my new hire went AWOL on her first day

A reader writes:

I recently offered a job to someone who accepted and set up a start date. When the person was due to come in for her first day, about a half hour before her shift, I got an apologetic email about a medical emergency (ankle sprain), but she did not specify if she still wanted to work with us. I followed up with a phone call and left a voicemail wishing her well and discussing the position, and also sent a an email with the same information. I have given her a couple of days to get back to me (and the weekend), but have not heard back yet. How much time am I allowed to let pass before I put out a new job posting and look for other candidate?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there include:

  • Employee wants halal lunch options
  • The job I’m discussing with an employer just got advertised
  • Interviewer said the job’s salary is $20,000 less than I’d earlier said I was looking for
  • My coworkers keep talking behind closed doors

{ 504 comments… read them below }

  1. FreddyLongJohns*

    No offense but an ankle sprain isn’t exactly debilitating. I’d be understanding for about a day because she’d have all the hospital nonsense to deal with, but if they didn’t get back to me the next day I’d start calling up other candidates.

    1. Parenthetically*

      The nature of the injury is far less important than the fact that she hasn’t communicated! I can see calling and saying, “I got a terrible sprain and it’s excruciatingly painful, so my doctor has recommended I stay off my feet until X Date (so I’ll come in that day/I’ll come in before then as long as I can be sure I can follow doctor’s orders/whatever adjustment needs to be made) — I’m so sorry about the inconvenience!” But just not following up or showing up? Nope.

      1. FreddyLongJohns*

        Yep, I was in a car wreck literally the night before I started a new job and still managed to keep my boss informed (and made it to work the next day)

      2. JM60*

        The lack of communication is the main issue, but the nature of the injury may sometimes make it difficult to communicate though.

          1. Quill*

            Yeah, I’ve had some pretty gnarly ankle pain and I can certainly see things pilling up initially, but by the next day it’s time to check the email again…

    2. Nom the Plumage*

      That actually made me irrationally angry after I had to drive myself to work with a scorpion bite on my foot. This employer is incredibly generous and patient!

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      If it was her driving foot, it would make things hard! But I’d give them a day or two to sort out their transportation issues. If it’s our metro area, call an Uber or get a bus schedule. If it were in the backwoods that I’m originally from, I’d be more willing to wait until they could drive on it depending on the job they’re taking. I can’t have someone with a sprained ankle out on my production floor but I can sure get you a decent setup if it’s a desk job.

      So I’m not really too put off by the injury itself.

      It’s the lack of communication.

      When someone says “I’m injured/sick” and my response is “Okay, so what’s the game plan? Are you planning on being here tomorrow? [assuming they are dealing with getting themselves transportation in this kind of case or if they thought it was a 24hr bug kind of thing].” The appropriate thing to do is respond with “Yes, I’ll be there for tomorrow. Thank you for being accommodating.” or “I need a couple of days because of getting transportation figured out. My partner is out of town until Thursday and once they’re home, I can get in no problem.”

      It’s really all just about the communication and being respectful that you’re putting people in a pinch.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        If it was her driving foot, it would make things hard!

        But it ain’t her emailing/phone calling foot…

      2. Genwth*

        I can guess the generation. Unfortunately this is common in a certain age group. Why ghosting and lying about injuries or family emergencies is a thing now I’ll never understand.

      3. Hlyssande*

        Lol, I broke my right ankle in high school and drove myself around by shoving that leg over the console and driving with my left.

        ….Wouldn’t advise it.

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

      Yes. It almost sounds like the kind of made up excuse someone would use to get out of a date they’d agreed to because something better came along. “Um, yeah, I can’t make it after all…because I…um…sprained my ankle…and have to keep it iced…continuously… I’ll call you when I’m…um…better.” And then ghost.

    5. Fikly*

      I sprained my ankle. Guess what the damage actually was! Three torn ligaments and two torn tendons. Yup, that’s a sprain. I couldn’t put any weight on it, was in a cast, and on heavy duty narcotics. It hurt more than actual surgeries I have had.

      Now, I am the type of person who would have been calling from the ER, profusely apologizing, so I still think it reflects on how much this person cares about the job. But there is also the possibility she is actually incapable of communicating.

      1. Ms.Vader*

        I broke my ankle and leg in 3 places including extensive ligament damage and had two major surgeries- I was emailing my boss the day after it happened and followed up again after I was settled. You can definitely communicate in some form with a severe ankle injury. The lack of follow up here is enough for me to move onto the next person.

      2. JSPA*

        Level 3 sprain is a serious, serious injury and can take as long to heal as a break, before it’s usable, and stay painful and sub-optimal even longer. Still, if she’s that sedated 5 days later (2 days plus weekend plus asking on the monday?) and has nobody on hand who can ask, “is there anyone I should call”…maybe it’d be time for a wellness check (assuming that would otherwise be safe)?

        I mean…I think I’d back off the sedatives briefly, at some point, until I could coherently say, “help me swipe the unlock pattern and help me text my new boss.”

    6. Sama*

      Not actually accurate: sprains can in fact be more painful, more severe and significant than broken bones. “Sprain” merely means that the damage is specifically to the ligaments (rather than either the bone or the joint) and can run from “ow” to “these have literally torn and will never heal properly.”

      People are often unaware of this, because a) most sprains are only moderate, b) particularly colloquially the term covers everything from “I twisted my ankle a tiny bit and it’s still twingy at the end of the day” to “I will never walk on this ankle properly again”, including things that aren’t actually sprains (as the ligaments are not damaged), and c) this perception often creates a self-reinforcing cycle of identifying the injury.

      1. Ms.Vader*

        This isn’t accurate- breaking a joint will also cause a sprain – it would be very hard not to do so in that case. I was under the same assumption till I did break my ankle and leg and my surgeon succinctly shot that thought down. Sprains can be incredibly painful but breaks on a joint are compounded with the addition of broken bones. I’ve now experienced both and can verify haha

    7. Mama Bear*

      We had someone start and 3 weeks into the job went AWOL. It was never confirmed to the team, but several of us strongly suspect he was picked up on a warrant and in jail, which is why he didn’t return any calls (we are a nosy lot and googled his name in public arrest records). I’m not saying she’s in jail, but she wouldn’t be the first or last to fib about an injury to cover something else. I also once worked with someone who legit had surgery…but used that as a cover for why they couldn’t come in when they were actually serving a short jail sentence. They were officially out on disability until they were caught.

      Either way, a standard rule of thumb is 3 days without contact or good reason is abandoning your post. I’d follow whatever HR says you need to do to sever any lingering association with her.

    8. texan in exile*

      Yep. Third day of work, fell off my bike and I guess I was sort of slightly knocked out for a bit? A passer-by picked me up and drove me to urgent care, which sent me to ER. Long story short, texted photo of my face, which looked like I had been beat up, to my boss to let him know what was going on and then, once I had my stitches, was at work by 1:00.

    9. Oryx*

      Depends on the sprain. I’ve had some sprains that were incredibly debilitating and impossible to put any weight on. The flip side, I walked around on a broken fibula for a week thinking it was a sprain.

    10. blink14*

      I busted my ankle in 2014 and it was termed a sprain. Constant pain, difficult to walk long distances, and I was unable to sleep through the night without high doses of Tylenol. Had surgery about a year later and it ended up being worse case scenario – ligament reconstruction and cartilage repair.

      It was diagnosed as a sprain by a highly sought sports medicine doctor and I was told the pain would fade by both that doctor and my original physical therapist. I ended up having to see a foot and ankle specialist who did everything he could think of to avoid surgery before we agreed to do it. Painful steroid shots, excruciating physical therapy sessions, months on crutches, casts, and a walking boot. I was in physical therapy for nearly a year, between the original PT order, prior to surgery and post surgery. It still hurts some and will never be the same but I can walk and sleep through the night.

      Don’t discount that this person may actually have a serious injury. 100% she should be contacting this job, but it is unfair to judge so quickly.

    11. Anonnow*

      A bad ankle sprain can require surgery. The point is she is blowing off her new employer. I spent six months in a cam boot with a very bad ankle sprain.

    12. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

      I think she should have notified the employer about it and that was the mistake here, but in some cases it might be difficult to report onsite right away. An ankle sprain is a big deal when it is not possible to commute by car.

      I live off an inaccessible elevated train stop in NYC, meaning to get to work I must first walk to the station, take 3 flights of stairs, potentially stand on the platform, potentially stand on the train for 50-60 minutes with my laptop on my back (good luck getting a seat at rush hour even on crutches), then go up 3.5 more flights of stairs (that station has partial escalators but they are often broken) to reach the elevator bank in the building. Then do the whole thing in reverse to go home, all the while not being able to elevate it at the office and spending the day in misery. Doing 12 flights of poorly maintained stairs, a long stand, and a mile walk roundtrip on crutches is a lot to expect of someone, even someone who was in shape before. To take a cab/uber would be around $70-100 each way at rush hour from where I live. Going by multiple busses would take close to 2 hours each way and again, I would likely be standing for much of it. In my case when I had a bad ankle injury two years ago, they let me work remotely for 4 weeks until I was downgraded to an aircast (entirely possible and doesn’t matter for my role since my boss is another country anyways), but if I had a job where that wasn’t an option I would have probably had to do FMLA or just had to quit and find a new job a few weeks later.

  2. JJ*

    I’m not sure I 100% agree with the halal lunch answer. It sounds like they do offer options that meet halal requirements, they just happen to be vegetarian and vegan. Accommodating halal needs is one thing – accommodating a desire to eat meat seems like it’s a step further than I’d expect an employer to go, unless there’s an element here I’m missing.

    1. Clarry*

      I agree with you. It’s not like the employee can’t eat anything offered. They still have two options available.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      A bit of Googling says that if flavorings or dressings contain alcohol, they can be vegetarian but not halal. So . . . no, one does not fully cover the other.

      1. Cat*

        This is true, but probably doesn’t come up that much and especially it probably doesn’t come up that BOTH the vegan and vegetarian option have alcohol.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          One foodstuff that’s problematic to many Muslims: rice wine vinegar. Yes the alcohol is supposed to have evaporated out, but there’s a chance there’s still some left. A strictly observant friend of mine thought it was too close to call, and avoided it. No sushi for her.

      2. Spencer Hastings*

        Sure, the LW should make sure that there isn’t an alcohol issue, but as long as that’s not the case, this employee isn’t being excluded. (Plus, the employee told the LW that she “isn’t a vegetarian”, not “it has alcohol in it.”) I was raised Jewish, so I’m very used to eating the vegetarian option despite not actually being a vegetarian, and it honestly seems a little entitled to say that the vegetarian option isn’t good enough. Not eating pork/etc. is a need for her, yes, but eating meat is just a want. And if the “vegetarian option” is, like, just a bunch of sad wilted lettuce leaves, then they need to get a better vegetarian option for the sake of both her and the vegetarians.

        1. DataGirl*

          Both among my Jewish colleagues and family and our Muslim friends it’s common to go with the vegetarian option to meet kosher/halal rules. I can understand if it’s salad every day that would get annoying, but a restaurant that caters to vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free is probably one that is going to have multiple meal options. On the other hand, if they can get a halal meal delivered from somewhere else it might be good to show willingness to be accommodating. It’s worth at least asking around.

          1. Mama Bear*

            Same. Several of my friends opt for vegetarian or vegan when there are no kosher options. This may also be a situation where it isn’t as hard as the OP thinks it is – I’m sure the employee has places where they eat and were it me I’d take one or more of them into consideration and see about buying a similarly-priced meal for this person. Alternatively, maybe others would be open to trying new food and would like to try the halal option, too.

          2. Clorinda*

            I don’t think even a veg option would qualify for the strictest interpretation of kosher, as it would be prepared in a kitchen where various utensils have been used for both meat and dairy repeatedly in the past, so it wouldn’t always work out that way.

            1. Spencer Hastings*

              Right. In the Conservative Jewish communities my family ran in, that was what people did, but if your definition of kosher was “can’t be cooked in the same kitchen”, then yeah, you’d need a different solution.

            2. DataGirl*

              You are right that it depends on how strict the person is- for someone who is ultra-Orthodox and needs separate dishes to be used for meat/dairy there’s really no replacement to a kosher certified kitchen. I personally have never encountered someone who held to that strict of an interpretation but they do exist.

              1. MatKnifeNinja*

                My Orthdox friends won’t eat stuff like broccoli at a no Kosher restaurant. They wash it in a certain way to check for insects. Strawberries are the same way.

                So the all vegan/vegetarian meals are fine for Kosher is not true.

                And they will skip food/meals.

              2. Grace*

                Doesn’t have to be ultra-Orthodox. Modern Orthodox or even a stricter Conservative Jew would not eat the vegetarian option if the cooking equipment and plates/utensils are used for both meat and dairy or pork. I know a few dozen people like that.

              3. Quill*

                Even when I was on an archaeology dig in israel we eventually found a pizza place willing to sell us a cheese pizza with beef pepperoni on the side so we could assemble it ourselves.

          3. Rusty Shackelford*

            I can understand if it’s salad every day that would get annoying

            If it’s salad every day, that would get annoying to the vegetarians/vegans too, and it needs to be fixed.

        2. prof*

          Um, vegetarian/vegan options do NOT meet rules for being Kosher, unless you are very lax (like just not eating pork or mixing meat and dairy). There are rules for vegetables too (involving the number of insects in them, yes, really. surfaces being Koshered, etc.). Many Orthodox folks I know wouldn’t touch any option unless specifically labeled Kosher.

          If the employee is strict about it being Halal, same (there is a prayer involved in the Halal process). if she’s been eating these options, then yeah, probably fine by her standards.

          1. Mama Bear*

            I’m just saying what some of my friends have done – I figure they know their personal comfort level/restrictions best, but yes, I am aware that kosher is more than just keeping meat and dairy apart.

            So getting back to the OP’s question, this again would be a gray area, depending on the person’s religious dietary requirements and again a reason to consider expanding past the options currently given if there is an employee who needs them. The employee has asked and there are reasons to specifically accommodate this and IMO I don’t see why not.

    3. CatCat*

      I think it’s worth looking into, but not worth bending over backwards for.

      I agree that it does seem like it is accommodating a food preference (eating meat) rather than a religious requirement since there are options that meet the requirement.

      The only meat that I eat is fish. I’d like to eat it. I won’t eat meat that isn’t fish. If I were at OP #2’s work, I’d certainly appreciate it if they could see if there could be a fish option, but if there isn’t, oh well. I can get the vegetarian or vegan options, or just bring my own fish from home.

      1. TheCommenterFormerlyKnownAsRUKiddingMe*

        “.., it does seem like it is accommodating a food preference (eating meat) rather than a religious requirement…”

        Couldn’t “preference” be applied to veg/vegan as well?

        1. SimplyTheBest*

          I think it’s different when one is a “i don’t eat this” and the other is “i’d prefer to eat this.” If you don’t have a vegetarian/vegan option, those vegetarians and vegans don’t have anything eat. That’s not the case for someone who can and will eat the vegetarian option but would just prefer meat.

        2. oneofthose*

          Many vegetarians are ethical vegetarians. It’s not excluding meat because we don’t like it, it’s excluding meat because we don’t want something to have to die so we can eat when there are perfectly acceptable alternatives, and we think that feeding livestock is an environmentally damaging and wasteful method of food production. For us we feel similarly to those who have a religious food requirement – this is the way we live in order to meet our ethical and cultural standards, it’s not a choice we make day to day or meal to meal. There are also many directly religious vegetarians including some Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. Being vegetarian is not the same as being a picky eater!

    4. Mujj*

      Happy to see your comment because I feel I’m usually in the minority on this issue. There are two options that are perfectly fine for her to eat. It would be a nice gesture of the employer to offer halal options if they want to be very accommodating, but I don’t see the need to specifically get meat for her. Wanting to eat a meat option over a veg one is a pure preference — does everyone at the company get to dictate according to their preferences?

      1. Foxy Hedgehog*

        I believe you are mistaken. Just like kosher, there is no guarantee that something is halal just because it does not contain meat.

        1. CatCat*

          But the complaint is not that the vegetarian option is not halal. The complaint is that it’s vegetarian.

          1. Foxy Hedgehog*

            Hmm, I re-read that.

            “The place we order our lunch from does not offer a halal option.” That’s what I was basing my response on. I do see, like you do, contradictory statements; I’m not sure but I think the LW may be operating under the same misinterpretation that all vegetarian/vegan is also halal.

            1. Kendra*

              I don’t know enough about halal: can the catering place tell them if it is or not, or is that something that has to come from some type of religious…authority…person (oh, my goodness, I cannot word today!)? It might be solvable with a few emails or a phone call; it could even be in the catering place’s interest to bring it up with them, since being able to advertise their products as halal would be a selling point if any of their other customers are Muslim or have Muslim employees.

              1. Donkey Hotey*

                Generally speaking, halal food will often be marked as such, just like kosher food is.
                The exception can come when it is from a small, local halal butcher.

          2. Robin*

            The complain “that it’s vegetarian” might have gone something like this:

            “I need a halal option”
            “Why not just take the vegetarian option?”
            “I don’t need vegetarian, I need halal.”

            Which seems fair enough.

        2. Cat*

          Except for alcohol mentioned above, I don’t think that’s true. My understanding is that the halal rules are generally less strict than kosher and are mostly about slaughtering meat.

          1. TheCommenterFormerlyKnownAsRUKiddingMe*

            Correct. There is a specific method for slaughtering the meat.

            I’ve been preparing/cooking halal for about 15 years.

            Not all veg options will be inherently halal depending on non-veg ingredients in sauces/dressings.

            Are those bullion cubes halal? Did they use actual wine in the coq au vin?

            The veg/vegan options may/may not be halal and at any rate are as much a preference as wanting meat is.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        “Two options” is not very welcoming. You’re assuming that these are two options she actually likes. How many options do the vegans and vegetarians have?

          1. Snorkmaiden*

            Erm, the vegans and vegetarians don’t have the same number of options. They have one and two respectfully.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          . . . unless there are vegan/vegetarian options that have components that are vegetarian but not halal, as mentioned above. If something has a wine vinegar dressing, it’s not halal . . .

          1. Cat*

            Yes, I think we’ve all agreed they should make sure alcohol isn’t a part of the vegan or vegetarian options.

      3. Aquawoman*

        The fact that she’s asking for a different option means that she doesn’t have two options that are “perfectly fine.” We don’t know why she’s asking; maybe the vegetarian option leaves her sleepy or starving.

        1. Snorkmaiden*

          I’m sorry, what? Are you saying not everyone can eat vegetarian food? Seriously?

          You can go without meat for one meal!

          1. DataGirl*

            My kid is vegetarian so I only cook vegetarian meals at home. If I want meat I can have it when I go out or for my lunch at work. I’m sure this person could do the opposite.

          2. Fikly*

            I actually cannot eat the vast vast majority of vegetables, for health reasons. So no, I could not survive on a vegetarian lunch.

            Please check your assumptions.

            1. Snorkmaiden*

              Vegetarian food doesn’t mean just eating vegetables.

              Seriously, you all seem to be very confused abou this.

            2. paperpusher*

              I think if you have this degree of food restrictions (I would hope all options include vegetables!) you would do better to opt out of a catered lunch.

          3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            There are plenty of people for whom vegetarian food is a problem. That may or may not be the case here, but it certainly does happen.

          4. Dust Bunny*

            If the “vegetarian options” are salads and potatoes, diabetics can’t. I guess they could bring their own food, but then so could the vegetarians, etc., so . . .

            1. ...*

              It sounds like they haven’t experience an employee with a stronger limitation beyond ones that fit large swaths of people, ie vegetarian. A lot of people can eat a veggie meal (YES not all, I know). At some point, if you have a preference OR a need that is outside what is generally considering a mainstream offering, you may need to make accommodations for yourself. Even if that need is medical or religious. My vegan family member always carries fruit and vegan protein bars with her, because hey you might be somewhere where there just isn’t an option that works for you! I often opt out of company provided lunches because they are super unhealthy. I’ve asked if people want to do a healthier option and they say no. So I bring my own stuff. Religion is more protected than just wanting to be a healthy person but at the end of the day its our own personal need. A company lunch is a nice to have not a requirement and its not like she’s getting charged for the lunch and there’s no option.

              1. ScottishOnion*

                This is how I feel. It looks like the original letter writer’s office already has several options available for alternative eating. At this point, unless a large amount of workers require the halal option, I think that this is something that should be something that the lunch eater needs to accommodate for themselves.

          5. Not So NewReader*

            I have to have some meat-fish-bird type of thing with each meal. I’d rather go without, but that is not doable for me. I would be very concerned if a boss told me that it was doable for me.

          6. Artemesia*

            Almost all vegetarian meals contain a particular ubiquitous vegetable that I can’t eat — makes me literally sick. So Vegetarian is not something everyone can eat if they can’t choose the precise nature of the vegetarian meal. A fair number of people have serious digestive issues with typical vegetarian fare.

            1. FairPayFullBenefits*

              What’s the vegetable? I’m just curious, I can’t think of one that’s in most veg dishes!

          7. arjumand*

            Sure, I could eat legumes instead! No, wait, I can’t. Broccoli . . . nope. Cauliflower? Haha, very funny. Much like Aunt Marge in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I will inflate like a barrage balloon.
            I could go down the whole list, but in the end we’re left with certain types of lettuce, carrots and spinach.

            Have to watch my blood sugar, so pasta, rice, potatoes are right out.

            So, yes – meat is one of the remaining joys of my life. If I were faced with this situation, and I also had a religious restriction which wasn’t being met, I’d probably opt out. But I wouldn’t be happy about it.

            1. Rainy*

              Are you me?!

              Except for me it’s migraines that I’m supposed to do everything possible to avoid, since the type of migraine legumes and brassicas (and a few other things) give me is strongly correlated to fatal stroke.

          8. DJ*

            By that logic, why don’t they just make everyone eat vegan or vegetarian to cut down on costs?

            I think the problem is that most people who eat meat don’t object to eating vegetarian for one meal, but if you were expected to avoid meat at lunch every day, that’s a lot for some people, and especially since this is religious accommodation (rather than dietary preference), there should probably be some equity (as in, meat eaters get meat every day, then so should the meat eater who needs to eat halal). And that’s assuming the vegetarian/vegan options are actually halal.

            1. Sally*

              I agree. Someone upthread said that anyone can eat something they don’t particularly love for one meal. But it’s not one meal. It’s lunch every. single. workday. I’m surprised that so many commenters feel that it’s OK to not order what the employee wants to eat. If that were me, I’d feel terrible – like I didn’t matter as much as everyone else. I have some food restrictions that are difficult to accommodate, and I’m used to fending for myself or just not eating what’s available and getting something later. But if it was an everyday occurrence that everyone else got subsidized food that they liked, and I never did, I would definitely feel devalued by my employer.

                1. Marion Q*

                  But she’s losing out on a perk that everyone else gets. The lunch is presumably paid for by the company, so that means everyone else gets subsidized meal EVERY DAY, and this Muslim employee doesn’t.

                2. JessaB*

                  And it’s quite obvious that she’s bringing her own when nobody else is the OP says they have right now 100% participation. That would be a pretty obvious difference, and would the company be subsidising it the way they do for the other employees? Giving this employee the company contribution to her food?

                3. Avasarala*

                  But nobody else has to buy or bring their own. They can take advantage of a perk offered by the company, and she can’t because of her religion (or she can but not comfortably).

                  This is such an easy way to make someone feel welcomed and valued that I don’t get why people keep pushing back on this. If they’re willing to offer vegan AND vegetarian options (vegetarians can just eat the vegan option can’t they?) then they should offer a halal option for her.

                4. Nejma*

                  Marion Q is EXACTLY right. I thought this was supposed t9 be a pro-diversity, inclusive blog. OP (and a lot of posters) needs to check her Islamophobia and offer a halal option, stat.

            2. Koala dreams*

              Some places do have vegetarian or vegan food as the default, and only serve other food for people with special diets. It’s usually not cheaper though, since it’s more difficult to find chefs with the knowledge to compose vegan/vegetarian meals, and many vegetarian dishes needs more prep time than common meat meals.

          9. Rainy*

            I can’t eat most “vegetarian food”. It’s not about going without meat, it’s about the staples of vegetarian and vegan cuisine being inedible for me.

          10. Quill*

            The problem here might not be that it’s vegetarian, but that the vegetarian option is every day, which she may not know enough about to balance with the rest of her nutritional needs. Hard to tell when the only information is that the food offered is vegetarian and she wants a halal option, though.

    5. Asenath*

      But halal and vegetarian aren’t equivalent, so it’s placing an artificial limitation on a halal diet to insist that the person must eat vegetarian food. It’s almost like saying – sure, we serve vegetarian food. We don’t serve any beans or tofu or meat substitutes, but we’re happy to give you the steak dinner with the steak removed.

      1. Cat*

        I don’t think that’s really true because presumably the vegan and vegetarian options are full meals, not a side salad. Otherwise the company would be getting complaints from the vegans and vegetarians. I don’t know that meat at every meal is a necessity.

        1. Asenath*

          I didn’t say that meat was required at every meal, simply that not allowing it at all doesn’t means something is halal; it means it’s some subset of a halal diet. It’s also possible produce something that’s “vegetarian” or “vegan” which includes some limited bits of a vegetarian or vegan diet. If that was done, I’d expect vegetarians or vegans to complain, and if someone was presented with halal meals that somehow never included mean, I’d expect them to complain.

          1. Cat*

            I kind of disagree with this, I guess. I’m not a vegetarian but I am accustomed to working at organizations that only serve vegetarian food because that accommodates the most number of people. So I guess it seems normal to me. I don’t think there’s anything lacking ab out a (decent) veg meal once a day.

            1. Close Bracket*

              But when only the person with halal needs’ preferences are not accommodated, it singles that person out and impacts them differentially based on membership in a protected class.

              1. Cat*

                This is only true if you look at preference as a binary meat/no meat thing. I’m sure literally everyone working there has preferences that aren’t accommodated by mass catering. Nobody is getting exactly the meal they want every day. I don’t know that meat or no meat is so fundamental as to make a difference there.

                1. Avasarala*

                  It’s because halal affects the ability to have meat in the food…

                  Why not have the options be halal, vegetarian, and vegan? And people who want a non-halal option with meat can be told “well nobody is getting exactly the meal they want every day.”

                2. Magenta*

                  Some Schools in the UK do this Avasarala*, a lot of non-Muslims object because they see Halal and Kosher slaughter as cruel and causing more pain and suffering to the animal than what is required by the welfare standards for non-ritually slaughtered meat.

            2. JessaB*

              It’s different if all they are serving is a vegetarian meal to everyone, every day. But they’re not, they’re serving meat to the who don’t need Halal meat.

              It’s not that a vegetarian meal is necessarily lacking it’s that other people are allowed to eat meat and this one employee cannot.

              And as long as the wine is not made with animal products, wine can be both vegetarian and vegan, and NOT Halal. So some vegetarian and vegan products would not be appropriate.

              Not getting into people who have limitations that don’t allow them to eat certain veg because this isn’t the issue since the company also serves meat options.

          2. hbc*

            They’re not required to give every single subset of all diets. I’m sure if the meat option is chicken or beef, no one is raising a stink because lamb isn’t on the list. Similarly, if they don’t do lentils but do beans and tofu for vegan, it’d be awfully entitled to complain about the limited offering.

            No workplace (or restaurant) is required to offer the entire range of acceptable foods within anyone’s diet. As long as it’s not “Hey, iceberg every day, you’re welcome,” it’s not an issue.

          3. Meredith*

            This is quite common with gluten-free options, though. Often a vegan option will be gluten-free because it accommodates multiple groups of people, as well as groups that may overlap. So a meat-eater may need a gluten-free meal, but their option is going to be vegan.

            1. Fikly*

              Except that doesn’t accommodate the gluten-free people who cannot eat a vegan meal. The logic is flawed.

              1. pennyjenny*

                OKAY, but that’s an incredibly rare case. Someone who’s that finicky (for a valid health reason) is probably bringing their own lunch anyway.

        2. Amethystmoon*

          Well, I’m not vegetarian but I eat vegetarian meals sometimes for health reasons and budget reasons. So it’s not a necessity, but some people think it is because they were raised that way.

        3. Emily K*

          presumably the vegan and vegetarian options are full meals, not a side salad

          You would think that, but in a lot of places you would be sadly mistaken. I ate many a sad side salad with a teaspoon of goat cheese on top during my vegetarian years.

          I could also tell the story of a conference that I was at where they tried to cheap out and have one gluten-free vegan option for all the special diet eaters so they could serve cheap sandwiches to everyone else. The gluten-free vegan option was veggie spring rolls in rice paper. I think the most substantial food inside the roll was sliced cucumber. People rioted (in the white collar professional way, where you lodge a stern formal complaint). Nobody was really happy about their food but the allergen-free meal had people starving and angry.

          Day 2 (and Day 3) of the conference they had a hot buffet with plenty of options to suit all the diets, and having worked in event planning before, I’m pretty confident there’s no way they planned for Day 1 to be a basket of sandwiches and chips and Days 2-3 to be a hot buffet. I would bet a paycheck they ate the non-refundable deposit on Day 2’s basket of sandwiches and ordered the hot buffet last-minute because people were so pissed off they felt like they were going to burn more goodwill than the cost of upgrading the lunch offering if they made people eat vegan spring rolls again.

      2. Now in the Job (formerly Not Desperate for the Job)*

        You won’t believe how frequently people think this is an acceptable intention when they say “Oh of course we have vegetarian options.”

        And you still have to pay for the meat!

        1. Quill*

          This is one of the many reasons I’m not a full time vegetarian – I can make a lot of great food without meat involved at home but I’m not fond of slightly wilty restaurant salads.

      3. Kiwiii*

        Maybe I’m missing the mark here, but I don’t see it like that, because presumably the vegetarian food is still a full meal (and fits halal restrictions). My sister who is a pescatarian knows that most of the time her best option at work things will be a vegetarian option, that doesn’t mean they’re placing an artificial limitation on her diet.

        1. Foxy Hedgehog*

          The artificial limitation is this: everybody in the office who wants meat as part of their meal gets to eat meat…except the Muslim.

          1. Cat*

            Well, maybe. There could be any number of reasons the meat option wouldn’t work for someone and they default to the vegetarian option instead. Maybe this is just a disagreement about how fundamental meat is though.

            1. Foxy Hedgehog*

              It is absolutely not fundamental at all. But it should either be an option for everybody to accept or decline as their tastes and/or morals dictate, or the company could make it an option for nobody.

              The option should certainly not be available to some but not others depending on their religion.

              1. Cat*

                But the reality is it probably is available to some and not others on a day-to-day basis. Some people only eat chicken and/or fish; they’re out on beef day. Some people don’t follow strict kosher or halal but don’t eat pork; they’re out on pork day. Some people only eat organic meat or meat that is free range. I just don’t think it’s particularly doable in this day and age to account for all belief systems regarding meat without having a vegetarian option that people can default to.

                1. Dust Bunny*

                  If they’re using the same restaurant/caterer each time, then this person will get the short end of the stick every single time they do this, which sucks. And which has been considered inappropriate in many AAM posts already.

                  The LW did not offer to suggest that anyone else take themselves off the list or bring their own food, which would, by her apparent reasoning, have been just as fair.

                2. Avasarala*

                  This isn’t “all belief systems”, this is “one of our employees has asked for an accommodation for a very common belief system that is hundreds of years old.” They don’t need kosher and Jain options if nobody needs them…but someone has asked for halal. And to be told no because “it’s not doable in this day and age to account for all belief systems”…?

              2. JM60*

                “But it should either be an option for everybody to accept or decline as their tastes and/or morals dictate, or the company could make it an option for nobody.”

                I disagree. I think a good parallel here is ethical veganism. Just like there doesn’t need to be a vegan equivalent for every single thing on the menu, there doesn’t need to be a halal option for every single taste. While more Halal options would be ideal, I’m not sure if they necessarily should have to bend over backwards to offer more than one Halal option.

                1. Quill*

                  Honestly they’re not doing great by having precisely one vegan and one vegetarian option, presumably the same one every day, to begin with. I’ve seen restaurants with more variations on just hawaiian pizza or fried cheese appetizers

          2. pentamom*

            We actually don’t know that. There may be other omnivores there who would like to have meat as part of their meal, but do without it.

            In that case, it becomes “nobody gets to eat meat but everyone can eat something within their religious requirements.”

          3. Sparkly Lady*

            But it is not standard for workplaces to offer halal meat. Some very large places do, but when you have relatively special dietary needs, many workplaces can’t accommodate. I’m a kosher-keeping vegetarian with onion/garlic allergies, so I deal with this all the time.

            Now we’re missing some details, so maybe here the workplace can accommodate with a little thought. Certainly, I think they should consider it and see the possibilities. But if they’re ordering from a single location, it is very unlikely that they’re going to find a single location that has comparable quality to what they already have and also has a halal option. If they’re ordering from multiple locations, it’s probably much easier to accommodate (but that’s going to be regionally dependent). And maybe they can order from multiple locations (or provide her with a subsidy so she can order her own).

      4. Mel2*

        Thank you for acknowledging that vegetarian meals aren’t a catchall! I eat kosher-style (don’t insist on certified kosher and follow basic rules), so I often end up going towards vegetarian. However, many vegetarian prepared meals have lots of ingredients that I can’t eat (food sensitivity). All peppers (including bell peppers) and many popular spices hate my stomach. So I usually end up asking a lot of questions about every single food item at catered lunches, and then pick and mix based on what I can actually eat.

        1. Maeve*

          Vegetarians and vegans also have food sensitivities (I’m a vegan who is intolerant to onions, stone fruits, more than a half cup or so of beans and some other stuff) and non-vegetarian food can also contain foods that people might be sensitive to…

    6. SusanIvanova*

      The vegetarian options at my company cafeteria are either spicy or salad. Spicy is out. Salad is going to get boring.

      But it sounds like this place is using the same restaurant or caterer every day, and that’s going to get boring too. When my previous company was still a small startup, we had a Waiter-dot-com service that would let you pick from a small number of their client restaurants and they’d deliver it all at once.

      1. Sally*

        We use a service like that called Peach. Even out of the 6 or 8 options, there isn’t always something I can eat, but I can get once elsewhere on those days.

    7. Parenthetically*

      I think the missing element is that everyone else gets something that fits their dietary requirements AND is to their taste/preference, while the Muslim employee is being offered something that only technically fits her dietary requirements.

      A parallel scenario might be ordering lunch for omnivorous employees from a barbecue place, then offering the lone vegetarian at your company their white bread grilled cheese sandwich as the vegetarian option, and feeling slightly miffed that you’re being pressed to accommodate her desire to eat vegetables! After all, the available lunch is fully vegetarian!

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        everyone else gets something that fits their dietary requirements AND is to their taste/preference

        I don’t think that’s actually stated in the letter.

        1. Cat*

          Right, mass catering means probably it’s nobody’s taste/preference but is fuel to keep going for the day.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Exactly. It’s a reasonably tasty option you don’t need to think about. Apparently the cost/tastiness is such that people have opted for this over brownbagging it.

          2. hbc*

            Seriously. I know plenty of vegetarians who dislike peppers, mushrooms and/or tofu, and trust me, they’re not getting their preference a good chunk of the time.

            Why why why do people know to get one topping meat pizzas but then go “Oh, vegetarian, you must want ALLLLL the vegetables on your pie”?

            1. Maeve*

              I’m not opposed to getting this employee a lunch with halal meat, but the idea that vegetarians and vegans are always having their preferences accommodated by catering is hilarious.

              1. Maeve*

                I have a fellow vegan friend who once got a place of undressed lettuce, a baked potato and a pile of raisins as the “vegan option” at an event.

            2. BottleBlonde*

              OMG – I know! What is wrong with plain cheese? I was at an event recently where the pizza options were pepperoni, sausage, or literally covered in veggies. If you didn’t like squash, mushrooms, peppers, olives – too bad!

              1. Door Guy*

                The problem with plain cheese is that everyone rags on it as the “boring” or “who eats just cheese” option, and then everyone proceeds to grab a slice anyways. As someone who doesn’t eat a wide variety of toppings, I always silently scream when I watch someone who has a plate full of every option on the table throw a slice of the plain cheese right on top.

              2. CanuckCat*

                I got stuck with last minute catering duties this summer and on one of the days ordered pizzas but made sure I got one with cheese because I love a plain cheese pizza and no one ever orders it. Guess which was the most popular pizza at the meeting?

            3. Emily K*

              I always have the related complaint, as a meat eater who likes vegetables and considers 1) vegetables and 2) protein as the two mandatory components of anything calling itself a full meal, I’m constantly frustrated by how often in restaurants I’m forced to order a separate vegetable dish because any entree with meat in it treats vegetables like garnishes – a single piece of lettuce and a single slice of tomato on a 1/2 lb burger; 2 broccoli florets and 1 baby carrot next to a 12 oz steak; 3 slices of onion and 5 slices of green pepper in a chicken coconut curry with at least 1/2 a lb of chicken in it – and often the vegetarian option doesn’t even have beans or lentils or tofu for protein, or has cheese but in a garnish-sized serving with negligible protein content.

              At home I follow the rough plate guidance: 50% of plate vegetables, 25% of plate protein, 25% of plate starch. Restaurant meals always seem to be either 60% meat/35% starch/5% vegetable, or 50% vegetable/50% starch.

            4. pennyjenny*

              Yep, and when they get cheese, all of a sudden all the meat eaters decide THEY want cheese and the vegetarians get less pizza than everyone else! It’s funny how many employers don’t realize that cheese is a pretty safe option for everyone.

            1. Parenthetically*

              I also read it as the veg/vegan/GF are the alternatives (to meat-containing and gluten-containing options) currently offered, NOT that veg/vegan/GF are the ONLY current options. I’d be interested to have that clarified by the OP, because it seems some of us are reading it as 3 options (veg/vegan/GF) and some are reading it as way more.

              1. annony*

                That does make a difference. If the meat eaters have a variety to choose from, then it does seem really unfair to not try to expand the other options as well. If it is more like when you are on an airplane and you get asked “chicken or pasta” but they have an alternate meal for dietary restrictions it seems less unfair.

          1. Spencer Hastings*

            But, in general, when you’re eating catered food that’s provided by someone else, it’s often the case that it’s not something you’d have picked for yourself.

          2. BottleBlonde*

            Well meat-eaters are not a homogeneous group though. Someone might eat some meat but refrain from beef, or dislike seafood, or choose not to eat pork, etc. I don’t think we can assume that every meat eater has a meat option they can eat every day.

          3. Jess*

            I didn’t read it that way at all! I read it as the ONLY options are vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free.

            “The options are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free.”

            So – meat-eaters of no particular preference are ALSO eating vegetarian or vegan food.

        2. Mediamaven*

          I wager to guess no one gets something that meets their taste/preference. It’s catered food.

      2. Mel2*

        Thank you! I replied to another comment above, but I keep kosher-style and many, many popular ingredients in vegetarian fare I can’t eat, thanks to food sensitivities (all peppers and many spices). It doesn’t matter whether or not I like how they taste, but it’s a calculated risk that’s typically not worth the stomach pain, especially in the workplace.

      3. JM60*

        “everyone else gets something that fits their dietary requirements AND is to their taste/preference”

        That would be ideal, but I don’t thinks it’s reasonable to expect the employer to provide a halal, koshier, vegan, etc. equivalent for every single taste.

      4. House Tyrell*

        My office almost always orders BBQ for staff lunches and myself and one other woman are vegetarians and we don’t even get grilled cheese! We can eat a scoop of potato salad and a piece of bread. -_- They don’t even order side salads!

        1. Parenthetically*

          Ugh, that’s the worst! BBQ places are so mixed with stuff like that. We have one locally that keeps all their sides vegetarian with several vegan options, but at so many places you can’t even get the potato salad.

          1. House Tyrell*

            Sides were always my favorite part even before I became a vegetarian so I’d totally be ok with a baked potato, mac and cheese, and a salad! It’s just when it’s maybe 1 thing that we only get a small portion of or nothing but a bread slice that I’m annoyed. And at least I can say that I brought this on myself by choosing to be vegetarian. The other two dietary restrictions are a guy with Celiac and another woman who is vegetarian for religious reasons. They still don’t get accommodations.

          2. pennyjenny*

            Haha my sister did a barbecue buffet at her wedding, and she was like, “vegetarians can eat sides,” not realizing the place she picked put BACON in ALL of the sides. (So unnecessary, given that they also had a big-ole meat-carving table.)

      5. ...*

        Where is it stated that everybody is getting something suited to their preference? There’s just no way that’s possible to know

    8. Aquawoman*

      But they ARE accommodating people’s desires to eat meat, and accommodating everyone’s desire to eat meat except for the Muslim employee is not inclusive. They could find a halal source for the meat lunches (won’t hurt the other meat-eaters). Also, you don’t know that it’s a preference versus that she’s been trying to eat the vegetarian meals and finding herself sluggish in the afternoon or starving by 2 pm. (I can’t function at work on a vegetarian meal).

      1. ...*

        Someone actually could have a religious objection to the meat being slaughtered halal style and having prayer involved in the killing of it.

            1. daphne_d*

              Yes, this. Due to ethical concerns I won’t (knowingly) eat halal meat, and would be extremely upset if a caterer or place of business switched to only halal meat without telling me. That said I am otherwise an omnivore so would always find something I could eat!

          1. Magenta*

            Sikhs don’t eat any ritually slaughtered meat and lots of other people have ethical objections, Halal slaughter doesn’t always meat the welfare standards set for general meat, Kosher is worse as it explicitly bans pre-stunning.

    9. Wendy*

      Just because the vegetarian/vegan option meets halal requirements doesn’t mean it’s on par with the other options. Think of this way (and yes, I know this is medical, but go with it…) My company says they will supply beverages for all the employees, but they only buy regular Coke or water. As a diabetic, I can only drink the water while all my coworkers get nice fizzy coke. Technically, yes, they are supplying beverages for their staff, but some days I would really love to have a free diet coke!

      Would you want to be stuck drinking water everyday while everyone else gets coke?

      1. WellRed*

        Great analogy!
        This person with diabetes would absolutely escalate this. I don’t like water (yes, I drink it) and do drink diet coke. There is NO reason they can’t get you Diet Coke, Wendy.
        Just like there was no reason Uber couldn’t get women’s leather jackets rather than making the women get men’s sizes (to jump of an earlier letter about exclusion this week).

      2. Teyra*

        But they still have a vegetarian or vegan option. Sometimes there’s food you don’t like. That sucks. But I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect specific halal meat meals when there are vegetarian ones you could eat instead.

        … To be honest I think there’s not enough information in the question. Are the vegetarian ones not halal? Is there a separate issue with them, as you’re suggesting? I see three options. If the vegetarian meals aren’t halal then a halal option should be provided. If the vegetarian meals are halal but are just kind of bad options, that’s irrelevant to the question but the meals should be on par with the meat options. If the vegetarian options are halal and on par, then barring some issue I can’t think of, I don’t think accommodation is required. If I was OP I’d talk to the Muslim person in question and try and understand where they’re coming from more, instead of give an immediate yes or no.

        People are treating this as if you can just switch all meals to halal. Not true. I’m not against eating halal on occasion – I do it at restaurants with my Muslim friends so we can try eat others meals – but I would be pretty annoyed if they stopped doing pork at work because they had to make the meat option halal, when there were other halal options already avaliable.

        1. ErinFromAccounting*

          So you’re upset at the thought of not being able to eat pork, and you can’t relate with the employee who is not able to eat any of the meat options available? Hmmm

          1. KRM*

            No, he said that he’d be annoyed if pork was taken off the menu “when there were other halal options already available”. As in, don’t take something off the menu to ‘accomodate’ someone when there ARE other options.

            1. ErinFromAccounting*

              There can be halal options alongside non-halal options. I’m saying it’s hypocritical to dislike having restricted options and not understand that the employee in the question is also unhappy about having restricted options.

              1. Teyra*

                That’s a fair enough point – although I’d like to point out that there’s a difference between someone restricting their own food options and someone restricting *everyone’s* food options. When one of my friends says they don’t want to eat vegetarian and asks if we can go to a halal place instead, that’s what we do. But we’re taking about work accommodations here, not a social gathering. It’s absolutely important that everyone has their dietary needs met. I just don’t see how that’s not already happening. Wanting a special option when you’re already able to eat options that are available doesn’t make sense to me. It’s like if I demanded fish options because I was pescatarian, even though there were veggie ones available to me.

                Now, as I said before, if the employee had a good reason then I think she should get a special halal meal. I just think it makes more sense to a) not make everyone else’s meals halal (which I think we’re in agreement about) and b) not automatically agree and instead discuss it with the employee.

                1. ErinFromAccounting*

                  I think only having vegetarian options for every workday lunch when you are not vegetarian and don’t want to be vegetarian is something worth being disgruntled about. I know I would be upset.

                  Also, I don’t know why you’re assuming that the default for adding halal meat is taking away non-halal meat. The most obvious option is to add on, not to replace.

                2. FairPayFullBenefits*

                  Yes, the pescetarian thing is a great analogy. Or if someone demanded eggs/dairy because they’re vegetarian, even though they could eat the vegan option. (Obviously not at this workplace, but providing just a vegan meal instead of separate vegan and a vegetarian ones is very common.)

        2. Close Bracket*

          But there are other meat options available, so what’s the problem? Or you could eat vegetarian. It’s not as though you don’t have options.


        3. SQL Coder Cat*

          I think people are also missing the fact that this is for EVERY SINGLE DAY. I can compromise on my meals for one off situations, but every day? That’s gotta get old fast.

          1. Quill*

            It also sounds like the vegetarian or vegan meal options are the same thing every day too, while there are multiple meat options or they rotate out…

        4. Sama*

          You . . . .would be upset if they stopped serving pork to accommodate two large religious categories (Jewish and Muslim) but you don’t at all see how completely contradictory that is with someone not wanting to be forced to become a vegetarian at work.

          Thank you for so vividly illustrating the presumptions and assumptions at play with this.

            1. KRM*

              It’s not. I read it as “pork is an option. There are also other halal meals available. Therefore, there is NO REASON not to serve pork, because there are already other options to accommodate others. Therefore, I can be annoyed if they take that off the menu when there are other options for those who do not eat pork”

              1. DJ*

                But I don’t see people suggesting that all meals should be halal, just that the halal option shouldn’t ONLY be vegetarian/vegan, especially since these meals are occuring every day and not just once in a while. The meat-eater who eats halal will not want to be forced to avoid meat every day any more than Teyra would want to be forced to avoid pork every day (apparently).

                1. Teyra*

                  The pork was an example, I just meant that making all meat options halal restricts the meat options avaliable. It isn’t as simple as just switching butchers.

                  I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with finding a way to get a specific halal option. I do think it’s unnecessary because there are already halal options there.

                  Can I also point out that my original comemt involved talking to the employee and getting a better understanding of their perspective and why they feel they need a specific halal option? I do not agree with making all the options halal, for the reasons already mentioned and because, frankly, I’m against forcing people to adhere to the restrictions a religion they don’t follow imposes. If the employee had a good reason for wanting the halal meal then I think she should have it, I just don’t think it should be automatic because there are already options for her to eat. There is a difference between being unable to eat any of the food options available, and being able to do so but still wanting a special meal.

                2. Avasarala*

                  why they feel they need a specific halal option?
                  …Because they’re Muslim? That is usually the reason one eats Islam-compliant food? And the vegetarian option isn’t cutting it, according to the employee?

                  I do not agree with making all the options halal
                  Was this ever suggested anywhere in the letter? The letter says “But is it too much to make a special arrangement for one employee?” suggesting that the default would not change to halal, but instead the employee would get their own option.

                  And honestly if it’s so bad to force everyone to eat halal, then it’s bad for one employee to not be able to. This isn’t that complicated…

          1. Teyra*

            Honestly, no I don’t. And I’d appreciate it if you save the snark and explain your point more clearly. I’m perfectly willing to concede if I’m wrong but I genuinely do not see the problem. I’d also like to clarify that I’m not actually a huge pork fan, I was just pointing out that it’s not as simple as ‘buy the meat from a halal butcher and eat the exact same meals!’ The pork was meant as an easy example; I would be annoyed if the meals were changed and everyone’s options restricted just so one person could have one more option of food.

            Unless I read OP wrong, there are four meal options. Meat, veggie, vegan and gf. Assuming the latter is for specific people only, someone eating halal can eat two of the three options. That’s not bad. The gluten free person only had one option, as does the vegan. Why aren’t we arguing that they should all be gluten free so the person with the medical restriction gets more choices instead of just one? That’s not rhetorical, I’m curious if you do think they should be, or if you see that differently.

            Everyone should be accommodated, I completely agree with that. Assuming the vegan and veggie options are halal, everyone is being accommodated.

        5. pennyjenny*

          Yeah, so many times my work’s vegetarian option is some skimpy lil sandwich filled with non-seasoned, super bland veggies. I’d rather have something substantial like tofu. I’m used to it.

      3. ...*

        Honestly yes that would be fine with me! They’re offering an option. that doesn’t work for me. I pass on said option.

    10. some dude*

      I’m reading this as they offer, a vegan option, a vegetarian option, a gluten-free option, and an option that is none of those things. They should find a halal option, especially since an employee requested it. It sends a pretty clear message that the organization is willing to accommodate someone being gluten free but balks at accommodating someone’s religious dietary restrictions.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        I agree. The company made sure to find a food vendor that had a basic (meat?) option, gluten free, vegan AND vegetarian offer.

        They could have just gone with a vendor that only offered vegan option(s), in that situation vegetarians would still have been able to eat it, meat eaters would have been able to eat it, gluten free people would most likely have been able to eat it. But the company purposely choose to pick a vendor that had options that people on different “diets” could potentially actually enjoy. So why not find a vendor that offers a halal option?

      2. juliebulie*

        That is how I’m seeing this, too. The attitude that “the vegetarian meal covers it” is very dismissive. OP stated a desire to be inclusive, and the way to do that is to not be dismissive!

        1. Meredith*

          I think the issue is that people who are vegetarian (I used to be) or vegan don’t find it limiting or restrictive or sad or lesser or anything else people are implying the employee is feeling.

          1. juliebulie*

            For people who are vegetarian or vegan, of course they don’t find vegetarian or vegan to be limiting or restrictive or sad. But the new employee is neither vegetarian nor vegan.

          2. Amethystmoon*

            It depends on the restaurant. I’ve gone vegetarian in the past for losing weight reasons and some restaurants do have poor vegetarian fare. If the only thing that’s technically vegetarian is the lettuce/carrot salad with oil & vinegar dressing, or possibly the bowl of tomato soup, I would feel kind of deprived while everyone else in the group ate their burgers/steak/pork chops/etc. So I do feel for the OP.

          3. CmdrShepard4ever*

            Implying that the employee is feeling sad or lesser might not be true. But we know that the employee does feel a certain way about not having a halal option based on them asking for it. How often do we get letters on AAM about people not being sure if they should ask for something that they want/need because they don’t want to be ostracized or don’t think the company will agree. In this case the employee has already stood up for themselves in asking for halal meals because the current offerings are not good enough, the company should accommodate them.

            I eat meat and when I cook, my meals almost always have a meat portion. I don’t really consider it a meal if there is no meat. I have vegan/vegetarian friends and when they have me over for dinner or I have them over we have meatless meals. But especially if I am paying for something that is supposed to be a subsided perk I would not be happy if the company said we are only offering vegan and vegetarian options but no meat. For me no meat meals on a regular basis would be limiting/restrictive.

            I think it would be the same as if the company only offered meat options, people that are vegan or vegetarian would find it limiting/restrictive, even if the meat eaters did not.

            Diets/food choices are inherently personal. I don’t like mushrooms and think they are one of the worst foods ever harvested, but that is my opinion it doesn’t make it an objective fact. I know tons of people like mushrooms. My partner loves mushrooms, and I like foods my partner does not like.

      3. Sama*

        “the organization is willing to accommodate someone being gluten free but balks at accommodating someone’s religious dietary restrictions.”

        THIS. THIS IS THE ISSUE. This is ESPECIALLY the case if the gluten free option is not SPECIFICALLY AND EXPLICITLY in response to an employee with a medical issue*.

        It is the MESSAGING THAT SAYS one set of diet choices are relevant/important enough to make an effort, and one set aren’t. And unless the employer is statistically unusual in the extreme*, the majority of the gluten-free people will be making a voluntary choice – one that is at least as voluntary as a religious restriction.

        Moreover apparently the difference between vegetarian and vegan is important enough to offer vegetarians more than one choice – after all, anything that is vegan is by definition vegetarian, so it could just be the one choice for both, by the same logic that says “well the vegetarian meal will be halal”.

        (*both footnotes coming to: it is indeed possible that this workplace is highly unusual in having a significant chunk of medically gluten intolerant employees in equal number to vegetarian, vegan, etc, so as to make its inclusion quite literally different from the other options as a widely used medically necessary accessibility issue! But given their desire to find a reason not to find a halal meal, I feel like LW would have mentioned that.)

        1. Engineer Girl*

          This. They are dismissing someone’s needs because of religion while at the same time making accommodation for others.
          And HR no less.

        2. Avasarala*

          This exactly. If they’re willing to accommodate both vegans and vegetarians but not Muslims… that’s not very inclusive.

        3. Ann O.*

          That doesn’t seem like a reasonable interpretation to me. They didn’t have a halal-keeping employee at the time they selected the vendor. It sounds like it was a challenge to find a vendor that worked well for them, and they are reluctant to change.

          We don’t expect them to find a vendor who can accommodate literally any potential need that would come up (which is good because it’s almost certainly impossible.) So to me the framing isn’t about valuing one need over the other, but about now that an option has been established, what is significant enough of a need to justify a change.

          Also, I think halal can be a lot more challenging to add into the mix than vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free.

          Personally, I think completely changing vendors would be ridiculous but that they should add some kind of alternative for employees whose dietary needs aren’t met by the specific vendor. If the company is growing, this particular employee may be the first, but she’s unlikely to be the last.

    11. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is up there with “we do offer a vegetarian option” places that offer a garden salad and a garden salad “wrap”. For years vegetarians are expected to survive on iceberg lettuce and ranch dressing.

      It’s basically like tossing someone a cheese pizza instead of buying one with veggies on it so they have an actual satisfying lunch.

      When you offer perks, you have to think about the things like this. I’d rather see lunch not being offered than to leave people out of it and create that divide.

      Also since this is religious based, you’re opening up a big old can of “discrimination” on top of it. So I’d just tread lightly and take care of someone who asked for it.

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        If this was Kosher instead of Halal, the screaming here would be deafening.

        Vegetarian doesn’t mean Kosher. My Orthodox friends will never eat things like broccoli/cauliflower/spinach/kale/strawberry at your run of the mill restaurant. They wash those in a very certain way to check for insects. They are also very particular about where the dairy products are sourced and how they are made.

        I don’t know Halal laws. It could be not just how meat is slaughtered, if there presence of shell fish, alcohol in food or around the cooked food whatever.

        I get this is huge PITA, but I can’t believe there isn’t restaurants that follows those Halal laws around OP’s work site. Ask that worker what they suggest. Who has delivery. This could be solved by three questions and a phone call.

        Because this religious based, you will get dragged long and hard. Why this request is the one who snaps your straw is beyond me.

        I live in a very large Muslim community in the US. I’m not Muslim. Every once in a while someone/business has a huge melt down that vegan/vegetarian should be just fawking fine for those who eat Kosher/Halal. And they are tired of Snowflakes. Then it gets in the paper and they get DRAGGED HARD.

        So you pay a couple bucks more for a meal, but on the plus side you look like a hero, not a closed minded jackalope.

        I can not believe this is the hill OP is willing to die on.

        1. Ann O.*

          I have never had a workplace that offered subsidized food provide a kosher meal or a subsidy for it. So maybe there would be screaming in this particular comment section, but it is absolutely not the norm for workplaces to accommodate kashrut needs for this type of situation.

        2. FairPayFullBenefits*

          But vegan/vegetarian options aren’t necessarily kosher, but (with some rare exceptions) they *are* halal. That’s the difference.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I am with you here, TMBL. All or nothing. This is a company employee who works hard on behalf of the company and it’s too much extra work to get her something that is useful/meaningful to her? really?

        I am wondering if the real problem is doing this every day, as in this practice of getting food in each and every day is getting to be too much.

        I think the answer here is very simple, just ask her where she wants to order from. I have been seeing all kinds of prepared meals in grocery stores. Perhaps her answer is as easy as a nearby grocery store. I do know that people never cease to amaze me with how quickly they can point to a workable answer. Why not include the employee in the discussion to find solutions.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Or stop providing meals every day. Or rotate food provider so that at least who gets left out isn’t always the same person.

    12. ElizabethJane*

      I mean, technically yes. But that would be like going to a restaurant called “BURGERS ONLY” and saying that a vegetarian can just eat lettuce and tomato because it doesn’t contain meat. It’s not that hard to at least ask about halal offerings. It’s not like the LW said “We work in a small town with a population of 400 people. There are no halal offerings and I’m not sure what to do”. The LW seems to be hesitant to even research the option.

    13. Annastasia von Beaverhausen*

      It’s really, really easy to order from a restaurant with halal options. Like, shamefully easy.

      There is no excuse to not accommodate this employee.

      1. Cat*

        I don’t know, I ordered catering for a while, and I never found it that easy. Like, yes, it’s easy to order one meal for a large group with halal options. But it’s not that easy to set up daily meal delivery with halal and gluten free and vegan and vegetarian options, including halal, that isn’t going to bust the bank and also lead to complaints about the monotony. (For one off lunches, it’s an entirely different situation – if you’re ordering pizza, absolutely order from the place with the halal pepperoni, but nobody wants pizza every day). Realistically, what you’re looking at in most cities is probably ordering a special meal each day for this employee, which is more expensive and also a pain in the ass. So I get it given that the vegetarian and vegan meals are also halal (I do think the LW should make sure there’s no alcohol in the sauces.)

        1. Annastasia von Beaverhausen*

          I’m an event planner – it’s very doable. There is some initial work finding the restaurant, and then after that you just order the same thing which is what it sounds like the OP did initially. So now they need to do it again, but really, it’s not that much work.

          As to availability, I just arbitrarily looked up Pella, Iowa – a town of ~ 11,000 people and two halal restaurants were available so the notion that even a medium sized city wouldn’t have a reasonable option is spurious at best.

          1. Chatterby*

            You’d have to go at least 40 miles from my work location to find a certified Halal restaurant or grocery, so yes, availability could be an issue, as well as cost/timing.

          2. Cat*

            I never said there wouldn’t be a halal option somewhere in the city. I said finding a (meat) halal option that doesn’t require drering a special meal every day instead of just placing one catering order is quite likely going to be hard. And I think that for a daily meal delivery thing, that’s kind of asking too much. For one-offs, sure.

            1. AndersonDarling*

              Yeah, you may be able to get a meal from the caterer, but that may be the only meal they can prepare. Or they may be able to get 2 meals…which will get boring very fast for the requester. I can see how the OP is really struggling because they will need to change caterers after investing so much time and money so that an individual can have the same level of variety as the other employees. If it was as easy as calling the caterer and making it so, I’m sure the OP would have done it.
              If nothing else, the OP could start investigating options for when their current catering contract ends and keep the requester informed.

      2. emmelemm*

        That does depend on how large of a town/city the office is in and how large a Muslim population it has, whether there are any restaurant/prepared food options that serve halal meat. It may or may not be “easy”. Which is not to say it is not doable.

        1. TheCommenterFormerlyKnownAsRUKiddingMe*

          I try to stay relatively anon about my businesses but one of them is this. We do daily office food deliveries.

          We offer fully halal, kosher, vegetarian, and vegan foods.

          Orders are received the night before and prepared fresh every morning in a commercial kitchen that has separate areas for each type of food being made so that the streams don’t cross.

          Are prices are in line with all others in the area and our food is superior. Totally doable.

      3. BottleBlonde*

        I wish this were true in my town, sadly our only options that explicitly state they are halal are a couple of local Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurants and one fast food chain. Not to say that they should not accommodate they employee (If it were me I’d probably just special order a halal meal for her every day and chalk up any extra expense to inclusivity) but it’s not necessarily easy in areas with a smaller Muslim population.

      4. Stone Cold Bitch*

        I live in a city with a large muslim population and worked with muslims at ex-job. Finding halal options at places that could do invoices etc wasn’t easy.

        Most of the muslims I worked with pre-ordered/ate the vegetarian option or brought their own food.

      5. HR Stoolie*

        If the OP is in a major metro area, of course!
        I’m in Seattle and could accommodate he request, but if OP is in Walla Walla, WA, not so much.
        There are logistics to this too, locations and delivery options being two.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I was curious and asked Uncle Google. Turns out Walla Walla has an “American restaurant ” that specifically mentions halal chicken.
          I know OP may be in an even more rural area.. but if one family is there, there may be many, and that means business opportunity to me.

      6. Blunt Bunny*

        It is very easy in the UK I think all lamb is halal. Most stores and restaurants have halal chicken as standard.

        1. Magenta*

          Some lamb is halal, some restaurants serve halal, it is certainly not standard and a lot of people make a point of avoiding ritually slaughtered meat because it does not meet welfare standards that are set for non religious animal slaughter.

    14. Bilateralrope*

      How important is it that you include ham/bacon/pork in the lunch ?

      Because if you cut pig meat out of the meal, you can make the meat option halal. So you’ll still only have three options on the menu.

      You dont even need to tell the other employees it’s halal unless they ask.

      1. Wintermute*

        Halal slaughtering is a special method– one a lot of people object to because they feel it’s inhumane which opens up ANOTHER can of worms if you really want to offer an explicitly meat-containing Halal option.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Right – indeed the restaurant might say “no halal option” because they mean “we are morally opposed to halal butchery”.

          But I can foresee the company throwing its hands up in the air and stopping providing lunch if it becomes too onerous to provide appropriately for everyone.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        That’s not accurate—halal is similar to kosher in that it’s not just exclusion of certain foods, it’s also about processing and slaughter.

    15. Wintermute*

      Exactly! they offer TWO Halal options, just not a Halal meat option. That is getting into “too picky to be reasonably accommodated” to me– for instance, it’s very common for people that keep Kosher to avoid any possible “accidents” by eating vegan when eating out, because if there’s no meat and there’s no milk, there’s no chance of someone accidentally rendering the meal unfit for consumption by careless handling, and in all cases I’m aware of, what is Kosher is Halal (though not vice versa).

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        Yes but in that situation the individual of choosing to eat vegan to satisfy their kosher requirement, here the company if forcing the employee to eat vegan/vegetarian if they want to keep halal. If the company is willing to get rid of any meat options so that only food options are vegan, vegetarian, meatless gluten free then I would agree the vegan/vegetarian is a reasonable halal option. But the company is offering meat to some people then they should offer kosher, and or halal meat options for others.

        1. Cat*

          Well, no, they’re not forcing the employee to do anything. They’re providing a free meal that doesn’t have meat.

            1. Triple Threat Diversity Hire*

              I’m not sure how this point isn’t being brought up more. The employee who would like a Halal meal is currently paying for something that doesn’t suit her preferences, and right now it sounds like she’s the only person who’s running into this… AND it’s over a religious accommodation. OP needs to find a way to make this happen even if it isn’t the easiest or cheapest for the company. Denying a fitting option to just one group is the opposite of inclusion and sends a similar message as the company in the previous letter about unequal gendered bathroom access (“But they have something they can theoretically make do with! I don’t know why they want to be accommodated to the same extent as everyone else!”).

              1. Dahlia*

                Like maybe she’s asking because if it’s not an option, she’d like to stop doing it and start bringing or buying food instead! If you’re paying for a meal every single day, wouldn’t you want it to be something you, I dunno, kinda liked?

                My mind is boggled.

            2. Clisby*

              The OP says this is offered to employees – not that they have to use it. Personally, I can’t imagine wanting to eat catered food every day (or even to eat at my workplace every day).

              1. JessaB*

                Except they also point out they have 100% participation except for one employee. I would not want to be the one employee if there were guests in the office wondering why I didn’t eat with the rest of the staff.

        2. JM60*

          “But the company is offering meat to some people then they should offer kosher, and or halal meat options for others.”

          It would be ideal to offer both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, but at a certain point, I don’t think the company has to provide an alternative for every ethical dietary restriction (halah, kosher, ethical veganism, etc.) for every taste.

          1. CmdrShepard4ever*

            Correct they don’t have to offer all meals. If the company said we will provide only vegan meals that would be okay, since they would be giving all meat eaters the same option. But in this instance it seems that they are providing meat options but just no kosher or halal meat options. The company could find a halal meat option and offer it to all meat eaters.

            1. JM60*

              “Correct they don’t have to offer all meals.”

              Of course they don’t have to offer all meals, but I’m going further than that. I’m saying that if they don’t necessarily have to offer an equivalent for every single item that appears in one of their meals. Just because one of their meals has sour cream in it doesn’t automatically mean they must offer a meal with a vegan equivalent to sour cream. It would be unreasonable to have to do that for every single food item that you order, for every single ethical objection, every day.

              When it comes to meat, if they were offering a large selection of meat options, then I would agree that they should offer at least one each that’s halal and kosher. On the other hand, if they only have one meat item that day, then I getting halal and kosher meats may not a reasonable accommodation (depending on the circumstances).

              “The company could find a halal meat option and offer it to all meat eaters.”

              Just because you can obtain halal meat somewhere doesn’t automatically mean that it’s a reasonable accommodation to offer at every meal you offer meat. Maybe it’s only available at a few restaurants in town. Maybe some of them don’t cater. Maybe some of them are far away. Maybe those few restaurants are more expensive, and the extra couple hundred dollars to buy for an entire office from there is not a reasonable accommodation for 2-3 employees. Maybe they’re too far away. Or maybe it would be easy and reasonable to provide halal and kosher meats at every single meal you serve may at.

            2. Sleve McDichael*

              Sorry CmdrShepard4ever but you can’t just ‘find a halal meat option and offer it to all meat eaters’, because there are plenty of meat eaters who won’t eat halal slaughtered meat because it consider it inhumane. So now you have the same problem in reverse.

    16. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      As the person who’s been in charge of lunch orders, I have to agree with JJ. There aren’t that many kosher or halal food vendors in any given city: when you factor in that meal purchasing might be restricted to a vendor list for one reason or another (ex: they must take POs, a catering subcontractor handles the details), and subjected to delivery price minimums/credit card or preorder price minimums/delivery zones/has to be close enough to the office for two admins to pick up on foot, ordering a single kosher or halal meal every day could be physically impossible, even in a big city.

      They obviously should do the research before saying no, because it may very well be possible! But in my experience, the logistics of ordering kosher/halal meals are very difficult.

    17. Close Bracket*

      Since they are accommodating all the other meat eaters with meat options, they need to accommodate the person with the halal needs’ preference for meat, as well.

    18. ClashRunner*

      I’m assuming that the vegetarian options in this case are halal, since the coworker is able to eat them. I think it’s worth pointing out, though, that vegetarian can sometimes still be haram, depending on ingredients and preparation. Seems like it’s not complicated for OP to play it safe and find a service that offers halal options.

    19. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s about the messages you send by how inclusive you are. If you can do something simple to make an employee feel cared for and respected and it doesn’t cause much hardship, why wouldn’t you do that?

      1. Dana B.S.*

        Yes, I think the LW should try to do some research to figure out what it would require to offer this to the employee. Present it to the employee and find out what she thinks. If there is nothing reasonable available, sit down with the employee to find an alternative together. It may end up that there isn’t anything, but the employee will feel appreciated that LW tried.

      2. Annastasia von Beaverhausen*

        Frankly, even if it’s somewhat difficult or challenging to make your employees feel valued, respected and cared for, I think you should do it. Admittedly, I’ve been known to drive to 3 different locations picking up items to ensure that every participant in my event had something lovely and delicious to enjoy. Now, I’m probably kind of extra about this, but the amount of pushback people are giving is really disheartening.

      3. Quill*

        Like many access and inclusivity problems, it’s worth looking into the feasiblity of at the very least.

      4. Ann O.*

        That’s the question, though. Is it simple? Does it cause too much hardship?

        I don’t think the OP gave enough details in the letter for us to really know the answer.

      5. Someone On-Line*

        I feel like this company wants to be seen as diverse and inclusive, but isn’t willing to put in any extra work to actually be diverse and inclusive.

        I guess my solution would be to make the main meat-meal halal a couple of times per week. Those who feel halal meat is unethical can choose the vegetarian and vegan options. Everyone gets something they want a few times per week. Everyone has to make compromises a few times per week.

    20. Holly*

      I think this is missing the point. Say there was an employee who kept strict kosher – you can’t substitute with vegan or vegetarian meals, it has to be a place that was specifically designated kosher by the rabbinic associations the person trusts (I’m oversimplifying here, but that’s the gist). The employer should accomodate this person too, and get a kosher meal that is sealed and from a designated kosher establishment per the employee’s religious beliefs. That would be the acceptable response, as would getting a specifically designated halal establishment to supply this employee’s lunch.

      1. Cat*

        Sure, but that would also be different because e employee couldn’t eat the vegetarian or vegan meal. And it would also be a pain to do, albeit one the employee should undertake.

    21. Engineer Girl*

      I think the real issue is addressing religious accommodation the same as people’s diet preferences. It has equal, if not higher standing because it is protected.
      The fact that someone from HR thinks that it is OK to dismiss is extremely concerning.

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        They’re not dismissing it — assuming that the vegetarian option doesn’t contain alcohol (which is…an extremely safe assumption), there is food available that satisfies her requirements. The issue is that this person seems to be one of those obnoxious carnivores who’s like “A meal with no meat? INCONCEIVABLE!”, and it’s just that she has additional constraints on what meat she can eat.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          First, you can’t assume for religious practices. Assuming the vegetarian option is OK is wrong. You need to verify it is OK.
          Second, you can’t tell someone how to practice their religion. You need to actually work with them for the accommodation (you can’t dictate – you work together on it).
          Third, other meat eaters get accommodation (gluten free).
          Fourth, halel is more than the “right” kind of meat.

          And saying the halel eater is an obnoxious carnivore is pure fabrication.

          My point is that it is actually a part of HRs job duties to seek accommodation. Instead, they are trying to get out of doing their assigned work.

          1. Triple Threat Diversity Hire*

            Exactly! We *don’t know* that the vegan/vegetarian option actually is ok, or is always ok, or that the employee can eat all parts of it. Aside from it being rude, nobody really gets to target “obnoxious carnivore” at someone who wants a religious accommodation when you’re talking about a place where there are other meat options every single day.

        2. BenAdminGeek*

          I’m one of those “obnoxious carnivores” who likes to eat meat. I eat many meals without meat during the week, but I would be severely frustrated if the caterer my work used for lunch every day never had any meat options. It’s the difference between “I can eat just hummus and crackers this meal, sounds lovely” and “I can only eat hummus and crackers every meal while I work here”.

    22. Mine Own Telemachus*

      I am AMAZED at the responses to this!

      I think a lot of y’all don’t understand what halal means. Yes, vegan/veg is *technically* halal, but it’s not guaranteed, and honestly, as a non-vegan/non-vegetarian, having ONLY vegan options available to me for lunch would get old QUICK.

      Kosher diet might be more understandable for y’all: even if something is certified vegan, there’s a good chance it’s also kosher. But that’s not a guarantee, because *preparation areas* and factory conditions matter for kosher foods. If vegan, veg, and meat options are all coming from the same kitchen and being made on the same surfaces, it’s probably not kosher because the kitchen is not certified in line with kashrut.

      Halal is slightly less strict than kosher and very often, if you find a kosher option, it will also be suitable as halal.

      This is a religious accommodation – if they are not able to extend the benefit to their Muslim employees in a way that does not diminish their ability to engage with the benefit, then they should.

      1. BenAdminGeek*

        Exactly. This seems a lot like “we like this one caterer and don’t want to switch, can’t my Muslim employee just gnaw on some lettuce every day?”

    23. nora*

      I’m not going to go into details but I have a medical condition that excludes a LOT of standard vegetarian/vegan restaurant meals. If I also kept kosher or was halal, I couldn’t just go veg for one catered meal.

    24. Hiya*

      I agree that would be like the gluten free person not liking the gluten free options or the omnivores not liking anything offered. At what point does the catering to individual tastes go to far? There is a food option available they just don’t like it.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        It isn’t catering to “individual tastes” as you stated.

        For the gluten free option it is a medical accommodation under ADA and covered by the law.
        For the halal option it is a religious accommodation under Title VII and covered by the law.

        This is far more than “I don’t like it.”

      2. Avasarala*

        No, this is more like if the company only offered meat/vegan options and the vegetarian didn’t like the vegan option. Or if the GF person didn’t like those options. They don’t quite fit into those categories.

        HR should still make the effort to be inclusive if they want to show they value and respect the employee.

      3. Allonge*

        As someone who has to eat gluten free due to medical issues, this is not the same.

        If there was a GF option but I ended up not liking it every other day (or even if it was always vegetables, or always chicken etc.), i would absolutely say something to the company. This is part of the compensation package AND I am still paying, that makes it my business.

        Plenty of “normal” dishes can be GF, depending on the particular level of allergy. If it is a choice to eat GF, you don’t even have that issue. Most likely most GF people at the company have choices every day.

        I am personally not religious and cannot understand why someone would follow food rules based on religion. Good thing therefore that it is not my choice to accommodate these or not. There are laws and especially for a company that would like to think of itself as inclusive, there is absolutely a need to go beyond “this might be inconvenient”. Arranging food in the first place is inconvenient. Get over it.

      1. Triple Threat Diversity Hire*

        You owe an employee something they’re interested in eating if you’re going to take money from their wages for it.

        1. ...*

          But they’re not required to have money taken from them for it. They can opt out. They can bring their own food. They can order delivery if they don’t like the option.

          1. Engineer Girl*

            Which is an extra burden compared to the other workers. Which means adverse impact. Which means possible discrimination.

            1. JessaB*

              Exactly especially since they would be the only employee in the company doing this. Would the company pay them the portion of the company spending that would comprise one meal a day? The company is subsidising lunch. So would this employee have to pay 100% of their food costs? If I’m having 5 dollars taken out of my pay for something the company for instance is paying 15, are they going to give the Muslimah ten dollars towards her food?

          2. Avasarala*

            Dear Alison, my company offers subsidized lunch for all employees. I sucked it up for a while and got the vegan option but actually it’s not halal. I asked HR if they could order a halal option and was told I could “opt out, bring my own food or order delivery if I don’t like the options I have.” I would be the only employee in the whole company who doesn’t participate, just because of my religious dietary needs. What should I do?

        1. Clisby*

          There’s nothing in the OP’s letter that indicates they HAVE to pay for it. They can bring in their own food, they can order in some other food, maybe they can go out. Personally, I think it’s weird to eat all your lunches on-site anyway, but maybe there’s something about these particular jobs that demands it?

          1. Dahlia*

            Maybe they’re asking to decide if they want to continue paying for it, but it’s also pretty crummy to lose a perk everyone else gets because of your religion.

          2. JessaB*

            There’s something socially ostracising about being the only person (OP says company has 100% participation) not participating.

    25. smoke tree*

      I don’t think it really serves the LW well to try to judge how “worthy” someone’s dietary requests are, and I’d rather that not be left to the whim of whoever happens to do the ordering, because so many people are misinformed about allergies, religious dietary restrictions and similar. In all cases, I think they’re better off making a good faith effort to try to accommodate the person, and if there are serious issues with doing that, try to find another solution that will work for them.

    26. Beth*

      Just a note that religious dietary restrictions (like halal, but also kosher) generally have a wider scope than just avoiding meat. Different people practice with different levels of strictness, but even for relatively casual practitioners, it’s not accurate to say that a vegetarian/vegan meal is automatically meeting requirements.

      1. Beth*

        If OP’s employee is saying that the options available to her aren’t halal friendly, then I’d advise trusting her on it and providing something else. If she’s saying “Yeah, these options are doable, I just don’t like them and would rather have a different option,” then OP probably doesn’t strictly need to accommodate it (though it would still be kind to do so, and may be an easy win depending on where OP is located and if there are local halal restaurants that deliver). If OP isn’t sure which it is, they can ask for clarification.

        1. daphne_d*

          I agree with Beth, this is an important distinction. It would be foolish to assume that the people in the meat/vegetarian/vegan/gf categories get meals that 100% suit their preferences every day – peoples’ tastes are too wildly variable for this to be plausible. So in the “I could eat that but I just prefer meat” case I would be less worried about accommodation. BUT if the Muslim employee says “I can’t eat this as it isn’t Halal” then absolutely the OP needs to find a suitable option, lest they open themselves up to accusations of discrimination.

    27. BenAdminGeek*

      This is a lunch that happens every day. If it was a once-a-month thing, I’d agree – suck it up for one meal. But this is asking someone to eat the limited menu they don’t like every day while others enjoy a wide variety. If the caterer only offers a salad plain iceberg lettuce and cukes for the vegans, I’d think they’d get tired of that.

  3. juliebulie*

    #5: Most likely they were gossiping about themselves and didn’t want to share with you.

    I wish more of my coworkers would go into a room and close the door while gossiping. I don’t need to hear it.

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

    The nice thing about halel and kosher food is that non practicing people can also eat it, the same as a non vegetarian is able to eat vegetarian food. Try to reframe adding halel (or kosher) options as providing them to all the employees rather than giving special service to just one.

    1. Bilateralrope*

      I’ve heard that there are a few slaughterhouses in my country that only produce halal meat, as that’s simpler than having two processes and making sure to keep the meat seperate.

      But only some of it is labelled halal, because some people refuse to eat anything labelled halal.

      So it’s worth it to at least ask about it. Well, unless the lunch has pig meat.

    2. Daisy*

      I’m strongly against this statement: it would make me very uncomfortable eating halal meat, since I (and quire few others) find cruel that way of slaughtering. I regularly eat meat but I believe in a fair way of treating animals, which does not include having them suffer during the process of raising or killing. This is not granted for halal meat. You could argue that is not granted for non-halal meat neither, but at least slaughter houses are supposed to stun animals before killing.

      On the other hand, having one option (or two in this case, both vegan and vegetarian) is perfectly compliant with offering an option to the employee to get this perk. It is not different if you are allergic to nuts and all the launches are nut free also for the employees who are not allergic.

      This is one of the rear case I disagree with Alison.

      1. Aquawoman*

        I wasn’t aware of that re halal meat. But I don’t understand why you disagree with Alsion–if eating the veg and vegan options are the same as the meat option, then the people who object to halal meat could eat the vegetarian or vegan option.

        1. Daisy*

          I don’t agree with Alison because I think the company is accommodating the employee and does not require to take further action. The OP clarified that finding the provider has been quite hard already and they are very happy with the current option.

          I would find reasonable that, in case the current arrangement is not available anymore, switching to halal or with a company that provides that option should be considered.

          I don’t think they have to do something else to be inclusive, I think they are inclusive. I also think it was reasonable for the employee to ask.

          1. pamela voorhees*

            We don’t know if the company is accommodating, though, because usually restaurants reuse surfaces & tools from meat preparation for vegetarian preparation, which I believe (but am not certain, to be fair) breaks halal. We ran into this problem trying to get pizza in a smaller town — the store offered a vegetarian style pizza, but couldn’t guarantee that the space would meet the correct standards for halal. It’s about more than just “is the meat certified”, it also has to do with the space the food is prepared in (again, I think, but I’m not certain).

          2. Avasarala*

            The employee clearly doesn’t feel that her needs are being included, or else she wouldn’t have asked. “No, I think we’re doing enough for you already” is not going to make her feel more welcome. I think you and many others are coming down on this based on your own feelings about halal as opposed to what is really right or good for the employee.

        2. Delphine*

          That idea that halal methods of slaughter are crueler than other methods often (not always, but often) stem from prejudice. Not to mention that if a person eats commercial meat in an industrialized country, the animal is likely suffering regardless. It’s a personal decision, but one where you don’t really have a leg to stand on.

          1. Bostonian*

            Thank you. The thought that animals killed for non-halal meat suffer “less” because they’re “supposed” to stun them first made my eyes pop open. How about their entire life leading up to that point? (Not to mention when the stunning doesn’t happen or doesn’t work.)

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

            Add to that, both kosher and halal require that the animal be in good health before slaughter. Regular commercial slaughter rules do not require that the animal is in good health, so it can be injured or sick, with exceptions for zoonotic diseases.

          3. JM60*

            As far as I can tell from quick googling, halal meat requires that the animal be killed cutting the wind pipe, jugular veins and carotid arteries of both sides without any stunning/anesthesia. Is this incorrect? If this is correct, I have a hard time seeing how this doesn’t cause unnecessary suffering for the animal. I hope I am wrong though.

            1. Daisy*

              Your google-fu is sharp, you are not wrong. There are specific countries however, when stunning is enforced (again, because it would be cause unnecessary suffering otherwise). At that point, going halal for everyone becomes a very appealing option to reduce order complexity.

              1. Lissajous*

                I have no idea about the US, but can confirm that in Australia the animal is stunned (with a stun bolt – electricity) very unconscious* before being killed by exsanguination if complying with halal. So if an abattoir produces any meat for export it will probably comply with halal for everything, especially if they’re single-animal processing (e.g. beef or lamb only. Anywhere that does pork can never meet halal).

                *I can’t recall the specifics on this, but as I recall it’s “as close to dead as possible without technically being dead.” In non-halal, the charge is higher and kills instead.

                1. Rexish*

                  When reading about this while deciding how I feel about halal, in some places in the EU they can stun the animals with a stregth that it is posible for the animal to return to full conciusness.

      2. Close Bracket*

        Having a vegetarian offerings as part of an all halal lunch is compliant with offering an option to you. So why would you be strongly against the statement? You can still eat even though you don’t practice halal.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      There’s at least one religious group that cannot eat halal meat, but a veg option is usually sufficient to get around that restriction.

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

        So, the same as a vegan can’t eat “halal meat” and can eat a vegan option instead? How is your statement a contradiction of mine?

        1. Morning Glory*

          I’m assuming PCBH meant that at least one religious group (that can eat meat) cannot eat halal meat.

          The halal employee could eat the vegetarian dish but wants a halal meat option.

          If you make all meat halal, the halal employee can eat meat, but other meat-eating employees may be forced to eat the veg dish due to religious reasons.

          In that case, you haven’t solved the problem, you have just switched the meat-eating employee who is forced to eat a veg dish for religious reasons.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Yes, that’s what I was trying to convey. I just wanted to push back slightly on the idea that everyone can eat kosher/halal meat, because there’s at least one religious group that cannot, which raises a “dueling accommodations” issue. The advice about rethinking the “default” is very helpful, and I generally agree with the rest of the lead comment. I wanted to flag the dueling accommodations issue because it could be relevant to how OP assesses menus/restaurants.

    4. Teyra*

      I would be genuinely annoyed if the meat options at work became halal. Some are pork, some (I’m fairly sure) contain alcohol. Most are definitely not kosher – which restricts many different things. We have (very good) veggie and vegan options that Muslim employees are able to use, there’s no reason whatsoever that everyone should have to follow a religion’s dietary restrictions just so about four people can have three options at lunch instead of two.

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

        I’m not sure what you’re thinking of at all, but halal is definitely not pork or alcohol. Those are forbidden. And kosher and halal rules are very similar in their restrictions, including the method of slaughter, so much so that the differences are mostly about the blessing of the food.

        1. Delphine*

          I think they’re saying they want pork and alcohol and non-kosher options and anyone who doesn’t should be restricted to the veg options.

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

            With Teyra’s comment about “Most are definitely not kosher – which restricts many different things,” it definitely made it sound like they think halal meat contains pork or alcohol, which is absurd. If you do a quick search on halal rules and kosher rules, you’ll find that they both restrict pretty much the same stuff. But I agree that they seem to think anyone who keeps kosher or halal should just eat the vegetarian options — which, while meeting a lot of the rules as far as basic ingredients go, doesn’t actually default equal kosher or halal if the kitchen hasn’t been certified and adheres to storage and preparation standards.

            1. Teyra*

              Nope, you misunderstood me. Delphine was correct. I was referring to the meat options at work as sometimes containing pork or alcohol or not being kosher, not halal food. I agree, thinking halal food contains alcohol or pork would be absurd. I don’t agree that they restrict the same stuff – kosher rules (at least in some cases, and as far as my non-Jewish self is aware) are very strict and prohibit crustaceans, as well as having requirements about how the food is prepared and what food can touch other foods.

              Kosher, I’ll grant you, is tricky to do. I don’t believe the average vegetarian or vegan meal would be kosher, especially for orthodox Jews. So if a Jewish employee came and said that none of the options available were kosher, they should have a kosher option provided. As far as I’m aware, the same can’t be said about Muslims – as long as any meat is halal (no blood, killed in a certain way, blessing, not pork), they are able to eat the meal. So in a work accommodations context, they would presumably be able to eat vegetarian options.

              I don’t think that anyone who eats kosher or vegetarian should just eat vegetarian options. The only argument the comment you’re responding to made was that forcing everyone to conform to one religion’s dietary restrictions is bad. That…shouldn’t be controversial. I think there are two different arguments about the halal OP – should they be given a special halal option, and should everyone have to eat halal food. The second one is the one being discussed here.

        1. Teyra*

          Between halal chicken and normal chicken, sure. I’ve had both, they taste the same. Between red wine sauce and a different one, yeah I think I can tell the difference. Between pork sausages and chicken ones, again, difference is noticeable.

          This isn’t so much about taste and preferences, though. Regardless of what the best solution is in regards to the halal meal forcing everyone to comply to the restrictions of a religion they don’t belong to is probably not the best way forwards.

      2. Close Bracket*

        And if they switch to all halal meet options, there will be good chicken, beef, fish, vegetarian, and vegan options for you.

        1. Teyra*

          So the correct response to one Muslim employee wanting to eat a halal meal is to force an entire workforce to follow a religion’s dietary guidelines? If they’re trying to be inclusive, that is not the way to go about doing it.

          1. Kesnit*

            I used to work for a family-owned firm where the family were practicing Muslims. Obviously, the meals we had were halal. They were also varied and tasty. They also recommended a halal butcher (where they get their meat) and my wife and I tried some meat from there a few times. It tasted like any other meat.

            Eating halal does not mean you bow and pray to Mecca before eating. Eating halal does not mean having to eat strange dishes. Eating halal only means the meat was killed in a certain way and the food preparation area cleaned in a certain way. The person eating the food would likely never know the difference if they were not told. To be honest, you have probably eaten halal food (many times) without knowing or caring.

        2. Magenta*

          A lot of people would not see this as a good option because of the way the animal is slaughtered, in the UK welfare standards require stunning, this is not the case for Halal and Kosher. Also Sikhs would then not be able to eat the meat as their religion forbids ritually slaughtered meat.

    5. Faith*

      That doesn’t always work this way. For example, some of my Hindu coworkers don’t eat beef. Halal options obviously won’t have any pork. So, that means that those two groups cannot be accommodated with a single meat option.

      1. Morning Glory*

        I agree that the answer is not to make all meat options halal… but there are plenty of meat options that are not beef or pork and could accommodate both groups.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Poultry, seafood, lamb&goat&venison.
        But I believe buffalo is bovid, so off the table for beef-less Hindus.
        (What’s the rule for reptiles?)

  5. AnotherKate*

    For #5, how does she know they’re “gossiping”? It sounds like both these colleagues are above her in the hierarchy, so it’s more than possible they’re discussing work-related things that are just above the OP’s pay grade/for management’s ears only.

    But I do agree with Alison that the best thing to do is to assume it’s NOT about you, and carry on with your work. Easier said than done, but this is one of those times that I think self-talk can help overcome insecurity–just repeat to yourself that they’re likely discussing work or personal matters that don’t concern you, you’re here to work, they hired you for a reason and there’s no need to assume they dislike you. It’ll be ok.

    1. Ama*

      Yeah, I sit very close to our CEO’s office and there are a lot of closed door conversations around a ton of things that I do not need to know about — I’m in a nonprofit, so sometimes it is a tricky or not yet confirmed donor situation, sometimes it is a personnel issue that doesn’t involve me or my department, etc. Sometimes the CEO will loop me in later if it’s relevant to my work (I report directly to her) so that’s why I know what some of those conversations are about, I assume there are other topics that I never find out about at all because it isn’t something I need to be involved in.

  6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Argh the ghosting first-day sagas. How they still haunt my memories and it’s been a few years now. We had a position that first started off with all the interviews we set up not showing up. Then we had people show up and were good interviews. So we chose the best one and offered them the job. Ghosted. Offered the #2 the position. Ghosted.

    Yeah that’s a thing. This was a customer service role, so it’s one of those jobs that I’m not shocked gets ghosted frequently. Lots of people have many irons in the fire and get multiple offers and sadly don’t have the manners to just say “I changed my mind.” Just leave us hanging there while we’ve went through all the setup procedures to get their accounts ready for their first day. Sigh.

    So yeah, just saying “I can’t come in, I’m hurt” and then not responding to any follow ups, it was generous to give them two days to explain themselves. So I’d move on and file that name away somewhere as a no-show because yes, these people have also reapplied to positions later and my memory went “Wait…wait this person again?”

    We had some guy show up once. Was really personable. We had him fill out all the paperwork to start soon after. Then he ghosted the first day. My boss at the time looked at me and said “He seems so familiar, did he ever work here before?” and I wandered to the old files and flipped through them a bit, since I hadn’t been there too long, I didn’t have a memory of him one way or another myself. “Dude. Dude he did this to you last summer too *shakes the old file at him*” “Well at least my memory isn’t that rusty in my old age.” *face desk* [That was a production job, again another position [entry level] that tends to also get this kind of treatment]

    One of our guys did call in sick his first day and we were all sick to our stomachs waiting to see how that turned out. Thankfully that was the one and only time the person really was sick and really did want the job. He was constantly in touch with us. He’s great and I’m glad that we didn’t just remove the job offer even though it was in the back of our minds at the time. So yeah, I still give people the benefit of the doubt if they call in their first day but it’s a really rocky start to come back from.

    1. Tequila Mockingbird*

      I will never understand this. Even in the minimum-wage sector. I cannot wrap my brain around accepting a job and then not showing up without communicating to someone.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It’s because those of us on AAM are usually the ones who are heavily rooted in work ethic.

        My dad worked his butt off until he retired. My mom still works. My brother has been working since he was 17 years old, he dropped out of high school and my dad’s response was “I understand why you made that decision. Now you have to go find yourself a job so you can take care of yourself.” He started dishwashing within a few weeks of that conversation and has moved up in the kitchen to kitchen management and catering. All while he watched people walk out for various things over the years and bounce around on a wing and a prayer.

        It blows my mind when others aren’t from my background of work ethic but I’ve seen it all so I just stopped being shocked when it happens. You do you, boo-boo kind of bad-life-decisions in my mind.

        1. Tequila Mockingbird*

          Same here! I was raised by people with a very strong work ethic and a strong communication ethic to go along with it. (Working class, mind you, not high income-earners in the slightest.) I took those values for granted until I entered the working world and experienced how other people behave.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            This is why when I dealt with this kind of stuff the first time, I ran to my dad. And he was quick to say “Yeah it’s been like that forever. Not everyone is a hard worker. That’s okay, it means we make more money in the end.”

            =X That sounds so cutthroat. But over the years I’ve reminded myself that if everyone was as responsible, capable and reliable I’d have a harder time. It’s really just my way of not losing faith and hating humans in the end, since for awhile I was getting fed up with all the flakes and starting to seriously become jaded.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              My friend does contracting work. He sees unbelievable messes from others and he understandably gets upset. I remind him, “Hey they are keeping YOU employed.” And there is some truth to that. My friend shows up to work and the client has 6 or 12 MORE things they have added to the to-do list.
              Sometimes my friend has time to do those things but sometimes he does not.

              1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

                Yessssss, I have been brought in to clean up messes throughout my career.

                I get upset because the mistakes are on the accounting sides and can cost lots of money. It’s not my money which is good, I’m way more cautious and aware of other people’s money than my own! So I totally feel him on that front, when you see total ineptitude in front of your face and just think “who could be so awful…”

                But yes, it’s earned me money and also people then adore me when I’m like “I mopped up this mess and put procedures in place and yes, I’ll audit this stuff later if you want me to.”

      2. JKP*

        I have a good work ethic *now*. But in my first teenage minimum wage jobs, I’m embarrassed to admit I did ghost a few times. I just didn’t know how to handle things the way I would now. I would get overwhelmed in some way, and instead of asking for help, I would just stop going.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Oh believe me, just about all of us did things “wrong” as teenagers like that. I don’t fault most people who are clearly new to the workforce when they are out of step with professional norms.

    2. 1234*

      Ghosting/calling off work is a big thing in my industry.

      Unfortunately, that means for those of us who are responsible, we have to confirm and re-confirm that yes, we will be showing up to our shift at 4PM on Friday. I find that this process is punitive to those who are responsible and reliable. I once got a hurried message saying “You didn’t log in to the portal and confirm your shift 24 hours in advance! Please confirm!” Well excuse me, I was running around town doing OTHER THINGS 24 hours ago.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Ew! We find it par for course around the manufacturing industry but truly don’t go that far. We just all cross our fingers and wait nervously on anyone’s day-one that they show up. Then once they make it 2-3 weeks, we let our nervous breaths out.

        Once I had someone show up for those 3 weeks. I was all “Yay looks like we made it past that danger period.” and was told “LOL yeah nah, he just gave notice this afternoon.” [At least he gave notice though, so it wasn’t nearly as painful as the ghosting.]

        I would never treat anyone else like a criminal just because others before them were thieves, so I don’t like that you’re under that kind of microscope because of the bad deeds of others.

        1. 1234*

          You think the “please confirm and reconfirm you’ll be there” is bad? Some companies in this industry make us check in and check out of our shifts using the location on our phones.

          One company has some kind of big-brothery app that literally counts the minutes that we are there. You can’t check into work unless you are 300 feet from the location.

    3. Blue Anne*

      We had an admin ditch on her first day at an old job. She came in, first couple hours were okay although she didn’t seem very happy. It seemed like she thought she’d just be doing reception, but we had admin work for her to be doing when no one was coming in.

      She went to lunch a little early then called in to say she’d had a fender bender “in the drive through at McDonald’s.” Boss said oh no, did she need any help, which McDonald’s is she at? She said she didn’t need any help and she was at the McDonald’s up the road… which didn’t have a drive through.

      Never heard from her again.

    4. Clisby*

      Years ago, my teen-aged nephew took a summer job in an Easter grass factory. You know, the plastic green grasslike stuff. His job had something to do with packaging it (I guess for shipping it across the country.) On his first day, his supervisor said, “I hope you can stick it out. The last guy left at lunch and never came back.” My nephew did fine – the job was boring, but he took his Walkman and listened to music/radio/audiobooks while he did whatever with the Easter grass.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        That’s such a cool job…but Easter is legit my favorite holiday and Easter baskets are my jam. Now it’s all paper, thank goodness, less choking hazards out there.

        Production/manufacturing has so many mind numbing but necessary jobs. Such as stuffing packages full of whatever you’re stuffing them full of.

        I used to make hardware packages [among doing all the front office stuff] just because it was a time consuming task that got a lot of grumbling from the crew. [It originally was something we’d task employee’s kids with when they were on summer break but naturally they aged out at a certain point]

        It was pretty easy to just put on music and groove to it while you stuffed packages full of screws and bolts. You just had to make sure you were counting and paying that much attention.

        My first temp job was a huge scanning job for a hospital who was getting sued, so they had to hand over their records for the lawyers. It started out with 12 of us, two shifts. In the end, it was just me, finishing everything up. And I was taken down to part time for the last couple of clean-up, re-shelving process. So they got me a gig in the AP department around the corner…to keep me full time you know.

        I don’t know what was more boring. The pulling records apart and scanning and rebinding process. Or sitting here, checking line items on bills. They wanted to keep me in AP and told me to apply…that I would most likely get it because I had made a good impression on the entire group. But I had to tell them it wasn’t for me. I would have cried if it was 8 hours a day all week long. 4 hours was just enough to make me want to punch myself in the face but not quite follow through with it.

    5. Chaordic One*

      Well, there was that one time when my employer hire a new worker and at first we all thought she had ghosted us. It turned out she had died unexpectedly of natural causes in her sleep. No one knew for a week or so, but then one of employees happened upon her obituary in a local newspaper. But I don’t suppose that things like employees dying unexpectedly and no one telling their employer are all that common.

  7. CupcakeCounter*

    For the halal lunch, could the company source several different places to cater the lunch and rotate so that once or twice a week there is a halal option that isn’t vegetarian? If people are happy with the current company, keep them and have them come Monday and Wednesday, and then the other 3 days try out a couple of new places that offer non-vegetarian halal options.
    I don’t know how much work does into this program or how many places there are in your area that offer halal meals so that might negate this option but you should at least make an effort to try. Ask the employee for recommendations and see what they come up with. Try their selection one day a week and see if it works out then up it to 2 or 3 days a week. If all of the employees are happy with the new lunch options switch over completely. Right now it is only one employee but things could change in the near future. Better to do it now when you have an employee who is halal and also seems like a reasonable person and might help you work through some of the details.

  8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    If your company offers free-lunches, it’s not acceptable to not accommodate someone with dietary requirements. This includes religious based ones and personal choices.

    This is the cross you carry when you offer a perk to employees. It’s time consuming and does take a lot of work on your side to give everyone the ability to utilize the program.

    I’ve bent over backwards my entire career making sure everyone is taken care of, even when they’re just extremely picky and could be told to just opt out if they don’t like it. It’s how you continue to keep morale high and turnover low. One person being denied a free lunch, can cause a low grumbling and start really chipping away at your entire atmosphere in the end.

    If it gets too out of hand, then you will need to retool your program over the course of time. It should never ever be set in stone anyways, a company is living entity in that way. It has to always be evolving and adjusting to the needs of the time.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Ah thank you for the correction!

        I re-read and see it’s a discounted-lunch option.

        I still stand by the fact that if you offer to be the porter, you agree to find options.

        If it’s impossible to do, that’s fine but you have to try and not just stonewall someone before doing the legwork.

        1. Clisby*

          I agree with you – but I don’t really get why employees would want catered lunches every day. One day a week, sure – but every day? Maybe this sounds like a good perk to some, but not to me.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            It depends on the setup.

            I know places where you cannot get out of your desk because you’re so busy. So having it delivered to your desk so you can chow down is the way you get to eat. Which is not the way to live for a lot of folks but it’s life for others! So this kind of setup happens.

            When I hear “startup” in this letter, I’m envisioning the growth time when everyone is wearing 97 hats and doing 105 jobs each. So I’m like “of course you’re going to feed people or they will get sick! Feed this person food that fills and sustains them!”

            The fact they have 50 people and they ALL go with this program says that there’s a reason there, most likely “we are chained to desks, feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed us.”

            I wouldn’t like it either. I thrive on leaving for lunch and resetting my mind.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            We’re the only business other than a skating rink within 5 miles, and standard lunch break is 30 minutes. Choices are brown bag, company cafeteria, greasy rink food, or ordering in.
            I’d love if they went back to subsidizing the cafeteria!

    1. Rainy days*

      Yes, this.

      The employer needs to at least try. If they’re in a large city, it won’t be hard to find options or ask the caterer to provide options. If they investigate and find it’s really difficult in their area, that’s a conversation they can have with some facts in hand.

      Also, a LOT of meat eaters of all stripes would be seriously irked by being restricted to vegetarian options every day for lunch. I’ve suggested eating out at vegetarian restaurants (I’m not even vegetarian, I just like vegetables) to my friends and they usually refuse.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I grew up around adults who frigging scorn vegetables. “What is this rabbit food on my burger *throws lettuce on the ground*” kind of nonsense. It blows my mind completely.

        I have liked vegetables since childhood. They used to bring in veggies during elementary school for kids to “Try” for snack time. I made myself sick eating basically a head of cabbage, lmao. My mom still is fascinated that I never fussed about eating green beans or broccoli or just about anything she put in front me. I ate oysters as a kid *shrugs*

        I can take meat or leave it. I was vegetarian for a few years but missed seafood. Just put the fish right into my mouth, fine I’ll wait for you to descale it…I guess ;)

        So yeah. I don’t think this person is being unreasonable for wanting meat options at all. Since she’s being nice about it too, asking and not being as aggressive as some people can be about the whole thing!

        Also some people NEED meat if they have certain conditions. Yeah you can find supplements of course but if you’re used to just eating meat…why would you put synthetics in your body. I doubt that the vegetarian and vegan options are the good stuff packed with lentils and beans for protein, etc.

    2. So sleepy*

      Yeah, I have to agree here. I don’t eat cheese (but I also REALLY don’t eat vegetarian, haha). It’s not something I would normally ever bring up but if my work had a program like this, especially where 100% of people participate and it would call a lot of attention to myself if I opted out, I would probably ask if they could include some sandwiches without cheese so I could partake (if for some reason they only had sandwiches with cheese… which is surprisingly common). Again, I’d never ask for occasional lunches, but something like this I would hope they could accommodate rather than making me a complete outsider to the group.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I have friends who are dairy free. So I am sensitive to the “cheese” factor. Even though I’ll eat a brick by myself, just look away ;)

        Yeah if you go to Subway and say “yeah no cheese thanks” sometimes you get the funkiest responses…it’s frustrating to say the least. Yeah, no. Dairy intolerance is one of the oldest ones in the book, how people are still insisting everyone can have cheese and it should be on everything is mind blowing.

        I would absolutely be cool with someone saying “Can you get some sandwiches without cheese?” and I’d be all “Of course”. I don’t subscribe to the whole “Just pick it off then” nonsense either btw. No. Just order it without cheese.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      I think the key is that you do your best to accommodate people, and if it becomes too expensive (in money or time), then you drop the perk for everyone. These days, if you’re going to be offering free or subsidized foods at work, it’s generally worth starting out with a known source of meals that are vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, halal, kosher, Buddhist/Jain vegetarian and guaranteed allergen free for the biggest food allergies (peanuts, tree nuts, soy, milk, eggs, wheat, fish, shellfish). That way, when it comes up you know how to handle it.

  9. BananaCor*

    I’m not going to laugh, but I really want to laugh. We had a very similar scenario happen to us. A move from another part of the company, on the first day with our team, the person misses orientation due to being in the hospital. Though it took us a few hours to track ‘em down and figure it out. Usual back and forth, concern on our part, and all that. While they were convalescing and we were waiting for them to resume their duties, they notified us that they found a new job. Set us back months.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This reminds me of the guy who had to leave due to a family emergency on day 3. He straight up told us his mom had a heart attack and had to go. Of course, go go go! He actually did check in for the next 2-3 days. We were staying patient and assuming nobody would ever put that kind of bad vibe on their mom to lie about something so serious. One day our guys said he showed up to do a “check in” but instead of coming in, he just pulled into the parking lot. Was seen chatting with the person who drove him here and then hopped in the car and they sped off. Never to be heard from until payday, when he came to collect his check for his 2.5 days.

      He was shocked and bummed when I told him I mailed the check…I couldn’t get ahold of him, of course I’m going to just mail it, dude.

  10. So sleepy*

    Re: Halal lunch options, I agree that if you’re accommodating all those other options, you really need to make a sincere effort to accommodate the employee asking for Halal options (if you only had one vegan, would you tell them they couldn’t partake? likely not). I would consider approaching the place that is catering your lunches – even though they may not generally offer halal options, they are going to have a vested interest in keeping your business, and would probably be happy to come up with a solution that works (the cost of losing the contract will certainly be much less than the cost of outsourcing or increasing their costs for one sandwich a day). My spouse’s business has contracts like this, and while he would never pro-actively offer a halal option, he would absolutely include it if asked (unless it was completely prohibitive for some reason).

  11. Dust Bunny*

    At one of my jobs a billion years ago we hired a young woman who happened to live near our workplace and would go home every day for lunch (which was fine). She lasted a week, every single day of which she found an “emergency” that prevented her from coming back after her lunch break. She spent more time talking about her fiance and upcoming wedding than working, anyway. Based on some things that she said, we’re pretty sure she took the job to prove to her mother, who didn’t like the fiance, who sounded like a blockhead even when filtered through Employee’s rose-colored glasses, than she could “hack it in the real world”.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It takes so much nerve to call in post-lunch break all “Sorry, I couldn’t possibly come back in, the cat threw up on the rug!” and then to come back the next day. At least all the stories I have involve people leaving for lunch and just never coming back.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        RIGHT? It was actually a good thing she was so useless or we might have cared. One day, she came home and discovered that someone had hit her mailbox and not left a note, and she was “too shaken” to come back. OMG just quit already.

        1. smoke tree*

          I kind of love how little effort she was putting in. I picture her relating this while at the spa, mid-massage.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          This lady needs to come hangout some time.

          One time a semi truck lost a tire and it rolled down and destroyed our chicken house…

          She would have been destroyed [no chickens were injured in this craziness, they were out grazing at the time but we had to patch that sucker up so they could sleep that night without you know…becoming racoon, weasel, skunk and whatever else is out there food.] Shake this, gurl.

      2. Sabina*

        Had a new hire at a past job who didn’t return after lunch. Turned out she’d been arrested by the FBI for interstate wire fraud. She passed the pre-employment background because she had never been arrested, up to that point. So, you just never know…

  12. Justin*

    I also get weirded when people whisper or seem to be gossiping but they are definitely not talking about me so it’s, as Alison said, best to ignore. Amusingly, one of my colleagues’s husband’s name is “Justin” so it REALLY SEEMS like she’s talking about me but she isn’t.

    1. Justin*

      I cannot tell you how hard it is not to try and pay attention, but they’re basically just monologuing about household issues. I had a group of colleagues that I thought was excluding me once so I asked to be included, they said sure, and it turns out they were just talking about TV shows I didn’t like, and I was like… oh.

      So yeah, ignore if at all possible.

  13. Jamie*

    Hired an engineer once who worked his first day and never returned. When the head of engineering finally got a response it was “I just couldn’t face the idea of coming back to that place every day.”

    Fair enough, but telling us would have been nice. He was new to his career and the engineering manager was kind enough to tell him how that behavior will hurt his reputation.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      How spoiled do you think someone has to be to have the luxury to just go “You know, I don’t like the vibe of that place, so I just never went back.” Who is paying these people’s bills?!

      1. Jamie*

        Ikr? If I didn’t have bills to pay I’d have left sooner, too. His spidey sense was dead on, but tbh I was jealous of the freedom to just bail at the time.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Well I guess that I can’t totally judge him. I did once take a job and quit within a week because they were…lbr psychopaths and I saw it within the first five days ffs! So I did bounce but I just called my old boss and was all “Hey so I’m coming baaaaaaaaaaaaack.” since I had that luxury but it was a really weird situation to be in so I just don’t expect it to the the case for others, lol.

          We had the same kind of “LOL save yo’self son” reaction to all the people who walked off the job at the construction company but that’s construction. My dad says they did it all the time back when he was doing mill work. Some didn’t even make it passed first break.

          1. Jamie*

            We’ve had so many temps walk off at break I had to create a procedure to clean up the clock out records.

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              Ah temps never use our clock system so that helps us out! They just keep their paper records that we sign off on.

              Oh this trip down memory lane. I know I’ve told this story before around here but it’s the best one ever. A guy went MIA at first break. Whatever, same story right? He came back a couple weeks later to get his check and also ask if he could “try it again”. His “story” was that he left at break to get food…okay…and got arrested. Gurl. You did not. The town had about 800 people, we know you just went home to do drugs but thanks for playing.

      2. Construction Safety*

        We just had a guy call in on his 4th day & say “I don’t think it’s a good match”.

        1. Catsaber*

          That happened to me with a guy my manager hired for our team. I was responsible for training him. He lasted a week, and it was clear during that week of training that he thought all our processes were just bonkers. To be fair, they kind of were, because we were working with shitty old technology and some really outdated methodology that was on its way out the door. He quit a week later and blamed it on the commute, but his expressions of disgust during that week were telling.

          1. Oh No She Di'int*

            To be fair, if someone realizes quickly that the job isn’t going to work for them, then getting out of there actually seems like the right move for all involved. At least he gave the courtesy of quitting rather than simply ghosting.

      3. Queen of the File*

        I did this once (when I was new to the working world). The workplace was in someone’s home and it was floor to ceiling with old paperwork and cats. During the interview I thought I could manage it but at the start of day 1 I phoned and told them I had changed my mind. Although I regret having accepted the position and then bailing before I started, it was definitely a better use of my time to keep looking for something else.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I truly don’t mind when people change their minds. I just want a phone call like you did or even an email.

          If the OP got an email that said “I’m sorry, things have changed and I cannot accept the position” I’d say “Darn it, drats, back to square one. Grumble grumble.” But they’d never make one of the “LOL this frigging person we tried hiring once.” stories, you know?

          This isn’t a prison. Once you enter it, you’re not stuck here behind bars. But just common decency of saying “I’m not coming back” so I don’t start thinking you’re dead in a ditch and I wonder if I should call your emergency contacts. Since the other option is “I hope they’re okay…what if they had a heart attack and lived alone and we’re the only ones expecting them somewhere…do I call for a well check or…”

      4. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

        Going by the large number of adult residents living at the property I am currently working at who have mommy and daddy picking up their tab, I’m going to guess their parents.

      5. Rexish*

        My bf sarted a new job and quit by the end of tuesday. He didn’t have a good feeling about the job. I wasn’t too happy since we were in a process of moving, but he had a new place to start nextweek so I calmed down. If you don’t have a good vibe and you have the luxury to be very employable (I’m not and I wouldn’t have the guts) or have the means to suport yourself. Why not? It’s better for the employee and the employer. My bf talked with hsi manager face to face. He was very understanding, asked if there is something he could do better for the next person and he mentioned that he has doen something similar in the past. Ghosting is just rude.

    2. WellRed*

      We had similar with a new staff writer at our small alternative newsweekly. On day 2 or 3, he walked over to the editor, put his keys on her desk and left. (I think he couldn’t deal with her actually ; 0)

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      A former coworker used to tell a story about a new hire at their previous job, who came in on his first day, went through orientation, said “I’m going to go get something from my car”, and never came back. It became a running joke; e.g. at a kickoff meeting for a thankless new project, “So how are you feeling about this? Want to go get something from your car, or not yet?”

      1. New Job So Much Better*

        Had the same. A woman I hired went to her car for “cough drops” her first day and just never came back. She finally returned my message to tell me she’ felt overwhelmed at her desk. I hadn’t even assigned her any work yet.

    4. Arctic*

      That kind of makes sense to me since it is a lot easier to go back to your old job after being gone a day or so then any longer period of time.

    5. Not Sayin'*

      Oh, my God, this reminds me of a trainer we hired many moons (and many jobs) ago. We hired him for his teaching skills, knowing full well he was not familiar with our product — that part was easy to bring him up to speed on since he knew our industry, and we let him know that when we offered him the job. When he started reading about our product, he freaked — told us we were “heinous” for knowingly hiring him to teach a product he didn’t know. We tried hard to convince him that he was our guy, we stood behind him, training was being planned, etc. But… he just disappeared.

      Heinous. We were heinous. And we screwed up his life. Yeah, he actually said that. He wouldn’t even come back in to pick up his final check.

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

        Was he from a generation that would have used “heinous” casually as slang (think teenager in the 80s) because I dated a man about a decade ago that still used 80s slang and he wasn’t being ironic at all. “Ah, man that’s bogus. This XYZ is really heinous.” cue :-0 face from me as I tried to process that I was dating Bill and/or Ted.

        Now I’m dying to know what the product is. Could he have had ethical objects to the product or something?

        1. Not Sayin'*

          Electronic hardware — the kind that never changes. I’m pretty sure that even I, an HR clerk at the time, could have taught the product!

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        NGL, every job I take, I start panicking about learning the product.

        I didn’t know a dang thing about anything we sold prior to you know…selling it. But by six-eight weeks after being surrounded by it and the production…dude, dude. DUDE. Heinous tho.

        We had some guy tell us our ads were heinous once, lmfao. He was a competitor who just always was bothering us, even though it’s not illegal to sell the same product [no way to trademark the thing, the procedure isn’t one that you can get a patent on.] But oh, he wanted to try to “chase us out of town” by being a total crazypants. So “heinous” makes me roll still to this day.

    6. Filosofickle*

      When I was young & temping, I got a ton of accolades for being a functioning person. My first day of a 3-month reception assignment, they greeted me after lunch with a “yay, you came back!” The last temp apparently went to lunch their first day and ghosted. This was the 90s so, yeah, it’s not a new thing. (Honestly, it was an easy, nice place to work and the pay was solid. That ghosting was a reflection on the worker, not the employer.)

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        When I did my 8 months as a temp before getting a permanent placement…holy crap they acted like I was a tiny golden goddess every time I kept showing up and not just showing up, did the work they needed done and faster than they had budgeted for.

        I had one woman start tearing up when I finished a week early and was like “I tried to find something else for you to do, we want to keep you for the full time but you’re just too good.”

        And I was like “What? Thanks for the compliments but I’m sorry you have had such bad luck with temps…”

        It was just a purging job. Pulling records, shredding them and then going back and doing it all over again. From a list they gave me. Once I got the layout down, I was practically running through the stacks and snatching up, double checking numbers/names and shredding that sucker.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Most places I temped at said they wanted to hire me — some said it as wishful thinking, but the rest were serious. On a one-day job at the phone company, they gave me a small stack of filing to do. I finished it very quickly. My supervisor said with surprise, you’re done already? I was like, it’s just alphabetical order. I’m not sure how long they expected it to take me, but clearly longer. Maybe the whole day?

          In that year of temping, I learned that I’m very employable.

            1. Filosofickle*

              It was! It took a year to find my first “real” job in my degree field, even though I’d had a couple of internships. Knowing I could make a living at admin work, which I was good at and even enjoyed, helped me feel like I had options. That’s always empowering.

  14. ElizabethJane*

    Stated up-thread but my gut reaction to the halal letter is that the LW has to at least investigate it. If the letter had been “We’re in a small town of 400 people and our lunch vendor doesn’t have a halal option, I’m not sure what to do” my reaction would be very different. But this letter is literally “Should I even try to meet this person’s request?”. Like, why wouldn’t you at least try?

    1. Lucky*

      A caterer in a town of 400 people would jump at the chance to find a halal option if it meant a regular gig catering 50 lunches, 5 days a week.

    2. Triple Threat Diversity Hire*

      Yeah, the fact that it didn’t really sound like OP had done any legwork to find out whether it was possible before writing in didn’t really give a good vibe. I’d be interested to hear an update if one existed.

      1. Clisby*

        Yeah, if an employee wants halal meals, the employee might have a pretty good idea of where to order them. I know of at least 3 places in my city (Charleston, SC – hardly a high-Muslim-concentration place) where you can get them. Or, just as if I wanted a source of kosher food, I might call one of the synagogues here, I could call one of the local mosques to ask about halal food.

    3. Dana B.S.*

      If I were to guess, LW is not the one who decided on this plan and might prefer to not offer this benefit at all. And LW likely feels like other parts of her work are more important than calling restaurants.

      But yes, LW needs to investigate and work with the employee to find a solution.

    4. Marion Q*

      Yes, at least try. Most people will understand if you say, “I’ve tried, but no places around offer halal food”. That gesture is enough to show that you’re really committed to diversity and inclusion.

  15. NotAnotherManager!*

    Re #3, I agree with Alison – this is super common and generally done to increase the hiring pool and the strongest candidates you can. My HR department requires that all positions be posted for a minimum of a week. The only exception that I’ve gotten to this requirement was when I ended up hiring two of basically the same position rather than just the one originally advertised for, and I had two excellent candidates from when we posted the first time. They wanted to repost for another week before extending the offer to the second candidate, but we managed to work it out without a repost AND pick up both candidates, who continue to be excellent employees. (And frankly, one of my objections to the repost was that I already knew who I wanted to hire and didn’t want to waste any other candidates’ time on a position that was basically filled – and they agreed with that. Interviewing people you’ve no intention of hiring is not a good look, and they know that.)

    1. datamuse*

      At MPOW we are not allowed to interview only one candidate. We need at least two to make it to the final round, preferably three.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        In this case, I had interviewed five people to get the one (and then two) that I needed to hire. What I needed to do was to get HR to consider it one process (which it was) rather than two.

        In general, I see a minimum of two candidates per position, sometimes more. The only exception is for highly specialized ones where we’re unicorn hunting, I’m not bringing in the one I want plus someone without the qualifications just to meet a quota (and am thankfully not required to do so by my HR department). I generally think if someone has zero chance of succeeding at getting the job, it’s not a good use of the interviewers’ time nor is it respectful of the candidate’s. I understand that there are other hiring philosophies that differ, but I disagree with making hiring a numbers game.

      2. Massmatt*

        Right, hiring from only 1 interview is kind of the hiring equivalent to awarding business contracts without taking any bids. Maybe that candidate (or supplier) was great, maybe they were someone’s brother-in-law, it’s not a great practice in general.

  16. LuckySophia*

    Ahhh…ghosting. With a side of malevolence. We once hired a front-desk person based on her self-proclaimed Excel expertise, believing we could coach her into greater “finesse” in speaking with clients. Over the next couple of months, it emerged that neither assumption (“Excel expertise” or “coachable”) was valid. There was also a side gig (in-home scented candle parties) that cropped up with greater frequency during working hours. Then, two days of no-call/no-show. Day 3 she responded to our voicemails, saying her grandmother had died but she’d return in 3 days, the day after the funeral. Except she didn’t: 3 more days of no-call/no-show and no response to our voicemails. At which point our attorney drafted a letter advising her that since she had abandoned her job we were accepting her resignation (apparently 3 days of no-call/no show legally constitutes “job abandonment”) and that she needed to return the office keys. We sent it certified/return receipt requested. Never got any response; we had all the locks changed. About a month later we got a letter from the Unemployment Office IN ANOTHER STATE ENTIRELY saying that Miss X had filed for unemployment and we had until X date to dispute, or it would automatically be granted. (She had *fraudulently* filed out of state, and it took that office a while to forward their correspondence to us. By the time the letter arrived we had but two days until the deadline! ) Trusty attorney sprang into action and her fraudulent claim never proceeded. And that, Gentle Reader, is the Dark Side of Ghosting.
    And it wasn’t even Halloween

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’ve had this happen before.

      Not as gloriously weird in any of the cases because they just simply no-called/no-showed and got their notice that they were terminated due to job abandonment.

      We don’t have in house counsel but any HR department can handle this.

      Those deadlines are indeed more flexible than they let on in writing. You just have to plead your case, since it’s out of state that’s pretty easy to explain the time line and why you didn’t respond in time.

  17. Knock Knock Goose*

    My husband is a teacher in an inner city school and his favorite “ghosting” story is of a new teacher who left her school keys on the desk and walked out of the classroom during her lunch break, never to return. The students ran amok for a bit that afternoon before any other adult figured out what had happened. It took a while to hire a new teacher so Husband and his colleagues ended up losing their prep periods every day in order to cover the classes, until someone new came in.

    1. Asenath*

      I knew a principal who left his job abruptly partway through September – he didn’t leave a class unsupervised, though, and it was probably not so much ghosting as “I can’t take another year of this and I’m eligible to retire”. I’m sure he contacted the school board reasonably soon.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I have to be vague. There’s a story of an elected official running away in the middle of the night. No, they did not steal anything, they just ran away never to be heard from again. An adult aged person……

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m pretty easy going and just laugh things off 99.99999% of the time.

      But I’m seeing red thinking of leaving a classroom like that. I’m assuming this is a high school, so it’s not like they were kids who could get hurt but still, you’re literally hired to be the designated adult. At least leave a note in the front office or SOMETHING.

    3. pennyjenny*

      When I taught English at an international school, my job was STRESSFUL. Little support for teachers, long hours… So I couldn’t blame a colleague who lost his shit one Sunday night at 3 a.m. and sent an email to our principal saying he wouldn’t be back. (I wasn’t thrilled about taking over some of his courses, though.)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        There is something comforting about reading posts like this. I hear of people walking out and such. I wonder if they figure everyone is angry with them. Then I read these comments here and people do understand even if they don’t agree with the method.

        I have never lost a key person. The folks I have lost are the lowest performers. I tried to help them get their work up to par and instead they left. With one person, the boss hid it from me until the person was gone. I kind of rattled the boss a bit when I said, “Not a loss. This ex-employee could not even speak when spoken to. They deliberately ignored me any time I asked them anything. I was their supervisor and that was insubordination.” The boss never hid anything like that from me again. (Yeah, why would a boss hide that? Dysfunction Junction.)

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      When I was in high school, our social studies teacher up and left one day. Told the class he was leaving to “sell guns, drugs, and small children” and that “it was ok to loot the room”, and never came back. He’d been there for years and clearly had some stuff going on in his life (he’d had a last-minute yearlong leave of absence a couple of years earlier, and had been doing stuff like improvising a test as he went by writing it on the board, starting with questions relating to the course material but devolving into questions like “why is Donald Duck wearing a shirt but no pants” halfway through the test), so I suppose there were warning signs, but it was quite the thing at the time. I never did find out what actually happened with that one. (Unsurprisingly, he left no sub plans of any kind, so the sub we eventually got to finish out the year started out by showing a bunch of movies for a week or two while he tried to figure out what he was supposed to be teaching us and if there was any kind of syllabus he should be following or maybe a textbook or something. The sub clearly had no idea how to vet movies for school use, and pretty much just took student suggestions for things we’d like to watch. I mostly remember seeing Trainspotting, but I’m pretty sure there were also some other equally-dubious choices.)

    5. Deejay*

      One of my teachers once told the story of his own schooldays during the Cuban Missile Crisis. His teacher walked into the classroom, said “There’s no point in me teaching you anything as we’ll all be dead soon” and walked out. Now I wish I’d heard the followup to that. Did the teacher ever return? Did he face any consequences? I’ll never know!

  18. Blobola*

    Age 15 I started a weeks work experience in a local office with another kid from another school. First time in the workplace for both of us. After about two hours the other kid went to the toilet, climbed out the window and was never seen in the office again.

    In hindsight it’s kinda funny because he could have just walked out the door if he felt that strongly about it.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Oh man. That’s such a 15 year old thing to do. Like they had to “sneak out” of the window like they were sneaking out of their house to meet their girlfriend.

  19. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

    #5: I agree that they’re probably not gossiping about OP, but just closing the door so as not to disturb others or even to discuss personal matters that they don’t want the whole office (or people they don’t know very well) to hear about. I’ve been in situations where I just wanted to discuss something with one person and didn’t want everyone else to hear about it, so pulled my colleague into a conference room. I liked everyone in the office just fine, but just didn’t want to broadcast what I was talking about to everyone else in the room- it was about me, not them! :) I do understand the perception, though, and how OP could feel left out or weird like they are talking about her or keeping things from her. That is probably not the case, so I hope OP tries to assume that it has nothing to do with her.

    1. Jamie*

      I do the same thing, shutting the door to my office or going to a conference room if my office mate is there and except when it’s for confidential work matter it’s always just so I don’t disturb others.

      I, too, hope the OP can assume it has nothing to do with her as it most likely doesn’t…but I can see how it would feel that way with only the three of them.

  20. These Old Wings*

    One of my first jobs after college was as a admin for a VP at a commercial real estate firm. He was very busy so there were two admin’s who were assigned to work with him, one of whom was out on maternity leave. He was incredibly demanding and micromanaging (although for whatever reason, it didn’t bother me all that much) and he ended up having a rotating cast of admin’s filling in for the other role. One of them called out a couple of days after she began and said she was in the hospital. He felt really bad, sent her flowers, etc. and then we never heard from her again. I remember him coming to me and asking if I thought she was ghosting and I was like “oh yeah, 100%”. I personally don’t get it, because the idea of not telling an employer I was quitting is something that would continue to haunt me. I just couldn’t leave someone hanging like that, regardless of how awful the job was.

  21. soon 2be former fed*

    The ankle sprain job ghoster doesn’t want the job anymore. Move on.
    If I was an employer, I would completely not provide any food for employees. Things are just too complicated now. If you want to subsidize eating, give everyone the same amount of money to spend as they see fit. Or just leave it alone completely.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      The way that my friend’s job did this was to give everyone an “allowance” for eating. So you can order food yourself from Grub Hub or whatever delivery service that you can find.

      I agree, I like that system better.

      Honestly, we just do snacks and I take into consideration what people like/don’t like but it’s not a meal. It’s not there to do more than give you a quick pick me up, you’re still supposedly sourcing lunch. Everyone brings their lunch and grabs a bagel or apple for breaky/afternoon snack kind of thing.

      The problem is to stay competitive in some sectors you better be offering this kind of food perk in some way. Otherwise you’re losing traction and people will bounce. Unless your salaries make up for it or benefits package in general. In a world where you’re all competing with Google and Microsoft and Facebook, you have to step it up.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Am chuckling. If food is part of the deal maybe people need more time off to, you know, fix a meal at home every so often. I picture some of these places expecting crazy hours from people.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Yeah, they are legit places that have you working obscene hours. And the end dream is to work for one of the mega tech companies in the end.

          Some of these places are close to having bedpans installed into the office chairs.

  22. Aquawoman*

    I feel the need to say that assuming that everyone can eat any vegetarian lunch is no better than assuming that everyone can eat a carnivorous lunch.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I dream of the day we stop assuming things like what people can eat in general. We have so many gastrointestinal/medical conditions out there, religious restrictions, personal moral restrictions and just different taste buds in general. Just stop assuming.

      If someone says “This doesn’t fit my dietary requirements.” you don’t fight them for it. You say “I’m sorry, let me look into our options and I’ll let you know what i find.” If you find out you cannot accommodate someone’s vampire diet or whatever it may be, you say so in the fact that “There’s no place that can accommodate these needs, I’m sorry that we can’t help you. Would you like to be taken off our lunch plan?” But yeah, don’t assume that things are a-okay, especially when you’re being straight up told “this isn’t cutting it.”

      1. 1234*

        Or another option could be “I looked all over and could not find a place that meets X requirement. Would you happen to know of such a place that also delivers to our offices?”

    2. Agent Diane*

      This! Also, sometimes the veggie/vegan choices get rotated a lot less. Oh, good, another baked potato day*. One thing worth doing could be to check if the veggie/vegan staff are also finding the offer a bit dull. If doesn’t resolve the need to look into halal meat, but it could mitigate some of the disgruntlement with being expected to always eat the veggie/vegan option.

      *UK term (aka “jacket potato”) that I’ve just realised might be called something else entirely in US.

      1. J.*

        We call them baked potatoes, but I had never heard “jacket potato” before and it’s adorable. :)

      1. Atlantian*

        Well, since we’re talking dietary restrictions, for me specifically, the absence of meat requires some sort of protein replacement and I’m allergic to all of the common ones (Soy, Nuts, etc.). And skipping out on a significant portion of protein at a meal is a migraine trigger for me. So, yeah, the absence of meat doesn’t make it completely inedible, but it does make the meal basically worthless for me and force me to supplement anyway, so I may as well have not participated.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep. And there are many of us out there who do not have any choice but to eat some meats at each meal.

          Cranky, it’s not that the food is inedible, it’s that the person will not have eaten enough food to get through the rest of the day.

          I remember going to someone’s house for spaghetti and meat balls. When the platter was placed on the table there were 3 meatballs to be shared by 12 people. Four of those people were diabetics and absolutely HAD to eat four ounces of protein from meat at each meal. We left early to go get my husband a real meal with veggies and meat. It was way too many carbs for him and it was reasonable to assume that he could “crash” later, meaning his blood sugar could drop really low because the carbs burned up and there was no meat protein behind it to pick him back up again. Don’t forget, he could not eat “extra” spaghetti to compensate for the lack of meat. That would cause more problems.

          In short, the absence of meat could work into a 911 call.

          I hope we can move on to just accepting the fact that individuals know what they need to eat to get through the day and we should not be deciding for them that “there is enough food for them to eat and they should just eat it.”

          I remember shifting over to whole foods. I tried to explain to a friend what I was doing. The friend said, “It’s RUDE to turn down anyone’s food, EVER.” Uh, the world is changing and that is not necessarily true anymore. I prefer to eat simple because it keeps my medical bills down and keeps my sick time down. In turn, I have a better quality of life. I bring my own lunch, every. single. day.

          1. Allonge*

            Oh, the RUDE thing, how I hate that.
            I am allergic. My options are:
            1, get sick (I prefer being rude)
            2, take the food but throw it away (actually a lie, and wasteful – quite uncool)
            3, politely decline.
            Option 3 is not a referendum on the food offer-er! I appreciate the thought (well, until they start pressuring me). Please don’t take it personally.

  23. De Minimis*

    We had someone who worked for us for about six months, was out multiple times for illness [both their own and family members] and also death of a parent. They finally resigned, and we found out through some social media snooping that they’d been out travelling to various places the entire time. It really hurt because everyone had really bent over backwards to help and offer leave/support even though the person was a new hire.
    The bonus was that not long after they left, their manager realized they hadn’t actually done any work during the brief moments they were in the office.

    The primary cause of the failure was not heeding the red flag of no references from previous managers [they were all from people from other organizations that the candidate had worked with in a professional capacity.] The manager also should have had more oversight. I felt somewhat guilty because I had thought something was up early on, but didn’t say anything because I’d thought maybe they’d arranged something with their manager.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Honestly, there are few people who really scam the system like that person did. Usually they burn out faster than 6 months. However I’m shocked there was no follow up to see what they were actually producing, that was a huge oversight for sure!

      I couldn’t have my previous manager as a reference. He was a total psychopath. So it’s a yellow flag at best but we can’t speak bad about our former employers, so the fact he had references in general should have put the flag away at that point.

      You truly don’t know someone until they get into your hen house in the end. we do our best to guard it and make the best decision but weasels are great at sliding into those tiny cracks. Such is the life of being a varmint!

    2. Not Sayin'*

      I had a clerical employee produce a medical release from work for a month. The following week, another employee walked into a local business and saw him working there behind the desk. Knowing he was spotted, he resigned via email. We hopped on his resignation and never looked back.

      1. De Minimis*

        I only heard about this, but in the past an IT person at a previous job was spending most of their time working on freelance projects, and were found out when they accidentally sent out an e-mail to the entire organization saying that “Yeah, I work here at X but normally work on my freelance stuff during the day.”
        They were fired, which I believe was the last time anyone was fired there for performance.

  24. Brett*

    #1 Though I doubt this was the case with the apparently ghosting employee…
    I once went to urgent care because I had a bad abdominal muscle pull that was making it hard to walk.
    Long story short, they wouldn’t authorize me to leave the clinic because there was a risk it was my heart (or more specifically, I would have to sign an AMA discharge). I had to go straight to the emergency room (if my wife had not been there with me, I would have ended up in an ambulance). I had to leave my phone, wallet, etc behind for my wife to pick up later. Hospital would not discharge me until I had a stress test, which they could not run until the next day.
    My quick trip to urgent care ended up with me being out of contact with the world in a hospital bed for over 24 hours. Without my wife along, there is no way work would have ever known what happened to me. (And it turned out my heart was perfectly fine. I had a bad abdominal muscle pull.)

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Emergencies absolutely happen, I’m glad you were okay but wow what a rollercoaster you went on there! I’m glad it ended up being just a pulled muscle.

      This is why we always assume the person is going through something that removes them from the phone, medical emergency. Phone died, got smashed or you’re in an area without service, etc.

      We have had people get into accidents on the way to work, on the way home from work or one even at lunch time. It’s why we have emergency contacts in place so we have your authorization to call your wife, if your wife doens’t pick up, we know something is probably wrong [like being in the hospital! or you’re stranded together, etc]. Then we can call someone else and see if they know or if they can at least go check on you, since we’re only calling because of we’re concerned.

      There are stories about people collapsing and living alone. So only the pizza delivery guy who sees them every Thursday for 6 years is expecting them. But they collapsed on a Monday night. So people at work just go “Oh, wonder where Bob is. Must be in the other office today…” and the next day “Bob is still working out of the other office?” “Uh no….wtf Bob isn’t there?!” and they have to send the police for a well check only to find Bob had a heart attack or broke a hip or whatever.

      1. Brett*

        We _just_ had a discussion about this at work. We have a calendar people fill out when they are out of office or working from home, and some people didn’t think they should bother filling it out for an unplanned work from home day.

        I made it really clear that we need to know who is supposed to be in the office, because if someone is unexpectedly absent, or we have a real evacuation, or some other catastrophe we hope never happens, knowing who is or is not supposed to be in the office is critical information.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Yes! Yes! Yes!

          The whole “I need to know if I count heads who may still be inside or not…”

          If a first responder died trying to find a frigging ghost…holy moly let’s just say that’s a nightmare of mine. Especially if I was the one who said “Nancy is in there! I can’t find her!” and it turned out Nancy just decided to work from home and not put it on the frigging calendar.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            OMG, yes.

            We had sign-in sheets basically so we could do a body count. People did not use the sign-in sheets. sigh. “What if someone dies looking for you?” Then the reply would be, “oh that would never happen.” hmm.

  25. Fikly*

    My company does a similar subsidized lunch thing, once a week, except we do it through a service that offers 4-5 choices from a few different restaurants that change each week (perks of living in a big city). If it’s above a certain cost, we chip in a few bucks. They have your standard vegetarian, vegan, “gluten-free” options, etc.

    I don’t participate, because I have Celiac, type 1 diabetes, and a sensory processing disorder that severely affects what I can put in my mouth and not gag on. I wouldn’t dream of asking my company to make something possible for me, because in my giant city, there are *counts on fingers* three places I can safely get food from, and none are close.

    But….this is a super rare problem to have. And I suspect that if I ever brought it up, my company actually would try to accommodate me, because that’s how inclusive they try to be. A basic religious accommodation? Yeah, they should do that, because otherwise you are only trying to be inclusive so long as it’s not too much of an imposition, and that’s not inclusive at all.

  26. hbc*

    Halal lunch: At least do some research and find if there’s a good option for rotating catering places. I’d say the vegan and gluten-free options are the absolute necessities (assuming the vegan option is Halal) since that covers the most restrictive diets. Maybe a couple of days a week the vegetarians have to eat full-on vegan, maybe a couple of days the omnivores who are scared of Halal have to go veg, but at least no one is “sacrificing” every day.

  27. Jam Today*

    Its not like only one person is going to eat the halal option, entire regions of the world follow halal rules: North Africa, the Middle East, parts of Southeast Asia, Western China, etc. It should be relatively easy to find something that adheres to halal guidelines that will be eaten by more than one person.

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      Exactly. See also the comment upthread about a halal butcher who only labels some of their products as halal because “some” people won’t eat halal. (Islam is apparently contagious /sarcasm). I’d wager that at least some carnivores wouldn’t bat an eye at a halal dish (most of the Indian places in my city are halal and it tastes no different than the non-halal Indian.)

      1. MCsAngel2*

        I think the people who are actively avoiding halal are doing so because of slaughter practices that are considered cruel, not because “Islam is contagious.”

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Sometimes it’s ethics. Sometimes it’s bigotry.

          There’s a lot of people who don’t care about how animals are treated in the slaughter house. And there’s a huge bias against Islam.

        2. ...*

          Personally I wouldn’t want to eat meat that was specifically prayed in front of/over or slaughtered in a way to meet religious reasons that I personally don’t believe in and and could possibly be against. It would be easy to say oh well if you don’t believe that religion then it’s all meaningless so who cares? Not necessarily. people who don’t follow the big 3-5 religions in the world can still have person beliefs they want respected.

          1. Jam Today*

            There is no difference in the actual meat itself. It doesn’t somehow magically transform into a different substance. Its still dead cow/lamb/goat/chicken.

          2. FairPayFullBenefits*

            I get the animal welfare opposition to certain slaughtering practices, but I honestly never thought of not wanting to eat something because someone of another religion had prayed over it. What if you went to a friend’s house for dinner, and they said grace before the meal?

        3. Jam Today*

          I will lay the $7 in my wallet that 92% of the non-Muslim people who object to halal have no idea what slaughter/butcher practices are.

  28. sssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    AWOL on the first day is more common that you think. I’ve heard of it happening to so many of my past employers. It’s such an unfair thing to do to the employer, who has spent time getting ready for the new employee. Of course, circumstances vary but…

  29. sssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    Halal. This shouldn’t be hard in major urban centres.

    When feeding Cubs a few years ago at camp, one family was halal. So, we bought the halal chicken for fajitas for everyone. No one knew the difference (in taste, colour, etc.) and everyone felt included.

    Quite often it is the same price or sometimes cheaper in grocery stores. This really shouldn’t be a big issue.

  30. pentamom*

    I am reading #2 to say that there is currently no meat option at all, since it is not among the listed options. Others seem to be reading it as though it’s simply a given that non-halal meat options are offered.

    If you read it as no meat option at all, then the employee who wants halal meat isn’t getting anything anyone else who wants meat isn’t getting, and there is no singling out, exclusion, or failure to meet preference that any other omnivore isn’t experiencing.

    Whether or not there is currently a meat option makes a big difference in what is going on here, IMO.

    1. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      Agreed. If no other meat-eaters are getting meat (and the food is alcohol-free etc.), the employee doesn’t have a leg to stand on. If other omnivores ARE having meat options, then the employer ought to at least try to find halal meat accommodations if the employee isn’t happy with the vegetarian options. This is especially the case when the food isn’t free, merely discounted.
      Also, religiously speaking Muslims are permitted to eat kosher meat! Individuals might have differing personal preferences but in a lot of US cities it can be easier and cheaper to find kosher options instead of halal.

      1. Xanna*

        I think speaking to the employee in more depth is the first step – are the veg options not necessarily halal (like people have said – vodka sauce on penne), or is the lack of a meat AND halal meal the issue? Could you offer her a certain amount of reimbursement on par with the discount everyone else is getting to order something special from somewhere else? If you lay out what the options are in terms of what the catering service can provide, or what your company could do to give her some version of this perk that works with her dietary restrictions and wants, she can weigh what makes the most sense to her.

        It’s unclear if she was wondering if this would be a pretty doable tweak (worth asking if you could just check a box on the order form and get her a meal she’d enjoy more), or if this feels like an inequitable presentation of a perk meant for everyone that she’s only partially able to benefit from (in terms of eating an appropriate but not her preference meal), or if for some reason the vegetarian meal really isn’t an option for her, but she’ll probably be the best person to articulate where she’s coming from and which option would be the most workable for her.

    2. Jam Today*

      There is a meat option, but its not halal, so the only option for her is vegetarian. She objects to being severely limited in her dining choices (and I’ll wager if they are in an area with no halal catering, their vegetarian options are probably also pretty grim). She would like the same option as the other omnivores, but with halal meat — which the other omnivores will also eat.

  31. nora*

    I feel like the person in #2 is asking permission to ignore a religious requirement because it’s inconvenient, and that’s just not cool.

    1. sssssssssssssssssssssssss*


      Catering for any group larger than one is inconvenient. That’s life.

      I once had to plan food for omnivores, vegetarians, vegan for lent, halal and kosher and there was a gluten-allergy as a result of her chemo. We did our very best every time.

  32. Delphine*

    #2: try to accommodate the request and if you can’t then let the employee know that you tried your best but there weren’t any halal options available.

    1. Some Windex for my Glass Ceiling please*

      Why not ask the employee if they know of restaurants/caterers who do provide halal foods?

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        This would be my first response when someone said “Hey how about some halal food up in here, sis?”

        “I can sure look into it! Do you have any places in mind to contact about their delivery options?”

        It’s seriously pretty easy to accommodate food requests if you are proactive and ask such basic questions. About “You want that, how do I get it for you, can you help me point me in the general direction of food that you are requesting.” because it cuts out a lot of the actual work if someone just says “There’s a place on 1st called Halal Foods, that’s where I go with my fam.”

  33. Carlie*

    I would hope that any employee who opts not to participate in the lunches gets the subsidy back in their paycheck, or this is all kinds of wrong. That may be where this employee ends up, but you should try to accommodate them first.

    And then give them the monetary version of the subsidy if it doesn’t.

    And then make sure the other employees have that option too, and then you find out if your 100% participation is just because it’s a use it or lose it perk.

  34. MCsAngel2*

    I love stories of ghosting employees. I was one myself, once (walked out mid morning at a cold calling sales job). But it reminds me of one that happened at my current place of employment, some 15+ years ago. I always think of it as “Was she lying or telling the truth?”

    She was a young, mid 20s CPA we hired from Schaller Anderson (one of the former Big 6, right after they imploded). Worked for a few days. Then one day, big boss got a call from her saying both her parents had been in a bad car accident, in another state, and she didn’t know when she would be back. We never heard from her again.

    Part of me thinks that was too extreme a story to be made up; the other part of me thinks ‘If it all went to shit, wouldn’t you still leave a message or SOMETHING for your employer that you weren’t coming back?”

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      In this day and age, I’d be googling for a news story about the accident. Just for my own peace of mind and because I’m a junior detective okay, I blame all the cop shows I grew up watching. Thanks for the NYPD Blue addiction, Mom.

    2. Some Windex for my Glass Ceiling please*

      Maybe they fired her. But didn’t tell you that part. I know, that’s cold.

      Years ago, we hired an order entry person. She was a single mother, with an infant. Over the first two months of employment, she was late a few times. And her child-care person called in sick once or twice. So she had to arrange back-up before she could come into work. But she got herself to work when this happened. So she was showing up.
      She may have called in once to tell her boss that she would be staying home as the baby was ill.

      Well, just before the 3 month probation period was up, she called in to say that both of her child-care options had fallen through and she would not be at work that day. And she would try to be in tomorrow.

      Her boss fired her. Right there, over the phone. Apparently the admin gal screamed in reaction to this.
      Boss related the phone call to me right after it happened. She justified the firing by telling me that the admin’s schedule was making things so “inconvenient” for her.

      This still bothers me.

  35. Bunny*


    I would encourage them to look into what the actual payscale for the job they are look for is. I’m earning significantly less in the non-profit sector than I would be for a very similar position in the for-profit world, but that is just the payscale in my current industry.

    I actually had several discussions with my manager about that and his concerns with me taking the lower salary, but the fact is I really like the the industry I am in now, it gave me a much shorter work commute, better work/life balance, I’m early enough in my career to go down the ladder a bit, and frankly, we are a DINK household with very little debt so we could afford for me to do it without altering our lifestyle.

  36. House Tyrell*

    You should accommodate the halal option. If you’re in a city, that should be easy enough and it might be easier to order all meat according to halal standards- there’s not a difference in taste or anything. If you don’t accommodate her, you need to stop charging her for the lunch subsidy. Frankly you should see if it’s something everyone wants and make it optional to participate because ordering the same things will surely be boring after awhile and sometimes people like cooking and bringing in their lunches or they want some specific take out that day.

    I am a vegetarian in a work place that does not accommodate diets when ordering staff lunches. The guy who is Celiac, the other vegetarian (for religious reasons), and myself (vegetarian for nonreligious reasons) rarely get to eat anything substantial at these meetings and/or have to bring our own lunches while everyone else gets eat the provided food. We were told to be grateful for the provided lunch but it’s not really provided for us and makes us constantly feel left out and like our company isn’t considerate- they even ordered a cake for the guy with Celiac that had gluten in it for a celebration in his honor! If you’re going to order lunches- and charge your employees for them!- then it needs to be food they can and will eat. This lunch isn’t free for your halal employee so she definitely needs to be accommodated.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      *stabbing motions and screeching*

      I will never accept “be thankful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” utter bullsh*t.

      Don’t throw me scraps and say “But be thankful!”. I am not a dog. Nobody we work with are dogs. “Thankful” is for the birds I spread seed for so they don’t have to hunt their own food. Thankful is not for a company doing anything for their employees.

      This is so half-assed. “Oh we tried”, try. harder.

      1. House Tyrell*

        They mostly order BBQ so the vegetarians get a scoop of potato salad and a piece of bread. Or sandwiches, but refuse to order vegetarian sandwich options on the platter and Celiac guy can’t eat the bread or food that touched it. The only time I’ve been able to eat a whole meal at a work event is when the guy with Celiac ordered the lunch for his event and he ordered vegetarian and gluten free options for the three of us.

        When I asked if they could order two vegetarian sandwiches on the platter for an event, I was told it was rude to ask for extras and “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”

        1. Dana B.S.*

          Vegetarian choices are usually cheaper too!!

          I feel BBQ places are designed to only serve food that I don’t like – I don’t eat meat and can’t stand mustard (potato salad) or mayo (cole slaw). I eat pickles.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          They are treating you like CHILDREN having dinner at an elderly relatives place or some nonsense. I frigging cannot.

          Rules of etiquette are great. When they apply to a situation. Like you’re being invited to someone’s home. WORK. IS. NOT. SOMEONE. ELSES. HOME.

          This reminds me about when we had a BBQ this year. We sprung for steaks, we do that once a year-ish. Usually it’s burgers. So I went shopping, grabbed up the meat and loaded up the sides. Salads. Fruits. Veggies. Chips. Dips. Cookies. Other random assorted stuff. It was all well within our budget.

          While we’re hanging out my coworker looks at me and says “OMG you got so many add-ons!!! Thank you!!! Last time we did this [before my time] they just literally gave us a slab of meat…”

          Which doens’t make sense at all. We have a vegetarian and of course I get them veggie patties. I even asked them if they have a preferred brand. Because it’s just what you do when you’re “treating” employees and are supposed to be having a bonding experience/incentive in place.

          This isn’t your frigging grandmother’s dinner table. You don’t eat what’s put in front of you and whatever grammy likes to cook. *head explodes*

    2. Rainy*

      We have a couple of all-hands huge events every year where, as a “perk” of spending our whole day working this event, we are allowed access to the lunch buffet. The catering kitchen attached to the event venue has a new buffet option: Chinese.

      Literally the only thing on the table I could eat was the steamed white rice. Everything else had at least one ingredient I was allergic to. I ate two things on the table, by the way, but only two small bites of the other one. Which is good, as I quickly realized it contained something I’m allergic to.

  37. Geillis D*

    Ha!!! We had our own 4-hour Lucinda.
    Phone call on the morning she was scheduled to start – she had a family emergency and couldn’t make it.
    The next morning she came in as schedule, our manager has spent 4 hours training her, then she said she was worried her car was parked at the wrong spot, went out and never came back.

    We figured she had another job lined up, went there on the Monday, then tried us on Tuesday and decided she liked the other office better. This happened after a series of unsuccessful hires so was the last straw for the poor manager who had to take the rest of the day off, she was so upset.

    This sucks, sadly this is the cost of doing business.

    1. Some Windex for my Glass Ceiling please*

      Ya know, with stunts like this, I have to wonder: isn’t there any thought about how this makes one look to other? Or repercussions down the line?
      Folks DO remember these things.

  38. mark132*

    With the halal thing, I would probably be tempted over time to simply end the lunch option. Not because of the halal needs of one employee, but just because what a pain in the ass it can get too. Some employees will have health dietary restrictions (gluten allergies etc), some will have dietary restrictions because of lifestyle choices (keto etc), others will have restrictions for religion, and some simply won’t like the choices offered. Outside of special occasions just let people bring their own lunch.

  39. agnes*

    If I had a nickel for every “medical emergency” our new hires have had, i would be rich….that’s apparently the new way to quit a job before you start.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Or to lowkey say you don’t want to go through with an interview in our case.

      We had someone email about 15 minutes before her interview was to start. And she asked to reschedule due to a medical emergency. I responded like a human who cares about other humans. “I’m so sorry to hear about that! Yes of course we can reschedule, please let me know when you’re available.” and nothing. Just out of sick curiosity, I reached out a few days later to circle back. Silence. Okay byeeeeee.

  40. The Meow*

    I had a new employee who on his 3rd or 4th day of work just sat on his desk and refused to do any work. Or even go home. He just….played games on his phone and said the job wasn’t right for him. So he didn’t resign but also didn’t leave. I was out all morning and didn’t get the voicemail about him from my team until later. So apparently he just sat there for hours playing games.

    He was genuinely shocked when I told him this was Not Okay as I sent him home. This was way weirder than being ghosted. Like…it’s fine if you want to quit whenever for whatever reason. But not quitting and just not working? WEIRD.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is so bizarre. To be inside that mind for just five minutes because I know I don’t want any longer than that in such a twisted maze.

  41. Seeking Second Childhood*

    A friend in finance in the early 90s had a new guy who didn’t show up his second or third week. They hadn’t gotten emergency contacts from him yet, so after a few days they called his old office sheepishly, to get a family member’s phone number. “Oh, you want BobbyJim? He’s back from vacation, I’ll transfer you over.”
    Seriously, he had taken vacation from one job to “try out” the other!

    1. Anon for me*

      Is it wrong that I think Bobby Jim was really smart to do that? Instead of quitting a job he liked for an “unknown,” he tried it out for a week and went back to his old job!

      But he could’ve at least told the new job it wasn’t working out!

Comments are closed.