candidate was arrested for peeing in public, am I being too helpful, and more

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

1. What should I do about a candidate with an arrest for urinating in public?

A candidate recently applied who is decently qualified and who, normally, I would phone screen without a second thought. After googling the candidate, we found a record in the local newspaper that this candidate was arrested a number of years ago for disorderly conduct and urinating on a building.

How would you move forward? Would you automatically rule them out? If you did decide to move forward with them, how would you address it on the phone call? I know it is illegal in my state to ask about a criminal record but in this situation where it’s public knowledge, we’re not really sure what to do.

Who among us has not urinated in public at some point? Let she who has not peed cast the first stone.

Okay, I suppose a lot of people haven’t. But if you found out that one of your current employees had peed on a building once years ago, would you question their suitability for their job now? The only difference here is that this candidate had the bad luck to get arrested for it.

Yes, people should not urinate on buildings. And yet, it’s a thing that happens, often by otherwise abiding citizens (late at night, on the way home, in desperate circumstances). This is not likely to interfere with this person’s performance at work; it’s not a sign that they’ll urinate in the CEO’s office or anything like that.

Arrests are not “do not hire” me signs. They’re just information about someone’s past. In this case, the information — a minor misdemeanor from years ago — is irrelevant. Ignore it.

2. Should I stop being so helpful?

I’m known as the go-to person for help on my team. That doesn’t only apply to people in my department — I’m also known outside my department for being knowledgable, helpful, and willing to assist. My manager has told me that other teams/depts managers have told him that I’m a great asset and they appreciate what I do for them. I like to be helpful, and I like to feel like I am contributing in more ways than just my job description … most of the time.

Probably four out of five days per week, I am more than willing to put my work on hold to help other people with theirs, but on that fifth day I just can’t. Sometimes it’s because I actually do need to work on my assignments so that I don’t fall behind, but a lot of times it’s because I’ve just had enough of trying to teach people how to do things or research problems that they’re having. There is a (rotating) on-call person on my team each week who should be fielding these requests, but 1) other departments don’t know who that person is without asking someone and 2) that person typically would take significantly longer than me to solve the problem. Therefore, I kind of feel guilty redirecting requests to someone I know is going to struggle with them.

Is it okay for me to say “I can’t help with that today” when really I can? Should I feel bad for redirecting people to the on-call person, knowing that person is going to have a hard time with the task? Am I allowed to just ignore chat messages from people if I know they’re going to ask me for something that I can’t deal with today? Should I just rein in on all my helpfulness to try to reframe people’s idea of my availability?

If there’s an on-call person charged with fielding these questions, you should mostly direct people to that person. That’s the system your company has set up, and you shouldn’t overrule it. By overruling it, you’re potentially keeping the on-call people from getting better at solving problems themselves (which takes practice), and you might be covering up an actual problem your company needs to address (like better training). You’re also allocating your time differently than your company has asked you to. Plus, constantly interrupting your own work might have consequences you don’t see — like maybe you’re good at your job now but you’d be great at it if you had more uninterrupted space to focus. (And “focus” isn’t just about not breaking your train of thought. It’s also about having expanses of time to just step back and think and reflect on how you might do something new or better or differently.)

That’s not to say there’s no room for individual judgment, which is why I said you should “mostly” send them to the on-call person rather than “always.” Of course you can step in when someone is desperate or you’re looking for a break or so forth. But your default shouldn’t be to ignore the system your company has for this.

So yes, you can and should say, “I can’t help with that today, but Jane is on call for questions and she should be able to.” More here.

3. Employees spending time starting up/winding down

I have an issue with two employees. They both work 8-4. The first employee often comes through the door often a couple of minutes after 8 and then proceeds to make a drink for himself and others. He is a very nice guy and nothing is too much trouble and often works the odd five mins past his finish time. The second one arrives early to avoid traffic but then reads a book until bang on 8 am but then starts packing up around 3:45 and is through the door around 3.58 without fail.

You might think my issues are petty and not worth bringing up with them but it really rankles with me. Surely if their working hours are 8-4, then they should actually start work at 8 and finish at 4 before getting their coats, etc. on. Or are they entitled to some form of “washing up time”?

In general, you don’t want to nickel and dime good employees. How much time is the first employee (the one for whom nothing is too much trouble) spending making a drink for himself and others? Assuming it’s 5-10 minutes, let it go. If he was doing the same thing at 2 in the afternoon, presumably it wouldn’t bother you and you’d consider that part of a normal work day.

But the second person sounds like he’s nickeling and diming you and is ending his work day 15 minutes early every day. The nuance there is different, and it’s reasonable to say to him, “Would you wait until your work day ends before you start packing up?” (Although if he’s stellar at his work, consider letting it go unless it’s causing any actual problems.)

4. What should my references include?

Thanks to your stellar advice, I just got a job interview. I haven’t had to interview outside my current employer for over a decade, so I haven’t had to use references since I was in grad school.

Two of my three former managers have changed roles and/or companies since I worked for them and I’m unsure how to indicate this on my references. Do I include their current title and employer as well as their title and employer when I worked for them? Do I need to indicate when and how long I worked for them, similar to a resume format? I’ve read a lot of advice about choosing references but not a lot about how to lay them out.

The most important info to include is their connection to you — so usually that will mean the employer name and their title from when you worked together. But if they’ve since moved on, you can make a note about that too. Info on how long you worked together can be really helpful, although it’s fine if you don’t include that (but I definitely would if it was a long time, because that strengthens the value of the reference). There are lots of different ways to do it and they’re all fine as long as they include the basics, but here’s one way:

Falcon Piffleploff (phone number, email address)
– Director of Oatmeal Analysis at the Barley Basement (managed me my last two years there)

Tangerina Stewpot (phone number, email address)
– Was my manager for four years at the Barley Basement (now head of production at the Porridge Post)

5. Bringing notes to informational interviews

In my current position, I go on a number of informational interviews each month (the interviewees are all within my organization; the interviews are partially for personal development and partially to make connections with folks who can help in my career).

Is it weird to bring notes to informational interviews? I like to draft 6-8 questions ahead of time and bring a printed copy for myself. This helps me actively research the person before the interview, but frankly, I also like having my questions pre-drafted because I sometimes get nervous meeting with senior officials. On a tertiary note, I frequently reference my notes after the interviews as well.

No one has said anything to me about them, but I also don’t know how I come across. I glance at the paper as I’m asking the questions. If the conversation is going in a different direction, I let the conversation flow naturally and disregard my questions. What say you, should I bring my questions or no?

Yes, definitely bring your questions written down! That’s respectful of the time of the people you’re meeting with — it shows that you put thought into this ahead of time and aren’t winging it. It means that you’re not going to take up meeting time with, “There was something else I wanted to ask … what was it … hmmm, maybe it’ll come to me.” (The same is true for job interviews; it’s fine to bring in notes on the questions you want to make sure you ask.)

{ 625 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, I think the circumstances of the arrest matter. College may have skewed my perspective, but I would guess that everyone has seen someone they know urinate in public at some point in time.

    Being written up in the local newspaper about it is pretty embarrassing, but I think it only becomes a serious issue to consider during hiring if it occurred because: (1) The person was being malicious/gross; or (2) the need to urinate was the result of a bigger health problem that affects a person’s competency and reliability. But it’s hard to make a call on either of those issues based on a local news story and a job interview (and of course you should not ask about it during the interview). And I don’t think public urination is enough of a “bad decision” to suggest that the candidate has bad judgment.

    In terms of how to deal with it, what about the misdemeanor is making you nervous or cautious? Can you identify the flags it’s raising for you, and how knowledge of the arrest might skew your assumptions about the candidate? That way, you can ask reasonable questions related to the qualities/skills you’re worried that the candidate may lack. It will also help you separate out stereotypes or fears from the core competencies you need in your new hire.

    1. FaintlyMacabre*

      In college, some guy peed on the outside wall of our dorm, in full view of half a dozen people in the common room. Us yelling at him was not enough to deter him, so one of my dorm mates, lured out of the bathroom by the commotion, spat his mouthful of toothpaste on the guy’s head. That got his attention! Drunk people, man. Maybe ask him about it, but
      … meh?

      1. Else*

        A drunk guy in one of our dorms ripped a urinal out of the wall, carried it to another student’s room, and proceeded to use it as intended. He was asked to find another place to live, quite properly, but I hope he also took up lifting competitively – look how much potential he showed! I also am glad he wasn’t arrested and later judged – this silliness harmed no one, and all he deserves is endless teasing from his college buddies.

        1. pancakes*

          Having to kick out a roommate and find a new one because the old one went apeshit & maybe has superhuman strength falls within my definition of harm.

      2. Not Rebee*

        My freshman year the guy who lived two doors down in my dorm peed on the wall outside my door because he was super drunk and got turned around. He thought he’d walked into the bathroom but I think he actually just did a lap or so around the common area instead since my room was actually further away from the bathroom than his room was! So I guess I’m in the camp that thinks it’s just a thing that happens (thanks college!)

        1. KTB*

          Oh, that is totally a thing that happened. We made fun of one friend of mine for almost a decade for peeing in his freshman dorm closet, drunkenly thinking he had made it to the bathroom.

          1. Klem*

            My ex used to do this regularly – in the dog’s water dish. Must have looked like a toilet to a drunk in the dark.

          2. JP*

            Replace “roommate” with “father” and you have the reason my friends never wanted to sleep over….but I digress…..

    2. Annette*

      If someone had a medical problem that caused them to need to pee ASAP – that would be appropriate to consider during hiring? Medical speculation of this kind = recipe for disaster. By no means should LW give this possibility another thought. Banish it.

      1. Observer*

        No, more like this is someone who gets so drunk that they have a higher need to go or significantly lowered inhibitions. The thing is that given that this was a number of years ago, even if that was the underlying cause it really doesn’t tell you anything about the current situation, 99% of the time.

            1. FaintlyMacabre*

              But now looking at your other comments, I am not sure if you are saying that, so I apologize if I misunderstood.

            2. OP#1*

              I’m the OP. It was public intoxication and says as much in the local report. The candidate also damaged property inside the cell.

              1. FFHP*

                OP, the candidate’s arrest record from “a number of years ago” reminds me of some of the recent letter writers who have overcome major issues in their pasts (substance abuse, etc.) and have completely turned their lives around. What if this candidate’s arrest is from a time when he/she struggled with a serious problem, then recognized it, got help and cleaned up his/her life? I would argue that if that is the case, this shows great personal strength on the candidate’s part, and he/she deserves an opportunity to at least explain the arrest — especially since you were 100% inclined to give him/her a phone interview before you became aware of the past arrest.

                PS I worked for a local newspaper for 5 years. We sold tons of papers when we published arrest info. Arrest stories were our bread and butter. What readers didn’t realize (and we didn’t bother to publish) was that lots of times, a person was arrested for something relatively minor, and the charge was dismissed, or they were given probation. It was no big deal in the end but the arrests, and our subsequent publication of the arrests, probably caused a lot of job losses and other serious problems for those people.

                1. Jadelyn*

                  This. OP, if it was a number of years ago, odds are the candidate has turned their shit around. You have a chance to be the employer that looks past an old embarrassing fuckup and gives them a possibly badly needed springboard to move forward from.

                  I mean, think about it – if you had made a bad mistake, just once, would you be cool with a future employer holding that against you years later? Sometimes a mistake is just a mistake. Unless you have some reason to believe that the candidate is going to pee on you when they come for an interview, let it go.

                2. Safety Dance*

                  I work in print media. I don’t handle the crime reports, but have worked beside those who do. Minor stuff is overlooked – we’ve all gotten speeding tickets – though I know some publications that even printed those.
                  Haven’t had this in a long time, but on occasion we’d get someone begging us to keep their name out of the paper. Almost always, those were individuals with more serious crimes. One person did tell us she’d likely be fired if her name was printed. She had DUI charges. I don’t have sympathy for DUI charges.
                  And yes, our readers LOVE the crime reports. People’s failings never fail to interest people.

                3. HB*

                  Yes – I’d give them the benefit of the doubt, but maybe just pay extra attention to their references. As long as they have good ones that speak to their work professionalism, there should be no worry that one-time behavior years ago outside of work would affect things.

              2. schnauzerfan*

                In a case like this, I consider alcohol use a possible issue of concern. If having a valid drivers license or CDL is a requirement you need to verify that the applicant has not been suspended for instance. Otherwise, when I did reference checks I might probe for attendance issues a bit more deeply than otherwise, but one arrest from a while back? That wouldn’t keep us from interviewing and eventually hiring the person absent any other red flags.

                30 years or so ago when we were in college my cousin and his girlfriend dressed up like James Bond and one of the Bond girls for Halloween. He made a gorgeous Bond girl. But, eventually as will happen, nature called. Does he use the men’s room? Or the ladies? Well, he chose badly by using the alley. Got arrested. Oh, he’s underage too. Got his picture in the paper, just about got expelled from school… He managed to live it down and we laugh about it now. His experience as a criminal fortunately didn’t derail his life, but it could have.

                1. Stormfeather*

                  I wouldn’t even say that the fact that the dude was drunk enough to do stupid things ONCE that you know of, is suddenly a big concern for current alcohol abuse. It’s like saying that 80%* of people who have ever been to college are an alcohol abuse risk. I know that some of us haven’t ever got drunk to the point of doing Really Stupid Stuff, since I’m one of them… but I view that as a departure from the norm TBH and for myself mostly just a sign that I don’t really like the taste of most alcohols/the feeling of lost control, rather than a huge moral podium.

                  *statistic pulled out of… uh… thin air.

                2. Micklak*

                  We could speculate this into a scandal but a guy peeing on a building a few years ago should be a non-issue. You’ll learn a lot more relevant information in an interview.

                3. uranus wars*

                  I can say I have peed in public no less than 15 times in my life. I can also say that ZERO of them involved alcohol. I’ve done it during marathons, when I’ve been stuck in traffic, when I lost my car in a major city and had been walking around for 2 hours at 9:00 at night when everything is closed, etc., etc. etc.

              3. Observer*

                Why are you hung up on the peeing in public while the drunkenness and property damage didn’t even make it to the letter? I’m really curious about your thinking here.

                This is more serious than just the peeing. But a lot depends on how many years ago it was, what stage the candidate was at, and what’s happened since. If this happened 3 years ago, I would worry. If it happened 15 years ago, then assuming that there is nothing else in his record to worry about, I would not worry about it unless there are specific issues like specific licensing requirements at play.

              4. R.D.*

                At most, I would make sure that if the candidate gets to the reference checking phase that you are more focused on reliability during reference checking. If this were last year, maybe I’d feel differently, but one arrest years ago, just isn’t that big of a deal.

              5. teclatrans*

                OP, what does Public Intoxication mean to you? To my mind, anybody who gets drunk outside the home is publicly intoxicated. Drinking too much alcohol at a club, bar, or restaurant is going to lead to public intoxication. So what?

                I agree with a poster above who suggested that you articulate what you are worried this days about a candidate. Why is it significant to you that he peed on a wall and caused damage in a jail cell, many years ago. What sort of assumptions is this kicking up for you? If you are worried that these actions are the signs of someone addicted to out out of control thanks to alcohol, and you worry it is still an issue, you could probe for other signs of that, like losing lots of jobs or having terrible references.

                1. Parenthetically*

                  It doesn’t really matter what public intoxication means to OP, because it has a specific legal meaning that varies by municipality, usually involving being so intoxicated in a public place like a street that they’re a danger to themselves or others, or a nuisance to the neighborhood. It doesn’t just mean “being drunk walking the six blocks from the bar to the bus stop.”

                  Candidate went out and got very thoroughly shellacked, wandered outside and took a leak in view of Officer Jones, got poured into the back of a squad car and then into the drunk tank, where he sobered up from Sloppy Drunk to Angry Drunk and kicked over a chair or whatever. Charges: public intoxication, urinating in public, destruction of property.

                  Given that it was several years ago, though, I agree with the general consensus that it’s not anything to consider in the candidacy process barring other indicators (like multiple firings or bad references).

              6. Ruth Ann*

                I feel like the mention of disorderly conduct AND peeing on a building was overlooked, which adds important context to the situation. I have urinary incontinence so am incredibly empathetic to having to go! But the disorderly conduct suggests a more complicated story. But I agree that I wouldn’t take some shenanigans from a number of years ago—especially if they were young then—too seriously.

              7. Reporterbabe*

                Many years ago, one of my then-paper’s stringers was late on deadline. She finally called and apologized and dictated a short and confusing story about the event she had covered before rushing off the phone.
                Later, we discovered she had used her one phone call from the police station to file her story. She got drunk at the event she was covering, dropped trou to pee, and was arrested on a variety of charges.
                Regretfully, we had to stop using her, but you have to admire someone with so much dedication to filing her story, she used her one phone call.

              8. Benefit of the Doubt*

                OP, are you 100% sure it was the candidate? What if it was someone with the same name (if it’s common enough it is possible even in a small town) or even the local paper got it wrong on the name? What if it was John Smith not Jon or Marta Jones not Maria and the original article was wrong? A small town paper might not even have the retraction in the same story as shown on Google.

        1. Zip Silver*

          I mean, who among us hasn’t drunkenly peed in an alley or behind a dumpster on a night out? On the scale of “drunken mistakes”, public urination is rather low on the list, much lower than a DUI. (except, of course, for the time the city of San Antonio banned Ozzy Osbourne after he peed on the Alamo).

          1. B*

            I haven’t! That being said, it was years ago and unless there’s evidence of continued substance abuse or disruptive behavior I wouldn’t hold this against anyone (personally or professionally).

          2. Gumby*

            I… like to assume that many, many among us have not. I have not.

            OTOH, perhaps I am an outlier because until I first heard “Everyone Pees in the Shower” sung I hadn’t even considered the possibility much less indulged. Now I read that a full 80% of people admit to doing so! (I still can’t fathom joining that trend either.)

          3. uranus wars*

            I said this above but I can’t honestly say I’ve never drunk-peed. Peeing while sober in public, however, I have done plenty.

          4. Bulbasaur*

            I haven’t, but I once came very close (long walk home after a social event). I held out, but it was definitely past uncomfortable territory into outright painful. It was enough to give me plenty of sympathy for those who suffer an error in judgement and pay the price.

            I had a similar experience years later, this time in a car, and I can say that ‘Break Me Out’ by The Rescues is the last song you want to hear on the radio in that situation.

      2. Friday afternoon fever*

        the need to urinate was the result of a bigger health problem that affects a person’s competency and reliability

        I interpreted this more as like a behavioral or cognitive health problem that, for example, prevented the person from understanding appropriate vs. inappropriate behavior.

        Not that I think this is what’s going on in this scenario, just that that was my reading of PCBH’s comment more than like physical health issues, especially given the use of “competency”

        1. Annette*

          No good reason to wonder about this. Seems much worse than assuming the obvious – a drunken lapse of judgement. Cognitive impairment should = off the table.

          1. I heart Paul Buchman*

            Hang on… I’m not sure if I understand what you are saying. You wrote: “Cognitive impairment should = off the table”. Are you saying that a person with a cognitive impairment should not be employed? We don’t know what sort of position is being applied for! I can’t get on board with the idea that people with cognitive impairments (which is a VERY broad category) are unemployable? Is that even what you mean? I’ve re-read what you wrote several times and I hope that I am misunderstanding. There are many, many people who have cognitive issues of one kind or another who are valuable employees (and managers, and business owners).

            1. Eliza*

              I think Annette means “off the table” in the sense that in the absence of other evidence, there’s no good reason to consider that the candidate might have it in this case.

              1. Eliza*

                i.e. what’s “off the table” is not the idea of employing someone with an impairment, but the idea that an impairment exists in the first place.

              2. Annette*

                Yes Eliza. Original comment implied that discriminating against people with unnamed health problems = OK. I disagree.

                1. I heart Paul Buchman*

                  Oh thank goodness! Thank you for clarifying and my apologies. I thought I had stepped into an alternate universe for a second.

              1. Parenthetically*

                Jennifer seemed to indicate as such in her comment, and does not seem to be saying it SHOULD matter for hiring.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I’m saying that even if there are valid concerns that the arrest is/was related to a health condition that can compromise job performance (e.g., ongoing or active substance abuse), it’s impossible and inappropriate to ask questions or speculate about a person’s health conditions during hiring.

            It’s so common for someone to need to urinate publicly for all number of understandable or excusable reasons that OP should not focus on whether the arrest says something about the candidate’s character or ability to do the job well. Instead, OP should figure out what hiring characteristics or qualities matter for this position, and they should ask appropriate and professional questions related to those qualities instead of fixating on the arrest.

              1. randolurker*

                Whoa, Annette. I understand that you don’t think PCBH was clear and that’s something you (and several other folks who agreed with you and likely had the same interpretation of PCBH’s comment, I’m not blaming you for interpreting it that way) but I, personally, find “it’s hard to make a call on either of those issues based on a news story and a job interview (and of course you should not ask about it during the interview)” as well as the follow up (the entire last paragraph) about trying to find what the root of the discomfort is pretty clear.

                I did not, in any way, think that that PCBH was insinuating that the OP should delve into their health records but simply, as she said, to ensure that the qualities and skills required for the position are held by the candidate and to ensure that any discomfort is valid and ***not*** based on stereotypes or fears from the arrest years ago. Again, based off of her original phrasing in the original comment, not the follow up.

                I applaud you for firmly advocating (rightly!) that health issues should not be a part of hiring considerations but I think that your comment back to PCBH was really unkind and condescending.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  Thanks so much—this is exactly what I was trying to convey. I didn’t see Annette’s response before Alison removed it, but it seems like that may be a good thing.

        1. Jule*

          I second Annette’s comment. Why would you need to consider this or any candidate’s health problems during the hiring process? Seems both illegal and seriously morally wrong.

          1. Anom-a-lom-a-ding-dong*

            Yeah PCBH, I’m honestly confused by why you said that “it only becomes a serious issue to consider during hiring if it occurred because […] the need to urinate was the result of a bigger health problem that affects a person’s competency and reliability. ”

            I think you’ve said before that you’re a lawyer, so I’m assuming you know whether or not that would be illegal (I personally don’t actually know whether or not it is!)…but it still seems a little weird to make the leap from “found out they were arrested for public urination several years ago” to “refusing to hire them because they have an illness.”

            1. Michaela Westen*

              I took it to mean a physical condition that causes frequent urination. You couldn’t hire someone with such a condition for a receptionist job, for example, or any job where they couldn’t use the restroom whenever they need to.

              1. Anom-a-lom-a-ding-dong*

                I suppose that’s a possibility.

                Still, though…you absolutely COULD hire someone with that kind of condition for a role that doesn’t always have access to a bathroom. I don’t think it’s a good practice for a company to use a person’s medical history to unilaterally decide whether or not someone’s capable for a job because medical conditions affect people differently- for example, it’s not like EVERYONE dealing with frequent urination can go the same length of time without access to a bathroom. You’d have to at least better understand the limitations of the specific person.

                It’s probably not illegal for a company to do this (again, I don’t know the law well enough to say), but it’s certainly icky.

                1. Michaela Westen*

                  Stress makes me go frequently, and I also have a sensitive stomach – I would not want the stress of working in a job where I can’t use the restroom as needed. But if someone with such a condition thinks it will work, I suppose they should be allowed to try.

                2. Anom-a-lom-a-ding-dong*

                  I think we’re on the same page- I think it’s your prerogative as a potential employee to self-select out of situations that won’t work for you. I just wouldn’t want an employer finding out (or speculating) that I had a medical issue and then automatically deciding not to move forward with me without some more conversation.

            2. Willow*

              I took it to mean that if the person has a problem with reliability or competence, that’s something that would be a bigger problem than a single arrest years ago. That sort of information would probably be revealed during a reference check. For example, if several references said the employee frequently came into work hungover. So if during the hiring process information comes to light that suggests the employee has a larger problem that goes beyond a single mistake and affects their ability to do their job, it would be appropriate to take that into consideration. On the other hand, if references say the employee is generally competent and reliable, then the arrest was probably an isolated incident that has no bearing on hireability.

          2. Annette*

            Thank you. That is all I was trying to say. I’m glad the original commenter walked it back above. She may not have realized what her comment implied to us.

      3. Elyse*

        New York is notorious for lack of public restrooms, with many places imposing “customers only” rules on theirs. Worse, if it’s late on a weekend, the Starbucks will be closed (they’re the go-to) so, while I think it’s awful for someone to just do it in public IF they didn’t first investigate alternative—and I dumped a guy in my 20s for doing just that!—there will be many scenarios with no possible alternative when Nature calls. There’s no “side of the road” in Manhattan that doesn’t have a streetlamp or some building’s security cam on.

        1. pancakes*

          It’s not as if Starbucks is the only business we have in NYC, though. Nor does everything shut down early. I’ve encountered people peeing on the street numerous times and usually I’m not bothered by it—especially the guy between two cars who called out “no offense, I gotta go!” as I passed by—but I did stop & yell at a group of 20-somethings peeing on my block recently. There’s a bar on the corner, a bar mid-block, and three restaurants and two additional bars just around the nearest corner—all open, none chain stores with customers-only policies, and these kids were one building away from that intersection. They didn’t seem to be in desperate need of a bathroom so much as reveling in feeling anonymous because, presumably, they don’t know anyone who lives “in the city.” It’s not uncommon for tourists to use that feeling as an excuse to drop most of their manners & social skills.

          I don’t think the letter writer should be concerned with a candidate peeing on a building years ago but disorderly conduct would maybe give me pause if there was something ugly or meatheaded about it. It would depend very much on the circumstances for me.

        2. Bee*

          The only time I’ve even considered it was when I was studying abroad in Paris. It was our first weekend there, we all went out together, and none of us had grasped yet that the bars close AFTER the Metro stops running (or had any idea what was going on with the night buses). So when we found ourselves waiting in a 50-person-long taxi line for half an hour with no cabs stopping at all, we wound up walking home together. Two miles. At 3AM. Every single one of the guys and at least a couple of the girls wound up peeing in an alleyway at one point – there was just no other option. It happens!

            1. Artemesia*

              They haven’t for the last 20 years until very recently where they put some out. They have however stopped locking their public toilet automatic booths at 10 as they used to. I once on New Years hd to walk 5 miles in the rain desperately needing to pee and not finding a single shaded spot behind a bush or alley — everything was glaringly illuminated — the guys just peed in alleys, but I couldn’t find anyplace that provided cover for a woman in slacks. It was pretty miserable.

              I would ignore the arrest except perhaps to be very careful to thoroughly vet references — but then one should do that anyway.

    3. Gen*

      Someone in our city narrowly avoided prison after urinating on a war memorial on a drunken night out about a decade ago and people still talk about it. That might be the sort of extreme situation that could need extra consideration depending on what OPs business does, but if the building wasn’t specifically described then I wouldn’t worry about it much. Of the men in my social group I can only think of one who didn’t pee outdoors at least once when we were younger, they’re probably all grateful things were so easily recorded back then or they’d have a lot of embarrassing things online.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        At least he didn’t perform a disrespectful act on a statue commemorating frontier hero Mella Giffenden, that would have been a lot worse.

    4. Ann Non*

      OP1 does not say what industry they are in. To me it would make a difference if the position the candidate is applying for is in the public eye — would a newspaper “uncover” the peeing and arrest and turn it into a juicy scandal? Or is it a boring desk job where very few people outside OP’s org would even know the candidate’s name?

    5. Christine D.*

      Circumstances matter a lot here to me. Is the candidate in his 30’s and the arrest was 15 years ago (coinciding to when he was in college)? Wouldn’t give it a second thought.

      Is the candidate in his 50’s and the arrest was 4 years ago? Wouldn’t necessarily be an automatic deal-breaker, but would definitely give me pause. I’m assuming that this scenario coincides with drinking, and I’d certainly more fully consider the decision making skills and choices of a grown man who chooses to get drunk enough to do something like that when he has (presumably) a lot more on the line to lose.

      1. CheeryO*

        Yes, totally agree. I’m not sure this gets an automatic pass if it happened post-drunken college shenanigans age.

        1. Roscoe*

          I mean, I think that is still pretty judgy. I’m in my 30s. I’m a good employee. But I drink on weekends. I’m sure sometime in the last 2 years I’ve peed in an alley. I don’t think that has anything to do with my ability to do my job

      2. pleaset*

        From a health perspective, the older you are (at least on the male side) the harder it is to hold it in. Just sayin’

        Oh, and BTW there are circumstances that make it very hard to find a legal place to urinate – a job w/o an office/base and not much money. I worked as a messenger, paid per delivery, and it was rough in that respect.

      3. CmdrShepard4ever*

        I am post college and there have been a few times where after asking in 4 or 5 different places if I can use their bathroom and being denied I was starting to look for a secluded spot near a building to urinate, before someone finally let me use their bathroom. When it happened I was always sober, usually had just drank a lot of water. I was willing to buy something just to use the bathroom, but even then a lot of places had no customer bathrooms.

        I think a single arrest ( I am actually surprised this was an arrest and not just a ticket?) for public urination is not something worth discussing, now if the person had several arrests for public urination then that is a different story.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          I missed the part about disorderly conduct. I don’t know if public urination itself is disorderly conduct or if there has to be more for that to happen.

          1. Qosanchia*

            If I were to hazard a guess, an officer tried to stop the candidate, and the drunken candidate got belligerent and spent the night in the drunk tank.

            My understanding is that “disorderly conduct” is usually vaguely defined, and largely up to the officer’s discretion. It’s a solid topic for a good, hearty derail, though

          2. AnonAnon*

            Disorderly Conduct is like Resisting Arrest. It means whatever the Officer wants it to mean, and it can be tacked on to anything as an additional charge.

        2. A Cita*

          Yes, this has happened to me twice recently, and I am 40s (may be because I am older as pleaset stated above). I just drank a lot of water, was walking home, and could find no where to go. It was going to either be pee in public or pee my pants. I did luck out at one place (they were sympathetic bc by the time I found someone to say yes, I was at the dancing and hopping stage and almost in tears), and the second, I *barely* made it home in time. So it can happen for non-drunksies reasons, in general, for those above college age.

          Now, when I was college age and drunk—it’s happened.

      4. Artemesia*

        I think it is also a matter of luck. Most guys have done this at some point; most people don’t get caught or if caught just get told to zip it and move on. It is bad luck to end up getting arrested for it. And sometimes just because of location they get tagged with a sex crime too for exposure even when there is no intent to expose themselves to minors. In an otherwise okay record, I would not give this sort of thing a second thought — there but for good luck go so many of our peers.

      5. Elyse*

        If he lived in NYC, he likely wouldn’t have a car and might have been waiting 30 minutes for a taxi (pre-ride Apps era) or a bus. If it was after midnight, there could have been no accessible restrooms. This city has scant public facilities, many restaurants have strict “customers only” rules, and those that are more welcoming would probably closed. This would be a problem for ANY human being, having nothing to do with alcohol.

        1. pancakes*

          Even before recent changes in NYC ticketing, public urination and disorderly conduct were separate charges.

    6. Mookie*

      The LW didn’t say so explicitly, but it sounds like the newspaper article did at least partially contextualize the event, if the disorderly conduct charge directly coincided with the urination one. There’s a lot to unpack with disorderly conduct, though; like “resisting arrest,” it can function as amorphous legalese, a plausible justification to detain or arrest, but possibly not to convict. Presumably this person had a sobriety test and tested negative. So “disorderly” could mean “kicked up a distracting fuss about being caught at or harassed for pissing in public.”

      That said, an arrest is not a conviction and both charges are broad enough that they don’t tell you much unless you also know the outcome.

      I work in an industry that sometimes necessitates field workers making the greater world their commode—within reason (no members of the public in the immediate area, no children present or likely to be present or within viewing distance, try to make the most of pre-existing physical barriers or fashion one yourself, select low-traffic areas easy to wash down and where urine is not going to permanently mar a place or cause a lasting stench). So we’d probably (a) just ask them about it if we’re going to make an offer while (b) presuming it happened on the job and then make clear our own OSHA-compliant policy that will never force them to make that kind of uncomfortable but understandable decision.

    7. Joie De Vivre*

      I agree that context matters. I run, and I believe that most people who run halfs, fulls, or longer distances have peed in public at some point. You’re out in the middle of a long run, and there isn’t a bathroom anywhere around. You don’t have a lot of options.

      1. Busy*

        Yeah or hiking. I have def peed in the woods when hiking. It was a combination medical issue and being lost lol. But I do know people who have been citing for this hiking or camping. Depends on the mood of the person who catches you, if they were called on you for something else you may have done, or a whole slew of reasons.

        My point is, there are LOTS of reasons and ways to get busted for this. The only thing that would make me even lean towards drunkenness over others is the disorderly (like yelling while peeing lol). But regardless, I shouldn’t be a deterrent from an interview. There are too many what ifs. And btw boo on papers who report this kind of stuff. Locally, we have been going after news papers for posting stories we all don’t need to know.

      2. CheeryO*

        Eh, there is some disgusting bathroom-related behavior that goes on at races, so I don’t think runners get an automatic pass. A quick pee behind a tree on a deserted trail, sure, but otherwise you need to plan your route to include a bathroom if you need it.

      3. WatchOutForThatTree*

        Training for triathlons in my younger days, I peed by the side of the road many times (always as careful as could be). Even worse were the two times my ‘lower tummy’ acted up in the middle of a long fun. Gross. It happens.

    8. BigSigh*

      Whoa whoa whoa, Alison is being FAR too kind for #1.

      I live in the city. Disorderly conduct and public urination here means some jerk was drunk, had his genitals out in front of basically the whole world, and then got in people’s face when they told him off. This is something I’ve unfortunately witnesses at least a dozen times.

      Have I unexpectedly not been able to hold it and had to find a dark corner? Sure. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. If I’d been caught by cops, I would’ve been apologetic, explained, and maybe still been arrested. This person sounds like they reacted differently.

      Feel free not to exclude from phone screens, but still ask about it on the call.

      1. Karen from Finance*

        > If I’d been caught by cops, I would’ve been apologetic, explained, and maybe still been arrested. This person sounds like they reacted differently.

        If you admit your scenario may have still led to an arrest, what brings you to the conclusion that this person probably reacted differently? All we know is there was an arrest.

        1. Anonny for Now*

          I, ahem, may be speaking from personal experience here, but in certain cities, if you’re caught urinating in public, you’re automatically arrested. The arresting officer said as much – basically, in most other cities, she would have let me go with a citation, but in City X, it was a regulation to bring me in. My friend and I were calm and apologetic, but it didn’t matter.

          (The kicker is – it wasn’t even me! My friend and I both looked alike from afar, but I was wearing a dress and she was wearing jeans. Friend tried to tell the officer it was really her, but she didn’t believe her. I was too… idk, surprised, struck dumb, caught in a perpetual “wtf” cycle, to say anything. The officer called her noble for trying to take the blame. We still laugh about it all these years later. And no, neither of us were drunk, the restaurant we were at refused to let her use the bathroom and she just has a ridiculously tiny bladder.)

        2. Observer*

          Actually the OP (OP#1) says that he was drunk and so “disorderly” that he actually caused damage in his cell.

            1. Sacred Ground*

              Although on second thought, actual damage to the inside of a jail cell seems so unlikely that I suspect it’s a made-up charge. It reminds me of a fairly recent police brutality case where the police beat the crap out of someone in their custody, then tacked on an additional “damage to police property” charge because their victim bled all over their uniforms.

              I wish I were making that up.

                1. Observer*

                  It’s not that recent – it was one of the cases that was used to establish a “pattern of abuse’ in Ferguson.

      2. WellRed*

        Where are you getting all your information from? You don’t know he WASN’t in a dark corner, etc.

      3. Psyche*

        We don’t actually know that he reacted differently. For all we know the cop was a jerk and slapped every charge he could think of on there. Or he got way too drunk one time and acted like an ass. Most of the possible scenarios would not give me pause about hiring him if he is otherwise a good candidate. If it happened this year or repeatedly it would be different, but odds are that he made an immature mistake and has since grown up.

      4. Aveline*

        You don’t know that. At all.

        Ask someone who used to be an LEO, there are circumstances in which he could have gotten arrested for it that aren’t that. I can think of plenty of arrests for it that weren’t “big bass.” Like anything, depends on the cop and the situation. I have seen jerk cops use this to harass people they don’t like. I’ve seen them use it like a turn signal violation – i.e., a reason to stop and toss someone they suspect might be doing something else like drugs. I’ve seen jerk cops use it to harass black men. I had a college written up for using it as a pretext to arrest men of color. It happens.

        This is not as cut and dry as you or anyone lease is making it.

        (1) We have no idea if he was actually convicted of it. This was an article in the local paper. If OP gets to where she is considering hiring him, she can ask.
        (2) Absent details that indicate drunk and disorderly or exposing his gentials to children or doing it to flash women, it’s not an indicator of any issue OP should worry about.
        (3) Peeing in public is not that unusual or that weird. Anyone who says it’s always sign of something wrong has a very skewed and potentially sheltered POV.

      5. JokeyJules*

        you’re assuming you would have met a cop who wouldn’t have arrested you on the spot regardless of your apology and explanation. There is also no indication of where this person was at the time of their arrest. There is no way for you to know how they reacted unless you were standing there watching the event at that time.

        sometime, you just gotta go and you get caught. I’d let this slide if it were “a number of years” ago. I’ve done some REAL stupid stuff a number of years ago, but i’m currently a functioning adult and competent employee.

        1. Aveline*

          It’s very, very easy to be privilege blind to how police interactions typically go in the USA. If you are white and small town or suburban, you likely have had zero interactions with police or only positive ones where if you were polite, the cops let you go. That’s not reality for far, far to many Americans.

          It’s also logically faulty to assume that one’s experience is universalizable to all other experiences with only one point in common. But we all do that. It’s human nature to assume “this is what happened to me in X situation, so this is what happens in X situation.”

      6. Academic Addie*

        I don’t think you can infer that. Big cities react really differently to public urination. I used to live near the big party/bar district of a major US city, and it’s what you describe. The cops will briefly tell you off if they catch you, but if they tried to arrest every urinator on a Saturday, there wouldn’t be enough cells. Other parts of the city where that’s not as much of an issue had much lower standards, particularly in parts known for being “family friendly.”

        The city where I’m from, on the other hand, is full of moralizing Midwestern prigs, and any public urination is likely to result in at least being booked in.

          1. AnotherKate*

            Born midwesterner here! I did not assume from this comment that ALL midwesterners are moralizing prigs. Just that there’s a particular flavor of moralizing prig that comes from the midwest, and Academic Addie’s city was full of such a flavor.

      7. pleaset*

        “If I’d been caught by cops, I would’ve been apologetic, explained, and maybe still been arrested. ”

        Disorderly conduct is, at least sometimes, total BS on police’s part, and depends in part on what the person being ticketed or arrested for looks like. Just getting arrested for that should not lead to conclusions. Perhaps (PERHAPS) being convicted of it is a different matter, but police saying “disorderly conduct” – F that.

      8. EventPlannerGal*

        How do you know that’s not what we’re talking about here? I live in a big city too, and here that type of charge could mean anything from “belligerent asshole screaming and throwing punches” to “had one too many and the arresting officer doesn’t like the look of you”.

        1. Czhorat*

          Yeah. And, if it was long enough ago and the only blemish on his record I’d be perfectly willing to shrug it off.

        2. Foxy Hedgehog*

          I am pretty confident that every single homeless person, drunk or sober, caught urinating in public in the city where I went to college would also be charged with disorderly conduct. Same with every single nonwhite person.

          I have no idea if the job candidate either is nonwhite or was homeless at the time he was arrested, but neither circumstance should be disqualifying for a job candidate!

      9. Kiki*

        In some cities the disorderly conduct charge is referring to the act of urinating publicly, so we don’t actually know if this guy was doing something untoward other than peeing.

      10. Dragoning*

        Or, you know, the candidate was black and you’re not.

        I think assuming someone’s behavior based on nothing isn’t helpful here.

      11. smoke tree*

        But even if he was drunk and disorderly, do you think one incident years ago means he should be automatically disqualified from professional work now? I’m asking seriously, because to me this doesn’t rise to the point where I would disregard his application. Maybe be on the alert for red flags and be diligent in checking references, but it seems overly harsh for him to face professional consequences for years for this.

        1. Jasnah*

          This is where I come down on it. Even if someone got drunk and reckless once years ago, I don’t know if that rises to automatic disqualification now. We have public figures who’ve been accused of more heinous crimes than that, and decided as a society that that’s OK. I say give the guy a call and let him explain it.

      12. Parenthetically*

        Nah, I just looked it up out of curiosity, and public intoxication laws vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction — in some places, being drunk and peeing in a dark corner can get you slapped with a disorderly conduct charge if the cop’s in the right mood.

        I wouldn’t ask about it unless there were other red flags that were relevant to the job — lots of short stints, thin or not-great references, etc.

  2. Elder Dog*

    An arrest is not a conviction.

    For all you know, the arresting officer was someone your candidate had refused to date.
    Or s/he ran over the officer’s mother’s cat.
    Or. Or. Or.

    1. JamieS*

      Assuming the urinating in public wasn’t something bad like peeing on an elementary school in the middle of the day in full view of children I don’t think it’s that big of a deal even if they were convicted. Maybe if it happened last week and was the result of irresponsibility (like being blackout drunk) but OP said it was years ago so any concern regarding maturity or responsibility stemming from that incident aren’t relevant now.

      1. JokeyJules*

        another good point! if he were peeing on a school in the middle of a school day in full view of the students, he would have been arrested (and likely convicted) of a much more serious crime, and would be on Megans List if in the US

    2. Annette*

      Seems farfetched. Probably he got drunk, peed on a building and a police officer saw him OR a citizen complained.

      No question that he peed. The question is – why should it matter for hiring.

      1. snowglobe*

        The speculation may be farfetched, but it is worth noting that an arrest isn’t a conviction. That means there is a question as to whether he did in fact pee.

          1. Aveline*

            “Oh please” is not a helpful or kind response.

            I could be equally snarky back, but I’m not.

            It’s not a vengeful ex we are worried about. It’s cops who use any pretext to arrest someone.

            That happens in the USA far more often than a lot of people want to admit.

            The fact you seem to think that we can be certain he peed just b/c he was arrested tells me we have a lot further to go in educating people on the realities of policing int he USA>

            1. Annette*

              The commenter I was responding to thought the guy was framed by a cop. Because he wouldn’t go on a date with her.

              As for policing – I feel I have a good understanding thanks. Police selectively enforce laws like public urination. Or loitering, drug possession, you name it. Two guys do it, only one is arrested. Often for reasons based on race or class. Or because they seem “homeless.” Not the same as making up the urination all together.

              Most likely he was peeing and it doesn’t matter to hiring.

              1. Parenthetically*

                No. He didn’t say that. He said a hiring manager shouldn’t read too much into an old urinating-in-public charge because there are too many extenuating circumstances around a petty, often-abused/selectively-used charge like that.

                The guy is AGREEING with you and you’re still being snotty with him because he’s not agreeing with you for the right reasons.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          Can OP find out if he was convicted? Are there court documents? If so, they’ll tell the story. If she wants to spend the time and effort to find and read them.

      2. JokeyJules*

        I notice OP hasn’t mentioned gender. As a lady not unfamiliar with UTIs…… if the candidate is a woman, girl i get it.

        1. TootsNYC*

          it’s just physically harder for a woman to pee ON A BUILDING.

          Most women probably squat to pee in public. I suppose you might lean on a building to put your legs at an angle, and that might qualify as “on a building.”

    3. Beth*

      This seems farfetched. This isn’t an outlandish accusation or a big-deal crime; it’s a minor misdemeanor that is more embarrassing than anything. If a police officer was going to go around making false arrests, I imagine they’d go for something with more of an impact, don’t you?

      That said, OP should definitely disregard it. It’s a minor thing, it was years ago, and the candidate doesn’t seem to have any arrests or public incidents since then. That doesn’t sound like something that’s really relevant for their candidacy now.

      1. Robin Bobbin*

        Do different states have wildly different laws on this subject? I had a neighbor on the sex registry for urinating in public (yes, he was drunk). There was nothing more to it, just peeing while drunk and he’s on the list forever. Doesn’t seem right. Presuming OP’s candidate did this once umpteen years ago and got caught, I don’t think it’s a reason to dismiss his application.

        P.S. Peeing behind the bush while hiking/camping doesn’t even count. No outdoorsy person gets through life without visiting bushes and trees occasionally.

        1. NerdyKris*

          I think your neighbor was lying to you about why he was on the registry. They do not charge people with sex crimes just for peeing in public. There’s absolutely more to the story or he’s just straight up lying to you.

          1. ChachkisGalore*

            I believe some jurisdictions have rules about multiple public urination citations in a specific period of times – as in if you have three public urination arrests/citations within a year, then the fourth in that year will be escalated to public indecency (or something of that nature) and could land you on the offender registry.

            However – I think that has nothing to do with this situation. As far as the LW knows the guy peed in public once years ago. Everyone makes stupid mistakes. Move on.

          2. Gaia*

            Oh they most certainly do! If a case could be made that the person should have known someone could see their genitals – even if no one did – my state (and several others) have been charging it as a sex crime for years. It is outrageously stupid, but it definitely happens and is well documented.

          3. Gaia*

            Forgot to add: they call it public indecency and it only takes a single offense.

            Oh and reasons for being on the registry are public so it is super easy to verify.

          4. TurquoiseCow*

            Um, yeah they do. That’s part of why you can’t necessarily trust the registry, and why it’s kind of a bit of a joke sometimes.

          5. Foxy Hedgehog*

            Oh, absolutely they do.

            “Indecent exposure” is frequently charged in some jurisdictions, and is, in fact, considered a sex crime.

          6. CmdrShepard4ever*

            As others have said this does unfortunately does happen, but politicians are afraid of getting near this and saying “I think the sex offender registry/laws are flawed and we should fix them.” The minute they say that they are “Soft on crime and want to protect sex offenders.”

            I can’t provide a cite but I remember reading a story of a person being put on the registry because they urinated on an elementary school without knowing it was a school in the middle of the night when no kids were around. But the fact that it was a school building made a difference for being put on the registry.

          7. MattKnifeNinja*

            For whatever it’s worth.

            Peeing in public can get punted to an indecent expose charge, which can lead to being on the sex offender list. All depends on circumstances. At least in my state.

            I know this because the local high school gave a talk about sexting last year, which I attended. Public urination was discussed. Charges can be nothing to indecent exposure (you are only just urinating). Depends on who and how hard they want to drop the hammer.

      2. MommyMD*

        Urinating in public can land the offender on the sex offender list. Exposing oneself in public is a big deal and there are plenty of guys, drunk or not, who don’t do it. I’d say move on to the next candidate.

        1. Cindy Featherbottom*

          I’m not sure bringing up the sex offender list is warranted here. If it didn’t come up when she googled him, then it most likely doesn’t apply. At least in my state, its pretty darn easy to find the sex offender registry and see if someone is one it. So if it didn’t come up under a google search, he’s most likely not on there. Plus, it seems like it was a one time deal. She found one arrest recorded (not conviction) in one paper many years ago. Its pretty unfair to ding someone for life for a mistake that was committed quite a while ago and clearly wasn’t a repeated offense. If it had been a pattern or something that happened yesterday, then passing on the candidate might be warranted. Otherwise, it seems very fair to ignore then incident and at least give him a phone interview.

        2. EventPlannerGal*

          But we have absolutely no reason to assume that it did in this case, or that the guy was convicted, or that it was even definitely the same person.

          1. Psyche*

            That’s a good point. Googling someones name does not always get you the person you are looking for, even when adding in location.

        3. NerdyKris*

          No it can’t. That’s a myth. Most of the stories about that leave out the other behavior that actually landed them on the list.

          1. Gaia*

            No it isn’t. Many states do allow it. It is lumped under public indecency. My state had a huge scandal over it last year when it came out that it was being used at a significantly higher degree in a neighborhood known for LGBTQ venues. Several cases were reviewed and charges dropped or plead down. Now there is legislation pending to change the law to require intent to expose oneself but as it stands now just peeing in public can and DOES lead to public indecency charges which in my state = registry if convicted.

            Insisting it doesn’t happen doesn’t make it untrue.

            1. Aveline*

              Last time I checked, 13 states had laws that urinating in public = on sex offender list. Period. Only two of them required the urination to occur in the presence of a minor.

              There’s been a lot of legal action on that since then, so I’m not sure how many of those laws are enforced.

              Basically, take your child into McD’s and pee in the same stall = ok. Pee behind a tree at a local park where no one can see you with your kid = sex offender list.

              And, yes, it does happen. And it’s obscene.

              The ACLU and various other rights groups are trying to fight this.

              As I’ve said elsewhere, one thing MommyMD is not getting is that cops use this as a cudgel against people. It’s one of those laws that is used improperly the vast majority of times.

              A white CEO can do the exact same thing as a gay black man whose brother is a known drug dealer and zero will happen. I’ve seen this.

        4. Aveline*

          That’s a gross overreaction and one based in no objective evidence wrt to what happened with this candidate.

          FWIW, I’ve peed in public a lot. So have a lot of women I know.

          I’ve also seen jerk cops use this as a tool to harass people, particularly men of color.

          And peeing in public is not exposing oneself in public. Those are very, very different things and you should not conflate them.

          There’s a huge difference between peeing behind your truck door or behind a wall and peeing in full view of a kindergarten knowingly exposing your genitals.

          I don’t know where you live and what your life experience has been, but in a lot of places in this country, there aren’t public facilities every few miles, so people have no choice. It’s not seen as “exposing one’s gentials” but carrying out a natural bodily function. Last week I was at a softball field where there were no bathrooms. All the women went out into the woods. Then men used the doors to their cars/trucks to shield themselves. They were all technically peeing in public. Not a one was exposing their gentials.

        5. Aveline*

          The laws don’t work that way.

          Also peeing in public is not the same as exposing oneself. (Former LEO and now lawyer here. Trust me, it’s not).

          Also, peeing in public isn’t a big deal. Not at all.

          These laws came about for two reasons completely unrelated to exposing oneself. First, their used to be a huge problem in urban areas with human waste in the streets. People used to just drop trou and go. Had to put a stop to that. Second, it gives cops something to hang further action on. Sometimes that’s a search. Sometimes it’s arrest.

          In my actual practical experience in the field, there were far, far too many cops who used this to harass and intimidate young men of color and far to few who used it to get young drunk white college boys to behave while in public.

          If you are picturing in your head a man pulling out and exposing himself to a group of young children and nuns, that’s not the reality. Almost never.

          The reality is usually someone has had 2-3 beers but isn’t drunk or someone had too much coffee and there aren’t facilities and none of the local establishments will let them come in. Or that the cop has had a bad day and wants to take it out on someone (even if subconsciously. Or the person is a target beceuse of X, Y, or Z.

          The chances that this candidate was exposing themselves or even that they were extremely drunk and disorderly are pretty slim. Possible, but not the most likely scenario in my actual, lived experience of it.

          And if they were drunk and reckless. So what?

      3. pleaset*

        “If a police officer was going to go around making false arrests, I imagine they’d go for something with more of an impact, don’t you?”

        I don’t – I think they’d be going for things that make it easy to run up numbers. Certainly that’s often the approach where I live (New York City).

      4. Aveline*

        Please don’t.

        As a former LEO and now lawyer, this is exactly one of the laws known to be used against people the cops want to “get” but don’t have other reasons to do so.

        It’s like turn signals. It’s used as a pretext to do more. Sometimes the cops get lucky and find more, sometimes they say “oh, we’ve decided to be nice and dismiss the charges.” That means, we wanted to stick it to you, but coudln’t Find a reason to do so.

      5. EventPlannerGal*

        “If a police officer was going to go around making false arrests, I imagine they’d go for something with more of an impact, don’t you?”

        Not at all. High-impact, dramatic false charges require a lot more time, energy and intentional planning, and get you into more trouble if proven false. A vague charge like “disorderly conduct” is perfect because you can justify it with almost anything if you feel like it. And in terms of impact, it might not straight-up ruin your life like a false murder charge or something, but it’s still unpleasant and makes your life difficult and goes on the record for people (like the OP) to dig up in the future.

      1. dawbs*

        Don’t some states have laws prohibiting arrests being considered in hiring? (Conviction/ record can still be)

        How does that work when stuff is Google-able? Because the arrest is the reason, but the notoriety of being involved in the incident regardless of conviction is also the reason.

        1. Antilles*

          I think there are a few states with such laws.
          As for how it works, you’d probably want to treat it the same as any other discrimination-in-hiring characteristic. Religion is a good analogy here: Since you’re not allowed to use it in hiring, smart managers just try to avoid bringing it up at all – you don’t ask it on your applications, you don’t ask it in the interview, and you don’t search someone’s social media to try to figure it out. This way, it doesn’t show up on your radar screen and potentially get you into trouble. If it does come up despite you not actively seeking out (candidate brings it up, comes up from unrelated searches, etc), you then do your best to mentally ignore the information.

        2. Aveline*

          It’s google-able because it was in a local paper. But that means nothing.

          A small to wn paper near me runs articles on things like dogs escaping and running loose, Farmer Johnson’s prized peach tree dying, and someone’s cats having an abnormally large number of kittens (yes, all real stories).

          The fact this was in a local paper tells us nothing about the seriousness of the incident. It’s not like he was front page of the LA Times.

        3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Several states and cities have “ban the box” regulations, which mean that you can’t ask *on an application* if applicants have been convicted of a crime. These laws typically explicitly allow employers to ask about criminal background during interviews.

          Are there laws prohibiting consideration.of arrests or criminal records? Essentially making “having been arrested” a protected class in hiring?

          1. Dragoning*

            I think it’s unlikely any jurisdiction would allow that–it would prevent, for instance, a child sex offender from being prevented from taking a job in childcare. Because it’s part of their criminal record that now cannot be considered.

            It would also prevent people from refusing to hire people with DUIs to drive, etc.

          2. SenatorMeathooks*

            Well, can something that is only one *part* of the journey to a criminal record *be* a criminal record?

          3. Jadelyn*

            California doesn’t quite go that far, but first of all we can’t ask about arrests or convictions until we’ve made a conditional job offer, and then we can’t consider non-conviction arrests at all. Then, on top of that, consideration of one’s criminal records is restricted to charges that could reasonably impact one’s suitability for a job. The employer must conduct an “individualized assessment” of things like the nature and seriousness of the offense, if it was a one-off or a pattern, how long ago it happened, etc.

            So if someone had, say, an arson charge, you probably wouldn’t hire them to work at an oil refinery or a gas station. Or if someone had been convicted of domestic violence within the last couple of years, you wouldn’t hire them to work at a women’s shelter. Stuff like that. If you withdrew an offer from someone over a public urination charge from several years ago, you’d probably be in hot water with the DFEH if the candidate chose to file a complaint.

      2. TootsNYC*

        also, i think I’d factor in statute of limitations. if the incident occurred so long ago that the time limit would have run out on prosecution, it seems really unfair to use it against someone now.

        I mean, we all get to make our judgments using very different criteria than the law does. But I think that if the state wouldn’t bother prosecuting after X time, that’s an indicator that the majority of the people around you think it’s something that can be forgiven after that time. Join them.

      1. Big Bank*

        Absolutely agreed (hello innocence project). And if good companies continue to treat ex-cons as utterly unhireable these candidates have no options other than continuing to be criminals. Obviously there are certain positions of trust (i.e. child-related jobs) from which most ex-cons should be excluded, but it’s concerning that some hiring managers would even consider removing a candidate for such a minor infraction like this.

      2. Aveline*

        And cops arrest a lot of innocent people on pretexts like failure to use turn signal, urinating in public, and resisting arrest.

        This tells us nothing about the candidate.

        I’m quite alarmed by how many people think urinating in public is something that is per se shameful and is automatically equal to exposing one’s genitals in public.

          1. Aveline*

            Used to be an LEO, now a lawyer. I’ve seen this. First hand.

            I’ve also peed in public a lot. In fact, I did so last week. Guess that means I’m a freak in some people’s books. Of course, no one could see me unless they really went out of their way to do so. And I had a friend watching the tree to make sure no one saw me. And the nearest facility was over 10 miles away.

            Grew up in an area where it was common to do b/c building public bathrooms was expensive and it was pre-porta potties being common. Most baseball and softball field in the 70s in my area didn’t have toilets. People just went outside.

            It’s not that big of a deal unless it’s in an urban area with accessible facilities and the offender is choosing to do so publicly rather than go into facilities.

            Finally – so many cities have bathrooms that are for customer use only. This needs to stop. Either build public facilities or force restaurants to let non-paying customers in. Urinating is a bodily function that people must do frequently. Whatever one thinks of Clint Eastwood, when he was mayor of Carmel, one of his pet projects was to install more public facilities. It was huge. And a lot of locals hated him for it.

            So don’t assume that there are always facilities available for people to use just b/c one is in an urban area.

            1. lcsa99*

              These days I would never assume no one can see you unless you’re in a bathroom. There are security cameras EVERYWHERE. In just the last year, we have had two different people come to relieve themselves in front of our front door, and in our lobby (and they weren’t both peeing). Both people obviously thought no one could see them but along with our multiple cameras, I know the neighboring business have cameras too.

              1. Aveline*

                This was out in the middle of nowhere. More likely I would be caught on a trail cam.

                You are right about the cameras though. And cellphones.

        1. Sacred Ground*

          I’m wondering how many of these people who are so scandalized live in communities with public restrooms available. Very few cities in the US have public restrooms. Those that exist are almost all in public parks only and are often closed anyway from lack of funds to maintain them or closed after dark. And homeless people are, shall we say, actively discouraged by the cops from using the parks at all.

          If I were king, I’d mandate public restrooms be as available as they are in other developed nations. If I were a judge, I’d toss every such citation unless the officer can point to an available public restroom nearby. Cities should either provide public toilets OR cite people for public urination. As it is, it’s just another means/excuse to harass the poorest of us.

        2. RUKidding*

          Yeah it’s not the same as “flashing.” We tend to forget that for all of our sentience, we are animals with biogical needs, just like say a cat. Most municipalities have a dearth of public facilities…what are human animals to do when they *can’t* just “hold it in?”

      3. Jadelyn*

        This!!! I lost what little faith in the system I had left when I watched one friend on a non-violent first offense have the book thrown at him (the DA was up for reelection that year and needed to boost her numbers), then a year later watched a man who beat another friend brutally (as in, she had to be airlifted out for emergency facial reconstruction surgery to try to save her eyes) and threatened to kill her get a slap on the wrist. At this point, if I hear someone was arrested/convicted, I assume there’s more to the story than I’m hearing, up to and including that they may not have done anything except be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    4. CupcakeCounter*

      Exactly! My college friend/coworker was on Spring Break and she and all of her friends got arrested because one of the group peed in public after leaving a bar. The cops were alerted because a couple of the (very drunk) people were loudly freaking out and yelling at him to stop. The area was really sick of drunk college students hanging around so really threw the book at them.

      1. irene adler*

        I can understand arresting the person who peed, but what were the others arrested for -aiding and abetting a public urination?

        1. Aveline*

          Likely drunk and disorderly. Which, as someone who has been an LEO and a lawyer, is a charge one uses when one wants to be a jerk.

          It’s up there with failing to use a turn signal and resisting arrest in terms of charges I side-eye when I see them.

          As is urinating in public.

          99.99% of the time a cop will do nothing more than say “hurry it up buddy” or “move along” to peeing in public. If he doesn’t it’s either because they guy is urinating at kindergarteners or milfs in the park OR the cop wants to stick it to someone b/c of their skin color, because he’s had a bad day, or because he’s sick of dealing with drunken tourists/college students/etc.

          This is not a charge that tells us anything about the candidate. It tells us more about the cop.

          Very few of my former colleagues ever wrote one ticket for public urination in spite of working in an area where it happened. A lot.

          I only considered doing it once. Once. Because dude was homeless and would have gotten to spend the night in a warm jail cell. But after doing the verbal dance with him, it was clear he was in his right mind and didn’t want the warm cot.

          1. Jadelyn*

            “This is not a charge that tells us anything about the candidate. It tells us more about the cop.” Beautifully put.

    5. That Redshirt.*

      In my city, urinating in public can get you a ticket. It’s a Bylaw matter, and you’d be fined but not arrested. (Unless you peed on someone maybe)
      So, I think the OP can be sure that an officer saw the candidate void their bladder. Is it a big deal in terms of employment? Since it was years ago for minor flummoxery, no.

      1. pleaset*

        In my city, holding the door open on a subway car isn’t even illegal as far as I know, but I saw two police officers jump on a guy for doing it (literally – that’s all he was doing, and not for very long either). Luckily for him he didn’t struggle much – so I imagine (hope) they didn’t try to get him for “resisting” arrest. Young dark skinned Latino guy.

        1. Aveline*

          Ding!

          Let’s not all assume that cops arrest someone for X = person did x/x was illegal/or x is a big deal.

          It’s often not.

      2. RUKidding*

        Even if it was yesterday…as long as it was simply urinating and not something “pervy” I wouldn’t give it a second thought. Or a first thought really.

      3. Nana*

        Stuck in a major snowstorm, friend left his parked car and peed in the roadside bushes. Cop ticketed him. When he got to court and said,” I’d been sitting in my car for 4 hours,” judge threw it out.

    6. Beth*

      YES, exactly. And the odds of wrongful arrest increase along intersectional lines. Not a good rabbit-hole to go down, especially when the alleged offense was so minor, and the incident happened so long ago.

      1. Aveline*

        Even if it isn’t wrongful arrest in the sense that the candidate did it, Officer Fergus has a lot of discretion in whom he arrests.

        WRT to public urination, cops turn a blind eye to it most of the time. It’s like failing to use a turn signal properly. There’s so much discretion and the vast majority of times a cop sees it, they do nothing. At all.

        Whom they chose to arrest for this says much more about the cop than it does about the person who needed to perform a normal bodily function and did so in an unwise way.

        1. TheOperaGhost*

          My brother was once arrested for *not* operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

          When he lived in DC, on the weekends he would anchor his boat in the Potomac and drink and hang out with friends. If he had too much, he would stay anchored over night and then sail back to shore Sunday morning. All of this is perfectly legal. Problem was, the richy-riches who lived in the riverfront condos (including some congress people) did not like people anchoring their boats and were putting pressure on the boat police to get them to move.

          The boat police approach my brother on one of these instances to try and get him to move. He informed them that he had been drinking and would not be moving. Conversation continues, police trying to get him to move, him saying that he was unable to do so, with the cops getting more and more pissed off. Eventually the cops asked him what he did/who he worked for. He worked for the FBI at that time and was not legally allowed to disclose that. When he responded that he couldn’t tell them that information, they arrested him on drunk and disorderly conduct, and sent him to spend the night in one of the worst DC jails. Charges were dropped the next morning.

          1. Aveline*

            I hear you. A dear friend is a black FBI agent with a southern twang to his accent.

            A lot of people on hear likely wouldn’t believe the number of times he gets harassed by local LEOs. He can’t tell them he’s FBI. He’s been threatened once or twice. The smart cops figure it out by what he says.

            He is, btw, also a lawyer. So it’s not like he doesn’t know.

    7. Elder Dog*

      My point is “an arrest is not a conviction”, and “people get arrested for all kinds of reasons having nothing to do with whether or not they would be a good candidate for the position you’re offering.”

      I was not speculating on why the candidate was arrested. I was suggesting the OP shouldn’t base a hiring decision on a google report of an arrest for something minor from years ago.

    8. Tisiphone*

      Having been on jury duty, an arrest is not allowed to be considered to be evidence. Nor were we allowed to take into account the circumstances surrounding the arrest.

  3. JamieS*

    OP #3, I’d just let this go for both employees unless you can point to an issue with their work or work output. I disagree the second should be viewed differently as the first. It sounds like they’re basically doing the same thing by delaying work except one does it at the start of the day and the other does it at the end.

    1. Reliant*

      I agree that you shouldn’t bother with this. Especially if you have ever emailed or called them after normal work hours.

      1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

        Seriously – and even if OP has never once contacted them out of hours, they need to let this go.

        OP, are they hourly employees or salaried? Do they do a good job, or even better than a good job? Are they completing all their tasks on time or before due dates?

        IMO, requiring arbitrary hours for butts to be in seats without considering performance, contribution, etc. is a terrible, terrible way to manage. And it seems like something that is slowly going by the wayside – thankfully.

        If they are salaried employees, whose jobs don’t require specific time coverage (such as taking customer phone calls), who get their jobs done well and on time – you need to let this go. You hired them to complete certain duties – if they get those done in 7.45 hours instead of 8, why are you insisting they sit in their chairs for an additional 15 min?

        I had a job where leaving on the wrong side of a 3 min window meant an additional 20 min on my commute. If my boss insisted I not pack up until the exact moment my day was “over” I would have quit, due to always having a longer commute and for being treated poorly.

        This is a good way to lose good employees, by treating them like school children who aren’t allowed to pack up until the bell rings. Please try and adjust your thinking.

        1. Zombeyonce*

          I also wondered if the employee leaving a bit early was due to a commuting issue. Maybe she’s trying to catch the 4:02 bus that’s 3 blocks away so her commute isn’t twice as long in rush hour. I know that if I leave 10-15 minutes later than my usual time, my commute home increases by 45 minutes which is unacceptable to me.

        2. RB*

          Yes, thank you. This is a good way to make your employees’ lives miserable. So if that’s the kind of manager you want to be, carry on…

    2. Friday afternoon fever*

      It sounds like one starts a little late and sometimes stays a little late, and the other starts exactly on time and begins to leave early every day. IE, for one the flexibility goes both ways and is a wash in terms of time worked, and for the other, the flexibility is only in their favor towards them getting ready to leave early.

      From a purely philosophical standpoint the latter is more annoying or potentially objectionable than the first. In practice, unless it’s affecting their quality of work or the job really requires butt-in-seat promptly 8-4 (and it sounds like it doesn’t), I would leave it alone

    3. Trish*

      I think in this case the 3.45 finisher is a bit early but maybe have them do a task so it does take them to their finish time – can they start doing task x at 3.40 because it will take 10-15 to complete. The worry about the guy in the morning is others may catch on the behaviour. Sometimes a general email to your whole group can be good (worked for me) and you say in a lighter tone, up to now the rules were a little relaxed and during start of work people were ok to make coffees. Going forward, they need to be actually working. See the manager if they have any questions. Then if it continues you can address the coffee guy individually.

      1. valentine*

        maybe have them do a task so it does take them to their finish time
        If he’s taking 13 minutes to gather his belongings, address that, but throwing a wrench in his routine is aggressive, infantilizing, and petty. If they’re spending too much time overall not working, or, worse, if they’re working flat-out or are scrupulous about break time, OP focusing on the bookends is odd and will backfire, with the employees clawing back the time elsewhere.

        It doesn’t seem like it would be okay for Aloysius to arrive early and have his coffee while Bex reads, as OP seems to dislike both. If Bex just packs at 3:45, then works until 3:58, what’s the big deal? What more can he do in two minutes? If he shares space or has a train to catch, is he clearing out so Carlisle can start bang on time and/or does a two-plus-minute delay have him waiting uselessly for 30 minutes?

        1. ssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

          Commute time is a serious consideration: does a two-plus-minute delay have him waiting uselessly for 30 minutes?

          I have found myself this winter unable to leave at five, as I’m still putting on boots, mitts, layers and voila, I missed the bus I wanted and I’m home much later than I wanted to. I would have to stop working at 4:45, do my pit stop, and get all my layers on while clearing my desk to be able to leave at five and more often than not, I can’t because I’m doing that one last email, that one last task.

          1. Flash Bristow*

            Right but if he’s arriving early as well as finishing early could his hours be formalised to 745-345?

            Sounds like that would suit his commute; manager could ask that. I got my time changed to be a hour later at each end of the day, as my disability progressed and I could only cope on the less busy trains.

            1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

              This is my thought. It’s about traffic. He arrives early to avoid traffic. It follows that he starts his car exactly at 4 to avoid traffic. OP should ask if he’d like to adjust his hours by 15 minutes. But have a clear discussion. You don’t want him packing up at 3:30 instead and driving you nuts that way!

              I was in the same situation. If I started my car at 5:00, I could get home by 5:20. If I didn’t get to my car until five after five, I would get home at 5:45-6. It was that much of a difference. So we adjusted.

        2. Red 5*

          The commuting thing could be a really big consideration. Before my commute changed at my current job, I had an alarm to remind me to start packing up/getting ready to leave five minutes before my official end time, because if I missed that train I then missed a bus and would have to wait a minimum of 30 minutes for the next one.

          And I usually got in a few minutes early for the same reason (timing of trains) but my boss was never upset about it, because he was not a time clock watcher at all but somebody who was very task oriented. He gave me things to do, and told me when they needed to be done by, and I met my deadlines. That was all that mattered.

          Having that leeway to try to not spend 30 minutes wasting my life in a smog filled bus area on hot days was a bigger perk than a pay raise to be honest.

        3. Jennifer*

          Sometimes when you’re irritated by someone, the small things they do start to irk you, even when they aren’t that big of a deal.

            1. R.D.*

              Agreed, but in that case, maybe try and drill down into why they are irritating and if that irritation is work related.

              Are they waiting until the very last minute to finish tasks? Handing off to much? Shirking? Is this behavior a sign of how their work is not where it should be? Address those things and ignore the time thing.

              Or are they just some one who is generally irritating in a non-performance impacting way? Try to ignore this and the time thing.

              Is the OP someone one who is just bothered by people who are 2 minutes late, in any context? That might be an OP problem, not a problem with the employees.

              I have said previously that I’ve worked at places where I was written up for being 2 minutes late and at places where I wasn’t written up, but my boss hated it regardless of my actual work. In contrast, I have also worked at places where it didn’t matter if I showed up at 8 or 7:45 or 8:15 and the only thing anyone cared about was if I got my work done and hit my deadlines.

              Guess which one is a nicer place to work, basically across the board?

      2. Alton*

        I don’t think assigning a task just to keep him busy is the way to go. It’s petty, and also runs the risk of backfiring if he’s rushed or the task takes longer than anticipated.

        (The other day, I decided go make some copies in the last five minutes before I had to leave because it should have been a quick task. There ended up being three paper jams to sort out….)

        1. Dragoning*

          I think after I realized there was a jam, I’d have taken my items to be copied back to my desk and have left.

          1. Alton*

            I would probably have done the same if it turned into a major ordeal, especially since it was unlikely anyone else would try to use the copier after I left.

      3. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        Do not send a general email for something only two people are doing wrong. That will just cause all the people who are already starting/ending on time to become super paranoid about running to the bathroom when they get there or packing up three minutes before end time. The people who are actually doing this will think it is not directed at them and ignore it. Don’t nickle and dime people that are doing nothing wrong.

        1. miss_chevious*

          Yes, thank you! If there are issues with one or two employees, address it with those employees. The rest of the group, who has done nothing wrong, doesn’t need to spend their mental energy on this issue.

      4. Sam.*

        Unless they actually NEED to be working at 8 or the morning coffee routines is taking an excessive amount of time, OP should let it go. If the employees do good work, there is no point in micromanaging their collective behavior for maybe 10 additional minutes of productivity. And even if OP decides they must intervene, they should talk to the individuals directly. I feel like one of the grand lessons of AAM is “emailing the entire group with a message geared at one person almost never works.”

        1. Psyche*

          If the overall productivity of the employee is good, I would leave it alone. Allowing people to take time to make coffee or take short beaks during the day can increase productivity. If his productivity is low or the time he is taking is excessive, that should be addressed. It would be incredibly demotivating to be told that making coffee was unacceptable in the morning and that the amount of time you are working is more important than how much work you get done.

      5. LadyofLasers*

        I wonder if the early leaver guy has a commute issue (which would be why they arrive so crazy early). I could see him needing to leave early to take a bus. He should probably communicate that, and start early to compensate, but it might be worth checking in to see if there is a timing issue.

    4. Bagpuss*

      I don’t think they are the the same. the first one starts a little slowly but typically makes up the time by also leaving a little later.

      The second starts dead on time and finishes 15 minutes early.

      So #1 is doing a full day’s work, just doing it from 8.10 – 4.10 instead of 8-4, whereas #2 is doing 8-3.45.

      1. RUKidding*

        OP says #1 died the “odd” few minutes extra so it’s not an every day thing and if # 2 just packs up but us still working that’s not “quitting” work 15 mins early. And why can #1 take 10 or so minutes to get drinks but #2 cant take the same time at the other rnd of the day? Moreover why does OP care if #2 reads until time to start work?

        1. doreen*

          I don’t think #2 is spending a minute packing up at 3:45 and then working until 4 and I doubt the OP cares whether #2 reads before work. People always complain about managers nickel- and-diming employees, where they want your butt in the seat at 8:00 and not 8:01 and you leave at 4 not 3:58. Employee number 2 is doing it from the opposite perspective. She is just as unwilling to work for an extra minute as the butts-in-seat manger is unwilling to pay for a minute of non-working. The difference between #1 and #2 is not necessarily in hours worked- the OP doesn’t say #1 stays late every day. The difference is the attitude, for lack of a better word. I’ve known people like #2 – they will sit at their desk and listen to the phone ring until exactly 8:00 but they stop answering the phone or doing any other work significantly before quitting time because “I might get stuck past 4”. I’ve even known some who stop doing any work 15-30 minutes early on a regular basis and the one time a year they end up working ten minutes late , they are file for overtime. That’s what rankles the OP about #2- the inconsistency. Won’t start work a minute before 8 but also won’t work until 4.

              1. doreen*

                Nothing wrong with that- as long as you don’t also expect to be paid for the 15-30 minutes you leave early the rest of the time. Which is what the people I know did – you want your 10 minutes, fine, I don’t have a problem , but stop putting 4:00 on your timesheet when you left at 3:45. It’s not only employers who don’t understand the concept of a “two-way street”.

          1. SarahKay*

            Agreed. #1 wouldn’t bother me – you give a bit, you get a bit, and that’s how (I think) it should be.
            #2 would really irritate me and make me feel like ‘Okay, you’re going to nickel-and-dime me, I’ll nickel-and-dime you too!’ Now, I wouldn’t necessarily act on that irritation; I’d want to look at how good the work is generally, but I’m definitely far more likely to act on #2’s timekeeping.

            1. TootsNYC*

              When I started a job, i had to have a “let’s not nickel-and-dime here” convo w/ a staffer. The arrangement (predating me, but one I was good with) was to give people comp time because they had to work extra late. (everyone was exempt; comp time was really my discretion, not a company policy, and in fact, company policy was that it didn’t give comp time).

              So after the first crunch period, I asked people to tell me what hours they’d worked that needed comp time. One of these people gave me a list that included 15 minutes here, 15 minutes there.

              So we sat down, and I said, “I don’t want you to nickel-and-dime ME, because I don’t want to have to nickel-and-dime YOU. I don’t have energy to notice whether you’re in right at 10, or took a long lunch. These small amounts are things you’ll get back because you make a lunch date w/ a friend during a slow week, or you have to go to the doctor, or wait for the cable tech. Comp time, as I see it, is only for the big dings to your life–you lost half an evening, so you get to leave at lunch one day; you lost an entire evening, so you get a whole day to do your laundry in, or leave a little early for a weekend.”

              I’m so glad I’ve never worked somewhere that I had to worry about people punching the clock.

                1. WatchOutForThatTree*

                  Not to me it doesn’t. Sounds totally fine and a really adult way to handle it. I’d like that approach.

            2. RUKidding*

              Ok but isnt #1 taking ~the same amount of time in the morning (making drinks for, and delivering to several people can easily take 10-15 minutes)as #2 is in the evenings? Why is one ok and the other not?

              1. doreen*

                Because #1 often works the odd five minutes after his finish time, while #2 never starts one minute early and always leaves early. #1 gets to the office early enough to read, and still doesn’t start until the stroke of 8. It’s not the time – I absolutely don’t pay attention to whether people are 15 minutes late in the morning or leave 15 minutes early as a general rule. But I do pay attention when the same people who want paid overtime for working 15 minutes extra ( if they worked 15 minutes less the next day, I wouldn’t even notice) or who literally try to walk away mid-conversation because “it’s time for my break” leave 15 minutes early. Because those people want flexibility when it benefits them, but don’t think it’s a two way street.

                1. RUKiddingMe*

                  If #2 gets to the office early why do they have to start early?

                  OP says #2 starts packing up at 3:45 but doesn’t say whether they actually stop working for the day. That’s an important factor. But really I think OP should be just as “rankled” at #1 screwing around, wasting time getting drinks if OP wants butts in seats.

            3. RUKiddingMe*

              I still fail to see how #1 coming in on time and then spending time futzing around getting coffee/drinks for all and sundry isn’t wasting time as well. If OP wants butts in seats at 8:00 then employee #1 needs to not be getting drinks. OP mentions how nice and helpful #1 is, and nothing is ever too much, but takes issue with #2 using just about as much time futzing around at the other end of the day. I get a very definite tone that OP likes #1 and if she doesn’t actually dislike #2, she certainly doesn’t care for them much.

          2. JamieS*

            There’s no indication in the letter #2 is unwilling to stay late only that they haven’t thus far. Have they been asked to stay later to work on something and refused? Are they behind on their work because of this? If so that points to a possible attitude problem and work issue. If not the only thing we can glean is that #2 arranges their day to be at a stopping point by 3:45.

    5. AnotherAlison*

      I’m sorry, but I think both employees in #3 are a bit ridiculous. I’m looking at this from exempt-employee colored glasses, though. Both seem like they are going out of their way to work only the bare minimum. I am in a more workaholic culture, and was raised that way, but to me, it would seem they didn’t have enough to do. If they’re non-exempt, though, and no O/T is approved, then I can understand not wanting to put more than exactly 8 hrs in. I would almost bet the employee who packs up at 3:45 has a break or lunch that he’s not taking and mentally counts that as working his extra 15 minutes.

      If OP wants them there for exact hours, then tell them. Don’t make them guess.

      1. Le Sigh*

        I’m exempt. I’m actually fair senior. But why should anyone ding these guys for working the expected 8 hours, assuming they are? Who cares as long as the work gets done?

        Look, most days, I put in the expected 8 hours. When I have to stay late or deal with a weekend issue, I absolutely do. I travel for work and work long hours on those trips — so I’m willing to put in the time to make sure my work gets done. But even if these guys never go above and beyond, so what? Eight hours is the expectation, and if they’re meeting that, then it sounds like they have enough to do.

        1. valentine*

          I really hate working late just to avoid being judged for working “only” 8 hours. It’s like the flair in Office Space. You don’t want to be the bad guy and make OT mandatory (assuming you even want to pay them for the useless lateness), yet you don’t just want people to work late, you want them to want to work late, for appearances’ sake.

      2. Ace in the Hole*

        I think industry and job type matters a lot here. It’s normal at my job for the last 15 minutes of the workday to be spent cleaning up, gathering your stuff, or changing out of your work gear into street clothes. If you finish packing up a couple minutes early everyone would think you’re crazy to wait 2 extra minutes before punching out. And it’s absolutely not expected that you’ll start early just because you arrived early!

        But really does it matter if they’re exempt or not? If it’s hourly, then they’re clocking less hours. If it’s exempt, the hours don’t matter as long as the work gets done. Either way, 5-10 minutes is a really petty thing to make a fuss over.

      3. New Jack Karyn*

        Something in the wording of #3 made me think, Not in the US. There might be a cultural difference in attitude toward work at play here.

      4. Entry Level Marcus*

        I don’t get this expectation that some people have that exempt employees are being lazy or unproductive if they don’t work a minimum of 8 hours a day. To me, exempt means you are measured based on results, not hours worked. That means working extra hours if needed, yes, but it should also mean that if you can meet or exceed expectations on a given day in less than 8 hours then that’s ok too (unless the job requires coverage at specific times by specific employees).

      5. doreen*

        I suppose this is one of those things where perception makes a big difference – because I absolutely would not bet that the employee who packs up at 3:45 has a break or lunch he’s not taking. Because in my experience, the people I’ve known who are present at the workplace and will not start work one moment before the official start time make sure to take every minute of their breaks , to the point where I have seen people adjust the end time of their break because they were asked “Who’s covering the switchboard?” and answering that question used up a few seconds of their break time.

        1. valentine*

          Why shouldn’t we take every minute of our breaks? It’s not even a real break because I’m “on” from the time I leave home until I return.

          1. doreen*

            I didn’t say anybody shouldn’t take all their breaks – I was replying to someone who said “I would almost bet the employee who packs up at 3:45 has a break or lunch that he’s not taking” and I wouldn’t make that bet . You may know people who won’t start one minute early but skip a break so they can leave 15 minutes early – I never have.

        2. Perse's Mom*

          *shrug* I do this. Company policy lays out our breaks and lunches. Short of wasting half of those breaks trekking to my car to completely avoid people, I can rarely actually take an entire break or lunch undisturbed by someone needing something work related, be it a task or question (and those rarely use up “a few seconds” of my break).

          1. doreen*

            I was being literal- the person was asked a question with a one word answer as she was leaving her desk and extended her break five minutes.

    6. ElleJay*

      The flip could be applied to the LW. As a manager, is it in the company’s best interest to track employees’ comings and goings to the minute?

      How many days did you stop what you were doing to observe and record employee #2 starting work at 8am, and leaving at 3:58pm? Likewise, how many days did you stop again at 8:08am to write down employee #1 walk through the door and then make himself coffee/tea?

      I think the company would probably prefer if the manager spends their time ensuring the quality and timeliness of the work his/her team provides is as well done as possible, rather than micromanaging time sheets (particularly for salaried employees…)

    7. Colette*

      My question is about the rest of the day. Do they both take a lunch break, or paid breaks that are part of their schedule?

      This issue with nickel and diming employees is that when you give them no flexibility, you get it in return. So pushing back on the employee who stays a few minutes late may result in him showing up on time, but it will also result in him leaving on time when it would be really nice for him to stay to deal with something.

      That might be OK – but it’s something to consider.

      The second one, though, comes across as a clock-watcher, which is why I wonder how they are throughout the rest of the day.

      1. Clawfoot*

        That was my thought, too. It could be the second guy comes back from lunch 15 minutes early or skips his afternoon coffee break so that he can start packing up at 3:45.

        I’m of the same mind as many here: if it’s not impacting his work at all, let it go.

        1. Tisiphone*

          That was my first thought, too. Many times I’d like to take a leisurely dinner break, but something urgent often pops up. So I don’t often get my full hour. If there isn’t shift coverage to plan for, leaving at 3:45 shouldn’t be a big deal.

      2. TootsNYC*

        actually, the first one might annoy me more, depending on how much time he spends ramping up. Because the time he’s not working is right in the middle of most other people’s most productive time. And I might worry if he’s actually disruptive with his “let me get you coffee” routine.

        I worked w/ a team that would roll in 20 minutes late and take another 20 minutes (or more) ordering coffee or breakfast snacks, and then about an hour after start time, they’d come to me with their requests on the stuff I’d left on their chairs really close to start time (5 min. before or after).
        So much productive time lost–right at the beginning of the day.

        Someone who is wrapping up at the end might not be interfering with other people’s productivity because they are also finishing up (though at my current job, I am most needed in the last hour of the day as other people finally get busy).

        That would affect my opinion MUCH more than the clock!

        tl;dr — how are their work patterns affecting the productivity in the officer overall, and as they interact with others.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          “right in the middle of most other people’s most productive time.” It’s not my most productive time – I do much better after lunch. It sounds like you work with mostly morning people.
          That team you described was excessive, I expect most managers would object to that! As I understand the letter, OP’s drink-getting employee is only taking 10 minutes or less. He’s probably not a morning person either. Also it sounds like he’s friendly and sociable, offering to get people drinks. IMHO the morale boost of friendliness in the morning is worth 10 minutes. I wish we had more of that here. I’ve cried two mornings in a row because I feel isolated.

    8. Bella*

      I may ask #2 if they have enough work on their plate. He may be bored.
      Also, he may be packing up early to leave so he can also beat the traffic home, since he also comes in early.

      1. Colette*

        Well, he’s not really coming in early if he’s not working. He’s physically there, but you don’t get to leave early because you were in the building doing something other than work.

    9. Fish Girl*

      I agree that the manager should let both of it go. How many times has Alison said that as long as a) they are getting their work done b) at the quality that it’s expected to just let these things go? I’m kinda surprised about Alison’s response about worker #2. Again, are they doing their job well? Then don’t bother them. Are they refusing to pick up the phone at 3:45 because it’s pack up time? Then talk to them about it.

      I worked a job that was strict about start and stop time for no good reason. We felt like we were treated as preschoolers when managers would ding us for being a few minutes late, scold us for having too many bathroom breaks, and get mad if we packed up more than 5 minutes prior to quitting time. I’m of the full-belief that using the restroom one last time, getting my coat together, and grabbing my lunch box from the fridge should be part of work time. Yeah, that probably shouldn’t take 15 entire minutes, but if the work gets done, what’s it matter?

    10. LCL*

      Yes, I don’t quite understand Alison’s and others’ take on this. Both employees are basically doing the same thing, spending a bit of company time doing nonproductive personal things. Which is OK! It helps them be better employees! Humans need these small breaks to be good workers, and for the sake of their health. If anyone is gaming their time, it is employee #1. I bet if OP wanted to actually track down to the minute who wastes more time, it is employee #1. But don’t track them, it won’t make for a good work place.

      Some important work groups have a problem with timeliness and sense of urgency. The employees who show up on time then disappear for 15 minutes to do whatever to prepare for their shift are really disruptive to the whole flow of the morning meeting here. Which is a short meeting, where assignments are reviewed and problems discussed, but it is important. If they are in the kitchen fine tuning their coffee selection, they miss things, or if we are covering something really urgent we have to interrupt them and get them out of the kitchen which is less respectful, or we have to repeat and repeat and repeat the same information. What seems to be the logical solution, just wait 15 minutes, doesn’t work nearly as well because of tasks involving other groups, and the 15 minute wait can drag out into almost 30. We tried it.

      So yeah, get to work on time, find out if the boss or manager needs to talk to you first, then go make your coffee and toast. It’s OK to walk out the door right at quitting time, as long as you aren’t refusing assignments because your stuff is put away.

      1. a1*

        I agree with this, taking small breaks, whether formal or informal does help overall productivity. However, there’s usually a give and take there. Most people doing this are still working 40 or more hours a week. For the 1st example, it sounds like they do leave later sometimes so I think it’s fine. For the 2nd employee, however, that does not seem to be the case. He always stops working 15 minutes early, but never starts early, never stays past 4pm, etc. So, at 15 minutes a day, that’s 1.25 hours a week. Let’s say between vacation/sick time/holidays, he’d work 46 weeks in a year. 1.25*46=57.5 hours a year he’s not working. That’s over 7 days. Even granting all the other normal, during the day, breaks people take for lunch and chatting, etc that’s still more than anyone else. Because I doubt he’s skipping those other informal breaks, too.

        The thing about having greater flexibility when exempt does not mean net net you work less, it’s that it all balances out. Sometimes you leave early, sometimes you stay late. It’s a give and take, not a take and take more.

        1. LCL*

          But the powering down, filing, being on site to put out any fires or whatever he is doing while he is on site is still work. It’s not as useful or productive as his regular time, maybe, but it still counts as work. It’s not any less productive than chilling in the kitchen.

    11. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      OP#3, building on what others are commenting, WHY, exactly, is this so important? I mean really, why? What does this time “not worked” symbolizes to you?

      I’ve had to work with some serious bean-counters in my time, not just bosses, but coworkers who ran to tattle to the boss if I was late or left early. It points to a very us-versus-them mentality, where highly judgmental people like you have already decided that the worker in question isn’t good enough, just not part of the tribe. It also points to a foundational belief that workers in general cannot be trusted, but rather have to prove (and prove and prove and prove) that they’re trustworthy, or good enough. Which is an impossible task, because you’ve already made the decision they’re not good enough, so they’ll never be able to reach the bar of good enough.

      Stop bean-counting. Stop assuming that these adults are necessarily trying to rip you off, slack off, do the bare minimum. Start from a foundation of trust. Look at their actual WORK instead of bullshit details like this. If the WORK suffers, then you address it — but keeping track of their every clock-in and clock-out is authoritarian garbage pursued only by people who don’t actually know how to lead.

      1. Natatat*

        Yes, this is my feeling as well. I’m a brand new manager (>3 months) but my gut reaction was that this situation doesn’t rise to the level of worth caring about, especially if they are otherwise good employees. 5-10 mins “wasted” time is really small amount of time to bothered by. Now, if the wasted time was increasing over time as part of a pattern (increasing to 20 and onwards) then I would see that as an issue.

        1. Stuff*

          Yes, are you also tracking every working minute for everyone else? i.e. if someone stops to make an amazon purchase or checks the daycare cam while at work? People have unproductive moments all day. Just because these are more visible doesn’t make them egregious. As everyone else has pointed out focus on their work and how productive they are, not a minute by minute accounting of how they spend their time.

    12. willow*

      I agree. 8-4 would require a lunch break and a couple of other breaks, probably. Consider the late start or early packing up as one of their breaks, and it makes it easier to see it as not a problem.

    13. Scarletb*

      This situation reminds me of conversations I’ve had with managers about making up time – I’ve been studying alongside work, and there are daytime lectures to attend, which take me out once a week for about 3 hours during term – the responses were always along the lines of “sure, making up the time is fine, but we’re all adults and I have better things to do than monitor your hours, so just be reasonable about it and make sure you’re getting done what you need to do.” A bit here, a bit there, a longer day, a shorter lunch break, a later start… as long as someone isn’t really pushing it, as long as the actual work got done, no one was worrying about minutes.

      Our workplace has also just shifted to hot-desking, and they’ve openly acknowledged that the time spent setting up and packing down at the end of the day will be a small negative re productivity, but that people shouldn’t have to work extra time because their place of work has made this change.

  4. Pam*

    The headline made me hope that this was a current arrest- perhaps the person missed their interview due to the arrest.

    1. restingbutchface*

      Or arrested *during* the interview. I’d care then, OP, otherwise – it’s really the most minor thing I can think of to be arrested for.

      1. Jennifer Juniper*

        Something more minor: being arrested for failure to pay parking tickets, jaywalking, being out after curfew (if one is a minor).

        1. restingbutchface*

          Wow – two of those don’t exist in my country so, thank you for the education! We don’t have curfews or jaywalking fines. Failure to pay parking tickets, I guess… but that tells me mistakes over a long period (bad driving & not paying the fines) as opposed to one drunken foolish mistake.

      2. Jennifer*

        That happened to someone here! She just wanted to work at Six Flags for goodness sakes. They ran a background check and found a warrant for her arrest for an unpaid traffic ticket in a different county. They called her back in pretending to need a second interview and the police were waiting. Like some kind of sting operation. It was ridiculous.

          1. Jennifer*

            Yes! It was so ridiculous and I felt really bad for her. I can understand being a college kid and forgetting to pay a traffic ticket, or not being able to afford to pay it. I’m glad someone was able to post bail for her.

    2. Coverage Associate*

      When I was in law school, the school newspaper reported that an upperclassman got arrested or cited for public urination the night after an interview, while he was still in the city for the interview with the travel expenses paid by the firm. Not only did the firm not pull his offer, they gave him free representation to fight the charge.

  5. HA2*

    #1 – depends on context, but in general I’d agree with the “ignore it for now” advice.

    Sure, getting arrested for urinating in public shows pretty bad judgement. But if this was in college-ish, well, lots of people have done dumb things in college or when they were young.

    To be precise – this was bad judgement, but it is not the kind of bad judgement that is immediately disqualifying from work. It doesn’t say anything about the person’s ethics (like if they were arrested for stealing something) or about their ability to work with other people (if they’d made the news for their racism or sexism or something).

    Obviously, you can keep it in mind as a warning sign and, if in the interview process, you see other signs that this person is impulsive and doesn’t think their decisions through then, well, that evidence will add up. But it’s not a reason to discard someone out of hand.

    #3 – I’d say it depends on two things.

    First, are these people paid by hour, or on salary? If they’re clocking in/out then yes, it’s reasonable to expect them to clock in/out at the time they’re actually starting/ending work. But if they’re on salary and hours aren’t actually being counted anywhere, then you probably shouldn’t need to be counting the minutes they’re on-the-job vs not.

    Second, look at these people’s output overall. They are both working within 15 minutes of the full time you expect – heck, the first guy’s time might add up to more or less than the full time, depending on how “stays an extra 5 minutes” compares to “makes a drink” – and I *really* doubt their productivity is going to go noticeably up if you make them stay that extra 15 minutes. (Especially the last 15 minutes of the day for a guy who gets up early to beat the traffic – good chance he’s just beat by that time anyway, and wouldn’t be too productive either way.) If they’re both doing good work and getting the job done, don’t count minutes. If they’re not, then address the time issues as part of that conversation.

    1. Jenn Jenn*

      I really like your view on this to consider the extra productivity of that few minutes. Even though those few minutes do add up, I doubt their overall productivity would increase.

      Personally, I would let it go.

      1. SenatorMeathooks*

        Personally, I was surprised that it could potentially be a problem in management’s eyes to make a cup of coffee before settling down to work. I’m not dismissing it, it’s the OP’s prerogative, of course, but it may not be worth the effort of addressing if work’s not otherwise being negatively impacted.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It made me wonder if this is a BEC scenario for OP. Neither employee’s behavior would bother me, although perhaps the person who stops working 15 minutes early could create issues. But this seems like such a small amount of time spent on normal activities that it’s hard for me to understand what about the scenario is stoking OP’s irritation.

              1. Another worker bee*

                B**** eating crackers….which may not be helpful. It’s basically when you don’t like someone and you are annoyed by them for doing something not unreasonable, but feels unreasonable to you because your view of them is colored.

              2. Coyote Tango*

                It’s a site-specific slang term for “Bitch Eating Crackers”. When someone starts to annoy you, everything they do quickly becomes a problem, even if it’s relatively innocuous. Usually culminating in you fuming at your desk going “Look at that bitch over there, just eating crackers!”

          1. RVA Cat*

            Could be, or just a hall-monitor vibe towards everybody. We’ve seen so many letters from employees about bosses (or worse, peers) who watch folks by the minute like this and it kills morale.

            I tend to get coffee while my computer boots up in the morning, and spending a few minutes socializing helps us feel like people instead of faceless cogs in a machine.

          2. bebemochi*

            I’m sorry, what does BEC mean in this context? All I’m getting from the internet is Bacon, Egg, and Cheese lol

            1. Czhorat*

              B*tch eating crackers.

              It’s from a meme about disliking someone to the point that their most mundane actions irk you for no rational cause.,

          3. AnonAMouse*

            Yup. It seems a bit micromanagey to say that worker 1 is taking too long to make his tea/coffee unless he’s taking 20+ minutes. As for worker 2, do you know as a manager if he is taking shorter lunch breaks/forgoing coffee breaks? For example, my workplace has 30 min per day for coffee breaks and 30 for lunch. I would let it go, OP.

          4. thathat*

            I’m BEC to my super, and yeah, I get this feeling a *lot* over just a few minutes here or there.

            I try to be timely, and I stay later than the rest of my department (who all leave ~10 early), but I’m the one who gets singled out. It’s not a great feeling. Pretty hostile.

          5. TootsNYC*

            perhaps the person who stops working 15 minutes early could create issues.
            The person who doesn’t get going on work for 15 minutes would also create issues. I’ve had that happen!

        2. MK*

          I assume it’s not a case of him grabbing a coffee, but asking people what they want, making tea and coffee and distributing them around with chit chat. If it’s taking 10 minutes, let it go, if it’s more like half an hour, say something.

          1. SenatorMeathooks*

            I think that if it’s taking too much time, sure. And when I say it’s not something that would bother me, I assume a bit more than I know in this particular situation. If the employees getting extra drinks for a few people and it takes a total of 10 minutes, and improve office morale and camaraderie then I say go for it. I would keep an eye on the behavior to make sure the time scope of these activities don’t creep up. But even then ( and once again completely acknowledging that I don’t know the full story) I probably wouldn’t care if it’s starting to affect the quality of work output of himself and or others.

        3. Liza*

          Ditto. In my office, it’s not uncommon for a member of staff to take the time make everyone else a cup of tea at any time throughout the day. And this happens a few times because we drink a lot of tea. It’s not considered skiving, just a normal part of office life, and it’s being helpful to the team. The exception would be if someone was visibly dawdling in the kitchen, checking their phone long after the kettle had boiled, etc.

          There is a lot of evidence out there that suggests that the expectation that employees be 100% productive for every hour they are at work is wildly unrealistic. Our brains just don’t/can’t function that way. As long as things that need to be done are getting done, I can’t see the harm in allowing people the time to ease in and out of the working day at their own pace.

          I can’t speak for every office, but in my experience, the working day is littered with “microbreaks” – cigarettes, toilet trips, tea refills, or even just zoning out in front of the computer because your brain has stopped processing what’s in front of you and you need two minutes to reset. I’m very fortunate in that I work in an environment where employee wellbeing is taken very seriously, and people recognising and looking after their own mental health needs is explicitly encouraged (we are a mental health charity). This can mean taking regular 5 minutes breaks to make tea and rest your eyes if you have been at a computer all morning, doing a short seated yoga routine to ease your back, or just taking ten in the quiet/prayer room after a particularly stressful period. We also all stop work half an hour before the end of the day to clean and tidy the office as a team (we don’t have cleaners, we do it ourselves), and if we get that done a few minutes early then we go home. The process of starting up/winding down is very much a part of our working day. The letter writer’s office may be different, so I can see it being a problem if one person is taking time out of the day to pack up when nobody else is, but for the sake of fifteen minutes… I kind of feel it might seem like “nickel and diming” to use Alison’s phrase. If there are tasks being left undone, however, that might be an indication that the employee perhaps needs to move up a gear and use that time for other things.

          1. Birch*

            Thank you! I’m so tired of hearing about office jobs not based on needing coverage being unnecessarily strict about every last minute. Human brains really don’t focus at 100% for very long, and trying to force it doesn’t work either. You need to change up the environment, move, stretch, get blood flowing, get different stimuli to be properly productive. If these employees are more productive taking breaks, let them. More employers should pay attention to productivity rather than counting minutes of butts in seats since productivity is your desired outcome anyway.

            1. AnonAMouse*

              Totally! A year ago there was a great article either in HBR or Forbes that details the difference btw working hard and working smart. The article said that working hard is a bit of an outdated notion that your workers need to prove to you how productive they are by spending their time in front of you, almost to prove a point. For me personally, that notion seems pretty paternalistic and I’d rather work smart—meaning I will finish everything assigned to me in a polished quality and beyond and that’s how I quantify my productivity. I recognize there are jobs out there the very essence of which is face time for which this dichotomy wouldn’t really be applicable. But for office jobs, I think the approach of butts in seats is very much “working hard” but not necessarily “working smart”. But what do I know, I’m just a millennial.

              1. catwoman2965*

                I kind of follow this, in that at times, I’ve had to ask my boss, do you want it DONE, or do you want it DONE RIGHT? usually when he’s trying to get me to perhaps cut corners or just spot check certain things that really need to be fully checked. Or, as he frequently does, tries to tell me HOW to do something, when maybe my way of doing it isn’t the same as his, even though the end result is the same.

          2. whingedrinking*

            This is one of the things that always drives me crazy about people who say, “I don’t understand why teachers complain about being underpaid, I could teach, it’s not that hard, etc.” When you’re working, you have to be “on” constantly – you don’t have absolute freedom in terms of when you’re going to do something as basic as go to the bathroom or get a drink of water. If you’re having a low-energy day, you can’t just half-ass it on the grounds that you’ll make it up later when you’re feeling better. (See also: customer service positions and performing artists.)

        4. Falling Diphthong*

          I thought Alison had an excellent point as to whether this would be a problem and he started work at 8, then made himself and others a drink about 8:30.

        5. Mockingdragon*

          The offices I worked at were both like this (I’m only in my 20s so…). We were explicitly told that if we want to make coffee or toast or whatever to take to our desks, it was supposed to be before clocking in because it wasn’t acceptable to take that time on the clock. Mostly that was a power move from upper management and our own supervisors ran the gamut from scolding anyone caught doing it to breaking the rule with us.

        6. Someone Else*

          To me it read like maybe this person tends to come in between 8:05-8:10, daily, then makes coffee for several people, and then distributes the coffees, so maybe isn’t getting to their desk until 8:20-8:30, daily. (I’m guessing on the timing based on the degree to which it bugs OP) If it’s something like that, I think it’s kind of reasonable to be irked.
          To me “nickel and diming” employees about time suggests sometimes they show up at 7:58, sometimes 8:03, or maybe once in a blue moon 8:10. Making a big deal out of that is pointless and doesn’t treat the employee like an adult. But if this person were hired to work starting at 8 daily, no indication of flexible schedule, and they never arrive until after 8 by more than 5 minutes, and have a first-thing kitchen routine that takes more than 5 minutes, that means this person is literally never on time. That kind of pattern would probably prompt me to remind them we hired them for an 8am start. But it really does depend on how many minutes we’re talking about, and if it really is every day.
          I do understand that maybe there’s a public transit factor where the choice is between arriving super early at maybe 7:35 vs 8:05, and normally I’d say sure go for that latter, but if one had an extensive kitchen routine making coffee for several coworkers and then bringing it to them (as opposed to the much shorter time it takes to grab oneself a cup and then get started), I think I’d probably expect that person to either come earlier and deal with the coffee stuff before work, or let the others do their own coffee thing.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I really don’t find it all that strange to have employees doing things like making a drink for others in the office, etc unless it’s a ridiculous time suck. Same with being strict about those last 15 minutes.

        A client once wanted us to stay an extra 20 minutes every day because of a misunderstanding about break times. But we refused, because it would hardly add any extra productivity, especially because after a long day of physical labour we would naturally slow down at the end of the day. And it would have made our work journeys unmanageable.

        I’d examine what the objections really are before I got too strict. Maybe they need to be a bit more conscientious about working their actual hours, but a working environment where every minute is being counted is generally pretty unpleasant to work in and it can be counterproductive if your employees start to leave for a more relaxed environment.

        1. catwoman2965*

          “but a working environment where every minute is being counted is generally pretty unpleasant to work in and it can be counterproductive if your employees start to leave for a more relaxed environment.”

          my very first job out of college, circa. 1988 was for a small family owned company who micromanaged the employees to DEATH. you could choose your hours, 8-4 or 9-5, as this was pretty much before “flex time” came into being for many companies. I chose 8-4.

          Each and every day, over the PA system, and i kid you not, at 8 and 9, there would be an announcement “it is now 8 o’clock” and if you were not at your desk, you were late. And at the end of the day, everyone would finish up, and sit, at their desk, not being able to leave, awaiting the “dismissal” announcement of “it is now 4 o’clock” At which point there would be a mass exodus out of the building!

          I lasted there 6 months and had I had any more experience in the working world, i probably would have left sooner.

  6. Arya Parya*

    #2, My predecessor was a very helpful person. He would go out of his way to be helpful. I try to be helpful too, but sometimes prioritize things differently, so the person asking for help has to wait a few hours. I’ve heard some people in the company see me as less helpful or not helpful because of this.

    I’ve checked with my manager several times and he agrees I’m prioritizing correctly and we are currently working on communicating to the company what they can and cannot expect from us.

    I like helping people, I want to be seen as helpful. I just can’t drop everything every time someone has a question and I think that’s reasonable. But because my predecessor did, the expectations are that I will. So I really wish my predecessor had put up some reasonable boundaries.

    1. valentine*

      OP2: You’re sacrificing your work to do someone else’s most of the time. That’s going to cost you. I understand feeling like you have to jump to help, but you don’t. Just because you can do the tasks and do them faster and better than the assigned person doesn’t mean you should, anymore than having a spacious home means you need to share it with people. If the messages are general, you can not respond or delay responding and see what happens. I have found that delaying can make it someone else’s time to shine. If they’re addressed to you, you can redirect or give a small window of availability.

      If it makes sense, you can share best practices with the assigned person. But how do they feel about you being known and favored for doing their work?

      1. Colette*

        Yes, I think the OP would be better served by directing everyone to the person on call and then making herself available to help the person on call – that way everyone gets good service, and her colleagues get better at helping as well.

        1. F as in Frank*

          This is what I came here to say. I would also suggest a more visible way for everyone to know who the on call person is. Mentioning this to your manager framed it as an improved process where the on call person and is getting professional development might be good for your reputation.

    2. Jen S. 2.0*

      You should not feel bad or guilty for drawing a reasonable boundary, or focusing on your own tasks, at work. Feeling bad / guilty for declining a request is not automatically a problem.

      Moreover, feeling bad / guilty / unhelpful is seldom the correct measuring stick at work. It’s usually “accomplishing your tasks on time and budget, and then helping others within reason.” LW2 is way beyond “within reason.”

      Whether someone else will take 8 minutes longer or even struggle a bit — and note that LW2 lumped those together as if they are the same thing, which they decidedly are not — is also not an emergency. If no one else ever does the task, no one else will ever learn to do the task.

      1. Reba*

        Not sure if you are addressing OP2 or Arya Parya with your comment, Jen S. 2.0, but I think Arya Parya is already in the right emotional frame — she doesn’t feel bad, she is noting that although her stance is reasonable, it is nevertheless having an impact on how she is perceived. I agree that OP2 needs to think about the value of her own time/her own tasks, not just value to other people and the good feelings she gets from being helpful. The difference between being a helpful person and being a people pleaser can be a fine line.

        Arya Parya also raises a key point for OP2 to consider: how she is going to communicate about this change in her practice, because it will definitely be noticed given how much contact she has with people around the company. She will want to preserve those relationships by resetting expectations, since she’ll now be saying “no” often where she used to always say “yes.” Good luck OP2!

        1. Jen S. 2.0*

          I was addressing OP2.

          She writes, “…I kind of feel guilty redirecting requests to someone I know is going to struggle with them. … Should I feel bad for redirecting people to the on-call person…”

          I was responding to her asking whether she should feel bad or guilty: which, no.

    3. Washi*

      I totally agree that this kind of thing can set a precedent, both for the next person in the role but also for the current situation. I think being immediately available for all assistance can lead to a kind of learned helplessness for certain people. I have some coworkers who would rather spend 5 minutes of my time so I can help them instead of 15 minutes of their own time working it out on their own and therefore learning how to do it for next time. For those people, if I say that I can help, but only in a few hours or the next day, they magically manage to solve these problems without my supposedly necessary intervention.

      Basically, OP, if you feel bad about this, consider that not only are you adhering to your company’s plan on how to handle these things, but you’re also encouraging people to be more independent in problem-solving for themselves and not just going to you every time they are the tiniest bit stuck.

    4. Anne of Green Gables*

      #2, I am curious if there is a way that who is the current on-call person in your department can be more widely known? You say there is someone but people outside your department have to ask someone who it is, and that seems like it could also be a part of the problem. It is an element that you could add to Allison’t excellent script. “I can’t help with that today, but the teapot spout department always has someone on call. It’s Jane today; you can always find that information on the Steeped Beverages Tab of the Employee Intranet.”

      1. TootsNYC*

        also, don’t ignore a chat request for help. Do, however, REDIRECT them.
        “Sorry, deep in another task and can’t stop. Jane is on call for us; pls contact her.”

    5. LKW*

      I think the key word here is Prioritization.

      I’ve been in your shoes, what I would do is to outline to the requestor “Well, I could do this for you now, but I need you to check with VERY IMPORTANT PERSON that she agrees that your request comes before hers. If she says OK, then I’d be happy to take care of it right now.” 100% of the time, they were willing to wait.

      When multiple people would make such requests – I would respond to the group “OK, all of you have made requests, you tell me whose request comes first and let me know what’s most important.” Often things that were super important a moment ago, were suddenly less important when they saw the list of people who needed help.

      In short, help people understand what’s on your plate. If they want to “cut the line” they have to ask all the people already waiting, not you.

      1. Arya Parya*

        Funny you should say this. I have actually tried this with the worst offender. Actually I do this with most everyone, I just explain there is something more important on my plate and when I expect to get to their thing and mostly this goes over fine. The worst offender however doesn’t accept this.

        I’ve even tried the bigger picture approach. I explained I can’t always drop everything, please understand this and, when you can, give me a bigger head’s up. This did not go over well. I should understand she can’t keep track of everything all the time and stuff will get to me last minute.

        Luckily my manager has the same issues with her, so we are trying to fix this (working) relationship and he always has my back when it comes to her.

    6. Emmie*

      I hope OP considers refocusing her support. Direct people to the on-call resource, and offer to help the on-call person navigate these issues when that person is stuck. I imagine OP gets some value from being helpful, the go-to person, and the local subject matter expert. Yet, this can be a good opportunity for the OP to teach other people those skills, improve the organization, develop other talent, and build her subject matter expertise in other areas. That growth will be helpful to her career.

      1. LilyP*

        Yeah, I think for stuff the on-call person doesn’t know how to do, invest a little time walking through stuff with them and training them. The stuff they can figure out but are slower at, just trust that the long-term value of cross-training, letting them gain competency, and spreading the workload is actually much more important than the short-term “save 10 minutes” benefit.

        You can even frame it like that to people asking you for help — “We’re trying to give everyone on the team more practice handling these requests, so you should talk to Jane.” And make sure your on-call colleagues know they can ask you questions or for training if they need it!

  7. Elizabeth*

    I’ve peed in an awful lot of parks in my town. (They’re like forests, not children’s playgrounds.) It would never cross my mind that this would be relevant to my suitability for my job in any way.

    1. Marlene*

      Just parks, not hiking trails where you’re walking for hours with no bathroom in sight? Why are you peeing in parks?

      1. whingedrinking*

        I used to live right next to a regional park that’s over 800 hectares in size. I don’t recall ever peeing in it myself, but I’m very confident that lots of people have. You don’t have to go far off the path to be completely invisible to anyone on it, especially at night – the greater risk is encountering a skunk.

      2. TechWorker*

        So whilst I wouldn’t choose to pee in a park if I had a choice I’m confused why you think because you’re in a town there’s always a bathroom easily available. In many cases depending on time of day there just isn’t. And if the park is big enough/foresty enough that no-one can see you, no judgement from me :p

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Indeed the times I have peed in public places have been in towns where no bathrooms were open. This can be a problem after, say, the pubs have closed and you are walking home. I don’t know why men aim at walls (maybe someone can enlighten me?) but many large parks and open spaces I’ve been in don’t have any facilities but plenty of secluded woodland.

          1. Darury*

            Speaking for myself, the reason for aiming for a wall is it gives you a modicum of privacy since you’re only exposed on the left and right sides versus a full frontal view.

            1. a1*

              Sure, face the building, but do you have to pee on the building? why not the ground? It’s going to drip down there anyway. I think that’s what they were saying – “aiming for the building” as in using it as a target.

              1. I know too much about peeing now.*

                it splashes a lot less if you’re peeing on a wall at an angle like a peeing gentleman does. If you pee right on the ground it’ll splash

        2. AnotherAlison*

          In my area, there are several big nature-type parks, and paved running trails that span the whole city through both more public green spaces and woodsy areas. There are public restrooms at regular intervals, but they close these and lock them in the winter. Which is somewhat enraging, because it just happens one day–you don’t know it the first time until you jog off the trail to the toilet and find it locked.

          My son meets for XC practice at one of those parks, and I noticed they put in a temporary port-a-potty when they closed the real bathroom, but it’s not next to the restroom or anything logical like that. It’s on a median in the parking lot, which you would not easily see from the trail.

        3. Hold My Cosmo*

          I was on a business trip to NYC in December and I almost burst before I was able to find a restroom. We were heading to a job site near the shipyards, and no restaurants, hotels, or businesses would allow members of the public to use the bathroom, even if they bought something. If I had to go back, I’d legit consider wearing Depends.

          1. catwoman2965*

            Depending on where you are, look for dept. stores. When i was interviewing in NYC, i scouted out all the big ones and knew where all the ladies rooms were in each! They’re so busy, and crowded, no one cares or knows if you bought anything, or just ran in to use the facilities.

          2. TootsNYC*

            my husband, who grew up in NYC and reads lots of newspapers, etc. (so, is generally well-informed), once told me that hotels are required to allow the public to use a bathroom. I’ve looked for that law but haven’t been able to find it.

          3. TootsNYC*

            Oh–and I used to have a book that gave all the places you could pee in NYC. Charmin had an app out for that, but I don’t know if it still exists.

            And of course, that doesn’t help if the info it gives is, “nobody around here will let you use their toilet.”

      3. Asenath*

        It sounds like the kind of park that doesn’t have public toilets at regular intervals, ie “like forests”. I, too, have peed behind bushes when I can find them and (when desperate) when I couldn’t. Admittedly, doing it where you can be seen and arrested is not good judgement (unless you’re so desperate good judgement goes out the window), but a mere arrest for such an offense years ago does not, in my view, mean a thing for a job offer today. I’m astonished to discover that it’s a sex crime in at least one part of the world, according to one of the commenters. Needing to pee isn’t the same thing as exhibitionism.

      4. twig*

        Not all parks have restrooms. (most of those where I grew up in the 80s & 90s didn’t — some of them do now)

        Also, some parks that do have restrooms only unlock them when there is an event in that park.

    2. It's a fish, Al*

      Generally speaking, it’s fairly recognized by those who work with people who are homeless that public urination is just a way of hassling people and getting them to move. How many public washrooms do you see in your average North American city? Where are you supposed to pee, if not in public?

      I’ve been unfortunate enough to need to duck behind a bush once or twice in a residential neighborhood (bus was running late, no washrooms anywhere close). It was embarrassing and desperate. I wouldn’t look down in anyone for having been in a similar situation.

      1. Elizabeth*

        Thank you for adding this perspective. It’s incredible that we provide no public bathrooms, have a large unhoused population, and then make it a crime to pee. It feels like just adding more humiliation to the myriad humiliations of homelessness.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          One of the reasons people put restrictions on public restrooms is, many people use them for other than their intended purpose. Addicts will go in there to shoot up, people have sex in there, etc. Many years ago a guard at my local Kmart told me he had gone to the restroom just before closing and found the body of an addict who had overdosed.
          The restrictions aren’t for meanness, they’re for managing the restrooms. I imagine if the park restrooms were open in winter, homeless people would start trying to live in there, which would lead to other problems…

          1. Michaela Westen*

            Also heat would have to be added to the park restrooms to keep the pipes from freezing, which is $$…

    3. Elemeno P.*

      On the evening where my partner and I went for a 40 minute secluded walk after dinner and found halfway in that we’d had too much water, I was very envious of his ability to make use of a secluded bush while I had an uncomfortable 20 minute waddle to the nearest restroom.

      1. Asenath*

        I grew up in a rural area, and females don’t hesitate to make use of a secluded bush. Sometimes, a not-so-secluded bush or rock was used, and if the area was barren enough to be deprived of suitable bushes and also along a road, going on the other side of the car while everyone else tactfully averted their gaze was also OK. Even today, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose a bush over a 20 minute walk to a restroom.

        1. SarahTheEntwife*

          Long skirts are so useful for this. So long as you’re careful not to splash, you can be “looking at an interesting bit of lichen” and it’s much less obvious what you’re actually doing. I generally only do this when camping and there’s more of a cultural understanding that going behind a tree is a thing, but if you have to go, you have to go.

    4. MissGirl*

      I grew up in a rural area and peeing in public is really common. I was at work one day and looked out the window to see a dad and two boys peeing behind a gas station oblivious to my presence.

      Also it’s really common in Europe even in the big cities. Two Amazing Race contestants urinated behind a building and it caused a big uproar here but people who had been to that city were like meh, everyone does it.

      I am surprised there was an arrest versus just a citation, which makes me wonder if there’s more to the story. Perhaps he was drunk and a bit belligerent. Either way it was years ago. I’d still interview him.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Samesies.

      But to be honest if someone wants to cast shame and use it against me for employment, I don’t think we would ever be a good fit together.

  8. Lentronic*

    OP#1, how certain are you that it’s the same person? I’ve actually had a couple colleagues who have names that turn up someone with a criminal record as the first result on a Google search for their name. Neither are my colleagues. Sadly both are underrepresented minorities in our particular field, and it’s yet another thing they both have to deal with when job searching. So be very careful when assuming it’s the same person.

    1. Asenath*

      I have a friend with a name that’s quite common here, and since his work involves vulnerable people he has to go through the usual police checks periodically. It always takes extra long because there’s another local with the same name and about the same age who does have a relevant conviction, and naturally the police double and triple check to see that it’s not the same man fudging the details of his identity. So, yes, it is possible for someone whose conviction was reported in the local media to have the same name (and even approximate description, like age) as a totally innocent person. I wouldn’t go by the media reports alone.

      1. ClumsyCharisma*

        Several years ago I volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters. My background check (using name only) showed a drug conviction. It obviously wasn’t me but they had to do a deeper check to be sure. So I completely agree, name search alone isn’t enough to know for sure it’s the same person.
        And I agree, the arrest isn’t for something that should impact his/her ability to do the job.

      2. Narvo Flieboppen*

        Yup. I had a coworker who initially was refused a professional license because there was a convicted felon in town. With the same name, including middle initial, but completely unrelated. And when I say town, I mean a rural town with fewer than 2,000 residents. Obviously, the people in town generally knew who was who, but the state licensing board’s background check did not.

    2. Ananas Bananes*

      Years ago, I worked at an accounting firm where my job included doing a few small payrolls. I saw the (fairly unusual) name of one of the payroll workers in the newspaper; he had been arrested for murder! I passed that info on to my supervisor. Turns out those names were not so unusual in this ethnic group; there were, indeed, two of them.

    3. CoveredInBees*

      Yup. Before I was married, I had a very uncommon name. There was someone who looked to be about 5 years younger than me who seemed to make questionable choices about what she put on social media (both nearly-nude pics and saying things that would reflect badly on someone as a professional in a conservative field). Luckily, she lived in another state where I’ve never been and my resume would make clear I don’t live there.

      I changed my name when I got married and now there’s no one with my name since my first name is common with one ethnicity and my last name with another. Both apply to me, but not a common enough combination.

  9. SenatorMeathooks*

    Re: Pissing in public: if it was several years ago and the candidate’s got nothing other than a speeding ticket or whatever I’d say it’s ancient history that doesn’t even need to be considered relevant. And honestly an arrest is meaningless on its own- I’ve been arrested a few times, technically, so I would be hard-pressed to hold one arrest for what appears to be a minor alleged infraction against someone else. I’m sure this person would really like to put it behind them, and I’m sure you want a qualified employee.

    1. Lord Gouldian Finch*

      I’d say it’s only relevant if (1) you are hiring this person to be your PR front and/or possible family-friendly mascot or (2) you are running a caucus and selecting this person to be your party’s candidate. And even then I’d say it moves to the “ask this person about the topic” category and not the “do not hire” category.

      1. SenatorMeathooks*

        I mean sure, if it’s a very intense public-facing position that could be something to consider. But if the OP is that worried then they need to run a proper background check, and predicate whatever concerns they might have based on that. Personally, unless it’s potential PR problem I don’t even think she should ask.

    2. KR*

      Honestly this. I’ve been arrested & charged. Never convicted. Didn’t show up on background checks even before I formally got the arrest and charge taken off my criminal record. For a while the paper that published the police report had the article with the arrest up but it was recently taken down. Innocent until proven guilty

    3. TootsNYC*

      “ancient history”

      I’m wondering–what is the legal statute of limitations on this crime?

      Our personal judgments of course aren’t bound by legal statutes, but if the People of the State of New York (or wherever) wouldn’t bother prosecuting someone for it after X time, then I think that’s an indicator that the people of the state of New York also wouldn’t really think it was important after X time.

        1. Elsajeni*

          It sounds like the OP doesn’t actually know whether the candidate was convicted — they haven’t run a detailed background check, they’ve just done a google search and found the arrest mentioned in the police blotter or something like that. Whether he was convicted or not, I wouldn’t expect the details of J. Random Dude’s misdemeanor court case to make the news. I don’t think this sounds like a big deal and I wouldn’t eliminate the candidate from consideration over it even if he was convicted! But I think drawing any conclusions like “well he wasn’t even CONVICTED” is premature with the information they (and we) have.

  10. Drago Cucina*

    Maybe it’s living countries where public urination was traditionally no big deal, but I wouldn’t stress about an arrest years in the past. Part of standard US Army orientation in various European countries was bathroom etiquette and not being shocked at open pissoirs. Alleyways, trees in parks, etc., were all fair game. Not the same as publicly exposing oneself for personal kicks.

    1. anon*

      Yeah, you pretty much can’t ski in the French Alps without seeing some guy making yellow snow right on the trail.

      I genuinely can’t understand how this arrest for peeing and being disorderly could be such a black mark. Having known what students in my area get up to (and what I got up to as a student) I can imagine that now 90% of them are unemployable.

      1. Jennifer Juniper*

        It’s the optics. If you ever do something objectionable and you get caught, you are screwed for life. The media and internet are all-seeing and unforgiving.

        1. Inca*

          We should push back on this optics-argument a bit more I think because it’s harming society, leaving many people cast out at will (the will of a police officer for one) and without reasonable ways to progress in life, do better, not make the same mistakes again.
          So as far as I’m concerned we shouldn’t even just pretend we don’t see those issues, but I would even hope that any employer will actively speak out with “no, of course we don’t exclude people for one unimportant misdemeanor years ago, that’s simply not the way we want to act.”
          (Not to this possible hire, it has no place in the conversation unless he brought it up himself. But if ever called out on that issue by outsiders, I hope they actively defend their hire and make clear that they are not willing to exclude people on minor grounds at all.)

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        It shouldn’t be a black mark, but some people are really, really uptight.

        If the candidate is male, it wouldn’t even register as a blip on my radar. Dudes can and will pee anywhere. If the candidate is female, I would be impressed because I’m the kind of klutzy mess who would pee on myself or fall over or something.

        1. The Original K.*

          I agree. I wouldn’t even think about it, especially if the candidate is male. I don’t think I know a man who hasn’t urinated outside at some point.

        2. Environmental Compliance*

          Fun fact: they do make little doohickey things for females to pee standing up in. It’s like a mini urinal thingie with a tube that directs the pee out away from you. I’m forgetting what brand makes them. I 100% almost purchased one when I was doing field research and never had a bathroom anywhere by me.

          1. Ktelzbeth*

            These are great! There are a bunch of different styles and brands. Look on Amazon for female urination device. You may want to practice in the shower first, but they do work.

    2. J'mec*

      A number of years ago I saw some guy pissing on a fence in the center of Moscow, Russia. A Russian policeman came up and arrested him.

    3. hbc*

      I lived in the Netherlands for a while, and was walking home with my kids at about 4pm, and there was some guy just pissing outside my apartment building with his two kids in tow. Situationally speaking, I probably came off worse given that I was doing a triple take as I tried to figure out what was going on, and I must have looked like a leering pervert.

      This was before I had experienced the open urinal situation during outdoor events, so I wasn’t prepared.

    4. Karen from Finance*

      The other day I saw a woman having her kid pee on a tree in the middle of the park. I thought it was a bit wrong because they were right by the path for all to see, but other than that I get it. Pee happens.

  11. CastIrony*

    On OP#5

    Does this mean that I can bring a folder with paper to take notes on in a job interview? I was told that that was wrong by my nearest Job Service. What would interviewers think if I was taking notes in a job interview?

    1. Bowserkitty*

      That’s interesting. I almost always brought some sort of pen and paper to interviews. Much like with the questions, it would help me remember other key points of the interview. I wonder now like you…

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s fine to take a few notes. You shouldn’t be taking a ton because you want to be present and engaged in the conversation, making eye contact, etc. and you shouldn’t need to write down *that* much. But jotting down a few key details is absolutely fine.

    3. Red 5*

      I’ve actually always had a small notebook and pen with me (plus a folder with extra copies of my resume just in case, and sample work if they’d requested it so that if they referenced the sample piece I could pull it out if necessary for my own reference).

      I also make sure that I think about any questions I might have and jot those down on the notepad before I even go in. Plus (if they’ve given it to me) a quick note of who I’ll be meeting, when my appointment time is, stuff like that. Mostly because I have ADHD and the weirdest things just leave my brain right before I need them and this way I always have a pocket reference to help.

      With taking notes during the interview, I actually don’t do that too much, but I like having the option. Mostly I use it for something like if they are talking about the position and I think of something I want to ask, I don’t interrupt but jot down a note to remind myself to ask when it’s appropriate. It depends on the style of the person doing the interviewing how much it ends up being necessary. My current job, the interview was just as much of them telling me about the job and the company as it was asking me questions, so I had a lot more to write. Other interviews they expect you to do all the talking, so there’s not much to write.

      1. Drax*

        I do exactly this, except I use a folio and keep an extra two copies of my resume in it as well. I use a personal short hand for a lot of notes, so at times nonsense couple of words, but enough to jog my memory. When I leave I usually drive a block or two away and elaborate the notes so I can remember what it was for.

        I also just check off my questions as they get answered through the interview, so i know at the end when 99% of the time they ask “do you have any questions for us” I know exactly what I am missing to get the picture I am looking for.

    4. Four lights*

      I usually bring a nice looking portfolio with a pad and pen inside, extra copies of my resume, a sheet with my references, and a list of questions I might want to ask. During one interview my interviewer was impressed I had a list of questions and was so prepared. I usually take notes if they starting talking about practical matters, like work hours or benefits.

  12. senior jobseeker*

    What to do with references if they have retired – all my former bosses and grandbosses have except the one who continues up to 78 years (and is not in full forces)?
    I feel very unprofessional to give private contacts. And I do not even have all their private phones to call – in any case I need their explicit permission to write their names. I could find them by doing research, but a retired person may want to detach completely from work life.
    Lately I have been entrepreneur. Is it correct to give clients as references? Some contracts are confidential, some not.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Many people continue giving references after they’ve retired and are happy to do it. It’s not unprofessional to give that contact info as long as you have their permission.

      Clients aren’t always useful references; it depends on the context. But in a situation where it makes sense, sure.

    2. Val Zephyr*

      I don’t think its unprofessional to give private contact information for your references. There have been several time that I have had to give my references’ personal email addresses and cell phone numbers to employers to do the reference check. I’ve never had an employer complain about it. I think employers understand that sometimes references are no longer working, don’t want to use their work email address for something not related to their work, or are self-employed.

    3. WellRed*

      You should be checking in with your references ahead of time, anyhow, to be sure they are still willing and that you have the correct contact info, which may be their personal cell and email.

    4. TootsNYC*

      you should always, always ask people if you can use them as a reference.

      Also, it’s very disrespectful to decide in advance what people think. So, if you think they would have served as a reference for you before they retired, then you ask them after they’ve retired. This is not an unreasonable request, and they can say no–they’re presumably strong enough personalities that they can. (Ditto, you don’t decide someone can’t travel for your wedding–you invite them if you would want them there.)

      And that solves all your problems w/ retired references. If they have agreed to serve as a reference, you ask them what contact method they’d prefer! In fact, you should do so for references who are currently employed somewhere.

  13. Anono-me*

    #3
    I’m not sure what you mean when you say “… starts packing up about 3:45 and is out the door around 3:58 without fail.”

    What is taking Employee #2 15 minutes? Even needing polar vortex gear, my end of day personal pack up and bundle up is 5 minutes at most. If it is putting away her tools, any shared files she was using that day etc., she IS still working.

    Also, is it the leaving 2 minutes early that is really bothering you or is it the leaving 2 minutes early, but being a super stickler about waiting until exactly 8:00 on the nose to start each day? Because the strict start at 8:00 on the nose, but leaving 2 minutes early all the time would annoy me. However, if employee #2 is otherwise a good employee, if possible, maybe ask she wants to start at 7:55 and end at 3:55, if it will make her life easier? And end your annoyance. (Maybe she has a bus to catch or an elevator creep to avoid. )

    1. JM60*

      Maybe the employee is wrapping up work activities, turning machines off, etc. If that’s the case, then I think Alison’s characterization of this as “ending his work day 15 minutes early every day” is off. Courts have generally held that activities like turning on/off a slow work computer is work, and that time that needs to be paid for hourly employees. On the other hand, if the employee is just trying to buy time before the end time is reached by very slowly preparing themselves to go home, then I would probably agree with her.

    2. min*

      The team lead in my department packs up his laptop and cleans off his desk at 3:45 every afternoon without fail. This takes him less than 5 minutes. He then sits and stares into space for 10+ minutes before leaving at exactly 4:00pm.

      What makes this even more infuriating is that he gives a coworker a hard time if she leaves a minute or two early. At least she works until she leaves!

    3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I technically work until 4:30 but we generally start packing up at 4:15. We have to secure the site, put tools and such away, change out of our muddy work clothes, and clean up. I consider all of that to be work. If for some reason we finish all of this faster than expected there’s no reason to sit and twiddle our thumbs for three minutes just to make sure we leave exactly at 4:30.

    4. Asenath*

      I”m fortunate that my work doesn’t require arriving and leaving at the minute – my job doesn’t require me to be there at 8:00 AM so the night shift person can leave or anything like that. But if I’m leaving 15 minutes early, it’s generally because I’ve put in extra work at lunch, or arrived early, or something like that. I don’t routinely leave early just for the sake of doing it – maybye #2 has also made up time during the day? But on the other hand, he’s the one who sits there until 8:00 AM reading a book, which doesn’t look good. I’m not sure what can be done without descending to micromanaging as long as he’s productive, though.

      1. AnonForThis*

        Well, if you work for a clock watcher you might be inclined to become one too…but depending on how the reader gets to work and what the office is like, I might find a place other than my desk to read until starting time.

      2. JessaBee*

        I think for me it depends on a couple of things: 1) What does packing up entail? I spend the last 14-30min packing up, clearing my area, prepping for the next day.

        2) Does he go non-responsive during those 15min? Closing his email or, worse, not answering the phone so as not to be caught up in something beyond 4:00pm are absolutely issues to be addressed.

        If he’s doing No. 1 but not so much No. 2 and otherwise output is good, I probably would keep an eye on it, but let it slide. What you don’t want to happen is he gets comfortable with being done at 3:45 and now it’s sliding back to 3:30 or even 3:00.

        1. Dankar*

          I change into my gym clothes about ~30 minutes before the end of the day during the summer, when work is slow. But I think about 40% of the time I still end up staying past 5, because my supervisor calls me to review at 4:45.

          Then they always ask why I didn’t go home earlier!

    5. Overeducated*

      If my manager suggested changing my hours to 7:55-3:55, I’d go crazy, knowing they were watching my time with less of a margin of error than the difference between the clocks in the lobby and on my computer.

      1. MizShrew*

        Yeah, I think the manager is wasting more time tracking their employee’s time than the employees themselves are wasting. Is the work getting done? Great, then let it go — manage the work and not the clock.

    6. Indie*

      Why is leaving two minutes early annoying? I see it more as being good at time management. The person has obviously finished all their tasks in a timely manner and is clearing the decks for the next day. Meeting deadlines and prepping quickly is way more important than doing performative work for a few minutes. They are simply trying to get things done on time. I’m not sure why they need to be in the office until exactly 4pm; whether it is phone coverage or ‘something might come up’ but what’s going to happen in two minutes? If something could be missed, then the OP should focus on the ‘why’ of needing them there a few minutes longer. If it is simply: “I think I can get two more minutes work out of you” well then that is ridiculous. You are more likely to get work out of people by being approving of their quickness, ability to meet deadlines, and letting them out in time to get the damn bus or beat the traffic. Clockwatch them for no reason and you’ll put them on a go-slow.

    7. HannaSpanna*

      The bus comment was my first thought. If someone was being so careful to ensure that they are ready to go at a certain time daily, I would assume they needed to get somewhere (like picking up kids) or leaving 2 min later made a significant difference to their commute (as sometimes happens in London.) I would have thought a conversation with the employee saying you had noticed to give them a chance to explain would be a better first step.

      1. HannaSpanna*

        Also, if I know I need to be out the door exactly on time or even a bit early, I take a shorter lunchbreak to make up for it. I would go by what the employee was achieving rather than the precise times (obvious exceptions, jobs when you need to relieve someone on duty etc)

  14. Jasnah*

    I admit to having peed “in public”. Desperate times, man! This dude just had the misfortune of getting caught.

  15. One of the Sarahs*

    For OP #3, if it were a case of public transport, I’d suggest letting the employee start at 7:50, or whatever, if they need to leave by a specific time.
    I’m a bit bemused by not liking the other employee making drinks for other people in the office, though – surely in the long run that saves time for the rest of the team, as they all don’t have to get up?

    1. Alton*

      Yeah, I think this is an area where it can be good to communicate and be open to compromise if there’s a reason why the employee is in a rush to leave (especially since there can be a stigma against things like taking public transportation or having family obligations sometimes).

      I’m someone who finds that a difference of a couple minutes can affect whether I can catch my bus or not, so I can sympathize with why someone may want to leave a couple minutes early.

      1. Cercis*

        Yeah, at one job if I left my desk at exactly 5:00, I could make my bus with a minute to spare. If I was held up by someone asking a question, then I would miss that bus and have to wait for the next one and I’d get home half an hour or more later (and be on a bus that was SRO). I generally packed everything away at the end of my lunch hour (I didn’t need to take much for work) and “wrapping up” consisted of finishing my tea and stowing my cup, straightening any notes I took during the day and putting away files, which I did as much as I could during the day. Basically, that job made me really good at “cleaning as you go” so that leaving was literally just logging out of my computer, grabbing my backpack and running down the stairs (back when I had knees that could do that).

        My boss really hated it and the “optics” of it (I mean, I didn’t sprint out of the office, but I did run down the stairs and sprint after I left the building). But she didn’t notice that I was always at my desk with my tea made and my computer booted up at 7:59 and I definitely put in my full 8 hours. She didn’t notice, because she came in at 9 or 9:30. Doing that meant taking a bus 30 minutes earlier than “necessary” because if traffic was heavy, I’d be there at 8:05. So, I was “giving” work an additional 30 minutes of my time each day, I didn’t want to compound it by giving them an additional 30 minutes at the end of the day. As it was, I was gone from home from 6:55am to 5:55pm (or later) for a job that paid me for 8 hours.

    2. TootsNYC*

      but maybe if he didn’t offer, they wouldn’t be bothering.

      Or, maybe there’s a disruptive conversation.
      I worked with another team that would spend 20 minutes or more just figuring out what to order from the local deli, and then of course they all stopped when it arrived and they had to distribute it. It totally destroyed the first 30 minutes of productivity in the day. (and there was work for them to do–I had placed it on their desk and was waiting for them to get back to me)

  16. I heart Paul Buchman*

    #3 – How careful are you with other aspects of timekeeping such as lunch or bathroom breaks? I would be annoyed if my boss queried my leaving 2 minutes early if I worked through lunch two days a week for example. What do you do if an employee has to take an extra half hour for lunch for a dental appointment? Do you have them work it up the next day? Are they ever ‘on call’ before or after work?

    I think these issues are important because flexibility or lack thereof works both ways. You can only strictly enforce start and end times if you also strictly enforce other entitlements. ie you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    1. London Calling*

      I leave five minutes before my finish time of 5pm because I have a long commute that involves 3 trains and the timings are crucial. OTOH, I have colleagues who regularly have 10 minute chats (non-work) throughout the day, and nothings said to them, so I reckon I’m in the clear.

      1. Whoop*

        Yeah, same. My morning train gets me to the office at about 8.50-8.55 (if it runs on time, National Rail being what it is), and then if I leave at 4.50 I can get the 5.15 train – if I miss that one, the next train isn’t until nearly 6, so those extra ten minutes can mean I get home nearly an hour later. I will stay and get the later train whenever I need to, but luckily my office is understanding and flexible about it. It makes a huge difference to my working life if I can get that earlier train most days.

        I figure most people aren’t working 100% of the time when they’re in the office, so while I might skip 5 minutes of the working day somewhere, I’m probably not working less than other people who are going for smoke breaks / making extra coffee / chatting with their co-workers / getting back from lunch late, etc. Giving employees that bit of flexibility if bums-in-seats isn’t essential can make a big difference.

      2. Karen from Finance*

        See, this is what really grinds my gears about my HR department. They are so darn strict about people’s check in/check out times, and they think they are tracking (what they call) “productivity” by looking into people’s PTO and how much time they assign to meetings on their timesheets.

        That is not what productivity is. If someone spends all day chatting with coworkers, playing solitaire, drinking on the job (I kid you not, I’ve seen it), but take no PTO and arrive and leave exactly on time.. that hardly makes them productive does it?

        On the other end, I tend to work a lot of OT from home that I don’t feel like reporting each single time so then they see me as one of the least “productive” ones, results be darned.

        1. pancakes*

          Exactly. I have a coworker who prides himself on being the first in every morning, but he talks all day long. When he’s bored with chatting to people in our case room he makes the round to chat with receptionists & other people around the office once several times per day. He also falls asleep in his chair very, very regularly.

    2. Antilles*

      +1
      This is a really good point. If you start being a stickler about timekeeping and exactly 8 to 4, you can bet that your employees are going to follow your lead and act the exact same way: The guy who stays an extra five minutes to finish up things is going to stop doing that and instead leave at 4:00 on the dot, employees are going to make sure they take all 30 minutes of lunch rather than coming back a few minutes early, people are going to get irritated if you try to contact them outside of normal hours, etc.

  17. Ruth (UK)*

    1. I have a lot of sympathy for someone with that particular reason for arrest. I mean, on one hand location and circumstance matter (while cycling home last week I ended up having to cycle through a tiny stream created by a man who was peeing very publicly in an open area…) but with no other information, I’m inclined to give the person the benefit of the doubt.

    I have a problem with urinary frequency and pain. Once, arriving back in my city by bus late at night and with the bus station closed, I literally ran a short area round the city in search of any sort of public toilet or suitable area before peeing in some flowers in a park. That’s by far not my only story. Most of mine have happened in rural / countryside locations eg. Peeing in the woods, not up against buildings, but being caught in more built up areas has also happened to me and people I’ve been with where they wouldn’t have done it had there been another option available and had they not been desperate.

    In my city we have very very few available public toilets, especially in the evening/night… So a big problem with this. Instead of getting more toilets, they just try and make it harder to pee in places (eg. Splashback paint etc). Of course that works and everyone (and all the homeless people etc) can just hold it forever now… Oh wait.

  18. TechWorker*

    Op 2 – I think your logic that you should help people because you’d help them quickest is worth examining. If it were the case that whoever’s fastest at task x always does task x in preference to other team members then no-one would ever develop new skills!

    1. Ta*

      This is so true. If you keep doing it because you’re the quickest, nobody else will ever be able to learn. I would encourage you to gently ask yourself whether you feel very attached to the idea of being ‘most helpful’, and whether other people would do things badly or just differently.

      But the number one thing you need to do is to stop helping people directly and start helping the on-call person should they need it. Because that’s who you should be helping. That’s how we do it in my team – the on-call person asks for help if they need it.

      I would also maybe consider if you are hoarding knowledge you could be sharing eg by writing some documentation.

    2. EventPlannerGal*

      Agreed. In my current job I actually often find myself in the position of the on-call person in this letter – my immediate superior has been here for ten years and knows the systems we use like the back of her hand, so she will often just do a task for me that I was supposed to do because she can do it faster and telling me about it after it’s already taken care of.

      Which is fine right up until the times she ISN’T there and someone asks me to do that task, at which point I end up looking like an idiot as I fumble through something I’ve never had to practice. It’s not a great feeling.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Yes, OP 2, you want the rest of the on-call people to improve–and that means letting them practice, even though they will be slower than you at first.

      Specialization IS faster–but in practice companies want some redundancy, too. Old Hand Myrtle will always be the fastest and most efficient–right up until she’s out and someone else needs to understand how to butter battle Accounting for the rights to the fridge space.

  19. Ta*

    #3 I do my thinking and planning for the day while making a coffee when I get in. Not all ‘work’ happens sitting at a desk.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Very true. I think with #3 the best approach is probably to look at their performance as a whole, and take it from there.

      If the clock-watching is part of a larger pattern of poor performance then address it as such. If it is irritating but their performance is generally OK, then I think it is reasonable to overlook it unless the job is one wehre exact timekeping is essential (for instnace, if worker #2 is responsible for reception or tsaking phone enquiries where the requirement is that it is open / the service is available until 5.)

  20. Anononon*

    So, this sounds super weird to even type, but I’ve seen multiple coworkers pee in public (or their backs at least). We do a softball league at a local park, and some of the guys will piss about ten feet into the wooded areas next to the fields. It’s pretty obnoxious.

    1. Alfonzo Mango*

      Oh yikes! That is totally inappropriate, IMO.

      I wonder how they would feel if a woman did that? I’m not implying sexism, but I do like to think of the dynamics in these situations.

      1. Anononon*

        I’ve never seen it, but I think some of the women who come out have also peed in the woods. They just hide better. :) Some of the main guy offenders often have their wives at the game, and I think I’ve heard talk of the guys keeping a lookout for the women.

  21. Ginger*

    OP 1 – as long as your office has bathrooms, it shouldn’t be an issue, right?

    (That was typed in sarcasm font)

  22. JBx*

    #3 – I hope I never work in a job like this. Few jobs actually require the employee to be actively working from the first minute to the last. I’m an adult and professional and I can manage my own schedule, thank you. The work gets done on schedule, so I don’t need someone to sit there with a stopwatch and tell me when to start and stop.

    Right now, I’m in a situation where I have no supervision at all. I decide when I get up, when I work, and when I go home. And amazingly… SOMEHOW… the work still gets done without a boss standing over my shoulder.

    1. CR*

      Agreed. I hate being micromanaged when it comes to the exact number of minutes I’m in my seat. Fastest way to make me hate my job.

    2. IEL*

      My boss has recently decided to micromanage our start times, very similar to OP3. The net result is
      1) I’m working a lot less because there is no more staying late, if my butt is in the chair at 9 on the dot then my butt will be out of the chair at 5 on the dot, and
      2) I am looking for a new job.

    3. CK*

      Yep. I used to work in an environment like this and we all felt we were in a closely monitored pre-school. As long as your employees are getting their work done and are overall good employees, I’d let this slide.

      I don’t think expecting employees to work a FULL 8 hours a day is very realistic either…

    4. Esperanza*

      Yep… I found #3 to be depressing as hell, and I’m surprised the answer wasn’t “It’s two minutes… back off.”

      People’s actual productivity after clocking in varies really widely. It’s demoralizing for a good worker to be monitored and reprimanded for a couple of minutes. It makes you feel like being chained to the desk at certain times is valued more than what you actually do.

      The American work week is extremely long and unforgiving when it comes to things like commuting and appointments. I think the world would be a much better place if we all moved away from rigid hours, but in the meantime good workers deserve two minutes of slack.

      1. Colette*

        Well, it’s 15 minutes every day, from the sounds of things. If it’s truly “I’ve reached the end of what I can get done today”, it’ll happen more randomly – some days, it’ll be 15 minutes, some days 5, some days on the dot if not later.

          1. Delphine*

            If no one works constantly throughout the workday, is the issue the 15 minutes he’s losing or is it the perception of wrapping up work early?

            1. Colette*

              Is he not ever taking a longer than usual break, or chatting with a colleague for 15 minutes, or staring into space because he can’t concentrate? Is this really the only time he isn’t 100% productive?

              I doubt it; I think this is in addition to all of the usual types of breaks or unproductive time.

              1. JamieS*

                He’s probably not 100% productive the rest of the time since few people (if any) are. However we don’t know what his break schedule is or how it compares to others in OP’s office. Maybe he takes less breaks throughout the day or takes a shorter lunch and saves the extra break time for the end of day.

          2. Oaktree*

            What’s the problem, so long as he’s not hourly and he gets all his work done? Or is it just ~optics~?

          3. Esperanza*

            Right, but almost nobody spends every second of an eight hour day actively working. You could add up the time people spend chatting with co-workers, or taking a long lunch, or bathroom breaks, or mental breaks to re-focus, and say “that adds up to x days per year!!” — but it’s still a tiny percentage. And for most people it’s necessary to spend at least some portion of an 8 or 9 hour day off task for sanity.

            This person is being blatant about it by spending so much time packing up, but he’s hardly alone in not working every second of the eight hours… and if work is getting done, I think that’s normal and okay.

        1. Entry Level Marcus*

          Not necessarily. A lot of office jobs just don’t have enough work to consistently fill an 8 hour day, and so I see no harm in ducking out 15 min early if there is literally nothing to do for those 15 minutes.

          1. Entry Level Marcus*

            In my current job, for instance, we are in a slow period (though not for much longer…) and so I have rarely had any work to do after 4pm. So about 4 days a week I leave about 10 minutes early, and I don’t feel like I’m cheating my employer out of any work given that I am willing to work past 5 in the busy periods.

        2. Jennifer*

          I agree. The guy that makes coffee drinks for himself and others in the morning doesn’t seem like a big deal. I do think very obviously quitting work early is kind of strange. And taking a full 15 minutes to pack up. In extreme winter weather, I guess that could be a thing, but it sounds like it happens year-round.

    5. Susie Q*

      Agreed. This post is dripping with pearl clutching and unrealistic expectations of workers. Does OP think that their employees are working 24/7 when their butts are in the seat?

  23. Diana*

    Of all the dealbreakers in a work environment, I swear nickel and diming salaried employees is #1 for me. Evaluate me on whether I’m doing outstanding work and contributing value to the team, that’s it. I work my butt off and the proof is in the pudding, not the invisible timesheet. If you give a shit about my working hours so much, pay me overtime wages when I stay late.

    1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      This. I have left jobs I otherwise had no problem with because of the micromanagement of working time. The quality and speed of my work was ignored but clocking in 15 seconds late from lunch was a write up offense. I left as soon as I could.

    2. londonedit*

      Absolutely. I’m fortunate that my current job doesn’t micromanage people’s time – there are certain meetings we need to be present for, and core hours when we need to be in the office, but we’re trusted to manage our own time. Yes, people get up and make cups of tea (for themselves and for other people in the office – this is Britain, if you’re getting up to make a cup of tea then you offer to make one for anyone else nearby). People also sometimes take extended lunch breaks if they’re meeting a friend (and, conversely, sometimes don’t take a lunch break at all if they’re on a deadline). People arrive early and leave early, or arrive late and leave late, all with about an hour and a half’s tolerance each way. I’d be seriously annoyed and demotivated if my manager started having a go at me because I got in at 9:03 on Tuesday and left at 4:58, or started making comments about the time I was spending making myself a cup of coffee.

    3. ssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      It’s terrible for morale. I worked at one place where I was tasked on tracking who came in late and people had to sign a book when late. They would glare at me and say, and what about the fact I stayed two hours late last night? They never paid overtime.

      I could only shrug. The owner and his son were terrible and the turnover in the place was something else.

      1. Hello There*

        I worked at a company who had everyone keep a time sheet. On that sheet you had to account for every single second of your day and what you were doing. From the moment you clocked in till the moment you clocked out. And they meant EVERYTHING. If it took you 23 minutes to respond to emails you wrote that down. 7 minutes in the bathroom, etc etc At the end of each week you turned your sheets in to your manager who had to reconcile them against the computer where you electronically clocked in and out and then check to be sure all your work was actually being completed. From what I’ve heard from people still there they’ve done away with those sheets, but management is still hardcore on the micromanagement of employees time.

        1. KRM*

          We once had to track our time in 15’ intervals, but that was because some of our collaborators were paying for FTEs, so at least it made sense!

        2. EPLawyer*

          And the time spent filling out the time sheet to track that time? No one ever thinks about that. “Look we captured every second of the day and can see how productive everyone was.” Except for the lost time which is really A LOT for filling out the sheet. Imagine what can be accomplished if you don’t waste everyone’s time filling out time sheets.

          In #3’s case, it is probably the coming in early but not working. That is so annoying. If your workday is 8-4 and you don’t start work until 8 even if you are there, you don’t get to leave 2 minutes early. Because BANG ON work time goes both ways.

          1. Hello There*

            I agree. That place drove me crazy, I couldn’t understand why anyone other than the those taking customer calls needed to have that strict of a schedule.

            I generally arrive 10 to 15 mins early b/c of my bus schedule so I go ahead and get started when I come in. And I usually take 45 min lunches instead of an hour. I figure it all equals out when I need to leave early to catch the bus, otherwise I’m stuck here another hour waiting for the next one.

    4. Cassandra*

      Cosigned. If OP3 were my boss I’d be fleeing ASAP… including if I were hourly rather than salaried. Just the level of surveillance in that letter sets my teeth on edge.

      How much is extra employee turnover liable to cost your organization and your career, OP3?

    5. Random Obsessions*

      When my old place of work went downhill one of the things they did was nickle and dime us for timeliness and the impression of our butts in seats. (pun intended)
      It didn’t matter that we worked more than our standard hours during crunch time or if something broke on the weekend and we came into fix it or that we worked outside of work hours because the upper management left something too late to fix it at work.
      No, what mattered to them was butts in seats because of the look of the thing and exact adherence to the letter of the labor law about how many breaks a person working X hours a day got, morale be darned.
      Let me tell you, people were not happy and it showed in the amount of effort they were willing to put in with the extras they used to happily do to help out.
      Do not do the same to your team.

    6. Matilda Jefferies*

      YES. I had a job a few years ago where I was a mid-career professional, in a non-butt-in-seat role – officially my hours were 9-5, but it shouldn’t have been relevant to the policy analysis work I was doing. And no matter what I did, no matter how early I left my house or how I rearranged my commute, I just absolutely could not get to the office before 9:10. And the way my manager carried on about it, you’d have thought I was actively stealing from the company, and sexually harassing everyone I saw while I was at it.

      Also, she absolutely would *not* adjust my schedule. To her, 8:59 was best, 9:00 was tolerable, and 9:01 was late. I offered to change my official hours to 9:15-5:15 (which I was doing already anyway), or take less time for lunch (ditto), but she insisted it had to be 9:00, and anything later than that was unacceptable.

      Which of course had no effect at all on the opening time for my daughter’s day care, or on the frequency or travel times of the public transit system. So my only option was to come in at 9:10 and be “late.” I started every single day of that job stressed out, and worried that I was going to get in trouble, which I often did. Honestly, I liked everything else about the job, but being treated like that by my manager was just about the worst experience of my entire life. (It’s been 7 years since I left, and I’m still bitter about it!)

      TL;DR – unless the employee is actually required to be in their seat at a particular time, please let it go. If you have concerns about their productivity in general, then obviously address that, but if it’s just an issue of ten minutes a day, then you’ll all be better served if you don’t say anything about it.

    7. Bunny Girl*

      Yup. My old manager was absolutely useless, never did her job, pushed everything onto other people, would disappear for hours at a time, and always left early and came in late, but she would freak out if I came back a minute late from my 15 minute break or if I left 5 minutes early because of a snow storm, and these weren’t common occurrences. Some people get into “power” and just feel that they have to control every single tiny aspect of everyone else’s time.

  24. RUKidding*

    #1 Hard agree with Alison. Unless they are on the FBI “10 most wanted serial pisser” list, or “Public Per Pee Enemy # 1” not considering them based on a one time thing this minor… yeah, ignore it, completely.

    1. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)*

      “Public Pee Pee Enemy #1”? Now that’s a movie I’d watch! Where do I sign?

  25. ShwaMan*

    I don’t think I agree with the response to OP3, but I think a lot more context would be helpful. Are they hourly? What is the nature of the job? What is the culture of the team/company?

    I for one am very very grateful that my boss never polices my coming and going, but I work a job with long term projects and goals. If it were a call centre or some sort of transaction processing etc. I might be more inclined to watch their time.

    1. catwoman2965*

      Agreed. I’ve been in my current position for almost 20 years and its the first one where I was salaried. All my others I was hourly. So while I was able to leave early or come in late, i generally had to make up the hours.

      Now? Its really flexible, which is nice. I’m an adult, not a kid, and don’t need to be micromanaged to the nth degree. My hours are x to y, but sometimes, due to traffic, weather, etc. i’m not always at my desk, in my seat right at x time. But its ok. same with leaving early, i can do it when necessary but i generally don’t make a habit of it.

  26. Dave from the Bronx*

    “Arrests are not “do not hire” me signs. They’re just information about someone’s past. In this case, the information — a minor misdemeanor from years ago — is irrelevant. Ignore it.”

    +10000

  27. Gray Coder*

    #2 — If you want to move away from being the “go-to” person gradually, you can still be helpful while handing over. “Sure, I can help. I’ll just get Haukur (the on-call person) so he can learn how to do it too — I’m trying share the knowledge so I’m less of a bottleneck when these things come up.” Ideally, Haukur would then write up and share some “how-to” notes — having him do this reinforces the process for him and also ensures that the instructions are written from the point of view of someone less familiar with the task. (The notes on this at the link Alison gives are good.)

    You may of course get some pushback from your colleagues who will now have to do work you’ve been doing. I’d suggest discussing this with your manager, then raising it in a team meeting so everyone knows it’s happening. “People have been coming to me whenever the turbo encabulator needs adjustment. I’m normally happy to help but we need to spread this knowledge in case I fall under a bus, so I’ll be getting other people to pair with me when this happens.”

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I’m confused about the part in the letter where OP says “other departments don’t know who [the weekly on-call] person is without asking someone.” It seems like that would be an easy problem to solve, right? Just post something on the bulletin board, bring it up in your Monday morning meeting, or email everyone: “Wakeen is the on-call help person this week.”

      Also, it does seem like your supervisor approves of you acting as the de facto on-call help person so would you prefer to make that official? That would remove the need for a weekly rotation and make you feel less guilty about taking time away from your other tasks when you’re helping people. Just a thought. But if you really would rather give up the helping altogether or for the most part, then I think Gray Coder’s advice sounds very good.

      1. TootsNYC*

        or, create a separate Slack channel, email address, or whatever, that this day’s on-call person must monitor, so the other departments can reach out to this generic contact point.

  28. drpuma*

    OP5, you write, “If the conversation is going in a different direction, I let the conversation flow naturally and disregard my questions.”

    That’s how you know you’re doing it right. You come off as thoughtful and prepared but not inflexible. Keep it up!

  29. Knitting Cat Lady*

    When my cousin was about 2 years old and in the process of being potty trained she desperately needed to go when they were out and about on the main shopping street.

    But there was no public bathroom anywhere. So my aunt had her pee in a huge plant pot.

    An elderly woman, with a small dog, got all huffy about it.

    And as this was over 30 years ago nobody even thought about picking up after their dogs, so the side walks were usually covered in dog shit.

    My aunt was not amused. Her reply went like this: ‘So, every mutt, including yours, is allowed to shit anywhere it likes, but my daughter has to pee her pants? Go fuck yourself!’

    Anyway. If you’re out and about and have to pee:
    -Do it outside. Not in stairwells, under passes, etc. People sleep in those places.
    -Piss against plants, or in the gutter. Not against buildings. Urine damage is not fun.

    1. pleaset*

      ‘So, every mutt, including yours, is allowed to shit anywhere it likes, but my daughter has to pee her pants? Go fuck yourself!’

      I like this.

  30. Rebecca*

    #3 – we don’t know if the employees are exempt or non exempt in this situation. In my office, most of us are non-exempt, and we must clock in and out, mandatory 30 minute lunch break, etc. Our system rounds to the nearest 15 minute increment, so we’re instructed not to clock in more than 7 minutes prior to start time. We must clock out exactly on quitting time, or up to 7 minutes after. Meal breaks, the same, as to not trigger any possible overtime pay. And yes, managers have called people out for clocking out 1 minute early or clocking in a few minutes late in the morning.

    So, I arrive at work usually 10 minutes early, boot up my computer, hope it doesn’t have too many updates or delays, log into the time card website, and clock in. I go get coffee, put my lunch in the fridge, go back to my desk, and yes, I wait until starting time on the dot to start working. At the end of the day, a few minutes before quitting time, I close my email, don’t answer the phone, and log back in, and wait until the magic time, and click out. Then I’m outta there. And for everyone who says “oh that 5 minutes doesn’t add up to much”, yes, it does, in 200 working days it’s over 16.5 hours of unpaid time.

    I think if I wasn’t nickeled and dimed otherwise, I might feel differently, but this new system was just the frosting on the cake. I am an adult, can manage my time, and what’s worse, we’re not customer facing, on a production line, nothing like that, things just need to get done. It’s unnecessarily cumbersome for no good reason other than it looks good to have perfect punches on the board.

    1. Ads*

      At my new hourly job we’re unofficially expected to clock in about :53 or :55 since the clock rounds in that 15 minute style (:52 is 15 minutes of OT) but lord help you if you clock out at :55!

      This is especially annoying because we’re not doing anything if we’re in the clock building at that time but we’re supposed to wait around.

      My boss also said it doesn’t look good if we’re back in the staging area at 11:45 instead of 11:55 or 2:30 instead of 2:45 etc etc but sometimes there isn’t enough of one task to fill that time or enough time to start a new one.

      At my last hourly job, I could clock on my phone or on a computer so I’d clock on my phone in the last spot with reception at 7 on the dot (no rounding) then go in. But I’d clock on the computer at 3:30 because i could not predict when my phone would work again. I do not blame #2 for reading until the exact time.

      1. Rebecca*

        I don’t blame the person for reading or doing whatever right up to start time, either. I think the OP needs to ask himself, is the work getting done? And did they sit down with the person who leaves at 3:58 and actually talk to them? It might be the time on their clock is off! Weirder things have happened. Maybe he has public transit needs, and if he doesn’t leave at 3:58, he misses a train or bus and has to wait another hour to get home. I find many issues on this site boil down to people just not talking to each other.

        Aside – I noticed our payroll system rounds to 15 minute increments but somehow we aren’t able to take less than 4 hours of PTO time for an appointment. Oh, we can’t do that, you must use 4 hours, even if you only need 1-2 hours of your limited PTO to go to the dentist. Nickels and dimes…

        1. Allison*

          Yup. For about a year I was taking a commuter train home, and was leaving about 10-15 mins before the official “quitting time” at work to make it. Our office is fairly flexible, my job isn’t customer facing and does not require continuous coverage, and I was also getting to work a bit early and overall doing my job well, and staying late when it seemed necessary. No one seemed to take issue with it, but if my boss or a colleague I worked closely with had a problem with this habit, I wouldn’t have minded having an adult conversation about this. “I leave early for this reason.” “well I need you to stay until 5 for this reason.” (and that reason could, honestly, be that it looks bad) “okay cool, I’ll take a later train then.”

        2. Indie*

          Yeah I think the OP is very pessimistic in assuming the worst of their employee. Either that it is laziness or some kind of bizarre up yours. Far more likely to be a simple scheduling issue with transport combined with an assumption that the OP wanted the days work done BY four o clock not AT four. Leaving two minutes early is…leaving on time. What next? Checking how many seconds away from the day’s end?

    2. July*

      This is exactly the situation at my employer, too Rebecca, right down the system rounding to the nearest 15 minute increment. We got the new system in July of last year. The thing is, the new system has actually made things worse. It has an app you can install on your phone. I’ve seen people clock-in on their phone app and then sit another 30-45 minutes. If it only happened once or twice, I wouldn’t have a second thought, but it happens daily.

      1. Rebecca*

        I have to smile – it occurred to me that I could just clock in on my phone (using the web browser, user name and password) if I was running late, and just sneak in and sit down, probably no one would notice. I don’t share an office, so unless manager is coming around precisely at start times, and we have staggered start times, they wouldn’t notice.

        There are days where I’m not that busy, so I just farm things out to fit the time, other days I’m really busy, so I work harder, so that works out. And I don’t want to be exempt because I see how those employees are treated – and I don’t want to work evenings, weekends, be constantly on call, no thanks. This is just a job. I work, they give me money and benefits, then the other hours of my life are my own.

  31. Marion Ravenwood*

    #1 – I have IBS, and I have definitely had to ‘go’ in public places when I was desperate and there was no loo for miles (usually rural/isolated areas though – I’m lucky that I live in a major city and there’s nearly always a McDonald’s or similar with a free bathroom nearby!). So I fully sympathise with the candidate; sometimes these things just can’t be helped. If it’s not a particularly recent arrest and a one-off, and you’re definitely sure it’s the same guy, then I’d let it slide this time.

    #2 – Totally get the ‘wanting to be helpful’ thing, as I’m really bad for that myself. But I do think you need to step back a bit. After all, as others have said if the duty person doesn’t do the task then they won’t learn how to do it, and you stepping in to do it takes time away from your actual work. By all means help if you want to – I’m not saying go from how you are now to suddenly refusing to help anyone at all! – but if it’s got to the point where it’s interfering with your day-to-day stuff this month, then I’d try and cut back. If you’re not on that duty rota already, would it help to allocate some time each day/week when you can help people but that doesn’t interfere with your workload? Or to push back more – say ‘I can’t do it right now because I’m working on the TPS report, but I can do it this afternoon/tomorrow? If you need it sooner, you could always ask [duty person]’? The latter does mean you might still end up doing some of it, but might be a good halfway point from cutting off the help completely.

    #3 – Unless these are jobs where the person absolutely has to be bum-in-chair for their whole shift, which it doesn’t sound like it is, and both employers are delivering on their work, I’d be fine with both of these. The second one would bother me more, more because of the ‘not starting before 8’ aspect rather than the leaving early, but the first one I’m absolutely fine with – that coffee-making could be a way of building relationships with colleagues.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        The problem is he’s supposed to work till 4, but stops at 3:45. Every day. He takes 15 minutes and doesn’t give it back even though he could since he’s there early.

  32. sheworkshardforthemoney*

    #3 The never being ready to start on time and ducking out early issues seem minor but it’s the minor things that are sometimes the most rage inducing. We had a co-worker who showed up one minute before her shift and then spent 15-20 minutes getting her coffee/water, having a bathroom break, checking her phone etc. Technically, she was on time but not ready to actually work. Since we were a very busy customer facing business it made a big difference to her colleagues. If other people in the office are doing the same thing, shaving time off their day, then you have little standing to change them. Sometimes you have to go along with office norms or risk being seen as a petty micro-manager.

    1. MoopySwarpet*

      I agree. It is so annoying. I think it might help to see if there are other patterns to their behavior that are causing this to be such a rub. If they are both fairly head down, getting things done for the other 7 hours they are in the office, it’s probably no big deal. If it’s the slowly easing into the work day, constantly away from the desk when you’re looking for them, dragging out lunch and so on, there might be a bigger problem.

      We had a co-worker who made a really big deal about “coming in early” so he could leave early. The rub (to me) was that he showed up anywhere from 15-20 minutes early, but walked out the door 30-45 minutes early every day. It was annoying, but hard to do anything about because the general job description work was getting done, but there was nothing being done to try to stretch or grow the position. Which was fine for the general position, but not really from someone who wanted to “do bigger things” here.

      OP3 might also look at their own work habits. Are they actually working too hard or too many hours? I know that it was a bigger rub to those in the office whose positions required more butt in seat hours. Or whose positions were a heavier work flow.

    2. Indie*

      I dont think theres anything petty about tackling actual failure to do the work! Saying “We are too busy for anyone to take a break right at the start of their shift.” isn’t nickelling and diming. The phrase refers to unfairly penalizing good workers who are simply faster than others. It is especially not a problem when you’re talking about phone coverage. Usually those jobs have scheduled breaks.

  33. TexasRose*

    OP#2, it’s nice to be the expert, but sometimes it’s fun to simply DO something rather than to react to someone else’s problem. You want to continue being helpful, but you may want to refocus your efforts on becoming a “Tier 2” help person – the person the help desk comes to when THEY need help. (You get the joy of training the help people, the security of knowing they can handle 90+% of the problems when you’re on vacation, and the pleasure of concentrating on longer-range problems and plans.)
    I see several problems within your situation, where your department runs a semi-formal help team for several other department. These are perhaps all obvious steps, but here are some
    Suggestions:
    1. Add a bit more formality to your department’s help function.
    a. Perhaps add a specific email address (something easy to remember for your internal customers, like answers@dpt) that only the on-call person answers during their week.
    b. If you (any of the “you”s who get asked for help) get a request to your direct email, forward that request to the proper email, with a CC to the requester (AND put that request a few hours down in your queue, to reinforce that getting your attention directly does NOT get a quicker answer).
    c. FAQs (or longer documentation, or SOPs, or versions of all these depending on what you’re helping with) save a lot of time, both for the customer and the help desk. Offer these as a first answer, and offer your help if these aren’t enough.
    2. Start keeping a log of requests (this applies to everyone who fields such help requests). A log can be quite simply a spiral notebook with a list of day/date/time, name of requester, request. One purpose is to help you create a brag list for your weekly report. But review your logs weekly or monthly, to help you create a list of
    (i) frequent requests (so you know what FAQs to create, or maybe you need to create training as part of project ramp-up or new-hire onboarding – the list helps you ID systemic problems), and
    (ii) frequent requesters (those folks who need more handholding, or who might be relying on you rather than facing their fear of technology [or keyboarding, or simply trying to figure something out themselves]).
    By all means, continue to be helpful and nice – but do so in that intersection of what your job expects of you AND what you find rewarding. Finding and fixing the larger problems is ALSO being helpful and nice.

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      I was going to say the same – it seems like that’s a really easy problem to solve, and I’m a little surprised that the only way to locate the on-call person is to ask around.

      In addition to 1a and 1 b above (have a general email address, and be diligent about redirecting people to it when they email you directly), I would suggest the following:

      *you could probably also have a general phone number that the on-call person answers; your IT team should be able to set it up so it rings for whoever is on call that week
      *post your on-call schedule on the intranet, on a physical in-out board in your office area, and even in your email signatures
      *use auto-replies for all incoming email messages (depending on volume, obvs) saying something like “thanks for your email; Jane is on call this week for XYZ inquiries, so please email her instead; if you really did mean to send this just to me I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.” Then the next week it will say that Fergus is on call, or just direct people to the general inbox.

      This is really something your manager should address – you shouldn’t be making process calls like this for the entire team. So definitely talk to her, and say you’re spending too much time doing on-call type stuff even when you’re not the person on call. Likely there are other people on the team in the same position – especially if it’s not clear to others who the on-call person is! I can’t imagine that you’re not (collectively) wasting a huge amount of time just saying “please call Jane, she’s the one on call this week.”

      In addition to the tools (general email address, general phone, communicate the schedule), your manager should develop some consistent messaging that everyone on the team can use to redirect requests to the on-call person. She may also need to do some change management outside the team, to the effect of “we’re going to start being more diligent about the on-call system, so we appreciate your patience if redirect you to that process instead of contacting each of us individually.”

      It’s a solvable problem, but it’s not entirely your problem to solve. Definitely speak up and see what you can do about getting some help!

  34. Hiring Mgr*

    One of my best hires ever had a DUI from a couple of years prior come up on his background check. I think OP 1 is safe in ignoring this

  35. Legal rugby*

    OP #1 – I would sit down with GC and/or HR at some point and for your own best practices check on what you can and can’t use when googling a candidate, if that’s a normal part of your search. I do title vii work at my job, and you need to be aware of all the inferences that can be drawn from doing such searches. You found a misdemeanor from years ago, which doesn’t sound like it has any impact ontheir ability to do their duties, nor was it recent enough to really cast doubt on their mental status – so I would want to know if, from that, you actually noticed a protected class, and use it as a pretext. (I’m not saying that’s what you did here, I’m saying this is why my office assists in what little social media trawling the actual hiring manager does, and we don’t provide the names to others prior to oncampus unless they are involved in the phone screen). Also, we typically don’t do any googling or social media searches prior to the in person interview stages.

    The other thing is, if you bring them in, and hire them (for God’s sake, don’t do this if it’s a rejection) you might want to drop a hint in their ear that it might be worth it to invest in some SEO.

  36. Smia*

    #1 – haven’t you done ANYTHING in your younger years that you are mortified from by now? This unlucky person was just caught. I’m sure it taught them a big life lesson

  37. Call me St. Vincent*

    It’s important to note that an arrest is not evidence of anything and it’s illegal in most places to use someone’s arrest in an adverse hiring decision. It’s the conviction that counts. I’m not trying to nitpick but this is a very important legal distinction here! In this case, I agree with Alison regardless of whether this applicant was convicted of peeing in public–not relevant to you as an employer!

  38. Murphy*

    OP#3 Either people can work the clock, or they can work the job. If they’re getting their job done, I wouldn’t worry about it.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      Exactly. As a manager, my first thought was, “Are they getting the job done? Are they meeting expectations? Are they making an impact?” If the answer is yes, I’m not going to worry about the time worked. But if the answer is no, then we need to have a conversation and I may bring up the time issue as part of it. Bottom line, I would much rather have an awesome employee who is killing it 7 hrs and 45 mins a day, instead of a mediocre employee who is butt-in-seat for 8+ hours a day.

      1. Greg NY*

        Huh?

        That’s not how it works. Either your work gets done (in which case you should be able to leave early) or the work is never done (and you pick a natural stopping point, which is when your brain is fried or you finish a task and there isn’t enough time to make much progress on another one). In the latter case, sometimes you leave 15-20 minutes early, sometimes you leave 15-20 minutes late if you are in a groove. It’s supposed to even out at the end. If someone is hourly, the “evening out” needs to take place within the confines of a single work week, but the same principle applies whether someone is exempt or non-exempt. To say that more work can just be piled on if there is time available falls under micromanagement and abuse of employees.

        1. Indie*

          It’s Parkinson’s law..it doesn’t mean that more work can be piled on! Your example of ‘should be able to leave early’ is Parkinson’s law.

          It simply means that when people are under utilised; i.e. kept at their desks longer than necessary, the work pace slows down.

          Then, on the occasions you’ve mentioned when more time is needed, staff won’t stay, because they’ve been taught to fill time, not complete tasks.

          Basically, you’re training them to go slow.

  39. dawbs*

    Don’t some states have laws prohibiting arrests being considered in hiring? (Conviction/ record can still be)

    How does that work when stuff is Google-able? Because the arrest is the reason, but the notoriety of being involved in the incident regardless of conviction is also the reason.

  40. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #2 – you’re not doing yourself any favors by always being the go-to help person. If your company has a policy of having an on-call help person, you need to make sure to enforce that policy. It also sounds like you’re neglecting your own work and having to rush on the last day of the week to finish it and that’s not ok. I get it, it’s quicker for you to help them and you want to be a team player. But you’re enabling everyone to come to you directly every single time.

    At my last job, I was in support, and people would come to my team directly when they needed help. We had a ticketing system and they were supposed to start there. We had to get into the habit of asking them to create a ticket before we could help them and they eventually stopped coming to us directly. Refusing to help them was not about NOT being a team player. The ticketing system was there for a legitimate reason, and by circumventing that system, the tracking of issues wasn’t going to be accurate. In your case, by helping these people, you’re keeping the on call people from learning how to address problems. If THEY need help, they can come to you, but you need to point the others to those on call people so they can learn. And make sure when you’re helping the on call people, they’re taking notes and you’re not doing things for them.

    1. WellRed*

      I agree with all of this. I think being so helpful that you put your own work on hold on the regular is gonna come back on you unfavorably at some point. It’s good to be an expert. Less good: being Little Miss Helpful.

    2. Mellow*

      I agree with this, and, if I could play shrink for a moment, it seems some people bind their whole self worth to compulsively helping others. I believe the classic term is “people pleaser,” and it can be quite dysfunctional.

      I mean, to feel guilty for NOT sacrificing one’s self for co-workers? Huh?

      I have a co-worker who is a classic people pleaser, i.e. she *tries to* obligate everyone to deliver her self worth to her by letting her do for them, fix for them, rescue them, at the expense of her own responsibilities. We work in a university library and she is earning a degree, and I am nearly certain she is completing her degree requirements on university time and thus the taxpayer dime, because she is always helping others and never tends to herself, so she falls behind on everything. It really makes those of us who do work hard have to fight the label of “leech” that much more.

      A difference, though, is her help typically is unsolicited, and she has had her wrist slapped more than once for over-doing it; compulsive helping slows everyone else’s roll because they constantly have to stop and accommodate the helping, if for no other reason to politely decline (which I do most of the time). It slows down work processes and sends the message hat no one can do anythng without her help, that the world wouldn’t spin without her in it. Beleve it or not, she frequently sends other departments informaton she thinks would be helpful to them – as though they aren’t capable professionals unto themselves. Oy.

      Meanwhile, Boss buries his head in the sand because he is not a leader. A good boss in some ways, but entirely too reliant on co-worker himself (a whole different conversation) and so scared of everything he couldn’t lead a horse to water, so he looks the other way – which means the rest of us are left to deal with her. It’s so unfair that he doesn’t manage coworker as he should so the rest of us don’t have to.

  41. Nox*

    1) this type of thinking is what unfortunately continues to hold back marginalized groups of people. The fact that you know its illegal to ask about criminal history yet still went around googling shows you are possibly inadvertently trying to circumvent legal protections designed to give candidates a fair chance. I find this as a POC alarming and worthy of calling out.

    1. Delta Delta*

      Lawyer here. I worked (for 18 months!) on a case where my client had been wrongfully accused of something very very terrible. There were lots of news stories. My investigator and I did a ton of work and discovered that the police had overlooked some really important information, and that showed that my guy genuinely didn’t, and couldn’t have, done the things alleged. The case was dismissed.

      Client was a POC. Client has a name that’s fairly unique for our geographic area. Client is easily google-able. It’s a 100% guarantee an employer like #1 would find the reams of bad stories regarding his arrest but would never find a good story showing how and why he was innocent.

      1. Karen from Finance*

        Do you know how he is doing? Is he employed?

        There are a lot of biases at work in what you are describing and they are all terrible for him. I hope he’s doing well.

        Good on you for being able to get him out, too.

      1. Important Moi*

        At least on person involved in the hiring process should be aware of the actual laws in their jurisdiction and inform the company of what they are. So the answer is maybe and look up the actual pertinent jurisdictional laws on this matter.

        There are some legal protections for applicants with criminal records. For example, when employers have a third party run background checks, they must obtain the applicant’s written consent and take other steps before rejecting an applicant based on the contents of the report. And, according to guidance from the EEOC, an employer that adopts a blanket policy of excluding all applicants with a criminal record could screen out disproportionate numbers of people of color which could in turn constitute illegal discrimination.

        Some states prohibit employers from asking about arrests that did not lead to
        convictions, unless the charges are still pending. Thus a Google search should not be considered as the end all be all response to the question. Further, some states allow employers to ask about convictions ONLY if they relate directly to the job, or require employers that consider convictions to take particular facts into account, such as how serious the crime was and whether the applicant has participated in any rehabilitation efforts. Public urination may not have rehabilitation efforts associated with it. And several states now have “ban-the-box” laws, prohibiting employers from asking about any criminal history until after the applicant has an interview or receives a conditional offer of employment.

    2. Sparked*

      We googled all of our candidates, and always have. It worked out great when one of them was a virulent homophobe online but the Best! Candidate! Ever! in person. It cuts both ways.

  42. Red 5*

    I had a job once where the manager was completely obsessed with the time clock and applied that obsession unevenly among the workers who were in the same position. I quit that job without another lined up, gave documentation of their unequal treatment to HR on my way out, and still consider it one of the worst jobs and worst managers I’ve ever had.

    (I’m not saying the OP is the worst, just that this is my experience of a similar situation as a worker).

    Instead of looking at our customer’s satisfaction, how well we handled complaints, or anything measuring our actual productivity, my boss only looked at our time clock in and out times to decide how well we were working. I’m the first to admit that especially at that job for a host of reasons, I was sometimes five minutes late. Sometimes even *gasp* ten. But I did my best to be “on” the second I walked in the door and to make sure that everything that needed doing got done. If I was ten minutes late, I worked that much harder that day to make up the time, maybe not in actual minutes, but in productivity.

    My coworkers who clocked in on time, but who spent twenty minutes every morning messing around and ignoring customers, or going to talk to coworkers in other parts of the building so that I was alone at the desk, well they were never late so they were obviously the better team players, right?

    On top of that, there was a whole situation where they were using the timeclock to basically justify hours of unpaid labor over time. A comparable example would be the lawsuits over employee bag checks at retail stores, if you remember when those were a big news item. I refused to do it, because if they were going to obsess about the time clock, so was I.

    I was a much worse employee because of this obsession with time keeping, in a job where coverage wasn’t an issue and where I clearly was performing better than my colleagues in almost any other job related metric.

    Time spent filling a seat is not a performance metric unless there is coverage involved and it’s impacting another employee’s ability to leave on time. Look to these employees and their actual work, and see what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, and think of actual metrics that demonstrate their value to your company. If a job just wants a seat to be filled during certain hours, they can get a mannequin.

    It’s probably highly likely that OP is not like my manager, and that actually the reason these things are bothering them is because these issues are actually symbolic of something else. The person reading a book until right at their start time might be unengaged in general, the guy arriving late and making his coffee maybe doesn’t take deadlines seriously, just off the top of my head. Those are the things to actually worry about and address, treat the disease, not the symptom.

    1. Indie*

      Well, OP is asking the question and giving it some thought, so probably they aren’t like those Managers of Yore.

      I know from experience too, that sometimes you just need to be given permission to stand down. ‘That’s ok you don’t need to worry so long as.. ‘ etc.

  43. Delta Delta*

    #1 – This is where the perspective that comes an adult lifetime of being a criminal defense lawyer is handy.

    1) record in the paper of an arrest means that this dude got arrested and the local rag sent its courthouse beat reporter to go look at files on the day this guy happened to get arrested. The fact it made the paper tends to suggest this isn’t the kind of town that has more interesting things to report in its police blotter. And by the way, police blotters in small towns can be pure comedy gold. Highly suggest reading them whenever possible.

    2) a “number” of years ago. 1 is a number. 14 is a number. Scrutinize the relevant number here and determine whether that changes your calculus.

    3) As has been pointed out, an arrest does not equal a conviction. There may genuinely be nothing on his criminal record (no conviction, maybe an expungement, we don’t know). Or there might be. Does it matter? You seem to have found a way to circumvent your state law by googling and drawing conclusions where there might not be a conclusion to draw. Perhaps reconsider.

    1. SenatorMeathooks*

      I’m wondering what triggered the need to Google this individual in the first place, as the OP claims their state prohibits asking candidates about criminal history. Since you’re a lawyer, let me ask you this (and I think I know the answer already) – does an arrest count as an element of criminal history?

      1. Lily Rowan*

        A lot of people just google candidates in general — maybe they have inappropriate public social media or whatever.

  44. Allison*

    1) *raises hand* Made it to 29, but had to this past summer because I made the mistake of drinking wine while out on the water for the fireworks. A girl can only make it so long without a bathroom! But I promise that aside from having to do that, I’m a mature, functional, professional adult person who’s great at her job. I know plenty of dudes who’ve wee’d on buildings after a night of drinking too, I feel like public urination is generally a forgivable offense. UNLESS he blatantly whipped it out in front of, or in full view of, a bunch of strangers. Yesterday I saw a video of a dude peeing on the floor of an airport terminal, with lots of shocked witnesses. That’s a bit different, if he did something like that fairly recently then *maybe* that’s a red flag.

  45. Qwerty*

    OP2 – Can you create a team channel on your company’s IM system? That’s how we handled having a rotating on-call person at my previous job. Instead of sending a chat to you asking for help, they would mention their issue on the LlamaTeamHelp channel. The on-call person would be responsible for answering the questions on their day, but external coworkers would only have to check one place. It’s also a great learning tool, since there are bound to be duplicate or similar requests. So Jane can see that Fergus handled a similar request yesterday and ask him for help if she’s stuck. Since you know the most about how to handle the requests, you could keep an eye on the channel when *and only when* you feel like it, and offer to assist teaching the on-call people or direct them to the materials they need.

    If you don’t have the IM channel ability, you can do the same thing with email. Have the email be an alias for the team. Everyone on the team sets up a filter to send help requests to a folder (so non-on-call people can ignore requests easily). And the on-call person just has to monitor their request folder when they are on duty.

    This system also makes it easier for the team to pitch if the on-call person needs help because 10 requests came in at once, or if someone has a highly urgent issue while the on-call person is at lunch.

    1. Qwerty*

      Another suggestion is to document common questions that you get. An internal team wiki is great place to record solutions to common problems and to explain where certain types of files are stored. If the questions that you get from external coworkers are more static, then have a page on your wiki they can access where you post all that information so they can easily look it up. Then the on-call person just has to respond to those questions with a link to the info page.

  46. this way, that way*

    #1 is your client the building he urinated on? then maybe it would matter. If he doesn’t have anything else arrest wise or newspaper worthy (he is not the serial pooper on the news last year) let it go.

  47. Ciela*

    #2
    I do wish I had another on duty me! So then only one week a month would I need to constantly field all the “let me look that up in the order tracker” questions from coworkers, even though we can all access the same order tracker. And be the only one to answer the phone, where 80% of the customer questions are answered in the home page of our website. “Do you have a website? What are your hours? Do you sell teapots? What is your address?” I’m not even the front desk, and yet I am the go to for all of this. Be glad you have other people to help you!

  48. Anonsy*

    “Arrests are not “do not hire” me signs. They’re just information about someone’s past. In this case, the information — a minor misdemeanor from years ago — is irrelevant. Ignore it.”

    Is there ever an arrest that could be a “do not hire” me sign? Or an arrest with conviction?

    1. WellRed*

      Well, if you got convicted of fraud or dealing opioids, I imagine you’d have trouble getting work at a bank or doctor’s office.

    2. Drax*

      Probably anything over a minor misdemeanor would be “consider carefully”, with probably only major convictions as a “Do not hire” sign. Also time of it, I’m not that concerned about a DUI from 5 years ago, but I would be concerned about a DUI from a week ago. Just like a minor DUI isn’t the same as a DUI resulting in death or injury.

      But I’ve been thinking about this all morning – in certain states peeing in public can land you on the registered sex offender list. So what then. Are you allowed to ask how a person ended up on that list or is it public information on why someone’s on it? Would you as the person who peed in the wrong spot just lead with that fact? Like that is life ruining over needing to pee at the wrong time.

      1. Gumby*

        a minor DUI isn’t the same as a DUI resulting in death or injury

        On the one hand, that sounds reasonable. On the other, it’s also basically just luck.

        I might agree more if by “minor DUI” you are referring to someone who is barely edging over the limit. But there was recently a person near here who was passed out drunk on the freeway. He was in a Tesla with autopilot on so the car was still going freeway speeds even though the driver was not conscious. Not a single person was injured or killed. No property was damaged. IMO the lack of injury or damage absolutely does not make it more okay than someone with a lower BAC who crashes.

        1. Drax*

          I 100% mean that guy who had a beer with dinner at applebees and got pulled over a block away and blew over as a ‘minor DUI’ or like circumstances. That’s not nearly as serious as passed out in a Tesla.

          1. Gumby*

            Cool, then we agree.

            Tesla-dude was an elected official and it’s horrifying but also, and I feel bad for this but, mildly humorous. But at least the cops saw him passed out and knew how to safely slow him down and stop him. Without, mind you, waking him up at all.

    3. Colette*

      Punching a coworker would be a deal-breaker, as would embezzlement/theft from a previous employer (unless the job and environment were very different from the previous one).

    4. LCL*

      Arrest just means look further. (says the OP who has a very common first and last name.)
      Conviction-depends on what they did. Any kind of assault would make me look further. There is a big difference between a drunken fight between two mutual antagonists and someone who uses violence to get their way, though the charge could be the same.

  49. LaDeeDa*

    Don’t nitpick people like that with their time. If this is a call center and they have to be logged in and out exactly on the dot, then ok, fine. Do you notice if the person who logs out 15-minutes early takes lunch, or works at their desk through lunch? Do they take a 15-minute break 2x a day? If the person reading before logging in- are they otherwise disengaged?
    If people are getting their work done, and doing it well, give them some flexibility. They are adults- they can manage their time.
    If you aren’t their manager, and it isn’t negatively impacting you- it is only annoying you, ignore it.

    1. Czhorat*

      Agreed one hundred percent.

      Especially if these are salaried jobs, nothing erodes morale faster than the boss standing by the door with a stopwatch and a clipboard trying to squeeze every minute out of you. Are they getting their work done? If so, excellent. If not, that is what you need to address – not nitpick literally fifteen minutes out of an eight-hour day.

      As was stated above, it’s doubtful that fighting for those extra fifteen minutes would get any more work done. It would, at most annoy them to the point that they work to rule and avoid putting in any extra effort beyond the minimum required to not be let go.

    2. Indie*

      There’s no mention about the standard of work at all either, which is surely the main point?
      I work with people who have ADD and the more breaks they take, the more productive they are.
      Not a thing which is confined to ADD either! It’s just that they struggle more than the average person to slow down and pace it just to look good.

    3. Mellow*

      Slight disagreement on working through lunch making it okay to leave early.

      If a company counts on you to be on the clock at 3:55, then you should be. Working through lunch and then rewarding yourself by leaving early, no matter how early, follows the logic that if I don’t take a lunch at all, I’m entitled to leave at 3 instead of 4.

      Doesn’t work that way.

      I am an academic librarian, and I and my colleagues rotate reference desk hours. Very often, right before I am ready to leave, someone needs help. If I left early, even by just a couple of minutes, the responsibility to help would fall to one of my colleagues, which is unfair.

  50. Environmental Compliance*

    *raises hand as someone who had often peed in public*

    So, I used to work as a field researcher for a state agency. I’d be out in the boonies, on public lakes, and any bathroom would have been at least a 30 minute drive away, often longer. It was a daily occurrence that I would be poppin’ a squat behind a tree as far into the woods as I could. It *really* sucked when I was in an area that was just field, no trees or bushes. I ended up bringing a crummy giant beach towel, opening up both truck doors on one side (facing as much away from any public areas as possible) and covering myself up in a towel. It really, really was unfortunate in that job to be a female with a tiny bladder and recurring UTI issues. Thankfully I had plenty of female colleagues who were in the same boat (lol) as me and we’d all watch out for each other.

    Pee happens. One – singular! – arrest from years ago does not mean that this individual has necessarily even crappy judgement. It may legitimately mean that one time, years ago, they had a Bathroom Emergency and had the misfortune of being caught. You also have the issue of not knowing if this newspaper article is even referencing this individual. Heck, it’s just an arrest, not a conviction, and with just one newspaper snippet about it, there’s no detail there to make any negative inferences.

  51. H.J.G.*

    I have an employee similar to the second person in #3- they are salaried/exempt but work exactly 40 hours per week to the minute. My company has an (unhealthy) culture where the vast majority of people who are salaried always work more than 40 hours a week, so they stand out a bit on this front, but I obviously don’t want to encourage burnout so I let this go (even if it’s a bit eye-rolly to me when they’re carefully timing their schedule down to the minute with respect to arriving/leaving, despite not counting time they spend chatting and what have you about non-work topics). The problem is, they’ve recently been mentioning they are struggling a bit to keep up with their workload, and I’m trying to figure out if I should address the nickel-and-diming on schedule or not. So far, we’ve been speaking about finding better organizational/time management strategies in general, plus talking about spending time mentoring other teammates so we have more flexibility in terms of who can be assigned which tasks- should I bother talking about their schedule at all?

    1. LaDeeDa*

      At the same time, if a fulltime job is 40 hours, and the work can’t be done by him or anyone else in that amount of time, then isn’t the workload too much?
      I struggle with this constantly. I never work only 40 hours, heck I never work less than 70. Whenever I push back on my leader, she tells me “it has to get done.” or she gets really passive aggressive and says “Fine! I’ll do it myself” *eye roll*
      However, I work really hard to make sure my direct reports have a reasonable workload. I don’t want them working 70 hours. I don’t think it right.

      1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

        “At the same time, if a fulltime job is 40 hours, and the work can’t be done by him or anyone else in that amount of time, then isn’t the workload too much?”

        You are 100% correct.

    2. Colette*

      I think it’s reasonable to point out that many people in their position work more than 40 hours a week, just because it probably affects the way your employee is perceived.

      How much time would it take for the employee to keep up? 42 hours? 60 hours? And for how long?

      If it’s a short-term problem that can be solved by working 45 hours for 3 weeks, bring it up. If it would require 45 hours permanently, adjust the workload.

    3. Beeblebrox*

      On behalf of every over-worked salaried exempt employee in the US, let me say: We are tired of the expectation that we will work over 40 hours and we are tired of employers taking advantage of this situation that enables under-staffing. There is nothing wrong with wanting to work 40 hours in a salaried job.

  52. Trendy*

    OP#3 I would look at actual job performance, not clock time to determine if a person is adding value to my company. One person may be more efficient and able to get all their work done, leaving time to make those extra cups of coffee while the second may be at their desk on time, work through lunch, and stay late but have a hard time finishing their task. I know which one I would value more.

  53. Krakatoa*

    Someone getting arrested once several years ago for a minor charge should not preclude them from being employed for the rest of their life. Ignore the charge and move on to the interview.

  54. LGC*

    So, LW1 seems to be getting dunked on a bit. And…okay, yeah, I agree with this for the most part.

    I guess I have a couple of questions:

    1) the LW stated that in their state, they weren’t allowed to ask about criminal history. But are they allowed to even consider it (if it’s not relevant to the position)? If not, they HAVE to ignore it.

    2) How relevant is the incident to the position? My instinct is that the answer is “not at all” – I think that the LW would have done a more formal check if it were relevant, and the incident was several years ago. (And honestly, I’d be more concerned about the disorderly conduct, but that might have just been included with the public urination.)

    But I could be wrong!

    I think the answers to those two questions determine how the LW should proceed. If the answer to either one is “no,” then don’t ask. And if the answer to both is “yes,” proceed with extreme caution (and HR). Again, I personally think this is the kind of charge that doesn’t matter, but that’s my opinion.

  55. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

    LW #3, I think you’re being a little persnickety about the time. Unless you’re working in an industry where 15 minutes can make or break a project, or they have jobs that require them to be physically in their seats every moment of the day with only the shortest possible break, I can’t see why what either of the two employees are doing that is so bad to deserve a reprimand.

    Then again, my office puts a huge emphasis on work-life balance and not overworking, which makes it pretty different from other offices in my industry (law). I am exempt and am still encouraged to be out the door at 5 if my work is done. (Non-exempt employees are required to be out the door at 5 because my office doesn’t want to pay overtime)

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Agreed! Unless they need coverage 8-4 as say customer service reps, then not answering phones or emails up until 4 may cause issues because most of us want to be assisted if we ring up 15 minutes before closing with a question about our account.

      But why should anyone be expected to get ready to leave off the clock? That’s a toxic behavior usually reserved for retail and call centers to be so militant about minutes and paid time.

      We all arrive, clock in and get our coffee or heat a bagel etc. I’m still there. If someone needs me as I walk in, they tell me and I’ll grab coffee afterwards in that case. If I have a meeting at 8, I’m at the meeting exactly without any dillydallying.

      Only if it effects their duties and ability to work should these things matter.

      We hear all about traffic in areas where if you’re not out by 3:58 each day you add an hour or whatever to your commute or miss daycare pick up or getting your meds from the pharmacy etc.

      Just chill and don’t micromanage time use unless you see performance issues attributed to the extra social time.

      If someone ever tells me “Oh I’ve got to make drinks first and then I’ll be able to help you” in the morning, then I’ll put a foot down. But even my worst nastiest boss gave me 10-15 minutes each morning post arrival to settle in and they were absolutely horrid humans inside and out. 8am is “be here” time not “nose to the stone and grinding away” time.

      1. A Nonny Nonny*

        I had a coworker whose hours were adjusted to give her a later start time (9:30 instead of 9:00), still rolled in 10-15 minutes late every day and then would make breakfast/coffee/chat with coworkers. Every day. So she wouldn’t actually start working until after 10 in a good day. And then she would complain about not getting projects done and require the rest of us to stop working on our projects to help her, it was extremely irritating.

  56. Amber Rose*

    I’ve never peed in public unless you count all those trees I ducked behind as a kid when we’d go camping and I avoided the outhouse at all costs. That said, I’ve SEEN more people urinate on buildings than I can count on fingers and toes. It may be a misdemeanor, but that’s hardly stopped any of the drunks/homeless in the city I used to live in from doing it.

    Why would you even address this with someone? I mean, what would you want to accomplish by doing so? Do you want him to apologize? Do you want him to promise never to do it again? Do you want reassurance he isn’t a serial pee-er? You don’t need any of that. It was one event years ago. You have all the answers you need from that.

  57. ArtK*

    OP#2, here’s something that has helped me immensely, since I’m someone who wants to jump in and solve problems: Just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean that you should do it. There are people whose jobs are to answer these questions and take care of these issues. Respect them and let them do their jobs. You might want to read the earlier post about an employee who won’t stay in her lane. You’re not doing that, but you’ve taken a step down that path.

  58. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    You shouldn’t be googling people until you’ve started the screening process, it leads to unwarranted judgements before they can even speak to you and give a first impression. It’s public urination, I’m stunned they wrote about it at all, did be pee on a police car tire or something, that’s bizarre. I’m originally from the nothing-happens-here small college town and they still find better things to write about. This must have been a mugshot shame newspaper or something?!

    We can’t even ask if you have a criminal background before the interview stage in this state so I’m also probably a little uptight about the quasi background check ruling him out immediately as well.

  59. SheLooksFamiliar*

    LW#1: An arrest is not a conviction. Not only is an arrest under the circumstances you list not hair-raising – it really isn’t! – you might not be able to lawfully use this information to make a hiring decision.

    First, you got this information in a less-than-reliable way – news stories are not legal documents. Second, you’re making a decision about someone on possibly faulty information you are not really entitled to at this stage of interview. If you decline him and he finds out why – say, he checks his online reputation and wonders if you did, too – you may have given him a good reason to open an investigation on your company.

    You need to check your state’s laws about arrests vs convictions in denying employment to a resident. You could also be violating your AAP if you have one, your own company’s hiring policies, and just doing the wrong thing. So check those too, please.

    Yeah, I’m a corporate staffing professional. Stuff like this has caused untold grief for my employers. Leave the background investigations for your finalist(s), and interview your candidate. If you need to do an actual background check later, you can then show it’s a defensible action for employment. And please be sure you know your legal standing about arrests and/or convictions in your state.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Thank you for this! I couldn’t articulate it well but was exactly my thoughts and knowledge of at very least our hiring regulations.

      Also you have to have signed authorization to run a background check. If it pops with anything a copy is also mailed to the candidate as a requirement here as well.

      Just like if your drug test comes back dirty, the doctor calls the patient and then the employer. Not just the employer who then gets to know the outcome and do with what they please.

  60. Roscoe*

    For number 1, you are the exact reason I’m against googling candidates. People find the most petty things and then want to hold that against them when it has nothing to do with the ability to do their job. Peeing in public? BFD. You sound super judgmental. I’m sure you have some things in your past you aren’t proud of either. Get over it. If he is a good candidate, bring him in.

    For number 3, I really think it depends on the job for how much I’d argue that you should say something, and that is for both people. The guy making drinks, no big deal. The person getting ready early? I mean, it depends. For example, I’m in sales. I work past the normal working hours of many people. So me packing up early really means nothing, because I likely wouldn’t talk to anyone those last 15 minutes anyway. I mean, sure you could say “stay at your desk and don’t pack up”, but if he is at his desk reading AAM for 15 minutes, is that really better than packing up his stuff?

  61. Retail*

    What is the commentariat position on the well known retail adage – “boss makes a dollar/i make a dime/that’s why I —- /on company time”

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I agree with it.

      I also loath “if you have time to lean, you have time to clean” that is thrown around places.

      I’m an accountant and abuse of power over minimum wage workers only costs more overall than the petty “omg we paid you 25c to make that cup of coffee that cost is 35c to provide to you!!” nonsense some managers try to focus on in those setups.

      I say this as a person who saves as many dollars as possible when purchasing things for the company. I saved us 4c a kcup by finding a sale and going hog wild. But I’ll never nitpick minutes of labor time unless it’s impacting work. If they’re taking smoke breaks every 45 minutes and missing deadlines or I’m catching overflow calls, then we chat about it. If they’re not responsive at all because coffee first, no talky till coffee every morning, then we chat. But most people aren’t like that in my experience.

    2. LCL*

      …that people who deliberately plan their bodily functions not for their needs but to make some point are petty.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Also FYI I sit by the restrooms, bosses do it on company time too. They don’t need to hold it for break times, neither do you!

  62. Jennifer*

    “Let she who has not peed cast the first stone.” Amen, sister! At least screen the guy and go from there.

  63. Kenneth*

    OP#1, first put in your mind the distinction between an ARREST and a CONVICTION. The former may lead to the latter, but the former is NOT the latter. If the candidate was never convicted nor pled guilty, don’t put another thought to this. I’d say “presumption of innocence”, but being caught in the act is the only way someone can actually be arrested for this in the vast majority of cases.

    At the same time, are you sure the blurb in the newspaper is your candidate? Did you find a picture to go along with the name (which you could match to a LinkedIn profile), or just the name? Finding a candidate’s name in the local newspaper doesn’t mean you’ve found your candidate in the local newspaper. Obviously I can’t know the candidate’s name, or where you’re located, so I can’t speak to how common the person’s name is in your area.

    But presuming all of the above, that it ended up in a newspaper is non-consequential in my opinion. A lot of people think or presume that something being printed in a newspaper means it’s newsworthy, and that’s not always the case. It sounds to me like this was a space filler, or some kind of “local police blotter” type section in a paper. Newspapers have space to fill, every square inch matters, and every square inch of every page must be filled.

    So that a story that likely normally wouldn’t have been run at all ended up in a newspaper isn’t something I’d find noteworthy. How often does “public urination” end up in *any* newspaper? It just means the newspaper didn’t have anything better to run. And that’s true of both small town and metropolitan area newspapers. Especially since the vast majority of felony and misdemeanor arrests, trials, and convictions, and civil lawsuits, never make it into the local paper.

    I’d say to put this out of your mind, but you likely won’t be able to, given you felt so strongly about this to write into AAM to ask how to handle this.

    1. Midwest Writer*

      Yes to all of this. I’ve been a reporter at papers as small as 1,500 circulation weekly to 100,000 circulation daily and the police blotter type stuff is totally dependent on space, what mood the reporter is in, how big of a deal the police officers make of the situation, what other events have details available … and on and on. Sometimes, some officers have a better report-writing style that catches the reporter’s attention. So many variables.

      1. R.D.*

        Whether or not it makes a good headline… Like in the case of this poor girl. :(
        http://www.timescall.com/ci_22983035/longmont-police-thrift-shop-song-leads-woman-push
        https://www.westword.com/music/macklemore-song-allegedly-drives-longmont-woman-to-assault-her-boyfriend-on-his-birthday-5687750

        http://www.dailycamera.com/ci_23015109/longmont-womans-arrest-over-thrift-shop-fight-makes

        “Although Malson was not named in the Times-Call, The Smoking Gun, Huffington Post, New York Observer and dozens of other media outlets used her name, mugshot and police report in stories in print, on video and online. Those stories detailed an argument that started over drinking alcohol and escalated when the song was played over and over and she asked him to turn it off and stop singing. She said he “got in her face” and she pushed him away. According to police reports she also choked him. She called police reporting that he hurt her wrist during a physical altercation.”

  64. Michaela Westen*

    #3, the 3:45 finisher sounds like my former colleague, except she was worse.
    She was supposed to start at 8am and often didn’t come in till 8:20 or later. But she didn’t make up the time. She spent her last 20 minutes getting ready to go and was out the door at 4:28.
    She did this for several months as a temp, and they still hired her. She continued for several years, and only in the last year or so did I see her stay later than 4:30 occasionally. Maybe someone said something… then she was laid off a few months ago.
    She was also unfriendly and never on top of her work. I don’t miss her.

  65. LawBee*

    #3 – are they both getting their work done? Are you otherwise happy with their performance? (Are you their supervisor?) If they’re hourly paid, are they reporting their time accurately? If those are yes, then let this go. They’re adults, not children, they’re doing what they’re being paid to do, this is really not a big deal. Dinging someone for a couple of minutes is really petty. I don’t think I’ve ever worked in an office where people started their work at exactly the beginning of the day and worked solid through to the very last minute. Even when I was a cashier in high school, you got a couple of minutes at both ends after clocking in to put your stuff in your locker, etc.

    The guy who leaves at 3:58, I can see why that’s annoying but you seem to be annoyed that he starts bang at 8am as well as leaving “early” – so I’m actually wondering if you just don’t like him, or are irritated by him for other reasons.

    Regardless, this is so small that is verging on petty. If it isn’t impacting their work, let it go.

  66. Greg*

    Re: OP#1: Doesn’t sound like this was the case here, since the arrest was written up in a local paper, but everyone should be aware that there are scummy websites that collect mugshots, juice up their search-engine ranking, and then extort people to have them taken down (which doesn’t even help, since another website can do the same thing five minutes after the first one removes it). The NY Times did a whole piece on the practice a few years ago: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/business/mugged-by-a-mug-shot-online.html

    If you are researching a candidate and come across one of these photos, I would urge everyone to ignore them and not punish the candidate, since doing so will only serve to validate these sites’ business models. I know that one person’s actions probably won’t have an impact — and obviously it’s a different story if you discover they were arrested for a serious crime that is directly relevant toward their ability to do the job — but I believe it’s incumbent on all of us not to reward evil.

  67. DM*

    OP1: let it go. Unless there was a photo and you’ve met the guy, you cannot even be sure it’s the same person. Does he have a more common name or an unusual name, for example? If it happened a number of years ago, and he has a solid work history since, there’s no real reason to consider it. Finally, you just say arrest — not conviction. So you really shouldn’t consider a solitary arrest from years ago, for something relatively minor, when you can’t even be sure it’s the same person (I presume), and you don’t know that he was convicted (or do you?).

    1. MizShrew*

      This. I have a common name, and when I bought a house I had to verify that I wasn’t one of several people with the same name who had assorted credit issues — up to and including fraud convictions.

      Unless you have a photo in the article (unlikely for this kind of arrest), then you don’t even know if it’s the same person as your candidate. Even if it is, I don’t think it matters, but the point is the OP is making a big assumption that may be totally wrong and really unfair to the candidate.

      Diligently check those references and leave it at that.

  68. Lucille2*

    #3 – I think what kind of work these employees do should be taken into consideration as well. For the 2nd, if the employee has to adhere to a strict cut off time because they need to catch the bus or pick up kids from daycare, then it makes sense they would need to start packing it in before 4. Also, if you get to a good stopping point at 3:45, and there aren’t any tasks that can be completed in 15 minutes, then enforcing some rule about being productive until end of shift will push this employee to drag things out a little longer or make an effort to appear busy until the end of shift. You’re not going to gain anything.

    I might also notice employees who make every effort not to work a few minutes longer than their actual shift. But I don’t think you can squeeze more productive time out of these kind of people. Any comment from a manager will just push the behavior underground. It’s not likely to solve anything. Consider if this is just a symptom of other performance issues, and you’re starting to get annoyed with the little things at this point.

  69. cheluzal*

    3: Let’s be real, none of us work for free. I work the assigned hours to make someone else too much money, all to eke out a living in my one little life I’m given. Here in the US, we work too much, IMO. So if I’m paid 8-4, I’m working 8-4.

    Yes, I have done lots of later stuff without pay, but as I age, I am out on time (not early and no 15 minute pack-up). It’s just not worth it. I’d rather be with my child.

  70. poop doctor*

    well – if you want to hold a chair down for 40 hours a week just get a trash bag, fill it with sand and put it on the chair. if you want results from employees, hire people who get results and don’t treat them like you’re running a fucking mcdonald’s.

  71. teclatrans*

    Re #3:

    One of my very first jobs (at age 18, not that long our of high school) was in a law office where the office manager led the charge to the door every day at 4:55pm (sometimes as early as 4:50). Not OUT the door, TO the door. All the legal secretaries plus the office manager, clumped together with their purses and coats, waiting for the clock to strike 5 and then racing out the door together when it did. It seemed bizarre to me, even lacking any knowledge of professional norms. (I also sucked at being on time, so I did things like shorten my breaks or lunch, or stay 10 minutes late — though, since the office manager was never there after hours, I got no credit for this.)

    I admit that the above behavior is an outlier, but I do wonder if the second person came from a different environment, with different expectations. (For the record, though, I think 15 minutes of wrap-up is fine, so long as you don’t spend the last 5 minutes sitting there with coat in hand just waiting for the freedom of 5pm, and OP should loosen the reins and step back a bit.)

    Upon reflection, is it possible that “arrives before 8am but doesn’t work” is really what feels outputting? Since it is likely the early arrival has to do with commute patterns, what if you speak with this employee and offer him flexibility to start and end 10 minutes early (or 30, or whatever)?

  72. Collingswood*

    I assume the whole point of laws that say you can’t ask about criminal histories is to allow people to recover and reintegrate into society after they’ve paid their penalty, served time, whatever. I understand your reservation, but taking this into account would to me certainly violate the spirit of the law. It seems like your state has made the decision that this is an important way to help people move on with their lives and I’d go ahead and let it do that here, esp given the nature of the offense.

  73. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

    OP#1 – I am surprised that this hasn’t been addressed yet: Stop googling candidates, period. It leads to potentially coming across what would otherwise be protected class or sensitive information and if you don’t consider the person for employment you could be in hot water. In fact, it sounds like that may potentially be the case here (just because it’s public record doesn’t mean it isn’t considered protected class), so let it go.

    1. Orange Crush*

      Excellent point. What if someone is mentioned online as a volunteer for a member of a charity or support org for a particular disease or disability? Quoted in a local news article about the PTA for their child’s school? Not substantially different from requesting personal info about family status or health, and possibly worse, because the candidate can’t refuse or contextualize. Even if the hiring committee is comprised of perfectly lovely people, unconscious bias is real. And a big deal.

    2. Observer*

      It also often leads to useful information. They key is NOT to not look for information, but to understand what to filter.

      There is nothing protected about either being drunk or peeing in public, so that’s not an issue here. What IS an issue here is whether this is USEFUL information or not. Given that this seems to be a singular event that happened several years ago, I doubt it’s highly useful. On the other hand, had this been recent it would have been a potentially useful and possibly even important piece of information.

    3. Jennifer*

      Completely disagree. There is useful information you can find that wouldn’t necessarily come up on a background check. They key is using discretion and figuring out what kind of information is valuable and instead of holding every mistake from their past against them. People are going to have to learn to do this a lot more as kids whose entire lives are on social media begin to enter the workforce.

      1. MizShrew*

        And then again, you could make a false assumption because the information you pull up is for someone else with the same name, in the same region (there are multiple people with my name in my city, and on one occasion there was two of us in different offices of the same company). So you Google them and think you discover something relevant and actually just lose out on a good job candidate due to a false assumption.

  74. Gilmore67*

    Although I agree it can petty in some ways to call out employees who come in a few mins late to work my question is why is it OK to show up late to work to start with?

    That is my question. Why IS it OK for an employee not to show up to work at the time the company states? And let’s not say the work doesn’t depend on it because that is not really the issue I am talking about. And I am not talking about commuting issues. Just basic being late.

    If I am told the hours are 8-4:30 I show up between 7:50-7:55 and punch at 8. I don’t just decide it is OK to show up later. Just because.

    So, my question is again….. why it is OK not to NOT show up at the assigned time?

    And my next question is… if you were checking references and the person said that Wilma was late a lot would you still hire her? If you had a choice between Wilma who was late a lot and Betty who was not late, both having equal background, would you go with the late one or one time one?

    I am guessing you’d all go with Betty. Even is Wilma was late “ Only a few mins” but a lot would you all just say.. cool no problem or go with Betty who just simply was never late?

    I mean really, you can make an argument for both sides. Yes petty for write up for a few mins late, but why can’t the employee just simply show up when they are supposed to?

    1. whingedrinking*

      Let’s add another variable to your calculus: Betty is a so-so employee with a terrible attitude, while Wilma is a brilliant worker who brings a huge amount of value to the company.
      Being on time is one of those things that some people have more difficulty with than others. For jobs where punctuality matters absolutely, then yes, the fact that Wilma is always five minutes late will be a big deal. For jobs where it’s not, Betty should be passed over and Wilma given the position.

      1. Gilmore67*

        My basic scenario was they are both the same in all matters. And my question is still.. why can’t employees just show up to work on time?

        They are expected to show up to the interview on time or else that doesn’t reflect well on them right? You’d think…. wow they are late, not good. That might make or break their chances. Especially if they are cavalier about it.

        I just find it funny that that same employee can’t be late to the interview because it will look bad, but being late to work is OK.

        I am simply trying to ask why is it OK to be late? When there appears to be no reason why they should be late. I am not talking about work ability or personality to make it OK. Just the simple act of being late.

        Again I am by no means saying the late employees are bad and need to be written up. Not at all.

        Again just trying to understand why it is OK to be late?

        1. Perpal*

          I think your hypothetical scenario is a bit irrelevant; all else being equal, any negative trait (up to and including “chews too loud”) might push you towards the other candidate. Because, everything else is equal? And I’m assuming in your scenario you can only hire one!
          I think the point Allison and others are trying to make is, outside of jobs where timing is relevant, time spent at a desk is less important that productivity, so what should be focused on is whether or not the person is performing at or above expectations, meeting deadlines and goals, etc, not what time their butt is in a chair.

            1. JLH*

              You want to avoid burnout when you can. The assumption here is that employees should be expected to maintain a reasonable level of productivity; I don’t know that you can genuinely measure what an “8 hour day” looks like in most professions.

              I remember distinctly being grateful when my mother decided to have me transferred into my elementary school’s multi-age programming when I entered second grade because it was tailored in a way that let me participate in advanced course work with the grade above me but also was kinda groovy about letting kids utilize free time. I was so relieved because she did this after we both met with who would have been my second grade teacher and she made it a point to tell my mother she’d make sure there was always work for me to do; i.e. I wouldn’t be able to free read when I finished worksheets/assignments early. The need for that kind of ebb and flow doesn’t leave as we get older.

              Understandably there are positions where a certain level of coverage is needed, and I’m not saying my boss should let me take time to go lay out in the reading castle with a book after I finish a hearing preparation (doesn’t stop me dreaming about it, though- shout out to that multi-age classroom for real). But if I got a hand smack every time I took a brief walk around the block when my clients were stressing me out, or if I got pulled into a meeting because my boss wasn’t happy that I took the time in the morning to make my coffee and greet my coworkers, it would really drain my morale.

              Point being is OP #3 needs to consider if the work is suffering due to these time discrepancies, or if it’s something that just needs to be let go because it’s really not making a difference.

      2. Mellow*

        But what if other employees know your hours are 8-4, and someone needs to ask an important question and needs an answer on the fly, but can’t ask because you’ve left at 3:45?

        People expect their corworkers to be at work between certain hours, unless flex time is a variable, and even then, that time frame is known.

        Gilmore67 is spot on. At what point did some people decide they are islands unto themselves, working in a vacuum?

        1. SenatorMeathooks*

          Excluding specific time-sensitive, hourly, or shift work such as a call center or retail, I don’t think it’s realistic for an employer to demand 100% perfect adherence to the clock. It fosters an environment of tension and distrust between workers and management and encourages optics over substance, which is always a terrible foundation in a business culture and ultimately impacts the bottom line. Employees are getting paid because they can do a job and produce. While it’s obviously not unreasonable to require people to adhere to business hours, people will resent it if you penalize them for a comparatively minor infraction when they are otherwise consistently performing well in all other metrics. You didn’t hire robots, you hired people.

          Also, there’s a lot of technological solutions available if my co-workers need to ask me a question because I had to kick off 15 minutes early to go to my doctor’s appointment.

  75. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    OP#1: I have no particular opinion on this one, but now that I think about it… If I had to count the number of strangers (men) that I have seen peeing in public, I would run out of fingers and toes.

  76. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    OP#3: This is a nothingburger, OP. When you start counting butt-in-seat by the minute in single digit numbers, something is amiss with your management style. OP says nothing about any performance issues, so I assume there are none. OP says nothing about the lack of minute-to-minute coverage impacting the business operations, so I assume there is no impact. OP, why does this rankle you so much? It does indeed seem petty.

    If an employee produces work every minute of an 8 hour day (excluding lunch/bathroom breaks), then I regret to inform you that the employee is either an android or a pod person from outer space. Definitely not a human being, because human beings do not produce work every minute of their work day. Surely the OP is not tracking every non-productive minute of these employees’ days?

  77. Jennifer Juniper*

    I think OP3 could be doing just that. There is keyboard-monitoring software and there are cameras that can be mounted everywhere unseen. Plus locator devices implanted in employee badges. Plus making employees sign in and out whenever they need to use the restroom, take lunch, take a break.

    I hope I didn’t just give OP3 any ideas!

  78. Stuff*

    I think #2 should go farther and say when helping someone that in the future they would like to not be the default go to person. That in the future they should go to the on call person as their first option. Then if there is something they cannot help with they can come to you but that their own duties come before being the default help desk. Otherwise people will still come to you first and you will be constantly having to push them off.

  79. Finance is Fun*

    3#

    There is a team at work at the moment who are constantly crying out at how busy/overworked they are.

    However, several of them count their 8 hours as from when they walk in to when they walk out, including the 30 minutes they spend getting their first coffee, breakfast and gossip, then their lunch breaks, then their four smoke breaks etc etc. Plus no matter what time of day you walk past them, they are on Facebook, online shopping sites, personal phone calls etc. The entire floor (so teams outside their department) have noticed, it’s a running joke.

    We are all salaried on this floor, and most of us only have to do 40 hrs, with occasionally going over when some project is on. A lot of us have helped pitch in and help that team, but now refuse, once we realised the workload is totally reasonable for an actual 8 hours of effort.

    One person who used to be in that team only put in like 7 hours at her desk, but completed all her work, extra projects and helped her team with their workload. No one really batted an eyelid at her longer lunches etc, because she got her work done.

    So, for your employees – do they get everything done? If so, I don’t think it’s a huge deal. If they are not getting their work done, then I think it’s a bigger issue.

  80. Wrench Turner*

    #1 Local papers are great sometimes for catching important stories that would be missed and sometimes they’re horrible because they catch things that should be lost to the sands of time. Cops having a bad night can say you’re peeing “in public” anywhere that isn’t a marked bathroom, even if you’re off in the woods out of sight and someone just called them because they saw someone dart off from a pulled-over car.

    If it’s easy to run a background check for any other arrest records, do it, and act accordingly with the results. Unless there’s something else drastic with it, it was probably one poor -but otherwise harmless- choice on a rowdy night. If the case was more than 5 years ago and they paid their debt to society without any other issues, ignore it. If it was more recent ‘years ago’ then bring it up that you found it on a quick Goog search and ask them about it, and point out the bathroom should they need it.

  81. Ms Cappuccino*

    OP1 You know that peeing in public is not illegal in plenty of countries in the world. Not a big deal as long as he didn’t show the whole package (more difficult if it is a ‘she’). I am surprised that someone gets arrested over this.
    Please don’t take that into account in your judgement.

  82. MJ*

    Alison, one of the odd benefits of reading your blog has been that I see occasionally a potential future problem in myself and can get ahead of it.

    In number 3, I AM employee number 1 – I’m usually in around 8:02, and futz/get comfy for myself the first few minutes of the day, offering to top off people’s coffee with the fresh pot I’ve made and such. It’s not been a problem as far as I can tell, but this does remind me to keep it on my radar as something that could very easily go sideways and become more inappropriate, given business needs, my performance, and how it effects my image.

    For now I’m not likely to modify this behavior, but it’s for sure something I’ll be more aware of at the least. You help more than just the letter writers.

  83. DT*

    OP1–
    Once, when I was 20, my bf and I were driving down PCH in Northern CA in his teeny, rattling Fiat Spyder, in the middle of a punishing rainstorm, and slow progress prevented us from getting to anywhere with a bathroom. We peed by the side of the road.
    Another time, years later, I was hiking in a slot canyon with my husband and teenage son and was stricken with a terrible IBS attack, and had diarrhea, semi-hidden behind a tree.
    I am a middle aged woman with a plump, pleasant demeanor. My public urinations and defecations have had no bearing on my 35-year professional career as a screenwriter.
    People sometimes have to urinate or worse in public. If they’re really unfortunate, a policeman happens along.

  84. DilbertFromNJ*

    Regarding comment #3 – I would like more information regarding the company’s office setup. Our office recently moved to all hoteling – no fixed desks, no reservations. So I have a locker way over there….a coat closet somewhere else, and then I have to search for an open desk. At the end of the day, I need to clean my desk spic-n-span. I have to take my laptop and all work papers with me, since I have no place to store them. You can bet this is all on company time. (And BTW, as a programmer, OT is part of the job expectations anyway)

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