a client hit my parked car, is it gross to floss in the office bathroom, and more

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

1. A client hit my parked car

I am an intern in a law office. The office has a parking lot, but interns are not allowed to park there because it is very small and the higher-ups want to leave the space for clients. I was picking up supplies for the office, so I parked in the lot so that I could unload my car. I parked against the wall of the garage, which is not an official spot, but many people park there anyways. After unloading my car, I left my car in the lot for the day, even though as an intern, I was supposed to move it.

At the end of the day, my car had a large dent in it. I contacted the security guard at the office, who has access to the video cameras in the lot; it was clear that I was the victim of a hit and run. The security guard who watched the video cameras saw that a client had hit my car. That being said, my office says that I am at fault because a) As an intern, I should not have parked in the lot and b) I was not parked in an official spot.

I have a meeting with a higher-up in the agency next week where I can articulate my case and see if they will release footage of the accident to me. I know that the office has no obligation to release the footage to me – their lot is privately owned. However, they watched the footage, they know who did it, and they will not tell me on principle, because I should not have been parked there. I’m not sure how to approach the meeting. Knowing my office, it will turn into a blame-fest where I will get attacked for parking there. I want to keep the meeting focused on the fact that I am the victim of a crime, but I don’t know how to politely redirect the (scary!) loons when they tell me that I should not have been in the lot in the first place.

Report the hit and run to your auto insurance and let them handle it. If they want to try to get the tape from your office, they can do that — but that’s theirs to handle and you shouldn’t be getting into a battle with your office over this, particularly when they’re right about the parking issue on your side (not that you were in the lot so much as that you weren’t in an actual space). Also, that way if someone is going after a client, it’s your insurance, not you personally. (Your company still may not be thrilled about that, but it’s way better than if it’s you.)

2. Is it gross to floss at the bathroom sink at work?

For various reasons, mostly to do with my janky teeth, I need to floss multiple times a day during the workday. I find it gross when people floss at their computers, so I’ve been going into the multi-stall bathroom to floss at the sink. But is that gross too? I felt super awkward the one time a coworker came in while I was flossing. Should I be flossing in a bathroom stall? Am I dramatically overthinking this?

It is fine to floss at a sink in the bathroom, as long as you clean up any mess that results. You don’t need to go in a stall (where the job is going to be harder without a mirror anyway).

The bathroom is the appropriate place for flossing! And far grosser things happen in there, so you are fine.

3. How long should I have to prepare for longer-term travel?

My company asked at the beginning of the year if I would be willing to move to one of our sister sites for 1-2 months to help them get a project off the ground. I responded with some clarifying questions but also with general enthusiasm (it looks like an interesting project and would be a great growth opportunity for me). I didn’t hear back for a month, despite following up multiple times and through various mediums.

I finally heard back about my questions this week and found out part of the reason for the delay is that my manager and the sister site manager are in a tug of war- my manager is re-thinking whether they want me to go, and the sister site manager wants me there. Meanwhile, I’m stuck in limbo and the scheduled start date is rapidly approaching.

I’m pretty frustrated at this point. I’m a planner by nature, and the not knowing is driving me a little crazy. I can’t get back to people on plans we’re trying to make together, I can’t sign up for the regular classes and volunteer events I usually participate in, and I’m worried that if we cut it too close I won’t have time to organize my work at my current site so that it can continue smoothly while I’m gone. I’ve tried bringing this up with the company, but they just brushed it off and told me they’d give me a reasonable amount of time to prepare. Is there any way to say “get me a decision by this date or I’m passing” that doesn’t sound confrontational? Or is this perfectly normal and I’m being unreasonable?

You should be able to say, “In order to go, I’d need to know by (date). If it’s still unresolved then, I’d need to say no, because of commitments that I need to make here.” (This assumes that going is truly voluntary, which it sounds like it is.)

Be aware, though, that this might increase the chance of you not going. If you really want to go, it might make sense to decide if you’re willing to tolerate longer uncertainty as the price for going.

Alternately, you could say, “If you do end up sending me, I’d need X weeks advance notice to get things in shape at home, serve out commitments, etc.”

4. How do I let people know I’m fine with not getting promoted?

I work in a large organization as a design and production manager. This is my first time as a manager.

My own manager has created a new role of head of design and production in my team. The head should be very experienced, and wouldn’t replace my role but would manage mine. I understand the strategic need for the role and in fact would welcome it. It reflects the typical structure of other organizations in my industry. Believe me when I say that the head job is not a job that I would get or even would want for many reasons – including that I am way too inexperienced. It would be a bad decision for all concerned.

I have a good relationship with my manager. We are having an open dialogue about the restructuring, she’s taking on board my feedback, and I’m hoping to use this opportunity to tailor my job better to how it suits me and work out a career progression plan. However, some colleagues have been really surprised to hear I’m not applying for the head role, have encouraged me to even when I explain why I don’t want it, or they think I’m sabotaging my own career.

My organization is big but word travels fast. I try not to care what people think if it’s nothing to do with them. But I’m worried that colleagues I’m not close to will think that I’ve been overlooked or that I applied and got rejected for the job (there has been a lot restructuring across the organization recently and a lot of drama and gossip along these lines to go with it). I’ve built up a reputation at work as someone who is smart, highly competent, and progresses quickly (I’m under 30, which is unusual for managers here). I don’t want to compromise that. I know there’s only so much I can control about gossip, but I also want to minimize it if I can.

When the head is appointed, how do I communicate to the larger network of colleagues (I’m talking dozens if not hundreds of people) that I’m really fine with it and that I’m figuring things out for my own career path? I wondered if I could ask a few trusted colleagues to spread the news for me if and when it comes up in their circles – like proactive, positive gossiping. But maybe that’s just fighting fire with fire?

I think you’re worrying about it too much! When people ask you about it, say something enthusiastic like “I think it’s a great idea to create the role! It’s not the right position for me right now, but I’m excited to see who we hire.” If people seem surprised, say, “It’s really not the right move for me right now! The person in that role should have more X experience than I do. I could see applying for it at some point down the road, but not now.” Or even just: “That’s a more senior role than you might realize. So not now, but maybe at some point.” And once a hire has been made: “I’m really excited to work with her. She brings a ton of experience that will be great for our team.”

You’re not going to reach every single person with this message, but that’s okay. The people you work with most closely will hear it. And for everyone else, if you’re known to be smart and competent and progressing fast, that’s not going to be undone by one outside hire.

But if you want to, you can certainly say something to people you’re close with like, “If you hear people speculating about this, would you explain it’s a more senior role than they realize and I’m fully on board with this plan?” I wouldn’t push it too much, or you’ll actually be feeding drama (and it risks becoming “Jane is really concerned about what people will think about this”).

Read an update to this letter here.

5. I’m not paid overtime and my pay is docked when I’m out for a few hours

I’m currently in a new post where I am described as an exempt employee, which I understand to mean that I can be asked to do overtime with out any overtime pay.

My employer, however, deducts pay for any amount of time out of office during the traditional working hours. For example, if I leave the office for two hours to go to the doctor, my salary is prorated. In my previous experience with this field, this is quite unusual as it is expected that the periods of work outside of normal work hours will more than compensate for these rare occasions.

Is my expectation that this time should not be deducted unreasonable? Is this something worth raising with my employer?

This is illegal. If you’re being treated as exempt (not paid overtime), they aren’t allowed to dock your salary like that — and by doing that, they’re forfeiting the legal right to treat you as exempt … which means if you wanted to push it, you’d have a claim for overtime for all hours you’ve worked over 40 in any given week (including back pay).

I’d say this to your employer: “I’m not clear on whether my position is exempt or non-exempt. I’d thought I was classified as exempt and thus not eligible for overtime pay, but docking my pay when I’m out of the office means I’m being treated as non-exempt. We can get in legal trouble for doing it both ways — it has to be one or the other. Do you want to consider me non-exempt, meaning we can dock my pay like that but also need to pay overtime? Or do you want me to stay exempt from overtime, meaning that we can’t dock that time?”

If they dispute that, then say, “Hmmm, the law is actually pretty clear. Will you take another look at it? I’ll send you the Department of Labor factsheet and you can take a look..” And then send them this.

{ 377 comments… read them below }

  1. Viki*

    RE: OP1

    This is not something you can win via your boss/your firm. The hit and run is an issue and I’m not a lawyer, but your car was in a non-official spot (which presumably was non-official for a reason), and wasn’t supposed to be there by the rules of your firm. Getting them to release the footage is only burning goodwill you would have.

    Go through your insurance, like everyone else would.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      Yup. You lose a lot of protections when it isn’t in an official spot.

      And the reality is that you didn’t move the car when you were done unloading.

      I don’t know the shape of the lot. But someone parked in an unofficial spot can make it harder for others to maneuver.

      Let the insurance figure this out. They know all the ins and outs of what protections are available to you.

      1. Wintermute*

        I second this, and I think you hit on something important when you said “what protections are available”– obviously hit-and-run is a crime, and that’s separate from any parking issue (by that I mean even if the other party is 100% at-fault it’s still a crime to leave the scene) but there are complicated fault-finding asspects to this an insurance company will be well familiar with but you would not be, and they’re highly dependent on your state. An unoccupied vehicle also has different rules than an occupied one, so this may or may not be considered a “motor vehicle accident”.

        It’s a messy situation, you pay insurance precisely to have people handle situations like this.

        1. Mk2*

          I saw a hit and run when a car was parked and no one was inside. The driver that hit the parked car looked around and then drove off. I took the license and car information and called my local police department. The police said they couldn’t do anything about it because the owner of the car hadn’t seen it and that it wasn’t a technical “hit and run.” So I left a note for the parked car with the information and my phone number. Never heard from them. I agree deal with your insurance but I am thinking you may have big issues because you weren’t in an official spot. I would be interested in hearing from people about this who may be insurance. I was shocked when the police were so blasé about someone denting another car and driving off but they said it was an insurance issue not a police matter.

          1. Busy*

            It being private property, and depending on the laws in your area, complicates matters even more. A parking lot near where I live has two entrance/exists that when taken, can cut off significant time for people trying to get from one specific place to another. The issue is, this isn’t a road. It is a private parking lot. A guy I knew was leaving work and had to walk across this part of the parking lot to get to his car. A car came flying in using the parking lot as a by-pass and hit the guy. Broke his femur and other bones and flipped him in the air. The driver was totally uninsured. Even with that, it still wasn’t a police matter. It was totally civil. Private property so he didn’t “need” car insurance and didn’t “need” to take care for pedestrians. If the guy who was hit wanted any recourse, he would have had to sue the guy personally or the parking lot owners.

            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

              That seems bizarre. What if the pedestrian had been killed? Would that still be a civil matter only?

              1. Manders*

                So this is a kind of weird area of law, but killing someone in a traffic accident isn’t automatically manslaughter or murder. It can be under some circumstances, and police would probably investigate just in case, but it isn’t always a crime.

                I don’t want to derail too much, but just FYI, this can be a pretty weird area of the law and the OP’s insurance company should be taking care of it.

            2. FiveWheels*

              If he wanted any recourse he’d presumably need to sue anyway – in my jurisdiction you won’t get compensation from a criminal conviction.

            3. Tired of Winter*

              This sounds very bizarre. I was ticketed (improperly) by the police for parking in a handicapped space in the parking lot of my mother’s nursing home. Definitely private property. Damage to life and property are still crimes even on private property, otherwise we couldn’t call the police when our homes are broken into or vandalized. Private property owners pay taxes for police protection too. Doesn’t make sense.

              1. Frank Doyle*

                Parking in handicapped spaces is a whole other animal, I think. Also, in New Jersey at least, a private lot owner can make it so that traffic violations *are* enforceable on their property. But they have to make that happen deliberately, I can’t remember how. If they do that, then Stop signs really are Stop signs in their parking lot. But otherwise they’re just suggestions.

            4. whatever works*

              I actually was able to use this to my advantage as a 20 year old.
              Drove my (of age) boyfriend to buy beer, police watched him go in to the supermarket and come out with a 6 pack, and then started tailing us. They promptly pulled me over for ‘failure to use my turn signal’ in the parking lot and arrested me for having alcohol in the backseat. Turns out its illegal to drive with alcohol in the car if you aren’t 21.
              My lawyer was able to get it thrown out because it wasn’t a legal stop – police can’t mandate use of a turn signal in a parking lot.

              1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

                In a lot of municipalities, it’s not legal to store alcohol in the passenger cabin period. Alcohol, even an airplane bottle, has to go in the trunk.

                1. Kal*

                  My area, the rule is “anywhere where the driver could potentially reach it”, so for any regular car, that means trunk is your only option. In a van or other longer vehicles, further back can be okay. In cargo vans where you have the front seats and the rest is all cargo space but there’s no real divider – the driver could access alcohol in the front end of the cargo space, so this keeps that potential covered.

                  This is a lot of words to say: yeah, for anyone who’s the least bit unsure of the laws in their area, trunk is always your best bet.

                  And to bring it back onto topic, its just further proof that road laws are complicated and vary greatly by area, so insurance will have a much better idea of how it all applies than your average driver.

          2. Beadbed Librarian*

            Wow different areas different police reactions. My car was hit and run on the street and I wasn’t there when it happened but it was witnessed.
            The witness left a note and called the police but I got lucky and came out about 5 minutes later. I followed up with the police and was lucky the witness was still in the area.
            I was also lucky that it was a fabulous witness who happened to see the vehicle an hour or so later and called the non emergency line to let the police know.

            My point is definitely follow up because you don’t know which way it will go.

            1. Kaybee*

              I was the witness in a similar situation! I saw a hit and run in a parking lot; the driver then proceeded to park on the other side of the (very large strip mall) parking lot. I called the non-emergency police line and they started a police report and gave me the report number to leave on the hit car. They also said they would send someone to the location where the offending driver had parked. I was leaving when I saw the accident so I don’t know if the officer was able to get there in time, but they definitely took it seriously. So reiterating your point to follow up because the response varies by jurisdiction!

          3. Nervous Accountant*

            My (legally) parked car was completely totalled when a hit and run driver crashed in to it…$7k worth of damage. Police were also super blase about it. I know worse things happen in the wolrd, but I’m hoping it’s b/c there were no people injured they didn’t really treat it as something important.

            1. noahwynn*

              If it is anything like it is around here, they don’t care because of the shear volume. Minneapolis in the winter time, with cars parked on the streets, there are a crazy amount of hit and run accidents as people slide into parked cars and don’t bother to even leave a note. You can report it, but the police are not going to spend much time at all on investigation. They simply have more productive things to do. Also, arresting someone for committing the crime of a hit-and-run has zero to do with actual monetary compensation. You’d still need to either sue or go after their insurance to recoup any costs you have.

              1. In the provinces*

                When my wife and I were in Portland, OR a year-and-a-half ago, our car was stolen off the street. The police there weren’t at all interested in that, either.

        2. JeanLouiseFinch*

          Although I agree that there is some fault in parking in an “unofficial” spot, there is something very wrong and unethical about a law firm allowing its client to commit a crime, particularly a crime that will damage one of my employees. If I was the OP, I would allow my insurer to pursue this, but if she gets any blow back from the the law firm, she should seriously question whether this firm’s name on her resume will gain her any points in the long run. It might seem really picky, but the legal community is not terribly large, even in a big city like mine, and lawyers are very gossipy, as a group. Thus, reputation means a lot. If the OP is working for a firm that is that unethical, she might want to look for another position with a firm that has a better set of ethics.

          1. Avsline*

            They may not ethically have a choice. Conflict between client confidentially and employee on a minor matter? Client confidentiality wins.

            I have no idea where this person lives and what their state bar would say about revealing identity of client to third parties, but in mine, there’s no way I’d ever release that info without a court order.

            A lawyer I know was sanctioned for revealing the fact someone was a client to cops investigating something the client did unrelated to the attorneys representation.

            In my state, it’s a sancrionable offense to reveal the name of a client
            barring client permission, a court order, or imminent danger of a serious nature such as child abuse or murdee.

            1. Someone Else*

              Wouldn’t this not necessarily be admitting they’re a client? It’d be admitting “a person driving the car with this license plate was in this parking lot”. Or is that tantamount to naming them a client since why else would they be in the lot?

        3. Le Sigh*

          I had this happen to me (my car got hit, doing $5K in damage). Someone left a note letting me know what happened with the make/model and half the plates. No phone number — just from a “friendly neighbor.” But it was helpful. I called the cops, who took the note as proof of a hit and run and created a report for insurance. They were, uh, pretty clear they weren’t going to find the car (nor did they seem very concerned about it), but were happy to file a report for insurance, at least. Under my policy, hit and runs have a smaller deductible and don’t raise your rates — so I will be forever grateful to whoever left the note (even if it’s the person who hit me). Otherwise, it would have cost me a lot more.

        4. Burned Out Supervisor*

          What “Busy” said. Hitting a car in a private lot and leaving the scene isn’t necessarily a criminal issue, it’s a civil issue that falls under property laws. If the aggrieved party can prove that the person hit their car, the at-fault party is only obligated to make the person whole monetarily. Doesn’t make it right, but there we are.

      2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        I know in my state at least you loose a lot of protections even when you are not fully in your spot. If any part of your car is sticking over the line, you loose protection on that part of your car. I don’t know if this applies in other states though.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          It probably applies in some form or fashion. I had someone hit my car in the office parking lot (the person actually ripped the front bumper off my car) and drive off. Someone saw and called the police. They came out and walked over to my car and checked to see how it was parked. I remember the officer saying “you’re straight in the center of your spot, so you should be fine”. Don’t know what would’ve happened if I had been parked off-center, but he checked for that.

        2. Brett*

          Varies completely by state. Some states have a “last clear chance” doctrine that would remove the negligence from improperly parking.
          (Otherwise, consider that this could mean that the person who parked the car was responsible for the damage to the car of the person who did the hit and run….)

    2. Magenta Sky*

      In terms of the accident, yeah, there’s some liability on the part of the letter writer.

      However, hit and run is a crime, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. While the company may not want to share the identify of the client with the intern, the choice the insurance company will give them is to fork over the video to them, or to the police. As a law firm, they will certainly know that.

      There’s a very good chance the letter writer will end up losing the internship out of it, but that sounds suspiciously like retribution for reporting a crime to the appropriate authorities, which is very thin ice. Especially for a lawyer. There’s certainly some leverage there.

      1. Magenta Sky*

        And on another note, if the letter writer has comprehensive insurance, it’s probably at least technically required the damage be reported to them, no matter what.

      2. MK*

        That depends on jurisdiction. In some, “hit and run” doesn’t apply when there are no injuries; in mine, it is a petty offence and it must be done with deliberate intent. I realise the OP might not themselves know how the dent happened, but, if it is a small one, it’s possible the other driver caused it while trying to maneuver around the (wrongly positioned) OP’s car and didn’t realise they caused damage.

                1. Avsline*

                  An infraction is a crime. It’s not a felony or possibly even a misdemeanor.

                  But I know if no jurisdictions in the US this isn’t at least a misdemeanor.

                  The issue is this: cops typically can’t arrest for misdemeanors that they don’t immediately witness. So they don’t usually bother investigating.

                  I suspect that, given the minimal damage, it’s a misdemeanor and they won’t bother.

                  Hate to say it, but a hit and run on an old beeater car vs a hit and run totally a new Mercedes can be a different level if criminal wrong.

                2. doreen*

                  @ Avsline – in my jurisdiction ( NY), a crime is specifically defined as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Lesser offenses such as violations and traffic infractions are not “crimes” .Leaving the scene of an accident without reporting is a traffic infraction with a possible fine of $250 or up to 15 days incarceration unless there is personal injury. Only when personal injury is involved does it become a crime. (felony or misdemeanor depends on the specifics and whether there are previous convictions)

                3. fposte*

                  @doreen–yes, same in mine. It comes up all the time with drinking offenses on campus that could be charged either way.

              1. MK*

                In my jurisdiction there is no such thing as “non-malicious vandalism”; vandalism requires intent. And destruction of property without intent, a.k.a. negligence, is not a crime at all, under any circumstances. Of course you are entitled to civil damages, but you cannot involve the police.

          1. Mk2*

            I saw it happen called my local police and they said it wasn’t their issue because the car was parked, no one was inside or hurt. They said it was an insurance issue. The car had a huge dent too…

            1. Tired of Winter*

              Must have happened in Chicago where the police can’t be bothered with this little stuff. In my little suburb this wouldn’t have happened.

              1. Tired of Winter*

                Another thing…folks that accidentally hit things are bad drivers and a public nuisance. It is in the public interest for the police to deal with them.

                1. CommanderBanana*

                  I think a lot of it depends on how the dispatcher is feeling that day. We have an intersection that was notorious for illegal right-turn-on-reds right outside a school and more than one pedestrian got clipped (they finally changed the light pattern so it happens less often) and I nearly got run over by someone making an illegal right-hand turn, who then parked right after the intersection and got out to go into a dry cleaners.

                  So, I had the car, the license plate, the person – I called the non-emergency number and the dispatcher told me that “because police hadn’t seen it they couldn’t do anything.” So I guess in my city you can murder someone as long as you’re not within sightline of a police officer? I think the dispatcher just DGAF.

                2. doreen*

                  It’s probably not that the dispatcher DGAF , but as someone mentioned above in some jurisdictions, police officers cannot arrest someone for a misdemeanor that hey did not observe, and I doubt if there is anywhere that police can ticket someone for a traffic infraction they didn’t observe. Even red light and speeding camera tickets are not written against a person because there is no way to prove who was driving. They are written against a vehicle and the owner is responsible, just like parking tickets,

              2. So long and thanks for all the fish*

                I live in a rural college town. Someone backed into my friend while my friend was waiting to leave the parking lot, breaking her window, and drove off. My friend got her license plate and called the police, who found the girl, but didn’t want to charge her since all the damage would be covered by insurance (though the amount of damage she left made a hit and run a felony in my state). I knew police have a lot of discretion, but that just floored me.

                1. CommanderBanana*

                  They have a LOT of discretion. I live in a large metropolitan area but within a geographically very small independent city with its own police force, and because of certain volunteer work I do interact with the police quite frequently, and a LOT of stuff just comes down to was the officer busy that day, did they feel like filing the paperwork, did they have to respond to a call from that same person earlier that week, were they coming off shift and didn’t want to deal with it, did someone mouth off to them at the response site, etc.

                  So we’ll get very similar situations with radically different outcomes.

          2. blackcat*

            If the damage is large, insurance will run their own investigation. This happened to a friend of mine who had his car backed over by a boat in a trailer. Insurance gave me $$$ almost immediately (his car was totaled). Police weren’t interested.
            Then the insurance company hired a PI, found the boat owner/driver and sued. They sent my friend a letter a year later letting him now the claim was “fully closed” or some thing like that.

    3. zaracat*

      Yes, definitely let the insurance company handle it. Part of what your premiums pay for is having professionals undertake the time-consuming and emotionally stressful work of handling the claim, including things like dealing with the other party, investigating the incident, deciding who is at fault, and pursuing costs if that applies.

      Whoever is at fault, you as an individual almost certainly don’t have any rights to access the company’s security camera footage – the company “owns” it and can decide who is permitted to have it and for what purposes it can be used. If there was a crime involved, the police might have rights to obtain the footage, but they’re very unlikely to be interested in pursuing a “failure to stop” or “non-report of an incident” (or whatever constitutes a crime according to your local laws) which didn’t involve injury. Your insurance company almost certainly doesn’t have a “right” to obtain the footage either, but insurance companies have ways of exerting influence that you as an individual don’t.

      Pushing this with your company will not only use up goodwill because of the fact that you were disregarding an instruction given to you, but may make you appear ignorant of how the law and rights around this sort of thing actually work.

      1. zaracat*

        Also, an issue that makes this a bit different from an unknown driver denting your car in, say, a supermarket carpark is client confidentiality. I’m not sure how far that extends with legal clients so it may be irrrelevant in this case, but a comparison would be medical patients who (in my country at least) have a right to confidentiality which extends even to the fact that they are a patient of a particular doctor/practice, and releasing security camera footage whose original intention was related to patient/staff safety or crimes against the practice itself (eg vandalism, theft) could easily breach that.

      2. Tired of Winter*

        And there is a little matter of contributory negligence. OP should probably drop it and consider it a lesson from the school of hard knocks.

    4. RUKidding*

      Yup. I was parked perpendicular to other cars once (grocery store parking lot) in a “not official” parking space. I was in the car (waiting on someone). Woman got in her car and backed into me. She didnt even look but thsts another story. She told me she wasn’t responsible because I wasn’t in an “official” parking spot. Her insurance paid for my repairs, the rental car, etc… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      1. Mary Ann*

        Yes because the moving car is the one responsible. She should have called the police and filed a police report.
        I’ve worked in many places with parking lots.

      2. Mk2*

        But you were also waiting if you had parked and turned your car off in an official stop it may be different.

      3. MK*

        It’s also possible that the insurance company didn’t want to fight the claim for some reason; they make these decisions based on all sorts of factors.

    5. AJ*

      I’m wondering about the insurance issue if the OP tells them that they were on the firm’s business when they parked there in the first instance. Wouldn’t (shouldn’t) the OP be covered by the firm’s insurance?

      1. Cat Wrangler*

        I don’t know the law in the US re car insurance but in the UK, we would need to have ‘business’ use on our policy, not just commuting to and from one place or they might refuse the claim or even void the policy for not properly declaring the intended useage. It might be different across the Atlantic of course.

      2. Lady Jay*

        No, at least in the US. Firm insurance covers the space/building, car insurance covers vehicle. And once the deductible is paid, OP’s insurance should cover the damage with no real issue.

        (Whether the police will take a report is another question, since it happened on private property. I learned the hard way several years ago that cops don’t take reports for fender benders on private property [someone backed into me in a hotel parking lot]. That said, the fact that this is a hit and run ups the ante, so the police may be involved despite the private lot.)

      3. Clorinda*

        OP was no longer parked on the firm’s business when s/he left the car in an unofficial spot after unloading, so I wouldn’t go there.

        1. Cat Wrangler*

          If the OP used the vehicle for ‘collecting supplies’ then it suggests that OP used the car in the execution of their duties, not just commuting to and from work. In the UK, that would require business use insurance as well as social / commuting insurance and if you didn’t have it, the insurance could be voided. I don’t know if this is the case in the US.

          1. doreen*

            Would you need business use coverage if you just ran the occasional errand ? I know my US insurance company asks if I use the car for business and it would change the rates, but they are talking about regular use, like a salesperson or food delivery. They’re not asking if I pick up donuts on the way to work or drop the mail at the post office on my way home or pick up food for a meeting once in a while. It’s not clear to me from the OP that this a regular part of her job rather than occassional.

            1. Jem One*

              “Would you need business use coverage if you just ran the occasional errand ?”

              I’m not the poster you asked, but in the UK at least, yes you would. Mainly because insurance companies will use any excuse to wiggle out of a claim. So if they can say “you were using the car for business use” and you’re not covered for that, then they will. Even if it’s only the occasional errand.

      4. Lynca*

        My thought is no. Even in private parking lots, collisions are generally not addressed by the business’ insurance. It’s between the parties involved.

        Pretty much the only thing I see the OP needs clarity on is how they’re supposed to drop off supplies. They really should be dealing with their own insurance to resolve this.

      5. CDM*

        For the US system of insurance, the Hired and Non Owned Auto Liability coverage carried by the law firm (if the firm carries such coverage – most businesses should) would cover the firm’s liability and the intern’s liability for damages caused by the intern in the course of operating a vehicle on the firm’s business, including damages caused while loading and unloading the vehicle.

        There usually is coverage for property damage done to a hired car, (so if the intern had been using a rental car, there would be coverage for the damage to the car) but not for damage done to a non owned car. Non owned cars are expected to be covered under the owner’s insurance for property damage.

        Most employees aren’t aware of the financial risk for potential collisions that they take on by agreeing to use their own cars for their employer’s business.

        And the intern was no longer using the car in the course of the firm’s business once they finished unloading the car.

    6. AcademiaNut*

      I was thinking about it, and what the OP is asking is not just viewing the surveillance footage. She’s asking for her employer to turn over the contact details for one of their clients her so that she can personally go after them for the damages to the car. That’s just not going to happen! Turning over private details to a third party would seriously damage relations with a client even without considerations of client confidentiality.

      If the OP goes through her insurance, and the insurance files the police report, or the OP files a police report, then it would be the police asking for the footage. The police can then get the license plate number and determine whose car it was. That’s an entirely different chain of events.

    7. Duck Duck Goose*

      I just want to offer a word of warning about going through insurance, and this might have just been a one-time event on my end that didn’t work out, but my wife was in a minor hit and run last year. We called the police and they took a statement. We then called her insurance company, but they said they were not allowed to request surveillance footage themselves – they had to go through the police (who never returned the calls from our insurance provider or ourselves) to request the footage. We ended up not getting the only footage that might exist because over a month passed despite repeated phone calls to the police and the footage was then deleted.

      This could have been a screw up on behalf of our insurance company or something to do with our state (Florida), but it’s just something to be aware of in case it happens to OP1.

    8. Triceratops*

      As an addendum to the insurance thing — OP1, if you don’t have collision insurance but you do have uninsured motorist coverage, they may cover this since they don’t know who did it. My mirror was broken in a similar “hit-and-run” (the car was parked and I found it when I got back). I don’t have collision coverage, and my uninsured motorist coverage *would* have covered it (except the repair was well below the $250 deductible so I decided not to file a claim).

    9. CCM, Ltd*

      As a former auto insurance claims representative – in the absence of any unusual state laws, I’d be very surprised for the insurance to find any fault on behalf of the LW for the claim. Whether parked legally or not, the client had a duty not to hit a car that presumably he/she could clearly see – they breached that duty and caused damages to the LW’s vehicle. The legality of her parking doesn’t generally come into play when looking at civil liability for negligence. Whether or not someone is parked legally, you can’t just hit their car.

      That said, accidents on private property can be difficult to investigate. Her first party collision coverage would cover the repair cost subject to her deductible, and then her insurance company may try to find the identity of the client and subrogate to get their money back, but if it’s a fairly low cost claim, they might skip subro.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        But if the LW was parked in an unofficial spot, that means she was potentially making it difficult for others to maneuver through the lot. So wouldn’t they both be considered at fault from an insurance perspective?

        1. Hallowflame*

          By leaving the car in an unofficial parking spot, LW was accepting the liability of being towed, not hit. The damage the other driver did to LW’s car was avoidable by either going another rout through the parking structure, or if that wasn’t possible, having the parking structure management tow LW’s car.

        2. Ali*

          A driver is going to be at fault for hitting a stationary object 99.9% of the time. It doesn’t matter that the vehicle was parked illegally.
          My concern is that this intern may likely not have collision insurance, and is even less likely to have UMPD, so I suspect their insurer won’t be able to do anything for them.

          -claim examiner

    10. VictorianCowgirl*

      Honestly, I would let the whole thing go. OP’s insurance rates will go up after the repair and unless it is more than just a dent, I can’t see that being fiscally worth the effort of bringing the client to justice on principal and as another commentor said “burning goodwill” with her internship since they were parked illegally. It sounds like they’re not in a very nice office, so why poke the bear? Higher rates over the years will be more than a dent repair.

    11. RB*

      The person who committed the accident is still the one mostly at fault, regardless of mitigating circumstances. My car was dinged in a grocery store parking lot and the grocery store said that if they could find the accident on their video surveillance footage, they could release the video to the police but not to me personally. So that is another option for you — the non-emergency police line.

    12. Kate*

      If your vehicle is parked and unoccupied, you have zero liability (and the person who hit your car has full liability for hitting your car) – even if your car is parked illegally. This doesn’t mean your insurance company will be able to pursue the person who hit your car (or that the company has to give you the video), but it won’t count as an at fault accident on your insurance. Unfortunately, people hit-and-run A LOT, so it will be an uphill battle to fight (and is honestly often not worth the effort unless there are injuries or serious property damage). People get very stuck on principle (they hit my car, it’s their fault, I want them to pay) rather than practicalities when it comes to car accidents, especially minor ones…but, if you have collision coverage, file a claim with your insurance company and they will help you out. You’ll have to pay your deductible, but the rest of the repairs will fall under your collision coverage, and you won’t have to battle with your company.

      (Source: worked car insurance claims for 2.5 years at two different companies covering over 20 states.)

  2. Not A Manager*

    LW1 – Would you rather be right, or would you rather be employed? This is not the hill to die on.

    1. Sunshine*

      She’s an intern. Meaning she’s not employed, she’s providing free labour, using her own car, to a law firm who have responded to a crime committed against her with ‘sucks to be you’.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        There’s nothing indicating she’s unpaid. Many internships are paid, and some are paid fairly well, so I don’t want to derail on that (since there’s nothing indicating it in the letter).

        1. Sunshine*

          Ok – that’s really not the case in many fields in the U.K. and law was a field specifically mentioned in one study from a group seeking to ban the practice. (Because it is, in fact, exploitative).

          I won’t mention it further but I do feel whether she is paid is relevant. There’s a huge difference between expecting a salaried employee to absorb a cost versus expecting the person you’re exploiting for free labour to absorb a cost.

          1. RUKidding*

            I dont think either paid/unpaid should absorb the cost. Particularly as she was getting supplies for the employer, with her personal vehicle.

            And not to put too fine of a point on it but the person who hit her committed a “hit and run,” an actual crime.

            1. MK*

              Actually, the OP says they were done with getting supplies, but didn’t move the car afterwards. Sounds to me that they tried to get away with parking there for a day on the pretense of “I was getting supplies”.

          2. Mary*

            (Actually, that’s not true in the UK either. It’s confusing because we use internship and placement interchangeably, usually to mean a year in industry in the third year of a four-year degree, or a three-month summer placement. Whether or not they are paid depends on the sector, but most summer placements will be paid in law, finance, engineering, digital technology, hospitality.
            In my experience, they are more likely to be unpaid in media, fashion, theatre, and social media, marketing and advertising straddle the two: the more commercial and business-focussed end will be paid, and the more creative end will be unpaid. If you look at graduate websites like Target Jobs, GradCracker, Prospects etc you’ll see tons of paid placement/internships.

            Just adding this because there’s a LOT of confusion around this in the UK: the media relies heavily on unpaid internships, and therefore assumes that all internships are unpaid. We try to dispel this myth with students!)

          3. NerdyKris*

            You seem to be missing the part where she wasn’t in a real space and left her car there. If you’re parked somewhere you’re not supposed to be, you’re increasing your risk of being hit by cars trying to use the correct spaces.

            1. Hallowflame*

              By parking improperly, LW assumed the risk of being towed, not hit. The other driver was still responsible for not hitting any other vehicles or damaging any property.

              1. Anna*

                This. The driver of the other car is responsible for maintaining control of their vehicle. It’s why if you hit a piece of debris in the road, your insurance might not give you money for repairs, despite it technically not being your fault. You, as the driver, are responsible for making sure you assess your surroundings and drive accordingly.

          4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I don’t think compensation affects the outcome or approach, though. Speaking personally, I don’t think it’s appropriate to ask an intern to absorb the cost, full stop.

          1. Justice Beaver*

            OP’s language points more to her being in the US though, or at least not in the UK (parking lot instead of car park)

        1. Valkyrie*

          In Australia, you have maybe 10% of law interns paid. The vast majority are unpaid (and it’s highly desired for them to work full time, long hours and clients will still be charged for their work)

          1. blackcat*

            Huh, this seems to be one of the few times when US labor law offers more protections than other countries! It is definitely illegal for a for-profit to profit from the work of an unpaid intern.

        2. Jen*

          Extremely, in the US. I wasn’t interested in Biglaw but I did do those interviews because so much money (like 25k just for the summer) If you want to be hired in a big firm, this is how you do it too.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        She’s likely compensated, but their issue is not “sucks to be you.” Their issue is that they think the intern engaged in contributory negligence in a private lot, and they don’t want to turn over their recordings unless pressed to do so.

        Alison is right that the best move is to go through the insurance company. OP will just burn goodwill and invite stress if they take on the investigative effort, especially if this is a toxic workplace (which it sounds like, if I’m correctly reading between the lines). Insurance companies are paid to investigate stuff like this—turn it over to them and their attorneys to try to recoup from the offending party.

        1. Sunshine*

          Must not be in the U.K. then – a 2018 investigation found that 80% of law internships in the U.K. were unpaid.

          I absolutely agree that it’s best to go through the insurance company but this firm are also being needlessly obstructive.

          1. Jen*

            That is true for the US too (I did several for government groups that were unpaid), except for law firms. Law firms are not really supposed to have unpaid interns.

              1. teclatrans*

                All law firms are private firms here, and as others are saying, their internships are likely to be paid. We hear what you are saying about the UK, but it just doesn’t apply here.

            1. JSPA*

              Recently? There have been crack-downs on misuse of interns; many firms now find it safer to pay at least minimum wage.

        2. Sunshine*

          Maybe in the US? A 2018 investigation found that 80% of law internships in the U.K. were unpaid; it’s the norm so I assumed she would not be compensated.

          I only really mentioned it in the first place because calling an intern ‘employed’ is incorrect imo, and acting like an intern should be so grateful for their ‘employment’ that they should back off from obtaining their legal due also struck me as wrong.

          1. Duchess Conseula Banana Hammock*

            You keep bringing up this study when there’s no reason to think she’s in the UK, and indeed reason to think she’s in the US.

            I don’t think anyone is suggesting the poster should “back off from obtaining their legal due.”

          2. Jen*

            Is that true for law firms in the UK though? There is a big difference in standard compensation for a public interest/government internship and law firm interns in the US. Firms, in my experience almost always paid whereas public interest paid nominally or not at all.

      1. VictorianCowgirl*

        I agree with Not A Manager and yes I would let it go regardless, because their insurance rates will just go up after the repair and will end up costing so much more than either looking at a dent or repairing out of pocket for a few hundred bucks. And yes, I know some dent repairs can be in the thousands, but just a regular dent as described isn’t worth the insurance claim and subsequent rate hikes generally, nor can I imagine any of this being worth a bad referral.

    2. Not A Manager*

      It’s a bit nitpicky to obsess about the term “employed.”

      @LW1 – Would you rather maintain your association with this firm, in whatever manner it currently takes, which you obviously find beneficial to you or you wouldn’t be doing it, or would you rather have them kick you to the curb?

      My issue is less about who is right regarding the surveillance tapes, and more about LW’s rather confrontational attitude toward this upcoming meeting, and somewhat rigid attitude regarding the parking situation. I think LW is going to alienate the people at this meeting, and my question remains – is it worth alienating people who are important to your career, over a fender-bender?

      1. Thursday Next*

        It sounds to me like LW has already alienated people by pushing this far, and that might need to be part of the calculation.

        LW, I don’t know how long your internship is, or whether this is one of those law firm internships that feed into FT jobs at the firm. I think going through insurance, and perhaps even dropping the meeting, would be a good move if you’re interested in maintaining a relationship with the firm.

      2. Jen*

        I wouldnquesrion where OP is in their law school. There are some timing issues. If she wants to go the firm route and she is, say, a 3L and has nothing else lined up, sticking it out may be worthwhile. It can be really hard to get certain kinds of jobs after a certain point in law school. Fall hiring is over at this point and winter she would already have to be on. There are some summer hires but they are rarer. Jumping firms after 2 years is way more doable. The legal market is generally a bit better than when I graduated, but not too much.

      3. JSPA*

        gaming this out further:

        Do you still hope to get either a decent reference or perhaps even a job with the firm?

        If you expect such a thing, consider that you have

        a) broken at least two rules (a “whether you may park in the lot” directive and the implicit universal rules of parking only in a designated parking spot).

        b) threatened to go after a paying client for what may or may NOT be an illegal act in your location (given both the private nature of the lot and the aspect of contributory negligence, as well as variations in state laws).

        c) excused your breaking of the rules with “everybody does it.” Some law firms might be fine with an employee whose philosophy is, “breaking rules is OK if everybody does it.” Do you want to work for those firms? Also consider that more firms may be OK with the philosophy itself, than they are with hiring someone who have that philosophy documented, on paper. I’m guessing / hoping that you really don’t want that following you around.

        d) presumed that an entire law firm will not fight back, in defense of a client, given that you engaged in documented contributory negligence as well as garden-variety rule-breaking. This does not speak terribly well for your overall awareness of how the law and lawyers work. Absent retaliation, they could still express their surprise / dismay at this (rather gaping) lacuna.

        I see a pretty high likelihood that the courts hand you your ass on a plate if you try to sue the client. Also that the law firm gives you, at best, a “she interned here from date to date” reference. Alison charitably did not spell out these downsides in detail while directing you to the correct course of action.

        But sometimes there’s charity in a really clear warning: Don’t assume you’re the victim, and don’t try to play lawyer.

        Do make your apologies at some length. Upon reflection, you see how your choices contributed to a bad outcome. You’re sorry you put speed and convenience above the rules. You now understand very keenly why the rules are there. You’ve had to report the incident to your insurance, but will of course do what you can so that your choices do not reflect badly on the firm. In particular, if you’ve made “everybody does it” noises, disavow that philosophy.

        And don’t even think about getting passive aggressive about it later, when someone else parks there.

        And don’t warn other repeatedly about parking there; it’ll only serve to remind everyone that you were MOOP there, and then loudly aggrieved when a semi-predictable outcome happened.

        If someone with the power to bend the rules (not another low level person saying, “we all do it”) told you it was OK to park there while unloading, you could ask them to not suggest it to others in the future, as the space is clearly needed for maneuvering.

        But even that is going to be a bit Pas-Ag and not really warranted, as stopping someplace for 5 minutes with flashers on is so very much not the same, operationally, as parking there.

    3. Sue*

      Hit and run is a misdemeanor in my state. The insurance company is likely to require reporting it to the police if you want to make a claim. It’s doing damage and not leaving contact information that is the issue, not where you parked or whether you were authorized to park there.
      If the law firm doesn’t want you to report their client to the police, they might want to pay the repair cost. You’ll have to determine how to proceed given the complications.

      1. Vada a Bordo, Gatto!*

        Yes, the insurance company will probably require you report it the police. You report it as a hit and run which is a crime. They are not asking you to solve it. The police and insurance company can work together to obtain the video if needed.

        I was the victim of a hit and run in my apartment building’s garage. I had a hit and run clause in my insurance which required that you know who did it. (I couldn’t prove who did.) Then the insurance company goes after them. You’re no longer involved at that point.

      2. Jasnah*

        This is what I thought. It could be that the culprit is a very important client and the law firm would rather handle it themselves than offend a client, and they’re not happy that the intern’s negligence caused this sticky situation.

        But at the end of the day the client caused damage to OP, and OP seems to have damaged some relationships. OP, let your insurance company worry about your car, you just worry about your image at work.

    4. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      “Knowing my office, it will turn into a blame-fest where I will get attacked for parking there. I want to keep the meeting focused on the fact that I am the victim of a crime, but I don’t know how to politely redirect the (scary!) loons when they tell me that I should not have been in the lot in the first place.”

      OP1, please tone down the emotional content. Bear in mind:
      1. Your managers are not (scary!) loons if they point out that you should not have been in the lot. That’s a fact. You had completed your work-related task and left your call in the lot all day in an illegal space. Acknowledge it and don’t attack the person whose help you require. That is how you redirect the conversation.
      2. Are you trying to get reimbursed or have the client punished? If the former, then focus on the damage, not the “crime”.
      3. Remember that the senior people in your firm are attorneys and you are still a student. They know the law better than you do. If you were illegally parked, please assume they know some of the ramifications.

      Look, I know this stinks. However, keep this focused purely on finances, That’s one benefit of the insurance company: for them, this is purely business. Hand this off to your insurer ASAP and be polite to your management. You may not get emotional satisfaction by doing so, but you are far more likely to get the financial settlement you desire.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        ^^ This. I don’t think it’s scary for someone to point out that you were parked all day in an illegal spot. That doesn’t mean that your car deserved to be hit, but your car shouldn’t have been there at all, which is actually pretty relevant to the whole chain of events.

        1. Bobbin Ufgood*

          This is what’s been bugging me the whole time. Yes, a hit-and-run is bad. However, it’s not “loony” to point out that your car should not have been parked there. 1. interns aren’t supposed to park in the lot at all *and the OP knows this*. 2. this isn’t actually a legal parking spot, *and OP knows this*

          Another thing that really bugged me — OP’s justification for putting their car where *no one* is allowed to park — is that they needed to load/unload. BUT THEN OP PROCEEDED TO LEAVE THEIR CAR THERE ALL DAY, PREVENTING ANYONE ELSE FROM BEING ABLE TO LOAD/UNLOAD

          the only reason the spot was open for the OP to misuse it is because no one is allowed to park there and everyone else is following the rules

          1. fieldpoppy*

            good point, Bobbin. And Escapee, I think you really hit the nail on the head. OP, I’m feeling this massive amount of indignation — and I get it, no one wants to feel like people don’t care that they have experienced some kind of bad thing. But talking about being a “victim” is… a little hyperbolic for what this actually was, and it evades your own accountability for putting your car somewhere that it shouldn’t have been. If someone I worked with were taking this stance it would convey a kind of emotional drama I wouldn’t have any energy to engage with.

        1. Name Required*

          Yes, I agree. I would be pissed if my car were hit, but Escapee from Corporate Management hit the nail on the hit. Set aside your feelings and judgement aside for this conversation and focus on your desired results — this is good practice for a career in law.

  3. sheworkshardforthemoney*

    LW1 Let your insurance company handle it. They have the experience, knowledge and can handle the claim professionally. Last year my car was hit by a company car. They cooperated at first and then blocked my efforts to settle. I turned it over to my insurance company and they took care of it.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      Exactly this. You pay your insurance company. Let them work for you. I was hit by some idiot about a year and a half ago the day before I moved across the country. I just turned it over to my insurance and they handled everything for me and then went after the other party’s insurance. It made everything from doctor’s visits to getting a new car so much easier.

  4. Thornus*

    RE #5:

    Note that there are a few professions which are excepted from the salary basis requirement. Licensed attorneys practicing law, licensed doctors practicing medicine, and residents in a resident program are all exempt from the salary basis requirement. 29 CFR § 541.304. That reg states that “[t]he requirements of § 541.300 and subpart G (salary requirements) of this part do not apply to the employees described in this section.” Subpart G includes the Salary Basis portion of the exempt test (29 CFR § 541.602) which is what is at issue here. OP didn’t say whether or not they’re an attorney, doctor, or resident, but the exception is important enough that it should be mentioned.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Speaking as someone covered under the exemption, it would still be illegal to dock pay. The minimum salary waiver does not allow an employer to dock (or “pro-rate”) your pay as a salaried, exempt employee, even if you fall within the “doctors, lawyers, etc.” exemption.

          1. Justme, The OG*

            Me too! But I can also work later or come in earlier to make up the time (and I realize not all government workers can do this).

            1. Creed Bratton*

              See also: public school teachers. I can WFH every evening till 8 and come in on the weekends for the same base salary but if I have to leave work an hour early I’m docked a half day PTO :/

            2. Phrunicus*

              Yeah, my smaller company doesn’t officially have ‘flex time’, and you’re supposed to do at least 40 hours per week, but there’s definitely some wiggle room. (And certain circumstances, moreso than others – I broke my ankle last spring, and especially the first few weeks working from home, it was shorter days since I couldn’t really go 8 hours at a time, and time on weekends to make up my 40 hours [after using up all my sick days plus a vacation day right off the bat]. But it’s not something they’d just let us do normally.)

        1. Phoenix Programmer*

          Somewhat common but considered stingy on the part of the employer.

          In general good employers don’t nickel and dime their exempt employees PTO when they are working lots of “Overtime”.

    1. loopy tuesday*

      Was just coming here to ask this! It still seems a bit off (if I didn’t take PTO, I wouldn’t get paid for that time out of office) but I guess that’s just how it’s done.

    2. snowglobe*

      The law says you can’t dock the pay of an exempt employee (as long as they worked part of the pay period), but they can be docked PTO. However, once the PTO is gone, they still need to be paid the full salary.

      1. theschwa*

        That’s actually really interesting. If you go over PTO, they can’t dock your pay for the day you were out? My former job did that all the time.

          1. Half-Caf Latte*

            My understanding was that if you worked any part of the week, you needed to receive the whole week’s salary.

            If you didn’t have sufficient PTO to cover the unpaid time, you could be disciplined for that, but still needed to be paid.

            1. fposte*

              That’s not correct. As the link to the DOL Alison provides states, “Deductions from pay are permissible when an exempt employee: is absent from work for one or more full days for personal reasons other than sickness or disability; for absences of one or more full days due to sickness or disability if the deduction is made in accordance with a bona fide plan, policy or practice of providing compensation for salary lost due to illness.” (There are other reasons too.)

              Basically, if you’ve got a PTO plan and you’ve used your PTO, they can dock you for days off even if you’re exempt. They just can’t dock you for *partial* days.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                To expand on that: As long as you’re the one causing the absence, yes! But if the employer is, say, closed for snow or tells you to stay home because you’re not needed (or anything else where it’s not your own “personal reasons”), then they still need to pay you for that day.

                1. fposte*

                  Oh, yes, good point. This doesn’t allow the employer to dock you if they’ve shut down, even if you’re out of PTO.

          2. Pamplemeow*

            This is VERY interesting, because my employer definitely takes out pay for partial days if you’re out of PTO, and we’re all definitely exempt…

          3. MsChanandlerBong*

            If you are out of PTO, can they make you come in early so that you can leave a few hours early for an appointment?

            1. fposte*

              I don’t know that the DOL has a stand on that. It’s just that if you refuse, they can’t dock you a partial day of salary.

    3. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      My old workplace played hard and fast with the rules of exempt – with a ton of bean counting. You could take time off during the day – but you would have to make it up another time. If you worked extra hours for any reason that was extra makeup time you could apply later. It didn’t really serve what the spirit of exempt is suppose to be – but they never deducted us anything. It did result in not one person ever giving them an extra minute of time though, we had an alarm that went off at the end of the work day, and it was like the school bell – we all cleared out as soon as it went off. You get what you give.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        That type of micro-managing drives me insane! At my last job, office hours were 8:30-5 with a half hour lunch. My last manager changed our department hours to 8-5 with an hour lunch and treated us like we had a clock to punch. I didn’t take a lunch break every day, and would always work extra hours as needed. When I would take a lunch and take more than an hour (which was rare), I always wished my manager would say something to me about it so I could challenge her. Because if she had, you bet your ass I would have started keeping track of my hours to the minute and not work one fraction of a second of overtime.

      2. As Close As Breakfast*

        This is exactly what my current job does. It’s a small business (a family one at that) and I’m literally the first (non-owner-non-family) salaried exempt employee. I honestly don’t think the owner understands the law and is kind of still stuck in the “I’m the boss now I can do whatever I want!” mindset. I’ve decided it’s not my hill to die on at this company, so I do pretty much what you guys did! I don’t give a single extra minute of my time without logging it as comp time (which is ridiculous imo!) And I happily go for long stretches were I start working at EXACTLY 8 am and walk out the door at EXACTLY 4:30 pm, with a smile on my face. I do wish I had an alarm now though…

  5. On Fire*

    LW4 – I had a similar situation recently when a lot of people expected that I would make a specific career move. I wasn’t at all interested in making that move, but for reasons of office politics couldn’t say that until the deal was completed. When it was completed, several people expressed surprise. I used a breezy, enthusiastic tone and said, “no, I got to continue (my job). I’m excited, because we have a lot of plans: we’re going to do X and Y.” To some, I added that (person in job I didn’t want) was going to do a great job and I was looking forward to working with them.

    1. LW4*

      You’re right – I think being breezy and positive is the best way to go.
      I am still relatively early into my professional career and I find it hard to come up against other people’s expectations … or at least the expectations I * think * that they have of me!
      Thank you!

    2. Blue*

      I approached a similar situation in a similar way. Last year, I left a position with a long notice period. When they went to fill my position, they bumped it up to a higher (and much more prestigious-sounding) title. A number of my coworkers were a bit offended on my behalf, because they felt I should have that title. What they didn’t know was that my boss had been talking to me for a year about that exact promotion, and I’d been resisting because it came with the expectation of management, which is not for me. So when people made comments about me getting snubbed, I’d cheerily respond, “Oh, I knew that change in the role was a possibility, but it didn’t feel like a great fit me because of the supervision piece. I’m excited that the new role will let me focus more on [X & Y kinds of projects], which is really what I want to be doing.” Making it clear that it was my choice and my vision for my career path seemed to smooth a lot of ruffled feathers.

      1. LW4*

        I really like that response – showing that you are in control of your career and hadn’t been snubbed. Thank you!

  6. Claims adjuster*

    Auto insurance adjuster here. LW1 will only be able to really follow this advice if they have Collision coverage on their vehicle. IF you have Collision coverage, once your insurance company pays for your vehicle damages, they gain the legal right (and, well, self-interest) to go after the at fault party and that party’s insurance company for reimbursement. If LW1 doesn’t have Collison (for example, Liability Only coverage), LW1’s insurer may or may not help investigate the incident (depends on the insurer and their company practices), but they won’t have any power to make client (or client’s auto insurance company) pay for LW1’s damages or repairs. Even worse, the law firm doesn’t necessarily have any obligation to release the security footage to the auto insurer to help identify client in the first place; depends on who asks nicely and what law firm’s policy is. It could very well come right back to LW1 having to decide whether to continue talking to law firm about the issue and/or go after client in court.

    LW1 should still start by reporting the incident to their insurer and go from there, but depending on the type of coverage LW1 has, auto insurance could very easily be a dead end.

    For the record, client is at fault for striking an object in the parking lot, whether LW1’s car should have been where it was or not.

    1. TL -*

      Yeah I’ve never had insurance that would cover this kind of thing – and my deductible has always been high enough that a dent pulling wouldn’t be covered anyways. My guess is the LW is in a similar place.

      1. blackcat*

        I have always had collision after my friend had the experience I described above–his parked car was totaled by someone who drove a boat (!!) over it. He witnessed it since it happened just as he was walking away?
        We were left with so many questions. Who drives a boat downtown? Who decides that making that left turn is so important, they should do a 3 point turn in the middle of a road, with a boat in a trailer? Who, having done all of those things AND DRIVING OVER A CAR, just drives away?
        Only his insurance company, and the PI they hired knows. His car was new, and it was totaled. Insurance paid out ~20k or so. It would have really, really sucked to not have coverage for that.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I learned that it’s worth having collision got all vehicles if you ever want the insurance company to help you in any event.

          Years ago liability only was dirt cheap around here. They revamped the system over the years to encourage holding enough insurance that’s actually useful to the client in wild cases like your friends!

          Did he buy that new car outright or had a loan?! The loaning bank will always require full coverage, which includes collision an gap insurance to recoup their full costs in the event their asset is destroyed like that.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Wouldn’t they both be at fault though? A former boss got into a fender bender when someone cut him off. But he had moved into a turn lane prior to actually becoming a lane (he was in the shoulder) so while his insurance company handled the claim to fix his car, they were both considered at fault.

      1. fposte*

        I’ve heard conflicting things (maybe it’s jurisdictional), but at least in some places it seems that hitting a stationary inanimate object gets treated differently.

        1. Renamis*

          Static objects are different, yes. I train people to get a CDL, and I always warn people when you see a tight situation with another bus/truck/car that looks like it could be a crash, stop and put the break on. And then you sit and wait for the other moving object to squeeze past you. If they hit you you’re in the clear because you identified the dangerous situation and didn’t engage, while the other guy did it anyway. The law looks at who was moving at the time.

  7. Mrs. Wednesday*

    LW#5: If they’re doing this to you, there’s a very good chance they’re doing it to others. If you have HR, I’m hoping you asking why this divergence from very clear labor law is happening triggers their fear of an DOL or other investigation — as it should. I worked once for an agency that played fast and loose with classifications and they lost a whole lot of money in fines, etc.

  8. Mookie*

    re LW4
    I was in a similar situation once, young and comparatively inexperienced in my almost brand-new promotion, but was regarded as a fast-tracker and it was thought I ought to be first in line when the next senior position, which managed me, went vacant.

    My grand-boss, who’d recruited me very inexperienced, was keenly aware of the ‘optics’ of her protege not bagging the role as might have been expected (like you, didn’t want it, wasn’t qualified to fill it), so she made sure I was visibly and substantively part of the hiring process and included me when we announced / celebrating filling the role. It struck the right note, where it was clear my judgment and input was considered valuable AND that I was one hundred-percent behind my new boss. The grapevine took care of the rest. Is it possible for you to do something like this?

    1. LW4*

      Thank you Mookie. Yes, my current boss (and soon to be grandboss, I guess) is consulting with me a lot about the new role, and how we will divide responsibilities. She is very supportive, and clearly doesn’t want to lose me (and is offering me training, etc.) so I feel confident that I will be able to negotiate a positive outcome for myself. She is usually good at giving credit for these things and I’ll try and influence her as much as possible to make it a positive story for others as well.
      Thanks again for your comment!

      1. Mookie*

        It’s a real morale booster when the process is transparent and the team under the new head is on board and has participated in developing the scope of the role, so this sounds like a win for everybody. Management looks competent and resourceful and you are getting to personally tailor your present position with an eye to the future. Sounds ideal! Best of luck to you!

      2. Psyche*

        It can also let you honestly say “I’m really excited about the reorganization! New Hire will be taking over ABC which will let me focus on XYZ, which I have wanted to be able to do for a while.”

  9. justcourt*

    This isn’t advice for #1, but it’s ridiculous that OP1’s office think they get to decide who’s at fault. They don’t. Our legal system doesn’t let attorneys decide guilt/innocent or liability. Attorneys can give advice, but these attorneys clearly aren’t representing OP1 or she would have a copy of that security footage. They are trying to sweep the accident under the rug likely to preserve their relationship with a client.

    Letting your insurance company handle the issue is good advice, but OP1’s office treatment towards her is kind of shitty.

    1. justcourt*

      I forgot to add that it’s particularly ridiculous (& a transparent attempt at sweeping this under the rug) that they are saying that OP1 is at fault for parking in an employee spot as an intern. Company policy does not determine liability.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        She was not parked in a legal spot at all, if I’m reading the letter correctly.

        I think that’s the bigger issue.

        1. justcourt*

          I misspoke, but I meant lot. I am referring to this comment by OP:

          “That being said, my office says that I am at fault because a) As an intern, I should not have parked in the lot and b) I was not parked in an official spot.”

          The firm’s policy against allowing interns to park in the lot has nothing to do with liability. Additionally, the fact that OP1 parked in a non-spot is unlikely to completely eliminate the client’s liability.

          The fact that the firm is making either of those claims (i.e. that firm parking policy impacts liability & that the client is not at fault) just highlights that the firm is protecting the interests of their client, and, thus, cannot be trusted to advise OP1. Never take advice from your opponents lawyer.

          Attending that meeting in the hopes of convincing the firm to harm their client to aid OP1 isn’t going to work out. OP1 should do like Alison said and cancel the meeting and let the firm know the insurance company will be handling everything.

          1. Mystery Bookworm*

            Ah yes, I agree with you on both those things. That interns aren’t supposed to be in the lot is really irrelevant, and the company should hand over the tape.

            I’m not sure if or how being parked (and away from the car) in a not legal spot will affect the intern’s responsibility in the view of the insurance company, but either way, the intern should let her insurance company know everything and have them handle it.

          2. Colette*

            Agreed, the firm doesn’t get to decide liability – but they also don’t have to turn over the tape and could in fact fire the intern for parking in the lot, which she was not allowed to do. So yes, she should either go through insurance or decide to let it go – approaching this adversarially with her firm will not go well.

          3. Jasnah*

            I read it as, it’s not OP’s fault in an insurance sense, but she is at fault for breaking the rules and causing trouble for the firm and their client. I can see why her office would be upset at her (“This whole situation is your fault, if you had just parked where you’re supposed to…”)

        2. cheluzal*

          Also said others have parked where they did several times. I can guarantee if it was a big shot lawyer they would go after the client. She’s small potatoes so they have that loophole to push back. Not morally right, but legally right.

          1. TeapotQA*

            Would they? A big shot lawyer might decide that it’s ok to let a $500 dent go for a client racking up five figures in legal fees. (Not saying that’s exactly what happened here, but it’s easy to imagine)

            The law firm presumably knows the client and has decided, for whatever reason, that it’s not worth upsetting the client over this, that doesn’t make them shady.

            When you’re lower on the totem pole in an organization, you don’t get the same perks (including plum parking spots) as someone higher up. That’s life.

      2. CupcakeCounter*

        Op was not parked in an employee spot – she wasn’t parked in a spot at all and she has been told numerous times that the parking lot/garage is for clients, not employees.

        1. justcourt*

          From my comment above:

          I misspoke, but I meant lot. I am referring to this comment by OP:

          “That being said, my office says that I am at fault because a) As an intern, I should not have parked in the lot and b) I was not parked in an official spot.”

          The firm’s policy against allowing interns to park in the lot has nothing to do with liability. Additionally, the fact that OP1 parked in a non-spot is unlikely to completely eliminate the client’s liability.

    2. KP*

      Um, but the private firm owns the tape and has no obligation to turn it over to an insurance company. The police could request it but likely won’t unless the “hit-and-run” dent involved personal injury. And OP wasn’t in a parking space. (Probably grounds for firing.)

      OP should report it to her insurance company.

      1. justcourt*

        I never said the firm is obligated to turn over the tape. I just said OP1 is getting bad “advice” from the firm that is designed to encourage her from dropping the matter entirely (e.g. saying she’s at fault), and that he/she should do like Alison said & just report it to the insurance company.

        What’s probably going to happen is that insurance will want a police report, so OP (if he/she pursues the issue) will report it to police. The police are unlikely to do anything because this is hardly the crime of the century. But maybe one cop will be interested because there is security footage that the law firm isn’t releasing and a lot of cops don’t like attorneys. Unless the police do something, nothing is likely to happen because the insurance company doesn’t have anyone to go after. Insurance will only cover the damage if OP has comprehensive/uninsured driver coverage, in which case OP will pay for the accident through increased rates. If OP doesn’t have comprehensive/uninsured driver coverage, he/she will be completely responsible for the damage.

        My point was only that the firm gave OP bad advice. OP shouldn’t trust the firm. And also, if the firm said what OP claimed they said, the firm is shady. The firm has a duty to advocate for their clients, but that duty is fulfilled by just refusing to give OP the tape. Trying to convince OP to drop the matter by falsely claiming she is at fault is a choice the firm made, it wasn’t a professional requirement.

        I am just frustrated because I see so many people here advising OP to think about her relationship with the firm and her professional reputation. It’s good, practical advice, but most of the comments are completely ignoring the firm’s conduct. I realize in the real world that employers hold most of the power, but it’s disappointing to see so many people reinforce that dynamic. I know Alison has written in the past about the importance of trust in an employer/employee relationship, and, as far as I know, the topics have always centered around employee trustworthiness. Well, here’s an example of an employer that has isn’t trustworthy.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I actually write more here about untrustworthiness from employers than from employees!

          But the reason people are focused on practical advice for the OP is that … she needs practical advice. And the tone of her letter indicates that it’s not going to be helpful to encourage her to further demonize her employer; if anything, she’ll be benefitted by toning that down in her approach to them.

          1. justcourt*

            Yeah, now that I think about it, you do focus more on employer trustworthiness. My brain was just selectively focusing on a few letters related to dishonest employees that really stuck out to me. Mea culpa.

            And I agree that OP needs practical advice, which is why I agree with your advice. I am just feeling extra passionate about uneven power dynamics in the workplace, employers who exploit those dynamics, and the lack of recourse for lowly employees who get hurt.

            1. Jasnah*

              For the record I’m with you, but I think OP needs advice on how to play the game now so she doesn’t get burned by her office. :(

        2. Beanie*

          I was noticing that trend too. She was the victim of a crime. It’s rather disgusting to say OP shouldn’t even bother to pursue it because it was her fault for being illegally parked, as some people appear to be suggesting. Allison is spot on.

          OP, just know this. We all make mistakes. But that doesn’t mean that it was okay for this to happen, or for people to victim blame. I wish you luck in your pursuit, whatever actions you take.

          1. Jessie the First (or second)*

            “She was the victim of a crime.”

            Well, maybe. Hitting a car in a parking lot and leaving is not actually a crime in all jurisdictions. So OP may be the victim of a crime, or may not.

            But I do think it is important for OP to think practically here. And practically, she could simply report to her insurance company rather than personally battle with her employer. Battling with the employer would make sense for high stakes issues (if her personal safety were involved, or if the property damage were extreme, etc). But for a dent in a car? Not every wrong is worth staking a position and dying on a hill.

          2. Jessie the First (or second)*

            And, really, “victim blaming” here is happening in the context of a car accident – which is all about apportioning fault in a lot of states, including shared fault, so it is hardly odd that people would start to talk in those terms here (although from a claims perspective, as others have noted, OP would be unlikely to be considered at fault even though she was not in a space, because the car was off and stationary)

  10. Allonge*

    As I have been in a similar situation, fairly recently: the awkward also goes away in a few months when people see what New Person is doing, and if they are doing it well. It was much easier for me to explain “well, Head of Porridge Relations” actually has to know about, like, porridge – once we were doing lots of new porridge related things.

    1. LW4*

      Thanks Allonge. Alison is right (as always) that I was worrying about it too much (I talked to a trusted colleague and she said that to my face, haha) – and yes, I suppose people will be able to see what the new Head is doing when they are recruited and actually start doing it. Thanks again!

  11. YB*

    LW1, I don’t mean to be unkind, I do support you and hope this turns out okay. But I’ve been on the boss side of this one too many times, and…

    “I don’t know how to politely redirect the (scary!) loons when they tell me that I should not have been in the lot in the first place.”

    This…may not be the attitude with which you want to go into any meeting with your employers. The client shouldn’t have dented your car, and/or should have tried to make things right once they did that. But it’s hardly “(scary!) lunacy” to note that, also, you shouldn’t have been in the lot in the first place. That’s just the truth. You broke the rules, and lawyers like their rules. I’m a professional in the legal field (not a lawyer), I’ve worked with and for and alongside many lawyers, and while I’m likely in a different jurisdiction from yours, most lawyers here would take a dim view of “I want to keep the meeting focused on the fact that I am the victim of a crime”, for a number of reasons. Some of those reasons are valid, some of them are kind of elitist (many lawyers don’t really like when people who aren’t lawyers make assertions about the law; many lawyers don’t really like when an intern tries to steer a meeting). I don’t know what kind of law is practiced at your firm, but if your bosses are regularly dealing with assaults and murders and the other kind of nasty stuff many lawyers have to deal with, you’d engender zero sympathy with “I broke your rules in such a way asto inconvenience a client, and now my car has a dent in it” = “I am the victim of a crime”. That’s a pretty serious discursive escalation. Is it factually accurate? It wouldn’t be, where I am. Maybe in some jurisdictions, bumping someone’s car is technically a “crime” – to the degree that, say, shaking your friend’s hand too boisterously could constitute battery – but it’s pretty tone-deaf to paint yourself as a “victim”, especially as an intern trying to assert “facts” about the law to lawyers.

    Hierarchy is also a thing in any kind of client-service business. Is it deeply unfair and unfortunate that most clients are generally more valued than most interns? Yes. But that’s generally how it is. Most firms are going to take the side of the people who pay their salaries. For a lot of businesspeople in at-will jurisdictions, “my intern broke my rules and did something that could lead to aggravation for a client” would be a firing offense in and of itself, even before you start in with the “scary loons”/”victim of a crime” stuff.

    If I had an intern who broke my firm’s rules in a way that caused stress for a client, whose sense of proportion were such that they felt that a very minor incident of property damage qualified them as “the victim of a crime”, *and* I had any sense at all that they viewed me as a “scary loon”, I wouldn’t think my workplace was the right fit for them. You probably should have those questions too. Do you want to work for people you think are “scary loons”, who seem to be diminishing the impact of what you believe was a crime committed against you?

    1. JustAThought*

      Agreed, don’t go in with guns blazing if you are doing this meeting. Consider something along the lines of:

      “I understand that the general rule for the firm is that interns don’t park in the lot. Given that I was on firm business that day and needed to unload supplies, it made sense for me to be there on that particular day. I tried to do it in the most inobtrusive way possible. I also understand tthe firm’s sensitivities in confronting a client about this matter. Having said that, it does not seem fair that I solely bear the financial reprocussions of the damages the client caused. I’m hopeful we can work together to reach an equitable resolution to this situation in a way that recognizes the concerns of all sides here “

      Then, if they are unresponsive, just let insurance handle everything.

      1. Myrin*

        I really like this script but I think she’d have to change the “Given that I was on firm business that day and needed to unload supplies, it made sense for me to be there on that particular day. I tried to do it in the most inobtrusive way possible.” part – I think this would be appropriate if the car had been hit while OP was unloading, but it actually happened afterwards during a time where OP shouldn’t have been there anymore at all.

        1. On Fire*

          I think how long “the rest of the day” was might matter, too. Was the supply run tacked on to the end of LW’s lunch break, so the car was there for several hours? Or was it the end of the day, for a half-hour while LW put away supplies/hit the bathroom/shut down her computer/etc.? It doesn’t make a legal difference, of course, but half the *day* could seem like wanting parking privileges, while half an *hour* could look more like efficiency. (I wouldn’t want to take the extra time to come back outside after carrying in supplies, just to move my car, when I’m leaving again in a few minutes.)

      2. Lady Jay*

        Agree with all of this—except LW should give over trying to get the tape & just report to her insurance (provided she has collision). She doesn’t get any good will at work by asking more than she has.

    2. Thursday Next*

      Your points about hierarchy and “discursive escalation” (great phrase!) are spot-on, and I hope LW considers them carefully.

    3. EventPlannerGal*

      Agreed 100%. On reading this letter I was initially very much with the OP, but the “scary loons” description and overall attitude really does seem OTT.

    4. McWhadden*

      I mostly agree. But in most jurisdictions leaving the scene of an accident without leaving your info is a crime. The LW isn’t referring to the accident but the leaving it.

    5. Lynn Whitehat*

      Agreed. I work in a field which is desperate for people (cyber security). Even so, if we had an intern who broke a rule and then was this defensive about taking any responsibility for the fall-out, we would not be making a FT offer. Not the rule-breaking itself, but trying to dodge the fact that you also contributed to the accident. Presumably the place you parked is not a real spot for a reason, not because the landlord likes to watch people circle and circle.

      We would have a lot more patience with someone who admitted they gambled and lost. People are going to make mistakes, people are going to bend the rules in the name of expediency. But someone whose focus is on not accepting any responsibility when things go wrong is very hard to work with.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        I was going to say something along these lines. Yes the client hit her car and got outta dodge, but the LW seems to not accept any of the responsibility for this incident. She was in a lot she wasn’t supposed to be in, and more importantly, not in a designated parking spot.

    6. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      To YB’s point on hierarchy, I learned the following: “the most senior person in our company is junior to the most junior person at the client.” That doesn’t mean that OP1 should give up on being reimbursed for the damage. What is means is that to be successful, the discussion requires a great deal of tact, sensitivity, and calm.

    7. kittymommy*

      This is a great point(s) as are the other comments. No the client who hit the car and then ran is not in the right, but neither is the intern. It would be one thing if the car was hit in the course of her duties for the firm, i.e. unloading the vehicle of office supplies, but quite another if it happened (which it sounds like it did) after the task was completed and she decided to leave her car in an unauthorized lot (for her) and in an unauthorized area of said lot. The LW definitely needs to let her insurance company take lead on this. The firm may be more open to sharing the tape with them than with an individual, especially if the intern goes in to a meeting with the “guns blazing” attitude and that her firm are a bunch of “(scary) loons”.

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is where I landed while reading the letter as well. So much emotion is dripping from the OP and that will never end well.

      I’m also wondering if it’s just the stress of the job and possible young age in play. My car has been dinged about 25 times a year living in a major city with crammed parking lots. Unless your door is crushed and you’ve got speed involved, these cosmetic “hit and runs” will rarely ever be reported.

      1. anon for this confession*

        Yup. This whole “my property is sacred” thing about a car in an urban environment is kind of unnecessary energy, because your car is going to get dinged.

        True confession: I was stopped at a light a couple of years ago where I didn’t move for 3 cycles because of construction. I started playing with my phone and then when I sensed the car next to me moving, I took my foot off the brake and rear-ended the guy in front of me. (Totally, 100% my fault). The guy I hit had a pretty fancy newish german car (an audi or a bmw). I apologized profusely, he accepted my apology because driving in that part of the city is SO TIRESOME, we exchanged info, he got a quote to repair the damage and I e-transferred him the money. Yeah, we dodged the whole insurance/police scheme to my benefit, but we both accepted that crap happens and people make mistakes when there are a lot of cars and frustrated people. And now I don’t look at my phone when I’m stopped. (Which is good, because there are new, highly punitive laws).

      1. Ltrim Press Club*

        Yep. Just yesterday we had someone with nail clippers out. I wish more would read this website. (Or better yet, internal policies.)

      1. Creed Bratton*

        I had a co-worker who would stand up from lunch, pull out one of those dental floss picks (like plackers) and dig all around while kind of snorting and smacking. Grossed me out but at least it was semi-private. To do that in a conference room meeting just….well, I wish I had that kind of self-confidence!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      The Bad Place has an exhibit on it. In the Museum of Human Misery, Hall of Low-Grade Crappiness.

    2. Please No More Meetings*

      At a former workplace, somebody used to floss in the elevator. The elevator would DING and the doors would open to reveal a lady going TO TOWN on her molars. Shudder.

    3. Phil*

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone clip the nails at work. I do, however, quietly bite my fingernails at my desk. Don’t @ me.

  12. Kc89*

    Thanks for flossing in the bathroom

    Wish more people had common courtesy like that, the fact that I’ve worked with multiple people who thought it was okay to clip their toenails at their desk…

    1. MJ*

      Yeah. Why do that when there are perfectly good trains and buses on which to clip one’s toenails? (I wish I was joking.)

      1. Rebecca*

        Yes, I worked with a clipper. How someone could clip their fingernails every. single. day. still baffles me to this day.

      2. Mercurial*

        *pulls off shoe*
        *bites toenail*
        *spits it across partition into colleague’s rice-based lunch*
        Could be a new world record for fastest firing.

    2. Tigger*

      Yes. The person I took over for flossed at his desk. When I moved to his desk he left a drawer full of those used flossers. I screamed. It was horrible

      1. catwoman2965*

        Ewwwww. That’s nasty. I will admit, I keep floss in my desk, and have sometimes broken it out if i had something stuck in one tooth. Quick removal, and done. I don’t floss my entire mouth though.

        AND, i sit in a cube, with no one around me, and the only way anyone would see me do it, is if they came by and stood next to or in my cube.

  13. Mookie*

    I’m in the minority thus far, but being a muckety-muck client doesn’t really give someone license to hit a car and leave, does it? The LW violated the rules of her firm’s private lot, so she may not be due much or any compensation, but I think it’s bizarre to treat someone with such kid gloves that you can’t say to someone, “hey, don’t hit cars in our lot and drive off without telling somebody” lest you incur their affluenza-laced wrath. Since the rules are different for clients, what if it had been another client who’d parked outside of a designated space? Is the winner in that dilemma the one who nets the firm the most fees?

    1. Mookie*

      Also, this private car park business is a red herring. If we’re talking about the US, nearly all are private, yes?

      1. Christy*

        Just speaking for my county, we have a lot of county-owned garages in our downtown areas. I’m outside of DC.

      2. Christy*

        Plus, I think there’s a difference between “a private entity administers this parking lot but anyone can pay to park” and “the employer in this building administers this parking lot for its employees”. The DC area has private lots/garages in the second sense but also tons of parking (relatively) in the first sense.

      3. kittymommy*

        It’s been my experience that it depends. Where I’m at we have publicly owned lot (open to the public for most spots but some are reserved for either government workers or leasees. Also can be time/day dependent). Some publicly owned lots are entirely open, at all times, to the public. Then there are lots that are private owned and have various rules ranging from just for particular businesses and they are patrolled to varying degrees. We even have a couple of lots that are privately owned, with gates, that need a pass key to get into. Honestly, leaving out parking lots for businesses (Best Buy, Walmart, etc) most here are publicly owned.

    2. TL -*

      No, if it had been another client, the attorneys wouldn’t have gotten involved at all. And yeah, the client shouldn’t have hit and run but it’s quite possible they didn’t notice or they didn’t think the damage was so bad or they do bring in that much business that’s not worth risking them leaving over awkwardness.

      1. Jennifer*

        No way they didn’t notice hitting someone’s car. They damaged someone’s property and the right thing to do would have been to own up to it immediately, regardless of how serious THEY thought the damage was. There is no excuse for this.

        1. Colette*

          Sure, the client was wrong. And so was the OP, who was parked in a non-spot in a lot she wasn’t allowed to park in.

          If the client was the one who wrote in, I’d agree she needs to own up to what she did – but the OP has no way to make her do that, and will only harm herself while trying.

          1. Jennifer*

            I’m not an attorney or police officer so I could be wrong, but I don’t think her being parked in a non-spot gives anyone the right to hit her car.

            She may be fighting a losing battle trying to get the firm to hand over the footage, but that doesn’t mean that anything that has happened here is okay. The people at this firm are behaving like jerks and if they treat all of their employees this way it’s going to come back to bite them.

            1. Colette*

              It doesn’t give anyone a right to hit her car – but it does make it more likely that it will happen (there’s a reason it’s not an official spot). I’m not even sure the people at the firm are behaving like jerks. There is no reason they have to give her the footage, and it’s not in the best interest of their client that they do so. There is a process for this kind of thing, and it starts with an insurance report, which the OP doesn’t appear to have made.

              And if the employer wanted to be jerks, they could fire her for parking in a lot she’s not allowed to park in, as well as what appears to be her adversarial way of interacting with her company (” (scary!) loons “)

              1. Jennifer*

                Also, not everyone has collision coverage, and not everyone can afford the increase in premiums after a claim is filed.

                1. Colette*

                  But that’s the risk you take – if you don’t have collision insurance, you have to deal with collisions on your own, either by paying for the damage to be fixed (or the car replaced) or by deciding to live with it.

                2. Washi*

                  I agree with Colette – it’s definitely not ok that the client hit the OP’s car and drove away. If the client had written in, we would all be saying that.

                  But the OP has to consider the optics of having parked in a non-spot in a garage she shouldn’t have been in, and then doubling down that she is a victim and in no way contributed to the situation. Trying to get the firm to help is clearly a dead end and there is no practical benefit for the OP to pursue it, so I like Alison’s advice to focus on going through the insurance company.

    3. Jennifer*

      I agree with you 100%. You shouldn’t get to hit people’s cars with no consequences. But if they are bringing big money to the firm, they are going to value the client over the intern. It’s unfair and it sucks. People are jerks.

    4. Mary Ann*

      If your car has been damaged in a parking lot while you were parked. Call the police, get a police report number (or copy), call your insurance co. If you have collision coverage their insurance should pay your deductible. If you don’t have collision file anyhow, if the other party is found 100% liable they will pay for the repairs. If not 100% then they will be the precentage liable.

    5. Paralegal A. Non*

      Some firms really are that protective of their pet clients. I personally know one attorney who ended up in federal prison for several years because the firm was so protective of a pet client. (And all the support staff, of which I was one, told the partners more than once that there was something off about the client, that she was bad news – they turned a blind eye because she brought in good money.) That attorney did not, personally, proactively assist the client in committing fraud (and I actually think she was just ignorant) but she ended up in prison anyway. I have no doubt that same firm – which is still considered one of the good guys in our city – would protect a pet client in a minor matter like a dented car.

    6. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Not saying what the client did was right, but to me they’re both at fault, and the LW doesn’t seem to want to take responsibility for her part in this, going into her boss with guns blazing and making a big stink about it. She was not parked in a designated spot, and needs to accept that she was partially responsible for the accident, call her insurance company and let them handle it.

  14. Pnuf*

    I’m surely not alone in not wanting to see colleagues flossing? Whether at their desks (!) or in the bathroom – some things just don’t belong in work!

    1. Grand Mouse*

      But there’s plenty of other things I’d rather not see in a bathroom- but that’s the nature of it, isn’t it?

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Yeah, it’s nice to be able to pretend that people don’t have bodily functions or get dirty, but wanting to floss after eating lunch is not egregious behaviour. Treat someone brushing and flossing in the bathroom the same way you’d treat overhearing someone going to the toilet – ignore it as much as possible, but recognize that these things need to happen.

    2. Susan Calvin*

      I don’t particularly want to – but I also don’t want to hear them pooping, and yet. Shared bathrooms are under an illusion of privacy, to everyone’s benefit. Do you propose your colleagues should spend the rest of the day, potentially full of client meetings or similar, with something stuck in their teeth?

      1. stump*

        I dunno. I mean, it might be nice for them to save a snack for later…

        (I could barely keep a straight face when typing that. *Hurk!*)

      2. stump*

        Seriously though, since the OP mentioned needing to floss frequently due to “janky teeth” (p sure that was the exact phrasing), which I’m guessing means food gets extra trapped in there compared to more standard “non-janky” teeth (possibly in addition to other stuff), flossing a few times a day at work might be the difference between having healthy teeth and having frequent cavities and expensive dentist bills. If that was me, I’d rather risk grossing out a few of my more squeamish coworkers than have my teeth rot out of my head or have to pay a crap ton of money for the privilege of keeping my teeth in my head.

        1. Lucy*

          I can’t quite picture this, unless LW2 needs to floss every time she eats anything. Flossing and/or brushing after lunch ought to be completely unremarkable, but if she has frequent snacks and needs to floss every time, then she might consider whether she’s planning her day optimally. People maintain their blood sugar levels differently so I’m not judging if the frequency is relevant, but “a few” could be twice or five times flossing in an 8-hour workday, and the latter could seem excessive, at which point it might be prudent to assess whether different snacks would be less jankifying – plain yogurt v jerky, for example.

          1. stump*

            I have a few teeth that are pretty tight together and love to trap EVERYTHING between them until I can floss the Gunk out and ended up with a cavity thanks to it even though I floss daily and go to the dentist on the regular. :/ Kinda sounds like LW2 is dealing with something on that theme, but More if they have self-described “janky” teeth. (Of course, this is An Guess unless they pop up in the comments woth Details.)

            I mean, I’m guessing LW2 isn’t flossing every hour on the hour or anything, but if they’re eating breakfast or a snack or two in addition to lunch, I can see why they’d be self-conscious about flossing frequently in the work bathroom after eating or what have you.

          2. Emily S*

            I don’t think this rises to level of LW needing to change her diet just in case someone is counting the number of times a day she flosses and judging her for it.

            1. Lucy*

              Sure! But if LW does have awkward teeth (I’m thinking of a particular region of my own mouth) then it would be in her own interests to consider whether she is eating unusually tenacious snacks or if everything is equally bad. She may feel less self conscious if she knows she isn’t adding to her flossing regime unnecessarily.

              MEANWHILE I have a mental image of someone performing the popular “floss” dance move in a work bathroom, which probably means I need a break!

    3. Mockingjay*

      I have to brush and floss after lunch (gum issues). I ‘ve always tried to do it cleanly and unobtrusively. I wipe the sink area before I use it and lay my supplies on a clean paper towel. When I am finished, I wipe the sink again with another clean towel. (I also check the mirror.)

      Personal grooming is allowed to occur in a restroom. You just have to be considerate of fellow users in the shared space.

    4. Jennifer*

      You aren’t alone. I think things like this are better for your bathroom at home along with other health and grooming procedures. I don’t really enjoy seeing it. Wouldn’t say anything but I’d roll my eyes.

      1. Psyche*

        Some people can wait until they get home and some can’t. That is like people who think no one should poop in a public bathroom. Sometimes it isn’t really a choice.

    5. dawbs*

      This is very “how dare people have needs different than mine”

      People need to do personal grooming. Bathrooms exist for bodily functions and personal grooming. Objecting to the fact that in shared places, other humans are humans with bodies that need to function is short sighted. Bbecause it’s only a matter if time, for you and yours, before everyone needs that sort of grace extended

      Me I just prefer to not have broccoli in my teeth when I meet with muckity muck donors

      1. Guacamole Bob*


        What about someone who needs to inject medication? (Our bathrooms have sharps containers.) Or use eye drops? Fix a contact lens, as I had to do in a public bathroom yesterday? Replace the dressing on a cut or scrape?

        There are lots of things I don’t necessarily want to sit and watch a coworker do, or to have someone do at the desk next to me, that are nonetheless totally appropriate for an office bathroom. People have slightly-gross-to-watch things that they need to do during working hours occasionally, and the bathroom is the best spot.

    6. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      It’s not unusual for a dentist to recommend certain people floss after every meal – it is a health necessity which sometimes will need to happen at work. I’ve worked with several people who do this. As long as the person is not blocking off the only available sink (if there is only one sink you need to step back and let people wash their hands) then do your business and move along. American bathrooms call for lots of pretending you can’t see or hear things, just don’t look at it.

    7. AnotherAlison*

      I think my objection is that it is awkward to use the toilets while people are hanging out at the sink, whether that’s flossing, doing their makeup, etc. But, I also understand that there is no other place to do these things, and people need to do them. That’s why the old-school ladies’ restrooms with a “powder room” type area separate from the toilets was kind of nice.

      As the coworker, just get in and get out and let the flossers do their thing.

      1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        As long as someone is focused on something it doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is when someone sits quietly in a stall, waiting for you to leave to do their business. Then I know that they are just sitting there, doing nothing but listening to me, focused on me, that makes me uncomfortable.

        Although I got to say worst thing ever is walking into the bathroom when you really got to go, and someone is in there crying. That takes awkwardness up to about a zillion. Then it’s either edge around them to use the toilet, or get stuck awkwardly comforting someone you can barely remember the name of. I don’t know where else people should cry in the office, but I wish it wasn’t the bathroom.

        1. Pomona Sprout*


          I mean, I don’t recall ever noticing whether anyone sitting in a stall was actively “doing” anything. I’m not even sure how I would even be able to tell for sure that someone was “waiting for [me] to leave to do their business” and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t care if they were. It’s not like it’s any if my business, lol. It also has never occurred to me that someone quietly sitting in a stall might be lisrening to, much less “focused on” me (which honestly seems like an odd assumption to me).

          As for crying, I think it’s better to do it in a stall, where there’s at least an illusion of privacy, but even if they’re out in the open, I don’t think it would be super awkward to avert my eyes and say “excuse me” if I gave to squeeze past them or something. I certainly wouldn’t feel obligated to comfort someone I barely know, and I think attempting to do so would probably make them feel more awkward than politely ignoring the whole thing.

          Geiiting back to the people sitting on stalls thing, when I’m in a public multistall bathroom at a workplace or anywhere else, the people in the stalls are just … not something I pay attention to. Unless all the stalls are all full and I’ve really got to go, in which case, I might be listening for flushes to try to figure out who’s about to vacate, lol … but otherwise, they don’t really register on my radar. Maybe you could try readjusting your own radar? Just a thought, since things like this seem to be stressful for you, from what you said.

        2. WellRed*

          They aren’t focused on you. Geez. Some people genuinely can’t go if someone else is around. They aren’t recording your pooping.

        3. Janie*

          I can almost guarentee you’ve decided someone was listening to you while they were changing a tampon.

      2. Spencer Hastings*

        Or one of those single-person bathrooms. I used to work in a place that had a couple of those in addition to the multi-stall ones, and it was sometimes really nice to be able to get into a room with a sink and a mirror behind a door you could lock.

        If I had to floss my teeth at work, I’d go for one of those if available. If not, the large bathroom would be a little awkward but not the end of the world.

    8. LQ*

      Agreed. Which is why the bathroom should be a magical land of ignorance. You forget when you walk through the door who the other people are and when you leave you forget what you saw/heard them do. Unfortunately humans are still gross biological machines with all the gross biological functions that come with that so humans will need to avail themselves of biological activities, occasionally those activities must happen during hours in which you are being paid to interact with other biological machines. You should do your level best to ignore anything you heard or saw in there and the rest of us will as well.

      1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

        I agree, with one exception: please do not talk on your phone in a bathroom stall while I’m trying to use another for its intended purpose.

        It’s the one situation in my office where I have warned others (several times?!) that they might want to go to the next floor.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          ODL we had one of those. My desk has been moved so I don’t know if my message got through. I was so frustrated by the sheer length of her conversations and repeated flushes (!!) that I told a factory floor manager that someone was regularly coming over to the office section for longer than usual break. If she wasn’t on her lunch, she had a bigger violation than just bathroom etiquette.

    9. Arctic*

      It’s simply not reasonable to expect the world to cater to what you do or do not want to see. People should be polite and not do it at their desks. But that bathroom belongs to them as much as you. And you have no need to stare at them while they do it.

    10. T*

      It’s a bathroom, it’s meant to be a place you can discreetly use for things that are not appropriate at your desk. I’ve seen people whip out floss in the middle of a meeting, so trust me everyone who saw it was wishing the person flossing was doing it in the bathroom, where it belongs.

    11. Hold My Cosmo*

      I just finished spending four years and eight thousand dollars fixing my teeth. I’m going to floss in the bathroom after lunch, clean up after myself properly, and not care about what you like to look at.

  15. 867-5309*

    I’m not sure if this is okay to ask, since it’s tangentially related… At the bottom of this post was a link to the article about an intern whose jacket was stolen by a coworker, and then the intern claimed that same coworker stole her credit cards and placed a bunch of orders on Amazon. The manager wanted to rescind a job offer to the intern for “setting up” the employee, though at the time there was no proof of this. https://www.askamanager.org/2017/09/did-my-intern-frame-my-coworker-for-credit-card-theft.html

    Was there ever an update on that?

  16. 867-5309*

    OP1 – You might want to check with your insurance before making the claim. If there’s a risk they will find you at fault for parking in an unofficial spot, then they will not go go after the hit & runner and your premiums will go up. I am a not-great-driver and have paid out of pocket for things like dents – and even once, repairing someone else’s car after I hit it – because in the end it was less expensive.

    1. cheluzal*

      Yup. My bumper got really scrunched but the price of the deductible and possible insurance hike (on a 14 year old car) wasn’t worth it. Just sold it, scrunch and all.

  17. Teapot PR consultant*

    OP1: report it to your insurer by all means, but my advice is to then let it go.

    Cars are convenient and sometimes essential, but they cost and cost. And one of those costs is getting them repaired from time to time.

    And around the office, you’ll get a lot of credit for shrugging your shoulders and genuinely moving on from the issue.

  18. LW4*

    Thank you Alison for responding to my question. I sent the question in a slight state of panic one morning, and I’ve calmed down since then!
    I think being positive and enthusiastic will be a really good way forward, and on reflection, the head role will be really different to what I’m doing now, and other people will eventually realise that.
    The other thing I didn’t mention is that I’m hoping the restructure of our team means that I can drop the design part of my role (which I don’t much like, and I have a colleague in the team who mostly does design anyway) and focus exclusively on production (which is where my real talents lie).
    In my organization it’s a very long-winded process to create new roles, advertise and hire, so it’ll be a while before it’s resolved. Hopefully I’ll be able to have a positive update for AAM in a few months!

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      I had a similar situation last year but did end up applying. I knew I had made a mistake fairly early on so talked to my boss (who had been promoted to grand-boss) about my reservations and made it clear that I only wanted it if I was the absolute best person for the job. We both knew I wasn’t but you never know if you will get good applicants.
      We did find that candidate and she was a great hire and I let both of them know but a lot of people were very surprised I didn’t get it.

      Think about it this way – your coworkers obviously think very highly of you and that is a good thing! A simple reply along the lines of “thank you, it means a lot that you think I would be good in X role but I talked with boss and made it clear that my career goals follow the production path and this won’t get me there. I really hopeful New Person will be a great for X so I can focus more on Y.”

      1. LW4*

        That’s a good way to look at it – it’s nice that people at least think I would be good at the job. Cheers!

  19. Jennifer*

    #1 The LW may only have liability insurance instead of full coverage. That might be why the insurance company has not yet been contacted. I disagree partially with Alison here. I don’t know if there is any other way to get the footage released. The police will take a report but I doubt they can make them hand it over.

    I think the firm would have behaved the same way even if he were parked legally. In short, I’m sorry but you’re screwed unless you have full coverage.

    It sucks. I have been there. Be thankful the car is driveable and save to get the dent fixed.

    1. Paralegal A. Non*

      You’d be amazed at what records an attorney can obtain. I’ve read so many people’s medical records, including all kinds of things they wouldn’t want anyone to know about. Some are obtained with a signed HIPAA waiver, others are obtained with a subpoena (that an attorney can sign off as an officer of the court – I don’t remember ever sending one to the court clerk to be signed; if I did, the clerk signed and returned if as a matter of course, without questioning it). It really makes me never want to commit anything to writing in an official record@

        1. Paralegal A. Non*

          Yes, true – and depending on the amount of damage, probably not worth the money! (The firm where I read all those medical records was an insurance defense firm, so the insurance company paid for all those records. We could get what we needed – but they sure weren’t free.)

    2. Observer*

      If the police can’t get them to hand it over, the OP most certainly won’t be able to force the issue.

        1. Jennifer*

          You’re right, but I don’t know if they would go to the trouble for such a minor crime. If a serious crime took place in the garage, absolutely.

        2. fposte*

          That’ll cost more than getting a dent plunged out, and even if she can get the video (they don’t tend to be retained very long) that’s no guarantee she’ll get the money.

          1. Jennifer*

            She can try calling one of those hit and run attorneys that advertise during daytime TV and see what they say. They usually don’t get paid unless you do. But the payout for this would likely be small and far outweigh the expenses they’d have to incur to get the video, which they may have even destroyed.

          2. SurprisedCanuk*

            You can do it yourself. I would not do it. I would go through my insurance or pay just pay to get it fixed. If the OP wants to they can go to small claims court.

            1. fposte*

              Pro se litigants aren’t usually even allowed to sign subpoenas in the U.S.–they have to get the clerk of the court to do it. And of course in this case the opposing counsel would be your boss, which isn’t a great plan.

  20. SemiRetired*

    Re LW1: my car has been dented occasionally and I’ve never known how it happened or who did it. (Once on the right front and I don’t know how long I was driving before I noticed it.) my insurance still covered it. My suggestion would be to report the damage for insurance but not try to assign blame. I am unsure if this would be considered fraud at this point… since you do know who did it…. so get some better advice on that point. But frankly I don’t understand the point of trying to assign blame. Just get the dent fixed, it’ll be cheaper than getting fired in the long run.

    1. Jennifer*

      Blame needs to be assigned simply because someone did something wrong. If you had full coverage insurance and could afford the increased rates after reporting the dents, that’s awesome. Not everyone is in that position. The person who caused the damage should take the hit on their insurance. Whether that will happen, who knows, but I understand wanting to hold the person at fault responsible.

          1. Phoenix Programmer*

            In the US whoever is majority at fault gets stuck holding the stick. I was found 51% at fault when I was rear ended and thus was responsible for the full bill.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        Not sure how an insurance company would define it, and it’s probably dependent on the state/city, but to me they’re both to blame. LW wasn’t in a designated spot.

  21. Shiraze*

    I had a somewhat similar situation as the last letter, re: employers that want to have it both ways on labor laws. I was young but not dumb so called the labor office and they explained how wrong this was. When my employer tried it again, with a smile I explained that labor laws disagree and I never heard another word about it… and they started doing it right.

  22. Delta Delta*

    #1 – lawyer here. First of all, the higher ups are being jerks. Yeah, she shouldn’t have parked where she was. But that doesn’t give carte blanche to another person to ruin her property.

    BUT as a lawyer, a problem i see isn’t necessarily one of fees for the firm but of duties of confidentiality and loyalty to the client. So that puts the lawyers in a jam: if they disclose the identity of their client who hit intern’s car, they become adverse to the client to the client’s detriment. I think the way for the lawyer to deal with this is for the lawyer to speak to the client, inform them of the problem and find out if/how the situation can be addressed. If the client is a normal human a) they might not realize damage happened and b) they may be more than willing to cooperate with repairs. If the client refuses, there might not be a lot the lawyer can do, since disclosing the information would potentially violate duties to the client. If the lawyers decide to disclose the client’s identity over the client’s objection, they would potentially have to withdraw from representation of the client, which may not be easy to do, depending on the complexity of the matter.

    So, it sounds like the intern would need to go through her insurance company do repairs and maybe treat it as an unknown hit and run situation. It would be nice if the firm would contribute partially to any out of pockets, if it looks like the client’s identity can’t be/won’t be disclosed. I say partially, since intern shouldn’t have parked where she was, making her not entirely blameless here.

    1. 867-5309*

      Thoughtful and thorough reply! Not being an attorney, that isn’t even something that would have crossed my mind.

    2. LGC*

      You just named EXACTLY what bothered me about this letter. The LW is at least partially at fault for not parking in a designated space, but her firm is kind of throwing her under the bus here. They’re acting like she DESERVES to have her car damaged for not parking properly, which is kind of cruel in my opinion (even if law has a reputation for being…toxic).

      Hopefully, at least someone at LW1’s firm sees things the way you do.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I wouldn’t say she “deserves” it, but there are official parking spots for a reason so I don’t feel all that bad for her that her car was hit. She was entitled enough to make her own spot and she has to accept the consequences of that choice.

        1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          This. It’s not about deserving to have bad things happen. But she needs to accept responsibility for her part in this. She’s not totally blameless.

        2. VelociraptorAttack*

          I think this is where, for me, it comes back to how long “the rest of the day” was. If there was about an extra hour or so left after unloading supplies then she was just kind of lazy but I understand the frustration a little more. If it was any more than that, I’m with you on the entitlement to not just park in a lot she’s not supposed to but also to not even park in an “official” space. I’m also dying to know what that means exactly….

          I can think the client shouldn’t have driven off without having sympathy for her car getting hit while it was where it never should have been.

          1. LGC*

            I think it’s possible to have some sympathy for LW1 while also acknowledging she’s at fault. (If it wasn’t clear, that’s pretty much my opinion.) She shouldn’t have parked in that area, but also the person who hit her car and drove off did wrong. And my read was that the lawyers at the firm were acting like the client was reasonable.

            Basically, no one in this situation looks great.

            (And actually, this covers Amy’s post as well.

        3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          If she was hit during the time between unloading and moving her car, I would have a ton of sympathy pouring out of my nose at this point. She just…left her car there. In a spot that isn’t a designated spot. And is using the phrase “victim of a crime”. So I’m being pushed towards the “deserved it” side of the spectrum tbh.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            If the area where she was parked is a designated loading zone, then yeah, I’d feel bad for her then too. If not, though… I think I’d still come down on the ‘she made a choice’ side.

        4. Lip Balm*

          Yes, I think her making her own parking spot (not being in a real spot) for me makes this her issue to fix and not cause the company harm in doing that.

    3. Observer*

      I think there’s another duty to clients that may be at play as well. Depending on the kind of law practice this is, there may be clients who don’t want anyone to know that they are a client / visited their lawyer. If one of those clients is on the tape, that could present a problem, too. And, whatever you want to say about the person who actually hit the car, you can’t blame other people who just happened to be in the frame.

      1. CBH*

        Observer I agree. I hope I am not misinterpreting what you are saying, apologies if I am. If a client doesn’t want to be on tape and (for example) there is a posted sign saying/ is generally known that the parking area has security cameras, then I would say that was the Hit and Run’s person is just as responsible as they knew they were being recorded and took a risk parking in that area. Yes attorney client confidentiality is a must, but the client needs to do their due diligence as well or at the very least the lawyers should mention to the client that there are cameras. Then it’s up to the client where they want to park. I think it would make this more a gray area, not right or wrong. I think it would become another angle angle that needs to be considered on top of the illegal parking spot, running errands for the office. Again, apologies if I am misinterpreting what you said.

        1. doreen*

          I don’t think Observer is talking about a client objecting to being recorded but rather the recording being released for this reason by their law firm , which is supposed to keep even the identity of their clients confidential. I’m sure I’ve been parked in a doctor’s office lot a few times, but if HIPPA means they can’t have my name visible on the sign-in sheet even while my body is visible in the waiting room, I’m guessing they also wouldn’t be permitted to release the security video in most circumstances without at least a subpoena.

          1. Jennifer*

            I don’t think law firms have to keep the identity of their clients confidential. Information that the client has shared with the attorney has to be kept confidential. Many attorneys confirm that they are representing a certain client. It would be a matter of public record if there have been court filings.

            They just don’t want to cause problems for this client.

            1. doreen*

              There are many times when an attorney will disclose that they are representing a client with that client’s permission, even if it’s implied- if I ask my attorney to file a lawsuit, or defend me in a criminal case or even write a letter to my neighbor about their dead tree that’s about to fall on my house, they can’t do what I’ve asked without disclosing that I’m a client, but that doesn’t mean they can ethically disclose the relationship without any sort of authorization from me – like if my husband starts calling divorce attorneys to see if I’ve been there for a consultation.

            2. Observer*

              None of that means that this law firm does not have clients who would not want their presence to be known. And if that’s the case, they would have to factor that in to their calculations. Especially if the client who wants to keep this information confidential is not the one who dented the car.

              1. Jennifer*

                If I hit a car in a parking lot where I knew there were cameras, I’d expect that footage to be released. That’s why I find it startling that this client just left the scene. Very entitled.

    4. CBH*

      Delta Delta, as a lawyer and in general… I’m curious do you think this situation would be treated differently if while OP was parked illegally unloading the supplies and was hit during that moment? As in OP was doing a task for the company, not just parking there for convenience.

      1. Delta Delta*

        Probably. Say OP was unloading her car and it got hit while she was right there. she’d be able to see and talk to the person who hit her, and they’d probably exchange insurance info and avoid all this. Then if there was any issue about liability she could point to the fact she was obviously unloading supplies for the firm, which might serve to overcome a portion of her own liability (if this is a comparative negligence jurisdiction and if things like that are factored in). We also don’t know the other facts, like what the supplies were (was it something that had to be unloaded right there due to size/bulk, etc) and we don’t know how far away Intern would have to park otherwise. If it was merely a little more inconvenient for her to park in her normal place and carry the supplies – maybe taking 2 trips, then it makes her look a little more like she contributed to the problem.

  23. LGC*

    For 3: it’s a little ambiguous whether this is in March/April…or May/June. (Or later! I know that the LW said the date was rapidly approaching, but also that they liked to plan in advance.)

    IDK. It feels a little less egregious if the start date is June 1st as opposed to April 1st. It’s still something that needs to be addressed (and honestly, if they’re expecting you to uproot your life for a couple of months, they should get their ducks in a row ASAP), but the more lead time there is, the more I’m inclined to give them some leeway.

  24. AnotherAlison*

    #3 – I was in a similar situation. In Oct. 2017 my manager asked me if I wanted to take a remote assignment. After a couple weeks, I said I would be interested in talking more. Finally talked to my grandboss about it in early December. I was supposed to go in “January-February”, and I ended up going April 1, 2018. I totally get what you’re saying about not being able to plan. Mine was supposed to be a year, so it made a big difference to me if it was January-December vs. April-March. Plus, after having it hang over my head for 6 months prior to going, it felt like 18 months because I couldn’t plan much personally or professionally in that limbo time. I ended up coming home at the end of January, but I still have to go back and forth regularly.

    If I were in your shoes, I would be prepared for ~ 6 months of chaos– waiting for them to tell you yes or no, going and doing the assignment, and the potential extension/follow-on commitments. If you aren’t prepared for that much disruption, say no. You also might consider which site/manager has more political clout and the long-term potential benefits. (Honestly, I thought I had weighed things carefully, but my boss got demoted a couple weeks before I left, with the new boss not starting until June, and I did not see that coming. I wouldn’t have done it if I had known.)

  25. Lkr209*

    While I understand that Intern shouldn’t have parked in the spot/area, I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the employees who are protecting someone who pulled a hit and run, especially for an intern who probably doesn’t have the same resources as the client to get their car fixed (what if their insurance only covers a fraction?) I understand it’s a law firm and obviously, they protect people who commit crimes (especially their own client!), but they actually have video footage of this guy pulling a hit and run. It sounds highly unethical and and almost illegal for them to keep the tape from the intern. I personally would withdraw my internship and find a firm that’s not a bunch of sleazeballs.

    1. Jessie the First (or second)*

      It is really not illegal for them to keep the tape from the intern.

      In general, you don’t have a right to get copies of videos that belong to businesses or other people. If you are the victim of a crime or of a traffic violation, you don’t usually take it on yourself to investigate – you report to police or insurance, and they investigate. If the police thinks it’s worth their time, they will get the video.

      Because there is an actual process for this, I don’t think it is unethical for them to keep the video. After all, when you are being recorded on security cameras, you probably assume that the videos aren’t being sent around to anyone who asks, right? You expect there to be a process to who gets them and how – and usually, that process would involve the police or insurance companies.

  26. T*

    LW#1 I don’t know why but people get really weird about parking spots. I worked with a woman that would get mad if someone parked in “her spot” even though we had no assigned spots in a huge lot. I also worked in a small office and we shared a parking lot with multiple businesses all being rented by the same landlord. I parked there one day and a woman in a tiny law office came out and told me I had to move because those spots were for customers. There were no signs indicating for so-and-so law office only, which I said to her. I also said the landlord said we could park anywhere and didn’t mention assigned parking. She gave me a crappy look and walked back into her office. I told my coworkers who then made it a point to park in front of their law office only. I would definitely contact your insurance, the issue is a client hit your car, left without saying anything, and now you have a damaged car. Your office doesn’t sound like it has its priorities straight, considering it’s a law office and a hit and run is a violation of the law.

    1. catwoman2965*

      This sounds like my one CW. I get we all have our own “favorite” spots. I myself do. But, if i can’t park there, i park next to it, or close by. CW likes his spot, and his spot only, and as he gets in at the a** crack of dawn each day, he never has an issue parking in “his” spot.

      But, heaven forbid someone parks there if he goes out to lunch! Or, like now since its February, it snows, and there is ice and snow in his end spot, for a while, and he has to park next to it. Its actually kind of comical. He’s even asked me, when out for a couple of days, who parked in his spot! I told him i had no clue. Nicely, even though I really wanted to say “i don’t know and I don’t care”

  27. Alldogsarepuppies*

    I have a question on the “we could get in trouble” advice given from time to time. How to do you say that without making it sound like “I will report you” because the underlining message is that I will report you – and I can’t think of a tone that doesn’t say that.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I am working on a podcast right now that will, among other things, demonstrate this exact tone! It’ll air in March. But basically, the tone is concerned sounding and doesn’t necessarily convey “I will report you.”

    2. EMW*

      Or it’s caught in an audit. Or if someone is investigating the employer for another crime, it could turn up in discovery.

      1. EMW*

        Well not crime necessarily but other matter. And not necessarily discovery but during investigation or review of records.

    3. Washi*

      I think in situations like this it helps to imagine a situation where you would genuinely have the emotion that you want to convey and then mimic that tone. Like if I were in a parking garage with my friend who wasn’t allowed to park there and they wanted to leave the car in an illegal spot, my “I’m worried we could get in trouble!” would be very sincere:)

    4. Observer*

      It could be caught in an audit – and audits can happen for a LOT of reasons. Maybe another employee would report them, especially any employee who leaves the company (even one who officially left on decent terms.) They could also get caught in the crossfire of someone else’s feud – I’ve seen that kind of thing play out more than once.

      So, the idea is “There are a lot of ways that this could come to the attention of the DOL, and it could really hurt us.”

  28. Cheesehead*

    Re: #5: I worked for a very small company once. They sold, of all things, timeclock systems! The place was dysfunctional, mainly due to the owners not wanting to manage people or give them decent benefits, but expecting them to be as devoted to the business as they were. Well, most of us were exempt, but they installed a timeclock for us to punch in and out. It felt kind of big-brother-ish, since we were exempt professionals (or were supposed to be), but hey, that’s what we sold, so there was an argument that we should be experienced with using it. But the icing on the cake was in a meeting where the owner very angrily stated that people have been clocking in late, and he didn’t care if you worked extra on Wednesday…..if you were 5 minutes late on Thursday morning, you were going to be docked for that time! This was in the mid-90s, way before this blog, but I was pretty sure that that stance was illegal even then. I don’t believe I ever got docked or I would have LOVED to report them to the DOL over that! Knowing them, though, they probably would have fudged the timeclock logs. Because, you know, they could. And they had no ethics.

  29. YoungManager*


    Flossing is more than okay as long as you clean it up! Someone in my office flosses and leaves the sink full of her floss leftovers and it’s disgusting, I have to rinse the sink every time. So as long as you’re cleaning up after yourself I guarantee nobody really notices – and it is much better than your desk!

  30. Response to LW2*

    I agree that there is nothing wrong with flossing in the restroom. However, if you feel self-conscious about it, you might try floss picks (my favorite is the CVS brand). They allow me to floss faster than regular floss (meaning that there’s less of a chance of someone walking in on you), it doesn’t leave string all over the place (they tend to end up dangling over the edge of the waste baskets, which makes me cringe), and I don’t need to stick both hands into my mouth to get the molars.

    1. Anon E. Mouse*

      Personally I like the Listerine flossers. They’re basically like a tooth brush, but with a little floss thing on the end you can pop off after. No dangly threads with the trash for this either!

      They literally made me go from almost never flossing to regular flossing because of how quick, easy, and manageable they made it.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      What’s kind of funny is that my son has used these for years, but I read your testimonial and thought, “Huh, maybe I should try them.”

    3. Ann Nonymous*

      I came here to say that. You can floss with the pick-style flossers with your mouth pretty much closed and, if needed, your free hand shielding your mouth as well. Unfortunately I have to do that quite often and mostly do it where I am. I’m not touching my mouth with my hands, can do it quickly and discreetly, and it’s over in a sec. I’m comfortable and nobody has to look at stuff stuck in my teeth.

    4. Jess*

      I think this is a good idea. There’s a world of difference between the kind of jaw-unhinged flossing you need to do when holding floss, and the more discrete flossing you can do with a pick. I would still do it in the bathroom if possible, but I think it’s a lot more office appropriate.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      There are also little y-shaped tools you refill with your own dental floss… much less plastic for the environment. Frustratingly I haven’t been able to find one to buy since learning they exist. My dentist has promised to get me a product sample…yay.

  31. Lala*

    OP1: If the accident happened on private property (as opposed to on a public street or city-owned parking lot) the situation is different as far as a “crime” is concerned. It sounds like this is a privately owned parking lot. There’s no crime, per se, just property damage.

    Also, everything about the way your question is written makes me think you need to check your standing with this law firm. You’re an intern, not a regular employee. You intentionally violated the parking rules – two rules, in fact. You refer to “higher ups,” which sounds childish and shows your lack of respect for managers and partners in the firm.

    File your insurance claim if you want, but no one “owes” you anything.

  32. No Longer Indefinite Contract Attorney*

    Man, LW5 could totally be the new person at my company. This is an exact letter I’ve been debating about whether or not to send. I happen to be in a field that is pretty much always considered exempt–better for everyone really–but the god-modding over an hour or half hour here really grinds me because I often pull 9, 10 hour days and sometimes I need to, you know, go to the doctor’s office? Because of the way our company functions, I generally don’t get lunch to boot.
    Fortunately my direct supervisor is sane and she doesn’t care if I have am “short” one day or another so long as I make a full 40 for the week, which isn’t a problem for my line of work. But it’s really irritating to have to watch my time closely just because I have a vested interest in maintaining my health and doctor’s offices seem to operate on a 9 to 5 schedule too.

    1. fposte*

      It doesn’t really matter what the field is considered–the question is your specific position. So you could be non-exempt and illegally working OT without OT pay even if your field is exempt.

      But I also can’t tell if you’re describing being required to use PTO for partial day absences, which is legal, or being docked actual salary, which wouldn’t be.

      1. No Longer Indefinite Contract Attorney*

        When I referenced “field,” I meant work as a full-time attorney. Which, if I recall correctly the language used by the WHD, is specifically called out (along with doctors and executives) as exempt positions.

        For the second part, it ends up being both. When I ran out of PTO because of an aggressive illness early in my employment, my pay was docked for the half day or so past the balance of my PTO that I was out of the office.
        There are a lot of other toxic/unacceptable business practices that go on here, so while I have irritations about it, there are bigger things to worry about. (Not the least of which is looking for my next move!)

  33. Lobster Bisque*

    #1 Look you created your own parking spot where you knew you were not allowed to park, I agree that doesn’t mean you should have been hit and then had the person just leave but it also leaves you with some liability on this. I think you need to step back and consider what the consequences will be if you continue this and if they are worth it. You work at a law firm they are not putting themselves in a situation where they can be sued, and they are not going to let an intern loose them a client whatever you do next keep that in mind. That said would getting the car fixed be worth your job and the experience you are getting there? Do you know who the client is that hit you? How important they are to the firm? Your firm has let you know they think this is your fault and they do not want the client involved, so your next steps very well may determine your immediate or long term future(I don’t know how vindictive your firm would be if they need to fire you or what your options are).

  34. Employment Lawyer*

    2. Is it gross to floss at the bathroom sink at work?
    Yes. You can do it anyway but please use a flosser (less gross and overt than jamming both your hands in your mouth) and make sure to wipe the sink when you’re done. If it’s really bad (you’re a bleeder, etc.) do it in a stall.

    5. I’m not paid overtime and my pay is docked when I’m out for a few hours
    They are not paying you legally.


    Generally I recommend thinking very hard before going this on your own. It is not entirely uncommon for a company to push out a “complainer” even if the complaint is perfectly justified. This is, in part, because these things can have major repercussions (for all you know they have been underpaying 100 people for the last decade). And you don’t know whether this was actually slimy/intentional or completely accidental, so you can’t predict their reaction.

    You don’t need to have a lawyer actually intervene for you, but (unfair though it may seem to spend the $$$) you should consider a lawyer to advise you on documenting this and taking appropriate steps to protect your job.

    1. Phoenix Programmer*

      #2 Many people can not use flossers. They are not gross.

      #5 I have had much success using Alison’s script to stop illegal behavior. Often folks are simply not aware of the law. Your experience is jaded by your profession – you see the staff who were pushed out for asking.

  35. Ms.Vader*

    Where I am from you are legally obligated to report a hit and run (or any accident really) to the police and/or insurer. I’d confirm whether you are actually potentially voiding any coverage you do have by not reporting.

    I work in Insurance and have my designation so I’m familiar with the legal requirements. I’d be surprised if this would be different in your jurisdiction.

    1. mf*

      To be fair, there are much grosser things that happen in the company bathroom.

      Besides, some people need to brush and floss more than 2 times a day for the health of their teeth. (For example, people who have braces or a retainer have to brush after lunch.) Would you rather they get a bunch cavities just so you don’t have to be grossed out by their dental hygiene?

  36. SurprisedCanuk*

    I feel like a lot of commenters are missing the point. The issue is how far does the OP want to take it? Does the OP(Intern) want to risk upsetting his boss. Do you want to risk getting fired? You might not get a good reference or hired back in future? How much time and effort do they want to spend trying to get money to cover the cost of the dent? In theory the person who hit his car should pay. If you hit a parked car you are responsible. The OP should contact their insurance company and see what they say. If insurance won’t cover it (maybe they don’t have comprehensive insurance) then small claims is an option. However, if they refuse to tell you who hit your car do you want to subpoena them? This will be really awkward. It will burn bridges.

    1. Cinnamon Roasted Almonds*

      If the OP takes the client to small claims court they most likely will not have a job after that.

  37. Not That Kind of Lawyer*

    OP1: Please file a police report. The officers will demand the video, especially when you explain that the bosses know who the car belongs to. This also helps the insurance company. Whether or not you have any fault for being parked in an unofficial spot varies by state, but many will see the hit and run as a more serious foul that needs correcting “in the interest of justice.” Good luck.

    1. fposte*

      Unfortunately, the police wouldn’t demand the video in any jurisdiction I’ve been in. You file the report so you can take it to the insurance company, not because the police will take action.

    2. Observer*

      No, the police won’t demand the video. And even if they do, they won’t get it without a subpoena. The police (and DA) will not spend the time and resources to track down someone who dented a car that was park in a technically random spot.

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