giving a good reference to get rid of a bad employee, I don’t want to manage people, and more

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

1. Giving a good reference to get rid of a bad employee

About six months ago I got my first management position. One of my staff, A, was turned down for my job and is still salty about it. She is about to graduate with a business management degree and is looking elsewhere for other opportunities. I expect to receive inquiries from potential new employers soon. Problem is, A is a bad employee and will not be a good manager. She is loud, overbearing, quick tempered, retaliatory, a know-it-all, takes all criticism as a personal attack, calls in sick at least twice a month. My manager has been pressuring me to get rid of her. A filed an unfounded ethics violation claim against my boss so now she can’t do anything discipline related or A with scream it’s retaliation. I want her out of my office, the sooner the better. Upper management is hesitant to fire her because it’s almost certain she will sue the company regardless of the circumstances.

I am torn on whether to be honest with her potential employers about what a nightmare she is and be stuck with her, or tell them she’s a good choice so I’ll hopefully be rid of her.

You shouldn’t lie, and you definitely shouldn’t say someone’s a good employee who isn’t. I can understand, though, why you’re hesitant to tell reference-checkers what you really think; it’ll probably torpedo A’s chance at the job, leaving you stuck with her. Personally, I believe in honest references as long as you can back them up (just as I want people to give honest references when I call for them.) But if you’re unsure, a middle ground is to simply decline to return reference calls. That sends a message if the employer cares to listen to it, but it takes you out of having to comment.

The bigger issue, though, is what to do with A if she doesn’t leave on her own anytime soon. It’s not workable to keep someone out fear of what they’ll do if you fire them for legitimate reasons. I’d push back hard with your management about your options with A, pointing out that she’s impacting your other employees (because she must be) and harming your ability to get results in your work.

2. Hanukkah wishes from people who schedule meetings on important Jewish holidays

What’s the best way to handle well-meaning “Happy Hanukkah! Hope you have a year of health and happiness!” greetings from colleagues who schedule important meetings on and ignore the actual important Jewish holidays?

I get why that grates, but I wouldn’t use someone wishing you happy holidays as the opening to ask for more inclusivity meeting scheduling. It’s too likely to come across as snarky.

But since it is grating on you, take that as a sign that you should speak up in a different conversation about the scheduling problem. In fact, the start of the new year is a good time to ask people to include the major religious holidays on their calendars so they can avoid scheduling on them. You could note that in the past meetings have been scheduled on days observant Jews couldn’t attend and supply the dates that should be avoided this coming year. (Alternately, if you have a person or team in charge of equity and inclusion issues, you could ask them to handle this.)

Here’s a pretty good guide to dates to avoid, for interested readers.

3. How can I tell my boss I don’t want to manage people?

I’m a widget maker. During a meeting recently, my boss let it slip that due to our expected growth next year, we might hire on another widget maker in the next few months. He hasn’t outright said that this person would become my direct report, but I’d like to avoid that line of thought altogether.

I’m a good widget maker. I’m a great one. I have an excellent reputation within my company and am well known for being able to answer questions for others, work hard, and figure things out. But I’m also aware that being a great widget maker does not translate into being a good manager. I’ve fallen into that trap before, overreached, and fell on my face. I don’t want to get into a position where I leave a company I love and a job I enjoy because I got into something I couldn’t handle.

How can I explain to my supervisor that I like my position as it is and that I would never object to having a peer, but I do not want to take on supervisory responsibilities? I’m concerned that if I were to decline those responsibilities I’d end up shooting myself in the foot career-wise.

It sounds like the bigger shot in the foot would be taking on a job you don’t want and don’t think you’re good at!

Lots of people don’t want to manage and/or aren’t good at it, and the world would be a better place if more of them (a) realized it and (b) were up-front about it with their employers. (That said, not every employer makes it easy to do that and sometimes it’s hard/impossible to move up without managing people.)

One option is to say to your boss, “With the team expanding, I wanted to mention that I’m really happy with my role as it is. I don’t know if you’ll ever be looking for someone on our team to take on more of a management role since we’re adding people, but if that does happen, I really prefer to focus on XYZ. I’ve managed people in the past and learned it’s not for me!”

But since your boss hasn’t announced any plans at this point, you can also just ask him how he’s planning to structure the role. It might turn out to be a non-issue.

4. Explaining I won’t be able to travel for a month after breast augmentation

I have recently scheduled a breast augmentation surgery for myself that is set to occur in several months. I will need to take one or two days off for it, which should be no problem, but I also shouldn’t travel or be on long flights for at least 3-4 weeks after the surgery. My issue is that my job requires extensive international travel (averaging 8 weeks/year in a normal year), and my boss has insinuated that the company will be beginning to expect staff to travel again come spring 2021 and, due to our backlog of travel-related work, expects me to get out there ASAP.

Assuming a reality where that does happen and the pandemic isn’t a factor (or as much of one), how can I let him know I won’t be available for trips for at least a month?

“I need to schedule a surgery for April. It’s nothing to worry about, just something I need to take care of, but I’ll be out for X days for it and unable to travel for four weeks afterwards.”

You don’t need to share specifics about the type of surgery (which would be the case if it were something non-elective as well).

5. I was a job hopper in the 2000s

I was quite the job hopper in the early 2000s. I spent 6 months here, 9 months there, 2 years at another place, all in an effort to bring up my salary and in one instance, get away from a bad boss. Fast forward 15 years, I don’t like the looks of that second page of my resume, with 7 jobs in 10 years. What’s the best way to present those years of moving around? Reduce them to one line each? Or a short narrative, i.e. “from 2001-2010 I served in a variety of roles…”

I don’t think I should just start my resume in 2010, right? That would be an obvious red flag to most employers, no? That said, my most recent experience is more impressive and more relevant to what I want to do.

Actually, it should be fine to just start your resume in 2010 and leave off everything that came before. As a general rule, most people don’t need to go back more than 10-15 years on their resume anyway, and it’s not a red flag to do it that way. It’s rare that anything earlier would significantly strengthen your credentials after so much time has passed anyway, particularly versus more recent experience — and that sounds like it’s indeed the case with the pre-2010 jobs you held.

More here.

{ 371 comments… read them below }

  1. Observer*

    #1- Whatever you do, DO NOT LIE. It’s unethical, it’s wrong and it could come back to haunt you.

    Start documenting A’s problems. Unless your employers are really dysfunctional, solid documentation is going to be the key to getting rid of her with the minimum of trouble, legal or otherwise. You might also want to point out to your HR that not firing her is not a sure fire protection from a law suite. Because she could sue you anyway.

    And start imposing whatever consequences you can. Make sure to give preference to better employees whenever it is possible.

    1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

      not firing her is not a sure fire protection from a law suite. Because she could sue you anyway.

      This is key. She could sue, steal IP, do all sorts of things. OP, given everything you described (fake ethics violation?!), it sounds like A might be willing to turn the “gives no effs whatsoever” dial up to 11 regardless of whether she’s fired. Heck, you could give her a glowing reference and that may not even stop her from causing problems on her way out just to stick it to your employer. Document issues to make a clean break, don’t solve the A problem by foisting her on some other company.

    2. allathian*

      Document, document, document. By reading this blog, I’ve learned that some companies are ridiculously afraid of being sued. The issues the LW is having with their employee are serious and this employee could be fired for cause even in countries like mine, where firing without cause is much more difficult and often expensive.

      1. MK*

        I have to say this aspect of employment culture baffles me. Yes, lawsuits are expensive, but aren’t they expensive for the former employee too? How often do they actually sue, and how prepared are they to pursue a unsubstantiated complaint to trial if a company says “We have documentation about why we fired you, we aren’t settling, let’s go to court”

        1. L.H. Puttgrass*

          In the U.S., plaintiffs can often sue more or less for free if they find an attorney willing to work for on contingency (i.e., a share of the judgement or settlement, if there is one). It’s actually an important part of many consumer and worker protection laws, because otherwise lots of people who are harassed or discriminated against, for example, would never be able to afford to go to court. But since defense attorneys almost always charge by the hour, not on contingency, it also means it can be expensive to defend even a meritless lawsuit.

          1. hbc*

            While it’s true in theory, the only meritless lawsuits I’ve seen that have taken significant money are when

            1) There are overreactive lawyers and/or owners who are convinced that they need to throw months of legal work at a silly case like this or they’ll lose millions, or

            2) The claim itself is a stretch, but there’s a heck of a lot of stuff going on at the company that makes it more believable. Like failure to document any of the bad stuff the person did, or a history of low-level retaliation for whistleblowing, or an environment so toxic that you’ll have a few employees backing up the troublemaker just to stick it to management.

            1. L.H. Puttgrass*

              Well, there’s legally meritless and there’s factually meritless. The latter can be a lot more expensive to defend than the former because you still have to go through discovery, which is disproportionately expensive for the defense (especially if the plaintiff’s attorney is fronting the fees).

            2. Junior Assistant Peon*

              I saw this at one place I worked. A legit low performer was targeted for a layoff, but the company had just been bought and the acquirer knew we had an amateurish HR department. The person checked several boxes of protected classes, and since our performance review process was so god-awful, she hadn’t been given any good feedback about how to improve and naturally concluded it was racism/sexism. The acquiring company knew our crappy HR people hadn’t done the right things to document why this person’s performance did not meet expectations (or properly communicate it to the employee to give her an opportunity to improve), and they ended up paying out a big settlement.

              1. Cat Tree*

                Ok, I just have to point out that every single person is a member of multiple protected classes. Everyone has at least one race, a gender identity, and a sexual orientation. Some groups face discrimination at a far lower rate than others, but they are still legally protected from discrimination.

                1. Reba*

                  @Lizzo, Cat tree is pointing out a common misunderstanding of the term “protected class.” They are not acting as an apologist for privileged groups here!

                2. Cat Tree*

                  Ok, I don’t have the option to reply to Lizzo directly, but it is still illegal to discriminate against a straight white man. Just because it doesn’t happen doesn’t magically make it legal to do so. Every single person is in a protected class, and this topic has come up multiple times at AAM. Please use terms correctly when they have a legal meaning.

                3. Myrin*

                  @Lizzo, the historical/cultural likelihood of someone from a certain group being discriminated against is irrelevant when it comes to the term “protected class” – the protected class isn’t “being female” or “being black” but rather “gender” or “race”. So a company consisting solely of black female employees can’t, for example, legally refuse to hire a qualified white man just because they don’t want anything to do with white men (but, like always, they can of course not hire him because they find that he lacks in Y experience or Z education, it just can’t be because of his whiteness or maleness).

                4. Quickbeam*

                  White men in nursing are a protected class as they are a minority. I once had to wait an extra month for a nursing job as the manager had to show due diligence that she tried to hire a man. She told me if a man had carried my qualificatiosn she would have had to hire him.

                5. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  @Quickbeam (and others) — to clarify, “white” or “black” aren’t protected classes; “race” is. So even in an office that is majority race X, it’s still illegal to discriminate in favor of race Y. So white men aren’t just a protected class in nursing; they’re a protected class everywhere, because they have race and gender, and race and gender are both protected characteristics and cannot be used in employment decisions.

                  It’s illegal to make a hiring decision based on race, period, even if you’re trying to hire more minorities. If they truly had a requirement to hire race X or gender Y, that would be illegal in the U.S.

              2. fhqwhgads*

                This doesn’t make any sense. Layoff is a great way to get rid of an underperforming person even if it hasn’t been documented. “Layoff” = “we’re cutting back for budget reasons and it’s not necessarily about you”. “Fired” = “you’re not doing a good job”.

                1. fhqwhgads*

                  Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting it’s ok to do this as a skirt of actual discrimination. But if the case is the employee is legitimately terrible but it wasn’t documented sufficiently, a layoff, presuming layoffs were actually happening in general and not targeting this one person, makes the lack of documentation of their poor performance irrelevant.

                2. BuildMeUp*

                  I think the issue would be that the employee could still say, “I was laid off while X person (of a different race/gender/religion/etc.) was not,” and the company would have to show a valid reason for one employee being laid off but not the other if it went to court.

                3. JS*

                  But a problem with a layoff is the employee can file for unemployment and probably get their claim allowed. The employer’s insurance rates could go up and they’d be stuck trying to fight the claim.

                4. Observer*

                  @JCS, if the company has a decent record otherwise the increase may not be worth even fighting the claim. And in any case, it’s cheaper than keeping on a bad employee or fighting a lawsuit

                5. Junior Assistant Peon*

                  The laid-off person’s position wasn’t really eliminated in this case. Management moved a higher-performing person whose position was actually being eliminated into the laid-off person’s slot. This is probably another reason why the company that bought us decided it would be best to pay a settlement rather than fight.

          2. Cat Tree*

            Yes, plenty of attorneys will work on contingency, but most of those won’t take on an unwinnable (even if legitimate) case because they won’t get paid. They know what is like to go up against a team of corporate lawyers.

            Plenty of attorneys will take on unwinnable cases, but they aren’t the ones doing it on contingency. They’ll string along their client and get paid the whole time. I would expect A to pursue this option, but she will run out of money pretty fast.

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              There is no shortage of contingency lawyers to take on mediocre-at-best cases. Because discovery can be expensive, settlement is common (maybe 10% of cases actually go to trial overall), so they can get at least a small payday just by being more irritating to deal with than that dollar amount.

              Law suit settlement is a business and a legal decision. Being legally correct is more expensive than settling a lot of the time, especially when your settlement agreement can be written to not acknowledge any wrongdoing.

        2. JohannaCabal*

          I think people whose only exposure to lawsuits is TV dramas don’t realize how expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally draining a lawsuit is. Even if you win a lawsuit, legal fees and taxes will take up most of the windfall, if there is a windfall. Also, if you lose a lawsuit, especially against a larger company that can afford a legal team, you can be on the hook for legal fees.

          I suspect most companies understand this but are more afraid of bad public relations or media outcry, especially in today’s age of “tweet first, think later” social media environment.

          And speaking of the legal side of things, there was a nurse convicted of killing patients in the 90s and early 00s. During the investigation, it came out that said nurse kept getting fired from hospitals for all kinds of policy violations. The nurse in question would get hired by other healthcare facilities because previous employers kept giving, if not positive references, neutral ones, due to a fear of defamation suits.

          Ever since hearing that story, I’ve never been a fan of the “give a positive reference to get rid of a bad employee” routine (not that I ever was).

          1. Junior Assistant Peon*

            My high school fired a young male teacher in the 1990s, with the details kept hush-hush. The guy got a job at another local high school, and was just in the news a few years ago after his arrest for sleeping with a female student. If people weren’t petrified of giving negative references, this never would have happened.

            1. President Porpoise*

              That happened at my middle school as well. He went to a neighboring town and got a fifth grader pregnant.

            2. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

              That happened super recently at a highschool in my hometown, except he was the assistant-principle when he was let go for some kind of inappropriate behavior with students, only to be hired as the HS principal at our school, where he proceeded to groom a student until her 18th birthday. Fortunately, when his goal was obvious, she got away and got a good lawyer and he got in at least some kind of trouble.

            3. Elizabeth West*

              I read an article about something like this probably twenty years ago. It’s very, very common. Bad cops switch departments, bad teachers switch scools, bad nurses/doctors switch healthcare facilities.

                1. TardyTardis*

                  My husband’s school got a principal whose praises were sung by his prior school. Alas, they did not check at the school *before* that one, and those people were prepared to be a little more honest since they’d already gotten rid of him. Oops.

            4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              That’s no better than the catholic church moving priests around any time there were rumours about choir boys.

            5. Self Employed*

              Back in the early 1990s, I worked at a llama facility contractor where one of the designers was sexually harassing his colleagues (watching pr0n instead of working, making disguised-voice threatening phone calls). He was caught dong the same thing at a National Llama Lab, but our HR department didn’t know because they gave him a neutral reference. Turns out he had sued them claiming their disciplinary action was racially motivated, and his lawyer was good enough to insist on an NDA and neutral reference as well as “accepting his resignation” vs. firing for cause. (Wonder if he had Weinstein’s lawyer?)

              I’m pretty sure my Llama Contractor wouldn’t have hired him if they’d gotten an honest reference that he had been harassing female peers. (He didn’t bother admins like me–he was threatened by women with the same job title.)

          2. Environmental Compliance*

            We had an employee I’ve talked about here before – and fear of lawsuit kept them from being fired for far, far too long. Even without the abundance of cause, the settlement likely would have been cheaper than the many, many fines from noncompliance the employee caused onsite.

            To the surprise of no one, once fired (for all those noncompliances, failing to follow SOPs left and right, generally hostile & belligerent behavior)…. the employee didn’t sue. They were (on my insistence) put on an improvement plan, documented with both the good and the bad, and given a timeline. Then, when they failed (and grew even more hostile), they were fired. Never heard from them again.

            If anyone had called me to give a reference, I would have forwarded them to HR and declined to give a personal reference.

        3. Cat Tree*

          At one of my terrible old jobs, there was large equipment that was dangerous and employees complained about it to management repeatedly but it was never fixed. One day, a huge piece came loose and landed on an employee’s leg. He was severely injured and took weeks to recover. He was lucky where it landed because he legitimately could have lost his leg or his life.

          Anyway, many of us expected him to sue the company. They knew about it and ignored the problem, and there were tons of witnesses both to the accident itself and to the previous complaints, including some in management. So it seemed to us (not lawyers) that it was a simple, easy to win case. We were a little surprised when he came back to work 6 weeks later and just went about like nothing had happened. It turns out, it’s expensive to sue the company and apparently the cases wasn’t as clear-cut as we thought so he couldn’t get a contingency lawyer. On top of that, he simply couldn’t afford to stop working there during a long legal battle, and a company this negligent about safety wouldn’t blink twice at threatening to fire him in retaliation for suing. Plus it’s all just a lot to deal with while recovering from a serious injury.

          I don’t know if he exhausted every option available to him, like filing a claim with OSHA, but he at least looked into suing and is not an easy process.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Workers’ comp should have also been available to him, so maybe the payment from that helped him a bit when he was considering whether or not to sue.

            1. doreen*

              I think actually in most states in the US , you can’t sue your employer for many injuries because no-fault workers’ comp is available and that was sort of the trade-off- the employer must provide insurance for on-the-job injuries, even those that are the employee’s fault and in return, the employer is immune from being sued. There are exceptions , but a lot of cases aren’t going to clearly be in one of the exceptions. One of the common exceptions is gross negligence on the part of the employer – but it’s not always easy to tell where to draw the line on ordinary vs. gross negligence

              1. JS*

                Yes, this! You can’t ordinary be sued by your employee for a workplace injury. It varies on the state’s workers’ comp laws. Hiring an attorney would be to go after a third party at fault or protest that they need more benefits from the insurer for their claim.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            There was a company in the same industrial park as OldExjob that had been very negligent on lockout/tagout. One day, an employee was doing maintenance inside a machine and someone else started it up and it crushed him. Everyone at OldExjob was very shocked and upset by it. We had good lockout/tagout procedures, but it was still a wake-up call.

            To my knowledge, there was no lawsuit, but OSHA slammed the company with a six-figure fine for one willful and fifteen serious violations. They also removed the machine; I saw it on the flatbed trailer as I was driving to work one morning a couple of weeks after. They were very lucky that’s all they had to pay.

            Your old company was on borrowed time; just because that one worker didn’t sue doesn’t mean someone else (or their surviving family) wouldn’t take them to the cleaners.

        4. Ray Gillette*

          Seriously. I once talked to an employment attorney about suing because I was illegally classified as an independent contractor (the contract looked good on paper but I was clearly being treated as an employee in practice). He said that I did have grounds to sue, and there was a good chance I would even win, but it wasn’t worth it because whatever I ended up getting in the settlement would get eaten up by legal fees. Plus, I’d be job hunting while unemployed and being that guy who has an active lawsuit open against his previous employer.

          1. Red Boxes and Arrows*

            Oooh, same. But mine was sexual harrassment and gender discrimination. The attorney was like, “It’s a small industry. You’ll likely never get hired again because everyone will think you will sue them for looking at you sideways. You’re better off just finding another job and moving on.”

            1. Gazebo Slayer*

              Which defeats the purpose of having antidiscrimination laws in the first place.

              There need to be laws prohibiting employment discrimination against people who have sued previous bad employers, too.

              1. Self Employed*

                Agreed. It works the same with Fair Housing violations; if your landlord refuses to put grab bars in your bathroom or makes snarky comments about your disability all the time, and you contest it, the landlords’ network blacklists you from renting.

        5. Generic Name*

          Seriously. Unless a company is basically bankrupt, companies generally have vastly more resources (time, money) than the average American worker to spend on a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit isn’t magic. As long as your company didn’t break employment law, followed company policy, and documented everything, you will likely win a lawsuit.

          1. The Starsong Princess*

            True, it’s very expensive to win a lawsuit but many companies will look at their legal fees and settle. They hardly ever go to court. You won’t get millions but you can get six months salary, for example. That’s how these contingency lawyers make their money- they negotiate the settlement. My old boss used to say that sometimes people got to go and you have to decide how much you are willing to pay to make that happen. With this bad employee, that’s what it is going to take and it’s something that HR and Legal should be prepared for.

        6. Percysowner*

          I came into a culture like that. I was hired to run a small nonprofit library. There was a long term i.e. 24 year employee who was not capable of doing her job. She had been there since the library had gotten it’s first official Director. The former Director couldn’t bring herself to fire the woman. She WAS a good person who had mental health issues and was close to 60, so the board was afraid of being sued for disability and/or age discrimination. I spent a year documenting her issues, giving her oral warnings, written warnings, goals to be met. She was the bookkeeper and I had to double check all of her work because she never produced a report without errors and she wrote checks for the wrong amount, she would take a nap on lunch and not wake up. She just couldn’t handle her responsibilities. Finally I got the board to negotiate her “resignation”. To top it off, we had, counting me FOUR employees and didn’t qualify under the ADA or Age Discrimination Acts. Plus it was a LAW library, the entire board consisted of lawyers and they should have known better, but no they were so afraid that she might sue.

          1. Self Employed*

            Wow, I was in a badly-fitting job for about 2.5 months at a university library with an elderly coworker just like this.

    3. GammaGirl1908*

      I agree about not lying. This is a case where simply confirming dates of employment is ideal.

      That said, there is a good reason I might lean toward being a smidgen more neutral (again, without lying) even if I was pressed to tell more of the truth. Her style doesn’t work for you, but it might work just fine somewhere else. There are places where two days off a month is no big thing. There are places where being loud is seen as enthusiasm or passion. You aren’t maliciously trying to have her unemployed and ruined and broke forever; you just want her to find a place (…elsewhere…) that’s a better fit for her very — very — different style.

      I get that no one is saying you need to say she’s super wonderful OR trash her to everyone who calls. It’s okay to say if asked that, say, her departure was a mutual decision because your organization really needed XYZ that she didn’t have.

      But this to me is different from giving an artificially good reference to get rid of her. This is picking out the good points she DOES have and emphasizing them to places that would appreciate them.

      Whenever this topic comes up, I’m reminded of this scene from a TV show (for those who know it, Jeremy and Isaac from the Sports Night episode The Hungry and the Hunted):

    4. Snuck*

      Yup… I’m with the others.
      Document every sick day and day off without permission.
      Document every failed deliverable.
      Document every complaint and hostile interaction with other staff, even if no action is taken.

      Get rid of the unfounded ethics violation (whatever that is). Document some more of hers and ask her about them on the way through. I’m not talking retaliatory here, I’m talking reality is that someone who is acting this way is probably stomping rules somewhere. Find it. Not to hold over her head, but to discipline her and get her out.

      It’s not a witch hunt if you are collecting genuine evidence she is offering you on a platter. Even you manager wants you to get rid of her – so build the ‘dirt file’ so thick she can’t crawl out from under it, and go for it.

    5. hbc*

      As someone who had a bogus discrimination claim filed after a disgruntled employee resigned, I agree. I was a pretty stressful time since I’d never been through it before, but it was much, much easier than I feared. I got 2 hours worth of guidance from our lawyers, but basically it was putting together all the emails and documents and saying, “Nope,” and then having someone come by and talk to me and his coworkers. Having been through it, I would never let that amount of work stop me from getting rid of an employee.

    6. Annony*

      If you don’t feel you can be honest, I would suggest declining to give a reference at all beyond confirming her job duties and dates of employment.

    7. irene adler*

      Good advice. Don’t lie or try to sugarcoat things with references. Learned that one the hard way.
      My story:
      I managed a very difficult employee. Her work was poor (when she bothered to actually DO the work) and she had a temper. Used to go off on people when they expressed an opinion counter to hers. She’d get in my face when she didn’t like something. Like being asked to focus on work during work hours. She told me that as a reserve police officer AND reserve military officer she must be allowed to communicate with these agencies at all times. Said it was the law.

      Management told me we couldn’t fire her until I’d documented a whole lot of her poor work performance and temper tantrums. So I spent my time doing just that. But it was never enough for them to act. Meanwhile, I’m stuck with her.

      One morning, she informed me that she put me down as a reference for her application to become a police officer in a nearby city. At first I thought this was the light at the end of the tunnel. She’s gonna go away! Yippie!

      Well, this police dept sent someone out to interview me personally. Right up front I was informed that any lies I told would be subject to legal repercussions. Understood.

      He asked about her work habits. She’d only worked for me for about 6 months, so I really couldn’t say a whole lot about that. I said, that so far, everything was fine. Yeah, a lie. But hey, I’m not gonna go into what I have to put up with. They’d drop her for sure.

      Then he asked me questions about her character. He asked me things like, “Is she someone I would turn to if I needed help?” “Do I consider her to be an upstanding member of our community?”. I said, “Sure!”, trying to give very general answers, hoping they were good enough. Instead, he reminded me about the legal repercussions should I not tell the truth. Figured that this meant I wasn’t accomplishing what I’d hoped.

      He pressed me on my responses and I decided to end the interview. It was becoming more of an interrogation-at that point. I turned him over to our CFO/HR person and left him with her. Afterwards, CFO told me she explained things to him. Not sure what all she said. But my employee did not get the job with the police dept.

      I’m very careful now giving references.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Eesh, it sounded like the reference seeker suspected the truth or at least that you weren’t being honest with him. Opting out was your best move.

        I would say, in general, if it’s an issue to provide an honest but negative reference, the best approach (outside of declining to respond at all) is to respond only with dates of employment and rehiring status, and if pressed on actual performance questions, reply that you prefer to leave your response at that.

        1. Massmatt*

          I disagree, the best move would have been telling the truth, which the interviewing officer repeatedly pushed her to do. You are right that the cop probably pushed the issue because he thought she was not being honest–because she wasn’t! Cops deal with people lying, or trying to prevaricate to avoid answering a question directly so as to avoid technically lying, all the time.

          Think for a moment what Irene’s “strategy” of not giving an (honest) bad reference might have meant–a terrible employee with a temper who “goes off” on people for having opinions different from hers being given a badge and a gun. Yay?

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            Yeah, that’s exactly the sort of person who shouldn’t have a badge and gun – but all too often does.

    8. Marzipan Shepherdess*

      YES to not providing dishonest references! From a purely self-interested point of view, lying in a reference letter will call YOUR judgment into question – and, if the other company finds out that you’ve lied to get rid of a terrible employee, you (and by extension, your company) will get a reputation for dishonesty. You need THAT as little as you need employee A!

      As for A: have you documented the specifics of her unacceptable behavior? Have you met with her, gone over what she does that you want her to change and spelled out consequences for not meeting that goal? Is she on a PIP? (Probably not.) The more specific you are about exactly what she’s doing that needs to change, the less standing she’ll have to complain that you’re retaliating against her.

    9. Momma Bear*

      Ugh. Years ago I was a contractor whose contract lost the renewal bid. New Company interviewed all of us and made us offers to stay on board, but I left for various reasons including someone the office manager was afraid of who was never held accountable but whose lack of professionalism affected my job. I agree that OP needs to start documenting how A’s behavior affects others and if A is insubordinate, etc. The company knows she will fight a firing, so they should be prepared to make their own case for getting rid of her. Rather than be scared and cowed, be proactive. A is not the only employee they should care about and if A is as abrasive as described, other folks they might want to keep will start looking for an exit.

    10. Stina Neitz*

      Also, many companies have very strict policies about who can give references and how to do so – check yours. If you are the designated reference giver for A, a simple “she is not eligible for rehire” may be enough to send your message without opening yourself or the company up to lawsuits.

  2. WS*

    #4 – many surgeries require you not to travel by air for 4 weeks afterwards, not just this one, because you’re at higher risk of deep vein thrombosis. Telling them this requirement will definitely not “out” your type of surgery if you don’t want to share.

    1. allathian*

      Yes, this. I think most surgeries do, if they involve going into tissues beneath the skin. Removing a mole won’t affect your ability to travel by air, but pretty much anything else will. Good luck with your surgery, LW!

    2. Harper the Other One*

      Seconded. Even for my very routine laparoscopic gall bladder removal I was asked if I had plans to travel and told it was best to avoid flights if at all possible.

    3. B Wayne*

      #4: Thirded or fourthed or whatever. Post surgery usually has lifting restrictions, also “light duty” even around the house to allow things to heal correctly. I would think a note from the doctor stating no travel or at least air travel for X number of days should be a safeguard. And I agree, you never have to get specific on your personal medical treatments, “medical procedure” or “surgery scheduled for X date with travel restrictions until Y date” is all you need to say. Anything additional is your option and give yourself the satisfaction it is none of their business. Best of Luck!

      1. Fellow Patient*

        I just had mine done 2 weeks ago and while my recovery has been above and beyond even the surgeon’s expectations, be prepared that you might need more than 1-2 days off — I had mine done on a Friday and could have gone back to work (at home) on Tuesday or Wednesday but the pain killers did effect my judgment (I didn’t notice but my bf and a close coworker could tell) so it was good I had that full week off to recover.

        I’d be wary about offering a doctors note though as the someone could very easily google the doctor or the letterhead might give exactly the type of practice it is which would essentially be disclosing what you might be having done.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      (raises hand) I had to cancel a trip because I couldn’t travel for 8 weeks after an eye surgery.

    5. Ashley*

      Also if your surgery is scheduled for April, depending on where you and where you would be traveling there could still be restrictions. If you are non essential you may not even have access to the vaccine to make travel safe. In all honestly April sounds like a great time for the surgery and non travel – hospitals shouldn’t be as overwhelmed, but things probably won’t be quite open back to 2019 levels. Sometimes you just have to schedule events based on medical professional availability and not jobs. Best of luck with the discussion with your manager and the surgery!

    6. LKR209*

      I had a breast augmentation done last year and due to the nature of my job at the time, needed a few accommodations when I returned and the only information I gave was “I’m having surgery that will prevent me from doing A&B for about two weeks”. I never volunteered the type of surgery and they never asked ( I *want* to say it’s illegal for them to ask (I’m in the US), but I can’t swear by that).

    7. CRM*

      This is true! I had my wisdom teeth extracted last year and was told to wait 3-4 weeks before flying because my sinus cavity was still healing and could be messed up by the change in pressure during ascent.

    8. LW #4*

      Thanks all for your endorsements of this advice! I think it should be fine, but I tend to want to provide justifications/explanations when asking for time off or accommodations so am a little nervous about this one. I will report back if anything interesting happens :)

      1. LW #4*

        And yes, it’s scheduled for March as I figured it would be ideal w/r/t travel restrictions likely being ongoing and less overwhelmed hospitals (hopefully!). I really look forward to the traveling I get to do with my job so I’m hoping I don’t end up having to turn down any trips at all.

  3. Arnelle*

    Re: #2 – In addition to AAM’s very helpful guide, I would also urge employers to be mindful of days that are of primary religious/cultural importance to the Indigenous Nations in their part of the U.S. (or elsewhere in the world)—and make clear that you would extend the same courtesy, accordingly. You may or may not be aware that an employee is a member of such a community, so proactively noting something to that regard in any company handbook would be an excellent practice—especially if your place of business is located on the actual historic lands of that people.

    1. High Score!*

      If companies are not large enough to have someone handling that, people don’t know what your holidays are. America is more of a tossed salad than a melting pot so there’s tons of different holidays. Every January, block yours out on your calendar. And alert HR to the issue so they can help with a solution.
      Our team just puts their days off on their calendars and then we schedule meetings that work for everyone. Company wide meetings are offered on 2 or 3 different days (same meeting is repeated) and everyone picks one that works for them.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        Thanks, I agree.
        Honestly its a lot to keep track of everyone’s celebratory/vacation days. If I schedule over them, its because I genuinely don’t know, not because I *do* know and don’t care. I like Alison’s list and will try to refer to it in the future. But blocking days off on your calendar would really help me out, too.

      2. asgard*

        Yes. I was just going to suggest something similar, and it works for all religions/observances, regardless of what your company knows/should know.

        1) Block the time on your calendar as being out. Do this in advance, set them up for the whole year for all the holidays you observe. 2) If that doesn’t stop the meeting invites, (or even if you don’t do that), when you get an invite on a holiday just decline it. If they ask you why, you can say “I’m observing a holiday” if you want them to know.

        1. Momma Bear*

          This. I like the proactive approach. We don’t even get all the “federal” holidays off, but some people take them off because the kids are off school and it’s really easier if people block that off in advance, regardless of reason.

      3. OP #2*

        They do things like scheduling mandatory new-hire orientation on Rosh Hashanah. On a department level, other Jewish colleagues are routinely scheduled for meetings on Yom Kippur that they’ve blocked off and then other colleagues complain about it when they have to reschedule because “who cares about Yom Kippur?”

        Unfortunately calendar updates haven’t been a good solution.

        1. High Score!*

          Wow. Yikes. Complaining about others holidays??? That’s not a scheduling issue, that’s an HR issue.

        2. LKW*

          Wow – perhaps your company needs some better messaging around respect for individuals. Rosh Hashannah & Yom Kippur are the holiest days of the year. If someone decides to opt out of the holidays, that’s their decision, but it should never be dismissed in that way.

          Asking someone to work on Yom Kippur is akin to asking someone to work on Easter. Asking them to work on Hannukah or Purim is like asking them to work on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving – there is anticipation, but it’s not a take the day off kind of holiday.

        3. Chinook*

          OP #2 – that is unacceptable and, with this news,, I believe that you are not overreacting. This to me is a discriminatory environment. I have had this happen to me as a Catholic on a couple of occasions and it made me angry to be told that my worship practice is “no big deal.” Talk to HR or file a complaint with your local labour board as this is discrimination based on religion. With hindsight and the gumption of old age, that is what I would have done if it happened to me now.

        4. Momma Bear*

          In this case, I would go with other colleagues to HR or up the food chain with that department to request that the major holidays be avoided/people respect other folks’ time off. Is it the same short list of offenders?

        5. Shira*

          Are the same people wishing you happy Chanukah the ones saying “who cares about Yom Kippur?”?! Good Lord. I’m fed up right along with you and I don’t even work there.

        6. Antilles*

          I can understand people not recognizing they’re scheduling a meeting for a major holiday; there’s a widespread (mis)perception that Hanukkah is basically Jewish Christmas and so others fall by the wayside.
          But complaining about re-scheduling just seems insane. Not only because it’s a religious holiday and seriously wtf…but also like, have you never scheduled a meeting before? If you aren’t asking people for their availability before scheduling a major meeting, you’re just begging for trouble.

        7. UKDancer*

          That’s definitely a problem with your colleagues.

          Last year I scheduled something on a religious festival (Vaisakhi) because it wasn’t on my radar. When my Sikh colleague flagged that he would need to be off to celebrate it, I moved the meeting. I mean that’s basic respect for your colleagues.

          There are a lot of different religions and different festivals (especially somewhere as multicultural as London) so I don’t know all of them but when someone tells me that a day is of personal or religious significance then I adjust plans accordingly. That’s just so basic.

          I think OP doesn’t have a scheduling issue, they have a staff hostility issue.

            1. Self Employed*

              I’m in a “multi faith, multi cultural” volunteer organization that routinely schedules the annual retreat over either Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashanah.

              Clearly “multi faith” means they accept that Catholics are Christians too or something.

        8. roci*

          Woof, talk about burying the lede! If your coworkers are being openly hostile about your religion then you have a much bigger problem on your hands–time to go to HR.

        9. ThatOnePlease*

          Wow, that’s inappropriate! I’ve never had an issue taking off for Yom Kippur (and even Rosh Hashana is usually a known quantity). It’s usually Sukkot, the last days of Pesach [Passover], and Shavuot that people side-eye you for.

          (Context for anyone who is curious: I take off all Jewish holidays that have Sabbath-like restrictions, so it can end up being a good number of workdays, scattered throughout the year. Chanukah is a non-Biblical holiday and work is allowed. I know there’s been some debate here on whether Chanukah is a “major” or “important” holiday; culturally it may be more visible than other observances, but in terms of Jewish law, it is a minor holiday.)

      4. Chinook*

        And really shouldn’t be that onerous. When I worked for a professional certification company that dealt with the entire country, we had to take to plan the national exam (including alternate dates in case of unexplained weather) and meetings to create the annual exams. We had to take into consideration not only religious holidays but also local cultural events and usual local weather patterns (like hurricane and extreme snowstorm seasons).

        At a local level, all it takes is a quick poll to find out which cultures/religions are practiced locally (because things like Calgary Stampede also affect meeting availability) and by employees and vendors and then add those holidays to your Outlook calendar (there is even an option for that in Outlook). If I can figure out when Ramadan is so that I don’t expect my boss in redneck Alberta to eat with us during our monthly staff meetings (though I give him the option), then it should be easy for those in the bigger cities to do the same.

        On the flip side, if the planners don’t know that you celebrate a certain religious or cultural holidays, then I would err on the side of them not wanting to stereotype you and assume you do. Politely mentioning it to them may be all it would take to make it a consideration.

    2. JayNay*

      Im actually surprised by Alison‘s advice for #2. Wouldn’t it be the perfect opportunity to respond with something like “thank you so much for the well-wishes! Sadly I see we have a strategy meeting planned for the actual holiday, any chance we could move that so I don’t have to miss the meeting or my celebration?” Is that not an acceptable thing to do, especially if the holiday is in people’s mind anyway?

      1. Observer*

        Not unless the meeting is scheduled for the holiday your getting wishes for. So if someone wishes you a Happy New Year while there is a meeting scheduled on Rosh Hashana, then sure. But if someone is wishing you a Happy Hanukah, then making an issue about the Passover meeting is just rude. It’s a LOT more polite to just bring up the meeting schedule when you find out about it.

      2. Yorick*

        No, that wouldn’t really work. It might work if the holiday LW needed off was a particular day of Hanukkah, so a few days away, but LW means Passover or Rosh Hashanah or other Jewish holidays, which are not in December and probably don’t have meetings scheduled for them yet anyway.

        It would be weirdly passive aggressive to use someone’s well wishes to complain about having a meeting on Passover last year. And you can bring this up for next year in a separate conversation.

      3. Kimmy Schmidt*

        I read this as meetings scheduled on other Jewish Holy Days earlier in the year, such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

      4. OP #2*

        I don’t care if people schedule things on Hanukkah; I’m in the office and working. It bugs me when they make a big show of it after scheduling mandatory meetings on our actual important holidays or complaining about Jewish employees blocking off their calendars for them. :)

        1. Momma Bear*

          I don’t really advocate this but the Jewish employees could schedule meetings when these repeat offenders have time blocked off. “Oh, you have a wedding that day? It’s going to be SO HARD to find another time. .”

      5. Reba*

        Well, the chronology is off — the important holiday has already passed (or the next one is far in the future), which is what makes the well wishes for the less important holiday feel hollow.

        And, the OP has added in comments that they *have* raised the holidays with the Powers that Be… And they continue to be ignored/mandatory events scheduled over. So that probably accounts for the (understandably!) Somewhat bitter tone of the question.

        1. Filtrum*

          Maybe, if there’s an opening in the conversation for it, OP2 could say something like “Thanks! Hanukkah isn’t actually that big of a holiday for us, but it gets a lot of press because it’s near Christmas. Our important holidays really are Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, Passover…” etc. It shouldn’t fall on them to educate, but it might help?

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Who else can educate apart from OP? OP is the one celebrating those holidays, OP is the one who best knows just how important each of those holidays are to them. If I, the atheist who was brought up Christian in a place where there just weren’t any Jews (I can’t think of a single town in my county where there’s a synagogue) start assuming that because OP’s last name is Levy or Cohen, that they’re going to take those days off, I might find that actually she’s not a practising Jew at all and would really rather nobody took any notice of her origins and dislikes standing out as being different.
            Likewise, as a vegetarian, it’s up to me to explain what I eat and what I don’t (and bring dishes I can eat if my hosts are likely to get it wrong). Some are actually flexitarian and will eat meat if there’s nothing else on the table, some, like me, would prefer to go hungry.

      6. Bored Fed*

        I think that the problem is that people aren’t really wishing OP2 “happy [Jewish holiday of hannukah.]” Rather, they are wishing them “happy [Jewish version of Christmas.]” So, I suspect that there’s no underlying respect for a different culture.

    3. Des*

      I don’t think it’s feasible to keep track of ALL the various observances, so the easiest thing is to block off your own calendar so nobody can book you for that day.

      1. Dara*

        I get what you’re saying, but it’s different when YOUR observances are consistently forgotten. Especially in a culture where we start celebrating Christmas in like October.

      2. Again With Feeling*

        I agree. It sucks and it’s not fair, but that’s life. Your holidays are minority observances, so the burden is on you to be proactive about blocking off that time. I never expect people to be aware of what days I need off for Jewish holidays. However, I do expect coworkers and managers to be respectful and reasonably accommodating – it sounds like OP’s coworkers are not meeting that bar at all.

  4. Elizabeth N.*

    #1 – I recall a letter from someone who was on the other side of this (OP hired a bad employee who was given a stellar reference because the company wanted to get rid of her). It caused issues for OP and also made the reference provider look bad. Do not do this OP#1. It will you and your company look bad and will cause problems at whatever new place A is hired at.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      I remember that letter – the writer was rightfully upset, especially because she was friends with the person who gave the false reference.

      OP, you don’t want to lie because your industry may be small. If you give a false positive reference to an employer, your problem employee is hired and continues to be a disaster at the new place, you see a job opening in your field down the line that you think would be perfect for you, but wait – the hiring manager is the one you lied to, well, you could be screwing yourself.

      Don’t ruin your reputation over this person no matter how terrible she is.

      1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

        +1. Especially as a relatively new manager, this is potentially a very bad look in terms of your judgement.

        This would be far less risky if it were simply a matter of A being a generally okay employee who’s not a great fit with your team. You know, someone who you could envision doing well on a more suitable team as is. That doesn’t sound like what you’re describing, though, OP, which makes all the difference in how your reference will be perceived if something goes wrong.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          My husband had that situation – good guy, bad fit in current role causing just okay work. Hubby handled the reference conversation by talking up all the guys really good points (because bad fit – he had plenty of good points). Guy moved on and is doing well in new role.

        2. Antilles*

          Agreed. Personally, I think that’s a completely different scenario because you’re not lying about it – you’re being honest about his skills and he’s a solid candidate, just not for the particular role he’s in right now.

      2. Lady Meyneth*

        This applies even if LW’s industry isn’t particularly small. The world can be shockingly tight sometimes, and having a good reputation is too precious to throw away over your first bad employee.

      3. EPLawyer*

        Not only can it affect OP, but ALL of OP’s reports. Some of them are going to move on. It’s a fact of the work world. You don’t want to torpedo their chances of moving on and up because your references are worthless.

        If you lie to get rid of A, no one will trust your references again. This would be another case of screwing over the good employees to shut up the bad one.

        As a new manager take this to heart: do not put up with a bad employee because ts easier over the morale of literally everyone else on your team.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          If you lie to get rid of A, no one will trust your references again. This would be another case of screwing over the good employees to shut up the bad one.

          Good point. I didn’t even consider that.

      4. NerdyKris*

        And industries can be smaller than you think. I used to work at a help desk for in house software in New York. I moved to New Hampshire. Immediately I ran into a pharmacy tech who’s brother in law was one of my former coworkers (my phone still had the NY area code). When I interviewed at my current job I discovered that my boss used to work at a company that used our software and help desk. Someone else at this company went to high school with me in yet another state. One time my mother called AAA because my card was showing I wasn’t a member of the family plan and got a woman on the phone I used to hang out with years earlier who recognized my name immediately.

        You never know when you’ll run into the same people again.

      5. anon again and again*

        Happened in my organization. A person was able to sell themselves in the interview and their management gave them a glowing recommendation. Person got a very selective international position. Got to the office and they could not do the basic duties of the job. They brought someone in the region in to help them and still could not do the job. He got sent home back to where they came from (it is a term position and many people go back to their permanent office) as this person would be a public face of the organization. Made the home office look really bad. Story made it through most of the organization. I would never want to work in that office as they cannot manage their people.

      6. Observer*

        Even if your industry is not small, this kind of story can spread. And then where are you going to be? Functional places are not going to want someone who “manages” like this.

    2. Search Light*

      I remember that letter. Was there an ever an update? I would love to know what happened and if the reference giver was exposed for what they did.

    3. Totally Minnie*

      I thought about the same letter while reading this one. That letter writer ended up thinking extremely poorly of someone they had previously respected a good deal. OP, giving a fake reference for this bad employee might get her out of your office, but it would almost certainly harm your reputation within your industry.

    4. Des*

      Exactly. What if OP someday needs to interview somewhere where this Awful Employee has already burned bridges?

    5. EmmaPoet*

      I was thinking of that letter too. The person who gave the bad reference burned all their bridges with the OP, who had been friends with them for years. If she ever applies for anything where the OP is on the hiring panel/a higher-up, she’s torpedoed her chances of getting that job. Plus, people talk. When word gets out that you give fraudulent references, who’s going to trust that Stellar Employee is actually as good as you claim? She’s messed up their chances of getting hired elsewhere, and, in fact, sabotaged another employee so they wouldn’t leave.

  5. anon for this*

    “She is loud, overbearing, quick tempered, retaliatory, a know-it-all, takes all criticism as a personal attack, calls in sick at least twice a month. ”

    While yes she does seem terrible, one of these things is not like the others! One of these things doesn’t belong!

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, calling in sick is irrelevant. But it’s likely one of those BEC things, a good employee calling in sick twice a month would probably not get the reaction this one is getting.

      1. Aquawoman*

        I think being a good manager means not getting to BEC-level with your reports. I mean, yeah, we’re human, but when someone is causing me difficulties, I try extra hard to be fair about unrelated issues or think about whether I’d react the same way to something if someone else was doing it.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            It’s not a BEC problem; the OP has confirmed that the sick days sure seem like BS (see elsewhere in the comments). There are indeed people who abuse sick days; managers are allowed to take issue with that.

    2. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

      We don’t have all the details here, but taking sick days in retaliation or to avoid something at work isn’t beyond the realm of possibility. It’s not an assumption that I like making, and taking sick days after some sort of work conflict could be indistinguishable from legit mental health days, but yeah.

      1. Mookie*

        So, like everything else accommodation-related that could signify anything good, and, or indifferent within a specific context, you don’t include borderline average or slightly above average sick days as a indubitable red flag on your mental assumptions without evidence checklist. The risk of splash damage is too great. Presumably, the LW would have mentioned that the sick days align with the kind of pattern you suggest if, in fact, they did.

        Also, sick days after work conflict aren’t, in fact, a kind of abuse, retaliation, or fraud by definition at all. They happen and they’re reasonable. They are sometimes labelled, often colloquially, mental health days. It’s never a good idea to lump legitimate abuse, malpractice, neglect of one’s core duties, and the filing of false accusations of retaliation, as this employee has done, with using one’s official or unofficial benefits. That way the erosion of really substandard labor rights lies.

      2. LW*

        OP here…she often tells other staff she’s going to call in the next day then does. If she knows corporate is coming, she calls in. If she’s scheduled for coaching, she calls in. When I day at least twice a month, that’s the minimum. In the 6 months I’ve been here, she’s called in sick 14 times. She basically accrues enough sick time to get a paid day off then calls in. It’s a legitimate issue.

    3. Mel_05*

      Twice a month – every month – seems pretty frequent. I’ve had a few coworkers with chronic health problems and while they were sometimes out 2-4 times in a month. They weren’t out that often every month.

      It was also a known accommodation. I haven’t worked anywhere with 24 sick days a year.

      Personally, if I had a coworker that nasty, I’d rejoice to have them out of the office twice a month.

      1. JayNay*

        It seems like a very US- specific thing to begrudge people their sick days. If someone’s sick, they’re sick. Speculating about whether someone “needs” their sick days is not nice and sends a bad message to people with invisible health issues.

        1. doreen*

          I don’t know if it’s a US thing , as it’s often not a matter of begrudging people their sick days. It’s very often a matter of people taking sick days in retaliation/revenge/to get out of work. The OP mentions above that the person often tells coworkers they will call in sick the next day and that the person will call in sick when a visit from corporate or a coaching session is scheduled. Most of the jobs at my employer require coverage- I’ve known people who call in sick when they are expected to cover for a coworker who took a vacation day. Or Ruby calls in sick Thursday because Emerald called in sick on Monday and we’re playing tit-for -tat. And of course people who call in sick because they don’t want to do whatever is scheduled on that day – coaching or a site visit or whatever. You can’t tell someone is doing these things after a single incidence – but if someone calls in sick every.single.time her coverage partner is off or every time they don’t get their requested day off ( because of coverage issues) , that’s another story.

          Maybe people like this only exist in the US – but I kind of doubt it. It’s way more likely that a lot of people have simply been fortunate enough not to have worked with any.

          1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

            They exist in Canada too. As embarrassed as I am to admit this, I grew up watching a couple of family members openly discuss doing this for all the reasons you described, as well as not wanting to work on the same shift as someone else. I suspect it’s a thing that mostly only happens in certain types of jobs – ones that require coverage and are task-based in a way that means that you won’t have additional work waiting for you after your sick day.

            Obviously I don’t generally assume that this is why someone would call in sick, but I can’t deny that there are jobs that have conditions that lead to this kind of thing happening.

        2. Mel_05*

          No one begrudges a sick day.
          They begrudge people vacation days disguised as sick days. I had friends who openly did that when we were younger.

          My husband frequently has employees call off sick and then later it turns out they weren’t sick at all, they wanted to go to a party.

          1. PT*

            We had a joke at one place I worked about the epidemics of “food poisoning” that seemed to ravage our most immature staff every Saturday and Sunday morning. (Because you can’t call out hungover, and you’re throwing up anyway, and you did technically consume something that was poisonous…)

            I never was one to begrudge someone an illness and didn’t question anyone provided it didn’t become a pattern (if you are sick, you’re sick, I won’t fuss over the cause provided you are generally reliable), but some people really pushed it to the point we had to take disciplinary action.

          2. Glitsy Gus*

            Yep, and again, it’s a context thing. If I found out a coworker called in sick to go to a party once a year, or they just could. not. deal. with talking to corporate on one visit. Whatever. That is basically the equivalent of a mental health day.

            I had another coworker who would call in sick the day after a 3-day weekend every damn time we had one. He just wanted a four day weekend, but would never ask for the day early enough, so it would get denied because someone else had already asked for the day. So he would call in sick and just screw over whoever was actually working that day because it meant we were even more short handed than we were originally supposed to be.

        3. Massmatt*

          See the LW’s further context just above. The problem employee tells others in the office ahead of time when she’s going to take sick days and she takes them whenever she’s scheduled to get feedback or training. This is not an “American” thing nor is it “begrudging” their sick days. This employee is abusing their sick days, it’s a thing that happens. I daresay, all over the world.

          1. EventPlannerGal*

            Absolutely. I don’t think it’s constructive to pretend that this is not a thing – hell, I’ve done it myself. Of course it shouldn’t be the first thing an employer assumes is going on, but it seemed very obvious that the OP was using this as shorthand for “calls in sick frequently when I have good reason to believe she is not sick and just wants to avoid work”.

            It seems quite bad faith to immediately assume that the OP is begrudging legitimate sick leave and chastise them for that, rather than that they are describing the pretty common phenomenon of an otherwise lousy employee frequently lying about being sick.

            1. Self Employed*

              I am disabled and don’t want to see people disparaged for health issues. But if someone has been been “planning to call in” every time there is something she wants to avoid at work, over the course of six months, that’s different. If they want a disability accommodation to not receive training or be present when Corporate visits, they can request it and present documentation. They can’t just go around saying “Oh, Corporate’s visiting tomorrow, I guess I’ll stay home sick!”

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I kind of assumed that she never said she would need two sick days each month for an on-going issue. Perhaps if she had given her boss some kind of barebones clue, that would have made a difference?

      Unfortunately, there are many companies that do not like two sick days a YEAR. I thought that two per month was decent.

      I have seen where bad workers are dinged for the sick time, because the thought behind it is, “You have to be here to learn the job and learn to improve.” Poor attendance can be used as a measure to figure out if the employee will ever improve in the areas they need improvement. Notice, I am not saying this is right or wrong, I am just pointing out that some companies use this perspective.

      If I knew that I would be missing two days a month for an extended period of time, I would develop a plan for how things would be handled without me. This could simply mean I work ahead and get things done a bit earlier. And I would share that plan with the boss.

  6. Diahann Carroll*

    OP #5, I wasn’t a job hopper back in the day, but I did have a few jobs that have absolutely nothing to do with what I do now that I have eliminated from my resume. My university and 2009 graduation date is listed in the education section on the second page, and I only have my positions going back to 2011 on the first one-and-a-half pages. I may even drop the 2011-2013 job off – no one asks me about it or what I was doing prior. So I agree with Alison that you should be good to eliminate everything pre-2010 unless you’re trying to re-enter a field you left back then and need the position for a reference.

  7. Triplestep*

    #2, I find a better opening to explain Hanukkah’s relative unimportance in the Jewish calendar is when I am asked about my plans for the holiday – not when people are offering a holiday greeting for the reason Alison stated. My kids are grown so I tell people truthfully that we haven’t really done much for Hanukkah since they were little and opening gifts every night. I mention that we do more to observe the major holidays, Passover in the Spring and the High Holidays in the Fall. Most people have lost interest by then – they were simply looking for a point of solidarity because its their holiday season and they want to be inclusive and find things in common. I try not to get lecture-y about it, but if they seem to want to know more I’ll tell them Hanukah has more in common with July 4th than with Christmas in that it celebrates a military victory. It marks the earliest recorded fight for religious freedom.

    Some people feel embarrassed at this point (again, they were just trying to be inclusive) so I’ll mention that since Hanukkah falls near Christmas, popular culture has kind of latched on to it and inflated its importance. I don’t feel like it’s my job to make more out of Hanukkah because others want to all link arms and sway this time of year, but I find this a pretty good way to explain why they thought incorrectly that Hanukkah was a big deal. Think of it as saying “It’s not your fault you didn’t know this, but now you know. So don’t schedule meetings on the High Holidays!”

    1. Mookie*

      That makes sense from a teaching perspective, but it sounds like the LW is less concerned about addressing her own individual plans/rights to valid time off for a particular religious observation and more about extending the figurative and literal thought to all people, inclusively, rather than from an AmericanAngloChristian perspective that misunderstands the meaning and relevance of a world religion’s one, not particularly paramount holiday, a holiday that in many cases has become a bowdlerized also-ran not for its own adherents but for that of a different but related monotheistic religion.

      She doesn’t appear interested in enlightening well-wishers for its own sake than in actually securing equal rights and considerations that don’t feel minimizing or like empty gestures that turn into insults when the holiday your interlocutors are supposedly respecting isn’t even, in the same breath, recognized as a legitimate deadzone for scheduling mandatory events.

      Individually, that’s great, but what happens when somebody else does it the next year and the following and the following? These messages, as Alison suggests, seem better delivered, for maximum impact, at the start of a calendar year and addressed to whoever circulates an organization’s internal calendar. That way all important days are instantly included and the burden lay on no one employee to raise, then enforce, the issue.

      1. Triplestep*

        I think you have misunderstood the very short letter, and also didn’t take what I intended from my much longer reply. In her response, Alison took the opportunity to mention that Jews aren’t the only ones having their holidays and observances ignored during the non-winter months by people who haven’t bothered to learn when they are. Which is true, and it’s also true that we (Jews) can be an effective messenger about the need to be more cognizant of these things. But as someone to whom this often happens, I recognized the one-sentence letter as asking “How should I respond to someone wishing me a Happy Hannukah – a minor festival – when they scheduled a big meeting on Rosh Hashannah three months ago?”

        My entire response was about Hanukkah’s relative unimportance and how to convey that effectively to people who seem bent on bestowing an important winter holiday to Jews when we don’t have one. Sure, they are just trying to be nice and inclusive, but it can be especially annoying if those people totally glom over the actual important holidays in Fall and Spring. It’s not about “when the holiday your interlocutors are supposedly respecting isn’t even, in the same breath, recognized as a legitimate deadzone for scheduling mandatory events.” That’s the whole point. Hanukkah does not present scheduling conflicts for most people – it doesn’t rise to that level. But you can take the opportunity to casually point out that there are dates to avoid during times of year the majority doesn’t refer to as “The Holidays.”

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Everything that you said. This is what I do when people get confused about why I’m not “doing anything” for Chanukah. You hit the nail on the head, as far as I’m concerned.

        2. WorkIsADarkComedy*

          In this effort to be “nice and inclusive”, the person elevating Hanukkah is unknowingly superimposing their own culture upon someone who doesn’t share that culture. They assume that Hanukkah is celebrated in a similar manner to how Christmas is generally celebrated in this country. So, the boss who decorated their employee’s cubicle with Hanukkah ornaments, because surely that employee ought to be approaching their holiday with the same kind of delight.

          In a race context, this would be considered a microaggression. It isn’t maliciously intended at all, but nonetheless devalues the other person’s culture. As Jews we have lived with this kind of major annoyance for a long time, but in pales in impact as against similar cultural insults that Black people and other POCs face every day. Like many of the posts in AAM, this creates an aha moment.

          1. Anon Lawyer*

            I mean, decorating a cubicle without someone knowing, yes. Saying “happy Hannukah,” no. That is not superimposing anything. Lots of Jewish people do celebrate Hannukah in various ways.

            1. Self Employed*

              Are Passover or High Holy Days gift-giving occasions? I have a basic idea that these are times of prayer and ritual in togetherness. But I wouldn’t give Christians “Good Friday gifts” even though we get half a day off for them to go to church on a weekday.

      2. RagingADHD*

        No, it sounds like the LW is concerned about their own professional relationships and scheduling conflicts. Because that is precisely what they are talking about in their one-sentence question.

        Alison and you are the ones talking about extending holiday recognition more broadly. All this about figurative and literal thoughts (whatever that means) is straight out of your own head.

        Which is fine, if that’s the point you want to make. Why attribute your own thoughts and opinions to the LW, rather than owning them yourself?

  8. Massmatt*

    I have no patience for companies that refuse to fire toxic employees for fear of being sued. IMO it’s an excuse to be spineless, and they deserve all the toxic employees they get; after all, if being awful makes you untouchable, why not be awful? What’s the point of merely being a productive employee?

    Slack off, yell at your coworkers, do crappy work, throw stuff. It’s job security!

    1. JM in England*

      I too have had my share of A’s in previous jobs. It makes you wonder why to bother being a diligent and productive employee!

    2. Mel_05*

      Yup! I’ve worked at multiple places that had that problem. One place had a lady so nasty customers complained about her – so they moved her to a utility closet! But they didn’t fire her.

      1. JohannaCabal*

        Wow….that’s some Office Space type stuff there!

        Honestly, I see all these letters about super-bad employees who companies won’t fire in spite of all kinds of bad behavior, and I wonder how I can get hired at one of these delightful firms. I promise I wouldn’t be disrespectful to other staff like some of the employees mentioned; I just want to work on my fiction all day, binge the Mandalorian, finish reading Children of Vice and Virtue, play Genshin Impact…in fact, this might make me a star employee at one of these employers.

        (I admit I’m being a tad facetious. I actually was fired (and rightfully so) from a poor fit job years ago where by the end of month three it was obvious I didn’t care and was not-so-obviously going to job interviews. It just feels frustrating to hear about employers refusing to fire employees for doing much worse things than I did.)

        1. Mel_05*

          You have to be willing to put up with a fair bit of disfunction if you’re going to snag one of those spots. And, it still doesn’t guarantee your safety. For example, I wasn’t fired from that job, but I was asked to look for a different one – because utility closet lady complained about me!

          When I found another job they still wanted two weeks notice. I told them, “You asked me to look for a new job three weeks ago, that’s your notice.” They’d already had me train my replacement and cut my hours, so it was an extra absurd ask.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            When I found another job they still wanted two weeks notice. I told them, “You asked me to look for a new job three weeks ago, that’s your notice.”

            You’re my hero.

          2. Generic Name*

            I laughed when you said they asked for 2 weeks notice, and I hope you did too. Sounds like they actually didn’t think you’d find a new job so quickly, and maybe with a side of “you’re useful but only if you put up with abuse”.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, this is actually a management problem. The toxic employee is a symptom of the problem. OP, you may convert them to handling issues like this, but maybe not. I’d give it a set time frame, if you don’t see improvement with management, then save your own self by getting out.

  9. AppleStan*

    OP #2, in addition to the site recommended by Alison (shout out to my alma mater, Mizzou, what what!!!), I’m also a big fan of – you can customize the site for your country, and then filter out (or filter for) holiday types – religious or not. Just an additional resource.

  10. WoodswomanWrites*

    #2, thank you Alison for that excellent link to holidays to avoid. I am involved in my organization’s equity and inclusion efforts, and I will share that resource with our staff as we set up our meeting schedule in 2021.

      1. Mary Gramsas*

        No meat on Fridays still holds for Lent. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday call for fasting on top of that.

      1. Sara without an H*

        Ditto. I’m a fish-on-Friday Catholic, and I appreciate it when there’s something I can eat on Fridays. Having a veggie option is also helpful for people who aren’t vegetarians, but don’t eat certain types of meat.

        1. Delta Delta*

          I was raised Catholic and I really like fish and vegetables so I always looked forward to Friday dinner.

    1. Bluephone*

      Before the early 1960s, yes*
      Since then it only applies to Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and the 6 Fridays in Lent. Even then, the dietary restrictions surrounding Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are not one-size-fits-all. There are exemptions for age, health, overriding dietary needs, etc.

      Also, Catholics are expected to deal with this themselves so it’s on us to not eat meat on those relevant days—the office admin can order as many meat lovers pizzas for the office party as they want.

      *we also say Mass in the local language, women don’t have to wear chapel veils during Mass anymore, etc (some people still wear veils because they want to be Extra and show everyone how great they are at being Catholic or whatever—insert eye roll here). Some breakaway sects also say the old Masses, in Latin, for the same “look at me, look at me!” reasons

      1. Brock*

        In England and Wales, Friday abstinence from meat was re-established by the Catholic bishops’ conference in 2011. So yes, it is requirement for all Fridays here.

        I completely agree that it’s on Catholics to deal with this themselves – if my coworker is having some yummy-looking meat, that’s a bit more penitential for me, but hey, penance is the whole point. Ditto, Friday and other abstinence days are not supposed to be opportunity to see just how tasty and gourmet you can go with fish and veggies. (Except maybe Christmas Eve. :) )

      2. Nanani*

        Some members of my traditionally-catholic family still do the meatless Friday thing. There are also entire countries where the history of food and religion are entwined and fish on fridays is just part of the culture regardless of how observant one is.

        1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

          +1. My nominally-Catholic family is unobservant AF (Vatican II? More like Vatican Who) but we’ve never eaten fish on Fridays largely out of habit. The culture of their country of origin has so much Catholicism and Anglicanism baked into it that I suspect that some of my relatives – even after years of convent school – wouldn’t realize that the Friday fish thing has religious origins.

        2. UKDancer*

          Definitely. I grew up in a very secular house with 2 agnostic parents (a lapsed Anglican and a lapsed Methodist) and we were a fish on friday family. I didn’t know there was a religious reason for it, we just went to the fish shop on Friday to get dinner. I never really thought about it.

          I am now more atheist than anything and sometimes I do fish on Friday but it’s more because I like fish than anything.

          I don’t think about fish on Fridays when I’m catering an event but I do think about making sure we have vegetarian food because a lot more people want that than fish. I think the tuna mayonnaise sandwiches my company provides are really horrible so I’m not surprised the most popular ones are either ham, cheese or hummus (judging by what people eat the most of and what they leave).

      3. Chinook*

        “(some people still wear veils because they want to be Extra and show everyone how great they are at being Catholic or whatever—insert eye roll here).”

        I would be careful about jumping to conclusions and stereotypes. I know some people who do those things and, for them, it is for either personal reasons that make sense to the individual or because they are a tertiary member of an order and have earned the right to wear that veil. Remember that people don’t wear clothes AT you, but because they choose to. That was part of the reform of Vatican II – choice.

  11. NYWeasel*

    Re OP #2: I work in a global company with colleagues from a very diverse range of faiths and cultural backgrounds. The expectation isn’t that we should memorize that Jane observes X holiday and proactively avoid booking it, but rather that we will respect if Jane’s calendar is blocked off for that day and not ask her to take a meeting. Honestly, this is the most effective plan anyway—I think all of us have accidentally booked ourselves on super obvious days (ie my US-based manager booking a meeting on the 4th of July), so it just doesn’t seem like a realistic expectation that our coworkers will be any better at it than we are, lol.

    1. Violetta*

      I agree. Just block off your calendar or tell people you’re out. I also work in a very diverse organisation and we’re not in the habit of all sharing our religious views with each other – guessing at who celebrates what holiday would just be awkward. This problem can be avoided by just updating your calendar.

        1. Mookie*

          Also, why does this need to be done piecemeal, linked to individual employees’s personal lives? Just block the major ones automatically, make exceptions as adults must for events that can’t be postponed because there’s an outside convention or a demanding client or whatever that needs doing, and listen up if some employee, identified or anonymous, clues you in on something you forgot. Of course individual exceptions should be made and company policy should generally accommodate requests without hesitation, perhaps during an open period (say, the first month of the year) or however far out a departmental or team calendar goes.

          The underlying, implicit fear of doing this appears to be the emergence of employees who will fabricate the need for accommodations. So what? The possibility for that exists within all accommodations and benefits. That’s just how it works. Normal places tolerate small amounts of limited bad faith requests in order not to harm everyone else, especially those in need. I fail to see the downside in just ruthlessly observing the major calendar national, cultural. and religious events as a posted policy. Inform up front and then enforce. In the labor-hostile US, anyway, we could easily make up for our lack of “bank holidays” and their secular equivalents by acknowledging within the private workplace the richly historical (a euphemism for domestic atrocities), multicultural nation that we are and will, fingers crossed, remain.

          1. pleaset cheap rolls*

            ” I fail to see the downside in just ruthlessly observing the major calendar national, cultural. and religious events as a posted policy”

            Agreed. No downside.

            “Also, why does this need to be done piecemeal, ”

            It should be done “piecemeal” *in addition* to at a higher level, because people should take responsibility for their time, and because there is such a huge diversity of religion in the world. Yes, where I live we should consider Islam, Christianity, Judaism and perhaps a couple others, but there are a lot of things out there.

            “implicit fear of doing this appears to be the emergence of employees who will fabricate” Maybe for some people.

            For me, as a meeting organizer, it’s just that I don’t really want to deal and if someone is going to complain the least they could do is block the day on their calendar. I actually look at Outlook’s scheduling assistant all the time when setting things up for this reason. And it’s sooooo annoying when someone’s calendar shows they are available is clear and the meeting is clearly in their baliwick, and then, after I invite them, they write back they’re going to be out. For any reason. I don’t actually care about the reason – I respect someone is going to be out. That’s up to them. But do the work to note it in the calendar.

        2. Violetta*

          Alright, fair. For a company-wide meeting they should definitely take major holidays into account. I guess I don’t really understand the OP’s question then – are these colleagues refusing to reschedule after she’s told them that she’s not available? Or is the issue that the rescheduling is necessary at all?

          1. Batgirl*

            I think its more that they should know. A good company should have this info on the calendar. Can you imagine having to reschedule meetings booked for every Christmas? At some point you will ask them to *please* just look up the major holidays.

          2. OP #2*

            They do things like scheduling mandatory new-hire orientation on Rosh Hashanah. On a department level, other Jewish colleagues are routinely scheduled for meetings on Yom Kippur that they’ve blocked off and then other colleagues complain about it when they have to reschedule because “who cares about Yom Kippur?”

            I brought up the new hire orientation date with the diversity and inclusion office and HR and they basically told me to fuck off, and then scheduled it on Rosh Hashanah the next year

            1. Loosey Goosey*

              Wow, that’s awful. Are these colleagues (and HR) generally terrible, or is this somehow an isolated incident? I’d be so upset by that behavior, it would be hard to keep working with those people.

            2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              So their “who cares about Yom Kippur?” was perhaps rhetorical, but the fact is that you, OP2, very clearly do!
              If there are other Jewish employees, or enough employees who do want to be inclusive, could you take this higher up and push back as a group?

          3. Triplestep*

            I wrote this above, but the letter is asking how to respond to colleagues who will make a big deal out of wishing you a Happy Hanukkah (not a major holiday and in fact has no work prohibitions) when that well-wisher is someone who scheduled a big meeting on your ACTUAL important holiday. It’s annoying, and surprisingly common. But mostly we just do our internal eye-roll and don’t say anything to people who mean well and assume we have an important winter holiday, because doesn’t everybody?

            1. Anneanon*

              You know OP, you could have made your point without this snotty language about “actual important” holidays. Chanukah is “actually important” to me and my family and has been for generations.

                1. Anneanon*

                  Yes, of course that’s what she meant but there are ways to say it without being so dismissive. “Holier,” “more religiously significant” or similar. It’s a little ironic to write a letter complaining about religious disrespect while denigrating people who place importance on a holiday you don’t. Maybe I’m just drained from people smugly hectoring others about how hannukah is actually minor, as though it’s not pretty significant in american Jewish culture.

              1. OP #2*

                I don’t mean any disrespect to anyone who actually cares about Chanukah, but I don’t take PTO for it and haven’t seen my family for Chanukah since I was in high school many years ago. It’s just not actually an important holiday for me personally.

                I see my family for Rosh Hashanah and Passover, and usually have a nice dinner with local folks on Shabbat. (Though not during Covid times.)

                It’s amazing to me how much people read into one sentence today. :) I hope you enjoy your holiday?

          4. OP #2*

            They do things like scheduling mandatory new-hire orientation on Rosh Hashanah. On a department level, other Jewish colleagues are routinely scheduled for meetings on Yom Kippur that they’ve blocked off and then other colleagues complain about it when they have to reschedule because “who cares about Yom Kippur?”

            I brought up the new hire orientation date with the diversity and inclusion office and HR and they basically told me to go away, and then scheduled it on Rosh Hashanah again the next year.

            1. EPLawyer*

              Oh this is a bigger problem than scheduling. If your calendar is BLOCKED OFF, it’s blocked off whether its Yom Kippur, Christmas or I Just Felt Like Not Working Day. Then to come back with “who cares about Yom Kippur?” This is a culture issue at your company.

              I hate to say this, but it might not change. You can educate all you want. You can explain how important certain days are over certain other days on the Jewish Calendar. But they have to actually be committed to inclusion not just give lip service for it to work. I would follow Alison’s suggestion but based on the response you get, you might need to move on from this company. Trust me there are others who actually will respect blocked off days even if they privately think whatever they think.

              1. Uranus Wars*

                Yeah, this comment took me to a whole other level of “This LW does not work with/for reasonable people”.

                If I am invited to a meeting on Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashanah I just decline it because I’ll be out and no one has EVER said anything to me. These have been departmental and inter-departmental meetings; I just ask someone to let me know if I miss anything important or get assigned a takeaway.

            2. AvonLady Barksdale*

              Ugh, that stinks and I’m sorry. I’m thankful I’ve never experienced anything quite that egregious, though I did have an issue pre-COVID where my boss wanted to schedule an executive team meeting during Passover that would require travel and included tickets to a sporting event. Four of us on the team are Jewish. The two of us who would have had to stay in a hotel room keep kosher for Passover pretty strictly, which is pretty well known. It was awkward to have to remind our boss that being away from home for several days during Passover, in an area that’s not especially Jewish, would be a hardship and require a lot of planning.

              My boss– the one who scheduled this– is one of the Jewish members of the team. Sometimes it’s like pushing a boulder up a mountain.

                1. AvonLady Barksdale*

                  Well, I’m senior enough to say something and he rescheduled. Then COVID happened. So I was ok. I was just super irritated that I had to point it out to a Jewish person, and he’s prickly enough that both I and my co-worker (who is more senior than I am!) stepped realllly gently around it. Had I been way more junior, it would have been tougher for me.

            3. Hiring Mgr*

              This now sounds like a much different, and larger, problem if you have blatantly “insensitive” (i use that term generously) staff

              1. comityoferrors*

                Christians with light hair, Christians with dark hair, male Christians, female Christians, Christians old and young! So much diversity! /s

            4. often trapped under a cat*

              My workplace is the same–basically ignores the High Holy Days or Passover when scheduling company-wide meetings…and then gets pissed when Jewish employees don’t attend. Jewish employees, particularly those paid hourly, have felt pressured to come to work on major Jewish holidays because they’re “not observant” and “there’s a big meeting” that day. Jewish employees who don’t come in are given a bit of a side-eye, especially since other Jewish employees have some in, and are asked questions about synagogue attendance or other practices. Which may be honest curiosity but feels like asking for justification–if you didn’t go to synagogue, why didn’t you come to work?

              I agree that since different people have different levels of practice/observance, those who want to be off for Sukkot or other festivals/holidays need to make that clear on their calendars/with their bosses. But Passover, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur are the Big Three, and should be taken into account when planning meetings.

              I honestly feel relief when those Jewish holidays fall on weekends, so I won’t have to do the holiday dance that year.

            5. Observer*

              I brought up the new hire orientation date with the diversity and inclusion office and HR and they basically told me to go away, and then scheduled it on Rosh Hashanah again the next year.


              Is this a decent place to work, at all? And what other signs of bigotry and antisemitism are you seeing?

              These guys are asking for a law suit. Because you’re describing a pattern of bad behavior and an effectively official decision to ignore legitimate religious needs.

              My fantasy is that you find a fantastic job with a better employer, report this to the EEOC (don’t tell me that changing the new hire training date is not a reasonable religious accommodation!) and they get slapped with a ton of penalties. I know that the last part is not likely to happen, but they DO deserve it.

              1. UpUpAndArray*

                Um, that scheduling of the next one actively on Rosh Hashanah when you already requested not to is pretty damning. Like, keep that info and track it just in case. You have to do this very deliberately, people who may not know. Judaism follows a lunar calendar, so the western calendar dates are different every year.

          5. Observer*

            They should know about the MAJORS. It’s one thing if you are operating in an environment where there REALLY are no Jews / Muslims / Sikhs / etc. But in a place where there is a community or presence, it’s just good practice to proactively block out at least the major holidays. And it’s just SOOOO easy to find the information about just about any religion. It’s not always realistic to block off the dates for ALL religions, but when you know that you have people of Religion X (and if you are wishing someone a Happy Whatever, you OBVIOUSLY KNOW that you have adherents of that religion in your workplace) or you are in an area with a significant population, then block it out on a company level.

            For instance, I’m not going to expect every company to block out the dates of the Hmong religion. But if your company is in The Twin Cities of Minnesota, then you really should do that because there is a significant Hmong population there.

        3. NYWeasel*

          I agree that company-wide large events should make every effort to avoid major holidays. The OP’s question seemed to be more individually directed though, as it was in regards to (coworkers?) who recognized her faith, but proceeded to still request meetings on days that were important to her. In that situation, I think it’s important to recognize that even though you can see global holidays in Outlook, the way you scroll through the scheduling assistant to book meetings makes it very easy to miss the holiday notations when you’re trying to book across 10 individual calendars and have to keep jumping around different days to find a window that works for all 10. So that’s where blocking off your own calendar makes it easier for others to respect your availability.

        4. KuklaRed*

          That’s exactly what happened to me a couple of years ago. The annual All Hands company meeting was scheduled for Yom Kippur. The company was very sensitive to the important dates in the Christian and India calendars, but somehow the important Jewish dates did not rate any notice.

        5. Generic Name*

          Yeah, I feel like this is more of an issue for companywide events where the planners pick a day based on the boss’s schedule and expect everyone to rearrange their work schedule to be there. It would be like a Hindu boss scheduling a meeting on Christmas Day just because they are available and working that day.

    2. PollyQ*

      That’ll work for smaller meetings, but I’ve worked places where a Big Company Thing was scheduled for say, Yom Kippur. I do think companies have a responsibility to at least check for major holidays if they’re going to be scheduling large events.

    3. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Last month someone from Europe scheduled an important demo for Thanksgiving, and those outside the US realized it was a holiday when the organizer got a out of office response.

      1. Beth Jacobs*

        Yeah, it’s super tricky if you have huge global teams. About half of countries worldwide have an Independence Day and once you factor in all public and religious holidays, you might not have a single day left in a year.
        That said, observation of the High Holidays is common enough in US cities so that it makes sense not to do all-staff events on those days.
        Similar to Thanksgiving honestly: I’m also in Europe and don’t celebrate it, but I consume enough American media to know when it is and would hopefully remember if I had an American on my team.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          Yes, I once tried to organise a meeting, and most participants came back to me saying the last Thursday in November would be ideal.

          Until a participant in America explained why it wouldn’t.

          If I am organising meetings with a number of participants from other countries, I always check for National days or public holidays if they are not the same. (e.g. May Day is 1st May in some European countries, in others, it is the closest Monday)

    4. PB*

      Even with noting it on the calendar, you could end up with a company that denies the request for the day off because you had [insert Jewish holiday here] off last year! I work in an industry where 24/7/365 coverage is required. As the only Jew, I’ve been told I can’t have Yom Kippur off because I had it off the year before and someone else wants the day off for an unrelated reason. It isn’t something that can just be rescheduled. I’ve had to make clear that this is an every year thing, not an “I did Thanksgiving last year so you do it this year” type of situation.

    5. Librarian1*

      Well, the issue is bigger than that though. Jane probably isn’t the only person who observes that holiday, so companies need to remember that when scheduling things in general, especially when they are larger things or things that the employee is expected to change their schedule to accomodate, such as trainings or orientations or conferences.

  12. TechWorker*

    For the Jewish holiday one, is it that you would be out of office on that day, or is that you really must attend the meeting? (Or that, you will be working but don’t want meetings scheduled?)

    In my workplace declining a meeting because you’ll be on PTO is basically always acceptable (and it’s standard to put your availability into outlook so if anyone is scheduling a meeting that really needs you in it they can tell you won’t be there).

    Given the number of different religions with different holidays in play that maybe seems easier than trying to avoid them all – but perhaps I am missing something (and US lack of PTO presumably does mean you sometimes have to work through holidays?)

    1. anon8*

      I’m in an IT project manager role and schedule lots of meetings with different people. If someone declined a meeting for whatever reason, I would reschedule for when they are available. Or if it was just an informational type meeting with a larger group, I would follow up with them afterwards in case there were specific items I needed to review.

      I don’t schedule meetings on company holidays, but I work with people all over the US and in India so I don’t know everyone’s religion. I will readily accommodate anyone who is not able to attend a meeting for whatever reason, religious or otherwise.

    2. Smithy*

      With Jewish holidays and inclusion – given the number of no-work holidays and the reality of what they mean for people of varying levels of observance, this issue is more about what kind of work is being discussed.

      It may be a case where the OP’s place of employment is scheduling major meetings on Yom Kipur, and that leaves the OP to skip them (and thus miss out on major professional opportunities) or skip the holiday. It could also be a case where the OP’s employer is preparing external events that aim to bring together a broad community of X professionals, and those events always have Friday night/Saturday programming. And while the OP may not observe the religious guidelines of Shabbat – by design those events will always exclude.

      While I appreciate the effort of that website – it really gives very little context. There are not a lot of Reform, Conservative or cultural Jews living outside of Israel who will be seeking accommodations for Shemini Atzeret or Shavuot. However, Shabbat – which is not mentioned on that website – is a weekly no-work holiday for Orthodox Jews. And if you wanted an event that included all of a city’s educators – planning it over Shabbat would be as bad as any other no-work holiday on that list.

      For organizations/companies aiming to work with a larger, diverse external community – investing the time to become aware of deeper details on holidays and what it actually means to adhere to dietary restrictions – it’s worth it. But because that level of detail is both more and less than many workplaces need – just dropping that website in their lap and walking away often isn’t enough.

    3. Urt*

      I second the suggestion of putting your off work days into the calendar regardless of why you are off. We work across the globe and it’s not very effective for me as an individual to remember when China does New Year or when Malaysia is celebrating their national holiday, given that I can’t know whether someone over there hasn’t been especially called upon to be available that day. To me the calendar is what’s important, it doesn’t matter whether you are out because holiday or just taking a day to sleep in the sun or going to a funeral. To me it’s only important that you calendar states when you are available so I know when I can schedule our meeting.

      I imported our local public holidays into my calendar so they are always set to out of office. When for whatever reason I’m indeed available on one such day, I simply switch the availability on that occurrence of the holiday.

      For large scale company wide meetings that’s of course a different beast.

      1. Observer*

        very effective for me as an individual to remember when China does New Year or when Malaysia is celebrating their national holiday,

        But if you are working for a company with people in multiple countries and / or of multiple faiths, then you and your company SHOULD have a calendar that covers at least the major holidays of each. Then you work around those for company-wide meetings AND you check where people are for smaller meetings.

        Putting the onus on individuals simply doesn’t work in most cases, because stuff often needs to be scheduled before you get to see the calendar of every person who is going to be at the meeting or event. The wider the net, the more likely this is to be a problem. Multiply that by 10 if you are also dealing with external people.

      2. pancakes*

        This needn’t be a memory issue at all – if you routinely work with people in certain companies, it makes sense and should be done as a matter of course to check holiday calendars for those countries before scheduling multinational calls or meetings.

      3. roci*

        I would argue that it’s important for you as an individual to have a general sense of the main holidays of the countries and cultures you work closely with. Some holidays are a public day off, some are celebrated but not officially given time off (like Halloween or Valentine’s Day). Some are celebrated with fasting, so people will be at work in a reduced capacity. Some have only one public holiday off but people generally travel to visit relatives or take multiple days off, and that won’t be noted on your calendar. If you’re planning a project with Americans and have a major deadline for December 28, it won’t show up as a holiday on your calendar, but you should have the cultural awareness to know that’s not a considerate date.

        …I say, as I email my US colleagues about our branch’s holiday office closures for the nth time…

  13. E*

    The Wiccan dates on #2 look so oddly banal to me as an Irishwoman, because many of them are simply months of the year in the Irish language.

    >Also referred to as Harvest Home, the Feast of the Ingathering, and [September].

    Samhain being a technical exception because November is translated as Mí na Samhna (month of Samhain) not Samhain itself.

    1. Femme d'Afrique*

      The section on Kwanzaa also got a side-eye from me, especially this part: “Given the profound significance Kwanzaa has for African Americans and indeed, the world African community…”

      The founder of Kwanzaa was quite clear about it being an American holiday (based on various African philosophies). American companies certainly should be cognizant of their US employees who observe the holiday, but it is misleading to say that it is celebrated by the “world African community.”

  14. misspiggy*

    Thank you so much for the holiday resource, Alison. I like how many different holidays are related to yearly shifts in light and dark and the food production cycle, and how much in common that suggests we all have.

    I’d forgive someone initially scheduling a big meeting on an important festival, because a lot of people aren’t familiar with lunar calendars. Refusing to check or change it before finalising would be a bad sign.

    1. allathian*

      Yes, but what always strikes me is how northern hemisphere focused the Wiccan/Pagan/etc. holidays are. I’ve always wondered if there are any Wiccans in the southern hemisphere and if so, do they reverse the calendar?

  15. voyager1*

    LW1: There is a good a chance your company would not want you giving any reference if there is a ethics complaint involved. I would verify with HR about what you should do in the case you are asked about a reference on this employee.

    LW2: Just take the days off or put on your calendar, or tell folks when you are not going to be available during those days.

    LW5: Disagree with AAM. If the work experience is relevant, you really should include it. I wonder if the 10 years on a resume is another one of those myths like the HRIS systems reject so many resumes.

    1. Smithy*

      Your point on #2 often puts those in minority religions in the position of skipping major professional events or opportunities – particularly for those early in their career. It’s rarely just about someone scheduling a weekly Teapot Review meeting.

      I will also flag that for many less observant/cultural Jews, some of these holidays have evening/family cultural obligations. This may mean that there was always the plan to be in the office the day-of the holiday, and therefore the challenges emerge around evening or travel requests create a bigger problem. This is a particular issue regarding Passover. For many Jews, they never take a day off of work for Passover – but having key travel opportunities during Passover rule out the primary celebratory opportunities (the dinner with family).

      1. Urt*

        What do you do when you have a dentist appointment in the evening?

        I personally plop an out of office in my calendar for that time and I do the same for concerts, traveling arrangements, weekly language class and everything else I don’t want skip sure to someone in the US forgetting that it’s 7pm here.

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          Well sure, but I can reschedule my dentist appointment if that’s the day my company schedules mandatory New Hire training or not buy a concert ticket for that day. I can’t exactly reschedule Yom Kippur.

          1. Urt*

            I don’t know when you schedule your dentist appointments or concerts. I do that at least six months in advance. I have yet to see a non-regular meeting scheduled six months in advance. I’m not waiting another six months for another dentist appointment and I’m not going to eat the ticket cost for a concert or pass a once in a lifetime opportunity, so your “I can’t reschedule my reason to ooo” is kinda moot. You presumably do know the dates for Yom Kippur early, so you can block them in your calendar quite early.

            If you ignore my ooo, you get a “reject, not available at that time”.

            1. Smithy*

              You seem to be very strictly focused on meetings where everyone’s calendar is acknowledged. A lot of business meetings do not take into account everyone’s calendar. They try to find times that work for the largest number of people – regardless of blocked time off.

              There should be a difference in consideration for those who have dental appointments – which even if scheduled six months in advance can be rescheduled – compared to religious holidays.

            2. Observer*

              Also, most people don’t schedule dentist appointments 6 months in advance. Equally importantly, your someone’s dentist appointment is highly individual whereas Yom Kippur is not. It’s also something that a meeting or event organizer can easily find out without having to check multiple people’s calendars, unlike personal appointments.

            3. Insert Clever Name Here*

              Well you just go ahead and do what you’re doing then, while the rest of us at least attempt to be inclusive without putting the onus on those in the non-majority. Best of luck to you.

            4. Librarian1*

              It’s not about the normal everyday types of meetings though. It’s about conferences and mandatory HR trainings and other stuff like that. Stuff that skipping it would cause problems for the person doing it. It’s really not a huge deal to expect a company to not schedule stuff on major holidays of other religions or cultures.

            5. roci*

              A dentist appointment/concert is an optional, personal choice, not a religious and cultural holiday celebrated by millions of people. Those are not on the same level.

              Also since you also know the dates for Yom Kippur in advance, you could also look them up and not schedule the meeting on those dates…

        2. Smithy*

          I think this is where the point of inclusion becomes relevant. For hyper international jobs where it’s wildly unlikely for people to be aware of international state and religious holidays of note – this makes a lot of sense.

          But while these issues happen within offices, very often we’re talking about external events,meetings – you can’t just be relying on the in-office calendars. Strictly relying on your own staff taking care of their calendars in regards to religious observance is not a way for a workplace to build the muscles of what it means to be an inclusive workplace.

    2. OP #2*

      It’s difficult when it’s something like mandatory new hire orientation. I promise I know how to block things off on my calendar!

      1. Triplestep*

        I cannot understand why people think this is about whether or not you can take PTO. It’s about not scheduling mandatory or just really important things on a holiday! I would totally want to lecture people who do this and then wish me a Happy Hanukkah, as if that’s some demonstration of their sensitivity and inclusivity. ‘Course I wouldn’t, but making a big deal over my minor holiday because it happens to fall near your big one – and not bothering to learn when my actual important ones are – is the opposite sensitive and inclusive! I wrote a long post above about how I handle this that I hope is helpful, but I have yet to find a D&I office that considers Jews and Jewish Holidays or concerns. We are just not on their radar.

        1. roci*

          Totally agree. The only correct response to “you booked something on my religious/cultural holiday” is “oh no, I’m so sorry, I should have been more cognizant. I will reschedule it immediately and be more careful next time.”

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yeah, I’m a bit frustrated at the “just block off your calendar!” talk. It’s not that simple. Often it’s more than one person who’s affected, and it’s also SUPER AWKWARD as a junior person to bring it to people’s attention. When “mandatory” comes in, that’s even more awkward and intimidating. I have lived in major cities and worked in huge corporations, and I still know there are eyerolls when I bring up Jewish observance. And I work in media, of all things, which, no, our people do not control.

        It’s natural to feel bad and like you’re making a fuss, even if, intellectually, we know that it’s necessary. So believe me, I get it 1000%. When a company based in NYC books a huge companywide meeting for Yom Kippur (of all days! Not Passover or Sukkot– Yom Kippur! A holiday that’s listed on wall calendars!), it immediately makes us feel marginalized.

        1. Smithy*

          I used to have an external facing job based in Jerusalem, and given who I worked with, I had colleagues who worked Sunday-Thursday, Monday-Friday, as well as those who had Friday and Sunday as their weekend and technically worked Saturday. That was in addition to being mindful of the Jewish, Muslim, Druze and Christian religious calendar, what that meant in terms of state holidays as well as cultural practice for increased use of vacation time.

          And you know – when you take the time to care because it’s part of your job, it’s really not impossible. I worked for an organization of 40 people, based on my work duties – it was really important I be aware, but there were other colleagues as well. And so for colleagues where it wasn’t as much of an essential job function, they knew who to go to ask

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yep. It would be nice if the “just block it off on your calendar” people would listen to the many people here of minority religions who are explaining why that doesn’t work.

          1. Triplestep*

            And while it’s nice that some of the “just block it off on your calendar” crowd were understanding after OP#2 posted examples, it would be nice if they took a step back and noticed that Jews are posting in a way that indicates we didn’t need examples. I don’t fault others for needing it spelled out – not at all. But it’s telling that other Jews knew exactly what this one-sentence letter was referring to. It’s that common.

          2. Me*

            Especially when the holidays then get ignored! I remember in college, there was a major event scheduled for the first night of Passover one year and when it was pointed out, we got a “ooh, no, can’t reschedule, there isn’t another date, sorry!” But the next year it was scheduled for accepted student weekend, and for that it could be rescheduled.

            Like dude. I don’t begrudge them rescheduling for the accepted student weekend (they didn’t want the high school seniors at the event, that’s fair), but they should’ve rescheduled for Passover too, especially since a solid 20% of the school was Jewish.

  16. SpookySzn*

    In regards to #1; the letter writer mentions that among the other behavioral issues, A calls in sick twice a month. That…doesn’t feel like a behavioral issue? I’m not defending A; they sound like a terrible employee. But I also don’t know why every manager gets so irritated that someone would dare to take sick days. Maybe A has a less visible medical issue they don’t want to share, or mental health issues they’re trying to manage! The missing work just doesn’t come up in the letter again, so I don’t know why this manager (and other letters from managers) even mention it.

    1. LW*

      I mentioned it because we run on a very small staff in a very busy office and almost every time she calls in, she tells another staff member she’s going to do it. When called out on it, she claimed it’s a huge coincidence and she’ll stop “joking” about calling in.

    2. Cat Tree*

      Twice a month doesn’t even seem that egregious to me, but sometimes it’s hard for healthy people to understand what it’s like to have invisible disabilities or chronic conditions. One of the things I love about my current job is that I don’t have to nickel and dime my vacation days half a day at a time for my numerous doctor appointments. I just take the time needed and work before and after the appointment and it doesn’t count against my vacation time, or even technically count as a sick day (which are unlimited here). At other places I would sometimes call in sick for doctor appointments just to save a little of my vacation time, and if I’m sick in the morning I can’t really go in in the afternoon. And most appointments require a follow-up a few weeks later. It doesn’t seem that hard to rack up two days a month.

      Also, someone planning a sick day isn’t that suspicious. Sometimes I can feel something coming on and it’s not severe enough yet to leave work, but I know my body and know it will be worse by the next day. Or even if it’s not that bad the next day, I know that taking a day off to rest will nip in the bud, but it I try to power through it it will just get worse. I’ve also taken the occasional mental health day, which I sometimes realize I need the day before.

      If this employee is blatantly abusing sick days, her manager needs to … manage that. The problem isn’t the amount of sick days, but the abuse of them. Since I need so many sick days, topics like this always make me feel guilty for using what I need, or worried that my boss is judging me negatively for it. I wish I could just do what I need to do without feeling apologetic or feeling like I need to work extra hard to make up for needing accommodations. It’s not a very inclusive attitude to perpetuate this idea that taking sick days is a moral failing, just because managers can’t be bothered to actually manage individual employees.


  17. Chriama*

    Op 1 – most severance packages come with an agreement not to sue. I say you speak to legal counsel about the best way to document her issues and structure her termination and consider the generous severance payment as insurance against future lawsuits.

    1. Sara without an H*

      This might be the best way out, if the company has counsel available. Even if they don’t, OP#1 might want to try to persuade senior management to at least consult an attorney who specializes in these issues to get a sense of their options and what kind of damage control is available. While giving A enough money to make her go away feels like rewarding bad behavior, it’s probably the cheapest way out.

      I’ve (unhappily) learned this after a long career in higher education, where the only way to get rid of tenured glass bowls is, unfortunately, to pay them off and let them retire early.

  18. Staja*

    I think a lot of the pricklyness regarding scheduling meetings on Jewish holidays is about knowledge (and lack thereof). A goodly portion of non-Jewish (and non-observant) Jews aren’t going to know much about which holidays have work restrictions- especially if they see Jane in the office when Outlook tells them it’s Chanukah or Purim or Yom Ha’atzmaut.

    Companies, for sure, should avoid scheduling (as much as possible) events during major religious holidays – the guide Alison posted was great. For individual teams, though, the needs can change over time – I put my OOO days on my calendar, so people can schedule around me, as needed.

    My company also made what I think is a positive change last year – they stopped giving us Good Friday (and President’s Day) off, and replaced them with floating holidays. Now, people who wish to and/or need to take these days off can do so. I can now choose to use floating holidays to cover two of the many work restricted Jewish holidays without touching PTO.

    1. carsa*

      My company did that too and I think its a great move. You can’t possibly give every single persons religious holiday off, and that doesn’t even really make sense, so let people choose which days they want off.

    2. Insert Clever Name Here*

      My company is trying to make moves to do something similar here (although the local school districts are closed for Good Friday, so that’s still a company holiday), and the overwhelming feedback from employees is: awesome, but if the intent is for those floaters to be used for non-Christian holidays *then employees must be able to take it off without supervisor’s approval* so that you don’t get a supervisor who scoffs when someone wants to take off for a holiday he isn’t familiar with.

    3. Nanani*

      In LWs case, the core problem seems to be that Jewish employees try to block out the major holidays and are overridden by people who explicitly don’t care.

      No amount of messaging can fix that!

  19. LW*

    LW here…A has been with the company for 10 years. Thus is the 3rd department she’s been in. They’ve had many opportunities to get rid of her and for whatever reason, have not. The ethics report happened when there was no manager in the department and the lock on a cabinet containing confidential information broke. A reported it to ethics stating my manager was refusing to fix it and jeopardizing confidentiality but never actually told my boss it needed fixed. She does her work well, but her personality is awful and she lives to throw others under the bus.

    1. Totally Minnie*

      I managed somebody like A a few years ago. I left for another position within the company, and a year or two later our A got promoted to a managerial position. Her staff are miserable. All those vindictive qualities I noticed when I was her boss? They’re on full display now that she has authority over other people. I understand how hard it is to have her on your team right now and how frustrating it is that your management won’t do anything about it. But please do not do this to A’s future direct reports. They do not deserve to become A’s next punching bag just because your boss is pushing you to get rid of her.

    2. Choggy*

      The ethics violation should be a non-issue if there is no proof your boss a) knew the lock was broken, and b) they refused to fix it. Should be easy enough to discredit A if all she was doing was throwing your manager under the bus. Wasn’t the issue disputed by your manager? I can see how your manager wants you to fix the problem, but really, it should be the two of you working together to come up with a plan. Make sure all i’s are dotted, and t’s are crossed, I can’t imagine she’s a mastermind who thinks she can hold your company hostage. She sounds more like a bully who needs to be put in their place.

  20. LoudWoman*

    #1 I certainly don’t know the people involved…but I’m wondering if A’s personal characteristics would be such a big deal if she were a man…because in my experience being a “loud, overbearing, quick tempered, retaliatory, a know-it-all, (who) takes all criticism as a personal attack” man doesn’t bother as many people as it should.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Yeah, I would say someone who makes up ethics violations and has been punted off to different departments throughout the company over a 10 year period because of their terrible attitude is a problem regardless of gender. Not everything is sexism.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I worked with two As who were men, and whom the company had taken their sweet time firing (yes they both ended up getting fired, but it took close to a year with each). I will say that from my experience, it bothers people *more*. A man who is a “loud, overbearing, quick tempered, retaliatory, a know-it-all, (who) takes all criticism as a personal attack” comes across a lot like he’s about to resort to workplace violence at any moment. Like you are putting your safety on the line anytime you come into work. Especially if the male A has it out for you personally (one of our As decided he had a personal grudge with a teammate, and she dreaded coming into work every morning). It is just… not a great quality to have as a coworker, no matter who you are. I cannot begin to imagine having someone like that as your manager. God help whoever ends up reporting to A in her next job (but I still believe LW1’s company should terminate her, and LW1 should give honest references, or at least, no references).

      1. Janne*

        I think the point here is not that “loud, overbearing, quick empered, retaliatory, a know-it-all, (who) takes all criticism as a personal attack” men are at least as bad to work with, BUT that women who are assertive and capable easily get labeled a know-it-all and loud. Women are too often expected to be timid and docile. Then a male A could be much much worse before being labeled loud, overbearing, etcetera than a female A would be.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          That was my understanding of what the point was, too, agree; that a man with the same behavior as A’s would be seen as assertive, management material etc, and A is being unfairly labeled as difficult because she’s a woman. And my response to this was, no, a man behaving the same way as A does would be seen as threatening, violent, and dangerous.

    3. Threeve*

      Once it gets to a certain point, aggressive behavior (shouting, singling people out as the targets of anger) that might be perceived as obnoxious in a woman is more likely to read as genuinely threatening in a man, though.

    4. JSPA*

      #1, your problem can be someone else’s solution. This of your list of traits as, “why the employee does not work well here,” or “is not tenable here.”

      Remember, in the process, that someone who’s feeling under-appreciated and retaliated against is rarely at their best (regardless of how things started).


      Strong personality. Clear sense of how processes should run. Forceful. Intense. Takes no BS. Just completed a degree, and champing at the bit to move on.

      There is someone who wants exactly that. (There are people who will want her just to clear out a department, without having to fire people, but also, places where loud and loudly opinionated is prized.) Helping her find people who want her, and helping people who want her to find her, does not do a disservice to anyone.

      Chances are, she will also make it clear that she doesn’t consider her current job a good fit (or a fit place to work) when she interviews; an honest but detached assessment will be more believable, more effective and more fair to all, than something broadly gushy. She will probably also highlight (or at least, display) parts of her personality that are problematic in her current role, but that might work well elsewhere. Remember, per her own goals, she’s not failing at being the person you think she should be; she’s succeeding at being the person she actually is.

      1. Observer*

        Please don’t reformulate to the point that you obscure real problems.

        What the OP describes is NOT someone with a “clear sense of how processes should run.” And the words “forceful and intense” are intended to obscure that she is also rude and obstinate in areas where she doesn’t have standing.

        an honest but detached assessment will be more believable, more effective and more fair to all, than something broadly gushy.

        Maybe. But what you’ve suggested does not sound like an honest assessment. \

        1. JSPA*

          Honesty doesn’t mean avoiding every possible euphemism.

          If I got this assessment about someone I was considering, I’d have a fair idea what it meant, and I’d know what to look out for.

          1. JSPA*

            (Noting that this was written before reading about the shuttling to three departments and the other additional details, and it’s meant to address the fact that only some of the negatives are absolute, whereas others are far more workplace-specific.)

            There are PLENTY of workplaces where nice people who care for others crash and burn, because the workplaces themselves are not caring or respectful of the employees, and where the management style is “drill seargent.” Someone like this can be very successful in such a place, and may make good money doing it.

    5. Ray Gillette*

      It could be sexism if a man was allowed to get away with that kind of behavior where a woman wasn’t, but it sure sounds like she’s getting away with it.

    6. Gazebo Slayer*

      We should solve this problem by demanding better behavior from men, not by demanding that women get away with being obnoxious bullies.

  21. Hey Whats Up*

    Hannukah isn’t really a major Jewish Holiday though. You do not have to stop work (like with Yom Kippur) and if you did wouldn’t you book that time off? Saying as a Jew, the question doesn’t seem like it’s from a Jewish person.

    1. Smithy*

      As a non-observant Jew, who this year snapped at a friend who asked me a Hanukkah related questions……sounds like a question from a Jew to me.

      My take on this letter, is that the OP took offense to a specific co-worker saying Happy Hanukkah who had earlier scheduled a business critical meeting on a holiday like Yom Kipur. It likely depends on the nature of the meeting or office, but where I work, a lot of key meetings will be scheduled around the calendars of the “most important” attendees only. And it may have been the reason why Yom Kipur was free on “so many” calendars was because other meeting planners had been mindful to avoid scheduling any business critical meetings on that day.

    2. Anononon*

      I think you misread the question. OP gets frustrated when colleagues go out of their way to wish her happy Hanukkah (thinking they’re being such good Jewish allies) when they completely ignore and schedule over actual major holidays.

    3. Observer*

      I think you have it backwards – the OP is not asking for accommodations for Chanukah. They are complaining that people are being all sweet about it but messing up on the REALLY important stuff – In the comments they mention that the company schedules mandatory training on Rosh Hashana even after they have been specifically asked not to do that!

      Yeah, spare me your “good wishes” that are about trying to force me into your mold. Not that I would say that. And it’s possible that the person who is saying “Happy Hanukah” has nothing to do with the other. But, it really does resonate.

      1. Tuesday*

        Yes, I think saying “Happy Hanukkah” allows people to feel like they’re being inclusive, but they’re only focused on Hanukkah because it’s around Christmas. Other, more meaningful days, are off the radar entirely. Not Jewish myself, but that sounds incredibly aggravating.

      2. MCMonkeybean*

        I agree with Alison that the holiday messages are not the issue though. I think it’s basically like “how are you” in that they are just saying some brief polite words as part of a normal interaction and there is very little actually meaning behind them anyway so it’s better to just ignore that as any other generic greeting and address the calendar issue separately.

  22. Flabbergast*

    I’ve never understood the “I can’t fire this person because they might do X” line of thought, for two main reasons:

    1) I work in at-will employment state.
    2) The same employer will fire other people at the drop of a hat.

    Even when there is a credible threat of a lawsuit, if an employee is that bad, they are going negatively affect every worker around them and possibly your whole organization. It is always a huge hit to morale to see workers who don’t do their job and cause no end of a strife, and then think, “Why am I working this hard?”

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Yup. Good employees see this and get demotivated real quick when they realize that people who don’t do a tenth of what they do are still employed and possibly make the same or more money than they do. They then leave for greener pastures.

    2. irene adler*

      Yes, the “at will” concept also has me wondering why this is such an issue for an employer.

      When I had to fire an employee, I had to generate a bunch of documentation to prove she was not doing her work before actually terminating her employment. It was explained to me that she might sue. My employers feared the cost of defending the company in such a lawsuit-no matter how frivolous.

      You make a good point. Employers need to consider the ‘cost’ to good employees when not terminating a difficult employee.

  23. Bob*

    LW1: I am no lawyer but here is my advice.
    If you are sure she will sue then gather evidence in preparation for this and then fire her.
    If there are yelling spells record all of them. There are cell phone apps that are excellent. Assuming only one party needs to give permission to record in your location her yelling at the boss and treating others badly would be great to have many examples recorded of. Document everything else, in detail. Even use video if possible. Multiple instances. Keep all correspondence you get from her that indicates her bad behaviour. Escalate her discipline progressively but non judgmentally. Pay any severance she is due after firing.
    When she sues you should have a slam dunk case and even get her to pay your court costs if this is an option in your location
    All that said consult a lawyer today and find out how to best handle this, in case what i have told you is correct or there are even more ideas. Consult a second lawyer if you are not very happy with the first. Ask them how to handle reference requests as well.

    1. Anononon*

      Please consult with a lawyer before taking the advice here. There are so many potential concerns and ways this could backfire.

        1. pancakes*

          Unless advising others? You are offering a lot of advice yourself, to the point of calling a situation “a slam dunk case” even though you know perfectly well you don’t have all the relevant facts!

  24. Blaise*

    Letter #1: I’m surprised Allison didn’t address this- clearly A is a horrible employee, but sick days have nothing to do with it. If they have enough days banked to use two a month, that particular point should have absolutely no bearing on their employability.

    The other stuff though, absolutely…

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      From the context, I assumed there was evidence that the sick days weren’t legit, and indeed the LW has confirmed in the comments that’s the case. It’s possible that wouldn’t have turned out to be the case of course, but those impressions usually do bear out (which I assume is what reading a zillion letters a year will do).

    2. Aggretsuko*

      If you look above, the OP has said there’s a lot more to the use of sick days. It sounds extremely deliberate, like A isn’t actually sick. She is openly pre-planning her “sick days” to avoid going to work to avoid certain situations.

  25. Spicy Tuna*

    #1 – An HR director that I respected very much at a job several years ago had a policy of never providing references. She would verify dates of employment and title, but never provide a reference due to liability issues. I think it’s fine to decline to give a reference; as Allison stated, that sends a message.

    Regarding the issue of the employee herself… document, document, document! Document everything so if she tries to trip you up legally later on, you have good documentation.

  26. Ballot*

    About that holiday calendar…. while I understand the intention, following it would make it very difficult to schedule any meetings at all. If you are going to block off every date listed – that’s pretty much the bulk of the year.

    1. Generic Name*

      Every date on that link doesn’t require time off from work, though. Pagans do not take off work for Samhain. The list notes which dates have work restrictions, and from glancing at it, it was less than half the dates noted in there.

        1. comityoferrors*

          You can start by adding the holidays marked as “holiday with significant work restriction” to your calendar and avoiding those dates in general.

          It’s like 2-3 days (max) a year for 4-5 major religions and cultures. One of those religions already gets their days off automatically, so maybe 12 days across the year? Adding those to my calendar is a 20 minute investment to avoid alienating my staff and colleagues for the other 11.9 months of the year.

          If you are really struggling to not schedule time on those dates, I guess at that point you could reach out individually to confirm everyone’s availability. But throwing your hands up and saying “there’s no way I could possibly know!” from the start is a copout.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Thankfully, the pagan holidays are generally celebrated at night so you don’t have to worry about getting time off from work for them.

        Also, I shudder at the idea of having to ask for time off to go to a ritual at a lot of work places.

    2. AnonInTheCity*

      Do you celebrate Christmas? Would you find it odd and inconvenient to have an all-hands meeting scheduled on Christmas Day?

      1. Ballot*

        In that case I would tell my manager that I celebrate Christmas and please avoid scheduling significant meetings and/or training on that date in the future.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Which the OP did about Rosh Hashana, and was told “nobody cares about Rosh Hashana”….except Jews definitely do.

        2. Loosey Goosey*

          But blocking off others’ holidays is too much of a burden? I’m not understanding your point.

          There are several days throughout the year that are Jewish holidays on which observant Jews do not work. There are other holidays on which work is permitted (like Chanukah). It may be slightly inconvenient, but it’s perfectly doable to block out the handful of no-work holidays, assuming the workplace cares to accommodate those employees.

  27. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    OP#1, you’re hitting on one of the reasons why I refer to Reference Checking as part of “Voodoo Management.” There’s no real way to get around ulterior motives and shenanigans, so I agree with Alison and just decline to provide any reference whatsoever as a flat policy, and learn to evaluate candidates without having to trust perfect strangers’ opinions of them. The next time you call for a reference check, the recipient of the call may well be grappling with the same dilemma.

    I’d also join the chorus recommending you document the employees behavior and shortcomings, prep the PIP to CYA and start moving towards life without them. It’s tempting to sabotage a competitor with them, but it has too much potential to backfire.

  28. Anya Last Nerve*

    I’m going to have to disagree with the advice on 5, especially if the person is applying to more senior roles. I have a senior role and it required at least 15 years of relevant experience. My career started in 1998, and you can bet employers are interested in it. As a hiring manager, if I saw someone’s work experience only going back 10 years, I would assume they only had 10 years experience. I think job jumping early in your career is not uncommon and as long as you later had long term jobs, it won’t shoot you in the foot.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Someone with 15 years of experience can mention this in their cover letter, application, and interview – their resume doesn’t need to be an exhaustive list of every position they’ve ever had.

      1. Anya Last Nerve*

        If you mention in your cover letter that you had 15 years of experience but you only tell me about the last 10 years on your resume, I’m going to think that’s odd. I also don’t see cover letters used much (at all?) in my industry and I didn’t draft one for my current job (I got a call from an internal recruiter based on my LinkedIn profile – particularly my relevant experience from a job I held starting in 2004).

    2. fhqwhgads*

      When a job requires 15 years experience, it’s usually in that field. The job hoppy early career stuff that doesn’t strengthen their candidacy doesn’t really matter if it’s not related to the jobs their applying to.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        When a job requires 15 years experience, it’s usually in that field.

        Either that, or it’s an entry level computer programming job.

  29. Angstrom*

    #3: It’s amazing to see how many companies don’t have a technical career path for folks who don’t want to manage. I feel the same way — I’d like to work on bigger, more complex widgets, have a role in the design of new widgets, and help newer widget builders. I don’t care much about titles but would like some recognition of my increasing value. I’m much more useful to the company managing hardware and data than I would be managing people.

    I had an engineer friend who got kicked upstairs to management. He was a competent manager but didn’t enjoy it, and eventually asked to go back to the lab where he was much happier.

    Talk with your manager — if not now, then during a review would be a natural time do bring it up. Say something like “I’d like to keep learning and growing technically and professionally . I don’t want to move into management. Can we figure out a path for me to do that?”

    1. Mockingjay*

      LW 3, what about task management? Instead of supervising employees, would you be interested in coordinating the work? Is that a possible path? It’s a good role for experienced employees like yourself. You can prioritize tasks, ensure the workflow is going smoothly, train the new employee on processes, flag problems for your boss, etc.

      This is the path I’ve taken; I’ve tried management roles twice and completely sucked at it (I hope my employees forgive me someday). I don’t have the soft skills to deal with people’s behaviors, but I’m excellent at organizing data, tracking progress, and adhering to the schedule. It’s also the kind of role that allows you to still make widgets.

    2. virago*

      Did we ever get an update from the OP in the letter that Alison linked in her first answer? The letter was from 2016 and involved a board that was wary of firing a well-connected church secretary who refused to use a computer and bad-mouthed the pastor (to the point of falsely accusing him of embezzlement).

    3. MCMonkeybean*

      I’m not clear on why they are thinking it is likely a new widget-maker would be their report instead of their coworker.

  30. OP #2*

    They do things like scheduling mandatory new-hire orientation on Rosh Hashanah. On a department level, other Jewish colleagues are routinely scheduled for meetings on Yom Kippur that they’ve blocked off and then other colleagues complain about it when they have to reschedule because “who cares about Yom Kippur?”

    Unfortunately calendar updates haven’t been a good solution.

    1. designbot*

      Sounds like they’re applying their own view of holidays (Christmas is the big one and everything else is secondary) which is causing them to assume Hanukkah is the one to watch. Are there ways that you could signal that Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashanah are actually your super important holiday seasons to help kind of re-orient their approach on this? Could you block them out on your calendar? Email out in advance saying you need to leave at X time on these days because celebrations begin at sundown?
      Totally agree with Alison that snarking about Happy Hanukkah messages isn’t the right approach, but a signal to address the more important aspects of this head on.

  31. Veryanon*

    For the first LW, suppose the worst happens and she does end up suing you. So what? That’s why there are lawyers. Don’t let fear of a lawsuit prevent you from moving forward with doing the right thing. Obviously this is not an endorsement to act in an illegal manner, but rather, if you are operating within the law and are managing her appropriately, a lawsuit will pretty much go nowhere.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      Much as I would love to avoid a lawsuit, I think A is going to sue no matter what happens to her.

  32. Tina Potts*

    Back in the day, the only thing most reference checkers asked or reference givers were allowed to do was to verify that someone had actually been employed with said company. Specific questions were answered with a polite deflection that the company did not give out info other than to verify dates of employment. So, is it common these days that people actually expect you to dish on employees?

    1. TootsNYC*

      this is not a “back in the day” kind of thing.
      And reference checkers were ALWAYS (and ARE always) allowed to ask as much info as they want to–there is no restriction on what they can ask about.

      Individual companies have recently heeded legal advice about not giving more info in order to protect themselves from defamation suits–but that is simply a voluntary business practice.

      In fact, it’s been the last 20 years or so that companies have gotten fierce about not allowing managers to give references. And managers often still find ways to give good references for people they really like.

      For our OP’s sake, though, it’s quite common for a person to NOT give their current manager as a reference.
      And it’s common for reference checkers to not even ASK for the current manager as a reference. In fact, our OP’s situation is exactly one reason why to not ask–if they have a crappy employee, they may lie to get rid of them.

    2. pleaset cheap rolls*

      “Back in the day, the only thing most reference checkers asked or reference givers were allowed to do was to verify that someone had actually been employed with said company.”


      That was true for some organizations but certainly not all.

  33. Lisa Babs*

    Hi OP#1. Did she ask you to be a reference? Because I think you might be worrying about nothing. You have only been her manager for 6 months and you are her current manager. If she sticks to the common convention (which she might not from reading the letter) she would ask other people to be her references before you. People that managed her longer and do not currently manage her. So I would think she would ask the person who previously had your job or managers from previous jobs before giving your info to potential employers.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I agree; also throw in that many places don’t expect you to give your current manager/employer as a reference, because there’s always a risk in letting your current employer know you’re looking.

  34. TootsNYC*

    #5: I finally ended up with a two-page resume, and the earliest years had a lot of short stints (start-ups and weaker companies that folded).

    I thought of leaving them off, but I did like having them there (partly because it’s a small industry, and people might say, “hey, I worked there!”). So I grouped them.
    It was easy to do, because it was essentially the same job at each place.

    > 1998–2010: Generic Job Title at Company A, Company B, Company C

    The job descriptions tells everyone in my field what I did–it’s pretty much the same everywhere. And under the listing I put only those things I had accomplished or been responsible for that were notable (basically, “transitioned between computer systems” was a heavy feature of those jobs, and I wanted to highlight it, and that’s why I even wanted to keep them) or unusual.

  35. virago*

    Alison and fellow regular readers: Did the OP in the letter that was linked in the answer to the first question ever provide an update?

    The letter was from 2016 and was about a board that was wary of firing a well-connected church secretary who refused to learn how to use a computer and vocally bad-mouthed the pastor, to the point of openly and falsely accusing him of embezzlement.

  36. Rusty Shackelford*

    #3, I don’t ever want to be a manager, and I don’t think I’m shooting myself in the foot by letting that be known. But I think you’re really making a leap here. Hiring another widget maker does not mean you’d be expected to manage that widget maker. It means someone else would be working alongside you, under your manager. If they planned to hire an assistant widget maker, that would be different.

  37. Office Grunt*

    Re: #3, I wish that the CEO at my old job actually asked for my input before shifting me into a such a role. No feedback, no offer of a pay bump, just a “you’re now in charge of this person, start training her on your duties.”

    The short-term outcome was pushing out two good people within five months. Long-term, four people in as many years have held the now-disingenuous title I had (Lead is still in the title, but has zero direct reports).

  38. Yet Another Consultant*

    I have a follow-up questions to LW#5 – If you decide to remove some non-relevant experience from your resume, do you still have to show the continuous work history? For example, could I keep experience from 2009 but remove some irrelevant experience from 2011 and 2016 or would that open up the conversation about “having a gap” (even though I don’t)?

  39. IT Heathen*

    #2 –

    The source Allison provided is okay, but the holidays listed as “Pagan” are a bit misleading. Pagan covers a wide variety of practices, and each of them carry a specific calendar.

  40. Jay*

    To #5:
    I was also in that scenario myself. I ran into some really, really bad luck and even worse advice, job-wise when I graduated college in ’98. I ended up spending most of my twenties moving from low paying temp. job to low paying temp. job, slowly picking up a skill here and a skill there until I had a full set of valuable skills.
    I now keep two different resumes.
    The standard two pager with the brief synopsis of my most important work and the huge 10 pager that has EVERYTHING.
    The two pager is what I include with applications.
    However, I always note that I have the full 10 pager available at any time, upon request. I also always bring it to interviews and make sure to at least make the interviewer aware of it’s existence.
    I’ve been with my current company for quit a few years now and am myself firmly into early middle age. I can say that it was the ten pager that got me this job. The much wider variety of experience I had netted me an above market salary to boot.
    So, just have it ready, and let them know it’s there if they want it.

  41. Blue Eagle*

    ~ You will be lucky to get this person to work for you.
    ~ I recommend this person with no qualifications whatsoever.
    Hee! Hee!

  42. Joan Rivers*

    Serious question: If someone takes their own religious holidays off, does that mean they come in and work on Christmas? Would they be offended if asked to?

    1. JustaTech*

      Growing up one of my parent’s friend was a nurse, and she was Jewish. She asked to take off for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, and then volunteer for things like Christmas and Easter.

      For places that aren’t open on Christmas because it’s a federal holiday in the US, most people expect that they will use PTO to take other religious holidays. There wouldn’t be any point in asking them to come in because no one else is doing business that day.

      I don’t think the OP’s issue is having to take extra days, it’s the assumption that their religious holidays don’t matter and they aren’t being allowed to use PTO for those days (mandatory training usually can’t be re-scheduled).

      Here’s another way to think about the question: should atheists not be allowed to take off for Christmas because they aren’t Christian? Should they be expected to work on Sundays because it’s not a religious day for them?

      1. OyHiOh*

        I want my “weekend” to consist of Fridays and Saturdays (I’m Jewish and loosely observe Shabbat); work Sunday – Thursday. That’s pretty unheard of in the US white collar office world, but my boss is seriously considering the possibility. We have a small shop, my boss is pretty flexible as long as the work gets done, and there’s quite a bit I can do on Sundays, probably more efficiently due to not having constant interuptions. Particularly the creative and technical writing parts of my job, which also can be done remote. I already have core hours M – Thurs, and quite a lot of flexibility around the core.

        I think that white collar office work in general needs to adopt a more flexible view of what a work week looks like; and recognize that no one solution is going to suite all employees. There are certain functions, particularly around finance and banking, that aren’t do-able on Sat/Sun, and federal holidays in the US. But US federal holidays are a mere 11 days a year. Like the pandemic-era lines between “work which requires you to be present at a work site” vs “work which can be done remote” I am not convinced that because financial/banking functions require one to complete work 8 to 5 Monday – Friday, all office workers everywhere in the US must also work 8 to 5 M – F.

        1. EmmaPoet*

          I pretty much work this schedule in my job. I do have to work every alternate Friday, but I’ve found this is about as good as I can get right now, and I really prefer it to M-F.

        2. Loosey Goosey*

          The standard workweek in Israel is Sunday-Thursday, so that might be a good model for your boss to look at. I didn’t always love it when I lived there, especially in the summer when shabbat ends late and you have work the next day, but it is very nice to have Fridays off.

    2. Smithy*

      If the issue is straight coverage for workplaces that are open close to 365, there’s often understanding about at least being asked to work holidays not of their own faith.

      Where employers have the opportunity to go the extra inclusive mile is to be mindful to the cultural/state holiday implications. While many Jews will take off days to celebrate Yom Kipur/Rosh Hashana, it’s less culturally common for there to be extended travel to see family out of town on those holidays. In the US , what is often more common is for Jewish family to travel to see each other over Thanksgiving given the days off of school, slow time at workplaces, etc. Therefore in a situation where employees may be asked to swap which years they take which holidays off – if a Jewish colleague is pushing to always have Thanksgiving off, it’s may be because other “highly desired” holidays are less important to their family life.

      That example is purely US based, however lots of minority religions develop cultural practices that respond to their own state’s calendar, school holidays, etc. It’s very common for parents of all faiths to plan travel around school holidays regardless of whether or not it corresponds to any religious holidays they celebrate. Therefore while specific coverage on another holiday often isn’t an issue – that’s not the same as assuming a non-Christian parent of school aged children will gleefully accept never taking anytime off around Christmas.

    3. Librarian1*

      Not if the organization is closed on Christmas. Many are because it’s a federal holiday. In fields where people need 24/7 coverage, a lot of Jews will volunteer to work on Christmas.

      1. WS*

        Yes, this. In the town where I grew up, a majority of the hospital doctors were of Muslim or Hindu background, but a majority of the nurses were of Christian background. The nurses organised taking turns to have Christmas, but it was never a problem getting doctors on that day!

    4. Loosey Goosey*

      Can’t speak for all Jews, but I’d be happy to work on Christmas. It’s just a random weekday for me, and everything is closed so it’s not even a useful day to get things done. If I could help out colleagues and get an extra day of PTO to use how I preferred (instead of having December 25 off), I’d do that for sure.

  43. designbot*

    Followup question for the advice on #5: I’m in a field that values experience highly—there’s a lot to learn, and much of it occurs over multi-year projects, so more experienced workers are a super valuable resource. I fear doing this would make it look like I only have 10–15 years experience and cause potential employers to shortchange me. So how do you do this while still conveying how much you’re really bringing to the table?

  44. DiscoCat*

    #3 I just resigned from a job that turned out to be way more people management than task and project management, I was 4 weeks in. My boss accepted it, it is important that I enjoy the work in order to excel and perform. There was no mention of being a team lead or managing the team’s and other colleagues’ work in the JD nor interview, turns out that managing people, their expectations, performance and relationship with other departments (with which there are entrenched difficult relationships) is about 75% of the job. I love my team, they are great, intelligent, hard-working, dedicated people, but I’d be terrible at managing them without having a project of my own.

  45. AJD*

    If you do not feel confident in an employee, do not give a reference for them. You are putting your professional reputation on the line every time you recommend someone. I have declined to leave LinkedIn references for people because I did not think they were good. You can say No.
    BTW – congrats to the person who wants to stay a widget maker and not a manager. I’m exhausted with good workers becoming bad managers (they still want to do hands on work and not manage people or projects). Not everyone needs to manage a football team and you can be a great football player.

  46. Not Dead Wood*

    #3 – this is actually a big unspoken problem. There are too many jobs where you can’t just… stay and do the job! Do it better, more efficiently, with some new twists, sure; not just stagnate. Why is it the expectation that everyone wants to move on/up? Some of us just want to do the job we signed up for. I am an academic librarian. I am absolutely happy to learn new skills, change the way I do things, adjust with the times, etc. I’m happy to interact with patrons and assist people, manage projects, etc. But…In no way do I want to manage people or move into the administrative realm. Why is it that staying in the same role and doing what you were hired to do is seen as a negative if you just happen to have been there for some years? I admit, I don’t understand that mentality and it is rampant.

  47. Tupac Coachella*

    LW #3: It sounds like the decision makers may still be in the thinking phase, so definitely speak up now! If they specifically want to add a layer, they can format the position they’re hiring as a supervisor, which is a completely different type of job search. If they’re just considering changing the job because they’re assuming you want to move up to management, they know they don’t have to do that to keep you (and may actually lose you if they don’t give you the choice). I was surprised to learn how much flexibility exists in the “writing the job description” phase. At my organization, a lot of descriptions are written with a particular person in mind. Knowing your goals and preferences can be very useful in that process.

    In my case I did want to move up, so I was proposing hiring someone under me. I told my boss “I know you’re thinking of ways to meet X need. Here’s an idea I have about how I could support X if we did [my plan]. I know this is one of many options. I’m on board with whatever you decide because I value X.” We went with my plan, both because it was a good plan on its own and because it also met Boss’s goal of keeping me happy and engaged with my job. If they can meet their objectives AND make you happy, they’re going to jump at it.

  48. WonderWoman*

    Regarding #2, I love the resource Alison shares because it highlights key holidays and provides important workplace-relevant context around them.

    I used to work at a company where I was one of the few Jewish employees, and we had a lot of Jewish clients. We kicked off every project with extended onsite client meetings for which attendance was extremely important for all parties involved in the project. Every spring and fall, I had to remind my colleagues not to schedule these meetings over High Holy Days and Passover. I finally asked someone in HR if we could add these dates to the company calendar, explicitly pointing out that it would be a courtesy to our clients as much as our own staff. However, rather than blocking off a mere 3 holidays on our company calendar, she sent a company wide email suggesting that everyone add Google’s Jewish, Christian, and Muslim holiday calendars to their own personal calendars. Which was. . . extremely not helpful, as these calendars are meticulously crafted to feature every celebration for their respective faiths and offer no context around what might be relevant in the workplace. Furthermore, the assumption that only Abrahamic religions needed to be taken into account was super problematic. And, finally, her inclusion of the Christian calendar felt pretty laughable, given that we are in a Christian majority country and don’t work on major Christian holidays anyway. I know this was all very well-intended, but it was completely ineffective.

  49. always read, never comment*

    #5, there were a lot of job hoppers in the early 2000s, so don’t feel bad that you were one of them. I graduated in 01, and it was fun trying to get a job when the dot com bubble burst after hearing “it is so easy to get a job, all you need is a college degree, any degree!” for the previous 4 years. My resume is pretty spotty from that time, but my current one only goes back until about 2007/8 when I got my master’s and had relevent jobs to my current profession.

  50. La la la*

    #1- just simply verify dates of employment and title. If she’s already made a complaint and threatened a retaliation claim, I’m surprised your company’s lawyer hasn’t already told you that that’s all you should be doing.

  51. Silverose*

    Thank you for the link to the list of annual religious holidays. It is the first such list I have ever seen my own faith (Pagan) included in, and I about cried. I’m bookmarking the link to hold onto for the future.

  52. Outer Circle*

    #1– If she is retaliatory, you need no other reason not to recommend her for a position in which she would have authority over others–especially as it seems too often to be the policy of some higher-ups to take the manager’s word over that of the subordinate.

Comments are closed.