company tried to change job offer after I accepted, forwarding a contact’s terrible resume, and more

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

1. Company made me a job offer, then tried to lower the salary

I recently accepted a new job offer, or at least I thought I did. After a few weeks of interviewing, I received the job offer on a Friday afternoon over a phone call with a clear salary and vacation time. I said I was excited for this offer and asked for time to think it over on the weekend. Monday morning I called the director (my direct boss) to ask a few more questions and to clarify if she would send over a written job offer/explanation of the benefits. While discussing, the director asked if I had received another job offer and I said I had, but that I was really excited about this organization. She asked for the salary of the other offer, which I shared ($12k more than this offer). Strangely, she said she wanted to make sure we had the same offer number, as if she had forgotten the offer she made a few days earlier.

That afternoon she sent me an email saying she’d send me the benefits and a written offer first thing in the morning. Except the next email I received from her was asking for my references, with no explanation. I was surprised but quickly shared their information with her. Thursday afternoon I received a written job offer, with a $2k increase in salary but a week decrease in vacation time. So I quickly emailed back thanking her for this and clarifying the vacation discrepancy. The director sent back an updated offer with the correct vacation time and asked to arrange a call for the next morning.

The next morning, we had a phone call on which I accepted the job offer and agreed to a date for my first day. I followed this up with an email expressing my excitement to accept this offer, which she replied to. I gave my notice at my current company that afternoon. The Monday morning after this, the director called me and said this might not be the right “etiquette” but she’s a “straight shooter” and wanted to discuss the salary. She said she was thinking it over and felt that they were bringing me in on the high side so I wouldn’t have much room to grow and instead she was going to offer me $5k less than in the offer letter. I said I was surprised because I had already given my notice and thought we had already agreed on the salary. She said, “Well, with the extra vacation time and your experience, I want to make sure this is your market rate.” I repeated this was actually less than the other offer I had received but I was excited about this organization’s mission. I told her I didn’t want this to harm our working relationship so she should take some time and think over what she would be comfortable with, but she said let’s go back to the original number in the first offer.

I really bought into this nonprofit’s mission during all our discussions, but during this offer process I’ve suddenly seen a lot of red flags. I feel that no matter what the trust has been broken in this working relationship and I’m surprised she would do all this over a matter of a few thousand dollars. I’m a dual citizen, I grew up in the US but have been working in Europe for the past few years. I’m only five years out of school and this is my first time working in the US, so perhaps I unknowingly made a mistake during this process?

Do you think there is a way to re-establish trust or should I just pull out of this and focus on my other applications, even though I already gave my notice?

Whoa. I’d be very wary of moving forward with this job. If you hadn’t already resigned from your current job, I’d tell you definitely not to.

The person you’ll be reporting to isn’t a “straight shooter”; she’s someone who doesn’t keep her word or adhere to normal professional norms like “you can’t change your mind about a salary you already offered and which has been accepted.” Throw in that she (a) previously forgot the number she’d already offered you, (b) asked for references without context when she’d told you she’d be sending a written offer, and (c) sent a written offer that didn’t reflect the terms already offered, and so this doesn’t sound like a weird one-off — it sounds like she’s a disorganized mess about things that really matter. There’s a high chance that working for her won’t be a good experience.

But … you’ve already given notice. Assuming there’s no way to take that back, is that other offer still available and would you want it? If not, another option is to move forward with this one and see how it goes while continuing your search. This organization has already jerked you around, so I wouldn’t fault you for continuing to interview.

And no, you didn’t do anything wrong here.

2. My contact asked me to forward his resume — and it’s terrible

A coworker from a prior company asked me to refer him to my current company (which is hiring like crazy). He and I worked together enough previously that I feel comfortable being a professional reference, so I agreed. We were in shared meetings, he developed technical models my team used, I used to get reports from him, etc. I know he is well regarded by my former employer and can vouch for concrete examples of his work. However, we were never more than friendly acquaintances and peers.

He sent me his resume to circulate but it’s terrible! Think graphic format, a QR code, and half a page of quotes from former coworkers lauding his skills. We work in a very conservative field (finance) where this … is just not done. What do I do? I cringe at the thought of circulating this resume at my current company. I’ve only been there for a year so I’m still building my reputation. He clearly intended to do an out of the box resume, so I feel weird telling him that it’s really bad. I should mention he already formally applied for one role with this resume, and used my contact info as a referral.

You don’t need to tell him it’s bad, but you can tell him it won’t work for your company. You could say, “Hiring managers here are very conservative about resumes and want to see a traditional format — really just chronological work history, no graphics or quotes. Can you send me a more traditional version that I can pass on?” If he balks at that, be clearer that you’re not going to be forwarding this one: “Knowing what I do about how we assess resumes, the current version isn’t one I could circulate, unfortunately, but if you do want to send me a more traditional format, I’d be glad to forward it around.”

3. Firing an employee who’s traveling on business

If I fire an employee that is working on an out of town job, do I have to pay his transportation back home? Or his lodging?

Legally? Probably not. Ethically, you absolutely need to.

You’re thinking of leaving an employee stranded out of town when he’s there for work, and making him pay his own way back? That would be an incredibly crappy thing to do, and it will make other employees who hear about it hate you. And rightly so. He’s there for work, and part of your obligation is to pay to bring him home.

4. My office always forgets my December birthday

I’ve been with my company for five years and I love it. When I joined, my department was tiny. Now we’ve grown to five times the amount of people we had then, which has brought some big changes to perks due to costs and time. Fewer parties (during times that aren’t a pandemic, as we’ve wisely cancelled them all until things are under control), setting up fun activities so they’re done in smaller groups rather than everyone at once (with prior caveat), and no more birthday celebrations. As a team, we all understand those things.

Here’s where my issue comes in — I’m one of those forgotten December birthdays (the 28th, to be specific), and when I say forgotten I mean it literally, as my company (or at least boss and office admins) skipped my birthday every year I’ve been here. I never spoke up, which I know is my fault, because I’d always hoped they’d fix it by the next year. Anyone with a December birthday can attest to how common this is and I’m not a confrontational person, but now that window has seemingly closed.

One the one hand, I don’t feel it’s entirely fair of me to ask for a perk that no longer exists, especially for the people who only joined after that period ended. On the other hand, when it did exist I never got it, and I’m more hurt by that feeling of being forgotten than I’d expect. I don’t want anything that wasn’t given to anyone else certainly, but it would mean a ton to get my card and cupcake that everyone else got several times!

How do I address this? Do I address it? Was this unintentionally unfair treatment, or am I holding onto those childhood woes of “School is closed on my birthday and all my friends are out of town, everyone gets a birthday but me”?

That sucks, but you should let it go.

If they were still doing birthdays, it would make sense to speak up and say something like, “Hey, I don’t know if you know my birthday is December 28. I’ve always been skipped, probably because of the time of year, but I’d love to be included if we can make that happen.” And I wish you’d said that earlier! But you didn’t, and they didn’t catch it and now they’re not doing birthdays anymore. Asking for a special birthday thing just for you is going to come across as putting a strange amount of weight on it. (And really, a card that you have to specifically ask for is not a very satisfying card.)

Let it go, curse December, and vow to speak up next time if you’re getting overlooked for something you want to take part in! You could also bring in cupcakes for your birthday next year if you’re back in the office then and it wouldn’t be weird in your office culture.

{ 389 comments… read them below }

  1. Edwina*

    Letter #3: I’d kind of like to know what the employee was fired FOR. There are certain offenses that would seem to be “pack your things and get out” and that might make a difference. Maybe the LW should pay for the least expensive trip home, but it seems like lodging should be at an end.

    1. PollyQ*

      Hard disagree, even if it was for criminal activity. The person was sent to that location by the company for business reasons. Any expenses should be borne by the company, full stop. If the company wants to bring him back that day, fine, as long as they buy the ticket.

        1. Jackalope*

          Going to add that maybe 20 years ago a friend of mine told me about another company that pulled a stunt like this – fired a number of employees during a downsizing when they were away on a work trip so they didn’t have to pay to get them home, and left them stranded a long ways from home. I have STILL to this day never used that company because I don’t want to give money to someone who would treat their employees like this. I’m certain the company has no idea how far their shenanigans spread or that someone so far removed is boycotting them over it, but it cost them any business I would ever have given them. If you do something like this and word gets out it could damage your company’s reputation in ways you will never learn about but which will be real nonetheless.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            I would never patronize a business that did that anymore either. That’s an incredibly shitty thing to do.

          2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Came here to say this – if I heard of a company that did that, I wouldn’t give them my business, would not apply to work for them, and advise everyone I know to do the same, using the story of the stranded employee as the reason why. The end costs to the company would far outweigh the costs of lodging and transportation. Word travels incredibly fast.

          3. Veryanon*

            Yes, that is a terrible, terrible thing to do. I’ve had to terminate employees who were on business travel, which is definitely not ideal, but I worked with the employee and the issuer of our corporate credit card to make sure they were able to get home before everything was shut off. It’s just the right thing to do.

          4. seisy*

            Something similar happened to my dad once, back in his early days in wine sales. They fired him when he called in after landing in the other place (luckily only a few states over) but still wanted him to bring back the wine samples; he left the boxes of wine circling on the baggage carousel and still occasionally thinks of them just going around and around and laughs a bit to himself.

        2. Bad behavior while traveling*

          Someone I know told me about traveling for work to a distant location along with one of their reports for an event with clients. The employee engaged in terrible behavior while with their manager and clients. The manager had to continue being with this person afterward as they flew home together. It was an uncomfortable journey, but absolutely necessary to get their employee home before terminating them. The employee’s behavior was serious, but to do anything except get them home first would be unconscionable.

      1. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

        As I read, I was thinking, “yeah, you don’t have to have lights or heat in the office either.”
        Oh wait, you do.
        There’s a law.
        Because of people like this, the government had to get involved and make laws stating that you have to have a workspace that will not actively kill your employees.
        Because of people like this, there will be a law stating that you cannot strand your employees out of town, state or country.
        Because of people like this, the government has to legislate corporate responsibility.

      2. WonkyTonk*

        This. Also, it’s in the company’s best interests to ensure that the employee is back before they’re fired. You don’t want a just-fired employee on a client site, or with access to files and technology.

    2. Junior Assistant Peon*

      The LW isn’t giving enough context here. If it’s not a situation where the person needs to be marched out immediately, it’s almost certainly cheaper to keep them on the trip a few more days than to fly them home immediately on a last-minute booking.

      1. WellRed*

        There’s no additional context needed. The company has a responsibility to get this person home, not leave them stranded.

      2. Jennifer*

        I get what you’re asking. Is it a”this person can’t be trusted to have access to our files any longer” situation or a “he’s safe to finish out the week” situation? I do think that either way you have to get him home, but it’s costlier to put him on a last minute flight than to let him come home on the flight that was already booked. Clearly the OP’s company is strapped for cash since they are even considering stranding this person. If this person is just not very good at their job but not untrustworthy, it’s probably better to let him stay on the trip.

        1. LITJess*

          Honestly, if it’s a situation where this employee shouldn’t have access to company information anymore, someone from the company should go to them, fire them in person, and remove access to the information immediately. And still pay the now ex-employee’s way home.

          1. Case of the Mondays*

            This is the way to do it. Even if he was harassing or assaulted another coworker. Fire him immediately and put him on a different flight than the rest of your employees.

            1. Just a thought on this one*

              “Even if he was harassing or assaulted another coworker.”

              When you say assaulted, do you mean “punched,” or do you mean “raped”?

              In my opinion, “You are fired effective immediately. Your hotel and flights have been canceled. We as a company wash our hands of you. Deal with it.”

              …is frankly the *best* outcome a person should be able to expect from, “We just learned you raped a colleague, but unfortunately you are on a business trip at the moment.”

              1. Old Woman in Purple*

                I would think if something criminal like rape was involved, the ‘guilty party’ should be in the custody of the local authorities, which would affect the process of getting said person home….

                1. Just a thought on this one*

                  You take an extremely optimistic view of how sex crimes are treated by the authorities.

                  It’s Christmas Eve so I won’t argue further, but I do suggest you read around a bit starting from the Google search term, “why I didn’t report my rape”.

        2. Colette*

          I don’t see any indication that the company is strapped for cash – there could be other reasons why they don’t want to pay. For example, if the employee was stealing from them and they found out while she was out of town, they might feel like they don’t own her anything else.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I Am Now A Llama, but IMO even if they were stealing/embezzling, you pay for the person to get home, then you sue for the money that was stolen, one has nothing to do with the other. Just like if you get mad at your employee you can’t fire them and withhold their wages for the time already worked, because the firing and the work already done and agreed on are two separate things. And heck, if they botched the business purpose of the trip so badly, maybe you can sue for the costs as something like “wage theft”, but you don’t play judge and jury when it comes to things like that based on a grudge.

          2. Marthooh*

            There is no indication that the company is strapped for cash, or think the employee was stealing, or any other reason besides loving money more than humanity.

        3. Akcipitrokulo*

          Worst case scenario you lock him out of all systems, inform conference/clients he is not longer working for you and should not ba allowed access to building, but let him stay in hotel and take flight home already booked.

          But I’d be inclined to take the hit of a last minute booking expense and get him home on next reasonable transport.

        4. nonegiven*

          Depends how much the hotel cost and how much to feed them vs how much to change the ticket and are they doing any damage to the company in the meantime.

          1. Elizabeth Naismith*

            Agreed. If you can find a flight home that costs less than the continued per diem costs of letting the employee stay, just get them out of there. ASAP.

    3. Dragon_Dreamer*

      I agree the company should pay for the trip home… but I am also VERY curious as to why he’s being fired!

      1. LGC*

        Ditto. Like, the answer doesn’t change at all, but LW3’s question is outrageous enough that I have to wonder why they’re even considering this course of action. I’d be somewhat more sympathetic if there was gross misconduct (or criminal misconduct) involved, but even in those cases…unless you need to stop it literally immediately and the only way to do so is stranding the employee, bring the guy home at least! Cut off his access to work systems if you must, get an emergency flight back home or something, but don’t just leave the guy out in – like – West Covina or something.

        (No offense to West Covina.)

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Yeah the only context I could even MAYBE consider not paying for their travel back is if the situation is something like…you expect them to be arrested any minute in the location where they currently are. In which case, the travel is kind of moot and out of your hands.

          1. Elizabeth Naismith*

            Okay, that’s a valid point. You cannot help your (former) employee flee the jurisdiction. However, if there’s no legal action pending, you do have an obligation to get them home.

    4. No, I don't coach at USC, why do you ask?*

      I am flabbergasted by #3.

      The only context I’ve ever heard of firing someone on a business trip has been pro/college sports, and I always assumed that even then when someone was told “not to fly back with the team” that didn’t mean they were handed their last paycheck on the tarmac.

      1. NYWeasel*

        I heard a story from someone who worked for (Coke? Pepsi?) about this time he and a bunch of managers were taking a business trip and a newly hired, younger manager was traveling with them. They were waiting for their flight and New Hire popped over to the newsstand to grab some water. Whichever brand he bought was the opposite company’s product. There was this intense awkwardness when he got back to the group and they informed him of his error. Even then, they had him take the full trip and waited to fire him until Monday the following week.

        (Note: Yes, both my friend and I think it was overkill to fire the guy for the mistake!)

        1. Good Vibes Steve*

          They fired the guy for basically buying Evian instead of Fiji Water? This is an INSANE reason to fire someone. This should have been a chuckle and reminder to get company products at worst.

            1. Natalie*

              See, that might actually make more sense to me, because you can tell which one is which by the bottle design. But I would have to read the fine print on Fuji to know which brand owns it.

        2. KRM*

          That is insane. Some places have contracts and only sell drinks from one brand. I’m not going to wander all over the airport to find the brand of water my company sells.

          1. yay wednesday*

            And depending on where they were, it’s possible no one in the entire airport might have sold that brand! How many different kinds of newsstands are there in a local airport? The one by me is just one chain, repeated across the place. One chain, one supplier, one brand.

          2. L.H. Puttgrass*

            The Cola Wars are insane. I’m sure there’s something that matches them for pure ratio of intensity of purpose to those involved versus triviality to everyone else, but I can’t come up with anything.

          3. Annony*

            Even without an exclusivity contract, lots of stores don’t want to carry five brands of water. Having both Pepsi and Coke (soda) could be worth it because people can actually taste a difference, but much fewer people are going to complain that Dasani water tastes significantly different than Polar Springs.

          4. Cat Tree*

            And what about the drinks the serve during the flight? Is a Pepsi employee allowed to accept the free half can of Coke they serve?

            1. fhqwhgads*

              Yes, but he’s expected to ask for Pepsi in the first place and then accept Coke as a substitute. (Not joking)

        3. yay wednesday*

          They fired someone for buying another product of bottled water. That’s not just overkill, that’s bananas.

        4. Junior Assistant Peon*

          How’s a newly hired guy supposed to have Coke/Pepsi’s huge list of brands memorized? The guy probably had no idea he just bought the competitor’s water brand.

          1. pleaset cheap rolls*

            It says on the bottles in small print.

            And yes, I think people working at those companies should know. I’d certainly would.

            I’m not saying it’s reasonable to fire the guy, but this is pretty basic info for someone working at those companies.

            1. Quill*

              I mean, it depends how insular the new team he worked for was compared to other brands. Pepsi and coke both own a LOT of products and even more through companies they consumed, and the water and soda beverage snorkelers may not always be too aware of each other’s activities.

            2. A*

              Ya, agreed that this is insane and overkill – but the general expectation of a new employee knowing the brand umbrella is not unreasonable or unusual. Having spent the majority of my career working in the beverage CPG industry (including working closely with both behemoths listed above) and it just comes with the territory. Unless the employee is coming into a truly entry level position, the expectation is that this would have been researched prior to them even applying for a large number of reasons including potential conflicts of interest, ability to leverage existing professional networks and connections, ability to identify supply chain commonalities across the brands for possible consolidation cost savings etc.

              It was surprising to me as well when I first started, but it is indeed a thing.

          2. RC Rascal*

            Having worked for these kinds on companies, they teach you this one day one. Buying the competition’s stuff in front of your co-workers is a really big deal.

            1. Quill*

              I mean, it may be standard, but it’s still insane. Are employees expected to only go to fast food establishments that have contracts with their company to avoid buying the competitor’s soda? We’re idealogically barreling towards people getting paid in company scrip if we’re paying that much attention to basic food and hydration choices, especially ones made under time pressure

              1. Elizabeth Naismith*

                If there is nothing else available, you can sometimes get away with it. But you do have to ask first if they carry your brand. And even then, if you’re on a business trip (ie representing the company) it’s usually better to stick with tap water.

              2. Random observation*

                It’s perfectly acceptable to ask FMCG employees, when working on company time, to use the company’s products, rather than a competitor’s. I wouldn’t fire someone for slipping up on this on a first offense, or in the context of an airport store where nothing else was available, but it’s common sense to promote your own company’s products.

          3. Maggie*

            I mean, the story is insane and I have a hard time even believing it, but if you work for a beverage company you sorta need to know the brands you sell!

        5. Richard Hershberger*

          Also, did New Hire even know the full suite of brands each company owned? He might have been aware that he shouldn’t buy a Pepsi while working for Coke, but not know which brands of water were which.

        6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Corporate America has officially gone off the deep end. Yep, it was overkill, to put it mildly.

          1. Liz*

            I’m so relieved I wasn’t the only one completely stunned by this story. I am neither American, nor have a ever worked for a corporation. I’ve known friends who worked for big private sector employers, but never at a high level, and the only comments that were ever made if they patronised a rival were along the lines of “lol! Traitor!” in a jokey way. I can’t imagine working for someone who genuinely felt entitled to police my personal spending choices.

        7. IL JimP*

          when I worked for Coke you could definitely be fire for drinking Pepsi products or visiting a restaurant that used Pepsi while in uniform

      2. Jennifer*

        It reminded me of James Comey. He found out he was fired when he was on the other side of the country and there was debate over whether or not the government would pay for his transportation him. They did. But the fact that there was even a debate is terrible.

        1. Doc in a Box*

          When the govt shuts down, employees who are on business trips or on annual leave but are designated essential have to return home immediately on their own dime. I grew up near DC, and many of my friends have had their vacations unexpectedly cut short due to political machinations. The current stimulus package is also the government funding bill, so any feds on leave right now (i.e. most) are pretty anxious right now.

        2. Heidi*

          I was also reminded of James Comey. I gather that the issue was not just leaving him to find his way back to DC, but whether or not he could have his security detail stay with him. Which means that someone had to actually explain the national security implications of having the director of the FBI traveling across the country with no protection.

        3. Observer*

          Yeah, but this is government, home of ridiculous spending rules.

          I mean there is guidance on the Federal level that agencies should not buy tissues for staff because they are for “personal use”. Anyone who has ever had to deal with government spending rules has probably had a story (or 10) about some particularly insane rule.

          And, even in government, they paid his fare back home.

      3. EPLawyer*

        Oh yeah, back as recently as the 70s (so post players’ union which only came into being in 1974/75 ish?) if you were cut by the team during a road trip, you were CUT. Getting home was your problem.

        That is no longer the case. They usually wait to cut players/coaches when the team is back home. But even if they do it on the road, they do fly the player back home.

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          In nearly every pro sport – they don’t “cut a player when they’re on the road”.

          The NFL teams fly to a locale for a road game, and fly back immediately after that. A firing or release is done the next day.

          Unless there’s a trade, an NBA player won’t be “cut” (fired) on the road.

          MLB has a complex process involved with “cutting a player” – it’s called designation for assignment. And it’s a process over several days.

          But now with players’ associations they don’t just dump a guy at a train station.

    5. Pretzelgirl*

      I disagree as well. While we don’t know why this person was fired, they still need to bring them back on the company’s dime. The company doesn’t know this person’s finances. What if the lodging and flights equal out to a $1k? I could never just shell that out. I would be screwed.

    6. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Especially leaving them stranded during a pandemic! If it was a criminal offended, then let the local law enforcement handle it but arrange for them to get home. What if they were in another country?

      1. D*

        It is wrong no matter where it happened – but I don’t see how “being in another country” had much to do with it.

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          Firing someone doing site work abroad might have rather extreme consequences, as visa are often tied to the employment status. If my company should fire me while working in the US, my L-1 visa would automatically become invalid. In that case I’d have to have another visa (B1/B2, which I have) or be extradited – a severe consequence as this would make it harder to get a visa in the future.
          Anyway, firing someone and leaving them stranded is a shitty move. In cases like firing a C-suite employee caught embezzling on a large scale while commanding a 7-figure salary, a very weak maybe, otherwise it’s a clear no-no.

        2. Ace in the Hole*

          Because in your home country, you presumably…

          – Have legal right to stay in the country indefinitely
          – Fluently speak the local majority language
          – Are familiar with travel options, booking, and routes back home
          – Have access to your ordinary banking and phone services
          – Are able to access your funds without exchanging currency
          – Will not have to take a trans-oceanic flight to return home
          – Etc…

          I’m not saying it’s okay by any means no matter what country the person is in, but certainly being abroad imposes much more serious hurdles than stranding someone domestically in any given scenario.

          1. Quoth the Raven*

            You’re also not spending in a different exchange rate, which can be absolutely devastating depending on where you are.

      2. Annony*

        I guess I could see the argument of not paying if they missed their original flight because they were arrested. In that instance the company did pay and it is the employees fault they missed the flight. Still crappy but I can at least see a reasonable argument.

    7. MK*

      I understand where you are coming from, I would chaff at having to pay for transportation (and possibly living) costs for someone who, say, had been stealing from the company for years or has assaulted a coworker. But I agree with everyone else that the employer has a responsibility to bring even a fired employee home.

      1. Dr. Strangelove*

        Ha, my company has an employee who on two occasions has nearly started a fistfight in the office. He’s not been fired because he and the CEO supposedly have compromising material on each other.

      2. Jennifer*

        Yeah I think that if the OP had expounded on the details a bit, people might be a little more sympathetic. But maybe they couldn’t give more details for privacy reasons, who knows?

        I still think that unless the employee did something so terrible that they are going to be locked up without bail for the foreseeable future, you gotta pay to bring them home.

    8. Narise*

      My husband experienced the other side of the issue OP3 is experiencing. He managed a sales teams that drove company vehicles up to several hours away. He had an employee call and state he was quitting and leaving the company vehicle with all their product in this town 5 hours away. My husband calmly explained that whatever happened to the truck and/or inventory would be the employees responsibility and they would pursue him legally for anything damaged or missing. Employee brought the truck back. My husband never would have left anyone stranded without a way home but he also wouldn’t let company property be left to be stolen either.

      1. Observer*

        Yeah, your husband was totally reasonable here. The ex-employee was NOT.

        I suspect that your husband felt like saying “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” But he needed the stuff to come back.

    9. Ray Gillette*

      The thing I’m curious about is how did they end up in the situation in the first place? They decided to send the employee on the trip, and now they’re considering firing him. Did he do something truly egregious while on the trip? That’s the only scenario I can think of where this make sense. If he was already on the brink of being fired, why did they send him instead of someone who wasn’t on thin ice? If what happened is they uncovered a previously-undiscovered but firable offense in his absence, they can most likely have him finish the trip as normal and fire him when he gets back.

      1. Mango Is Not For You*

        I had to fire someone on a work trip once – a new hire, young guy, out on his first work trip. He got VERY drunk during a business dinner, left the hotel later, got into a fight at a bar, assaulted a woman, and was arrested. It was bad. Before I bailed him out, I contacted our IT team in the wee hours of the morning to revoke access to all of his accounts and had the hotel staff let me into his room so I could collect his work materials, badge, and laptop. Our travel coordinator booked him a flight home on the CEO’s company card. As soon as he was out, I informed him that he was fired and handed him his travel information. I allowed him to keep his company phone temporarily, as it was the only one he had with him, and informed him that he needed to return it to our office within 3 days or I’d file a police report. He was absolutely mortified at the situation and asked for another chance, but, lol, NO.

        Other than a scenario like that, no, I probably wouldn’t fire someone while they were traveling, and I certainly would never leave them stranded.

          1. Observer*

            I would think it would be easier for the company to close everything out more cleanly and quickly – get him home, then let him deal with the issues transportation for trial etc. instead of waiting around till he gets out one way or another.

          2. Mango Is Not For You*

            Our company allowed me to pay the bond using my company card (this was a while ago, but I think it was ~$800). I don’t think we would have needed to pay bail for the drunk and disorderly charge, but the assault charge required bail and he had to travel back later for a court appearance. By then, of course, he was no longer with our company. I’m not sure if we ever made him pay back the bond amount, but I’m sure that the company felt it was in our best interest to make a clean break at that moment rather than bring him home and have our legal team spend time trying to sort it out. There were plenty of witnesses to this behavior, and when I told HR that he needed to be terminated immediately, they agreed completely.

      2. Partly Cloudy*

        Yeah, I’ve seen it happen. The person was fine going into the trip and then acted the fool on the first night of the trip and was fired the next day. The company did get the person home though.

    10. Quill*

      Their minimum obligation is to get him home if he needs it, and not kick him out of wherever he’s staying prior to that. I’m also concerned because you would think travel home, especially this year, would already be arranged for finance and safety reasons.

    11. dr hibbert*

      One of my clients (I’m a lawyer) did this!

      He owns a construction firm that subcontracts out on jobs all over the region, and puts the guys up in a motel when they are working out of town. One night the whole crew went to a local bar, one of his employees got hammered, was being escorted out of the bar, turned around and punched the (female) bartender. She either broke her jaw or lost a tooth, I can’t remember which (or I heard both from the rest of the crew).

      My client got a call at 3:00 am from the jail, with this guy asking for bail money. That was a hard no. The guy made bail two days later, my client had another member of the crew drop his stuff off at the jail, and told him he could figure out his own way home and that his services were no longer necessary.

  2. Jaybeetee*

    LW1: Funny, the things people say about themselves when they’re invested in us believing them.

    No genuinely nice guy in the history of genuinely nice guys has ever actually referred to himself as a Nice Guy.

    Someone referring to themselves as a “straight shooter” is someone to be wary of most of the time. Someone who tells you they’re a “straight shooter” while doing something *extremely* not straight-shooter, sounds like someone I wouldn’t want to work for.

    Our positive traits genuinely stand on their own – you don’t need to declare them if they’re apparent.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Someone referring to themselves as a “straight shooter” is someone to be wary of most of the time.

      I once worked with someone who would always say this about herself, and she was one of the biggest liars I’ve ever seen. She was also gossipy and petty as hell. There was nothing “straight” about her – unless she meant she spewed straight bullshit all day, which I would believe. Needless to say, her direct reports did NOT like her and talked about her like a dog when she wasn’t around. I kept a close eye on her when I was volunteered to assist her team because I never knew what kind of foolishness she would try to rope me into or tell my boss about my work.

    2. Good Vibes Steve*

      Reminds me of an acquaintance who regularly loudly proclaimed that she *hated drama*, while being the single source of 90% of the office drama.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I had a coworker in my first job, that I also roomed with (employer-assigned living arrangement), who told me on the first day of meeting her that she had “a man’s mind”, whatever that meant. Our work was a 30 min walk from where we lived, and we would walk to work together every morning, only for my roommate to criticize every woman we walked past; their clothes, their looks, their gait. We were both new to this workplace, it was our both first job out of college, and she’d never even met any of those people. It kind of struck me as the opposite of what people in those (pretty sexist) time and place usually meant when they said someone had a man’s mind. (To be fair, by this point in my life, I have met both men and women like that. No gender has a monopoly on being gossipy and backstabbing.)

      2. Cat Tree*

        That’s exactly where my mind went. If I’m on a date with a man who describes himself as drama-free, that’s a red flag. But usually there are plenty of other red flags to go along with that one.

        Oh, and we can’t forget the people who describe themselves as “logical” so they never have to listen to anyone who disagrees with them.

      3. In my shell*

        @Good Vibes ALWAYS, always, always that’s the case; I’ve literally never known an exception. If drama truly isn’t on your radar then you won’t be making proclamations about it!

    3. oes*

      I actually think these people have been told in the past that they exhibit bad tendencies & are trying to shift focus. So boss in Letter 1 has probably been asked to be more of a straight shooter and thinks such declarations deflect these criticisms. I have a colleague who repeatedly declared she wasn’t fussy about things before she started her job and no sooner set foot in the office when she started to make all sorts of demands (which have never ended, alas).

    4. Paul*

      When people describe others as straight shooters, it’s always a compliment and you can probably believe it.
      When people describe THEMSELVES as straight shooters, run.

    5. SheLooksFamiliar*

      ‘No genuinely nice guy in the history of genuinely nice guys has ever actually referred to himself as a Nice Guy.’

      Yep. And I know people who claim to hate ‘playing games’ but they are the most manipulative game players I know.

    6. Trek*

      Straight shooter usually means ‘I’m saying something you don’t like but I’ve warned you so you shouldn’t be upset.’ There is also the underlying implication that the statement is for their benefit not the person saying it but that’s never the case.

      1. Artemesia*

        Certain phrases are reliable. e.g. ‘he has a perfect right to . . .’ ALWAYS refers to something the person should not do or is a giant weasel for doing. (no one every says ‘he has a perfect right to donate to the homeless shelter.’ ‘Make no mistake about it, we will not stand for. . .’ by a politician always means ‘I am about to cave on this. ‘Frankly’ and ‘honestly’ usually mean ‘I am lying now’

        1. Cat Tree*

          When I hear about the perfect right to do something, I always think that if the best defense you can come up with for this action is that it’s not explicitly illegal, I remain unconvinced.

        2. Ace in the Hole*

          Eh… I will use “perfect right to” when defending someone’s actions from unnecessary/inappropriate criticism. Some examples: “He has a perfect right to ask for his religious holidays off even if it inconveniences you, just the way you get Christmas off,” “She has a perfect right to file a police report against that guy, no matter what she was wearing at the time,” “She has a perfect right to protest in front of the courthouse, whether you agree with her or not.” “I have a perfect right to not show up for family celebrations where [Awful Relative] is present.”

          Sometimes that’s all there is to say about it. They have a right to do X, whether or not the criticizer likes, and I’d rather shut down the argument fast than engage with terrible people being terrible towards someone who doesn’t deserve it.

          1. Elizabeth Naismith*

            Same here. I do use that phrase occasionally, when pointing out that someone is making an unreasonable demand or assumption, that the other party has a perfect right to their request. They have a right to be paid on time. They have a right to be paid according to contract. They have a right to take FMLA leave and deal with family issues. They have a right to be treated like a human being, and not a source of all your complaints and verbal abuse.

      2. tangerineRose*

        I was also thinking “straight shooter” usually means “You won’t like what I’m about to say.” or “I don’t have a lot of tact.”

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        With all due respect, here is an offensive opinion I hold about you.

        “Straight Shooters” are the same people who are unnecessarily mean a-holes who hide behind “honesty is the best policy.”

        1. In my shell*

          Cue the righteous indignation and inevitable “I’m brutally honest that’s who I am / and XYZ can’t handle the truth”

    7. DiscoCat*

      Oh man, just like countries with “democratic” in their official names are mostly under the thumb of some totalitarian and murderous dictator/ puppet government.
      I once had a boss who announced at an all-staff meeting that she couldn’t have become a medical doctor because she has too much compassion and empathy… It wasn’t easy to keep a straight face, we all studiously avoided looking at each other because that lady was a sadistic fury from hell who regularly sought out someone to pick on, deliberately seeking out weaknesses and sticking it to them over and over again. Compassion and empathy, my arse!

    8. Tobias Funke*

      This was literally part of the sex talk I got when I was 11 from my dad. He said when someone tells me “I’m being honest” to immediately assume they are full of straight up BS.

      1. Dream Jobbed*

        I am too, but then I read stories about an employee punching a bartender and breaking her jaw, I’m more inclined to think some terrible employee behavior might be behind it. Just not enough details to say, but the tone seemed like “I just don’t wanna.”

  3. fhqwhgads*

    This “straight shooter” really means “I’ll tell you every shitty thought that pops into my head without thinking about whether it’s reasonable or logical or polite”.

    1. Jaybeetee*

      Or a liar. Contacting someone after an offer has been made and accepted going “Oopsy, wrong salary!” sounds decidedly… not straight-shooter. A straight shooter would have this conversation before the offer stage.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Exactly. Alison’s interpretation of this person as “disorganized” seems awfully generous – to me, this sounds more like someone who knows exactly what they are doing and is trying to pull a bait and switch on OP#1. An actual “straight shooter” would say “look, I/we made a mistake in our first conversation/offer letter, it should have been X and here’s the updated offer letter.”

        So many red flags here. If this is how they treat you BEFORE you actually are hired OP, I fear that it only will get worse once you actually start working there. I have a bad feeling that after all this jerking around, who’s to say that it won’t get “revised” down again when OP gets their first paycheck. Or that the job description or job title gets changed once OP starts.

        I’m sorry this seems to be falling apart for you OP – but if you have other options you should NOT take this one. Or if you really need to take this job since you resigned your current job, take it and immediately keep looking to move on. And don’t let them give you any guilt about it – once they started changing their end of the bargain, you shouldn’t feel bad about not holding up your end of it.

        And no, this is not normal behavior in the US. I’m sorry to say it isn’t completely unheard of, and so far they haven’t done anything technically illegal – but given how few worker protections we currently have in the US, “not technically illegal” is a really low bar and it sounds like OP can do better elsewhere.

        1. Artemesia*

          This. The OP should do whatever they need to do to survive this. If they can stay where they are, good. If they have another better offer, good. If they are stuck with this one, they should take it and squeeze every drop they can out of it while looking for another job and have no qualms about leaving these people in the lurch two weeks, two months, or 6 months from now, whenever they get another good offer.

      1. Jaybeetee*

        My other favourite is “rational”. But that’s getting ranty about people I used to know and a type of intellectual bullying I used to fall for.

        1. Quill*

          Much like anyone who advertises themselves as an “innovator” is, at best, exaggerating, and don’t get me started on “thought leader” which is a phrase I heard a real human voice say recently.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Are you sure they weren’t actually an isopod piloting a human meatsuit and clumsily attempting to take over the world?

        2. Tobias Funke*

          I see you’ve met my ex. Rational means anything he thinks, and irrational means anything I think. Because he’s rational, you see.

  4. Black Horse Dancing*

    Wow, OP#3, yes, you pay their way back. Bring them home and explain why they are being fired. They are out of town because of work.

  5. germank106*

    Morally you should pay this employees way home regardless of how egregious their shortcomings are. I’d be interested to know what they have done for you to ask this question. I have had employees that purposely sabotaged a job, theft and lying about having completed an out of town assignment when they didn’t. Most of those things didn’t come out of nowhere though, there were plenty of red flags before the firing offense happened.

  6. Uldi*

    #3: Unless you want to be the only one doing all the traveling for your company for the rest of the time you’re there, I wouldn’t do that. Recall them immediately and book the soonest flight back, then fire them. If you cut them off, every other employee will know you could do it to them, too. None of them are going to be willing to travel for you from that point on, and every new hire you bring on board will be swiftly informed of what you did.

    1. Allonge*

      Exactly! Even if the person has been arrested for serious crimes, don’t do this – the story always will be ‘LW / company fired a person while on a work trip and did not care how they got back home’. How much money are you saving, anyway?

      Also: do you want to keep being in touch with this employee? Is it not better if they, once home, pick up their stuff and just leave forever?

    2. cncx*

      yup, i had someone at a previous company who deserved to be fired but also got fired in similar circumstances and believe me everyone remembered that more than the stuff he did to get fired

      1. yay wednesday*

        This. “Why that person got fired” is different from “how the company then chose to fire them”. A person can really really really do bad, but that doesn’t justify the company pulling this kind of thing on them.

    3. Marzipan Shepherdess*

      This – just this!
      Just from a purely self-interested point of view, the LW’s company SHOULD pay for their employee’s lodging and transportation home – for the sake of their company’s reputation. LW3, do you really want the next Google search for your company’s name to yield a blistering account by a furious ex-employee of how your company left him stranded just for spite?? Your company will be named, blamed and shamed – and rightly so! – if they pull that stunt. (And OF COURSE there are ethical reasons not to do this, but any company that would even consider it is unlikely to be moved by ethical arguments. Greed is NOT good, but sometimes it’s the only thing that will persuade people immune to any other motivation!)

    4. Quill*

      Yeah, I guarantee that stranding someone elsewhere, possibly leaving them temporarily homeless if you’re cutting current housing, during a pandemic, will get you a late entry into 2020’s worst boss rankings.

    5. HD*

      I don’t want to be unfair to this LW if there’s more to the story than what they gave here, but I’m surprised by how shortsighted some employers are about things like this. It really doesn’t seem to bother them how this would look to their employees; they’re usually just seeing a situation where they might be able to save some money and wondering why they shouldn’t do it.

  7. Phil*

    I, too, have a December birthday but nobody forgets it-New Year’s Eve. I was known for years as Daddy’d Little Deduction. Holiday birthdays were big in my family: Mother was St. Valentine’s day, father was the real Columbus Day and, showing God has a sense of Irony, Evil Grandma Esther was April Fool’s Day and the joke was on us.

    1. Casper Lives*

      Ha! That’s great.

      I had a friend who’s birthday was 2 days after Christmas and her brother’s was on Halloween. We wondered what holidays any other siblings would’ve been born on if there were more.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My sister was born right after Dad’s birthday, my brother right after mom’s, and I was born at Christmastime.

        1. Ada*

          My dad and my maternal grandmother share the same birthday, and I missed having the same birthday as them by less than an hour. So for the longest time, my knee-jerk response to someone wishing me a happy birthday was “You too!”

      2. EPLawyer*

        My two nephews’ birthdays are December 26. Yep both of them. Yes they are brothers, not cousins. I told my little brother when his second son was born — Pick. Another. Day. He said he was going for the 2 for 1 special at Chuck E. Cheese.

        I try very hard to send a Christmas present and a Birthday present (this year got a little messed up because time has no meaning and their birthdays slipped my mind so …. Auntie is late this year with the birthday presents).

        1. Kelly L.*

          Not a holiday birthday, but my sister managed to have one of her kids on her birthday and the other during the week of her birthday. They knock out all the birthday stuff at once every year!

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I have friends who’s eldest son was born on the dad’s birthday, and then their twins were born ten days after, so four of the five of them have birthdays within two weeks.

            My brother’s wife had her daughter (before we knew her) and hers-and-my-brother’s son on the same day, 11 years apart. Niece had been going back and forth for a couple weeks on whether she wanted to share her birthday. 11:30pm, brother’s wife said “Look, you gotta decide now whether you want to share your birthday or not, and I’ll do my best to comply.” Niece said yes please, they kicked out everyone except the doc and my brother and got to pushing, and nephew was born at 11:53pm.

        2. Quill*

          My little cousin always complains to her mom that after having a mid december birthday, mama should have known better than to strand her between christmas and new years.

          I barely dodged valentines day myself, and another cousin was born on ground hog’s day and has been asked if she’s seen her shadow, without fail, for the last 20 or so years.

        3. Nicki Name*

          One of my grandmothers was born a few minutes after midnight on December 26. I’ve always suspected the medical people may have set the clock a bit fast to avoid some Christmas birthdays.

    2. CozyDetectiveCrafter*

      I’m also from a family of holiday birthdays: I was born on thanksgiving, my sister was born on July 4th, my other sister born on Father’s Day, my brother, mlk jr day, and cousins range from halloween to Christmas to valentines. My bday typically gets swept into vacation days at my company, but I honestly don’t mind.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        No Kidding! I was born on Thanksgiving too! And my mom’s birthday sometimes falls or Memorial day. My sister was 10 days away from Halloween.

        1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

          My birthday is at the tail end of March, and it’s bern known to fall on Easter. Not often though. Maybe 3 times, tops, in my entire life, so far, lol.

    3. Former Teacher*

      My family as well! I have a brother born on July 4th, and for YEARS my parents told him everybody celebrated his birthday & the fireworks were for him!!

    4. Feline*

      New Year’s Eve club here, too. You have to roll with it. I decided, ages ago, to reframe it in my head that if no one knows it’s my birthday, I never have to get any older. Turn something that kind of stinks in some ways into a win.

      1. Phil*

        I went out for years with someone who was born on New Year’s Eve. And you never have to organize a party, there’s one ready made!

    5. Lizy*

      Mine was yesterday. I’m weird about birthdays, so no one at my current office knew.

      Of our 4 kids, one’s on Anne Frank’s birthday (we have Jewish heritage on my husband’s side), 2nd is on my husband’s birthday, 3rd is on my dad’s would-have-been 80th birthday, and 4th is on my best friend’s birthday. When I went to get prenatal care for #4 I flat-out said “it’s a boy and it’ll be born on X day” and they were like “suuuurreeee”. They were really surprised when it turned out to be a boy on X day. Told ya so.

      Oh – and both of my grandfathers and one aunt are all on the same day in September.

    6. Jennifer Strange*

      I’m a St. Patrick’s Day baby myself. Thankfully it’s not that big a holiday that I get lost in the shuffle.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I’m a Mother’s Day baby, but here’s the kicker: my b-day only occasionally falls on that Sunday due to leap years and what not. I was born on Mother’s Day Sunday back in ‘87 and have actually only celebrated my birthday on that Sunday a handful of times since (in ‘92, ‘98, 2009, 2015, and this year).

        1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

          That’s the way it works with holidays that fall on a particular day of the week as opposed to a specific date. I’m a Thanksgiving baby, and there’s a pattern: It’s a 28-yr cycle where the same date will fall on the same day of the week. Depending on where you start the cycle it will be 11yrs, 6yrs, 5yrs, 6yrs (or 6 5 6 11 or 5 6 11 6, or 6 11 6 5). The only exception to this is for years that end in 00 when leap year is skipped and it messes up the cycle.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            We’re lucky in that most of the time, we get our day to ourselves! Lol, I would hate to have my birthday on a major holiday every year. On the rare occasion that it happens now, I feel some kind of way because people inevitably forget it because I’m not a mother!

    7. DarthVelma*

      I wasn’t born on New Year’s Eve…but I was born almost exactly 9 months later. My parents got teased for years about everyone knowing what they got up to that night. :-)

    8. Nicki Name*

      I know someone with the same birthday, and they got the same crack about the last-minute tax deduction as a kid!

      One of my current teammates was born on Christmas. They say it sucked as a kid, but as an adult they appreciate it because they always get their birthday off.

    9. DarnTheMan*

      I had a friend growing up who, I kid you not, had the last name Christmas, was born on December 25th… and was Jewish so didn’t celebrate Christmas except for as her birthday.

    10. Loves libraries*

      August 16 birthday here. As a child, it was in the middle of the summer and had small birthday parties. As an adult, I work at a school and it’s the first week of school and the other faculty members are so overwhelmed with the beginning of school that I don’t worry about it anymore. My family knows to make it special for me.

  8. WS*

    #5 As a December baby myself, I feel you! But I think the time to address this has passed – nobody’s doing birthday things at your company anymore. You should definitely get yourself that cupcake, though!

    1. Job Carousel*

      Agreed, get yourself that cupcake!

      Most of the places I’ve worked at haven’t celebrated employee birthdays, but I too remember the sting of working in one place for five years with about 15-20 coworkers, where we traditionally went out for lunch, coffee, or ice cream for someone’s birthday (where everyone was expected to pay their own way). My birthday (which is in April, and not around any major holidays) went unacknowledged/forgotten several times. Basically we all shared our birthdays and other info when getting hired, and then it was one person’s job to be the “social chair” who emailed the team to coordinate celebrations — birthdays, going away dinners, etc. — and depending on who this person was at any given time, certain celebrations could conveniently “slip their mind.” I’m really glad I don’t work there anymore, for this and many other reasons.

      But, one lesson I’ve learned through this bad job experience — it can be a great feeling to treat yourself especially when no one else remembers. If you’re celebrating your birthday by yourself this year (with the pandemic and all), you can find a fancy bakery in town (preferably one that offers contactless pickup/delivery!) and treat yourself to a fancy cupcake or pastry, or a bouquet of flowers, or anything else that brings you joy.

      1. Nicki Name*

        This! Not being able to celebrate with anyone outside my household this year was definitely assuaged somewhat by having a gourmet cheesecake all to myself. (Mr. Name doesn’t like cheesecake, his loss.)

      2. LW4*

        I am absolutely getting myself that cupcake! Found a place I love and everything.

        It sounds like you left a bad one – at least I know my issue was unintentional (I have a great relationship with my manager, and this happened with two office managers), knowing someone was intentionally forgetting would be terrible for everyone’s morale. That definitely sounds like the kind of thing that’s a cultural warning sign.

    2. Frieda*

      I’m a February birthday and the practice in my workplace is to circulate a card (usually my boss’s admin, who seems to be in charge of, and is maybe the creator of, this process emails everyone else to remind them to come sign.) I’ve never gotten a card. I don’t really care, as I would read it and then eventually recycle it and it’s not a big deal – but you would think that the person in charge of the “make work a little nicer” gesture would compare her list of people who are supposed to come sign cards with her list of people who have birthdays.

      1. M_Lynn*

        My only suggestion to resolve this would be changing up the birthdays celebration process. You could suggest a running list of birthdays that everyone has access to, or assign staff to be the POC for getting a card or now making a ppt where everyone writes a message. My last job was on a team of 30, we had Birthday Buddies who were in charge of circulating a card. We had a list so everyone knew in advance when they were on call to arrange it. Making it more democratic system change is the only way I can see making this a change.

    3. ObserverCN*

      At a company I used to work for, we had cake at the start of the month for all the employees with birthdays that month. That was a nice way to include everyone and not spend too much time on celebrations.

      Regarding family birthdays, my dad’s birthday sometimes falls on Father’s Day and is six days later than my mom’s birthday, so we usually celebrate all three things together. (And my boyfriend was born between Christmas and New Year’s, so this year we’ll probably wait until January to have a party.)

  9. Jackalope*

    Question for LW #1. It sounds like you had another job offer with a different employer. If I’m understanding that correctly, could you contact them and see if they’re still interested in hiring you?

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      I would do exactly this. This director is already showing herself to be untrustworthy, so I wouldn’t go through with that job if I had an equally good (or better) alternative.

    2. LW #1*

      Thanks for the question! I had told the other offer no, then reached out after this happened. The hiring manager there is on holidays already, but hopefully I will hear from them before the new year!

    3. Firecat*

      Hard agree.

      OP you need to believe what this org is telling you about themselves. They are willing to change the terms of your employment after you quit and do active harm to you. They don’t care about you and never will. Also unless this place is so small it lacks an hr, then at the very least hr is also on board with this maneuver.

      Having left a place that pulled similar stunts, this will not be the only time they jerk you around or cost you money.

      That vacation? Watch it go away in a few months due to “cuts”. That salary? Watch them pay you wrong from the get go and after you fight it a year tell you it’s time to deal with it or move on.

      Been there done that burnt the T-shirt. Do not work there if you can at all avoid. I’m curious what their glassdoor says. If it’s plastered with – management is untrustworthy’s theirs your answers.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Yup, I really want to know what happened with the other offer and I hope the LW updates us!

    5. Khatul Madame*

      Take the other offer, LW1. It may be less exciting, but an unexciting gig is so much better than a job where you’re cheated and lied to. Add the salary difference, and it becomes a no-brainer.
      Should the other offer fall through, you might consider staying with your current employer until you find something else. Given that you received 2 offers in December, a notoriously difficult month for hiring, you should do just as well next month. DO NOT go to work for that person.

  10. Anongineer*

    LW#1 – My interpretation of your letter is that you currently have a job (that you resigned from), you had the nonprofit job offer, and you had another offer. If you still have the other offer, I would strongly consider taking that option. You would be able to avoid working for this director who has either lied about multiple items or is really that disorganized, and it’s more money! Everything she has shown you in the offer process is just red flag after red flag, and would make me very cautious to want to go work for her. (And in my worst case scenario brain, who’s to say she wouldn’t lower the salary after hiring you? But that’s my pessimism at work and hopefully not reality)

    1. Bostonian*

      Even if she didn’t lower it, she’s pretty much guaranteed OP will never get a raise since the salary is starting at the “high” end. Plus she seems salty about that “extra” week of vacation, so in her mind OP is already getting Too Good of a deal.

      1. Lucy Day*

        I wonder if OP will even be allowed to take the “extra” vacation or if this manager will continuously deny it citing a busy period or that the OP already took a week off and needs to be a team player. This boss cannot be trusted under any circumstances.

  11. Dodubln*

    So call me…I don’t know what…but LW#4 has me questioning something about myself. I don’t want any recognition at my workplace that it is my birthday. Is this unusual? I have seen a few letters at AAM where the LW is not happy that their birthday or work anniversary has not been acknowledged to their satisfaction by their workplace Whereas I just don’t want any of that from my workplace. Is there anyone else like me out there? Or am I the anomaly here?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Nah, you’re not an anomaly! Some people really put value on it, other people don’t want it at all, and probably the largest group of people don’t care a ton either way.

      1. dodubln*

        Good to know, thanks! Don’t want to be seem like the killjoy, but really don’t want any acknowledgement either.

        1. Product Person*

          At my company, you are asked whether you want your birthday shared or not. Those who share it are acknowledged via Slack. I opted not to and was the only person on my team not to get birthday wishes, which suits me fine!

      2. OtterB*

        I really liked the way a former employer handled this kind of thing. They had many issues, but they were right on this one. The tradition was, if you wanted to celebrate an event – your birthday, earning a certification of some kind, whatever – you brought treats and let people know they were in the kitchen.

        This was the same employer where my boss (the head of the organization) told me shortly after I was hired that he had a standing policy that anyone who arranged a surprise party for him would be fired on the spot.

        They did organize an in-office baby shower for me. I was the first employee ever to have a baby while working for them.

      3. Me*

        You know, while I totally will tell people it’s my birthday now, I had a job once where I absolutely didn’t want anyone to know it was my birthday.

        The reason?

        The director would call people’s parents on their birthday and ask for stories about their births.

        On speakerphone.

        In the conference room.

        While we all sat eating cake.

        Luckily for me, I was just a summer intern, so even though my birthday was right in the middle of my time working there, I just…didn’t mention it, and hoped they assumed my birthday was in the winter or something. Because that whole ritual sounded like an exercise in employee humiliation and what not to do.

    2. MinotJ*

      I’m with you. At my current job, I discovered that they did birthday celebrations soon after I arrived. Luckily my supervisor was very understanding when I told her privately that I wanted no part of that tradition. My birthday came and went just as I wanted it, with no mention whatsoever.

      1. BookishMiss*

        Yep, as far as my job is concerned, I don’t have a birthday. It’s a place that is BIG on celebrating, but they are all fine about respecting my wishes. No one really even notices that mine never comes up, and if they do, I reply with a breezy, “oh, I don’t have a birthday,” and we move on with our day.

      2. dodubln*

        I have been at my current job for almost 25 years, and it was maybe in the last 10 years I finally got my boss/coworkers to understand that I absolutely did not want any sort of celebration, food, party, or gifts. Bless their hearts, but at the same time….please stop!

    3. LW4*

      It’s definitely not weird – we actually sent out a survey at my company asking if people wanted to be acknowledged. Most of us did because we’re like that, but certainly not everyone. Alas, now it’s time to move on!

    4. alienor*

      I had a direct report for a few years who didn’t want their birthday acknowledged. At the time, it was standard to decorate the birthday person’s cubicle or desk, get them a card and some sort of treat, and take them out to lunch. We skipped it all for them, although they sometimes ended up having the lunch by association because there were two other people in our group with birthdays the same week, and they would attend the event for those people (they didn’t dislike all birthdays, just their own).

      1. Hazel*

        I like having my birthday celebrated, but I can handle it if that’s not done at work. I just don’t like crappy surprises. At my last company, it was standard for the birthday person’s manager to decorate the the their cubicle. Before that job, I was a long-time contractor and wasn’t/didn’t feel part of the team, so I was really happy to be part of my new team and looking forward everything that comes with that. I was really excited on my birthday when I stepped off the elevator and walked to my desk, but…nothing. No decorations. No card. Nothing. After watching the cubicle decorating happen for 10 months’ of other people’s birthdays, I was pretty crushed. If it weren’t expected, I wouldn’t have been so disappointed, but c’mon! I complained to the coworker I was closest to, hoping she would tell my manager and that I’d get a belated cubicle decoration, but after a day or two, I found out my boss was out of the office because she was at a funeral, so that was that. The company was getting larger fairly quickly, and I’m not surprised that things like this fell by the wayside, but because I was the first person to NOT get decorated (with nothing said), it made me feel shitty at the time.

    5. Lexie*

      Work anniversary I don’t mind being acknowledged but after a really negative birthday celebration experience at a previous employer I’d rather employers just ignore it.

    6. Mockingjay*

      When I joined my company four years ago, the team used to go out for birthday lunches for each person if they wanted. Then two years ago, we more than doubled in size and the birthday lunches faded away. Too hard to coordinate that many reservations and too frequent large meals that were hard on stomachs and wallets, not mention we were all busier due to business growth.

      I personally don’t acknowledge my birthday at the office. I prefer to celebrate with only immediate family members. I’m glad to wish coworkers happy birthday, but I don’t track their birthdates so I’ll miss it unless someone brings it to my attention. I had one supervisor who likes to bring in cakes for her team members; I was rather irritated that she kept making a fuss about my birthday and brought me a cake when I didn’t want one at all.

    7. Rock Prof*

      I’m like this too! I don’t mind people I know well telling me happy birthday, but I get a bit weirded out when it happens with people I only see in the hallway and rarely talk to. My dean announces the recent birthdays during our monthly college meeting, so it’s never even the right day anyway. I have managed to not show up on this lists so far.

    8. CoveredInBees*

      Some people might care a lot but I imagine many people who are annoyed are annoyed because they see disparate treatment. Either celebrate people’s birthdays, retirements, etc equally or not at all, unless the celebrated person prefers nothing at all.

    9. Kristinyc*

      Our company has been very inconsistent with recognizing birthdays, and it’s usually left up to the person’s friends to set up something or buy a card. Our department started recognizing people at our monthly meeting, but let people opt in to it (send your birthday to the admin if you want to be recognized at our monthly meeting, which may or may not even happen).

      As someone with a late August birthday that was always the first week of school – I feel your pain about people not recognizing your birthday LW#4! I’ve also started several jobs the week of my birthday as well. I’m so used to people not knowing it’s my birthday that I barely even celebrate it now as an adult. No biggie though!

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        My company is really inconsistent about celebrating birthdays, too, and I think it causes more harm than good!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes! I think I told the story on a podcast once of how I said no to an employee who wanted to start doing cards for everyone’s birthdays and this is why (the point of telling the story was that I’m sure she thought I was being a jerk for saying no to something that sounds nice in theory, if you’re not the one who has to think about ensuring no one is left out).

          … Found it — here’s the transcript of that episode:

      2. LW4*

        Oh no! I bet the worst 3 weeks for kids to have birthdays are the Christmas vacation, the first week of school, and last week. Nothing but chaos and people who can’t manage to organize anything around it. Even as an adult!

    10. Richard Hershberger*

      I prefer not to do anything for my birthday even in my personal life. My family did birthdays when we were kids, but never for the grownups. We are all happier not having to think about birthdays, either of our family members or ourselves. My wife’s family, on the other hand, considers birthdays a Big Deal. She is appalled at how little notice we give them. The result is an annual negotiation of what is the least she can do for my birthday and feel that the proprieties have been observed, while I have to make a conscious effort to think about hers. Fortunately I often pick up her prescriptions, having to tell the pharmacist her birthday. This reminds me it is coming up.

    11. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Not unusual at all! We had a coworker at an old job who kept track of everyone’s birthdays, and recognized each one in some fashion (that I forget). I spent a lot of my work time hiding from her. She never got my birthday from me. Anytime I felt she was about to ask for it, I’d make myself unavailable.

    12. Paris Geller*

      The only time I’ve cared about my birth place being celebrated at work was during the job when everyone’s birthday tended to get recognition but mine. We never had a big celebration, but we would always circulate a card. One of the senior team members was the one who remembered the birthdays and got a card, and she always took vacation the week I had my birthday. It definitely stung a little to get a card weeks later when another team member had a birthday and they realize they’d forgotten mine. It was the “everyone but me” bit that hurt, not the actual birthday part. If it had been a mix–50 percent wanted a birthday acknowledgement, 50 percent didn’t– then I wouldn’t have cared.

    13. LGC*

      Not at all! I’ll usually ask if people want their birthdays acknowledged when we’ve done this – and a significant portion of people don’t want any acknowledgement.

      I just think it’s a less visible issue and a more easily solvable one in most cases.

  12. D3*

    My mind is boggled that someone would think it was okay to leave employees traveling for word stranded AND lose their jobs. No. Bring them home. THEN fire them or lay them off.
    The reason for firing does. not. matter.

    1. Liane*

      “…make other employees who hear about it hate you forever.”
      Am I the only one who read Question 3 & thought, “I kind of hope this boss managed to accidentally also send this question to their company’s global email list”?

      LW3, I could understand if your employee angered you so much you thought about stranding them, immediately realized that was a Jerk Move, and asked Alison whether to fire them before or after you got them home. But to ask, in all seriousness, if it was okay to strand them? Hard NOPE.
      (If it’s really your boss, HR, or some out-of-control company accountant, insisting on this unethical plan, please comment so Alison can tell you how to push back.)

    2. Saberise*

      Well I can see them not wanting to if while he was out of town they discovered that he had stolen a boatload of money from them.

      1. Philly Redhead*

        That won’t matter to other employees. The employer might think that only that scenario is egregious enough to strand the person, but other employees won’t, and will wonder if the company will do it to them, too.

      2. tangerineRose*

        I agree they should still pay the employee’s way home, but that’s where I went too that probably the co-worker had done something particularly horrible.

    3. Cat Tree*

      Yes, I think leaving them stranded is egregious enough to name and shame if they actually go through with it. I’m already judging LW for even considering it.

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        I can think of a very few extremely terrible things the employee could do that might make me think not paying their return travel was warranted. All of which are also serious crimes. For example if the employee had assaulted a coworker (physically or sexually), or intentionally burned down a work building.

        Anything short of “how can we get this person arrested immediately, because they’re terrifyingly violent” means you should not even consider stranding them on a work trip.

        1. LGC*

          I mean, I kind of had that thought as well, but…even if you are looking at having the person arrested immediately, you don’t “strand” them because you should be calling local law enforcement to handle this person. If they’re that dangerous, why would you let them roam free?

  13. Des*

    Op#1 also please be vary of her “room to grow” language. It sounds like she’s telling you you won’t be getting any raises, even for the minimal amont.

    1. Bostonian*

      Yup. It irks me so much that she tried to frame it that way, too. “You won’t be able to have increases later, so let me start you out lower now.” Uuuuuh no, I’d prefer the higher salary from the outset, thanks!

      1. Alex*

        That was basically the weirdest part.. oh, you can’t make 50, because we can’t give you raises then… so let’s start you at 40, so I can raise it to 42 next year, 44 the year after… how about? gtfo.

      2. KayDeeAye*

        I know. So weird. Who would think, in all seriousness, that somebody would prefer earning X one year, XY another year, and XYZ a third year to earning XYZ all three years? And if you did think it in a moment of nuttiness, how could you say it aloud and still think it makes sense?

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      Yeah, “room to grow” is bullshit. Who wants to earn less this year so they can get a raise next year?! No one. That’s better for the company, and it’s disingenuous to try to make it sound like it’s a benefit for the employee.

  14. Mid*

    For #5, at least they were consistent and didn’t insist that your birthday only existed once every four years…

    1. LW4*

      I absolutely was thinking about that poor woman while I was questioning myself about this. If I ended up managing her I’d probably try to get her retroactive birthdays!

      1. yay wednesday*

        Leap year baby just means you get 4 birthdays a year, right? Right? Right?

        I mean, it makes as much sense as 1 birthday every 4 years.

        1. LW4*

          I was thinking along the lines of “How many years have you been with the company? Okay, you get 7 cupcakes on March 1. Just try to space out the days off” but maybe quarterly works too.

          I’m still flabbergasted that the woman doing this wrote in defending her mistreatment of this poor employee. Absolutely horrified.

      2. EPLawyer*

        It’s okay to want your birthday acknowledged if everyone else is having their acknowledged. Or to be treated like everyone else on your birthday. What is not okay is for management to decide to acknowledge some birthdays and not others or to have really lavish celebrations for some people and get … a card for other people..

        1. The Other Dawn*

          That’s how it was at a previous job. Birthday celebrations were left up the department managers, which was fine, but of course some managers went all out while others didn’t even acknowledge people or it was just “here’s some bagels.”

          We had three departments in one office. One department was kind of a “party” department, in that every single possible holiday (4th of July, Cinco de Mayo, etc.) and birthdays were cause for a potluck party complete with lots of decorations in the breakroom. When my birthday came around, my manager did bagels in the breakroom and that was it. I mean, I was happy to be acknowledged at all and I don’t require a big party or a whole birthday month, but the difference was just so glaring and people from the other department who came in looked really awkward. They later commented on it. The manager of the third department didn’t do anything for her team members at all.

          Since my particular office was only about 20-25 people, they really should have coordinated the birthday efforts as an office rather than individual departments, as it left some people who like the acknowledgement feeling pretty crappy.

    2. Half-Caf Latte*

      Thanks for making me irrationally angry by reminding me of that nonsense this fine morning :-)

      LW- something I wish I had learned earlier (and am still working on) is to identify stuff that is worth making a stink about and how to do it professionally. Sounds like this really bugs you now- maybe when it’s not your birthday season anymore you can reflect and think.

      1. LW4*

        It’s a good lesson. It’s also a reminder that some things only seem to come up at the time they bother people, and then get forgotten. Calendar reminders to address things later, maybe?

  15. Julia*

    OP1, your new boss is talking about “extra” vacation time, but she took a week off the time you were promised at the start and then reinstated it after you pointed it out. This is super manipulative, and I’d worry about everything else she ever did or said – will she try to sneak in things to disadvantage you and hope you won’t notice?

    I agree with whoever said to take the other offer if there is any way you still can. And I’m really sorry this is happening to you – I don’t think you did anything wrong, the director probably likes to play games with people and knew that she’d get away with it because you had already given notice at your old job. She sucks, but you couldn’t have prevented this.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      She is very manipulative, and I hope the OP thinks long and hard about the question you posed here because I can see the director doing even shadier stuff down the line.

    2. Ama*

      This boss reminds me of people I have worked with who just can’t admit they have ever made a mistake and then when they actually do make one, they end up doing some ridiculous things to get the mistake fixed without ever having to admit they were the one at fault.

      I suspect the lower vacation time was supposed to be the original offer and instead of just admitting she mistyped, the boss tried to sneak in the corrected version hoping the OP wouldn’t say anything. Then when she did, instead of just saying “oh, sorry that was my error — it really should have been this all along,” she moved it back up and then tried to put everything back on the OP by pulling this weird “I’d rather give you less salary since you’re getting more vacation.” (Or perhaps her boss or HR is saying OP can have either the extra vacation or the higher salary but not both and she can’t say that to OP because it would require her to admit she made the wrong initial offer in the first place.)

      These people are not fun to work with — you can learn to work around them in a sense (if you know they’ll never admit they are wrong you can just quietly fix their mistakes without trying to call their attention to it) but it can get draining because you start to feel like you’re getting held accountable for two people.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Yeah, that is wild. “We are giving you a salary of X and Y vacation days” (sends out an offer for $X and Y-5 vacation days) (corrects the vacation days back to Y) “ok now that we’ve given you an extra 5 vacation days, your salary cannot be X anymore”.

      What a con artist. I’d be losing sleep worrying about what she’ll try to pull next, if I worked for that person.

    4. Bubblegum blue*

      I noticed that too. The change to the terms in the contract looks deliberate when you combine it with everything else. Working there is going to be a nightmare of not being able to rely on anything she approves. I would love an update from OP1 as to what you ended up doing.

  16. alienor*

    #3 is mind-boggling, especially because “out of town” could mean anything from just far enough to need to stay in a hotel for convenience, to thousands of miles across the country. Although, even if I were only a couple of hours’ drive from home, I’d still be livid at being fired and left to find my own way back with none of my expenses covered.

  17. Iron Chef Boyardee*

    “If I fire an employee that is working on an out of town job, do I have to pay his transportation back home? Or his lodging?”

    Wow. If OP did that, he’d earn himself a spot for Worst Boss Of The Year.

    The sad thing – or, maybe I should say, the scary thing, is that this is not the first time Ask A Manager has fielded a question on employee abandonment:

    “[My employer] asked if I could go out of town and do a job my last week of work, and we clarified that I would be leaving the day my notice was up, because I would no longer be an employee of their company, and they said that was fine. Now they are telling me that I have to stay and work a day after my notice is up, and they say that if I leave any earlier than that, they’re going to take my company truck and I’ll have to find my own way home . . . “
    (See “my company is threatening to strand me out of town if I won’t work an extra day (7/25/13)” for the full letter. There’s an update here.

    1. Liane*

      “Wow, if OP did that, he’d earn himself a spot for Worst Boss of the Year.”
      Actually, Alison excludes Bad Bosses who write her themselves, because she feels it would discourage people from seeking her advice. That’s why the boss who wouldn’t give his exemplary employee time off for her college graduation (he’s infamous enough here to get brought up fairly often) didn’t get to “compete.”

    2. The Other Dawn*

      Unfortunately my former managers from my first long term professional job would have probably asked a question like this, and at that time I probably wouldn’t have thought anything of it having “grown up” in this company (hindsight is definitely 20/20). Now I know better and I’d never do something like that, nor would I ever support something like that. Doesn’t matter what the employee did that deserves firing. Get him home and then fire him.

      This letter writer’s judgment reminds me of the commenter on an open thread (can’t remember how long ago) who was travelling with a junior employee stranded that employee in another country. The return airline told her she needed two seats due to her size and she took his seat so she could get home and left him behind. It eventually came out that she also took the petty cash, company credit card, etc. and the guy was left stranded in the airport for two days and couldn’t get home because he didn’t have sufficient funds on his own card.

      You just don’t do stuff like that.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        I can actually relate worse stories than this. People wouldn’t believe them.

        I was temped to write a “Dinner Table Stories” book – indeed, I have over 150 of them – but decided not to.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Right? Now that I’m out of that first company and have recognized it as the dysfunctional place it was having been at a few good companies since, I feel I could write a book, too.

        1. Chriama*

          Oh wow, I didn’t see that when it first came out but now I’m dying of curiosity! What happened in the end?! The company refusing to pay for the junior employee’s ticket or force OP to pay for it makes absolutely no sense, but the OP also seems to have an astonishing lack of empathy (e.g. told the employee that if he’d had a personal credit card he could have charged it and been reimbursed). I hope the poor junior employee ended up in a better place.

      2. Observer*

        I see the similarities here. I wonder what happened to the OP. I also wonder what the company actually told the co-worker. That OP was not exactly a reliable narrator, since they were so totally focused on themselves, and also was not really forthcoming on the actual facts of the situation.

        In any case, the OP clearly broke policy in their behavior. And it seems pretty clear that if someone had alerted them to the problem they would have gotten the coworker back home.

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          Oh wow… that was like watching a train wreck unfold in slow motion. Every comment they made had a new piece of information that made the situation even more inexcusable.

          I really wonder how that scenario turned out. The piece that was most baffling to me though, was that the company refused to reimburse Stranded Junior for his ticket. It seems clear that there was dysfunction on many different levels.

  18. Observer*

    #3 – Please notice that it’s only an hour an a half since your letter went up and it’s in the middle of the night – yet you’ve already gotten multiple responses about just how bad of an idea you are suggesting.


    1. anonymous 5*

      And that’s on a post where one of the other letters is about a bait-and-switch job offer with more red flags than the University of Alabama’s color guard.

  19. not that kind of Karen*

    For question #3, I work in an industry where for the people on site being fired is known as being given a window seat (i.e. on the plane, on your way home…) There are some things for which you are immediately off site and on the first available flight home, but there is absolutely no question that it is the companies responsibility to get you home.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I first read this comment to mean that if your team gave you the window seat, they were telling you that you were getting fired. I thought, “Dang, that’s next level passive aggressive!”

  20. Filicophyta*

    Almost five years ago I had a similar issue to LW 1, an employer changed the offer after a verbal agreement, but I don’t know if it ended up as a success or not.

    In the job posting, email, and two interviews the renumeration was stated as a monthly salary along with annual flights and housing and medical insurance, which is a typical package in my field.

    When they sent the contract by email, it mentioned an hourly wage. (The other items hadn’t changed.) I questioned this and the hiring manager told me it would come to the same amount. I declined.

    Although I have spent almost 30 years working abroad, I wasn’t familiar with this country and didn’t want to have an unknown and perhaps variable amount of income. Also, I didn’t like that they had been misleading.

    The hiring manager got back to me within the hour and said he wanted me and would see what he could do. Later the same day he agreed to pay the monthly salary and sent a new contract which I accepted.

    However, all the other employees at that level were on hourly. Not surprisingly, the available hours dropped and some of them were having trouble meeting obligations. At the start of my second year I got promoted and took on more work and tried to help them with these issues but there wasn’t much I could do. I was in charge of the first stage of hiring and was able to make things more honest.

    Then, at would have been the start of the third year, I was told with a week’s notice they couldn’t renew me because it was too expensive. So, sticking to the monthly contract eventually cost me the job, but it was in many ways a great experience I wouldn’t have had otherwise and did lead to other work.

    (Sorry this became quite long for a reply.)

    1. Half-Caf Latte*

      I’m curious about this because in every company I’ve worked in, exempt employees are given an “hourly” rate on the offer letter and in our HR system, but the negotiation with the recruiter is presented as the annual salary.

      It’s not at all a bait and switch, it’s clear you’re in an exempt role and it’s just $alary/2080.

      1. Filicophyta*

        I’m not American and the employer wasn’t in the USA so the term ‘except’ wouldn’t apply as a legal status.
        There was no recruiter, it was direct hire.
        Monthly salaries are absolutly the norm in all stages in my work.

        This wasn’t salary/2080. You misunderstood that part. It really was an -hourly- wage.

        It was clear later that they wanted the flexibility to pay people less some months even though everyone had been told there would be enough hours available that they would make the promised salary. Then they changed the hours after people arrived and my co-workers were in some bad situations. One guy got only a few hours work one week.

        It’s especially bad because when you are in staff housing and have your visa tied to your job, it’s hard to get up and leave. Also, if you left early, you wouldn’t get you return flight home paid for, and with almost no income the previous months, well, it wasn’t good. I had enough money to leave if I needed to, but a co-worker who had child support payments couldn’t.

        It was absolutely a bait and switch. I came out ahead for a while, but it didn’t last.
        The point of my message to LW 1 was (not clear, but) you can push back when they change an offer, but there may be other effects.

    2. Chriama*

      I think it ended up as a success in your situation. You got a guaranteed salary for as long as you worked there, and left when it was clear they were no longer willing or able to pay you that amount. If you had been hourly, who knows how long you’d have been jerked around with the promise of more hours, or stranded like your other coworkers. If you think being let go after two years was a failure, remember that the only other option was to be paid less money – an unknown, unreliable, potentially significant amount less. The fact that they made the choice for you may be a blow to pride, but it was undoubtedly a better choice for you.

  21. Alison*

    LW1- there are some really poorly managed non-profits out there. I’m not surprised to hear this is one. I wonder if it’s a very small org, I’m not sure why but it sounds that way to me. I wouldn’t work there if I could help it.

    1. BubbleTea*

      I work for a charity which is very small, and it is not badly managed at all. It’s the best place I’ve ever worked, and for things like paid leave, flexibility of work hours and caution around Covid, it is better than many of my friends’ employers, for profit or not, large or small. I don’t think it is fair to tar all small charities with the same brush. The worst jobs I’ve had were with very large organisations.

    2. That NonProfit Finance Guy*

      It seems to be a hit or miss. Some are very well run (I’d count mine in that group, lol). I have also dealt with some that have issues doing basic addition. My wife is the president of her band booster organization (501c3), and it was a nightmare to get it up to spec (990’s were never filed, accounting records were a mess, virtually no separation of duties, etc). The previous treasurer apparently worked at a bank, so they gave her those duties. Apparently she was a teller, not an actual number cruncher… and it showed!

      There seems to be a very large spread between “well run” and “why or how are they still in business”…

      1. doreen*

        I think some of it is because a lot of them start out as all-volunteer organizations , with people who are just interested in rescuing cats or running their 5 unit condo or whatever and then they grow and have to hire paid staff- but the founders/board are people who have never had any involvement in running a business before. I know a couple of all-volunteer non-profits that are run really badly – and adding employees would only make it worse.

    3. Pretzelgirl*

      Oh my goodness yes. I worked at non-profit that had 5 people on staff that was horribly ran. It was my worst nightmare and I could write 100s of letters in to AAM about it.

    4. Koalafied*

      There are some really poorly managed businesses out there too. Nonprofits don’t have a monopoly on small business/org dysfunction.

      1. Jackalope*

        I think part of the issue is that we want nonprofits to be good since they’re often doing good and necessary work that we believe in, and it’s harder to handle their disfunction than to handle the disfunction of a place that’s just selling widgets, even if that isn’t entirely fair.

    5. Richard Hershberger*

      Small employers often get the hairy eyeball here. This is often true, but small employers can also be wonderful. I work for a solo practitioner: him, me, and the secretary. I have been with him for eleven years. I may well finish my working life with him.

      The thing with smaller organizations is that “culture” is dependent on fewer individuals: in my case, just one. This allows for wild variability. A larger organization’s culture is more of a group consensus. It might be good or it might be bad, but the need for a group of people to agree, if only tacitly, to it will tend to smooth things out a bit. This in turn means that when considering working for a small organization, you have to pay a lot of attention to the character of the person in charge.

      I have also worked for large, publicly traded corporations. I swore that off decades back. I want to work for an organization where the head guy knows me personally. That means that if he screws me over, it is personal. Large corporations following the Milton Friedman-approved shareholder value optimization are sociopaths. They will screw you over. It may not be today, but the day will come. And it will be utterly impersonal.

  22. Medea*

    About birthdays.
    My company has an HR system that shows everyone’s birthdays. I don’t like this (and I’m not sure it’s compliant with local regulations) but that’s how it is. The system even shows who is celebrating that day.
    We’re 400+ people so there’s no common celebration. Some people congratulate their friends in public posts on Slack. HR does this as well which I mentioned in a company survey as a bad practice.
    My team uses the team channel to do this but there’s no responsible. So people do it for their friends. I’m not close enough to anyone although I have great working relationships with all teammates. My birthday’s on a holiday so no chance anyone sees it accidentally. This means I’m never congratulated. Not a great feeling to see how popular others are even if I know I’m not the only one forgotten about.
    Moral of the story (for me): make birthday celebrations equal or just don’t do them.

    1. allathian*

      I’m sorry, that has to sting. The HR system showing everyone’s birthdays is awful, it would certainly break local regulations here.

      Is there any chance you could bring this up with your manager? Do you have that sort of a relationship? Something like how sad it makes you feel that nobody acknowledges your birthday because it happens to be on a holiday?

      Making birthday celebrations equal wouldn’t work, either. Lots of people don’t like to have their birthdays acknowledged for various reasons. I do admit that I laugh (internally!) at people who don’t celebrate their birthday because they don’t like acknowledging that they’re getting older, because it sure as heck beats the alternative… I have a lot more sympathy for people who don’t want to celebrate their birthday because they hate being the center of attention. Some people don’t celebrate for religious reasons, and it’s especially important for employers to recognize this so they don’t get into trouble for religious discrimination.

      1. Koalafied*

        My leadership handles this well. When she came on board, and with every new hire since then, she asked everyone to send her their birthday if they want to be included in celebrations and not if they don’t. Then once a month she announces that month’s birthdays on Slack.

        In the before time there was also usually a monthly team lunch – optional & pay your own way – to celebrate the birthdays.

        I’m a “doesn’t like the attention” person so I never shared my birthday to be added to her list, but I would usually go to the lunches.

      2. Dan*

        Me and a coworker got a late start career wise, and she’s always (for the decade I’ve known her) been a bit self conscious about people knowing how old she is. While sometimes I think we’re hardest on ourselves, it’s can be awkward internally when coworkers younger than you have a decade head start career wise. So some people just want to avoid any possibility of “You’re how old, and “just” an X?” And for me, I do look younger than I am, so when people do find out how old I am, they’re a bit surprised.

    2. WellRed*

      If your birthday is on a holiday doesn’t that make it more likely it won’t be seen? I agree with you that it should be everybody or nobody.

    3. MCMonkeybean*

      Sorry, not sure if I’m misreading this… but it sounds like there is no party or cake or anything, just people being casually told “happy birthday” on their actual birthday? And since you are never at work on your actual birthday you don’t get those messages? I’m not really clear what the problem is here as that sounds very normal to me. If you aren’t at work then people can’t message you! But you get to not be at work, which is awesome. If there is like an actual celebration with advance planning then I agree that should also be done for people who had their birthday on a holiday or weekend. But if this is just people seeing on a calendar “oh, today is Bob’s birthday I will write a birthday message!” then it seems kind of odd to complain that people need to do that equally for everyone.

      1. Heather*

        Seconded. I’m sorry for OP, but you can’t really regulate “no wishing anyone a happy birthday!” or conversely “everyone must wish everyone a happy birthday”.

  23. Holy Innocent*

    LW4 Happy Birthday from another December 28th-er. Definitely a forgotten day, and I know the same childhood hang ups you mention. Happily, as adults we can make our own birthdays by deciding who we tell and how we invite them in to sharing with us. It can help to separate out the feelings and thoughts – I’ve wrestled with “but I don’t want to organise my own celebration” and “but no-one should make their own cake” in past years. Neither is as important as “I’d like to celebrate my day”. Now, I realise that these same issues are shared by adults with birthdays year round. Once we are out in the world, we all have to choose how much attention to draw to our birthday. So, if I want the day to be marked and noticed, I make that happen. If none of my close friends are in town, I will celebrate in the pub with people I don’t know so well. If I don’t want to make my own cake, I find a way to buy one (no mean feat on our specific birthday, when bakeries may not be open here). My personal priority is to not spend the day at work, and so far I have never had to. There are many people with forgotten birthdays, and many who feel intensely lonely each time it comes. I think it is worth drawing people in to my celebration, not waiting on them to remember for themselves, I hope you can find a way to do the same.

    1. WS*

      Yes, I think those of us with December birthdays (and probably people who have birthdays on other national holidays etc.) grow up feeling overlooked with issues like not having a party because everyone’s busy, “combined” Christmas/birthday presents while our siblings get one of each, etc. so it’s hard to get into the adult mode of making your own celebration! But once you get there it’s very freeing!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My mom had a hard line when I was growing up that my (December) birthday presents would NOT be wrapped in Christmas paper, period, end of. There were a couple years where they were wrapped in the Sunday comics from my dad’s newspaper, and one memorable year where she turned the Christmas paper over and drew funny stick figure pictures on the blank side and wrapped my birthday present with that side out, but my parents never did the combined thing or wrapped my presents in Christmas paper, and I always really appreciated that.

        1. EPLawyer*

          My parents were adamant about that too. My birthday often falls on Easter. There was NOT a combined celebration. Easter was in the morning with hunting eggs and candy. My birthday was in the evening with my favorite dinner and a birthday cake and presents.

          I was extremely hurt the year I was visiting my dad and step mom for my birthday which was also Easter and I got a bunny rabbit Easter cake for a birthday cake.

          1. DarthVelma*

            My littlest niece’s birthday sometimes falls on or near Easter. We’ve always let her have the choice on whether she wanted an Easter themed cake or not. Some of the results have been hilarious – my favorite was the year she was totally into Thor. Her cake looked like Thor’s hammer fell to earth and landed on top of an Easter basket. There was carnage…poor squished peeps and a dismembered chocolate bunny with red glitter gel blood everywhere.

        2. MCMonkeybean*

          I have so many family members with December/January birthdays and I always try to have a clear delineation between Christmas presents and birthday presents. Since we are not seeing people this year and mailing all the gifts, I did feel bad that I had to ship Christmas and birthday presents together but I made sure to go to the store and buy “Happy Birthday” paper and colorful bows so they could at least be really different visually.

    2. allathian*

      I’m glad that in my culture the default is that once you’re an adult, you organize your own party.

      My BFF’s birthday is on Dec 25. We celebrate Christmas on the 24th, but her parents always saved a few Christmas presents for the next day and her godparents sent her a Christmas present and a birthday present, and the latter was always in a non-Christmas themed wrapper. It helped that she was an only child, so she didn’t have a sibling who got to celebrate at another time of year. Her parents always organized a birthday party for her friends around Jan 25, and when she moved out, she continued that tradition.

    3. Miso*

      I find it funny that one of your hang ups is “no one should make their own cake”.
      In my country the birthday person is always the one who brings in cake or another treat – even in elementary school!
      That’s why the whole birthday at work thing is actually super easy – you bring something in or you don’t.

    4. Coenobita*

      My dad was also born on December 28, and he would want me to point out that Día de los Santos Inocentes can be a really great day for a birthday (he is a real joker type). It’s also Denzel Washington’s birthday! :)

    5. Bookworm1858*

      I’m very lucky because my mom’s birthday is December 13th and she grew up with her birthday often being overlooked in favor of Christmas so when I was born December 14th, she knew how to keep my birthday separate and distinct. Saying that, my work culture is very food centric and I’m definitely a personality who has brought in a cake before and may do it again.

      On the other hand, my specific department has chosen to celebrate work anniversaries instead, which I think is a great idea and something I would do at other workplaces.

  24. Jenny*

    LW1 – a lot of red flags there. If it’s possible to rescind your resignation or take another offer, you should seriously consider it. This kind of stuff can make your work experience miserable.

  25. JeepersCreepers*

    What happens if your employee can’t afford to get home themselves? Also this question 2 days before Xmas WOW.

  26. Jennifer*

    #4 I guess I’m confused about why you’re bringing it up now after not speaking up for such a long time. I think Alison’s suggestion of bringing in cupcakes is a good one.

    1. LW4*

      After questioning myself about that I realized it’s because there is no more “Well, maybe next year” to it. It was so close last year, too! Our office manager then realized she’d missed me the year prior and vowed to fix it for the upcoming birthday so I wasn’t worried about it then.

      The next month, she got a job at another company and I got missed by the new manager a few months later. A few months after that we made the change to no more birthdays official.

  27. Batgirl*

    LW4, Alison’s suggestion about bringing in cupcakes is how it’s done in every (British, northern) workplace I’ve been in. Rather than waiting for other people to remember and for them to choose how to mark it, you invite people to help you celebrate. If you’re not into birthdays, you just don’t. This way you choose the treats or celebration that you want.

    1. UKDancer*

      Also in every British, London workplace that I’ve been in. It’s your birthday so you celebrate it or not as you prefer. The most common thing to do is to bring in cake or krispy kreme doughnuts and share them. Some people don’t celebrate and that’s fine too.

  28. Finland*

    Writer #1, what are the odds that the “straight shooter“ that you’ve been dealing with through your job offer wasn’t quite honest about the company‘s mission after all? It could be possible that someone who’s willing to lie to get you, is also willing to lie to keep you.

    1. LW #1*

      It’s a small organisation and I’ve talked with a few of the members of the board of directors, so I’m not sure what she’d get out of lying about the org’s mission. But of course, these recent interactions have thrown everything into question!

      1. Half-Caf Latte*

        If you had a good rapport with even 1 of the board members, you’d be doing the org a favor if you spelled out why you’re rescinding your acceptance/leaving after a few months – and probably protect your reputation too. “Negotiating in bad faith” is the phrase I’d use.

      2. Liane*

        If it’s that small, my worries would be they 1) know exactly how she is but either don’t care it’s a problem or don’t want to go to the trouble of replacing her,
        2) are just like her or
        3) think her actions are okay.

      3. Batgirl*

        Lw1, there are people who lie when there’s nothing to “get out of it”. If you have never met any, you have been very fortunate to have only ever dealt with people of logic until now. Those unprofitable lies are the very type of lies to pay particular attention to because it implies the person is simply an unthinkingly habitual liar with chaotic impulses.

        1. Dream Jobbed*

          Batgirl – they are the worst! It feels surreal to be around someone who lies whether or not there is any reason to. Like they exist in another reality. With experience you learn to run from them, but it takes a long time to learn if you are essentially an honest person. I cannot imagine working for one.

      4. Observer*

        She is probably not lying about the official mission. But about what the organization actually DOES? Who knows?

        If the board runs on trust, she could be lying to them, too. It happens.

  29. Kali*

    Ugh, I feel for LW4. Not through personal experience (I’m summer) but apparently my fiancé’s family has some kind of mating season in spring because EVERYONE has a birthday between late October and the end of December. If we have kids and they’re born then, we’re just going to pick another date to celebrate. That was proposed as a joke, but, honestly, I am finding it makes more and more sense to me as this season goes on.

    1. Malarkey01*

      “Some kind of mating season in the spring” hahaha that’s my family! It’s not spring, it’s that winters are long, cold, and dark here so January- March we get creative.

  30. Dagny*

    I’m not an expert on employment law. My guess is that it is difficult for state laws and regulations to cover every single situation that a company is responsible for, so there may be a gap in the written law. However, quasi-contract principles would kick in: you’re in the foreign country (or merely out of state) because your workplace sent you there. The question is about whether or not a court would go for the detrimental reliance argument. If your employee is a member of a protected class, they have an incentive to look for other indicia of discrimination.

    Most employees would probably not know that they could sue over this, with a straight-faced legal argument. Your problem, LW3, is that if you are sued over it, you’re the person who got the company hauled into court over a thousand bucks or thereabouts. That’s money that is usually well worth spending to keep your company out of court.

    All of that is just the legal argument, as if “do not be a raging arsehole” is not, itself, enough of an argument.

  31. CatPerson*

    Frankly, I wish companies would drop the elaborate birthday celebrations. Birthdays should be celebrated with your friends, not with your coworkers unless all of your coworkers are also personal friends. For those co-workers who are also friends, go out to lunch on your respective birthdays. Work birthdays are a forced celebration.

    1. Dayl*

      Why am I unsurprised at the username. Opt out if your own celebration if you want but please don’t deny a little moment of joy to those who like their workplace to recognise their birthday.

      1. Boof*

        I too am a cat person who is also wishing to avoid office celebrations, especially individual ones like birthdays (Even if I am happy to honor someone else’s I’m pretty terrible at remembering and knowing what to do, so I try to put an invite and let my team take the lead and just make sure to add some treats to the mix)
        Are you a dog person? Is there a strong correlation here?

      2. MCMonkeybean*

        That’s a very odd stereotype you seem to have just made up? What do cats and birthdays have to do with each other? I am the biggest cat person I know, and also the person I know who is most into birthday celebrations. Last year I actually celebrated my birthday AT the cat cafe!

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          To be fair, I’ve never had a cat wish me a happy birthday. Even as they woke me up at 5 AM and I gave them their food on my very birthday! So maybe there really is a connection! lol Also, birthday celebration at a cat cafe (or a dog cafe, either way) sounds really cool!

      3. Batgirl*

        I scrolled back expecting to see an unusual uusername when i read your comment? Genuinely puzzled! Animal lovers don’t like people or something?

        1. doreen*

          I am 100% not saying it’s true, but there is a stereotype that cat people ( in particular) would leave a person to die so they could save a cat.

          1. LutherstadtWittenberg*

            It’s also something dog lovers like to say, or more to the point, dog lovers who go on FB posts about cats to comment about how much cats suck. The insufferable kind of dog lover.

          2. Dream Jobbed*

            That’s ridiculous doreen.

            I’m an ANIMAL person. I would save any animal over a person. Who would limit it to only cats?

            Yes, kidding. Mostly. :)

      4. I'm just here for the cats*

        Don’t let the username put cat people down. I have multiple cats and I like it when we celebrate each others birthdays

      1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        They are also an excuse to take a break from routine, something I’m always in favor of.

        If someone wants to opt out of having their birthday acknowledged, fine, whatever, happy to oblige. But please don’t try to dictate to the rest of us where or with whom we “should” (or “should not”) celebrate.

    2. Nice Try, FBI*

      Not everyone has friends and family at home. For some of us, most of our relationships are with coworkers. My four best friends are all people I work with. If you want to opt out of birthdays for yourself, that’s fine, but I disagree with the premise that they shouldn’t be celebrated at work at all.

      We do pot lucks for birthdays (small team, so this is about 10 a year), and we do one at the very end of the school year for staff members whose birthdays fall during summer break. I’ve never heard a complaint about it.

    3. LTL*

      “should” is a strong word in this context.

      You’re free to opt out of celebrating your own birthday at work (I know people who do), but a lot of people enjoy having their birthday acknowledged at work.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      What you’re describing is an outlier viewpoint. You’re perfectly entitled to it, but it sounds like you’re assuming most people share your antipathy to office birthday celebrations and they don’t.

      1. CatPerson*

        I said *elaborate* birthday celebrations. The all-hands-on-deck type of thing. I would rather celebrate birthdays with my friends, as I said. Those friends can also be co-workers, but not all co-workers are friends.

    5. Cat Tree*

      Pre-covid, my department had cake in a conference room. We will find any reason to have cake. There are no hokey games and attendance isn’t required. You go in and get your slice, then you can leave with it or stick around and chat for a few minutes. If you don’t go at all, there will be plenty of leftover cake in the kitchen for the rest of the afternoon.

      Office cake is one of the things I miss most during this pandemic. Whenever we get back on site we’ll need to have a cake every week to make up for it.

    6. pleaset cheap rolls*

      “I wish companies would drop the elaborate birthday celebrations.”

      Whatever. Just don’t participate. Done.

  32. LQ*

    #3 I’ll make a few assumptions because other folks have covered other bases on this one. If you need to immediately fire this person because they have access to sensitive information and you just found out they are sharing it. You can take away their access remotely (I hope) and fire them, but still fly them back.
    Let’s say they are in quarantine and they can’t even get on a plane, yes, you’ll have to pay for the lodging for the time until they can be flown home.
    If they are supposed to be there for 6 more weeks and they need to be fired right away you can bring them home early and then fire them.
    Let’s say you found out they’ve been defrauding the company, …they made up fake employees and have been paying themselves multiple paychecks and you’re frustrated because they’ve already gotten money out of your company more than enough to pay for their trip home. Fire them. Take the legal route to recoup your money, and you still have to fly them back.

  33. Delta Delta*

    #1 – If someone says “I’m a straight shooter” chances are good they are absolutely not that.

  34. Lucious*

    About LW#1:
    The director’s shown themselves to be untrustworthy. At this point , it may be prudent to assume nothing you’ve discussed is going to happen- potentially including your job offer!

    If you’re compelled to follow through with this nonprofit position, be prepared to start from scratch when you get there. Confirm with HR what your salary and benefits show in their records on Day 1: and don’t be surprised if theres discrepancies with your documentation.

    After that, work as hard as possible to find another position. If your boss isn’t even honest when you’re interviewing, don’t expect much candor on the job either.

  35. Franz Kafkaesque*

    You should start at a lower salary so you’ll have “room to grow”?! LOL OMFG
    Why on Earth would you want to start at a lower salary so you can create the illusion for yourself that any raises you get are “growth”?
    Either this manager is an idiot or they believe you are an idiot. Either way…RUN

  36. Bookworm*

    #1: What stood out to me is that this is your first job working in the US. I think Alison’s advice is right on the money and I also can’t help but wonder if they saw or it came up that this is your first job in the US–so they thought they could get away with changing your salary despite you already agreeing, giving notice, etc.

    In any case, they’re shady. Run. I’m so sorry that happened to you.

  37. a nony mouse*

    #3, anything your employee did, to the point of being jailed, you still need to get them home. I would even argue that when they got out of jail, you should put them on a bus.
    10 years ago I was the on-site manager of a project 800 miles away from home when on a Friday night, we all went out for dinner. Some drinking happened – I had my fill and went back to the hotel. A few others continued, to the point where one of them got totally blasted, got them all kicked out of the restaurant/bar for abusing the staff, had to be helped to the hotel and to his room, only to come down 30 minutes later to sexually harass the young lady at the hotel desk, trying to get her to his room, getting more abusive and belligerent. Security escorted him back to his room and told him to stay there or the police would be called. His hotel room mate called me. I called my boss (at 12:30 at night). By 1:00 the next afternoon a VP had been dispatched, flown down, knocked on his door, told him to pack, drove them to the airport and flew them home. The VP offered to pay for his cab home also, but his wife picked him up. So the VP shook his hand, said they would direct deposit his last check, and if he had travel reimbursements to email them but he was never allowed in the office again. So yes, even if they did something much worse than this, get your people home. This served as a pretty good lesson and cautionary tale for years to workers about not to misbehave when on the road, but impressed everyone with how it was handled. The hotel clerk appreciated our response and decided not to pursue it further.
    The running (bad) joke was: since he knew he was fired no matter what, did he order a couple of drinks on the flight?

  38. CoveredInBees*

    OP4, you have my sympathies. My birthday is so close to 4th of July that my birthday celebrations were frequently lost in the shuffle and I never got the classroom celebration my peers did.

    This wouldn’t have been a big deal at work, since I don’t care if my colleagues wish me happy birthday or not, but I worked in an office (about 25 people) where someone had the same birthday as me. I found this out when the lights are turned off, a cupcake with a lit candle appears, and everyone starts singing…to someone else. The first year it happened, I was peeved but the other person had been working there longer than me. It happened again the next year and I was pissed. It wasn’t even in the top 5 reasons I fled that job, but it certainly didn’t help.

    So yeah, you have my FULL sympathies on just not wanting to get lost in the shuffle.

  39. Dwight Schrute*

    Yikes! Run from the supposed straight shooter. The room to grow is nonsense.

    Firing someone and then not paying their way home? What is wrong with you? That’s just awful and an easy way to make everyone else who works for you really unhappy and angry.

    Birthdays: I feel ya! I’m a December 26th baby so my birthday is often overlooked, but I’m not much of a birthday person so I don’t mind. Actually, at my old job someone had a birthday on the 24th I think and “since his birthday is before yours we’re letting him pick the cake type”. He picked a cake which I hate so I didn’t even eat any of my own cake

    1. LW4*

      Oh, that’s a horrible system they came up with, and the implication it sends is even worse. Did they do that to anyone else, or was it just holiday laziness?

  40. employment lawyah*

    1. Company made me a job offer, then tried to lower the salary
    Wow, that is REALLY slimy. If at all possible, do not work there.

    (You may actually have a claim against them, if you want to go down that route. Talk to an attorney.)

    2. My contact asked me to forward his resume — and it’s terrible
    Well, you know that he’s well regarded and apparently a solid worker. If you can’t get a good resume as AAM suggests, and if you want to help, you could always pass it on with that info, and a “crazy resume, though” comment.

    3. Firing an employee who’s traveling on business

    There are exceptions perhaps for certain employees and really egregious types of conduct, but those are very rare.

    4. My office always forgets my December birthday
    Throw it yourself by bringing in cupcakes, that will remind them.

  41. Hiring Mgr*

    On #1, did they really use “we’re lowering the salary so you have room to grow” ? In that case, why not reduce the offer by $10K? Then the sky’s the limit!

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Almost as funny as “if I give you a raise you’ll land in a bigger tax bracket and you’ll have less money”….

      Amazing how some people swallow that lie…. which is why I’ve suggested that AAM have a tax person come in and explain how our tax structure works in the United States, anyway.

  42. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    I’ll join the chorus; #3, bring your person(s) home. It’s such a terse letter and such an extreme measure being considered that I feel like it’s just the tip of the iceberg of the story.

  43. Lizy*

    December birthdays suck. Mine was yesterday, but I’m weird about birthdays so no one in my office knew.

    First year at OldJob, no one did anything. I was slightly put-out, but again – not a big birthday-type person so I didn’t mention it. Early January and the Party Planner poked her head around my cubie and said “Lizy – when’s your birthday?”
    Me: Dec 22
    Party Planner: well F*CK

    I became the Party Planner after that (for a couple of reasons, and I was fine with it – I love doing that stuff!)

    1. Absurda*

      Happy Birthday! (a little late).

      Funny story:
      A friend of mine was born Dec 30 and her younger sister was born in the summer. When really little, the younger sister didn’t understand why big sis got a tree and lights and all this hoopla at her birthday while little sis didn’t.

    2. LW4*

      Happy Birthday! I’ve had that same experience – people tend to start planning these things as soon a the new year rolls around so they have plenty of time to forget the year-end birthdays, and then the cycle repeats anew ;)

  44. Blue Eagle*

    At a prior job a co-worker had a Dec. 27 birthday. And instead of celebrating on Dec.27, we celebrated a half birthday on June 27 so their birthday wouldn’t get lost in the end of year shuffle.

  45. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #1 – NEVER EVER give notice unless you have a WRITTEN offer in hand with the details. If they change the details (like lowering your salary) – as AAM says – not an acceptable business practice. If they’re doing this to you now, just think of the stunts they’d pull on you after you’re in the door. I’d also question the mission of this non-profit if they act that way.

    #3 – just bizarro that this question needs to be asked, and very likely, LEGALLY they would have to transport him back. Let me get this straight – they are sending him on an assignment out of town, want to fire him while he’s there, and leave him stranded in a place far away from home? I would think that they’d have to bring him home – AND – if they’re going to fire him , they should do it face-to-face and not over the phone. They must really despise the employee if they’re going to pull a caper like that!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That’s what makes LW #1 so crazy– she DID wait to give notice until she had a written offer, with written acceptance and written confirmation. She did everything right… and she assumed she was dealing with a reasonable, good-faith actor. I would have too. It just sucks.

      1. LW #1*

        Exactly, I have this all in a written offer letter! But actually, this doesn’t provide much more protection!

  46. Nice Try, FBI*

    It would be really bad form to strand an employee at any time, but especially this year during a pandemic.

    I had an opposite situation once, when I was fired while on vacation. I had traveled across the country to go home for vacation, and my boss knew that’s what I’d done. He waited until I came back to the office to terminate my employment, which came out of the blue to me. I had just gotten a promotion and a fantastic review.

    I wasn’t that irritated with the termination, since my boss was a jerk and I knew I wanted to leave the field, but I was irritated that he let me travel all the way back across the country when I could have extended my trip and spent more time with my friends and family. I’d rather he’d notified me he was letting me go BEFORE I left for the trip or, at least, when I called in to find out why my email suddenly stopped working remotely. Instead, he lied about why it wasn’t working and assured me everything was fine.

    When my clients found out that I was fired and, more specifically, how it was done, they took their business elsewhere. I used it as an opportunity to change fields, so I didn’t pursue their business, but they didn’t want to do business with him anymore. I also left a scathing report on Glass Door, so I hope people considering working there saw it.

    1. Chriama*

      I think letting you go before the trip is the most ethical option. It gives you the option to cancel if you’d rather save the money, or extend if you want to. It’s the same as if you know an employee is about to make a major purchase.

  47. Tessa*

    Re: #1 I am reminded of the time I accepted an offer, with salary and benefits agreed to, then asked to start at the first of the next month (3 weeks away.) I’d been interviewing elsewhere and had received other offers, but turned those down, believing this to be my dream job. so, with 3 week til my start date, I decided to take a 2-week vacation to Tahiti then—during which I emailed this boss-to-be with a check in, that I was looking forward to starting the job soon. I got back 5 days before the start date, ready to begin on schedule. When I showed up for work that morning, this new boss calls me into her office and tells me they decided not to hire me in this management position, but would give me “some freelance work” a few days per week—good pay for that amount of time, but it was not fulltime and was zero benefits. In any other scenario, I’d have—in the most diplomatic language possible—told her to F-off and stormed out, but… I’d left my last job already, turned down other offers (for jobs that had since been filled) and had just splurged on that tropical vacation. I was stuck. A few months later, I learned that the reason this boss did this to me was that apparently she had always dreamed of going to Tahiti and was envious that I did so, before starting the job (which, again, was on the date she specifically requested I start – I didn’t ask for more time so I could take a holiday or anything.) I wish I could say this was the most petty workplace behaviour I’d ever encountered, but alas… no. In any case, she sure made plenty of money, so who know why she didn’t just take herself to Tahiti. *Sigh*

    1. Batgirl*

      People who do this genuinely believe they have you over a barrel and their work filling the position cheaply is done! Yeah, no… really, it only requires a little time and patience on the employees’ part to find something else and drop them back where you found them. Or do they believe you’ve entered into indentured servitude permanently? Do they believe that you forget all about the switcheroo, as soon as you’ve started working for The Wonder That Is Them? It’s so short sighted and deluded it’s pitiable.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Whoa, that is bananas! I have to say that I’m a little freaked out right now– today is my last day at my current job and I’m going to the beach for a week before I start my new job– but that situation is so far out there that I’m just going to sit here gaping and shaking my head. How long did you last at that place?

      1. Tessa*

        I was in my 20s then and stuck it out for about 3 yrs. It was at a then sought-after company in my field, and so the opportunity was important for me at the time. That boss, many years later, stands out as perhaps the worst boss ever for me. She delighted in creating discord among people—like telling me (the contractor) that part of my job was to be the “boss” of another colleague there (a staffer) and I needed to “keep her in line.” While telling her the same thing, but about me. It wasn’t til that colleague quit a year later and we randomly ran into one another on a bus that we talked and shared that info. After mutual eye-rolls and laughter, we became friends (something bad-boss certainly tried to prevent ever happening on her teams.) We’ve all gone on to interesting career trajectories we can be proud of, but that boss has disappeared from everything.

  48. Dignity, always dignity*

    #3 Of course, always bring the employee home. But the question brings up something I’ve long wondered about:
    In “The Devil Wears Prada” movie, when Andy quits, did she have to fly home on her own dime? Did she have to pay for the damaged phone?

  49. LTL*

    LW2: Assuming you know that this coworker is a reasonable person, it would really be a kindness for you to tell him that his resume is bad.

    Most people who are job hunting would be so grateful for feedback.

  50. AndreaC*

    December holiday baby here, too. I agree with Alison’s answer as long as it’s only a cupcake and a card, but for people in this situation where the company gives a day off or something of monetary value (we’re all thinking of that Leap Year LW), then it’s absolutely worth speaking up.

  51. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #3 – I might add – if the LW worked for a company that has a legal department – anyplace I’ve worked, ALL FIRINGS USUALLY HAVE TO BE APPROVED BY LEGAL. And as Employment Lawyah stated – they have to bring him back home. If someone commits an egregious act, he may be told “you’re gonna get canned for what you just did” and it goes from immediate suspension to HR and legal department jettisoning the guy or gal.

    If a manager wanted to pull an escapade like this on an employee – and it was likely a vengeful act that they wanted to pull on the guy – their legal and/or HR department would have said “HELL NO DON’T DO THAT”.

  52. Construction Safety*

    #3. I’m actually wondering if the LW is the person who was fired while away on a business trip.

  53. Fellow December Baby!*

    OP 4 – My birthday is the 30th of December, and I feel you SO MUCH. Unfortunately, the window is closed on this issue since they are no longer celebrating birthdays – but if you run into this again, a quick heads up to the admin or whoever coordinates this in December is how you do it – just a heads up that “By the way, my birthday is between Christmas and New Years, and I know a lot of people are out of the office then – if we’re celebrating, can we do it in January when everyone’s back?”. It feels awkward to ask, but if they do it for everyone, they would much rather you give them a heads up then find out they missed it later on!

    It hurts a lot worse if you don’t feel like you’re recognized or appreciated at your job in other ways. Back when I was overextended and putting in crazy hours in a job that was mostly me dealing with angry people, when I was the only one who didn’t get a card/lunch or whatever for my birthday, I was so much more upset about it and it felt less like an oversight and more like a snub. So, if you truly love where you work and how they treat you, it might be one of those things you give some grace to and recognize how they do appreciate you.

    But hey, I never had to go to school on my birthday (and have yet to actually work on my birthday) – and surprisingly, my relatives could always remember my birthday since I was around for the holidays (of course, my brother’s ordinary birthday in February got forgotten). Even the year I was at my in-laws, they made a big deal of it, making my favorite foods and everything. I’ve learned to appreciate it, and I wouldn’t change it!

    And although it’s early…Happy Birthday!

  54. Mystic*

    I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m still new to the professional world….but wouldn’t a “straight shooter” mean that they’d speak honestly/bluntly, instead of doing a runaround?
    And for letter 2, I always thought it was kind of against the rules to ask for someone, at the place you’re applying to, to advocate for you. I understand references from past places, but isn’t it close to favoritism?
    Letter 3: Unless the employee did something extremely drastic, I’d think it’d be better to help them get home.
    Letter 4: Happy early birthday!

  55. Ann*

    Regarding birthdays, my family runs to holiday birthdays: my husband’s is the day after Valentine’s Day; mine is a week after New Year’s Day (Jan. 8, which is also Elvis’s birthday!). My older daughter’s birthday is New Years Day. And most fittingly, my younger daughter was born on Labor Day weekend.

    1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

      My sister’s birthday is January 8, too! We didn’t realize it was Elvis’ birthday for a long time, though. She was born before he was famous, so it was her birthday before we ever even heard of him. LOL

  56. uajamie*

    OP#3, I just want to let you know that I FEEL YOU. My birthday is also Dec 28 and in every job I’ve ever been in where birthdays were celebrated, mine has been forgotten. We might go out for lunch for other coworkers birthdays or bring in donuts. Not for mine! No one ever acknowledges my birthday. It’s weird because in generally I don’t like being the center of attention for my birthday, but it does feel very weird for it to be completely ignored when everyone else’s is celebrated. Anyways, I just wanted to commiserate as a fellow Dec 28 birthday person. Happy Birthday!

    1. LW4*

      Same, really. I don’t actually do much for my birthday because I don’t like the focus on me, but the feeling of exclusion is unpleasant.

      Happy birthday anyway, I hope someone sends you doughnuts this year!

  57. Heffalump*

    Apropos of LW #3: The jazz musician Sun Ra had an unorthodox way of firing sidemen when his orchestra was on tour. If they were in, say, St. Louis, and the next gig was in Dallas, everyone except the soon-to-be-ex member of the orchestra would be told, “We leave at 8 a.m. tomorrow for Dallas.” Presumably the musician who was left behind would figure it out sooner or later. Sun Ra did this a few times when his orchestra was touring Europe. He got a letter from the Department of State saying, in effect, “If this is how you fire your sidemen, so be it, but in the future, do it on American soil.”

  58. Sober Alcoholic*

    I am in a similar situation to LW#1 (in that the circumstances of a job offer have changed after receiving it) and freaking out. I was laid off from my job a few months ago. Got a job offer yesterday for a senior position at a nonprofit, conditional on passing a background/reference check. I have a drunk driving conviction from 4 years ago (it’s not a DUI; my jurisdiction has a lesser charge). It was the worst night of my life, I deeply regret it, I take full responsibility for my actions, and I’ve been sober ever since. I disclosed this to them because it will show up on the background check. Radio silence since then.

    My jurisdiction also has a law that you can’t discriminate against job applicants bc of their criminal history; you have to take into account the nature of the charge (if it’s related to the work that they’e doing–like if someone has been convicted of embezzlement, you could be justified in not hiring them for a finance position) and the amount of time that’s passed. Employers are also prohibited from inquiring about criminal history until a conditional offer has been made.

    Has anyone else been in a similar situation or can offer sympathy/advice?

  59. I'm just here for the cats*

    Hey AAM is there something that can be done about these adds with sound? I’ve had one for shutterfly and one for Humana. I understand the need for advertising, but could they be changed so that the sound is off when they play.

  60. Recreational Moderation*

    #3 Forgive me if this is too much of a stretch, but it was my first thought after reading #3.
    My dad served in the European Theatre during World War II and came home safely to newly-born me in mid-1945. Dad was an infantryman who spent his war years on the ground; he wasn’t a flyer.
    As I grew up, I found rare occasions when I could get him to talk about his days as a soldier. Every single time, he made a point of expressing his great admiration for the WACS/WASPs, the women pilots who flew every aircraft the U.S. military owned—not in combat, but to deliver the planes where they were most needed (and also to fly the planes that towed targets for the newly inducted soldiers to practice shooting at, but that’s a different story).
    Until the day in 2003 that my dad died, he also expressed his fury about the fact that when VE Day finally arrived, the U.S. government basically told the WACS/WASP pilots “Thanks very much, you’re on your own” and decommissioned them immediately, leaving these women to find their own way home from wherever in the world they happened to be.
    I was fortunate to meet and talk with many of my dad’s ex-G.I. buddies over the years, and every single one of them shared Dad’s lasting disgust that these uniformed members of the military were, basically, abandoned. (There were some upper-echelon officers who argued on the women’s behalf at the time, but unsuccessfully.)
    My point is, these kinds of actions cause big and lasting ripples; the people who are cut off like this have long memories, and so do their families and friends. It’s true that LW3’s situation is on a much smaller level than what happened in 1945; but it’s also true that chopping off an employee’s support when they’re out on company business is a really lousy thing to do.

  61. Joan Rivers*

    As an adult, I don’t need the office giving me a birthday party. Of course if everyone else has one you want one too, but you can just wait for a lull, say, February, and bring in cupcakes. Carve out your day to celebrate when people need a lift.

    The idea of the b’day person bringing the treats always makes more sense to me anyway.

  62. Seeking Second Childhood*

    LW3 Yes you need to bring the employee home.
    If company finances are tight, choose an inexpensive method of transport–economy class not first class; train or bus instead of intercity flight, etc. (But if this turns it from a 1hour trip into an 8hr trip you should also cover a sandwich.)

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