very little. This is the worst kind of injustice because the person it’s happening to has very little power in the situation. I don’t think “standing” comes anywhere into this. It’s not a “real world consequence” if you’re an organization who benefits from unpaid work and can list those interns as volunteers, and can therefore avoid scrutiny for using volunteers. You owe those volunteers maybe a little more, because no matter how you slice it, you’re going to get more out of them than they will out of their internship.

                2. SeluciaMD*

                  My office works with a university program where for a particular undergrad major you need to complete a 450 hour unpaid internship to complete your graduation requirements. We generally host two or three of these interns a year in our office and they’ve all been wonderful. All of the student paperwork required in connection with the internship all gets coordinated through the same person so I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the same professor.

                  I agree there are enough questions here that it warrants some additional investigation but I also want to strongly encourage the OP to advocate for her intern if she can. The professor that runs the program I work with has often been problematic for the students in terms of being able to access online portals they need or getting paperwork for completion sent to them (often for me to complete) in a timely fashion. I’ve found that I have A LOT more influence than the students do in getting this particular professor to be responsive. Being a reliable site where students can have a solid and meaningful internship experience is very valuable to the university which gives us quite a bit of leverage.

                  I think it’s absolutely worth reaching out to the coordinator to see if you can find out what happened – I think the guise of ensuring the “fit” with the program is a good point of entry. But if I found out the university had denied one of my students their credit after 450 hours of work for us (assuming the intern had been strong and reliable) I would definitely be using my power as an organization to see if there was a way to push back on the student’s behalf. I’m not trying to demonize professors by any stretch, but students often feel like they can’t or shouldn’t push back on a professor because of the power dynamics in that relationship. I have a vested interest here because our organization invests a significant amount of staff time – mine and others – managing the intern program and ensuring the students get the experience they need and I don’t know that the university thinks about that perspective when making a decision like this. And its enough of an investment that I feel like determining what’s really going on would be worth my time.

                  I’d hope they wouldn’t make a decision to deny credit lightly, but perhaps they do need to take other factors into consideration and/or have some other process in place to try to ensure a denial of credit is happening when the whole thing is over and everyone’s time has already been spent. And as the host site/organization, we’re arguably better positioned to get the university to examine other factors and/or figure out a better process to ensure fairness.

                  Good luck OP – I hope you are able to help! Or at least get a good resolution to the situation where you can feel OK about the outcome.

              4. Smithy*

                As AAM noted, because it’s a nonprofit – it’s perfectly legal for them to rely on unpaid/volunteer labor. And if anything, this does make me respect a nonprofit a used to work for that would deny anyone’s request for an “internship” but only offered volunteer opportunities. It was a non-US based organization where most requests came from other students not from the country where the ngo was based. If someone pushed for the intern label, she would always say that she didn’t feel she properly understood labor laws on internships – especially in other countries – so it was a straight refusal.

                In the US at least, I have no clue if HR depts reviewing resumes view internships differently than volunteer hours – but for the OP’s NGO there might be at least an ethical argument for going that way.

                1. Shannon*

                  As someone who has hired, I view internships as very slightly different than volunteer hours. An internship implies that there was an attempt to train the intern in a professional setting with a structured learning outcome or project. A volunteer does not have the same implication, as they do not have anyone overseeing their experience. That being said, I would treat them nearly identically for hiring purposes. The only real difference would probably be in the questions I asked during an interview.

              5. Someone Else*

                Not necessarily. Where I went to college it’d be up to the professor what they’ll allow in terms of turning in assignments late. It’s within their purview to say “turn in your final paper late, you automatically fail the assignment” or something equivalent (and if the paper/whatever it was were half the grade and the actual internship were the other half, that means you autofail the class). Whether that’s a good policy or not is a separate issue, but it is within the prof’s purview. So it happening twice would just mean people who interned there ran afoul of this policy twice. What struck me about the letter is that it’s framed as “not giving credit”, but since the internship is for course credit, what happened is more like taking the course and failing the course. If you fail, it’s true you don’t get credit, so I may be splitting hairs, but to me there’s a difference between flat “no credit for you!” as if the internship didn’t count at all vs “you completed this course, including internship, but failed”.
                The bit about other people being late and it not being acceptable for this person makes it sketchier, but given only the information we have, which is thirdhand, it could be a professor being an ass or it could be a reasonable policy and these two interns ran afoul of it. For OP, if they want to still give a great reference for the intern, they can, but there may not be much more than that they can do.

                1. Ego Chamber*

                  I agree with most of this. There’s nothing wrong with OP reaching out to the university and asking what happened, at least to satisfy their own curiosity/make sure there’s nothing going on that would make them want to pull out of offering internships with the university in future.

                  Other people saying the student isn’t getting credit that they deserve really confused me. I’ve taken classes with a lot of people who seem to think that if they paid to take the course, they deserve the credit, regardless of their effort or ability, and a lot of professors get judged based on that assumption. That’s not how school works though. You have to do the work and you have to turn it in on time (or try to make other arrangements, which the professor may or may not allow, depending on your reasoning and university policy).

                2. Callie*

                  I supervise interns (student teachers) at my university. There is no written assignment of which late submission would cause them to fail the internship entirely. I just failed an intern for not showing up and not notifying anyone at his host school… but that’s different than not submitting an assignment exactly on time.

              6. Artemesia*

                Again we only have one side of the story here; we don’t know if the two interns who lost credit had a long history of unreliability with their academic work for the internship. I know it is possible that someone is this pedantic so as to cost the entire semester’s credit over a single late assignment, but I would not assume it was true without hearing from the internship professor.

                1. Lew*

                  I deal with a lot of students and, believe me, it’s common to hear them claim that one event like failing a test (or handing in one thing late) is the reason they’re losing their scholarship/visa/med school prospects. It’s always just one factor among many.

                2. College Professor*

                  I agree with what Lew said. Also, I have denied students credit for a late final assignment when I granted extensions to other students–but it has always because the other students ASKED for an extension in advance and the student I denied just turned it in hoping I wouldn’t notice it was late. Usually in my experience, “granting an extension” implies that the professor knew about it beforehand and agreed to accept it late due to extenuating circumstances. (To be clear, I haven’t ever denied credit for something being just a few minutes or even a couple of hours late, so doing so after one hour seems harsh to me, but I strongly suspect that the student isn’t giving the full story here in any case.)

            2. Spheee*

              In my (admittedly, paid) internship experience even if the academic side was outright failed there was an opportunity to resubmit it. The work hours shouldn’t be discredited unless something is seriously seriously wrong. It’s not fair on either the student or the employer to have months of work written off over something this small, or even really something bigger without an opportunity to change it.

          2. Yorick*

            I suspect the internship class works so that you’re supposed to turn in a large project (that’s a culmination of your entire time at the internship) at the end of the semester. When I did an internship, the project was keeping a journal of sorts about our experience and turning it all in at the end. At schools where I’ve worked, the project is a long paper. It’s meant to show your work at the internship beyond the verification that you worked the sufficient number of hours. Without it, you basically can’t show the school that you learned anything, which is the point of giving academic credit for an internship.

            It sucks to not get credit, but ultimately in school there are deadlines and you can’t just turn something in late without talking to the professor beforehand.

            1. Yorick*

              The point of my post was to say, it’s probably not just “a single assignment,” but rather THE assignment.

              1. KHB*

                Still, it seems absurd that being an hour late with the assignment (assuming that the student’s story is accurate) means losing credit for the whole class. When I was in school, most (non-internship) classes had the policy that you’d get marked down 10% for every day that an assignment was late. And in the very deadline-driven job I have now, being an hour late on a deadline might piss some people off, but you’re not going to get fired for it.

                1. VelociraptorAttack*

                  At the end of the term, deadlines tend to be very hard as there is a certain day grades must be turned in.

                2. Yorick*

                  I used to have a 10% per day policy. Students would try to turn it in on the 10th day (they can’t, because that’s a 0) and claim they were only a few minutes late when I told them no. Uh, actually you’re 10 days and 12 minutes late, not 12 minutes late.

                  As another example, if you’re an hour past the deadline for the professor to submit grades, you’re actually WAY late to submit your assignment.

                3. Clorinda*

                  If ‘an hour late’ is the difference between 11:30 pm and 12:30 am, that’s a day late, and any electronic submissions program would count it as such. At the end of a semester, deadlines really can be that tight.

                4. Yorick*

                  And an electronic submission would lock you out of submitting it late, which means the professor might not have been sitting in his office telling the student no after he ran in to submit it.

                5. ket*

                  To people talking about when grades are due, sure — but student deadlines should be days and days if not a few weeks before when grades are due, because after, profs need time to grade! For instance, my university encourages us to have grades in 3 business days after the final, and grades are truly due on the 27th of December while the last final exam can be scheduled on December 20. There’s just no way that a well-run program will allow a student deadline to be within an hour of a university deadline, or even within a day, because 1) it’s always going to cause pains in the a($ and anyone with an ounce of planning competence or experience will avoid that for entirely self-serving reasons, and 2) there’s no time to evaluate the student work, then, so what’s the point?!!

                6. KHB*

                  In addition to what ket said, if the deadline was a hard stop due to the end-of-term reporting schedule, it wouldn’t have been possible for other students to get extensions on the same assignment.

                  Re the possibility that “an hour late” really means 10 days (or whatever) plus an hour late: Good point. That’s very plausible.

                7. Lavender Menace*

                  @ket – Sure, in theory, the deadline should be ‘days and days’ before when grades are due. In reality, that’s often not possible. At the university where I used to teach classes, it was usual practice for classes to end a few days before grades were due and a week or two before graduation. For example, in 2019, the last day of classes is May 6, and final exams are May 10 to May 17. Commencement is May 22, which is just three business days later. Often, final grades for the seniors were due the Monday after exams ended, two days before Commencement, which basically guaranteed that you would be grading all weekend if your course’s finals were scheduled on Thursday or Friday (which was not under your control as a professor; the university had a global exam schedule that was dependent upon what time your class was offered), or if you decided to make your final paper due during exam week so students could use study/reading days to complete it. And grades for everyone else where usually due on Commencement day, so you didn’t get much longer.

                8. Ego Chamber*

                  @Yorick “And an electronic submission would lock you out of submitting it late,”

                  I think this depends on the system and the settings. Blackboard and Brightspace have never locked me out of submitting something late, even when I was way past the due date (like weeks), and some professors still take assignments by email (lol why?).

            2. Dust Bunny*


              I have a whole lot of friends in academia and they all make it very clear when assignments are due and that they do not accept late work . . . and students still try to pull all kinds of nonsense on them. One guy just up and told his professor he was going to turn in an assignment when he got back from his honeymoon (four days late), even though he’d known all semester when it was due.

              I guarantee you this student had plenty of warning about when he needed to have this assignment in. Not getting credit for an internship is a very forseeable consequence of not handing in the related assignment on time.

              (As a side note, I’m reading “this is the second time this has happened to an intern from our program” but I don’t think that I’m actually seeing that it didn’t happen to students from other programs. Do you know for a fact that it only happened to students from your organization, or might you only have heard about those two incidents because they were the ones related to your organization?)

              1. Dr. Pepper*

                That’s what I’m thinking. I’ve taught college classes; I’ve heard all the excuses why an assignment couldn’t be turned in on time. Each and every student thinks their excuse is so original and so valid……… and I’ve heard it five times already that semester. Different professors have different policies, and if there is one *huge* assignment, very often it’s a hard and fast deadline. This is usually made abundantly clear multiple times throughout the semester. Otherwise *everyone* is going to be begging for an extension on it.

                I’m not trying to bag on the student, the system may very well be unfair. It’s just that I’ve heard “but it’s so unfair!” so many times if an extension isn’t granted when it really….. wasn’t unfair at all.

                1. blackcat*

                  And my experience is generally that the students who totally deserve an extension/special circumstances try to work out a solution. That doesn’t always happen, but it does a lot of the time.
                  One semester, a students’ dad died during exam period. She asked, super politely and apologetically, if there was any way she could take the final exam using digital proctoring, before she left (as in, that moment, 12 hours after she got the phone call that he had died), or after she could get back and forth to her home country (international student, part of a religion where burials happen within X days). She proposed multiple solutions that were all very reasonable and was totally shocked when I 1) asked why she had come to see me in person when an email would have been fine and 2) said I would check with my chair, but I was inclined to simply waive the final exam and assign her a grade based on her work to date (which is what happened. Chair said that he would go to bat for me if breaking departmental/university policies caused any problems).

                2. Dust Bunny*

                  I’m emailing socially right now with a classmate (she’s in grad school) who has had two deaths in her close family and has a sibling who is going through a massive personal crisis, and she’s all like, “Do you think I should ask for an extension on this paper?”. She wants an extra three days. It’s not even a huge part of her grade, and she’s in excellent standing in the class otherwise.

                  Uh, yeah. This is exactly the kind of situation for which extensions exist.

              2. Lindsay gee*

                Speaking from academia I completely agree. Unless this school/intern program is a dumpster fire, at the beginning of the semester you get the syllabus with all the course assignments and dates that they’re due. I don’t know about internships, but I’ve had classes where 60% or more of the grade is based off one assignment or the exam. If you show up an hour late to an exam, you don’t get tot write the exam. If the final assignment was basically the summation of the course for credit, then yeah, I’d have a hard time accepting it as late. Also, the OP doesn’t know the circumstances of whether other students weren’t penalized for late assignments, or whether they had prior approval etc. etc.
                I think this is one of those real world consequences that overlaps between school and work. I think the OP is relying heavily on benefit of the doubt when the reality of academia doesn’t usually work that way

                1. ket*

                  When students show up an hour late to an exam (speaking as a professor) I hand them the paper and admonish them to write fast.

                  I don’t let them stay late, but I don’t see the point of these arbitrary decisions like “you can’t write the exam because you were late”. I’m not inconvenienced by staying for the same amount of time I’d be there anyway. I won’t inconvenience myself for student cluelessness, but there’s no need to go out of my way to be punitive either.

                2. Dust Bunny*

                  Yeah, there has been discussion on here before about how school is not work and . . . school is still not work.

                3. anon professor*

                  Ket, what do you do if a student comes an hour late when another student has finished the exam in 50 minutes? Do you make all of your students stay in class until the end of the period even if they finish their exam early? Or accept the possibility that the student who finished early may have given information about the exam to the student who arrived late? Just curious as another professor; it’s helpful to me to know how others think about situations that I also encounter.

              3. Marty*

                I can’t speak for the OP’s program but it is absolutely possible that the intern’s perspective is… let’s just say, a *perspective* on the truth. I’ve had everything from “sorry, the computer submission button didn’t work!” to “I haven’t handed in a single assignment all term despite weekly reminders and I will lie point blank to your face despite computer records showing that I never even attempted to do so… gimme my diploma!!!”. It’s really mind-boggling what some adult students will pull.

                That said, I agree with the advice: ask permission to speak to them directly. On face value, it sounds incredibly harsh to pull credit for so much work, and I’m sure there must be at least one program supervisor who might do this, but my professor spidey-sense is tingling. For one, it sure doesn’t make US look great, so what’s going on here?

                1. Artemesia*

                  I am jaded on this having heard every excuse too. One common ploy is to submit a garbage file and claim it is a computer problem. Each time someone has pulled that, I have just emailed back ‘print it out and have it in my mailbox in hard copy by 8 am tomorrow morning’. If they have it but the file somehow didn’t send properly, they can do it. If they are shining me on they can’t.

                  I also had a very systematic way of checking work in so I knew if it had been turned in. I never lost a paper. On a couple of occasions when a grad student had not turned in a paper and I actually doubted myself as they come in at random times, I would send a vague email inquiring about X assignment. In every one of those cases, the students mailed back that they were behind and would have it in soon. So no, I didn’t somehow fail to get it recorded.

                  Students are good at drama about all the unfairness and I would simply never assume this intern’s story was the whole story without more information. Perhaps if it was ‘one assignment’ it was THE assignment and too late to make the grade deadlines. Or perhaps this is SOP for this intern.

            3. ket*

              Speaking as s a prof here, sure, you *can* just not accept it, but more usually if it’s an hour late you dock the grade a bit. You can have consequences without failing to give credit for 100+ hours of work!

              1. Alice*

                As a student in Australia, this is my experience, plus most universities here have policies in place so a lecturer cannot just not accept late work before a certain amount of time has passed after the due date (usually around 5 days but varies across universities), and the amount taken off is consistent also (between 5-10% per day depending on the university in question). Even with that, most lecturers will practice some discretion surrounding providing extensions (they are mandated for documented reasons, but most will give an extension if you give them enough notice, even if it’s just that you’re overwhelmed or have several assignments due in the same week), plus they also generally don’t even take off marks if something is submitted nominally late, I know I’ve definitely submitted things 6 minutes late with no penalty and friends have said they’ve been given up to an hour or two grace period, so this entire dilemma seems completely unreasonable to me. Other commenters have suggested it’s normal in the USA, though, and he could be stretching the truth, but failing someone outright for submitting something even a day or two late seems overly strict by our standards.

              2. JM60*

                I know I’m a bit late, but…

                Additionally, even if he was very neglectful, there should still be ways to credit the student for their work such as giving them an incomplete or failing them, but letting some or all of their good count towards the internship of they re-take it in the future. Not crediting the student for this work seems unethical unlike most failing academic work. After all, if they were an employee, they’d be legally required to pay them, even if they got fired for shirking some responsibilities.

            4. ZarinC*

              Another college professor here–I oversee a laboratory science internship program along with the internship “class” which is the work experience credit/support class. Students get 1-3 units of credit depending on how many hours they put it over the semester (exact hours must be verified by the internship host lab) . At the end of the internship, they have to do a poster presentation along with a written report. All assignments and deadlines are clearly stated in the syllabus which we go over on the first day. Students can always do volunteer internships on their own terms–no one forces them to take the class. They are not being cheated or abused. They know going in that they will not be getting paid. They still gain hands-on experience, and possibly references and contacts to build their career network. But if they want to get college credit, they have to do the assignments/work, and submit it on time.
              I have had the situation come up several times over the years where a student intern gets very excited about the lab work (it’s new, it’s hands-on, it’s real life etc.) and so they put all their energy into that and proceed to blow off the class assignments. So the host site thinks the intern is the greatest thing ever, but at the same time they are failing the class.

      2. Airy*

        Yeah, I wouldn’t assume the intern is lying but I did immediately wonder whether OP had any information other than what the intern said. There could be a bigger context that OP can’t see from their end. Sometimes people aren’t even intentionally hiding things but don’t realise what you don’t know so they don’t mention it.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Yep! I can see this being a situation where the student doesn’t know why others were allowed to be late.

          Also I know a lot of people who wrongly assume they know one thing and they didn’t do anything wrong. Only yes, they’ve done plenty of things wrong but forgot that they were warned before or such.

        2. JSPA*

          If OP has managed the intern for so long, presumably she has some sense on how reliable they are. If the intern were the sort to not understand the rules, space out on deadlines, ignore warnings, misrepresent a situation or misconstrue circumstances, OP might reasonably assume she’d have noticed that.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              This. People can act differently in different contexts.

              And the intern doesn’t have to be malicious to be misinformed. (e.g. Students who arranged in advance to turn something in late, versus those who were caught by surprise by that deadline sneaking up on them and rolling into the rearview mirror.)

          1. nnn*

            I’d add that if OP has managed the intern for so long, they’ve likely seen more of the intern’s work and behaviour than the professor has.

          2. Artemesia*

            The two situations are not the same. Many unreliable students are actually pretty good on the job. It is odd that one immediately assumes the prof is a sadistic monster and the student just made a tiny mistake.

        3. Blue*

          I agree. I’ve worked very closely with college students for over a decade, and when you get a story like this, there’s almost always something more going on. Sometimes the student is glossing over a key detail they may or may not realize is important, but often students just don’t recognize the larger context. Many of them see things in black and white (“my friend was able to do this, so I should be able to as well”), when, in fact, there’s a ton of gray and context means the circumstances are completely different.

          If OP is given the ok, I think it would make sense for them to make contact with the internship coordinator at the university to see if there’s a misunderstanding they can help correct, but they should go in asking questions rather than assuming they already have the full story.

          1. SunshineOH*

            This. I also wouldn’t assume the student is lying, but OP should be cautiously aware that she only has one side of the story. Don’t go into it with guns blazing.

            1. Washi*

              I agree with this. Especially regarding asking for an extension, students don’t always have a good sense of when that’s appropriate and when it’s not. If the supervisor were going to pursue this, I would recommend taking a look at the student’s syllabus first. “It’s too bad you won’t get credit for your work with us! Could you show me your syllabus? It might be possible for me to speak to your university, but I want to make sure I have all the facts straight.”

              I’ve known super hardcore professors who won’t accept work even an hour late, but in that case it’s typically been spelled out pretty clearly in the syllabus and in class. That extra context might help OP decide how much capital to spend on this.

            2. Delphine*

              I don’t know how much this matters. Your credit for an internship shouldn’t rest solely on your ability to produce a paper. The student has nothing to show for actual labor–labor that would in any other circumstance be paid–because he sent a paper in late?

              1. Sarah N*

                At least at my university, for accreditation purposes, academic credit for internships MUST be accompanied by an academic component. There’s no simply getting academic credit for internship hours. Students who wish to pursue internships NOT for academic credit do still get something out of it — the work experience, line on their resume, letter of recommendation if they did well, networking contacts, leads on future jobs, etc. That’s why people choose to do unpaid internships, after all. I certainly do agree with the general criticisms of unpaid internships — but still, it’s not like the student is leaving with nothing here.

            3. Airy*

              It’s a bit like a situation that came up in Slate’s Ask a Teacher column this week, where the LW said their son’s writing teacher had told the class there would only be one student who got an A, so he thought there was no point in working hard when the teacher might just hold his grade down at a B regardless of quality so there’d be only one A. A key point in the response was that that frankly sounded really weird and unfair to be predetermined and it was possible the son had misheard what the teacher was saying about how difficult it is to get an A, so the parent’s first question should be not “Why are you depriving all but one of your students of an A?” but “Sonny said you said this in class – is that correct or did he misunderstand?”

      3. Yorick*

        Yeah, students always think that their error is nbd and I’m unfair because everyone else did the same thing and got away with it, but they’re wrong.

        Like, I write out bullet points about what is wrong with their essay, in order from most serious to least serious. The last one will be something like “you forgot to include issue numbers on your reference page” and they will tell people I failed them because of a tiny mistake on the reference page.

        1. Artemesia*

          LOL. Absolutely. Or ‘she gave me a C for spelling on the philosophy paper and didn’t care what I thought’ when the thoughts are, well, C level. Feedback is more difficult now that people use computers because it is easy to correct a sentence without re-typing the whole paper, so it is very difficult to get students to really re-write and not just respond to specific feedback like the reference page number but not to global feedback on organization, depth of thought etc etc. I found using rubrics that did focus on intellectual aspects of the papers as well as technical aspects helped a little, but the tendency is still for students to tweak a sentence or add a sentence rather than rewrite the central argument.

      4. Kes*

        Add me to the list of people who are skeptical that OP really has the full story. I think it’s very likely that there’s more going on, the students who did get extensions had good reasons for them, etc. It’s great that OP wants to support their intern, but honestly I think they should stay out of it.

    2. CC*

      I’m a professor and I find the intern’s story very suspect. I could maybe see a particularly bad/unforgiving professor doing this, and perhaps giving students’ extensions if they asked ahead of time, but not if they just did not do the assignment. I think contacting the university, ideally the professor themselves, would be the best approach if possible.

      1. TL -*

        And the majority of professors I’ve had dock grades for late work (they almost always have an official policy in the syllabus!), rather than refuse to accept at all.

        The only time I could see that being an issue if it was the deadline for grades to be submitted to the registrar’s office.

          1. Yorick*

            They can be amended if there’s an error, but there’s no cause for that. If a student didn’t turn in his assignment by the final, FINAL deadline, that’s an F.

            1. Irina*

              There was someone who could lie better than any rug. She got a few grades at the end of a semester put off for the next several months, because she was lazy, new to college. So there are ways that the final grades and final assignments (what she was lacking in every one) could be put off potentially for a loooong time. To the professors commenting, some of the people you believe are telling the truth, some are great at lying and crying their way to what they want. Another young woman I knew was in the middle of her semester, sophomore or junior year, when she was physically beaten by a relative of hers. She went to the professors, and hadn’t kept up with the work since she was in the hospital and (unfortunately waited) spoke with the prof at the end of the semester, explaining what happened and the prof brushed her off, told her she was failing, and that was it. So policies and people reading others can go wrong often.

              1. Academic Addie*

                >So policies and people reading others can go wrong often.

                I don’t think anyone has said that this kid must be a liar or that the policy is definitely reasonable. But many of us are adding context, especially in the form of writing out the things that constrain us as professors. Deadlines, what constitutes appropriate finals per our administration, what lenience we are able to give. The situation isn’t honest vs. liar, or compassion vs. hard-nosedness. I have regulations: I must collect a final during the finals period. I cannot collect a final assignment after the designated finals period. It doesn’t matter how strongly I have compassion for someone. All I can do if they’re late is direct them for how to appeal the grade to be an incomplete rather than a fail.

                I think the emerging consensus in the comments of “Be aware there may be more to the story” is a good one.

        1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

          And often you get an incomplete rather than just outright failing for an experience-based course like this rather than outright failing- there’s something weird here. I’m not sure if it’s an unreasonably stringent professor or a student who was missing assignments, but it’s weird.

          1. Artemesia*

            I worked in a setting where an incomplete was a giant big deal that had to be applied for and there needed to be good reason — usually something like illness, or family emergency. They could not just be given without that petition in hand.

      2. AnonyNurse*

        I agree that this seems odd. I host students in clinical placements and am provided with a syllabus, expectations, course policies, and evaluation materials. The student’s university should be able to furnish that to the OP which may shed light on the issue. The most generous interpretation I can think of that could be almost-accurate is if the student submitted work an hour after the *term* closed out which could be a hard line for the university and the extensions other students received were actually grades of incomplete. I find it odd that the student said they weren’t getting credit, not that they failed the course. Presumably the student enrolled in a class, which necessitates a grade.

        The consequence as laid out by the OP is pretty incongruous with the offense, especially if the student paid tuition for this internship, the substance of which was completed successfully.

        1. BTDT*

          I’m a student with an internship requirement and I also thought the term ending might explain the hardline stance. “I got no credit” likely means a grade below C (which might mean it won’t count toward graduation requirements), or an incomplete. When we have hard deadlines they are communicated over and over. The amount of hand-holding we get in order to stay on track is WAY higher than people get in jobs. (Ex. I get phone notification reminders of assignment deadlines.) Is it possible this professor is arbitrary and unreasonable? Sure. Is it likely? Not based on my experience.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            ““I got no credit” likely means a grade below C”

            This is a good point. I personally refer to classes where I didn’t get credit as “failed” but I know a lot of people aren’t comfortable saying that and/or would rather hold to the technicality.

            If the intern turned in their final assignment late, which resulted in a penalty to their grade on that assignment, which combined with other sub-par work to result in a D overall, that totally makes sense.

        2. Chocolate lover*

          Technically, at most universities, the students are paying tuition for the internship course/academic credit itself, not the internship directly. At my university, you still have to complete all the associated requirements of the class to receive the credit (just like any other credit-earning class), in addition to the internship itself.

      3. AcademiaNut*

        Yes, this. Go in with an attitude of worried curiosity, rather than with guns blazing. Tell them what the student told you, and ask if it really is the case that the student gets no credit for their internship based on being one hour late.

        Also, if teach or TA university classes, you get pretty cynical pretty fast about undocumented sad student stories, particularly the ones told after the deadline has passed (students coming in with a verifiable issue as soon as they know there’s a problem are a totally different situation). So I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there is more to this story than you’ve been told, like the student submitted the documentation for the internship an hour after the deadline for grades to be registered at the university level, or that he was one hour late on *this* assignment, but had been late or not handed stuff in repeatedly in the past and this pushed him over the line for an incomplete or fail.

        1. Yorick*

          I mean, students often don’t tell a sad story. They just wait until the deadline is passed and say “haha, I didn’t do my assignment yet, can I turn it in tomorrow?”

        2. ket*

          It is worth checking carefully. I have a student this semester who started a senior writing project with me in September, and told me then he intended to graduate in December. This is required for graduation.

          In November I was checking over my registration and noticed he hadn’t registered for the class. After talking to him, he started eventually to make the effort to register for the class and got registered through a special petition around Thanksgiving. Red flags here, but it’s a class where you need permission to register and maybe he got confused about the process. I figured if he could get registered he’d still have the threat of not graduating incentivizing him to finish this thing.

          It’s December 14 and the term ends soon. I’ve gotten one draft, a week ago, in which he mentions that the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Italy, and Serbia were allies in World War 2.

          If he fails this class and so fails to graduate, he will have some sad stories to tell about this class — but I’ll bet you $20 they won’t match *my* sad story about this class.

        3. Also a university professor*

          Agree with the advice if you speak to the school to be concerned but not guns blazing. It’s very unlikely you have the whole story. The only time I have ever heard of a department considering not granting credit for an internship was when the student didn’t submit the paperwork to the school that they were doing the internship for credit until well into the internship or after the internship was complete.

      4. Pippa*

        Also a professor, and came here to say the same thing. There’s likely more to the story. I alone can’t ‘revoke’ course credit for a student. I can assign a failing grade for the academic portion of an internship for university credit. In that case not only would it not count toward graduation requirement, it would also badly damage the student’s GPA. Different universities have different rules, of course, but the ‘not getting credit after all’ scenario (as opposed to ‘getting an F’) usually comes from not registering the internship for course credit properly in advance, not completing the academic components, etc.

        Just as an example: one of my students has so far failed to submit a major required project. If she gets it to me an hour after the registrar closes grading for the semester, she might say that it was only an hour late, but I’ll have assigned her a grade of F. Because (1) no, it’s weeks late, without requesting an extension, and (2) it is literally not possible for me to file a grade after the registrar closes the system, so wherever things stood by the deadline is what gets filed.

          1. Yorick*

            And I think sometimes an internship can be a pass/fail where you get credit for the hours but it doesn’t affect GPA

        1. Academic Addie*

          I completely agree with all of this. It’s also worth noting that university policies might be more or less stringent. I, for example, could accept late work after the final. I can give a final later as a disability accommodation. But I must do something during the finals period, and there are no accommodations on file for the student, I cannot give the final later. If the final was “bring by your internship journal by the end of our finals period (3 pm Thursday Dec. 14) and we’ll do a debriefing”, and someone came by at 4 pm, I couldn’t accept it without accommodations appropriately filed.

        2. Professor Ronny*

          Another professor and ex department chair here. You most likely can change the grade after the deadline and after the registrar closes the system. After all, what if you realized you made an error? It most likely involves some paperwork (a change of grade form) and department chair and/or dean approval.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            It doesn’t seem like anyone here doesn’t know this, but it does seem like most universities have policies that explain when a final grade can be amended and why—like for an error, or due to an accommodation, not just because the student turned the work in after the deadline with no explanation.

    3. Mommy MD*

      I doubt an entire semester of work was pulled over one assignment being late. I bet there’s more to the story.

    4. LGC*

      Yeah, that set off some flags for me as well. Taking the intern at his word, his professor is comically evil and LW1’s boss…doesn’t understand how jobs work.

      …to be fair, even if Intern is pulling Shenanigans and told the professor that the dog ate his internship, I still have questions about the boss. He seems to not only take the intern at his word, but also feels that what the professor did (withholding a grade for one late assignment that was submitted after the deadline) was appropriate. There should be consequences, but you don’t normally fire people for one-off tardiness.

      1. Jamey*

        Worse than firing someone… this would be like not paying them for the last 4 months for being tardy once.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          No, this is like not letting your employee sign up for benefits because they turned the paperwork in after the deadline. Which is something that happens at work. There were a few every year and they ended up without insurance when their excuse was “I didn’t get around to it until it was too late but YOUHAVETOFIXIT.”

      2. Turquoisecow*

        Is it possible the boss knows more of the story than OP but doesn’t want to share it for some reason?

        1. LGC*

          Perhaps, but I still think what he said made him sound banana crackers. He didn’t have to go into detail but he could have hinted there was more to the story.

          (Or maybe he did and LW1 didn’t pick up on it!)

    5. Asenath*

      Universities usually have very specific course requirements and deadlines, with penalties for missing them and procedures for getting and exception, laid out at the beginning of the course. They also have appeals procedures, also carefully laid out and readily accessible. Since it appears that this assignment is part of the university side of the intern’s program, I would think any late penalties would come under the university regulations, and the student should appeal through the university process. Yes, superficially, it does appear unlikely that a single late assignment would result in failing the course, but like others, I suspect only one side of the story is being provided by the student.

      1. FirstTimeCaller*

        Ehhhh… I’ve had this vary WILDLY from professor to professor and uni to uni. Some professors do lay every detail and procedure out at the beginning but many do not.

        1. Asenath*

          Maybe it varies from university to university – but the one I’m most familiar with has the same policies university-wide, and if an instructor did not ensure that the student had the full details of evaluation deadlines and consequences by the appropriate date, that alone could be cause for the student to file a complaint. Likewise, of course, if the fact that you would fail the course if certain work wasn’t done by the deadline wasn’t made totally clear at the beginning of the course.

        2. ChachkisGalore*

          Yeah… this. I went to a college (10 yrs ago, so maybe things have changed) that relied on a lot of adjunct professors – particularly ones without traditional academic backgrounds and more real world experience in the field. Which was a blessing and a curse (sometimes both within the same class). I had some that were amazing teachers in that that they had so much real world applicable knowledge to share, but at the same time some were severely lacking in classroom/teaching plan organizational skills.

          I’m sure they were all given some sort of baseline requirements (ie: you must provide a syllabus) – but it was clear that some of them had no idea what sort of information should be included on said syllabus or how much material and what sort of assignments are realistic to cover within one semester.

          My main point is – is there more to this story? Probably… However, I’ve definitely encountered professors that were either very unclear on deadlines or were bizarrely rigid/on huge power trips, so I also don’t think its impossible that the student could be telling whole story.

    6. So long and thanks for all the fish*

      I wonder if the OP might do best to encourage the student to talk to the dean/chair of the department, if her manager won’t let her do it. If the student is telling the truth and it’s just an overly strict professor, someone over his head might be able to help.

      1. Former Prof*

        Yes, encouraging the student to deal with this would be the best. I would NOT suggest that the letter writer go straight to the university without discussing it first with the student. If there is more to the story (and I imagine that is the case), the student might be mortified that his hard-to-believe story shared back to his university faculty/deans–might be quite embarrassing for him.

  4. Seal*

    #4 – Don’t want to read into this too much, but if one of my employees gave me a book on leadership as a gift I’d wonder if they were trying to tell me something.

    1. Artemesia*

      Yes this is one that only works if there is positive context e.g. the particular book has been mentioned in conversation and the boss has expressed interest or there has been a general discussion of the ‘great new book.’ This one feels like a dig.

      1. valentine*

        OP4, depersonalize by making it an office book. Maybe have a little office-only library everyone can borrow. You can tell everyone the no-gift script now, to avoid anyone getting ideas about your birthday or boss’ day.

        1. Michio Pa*

          This is exactly what I came to say. Avoid the awkward and say, “Hey everyone, Newbie kindly gave me this book and I love it! I’ll leave it on my desk in case anyone wants to borrow it. And just so you know, going forward, no gifts up please!”

    2. Flash Bristow*

      My thought as well.

      But I still think all you can really do is say “how kind”, file it, and then say no more about it until next year – just as Alison suggests. Even if it is intended as a gag gift, I don’t think there’s much more you can do.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I thought about that too! But I think it really depends on the book. If it’s a primer on how to manage, then yeah, there’s a message there. But if it’s something like, I don’t know, a Warren Buffet biography, I don’t think it would carry the same message.

      1. Perse's Mom*

        This one’s a bit awkward for me. When my team lead was promoted to my supervisor, I got her your book as a congratulatory gift!

    4. JSPA*

      Struck me as a “managing up” move. That is, likely a message or would-be helpful advice, but not necessarily a “dig.” Alternatively, it may be a ham-handed way the employee is trying to signal that they consider themselves management material, and are already reading books to learn how. If you like the employee–you could ask them if there’s a section that they found particularly relevant to your field or otherwise helpful? And then do read the relevant section.

      (If it’s Warren Buffet, just enjoy it. The Bershire annual reports are gems.)

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m pretty sure the message was “I should get Boss a gift. I will go to the book store, to the business section, and look for a business gift. Aha, “Leading with Awesome.” Everyone wants to be awesome.”

        1. Tehmorp*

          haha, which is why, maybe don’t give gifts to people you don’t know well. and don’t give books you didn’t read yourself and love! (if it’s in someone else’s area of interest but not yours…you are probably not a qualified judge on whether it is worth having.)

      1. Ama*

        Yeah, many years ago I had a boss who quit unexpectedly and when she did she left me a book on improving your blog writing. Since I didn’t write a blog for work but wrote for two in my personal life at the time I was never sure whether she’d found one or both of them or just remembered that we’d talked about my outside writing projects once or twice and that’s why she gave it to me.

        I suppose I could have interpreted it as “I found your blogs and you should work on your writing,” but I actually think she was trying to be supportive, so I don’t think that’s what she meant.

      2. Minerva McGonagall*

        Totally did that at OldJob. Mentor traveled a lot over holidays to see family, so a for a few years I got him a different Chernow book-Titan (Rockefeller), House of Morgan-and he loved them since we always talked history and he had a long career in PR/finance/business-y things before teaching. It was also only two of us in our department so there wasn’t a pile of gifts flowing his way.

    6. CoveredInBees*

      If this were a longer term report, I’d read something into it but the sense I got from OP was that this team was pretty recently formed.

    7. Nervous Accountant*

      That was exactly my first thought, that they’re trying to tell you something. Kind of like giving someone who smells soap as a gift.

      Although, I did order 2 copies of Alison’s book and I gave one to my manager–but we have a good, friendly relationship and he didn’t take it the wrong way at all. But if someone on my team were to give me something, I’d be…WTH?

    8. Tigger*

      We had this happen at my old job. We had a book club and my boss asked us for books we wanted to read. He chooses “Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box” recommended by someone in the club that thought the manager would benefit in reading it. It did not even well once my boss realized his management style was one the book was trying to avoid.

    9. The New Wanderer*

      I don’t see any hidden meaning to it. I think it’s like what Falling Dipthong said, wanting to give a token gift to your new manager + limited knowledge of the manager’s interests = management book.

      FWIW I have only received two holiday gifts from managers in 20 years of working, and both were books about my field – no implied message about “do your job better”, just “you will probably enjoy this as it’s about the field you like.”

  5. thankful for AAM.*

    OP #1- There should be an appeal process at the student’s university. He can ask for a review and make a case for several g this decision.

    1. misspiggy*

      That’s a great point – OP could ask the intern who is the contact for the appeal, and write to them as a character reference.

  6. Flash Bristow*

    OP3, I worked at a company that was like family – then layoffs happened. We still had annual socials, and it was a chance to catch up. And Ive met up with my ex-manager from a different job, at a leaving do to which I was invited.

    If they are friendly people and are likely to say “hi! How you doing?” AND if you’re genuinely able to talk engagingly / optimistically (rather than “I’m still unemployed, I’m broke and miserable”) then I say go! You can always make excuses and leave if it’s awkward, right?

    But this presumes it really is a general social. If it’s more of a meal, with spoof (or real) awards for workers, and speeches etc, then you might feel more awkward (and your presence might make others feel awkward too). I’m also wondering if it’s got anything like a free bar – would it be awkward for you to be drinking on your old company’s dime? At any rate please don’t drink much, whoever’s paying! Have fun but keep your behaviour appropriate.

    Did you go to the company social last year? What was it like? If informal and fun then I think you’re fine, but use your knowledge and judgement.

    If you go, I hope you have fun.

    1. OP #3*

      I did end up going! It was very informal with no speeches or anything. Just an open bar and a photo booth at a restaurant.

      Everyone was friendly and excited that I obtained a better job!

  7. Gaia*

    OP 3 this is really a “know your company” situation. Just this past weekend I attended the holiday party of OldJob that laid me off this fall. I did so because I have several great relationships with coworkers and the holiday party is one of the biggest social events they hold each year (which is saying something considering how well attended their other events are) and because we have a history of past employees still attending the holiday party and summer bbq events. In fact, this weekend had not just me, but an employee that quit 3 years ago, one that left 2 years ago and 3 people that left within the last year. At OldJob, particularly this site, it is a point of pride in their culture that people stay in touch and remain part of the larger group even as they move on.

    Plenty of other jobs I’d never even dream of it because it would be so weird and uncomfortable.

    1. Tin Cormorant*

      Definitely. I worked at a video game company, and like most, it was really laid back. We had pretty swanky holiday parties, but we’d almost always have people show up who didn’t have invitations, whether they got laid off or quit or actually never even worked there but just knew a lot of people! The industry’s pretty small and people move around a lot, so everybody ends up being friends with everybody else. It was always okay and people really loved having a chance to chat with their friends at the party, regardless of whether they currently worked at the same company. I actually crashed the party myself the year I quit and it was great to see everybody again.

      1. Michio Pa*

        A friend works at a video game company where their holiday party is open to all sorts of guests: friends, acquaintances, S.O.s, probably laid off workers as well as long as it’s not awkward. It’s more of a networking event anyway. This seems like a know-your-company deal to me.

      2. Justin*

        Yeah, I think that’s similar to how media companies work most likely, like film, TV, magazines, etc. It’s a different world.

  8. Greg NY*

    #1: Maybe not an employment question, but it bears asking in the context of the letter: is it even permissible by most colleges and universities to fail someone for the entire course if one assignment is late? In every class I’ve ever been in, you get no credit for that assignment, but it in no way cancels out your grades for the other assignments or reports you did in that course. I’m not even sure what this professor did can stand. And possibly even more concerning is why they selectively granted extensions to other students but not them. Favoritism wasn’t acceptable when I was in college.

    I really don’t think you need your manager’s permission to contact the university. It’s his job to do so, but when he abdicates his duty, I think you have a moral duty to advocate for the two students that have suffered a horrible fate. You may also want to consider whether you want to continue working for such a manager who is blind to reality. Another alternative, for now, is to go above his head and have his manager step in. It’s a situation where doing so would be justified.

    1. Viki*

      Depending on the context the way it’s given. If they’re given this as the drop deadline is 11:59 pm and it is noted that there are no exceptions in the syllabus, and they’re given the deadline at the beginning of the course and it is weighted at 50+ % of their grade than yes, it does.

      There are deadlines that are firm and failure to meet them, do result in failure.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      She wouldn’t have needed her manager’s permission if they’d never discussed it. But now that they have and the manager has specifically said he’s decided they shouldn’t, if the OP goes ahead and does it anyway, that’s pretty insubordinate and could end up being a real problem for the OP. It’s not something to recommend lightly.

    3. MK*

      It’s pretty clear from the letter that the student isn’t being failed only for turning an assignment late, they are simply not receiving credit for that assignment. The OP says the student might fail, possibly because they don’t have enough credit to pass once this assignment is cancelled. Also, other people getting extensions might not be due to favouritism but objective reasons it is appropriate for them to receive them.

      1. Limenotapple*

        One objective reason could be that this was a pattern.
        I work with college students and like someone above said, there could be the odd professor who really is that strict, but it’s also very likely that this wasn’t the first time. One thing I have noticed in almost every case of hearing stories like this from students is that there is usually more to it.
        Also, because of FERPA, the school may not be able to respond even if you did write to them, unless the student specifically signed a waiver of FERPA rights. I’m not sure if that waiver is standard or not.

        1. JSPA*

          As with speaking to someone’s doctor, there can be real value in a one-way conversation. Starting the conversation by saying that you understand that privacy laws may prevent them from telling you anything, but that you would like to tell them [whatever it is].

          In this case, that the intern was a credit to the program, and it makes you heartsick to think that they might not get credit for their unpaid months of work. You can make it clear that you have no way of knowing the back story, and are not prying, but that it makes you very uncomfortable, on a personal level.

          One caveat; internships, if unpaid, are generally supposed to be for the benefit of the student (though I’m not sure how being a nonprofit affects that?) with the business not deriving any overall benefit from the work. But supervisors of interns parse that in different ways. Some treat it as a shadowing situation (intern largely uses their eyes, not their hands). Some do a lot of teaching and hand off real tasks, breaking even that way.

          So–maybe go in saying that some people treat internships as “little effort expended on the intern, little benefit from the intern,” but that you put real time and effort into interns, and get real time and effort from them–and therefore hope that your opinion of the intern would carry extra weight.

          I’d tell your boss something similar. Or even that you don’t feel comfortable having an intern if the effort you put into them and the effort they put out is not more reliably reflected in their getting a grade.

          And I’d check in with the intern if they can take an “incomplete.” Graduating a semester late may be imperfect (or prohibitively expensive) but if not, at least they’d get the credit eventually.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            The nonprofit aspect means you can accept volunteers. If you’re a for-profit–this came up in the context of a comic book store running community events–then you can’t let people volunteer to help out your store and not pay them.

        2. Antilles*

          I can’t speak for this university in particular, but the one I went to and others that my Professional Job hires interns for tend to have clear rules on how to get credit. And they won’t deny your credits unless you’re flagrantly missing the mark – not that you turned in a report a few minutes late, but like, “you were supposed to be submitting monthly reports the entire time and I haven’t seen a single sentence”.
          It’s certainly possible that the “assignment was one hour late” was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but I have serious doubts as to whether that alone would be enough unless it’s part of an enormous pattern.

        3. Smarty Boots*

          The student can waive FERPA for their internship manager if they wish — it’s up to the student.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      It depends on how much that assignment is worth, and how well they did in the rest of the course. If a student was sailing along at a 55% average, and the final essay was worth 30% of the grade, then getting a zero would result in a fail. This happens a lot. Other professors won’t give a zero, but will have a policy where the late penalty makes it not at all worth while to take those extra couple of days to do the work – like losing 20% of the mark per day.

      Also, getting an extension depends a lot on why a student needs it. A student who had a serious illness is likely to get the extension, a student who just didn’t get it done is not. A student who comes in before the deadline, with a documented reason, may get it, and the student who comes in three days after the extension to ask for another week to finish it probably won’t. This also happens a lot.

      1. Dr. Pepper*

        Yup. And if this is specifically an internship credit course, this assignment may be the entirety of the grade. So turning it in late does in fact matter and failing to do the assignment as directed may indeed result in failing the course.

        There’s a big difference between a student who comes in well ahead of the deadline and asks for extra help or an extension, citing a real reason besides a thinly veiled “I just didn’t get around to it”, and a student who screeches up to your office the day the thing is due with all kinds of excuses to plead for more time. But guess which one is going to parade around with “my professor is such a jerk and so unfair, I only screwed up a teeny weeny little thing!”

        1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

          Somewhat off topic, but this reminds me of my least favorite coworker. She’s taking a course to become a nurse practitioner. She’s one of those people who does EVERYTHING on speakerphone, so I overheard her complaining to a friend that her professor was so strict and so tough, because if you didn’t get the diagnosis right she marked down your whole case study. The friend probably thought the professor was super strict, but the rest of us who overheard it were all, “Um, yeah, I hope so. Missing the diagnosis means the entrire case study is going to be wrong. Besides, the diagnosis is kind of the point of the assignment”

          1. Dr. Pepper*

            Ugh, I can just hear her saying it too! In my field, you do a lot of calculations and getting the math right is absolutely critical. I can’t tell you how many students have whined that they should get at least partial credit for an answer because “the numbers are right, I just put the decimal point in the wrong spot!” Um, no. You are off by a factor (or multiple factors) of 10. That is extremely wrong and congratulations, if this had been real life, you just killed everyone. No partial credit for you.

        2. BTDT*

          “And if this is specifically an internship credit course, this assignment may be the entirety of the grade.”

          That what I was going to say. For my internship there is 1 academic assignment: A report on the work I did. So yah if you don’t turn that in, there’s a problem.

    5. Mommy MD*

      Bad advice to go over your manager’s head unless a crime is being committed, someone is being legally discriminated against, or someone’s safety is at risk. This doesn’t apply. Not if the manager is generally ok.

      1. JSPA*

        That’s what she’s checking, no? Whether it’s illegal (lack of compensation). And the student may be wondering if (legally) discriminatory factors were in play, as far as extensions. (The letter doesn’t go there, so I won’t, either–there’s a big gulf between “hey, unfair” and “legally discriminatory.”)

        Seems to me that so long as she doesn’t a) tell the department what to do nor b) speak for the business / imply that the business has issues with the program, she’d be on firm footing making a personal statement to the department (or at least, asking the department for more clarity on how the program operates).

        1. MK*

          Going over your manager is ok if you suspect the manager of illegality. If yoy think someone else does it, it’s a reason to go to your manager. In this case it’s a serious stretch and unlikely to go over well. “I ignored your decision that our org should not get involved because I was worried about discrimination that no one had alleged or a legal non-issue”‘

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          I think MMD is responding to Greg’s assertion that you always go over your manager’s head if they say ‘no’ but the issue is one of your being morally in the right. That is not a good tactic, and not something Alison (as a manager) would recommend. No matter how Righty McRight the foiled underling is sure they are.

    6. Agnes*

      There are classes (e.g. law school) where one’s entire grade rests on a single exam. Basically, if the grading scheme is in the syllabus, it’s permissible, though not usually good pedagogy, to have a course rest on a single assignment and to not take late assignments.

      But, OP, I add to the chorus. Check it out, but don’t be sure you have the full story. Students often put things in the light of “If I had gotten one more point on this assignment, I’d have passed” rather than “I’d had borderline grades all semester, so when I lost 10% for submitting an assignment late, it brought my average below passing.”

      1. Properlike*

        Tons of alarm bells ringing in this student’s story. In a single class this semester, I have a student convinced he’s failing (and begging for make-up work) who actually has a B… and who would know it if he checked. I also had a student turn in a project that was absolute garbage (incomplete garbage at that) and any points were wiped out by the fact it was two days late. My syllabus and instructions are very clear, yet there are always a handful of students who will claim they’re making an A when they have a D average. Do not take this student’s word for it.

        1. Micromanagered*

          Yeah, this is what I was thinking. I work in academia (non-teaching role) and my experience is that students sometimes perceive or report events incorrectly due to a lack of experience.

          For example, I’ve dealt with students who are incensed that they did not receive their paycheck on time, but the problem is they don’t understand when pay day is or they entered their bank account information incorrectly for direct deposit. They might report back to a third party that their paycheck was withheld from them, when really, it’s their own error or lack of understanding.

          In this instance, I wondered if the student failed the class (perhaps by not turning in a final project, worth a large chunk of the grade) on time, and is not getting academic credit for the internship because he did not get credit for the class, or something more like that.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          (Side track to Properlike: If that student is a freshman, make sure he understands the concept of the bell curve. My freshman year I had placed out of Calculus 101 and started at 102….and flipped out at receiving a 63 on my first exam. That had been a straight F in my high school. No one in admin questioned why I decided to switch back to Calc 101….and I was bored to tears. A friend later explained bell curve, went back to her notes for that class…and I’d gotten a B+.)

          1. Dr. Pepper*

            That happened to me. I was convinced I was failing one class because I kept getting scores in the 50’s and 60’s on exams……. but so was everyone else because that’s how that particular prof liked to write his tests. He ended up explaining it to me during his office hours because I was considering dropping the class, only to be stunned to learn I was pulling a solid B+. Ooops.

        3. General Ginger*

          Is the student actually convinced he’s failing, or is he treating the B like he’s failing? Anything less than an A was failing as far as my family was concerned, so this would have absolutely been me with a B+, “give me all the extra credit to fix the fail”.

          1. Properlike*

            He’s been talked down from “I must make an A+ in EVERYTHING! Because!” But when reminded that time management and not missing important deadlines and putting in good work is what leads to making A’s, suddenly the B was okay.

            We don’t grade on a curve. I only encountered that once, in the same situation where I thought I’d failed a bio class my freshman year, and was gobsmacked to walk away with a B. But that was in the days before internet grading systems.

      2. Elsajeni*

        Yes, and it would be pretty common for an internship to be structured this way — although you earn course credit for it, it’s not really “a class” in the usual sense, and your grade might rest entirely on a final summary paper or a journal that documents when you worked, what you did, and what you learned over the course of the internship.

    7. Colette*

      I did co-op work terms in university, and in order to get credit, I had to write a report. No report, no credit for the work term. There was no other class work, so it would have been entirely possible to fail while doing fine at the job itself.

      1. Pescadero*

        I also was required to write a report for credit.

        I was also paid $15 an hour (in 1996) for working the co-op.

    8. Coffee with my Creamer*

      I had several classes after completing the required courses, especially during grad school where 1 paper/project was the entire grade and was not accepted one minute past the deadline in the online turn in, we had no other grades just that one project.

    9. F.M.*

      I’m among those who suspect some information got garbled (or misunderstood) along the way. I’m one of a set of instructors teaching various sessions of the same introductory course, under the same supervisor, and the supervisor in question had to ask us all about a horrified email he got from some student’s advisor.

      See, there are about seven different types of quizzes and assignments in the class, all of them occurring multiple times, and one single subset is treated as pass/fail (with two chances to pass), with each pass getting a certain number of points. 75% and up is pass, below is fail, for just that one type of quiz, which is about 10% of the total grade, and which there are four instances of. Everything else gets a standard percentage grade.

      But according to the email he got, this advisor had been told by a student that the whole course was built on pass/fail quizzes such that anything below 80% got no points at all. The advisor was horrified at this pedagogical approach! How could we be taking away all credit for anything below such a high standard on every single assignment?

      …so, yeah, somewhere in the game of telephone from professor to student to manager to letter writer, I suspect some nuance has been lost on this “one assignment was one hour late so nothing counts” story. There do exist professors who are really strict about late assignments, but it’s probably not that unreasonably rigid.

      1. Blue*

        I think most advisors learn that going in guns blazing like that is a very good way to end up with your foot in your mouth when you find out that you don’t have all the information. Always ask questions. I don’t advise anymore, but I still work on these kinds of admin issues, and I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve written that are basically, “I’m hearing X. Can you tell me a bit more about the situation?” because it’s so common for key information or context to get lost along the way. And sometimes there are genuine issues, and once you verify that, you can bring the hammer down (I have to write one of *those* emails later this morning. Good times.)

    10. Someone Else*

      Most of my courses only had 2-3 assignments per semester, so if you failed to turn in one assignment (and many profs late = don’t bother at all, it won’t count), you’re sunk for the course anyway.

    11. Autumnheart*

      It also bears mentioning that if the assignment one fails to turn in makes up 60% of their grade, then failing that one assignment would mean failing the course. Like, if I’d taken my capstone course and turned in everything but my capstone paper and presentation, well…I wouldn’t graduate.

      1. Paquita (hates to write)*

        I am way late to this but: I almost failed high school senior english with meant I would not have been able to graduate. All because of the term paper. I got it turned in with ONE MINUTE to spare. I can’t imagine how I would have explained it to my parents. Great teacher, I just hated writing that much. I could, however, diagram sentences all day long back then. :)

  9. namelesscommentator*

    #5 Most rental agreements say that they will automatically pay any citations, and that if you want to fight it, you need to do so before the rental company pays. Difficult, because the citation is sent to the company, so you normally find out about it on your credit card statement.

    Push back with the finance department, as the company was the renter rather than you personally, but this is just part of the hassle of renting cars.

    1. valentine*

      Does it cost the rental company less to pay and to pursue repayment than to view the footage and fight the citation?

      1. Jennifer85*

        Given they usually have credit card details I would assume yes. As in, they’ll already have taken the $100 from the card of whoever rented the car (company or OP) which is infinitely less hassle for them, albeit pretty rubbish.

      2. Antilles*

        I would assume so.
        Viewing the footage and fighting the citation costs them time and money – they’d need to read the citation and view the footage, then call you for a statement, then contact the police to fight the citation and some back-and-forth. By comparison, simply writing the $100 citation fee costs literally nothing whatsoever. They’ve already got your credit card on file, they’ve already got your authorization in writing to pay fees, so it’s just a couple minutes to just pull your information and click a few buttons on the computer.
        After all, it’s not THEIR $100, why would they care?

      3. doreen*

        They generally charge an administrative fee in addition to the fine for the citation or toll in the case of cashless tolling. In my experience (not from getting tickets, but hearing/reading about it from people who have) , the fee is usually around $50 – and they don’t usually have to pursue repayment, they just charge it to the credit card used for the rental. So it costs them nothing to pay the fine and they actually probably make some profit on hte fee.

      4. paul*

        My wife worked for a rental car company for ~5 years.

        They get the bill from the authority that wrote the ticket, then they bill the customer for it. At least in the case of that company. They sure don’t issue the tickets or anything like that. It became an issue for them a few times when someone couldn’t have been in the car in question in the jurisdiction in question (as in, theygot a ticket two states away when they’d rented a car at that location an hour before hand). But short of that I don’t think they ever agreed to eat the cost.

        I have no clue if her employer ever bothered to contest a ticket or go after the agency that issued one.

    2. OP #5*

      LW #5 here, and apparently the way my company found out is that the rental car company sent a letter to the finance team that they had already paid the fine. The annoying thing is, I myself didn’t find out about this until six weeks after that letter was sent!

      The finance department has washed their hands of this to some degree so unless I push back considerably it’s going to be on me to take it up with the rental car company, which I plan to do so today using some of this language.

      1. HappySnoopy*

        Sounds like you need to push back on finance dept if they did not notify you in timely manner (6 weeks after they were notified) and deducted your reimbursement saying fight it yourself bur delaying or preventing your ability to get recourse (court or rental company).

        Dispute charge on card (be aware time may have passed for that) and otherwise raise holy hell with your hr/travel/finance and get whatever management you can to be your advocate, because the next person this happens to could be them if the company doesnt clear up this bad policy/procedure

      2. Llellayena*

        Check out which has travel advice and company contacts if you want to fight the charge. It’s got plenty of stories about rental car companies charging when they shouldn’t and how to respond.

      3. Kes*

        It sounds like the rental car company is just following their policy, which is probably written into the contract. You can try and take it up with them and they may accept it in order to keep a customer happy, but otherwise you may end up out of luck there.

        However, I would still push back within your company, and point out that you did nothing wrong, can prove it, and should not have to pay for an expense incurred on a business trip that is not your fault, any more than you pay any other rental car fees

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          I frequently got stuck with this kind of thing when I was traveling a lot for work. It sucked, but I’m not sure what the alternative was. I got incorrectly dinged for late checkout more than once, and I got parking tickets I disagreed with (broken meters). I also once got rear-ended in my personal vehicle I was driving for work – all those costs fell entirely on me, not the company, although the only reason I was there at all was work. I had to budget for about $300 a year in “being out in the world” fees that came from increased travel. That’s partly why I demand higher pay for a job that has a lot of travel.

          1. Kes*

            I can understand companies not wanting to pay their employees’ parking tickets, but I think if you can prove you were not in the wrong, you shouldn’t have to pay for an expense associated with business travel that isn’t your fault.

            However, yours is probably the more practical approach in some cases, and certainly easier in some ways that trying to change the company’s mind. It makes more sense though for cases where you are travelling a lot and know this type of thing may come up – for people who only travel rarely for business, they may not have planned for this/have the money to cover unexpected expenses that they didn’t even cause.

        2. Artemesia*

          If your company backs you they could threaten to switch rental car companies for company travel. That is the leverage that works. It is appalling that the finance office didn’t notify you timely here. But typical.

      4. pleaset*

        What the rental company is doing it annoying, but a finance team trying to dock the employee for a business expense is horrendous.

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          I dunno, my work had a clear policy that if you got a ticket or fine while you were working, that wouldn’t be covered by the company – they weren’t going to cover your mistakes (even though the reality of driving around a series of big cities filled with cameras was that you were inevitably going to end up with something, even if it’s an error). I do think it’d be great if the company would make an exception in a reasonable case like this, but it doesn’t seem out of the norm to me that they wouldn’t.

  10. DArcy*

    While parking citation procedures obviously differ from place to place, how it generally works is that the company that owns the vehicle files a certificate of nonliability in response to the citation, which basically says, “We, Company X, were not driving the vehicle at the time; the person responsible for the citation is Y, our employee or customer.” The city will then reissue the citation as a personal citation to person Y, which also resets the clock on the period to appeal.

    If the rental company just paid the citation themselves, then they are by definition agreeing that they are responsible for the citation *and* that they are waiving the right to appeal on the facts. They can’t then turn around and bill you or your company for it, because they *already* assumed legal responsibility.

    1. DArcy*

      Note that you literally can’t pay or appeal the citation yourself until *after* the company files nonliability, because until that happens, it’s the *company’s* citation and not *yours*.

    2. OP #5*

      LW here- I wish it worked this way, it would have stopped the whole mess! I live in a non-US country and I don’t believe there is any option for the rental car company or my company to do this. I’ve spoken to the city directly and they said there is no way to reopen the case or reissue the citation, unfortunately. I’ll be taking it up with the rental company today using some of this language.

      1. DArcy*

        Even if there isn’t an official nonliability procedure in your jurisdiction, you can absolutely argue that since the *rental company* decided to pay up, they have chosen to take responsibility for the situation and cannot dump it on you. If it was your responsibility to pay, then you have the right to challenge the citation; they can’t waive the challenge and then stick you with the bill.

        1. EPLawyer*

          that would be nice. except your rental agreement says you agree to pay for any citations. the rental car company pays them for you as a “courtesy.” then tacks on an extra fee for the courtesy.

          When my husband’s car broke down we were using a rental car. He forgot to put the EZ Pass in the rental car. So we got dinged for tolls. Plus the courtesy fee. Instead of $6 toll, it was $20.

          You have to work this out with the rental company. Although finance should not be taking it out of your reimbursement. You have people traveling on business, they are going to get citations. My lawyer friend who does traffic says it is not possible to go more than 2 blocks without violating SOME portion of the traffic code. We just don’t all get citations. So cost of doing business. Unless someone gets a LOT of citations, the company should just do it. If someone gets a lot of tickets, they don’t get to drive a rental anymore on the company dime.

      2. Lady Jay*

        Even in the US, rental companies often pay citations. My father was recently driving in Chicago, missed a toll, and it was initially charged to the rental company, who paid it and then charged my father.

        However, it was $14, a far cry from $100! Good luck pushing back!

      3. Pete*

        Consider refusing to travel (or rent a car) until the company rethinks this position.

        “Given that the company has recently adopted a policy that I will be held financially responsible for decisions outside my control… I cannot expose myself to further financial risk by accepting company travel that could incur arbitrary penalties without any corporate support”

    3. Bagpuss*

      except most rental companies have terms in their agreement that explicitly say you will liable if a ticket is received , so they can bill you because they included provision in the contract to allow them to do so.

      What’s muddying the waters here is that it appears that the ticket should not have been issued at all, but there is very little incentive for the rental co. to challenge it because they are not out of pocket so won’t care.

      1. Colette*

        Agreed. Your rental car contract will usually state you’re responsible for tickets, tolls, and damage to the vehicle. The rental car company is behaving appropriately by billing the company – that’s what the OP agreed to on the company’s behalf.

  11. Roger*

    I am LIVID at OP5’s issue. It should be as simple as “I did nothing wrong. I have evidence to support that. You (the company) have evidence to support that. There is no reason for me to pay, and this is between you and the rental company.” I would go so far as to suggest to the company that the rental company is committing fraud with this fee. (Maybe even get on the phone with the rental company and say that, and suggest that rep you’re speaking to is now complicit in a crime – put a little fear of God in them). How are we not commenting on the legality of them not paying him when it can be proven that they have no justification for doing so?

    1. Michio Pa*

      I agree that OP5 did nothing wrong and the rental company, or at least OP’s company, should pay the fine. But “suggest that rep you’re speaking to is now complicit in a crime”? Why should OP berate and threaten some poor phone-answering drone at the rental company, who is no more legally responsible for the mistake at hand than OP? Also lies and threats are not the best way to get what you want from customer service.

      1. Mommy MD*

        Because some people think yelling and screaming at staff who have nothing to do with anything is the road to take to get what they want.

    2. OP #5*

      OP5 here, and I am livid too! It’s perhaps most annoying becuase I travel constantly for work, and rather than making it as easy as possible on employees that do this, they try to nickel and dime people for random issues like this that then take hours to get straightened out.

      The department has basically told me its on me to take it up with the rental car company, so I’ll be using many of the suggestions from commenters here to do that today.

      1. JSPA*

        Do you (the employee) have a choice of rental companies? If so, highlight that (along with the number of rental you’ve had with them in the past).

        1. OP #5*

          I do, although this one is the place where we have our primary business account. Just got off the phone with the rental company after having a very unsatisfying conversation with an employee who didn’t have the power to do anything and no manager to let me speak with instead. I live in a non-US country not known for its customer service and this is so typical.

          1. Psyche*

            I’m sorry. If you do have some say in which rental company, I would tell them that if they are going to charge you for a citation that was incorrect (with evidence) that they chose not to challenge, you will not be renting from them anymore. It’s too much of a risk. If you will be charged even when you are driving correctly, you will never know when you are going to get a surprise fee.

      2. Colette*

        I’d actually be taking this up with my manager. I’d explain that I’m not happy about frequent travel if I end up on the hook for things I’m not responsible for. Ultimately, this is a problem between you and your company – they’re making you pay for something that they should be dealing with.

        1. Kes*

          That might be a good idea. If the finance department is pushing back on you, bring the issue up to your manager and see if they have more leverage to resolve it.

      3. MLB*

        If your company is forcing you to pay for it and take it up with the rental car company, use Twitter to your advantage. You don’t have to be nasty, just state the facts. Every time my husband is treated unfairly with a company, he tweets about it. One trip was particularly awful, and we ended up with free parking at the city hotel after an encounter with a VERY rude front desk person and 3 $150 vouchers for an airline after our flight home was delayed by 2 hours because they decided to give away our plane. Companies don’t want bad things said about them on social media, and will rectify the situation quickly, especially for $100 – which is a large sum for you, but nothing for them.

  12. Sabrina*

    #3 I got permission from the party committee lead to bring a laid off employee and his wife to our company party once. I was worried it would be awkward (and I think it was briefly for his old manager) but everyone else had a grand time catching up with him. He had a lot of friends in the office who were delighted to see him and hear how quickly he’d found a better paying job. What’s more it gave him a chance to say goodbye to some of the people he hadn’t gotten to see when he was let go, it was a good experience all around. I hope you can go letter writer!

  13. Raven*

    Op3, even if you left with no ill will towards the remaining employees, I can’t help but be reminded of that episode of The Office, s8e22, ‘Fundraiser,’ where the recently-fired Andy comes back during the workday and a bunch of them think that he’s going to kill Robert or Nellie. He then later goes to a fundraiser that evening and basically has a mental breakdown.

    TBH, even if you were a level-headed person, if I were a higher-up and saw you at an event you weren’t ‘supposed’ to be at, I might be at least initially concerned.

    1. Mommy MD*

      That was a great episode. And in this crazy day of disgruntled workers, it’s something to think about. My take is if a company is done with you, be done with them as well and move on.

    2. Duchess Conseula Banana Hammock*

      OP 3, I think it depends so much on your former workplace (at mine, lots of ex-employees always go to the holiday party) and the terms on which you left. This is a very fact-specific question, as my law professors would say.

  14. AnonyNurse*

    #2 — boss may have limited social contacts outside of work and reengaing with her job may be a way to talk to grownups and/or talk about something other than the baby/feeding/diapers/etc. If your org has any kind of social gatherings, maybe hold them at a baby-friendly locale (restaurant with tables vs bar without seating) and make sure she’s invited to attend, and talk about not-work.

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      A++++++ Once Boss is over the shock and awe of bringing baby home, it could be that she’s getting bored out of her gourd.

      Also, maybe she’s read something that tells her she needs to stay engaged with her co-workers and reports so that she doesn’t get mommy-tracked: everyone “forgets” her, work gets re-assigned to other people, and she ends up marginalized at the office.

      Not to excuse her! But to explain, and maybe offer some compassion to Boss stuck at home with baby care duties that aren’t anywhere near as interesting as what she was doing to earn her living.

      1. Agent Diane*

        Also, boss’s boss should be having regular keep in touch contact with boss: if there not happening she may be feeling worried about what she’s coming back to, and how she can cope with sorting it out and childcare logistics. I’d echo Alison’s suggestion of talking to boss boss to make sure they are doing their job of providing boss with reassurance that coming back to work is not going to be like dealing with an exploded nappy mess.

  15. drpuma*

    OP3, a couple of jobs ago I worked for a start-up that would have 1 or 2 “invite all your friends!” blowout parties each year. Because the guest list was intentionally very open, former employees would often come back and it was great to see them (although yes, they sometimes felt awkward around our CEO). If the “guests” at your work party are more like a traditional plus-one, I would really encourage you to think twice about going. Meet up with your coworkers before or after. Maybe a few of you can make it a tradition to get together every few months as a small group. Who knows, your former coworkers might feel more relaxed and have more fun socializing with you if it’s clearly not a work event.

  16. Marilyn*

    OP#3, you’re be putting your former co-workers in an uncomfortable situation if you go to the party. I worked at a company with many layoffs, and often those people would come back in to visit – to say hi to people in the office, to meet a group for lunch, etc. One would even bring her dog in to visit.

    We, the remaining employees, always felt obligated to stop what we were doing and put on a happy face, asking the laid off employees how they were doing while tiptoeing around the “do you have a job” elephant in the room. It wasn’t ever a pleasant experience. It was even worse when HR or executives who’d been involved in the layoffs encountered these people. This became so common that eventually HR stepped in and stopped it from happening.

    So even if you feel comfortable going, consider cutting others a break and declining.

  17. Delta Delta*

    #1 – Many commenters have pointed out that we don’t know enough about other possible issues the intern has had and that this may be the nail in the coffin with the school. We also don’t know what sort of notice the intern had – it may be very clear in his or her syllabus or contract that this would happen if things weren’t done on time. I agree that if there was no notice or insufficient notice that this is a fairly draconian response to a mistake. In that case, an internal appeal (or whatever administrative process they have) seems in order.

    I’m both a lawyer and a higher education instructor. In my lawyer job, deadlines matter very much (jurisdiction, anyone?). In my higher ed job, students seem to think deadlines are guidelines, and will face a very harsh truth if they enter the real world of legal practice that way.

  18. Ren*

    I find No. 1 so disturbing — and I disagree with posters who find the intern’s story suspect, because according to the OP, thd professor has done this TWICE with interns from just this one nonprofit. Is it possible the professor is discriminating against students who choose whatever issue/social cause the nonprofit might be associated with? I also question (in a broad legal sense) whether labor law as it applies to compensation for the number of hours worked in an intern program at a company or other organization can so cleanly be separated from the academic institution promising credit in exchange for/in lieu of those wages. Nevermind tgat tye typical student is also PAYING TUITION on top of the forgone wages for the labor (and maybe tuition or a fee is then the more appropriate discipline on the university’s end.

    In any case, it’s such an astonishing abuse that I can’t imagine it will be allowed to continue in future decades, though the practice might be perfectly legal (?) at the moment.

    1. Properlike*

      We don’t know how many interns from the same college have been placed there. Maybe the interns for this nonprofit are more likely to blow off assignments? Who knows.

      Also, let’s do away with this notion that paying tuition entitles you to anything but the opportunity and access to education. You are not guaranteed to pass without putting in work of a certain quality, within given time frames.

    2. hbc*

      But…in a normal class, a student may also be out lots and lots of hours of work (in the form of problem sets, papers, and the like) and not get credit/wages for any number of reasons. If the setup for this internship is such that you, say, have to file weekly reports about what you did and you often turned them in late, in dreadful condition, or not at all, you’re not entitled to credit the same way you would be entitled to money at a paid job.

      If I were the OP, I’d want to check in if what the intern is telling me is actually true too, because I’d want to know if I’m involved with an internship program that’s so draconian that a single late submission could tank anything. But 1) it’s almost certainly not a case of a student going from B to F, 2) I wouldn’t because my boss already nixed it, and 3) it’s not actually immoral for the student to not get credit for hours worked.

    3. Smarty Boots*

      Speaking as someone who’s worked in higher ed, directly with students every day, been grading student work for about thirty years, and assisted students who were truly dealing with an unfair instructor: yes, entirely possible that two students would say they failed the entire course due to turning in work one hour late but it’s not in fact true that that was the ONLY factor. It could very well have been the last in a line of problems.

      If the student feels it was unfair, then they can pursue it (suggestions in my comment below). But just with the minimal facts that the OP has, no, we do not know that it’s “astonishing abuse”.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Adding to what Properlike said, we can’t know if interns placed in *other* organizations over the years have also had the same result. We’re hearing from OP who heard from student who has a vested interest in looking like the wronged party.

      And “other students were late” smacks of a teenager’s “but everyone else was doing it!” and the TV parent’s “If everybody jumped off a cliff would you do it too? Think!”

    5. Jaybeetee*

      Frankly, internships (especially those I hear about in the US) can be plenty problematic and I do hope more legal protections are put in place for students who end up exploited in those systems… but no, as it stands there’s likely no legal recourse to “lost wages” in this case, particularly if the student agreed to the terms as laid out (syllabus/grading scheme). The university likely has an appeals process the student can pursue if he feels it can get anywhere.

    6. Myrin*

      The OP doesn’t mention the professor; she says she has “since learned this is the second time this has happened to one of our interns with this university’s program“, so I’d say it’s actually pretty unlikely that it was the same person both times or else she’d probably have framed it that way.

    7. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

      Maybe I just worked with a lot of pretty nice professors, but almost never has getting something an hour late been a Problem. I had one (1) professor in 7 years of undergrad and two grad degrees who had an “i won’t accept work submitted after 4pm.” In all other cases even if there was a set deadline of x o’clock, submitting at x:59 was not gonna impact your grade in the slightest. If you submitted every single assignment at x:59 instead of x o’clock, maybe it would knock you down a half-letter. But I know draconian professors exist, and frankly, they seem like the same kind of people who show up in AAM letters penalizing LWs for arriving at 9:03 for a non-butt-in-seat position. It’s arbitrary.

    8. AnotherJill*

      Students do not get degrees or grades for paying tuition. They get them for fulfilling the requirements of courses. It’s not like paying for a service where you simply get something in return, instead its a two-way contract. Its not “astonishing abuse” for a professor to expect that the student will hold up their end of the bargain.

      1. Dr. Pepper*

        Exactly. You pay to enroll in the university’s program. How well you utilize that program is entirely up to you. You get grades by registering for classes and completing the assignments and exams. You get a degree by fulfilling all the course requirements as laid out by the university. Saying your tuition is paying for your degree is like saying that you should get paid simply for showing up and being physically present in your employer’s building. Nope. You gotta do work too.

    9. Artemesia*

      The student is primarily getting credit for the academic experience; giving college credit for showing up and working is in itself pretty bogus. If they didn’t do the academic portion of the program then they don’t get credit for the class.

    10. 1.0*

      I’m also surprised by the number of people who are sure this is the student’s fault and the professor couldn’t possibly be being unfair. In my tenure in undergrad (engineering and music), I had

      – A professor who tried to drop me a full letter grade because I had food poisoning and couldn’t make one lab (offered to get notes and make it up, but I was puking and barely conscious for several hours)

      – A professor who flat out refused to actually help me or other classmates during office hours because “that’s what the other students are for”

      – A professor who, not only refused to reply to emails about a performance class I needed to complete my degree, he wouldn’t TELL me he was throwing a fit (I got the information from his assistant, who had been told not to tell me) because I’d insulted him terribly by asking when he was available instead of taking whatever time he felt like giving me

      Not giving someone credit for an assignment sent in a hour late is pretty high up there, but not outside the bounds of possibility for professors in my experience/my friends’ experiences.

  19. Bookworm*

    #1: Being late for an assignment doesn’t necessarily affect a student’s entire timeline for graduation in many cases. Considering how often we see people fail in various ways in the “real world” from PR blunders to faulty products to bad management and STILL do just fine (and maybe even get promoted *despite* those errors) this seems absurd and makes me wonder if there’s more to this story than the OP knows (especially if other students were given extensions but this one wasn’t).

    #3: Get the awkwardness. Once witnesses an opposite situation (person was fired for true incompetence but still wanted to come to our holiday party and still felt entitled to some of the freebies we occasionally got from local businesses). Think Alison’s advice is right, but if you ultimately don’t feel comfortable, then that’s okay. Maybe as an alternate you can meet them for drinks before/after the party if they still want to see you?

    1. Workerbee*

      #1: So true. I’ve been learning a lot recently about how to “take ownership” when things go wrong while simultaneously managing not to be the one held accountable or blamed, from a top executive at our company. Major feat of spin there, especially when there’s documentation about how this person did indeed make exactly the wrong decisions that caused major customer fallout. We’re still in awe that this person hasn’t been censured at all.

      So a measly hour late for one assignment? That intern should aim higher! /snark

    2. Sally*

      The late assignment may affect the intern’s graduation date because he may now need to do another internship.

  20. Susan Anderson*

    OP 2 – When I was off work for retinal detachment surgery I kept on emailing and phoning the office about current issues. I didn’t realise how annoying I was being until the person who was covering my job told me so! She was very pleasant but firm, and it was a huge relief to me that I could let go of work for a while and relax during my recovery. I had never been off work for more than a day or two before (apart from planned holidays) so I honestly didn’t know how to detach myself! So perhaps OP 2 just needs a hint that all is well and she can take a break, knowing that she has left everything in good hands.

  21. Workerbee*

    #4. “I don’t want to assume anyone is thinking of getting me a gift, but just in case, I want to say that while that’s very kind of you, please put that toward family and friends instead. Doing your jobs well is enough of a gift for me.”

    I love this. I will try this again next year. :)

    I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that my employee will just go around it anyway. I wish she wouldn’t, for all the gifting-up reasons and the fact that she’s underpaid (and I learned too late this year that if a middle-manager like myself wants to have input into their own employee’s raises, you have to kick up a huge stink, for the Uber Boss is all “Oh, I decided awhile ago,” and nobody finds out what it was until the day it’s issued).

    But giving gifts makes her happy, so I’ll put my own energy toward trying to get her in a better position, etc.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Ouch. On the issue of pay scale… since it’s too late for this year’s raises, can you get her (or them) a small cash bonus? Do you have authority to give some sort of performance award they can put in their permanent record? That can go a long way towards keeping morale up.

      The question of invisible raise decisions stings because of my past experience–I was one of the overlooked employees in an already overlooked group. One thing that helped was after a management shuffle, the new manager argued with managers who our group supports and got them to start citing our names as full team members on project recognition awards — even though though everyone else on a project teams was from a different department.* Those rarely came with a cash bonus — but always became points on yearly performance reviews & in raise negotiations.

      *I’m stretching hard for a teapot metaphor so forgive me… when a newly released paint-your-own teapot had record sales, the year-end award called out ceramics engineers, teapot designers and manufacturing. It didn’t list the “support person” who created the eye-catching package, or the person who documented painting & firing requirements. Even though several major paint-your-own pottery shops took the time to write in praising both: DIY customers bought more in the new package than the old package. And following the instruction sheet meant shopkeepers had no losses from incompatible glazes or wrong kiln temperatures.

    2. Blue Eagle*

      No, don’t put your energy into getting her a better position. This is the whole point of not getting your boss a gift. Your employee got a gift for you and now you are trying to repay it by doing something for her at your place of work that you are not doing for your other employees.

  22. Gifts*

    OP4: Another possible way to handle this is to encourage employees, who insist giving gifts even after it’s understood it’s unwanted / unnecessary, to make charitable contributions in your name instead.

  23. Smarty Boots*

    OP #1: If the intern’s description of what happened is true, then yeah, this is really bad. Generally, the professor owns the grade, so to speak, and you/your boss calling the school is unlikely to get this changed. However, the *student* has some recourse. They should speak to their: advisor, department chair, dean — in that order, allowing time at each level for action / answers, and also should be persistent (but polite!) in pursuing answers. The student should also see if the university has an ombuds, who is trained to help resolve conflicts. OP, you can let the student know, without making any remarks about the professor being wrong, unfair, etc, because you really do not know all the details.

    It’s pretty unusual for a prof to have such a draconian grading policy (not impossible, but not common), so I would advising assuming that you have only one piece of the story, from one perspective.

    I do think it’s worthwhile for you to contact whoever runs the internship program at the student’s department or program to let them know you are concerned, but again, without casting aspersions on the professor.

    1. Emelle*

      I am curious why a straight up Incomplete wasn’t an option. I had an I with my internship because of drama, but I had one semester to clear it, or it was an F. The department did that as policy because they found that they didn’t always have everyone’s paperwork back from the site or the paper we had to write at the of the internship needed a draft or two.
      I would be petitioning to have the F changed to an I right now.

      1. CoveredInBees*

        Seriously. I know it isn’t the case here but it is *so* common for internship supervisors to be slow about filling out and returning internship paperwork to the school. It just isn’t a priority for them but it shouldn’t negatively impact the student who can only remind their supervisor so many times.

        Or, in my case, to the bar association so that I could finally be admitted as an attorney. Yes, I’m still salty about that. In my case, it impacted my job search when the job market was already horrible.

      2. Smarty Boots*

        At every college and university I have worked at, a grade of incomplete was to be entered only if the student was unable to complete work due to circumstances beyond their control. Some profs hand them out like candy, but that’s not proper. I give an incomplete perhaps once a year or so (some years more, it depends on the circumstances) — for instance, student was in the hospital, or student’s family home was destroyed in a hurricane and student went home to help, or student’s mom was dying, or student’s dad (sole earner in the family) was laid off. Once I gave a student an incomplete because her apartment was flooded and all her schoolwork destroyed (slumlord apartment, it was in the news).
        If a student is late one hour with work, no, that’s not grounds for an incomplete.

        1. Tertia*

          Yes, that. And although many faculty are overly casual about giving an I, university policies typically require that the student and the instructor reach an agreement on the incomplete *before* the grades are due.

          1. ket*

            The only time I ever gave an incomplete without such a prior agreement was when a student announced one day that she had cancer and then she never showed up to class again, and did not respond to attempts to contact her.

      3. Yorick*

        An Incomplete is for when something has happened and you can’t complete the course. Simply not meeting the course requirements (by not turning in assignments) doesn’t equal an Incomplete.

        Sure, if the problem was on the nonprofit’s side and not the student’s, I’d think an Incomplete would be appropriate.

        1. Smarty Boots*

          Right, that’s appropriate, because it is something beyond the student’s control. That does not seem to be the case OP is describing.

    2. LJay*

      Yeah, this is exactly how I would have tackled it when I was in college. It was my battle to fight, not anyone else’s.

      Also, I was in a teaching and speech pathology programs, not a business type program. But a “one late, and you fail” type policy was not out of the norm for my student teaching or clinical practice classes. There were minimal items to turn in for those classes, but we were expected to be exactly on-time, well-dressed, and to have everything turned in in a timely manner. They considered it to be training us for the “real world.” And yeah, it doesn’t exactly mesh with the real world, because even as a teacher you can be late turning your curriculum in or handing graded papers back and it’s not the end of the world, and as a clinician you can be late for a session and it’s not ideal but not the end of the world. However, I think part of the idea was to hammer home the idea that this wasn’t just like a normal college class where you could cut class and only be hurting yourself and not affecting anyone else, and not adversely affect your professional reputation. And I think part of it was that most of these were college professors who hadn’t been out in the actual practicing world for a long time (or sometimes ever, if they had gone straight into being a professor) and they maybe weren’t aware that things aren’t actually that stringent and that you won’t be fired for one little thing.

  24. Tertia*

    OP #1:

    I share others’ skepticism about whether you have the full story. I’m 99.99% certain that some of Alison’s advice, unfortunately, isn’t going to be viable. The student ought to be able to petition for a grade change (and if you’re curious about the process, it’s probably on the university’s webpage), but there’s no way that the university would initiate the petition, let alone grant it, unless the complaint comes from the student or the professor. But to emphasize: there is a process for this already. If the student is in contact again, you could certainly suggest that he protest the grade through the appropriate means.

    Legally the school can’t discuss the student’s grade with you unless the student signs a waiver. They absolutely cannot discuss the other students’ extensions with you.

    With that all being said: the university needs you more than you need it. Your boss would probably have to go along with it, but you could certainly refuse to accept future interns unless the university gives you a very precise explanation of under what circumstances a student might not receive academic credit (this may have to be done professor-by-professor unless one professor supervises all internships). If you feel those policies are too restrictive, you could decline to participate in their internship program.

  25. Teacher Lady*

    OP #5: Contact they are a free consumer advocacy group for travelers and work on cases likes yours–erroneous billing by rental car companies.

  26. MLB*

    #2 – I am in no way in the legal field and got my law degree watching L&O, but…I wonder if your manager is breaking any laws, depending on what type of benefits she’s using for her maternity leave. At my last company when someone was on extended leave, their access to all systems was removed so they couldn’t even login to check/send email. For instance, if she’s taking any type of paid leave, she probably isn’t supposed to do any type of work (or that may trued even if she isn’t being paid a partial or full salary). Just something to consider. But someone definitely needs to address it, whether it’s a legal issue or not.

    1. Never*

      Yes. We recently had something happen at work and I asked if my manager, who is on maternity leave, knew about it. Her manager said he wasn’t allowed to tell her because it would be considered a work conversation and would violate her FMLA rights (or some such wording).

    2. lost academic*

      I think there’s a big difference between being off on FMLA and being off on short or long term disability but I’d really like to hear from someone, like Allison, who can speak directly to that. I asked Allison before a similar question – we had someone out on FMLA and she came in for a day because they were interviewing candidates who would report to her, and apparently that was OK since it was her idea/she wasn’t being coerced.

      I think you do have to let people covering for you actually cover for you, but as I’m about to go out on leave with some project specific needs where people HAVE to ping me if there’s a problem and we truly do not have anyone else who can do this (just a bad confluence of project and timing) I certainly hope it’s OK to be minimally involved as on call support at times.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        So there’s something called “FMLA interference.” That’s when you contact someone on FMLA to do work (beyond just small things like “like where is the X document?”) and it’s illegal.

        However, it’s not strictly illegal for an employee to voluntarily do some work while they’re out. Some employers prohibit it anyway, because they don’t want to risk questions later about whether it was really voluntary or if the employee felt pressured or coerced into doing it.

        So what the boss is doing is not illegal, but the company might want to stop it anyway.

      2. fposte*

        In the U.S., FMLA is the law that protects your leave; short-term/long-term disability is generally the insurance policy that pays you, so often they’re both obtaining at the same time. The rules of short-term disability will depend on the particular policy in place at that employer (or in that state, if you’re in a state that has its own), whereas FMLA law is federal. While there is no hard and fast rule for how much work an employee can be allowed to do while on FMLA, the general theory is that they’re supposed to be relieved of their duties. However, the courts have tended to find for employers when employees handle modest communications or work behind their employers’ backs on FMLA.

        In the case of an employee who actually comes in for a day, I would be inclined, as an employer, to arrange that not to come out of her FMLA leave, or to allow her a leave day beyond the FMLA limits if the paperwork is too complicated. And of course all of this is presupposing we’re talking exempt employees–if an employee is non-exempt, FMLA is not a way to get around FLSA.

  27. OP #3*

    Hi everyone!

    I’m the OP from #3. The party happened a few days ago and I had a blast! It wasn’t as awkward as I thought. A lot of people came up to say hello and asked how I was doing. I quickly found a better job after the layoffs, so my return was more happy than sad. There were other past employees and laid off people there as well.

    The company was very close knit and the layoffs affected a significant part of the workforce, so I think that’s why it wasn’t so awkward. Also, company morale pretty much died after the layoffs so many current employees took my return as a time to commiserate.

    The only awkward part was seeing my former department head who actually laid me off. We just didn’t speak to each other.

    1. prismo*

      Ha, I just wrote a whole response before noticing you’d posted this update! I’m glad to hear it went well, and in case it’s useful for anyone else:

      I too was in this situation. After being laid off, my former boss, who I was close with, invited me to come to the holiday party. I asked if she would check with the higher-ups first, to avoid any surprises, and then, and I think most importantly, I only went for a little while. Like less than an hour. I stopped by, said hello to my friends, had one drink, talked about the cool new projects I was working on, and then said goodbye. It was a little awkward, mostly nice. I’m glad I went and also VERY glad I left quickly.

      One note is that the party was at a public bar and not even in a separate room–I probably would not have gone if it was at the office, the CEO’s home, or some other private venue.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      Glad it turned out well! I think it’s so dependent on the office culture as well as the circumstances of the layoff. For that office, all former employees (whether retired, laid off, or left for other reasons) stay on a holiday invite list if they opt in, so it’s very common to have returning ex-office mates and it’s always been positive from what I’ve observed.

      I’m on the annual invite list for a previous office too (billed as a reunion party rather than holiday party though), where 90% of us were laid off at one point before the group mostly reformed a few years later. I’ve never been able to make it since I moved away (it’s 3000 miles away) but quite a few people do.

      I would guess if the office culture didn’t have that kind of invitation policy, it might not be as welcoming to ex-employee guests, but that could be determined by knowing the party history, whether ex-employees ever go and whether they feel welcomed when there.

  28. No Good Deed*

    Regarding OP5, with the parking ticket, my company is one where employees travel for work a lot. It is in our company policy that employees are responsible for paying any tickets. I don’t think this is an unfair policy; if you’re doing something illegal, you pay for it.

    For this mistaken ticket, I do think the OP and their company should push back on the rental car agency for paying it without a second look.

  29. Jaybeetee*

    LW1: Assuming this all happened in the last week or two – looking back on my uni days, there would be a December “absolute deadline” for assignments. It was rare for profs to actually set deadlines for that date in the syllabus – it was for assignments that were already late/incomplete, students MUST submit by say, 8pm December 10 if they want those assignments counted at all (due to late penalties, often by the day, often those assignments would be failed no matter what… but if their submission was a requirement for the course, that was the last bastion). A few comments above alluded to this – if assignments come in after that deadline, profs may be literally unable to submit a grade. And I certainly took courses that had MANDATORY assignments – if you don’t submit, you don’t pass the course, regardless of other coursework done.

    That is to say, I don’t presume to know the full circumstances of your intern, but if this missed deadline was recent, it likely wasn’t just “he was an hour late and lost the course!” At least at my school, it meant he was likely already significantly late on an assignment that was a requirement to obtain the credit… and still submitted it past a revised deadline. It might be possible for him to appeal the decision, but I think schools tend to be less lenient by that point, as if you have an assignment that’s missed the absolute deadline, that means you’ve well blown past at least one other deadline, and at a certain point you run out of warnings. (THAT might be what your boss is referring to regarding “real-world lessons”).

  30. Alldogsarepuppies*

    One year in high school for “Grandparents and Special Friend’s Day” one of my classmates brought a teacher fired the year before as her guest and the level of petty that was made me very happy. The firing was weird and likely wrong — and seeing the student who bragged about being the one who “got her fired for giving me a B” squirm was glorious. But also high school students needn’t be as mature as working adults, so make sure you’d want to go because you’d enjoy yourself, not to make enemies uncomfortable.

  31. boop the first*

    1. Re: internship. At the very least, send the student to student union services (surely the school must have one?). There should be people there whose literal job is to guide students through making a formal complaint/challenge to the dean. It may not be successful, and you would have a stronger influence (offer to write a supporting letter?) than the student alone, but it’s an option.
    Professors aren’t perfect people. Students have been unjustly affected by bad decisions from professors over and over and over, which is why there is usually a formal guidance system for disputes. They’re not all winning disputes but if they’re legitimate, they do.

  32. Phoenix Programmer*

    Intern manager here.
    Since this has happened twice to your students to students o recommend engaging with either your boss or the university coordinator to understand the requirements better. Then engage with your students and carve out time for them to work on these assignments on the internship.

    My students have to put together a portfolio about their project they complete while with us. I pretty much let them fonish it the last few days of work with us. I also check in with them before saying out goodbuys that they have everything they need from me for credit.

    It’s only fair imo when we get their labor for free.

    1. Phoenix Programmer*

      Ugh of course I don’t proof read and it’s a mess. I wish we had edit buttons!

      Anyway coordinate with the coordinators and give students time for “homework” on the clock.

      1. Judy (since 2010)*

        In my co-op days back in the 80s, we had to complete our reports before we returned to school. The first page of the report had to be signed by our manager, just to make sure we didn’t share things that were company confidential. I’m an engineer, and my co-ops were paid. I did receive a certificate and my co-op status is noted in my transcript for completing 5 semesters of work.

  33. Buu*

    OP1 whilst you may not be able to do anything this time, you might want to consider telling future interns that if it’s the case. Remind them from your end you can provide references and feedback but they still need to keep up the academic stuff to keep their credit. You could even say something like:
    ” I don’t have the full story but a previous intern told us they were denied credit for handing in work an hour late. There could have been other things involved, but I just want to make sure you plan ahead whilst interning and don’t let your academic obligations drop.”

    Hopefully you can then encourage them to talk to you if they are finding the balance hard and they have the heads up that no matter how positive you are about their internship you can’t help them with the academic stuff.You could also encourage them to talk to you if they do get behind. Would you have been able to give current intern a day off or let them flex their hours so they could get their assignment done?

  34. spek*

    No advice here I just think it’s interesting and amusing that you see letters on this site asking. “How can I avoid my Holiday Party?”, complaining about giving up their free time to spend an evening with a bunch of stiffs from work. Then you get this letter from someone who isn’t invited and wants to crash. Ha.

    1. Kelly L.*

      It’s almost like different people feel differently about things, and it’s also almost like there are cool work parties and dull work parties!

  35. Seastar*

    *blink* Last Christmas, I gave my boss a handmade ornament (a butterfly) because I make an ornament for every important person in my life at least once and enjoy doing so. She seemed happy to receive it, and my only other colleague didn’t know about it. Nobody ever told me I should never give my boss a gift.

    1. KR*

      I think in this case since it’s a one time thing and it’s a handmade gift you’re in the clear. The idea is generally that bosses make more than their direct reports so you don’t want the employees feeling pressured to spend money for someone who makes more than them or feeling obligated to make the gift.

      1. Ok_Fortune*

        That sounds like a kind, small, and appropriate professional gift. If you want to give a gift to your boss, this is probably the best way to go.

  36. Professor Ronny*

    #1 Professor and ex department chair here. As others have have already pointed out, there is almost certainly more going on here. What has not been discussed so far is the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). While you can certainly write a letter/call/email/complain to the university, under FERPA, they cannot discuss the student’s specific situation with you. I cannot even tell a parent their child’s grade or discuss their situation without the student’s permission due to FERPA.

    If what the intern has told you was true (it’s not but if it were true), then the student complaining to the dean would resolve the situation. No dean is going to let a situation like this happen. You too could speak the the dean but be prepared to hear that the situation is not exactly what you heard.

    1. Artemesia*

      The relationship between the professor and the OP should have been a partnership in which each is clear about the goals for the work and the learning and the grade should have been put together in conversation at least with the field supervisor. It would not violate FERPA to discuss the grade because the OP as intern supervisor is part of the internship experience here.

  37. LJay*

    For #5, at my company we are allowed to put charges like that on our company cards, as they were incurred during the course of doing business; if you weren’t at the location and using a rental car to see the client, you wouldn’t have incurred the expense at all.

    I get toll charges from the rental car company like that all the time, and don’t even think twice about expensing them. (I’ve actually got one in my inbox right now).

    The only time this might be different is if you were using the rental car for personal use separately. (And I don’t mean grabbing lunch in the same city type of personal use.) Every once in awhile one of the traveling employees will have a situation where, say, their friend is having a baby shower in a city a couple hours away from where they are located for business travel. We’ll make arrangements with them where they can use the company rental car to travel to and from the other city, but that they pay for their own gas. I’m not sure what would be done with a ticket incurred in that case – we’d likely ask them to pay it out of pocket in that case I think. But it’s never come up. And if they pushed, since we agreed to the off-label use of the rental car to begin with, we’d probably let them expense it (but also probably would not let them use the rental car for extra travel like that again.)

  38. uranus wars*

    I haven’t had time to read the comments yet, but wanted to reply to #2 to let them know I had this happen at work once when my boss went on maternity leave….and Alison’s advice ….the most senior person on your team or the person with the best rapport with her can talk to her about it, pointing out that it’s actually making your team less efficient because you don’t know when she is or isn’t going to want to weigh in on something and that because she’s not fully in the loop, she’s asking people to spend time responding to things she wouldn’t be asking about it if she were at work — and that there’s a plan in place to keep things running while she’s away, and she should trust it and take full advantage of her leave. is the approach I took and it worked wonders — I specifically asked the person who talked to her to highlight the lack of trust.

    I was worried that if I had the conversation it would come across as defensive so someone in our office, but not on our team, had the discussion from the perspective of an outsider and used a “This is how I would feel approach” The reality was that boss was feeling isolated, but she immediately understood the perception and backed off.

  39. RP*

    to OP#1 – University Internship Advisor here to weigh in!

    1. I would say there is more to this story you are not hearing. And like many others, I would emphasize that the student can appeal grading.

    2. Secondly, I work with many students/ employers who are under the misconception that if you receive credit you can’t be paid – and vice versa. They are not linked. Many companies will advertise “we don’t pay because we give credit”. This is not accurate as companies can not give credit.

    If you are finding a pattern of University bureaucracy getting in the way of good hires, I would advise offering some compensation to interns who work 100 hours. It can be a stipend (to offset travel and lunch even). It will increase the quality and if something like this happens again you are now offering more.

  40. Allison*

    1 — Do you know if the intern paid tuition to get credit for this internship? If yes, they have essentially been paying TO work for you, which is a bonkers system regardless, but something worth pushing further in this case. If they did not pay for the credits and don’t need them to graduate…. it’s still a bonkers system because this is essentially an easy out for your company (many companies) not to pay this person, but then it’s kind of a token either way, and what will be more meaningful is the line on their resume. I did many internships (in a time before the crackdown about compensation) but never applied for university credit because it didn’t totally matter to me. So, in short, bad system either way, but may be worth finding out.

    2 — As someone who went through several bosses’ maternity leaves, I feel for you, OP — if you are a boss, PLEASE stay off email. It is so confusing and disruptive not to know whether you’re waiting for feedback on each thing, or to have to balance the feedback with your original boss and your interim boss if they disagree. I feel for the boss — I know I’d have a hard time letting go of my long-term projects — but I’m going to make a real effort to stay hands off when I’m in this position later in my career.

    5 –Thank you for reiterating “you shouldn’t lose money when you travel for work” — it’s easy to think you’re making waves or overstepping when you ask for any (reasonable) incidentals to be covered, but it’s so true.

    1. Artemesia*

      In a poorly run internship you could argue you are paying to work. In a well run internship there are concomitant courses or seminars led by faculty and extensive work integrating the experience with the learning goals of the program. It is not uncommon for universities to run internships for undergrads in several cities and to hire people to manage the instructional component in each city. Yes if someone pays for credits and gets no instruction it is a poorly designed experience on many levels. But that is not always the case.

  41. LilyP*

    It sounds like the whole internship system at this university is really muddying the waters between academic and professional work. It seems really off-base to me that someone could put in many hours of work creating value for a real company, leave that company in good standing, and receive *nothing* in exchange. Failing to meet academic requirements should have academic consequences! But if the student completed all their internship *work*, outside the academic environment, to get absolutely nothing from that because of an academic violation is so harsh, and is not in any way a realistic “real-world consequence”.

    Anyway OP I don’t know that you can do anything to help this student, but I would push your boss or whoever runs the internship program to contact the university and get really clear on *everything* interns need to do to get credit for their work and make sure your program is supporting them in completing all their requirements. It’s unethical for your organization to accept labor in exchange for a promise of academic credit if there’s any real possibility that the credit won’t be granted as promised.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I don’t think this is that unusual?

      1) An internship *should* create something of value. It’s supposed to be real-work experience, not grunt work.
      2) It’s not separate from the academic part. It’s sort of like a lab component to a science class: You can’t do all the work right during lecture but not hand in your lab work and still pass, because they’re not isolated from one another.

      But an internship is not a job, which is why . . . it’s an internship. It’s part of an academic program and there are thus academic strings attached.

      1. LilyP*

        The fact that it creates value for the company (which they don’t have to compensate the worker for) is the entire reason it’s different from lab work or any other work that’s designed for 100% educational purposes. If you agree to compensate someone’s labor with class credit the deal should be “complete the project and leave the company in good standing” = credit and it should be almost impossible to complete your work and NOT get credit for that labor. Any related academic work should be evaluated separately. I’m gathering that’s not how it works in a lot of programs, but I think those programs are inappropriately blurring the line between education and labor

    2. VelociraptorAttack*

      I supervise internships for a university, overseeing them and communicating with students, faculty, and employers. I firmly believe there is far more to this student’s story than OP heard but one thing that I always tell students is that their final grade is dependent both upon their performance on site as well as completing any academic requirements and that if they do not complete the academic requirements, such as a paper at the end of the term, they may not pass the course.

      As for the question of the student receiving nothing in exchange, that is not really the fault of the university. As someone who seems to do something very similar to what I do mentioned upthread, organizations cannot say that you aren’t paid if you receive college credit or that if you receive college credit you cannot be paid. As a nonprofit organization, OP’s company certainly can have unpaid internships, that is no problem at all and in fact, I’ve seen a number of students who do internships at nonprofits, don’t receive pay, and opt not to register them for credit because their program does not require an internship. I would hardly say these students received nothing.

  42. Working Mom Having It All*

    Re OP#2, how likely is it that your manager is ready to come back to work earlier than she had planned?

    After my son was born, my body recovered, and my husband and I figured out how to work it so that we both got adequate sleep (around three months?), I was ready to go back to work. I have never been the stay at home mom type, and yeah, I did not become the stay at home mom type after having my son. I know that a lot of companies don’t give remotely adequate paid leave, and so obviously the wisdom should be for more to be available for those who want it, and to take the maximum amount you can because, hey, you really don’t know. But the fact that work emails are gradually creeping back onto your manager’s radar, to me, means she might be missing work. Especially if her child is more than 6-8 weeks old, which is around the point where you’re starting to feel like yourself again and in a lot of cases you’re starting to get the hang of the whole baby thing.

    This would incline me more to talk to her yourselves (assuming there’s a good relationship there) before going above her head. Maybe there’s a more workable situation that can be reached that will be a win for everyone, without framing it as anyone doing something wrong?

  43. Noah*

    I don’t see OP#2 as saying that boss is creating any efficiency problems. It would be totally uncalled for to talk to her boss. It is Very Normal for people in management positions to remain in contact with their team while on leave. This is not a big deal.

    1. Agent Diane*

      Having agreed a delay to something with the cover for the boss on maternity leave, the team are then having to explain that to their boss who is on maternity leave. That’s creating additional work for them. Maybe not much, but over time it adds up and creates a stressor. It should be managed.

      And whilst bosses do hop on email whilst on leave, they shouldn’t. The point of leave is to have a break from work, not to try to keep working anyway. I’m guilty of it, but my team knows the emails fail off after the first 24 hours (in other words, once the addictive belief work can’t possibly function without me fades).

      1. Noah*

        It may be “extra work” for OP and her co-workers, but that doesn’t mean it is inefficient. Alison regularly warns people who write to her not to make assumptions about why their boss wants them to do something or why they want certain information. Just because the employee thinks it is not valuable does not mean that it actually is not valuable.

        For example, maybe the timing of that announcement is something OP’s boss will have to deal wiht when she gets back and she’d rather take care of some of those things when she’s on leave. Or maybe somebody else inside or outside the organization emailed Boss asking her where the announcement was and Boss–despite being on leave–wanted to answer the question.

        I see no reason why OP’s assumptions about Boss’s needs or reason for doing these things should be relied upon any more than any other employee who is making assumptions about why their boss wants them to do something. In general, per Alison, if your boss asks you to do something, you should trust that they have a good reason.

    2. Lucille2*

      I disagree. It’s creating stress on the team to have their manager on leave contact them on work related things. They are not in the same position to be able to proactively reach out to her for work matters while she is on leave. Staying in contact while on leave is one thing, but following up on work matters with direct reports from leave is another.

  44. Lucille2*

    #5 – I travel frequently for work too, and often rent a car at my destination. Our company policy is that if an employee receives a citation while renting a car for business travel, the employee is on the hook for the fine. If your company is similar, it’s possible that some accounts payable department which has no connection to you or your department is passing this along to you per company policy. It’s probably a somewhat automated process. Try pushing back as Alison suggests, or going through your direct manager to do so. My company happens to have a lot of bureaucratic red tape, so it’s not unusual for employees to have to fight the system on a variety of things.

  45. RickTq*

    OP #1, in business an hour (and sometimes less) can be the difference between winning an RFP and not being able to bid at all.

    Several years ago the City of Los Angeles opened a bid to upgrade a large storage system, the resulting order would be in the $1,000,000 range. One bidder had a relationship with the customer and knew the intimate details of the upgrade request. Note, this is very common and not unethical at all. The other bidders had to get the required information from the manufacturer to be able to respond, and a number of companies turned in their bids on time.

    About 15 minutes after the bid closed the original partner rushed in and tried to submit their bid package. The reports are the city clerk smiled, stated “The bid closed at 2PM and I cannot accept your packaged. May I validate your parking?”

    No, they were not able to submit, and went from a nearly assured sale with $100,00s of dollars in company profit to no business at all.

    1. Tertia*

      Texas once executed someone because a judge refused to accept a stay petition that was 20 minutes late. I imagine he eventually would have been executed anyway, but still.

Comments are closed.