telling my friend I don’t want to hire her, employer loves me but is still interviewing other people, and more

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

1. How to tell my friend I don’t want to hire her

I was recently made manager of a small tourist shop. The shop is open six months out of the year and my job is to hire/fire, order supplies, and keep the place up and running. It gets rather busy during the summer, when we’re usually open 13 hours/day, seven days a week. I’m planning on hiring two people to help cover shifts.

One of my friends wants me to hire her. She said that she needs more money to help pay bills. I’m reluctant to, because she rage quit almost every job she’s had in the last three years. She’s not supposed to be driving, but does it anyway. She told me she’d only want 20 hours a week and that she doesn’t want to be scheduled before 3 pm because of another job. But that won’t work with three people on the schedule (me, her, another employee).

How do I inform her that I don’t feel comfortable hiring her, especially with her track record? I like being friends with this person, but I need to hire someone that won’t storm out or complain about the hours.

Well, she’s making it really easy for you! You just can tell her, “I need people with more availability so it won’t work out!”

But if for some reason that doesn’t work (she says she’ll work more hours or whatever), then you can say, “I value our friendship too much to risk it. Too many friendships get ruined when one person becomes the other’s boss.” If necessary, you can add, “You rage-quit a bunch of jobs in the last three years! That’s not something I can risk for the store or for our friendship.”

2. My raise is being replaced with a benefit I can’t use

I work for a very small company (I’m one of four people in it). We all work remotely, and my colleagues and boss are great people. I enjoy what I do; the only issue I have is that the compensation isn’t great, but I knew that going in and accepted it for what it was.

The problem now is that my boss decided, with no input from me, that my entire raise this year will be the company setting up a 401k for me, with the company matching whatever contributions I put into it. I’m glad that he cares so much about my future, but the issue is that I support two people entirely on $30,000 a year, and I very literally cannot afford to make monthly contributions to a 401k, even at the lowest level. It would be a great benefit to have if I could afford it, but as it is, this means I’m effectively getting no raise this year when I was expecting a modest one (given past years), and my boss thinks he’s fairly compensating me by giving me something that I just cannot use. How do I bring this up with my boss, who has already made the decision and put the process into motion before telling me about it?

Tell him directly! Say something like this: “I really appreciate you thinking to set up a retirement plan, and it’s something I’d hope to be able to take advantage of in the future. But right now, with my salary at its current level, there’s no way I can afford to contribute to it. If I’m understanding correctly that your intention was for the company match to substitute in for my raise this year, would you be open to doing a regular raise instead, since I won’t be able to get the match?” (Some key things about that wording: You’re expressing appreciation that he thought of this, being straightforward about why it won’t benefit you, and not taking for granted that you have the option to substitute a raise instead. That last bit is there because whether or not you should be able to take it for granted, some managers will bristle if you sound like you are.)

3. If they love me, why are they interviewing other candidates?

I interviewed recently for my dream company, for my dream job. I did three interviews and felt like the company and role would be a great fit.

They told me they would be in touch, and today (two weeks since first interview) the recruiter rang me to say they love me and loved my case study but they have to complete interviewing the other applicants so right now they don’t have a decision.

I was a little perplexed because if you love me, then why don’t you offer me the job? I do not have a second language so I wonder if they are holding out for someone with that. (The role does not require a second language, but it is desirable.) I’m interviewing for other roles but nothing as exciting as this. Should I mention that to them to push them to make a decision?

It’s really normal for companies to want to interview a minimum number of candidates before making a decision (generally at least three, sometimes more). Sometimes that’s because of their own internal rules, and sometimes it’s that they figure it’s just smart hiring — which it is. It doesn’t make sense to hire the first person you interview when the second or third person may be even stronger. That doesn’t mean that you’re not strong; it just means that it’s smart to make sure you’re getting the best person you can, and hiring the first person you like isn’t the way to do that.

Or this could just mean they like you but they’re not sold yet. (Recruiters sometimes pep things up in a way that can turn “they thought you were pretty good” into “they love you!”) That’s fine and normal; it doesn’t mean they won’t hire you in the end, but it also doesn’t mean they will. That’s just how this stuff goes.

There’s no point in telling them at this stage that you’re interviewing for other jobs. They assume you are. If you get to the point of getting an offer, at that point you can let them know that, and that they’re your first choice, and ask if they can expedite things. (Which they might do, but also might not.) Meanwhile, though, I’d try to remember that there’s no way to know from the outside if this is really your dream job and try to put it out of your head as much as possible.

4. Will my coworker’s statement to a recruiter reflect badly on me?

A couple of weeks ago a recruiter reached out about a job. I passed the screening round and the first meeting with a manager. We set up time a few weeks from now to meet again. Today, that same recruiter reached out to my coworker/friend. My coworker responded to the recruiter saying that they would prefer that I finish the recruitment process before they engage with the recruiter/employer. I did NOT ask my coworker to say this. Does this reflect poorly on me? What would you recommend I do, if anything at all?

Did they reach out to ask your coworker to apply for the same job? If so,  I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Your coworker was basically saying “I don’t want to compete with a friend/colleague” and that’s fine. (It might mean that they don’t get a shot at all, but it sounds like they’re willing to risk that.) It shouldn’t reflect poorly on you.

But if you mean they contacted your coworker for a reference for you and the coworker wanted to wait until further in the process … that’s not a great thing for a friend to do, so I’m hoping that’s not what happened. But if it is, check with the recruiter to find out if they’re fine with waiting until later in the process (they should be, but if they’re not, you can explain that to your friend and ask if they’d be willing to do the call now).

5. Boss wants employee to work for free to cover the cost of a mistake

I have a coworker, “Jane,” who made a spelling mistake on the front cover of an expensive printed report (similar to “connnected” vs “connected”). It was caught internally and corrected, but an old file was accidentally grabbed by Jane and the mistake was printed.

Jane was devastated over this mistake and completely owned up to our boss/owner and the client. Our client passed out most of the reports but has about 200 booklets left that we are going to take the cover off and replace it. It’s costing the company about $1,000.

While I think accidents happen occasionally and it’s the cost of doing business, our boss is ticked off and will not let it go. He now thinks that Jane should work for free to cover the cost. She was talking to me and said she was just going to do it to get him to let it go. I responded that I was pretty sure it was illegal (California) for him to ask that. Am I off-base that the cost of these mistakes (while unfortunate) should be covered by the company vs the person who made them?

You are not off-base. Mistakes happen occasionally and are the cost of doing business. It’s not at all okay to ask an employee to work for free to cover the cost of them (or to pay for them outright), and it’s also illegal. It’s illegal for employees to work for free, and in some states, including California, it’s illegal for employers to pass business expenses along to employees.

Employers can discipline people for mistakes, of course, up to and including firing them. But they can’t shift the cost.

{ 321 comments… read them below }

  1. Nonee*

    OP1, I’m kind of sensing that you’re worried your friend will rage at you for turning her down. It might be time to consider whether this is a friend you really want at all! And if she does go off at you for saying no, that could be a really good data point in your decision to stay friends with her or not.

    1. Observer*


      She not only sounds like a nightmare to work with but also just a . . . difficult . . . character to deal with. The kind of thing that causes someone to rage quite MULTIPLE TIMES in a 3 YER times span is almost certainly not going to be contained at work. And, I’d also question the judgement and reliability on all levels of someone who drives even though they are not supposed to.

      1. JM60*

        What really makes me question her judgment is that she rate quits 3 jobs in a year, then says she needs more money. It’s possible that she had unforseen financial costs since quitting those jobs (like medical bills), but most people with decent judgements aren’t going to be rage quitting multiple jobs when they really need the money.

    2. LGC*

      I agree that the friend is likely going to be really angry at LW1, and LW1 needs to be ready for the friendship to end over this. (Or at least be strained for a while.) It seems like you’re suggesting that LW1 should consider ending the friendship because their friend makes very questionable decisions, which…I’m a bit more iffy on, myself. (And yes, I’m aware that “very questionable decisions” is one of the biggest understatements ever written on AAM.)

      That said, hiring this friend is definitely going to end the friendship, so it’d be kinder to just not even make it a possibility.

      1. Willis*

        Your last sentence is a really good point. It doesn’t sound like turning this friend down will go over remotely well (even though she’s not even available to work the hours you need!), but whatever the difficulty, it will be a fraction of what it would be to actually hire and work with her.

      2. Psyche*

        Not only would hiring the friend probably end the friendship, it could also harm the OPs reputation at work. She has no track record yet of making good hires. If I worked with someone who was recently promoted and their first act was to hire a friend who was unprofessional and difficult to work with, it would make me seriously doubt her professional judgement.

        1. boo bot*

          Yes. The OP can either damage the friendship alone, or the friendship + the professional reputation, so do the least harm to the fewest things and don’t hire the friend. (also, the friend’s really the one doing the damage if she doesn’t graciously accept that you can’t hire her.)

      3. smoke tree*

        If the LW chooses to end this friendship, I think it will mostly be down to the friend’s actions. For one thing, it’s not very considerate to ask your friend for a job (for your own convenience) knowing that your own employment history is a mess. If she doesn’t appreciate this and gets angry at the LW, that’s also on her.

        Also, while I am certainly fine with having friends whose choices I disagree with, I’m not sure I would be okay being friends with someone who recklessly endangers others, which may be the case for this friend if she’s driving illegally. I think that’s a reasonable line to draw.

        1. LGC*

          True. I’m being a bit sanguine on this because driving on a suspended license can mean…a few things. Her license might be suspended because of a court issue (for example, not paying child support). She could live in an area where the only reasonable way to get around is to drive. Or she could be a self centered jerk.

          My guess is that it’s a combination of those reasons. So I didn’t want to assume she was definitely being reckless because of driving on a suspended license.

          1. t.i.a.s.p.*

            Even if the reason that her licence isn’t suspended wasn’t egregious, the fact of driving with a suspended licence itself is. My brother is friends with someone who was severely injured – as in it will affect her for the rest of her life – in a car accident where the other driver was at fault but was driving while suspended and didn’t have any significant assets. The lack of insurance by the other driver added a layer of financial difficulties to her already onerous medical ones.

            1. Nic*

              This. It really doesn’t matter why her license is suspended – the suspecsion totally negates any insurance she has, which means if she gets in an accident, neither she nor anyone else involved can claim on it. That’s a type of risky (and selfish) behaviour all on its own.

        2. Michaela Westen*

          If it helps OP, I’ve found the right time to end a friendship is when it becomes too much work and I feel like, “oh God, this again”… or thinking about them makes me tired… or I find myself dragging when it’s time to meet them…
          There’s nothing wrong with bowing out of a friendship when necessary. It happens.

      4. Aphrodite*

        I think the friendship is over if the OP hires her friend. I think the friendship is also over if the OP doesn’t hired her friend. Either way . . . it won’t work out for the friendship to continue (in all likelihood).

      5. Observer*

        I don’t think that the OP NEEDS to end the friendship. But they really should think about how much effort they are willing to make to preserve the friendship in this context.

        1. Aphrodite*

          I wasn’t thinking about the OP ending the friendship but the friend who may be angry that she won’t be hired or, if she is hired, that it (likely) doesn’t work out. Just the friend asking, in my opinion, put the friendship on the line–and neither answer is going to save it. Unfortunately, the OP is damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Is there any conceivable reason your staff would have to drive *for the job*? If yes, your company insurance would probably not allow you to hire someone with a history of driving illegally or a revoked driver’s license. (Never learned to drive is easier – the insurance company can mark them down as a non-driver.)
      (Might sound excessive for shop staff, but I’m thinking of one early job where “other duties as assigned” included a run to buy a bulk-pack of TP after a leak was discovered in the storage closet…)

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        True. I thought it was weird at first that the fast food place I worked at in high school wanted to know if you never got a license, or had a license and everything was good on it until we ran out of bananas and needed someone to make a quick run to get an armful to cover till the end of the day until the stock truck came in.

        1. Former Barista*

          Starbucks too. Hilarious to buy 15 pounds of bananas and 25 gallons of milk at once at the grocery store.

          1. Burned Out Supervisor*

            I work part time at Trader Joe’s and we always have staff from convenience stores and Starbucks availing themselves of our 19 cent bananas.

      2. Light37*

        Yeah, you never know. I had a student job that required me to drive a university-owned van on occasion under “other duties as assigned.” I worked in a special library and the main library was over a mile away on roads that weren’t really walkable, so when copies had to be made at the main library, we drove over (no bus service during the summer.)
        I also worked in a public library where I had to drive from my branch to one 20 miles away to take some supplies over one morning- that was terrifying, it was winter and I hadn’t driven in months.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Dan Savage once had this insight along the lines that you can have a friend who’s kinda a jerk and people understand that, but if you have a romantic partner who’s kinda a jerk people look on you with a mixture of derision and pity. I think it’s not that unusual to have a friend whom you wouldn’t make under your current circumstances, but have kept around on a limited basis after past circumstances drew you together.

      Up until now this friend’s penchant for drama has splashed all over other people, not the OP. Were they to become coworkers this would stop being the case, but if they avoid such changes in their relationship the friend can be someone you occasionally get lunch with and reminisce about summer camp.

      1. Massmatt*

        Yeah it sounds as though right now the friendship is compartmentalized from the friend’s issues with work, bosses, etc but if she works for you or even with you that won’t be possible.

        Saying you need more availability might work but what if she says she can work more because she rage quits her current job? Maybe better to try to remain non-specific and say friendship and work don’t mix.

    5. Artemesia*

      And this rage is nothing as bad as hiring her would be. This is one where a little courage up front saves a long long misery.

    6. Jennifer*

      Good point. This isn’t just someone who is a little flaky and moves from job to job a lot. I have been friends with people like that and though I probably wouldn’t hire them they can be good people at heart and fun to be around. This person “rage quits” every job. One time may have been extenuating circumstances. But this much is a sign of a deeper problem.

    7. ChimericalOne*

      I agree with all of Alison’s advice for OP 1 except for the last line. Friend almost certainly thinks she was justified in rage-quitting those jobs. If OP mentions it, Friend will only get defensive (along the lines of “Wow, you’re going to hold it against me that I walked out on a couple nightmare jobs?!”) or argumentative (along the lines of, “Yeah, I quit those in a huff because they were HORRIBLE. Working for you wouldn’t be HORRIBLE, duh! So no worries!”).
      OP should stick with, “We need someone with more availability / flexibility,” “I value our friendship too much to do this,” and then, finally, if Friend pushes, “I’m sorry, I just can’t! If you want help looking over your resume, I’d be happy to — I really want to help you out — but I can’t hire you at Tourist Biz.” Folks have a tendency to think they need to keep giving reasons, but giving reasons can open you up to extended arguments. “I just can’t” (and then holding firm to it) ends the argument.
      (And if it doesn’t, there’s always, “Can we please talk about something else? I’m sorry I can’t help, but I can’t.”)
      But yes, this may ultimately come down to a lost friendship.

    8. Old fat lady*

      She shouldn’t hire her friend even if there weren’t issues – just to be fair to her other employees. If the friend had crappy jobs, this is one reason that she may understood.

      There is nothing worse than seeing the friend/connection/relative of the boss receive special favors. This would destroy the motivation of other employees quicker than anything!

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#5, this is very illegal, and your boss is putting your company at great risk. If it’s a for-profit, he’s flat-out violating the FLSA. And not only is the company going to owe Jane her unpaid wages, it’s probably going to wrack up the following violations of California labor law (all of which come with $ damages):

    – minimum wage violation
    – wage statement violation (for failing to credit the true number of hours Jane worked)
    – expense reimbursement violation
    – untimely pay violation (if he fails to pay her and then later has to correct the error by late-paying her)
    – an overtime pay or exempt violation (depends on Jane’s classification & hours worked)
    – (if Jane sues) PAGA penalties

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d add that even if it’s a nonprofit, he still can’t do it — nonprofits can have volunteers, but employees can’t volunteer to do their own jobs for free.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Yes! I apologize if I made it look like it’s ok in the nonprofit context.

        Under the FLSA, it’s a bright-line rule for for-profits (no “volunteer” or unpaid work by employees), and a different test for nonprofits. But in this case it’s unlawful in both contexts. And expensive under federal and California law.

        1. VictorianCowgirl*

          Yes, I had to drop a non profit client who wouldn’t stop withholding an employee’s paycheck contingent on them raising more donations. This violated my no-assholes rule, along with certain standards I have learned to make mandatory, one being not asking me to turn a blind eye to illegal acts. The employee later sued and all-told this cost the client almost $200k.

        2. LGC*

          So, derailing slightly – how does the test for non-profits work? My intuition is that in this case it’s functionally the same since 1) Fergus is forcing Jane to 2) perform a core job duty unpaid. And either one of those being true makes it problematic, right?

          (Part of the reason I’m asking is that I work for a nonprofit myself! So I’m genuinely curious.)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Just #2 matters. Nonprofit employees cannot volunteer (or be assigned) to do their own duties unpaid. For example, a bookkeeper could volunteer to at their organization’s dinner gala, but couldn’t “volunteer” their time to process invoices.

            1. Save One Day at a Time*

              Yup! If you work in the school cafeteria where your kids go, you could volunteer in your kids’ classroom to read to students, but if it has to do with food service or is in the cafeteria, chances are they need to be paying you.

            2. ChimericalOne*

              Yeah, I found this out when I left my job at a nonprofit earlier than I’d expected to (as an opportunity for full-time work unexpectedly fell into my lap). I had thought maybe I could continue working for them in a very limited volunteer capacity while they looked for a replacement, but the law’s pretty clear that you can’t go from “doing this work for money” to “doing this work for free.”

            3. JM60*

              What if the boss asks the bookkeeper to ‘volunteer’ to organize the gala? Is there any safeguard to ensure that employees of nonprofits aren’t being made to work for free doing things outside their core job duties?

        3. Kix*

          The comment about “unpaid work” caught my eye — how does that work if your position is exempt? (Just thinking about all the unpaid overtime I put in trying to stay on top of a crushing workload).

          1. Just Another Techie*

            That’s just part of being exempt, unfortunately. As long long as they are paying you your agreed on weekly salary, they’re in the clear no matter how many hours you work.

            1. Someone Else*

              That said, if Kix’s question is about exempt people in California, I believe California has specific laws about how many consecutive days you can work – which I think also applies to exempt people? I’m not a lawyer – so if as an aspect of the “overtime” in question is something like “work 14 days straight without a day off” I’m pretty sure that’s not legal in California either, regardless of how you’re classified. Although it’s possible I’m getting that wrong. And it wouldn’t affect the pay. They’d just have to give you the time off or penalties/fines legal trouble, I think.

              1. Jadelyn*

                I’m in CA, and I’ve never heard of exempt folks being constrained in number of consecutive days worked. CA *does* require that the seventh consecutive day be paid at OT rate for the first 8 hrs, then double rate for anything past that (versus reg hours for 8, then OT after that), but that’s only for non-exempt (hourly) folks. It’s my understanding that exemption includes exemption from those provisions as well.

                The biggest way CA differs with respect to exempt employees, is that the pay threshold is different. Federally, the pay threshold for declaring someone exempt is $455/week (although that’s going up soon). In California, the threshold is 2x the current minimum wage – currently, $960/week. I believe the duties test might also be slightly more stringent, but I’d have to look up the federal standards since I’m just used to looking at CA requirements.

            2. Wintermute*

              eh yes and no. The lower limit on salary really hasn’t kept pace with inflation (and work hours have increased across the board) as a result there are a few important caveats. First and most important of which is your total weekly wage divided total hours worked that week must never be below minimum wage. It doesn’t have to be over minimum wage plus overtime but it can’t take you below the federal minimum wage for the total hours.

          2. Natalie*

            A salaried employee is paid an agreed-upon amount per week, regardless of the amount of hours worked, so you’re never working “for free” as long as they’ve paid the full salary amount. In theory, if not necessarily in practice, you agreed to accept the salary with the understanding that it might cover 80 hours or it might cover 35 hours.

            An employer is not allowed to make deductions for mistakes, breakage, wastage, etc from a salaried employee. You could put someone on an unpaid suspension, but then they wouldn’t be working for the time.

            1. Wintermute*

              And unpaid time must be full weeks. You must be paid full wage for any week in which you perform any amount of work.

              1. Thornus*

                Er, no. If you do any work during a day, you have to be paid for that day in its entirety. However, under federal law, if you’re exempt and miss a day of work, the employer is legally entitled to deduct that day’s pay from your paycheck.

      2. Bulbasaur*

        I’ve always wondered about this in the context of servers, and customers who walk out on their bills. I’ve worked in restaurants in the past where managers have forced employees to cover the cost of the check with their own tips. I’ve also worked in restaurants where dine-and-dashers are just a part of life, and the restaurant just eats it. The former scenario sounds illegal, but if it doesn’t force a server under the threshold for minimum wage, maybe it’s one of those “technically legal but still terrible” things.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          In California, it’s flat-out illegal (although it still happens). And the likelihood of a wage violation is higher because restaurant workers must be paid the state minimum wage ($11.00/hour), in addition to their tips.

          At the federal level, you’re right that it falls in the “terrible but legal” bucket: it only becomes unlawful if it drops you below the restaurant minimum wage ($2.13/hour).

        2. Southern Yankee*

          Great question. Seems like forcing employees to cover business expenses (which is illegal, I think)? If the owner/manager thought a server was pocketing a cash payment because of a higher than normal instance, that should be covered as a performance issue, not a blanket policy that punishes all the servers.

          I’d love to see someone knowledgeable answer this one.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Not all states protect against unpaid business expenses—it’s very illegal in California, but not necessarily illegal under federal law.

        3. Bad Coffee*

          How would this work in fast food? I worked drive through as a teenager and my drawer came up short $20 on night and had to make up for it in my paycheck. I wasn’t considered a server though and I made minimum wage.

          1. Massmatt*

            This is a crappy practice but common in food service, likewise making the server pay if diners leave without paying. Not sure of the legality, it is probably illegal but many places do it anyway.

    2. Magenta Sky*

      California’s labor board doesn’t really care any more about employees any more than any other state, but they sure do love to nail employers to a cross. And the boss is personally liable, too, as well as the company.

      If the boss has a boss, the grandboss should be notified, because it’s a very, very serious legal issue to even suggest it. (And while they could have fired her for the mistake, once that complaint is filed, they don’t dare lest it be taken as retribution – and it will be. That will give her plenty of time to find a better job, if need be.)

        1. Magenta Sky*

          I’ve been involved in too many such incidents to believe they give more of a damn about the employee than they do about protecting and exerting their bureaucratic power. But it work out well for the employee more often than most places, and if the grandboss and company in general don’t jump all over the boss, it’s certainly worth considering a formal complaint.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            It might feel this way to folks who have to deal with employer penalties. But having worked on both sides, I feel safe asserting that CA wage and hour laws are concerned with preventing worker exploitation, especially for the most economically vulnerable workers.

            California has passed laws to protect workers from federal labor law loopholes, and the State enforces those laws with the assistance of a large number of workers’ rights attorneys. It’s not about exerting bureaucratic power—there’s not nearly enough state employees to chase down and enforce the avalanche of wage-and-hour violations. State law levies heavy employer penalties to discourage employers from thinking they can get away with mistreating, miscategorizing or underpaying employees by only paying back the unpaid wages owed (which for large employers is a drop in the bucket compared to their profits).

            1. Batman*

              Yes, thank you for this PCBH. Laws like are to benefit workers, not to make things harder for employers or to maintain their own bureaucracy.

            2. Wintermute*

              Bingo, the problem with most regulatory penalties, especially in my old industry (FCC regulated) was that the profits you could make were in the millions and the fines in the tens of thousands, so you’d do it until you got caught, throw some engineer under the bus, pay a fine and move onto the next violation.

              That’s why the current FCC issuing an eye-popping fine for e911 errors to T-mobile was notable, they might be shifting the rubric.

            3. TootsNYC*

              and isn’t the agency supposed to be saying, “You can’t break the laws we enforce, or we will get you!”

              That bureaucratic pride IS the thing that enforces the law.

        2. JulieCanCan*


          I think most California employees don’t realize how incredibly lucky they are to work in this state.

          1. Carolyn*

            Seriously! I didn’t even realize all the protections I was benefiting from until I went to another state. I eventually moved backed to CA and now (know about) and appreciate the protections.

      1. Observer*

        You make it sound like keeping employers from making employees pay these costs is some sort of persecution. It’s not.

        The rest of your comment is completely correct, though.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        California has more laws that they readily enforce more so than it being an issue of caring the most.

        They’re also the first state to really gun for their use tax from outside CA businesses when Wayfield V South Dakota was decided. They sent out notifications to OOS companies whereas others have hung back despite having the same use tax laws.

        Cali loves their revenue sources in the end.

        1. Jadelyn*

          To be fair, the same could be said of literally any state or publicly-funded organization. Everyone needs an operating budget in order to function, after all.

        2. Batman*

          Private companies love their revenue sources too. Don’t act like the government is unique here.

      3. hbc*

        Is it really worth distinguishing between “they care for employees” and “they hate employers so they chase after the ones who hurt their employees”? Unless they’re in a smoky room drinking brandy and plotting world domination through the punishment of unethical business practices, the outcome is pretty much the same–less exploitation of the average worker.

      4. Jadelyn*

        Look, I’m sure it’s very difficult to be a simple unethical business owner just trying to make a living by exploiting your workers, and then have the nasty, nasty law enforcement mechanisms step in and force you to abide by the law, but that doesn’t actually make you persecuted by the big meanie-poo government, so maybe climb down off that self-created cross for a minute before you start talking about stuff like this.

        1. Ico*

          You don’t know anything of the sort about Magenta Sky. Be kind to other commenters.

    3. MommyMD*

      It’s illegal if it’s a non-profit. She’s an employee not a volunteer. Non-profits don’t get a free pass on having employees work for free.

    4. ms.mmp*

      OP#5 here! Thank you everyone! Just to answer some questions: We are a small for-profit company and she is a non-exempt worker.
      She’s worked here for 30+ years, which I why I reached out. It gets some outside perspective into our wacky little company.
      I shared the link with her and she was super appreciative for the insight but said she thinks she’s still going to do it (internal scream). But I interfered as much as I will at this point

      1. nott the brave*

        Whatever she does is her choice, but I would strongly hope that she considers it outside the scope of just herself. Even if she can “afford” this mistake (that isn’t hers to pay in the first place), someone more junior may also make a mistake and not be able to eat the costs… only now your boss has the idea that getting compensation back from his employees works perfectly fine

        It’s a very damaging precedent to set, not only for herself but for all her coworkers.

      2. Malty*

        You tried OP, you can’t make her, and as ridiculous as her boss is being I can see why she might want to save herself the hassle if he’s being this awful. Thank you for trying to help her it was very kind

        1. Malty*

          Also OPs friend really sorry you’re in this situation – you may have cost the company $1000 but I bet you’ve made them a damn sight more than that over 30 years

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Pro tip: Anyone can complain about the violation, OP (not trying to make Jane’s life difficult, but she doesn’t have to be the complainant if other workers are aware that this very illegal under federal-and-state-law thing is happening). It might also be worth having someone loudly drop notes/comments or to report this to a higher up, because even if Jane doesn’t complain, the employer can still be on the hook.

        Frankly, I don’t think Jane should do it, but I understand that we can’t rob her of her agency in agreeing to enter into an illegal arrangement.

        1. Observer*

          Aside from robbing her of her agency, it’s important to keep in mind that there can be real costs to pushing back. And it’s not really fair to judge people on that without knowing the whole story (and even then…)

          1. ChimericalOne*

            If OP’s friend is afraid she might be fired (or that this might be the first stone in the foundation of Boss building a case to fire her), then I get why she’d rather just go through with it. But if she’s been there 30+ years, that doesn’t seem super likely. OP’s friend may be mad at her if she raises a fuss, but if I were her, I would raise it anyway. “This is illegal. Accidents happen — that’s just the cost of doing business. You cannot legally push this cost onto an employee. You can’t legally make someone work without paying them.”
            What this business gets away with doing to one employee, they may very well do to another. OP shouldn’t be silent, and not just for her friend’s sake, but for the sake of all the employees that this puts at risk.

        2. LegalBeagle*

          I agree that OP has done everything she can and the rest is up to the coworker. But I wanted to note that an illegal agreement is void, so as far as the law is concerned, personal agency is not a factor.

  3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    #5 I would rethink working for this petty tyrant! How broke is the company that $1000 is enough to grind an axe so hard you demand free labor to recover the sum? We “lose” a few thousand dollars a month due to reruns and assorted errors, if it was something egregious, we ding a person’s performance review or restrain or terminate if necessary. Nobody. Ever. Works for free, that’s not how you run a successful healthy business. (I say lose but since we have proper margins, these losses are built in and blowing a $1000 order stinks but it’s not even painful. Fml I write more than that off in deadbeat accounts each year!)

    California takes wage theft super seriously. I’ve read about a lot of businesses there getting fined a lot more than this $1000 he’s upset about. Just yikes!

    1. SignalLost*

      This. In a previous job, someone goofed up the title of a book, we reprinted it at the employer’s cost, and that was the end of it. If you really want to get fussy, you can set up an additional proofing stage or file structure to ensure it’s less likely to happen again, but this is the cost of doing business with humans sometimes. Aside from the legality around working for free, that’s just stupidly demoralizing and will cost employees, because they’ll leave over this kind of petty tyranny.

      1. Sherm*

        Yep, and they’ll be less likely to report a mistake, if they think it will cost them dearly to do so.

        1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

          Yup. This is how you train employees to cover up mistakes, rather than bring them forward. And it’ll cost the company a lot less, in the long run, if employees react to their mistakes by bringing it to the attention of relevant managers so that it can be corrected. (I’m currently working with a trainee who has repeatedly misunderstood the cost of an expense that we need client approval for; gotten client approval, and then realized the actual expense will be higher than what the client approved; and wanted to bill the client for the actual rate, which was higher than what the client approved. Just… no. Nooooooo. No. The difference is minor, and the client noticing we’re billing them for more than what they approved could cost us the client! Better to take the loss of the expense than to make our client think we’re overcharging them! I’m finding it’s very necessary to assure her that while she should check things more carefully, we’re not upset with her for this and it’s not going to jeopardize her position.)

          If you want your employees to behave ethically, you need to model ethical behavior. This includes ethical treatment of your employees.

          1. KP*

            Well, Jane’s mistake WAS caught internally. And corrected. Then Jane grabbed an old file and the mistake was printed on the cover.

            I don’t think the issue was with internal controls. And it’s noteable that Jane owned up to the client and boss — but this would have been investigated anyway (it was a mistake that had been caught and corrected once, after all, and it was the client’s cover). The mistake is in Jane’s boss’s reaction of wanting to not pay her the cost of the mistake as punishment. (I don’t mean to be harsh, but I’ve see people fired for far less. This was caught and still went to the client — and represented not just Jane’s firm’s work but the cover effectively represented the client, too.)

            1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

              Yes, but the point still stands – if you want employees to come forward with mistakes, you need to create an environment where they feel comfortable doing so. Other employees *will* observe this reaction to Jane’s mistake and fear that they’ll get the same treatment. If the boss considers this a fireable offence, then he could fire her – but not expect her to work for free. And honestly, while office standards differ, in a lot of offices this would be a ‘reprimand’ offence, not a firing. The report going out to the client with mistakes does make it worse, but still – I know at my company, we just recently realized one of our reports was sent to our client with some pretty important information missing. That report was intended for the client to use to make hiring decisions, and the client could have found the information themselves without too much difficulty, and been annoyed with us for not including it. The company’s solution was not to punish the employee responsible – we just had ‘Janet’ re-do the report, with the missing information included, and send it out to the client at no additional charge. A loss for the company, but still far less than if the client had discovered the problem themselves. This will probably be reflected in Janet’s performance review, but by reacting calmly and discretely, the managers corrected the problem without making other employees terrified of being caught in a similar mistake.

            2. Lepidoptera*

              I have also seen this go down with firings. When I worked at a book compositor, the first run of a hot biography went out with the colophon stating that it was printed in the “Untied States of America”. Heads rolled.

              1. Miss V*

                Ha! Depending on the nature of the book (for example, political satire) if I as a customer had noticed I might have assumed that was a joke.

            3. Connie*

              The incorrect version should have been deleted, and janevl couldn’t have grabbed it by mistake. That’s where the internal controls need to be changed.

              1. No Longer Working*

                You can’t always do that. If you have a 100 page book and you make corrections on a few pages, the workflow may be that you only replace/relink the pages that had corrections. So you can’t “delete” the original file since the rest of the pages are linked to it. My career was prepress so I know how this works.

                1. Falling Diphthong*

                  Even if the specific example won’t work, the root cause analysis answer is in better internal controls.

                2. RecoveringSWO*

                  If you’re using the right cloud/sharedrive system, you can access old versions of a document while having the newest version be the one that automatically pops up on the drive. Problem solved!

              2. CDM*

                Or if not deleted for reasons, SOP should be that the file name should be changed to mark it in some way.
                “ClientBook Ver 3 – Outdated, do not use”

                Our industry deletes nothing for compliance reasons – my database is peppered with documents marked – “ignore, wrong client”, “XYZ, do not use – revised”

                Now is the time to take steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again, because it’s so incredibly easy to grab the wrong file. I do it myself.

                1. No Longer Working*

                  This is also to Falling and Recovering- I’m not seeing a Reply button for them. There is a step in between that if you’re not in the business, you wouldn’t know of. Briefly, the files are processed into a different format and it’s those files that actually get printed. There can be multiple safeguards & multiple checks in place to prevent errors where the wrong page gets to press, but in the end, people are human and mistakes will be made. It should have been caught, but it wasn’t.

              3. ms.mmp*

                OP #5 here again! Honestly, agreed. The company has to re-look at our filing system for sure. Another whole issue…

            4. Batman*

              I think it is an internal control issue actual. They need to have a mechanism for dealing with drafts so this type of thing doesn’t happen again.

      2. SusanIvanova*

        When the software company I worked for in the 90s accidentally burned CDs with the last beta instead of the final release, they made plaques with the bad CDs mounted on them and handed them out to everyone – so not only did they lose the cost of burning CDs (not cheap in those days!), they spent *more* money to make some nice souvenirs!

        1. Anders*

          Yeah, I work in publishing and when I was a newbie, I made a big mistake on a book cover design. The company fixed it at their cost. If they had suggested I work for free to make up for it, I would have quit that day. Mistakes happen.

          1. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

            We’ve had an entire print run pulped because there was a non-fixable typo on the cover which completely changed the meaning of the title and still the people involved got to keep their salary. Now it’s both a cautionary tale and an amusing anecdote (we kept a few copies in the archive because the mistake is honestly hilarious once you get past the mortification). OP5’s boss is unreasonable.

            1. SignalLost*

              I also was involved in a proofing situation where the responsible party did lose his job, but he didn’t make a mistake – he deliberately didn’t change artwork plates on the press “to save time” and we wound up with a couple of print runs we could not use; it would have destroyed the company to try to sell the misprints. I caught it and we were able to correct it, but he did that deliberately and the firing was warranted.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          This would make a great Friday thread — mistakes & how we moved on.

      3. Aggretsuko*

        I know of an organization at my company that has to print out special copies if someone’s name is left out. They’re all “that’s just the price of business.” Also in CA.

    2. LGC*

      Man, a few months ago I accidentally overbilled a customer by $15,000! (It was a glitch, but I had taken a shortcut that caused the glitch.) I was horrified and quite frankly wanted to sink into the center of the earth.

      Our COO told me to get a grip. We managed to fix the problem easily.

      (To be fair, this was a little after we overbilled another customer by several thousand dollars in a different way, so I was touchy about mistakes already.)

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        I once billed someone 150k in library fines because I entered the charge id into the amount field by mistake. Luckily when you make a mistake that spectacular the bursar calls you right away and I fixed it hopefully before the poor student ever saw the charge. And added some more double-checks to my process because entering $500 instead of $50 wouldn’t be flagged the same way.

        1. JJ Bittenbinder*

          Lol, I’m pretty sure that if our local library didn’t have a maximum fine equal to the value of the book and they didn’t forgive old fines, my mom would have something like 150k in library fines. 50 years of bad borrowing habits catch up with a person.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            I’ve seen stories on that kind of “50 yr old fees” for libraries pop up LOL. Lot’s don’t cap fees and they just add their monthly charges.

          2. knitting librarian (with cats)*

            I became a librarian so I could forgive my own fines ;-)
            Yeah, librarians are notoriously bad at getting books back on time.

            Before I went to library school, I was an editor. Mistakes happen ~ the best course of action is trying to put as many controls (like putting DO NOT USE in the names of outdated files) in place as possible to minimize how awful the mistake are..

            1. Sweet Fancy Pancakes*

              In my library system, forgiving your own fines will get you fired! But yes, as a librarian (and I’m even a branch manager), I still find myself hitting the fine wall- where I have to pay it down a little just so I can go on borrowing. Luckily, we have lots of “fine waiver” events- food drives, Summer Reading, etc, so I can get it back down again. Actually, just this week I brought in something for the food drive, got my fine reduced, and now I’ve already added .50 back on!

              1. TardyTardis*

                When I worked at a library, the staff card meant No Fines. Ah…loved those days! Also loved the feeding time at the shark pool when the new books came down from barcoding, and the ‘I didn’t know we had *this*’ when accepting returns back. Some of which was balanced out by the cardboard magazine holder which had been skunk sprayed and deposited into the return slot that led to the area behind the checkout stand…(shudder, the smell lasted for days).

          3. Gumby*

            My local library just went fine-free. It is glorious! They also auto-renew books a day before the due date as long as no one has requested them. I love my library so so much.

        2. Anon for this*

          Bad data entry is such a common cause of a big errors! We had an error on a ~$100K invoice slip through our controls and came out as tens of millions. We caught it before it was mailed – but that’s not the end of the story. The invoice was to a customer that was also a competitor and that particular competitor was in the middle of attempting a hostile takeover of my company! I had a few nightmares about a theoretical vindictive press release by crappy hostile takeover company if the invoice had been mailed…

        3. Phoenix Wright*

          Whoa, not even Al Bundy could have racked up such a huge library fine.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I’ve caught so may errors in billing from vendors over the years. We also have had errors in our invoices too naturally.

        I also get duplicate payments ALL THE TIME that I have to return to clients. I can tell a AP clerk just entered a bill twice. Mostly due to an error in the invoice number. I saw one come through for invoice 1234 and the same one got duplicated as 12334. Or 1243. There are usually internal controls for the same number but a stuttering finger somewhere will override that system control immediately.

        An old boss had to fire someone due to multiple errors in tens if thousands of dollars. Some vendors will happily take the overpay and refuse to acknowledge it as a credit! Mostly even if it’s caught externally, you just say “this invoice is $150, not $15,000! Please send me a new one, thanks!”

      3. Aggretsuko*

        Oh yeah, I accidentally charged an international customer a lot more than I was supposed to and if I hadn’t gotten lucky that could have been HORRENDOUS to fix. Like “wait six weeks to get a check sent to Hong Kong and hope to god it shows up in the international mail” level of bad. I was afraid I might have cleared out their account.

    3. only acting normal*

      I used to do a job that involved finding and correcting “Errors & Omissions”. I was on the lowest rung of the department and even I was allowed to sign off paying out an E&O of <£500.
      OP’s boss is taking the p###.

    4. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

      I wish a $1000 mistake was so rare I had the time and energy to insert this much drama into it!

      Employee mistakes are the cost of doing business. (which, isn’t just a saying. It’s a literal thing you need to pad for.)

    5. blackcat*

      My friend once had a negative sign error in his code, in i-banking.
      That negative sign cost the bank ~400k.
      He was in his first 3 months and thought he was toast.
      They shrugged, said be more careful in the future, and that was that. Mistakes happen, they said. I get that 400k may be peanuts to a bank and 1k may matter to a small business… but recovering that $$$$ from an employee is so petty.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Yep, huge institutions can afford larger losses like that. A 400k error is unheard of in some businesses as that’s their yearly revenue or a large percentage of it!

        But if any of y’all work where it’s down to a few thousands of dollars is crippling and it’s not a mom and pop convenience store or similar, that company is unstable and your job security is shakey to say the least!

      2. emmelemm*

        Yeah, my company had a coding error (not mine specifically, but mine to fix) that caused a client to misreport stuff to the IRS, which could have come with a $250,000 fine to them. I had a few sleepless days when that was discovered, but it eventually got straightened out (with a lot of work). But seeing “$250,000” flash before your eyes… man oh man

    6. Sally*

      I agree. In my 20+ years in my career, I have made a few pretty big mistakes. Fortunately, most of them did not affect our (internal) clients. There was one that cost the company money. We were translating some documents into 7 or 8 languages, and I left something out of the original, so the translations had to be done over again to the tune of about $3500. It turns out that other changes were made later, which required the translations to be done yet again, so I didn’t feel too bad. And my boss was great about it. She treated it like a cost of doing business with humans – as someone said upthread.

    7. LSP*

      Being this upset about the loss of $1,000 is ridiculous for your boss to be this upset about. These kinds of loses should absolutely be accounted for. This is what margins are for!

    8. dealing with dragons*

      this is also not to mention that if a printing error costs $1000… should be double or triple checked. this is a process error not a human error.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Right? Shouldn’t they be printing a test copy before hitting the button on a 500 QTY order? We sure make samples to be signed off on for that reason! Then even though she grabbed the wrong file in the end, it would still be caught in the extra effort to reduce this kind of error.

    9. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I had something similar happen early in my career. We still lived in Home Country, I’d lost my job in my field after my first child was born (technically was told to stay on an indefinite unpaid maternity leave, but still). We needed the money and I took a part-time job as an admin assistant to a director of a small private school (WAY outside of my field, but there was nothing else available in our tiny town). The school itself was in another town and I was alone in the office most days. My new boss had apparently developed a new (or new to him – I don’t know the details – the man wasn’t known for his ethics) teaching methodology, had printed booklets about it, was selling the booklets and giving occasional talks and classes etc. One day when I was alone in the office, a woman burst in through the door, telling me that she was a teacher in a city an hour away and that she had taken an hour-long bus ride specifically to buy my boss’s teaching booklets. He’d never told me anything about me having to sell booklets, but the woman was persistent and refused to leave. After some searching in the closets and drawers, I found a stack of booklets and a price list. She took one booklet, paid cash, and left happy. Boss stopped by later that afternoon, I gave him the cash, and all hell broke loose. Turned out, the price list I’d found was a year old. Home Country was going through a market crash and hyperinflation, so the prices would have gone up significantly over the year. He did not have an updated price list available anywhere, but that did not stop him from docking my pay for that month for what he’d decided his booklet would’ve really cost. He took some obscene amount out of my monthly pay, like 1/4 or 1/3 of it, for this “mistake”. 25 years later, I’m still mad. And oh you better believe I told people. It may have been legal in Home Country back then (everything was, up to and including some types of white-collar crime), but it was a small town and news traveled fast and the guy had already had a reputation around town, as an overall terrible person and definitely someone you would not want to work for. He never found a replacement for me after I finally left that job a few months later. Hopefully the story of how I’d gotten fined helped people decide not to work for him.

    10. Oranges*

      Sooo… there was a marketing project that cost… I have no clue. I’d guess at least 50K. I did the landing pages and forgot to uncomment out the tracking code (which is our main selling point).

      Soooo… yeah. That was a HUGE error and all that happened is my manager put some new guiderails in place so it couldn’t happen again.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      Yeah, this. I once made a mistake that, compounded with a shipping company mistake, ended up making OldExjob eat $4000 and the company didn’t make me pay for it. You’d better believe I set up protocols so it wouldn’t happen again, but still.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        And really the thing is, if you teach your employees that mistakes aren’t OMG END OF THE WORLD/WILL RAGE AT YOU/WILL COST YOU PERSONALLY!, you can easily teach them to own their mistakes and put new procedures into place to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Most employees want to do a good job, they want to make the company look good, they don’t make errors on purpose.

        If you have an employee with constant errors, the response is to terminate them or move them from that project that they can’t seem to get a grasp on. But everyone, even mega millionaire CEO’s make costly mistakes all the time, it’s about seeing them, owning them and not repeating them over and over again. The money is just normal business, the humans in the process are what makes the business survive and thrive.

  4. Lauren*

    OP #3, the employer used her words to describe the situation — they loved you but they are still interviewing other candidates, so stay tuned — and you need to take them at face value.

    Of course they’re not going to hire the first person they love. That would be a poor hiring practice! They’re going to want to assure themselves that they’ve interviewed a good range of candidates so that they feel assured that when they make an offer, they are getting the person they feel most positively about.

    And no, unless you are Jesus Christ Superstar, telling them that you’re interviewing other places is not going to speed up their due diligence on their end. As good as you may be, there are usually plenty of other fish in the sea.

    1. OP #3*

      OP #3 here
      Thank you so much for your comment. I think I just found it odd that they would ring (they rang three times over two days- I was in work so missed the calls) to just say that – I thought an email would have sufficed. The job is in another country so If I got it, there’s a lot of time needed to give notice and of course move my entire life to a new (non -English) speaking country. I think I just hoped the process would be faster and not dragged out ( interviews went on for over a month) and at the end of all that to get “we love you but wait” just does not feel very ideal.

      Also I know I’m not Jesus Christ superstar haha however my experience is actually very unique to the role. The role requires a luxury fashion background, Tech/IT , business development & B2B account management. I have all three & during the first interview hiring manager kept exclaiming about how they have never seen that before & the most they have had was 2 out of 4 and then had to train the other areas. Similarly for me it clearly feels like something I would be super interested in since it brings together all the things that I love, in the past I have worked in one and missed the others so getting to bring all that curiosity and knowledge in one role feels perfectly right.
      I understand all that I have to is sit on my fingers and wait but I wish I didn’t have to haha.

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        It seems a little weird to me too, but given how often employers just never get back to even interview candidates that they’re not hiring, I think it’s nice of them to give you an update that they’re still interviewing but you’re a strong candidate and are definitely still in the running.

      2. Lepidoptera*

        If you’re an international candidate, that may be your answer right there. They may be required to exhaust all local possibilities before they can justify hiring you.

      3. boredatwork*

        My company does this. Even if grandboss has already chosen who they want to hire, we do a pool of applicants (round 1) whittle it down to the top 3-4 (round 2) Then there’s some corporate mandated testing for the finalist.

        We knew we were going to hire the person we did 2 months before we made an offer. Since our process is so long, we give the candidate the option to pick their start date.

        1. Artemesia*

          Seems like a great way to lose your top candidate. If they are ‘top’ to you it is fair to assume they might be to someone else and if they are looking for a job, they are probably looking at more places than yours.

          1. learnedthehardway*

            Not really. While you might have the ideal candidate, interviewing a number of people is still a good hiring practice. Reasons:
            – the ideal person might not make it though the salary negotiations or reference checking. You need some backup options.
            – there may be some rose coloured glasses going on – people have decision biases, and it makes sense to take some time to review a number of options, rather than moving ahead super quickly with the first one that presents itself.
            – this makes sure that the hiring process is fair(er) – a range of candidates are considered, rather than the pre-selected favourite automatically getting the job.
            – it gives an opportunity for the favourite to screw up the process – does the person have any ego or entitlement issues? Are they genuinely interested and preparing for the interviews, or do they figure they’re a shoe-in (which could lead to important things being missed). Essentially, the job is theirs to lose, which means they will take the process more seriously.

            Just things I’ve observed, while hiring.

            1. ket*

              These are all good reasons to interview more people/have rules about the process, but they’re not good reasons for having 2 months as a timeline before an offer.

              1. Massmatt*

                I agree, unless this is typical for a certain field (academia?), it seems likely a desirable candidate will have other offers in 2 months, at least in a tight job market.

                If you find that this hiring process works, then great, but it wouldn’t surprise me that you are getting beaten to the punch for the best candidates by faster-acting employers.

                I look at the hiring process as a way to evaluate the hiring company. Maybe a company is being careful to bring in the right people, which is a good thing. But if the hiring process is slow and bureaucratic, I assume that likely extends to their other decision-making as well.

      4. Psyche*

        My guess is that it is an indication that they are still early in their hiring process and won’t have a decision for a while. In that case, I could see letting you know that they are still considering you so that you don’t assume that they decided not to hire you and just didn’t say anything.

      5. Sara without an H*

        Hi, OP#3: Thanks for the follow-up, it adds a lot of detail. The extra attention you’re getting may be their way of making sure you stay interested while they complete their review of local candidates. There may be some local laws, too, that are affecting their hiring strategy.

        I’ll repeat what Alison said: you never really know going in whether something is going to be your “dream job,” or not. Since this position would involve an international relocation, there are a lot of variables in the mix. Take a few deep breaths, keep working on your job search, and try not to think about it until they come back with something definite.

        1. OP #3*

          OP #3 update.
          They rang me today and scheduled another hour long interview for next week but just with HR/ in-house recruiter. She has been at all 4 of the past interviews in this process and honestly I didn’t realize there would be a 5th one that is a full hour and with just the recruiter. I asked her if I needed to bring anything/ know anything before hand and she said not at all. I can’t even get excited or nervous, I’m just confused at this stage. The role is only a mid – senior role so I have no idea why they are dragging this out.

      6. zutara*

        From the handful of countries I’ve looked into moving for work, companies are required to demonstrate that they’re hiring foreign workers because no local candidates have the skills required to fill the role. Even though you’re their unicorn candidate, they have to continue interviewing other, local candidates to prove to their local government that they’ve exhausted their search in order to get your work visa granted when they come to you with an offer.

      7. Marthooh*

        Think of it this way, OP: they absolutely need to get this role filled, and they can’t be absolutely sure of you. You might get a better offer elsewhere, you might hit by a bus, you might (for all they know) be lying in your teeth about your qualifications.

        Of course they want to have a backup plan in case things don’t work out! That’s sensible of them, so try to think of it as a good sign.

  5. Bethany*

    #4 I don’t really understand the “I don’t want to compete with a friend/colleague” line. Can somebody clarify where that competition is coming from?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Presumably the recruiter has A Slot in A Company and they’re contacting possible hires for The Slot. So they reached out to OP. OP started the process to get that job.

      Then the recruiter also tapped the colleague to also be considered for that job.

      The colleague doesn’t want to compete. So they are only interested in the next opportunity they are a fit for that recruiter may have later on.

      That’s my read on it.

      1. Bethany*

        Ah, got it. I read it as the recruiter was reaching out to the coworker/friend for a reference, not for a job, and that the coworker/friend didn’t want to provide a reference at this early stage.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ah! I don’t *think* so because that would be so odd for a friend to do, but I’ve added to the answer in case it’s that.

        2. Darren*

          This sounds to me like standard external recruiter tactics of getting someone putting them up for a job and then starting on their network trying to see who else you can place for more money.

          It doesn’t necessarily mean they only have one slot, but I would also decline until I’ve see the results of placing my friend. After all if they aren’t a good recruiter they can actually be a negative to a job search I’d rather see someone else try them out first.

        3. Myrin*

          Oh my, that’s how I read it, too, and what consequently confused me quite a bit – Becky Lynch’s answer explains so much!

    2. MommyMD*

      If a job is open it’s open imo. If my friend applied for a job I did also, fine.

      1. HannaSpanna*

        And OP was also fine with that – it was the coworker who chose to decline to be considered for the job.

      2. Tortoise*

        If I didn’t care that much about a job my friend was applying for, I might decide to pass on this too. It depends on the job!

      3. triplehiccup*

        I can see being leery of competing with a colleague if it’s a small industry and/or one where personal relationships matter a lot. It might be more valuable in the long run to protect those relationships than to apply for one particular job.

      4. AvonLady Barksdale*

        You might be, the OP might be, maybe the friend isn’t– and that’s ok! Not every job opportunity has to be jumped on. Just as there’s nothing inherently wrong with applying for the same job as a friend, there’s certainly nothing wrong with declining to pursue a job your friend wants.

        1. MK*

          It’s also possible there are other reasons she doesn’t want the job and is using this as an excuse.

    3. OP4*

      OP # 4 here. The Man, Becky Lynch is right–we’re competing for one job at one company. If anything, I was concerned that the recruiter / hiring stakeholders would think that I’m talking about the position to others too early in the process and not being discrete. To add a couple more details: neither of us applied for the job (the job isn’t listed publicly) and friend has expressed interest in the job.

      Thanks for engaging!

  6. It Can Wait*

    I’m wonder if the boss for LW5 would stop paying himself after he made a mistake. I think not.

      1. MommyMD*

        He’s bad but doesn’t meet the bar for some of the crazy we’ve seen here.

          1. Save One Day at a Time*

            Not with this, but if he thinks this is logical, it might not be an isolated lapse in judgment

  7. mark132*

    In the case of LW5 how does that work with gross negligence or malicious actions? Are they able to take actions then?, or do they have to pursue that in the court system.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You fire them. If it were an issue where Jane secretly printed something scandalous in materials for a client, you still have to pay all wages due to her. Even if they steal from you, you have to pay wages after you fire them and press charges. I’ve seen embezzlement and those people get their wages due then a case is brought against them. Same with intentionally destroying a company database or machinery etc.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I would think that you would need to go through the courts, either via criminal charges or suing. And in some cases, things like professional licenses might be affected. Otherwise there’d be a gaping loophole by which the employer would be the one to decide that it was gross negligence and the usual protections didn’t apply. Malicious actions would affect whether the employee was eligible for unemployment insurance after being fired, though.

    3. whingedrinking*

      To this day I remain astonished that, when I was 22, I had to tell my employer that it was illegal for him to refuse to give an employee their final paycheque for any reason when he told me not to hand over said cheque to my former coworker unless he also brought his store key back. (There wasn’t even any indication that the employee planned to hang onto the key – the owner was just as suspicious as he was incompetent and tended to assume everyone else was as shady and petty as he was.)

      1. Observer*

        Good for you!

        I’m not astonished that your boss thought it’s ok. It is astonishing, in a good way, that you knew enough and had the guts to push back.

        1. whingedrinking*

          I was once watching a movie with my mom (retired teacher) and her sister (retired nurse), and “Solidarity Forever” started playing. My mom and my aunt sang along. I grew up in that kind of family. :)
          I will also admit to giving very few flying flips at that job. It was very satisfying when the owner went bankrupt a couple months after I quit.

      2. Emily K*

        I quit a delivery driver job without notice in my 20s and never got my last paycheck because I never came in to pick it up (too embarrassed). He obviously had my address but never mailed the check. Left me a voicemail or two about coming in to pick it up. Legally, he should have mailed it to me even though I quit in an unprofessional way, but he never did. It’s a thing that happens.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          No. He had it on hand and let you know, legally he doesn’t have to mail it.

          You send it to unclaimed properties at the state after a year. Have you looked at your state registry to see if you have any money sitting there???

          How do you know he didn’t mail it and it got returned or lost? That’s a thing I’ve had over and over again.

          1. Massmatt*

            An employer is SUPPOSED to send unclaimed checks to the state, but I doubt many blue-collar or service sector employers do. More likely they wait a few months, if that, and throw it away.

            Many MANY People I knew had trouble getting their last paycheck when leaving these types of jobs. Either the managers are dicking with their former employees, or there is profit in it, IMO it was too common to be coincidental.

            Probably less common now with direct deposit, but again these types of jobs offer that less often than other employers.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      You would have to fire them. Technically, you could pursue legal or other punitive action if the damages were severe enough, such as burning down a building, wrecking equipment, harming a patient etc., though employers should have insurance for those types of things anyway (the insurance company may pursue legal action).

      But wages are a completely separate thing.

    5. Helena*

      There is one *extremely* limited exception written into the law, “penalties imposed in good faith for infractions of safety rules of major significance.” The Department of Labor gives the example of fines for smoking in an oil refinery or coal mine, which could cause an explosion that kills the other workers. Other than that, firing or the courts, as you say.

  8. CastIrony*

    OP #3, I’ve been told so many times over five, six years that I should be hired full-time because I was doing a great job, and believe you me, that built me up with hope and confidence. When I applied to work a position I knew how to do well full-time, I was rejected (while having the worst migraine I’ve ever had).

    So the lesson is this: Just because they love you, it doesn’t mean that you’re a shoo-in for the job position. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s true. I was bitter for a few days before I made peace with the fact that my grandboss’s sister was hired.

    I hope you do get hired. I really do. Tell me how it goes!

  9. MommyMD*

    California is very strict. You cannot work for free, period. I once worked for an organization who made it very clear if you worked without pay you were committing time card fraud and would be fired.

    It was her mistake and a bad one, but it happens. If she’s a good employee, Boss needs to let it go.

  10. SS Express*

    A thousand dollars is NOTHING. I used to work in print marketing so I know how serious these “small” mistakes can be, and at first (although I definitely would never think Jane should pay the company back) I was thinking “oh god, poor Jane, imagine making a mistake that cost your company forty thousand dollars, no wonder the boss is getting unreasonable”. But a thousand dollars?! Are you serious?! This boss suuuuuucks.

    1. Willis*

      This. If this business is that bent out of shape about $1,000, it has a lot bigger problems than this typo! I have a feeling the “boss/OWNER” is a big part of the equation, and he’s interpreting this as a lot more of a personal loss (and thus seeking “repayment”) than a manager who was not also the owner would. It’s no way to run a business, from a logic or legal standpoint!! Hopefully, OP or coworker can make it clear that this is not an option.

    2. KP*

      The boss’s response is illegal and absurd. But the $1,000 is first of all just to replace the covers of the 200 booklets the client still hadn’t handed out. Most had already been handed out. It’s unclear whether that client relationship can be saved. The $1,000 isn’t the real cost to either the client or to Jane’s firm, it’s just what the boss has weirdly and inappropriately focused on.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Right. It’s still the cost of doing business in the end though. You lose clients for many reasons, most don’t leave because of a clerical error though. Then it costs them more to find a comparable vendor to move to. You usually only change vendors if it’s egregious and a regular occurrence.

    3. MK*

      Whether the amount is significant or not depends on the size of the company; maybe they are small enough that this is huge to them. And there are other factors; say, this was a test assignment from a first-time client and they now lost that client for good.

      But that’s not the point. If the mistake was significant, you may want to fire the employee; you don’t get to claim free labor as compensation. Even in cases when an employee might be liable to compensate their employer, it needs to be kept separate from their payroll.

    4. Anon for this*

      Old Company had a sales rep’s email autofill an address. She didn’t catch it. It cost the company a coupla million over 3 years (the duration of the contract).

      No personal consequences.

  11. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP5 – as well as being illegal and unethical as hell to do that… it’s also stupid and counter productive.

    You WANT people to feel safe reporting mistakes.

    It isn’t realistic to expect no mistakes ever. They will happen. Sometimes there will be a cost to them.

    What you need is to minimise those costs – that means finding and correcting mistakes early – that means having people who aren’t afraid to report their own mistakes.

    And as well as reducing costs of mistakes (you see the typo when the first run of 500 have been done and have time to redo, not when 3000 are delivered to the trade fair the day before you need to hand them to clients)

    … you have a good and healthy working environment.

    I’ve made occasional mistakes – most recent was clicking on a link in a dodgy email (I’m in IT. I should have known better.)

    First thing I did?


    If we hadn’t had the culture where people can report things like that, the breach could have been worse.

    You need people to report mistakes.

    1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      YES. If people are afraid they’ll be fired, or forced to repay the cost, over every little (or even big!) mistake, they’ll switch into defense mode. Which means they’ll be less likely to come forward with the mistake, and with proposed solutions if appropriate, and more likely to either try to hide it or to try to come up with a list of reasons why it’s not their fault, which is never helpful. You NEED your employees to be comfortable owning up to mistakes, so that you can catch them earlier.

    2. Lucille2*

      This was my reaction as well. OldJob was a major global ecommerce site. Every now and then some new code roll would break some old code on the site. And on rare occasions, that broken code might cause major site disruptions that had financial impact. I don’t know of anyone who was fired for making a mistake, but I do know of people who were fired for trying to cover up a mistake. Participating in the post-mortem write up was usually enough to prevent someone from making the same mistake ever again.

  12. Kat A.*

    For #1: I suggest telling your friend that the company doesn’t allow you to hire friends and family because it would be nepotism.

    1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      Why lie when there’s two ready-made reasons right there? She needs someone with more hours available, and she needs someone who can work mornings. Added to which, it almost definitely would damage the friendship… especially if the friend rage-quit on LW as well!

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        This. Also the “I can’t hire friends… ” excuse could just lead to “It’s fine – I won’t tell them I know you!!!”

      2. Leela*

        Especially since this reasoning is toast if OP has friends/family that they do end up hiring. Alison’s talked a lot about not doing that and I totally agree with what’s been posted, but it still might wind up making the most sense in OP’s case and could still happen.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      It’s never a good idea to make up reasons or excuses. She just needs to tell her that she doesn’t want to work with a friend. If friend gets pissed about it, or treats her like crap because of it, it’s time to consider re-evaluating the relationship.

      1. Happy Lurker*

        Had a friend decline to be roommates. Best thing she ever did was honestly tell me that it would probably ruin our friendship. Twenty-five friendship filled years later I am sure she was correct.

  13. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    In the grand scheme of things, $1000 seems a very small sum. If I were OP5 I’d be worried that the company was in major financial trouble.

    Many, many years ago when I was a student, I worked casual hours at the Box Office of a theatre (as in, playhouse, not movies) which was in the process of changing its name quite significantly after a change of ownership. The Marketing department were all incredibly excited because they got to redesign all of the branding. They’d planned a process by which for the first six months everything would read something like ‘THEATRE (formerly known as THEATRE)’ so people knew who were were.

    One quiet Thursday afternoon I was sitting in the Box Office when a HUGE delivery van appeared outside, and I signed for the consignment then about four of us helped the delivery guy bring it in – it was literally HUNDREDS of boxes of posters, flyers, leaflets, banners… the boxes filled the back corridor and the Marketing office piled high. Now, when posters etc. are packed there’s often a copy of it taped to the outside, and I’d noticed something that but decided not to say anything because the snooty Marketing Manager was very condescending towards the admin teams and especially to casual Box Office and front of house staff… My shift ended shortly afterwards, and I went home.

    The next week I came in for my shift to be told the snooty Marketing Manger and two of her team had been sacked. As I had spotted on the side of the box, every single one of the enormous order had had to be pulped, because it read ‘THEATRE (formally known as THEATRE)’ Tens of thousands of pounds……….

      1. Yvette*

        Took me a bit as well. It is formerly/formALly (caps because I am too lazy to bold).

    1. Lucy*


      I once stood frowning in Reception as the highly expensive decals were being applied to the internal glass walls following a rebrand.

      Me: Is that how we spell it?

      Office manager: Spell what?

      I point to the decal. Imagine we work for Fredricksen Inc. The huge decal reads Fredericksson Inc. As in your example, a real word but the wrong one.

      Work halted. Decal was painstakingly removed, and replaced a week later.

      Glad I asked. To this day I don’t know whose error it was, but no doubt somebody got a hairdryer!

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Happens so frequently with editing things like that! They give you a proof for a reason *sobs*

      1. Oranges*

        This is what proofs are FOR!

        Note: I’m not a good proof reader so I’d totally miss ALL the mistakes. My brain fills in what should be there because that’s the way brains work. It takes aptitude/training to be good at it.

        1. Lucy*

          I think it is a “how brains work” thing also in that some people can’t *not* see the errors – anecdotally I find visual people more likely to stumble on spelling errors as they read because they’re pattern-matching-reading instead of reading-aloud-but-in-their-head-reading.

          1. Jennifer Thneed*

            Gah, I have the super-power of glancing at a document I’ve never seen before and having my eye light on the one word in the middle of the text body that has a typo.

            Helpful in my professional life, but can be distracting in my personal life.

          2. Perpal*

            Interesting, I’m extremely visual and no way I would I notice formerly vs formally (I absolutely could not see the mistake until it was clearly marked out). Of course, I’m also not a very good speller, so it may be coincidence. I do much prefer understanding patterns to rote memorization.

        2. Eeether Eyether*

          Proofread backwards. That way your brain doesn’t insert the words. Only works for catching spelling errors, not content.

      2. Yvette*

        But how about when the provider company does it? We approved a proof of a T-shirt mock up. Shirts came, totally wrong, logo was supposed to be on front of shirt 3 inches high with 3 lines of company info next to it on front left chest and 8 inches high with 3 lines of company info (bigger text than front) across back shoulder. Shirts had no logo on front, and on the back huge logo with lettering underneath. We called the sales person “Oh the printers said they couldn’t make the logo that small so I had them change it.” We complained, got a new rep, got new shirts (still not exactly what we wanted but better) and apparently that person no longer works for the company (so they say)

    3. Manders*

      I once made a mistake in formatting a book that caused some text to be spaced very oddly on an interior page. The order was for about $1000 worth of books, too! My boss had me contact the printing company to see if making a fuss would get us a refund, but when that didn’t work, she dropped it. While I don’t agree with a lot of choices she made (like: someone would have caught the error if they’d checked the proof copy I tried to pass around the office, but I could never convince anyone else to check my work), that was the right call.

      I have a lot of friends who are self-published writers, and once in a while someone screws up and leaves an editing note in a book. Fortunately, these issues are easier to fix with print-on-demand titles, but I’ve seen my share of photos of [DESCRIBE HER FACE] and [ACTION HERE] in books that were supposed to be in their final form. Copyeditors are worth it!

  14. Loot*


    She’s already given you two excuses to use for not hiring her, you could use those to let her down more gently?

    So maybe: “I just wanted you to know that I can’t promise anything cause we need someone without any availabiliy restrictions and who’re able to take on more than 20 hours a week.”

    Though I’d probably also prepare for the inevitable blowup when she doesn’t get the job solely on the merit of being your friend. Cause it doesn’t sound like this will end well no matter what you do. (Including if you hire her! Sounds like she’ll expect a lot more benefits in the job from being your friend than just getting it and then blowup if she doesn’t get them.)

    1. valentine*

      you could use those to let her down more gently?
      You don’t want her solving problems that don’t exist. Best to have it out now, possibly once and for all. I would tell her flat the main reasons are the illegal driving and rage quitting.

      1. Natalie*

        The LW says they want to remain friends with them, so letting them down gently isn’t solving a problem that doesn’t exist. It’s smoothing things over a bit to preserve their relationship. There’s nothing wrong with that.

        1. SarahTheEntwife*

          Especially since in this case the softer answer is a concrete, logistical reason rather than a soft no or some mostly-made-up reason. Even if the friendship weren’t an issue and she was an excellent employee, she doesn’t have the availability the position needs.

          1. Colette*

            I think it’s OK to blame availability, but “I can’t promise anything” is not a no – it’s a likely yes – and that’s where that script should be changed.

        2. hbc*

          Yes, but if the gentle let-down is fake and has a solution, that toasts the friendship. “Sorry, I need someone who can work more hours.” “Okay, I’ll rearrange my schedule to be able to work those hours.” “Uh….”

          “I don’t feel comfortable hiring friends and family” is pretty much inarguable unless OP has already done that.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            This. Soften it too much and you’re just giving her a problem to solve, after which of course you’ll be thrilled to hire her.

          2. Natalie*

            That’s not what valentine was suggesting, they went for the (comparatively) nuclear option of rage-quitting and illegal driving. That was the comment I was responding to.

            1. LaurenB*

              Those are only nuclear options because the friend made it so. Why are we dancing around this? This friend is a questionable person.

    2. BRR*

      “I can’t promise anything” sounds like there’s still potential for the job or that LW might try to make it work. I’d be very clear that the friend’s schedule means she can’t fill this role.

      1. Marthooh*

        Yes. OP is going to have to say “no” sooner or later. Saying “well, maybe” first isn’t letting the friend down gently, it’s setting her up for a bigger disappointment.

      2. Loot*

        I was waffling between “I can’t promise anything” and “I’ll have to prioritize candidates who can fulfill those criteria (no availability issues or strict hour limit)” but ultimately I think that while “I can’t promise anything” is indeed very soft, it also has the subtext of “being my friend isn’t going to give you an automatic pass on this.”

        (Though admittedly I’m thinking of this with the assumption that the friend is going to react in an unreasonable manner and blow up in a rather bad way if told too directly that she isn’t getting hired. And I think that blow up is what LW would like to avoid.)

        ‘Sides, even if LW starts off with a soft no, she can still come back with a harder no. She can build on the first “no promises” with further “I don’t think it’s good for our friendship” or “there were other very strong candidates” or “your availability isn’t a good fit for what we need.”

  15. Retail*

    #5 is illegal everywhere not just in California and I haaaaate when people do it to themselves.

    I left a tool across the park and we only realized at about 3 minutes until it was time to clock out. Instead of calling the people near the tool and saying hey can you stash this inside, we’ll come get it in the morning, my coworker (been here about 4 years) said we had to go get it after clocking out. I refused and she got mad and said I’d explain the OT to our boss.

    She clocked out and went to get it, I went home. She drove a park vehicle on a crowded Friday afternoon to get a tool. The liability! The time she took from herself! (That’s at least fifteen minutes!)

    And just like the boss freaking about $1,000, the tool was a new broom.

  16. I coulda been a lawyer*

    I think I’d leave the rage quit out of my comment though. I’m sure she thinks that’s not her fault, and believe me there are bosses out there who don’t even deserve that much courtesy, but you have enough reasons with (1) I don’t want to ruin our friendship with boss/employee role and (2) I need both new employees to work more than 20 hours and with an earlier start.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Rage quitting is one of those things where if you do it once in your career, it was probably the job; if you do it 5 times in 3 years the common factor is you.

      Though I agree that the rage quitter isn’t likely to view that as a strong argument.

    2. Blue*

      I fully agree with this. If I were OP, I think I’d stick with, “I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I’m just not comfortable hiring a friend or family member.” You could even throw in, “I’ve heard too many stories about that going horribly wrong and I just don’t want to risk it,” and/or, “Besides, I need people with much more scheduling flexibility than you’re able to offer.” Commenting on the rage quitting shouldn’t be necessary (and almost certainly would blow up the friendship).

      1. Heidi*

        I’m not sure that the OP’s friend is going to view a “no friends/family” policy as a legitimate reason. It still gives her friend something to push back against. Plus, what if the OP wants to hire a different friend or relative who’s a great employee?

        If the truth is that the OP knows this friend’s employment history well and doesn’t think she’d be a good employee, she might need to say it out loud. Something along the lines of, “I love you, but I also know you, and I know I don’t want to be your boss.” There may not be a viable no-rage option here (other than hiring the friend, which OP has already ruled out), in which case, OP will just have to fortify the castle and let the rage happen.

    3. Lucille2*

      I disagree. I say include the rage quit comment. Friend might push back or be offended, but OP could frame as a risk they’re not willing to take. Example: “I’m not familiar with your work habits, but the way you’ve quit your most recent jobs concerns me. I can’t take the risk to our friendship or my job if I think there’s a chance you’ll quit with no notice.” All the other reasons are tip-toeing around the real problem and maybe the friend really needs to hear this. If OP did hire this friend and the friend ended up rage-quitting, both the friendship and job bridges are burned.

  17. HeyAnonanonnie*

    For LW1, look at it this way. If so we’re your boss and you hired this friend, I would consider seripuslybwhether you were fit to be the manager. That’s how bad of an idea hiring this person is.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      That’s absurd. Most businesses either have a rule about it if you can hire friends/family. Otherwise they don’t normally care. I’ve never seen a seasonal shop or small retail establishment go that hard on a rule because that limits options given how hard part timers are to come by. They’re not going to question her judgment unless the person has a background of theft or something.

      1. WellRed*

        I’d question her judgement for hiring someone that she knows has a history of quitting.

        1. HeyAnonanonnie*

          Not just quitting, rage quitting. And non fitting hours. Hiring a reliable friend is not an issue. Hiring a friend you know will be a problem? Fireable offense.

      2. Turquoisecow*

        I’d question her judgment if the person then turned out to be a terrible employee/coworker.

        Presumably one hires friends and family because they know them well enough to know they’ll do a good job. They don’t hire someone who they *know* right off the bat will have issues and be a bad worker. If they do, I question their judgment and their ability to judge who would be a good employee and who wouldn’t, and I’d be skeptical of any future hiring decisions they made or wanted to make.

      3. Observer*

        I think you’re missing the point. Hiring a friend in the context could work. Hiring someone you KNOW has rage quite MULTIPLE jobs in the span of a few years? That’s terrible judgement.

  18. MuseumChick*

    LW 1, here are some scripts depending on how honest you want to be with your friends

    1: “Sorry, the company won’t let me hire friends/family as it would be a conflict of interest.”
    2: “We need someone in this roll with more flexibility in their schedule.”
    3: “Jane, I’m you friend so I feel like I should be honest with you. I’ve seen you rage quit an number of jobs, plus, your breaking the law by driving. This is a hard thing for me to say but again, I want to be honest with you, I simply cannot hire someone with that kind of history.”

    My recommendation is to go with #2 if you really think you want this person in your life (though she doesn’t sound like a good person from what you describe.)

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      The problem with #2 is that friend could promise she could work more just to get the job, and then end up trying to re-work the schedule or call out when she’s supposed to be working. I think Alison’s response about not wanting to work with a friend is perfect. It’s the truth, and it gives her no way to provide a counter point as to why OP is off base. It’s how the OP feels and whether friends agrees or not, it’s a hard stop reason that can’t really be argued against.

      1. Brandy*

        This is the type of friend to take advantage of you. Shes already shown she wants to make the schedule. She knows you need better coverage. I understand only being available for certain hours but knowing so you dont apply for something needing more. You wouldnt do this if you were applying for a job with a stranger, dont take advantage of a friendship.

  19. PW*

    LW#2 might want to read up on 401k non-discrimination rules. If LW doesn’t can’t contribute to the 401k, the amount LW’s boss and owner of the company may be limited, and they may not be aware of those rules.

    1. Linzava*

      I came here to say this. I had a boss who payed far below market but pushed everyone to use the 401k because there was a minimum requirement and he wanted the program for himself. Though he had very bad boundries, he never went as far as OP#2s boss.

    2. Old and Don’t Care*

      That’s true but not the LW’s concern. The company can take advantage of safe harbors if the owners are that concerned.

      1. PW*

        It’s OP’s concern because they can use it as a bargaining chip to get a better raise. The 401k is worth less to HCEs/ownership if the cap is lower because OP isn’t contributing.

  20. Mimmy*

    #2 – Yeah your boss shouldn’t have done that without discussing it with you first. Definitely talk to him as soon as possible….hopefully it’s not too late.

  21. Phony Genius*

    On #5, is there a similar rule for things like damaging a vehicle while on duty, assuming it really was your fault?

    1. Emily K*

      In some states you can be financially penalized for a business mistake as long as it doesn’t take your pay before minimum wage or violate any contractual agreements you have with your employer about pay. California is one of a few states where you can’t be penalized financially for a mistake. As I understand, California’s law is actually very broad and says employers can’t push the cost of business onto employees, so it covers more than just mistakes – you also can’t be expected to purchase your own computer or other office supplies, for instance.

  22. Bagpuss*

    LW! – I would keep it really simple, and stick to not being comfortable hiring a friend.
    You can frame it as you valuing the freindship too much to risk complicating / damaging it by becoming her boss.
    I would also check what your employer’s hiring policy is and hen you have the potential back up of ‘ company policy doesn’t allow family or close friends’ if that is true.
    Hiring her, given all the issue you know she has, would almost certainly end the friendship anyway, as she does not sound like someone who would be able to deal with being managed, and you also run the risk that she would cuase you problems in your career as well.
    If she choses to end the friendship over this then yes, it will hurt, but it is on her, not you. There may be no way to not hire her and then stay friends, but if so, there’;s probably also no way to hire her, stay friends and keep your job.

  23. Perpal*

    OP2: while I understand the idea behind “matching” donations, it tends to disproportionately benefit people who are probably better equipped for retirement anyway, which I think defeats the whole idea of setting up a retirement account to benefit employees.
    If your employer has their heart set on a retirement account (and indeed you may be thankful for that someday), perhaps request they change the matching contribution clause to a set employer contribution? My employer just does a set contribution as a % of our salary and I am grateful I don’t have to add another bunch of financial calculations to best utilize my assets, even if I am contributing a good amount (this is the first year I am able to really start saving for retirment).

    1. Oxford Comma*

      All my life I have heard the advice to sock away as much as you can for retirement. Now that I’m finally in a position to do that, I’ve been giving the advice to other people, but what I need to keep reminding myself of is that for many people, that’s not feasible. You need the money to live on. You can’t set aside money for retirement easily if you’re having to make rent or pay for groceries.

    2. Bagpuss*

      Or a combination of both.

      Here (in the UK) a lot of larger employers will pay in a certain amount but also match payments in made by the employee, on top. (it’s complicated by the fact that there are now rules requiring both employer and employee to contribute, but a lot do more than the minimum required.)

      So you could ask them to put in (say) 5% of your salary and match anything you put in on top (up toa set limit)

    3. Lord Gouldian Finch*

      Also keep in mind fund fees and such – some companies are rather notorious about it. I never donated to my 401K, just got the safe harbor amount, because for years I was literally losing money (negative percentages). After leaving that job I switched it to a Vanguard fund and now it at least earns money…

      1. Perpal*

        Usually the point of a pooled/employer account is it should have a really good fee ratio you might not otherwise be able to access; if not it’s pretty useless!

  24. A Simple Narwhal*

    #2 reminds of a situation I was in years ago. I was brought on as a temp for a few months with extremely low pay and no benefits. I was only two years out of college and desperate for experience in my field, so I took it with the hope that it would turn into something permanent. Well the trial run goes great, and they decide to keep me on. I think this is my time to negotiate, so I go to my grand boss (who was in charge of the transition) and ask for a more fitting salary. She says she’ll consider it and talk to the powers that be. We meet the next day and she says that she can’t give me any more money, but she fought real hard and is able to offer me benefits. I was disappointed, but she made such a big deal over how hard she had to fight to just get me that, and how much she cared and how grateful I should be for what she was able to get me and that benefits weren’t normally offered to everyone, that I believed her and took the offer. Young and stupid I was. I later went to sign my papers with HR, and the HR person is like “…here’s the list of standard benefits we offer all of our full time employees”.

    The grand boss flat out lied. She didn’t pull any strings for me, she claimed that a standard thing offered to everyone was a special gift just for me as a ploy to not pay me more. I wish I could say that I went back and negotiated, or that I told someone she had lied to me. Young me was just so scared and dumb and desperate.

    But yea, people who act like they’re doing you a favor that only benefits them and is actively worse for you really burn my toast. I hope #2’s boss is acting in good faith and will be willing to make a change once they’re aware of the full situation.

  25. MistakesHappen*

    $1000 isn’t that big of a deal, and he is being a total jerk and as everyone has said asking her to work for free is illegal. I hope someone steps in and tells him to give it a rest.

    We had an employee order 2 t-shirts for the entire company and our company name was spelled wrong– that was about $20,000. And to make it even worse they had to pay another $4000 to have the shirts destroyed, they couldn’t even donate them because of the misspelled corporate name.

      1. Grace*

        I thought the mistake was going to be that he only ordered two! Or that there were two designs and both were spelt wrong, I guess.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      What????? You can donate that kind of thing to overseas charities.

      Sports teams do this. Nobody knows who will win the championship game so they print both teams shirts up for the rush immediately after the win. They send the others to orphanages in Africa or such. Nobody knows how to spell the company name in a tiny village far off. That’s absurdity to just mulch them out of such vanity.

      You don’t just burn them in fear of branding issues if you send a load to poor villages in Peru o_O

      1. MistakesHappen*

        It wasn’t my call, and when I mentioned that to the department who was handling it, they said they wouldn’t even consider it because our brand/products are in almost every country, and we have offices around the entire world. Such a friggin waste.

        1. Grace*

          Would there have been any way to remove the company name from them? A lot of designers, when they get their hands on fakes and counterfeit items, instead of destroying them they just remove the labels and embroidery etc that claim it’s a designer item and then donate them.

  26. Conifer*

    #3 for some reason reminds me of the first episode of I Think You Should Leave where the guy asks if his friend likes his birthday present. “Well if you really like it, you would throw away the gift receipt!”

  27. Me*

    While #5 cannot and should not be financially penalized for this, the boss isn’t exactly out of line here with the anger. The desired discipline yes, the reaction less so. I’m kind of baffled so many people seem to think the boss is making a mountain out of a molehill. It’s not about $1000 dollars.

    Jane didn’t just make an error. She made an error, the error was corrected and then she made another largely unfixable error. She made the client look bad and by extent made her company look bad. That’s the real oof, not the money.

    I think it’s wise for Jane to meet with the boss, say something about understanding the gravity of what she did and how she will implement x, y, z from now on to ensure such an error never happens again.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      The problem–beyond the fact that mistakes do happen–is the lack of xyz in place to, for example, make sure that it’s actually very difficult to grab an older copy. (For example, on my last subproject we had strict timeframes in which each of us could do our thing to the files, so that we wouldn’t accidentally overwrite each other. One thing that made this work was generous timelines during which each of us could complete our step while stirring a few other pots, rather than blurgle-ack timelines.)

      I imagine this arising out of an organically grown file system where it’s easier to stick on another patch than to have only the last file available, with all other files neatly tucked away elsewhere or at least renamed llama.groom.ver21.DONOTUSE. Boss, or someone, should use this as the kick in the pants needed to improve the internal processes that catch these things before they go out to clients.

      I once worked on a project that got embarrassingly far along before someone caught a typo in a (short!) chapter title. There had been a lot of problems on the page, and by the time the text was where it needed to be in content AND edited down enough to allow for good placement of the art AND the art had been fixed AND they’d both been massaged to look nice rather than clunkily stuck together… well at some point it had become “When Your Llamas Go Rouge” and it took a few more rounds for someone to catch that and flip it back to Rogue.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        This. The process is at fault as well – why was a known incorrect document left in the same place as the corrected one? And why didn’t it then go through the same internal QA a second time? (QA bod here – if you find a bug, you don’t take their word for it that it was fixed – you check the fixed version!)

        So yeah, mistakes weren’t good. But

        – she told people. Straight away. You have no idea how valuable that quality is.
        – the processes are also to blame.

      2. Me*

        Actually we don’t know that processes are to blame. For all we know, there were processes in place and Jane didn’t follow them.

        And I do know how valuable owning errors are, that doesn’t mean a given error isn’t a big deal and doesn’t warrant action.

        My only point is people seem to be fixating on oh 1k no biggie. It’s actually a very biggie, that fortunately had a small financial impact.

        1. zora*

          But the issue is HOW you deal with the problem, not whether or not it’s a problem.

          Even if it was a $5 million mistake, it is still illegal to claw back that money from the employee in California.

          Yes, you can say, “This was a very serious mistake, this could hurt our business irrevocably, that was unacceptable. You are fired.” And protect your company from Jane and her errors in the future. But you cannot make her pay for the mistake or work unpaid for any reason.

          I think you are reading into people’s messages. They are saying that $1,000 mistakes are the cost of doing business financially. You can be angry, you can fire the person, you can take all kinds of action. In California, that action cannot be getting the money back from the person who made the mistake.

  28. LaDeeDa*

    #4 I wasn’t clear on that question either. If it is that the recruiter was reaching out to the person for the same position, I actually think it makes the OP look good! It shows that among your colleagues you have a good relationship with mutual respect. And maybe also the colleague knows you are a better fit for the position! If that is what you are asking, I wouldn’t do anything.

    If it is that they didn’t want to give a reference at that stage of the process, well.. that is just odd. I would call the recruiter and apologize and say you were confused that they had that response. I don’t think the recruiter would hold that against you.

  29. boop the first*

    5. Okay so who’s idea was it to keep copies of files around with mistakes in them? For a mistake that is so minor that I couldn’t even see it in the example until re-reading, it would be WAY too easy to grab the wrong file. Especially if this is a digital file and nobody changed the title to “error don’t use this!!”. But yeah, if it’s a digital file, shouldn’t it have been overwritten? Why keep the bad one? Why would anyone WANT this to happen? I’m shocked it doesn’t happen literally every day if this is the case…

    1. LaDeeDa*

      YES! That was my first thought too! Why was there a file kept with a mistake, how was that file saved/named? Why isn’t there some document management happening?

    2. Mimmy*

      I was also wondering this and it is making me wonder what are the best practices for file management, especially when you have multiple drafts. But I’ll table that until the Open Thread later today :)

    3. Akcipitrokulo*

      Absolutely. Move it to a different folder and rename it “Draft Llama Report 2019 DO NOT USE!”

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        Me, put DRAFT into the title of documents, and move old versions to the “archive” folder if I can’t bear to trash them. So “archive” is literally part of the network path of the filename. And that’s just for me, working with my own documents. Once you have multiple people in the same folders, you need a non-manual solution for this.

    4. Lepidoptera*

      There are some reasons to keep this sort of thing (I have to do it, for discoverability purposes) but there should be clear rules about R/W permissions, file naming, and categorization so that no one is using old files willy-nilly. Agree that this company needs a revision management system.

  30. Amethystmoon*

    Mistakes like #5 usually happen because of procedural issues. Why was no one else reviewing the materials besides Jane? There should be a second pair of eyes to double-check things before stuff gets printed, even just to look at it to make sure there are no glaring mistakes. And yes I agree, no one should keep the old files around with mistakes in them if it’s too easy to mix them up. Or at least do something like put them in red folders with “do not use” labels and keep the good ones in beige folders.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      Yes to the second pair of eyes – especially since you should NEVER proofread or test your own work. Your knowledge of the subject matter means you are likely to have blind spots. You know you *meant* to say “this is possible… ” so eyes slide over “this isn’t possible…” because you read what you expect to read.

      1. Grace*

        The advice I’ve seen is to change the font before you re-read it if a second reader isn’t possible. You’ve read it so many times in the process of writing and editing that you know what you expect to see, but changing what you’re seeing (font, colour, size, margins, everything) can trigger your brain to see it how it *really* is, because you’re not on autopilot.

        (I’m fairly sure this was from a discussion on why, when writing things for the internet including fanfic, you don’t notice all your mistakes and typos until you post – because you’re used to seeing in your standard word processing program, and posting it changes how it looks, so now all your mistakes are obvious.)

        1. L. S. Cooper*

          And if you don’t notice all your mistakes when you post, the comments section sure will…

  31. azvlr*

    OP#2, this may or may not be something that affects your final paycheck. 401k contributions are taken out pre-tax, so your net pay may be the same as if you were not contributing, and then the company match on top of it will make it grow faster than you might otherwise think.

    That said, it still pisses me off that you should have to choose between present and future security. The company should pay you enough to fund both.

    1. De Minimis*

      I agree–I’ve been in situations where I’ve adjusted my 401k contributions for financial reasons and have often found the net pay impact is fairly minimal especially if we’re talking about a few percent.

      I agree though, I think it’s a really crappy thing that the employer is doing here.

    2. LGC*

      Doing some back-of-the-envelope calculations, it’s roughly $5 per week per percent – so, yeah, I can understand why LW2 isn’t happy about this. If it’s a 5% contribution, the extra $1300 or so in take-home pay per year would be nice! (Even if it’s an extra $3000 or so in my retirement account.)

      I personally believe that having a 401k is a really good idea, especially with an employer match. I have one myself, and although I’m not rolling in dough, I’ve maxed out my employer match (so, I put in 5% and they put in 4%). I advocate strongly to employees that they should sign up for it. I’m also glad that it’s not mandatory, especially since most of my team is making about what OP2 makes or less.

      I feel like, a lot of the time, higher earners forget what lower earners have to deal with. For someone making $100k/year, this might work out well – 5% of their pre-tax income might be easier to deal with because they’re still making $95k pre-tax. (Also, they pay more in taxes.) But for someone making $30k, they’re already a bit squeezed.

    3. Old Biddy*

      At $30k annually, I suspect there’s not much difference between pre- and post-tax. The employer should offer the 401k without any requirement for matching funds.
      I work at a university and one of the best thing about the benefit package is that they contribute 10% of our salaries to a 403b, no match needed.

    4. Can't think of a name*

      Also, the OP should look into the Savers Tax Credit. Depending on the OP’s filing status, she might be eligible for a tax credit of up to 50 percent of her contribution to the retirement plan.

      1. A Non E. Mouse*

        I took advantage of the Saver’s Credit when I was broke as a joke; BUT I had financial security through other means, so I *could* take advantage of it.

        It also took a lot of work to make sure I put enough into the 401K to lower my income enough to qualify for the credit while still maintaining enough for me and my kids to live on. I ran a check of the numbers each quarter, because even a little bit of OT every couple of weeks could move the needle.

        Again, it was only worth it because I already had security from other sources (family nearby wouldn’t have let us go hungry), so without that? I’d skip the whole damn thing, and only consider it if I got a raise.

        Like now that the 401K is in place, any raise she could consider contributing a percent of to the 401K…but not the whole raise, because inflation.

    5. Gretchen*

      When I had my second kid (9 years ago!) I looked at reducing my contributions to have more money for daycare, but when I ran the numbers my net pay was basically the same, just that by reducing my contributions meant I paid more in taxes, so I left it alone. (and I was definitely closer to 30k than 100k, I want to say I was at about 40 at the time.) I would run the true costs to see if it’s really as hard as it seems – X% of my net pay post-tax would be hard, but pre-tax it has always been a wash. YMMV.

  32. Plays with matches*

    OP#2, my employer used to do matched retirement contributions, but recently they changed it so they contribute 5% of your salary and you can choose to contribute up to 5% of your salary pre-tax. I think this is a much kinder way to offer people savings than forcing a match.

  33. Sara without an H*

    Re OP#3: I really wish recruiters and hiring managers would stop using the word “love” in relation to jobs, interviews, etc., when they mean “you’re a strong candidate and we’re enthusiastic about you.” Like comparing jobs to “families,” it injects an inappropriate personal note into a professional proceeding, and confuses job seekers, who are likely to be under a lot of emotional stress as it is.

    It’s great to have someone in your life who loves you, but it’s unlikely to be your employer.

    1. RainToday*

      This is a great point. I had a recruiter tell me recently that a hiring manager would “love” to set up an interview with me. It made me feel good and I thought it meant I was a strong candidate. In reality the hiring manager wasn’t really all that interested in me and seemed to just want to get through their list of questions. I guess it’s my fault for reading anything in to it, but the recruiter could have just asked if I could come in for an interview without using the word “love” at all.

      1. Sara without an H*

        Bad recruiter. Take anything else they tell you with several grains of salt.

  34. soon 2be former fed*

    An employer who never wants to suffer any financial impact from employee mistakes can look into securing bonding for those employees. It’s not just for direct financial jobs. Otherwise, its a cost of doing business.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Some times large cost errors are built into liability insurance packages I’ve seen!

      Transit is a huge thing too, if it’s lost in transit, technically the carrier is responsible but there’s a lot of loop holes in there to save them from paying you more than actual costs. So if my truckload of 100k products gets sucked into a black hole, the insurance covers it.

      BUT! You run into the fact that if you have insurance and bonds on things, you are still going to lose something when your rates and renewals are increased. So it’s never a freebie in the end but again, cost of business.

  35. Colorado*

    OP#1 – I have a friend like this and though she is my friend, I would never hire her or even recommend her for employment. That’s her problem, not mine. You just say, I need someone with more flexibility (you do) and this would not work because of our friendship (it won’t). Simple as that. If she rages at you, well then you have confirmed why it’s a bad idea to hire her. If she understands, then she respects your friendship and those are the kind of friends you want to have.

    I’m going on a limb here but IMO people who rage quit every job they’ve had for 3 years has other issues. That doesn’t have to be your problem, I’m sure there are qualities you enjoy about your friendship. But I’d be awful weary of having her in your place of employment with that track record.

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      Honestly! I mean, a person can just quit a job, and that’s still a problem if they quit 5 jobs in 3 years. But they don’t have to rage-quit. That’s taking things to a whole ‘nother level.

  36. StaceyIzMe*

    For the letter writer who doesn’t want to hire her friend- you can consider this one of the first tests of your managerial skill. We all wear different “hats” in life and fulfill roles that have differing demands. But to be a person of integrity, you can’t materially sacrifice the requirements of one role in order to fulfill another. You can’t hire your friend in good conscience. She might be a good friend, but she’s a lousy employee and you need to keep that reality firmly in view. She’s already requesting not only hire but priority consideration for certain specific hours and reduced hours? No. That’s a firm “no”. (Or “that won’t be possible”, if you need to soften it. It would also be wise to avoid anything JADE. Justify, Argue, Defend, Explain). If you open up any way for her to bring you into discussion, she can bring you into negotiation by one of those four methods. Don’t do it. Keep to a simple, firm “no”.

    1. JSPA*

      “no” is only a complete sentence if you don’t mind burning bridges or stonewalling friends. I’d go with, “I know we don’t have anything coming up that fits you. I think of you a lot, and I’m keeping your needs and skills in mind. If I see something that makes me think of you, I’ll call you right away.” That way, you’re on her “team” as a friend, but not holding out false hope or inviting further requests. If she asks again anyway, “It’s complicated–I don’t have the power to restructure things in a way that would make that work.”

      1. StaceyIzMe*

        Your point is well made that stonewalling friends and burning bridges can result from a plain “no”. But- when you’re dealing with someone who demands part-time hours, demands to be hired through a friend and who is reported as having rage quit several jobs- you’re not dealing with someone so fragile that a gentle hint is going to come through loud and clear. Sometimes it’s kinder to be direct and clear than it is to hint. (Or deflect. Or soften. Or apologize when it’s not appropriate to do so.) If anyone is lighting a bridge on fire or being a metaphorical stone wall, it’s the person who is so clueless that they see no difficulty with “I’m going to have that job, on my terms… sign me up!” with no consideration of the impact on her friend or the business.

      2. Observer*

        I’m not sure that the OP should worry too much about burning that bridge. I would NOT advise saying that you’ll call them “if something comes up.” That just keeps the conversation going, and it’s just going to make things worse.

        Also, if the only way you can keep a relationship going is to lie, then the relationship is well past it’s expiration.

  37. Elizabeth West*

    #2–This is a real problem with lower-paid jobs. Often you can’t afford to contribute to a 401K, like the OP says, because your budget is stretched so tight. And generally there’s a threshold below which you can’t roll the 401K over if you leave the job. If you can’t contribute much, it would take years to reach the point where you can roll it without incurring a penalty. Most people aren’t staying in jobs that long anymore, especially low-paid ones.

    It’s happened to me more than once. I always get hit with a tax penalty, to the point where I will eschew having a 401K if I’m not making enough. They forced it at OldExjob and I was so pissed off–I knew what would happen, and when I got laid off, sure enough I had to cash it out and the IRS took a big chunk of it. The only time I came out ahead was when I got fired from Exjob; I actually had enough to move it into a money market account. Of course, that’s gone now thanks to this protracted unemployment, but whatever.

    Definitely talk to your boss, OP. If it’s optional, you might be able to get out of it.

    1. Old and Don’t Care*

      You can always roll a 401k distribution to an IRA without tax penalty. If you have the IRA set up before you receive the 401k distribution the 401k plan can issue payment directly to the IRA for the full amount and there are no tax implications. If you don’t have the IRA set up you’ll receive the distribution less 20% withholding. You can make the 20% up yourself and roll the entire amount over, without tax penalty but there will be forms to deal with.

  38. West Coast Reader*

    OP #3 – They’re interviewing other people to make sure they will hire the right person. For example, if I’m shopping, even if I find something I love right away, I like to explore other options first. Then when I DO go with the first thing I saw, I’m confident in my decision. Otherwise, I would wonder if I made the right choice. If we have to compare options when we’re shopping, then we should definitely be doing it for hiring.

  39. Happy Pineapple*

    OP #3 I don’t want to get your hopes up too much because sometimes recruiters can be too enthusiastic before the job is a done deal, but I was recently in your shoes. A recruiter approached me with a position and I went through two round of phone interviews where both she and the manager repeatedly said I was a “perfect fit” and that I was exactly what they were looking for.” They used language like “after you start,” “you’re going to be a great addition to the team,” and “when you’re hired” rather than “if/maybe/could be/etc.”

    They asked me to come into the office and “meet the team” and truly acted like this was just a formality before I was extended a firm offer. When I arrived I found out I was one of four candidates being interviewed at that exact same time. Although I don’t know, it’s quite possible these other candidates were being told the same things. But the good news for me is that I was hired two days later! So have hope, but also take anything you hear before a job offer is extended with a grain of salt.

    1. OP #3*

      OP #3 here. Thank you so much! They have called me in for a final(I hope) interview. This is the 5th one & it’s an hour long with just the in-house recruiter. I’m slightly confused that she has been at all rounds of the interviews and they still have not made an offer but being hopeful that I have it in the bag ;)

  40. HailRobonia*

    I momentarily read that as a single topic, i.e. How to tell your friend that you don’t want to hire her and also that your employer loves you…

  41. Lucille2*

    #5 – Bosses like this are the reason people are afraid to admit to making mistakes, even if they are not this costly. I had an employee I had to terminate for this very reason. She made some mistakes that she shouldn’t have been making, but I was willing to work with her to improve. She had to go on a PIP it was so bad. Every time she missed a detail or completed a task haphazardly, she would lie to me anytime I talked to her about it. She would NEVER admit to making a mistake.

    People make mistakes, even stellar employees. It can be a sign that there is a vulnerability in the process, your employee has taken on too much work, there are other distractions, or just plain old human error. In the case of my employee, if I couldn’t trust her, neither could our clients, so I couldn’t keep her on.

  42. learnedthehardway*

    LW1 – you’ve got very strong reasons for NEVER hiring your friend into ANY position, and definitely NEVER refer her for one, either. Not unless she has a successful personality transplant.

    That said, it can be really hard to say no to friends / family, particularly when it’s a junior type role that doesn’t have any highly specialized/rare skill requirements.

    One thing that you can do – if you are really uncomfortable with the situation but don’t feel able to directly reject your friend. Tell your manager about the situation and that you’re NOT going to hire the person, and why. Just say, “Look, I have this friend who is really unreliable, has rage-quit 3 roles in the last 3 years, isn’t open to the hours we need, and I am NOT going to hire her. Are you good with this decision?”
    The manager will no doubt be relieved you are so sensible.
    And you can truthfully tell your friend you brought up her candidacy, but the manager rejected her in favour of other candidates who have a better fit with the role.

  43. Beth*

    OP1: I think this friendship is probably reaching its end no matter what you do. If you don’t hire your friend, based on what you’ve said of her, it seems likely that she’ll be pretty angry and possibly rage-quit the friendship. If you do, based on her history, she’s likely to cause conflict over availability and possibly rage-quit the job, leaving you in a really difficult position.

    The only way I can see to handle this situation and maintain the friendship is to make yourself into a doormat and put up with whatever she throws at you–and that’s not a tenable relationship strategy. At least if you decline to hire her, you’ll only be risking the friendship, instead of the friendship and your reputation at work.

  44. Cynthia*

    The only people who believe in Dream Jobs and Dream Companies are the ones who haven’t been hired into those places and positions.

    1. OP #3*

      Maybe & maybe not. I think a dream job or dream company can mean anything to anyone. In my case dream job because following extensive research the role includes all the functions that i’m both curious and excited about. I’m passionate about the industry & familiar with some of the role it but there are a parts of it that I will find challenging. For me a challenging position for in an industry I’m passionate about is the dream. I have always sought out roles that make me feel that way in dream companies & I’m yet to be wrong. Dream companies for me are ones whose mission and values align with mine for that specific time in my life. Of course a dream job / dream company can turn out not to be so after you start working there but the chances are slim if you do your homework.

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