update: my career counselor says I won’t be able to work because of my monthly medical appointments

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

We have so many updates this year that I’m going to be posting six to seven times a day for the next several weeks — so keep checking back throughout the entire day.

Remember the letter-writer whose career counselor told her she shouldn’t expect to be able to work because she has monthly medical appointments? Here’s the update.

Thank you so much for the advice. After I first met with her (and the shock wore off), I was totally sure that she was in the wrong, but after a while I started to wonder if maybe she was right. Then after I read your response I realized she was way out of line.

The person I met with was not my usual academic advisor, she was actually a grad student (getting an advanced degree in something to do with social work) working there for credit. I have a friend who works in the advising office as part of a work study thing so I was able to get a little more detail from her. I wasn’t comfortable going to the Office of Disability Services so I just emailed my regular advisor and basically said I was very uncomfortable and upset with the way the meeting went and asked her to look into it.

She immediately started an investigation with someone from the Dean’s office and they asked the grad student (who denied everything), but the meeting was recorded so they were able to watch/listen to it. They ended up formally apologizing to me and the grad student was reassigned to another office on campus (financial aid).

Because of COVID, my family had some money problems and I ended up getting a part-time job. I took your advice and disclosed that I would need to leave early once a month and they seemed a little unsure but went ahead with hiring me anyway. Unfortunately they kept scheduling virtual meetings on Friday afternoons so I would have to bring my laptop into my bathroom and lay on the floor with the lights off (I get really dizzy), occasionally muting myself so I could throw up. They wanted me to come into the office (I had previously been working from home) but obviously I couldn’t and they guilted me enough about it that I ended up quitting.

I found another job and they’ve been really great about me leaving early once a month. I’ve gotten a few comments from coworkers about me being “lucky” to leave early on Friday. I wish I could show them where I actually am all weekend–in bed or on the toilet! But most people, including my manager, have been great.

Thanks again for the advice, Alison!

{ 209 comments… read them below }

  1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    You’ve got a big Texan, fully sympathetic “Bless your heart!” from me, OP! I’m glad you left that dysfunctional workplace and many of us can testify there ARE greener, more understanding pastures. I’m glad your new place is more tolerable!

    1. katertot*

      This is so interesting to me- where I’ve lived and they use this phrase (Virginia, North Carolina) “Bless your heart” is NOT at all sympathetic but generally kind of condescending and not seen as a genuine reaction- so in Texas is “Bless your heart” truly a sympathetic expression?

      1. Dreama*

        West Virginia here, and yes, “bless your heart” is a term of sympathy, not sarcasm. I suppose if it’s said sarcastically, your conclusion could be reached. I think Texas’ use is sincere.

        1. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

          I am also from West Virginia, and I grew up hearing it said sympathetically (though sometimes with a small degree of condescension, or maybe more pity than sympathy). Then I moved to the Deep South and things were confusing till I learned it really did not mean the same thing!

        2. Stopgap*

          Well, now I’m confused, cause I’d heard that “bless your heart” was how Southerners said “fuck you.”

      2. Dancing Otter*

        I thought the distinction was between second and third person.
        “Bless your heart” is thanks, sympathy, all positive.
        “Bless her heart”, though, implies she really /needs/ God’s help. Kind of like saying, “I’m sure she’s doing her best.”
        Background: Midwest Episcopalian

        1. Ada Doom*

          I really needed to be reminded about “I’m sure she’s doing her best” right about now. Some days working through the ticket system can be soul-crushing.

        2. Clisby*

          Not sure how it’s distinguished in the Midwest. In the South (at least where I’ve lived – SC and GA) the distinction has nothing to do with first-person vs. second person. “Bless your heart” might mean “You are so sweet!” or “You are foul.”

      3. noahwynn*

        As a Southerner, it is all about tone. It can be truly sympathetic and wanting to give someone a hug with words or it can be downright mean and nasty.

      4. EKB*

        Virginian here, also lived in Georgia – I’d say it can be used genuinely here too, but the sarcastic version is a little more common. Context clues rule it all though!

      5. Cyn*

        No. In Texas it is usually a veiled “My god, you’re f*king stupid, stop talking.” But… there is the small caveat that some (mostly grandmotherly types) do use it with sincerity.

      6. Clisby*

        I was born in SC and have lived most of my life here. Yes, “bless your heart” absolutely can be an expression of empathy/sympathy.” It also can mean something like “Fuck you and your idiocy.” It’s all in the context.

      7. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        I am from Virginia, and yes, “Bless your heart!” is usually used sarcastically here. But not always. I think the tone is relevant though. When I hear it used sarcastically (which is most of the time here), the tone makes it obvious that it is sarcastic (done way over the top, mockingly, etc.).

  2. KHB*

    How great to hear that this mostly resolved well, but those comments from your current coworkers are still not OK. If you did want to explain to them what you were doing with your “lucky” Friday afternoons off (whether in all the gory detail or just a more general “you know, I’m dealing with a painful medical condition, which doesn’t feel so lucky to me”), I don’t think you’d be out of line, at all.

    1. PersephoneUnderground*

      Yeah, you can always just say “Oh no, I’m just heading to an appointment, nothing exciting” as if they were asking about your afternoon plans. That kind of sideways comment can be addressed if you want and probably will make you feel more comfortable if you just say something. For the record, as you progress in your career things like this will become less and less important, and jobs will usually become more flexible generally. A former manager of mine took a half day every Friday to volunteer at a charity. It was just a fact of life, no one thought less of her for it or that she was slacking, she definitely put in her time elsewhere just fine. We just knew we had to get her before 2pm on Fridays if we needed anything.

      1. Artemesia*

        An appointment will be interpreted as psychiatric by many and many want to keep such matters private as there is a lot of discrimination based on mental health issues; in this case it is a physical health issue and she doesn’t want to disclose that — so there is no vague way to protect herself.

        People really need to get a grip but alas, this is pretty typical in the workplace – snoopy, jealous, thoughtless — there will be some.

        1. BeeKeen*

          Agreed! My daughter experienced this recently. In spite of keeping management in the loop, she was let go from her job because of “absenteeism” when, in fact, she was going to her counselor. She got them on it, though. ;)

        2. coldbrewraktajino*

          I agree that vague answers can raise more speculation than you might like. But “an appointment will be interpreted as psychiatric by many”? Really? “many”? A weekly one *maybe* mental health would be a common assumption, but this one’s monthly. I wonder if there’s a regional or industry trend there.

          In any case, at my workplace if you start having regular appointments, people start wondering if you’re pregnant. (Or rather, once you announce your pregnancy, people say stuff like ‘when you started taking Wednesday mornings off, I started to wonder!’)

    2. Disco Janet*

      I agree. Obviously the OP has no obligation to tell them anything about her condition, but in some cases it does make it better, and may help the coworkers grow an ounce of empathy. I have an autoimmune condition that sometimes affects work and after a bit, I do tell usually tell my supervisors and close colleagues.

    3. Four lights*

      “Unfortunately, I leave early for a medical treatment that really knocks me out, so I’m not actually able to enjoy any of the time.”

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      In my experience (living with several painful disabilities that require regular medical help) about 50% of the nosey parkers will back off when you point out actually, no, having to spend the rest of a day in hellish pain isn’t a holiday.

      The other 50% will head for “oh it can’t be that bad”, “you’re making it up for attention”, “you don’t need medication for that you just need to lose weight/ingest essential oils/tap dance with a cactus on a full moon” or “eww gross I don’t need to hear about your problems!” (Then why stick your nose into them?)

      Fortunately I’ve got a steel spine these days (ironically I have an actual fractured spine) and don’t give a toss if someone gets offended that I dare to have something wrong with me. And that’s all the information that they get usually; that something requires medical attention and the rest is nobody’s business.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Forgot to include the percentage who’ll assume I’m pregnant because woman+medical appointments = baby. (That one WILL send me into a rage)

        1. coldbrewraktajino*

          This is totally a thing at my office too. When I started weekly physical therapy appointments I debated mentioning this to my team lead. I didn’t want speculation about my uterus.

        2. Julia*

          My medical appointments were actually at an ob/gyn clinic (endometriosis, yeah), so I prayed that the office would not require me to hand in a doctor’s note to excuse my absences.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            Oh god, endo is a monster (took the docs 16 years to decide I had it). I did lie several times about what operation I was going in for when I had laparoscopy. Did not want ‘oh she’s having a gyno operation, bet it’s something to do with babies’ going on in the office.

            (They were nice IT guys but shockingly regressive in their views of female biology)

      2. KHB*

        Good point. I admittedly don’t have much personal experience dealing with nosy jerks, so I was working on the assumption that the coworkers are just a bit clueless and would be mortified when the reality of the situation was pointed out to them. But of course, not everybody is like that. Sorry you’ve had to deal with this.

      3. Working Hypothesis*

        Side note: my occasionally bizarre brain interpreted your “tap dance with a cactus on a full moon” as tap dancing with a cactus in a location which was physically ON the full moon! And not even “on the moon” the way the moon really is, out in space and airless and with 1/6 gravity either (although that might make for some pretty cool tap-dancing so long as you could do it in a space suit) — more like on a dance floor that was made from taking the full moon from the sky and tipping it on its side so that it lay flat. A round, slightly pitted dance floor that glows a bit.

        Yes, my brain is a strange place at times.

        1. Lepidoptera*

          Honestly, wouldn’t put it past some of the people who suggest these outrageous things to mean it in the exact way your brain interpreted it.

        2. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Don’t worry about it mate. My psych meds give me some really weird dreams and once it WAS about a cactus on a moon. Of Jupiter….

        3. allathian*

          My brain went to “I wish I could tell all those nosey Parkers to go and sit on a mother-in-law’s cushion, ” a.k.a. golden barrel cactus.

      4. Lizzie Bennett*

        Oh dear (insert deity of your choice) on a skateboard, the next person who tries to sell me essential oils for my chronic illness is going to have Angry Lizzie on their hands. STOP WITH THE OILS, Y’ALL.

        1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

          @Lizzie Bennett, but my coworkers girlfriend’s brother’s ex-wife’s dog tried going gluten free and it helped!

          I have a digestive disorder, very very well managed by my medication. People love to tell me that the medication is bad (so it has a lot of side effects, I KNOW) and that if I just changed my diet I would be perfectly fine. It’s like dudes, 1. I did not ask for your advice on what treatments I do, and 2. If you knew how to cure my disease you wouldn’t be working here.

          1. Former Employee*

            Well, if the dog suffered from gluten intolerance they no doubt did do better going gluten free.

            Not sure if animals can be gluten intolerant, but just in case…

            That this has exactly nothing to do with you or your medical problem is the real issue.

            1. Whatever Floats Your Goats*

              Well, dogs can have various food allergies (looking at the pit mixes with a bit of a stink eye) including to some grains, but actually feeding completely grain free boutique diets has been linked to DCM (Dilated Cardiac Myopathy) a condition where the levels of taurine are either limited or not bioavailable and leads to an enlarged heart and can be fatal. So that gluten free dog still better be under a vet’s supervision and not treated with some sketchy home remedies!

              Just a heads up to all the other fur lovers: don’t feed grain free unless your vet seems it absolutely necessary and ideally with a WASVA compliant brand.

        2. Dragon_Dreamer*

          I’ve had someone not only tell me that my mother caused me to “catch” autism by getting me vaccinated, but then tried to tell me about this garlic-based cream that would make me “normal.” She was so pushy that she wouldn’t leave me alone. We were closing for the night, and she ran out the door (after paying for her stuff) to grab the cream from her car. I was quick enough to lock the door behind her. She tried to shove it through the tiny gap between the double doors anyway, begging me to just try it! Cue CBF when I walked away. 9.9

          1. Dragon_Dreamer*

            Forgot to mention: I’m allergic to garlic, and I TOLD her this. Did not stop her even for a second, and she told me that it was all in my head.

      5. Dahlia*

        I also had a fractured spine this year! No steel, though, just a lot of lying down.

        Hope you recover as quickly and as well as possible!

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Sadly it was 20 years ago and is permanently causing me pain. But! I got one heck of a stubborn take-no-crud from anyone attitude from dealing with it, and my walking canes look cool ;)

    5. boop the first*

      Those comments annoy the heck out of me too, even if there isn’t a medical reason behind it. Annoying because they’re almost always intended to guilt the recipient. To what end? I have no idea. They could just ask management for a new schedule if they wanted to, so I don’t get it.

      (In my case, I’d asked for weekends off for a while, so a new coworker always griped at me about it. He wasn’t around during those earlier years that I was closing at 1am on fridays and opening at 9am on saturdays. In my mind, I’d paid my dues. Forget reasoning with them, just say “yes, I do feel lucky!” LOL

      1. LavaLamp*

        At my old work, everyone knew my dad since he had worked there for nearly 20 years, and was well respected. He was diagnosed with a disabling illness (Ankylosing Spondylits) and a new coworker only knew that LavaLamps dad has a bad back whereas everyone else knew what was going on. She cornered me by the copier one day to sell me on a clinic for people with back troubles caused by injuries, and her heart was in the right place but she would not let it go when I politely said it wouldn’t work. Finally I had to snap at her that my dad’s disease was genetic, never going away, and stretches would hurt him. Sometimes people suffer a severe case of foot in mouth disease.

        1. Super Admin*

          Just wanted to say I’m sorry, and AS sucks. I’m in the process of arguing for a genetic screening for it (my uncle had it, and I have bad spine and joint issues) and I too have had to firmly tell well-meaning-if-oblivious coworkers that, no, what worked for their pulled back muscle won’t work for my collapsing spinal discs.

      2. Cat Tree*

        At my first job out of college, I had a terrible, passive-aggressive boss (unfortunately not the worst in my career though). We had a compressed workweek option over the summer, where you could work extra hours Monday through Thursday and take off every other Friday. One of my senior coworkers used this option, and also took PTO for many of the other Fridays. Our boss made several disapproving comments about this strategy, although of course he never directly told him to stop. None of us understood why the boss even cared. This coworker always worked more than 40 hours a week and got his work done on time. He used the company benefits that he’s already entitled so he could spend Fridays with his kids during the summer. Why did the boss act like this was some kind of exploitative luxury, when he could have done the exact same thing?

    6. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I used to work Mon-Thur – simply because I was hired part-time (and therefore paid a lower hourly rate than those doing the same job but full-time). As I headed out the door on a Thursday night, I would wish my colleagues a great weekend. Someone invariably would answer that it was great for me, having a 3-day weekend. I simply retorted that all they’d have to do was ask the boss, who would be delighted if they squeeze five days work into four (I actually produced more in four days than my colleagues in five) and take a cut in their hourly rate as well. They soon shut up. (Unfortunately, turnover was pretty high there so I had to say it to each new employee).
      Anyway, OP could just say “well you could negotiate the same with the boss if you’re prepared to take a pay-cut” and that would probably be enough.

  3. Boba Feta*

    I am in higher education and I sincerely hope that that graduate student got more than just reassigned: If this is a person who is in training to go into social work , it is unconscionable of that program to allow them to finish their studies and go out into the world and serve vulnerable populations if they’re not only are willing to give such misguided advice to students (from a position of being the “expert” whose advice must be followed) but then to also double down and lie about it when confronted by administration. If there’s an ethical requirement for that degree, this person would fail it!

    1. Ra ra rasputin*

      I’m going to be super snarky here, but having taught a few classes with social work grad students, this sort of attitude and mindset is not even close to uncommon. There was a really weird amount of entitlement and lack of critical thinking among those students. It might have been a one off, but I got the impression that a lot of them, ironically, come from decent money which is why they were able to float the grad school costs and be comfortable taking a low paid job.

      1. Boba Feta*

        Not snarky at all, and I absolutely believe you. I’m in humanities, not human services, but I’m familiar enough with the moneyed/ “entitled” species of graduate student, which seems to afflict a wide range of disciplines. I just find it particularly appalling when it’s in something that can have a real, direct and negative effect on people, and the most vulnerable at that. As long as such graduate programs require big bucks to complete, this will continue to be a consequence.

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

          As the kid of social worker, I’ve heard enough stories of abusive and racist people in their ranks to drive me off the field.

          1. Quill*

            I feel that the selection bias of doing thesis prep with social work students and religious studies students may have unfairly given me a rosy picture of social workers, because NO ONE is worse than the worst religious studies students.

      2. Ally McBeal*

        I’ve known three people who got their MSWs – one came from money and left the field after a couple years when she got burned out by how difficult the field is. The second is from a midde-class background, scraped and saved his way through it, and now is building a name in his field for his great work with trans folks. The third paid her way through grad school by exotic dancing and now works with sex worker populations.

        I know anecdata doesn’t mean much when you’re generalizing, but your comment absolutely rang true for me.

      3. AKchic*

        Spent a decade working in rehab/social work. The counselors were pretty equally split between former addicts wanting to “give back” (whether they actually *should* at that point in their life was not ever a topic of discussion, but in some cases, should have been), “enthusiastic do-gooder” (background negligible), or “well-heeled with good intentions but no real-world understanding of what the population they are serving actually needs”.
        Enthusiastic do-gooders burned out quick and couldn’t afford to keep doing what they were doing unless they married someone well-off (it happened once in a while, but most likely not).

      4. Artemesia*

        In my experience counselors with an MSW background were far more competent than counselors with other ‘counseling’ degrees. But I am sure you are right that there are many who shouldn’t be there — programs that prepare counselors of any stripe tend to not be very demanding to get into or very rigorous in weeding out those who should not be in the profession. I once had such a program under my administrative purview along with other professional masters programs and found it difficult to insist on stronger standards for both entry and continuance in the program.

      5. RC Rascal*

        I had a similar experience with student counseling when I was in a full time MBA program at one of our nations top universities. I was having family issues and went in for counseling. Their advice ?

        Drop out. Yep , that was the advice. I quit them and went to someone off campus.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          so you did drop out, just not out of what they meant you to drop out of!
          I do hope you managed to finish your MBA!

          1. Wren*

            I think RC means they quit the counsellor and sought off campus services, it that they quit their mba program.

      6. CatMom*

        I came here to say something similar. I haven’t taught social work but coincidentally during college I got to know a good number of the social work students at my school, and the blatant ableism, classism, and racism I witnessed from many of them was really alarming. Of course, there are also lots of social workers who aren’t like that, but no, I wouldn’t be shocked at all to hear that attitude from a social work student, sadly. It’s really something that needs to be addressed head-on in programs, particularly those that have a majority of students coming from a privileged background!

      7. Masquerade*

        As an undergrad, I worked with quite a few of these graduate students and unfortunately picked up that vibe too. I sat on a panel of undergraduates that heard appeals from students who were getting kicked out of on-campus living (usually for drugs/underage drinking in the dorm). Whether or not the student was evicted usually depended on how much paperwork the graduate student felt like doing that day, despite what the undergraduate panel recommended.

        We had a super lonely out-of-state kid try weed once because that was the first time anyone had invited them to do anything, and they didn’t want to pass up a chance at a friend after a few lonely months. Student got caught and was extremely remorseful, and even took it upon themselves to research potential detrimental effects of marijuana and present their findings to us, in addition to other steps they were taking to make different friends (and even wore professional attire to the panel, which was uncommon).

        The undergrads tried to come up with a ton of suggestions for other ‘punishments’ besides eviction (essays, the school’s version of AA, etc), and the grad student overseer was basically like, ‘nahhhh’ to everything even after the undergrad explained that they’d have to drop out if they lost on-campus housing. It was extremely disheartening, especially since other students got to stay on campus after doing much worse things (getting caught smoking weed and straight up telling us they would do it again on campus, pulling knives, stalking). Looking back, I wish I had done more or reported it like the OP here did.

        1. Dragon_Dreamer*

          Poor kid. I hope karma bit that grad student HARD. I had to drop out of my first college because I got pulled off a medication too quickly and had seizures while living in the dorms. The school didn’t want the “liability.” I couldn’t get a drivers license, and they thought that off campus housing was an acceptable solution. Never mind that the closest was over a mile away and it was a rural area. To top it off, they ruled that because I could still medically attend classes, I could NOT have a medical withdrawal.

          It took nearly 20 years to have the four Fs on my transcript changed to Ws. Apparently, my Disability Services coordinator at the university where I got my first degree contacted them and got them to change it. She threatened them, saying that I could still bring legal action against them under Title IX for discrimination. Thank goodness for good advocates.

          1. Flora*

            Your disability services coordinator is a superhero. IME, those folks are overworked, underpaid, underrespected, and over…expected? The faculty expect them to do not just the education of how to make sure this student is equitably able to participate, but also actually do the work of translation to whatever other format or whatever. Going back and unmaking garbage behavior decades later is above and beyond.

      8. Anonymous Introvert*

        I was in a service sorority in college (we did community service on campus/in the community) and my alma mater has popular and rigorous social work and education programs. Some of the cruelest and most vile women in the org were social work or education majors. When I served as president, I had to help one sister decide if she should press assault charges against another (an education major!!!) for intentionally exposing her to her anaphylaxis-inducing allergen repeatedly. The same girl and her clique (all ed or SW majors iirc) bullied at least two other people out of the org, but no one wanted to speak up and talk to me so I couldn’t do anything. I graduated a couple years ago and it still haunts me that people getting an education to help others could be so needlessly cruel to those they called friends and sisters, and that I wasn’t able to do more to help them. The university is also predominantly white and upper middle class nestled in a city with a large immigrant population and most residents live at or below the poverty line, so there’s a lot of white saviour-ism and internalised racism going on there. So yeah, I can absolutely see probably 85% of the SW majors I know pulling this crap and not seeing any problem with it.

      9. lazy intellectual*

        I have a similar perception of my grad school classmates who specialized in international humanitarian studies.

      10. Prof Space Cadet*

        I’n two days days late here and it’s unlikely many people will see this, but as another academic, I wanted to chime in. Most of the grad students in my proram are great (I’m a social scientist), but I know exactly the type of person you’re talking about. At one of my former universities, some of the academic advisors seemed to be weirdly obsessed with rule-following to the point that they made up imaginary rules to hamstring students with. I’m not really sure why they did it other than it was a power thing. I have no doubt that similar types of people might be attracted to MSW or counseling programs (in fact, many of them we M.Ed. students in counseling).

    2. EPLawyer*

      that struck me too. If her attitude is “oh any disability means no work for you” that is incredibly insulting and demeaning. She knew it was wrong too, or why lie about it when asked. This person shows EXTREMELY poor judgment.

      1. Eye roll*

        And yet, they moved the grad student – who lied about the contents of a recorded meeting – to financial aid? Where some judgment, accountability, and honesty is also expected? I can only hope they parked the grad student in a corner and don’t allow them to do anything there.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          My hope is they are something akin to the department front desk person – who has no more responsibility than letting counselors know their appointment has arrived.

        2. Artemesia*

          but she is apparently going to be allowed to finish the program and go forth as a professional counselor to inflict this judgment on the vulnerable. This — the lying particularly — should have meant being sent down from the program.

        3. Lisanthus*

          Yeah, that appalled me too. Especially if the grad student starts screwing up in ways that might get the US Department of Education involved.

          I mean, maybe they won’t. But if they lied about what they said in a recorded meeting my trust in them not to lie to other students or otherwise screw up would be less than zero and I would never let them near anything of consequence. Which in financial aid is…um, everything.

        4. Anonys*

          Yeah, this is crazy to me too! I really hope they at least had an extremely serious conversation with her and have put her under strict supervision in her new role. But it’s still ridiculous. At the minimum, they should have not let her continue this “placement” this semester and made her do it at a later point, after re-assessing that she had learned and maybe done some additional training around disability issues.

          I mean, since she apparently think anyone who needs 2 hours off work every month should get full disability benefits, maybe she will be extremely generous with financial aid? More likely though, she might think anyone who cannot afford it shouldn’t be in college.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Coming from the standpoint of having a relative that supervises grad students in this type of program – yup, some grad students are very entitled acting, and they figure they can get away with it because they play the odds of their recorded session being reviewed while the professor/supervisor is multitasking and getting away with it – hence the lie. But to me the lie also indicates they thought they could get away with their putrid and potentially illegal advice.

    3. knitter*

      Yeah, I see this a lot in education (particularly in high-poverty districts) too–People entering the field to “help” but actually depriving people of their agency.

      As a person who works closely with fabulous social workers, I was angry and frankly fearful for the clients who would be assigned to a social worker like this.

    4. Boba Feta*

      All this to say, I’m very happy that the OP brought this to light and that it got the Dean’s attention. You did well, there OP, and I wish you great success in your new job!

    5. Observer*

      Yes, I was thinking this.

      I mean it is GOOD that the advisor immediately launched an investigation and moved this person out of counseling. But, still. This is BAD and I can’t think of any area of social work where this kind of thing would not be a problem.

      1. Artemesia*

        but they didn’t dismiss her from the program — they just kicked the can down the road and now this person will be graduating and serving the vulnerable with this viciousness.

        1. PT*

          I saw an article somewhere that said Master’s in Social Work are cash cow degrees for universities. That is probably why.

          1. Artemesia*

            All masters degrees are cash cows and the less technical the more so. They are very cheap to run and they rarely provide financial aid and then students having paid and studied often can’t get jobs because masters degrees just price them out of competition. Too many students get a masters when they can’t think of what to do or can’t get a job and it just puts them in a worse situation. I think it is very unwise to get one that is not required for employment in a field unless one already has a job and this will facilitate promotion.

    6. Not A Girl Boss*

      Yes – especially since she was reassigned to work financial aid.

      I had more than one sobbing meltdowns in the financial aid office while I was in school while the workers stared at me unsympathetically. The combination of absolute terror I wouldn’t be able to afford school, and the awful attitude of the financial aid workers I encountered was pure hell. The financial aid office definitely doesn’t need more of this person’s kind.
      In particular I am remembering the time I got audited for my federal student loans, and they wouldn’t tell me what paperwork I needed to provide, just kept telling me over and over again that the paperwork I gave them wasn’t the right one. The financial aid worker treated me like such a criminal and nothing got resolved for weeks until I ambushed the head of the financial aid department in the parking garage (not my finest moment). Turns out I had put my internship end date as 8/30 on one piece of paperwork and 9/1 on another and they needed proof of which date it was. But they sent me to as far-flung places of getting my dad’s businesses’ entire tax filings for 3 years, which was a Whole Thing because my dad didn’t want me to see his businesses’ financials, but no one except me was allowed to submit financial aid paperwork.

      1. irene adler*

        A difference of just two days??
        I’m sorry you were put through this.

        I hope your parking garage ambush totally freaked out the financial aid dept head. Serves them right.

      2. Le Sigh*

        I’m sorry you went through that, nor am I surprised. My experiences with financial aid were never that difficult, fortunately. But, even with a better experience, I very much relate to feeling forever on a tight rope, knowing that a false move could cost you at least a semester of school or tons of debt. And in the U.S. it’s such a confusing process that even though the aid office was generally perfectly pleasant, the confusion and anxiety over money (while trying to navigate so much else) was exhausting.

        1. Not A Girl Boss*

          Yes, in general I know I would handle things better now as an adult, but the stress of fitting in homework around hours I had to spend standing in line at the financial aid office, plus the complete lack of control over my ability to afford school, was a bit too much for young me. Which I imagine is a common thing, and why it actually kind of make sense to have social workers (just please this particular social worker) staff those offices.

          1. Le Sigh*

            and it’s not just once a year getting the fafsa forms done (a nightmare on its own). i remember breaking down in tears a few days into freshman year b/c while i had a financial aid package and outside scholarships, i was so confused about what funds paid for my meal plan v. tuition v. books. once i sorted the process out it was much easier, but it wasn’t like there was just one account to use. i was forever having to scrape together enough funds to pay for books until some scholarship reimbursed me, setting up work study to pay other bills, and doing the math on how much in loans to take out to get me through the semester without drowning in debt…

            1. anon for this*

              I had a full-tuition scholarship plus another smaller one that was supposed to cover books and all the various fees. The smaller one required me to pay upfront and submit it to the granting organization for reimbursement. I was always stressing and scraping together enough money at the start of each semester to get everything paid, and I was usually late on rent until the reimbursement came through.

              Don’t get me started on the FAFSA. My parents refused to give me any of the required documentation. Then I had to prove I was on my own. I learned way too much about navigating bureaucracy at the age of 17 trying to figure all this out for the first time.

              1. Le Sigh*

                The parental requirements regarding FAFSA are terrible (or at least were in the early 00s). I’ve had more than one friend who was in your situation (and had to wait until they were 24 to go to college). And the aid fluctuates with parental income — one year I’d have a pretty okay package, the next they’d claim my parents had enough to contribute $10,000 to the program, based on their income. The reality is my parents didn’t actually have that to contribute and so I was going to have to take that out in loans.

                Also, scholarship programs that make you submit for reimbursement boggle my mind. Mine were all need-based — where the hell was I going to come up with $500 to buy books if I was broke? I needed that money upfront! Don’t be so obtuse!

      3. HelenOfWhat*

        AGH. My aunt works in financial aid and even with her help (with forms and such, she worked at another school) I still managed to screw up part of the process my freshman year leading to an unintended gap year. The office at my college didn’t care at all. It’s so stressful to have everything on you at the same time as you’re trying to complete courses.
        She’s also mentioned when we talked about work that she has some coworkers who are Very Lazy and don’t do more than the bare minimum to help students. The example she gave was very similar – the student needed to provide some document and the assigned counselor refused to give a specific answer for weeks (my aunt ran into the student and helped immediately, thankfully). When my aunt asked the coworker about it the answer was just “well he should know!” There are awful people in every industry/job.

        1. Le Sigh*

          omg the assumption people should just know stuff when it comes to dense, complex processes! my mother has been in and out of hospitals the few years and while so many hospital staff are very nice and patient, soooo many have just assumed we should know about X piece of insurance information or X test procedure or whatever. i’m not a doctor! i’m not a medical biller! this stuff is so complicated and i promise i’m not trying to make your life harder, there’s just so much i don’t even know to ask!

        2. AKchic*

          over 20 students ended up going *home* 30 days into the fall semester at UAF this year because of Financial Aid. My son was one of them. Nobody told them specifically why. Just their loans weren’t processing properly. All of them decided it was easier to turn in their dorm keys and go home rather than try to fight with it. Parents weren’t given any information. As if pandemic stress wasn’t enough.

      4. I'm just here for the cats*

        OMG my last semester at Community College before I transferred to Univeristy was similar to this. Paperwork had changed that year and I guess my mom hadn’t signed all the forms. I took the forms to the office and the front desk lady pointed out the missing signature. My mom was picking me up from school that day and I said I would get it and bring it back later. She kept all the forms except that one. A few hours later, with a signature page in hand, and gave the form back to the same person. I thanked her and went on with my life, until I get a message a month later stating that I hadn’t turned in my paperwork. I went to the Financial Aid office and spoke with the desk. I said I gave them to you. I had to redo everything again and because I was late I lost my Work Study. I said that I had turned everything in early and they lost my paperwork. Lesson learned if a few pages of forms are missing keep all the forms until you have everything needed.

      5. Sis*

        And situations like this are exactly why, when I was teaching college students, I recommended they remind various people at the University departments where they were having trouble that they would someday be alumni who the university would want donations from. And that the quality of service at any university department was going to affect their willingness to support their alma mater.

    7. OrigCassandra*

      I do my best to keep my tendencies toward fiery confrontation way the heck away from my students, as is only right and proper…

      … but the rare case where one of my professional-program students (not social work) pulls this kind of garbage is where I will let out just a tiny bit of Inner OrigCassandra. Seems to happen most often around technology access and skills, for what it’s worth — “how do they Not Know X” and the like.

      They don’t do it twice in my presence, I’ll say that.

    8. Social Worker*

      As a licensed social worker in higher education working with students with disabilities, this is very discouraging to hear. I would argue that her actions violated multiple social work ethical principles and values: dignity and worth of a person, social justice, and integrity in particular. This graduate student should not have been moved to another office, she should have been placed on probation (at the very least) for her actions.

      OP, I am so sorry that you had this experience! I know that you have moved on to greener pastures (congrats on the job, you deserve it!), but I want to affirm that you are the only person who knows your own capabilities and limits. This person did not have the right to tell you what to do with your life, because she will never be the one living it. Sorry that people can be so rude and presumptuous. I am glad that you found a job that appreciates you and wish you a wonderful career!

    9. BJS*

      +1. Also, why was she reassigned to financial aid, where there is also all manner of sensitive information?

      1. H.C.*

        Depending on the role & the info security policies/practices the university has in place – she wouldn’t necessarily have access to private info. As to why she’s reassigned there, guessing it was an easy transfer (they have an opening that fits that student’s “on paper” skillset.)

    10. Elsie S. Duble-Yoo*

      As a social worker and someone with experience supervising students getting their MSW I 100% agree with this. This is appalling behavior. Ignorance is one thing, but 1)not consulting anyone else to confirm this was the best thing to tell OP [this is an assumption on my part] and 2) LYING about it when called out are unacceptable behaviors that need to be addressed. I really hope someone in her MSW program was notified, not sure how this job works and if they would have had any say in the girl’s reassignment.

      1. Forrest*

        It’s the lying that really stands out to me. Saying completely the wrong thing when a client or patient presents you with a scenario you’ve never encountered before because you fall back on prejudice is a not uncommon reaction for people on the early stages of healthcare, counselling and social work degrees. The test of whether you should join the profession is what you do next. Acknowledging a fuck-up, reflecting on it ans taking responsibility for doing better is fine. Lying when asked about it—especially when the session is recorded!— is so far beyond the pale you should not be admitted to the profession or continue to be employed as a student.

    11. TM*

      I’m also sad to see them in the financial aid office. There’s an area where empathy and good communication is really needed.

    12. Birdie*

      Completely agree. I’m also wondering a lot about the initial placement/training process, because when I started my academic advising career as a graduate student, I was VERY conscious of what I was qualified to advise on. If a person can’t identify the limits of their own knowledge and can’t resist the urge to bluff their way through an answer they’re not 100% sure about, they should not be advising, period. I’m very glad OP trusted their regular advisor enough to say something and that they took such decisive action. I’m hoping the SW program also recognizes the issue and doesn’t let it end there.

    13. deesse877*

      My understanding is that there are indeed ethical standards like that in university programs that lead to a credential….but there is often also, in social work and other helping professions, a culture of “better than you” as OP and others have described, which makes it a coin flip as to whether a clear ethical violation like this would actually be recognized as such. Never mind that we may be talking about an unfunded Masters program here too.

    14. pancakes*

      +1. I recoiled when I read “reassigned to another office on campus (financial aid).” People receiving or applying for financial aid should not have to struggle with this aggressively inept student!

  4. Tbubui*

    I’m so glad you got a good job! If they’re going to have students working for credit at a career centre they need to give them some sort of training about diversity and inclusion. I’m not sure how I feel about the student simply being transferred to financial aid since they’ll still be working with vulnerable populations. Hopefully there were some behind-the-scenes consequences.

    On a person note, as a disabled university student, I am sadly not surprised that your career centre was a) terrible and b) ableist. I was told by the disability services at my own (Canadian) university that I was too disabled to be a university student.

      1. Tbubui*

        Yep. Because I told her that I would miss class sometimes (approx. 2x per month) and was wondering what accommodations I could get (I went to a rural school in northern Canada so had never had any accommodations before).

        1. Rock Prof*

          That is absolutely wild that they told you that. As a professor, that sort of accommodation wouldn’t even register to me as even marginally complicated.

          1. Tbubui*

            I’m not sure how it is in other programs but it’s a big deal in my health sciences-based undergrad program. A lot of the professors are pretty ableist and kind of clueless about disabilities in general, let alone the idea that young people can have disabilities. It’s been a constant fight since I started university and I’m pretty burned out.

            I’m just so glad the OP got support from their advisor and that the Dean’s office took their concerns seriously. I can’t even imagine that happening where I go to school.

            1. Saby*

              That is… what??? I hope you have considered making a human rights complaint, because oof, although I totally understand that might be more work/effort than it’s worth when you’re already been fighting. Depending on where you are there may be other recourses too — I work in post-secondary education in Ontario and the administration does take the AODA very seriously (or at least, the possibility of facing negative repercussions from not being AODA compliant) even if some individual instructors are garbage.

              1. Tbubui*

                I don’t want to out myself but needless to say my province has essentially zero supports or protections for people with disabilities, let alone students. I’ve been trying to fight against ableism in my program for over two years and have made no progress. I’m (hopefully) graduating this spring so I’ve just given up. They’re not going to change any time soon. I just hope I can find an employer that’s better than my university.

          2. Three Flowers*

            This. As a professor, if my students missed a bunch of classes, it was often for mental health reasons, and I spent a lot of time hooking them up with counseling and working out incompletes so they could make up work, not telling them they shouldn’t be in school. Egads.

        2. anon for this*

          …dude. I missed between a quarter and a third of my classes most terms. I still managed to graduate. Twice a month shouldn’t even register!

          1. TechWorker*

            At my university I wouldn’t have been allowed to miss tutorials, but those were small groups and I think would have just been rearranged. Lectures though? Essentially completely optional. Some of my courses I went to the first, decided the lecturer was awful and gave up for the rest of term. Other times the sleep was more important…

    1. Artemesia*

      I am stunned by this. Even 40 years ago and more I worked with students in higher ed who were profoundly disabled and who could succeed in school with appropriate assistance. To be employed on graduation was trickier — it is very hard for someone paralyzed, or blind or with a genetic bone disease that makes mobility difficult to find work although the computer age has made this easier, but it is entirely possible for any person with intellectual ability to complete a university program.

      1. Tbubui*

        It’s really nice to hear about some success stories, since that type of support has been completely missing from my university experience. And the OP’s update helps as well, since it gives me some hope that I can find an employer that’s reasonably understanding of disabilities and accommodations.

        1. OrigCassandra*

          I’m also appalled and sorry this is happening to you. I’ve had quite a few students with various kinds of disability in my classes, and it’s never occurred to me to do anything but properly accommodate them.

          Why are people.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            yes, me too. And they’re always so apologetic that it means five minutes poking at the computer to ensure that they have 1/3 extra time during the exam, or that attendance requirements are waived for them. I keep saying, no need to apologise, it’s not like you chose to be disabled!

      1. Tbubui*

        I don’t have much faith the CHRT. I tried to get a case seen by them back in high school for a completely different reason (severe pervasive sexual harassment and groping of all female students by male peers) and it got nowhere. But thank you for posting the link since someone in a similar situation might have a better chance than I did.

  5. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

    If you’re comfortable with it, I think it would be fine to let people know that you’re going to a medical appointment when they say you’re lucky to get to leave early. That’s really obnoxious of them, even if they are just saying it inanely and not actually being passive aggressive. You don’t have to, obviously, but if it starts making you feel bad, it might make them stop. You are literally giving up your weekend to be sick so as to not inconvenience your employer more than necessary, it’s not like you’re getting out of work.

    1. Mina*

      this. the above comment says it all. again, don’t feel you have to disclose anything about your illness, but, don’t feel you need to hide the ramifications either.

  6. Admin 4 life*

    I remember reading your original letter and wanting to have words with the person who advised you. There are definitely more accommodating workplaces and I’m happy to hear that you found one.

  7. Anonny*

    I have to admit, as a professional petty bastard, I would have been tempted to unmute my microphone and let them hear my stomach’s… contributions.

      1. Stacy*

        My coworkers and I have made up a similar title for doing things like that. It’s called Karma Coordinator

  8. Web Crawler*

    Reminds me of the doctor who told me to drop out of school instead of giving me migraine meds. I’m glad you found a company that understands! (I did too. It’s funny how sometimes the people who are trying to be “supportive” by squashing your dreams are worse than the world at large.)

      1. PT*

        Migraine meds can’t be used recreationally, and the sort of pain meds that can be abused don’t typically work for migraines. If the doctor thought that, they have some very serious gaps in their education.

        1. Suzanne*

          I was just coming here to say this! Although if you take too many of the migraine meds (the non-pain meds) you can get what is known as a rebound headache. HOWEVER you can inform the patient of this and work up a plan.

          Also pain medication does help with the pain part of the migraine. At least it does for me; it may not for everyone.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            Ironically, the addictive pain medicines don’t work a damn on the pain part of my migraines but the OTC stuff like Tylenol does. So there’s very little reason for anybody to look suspiciously at my migraine meds… if anybody can get a high out of a combination of Tylenol and sumatriptan, they’ve got a very strange neurological system!

        2. Lyudie*

          I use the Maxalt melting tablets. They taste like minty death. No one would recreationally use those more than once, I think.

      2. Observer*

        You mean that you think that the doctor was a totally incompetent idiot? Sure, that’s highly likely. But even the most incompetent doctor should know that opioids and narcotics are not the medications of choice for migrain.

        1. JustaTech*

          I had a doctor inform me that she would not continue my prescription for my ADHD medication, and that this was clearly stated on her website (it wasn’t). When I finally found the “what I won’t prescribe” on her website the only thing it mentioned were barbiturates, which are completely and totally different from ADHD medications (depressant vs stimulant).

          Incompetent or lazy or afraid to actually prescribe anything, I don’t know and don’t care.

        2. Cat Tree*

          Just like any other group of people, some doctors just aren’t great. I’m pregnant now and my friend warned me against a certain OB practice because after she gave birth, they were resistant to giving her Ibuprofen and thought she was med seeking. For an OTC painkiller. She had a lot of tearing and stitches after the birth, and she had to basically smuggle in OTC pain meds.

          1. Observer*

            This is not just “not great”. This is flat out malignant incompetence.

            It’s also extremely disturbing to me how many OB’s are flat oot misogynists.

          2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            Particularly weird for ibuprofen – that’s such a common, boring OTC pain med. I’ve found the phrase “usually, I take ibuprofen for a pain med if I need one, since I tolerate it well and it’s cheap – do you think that would be ok this time/for this issue?” to be the key phrase to get urgent care/walk-in clinics to stop worrying if I’m pill-seeking and focus solely on whatever my issue is (usually wanting an x-ray to confirm sprained versus broken on something – my long-time doctor was a solo practitioner who didn’t have an x-ray machine and didn’t work weekends, so I’d often end up at a chain of walk-in clinics that would also count as a regular office visit on my insurance for injuries). Ibuprofen is something you can buy in giant containers at Costco and has no entertaining recreational side effects that I’m aware of.

  9. Former call centre worker*

    OP, please tell your job that you are not available for meetings for the rest of the day after you leave early and if they need you there they’ll have to reschedule! No reasonable workplace would want you attending meetings from your bathroom.

    1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

      Honestly, I’d like to see OP in the future taking her appointments on a Thursday (or whatever day) and another day to be sick, or even just take the whole Friday, instead of giving up her entire weekend once a month. Obviously that’s a slightly bigger ask, but as time goes on and OP gets older, having fewer weekends to do stuff could lead to faster burnout.

      But yeah, something I learned as I got older is that supportive, reasonable workplaces won’t demand that you jump through hoops to accommodate them to your utmost capacity. Depending on the workplace and job, in pre-pandemic norms, you could stay home sick even if you might possibly be able to work through it. You can take a whole or half day for an appointment without your manager quibbling to get you back in the office. You don’t need a note from your mom, you can be trusted to decide for yourself to call off. And a reasonable manager would not want you worrying about a meeting while you’re throwing up.

    2. Malarkey01*

      I know she left that job, but just FYI as you asked for a formal accommodation and they granted it, you can absolutely hold to that and say sorry won’t be on Fridays meeting. This is actionable. They can later try to change accommodations, but I’d love to hear them argue that a once a month Friday afternoon meeting is so critical it’s not a reasonable accommodation to move it or have you not attend.

  10. OperaArt*

    So the grad student 1) lied, and 2) was not smart enough to remember the meeting was recorded. That says so much about their lack of suitability for their field of study.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        I really have to wonder what she said when her superiors took this up with her after listening to the recording…

        1. armchairexpert*

          Probably “I didn’t intend it to come out that way, I just meant […], although now I hear the recording I can see how it was misconstrued”.

  11. HR Jeanne*

    I’m so glad you wrote in and took steps to work with your school to make this right! That was terrible advice, and I’m so glad you found a job that accommodates your appointment. As an HR Manager I can tell you that this is not a big deal and it will be rare that any job will have an issue with this. So glad you found a great role, and hopefully the grad student isn’t wreaking havoc in Financial Aid.

  12. Jaybeetee*

    Well I’m glad you pushed back, and I hope there were some more severe consequences for that student than what you saw, as that was terrible and harmful advice. I’m also sorry that your first job wound up being such jerks about something that really is such a minor accommodation – who has regular Friday afternoon meetings anyway?

    After all that, I’m glad you’re finally in a situation that gives you this (seriously!) minor accommodation with minimal fuss. Ignore the clock watchers – every workplace seems to have its busybodies. If your bosses are fine, that’s the part that matters.

    1. KHB*

      “who has regular Friday afternoon meetings anyway?”

      We do. Not every Friday, but once a month – and it’s always on a Friday. Why shouldn’t we? Obviously, if we had someone on the team with a medical situation like OP’s, we’d rearrange the schedule to accommodate that, but as it is, we don’t, and Friday afternoon is just as much a part of the work week as any other time.

      1. BubbleTea*

        My company is very good about flexible working and making roles part time if needed, and if people work three or four days they usually don’t work either Monday or Friday, so we never have meetings those days. If everyone is full time I guess it doesn’t apply.

      2. Jaybeetee*

        Fair enough. I work at a place that offers compressed workweeks and every second Friday off (or another day, I guess, but most people pick Friday). I don’t do a compressed week myself, but during a normal, non-pandemic summer you can shoot a canon through my building on Friday afternoons.

  13. Janey-Jane*

    Do any other college career counselors feel slightly vindicated that it was an academic advisor, and a grad student at that? (To be fair, the academic advisors I know are more competent than a lot of career counselors…also to be fair, at some institutions they are the same person or office; just not at any I’ve worked at.).

    Also surprised you had a recording, but obviously that was great for you! I certainly have seen students occasionally come back with wildly different interpretations of what was said in the meeting (usually around resume advice… I know I did not tell you to make it into an infographic), but this was such an awful bit of advice.

    To top it off they moved her to Finaid?? Where you can really do some damage, both to students and the institution? Oooft.

    1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

      Hopefully she’ll just be processing things, and not have any room for applying her own interpretations or advising students or parents. Hopefully. She is seriously lacking in judgment, both in regard to applying her assumptions and in expressing them as fact to others.

    2. I_CanHasSinglePayerPlz?*

      I feel like there’s a lot less subjectivity in Financial Aid than in advising though. For sure they could do some damage by not telling people about aid programs they don’t think the student will qualify for. After that major judgement lapse I’m thinking the position they moved that grad student to is something more like filing applications. If it was me I’d make sure they weren’t in a student-facing role at all.

      At least I can hope!

    3. Observer*

      It depends on the role they moved her to. I hope it’s not a student facing role, that’s for sure!

    4. Three Flowers*

      Processing stuff in FinAid probably gives her less opportunities to take a crap on other people’s life experiences, but I sure hope she has absorbed the idea of confidentiality from her social work grad program. Blabbing about students’ financial aid info could cause a lot of harm.

    5. College Career Counselor*

      I remember this letter very well and commented at the time that the counselor was clueless. I’m exceedingly pleased the OP raised the issue and thrilled to hear that this social work grad student has been re-assigned, an apology issued, etc. Wherever she winds up (I suspect Fin Aid was to give her a place to go to fulfill her practicum hours), I hope there is some serious oversight. Because I sure as hell would not want to be that person’s client without it.

  14. Tehanu*

    Re: snarky coworkers. You can tell them or not, it’s not their business. And often people don’t realize that their ‘jokes’ are not really funny. I remember once as a young public servant, I had to leave work expectantly early, and one of the directors (who, btw, never took time off, came in every weekend, came in very sick, etc. etc.) made a comment “Oh, you’re leaving? Well, you can’t feel any worse than I am now.” I didn’t report to her, so I made polite murmurings and left. I still wish, fifteen years later, that I had snapped back with “mm, not sure of that? I am pissing blood as well as clots the size of nickels, and am running a fever due to the raging UTI. Should I wait until I pass out in the bathroom from the pain, or until the infection reaches my kidneys before going to the walk-in clinic?”

    1. Ama*

      Yeah back in the day when I was working an extremely overwhelming job that nearly gave me an ulcer due to stress and overwork, the only way I could stay on top of my workload was to have a complex organizational system where any paper forms put in my inbox were moved immediately to the appropriate file for what type of form it was and how urgently it needed to be processed.

      SO many coworkers would walk up, see my empty inbox and say “must be nice not to have anything to do.” Sometimes, if I wasn’t currently fighting back the urge to cry from stress and frustration, I would manage to say “actually my to do file is this entire drawer over here,” which usually shut them up (it was a VERY big file drawer).

      People in general can be incredibly myopic and not think about there being other explanations for why someone always has an empty inbox or leaves early on Fridays then the reasons THEY would have for those things.

      1. PT*

        I worked somewhere managers worked core hours, but might have to flex their hours to support a program outside of those hours (early morning, late night, weekends), or attend meetings or run a program offsite.

        You could be working 60+ hour weeks and get a snarky “Coming in late today?” if you had an early morning meeting offsite and spent the morning working somewhere else, or were staying until 10 pm supporting an evening program and thus came in an hour or two later than usual. Or “Ducking out early?” if you were heading out to hold down the fort at the program offsite for the next six hours. Or “Taking a three-day weekend?” if you took Friday off because you had to work a 10 hour day Saturday and Sunday.

        So infuriating.

        1. Artemesia*

          I took a one third pay cut to go part time when my second child was a toddler and had my boss say ‘oh I was looking for you yesterday but I guess you were out Christmas shopping’. I said, ‘as you know I am working part time now and took a hefty pay cut to do it’ — and he looked genuinely surprised. ‘oh I thought you just dropped that research project, I didn’t realize it meant a pay cut.’ Duh.

          1. Tau*

            I’m currently at 90% full time and have every Friday afternoon off – quality of life thing, at this point in my life I need more free time more than I need more money. I would very much side-eye any coworker who went “oh you’re lucky!” – uh, if you want a 10% pay cut I guarantee you you can negotiate this too. Just go talk to your boss and HR.

            (I’m wondering if OP can suggest something like this is happening, so that she stops getting the “lucky” comments without needing to go into medical detail, but it only works if this is legit a benefit anyone can access. I’m in Germany, some form of part-time is very typical, I think they’re actually legally obliged to give it to you if you ask and it’s not a major hardship to the business? I expect this arrangement might be more unusual in the US, and therefore harder to imply.)

  15. Lucy Day*

    OP, I’m so glad this was handled!

    I also want to let you know that my former boss needed to leave early on Fridays to observe the Sabbath. She was the Director of PR and had worked in communications for a variety of different organizations throughout her career. She also allowed me to leave early every other Friday for a few months for personal (non-health related!) reasons as long as my work was done or I had coverage from a colleague. Some managers/companies will make things difficult (as you unfortunately experienced), but so many will be understanding!

  16. Three Flowers*

    Yay OP! Congrats, and I’m so glad your university took the issue seriously.

    Sidebar: Alison, sometime can we have a Worst Advice Your Career Counselor Gave You roundup?

    1. Working Hypothesis*

      Really! The original column with this LW in it made me wish we had an annual Worst Advisor as well as a Worst Boss category. I know it wouldn’t work; there probably wouldn’t be one worth the excitement in miss years (although I totally support your idea of doing it once for a roundup of all the advice everyone has ever received from anyone; that’s a lot more feasible) — but I just really wanted some excuse to officially identify this grad student/advisor as the complete horror that she is.

      LW, so glad you got your apology and she got moved out of counseling students! I hope her job in FA is one which doesn’t allow her any leeway for judgment calls, since she’s proven she can’t make them; and I hope her educational program takes seriously the lack of judgment shown in her job and gives her plenty of counseling and coaching of her own before they turn her loose on unsuspecting clients.

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        I came here to day we need a worst advice roundup or category. There probably has been a column on it here!

        1. Three Flowers*

          I think there was a worst career advice you’ve ever received roundup some time back, but my impression is that “is this stupid advice?” questions and dumb advice stories around here tend to involve parents. I think there’s something distinctively awful about terrible advice from people whose job is literally to give career advice that is worth its own hootenanny. (And like Working Hypothesis, I sure wouldn’t mind voting on the worst!)

      2. Polly Hedron*

        > I hope her educational program takes seriously the lack of judgment shown
        > in her job and gives her plenty of counseling and coaching of her own
        > before they turn her loose on unsuspecting clients.

        I would prefer that she had been fired and expelled.

  17. Empress Matilda*

    OP, I want to highlight that the way they treated you in your previous part time job was really, really not okay. There is absolutely no way you should have been expected to be in meetings in that condition.

    Now that you have a bit of experience in the workforce – not to mention a whole bunch of internet strangers cheering for you! – I hope you’ll have the confidence to push back if something like that happens again. Please hold firm on the fact that you absolutely cannot join meetings on days when you have appointments. So the options are for them to reschedule the meeting or be okay with you missing it – but from now on, there is *no option* for you to join a meeting from your bathroom floor, okay?

    Reasonable workplaces will understand, and most won’t even be bothered by it. And if someone is bothered, or doesn’t appear to understand, then they’re telling you something important about the way they operate, and the way they value their employees. It’s not normal and it’s not healthy, and it’s a sign that you should be looking for a new job.

    /end Mom Voice. I’m glad to hear you’ve got such a great job now!

    1. Gamer Girl*

      Seconding your Mom Voice. OP, take a page out of the Victorian handbook on etiquette: you can allow yourself to be “not available”, even if you are in your own home! Set your auto-reply to “out of office”, set up a standing block that is blocked on your calendar, and turn off your notifications. The blockers are your virtual butler, telling everyone that you are “not in the office presently.”

      Also, any reasonable workplace would be absolutely fine with medical accommodations; something so predictable should barely register! I am gone one afternoon per week because of childcare. No one cares! I hope you feel able to take the time you need, even in the middle of the week sometimes so that you can actually have a restorative weekend after such a rough treatment.

  18. jm*

    i’m disgusted that the adviser wasn’t cut from the program entirely after displaying such harmful incompetence and LYING about it.

    1. RC Rascal*

      The lying is the issue. She is still a student , and the bad advice could have been a learning opportunity for her and a chance to re-examine her assumptions. But the lying is another story.

      1. Sylvan*

        Sorry, my point being: I totally agree! But I’m also weirdly a little bit hopeful about her being placed in financial aid.

  19. Bookworm*

    Thanks for the update, OP! Sorry it still took some time, but glad that grad student was reassigned and glad that you seem to be in a much more supportive situation.

  20. Girasol*

    What is it with employees who feel the need to say “You’re getting time off? Oh, yeah, must be nice!” whether it’s for a doctor appointment or illness or death in the family or even a well earned vacation? It seems ironic when workers themselves reinforce that sort of foolish and pointless butt-in-seat mentality that makes people avoid even taking time out that they deserve.

    1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      I think its because some of us have seen this type of thing abused by other coworkers (I personally had a coworker that was in the office for less than 4 hours a day and was clocking that she was working overtime because my manager was too afraid to manage anyone). Or there is an ‘office favorite’ that gets away with coming in late when you get yelled at. So people extrapolate that the person in question is gaming the system. It’s a hard mindset to break once you see it happen.

      1. pancakes*

        What does sniping at a person who does these things accomplish, exactly? It doesn’t seem at all helpful. In a workplace where a manager isn’t managing, for example, people making these kind of remarks is just adding an additional layer of misery, not removing any of what’s there. It’s just adding more antagonism to an already antagonistic scenario.

        1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

          Completely agree that it isn’t helpful. But I think it’s important to understand why we do the things we do so we can correct them. Or for the person who is getting the hate to understand that it’s not a comment meant to be antagonistic at them, it is a comment that meant to be a complaint about the office culture. It’s why I find it interesting that we see both sides of the equation in AAM letters, some are complaining about co-workers leaving early/arriving late, and some are asking why people are complaining that they, or a fellow co-worker that needs that time off, is doing so. But when you have a bad company culture, people take it out on each other and perpetuate it. Sometimes it’s not until you really take an introspective look (like I had to for myself) that you realize that the toxicity has changed how you act and that you are adding to the toxic environment instead of helping (one of the reasons why I left that job).

  21. NQ*

    I’m so glad this worked out! In my line of work, somewhat flexible time is necessary due to the nature of the job. This has made it in vogue for some employers to allow Friday afternoons off or reduced time, with time made up elsewhere in the week. A high % of people take advantage of it, mainly for childcare. Ok, very slightly different since there won’t be many meetings scheduled then, but my point is who cares when you’re in so long as your work gets done?!

  22. Kiki280*

    I cannot fathom why that advisor and the OP’s previous job acted like leaving early one Friday a month is such an insurmountable accommodation. There are several people in my job doing that just to use up their vacation days! The rest of the office has no problems working around this.

  23. Bob*

    She knew she screwed up as soon as she denied it.
    I’m glad she was reassigned but frankly she got off easy.
    I hope she cannot screw other people with that line of reasoning by denying or screwing up their financial aid if they have a disability.

    Is there a way to find out if she has that power? Its not your job of course but if she screws other people who don’t know their rights she could ruin many, many lives.

  24. HugsAreNotTolerated*

    I was confounded by why you would be given this advice in the first place and now we have an answer! Unqualified student workers being put in positions they shouldn’t be!

  25. Hummer on the Hill*

    IANAL, but I was struck by “They wanted me to come into the office (I had previously been working from home) but obviously I couldn’t and they guilted me enough about it that I ended up quitting.” Isn’t the LW part of a protected class? This is EEOC material, that and the Friday meetings.

  26. Peter B*

    I work in ADA compliance in higher education and making an accommodation for your medical appointments would be a very common and easy thing to implement. Please don’t think that is asking too much. In almost every office type job where work isn’t time-bounded this would be a simple thing to take care of from an ADA accommodations standpoint.

  27. Eda*

    I have to ask – is a certain amount of flex time not normal? I’ve had three “office jobs” (aka not retail) in my life so far. In all three, I can’t imagine it being any kind of deal at all to ask for adjusted hours once a month.

    1. Observer*

      It is TOTALLY normal in reasonable workplaces. Yes, there are some jobs where this could be a problem, but not as a general thing.

    2. Wigged out*

      I wouldn’t even notice if one of my coworkers left early one day, once a month! (Especially working from home, but even in Before Times. I might notice in the moment that Brenda is out, but I would almost immediately forget about it)

      But my work is very reasonable about people adjusting their hours for childcare, etc.

      1. Gamer Girl*

        No kidding. This flexibility should just be normal! How else are people supposed to deal with random medical appointments, admin stuff that has to be done on gov’t hours, and so on?

        Personally, I have thought about scheduling every other Friday off for part of 2021, and no one would bat an eye as long as it were in the calendar! What am I going to use my vacation time for otherwise?)

    3. Paquita*

      Not normal in many office jobs. I can’t flex time where I am at. I think management level can flex some but they mostly work the same hours as their direct reports.

    4. Blomma*

      I don’t think it’s a standard thing everywhere. At my previous job, it was ok to occasionally make up 2 hours for an appointment – but you could tell they really didn’t like it. At my current job, we can make up 4 hours for an appointment or because we need to leave early.

  28. Lauren*

    Hoo boy. I missed the original post but this is special. I have Crohn’s Disease and receive my medication through an infusion (an IV) every 5 weeks. It takes about 2.5 hours (plus travel time to my doctor’s office) and I will need this medication a) for the rest of my life b) until stops working and we have to find something else, potentially another drug administered through an infusion or c) a cure is found (fingers crossed for this one!!!). Like OP, my doctor’s office is only open during weekday business hours and the idea that I *wouldn’t* be able to work because I have to be out of the office for a FEW HOURS OF THE MONTH is mind-blowing. I’ve never gotten the impression that anyone was jealous of me for “getting time off” for this, but if they are, I’d gladly trade them my autoimmune disease and astronomically high healthcare costs for their chronically healthy body and extra cash! :-D

  29. lazy intellectual*

    UGH my college career office was also full of know-nothing grad students. Why do colleges insist on wasting students’ time and tuition money like this??

  30. Former Employee*

    Of course it looks like favoritism if someone can leave early on Friday. As a new employee, OP could be someone’s kid, niece, child of manager’s BFF, etc. Who knows. Sadly, given how much of that sort of thing goes on, I can understand why co-workers are suspicious.

    If I were in OP’s place, I would give fellow employees just enough information so that they understand it’s medical and not recreational time off.

    If I later became friendly with one or more of them, I’d probably share more details.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      No. There are plenty of legitimate reasons a person might work out some sort of altered schedule with their employer and it is never anyone else’s business. If OP wants to share some details with a few coworkers to shut them up then they certainly should feel free to, but they are owed no information. Maybe everyone could just be reasonable adults who recognize that they don’t know the details of everyone else’s lives instead of assuming “favoritism” or being “suspicious.”

  31. tangerineRose*

    At first, I thought the counselor was wrong but just didn’t know it, but now that she’s lied about it – she shouldn’t be a counselor.

  32. Donkey Hotey*

    What gets me the most about the former employer is that if you were to “accidentally” take yourself off mute while being sick, everyone would lose their minds (and probably spawn a few more letters here and elsewhere). But because you’re a considerate person, they continued to assume you were skating out from work.
    So frustrating! Glad you’ve found a new place that is more respectful to your needs.

    1. Bruce Wayne*

      I thought the same thing, if Company insisted on Friday afternoon calls, I would have “forgotten” to mute a time or two then sit back and watch it happen. Bet the invite would be rescinded ASAP! I do sincerely hope the letter writer is someday able to either find a future medical fix or a treatment with less side effects.

  33. DJ*

    This is why employers need a legislative boot to bring in flexible working hours for as many as possible. Then if others can have the occasional Friday afternoon off this would be a non issue.
    Who has meetings late on a Friday afternoon anyhow?

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