my coworker is hassling me about his peer feedback, employee calls me “buttercup,” and more

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

1. My coworker is hassling me about his peer feedback

In my department, we’re asked to provide feedback for year-end reviews for our manager, other managers, and peers. The feedback is collected and delivered anonymously to the recipient by their manager. The process works well. However, based on some details provided, you can sometimes tell who wrote what about you.

I have one coworker, Barry who doesn’t do such a great job and hasn’t since he started. Not a go-getter, lack of initiative, etc. We really want him to do well on our team and we try to provide constructive feedback during this time. Our manager also provides it during the year. However, sometimes this feedback is taken as a personal attack with no plans to improve himself.

The problem is that after Barry receives this feedback, he often goes on a witch hunt to find out who said it. I have been cornered in my office and have received emails to my personal account grilling me about his feedback and trying to find out who said what. I am especially concerned this year because I have provided feedback to my manager, Jack, regarding Barry’s performance on projects we have worked on together. This was not a stellar year for Barry. I just know I (and others) will be cornered and asked if I knew about what was said and whether or not I agree with the feedback. To make it harder, Barry and I have worked together for about 15 years and were really close for a long time. Most of those years we were at another company in a different role/skill set and in that role Barry did great.

Jack came to me and said to be prepared for potential backlash and that he would help shut it down. But in the moment, what is the best thing to say to Barry? Defer him to our manager? I feel like by saying “You should really talk to Jack” is only confirming that feedback came from me.

Jack needs to shut this down before it happens. Go back to him and explain that Barry has a pattern of cornering you in your office, grilling you on who said what in his feedback, and even emailing you outside of work to try to push for answers. Say you’re not comfortable being in that position and it makes it harder to give candid feedback, and ask that he talk with Jack during or before his performance evaluation to make it clear he can’t do that this year — that it’s unacceptable, that it deters people from providing feedback, and that he’s explicitly telling him he can’t do it. Or Jack could talk with your whole team about why this isn’t okay, explain the system relies on people being able to trust feedback will be kept anonymous, and say that people should let Jack know if anyone is violating those boundaries.

That will set you up so that if Barry pushes, you can say, “Jack asked us not to have these conversations so I’m not going to talk with you about this.”

If Jack isn’t willing to do that, it’s still fine to say, “I’m uncomfortable being asked to speculate on who gave what anonymous feedback. You should talk to Jack, not me.” And if he still pushes: “Barry, this isn’t a conversation I’m willing to have. Please stop.” And then tell Jack immediately.

But it’s really problematic that Barry has apparently been doing a bad job there for years. It’s time for Jack to resolve this one way or another.

2. My employee calls me “buttercup”

How should I respond to someone (Betty) who reports to me when she calls me by a pet name? I am 45, and she is 61 and consistently calls me “buttercup.” I don’t know why, but what started as a “What’s up, buttercup?” during our weekly project debriefing has now become Betty’s consistent reference for me. I find it demeaning and feel she is trying to diminish my authority as her supervisor and in front of others on my team.

My supervisor is younger than me by six years and Betty would never think to refer to her in this unprofessional manner.

“You know, I actually don’t like ‘buttercup’! Would you mind just calling me Jane? Thank you!”

That’s it.

To the extent that you can, try to believe Betty is doing this not because she’s trying to diminish your authority but because she just doesn’t know you don’t like it. If you see other signs that she’s trying to undermine you, you should of course address those — but you’ll probably handle this more calmly and with less angst if you give her the benefit of the doubt.

3. How do I tell my boss about my predecessor’s mistakes?

I recently started a new job at a start-up, and one of my duties is supervising all internal and external documentation. The good news for me is that the vast majority was created under my predecessor, so that project is largely considered wrapped up. The bad news is that the more I review what was already done, the more mistakes I find. Few of these are serious errors; it’s mostly grammar, spelling, typos, and awkward or confusing wording. I think the small ones make us look terrible when they pile up like this, though, especially when they appear on client-facing documents.

I have already started cracking down on glaring errors in any new content, but the older documents are weighing on me. I’ve done as much editing as I can on the spot, but I have a lot of other duties and can only do so much. Everyone on my team also has pressing obligations right now.

I want to bring the issue to my boss’s attention (and possibly even suggest hiring a professional copy editor for a few hours) but I’m not sure how to go about this. My predecessor was a colleague of mine, and my boss and I both have a great deal of respect for them. I also suspect the team was under pressure to create a lot of documentation very quickly. How do I bring this up without feeling like I’m badmouthing them or asking for too much?

The key is to be matter-of-fact about it: “I’ve found a lot of our older documents have grammar and spelling errors or typos, probably because they needed to be created quickly. I’ve been fixing them as I find them, but I don’t have the time to systematically go through them all. I’m concerned it doesn’t reflect well on us to clients, so I wondered if you’d be okay with me hiring a copy editor for a few hours of work to tackle this.”

In other words, just the facts! It would come across differently if you sounded scandalized or contemptuous of the previous director, but as long as you don’t, you don’t need to dance around it. Use the same tone you’d use if you found a problem with the printer — as if it’s just a work problem, not a predecessor problem.

4. My office keeps scheduling important trainings on Jewish holidays

At my office, which is a very liberal workplace in a liberal east coast city, I am one of the few practicing Jewish employees. My issue is that we keep having mandatory trainings or very useful trainings on Jewish holidays (like on Yom Kippur) that I would love to attend but can’t. My supervisor is very understanding and no one gets upset that I can’t go, but I feel that I’m missing out on things I need to know. For me, it would be a lot better if they took these days into account instead of just being lenient in forgiving my inability to attend. What is the best way to ask this of them? Side note: our school district also includes several Jewish holidays as school holidays, so this is difficult for parents as well as religious Jews.

Yes, they need to correct this.

Try saying this: “We’ve been scheduling key trainings on important Jewish holidays, which means that I and other observant Jews can’t attend. I know inclusivity is an important value for us (that’s useful to say even if it’s not true, as it often makes people feel they should live up to it) so could we take the Jewish calendar into account when we schedule trainings? Here’s a list of the most important holidays to avoid.”

5. Can I get out of traveling for a mandatory year-end meeting?

My company has a mandatory year-end meeting in Washington D.C. Most employees work in that area but there are a handful of us in the Pacific Northwest. The meeting is always the week before Christmas and they make us fly basic economy. They pay for the flight and hotel, but not for any food expenses or anything else. Every time I’ve gone, I get the flu from the nasty flight full of sick people, and this means my Christmas is pretty much ruined. Do I have a right to decline attending? I’ve asked that they just include a webinar of the meeting for those of us off-site, but they have refused.

Since it’s mandatory, you can’t just decline — but you might be able to get out of it if you talk with your manager about the problem it causes. Explain it’s a very difficult time of year to travel for a week, given the other commitments you have then, and you can’t afford to pick up the expenses inherent in the travel, like food and other incidentals. Try to put numbers on it if you can: “Last year I ended up paying $310 for food and cabs, and I’m not in a position to continue to cover that.” Then say, “I’d strongly prefer to attend remotely or watch a video of the meeting afterwards. Is there any way we can make that work?” If not, you could say, “If it’s essential that I be there in person, I’d need the company to cover all the expenses associated with the trip.”

You might have better chances of making a change if you can get some or all of the other remote people to make this request with you.

{ 585 comments… read them below }

  1. New Jack Karyn*

    5) They don’t pay for meals or ground transport? What the what? I mean really, what the everlovin’ what?

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Right?? That’s a basic cost of doing business, it’s real lousy to pass that onto employees.

    2. Zip Silver*

      Yeah, that’s a basic thing for business travel. If I were OP, I’d get with other folks and push back about not having expenses reimbursed before bringing up that they don’t want to travel that week or mentioning being bothered by germs on planes. I’d probably roll my eyes if I had somebody come to me trying to get out of travel with a flu argument.

        1. Monican*

          I really don’t think its reasonable to try to get out of having to make the trip at all, especially if these are the kind of day long, interactive meetings that a lot of companies do at the end of each year to prepare for the next year. It’s really hard to join those types of meetings remotely, especially if OP would be the only one joining remotely. 

          I do think that OP and others who travel to the meeting should ask for per diem. That’s a standard business expense that the employer should be covering, but the other complaints are not very strong. Not wanting to go because planes have germs is just not a good enough reason to get out of a mandatory meeting.

          1. Green great dragon*

            There’s also the timing. Would they be willing to shift it to January when the planes are a bit quieter? And at least if you’re ill it’s not over Christmas… Otherwise we get into the problem of the preceding letter – ‘as a remote employee I can never attend the big year-end meetings when the rest of the company gets insights and training and visibility…’

            (I would hate the timing because sometimes I like to take a long break around Christmas to visit family.)

            1. Wintermute*

              I would focus on the timing: “this is a huge time of year for family obligations, and it’s not fair to tell employees that ‘you’re never going to make your wife’s work’s holiday party, your family’s gift exchange or your kids’ christmas player ever so long as you work here”

              1. CheeryO*

                Yeah, I can’t believe this isn’t an automatic no-go for the Pacific NW folks. That’s an insane expectation right before Christmas.

                1. Parenthetically*

                  I absolutely agree. For people who don’t have to travel: annoying but fine. For people who are traveling from the other side of the country? This is WHY we have technology.

                2. Emmie*

                  It’s a difficult time of year for many people. Plus, it’s not okay to fly people across country, or on business in basic economy with all of its restrictions, and avoid paying the travel expenses.

                3. Risha*

                  Frankly, it’s bad timing even for locals. Tons of people will want to take that week off for family/travel/non-Christian holiday reasons.

                4. NoLongerStuckInRetailHell*

                  Sorry, but that’s part of the deal working for this company. I worked in retail for 11 years and never being able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with your family, as well as not being able to take any time off from Nov. 1st to mid January was just part of the deal. So forgive me if I’m not too sympathetic to missing a spouse’s Christmas party and having to travel the week before Christmas. I do agree that they should cover all expenses though.

              2. #5 OP*

                OP here. Yes! I can never attend my husband’s (way more fun) holiday party at his work. It always seems to collide with mine.

                1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

                  Well, I’ve flown a from Florida to California to Oregon in basic economy with little issues. It’s survivable. Just last week I enjoyed a middle seat in economy class from Newark to Frankfurt, an 8 hours flight, due to a last-minute rebooking.
                  But I’m somewhat used to it; last year I had a month with over 80 hours in the air, covering four continents – fortunately the longest (14 and 16 hours) flights were in business class.
                  Pack a pillow, good headphones (I recommend Bose), industrial strength airplugs and a sleeping mask, and have the luck of a not-taller-than-average body, and you’re okay. Not great, but okay.

                2. Devil Fish*

                  @Kuddel Do you have some helpful advice for OP that you forgot to post or did you just want to brag about your superhuman abilities to “survive” work travel in basic economy/criticize the OP for not sucking it up instead of looking for other solutions?

                  OP can’t change their height, might not want to (or be able to) sleep through a daytime flight, and probably isn’t interested in buying high-end headphones for a once a year trip. And none of this addresses their actual concern: getting sick every. single. time. they’ve gone on this trip.

              3. Massive Dynamic*

                “…. so long as you work here.”

                This is a great point. OP, does your company have any hiring/retention problems? Because this trip is extremely tone-deaf to the fact that people are humans who tend to get together with friends and family for All Sorts of Extra Things during the holidays, and they want all of their employees to forego a significant chunk of this for the big meeting each year.

            2. Monican*

              Yes, I agree the timing isn’t great and if a lot of OP’s coworkers are also unhappy about the timing, they may be able to get it changed, but I assume the company chose that week for a reason and it might not be possible to change it. If OP is the only one bothered by the timing, I don’t think its a good idea to use that as a reason to get out of going to the meeting.

            3. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yes, it’s the timing more than anything else (besides the expenses). It’s worth raising. They’re not asking to have it moved, just to be able to attend virtually.

              1. Rugby*

                If attending virtually were a suitable option, the employer would probably already be doing that for all remote employees to save money. My employer does these kind of year end trainings/meetings and joining remotely is not an option because it’s too hard to have a handful of virtual participants during discussions and group work. Of course, this depends on the company, but OP should think about whether this request would come across as out of touch at her employer.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I wouldn’t assume that! A lot of companies default to having people attend in person, both because that’s how they’ve always done it and because there are legitimately benefits to having people there in person (as you note). But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t take the request seriously. I agree the OP needs to think about whether asking would come across as out of touch in her particular workplace, but that’s the case with any advice here.

                2. Observer*

                  That’s totally not true. For one thing, good video conferencing might not save that much money (remember, they are not paying the full cost of the travel), especially in the first year. Also, lots of companies have all sorts of rule around spending money that cause some odd choices – in this case one thing that jumps to mind id CapEx vs OpEx (ie purchasing equipment vs operating costs.) Also, there is the VERY string pull of “we’ve always done it this way” and “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. We have a lot of other priorities.” And it may not even have occurred to any decision makers that video conferencing could present a viable and cost saving alternative.

                3. #5 OP*

                  OP here. That’s a really good point but this meeting isn’t interactive at all. It’s just different managers going up on stage and congratulating each other on their recent work. Every time I’ve gone, it hasn’t pertained to me or my job at all. It would be very easy for them to stick a web cam up and have a virtual option, in my opinion.

                4. Gaia*

                  That is not inherently true. They may assume their employees view this as a benefit and would want to attend in person.

          2. Shadowbelle*

            “Not wanting to go because planes have germs is just not a good enough reason to get out of a mandatory meeting.”

            I disagree. It’s a health and safety issue. OP has gotten the flu “every time”. So the trip puts OP at risk, puts everyone OP meets at the training at risk, and so forth, in ever-widening circles. OP may be more susceptible to contracting the flu. This isn’t “fear of getting the flu”, it’s actually getting the flu. WHO and CDC and many other organizations take the flu very seriously.

            1. paxfelis*

              This may backfire. Some bigwig may ask, “Why isn’t the OP getting the flu shot?” I’m not saying the OP should, and quite frankly any of the OP’s health is none of my business (and very limited business of OP’s employers).

              However, if getting the flu is presented and easily shot down by a “relatively simple” preventative measure, other objections may be regarded as less significant than they are simply because one of the first objections presented was so “trivial.”

              1. #5 OP*

                Oh, yes I do get the flu shot every year. I still usually end up getting the flu though (or what could be some other viral illness) that lasts 1-2 weeks.

                1. KoiFeeder*

                  A bit of an off-topic curiosity, but would you say that you always get the flu when in large groups of people, or just on planes, or just this particular trip? For context, Imuran means I’m immunosuppressed, and “I always get the flu on this stupid trip” rang a bell with me.

                1. Shadowbelle*

                  Yes, it’s a question of reducing the risk, not eliminating it. I started getting the flu shot when I turned 60 and officially moved into the “at risk” group. I never bothered before because 1) apart from migraines, I’m rarely sick, and 2) I’m never around other people who are in high-risk groups.

          3. #5 OP*

            OP here. That’s a really good point but I should have mentioned that this meeting is super pointless, in my opinion. It’s 1-2 hours and it seems to just be for management to self-congratulate each other on their recent work. There’s no training nor information shared that even pertains to me. I don’t even know any of these people because I don’t actually work with any of them. I’m a consultant for this company so they assign me to projects at other companies. I never work with the people at my own company.

            1. Mrs_helm*

              They may want as many people as possible there because it heightens the “reward” for the recipients. (It is not nearly as exciting to get an award in front of a few people & a camera.)

              While I do agree with AAM in theory, a couple other options came to mind. (1) Get the flu a week earlier this time. (2) Check with your Dr about your immune system, and if possible ask for the video conf “as an accommodation”.

            2. Shadowbelle*

              A dear friend is a famous scholar of religion (famous meaning that if you are in his area of specialty, you know of him, and if not, you’ve probably never heard of him) and frequently attends conferences in his field. He has been pushing very hard, and with fair success, to get these conferences to use teleconferencing technologies and not expect everyone to fly across the country on a semi-regular basis. His argument is that failure to use teleconferencing limits participation to people with money and leisure — we’re talking scholars and clergy, the majority of whom just ain’t so rich. He attended one recent conference by teleconference. It would have required him to travel literally across the country and stay in a hotel for a couple of days — and the conference lasted three hours.

            3. Galahad*

              That you are a remotely working employee, that does not interact with the others at this meeting the rest of the year…. is the number one reason why you, personally, should make going a priority. You need people to see your face, hear your voice, and have coffee / breakfast etc with you. Otherwise you will be the first name on the “redundancy” list (assuming you are not billing mega hours in a down economy). You need to be more valuable , more relatable than just your billable profits.

              The meeting itself is secondary.

              I am confused — you have week long meeting but it only lasts 1-2 hours for “awards” by management? The point of this week is obviously not about the meeting content but the face to face.

              I am also confused why the majority of your basic meals are not covered — are they typically provided “in meeting” and “group dinners” so that you only need to cover your food during your solitary flights / travel days? If so, covering 3 meals (lunches, light dinners) while travelling is not too egregious… but you could certainly ask.

              Ground transport – again, is the expectation that you take a group shuttle or carpool with others and not need taxis, except by personal choice or convenience? This one seems strange not to cover without an alternative.

              1. TrainerGirl*

                That you are a remotely working employee, that does not interact with the others at this meeting the rest of the year…. is the number one reason why you, personally, should make going a priority. You need people to see your face, hear your voice, and have coffee / breakfast etc with you. Otherwise you will be the first name on the “redundancy” list (assuming you are not billing mega hours in a down economy).

                This is not necessarily true. My father was a remote employee at a company for 20 years before he retired, and he watched many an in-office employee get laid off while he did not. I don’t know what OP’s position is in the company or how valued they are, but it’s not automatic that remote employees are at the top of the “cut” list.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        “ I’d probably roll my eyes if I had somebody come to me trying to get out of travel with a flu argument.”

        Not to put too fine of a point on it but the flu can literally be a killer…especially for those with a compromised immune system.

        1. ampersand*

          This. I think getting the flu as a result of this trip is a bigger deal than paying out of pocket for expenses the company isn’t reimbursing. I completely agree that the company should be reimbursing for travel expenses–but one of these things has the ability to kill you, and the other, not as much.

        2. Mamunia*

          I agree. That’s a very cavalier attitude. Some people are way more susceptible to illness and take much longer to recover. It isn’t just a few days working from home on the couch for some.

        3. Devil Fish*

          Right! This is the statement of someone who’s never had the flu before and as a result mistakenly identifies their worse than usual cold with a side of tummy troubles “the flu” because they don’t know how bad it is.

          I have a compromised immune system and last time I got the flu, it put me down for 2 weeks. I have almost no memories from the first week: it’s just an extended haze of fever dreams while mostly-sleeping through a series of (ill-advised) horror movies. After that, I realized I’d never actually had the flu before in my life. :(

          The flu feels like dying. If you’re at work “working through the flu,” you almost certainly do not have the flu.

      2. Librarian1*

        Also, the flu, as in actual influenza, isn’t the stomach flu where you feel bad for a day or so and then you’re better and it isn’t a cold. It’s much worse, it puts you out of commission for much longer and it really does ruin your holiday. It also makes it really difficult to do things like cook or take care of children or visit family.

        I’ve hade the flu twice: Once in 8th grade and again in 12th grade and it was awful. I missed a week of school both times and I really couldn’t do much because I was so tired and achy and my temperature was so high. The second I got it was during indoor track season and I had to miss a few practices AFTER I was well enough to return to school because it takes time to recover from it.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          I had the flu in 2016 and 2019. Both times, I knew it was the flu and not something else because of the unique way my brain felt like it was bouncing around inside my skull every time I coughed. I have NEVER felt that way with any other illness. In 2015, it took me 12 full days to get over it, and I ended up in the hospital in the middle because my wheezing was so bad I needed a breathing treatment.

          1. Elizabeth Rochelle Dickson*

            Yeees, this. I had the flu — or something like it — in the middle of the summer. And Oh. My. Ra. I wished someone would just shoot me, run me over with a semi, SOMETHING to make it stop. I literally had to force myself to eat, because I was in so much pain, and couldn’t breathe, and couldn’t really hear, and was so exhausted… it was a long list of NOPE. I couldn’t get someone to cover my clients during that time, so I’m walking dogs while being extra exhausted and everything else. I did my best to keep from spreading this horror — carrying hand sanitizer, using gloves so I didn’t touch anything in their houses directly, wearing a mask… I think one client still got sick, and I felt really bad about passing that on.
            Since that episode, which was almost four years ago now, I’ve basically been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome AND chronic pain syndrome, both of which are not run-of-the-mill, you’re-turning-forty-three malaise, but stuff I have to take medicine for daily or I’m useless.

            I really wish people would stop dismissing flus and other illnesses as No Big Deal. Because trust me, they can be a Very Big Deal.

    3. Half-Caf Latte*

      Yeah, my (otherwise good) employer won’t cover meals if you’re attending a conference for professional development, and you’re supposed to feel lucky that they’re paying for the conference and lodging.

      This is academia-adjacent, and in an industry where margins are being squeezed, so it is what it is, but it’s big time BS.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        My (very good) employer did not pay for food when I was on an exchange program last year for three months. All other expenses (flights, rent, rental car, even a tax adviser to sort through that particular kind of mess) were paid.
        I did not mind as my food expenses were pretty much the same in Florida as in Germany, and I had rented a room in a nice house with a full kitchen. I may have paid $100 out of pocket compared to what I’d had paid at home over the three months.

    4. Not a Blossom*

      I just cannot get over that. It works out to employees having to pay to come to training! I would definitely push back on that.

      1. Beth*

        Yeah, it’s a hard limit for me also. If the company wants to save money, they can shift the meeting to January, when the airfare and hotels will be cheaper. Which will also address the problem of forcing the remote employees to ruin their Christmases.

      2. Consultant Catie*

        +1, I completely agree. It’s wrong for them to require a mandatory training that you have to pay out-of-pocket for, especially during a time of year that’s already so expensive for so many people. I realize you don’t want to have to go at all, but if they flew you on regular economy (not basic) and covered your expenses, would that change your mind? You might just be 100% over it completely and not willing to go at all at this point, but I think it’s worth being willing to compromise with your boss and offering your cooperation if they made it comfortable for you to travel.

        If this is the case, I would present it to your boss in the same language that Alison has suggested in so many other instances – “Unfortunately I’m not able to afford paying out of pocket for this training. Given that that’s not an option, does it make more sense to set this up as a webinar so I can attend remotely, or should I submit my expenses for reimbursement after the trip?” **Bonus points for summarizing this conversation via email afterwards so you have ammunition in case they try to change their minds after the fact.

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          This is a more mature option than what I was going to suggest: that OP catch their “travel flu” a few days early, cough cough sneeze, and be too sick to go this year!

          1. #5 OP*

            OP here. Not going to lie – I’ve definitely considered that. But I have to book the plane tickets in advance and would feel bad wasting the company’s money.

          2. Consultant Catie*

            Your option is more satisfying though! “Too bad, so sad, I’ll try again next year!” lol.

      1. CL*

        Indeed. Everything is expensive, ESPECIALLY food and taxis.

        I would think that hotel and airfare would also be cheaper after the first of the year.

    5. JSB*

      That’s really odd. I wonder what the terms of her employment are. It would a bit different if her ability to live in another state and work remotely were a negotiated PERK and the deal was they would pay for her plane ticket/hotel to the annual meeting but no local expenses. Other than a scenario like that, company should be picking up all travel expenses.

      1. #5 OP*

        OP here. Yes, that would be a good point. It’s just the headquarters is located in DC and there’s a tiny branch of us in the PNW. I still go into an office and am actually not allowed to work remotely.

        1. wb*

          Now it makes even less sense, I’d assumed you were 100% remote. This is actually 0% remote. You’re in your official workspace where you were hired to be. Not including a per-diem in mandatory travel from one office to another is utter nonsense imo.

        2. Malarkey01*

          So this sounded so incredibly like my set up that for a second I assumed it was someone in my company, but our “all hands” trips aren’t in December and we do get expenses paid.

          I would just add that you need to be extremely aware of your company culture around this. Although we have satellite offices, the bigwigs still expect to see everyone at these meetings- it’s important for your reputation, whether you get additional promotions or opportunities, and not attending is a big mark against you as it’s seen as being unwilling to travel to the main office, not being a team player, and not understanding expectations. We have people that don’t like to come to the annual meeting (which sound similar to yours and often you think isn’t this just an email). However when people don’t Attend it is raised as a very big deal and is discussed negatively- I’m NOT saying that’s right, but that is the reality of what happens.

          Not sure if it’s similar to your company, but I would look at trying to get he timing altered and expenses instead of just saying you didn’t want to come.

          1. #5 OP*

            Yes, they take it super seriously. When I first started, I told my manager that my husband and I had been invited to spend that weekend with my in-laws for Christmas and that I have three different families in three different states to spend Christmas with and there just aren’t enough Christmas weekends to go around. She responded by apologizing for not explaining to me how critical the year-end weekend is to our company culture. She didn’t even acknowledge my family obligations. It was like she was saying “I’m sorry you thought your family should be more important than this company event”.

            1. Shadowbelle*

              It’s important to the company culture? Well, my goodness, why didn’t they say that up front? That makes everything different!

              The company culture is to waste your time and money and get you sick over the holidays so that you can be there in person to watch self-important executives prance about on a stage for a couple of hours?

              Uh-huh, right, okay. Thanks, but I’ll take my culture on sour cream and call it Roquefort.

            2. Curmudgeon in California*

              Ugh. That’s just awful. That she thinks attending a back-slap fest for bigwigs is more important than your family is just pathetic, and says waaaay to much about her. The fact that she thinks not covering cabs and meals (at expensive restaurants) is “normal” and acceptable is just the icing on the cake.

              If it was me, I’d be job hunting. Those people are tone deaf, at best.

              1. Elizabeth Rochelle Dickson*

                Totally this. I would die on that hill. This kind of crap is precisely why I refuse to get a “grown up” job. I’m happier not having to put up with this level of head-up-behind-ness. No. Not at all. I’m not flying across anything during holidays where I have no option to see my family, plus paying for all of it to watch some big-wigs pat themselves on the back. No, screw you.

                Funnily enough, as a petsitter, I’ve missed some holidays staying overnights at other people’s houses, but they at least leave me fancy wine (which tastes like vinegar to me, but whatever, I can give it to family) and HUGE gift cards, not to mention fancy chocolate and things, thanking me for staying with their pups. And they are even okay if I go to my family’s house for a couple hours on the holiday itself, anyway, to get dinner with family.

                Yeah… I think I’ll stay a petsitter/kennel attendant. It’s a dirty, messy job that doesn’t pay a lot, but at least my coworkers are cute and generally easy to get along with — they always give kisses and bring me their toys so we get to play.

                What? I’m not trying to recruit anyone to throw over the business world for dogs. Not at all… :D

            3. Malarkey01*

              Yeah in that case I think given the additional information, it’s important you attend, especially if you’ve raised the issue before and gotten pushback.

              I get how annoying this seems, I will say having been on both sides of the remote equation, sometimes it is important to just be seen. Missing out on those random moments throughout the year at morning coffee breaks or someone’s retirement party does play into your perception at headquarters. I’ve also been the manager who has been frustrated when explaining each year that these meetings are mandatory by the leadership team, that some people continue each year with a new excuse to not attend (although I totally support that yours shouldn’t be right before the holidays).

            4. redmielita*

              I am about 99.999% sure, from your description, that my brother used to work at your company-if not the same company, it was certainly its evil twin. He got sick and tired of the nonsense and left. I am getting the sinking feeling that you may be well advised to do the same.

          2. Beth*

            I’d second the ‘be aware of company culture’ thing. I worked at a place for a couple years post-undergrad that had meetings like this ONCE A MONTH. Everyone in the main office (thousands of people) had to attend. Remote employees (of which there weren’t many) had to remote in most of the time, and I’m pretty sure they had at least one or two times a year when they had to attend in person. They were ridiculous wastes of time that would take a full half day even for those of us who were local, and which never had any bearing whatsoever on my work…but the company also took them very seriously and made a huge deal of anyone missing it, to the extent that it was just easier to avoid scheduling appointments or being on vacation that day.

            If your company has a weird culture thing like that, then it might be more feasible/better received to push for full reimbursement and/or for the meeting to be moved to a different time next year than to ask to attend remotely. Even if you’d prefer the latter, go for what you think is a winnable fight.

      2. Cat*

        Yeah, I am actually in exactly that situation – I work remotely in the PNW and go back to the home office in DC for work sometimes, which is a perk for me. I pay for food; company pays for airfare and hotel. We never explicitly discussed taxis, so I expense them.

    6. wittyrepartee*

      This makes me feel way better about working for government. They penny pinch, but they also insist on paying for 3 squares and a snack.

      1. Antilles*

        For the record, I don’t think this isn’t really a government vs corporate thing.
        In my experience, the overwhelming majority of private companies do recognize and understand that meals and various incidental expenses are part of business travel. The exact logistics of how you get paid for these items vary from company to company, but it’s definitely the standard.
        The only time that I’ve seen an exception, as noted by others, is when it’s something purely for your own personal development (e.g., conferences)…and even then, many industries won’t blink at paying since the $60/day for meals and incidentals is almost a rounding error compared to the conference fees, flight, hotel, lost productivity/billability, etc that they’re already paying for.

        1. wittyrepartee*

          Oh, I get that this is not normal in industry. But government is super strict about any sort of food or entertainment on the taxpayer’s dollar. We do not get free coffee, and all parties are potlucks or paid for by the Union and off premises. For instance, if I was flying to a conference in a city where I had friends, I not only wouldn’t be able to get them to buy a ticket of equal price that didn’t exactly sandwich the dates of the conference, but I also wouldn’t be able to get a one way ticket to the conference for less. I would have to “miss” the flight back. I’m glad that their inflexibility makes it so that if they’re having you do any travel for work, there will be a per diem.

    7. TimeTravlR*

      My daughter worked for a company that only gave her $25 a day for food when she was on travel. Their rationale was that if she was home she’d have to buy food anyway. Yeah… but if she was at home she wouldn’t have to eat out every meal! No surprise, she doesn’t work there any more… that was just a sample of how they did business.

    8. #5 OP*

      So I approached my manager about it and she did agree to have the company reimburse me for the needed ground transit but said the company would not reimburse for food. I told her this was a problem as I’m trying to save money right now and eating out in DC can be expensive. She responded by saying that she would pay for me herself and we would just eat all our meals together. What!? That’s nice of her but that shouldn’t be the solution. Also, it was quite embarrassing having to tell her I can’t really afford to eat out on this trip. That should be beside the point.

      1. But There is a Me in Team*

        Oh my Lord OP5- they are really down this rabbit hole. Is this worth looking for another job over? Is it symptomatic of other out-of-touch practices? Eat every meal w/ your boss?!? I’m rebellious and would be tempted to make up a fender bender on the way to the airport or something…
        You have my sympathies. They bonkers.

      2. Shadowbelle*

        OK, if she’s willing to personally pay for your meals, she can calculate what it would come out to and personally give you a per diem.

      3. Curmudgeon in California*

        You gotta be kidding! The company not covering meals on travel is just horrible, and the workaround is cringeworthy.

        The whole thing is so tone deaf and dismissive of remote employees it isn’t even funny.

    9. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

      Last year, i attended a training that would be (and has been) very beneficial to our organization. work paid for the training (a couple hundred dollars), but my [previous] boss told me (per our VP) that the org would not pay for travel or hotel.
      the training was in CO, and i’m in Dallas, TX.
      i couldn’t shell out the hundreds of dollars for a flight out, so i decided to drive. the training itself was a one-day training on a sunday (ugh) so i had to use Friday as PTO to travel (12-13hr drive), Saturday was leisure, Sunday was the training. Then Monday another day of PTO to travel back. Tuesday, i took PTO just to rest and recover and be ready to work Wednesday.
      with gas and hotel and everything, i ended up paying around $600 to attend a ~$200 training work wanted me to go to. and i used a bunch of PTO. more than half of my paycheck was gone in that one weekend and i scraped by for two weeks until my next one.
      This year, i was sent to another similar training in Chicago by my new boss, same organization. this one was on a Sunday as well. This time, work paid for the flight, the hotel, and even the food. i didn’t even have to take any PTO as the training and travel counted as hours worked and i was able to take a few days off.
      i’m still quite salty about how much i had to spend for the CO trip. i have a feeling things weren’t handled properly by my old boss.

    10. Curmudgeon in California*

      Seriously.

      They want you to fly, in steerage, the week before Christmas, but not cover things like cabs and expensive restaurant food?

      That is both profligate on their part (airfares are high between Thanksgiving and New Years) and unfairly parsimonious. I am not even sure that not covering meals and transport for mandatory travel is legal (IANAL).

      To prevent the illnesses, you may want to wear a face mask, and start taking extra vitamins (like Vitamin C) before you go to boost your immune system.

      OTOH, if I had to do this I’d start looking, just because of the tone deaf parsimony and lack of consideration for people’s personal lives. DC, in December, the week before Christmas, and having to foot the bill for meals and transportation? Ugh. Just ugh.

      1. Devil Fish*

        Vitamin C doesn’t work like that. It’s a myth that isn’t backed by any studies or data. (Airborne was invented by a teacher, and teachers obviously know all about the science of illness since they spend time around children and are sick all the time, the same way that anyone who drives a car knows just as much as a trained mechanic.)

        Face masks don’t work like that. They’re super effective at preventing the germs inside your body from getting out, and they help sick people to not spread illnesses to others but they do next to nothing for keeping germs outside of your body from getting in (if someone sneezes directly in your face, sure, a face mask would work for that, but germs in the air will circulate under and around the face mask just fine).

    11. Nana*

      Coming late to the party, but for next year: Airfare and hotel rates are pretty darn LOW between the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and about December 15th. No one wants to travel on those dates, so there’s a ‘trough’ of lower airfares and hotel rooms (doesn’t do anything about the food issue, of course).
      See if you can get a hotel room with a mini-fridge, so you can buy some groceries, rather than eating out 3x day.
      Sorry that your company sucks!

  2. Alianora*

    #4 – as a person who schedules meetings for my team, it’s really helpful when they mark their days off on their own calendars. If you aren’t already doing this, I think it’d be worthwhile in addition to bringing the issue up with your supervisor.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s still worth explicitly naming what’s happening with Jewish holidays though, because otherwise the problem may not get solved. They’re fine with her missing the meetings if she needs to be out that day — but she doesn’t want to have to miss them.

      1. JSPA*

        School holidays and major religious holidays should be on the work calendar to start with, no? And any planning email should go out saying, “note that one of the proposed dates overlaps [x]; does this present a hardship to anyone who wants to attend?”

        Admittedly, school holidays can in theory be handled by hiring someone; but when every kid in public school has a holiday on the same date, that’s not a trivial thing to do. As a result, it defaults to a hidden “parent track” situation (not to call it Mommy track) where whichever parent ends up stuck with kid minding duties loses not only work hours but the sort of training that leads to advancement.

        IMO, this functionally can work out to some pretty active discrimination. You need X training to move up. X training is offered on a day where [group of people] have to do [unacceptable or very difficult thing] to attend. Result, discriminatory.

        1. Cascadia*

          Yes, in my organization we use outlook. We have one shared calendar that’s called the master calendar, and any event/meeting you are organizing you also have to invite the master calendar to. The master calendar has EVERY holiday on it, so you can check and see if there are conflicts. Since we are a school, we also have to submit every all-school major event to this calendar for the following school year by April, and then a committee goes through and finds every conflict or issue and adjusts the dates/times. We have someone from our diversity team on this committee so that we are making sure to catch the religious holidays or other conflicts that might not have occurred to the person organizing the meeting. It’s time-consuming but oh so important for an inclusive community.

          1. Mama Bear*

            Interesting perspective. The OP pointed out that the local schools have the days off (our schools were closed yesterday) so missing this info could be hitting not just the observant but parents in general. I suspect the company hasn’t thought about the long-term repercussions on careers when people can’t attend these very meetings on a regular basis. The OP might also see about getting other affected folks to bring it up as well.

        2. Name Required*

          There are 5 different school systems (5 counties) plus private schools in my area. They do not share the same calendar. No, short days, school breaks, and holidays for those school systems should not be on the work calendar. We’d never schedule anything.

          1. Observer*

            Sure – when there are that many school systems parents (or mothers, more commonly) are far less likely to be disproportionately affected by this issue. But when you are in an area with ONE public school system and most of the private schools in the area follow pretty much the same calendar, it’s willfully obtuse to pretend that this is not an issue that should be taken into account.

            1. Clorinda*

              Even though there will be some breaks that vary (fall break), many of them will be pretty similar. Most school systems will have the week off between Christmas and New Year, for example.

        3. Lenore*

          If you know you have employees who are of a certain ethnic or faith tradition and they have major holidays or events, you need to be proactive. Two examples, one good, one bad:

          (1) When I lived in San Diego County, one of the local orgs that worked with the local tribes always marked out days on the calendar where that tribe would be having a Pow Wow or major event. These were not religious days, but were very important culturally. I cannot tell you how much the local tribal membership appreciated it. In fact, it did get back to the tribal elders. One once told me it was the first time outsiders had cared enough to proactively find out about what dates were important to the tribe and mark them off limits for meetings and optional activities.

          (2) A friend of mine is Jewish. Owns a major business in the region. Only Jewish family in the industry. The rest are Christian in culture if not always in faith. Trade group schedules a major meeting on one of the High Holy Days and gets very upset when the Jewish owned business does not buy it’s usual 4-5 tables b/c the trade group was “counting on them” to do so. Someone called from the trade group to the business to complain. That did not go over well.

          Part of being a decedent human being in 2019 is marking the days that are important to others on the calendar. It’s not 1989. It’s not that difficult. One can either subscribe via the calendar app or open google.

          That should be baseline. Then the employer/scheduler/etc. should ask it’s employees/membership/service community if there are additional days that should be noted on the calendar.

          Yes, it’s work. But baseline politeness requires a bit of work on behalf of someone scheduling an event or meeting.

          1. Lenore*

            Edited to add: Some Pow Wows can have religious elements and spiritual elements, but the ones that this tribal group was hosting was more of a gathering of the various tribes/open the doors to non-natives event.

            Not saying that Pow Wows should never be considered equivalent to Christmas Day, just that we shouldn’t limit this to only things that the dominant culture deems “religious.”

          2. Richard Hershberger*

            I’m in the legal biz. The entire industry shuts down for the high holy days. Not really, but it seems that way, and no one really expects to be able to reach a lawyer, unless his name is Kelly. The courts are open, but you can get a postponement for trials and hearings just by muttering “Yom Kippur” or the like. I, a Lutheran boy, am at my desk, but it is quiet, which is all to the good.

          3. Observer*

            #1 – I’m sad that this was a big deal. As you say, this should be a base line.

            #2 – That’s rude. And INCREDIBLY stupid. If these guys are big enough fish that you are actually banking on their attendance, then you should take the trouble to know when they are likely to have a schedule conflict. It’s been a couple of decades since this has been a REALLY simple thing to do for most religions and cultures.

        4. Elizabeth Rochelle Dickson*

          Except Jewish holidays aren’t considered major. Christian ones are. Jewish holidays do not fall on the same days as Christian ones.

          1. Observer*

            Seriously? Only Christians have “major” holidays? Jews don’t have “major holidays”? What is your basis for saying this?

          2. GooseTracks*

            Do you mean they aren’t considered major by the dominant American culture, even though they are major to Jews? That’s how I read it – and, as an observant Jew who’s taking seven days off work this month for the High Holidays,* I sort of agree. But that doesn’t mean we should all accept this as the reality – OP definitely has standing to politely push back and ask that her workplace not schedule an important or mandatory training on a day like Yom Kippur, when it should really be obvious that many Jewish people will not be at work. (And if it’s not obvious, it should only take one person pointing it out to bring that awareness.)

            Not sure what the point about Jewish holidays and Christian holidays not falling on the same days is, though. They’re totally different holidays, so why would they line up? Besides which, the Jewish calendar is lunar so Jewish holidays fall on different dates in the Gregorian calendar every year.

            *Rosh Hashana – 2 days; Yom Kippur – 1 day; Sukkot – 2 days; Simchat Torah/Shemini Atzeret – 2 days

        5. A*

          Major religious holidays yes, but why school holidays? Maybe if it’s in relation to a department that is staffed by primarily parents of school-aged kids. The vast majority of my coworkers don’t have children, and we expect childcare to be handled in a manner that doesn’t require the whole department to work around (although 100% acceptable to take PTO etc.)

    2. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      It isn’t just the OP’s personal quirk or coincidental personal day, though. It’s something that’s going to affect multiple people.

      Trainings and other work meetings are often scheduled before people arrange their days off for holidays—I think I booked my High Holy Days time off three weeks in advance this year—and the holidays fall on a different Gregorian date every year. If someone had mentioned back in July that there was a training scheduled for October 9th, I wouldn’t have remembered that October 9th was Yom Kippur and I couldn’t attend, and there wouldn’t have been anything on my calendar about me being out of the office.

      This is an access and equality issue and should be addressed at the institutional level, not the individual level.

      1. Avasarala*

        If it’s an international company, or a company with a diverse staff (every company is but let’s pretend they care about this sort of thing) it may be helpful to mark major religious/ethnic/other holidays on the shared office calendar.

        I know for my calendars I was able to download my national holidays and have them automatically marked. Helps me because I don’t have to remember when My Holiday is this year, or when my international colleagues have their Country B Holiday. It just shows them as out of the office.

        If you can’t find a way to automatically do it, maybe something an admin could do is create, update yearly, and distribute a shared office calendar to go along with people’s time off. In that case it would be important to share specifically which holidays though, as I’ve seen a totally-not-Christian company mark Hanukkah but not any other Jewish holidays (to quote the Hebrew Hammer, “It’s not even a high holiday!”)

        1. Clorinda*

          It can’t be that hard to do. My pocket calendar, not even electronic, the little notebook one I carry in my purse and bought at Walmart for a dollar, has Christian, Jeweish, Muslim, and even Hindu holidays noted for 2019 and 2020. These things aren’t exactly secrets.

          1. Avasarala*

            Nope, just Hanukkah. I knew the owners were Christian because of the Bible quote on our “year end” cards that came with a Christmas ornament, but… seriously? Hanuakkah is not “Jewish Christmas”…

      2. Alianora*

        I don’t disagree. It’s just a practical suggestion in case the LW’s office doesn’t immediately implement some kind of check for this.

      3. Essess*

        Agreed. If they don’t change this scheduling, then you can (and should) play the religion card that you are being penalized by missing essential training because of your religion and that runs afoul of EEOC rules.

      4. Observer*

        Outlook actually has a setting to show major Jewish Holidays. Also, there is at least one site (hebcal dot com) that allows you to download a calendar in several formats to have the dates of all the holidays – I they have a version that goes for 5 years.

        What that does is insure that when you get a schedule like that you don’t have to remember when Yom Kippur falls that year – it’s right there when you go to schedule.

      5. Observer*

        But, I agree this should DEFINITELY be on the master calendar used by whoever schedules these things.

      6. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

        It’s not hard to find out when the next several years’ worth of Yom Kippurs are. When people have said they didn’t know, I like to remind them that Judaism pre-dates the Gregorian calendar and the existence of the company or trade org, so it’s not exactly a surprise the holidays happen every year — technically we booked first. Someone I work with was pretty rude to me when I reminded them that Christmas is a religious holiday but I will continue to pipe up until people stop thinking the Christian holidays are the only ones.

    3. Beth*

      This is true in a lot of cases, but when it comes to major religious holidays, it’s a bigger issue than any one person’s calendar. It should be default behavior to avoid scheduling mandatory trainings on Yom Kippur or Eid the same way it would be avoided for Christmas; since it’s not the default everywhere, reminding people that it needs remembering is important.

      1. Lynn Marie*

        Yes, and be proactive about flagging the holidays’ dates every year in January or December if that’s when the next year’s schedule is made up and bringing them to your company’s attention to be noted in the official calendar even if they’re not paid holidays. Should you have to do this? No. Does it help raise awareness and solve the problem? It could.

      2. wittyrepartee*

        And since we’re talking a big diverse city? Add in Diwali (which is celebrated by four major religions) and Lunar New Year (celebrated by like… half the population of the world).

        1. Dot*

          There was just a letter complaining about an office that insisted on celebrating Diwali when no one in the office observed it. Everyone in the comments was outraged.

          Today everyone is outraged that every religious and school holiday and local cultural event isn’t blocked off for meetings without individuals having to ask.

          1. Lepidoptera*

            I don’t see any outrage, just helpful tips.

            And there’s a complete difference between celebrating a holiday that isn’t celebrated by anyone in your company and making sure that training isn’t scheduled on holy days that actual people in your actual company have to take time off to celebrate.

            1. Dot*

              “I don’t see any outrage, just helpful tips.

              And there’s a complete difference between celebrating a holiday that isn’t celebrated by anyone in your company and making sure that training isn’t scheduled on holy days that actual people in your actual company have to take time off to celebrate.”

              What are your helpful tips for people who don’t feel comfortable disclosing their religious beliefs in the workplace for fear of discrimination?

              1. Joielle*

                Wait, so you don’t want to disclose your own religious beliefs in the workplace? That’s fine, of course, but then wouldn’t it benefit you if religious holidays were blocked off on work calendars without people having to ask? I’m confused about what you’re disagreeing with here.

          2. F.M.*

            Of course, because those are very different situations.

            When I as arranging happy hour meetups for the department, I made sure not to schedule them on Jewish holidays, because it would be unprofessional (and unkind) to put team building events at a time that several people in the department couldn’t attend, and which I could easily tell in advance they wouldn’t be able to attend. But I didn’t then follow up by attempting to celebrate those holidays myself, because I’m not Jewish.

            To use an imperfect analogy, it’s nice if my friends remember my birthday, but I would be baffled and a little upset if they got together without me to have cake and exchange presents in “my” honor while I was off elsewhere.

            1. Dot*

              You missed my point.

              Should the company block out Diwali for meetings, even if no one in the office celebrates it? And how will they know who celebrates which religious holiday?

              How do you see this working in real life? Asking everyone to disclose their beliefs and religious practices?

              Or blocking out the calendar for Diwali in an office where no one celebrates it?

              I’m just wondering how this works in practice. Because the boss celebrating Diwali in an effort to be more inclusive got pretty roundly ridiculed, and bosses going around asking everyone about their religion strikes me as highly inappropriate, and taking a guess at which religious holidays should be blocked off is, well, what a lot of workplaces already do, and it’s not a perfect system, as we can see. So what’s left?

              1. SimplyTheBest*

                It seems like you’re the point. Having your office celebrate a holiday no one celebrates and making sure no one schedules a big meeting on a day where someone could have a potential religious conflict are not in any way the same thing, so why are you insisting on comparing them?

                So to answer your questions on how to (very easily) do this in real life: put Eid and Yom Kippur and Diwali and Christmas on your company calendar and don’t schedule major meetings on them. That’s it.

                1. Dot*

                  How do you know you’re not missing other major holidays?

                  Listen, I’m in favor of employees being able to prioritize their religion over work, for every religion. I’m pushing back on the idea that it’s some simple, easy thing to do, when most workplaces struggle to schedule meetings around other meetings, not to mention appointments, remote work, and sick days. Blocking off entire days every month would have kneecapped some of the project managers I’ve worked with.

                  It’s really easy to say it’s easy, and to cry discrimination if it doesn’t get done. It’s a lot harder to do in real life when dealing with a big team.

                  And MANY people don’t feel comfortable discussing their religion in the workplace, which, if it’s not something you’ve experienced, might be hard to understand.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  This is a community with a large enough Jewish population that the schools close for important Jewish holidays. It’s really not a big leap to say companies should know to consider those days as well.

                3. Le Sigh*

                  @Dot You might be, sure. And yeah, it can be tough to schedule meetings with big teams. But that doesn’t mean you don’t figure out ways to make it work. And when someone brings it up to you (as in LW’s case) you don’t just shrug your shoulders.

                  Also, people aren’t “crying” discrimination. They’re pointing out that regardless of intent, if the Jewish employees are the ones missing out on trainings and other important meetings b/c they’re always on their holidays, and the office isn’t taking it seriously, well, yeah, it’s discrimination. Tough.

                  Also, the boss trying to celebrate Diwali is not relevant to this situation. This argument, combined with the “OMG HOW ARE WE EVER GONNA SCHEDULE ANYTHING MEETINGS HOLIDAYS SICK DAYS AHHHHH SO COMPLICATED PLEASE DON’T ARREST ME” feels like every argument I’ve ever heard when someone doesn’t actually *want* to spend 15 min figuring out how to make things work. It’s not that it can’t be complicated or that there’s any one perfect way. But if you actually want to be sure those employees (be it women, Jewish staff members, whatever) are really, truly valued and part of the team, you just get to work figuring it out.

                4. SimplyTheBest*

                  @Dot. You know when people tell you and you adapt moving forward. No one’s going to get everything correct every time. But you work on what you can do instead of just throwing up your hands and saying it’s too hard to accommodate anything but Christmas.

                  I know where I live. I know what the major religions are that are practiced in the area. I know the major holidays for my religion and know how to use google and a telephone in order to find out the ones for the other major religions. I know that if I’m planning a big project for September/October to factor the High Holy Days into my timeline, just like you probably know to factor in Christmas and the amount of people who want to time off when you have December projects. Again, not that hard.

              2. Le Sigh*

                This feels like you’re working way too hard to make this seem more complicated than it is, esp. because these two cases are apples and oranges.

                The boss got ridiculed because it appeared that, in an effort to be diverse, the office–none of whom appeared to know anything about the holiday or celebrate it in any form–wanted to just randomly start celebrating it. That isn’t be inclusive; felt more like checking a box off the diversity list than actually thinking what it means to be diverse in real life and practice.

                In the LW’s case, it’s already *known* that LW and others celebrate these holidays. LW has said as much to their boss! So to continue NOT including Jewish holidays when scheduling these trainings effectively cuts multiple staff members out of these trainings. Not only are they not considering it in advance, they’re saying it’s no big deal if they can’t attend — so they’re not even thinking through the consequences of what they’re saying and doing, or the longer-term impact.

                You don’t need to take a survey of everyone’s religion. But instead of treating the Georgian calendar as the only default calendar, it’s wise to include other major calendars as default. And when someone speaks up, saying they’re being left out because no one is using those calendars to plan, DO something about it. Don’t shrug.

                1. Dot*

                  “In the LW’s case, it’s already *known* that LW and others celebrate these holidays. LW has said as much to their boss! So to continue NOT including Jewish holidays when scheduling these trainings effectively cuts multiple staff members out of these trainings.”

                  I completely agree with you. Nowhere did I state otherwise.

                  “But instead of treating the Georgian calendar as the only default calendar, it’s wise to include other major calendars as default.”

                  I’m not sure I know what the Georgian calendar is. If you mean the Gregorian calendar, Wikipedia says it’s the one “used in most of the world” and has more to do with months and dates, rather than holidays. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregorian_calendar

                2. Dot*

                  @Le Sigh You seem to be deliberately misunderstanding me.

                  I fully support a workplace being inclusive and accommodating for employees to be able to take off work to practice their religion. If that means making sure not to schedule major trainings on Jewish holidays, particularly in an office where not doing so would impact a lot of employees, then that seems like a great idea.

                  I just think it would be nice if, as a society, we could even discuss religion without people feeling comfortable slamming whatever religion they happen to not like, but sadly we aren’t there, and we’re getting farther away from it all the time. I’ve seen Christianity criticized plenty of times on this site, and heard the same in real life offices.

                  Just be sure you’re actually practicing what you’re asking for from others. I don’t see that in my life, so I don’t discuss religion in the workplace, for fear of repercussions. This seems like a more basic right than asking for meetings to be scheduled differently.

              3. Joielle*

                Uh… block out the calendar for Diwali regardless of whether anyone celebrates it. Better to err on that side than the other, and if you later hire someone who celebrates Diwali, you’ll already be set.

              4. MeepMeep*

                How hard is it to find out what holidays the employees at the firm actually do celebrate, and just blocking those out? Bosses going around asking people what their religion is in an effort to make sure they can celebrate their major holidays and not miss out on work stuff doesn’t sound all that inappropriate to me at all. If your office has a lot of Zoroastrian employees and no Jewish employees, you block out the Zoroastrian holidays but not the Jewish ones. Easy and inclusive.

          3. wittyrepartee*

            As other people mentioned: celebrating a holiday (particularly one with religious significance) that no one in the office celebrates is a lot different from just making sure that you’re aware of it and avoid having important meetings and trainings on that day.

            I can think of a few ways of addressing this issue.
            1) Under all circumstances, you should allow people from unlisted religions to quietly speak to their supervisors or anonymously request that you avoid scheduling things over their major religious holidays.
            2) You could make sure all the holidays from major world religions are on the office calendar, avoid scheduling on those days.
            3) You could look at demographics in your area and see what the major religious/ethnic groups are, look up major holidays and block them out on the calendar.

            The idea isn’t that you’ll always get it perfect, it’s that you’ll mostly cover your bases and give people a place to request.

          4. Beth*

            This is a straw horse argument. Doing a fake ‘celebration’ in-office of a holiday that’s for a religion/culture that no one in the office is even a member of is very different from saying “Hey, maybe we shouldn’t schedule major mandatory trainings on days when Jewish people are likely to be out.”

      3. Polaris*

        Yeah, this year my office got egg on their face when they scheduled a mandatory meeting and then sent out an awkward retraction the next day that it was being moved because it had been pointed out that the initial date was on Rosh Hashanah. I missed a department meeting yesterday because of Yom Kippur. (Which I had to use vacation time to take off, and I will never not be salty about this issue.)

        1. texan in exile*

          I was mortified for my former employer the time they not only scheduled a meeting on Yom Kippur but also served bagels topped with cheese and pork sausage.

          1. SusanIvanova*

            *Everyone* should be outraged at bagels with cheese and pork sausage. I’m surprised there’s a bagel shop that makes them.

            1. Evan Þ.*

              One of my coworkers brought them in to my office last month, and I loved them!

              (He also brought some cheese-and-egg-topped bagels for people who don’t eat pork.)

            2. Observation... :/*

              Really? Bagels with sausage or bacon, egg, and cheese are extremely popular. I’d be more surprised to find a bagel shop that didn’t make them.

            3. Richard Hershberger*

              This sounds like it is simply a breakfast sandwich, using a bagel as the bread. A bagel is a pretty good choice: better than a lousy store biscuit. I think that McDonald’s got it right the first time, using an English muffin. I don’t know why more places don’t do that.

          2. Curmudgeon in California*

            *facepalm* Bagels with pork? As in the cream cheese and pork not on the side? That’s just horrible.

    4. EPLawyer*

      Do they have to mark off Christmas on their calendars to make sure you don’t schedule anything on that day? of course, not because it’s obvious no one is working on December 25. Same thing here.

      Most calendars will let you include major religious holidays. Just add them on your calendar so you are covered for ALL religions, not just Christian ones.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That’s assuming there is a single company calendar. I get what Alianora is saying because I have to be sure to do the same thing. I’m Jewish and my BOSS is Jewish, yet I’m more observant than he is so he sometimes forgets that I take the second day of Rosh Hashanah off. Marking my calendar is insurance. It sucks, but it’s better for me if I do it.

      2. Dot*

        There are many, many Christian holidays that don’t get included in office calendars. Do you know what they are?

        Plenty of people around the world celebrate secular Christmas in addition to Christian Chrstmas. That’s why it’s automatically included as a day off. I don’t know any offices that close for All Saint’s Day, however.

        1. SimplyTheBest*

          People celebrate Christmas because they can’t get away from it. There is nothing secular about it, and it’s nothing other than Christian privilege that it’s considered a national holiday in so many parts of the world.

          No one’s asking for office to include every little thing within each holiday (like All Saint’s Day). They’re asking to include the ones that are comparable in importance to Christmas and Easter.

          1. Dot*

            Sorry, but you might want to spend some time talking to people who celebrate secular Christmas and get a sense of how they actually feel about it before making statements like this.

            This is exactly the kind of bias that makes it hard to have conversations around religion at work.

            1. Blueberry*

              The fact that pointing out Christian privilege, which is a very real thing, is considered ‘bias’ makes it harder have conversations about religion at work, since everyone knows which religion is by default considered the ‘real’ one.

            2. Librarian1*

              Just because people who don’t go to church celebrate Christmas or who aren’t Christian celebrate Christmas, doesn’t make it a non-religious holiday. And frankly, if you’re in a majority Christian country like, say, the US or European countries, it’s definitely religious.

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          Go down that road and every day is the festival of some saint or other. For most purposes, Christmas and Easter are the days to worry about, and perhaps Good Friday in a really Catholic area. St. Patrick’s Day perhaps, in a really Irish area, but let’s get real: that is for drinking, not churching. The idea of taking the day off for All Saints, or Ascension or Epiphany or the Feast of the Assumption, etc…? That would be odd.

          1. Dot*

            Why would it be odd? Catholics are required to attend mass on some of those days, and to refrain from working. That’s the whole reason the idea of holidays were invented in the first place.

            And yes, going down that road does mean there a lot of religions with a lot of holy days. That’s my point.

        3. Oaktree*

          Dot, you seem to have a real problem admitting that Christian holidays are Christian and that they are “secular” purely because the United States and other European or European-dominated countries are only nominally secular. You do realize that many people don’t consider Christmas and Easter to be secular holidays? Even my ex-Christian, or atheists of Christian family, friends will admit this. Your recalcitrance is telling.

    5. OP 4*

      I do ask for these days off about 1 month+ in advance and mark them on my calendar even earlier than that, but I can ask if it would be helpful to add them to the shared calendar (where we put important deadlines and other team info). Thanks!

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        Yes, if there’s a shared calendar add them there. In my liberal east coast city where the schools are closed for the major Jewish holidays, scheduling important stuff on Yom Kippur is something that non-Jewish people often don’t think about proactively but generally know to avoid when it’s pointed out.

        One thing that can happen is that those dates are more available when someone goes to book something, since lots of other people aren’t scheduling conference rooms or whatever during that slot. So it really helps to put the info where it’s very visible to people.

        1. 2 Cents*

          In fact, because it’s a religious holiday that might not otherwise noted on the calendar, more meetings might be scheduled that day because, hey, lots of people’s schedules are free that day!

      2. EventPlannerGal*

        I think it’s generally useful info to have on a shared calendar anyway, particularly if you have an international client base. I’m in the UK and my employer does a lot of business in the Middle East so we always have the dates of the major Islamic festivals marked in our shared calendar to remind us to get things submitted before the holiday starts, expect longer turnaround times, etc etc. We do the same with American holidays so we’re not all wondering why nobody is replying to our emails on Thanksgiving. It’s just useful general knowledge.

        1. Christmas Carol*

          In my Upper Midwest American State, you better mark Deer Season on the calendar, or you will be left wondering why none of your vendors or customers reply to your queries the last two weeks in November.

          1. Sharkie*

            My college gave us a 10-day break at Thanksgiving for this reason. They were sick of professors canceling all their classes that week.

          2. F.M.*

            Once explained to someone on the internet that they were probably having so much trouble contacting the owner of a retired sled dog they were fostering because it was the week the Iditarod started. Sled-dog people were a bit… busy.

          3. PlainJane*

            The Pacific Northwest version of this is salmon season. Hubs and I wondered why half our guest list didn’t show up to our wedding. Turned out it was because we got married during the fall Chinook run.

        2. Triumphant Fox*

          We did the same with the UK and Canada – there are a lot of national holidays that took us by surprise early on when working with a new client, until we started working those holidays into our timelines from the beginning. It did make it a challenge sometimes, between three nations’ public holiday schedules and religious holidays, it sometimes felt like there were days blocked off every week. Better that than mess up our deadlines by not realizing it was a bank day.

      3. DC Thursday*

        Thanks to your letter I just went in and added all Jewish holidays to my Outlook calendar. It simply involved selecting the option to include them and then Outlook automatically uploaded all of them. We don’t often have meetings/trainings where everyone is involved, but I would hate to unintentionally plan something on a high holiday simple because I didn’t take 30 seconds to click the option to add the holidays to my calendar. I hope your company does better.

    6. Arctic*

      They already know she’s out and won’t attend (LW says they are fine with that.) So being out on the calendar doesn’t mean they would schedule differently.
      This isn’t something she 100% needs to be at and would be scheduled around her if she had a vacation day or some other non-religious PTO. It’s professional development she wants to attend. And she shouldn’t miss those based solely on her religion.

    7. Jay*

      Boss: We have the team coming in from National for a two-day training October 8th and 9th.
      {notices the look on my face} Yes, I know you’re off. We’ll catch you up when you get back.
      Me: I’m off because it’s Yom Kippur.
      {Two other Jews in the room nod vigorously}
      Boss: Is that important?

      To their credit, they rescheduled the meeting immediately.

      It should not be up to the affected employees to alert the company to their holidays. I can speak up safely now because I’m senior, they can’t afford to alienate me or, even worse, lose me, and financially I could walk if I needed to. I’ve had other jobs where it cost me dearly to have this conversation – I once had a boss who forbade me to cover more than one hospital holiday a year, which I did to get comp time to cover the High Holidays and Pesach. “It’s not fair.” Um, I want to do this, and everyone else is fine with it. He considered it “special pleading” because I was Jewish, and of course all Jews think they’re special. That was the end of any potential advancement in that organization.

      tl;dr: organizations with a commitment to inclusivity need to use Google to figure out when major non-Christian holidays occur and they need to make sure people who observe those holidays aren’t missing out on opportunities.

      1. LizB*

        I started a new job a few weeks ago (an internal move within the same company) and was told about a big meeting scheduled for the evening of the 9th. I’m glad I was comfortable enough to say, “That’s great, but I won’t be there because it’s Yom Kippur.” They decided to reschedule the meeting, thankfully. I wouldn’t have been comfortable enough to speak up several years ago (and indeed, ended up on an out-of-town business trip over Rosh Hashana for a different company because of that…), or if it had been a brand new job at a brand new company where I didn’t already have some professional capital built up.

      2. Emily K*

        He considered it “special pleading” because I was Jewish, and of course all Jews think they’re special.

        That is so gross and makes me so angry on your behalf.

      3. Librarian1*

        Wow, that is awful. Also, that doesn’t even make sense. Say you want to cover both Christmas AND Easter, wouldn’t he be happy with that because it would mean that more Christians could take those holidays off?
        I know anti-semitism isn’t logical, but sheesh.

        1. Jay*

          Librarian1, my other partners were delighted. They all had kids and didn’t want to work Memorial Day or July Fourth, either. I volunteered to work every hospital holiday except Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day every year, and I worked Thanksgiving every few years instead of one of the other non-Christmas holidays. It worked out well for everyone for five years and then my boss got obnoxious about it. In the end, I stopped arguing with him, and the week before the holiday, I’d quietly take it from the person who was scheduled.

          I still work every Christmas because I don’t think anyone who celebrates the holiday should have to when it doesn’t matter to me (and it gives me an ironclad reason to get out of going to visit my in-laws, who are not Jewish).

          1. Librarian1*

            Ugh, sorry your boss is so obnoxious. I have one Jewish parent and my grandpa on that side was in the military and he always volunteered to work Christmas so that his Christian colleagues didn’t have to (I’m sure some ended up having to anyway, but you know what I mean) and it was totally fine because he didn’t care about it.

      4. Dot*

        There was just a letter the other day asking if it was okay to include a Mormon mission on a resume, and many commenters said it should be left off to avoid putting the company in a position of possible discrimination. Some people openly said they didn’t want to know if their coworkers were Mormon because it would change how they view them.

        People are often a lot less open minded than what they like to believe about themselves. Today it’s really showing.

        Your experience is unfortunate but undoubtedly not rare. I’ve never even thought to ask for days off on the less well known holidays of my religion. (And it’s not a minority religion)

        I’d settle for not hearing my religion bashed on sites like this, to be honest. (Not Mormon)

          1. Dot*

            Good grief, I never said they were. Of course they’re important.

            You’re looking for offense where there isn’t any.

            1. Dot*

              The confusion may have come in because in my faith I’ve needed to take time off for holidays that weren’t on the calendar, and I didn’t because I don’t feel comfortable discussing my faith at work.

              My point is that it’s clear that some religions receive a lot more bias than others. That is worth looking at.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I was responding to “the less well known holidays” (as I believe the commenter above me was also). It sounded like you were putting Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur under that umbrella — if you weren’t, my apologies for reading it wrong.

              1. Dot*

                I wasn’t at all–although rereading it I can see how it came across that way. That wasn’t my intention and I apologize if it sounded like I was trying to minimize the importance of those days.

          2. Dot*

            It would actually be nice to get a response to my point about how Mormons might not even feel comfortable discussing that they’re Mormon in the workplace, much less asking for days off.

            1. Blueberry*

              I’m not sure what you expect people would say. Of course no one should be made to feel uncomfortable because of their religion at work. Furthermore, the claim that efforts to not discriminate on the basis of religion are just discrimination against majority religions is a common and false accusation made against such efforts towards fairness and an attempt to recharacterize loss of privilege as experience of bigotry.

              But on the other hand between this comment and the one directly above you’re arguing that Judaism doesn’t face bias, the day after someone shot up a synagogue, so I’m honestly not sure what if anything people should say.

              1. Dot*

                I never said nor claimed that Judaism doesn’t face bias.

                That is actually a pretty heavy accusation to make.

            2. Avasarala*

              Here is the difference:
              The Mormon letter you’re talking about was about disclosing religion on a resume . So disclosing religion before even joining the company. This might not be a good idea because the company is not allowed to consider that information, (for positive or negative) so it invites discrimination.

              This letter is about being inclusive of your diverse workforce. You happen to know that some staff members celebrate religious or other important cultural holidays. So it would be kind and ethical to mark those in advance so they don’t have to keep reminding you. It’s a nice way to make them feel included as a team member.

              You seem to be stuck on the point of “no one should ever mention religion in any context in the workplace.” Certainly you shouldn’t discuss or debate it! But that’s different than never mentioning it! There’s nothing wrong with wearing a Star of David necklace, or mentioning your church choir when asked about your weekend plans, or explaining your time-off request is to attend a Buddhist retreat. Sure that might invite discrimination from crazy people to just know your religion, but there’s nothing socially or professionally unacceptable about mentioning it as part of your life.

              If you don’t feel comfortable mentioning your religion because you’re afraid of discrimination, that is a huge culture problem–I don’t see how that can be changed if HR won’t step in, you’d have to change jobs. If you’re just private about your religion, you don’t have to mention it when asking for days off, but people won’t know it’s a religious accommodation so they can’t plan ahead for it–maybe that’s preferable to you, that’s your call. If you don’t want to discuss your religion, you can still mention that you need the day off for “religious reasons” and that shouldn’t invite discrimination from any normal company or person.

      5. Curmudgeon in California*

        OMG: “Special pleading”???? What a jerk. Good thing you are gone from there.

        I’m not a member of any Judeo-Christian-Islamic religion. In the past I have happily covered people’s high holy days for on-call, because they were important to my teammates.

        I would definitely avoid scheduling stuff on the major holidays of the world’s largest religions (EG Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, or Judaism.) Several companies I’ve worked for had those holidays noted on their corporate calendar, even if we didn’t get them off.

    8. Sharkie*

      I grew up in an area very similar to the OP’s (although I am a Christian I liked that other Religions were included in the school calendar) and my Dad’s firm had a standing rule that no meetings/training of high importance would be held on school holidays. They also made a point to buy calendars with Islamic/ Hindu/Eastern holidays marked on them since they were aware of any conflicts when scheduling international telemeetings. Once people were made aware of other holidays they were must more thoughtful with planning.

    9. Name of Requirement*

      As back-up, yes. But mark it as the specific holiday, along with plans to be out, not just an out of office.
      This situation seems to call for a company calendar where this stuff is noted.

    10. JimmyJab*

      If OPs workplace is anything like mine, there’s no way they take everyone’s personal schedules into account – our trainings can be for 150 people. Perhaps hers is a smaller team where they look at everyone’s personal calendar, but that definitely wouldn’t work where I work.

      1. OP4*

        Our team has ~68 people but we do have a shared calendar, where I might ask to post the Jewish holidays for 2020 in advance so they know when they’re coming up!

        1. Nonprofiteer*

          I don’t like that *you* have to fix such a basic issue, but at my last job we had a cheat sheet of Jewish holidays, e.g. Yom Kippur: absolutely do not call donors or schedule events. Last day of Hanukkah: not such a big deal, but people may be spending time with family.

          It helped people to have some context on the Outlook holidays.

      2. Holly*

        The bigger the staff training, the more people probably affected by scheduling trainings on the *holiest day of the year* for the Jewish people. I wonder if someone scheduled a meeting on Christmas, and people were concerned, you would respond that “there’s no way they take everyone’s personal schedules into account?”

      3. Blueberry*

        I’ve done exam-and-grading scheduling for a private school of 200 students, the kind of school that prided itself on accommodating everyone, and we made it work.

    11. IT But I Can't Fix Your Printer*

      Major calendaring programs like Outlook and Google will easily let you add pre-loaded calendars of various holidays. I did this recently at work and it was really easy. If you’re doing a lot of scheduling (or just want to be courteous and inclusive!) you should add those on your own, rather than putting the burden on people who are already having to deal with the burden of their holidays not being considered important enough to close the whole office.

  3. Heidi*

    OP1’s situation scares me a little. Just what exactly is Barry going to do if he ever finds out who gave the feedback? This is probably one of the reasons anonymity doesn’t produce as much honest feedback as one might expect.

    1. JKP*

      The most common way I’ve seen this play out is that once Barry figures out who gave the feedback, then he can figure out a way that the feedback doesn’t “count” because of bias or other issues from the person giving the feedback, and thus he doesn’t really have to change anything.

      1. rudster*

        Or the next time he comes up with some negative feedback of his own for the person whom he thinks wronged him. Except for safety or compliance issues, I think the idea of anonymous peer feedback is terrible and rife with potential for abuse and bias (it’s from people who may well be competing for the same raises and promotions as you). Besides, adults should be talking to each other and not leaving anonymous notes for mom/teacher – er, I mean the boss – behind each other’s back. Or it should be rolled into the manager’s feedback in a way that it cannot be disaggregrated from it. If I knew someone I worked had left negative feedback about me, I would sure want to know who it was! Look at at this this way – now Barry’s working relationship with everyone is strained because he doesn’t know left the feedback, rather than him just being mad at the person who complained about him.

        1. Green great dragon*

          It’s possible that is how it’s done, but it might not solve the problem (if the feedback is ‘sometimes you wear an overly-flowery hat to client meetings’, it’s obvious the feedback comes from one of the three people who saw you in the hat’).

            1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

              (Speaking for the copyeditors, we often dearly wish we had the time and ability to do this.)

          1. Emily K*

            Exactly. My org solicits upward feedback for any manager with two or more direct reports, which goes directly to the grandboss who can then put it into the manager’s review without disclosing who said what, but when you’re only talking about two people, you can’t always guarantee that it’s not going to be obvious who was the source of certain things.

            It’s not really even framed as “anonymous” feedback, though. The only promise or assurance of that nature is that you won’t be quoted verbatim, but there’s no wording that says your feedback is anonymous or that they’ll make sure your identity can’t be figured out. It’s just upward feedback.

            I think my org recognizes that anonymous feedback isn’t possible, and they accept the possibility that some people won’t want to provide upward feedback if they’re worried about their identity being known, but having the process available for people who do want to provide upward feedback is better than not having the process at all, and if someone is worried about retaliation there are other pathways available to them (e.g. via HR).

        2. ClemFandango*

          I agree with you completely. I think this isn’t a Barry problem, this is a systemic feedback problem.

          I loathe the idea that my feedback wouldn’t be almost immediate, fairly non-judgemental, and open. This system seems to play into the hands of pettiness, paranoia and general distrust. I’m glad it’s not a system I’ve ever had to work around.

          I feel that Barry needs some straightforward feedback, from his manager, at the time. Clearly, this system isn’t working for him if he’s able to drag on not doing his job well – especially if he was capable of doing another role well.

          1. HumbleOnion*

            Well, it’s definitely a Barry problem too. There’s no reason for him to be cornering people in their offices or reacting so aggressively. The feedback process may suck, but Barry is still behaving wildly inappropriately.

            1. Dust Bunny*

              No, this is a Jack problem. For not shutting this down years ago and for keeping Barry on despite the fact that he’s not a great worker.

              1. Lana Kane*

                It’s entirely possible that both of them are a problem. Jack is spineless and Barry is inappropriate and aggressive.

          2. Emily K*

            Yeah, the problem isn’t that employees are asked to provide peer feedback – it’s that this annual feedback process is apparently the only time anyone is asked for or receives feedback.

            There’s value in having annual peer feedback processes, but they should be just one piece of a system for feedback and performance management – just like there’s value in having annual performance reviews, but they should be just one piece of a system for performance management. There should be in-the-moment feedback when the situation calls for it, as well as monthly or quarterly check-ins to give the employee a sense of where they’re headed in a bigger picture sense before the big-big picture of the annual review takes place. And likewise, if people are having problems with Barry’s work, they should be raising those issues, if not in the moment, at least at some point during the year when a pattern has emerged. “Boss, I’m working on another project with Barry and there’s been a persistent issue with X that I’d like your help figuring out how to handle. Can you talk to Barry’s boss, or how would you recommend I navigate this otherwise?”

            But this is all clearly way beyond the sub-standard quality of management that LW’s company is willing to practice.

        3. BethDH*

          I think it can be done well, and ideally the whole point is that the coworkers’ feedback is materially different enough that just rolling it into the manager feedback doesn’t make sense in many cases. Where I’ve appreciated it, the feedback has been a mix of “keep doing this” and “please try to do this differently” — that is, it was mostly focused on things that could actually be changed. I assume the managers did some vetting for this, but I’m not actually sure. I think it does need to be carefully facilitated by managers and the expectations of what makes good feedback need to be clear.

        4. OP1*

          ” Or it should be rolled into the manager’s feedback in a way that it cannot be disaggregrated from it”.

          This is how it is done. The person is told if it is peer vs manager feedback.

          1. Lonely Monster*

            How is this guy getting any work done if he’s too busy hunting down the people, who gave him bad feedback?

            1. OP1 Here*

              You know if the feedback is from a peer vs a client vs a manager. And I know Barry comes to me because of our close relationship and assumes I will rat out whoever did it. I refuse. Not my place.

              1. wittyrepartee*

                You know, when he starts bothering me about who said what, I might consider going (facetiously), “actually it was all me! All of it!”

                Then just stick with that.

              2. LunaLena*

                I’d be tempted to put “he always corners people and aggressively grills them about any negative feedback in his peer reviews” in my feedback to see how he handles it. Will he prove my point, or actually back off in order to prove he’s NOT like that?

                I have someone in my family who’s sort of like Barry, and that’s generally how I deal with him. He usually reverts back to the bad behavior eventually, but at least for a little while, it’s a bit more pleasant because he goes out of his way to prove that I’m wrong.

          2. smoke tree*

            I realize you probably aren’t in a position to do anything about this, but this system sounds frustrating even leaving the Barry issue aside. Shouldn’t the manager be looking into the feedback, assessing its accuracy and following up with employees directly rather than just passing on complaints from others? It sounds to me like your manager just doesn’t want to take on the responsibility himself.

        5. Mel*

          Yes, anonymous feedback is the worst. A former employer would handle complaints about fellow employee anonymously, which meant you would get called into a meeting and be told something so vague that you could never know what the problem was.

          And if you could get to the bottom of it, these complaints were usually from people who were behaving badly themselves and didn’t like that it wasn’t working for them.

          1. Veronica*

            This reminds me of the way I grew up. My father would come to me and say, “this person said you did this bad/inappropriate/thing I don’t like”.
            It was emotional abuse. It made me feel my friends and relatives didn’t like me and were talking behind my back. It destroyed my self-esteem, it was extremely discouraging, and very very hurtful.
            I do not recommend doing this to anyone, ever, for any reason.
            If a manager has to address a problem between employees, they should be specific and ask what happened. Explain the misunderstanding and give feedback to prevent it from happening again.

        6. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          At a previous company, we had a system for that. The feedback was collected and went to the person and only the person – not HR or their boss. More a “food for thought” thing.
          I did not like it much, but I received some feedback I found useful and took to heart

      2. JSPA*

        How many times have we had complaints about anonymous feedback here that’s too vague–or even contradictory, which happens, when you collate responses from multiple sources–to make a useful change?

        “Talks too much; doesn’t always give adequate input.” OK…WTAF does someone do with that knowledge, if they don’t know who wants them to speak up, and who wants them to shut up?

        “Overly forceful; hangs back; self-promotes; taciturn.” There is literally nothing to do with that sort of grab bag besides decide, “they hate me.” Unless, of course, you can figure out WHO wants you to dial it up, who wants you to dial it back, who wants you to be the bluebird of happiness, and who wants you to knock it off, with that bluebird crap.

        It can all be honest feedback, and yet have an overall effect that’s not actually distinguishable from institutional bullying.

        Mind you, the question Barry should and could reasonably ask isn’t “hey, who said that” but “is there some pattern to these responses that you can see, and I can’t, that you can clue me in on, so I can address these issues.”

        1. Dust Bunny*

          ““Talks too much; doesn’t always give adequate input.””

          That means somebody goes on tangents and rambles without providing much actual content.

          1. JSPA*

            Not sure there’s utility in debating a random example I made up from whole cloth.

            But here goes, anyway: Sure, some advice that seems conflicting on the surface is actually an inadequate summary, from two different angles, of a single problem. Blind men feeling the elephant, and all that.

            However, that’s not always the case.

            In the given example, it can also mean that one person wants to hear more, another wants to hear less. If you guess wrong as who’s who–is it the person I’m quiet around, who wants to hear more, or am I feeling quiet around them because I’m sensing it’s not welcome?–you know you’ll just tick them off more.

      3. OP1*

        OP1 Here. You are very correct. In the past, when Barry was given bad feedback, he would pull all kinds of documentation together to “prove” he was good worker. In his mind because his numbers were X and done on time that everything was fine. But it is not always about the numbers it is about how you executed and how you interacted with clients, etc.

        And thank you Alison. I love the language used to talk to Barry in the moment. I can certainly adopt some of that.

        1. Antilles*

          That sounds like a management issue as much as it is a Barry issue. When an employee gets too focused on a metric(s) rather than understanding the real big picture and feedback, that’s where the manager needs to step in and correct that.
          Yes, we recognize that your numbers are fine, but merely meeting targets is only part of your role and you’re not doing good job handling [insert other issues here]. We appreciate your effort in meeting the billable hour target, but that’s only part of the job and you need to work on X.

        2. AKchic*

          I would actually include Barry’s negative reactions to constructive feedback in the peer review. Seriously. It happens every year. It is something that affects everyone in the office / on the team. It should be mentioned on the review so it can be discussed with him and gives the manager that segue into saying “this cannot happen any longer”. It would be nice if the boss told Barry that all staff members have been instructed to let Boss know when/if Barry reaches out to harangue / harass or otherwise “get to the bottom of” who said what so he can attempt to minimize the perceived negativity, then it will be counted as harassment and he will be written up, but we can’t actually make that suggestion. All you can do is tell your boss that you feel uncomfortable, intimidated, and are fearful of giving complete and accurate assessments based on his previous reactions and without some kind of guarantee that Boss will protect staff and manage Barry properly, you are unsure that you can give an accurate peer review.

    2. JSPA*

      Eh, feeling free to ask someone you consider an old pal (they worked together for 15 years, at two companies, and were ‘close’) for scuttlebutt on “who said what” is not necessarily red flag territory.

      Old pal Barry is not working out well in a new job. OP has been mentally backing farther and farther off from Barry. That’s what OP knows, inside OP’s head. It’s quite possible that Barry has not actually been notified of this. Does Barry even know that OP considers the emails an imposition? Does Barry see any awkwardness with OP as anything other than “things feel awkward at work these days”?

      I withdraw this suggestion if their personal contact at old job didn’t ever include “who said what” scuttlebutt or occasional mutual grousing about unfairness or powers-that-be.

        1. Close Bracket*

          Time to start verbalizing to Barry that the emails are unwelcome. With the caveat that you can’t manage his emotions, try to do so kindly in a way that allows him to save face so you don’t make things even more awkward at work.

    3. Aggretsuko*

      I strongly suspect Barry will harass the shit out of whoever said that to him. Argue with them repeatedly until they agree he’s not that bad.

      I would have stopped giving Barry any feedback if it was me (I’m not a manager, I do not feel obligated to give any when asked for it if it is going to cause me problems). Barry, you’re tops, you’re 100%. Because clearly he’s not going to listen to any feedback, and he’s not going to get fired for sucking, so why bother saying anything?

  4. inlovewithwords*

    OP4, nothing specific to advise with, just wanted to express my profound empathy.

    G’mar chatima tovah!

    1. OP4*

      Thank you!! This isn’t the first job I’ve had this issue but the workplace is very intentionally inclusive (or at least tries to be) so I was more frustrated than usual!

      1. Bluebell*

        I once worked in an “inclusive “ place where the Diversity and Inclusion committee met on Friday afternoons. A staff member who was Jewish and observant wanted to join, and I had to help lobby to change the time slot!

        1. Moray*

          My “diverse and inclusive” workplace recently announced that they were cutting other vacation benefits–including two “floating holidays” that Jewish staff used for the High Holidays–in order to close the office the week of Christmas.

          1. Mama Bear*

            Ugh. While I do observe Christmas, I would find that frustrating. I’d rather choose my days than be dictated to. Even within Christianity there are variations on when Christmas and Easter are celebrated. I had a friend in college who would come back from Spring Break only to turn around and go home to celebrate Orthodox Easter. Floating holidays are a much better way to respect diversity.

            1. Holly*

              It’s not just that, it’s ensuring that Jewish people have to take time off when they do not celebrate, and may be barred from taking time (or if so use vacation time) to celebrate their holiest holidays.

      2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        I once worked at a place that was big on diversity and inclusivity. This meant they did not recognize ANY holidays, because “recognizing holidays is discriminatory to people who don’t celebrate.”

        Instead you had a bunch of angry and resentful staff, mad they were working Thanksgiving/Christmas/Labor Day while these “some people who don’t celebrate” never materialized and the place was empty.

  5. Anon Feedback Giver*

    I have had my manager try to determine, in 1:1 meetings, who on their team gave negative feedback in an anonymous survey. It wasn’t me, but I sure feel like giving negative feedback now.

    1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      I worked somewhere where this was attempted inter-C-suite level – as in the HR director asked the IT director to work out who gave what negative feedback based on the IPaddress of their workstation!
      IT director (who was not a man I particularly liked or admired) won back a few brownie points by explaining it wasn’t feasible, practical or *ethical* to do that from an anonymous survey.

      1. Anon Feedback Giver*

        Good for the IT Director! I think it’s clear that people’s suspicious that “anonymous” surveys are not exactly that is quite justified.

        1. Quill*

          “Anonymous” surveys, as I learned during high school when we had to fill out an “anonymous drug use” survey, are seldom actually anonymous. (Of course, my homeroom got our whole set thrown out by putting nonsense in the demographics section.)

          1. Aggretsuko*

            Yeah, always assume that unless you know for sure they can’t find you, anything you say can and will be used against you. This is why I’ve given very good “feedback” in situations when I know someone can/will find out it was me saying anything and that person can’t be trusted.

            1. Quill*

              We got read the riot act for filling out that one survey with invalidating things like “I’m a 111 year old Vulcan” but it was a bonding experience. :)

            2. Anon for this*

              My workplace had a couple of years in a row when everyone gave negative feedback. Nothing changed, other than we got a pizza party and a bowling outing and a full year of harassment about our low engagement, with hints being dropped that the numbers better be higher next year. They were (since giving honest answers did not appear to lead to any improvement). I would definitely be VERY uncomfortable being the only person on a team to give a negative answer. There’s no way that couldn’t be tracked back to me.

          2. Richard Hershberger*

            My niece had one of those surveys in high school. For the “have you ever drunk alcohol” question she marked “yes.” For the follow-up “how frequently do you drink alcohol” she marked weekly. So some database includes this disturbing statistic about teen alcohol use. Nowhere did they ask if it was more than a thimble’s worth of communion wine.

            1. PersephoneUnderground*

              Lol- that’s so very much me! I answer very literally. Surveys need to be designed with clear definitions of what they’re actually trying to determine. Though sometimes it’s clear the definitions were written later, and the questions being asked don’t line up at all. Like a “hookups” survey that defined it as any sexual contact, including kissing, with anyone you’re not in a relationship with. Then asked questions clearly designed to be about one-night stands. But by that definition the night I met my husband and we kissed one time counted. Sheesh!

      2. Mel*

        Good for him! That always makes me nervous. It’s anonymous, but obviously there are ways to find out!

    2. Holy Carp*

      I’ve been bitten in the arse TWICE at two different jobs where we had to fill out “anonymous” surveys, so I am now very wary of the kind of identifying data they ask for.

      The first time, the person who saw my negative comment about himself was not even supposed to have access to the survey forms. When he and his BOSS confronted me, I was flummoxed but MY boss happened to be there and vigorously defended me. The second time, another employee who worked in the same department and I were called into our boss’s office and questioned about our supposedly anonymous replies. We were both massively PO’d and expressed concerns about the anonymity of the survey.
      Lesson learned: If it’s an option, I don’t even complete the survey; if it’s mandatory, I answer everything randomly.

      1. NoSurveyPls*

        Agree 100%, if you can refuse – do it; if not than random vague answers that can’t be traced to you. Can you tell I also speak from a bad supervisor “anonymous” evaluation experience?! Even more sad, my supervisor’s boss was in on the whole thing and the cycle of a vindictive, aggressive supervisor was allowed to continue after the results were compiled.

        I will say that the supervisor is still at my company but everyone, including me, who worked for her at the time of the survey (2 years ago) has now moved on.

      2. JustaTech*

        I’ve got a company-wide survey to take today and you can bet your buttons that 1) it’s not nearly as anonymous as management claims and 2) I will be giving them the answers that they want and not the truth.

        That’s because 2 years ago we did a survey and any answer other than “everything is awesome!” was counted as negative. So saying “I’d like some new projects” or “I’d like to cross-train with team Y” was counted the same as “you suck!” and my entire division was hounded about not being “engaged” for 2 years. I don’t know how “more work please!” is “not engaged”, but that’s why I’m not in management.

        Oh, and because it’s a small division with small teams, it’s pretty easy to tell who said what, even without the text sections. I chatted once with someone who designs these kinds of surveys and she flat out said, your company is too small with too many departments to be allowed to do that kind of analysis.

        Moral of the story? If you treat people badly because you don’t like their honest answers, you don’t get any more honest answers, and you’ll never know what’s wrong or how to fix it.

    3. Database Developer Dude*

      There are about 50 people in my Army Reserve company. The company commander called for an anonymous command climate survey, but we were told that responses would be aggregated by rank, gender, and race, supposedly as a way of anonymizing things.

      Guess how many warrant officers my unit has? 2
      How many of them are male? 2
      How many of them are black? 1, the other guy is Puerto Rican

      Yeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaah, not doing the survey. Anonymous my ass.

      1. RecoveringSWO*

        Been there! My CO “nicely” wanted to “just let me know” that my demographics in Command Climate Surveys meant that I’d likely never be truly anonymous and should “watch what I write there, since he was pretty sure he knew which result was mine.” Every subsequent survey I filled out, I just wrote out that story and said I couldn’t participate on that basis.

      2. PersephoneUnderground*

        Ugh, that’s especially bad because in aggregate it leads to silencing minorities. And then places like the military are flummoxed by the fact that those numbers aren’t improving when they haven’t heard anything is wrong!

  6. Four lights*

    #4 In my office there is an official list of days off for the year. At the end are the dates of the Jewish holy days and Good Friday, and a directive to not schedule important things for those days.

    1. OP4*

      I love this! And I bet I could ask the people on my team from other faiths to collaborate on a complete list so it’s not just me.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Great idea. I’d love an update on this one for sure, OP4. Seems like you’ve got a good idea of next steps and I’d love to hear if you get this implemented for 2020!

    2. Kimmybear*

      I love this. I’m going to pass this on to our HR team! The caveat is that in my office it would need to be all the important Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, and Hindu holidays but maybe that would actually cut down on the number of “important” meetings.

  7. Princesa Zelda*

    OP2, please let Betty know you don’t like being called Buttercup! I gave a friend a nickname the same way and she didn’t tell me she didn’t like it for literal *years*. It made me feel terrible when she finally told me, not because she didn’t like the name, but because I’d been making her uncomfortable every day and not even knowing. Now when people try to call me something I don’t like, I correct them immediately so that there’s no hurt feelings down the road on either end.

    1. Avasarala*

      If Alison’s advice doesn’t work, just say to her, “Hey Betty, why do you build me up just to let me down, and mess me around? Worst of all, you never call me by my name when you say you will.”

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Wonderful! I mean, it will be bouncing around my head for the rest of the day, but I see no downside to that.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      OP2: “Please don’t call me Buttercup”
      B: “As you wish.”

      (It’s 9am Eastern time and no one had made a Princess Bride reference. I couldn’t resist. I’m a bad person.)

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        To be honest, when I first read the headline I totally thought it was going to be a Princess Bride reference and was mildly disappointed.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          I heard ‘Suck it up, buttercup!’ because I know a few people who say that. So Buttercup doesn’t give the good feels, even when it’s not said with sarcasm.

    3. DrTheLiz*

      OP2: a follow-up script I’ve had some success with is “Because I’ve asked you not to.” A friend’s girlfriend started calling me “Becky” or “Becky with the good hair” and I HATE IT. The only nicknames I’ll take are ‘Liz’, because [college story] and I find it funny to tell people that it’s just short for Rebecca, or from tiny children because they don’t know any better. I was shutting it down hard every time she said it with “don’t call me that please” and after the 3rd or 4th cycle she asked me why I was being so insistent and I just said “because I asked you not to, and I’m entitled to have my wishes respected on this.” It took the wind right out of her sails and while there was a bit more tipsy “but whyyyy don’t you like it”, met with “I just don’t.” she’s 100% stopped doing it.

      1. NotMyRealName*

        I wish this worked on my cousin who insists on using my childhood nickname that I haven’t used in almost 40 years. I guess I’ll just not deal with her for another 20 years.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          eh, I think families are a little different, but I guess if it’s a childhood nickname you hated, I can see why you would avoid her.

          1. Elizabeth Rochelle Dickson*

            Not to me. I will straight ignore the ever-loving LIFE out of family who tries to call me a childhood nickname I don’t like: Beth, Betty, basically ANY VERSION OF ELIZABETH (except Liz, actually. That one I actually tolerate from family, but no one else). What are they going to do, get mad? Lol, I don’t care, and they KNOW I don’t care. It’s not like they can give me a spanking – good luck trying it, I’m a very hefty 43 year old adult, there’s no way you can. Not even my grandmother called me that past 18!

            And they all know that only my great aunt and my uncles are allowed to use Tweety or Tweety Bird, all others Will Be Ignored. I literally don’t hear it unless a particular voice says it. I don’t get allowing family to get away with disrespectful behavior because they’re family. NOPE. I don’t have to like you because you’re related to me.

            1. NotMyRealName*

              Well exactly. We were at a family reunion, hadn’t seen her in years, but after correcting her a couple of times and getting “I will never remember to call you what you prefer” I just stopped answering her when she called me the wrong name. But I will probably not see her again for years.

  8. mark132*

    OP4, how many holidays are we talking? 2-3 or 15-20? To me at least it makes a difference. I’d try hard to work around a small handful. A large number I’d still try, but it would at a much lower level.

    1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      I’m not the OP, but I’m Jewish and this has come up at my workplace. The big ones are Rosh Hashanah (observed over two consecutive days), Yom Kippur, and the first and last days of Passover/Pesach. Those are the ones where even fairly secular or atheist Jews often have family obligations or go to synagogue, and more observant Jews will strictly refrain from work. That’s a maximum of five days total to work around, two in the spring and three in the fall; it’s really not too onerous.

      1. mark132*

        btw, I should have responded to you earlier, I would agree for 5 days a larger effort should be made.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      If you’re going to accommodate Christian holidays, though, you should make an effort to accommodate your employees’ non-Christian religious holidays without imposing arbitrary limits for the number of days you think are reasonable to accommodate (especially because most folks will not take 15-20 days off for religious holidays).

      I know that OP is excused from activities on OP’s religious holidays, which meets the legal requirement for accommodation, but it’s helpful to the employer to be more mindful of their team’s diversity and related needs.

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        I’m wondering if the concern is not one person taking 15-20 days, but if those 15-20 days are across the entire team. When does it start becoming a problem when your Orthadox Christians can’t attend for X days, Jewish members of staff for Y days and Muslim adherents for Z days (plus any other religions, my apologies for sticking to the Big 3)?
        Personally I don’t think 15-20 days a year across a whole team of people is that onerous – it’s just like booking vacation days. The company should be able to download the observed holidays to their main central calendar for consideration when arranging training etc. (It couldn’t hurt for individuals to block their calendars too – just at a team level)

        1. valentine*

          it’s helpful to the employer to be more mindful of their team’s diversity and related needs.
          Yes. The team should be upset the opposite way: that they’re excluding OP4. It’s seems like a “You had one job.”

        2. AcademiaNut*

          Basically, if it starts to be a problem, then you can sit down and figure things out more carefully. I’d start by ranking the importance of the scheduled events (once a year training high priority, monthly meetings lower), and the relative importance of holidays within a religion, and then see how things work out.

          If you’ve got an international enough project, completely blocking out all religious and national holidays for all meetings becomes unwieldy. It’s not just religious observances – the Europeans vanish in August, the North Americans and Europeans tend to be on vacation in late December/Early January (also the Japanese), and anyone from Taiwan/China/Hong Kong/Korea etc. is off for the Lunar New Year.

          1. Daisy*

            All these ‘thin end of the wedge’ comments are pretty daft to me. OP is asking about the major Jewish holidays, at a company with multiple Jewish employees, in a city that’s Jewish enough that the schools are closed for them. Acting like that’s the same as an American company not booking any meetings because it’s Health and Sports Day in Japan seems a bit disingenuous.

            1. Guacamole Bob*

              Yeah, I agree with this. I grew up in such a place and currently live a different one where my kids had off school yesterday. People regularly do forget and schedule stuff on the major Jewish holidays, but it’s widely accepted that doing so is a screw up and when it’s pointed out people apologize and either reschedule or try to figure out how to do better in the future.

              Sure, it can be hard to figure out exactly where to draw the line in a very diverse global company, but this example isn’t one of the hard ones.

              1. Sally*

                This reminded me to go into Outlook settings and download the Jewish holidays to my calendar. Now I won’t forget and schedule something during one of them. It feels terrible to be the person who forgot to look at the calendar to avoid the Jewish holidays, but I’ll bet it feels even worse to be the Jewish person whose holidays were completely disregarded.

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              YES.
              My company has international offices. I’ve started to track holidays in India and Jordan to keep managers posted if I see them scheduling a final delivery on or during a national holiday. It would be great if those could be on a corporate shared calendar along with the main religion-critical celebrations. I’d include both Roman and Orthodox variants of the Christian holiday, as well as Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu holidays, and others as appropriate for our employees. That way managers can be aware to ask if it affects team members when setting a schedule.
              For fun I’d be tempted to include the World Series, SuperBowl Sunday, the World Cup of Football (soccer to my fellow Americans), the Rugby World Cup, and the Olympics…maybe even the Triple Crown. All those things can affect productivity and attendance — not the least because many times local residents are advised to avoid the congested area on the day(s) of the event.

            3. Parenthetically*

              Yeah, me too. Plus, viewing accommodating a sizable religious minority’s major holidays as a slippery slope to never getting any work done at all is, frankly, how religious discrimination happens.

              1. mark132*

                I think that is quite the overstatement. I didn’t see any statement claiming work would never get done. I like the idea of accommodating religious observance, but it is IMO simply one of many considerations that should be taken into account and if someone has a large number of work days a year that a off limits (due to any reason religious or secular) I think its reasonable to realize every day won’t get accommodated. If thats a slippery slope to you, I would disagree. I personally value a secular society and a religious veto on any particular day would strike me as a slippery slope away from a secular society, using the same logic.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  But that’s not the issue here, and it’s not helpful to OP to pretend that the hypothetical situation you’ve described is useful to OP. Additionally, if OP is in the United States, your suggestion violates anti-discrimination laws regarding accommodation of religious observance.

                  It’s fair for folks to want to focus on the specific circumstances of the letter, as that’s what’s most helpful to OP. An argument about days of observance or other outlier scenarios is primarily a politics and policy discussion, but it’s not really responsive to OP.

                2. Parenthetically*

                  You’re arguing against something no one is promoting — namely religious people having huge amounts of veto power, and unlimited days off/accommodations for every religious or secular reason. Everyone understands that it’s not reasonable to accommodate for every one of a hundred minor Catholic feast days, but it IS reasonable, if you have an office in Mumbai, to avoid scheduling essential company-wide events on the fourth day of Diwali so you don’t disrupt people’s family time.

                  Every religion has major and minor festivals, and no one needs to have the company schedule reflect every single one of them — nor is anyone suggesting such a thing. But in this particular instance, the LW is being materially disadvantaged because her workplace isn’t even considering her religious observance. And it isn’t at all difficult to avoid that sort of disadvantaging of religious employees, because, again, there is no slippery slope.

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  In addition to the comments above: Would you really think it was fine for a company to schedule an important meeting on Christmas Day when there was no need for it to be that particular date?

                4. mark132*

                  @Parenthetically

                  I was merely responding to your arguments and simply using your logic for the other point of view, so if it bothers you, maybe is makes sense to understand why people who have a sincerely held belief in a secular society also want their beliefs taken into consideration. And as for the veto argument, that is really what OP4 is asking for, a veto on training days occurring during their selected religious holidays. (Stripped down to blunt terms). And I generally think US law got it right. I read on the EEOC website and I the standard is pretty good, as long as accommodation can be accomplished with a minimal burden, a company should.

                5. mark132*

                  @Allison

                  First off in the western world Christmas is only marginally a religious holiday anymore so in that regard its a bad example (and I doubt many jews, atheists etc would appreciate a meeting on Xmas either), and if it’s one of 10+ days a year that must be observed by a faithful christian I would say it’s fair game. So if Yom Kippur is the only day an observant Jew must honor in a year. Sounds like the employer should make an effort to reschedule. If it’s one of a lot. That sounds more like an undue burden to me placing a lesser requirement on the employer IMO.

                6. mark132*

                  @Allison

                  I pulled that term straight off of the EEOC’s web site and they use both terms.

                  Here is the heading

                  “How does an employer determine if a religious accommodation imposes more than a minimal burden on operation of the business (or an “undue hardship”)?”

                  eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/wysk/workplace_religious_accommodation.cfm

                7. Parenthetically*

                  “why people who have a sincerely held belief in a secular society also want their beliefs taken into consideration”

                  I don’t disagree with that at all. But if a nonreligious person’s sincerely-held belief includes, “religious people’s workplace opportunities should take precedence over their observance of major festivals of their religion,” the law disagrees.

                8. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  Alison is right—the legal bar is higher than the EEOC’s website suggests. It’s not an “is this inconvenient?” standard.

            4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              +100. And, if the schools are closed for them, then (as OP has pointed out) in addition to being a major Jewish holiday, it also becomes a day when the parents of school-age kids on OP’s team have to find childcare in order to attend this training. Hardly the level of a Health and Sports Day in Japan.

          2. MK*

            Comparing people’s vacation preferences with religious observance isn’t relevant, in my opinion. Yes, most Europeans take vacation in August and work is slow, but very few, if any, workplaces close down; in mine, only 25 out of the 130 people are working, but anything that absolutely needs doing gets done by those 25, and the rest will come in to work if it’s necessary or if they really want to be there for something.

            1. JustaTech*

              But it’s still good to know when you’re planning things a long way out. Like, if I’m setting up a 3 year plan for a new vendor in France, then I’m going to not schedule big government submissions in the US over Christmas/New Year’s, and I’m not going to schedule a on-site audit of the French plant in August if I can avoid it.

              For big important meetings that are a long way out, and you have the flexibility, I don’t see any reason not to do a quick check to make sure you’re not scheduling over major national or religious holidays.

            1. Zephy*

              Where did AcademiaNut imply that Jewish people aren’t Americans?

              Also, there are plenty of Jewish people who exist and are not, in fact, American.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              They didn’t say that. They specifically said “it’s not just religious observances,” i.e., the comment wasn’t about religion but vacation patterns. Move on, please.

          3. DreamingInPurple*

            It’s part of doing international business, though. Not all meetings will (or should) be “all hands”; US meetings can proceed normally in August even though the Europeans are likely to be off, but things where the European team is the most important are going to have to be scheduled around that or wait. Unwieldy as it may be, it’s the nature of business to have to figure this out in a way that doesn’t disadvantage a particular group.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              In my experience all “all hands” meetings invariably are a waste of time. At best they exist to disseminate information inefficiently. More often they are the C-suite types stroking their own egos. Not infrequently they serve no purpose at all, but are one of those things are they have always done.

        3. Marja*

          my apologies for sticking to the Big 3

          One hopes you are aware that several religions, such as Hinduism, have more adherents than several of the religions you mention.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            He’s being US-centric; in the US, Hinduism is #4. Canada / UK / Europe, Hinduism is higher than Judaism, but Christianity / Islam are still the biggest.

        4. mark132*

          I would agree efforts should be made, but at the level of 20 days year that’s almost 10% of the working days per month. I think at that level it would have to be understood sometimes these days would get scheduled because other constraints.

        5. Megan*

          Even if it does become a large number of days when accounting for a large variety of holidays, we are talking about avoiding scheduling certain meetings, not closing the whole office. It should be possible to work around people’s events most of the time.
          Maybe every once in a while you do end up with a training scheduled on Yom Kippur or Diwali or Good Friday because the scheduling gets complicated that year for whatever reason, but then you try extra hard to make sure you don’t hit a holiday affecting the same employees the next year.

      2. EPLawyer*

        It probably meets the legal definition of accomodation by not requiring, but it is having an impact on OP. They are missing out on training that is essential to their development and advancement — for religious reasons. This is not don’t schedule the monthly team meeting on Yom Kippur. Because heck someone could be sick and miss that. But the OP said its essential training. You can choose the day that happens and avoiding the High Holy Days is just as easy as avoiding Christmas or Good Friday. So everyone gets the training they need to be good employees regardless of religion.

      3. BethDH*

        I don’t think this is exactly what they meant. More that when I look at a calendar, it often marks a large number of religious holidays that a non-member can’t evaluate for significance.
        Most westerners have enough cultural exposure to Christianity to know that people won’t take St Patrick’s Day off, but it is on the calendar and is nominally marked as a Christian holiday. Many people do not yet have the same familiarity with many other religious holidays.
        There is also the very real issue of needing to schedule things at holiday-heavy times of year. If you must schedule something in early April, for example, it’s very helpful to know that the first day of Passover is especially important. Otherwise you risk someone saying “well, it has to be SOMETIME this week,” picking at random, and choosing the first day when the third would have worked.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          Yeah, this is very true. I have a ton of Jewish friends and have been to various seders and holday celebrations with them over the years, and I can’t tell you whether the average American Jew will need workplace scheduling accommodations around Sukkot (my instinct is that workplaces shouldn’t schedule stuff on certain evenings but most people don’t take off work at all?). For religions where I have less cultural familiarity the scheduling implications around different holidays are even less clear to me.

          When I worked for a small nonprofit that was scheduling a once-a-year gala fundraiser, we checked all the major religions’ holiday calendars and avoided everything. But for day-to-day scheduling it’s easy to miss something.

        2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          I worked in a college town and you bet I had to keep track of St. Patrick’s Day. Both day of, and day of the city’s parade. Because if I didn’t put it on the staff calendar, people would forget and no-show for their shifts woo green beer woo!!!!!!

          Same with 4/20.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Of course, but this is where employers can rely on their employees to help them understand which days are significant to that employee. At a minimum, in a city where the school system recognizes Jewish holidays and an employer with a non-minimal number of Jewish employees, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out which holidays will be important.

        4. SimplyTheBest*

          So ask somebody. How hard is it to call up the local temple or mosque or what have you and say “we’re trying to be more respectful of people’s religious holidays – which are the ones that people would actually take off work for?”

          1. Parenthetically*

            So ask somebody. YES

            Calling around would even be more time-intensive than would be strictly necessary (though I think it might be helpful if you live in an area with a particular smaller branch/sect of a major religion rather than the main branch/sect). My thought is: google is free!

      4. MK*

        But Christian holidays are not actually being accommodated without limit. According to the persuasion of Christianity that is nominally followed by about 95% of my country’s population, there are about 20 major holy days in the year; only 4 of those (Christmas day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and August 15th) are legally accommodated. For the rest, as well as more minor/specialised days of religious significance, Christians are expected to celebrate outside working hours (and the Church also works on accommodations for working people and holds services in the evening or the day before/after, though I guess that might not be allowed by all religions).

        I don’t think it’s inherently arbitrary to set a limit on the number of days the employer should accommodate, as long as it is the same for all religions. As you said, in practice it is unlikely to be a huge issue; I can’t think of any religions who expect people to take 20 days per year off for religious observance, or a lot of people who are that observant.

          1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

            The Assumption of Mary, but I admit I had to look that up. It’s a public holiday in a surprisingly large (to me) number of countries.

          2. BottleBlonde*

            For Catholics at least it’s the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. My (devout) parents always took this and the other Holy Days of Obligation off from work when I was growing up, but I don’t know that it’s very common to do so in most areas of the US.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Which country are you in, again, MK? I wonder if this is a situation where American anti-discrimination laws depart from your experience.

          1. MK*

            Probably. But your comment that “If you’re going to accommodate Christian holidays, though, you should make an effort to accommodate your employees’ non-Christian religious holidays without imposing arbitrary limits for the number of days you think are reasonable to accommodate” still isn’t accurate. Christians in western societies have a huge priviledge because their weekly day of religious observance is everyone’s standard day off; also, because the most major of their holy days (always Christmas and Easter, plus a couple of other days, like Good Friday, depending on region) are public holidays, so that they don’t have to use PTO for them. There are a great number of major Christian holidays that are not public holidays and are not accommodated.

            Our laws try to address that inequality with allowing schedules to be adjusted so that people of different religions get their own day of observance as a standard day off (if possible by the needs of the bussiness), and also to give them an equal to Christian-inspired public holidays number of major holidays off, on top of their PTO, if they choose to work on Christmas etc. (again, in fields where that is possible). If it came to trial, the courts would probably rule that an employer should not schedule important benefits (e.g. training) to the employees on a limited number of days where some are not working due to religious reasons. The limitation is not be arbitrary, it is the same number of Christian religious days that are public holidays. It doesn’t work perfectly, because of the predominance of nominally Christian people in the workforce (and also because the economy is horrible and labor rights are being compromised as a result, but that is an even more complex issue), but I think it’s working in the right direction.

            In the (unreallistic) scenario that someone observed two major religious celebrations every month, anti-discrimination laws would absolutely demand that the employer give the worker these days off. But only 4 of these would be extra-of-PTO days off and the rest would eat up one’s legally mandated time off and possibly oblige them to use some unpaid days off. Anti-discrimitanation laws would also probably expect the employer to make a good-faith effort not to schedule training always on those days, but they wouldn’t demand that they would always be blocked off either. Frankly, it would probably depend on the particulars of the case.

      5. Lily Rowan*

        The fundamental problem is that the secular calendar is designed to accommodate Christian holidays, though. Literally the only day I can think of that could be a problem for some Christians is Good Friday. Everything else is already a day off work in a typical office (Sundays, Christmas).

        1. OP4*

          I’ve been at workplaces that give off for Good Friday though, never had a job where Yom Kippur was given off except a semester-long internship at a Jewish non-profit once.

          1. mark132*

            That’s interesting, I’ve never had good Friday off. Of course I don’t live inn an area with a large Catholic population.

            1. Parenthetically*

              Some of it is historically-religious rather than currently-religious. Good Friday is a statutory holiday in Canada, and Easter Monday is a statutory holiday in the UK and Commonwealth countries — and religious adherence/participation is lower in all those countries than in the US. Hell, I lived in Asia for awhile and got Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Monday off school, in addition to Buddhist holidays and Christmas.

            2. londonedit*

              Good Friday and Easter Monday are both public holidays in the UK, and obviously that’s because of the Anglican faith that’s traditionally prevailed here over the last few centuries, rather than Catholicism (seeing as we…have a bit of history with that). The only other public holiday that’s truly faith-based is Christmas Day (we also get the 26th off, which is St Stephen’s Day in Ireland but Boxing Day in the UK, from the tradition where domestic staff would get a ‘Christmas Box’ from their employer) but I believe some of our bank holidays have their origins in religious traditions (older generations will still refer to ‘the Whitsun holiday’, for example, which traditionally used to be linked to Whit Sunday but which is now known as the Spring Bank Holiday).

              1. mark132*

                I wonder is some of the difference in the US is the effects Puritanism had on US society? The only common “legally” observed religious holiday in the US is Xmas and the Puritans actually didn’t observe that as a holiday either.

                1. Parenthetically*

                  I wish I could remember the scholarly journal article I read about this! Basically, yes, the reason that the US calendar is centered primarily around Nationalist holidays rather than religious ones as in most other Anglophone countries is that the Puritans consciously rejected the Church calendar/Church year, along with the celebration of Christian feasts and holidays. Bradford famously boasted in Of Plymouth Plantation about working a normal work day on Christmas.

            3. Filosofickle*

              The only place I’ve ever had GF off was at a big financial firm. The explanation seemed to be that was it was a banking holiday (US) but that’s not actually true so I have no idea why!

              Last year we had a freelancer from Canada who asked if we were off the upcoming Friday…we were flummoxed. There was nothing on the G calendar. Took me a solid two minutes to connect the dots and realize that Friday was near Easter. It’s a totally invisible day to me. (I’m actually more likely to know the Jewish holidays, because coworkers. I don’t have a religion.)

              1. AKchic*

                I get GF off, but I’m a union worker contracted to a federal gig. Non-essential military personnel don’t work on GF.

                Now, I work the day after Thanksgiving, per my contract, but the non-essentials get a “family day” and have the day off. Commercialmas is hit and miss, it all depends on where it lands in the week. I never get an extra day off if it lands in the middle of the week (I get the day of, that’s it).

              2. Mia_Mia*

                You were probably off because the U.S. stock markets are closed on Good Friday.

                It is not a federal holiday, but it is a state holiday in a few states, which is another reason why some people may have it off.

                1. Filosofickle*

                  Oh, yes, thank you! That’s correct. Wonder why markets are closed on GF? I assume a holdover from years gone by.

              3. Veronica*

                I’m 57 and when I was in my 20’s in the American midwest, it was common for my employers to close on Good Friday. Now it’s much less common IME. I can’t remember the last time I saw an employer do that.

              4. nonegiven*

                The only time I heard of GF being a day off was when my dad worked for an aerospace company in the midwest.

            4. Senor Montoya*

              Large state university in the South. There are more Catholics now than when I first moved here, but I was astonished that Good Friday was a holiday for students (= no classes, but the U was open) — high population of evangelical and fairly conservative branches of Baptists, Methodists and *they* celebrated Good Friday.
              Eventually the day became called “Spring Holiday” because, you know, the US Constitution has this thing about establishment of religion.

              1. wickedtongue*

                Yeah, having Good Friday/Monday off was actually standard in the public schools in my mid-size Texas hometown. Which has always struck me as odd, in retrospect, but at the time I had just come from Catholic private school, so it just seemed normal.

            5. MCMonkeyBean*

              US stock markets are closed on Good Friday and some businesses base their holiday schedule around the stock market holiday schedule.

        2. Librarian1*

          @Lily Rowan – exactly. I’m pretty sure the reason Easter isn’t a legal holiday in the US is that it’s on a Sunday and historically, lots of places were closed on Sunday anyway because it’s the day Christians attend church. Obviously, that’s not so much the case now, but it’s still the case that people who work in offices never work on Sunday and therefore do not need to use PTO to take Easter off the way that Jews need to use PTO for Yom Kippur.

      6. mark132*

        My company is a very christian area, the only holiday that is Christian that is fully honored is Christmas. Every other one is a national holiday. and Xmas is more secular than religious IMO nowadays.

        1. SimplyTheBest*

          Christmas is a religious holiday. It is not secular no matter how many non-Christians observe it. It is a federally recognized holiday, a privilege given to no other religion in the US.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I assure you, Christmas is not secular to people of other faiths and saying that erases many non-Christians from the picture.

          Christmas celebrators don’t have to think about how religious the holiday is – it can be considered secular because it has the privilege of dominance. For those who don’t celebrate it, it’s not secular and it’s not universal. That some people find it secular is a reflection of how dominant Christianity is in the U.S.

          So let’s leave the secular/non-secular thing here. There’s going to be more than enough of it in the coming months anyway if past years are any guide and I need to gird myself first.

          1. Blueberry*

            Thank you, Alison. I was trying to figure out how to phrase this in a non-armwavy manner. When I left Christianity it shocked and horrified me to realize that Christmas is not secular and how much it was forced on people who are of other religions.

          2. Avasarala*

            It’s also totally irrelevant because places where people celebrate genuinely secular/commercialized Christmas (ie some places in Asia) don’t have it as a holiday. If a Christian where I am wanted to take Christmas off, they’d have to request the day off, same as Jewish OP in the letter. And a company wanting to be inclusive of many Christian workers should mark that date and try not to schedule important things then. It’s literally the exact same issue so I don’t understand why it keeps coming up as a red herring.

    3. OP4*

      I’m the most religious one on my team so for me, I have to take off for like 7 holidays in the fall and 5 or 6 in the spring, although usually at least some fall out on weekends. I also can’t do Saturday trainings, which we have had once in the two years I’ve been at my job. But I think taking into account the ones that are school holidays should be the minimum – that’s way fewer. It feels more oblivious to plan anything mandatory on Yom Kippur. But most people haven’t heard of, say, Simchat Torah, so it doesn’t feel as egregious.

      There’s also the side issue that I use the bulk of my vacation days each year for holidays that aren’t restful, but I don’t see a solution to that.

      1. OP4*

        To clarify – 7 holidays means seven days. Really only 4 holidays (depending on how you count) and two holidays in the spring, that cover 6 days.

      2. Jay*

        In my current job, we have two floating holidays and two volunteer days. Since I do volunteer work with my synagogue, I can use the volunteer days for the holidays and that helps a lot. Without that, I end up using at least 25% of my vacation time for Jewish holidays, which are not actually vacation. And I don’t take off for Simchat Torah or Sukkot.

      3. Bluebell*

        G’mar hatimah tovah! I have a friend who consults for various nonprofits who wrote a brief memo explaining the Jewish holidays and ranking which most Jews observe. I also like it because it takes into account holiday prep – like “ no please don’t schedule a 2pm meeting if Passover officially starts at 5 that night.”

        1. Parenthetically*

          Ooh, I like the ranking idea! Stuff like this is great as part of diversity training as well, IMO.

        2. AnotherSarah*

          This seems so smart! This has been hard to explain in my workplaces–that for some holidays (Yom Kippur), it’s no big thing to have an afternoon meeting the day before…but for many others, it doesn’t work. Right now my workplace is always closed on the 23rd and 24th of December, so I liken it to that–people need family time and time to prep.

        3. Mama Bear*

          That would be great to share – I’d take Alison up on her offer.

          I happen to live in a very Jewish area, but even here there are differences in observance. Not every family puts up a sukkah and not everyone knows the significance. I don’t think it’s too much to ask companies to not schedule meetings on major holidays for at least the major religions for their area. Sometimes I think the issue is not knowing how important each holiday is if you don’t personally celebrate.

          1. Arjay*

            It can also be difficult for holidays that aren’t on the same date/or Monday after. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, December 25th is hard to miss. But Good Friday, Yom Kippur, and similar holidays that move around can sneak up on you if you don’t celebrate them personally.

          2. Senor Montoya*

            That’s right. Even in an area where there’s a pretty high percentage of Jewish inhabitants, lots of people who are not Jewish just will not know which days are holidays and which holidays are the most important. So, let your boss know at the start of the year, get it on the admin’s calendar (or whoever does the scheduling).

        4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          This is excellent, and I wish there were more guidance like this for all non-Christian/Catholic religions. I cannot tell you how frustrating it has been to have dates moved for Easter and Passover onto one of the most important religious holidays for another group.

        5. Jay*

          The holiday prep piece is SO important. A (female) friend of mine was on a faculty committee that scheduled a meeting at 4:00 PM on erev Pesach. When she protested, the chair said “We checked with Professor XYZ. He’s Jewish and he said the holiday didn’t start until 6:30.” She said “I’m quite sure Professor XYZ has never actually cooked or cleaned to get ready for Pesach. You should have asked his wife.” (Not saying that only wives do Pesach prep – my husband does most of it around here – but in that family it was accurate.)

        6. ThisIshRightHere*

          Ranking sounds broadly helpful, but I guess there is a level of case-by-case consideration required as well. I admittedly know very little about Judaism. But I remember problems arising in law school when some people demanded tests be rescheduled because they fell on a Jewish holiday that the administration didn’t recognize as a “high” holiday worthy of scheduling consideration. I don’t know how they arrived at their determination of which ones were high and which not, but it seemed obvious that not everyone agreed on the classifications. I have had similar issues at work requesting time off for certain religious observances and having other (perhaps less observant) members of my religion react with “oh come on, that’s not REALLY a holiday you need to take off for. I always work that day and I’ve been [faith] all my life.” I have also had management approach me skeptically about other employees’ leave requests a la “So, Maria asked for x day off. You’re a [faith] right; does she really need that day off?” Frightfully uncomfortable.

          1. Blueberry*

            This random internet fruit (me) thinks it was incredibly unfair for your management to put you in the position of vetting another employee’s holiday request.

            That said, while you have a general point about how different people can disagree on the ranking of holidays, in this specific case Yom Kippur is really important, and only a little bit of research would bear that out.

        7. GooseTracks*

          This is a brilliant idea! The holidays actually beginning the night before is tough, and then people overestimating the importance of some holidays (Chanukah) while not even being aware of others that you may actually need time off work for (Shavuot).

      4. Colette*

        Yeah, I think a combination is necessary. The employer should make an effort to avoid planning things on major holidays (Yom Kippur, Diwali, Christmas, etc.). And employees who want the employer to avoid additional holidays need to request that. It’s hard to tell what religious holidays are actually important to someone, as that can vary between members of the same religious tradition.

  9. Anonariffic*

    #2 – I wonder if this is another one of those cases where Betty thinks that this is a fun/cute in-joke between buddies and is completely oblivious to the fact that her target doesn’t think it’s funny. Like the boss who would wave her medal around and call the LW a sore loser.

    1. Ess in Tee*

      This letter put me in mind of that, too. One person thinks it’s a delightful little in-joke between work buddies, while the other silently wishes they could smash through the wall like Kool-Aid Man and escape the awkwardness forever.

      I think telling Betty that the nickname is unwanted may be uncomfortable, but it’s far kinder than gritting your teeth and letting it go until the situation becomes unbearable.

    2. Mookie*

      Pace you and Alison, I don’t think anything inherently wrong in attributing to Betty benign or even “fun” intent, but actual bullies, particularly the adult kind, enjoy themselves immensely and can conceal their public bullying under the shroud of plausible deniability by appearing jovial and speaking warmly.

      Betty doesn’t appear to be doing this to anyone else and the LW are not buddies—there doesn’t appear any reciprocation, besides, of these in-jokes—and no one need privilege her enjoyment, innocent or not, over their own discomfort. The LW knows this dynamic better than us, and she perceives this behavior as undermining. Additionally, the LW may be very capable of maintaining a poker face during these interactions, but, in general, people like Betty need to read the room even if the recipients of their attention are not actively shooting daggers at them.

      That doesn’t really change what the LW ought to do, of course, and I definitely think she should not let her suspicions color her response, which needs to be matter-of-fact and emotionally neutral.

      1. aka Betty*

        Mookie you hit the nail on the head! Betty is in fact an adult bully at times and has historically delivered her barbs with a smile and hefty dose of plausible deniability. I shall not go into her history, but the dynamic is definitely to make me feel uncomfortable. I have remained neutral; I do not play into her ‘fun’ banter to encourage this, nor have I remarked about the nickname in hopes that it would run it’s course. It is obvious that I must address it the next time it occurs however uncomfortable. And it will be uncomfortable, because although she is an older adult, she does not take criticism well and will by all accounts give me the silent treatment for a good week.

        I appreciate all the helpful suggestions in this matter. Thank you!

        1. AnonEMoose*

          Betty sounds so much “fun” to deal with. I can think of one other reason to address the nickname issue – the risk of others picking up on it and starting to use it as well.

          I’ve mentioned on here before that I have one of those names that has umpteen nicknames associated with it, and I loathe being called any of them. I learned a long time ago that if someone starts using one of the nicknames for me, I need to address it right away, or others are likely to hear them calling me whatever, think I don’t mind, and start doing so as well. And then I have a bigger issue.

          The ones I really dislike are the people who take offense at being told my preference. “I’m just being FRIENDLY…” “But Full Name is SO FORMAL…” “But I give everyone nicknames…” Fortunately, as I’ve gotten older, it happens much less than it used to.

        2. Senor Montoya*

          Return awkward to sender. Don’t worry about the discomfort — *she’s* the one causing it.
          (The silent treatment sounds like a blessing!)

    3. Witchy Human*

      Even if Betty’s intentions aren’t innocent, it might be helpful to act as though they were. “Betty, ‘Buttercup’ has been fun, but I’m going to ask you to close the book on nicknames, okay?”

      And later: “We agreed to make the switch to sticking with ‘Name,’ remember?”

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yep, absolutely. Particularly because the reason bullies do what they do is to needle you into blowing up. Love your script here.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Right, the point is to act as if her intentions are benign even if they aren’t, because if you appear flustered/upset/frustrated, you lose power. As the boss, you have the power in the situation and you don’t need to be upset.

      3. Senor Montoya*

        Leave off the “Okay” and this is workable. I would not say anything that seems to ask for Betty’s agreement or permission.

        1. AKchic*

          Yep, switch “okay” for “thanks”. Make it a done deal, but you’re still thanking her for her required cooperation. You are a grown adult requesting a required action from another grown adult.

  10. Alice*

    #5, if you can get flu shots you should do so! That said I would start by asking to have food and other expenses reinbursed, because it’s ridiculous to pay out of pocket when traveling for work.

    1. Traffic_Spiral*

      Yup. They probably won’t want to let you off the meeting, but if you bill the other expenses it’ll sting less, plus probably make them more willing to let people stay home next year. And yeah, get your shots (and bill it to the company).

      1. QCI*

        Flu shots are cheap enough and benefit outside work just as much I wouldn’t try to bill them for it. Insurance may even cover it completely.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Most insurance does, aye. Target pharmacies will do the flu shot on a walk in basis, free under most insurance payers, and give you a $5 store coupon to boot. (Source: I work in medical billing for the largest health care system in my state and in four years haven’t come across a plan that doesn’t fully cover flu vaccinations.)

          1. Quill*

            I’m putting this off until Halloween under the hopes that my current workplace will have it on site for free, but good to know!

          2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

            This. If your insurance covers CVS, go to the CVS in a Target!

            Regular CVS is giving out $5 off a $25 purchase, which is mostly useless because I never buy anything at CVS because they are so overpriced. The $5 off Target coupon is much more useful.

          3. Silvercat*

            Rite-aid in California will give you a coupon for a free scoop of ice cream and the vaccination is probably free.

        2. Agnodike*

          Although if I had an employee who was out of work for a week (or more!) after this meeting every year, is sure consider whether a flu shot might be more cost effective.

          1. #5 OP*

            OP here. I always get my flu shot! Yet, I seem to still usually get the flu each year. I probably don’t get it as bad as I would have had I not gotten the shot though. Good advice though! Everyone should get their flu shot if they’re able.

            1. Veronica*

              Do you see a doctor, OP? Eat your veggies? Get enough sleep?
              I went through a period of getting sick easily from stress and it’s not fun! Take care of yourself :)

    2. Allypopx*

      Not to not take OP at their word, but some people also use “flu” as a catch all for “really crappy seasonal illness” so a flu shot might not do much. BUT get one anyway, OP. It’s a public good.

      1. Quill*

        That’s because “flu like symptoms” are pretty much the John Doe of viral illnesses. Especially when you throw “stomach flu” into the mix.

    3. Thatoneoverthere*

      Get the flu shot now! This way your body has time to work up anti bodies before you travel.

      If you must go, take Lysol wipes and wipe down your entire sitting area. Tray table, arm rests, the window (if you’re by it). Anything that is a hard surface. Use hand sanitizer a ton. I also swear by Zicam. I don’t know if it actually works, but it makes me feel like it does. SO I use it a lot. LOL.

      1. CarolynM*

        I worship at the altar of Zicam. I know the plural of anecdote is not data, but time and again I have experienced the Zicam miracle – I am a believer! If I take it as soon as I notice symptoms and I might feel a little ugh for a day or 2, but like the way you feel at the end of a cold instead of the beginning … but then it’s GONE. I can’t count the number of times someone is miserable with a cold, gives it to me, then I am completely better while they are still dealing with it.

        1. Quill*

          It’s one of those untestables (no way to make a believable placebo for it) but it doesn’t cost much and can’t hurt, much like tea with honey, so go for it!

        2. ThatGirl*

          My aunt is a nurse (albeit one who’s a little into woo sometimes) and she swears up and down by Zicam.

          1. Quill*

            Both it and airborne pass the “harmless alternative” test in that nobody’s making a fortune or telling you to ignore doctors in favor of it.

            My other cold and flu recommendation is pretty much just decaf rooibos with a metric ton of honey, or any sort of soupy curry for congestion.

            1. ThatGirl*

              yeah. and mostly colds don’t require doctor visits anyway. so whatever folk/homemade/homeopathy remedies you want to try are fine as long as you’re not hurting yourself.

              spicy foods and soups help clear nasal passages, and honey coats the throat and has mild antibacterial properties, so they certainly can make you feel better for a little while at least.

        3. wittyrepartee*

          Yeah, be careful when you suggest this to people though. Zinc can really mess with people’s stomach lining, and might cause a lack of smell. My mom used to give me zinc lozenges at lunch when I had a cold as a kid, and I wouldn’t even make it onto the playground before the vomiting started. Turns out this isn’t an uncommon reaction to zinc.

      2. AlexandrinaVictoria*

        Also, consider wearing a face mask. I have a compromised immune system due to medication, and always wear a mask on planes. Haven’t gotten sick yet! (Knock wood!!!!!!)

  11. Rectilinear Propagation*

    At my office, which is a very liberal workplace in a liberal east coast city, I am one of the few practicing Jewish employees…Side note: our school district also includes several Jewish holidays as school holidays, so this is difficult for parents as well as religious Jews.

    I don’t have any advice to add but it’s weird that LW#4’s office hasn’t already made a point of avoiding scheduling things on Jewish holidays. It’s not like you’re in some small town where you’re not only the only Jewish person in the office but the only Jewish person any of them have ever met. The school district includes Jewish holidays!

    I’m also a bit surprised LW#5’s company is willing to have remote employees but isn’t willing to let them attend this meeting remotely. It would probably be cheaper and it seems like they’re trying to save money if they aren’t willing to reimburse for food and cabs. If the issue is just that they want some kind of face time, is there some other meeting during the year that you can attend in person instead of the one before Christmas?

    1. MatKnifeNinja*

      I hope you get what you need off #4 OP.

      My school district ALWAYS schedules open house and conferences around Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It’s obnoxious AF. My niece’s 3rd grade teacher takes it off and runs a looping power point. Oh, yeah the parents were really happy. The principal didn’t care, District didn’t either, but what a way to start a new year with parents. We have decent enough Jewish population. District doesn’t care.

      The Christian’s and other religions get it in the tush too. “Spring Break” is almost ALWAYS that week before Easter, or even two weeks before. They’ll schedule a 1/2 day inservice on Good Friday. You’ll get off at 11 am, but you still have to come in.

      The “Christmas” vacation schedule is funky too. Parents complain it almost never matches up with what most work places give off.

      I’d bring it up to your boss, but sometimes people flat out don’t care. Why my district does the above, I have no clue. Though the teachers have told me it’s a huge bargaining chip during contracts. You want Good Friday and the next 6 consecutive days off? You gotta pay (x) amount move for health insurance or switch to an HMO for example.

      At least they are equally horrible to all faiths…

      1. OP4*

        Luckily I don’t have any push-back on taking the holidays off. I have enough vacation days that I can take off even the “minor” holidays. And if I need a coworker to cover for me, I have very helpful and generous coworkers! Of course, I usually work Christmas week and cover everyone who goes away then in exchange :)

    2. DAMitsDevon*

      With regards to #5, about half of my coworkers on my team work remotely in different parts of the country, and we do have them come into the headquarters about 3 times a year, for a week each time, because there are some benefits to being able to see each other in person and work through tasks and/or do trainings in person. However, those in person weeks are also not scheduled during the holiday season because travel during the holiday season is generally a nightmare.

  12. valentine*

    I replied with a link. I don’t know if Alison searches each page for her name, but her bat signal is any link, because the comment will go into moderation.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      The system may not recognise it as a link (it isn’t showing blue to me) because it’s stuck to text. I’ll put a link in a reply to this to alert her.

    1. gsa*

      Thank you. I have always gone by my full first name.

      After some coaching from my mother that started at about 5 years old, I would say something along the lines of my mother named me Robert. I’ve had people I’ve just met say hey Bobby and then get upset when I didn’t realize they were talking to me!

      1. Scarlet Magnolias*

        I had a co-worker named Robert. My name is Lesley. He would call me Les. I loathe having my name abbreviated. So I called him Bobby. When he responded with “my name is Robert”, I came back with “my name is Lesley”. Had to do it a couple of times, and then he got the picture.

        1. SomebodyElse*

          That’s really odd… usually people who don’t want people to shorten their names are the most sensitive to not doing it to other people. Or that’s been my experience anyway.

        2. pseudo-anon*

          Right there with you, Lesley. I’ve pulled that one a couple of times and yeah, it takes a couple times to sink in. I’m Daniel, not Dan. I will also reply with “In my life, there have been two people who have ever called me Danny and they’re both dead, just sayin’…”

          1. Filosofickle*

            My parents tell a story about brother when he was little. He had the same name as a grandpa-like neighbor — let’s say, Peter. Neighbor went by Pete and brother preferred the full name. Neighbor kept calling him Pete, and one day my brother plants his feet, puts his hands on his hips and declares NO, I’M PETER. YOU’RE PETE. My parents say they chose my name in large part because it’s nearly impossible to nickname. (Nearly. People are persistent.)

            I’ve witnessed how fast people take his name and shorten it. He can introduce himself as Peter, and that person will turn right around a second later and introduce him to someone else as Pete. What people introduce themselves as should be what you call them! One person, his best friend, is the only one allowed to call him Pete. I’m still don’t know he has special dispensation for that.

      2. AKchic*

        No matter what, people will try to shorten my name to “Jessie”. I am *not* a Jessie, never have been, never will be. I loathe the name. I even loathe two people with the name. A very select few get to call me “Jess”. Everyone else has to call me by my given name, unless I give them another name to call me (and I do have a few). I will not answer to anything other than the names I have chosen for myself. Absolutely and pointedly refuse to. I will outright ignore any and all words directed towards me if I am called “Jessie”. I am nice the first time. Less so the second time. By the third time, I assume it’s deliberate and I will quit interacting and just tune them out until they get my name right since they obviously aren’t speaking to me.

    2. Decima Dewey*

      How about “I’ve asked you not to call me Buttercup. I’ve asked repeatedly. The next time you do, I’m considering that as volunteering for the Project From Hell.”

  13. Knitting Cat Lady*

    #1: I’m curious about what would happen if someone (or everyone) put in the anonymous survey: ‘Barry always tries to find out who gave what feedback and makes a nuisance of himself.’

    Only said more professionally.

    1. WannaAlp*

      Yes, I was going to suggest putting that in Barry’s feedback. It could neatly snooker him into silence.

    2. OP1 Here*

      I would agree with this, however, Jack doesn’t solicit feedback from everyone on the team for a person. He may only ask 1-2 people for feedback on Barry, for example. There are some people on my team that don’t interact as much with Barry as I do. And I have no way of knowing who Jack asked for feedback. Some of the solicitation could be done in informal face-to-face meetings (as it was with me) or they could send out the formal form for someone to fill out.

      For our manager however, we are all asked to give feedback on Jack. And what you suggested also crossed our minds this year. If we tell Jack’s manager that he is not nipping issues in the bud (and provide examples) it will have more weight coming from all of us instead of 1-2 people.

      1. juliebulie*

        You can say “any or all of us have given Jack about this behavior of yours that you are doing here, right now.”

        But yeah, maybe it’s the feedback on Jack that matters more.

  14. JSPA*

    OP1:
    It’s relevant that, “Barry and I have worked together for about 15 years and were really close for a long time.” If you were a level of close where informal communication was normal, and it felt fine, so long as the topic was not “how Barry is a screwup,” then there’s a step missing here.

    Barry can and may very reasonably believe that you bear him goodwill, want to see him succeed, and are willing to give him feedback to his face, not only anonymously. Have you ever told him–directly–that he’s not blowing off steam with you anymore, he’s blowing off steam at you, and it’s not welcome?

    Admittedly, you say, “we try to provide constructive feedback during this time. Our manager also provides it during the year. However, sometimes this feedback is taken as a personal attack with no plans to improve himself.” That’s an awful lot of passive voice.

    If you have not already done so, for pete’s sake, tell him:

    “Barry, we’ve known each other for years. You’ve become comfortable contacting me at home or on my personal email. That worked fine back at OldJob, where we chatted informally for brainstorming [or whatever]. But recently, the tone has changed. When I give you feedback to your face at work, you’ve used the time to argue back, or make it into something personal and adversarial. Then you do what you’re doing now, and serve us both a second steaming pile of conflict, on my time, or outside work, or on my personal email. That’s got to stop. It’s a terrible habit, it makes me want to avoid you, and it does neither one of us any good.”

  15. Doc in a Box*

    #5: Basic economy? Do you mean regular economy class (i.e. not business or premium), or do you actually mean the new “basic economy” fare that US airlines have started, with no seat selection, no carry-on, and a high risk of getting bumped if the flight is oversold? I’ve done basic economy for short flights (1-2 hr) where I’m only gone for a couple days; doing it during one of the busiest travel weeks of the year, for a cross-country flight, seems miserable!

    1. No Tribble At All*

      My guess is OP means “not economy plus”, but if it truly is basic economy, may I recommend scheduling your flu for the week of the training?

    2. Another worker bee*

      I had the same thought. I’m really surprised if it’s truly basic economy that it hasn’t bitten the employer in the butt – those are definitely the first people to get bumped (and given that they have likely booked tickets separately, increasingly more likely still to get bumped than a family traveling together). My employer is cheap as hell (think 7 people sharing 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms in an airbnb for travel) but even they want us to not be in basic economy because they would like us to actually be there on time and with ample clean clothing…

    3. #5 OP*

      OP here. Oh yes, sorry, I meant regular economy. They give us a dollar amount that we’re not allowed to exceed when buying our plane tickets and I was denied getting the extra leg room seat even though the tickets were still under our allotted amount. That kind of annoyed me.

      1. JustaTech*

        Wow. Your org is, like, Guacamole Bob cheap (not Guacamole Bob the commentor, but from the letter about the guy in accounting who told people off for getting guacamole on their burrito).

  16. voyager1*

    LW1: Honestly that way of delivering feedback sounds like a nightmare. To be honest only person who need to give me feedback is my manager, and she can’t do it to my face, well that is kind of pointless.

    I don’t care what my coworker thinks of me, she doesn’t control my career. I don’t care what a manager who I don’t work with and has no control over my career thinks.

    I am sure I am probably in a minority opinion on this.

    1. Allypopx*

      360 reviews are quite common, especially in higher level positions or bigger offices where it’s not realistic for the manager to have the amount of information on each individual they may prefer to make an informed review. There are also a lot of things managers just aren’t privy to, and things like interpersonal dynamics can and do impact team productivity in real ways, so this feedback can be very useful.

      1. Support lead*

        Yes. I’m a manager, we do 360° feedback and I liked it even before I was a manager. I need other people to give me feedback on my team because I don’t see everything they do and what if I’m biased? If 4 people tell me the same thing about an employee and I thought the opposite, that’s a sign I need to correct my views.

        Of course several key points need to be understood: 1) the feedback is intended to help the employee improve. There’s no place for petty complaints. If the feedback is unfounded/unfair I need to push back with the complainer. 2) I need to filter for relevant and actionable feedback before delivering it. 3) There should be no way to identify who said what. In our case the feedback sessions are verbal. I write relevant info down and look for trends in several people’s answers/my observations. 4) The company itself needs to have a constructive, open, supportive culture. This process will fail in a sea of backstabbers.

        1. voyager1*

          That process sounds like a 1:1 though. If Jane tells you Mary has an issue with X report. Then John comes in and says the same thing. Then Katie comes in and says the same thing about Mary. You have a Mary problem. I don’t see that as anonymous feedback though.

          I guess I am picturing this anonymous feedback where everyone gets an envelope or email with some kind survey information and comments. Kind of like a professor review at the end of a college class.

          1. Allypopx*

            Ahhhh. No generally the manager knows where the feedback is coming from, the person getting reviewed just doesn’t get to know “susie says you never file your reports on time”.

          2. Normally a Lurker*

            Our 360s are online, compiled by an outside company, and all anonymized before they even hit our manager. They are ranked by level – same, higher, lower. And you *must* have at least two from every level to keep it completely anonymous.

            We are VERY serious about making sure it’s all anonymous.

            Of course there are “tells” like, examples of this one project only two people were on. But the managers normally do a good job of folding that into a review without ness giving that specific detail.

          3. Lora*

            Noooo you are thinking of it coming from only a very small department. When I’ve had 360 reviews this was a BIG company and there was simply no way on earth you’d have time to talk to all the people that your team even works with. You’d have to schedule nothing but meetings talking to hundreds of other people in other departments.

            It’s like this: Say you are managing a department of 10 people whose job is making widget prototypes. Your department works with the following departments:
            Engineering, who designed the widget and sent you the drawings
            Supply Chain / Procurement who buys widget raw materials for your prototypes
            QC, who tests the widgets your department makes
            Operations, who implements the widget manufacturing based on your team’s recommendations
            Marketing, who asks your team for relevant technical information to prepare new advertising materials.
            Imagine that each New Widget Prototype Team is made of 1 of your guys, and 1 representative from each of the other departments. Each of those other departments has 10 people of their own. In one year, each person works on 3 prototypes with 3 different teams, working closely with 15 people per year.

            You do not have enough hours in the day to collect and compile and address feedback from 150 people, you’d never get anything else done. So you automate a review system where the 15 people per person automatically get an email notification asking them to fill out a survey on your staff member who they worked with. HR quickly looks over the comments to make sure they are anonymous-ish, then they are added to your personnel management database for your annual review.

            Hopefully, this can highlight that Joe, who you thought was a really good guy, is in real life a brown-noser who everyone else hates to deal with, and you cannot rationalize, “well Jim is just jealous because Joe got the promotion instead of him” sort of thing. It does tend to catch the more egregious offenders and highlight the ones who are truly great, I don’t know that I’d make any nuanced conclusions based on that.

        2. the_scientist*

          Also a manager, and I find 360 feedback very valuable and did so even before I was a manager. However, this company is not handling their 360 feedback well – all feedback should come directly from the manager and the individual being evaluated shouldn’t be able to see the written comments from their peer; just a summary. That way, there is less chance of the person being able to figure out who wrote what. Also, like you said, the manager needs to review and filter the feedback in advance– what you’re really looking for in 360 feedback is patterns or themes.

        3. tamarack & fireweed*

          It is clear from the horror stories that when 360° style feedback processes fail they fail spectacularly.

          IME they’re best in teams that have a well-established collaborative culture with members who are fairly secure in their professional identities, and a good process for bringing in new members. I like to work in this kind of environment and have enjoyed the process there, even when it brought up stuff I didn’t particularly like hearing.

          Where it doesn’t work – and blows up – is when team members primarily feel they’re in competition with each other, undervalued or in conflict.

          1. Lora*

            Yes. If there are going to be multiple rounds of layoffs or re-orgs due to takeovers, it is time to suspend 360 reviews. Ask me how I know…

          2. Massmatt*

            Was it Amazon that had this really blow up? As in, it became a big news story, evidently you could leave instant feedback for someone just by selecting it on their phone extension and people were definitely gaming it, trading fb for each other, agreeing to put down a rival by piling on, etc.

            But that was a different case.

    2. Green great dragon*

      Well, if I were your manager I’d care what your coworker thinks of you, and what my fellow managers think of you, so there’s that.

      I’m not going to take every word at face value without checking, but nor am I going to assume I get a full picture just from what I see.

      1. voyager1*

        But that is what 1:1 sessions for meeting with your staff is for. They should feel comfortable enough to tell you if they have an issue with someone.

        1. Colette*

          And then you would presumably talk with the person they have an issue with and give them feedback. Why is it an issue if that happens during a performance review as well?

        2. Massmatt*

          I don’t know, without some sort of 360 process most meetings with managers are going to focus on that employee and not them talking about their coworkers except in very general terms. It would never occur to me to use my meeting time with a manager to say “Bob is hard to work with” unless the manager asked. I think most managers would say “let’s talk about YOU”.

          I’m sure there are places that implement 360 reviews badly but IMO it’s very useful to get different perspectives on an employee. Lots of bad employees put on a good show for their boss. And conversely, maybe you and your boss don’t get along well, but your peers think you’re awesome.

          Reviews too often mirror personal feelings, getting different perspectives can help get a more objective picture.

          1. voyager1*

            I have bi-monthly 1:1 meetings. I have no problem at all talking about my coworkers and any performance or personal issues. To me that is what a 1:1 is for. Also to get feedback on anything I am doing (or not doing).

        3. Green great dragon*

          True, but I also want to know what issues people in other departments have with my team members.

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Depending on the job, it’s not unreasonable to want peer feedback. If peers work on projects together, then feedback on the other is important since the manager may not be aware of the details. Let’s say 2 people are working on a project and Joe is doing 90% of the work. All manager may know is that the project was completed, not that Joe did the majority of the work, while Jane was a slacker. In the OP’s case, I’m not sure how the feedback is presented (is manager saying, “here is your peer feedback” instead of rolling it into the whole review) so that can can make a difference.

      But the biggest problem here is that it seems nothing is being done to fix Barry – sounds like he needs a PIP, or some sort of formal “do better or you’re out” type of deal.

      1. voyager1*

        I would say Joe needs to document all that is happening and then get a 1:1 with the manager to explain Jane is slacking. That is not anonymous feedback though.

        1. Close Bracket*

          What will happen next is that Manager has a talk with Jane about her performance including all of Jack’s input, but Manager will not use Jack’s name. That’s what we are calling “anonymous feedback.”

          Lots of places get inputs from peers and other managers for reviews, and yes, those inputs do determine the course of your career. Sometimes that input comes bc someone complained about you for a specific incident, but in some places, that input comes bc your manager asks you for, essentially, references around review time. Those people might not give you assignments or put you up for promotion, but if your peer tells your manager that, say, you haven’t learned XYZ process that well and need to get better at it, then your manager might hold you back for promotions based on that. A good manager will never tell you who complained about the XYZ process bc they don’t want you retaliating against the person.

          1. Close Bracket*

            Oh, and where can I find the job where it doesn’t matter if my peers and other managers think I suck? Are these the same jobs where you take the company car to Mickey D’s all day and it’s impossible to get fired? Bc I believe I have found my dream job there.

        2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          It’s still peer feedback and that matters just as much as what your manager thinks about you.

    4. Colette*

      It’s short-sighted to think the only manager who has influence over your career is the one you currently report to.

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      It sounds like the feedback is coming from the manager, they just solicit input from others which seems extremely normal to me? That’s how every annual review I’ve ever had has worked. Though it sounds like they might have a formal feedback collection system in place whereas at my last job I would just get an email from my boss around the end of the year asking me for a list of people I work with a lot and then they’d email around and be like “hey, let me know if you have any feedback I should include in these reviews!”

      I think it’s important to gather feedback from others because in many positions you do a lot of work that your boss doesn’t really see. For me at least the feedback is usually nice things. One time there was some negative stuff and yeah honestly it was a little awkward because based on the comments it was obvious to me who it was from, and then I was nervous when they got promoted to be my grandboss but we ended up working well together.

  17. triplehiccup*

    This may be field dependent, but my co-workers can absolutely affect my career! The better I do as their team member, the more likely they are to give my projects their best efforts and to go the extra mile to get a tricky project back on track. If my good reputation precedes me, even better. And you never know who will end up being your manager one day (or whom you will end up managing). I would hate to sour a supervisory relationship before it even starts.

    1. OP1*

      This is the same for my field as well. Managers rely heavily on peer feedback especially since they are not in the trenches with us doing the hands-on work.

      1. triplehiccup*

        I’m impressed that you’ve continued to give honest feedback despite knowing it will cause you problems. I hope your manager is both willing and able to fix this situation.

        (And whoops, my original comment was meant as a reply to voyager1.)

  18. WellRed*

    oP 1, do you work at the same place as the letter writer earlier this week who had the jerk employee who she couldn’t fire? You’re asking the wrong question. It’s not “what do I say to Barry,” it’s “what is my boss gonna do to fix this mess and are there any other signs of dysfunction here?” I’m afraid you’re normalizing this.

    1. OP1 Here*

      Ha. No I don’t work there. My company is very great. This is just one blip on the radar fortunately. Our department is great for the most part.

      You are so correct. And I can’t tell you how many times I have had these “how are you going to fix this” conversation with my boss. My boss and I also have a close relationship as well (knew each other and worked together as peers in another role for 10+ years before he became my manager). So he is very candid and open with me and comes to me a lot for feedback on Barry and others. From my perspective it is VERY frustrating because I don’t see him taking action. There is a lot of talk but no action. SO in Jack’s year end feedback I am calling this and other things out.

        1. OP1 Here*

          Would love to provide an update however this nonsense has been going on for a few years now and I can’t imagine that anything will be done but I can’t wait until year end reviews are done. Unfortunately at my company they are not done until March for the year prior. So I wrote this letter early not knowing if/when it would be published so I would be prepared for March!

          1. valentine*

            Are you not able to go to Jack’s supervisor now about ongoing issues?

            What if you tell Jack you don’t feel safe to give feedback about Barry because he retaliates and nothing changes?

      1. Archaeopteryx*

        Include “doesn’t take action against problem employees” in your manager’s review then! ;)

        And if Barry sends anything to your personal email address, don’t answer – just forward it to your boss.

        1. OP1 Here*

          The plot twist: Jacks manager is leaving the company shortly. Retirement. And their personality is to not get involved in crap like this.

      2. Close Bracket*

        My boss and I also have a close relationship as well (knew each other and worked together as peers in another role for 10+ years before he became my manager). So he is very candid and open with me and comes to me a lot for feedback on Barry and others.

        Well, this is a mixed blessing. I didn’t see this reply before I left my own below about not being able to tell Jack that he needs to give more specific feedback. So it sounds like you do have the kind of relationship where you can tell Jack where he has room for improvement in the feedback game!

        OTOH, wow, your manager discusses your peers with you in this level of detail? O.o That’s a little more than just peer input. You’re inching toward deputy manager, and unless you are an official team lead or something, that’s not a role you should be playing for your peers.

        1. OP1 Here*

          I am a project lead but it doesn’t give me any more authority than someone on my team who is not a project lead. Lately I have felt like it is crossing a line. There are things I shouldn’t know and I have prefaced a lot of conversations with that statement.

  19. Moxie*

    A question related to #4- is it generally expected to use PTO for religious holidays? My office is a super standard Monday-Friday 9-5, and we get time off for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, and that’s it, with 5 paid vacation days. Our handbook doesn’t have a policy on this!

      1. OP4*

        Yes, we use PTO for religious holidays that don’t happen to fall on weekends or federal holidays. Luckily my office has a pretty generous vacation policy but I still use the majority of my PTO for holidays.

        1. Quill*

          Coming from contracting I’m jealous of even that many paid vacation or holiday days! I’ve got no paid days.

          1. Triumphant Fox*

            But if you’re contracting and they are doing it right, you have built-in flexibility and your contract rate should compensate for the lack of PTO (not that it does – but in theory, it should). Having to be at a job 5 days a week, every week, with only 7 days off during the year and no option to make up income if you take additional time off is hard.

            1. Quill*

              Lol, in practice, contractors in my industry just get laid off without any notice so you end up spending up to 6 months of every year job hunting… And the contract rate doesn’t make up for the lack of health insurance, let alone PTO.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        I see it a lot from older “family” businesses. My current employer doesn’t “observe” New Years, MLK, Presidents’, Columbus/Indigenous, or Veterans’ Days. They say they balance it out by giving Black Friday and Christmas Eve off, but it’s still a giant pain.

        As bonus, I had to wait six months before I could get paid for the holidays they did observe, which meant I lost four days pay (Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas Eve and Day) my first year.

        (Wanders off to update resume and check indeed)

        1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          That’s insane too. I can understand making you wait to use PTO, but you shouldn’t have to go without pay for company paid holidays.

    1. JSB*

      Places I have worked allow for holiday exchanges, where an employee can trade a holiday out for a religious holiday where workplace doesn’t close. One Jewish colleague took specific Jewish holidays off but always worked on Christmas Day. I think he was the only employee in a 15 story building. He worked every year, saying that – to him – it was just another work day. (I honestly don’t think the company would have cared, although it was policy. However, it was a point of pride for him.)

    2. Librarian1*

      In the US, yes, generally, except for Christmas and Thanksgiving (and my office sometimes gives us Christmas Eve off, depending on when it is).

      1. Librarian1*

        Actually, Thanksgiving isn’t really a religious holiday. However, we also get all federal holidays off (so those two plus, Martin Luther King Day, Memorial Day, 4th of july, Labor day, columbus day, and veteran’s day.)

  20. OP1 Here*

    Thank you Alison!
    These scripts are great and I can certainly use them and adapt them to the situation.

    And you are very correct that there are bigger issues here. There are some passive aggressive moves between Barry and Jack which makes this worse. From my perspective I don’t think Jack is clear in his communications or expectations so when Barry messes up Jack blows up. But on the other hand I see Barry not asking questions and guessing as to what Jack wants or expects on a project. None of these behaviors are professional.

    Jack will also say he addressed things with people but they are done vaguely or the person is not provided with enough details to improve their performance. If I encourage Barry to talk to Jack when they are given vague information maybe Jack will start to realize he needs to be more specific with feedback.

    There are so many idiosyncrasies with this relationship.

    1. voyager1*

      Yikes. I can see why Barry is frustrated then. But going around interrogating coworkers isn’t the thing Barry should be doing.

      1. valentine*

        OP1, are you waiting them out or do you hope to leave someday? Jack and Barry sound exhausting and the length of your relationships isn’t helping you.

        1. OP1 Here*

          I have no intentions of leaving. I have a great gig and this is tolerable in the grand scheme of things. I came here to see how I could better address it in the moment because I am very non-confrontational by nature.

    2. Elenna*

      You mentioned above that manager and peer feedback is separated (which sounds like a bad idea to me regardless), so it sounds like he’s getting clear negative feedback from peers and vague negative feedback from Jack, and maybe convincing himself that Jack’s feedback isn’t really negative. Which doesn’t excuse his behavior, but still.

    3. Close Bracket*

      Wow. You framed this as a Barry problem, but you have two problems, Barry and also Jack. You won’t solve the Jack problem by encouraging Barry to talk more to Jack. Nobody ever has started to realize anything without being specifically told. You can;t really specifically tell Jack, “You know, you are sometimes vague about your feedback, and Barry really needs something more specific to help him change.” Haha, that would go over like a load of bricks. I would work the Barry front, if you feel like your relationship allows this, by being sympathetic to how hard it is to respond to Jack’s comments and talk about trying to get more detail out of him *about incidents* and about what to do differently and discourage him from trying to get names. That’s a lot of emotional labor, though, so I can see how you would rather just deflect the conversation.

  21. CupcakeCounter*

    #5
    I kind of get where the company is coming from in not providing meals, cab fare, etc…because the bulk of the attendees are in the area and this would be a “normal” working day for them.
    HOWEVER! Since you and your other PNW colleagues have to fly to the meeting you are no longer able to use the food and mode of transportation available to you at home which increases your personal costs since eating out costs more than preparing your own meal. In addition to flight and hotel (which sorry but economy is the norm so you are stuck there), you should be able to expense all travel fares and at minimum get a per Diem allotment for meals. Your whole group needs to push back on this as a unit.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      The fact that it costs more to eat out than make dinner at home is irrelevant. If you have to travel for work, you shouldn’t have to pay for your basic necessities, which includes food and transportation to and from the location. OP should definitely talk to others that aren’t local and push back as a group.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        Agree – I just mentioned the cost because I can see management going “but you would be eating that day regardless of where you are at so we aren’t going to pay”.

        1. Consultant Catie*

          That’s a good point to bring up, I’ve definitely had companies use this argument in the past.

    2. Yorick*

      It sounds like they’re using basic economy, where you don’t have a guaranteed seat, get seated last, don’t get to check a bag, etc.

  22. Essess*

    My Oldjob had a mandatory employee survey that was to give feedback for your supervisor, and it would aggregate the comments and feedback before passing the information to the supervisor. The purpose of the survey was to determine the percentage of employee satisfaction in each department. One department had a supervisor that was terrible who screamed and yelled and threatened his employees a lot. After the survey, he found out that the satisfaction rating was below the company standard and he was supposed to work with his employees to find a way to make the department a better place. His solution? He had a meeting with his employees and informed them that if the next survey wasn’t a better percentage, he would fire them.

    1. juliebulie*

      LOL, seems to me that if the next survey is worse, the company would fire HIM.
      I mean, “work with his employees”? Nice way to pass the buck, upper management. Did they attempt to identify the cause of the dissatisfaction and have HIM address it?

      When our Employee Engagement Survey results are low, lower management and employees are supposed to come up with Action Plans. Well, if we’re unhappy about decisions and actions made by senior management, what kind of action plan will fix that?

      It’s a nice way for senior management to pretend that they care about survey results while not actually lifting a finger to improve them.

    2. AKchic*

      I need some kind of update on this. What happened after? Did anyone tell HR? How was his next satisfaction survey (if he made it that long)? Don’t leave us hanging!

  23. Christy*

    LW 4–ugh, they wouldn’t schedule a training over Christmas or Easter! I’d prioritize Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, and Pesach, since I imagine those are the main holidays that affect the less-religious Jews in your office.

    In terms of having to use most of your PTO for religious holidays, could you try negotiating for extra PTO one year instead of a raise? If that’s not possible, could you ask your employer about warning comp time specifically for religious time off? My employer allows this and is very flexible on it, and it helps keep PTO for restful time off.

    1. OP4*

      To be honest, I would love to work on Christmas and earn a comp day that can be used toward a religious holiday, but the office is closed and locked (no security staff) so it’s not possible. But they do allow us to work some federal holidays, like Columbus day, and earn comp days.
      PTO is capped though, and they try to be transparent by having the same PTO for everyone who has been here X number of years.

    2. ACDC*

      I didn’t get the impression that LW4 is upset about having to use PTO for those holidays. She is irked that she is missed potentially important meetings and training because of her religious observance. She’s not wanting the company to give her extra PTO days for those holidays, she just wants the meetings and trainings scheduled for different days so she can attend.

    3. LawLady*

      My consulting firm handled this well. In addition to the bank holidays where the office was closed, each person got 2 “floating holiday” days per year. The firm wasn’t nosy about what “counted” as a holiday. It meant that people from cultural or religious minorities could have their days be holidays. But people without those religious backgrounds could take a day that felt meaningful to them (i.e. a day to meditate or go hiking).

  24. Elenna*

    #5 in addition to Alison’s script about naming exact cost numbers, if you had to take sick time in the past, it might be worth naming that explicitly too. Something like “I’ve also gotten sick every time the past three years, due to the crowded flights, and it made me take sick days off each year.” Might be worth noting that your sickness is costing the company, too.

    1. #5 OP*

      Yes, I will try that. Unfortunately we don’t have actual “sick days”, we just have PTO which must be used for both vacation and sick leave. So they might not care that I’m having to use up my PTO for being sick when I could be using it for a vacation.

  25. Qwerty*

    Is there a public Google calendar that includes the high holy days for all common religions? I’ve always used Google’s “Holidays in the United States” because it marks multicultural events like “Cinco de Mayo” and non-holiday markers like “Tax Day” and “Daylight Savings Time Starts/Ends”. As such, I had assumed that major holidays like Yom Kippur would be in this calendar and was surprised to find that the only religious holidays are Christian. Having a centralized place to check if a day interferes with someone’s holy or cultural days would solve a lot of these problems.

    1. IT But I Can't Fix Your Printer*

      Yep, from the web you can go to add calendar > browse calendars of interest > Holidays then select religions or countries (also super helpful if your office has locations in other countries or or coworkers who often return home to celebrate). From the app it’s Menu > Settings > Holidays > Add religious holidays.

    2. LizB*

      There is, in fact, a public google calendar for Jewish holidays! It includes both major and minor ones, so OP4 should probably confirm with their company which holidays are 100% no-gos for scheduling meetings (Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and the beginning of Pesach would be my big ones) and which are smaller observances (most people won’t do anything during work hours for Rosh Chodesh or Chanukah, for example, so trainings may be fine those days).

      At my last job, the lovely person who made the monthly event calendar would check in with me every month to find out which Jewish holidays on the list were worth mentioning on the calendar to wish people a Happy Whatever, and which were smaller deals. It’s seriously not hard to take us into account as long as you remember that we exist.

  26. C in the Hood*

    OP2: Being a little (just a little) closer in age to Betty than you, I can say that the “What’s up, Buttercup?” is on par with “See ya later, Alligator!” –just a colloquialism. That being said, however, it’s showing she’s being much too casual (as opposed to rude, bullying, sexist, etc) in her interactions with you, and that needs to be shut down.

    1. Parenthetically*

      Ah, no, you missed the part where she said it’s gone from “What’s up, Buttercup?” to literally only ever calling her Buttercup. As a greeting, I’d roll my eyes and pass it off as Betty’s quirk. As a nonstop nickname, I’d find it grating.

  27. Megan*

    LW2, tell her she can call you Buttercup, but only if she responds to all your requests with “as you wish”.

  28. Fish girl*

    #5- No one has addressed yet how ridiculous the TIMING is for this mandatory meeting. The week before Christmas every year! I guess it depends on how literally they take “week”. This year that would mean you come back home with only 3 days until Christmas. So no one is allowed to take a vacation that time? What if you want to visit family? What if you want to be home preparing? What if that lines up with Hanukkah, causing someone to miss the majority of the holiday? Its less inconvenient for the local folks who still get to go home after the training, but it still means they can’t take a long vacation or day off for preparing either.

    I’m surprised there hasn’t been push back from everyone (not just the out of towners) to move the yearly training to a better time of year.

    1. Colette*

      I used to work with a company who had a regular conference at that time of year. It was a pain for everyone – but prices for hotels/conference facilities were cheaper at that time of year.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday that people generally do not take off work for. I don’t disagree that the timing sounds not great to me for a number of reasons, but Hanukkah does not help the argument.

      1. Agnodike*

        Many people still might not enjoy being out of town and unable to celebrate it with their families, though. An out-of-town meeting doesn’t just affect work hours.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          True, but if I’m going to argue for my religious observance as a reason for rescheduling an all-staff meeting, I’d generally pick a big one that I feel it’s important to observe. I’m not saying people don’t necessarily want to spend Hanukkah with their families, but it’s a holiday that matters significantly more to small children than adults, and had its apparent importance boosted in the US due to proximity to Christmas, not because it’s a significant holiday. Using a Hanukkah argument is roughly like saying “don’t fly me out for a meeting over Halloween; I’ll miss celebrating it with my family”. Yeah, people want to and it may be important to some, but I don’t expect it to sway most bosses.

    3. #5 OP*

      Yes, I wouldn’t mind nearly as much if the meeting were at some other time of year. The timing is the most inconvenient part.

  29. Earthwalker*

    #5 Perhaps you might suggest that it’s time for your company to get into the 21st century and not require remote staff members to fly off to face-to-face meetings. There are so many technologies to make effective remote meetings possible, allowing you to meet effectively with the team, go home to your own bed, and save the cost and pollution of air travel. If your company isn’t effective in using these tools for bringing worldwide staff members together it’s going to cost them and reduce their ability to be competitive in the world market.

    1. #5 OP*

      Right!? I’ve asked them and they’ve turned me down. They think it’s important that everyone is in the same room together for some reason. It’s not even an interactive meeting though – it’s just managers talking at us.

  30. Roy G. Biv*

    OP 5 – I feel you. Before I was properly diagnosed with respiratory issues, including asthma, I would get sick EVERY TIME I flew. Well, get sick a week later, but clearly the germ incubator called an airplane was the perfect storm that pushed me into a respiratory cold that would last 2+ weeks. So I began wearing a surgical mask on the plane, and it helps a lot. My experience of flying = long term cold/bronchitis issues have drastically reduced. I do not care what strange looks I get and all seat mates have accepted my explanation of, “I’m not sick right now, but I have asthma, and have learned I do better if I filter the air.”

  31. FellowGermaphobe*

    #5 I think your past illnesses incurred from the flights to/from this trip can certainly be used as a cited reason to ask that there be a remote streaming link. That in itself would save the company so much money! I rarely if ever fly anywhere anymore because you can always count on too many other people selfishly flying when they’re sick and spreading their illnesses to the masses. It’s one of the reasons why we continue to have different flu strains spread across the world every year. And I don’t know about you, but I never sick with “just” a cold, it always turns into sinus infection, ear infection, bronchitis, and I’m sick for several months not weeks. It’s not worth it.

  32. MoopySwarpet*

    For OP5, if pleas to the company do not work and you are forced to attend, using one of those scarf masks to minimize inhaling germs, increasing the cold prevention supplements (vitamin C, zinc, etc.), plenty of hand sanitizer, wiping down trays/area with sanitizing wipes, and so on could help reduce the risk.

    I always carry a handful of individually wrapped “wet ones” when I fly and wipe down the surfaces I touch. I’ve also used a scarf mask to filter over perfumed air or if there are nearby coughers. I’m always extra cautious about touching my face with my hands and use hand sanitizer before eating any snacks.

    1. Senor Montoya*

      You can get really nice ones and fun ones. I get masks that have goth deco or cute kittens (and cute goth kittens) from an online shop called wonderland hearts, there are other shops on etsy with fun masks.

  33. Philosopher Queen*

    OP3, as a professional editor, I urge you not to characterize the job as ‘a few hours’ of work as Alison suggests unless you’ve really looked through it all and gotten a real estimate. You want the budget to get it done well.

    1. juliebulie*

      Yes. And don’t judge your predecessor too harshly. Even experienced writers make grammar errors and typos when they’re working in a hurry. This is why good editors are worth their weight in gold.

      If that’s the extent of the fixup work that needs to be done (vs. reorganizing large amounts of material and correcting factual errors), then your predecessor was actually quite good.

    2. Filosofickle*

      I wondered about that, too! How many documents, and how long are they? 3 hours would not go very far to get up to speed, suggest edits, review, implement, and get final approval. Even if you skipped a couple of steps (like, they have authority to go straight to implementation), it’s not that fast.

  34. House Tyrell*

    Re #4: Employers should be considerate and proactive of religious holidays, especially if LW is in a city with enough of a Jewish population that the schools close. Good Friday and Easter, like the High Holy Days, fall on different dates each year and I’ve never had an employer or heard of one, plan training or events on Good Friday so you can’t even argue that it’s harder to plan for since they are different dates each year. Even my paper calendar from Target included Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, so I expect finding those holidays on a master calendar should be easy enough. It’s just part of being considerate as a person and employer or event planner. The professional organization for my field held it’s monthly lunch and learn yesterday, which I felt was inconsiderate of those fasting or observing the holiday and unable to attend this lecture/networking event.

    I’m an atheist who grew up in an atheist family and I considered all major religious holidays when I plan events or schedule meetings, it just requires being proactive and having a little forethought.

    1. Blueberry*

      Well said. I’m glad you do this, and I’m glad LW #4 asked the question — I was just discussing a similar situation with someone dear to me and I’m going to show them this discussion to give them ideas for handling this in their workplace.

  35. Donkey Hotey*

    OP3
    I’m in a very similar boat. The difference is that I am the first actual trained tech writer my company has had in 50 years. Everything previous was written by engineers (pause for the tech writers to shriek in horror).

    1. Super Duper Anon*

      AHHHHHHHHHHH…….
      Not quite the same, but almost. A lot of stuff here is written by engineers. I have found some amazingly bad things.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        Trade you!
        Current winner:
        “When the value calculating pixels of black in the detecting area exceeds this setting value, the area is judged as print-on.”

        My translation:
        “The minimum number of black pixels required in the scanning area for [the system] to judge that the area contains a print.”

  36. Senor Montoya*

    Buttercup: I would NOT say “would you mind calling me Jane?” It’s not up to Betty, and you want to shut this down. Instead say (you can of course say it kindly), “I don’t like being called Buttercup and it’s really not appropriate. Please call me Jane from now on.”

    Don’t over-soften this.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      I think because OP waited so long before correcting her, it does require some soft language. The first time or two it would be fine to say something like that, but because Betty has been calling her buttercup for a while not being harsh about it is just going to make her feel much worse than is necessary.

  37. PMgr*

    As a Jewish person working in predominantly non-Jewish workplaces, I’ve found that I need to do a fair amount of education on this. Jewish holidays move around a lot on the calendar and it can be difficult for people who haven’t had much exposure to Judaism to keep up. The sundown-to-sundown nature of Jewish holidays can also make it confusing, even for people who try to look up the dates online.

    I use “it’s kind of like Jewish Thanksgiving” to help people understand the magnitude of Passover and Rosh Hashanah.

    I proactively block my calendar for Passover and the High Holidays. I also reach out to anyone who I know is scheduling something major during those months to say “hey, make sure you work around this holiday.” My last company did a big all-day company meeting in the middle of Passover and I made sure they ordered kosher food for the handful of observant folks. It is extra work, and it helps to be on really good terms with your company’s executive assistants.

    For day-to-day stuff, I give people a lot of advance warning that I’ll be firmly offline on the High Holidays. It’s not a “dial into this one meeting” kind of absence. In a pinch, I’ve also used “it would set a bad example for my kids” to explain to people why I really couldn’t make an exception, but that has only happened once. Mostly, I’ve found that while many people don’t know much about Judaism, they respect the idea of religious observance and will do their best to accommodate.

    I have had to miss a handful of things, particularly when I was new to companies. I skipped my first annual sales meeting at a new job because it was during Passover and just a few weeks after I started. They got better at scheduling around Passover after that. Nothing I’ve missed has ever been critical, you’d be surprised at how well people can manage without you.

  38. BigSigh*

    What about when it’s a service worker who is using pet names during a transaction? I don’t live in the south were this is more common, but still end up checking in at a hotel, getting a sandwich made at a deli, working with a stylist on a hair cut, and the person has some pet name the whole time. Grin and bear it? Or a variation of the language above, like, “Actually, I prefer not to be called ‘petname.’ Thank you for understanding.”

    1. Senor Montoya*

      If I’m never going to see them again (sandwich maker at deli, barrista at cafe I don’t go to often), I cock an eyebrow at them but don’t say anything.

      People I’m going to see again (hairstylist, barrista at my favorite cafe) or whose job = you should know better than to call customers anything other than their official name on the business documents (hotel desk staff), I very nicely say, “I don’t like that nickname, please call me Senor Montoya instead. Thanks!” Big smile.

    2. Filosofickle*

      Oof, at a restaurant recently both the server and the manager called me sweetie/hon. Three times in one lunch. Blech.

    3. Librarian1*

      I think it depends on the service being performed. For getting a haircut, I’d ask them to call me by my name because haircuts take forever (when you have long hair anyway). But if I’m just checking into a hotel or getting a sandwich, I wouldn’t care because a) they don’t know my name, b) I’m only interacting with them briefly and probably not very often, and c) they deal with a lot of people and I don’t think it makes sense to expect them to learn my real name.

    4. CMart*

      For those things I just let it go. They’re not singling me out (like “Buttercup” is in this situation), it’s not an ongoing relationship, it’s just a thing they do vs. it being about me.

      Sweetie, darlin’, sir, ma’am, champ, buddy, hon, whatever. I just chalk it up to them trying to be friendly and move on. It’s really not important.

      For a more prolonged interaction like a haircut I might say something (“oh, you can call me CMart!”) but I’m also not a person who cares about this, so I would probably still let it go.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s always okay to correct someone if they’re making you uncomfortable.

      I’m one who uses general endearments in quick service situations. If someone says they’re not into it, I apologize and move on. I don’t care either way, everyone gets a choice to speak up or forever hold their peace.

    6. Arts Akimbo*

      I hate being called pet names with a fiery white-hot passion, but when a service worker calls me one, I just let it go. It’s not worth ruining their day, and I as the customer have more power in the interaction.

  39. Senor Montoya*

    If I’m never going to see them again (sandwich maker at deli, barrista at cafe I don’t go to often), I cock an eyebrow at them but don’t say anything.

    People I’m going to see again (hairstylist, barrista at my favorite cafe) or whose job = you should know better than to call customers anything other than their official name on the business documents (hotel desk staff), I very nicely say, “I don’t like that nickname, please call me Senor Montoya instead. Thanks!” Big smile.

  40. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    “You need to call me Jane.” or “Please call me Jane.” Said calmly, patiently, and with a smile, like you would to a child. I wouldn’t even say that you don’t like buttercup because Betty might just come up with a different nickname…”Well, you said you didn’t like buttercup…so sweet pea it is.”

    Even as a greeting, “What’s up buttercup?” would get old after about 3 times. As a nickname it’s not just annoying, it’s totally inappropriate at work the same as any other cutesy or gendered term of endearment…honey, hon, baby, babe, boo, sweet pea, sweetie, darling, dear, pussycat, kitten, stud, stud muffin, bro, dog, chief, master…

  41. Dear Little Buttercup, I*

    I’m called little Buttercup, dear little Buttercup, though I could never tell why…

  42. Amethystmoon*

    Maybe it’s just me, but if someone called me Buttercup consistently at work, I would be constantly making Princess Bride references. “As you wish” and “Inconceivable,” interchangeably.

  43. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    #3 This is literally my life story. Cleaning up after the ones before me.

    You just need to acknowledge that there are errors and how would they like you to proceed. Let them know how long it’ll take you to personally do it if necessary. Thankfully for me it’s usually already done and dusted. Except for the issue I found once where accounts were set up wrong so use tax wasn’t paid on a few things. That one gave me a panic attack to say the least.

    It’s better than the person who trained me in use tax and told me to not bother paying taxes on the “little things”. Being from the land of no sales/use tax made me go “uh… that sounds odd but…ok… you’ve got a degree after all and live here.” (Then I got to a place that I had time to read the regs and of course that’s not at all how it works.)

    A new set of eyes and skill set will always find things. Remember that so you don’t judge too harshly. You’ll leave errors behind as well over the years. That’s pretty normal given the volume we’re dealing with.

  44. Retail4Life*

    For #2 – “What’s up Buttercup?” is actually a saying. I wonder if this is the only context. If I said “What’s up Buttercup?” to a coworker it would be like saying “See you later alligator.” I’m not nicknaming my coworker an Alligator, it’s just a funny saying. I agree that it’s likely not at all malicious. Of course, you can ask them to stop but know it might come off as you not getting it. Maybe asking them to speak more professionally at work might be worth it. Although if someone said I couldn’t use funny sayings at work I’d probably say – After a while crocodile!

    1. PB*

      It sounds like it started as “What’s up, Buttercup?” and evolved into the employee calling LW2 “Buttercup” all the time.

    2. Torgo*

      Unfortunately, OP has explained that Betty means it to be rude, so it’s not an Alligator situation. I wouldn’t mind calling someone Crocodile.

  45. Curious Cat*

    #4 I just had a similar experience happen at my company! I’m also Jewish and we had part 1 and part 2 of a mandatory training scheduled on both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur… I talked with my manager first and then emailed the person who planned the training and let them know (cc’ing my manager on the email). Thankfully they rescheduled with no hesitation.

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